Monday, 29 December 2014

UR Karate team finish 3rd at Regional University Games

University of Rwanda (UR) Karate team emerged third to win bronze in the ongoing 9th Eastern Africa Inter- University Games in Uganda.

Jean d’Amour Rukundo was the star performer after winning gold in the under 84 kg Kumite [fighting] category, Narcisse Tuyishime got silver in the under 60 category, and Jules Rutayisire took bronze in the under 75 kg category. Kampala International University (KIU) and Ndejje University, two private Ugandan Universities whose teams are dominated by Rwandan players with full scholarships there, emerged first and second, respectively. Among those, KIU’s Rehema Kabera (a member of the Rwandan national team) won silver in individual female Kata, and gold in the under 55 Kumite category.

Another KIU student on Rwanda’s national team, Emery Espoir Ntungane, won gold in the under 67 category while Jean Paul Shyirambere, also of KIU, won gold in individual male under 60 kg category.Nearly 3,000 athletes from 40 universities in 12 countries are participating in this year’s edition which is being hosted by Uganda Christian University (UCU), in Mukono, from December 17 to 21.

UR is also competing in football, basketball, handball, volleyball and athletics.

Ghana winger Christian Atsu set to return to Chelsea after unremarkable Everton loan spell

Cameroon midfielder Alex Song is poised to inform West Ham United that he will play in the Africa Cup of Nations next month.

Song's participation will take the number of West Ham players involved in the tournament to three and could put a serious dent in the club's hopes of sustaining their impressive start to the season.

The midfielder had questioned whether the Africa Cup of Nations should go ahead after the outbreak of the Ebola virus and delayed a decision on his playing for Cameroon.

Morocco refused to host the event because of concerns over Ebola, with thetournament being switched to Equatorial Guinea. West Ham have been waiting to hear from Song over whether or not he will travel to Guinea, but the 27-year-old player is now believed to be close to confirming his plans.

Song has been a revelation at Upton Park since moving on loan from Barcelona in the summer and he will be badly missed by Sam Allardyce, the West Ham manager.

The Senegal duo Diafra Sakho and Cheikhou Kouyaté are also due to play in the tournament, which runs from January 17 to February 8.

Fifa rules state that countries can call up their players 14 days before their first game, which means the trio could be away for five of West Ham's games from the FA Cup tie against Everton on Jan 6.

The Hammers could request special dispensation from the federations to keep Song, Sakho and Kouyate for the Everton match and Swansea City game on Jan 10, with Senegal due to play their first Africa Cup game on Jan 19 and Cameroon starting their campaign a day later.

West Ham then face Hull City, Liverpool and Manchester United over the period of time that three of their best players could be missing.

West Ham are also concerned about the condition in which their players will come back from Guinea, after Sakho returned from Senegal duty last month with a back and neck injury.

Allardyce will ideally want all his players available for the Feb 11 trip to Southampton, which could be a pivotal game in the shake-up for Champions League qualification.

The Saints are fifth, two points behind West Ham. Newcastle are the only other Premier League club who will have three players going to the Africa Cup of Nations. Of West Ham's rivals for a top-four place, Southampton will lose Emmanuel Mayuka and Sadio Mané and Tottenham Hotspur will be without Nabil Bentaleb. Arsenal do not lose anybody.

Ndayisenga makes top five in race for continental award

Reigning Tour du Rwanda champion Valens Ndayisenga has been named among the final five cyclists in contention for the 2014 African cyclist of the year award.

The jury chaired by Bernard Hinault, five-time winner of the Tour de France, announced the five finalists that include Ndayisenga, last year’s winner Louis Meintjes from South Africa, 2012 winner Natnael Berhane of Eritrea, 2014 African champion Mekseb Debesay from Eritrea and Moroccan Mouhssine Lahsaini.

“This means so much to me and most importantly, I am honoured to be representing my country. This took a lot of teamwork, commitment and determination,” said Ndayisenga in an interview with Times Sport.

Ndayisenga, who is also currently ranked sixth on the continent, made the original 15-man list that also included fellow country-mate Bonaventure Uwizeyimana.

Uwizeyimana became the first African to win a stage at the gruesome La Tropicale Amissa Bongo in Gabon from Lambaréné to Kango, a distance of 143km that he clocked in 3:16:31 earlier this year.

Meanwhile, 20-year old Ndayisenga became the first Rwandan to win the Tour du Rwanda since its inception in the UCI Africa Tour calendar in 2009.

This is the second year in a row that Ndayisenga is being nominated for the coveted continental award as last year he was on the 24-man shortlist alongside teammate Janvier Hadi.

Back then, Hadi had won bronze at the Africa continental championships in Egypt and Ndayisenga at 19 was the youngest rider to win a stage at the Tour du Rwanda.

'RIP the runway' launched to give opportunities to fashion designers

A new fashion event, 'RIP the runaway,' has been launched to enable upcoming fashion designers explore their full potential and also dare to be creatively diverse.

The show which will be extensively covered by national and international media will also give the already established fashion designers the needed publicity to showcase their products to the world.

In addition, 'RIP the runway' will attract the participation of makeup artists, hair stylists and stunning runway models.

Even though this is aimed at giving the up and coming all the necessary publicity to propel their works, already established fashion designers like Aya Morrison and others will be there to share their experiences with the amateurs to push them beyond their limits.

“The concept of this show is to create a relaxed environment for fashionistas to enjoy a first rate runway show and have the opportunity to place orders and interact with the designers,” Emmanuella Sagoe, organizer of the event said. The event which will come off at the African Regent Hotel in Accra will treat attendees with the latest in fashion,” Emmauella added.

The organizers added that, Judith Audu wins Best Actress at the In-Short Film Festival 2014 “this is a positive event for Ghana and the textile industry and will create job opportunities for stylists, models and others involved and affiliated with the fashion industry.”

Local songs that rocked in 2014

As curtains fall on the year 2014, it is time to look back and remember the songs that topped the charts this year.

Like 2013, it has been yet another great year for Rwandan music. The New Times conducted a mini-survey to find out which songs got people on their feet whenever played and got many people singing.

We looked at songs that dominated radio playlists throughout the year as well as songs that were watched more than others on Youtube. We also talked to radio personalities and DJ’s as well as random people on the streets to know which songs they enjoyed listening to this year

While there is no song for example that matched last year’s club banger ‘Fata fata’ by DJ Zizou, Rwandan artistes churned out a number of songs that were loved not only on radio stations and TV’s but also in clubs and online.

As observed by 98.7 KFM presenter MC Tino (real names Martin Kasirye), there were a lot of good songs this year but those released towards the end of the year, particularly in November and December tend to get more air play because they are released at the time when the festive mood has set in.

“There is a high chance that if you release a danceable track let’s say in November, by the time the festive season and the parties come in, it will still be fresh in the minds of the people compared to one which was released in March,” says Tino, who is also a member of boy group TBB.

Such songs include ‘Nibisanzwe’ by King James and ‘Ni Danger’ by Danny Vumbi whose videos premiered in November. ‘Tulia’ by Knowless which also has an exceptional video is among the songs which have ended the year on a high.

According to DJ Anita Pendo, to determine which songs dominated 2014, one has to look at how often these songs were requested on radio and TV stations as well as in clubs.

“You will definitely know that a song is a hit when callers keep asking for the same song or when you are playing at a club, or attending concerts and revellers keep asking for the song to be played,” says Pendo, who is also a presenter at Magic FM.

Some of the people interviewed said that they related or liked certain songs for the message contained. Among those cited by fans is ‘Nyabarongo’ by Ama G de Black and Safi Madiba of Urban Boys.

The song relates to many because most people will have to cross River Nyabarongo at some point as they head out to Kigali. ‘Ni Danger’ by Danny Vumbi is also identified among the songs packaged with message. The song is about the youth who have abandoned their culture and language particularly by lacing Kinyarwanda language with slangs.

Other factors that determined how songs faired was the quality of video with those shot outside Rwanda, such as King James’s ‘Ntibisanzwe’ shot in the US and ‘Tulia’ by Knowless shot in Kenya easily finding their way to the top.

This year there were many joint collabos which made it to the top of the charts including ‘Nikonabaye’, yet another hit from DJ Zizou of ‘Fata fata’ fame, ‘Byakuvuna’ by Kina Music affair and‘Rendezvous’ by Oda Paccy among others.

There were also collabos made between Rwandan artistes and other African artistes which also made the cut. These included ‘Tayari’ by Urban Boys featuring Iyanya and ‘Hallo’ by Bruce Melodie and Fille among others.

Amakye Dede, Lee Duodu and Kofi B Set to Usher In New Year

The Abrantie Spot located at Abeka Lapaz, in Accra is expected to come alive with fun and excitement on Thursday January 1, 2015 when three of the nation’s finest highlife giants join forces to thrill fans and to usher in the New Year in style.

The artistes who are expected to set the stage on fire with good highlife tunes include the legendary Amakye Dede, the sensational Germany based Lee Duodu as well as the ‘Bantama Kwesi Boakye’ hit maker Kofi B.
The show which is expected to attract hundreds of music fans in Accra and its environs has been dubbed the biggest and official New Year highlife party.

In an exclusive interview, the headline act, Amakye Dede, promised patrons several surprises on the night but remained tight-lipped on the details. He however insisted the event will be worth every pesewa paid by patrons.

On his part, the sensational Lee Duodu who just flew back home from his Europe base for the show promised to give fans his best as usual. “I have not performed here in Ghana for a long time and am back to give my fans and admirers the best. They should just come to the Abrantie Spot on January 1, relax and enjoy good music as we usher in the New Year in grand style.'

Kofi B who has over the years won the heart of the younger folks with his fascinating highlife tunes just wants fans to grab their tickets and get to the Abrantie spot for the show of a lifetime. “I will not say much, they should just come and see what I have in store for them. You know action speaks louder than words” He noted in an interview.

According to the organizers, the official New Year highlife party kicks off at 7pm.

Judith Audu wins Best Actress at the In-Short Film Festival 2014

2014 ending big for Nigerian Actress, Judith Audu as she wins her first award for Best Actress at the recently concluded In-Short Film Festival 2014. It was 3 days loaded with amazing short films viewing at the In-Short Film Festival, organized by Victor Okhai, powered by Access Bank that held at the Oriental Hotel, Lagos from the 15th to 17th of December 2014. Akin Harrison's ALPHA MOM and Ejim Fortune's STRANGERS wins big as they each won 3 awards, Eric Aghimien's takes 2 awards home for Leeway.


An enchanted world as persevering as a fireball and as chilling like an ice ball, Delhi not just happens to be one of India’s largest cities but is a picture-perfect amalgamation of antiquity and modernity. The colorful medley of Delhi, as diverse as the country itself is an everlasting appearance of the many things this city has to offer. The place can amaze you by just its sheer size and diversity – both natural and man-made.

While traveling to India, and landing in the country’s capital – the delightful Delhi for tourism could prove to be an unbelievable description. Delhi has always been the center of attraction in India. With many imperative historical events taking place in this small city in northern part of India, Delhi houses a number of famous monuments and tourist attractions. The quality of Delhi, where the old and the new co-exist is clearly visible in the tourist places in Delhi. Where on one hand Delhi houses old mosques, forts, tombs and many other historical artefacts, we also find swanky malls, clubs, adventure parks and other modern and world class facilities. Some of the famous tourist attractions in Delhi include, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Humayun’s Tomb, Tughlaqabad Fort, India Gate, Jama Masjid and many others. If you love history and art, and want to experience a mix of both modern and ancient styles of art, Delhi is the place to be. With world class malls and multiplexes to places in Lutyen’s Delhi which were built during the British period to Red Fort, Humayun’s Tomb and many other monuments which reflect the ancient civilizations that resided here, Delhi has it all.

Chilling Climate
Delhi experiences extreme climate, with temperature rising as high as 47.8°C in summers and going as low as -6.7°C in winters. Monsoons generally starts at the end of June and continue till August. The best time to visit Delhi is October-March, summers in Delhi could be harsh and are thus not the best time to visit the city.

Love to Bargain?
When in Delhi, visiting its famous markets are a must. From the hip Connaught Place where you can find all the brands to the cool flea markets of Sarojini Nagar, Lajpat Nagar, Paharganj and the likes tourists love it all. If you love to bargain (well, who doesn’t?) and want to grab cool stuff at the lowest of prices, the markets of Delhi are the ideal place. Besides these famous markets, there are many local markets which are famous for one thing or another. One can find a furniture market, a cloth market a utensil market. You name it and Delhi has it.

Entertainment! Entertainment! Entertainment!
Delhi has always been a vivacious city with a cosmopolitan culture which is reflected in every aspect of its life. It has plenty of entertainment spots to choose from. Places like cinema halls, pubs, hotels and recreational centers are open on all weekends. It has world class multiplexes like the PVR, Big Cinema, Fun Cinema, DT Cinema etc. The happening night life in Delhi consists of clubs, bars, restaurants, etc., where you get a world class ambience with quality service. There are auditoriums that host cultural and recreational concerts all through the year. Delhi is a hub of theatre activities, with a number of auditoriums like the Kamani Auditorium, Sri Ram Centre of Arts and the National School of Drama all situated in Delhi. Time and again theatre, literary, food and book festivals are organized on small and large scales.

Appealing Your Taste Buds!!
Delhi holds a unique place on the food map of India. It is surrounded by the states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and thus the food habits of Delhi are greatly influenced by these states. Being the center of Mughal activities, Delhi is considered to be the place where Mughlai Cuisine originated. It is a must to try the street food from Chandni Chowk, the kebabs from Jama Masjid’s market, the mutton at Karim’s, paranthas from Paranthe wali gali are to die for. Chandni Chowk is the sacred hub for all food lovers, the streets are filled with vendors selling all kinds of delicacies, ranging from sweets to chaats to mango shakes and ice creams. If you have a sweet tooth and love gorging on sweets all the time, not to worry, Delhi has an answer for all kinds of foodies. From the super sweet gulab jamuns, jalebis, laddoos and rabri faludas there is something for everyone. You can also take home sweet delicacies like Soan Papdi, Pista Samosa and Badam Barfi. Butter Chicken is a must have in Delhi. It originated at the Moti Mahal, Daryaganj in the 1950s. Butter Chicken was born by accident and soon set tongues drooling the world over. It’s creamy with thick, red tomato gravy. This meltin- mouth dish tastes best with tandoori roti or naan. Delhi’s food is not for the faint hearted, or rather for people with a weak digestive tract, it is a blast of flavors, colors, and all kinds of spices, with just a dash of Delhi’s spirit.

Union Savings and Loans picks Global Banking Award

Union Savings and Loans has been adjudged the Best SME Finance Company, 2014 by the Global Banking and Finance review.

Union was part of over 200 global players in the banking and finance sector honoured by the reputable UK based award organization.

Managing Director of Union Savings and Loans, Philip Oti- Mensah told at the sidelines of the workers' end of year get together that the award is a testimony of the handwork and vision by staff of the company.

"We are the first Saving and Loans company in Ghana to be given such an award.

"We set out to position ourselves as the best SME bank and winning this award only shows our efforts have been recognized but it also means that it is just the beginning for us to do more.

Mr Oti-Mensah touted the company's philosophy to develop the capacity of Small Scale Enterprises (SME) and cited the SME clinic as one of the key selling points for the company.

"We have dedicated more than 90 per cent of our loan portfolio to the SME sector and we are going to continue doing that because we have seen that that is what wins us the prominence," he promised.

The MD also lamented the impact of dire economic challenges in the country, which he said affected some of his clients.

"Banking is all about creating loans from deposits you take and making sure those loans are repaid with interest. If your client are having challenges that threatens your survival.

He said his clients who dealt with the foreign markets were worst affected by the continued depreciation of the country's currency but the company had to take measures to interact with the customers and to see how best to resolve their challenges.

The economic difficulties notwithstanding, My Oti-Mensah said Union Savings and Loans posted profit margins for the year 2014. "We are on track. We have grown our loan portfolio by over 200 per cent. We are still very profitable and tripled our profit margins compared to end of 2013," he announced.

While glowing in the successes of the company, Mr Oti-Mensah was quick to challenge the workers to meet their individual targets, reminding them that "at Union we will always continue to measure performance individually. I entreat all of you to ensure that you don't fall short of your individual targets because our business model does not allow non-performance."

Hardworking employees were also rewarded for their tireless efforts on the night of music and merry making.

Government of Liberia signs Multimillion Deal with Chinese Company

The Ministry of Public Works of Liberia has signed a multimillion dollar contract with a Chinese company for the full pavement of Phase-I of the Fish Town-Harper Road Project being mutually financed by the Government of Liberia and the African Development Bank.

The China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group Company Limited is said to cement the 50 kilometre road from Harper City to Karloken in Maryland County. The contract value is a little over 42.7 Million dollars and the real construction period is 2 years with 1 year of defects liability.

During the signing ceremony, newly appointed Public Minister, William Gyude Moore advised the contractor to take into consideration the issues of quality, durability and value for money.

He said that the road to be constructed is relatively noteworthy for socio-economic development of the country predominantly the south-eastern part of Liberia and the Ministry will ensure that the contractor does quality work; adding that monitoring and supervision will be prioritized at all stages of the project.

The Public Works’ official also noted that his leadership is wellinformed with the challenges that lay ahead and will safeguard that there is veracity in the contract awarding process, while ensuring the quality of the products that come out of that process. He thanked his predecessors Atty. Samuel Kofi Woods for his leadership and influence on this project and Dr. Weeks and the MPW team for working with the ADB and contractor to bring the project to reality.

He equally acknowledged the presence of the Chinese Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission to Liberia and went on to add that as a result of the Ebola outbreak,most foreign companies fled the country but the partnership with the Government and people of China has remained strong and we intend that while we are here providing leadership at the level of the Ministry of Public Works to continue that partnership with the Government and people of China and Chinese companies coming here to do business.

"For the people of Liberia the best way to improve our country is these things that we call economic multipliers-power, roads, telecommunications; in effect the infrastructure that makes it easier for business people to do business; for goods to move across the country.

We have been concerned about the southeast; that every rainy season this part of the country gets cut-off. The prices of goods and services go up; aggravating poverty in places that our already economically depressed and so we are very happy about this," Minister Moore averred.

For the Contractor, the Minister said that 'We know for China Railway No. 5 Engineering Group Company winning a contract from a multilateral financing agency is a prestigious thing for you because after this, it goes on your profile indicating the works you have won before and this is an international competitive bid that you won as there were other companies'.... 'We hope we can work with the project team to deliver to the Liberian people value for money and the best quality road that can allow our brothers and sisters from the Ivory Coast to drive to Liberia'.

Concluding, he said his company won the international competitive bidding for phase-I of the Fish Town-Harper Road not just because of its lowest bidder status as compared to other competitors but also because of the company's long track record of undertaking large infrastructure and delivering high quality to clients.

Ethiopia joins hands with Ericsson to Facilitate Telecommunication Sector

Following the termination of the deal with ZTE, Ethiopia has now signed a deal with Ericsson.

An eight-month negotiation was confirmed by awarding Swedish based telecommunications firm, Ericsson, the $500-$550 million telecom project. The contract is part of the project that was taken away from ZTE.

Primarily, a project was launched for the renovation and extension of telecom services with a total project cost of 1.6 billion dollars in 2013. The contract was signed with two Chinese competing network solution providers ZTE and Huawei Technologies, by splitting the project into 13 circles. The two companies were bestowed the multi-vendor financing project of 800 million dollars each after they secured the financing from the Export-Import Bank of China (EX-IM) with a maturity period of 13 years at a three percent interest rate.

Primarily, a project was launched for the renovation and extension of telecom services with a total project cost of 1.6 billion dollars in 2013. The contract was signed with two Chinese competing network solution providers ZTE and Huawei Technologies, by splitting the project into 13 circles. The two companies were bestowed the multi-vendor financing project of 800 million dollars each after they secured the financing from the Export-Import Bank of China (EX-IM) with a maturity period of 13 years at a three percent interest rate.

Huawei was awarded seven circles, one in the capital and the remaining in regional states of the Country. The remaining six circles were given to ZTE. Following the financing agreement, Huawei started the optimisation in Addis Abeba but ZTE did not start the work because of a disagreement with the state monopoly, after it declined to work on the swapping of the old network, according to Debretsion Gebremichael (PhD), in the rank of Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinator of the Finance and Economic cluster and Minister of Communication and Information Technology.

ZTE's refusal to work on the swapping of the old networks, and the demand for an additional 150 million dollars for the service, led Ethio telecom's board, chaired by Mekuria Haile, Minister of Urban Development and Housing Construction, to terminate the framework agreement signed with ZTE on April 2014, Fortune confirmed.

After the termination of the contract with ZTE, the state monopoly approached Nokia and Ericsson, with an offer to work on the projects together, taking three circles each. At the end, a deal was signed with Ericsson.
"We approached the two companies because they have been interested in working in Ethiopia, as they have approached us at different times in the past," says Debretsion. "Nokia did not respond to our offer, so we continued negotiations with Ericsson."

Ericsson proposed 550 million dollars for the four lots, by coming up with a financing structure that has a maturity period of 10 years, with a 7.5% interest rate, according to sources. The interest rate and the maturity period were eventually adjusted after negotiation between the two parties, although both remain higher than the figures in the deal with ZTE.

"The difference is not that significant," Debretsion said. After the officials of ZTE knew that the government of Ethiopia was negotiating with Ericsson, they apparently requested to work on the project again, by agreeing to include the swapping with the first project cost, ZTE officials although refused to give further details on the issue.

"We were going to shift the whole project from ZTE, but the time framework scheduled for the finalisation of the project is June 2015, and Ericsson said that it could finalise all four circles within the remaining six months," said Debretsion.

The agreement with Ericsson was signed on December 16, 2014 at Hilton Hotel, between Andulem Admassie, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Ethio Telecom, and Rafiah Ibrahim, President of Ericsson for the Middle East and North East Africa region. The event was attended by Mekuria, Debretsion and Jan Sadek, Swedish ambassador to Ethiopia. The new project that is designed with Ericsson includes expansion, overhauling, swapping and provision of technologies for four circles, including south, south west, south east and south south circles, while ZTE retains the east and middle east circles.

Hours before this deal, we signed a contract with ZTE for the remaining two circles, Andulem told Fortune. In addition to the circles, ZTE will work on transmission, power deployment, business and security, Andualem informed.

Zimbabwe Tourism Minister on investment: Victoria Falls tourism future looks very bright

Zimbabwe's Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister, Walter Mzembi, has endorsed Africa Albida Tourism's investments in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, as fitting his vision to boost infrastructure to vastly grow the tourist attraction's economy to $30 billion a year. Mzembi was speaking at the 20th anniversary celebrations of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, which was attended by more than 200 local and regional tourism operators.

Africa Albida Tourism, the parent company of Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, has invested heavily in its properties over the last three years, and work has begun on Santonga, an $18 million education, entertainment and conservation park, which will interactively tell the story of Victoria Falls.

The new $150 million Victoria Falls International Airport, due to open next August, which will triple capacity, would be a big player in boosting earnings to $30 billion a year, to match Niagara Falls, Mzembi said. Tourism would become the catalyst for the economic turnaround of Zimbabwe, and the Minister hoped to kick start earnings by declaring Victoria Falls a special economic zone, which he described as a tax haven.

He appealed to local operators to provide input on how to shape his proposal, which could transform Victoria Falls from its current $1 billion a year economy between Zimbabwe and Zambia. Mzembi is due to report back to Cabinet next month.

In addition to the special economic zone, the Minister hoped to create an "ultra-modern" Victoria Falls on 300ha adjacent to the airport, to boost infrastructure and therefore earnings.

However, the Minister gave assurances the actual Falls and their immediate surroundings would remain natural and untouched.

Africa Albida Tourism Chief Executive Ross Kennedy said despite several tough years for the tourism industry, he believed the future of tourism at Victoria Falls and in Zimbabwe was extremely bright.

The Victoria Falls Safari Lodge 20th anniversary four-day celebrations included an Amazing Race, in which six teams completed challenges at different sites in Victoria Falls, such as learning a traditional dance routine and solving a crime scene. It was won by Team Lokuthula.

The guests also enjoyed the Lodge's daily vulture culture experience, as well as local delicacies, dancing and drumming at The Boma - Place of Eating, and dinner at the Victoria Falls Safari Lodge's MaKuwa-Kuwa Restaurant to the sounds of the Detema Jazz Band. A cruise along the Zambezi River was also part of the programme, and before guests departed they went on a tour of the Victoria Falls International Airport under construction, which is expected to change the face of the region.

Ground work began at Santonga, to be built on 80ha near Victoria Falls Safari Lodge, last month. The education, entertainment and conservation park, which is expected to draw 120,000 visitors a year, is due to open in June 2016.

Trade between Gulf States and Africa Rising

Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) countries are placing more attention on new markets in east, west and southern Africa as their trade flows with the continent expand, according to a report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) in conjunction with Falcon and Associates.

The EIU study, entitled GCCTrade and Investment Flows, explores the GCC’s economic ties with each world region and identifies major growth drivers.

Key findings show the GCC’s push into Africa is broadening by sector and geographical location. From telecommunications and private equity in West Africa to energy projects in South Africa and Mozambique, investment flows are diversifying.

Opportunities in infrastructure are a primary growth driver, where, according to World Bank estimates, US$96 billion a year is required to bridge the gap, while fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) is one of the fastestemerging opportunities on the continent, driven by increased spending power and rising consumer needs.

Findings show Dubai and the UAE as a major trade and investment partner across the African continent. This year, the Investment Corporation of Dubai (ICD) signed a US$300M agreement with Dangote Cement in West Africa and bought a significant stake in Kerzner International.

2014 also saw Dubaibased Jumeirah Group expand operations into North Africa with a management agreement in Mauritius and the recent deal between Emirates Airline (which already operates more than 160 flights a week to Africa) and TAAG Angola Airlines will improve connections to Central and South Africa.

In addition, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Courts has signed its first Memorandum of Guidance with their counterparts in the High Court of Kenya advancing legal structures and enabling more confident investing.

With robust infrastructure, geographic location and global connectivity, Dubai acts as a strategic and world-class hub for doing business with Africa.

The emirate not only facilitates trade and investment flows into and out of the continent, it provides a stable and secure base from which global firms can operate.

The findings follow the success of the 2nd Africa Global Business Forum (AGBF), held in Dubai earlier this year and organised by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which was attended by more than 1000 delegates from 62 countries where discussions focused on encouraging investment opportunities and promoting sustainable development across Africa. GCC Trade and Investment Flows is an Economist Intelligence Unit report based on desk research and interviews with experts, conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit in conjunction with Falcon and Associates. Economist Intelligence Unit is the world leader in global business intelligence.

It is the business-tobusiness arm of The Economist Group, which publishes The Economist newspaper.

The Economist Intelligence Unit helps executives make better decisions by providing timely, reliable and impartial analysis on worldwide market trends and business strategies.

Falcon and Associates FZ-LLC is strategic advisory company working on behalf of the Dubai leadership. We build on the emirate’s many successes to date by identifying and implementing new opportunities to help Dubai fulfil its long-term potential, partnering with businesses and government departments to deliver specific social, economic and trade-related goals.

Urwego secures Rwf1b loan from BRD to fund SMEs

Urwego Opportunity Bank has secured a Rwf1 billion short-term loan from Development Bank of Rwanda (BRD) to finance small-and-medium enterprises (SMEs).

The one year funding is hoped to ease access to affordable credit and ultimately boost economic growth, Alex Kanyankole, the BRD Chief Executive Officer, said.

“Our objective is to serve all the segments of the market… We are confident that this partnership will enable Urwego Bank finance SMEs that BRD has not been able to serve,” Kanyankole said during the signing ceremony of the credit refinancing agreement.

“Our ultimate objective is to ensure that people access affordable credit, while the lender also makes a profit. This is how we shall be able to boost financial inclusion.”

Though he did not disclose the interest rate, the BRD boss said the agreement answers the question of affordable finance.

Emmanuel Mawocha Tineyi, the Urwego Opportunity Bank chief executive officer, said they are targeting over 100,000 SME operators, especially farmers. He said the facility will make it possible for the bank to double the number of farmers it is serving to about 80,000 from the current 40,000 agribusiness operators.

It will also help complement the bank’s efforts to expand its outreach, he added. “We will be able to scale up products relevant to clients needs. We are yet to open more branches in Rubavu and Karongi districts, therefore this line of credit will complement the ongoing efforts to expand our reach,” Tineyi added.

Recently, BRD signed a Rwf8 billion long-term loan agreement with Rwanda Mountain Tea for the construction of a 4MW hydro-power plant (Giciye II) in Nyabihu District, Northern Province.

Local developers get boost as Airtel launches apps store

Local content developers in Rwanda have a great opportunity to market their innovations (applications) following the launch of Airtel app store.

“We want to ensure customers access locally-relevant mobile applications and also drive the local application development industry by empowering talented developers in the country,” Teddy Bhullar, the Airtel Rwanda Managing Director, said in a statement.

He added that customers can buy the apps using their mobile phones at affordable rates. The Airtel apps store consists of free and premium applications, and it is available for all phones using Android, Blackberry, Java, Symbian and Windows operating systems.

In addition to being able to buy the applications, customers can also-browse, preview, rate, report, comment, recommend, blog, download and games.

Clarisse Iribagiza, the chief executive officer of HeHe Limited, a Kigali-based mobile technologies company, said the store will give application developers a ready market, and also enable people access local content. The telecom will be the first company in the country to open an app store.

Software developers have in the past had to sell their applications through Google’s Android app store, Playstore.

With the recent launch of fourth generation long-term evolution (4G LTE) Internet, users will be able to benefit from fast upload and download speeds.

Ghana's mobile market grows 6.8% in 10 months

Mobile voice subscription figures recorded a 6.81% cumulative growth for the first 10 months of this year to reach nearly 30 million, National Communication Authority data has shown.

Between January and October this year, mobile network operators added a little above 1.57 million new voice lines to their networks as they prepare for slowing growth and a renewed focus on customer retention and value-added services.

According to the latest NCA figures, the total mobile voice subscription number as at October is more than 29.99 million and it is believed to have surpassed the 30 million mark in November.

In theory, the current subscription number, which is more than Ghana's population of little over 26 shows that there more potential customers for cellphones - which may not be a good sign for cellphone dealers in the country.

Some mobile network operators contend that the subscription figures in Ghana is highly overrated due to the challenge of "multi-simming", which happens when one subscriber owns more than one SIM card.

Network operators have thus called for concerted efforts to deepen the business operating environment to bring communication services to a lot more people as the current subscription numbers send a wrong signal as to the actual number of people who have access to communication services.

As of the end of October this year, MTN still controlled 44.94% of the market - even though it its subscriber numbers decreased marginally from the 13,546,678 at end-September to finish October at 13, 412, 525.

Vodafone's subscriber base increased from 6,870, 223 to 7, 128 764, which pegs Vodafone's market share as of October at 23.04%.

Similarly, tiGO, which now boasts a 13.53% market share, recorded an increase in its subscriber base from the September figure of 4,012,580 to end October at 4,056,322.

Airtel on the other hand witnessed a decrease in its subscriber base of 1.3% from the previous month. The subscriber base of the telecom services provider decreased from 3,790,636 to 3,142,910 in the period under review.

In the case of Expresso, its subscriber base went down from 120,108 in September to 118,171 by close of October, representing a market share of 0.54%.

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Public-private partnerships key in agric transformation

Government and the private sector should work together to enhance the agriculture sector and agribusiness development in the country, Attaher Maiga, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) representative in Rwanda, has said.

Maiga noted that the move could attract more investments into the agriculture industry.

“It is essential to boost the capacity of agro-enterprises and farmer organisations. There is also need to engage public and private sectors to develop uniform strategies that promote agribusiness investment to increase productivity and the country’s growth,” Maiga said.

Maiga was speaking during an East Africa Community and FAO regional workshop on agribusiness and agro-industry investment promotion in Kigali The workshop attracted over 30 agro-economists, experts and dealers from across the region.

“Public-private partnerships are critical to attract investments in the agriculture sector... We urge stakeholders across the region to work together and devise mechanisms that support agribusiness in the region,” Maiga said.

He noted that the increasing global demand for high-value agricultural products presents private investors a lot of opportunities to expand their enterprises. He however decried the low investment into the sector, saying this is affecting agriculture industry’s growth.

Emmanuel Kamugisha, the agriculture and food security officer at the Rwanda Ministry of East African Community Affairs, said efforts to step up agribusiness support were ongoing.

“We want to increase knowledge on appropriate methodologies and tools that we can adapt to promote investment into the agriculture sector,especially value addition and other activities along the value chain,” Kamugisha said.

However, it is also important to understand the sector needs and identify challenges in the value chain to be able to come up with the appropriate investment strategies, he added.

Innocent Musabyimana, the Ministry of Agriculture permanent secretary, said the size of the agricultural market in Africa is about $68.2 billion annually (and still growing).

“Therefore, we should improve agriculture to benefit from this growing demand,” he said.

According to Musabyimana, embracing value addition is key to increase the competitiveness of the country’s agriculture exports.

Sector experts, say EAC partner states need to define individual national goals and agribusiness investment promotion strategies reap from growing global food market.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Italy's best: Asamoah voted into Serie A team of the year

Juventus and Andrea Pirlo were the big winners in the Gran Gala del Calcio, but Napoli boycotted the ceremony.
The votes for the best players of 2014 were provided by the AIC - the Italian Players' Association.
Scudetto winners Juve were voted Team of the Year, while Gigi Buffon, Kwadwo Asamoah, Andrea Barzagli, Paul Pogba, Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez joined the Best XI. Pirlo was singled out as Player of the Year thanks to his performances for the Bianconeri.
Gonzalo Higuain was voted best centre-forward, but Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis refused to let his players attend the ceremony.
Ciro Immobile won the award as best right-sided striker and Capocannoniere due to his time at Torino, though he joined Borussia Dortmund over the summer.
Matteo Darmian of Torino was best right-back, while ex-Roma defender Mehdi Benatia beat Giorgio Chiellini and Davide Astori to the best centre-back trophy.
Antonio Conte received the award as Coach of the Year ahead of Rudi Garcia at Roma and Fiorentina's Vincenzo Montella.
AIC Best XI: Buffon; Darmian, Barzagli, Benatia, Asamoah; Pogba, Pirlo, Vidal; Immobile, Higuain, Tevez.

Nations Cup 2015: Equatorial Guinea preparations underway

CAF took the finals away from Morocco, who had demanded a delay due to their fears over Ebola. The stadiums in Malabo and Bata were both used as venues when Equatorial Guinea co-hosted the 2012 Nations Cup with Gabon. However work needs to be done on the grounds in both Ebebeyin and Mongomo.

“The turf for Mongomo and Ebebeyin stadiums is going to be brought by plane from Europe,” one of the supervisors told the BBC. Work also needs to be done on the stadium structure and other facilities, but all those involved in the preparations are confident the work will be completed in time. “Time is a big challenge but the good thing is that it's not new for us to work against time,” said Francisca Obiang Jimenez, the president of the Office of National Projects, who was there supervising the works.

The new highway built to connect Bata and Mongomo.

“We have built almost an entire city, Sipopo, in about two years and we've also built a highway.

The new highway means you can travel from Bata, on the coast, to Mongomo, located near the eastern border with Gabon, in around two hours. While the stadiums look set to be ready in time, having enough accommodation could be a challenge for the organisers in both Mongomo

and Ebebeyin. Some of the social housing buildings that could be used for accommodation during the Nations Cup Ebebeyin has only one large hotel of international standards.

The government and organisers are also taking measures against the possibility of the deadly Ebola virus getting into the country. Fans being screened for Ebola at the Bata Stadium.

All passengers arriving at Malabo airport from abroad are having their temperature checked. There was also an Ebola screening exercise at Bata stadium, before a match of the CEMAC (Economic Community of Central African States) Cup, which is currently being staged in Equatorial Guinea.

“During the Cup of Nations, there will be other controls and this kind of protection will be happening further away from the stadium,” a local fan, Juan Esono, told us.

A Cameroonian working at the Mongomo stadium told BBC Sport: “I've been checked many times for Ebola when crossing the border near Ebebeyin. So I don't think there will be a problem with the virus here.”

Sports Minister instructs Ghana FA to revise 2015 AFCON budget over contrasting camping base

The Ghana FA have been instructed to revise its budget for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations due to contrasting views over the Black Stars' pretournament camping base.

Reports are rife new Black Stars coach Avram Grant prefers to have the team camped in Spain ahead of the tournament.

The GFA have however earmarked locations in the UAE or South Africa to hold the team's pre-tournament camp.

A budget was sent to the Sports Ministry for consideration based on 'past experience' with respect to the camping site for the Black Stars.

But Sports Minister Mahama Ayariga has asked the GFA to revise its budget to accommodate the camping preference of the coach.

“The GFA brought a budget based on past experience,” Ayariga said.

“[The camping site] appears to be different from what the coach wants so I asked the GFA to go back and revise the budget.

“The amount [of revised budget] could be higher based on traveling changes due to the changes in the camping base.”

The Ghana FA's decision to camp in the UAE is believed to be influence by the high probability of securing friendly matches with African teams with most of them also looking to camp around the same location. A similar situation prevailed ahead of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations where most African teams camped in the UAE ahead of the competition in South Africa.

The Black Stars secured friendlies against North African giants Egypt and Tunisia ahead of the tournament.
Favourable weather conditions and superior training facilities in the Gulf state also enforces the GFA's preference but Avram Grant appears to have a contrasting view.

Ghana must prepare adequately to face the strong challenge of Group C where they will be battling Senegal, South Africa and Algeria when the competition kicks off in Equatorial Guinea in January.

Comedy Knights cracks ribs at Serena

It was all laughter and fun as the Comedy Knights treated comedy lovers to an overdose of their rib cracking jokes at Kigali Serena Hotel in a show dubbed, “Comedy Jam Holiday Special.”

The show started with an energetic dance performance by the Kimisagara-based dance crew Snippers, who curtain raised for the first comedian on stage Big Brother Hotshot Arthur Nkusi, aka Rutula kalokalo.

Arthur’s jokes were largely about his time in the Big Brother Africa House.

Later, his colleagues Babou and Micheal Sengazi, and the founder of Crackers comedy Alex Muhangi and Kigingi, from Burundi, took to the floor and made a laughter stampede.

Speaking to The New Times, Jerome Uwonkunda, the manager of Comedy Knights, said, “The reason we organised this show is because we wanted to give a special time to our fans. We will be doing a big show every three months and will be bringing in renowned comedians from South Africa or Nigeria.”

“We want to thank our partners KFM and Serena Hotel who made it possible for us to stage this show; the next show will be at Christian Life Assembly Church in Nyarutarama, on December 26.”

Walter Kagaba, a fan, said: “I was very impressed by the performances, initially I thought it was just another performance but it turned out to be pretty amazing. I’m looking forward to attending their next show.”

2Face, Madinga to host 2014 All Africa Music Award

Two of the best out of Africa, have been announced by the International Committee of All Africa Music, AFRIMA, to host the 2014 edition of the AFRIMA awards. They are Democratic Republic of Congo “French speaking hottest” female broadcaster and music presenter, Madinga Sona Maria and Nigerian legendary contemporary music star, 2Face Idibia. The two are the co-host of AFRIMA award ceremony holding in Lagos Nigeria on Saturday, December 27, 2014 at the prestigious grand ballroom of Oriental Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos.

Speaking about the collaboration between the two popular hosts, Executive Producer, AFRIMA, Mr Mike Dada, said, “The award ceremony is going to be explosive with 2Face and Madinga Sona Maria, two accomplished creative Africans, holding sway and guiding our distinguished guests and nominees through the programme. We promise to bring to Africa electrifying performances from our nominees and invited guest performers. Then add this to the famous faces and glamour of the African icons on the firstof- its-kind red carpet activity…It is going to be a spectacular show!”

Mandinga Sona Maria is a beauty to behold with a towering height of 1.78m. Mandiga who looks every inch a model is the hottest female broadcaster in Kinshasa Democratic Republic of Congo. Her musical show, Cite de Star is the biggest music show in Democratic Republic of Congo. A combination of beauty and brain, Mandinga presents her musical show on Digital Congo Television and Radio. She is also a performer.
A truly home grown music star, 2Face Idibia is one of the most decorated and successful Afro pop artist in Africa. He is one of the most bankable artists in the continent. 2Face has received so many awards among which are MTV Europe Music Award, World Music Award, Headies Awards (Hip-hop award), Channel OMusic Video Awards, and BET award for his musical works, MTV Africa Music Awards, MOBO award, KORA award, and numerous additional nominations. 2Baba, the stage name 2Face recently adopted, started his musical career with the Plantashun Boyz and together the group recorded two successful albums, Body and Soul and Sold Out. He went solo in 2004 and came out with his first solo album titled Face to Face. His latest album was released this year titled The Ascension and it features other artistes across the continent.

On hosting 2014 AFRIMA 2Face expressed his excitement when he said, “I am happy to be part of this history making event. I am delighted to host Africa, Africa is the future. I welcome Africa and the world to AFRIMA here in the beautiful city of Lagos, Nigeria. Let’s celebrate Africa together! ”

With 2Face and Mandiga anchoring the event, combined with the grandeur of the Grand Ballroom of Oriental Hotel with an African ambience, truly AFRIMA is set to host Africa and the world.

In partnership with the African Union Commission, the 2014 All Africa Music Awards will be a festival style open concert of non-stop music, fanfare and fashion exhibition from countries across Africa and performances by African artistes.

AFRIMA is proudly supported by ONE, Africa 2.0, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Culture, Tourism and National Orientation, and PRMAFRICA. It is being sponsored by Kenya Airways, Procter and Gamble, Peugeot, Diamond Bank, Uber among others.

AFRIMA is aimed at communicating the strength of Africa to the rest of the world for global competitiveness.

AFRIMA for hope, for celebration!

Celebrity Kingkong PY Wins Maiden Frytol Celebrity Cook-Off

Celebrity Kingking PY Addo Boateng, has won the maiden edition of the Frytol Oil Celebrity Cookoff which was held on Saturday at the Yiri Lodge, University of Ghana campus.

The Frytol Xmas Celebrity cook-off saw Ghana’s favourite actress Jasmine Baroudi and a man who is no stranger to our screens PY Addo Boateng go head to head with chefs from African Sun Amber Hotel, Accra. PY beat Jasmine by margin of public votes and tasting of food by Chefs from African Sun Amber Hotel, Accra.

PY won the day with the Recipe, Beef Filet with Sauteed Potatoes and Vegetables.

Event host Naa Ashorkor was with both teams and learned how they made their dishes and learning about our celebrities pet hates, passions and digging into their personal lives.

In an interview with newsmen, Fatima Ali Mohammed, MD for Wilmar International, producers of Frytol, said the company is seeking to create awareness about the Frytol brand in a more unique and fun manner.

"The Frytol brand is most loved in Ghana and we are using celebrities to create awareness by engaging them in fun food cooking activities," she said.

She also revealed that the event is going to be an annual affair with change in venues from year to year.

Frytol Xmas Cook-off is a fun food competition seeking to create awareness about the Frytol brand and exploring all the different dishes that can be made with Frytol product.

This event was organized by Sixth Sense Manifesto.


Equatorial Guinea is a country of luscious vegetation and beautiful scenery, including tropical forests and snowcapped volcanoes. The capital, Malabo, is a rather rundown but attractive town, with pleasant Spanish colonial architecture, a striking volcanic setting and a lively market. The white-sand beaches around the islands are stunning. No wonder the country was first of all named 'Formosa', meaning 'beautiful', by the Portuguese.

The area was first colonized by the Portuguese in the late 15th century and handed over to the Spanish in 1788. Self-government was granted in 1959, followed by full independence in 1968.Its economy has expanded rapidly following the discovery of oil and gas deposits in the Gulf of Guinea, though little of this wealth has trickled down to the general population.

The Mesmerizing Malabo
Malabo is the capital city of Equatorial Guinea. Found on the edge of this city is a deep-set volcano. This site has endorsed Malabo to have an exceptional terrain and wildlife, combined with the buzz of being an African capital city.

The Santa Isabel Cathedral is a must-see for all visitors to the African city, positioned in the Plaza de España. The cathedral is built in a Gothic-Spanish style, and makes available a contrast to the architecture around it. The Presidential palace is situated in the same square, and is worth a visit as well. Positioned on a volcano, Malabo offers sights such as craters and lakes that cannot be seen elsewhere.
The beaches are a widespread leisure or weekend spot for locals and tourists alike, and a day must be certainly be spent on the beach.

Getting Around Equatorial Guinea
Air: There are flights between Malabo and Bata every day except Sunday; it is advisable to book in advance. Iberia (IB) (website: operates direct flights from Madrid to Malabo. Cameroon Airlines (UY) operates regular flights to Malabo from London, Paris and Rome. Other airlines serving Equatorial Guinea include Air France, Brussels Airlines, British Airways, KLM, Swiss and Spanair.

Road: Bush taxis connect Malabo with the islands two other main towns, Luba and Riaba, and also run from Bata to Mongomo and Ebebiyin; they can be hired hourly or daily.

Water: There is a ferry between Malabo, Bata and Douala. The trip takes about 12 hours. There are four classes of fare.

Shopping in Equatorial Guinea
Markets sell local produce such as beans, rice, fruit, vegetables, oil and bush meat as well as fabric and clothing in traditional African prints, hardware and local crafts. However, prices may not be much cheaper than at home because many goods have to be imported from the mainland. Expect to barter in the markets.

Where to stay in Equatorial Guinea
Malabo, Bata, Luba and Ebebiyan offer several hotels of variable standards. In Malabo, there are also a few hostels offering basic cheap accommodation with shared bathroom facilities (two of which are located in Avenida de las Naciónes).

A Luxurious Leisure Experience Awaits You!!
If you’re captivated by Mother Nature, Equatorial Guinea is your Dreamland. Offering a variety of things to do with a splash of vibrancy, Equatorial Guinea has all of the benefits of a nation which strive to fascinate inbound leisure tourists, in particular prosperous inbound tourists. The amalgamation of pleasant weather, African rhythms and Spanish flair makes for a great day. Its many high-class hotels and solid infrastructure, pooled with glorious natural sites and unspoiled beaches make Equatorial Guinea eye-catching for luxury leisure tourists.

It’s Finger Licking Good!!
Equatorial Guinea has many yummy and delicious foods. Distinctive to most West African countries in the continent, they use peanuts, tomatoes, cassava, yams and a few treats, like monkey meat, that isn't readily a v a i l a b l e in the US - even from an o u t l a n d i s h meat vendor. C u s t o m a r y b r e a k f a s t foods include: boiled yams or cassava, bean cakes and ground millet porridge, which is very similar to grits. French food is common in Malabo, and some of the hotels can make available very genuine French cuisine. Local food is simply available by the roadside. A safer play would certainly be the hotel cafeteria or restaurant, where a dish of smoked beef and pepper is the prevalent national dish.

What to Do in Equatorial Guinea
Malabo: The small but striking capital city abounds in Spanish colonial architecture and pleasant open plazas. The bustling market and the Spanish Colonial Center are worth a visit.

Climbing Volcanoes: The spectacular Pico Malabo volcano is an easy day trip from the city of Malabo. Arrange an expedition to take in its breathtaking views.

Beaches: The area around the mainland city of Bata boasts several beautiful and undeveloped beaches. Those at Mbini, just 32 miles (51.5 kilometers) south of Bata, are particularly gorgeous.

Local Liquors: Malamba, made from sugarcane, and osang, a type of African tea, are the national drinks. Locally brewed beer and palm wine are also abundant.

Market Shopping: Markets can be found in most cities and towns. In addition to local produce, bush meat, and textiles, many markets feature local handicrafts.

Monte Alen National Park: This Park’s tropical forests are home to gorillas, elephants, chimpanzees, and many other creatures. Hire a local villager for a guided day trek through the park’s 870 miles (1,400 kilometers) of rain forest.

Bata Nightlife: This mainland city may feel small by day, but its nightlife is impressive. Be prepared for a long night; nightclubs typically don’t get going until quite late and are still jumping in the wee hours.

Moca Valley: Situated in the southern highlands of Bioko Island, this valley is home to the indigenous Buki people and offers plenty in the way of hiking and flora sightseeing.

Annobon: Head to the island of Annobon to see three of the country’s most famous mountain peaks, Pico del Fuega, Pico Centro, and Pico Surtado. Pico Surtado, the southernmost peak, is an inactive volcano whose crater now contains an impressive lake.

Arena Blanca: If you visit during the summer, Arena Blanca is a must-see. Its whitesand beaches are dazzling and enjoyable year-round. They literally come alive in the summertime with thousands of butterflies that nest there seasonally.