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Africans Take Centre Stage As NBA Reveals 2020 Draft Picks

Precious Achiuwa, 20th NBA draft pick was born in Nigeria

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The African continent was well represented in the 2020 NBA drafts with at least 10 players from the continent involved in the making of history.

The continent’s most populous country, Nigeria had 8 players involved in the first 60 draft picks in what is the highest number of drafts from any African country in the history of the NBA, the biggest basketball league in the world.

Other players from Cameroon, Senegal and Guinea respectively who were not drafted, but were part of the drafts, are also available as free agents.

Who Are The African Draft Picks?

Isaac Okoro: Drafted in by the Cleveland Cavaliers with the 5th overall pick, Okoro, born in Atlanta, Georgia to Nigerian parents is one of the Africans who made headlines in the 2020 NBA drafts. The 19-year old small forward, who was drafted from Auburn is eligible to represent Nigeria, despite representing the United States in the U-17.

Onyeka Okongwu: The University of South Carolina’s 19-year old Power forward was born in Los Angeles, California to Nigerian parents. He was drafted in by the Atlanta Hawks with the 6th overall pick. Okongwu is rated highly for his performance at the University of South Carolina Trojans and is seen as one of the finest teenagers in American basketball.

Precious Achiuwa – a freshman at Memphis College, born in Port Harcourt, South-South Nigeria was selected as the 20th overall draft. Achiuwa was drafted in by the Miami Heats who already have a Nigerian star man, Bam Adebayo on their ranks. 

Zeke Nnaji, new Denver Nuggets NBA draft

Zeke Nnaji: Ezekiel Tobechukwu Nnaji, 19, was drafted in by the Denver Nuggets for the 2020  NBA. He was born in the United States to a Nigerian father and an American mother. Nnaji was chosen by the Nuggets with the 22nd overall draft pick after his impressive performance with the Arizona Wildcats.

Udoka Azubuike: The Kansas Centre was chosen by the Utah Jazz with the 27th overall pick. He was born in Lagos to Nigerian parents and has been rated as one to look out for in the NBA.

Desmond Bane: Born to a Nigerian father and an American mother, Bane, 22, reminded the world of his African heritage after the NBA missed his name as one of the players with Nigerian roots in the 2020 NBA drafts. He was chosen by the Memphis Grizzlies with the 30th overall draft. 

Daniel Oturu: Akinfayoshe Daniel Oturu, 19 was born in Brooklyn, New York to Nigerian parents. Oturu was drafted in by the Los Angeles Clippers with the 33rd overall pick. The 6ft 10” tall Centre played college basketball with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. 

Jordan Nwora: Son of Nigeria’s senior male basketball team coach, Alex Nwora, Jordan was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 45th overall draft pick. The 22-year old Louisville Cardinals’ small forward has been a part of the Nigerian senior male basketball team, D’Tigers.

He was born in Buffalo, New York to a Nigerian father and an American mother. 

Karim Mane: Although undrafted, Mane, 20, born in Dakar, Senegal, is a player many have tipped to make it to the NBA.

He filed in hoping to make the cut as one of the NBA Combined drafts but was not considered for the first selection. This makes Mané a free agent and can still sign for any team in the NBA. 

Paul Eboua: Born in Yaoundé, Cameroon, Eboua, who plays professional basketball in Italy was snubbed in the NBA draft but is a free agent and can sign for any team interested in him. 

The 20-year old has been listed as one of the players who may eventually feature in the coming NBA season if he impresses his suitors enough. 

Mamadi Diakite: Born in Conakry, Guinea, Diakite joined US basketball through help of a Guinean former basketball player. He was undrafted for the 2020 NBA but is seen as a player that is good enough to crack a space in professional basketball. 

Mamadi Diakite, Guinean/streamingthelawn

Other Africans who were involved in the 2020 NBA drafts include: Senegalese, Lamine Diane and a Nigerian-Greek postgraduate student, Nikolaos Okekuoyen. Both players were neither drafted nor selected as free agents. 

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Private Sector Key To Realising Sustainability Agenda In Africa – UN

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The United Nation Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed is asking African governments to leverage capital, technology, and manpower from industry to hasten realisation of sustainability agenda and pandemic recovery in the continent.

She made this call on Thursday during a virtual summit to discuss the role of business in the attainment of key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) like poverty eradication, health, and gender parity in Africa.

Mohammed, in her remarks, emphasised that targeted investments from Africa’s indigenous businesses are required to catalyse inclusive growth in the continent amid COVID-19 linked economic shocks.

“The private sector in Africa should seize the opportunity to invest sustainably and create a peaceful, prosperous continent that is also resilient to the shocks triggered by the pandemic,” said Mohamed.

More than 2,000 delegates including policymakers, donors, and grassroots campaigners participated in the day-long virtual summit dubbed “Uniting Business for the Africa We Want: Decade of Action and Opportunities”.

The summit that was organised by the UN Global Compact in collaboration with local private sector networks in Africa, discussed market-led interventions that can revitalise the sustainability agenda in the continent.

The UN Deputy Secretary-General said that Africa requires private sector investments to address chronic underdevelopment, inequality, youth unemployment, and the public health crisis created by COVID-19.

“The business sector should be on the frontline of efforts to re-energise African economies and enhance their resilience to the pandemic by tapping into innovations,” said Mohammed.

She said that robust policies should be enacted to foster the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and tackle Africa’s gaping youth unemployment.

Hanna Tetteh, UN Secretary General’s Special Representative to the AU said that businesses should embrace sustainability principles across their key operations in order to strengthen the response to the climate crisis, pandemics, and civil disruptions in Africa.

“We should utilise the energy, innovation, and creativity of African entrepreneurs to boost recovery from the pandemic, create decent jobs for the youth and strengthen cohesion,” said Tetteh.

Sanda Ojiambo, Executive Director of UN Global Compact, on her part pointed out that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a reawakening among African businesses on the need to invest in programmes that transform local communities.

“African businesses have been working hand in hand with governments to help defeat the pandemic by providing communities with sanitizers, clean water, and protective gear,” said Ojiambo.

“These businesses are providing local solutions to the challenge of poverty, hunger, lack of clean water, and disease.

“Those actions have ensured the continent is closer to realising the UN 2030 goals and Agenda 2063,” she added.

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UK Sends Troops To Mali On Peacekeeping

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has sent the first of 300 British troops to Mali to join the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and bolster the organisation’s peacekeeping in the West African country.

The first of the British troops have already arrived in Mali, with the rest due to follow within a week.

The UK’s defence ministry says the force will join 14,000 peacekeepers from 50 nations, to protect Mali’s population from growing Islamist violence.

The British troops will provide MINUSMA with a dedicated long-range ground reconnaissance capability that has been lacking since soldiers from the Dutch 11 Air Mobile Brigade completed their last patrol in April 2019.

Most of the British troops are drawn from the Light Dragoons and Anglian Regiments who will be supported by a detachment from 32 Regiment Royal Artillery, an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) unit.

More than 5,000 French troops have underpinned the operation, but President Emmanuel Macron is under pressure to reduce his forces.

The mission to the Sahel region of Africa has been described as the world’s most dangerous peacekeeping deployment.

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Ethiopia, UN Strike Deal for Unimpeded Humanitarian Access To Tigray

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The United Nation on Friday announced that an agreement has been reached with the Ethiopian Government to allow “unimpeded, sustained and secure access” for humanitarian supplies to reach those in need across areas now under its control in Tigray.

The UN Headquarters in New York confirmed the details of the deal through its spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric.

Dujarric said that the safe passage of aid supplies and staff also extends to the Ethiopian regions of Amhara and Afar, bordering Tigray, where fighting between federal and regional forces, has impacted around six million people during the past month.

A UN statement said until now, no supplies have been allowed into the conflict zone, which has displaced thousands, many across the border into Sudan.

UN humanitarian coordination office (OCHA) spokesperson based in Nairobi, Saviano Abreu, said earlier that the first mission to carry out a needs assessment would begin on Wednesday.

He added that the UN was committed to engaging with “all parties to the conflict” and ensuring that aid was distributed “strictly based on needs”.

Dujarric said that all aid distribution would be carried out “in compliance with the globally-agreed principles of humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality. This includes working to ensure that people impacted by the conflict are assisted without distinction of any kind other than the urgency of their needs”.

Many Ethiopians have also been internally displaced from Tigray, seeking refuge in Afar and Amhara, and the UN needs assessment would aim to reach those affected by the conflict, added Mr. Dujarric.

On Monday, the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) appealed to Ethiopia for urgent access to assist around 96,000 Eritrean refugees in Tigray camps, who it was estimated had essentially run out of food.

Spokesperson in Geneva, Babar Baloch, said concerns were growing “by the hour, with hunger and malnutrition a real danger”.

Communications to the Tigray region continue to be severed, along with transportation routes, and the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has reportedly rejected dialogue with Tigray’s regional leaders who are said to be on the run, after the regional capital was entered by federal forces last weekend.

The UN estimates that some two million are now in need of assistance in and around Tigray and some one million have been displaced by the fighting, including more than 45,000 who have fled across the border into Sudan.

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