President Muhammadu Buhari has called for more neighborliness and mutual understanding between African states in order to enhance trade, security and promote development of the continent.
The President, represented by the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, at the inauguration ceremony of the Nigeria/Cameroon Joint Border Post and Bridge at Mfum Cross River State, said the 1.5km project would enhance the interconnectivity of “our people and communities, improve living standards, reduce barriers to inter-regional trade and strengthen border security.’’
“It is with great sense of satisfaction that we are witnessing the official Joint inauguration of the Mfum/Ekok 1.5km Bridge and Joint Border Post (JBP).
“Let me begin with commending the Leaderships of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the Government of the Republic of Cameroon that worked closely to realize this project, as well as the African Development Bank (ADB) that provided funding for the execution and completion of this 1.5km Joint Border Project,’’ he said.
President Buhari noted that the project would deepen the inextricably linked cultural and traditional fraternal bonds that already exist between Nigerians and Cameroonians living around the border communities.
“Let me also underscore that in order to maximise the benefits of these projects, the Nigerian and Cameroonian officials that would be saddled with the responsibility of manning the Joint Border Post, in particular, must act in the most professional manner, as well as in line with the global best practices, effective from today,’’ he stated.
President Buhari affirmed that the completion of the project had made both Nigerians and Cameroonians living around the area jubilant.
“Such excitement symbolises the resolve of our People and Governments to remain connected in spite of our seemingly artificial boundaries.
“The completion and commissioning of this project could not have come at a more auspicious time than when Nigeria has signed and ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.
Therefore, we expect that the commissioning of this Joint Border Bridge and Post will not only strengthen the existing cordial relations between Nigeria and Cameroon, but also enhance cooperation between the ECOWAS and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
“Under the AfCFTA, this project has the potential to enhancing the volume of economic activities in our regions, and facilitate the free movement of persons, goods and services within the countries, along the corridor.
It would also serve as a vital link between the West and the Central African regions.
”The Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also expects that this Joint Border Post and Bridge will enhance security patrol and facilitate effective cooperation in this part of our border with the Republic of Cameroon. While expressing our confidence that this project would accomplish the set targets, it is also our hope that it would complement the current efforts of the Governments of Nigeria and Cameroon to combat the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism in our region.
“This is important because the activities of violent extremists have continued to present major challenges to the development of our countries and regions,’’ he said.
The President said the menace of insecurity had continued to threaten economies, impede the maximisation of the strategic potentials of our countries and cause political upheavals and menace in the sub-regions.
“Hence, it is our hope that the commissioning of this project will accelerate the efforts of our gallant security personnel who are already doing very well in securing our territories.
“We also pray that this project would enhance the interconnectivity of our people and communities, improve living standards, reduce barriers to inter-regional trade and strengthen border security. We are certain that these projects will deepen the inextricably linked cultural and traditional fraternal bonds that already exist between Nigerians and Cameroonians living around the border communities,’’ the President stated.
He noted that the project, which was part of the on-going Nigeria/Cameroon Multinational Highway and Transport Facilitation Programme (NCMH&TFP), would remain a visible testament to the continuing cooperation and good neighbourliness between both countries, and Regional Economic Communities.
“This bridge, and Joint Border Post, are proofs that when African countries work with African Institutions, outstanding and people-centred cross-regional developmental projects can be achieved in record time,’’ he said.
The President thanked all the Institutions and Agencies that made the project possible.
“I recall in this regard, that the Government of the Republic of Cameroon cooperated with us in granting joint waiver to the Expatriates that were employed by the construction company that handled the project, despite the global COVID-19 lockdown. The cooperation and support of H.E. President Paul Biya, as well as the Government and people of Cameroon, ensured that this project was completed on schedule.
“Let me also extend the gratitude of the Government and people of Nigeria to the African Development Bank for the role it played in financing these projects. Under the leadership of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the Bank has become, by all standards, a reliable beacon of support in all matters relating to Africa’s development. Indeed, we are very proud of the performance of the current Management of our continental Bank which has confirmed that we truly have African solutions to African problems ».
“Let me also commend the leadership and staff of the ECOWAS and ECCAS for their untiring efforts in ensuring the timely completion of this project. It is necessary to underscore that visible projects such as these, as well as other critical and life changing infrastructure are the type of projects that the citizens of our sub-region have been yearning to see. It is the hope that under the leadership of Dr. Omar Alieu Touray, ECOWAS will continue to deliver on the expectations of our citizens.
“Finally, let me conclude by extending our deepest appreciation to the contractors, CGCOC, that have shown uncommon commitment to the execution and delivery of this high quality project, within a reasonable period. To all of you who have contributed in one way or the other to this epoch–making and memorable occasion, I convey my warm appreciation,’’ President Buhari said.
The Minster of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the value of the new bridge transcended connection between Nigeria and Cameroon, boosting the larger effort of connecting Africa.
He said efforts would be sustained to improve networking among Africans, which ECOWAS and the African Union had been pursuing over many years, with earlier plans dating back to 1969.
Fashola said consistency in building roads and bridges would improve relations among Africa countries, where people can drive from Lagos to Mombasa.
The Cameroonian Minister of Public Works, Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi, who represented President Paul Biya, appreciated the contributions of various stakeholders to the project, assuring that the Nigeria/Cameroon relations will explore more possibilities for partnership.
Ethiopia defaults on $33 Million bond payment
Ethiopia officially entered default territory on Tuesday, becoming Africa’s third nation to do so within a span of three years. The failure to make a $33 million « coupon » payment on its sole international government bond underscores the country’s severe financial challenges exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and a recently concluded two-year civil war in November 2022.
Ethiopia had previously announced its intention to formally default earlier this month. The payment, originally due on December 11, had a technical grace period extending until Tuesday, thanks to a 14-day clause in the $1 billion bond agreement.
Sources familiar with the situation reported that, as of the close of business on Friday, December 22, the last international banking working day before the grace period ended, bondholders had not received the expected coupon payment. Despite requests for comments, Ethiopian government officials remained silent on Friday and throughout the weekend.
This anticipated default aligns Ethiopia with two other African nations, Zambia and Ghana, which are currently undergoing a comprehensive restructuring process under the « Common Framework. »
Ethiopia initially sought debt relief under the G20-led initiative in early 2021. The civil war delayed progress, but in November, facing depleted foreign exchange reserves and surging inflation, Ethiopia’s official sector government creditors, including China, agreed to a debt service suspension deal.
Parallel negotiations with pension funds and other private sector creditors, who hold Ethiopia’s bond, collapsed on December 8. Subsequently, credit ratings agency S&P Global downgraded the bond to « Default » on December 15, based on the assumption that the coupon payment would not be fulfilled. The default places Ethiopia in a challenging economic position, requiring strategic measures to address its financial instability and navigate the complexities of debt restructuring.
TotalEnergies ready to invest $6 billion in Nigeria
French energy giant TotalEnergies is ready to invest $6 billion (around €5.5 billion) over several years in Nigeria’s energy industry, particularly in gas and offshore projects, the Nigerian presidency has said.
« We are ready to invest $6 billion over the next few years. We are looking in depth at more opportunities for deepwater and gas production, » said TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné, according to a presidential statement.
On Monday, Head of State Bola Ahmed Tinubu held talks with Mr Pouyanné in Abuja, the capital.
« Everything is in place. We just need to finalise the adjustments and changes needed to unlock the exceptional potential in oil and gas », continued Mr Pouyanné, according to the Presidency.
Nigeria is « very important » for TotalEnergies, which accounts for between 8% and 10% of the group’s total oil production, according to the CEO quoted in the press release.
For his part, the Nigerian president pledged to « remove all obstacles in the oil and gas industry ». « We are ready to work with you », he said.
The oil and gas major indicated that it « has a substantial portfolio of projects that could represent 6 billion dollars of investment over the next few years ».
Ten days ago, the Nigerian president’s office announced similar commitments from British oil and gas giant Shell, for USD 6 billion in offshore, natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects.
Since his inauguration at the end of May, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has taken a series of economic measures aimed at attracting more foreign investment to this oil-producing country and member of OPEC.
A law, the Petroleum Industry Bill, adopted in 2021 after years of debate and delays, was already aimed at attracting more foreign investment in the oil sector through changes to regulations, royalties and taxes.
Nigeria has seen its oil production decline in recent years due to widespread pipeline theft, attacks, high operating costs and red tape, which have deterred investors.
Nigeria, Cameroon missing in top 10 best international airports in Africa
Africa is emerging as a preferred global destination for travellers, driven by a thriving tourism and business sector. The continent’s aviation landscape is now a formidable force, fostering crucial connections between Africa and the global community.
Recently, Skytrax, a renowned international airline assessment organization, revealed its 2023 report on the Best Airports in Africa. South Africa dominated the regional ranking, with additional entries from Kenya, Morocco, Rwanda, and Mauritius.
1. Cape Town International Airport, South Africa
This is a premier international hub with modern infrastructure and a commitment to eco-friendly practices. The airport hosts 4.13 passengers per 10 square meters daily, catering to a discerning crowd.
2. King Shaka International Airport, South Africa
Located in Durban, it stands as a beacon of excellence among Africa’s best international airports. The terminal, covering 102,000 m2, can handle 7.5 million passengers annually.
3. Johannesburg International Airport, South Africa
Serving as the primary hub for domestic and international travel in South Africa. Since 2020, Africa’s fifth busiest airport with a capacity for 28 million passengers per year.
4. Casablanca International Airport, Morocco
Handled about 7.6 million passengers in 2022, ranking among the top 10 busiest airports in Africa. A hub for Royal Air Maroc, Royal Air Maroc Express, and Air Arabia Maroc.
5. Mauritius International Airport
A strategic gateway with direct flights to Africa, Asia, Australia, and Europe. Renowned for its commitment to passenger satisfaction and prime location.
6. Marrakech International Airport, Morocco
An international facility connecting Europe, the Arab world, and soon North America. Terminals designed to handle 2,500,000 passengers annually.
7. Addis Ababa International Airport, Ethiopia
Formerly Haile Selassie I International Airport, it’s the main hub for Ethiopian Airlines. Links Ethiopia and Africa to Asia, Europe, North America, and South America.
8. Kigali International Airport, Rwanda
Serving Kigali and playing a vital role in connecting Congolese, Burundian, and Ugandan cities. The terminal accommodates 1.5 million passengers annually.
9. Nairobi International Airport, Kenya
A key connection point to East African destinations, quadrupling its capacity to host 26.5 million passengers yearly.
10. Bloemfontein International Airport, South Africa
Formerly Bloemfontein International Airport, now Bram Fischer International Airport. An economic hub hosting over 300,000 passengers and 17,000 air traffic movements annually.