Sierra Leone:TRC Report Recommends New Constitution
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The current constitution of Sierra Leone came into force in 1991 and ushered in multi-party democracy in the country but today, many human rights, and rights groups including the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Report underscored the need for a new constitution in an appropriate time adding that parliament consider the creation of one.
“The Commission is of the considered view that it is an appropriate time for Sierra Leone to formulate a new Constitution. The Commission accordingly recommends that Parliament seriously consider the creation of a new constitution for Sierra Leone,’’ TRC Recommendation No. 123.
The reason for the need for a new constitution according to TRC was very clear that, the 1991 constitution wasn’t a participatory process stating that a constitution ought to be the foundation and basis of the society desired by the people.
“The 1991 Constitution that is currently in force was not the product of a wide participatory process,’’ recommendation No. 120.
In July 2013, former President Ernest Bai Koroma launched the Constitutional Review Process (CRC) in order to review the 1991 constitution but ended up not seeing the light of it reviewed implemented despite the millions of dollars spent by donor and international communities for this process to go on as recommended in the TRC Report in 2004.
Lack of good governance, abuse of power, and a blatant disrespect for human rights, greed, and endemic corruption were among the causes of the country’s 11-year civil war, the conflict saw a total breakdown of law and order, dismantling of democratic institutions and culture and cost many lives, leaving a lasting impact and legacy on the lives of citizens of the Former British Colony.
The causes of the war, recommendations and its findings were catalogued in the report starting from the issue’s about good governance, human rights, democratic institutions, youths, the constitution among others were areas looked into in the report and highlighted many imperative actions to be taken by the government.
Executive Director of the Rights based Group, Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) Abdul M. Fatorma,
said that there is need for a review of the constitution in the country adding that the 1991 constitution have several sections that discriminates the fundamental human rights of citizens like freedom of association, assembly and movement among other rights.
“we have not yet reviewed the bad laws the TRC asked us to review, we have not yet separated our political party, the TRC made recommendation for more inclusive of young people into leadership position and party leadership. we are yet to see that instead of they create a wing, young generation, Youth League, women’s wing, instead of opening the space that a young man of a responsible age can compete,’’ he said.
He added that laws like the Criminal procedures Act which is still under review is that the law does not make fair provision for accused persons adding that it’s an infringement of the fundamental human rights of an individual.
“The law doesn’t make fair provision for accused persons it’s an infringement of human rights, the public order Act, certain provisions if I held a procession today, the police have the right to stop that procession, if I am playing a football match, the police have a right to put a stop to that football match if they think it constitute public disorder. That’s not a law for democracy that a law for a monarch system or dictator system,’’ Fatorma lamented.
Accordingly, the commission believes that the building of a new constitution, requires hard work, the fruits of which will not be necessarily be enjoyed by this generation but even generations yet unborn. This like other recommendations for the need of a new constitution about its positive impact have been underscored by many international and national rights groups notably Amnesty International, Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law, AdvocAid to name a few on the benefits of a new constitution.
“The decision to build a new Constitution and to act in accordance thereof requires the taking of a long-term view by Sierra Leone’s Parliament and its people. It requires arduous work, the fruits of which will not necessarily be enjoyed by this generation. This generation, which experienced the worst of times, will however leave a gift for future generations. There can be no better legacy to bequeath than the construction of the foundations of society that provide lasting peace and prosperity,’’ TRC recommendation No 126
However, more than ten years since this recommendation was put forward by the TRC this important step hasn’t been realised, with even the new president Julius Maada Bio part of his campaign promises to look into the review process and those recommendations presented by Justice Cowan in 2016.
Mr. Fatorma emphasized that there was as well the need to strengthened our democratic institutions and to make them independent taking politics off those institutions citing the importance of the criminal justice system, which includes the police, court and the correctional service.
“Participating in governance issues, is a law issue, so if I am equal before the law including the electoral law, why am I segregated, unlikable 30% has been chosen and If I think I am the capable one, just because they have the 30 number, I will be excluded but if the space is open for all, to participate and I fulfil the criteria then I am equal to the man, I am equal to the woman, we need to bring laws that progress the state,’’ the CHRDI boss emphasized.
Delay on Court trials still a challenge in Sierra Leone
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
Delay in court trials greatly affects the dispensation of justice, the judiciary is an arbiter of justice and solace for citizens whose right may have been trampled upon either by the state or private individual. The criminal justice system of any nation is a key drivel to enabling justice and harbouring peace and national cohesion. Without a just and independent judiciary there will be no peace and as a nation that has experienced one of the worst civil wars in the world’s community of nations, lack of trust in the independence of the judiciary and other challenges created a mistrust for citizens not to trust their judicial systems in Sierra Leone.
Among the many factors that fuel the civil conflict in the country was lack of respect for human rights, lack of justice on the part of the judiciary, endemic greed, poverty to name a few. Even with the end of the war in 2002 there remains a huge challenge in the full dispensation of justice, delay in court trials, lack of justice and widespread corruption allegation within the justice sector are yet to be wipe off and still remain a challenge. The causes for delay in court proceedings are limited court structures, in adequate number of judicial officers, absence of jurors, absence of prosecutors to name a few.
The findings in respect of the judiciary are very clear as seen in recommendation N0. 414 of the TRC Report stated that Lawyers and jurists have failed to stand up to the systematic violation of the rights of the people.
“Corruption is rife at all levels of the judiciary. There is little or no meaningful access to the courts for the majority of Sierra Leoneans,’’ TRC Recommendation No 418.
The commission further found that lawyers and judges failed to stood up to state tyranny adding that they failed to give meaningful content to the rule of law (TRC Report 420 pg. Vol 2)
According to the TRC Report in particular, the Commission highlights in its recommendations No. 39 in respect of the independence of the judiciary,the role of parliamentand the holding of free and fair elections in the country.
“The Commission found that, prior to the start of the conflict, government accountability was non-existent. It concluded that democracy and the rule of law were dead. The Commission accordingly makes recommendations to strengthen democracy and institutions of accountability,’’ TRC report recommendation 39.
The instances are many with court trials that has been before the courts some for over ten years or more from land cases, petition cases, human rights cases, criminal and civil matters to name a few. Many believed that as a country we haven’t learn much from the brutal experience we went through as a nation on what causes the war. Rights groups and civil society organisations like the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL), Campaign for Human Rights and Development International (CHRDI) have called on the government to introduce reforms in the judiciary in addition to improving funding to the sector as it is critical to lasting peace as nation that is referred to as a fledgling democracy.
In 2018, Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden and Dr. Samura Kamara filed a petition challenging the pronouncement of Julius Maada Bio as President of Sierra Leone, the petition was heard for the first time after almost two years on December 3rd, 2020.
Head of Communications in the Judiciary of Sierra Leone, Elkass Sannoh said on the challenges of the judiciary that they do not have enough judges and Magistrates in every parts of the country adding that as a judiciary they have recently recruited magistrates and judges to help boost speedy trials across the country.
“we recently promoted three appeal courts judges, and recruit seven new judges in the High Court. These judicial officers go to places as far as Karene, Kailahun and other places were there has never been a judge. We want the judiciary to be very much transparent and accountable, now part of this reforms we have created the sexual offences model court to speedily try rape and sexual gender-based violence cases, Industrial and social security of the high court. Including the Anti-corruption division of the High Court,’’ he said.
“For the first time in the history of Sierra Leone, the judiciary has introduced a virtual court system so as to digitalized the judiciary we have got a situation where in when we piloted the virtual court, a judge can sit here and some who is witness living in the US can have the opportunity of giving live witness in a live court session, an inmate can be in the prison can testify in a matter. All this is done in order to enhance expeditious trials because we wanted justice to people’s door step. We are rebranding the judiciary,’’
Head of Police Media, Supt. Brima Kamara said that the delay in the dispensation of justice sometimes happened as a result of the fact that too many files are taken to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions sometimes again so many files are taken to the regional crime officer or to the Legal and Justice department of the Sierra Leone Police.
“The criminal justice has a tripartite arrangement, we have the police who are the frontline, after the police, you talk about the judiciary they interpret the law and then you talk about the correctional service. Everyone has his part to play. For us during investigation we have to do our work very well and if we don’t do it very well, we would not be able to help the judiciary,’’ he said, adding that in the case of land issues, they will have to write the Ministry of Lands which will sometimes takes longer thus they wouldn’t just charge the matter to court if they haven’t done all the things necessary.
For Pa Sorie Sesay he has been battling with the court for almost five years now to get justice for his 16-year- old son who was allegedly murdered in 2016 stating that since the inception of the matter from the Magistrate Court up to the High Court there has been no head way.
“This case has affected me so much that, since the inception of the matter at the magistrate court up to the high court there have been no head way, all the accused that allegedly murdered my 16-year-old son have been granted bail and that has affected has family so much,’’ he said in a tear.
He added that the boy was his only son and since his death things have not been with him anymore and the family hoping that the court will give his late son justice, although the matter has been in court for a while.
“I hope at the end of the matter they will give my son justice, I hope to God thejury will grant my son justice, because some people do not have God in their heart’’
In May 2012, the Sierra Leone Parliament passed the legal aid Act which paved the way for the formation of the Legal Aid Board providing free legal service, advice to poor people through trained and qualified paralegals and using alternative dispute resolution mechanisms to solve disputes which will otherwise goes to the courts and since its inception in 2015 , it has helped thousands of people get justice and saved hundreds of cases been overwhelmed in courts.
“A total of 384, 488 people including foreign national have benefitted from the scheme from its inception in May 2015 to September 2020. There has been a steady increase in the number of beneficiaries over the years as follows: 24, 768 beneficiaries in 2015/2016, 83,053 in 2017, 106, 6555 in 2018, 112, 841 in 2019 and 57, 171 from Jan-September 2020,’’a statement from Legal Aid reads.
Today, Legal Aid Board are in 23 cities and towns across the country and has immensely help in reducing case going to the court and enhancing justice to poor individuals who mostly do not have access to legal representative.
In a joint Press release in 2019, Advoc Aid and Centre and Accountability and Rule of Law called the government to decriminalize petty offences in order to reduce prison overcrowding adding that the laws that relate to petty offences, and the ways in which these laws are enforced, have many human rights and economic implications.
“AdvocAid and the Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law (CARL) today launched a Position Paper calling for petty offences to be decriminalised in order to reduce overcrowding in correctional centres and their disproportionate impact on marginalised people in Sierra Leone.
Petty offences are minor offences for which the punishment is ‘a warning, community service, a low-value fine or short term of imprisonment’ (African Commission on Human People’s Rights). Research conducted by AdvocAid and CARL in 2017, monitoring 718 cases in police stations and courts in several cities, found that 33% of offences were petty offences,’’the rights group the rights group said in a joint statement.
“Delays in the delivery of both criminal and civil justice threaten to cripple the administration of justice in Sierra Leone. The use of judicial time must be maximised,’’ TRC Recommendation No 183.
Backlash as Malawi seals schools for three weeks
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By James Mwala
Education rights activists have questioned government’s decision to order for a three week closure of schools in the wake of bloated Covid19 infections and deaths in the Southern African nation.
Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera, who took office last year after his party followers questioned the previous regime of sanctioning Covid19 measures, has come under fire over his recent decisions.
For instance, Chakwera has ordered that all public gatherings be limited to 50, a stance that religious leaders are contesting against. In a letter, Prophet David Mbewe argued why government did not lay out numerical limits to those that gather in places of leisure but only aligned them to timeframes.
At the same time, Chakwera ordered a three week recess for schools, amid growing cases and when about hundred students at some schools in the capital Lilongwe tested positive for Covid19.
However, in a statement, the Malawi Human Rights Commission has faulted government for setting Covid19 measures that are undermining people’s critical rights.
According to Habiba Osman, Executive Secretary for MHRC said there is need for government to formulate measures that strike a balance between right to life and education.
Osman has since challenged government to also formulate special civic education tools that will ensure that people’s lives are not undermined.
Education rights activist, Benedicto Kondowe said there has not been as enough options for students to study as online platforms did not meet the needs of many students.
Kondowe has also told local media that there is need therefore to have as many plans as possible in a bid to address challenges that arise from closing schools.
Most of the latest infections have come after a handful of Malawians that have returned from South Africa.
Some of them bolted from an isolation facility in the commercial city of Blantyre.
Latest deaths include of Ministers Sidik Mia and Lingson Belenyama.
There are slightly 8 thousand active infections now and deaths are slightly over 300 in Malawi.
European Union may train Mozambican military to fight agaist terrorists in Cabo Delgado
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
The European Union (EU) may train Mozambican forces to help fight terrorism in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. President Filipe Nyusi met on Wednesday with EU representative and Portuguese foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva, and the meeting identified three priority areas for cooperation: military training, humanitarian aid and support for the Northern Integrated Development Agency.
Details of the next steps were not given. Silva said that the EU was investing more than €25m in development projects in the region, and believed that there was a need to increase security cooperation, as humanitarian aid and development depended on it.
On the same day, president Filipe Nyusi called for Mozambique’s armed forces to have “increased attention” in defending the natural gas projects in Cabo Delgado province, at the inauguration of the new army chief of the general staff, Eugénio Mussa, and the deputy chief, Bartolino Capitine.
Nyusi said the aim of the terrorists in the province was to “plunder national wealth,” the latest version of a long history of resource-grabbing on the African continent. The natural resources that were supposed to be a lifeline for the continent were now a curse, he continued.
Nyusi said the response must be a “forceful” fight against evildoers. This fight must also be fought against the self-proclaimed Renamo Military Junta dissident armed group. Mussa and Capitine had given “unmistakable proof of their professional pride and patriotism, in defence of the Mozambican homeland,” he said.
No PPEs as Ghana re-opens schools amid surge in covid-19 cases.
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ahedor Jessica
It is day three of reopening schools in Ghana after almost eleven months of closure due to the covid-19 pandemic. A visit to some schools in the capital Accra, Tema Oyibi and other parts of the country revealed government is yet to supply PPEs, soaps and sanitizers to most schools to ensure adherence to the covid -19 protocols. The situation is contrary to claims by the Director of Health Promotions of the Ghana Health Service Dr Aboagye Dacosta that over 10 million Personal Protective Equipment’s PPEs have been dispatched in advance for distributions in schools across the county.
Reacting to the development, some stakeholders in the education sector are calling on government to either speed up processes of procuring PPEs and other essential resources for usage in schools across the country or close down schools to prevent risking the lives of the children.
Divine Ekpe is a research fellow at the Africa Education Watch argues that government’s decision to re-open schools was not reached overnight but somewhere in November 2020 and wonder why till now basic resources were not purchased for school in crucial times like this. “In fact, the posture of the GES about the provision of PPEs is not helping because they claim they will dispatch the resources by close of this week. My question is, what were they doing all these while knowing they will reopen schools”.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Education Service together with the Ministry of Education has embark on a series of programs to enable children back to school through “back to school and re-entry advocacy programs, targeted at the children’s whose parents are insisting the school is not safe for their wards and until government put in appropriate measures, their wards will remain in the house.
But Mr Ekpe insisted government is not being sincere with the parent because while they are advocating for children to return to school, there is little preparation forwards their safety. As we visited some schools, we realized there are no supply of PPEs as we saw many children without them, yet they are on televisions telling parents to send their wards to school, he added.
Speaking to Marry Ansah, a mother of three at Anumele in Accra says her children will remain in the house till she is convinced her children will be safe. “My children will not go to school until I am sure they will be safe. I have three children and I can’t risk it letting them go and if something happens? What will I do?” she quizzed.
Among other pressing issues on the ground is class size in most public schools across the county. Instead of the approved recommended class size of 10 to allow proper spacing, in most schools in the case of Ghana most class sizes in public schools exceeded 30. Indicating social distancing remains a challenge.
However, the Executive Director of Institute for Education Studies, IFEST Peter Anti has called for the suspension of reopening of schools if government through the responsible agencies will prioritize the safety of the children. “it is so shocking that the Ministry of Education that had experienced the challenges that ridden sharing of PPEs during the partial lock-down reopening last year. They should have started with the distribution of the PPEs to schools before the reopen this time around. But it looks like no lessen has been learnt”
It is unfortunate the children had to resume without PPEs. He called on parents to step in and make sure their children are safe. In March 16 2020, the President directed closure of all schools due to COVID-19 pandemic. The initial directive allowed for final year students of both JHS and SHS to remain in school to continue with their examinations. When the West African Examination Council (WAEC) suspended the conduct of exams, the final year students of both JHS and SHS were also directed to go home. In June 15, 2020 a gradual reopening of schools for final year students to return to face-to-face instructions came off while observing the protocols.
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
It is still too early to gauge how the AfCFTA will affect the sports and entertainment industry, since the agreement is still in its early stages of implementation.
January 1st, 2021 marked the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement. In ratifying the agreement, 34 African countries have created the largest free trade zone in the world by country participation. This is a historic point for the continent, it is the beginning of what is hoped will, at the very least, form a workable framework for a modern African economy. An African economy that will allow free movement of labor and goods within member States – a drastic change from the current siloed economic structures, and hopes to foster intra-African trade, industrialization and self-reliance.
Economic co-dependency or cooperation between sovereign States is not a new economic strategy. Europe has sought to achieve this at the regional or supranational level through the establishment of the European Union. However, the recent decision of the United Kingdom to leave the EU shows that the goal of integration is not without its challenges.
The United States has functioned for so long as a collage of economic co-dependent states that few pay much attention to the analogies with modern supranational regional organizations such as the European Union. However, on closer inspection, it is clear that the same rules of a shared currency, open borders and the full economic integration of the states played a large and important role in the growth, stability and development of the US. There are similar associations in Asia – the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN); and in the Arab region – the Council of Arab Economic Unity (CAEU).
Africa has also championed regional economic integration, but never at the level or scale of the AfCFTA and, indeed, not as successfully as in other world regions. African economic communities like ECOWAS, SADC, EAC and others, have failed to substantially integrate their disparate national economies which would have served to protect the region from exploitation by its neighbors to the east and the west.
With consumer population projections favouring Africa, and a combined consumer and business spending projection of $6.7 trillion by 2030,  the time is now for Africans to look inwards for solutions to the continent’s economic woes. The sports, media and entertainment industry is one space where the continent continues to show promise. African content competes favourably on the radio and streaming networks on a global scale, spurring key investments from media giants like Disney and Netflix. The continent is also a major contributor in the world sports industry particularly in consumption and talent exportation. The discussion must now revolve around the question of how the AfCFTA and intra-African collaboration can be best employed to secure these industries’ futures.
The answer: developing local industrialisation, production and distribution infrastructures for the consumption of sports, media and entertainment. This is key to the success of the AfCFTA in these industries. It will be near impossible to unlock the true value of this agreement without Africa first fixing its infrastructure deficit and this is relevant even beyond the sports and entertainment sectors. African countries must aim to localize its production and distribution processes as much as possible to control a larger part of the African market.
For example, the music industry today is primarily dominated by streaming consumers and with the rise of movie streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon TV, the film industry is leaning towards this model as well. From the onset of the digital revolution, China was branded “isolationist” for regulating the entrance of businesses like Google and Facebook into the country to give local alternatives a chance to develop. This move may have been branded as a security move, but it has also proven to be an economic boon to Chinese competitors in these spaces. With this agreement, the time is ripe to develop African digital infrastructures to leverage upon the continent’s population resource in industries like music and film where there is already an appreciable global presence. It is indeed the right time to create our own entertainment giants!
In the sports arena, rather than constantly exporting our best talents, local investment in sports like football, for example, can provide the required infrastructure to ensure that African athletes can thrive right here on the continent. This will serve to effectively reduce talent flight, a major challenge in the industry today. It could eventually place African leagues at par with the popular European leagues where so many players of African descent consistently perform excellently.
It is still too early to gauge how the AfCFTA will affect the sports and entertainment industry, since the agreement is still in its early stages of implementation. We are also yet to observe how committed member States are to this intended collaboration. One thing is for sure though; any initiative that welcomes the free movement of goods and services within Africa and promotes intra-African investments and cooperation on intellectual property rights is a huge step in the right direction for a continent with much to benefit from greater economic integration.
Zambia:FQM’S CONSERVATION FARMING PROJECT WINS KUDOS FROM CHIEF MUMENA
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
The mining firm has provided training and technical support to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers
SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people of North-Western Province has commended First Quantum Minerals for introducing Conservation Farming in his Chiefdom, which he says is turning North-Western Province into Zambia’s food basket.
Chief Mumena, who is also one of the beneficiaries of FQM’s Kansanshi Foundation Agricultural Livelihoods Project, said that the Conservation Farming practice that the mining company introduced has improved the livelihood of the people in his Chiefdom.
“The support towards the agriculture inputs has brought about notable changes among the people, for instance, our farmers are now able to harvest as much as ten tonnes per hectare from as low as two tonnes because of this initiative,” said the traditional leader.
Through the Foundation the mining company has provided training and technical support to close to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers, whose yields have grown from an average of six 50kg bags using conventional techniques in 2010, to a maximum of 56 bags and an average of 21 bags in the 2018/2019 farming season.
In a letter of thanks addressed to the mine Chief Mumena explained that most of the people in the area were constantly cutting down trees to burn charcoal to sell for a living, but that they are now able to sell crops and vegetables for their daily needs, and this has resulted in the protection of the forests for the next generation.
“Our farmers are now able to harvest enough food for the whole year and extra to sell. We no longer have shortages in the villages like it used to be before First Quantum introduced conservation farming,”
Kansanshi Foundation supervisor in charge of conservation farming training and operations at FQM, Maximillian Katanga, said that under its conservation farming project, the mining firm provides education, close monitoring, and input loans to farmers and that the system revolves around a sustainable permaculture rotation of maize, Solwezi beans, cowpeas, soya beans, and groundnuts with minimum tillage, use of mulch, and training farmers on the importance of early planting.
Mr Katanga added that since the project’s inception in the 2010/2011 season close to 40,000 farmers had benefited from the conservation farming programme.
As part of the programme, Kansanshi Foundation’s monitoring and evaluation team has mapped all 7,000 farms and is working on an online interactive site that the public can visit.
The success of conservation farming has led to added dimensions of the programme. In 2015 a plan to help farmers around the mine raise poultry prompted building several chicken runs (at a cost of about $50,000 per run), with each to be managed cooperatively by a group of 50 community members. The Agricultural Livelihoods Project also helps farmers grow vegetables and harvest honey, as well as enjoy access to affordable farming inputs and market linkages.
First Quantum has spent over US$100 million on its sustainability and community development programmes to improve the health and the quality of life for its employees, their families and their immediate communities.
About First Quantum Minerals
First Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.In 2019, First Quantum globally produced 702,000 tonnes of copper, 257,000 ounces of gold and 18,000 tonnes of zinc.
In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine – the largest copper mine in Africa by production – and smelter and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Lusaka and Toronto stock exchanges.
What does The National Commission for Peace and National Cohesion mean for a post conflict Sierra Leone ?
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma*
Sierra Leone experienced one of the worst human catastrophes witnessed in the world’s community of nations during the 11-year civil war in which hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives, properties destroyed, economy shattered and left democratic and good governance institutions in ruins.
The effect of the war in the country still continue up to today even after the war was declared over in 2002 with the signing of the Lomé Peace Accord in Togo. The country has made tremendous progress from setting up a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, (TRC) which provided an impartial recommendation on some of the things to be done for a peaceful nation and also tasked with addressing the hard lessons that must be learned about the causes of the war to setting up the Special Court for Sierra Leone through the finance of the United Nations to try those who bear the greatest responsibility during the country’s internecine war has been hailed to be one of the greatest steps for Sierra Leone towards its lasting peace consolidation.
According to the Truth and Reconciliation report in recommendation 207 stated that “Years of lapses in governance and unrestrained corruption produced the deplorable conditions that set the scene for bitter civil war in Sierra Leone. There is no option but to address bad governance and corruption head on. It would not be an overstatement to say that the survival of the nation depends on the success of society in confronting these issues’’.
Since the war ended , there has been some progress with the establishment of democratic institutions in the country like the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone , the Anti- Corruption Commission , and many other democratic institutions in order to strengthen the good governance of the state. “ A Human Rights Commission (HRC) can serve as both a watchdog and a visible route through which people can access their rights. Such a commission can help create a national culture of human rights through its advocacy, research and legal functions. Above all it must monitor and assess the observance of human rights throughout the country. Individuals who claim that their human rights have been violated should be able to submit complaints for investigation’’ Recommendation 98 TRC Report stated.
The report further recommended in 136 that Government should work towards the creation of an independent judiciary. This includes providing the judiciary with budgetary independence or self-accounting status.
On 8th December 2020, the country’s house of parliament unanimously passed into law the independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion a bill that was presented by the Chief Minister, Professor David Francis. This is in fulfilment of a statement made by President Julius Maada Bio in 2018 upon assuming office to establish a peace and National Cohesion commission.
The Peace Commission and National Cohesion is part of recommendations by the TRC as said by Professor Joe A. D Alie , which has been welcomed by many Sierra Leoneans including peace experts, Historians as well as citizens as the country need such kind of democratic institution to strengthen our democracy. The Commission experts believed will foster and strengthen the country’s peace which has guarded so well for the last decades after experiencing the effect of war.
History Professor in the University of Sierra Leone and Dean of the Faculty of the School of the Post graduate studies , Prof. Joe A. D Alie , welcome the news for the establishment of such a commission but said such an institution has been long overdue, adding that as a country, this is something we would have had not long after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission submitted it report.
“There a very strong case was made for the establishment for a peace Commission but unfortunately, we didn’t take it seriously. You see a lot of people think that because we do not hear the sound of guns, you know there is peace, That’s not very true. We need such a commission particularly more so when this is a multi- national or multi-ethnic country,’’ he said.
He said that like most other countries, Sierra Leone as a country is a multi-ethnic country, stating that there are 17 ethnic groups and even though they have co- existed peacefully over the years, once in while there are tensions and several things creates this tension one of which is the political environment.
“we see that normally Sierra Leoneans live peacefully but when we have elections, particularly national elections mischievous people try to play the ethnic card and that usually creates tensions in the country. The Governance systems have not been very people friendly. People friendly in the sense that it has not been particularly in the recent past catered adequately for the needs of the majority people and all of these creates some kind of conflicts and tensions which will eventually lead to conflict,’’ Prof. Alie said , adding that the country need a commission that will actively foster peace , as well as national cohesion because as he put it this is not a matter of choice, we are in this country, all the ethnic groups are in this country, we don’t have a choice, we have to live in a peaceful way, we have to create a peaceful environment.
The History Professor added that, when there is peace, it goes with development, stating that there is no way development can thrive without peace, referencing even in our homes if there is no peace it will be difficult for family to sit together and plan properly for the future thus the need peace as a pre-requisite for development, national cohesion and national integration.
The History Professor believes that peace plays a key role in every one lives in the carrying of our day to day activities adding that Peace starts with us.
“First there has to be a national awareness campaign for us to realise as a people and as a nation irrespective of our ethnic connections , irrespective of our political connections that injustice to one means injustice to all , that what ever befalls one group is likely to affect other groups and that the future , prosperity of this country doesn’t lie in the hands on one ethnic group or one political party or one region. We all have to work collectively for the good of this country and that what I’m sure the commission I suspect will be preaching,’’ the History Professor recommended.
The Dean of the Faculty of the School of the Post graduate studies further said the growth, prosperity of the country doesn’t lie in the hands of one ethnic group, or one political party, its everybody, adding that everyone have to be on deck regardless of political loyalty, region or even regardless of your social standing to make Sierra Leone a prosperous nation for us all.
“If Sierra Leone becomes a prosperous country not one ethnic group enjoys, not one political party will enjoy it is all Sierra Leoneans and all ethnic group similarly if there is conflict, if there is a problem it does not affect one group of people, it affects every body. I will give you one example, the rebel war didn’t choose one ethnic group ,it didn’t choose political parties , it didn’t choose region everybody even if you were not directly affected , a member of your family or a friend or some body you know may have been affected so in one way or the other , you were also affected,’’ Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies said.
The Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies said consolidating peace is a continuous process stating that if the country has been a united country not deeply divided the rebel war that ravaged the country couldn’t have taken such a huge dimension.
“If Sierra Leone was a united country, if we were not deeply divided, even if we have had a rebel war here it couldn’t have taken the dimension it took, you know if we had unity in this country if we had freedom, justice and these are three words of our motto of the country. unity Freedom and Justice. If those things had been present in our body politic, if those things had been practiced individual and collective levels in this country even if we had a rebel war it couldn’t have disastrous as it was. But it became so dastardly because we are not a united people, there was no peace or freedom, there was no justice in this country. ‘’
The Well renowned History professor said the peace commission will further consolidate the peace of Sierra Leone, but it is the responsibility of everyone to support the government and its would be commissioners to attain this great milestone.
TRC Recommendation 39 stated that “The Commission found that, prior to the start of the conflict, government accountability was non-existent. It concluded that democracy and the rule of law were dead. The Commission accordingly makes recommendations to strengthen democracy and institutions of accountability. In particular, the Commission highlights its recommendations in respect of the independence of the judiciary, the role of parliament and the holding of free and fair elections.’’ With this in mind I believe Sierra Leone has made another landmark history into putting the recommendation of the TRC into reality as it continue to create Institutions to strengthened democracy and good governance as it is the only pathway to consolidating peace in Sierra Leone. .It is important to note that, there are many recommendations that are yet to be fully implemented but however we should tap ourselves for the progress we have made as a country so far.
Sierra Leone:The Travails of Women Empowerment
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
For years, women have been neglected, dejected and left behind in every sphere of life from key decision making, participation, and representation on positions of trust even when they account for about 52 percent of the population yet they occupy less than 20 percent of elected positions in the country. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission findings and recommendations are very clear that “Women have been excluded from decision-making in Sierra Leone. Women are largely absent in the structures of government and traditional forums that are critical in formulating policies. (TRC Recommendation 347)
The challenges they faced are enormous from effect of culture, traditions and patriarchal attitudes towards them have continuously placed them in that position with many been uneducated, in addition illiteracy among them is very low. However there has been some progress as today more than any time in our nation there are more girls in schools, and women in a position of trust and leadership roles compared to 50 years ago in Sierra Leone, even though more needed to be done to fully realise their aspirations as clearly espoused in many international treaties to which the country is a signatory to.
The country experienced one of the worst civil conflicts in the world’s community of nations in 1991 which ended in 2002. Women suffered the brunt of the internecine war, many were killed, raped, became widow, and lost their children in addition those who were pregnant were mutilated alive. It was a dark history for every Sierra Leonean, and it is a history that as a nation and people will never forget. Years of decadence corruption, unequal distribution of the state resources, lack of respect for human rights to name a few were the factors responsible for our devastating war.
“Women were subjected to systematic abuse during the conflict. Violations perpetrated against women included torture, rape, sexual abuse, and sexual slavery, trafficking, enslavement, abductions, amputations, forced pregnancy, forced labour and detentions,’’ TRC Report No. 323.
Head of Media at Feminist United Sierra Leone Allies, Makalay Saidiatu Sonda, said that its almost 17 years since the TRC recommended for a 30 % representation quota for women yet both past and present government have not been able to do this reform despite the lots of campaigns and sensitization by women’s groups in the country.
“ The 50/50 group has been really instrumental in that since after the war to make sure that the 30% representation quota that the TRC recommendation should have been made possible and now we should we should be thinking about the 50/50 gender parity because the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has stated in 2004 that a 30% representation for women in elected assemblies , cabinets and other political posts should be made possible in order for us to increase the 50/50 gender ; parity within the next ten years , that means that , 2004 we should have implemented the 30% quota and within the next 10 years , we should walk our way into the 50/50 gender parity,’’ she said.
However, in its recommendation to the government, the commission recommended that the government work towards achieving of at least 30% women in cabinet and other political posts.
“The Commission recommends that the Government work towards achieving a representation of at least 30% women in cabinet and other political posts. Government should also work towards incrementally achieving 50/50 gender parity in cabinet and political posts within the next 10years TRC Recommendation No. 351,’’
She added that governments not meeting the recommendation of the TRC of the 30% quota nor the 50/50 gender parity is something deliberate on the part of governments stating that she cannot understand how as a country we think it should progress by holding back majority of its population.
“women in Sierra Leone make up more than 50% of our population so if these women are not given a sit at the table to make the right decisions, to implement policies, to better us as women, I don’t know where we will be going and we have already so many challenges you know with issues regarding gender issues I will say because now look at the high rate of sexual violence in the country in the past five years, it has been skyrocketing and also just look at the teenage school drop-outs they are mostly girls may be If we have had women in positions of powers, in parliament, cabinet we have majority of women maybe we would have gone past all these social problems,’’ Makalay lamented.
Makalay further said the 30% representation quota is not only a TRC recommendation, but it is also a legal obligation for Sierra Leone as a nation to implement adding that the country is a signatory to key international instruments or laws that makes it binding to implement gender parity or laws within decisions making bodies within our parties and political space.
On Political Participation and Access to Power the Commission recommended for women that political parties to ensure an at least 30% quota of their candidates for public elections for women and urged the country’s National Electoral Commission to enforce this minimum representation.
“The Commission recommends that political parties be required to ensure that at least 30% of their candidates for public elections are women. This includes national elections, local government and district council elections. Legislation should be enacted to make this a legal requirement. The National Electoral Commission should be required to enforce this minimum representation. Such a stipulation will require all political parties to nurture and develop meaningful participation of women. This is an imperative recommendation,’’ 349.
However, with this imperative recommendation, none of the political parties have never reached this threshold, more than ever more women and girls are becoming educated yet they do not give them the political space for them to exercise their political franchise nor the country’s electoral enforcing the recommendation on a very important recommendation that has the propensity of making the country reached its women’s empowerment drive for a better nation. In parliament, there are only 16 females in the house in a place where there are men and women and even with the Bio administration the number of female cabinet ministers or in leadership roles in government are minimal.
Attaining the 30% quota representation as a nation will mean a great step towards women empowerment in the country and a development to the nation as women can contributes meaningfully in diverse ways if they are given the platform their leadership and interestingly research has shown that women can better deliver in leadership and can reduce corruption in the society.
This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.
PIASA :Nomination Of Olivia Anani & Charlotte Lidon Co-Directors Of The Department For Contemporary African Art
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
Piasa is pleased to announce that Olivia Anani and Charlotte Lidon will be co-directors of the Department for Contemporary African Art from this January onwards.
“This double appointment reinforces Piasa’s leading role and strengthens its involvement in the Contemporary African Art market, of which it was one of the pioneers to highlight in its sales programme,” emphasises Frédéric Chambre.
The Africa + Modern and Contemporary Art Department at PIASA has achieved a solid foundation over the past five years, introducing and cementing the market for several key artists from Africa and its diasporas. Our ambition for the coming years will be to further define the department’s esthetic positioning and amplify its echoes to the art historical canon, as it is written today on the continent and internationally.
It is important, in the current context of accelerated change, for the market to play its due role in shaping the art ecosystem, along with the artists, galleries, institutions and collectors from all backgrounds, who are an essential part of this dynamic scene. We are looking forward to offering a renewed point of vue backed by our expertise and experience to support the current evolutions in collecting and the art market. To mark this fresh start, we are honored to support contemporary creation with a commission to the upcoming Congolese photographer Alain Polo (Born in 1985, Kinshasa, DRC).
The poetry of Alain Polo’s photographic practice touches on themes we are committed to explore, such as the complexity of the gaze and the multiplicity of points of vue.
«PIASA has been a pioneer in the representationof contemporary African scenes and I am happy to this innovative and dynamic sales house as codepartment manager alongside Olivia.
The contemporary African art market has been developing for several years now but is still underrepresented in many respects. Our common vision tends to strengthen the presence of artists from the continent and the diasporas on the global market but also to inscribe their work in an art history specific to Africa. We wish to highlight through future sales, the specificities of the different schools and to renew the vision on the continent’s modern artists, who are still not well known. Given the liveliness of the contemporary art scene, it also seems important to us to support the emergence of a new point of view through the introduction of new artists on the secondary market.
The project is ambitious and the stakes are high, and I am delighted to carry it out with Olivia, whose experience, expertise and commitment to artists and collectors will be invaluable assets.»
« I am delighted to join the team at PIASA, an auction house known for its curiosity, dynamism, and long term commitment to the African art scene.This position is a first in many ways, and it is with a full understanding of the challenge and responsibility, but also of the immense possibilities that lie ahead, that I bring today my years of experience in both auctions and critical research, to a project that aims not only to strengthen the market
for artists from the continent and its diaspora, but also, as someone born and raised on the continent, a core understanding of the richness of her cultures, and of the role the art market can play in rewriting the canon of art history, when done with awareness, rigor and respect.
For such an ambitious project, I could not have hoped for a better co-head than Charlotte, whom I’ve known for several years. I am looking forward to share and learn from her dedication, focus, wise and experienced eye. »
With a background in Asian Studies and Contemporary Art spanning three continents, Olivia Anani has worked for several prestigious auction houses prior to joining PIASA: Sotheby’s, Phillips and Christie’s. In the latter, she was involved in the sale of masterpieces such as Francis Bacon, Three Studies for a Portrait of George Dyer, 1963; Alberto Giacometti, Grande Femme II, France’s 2017 auction record for a work of art; the Beyond Boundaries collection of modern and contemporary masterworks, including Wassily Kandinsky, Marcel Duchamp, Dan Flavin, Yves Klein and Man Ray, Nicolas de Staël’s Parc des Princes, 1952 as well as works by Cy Twombly, Mark Rothko, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Barthélémy Toguo, Seydou Keita. She was also involved in the coordination of loans and acquisitions for institutions such as the Musée du Louvre and the Louvre Abu Dhabi and in projects such as the iconic charity auction Bid for the Louvre and the African Art Fair 1-54 at Christie’s. As a writer and curator, she is interested in art from a global perspective, with a focus on the African continent, working with the Taipei, Dakar and Kampala Biennales, Zajia Lab in Beijing, France’s Institut national d’histoire de l’art, Centre Pompidou, Fondation Gulbenkian and the Columbia University Center – Reid Hall in Paris.
A board member of the Friends of Palais de Tokyo, an institution she has been supporting since 2013, she was part of the jury for the 2018 Prix des Amis, a prize devoted to supporting young artists for their first major institutional exhibition. She remains a contributor and supporter of independent critical art journals such as Afrikadaa and Something we Africans got.
After a university degree in art history Charlotte Lidon continued at the École du Louvre. Interested in non-Western art scenes, she began her professional career at the Musée des Arts d’Afrique et d’Océanie de la Porte Dorée and then at the Arab World Institute before specializing in the art market, first in galleries, then at the international auction house Sotheby’s, which she joined in 2011 in the Department of Classical Arts of Africa and Oceania. Committed to defending modern and contemporary art from the African continent and its diaspora, it is actively participating in the creation of the Modern & Contemporary African Art Department from 2016. She then contributes to the development of the department and actively participates in the sales held at Sotheby’s London where many auction records are obtained for artists such as El Anatsui, Ben Enwonwu, Irma Stern, Yinka Shonibare, Chéri Samba or Nicholas Hlobo. In Paris, she organises thought the auctions house various events such as round tables, meetings with artists and cultural players from the continent and visits to exhibitions in order to increase collectors’ interest in this speciality and provide them with the keys they need to understand the full richness of this artistic scene.
More recently, she was interested in the existing correlations between traditional art and contemporary African art in a study published in the contemporary art magazine «Facettes». She also regularly curates exhibitions around the contemporary African scene.
The highly complementary skills of these two experts in the sector will thus enable Piasa to increase its mission by being even more attentive to the dynamics of the French and English-speaking markets, by widening the spectrum of observation of the creative processes, and by diversifying its actions beyond the auction sales.
*Save the Date on May 19th for the first auction of African Contemporary Art brought by these new perspectives!
US Government Imposes Visa Restrictions on Tanzanian Officials Over Elections
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jean-Pierre Afadhali
The outgoing US administration has imposed visa restrictions to unnamed Tanzanian officials for allegedly undermining last year’s general elections and the East African country’s democracy.
The actions of these officials subverted the electoral process, continuing the downward trajectory of the country’s democracy. Election observers and civil society noted widespread irregularities as well as human rights abuses and violations before, during, and after the election, said the US department of state in a brief statement released on Tuesday.
Tanzania held parliamentarian, presidential and local government elections in October 2020 that saw President Magufuli extend his term in office with a landslide victory.Mr. Magufuli garnered 84.39 per cent of the vote, but opposition rejected results, his main challenger Tundu Lissu subsequently fled the country to Belgium.
“Opposition candidates were routinely disqualified, harassed, and arrested. Significant and widespread voting irregularities, internet disruptions, intimidation of journalists, and violence by security forces made this election neither free nor fair.” Noted the Trump administration in one of its last decisions.
The Secretary of State Michael Pompeo whose twitter account has now been archived as he leaves the office had tweeted that there were consequences for interfering democratic process. “Starting today, we are imposing visa restrictions on those involved in election interference in Tanzania. We remain committed to working together to advance democracy and mutual prosperity for both our countries.”
This is not the first time US government bans Tanzanian officials from entering its territory. Last year Washington slapped visa restriction on Paul Makonda, former regional commissioner of Dar Es Salaam, the commercial capital over “human rights violation”.
Tanzania has been a peaceful and politically stable country in East Africa, but under Magufuli presidency there have been reports of the worsening human rights situation amid crackdown on media, human rights activists and opposition politicians. Some media outlets have been suspended, rights activists and opposition politicians regularly detained. The government has regularly denied poor human rights records ‘accusations.
“Civil society leaders remain under threat in the post-election period, and opposition leaders have fled the country out of fear for their safety.” Noted the statement from the department of state.
In the aftermath of the disputed vote, an opposition MP Godbless Lema and his family fled to neighboring Kenya citing threats to his life. The family subsequently got asylum status in Canada.
According to media reports, Mr. Lema was arrested by Tanzanian authorities together with other politicians in the aftermath of the October 28 elections, but was later released on a police bond without a charge.
US has urged the Government of Tanzania to improve the situation and hold accountable those responsible for “the flawed election, violence, and intimidation.”
“The United States will continue to closely follow developments in Tanzania and will not hesitate to take additional actions against individuals complicit in undermining democracy and violating human rights.”
However, it is not clear whether Joe Biden’s administration will implement the visa restrictions on Tanzanian officials as the new president has vowed to reverse some of Donald Trump’s decisions immediately after inauguration.
Kenya power rolls out smart meters
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya Power has launched a smart meter technology to facilitate two-way communication between the company and its customers.
Unveiling the project in Kenya’s lake city of Kisumu, the company’s Managing Director Bernard Ngugi said the new system targets 5,000 customers in the country’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) sector.
The new technology will enable customers to access real-time information on their consumption and billing through an online portal.
There will be an immediate solution in case of a power outage since the smart meters can communicate directly with the company’s National Contact Centre.
Customers also will receive notifications directly on their phones via SMS.
The Kshs.1.25 billion World Bank-funded project is set to be completed by June 30, 2021.
“These combined benefits of error-free data, prompt network problem identification, and audit of energy consumption will go a long way in enhancing service delivery to our customers in the SME sector,” said CEO Ngugi.
“We believe that the advanced metering technology will further enhance customer satisfaction based on the visibility and prompt detection of power usage and also reduce technical losses which are key to ensuring reliable and quality supply of power,” he added.
The company aims to install the smart meters for all SMEs by the end of the 2023/2024 financial year.
Kenya, Rwanda sign deal to foster tourism
January 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya and its regional counterpart Rwanda have sealed an agreement in a bid to boost tourism.
The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB) and Rwanda Chamber of Tourism (RCOT), the main parties in the deal, agreed to join forces to increase cooperation between the nations to make them competitive as a tourism destination.
According to the parties, the treaty is set to be facilitated by the East African Tourism Platform (EATP).
Agnes Mucuha, the KATA Chief Executive Officer, Fred Odek, the EATP Chairman, Ambassador Richard Masozera, Rwanda’s Ambassador to Kenya (representing RDB and RCOT) and Robert Okumu, RwandAir Country Manager Kenya witnessed the signing of the deal.
KATA, RDB, RCOT agreed to exchange knowledge, expertise and best practices about travel, enhance the exchange of familiarization visits between Kenya and Rwanda and spur tourists flows between Kenya and Rwanda.
Besides, there will also be sharing of the countries respective calendar of events for stakeholders’ information and attendance and engagement of similar counterparts from various African regional blocks under the Continental Free Trade Area.
“We are honoured to partner with Rwanda Development Board, Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, and the East Africa Tourism Platform as this collaboration will allow for greater sharing of ideas, resources, and expertise. This partnership places Rwanda and KATA on the path to becoming a regional and continental lead in creating safe travel experiences, yet meet the needs of travellers,” reiterated Agnes Mucuha, Chief Executive, Kenya Association of Travel Agents.
“The signing of these agreements between RDB, RCOT, KATA and EATP represents a visible result of the thriving Kenya-Rwanda relationship. The partnership is also in line with our efforts to transform and build new travel and tourism industry capabilities. As we chart a new path forward for the travel sector, it is crucial to focus on growing local travel for us to help the industry tore bound,” Ambassador Richard Masozera said.
Through the partnership, Kenya’s and Rwanda’s marketing and promotional programmes will be implemented by carrying out joint marketing activities, familiarization trips and educational webinars.
RwandAir’s Country Manager for Kenya Robert Okumu pledge to support the partnership saying the RwandAir (WB) will be the Title Sponsor for the Air Tickets during the familiarization trips to Rwanda. Okumu also disclosed that the airline had released special discounted airfares and holiday packages for the Kenyans to visit the East African nation.
The role of technology in unlocking trade value in East Africa
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Pedro Guerreiro, Managing Director for Central Africa at SAP
NAIROBI, Kenya, January 20, 2021 -/ African Media Agency(AMA)/- Is it too soon to be optimistic about an economic revival in East Africa following the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the global economy?
The latest data – and the region’s continued focus on transforming its key industries, sectors and infrastructure through technology – is giving me hope that the economic outlook is brightening.
Trade in East Africa has already picked up: according to the Brookings Institute, after an initial drop in trade in Kenya during the early months of the pandemic, by July domestic exports were already 12.7% higher compared to the year before.
Impact on trade felt during early days of pandemic
That is not to say the pandemic did not have a significant impact on regional trade. For example, Kenya’s highly lucrative cut flower industry was brought to its knees earlier this year. When Europe locked down, it forced the closure of hotels and severely restricted public gatherings including weddings and funerals.
Demand for Kenya’s cut flower exports plummeted from a high of 17,600 tons in February 2020 to a low of 8,000 tons in April. Kenya is the world’s third-largest exporter of cut flowers. The industry employs 150 000 people and contributes 1% of the country’s GDP.
Flower-only export farms changed their business models by switching to growing vegetables – another of the country’s major horticultural exports – and could generate some revenue by exporting to the country’s European trade partners. Local food security was also improved, as produce could be used to feed vulnerable communities struggling with the impact of the pandemic.
Tea exports, Kenya’s second-largest earner of foreign exchange after horticulture, also declined due to the pandemic. Recent data suggests a drop in tea exports from Kenya in the period January to June 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.
However, that sector is arguably better equipped to adapt to the immediate challenges. The Kenya Tea Development Agency, an industry body that supports more than 600 000 smallholder tea farmers, has been on a sustained digital transformation journey to achieve greater automation in its factories.
The cost-savings and improved revenue resulting from greater efficiencies in the KTDA’s operations is helping it secure local jobs and support the local economy despite the impact of the pandemic. This type of technology-enabled resilience is more important now than ever, when an uncertain global outlook means organisations need the agility to adapt to changes in their operating environment.
New agreements, investments unlock trade value
Broader initiatives are likely to further support growth in trade in the region. The African Continental Free Trade Area, the world’s largest free trade area by number of countries involved, will eventually connect 1.3 billion people commanding $3.4-trillion in GDP.
The World Bank estimates that trade measures that cut red tape, simplify customs procedures and make it easier for local businesses to integrate into global supply chains could drive $292-billion of the expected $450-billion in income gains from the agreement.
For countries and ports of trade that have updated their infrastructure through investments into new technology, these income gains will be easier to realise.
The Mombasa Port, East Africa’s largest and oldest sea port, is still the main conduit for global sea trade in the region, but a new port in Lamu will further expand the region’s trade capability. The new port will form part of a transport corridor that will connect Kenya to South Sudan and Ethiopia and greatly assist with boosting regional trade.
Ambitious investments into new rail infrastructure also hold immense promise. The East African Railway Master Plan aims to rejuvenate the railways serving Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, and will add railways serving the rapidly-developing economies in Rwanda and Burundi.
The application of technology in each of these major infrastructure projects will be crucial to their success in the decades ahead.
Key technology priorities for regional trade
What should regional trade authorities and organisations prioritise in terms of technology investments to ensure positive growth in trade in East Africa?
Efficiency should be a top priority. Increasing the volume of containers passing through regional ports could hold huge financial benefits. PwC estimates that sub-Saharan Africa could save $2.2-billion in costs per year if container throughput is doubled at major ports. In addition, improving port performance by 25% can reduce the price of imported goods in the region by $3.2-billion per year while adding $2.6-billion to the value of exports.
Automation is also key. Africa’s long-term reliance on slow, manual processes has stunted the growth of trade at its ports. The turnaround time for vessels at African ports – the time it takes to port, offload cargo, reload and depart – averages five days. In Asia, where port infrastructure is more modern and automated, that time drops to as little as seven hours. The productivity gains from the use of automation means Asian ports are able to process more goods quicker, with direct revenue increases as a result.
In addition, deploying new technologies could help solve efficiency and productivity issues at key ports of trade. After investing in an Internet of Things platform that connected its entire fleet to a central system, the Port of Hamburg in Germany now has full, real-time visibility over truck positions, congestion at cargo terminals, raised bridges and accidents. This enables port authorities to make accurate decisions to ensure a smooth flow of goods at all times, boosting the efficiency and productivity of the port.
Africa’s lack of legacy infrastructure could be an advantage as it builds out its ports of trade. With less historic technology to adapt or work around than the more developed regions, African ports have a blank slate to implement the latest technology and realise the immense gains promised by the likes of IoT, AI and machine learning.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.
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CAJ Congratulates Moalimmuu on Appointment as Somali Government Spokesperson.
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Adedayo Osho
Congress of African Journalists, CAJ has congratulated one of its foundation members Mohammed Ibrahim Nur Moalimmuu on his appointment as Spokesperson for Somalia government and Senior Media Adviser to the Prime Minister.
Moalimmuu is the Vice President of CAJ for East Africa Region and former Secretary General to Federation of Somali Journalists, FESOJ.
According to a press release by Michael Adeboboye, CAJ President in Lagos Nigeria “We received the news of the appointment of one of our foundation members and Senior Somali journalist, Mohammed Ibrahim Nur Moalimmuu with excitement.
“CAJ is using this medium to say a big congratulations to Moalimmuu on this new voyage and prayed for wisdom from the Almighty God for him to excel.
“We do not have the doubt that Moalimmuu will perform excellently in his new assignment to serve the government and good people of Somalia.
“Undoubtedly, Moalimmuu is endowed with stupendous leadership character to the admiration of CAJ and we are confident that he will serve well in his new assignment to his country.
“As a Pan African organisation of African journalists home and diaspora, Moalimmuu has transported with him in many of his opportunities to visit countries around the globe to speak for journalists protection and welfare, CAJ was no exception.
“It is of a massive hope that Moalimmmu’s new appointment will avail him more opportunity to establishing finest and cordial relationship between Somali government and practitioners of the pen profession in Somalia, Africa and across the border.
“We also believe that Moalimmuu’s appointment will open windows of opportunity for CAJ’s objectives presentation, opportunity for friendship and collaborative efforts towards redefining journalism practice in Somalia”
The rights of disabled Youths still a pipe dream in Sierra Leone
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
“ The denial of a meaningful political voice to the youth has had devastating consequences for Sierra Leone. More avenues for the youth to express themselves and to realise their potential need to be created. Political space should be opened up so that the youth can become involved in governance and in the decision-making process. Youths must have a stake in governance, the TRC recommendation 312. .
For years, despite the recommendations by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) many youths including disables have been left out in the decision making of the country, with little improvement on their lives and welfare in Sierra Leone, most of the policies geared towards the respect of their rights have been outdated. They still continue to struggle from basic things, employment, the full realization of their fundamental human rights even after more a decade with the passing of the Disability Act of 2011.
31-year-old Mohamed Kamara is a disable youth working at the Grafton Camp, a skilled worker in pottery but struggles with life and to get a daily meal for his family. He was born with no disability, but the war left a scar on him when rebels shot his legs during the country’s 11-year civil conflict that left hundreds of thousands of civilians’ dead in which many were left homeless has left him paralyzed only to be walking using crutches. The country has a number of people who were amputated, some left with disability issues as rebels used cruel techniques and means of punishing civilians. Today most of disabled youths across the country wallow the streets of Freetown with nothing to do and some can’t fend for themselves and are forced to begging as it is the means they can fend for themselves.
Even though those disables that are educated, have university or technical and vocational training certificate they still continue to struggle from access to employment, food, shelter, getting access to basic life, and lack of disabled friendly environment.
Mohamed is not one of, there are others who struggles too with life. The streets, offices, transportation are several challenges disabled struggled with daily with some left on the streets whenever they fend transport as they could not compete with able bodied men.
‘’War is not good. The rebels left me disabled and paralyzed, now they have left my life in ruins. Life isn’t easy for me ever since and the government hasn’t help us much. most of my other colleagues beg on the streets of Freetown,’’ he said.
He said that due their disability people discriminate them, and when they compete with able bodied men, they are left out adding that despite the passing into law of the disability Act in 2011, most people refused to take them in leadership positions boasting that he is qualified to work in any office.
“I want to urge any disable to report to the disability commission any breach of their human rights especially they been discriminated. we are now have a legal desk in the commission that specifically look at this issue,’’ said Saa Lamin Raymond Kortequee, Chairman disability Commission.
Saa Kortequee said they as a commission have encouraged many private companies, businesses, and other business that they can hire as many disabled people as possible into their work places and they can give be tax reduction in their firms.
“Private companies, businesses please take this as an opportunity as well as a way you can help in the development of Sierra Leone. By employing many disables, you will help reduce unemployment in the country,’’ the disability commissioner said.
Apart from discrimination, there is still challenge with disable friendly environment as it is visibly seen in almost all the government buildings, streets, offices, colleges, and universities and even in the transportation systems in the country. Many will argue that its only now ten years ago that we have laws for the provisions of disabled friendly environment by the government.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) mentioned in its report , recommendation stated that Youths were the driving force behind the resistance to one-party state rule in the 1980s adding that they also bore the brunt of the state’s repressive backlash as during the conflict, youths formed the bulk of the fighting forces in all the factions.
“The civil war has aggravated matters for the youth. After ten years of war, thousands of young men and women have been denied a normal education and indeed a normal life. Their childhood and youth have been squandered by years of brutal civil conflict. Many young Sierra Leoneans have lost the basic opportunities in life that young people around the world take for granted. These young people constitute Sierra Leone’s lost generation. The Commission recommends that the youth question be viewed as a national emergency that demands national mobilisation. This is an imperative recommendation,’’ TRC recommendation 313 .
Despite this recommendation, challenges for youths a very huge even with the establishment of the National Youth Commission by the Koroma -led government huge challenges remain from adequate funding ,
“The Commission recommends that Government work towards the transformation of the youth portfolio of the Ministry of Youth and Sports into a National Youth Commission. Such a Commission should be located in the Office of the President. The mission of a National Youth Commission would be to address the youth question as a fundamental priority in post-war reconstruction. Currently, the Youth Ministry is constrained by an overburdened civil service bureaucracy that prevents it from carrying out its basic tasks and functions. At present the Ministry is unable to finance its programmes in the provinces. In short, the Ministry of Youth does not have the means to address the youth question,’’ TRC recommendation 308 added.
For this commission recommended that government Protection of Human Rights of citizens and also among many other recommendations the establishment of the National Human Rights Commission (HRC). Government has now established a human rights commission in the country and has made several recommendations also highlighting the need for the protection of the rights of youths in the country including the disabled.
“The Commission recommends that all political parties be required to ensure that at least 10% of their candidates for all public elections are youths.113 This includes national elections, local government and district council elections. Legislation should be enacted to make this a legal requirement. The National Electoral Commission should be required to enforce this minimum representation. Such a stipulation will require all political parties to nurture and develop meaningful participation of the youth. This is an imperative recommendation’’. TRC Recommendation 313
This Renowned Human Rights Lawyer and Expert Rashid Dumbuya Esq. said that universities in Sierra Leone should create a disabled friendly environment for Persons living With Disability adding that the law is very clear that disables should be entitle to barrier free environment, and as country that is a signatory to many international treaties, the International Convention on the Rights of Person’s with Disability, thus the country is obligated under law to honour it.
“We are building colleges; we do not think about disables. The same toilet that even poses challenge for able bodied persons is the same the disabled used which is even much more challenging for them. We are building universities and we do not think about ramps; places where disables can just move their wheelchairs. The classrooms are not sensitive to persons with disability,’’ Lawyer Rashid said.
Lawyer Rashid added that there is no brailing system, including recording and special needs for classrooms in the universities across the country, except for the University of Makeni which carters for the disables.
“We are calling on the University of Sierra Leone, Milton Margai college, College of Medicine, Njala University, Eastern Polytechnic to emulate the University of Makeni that has created special needs for disables, Lawyer Rashid said in statement marking the celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disability in Sierra Leone in collaboration with the National Disabled Women’s Forum.
The Human Rights Expert said the reason why disables are not employed in the country is largely because the buildings aren’t disabled friendly thus stating that it is difficult for organization, private firms not to bring on board disabled in their workplace.
“The challenges are many. I will not be able to name them all here, we know of shelter, transportation, and water. All these things are affecting you. It is not just enough to get the laws, we should implement them,”
Nenneh Kargbo is the Interim Secretary General, National Disabled Women’s Forum (NADWOF), stated that disables are been challenged in all facets of the society.
“Come to think about government building, neither the new ones nor the old that are accessible for women with disability. If you go to the hospital, the hospital that are government owned which disabled should access free medical care, but they are discriminated,’’ she said, adding that it is a real challenged for them and even with banks and other public buildings.
She said many of them have not be able to go school because the schools are disable friendly adding that that is why many are uneducated, unemployed which makes lives miserable for them.
“How many of us have gone far in terms of access to education? what have we acquired in terms of skills generally? so many of us are in the streets begging. Women with disability have soared in number in the streets more than their counterparts. It is a challenge. How are prepared are we for the future,’’
Sierra Leone: Memories of civil war still fresh in minds of victims on anniversary
January 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
January 6th, 1999 will forever be in the hearts and minds of every Sierra Leoneans as it was the day rebels attacked the country’s capital , Freetown, which remained a memorable and unforgettable day in the history of Sierra Leone. The sounds of guns took over the atmosphere of the former British colony. That day scores of atrocities happened and hundred of thousands of people experienced the worst human rights abuses ranging from torture, rape, and the amputation of legs and hands. The war had originally begun in the rural part of the country in 1991 which started because of bad governance, corruption, mismanagement of state resources, endemic poverty, and concentration of resources to certain few were among the principal reason for the country’ internecine war.
Today more than two decades after one of the world’s worst atrocities happened , this day is commemorated every year, and those that suffered and affected during civil war from amputees, war wounded , rape victims, widows and their children have continued to live with the war experienced and the trauma that come with it for decades.
For Jenifer Sesay , a rape victim , the memories of the war are ever fresh in her mind as she said each year on January 6th , she remembered that day when she was abducted by rebel and later been raped by them adding that the day reminds them of their pain and suffering.
“For some us they rape us at a time I was not even matured , I was just 12 years old. Like me here I was with the rebels until I become matured not until they ceased fire that was when they released me . Where I was, was where the war started . At any time , this day reaches it reflects our memories to some of the dark experience we had,’’ she recounted.
She added that successive government has been ignoring them, leaving them astray stating that many believed that the war is over but said the war is still the war not over provided that how government will take care of us and our needs.
“we want to express our thanks and appreciation to Late President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah for restoring peace who told us to forgive which we did , but we haven’t forgotten yet . We have forgiven our perpetrators, but we haven’t forgotten what happened to us. May be some of the people that did these things to us are still in our communities and I have my kids they are all grown up and if I explained to them that this is what this person did to me may be, I may not have the bad intention to harm him or her , but my kids may revenge,’’ Jenifer Sesay said.
Jenifer added that Like most of them that were sexually abused , some of them had children that they didn’t plan to have at the time stating that they now have children whom she said they too are struggling with life , they needed counselling and psychosocial support.
“We the sexual abuse victims are traumatized , physically we are okay but inner part we are not okay. We the victims , it is us that will say the war is over or war is not over yet. Imagine I was at the age of 12 years when the rebels captured me , now I have a 20-year daughter which I didn’t wish to have at the time . I didn’t allow her to live with me I had to take her to my mother to take care of her. She grew up with my mother . I only took her to be with me when she had become grown up. Even when she has come to live with me , my husband isn’t comfortable with my daughter. At times when I and my husband go into confrontation, he takes my situation to laugh at me so I do not feel happy , so my daughter who at home is getting all this information ,she will develop bad intention it will bring war to our country,’’ Sesay said in a broken voice.
In its recommendation about the war , the Truth and Reconciliation Commission No. 1 stated that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Act 2000 (“the Act ‘’) requires the Commission to make recommendations concerning the reforms and measure whether legal , political , administrative or otherwise needed to achieve the object of the Commission ;namely providing an impartial historical record , preventing the repetition of violations or abuses suffered , addressing impunity , responding to the needs of the victims and promoting healing and reconciliation. Many believed that little has been done by past and present governments towards the implementation of the recommendations in the report in order to have a lasting peace as a nation. Many of the experiences , Jenifer and others have gone through not to see a repeat of what has happened in the war as clearly state The Truth and Reconciliation Commission hasn’t been fully realised although there have some steps in the establishing of democratic institutions like the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, the National Commission for democracy and the democratic reforms to name a few has been hailed a step towards peace consolidation in the country.
Mohamed Tarawallie , National President war wounded and amputees said that they as war wounded and amputees who were affected during the eleven years civil war haven’t seen government focusing on their issues adding that government is giving public holiday for what happens In South Africa in which lots of children lost their lives , but what happened in our nation during the 11 years especially January 6th , when the rebels entered Freetown , the casualties that took place , the people who lost their lives , properties , hands, feet , thus stating if government is really serious , they should have made this day , a public holiday where in no offices will function , or business on that day.
“Everyone should sit at home and ponder on what happened on that fateful day. Just as the government didn’t take the January 6th incident seriously , they didn’t take the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report seriously which has made people not to even think about the TRC . Yes , they put together in the report what they are supposed to do for the victims of the war, some who have lost their legs , hands , rape victims what they are supposed to do for them . They do not think about these things . we do not see any momentum , even when its new year you do not hear in the President’s speech do not include us in his many speeches,’’ he said.
Tarawallie added that government should do something for them so that they can take courage us by providing us with medical facilities , provide scholarships for our children who wanted to get a university or college degree stating that they are extremely challenged.
“They just promise , promise, how long will they continue making promises to us , they wait until we die? This is not good for us as a country . TRC recommendation they say it but they do not implement it . Go to the provinces , go to places like Kailahun , Kenema , Bo , Makeni and see the number of war victims that are suffering . Even the Norwegian Friends of Sierra Leone houses they built for us are in bad shape ,we do not have any body to rescue us from this housing challenge’’.
The war wounded and Amputees National President further said some of the donors that have been helping them are tired, adding that they need the intervention of government to rescue them from their suffering and if they don’t rescue them , tomorrow their kids they have given birth to , if they do not have better and good education , this will create another problem for the country which they do not wish anything to happened again.
Sulaiman Sesay , an amputee said he has lived all his life from childhood on to adulthood been amputated which he said a memory he will lived on with till death but praised a woman Madam Faith and other good organisation who has made it a norm to celebrate with them on every January 6th by giving them help and assistance .
“It’s really painful that you were not born an amputee but ended up been an amputee victim , A very young man like me they chopped off my hand since I was small up to today when I am grown up man I have lived with this trauma and situation , I will never forget January 6th. We have a challenge the government do not think about us even the NACSA cash transfers to vulnerable people we didn’t benefit from that . we are pleading to government to help with proper medical care services , transportation, and housing facilities. Imagine if it were not for some good will NGOs that built for us war victims , some of us we would have been on the streets’’.
Professor Joe A. D Alie , Professor of History and The Dean of the school of Postgraduate studies , Fourah Bay College said consolidating peace is a continuous process stating that if the country has been a united country not deeply divided the rebel war that ravaged the country couldn’t have taken such a huge dimension.
“If Sierra Leone was a united country, if we were not deeply divided, even if we have had a rebel war here it couldn’t have taken the dimension it took, you know if we had unity in this country if we had freedom, justice and these are three words of our motto of the country. unity Freedom and Justice. If those things had been present in our body politic, if those things had been practiced individual and collective levels in this country even if we had a rebel war it couldn’t have disastrous as it was. But it became so dastardly because we are not a united people, there was no peace or freedom, there was no justice in this country. ‘’the history professor said.
Like the TRC Report No 3. The Commission is of the view that the adoption of its recommendations will assist the people of Sierra Leone to rise above the bitter conflicts of the past, which caused unspeakable violations of human rights and left a legacy of dehumanisation, hatred, and fear. This will greatly help in the restoration of a lasting peace in democratic Sierra Leone
*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.
RDC : Le Rassemblement des députés katangais exige la libération sans condition du pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
Le Rassemblement des députés katangais ( RDK) dénonce l’enlèvement du pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda et exige sa libération immédiate et sans condition. C’est ce qui ressort d’une réunion tenue en urgence ce mardi 19 janvier par ces élus du peuple.
L’enlèvement du pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda la nuit du 18 au 19 janvier par les agents de l’ Agence nationale de renseignement (ANR) à Lubumbashi ne cesse de susciter de vives polémiques. Le RDK s’est réuni pour passer au crible cette situation qui prévaut dans la capitale cuprifère.
« Nous dénonçons avec la dernière énergie l’enlèvement du pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, digne fils du Katanga et exigeons sa libération immédiate sans condition, rappelons qu’en sa qualité de pasteur, l’intéressé a été enlevé en sa résidence pour quelques propos mal interprétés qui l’aurait prononcés lors du culte d’action de grâce de l’assassinat du 20è anniversaire du 3è Président de la RDC, Mzee Laurent Désiré Kabila, héros national« , a fustigé ce groupe de députés.
A en croire le RDK, cette façon de faire met en mal la liberté d’expression garantie par la constitution de la RDC.
Le collectif de ces élus de l’ex-Katanga demande la poursuite des auteurs de cette arrestation arbitraire et tient mordicus que réparation soit faite. Ce, après des destructions méchantes opérées dans son domicile.
« Les auteurs de cet enlèvement doivent être poursuivis conformément aux lois du pays, dénonçons également les destructions méchantes opérées dans son domicile et demandons que respect soit faite« .
Le RDK a condamné également des actes de vandalisme, viols, tueries qui se passe dans la ville de Kasumbalesa.
Il sollicite l’implication du Chef du Président de la République pour un véritable État de droit.
« Nous fustigeons tout ce qui se passe à Kasumbalesa où il est observé également des actes de vendalisme, viols, tueries et pillages ainsi que la chasse aux Katangais sur leur propre terre ancestrale, sollicitons l’implication du Président de la République, Félix-Antoine Tshisekedi dans le traitement de ce dossier pour l’émergence d’un véritable État de droit« .
Dans son discours à l’occasion du 20ème anniversaire de Laurent-Désiré Kabila, le pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda a dénoncé des « dérives dictatoriales » et « le manque de respect aux élus ».
C’était en présence de la notabilité katangaise,de compagnons de Laurent-Désiré Kabila, ainsi que d’autres acteurs politiques dont Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, Secrétaire permanent du Parti du peuple pour la reconstruction et la démocratie (PPRD).
Le pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda a été président de la Commission électorale nationale indépendante ( Ceni) lors des élections du 28 novembre 2011. Ce scrutin a vu Joseph Kabila être réélu pour un second mandat. L’opposition avec son chef de file, feu Étienne Tshisekedi a crié à un hold-up électoral.
L’article RDC : Le Rassemblement des députés katangais exige la libération sans condition du pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda est apparu en premier sur Matininfos.NET – Information de la RDC en toute impartialité.
Pan-African-Vision Agenda and Aspiration Five  Shine as President Mnangagwa Signs Fact-Book .
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Africa’s heritage path was paved for its future generations on the 19th of January. This very day President Mnangagwa signed the Africa Fact-Book. It was accompanied by letters to 54 countries of Africa for them to use it as a tool of African Heritage.
The Africa Fact-Book carries unique un-told history of our beloved continent Africa. President Mnangagwa cleared the air that time has come for Africa to rise high up and shine. He spoke State House in Harare accompanied by George Charamba , Deputy Chief Secretary for Communications in the Office of the President and Cabinet .
‘’Today I have signed copies of the Africa Fact-Book which Zimbabwe has honor and privilege to host at conceptual age ‘’
‘’We launched this book on 9 September 2020. The 1st edition had been produced under the theme ‘’Busting the myths’’
‘’Let us burst the myths that Africans have never discovered anything. Let us burst myths that Great Zimbabwe walls were not built by Africans ‘’.
‘’I launched this book together with President Cyrill Ramaphosa of South Africa. The reason is we have the same heritage, culture, values and identity ‘’.
The book according to Kwame Muzawazi , Director of INSTAK , Institute of African Knowledge is a tool for Africans and future generations to learn more about themselves , the history made by those who left us , those with legacy of liberation .
‘’This is a tool for Africans and even those around us to learn more about our identity, culture, values and all that matters and link this ideology. We celebrate through it our being African, our identity, culture and values are greater than ever ‘’.
‘’The book will be distributed soon for people to read and explore their history. This is ever to live African Heritage ‘’. he spoke
The idea to launch the Africa Fact-Book was vitiated and initiated at one of the meetings of the African Union Commission during the time of Dr Nkosazana Zuma of South Africa’s tenure in office at the African Union headquarters. She admired Zimbabwe’s African Book of Records. Then she recommended the country to come up with the Africa Book of Records.
The Fact -Book directs the Pan-African-Vision agenda 2063 of the African Union and Aspiration Five that enhances our African strong culture, identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics. Pan-Africanism and common history, identity, destiny, heritage , respect for religious diversity and consciousness of African people is highly cherished ..
Kenya government imposes 1.5% tax on all social media “influencers”
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
In Kenya, social media influencers will have to pay 1.5 per cent Digital Service Tax (DST), said the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
The authority noted the influencers would not be exempted from the new tax saying facilitating online business and individuals earn them income.
“Social media influencers will be liable to pay digital service tax since their income is derived from or accrued from the provision of services through a digital marketplace or by providing digital advertising services in Kenya,” KRA said via public notice.
KRA defined an influencer as a person who commands a following through a media platform through the products or services they use or engage in to drive sales or fame.
The taxman said the new tax that took effect on January 1, 2021, targets both residents and non-residents providing services within the country.
The influencers will pay DST on or before the 20th day of every month.
“Kindly note the tax will be collected and remitted by agents appointed by the commissioner of Domestic Taxes,” KRA noted.
KRA targets above 1,000 businesses and people under the new digital tax. Early this month, it set out a target of ksh5 billion ($45.37 million) to be collected between January and June this year.
NGO Accuses North Korea of Evading International Sanctions in DR Congo
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jean-Pierre Afadhali
North Korean businessmen linked to Pyongyang government have been awarded contracts in DR Congo’s government projects and accessed banking services consequently violating international sanctions imposed by European Union, United Nations and USA on North Korea, The Sentry, an anti-corruption NGO revealed in a report.
Findings from the report titled “Artful Dodgers” released on Monday by the organization founded by American actor and activist George Clooney show that the North Korean Businessmen evaded international sanctions to undertake lucrative cities’ design in the DR Congo, raising concerns on transparency in the central African country and international banking system.
The report suggests that the firm Congo Aconde founded by North Korean Businessmen and linked to Pyongyang’s government under international sanctions had access to US dollars through a local bank while undertaking projects in at least three provinces. According to the findings from the study that built on last year’s investigations “the pair [ North Korean entrepreneurs] had closer connections to Pyongyang than first thought. In addition, the two men likely worked in the DRC on behalf of a little-known North Korean government design firm, Korea Paekho Trading Corporation.”
The Sentry alleges that these revelations on DR Congo operations and other information show that the affiliates of Korea Paekho Trading Corporation have operated throughout West and Central Africa signaling that the enforcement of sanctions against North Korea remains problematic.
“In particular, they demonstrate how North Korean actors exploit weak institutional controls and jurisdictions with high levels of corruption, a model other sanctions busters have followed. In the case of the DRC, due diligence shortfalls across private and public institutions may create systemic risk for an economy that relies heavily on access to US dollars through relationships with international banks.” Read the alert on alleged sanction’s violation.
According to the Sentry, the construction firm Congo Aconde run by two North Korean nationals undertook previously unreported projects in the southern city of Kolwezi, the capital of Lualaba province, adding those activities in the area coupled with any local official engagement with the company is a violation of sanctions implemented in 2016 by the European Union, the United and the US.
Contacted by Radio France International, for a comment on sanctions’ violation accusations the governor of Loualaba province did not respond.
The Sentry noted that the province of Kolwezi had dedicated $ 102,000 in 2018 to rehabilitate roundabouts, roadsides and green spaces. “This list of projects in the budget document matches works undertaken by Congo Aconde there during the same period.” Said the American NGO in the report.
Meanwhile, the alert released by the anti-corruption NGO states that the records it reviewed indicate that Congo Aconde also had a previously unidentified US-dollar account at the DRC affiliate of Cameroon-headquartered Afriland First Bank, which was tied specifically to its Kolwezi operations. The Sentry previously identified another US dollar account held by the company at the same bank.
The report concludes North Korean and any companies they control are mostly prohibited by EU and UN sanctions from accessing banking services, and US sanctions strictly limit any access to US dollars. However, the report authors say that the company appears to have cultivated relationships with DR Congo’s city and provincial government executives, even if its expertise may have played a determining role in securing contracts. “Congo Aconde’s apparent relationships with powerful individuals, the opacity surrounding the tenders, and the sanctions risks raise concerns about possible corruption.”
The report concludes that actions by governments, multilateral institutions, and banks regarding sanctions risks in the DRC could help improve enforcement and reinforce the integrity of the country’s banking sector.
The Sentry recommends that “the US Department of State and the IMF should urge the DRC to ensure a transparent public tender process and to make all government contracts, including provincial contracts, publicly available.”
Global multinational banks should carry out enhanced due diligence on the transactions of certain banks operating in the DRC. Banks operating in the DRC should improve screening, training, and awareness of these offenses and add proliferation financing red flags to their filters, recommends investigators.
Total CEO meets Mozambican President over escalating terrorists attacks
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
The chief executive of French energy giant Total, Patrick Pouyanné, met President Filipe Nyusi on monday to discuss the security situation in Mozambique, according to a statement from the Presidency released on Tuesday afternoon.
The meeting addressed the latest developments in the implementation of the Total’s $20 billion liquefied natural gas project.
Among other points, security issues were also discussed in the northern part of Cabo Delgado which has been the target of terrorist attacks that has intensified in recent months, with attacks occurring near Total’s concession area. The French company paused construction and began evacuating its staff this month.
Due to the situation, the Nyusi and Pouyanné agreed on the need to establish a security plan to ensure the smooth implementation of the project, the statement seen by Pan Afrivcan Visions says.
Nyusi was accompanied at the meeting by the Ministers of Mineral Resources and Energy, Ernesto Max Tonela; of National Defence, Jaime Bessa Neto and of the Interior, Amade Miquidade.
Mozambique is weighing offers from several countries, including France, Portugal and the U.S., for help fighting the Islamic State-linked insurgents, whose attacks have left nearly 2,500 people dead and caused 570,000 to flee their homes. The government wants to stop any disruptions to the gas investments that it expects will transform one of the world’s poorest countries.
Gas production at the project Total is leading is planned to start in 2024.
Kenya eager to close free trade deal with US
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
On Tuesday, President Uhuru Kenyatta revealed that Kenya is keen to conclude the ongoing negotiations with the United States and sign Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
Kenyatta spoke at the State House when he bade farewell to the outgoing US Ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter, who paid him a courtesy visit.
President said the FTA would build on the successes achieved under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) by ushering in better and more significant trade opportunities and prospects for Kenya.
“We appreciate what has been achieved through AGOA, but it is time we moved to much more closer trade arrangements that are mutually beneficial. We will not lose focus on concluding the FTA,” reiterated Kenyatta.
The talks began on July 8, 2020, but were halted for several weeks due to disruptions caused by the novel coronavirus but resumed later in August.
The FTA will ensure fair, balanced, and reciprocal trade between the two countries, increase transparency in import and export licensing procedures, and secure comprehensive duty-free market access for each country’s products as reported by the local media.
Kenya is represented by a technical support team of 90 experts led by the Industrialisation, Trade, and Enterprise Development minister Betty Maina. On the other hand, the US negotiation team is headed by the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.
Betty Maina reiterated Kenya is keen to tap at least five per cent of the US market, which can earn the country more than Sh2 trillion in export revenues per year.
Reports indicate that Kenya is pushing to secure a free trade pact ahead of the lapse of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2025, which will do away with import tariffs on goods from eligible African nations.
The END Fund welcomes Moses Bockarie and Carol Karutu as board member and Head of Programs
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
NAIROBI, Kenya, 19 January 2021, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The END Fund is pleased to announce the appointment of Professor Moses John Bockarie as a board member, and welcomes Dr. Caroline Karutu who will be the new Head of Programs. Bockarie has been involved in the control of NTDs for over 30 years while Karutu has extensive experience designing and leading large scale public health programs.
Bockarie holds MSc and PhD degrees from the Liverpool school of Tropical Medicine in the United Kingdom for his research on NTDs and malaria transmission research in Sierra Leone, the Gambia and Mali. He also undertook postdoctoral studies on NTDs in Australia, Papua New Guinea, Sierra Leone, and the United States.
Bockarie serves as the Regional Director for Africa for the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), where he is also the legal representative of the organisation in South Africa. In his new capacity as a board member, Professor Bockarie will play a crucial role in fostering innovative technical approaches to ending NTDs, as well as exploring newer funding streams for NTD programs.
Prof. Bockarie said: “I look forward to bringing my extensive NTD research and resource mobilisation experience to the END Fund. I hope to continue working with regional bodies, academic institutions, and national disease control programmes to ensure expanded reach to affected populations.”
The END FUND’s new Head of Programs, Dr. Karutu has been a senior level career expert for nearly 20 years. Prior to her latest appointment, Dr. Karutu was the Chief of Party for the USAID-funded Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services in Eastern Uganda (RHITES-E) Project.
For her doctorate degree in public health, Dr. Karutu gathered evidence to improve retention of women living with HIV in the prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV programs in Kenya. Dr. Karutu’s expertise includes identifying and strengthening health service delivery gaps and building partnerships with governments and local communities for sustainable solutions.
Dr. Karutu will be responsible for managing project investments that the END Fund makes on behalf of investors. These include a portfolio of sub-funds that have been created to ensure that millions of Africans who are at risk of NTDs have the opportunity to live healthy and prosperous lives.
Dr. Karutu said: “I am looking forward to working with technical experts and cross-sector stakeholders in scaling up the impact of our NTD programs. Over the next decade, the END Fund’s work is going to be instrumental in ameliorating the quality of life for millions of people affected by these preventable illnesses. More than ever, it is critical that our programs are strategically positioned to reach the most vulnerable and marginalized people in society.”
Ellen Agler, CEO of the END Fund described the addition of Prof. Bockarie and Dr. Karutu as hugely influential in the organization’s efforts to move the needle forward on ending these diseases.
Agler said: “Professor Bockarie and Dr. Karutu are visionaries whose wealth of knowledge and experiences will strengthen our efforts to create a world free of parasitic worms. We are confident that they will play significant roles in our efforts to foster stronger partnerships, mobilize resources, and scale up NTD treatments.”
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the END Fund
About the END Fund:
The END Fund is the only private philanthropic initiative solely dedicated to ending the five most common neglected tropical diseases (NTDs), which affect more than 1.7 billion people globally. It efficiently puts private capital to work, advocating for NTD programs that are innovative, integrated, and cost-effective. It facilitates strong partnerships with the private sector and has supported national disease control programs in 30 countries.
Since its founding in 2012, with its partners, the END Fund has provided over 740 million donated treatments worth over $1 billion, over 12,900 surgeries for people suffering from the effects of the advanced stages of elephantiasis and trachoma, and trained more than 1.4 million people in NTD control and elimination efforts.
RDC : Daniel Ngoy Mulunda déjà devant les juges
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
Selon un des avocats du pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda, l’ancien président de la commission électorale nationale indépendante est arrivé en début de après midi de ce mardi 19 janvier à la prison de Kasapa pour y être jugé.
Daniel Ngoy Mulunda a été arrêté lundi dans sa résidence de Lubumbashi, chef lieu de la province du haut Katanga sur ordre du responsable de l’agence nationale de renseignement de la province du haut Katanga.
L’arrestation du pasteur Ngoy Mulunda fait suite à sa prédication du samedi 16 janvier. Alors que la RDC commemorait son héros national, Laurent Désiré Kabila, le pasteur Daniel Ngoy Mulunda aurait tenu des propos qui incitent à la xénophobie et à la haine tribale.
Mais pour les cadres du Fcc qui dénoncent cette arrestation, estiment que le pasteur n’a fait que dénoncé la dictature qui commence à s installer en RDC depuis l’arrivée de Félix Tshisekedi au pouvoir.
L’article RDC : Daniel Ngoy Mulunda déjà devant les juges est apparu en premier sur Matininfos.NET – Information de la RDC en toute impartialité.
Here’s what happened on the last day of NEF-GG 2020
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
KIGALI, Rwanda, December 12, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) has just concluded the first-ever virtual edition of the Next Einstein Forum Global Gathering (NEF-GG), Africa’s largest scientific gathering. Organized against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, under the theme “Building Africa’s resilience through education, research and innovation”, this year’s 3-day event was a shift from the norm as it took place through the Airmeet video conferencing platform.
With a focus on the importance of science in solving some of Africa’s most pressing problems, the last day of the summit kicked off with the viewing of Wajenzi (Science in Africa). The compelling 32-minute film on science in Africa, showed the journey through the essence, challenges, passion, and vision which drives mathematicians, with interventions from Prof Neil Turok, Prof Emile Chimusa, Dr Hind Ahmed, and many others. It also made a strong case for science as a tool for economic development by highlighting a couple of impact stories.
The first session, “International Day of Mathematics – Mathematics for a better world” featured discussions on the importance of Mathematical modeling and artificial intelligence. Starting with a foreword on the International Day of Mathematics (March 14) previously slated for the March NEF GG in Nairobi, the moderator, Prof Loyiso Nongxa, Vice President of the International Mathematical Union announced a poster challenge inviting schools to draw their posters and organize IDM classroom activities ahead of next year’s celebration. This was closely followed by a presentation on mathematical modelling of a disease transmitted from human to human, resilient systems and the power of mathematical abstraction. Prof Christiane Rousseau, Professor Emeritus, University of Montreal also led a discussion on the new field of computational sustainability, during which she explained the need to look beyond basic data and focus of unconventional forms such as satellite images of the earth: “an example is drawing maps of poverty where the states have no data,” she said. Meanwhile, while commenting on the topic ‘Mathematics and being human,’ Prof Caucher Birkar, Fields Medalist, and Professor at the University of Cambridge explained how Mathematics affects the way people behave, adding a hilarious example of how mathematicians are often too busy working to get into trouble.
During the session on “The role of mathematics in robust disease prevention and modelling in Africa”, the panel shed light on the relevance of mathematical sciences to the study of diseases, including transmission and prevention. Prof Mouhamed Moustapha Fall, Centre President, AIMS Senegal set the tone by revealing that there are presently over 23, 000 publications which study COVID-19, and have been very useful in the fight against the pandemic. Prof Samuel Mwalili, Professor, Jomo Kenyata University immediately gave some insight on how mathematics has been at the forefront like never before. He also shared a very inspiring experience during which he worked with a national team of mathematicians who provided advice on best practices to curb the spread of coronavirus. In conclusion, Prof Sophie Dabo-Niang, Professor of Applied Mathematics, University of Lille stressed the need for Africa to invest in more African scientists and modelers from the grassroots stages. “There needs to be a connection between academics and the application of mathematics in real life situations. A lot of what is taught should centre on models which both save time and also provide a solution”, she said.
On the topic of “Disruptive thinking for resilient educational systems, the panelists” explored how COVID-19 requires us to rethink education systems while ensuring equality in access to education. According to Teresa Mbagaya Principal, Imaginable Futures, some of the lessons from the pandemic demonstrated the importance of building a solid foundation alongside policies to ensure Africa is not in the same place when another crisis or natural disaster hits. Speaking on how the pandemic affected both students and teachers, Suraj Shah, Lead, Regional Centre for Innovative Teaching, Mastercard Foundation stressed the need to prioritize the training of teachers on not just how to use tech devices but also engage and educate learners effectively. He also added that teachers require more incentives like better salaries or promotions since they are the core of the learning process.
Hon. Gaspard Twgirayezu, Minister of State, Primary and Secondary Education, Rwanda concluded by explaining some of the ways Rwanda is ensuring that teachers develop themselves and their careers. “Rwanda is investing in training teachers very well, alongside partnerships to provide adequate devices. This is because with limited devices, the teachers may not feel comfortable enough using digital tools, and this will affect students,” he said.
The final NEF Fellows Spotlight Session was also set aside to showcase the work of two sets of fellows across various sectors. They include Prof Cheikh Sarr, Université de Thies; Dr Peter Martey Addo, Senior Data Scientist, Agence Française de Développement (AFD); Dr Eric Lontchi Yimagou, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Albert Einstein College of Medicine; Dr Vidushi Neergheen, Associate Professor, University of Mauritius; Dr Zaheer Allam, Research Associate, Deakin University, Australia; Dr Jessica P.R Thorn, Research Associate, University of York; Dr Daniel Akinyele, Senior Lecturer, Bells University of Technology, Dr Ebele Mogo, Doctor of Public Health, MRC Epidemiology Unit at University of Cambridge; and Dr Sara Suliman, postdoctoral research fellow, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
The final session focused on “Big data innovations addressing COVID-19 in Africa”.Dr Shikoh Gitau, CEO, Qhala limited, started by explaining the extent to which combining different data sets has helped African countries in the fight against the pandemic. “By observing what was happening in other parts of the world, analysts were able to predict or better understand the possible outcome by the time it hit Africa.” She also added that contact tracing was useful in curbing the spread of coronavirus. Meanwhile, Dr Dunstan Matekenya, Data Scientist, World Bank Group focused on the role of data in creating solutions. For this, he used the example of mobility data which helped to monitor the movement of people while ensuring they stayed at home. He also added the importance of ensuring that available data is backed by an outstanding legal framework. This session was concluded by Caitlin McDonough, Chief Education Officer, Prepr Foundation who shared an overview of scaling solutions across the continent. She also explained the need for cooperation between countries to trade using technology.
Soon after an official flag parade of the 2019-2021 class of NEF Ambassadors, organizers of NEF-GG 2020 gave their closing remarks in high spirits. They included Prof Neil Turok, AIMS Founder & International Governing Board Chair; Lydie Hakizimana, AIMS CEO, Dr Charles Lebon Mberi Kimpolo; Director, AIMS Industry Initiative and Prof Sanushka Naidoo, Chair of the Executive Committee of the NEF Community of Scientists. The 3-day event was moderated by George Ndirangu, journalist at BBC.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of AIMS.
Founded in 2003, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a pan-African network of centres of excellence for post-graduate training in mathematical sciences, research and public engagement in STEM. With centres in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon and Rwanda, AIMS is leading Africa’s socio-economic transformation through innovative scientific training, cutting-edge research, and public engagement. With expertly tailored academic and non-academic programs spanning through Centres of Excellence, Research Centres, the AIMS Industry Initiative and Gender-Responsive Teacher Training, AIMS equally created two critical initiatives: Quantum Leap Africa, which aspires to do leading-edge research in quantum science, and the Next Einstein Forum, which is positioning Africa to become an important player in global science. For more information, visit www.nexteinstein.org.
Dr Layih Butake
Senior Outreach Manager & Acting Director of Communications, AIMS
African Media Agency
Reach Africa’s 1.35-billion consumers with content in the region’s most widely spoken local languages, says Pronto Translations
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
When targeting consumers, the messaging needs to include local languages to reach that 76% that prefer reading in their native language.
NEW YORK, 19 January 2021, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- A survey undertaken recently by CSA Research (formerly Common Sense Advisory) of 8,709 consumers in 29 countries worldwide discovered that 76% of online shoppers prefer to buy products with information in their native language, with 40% stating that they would never purchase from websites in other languages. This is a 3.6% increase over a similar survey carried out in 2012 when 72.4% of the respondents indicated their preference for content in their own language.
Marketers targeting Africa have been content to issue the content for their campaigns in English and French, overlooking vast audiences who would prefer to read the offer in Arabic, Hausa, Yoruba, Igbo, Swahili or Zulu.
To understand the linguistic diversity of the African continent and how to put that diversity to work for you, see our African Languages Translation Guide.
Some key findings:
- The African continent is the world’s most linguistically diverse
- Knowing the languages of your audience is a must-when deciding the target translation languages that are the most key to communication.
- For business-to business (B2B), business to government (B2G) and government-to-government (G2G) communications, Arabic, English, French, Portuguese and Swahili are key
- For business-to-consumer (B2C) communications, the most widely spoken local languages in each country are essential
- Include an audio version (podcast) to vastly expand your reach into local audiences
Native speakers of certain African languages use the local idiom in their daily interactions with family, friends and community service-providers. The official (usually European) language is the one to be used in business and in transactions with the government. The latter practices descend from colonial times, yet continue to the present. As local languages are in such wide, everyday use, it is imperative for a business to employ them when communicating its message.
For many languages, especially the ones with large numbers of speakers, the written version of the language diverges from the spoken one. A translation that “works” when written may not work as well when spoken. The addition of an audio version neatly resolves this concern, as our translators will use a natural, local style in their spoken version of the message.
Pronto Translation’s linguists and Language Matter Experts have the necessary “on-the ground” experience as well as academic knowledge to meet these challenges.
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Pronto Translations
About Pronto Translations
With twenty years of experience in transforming corporate messaging into the world’s most spoken and lesser spoken languages, Pronto Translations is the go-to service and solution for a firm’s marketing and public relations needs. Pronto Translations offers:
- A database of several hundred linguists covering 122 languages and 307 language pairs
- Linguists who specialize in a particular industry, topic or discipline
- Linguists who were educated at the world’s best universities and accredited for translation into their native language by the translators’ association of the country in which they are resident
- Linguists who translate only into their native languages
Joshua B. Cohen, tel. +1 646 984 4073,
Covid-19 en RDC : 80 nouveaux cas positifs, 6 décès et 2 guéris lundi
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
Depuis le début de l’épidémie déclarée le 10 mars 2020, le cumul des cas est de 21.140, dont 21.139 cas confirmés et 1 cas probable. Au total, il y a eu 640 décès (639 cas confirmés et 1 cas probable) et 14.812 personnes guéries.
- 80 nouveaux cas confirmés, dont 78 à Kinshasa et 2 au Kongo Central ;
- 325 échantillons testés ;
- 6 nouveaux décès des cas confirmés dans les CTCo à Kinshasa ;
- 2 nouvelles personnes sorties guéries dans les CTCo et parmi les personnes suivies à domicile, dont 1 à Kinshasa et 1 au Nord-Kivu;
- Les coupures d’électricité se prolongent dans les différents Centres de traitement Covid-19.
N.B : Le test Covid-19 est gratuit pour tout le monde en République démocratique du Congo. Cependant, le test des voyageurs est payant à 30 dollars américains.
*Les 22 provinces touchées :
- Kinshasa : 16.771 cas ;
- Kongo Central : 1.297 cas ;
- Nord-Kivu : 1.265 cas ;
- Haut-Katanga : 595 cas ;
- Sud-Kivu : 459 cas ;
- Ituri : 224 cas ;
: 176 cas ;
- Tshopo : 100 cas ;
- Haut-Uélé : 94 cas ;
- Equateur : 48 cas ;
- Nord-Ubangi : 40 cas ;
- Maniema : 17 cas ;
- Kasaï Central : 16 cas ;
- Kwilu : 8 cas ;
- Sud-Ubangi : 7 cas ;
- Bas-Uélé : 6 cas ;
- Tanganyika : 6 cas ;
- Kasaï Oriental : 4 cas ;
- Kasaï : 2 cas ;
: 2 cas
- Tshuapa : 2 cas ;
- Haut-Lomami : 1 cas.
*/!\ Les données présentées dans ce tableau sont susceptibles de changer ultérieurement, après investigations approfondies et après redistribution des cas et décès dans leurs zones de santé respectives.*
L’article Covid-19 en RDC : 80 nouveaux cas positifs, 6 décès et 2 guéris lundi est apparu en premier sur Matininfos.NET – Information de la RDC en toute impartialité.
Construction of ACDG’s First Lodge in Gabon Under Way
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
Libreville, 12th January 2021. Despite uncertainties around global tourism recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic, construction work has commenced on ACDG’s first lodge situated on the coast within Loango National Park. The lodge is being developed by The African Conservation Development Group (ACDG) under concession from the National Parks Agency of Gabon (ANPN).
In November 2020, the leadership team of ACDG (formerly known as SFM Africa) took advantage of the gradual opening of African air traffic to travel to Gabon. This mission enabled ACDG to recommit to its development programmes in southern Gabon with the support of Government and institutional stakeholders.
With the appointment of an experienced on-site management team and the local recruitment of qualified workers, the decision was taken to accelerate the construction of the lodge at Petit Loango, located at the heart of Loango National Park. More than two hundred tons of timber, plywood, equipment, and supplies needed for construction of the back-of-house infrastructure was brought onto site in December.
The 24-bed luxury lodge aims to set a benchmark for nature-based tourism in Equatorial Africa. The lodge has been designed by award-winning architects Sylvio Rech and Lesley Carstens, who have crafted some of Africa’s most exclusive safari lodges. All timber and plywood being used for construction has been sourced from Gabonese sustainable forestry concessions.
Alan Bernstein, the chairman and founder of ACDG, said tourism was an extremely important strategic imperative for Gabon. “Our team, which has more than 30 years’ experience in developing high-end eco-tourism in Africa, is committed to contributing to Gabon’s diversification strategy. The first ACDG safari-lodge will be a flagship in Africa and will help position Gabon as a world-class destination for sustainable tourism.”
“In the current economic environment, which remains very difficult for the tourism sector, our decision to accelerate construction work on the lodge is proof of our confidence in Gabon’s nature-based tourism potential” added Bernstein.
ACDG plans to establish a network of lodges in Gabon’s national parks, starting in Loango National Park, one of the most beautiful and biodiversity-rich protected areas in Africa.
It’s Time to Rethink Licensing Rounds: For Africa’s Oil- and Gas-Producing Countries, Negotiating the Current Environment May Require…Negotiation
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By NJ Ayuk*
While the details vary by country, the licensing round process has, in general, become too prone to delays and uncertainty.
In late 2019, as the African oil and gas industry was looking to the future with optimism, Offshore Engineer wrote that the continent was had reason to expect a “more productive 2020.” Instead, the unforeseen happened, and the COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on the oil and gas industry in Africa and around the world.
But even at the end of last year, during a fairly strong period for oil and gas, the publication mentioned that “delays and hiccups” were impacting licensing rounds — that is, the processes by which investors can seek oil and gas exploration licenses from the government – and argued that improvements would have to be made going forward.
This is correct. Licensing process improvements were already needed in late 2019, and now that the oil and gas industry is in the survival mode, it’s more urgent than ever to streamline licensing.
While the details vary by country, the licensing round process has, in general, become too prone to delays and uncertainty. All too often, exploration and production (E&P) companies have to wait one or two years before the exploration projects they propose are sanctioned. These practices, which help protect the interests of oil-producing nations, made sense when crude sold for $100 a barrel. But they don’t make sense now.
After all, conditions are still uncertain. True, crude pricing forecasts for 2021 are cautiously optimistic at the moment, and Goldman Sachs has said Brent oil prices could reach $65 per barrel by this summer, up from the $50-range we’re seeing now. But the outlook for Africa’s petroleum market remains shaky at best.
And it’s not just Africa: The global oil and gas industry continues to feel the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, which dramatically lowered demand for petroleum products. As a result, oil and gas companies have made dramatic cuts to their capital spending programs, resulting in the postponement and cancellation of numerous exploration and production (E&P) projects around the world.
Under these circumstances, it’s up to African oil and gas producers to do everything possible to encourage as much E&P activity as possible, particularly by international oil companies (IOCs). In the long term, of course, African producer states do need to lessen their reliance on oil and gas revenue. But for now, a number of them rely on it for much of their budgets. And as long as they do, they ought to ask for more. They should lobby for knowledge transfers, training, gas monetization programs, and other significant opportunities so that their strategically managed oil and gas operations can create pathways for economic growth and diversification.
I’ve made a case for the importance of strategic fiscal policies, from revised production sharing contract (PSC) requirements to reduced tax and royalty requirements. Some of my friends in government have strongly criticized me for this and called me a sellout and a whiteboy. I disagree with them and I still love them, but resource nationalism is not the way to go and it is actually dangerous. I truly believe that these changes are necessary to give IOCs an incentive to explore in Africa during the current downturn. But we can’t stop there. We need to consider other pain points that discourage foreign operations in Africa and find ways to eliminate those challenges as well.
The licensing round process is one of those challenges. So why not remove this hurdle? Not all countries use licensing rounds; some use direct negotiation to approve exploration and production rights. I believe it’s time for more African oil and gas-producing states to choose this route. Negotiating with trusted explorers would help them avoid unnecessary delays and bureaucratic red tape. Making these changes would still allow them to emphasize their own priorities – and it might also make IOCs more likely to keep exploring within their borders.
Licensing Rounds Sound Good In Theory
Generally, during licensing rounds, companies submit bids or grants to issuing governments in hopes of being awarded an exploration license – that is, the right to search for commercially feasible petroleum deposits. In the case of bids, the highest ones get a license. Grant approvals, by contrast, are based on prospective explorers’ experience and capabilities. Licenses are awarded for set periods of time, and if commercially viable amounts of oil or gas are discovered, the explorers can negotiate contracts with the government for the right to extract what they find.
The licensing round process does have benefits. For participating countries, it helps make sure interested companies have the necessary financial resources and technical capacity to explore successfully. It ensures that projects are completed in a timely manner. It also helps E&P companies, since the process lays out their rights.
But again, even with their strengths, licensing rounds can create unacceptable hardships for oil companies: Countries tend to take a long time to make their licensing decisions. And when capex budgets have been slashed, waiting one (or even two) years to learn if an exploration project has the green light just won’t cut it. In today’s economic environment, it just isn’t realistic to insist on putting much-needed resources aside on the chance that they’ll be needed in a year or two.
And if we’re going to be honest with ourselves, we have to admit that we’re seeing more and more examples of licensing rounds gone wrong, from extended delays in getting the bidding process started to instances of little to no company participation.
Licensing Rounds Yielding Disappointing Results
Consider Algeria, where oil and gas production rates were already declining in 2019, before the pandemic, largely because of repeated project delays caused by, among other challenges, slow government approval. During four licensing rounds, Algeria saw minimal interest from investors.
Nigeria, too, is known for the less than speedy pace at which it sanctions exploration projects. Even before COVID-19, its slow movement on this front contributed to a decline in oil production over a 10-year period.
And in 2019, as I mentioned, there were licensing round mishaps in multiple countries. “Some rounds, for example, Ghana’s First Licensing Round, have seen limited successes, while others have suffered delays or suspension,” GlobalData Upstream Oil & Gas Analyst Toya Latham told Offshore Magazine. “Gabon’s 12th Licensing Round and Somalia’s First Offshore Licensing Round have been extended in 2020 (in part due to delays in enacting pivotal legislation), whilst Madagascar’s long overdue licensing round has been suspended.”
And we saw licensing rounds go wrong before that. In early 2018, for example, only one company responded to Cameroon’s licensing round, in which eight blocks had been available. Think about it, just one and the bureaucrats still think all is right. These issues haven’t been limited to Africa, by the way. In 2017, only one bidder responded to an opportunity to explore five offshore blocks in Lebanon. Brazil had a couple of licensing rounds fizzle in late 2019: the Transfer of Rights Surplus Round, which only brought in two bids, and the Sixth Production-Sharing Bid Round, which only attracted one bid.
We Must Consider Investors’ Perspectives
Fast forward to the oil and gas industry of 2021. In today’s reality, delayed licensing round starts and long waits for decisions are more likely than ever to dim companies’ interest. These challenges aren’t trivial, since operating in Africa already represents significant risks and expenses for IOCs. Companies must, for example, factor in the possibilities of security concerns and lapses in infrastructure along with the risks that come with every exploration project, including the failure to find commercially viable petroleum stores. Then there are the additional expenses of operating overseas, complying with local content policies, supply costs, and a myriad of taxes and fees, among others.
I’ll be the first to trumpet the opportunities for IOCs in Africa, from our vast stores of oil and gas to large swaths of unexplored territory. But we have to be realistic about how businesses work. Companies need to be able to make a reasonable profit in order to justify their outlays. And when the oil and gas industry is in the midst of a downturn, as it is now, excessive risks and expenses are the last things IOCs can consider. So we have to work with IOCs and do what we can to help them profit in order to convince them to choose African sites over other options.
Direct Negotiations Could Be a Win-Win
That’s why I think a transition from licensing rounds to direct negotiations makes sense for African countries. For one thing, negotiation periods would not be tied to rigid opening and closing schedules as licensing rounds are, minimizing the risk of unreasonably long waits for a decision. Even better, direct negotiations would allow E&P companies to work with countries to discuss, and possibly adjust, the major terms of their production contracts.
With that kind of flexibility, companies with concerns about a country — whether they have questions about tax laws or local content requirements — might be willing to pursue exploration opportunities that they would have turned down, had they been required to participate in the bidding process.
We Can Make This Work
True, even with a different licensing scheme, African countries will have other unique risk factors to address – factors that could make IOCs hesitant to invest in Africa. High on that list are concerns about corruption. That’s why the African Energy Chamber pushes so strongly for meaningful transparency measures.
And again, we can’t overemphasize the importance of creating fiscal regimes more favorable to IOCs. Those measures should include, along with fairer tax and royalty requirements, the creation of natural gas-specific production-sharing contracts, rather than relying on crude oil PSCs as a one-size-fits-all template. A lot of countries have a difficult time working with companies to get to FID on natural gas discoveries. Not only will gas PSCs help make it easier for companies to conduct profitable gas projects, they also could help prevent problems and lengthy negotiations when explorers find gas, rather than crude.
IOCs are, and can continue to be, invaluable allies to African nations. Their E&P activities contribute revenue that many oil and gas-producing countries rely on now, but we also can work with them to foster economic growth and diversification for tomorrow. African countries need IOCs to create job and business opportunities today, but we also can work with them to achieve capacity building and technological know-how that will pave the way for a better future. It only makes sense to do everything possible to give explorers the certainty, predictability, and incentives they need to be competitive in Africa.
*NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.