Daily Archives: March 21, 2015

A break-in at a South African nuclear complex alarms Washington and strains relations years later (GlobalPost)

By Douglas Birch and R. Jeffrey Smith, Center for Public Integrity  

PELINDABA, South Africa — To gain access to South Africa’s main nuclear research center here, where nearly a quarter-ton of nuclear explosives are stored, approved visitors are supposed to be checked by fingerprint scanners at the three main entrances, installed as part of an American-financed security upgrade.

Unless, of course, the scanners are not working, in which case the guard may just wave a visitor through a vehicle entrance several steps away — as happened with a reporter, twice, during visits a few days apart to this remote, scrubland site last year.

Pelindaba, situated west of the capital of Pretoria, is considered a “national key point” by the South African government, a highly-sensitive facility that is a potential target for sabotage. It was once the center of South Africa’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, which built six bombs and left behind a reservoir of weapons-usable fuel.

Whether that stockpile — enough highly-enriched uranium (HEU) for more bombs like the one that devastated Hiroshima — is adequately guarded from theft has been a recurrent source of friction between Washington and Pretoria, according to officials in both capitals.

A break-in at Pelindaba by two armed groups more than seven years ago convinced senior US officials and some independent security experts that the vault holding the fuel lacks adequate counter-terror protections. As a result, Washington has been waging  a quiet, but unsuccessful, diplomatic campaign to convince South Africa to relinquish the vault’s HEU.

Government officials here depict the break-in as a routine burglary, and complain that Washington is needlessly obsessed about Pelindaba’s security. The nuclear arsenals of the world’s militaries pose far greater dangers than the highly-enriched uranium located here, senior South African diplomats say. 

In two private letters, President Barack Obama has  asked South African president Jacob Zuma  to transform the South Africa’s weapons-usable uranium into a more benign form with US help. But Zuma has not accepted either suggestion, and current and former US officials have said that they worry that the security upgrades made at Pelindaba are insufficient or poorly maintained — as suggested by the malfunctioning fingerprint scanner.

A confidential South African report, moreover, backs up the US account of the gravity of the break-in and the risks of another assault, according to persons familiar with its contents.

The author of the report, who formerly worked for Kroll Inc., an international intelligence and investigations firm, concluded that the raid was a carefully planned operation, that it relied on inside help, that those involved had special training, and that it probably targeted the nuclear explosives, these sources say.

The 98-page document, which was written for the national utility that runs Pelindaba, pointed to suspects that were never arrested or questioned, they add. It has never been released — or even acknowledged — in South Africa, but was obtained by foreign intelligence agencies and described to the Center for Public Integrity by multiple sources.

Asked for comment about this story, Clayson Monyela, a spokesman for South Africa’s foreign ministry said “we are aware that there has been a concerted campaign to undermine us by turning the reported burglary into a major risk. Attempts by anyone to manufacture rumours and conspiracy theories laced with innuendo are rejected with the contempt they deserve.”

Related story: South Africa rebuffs repeated US demands that it relinquish its nuclear explosives

Seizing the security control center

Experts consider HEU the terrorists’ nuclear explosive of choice. Physicists say a sizable nuclear blast could be readily achieved by slamming two shaped chunks of it together at high speed. Foreign experts say about 485 pounds of the HEU, initially packed inside South Africa’s nuclear bombs, are stored in Pelindaba’s vault now.

Although Pelindaba, located a half-hour’s drive west of Pretoria, is named after Zulu words that mean “the discussion is finished,” it has long been a magnet for controversy. Its nuclear scientists learned their craft working on a civilian reactor built there by the United States in the 1960s and fueled by US-supplied. highly-enriched uranium at a time when Washington was less attentive to the associated risks.

Still the country’s main nuclear research center, Pelindaba employs about 2,000 workers and consists of dozens of brown concrete research labs, production facilities, and narrow cooling towers, all flanked by grasslands and spreading acacia trees where monkeys, warthogs and other wildlife roam.

The structures are clustered on a series of hilltops, dotted with acacia trees and circled by a 6.8-mile-long, electrified fence. Tucked in the basement of one is a special vault originally built to hold silver intended for reactor fuel rods. After the apartheid government’s six bombs were dismantled and their explosive cores melted down and cast into ingots, the vault was repurposed as their storage site.

According to the confidential South African report, the 2007 raid began shortly after midnight on a cold Thursday morning when four armed men sliced through the fence, peeled it back, and secured the flaps with locking plastic straps, and then one-by-one slowly crawled underneath. Around the same time, a second group of intruders breached another section of the fence about a mile away.

The spot chosen by the first group was at the edge of video coverage, close to a control box and at the nearest point to the vital Emergency Control Center. The second team’s breach came when nearby cameras were pointed elsewhere.

The first of the raiders to get inside went straight to the electrical box, where he circumvented a magnetic anti-tampering mechanism, disabled the alarms, cut the communications cable, and shut down power to a portion of the fence and to alarms on a gate 250 feet away — opening a path for a vehicle to exit.

This was not simply a matter of pulling a switch, a source familiar with the report said, but required electrical skills and knowledge of the security systems. Those who participated, the report said, had special training.

Once inside, the gang walked three-quarters of a mile uphill toward the fire station next to the emergency center. Working swiftly, the assailants broke in, found a hidden latch securing a fire truck ladder, and used the ladder to climb to the Center’s second-floor landing.

The raiders arrived, moreover, on a night when they may have expected little resistance. The Emergency Center supervisor scheduled to be on duty then used a wheelchair. But as it happened, he wanted to attend a party that night, and arranged for a colleague to take his place. She brought along her dog and her fiancé, Frans Antonie Gerber, an off-duty firefighter.

Security forces never directly confronted the raiders. But the dogs’ barking — which led Gerber to spy the intruders and his girlfriend to pick up the phone and call for help just as they burst in — thwarted the intrusion. Three intruders attacked Gerber, one with a pipe. Gerber resisted, and was shot in the chest, with the bullet narrowly missing his spine. (Gerber, who is still employed at Pelindaba, did not respond to interview requests.)

Frightened off by the fracas and the phone call, the first team of raiders fled. The second team did not go far before they left, prompting the investigator to speculate they had communicated with the first team.

Two guards who were supposed to monitor video cameras were fired; a manager was also suspended. But eight years later, no one has been charged with a crime and no suspects have been identified. One person was arrested: a Malawian man using a SIM card from a cellphone stolen during the raid. But police concluded he found it on the ground outside Pelindaba’s fence, and he was simply deported.

The private investigator tracked down some of the cellphone records of calls made in the Pelindaba area the night of the raid, which in combination with interviews and polygraph tests led him to two South Africans he ultimately suspected of having participated, as well as several others who may have been accomplices.

But the suspects were never arrested or even questioned by police, according to two South African sources.

One major cellphone provider in the area, the MTN group, refused to turn over its records, despite a police subpoena. “MTN is obliged to respond to a subpoena that has been secured by a member of the South African Police Services and not a private investigator,” said Graham de Vries, a spokesman for the company’s chief corporate services office.

A South African expert who read the report said he concluded that the raiders most likely targeted the nuclear explosives, perhaps to sell them on the black market, where they could have fetched millions of dollars. He based his conclusion, he said, on the expertise the raid required, the risk the raiders faced, and the difficulty of planning simultaneous assaults by two different teams.

Having the run of the place

William H. Tobey, the deputy administrator of the US National Nuclear Security Administration at the time of the break-in, is among many current and former US officials that share these concerns. While he remains uncertain of the raiders’ objectives, he mentioned the groups’ ability to use the hidden ladder latch as a reason he became “convinced … there was insider participation.”

Rather than face the implications of the assault, Tobey said, South African officials are in denial about it.

Whatever the raider’s intent, a former US intelligence official said on condition he not be named, they “had the run of the place. The more we learned, the more horrifying it was. … They could have gotten the stuff” if they had been more determined to do so.

Matthew Bunn, a Clinton White House science official who also advised the Bush administration on nuclear security matters, called the South African government’s view that the raiders were common criminals “utterly nonsensical.”

“Nobody breaks through a 10,000-volt security fence to steal someone’s cellphone,” he said. “The obvious question is, What else at the site justifies having two well-trained, knowledgeable teams at the site at the same time? The assumption … to be disproved is that they were … after the highly-enriched uranium.”

South African Police Service officials didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment. Ronnie Kasrils, South Africa’s minister of intelligence services at the time of the raid, said in a brief email that he had ordered a thorough investigation and that “from reports it did indeed appear to be a routine burglary.” Suyabonga Cwele, his successor in 2009, declined to be interviewed.

South African opposition parties have demanded a more concerted inquiry, but the ruling African National Congress has brushed the issue aside. Then-Defense Minister Mosiuoa Lekota  told lawmakers in 2008 that the break-in was “a clear criminal act” and a matter for police to pursue.

Bismark Tyobeka, a US-trained engineer who is now chief executive of South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator, said he believes the chances of a repeat of the 2007 assault on Pelindaba are “very low” but expressed concern about the lack of progress in answering questions raised by the incident.

“If it happened to my installation I would be bugging the state or the police to want to know what is happening,” he said. “It leaves everybody worried because to date none of the perpetrators has been apprehended.”

“Either the perpetrators were very sophisticated in the operation, or the investigations have not been very effective,” Tyobeka said. “We hope very shortly that the perpetrators will be brought to book, we will have closure on this, because as a regulator we can never rest until we know what exactly happened there so that it does not happen again.”

Asked if he planned to pressure the police and Pelindaba’s managers to close the case, Tyobeka said that not his responsibility. “I say we would not really be interested to be chasing the case with the SAPS,” he said, referring to the South African Police Service.

Washington insists on security upgrades

After the raid, the Bush administration offered to help tighten security at Pelindaba, but the Pretoria government refused, according to officials and documents. South Africans chose instead to seek a special IAEA review of the site, and in January 2008, an IAEA team issued a 74-word statement that a security upgrade plan set by the government a year before the raid provided an “appropriate basis” for protecting the site.

The  statement — which under IAEA rules had to be cleared by the South African government — said further there was “no evidence that sensitive nuclear areas were under any threat at any time” during the raid.

For many South African officials, the report was vindication. Abdul Minty, who at the time served as South Africa’s representative on the IAEA board, said he asked his American colleagues, “Don’t you trust the IAEA? This is the organization you created. They come here, they inspect, they report, the stuff is under 24-hour surveillance, it’s in a vault. What’s your problem?”

US experts say instead that the report illustrates the challenge of ensuring sound security practices are used at nuclear explosive storage sites when no international standards exist and no country is obligated to report details about its handling of specific incidents to others. Roger Johnston, a physicist who from 1992 until early this year led a team of Energy Department scientists studying nuclear security, calls this approach “security by obscurity.”

Officials at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, which runs Pelindaba, were less sanguine than the ministry officials and sought help from US government nonproliferation experts, according to a September 2009 State Department diplomatic cable.

The  cable, released by Wikileaks, said Joseph Shayi, NECSA’s top security manager, told the Americans he needed additional motion sensors as well as new video cameras, fencing and training for Pelindaba. Shayi declined a request for an interview.

But other South African officials said at the time that the upgrades weren’t required, and worried that spending money on security would sap funds needed for other nuclear work, according to US officials involved in the negotiations. The South Africans also raised charges of US hypocrisy on nuclear security, pointing to the July 2012 break-in at the US weapons-grade uranium storage site outside Knoxville, Tennessee, by an 82-year old nun and two other peace activists.

That break-in — which prompted bruising internal security reviews and eventual upgrades — did “affect our credibility” overseas as a secure guardian of nuclear explosives, Steven C. Erhart, the head of the US nuclear weapons production office  testified in May 2013 at the trial of those arrested.

In the end, Pretoria agreed to install the upgrades only after Washington offered to pay $8 million toward the cost and threatened to withhold fuel shipments for South Africa’s US-built research reactor, which profitably produces medical isotopes.

NECSA says it spent another $1.4 million to build a new perimeter fence designed with help from experts at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico, and to harden defenses at the site’s Emergency Operations Center, which the 2007 raiders so easily commandeered.

But the government refused to buy security system software suggested by Washington, fearing that it might contain “trap doors” that could be exploited by the Americans.  Two sources familiar with the security arrangements also say that the vault building still has no special guard force deployed full-time at its perimeter, unlike similar repositories in the United States.

American security concerns persist

Waldo Stumpf, a senior official in South Africa’s nuclear programs under both the apartheid and democratic governments until 2001, said in an interview that due to various security upgrades made at the site, “there’s no way” that unauthorized parties could get into the vault.

But Johnston, the former Energy Department security expert, said that “as far as I can tell nothing is impregnable.”

The author of more than 115 technical papers and winner of numerous awards for his work, Johnston is best known for his study of seals, including the kind used by the IAEA to detect the diversion of nuclear explosives. After testing 850 seals over the last two decades, he and his team concluded that all of them could be defeated, meaning opened and resealed without leaving a trace — some by one person working alone for two hours or less.

Johnston, who recently formed his own security consulting firm, emphasized that he has only read about and discussed the Pelindaba raid with colleagues. But in general, he said, anyone who says any vault couldn’t be broken into “hasn’t really thought through the security issues. Because, if they had, they would be sweating bullets.”

The break-in at Pelindaba, he explained, was a “classic” failure of what’s known as “layered” security, meaning that authorities felt complacent behind layers of guns, guards, alarms and fences.

“It’s just not a business where you should ever be confident,” Johnston said.

Some of Washington’s enduring concerns are delineated in its recent counterterrorism reports. South African nationals have acted as al Qaida financiers and facilitators, the State Department’s 2012 report said, and a South African nonprofit was suspected of funneling money to Bangladeshi militant groups. Informal cash transfer businesses, called hawalas, widely used by South Africa’s large Muslim community, have likely transferred money to violent extremists in East Africa, it added.

Meanwhile, the country’s security service has engaged in minimal cooperation with US counterterrorism officials, according to the 2013 annual report, the most recent published. “South Africa borders remain porous,” and terrorist groups have exploited the holes to move throughout the continent, the report said. “Due to allegations of corruption, attrition, the lack of receipt of timely intelligence requests, and bureaucracy within multiple South African law enforcement entities, [counterterrorism] challenges remain.”

“The feeling in the White House was: Who is better at protecting this material? Us or them?” said  Donald Gips, President Obama’s ambassador to South Africa from 2009 to 2013. “If a real terrorist organization tried to break in there, they’re going to get in.”

No matter how much security gear the South Africans added, Gips said it was his impression that “we were not going to be happy. No matter what country, we wanted that stuff out of everywhere, all over the world.”

Gary Samore, who served as President Obama’s principal advisor on nuclear terrorism until 2013, said government experts during his tenure regarded Pelindaba as one of the “most vulnerable” stockpiles of weapons uranium in the world. The 2007 assault on Pelindaba, Samore said, “was certainly one of the main reasons South Africa would be on that list, because that really freaked people out.”

Birch reported from Washington and South Africa. Smith reported from Washington.

This piece comes from the  Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, nonprofit investigative news organization.  To follow their investigations into nuclear materials and national security issues, go  here or follow them on Twitter.

New plans to stem the flow of migration unacceptable


GUE/NGL MEPs want safe and legal routes into the EU for migrants and asylum seekers

New plans to stem the flow of migration unacceptable

GUE/NGL MEPs urge the Commission and member states to stop discussing asylum and search and rescue outsourcing and focus instead on safe and legal ways to the EU for asylum-seekers and migrants.

The MEPs are strongly critical of information published in the international press this weekend on immigration talks currently taking place at EU level that, if implemented, would result in a de facto refoulement of asylum-seekers.

The international press revealed the existence of a proposal by Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano to outsource search and rescue to countries such as Egypt or Tunisia who would then bring the rescued migrants to their shores. Originally leaked by Italian news agencies Asca and Redattore Sociale, the proposal, which aims to produce a “real deterrent effect, so that fewer migrants would be ready to put their life at risk to reach Europe’s coasts”, was presented to France, Germany, Spain and the European Commission in the margins of the Justice and Home Affairs Council (JHA) last Thursday 12th March and discussed further at a meeting at the Commission on Tuesday 17th March.

Parallel to these talks at the JHA Council last week, interior ministers discussed setting up refugee camps in Northern Africa and the possibility to process asylum applications in these camps, a proposal that been repeatedly dismissed in the past 15 years by the Commission given the numerous legal and practical obstacles, including the risk of breaching the international principle of non-refoulement.

Cornelia Ernst, GUE/NGL coordinator on the LIBE Committee, said: “This is yet another attempt by member states trying to get rid of the people arriving at our shores in search of help and hope. This time they are exploiting the fact that search and rescue in the Mediterranean has not been working for years. But instead of trying to improve that situation they are prescribing a poison as medicine. The paper makes it perfectly clear that the overall aim is to make sure that nobody leaves the African coast for Europe. So to remedy the humanitarian catastrophe of people dying at sea, they propose to lock people into Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, risking another humanitarian catastrophe in those countries.”

French MEP Marie-Christine Vergiat said: “We are facing one of the biggest refugee crises since the Second World War. And how do member states respond? ‘Clear off!’ These two proposals represent a real danger and their message is quite clear: a further tightening of Fortress Europe and handing over our responsibility to third countries. Once again we see member states using every possibility not to comply with their international obligations of non-refoulement of asylum-seekers. This is just unacceptable.” 

For Spanish MEP Marina Albiol: “They want other countries outside the EU to do their dirty work for them, they want the blood on the hands of others. They are trying to hide poverty and despair, they don’t want us to see how human rights don’t  exist for these people so they send them to other countries, where they are not respected. This is another step towards total lack of respect of human rights and it goes directly against rights granted by European legislation.”

Italian MEP Barbara Spinelli commented: “Italian Interior minister Alfano’s proposals for outsourcing EU asylum policy and for search and rescue operations in cooperation with third countries are an underhanded and delusive tactic to prevent refugees from reaching Europe and seek international protection here. The actual purpose is the refoulement and repatriation of the refugees to the countries they escaped from. This instrumentalisation of the deaths in the Mediterranean is even more revolting knowing that the discussions at European level on safe and legal access to the EU for asylum seekers as well as the creation of more channels of legal migration are currently blocked by the Council of the European Union.”

For Swedish MEP Malin Björk: “This is an unacceptable process of externalising the EU’s borders and refusing responsibility for the current refugee situation in our neighbourhood. The EU and its member states must face up to their responsibilities and organise search and rescue operations and develop legal asylum entries and proper reception of people seeking protection in the EU.

Related MEPs

Food Concepts Partners Pioneer Foods in South Africa

Food Concepts Plc, a market leader in the West African food industry with a basket of top brands, including Chicken Republic, Butterfield Bakery and Free Range Farms, has announced its partnership with Pioneer Foods, a leading South African FMCG company.

Food Concepts Plc was founded by Mr. Deji Akinyanju in 2001.

Speaking on the partnership, CEO Pioneer Foods, Phil Roux, stated that “Butterfield provides an ideal opportunity to leverage our expertise to grow the bread category. Pioneer aims to be a leading FMCG company in Africa and Nigeria is a key market for any food company in search of growth.”

On his part, Chairman of Food Concepts Plc, Akinyanju, said “the partnership will benefit from the combination of the respective strengths which will be used to tap into the vast opportunities in the Nigerian FMCG sector to deliver extraordinary value to customers.”

The company recently demerged its Baked Goods Division into Food Concepts Pioneer Limited (FCPL). Pioneer Foods acquired 50.01 per cent of FCPL while Food Concepts Plc retains 49.9 per cent. FCPL will house Butterfield Bakeries, a baked goods business specialising in bread and sausage roll production. This will allow Pioneer Foods to leverage existing infrastructure and brand recognition — both crucial elements of consumer packaged-goods companies. Pioneer Foods will implement several operational changes to the Butterfield bakery to increase its efficiency and consistency.

Weah Grateful for Forbes Magazine's Top 10 'Power' Listing

International recognition, rating, laurels have played a key part in Liberian politics over the years with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf being a major beneficiary.

For many Liberians, the more an individual is recognized internationally, it signifies that such person has the power to solicit international assistance to help rebuild a nation tattered by years of conflict especially, a country that is heavily reliant on foreign donations and other forms of aid.

President Sirleaf benefited numerous recognitions including the Nobel Peace prize which she won in 2011 days to the conduct of general and presidential elections in Liberia, boosting her campaign.

Liberians at the time argued that for a woman recognized globally to be denied the presidency for another candidate was a big mistake and Sirleaf eventually clinched her second term of office.

Amongst President Sirleaf honours included being named amongst the most powerful women in Africa and the world by the popular Forbes Magazine on more than one occasions, amongst others.

With Sirleaf tenure at the whelm of power now nearing an end after almost 10 years in power, it seems her international rating and recognitions are also going down as in the last two years Forbes and other renowned international magazines have not ranked her as compared to previous years.

Recognition shifting?

With Sirleaf expected to leave office within the next two years to pave the way for another election in 2017, it seems one of Liberia’s popular politicians is beginning to make headways on the international stage with his recent ranking by Forbes as one of the ten most powerful men in Africa in 2015.

On home soil, George M. Weah, one time World best footballer is undoubtedly the most popular politician even though he has not been able to transform his popularity into winning the presidency.

Weah has contested the presidency on one occasion in 2005, running as a Vice presidential candidate in 2011 but from the politics of Liberia, it seems he has contested twice based on the fact that his political party, the Congress for democratic Change (CDC) is centered around his popularity.

In 2011 incumbent Ellen Johnson Sirleaf admitted in an interview that the contest was not between she and Cllr. Winston Tubman who was standard bearer of the CDC but it rather between she and Weah.

Sirleaf accused Tubman of failing to run a campaign in any part of Liberia on his own in the absence of Weah.

After two attempts for elected office has proven futile, Weah in 2014 won the Montserrado County Senatorial election, the county with the largest population in Liberia.

Based on his performance in 2014, many now believe that Weah is on the right path to contesting the 2017 general and presidential election with Sirleaf out of the picture and that has been recognized by Forbes.

In its ranking of powerful men in Africa for 2014, Forbes has named Weah amongst other African men including, powerful men who are impacting Africa in diverse sectors ranging from business to politics.

Weah is listed along with Zimbabwe’s richest man, Strive Masiyiwa who is quietly connecting the continent, laying underground fiber optics cable through his company, Liquid

Telecom while fighting against the scourge of the Ebola outbreak to Tidjane Thiam of Ivory Coast who dominated global business news last week with his announcement that he would be heading up one of the world’s largest and oldest banks, Credit Suisse in Geneva, Switzerland.

Also included on the list is Uganda’s Victor Ochen, youngest African nominee for the prestigious 2015 Nobel Peace Prize for his advocacy for victims of war and the youth.

According to Forbes, these African men have been and continue to be at the forefront of taking the affairs of the continent into their own hands and transforming it into the change they want to see in it.

“Against the backdrop of an Ebola outbreak ravishing the country, former football star George Weah won a landslide victory in one of Liberia’s most high-profile senate race elections. Weah obtained 78% of the vote for the highly contested Montserrado county seat, which included the capital city of the country, Monrovia. The former footballer-turned politician beat Robert Sirleaf, the son of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who took nearly 11% of the vote”, Forbes stated.

The international Magazine stated in its ranking that Weah’s senate win is widely viewed as foundational for a second presidential run in 2017. Weah is popular with the Liberian youth and is regarded as one of the greatest African players of all time; he is the only African to be named Fifa’s world player of the year.

Forbes recognition of Weah will be seen by his supporters as a boost to their candidate quest to become President of Liberia.

For many Liberians before voting, they look at candidates to see the level of international connections which play a role in their decision.

Mandate from Liberians

Meanwhile Weah has described as recognition by Forbes as a mandate through the people of Liberia saying it’s a result of his work for Africans and others around the world.

Weah said he is grateful to God thanks and the people of Liberia and all those who stood by him in his humanitarian and political sojourn, dedicating the recognition to all Liberians.

He further said he is thanking God for the wisdom and strength in maintaining him standing up and when his people need him most and also thanked Forbes for such recognition especially when the West African state of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are going through Ebola crisis.

Weah’s compatriots

Other on the list include- Moustapha Ben Barka, Mali, one of that country’s emerging political leaders, who was recently named Deputy Secretary General in the Office of the President of the Republic of Mali, Mbwana Alliy of Tanzania- Mention venture capital, technology in Africa and invariably the name Mbwana Alliy comes up. Alliy is the founder and managing partner of Savannah Fund, an Africa-focused technology venture capital that runs both an accelerator and a venture fund that ranges from $25,000 to $500,000 USD in seed capital for early stage high growth technology (mobile and web) startups in sub-Saharan Africa. Alliy is a well-respected in the tech community in Africa; “Through Savannah Fund Alliy has given African startups a real chance. Not only did Savannah Fund invest in us, they also enable us to get to Silicon Valley,” wrote Rodgers Muhadi of Card Planet.

NJ Ayuk, Equatorial Guinea- NJ Ayuk, managing partner at Centurion LLP, a law firm which advises the government of Equatorial Guinea on oil and gas deals and contracts, launched his firm back in 2009 with two other lawyers. The U.S-educated attorney (J.D and M.B.A) was motivated by the tremendous market potential of international businesses and investors interested in doing business on the continent, especially in the energy sector. Under Ayuk’s exceptional leadership, Centurion grew from just two employees to 35 employees and became the largest law firm in Equatorial Guinea. Centurion is said to have signed the highest number of oil and gas deals in Africa. From working as a housekeeper at a hotel and as a server at a fast food restaurant in Germany at the age of 16-years, today Ayuk is one of the continent’s leading African oil and gas lawyers.

Edwin Macharia, Kenya-Recently named a Young Global Leader, class of 2015 by the World Economic Forum, Edwin Macharia came to prominence in his role as Director of Agriculture with the Clinton Foundation where he led partnership-building and operations in agriculture for a $100Million USD initiative focused on effecting holistic development at the grassroot-levels. Currently a partner at Dalberg, based in Nairobi, Kenya, Macharia advises developing countries’ governments, international organizations, and corporations among others on a range of issues including strategy, operational optimization, and program execution.

Simpiwe ‘Sim’ Tshabala, South Africa-One of South Africa’s leading new-generation corporate leaders, Simpiwe “Sim” Tshabalala is joint Chief Executive of the Standard Bank Group and Chief Executive of Standard Bank, South Africa. Co-chair of what is now Africa’s largest bank by market capitalization (R209.4 billion [$20 billion USD]), Tshabalala believes the banking sector can build a more equal and stronger Africa in the next decade. Standard Bank operates in 20 African countries and 8 countries on other continents.

A socially conscious business leader, the Notre Dame and Harvard-educated corporate executive firmly believes that low-income individuals should be given credit; whether to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams or purchase their home.

Oscar Onyema, Nigeria-As a testament to his contributions to the capital markets in Nigeria, in 2014, Oscar Onyema, Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, was made an Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) in “recognition of his contribution to economic development, the transformation of The Nigerian Stock Exchange and the Nigerian capital markets”. With the Nigerian bourse taking a beating in recent months; the total market capitalization of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, valued at 19.08 trillion Naira ($119.41 billion USD) in 2013, dropped to 16.88 trillion Naira ($90.68 billion USD) at the end of 2014, a decrease of 11.53% in Naira terms, Onyema has had to work in overdrive to restore investor confidence in one of Africa’s largest capital markets.

Angolan Diplomatic Mission Analyses Services Standardisation in South Africa

The Angolan Diplomatic Mission and Consulates in South Africa last Friday, in Pretoria, analysed matters related to the standardisation of procedures for visas issuing and supporting the Angolan communities in South Africa.

According to diplomatic sources, this is the first Broad Consular Meeting of the Embassy, which, among other aims, served for the exchange of technical and labour experiences, standardisation of services and actions, as well as to define the co-ordination guidelines for the diplomatic and consular activities of Angola in South Africa.

The meeting – which started last Thursday under the chairwomanship of the extraordinary and plenipotentiary ambassador of Angola to South Africa, Josefina Pitra Diakité – was attended by the general-consuls to Durban, Balduino Bwanga, Cape Town, Apolinário Pereira, and Johannesburg, Joaquim Pombo.

Besides migratory issues and consular assistance to the communities, the meeting also discussed aspects relating to the application of a single system of fees, sharing of information via internet, as well as criminality in South Africa and the situation of Angolan immigrants in illegal situation.

In closing the meeting, the ambassador defended the urgent need for the technicians of the diplomatic mission and consular posts to work together in the implementation of the decisions and recommendations of the gathering.