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AfCFTA: World Bank Economist Urges Full Rollout Of AU Passport2 minutes read

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The World Bank’s Chief Economist on Africa, Dr Albert Zeufack, has urged full roll out of the African Union (AU) passport without further delay.

Zeufack made the call at a roundtable on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which is expected to finally take off in January.

The virtual forum was organised by Nazaru LLC, a U.S.-based business services firm founded by a Nigerian, Mrs Toyin Umesiri, to connect the world to Africa.

Zeufack stated that implementation of the single passport, especially for business travellers, was critical to the success of the AfCFTA.

According to him, the passport will go a long way in eliminating the barriers to free movement of investments, goods, services and people within the continent.

“Economic integration will be successful in Africa if we achieve physical integration by breaking down the non-tariff barriers, and ensure free movement of people.

“And I am here calling on the African Union and others to implement that African passport, please,” he said.

Travelling within the continent is cumbersome due to unfriendly borders, high travel costs, among others.

This informed the African Union passport initiative, which was unveiled at the 27th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU in Kigali, Rwanda in 2016.

It is meant to ease travel within the continent by granting citizens of AU member states visa exemption to all the 54 countries in the union.

Only a handful of government leaders, diplomats, AU officials and the elite have been issued with the passport as work continues on the technical details for a full roll out.

“The last time I asked, I was told, ‘oh, it is working, we have delivered it to Heads of States.

“Sorry, they don’t need it. Business people need it to create those factories, to create those jobs for the African youth that desperately need them,” Zeufack said.

Reports say even bearers of the passport are currently having issues with free movement across the continent.

Nigerian businessman and industrialist, Aliko Dangote, is reported to have said he was given Angolan visa on the passport during a visit to the country in 2019.

“I was invited by the president of Angola to come and see him, and I had to go. When I got there, I had to be given visa on African Union passport.

“It is not about fees, when you say African Union passport, you should be able to go everywhere, free of charge,” media reports quoted him as saying.

East Africa Business News

Uganda Establishes First Free Zone at Entebbe Airport

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The government of Uganda through the Uganda Free Zone Authority (UFZA) has finalised plans to establish the first public free zone at Entebbe International Airport. The free zone is projected to boost export-oriented investment in the country.

The project will be implemented by the National Enterprise Corporation (NEC) on a five acre piece of land acquired from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA) at the Entebbe International Airport premises.

Under the arrangement, the project targets sectors which include food processing, mineral processing, warehousing, storage and simple assembly, where all operators in the public free zone will process their products for onward export through Entebbe International Airport.

The development of the Public Free Zone projected to cost UGX 48billion will, on completion house seven production units and trade houses such as offices of the Uganda Free Zones Authority, Uganda Revenue Authority, and other government offices to promote enterprise. The Government of Uganda (GoU) has already awarded UGX 12.5 Billion for the first phase of the project.

Speaking at the site handover event, Hez Kimoomi Alinda, the Uganda Free Zones Authority Executive Director, said the project is expected to contribute cargo volumes, create hundreds of direct jobs and significantly improve Uganda’s exports.

“On completion, the project will support increased production quality assurance and value addition to commodities that are widely produced by the masses to improve household incomes, create employment and eliminate poverty as well as improve the value of Uganda’s exports,” he said.

Alinda was speaking while handing over the site for the construction of the Entebbe International Airport Free Zone at which he said they had acquired five acres from the Uganda Civil Aviation Authority for the development and contracted National Enterprise Corporation, the commercial arm of the UPDF for the construction.

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Somali Petroleum Authority Appoints Independent Directors

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The Somali Petroleum Authority (SPA) has announced the appointment of six Independent Directors to its Board, each representing a Member State and one Independent Director representing the Federal Government – following the approval of the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers.

The announcement follows the appointment of Ibrahim Hussein as Chairman and Chief Executive of the SPA, representing the Federal Government, and is in line with the provisions of the Petroleum Law.

The Board will oversee all the SPA’s activities to ensure that it develops a sustainable and competitive industry in the interests of all Somali people, in keeping with its mandate.

The newly appointed Board Members to the SPA are Asha Osman Ahmed, Vice Chair and Board Member representing Banadir Regional Authority;
Ibrahim Ahmed Layte, Board Member representing Hirshabelle State;
Abdulkadir Aden Mohamud, Board Member representing Galmudug State;
Ibrahim Abdulkadir Mohamed, Board Member representing South West State; Ahmed Haji Abdi, Board Member representing Jubaland State;
Abdihafid Ali Dirir, Board Member representing Somaliland State; and
Mahad Mohamed Sh. Hassan, Board member representing the Federal Government.

There are nine positions on the Board of the SPA representing seven Members States and two representing the Federal Government. The Board focuses on the SPA’s long-term objectives and priorities to be one of the world’s leading petroleum authorities, promoting the development of a sustainable oil and gas industry. Specifically, the Board will ensure that the regulatory and fiscal regime being developed will apply the principles of equality, openness, accountability, transparency and non-discrimination in the interests of all the Somali people. The Board is committed to upholding the highest standards of health and safety for people in all activities relating to the exploration of petroleum in Somalia, as well as maintaining world-class environmental standards. Moreover, the Board will work to maintain sound risk management, internal control systems and reviews on the efficacy of these annually.

In June 2019, The Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources announced details of the Petroleum Ownership Management and Revenue Sharing Agreement between the Federal Government and its Member States, which delivers by far the highest percentage of potential revenues from the industry to non-Federal institutions of any comparable agreement. The structure of the Board, with seven of its nine members representing the Member States, will underpin the SPA’s commitment to develop the petroleum industry in the interests of all the Somali people.

Commenting on the appointment Ibrahim Hussein, Chairman and Chief Executive, said: “We are very excited to welcome new colleagues onto the Board of the newly established SPA, as together we work to develop the country’s petroleum industry. The structure of our Board will ensure that all the Member States are able to help shape the development of the industry in the interests of the whole country. The SPA is committed to rigorous standards of corporate governance in order to achieve our goal of attracting international investment to maximize the economic recovery of the country’s oil and gas reserves. This will enable Member States to significantly increase investment in education, transport, agriculture and healthcare infrastructure.”

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Anonymous Didn’t Hack Our Website – First Bank

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Anonymous, an online network known for launching cyberattacks against government institutions, has reportedly hacked the website of First Bank of Nigeria Limited.

But the financial institution has denied the hack.

A visit to the bank’s website at 01:30pm showed that it had been brought down completely.

In a string of tweets, Anonymous confirmed bringing down the bank’s website while alleging that the bank deducted money from the accounts of customers who are in support of the #EndSARS campaign.

Anonymous also accused the bank of instructing its staff not to join the #EndSARS campaign.

It stated, “Now #ENDSARSOPPRESSION Official website of First Banks Nigeria has been taken #Offline. You remove money from users because they support #EndSARS.

“We #Anonymous have taken-down your website in support of #EndSARS

“You will pay for your actions. you should have expected us!

“Enjoy your server taken down. no money is gone.”

Anonymous, however, said it would restore the website after it “keep it down for some time”.

However, First Bank said the website was never brought down in the first place.

The bank said, “Our attention has been drawn to the tweet making the rounds on social media on shutting down the FirstBank website following a false tweet that the Bank prevented staff from joining the ongoing protests in the country.

“As the largest banking institution in Nigeria, it is not unlikely that we may be seen as a target in circumstances such as these. This is rather unfortunate as we believe far-reaching reform is necessary and we have said as much on a number of occasions across our platforms.

“In the process of change, some pain will be borne by all and some anger may well be misdirected. We understand this as a part of the process of the struggle.

“”We have a large staff strength and an even larger customer base who may be affected by any disruption and this would be a pity as a number are also contributing in many ways to ensure that voices are heard and required action is taken.

“We have been consistent in our message on the need to end all brutality and carry out necessary reforms. We will continue to lend our voice accordingly.”

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