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Musings From Abroad

US set to hold 2nd Democracy Summit, but what’s in it for Africa?

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The United States is set to hold the second edition of  Summit for Democracy which will be co-hosted with leaders from Zambia, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, and South Korea.

The forum is scheduled to hold on 29-30 March and is expected to have leaders from around the world, including from several African countries, discuss strengthening democratic institutions, tackling corruption, and defending human rights.

According to a statement by the US Department of State, the summit will highlight new approaches and partnerships that strengthen democracy, human rights, and governance.

It said the first session will highlight USAID and our partners’ efforts to surge resources to reformers during democratic openings, while the second will feature USAID’s new People Centered Justice (PCJ) approach to Rule of Law programming, and will highlight the Rule of Law and People Centered Justice Multistakeholder Cohort’s Declaration and Call to Action.

Session three will identify new approaches to addressing inequality and building trust in societies. Session four will focus on the work of the USG-led Financial Transparency and Integrity (FTI) Multistakeholder Cohort, including launching the Cohort’s Pledge and Call to Action, and will highlight how USAID is modernizing its support to anti-corruption reformers.

Lately, the United States has been preoccupied with approaches to reaffirm its dwindling influence in the international arena as China and Russia alliance continues to threaten Western dominance in lower-power nations, particularly in Africa.

The United States, Vice President Kamala Harris is currently on an African tour and part of her concern includes strengthening democratic institutions in African countries.

Washington has expressed concern with the nature and approaches of some African governments, notably Tunisia, where President Kais Saied is capturing state institutions and restricting opposition voices. Also, in West Africa where there has been a recent wave of military incursion in the government in Guinea, Mali, and Burkina Faso.

In the case of Tunisia, the US has blocked aid funds amidst President Saed’s anti-democratic stands, but beyond financial sanctions which always hit back on the public, how can the West really influence democratic consolidation in Africa?

Musings From Abroad

French, Russia, Chinese firms court Ghana amid plan for first nuclear power plant

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According to a representative of the energy ministry, Ghana will choose a contractor by December to construct its first nuclear power station from among competitors which include China National Nuclear Corporation, France’s EDF, and the United States NuScale Power and Regnum Technology Group.

Robert Sogbadji, the deputy director for power in charge of nuclear and alternative energy, Russia’s ROSATOM and South Korea’s Kepco and its subsidiary Korea Hydro Nuclear Power Corporation were also vying for the contract, which was scheduled to last for the next ten years.

“Cabinet will approve the final choice. It can be one vendor or two nations; it will depend on the financial model and the technical details,” Sogbadji told Reuters on Monday.

The government issued a call for vendors, and 16 countries and businesses replied, according to Sogbadji. However, a technical committee of state agencies headed by the Ministry of energy reduced the list to the current five countries.

In the 1960s, Ghana began exploring the construction of a nuclear power facility, but a coup halted the project. With help from the International Atomic Energy Association, it brought the plan back to life in 2006 after a catastrophic power outage.

Similar to other African nations, Ghana is progressively exploring the potential of nuclear power to bridge supply gaps on a continent where more than 600 million people live without access to energy.

Both Burkina Faso and Uganda have agreements in place with China and Russia to build their first nuclear power plants. As part of their energy mix, Namibia, Kenya, and Morocco are also aiming to include nuclear power.

Amidst acute power shortages, South Africa, which runs the only nuclear reactor on the continent, plans to add 2,500 megawatts (MW) of power from the resource. According to Sogbadji, Ghana wants to increase its electricity mix to include 1,000 megawatts of nuclear power by 2034.

Energy authority in the West African nation, which is now experiencing power shortages, has 5,454 MW of installed capacity, of which 4,483 MW is available.

Ghana, a country that exports gold, oil, and cocoa, anticipates using nuclear power as its foundation for faster and more comprehensive industrialization while expanding energy exports via the West Africa Power Pool to countries like Benin, Ivory Coast, and Togo.

According to Sogbadji, the government has already acquired a location big enough to house five reactors. It would be preferable, he continued, to “build, own, operate and transfer” with space for local equity holding.

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Musings From Abroad

Nigeria’s Air Peace accused of safety violation by UK regulator

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Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority has received a letter from the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority claiming that Nigerian carrier, Air Peace, had allegedly broken several aviation safety laws.

The allegation comes just three months after the Nigerian airline initiated the Lagos-London route.

“United Kingdom SAFA Ramp Inspection Report with reference number: CAA-UK, -2024-0217” and “NATS Management System Safety Report” were the titles of the CAA’s letter of complaint that was sent to the NCAA. Additionally, the NCAA has written to Air Peace to elucidate the matters at hand.

The letter was labelled “United Kingdom SAFA Ramp Inspection Report” and has the reference number NCAA/DOLTS/APL/Vol.11/03624 on it. Capt. O.O. Lawani, the NCAA General Manager of Operations, signed the document, which had the date May 14, 2024.

The NCAA stated in the letter that the flight captain acknowledged using an electronic flight bag for navigation and that the UK CAA had alerted it to the lack of operational approval for Electronic Flight Bag functions that could compromise the aircraft’s safety.

NCAA added that “no mounting device for the use of EFB, no charging points, or battery for backup” was mentioned in the letter from the CAA.

Air Peace has started flying from Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos to London Gatwick as part of Nigeria and the United Kingdom’s bilateral air services agreement.

As of the time of publication, Stanley Olisa, the Air Peace spokesperson, could not be reached.

Since Air Peace started operating flights from Lagos to London, international airlines including British Airways, Virgin, and others have reduced their fares on the route.

Several industry watchers have urged Nigeria’s government to back Air Peace by opposing ‘aero politics” along the route and taking retaliatory measures to undermine Air Peace’s viability there.

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