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Unstoppable Africa 2023: Shaping a Future of Prosperity and Innovation

Unstoppable Africa 2023 has concluded, leaving a profound mark on the African continent. The two-day Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) event aims to boost Africa’s standing in the global economy and establish the continent as the foremost destination for business, trade, and investment. This transformative gathering on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly has not only chartered the course for economic growth but has also solidified GABI’s pivotal role as a catalyst for change and progress.

On the second day of the event, Caroline Wanga, CEO of Essence Ventures, emphasized the importance of authentically portraying African narratives. She highlighted that the continent’s rich heritage has traditionally been expressed through its unique storytelling methods. Wanga stated, “In discussing Africa, it’s vital to engage in genuine dialogue. We’ve celebrated our heritage through our distinct method of storytelling, which the world is longing for now more than ever. As the overseer of Essence Ventures and other platforms, I am committed to ensuring our tales are told from a position of strength and authenticity.”

The final day featured a chorus of leading private sector voices. Notably, leaders from the business and media world such as Jeff Wong, EY Global Chief Innovation Officer; Niraj Varia, CEO of iProcure Ventures; Lakeshia Ford, Founder of Ford Communications; Claudia Kwarteng–Lumor, Founder of Kollage Media, producers of GLITZ AFRICA Magazine; Somachi Chris-Asoluka and CEO of The Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF). Complementing these luminaries were esteemed figures from government and international organizations, including President Masisi, H.E. Felix Tshisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Adebayo Olawale Edun, Minister of Finance and the Coordinating Minister of the Economy for Nigeria, Joy Basu, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs at the US Department of State.

Also speaking were NBA stars Bismack Biyombo and Gorgui Dieng from the sports world and Senegalese singer Baaba Maal. Assistant Secretary-General Sanda Ojiambo, CEO of the United Nations Global Compact, the entity that coordinates GABI, underlined the critical importance of unleashing Africa’s green potential. Ojiambo’s message stressed the urgent need for businesses to expedite and amplify their efforts toward achieving “just, inclusive, and sustainable growth.”

Assistant Secretary-General Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the International Trade Centre extended an invitation to businesses to participate in the ITC SheTrades network. This flagship program for women’s economic empowerment has already made a substantial impact, offering vital support to over 200,000 women entrepreneurs since its inception in 2015. The ITC SheTrades initiative plays a pivotal role in maximizing the boundless opportunities presented by the African Continental Free Trade Agreement.

With over a thousand attendees, GABI’s influence is gaining momentum across Africa, setting the stage for a future defined by opportunity and sustainable development. The vibrant exchange of ideas, the engaging, thought-provoking discussions, and the connections forged during the event solidify its position as a premier convening for those invested in Africa’s growth and economic future.

UNDP’s Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General, Assistant Administrator, and Director of the Regional Bureau for Africa, announced the Timbuktoo initiative, an ambitious movement dedicated to harnessing Africa’s rich heritage of innovation and knowledge. Ms. Eziakonwa stated, “Inspired by the historical heartland of civilization, ‘Timbuktu’ is our commitment to bridge the gap between the burgeoning talent in Africa and global opportunities that await. We envision tearing down barriers that have historically limited Africa’s vast potential, creating a future where the continent’s talent seamlessly connects with global prosperity.”

The event concluded with inspiring remarks from UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, highlighting the importance of collective action in realizing Africa’s potential and achieving sustainable development. She called for unity and support from the global community and the private sector. She closed by emphasizing that this is just the beginning of a new chapter in Africa’s story, one marked by sustainable economic growth, empowerment, and the realization of the continent’s full potential.

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Unstoppable Africa: Igniting Transformation and Bold Collaborations

Leaders from global business, investment, government, sports, and the arts gathered in New York on Thursday, 21st September to mark the commencement of “Unstoppable Africa”.

The event by the Global Africa Business Initiative (GABI) seeks to elevate Africa’s prominence in the global economy and position the continent as the premier destination for business, trade, and investment.

In a press statement received by African Development Magazine, It was noted that the two-day event is co-convened by the United Nations Deputy Secretary General, Amina J. Mohamed and the Chairperson of the African Union H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. GABI, coordinated by the UN Global Compact, serves as a pivotal forum for Heads of State and Government, CEOs, investors, policymakers, industry experts, and U.N. leaders to discuss and strategize the way forward for Africa’s dynamic business landscape. “Unstoppable Africa” is a powerful affirmation of GABI’s unwavering commitment to redefining Africa’s economic narrative.

Sanda Ojiambo onstage during UNSTOPPABLE AFRICA Presented By Global African Business Initiative New York, USA. Thursday September 22, 2023. Photo Credit : Jennifer

On day one, the flagship event attracted an impressive array of speakers and participants, including the Presidents of Ghana, H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, Kenya, H.E. William Samoe Ruto, Senegal, H.E Macky Sall, Poland H.E Andrzej Duda and H.E Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados. In addition to government ministers, “Unstoppable Africa” welcomed a who’s who of renowned business titans such as Mo Ibrahim, the Sudanese-British businessman and philanthropist, Phumzile Langeni, Deputy Chairman of Imperial Logistics; Non-Executive Director of DP World Group, James Manyika, Senior Vice-President of Research, Technology and Society at Google-Alphabet, and Brad Smith, President of Microsoft among others. Senegalese artist Baaba Maal set the tone for the event with a captivating performance calling for peace and prosperity in Africa while actor Arsema Thomas engaged in an insightful interview conducted by the event’s host Folly Bah Thibault from Al Jazeera English.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres opened the two-day forum making a compelling call for the “delivery of justice” – a theme central to the continent’s sustainable development. The UN Secretary-General stated that “justice means reforming outdated, unfair and dysfunctional global financial systems and ensuring African representation at every multilateral table”.

H.E. Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados emphasized the difference between ambition and meaningful action, in the context of Africa. Recognizing the emerging unity and collaborative efforts across the continent, she highlighted the imperative for accelerated progress in Africa. Her message underscored the urgency for nations to move from plans to concrete actions that catalyze transformative change on the continent.

During a major event announcement, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), announced a transformative partnership with Google, creating a Centre of Excellence for coding in Africa.

Other announcements on the day included The Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) commitment to positioning the country high-up in the batteries and electric vehicles value chains, unveiling a new 1,000-hectare space in Kolwezi, with special economic zone status. DRC’s Minister of Industry, H.E. Julien Paluku, appealed to global investors to join these initiatives in addressing climate change while advancing economic growth. Further, President of Ghana, H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo launched Ghana’s Energy Blue Zone Initiative, heralding a major stride in the country’s energy transition and investment plans.

The “Unstoppable Africa” event promises to continue its momentum into the second day, where further thought-provoking discussions, innovative solutions, and collaborative endeavors are set to shape Africa’s role in the global economy. Leaders from various sectors, including business, government, and civil society, will come together to exchange ideas, forge partnerships, and chart a course toward a more prosperous and sustainable future for Africa and the world.

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UK and Zambia to expand clean energy partnership with green investment targets

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly will travel to Zambia on Thursday and announce the expansion of the UK’s clean energy partnership with the African country.

Mr Cleverly will unveil new targets to drive green investment, which includes up to £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) of private sector investment in Zambia’s mining, minerals, and renewable energy sectors, and up to £500 million in government-backed investments.

He will also pledge up to £150 million of private sector investment into the country’s small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The new targets will be delivered through the UK-Zambia Green Growth Compact, signed in 2021 and has already seen more than £78 million dedicated to Zambian SMEs.

As the first UK foreign secretary to visit Zambia in more than 30 years, Mr Cleverly will tour a copper mine and sign a preliminary agreement on critical minerals such as copper, cobalt, and others essential to the global clean energy transition.

“Working together with our partners in Zambia, the UK is driving the clean energy transition,” he said.

“The UK-Zambia Green Growth Compact and our landmark agreement on critical minerals will support investment between UK and Zambian business, creating jobs in both countries and improving environmental and social standards.

“Together we will build a stronger, greener, more prosperous future for both countries, which benefits us all.”

Mr. Cleverly also visited Nigeria and Ghana during his three-country, four-day African tour, where he reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to advance trade, investment and green growth.

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“We’ll Remove Bottlenecks to Investments, Reposition Economy to Favor Youth Population,” Says President Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu Friday in Abuja assured the manufacturing and service sectors that more reforms will be unfolded to enable efficiency and attract investments, saying the ongoing economic ”revolution” will be deliberately steered to capture and favour teeming youths in the country.

“We have a responsibility to revolutionize the economy so that our youths can share in the prosperity of the nation, otherwise we are only waiting for the dreams to be charted,” the President told a delegation from MTN led by Group Chairman, Mcebisi Jonas, at the State House.

“If you have any problems or impediments do let us know. We are ready to remove bottlenecks to investments in the economy,” the President noted while acknowledging the sweeping changes across the world, largely driven by technology.

President Tinubu said the growing rural-urban migration can only be controlled with more investments in digital technology that will directly improve healthcare systems and education for the poor.

“I am happy you are moving from Corporate Social Responsibility to be more incisive and inquisitive with technology so that we can see how we can partner structurally,” the President stated.

“You can do a lot for the economy by partnering with us. We believe no one can succeed alone. The structural adjustments we are making are to ensure we face the right direction and arrive at a destination that caters for our people.

“You and I will make sure that the people have a share of that prosperity. We will, together, build a well-informed society. We have to re-assess the journey. I am glad that the stock market is responding positively to the structural adjustments,” he added.

The MTN Group Chairman said the company had a plan of investing $3.5 billion in the economy over the next five years, with a broader vision of becoming a pan-African company by moving investments from the Middle East and focusing more on Africa, especially Nigeria, where it gets the highest return on investment.

Jonas congratulated the President for the upswing of interest in the country within a short period since he assumed office, on May 29, 2023, promising to support in mobilisation of other investors with about $1.5 trillion to look towards Nigeria, where reforms had been styled to favour business and encourage inclusive development.

“The message you have given us is that Nigeria is investible, and with your election, we are seeing decisive, prompt, and keen interest in structural reforms,” the MTN Group Chairman noted.

The Group President/CEO of MTN, Ralph Mupita, Chairman of MTN Nigeria, Ernest Ndukwe and Chief Executive Officer, Olutokun Karl Toriola were part of the meeting.

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Securing Mali’s future with sustainable farming

Mali is one of Africa’s top five gold producers, extracting nearly 65 tonnes of gold every year. The precious yellow metal is one of the country’s main resources and a major source of export revenue. Yet the economic spin-offs are of little benefit to local populations.

Ladji Fainke, an agricultural engineer by training, believes that the land holds other treasures capable of generating sustainable employment and supporting Mali’s economic development. By setting up Kool Farmer in Bamako in 2016, Ladji is banking on sustainable agriculture and demonstrating that market garden production is a real path to the future.

Eco-friendly market gardening: the other gold of Mali

On one and a half hectares, Ladji grows fruits and vegetables according to the principles of agroecology, while regularly supplying the stalls of nearby markets and stores. In doing so, he promotes short supply chains, maintains healthy soils and provides his local community with an affordable harvest.

The start-up hopes to be able to attract new collaborators to expand its training initiatives across the country, and thus support new cooperatives and family farms

“I use no-till market gardening techniques,” says the engineer. “I produce a wide range of nutritious fruits and vegetables on a small, economically viable farm. My aim is to pass this model on to young people in rural areas, to encourage them to set up their own eco-friendly micro-farms.”

More and more growers are coming to Kool Farmer for training and advice on seed selection. “I want to show the rural community that it’s possible to create your own job and make a good living from farming if you apply the right techniques,” Ladji continues. “I invite growers to join my Sol Vivant Mali cooperative by registering directly on the Kool Farmer website. Over the next few years, I hope to create 200 jobs and train 1,000 young agribusiness entrepreneurs. Eventually, I’d like to deliver homes. To achieve this, I’m working on an e-commerce site and a mobile application.”

Expanding training and partnerships

To achieve his goals, Kool Farmer is supported by the International Trade Centre’s Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF V) FastTrackTech project. In the past two years, Ladji has benefited from personalized coaching to help him focus on the essentials: “With the help of NTF V’s mentoring, I have been able to secure my market gardening business. I’ve learned how to calculate my break-even points, identify the most productive varieties and draw up a planting calendar. Today, I know that my priority is to develop the training aspect. I use digital technology for this. Market gardening, composting, and sowing techniques, soilless agriculture… all my courses are sold online on the Kool Farmer website.”

Lin Dejean, the NTF V consultant who follows Ladji’s work, says that this coaching will enable him to develop projects on a larger scale, particularly with industrial sites: “We worked together to draw up an offer that should enable Kool Farmer to approach major mining companies and establish CSR partnerships. And since entrepreneurship is never a solo adventure, Ladji’s next step will be to put together a team,” explains the coach.

Today, Kool Farmer employs three people. Tomorrow, the start-up hopes to be able to attract new collaborators to expand its training initiatives across the country, and thus support new cooperatives and family farms. Its aim is to promote a farming industry that is committed to the environment and generates revenue for women and young rural workers.

The Netherlands Trust Fund V (NTF) program (July 2021 – June 2025) is based on a partnership between the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Trade Centre. NTF V supports SMEs in the digital technology and agribusiness sectors in Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, and Uganda. Its ambition is to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable transformation of agri-food systems partly through digital solutions, to improve the international competitiveness of local tech start-ups and to support the implementation of the export strategy of IT&BPO companies.

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ENTERTAINMENT: Cannes Film Festival 2023 and expectations

The Cannes Film Festival line-up is now complete and looks like one of the best line-ups in years. After the official selection was announced last Thursday, further additions have been made in the past few days, with the Critics Week and Directors’ Fortnight selections confirmed.

Pixar’s latest movie Elemental — the fourth time the American animation house has graced Cannes — was unveiled as the closing film. The story centres around a city where living embodiments of the elements — water, fire, land, and air — all reside.

Already the 2023 selection feels like a year of comebacks. In competition, vying for the Palme d’Or, is Jonathan Glazer’s The Zone of Interest, a German-Polish adaptation of the 2014 Martin Amis novel. Glazer hasn’t made a film since 2013’s much-acclaimed sci-fi Under The Skin.

Set in Auschwitz during the Second World War, The Zone of Interest tells the story of a Nazi officer who has fallen for the camp commandant’s wife. It stars Sandra Huller, featured in the Cannes favourite Toni Erdmann, and marks Glazer’s first time in a Cannes competition.

With six female directors — the festival’s highest-ever number — also competing for the Palme d’Or, another major returning voice is Catherine Breillat. The provocative French director behind Romance and A ma soeur! has been absent from our screens for a decade, since she made 2013’s Abuse of Weakness, with Isabelle Huppert. Her new feature, L’Ete dernier, which stars Lea Drucker, is being billed as an intense family drama.

There’s also a much-heralded return for the French filmmaker of Vietnamese heritage, Tran Anh Hung, who won the Camera d’Or in Cannes — the prize awarded to the best debut — in 1993 for The Scent of Green Papaya. He last directed 2016’s Eternity, and he’s now returning with The Passion of Dodin Bouffant. Adapted from the 1924 novel by Marcel Rouf, this 19th century-set love story set in a renowned kitchen stars former real-life partners Juliette Binoche and Benoit Magimel.

In Director’s Fortnight, France’s Michel Gondry is also back for his first movie in eight years. While he’s kept himself busy making shorts and music videos, the director of the Oscar-winning Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind last made a feature with 2015’s little-seen Microbe and Gasoline. His latest, The Book of Solutions, is described as an off-beat existential comedy and features Pierre Niney, the French actor famed for playing fashion giant Yves Saint Laurent.

Of course, all eyes will be on the out-of-competition Killers of the Flower Moon by Martin Scorsese. Remarkably, it’s Scorsese’s first time in Cannes since 1984’s After Hours (his famous 1976 movie Taxi Driver also played there, winning the Palme d’Or).

This new work, his first for Apple TV+, centres on the Oklahoma murders in the Osage Nation during the 1920s, when oil was found on tribal land. It’s also the first time his two most beloved actors, Robert De Niro and Leonardo DiCaprio — who last co-starred in 1993’s This Boy’s Life and 1996’s Marvin’s Room — have ever featured together in a Scorsese movie.

Martin Scorsese's Killers of the Flower Moon is among the out-of-competition highlights. Apple TV+
Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon is among the out-of-competition highlights. Apple TV+

You also have to wonder if The Old Oak will mark the swansong of veteran British director Ken Loach, who turns 87 in June. Then again, predictions that the two-time Palme d’Or winner is retiring have been wide of the mark before. Following recent efforts, I, Daniel Blake and Sorry We Missed You, this latest effort is another drama located in England’s northeast, set around a declining mining community, and dealing with the arrival of Syrian refugees.

Away from the comebacks and the sign-offs, the Critics Week and Director’s Fortnight line-ups also have included some exciting additions from the Mena region. In Critics Week, Amjad Al-Rasheed’s Inshallah Walad (Inshallah a Boy) marks the first-ever Jordanian film to compete in the Cannes sidebar. Shot in the Jordanian capital of Amman, it tells the story of a young widow, Nawal, and her daughter, who are about to lose their home.

As part of Director’s Fortnight, Moroccan actor-director Faouzi Bensaidi (Volubilis) will present his latest work Deserts. Starring Fehd Benchemsi, it follows two debt collectors sent by their agency into the Moroccan Sahara. As Bensaidi told Variety when the film was in development, it’s “an abstract Western”, an existential look at “Man against himself, against God and against nature and coming to terms with his own interior violence.” Old and new, this is going to be a very exciting Cannes.

The Cannes Film Festival runs from May 16 to 27



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I’ll be advocating and campaigning globally for Rugby sports- Herbert Mensah

Herbert Amponsah Mensah is the new President of Rugby Africa, the governing body of Rugby in Africa. His emergence followed the conclusion of the Rugby Africa Executive Committee Elections held recently.

Mensah, a renowned Businessman, Sports Administrator, and Philanthropist with a passion for “Moving Africa forward”, is known for his passion for sports and extensive experience in sports administration. He is a believer in the greater good of humanity and always seeks to push the status quo.

He is an alumnus of the Achimota Secondary School in Accra, Ghana, although he completed his O levels in the United Kingdom and later obtained his graduate degree in economics at Sussex University.

In his younger years, he played rugby for Sussex and Saracens. He entered the business world while still a student and gained business experience, among other places, in the tobacco industry in Zimbabwe. His entrepreneurship led to his pursuit of success in the telecommunications industry

Herbert was elected President and Chairman of the Ghana Rugby Football Union in 2014. His tenure in office saw the Union attaining its World Rugby status. He has been instrumental in pushing the game of Rugby in the sub-region.

In addition to his business ventures, Mensah’s passion for sports led him to the coveted seat of Board Chairman of the popular Ghanaian football club Kumasi Asante Kotoko SC which was bestowed on him by the then Asantehene, Otumfuo Opoku Ware II in 1999. Mensah set out to restore the success of earlier glories of the then-failing club by implementing a five-year plan, which included sponsorships, the introduction of professional training facilities, and a transparent financial approach to their financials.

In March 2023, he was unanimously and overwhelmingly elected President of Rugby Africa

In this interview with ADEWALE ADENRELE, The President, Herbert Mensah reiterated his passionate vision for the growth of African Rugby. He also speaks about his priority to continue the work he has already begun, helping rugby progress and grow not just in Africa, but globally. He emphasized his business experience and stated that he would apply it to Rugby Africa, to generate revenues and development opportunities for all member associations.

Below are excerpts:

Firstly, let us congratulates you on your new position as the President of Rugby Africa, we are optimistic about your ability and capacity for growth and development. What are your plans and vision for Rugby Africa?

We’re talking about Rugby, so, therefore, we must make sure that everyone has the right to play and when they do to win! All children with time must be exposed to the beauty of Rugby. Unions must be supported, and structures put into place so that the talented can go on and win. Africa must become winners. Countries like Kenya, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Namibia, and Algeria must follow South Africa to the zenith at World Championships.

But to achieve this, we need to recognize that sport is big business and that much needs to change!

What is the most challenging moment while growing up?

Growing up was realizing that my mother was alone but determined to give and make me what I have become today.

Have you fulfilled a dream in your life by going into Rugby sports, share with us your journey into Rugby sports.

Herbert Amponsah Mensah, President, Rugby Africa
Herbert Amponsah Mensah, President, Rugby Africa

Many times over! Playing rugby for my school Kent College and going unbeaten was special. Then I started at Sussex University but switched quickly to Lewes the perennial Country winner was a special moment. My progression thereafter was something I never imagined. Playing for Old Hararians and Mashonaland and an international against Italy was special. When I returned to the UK from Zimbabwe, after the start of the following season, I never imagined progressing to the point of being handed the number 11 shirt for Saracens 1st team against London Scottish!

Sadly, I damaged my left knee badly and never played serious rugby thereafter although I did have another life-fulfilling moment when I arranged the Max Brito charity match in Accra. An ex-Springbok team led by Naas Botha and an England team led by Dean Richards, Tim Rodber, and Martin Johnson played in Ghana and even though I was invited to join both sides I chose to play in the warmup/lead-up match which was Ghana vs. West Africa.

How important is nutrition to your success and performance during your days as a player, what advice would you give to anybody wanting to get fit and improve their health?

Nutrition is everything. I have always been a student of sports nutrition creating a program that is workable for all depending on where they are. I’m deeply conscious of the need to eat a balanced diet and to respect carbs, fats, and protein. Not everything is bad and not everything is good! Fruits and vegetables high in anti-oxidants are also very important.

What has been the highlight of your career?

Helping others. My May 9th Charity and what it has achieved for over two decades and now my involvement with the Shen Yang and Shen Yuet Children’s Heart Foundation is saving children’s lives. Children with hole-in-the-heart conditions.

As the new president, will you consider advocating and campaigning for Rugby sports to youths to reduce unemployment in Africa?

I will be advocating and campaigning for Rugby for all and especially children. It will not reduce unemployment, but it will help foster new and wonderful values for all. Respect, integrity, etc. are fundamental to Rugby and life in general.

You have visited many countries, what would you advise the African leaders?

African leaders need to help to break barriers and encourage us to work together. Executive power in leadership is everything and therefore change can be simple.

African ethnic groups and tribes have customs and traditions that are unique to their culture. What do you like about African Culture?

African culture is unique to Africans which is why one of our slogans is “Africa as one”. We need to love and respect where we came from before we can possibly understand where we are going.

African Development Magazine would like to be part of promoting Rugby sports in Africa and coverage of your activities, would you facilitate and support this development?

Absolutely….. we are about to embark on an exciting and difficult journey. An African journey into the global world to conquer and be the best. Africans are multi-faceted and can play many sports!

Amazing memories are unforgettable; can you share with us the most amazing memory?

Saving lives!!!!!!!!

What advice would you give the younger ones?

Younger people are smarter than we give them credit, but I do ask that they exercise patience whilst sticking to their principles. This is their time. They must seize it with dignity and respect. Remember ….. do unto others as you would they do to you!

Thanks for sharing with us

Thank you.


ADM 2023

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Visas in Africa are Barriers to Trade and Movement, Says President Ruto

President William Ruto has urged African countries to rethink their visa regimes to boost intra-Africa trade and position the continent for true transformation.

African governments, the President said, should facilitate “people-to-people, business-to-business and government-to-government affairs,” not create barriers.

“The people who introduced visas to Africa have abandoned them. In Europe today, citizens of the 27 countries in the European Union don’t need visas to travel from one country to the other,” he said.

He spoke on Thursday when he met President Emerson Mnangagwa’s special envoy, Ambassador Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, at State House Nairobi.

President Ruto said he will hold discussions with his Zimbabwean counterpart on a visa-free regime between the two countries.

He also said they will discuss the need for more flights from Nairobi to Harare and vice versa.

President Ruto said Kenya opposes the continued economic sanctions against Zimbabwe, adding that they are unnecessary.

“At a time of economic difficulty, climate change effects, and pandemics, sanctions only exacerbate the burden on the citizens of Zimbabwe,” he said.

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AfCFTA: An opportunity for Africa’s youth to accelerate trade and industrialization

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is an opportunity for young people to accelerate Africa’s industrialization and economic transformation through entrepreneurship, youths say, calling for an enabling policy framework.

Through its Youth Protocol, the AfCFTA recognises that young people can play a critical role in the achievement of the free trade zone by initiating youth-led initiatives in agriculture, financial technology, IT and in the creative industry.

However, they note that across the youth-dominant trade areas critical to the AfCFTA, the challenges of infrastructure gap, lack of access to modern technologies, funding, electricity and broadband internet keep the youth on the sidelines of the free trade area.

At an online presentation meeting organized by the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), nine young mentees who have completed RITD’s “Youth for AfCFTA Mentorship Programme”, presented their final assignment to senior staff in ECA. The youth participants highlighted that the AfCFTA presented huge entrepreneurship opportunities for them but that governments need to implement supportive policies and investment to ensure their participation.

Ms. Mie Vedel-Joergensen, Associate Expert in Economic Affairs, Market Institutions Section of the Regional Integration and Trade Division (RITD) at the ECA said mentees of the “Youth for AfCFTA Mentorship Programme” are winners of a competition launched in March 2022 which led to the mentorship programme in ECA. The competition with the topic; “The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA): What is in it for young Africans?” was developed by the Youth Alliance for Leadership and Development in Africa (YALDA) in collaboration with the AfCFTA Secretariat, Afreximbank, the International Trade Centre (ITC), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and ECA. The competition encouraged participants to develop essays, infographics or animation to communicate the potential impact of the AfCFTA on youth in Africa.

The youth participants highlighted that the AfCFTA presented huge entrepreneurship opportunities for them but that governments need to implement supportive policies and investment

According to YALDA, the competition aimed to break information asymmetry among youth on the AfCFTA and promote a bottom-up approach to the policy formulation and implementation by harnessing innovative youth-driven solutions that will contribute to active youth engagement in the popularization of the AfCFTA.

Noting that young people can influence policy decisions in favour of the AfCFTA in addition to providing labour, Ms. Jessica Debby Ndjadila, mentee of the Essay group, said Africa’s youth understood the technology enablers of the free trade area such as Information Technology, supply chain management, and financial technology.

“African governments should prioritize intellectual property rights protection,” Ms. Ndjadila said, calling for fiscal policies to drive entrepreneurs into content distribution and the democratization of access to broadband connectivity.

Africa also needs to operationalise the  Pan African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), a centralized payment and settlement system for intra-African trade in goods and services developed in  2022. The platform would increase the competitiveness of and investment in youth-dominated start-ups in Africa.

Another group of youth developed an infographic to highlight the benefits of gender inclusion in the AfCFTA. Noting that Sub Saharan  Africa was losing an average of $95 billion annually as a result of gender inequality, the youth felt that investment in mobile and digital solutions can bridge the gender gap in Africa where the proportion of women using the internet was 25% lower than men.

“Implementation of the AfCFTA would increase employment opportunities and wages for unskilled workers and help close the gender wage gap,” said Mr. Richard Muraya, a youth whose group developed an infographic highlighting the opportunity cost of gender inclusion in the AfCFTA.

Mr. Stephen Karingi, Director of Regional Integration and Trade Division at ECA said young people fully understand what the AfCFTA is all about and their information products should be promoted in giving policymakers the right narrative about the free trade area. Besides, the youth have well demonstrated the potential of the AfCFTA and the issues that must be addressed by the protocols developed for the realization of the free trade area.

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IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva to visit Zambia, Rwanda- sources

 International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva will visit Rwanda later this month after traveling to Zambia, three sources familiar with the plans said on Friday.

Georgieva on Thursday said she would visit Zambia the week after next, but her visit to Rwanda has not been previously reported. Georgieva will travel to Africa after speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland next week.

The IMF had no immediate comment.

Rwanda was the first African country to receive IMF funding under its new Resilience and Sustainability Trust. The IMF in October reached a staff-level agreement with Rwanda on a 36-month financing package valued at $310 million.

At the time, the IMF said the funding would help the country move forward with its economic reforms and build resilience against climate change.

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