Africa This Week 111222: Nigeria’s Multi-Billion Dollar Hydropower Plant Construction, Burkina Faso’s New Transitional Legislative Assembly, Kenya-South Africa Free Visa Agreement, and More

Authorities in Nigeria said on Friday that the country intends to give a concession on its $1.3 billion hydropower plant that is currently under construction and is looking for proposals from private companies to manage the China-funded plant. According to the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Nigeria’s privatisation agency, the Zungeru Hydroelectric Power Plant (ZHPP), the largest of its kind in the country, is scheduled to produce 700 megawatts and is being financed by loans from China’s Exim Bank. The project, which is in the northwest of the state of Niger, will eventually supply 10% of the country’s domestic energy requirements, according to the agency. With an installed capacity of 12,500 MW but a production of only approximately a quarter of that, the largest economy in Africa is dependent on diesel generators for many homes and companies.

In Burkina Faso, more than a month after the coup d’état that installed Captain Ibrahim Traore as president, the 71 members chosen to the new Transitional Legislative Assembly (TLA) took the oath of office on Friday. According to the head of state, the texts of the intended reforms for the transition must be voted on by this assembly. The head of state, the defence and security forces, civil society organizations, representatives of the nation’s regions, and political parties all made appointments for the 71 delegates. They take over for their predecessors, who were appointed in a similar manner in March when the assembly was formed by the junta led by Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, which was deposed at the end of September.Twelve members of the previous assembly were reappointed, including Ousmane Bougouma, a 41-year-old law professor who was voted assembly president on Friday, and Abdoulaye Soma, a former presidential candidate in the November 2020 election. This legislative body was established in response to the Transitional Charter’s adoption in the middle of October. This charter was created following consultation between the junta in power and the country’s “active forces” (parties, unions, and civil society).

Kenyans will be able to travel to South Africa without a visa for up to 90 days in a calendar year, the presidents of South Africa and Kenya said on Wednesday. South Africans are already entitled to free visas upon arrival in Kenya, whereas Kenyans must pay a fee and provide proof of sufficient cash in addition to return tickets. The revised agreement will go into force on January 1, 2023. Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa, visited Kenya for the first time in his official capacity. He and Kenyan President William Ruto applauded the African Union-mediated Ethiopia peace accord, which was concluded last week in South Africa. In order to achieve a long-lasting political settlement, they pleaded with the parties to “guarantee full implementation of the accord.” The governments of Kenya and South Africa also gave their trade ministers instructions to remove obstacles that prevent trade between the two nations. The economies of the two countries are among the most robust on the continent of Africa.

In Tunisia, Rached Ghannouchi, the speaker of the disbanded parliament and President Kais Saied’s bitter adversary, was freed late on Thursday, according to his attorney. He had been on trial for money laundering and “incitement to violence.” Ghannouchi was previously questioned about the case in July. He is the leader of the Islamist-inspired Ennahdha party, which ruled Tunisian politics for ten years before Saied staged a takeover in the middle of 2021. Instalingo, a digital content production company that has been under investigation since last year for allegedly “plotting against state security” and inciting violence, is the subject of additional criminal charges against Ennahdha members. Ghannouchi was freed by the investigating judge following a 14-hour session, according to his attorney, Sami Triki, who also noted that a date for the next hearing has not yet been determined. Saied’s July 2021 power grab and subsequent dismissal of the Ennahdha-supported government have drawn scathing criticism from Ghannouchi. Saied also oversaw the passage of a constitution that gave his own office nearly unrestricted authority.

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One of the 20 winners of the “For women in science” initiative of the L’Oréal Foundation and UNESCO, which seeks to increase the visibility of female researchers across the globe, is Adjata Kamara of the Ivory Coast. The 25-year-old was selected for her work on biopesticides to safeguard yam crops, a root that is highly appreciated in sub-Saharan Africa. Her childhood experience watching her father’s mango crops destroyed by fungi ignited her enthusiasm for research. Adjata stated that her objective is to create “biopesticides based on plant extracts, fungi, and beneficial bacteria” in order to treat this anomaly that interferes with the growth of a plant that is the foundation of a staple food in many parts of Africa without the use of chemicals. Adjata is one of the twenty winners from sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa) of the For Women in Science Young Talent Prize. Each winner will receive between 10,000 and 15,000 euros to support their research.

Following a stalemate in salary negotiations with the government, thousands of public employees in South Africa shut down their offices on Thursday, threatening to disrupt critical services. The Public Servants Association (PSA), one of South Africa’s largest labour unions with more than 235,000 members, led the work stoppage. When Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi announced last week that he would unilaterally apply a three percent increase across the board, the pay impasse between the government and its workers grew worse because the unions demanded a 6.5 percent increase. Workers from several unions, including nurses, immigration agents, and some police officers, demonstrated in front of the Treasury building in Pretoria while hoisting signs that said, “Public servants are bleeding.” The PSA had previously issued a warning on Wednesday that the strike would “have a major impact” on the departments of home affairs, transportation, and border control. According to the report, the minister’s “irresponsible behavior” has harmed the already fragile relations and “substantial trust deficit” between the government and unions.

Since Elon Musk took over as CEO of Twitter less than two weeks ago, there have already been concerns raised about the company’s decision to ignore significant dangers in some of its most important international growth regions. Reports of a major employee layoff at its sole African location in Accra, Ghana’s capital city, surfaced on Friday, November 4. Since Twitter announced that Ghana would be the site of its first African office in April 2021, employees at that location had been working remotely until last week. After the job cuts, which also reportedly affected the company’s India office, only one employee seems to have been kept in the Ghana office. With much excitement, the business launched an office in Ghana last year, claiming that it intended to be more “immersed” in African debates.

Blnk, a fintech platform that offers rapid consumer loans in Egypt, has secured one of the largest investment rounds for a startup in the nation this year by receiving $32 million. According to co-founder and CEO Amr Sultan, the firm, which was founded in October 2021, raised $23.7 million in equity and debt capital and $8.3 million in securitized bond issues. He claims that the money will be used to speed up financial inclusion in underserved areas of the nation, to support the ongoing development of Blnk’s AI-powered lending infrastructure, and to finance the company’s rapidly expanding customer base. Leading the $12.5 million in pre-seed and seed funding rounds were Egypt’s Sawari Ventures and Abu Dhabi’s Emirates International Investment Company (EIIC), along with a number of well-known domestic and foreign angel investors. Several prestigious local banks provided the $11.2 million in debt financing. The National Bank of Egypt and Banque du Caire underwrote the $8.3 million securitized bond issuance.

In spite of demands for his resignation from members of the ruling party and the opposition, Ghana’s troubled finance minister Ken Ofori-Atta intends to submit his 2023 budget statement this month, a ruling party spokesman said on Friday. As Ghana experiences its worst economic crisis in a generation, with inflation over 40% and its cedi currency at all-time lows, Ofori-Atta has come under pressure. Despite repeated promises to the contrary, Ghana has been compelled to turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for aid due to economic difficulties, which has sparked protests. A proposal to remove Ofori-Atta from office was brought before parliament on Thursday by the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) party, which accuses him of profiting off Ghana’s economic difficulties through dubious deals and unlawful payments. Instead of putting the matter to a vote, the legislature established an eight-person committee to investigate the charges and deliver a report within seven business days.

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