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‘Corruption is Not An African Issue’, AfDB President, Adesina Speaks to The Guardian

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Africa holds the future workforce for the ageing economies of the west, according to one of the continent’s leading financial figures, who also said it was time to ditch the myths around corruption and risk.

In an exclusive interview before this weekend’s World Bank meetings in Morocco, Akinwumi Adesina said there was a resurgence of belief in Africa’s economic prospects and attacked negative stereotyping, adding that there was “every reason to be optimistic”.

Now midway through his second five-year term as president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Nigerian former agriculture minister said the continent’s demographic advantage, expanding middle class, and vast investment opportunities meant a shift was under way.

“And not before time – we’re tired of being at the bottom of the value chain,” Adesina said. “The fastest way to poverty is through exporting raw materials, but the highway to wealth is through global value chains by adding value to everything you have, from oil to gas to minerals to metals and food. We must add value.

Established in 1964, the AfDB is Africa’s only AAA-rated financial institution, focused on what Adesina said were his “high fives”: enabling universal access to electricity, improving quality of life, industrialising, food self-sufficiency, and integrating the continent’s 54 countries to create larger and more efficient markets.

“I don’t think that you can have development with pride unless you can feed yourself,” he said.

He said the record-breaking amounts attracted from international investors in the past few years pointed to a renewed trust in the bank’s ability to fast-track development across Africa, particularly in the 37 low-income countries.

“The 81 shareholders of the bank provided us with an increase in the bank’s capital at the end of 2019, from $93bn to $208bn [£76bn to £171bn] – the highest capital increase in the bank’s history. That was timely because little could we have imagined that we were going to move into the world of Covid.

“So that increase allowed us very quickly to do an emergency support facility of $10bn in Covid crisis response for Africa and to immediately respond when the global food crisis was coming from the Russia’s war in Ukraine. We launched a $1.5bn emergency food-production facility to mitigate that global geopolitical crisis leading to a food crisis in Africa.”

But he does want the international financial systems to be structured fairer, so that African nations have as equal access as the developed nations to reserves and liquidity. Adesina will be taking his call for equity to this weekend’s World Bank summit.

“What is very important for us is the issue of the special drawing rights. Africa needs to have a lot more resources for financing climate, but what is actually out there it’s not enough. We have on the table right now the special drawing rights of the IMF. But when they were issued, US$650 billion were issued, Africa got US$33 billion. It’s 4.5%, it’s not good. You have small countries in Europe that got more and that is not fair and not inclusive.” With 190 member states in the IMF, Africa’s 54 countries should have been closer to receiving 25% of the special drawing rights.

“African heads of state are asking for US$100 billion to be re channelled from the countries that got it and don’t use it, or need it,” Adesina said, and he believes this could be key to real progress.

“We might think of maybe just adjusting it a little bit. And calling it supporting development revitalisation. That’s also SDRs.”

Corruption, he said, is actually less in Africa than other parts of the world. “The global financial crisis that brought the world down in 2008 – that was not in Africa,” he said. “We have no Wall Street.

“That collapse came from greed, from corruption, from fraud.

“You have people cooking the books that are in the financial industry in Europe, not in Africa. Corruption is not an African issue.

“The issue is, that’s not to say that there’s none. What you have to do is to continue to improve transparency, accountability and the use of public resources.

“I just came back from Eritrea. I hear a lot of things about Eritrea but my first time there and I was talking to UN Development Programme staff. You know what they told me? That, in Eritrea, corruption is 0%. Why do we not talk about that? That’s the kind of thing that we want to do. For us as a development bank, we take good governance very, very seriously.

“As far as I am concerned, people’s resources do not belong in other people’s pockets. Governments must be accountable to their people. There has to be transparency in how the resources are acquired and used. That’s why we have a governance programme. When you get money from us, we also support you technically. You are accounting for those resources.

“I don’t want to minimise that Africa has a significant amount of illicit capital flows; it does – anything between $80bn and $100bn a year. But guess what? Those that are doing that are the multinational companies. And so what we have got to do is bring a searchlight to that.”

However, the biggest challenge lay in the climate crisis, he said. “Africa today is losing $7bn to $15bn a year from climate change. And that’s going to rise to $50bn a year by 2030. Yet it receives only 3% of the global climate finance.”

The African climate summit in Nairobi last month was a “great success”, he said.

“For the first time, African countries got together to say we’re not going to talk about climate issues individually; we’re putting forward African issues collectively. That itself was a success.

“I made a case at the summit that Africa’s wealth should be revalued based on the value of its natural capital; if you did that, these countries that are currently rich in natural capital, but are cash poor, will become richer. Many people think the largest carbon lung in the world is the Amazon. But it is the Congo basin forest. Now, if Africa is providing this global good, why is it not accounted for in its GDP?

“I’m an eternal optimist – they call me Africa’s optimist-in-chief – because look at the numbers: Africa’s population is going to be 1.72 billion by 2030. Seven years from now. That’s larger than China, larger than India. 477 million of those are young people, between 15 and 35. That’s a skilled workforce; that would be the labour, a workforce for the world.

“I can go into any country you have in Europe, or in Japan, and it’s a rapidly ageing workforce and they are looking for people. A skilled African population would be able to supply that. And when they do that, guess what: they put a lot of remittances back into the continent. So Africa is part of the solution of the lack of skills in the global labour market.”

He said renewable energy and agriculture were also growth opportunities. “Africa has 60% of the world’s solar power. That is an $100bn investment opportunity for Africa to become able to light up itself, but also to harness a renewable energy and reduce global emissions.

“Take food: the ability to feed the world by 2050 will not depend on the US or China, Japan or Europe, because 65% of the arable land left uncultivated in the world is in Africa. So what Africa then does with agriculture and how we all invest in agriculture will determine the future of food in the world.

“Also, take a look at other opportunities that Africa has: mobile money services, financial services – there’s tremendous growth. If you look at the number of people using mobile phones in Africa: 650 million. That is larger than the US and Europe together, and when you look at the financial services – whether mobile phone or e-health, insurance, digital payments – a revolution has happened in Africa.

“You have $701bn just from digital payments in the world – 70% of digital payments in the world happening in Africa.

“I go out and I see young people in the fintech industry that are leading today globally. So, my optimism, it’s realistic.

“Take a look at electric vehicles. Guess what: the metals for all of that are in Africa. Africa has 80% of the world supply of platinum, 50% of copper, 40% of manganese. Huge amount of lithium all about.

“We want to have investors globally investing. We have to make sure the governance environment is right, that incentives are right.

“Don’t just believe what I say, believe what the data says. Bloomberg did an analysis of the default rates on infrastructure globally over the past 14 years, around the world. Guess what they found: Africa’s default rate is the lowest in the world – 2.1%. Eastern Europe: well over 10%. Asia: well over 8%.

“We’re doing everything we can to make sure investments can land in Africa, like a plane on a smooth landing strip.”

Culled from The Guardian – Story by Kenneth Mohammed 

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Whiz Kid, Abdul-salam, Seeks Assistance to Prosecute M.Sc Studies in Scotland

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By Eric Elezuo

Teslim Abdul-salam, a 24-year-old Nigerian, from Oyo State, has sent a save our soul message to well meaning Nigerians to come to his aid in his quest to become a Global Energy Leader and establish a Youth-led Sustainable Energy Company in Africa.

Abdul-salam made this disclosure during an exclusive chat with The Boss. He noted that he intends to extend his high flying academic sojourn with an opportunity to obtain an M.Sc degree in Energy Economics and Finance at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland, the admission he had already secured.

On why he thinks he is qualified for assistance from well meaning Nigerians to pursue the Masters honours, Abdul-salam said:

“My name is Teslim Abdul-salam, a 24-year-old Petroleum Engineering graduate from the First Technical University, Ibadan, Nigeria. I graduated with a Second Class Upper and have furthered my education with masterclasses in Leadership for Young Engineers from Guardian of the Nation International (GOTNI), Abuja, and in Business Management from the Tony Elumelu Foundation.

“Additionally, I hold diplomas in French Studies and Entrepreneurship Studies from the First Technical University, Ibadan.

“Throughout my academic and professional journey, I have achieved notable accomplishments. I received the Tech-Upreneur (Entrepreneur) Ambassador award in 2020, led a team that qualified for the Hult Prize Regional Entrepreneurship Competition in Cairo in 2020, and was among the Top 100 out of 17,000 applicants in the International Breweries Foundation (IBF) Kickstart Entrepreneurship Contest in 2019.

“I possess strong skills in public speaking, data analysis, business writing, and digital marketing. Currently, I run a digital freelance business in Nigeria.

“My long-term vision is to become a Global Energy Leader and to establish a Youth-led Sustainable Energy Company in Africa. I am a passionate advocate for climate action, focusing on making clean energy accessible and affordable for underserved communities in Africa.”

His avalanche of distinguished achievements notwithstanding, Abdul-salam is unable to move closer to his dreams of becoming a better person, and contributing his quota to the making of a better Nigeria with the MSc in Energy Economics and Finance, and therefore, seek financial assistance or sponsorship.

“I have been offered conditional admission to the MSc in Energy Economics and Finance programme at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. However, I am unable to meet the financial requirements for the programme.

“I am reaching out to request assistance in obtaining a scholarship or financial support to cover the tuition and living expenses for my postgraduate programme. This opportunity is crucial for me to achieve my goal of becoming a Global Energy Leader and contributing significantly to sustainable energy solutions in Africa. Any support or guidance you can provide would be immensely appreciated,” he said.

With the importance this administration has attached to education, it will not be out of place if the likes of Abdul-salam are assisted to achieve noble objectives in science, management, finance among a host of other academic disciplines that can turn the fortunes of the nation, and reduce youth restiveness in the country.

Abdul-salam needs your assistance. Please, help!

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FG Endorses Groundbreaking Clean Cookstoves Project, Partners GreenPlinth Africa

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In a landmark move towards sustainable development and environmental conservation, the Federal Government of Nigeria through the National Council on Climate Change has officially endorsed a revolutionary initiative aimed at addressing global climate crisis, environmental challenges and improving livelihoods across the nation.

Under the auspices of GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, in collaboration with strategic partners, an ambitious Article 6.4 project has been launched to distribute 80 million clean cookstoves free of charge to households throughout Nigeria.

This initiative, the largest single clean cooking systems project in the world, marks a significant step forward in combatting the adverse health and environmental impacts associated with traditional cooking methods, such as indoor air pollution and deforestation.

The provision of clean cookstoves is set to transform the lives of millions of Nigerians, particularly women and children, who are disproportionately affected by the harmful effects of traditional cooking practices. The adoption of clean and efficient cookstoves by households will lead to improved indoor air quality, reduce respiratory illnesses, and largely contribute to mitigating climate change through lower carbon emissions.

In a statement by Dr. Olawale Akinwumi, president and CEO of GREENPLINTH AFRICA LIMITED, the Director General of the National Council on Climate Change, Dr. Salisu Dahiru recently issued a formal Letter of Endorsement (LoE) for the Improved And Efficient Cooking Energy Solution For Nigeria – a Programmatic Article 6.4 Project.

Dr. Dahiru, who is also the Designated National Authority (DNA) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Focal Point in Nigeria averred that the project would result in greenhouse gas emission reduction and more importantly lead to sustainable forest development and job creation in Nigeria.

According to him, besides reduction in domestic emissions, the project will decrease upper respiratory infections, thereby leading to improved health conditions; and equally enhance the nation in achieving sustainable development and the goals of Nigeria’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

Speaking on the importance of the project, Dr. Victor Fodeke, vice president and GMD of Greenplinth Africa Limited stated that the initiative will particularly benefits vulnerable communities, women, and children, who bear the brunt of health issues linked to traditional cooking practices. “Nigerians will experience tangible benefits while collectively contributing to global efforts in combating climate change”, he said.

Dr. Fodeke, a former Technical Adviser on Climate Change to the African Union (AU), declared that in addition to the deployment of clean cookstoves, the project includes an ambitious afforestation campaign, with plans to plant a staggering 4 billion economic trees across the nation. This initiative not only aims to combat deforestation but also to promote sustainable land management practices, enhance biodiversity, and create economic opportunities for communities across Nigeria – stimulating economic growth by creating new avenues for employment and income generation.

“The Article 6.4 Clean Cookstoves Project will be a foreign exchange earner for the Nigerian economy. This is first time anywhere in the world that efficient clean cookstoves project of this magnitude is being launched to be fully funded for every household, and 100% financed by Carbon Credits.

“Our PANDA Cookstove is also the first clean cookstove in the world to be launched with the co-benefit of Innovative Tree Planting and Nurturing to eliminate or reduce Poverty, Hunger, and Diseases,” he concluded.

The Federal Government’s endorsement of this groundbreaking Article 6.4 initiative underscores its commitment to fostering sustainable development, environmental stewardship, and the well-being of its citizens.

The Improved and Efficient Cooking Energy Solution for Nigeria is a United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Global Climate Action Portal (GCAP) registered Initiative.

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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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