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Aliko Dangote $20m transformative donation to The African Center focused on Policy, Business and Culture

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Hadeel Ibrahim, Co-Chair, The Africa Center; Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Aliko Dangote Foundation; Mo Ibrahim, Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Bill Gates, co-founder, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Halima Dangote, Board President. Photo taken on Monday, Sept. 23, 2019 in New York. (Loren Matthew /AP Images for The Africa Center)

Sharing in Dangote’s vision, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also announced a new $5 million grant at the Future Africa Forum

LAGOS, Nigeria, October 2, 2019 – Peeved with the negative perception of Africa by the outside world, Chairman, Aliko Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote, on Monday, September 23, 2019 made a philanthropic donation of $20 million to The Africa Center in New York, United States of America towards reversing the trend.

Africa Center is a leading non-profit institution focused on challenging historical stereotype around the African continent and a hub for creating an intersection of African policy, business, and culture and recreating narratives about Africa’s economic and cultural significance today and into the future.

Sharing in Dangote’s vision, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, also announced a new $5 million grant at the Future Africa Forum. The Gates Foundation grant is directed to the Center’s capital campaign and for the development of its policy initiatives.

Other foundations, corporations, and individuals that provided leadership support for the capital campaign, including the Mo Ibrahim Family, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, were also recognised at yesterday’s event, which marked the conclusion of the second phase of construction.

In recognition of his love and unusual passion for the continent, Dangote was honoured as the main hall of The Africa Center, was named after him.

Named “The Africa Center at Aliko Dangote Hall”, speakers at the event which was part of The Future Africa Forum, praised the efforts of Dangote describing his various philanthropic interventions in Africa and beyond as very significant. The Forum was this year’s signature policy and business dialogue event of The Africa Center in partnership with the Aliko Dangote Foundation.

Dangote, Africa’s leading entrepreneur had announced that the donation was towards the completion of the second phase of The Africa Center’s physical space, which he described as transformative, thus enabling the Center to accelerate its capital campaign, to further activate its public spaces and programming, and support ongoing operations.

On why he made the landmark donation, Dangote said the donation through the Aliko Dangote Foundation is focused on supporting The Africa Center’s work in transforming global understanding of the continent and promoting partnership and collaboration between Africa and the rest of the world.

Said he: “the Africa Center is showcasing Africa in a contemporary, multifaceted manner as a center of innovation, growth, and limitless potential, which makes this project extremely important and worthy of support through my foundation.

Also Read Cynthia M. Wright: On Becoming A Successful Speaker, Business Mentor And Organisational Strategist

“There is an opportunity to establish new narratives about Africa today, with its unrivaled mix of people, ideas, and resources, which are both its greatest strength and the basis for its tremendous, untapped promise. The connections The Africa Center will make between Africa, the United States, and the rest of the world, including members of the Diaspora, are needed more now than ever before.”

In her remark, President of the Center and a Group Executive Director of Dangote Industries, Halima Aliko Dangote, who is also leading the Center’s successful capital campaign, described The Africa Center as an important gateway to understanding contemporary and future Africa and Africans.

Expressing appreciation towards the landmark gesture, the Chief Executive Officer of The Africa Center, Dr. Uzodinma Iweala said the Center was proud of the humongous support of the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the Dangote Family, whose vision for the future of the African continent is perfectly aligned with The Africa Center’s mission to advance African policy, business, and culture of the 21st century

He stated “We are profoundly grateful to the Aliko Dangote Foundation, the Mo Ibrahim family, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and all those whose generosity is enabling us to realise our plans to create a vibrant and essential center of ideas and action focused on the 54 nations and people of Africa and its Diaspora.

According to him, since launching its public programming in January 2019, The Africa Center has attracted and engaged thousands of visitors in a series of inaugural performances, installations, talks, readings, book signings, and film screenings.

“The Capital Campaign has received remarkable leadership support from institutions and individuals that recognise the role it has to play in building bridges between cultures in a globalised world village. That support has enabled us to complete the first two public spaces and activate them with programming that has already proven to be compelling and popular among our local community.

“We are building on this momentum by reaching out to additional business leaders and global philanthropists and asking them to invest in The Africa Center’s mission.”

The Cultural Affairs Commissioner, Tom Finkelpearl said “Congratulations to The Africa Center on the announcement of this extraordinary gift from the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the conclusion of another phase of construction, marking the latest milestones for this important addition to NYC’s cultural landscape.”

“The City is pleased to have contributed over $4 million in public capital support for the Center, which is already offering vibrant programming that solidifies NYC’s connections with contemporary Africa and provides a new anchor for Museum Mile at the northern end of Central Park.”

The Africa Center is transforming the world’s understanding of Africa, its Diaspora and the role of people of African descent in the world; serving as the hub for the exchange of ideas around culture, business, and policy related to the continent, and in the spirit of collaboration and engagement with individuals and institutions who share the Center’s values.

The Africa Center inspires enthusiasm, and advances thought and action around Africa’s global influence and impact on the inhabitants’ collective futures. This mission is guided by a leadership team that includes Board President Halima Aliko Dangote, Board Co-Chairs Hadeel Ibrahim and Chelsea Clinton, and CEO Dr. Uzodinma Iweala.

The Africa Center’s physical presence on Fifth Avenue at the intersection of Harlem and the Museum Mile is a location that embodies the dynamism and diversity of Africa and its Diaspora in the heart of New York City. Caples Jefferson Architects (CJA) was engaged in 2016 to design the facility, responding to The Africa Center’s ethos as an experimental, inclusive institution fostering business, policy, and cultural exchange locally and globally.

To serve the Center’s programming, the New York-based firm designed a receptive, flexible, and expansive structure, its Museum Mile location in East Harlem contextualized architecturally and programmatically.

The Africa Center is a platform for sharing new ideas and strategies that challenge the structures and systems that support one-dimensional narratives of the continent, and that inform policies and ultimately affect the lives of African people, those of African descent, and the future of Africa.

The event included a fireside chat with Mr. Dangote, Mr. Gates, and Mo Ibrahim, founder of Mobile Systems International (MSI), Celtel International, Founding Chairman of Satya Capital Limited, and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, about the future of African business.

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Entertainment

TuneCore Launches Operations in Africa, Appoints Two Female Regional Executives

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TuneCore Jade Leaf and Chioma Onuchukwu

TuneCore, the leading digital music distribution and publishing administration company for independent artists, has launched operations in Africa. Jade Leaf has been hired as Head of TuneCore for Southern Africa and will share responsibility for key countries in East Africa with Chioma Onuchukwu, who has been hired as Head of TuneCore for West Africa. Both Leaf and Onuchukwu will report to Faryal Khan-Thompson, Vice President, International, TuneCore.

Onuchukwu will be based in Nigeria and oversee countries in West Africa including Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and The Gambia. She will also look after Tanzania and Ethiopia in East Africa.  Leaf’s territory encompasses Southern Africa, including South Africa, where she will be based, as well as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Lesotho. Leaf will also manage TuneCore operations in East African countries Kenya and Uganda.

Said Onuchukwu, “I am elated to be joining a renowned, independent music distribution powerhouse, especially in an incredible era for music creators in Africa at a time when we are gaining global recognition and increasing momentum. I look forward to collaborating with and supporting local artists.”

Before joining TuneCore, Onuchukwu was Marketing Manager at uduX Music, a music streaming platform in Nigeria. There she worked directly with popular African artists such as Davido, Yemi Alade, Patoranking, Kizz Daniel and more.

Commented Leaf, “I am incredibly excited to join the team in a time where the global conversation is around independence and ownership. TuneCore opens up a world of potential for independent artists at every level of their careers. Africa is home to a diverse range of artists who are seeking a reliable distribution service who understands their local needs and can ultimately give them the opportunity to turn their art into commercial success.”

Previously, Leaf worked at Africa’s largest Pay TV operator, Multichoice as the Marketing Manager for Youth & Music Channels, where she led brand re-imaging and marketing efforts for Music TV giant Channel O. Before that, she worked at Sony Music Entertainment Africa, focusing on African artists and content, as well as numerous marketing campaigns & projects for local and international artists.

There has been a meteoric rise in the uptake of streaming services in Africa, the growth has been attributed to several factors such as an increase in internet penetration via smartphones, the entrance of international and local streaming platforms in key territories and its youth population – More than 60% of African’s are under the age of 25.

In 2020, TuneCore saw an increase in music releases globally, with many African artists opting to use the DIY Distributor – DJ Spinall and Small Doctor in Nigeria, Spoegwolf in South Africa, Mpho Sebina in Botswana and Fena Gitu in Kenya to name a few.

Stated Khan-Thompson, “Africa is an extremely exciting music market with a lot of potential for growth. By hiring Jade and Chioma to lead our efforts, TuneCore is well positioned to maximize opportunities for independent artists across the continent. Both Chioma and Jade bring a wealth of experience and genuine interest in helping artists make their dreams come true. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have two incredible women representing the TuneCore brand in the continent”

TuneCore

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IFC Invest in Liquid Telecom Bond to Support Broadband Connectivity in Africa

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IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, invested in Thursday’s bond issued by a subsidiary of Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd., which will allow the telecoms and technology solutions company to expand access to broadband Internet and digital and cloud services across Africa, further facilitating the growth of the continent’s digital economy.

Proceeds from the bond issued by Liquid Telecommunications Financing PLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liquid Telecommunications Holdings Ltd, will enable the company to refinance existing debt and free up funds to expand its digital infrastructure network across Africa, including in markets with low broadband penetration.

By developing digital infrastructure, Liquid Telecommunications, Africa’s largest independent fiber, data center and cloud technology provider, aims to increase digital connectivity and inclusion in Africa and support the region’s growing digital ecosystem.

IFC played an anchor role and subscribed to 16 percent of the bond, equivalent to $100 million, which was listed on Euronext Dublin, Ireland’s main stock exchange, on February 25, 2021. The issuance raised $620 million.

Internet access in Africa relies largely on mobile networks, many of which are enabled by wholesale connectivity providers such as Liquid Telecommunications. Broadband penetration is low across the continent, with a mobile broadband penetration rate of 34 percent and fixed broadband penetration of less than five percent in most countries across sub-Saharan Africa, excluding South Africa.

“We are delighted that IFC has taken a significant anchor position in our new bond. In the countries in which we operate there are great opportunities to address under developed telecommunications and Internet access, as well as to accelerate the adoption of digital and Cloud-based services. Our refinance enables us to continue to invest in the African digital eco-system including driving penetration of digital and Cloud-based services to businesses who may not previously have had the resources to benefit from them, helping to bridge the connectivity divide, which is more crucial than ever in our current circumstances,” said Nic Rudnick, Liquid Telecom Group Chief Executive Officer.

“Our best chance at ensuring much-needed internet access for everyone in Africa, from large corporates and small businesses to individuals, is to invest in digital infrastructure. Our investment in the Liquid Telecom bond will help the company free up capital to further expand broadband access across Africa, laying a solid foundation for a faster, more resilient recovery,” said Stephanie von Friedeburg, Interim Managing Director and Executive Vice President, and Chief Operating Officer of IFC.

To support Africa’s digital economy, which could be worth $180 billion by 2025, IFC provides financing to mobile network operators, independent tower operators, data centers and broadband connectivity providers. IFC also provides capital to help entrepreneurs and innovative businesses grow and works with financial institutions and telecommunications companies to speed the adoption of digital payments and lending to expand financial inclusion.

Source IFC

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Diaspora investments: A must for the development of Africa

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Image Source: rupixen.com

It has been three years since his Excellency president Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana shared some controversial thoughts on Africa’s dependence on aid or support from Europe in a decades long effort to develop the continent.

He was applauded for his bold statement and stance, but many (especially people from the Ghanaian diaspora) thought they were only words. Words they had heard many times before, but without plans or actions backing them. This might be true from their perspective, yet for the current generation of descendants from those who have been sold into slavery, it was good to hear an African leader show some backbone.

“We can no longer continue to make policy for ourselves, in our country, in our region, in our continent based on whatever support that the western world or France, or the European Union can give us. It will not work. It has not worked, and it will not work”.

The Diaspora Is Linked To The Strength of Africa

President Nana Akufo-Addo’s views on European aid are commendable, even if we debate how much he will be able to back up his words with actions.

“The place of the Diaspora, the status of the people in the diaspora, of the African diaspora, is intimately linked with what happens on the continent. An Africa strong and performing, transforms your position, your status here in Europe”.

He was addressing diaspora members in France, but he could have been addressing all people of African descent worldwide. The fact is that his ability to back his words, not exclusively but to an important extent, is contingent on the support he as an African leader receives from the African diaspora.

Remittance Coming From The African Diaspora

As a member from the African diaspora, one might ask: “Are we not supporting enough?”

Ishmeal Lamptey (Source: unsplash.com)

According to the World Bank Sub Saharan Africa received an estimated 48 billion US dollars in remittance funds from the African diaspora in 2019.

A study by Comstock, Iannone, Bhatia published in March 2009 (yes, the phenomenon has been studied for some time now) shows most funds are spend on costs of sustenance (29%), medical costs (16%) and education (12%).

When looking at the order of precedence these costs take in relation to each other, we see that unforeseen costs come first, second are medical costs and the last are for education. This underlines what we all know. The fact that there is often a sense of emergency to these transfers.

The Need To Move From Remittance To Investment In Africa

So, to answer the question of the diaspora, if it is not doing enough…well no. Harsh isn’t it? The fact of the matter is that the remittance funds are our own version of aid to the continent. It is keeping our people our family from dying but it’s not helping with any development.

We, the African diaspora, need to make the transition from remittance to investment. Remittance will always be part of the financial flows, but when seen in relation with Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) from the diaspora, they shouldn’t dominate as they do at present.

Following the content of a few independent journalists, there is now ample proof that at least some in the diaspora are not only willing, but able to move to the continent and start new businesses. But this group is a very small minority. The vast majority will not be able to follow suit and we should not want them to.

The revenues of the use of their human capital is needed to generate the investment flows Africa needs. The challenge Sub Saharan Africa faces is that of aggregation of available funds originating from the diaspora. The funds are clearly there, the industries which need them for we’ve identified, but now we need to create a robust infrastructure to aggregate and get them to their destination.

Like we pointed out in our previous article about thinking sufficiently big; while we keep our eyes on the end goal, we might need to start building one stone at a time. From individual projects, to industries, to the whole economy.

When doing so, we need to keep in mind that Africa is a unique environment. The common instruments of capital allocation used in the world should certainly be our starting point, but not limit our imagination when pooling the diaspora funds and channeling them into the continent.

As we have admonished a few times now; Africa should think BIG. And that also applies to its diaspora. In the coming articles we will continue exploring the idea of “thinking big” in the African context. So please make sure to subscribe to our Newsletter. We invite you to share your thoughts with us on the matter and get a discussion going with us and our other readers.

Article By: Jerrol Cambiel, Chief Executive EU Operations Debnoch Capital

 

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