Monthly Archives: April 2017

TRADE LIBERALISATION CRITICAL FOR WEST AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT, ...

ACCRA, - President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Friday noted that the ECOWAS regional market is critical to the development of West Africa and has has to be a very fundamental objective of all of our peoples and governments in the region.

He said with West Africa's population set to hit 500 million people by 2035, the region represented a genuine market with immense opportunities for trade, enterprise and ingenuity, and thus emphasised Ghana's commitment towards facilitating efforts at regional integration and unity.

President Akufo-Addo made this known when the head of the Task Force for the implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS), Lieutenant General Salou Djibo, who is also the former President of Niger, called on him at the Flagstaff House in Accra.

He said with ECOWAS having been established some 42 years ago, and trade liberalisation agreements being in existence for nearly 40 years, West Africa was yet to reap the benefits if intra-regional trade because the political will to make ECOWAS a functioning reality is not there.

Statistics indicate that intra-regional trade among members of the European Union (EU) and ASEAN amount to some 60 to 70 percent of GDP, whereas intra-regional trade in West Africa and the African continent amount to a paltry 10 to 11 percent.

Despite the difficulties the EU is having, there is no doubt the EU has been a major benefit to the growth and development of the economies in Europe. Overall, the picture of Europe now is radically different from what we used to know in our youth, President Akufo said.

Lt Gen Djibo explained that the ETLS, which was established some 39 years ago, was the main ECOWAS operational tool for promoting the West Africa region as a Free Trade Area.

With low volumes of intra-trade being recorded amongst West African countries, the head of the ETLS noted that charity must begin at home. We cannot be trading with others, whilst abandoning our own. It is for this reason that ECOWAS, in March 2014, endorsed a taskforce to move around the region to identify the hurdles and challenges stifling free trade, so we can create wealth for our people.

Gen Djibo revealed that the Task Force had so far visited Cote d'Ivoire, Benin, Togo, Liberia, Burkina Faso, and was encouraged with the progress made so far in ensuring the realisation of the Free Trade Area in West Africa.

We have come to thank you for your vision. We know that you are one of those who has spoken about the integration of West Africa. During your election campaigns, you spoke about the reasons why people must come together beyond the boundaries, and bring West Africa to a solid foundation that recognises the black man and enterprise in creating wealth, he said.

He urged President Akufo-Addo to support the mandate and agenda of ETLS, and serve as an advocate for the Task Force in ensuring that his colleague Heads of State adhere to the implementation and realisation of the Free Trade Area.

President Akufo-Addo applauded the initiative of the setting up of the ETLS Task Force to monitor the compliance of ECOWAS member countries.

Ultimately, the concept of large trading blocs has to be the way of the future, and, we, in West Africa, will not be able to escape the pressures of history. We will have to find ourselves within it, he said.

With Ghana being the second largest contributor to ECOWAS, President Akufo-Addo maintained that Ghana's commitment to ECOWAS was unambiguous.

From the first day till today, we have been a firm supporter of ECOWAS' initiatives, whether it is in the area of security, Ghanaian troops and diplomacy, have been very much at disposal of ECOWAS in resolving security issues � Liberia, Cote d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone � across the length and breadth of the region. In The Gambia, which is the latest one, Ghanaian troops, again, were present, he said.

He pledged his and the support of Ghana towards the Free Trade Area, and was unequivocal that the Task Force, headed by Gen Djibo, would succeed in their efforts.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

President Zuma signs the FICA Bill

Pretoria � President Jacob Zuma has signed the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) Act, which amends the Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001.

The 2001 Act and other related Acts aim to combat money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The President is now satisfied that the Act addresses the constitutional concerns he had raised about warrantless searches.

These amendments to the Financial Intelligence Amendment Act further strengthen the transparency and integrity of the South African financial system in its objectives to combat financial crimes, which include tax evasion, money laundering and the financing of terrorism and illicit financial flows.

The amendments also make it harder for persons who are involved in illegitimate activities or tax evasion to hide behind legal entities like shell companies and trusts, the Presidency said in a statement.

Measures to strengthen anti-money laundering and the combating of terrorist financing regulatory framework in the Amendment Act include-

Requiring the identification of beneficial owners to prevent natural persons from misusing legal entities for nefarious purposes like evading tax;

Enhancing the customer due diligence requirements that will ensure that entities fully understand the nature and potential risk posed by their customers;

Providing for the adoption of a risk based approach in the identification and assessment of money laundering and terrorist financing risks, and assist in making customer compliance easier;

providing for the implementation of the United Nations Security Council Resolutions relating to the freezing of assets relating to persons associated with terrorism;

Safeguarding information in line with the Protection of Personal Information;

Providing for inspection powers for regulatory compliance purposes in accordance with the Constitution; and

Enhancing certain administrative and enforcement mechanisms.

The Amendment Act sends a strong message about South Africa's commitment to combating financial crime, protecting the integrity of our financial system and our tax base, and remaining part of the global financial system.

They further demonstrate South Africa's membership commitments to the Financial Action Task Force and United Nations, the Presidency said.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Former Street Boy Jazzing Up Nairobi Streets with His Saxophone

NAIROBI � If you've been walking through downtown Nairobi lately, you may have seen Moses Odhiambo. The 29-year-old self-taught saxophonist has been drawing crowds and inspiring a love of music in young people who, like himself, are growing up on the streets.

Moses Odhiambo plays his saxophone amid the usual buzz of evening rush hour in Nairobi's central business district.

He performs here every Tuesday and Thursday.

A small crowd gathers. Today marks one year since he started performing like this. But he is no stranger to the streets.

At 10 years old, he left home with his three brothers. Their mother couldn't afford to feed them. Odhiambo spent several homeless years in the slums of Nairobi's Kayole Soweto area. Through sponsorship programs, he was able to complete high school, where he played trumpet.

He showed a knack for music.

So the director called me and told me, before we get a professional teacher come and try teaching these students," said Odhiambo. "So when I went there. I saw the saxophone and fell in love with it and I picked it up, taught myself from scratch up to where I am today.

When he is not performing in the streets, Odhiamdo is teaching music in two public primary schools or giving private lessons. But the streets remain his source of inspiration.

I could choose to be in the house and do my practice in the house but I saw that being not so productive for me so I wanted to go out and make a difference," said Odhiambo. "Because of my background having been a street child, I thought of coming out into the streets and make a difference.

After his performances, Odhiambo sets aside time to talk with street kids he meets.

They can make a difference in life if indeed they pursue their passion, he said.

Rafael Mwangi sings a song he composed. The 14-year-old has lived on the streets for over six years now.

He says when I saw Moses play, it gave me so much hope. I felt it was time to also start singing I started writing music and when I showed Mose my writings, he told me he could see my future.

On Thursdays, Odhiambo is joined by another young musician, Steven Muthama, on the guitar.

Muthama says performing on the street creates a powerful connection.

People just take time to come and listen," said Muthama. "Tired people from work taking time to just stop in the street, not knowing you, just seeing you there, listening and appreciating, maybe dropping a shilling or two but just the time and the effort to stand there and listen is really amazing.

Music has been Odhiambo's ticket to a better life. He hopes to pass that opportunity on to the next generation.

Source: Voice of America

YPO Innovation Week Launches Across Africa

Annual Event Connects Global Leaders of the World’s Most Innovative Companies

27 April 2017 – YPO, the world’s premier network of chief executives, today announced the launch of Innovation Week across Africa. Through a series of more than 50 events around the world, the second annual YPO Innovation Week will connect 24,000 YPO members in more than 130 countries through a series of events focused on innovation and entrepreneurship.

In four regions throughout Africa, including Ghana, Tanzania, Johannesburg and Durban, YPO will bring together the world’s most dynamic innovators for a chance to connect, challenge conventional thinking and gain actionable, applicable insight. YPO Innovation Week is the world’s largest and most impactful global innovation initiative, and throughout Africa, the world’s most innovative companies will share their inspiration and insights with African leaders.

YPO Innovation Week in Africa

Africa is a leading innovator in technology, pioneering mobile technology to increase financial access to medical care, and e-learning platforms providing access to quality education. Africa is also sparking innovations in cybersecurity, ecological sustainability, communications and more.

In recognition of how innovation can be employed to overcome many of the continent’s challenges, improve lifestyles and grow the economy, YPO Africa is hosting a variety of events with industry leaders, agents of change, technologists and start-up visionaries from a cross-section of African industries, open to YPO members only.

“YPO’s global network of young chief executives are interested in, and actively involved with, innovative solutions that can positively impact their businesses,” noted YPO Innovation Week Africa Chair and co-CEO of Integ8IT Rob Sussman. “The valuable insight, key connections and respected expertise provided during YPO Innovation Week will leave African leaders inspired, with the tools to infuse innovation in their companies and communities.”

Leading Innovation – Accra, Ghana; 11-13 May 2017

The first YPO Innovation Week event in Ghana will offer a creative journey by the “Team from Nowhere,” a leader in building innovative cultures. This three-day event will be led by CEO, Dr. Nick Udall, former Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on New Models of Leadership, Andy Kitt, a Group Director of Nowhere, and Janet Goldblatt, of Nowhere Africa and YPO Pan Africa Chapter.

The Making of an Innovator – Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania; 11 May 2017

Tanzania will host an impressive line-up of innovators who will discuss the importance of disruption and innovation for business success, as well as reveal what it takes to be a true innovator.

Event speakers include:

  • Albany James, Marketing Manager at EasyBuyAfrica.com, a hassle free online retailer
  • Forbes 30under30 list 2016, Edwin Bruno, CEO of Smart Codes, a digital services agency
  • Rose Funja, MD of Agrinfo, linking smallholders to finance
  • Sameer Hirji, Executive Director of Selcom Tanzania, a fintech innovator
  • Xavier Helgesen, CEO of Off-Grid Electric, providing affordable, pre-paid solar energy
  • Dr. Gordon Carver, Silverleaf Academy, innovating in education
  • Award-winner Lilian Makoi, Founder of Jamii Arica Health, micro-health insurance

Live to Innovate – Johannesburg, South Africa; 11 May 2017

David Garrison, Chief Navigator of Garrison Growth, adviser to CEOs and former mobile technology pioneer, will discuss Authentically Curious Leadership. David points out that today’s workforce is the best educated ever, yet ideas about management are largely based on concepts created for industrial factories in the late 1800s. This session explores what it means to be authentically curious as a leader to leverage members of the organization and get them as involved in success as shareholders and the CEO.


The Story Behind Hirsch’s Success – Durban, South Africa; 10 May 2017

Hirsch’s is a household name in South Africa and is a true entrepreneurial success story and family business. Since its inception in 1979, it has grown into a chain of mega appliance and home furnishing stores in KZN, Cape Town and Gauteng. Having reached the R1 billion milestone in 2012, five years later, Hirsch’s anticipate achieving R2 billion in turnover by the end of 2017.

Founders Allan and Margaret Hirsch and son, MD and YPO member Richard Hirsch, will share their story.

For more information, on the larger, international events visit the YPO Innovation Week website.

ABOUT YPO

The premier leadership organization of chief executives in the world.

YPO is the global platform for chief executives to engage, learn and grow. YPO members harness the knowledge, influence and trust of the world’s most influential and innovative business leaders to inspire business, personal, family and community impact.

Today, YPO empowers more than 24,000 members in more than 130 countries, diversified among industries and types of businesses. Altogether, YPO member-run companies employ more than 15 million people and generate USD6 trillion in annual revenues.

Leadership. Learning. Lifelong. For more information, visit YPO.org.

Contact:
YPO
Linda Fisk
Office: +1.972.629.7305 (United States)
Mobile: +1 972 207 4298
press@ypo.org

Note: While the events are member-only, the media is invited to contact YPO to arrange post-event interviews.

South African Court Declares Nuclear Plan with Russia Unlawful

CAPE TOWN � A South African pact with Russia's Rosatom to build nuclear reactors was deemed unlawful by a High Court on Wednesday, casting fresh doubt over the country's energy plans.

Operator of Africa's only nuclear power station, Eskom wants to add 9,600 megawatts (MW) of nuclear capacity � equivalent to up to 10 nuclear reactors � to help wean the economy off of polluting coal in what could one of the world's biggest nuclear contracts in decades.

South Africa and Russia signed an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) in 2014 that sealed a cooperation pact between state-owned nuclear group Rosatom and state-owned utility Eskom.

Judge Lee Bozalek said any request for information to kickstart the procurement process was set aside as was the cooperation pact. The deal had included a favorable tax regime for Russia and placed heavy financial obligations on South Africa, Bozalek said.

"Seen as a whole, the Russian IGA stands well outside the category of a broad nuclear cooperation agreement, and at the very least, sets the parties well on their way to a binding, exclusive agreement in relation to the procurement of new reactor plants from that particular country," Bozalek said.

The Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and Earthlife Africa-Johannesburg had jointly filed the court application to stop the nuclear program.

"There are no more secret deals and everything has to be done in the open," said SAFCEI spokeswoman Liz McDaid.

It was not immediately clear whether the government would appeal the ruling. The Department of Energy declined to comment.

The government has downplayed the agreement with Russia, saying it was not a final contract and that an open tender process would still be conducted.

The head of South African nuclear state agency Necsa said last year that Rosatom is not the frontrunner and that the tender would be open to all bidders.

Eskom Chief Nuclear Officer Dave Nicholls said: "We haven't been through the judgement yet so we can't comment."

Rosatom officials in Moscow were not available for immediate comment.

An official at Rosatom's regional office in Johannesburg said the company "could not comment on legal disputes between South African entities that do not directly involve us."

Nuclear option

After the 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima led many countries to cut back nuclear programs, South Africa is one of the few still considering a major new reactor project and the tender is eagerly awaited by manufacturers from South Korea, France, the United States and China.

With U.S. firm Westinghouse in Chapter 11 proceedings and France's Areva being restructured, Rosatom's two main competitors are hamstrung by financial difficulties, boosting the Russian firm's chances.

China has little experience building reactors abroad and Korea's KEPCO has only one major foreign reactor contract, in the United Arab Emirates.

France, which built South Africa's two existing reactors, is keen to stay in the race and utility EDF - which is taking over Areva's reactor manufacturing unit - said last month it would respond to the South Africa's "request for information."

With Eskom set to decommission 34 gigawatts of coal-fired power generation over the next 20 years and a lack of large-scale hydro or natural gas plans, nuclear is the best alternative, Eskom's Nicholls said in an opinion piece in the Sunday Times.

Some economists, however, have questioned whether the country's ailing economy can afford a nuclear building program they estimate could cost around 1 trillion rand ($76 billion).

Rating agencies S&P Global and Fitch downgraded South Africa's credit to junk this month over the firing of finance minister Pravin Gordhan, saying the move risked changes to government policy.

Some pundits say Gordhan was axed partly because he resisted pressured by a faction allied to President Jacob Zuma, which criticised Gordhan's plans to block spending on nuclear expansion.

New Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has said nuclear expansion will only be pursued if it is affordable.

"This is most probably just another bump in the road and nothing is going to derail the nuclear program," said Travis Hough, business unit leader for energy & environment at consultancy Frost & Sullivan Africa.

Source: Voice of America

Minister Lynne Brown grants Eskom time to reconsider Brian ...

The Minister of Public Enterprises, Ms Lynne Brown, has granted the Board of Eskom more time to resolve through a mutually beneficial consultation process a pension pay-out to its former Group Chief Executive, Mr Brian Molefe.

The Board has asked for more time to finalise their internal process and in the interest of fairness, I have acceded to it, Minister Brown said.

Minister Brown on Sunday declined the Board's proposal and urged the Board to urgently engage Mr Molefe. The Board had to forward an appropriate pension proposal within seven days to the Minister.

The Chairperson, Dr Ben Ngubane approached me this week and he indicated that the process has started. However, he requested an extension which I have granted, Minister Brown said.

Source: Government of South Africa

New policies to make police a force to be reckoned with

Pretoria - Police Minister Fikile Mbalula says he will be signing off on numerous policies to enhance the effectiveness of the police service.

Detailing his plan for his term in office on Tuesday, Minister Mbalula said the process is at an advanced stage and would see the signing of several policies related to sexual crimes, detectives and the use of force by police, among others.

The Minister said a policy on the investigation and management of serial rape and serial murder has been developed to help deal with the high number of serial rape and serial murder cases in South Africa.

A number of high profile incidents of serial murder and serial rape have resulted in South Africa being referred to as being amongst the highest globally.

Currently, most rape and murder series are identified by deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) linkages, rather than modus operandi.

We will ensure proper coordination and collaboration by all existing structures, such as the DNA Database, the Serial DNA Team, the Investigative Psychology Section and trained investigators to ensure that these serial rape and murder cases are identified early and properly investigated by qualified investigators in a consistent manner, Minister Mbalula said.

Use of force policy

The "use of force policy" has been developed and needs signing. The policy provides all members of the South African Police Service (SAPS) with clear and consistent guidelines regarding the use of force while engaged in the discharge of their official duties.

Minister Mbalula said police will use force within the prescripts of the law to defend the innocent.

Roadshows

The Ministry will also be undertaking roadshows and visits to community police stations to educate the public about reporting sexual offences and domestic violence.

This is line with the new policy on removing barriers to reporting sexual offences and domestic violence.

Research shows that sexual offences and domestic violence are underreported crimes due to barriers that do not support victims of these crimes.

Some of the reasons provided for underreporting include victim perceptions of being badly treated by SAPS members and other officials working in the criminal justice system and the belief that nothing will come of reporting to the police.

The Minister said the new policy aims to address just that.

Improved criminal investigations

Another policy in the pipeline is on improving the quality and functioning of the SAPS detective service, which provides guidelines for the SAPS in reviewing and aligning its operational strategies and instructions leading to improved criminal investigations.

National Integrated Anti-Gang Strategy

The Minister's term will also see the implementation of the National Integrated Anti-Gang Strategy, which was adopted by Cabinet.

The strategy provides for interventions targeted at socio-economic issues surrounding gangsterism and its root causes, addressed in a multi-agency fashion, incorporating government departments, in partnership with civil society and communities.

Other bills to be tabled in Parliament

Several bills will also be tabled in Parliament. These include the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill, which seeks to repeal the National Key Points Act that deals with the protection of National Key Points, and the Animal Movement and Animal Products Bill to repeal the Stock Theft Act.

Others include the Firearms Control Act, which provides the legal framework for the registration and control of firearms and the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) Act, which will provide the statutory authority of IPID to investigate acts of criminality and corruption committed by members of SAPS and the municipal police services.

Other priorities include the demilitarisation of the SAPS to ensure that people are and feel safe, the transformation of the police into a community-centric and responsible service, the visibility of police and the use of technology in reporting crimes.

Source: South African Government News Agency

Own your freedom

Pretoria � As the nation prepares to observe Freedom Day on Thursday, Brand South Africa has urged South Africans to respect, preserve and be responsible for their freedom.

South Africa commemorates Freedom Day on Thursday, 27 April, a day honoured and remembered for the historic occasion that took place in 1994, when South Africa achieved its first non-racial democratic elections. It is a day which officially marked the end of apartheid and the start of a new democratic era, led by Nelson Mandela, paving the way for the birth of a new Constitution.

For that, the country is admired for its remarkable history and accomplishments, in particular, obtaining its freedom and for its human rights.

The country has faced positive as well as negative challenges post-1994, however, these challenges faced by our young democracy need not disintegrate the sacrifices made by of our heroes.

Brand South Africa calls on all South Africans to join in celebrating Freedom Day responsibly across the country and the continent, Brand SA said on Wednesday.

Brand SA is the official marketing agency of South Africa, with a mandate to build the country's brand reputation to improve its global competitiveness. It also seeks to build pride and patriotism among South Africans to contribute to social cohesion and nation brand ambassadorship.

The agency said South Africans need to preserve the hard earned freedom, despite the current challenges.

Let us remember that the price of freedom was never cheap. It is of vital importance that the youth of today take charge of their future and opportunities to lead towards finding ways of working together to resolve the societal issues that we currently face and to build a better tomorrow, said Brand South Africa CEO, Dr Kingsley Makhubela.

Brand South Africa will partner with Freedom Park to celebrate 23 years of freedom in South Africa. Freedom Park is a cultural institution which houses a museum and memorial dedicated to chronicling and honouring the many who contributed to South Africa's liberation.

The museum aims to preserve and narrate the story of the African continent, specifically South Africa, from the dawn of humanity, through pre-colonial, colonial and apartheid history and heritage, to the post-apartheid nation of today.

President Jacob Zuma will lead the national celebration in Manguzi, Umhlabuyalingana Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.

Source: South African Government News Agency