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Sahara Energy, Brooge Petroleum to build 250,000 bpd refinery in Fujairah, UAE



 Sahara Energy Resources DMCC Dubai and Brooge Petroleum and Gas Investment Company (BPGIC)  have signed a partnership agreement to set up an oil refinery capable of producing bunker fuel with a capacity of up to 250,000 barrel per day (bpd) in the Emirate of Fujairah.

Mr Bethel Obioma, Sahara Group Spokesman, said in a statement  on Wednesday in Lagos that the first phase of the planned refinery is expected to be completed by Q1 2020.

Sahara Energy and BPGIC said the facility would be first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa to comply with the new regulations of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) 2020 by capping sulfur content in shipping fuels.

Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC, attended the signing ceremony in Abu Dhabi, saying that the deal “evolved through the drive of the UAE’s leadership in promoting and supporting such private initiatives and expediting the diversification of their economies.

“Barkindo underlined the unique role of the private sector as a critical engine for economic vision and strategies,” the statement said.

Commenting on the signing, Nicolaas Paardenkooper, BPGIC CEO, said: “The new facility will contribute to bolstering the growing status of the Emirate of Fujairah in the oil and gas industry.

Paardenkooper said it would also help to meet the growing demand for shipping fuel that complies with the new international laws on capping sulfur content in shipping fuels, as most of current shipping fuel contains up to 3.5 percent sulphur.

“New regulations of IMO will require ships to use fuels with a sulphur content below 0.5 percent beginning in 2020.

“It falls in line with the company’s expansion strategy and its growing contribution to the development of the Oil and Gas industry in the UAE by injecting more investments into this essential sector,” he noted.

Executive Director, Sahara Group, Mr Wale Ajibade, also said the refinery unit would from its location in Fujairah make Sahara Energy DMCC a major supplier of IMO 2020 compliant products in the UAE as well as in African, Asian and European Markets.

“Sahara Energy DMCC is delighted to be part of this landmark leap into the future of clean energy.

“We are constantly seeking opportunities to expand our operations and develop the sector in line with global best practices.

“Bringing energy to life is the passion that drives us at Sahara and we are committed to ensuring that our energy is accessible, clean and ultimately reliable for promoting sustainable development globally,” he said.

Paardenkooper highlighted the listing process of BPGIC on Nasdaq Stock Exchange which started in April as a resounding success conducive for building up investor confidence in the company and its expansion plans.

Ajibade said Sahara Group continues to operate as foremost promoter of clean energy initiatives, working in collaboration with prominent global stakeholders.

Ajibade said in addition to other interventions, Sahara Group recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to promote reliable access to affordable and sustainable energy in Africa.


WHO calls for swift action to save lives from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa




The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday called for swift action by governments to save lives from malaria in sub-Saharan Africa.

The UN health agency urged countries to move fast and distribute malaria prevention and treatment tools amid COVID-19 outbreak in sub-Saharan Africa, and strive to safely maintain these essential malaria control services.

“Severe disruptions to insecticide-treated net campaigns and in access to antimalarial medicines could lead to a doubling in the number of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa this year compared to 2018,” WHO said in a new modeling analysis released ahead of World Malaria Day to be marked on Saturday.

According to the World Malaria Report 2019, sub-Saharan Africa accounted for approximately 93 percent of all malaria cases and 94 percent of deaths in 2018. More than two-thirds of deaths were among children under the age of five.

According to the WHO, the number of reported cases of COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa to date has represented only a small proportion of the global total, though cases are increasing every week.

“This means that countries across the region have a critical window of opportunity to minimize disruptions in malaria prevention and treatment and save lives at this stage of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said WHO.

The analysis considers nine scenarios for potential disruptions in access to core malaria control tools during the pandemic in 41 countries, and the resulting increases that may be seen in cases and deaths.

“Under the worst-case scenario, in which all insecticide-treated net (ITN) campaigns are suspended and there is a 75 percent reduction in access to effective antimalarial medicines, the estimated tally of malaria deaths in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020 would reach 769,000, twice the number of deaths reported in the region in 2018,” WHO said.

This, WHO said, would represent a return to malaria mortality levels last seen 20 years ago.

It said mass vector control campaigns should be accelerated, ensuring protection for both health workers and communities against COVID-19 transmission.

According to the WHO, preventive therapies for pregnant women and children must be maintained, adding that the provision of prompt diagnostic testing and effective antimalarial medicines are also essential to prevent a mild case of malaria from progressing to severe illness and death.

WHO and partners have developed guidance to ensure that those suffering from malaria can safely receive the care they need within the package of essential health services to be delivered in COVID-19 settings.

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World Bank forecasts drop in remittances in sub-Saharan Africa in 2020




Remittance flows in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to drop by 23.1 percent to reach 37 billion U.S. dollars in 2020 due to the economic crisis induced by the COVID-19 pandemic and shutdown, the World Bank predicted on Wednesday.

The World Bank said while recovery of 4 percent is expected in 2021, the sharp decline is largely due to a fall in the wages and employment of migrant workers, who tend to be more vulnerable to loss of employment and wages during an economic crisis in a host country.

“Effective social protection systems are crucial to safeguarding the poor and vulnerable during this crisis in both developing countries as well as advanced countries. In host countries, social protection interventions should also support migrant populations,” said Michal Rutkowski, global director for Social Protection and Jobs at the World Bank.

The lender said remittances to Sub-Saharan Africa registered a small decline of 0.5 percent to 48 billion dollars in 2019.

According to the Bank, the anticipated decline can be attributed to a combination of factors driven by the coronavirus outbreak in key destinations where African migrants reside including in the EU area, the United States, the Middle East, and China.

“These large economies host a large share of Sub-Saharan African migrants and combined, are a source of close to a quarter of total remittances sent to the region,” said the World Bank.

In addition to the pandemic‘s impact, it said, many countries in the eastern Africa region are experiencing a severe outbreak of desert locusts attacking crops and threatening the food supply for people in the region.

According to the lender, sending 200 U.S. dollars remittances to the region cost 8.9 percent on average in the first quarter of 2020, a modest decrease compared with the average cost of 9.25 percent a year before.

The most expensive corridors are observed mainly in the Southern African region, with costs as high as 20 percent, it said, adding that the less expensive corridors had average costs of less than 3.6 percent.

Dilip Ratha, lead author of the Brief and head of KNOMAD, the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development, said quick actions that make it easier to send and receive remittances can provide much-needed support to the lives of migrants and their families.

“These include treating remittance services as essential and making them more accessible to migrants,” said Ratha.

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African Development Bank’s SEFA grants $760,000 to develop small-scale renewable energy projects across Sub Saharan Africa




 The African Development Bank-managed Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA), has approved a $760,000 grant to Empower New Energy AS (EmNEW), to develop at least eight small renewable energy projects with capacity ranging from1-10 MW, towards bankability and construction. 

The grant will support a broad range of project preparation and development activities, including technical feasibility studies, legal due diligence, environmental and social impact assessment, quality assurance and risk management.

Through its Empower Invest fund, EmNEW invests in small and medium-scale renewable energy projects in Africa, with a focus on solar power, hybrid, and hydro technologies.

Welcoming the approval, Terje Osmundsen, EmNEW’s CEO, said, “We are very excited to be entering into a partnership with the African Development Bank and SEFA. There is a large number of strong small or medium scale projects across Africa that remain unrealised because they can’t access competitive financing. Our approach allows us to bridge this gap and working with SEFA, will help us to accelerate this process and support more high-quality projects. Together, we can bring impactful investment to Africa, while helping the continent to meet its electrification, carbon-reduction, and sustainable development targets.”

 The Bank’s support to EmNEW through SEFA is fully aligned with SEFA’s strategy to tackle challenges faced by smaller renewable energy projects in many African countries in accessing financing to cover their initial development costs, the Bank’s Acting Director for Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Daniel Schroth noted.

Drawing on high-quality local partnerships in Africa, EmNEW invests in renewable energy projects through competitive equity to small and medium scale projects which helps to reduce the time and resources required to finance projects while delivering environmental and social impact.

“Accelerated deployment of distributed solar power and small hydropower is one of the fastest and most cost-efficient ways to bridge the energy access gap, fight climate change and promote sustainable development in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said Wale Shonibare, the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.

EmNEW has regional offices in Kenya and Ghana, with projects expected to unlock up to $500 million in renewable energy investment, reduce CO2 emissions by 320,000 tons, create 20,000 new jobs, and eventually produce 585 GWh of clean electricity.

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IMF projects a recession for sub-Saharan Africa in 2020



Sub-Saharan Africa’s gross domestic product is expected to contract 1.6 per cent this year, compared with 3.1 per cent growth in 2019, as the coronavirus pandemic wrecks the region’s economies, the International Monetary Fund said on Tuesday.

Various African governments have imposed lockdowns and curfews to curb the spread of the coronavirus, however the restrictions are putting pressure on most economies, some of which were already in recession.

The IMF said in its World Economic Outlook that GDP was projected to fall sharply in South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy.

The country’s GDP is projected to contract 5.8 per cent in 2020 from growth of 0.2 per cent in 2019.

South Africa entered a recession in the final quarter of 2019 as power cuts by state utility Eskom took a toll on the economy, while public finances were strained by bailouts to struggling state firms.

The country imposed some of the toughest restrictions on the continent to contain the coronavirus, including a five-week lockdown to the end of April.

With production and spending curtailed, the economic outlook was set to remain grim.

The IMF also projected significant economic contractions in oil-exporting countries, with Nigeria’s GDP forecast to fall 3.4 per cent this year after growing 2.2 per cent in 2019.

Angola’s economy was expected to remain in recession, contracting 1.4 per cent in 2020.

Meanwhile, the IMF and the World Bank are racing to provide emergency funds to African countries and others to combat the coronavirus and mitigate the impact of sweeping shutdowns aiming at curbing its spread.

Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Wale Ojetimi (NAN)

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COVID-19: World Bank foresees Sub-Sahara Africa’s 1st recession in 25 years



The World Bank Group says Coronavirus (COVID-19), is taking Sub-Saharan Africa towards its first recession in 25 Years.

The bank stated this in a statement released on Thursday.

It explained that growth in Sub-Saharan Africa had been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, and was predicted to fall sharply from 2.4 per cent in 2019 to -2.1 to -5.1 per cent in 2020.

The bank stated that it based its forecast on the latest Africa’s Pulse, the World Bank’s twice-yearly economic update  for the region.

The statement quoted Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Africa as saying “the COVID-19 pandemic is testing the limits of societies and economies across the world, and African countries are likely to be hit particularly hard.

“We are rallying all possible resources to help countries meet people’s immediate health and survival needs, while also safeguarding livelihoods and jobs in the longer term.

“This includes calling for a standstill on official bilateral debt service payments, which would free up funds for strengthening health systems to deal with COVID 19 and save lives.

“Social safety nets to save livelihoods and help workers who lose jobs, support to small and medium enterprises, and food security.”

According to Ghanem, the Pulse authors recommend that African policymakers should focus on saving lives and protecting livelihoods by strengthening the health systems and taking quick actions to minimise disruptions in food supply chains.

The bank noted that the authors also recommended implementing social protection programmes, including cash transfers, food distribution and fee waivers, to support citizens, especially those working in the informal sector.

The analysis shows that COVID-19 will cost the region between 37 billion dollars and 79 billion dollars in output losses for 2020 due to a combination of effects.

“They include trade and value chain disruption, which impacts commodity exporters and countries with strong value chain participation; reduced foreign financial flows from remittances, tourism and foreign direct investment,” it stated.

It further listed others as foreign aid, combined with capital flight; and through direct impacts on health systems, and disruptions caused by containment measures and the public response.

“While most countries in the region have been affected in different degrees by the pandemic, real gross domestic product growth is projected to fall sharply, particularly in the region’s three largest economies like  Nigeria, Angola, and South Africa, as a result of persistently weak growth and investment.

“In general, oil exporting-countries will also be hard-hit; while growth is also expected to weaken substantially in the two fastest growing areas, the West African Economic and Monetary Union and the East African Community, due to weak external demand, disruptions to supply chains and domestic production.

“The region’s tourism sector is expected to contract sharply due to severe disruption to travel.

“The COVID-19 crisis also has the potential to spark a food security crisis in Africa, with agricultural production potentially contracting between 2.6 per cent in an optimistic scenario, and up to seven per cent if there are trade blockages.

“Food imports would decline substantially as much as 25 per cent, or as little as 13 per cent due to a combination of higher transaction costs and reduced domestic demand” the bank explained.

Edited By: Nyisom Fiyigon Dore

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“Gas is Critical for Sub-Saharan Africa’s Energy Future,” says GE Gas Power Summit in Cape Town, South Africa




Energy experts discuss the importance of gas for Africa’s current and future energy needs;GE’s innovative gas power generation portfolio is providing faster, more reliable, more cost-effective and more environmentally friendly power for baseload, emergency or clean energy transition needs; Gas will be critical for creating industry, manufacturing and attracting investment capital.

With recent major gas discoveries in Tanzania, Mozambique, Senegal, Mauritania and South Africa, Africa is poised to use gas technologies that are faster, more reliable, more cost-effective and more environmentally-friendly than coal or oil. To deliberate on the changing trends and future direction of gas in the energy industry, GE ( recently hosted the Gas Power Summit for Sub-Saharan Africa in Cape Town, South Africa.  The forum brought together senior leaders from governments, financiers as well as key stakeholders and thought leaders from utilities and the private sector across the region to explore industry opportunities and challenges on the future of gas power in sub-Saharan Africa.

During his keynote discussion, Scott Strazik, CEO of GE Gas Power, emphasized the need for countries in sub-Saharan African to work together with the private sector to meet the growing energy demands. “Bridging the energy gap in Sub-Saharan Africa will require continuous, sequential power improvements and the full involvement of governments, fuel suppliers, private capital and technology providers.  Gas is a natural choice to help fill the gaps – providing dispatchable, flexible, affordable, and fast power for people and industries – and with more than 120 years of experience in the region, GE is proud to continue to help lead these efforts.” Strazik said.

The participants at the forum discussed key trends shaping the energy sector including the use of technology to drive better efficiencies for utilities and the use of natural gas to meet the increasing energy demand. “Energy demand globally is driven primarily by socio-economic development and Sub-Saharan Africa will need to be creative in how we manage the energy deficit,” said Hendrik Malan, CEO for Frost & Sullivan Africa. “Adoption of natural gas is an excellent opportunity for the region to reduce carbon emissions and balance the energy mix,” he said.

The modern power grid needs resources that can ramp up and down, swiftly, efficiently and repeatedly. Operational flexibility is critical for gas turbines that compliment renewable energy as it balances electric system loads and helps maintain grid reliability. “GE continues to help countries throughout sub-Saharan Africa meet their growing energy demands. Case in point, our  Aero-derivative gas turbines provide fast, reliable power for energy emergencies and power crisis while our total plant management solutions demonstrates our strength as a single service provider that understands the full plant-as-a-system impact for installation, maintenance, repair and upgrade activities,” said Elisee Sezan, CEO for GE’s Gas Power business in Sub-Saharan Africa. “GE’s TM2500 mobile aeroderivative gas turbine, for example, can be installed quickly – in as little as a few weeks – to help alleviate frequent outages, making them especially well-suited for countries throughout Africa.” In Angola, GE Gas Power provided emergency power within 30 days just before Christmas, providing emergency power for approximately 100,000 Angolan homes.

GE has been collaborating with energy stakeholders to deploy innovative technologies tailored to respond to the needs in the region since the 1950s with reliable baseload and flexible emergency power. In 2018, the company celebrated its 100th power plant in Sub-Saharan Africa and today, up to 17GW of gas power generation on the grid runs on GE gas turbines. GE Gas Power’s portfolio consists of advanced technologies and solutions that help build and manage power plant assets and operations more efficiently.

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Don’t tell students about Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). Inspire them (By De Wet Joubert, RS Components Sub Sahara Africa)




By De Wet Joubert, RS Components Sub Sahara Africa

It’s amazing how quickly the world around us is changing. The fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is upon us and how we continue to adapt to this era of rapid technological and societal change is crucial. Why we need to adapt and how fast we are able to adapt to these changes remain a core question of our time, and education is a key factor in how we navigate these changes. As our society, its challenges and our possibilities for the future are changing, education needs to transform as an enabler for this progress.

Transforming education to align with the challenges of this new age is a big focus for the team at RS Components ( We’re particularly interested in encouraging science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in schools, promoting digital skills development at universities and colleges, and also promoting after-study opportunities to prepare graduates for employment in this rapidly changing world.

Readiness for the fourth industrial revolution requires a broad array of technical skills combined with a burning curiosity to find solutions to our most pressing problems. In this context our aim is to inspire innovation and promote the ways which support innovative and design thinking.

The importance of innovation in our industry is inescapable. We supply electronic and industrial components, services and solutions to a wide variety of sectors. Combined, these all power modern equipment and inspire new strategies and ways of doing business. We help companies around the world reach their goals or achieve a competitive advantage by offering our mix of innovative products and solutions. We have supported many customers as they create the 4IR.

Bringing 4IR to education

It is this kind of innovation and experience we want to bring to the education space. The concepts and practical elements that work in industry and that define 4IR are exactly those we want to infuse into education. Our goal is to get students to start thinking about solving critical problems using technology.

It’s while trying to address this idea that we noticed a particular gap in the process. In most traditional education and training environments the topic is approached in a rote fashion. Students are told what to know and connect enough dots to pass a test. These students are therefore not being inspired to think critically about the possibilities in front of them, to think out of the box, to think differently. In this kind of teaching environment, it will be difficult for them to take charge of the technology and apply it to their own thinking to come up with multiple solutions.

This is particularly important if we want to encourage a greater uptake of STEM subjects. Telling a child to choose science, technology, engineering and math is not enough. Teaching STEM isn’t enough.

What we need is the same spirit as those fun chemistry teachers you can find on YouTube. Show-and-tell, then make it relevant to the real world. Show students the tools and platforms, show what they can do, show how they fit into industry and the rest of the world.

Taking 4IR to students everywhere

The journey can start at home. Minecraft-Pi (, which comes bundled with Raspbian ( (the Raspberry Pi’s free operating system), can be manipulated using coding in the game. A child can play and learn Python (, one of the most widely-used programming languages in the world. They can go a step further and install Scratch (, a drag-and-drop coding game designed by the Massachusetts Institute for Technology (MIT) which is also available for free through Raspberry Pi, or via download from MIT.

The Raspberry Pi computer board ( is a marvel of technology, putting everything from basic to very advanced 4IR tools in your hands for around $35. It’s also supported by DesignSpark (, an RS platform that offers free tutorials, software and resources for students, teachers, parents and hobbyists.

But you don’t even need a Raspberry Pi to get started. Tools such as Scratch are freely available. We should use these various tools in combination to connect the dots between them and see the amazing things the 4IR is already creating out there. This is how we create the sparks of innovation and imagination in the minds of students.

This approach works. I’ve seen students build small rockets, smart cameras and heat sensors. They can see how their thoughts and ideas can become a reality. But the impact should be felt –in more schools and more homes. If we can focus on inspiring students on what they can do with digital technology, then 4IR stops being a virtual concept and starts becoming tangible in the real world.

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General news

Experts canvass for quality assurance for varsities in Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa



Prof. Kayode Adekeye, President of West Africa Anglophone Quality Assurance Network, and other stakeholders, on Tuesday, called for quality assurance in universities in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

Adekeye made the call at a workshop on ‘Internal Quality Assurance and Curriculum Development for Anglophone West Africa Higher Educational Institutions’, at the Redeemers University, Ede, Osun.

The Nigeria News Agency reports that the workshop had as its them “Conceptualisation of Effective Internal Quality Assurance in Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs)’’.

Adekeye said that the workshop was organised to examine the level of  quality assurance in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries with a view to improving on them.

“We don’t want Nigerian university system to lag behind in quality assurance, and that is why we are championing this drive of ensuring quality assurance in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

“Quality is a continuous journey and a match to excellence, which is never an ending journey.

“Even if you are assuring on quality, you must continuously improve on that quality, and that is what we want in the Nigerian universities,’’ he said.

Also speaking, Dr Sulaimon Yusuf, Deputy Executive Secretary, National Universities Commission (NUC), stressed the need for quality to be reflected in the nation’s university system.

According to him, it is imperative to review the curriculum of the nation’s universities to equip their graduates with qualities that would help them fit into the labour market.

“The whole purpose of the curriculum review is to consult all stakeholders and employers of labour to sit back and create an environment where students and even lecturers have the opportunity of practical experience in the industry.

“We believe that by the time you are able to match the expectation of the labour market with entrepreneurship, there will be good quality product from the universities,’’ he said.

Ms Petral Pisto, Quality Manager and Higher Education Consultant, Muster University of Applied Sciences, said that quality assurance training was necessary for optimal performance in the university system.

Edited ‘Wale Sadeeq

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Science & Technology

Facebook celebrates key milestones for sub Saharan Africa in 2019



Facebook on Thursday released its ‘2019 Year in Review’ infographics, showcasing some of its investments across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director Facebook Africa, said in a statement that in 2019, Facebook trained over 7,000 woman-owned businesses in digital skills across sub Saharan Africa.

Ntshingila said that because the company was able to grow an ecosystem of developers, entrepreneurs, creatives, and many other communities as part of its commitment to give people the power to build communities.

He said that the company also celebrated 79 Community Leadership Circle meetups with over 2 ,650 people attending.

We have reached our 45th Developer Circle, with circles now in 17 African countries and representing more than 70,000 members.

Facebook also hosted the first-ever iD8 Nairobi Conference with over 400 African developers and startups in attendance.

Facebook has also expanded Third-Party Fact-Checking across 10 African countries,” he said.

The regional director also noted that Facebook announced the creation of the world’s most detailed population density maps of Africa, created by its AI researchers, to help humanitarian aid and relief agencies.

Ntshingila said that Africa was important to Facebook and they were committed to investing in its youth, entrepreneurs, the creative industries, tech ecosystem.

Our 2019 Year in Review highlights just some of our investments, and the impact we have been able make in the region.

I am excited about the future of Facebook and our family of apps here in Africa, as well as the potential of this young, mobile and dynamic continent.

And I am looking forward to creating more partnerships in 2020 and beyond,” he said.

Edited by: Edith Bolokor/Wale Ojetimi


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