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UNDP’s innovative small-scale solar funding competition closes for applicants

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As part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, the Climate Aggregation Platform is running a competition for off-grid solar financing in Africa. The results will provide a range of development benefits, especially for remote communities.

New financing models to tackle the lack of electricity for Africa

As part of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of universal access to clean, affordable, reliable energy for all by 2030, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), through the Climate Aggregation Platform (CAP) is running a competition for off-grid solar financing in Africa. Applications have now closed for the first edition of the CAP Financial Innovation Challenge, which will cover East Africa. Aggregate funding projects like this are aimed at countering investment barriers and unlocking new financing for small-scale renewable energy projects, and the increased access to electricity will provide a range of development benefits, from giving farmers access to solar-powered irrigation to health facilities in villages no longer relying solely on diesel generators, to better-lit streets and roads for remote communities.

Aggregate funding reduces risk and encourages investment

Financing solar initiatives in Africa is not without risk or problems, and new sources of funding and new financing mechanisms are required if the necessary investment to meet the Sustainable Development Goal by 2030 is to be reached. In this case, the CAP is using financial aggregation, a process in which multiple energy assets, projects, and companies are compiled into investment portfolios. Investors choose to put money into these portfolios, rather than into specific initiatives.

This aggregation of projects reduces the risk to investors, as well as the transaction costs of investing in multiple projects, and can help counter investment barriers that would prevent these projects from being financed. A recent report from the UNDP and Climate Bonds has shown that financial aggregation has untapped potential in bringing financing to small-scale clean energy projects. Eduardo Appleyard, CAP project coordinator says, “while the market is still nascent, financial aggregation could one day be a game-changer for distributed renewable energy companies…through this process we want to spark a conversation about financial aggregation grounded in real-life examples to help demonstrate its potential and better understand market barriers and opportunities.”

The CAP Financial Innovation Challenge is open to solutions that involve financial aggregation at different levels, such as bundling individual assets, projects, or companies together, and also to other innovative aggregate models, such as carbon credit solutions, renewable energy certificates, innovative models for receivables financing, and digital aggregation platforms.

First initiative to choose five projects across East Africa

The CAP Financial Innovation Challenge will aid in the transfer of hands-on knowledge of solar energy applications that will help overcome energy-related challenges in East African countries. According to the UNDP, off-grid solar and mini-grids are the key to providing reliable electricity to under-served communities without access to electricity and to those that are in regions where the national grid is not reliable.

Off-grid solutions are standalone solar power collection systems operating independently of the main power grid. They are typically sufficient for phone charging and lighting but do not normally provide enough power for larger electricity loads such as powering machinery or agricultural equipment. Mini-grids are larger systems that provide an independent network for communities where the population is too small or remote to make a national grid extension feasible.

The first initiative is exclusively for projects in East Africa, and funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) will be given for up to five projects, with at least one project in Rwanda and Uganda each. Each winning company or organization will then receive $40,000 to develop their innovations.

Buy and sell-side actors welcome to enter

The competition was open to both buy-side actors such as banks, impact investors and financial intermediaries, as well as sell-side entities like project originators, developers, and energy companies. The competition was not open to individuals, but was open to almost any groups including governmental agencies, development banks, private sector entities, NGOs, academia, associations, and joint venture applications, in order to encourage maximum participation.

Both first-of-a-kind solutions that have not yet been attempted anywhere before and proven approaches adapted to a new market sector, geography, or context will be considered. Entries were originally to be stopped on the 31st of August 2022, however the deadline was extended to the 9th September.

No dates have yet been given for when the winners will be announced, but should the competition prove successful it is likely that further competitions to win aggregate funding opportunities will open up both on the African Continent and elsewhere in the world.

Photos : undp.org

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Realizing the digital potential of Africa requires a regional data governance framework

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There is an urgent need for a data governance framework across the region that is supported by robust, empowered institutions which can support development and allow for entrepeneurship to flourish, offering huge possibilities for the African continent.

Rapid digital growth could drive big developments in Africa 

Rapid digitization offers huge possibilities for the African continent, galvanizing regional developments like free trade areas and structural transformations that in turn promise economic and social growth. Moreover, with the pandemic proving that digital access is a necessity for all, creating secure, reliable digital infrastructure should be a priority for everyone. But while African countries have benefited from technological uptake across health care and economic sectors, there is a large digital gap, and threats ranging from digital monopolies, to lack of electricity, to inefficient regulation could slow this digital revolution. Implementing a data governance framework for the entirety of the continent is therefore a crucial next step.

A regional approach to data governance

A data governance framework is the collection of rules and processes that ensure privacy and compliance with enterprise data management in a country or region. With rising cybercrime, ransomware attacks, and identity theft, ensuring that all organizations and governments are following an established set of rules will offer safety to consumers and encourage confidence for entrepreneurs. There are two broad sets of laws:

  • Safeguard laws are the most well-known. These are laws focused on data protection and privacy, and in 2021 some 52% of African countries had enacted at least one form of data protection legislation.
  • Enabler laws are less commonly known. The idea of enabler laws is to support development outcomes, and policymakers in Africa should scale-up efforts on this type of policy. Investment into information technology infrastructure, improving technical skills in the region, and standardizing regulations particularly around e-commerce and financial transactions allows businesses to take advantage of digital opportunities.

While national efforts are ongoing, the data policy environment in Africa as a whole remains fragmented. Currently only eight African countries have ratified the Malabo Convention, a regional approach to data protection and cybercrime, and only six are participating in the World Trade Organization’s e-commerce negotiations to set up new global trading rules for e-commerce and digital trade.

Rapid growth constrained by infrastructure struggles

Before the continent can properly realize any kind of digital transformation, it must resolve a connectivity problem. In 2017 only 22% of the population had access to the internet, barring most of the continent from e-commerce and other new services. This holds back both startups, who struggle to attract funding, and established businesses who are slow to adopt digital technologies due to a lack of customers benefiting. While the ICT and mobile sectors have grown since then, especially after the Covid-19 pandemic started, millions in Africa still lack basic connectivity. In response to this, there are two main options being pursued:

  • Increasing sovereign debt to pay for new infrastructure, much of it Chinese-supplied. This strategy carries with it numerous other challenges, not least of which is transparency and corruption surrounding such deals, but also the predatory nature of many of the agreements.
  • Allowing the private sector to flourish by establishing the regulatory conditions in which it can grow. Too often in Africa the success stories of entrepreneurs are in spite of government interference, rather than as a result of it. African businesses have become well-practiced at circumventing government obstacles, rather than capitalizing on government policies.

A united, regional approach focusing on ‘enabler laws’ would help with this problem, and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) represents a key stepping stone towards a regional data governance and infrastructure policy that could start to change this environment.

From cybercrime to monopolies to offshoring

Even though infrastructure problems are slowly being resolved, a true, effective, regional data governance framework is important for promoting productive and inclusive growth on the continent. In order to ensure that technology complements and does not substitute workers, the digital literacy of Africa’s workforce needs to be increased, both in terms of hard and soft skills. This will help promote job opportunities, rather than replacing jobs with offshore jobs or automation.

There is also the threat from private businesses themselves. The current platform-based business model that dominates in the digital sector encourages a winner-takes-all, monopolistic paradigm which is especially harmful to developing economies. Still, leaving the solution with governments raises questions about data protection and citizen privacy. In both cases, it leads to high prices, poor quality of services, and potentially includes privacy violations for the customers and service users.

The intersection of all of these threats significantly affects the potential positive impacts of digitization on the African continent. There is an urgent need for a data governance framework across the region that is supported by robust, empowered institutions. This can foster a fair and competitive ICT market on the continent, promoting sustainable and productive growth.

Photos : cigionline.org – data4sdgs.org

 

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A circular approach to the economy promises huge gains for Africa

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Turning towards a ‘circular economy,’ one that focuses on avoiding waste, promoting repair and reuse, and embedding ecological principles, is quickly gaining popularity in the world, but the transition to a circular economy will require policies, incentives, new infrastructure, and business support to make the change a reality.

The Covid-19 Pandemic has shrunk the economies of nearly every country in the world, which has led to renewed calls to restructure economies to support more resilient future growth. Turning towards a ‘circular economy,’ one that focuses on avoiding waste, promoting repair and reuse, and embedding ecological principles, is quickly gaining popularity in the developed world. In Africa these principles have always been practiced both consciously and unconsciously, and the continent is in a very strong position to take advantage of this. With support from local governments, industry, and the international community, Africa could leapfrog the developed world in embedding the principles of the circular economy into its industrial growth and infrastructure development projects.

The calls for a new economic system

The 20th century has been characterized primarily by the ‘linear’ economy, one that heavily relied on the “make, take, dispose” model. This has been hugely successful in industrialized nations and generated massive amounts of material wealth, however the extraction of resources has been highly unsustainable, and in the early 21st century it became increasingly clear that this type of consumption would have severe consequences for ecosystem quality, human health, and food and water prosperity. With the world’s population growing at rapid rates, the impacts are only going to become more severe, and the need for a more sustainable economic system is undeniable. The circular economy has gained traction over the years as an effective approach to achieve global, national, and local sustainability. The principles of mindful ecological practices, repair and re-use of items, and avoiding waste could be the solution to guaranteeing sufficient resources for future generations.

The Circular Economy exists informally in Africa

The idea of re-use, repair, and refurbishment of goods instead of disposing of them is practiced in Africa, but much of it exists at a startup or informal level. In Senegal a company called Proplast produces plastic resin from recycled plastic waste. In Kenya, Ecopost turns plastic into building materials. Despite the 5 million tons of plastic Ecopost has up-cycled so far, the country still produces far more plastic every year than the company can handle. Other industries are more developed though. The high cost of luxury goods like electronic equipment or cars is prohibitive to many people on the continent so cheaper options must be found. In Nigeria, 95% of cars are second-hand vehicles, and in Ghana 80% of second-hand electronic products are re-used, repaired, or refurbished.

Challenges to the circular economy in Africa

The circular economy in Africa is mostly practiced at a small or informal level, but if the benefits are to be properly realized, a coordinated, strategic approach will be necessary. If this does not happen, there is the risk that companies will adopt token or even harmful activities under the name of ‘circularity.’ This could ultimately lead to even worse results, for example waste-to-energy initiatives could see sub-standard burning practices employed that create health risks.  In Agbogbloshie, Ghana, it is common to burn insulated copper wire. Once the plastic insulation is gone, the copper wire can be easily recycled for trade, however this process exposes workers to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide and other hazardous chemicals. Likewise, recycling initiatives with poor practices could see ‘pickers’ risking physical harm in landfill sites – a practice that is already common in much of the developing world. 

At the other end of the spectrum, switching to circular solutions would lead to large-scale shifts in industrial policy and this could risk job losses for those employed in resource extraction and processing. Careful consideration and management of these problems will be required in order to see a successful transition to a more sustainable economic system.

Making the circular economy a success for the continent

In a report by the World Economic Forum’s Circular Economy initiative titled “5 Big Bets for the Circular Economy in Africa,” the waste conversion, plastic waste recycling, e-waste recycling, mass timber, and garment recycling industries are identified as the sectors that can lead the charge towards a sustainable, circular economy on the continent. Training farmers to recover irrigation wastewater and converting food waste into organic fertilizer, instigating bottle deposit systems, conserving forests, and developing the e-waste repair and recycling capacity of nations can bring new opportunities and resilience to Africa’s economic sector. But these are not overnight projects, and the transition to a circular economy will require policies, incentives, new infrastructure, and business support to make the change a reality.

Photo : iucn.org

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African Nations Descend on Dubai’s Expo 2020

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After being postponed for a year due to pandemic, Expo 2020 is finally set to begin in Dubai, with nearly every country on the African continent represented both individually and through a dedicated pavilion for the African Union.

No expenses spared to make Dubai’s Expo 2020 a success

After being postponed for a year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Expo 2020 is finally set to begin on the 1st of October 2021, with Dubai hosting the Universal Exhibition. For the first time in the 170 year history of World Expos, nearly every country on the African continent will be represented, both individually and through a dedicated pavilion for the African Union. Architecturally alone the event will be spectacular, with Morocco’s pavilion being a vertical earthen village that offers views of the whole event from it’s rooftop. With an estimated allocated budget of $8.7 billion, it is not a cheap event to host, but if successful it has been expected to generate up to US$17.7 billion in revenue for Dubai. Aside from the potential economic benefit, for the United Arab Emirates hosting the expo is a way to position themselves as a country of influence on the international scene, and further their political and economic presence on the continent of Africa.

A unified Africa presents a new image of the continent

For the continent too the exposition is an opportunity, as a myriad of countries wish to deepen their ties with Africa. With it’s Agenda 2063 – a 50-year plan to see an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens” – the African Union is ready to use the expo to show that the continent represents a dynamic force in the international arena. Aspiring to an Africa with no borders, whose people see themselves as Africans first, united in common heritage, culture and values the African Union pavilion will highlight Africa’s potential and ambitions, showing a new face of the continent that is exciting, young and modern.

The highlights of the continent on display

Within each carefully curated pavilion, over 40 countries on the continent will showcase to the world what they can offer:

Investment Opportunities

Some countries, like the Democratic Republic of the Congo will showcase the resources of the country. To attract investors the Congolese pavilion will highlight the country’s 80 million hectares of arable land, and the energy-production potential of the Congo River. Likewise Zimbabwe’s pavilion will showcase a destination filled with mining, construction and agriculture opportunities. In the Ethiopian pavilion conveyor belts will display locally-made products, while Nigeria’s ‘Opportunity City’ will put the country’s booming creative and technology sectors at the forefront for visitors to see.

Tourism

For many countries the Expo offers a chance to sell the country as a tourism destination. With the recent rehabilitation of Benin’s cultural sites, the country wants to revitalize its tourism industry. In fact, standing out as a tourism destination will be the challenge at Expo 2020. Heavyweights in tourism like Egypt will deploy pyramids, hieroglyphic signs and genuine antique pharaoh statues, while Nigeria will show visitors around it’s untouched destinations on a virtual reality Eco-tour.

Culture

Along with highlighting the economic opportunities, African countries will be reminding the world of the wealth of culture on the continent. Entering the Ethiopian pavilion will see visitors coming face to face with a replica of ‘Lucy,’ the world’s oldest human fossil, while in the Nigerian pavilion the ‘Nollywood’ film scene will be highlighted. Meanwhile in the Kenyan pavilion is the opportunity to meet the 44 different tribes that make up the country, and visitors can leave with a Kenyan name and digital copy of their own Kenyan passport.

Enticing investment into the continent remains a challenge

Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world, Africa as a continent had seen 25 years of continuous economic growth. Despite this, the bottom half of the global Human Development Index is dominated by African countries, and the continent’s lack of infrastructure remains a barrier to international trade. This makes international investors wary, further holding the continent back. This is acknowledged by Eugene Manga Manga, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s General Commissioner for Expo 2020. He has stated that, “The continent has a lot of difficulties, but it has also started to develop.” With rich natural resources and a youthful, entrepreneurial population, the continent does indeed have a lot to offer, and Expo 2020 may be the perfect chance to remind the rest of the world of this fact.

Photos : expo2020dubai.com/

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Controversy and Challenged for the African Development Bank

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In recent years, many African countries and organizations have worked hard to move away from the veil of corruption that has shrouded the continent for decades. Exploitative systems left in place by former colonial governments have often been marked by nepotism and misuse of power. 

The most recent ‘scandal’ has just resulted in Dr Akinwumi Adesina being cleared of all allegations and also re-elected as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) for a new five-year term.

Who is Akinwumi Adesina?

Dr Akinwumi “Akin” Adesina is a 60-year-old Nigerian who previously served as Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development from 2010 until 2015. Prior to that, he was Vice President of Policy and Partnerships for AGRA (Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa).

From a farming family, Adesina was educated in Nigeria (where he was the first student at his university to be awarded a First Class Honours) and then at Purdue University in Indiana, USA, where he won an award for his PhD thesis. 

He then went on to work as a senior economist at WARDA (West African Rice Development Association) as well as continuing to work for the Rockefeller Foundation who he had joined in 1988. He served as the foundation’s representative for the southern African region from 1999 until 2003 and then as associate director for food security from 2003 to 2008. 

Adesina has been recognized for the work he has done in agriculture on several occasions. He was named Forbes’ African man of the Year in 2013 for his work in reforming the Nigerian agricultural sector. And in 2010, then UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, appointed him as one of 17 leaders to spearhead the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

His record at the AfDB has been impressive. It is the only African financial institution with a Triple-A credit rating, and in October of 2019, they raised $115 billion in fresh capital, an achievement many ascribed to Adesina. 

Controversy

The corruption came from AfDB staff who alleged that Adesina had committed multiple breaches of trust and of abusing his position as well as breaching the bank’s own code of ethics. An initial 15-page report accused him of embezzlement, nepotism towards fellow Nigerians, awarding lucrative contracts to friends and families, and promoting people who were suspected of fraudulent activities. 

An internal inquiry cleared him of all allegations but this was rejected by the U.S.A., who are one of the AfDB’s 27 non-regional members as well as being the second largest shareholder in the bank behind Nigeria. 

This prompted the bank’s Bureau of Governors to set up a three-person review panel, headed by Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland. They were given a short four-week window to investigate and deliver their findings so as not to interfere with the approaching election for President of AfDB, an election Adesina had been expected to win unopposed until these allegations surfaced.

The review panel agreed with the original internal inquiry’s findings, stating: “…concurs with the (Ethics) Committee in its findings in respect of all the allegations against the President and finds that they were properly considered and dismissed by the Committee.”

Moving Forward

On 27th August, 2020, Adesina was re-elected for another five –year term as president of AfDB with 100% of the votes from both regional and non-regional members. 

The challenge for Adesina now is to put this controversy behind him and focus on the challenges facing the AfDB, especially in the current uncertainty of Covid 19. His first term focused on what the bank called their ‘High 5s’ priorities: Powering Africa, Feeding Africa, Industrializing Africa, Integrating Africa, and Improving the lives of Africans. 

That first term saw a lot of success which included 18 million receiving electricity supplies, 141 million benefiting from better agricultural technology, and 60 million getting access to better water supplies and sanitation. The bank has also seen its general capital reach its highest level ever, growing to $208 billion from $93 billion. 

With the independent panel exonerating him, and with the unanimous vote for his re-election, Dr Adesina can hopefully put these allegations to bed and continue to improve the lives of millions of Africans, 

Photos : Foreignpolicy.com / Afdb.org / africanleadershipmagazine.co.uk/ ft.com

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The Eco is set to replace old colonial currencies in several countries

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In the aftermath of World War 2, the French franc had been devalued so as to have a set exchange rate with the US dollar. This left France’s currency relatively weak, something that could affect France’s existing colonies in Africa and that could also affect imports to those colonies to France. A decision was taken in December of 1945 to create a new currency, the CFA franc, for 14 countries in western and central Africa. 

There has been disagreement over the benefits, especially in recent decades, of having a currency pegged first to the French franc and more recently to the Euro. In December, 2019, the former colonies agreed a deal with France to rename the CFA franc as the Eco and to remove some of the financial links with France that have existed since the CFA franc’s creation. But what does this mean for the countries involved? Will it give them more economic freedom or will it lead to problems with imports and exports?

The Eco Would Be Pegged To the Euro 

A lot of the impetus for this change comes from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a regional grouping of 15 countries established in 1975. For more than 20 years, ECOWAS has sought to establish a common regional currency in order to remove issues caused by trade barriers and to boost economic growth in a region that has over 380 million people living in it. While the 8 countries (most of them French-speaking) in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) bloc reached agreement in December to start moving away from the CFA franc, some issues still remain. The agreement would see the countries no longer having to keep half their reserves in France (something they had to do as France guaranteed the CFA franc). 

However, the new currency would be pegged to the Euro and that pegging would be guaranteed by France, something that is making Anglophone countries in the area such as Nigeria and Ghana reluctant to join, especially as France would have a seat on the ECOWAS board as a result. 

The Covid-19 Crisis Severely Impacts the Original Plan

The original plan was to roll out the new currency sometime in 2020. But there are two hurdles that stand in the way of that ambitious timetable. The first of those is that the criteria set for economic convergence included any countries involved keeping their public debt lower than 70% of GDP and also having inflation in single figures. As of December, only Togo – one of the smallest countries in the region – had met that criteria. The second hurdle is the current Covid-19 crisis which is severely impacting the global economy. With the next ECOWAS meeting schedule for June of this year, it remains to be seen whether it will go ahead as planned. 

Nigeria and Ghana are both looking at the proposals in more detail and Nigeria has stated that they will respond later in 2020. Ghana is enthusiastic about the plan but are insistent that any exchange rate must be flexible and the Governor of the Bank of Ghana has said that issues surrounding the new currency will take time to resolve. 

International Monetary Fund welcomes the proposals

The IMF’s managing director, Kristalina Georgieva, has welcomed the proposals. She sees them as much needed modernisation of the fiscal policies between France and its former colonies. She also recognised that WAEMU has a solid track record in recent years as far as maintaining economic growth and low inflation were concerned and that they had increased their foreign exchange reserve levels. 

Transition and Problems

The possible postponement of the ECOWAS meeting aside, there may still be more issues facing the planned transition period. 

  • The pegging of the ECO to the Euro, and the unconditional guarantees of that from France, have to be ratified both by the French parliament and by WAEMUM members. 
  • The exact terms of the guarantee from the French Treasury have still to be agreed. Will it take the form of overdraft facilities or an extended line of credit? 
  • Withdrawing the African currency reserves held in France can only happen once these two agreements have been signed. 
  • Once those reserves have been withdrawn, the interest on them will be less than the 0.75% the French Treasury currently pays. This will mean that budgets will have to be adjusted. 
  • Dates have to be agreed for when France’s representatives on the La Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest’s (BCEAO) supervisory bodies should be withdrawn. 
  • Agreement as to note printing and coin minting for the Eco cannot be reached until the various positions of the regional bodies agree as to fixed or flexible exchange rates and the question of pegging. 

Hopefully, the nations involved can overcome the hurdles facing them. As Africa’s economic growth continues, such plans for regional currencies to support existing trading blocs may be a vital part of progress.

Photos : agoravox.fr / afrique.le360.ma / financialafrik.com

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Nkwashi: An African educational hub of the future?

Comments (0) Africa, Politics

As we move further into the 21st century, urban planners and developers customize many of their ideas to suit not only the changing needs of their demographic targets, but also the changing demands of society. One great example of this changing focus is Nkwashi, a satellite town being built 36 kilometers east of the City of Lusaka in Zambia.

Zambia is one of the fastest growing economies in Africa and is the continent’s second-largest copper producer. The country reached middle-income status in 2011 amid a decade of strong economic growth. However, these economic strengths only reached a small percentage of the population and Zambia remains one of the countries with the highest economic inequality in the world with 58% of Zambians earning less than the international poverty line figure of $1.90 per day (World Bank figures as of 2015). 

While many identify an emerging middle class in Zambia with higher levels of disposable income, accurately defining this group is problematic, especially given the wide range of inequality in the country. However, Nkwashi is definitely a city aimed at this group as well as the industrialists and entrepreneurs who have capitalised on the country’s growing economy. 

The beauty of developing a new satellite city from scratch is that you can combine the practical with the idealistic. With a set number of residential units (initially at least), you can plan for the exact services such as power, water, sewage, etc., that you are going to need (while allowing for a future increase in capacity for all). Almost 9500 residential plots will be made available, with sizes ranging from 360 to 1300 square metres. The houses themselves are being designed by the architects behind South Africa’s V&A Waterfront and Green Point football stadium, so will be of the highest standards. 

Nkwashi: An Incredible Opportunities Land Ownership

What makes Nkwashi extremely attractive for families and couples is the incredible opportunities land ownership. Prospective owners apply for a particular size and location and, once approved, they can decide on their payment plan. They can choose from making a whole payment, or monthly payment plans over 2, 5, 10, or 20 years. There are no interest charges on these payment plans and prices on a 5-year flexi plan start as low as 400 Kwacha (25 Euros) per month. Once 48 months of payments have been received, owners can then move to constructing a home, choosing between self-build or construction by a professional builder. 

Zambia’s new satellite city offers exciting opportunities to live, work, learn, and play.

The town has been designed on four main “foundations”: Live, Work, Learn, Play. The Live part is covered by the affordable housing options available spread over 12 districts and with all the amenities one would expect from a modern town. The work part is covered by a well-planned commercial area (and Lusaka is only a 30-minute commute for those who want to keep work and home separate). Play involves a 40,000 square metre mall – with pubs, cinemas, shops, etc.) – as well as 40 acres of parks, over one hundred acres of green spaces, and two lakes for relaxation and watersports.

But it is perhaps the Learn aspect that will most attract young families who identify good education as essential to Zambia’s continuing development. Nine primary and secondary schools are planned, including the flagship Thebe International School offering world-class education to day students and boarders and which is planned to be the best school in Zambia. 

The planned American University will have a 10,000 student capacity and is aimed at both Zambian and international students. The university, situated on a 130-acre campus, will have research as its primary focus and hopes to attract a high standard of international teaching staff. The university’s sports facilities will also be available to the city’s residents and it is hoped this will create an encompassing sense of community. 

An Ambitious Project and an Opportunity to Live In a Self-Contained and Self-Sustaining Community

The company behind Nkwashi, Thebe Investment Management, is run by Mwiya Musokotwane, son of the country’s former finance minister. He sees Nkwashi – and other satellite cities like it – as the perfect answer to the problems of urban expansion in Africa where even affluent neighborhoods can lack total access to required amenities. With a forecast total population of between 60,000 and 100,000, one third of the plots have already been purchased. How successful this new city will be is going to depend not only on plots of land being purchased but on those plots being developed into homes. 

It is an ambitious project that offers the opportunity to live in a self-contained and self-sustaining community that still allows easy access to Lusaka. Satellite cities are also in development in other parts of Africa. Kenya’s government hopes that Konza City will become Africa’s Silicon Valley, an ambitious idea whose success remains to be seen. But the concept of satellite cities certainly offers an attractive option to the congestion of the urban metropolises, and make planning for services and amenities far easier. Could Nkwashi become an educational hub? Only time will tell. 

Photos : nkwashi.com /

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Can Russia be a major player in Africa? Outcomes from Sochi.

Comments (0) Africa, Economy, Politics

With the ongoing competition between Russia and China trying to take the lead on African investment and partnerships and the United State’s revived interest over the continent, Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted a Russia-Africa summit in Sochi from the 23rd to the 24th of October.

National belts are tightening globally, and FDI (foreign direct investment) has been decreasing worldwide, yet Africa has been the one region to see the opposite, with FDI to the continent rising in 2018 to US$46 billion, a year on year rise of 11% from 2017. Yet while we may see China and Russia as the ‘main players’ in Africa, the two superpowers remain behind other nations in terms of total investment, with France leading the way followed by The Netherlands and the UK. In terms of development aid, the show continues to be run by the U.S., China, and Japan, with little in the way of ‘no strings’ aid coming from Russia.

Many considered investment in Africa to be like a modern second wave of colonialism, where nations and multinationals sought to reap the benefits of expanding economies and massive amounts of untapped resources. But this time, the African nations have a lot more power when it comes to accepting investment, and the huge amounts of money flowing inwards are being channelled into infrastructure, transport systems, and bringing some of the lagging economies into the 21st Century.

This summit was meant to be a rallying call, an announcement to the world that Russia was back in Africa, a statement of intent that Russia’s decreased influence in Africa was about to reverse. So, did anything actually happen at Sochi?

54 countries, US$12.5 billion in deals signed

All 54 countries in Africa responded favourably to Vladimir Putin’s invitation. And 43 of these nations were directly represented by their respective heads of state like the President of Congo, Denis Sassou-Nguesso, or the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who co-chaired the Sochi summit alongside Putin,

“US$12.5 billion in deals signed” claimed the banner headlines out of Moscow. But it is worth taking a step back and realising that most of these deals were memorandums of understanding, and these MOUs do not always come to fruition, so it is far too early to declare Sochi a success or a failure.

Russia has been the main military partners of some African countries for many years and has consistently been the main source of African arms over the last decade. So during this summit, Russia has confirmed it is multiplying military cooperation and defence agreements with several African countries like Mali.

Other areas where Russia is already doing very well in Africa are in the energy and transport sectors:

The Russian state corporation specialised in nuclear energy, Rosatom, has signed an agreement with Rwanda for the upcoming construction of a Nuclear Science and Technology Centre. This Centre plans to organize the production of radioisotopes that could be used in industry, agriculture and medicine. It will also be equipped with a nuclear facility powered by a 10 MW pressurized water reactor.The Russian railway equipment manufacturer, Transmashholding, has signed a €1 billion with Egyptian National Railways for the delivery of 1300 passenger cars. The company chaired by Andrey Bokarev has also signed a memorandum of understanding with Nigeria for the delivery of rolling stock for the Nasarawa-Abuja railway section construction project.

Andrey Bokarev, President of Transmashholding

Africa determines the future of the world’s agenda

If Russia is to continue competing in Africa, it must play to its existing strengths. While Russia may not be able to compete with the U.S. and China in terms of consumer goods and electronics, it should value its expertise in heavy industry and energy. If they fall behind too much in this game, then their own economy may stagnate, something the country wants to avoid. Thanks to this kind of summit, investment from Russia may increase in the years to come.

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Mali militia says it obtains U.S. military vehicle from Niger raid

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Military, Politics

DAKAR/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A Malian militia said on Wednesday it had obtained a sport utility vehicle abandoned by U.S. special forces in neighboring Niger during a deadly ambush last October, and offered to return it to the United States.

Four U.S. special forces members and at least four Nigerien soldiers were killed in the raid in the western Niger village of Tongo Tongo by dozens of militants armed with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades. Islamic State’s West Africa affiliate claimed responsibility.

The ambush marked the first U.S. combat casualties in Niger. It sparked an international debate about America’s covert role tracking Islamist insurgents in the arid and thinly-populated Sahel region, south of the Sahara desert.

It also prompted discussion within the United States about the military tactics being used in remote battlefields. After the incident, President Donald Trump clashed publicly with a congresswoman who accused him of speaking insensitively to the pregnant widow of one of the American soldiers who was killed.

Colonel Mark Cheadle, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Africa Command, said it was investigating the statement made by MSA-GATIA, a Tuareg militia group in northern Mali, but that it could not confirm its claim to have found the vehicle.

In the statement, which was accompanied by a photo of a beat-up blue Toyota Landcruiser and two military-style rifles, MSA-GATIA said it captured the material from unidentified “armed bandits” on the Mali side of the border with Niger in fighting on March 11 and 12.

“The MSA-GATIA coalition proposes returning this material to American authorities by legal channels,” the statement said.

The militia, composed mainly of ethnic Tuaregs, has frequently clashed with jihadist groups whose influence is on the rise in northern and central Mali.

The jihadists have used Mali as a springboard for attacks into neighboring Niger and Burkina Faso, including coordinated raids on the military headquarters and French embassy in the Burkina Faso capital Ouagadougou earlier this month that killed eight people.

Those attacks have alarmed U.S. officials, who fear that the Sahel could become a new haven for Islamist militants and have deployed hundreds of American troops to train local forces and gather intelligence.

 

(Reporting By Aaron Ross and Phillip Stewart; Editing by Edward McAllister and Peter Graff)

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Nigeria increases excise duties on tobacco and alcohol

Comments (0) Actualites, Africa, Economy, Health, Politics

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has approved an increase in excise duties on tobacco and alcoholic beverages, the finance ministry said in a statement on Sunday.

The west African country, which has Africa’s biggest economy, fell into recession in 2016 largely due to low oil prices. It emerged from recession last year, mainly as a result of higher crude prices, and is trying to raise non-oil revenues.

In addition to a 20 percent tax on tobacco, the government will add an extra fixed tax per cigarette. A percentage tax on alcoholic beverages will be replaced by taxes of fixed amounts based on volume.

The finance ministry said the changes will take effect from June 4 this year.

The move would have “a dual benefit of raising the government’s fiscal revenues and reducing the health hazards associated with tobacco-related diseases and alcohol abuse,” it said in its statement.

The ministry said the new regime was in line with a directive from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) regional bloc on the harmonisation of member-states’ legislation on excise duties.

Raising duties in Nigeria for alcohol could further hit consumer demand amid fragile growth.

Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev), the world’s largest beer maker, expects its new $250 million brewery being built in Sagamu, Nigeria, to start production in the middle of this year, its head of Africa head has said.

 

(By Camillus Eboh and Chijioke Ohuocha. Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Peter Graff)

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