By Dipo Olowookere
The huge contributions made in the agriculture sector by women in agribusiness have been commended by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Few days ago, the agency and MEL Consulting Limited hosted a ‘Women in Agribusiness’ Summit to highlight these contributions in Ghana’s agricultural sector.
The event brought together women-led agribusinesses, farmers, processors, business service providers, financial institutions, the Government of Ghana and development partners.
In attendance were the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Otiko Afisa Djaba; USAID/Ghana Mission Director Sharon L. Cromer; and Nestlé West and Central Africa’s Head of Agricultural Services, Fatih Ermis.
The summit promoted investment opportunities and linked women-led agribusinesses to business advisory service providers and financial institutions.
The agenda featured panel discussions on finance and business support for women-led agribusinesses, as well as business-to-business sessions. The event culminated with an awards ceremony honouring women-led agribusinesses and smallholder actors for their contribution to Ghana’s agriculture sector.
“At USAID, we believe agriculture is paramount in driving Ghana’s sustainable economic growth,” remarked Sharon Cromer, USAID/Ghana’s Mission Director. “Our Feed the Future Initiative works to equip individuals and communities by investing in gender-smart solutions. We are linking business service providers to women-led agribusinesses to increase their productivity and access to markets. Fostering broad-based inclusive economic growth means unlocking everyone’s potential, including women, to fully utilize their talents.”
This event was organized through Feed the Future and its partners, with support from USAID. Feed the Future works to increase access to finance for agribusinesses and smallholder farmers and improve agricultural productivity.
To date, Feed the Future has unlocked $140 million in private capital for more than 2,400 agribusinesses in the maize, rice and soy value chains. These efforts have benefitted more than 150,000 smallholder farmers in Northern Ghana, 42 percent of whom are women.
ECOWAS Creates Committee as Nigeria Cries Foul Over Recruitment
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Parliament has appointed an independent ad-hoc committee to investigate allegations of recruitment malpractice at the parliament.
This is as it also directed the suspension of the ongoing recruitment exercises, pending the outcome of the investigation by the independent panel.
Nigeria had raised worry earlier and even threatened to withdraw its membership of ECOWAS if the regional body does not suspend the ongoing recruitment exercise as recently directed in the 2022 First Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja.
Nigerian representatives at the parliament had issued the threat when some principal officers in the regional bloc defiled the directives and embarked on the alleged illegal recruitment of their relatives and cronies.
Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Mr Sidie Mohamed Tunis in a statement said having received written complaints from the 1st Deputy Speaker, Honourable Ahmed Idris Wase, and the Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the ECOWAS Commission, Ambassador Musa Sani Nuhu, concerning the ongoing recruitment exercise at the ECOWAS Parliament, had appointed an Independent Adhoc Committee to investigate allegations of marginalization and malpractice against Nigerian candidates in the ongoing recruitment process.
The action of the Speaker is in conformity to Rule thirty-three (33) and thirty-four (34) of the Rules of Procedures of the Parliament which provides that a Special Committee may be set up to address specific matters.
The Speaker, in response to pressing emergencies, can set up an Adhoc committee, in consultation with the Bureau, and inform Parliament at its next session.
The ad-hoc committee would be headed by Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, the Chairman of the Committee on Administration, Finance, and Budget.
Other Members of the Committee include Lynda Chuba Ikpeazu – Nigeria; Fatoumatta Njai – The Gambia; Amadou Djibo Ali – Niger; Kounon Nahou Agbandao -Togo.
Others are, Caramo Camara -Guinea Bissau; Moussokora Chantal Fanny – Cote d’ Ivoire and Mr Arboncana Oumarou Dicko – Clerk to the Committee.
The terms of Reference of the team are Investigate allegations of inappropriate conduct in the ongoing recruitment process at the ECOWAS Parliament; Investigate allegations of marginalization of Nigerian Candidates in the current recruitment process; Investigate and determine if indeed the plenary adopted any Resolution concerning the subject matter (Recruitment of Staff), using normal parliamentary procedure.
It was disclosed that “In the execution of its mandate, the Committee shall be granted access to all documents relating to the recruitment exercise and work with the Advisory Committee on Recruitment and Promotions at the ECOWAS Parliament, to under-study and review the exercise. The Adhoc Committee would be guided by the provisions of the Supplementary Act and the ECOWAS Staff Regulations.
“The work of the ad-hoc Committee is expected to commence on 22nd August 2022 and its findings are expected to be reported to the Speaker in one week, following which a Bureau meeting will be convened to consider the report for onward submission to the Plenary.
“The ECOWAS Parliament, under the leadership of Right Honourable Dr Sidie Mohamed Tunis, affirms its stern commitment to fair labour practices and is devoted to upholding and protecting the rights of all Citizens of the Community to aspire for positions in any Community Institution, in line with the provisions of the ECOWAS Staff Regulations and all related Protocols.”
Russia and Zimbabwe Relations Remain Work-in-Progress—Sango
By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in Southeast Africa and shares borders with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique. It is very rich in mineral resources and is the largest trading partner of South Africa on the continent of Africa.
Russia maintains very friendly relations with Zimbabwe, thanks to ties which evolved during the struggle for independence. Since then, Russia has had a very strong mutual sympathy with and friendly feelings toward the southern African people, government and the country.
Brigadier General Nicholas Mike Sango, Zimbabwean ambassador to the Russian Federation, has held his position since July 2015. He previously held various high-level posts such as military adviser in Zimbabwe’s Permanent Mission to the United Nations and as an international instructor in the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
As Brigadier General Nicholas Sango prepares to leave his post in August, our media executive, Kestér Kenn Klomegâh, conducted this exclusive interview with him to assess and gauge the current climate of relations between Russia and Zimbabwe specifically and Africa generally. The following are excerpts (summarized text) from the long-ranging interview.
As you are about to leave, what would you say generally and concisely about Russia’s policy towards Africa?
Russia’s policy towards Africa has over the last few years evolved in a positive way. The watershed Russia-Africa Summit of 2019 reset Russia’s Soviet-era relations with Africa. Africa fully understands that the transition from the Soviet Union to the present-day Russian Federation was a process and that today Russia is now in a position to influence events on a global scale.
Even that being the case, her institutions and organs, be they political or economic are equally in a transitional mode as they adapt to the Federal policy posture and the emerging realities of the present geo-political environment. Africa in return has responded overwhelmingly to the call by its presence in its fullness at the 2019 Sochi Summit.
Do you feel there are still a number of important tasks which you have not fulfilled or accomplished as Zimbabwean Ambassador to the Russian Federation?
Zimbabwe government’s engagement with the Russian Federation is historically rooted in the new state’s contribution toward Zimbabwe attaining her freedom and nationhood in 1980. This is the foundation of the two countries relations and has a bearing on the two countries’ interactions and cooperation. Relations between the two countries have remained steadfast with collaborations at political and economic spares hallmarked by Russia’s involvement as early as 2014 in the commissioning of the Darwendale Platinum Project followed by ALROSA, the diamond giant setting its footprints on the territory of Zimbabwe.
The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe visited Moscow in 2019. Since then, there have been reciprocal visits by ministers and parliamentarians. In early June 2022, the Chairperson of the Federation Council visited Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe’s military has participated in Army Games over the years and will do in the 2022 ARMY GAMES. Further to these mentioned above, Russia has continued to support human resource development through its government scholarship programmes as well as training other arms of government. Zimbabwe recently hosted the Russia-Zimbabwe Intergovernmental Commission where new cooperative milestones were signed.
Zimbabwe’s foreign policy is anchored on engagement and re-engagement. As Ambassador to Russian Federation, my focus as per the direction of the Zimbabwean President was to promote business-to-business engagement and attract Russian investment in Zimbabwe. While the Darwendale Platinum Project and ALROSA’s entry into the Zimbabwe market, we have not seen other big businesses following the two.
The volume of trade between Zimbabwe and Russia could be better. Perhaps, as an Embassy, we have not made a strong case for importers to look in Zimbabwe’s direction. Or, our own trade and investment institutions have not fully appreciated the potential of the Russian market.
The concern by Russian importers regarding the logistical cost of bringing goods from landlocked countries in the far southern hemisphere is appreciated. This, however, would not inhibit the importation of non-perishable products.
As mentioned earlier on, businesses are still in transitional mode and it is the hope that the emerging world order will in time persuade businesses to look at Africa through the lenses to see the vast opportunities and benefits beckoning.
On the other hand, having established the Russian-Zimbabwe Business Council, it was hoped that businesses of the two countries could speak to each other, and appreciate the strengths and weaknesses as well as opportunities open. Although the benefits are yet to be seen, this remains a work-in-progress.
Has the experience, including all your interactions, changed your initial thoughts when you first arrived at this ambassadorial post in 2015?
Interestingly, my views and perceptions about Russia before and during my stay in the beautiful country have always been grounded in the history and our nation’s journey to nationhood, independence and sovereignty. As a product of the revolutionary struggle and from my government’s direction and policy, Russia was and will always be an ally regardless of the changing temperatures and geo-political environment.
What would you frankly say about Russia’s policy pitfalls in Africa? And what would you suggest especially about steps to take in regaining part of the Soviet-era level of engagement (this time without ideological considerations) with Africa?
There are several issues that could strengthen the relationship. One important direction is economic cooperation. African diplomats have consistently been persuading Russia’s businesses to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) as an opportunity for Russian businesses to establish footprints on the continent. This view has not found favour with them and, it is hoped over time it will.
Russia’s policy on Africa has been clearly pronounced and is consistent with Africa’s position. Challenges arise from the implementation of that forward-looking policy as summarized:
– The government has not pronounced incentives for businesses to set sights and venture into Africa. Russian businesses, in general, view Africa as too risky for their investment. They need a prompt from the government.
– Soviet Union’s African legacy was assisting colonized countries to attain independence. Russia as a country needs to set footprints on the continent by exporting its competitive advantages in engineering and technological advancement to bridge the gap that is retarding Africa’s industrialization and development.
– There are too many initiatives by too many quasi-state institutions promoting economic cooperation with Africa saying the same things in different ways but doing nothing tangible. “Too many cooks spoil the booth.”
– In discussing cooperative mechanisms, it is important to understand what Africa’s needs and its desired destination is. In fact, the Africa Agenda 2063 is Africa’s roadmap. As such the economic cooperation agenda and initiatives must of necessity speak to and focus on the parameters of the AU Agenda 2063.
And finally about the emerging new world order as propagated by China and Russia?
Africa in general refused to condemn Russia for her “special military operation” in Ukraine at the United Nations General Assembly and that shook the Western Powers. The reason is very simple. Speaking as a Zimbabwean, our nation has been bullied and subjected to unilateral coercive measures that have been visited upon us and other poor countries without recourse to the international systems governing good order, human rights and due process. There is one more historical fact – Africa is no longer a colony, of any nation and refuses to be viewed as a secondary state. It is for the above reasons that Africa welcomes multilateralism and the demise of hegemonism perpetuated by so-called “big brothers” – be it social, cultural, ideological or economic. Africa rejects this western perception of Africa.
Twitter Says Musk Making Up Excuses to Breach Deal
By Adedapo Adesanya
As the relationship between social media giant, Twitter, and billionaire businessman, Mr Elon Musk, turns sour, the company on Thursday said the notion Elon Musk was “hoodwinked” into inking a $44 billion buyout deal defies reason and the facts.
In a filing, Twitter rejected counterclaims made by Mr Musk as he fights to walk away from the deal he inked in April to buy the San Francisco-based company.
“According to Musk, he – the billionaire founder of multiple companies, advised by Wall Street bankers and lawyers – was hoodwinked by Twitter into signing a $44 billion merger agreement,” Twitter said.
“That story is as implausible and contrary to the fact as it sounds.”
Mr Musk last week filed a countersuit along with a legal defense against Twitter’s claim that he is contractually bound to complete the takeover deal.
“The counterclaims are a made-for-litigation tale that is contradicted by the evidence and common sense,” Twitter argued in the filing.
A five-day trial that will consider Twitter’s lawsuit against Musk has been scheduled for October 17.
Some months ago, the Tesla chief wooed Twitter’s board with a $54.20 per-share offer, but then in July announced he was ending their agreement because the firm had misled him regarding its tally of fake and spam accounts.
Twitter has stuck by its estimates that less than 5 per cent of the activity on the platform is due to software “bots” rather than people.
Twitter told the court that Musk’s claim that the false account figure tops 10 per cent is “untenable.”
The company, through its chief executive, Mr Parag Agrawal and board chairman Mr Bret Taylor, also disputed Musk’s assertion that he has the right to walk away from the deal if Twitter’s bot count is found to be wrong since he didn’t ask anything about bots when he made the buyout offer.
“Musk forwent all due diligence – giving Twitter twenty-four hours to accept his take-it-or-leave-it offer before he would present it directly to Twitter’s stockholders,” the filing said.
The company accused Musk of contriving a story to escape a merger agreement that he no longer found attractive.
“Twitter has complied in every respect with the merger agreement,” the company said in the filing made to Chancery Court in the state of Delaware.
“Musk’s counterclaims, based as they are on distortion, misrepresentation, and outright deception, change nothing.”
The social media platform has urged shareholders to endorse the deal, setting a vote on the merger for September 13.
“We are committed to closing the merger on the price and terms agreed upon with Mr Musk,” the letter said.
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