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When Kigali Hosted Africa Soft Power Summit

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By Dolapo Aina

Africa Soft Power Summit which held from May 23-27 was a gathering of the crème de la crème in the creative industry on the African Continent, who converge on the city of Kigali, the capital of Rwanda to deliberate on all things in the creative space. The gathering had in attendance, practitioners, experts, government officials, diplomats, students, media and others. The plethora of sessions included; Revolutionizing Systems: Women’s Leadership as the Catalyst for Change; The Time is Now! Why the Private Sector is Key to Achieving Gender Equity; Spotlight: Made in Kenya, The story of Africa’s only running shoes company; Money Talks: Achieving Gender Parity through Funding and Investment in Women; Cannot Lead: Unravelling the Paradox of Women’s Numerical Advantage and Exercising Real Power; Hidden in Plain Sight: Knowledge Production, How Bad Data Erodes Equitable and Sustainable Growth and Culture is no Excuse – Challenging Africa

During the Money Talks Session, one of the panellists posited that one of the biggest issues women have in their careers is bearing children. How to frame maternity policies and also paternity policies, was one of the hurdles and one of the solutions proffered was for the men’s participation in women issues and policies.
The Cannot Lead session had in-depth analysis by the panellists too.

Faith Odhiambo: VP, Law Society of Kenya posited amongst several things that; women don’t know how to make noise about what they do. The prejudices that women face, are real and that women are labelled by their titles. Men think it is safer to believe in the potential of another man.

From her perspective, Loretta Aniagolu: CEO, F.I.T. Group and former Gubernatorial Candidate in Nigeria stated that across the world, anywhere you see where women aren’t engaged (for whatever reason), that country would not catch up. Anytime a part of the population is ignored, it drags the country back.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Executive Director, National Basketball Players Association Foundation and former Mayor of Baltimore stated that; “Women don’t always support women. Women ought to support women. Nowadays, women have to do the work and also talk about the fact that they are doing the work. And it is important to have women at the table.”

Abosede George-Ogan, Founder, Women in Leadership Advancement Network, who was the moderator of the Cannot Lead session, asked why power is difficult for women to access? And went further to posit that; “there are genuine binding constraints to women doing the job. Women don’t have the luxury that men have to fail at the job. When women don’t have access to the table, they should create the table. When we say women cannot lead, we do a disservice to ourselves.”

The Culture is no Excuse: Challenging Africa Conversation with: Ambassador Ozonnia Ojielo, Resident Coordinator and Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to Rwanda and His Royal Highness Nnaemeka A. Achebe, King of Onitsha.

It was a rich and lively conversation where the King of Onitsha, emphasised the need for concerted efforts from all partners to support women empowerment across the African Continent. On the question of reconstructing the role of tradition in Africa; His Majesty, Royal Highness Nnaemeka A. Achebe, King of Onitsha said that there is no one view to this and further stated that promoting women’s empowerment in Africa, requires a comprehensive approach that combines legal reforms, education, economic opportunities, and addressing other norms that might perpetuate gender inequality.

On Day Two of Africa Soft Power Summit, an address by Adefunke Adeyemi, who is the Secretary General, The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) was on the Single African Air Transport Pilot Implementation Program (SAATMPIP). In her energising address, Ms. Adefunke Adeyemi stated that connectivity is at the centre of all Africa does. Integration can only happen when you are connected. The size of Africa that we see on every map is not the true size of Africa. There is no other way that Africa can connect herself than by air. And she wondered why Africa does not give access to Africans but to outsiders? And Ms. Adefunke Adeyemi concluded by stating that; “The density of connectivity in the West is visible but very little in Africa. Without connectivity, there is no development.”

During the New Pathways: Travel, Tourism and Trade in Africa session, moderated by Tina L. Taylor, Managing Director, UNUM Capital Investment; Adefunke Adeyemi, Secretary General, The African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) posited that advocacy is an important thing. She went further; “Just to fly over Democratic Republic of Congo takes over three and a half hours. Adovcacy on the scale of the problem and opportunities therein such as 5.3 billion dollars and thousands of jobs and new paths for people to go into new careers. We also have to unlock the impediments. If not, you would not know what the issues are and how to resolve the challenges. Protectionism is not a long-term strategy. You can only be protectionist and practise protectionism for a while and then, you die. What is your visa regime? What are your incentives for aviation players? When you arrive in a country, you are contributing to the overall economy of that country from the top shots to the local people in the markets.

Chief Tourism Officer of Rwanda Development Board, Ms. Michaella Rugwizangoga had a lot to say about the session, commencing thus; “Connected Africa is a visa-free Africa. The MICE and visa-free initiatives are deliberate policies by the Government of Rwanda.” She also stated that; “Your storytelling has to be authentic and true to those coming to your country and this is what Rwanda does. Africa needs to tell her stories more in their true light. The change you see in Rwanda is in initial part, part of our traditional values.

These different aspects of our identify were brought back. Tourism is one of our economic drivers. The more we know each other, the more we are likely to do more businesses. As a government, our job is to continue to improve on our services and create areas where synergies can be created. Ten percent of the tourism income goes to the communities. These communities not only benefit but they are also transformed. For instance, former poachers who become wildlife advocates.
Tariro Washe, the Filmmaker and Managing Director of Meso Maviri: viewed issues from the lenses of a cinematographer, stating that the ability to move around Africa with ease of movement is a beautiful thing. And with regards the African narrative, she went thus; “We need to be sure of what stories are being told of Africa. Storytelling is powerful in showing and uncovering different places about Africa.

Whilst Wilmot Allen, who is the founder and chairman of VentureLift Africa opined that India, China and Kenya have one thing in common, which is a strong connection with the diaspora. When intra-Africa trade begins to expand, there would be multiplier effects in all the African countries. There is a tremendous opportunity in maximising the different places in Africa but there is very limited show of the true African diverse cultures. There is a plethora of opportunities in this space. We have to be more intentional in consuming our own stories.

The Powering the Creative Economy: The Role of Private Capital in Propelling Innovation session had Ms. Juliet Yaa Asantewa Asante, CEO, National Film Authority of Ghana reeling how statistics on the African Film scene. In her words; “According to UNESCO, the creative sector is the largest employer of labour on the African Continent. But the creative sector is usually sidelined. There are several places for money to be infused in the creative space but it is not being done.” With finality, she went thus: “Return of investment is critical and it is important that investment goes into the market place. Put money in cinemas, studios etc that can ensure a reliable income stream. It is critical we invest in the sector.”

In the same panel as aforementioned, Temwa Gondwe, Senior Manager, Intra-African Trade Bank, Afreximbank alluded that; “Investors and bankers do sniff out opportunities in several sectors. In the creative space: 4 factors are looked at; human capital and the monetisation of the human capital value is not getting into African pockets. The overall gamut of creative representation. Market integration is also key. Africans should not be registering IP rights in all non-African jurisdictions. Also, financing is key. Financing at all levels. But the banks should not be the first port of call for the creative (you have angel investors etc).” Lastly, he touched on the need for infrastructure in the creative space on the African Continent.
The founder of Tiffany Amber Nigeria, Ms. Folake Akindele reeled the delegates with Tiffany Amber journey. She stated that “Tiffany Amber has grown organically and there were times we wanted to scale up by getting funding but it was difficult. As Africans we have tended to see our tangible wealth but other countries always see the cultural capital. Governments have to invest in cultural capital of their creative sector.

And to the creative people, you must be able to create a business that outlives you.”
Another enriching panel was The Economy of Sports: Driving Transformative Impact in Africa’s Sports Ecosystem session. The renowned British author Ms. Michelle Moore, who is United Kingdom’s 50 Most Influential Women in Sports posited that; “Sports has this incredible power and cultural presence. Sports teach you how to win and how to lose. It enables us to use it as a vehicle to engage with communities.

When we have athletes from the communities giving back, it has a lot of impact on the communities and the people in and from that community and sports activism is very crucial.” She asked a pertinent question: How do we connect African sports athletes to the global sports activism when appropriate?

The CEO of NBA Africa, Victor Williams stated that; “During the covid19 lockdown, people were using sports to lift themselves up. Also, during the lockdown, it was glaring how people wanted sports to get back on.

During one of the darkest periods of history in this century, sports was one of the things people used to get through mental situations, economic growth and contribution on the African Continent. As it took a lot from people. It is going to take more than what is on the ground currently pertaining to sports and basketball in particular. It would take more in government support and fast execution to build facilities. It is going to take more in terms of the local government structures. It is going to take infrastructure from the grassroots to the elite level. The African youth is multi-talented and we must give them all the avenues to express their talents. It is going to take a whole eco-system to make this work. It also has to be a story of gender equality and representation (on court and off court). Without infrastructure, which is lagging on the Continent, sports would not be at its optimum best. Another issue is data. The data of sports viewing and everything around it, is very limited and cant be accessed in a lot of African countries asides South Africa.

The two-time NBA All Star Joakim Noah who is also the founder of Noah Arc Foundation highlighted that fact that and in his own words; “When I come to the African Continent, I don’t see hoops for children. The grassroots matter. When you have hoops that are small for children to play with, you begin to see children get interested in playing basketball. One of the most important things in sports is mentorship. It doesn’t have anything to do with money, it has a lot to do with accessibility to the mentors. Who are those teaching the children? When you see Senegal winning in sports, you can see why. They are funding and investing in sports. That is the simple and honest truth.”

With the global frenzy about Artificial Intelligence, the “AI, The Future of Work and Art: Collaborator or Competitor. Where is Africa in this?” Session was revealing. James Hewes, President and CEO of International Federation of Periodical Publishers (FIPP) was of the view that; “AI tools require feeding to work; meaning humans have to continue to feed it content to churn out results. AI is disrupting several things including coding but it is a blessing as it opens opportunities for creative people in the art space on the African Continent.”

Kola Oshalusi, the Nigerian founder of Business of Photography was of the view that; “There is a lot of potential in what AI can do presently. And from a business point of view, when you look at the numbers and if it can be adapted, it would be good for business. There are concerns about AI but solutions would be found. I believe AI is giving Africa something but we believe more in what is in the ground rather than what is out of the ground. AI is creating a level playing ground for Africa but do we let the other parts of world take the lead? On her part, Julia Defabo, curatorial lead for ‘Road to 100 Million Climate Soldiers’; opined that from the art sector, “AI is a bit scary seeing what has been unfolding on social media.”

Whilst Nnenna Onyewuchi, co-Founder and Chief Growth Officer at Halo Invest concluded by stating that: “Seeing how people use Ai, it is good to know that AI aggregates, and it is important to note that Artificial Intelligence does not create data. We should be able to know how to use AI for insights. I don’t think we have lack of data; I believe the data are in several places and not centralised. Also, we have to invest in AI. The private sector has a big role to play in pushing the profitability of AI when well harnessed. When the private sector sees the money, they would convince the Governments on the African Continent to see the profitability in harnessing Artificial Intelligence. Everyone is scared, but you do it because there is a reward.

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Court Denies Binance Executive Tigran Gambaryan Bail

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Justice Emeka Nwite of the Federal High Court Abuja, on Friday, refused to grant bail to an executive of Binance Holdings Limited, Tigran Gambaryan.

Justice Nwite held that Gambaryan is likely to jump bail if granted to him.

The company and its executive were arraigned on a five-count charge bordering on money laundering before Emeka Nwite, judge of a Federal High Court in Abuja.

The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charge.

Moving an application, Counsel to the Defendant, Mark Mordi, argued that the court had the power to grant bail to the defendant and impose conditions to ensure his presence in court.

The prosecution counsel, Ekele Iheanacho, however opposed the bail application, stating that the defendant is a flight risk.

He stated that the defendant attempted to obtain a new passport, which he claimed was stolen, and this is a suspicious act given the proximity to his colleague’s escape from custody.

He added that the court cannot risk granting Gambaryan bail, especially as he is not attached to any community in Nigeria.

“The fact that the passport of the defendant is with the complainant does not guarantee that he will remain in Nigeria because the defendant is not only an American citizen but also an Armenian citizen by birth.

He urged the court to refuse the application and instead remand him in EFCC custody to ensure his safety and prevent potential flight risk.

Delivering ruling, the judge said several factors including the nature of offence and its severity must be considered when trying to decide whether or not bail should be granted to the defendant applicant.

Justice Nwite agreed with the depositions made by prosecution and was of the view that the applicant will jump bail if bail is granted to him.

He subsequently ordered that the trial be given an accelerated hearing.

After the ruling, the EFCC called its first witness, a staff of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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Governor Adeleke Felicitates with Dele Momodu at 64

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The Executive Governor of Osun State, Senator Ademola Adeleke has felicitated with the celebrated journalist, and Publisher of Ovation Magazine, Akinrogun Dele Momodu on the occasion of his 64th birthday, describing him as “a pride of the media industry.”

Governor Adeleke noted Akinrogun Momodu’s heartwarming contributions to a just and equitable society, saying he has touched the minds and hearts of countless people with insightful words, logistic support and unwavering dedication to truth and justice.

The Governor appreciates the Ovation Magazine Publisher’s sustained commitment to informing and enlightening the public as a weapon of nation building, acknowledging him as an inspirational figure, who has empowered readers to think critically, and engage meaningfully.

“I congratulate my dear friend, Akinrogun Dele Momodu, on the auspicious occasion of his birthday. The Aare Tayese of Iwoland is a unique personality, who has touched lives positively and brought smiles to countless faces,” the Governor was quoted in a congratulatory message, signed by his spokesperson, Mallam Olawale Rasheed.

“On this auspicious occasion, I honour both your wonderful life and exceptional contributions to the media sector and the larger society. I note, with admiration, Akinrogun Momodu’s deep sense of commitment to a better Nigeria, which is manifest in columns and public discourse.

“On behalf of my family, I convey best wishes to Akinrogun Momodu on his birthday and it is my prayer that God grant him many celebrations in good health and happiness while also bestowing him the grace to give more to humanity.”

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Why We’re Charging Helicopter Landing Fee – Aviation Ministry

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The Ministry of Aviation and Aerospace Development on Monday said the introduction of helicopter landing levies was in line with global best practices and cost recovery measures.

This is contained in a statement by Odutayo Oluseyi, Head, Press and Public Affairs of the ministry in Lagos.

According to Mr Oluseyi, the ministry recognises the importance of helicopter operations in Nigeria’s aviation industry and is committed to implementing international best practices in helicopter operations.

He said that helicopter landing levies were commonplace in countries such as the US, the United Kingdom, India and various other regions worldwide.

He maintained that Tallahassee International Airport in Florida began implementing helicopter landing levies under Vector Airport Systems, since 1 October 2022.

Mr Oluseyi said helicopter landing levies were common across airfields in the United Kingdom, ranging from major commercial ones, to small general aviation fields.

He added that, typically, helicopter levies matched or exceeded those for fixed-wing aircraft, and varied based on factors like location and services provided.

“The federal government has granted NAEBI Dynamic Concepts Ltd exclusive rights to collect helicopter landing levies in line with the MoU between NAEBI Concept and NAMA (focal Agency), Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) and the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).

“It is instructive to note that NAMA, under the Act as amended in 2022, is empowered to collect aeronautical revenues in both the upper and lower airspace to support her self-sustainability.

“However, over the years, NAMA has predominantly relied on the upper airspace for her revenue generation.

“Government in her wisdom, having discovered a lacuna on the lower airspace where helicopter operations is dominant, directed NAMA to live up to its responsibilities, to enable them generate enough resources, to sustain their aeronautical architecture, enhance security and surveillance and improve the overall quality of helicopter operations in Nigeria,” he said.

According to Mr Oluseyi, the government is confident that the move will improve capacity, efficiency, safety, security and attract more investments in the aviation industry.

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