The Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to Tanzania, Mrs Regine Hess, today presented her letter of credence to the Secretary General of the EAC Secretariat, Amb. Libérat Mfumukeko, to be accredited as the new German Ambassador to the EAC.
Mrs Hess had previously held diplomatic positions in the EAC Partner States of Uganda and Kenya and was accredited to the United Republic of Tanzania on 14th January, 2020. She is the first female German Ambassador to be accredited to the EAC.
The EAC and Germany have enjoyed long-standing and close relations, their joint development cooperation going back two decades. Commitments from the German Government to the EAC have to date mounted to over EUR 470 mill. (approximately US$508 million). The joint cooperation focuses on the areas of economic and social integration as well a health.
Receiving the German Ambassador, EAC Secretary General Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko hailed the strong relations between the Community and Germany noting that Germany had provided generous technical and financial support to the EAC for decades.
‘’We have truly benefited from the German support which has catalyzed other Development Partners to support our projects and programmes,“ said the Secretary General.
Amb. Mfumukeko informed the Germany Ambassodor of the significant progress made by the EAC in the four pillars of integration namely the Customs Union, Common Market, Monetary Union and Political Federation, adding that the Community had made great strides in the four pillars due to political goodwill by the leaders of the Partner States.
On her part, the German Ambassador emphasized the importance of Germany’s support to the EAC Secretariat:
“Germany is a staunch believer in regional integration. We are convinced that further regional integration amongst the six EAC Partner States will be of great socio-economic and political benefit. The German Government remains committed in supporting the EAC Secretariat in the future,” said Mrs Hess.
Also in attendance at the meeting were the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Eng. Steven Mlote, and EAC Principal Internatinal Relations Officer, Ms Suma Mwakyusa. Accompanying the German envoy was Ms. Norzin Grigoleit-Dagyab, First Secretary and Head of Regional Cooperation (EAC) at the German Embassy in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Why FG is investing massively in railways, seaports — Amaechi
The Federal Government’s focus on railway and seaport development is a necessity to drive the nation’s economy, according to the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi.
Amaechi stated this at the virtual 15th Annual Kaleidoscope Global Business Conference hosted by the Consulate General of Nigeria in New York on Sunday.
“Many Nigerians have asked why the construction of railways.
“Eighty per cent of the cargoes we have in Nigeria are mostly imported, because the Nigerian economy is yet to generate enough production.
“However, the president is of the view that if we must produce, we must have infrastructure that enables that production, hence the focus on transportation, power and works,” he said.
The minister said although the railway project had started before the President Muhammadu Buhari, the nation’s seaports were not included in the design.
He stated that one of the first things the administration did was to rework the plan to link the rail network to seaports across the country.
“So, we started with the Apapa seaport. We are working there now and I believe by December, we should conclude the Lagos-Ibadan rail line extension into the port.
“We then added the Warri Seaport, the Calabar seaport and Tin Can Island. We are making sure that all of them include seaports,” Amaechi said.
According to him, contract for the 386km rail line from Kano to Maradi in the Republic of Niger will be awarded on Wednesday.
He added contract award for the 1,500km eastern rail line from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri would follow on Sept. 30.
The minister highlighted other rail line projects in the country, including Abuja to Itakpe, and Itakpe to Warri, which he said had been completed
He said the Warri line would also be extended to the Warri seaport being developed by the federal government.
Amaechi also highlighted the government’s seaport digitalisation programme, which he said would be completed in 2021.
Mr Gurjit Singh, former Indian Ambassador to Germany, Indonesia and the African, described Nigeria as the giant of Africa.
Singh, who is the Chairman of the CII Task Force on Asia-Africa Growth Corridor, said the Nigerian rail sector had the potential to drive the nation’s development as was the case in India.
He urged Nigeria to take advantage of the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor initiative to access public private partnership funding for its infrastructure projects.
Organised by United States-based Kaleidoscope Business Project, the event brought together Nigerian state governors, ministers, business executives and prospective foreign investors.
The participants included Gov. Simon Lalong of Plateau, Douye Diri of Bayelsa, Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta, Samuel Ortom of Benue and AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq of Kwara,
The Minister of Communication and Digital Economy, Mr Isa Pantami, and the Minister of State for of Mines and Steel Development, Mr Uchechukwu Ogah, also participated.
They took turns to highlight the investment opportunities that abound in their respective states and sectors in addition to the invest facilitation and security measures in place.
Welcoming the participants, the Consul General of Nigeria in New York, Mr Benaoyagha Okoyen, said the conference was part of the government’s efforts to open more windows of business opportunities in Nigeria to the world.
“With the opportunities that abound in Nigeria, this Conference aims at identifying those investors that are able, willing and committed to long term direct investment into the Nigerian economy.
“And it goes without saying that those from the Nigerian side are as desirous to meet investors in order to establish mutually beneficial relationships.
“Let me emphasise the need for us to jointly work together to enhance NIgeria economic growth and industrialization on our shared values and sound principles of mutually beneficial partnership and on a win-win business matrix,” Okoyen said.
Edited By: Felix Ajide
Nigeria, EU envoys meet to resolve access to airspace, travel ban
The Federal Government and envoys of the European Union (EU) on Friday in Abuja met to resolve the issue of access to airspace following the ban on some airlines by the Nigerian government.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the meeting is coming after the Federal Government opened its airspace on September 5.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the closed door meeting, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, said the meeting was at the instance of the EU envoys.
Onyeama said that the meeting also discussed the issue of access to the European space of passengers coming from Nigeria, stating that the Nigerian side was very keen on knowing what exactly applied to Nigerians.
He further said there was obviously some misinformation which made the situation altogether not very clear.
“We understand that this has created some concerns and tensions, so we are here to listen to each other, diplomatically and politely.
“And in a friendly manner to try and see how we can begin to resolve outstanding issues of concern on either side.
“So, what we have asked the European side, to let us have, is the detailed information on Nigerians that can access European space from Nigeria.
“So, which category of Nigerians can in this present time and with the release and restrictions announced by the EU are affected? Who are the people considered on essential travel?
“And what chances does an average Nigerian have to visit a European country from here?
“So, to give us that information so that every Nigerian will be in a position to know whether they can access the European space irrespective of the fact whether they have a visa or no visa.
“There are a lot of Nigerians who have long-term visas, two-year Schengen visa and so forth and clearly, not all of them are able or have to write now as it stand, to enter Europe. So, we want to have that information,”Onyeama stated.
Onyeama also said that the Nigerian side decided and pointed out that just as the EU reviews its policies every two weeks, the Nigerian Government is also doing same and also look into the policies during PTF meetings.
Ambassador Ketil Karlsen, Head of the EU Delegation to Nigeria, said the availability of flights from Europe to Nigeria was very essential due to the ongoing collaboration between the EU and Nigeria.
Karlsen also said the EU appealed to its partners on the Nigerian side to reconsider the possibility of having again, some of the larger air carriers from Europe, flying with Nigeria.
He added that Nigeria was never picked out, even as he said there was never a ban against flights coming from Nigeria to Europe.
“Nigeria was never picked out, there was never a ban against flights coming from Nigeria to Europe, there was never, as I see it, a retaliation or reciprocity at play here.
“Merely, what Europe has done is exactly the same that Nigeria has done namely, looking at very carefully, what essential groups of people should come in a time of crisis.
“And how can we provide protocols to handle that in terms of testing and isolation, if needed,”Karlsen said.
In his remarks, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, said Europe is the strongest partner of Nigeria as far as the aviation sector is concerned.
Sirika said that whatever was done was not targeted at the EU and was subject to review.
NAN reports that in attendance from the Nigerian side were the Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State, Health, Senator Olurunnimbe Mamora; the National Coordinator of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, Dr Sani Aliyu.
The EU delegation included the Ambassadors of Germany, Netherlands, and France.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Wale Ojetimi
WTO leadership race: Okonjo-Iweala, 4 others advance to second round of election
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Nigeria’s candidate aspiring to the position of Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) has won the first run of elections and has àlong with four others advanced to the second phase..
The other contestants, who are from Kenya, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, and the UK, on Friday advanced to the next round of voting after six days of confidential consultation with members.
Amb. David Walker, Chair of the WTO General Council in a briefing on the outcome of the election told the Head of Delegation meeting that the entire organisation’s membership was committed and fully engaged in the consultation process.
“Throughout the six days of consultations it was clear to us that the entire membership is both committed to and fully engaged in this process.
“Members consider all the candidates highly qualified and respected individuals.
“I would also like to pay tribute to the dignified manner in which they, their delegations, and their governments have conducted themselves in this process.
“Their willingness to engage, especially at these challenging times, has been greatly appreciated, and the organisation is in their debt,” Walker said.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that during the consultations, Walker alongside his co-facilitators in the election process, posed to each delegation one question: “What are your preferences?”
Members then submitted four preferences to the “troika” of ambassadors.
The facilitators are Amb. Dacio Castillo, Chair of the Dispute Settlement Body, and Amb. Harald Aspelund, chair of the Trade Policy Review Body.
The consultation process taken by facilitators has been set by guidelines established by the General Council in a 2002 decision.
Based on the guidelines, the key consideration in determining which candidate is best poised to achieve consensus is the “breadth of support” each candidate receives from the members.
Walker said that the second phase of the consultations would begin on Sept. 24 and end on Oct. 6.
“During this time, members will be asked in the confidential consultations to express two preferences.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim
Sweden’s statements on Navalny potentially breaching chemical weapons convention – Lavrov
Sweden’s vouching for that Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny had been poisoned with Novichok following its earlier claim of never having dealt with this toxin before is potentially violating the Chemical Weapons Convention, an official said.
The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said this on Friday.
Sweden denied having any experience with Novichok after Russia retrieved open sources showing that this military-grade nerve agent was being developed in several Western countries in Europe and beyond.
This took place in 2018 after the EU and several of its individual member states accused Moscow of being behind the poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in the UK town of Salisbury.
“There are dozens of patents for the military use of substances of this group. We listed Sweden among the countries where such works were being carried out.
“As you now know, they told us two years ago ‘Don’t you dare mention us on this list as we have never carried out any Novichok-related activities,’” Lavrov said.
Germany, where Navalny was transported for treatment in 2019 and where doctors suggested he could have been poisoned with Novichok, asked France and Sweden to confirm the results of his lab tests.
“And they [Sweden] came up with an official confirmation of the results of the Bundeswehr lab that it was Novichok.
“But if mere two years ago Sweden had no expertise to determine whether or not it was Novichok and now two years later it has such expertise then something must have changed.
“And if what changed has enabled Sweden to acquire competency in detecting the Novichok substances, perhaps, it should be reviewed as a potential grave violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention,” Lavrov added.
On Aug. 20, Navalny was urgently hospitalised in the Russian Siberian city of Omsk after suffering an acute health condition during a domestic flight.
As lab tests found no traces of poisonous substances in the man’s system, Russian doctors opined the deterioration could have been caused by an abrupt drop of glucose in his blood due to metabolic disbalance.
Navalny was transported to Germany’s Berlin-based Charite clinic two days later.
It was not until Sept. 2 that German medics claimed Navalny’s samples contained traces of a Novichok group substance.
The German government claimed it got a confirmation of the diagnosis from France and Sweden and submitted the case materials to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).
Berlin refused to make the materials available to Moscow, citing Russia’s membership in the organisation, in spite the requests from Russian investigators, who launched a probe immediately after Navalny’s hospitalization in Omsk.
On Sept. 7, Navalny was reanimated from his medically-induced coma and separated from a ventilator.
Edited By: Fatima Sule/Ali Baba-Inuwa