Monthly Archives: April 2017


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.


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 […]