Connect with us

Africa

After AFCON glory, Senegal ushers in world-class stadium

Published

on

Thousands of Senegalese gathered on Tuesday for the inauguration of a 50,000-seater stadium aimed at making the country Africa’s go-to venue for international events.

The stadium is in Diamniadio, a town being built about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from the capital Dakar, for which an express train link opened in December.

The venue, to be named in honour of former president Abdoulaye Wade, will be the only one in Senegal certified for international football.

Current President Macky Sall said during an inauguration ceremony that the naming of the stadium was a “tribute to the multidimensional, intellectual, pan-Africanist politician”.

“This beautiful infrastructure — dedicated to young people — is an invitation to continue our path towards excellence,” Sall said.

The country’s last major stadium, Lat Dior, in the region of Thies 70 kilometres from Dakar, lost its certification from the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in May last year.

Jubilant crowds came by bus and train for the inauguration, which follows Senegal’s dramatic victory at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on February 6.

The new stadium was built in just 18 months by Turkey’s Summa construction company, at a cost of 156 billion CFA francs ($270 million, 238 million euros).

Sall, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and FIFA boss Gianni Infantino were among the VIPs scheduled to attend Tuesday’s inauguration.

African Soccer Updates on Twitter: "Senegalese President Macky Sall has  unveiled a model of new stadium set to be built in Senegal, Dakar. The 50  00 seater stadium will come with a

Am exhibition match will be part of the show, with Senegalese legends such as Aliou Cisse — the current coach of the national side — opposing a team of African all-stars, including Cameroon’s Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba of Ivory Coast

“It’s a source of pride to have a stadium as beautiful as this Senegal. The country needed it to restore its footballing image,” said one fan, Bamba Dieng, 24.

“I’ve never seen such a great stadium. I hope it will be properly maintained so that it lasts for a very long time,” said Ibou Ngom, 29.

Mbaye Jacques Diop, a communications advisory at the ministry of sports, said the project was part of a programme to make Dakar a “sporting hub” for Africa.

It would mean an end to matches transferred to Asia because the continent lacked infrastructure, he said.

The first big competitive match will be on March 29.

Senegal, who beat Egypt for to take the African title, meet the Pharaohs again in a World Cup qualifier.

Senegal has launched a programme to refurbish its stadiums before Dakar hosts of the Summer Youth Olympics in 2026.

The country’s biggest sporting venue is the 60,000-capacity Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium built in Dakar in 1985.

Texas Guardian News

Africa

OMG: Chinese firm to hand over new US$140m parliament building as a gift to Zimbabwe

Published

on

China is preparing to hand over a new US$140 million parliament building as a gift to Zimbabwe – the latest in a series of grand projects across Africa designed to deepen its influence in the continent, where it is the largest trading partner and lender.

The site at Mount Hampden, about 18km (11 miles) northwest of the capital Harare, heralds the start of a new city.

The 650-seat building will replace the current 100-seat, colonial-era building which Zimbabwean officials consider too small for the country’s 350 legislators.

Do you have questions about the biggest topics and trends from around the world? Get the answers with SCMP Knowledge, our new platform of curated content with explainers, FAQs, analyses and infographics brought to you by our award-winning team.

Sitting on the top of a hill, the imposing circular complex, which has been built by China’s Shanghai Construction Group, is fully paid for by Beijing.

The contractors said the facility was now ready to be handed over, 3½ years after construction started on a project that employed more than 500 Chinese technicians and 1,200 local workers.

“There is no doubt that the new parliament will become a landmark building in Zimbabwe and even in the whole of Southern Africa,” Shanghai Construction Group manager Libo Cai said on Wednesday.

Work on the new parliament has been completed. Photo: Xinhua alt=Work on the new parliament has been completed. Photo: Xinhua>

“It will be yet another milestone for the China-Zimbabwe friendship which keeps getting stronger year after year.”

The building covers a total area of 33,000 square metres (355,200 sq ft) and has two main buildings – a six-storey office building and a four-storey parliament building.

Cai said the building was fully funded by the Chinese government.

To ease congestion in the crowded capital, Zimbabwe plans to relocate the judiciary and executive branches, and some of its administrative units, to the site. A statehouse and official residences for the House speaker and Senate president will also be built there.

The new city will eventually become home to the country’s reserve bank, upmarket suburbs, hotels and shopping malls.

The Chinese embassy in Zimbabwe said in a tweet that “thanks to the hardworking of the Chinese and Zimbabwean technicians, it [the parliament] is expected to trigger more mega projects in the Mount Hampden area and boost the development of a new satellite city”.

It is the latest in a series of similar Chinese-funded projects across the continent, where Beijing has also paid for the construction of palaces, sports stadiums and conference centres as part of a decades-old diplomatic strategy.

When Beijing first started establishing diplomatic relations with Africa between the 1950s and 1970s, it offered financial help and interest-free loans and sent over medical teams.

In return, those nations helped Beijing secure the Chinese seat on the United Nations Security Council in 1971, which had been occupied by the Republic of China government that fled to Taiwan in 1949.

Other recent projects include the Kenneth Kaunda International Conference Centre, which China Jiangsu International Economic and Technical Cooperation Group handed over to the Zambian authorities in late May.

The centre, named after the country’s first president, is expected to host the upcoming African Union midyear summit and was described by President Hakainde Hichilema as “a symbol of the unshakeable friendship between Zambia and the People’s Republic of China”.

China has also opened a new conference centre in Zambia. Photo: Xinhua alt=China has also opened a new conference centre in Zambia. Photo: Xinhua>

 

In Ethiopia, work on the US$80 million Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters is also nearing completion. The country also plays host to the ultra-modern US$200 million African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, funded and built by China as a “gift to the African people”.

Research by Paul Nantulya, from the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies at Washington’s National Defence University, has calculated that China constructed or renovated 186 government buildings in at least 40 African countries between 2000 and 2018.

Nantulya has previously described China as playing the long game, saying in February: “Its presence is felt each time an African walks into any of those buildings. China is creating a portrait of itself as an enduring partner that remains present and stands in solidarity with African governments.”

David Shinn, a professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and a former US ambassador to Ethiopia, said building diplomacy had long been an important part of China’s foreign policy, but it had increased in significance in recent years.

He said most of the construction projects were funded by loans but others had been gifts. Aside from the new Zimbabwe parliament and the AU headquarters, the latter also includes Kenya’s foreign ministry and Burundi’s presidential palace.

“This allows China to have considerable influence with the officials who benefit from the facilities,” Shinn said.

But, he said: “Chinese companies usually install all of the communications equipment. This raises potential security issues for the African recipients.”

In one major controversy in 2018, Beijing was accused of bugging the AU headquarters.

The French newspaper Le Monde, citing anonymous AU sources, said that for five years, data had been transferred nightly from computers in the building to Chinese servers and hidden microphones had also been found.

Beijing rejected the accusations as “preposterous” and baseless.

Stephen Chan, professor of politics and international relations at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, said all the parliament buildings were of similar design and reflected the Chinese model of a circular central chamber.

The circular chamber in Zimbabwe’s new parliament is a design replicated across the continent without input from local architects. Photo: Xinhua alt=The circular chamber in Zimbabwe’s new parliament is a design replicated across the continent without input from local architects. Photo: Xinhua>

 

“In other words, the symbolism of government and opposition directly facing each other is sidestepped,” Chan said.

Likewise, he said airports were of the same design but those were tied to loans and were not gifts.

“So the two practices, of building diplomacy as gifts and the lending of money, have been in use side by side for some time and will continue to be separate practices,” he said.

“What building diplomacy neglects, however, is the use of African architects and African architectural imagination. It cancels self-reliance not only in building for oneself but self-expression in the imagination of Africa’s best architects.”

.

This article originally appeared in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), the most authoritative voice reporting on China and Asia for more than a century. For more SCMP stories, please explore the SCMP app or visit the SCMP’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Copyright © 2022 South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Culled from the South China Morning Post  

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

Africa

Venture studio Adanian Labs fuels startup growth in Africa

Published

on

In February 2020, as the world was shutting down, and as businesses downsized on account of the COVID pandemic, John Kamara was busy establishing another new startup, Adanian Labs, in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. It had taken him two years to finally make this dream a reality, and nothing — not even the pandemic — was going to derail him.

And so, swimming against the tides, he set up the venture studio in partnership with co-founders Irene Kiwia and Bendon Murgor.

“People thought we were crazy,” Kamara, who doubles up as Adanian Labs’ CEO, told TechCrunch.

It may have been a tough period to build a business, but they sailed through with their mission.

“We stay the course with startups and make sure they become successful businesses — we de-risk them from failure,” said Kiwia.

How Adanian Labs started

The idea to build Adanian Labs was conceived in 2018, when Kamara was living and working in Cape Town, South Africa, where he witnessed the fast growth of the startup ecosystem, and how, in most countries, accelerators were the default launch pads. He thought the continent was ready for better support, beyond the mentorship and training that most accelerators offered.

“The startup ecosystem was growing but I could not fail to notice the problem of accelerators. You know, startups come out of accelerators and most of them do not have a real opportunity to go to the next level,” said Kamara.

“I thought, there has to be a way I can build something that could empower African founders and provide a better support infrastructure to startups…and in a way retrofit it to also build a business.”

Compelled to offer more value to startups, the co-founders launched Adanian Labs in Kenya, joining other players, like Nailab, in the space.

Adanian Labs targets idea-phase tech startups, offering them all-round support, including capital, advisory and operational backing, building them from the ground up.

It makes equity investment of up to $120,000 in these startups.

By the end of the one-year venture building program, the startups should have launched a product, onboarded and have repeat customers, have a defined revenue model and have raised or are in the process of closing seed funding.

“We help these startups build their teams, iterate where needed, until we find a market fit product,” said Kamara.

“I’m not delusional that every startup has to succeed, but from the moment they become part of the Adanian Labs it means that they have the potential to succeed,” he said.

Venture studio Adanian Labs is accelerating the growth of startups in Africa

A team is captured brainstorming. Adanian Labs plans to help build 300 startups over the next five years. Image Credits: Adanian Labs

Africa-wide Growth

In a period of two years, Adanian Labs has grown beyond Kenya, by establishing a presence in Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and Nigeria — some of the biggest startup and tech hubs in Africa.

It is eyeing a pan-African presence by 2025 as it races to help build 300 companies over the next five years. In the interim, the lab is planning on establishing a presence in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Senegal and Ivory Coast, and considering a franchise model to help it fast-track its growth.

Having an Africa-wide reach means that startups under Adanian Labs are able to scale in other markets easily as they tap the venture studio’s existing infrastructure as a launchpad.

“Our presence in multiple countries means that our startups can launch in a second country or even five countries without thinking too hard about it. This means we are focusing on innovations that are applicable across all markets. Not just one,” said Kiwia.

“The speed at which our startups are able to scale to these markets is like 10 times because we have a presence, have local partners and we understand the terrain and the legal aspect of setting up,” said Kiwia.

Joy Mwangi, co-founder of Ada animation, a startup in the first cohort, confirmed this to TechCrunch, saying the lab’s wide network has also enabled them to tap talent from other major animation markets in the continent like South Africa and Nigeria.

While Adanian Labs takes in idea-stage startups, they also help investor-ready startups, with scalable products, fundraise. The venture studio is planning on building a fund that will target startups in the growth stage.

“We have encountered startups that are not young for us to incubate, they are doing very well but would never get the attention of VCs because they lack that visibility that we are bringing to these startups. So, we have a short program to help them raise,” said Kamara.

The venture studio is currently incubating its second cohort of 20 startups drawn from the five countries. The group succeeds the first cohort of 12 startups, which included eCoBbaPaylend and AfyaRekod, all three co-founded by Adanian Labs founders.

The eCoBba is a platform co-founded by Kiwia to digitize savings groups, tapping their data to extend their range of financial services. Paylend, which was co-founded by Murgor, helps small and medium businesses access credit, while AfyaRekod, co-founded by Kamara, is a patient-driven health tech startup that ensures patient data mobility. All these startups have raised on average $2 million each in seed funding over the last few months.

AI and Blockchain

Beyond the venture studio, the lab is allied to the Artificial Intelligence Center for Excellence (AICE) and Africa Blockchain Center (ABC), headed by Natasha Ochiel and Jeff Mkungusi respectively, which are independent training and consulting businesses. The AICE has trained 100 data scientists and AI engineers, while the ABC, which is backed by Asia-based blockchain and consultancy business Next Chymia Consulting, has skilled a similar number of blockchain engineers so far.

Adanian Labs said such investments ensure that there are enough skilled persons to build the next-generation startups.

“We’ve lost engineers to bigger companies. And we feel that we have a bigger responsibility to keep training the techies to keep up with the demand. And so, at Adanian Labs, we are not only building startups, we are building the next generation of African tech experts,” said Murgor, also head of the labs tech team.

Tech skills gap in Africa has become a thorny issue as multinationals like Visa, Microsoft, Google and East Africa’s biggest telco Safaricom snap up the few talents available in the market, forcing entities like Adanian Labs to come up with ways of bridging the gap. Besides, as multinationals look to Africa for tech talent, it has become important to increase the digital and tech skills locally.

“Many companies in Africa and beyond outsource the AI and blockchain expertise from India. And we want to change that, and that explains why our capacity building component is so critical, because that’s a lot of lost value. Also, for us to build 300 companies, we need the capacity to be local. The world is also shifting towards Africa, and we are preparing young people on the continent to be able to work in the tech space of the future,” said Kiwia.

And they seem to be living up to their promises as Adanian partnered with U.S. tech multinational Nvidia last year to collaborate on projects and train 4,000 AI engineers (through AICE) in Africa over the next few years.

Adanian Labs also recently partnered with LBank, a cryptocurrency exchange, to build a community of crypto and blockchain developers in Africa. Through ABC they will also run a crypto accelerator to help build next generation startups in the continent.

The venture studio, which is raising its Series A funding, also counts itself as one of the first partners of Emurgo Africa, also one of its first investors. Emurgo Africa is an arm of Emurgo, the official commercial division of the Cardano blockchain that is pushing to have “Cardano’s blockchain adopted as the technological platform standard in Africa for socially impactful solutions.”

Looking ahead, Adanian Labs hopes to overcome the current phase, where the global flow of deals is on a slow-down, and rise to power more startups and conquer more markets across the continent.

Reiterating this, Kamara said, “We built and made it work with the little resources we had. We did not stop then, and we do not plan to stop or scale down now. Adanian Labs has turned into an ecosystem, a place where people come to find value.”

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

Africa

Celebrate Afrobeats And African Culture At Jollof N’ Chill This Summer

Published

on

Within the last five years Afrobeats has risen in popularity due to the music from artists such as Wizkid, Burna Boy, Davido, and many others. The genre stems from the music of West Africa with some influences from American hip-hop, jazz, and calypso, creating a sound that is undeniable, positive, and most importantly, fun to dance to.

Photo credit: Jollof N’Chill, LLC

Meet Ehimwenma Ima-Edomwonyi, born in Nigeria and the holder of an MBA in finance from New Jersey City University, he is an Afrobeats connoisseur who has founded the event Jollof N’ Chill, a celebration of all things African; not just the music, but also the culture, the food, the art, and businesses representing all the countries in the African continent. These Afro-centered events support diversity among the countries as well as bring new ears to the Afrobeats sound.

Photo credit: Jollof N’Chill, LLC

“Our mission is to inspire individuals of all backgrounds to hear, see, and taste Africa. Our events bring people of all cultures and backgrounds together. We continue to bring people from all over the world to learn, embrace, and empower African cultures. Our events have been the core of our community’s growth. People have used the opportunity to expand their worldly views, cultural knowledge, and connections with each other,” stated Edomwonyi when asked about the purpose of his Jollof N’ Chill events.

Since 2018, Jollof N’ Chill has toured to major cities where there is a heavy presence of West Africans, such as New York, Atlanta, Miami, and Los Angeles, building a following and seeing an increase in diversity among its attendees.

We hope to connect our growing audiences with parts of the African culture they might have only seen on social media. Our joy is bringing together all African descendants from outside/within the diaspora and individuals who appreciate African culture,” says Edomwonyi.

Of course, like most businesses, the Jollof N’ Chill events took a heavy hit during the pandemic. But Edomwonyi, is no stranger to adversity and is looking to make 2022 his year of expansion.

Photo Credit: Jollof N’Chill, LLC (To learn more about Jollof N’ Chill visit their Instagram page: @jollofnchill, their next event will be for Juneteenth in New York City.)

Texas Guardian News
Continue Reading

Trending

%d bloggers like this: