By Kester Kenn Klomegah
Kenya’s Peter Mutuku Mathuki has been appointed to head the East African Community (EAC), the regional bloc that brings East African countries under one umbrella.
Mr Mathuki replaces Burundi’s Liberat Mfumukeko, whose five-year term ended in early 2021. The post is usually rotational for five years.
As Secretary-General of the regional bloc, his key tasks include regional development, increasing inter-regional trade and to address investment possibilities for both potential internal and external investors.
According to his profile, Mr Mathuki has worked as Executive Director at the East African Business Council and consequently emerged as the top candidate for the position.
Over the years, he has been dealing with the corporate business sector and believed to have sufficient experience and contacts useful to address incessant wrangles in the East African Community.
Mr Mathuki previously served as a member of the East African Legislative Assembly, chairing the Committee on Legal Affairs and Good Governance as well as Accounts, Trade and Investment.
He has held political positions in Kenya and in international bodies including the International Labour Standards at the former International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU-Africa), now ITUC-Africa, which he served as director. He was also a consultant for European Union programmes in Kenya.
The appointee comes on board as the African continent implements the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) agreement, where he has been involved in the creation of the nascent African Business Council. Trading under this AfCFTA began on January 1, 2021, and opens up more opportunities for both local African and foreign investors from around the world.
He was taken on as a rectification strategy by Kenya, following a low-key leadership by Mfumukeko. Under his term, countries routinely skipped summits and member states wrangled over tariffs and political accusations. His secretariat faced financial constraints as member states delayed remitting their membership dues and donors reduced funding following allegations of corruption.
The latest report from the East African Community Secretariat for this year shows, for example, that South Sudan is the most indebted member of the EAC. It owes $24.6 million in funding towards the main budget even though it should pay up to $32.4 million including this year’s dues. It should also pay $2.8 million to the Inter-University Council of East Africa and another US$345,000 to the Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization.
The main budget usually funds the operations of the EAC Secretariat, the East African Court of Justice, the East African Legislative Assembly and other bodies dealing with specified fields. The Secretary-General is the principal executive and accounting officer of the community as well as the secretary of the summit and serves for a fixed period of five years.
The East African Community (EAC) first collapsed and was revived in November 1999 to strengthen ties between the members through a common market, a common customs tariff, and a range of public services to achieve balanced economic growth within the region.
Under the current Chairman, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame, many businesses and market players perceive positively the region as stable for long-term beneficial business, investment and trade. Some political, social and economic challenges still remain to be addressed, though.
With a combined population estimated at 183 million, the region is relatively large. The East African Community is an intergovernmental organization composed of six countries in the Great Lakes region in Eastern Africa. The members are Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
Gebeya Targets Chunk of $1.5trn Freelancer Economy Industry
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
Though the global freelancer economy industry is estimated to worth $1.5 trillion, Africa only controls 1.4 per cent and according to data, North America accounts for over half of the total freelancers in the world, about 78 million, with $486 million going to tech freelancers.
But this is about to change as a pan-African source for freelance professional talent, Gebeya, is target a fair chunk of the pie.
In 2020, the company raised a $2 million seed investment co-led by Partech and Orange Ventures and followed by Consonance Investment Managers, to set up the machine for scale, fully automated and digitized.
On Monday, June 14, 2021, the firm announced the launch of its revamped marketplace, the first of its kind in terms of reach in Africa. Prior to investment, Gebeya operated mostly a manual non-scalable marketplace model.
As experts project, freelancers will constitute 80 per cent of the workforce by 2030 andGebeya’s vision is to unlock the power of the skilled workforce on the continent and increase the number of innovative startups leading the helm of digital transformation.
The Gebeya Marketplace boasts of an intelligent matching algorithm that considers location, language, and budget, an automated matching for a seamless experience on a single dashboard and the ability to create a profile and request talent at no cost.
Also, the platform has an option to hire individual talent with specialized skills or build a core team, a dedicated Account Representative, a smooth handling of administrative and finance processes, and an access to a diverse pool, ready to work remotely.
Visitors to the Gebeya Marketplace are matched with freelancers from a carefully curated pool, trusted by multinational telecommunications companies like Orange, as well as e-commerce startups such as Limestart, and logistics startup Paps.
“It’s time for businesses to leverage the sharp skills and fresh perspective that freelancers infuse into a permanent workforce,” said Amadou Daffe, CEO and Co-founder of Gebeya.
“Africa doesn’t have a talent deficiency, it has a matching problem and that is what Gebeya is seeking to address through the deployment of a true Pan-African freelance marketplace,” he added.
“Freelancers are part of a smart, agile hiring strategy. We plan to expand our pool of skilled freelance talent to 15,000 within the next 3 years,” noted Amadou.
Since its inception, Gebeya has played an integral role in aggressively moving the needle forward, bringing Africa’s competitiveness to the forefront of the global digital and technical landscape. New features on the platform will connect businesses with talent in minutes.
Demand for African talent on the Gebeya platform is Pan-African, from East to West Africa – and reaches as far as the EU and the US, as its quality and calibre is comparable to freelancers in those markets. Clients are only matched with talents who have successfully passed vetting, testing, and an interview. Freelance talents possess experience in exploding sectors like fintech, healtech, agritech, and logistics & supply chains, meaning individual entrepreneurs, startups, and large enterprises alike will benefit.
Nigerian Oil Workers Threaten to Shut Down Chevron
By Adedapo Adesanya
Some oil workers under the aegis of the Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG) and Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) have threatened to disrupt oil field operations of Chevron Nigeria Limited.
The Nigerian oil workers, through its joint executive union, NUPENGASSAN, threatened this action following the refusal of the company to meet its 14-day ultimatum issued to address their demands.
In a letter addressed to the Managing Director and Chief Executive of Chevron Nigeria Limited, the aggrieved employees alleged the energy firm of inhumane treatment of three of their members.
“The inhuman treatment meted out to the affected Nigerian workers is antithetical to all applicable laws of the federal government of Nigeria as well as other international laws that guide employment and the protection of the rights of workers.
“As a union, we are greatly disturbed by your disregard for due process the termination of the Nigerian workers,” a part of the letter read.
The union also raised dust over what it described as the unlawful disengagement of Bukola Sola Adebawo, James Ukachukwu and John Ayeni.
The group noted that the firing of the three workers attached to IESL, Candid Oil and Expameadow was influenced by Chevron, which it claimed adopted new labour policies that were detrimental to contract labour workers and in contravention of labour laws, as well as in disregard of the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
And as a result, the Joint Executive Committee of NUPENGASSAN in Chevron issued a 14-day notice, demanding that the termination of the Nigerian workers be rescinded, warning that it would take all steps deemed necessary to protect the rights of the Nigerian workers.
But after the 14 days’ notice expired, Chevron and the contract companies refused to meet the demands of the union.
The group said the 10 major issues raised in their letter dated January 21, 2021, have remained unresolved despite several meetings and the intervention of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Employment.
“Our findings revealed that the management has tactfully perfected the plans to casualize the contracts, moving present IEME maintenance labour contract personnel to a service contract on reduced pay which will be determined by the new service contractors.
“All personnel on the IEME maintenance labour contract will be forced to go home, and the new companies will provide new employees for the service contracts,” the unions said, adding that the company was also determined to short-change staff who were compelled to work from home in the payment of compensation for ergonomic tools.
“CNL through her labour contract companies has directed labour contract personnel working from home to provide receipts for ergonomic chairs and tables for them to compensate with N70,000.
“The ergonomic chair costs $1,250 in the market; therefore, we are demanding unconditionally N150,000 flat payments to all affected labour contract personnel working from home as compensation for ergonomic tools required to work safely at home,” the oil workers’ group said.
The union said that what it found most troubling was the surreptitious move to casualise the labour force, adding that – “it has come to the notice of NUPENGASSAN JEC that management plans to change all the manpower contract (Labour Contracts) to service contracts as it is presently happening to – IEME, Xepameado, and Ykish contracts. The contractors that supply manpower to Chevron are being categorized as service contract while the jobs remain as labour jobs.”
“The plan to change all jobs to casual jobs is against the FML&E guidelines. It is only a contractor that supplies manpower and tools to the organization that can be categorized as a service contract! The JEC is demanding that all manpower contracts should be changed to a labour contract with immediate effect.”
In its latest letter, the union threatened to shut down Chevron oilfield operations without further notice if the company fails to take necessary steps.
Buhari Appoints Ilelah as NBC Director-General
By Aduragbemi Omiyale
A veteran broadcaster, Mr Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, has been appointed as the substantive Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
Mr Ilelah was selected for the job by President Muhammadu Buhari, a statement issued on Friday by Mr Segun Adeyemi, the media aide to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed.
It was disclosed in the statement that the appointment of the new head of the broadcasting industry regulatory agency is for five years in the first instance.
“President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed Mr Balarabe Shehu Ilelah, a veteran broadcaster, as the Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).
“The Minister of Information and Culture, [Mr] Lai Mohammed, announced the appointment in a statement issued in Abuja on Friday.
“He said Mr Ilelah’s appointment is for a tenure of five years in the first instance,” the statement said.
Mr Ilelah is replacing Mr Armstrong Idachaba, who has occupied the position in an acting capacity for a while.
Mr Idachaba was recently in the eye of the storm when he directed all broadcast stations in the country to deactivate their Twitter accounts following the suspension of the social platform in the country by the federal government.
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