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Person of the week

Meet Nigerian Doctor Behind Pfizer’s Covid-19 Vaccine




A Nigerian Physician Dr. Onyema Ogbuagbu, has been identified as a key figure in the research that led United States pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, to develop the first effective COVID-19 vaccine.

Speaking in an interview with ABC News on the vaccine, he said although doses will be unavailable to everyone at first, massive distribution was expected to take off in the first quarter of 2021.

Pfizer said it would launch a pilot in four states in the United States but there have been concerns as the vaccine needs to be stored at -94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70 degree Celsius), a challenge Ogbuagbu said would be overcome soon.

Ogbuagbu is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Infectious Disease Specialist at Yale School of Medicine, who graduated in 2003 from the University of Calabar with a degree in medicine.

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Person of the week

Starsight Energy Announces New Group CFO, Paul van Zijl



Starsight Energy, the leading African Commercial and Industrial (“C&I”) solar power-as-a-service provider, has announced that Paul van Zijl will be joining the company as Group Chief Financial Officer.

Paul brings over 15 years of emerging market and finance experience to the position and is joining from his previous role as Executive Director of J.P. Morgan’s Sub-Saharan Africa Natural Resources team.

Paul has served in various advisory and corporate finance-related roles in positions at KPMG LLP, Rand Merchant Bank, and J.P. Morgan.

He has advised on over US$10 billion worth of acquisitions, fundraises, IPOs, rights issues, and lending facilities for many of the continent’s largest players in the mining, oil and gas, and renewables sectors.

Paul qualified as a Chartered Accountant and is also a Chartered Financial Analyst. He began his career in South Africa and has worked in several African countries, as well as in Europe, North America, and the Middle East.

Starsight Energy CEO Tony Carr, said that, “we are delighted to have Paul join our team as Group CFO. His vast corporate advisory experience in Africa and elsewhere, in addition to his understanding of the African energy sector, makes him the ideal person to lead our finance team moving forward.”

Starsight Energy is entering an important stage of its growth following, and “our expansion into Ghana and East Africa via our Premier Solar acquisition, and our upcoming potential expansion into other countries in Africa.”

“We look forward to having Paul as our Group CFO as we continue to deliver best-in-class solar and cooling solutions to clients across Africa.”

Paul van Zijl said that it is a great privilege to be joining Starsight Energy at such an interesting juncture.

“The renewables sector in Africa is often referred to as the “holy grail” and I look forward to playing my small part to contribute to sustainable economic growth on the continent through Starsight Energy.”

“The opportunity to work alongside Tony and the rest of the management team with the support of such distinguished shareholders could not be turned down. I am excited about the road that lies ahead and getting entrenched in this role,” he added.

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Person of the week

Mahamat Déby: “My Father Would Be Proud of Me”



After a long silence since turbulent events in Chad led to the death of Idriss Déby Itno on the frontline as he pursued the rebels, his own son, now in charge of the country has opened up.

Mahamat Idriss Déby recently had an exclusive interview with Jeune Afrique and spoke about his life and how he is fairing as the new leader in the volatile Chad.

The circumstances of the death of his father president, Idriss Déby Itno, his ambition for the country, his personal intentions, his links with the rest of his siblings … For the first time, the new Chadian head of state is speaking out.

When asked, just to test any ulterior motives, whether he prefers to appear on the cover of JA in military or civilian clothes, Mahamat Idriss Déby answers with a half-smile: “both”. A way to avoid an all too obvious trap of course, he who knows he is closely scrutinised by the Chadians and the international community.

With a pose in chadian boubou, he would be accused of “civilising” in view of the presidential election which must turn the page on the transition period. A pose in battle dress and here he is consecrated in his politically incorrect status of four-star praetorian, self-proclaimed successor to his father since April 21.

It also means that the 37-year-old man, propelled to power like a ping pong ball over a stream of water under both dramatic and peaceful circumstances, is still seeking his marks and the right point of balance. Even if it means evacuating stress, in the evening, on his treadmill – his only distraction.

“My life has been completely turned upside down,” says the man who now lives between the “pink palace”, where the official portraits of Idriss Déby Itno still stand, and the residence occupied by the latter fifty meters away. Upset and exposed, with the inevitable train of conspiracy theories, rumours and fake news about his parentage, place of birth, true age and the conditions of his arrival as head of state.

A shock for this discreet, little talkative soldier, the least publicised of the siblings undoubtedly and who owes his function as head of the elite unit of the army to have been co-opted by his general peers at the head of the Chadian state.

Today, this man who whispers more than he speaks but whom one feels determined and inhabited by his mission, is learning to communicate around a simple message: order, security, political openness, national dialogue, elections in a period of eighteen months provided that international aid is available. Mahamat Idriss Déby is well aware that the arrival on the continental scene of an army general, “son of” moreover, outside any democratic process, violates all the rules of good governance.

But N’Djamena is not Bamako, he pleads: he did not knock anyone down, not a single shot was fired, no one was arrested, he just filled the gaping void left by the death in combat of his father and the withdrawal of his constitutional successor. Many Chadians, including within the opposition, who know him neither escapades nor business, credit him with having maintained civil peace. It’s up to him to earn their trust.

This interview, the first granted by Mahamat Idriss Déby since coming to power, was carried out in two parts on June 11 and 12 at the palace and the presidential residence. In military for the first, in civilian for the second.

Jeune Afrique: You came to power under exceptional circumstances. Outside of your family and the military, very few people actually know you. Who is Mahamat Idriss Déby?

Mahamat Idriss Déby: I was born on April 4, 1984 in N’Djamena. My father was then the Chief of Staff of the armed forces, under the chairmanship of Hissène Habré.

I was raised by my late grandmother from the age of 8, hence my nickname “Kaka” [“grandmother” in Chadian Arabic].

She played a vital role in my education. I attended the French Lycée Montaigne in the capital, before taking my literary baccalaureate at Abéché in 2004.

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Person of the week

France’s Napoleon Bonaparte Remembered But His Legacy Doubted



The French people are this week remembering former Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte amidst a highly divisive debate about his legacy 200 years ago.

President Emmanuel Macron declared Napoleon Bonaparte an existential part of France after laying a wreath at his tomb in Paris on Wednesday.

Macron waited until the last minute to announce his plans for the bicentenary which was preceded by fierce arguments between those who wanted a celebration and others who called for a boycott.

“Napoleon Bonaparte is a part of us,” said Macron in a speech at the Institut de France following the ceremony.

He said he wanted to carry out an enlightened commemoration of the former leader.

“From the Empire we have renounced the worst,” Macron said. “From the Emperor we have embellished the best. We must look at our history face to face and as a whole.”

President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte Macron, top, stand by the tomb of Napoleon Bonaparte during a ceremony to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the former emperor’s death

Napoleon remains one of the most divisive figures in French history. Advocates eulogise his huge contribution to the creation of the modern state while detractors rail against his imperialism and war-mongering.

In the emergence of vocal anti-racism campaigners in France, Napoleon’s decision to re-establish slavery in 1802 has become the focus of debate.

Macron, who has criticised attempts to topple statues of French figures involved in slavery, added: “The Second Republic repaired in 1848 this betrayal of the spirit of the Enlightenment.”

Referring to the loss of human life for which Napoleon was responsible, Macron said the country had since put special emphasis on the value of human life.

And to underline the nuances, Macron condemned Napoleon’s arbitrary exercise of a solitary power while hailing his skills as a strategist and a legislator.

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