By Kester Kenn Klomegah
The African Development Bank (AfDB), which sets its primary tasks of contributing to the continent’s economic and social development by providing the necessary concessional funding for projects and programmes, as well as offering and coordinating assistance in capacity-building activities, has now embarked on various post-COVID-19 initiatives throughout the continent, especially in the least developed African countries.
In the latest was the mid-March event where potential investors have examined more than $50 billion of curated bankable projects in key priority sectors identified in the Africa Investment Forum’s 2020 Unified Response to COVID-19 initiative.
The sectors include agriculture and agro-processing; education; energy and climate; healthcare; minerals and mining; information and communications technology and telecommunication; and industrialization and trade. Nine of these projects are women-led, with a potential value of $5 billion.
The AfDB has secured $32.8 billion in investment commitments for projects in Africa. The largest deal secured at the three-day Africa Investment Forum was $15.6 billion for the Lagos-Abidjan mega highway of about 1,200 km (745 miles) will have four to six lanes, connecting West Africa’s two major cities in Nigeria and Ivory Coast, said AfDB President, Mr Akinwumi Adesina.
“Africa is a very bankable continent. We’ve gone through hard times because of the Covid-19 situation but here we are on a rebound,” said Adesina. “Africa is back for investments.” The projects, part of the bank’s Covid-19 response, touch on sectors including agriculture and agro-processing, education, energy and climate, healthcare, minerals and mining, and information and communications technology.
Adesina said that on the health side, projects include a new medical city in Accra, Ghana, a fund for health services for low-income populations in South Africa, and two platforms for manufacturing pharmaceutical products: one in West Africa and one in Kenya.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), launched under the African Union, provides unique and valuable access to an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people. In practical reality, it aims at creating a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of business people and investments in Africa.
The bank together with health giants has also set eyes on capitalizing on the advantages and conditions to push for healthcare issues. It, as well, is expected to advance the integration of African markets and standards for pharmaceuticals and other goods.
As a result, the Africa Investment Forum is curating several investment-ready transactions that align closely with the three healthcare pillars outlined by the AfDB President.
The investor boardroom sessions feature a $49 million transaction involving the construction of a pharmaceutical and biomedical hub in West Africa. The hub will incorporate a logistics platform, research and development facilities and an academic institution that could serve the region and the wider continent in vaccine manufacturing and drug and medical development.
A second vaccine-related transaction is a $45 million production plant in East Africa, which the World Health Organization (WHO) has pre-qualified. The plant will routinely produce three vaccines, including one for COVID-19.
It was no surprise that the WHO recently announced that Kenya, Senegal, Tunisia, South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria would be the first participants in its mRNA technology transfer hub initiative. The initiative paves the way for the manufacture and licensing of a range of pharmaceuticals in these six countries. It is likely to trigger strong investor interest in Africa’s burgeoning pharmaceutical sector.
The Africa Investment Forum and AfDB have championed two initiatives that are driving trade integration and regulatory harmonization throughout Africa. These are the African Medical Agency and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area.
In order to realize further its set goals, the AfDB has approved funding of $127.8 million to Niger. The funds approved by the Board of Directors of the African Development Fund, the Group’s concessional arm, will be used for a project to open up access to farming and pastoral lands in the east of the country, along its border with Nigeria.
It has also approved a $125.3 million loan to finance the first phase of the Dodoma Resilient and Sustainable Water Development and Sanitation Program in Tanzania.
Specifically, the loan from the African Development Fund will cover the construction of a dam and water treatment plant to address supply challenges in Dodoma City and the towns of Bahi, Chemba and Chamwino.
As a lead partner of the 9th World Water Forum, it plans to earmark more than $5.6 million to support the forum, billed as the world’s largest international water-related gathering. The event will be an opportunity for attendees to gain a deeper insight into how the bank provides technical and financial support to regional member countries to ensure water security for sustainable development in their territories through its Water Development and Sanitation Department.
“As one of the leading financing institutions on the continent with a commitment to the development of Africa’s water and sanitation sectors, it is a natural fit for the African Development Bank to support the Government of Senegal in co-hosting this Forum,” said Beth Dunford, the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development. “Failure is not an option when it comes to mitigating the imbalance between water needs and water availability to boost economic development and stability,” she added.
Last month, for instance, it approved a $1.4 million grant for enhancing private sector engagement and capacity building for refugees and internally displaced persons in fragile areas of northern Mozambique.
The project will be implemented by the global refugee agency UNHCR, collaborating with the Government of Mozambique. The grant is from the Transition Support Facility Pillar III.
Mozambique is host to 28,000 refugees and asylum seekers and over 735,000 people displaced by ongoing violence in Cabo Delgado Province. The majority of the internally displaced people remained in the province. An estimated 69,000 people moved to Nampula, and the remaining moved to the provinces of Niassa, Sofala, and Zambezia.
As the United States and European sanctions broadened due to the “special military operation”, largely directed at “demilitarization” and “denazification” in Ukraine, there are, undoubtedly, terrible impacts on the African economy: increase in the price of gas, oil, agricultural raw materials…et cetera.
There is also some African ambiguity about Russia, with the public seeing Putin as a strongman who would therefore have the right to decide on a country’s future security alliances while being very concerned about their sovereignty.
The Russia-Ukraine crisis that started on February 24, to a considerable extent, has affected a number of African countries. The AfDB plans to raise $1bn (£759m) to support agricultural production in Africa and shield the continent from potential food shortages arising from the Russia-Ukraine crisis.
Agricultural trade between the continent’s countries and Russia and Ukraine is significant. African countries imported $4 billion worth of agricultural products from Russia in 2020.
About 90% of these products were wheat, and 6% were sunflower oil. The main importing countries were Egypt, which accounted for almost half of the imports, followed by Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, Algeria, Kenya and South Africa.
The UN also says at least 15 African countries get more than half their wheat from the two warring nations. Somalia, Benin, Egypt and Sudan are the most dependent. “The AfDB sees these increases in prices of wheat, maize and soya beans as potentially going to worsen food insecurity and raise inflation,” Mr Adesina said.
The bank intends to organize a meeting of African finance and agriculture ministers to roll out that plan. Through the fund, AfDB wants to increase the production of wheat rice, maize and soya beans using climate-resilient technologies, including heat-tolerant and drought-tolerant crop varieties. The heat-tolerant wheat variety has already been experienced in Sudan and Ethiopia.
The Africa Investment Forum, launched in 2018, is a multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary platform that advances private and public-private partnership projects to bankability. It raises capital and accelerates deals to financial closure.
The Africa Investment Forum is an initiative of the eight founding partners including the African Development Bank; Africa 50; the Africa Finance Corporation; the Africa Export-Import Bank; the Development Bank of Southern Africa; the Trade and Development Bank; the European Investment Bank; and the Islamic Development Bank.
AfDB Board Okays $1.5bn to Avert Food Crisis in Africa
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Groups (AfDB) on Friday approved a $1.5 billion facility to help African countries avert a looming food crisis.
With the disruption of food supplies arising from the Russia-Ukraine war, Africa now faces a shortage of at least 30 million metric tons of food, especially wheat, maize, and soybeans imported from both countries.
The Abidjan-based bank, among other institutions, has disclosed that African farmers urgently need high-quality seeds and inputs before the planting season begins in May to immediately boost food supplies.
The Abidjan based bank’s $1.5 billion African Emergency Food Production Facility is an unprecedented comprehensive initiative to support smallholder farmers in filling the food shortfall. It will provide 20 million African smallholder farmers with certified seeds.
Also, it will increase access to agricultural fertilizers and enable them to rapidly produce 38 million tons of food, which is about a $12 billion increase in food production in just two years.
The President of AfDB Group, Mr Akinwumi Adesina, said: “Food aid cannot feed Africa. Africa does not need bowls in hand. Africa needs seeds in the ground, and mechanical harvesters to harvest bountiful food produced locally. Africa will feed itself with pride for there is no dignity in begging for food.”
Also, the Vice President of AfDB for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Ms Beth Dunford, said, “The Africa Emergency Food Production Facility builds on lessons learned from the African Development Bank’s Feed Africa Response to COVID-19 programme. That programme has provided a strategic roadmap to support Africa’s agriculture sector and safeguard food security against the pandemic’s impact.”
The facility has benefited from stakeholder consultations, including those with fertilizer producers and separately with African Union agriculture and finance ministers earlier this month.
The ministers agreed to implement reforms to address the systemic hurdles that prevent modern input markets from performing effectively.
The bank’s $1.5 billion strategies will lead to the production of 11 million tons of wheat; 18 million tons of maize; 6 million tons of rice; and 2.5 million tons of soybeans.
The plan is to provide 20 million farmers with certified seeds, fertilizer, and extension services. It will also support market growth and post-harvest management.
Also, the bank will provide fertilizer to smallholder farmers across Africa over the next four farming seasons, using its convening influence with major fertilizer manufacturers, loan guarantees, and other financial instruments.
The facility will also create a platform to advocate for critical policy reforms to solve the structural issues that impede farmers from receiving modern inputs. This includes strengthening national institutions overseeing input markets.
It has a structure for working with multilateral development partners. This will ensure rapid alignment and implementation, enhanced reach, and effective impact and will increase technical preparedness and responsiveness.
In addition, it includes short, medium, and long-term measures to address both the urgent food crisis and the long-term sustainability and resilience of Africa’s food systems.
SA Startup Nile Raises $5.1m for Direct Agric Purchases
By Adedapo Adesanya
South African agriculture technology startup, Nile, which enables buyers to purchase directly from Africa’s leading food producers through its marketplace, has raised a $5.1 million equity funding round led by Naspers Foundry.
The startup’s end-to-end process connects farmers to commercial retailers of fresh produce both in South Africa and across the continent.
The business-to-business (B2B) platform facilitates transactions and safeguards payments on behalf of farmers, resulting in increased transparency and improved cash flow.
Nile’s new equity round was led by Naspers Foundry, which contributed $2.5 million, alongside Platform Investment Partners, Raba Capital and Base Capital.
This transaction makes it Naspers Foundry’s 10th transaction, with its portfolio also including SweepSouth, Aerobotics, Food Supply Network, The Student Hub, WhereIsMyTransport, Ctrl, Naked Insurance and Floatpays.
Speaking on this, Mr Louis de Kock, co-founder and CEO of Nile, “We are delighted to have Naspers Foundry support our mission to make fresh produce more accessible to people across the African continent.
“While we were able to bootstrap Nile through our initial growth phase, we look forward to having the backing of an internationally respected investor and experienced operator like Naspers as we scale our cross-border operations to the rest of Africa.”
Adding his input, Mr Fabian Whate, head of Naspers Foundry said, “Nile provides a fully integrated ecosystem that creates trust between buyers and sellers on the platform and is a great example of tech entrepreneurs building innovative solutions that address people’s everyday needs.
“We are excited about the growth potential of this business and its contribution to transforming the trade of fresh produce.”
Nile was founded in 2020 to provide farmers with digital solutions that can address various pain points inherent to food trading – including price transparency, quality verification, speed of payments, the traceability of the produce and food waste.
Since Nile’s inception, approximately 30 million kilogrammes of fruits and vegetables have been traded on the platform, with buyers originating from five countries and 35 towns and cities across Southern Africa.
Nile’s services are used by farmers of all sizes, from small-scale farmers to large commercial farmers, with buyers ranging from large South Africa-listed companies to small family-owned retailers and wholesalers.
Nile also operates in Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Mozambique.
Migrating to Canada from Nigeria – Provincial Nominee Programs
There continues to be a high demand for high-skilled immigrants in many developed countries worldwide, and Canada isn’t an exception. The country’s skilled immigration system recognizes that immigrants can be instrumental in addressing labour market needs and economic growth, especially when they have in-demand skills, experience, and education. Hence, the Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) is an important component of Canada’s economic immigration system.
This provincial program creates a platform for the federal and provincial governments to work together to create industrial growth in Canada. The initiative makes it easier for qualified, skilled foreigners to become permanent residents. Provinces can nominate skilled immigrants who have been invited to apply for PR through Express Entry or the paper-based process.
Who Can Apply for PNP?
Although the nominee program is exclusive to workers, not all applicants in the job market are eligible. Some workers may be eligible, depending on their occupation. If an applicant holds a high human capital that is in demand in the province, the individual can apply for nomination in any of the available PNP immigration programs best suited.
Applicants must apply in the provinces they intend to live in. For example, a foreign senior developer who receives a “notification of interest” from Alberta is not qualified to apply under British Columbia’s PNP, especially when the individual has no interest in becoming a long-term resident there. Using the same scenario, the software engineer may not be considered for this program if there’s no intention to become a permanent resident in Canada.
Breaking Down the PNP Framework
As previously highlighted, there are two approaches to the PNP application process. The procedure entails undergoing some background checks, like police clearance and medical examinations for the province of application. The applicant must clear them successfully, as they make up part of the overall assessment. For those who consider the standard process, the requirements share some similarities with its counterpart.
To begin with, the applicants must meet the eligibility requirements for the province; likewise the Express Entry stream. Their skills must match one of the listed programs. That way, the province can invite such persons to apply. If nominated, they can submit the application to the IRCC. This approach has a longer wait time, compared to the second option.
Generally, the Express Entry stream is faster and more straightforward than the standard process. The skilled immigrant visits the province’s website to apply for nomination. Whereby the province finds the applicant an ideal fit for its labour market needs, it proceeds to nominate the professional, earning the individual 600 CRS extra. The next step would be to create an Express Entry account and proceed to apply for permanent residence.
Another option would be to flip the process around. This time, the Express Entry account creation comes first, which the professional notifies the province of. This is where the “notification of interest” comes into play. With this approach, there is direct communication between the candidate and the province officials in charge of the application. The former can then apply to the latter’s Express Entry stream and proceed to send the PR application to the IRCC.
Is Permanent Residence Available to Families of PNP-Nominated Immigrants?
The Provincial Nominee Program is one of the selected initiatives that encourage families to be united. Under this program, a spouse or child can accompany the foreign-born applicant when they make Canada their permanent residence. Those who move to Canada are eligible to become permanent residents as well. Plus, it extends to the children of the dependent children.
What Are Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) Points?
When seeking permanent residence, various prerequisites must be met. Still, the Comprehensive Ranking System majorly determines whether a candidate is eligible for PR status. Points are allocated depending on the following:
- Language proficiency
- Academic background
- Work experience
- Province ties
Some are given points for obtaining professional degrees, like the Master of Business Administration (MBA) or other specializations that require significant academic efforts. The same is true for a foreign skilled worker, such as a financial advisor, who is fluent in the required language (often English or French). When a province nominates this skilled professional, additional CRS points are added to the person’s profile.
These points combined with those from other considerable aspects of the program, help the IRCC officials determine if the financial advisor qualifies for permanent residence.
How Can Applicants Improve Their Chances of Being Nominated?
Given a large number of skilled foreigners in the Express Entry pool, the possibility of being nominated quickly may be dicey. As such, applicants are advised to build a strong profile. Those who end up securing a job or enrolling in an academic program in Canada increase their CRS points and thus, their chances of getting a provincial nomination for PR application.
For example, an IT project manager seeking a PNP nomination from New Brunswick can boost his or her profile by acquiring a Master’s degree from a Canadian university. This tech professional can boost the chances of being nominated for PR by securing an IT-related role, such as computer programming at a New Brunswick-based tech firm.
The CRS points for such an expert would be higher than someone in the same field who has no connection to the province. In other words, the province will be more inclined to nominate the former than the latter. In the end, it is not simply about being skilled, as many highly skilled individuals are in Canada seeking permanent residence; it is about being the best fit for a province’s labour needs.
PNP Application Language Requirements
The language requirements for any of the streams in the PNP can vary. In general, the provinces nominate applicants who can integrate successfully into Canada. To this effect, applicants must be fluent in either English or French, depending on the stream. They’ll need to demonstrate their competence by taking any of the exams below:
- TCF Canada
- TEF Canada
The first two tests are English-based, whereas the last two are used to measure foreigners’ French language skills. They evaluate an applicant’s capability to converse, write, and listen in the language.
Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program is not difficult to understand. With proper research and planning, foreign-born professionals can apply, get selected, and become part of the country’s permanent population. There’s so much more to Canada than the majestic snow-capped mountains and lakes. Those looking for a career upgrade can consider moving to Canada, particularly if they are competent and willing to settle down.
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