UK Minister for Africa calls for an end to the conflict in South Sudan

LONDON, United-Kingdom, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Anniversary of crisis in South Sudan. We should reflect on human cost. Country’s leaders must end the conflict now.

On the anniversary of the conflict in South Sudan, Minister for Africa James Duddridge said:

“One year on from the start of the crisis in South Sudan it is an important moment to reflect on the cost of the conflict and for South Sudan’s leaders to end the conflict once and for all. The crisis has been devastating for the people of South Sudan, with over 1.9 million people displaced from their homes, including nearly 500,000 fleeing across South Sudan’s borders, and many more facing acute hunger.

“This crisis is a failure of leadership. South Sudan’s leaders should recognise the plight of their fellow citizens and put the South Sudanese people first. This anniversary should impel leaders on both sides to bring an immediate end to hostilities and engage seriously with peace efforts.

“Regional leaders have led efforts to secure peace in South Sudan. I encourage the region and the African Union to now take the necessary steps to apply additional pressure on the parties to bring an end to the conflict. The UK stands ready to support action on sanctions, including at the UN Security Council.”

Categories: AFRICA

AfrAsia Bank attracts significant shareholding from National Bank of Canada (NBC)

PORT-LOUIS, Mauritius, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ – AfrAsia Bank Limited (http://www.afrasiabank.com/en) today announced the addition of an important world-class strategic partner, National Bank of Canada, to its shareholding structure. This represents a major vote of confidence in its business model, financial standing and unique positioning in regional and international markets. National Bank of Canada will immediately acquire a 9.5% stake in AfrAsia Bank, with the aim of further increasing its shareholding in the near future.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/afrasia.jpg

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/james-benoit-afrasia-ceo-3.jpg (James Benoît, CEO of Afrasia Bank)

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/afrasia-bank-arnaud-lagesse-2.jpg (Arnaud Lagesse, Chairman of AfrAsia Bank)

Photo 3: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/louis-vachon-president–ceo-national-bank-of-canada-3.jpg (Louis Vachon, President & CEO of the National Bank of Can ada)

Photo 4: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/office2.jpg (AfrAsia Offices)

National Bank of Canada, the sixth largest bank in Canada, is an integrated provider of financial services to retail, commercial, corporate and institutional clients. It has some 20,000 employees and 2.4 million clients and offers a complete range of services, including banking and investment solutions, securities brokerage, insurance and wealth management. Clients in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world are served through a network of representative offices, subsidiaries and partnerships.

“We are pleased to partner with AfrAsia Bank and have the opportunity to use our expertise and resources to contribute to its development,” said Louis Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer of National Bank of Canada. “This investment will be the first by National Bank of Canada in Africa. We believe its fast-growing and emerging economies offer attractive market opportunities.”

As of today, AfrAsia Bank’s growth plans and strategic vision, led by the founder shareholder – GML, have been clearly validated by favourable responses from investors, including Singaporean private equity firm, Intrasia Capital, French partner PROPARCO and now National Bank of Canada.

“Since inception, AfrAsia Bank’s vision has been to bring change and innovation to Mauritius banking, and to grow regionally as well as internationally. Over the past seven years, we have been consolidating our presence locally while reinforcing our footprint through our representative offices in South Africa and in London, and our associate company in Zimbabwe. With numerous representative offices, subsidiaries and partnerships, through which it can serve clients in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world, National Bank of Canada is a valuable shareholder that can further help with US connections as well as relations with European markets,” added Arnaud Lagesse, Chairman of AfrAsia Bank.

AfrAsia Bank’s total assets at the end of June 2014 were recorded at USD 1.56 billion. By offering tailor-made and innovative banking and investment solutions, with expertise in the local and international financial sectors, AfrAsia Bank aims to grow from having clients in 104 countries to becoming one of the biggest players in Africa and expanding in European as well as American markets.

“We have continuously invested in developing our bank to become a significant player in the region, Africa as well as internationally. We are honoured to partner with such a renowned financial institution as National Bank of Canada. This partnership will give us an impetus for further growth and reinforce the position of AfrAsia Bank in international markets,” said James Benoit, CEO of AfrAsia Bank.

“AfrAsia Bank’s business model, broad diversification of activities and growth potential are key assets that contributed to our decision to invest,” said Karen Leggett, Executive Vice-President – Marketing and Corporate Strategy at National Bank of Canada. “Growing trade between Africa and the rest of the world, notably Asia, is fuelling investments across the African continent and AfrAsia Bank is well positioned to benefit from this trend. We look forward to being a part of its future.”

CEO of AfrAsia Bank added that “Despite difficult prevailing market conditions and challenges, the bank’s strong performance has been truly encouraging, which has attracted world-class shareholders. With National Bank of Canada, we will continue to deliver on our corporate philosophy to build bridges between Africa, Asia and the rest of the world while using Mauritius as an International financial centre.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of AfrAsia.

For more information, please call:

Suneeta Motala

Head Marketing and Public Relations

AfrAsia Bank Limited

Tel: (230) 403 5500 / (230) 5 256 7545

Email: Suneeta.Motala@afrasiabank.com

About AfrAsia Bank Limited

A REGIONAL BANKING FORCE WITH GLOBAL REACH

Strategically based in Mauritius and with representation in key markets, AfrAsia Bank Limited serves the Africa-Asia trade corridor, combining its strengths and expertise in four core divisions:

-Private Banking and Wealth Management

-Corporate and Investment Banking

-Global Business

-Treasury

Since inception, the Bank has expanded through a combination of substantial organic growth and a series of strategic acquisitions, with core activities in Mauritius, South Africa, United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.

AfrAsia Bank Limited’s core banking and transactional capabilities are in Mauritius along with bank representative offices in Cape Town, Johannesburg and London, its asset management arm, AfrAsia Capital Management Limited and its investment banking arm, AfrAsia Corporate Finance (Pty) Ltd as well as its banking company, AfrAsia Bank (Zimbabwe) Limited.

About National Bank of Canada

With CDN$ 205 billion in assets as at October 31, 2014, National Bank of Canada (nbc.ca), together with its subsidiaries, forms one of Canada’s leading integrated financial groups. Founded in 1859, its head office is located in Montreal and its securities are listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange. (TSX: NA).

Categories: AFRICA

Vantage’s Fund II commits $10 million to the Simba Properties Investment Company in Uganda

KAMPALA, Uganda, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Vantage Capital (“Vantage”) (http://www.vantagecapital.co.za/), Africa’s leading mezzanine debt provider, today announced it has provided $10m of funding to Simba Properties Investment Company (“Simba Properties”), the property investment arm of Simba Group in Uganda which houses five prime property developments in Uganda, three of which are operating and two of which are under development.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/logo—vantage-capital-hi-res.jpg

The three operating properties, which are all located in the upmarket suburb of Kololo in Kampala, are:

-Protea Hotel Kampala: a four star, 70 bed luxury hotel which has been operational since 2007 and has won World Luxury Hotel Awards in 2010/11/12/13 and Africa Luxury Business Hotel Award in 2013 in Uganda (picture: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/5-1.jpg);

-CNOOC Building: a five storey office block which has been operational since end of 2011 and which is leased to blue chip companies operating in Uganda (picture http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/4-1.jpg);

-Elizabeth Royal Apartments: 30 high end apartments which Simba Group started leasing out from August 2013 and which are leased to foreign multinationals for use by their expatriates (picture http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/3-1.jpg).

The two properties under development are:

-Hotel Naguru: a four star, 140 bed luxury hotel on top of Naguru Hill (another prime location in Kampala) which is anticipated to be operational in Q4 2015 (picture http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/1-2.jpg);

-Moyo Close Apartments: 14 high end apartments located in Kololo which are anticipated to be completed in Q1 2015 (picture http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/2-2.jpg).

In addition to property, the Simba Group has business interests in telecom (Simba Telecom), energy (Electro-Maxx and True North Power), agriculture (Simba Farms), mining (gold) and other industries (such as Simba Electronics, Simba Travel Care and Zuku TV). Simba Group was started by the husband and wife team of Patrick and Carol Bitature in 1998 and has grown into one of the leading domestic investment groups in Uganda.

Patrick Bitature, the Founder and Chairman of Simba Group said, “Vantage brings an important and exciting new model of financing to the East African region. Simba Group is pleased to have found a strong mezzanine financing partner who provides medium-term growth capital but does not want to take our hard earned equity.”

Mokgome Mogoba, Associate Partner at Vantage, said “We are proud to have invested with the Simba Group, a leading and influential group of companies in Uganda with a strong commitment to the country and to the East African region.”

Warren van der Merwe, Chief Operating Officer at Vantage, added “Simba has managed to build an impressive and successful group of businesses, through a combination of entrepreneurial flair and highly professional management. Theirs is the kind of story that underpins our Pan African investment strategy of supporting mid-market family-owned businesses that are seeking to raise growth capital without having to dilute their shareholding. This is the kind of Group we would like to back in future transactions.”

The investment in Simba Properties follows Vantage’s pan-African strategy of focusing on high-growth African markets such as the East African Community members, Ghana, Nigeria, and some of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries.

Simba Properties is Vantage’s first investment in Uganda and the twelfth mezzanine transaction in Vantage’s second fund, which is now more than 85% invested. Vantage has commenced the raising of its third mezzanine fund, which is targeted to close by the first quarter of 2015 at $250 million.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Vantage Capital.

About Simba Group

Simba Group (http://the-simba-group.com) is an East African conglomerate with business interests in telecom, energy, property, agriculture, mining and other industries. It was started by Patrick and Carol Bitature in 1998 with an objective of becoming the largest mobile phone retailer and airtime distributor in East Africa. Since accomplishing that goal, Simba Group has gone on to become one of the largest most respected companies in East Africa. The Group has recently founded the first indigenous independent power plant in Africa and is focused on starting and growing businesses which improve the infrastructure and livelihoods of East Africans.

About Vantage Capital

Vantage Capital Group (http://www.vantagecapital.co.za/) was established in 2001 with funds under management of $14 million (R150 million) and now currently manages over $450 million (R5 billion). In addition to managing technology, mezzanine debt and renewable energy debt funds, Vantage also provides advisory and origination services through its debt capital markets division and makes proprietary investments using its balance sheet capital.

Capital for the Vantage Mezzanine and Vantage GreenX funds has been sourced from over thirty institutions including many leading African pension funds like the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) in South Africa and the Debswana Pension Fund in Botswana, development funders such as the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) and the Norwegian Fund for Development (Norfund), and private sector endowments such as the Kellogg Foundation from the United States.

Vantage has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town and in addition to its home market in South Africa, targets debt opportunities in a number of high-growth African countries including Ghana, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Botswana and Namibia. Mezzanine is an intermediate form of risk capital, which is situated between senior debt, the least risky tranche of the capital structure, and equity, the most risky. It combines elements of both debt and equity thereby providing companies with long-term funding on terms which are less dilutive to shareholders than pure equity.

For more information please contact:

Warren van der Merwe

Chief Operating Officer – Vantage Capital

warren@vantagecapital.co.za

Tel: +27 11 530 9106

Mokgome Mogoba

Associate Partner – Vantage Capital

mokgome@vantagemezzanine.com

Tel: +27 11 530 9133

Diana Njuguna

Associate – Vantage Capital

Diana@vantagemezzanine.com

Tel: +27 11 530 9131

Categories: AFRICA

Managing Director of Quantum Global Research Lab appointed a member of Green Growth Knowledge Platform’s Advisory Committee

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP) Steering Committee, the Global Green Growth Institute, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations Environment Program, and the World Bank, appoints Prof. Kevin Urama, Managing Director of QGRL a member of GGKP’s Advisory Committee.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/logo_qg_research_lab_p187.jpg

Photo Kevin Urama: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/_sel1673_schwach.jpg

Nigerian born, Professor Kevin Urama, the distinguished academic and economist will shortly take a seat on the steering committee of the Green Growth Knowledge Platform (GGKP). Recently appointed the Inaugural Managing Director of the groundbreaking Quantum Global Research Lab (QGRL) (http://www.quantumglobal.ch), Professor Urama gained a First Class Honors degree and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, a Master of Philosophy in Land Economy with a Distinction and a Ph.D., with a prize for the most outstanding thesis in economics and related subjects, from St. Edmund’s College of the UK’s University of Cambridge. He was named the Technology Executive of the Year by the Africa Technology Awards in 2012 and is an extraordinary and adjunct Professor at the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, South Africa and Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy, the University of Murdoch, Western Australia, respectively. He is also a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and member of several intergovernmental and international scientific panels.

Founded by the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Bank, the GGKP has a global partnership of over 30 international organizations, research institutes and think tanks. The GGKP helps to identify major knowledge gaps in green growth theory and practice and address those gaps by promoting collaboration and coordinated research; and using world-class knowledge management and communications tools to give practitioners and policymakers the analysis, guidance, tools and data necessary to support a green economy transition. Read more: http://www.greengrowthknowledge.org/about/advisory-committee

Welcoming the appointment Quantum Global Research Lab Founder Jean-Claude Bastos De Morais said,

“We are delighted for Kevin and proud of his appointment to this important advisory committee of this important global knowledge platform. He is a world class academic with a remarkable body of work; a man who embraces our vision of supporting African Sovereigns for sustainable investments and inclusive development, for the good of Africa, its people and the world in general”.

“I am especially pleased that Kevin’s news follows the announcement we made last week regarding the appointment of one of our pro-bono Advisory Board members, Dr Célestin Monga – another distinguished economist and academic –to a top UN role in Vienna.”

Responding to his appointment Professor Urama, commented.

“I am honored and privileged to receive this invitation to serve on the GGKP’s Advisory Committee. I am also grateful to the Chair of Quantum Global Research Lab for permitting me to accept this invitation to join the steering committee”.

“My ambitions are what they have always been: to make a significant and novel contribution to re-thinking the economics of development and facilitate transition to more inclusive, sustainable and equitable development for the benefit of humankind, our society and the environment. I pray that I am able to add value where I can and support the efforts of those who work in this important field, so that together, we can build a more sustainable world”.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Quantum Global Research Lab.

For media enquiries please contact:

Group Head of Communications, Mark Morley Tel: +41 798707039

About Quantum Global Research Lab

The Quantum Global Group Research Lab is an independent research partner to African Sovereigns, established in Switzerland to advance original thinking and novel insights on the economics of inclusive development in Africa. It leads innovation and excellence in the delivery of bottom-up econometric models of African economies that are embedded in African realities as tools for inclusive economic development policy and sustainable investment decision making in Africa. Read More: http:/www.quantumglobalresearchlab.ch

Professor Kevin Urama

Prof. Kevin Chika Urama holds a First Class Honors degree and a Master of Science in Agricultural Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He also gained a Master of Philosophy degree, with distinction, and a Ph.D. in Land Economy from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. A 2002-3 winner of the James Claydon Prize for the most outstanding Ph.D. thesis in economics or related subjects while studying at St. Edmund’s College, University of Cambridge; he was most recently the Executive Director of the African Technology Policy Studies Network (ATPS). Prof. Urama was named the Technology Executive of the Year by the Africa Technology Awards in 2012. An Extra-Ordinary Professor in the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, South Africa, Professor Urama is also an Adjunct Professor at the Sir Walter Murdoch School of Public Policy and International Affairs, University of Murdoch, Western Australia, and a Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS). He serves on several international and intergovernmental scientific panels, advisory boards, and editorial boards of scientific journals, and has published on various subjects of economics, public policy and innovation.

Categories: AFRICA

Zeid warns of “tinderbox” in South Sudan as civilians suffer daily rights violations

GENEVA, Switzerland, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Monday highlighted the “dreadful” situation of civilians in South Sudan, who are victims of targeted killings, looting and violence, and have been surviving in increasingly desperate living conditions since the conflict broke out a year ago today.

Zeid warned that there were deeply worrying indications that fighting would intensify now that the dry season had begun, and urged all parties to practice restraint, engage in meaningful dialogue and work to restore calm.

“The people of South Sudan are living in a tinderbox, with emotions high, an abundant flow of weapons and with both sides recruiting fighters, often forcefully and including children,” the High Commissioner said. “Inflammatory rhetoric is also on the rise and there has been sporadic fighting in which civilians have been killed and displaced and their property looted.”

“Talks are set to resume this week and I urge both sides to use the talks to restore calm and avert another human catastrophe in the country.”

Zeid said there were daily reports of fighting and skirmishes, and while there has not been the large-scale fighting that occurred before the start of the rainy season, even small-scale skirmishes frequently result in the killing of numerous civilians. The high level of mistrust within and between communities, based on perceived support for either the Government or the opposition, means that violence is easily triggered.

“Reports of gross abuses of international human rights law and international humanitarian law are all too common in the current conflict, and there is a disturbing pattern in which civilians are targeted and killed during hostilities for perceived or actual affiliation with a group different to the armed element in control,” he said.

The High Commissioner also highlighted the dire humanitarian situation of the large number of internally displaced people. According to latest UN figures, there are 1.4 million displaced within the country, and another half a million taking refuge in neighbouring countries. More than 97,000 people remain in compounds of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in very difficult conditions.

“The hopelessness in the camps of internally displaced people is palpable,” Zeid said. “These are women, men and children who spend their days in terrible conditions – at the height of the rainy season, they sometimes had to wade through waist-deep mud. Children have not gone to school for a year now, and may not be able to for a long time. Healthcare is basic at best. They have no freedom of movement, and live in dread, with violence always just around the corner.”

“Even after the conflict ends, it will take months – if not years – for these families to be able to bring a semblance of normalcy to their lives. Their homes and livelihoods have been destroyed. They have missed the planting season. They have witnessed and experienced violence. The conflict has already taken a very heavy toll on civilians – it is time for both sides to acknowledge this needless suffering, and to make a serious, concerted effort to bring it to an end, without further delay or prevarication.”

Zeid also called on political leaders to make clear, unequivocal public statements that the targeting of civilians is not permitted and will not be tolerated. He stressed that justice and accountability for gross human rights violations will be an essential component of any peace plan if peace is to be sustainable.

“Impunity emboldens the perpetrators of abuses – and has most likely accentuated the brazen nature of the human rights violations that have occurred during this conflict,” he said. “It is crucial that justice and accountability are visibly made a top priority.”

Categories: AFRICA

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon calls for power-sharing agreement in South Sudan

NEW YORK, December 15, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Today marks one year since conflict broke out in the world’s youngest nation, South Sudan. I am dismayed and saddened that the parties have yet to reach a comprehensive peace agreement. The leaders of South Sudan have allowed their personal ambitions to jeopardize the future of an entire nation. Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have died, 1.9 million people have been displaced by the conflict, and millions more have become vulne! rable to food insecurity. This is tragic and unacceptable. The killing must stop now. The very premise of the country’s independence struggle – a new beginning that was supposed to be founded on tolerance, good governance, accountability and unity – is disappearing before our eyes.

I once again call on the leadership of both sides to agree to an inclusive, power-sharing arrangement to begin a transitional phase of governance that will address both the root causes of the conflict and ensure accountability for the crimes committed over the past year. They must end the culture of impunity if reconciliation and a sustainable peace are to be achieved.

I call on the international community to put its collective weight behind the peace process led by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development and I commend the African Union Peace and Security Council for creating a Heads of State ad-hoc committee for this purpose. The United Nations will remain fully engaged in support of the peace process, the protection of civilians and the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Categories: AFRICA