Earth Finds

Earth Finds

Comedy Settles In At Speke Hotel’s Rock Bar & Grill

With a lineup of the leading comedians in the country, Rock Comedy happening every Tuesday at Speke Hotel’s Rock Bar & Grill has steadily become the home of comedy in Kampala and Uganda at large.

Every Tuesday, the country’s best comedy acts queue up to perform at Rock Comedy and last Tuesday, it was not any different. The night kicked off early with a number of musicians taking to the stage with an assortment of some the world’s best music renditions.

Witih a line up of comedians MC Mariachi Comedian, Musiimenta Ronnie McVex, The Talkers, Snake and Zolo, Jajja Wasswa, and the Magician and host Kasuku from Spark TV, Rock Bar cracked up in laughter as the picture below suggest.

Photos: When Speke Resort Hosted Ginuwine

Speke Resort Munyonyo offered music lovers an early Christmas when it hosted celebrated American RnB singer Ginuwine, real names Elgin Baylor Lumpkin, at the Johnnie Walker Soul Safari concert, on 1st December, 2018.

Like many events that are organized and hosted at Speke Resort, Ginuwine’s concert was a master piece and will go down in history as one of the most amazing music show to grace Ugandan entertainment industry.

Before Ginuwine hit the stage, Ugandan artistes like Maurice Kirya, Meddy, Naava Grey, Aziz Azion, Kenneth Mugabi and Tonya Michelle Ahenda entertained revelers many of whom are 90s kids and well understood Ginuwine’s music and songs. Below are some of the photos captured.

Huge Desert Solar Initiative To Make Africa A Renewables Power-House

The details of the "Desert to Power Initiative" have been outlined as part of the Paris Agreement climate change talks at COP24 in Katowice, Poland this week. Energy poverty in Africa is estimated to cost the continent 2-4 % GDP annually, according to the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is leading the project.

The Initiative aims to develop and provide 10 GW of solar energy by 2025 and supply 250 million people with green electricity including in some of the world's poorest countries. At least 90 million people will be connected to electricity for the first time, lifting them out of energy poverty.

Currently, 64% of the Sahel's population - covering Senegal, Nigeria, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Sudan, and Eritrea - lives without electricity, a major barrier to development, with consequences for education, health and business.

By harnessing the exceptional solar resource in the region, AfDB and its partners hope to transform the region.

Magdalena J. Seol in the AfDB's Desert to Power Initiative said: "Energy is the foundation of human living - our entire system depends on it. For Africa right now, providing and securing sustainable energy is in the backbone of its economic growth."  "A lack of energy remains as a significant impediment to Africa's economic and social development."

The project will provide many benefits to local people, said Ms Seol: It will improve the affordability of electricity for low income households and enable people to transition away from unsafe and hazardous energy sources, such as kerosene, which carry health risks.

Construction of the  project will also create jobs and help attract private sector involvement in renewable energy in the region.  Many women-led businesses currently face bigger barriers than men-led enterprises to accessing grid electricity - so the project has the potential to increase female participation in economic activities and decision-making processes.

The project has been launched in collaboration with the Green Climate Fund, a global pot of money created by the 194 countries who are party to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to support developing countries adapt to and mitigate climate change. The program is designed to combine private sector capital with blended finance.

"If you look at the countries that this initiative supports, they're the ones who are very much affected by the climate change and carbon emissions from other parts of the world," said Ms Seol.

"Given this, the investments will have a greater effect in these regions, which have a greater demand and market opportunity in the energy sector."

"Women are usually disproportionately negatively affected by energy access issues. Providing a secure and sustainable electricity creates positive impact on gender issue as well."

The African continent holds 15% of the world's population, yet is poised to shoulder nearly 50% of the estimated global climate change adaptation costs, according to the Bank.

These costs are expected to cut across health, water supply, agriculture, and forestry, despite the continent's minimal contribution to global emissions.

However, the International Renewable Energy Agency estimates that Africa's renewable energy potential could put it at the forefront of green energy production globally.

It is estimated to have an almost unlimited potential of solar capacity (10 TW), abundant hydro (350 GW), wind (110 GW), and geothermal energy sources (15 GW) - and a potential overall renewable energy capacity of 310 GW by 2030.

Other renewables projects in Africa include The Ouarzazate solar complex in Morocco, which is one of the largest concentrated solar plants in the world.

It has produced over 814 GWh of clean energy since 2016 and last year, the solar plant prevented 217,000 tons of CO2 being emitted. Until recently, Morocco sourced 95% of its energy needs from external sources

In South Africa, the Bank and its partner, the Climate Investment Fund, have helped fund the Sere Wind Farm -  46 turbines supplying 100 MW to the national power grid and expected to save 6 million tonnes of greenhouse gases over its 20 year expected life span. It is supplying 124,000 homes.

COP24 is the 24th conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). This year countries are preparing to implement the Paris Agreement, which aims to limit the world's global warming to no more than 2C.

  • Published in Energy
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Chinese Energy Conglomerate Convicted of International Bribery

A federal jury in New York City today convicted the head of a nongovernmental organization (NGO) based in Hong Kong and Virginia on seven counts for his participation in a multi-year, multimillion-dollar scheme to bribe top officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for a Chinese oil and gas company, announced Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department's Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York.

Chi Ping Patrick Ho, aka "Patrick C.P. Ho," aka "He Zhiping," 69, of Hong Kong, China, was found guilty today after a one-week jury trial before U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska in the Southern District of New York of one count of conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), four counts of violating the FCPA, one count of conspiring to commit international money laundering and one count of committing international money laundering.  Ho is scheduled to be sentenced before Judge Preska on March 14, 2019, at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

"Patrick Ho paid millions of dollars in bribes to the leaders of two African countries to secure contracts for a Chinese conglomerate," said Assistant Attorney General Benczkowski.  "Today's trial conviction demonstrates the Criminal Division's commitment to prosecuting those who seek to utilize our financial system to secure unfair competition advantages through corruption and bribery."

"Patrick Ho now stands convicted of scheming to pay millions in bribes to foreign leaders in Chad and Uganda, all as part of his efforts to corruptly secure unfair business advantages for a multibillion-dollar Chinese energy company," said U.S. Attorney Berman.  "As the jury's verdict makes clear, Ho's repeated attempts to corrupt foreign leaders were not business as usual, but criminal efforts to undermine the fairness of international markets and erode the public's faith in its leaders."

According to evidence presented at trial, Ho was involved in two bribery schemes to pay top officials of Chad and Uganda in exchange for business advantages for CEFC China, a Shanghai-based multibillion-dollar conglomerate that operates internationally in multiple sectors, including oil, gas, and banking. 

At the center of both schemes was Ho, the head of a nongovernmental organization based in Hong Kong and Arlington, Virginia, the China Energy Fund Committee (the "CEFC NGO"), which held "Special Consultative Status" with the United Nations (UN) Economic and Social Council.  CEFC NGO was funded by CEFC China.

According to the evidence presented at trial, in the first scheme (the "Chad Scheme"), Ho, on behalf of CEFC China, offered a $2 million cash bribe, hidden within gift boxes, to Idriss Déby, the President of Chad, in an effort to obtain valuable oil rights from the Chadian government.  In the second scheme (the "Uganda Scheme"), Ho caused a $500,000 bribe to be paid, via wires transmitted through New York, New York, to an account designated by Sam Kutesa, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda, who had recently completed his term as the President of the UN General Assembly.  Ho also schemed to pay a $500,000 cash bribe to Yoweri Museveni, the President of Uganda, and offered to provide both Kutesa and Museveni with additional corrupt benefits by "partnering" with them in future joint ventures in Uganda.

The Chad Scheme

According to the evidence presented at trial, the Chad Scheme began in or about September 2014 when Ho flew into New York, New York to attend the annual UN General Assembly.  At that time, CEFC China was working to expand its operations to Chad and wanted to meet with President Déby as quickly as possible.  Through a connection, Ho was introduced to Cheikh Gadio, the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Senegal, who had a personal relationship with President Déby.  Ho and Gadio met in midtown Manhattan, New York where Ho enlisted Gadio to assist CEFC China in obtaining access to President Déby.

Gadio connected Ho and CEFC China to President Déby.  In an initial meeting in Chad in November 2014, President Déby described to Ho and CEFC China executives certain lucrative oil rights that were available for CEFC China to acquire.  Following that meeting, Gadio advised Ho and CEFC China to send a technical team to Chad to investigate the oil rights and make an offer to President Déby.  Instead, Ho insisted on a prompt second meeting with the President.  The second meeting took place a few weeks later, in December 2014.  Ho led a CEFC China delegation, which flew into Chad on a corporate jet with $2 million cash concealed within several gift boxes.  At the conclusion of a business meeting with President Déby, Ho and the CEFC China executives presented President Déby with the gift boxes.

To the surprise of Ho and the CEFC China executives, President Déby rejected the $2 million bribe offer.  Ho subsequently drafted a letter to President Déby claiming that the cash had been intended as a donation to Chad.  Ultimately, Ho and CEFC China did not obtain the unfair advantage that they had sought through the bribe offer, and by mid-2015, Ho had turned his attention to a different "gateway to Africa": Uganda.

The Uganda Scheme

According to the evidence presented at trial, the Uganda Scheme began around the same time as the Chad Scheme, when Ho was in New York, New York for the annual UN General Assembly.  Ho met with Sam Kutesa, who had recently begun his term as the 69th President of the UN General Assembly ("PGA").  Ho, purporting to act on behalf of CEFC NGO, met with Kutesa and began to cultivate a relationship with him.  During the year that Kutesa served as PGA, Ho and Kutesa discussed a "strategic partnership" between Uganda and CEFC China for various business ventures, to be formed once Kutesa completed his term as PGA and returned to Uganda.

In or about February 2016 – after Kutesa had returned to Uganda and resumed his role as Foreign Minister, and Yoweri Museveni (Kutesa's relative) had been reelected as the President of Uganda – Kutesa solicited a payment from Ho, purportedly for a charitable foundation that Kutesa wished to launch.  Ho agreed to provide the requested payment, but simultaneously requested, on behalf of CEFC China, an invitation to Museveni's inauguration, business meetings with President Museveni and other high-level Ugandan officials, and a list of specific business projects in Uganda that CEFC China could participate in.

In May 2016, Ho and CEFC China executives traveled to Uganda.  Prior to departing, Ho caused the CEFC NGO to wire $500,000 to the account provided by Kutesa in the name of the so-called "foundation," which wire was transmitted through banks in New York, New York.  Ho also advised his boss, the Chairman of CEFC China, to provide $500,000 in cash to President Museveni, ostensibly as a campaign donation, even though Museveni had already been reelected.  Ho intended these payments as bribes to influence Kutesa and Museveni to use their official power to steer business advantages to CEFC China.

Ho and CEFC China executives attended President Museveni's inauguration and obtained business meetings in Uganda with President Museveni and top Ugandan officials, including at the Department of Energy and Mineral Resources.  After the trip, Ho requested that Kutesa and Museveni assist CEFC China in acquiring a Ugandan bank, as an initial step before pursuing additional ventures in Uganda.  Ho also explicitly offered to "partner" with Kutesa and Museveni and/or their "family businesses," making clear that both officials would share in CEFC China's future profits.  In exchange for the bribes offered and paid by Ho, Kutesa thereafter steered a bank acquisition opportunity to CEFC China.

This case was investigated by the FBI and IRS-CI.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's Homeland Security Investigations and the Department of Justice, Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs provided assistance.

Trial Attorney Paul A. Hayden of the Criminal Division's Fraud Section, FCPA Unit and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Douglas S. Zolkind, Daniel C. Richenthal and Catherine E. Ghosh of the U.S. Attorney's Office for Southern District of New York's Public Corruption Unit and the Criminal Division's Fraud Section are prosecuting the case.

  • Published in World
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