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mingooland.com - Nigeria
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Monday called for more engagement between Nigeria’s National Assembly and the Egyptian parliament, with a view to sharing ideas that will address the challenges common to the two countries.
“We have opportunity to share ideas. Of course, the challenges are common,” Lawan said while receiving in audience the visiting Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament, Dr. Ali Abdellah.
“So the two parliaments – the Egyptian Parliament and Nigeria’s National Assembly should engage more to enable us support our governments with legislations that will help create sustained job opportunities for our youths,” Lawan said.
Lawan said African problems can better be resolved by Africans, adding that the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) is one agreement that will enhance the economy of African countries.
“Presently, trade volume between Egypt and Nigeria is not too high; we need to work harder to make the trade between the two countries better.
“I believe with the signing of the AfCFTA, there is room for us to increase trading activities between the two countries and also with other African countries,” Lawan said.
Lawan said Nigeria has a lot to learn from Egypt in the fight against terrorism, adding “Egypt has for long been fighting terrorism even before we started having terrorism in Nigeria”.
“So, we have a lot to learn from your experience in fighting terrorism. Our terrorism started like it was domestic, but now it is no more domestic, it is international.
“So, we will continue to have bilateral and multilateral engagements to find the best way to overcome terrorism in our countries, and we have a lot to learn from your experiences,” Lawan said.
Lawan expressed appreciation to the Egyptian Government for the training of some Nigerian security personnel in the art of fighting terrorism but lamented that “we still have a lot of challenges of weapons and ammunition coming into Nigeria through North Africa because of the fall of Libyan Government of Muammar Gaddafi.”
While describing the situation as a “big problem to us,” the Senate President said “this international dimension means that Nigeria must continue to talk to its friends like Egypt, and our neighbours, Benin Republic, Cameroon, Niger and Chad, so that we can work together to overcome the challenge.”
Earlier, Abdellah, who was accompanied on the visit by Egyptian Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Assem Hanafi called for collective efforts in fighting terrorism in Africa.
He said, as international phenomenon, terrorism could not successfully be tackled locally and called for a common position by African Parliaments for presentation to International Parliamentary Union (IPU) for adoption.
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Gatete Nyiringabo Ruhumuliza
Reading political economy at university in the last decade, one is undoubtedly thrust into a raging debate on green revolution, between developed and developing nations, with the former asking the later to pursue an environment friendly industrialization, and the latter retorting that it is simply a hypocritical demand: ‘You developed on coal, fracking and gasoline; this is our chance to develop, we’ll cross the green bridge when we reach it...’
As a native of a developing country, one is instinctively tempted to side with nations like Indian and China, against - say, Britain, US and Germany.
University sadly shaped us in a binary world; one of finger-pointing and zero-sum-game, a hopeless world… With Rwanda’s aspirational and progressive policies, it seems, there is still a chance.
Could green business make profit other than agriculture? Can green industry be labor-intensive? Donald Trump argued to the negative while pulling his country out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.
Apparently one has to pollute to create jobs! That has thus far been the only understanding. As a result, green economy had come to be known as an empty shell, a ‘sexy’ tag, chanted by puritans and academics to sound more concerned than the rest of mankind; or a favorite passe-temps for billionaire philanthropists, keen on laundering their names, after making money in fracking, oil and arm deals.
Rwanda has been implementing green policies for over a decade now, starting with the ban of plastic bags, smoking in public and littering aren’t allowed and once a month the population observe a ‘Car Free Day’ where all citizens are called to leave their motor vehicles at home and attend cycling, walking and public gym-tonic, followed by testing and treatment of hepatitis, diabetes and heart conditions offered to all – free of charge.
As for sceptics who claim it is all ostentatious. Today they were proven wrong, once again, with the partnership of two German giants; Volkswagen and Siemens, in powering an eco-friendly car to offer taxi services in the city of Kigali.
Now, it isn’t the first time that a country initiates electric cars - that isn’t the point. But given its economic position, Rwanda is the first of its kind - and indeed the first on the African continent.
When plastic bags were banned over a decade ago, many predicted a financial crisis, yet plastic industries were forced to innovate and find alternative manufactory, and they did.
That experience was then built upon to ban single-use plastic too, then second hand clothing and soon, gas-run motorcycles and ultimately gas-powered cars will be history.
This is an important statement to the rest of the world; a disruption of the ‘Africa narrative’: Africa isn’t what the world thinks it is. Africa fully manufactures high end smart phones and ‘moves’ in electric cars and on electric motorcycles. We aren’t hungry and violent upon each other, we are innovative and advanced!
Although on much smaller scale, and perhaps with little or no global impact materially, the launch of e-golfs in Rwanda today offers a strong ideological stand to all activists of Mother Earth - ‘Pacha Mama’ as they call it in South America.
It is also an indictment to zero-sum-game politics that pursue profit at the cost of our environment. The message here is that, if it can be done in smaller economies, it can be replicated in bigger ones too. You can develop in harmony with the environment; If you doubt it: just Visit Rwanda and see for yourself.
This however requires foresighted and aspirational leadership. Today India and China are at the peak of their developmental cycles, rivalling with the western world, but rivers and air are polluted. On some days, people literally move with masks to breathe in.
Although the two countries lead investment and compliance in green initiatives globally, they are swimming against the tide to reverse the consequences of their polluting industrialization in past decades.
The same can be said about the west. I am convinced if they all had to do it again, they would adopt much different policies - sustainable ones.
Alas! There are no frontiers in the sky. The impact of global warming is felt by all humans and much more in poor countries where coping mechanisms are scant. In other words, Africans pollutes less and suffer more, with droughts, floods and erosion.
There are emerging thesis which argue that global warming is also the cause of most conflicts currently ravaging the planet and Africa in particular. So our continent is understandably more concerned with protecting the planet.
Africa has a population of 1.2 billion people. With twelve million people, Rwanda is only the experiment and the gateway to Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt and DRC, respectively the four most populated countries on the continent, to move in eco-friendly cars - for a fully green mobility in Africa.
I will end with a postulate, which I had the chance to reaffirm this morning, listening to the young lady who heads the Volkswagen assembly plant in Rwanda.
Many colleagues with whom I went to university ask how Rwanda does it. And my answer to them is that, perhaps it is the center leadership roles that our government continuously give to women; human beings who tend to pursue other, healthier life goals than money? As the saying goes, if women could rule the world.
The Herald – Zimbabwe
Russia reaffirms intention to grow interest in Africa
By: Theo Neethling
The Russian government and state companies signed dozens of memoranda of understanding and agreements during the first Russia-Africa Summit in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi last week. Russia also promised further cooperation, building on recent agreements with individual African governments.
With the summit, the host, President Vladimir Putin, reaffirmed his intention to restore Russia as a major geopolitical player in Africa. Much of its political clout on the continent had waned in the post-Cold War period.
Russia’s trade with Africa remains below levels of trade with Europe, the US and Asia. And Africa has much larger trading relationships with China, the US and India than with Russia. Also, development aid to Africa largely comes from the US, China and Japan. This means that Russia’s engagement and presence in Africa is still lagging behind the other major powers in many ways.
One of Putin’s goals is clearly to revive his country’s great-power status. But how can Africa help him achieve this? First, Africa is an important market for Russian arms exports. It is also where Russia has made key investments in the oil, gas and nuclear power sectors. And Africa is an important source of minerals for Russia.
The summit, the first ever of its kind, is a clear indication that Russia is stepping up its efforts to increase its influence in Africa. The deals signed all underscore how Moscow is using strategic investment in energy and minerals, as well as military muscle and soft power, to gain more traction on the continent.
Arms export and security deals
Russia accounts for 35 percent of arms exports to Africa, followed by China with 17 percent, the US with 9.6 percent and France with 6.9 percent. Africa is the second largest importer of Russian arms globally. The Asia-Pacific region tops the list with 60 percent. Russia has also signed close to 20 bilateral military cooperation agreements with African governments in recent years. These range from the supply of military aircraft to missiles and engines. Algeria is the largest importer of Russian weapons in Africa, followed by Egypt, Angola and Uganda.
Other military agreements with African states pertain to cooperation on countering terrorism, including jointly training troops for peacekeeping on the continent. The countries involved include Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Niger and Rwanda.
At the summit, African states wholeheartedly embraced Russia’s newly established relations. South Africa’s Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, made this clear when he said:
“Anybody who gets business going, either from the Russian point of view or the African point of view, in the medium term will benefit from that process.”
This was borne out in some of the deals finalised in Sochi. For example, Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, purchased 12 military helicopters. In turn, Russia agreed last week to assist Nigeria in its fight against Boko Haram. The terror group has waged a decade-long insurgency in the northeastern parts of the country.
Russia relies on imports from Africa to cover its requirements for minerals such as manganese, bauxite and chromium.
In addition, Great Dyke Investments, a company jointly owned by the Russian and Zimbabwean governments, is developing a $4 billion venture to mine the world’s largest deposits of platinum in Zimbabwe. In oil-rich Angola, discussions with Russian companies have focused on hydrocarbon production.
Russia is also interested in Namibia’s uranium. In recent years, Rosatom and the Namibian government have been finalising an agreement on cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. And the Russian state-run oil company Rosneft has benefited from a cooperation agreement between the Russian and Mozambican governments to develop offshore gas exploration in Mozambique.
Precious gems, especially diamonds and gold, are also on Russia’s list of priorities in Africa. Moscow has thus deepened relations with Angola, where Alrosa, the Russian diamond mining giant, mines diamonds.
In some instances, military and mineral interests are intertwined. For example, in the Central Africa Republic (CAR) a Russian military and security company known in the Russian media as the Wagner Group is strongly linked to diamond exploration in the country.
Discussions have been held between the CAR and Russia to explore the country’s natural resources, especially diamonds and gold, on a concession basis. And Russia has successfully managed to offer weapons and instructors to train CAR military forces in exchange for access to markets and mining rights.
Russian companies are very active in the energy sector too, making significant investments in Algeria, Egypt, Uganda and Angola.
Several Russian companies, including Gazprom, the global gas company; Lukoil, the oil multinational; Rostec, the advanced technology company; and Rosatom, the clean energy company; have done numerous deals amounting to billions of US dollars.
These companies are either State-owned or State-controlled. They are beneficiaries of State contracts from the Kremlin and qualify for preferential loans from State-owned banks. Because of the close relationship between the State and these companies, investments are mostly or often linked to diplomatic considerations. Moscow’s nuclear deals fall firmly into this category. For example, Russia is negotiating with Egypt on its first nuclear plant. In Nigeria, a major deal has been concluded with Russia on the construction of two nuclear power plants, with a view to ending the country’s ongoing energy crisis.
Russia promised aid to combat the Ebola virus and to accommodate more Africans at Russian universities. The details of many agreements are not clear, but Moscow claims that it racked up $12.5 billion in deals during the two-day summit. Critics argue that it remains to be seen whether these deals will materialise as real investments in Africa.