Songa Energy executives visit Burundi Government Officials

Songa Energy executives visit Burundi Government Officials

Friday, March 18, 2016. Songa Energy is developing small hydroelectric plants in rural areas of Burundi and has recently completed detailed feasibility studies for hydroelectric plants in Gitega and Bururi Provinces. The first project is about 1MW in size, located on the Ruvyironza River near the intersection of Ryansoro, Buraza and Rutovu Communes. The Government of Burundi has prioritized bringing electricity to this part of Burundi, where there is no electricity provision in the three southern Gitega communes of Ryansoro, Buraza, and Nyarusange. Songa Energy plans to begin construction of this hydroelectric plant on the Ruvyironza River in late 2016.

This week, a key Songa Energy investor visited Burundi, taking the occasion to meet with members of the Burundi Government. Mr. Kenneth Lehman, a banking investor from the United States, joined Mr. Daniel Brose (Songa Energy President and CEO) to visit with the Minister of Energy and Mines – Honorable Côme Manirakiza. “For the past 15 years I have been investing in US banks and currently have controlling interest in five banks. More recently I have begun exploring investments in developing economies - primarily in the banking and energy sectors. The opportunities in the East Africa energy sector are very significant, which is why I and the other Songa Energy investors are keen to invest now and bring our first projects to completion as soon as possible,” said Mr. Lehman. Mr. Lehman is an “angel investor” who invests his own money with a long-term strategy. He is excited to invest in the Burundi energy sector, with the long-term goal to re-invest profits into Burundi and grow the electricity generation capacity of the country.

Songa investors

De Gauche à Droite : M. Nolasque NDAYIHAYE (Directeur Général de l’Energie au Burundi), M. Daniel Brose (Président de Songa Energy), Hon. Côme MANIRAKIZA (Ministre de l’Energie et Mines au Burundi), M. Kenneth Lehman (Investisseur Américain), M. Esaie NTIDENDEREZA (Chef de Service Promotion des Investissements de l’API)

Songa Meeting

 De Gauche à Droite : M. Marc RWABAHUNGU (Secrétaire Général de l’Assemblée Nationale), M. Théogène NKUNZIMANA (Conseiller au Secrétariat Général de l’Assemblée Nationale), M. Daniel Brose (Président de Songa Energy), M. Kenneth Lehman (Investisseur Américain).

Promoting agriculture

PROMOTING AGRICULTURE-CLIMATE-TRADE LINKAGES IN THE EAC COMMUNITY (PACT EAC-2)

 

From February 29 to March 1, 2016 at Kunduchi Beach Hotel & Resort, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania was held an inception meeting aiming at continuing promoting agriculture, climate, trade linkages in the EAC with focus on agro-processing.

Thanks to the funding support provided by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), the event was organised by CUTS International Geneva in partnership with CUTS Nairobi. The two organisations together with national partners in the EAC countries, had implemented the PACT EAC project-1 for the last 4 years in the EAC region as well as in Geneva. The project contributed to the building of knowledge and capacity of relevant EAC stakeholders on the linkages between trade, climate change and food security policies. This was done through a set of organically linked research, advocacy, networking and training activities at the national, regional and multilateral levels. The workshop based its rationale that agricultural sector is the major source of employment and livelihood in the EAC. For a development strategy, Agro-industry links agriculture and manufacturing sectors and can be a potential earner of foreign exchange by supporting EAC’s export-led growth strategies. Also, there is a common understanding that agro-industry through value-addition can lead to economic growth. No more do we view agriculture and industry separately, terming the former as the first stage and the latter as the next higher stage of development. Agro-Industrial Development (AID) and agro-industry (AI) have become crucial instruments to fight poverty.

Groupe photoGroup Photo

The main objective of the inception meeting in Dar-es-Salaam was to present the project plan for stakeholders’ feedback, as well as to assess the current state of play in the EAC regarding coherence and linkages among policies related to agro-processing, climate change, food security and trade, to identify policy and capacity gaps related to these issues. To do so, the specific objectives to achieve were:

  • Presenting the PACT EAC 2 objectives and activities, to be achieved in the next year and during the overall course of the project for stakeholders’ feedback;
  • Assessing the current state of play in the EAC regarding coherence and linkages among policies related to agro-processing, climate change, food security and trade, to identify policy and capacity gaps related to these issues to focus project activities;
  • Assessing the training and research needs of EAC stakeholders;
  • Start building a critical mass of informed stakeholders towards future advocacy work;
  • Providing a networking opportunity to the relevant national, regional and international stakeholders that will be actively participating to this event.

The event registered over sixty participants from various background including attendees stakeholders from the five EAC countries, particularly the representatives from the concerned ministries, EAC Geneva negotiators, EAC UNFCCC negotiators, private sector involved in agro-industry, non-governmental organizations, media, farmers’ organizations, the EAC Secretariat, as well as by the representatives of international organizations, concerned with the topics, such as FAO, UNEP, UNFCCC, and WTO.

The following nine participants represented Burundi:

  1. Godefroid MANIRANKUNDA – ADIR President who also acted as spokesperson, civil society,
  2. Renilde NDAYISHIMIYE – IGEBU Director General and PFN Climate, Ministry of Environment,
  3. Anitha NSHIMIRIMANA – Counselor in agro-industry, Ministry of Trade, Industry & Tourism,
  4. Esaie NTIDENDEREZA – Head of Investment Promotion Division, Burundi Investment Promotion Authority,
  5. Séverin SINDAYIKENGERA – Professor of Agronomy at University of Burundi and Director of Agricultural Technology Institute,
  6. Deogratias BANZIRUMUHITO – Coordinator of AGAKURA Jeunesse Providence; ASBL,
  7. Cynthia MANIRAMBONA – Entrepreneur Women Association (AFAB) ; Representative,
  8. Thérèse MANIRAMBONA – Burundi Mission in Geneva; First Counselor,
  9. Jean Jacques NDAYISENGA – JIA Design.

Burundi DelegationBurundi Delegation

Burundi currently lacks any significant legal framework working towards agricultural industrialization. The country has implemented a Vision 2025 plan, currently supported by the medium-term planning instrument GPRSF II, promoting sustained job-generating growth. This includes clauses on gender equality and environmental consciousness, but lacks any definitive agro-industrial policy.

Over the next four years, the follow up in promoting agriculture-climate and trade linkages led by CUTS International Geneva and CUTS ARC, Nairobi will aim to build the capacity of individuals, networks and institutions to identify and promote appropriate policies for climate-aware, trade- oriented, food security-enhancing agro-value-addition in the EAC region. In this context, it will more specifically aim to improve stakeholders’ knowledge and capacity to identify better policy options, make recommendations and advocate for holistic policies on agro-value-addition vis-à-vis climate change, food security and trade realities. It will also aim to improve negotiators’ capacities for coherent participation in the WTO and UNFCCC on issues related to agro-value-addition and improve stakeholders’ communication and coordination across national, regional and multilateral levels for holistic approaches to agro-value-addition development.

During the next four years, the training of stakeholders in the EAC will be a key instrument to achieve the above objectives. There will be several national and regional on-demand training workshops organized under the project. In this regard, it is recommended that Burundi stakeholders get fully involved as to gain the maximum of the project outcomes. Spearheaded by CUTS Burundi, regular consultation meetings and research sessions should be scheduled to assess the needs and propose appropriate agro-industrialization policies to be put in place. Synergy is a key element between public and private sector stakeholders. The Government and policy makers should be informed through the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Tourism, the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry in charge of Planning.

It is crucial that Burundi advances to being fully participative through demonstrating a great deal of commitment when it comes to the after workshops follow up initiatives.

The PACT EAC 2 inception meeting in Dar-es-Salaam have translated in a good opportunity for Burundi to shine and, overall, gain more visibility within EAC related support programmes and integration issues.

 

AFRICA 2016, Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum has wrapped up.

AFRICA 2016, Business for Africa, Egypt and the World Forum has wrapped up.

“My country is committed to Africa and will spare no efforts to extend and strengthen ties and integration across all African countries in order to help it drive its economic and social development” By Abdel Fattah El Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.

OPENING CEREMONYOpening Ceremony.

20-21 February 2016 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt will be remembered as a great rendez-vous for boosting intra-African business within Africa countries. As one of African proverb inspires, “if you want to go fast, run alone but you will not get far, but if you want to get far go in group”. This is clearly the key address from most of speakers and round table meetings panelists and is conducive to intensifying intra African FDIs: “Let us think big, act big and deliver big”. The message clear and is based on the figures Africa has so far recorded. Over the past few years, African economies have grown at rates averaging 5% per year and are projected to continue to grow. In 2014, Africa’s GDP broke through the $US 2.5 trillion mark and its population stood at a little over 1 billion people. In 2013, in terms of trade, African exports to the world reached nearly $US 600 billion while imports totaled $US 605 billion. It is adamantly believed that greater business impact will follow in the future based on pledges from Government officials, policy makers, financial institutions, corporate organizations and investors who were present to the Forum.

Translating into adding synergy, the AFRICA 2016 Forum has reached another milestone illustrating that the Government of Egypt together with other African countries have been exerting efforts to support and enhance economic, political and cultural integration in the continent, enacting policies to deepen free trade among African countries, upgrade infrastructure and industrial development, and attract foreign investment. This has been demonstrated through various initiatives including series of bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements. The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) that is composed by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is a strategic trade agreement that was launched via the June 2015 Sharm el Sheikh Declaration, creating the largest market space in Africa. It is expected to boost intra-African trade from 12% up to 30%. Among others, as part of the 26 TFTA member countries, equivalent to 670 million consumers, Burundi is set to gain from the TFTA through its continued efforts to improving business climate, attracting investment and promoting export.

During a roundtable meeting called for African Investment Promotion Agencies participating at Africa 2016 Business Forum, H.E. Ashraf SALMAN, the Egyptian Minister of Investment put an emphasis in unleashing intra-African trade potential: “The significant challenge to TFTA is to develop infrastructure so as to boost Economic Development through PPP models implicating using less the Government money. On investment perspective, for a strong, competitive emerging African Economy, it is time to promote and strengthen intra-Africa FDIs within the whole continent. It is crucial to customize and Africanize regulations and trade related rules. It is not about Egypt or South Africa; it is about joining hands and working all together to share opportunities”.

1.	Minister and envoy of Burundi President at Africa 2016 visiting the API boothMinister and envoy of Burundi President at Africa 2016 visiting the API booth

It is worth reminding that Burundi Investment Promotion Authority (API) have been closely working with its Egyptian counterpart, the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) which is an affiliate of the Ministry of Investment and the principal Government body regulating and facilitating investment in Egypt. Through various promotional programs, API have benefitted much from technical support and trainings organized by GAFI through COMESA Regional Investment Agency headquartered in Cairo, with a clear mandate of promoting the whole region as an attractive investment destination.