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AVIATION: Ethiopian airlines suspends pilots for sleeping and unsafe landing

Ethiopian Airlines has suspended the crew of a flight on which both pilots reportedly fell asleep and missed their landing window in Addis Ababa.

The plane eventually landed safely, but experts said the incident raised questions about pilot fatigue on the airline, the largest air carrier in Africa.

The Aviation Herald, a news website for the aviation industry, reported Thursday that the two pilots were flying a Boeing 737 from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, to Addis Ababa, apparently on Monday. “After overflying [the runway] … the autopilot disconnected, the disconnect wailer woke the crew up, who then maneuvered the aircraft for a safe landing,” the report said.

Ethiopian Airlines said Friday that the crew had been “removed from operation pending further investigation. Appropriate corrective action will be taken based on the outcome of the investigation. Safety has always been and will continue to be our first priority.”

The statement did not say whether the pilots had been sleeping.

Experts said the incident could have been a result of the airline overworking the pilots or other external factors.

Hassan Shahidi of the Flight Safety Foundation, an independent nonprofit organization, told VOA that pilot fatigue “would certainly be investigated in terms of exactly how many hours they were flying and potentially whether fatigue or scheduling may have played a role in this, but it is, at the end of the day, the responsibility of the crew if they are fatigued or if they are tired, to report that they’re tired.”

US, EU regulations

Airlines that fly in and out of the U.S. and European Union, as Ethiopian Airlines does, are bound by safety rules set by regulatory bodies in those jurisdictions. Failure to meet those rules means airlines can be banned from flying to U.S. and EU destinations.

The EU aviation regulator, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told VOA via email that it was aware of the incident.

It said the agency evaluates information from many sources as part of its continuous monitoring of non-EU air carriers “and takes action as appropriate to ensure operations meet our safety expectations.”

The agency said it does not comment on individual cases.

Experts said a single incident like this was unlikely to jeopardize an airline’s ability to fly to the U.S. and EU.

Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest carrier and, according to experts, has a good safety record. Sean Mendis, a former regional airline manager in Africa, said, “I would not hesitate to fly on Ethiopian myself. I was on two Ethiopian Airlines flights this week already. I’ve got another one booked for the next few weeks. And, you know, Ethiopian does remain one of the safest airlines in Africa and, indeed, in the world.”

The outcome of the investigation was expected to come quickly, as Ethiopian Airlines attempts to dispel passenger concerns over safety.

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AVIATION: Emirates airline to suspend Nigeria flights over blocked funds

Emirates airline will suspend all flights to Nigeria from September 1.

According to the Dubai-based airline, the West African country has failed to repatriate millions of dollars of its funds.

The airline said it took the “difficult decision” in order to limit further losses, citing circumstances “beyond our control,” in a statement on Thursday, August 18.

“Emirates has tried every avenue to address our ongoing challenges in repatriating funds from Nigeria, and have made considerable efforts to initiate dialogue with the relevant authorities for their urgent intervention to help find a viable solution,” the airline said adding that “Regrettably there has been no progress.”

Other international airlines operating in Nigeria also have revenues trapped in the country which the International Air Transport Association said in June amounted to $450 million.

-Emirates is not alone-

“Emirates is not alone in this issue. All the foreign airlines are in similar predicaments,” said Sindy Foster, a Lagos-based aviation expert, who added that the issue of trapped revenues is “a recurring problem” building up since 2016 when several airlines pulled out of Nigeria over a similar issue.

Analysts also expressed worry that Emirates’ planned suspension of flights could scare away investors from Nigeria whose foreign investments dropped by 81% over the last two years, according to government statistics released earlier this year.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is facing a crisis caused by a shortage of foreign exchange, despite being one of Africa’s largest exporters of crude oil. Oil production which is the country’s largest earner of foreign exchange has been far below the government’s projections this year.

In July, Emirates informed Nigerian authorities it would reduce its flight operations to the West African nation after trying unsuccessfully “to stem the losses by proposing to pay for fuel in Nigeria in nairas (which continues to weaken against the dollar).”

-Alternative travel arrangements for affected passengers-

Passengers affected by the planned suspension of flights to Nigeria will be assisted in making alternative travel arrangements, Emirates said, promising to reevaluate the suspension “should there be any positive developments” regarding the trapped funds.

More foreign airlines could take similar measures if the government does not act on Emirates’s announcement, said analyst Foster, a principal managing partner at Avaero Capital Partners.

“Most things are imported in Nigeria, requiring dollars to perform the transaction. This isn’t just an aviation problem. It sends negative signals across the Nigerian economy,” she said.

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Zimbabwe launches gold coins to boost economy

Zimbabwe has launched gold coins to be sold to the public, in a bid to curb an inflation spike that has eroded the country’s unstable currency.

The move was announced on Monday by the country’s central bank, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which disbursed 2,000 coins to commercial banks.

Called Mosi-oa-Tunya, which in the local Tonga language refers to Victoria Falls, the coins “will have liquid asset status”, meaning they “will be capable of being easily converted to cash and will be tradable locally and internationally”, the central bank said in its announcement, adding the coins “may also be used for transactional purposes”.

Holders will only be able to trade them for cash after 180 days from the date of buying.

Individuals or companies will be able to buy them from authorized outlets such as banks and keep them at a bank or take them home, according to the announcement. Foreigners can only buy the coins in foreign currency.

The first batch was minted outside the country but eventually, they will be produced locally, said John Mangudya, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

He added the 22-carat coins can be used for purchases in shops, depending on whether the shop has enough change, as well as security for loans and credit facilities.

Their price will be determined by the international market rate for an ounce of gold, plus five percent of the cost of producing the coin. At the time of the launch on Monday, the cost of one Mosi oa Tunya was $1,824.

Trust in Zimbabwe’s currency is low after people saw their savings wiped out by hyperinflation in 2008. In June, inflation jumped to 191.6 percent, from 132 percent in May.

Authorities are struggling to pull Zimbabwe from the grips of an economic crisis characterized by a rapidly devaluing local currency, 90 percent unemployment, and declining manufacturing output.

Harare-based independent economist Victor Bhoroma told Al Jazeera that “gold coins are a good idea in terms of storing value … but they will likely be indexed in US dollar which means it’s a fundraising scheme to get US dollars from the market by the central bank. The success will thus depend on confidence in the central bank as the seller of the coins and guarantees that back them.”

Internationally, gold coins are used in countries such as China, South Africa, and Australia to hedge against inflation and as an investment opportunity, although they are not as widely used as currency as envisaged by Zimbabwe’s central bank.

Harare has substantial gold deposits and exports of the precious metal are one of the southern African country’s major foreign currency earners.

However, gold smuggling has been rampant. Smuggling is costing the country about 33 tonnes of gold annually, according to a report issued last month by the Centre for Natural Resource Governance.

All gold mined in Zimbabwe is supposed to be sold to the central bank, but many producers prefer to smuggle it out of the country in order to get payment in US dollars.

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Culture & Tourism

Tourism: Nigeria’s Consular In Jordan Commends Ufitfly’s Clean Record 

 The Nigerian Ambassador to the Kingdom of Jordan, H.E. Faruk Malami Yabo (MFR) has commended the unblemished record of Nigeria’s foremost destination management firm, UfitFly in moving over 1200 pilgrims from Nigeria to Jordan within nine months without recording any abscond.

The consular that doubles as Nigerian Ambassador to Iraq made the commendation while receiving the delegation of Ufitfly led by its team lead, Evang. Ajibola Ogunkeyede and a Jordan based Murad Najib of Hajjat Tours in the Nigerian embassy in the Kingdom of Jordan located at 15, Sataan Al-Hassan street, Abdoun, Jabal Amman, Jordan on Tuesday.

Yabo according to statement issued in Ibadan by the corporate affairs of Ufitfly admonishes the destination management firm to keep up the good work and also keep representing our dear country with pride. He however, assures the firm of his unrelenting support for especially towards the upcoming mega trip scheduled from April when almost 1500 pilgrims will be moved at once for pilgrimage exercise.

“I’m happy to associate with you and your unblemished records in moving Christian pilgrims from Nigeria. Our record shows your firm has brought more than 1200 pilgrims in the last nine months without recording any absconder, this is unprecedented.

“I want to state that only pilgrims that come with certified Tour Operators together with an approval of Nigeria Christian Pilgrimage Commission (NCPC) will be henceforth allowed to enter the Holy land. Any pilgrims that come through an uncertified agent will be deported right from the point of entry back to Nigeria.

“And that is why I am commending Ufitfly for being a good partner in progress in that regards, our regulations and that of this country (Jordan) have zero tolerance for absconders”, said the Ambassador.

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African Metaverse set to Boost Economy and Create Employment

Africa’s first metaverse is set to unlock African creativity and connect Africa to the global digital economy. At an event in Johannesburg yesterday, plans were announced for commercialisation of the 3D virtual reality experience, that is set in Ubuntuland, a virtual world that marries creativity, cryptocurrency, and commerce.

Firstly, virtual land will soon be available to purchase and develop, with MTN, Africa’s largest multinational mobile telecommunications company joining Africarare with an upcoming 12×12 village (144 plots of real estate) secured in Ubuntuland. Additionally, M&C Saatchi Abel have entered the metaverse as the first South African agency to do so. There will only ever be 204 642 plots of land available, made up of different village sizes in various community hubs. The land is positioned and priced according to a tiered value system.

Landholders will be able to customize their 3-D land spaces, such as hosting shops, producing resources, renting virtual services and developing games or other applications. Designated spaces will serve the community for work, play and wellness purposes, including a state of the art meeting rooms, online therapy rooms (with optional anonymity), concert stages, film festival spaces, meditation lounges and other dynamic interactive environments. And, there’s more to come, such as staking, DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) and blockchain play-to-earn gaming.

Maps Maponyane & Nastassia Arendse at Africarare launch in Johannesburg

Renowned South African artist Norman Catherine has developed a unique collection of avatars for the metaverse, which will shortly be available to purchase. The Normunda tribe is based on the artist’s signature lexicon, that has fetched record prices in galleries around the world. An avatar is a 3-D graphical representation of a user or the user’s character or persona in this space.

Furthermore, an exciting collaboration between Africarare and South African superstar Boitumelo Thulo has been announced. Popularly known as Boity, the acclaimed television personality, rapper, actress, businesswoman and model, revealed her first virtual reality music video, entering the event in the same Sun Goddess custom creation upon which her outfit in Queen Boity avatar form was based. The Boity tribe of 10 000 avatars will soon be available for fans, with a Boity village currently being developed and plans for virtual concerts under way.

Africarare will connect Africa to this booming arena of the global economy, stimulate growth and create multiple new jobs such as digital designers, creators and architects

The currency in Ubuntuland will be the $UBUNTU token, which is built on the Ethereum blockchain and available from later this year. Everything in Africarare can be bought, sold or traded using $UBUNTU tokens, including buying, developing, selling or renting plots or villages in Ubuntuland, and the in-world purchases of digital goods and services. The valuation of the token will be calculated according to what users invest / build / play / trade inside the metaverse.

Two art galleries will feature in Africarare, dedicated to showcasing Africa’s prolific creativity. The Mila gallery (Swahili for ‘tradition’), already open, will host curated collections by some of Africa’s foremost artists, while the Inuka gallery (Swahili for ‘rise’) will feature works by emerging African artists from later in 2022. Both galleries will stage various exhibitions on an ongoing basis with art pieces being be sold as NFT’s (non-fungible tokens).

Boity in Africarare Metaverse

In the Africarare marketplace, creators and developers can trade in in-world assets such as land, avatars, avatar additions and other goods and services that are and will be available in Ubuntuland. The marketplace focuses on four main areas: Art, Ubuntuland, Avatars & Skins and Digital Services. Users will also be able to trade on secondary platforms such as Opensea and others.

The Central Hub land area is reserved for Africarare custom made experiences, ranging from art to education and including experiences like galleries, live performances, stand-up comedy, video content channels, film festivals, safaris and more.

Africarare will connect Africa to this booming arena of the global economy, stimulate growth and create multiple new jobs such as digital designers, creators and architects ” said Mic Mann, Co-founder and CEO of Africarare. “Additionally, it will enable South African artists to showcase their talent to the world and monetize their distinctive creations,” he added. “With Africarare being built on collaborative partnerships, the possibilities for commercialisation are endless” said Shayne Mann, Co-founder of Africarare.

“This is an exciting moment for us as we lead businesses on the continent to enter the metaverse marketplace. This is exactly what our Ambition 2025 strategy is premised on – leveraging trends that amplify consumer’s digital experiences and engagement. We have always been at the forefront of technological and digital changes and we remain alive to the exciting opportunities the metaverse presents for us and our customers’’ – Bernice Samuels MTN Group Executive.

With Ubuntuland poised to become the biggest talking point in the digital African space, it’s time to own your piece of Virtual Africa!

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Africa is the Place to Invest, says US Congressman Gregory Meeks

United States Congressman Gregory Meeks has warned that the United States will only be part of the future if it invests in Africa now.

The congressman from New York and Chairman of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee was speaking during a visit to the African Development Bank Group on Saturday, as he and a team of congressional colleagues concluded a tour of three West African countries. African Development Bank Group President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina and several senior Bank officials welcomed the group to the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan.

“If the United States is not investing in Africa today – especially when we look at the size of Africa’s youth population, which is larger than America’s entire population– then we are not going to be a part of the future,” Meeks said. He added: “My singular focus had been to make sure Africa moves “from the back to the front. There’s a lot of work to do. Governments can’t do it alone. The African Development Bank will play a big role. When Prosper Africa[1] needs guidance, I will point them to the African Development Bank.”

Meeks was accompanied by Congressman Ami Bera of California, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty of Ohio, Congressman G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan, and Congressman Troy Carter of Louisiana.

The group had visited Sierra Leone and Liberia before their arrival in Côte d’Ivoire. Members said they were inspired by the immense opportunities the African continent offers American investors.

Adesina thanked the United States for its continued support, including support for the Bank’s general capital increase in 2019, which saw its capital base rise from $93 billion to $208 billion. Adesina said the United States, the second-largest shareholder of the Bank, was “working with the right institution.” “We are African, we understand the needs of Africa, and we are driving change in Africa,” he said.

Adesina and the visiting members of Congress agreed on the need for closer cooperation between the African Development Bank and US investors. Adesina said the Bank would open an office in Washington, D.C., once Board approval was secured. He explained that the office would provide guidance about how to structure substantive US private sector investment in Africa. “We’d like to see a lot more US direct investment in infrastructure,” Adesina said. “We look forward to working with the United States Trade and Development Agency and others on this.”

Adesina said African economies were rebounding, but the continent faced mounting commercial debt, the adverse impacts of climate change, lack of opportunities for youth, and poor access to Covid-19 vaccines.

The African Development Bank is leading calls for the reallocation of $100 billion in International Monetary Fund special drawing rights (SDRs) to African countries. It is advocating that these funds be channeled through the Bank as a prescribed holder of SDRs, and as an institution which has a AAA credit rating. “SDRs offer African countries a tremendous opportunity to deal with debt,” the Bank chief said.

Adesina asked for the United States’ support in tackling climate change. He explained that the Bank was investing heavily in climate adaptation and was working closely with US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on climate finance.

In April 2021, the African Development Bank, together with the Global Center on Adaptation, launched the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program to mobilize $25 billion to support climate adaptation on the African continent.

Africa’s youth featured prominently in the discussion. The visiting delegation learned that the African Development Bank is supporting entrepreneurship and skills development, especially digital skills, and has been working to develop youth entrepreneurship investment banks, which will support the businesses of young people.

We are African, we understand the needs of Africa, and we are driving change in Africa

On health, an equally important subject given the realities of the last two years especially, the Bank president explained that as part of its plans for quality health care infrastructure, the institution would invest $3 billion in building Africa’s pharmaceutical industries and vaccine manufacturing capacities.

Adesina also looked ahead to the 16th replenishment of the African Development Fund, the African Development Bank Group’s concessional lending arm. He is promoting reform of the Fund to enable it to leverage its equity and tap into capital markets in support of Africa’s low-income countries.

The  US Congressional members and the Bank’s senior leadership  shared consensus on the transformative roles of women.  According to Adesina, the Bank, through its Affirmative Finance Action for Women initiative, would disburse $500 million to women businesses across the continent.

Delegation members expressed strong support for the African Development Bank’s priorities and  appreciation of its development impact.

According to Congressman Butterfield, a constant refrain during the Africa visit was: “Congressman, we appreciate your aid but what we really want is trade and investment.”

Congresswoman Omar underscored the need for partnerships. She said: “We know Africa is resource-rich. Resources can only be well utilized if they are developed. Africa needs partners to prosper.”

Congressman Bera stressed the need to address Africa’s governance issues and the importance of keeping revenue from its resources within African countries.

Discussions also covered the role of the African diaspora and the need to stem the brain drain of African professionals from the continent.

Accompanying the African Development Bank president at the meeting were several senior officials of the institution, notably Senior Vice President Swazi Bajabulile Tshabalala, Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Kevin Kariuki, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development Beth Dunford, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management Kevin Urama. Others were Acting Vice President for Regional Development, Integration and Business Delivery Yacine Fal, Acting Vice President for Finance and Chief Financial Officer Hassatou N’Sele, and Acting Director-General, Office of the Bank President Alex Mubiru.

Joining virtually were the Bank’s Vice President for Private Sector, Infrastructure, and Industrialization Solomon Quaynor, and Senior Director of the Africa Investment Forum, Chinelo Anohu. The Africa Investment Forum, Africa’s premier investment platform, has played a key role recently in driving closer ties between the Bank and the US investment community as well as with certain business-related arms of the US government like the United States Trade and Development Agency.

In late 2021, the Africa Investment Forum signed a memorandum of understanding with the US Trade and Development Agency to support high-quality infrastructure solutions for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Prosper Africa is an initiative of the Biden administration that brings together tools from across the US government to provide businesses and investors with market insights, deal support, financing, and solutions to strengthen business climates.

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Kenya Is Safe And Open For Business, President Kenyatta Assures Investors

President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured global investors that Kenya is open and safe for business.

Speaking when he launched celebrations to mark the Kenya National Day at the Expo 2020 Dubai, President Kenyatta said his administration has put in place a legal framework for investment that provides adequate investor protection in line with most international standards including safeguards for property rights.

He added that Kenya enjoys political and economic stability, a fully liberalized economy, a large domestic consumer market, a youthful, skilled and productive labour force as well as a modern infrastructure network.

“These attributes have made Kenya the location of choice for multinational companies and a leading destination for foreign direct investment in the region,” the Head of State said as he kicked off activities to showcase Kenya’s rich cultural and economic diversity at the global exposition.

A total of 192 countries are participating in the six-month world exposition in Dubai, with every country allocated a national day of honour.

At the same time, President Kenyatta reiterated that Kenya is keen to build new trade relationships with the Gulf Cooperation Council states and other countries participating in the expo.

These attributes have made Kenya the location of choice for multinational companies and a leading destination for foreign direct investment in the region

“We seek to harness the opportunities offered by this expo to build new business partnerships, attract new investments and bring tourists to Kenya to enjoy our world-renowned attractions,” the President said.

Noting the goals Kenya’s Vision 2030 which include transforming Kenya into a newly industrializing middle-income country by the year 2030, the President said trade, investment and strong partnerships with the private sector are key in realising the vision.

He expressed confidence that as the largest economy and business hub with sufficient capacities in trade facilitation and logistics to service over eleven hinterland countries in the Eastern and Central Africa region, Kenya is in a strong position to expand its trade and economic horizon for the benefit of its people.

“It is against this background and in the spirit of Vision 2030, that we are here, to promote business-to-business partnerships and establish linkages between private and public sector institutions,” President Kenyatta.

In his speech at the Kenya flag-hoisting ceremony, UAE Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence His Highness Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan who is also the and Commissioner General of the Expo 2020 Dubai said Kenya and the UAE enjoy boast of a strong relationship based on shared values and vision since its establishment in the early 1980s.

“We are pleased to be among Kenya’s top trading partners globally,” Sheikh Al Nahyan said, terming President Kenyatta’s presence at the exposition as a reflection of the strengthen of the close ties between the two countries.

The UAE Minister welcomed ongoing discussions to establish a new framework for cooperation in a wide range of areas of priority to the two countries including food production, infrastructure, digitization and renewable energy.

Sheikh Al Nahyan commended Kenya’s pavilion at the expo, saying under the theme “feel the energy of Kenya” the pavilion provides an opportunity for the world to discover Kenya’s economic potential and gives an insight into key sectors such as agriculture, innovation and tourism.

Later at an interview at the Expo 2020 Dubai grounds, President Kenyatta expounded on the available opportunities for global investors in Kenya ranging from agriculture, green energy and manufacturing.

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Issues with backlog on International Passports will be over soon, NIS Assures Nigerians

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) has assured Nigerians that the issue of backlog of international passports in the country will be over soon, based on the introduction of enhanced e-Passport with polycarbonate data page and other security features, that has eliminated intermediaries, touts and agents in the application for new or renewal of passports.

The immediate past zonal coordinator, Zone F of NIS, comprising Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara State, Mrs Dora Ejehi Amahian, gave the assurance in an interview with journalists on the sidelines of handing over the ceremony to Dr (Mrs) Loretta Oemi-Ockiya, who took over the task of coordinating Zone F of NIS from her, at the zonal headquarters, Ibadan, Oyo State capital, on Monday evening according to the sunewsonline.

Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, had on December 20, 2021, rolled and he also commissioned the Ibadan Production Centre for international passports, which is expected to serve Oyo, Osun, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti and Kwara States. He said it would take a maximum of six weeks for Nigerians to obtain new international passports, while renewal of the passports would also take a maximum of three weeks.

Amahian, an Assistant Comptroller General (ACG), who is to resume as the Acting Deputy Comptroller General in charge of Planning Research and Statistics Directorate at the service headquarters in Abuja, said: “The problem that Immigration Service has all over the country is the issue of passport backlog, and very soon, that will be over, particularly with the introduction of the e-enhanced passport, which is a transparent process that does not allow any intermediary, touts, or agents to do it. You can do it yourself, by paying online. You don’t need anybody to do it for you. It is quite simple and the website is

“So, once you go online, make payment, you will pick the one that is applicable to you, whether it is new or re-issue. If it is a re-issue you are doing, you will click on Reissue, you will fill the form. After filling the form, you wi print it out and take it to Passport Office. It is a better kind of passport. It is of improved quality, unlike the ink one that we were using before; this is a technological-based one.”

Amahian, also noted that the Governors Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Gboyega Oyetola (Osun), Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo), and Kayode Fayemi (Ekiti) have been very supportive, appealing to them to be more supportive to NIS.

The governors in this zone have been very supportive, particularly the governors in Osun, Ondo, and Ekiti. Oyo is not lagging behind either. He is pulling his weight. But I will urge them to please consider us as the image-maker of the country. We are and we should be treated as such. We need them to reconsider our position. They should not be saying the NIS belongs to the Federal Government. Yes, we work for the Federal Government. But at the same time, we are in the states to issue facilities to their citizens.

“So, that is why they should at least accord us more respect, more regard, and at the same time, help us in setting things. I won’t say they should come and fund the federal service organisation. But they know what to do.”

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U.S. Supports Five Beninese Women Entrepreneurs in Developing their Businesses

The United States, through the U.S. African Development Foundation, awarded $10,000 in seed money each to five Beninese Academy for Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) participants to grow their businesses. U.S. Ambassador to Benin Patricia Mahoney and USADF Country Representative for Benin Eric Newman presided over the award ceremony at the U.S. Embassy on December 22, 2021.

Ambassador Mahoney praised the women, saying: “Ladies, you are the cream of the crop. You are examples of entrepreneurship and female leadership that others can follow. The AWE program exists to help women like you increase their capacities and change their communities. I’m proud of you and I believe your country is also proud of your achievements.”

Seed fund winners are:
Assiba Carine Bokovo – Ms. Bokovo founded Assiba Fée to combat infant malnutrition via moringa-based products. She was inspired by her own experience using moringa to boost her breast milk production after giving birth to her first child.

The AWE program exists to help women like you increase their capacities and change your communities

Mèdémè Elisabeth Ahouandjinou – An orphan and the eldest sibling of a family of four, Ms. Ahouandjinou began selling palm nuts in 2014. Recognizing the strong demand for palm oil to produce cosmetics and medicine, she founded Jardin D’Afrique, which produces palm oil for local use in Benin and export to Nigeria.

Conscience de Dieu Agassoussi – Ms. Agassoussi founded INAPEC in 2016 to offer healthy snacks with an African taste. Their products include various nuts, minced coconut and blown rice.

Marlene Kindji – Ms. Kindji created Badémè Natural Foods to provide healthy snacks based on dried vegetables and spices.

Béata K Adonon – Holding a master’s degree in nutrition and food technology, Ms. Adonon worked at a horticultural farm where she learned how to use aromatic plants to make natural and herbal teas. Recognizing the health benefits of these teas, she founded Harmoniks.

The Academy of Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) is a U.S. government initiative established in 2019 to support and empower women entrepreneurs around the world.  Through an inclusive learning community, women around the world have opportunities to explore the fundamentals of business, such as preparing business plans and raising capital, with the goal of building a better future for their families and communities. In Benin, AWE is implemented by the African Women Entrepreneurship Program Benin Chapter (AWEP-Benin), an association of women entrepreneurs who are alumnae from US entrepreneurship exchange programs.  To date, more than 240 Beninese women have completed the AWE DreamBuilder curriculum, developed in partnership with the Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona State University.

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ECOWAS Commission Organizes Technical Committee Meeting on Single Currency Programme

The ECOWAS Commission through the Directorate of Macroeconomic Stability and Multilateral Surveillance has organized a two-day technical committee meeting on the implementation of the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme. The meeting which is within the framework of the ECOWAS Monetary Cooperation Programmes and Multilateral Surveillance Mechanism will consider the macroeconomic performance and convergence report for the first half of 2021 and prospect for the rest of the year.

Prosperity of the region depends on building stronger networks and institutions to enable us emerge from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

In his welcome address, the Commissioner for Macroeconomic Policy and Economic Research, Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, whose speech was delivered by the Director, Macroeconomic Stability and Multilateral Surveillance Essien Abel Essein thanked participants for prompt attendance at the meeting despite the postponement from the earlier scheduled date. He appreciated the committee on the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme for their hard work and diligence towards efforts for the achievement of a Single currency for the region. He stated that the decision to delay the launch of the currency in 2020 after careful analysis of the convergence profile of the member states was a wise one and a new roadmap that would culminate in a new launch date in 2027 had been agreed upon. He said that this meeting will focus on the Macroeconomic performance and convergence goals of the member states towards ensuring the feasibility of the 2027 launch date.

The Chair of the Technical Committee on the ECOWAS Single Currency Programme, Dr. Alhassan Iddirusu who was represented by the Deputy Head, International and Regional Economic Policy Unit, Ministry of Finance, Republic of Finance Raymond Kodjoe Nazar welcomed all to this important meeting to consider and discuss the draft ECOWAS Macroeconomic Performance and Convergence Report for the first half of the year 2021. He thanked the Joint team from ECOWAS Commission, West African Monetary Institute and West African Monetary Authority who put together the report. He said that despite the economic growth rates achieved in 2019 which was eroded by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which resulted in slow and negative growth, increased health spending and loss of tax revenues, there is a need for necessary and urgent steps to emerge stronger from the fallout of the pandemic. Speaking from the data extracted from the report, he said “GDP growth for the first half of the year 2021 is 3.76 per cent and is expected to end the year at 4.07 per cent on account of rising community prices and improved economic activity in the first 6 months of 2021”. He furthered stated that “prosperity of the region depends on building stronger networks and institutions to enable us to emerge from the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

Thereafter, the draft ECOWAS Macroeconomic Performance and Convergence Report of the first half of 2021 was presented and discussed. At the end of the meeting, a report of the meeting was prepared and adopted by the participants.

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