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West-Africa

ECOWAS Launches Trade Promotion Organizations Network

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The Economic Community of West African States, with the support of the International Trade Centre, officially launched the ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organizations Network.

This network (TPO) is a public-sector led entity and will work in partnership with the ECOWAS commission to drive inclusive trade development initia-tives within West Africa and beyond.

According to sources, the TPO also held its First Annual General Assembly 15th – 16th July 2021 in Abuja, Nigeria.

Before officially launching the Network, Tei Konzi, ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement, on behalf of the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude Kassi BROU, stressed the importance of the Trade Promotion Organisations in accessing new markets and establishing linkages between local and international businesses.

These are some of the major reasons the Council of Ministers at their 17th June, 2021, 86th Ordinary session took a decision to establish the ECOWAS Trade Promotion Organisation Network in the region, he reiterated.

In her remarks, the International Trade Centre Executive Director Pamela Coke-Hamilton emphasized the milestone West Africa had achieved with the establishment of the ECOWAS TPO Network.

“As a network you can learn from each other, support growth into each other’s markets, invest in shared information assets, and amplify the voice of TPOs and the private sector as champions of the Africa of tomorrow,” said Ms. Coke-Hamilton.

Cicile Tassin-Pelzer, Head of Cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and to ECOWAS, noted that the flagship of the West African Competitiveness Programme has brought together public and private sectors stakeholders across the region to strengthen competitiveness and enhance the level of production, transformation and export capacities of the Private Sectors.

Speaking directly to the TPOs, by creating this network, you take your mission to another level, creating strength in numbers and synergies of closer collaboration with an ultimate objective improving the West African Markets, she said.

Mr. Olusegun Awolowo ED/CEO Nigeria Export Promotion Council, in his welcome address, stated that indeed this was a first of many steps towards building mutual trust and cooperation

without borders within the ECOWAS region. As at today intra-Africa exports only accounts for about 16% of Africa’s global export, and more specifically intra-ECOWAS trade only accounts for a tenth of ECOWAS countries’ global trade.

Indeed, more must be done to increase the volume of trade within the ECOWAS region and more importantly between ECOWAS and the rest of Africa.

It is therefore imperative that through the TPO network we work assiduously towards facilitating the ease of trade for our MSMEs within the ECOWAS region and Africa at large, thereby building an army of exporters that will boost intra Africa trade.

If soundly operationalized, this new mechanism of TPO Network should help a great deal in boosting trade among ECOWAS member states. Consequently, economic integration in the sub-region will be further deepened, he added

The first AGM of the Network, chaired by the President of the ECOWAS TPO Network Olusegun Awolowo, Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director of the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) and supported by the Vice President Guy M’Bengue, Chief Executive Officer of Côte d’Ivoire Export Promotion Agency (APEX-CI), will consider key documents for the operationalization of the network.

As part of the event, the ECOWAS TPO network engaged in discussions with Tony Elumelu, Chairman of Heirs Holdings, the United Bank for Africa, and Transcorp and Jean B. Bakole, Regional Director of UNIDO, moderated by Dr. Asare Afua Asabea, Chief Executive Of-ficer of Ghana Export Promotion Agency (GEPA).

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Tech

African Development Bank Approves US$170M For Investment In Nigeria’s Digital, Creative Start-ups

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The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) has approved a loan of US$170 million to finance a digital and creative enterprises program in Nigeria.

The investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Program (i-DICE) is a Federal Government of Nigeria initiative promoting investment in digital and creative industries. It is part of Nigeria’s efforts to build back better, greener, and more inclusively, to create more sustainable jobs for the teeming youthful population.

The program targets more than 68 million Nigerians aged 15 to 35 years who are recognized as leaders of innovative, early-stage, technology-enabled start-ups or as leaders of creative sector micro, small and medium sized enterprises. The program is co-financed by the Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).

“Governments have a much greater role than just policy making. They need to be innovative and create an enabling environment that includes infrastructure and de-risking to harness private sector investments in key growth sectors,” said African Development Bank President Akinwumi A. Adesina.

The investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises Program will also support the leaders through enterprise support organizations – groups that support, train, and sometimes fund entrepreneurs – including innovation hubs, accelerators, venture capital and private equity firms. Bank financing of i-DICE will help the Government initiative further consolidate Nigeria’s position as Africa’s leading start-up investment destination and as a youth entrepreneurship hub.

“This program is among the latest series of our operations meant to bolster the implementation of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy. Given that tech-enabled enterprises cut across all the economic growth sectors, the program’s focus on the digital sector will deepen Nigeria’s job creation efforts,” said Beth Dunford, Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development.

The initiative will stimulate investments in 226 technology and creative start-ups and provide non-financial services to 451 digital technology and small and medium enterprises. The program is expected to create 6.1 million direct and indirect jobs, of which the Bank’s financing will support the creation of about 850,000 jobs. The value added to the Nigerian economy connected to the program is estimated at US$6.4 billion.

The program will boost Nigeria’s venture capital market through independently managed funds focusing on digital and creative enterprise. These funds aim to attract an initial capitalization ofUS $433 million in private and public sector financing.

“This program will generate significant economic benefits to Nigeria,” said Lamin Barrow, Director General of the Bank’s Nigeria Country Department. “The program interventions will help respond to the challenges of youth employment in Nigeria, which could intensify without scalable interventions. I want to recognize the strong country ownership, under the leadership of Vice President Osinbajo,” he added.

The African Development Bank’s active portfolio in Nigeria comprises 57 operations across 30 public and 27 private sector operations, valued at about US$4.61 billion. The i-DICE Program aligns well with the Bank’s strategic priority areas, better known as the High 5s – specifically, “Industrialize Africa,” “Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa,” and “Feed Africa.”

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West-Africa

2021 Africa Investment Forum Postponed

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Following consultations with the Government of Côte d’Ivoire and the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group the 2021 Africa Investment Forum scheduled for December 1-3, 2021, in Abidjan, is postponed until further notice.

The President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina said, “The Africa Investment Forum is the premier investment marketplace for Africa. Several billion dollars of investment projects were scheduled for investment board rooms with project sponsors and investors at this edition of the Africa Investment Forum.

Unfortunately, with rising global travel restrictions due to the Covid-19 Omicron variant, and heightened concerns for health and safety, it is necessary, regrettably, to postpone the event. The health and safety of everyone comes first.

The African Development Bank Group and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire wish to thank previously expected participants and delegations and look forward to hosting the event at a future date. “We sincerely regret all inconveniences to our esteemed and expected heads of state and government, participants, project sponsors, investors and government delegations,” the bank said. “We would like to thank all participants, investors, and project sponsors for the excellent preparatory work they have done.”

The African Development Bank Group and the Africa Investment Forum partners are indebted to President Alassane Ouattara and the Government of Côte d’Ivoire for their exceptional and gracious support.

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West-Africa

US Wants Gen. António Indjai Of Guinea-Bissau Arrested

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He is a decorated fighter at the rank of General in the Guinea-Bissau military commonly known as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the People or FARP.

Gen Antonio Indjai rose to prominence during the civil war in the 1990s and led a coup in the West African country in 2012.

It should be noted that Guinea-Bissau, one of the poorest countries in the world, has a history of coups and no elected leader has served a full term since independence from Portugal in 1974.

On April 12, 2012, he overthrew the elected government in a coup, citing as the reason the presence of the Angolan military.

The 270 soldiers from Angola had originally arrived to help reform Guinea-Bissau’s armed forces, which stand accused of involvement in a cocaine transshipment trade that sees an estimated 30 tons of the illegal substance ending up in Europe every year.

The United States has labelled Gen. Antonio Indjai as “drug kingpin” and has placed a bounty on his head. In mid-August, US justice promised $ 5 million to anyone who will allow the arrest of this former Bissau-Guinean chief of staff.

He has long been one of the most feared men in the country. And seven years after his retirement, his influence hardly seems to have waned: inquiring about General António Indjai still arouses apprehension and many embarrassed silences. When it comes to shedding light on the grey areas of his career, it’s hard to find any official willing to speak with his face uncovered.

The US wanted notice issued against him by Washington, which considers him a drug lord, has of course not helped. António Indjai’s relatives remember the trap set on the high seas in 2013 by the US Anti-Drugs Agency (DEA) for Bubo Na Tchuto, a former almighty head of the Navy, also accused by the courts of having reigned master of the cocaine trafficking plaguing the country.

Targeted the same year by a similar lure, Indjai will not be taken in, but the case will sharpen his caution.

Chatting with Gen. António Indjai in 2012 After the Coup

If Carlos Gomes Jr. were to come back, would the former Prime Minister be safe? 

We would not be responsible for Carlos Gomes Jr.’s security on his return. If he were to come back, he’d be responsible for his own security. I repeat, if he were to come back, whatever happened to him would be his own or the U.N.’s responsibility.

Editors note: Carlos Domingos Gomes Júnior is a Bissau-Guinean politician who was Prime Minister of Guinea-Bissau from 10 May 2004 to 2 November 2005, and again from 25 December 2008 to 10 February 2012.

I have read a lot about the April 12 coup but would like to hear about it from you. Why did you organize a coup? 

We didn’t organize a coup, we organized a countercoup. Do you know the origins of this coup? Angola and Carlos Gomes Jr. Would America allow a foreign army with heavier weapons than them inside the United States? We said [to Angola], Either you give these weapons to us, or, if not, leave the country and we will continue with cooperation between our two countries in the future.

They said no, and only reinforced their own weaponry. I’m asking you, in light of this, what is the origin of the coup? Angola and Carlos Gomes Jr.

If we hadn’t organized a coup before them, they’d have reinforced their troops here and arrested us. The intention of Carlos Gomes Jr. was to have international forces to add to the Angolan troops, which meant they could have struck us down at any time.

I drew [Carlos Gomes Jr.’s] attention to this more than 20 times — I said not to bring Angolan troops here. This is why we organized a coup. I didn’t ask that he remove the Angolan troops, just that he solve the problem of the weapons.

I’ve heard people in the street say that the coup represents a failure of democracy.

Of course I agree the coup is a failure of democracy. A coup has no place in a democracy. But if you have no other means of escape, you have to look for a solution.

For example, if I took you and locked you in this room with my weapon and I were to shoot, how would you react? You’d want to escape, and you might break down the door — you’d take any means that you could in order to get out.

We removed just two people — the Prime Minister and the President. Where else does that exist, that a coup d’état happens and no one dies? Not one. Since they didn’t want to take our advice, we said leave or you will be dismissed.

 

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