Sudan: Amidst deaths, injuries, imprisonments, UNICEF stresses children’s protection ‘at all times’

24.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations (UN)

“Children were reportedly killed in ongoing turmoil that broke out last month in Sudan,” Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa, said on Wednesday, noting that “scores of children were also injured and others detained”.

Against the back drop of an “unprecedented hike in the cost of living and shortages in bread and fuel” he said that poverty has increased, “forcing some families into negative measures like taking their children out of school”.

Pointing to information it had received, UNICEF revealed that there has been an uptick in the number of Sudanese children now requiring health and nutrition care, since the anti-Government protests began. 

“While it is difficult for UNICEF to verify these reports, children must be protected at all times from all forms of violence, harm, cruelty and mistreatment whether physical or mental” stressed Mr. Cappelaere.

“UNICEF calls on the authorities in Sudan to prioritize the protection of children and safeguard their rights to education and health in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child” concluded the UNICEF Regional Director.

News agencies have reported that demonstrations against an on-going economic crisis have been taking place across the country on a near-daily basis, since 19 December. Large crowds, including teenagers and demonstrators in their 20s, have been calling for an end to the 30-year rule of President Omar al-Bashir.

There have been reports of many being fired on with tear gas and bullets, and thousands being detained. The UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, expressed alarm at the use of “excessive force” last Thursday.

A Government crackdown against journalists covering the protests is also reportedly underway. At least 26 people are reported to have died, including two security officers.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations (UN).

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European Union and African Union Foreign Ministers take stock of their strong partnership

24.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

European External Action Service (EEAS)

As part of the EU's strengthened partnership with the African Union (AU), Ministers of Foreign Affairs from EU and AU countries met from 21-22 January in Brussels to discuss common action on issues such as peace, security and governance; trade and investment and continental economic integration as well as their commitment to multilateralism

Chaired by the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Rwanda Richard Sezibera, the meeting brought together participants from the 28 EU member states and from the 55 members of the AU.

This ministerial meeting was the first annual inter-Summit EU-AU ministerial meeting. It was an opportunity to take stock of the implementation of the outcome of the 5th AU – EU Summit(Abidjan, 29-30 November 2017), which marked a milestone in reshaping the relationship into an even stronger, mutually beneficial partnership better adapted to a rapidly evolving global context.

“This meeting confirms our common determination to build on our partnership and go towards an even stronger, deeper and more political partnership and friendship between both continents. A partnership that we all, Africans and Europeans alike, see as our shared and vital interest,” High Representative Mogherini said. “This is a partnership that works because we are both committed to it.”

The European Union is Africa's first partner in all sectors: in trade, in aid and investment, in peace and security. “We are above all political partners and this is the real change in nature of our relationship that we have decided to put in place,” High Representative highlighted.

Discussions focused on three main areas of cooperation, the first one being peace, security and governance. As the central pillar of EU – AU partnership, this includes a daily coordination and full support from the EU to the work that the African Union is doing in the continent, Mogherini said.  

Trade, investment and continental economic integration is the area where the countries decided to step up their engagement. Reminding of the Africa-Europe Alliance for [Sustainable] Investment and Jobs, Mogherini noted Africa needed clearly more private investments to create the jobs for the growing youth population. “The European Union will contribute by supporting and de-risking investment concretely through our External Investment Plan, and this goes together with action on the African side that is ongoing to strengthen the business climate.”

The ministers also agreed to work to promote cooperation among the EU and the African Union on the global scene. “The African Union and the European Union are collectively a force that works to shape the global agenda and to strengthen and support effective multilateralism. Together we are 82 countries – we do make a difference in the global context,” High Representative concluded.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of European External Action Service (EEAS).

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Government to host Official Memorial Service for former Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo

24.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information
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Government will hold a memorial service in honour of former Ambassador Dumisani Kumalo, who served as Permanent Representative of South Africa to the United Nations in New York from 1999 to 2009.

The official funeral service will take place on Saturday, 26 January 2019 from 08h30 at Calvary Methodist Church, Harry Galaun Dr & Halfway Gardens, Midrand in Johannesburg.

Members of the media are invited to the memorial service as follows:

Date: Today, 24 January 2019

Time: 10h00 – 12h00

Venue: DIRCO Conference Centre, OR Tambo Building in Pretoria.

Members of the media are expected to arrive no later than 09h30 and must present their valid press cards.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.
Source: Apo-Opa

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls for policies and investments targeting sustainable water use in the Middle East and North Africa

23.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)
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It is imperative to scale up policies and investments in the Middle East and North Africa to make water use in agriculture more sustainable and efficient and to ensure that all the people in the region have access to healthy diets, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.

“Here in the Middle East and North Africa region, water scarcity is certainly one of the main challenges for agriculture production and development,” he told agriculture ministers and private sector representatives at the Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Investment Forum in Oman.

The region has some of the lowest levels of freshwater in the world, and these mainly underground, non-renewable stocks are being depleted. Freshwater has reduced by 60 percent in the last four decades and is expected to fall a further 50 percent by 2050. Agriculture accounts for 85 percent of the water use, and it will likely be the hardest hit by further shortages.

Graziano da Silva also urged governments and private sector representatives to take action to transform food systems in a way that allows people to consume fresher, healthier and more nutritious food, warning about the rising level of overweight and obesity malnutrition.

“About 2 billion people in the world are overweight nowadays. Out of them 670 million are obese adults. This is about one out of 8 adults is obese. Here in this region, the proportion of obese adults is even higher about 30 percent – that means one out of 3 are obese. The growing rates of obesity is happening at a huge socio-economic cost,” said Graziano da Silva.

Obesity and overweight are on the rise as the current food systems have made processed and industrialized food – high in fat, sugar, salt and chemical additives – more available and accessible.

This is particularly worrisome when countries have an excessive dependency on food imports as is the case in the region.

“Promoting the consumption of fish is another way of tackling malnutrition, as well as of promoting economic growth and alleviating poverty,” added Graziano da Silva.

Growing more with less

FAO believes that saving water is not only a good practice, it might soon have to be the only practice.

Integrated Aquaculture Agriculture (IAA) is one way of saving water, and producing more with less.

Aquaponics is an example of such IAA that combines aquaculture, the practice of fish or aquatic animal farming, and hydroponics, the cultivation of plants in water without soil. This means that water is used both for raising fish and growing crops.

Farms using the aquaponics system can reduce water consumption by 90 percent compared to traditional agriculture.

Aquaponics farms are offering products, like tilapia in Oman and Egypt, and North African catfish in Algeria to local populations, encouraging the consumption of a source of protein that is not traditionally known in their diets.

Aquaponics is also a workable agricultural solution for the region where water isn’t the only challenge; there are also shortages of good quality soil. Of the region’s total land area suited for agriculture, 45 percent of it faces high salinity, depleted nutrients and problems of erosion.

Aquaponics enables the region to grow vegetables, fruits and other food in inhospitable or non-useable lands, providing its population with locally-produced foods that give them the protein and minerals they need, but without the intensive use of water.

FAO has been one of the first agencies to look at aquaculture in desert and arid lands, and investigate the most suitable solutions to water scarcity, soil degradation and food security, such as IAA and aquaponics.

In Oman, FAO works to strengthen the agriculture and fisheries sectors to be more efficient, profitable and sustainable while empowering communities and promoting social inclusion in economic activities. This includes creating an enabling institutional environment for agriculture, fisheries, and rural development to enable the successful implementation of policies, and to stimulate investments.

On the sidelines of the forum, FAO signed a letter of intent with Oman’s Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and public and private sector partners to support the country’s increase of investments in agriculture and fisheries, with focus on strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises’ capacities for sustainable apiculture value chain.

FAO’s support to fisheries

FAO plays a leading role in international fisheries policy, and works with governments, regional fisheries bodies, cooperatives, fishing communities and other partners to promote sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, and ensure their growth.

This includes the implementation of the Blue Growth Initiative, the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA).

To date, only four countries (Libya, Mauritania, Oman and Sudan) from the Middle East and North Africa Region are part of the Port State Measures Agreement.

At the forum, FAO’s Director-General urged all countries around the world to be part of the Agreement, and called upon the leadership of Oman – the only country of the Gulf to have joint the Agreement – to work closely with FAO “to ensure that all countries of the Gulf follow their good example and join the Port State Measure Agreement”.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Source: Apo-Opa

U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie S. Sullivan Presents Credentials to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

23.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Embassy of the United States - Accra - Ghana
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The new U.S. Ambassador to Ghana, Stephanie S. Sullivan, presented her credentials to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and has taken up her duties as Ambassador.

Speaking from the ceremony at Jubilee House, Ambassador Sullivan thanked President Akufo-Addo for the warm welcome to Ghana and highlighted the U.S. – Ghana partnership focused on advancing economic growth and trade, strengthening regional security, and improving governance.  Ambassador Sullivan expressed her commitment on behalf of the U.S. government to support Ghana's journey away from dependence on traditional development assistance, in line with President Akufo-Addo’s vision of an increasingly self-reliant “Ghana Beyond Aid.” 

Ambassador Sullivan underscored the long-standing ties between the United States and Ghana, highlighting a relationship that goes beyond policy, and spans across families and friendships forged through cooperation and exchanges dating back to Ghana’s independence in 1957, and before.     

Stephanie S. Sullivan, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister Counselor was sworn in as U.S. Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Ghana on November 30, 2018.  She formerly served as Ambassador to the Republic of Congo (2013-2017).  Ms. Sullivan has spent half of her 32-year career in the Foreign Service working in Africa or on Africa policy in Washington, D.C. 

Most recently, she was the Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. after having been Deputy Assistant Secretary for Central African Affairs and Security Affairs from January to August 2017.
 
This is Ambassador Sullivan’s second tour in Ghana.  She previously served as the Political Chief at U.S. Embassy Accra from 1997-2001.  Ms. Sullivan is very pleased to be back in Ghana.  She and her husband John Sullivan have fond memories of living in Ghana with their two sons.  Ambassador Sullivan’s early experiences in Africa were with the Peace Corps, serving as a volunteer in the Democratic Republic of Congo (1980-1983) and later as Peace Corps Chief of Operations for the Africa Region from 1994-96 in Washington, D.C.   

Ambassador Sullivan graduated from Brown University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classics and from the National War College with a Master of Science in National Security Strategy.  She speaks French, Lingala, and some Spanish.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the United States – Accra – Ghana.
Source: Apo-Opa

Experts caution against stagnation of immunization coverage in Africa

23.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

WHO Regional Office for Africa
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Global immunization experts attending the biannual Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group (RITAG) meeting urged African countries to strengthen their routine immunization. Over the past five years, immunization coverage in sub-Saharan Africa has stagnated at 72%, exposing populations to vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks.

The immunization experts also emphasized the importance of increased domestic investment in disease surveillance and the need for community engagement to drive vaccine deployment during outbreaks.

“The regional experts’ meeting presented a unique opportunity to assess current and future immunization needs in Africa,” said RITAG Chair, Professor Helen Rees. “We have mapped out what can and must be done to secure the future of millions of children on this continent.”

In sub-Saharan Africa, nearly 31 million children younger than 5 years suffer from vaccine-preventable diseases every year. More than a half million of them die due to lack of access to the vaccines they needed.

In 2017, Heads of State from across Africa endorsed the Addis Declaration on Immunization, a historic pledge that envisions an Africa in which every child, no matter their economic circumstances, has access to vaccines.

This year, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa, in partnership with the African Union Commission, will launch a progress report on the implementation status of the 10  commitments outlined in the Addis Declaration. The report will take stock of progress made over the past two years, highlight gaps and issue recommendations to guide progress towards stronger immunization systems.

“By vaccinating children, we are doing more than preventing diseases and saving lives. We are also ensuring that children get the education they deserve and returning valuable time to their families because they no longer need to make long hospital visits. Vaccinations also release scarce government funds,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa.

According to WHO data, illness and deaths due to vaccine-preventable diseases cost sub-Saharan Africa US$13 billion each year – funding that could be channelled towards strengthening health systems and building economies. 

The immunization experts gathered in Brazzaville also discussed a range of pressing issues, including the ongoing Ebola outbreak, polio eradication and progress against the Regional Strategic Plan for Immunization.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo is grappling with the second-largest Ebola outbreak in history, with more than 650 confirmed cases so far. Despite challenges in reaching areas marred by long-term conflict, nearly 60 000 people have been vaccinated, including approximately 20 000 health workers and front-line workers. The country’s Ministry of Health has launched its first randomized control trial for experimental Ebola treatments. However, continued efforts are necessary to ensure the outbreak is contained.

In contrast, other diseases, such as polio, are on the brink of eradication. The last case of wild poliovirus in Africa was reported in August 2016 in the north-eastern state of Borno, Nigeria. If no new cases of wild poliovirus are detected in Nigeria by August 2019, Africa will attain the wild poliovirus eradication goal.

As the world nears polio eradication, funds for fighting the disease are declining. Between 2016 and 2019, the Global Polio Eradication Initiative budget more than halved, from US$ 322 million to US$ 153 million. That initiative provides more than 90% of all funding for disease surveillance in sub-Saharan Africa, including 16 polio-funded laboratories that process clinical and environmental samples for acute flaccid paralysis surveillance (used for detecting poliomyelitis) and other vaccine-preventable diseases, such as yellow fever and measles.

The Regional Immunization Technical Advisory Group emphasized the need for greater government ownership of disease surveillance programmes to ensure that the progress made in curbing vaccine-preventable diseases is not reversed.

“The fact that most sub-Saharan African countries continue to rely on external funding for immunization financing is a strong indicator of the work that remains to be done,” said Dr Richard Mihigo, Programme Manager for Immunization and Vaccine Development at the WHO Regional Office for Africa. “Governments have a central role to play to fill upcoming funding gaps and ensure immunization programmes remain strong and vigilant.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of WHO Regional Office for Africa.
Source: Apo-Opa

Committee urges Young Voters to register to vote

23.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Republic of South Africa: The Parliament
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The Chairperson of Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Mr Hlomani Chauke, has urged all South Africans to take advantage of the last registration weekend provided by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) to register to vote in the upcoming national and provincial elections.

The call has been emphasised especially for young South Africans who have historically shown apathy to voting, to register to ensure participation in the elections. “The right to vote is enshrined in the Constitution and many people have fought, even died, to ensure that all South Africans participate in the democratic project of the country. This reason alone should be encouragement enough for people to vote,” said Mr Chauke.

The committee emphasised that for democracy to work, it requires regular and full participation by all eligible voters. “This is a primary civic duty that all adults must perform and is central in strengthening the constitutional order of the country,” Mr Chauke emphasised.

This voter registration weekend also provides the electorate and the IEC the opportunity to update the voters’ roll and bring it in line with the Constitutional Court ruling in relation to addresses on the roll. “We therefore call for those voters that are already registered to update their addresses on the roll,” Mr Chauke emphasised.

In line with this, the committee urges the Department of Home Affairs to consider extending operating hours for this coming weekend to enable people to pick up their Identity Documents that will enable them to register to vote.

The committee will within the next term engage the IEC on its preparedness to deliver credible elections as expected. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.
Source: Apo-Opa

Committee Chairperson outlines process of filling eight vacancies on South African Broadcasting Corporations Board (SABC)

23.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Republic of South Africa: The Parliament
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The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Communications, Prof Hlengiwe Mkhize, has outlined the process of filling the eight vacant positions at the board of the South African Broadcasting Corporations (SABC).

She outlined the conventional process to be followed in order to fill vacancies at the board of SABC and other entities under the Department of Communications as follows:

  • Upon receipt of the declaration of a vacancy from the President via the Office of the Speaker, the committee will deliberate and decide on the date at which advertisement of the vacancy should be published.
  • Applications from members of the public are directed to the secretary of the committee, until the set deadline.
  • The committee secretary captures all applications, summarised CVs (curricula vitae), print and prepare packages for members of the committee.
  • The committee then shortlists and conducts interviews and recommends successful candidates to the National Assembly for adoption.
  • The adopted names of successful candidates are forwarded to the President for appointment.

Prof Mkhize wishes to draw the attention of the public to the fact that the committee has initiated the process of filling the eight SABC board vacancies during the festive period and closing date for applications was 21 December 2018, at which the institution was closed for the festive holidays.

The process of capturing and compiling abridged version of all CVs only commenced on the third week of January 2019. Prof Mkhize said members of the committee will, upon receipt of all summarised CVs, reconvene at the earliest convenient date to shortlist and conduct interviews.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.
Source: Apo-Opa

Equatorial Guinea: Ophir Energy denied Fortuna block license extension

23.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea
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Block R has been returned to the State; The Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons welcomes further investment in hydrocarbon sector opportunities, recognizes Ophir’s commitment in Equatorial Guinea.

Equatorial Guinea’s Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons has confirmed that no further extension has been granted to Ophir’s Block R production sharing contract.

The Ministry issued a notice informing the London-based company of its decision in December, after Ophir’s exploration license expired. As a result, Ophir is no longer operator of the block, which has now returned to the State.

“The Ministry recognizes and strongly appreciates the commitment of Ophir in its exploration activities in Equatorial Guinea and welcomes further investment in appropriate opportunities in the hydrocarbon sector,” Said H.E Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima.

The Ministry commends the Ophir’s exploration efforts in the Block R license, which contains six commercial discoveries.

Ophir’s work program began in 2008 and three exploration wells resulted in the Fortuna and Lykos discoveries. The company planned to install a floating liquefied natural gas plant, named Fortuna FLNG, on the block, pending investment in the project. Floating LNG has emerged as a template for developing offshore gas in a well-supplied global gas market.

Covering an area of approximately 2,450 km², Block R is located in Distal Niger Delta, approximately 140 km off the coast of Bioko Island, in water depths ranging from 600 m to 1,950 m.

It is estimated to hold 3.4 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of recoverable gas reserves, of which the Fortuna field accounts for approximately 1.3TCF, the Silenus Complex holds approximately 1.2TCF, the Tonal discovery holds about 0.5TCF and the other smaller discoveries together hold 0.4TCF.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Equatorial Guinea.

Media Inquiries:  
Oscar G. Berniko
oscar.berniko@gmail.com 
+240 222 552 371

Source: Apo-Opa

YPO to Host Largest Annual Gathering of Global CEOs in Cape Town, South Africa, 6-7 March 2019

23.January.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

YPO

YPO (https://www.YPO.org), the premier leadership organization for chief executives in the world, will host more than 2,000 business leaders at YPO EDGE in Cape Town, South Africa, 6-7 March 2019. YPO EDGE is YPO’s annual showcase of thought leadership and innovation, bringing together visionaries, talented leaders, subject matter experts and unique voices from around the world to engage and inspire all that attend this invitation-only event. 

“Cape Town is the ideal host city for YPO EDGE,” said Paul Berman, YPO member and Host City Chair. “The city is a renowned gateway to the worlds of business, technology, culture and innovation, and we are delighted for this opportunity to showcase all that the city has to offer to the talented group of global leaders who will be attending this premier event. YPO EDGE presents a very tangible way to showcase our country and the exciting future we have ahead of us to some of the world’s most influential business leaders.” 

During a time of radical economic, technological, and societal change, leadership methods are being redefined and retooled to adapt for the future. The theme of this year’s YPO EDGE, Life of RE_, aims to provide opportunities, support and inspiration for young leaders as they reinvent themselves and their industries. 

“For two remarkable days, YPO members will lean forward into the future and get connected to new ideas and fresh perspectives,” said YPO CEO Scott Mordell. “We are so looking forward to hosting these extraordinary global leaders in the wonderful city of Cape Town.” 

From business sustainability to food scarcity solutions, YPO EDGE will feature many hot topics and brilliant minds including 

• Massimo Bottura Top chef in the world and fighting food waste. 

• Stephen Ibaraki Chairman REDDS Capital, Founder UN ITU AI for Good 

• Anne-Marie Imafidon Co-founder STEMettes 

• Dr. Vivienne Ming Co-Founder, Socos Labs 

• Trevor Noah Comedian, Author, Host of “The Daily Show” 

• Meik Wiking Founder and CEO, The Happiness Research Institute 

• Mary Mazzio CEO, 50 Eggs Films 

• Carlo Ratti Director, MIT Senseable City Lab and Founding Partner, Carlo Ratti Associati 

• Carlo Rovelli Physicist & Author, The Order of Time 

• Andria Zafirakou Winner of the Global Teaching Prize

• Manoush Zomorodi Co-Founder, Stable Genius Productions 

After the event, YPO will create a real-world example of the Life of Re_ as it plans to repurpose structural elements from the event to be donated to community projects in Langa, historically known as Cape Town’s oldest township. 

“We are purposefully reinvesting in the local community as a way to thank our host city,” added YPO EDGE Chair Ravi Naidoo. “We hope this important initiative will have both a positive impact and a lasting legacy on Langa long after the grateful leaders of YPO have left our shores.” 

Beverley Schäfer, Minister of Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape said: “We are delighted to be hosting the YPO EDGE delegates in Cape Town this year. The conference will give us an opportunity to showcase Cape Town and the rest of our province as a tourism, events and investment destination to a network of chief executives and thought leaders from around the globe. As a province, our focus has been on growing an economy for the future with a focus on tech, innovation and the green economy. This year’s theme of the Life of Re_ is perfectly aligned to our focus on reskilling, redefining and recycling, and I believe the YPO delegates will find a lot to be excited about here.” 

Paul Berman further shares, “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to present South Africa to this group of business leaders and demonstrate, after a period of adverse international publicity, how we are overcoming our challenges. We have a chance to show that we are a nation at one, committed to work, to build, to change and to progress.” 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of YPO.

YPO Media Contacts: 
Natalie Naude
 nnaude@ypo.org
+27836410429 (South Africa) 

Amy Reid
 areid@ypo.org
+1 646 678 0575 (United States) 

Serena Marchionni
 smarchionni@ypo.org
+34 699 903 472 (Europe) 

Vickie Tikam
 vtikam@ypo.org
+60 012 331 7411 (Asia)

About YPO: 
YPO (https://www.YPO.org) is the premier global leadership organization for more than 27,000 chief executives in over 130 countries and the global platform for them to engage, learn and grow. YPO members harness the knowledge, influence and trust of the world’s most influential and innovative business leaders to inspire business, personal, family and community impact. 

Today, YPO member-run companies, diversified among industries and types of businesses, employ more than 22 million people globally and generate USD9 trillion in annual revenues. For more information, visit ypo.org.

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Source: Apo-Opa