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Guterres Hails ECOWAS for Role in Gambia’s Peaceful Transition



By Dipo Olowookere

The 28th African Union Summit opened in Ethiopia Monday with United Nations Secretary General, Mr Antonio Guterres, commending the ‘extraordinary’ unity and leadership showed by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in defending democracy in The Gambia by peacefully ousting former President Yahya Jammeh after weeks of political stalemate.

In his maiden address to the AU Summit as UN Secretary General, Mr Guterres said the unity in ECOWAS and the restraint of the people of The Gambia in the face of possible conflict was commendable.

“The extraordinary union showed by ECOWAS is even a lesson to the world,” he said, echoing statements earlier by outgoing AU Commission Chairperson, Ms Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma also applauding ECOWAS ‘for making Africa proud’.

“When we see so many conflicts multiplying, the only way to allow the international community to be able to address those conflicts, the only way to allow the international community to act boldly, is with unity of the countries of the region, able to serve together and in the same universal principles,” he said to applause from the Heads of State and Government attending the summit.

“Our world needs to move from managing crises to preventing them in the first place. Too often the world responds too late and too little. I look forward to exploring with you how to break that cycle.”

Mr Jammeh departed Gambia peacefully following ECOWAS’ intervention after he had refused to hand over power to President Adama Barrow who beat him in elections held in December.

Mr Guterres, who told African Union leaders that he was attending their summit ‘to listen, learn and work with you for the people of Africa and the wider world’, outlined several areas where the UN and Africa could work together to improve the lives of the ordinary people.

This includes raising the level of the two organisation’s strategic partnership in implementing Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Agenda, and in promoting peace and security and human rights on the continent.

“We look forward to working with you to enhance the UN’s partnership with Africa’s eight Regional Economic Communities,” he said. “They have been at the forefront of efforts to achieve peace and security on the continent and they are driving forces for achieving Africa’s development aims.”

“The United Nations will step up its support to further promote good governance and reinforce the nexus between peace, security and development,” Mr Guterres said, adding the UN will support African efforts to realize its initiative to “Silence the Guns by 2020”, or even before, including by strengthening support for the African Peace and Security Architecture.

“It is also very important that we are able to promote long-term thinking and commitment to building and maintaining peace after conflict ends to prevent backsliding,” said Mr Guterres, adding the UN will support regional integration, including efforts to establish the Continental Free Trade Area as the continent continues in its effort to push for the structural transformation of its economy.

The Secretary General pledged his ‘full commitment to work with you in solidarity and respect to advance peace and security on the continent and realize the vision of Agenda 2063 and its promise of building “the Africa we want”.

He said he intended to work with the AU to present a set of concrete proposals to the Security Council on predictable, reliable and sustainable financing for AU peace operations.

For her part, Ms Dlamini-Zuma led the assembled leaders in honouring ECOWAS for ensuring a peaceful transition in the Gambia. Liberian President Johnson Sirleaf received a present on behalf of ECOWAS from the AU.

“You made us proud as you stood by the people of The Gambia and defended the values of our Union,” said Ms Dlamini-Zuma. “Our thank you to all those who participated and remained steadfast. We are particularly proud that it was under your stewardship as our first elected female President. You are a pioneer and inspiration to all women and men.”

Speaking to the Summit’s theme; ‘Harnessing the Demographic Dividend, through Investment in African Youth, Ms Dlamini-Zuma said Africa has 200 million young men and women ages 15 to 24 years and by 2025, a quarter of the world’s youth under 25 will be African.

“As the rest of the world ages, Africa will remain a young continent. This is the comparative advantage we have, which must be translated into a demographic dividend,” she said as she urged African leaders to facilitate the full participation of the youth in politics and their economies to secure the continent’s future.

The AU will this year appoint a Special AU Envoy for Youth to mobilise and advocate for the youth, during this year of harnessing the demographic dividend.

She said 2017 had started with a lot of challenges that need to be addressed.

“It is clear that globally we are entering turbulent times.  For example, the very country to whom our people were taken as slaves during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, have now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries. What do we do about this? Indeed, this is one of the greatest challenges and tests to our unity and solidarity,” Ms Dlamini-Zuma said.

The leader of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas and the Cuban Deputy President Salvador Valdes Mesa were some of the invited guests attending the AU Summit.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via


Tingg by Cellulant Automates Payments for Petrol Stations in Ghana



Tingg by Cellulant

By Adedapo Adesanya 

Tingg by Cellulant In-Store Solution has announced that it has started providing Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) with a single payment collection point across multiple payment options and channels, ensuring real-time settlement.

This allows OMCs in the country to reduce client queues at the till and boost customer satisfaction.

In recent years, Ghana has experienced remarkable growth in its mobile money market, with over 50 per cent of the adult population having mobile money accounts, emerging as a leader in sub-Saharan Africa. This has sparked the rise of multiple payment platforms and solutions tailored to meet the diverse requirements of businesses and consumers nationwide.

However, despite this remarkable growth, making and receiving payments remains a major pain point for many businesses in the country operating at scale. For businesses, the obstacle lies in establishing individual connections with multiple payment methods from different card networks to mobile money service providers to gain access to online and offline payments from these various methods.

To address this challenge, Cellulant launched Instore on its digital payments platform, Tingg, which enables businesses to collect payments from different payment options at the point of sale without the need for costly hardware or software.

Particularly for OMCs, where one company has multiple branches across the country and multiple tills in a single branch, the ability to offer a seamless payment experience has a decisive impact on revenue growth and customer satisfaction.

Speaking on this, Mr Eric Kortey, Cellulant Ghana’s General Manager, said, “With Tingg, the OMCs can track and reconcile transactions more easily, reducing the risk of fraud and errors. This level of transparency and accountability helps to build trust between businesses and their customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders, which is essential for business success.

“We power payments for businesses, enabling them to focus on their core business functions and growth. At Cellulant, we believe enabling businesses to collect and payout seamlessly is critical to the growth of the economies they operate in and Africa at large.”

Some of the OMCs Tingg by Cellulant is powering payments for in Ghana include Star Oil, Zen Petroleum, Glory Oil, Nick Petroleum, Petrosol, Shell (Vivo Energy), BF Petroleum and GTA (Groupe TransAfrica).

Customers who fuel at these fuel stations can pay for their fuel via USSD, QR code or the Tingg App. In-store, Tingg’s offline payments solution is available in all the physical locations for these fuel stations requiring customers only to have a mobile device, and they can conveniently pay without using cash. For these OMCs, Tingg has increased its efficiency in collections and managing transactions by more than 50 per cent.

In addition to integrating payments, the Tingg platform offers a reporting and settlement dashboard with a single view of all collections from all channels and the opportunity for businesses to connect with and engage with customers using the Tingg messaging tools.

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South Africa Faces Deep-Seated Economic, Energy Crisis



Cyril Ramaphosa South Africa

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

South Africa, highly considered an economic powerhouse, is in a deep-seated crisis. The energy deficit has crippled industrial operations, and supplies for domestic use have largely been reduced. Unemployment is rising, and the cost of living becomes unbearable across the country. As a result of the crisis, social discontent has engulfed every corner of South Africa.

Reports monitored here say South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa and his cabinet on May 7 held an extensive meeting with key business leaders as concern over the country’s energy crisis, logistic constraints, and close ties with Russia grow. Attendees discussed collaborating to obtain inclusive growth, inspire confidence in the economy and create jobs, the Presidency said in an official Twitter post.

Five years after Ramaphosa ushered in a wave of business optimism that he’d revive the economy crippled by industrial-scale corruption under his predecessor, executives are running out of patience with the president, who is seeking reelection next year.

Economic stagnation stoked by record daily power cuts, rampant crime, disintegrating infrastructure and foreign policy missteps is leading investors to the exits. Yields on the benchmark 10-year generic government bond have risen 129 basis points this year to 12.1%, foreign buyers have been net sellers of the nation’s stocks, and the rand has plunged 11%.

Executives including Daniel Mminele, Nedbank Group Ltd.’s chairman, and MTN Group Ltd.’s Chief Executive Officer Ralph Mupita have called for urgency in resolving domestic hindrances to economic growth and warned the country is at risk of becoming a so-called failed state. Others, such as FirstRand Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Alan Pullinger, have criticized the country’s relationship with Russia. The government’s indifference to the war in Ukraine and its friendship with Russia is “foolhardy in the extreme,” he said.

Early March, reports also warned that South Africa’s banking industry faces a “profound geopolitical risk” from the government’s close ties with Russia. South Africa has drawn criticism from some of its biggest trading partners, including the United States and the European Union, over military exercises it conducted with Russia and China. Those countries have also censured Ramaphosa’s administration over its abstention from United Nations resolutions condemning Russia’s war with Ukraine.

“Countries are noticing our government’s left-leaning enthusiasm for China and Russia vehemently opposed” to the war in Ukraine, FirstRand Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Alan Pullinger said at an investor briefing in Johannesburg. The government’s indifference to the war and its friendship with Russia is “foolhardy in the extreme,” he said.

South Africa’s banking industry is dependent on access to international markets, global clearing and settlement, Pullinger said. The country risks consequences because of its stance on Russia, he said. “Our collective access is a privilege; it is not a right and can be revoked easily,” Pullinger said. “FirstRand does not share our government’s enthusiasm for Russia.”

With an estimated population of 58 million, South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa. It is bounded to the south by 2,798 kilometres of coastline that stretches along the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans; to the north by the neighbouring countries of Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe; and to the east and northeast by Mozambique and Eswatini.

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Nigeria, Ghana Expediting Actions On Abidjan-Lagos Highway Construction



Abidjan-Lagos Highway

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

Popularly referred to as the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, this is a long highway which stretches from Abidjan to Lagos, crossing five independent states (Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, and Nigeria) from west to east, and includes two political capitals and many regional economic centres.

By European standards too long, but this highway, which has a length of approximately 965 kilometres, is considered the most mega-project to undertake in Africa.

Due to the countries’ linguistic, cultural and political differences, the region’s economic potential has not yet been fully exploited. There has been little alignment of standards and construction of common infrastructure, and even within the countries, transportation links are often unreliable. The idea of undertaking this transport connection has still been on the planning table, with its biggest headache about the source of finance.

Reports emerged that there had been a series of negotiations and meetings at the highest levels to determine effective ways of financing and its final realisation in the region. In this extreme case for this giant infrastructure, global key players offer reassurance, but there has not been any noticeable successful financial commitment.

The Ministerial Steering Committee of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project held its 19th in May 2023 to take decisions on expediting the completion of technical studies, securing lands for the right of way, financing the construction of the highway project and the operationalization of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCoMA).

Welcoming participants on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission, the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization, Sediko Douka, lauded the commitment of the member countries and highlighted the fact that the Abidjan-Lagos Highway remains a flagship project for the Commission and is one of the interventions that could change the narrative of ECOWAS by highlighting the contribution to the total economic growth of community citizens with projects in transport, health, agriculture, customs, migration, education and more.

“It will enable community citizens to appreciate better and be informed about tangible achievements of ECOWAS. Indeed, we must accentuate the visibility of ECOWAS achievement on physical infrastructure projects in the area of transport, energy, telecom, water resource and agriculture, just as this project has been presented at various African Investment Forums by the African Development Bank, he said.

Commissioner Douka, however, charged the participants to take an interest in ensuring that the project becomes a reality. “We keep calling on both public and private investors to accompany the countries and ECOWAS in the realization of this visionary venture,” Douka added.

The feasibility and preliminary design studies have been completed, whiles the final phases should be completed before the end of this year. “On resource mobilization, it should be noted that ECOWAS has just adopted a new regulatory framework on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) that is an incentive for the entry of Private Sector in large Investments like the nature of this project,” according to the Commissioner.

Ministers of Roads and Works of Corridor Countries took turns to express their continued commitment to support the completion of the technical studies and accompany ECOWAS and Development Partners to raise the needed investment to fund the project.

Chairman of the Ministerial Steering Committee and Minister of Public Works and Housing of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Babatunde Raji Fashola, expressed his pride at the achievements so far attained from the outset. He highlighted that projects of such magnitude usually encounter several challenges at the preparatory stages, but through the hard work of Project Engineers and Member States, most challenges have been overcome.

“We are building a road over 1,000 kilometres, across five (5) countries, across a diversity of languages and political structures, in a modern era of climate change, people’s rights and sustainability on our horizon. We have heard issues about compensation, environment, social impact assessment, resettlement and action plan etc., because, at the end of the day, this is all about people. So, we must build in a way that takes care not only of people’s interest but also climate and other diversities,” noted Babatunde Raji Fashola.

In this case, partners and stakeholders are still highly optimistic about the completion of the necessary reports to address all the obstacles relating to the project. “If we get this right, then constructing the project will be very easy, so please do not despair. It may look difficult, but with my little experience, this is the hardest part, and we are almost there,” he said and intimated that the operationalization of the Management Authority that will manage the corridor highway development project has commenced with the formation of the Board of Directors.

Vice President of the Republic of Ghana delivered a keynote address during the meeting through Yaw Osafo Maafo, Senior Advisor to the President. The Vice President commended the ministers and ECOWAS for their sustained effort and strong collaboration in preparing the Corridor Highway Project. He hinted that in preparation for the construction of Ghana’s Multinational Highway section, Ghana has embarked on massive sensitization drives along the host communities.

He expressed excitement over the assurance of the African Development Bank (AfDB) to raise the required funds for the highway construction, describing the project as top on the agenda of the Ghanaian government. “The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Project is on the priority list of the Government of Ghana, and we keenly look forward to the day that the sword will be raised for the commencement of this construction. We believe that this project will give a new dimension to ECOWAS, and we believe it will change the economies of the five (5) countries and the region, and therefore whatever we can do to support it, we will do it,” concluded Yaw Osafo Maafo.

Construction of a highway route from Abidjan to Lagos is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2025. The project is expected to cost $15 billion and will significantly increase regional economic integration. The African Development Bank (AfDB) is involved in the financing. In broad terms, it contributes to poverty reduction and economic and social development in the least developed African countries by providing concessional funding for projects and programs and technical assistance for studies and capacity-building activities.

Its materialisation largely depends on sustained collective efforts to the corridor highway project and strong collaboration. Facilitating the sub-region movement of goods and people. It will connect the industrial zones and move products and services across West Africa. Consequently, this project will give a new dimension to ECOWAS. High gratitude goes to the African Development Bank (AfDB) which is leading the consortium to raise the funds for this project in the region.

Worth re-emphasizing here the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway implementation and its related significance to the African Continental Free Trade Area in the West African region. It has the full potential for achieving the ultimate goals of the single market under discussion. This highway infrastructure involves the five corridor member countries: Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire.

The population within the region is experiencing rapid growth, and nearly 50 million people are expected to live within the corridor by 2035. The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway offers an opportunity for a significant portion of West Africa’s economic output to be generated, and it is also envisaged that cities within the corridor will become the most economically developed across the West Africa region – in the Economic Community of West Africa.

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