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ECOWAS and The Netherlands to step up development cooperation
July 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

ABUJA, Nigeria, July 10, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Kingdom of The Netherlands are stepping up their cooperation to maximise their existing cordial relations for the benefit of the people of West African.

To this end, the parties held discussions on the 9th of June 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria, to examine areas of mutual interest regarding peace and security, regional trade, economic cooperation and development, agriculture as well as cooperation in food security, among others.

Conferring with the Dutch Minister for Foreign Trade and International Cooperation Ms. Sigrid Kaag, in this regard, the ECOWAS Commission’s Vice President, Madam Finda Koroma stressed the importance of a secure, congenial environment for sustainable development.

According to Madam Vice President, the ECOWAS Commission remains a steadfast partner of The Netherlands in the desire to pursue co-prosperity in the region having regards to the peace, security and stability of ECOWAS Member States.

She stated that the collective pursuit of regional security is an endeavour that can strengthen current efforts at curtailing the problems associated with transhumance and violent extremism.

ECOWAS, she added, recognises the important role of stakeholders such as civil society and faith-based organisations, religious as well as traditional rulers, in forging strong partnerships to resolve the problems arising from the engagement of the eco system by citizens of West Africa.

Regional citizens are to benefit from training in various fields of agriculture which is expected to translate to a boost of the food security of the region with greater production of products such as Rice, Cashew and other staple foods in accordance with the strategic planning vision of the Commission.

Giving a cursory political, social and economic situation report in some member states, while disclosing that a Platform on nutrition is to be raised by the regional leaders, Vice president Koroma said the synergy being called forth in all fields, also requires a more coordinated approach to mediation.

Giving insights into her government’s engagement roadmap with the ECOWAS Commission, Minister Kaag stressed that the “prevention agenda” is strategic to the peace and security cooperation, towards the enhancement of trade and development as well as the promotion of exclusive economic growth.

Noting that phenomena such as human trafficking and climate change issues have to be tackled headlong, while dealing sensibly with seasonal labour migrations, Ms Kaag admitted that time is a limiting factor relative to the scale of work to be done as well as the scope of investment that the cooperation with ECOWAS is to bring about.

On regional trade, capacity building and skill acquisition for sector actors, Minister Kaag said that in line with the recognition being accorded women as traders and the support they deserve, the government of Netherlands was in full support of intra-regional trade and seeks to support capacity building efforts with favourable trade policies and through its digitalisation strategy.

She enthused that the Orange Corners which have been helping citizens with start-ups, is a testimony to the capacity building and citizens’ development disposition of the government of the Kingdom of The Netherlands which it is also willing to share with ECOWAS.

Led by the ECOWAS Commission’s Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement Mr. Tei Konzi, the Commission’s Directors and senior officials in charge of Trade (Mr. Gbenga Obideyi), Agriculture (Mr. Alain Traore), Free movement (Albert Boateng), Peace Support (Col Ollo Palle) and Elections (Mr. Francis Oke, brought the visiting Minister up to speed with the programmes and strides of their various Directorates.

The ten-man delegation of Minister Kaag comprised the “Chargé d’Affaires” of the Netherlands embassy in Nigeria Marion Kappeyne Van de Coppello, Departmental Directors as well as the coordinator, West Africa of her Ministry’s Africa Department, Mr. Stefan Hulisz.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission.

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Ethiopia: New journalist arrests put press freedom gains at risk
July 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 10, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Ethiopian government risks rolling back the great progress it made on media freedom last year, said Amnesty International, after the government announced plans to charge journalists and media outlets for their reporting on the armed forces.

Since taking office in April 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government has overturned the repressive civil society law and released dozens of detained journalists and bloggers. By the end of 2018, not a single journalist remained behind bars, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and, in 2019, Ethiopia leapt 40 places up the World Press Freedom Index.

However, following a wave of arrests of journalists in the past weeks, the Ministry of Defence on 8 July announced plans to charge journalists and media houses for “publishing defamatory information about the Ethiopia National Defence Forces”.

“After making great strides on press freedom, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s government received glowing tributes, and the honour of hosting this year’s World Press Freedom Day event,” Joan Nyanyuki, Amnesty International’s Director for East Africa, the Horn and the Great Lakes said.

“This new round of arrests is a hugely regressive move that risks rolling back the progress witnessed in 2018. All journalists arrested must be immediately released and all charges against them unconditionally dropped.”

Berihun Adane, Editor-in-Chief of the privately-owned Asrat TV and the weekly Berera newspaper, was arrested on 26 June, while Elias Gebru, editor of the Enqu magazine, defunct since 2014, was arrested on 6 July.

Both journalists have since been charged under the Anti- Terrorism Proclamation (2009), which was used by previous governments to bring trumped-up charges against its critics.

The latest round of arrests in the wake of the 22 June assassination of the army chief of staff and other high-ranking government officers, has also targeted activists and members of the opposition National Movement of the Amhara.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Amnesty International.

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Equatorial Guinea: Dissolution of an NGO shows escalating crackdown on civil society
July 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 10, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Authorities in Equatorial Guinea should immediately rescind their decision to dissolve a prominent civil society organization and allow human rights defenders and activists to work without fear of reprisals, Amnesty International said today.

The country’s Minister of the Interior and Local Corporations published on 5 July, a decree revoking the authorization granted to the Center for Development Studies and Initiatives (CEID) – one of the few independent NGOs that denounce human rights violations in the country, which the authorities accused of undertaking political activities.

“Forcing NGO to close is a blatant violation of the right to freedom of association and shows the lack of commitment by the Equatorial Guinea government to end its long history of harassing and intimidating human rights defenders and civil society activists,” said Marta Colomer, Amnesty International West Africa Senior Campaigner.

“By dissolving this NGO and ending its operations, the authorities have demonstrated that they are not serious about ending the persecution of human rights defenders and independent civil society.   Authorities should immediately rescind their decision to dissolve the CEID and allow civil society organizations to carry out their work without fear of reprisals.”

In the decree, the Minister accused the CEID for having undertaken “political activities” in recent years. Authorities said the fact that CEID took part in political activities is not in accordance with the statutes authorizing apolitical organizations. Amnesty International considers the dissolution as a clear violation of the right to freedom of association guaranteed by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights to which Equatorial Guinea is a state party.   

The move also took place in the context of a 20-year-old legislation regulating non-governmental organizations’ activities, putting several obstacles on their registration process, independence, functioning and development.

Furthermore, human rights defenders in Equatorial Guinea are increasingly under attack on an alarming scale.  In the last three years, several prominent human rights defenders have been targeted, ill-treated and arbitrarily detained.

Examples include the case of Alfredo Okenve who is also the vice-president of the CEID who, in March was arrested after having been banned from receiving in the capital Malabo the “Franco-German prize for human rights” for his work. Amnesty International has documented other instance where he was beaten in October 2018 by unidentified armed men using the butts of their guns and sticks. 

Violations of the rights of human rights defenders occur with repression and crackdown on political activists and the civic space.  Some opposition supporters even face torture when arrested. Joaquín Elo Ayeto, a member of the opposition party Convergence for Social Democracy and member of the Platform Somos+ was subjected to torture at least twice while at Central Police Station after his arrest earlier this year which resulted in physical injuries. He was also threatened with death by police.  At present Joaquín Elo Ayeto remains in preventive detention in Black Beach prison. 

As President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo is marking his 40 years in power, Amnesty International is calling on him to ensure that his government moves swiftly to respect, protect, promote and fulfil human rights of everyone in the country including the rights of human rights defenders and civil society activists.

“A first step would be to ensure that his government allows registration of non-governmental organizations and enables their full and independent functioning,” said Marta Colomer.

“The government should also adopt concrete and effective measures to prevent and punish cases of harassment and intimidation of human rights defenders and civil society activists.”

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Amnesty International.

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Young Ghanaian innovator shows Africa’s future lies in its talented youth
July 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

Self-taught coder develops model for diagnosing breast cancer; looks to solve some of the continent’s biggest challenges and inspires youth across the continent as Africa Code Week Youth Ambassador for 2019.

Mustapha_1
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, July 9, 2019 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- “It takes a village to raise a child”: as the Fourth Industrial Revolution sweeps across Africa and more of its youth develop coding and other digital skills, there may come a time to update this old saying to: “It takes one child to raise the prospects of a village.” And based on the quest of one young man from a village in Ghana to solve some of the major problems faced by his community, this saying could become commonplace as more young innovators enter the fray.

Inspired by global technology success stories, Mustapha Diyaol Haqq, a 19-year-old from Kumasi in Southern Ghana, realised he too could deliver innovation where it was most needed, starting with his very home town. “Seeing how the big tech companies used innovation to solve some of the world’s biggest problems made me realise how important it is to learn to code,” says Haqq. “I looked online for any free courses that could help me develop coding skills and completed as many as I could.”

Despite being self-taught, Haqq was able to develop a potentially life-saving solution for women across the continent. “I used my knowledge of coding and machine learning to develop a model for diagnosing breast cancer, which I hope to release freely to communities across Africa,” says Haqq. Also high on his agenda, hunger and food security which he sees as two of the biggest challenges faced by the continent’s rapidly growing population. “Africa relies heavily on smallholder farmers to meet its food production needs. However, much of the produce from farms are spoilt before it reaches the markets in the cities. I’m currently working on a machine learning and AI model that can help reduce post-harvest losses and ensure the work our farmers do translate into food security for our communities.”

Connectivity challenges remain limiting
Mustapha_2One of Haqq’s biggest challenges when learning to code was accessing the internet. “We don’t have a good internet connection where we live, so I had to walk kilometres to an internet café where I could access free online coding courses. Internet access is expensive but, thanks to the generous support of my parents, who made some sacrifices to give me a chance to complete a few online courses, I built sufficient coding skills to start developing solutions to some of the problems affecting our community.”

Ghana suffers from poor internet penetration, with only 14% of the population having access to the internet. Despite this, the Ghanaian government has set out an ambitious plan to position the country as a leader in ICT innovation in the sub-Saharan Africa region by 2023. Young innovators such as Haqq will undoubtedly play a crucial role in achieving the government’s ambitions and inspiring more youth to pursue careers in tech.

Haqq says internet access is also the single biggest obstacle to greater adoption of coding among African youth. “Our continent does not enjoy the fixed-line infrastructure of our more developed peers, and mobile internet can be expensive. For me to afford the internet cafes where I learned to code, my parents had to make sacrifices. Global companies can play an invaluable support role by investing in providing internet access to our communities to support us as we get ready for a digital future.”

Lighting a coding fire among Africa’s youth as Youth Ambassador for Africa Code Week 2019
Mustapha_6One of the initiatives working to address digital literacy in Ghana is SAP’s Africa Code Week, an annual, continent-wide digital literacy programme that has engaged over 4.1 million youth in 37 African countries since 2015. “I participated in Africa Code Week as an opportunity to share my knowledge with young people in my community and inspire more youngsters to learn one of the most important languages of our time: coding,” says Haqq. “I am also a volunteer and instructor for Ghana Code Club, and with the help of some friends we have established coding clubs in several communities, where we spend our free time and weekends teaching both kids and adults to code. Being appointed Youth Ambassador for ACW 2019 is a dream come true, and a unique opportunity to inspire change on a global platform, encouraging young talents across the continent to learn digital skills and code the change they want to see in their community.”

SAP, UNESCO and over 130 partners from the public, private and non-profit sectors are currently gearing up to introduce coding skills to 1.5 million youth across 37 countries in October 2019. According to Claire Gillissen-Duval, Director of EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility and Africa Code Week Global Lead at SAP, this 2019 edition will feature a strong focus on empowering girls and building teaching capacity at the community level, hence the importance of role models like Mustapha. “We are extremely proud and honoured to welcome Mustapha as our Youth Ambassador for ACW 2019. He overcame major challenges and his amazing journey has the power to inspire many. As a young innovator and change maker, his mentorship and guidance will be crucial as we strive to empower an entire generation and strengthen teaching capacity in ICT education among African communities.”

Stay tuned for #ACW2019 taking place in October across 37 countries. For more information visit www.africacodeweek.org

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.

For more information, visit the SAP News Center. Follow SAP on Twitter at @sapnews, @SAPAfrica.

About Africa Code Week
Spearheaded in 2015 by SAP’s EMEA Corporate Social Responsibility department as part of its social investments to drive sustainable growth in Africa, Africa Code Week is instilling digital literacy and coding skills in the young generation, to drive sustainable learning impact across Africa. Strong partnerships with the public, private and non-profit sectors are the driving force behind the initiative’s ability to drive sustainable learning impact in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals.Africa Code Week has benefitted over 4 million young Africans so far and is now actively supported by UNESCO YouthMobile, BMZ, Google and over 130 partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent. SAP also works closely with UNESCO to increase girl participation in ACW workshops. The fifth edition of ACW will see thousands of free coding workshops organised for 1.5 million youth across 37 countries in October 2019, with a strong focus on girl empowerment and community capacity building.
Join SAP and partners by visiting www.africacodeweek.org to find out more.

About SAP
As the cloud company powered by SAP HANA®, SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software, helping companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP® system. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced analytics technologies help turn customers’ businesses into intelligent enterprises. SAP helps give people and organizations deep business insight and fosters collaboration that helps them stay ahead of their competition. We simplify technology for companies so they can consume our software the way they want – without disruption. Our end-to-end suite of applications and services enables more than 437,000 business and public customers to operate profitably, adapt continuously, and make a difference. With a global network of customers, partners, employees, and thought leaders, SAP helps the world run better and improve people’s lives. For more information, visit www.sap.com.

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Leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa join forces to accelerate elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases
July 9, 2019 | 0 Comments

On the sidelines of the African Union Summit, national and international leaders join the “No to NTDs” movement to reduce the burden of neglected tropical diseases in sub-Saharan Africa

DAKAR, Senegal, July 9th,  2019, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/-  The high-level side event was convened as part of the African Union Summit, by policy and advocacy tank Speak Up Africa, in partnership with the Ministry of Health and First Lady of Niger, H.E Mrs. Aïssata Issoufou. Held under the High Patronage of His Excellency Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, and chaired by the First Lady of Niger, the convening saw high level speakers from across the region discuss the challenges to NTD elimination and collaborative strategies to accelerate progress against diseases that currently blight the lives of millions of people across the region.

Over 100 participants attended the event including H.E Mrs. Sika Kaboré, First Lady of Burkina Faso, H.E Mrs. Hinda Deby Itno, First Lady of Chad, H.E Mrs. Antoinette Sassou Nguesso, First Lady of Congo and current President of the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD), the Queen of ESwatini, Dr. Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Abdourahmane Diallo, Executive Director of the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Mrs. Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary of the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA), Dr. Idi Illiassou Mainassara, Minister of Health of Niger, Mrs. Françoise Vanni, External Relations Director of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.

 The event provided attending leaders with a platform to assess the progress toward NTD elimination on the continent and learn from best practices for informed decisions on the creation of sustainable partnerships for universal health coverage.

 

His Excellency Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger

His Excellency Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger

His Excellency Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou, President of Niger, underlined the importance that his government attaches to health, particularly through the implementation of Niger’s Renaissance program, which will help the country achieve its universal health coverage objectives.

H.E Mrs. Aïssata Issoufou, First Lady of Niger, commented: “After all progress, particularly in countries most heavily burdened with NTDs, depends on strong and consistent country leadership and regional coordination, to ensure that all people, particularly the most vulnerable and marginalized, have access to quality health services and NTD prevention methods.”

Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a diverse group of communicable diseases which affect more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, 39% of whom live in Africa. NTDs affect the most vulnerable members of society, and whilst there has been some progress in recent years, attendees at the event emphasized that failing to do more to fight NTDs now, including developing new tools and resources, will have significant consequences for future generations in Africa.

In Niger, NTDs including lymphatic filariasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminthiasis and trachoma are endemic. A highlight of the event was therefore the formal launch of a new monitoring and accountability tool to help better manage NTD prevention and treatment initiatives in Niger. Launched by the Government of Niger, the new NTD ‘scorecard’ will measure national and sub-national progress against NTDs, including the number of cases of these diseases reported in each region, the number of interventions supplied to prevent cases of NTDs, and the rate of treatment offered to those affected.

Dr Matshidiso Rebecca Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, commented: “As we make progress in the fight against NTDs, the momentum presented by universal health coverage is a unique opportunity to harness our synergies to ensure that no one is left behind”.

Ms. Yacine Djibo, Executive Director, Speak Up Africa, commented: “The elimination of neglected tropical diseases is within reach. All of us here, in this room and beyond, have a responsibility to act to accelerate the elimination of these diseases by 2030. More than ever, we need to mobilize our financial and technical resources. The commitment and ownership of this NTD control and elimination by the communities remains crucial to overcome these diseases.”

At the meeting, HE Mrs. First Lady of Niger Aïssata Issoufou stressed the need to adopt new innovative approaches. Three days before the meeting, the government of Niger launched a national coalition against NTDs, which aims to strengthen coordination among partners to maximize available financial and technical resources and diversify partners fighting for the elimination of NTDs. This marks the launch of the ‘No to NTDs’ campaign in Niger, implemented in partnership with Speak Up Africa. The campaign aims to increase commitment and ownership of NTD elimination at all levels of society.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Speak Up Africa.

About Speak up Africa
Headquartered in Dakar, Senegal, Speak Up Africa is a policy and advocacy action tank dedicated to catalyzing leadership, enabling policy change, and increasing awareness for sustainable development in Africa. Speak Up Africa ensures policy makers meet implementers; that solutions are showcased and that every sector- from individual citizens and civil society groups to global donors and business leaders –contributes critically to the dialogue and strives to form the blueprints for concrete action for public health and sustainable development.

Find out more on:
* Website: www.speakupafrica.org/
* Twitter: @SpeakUpAfrica1  
* Facebook: @SpeakUpAfrica 
* Instagram: @speakupafrica 
* LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/speak-up-africa

Media contact:
Fara Ndiaye
fara.ndiaye@speakupafrica.org

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Mashrou3i Supported Entrepreneurs Prove Environmental Protection and Economic Growth Go Hand in Hand
July 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

TUNIS, Tunisia, July 8, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Protecting the environment is a global priority and is as urgent in Tunisia as it is anywhere else in the world. Economic growth has at times been detrimental to the fragile natural environment and there is a rising call for a new mindset to help mitigate climate change.

In 2014, Tunisia became one in a handful of nations to enshrine its commitment to climate stewardship in its constitution, recognizing the necessity of preserving the environment and protecting natural resources for future generations. Its Article 45 also obligates the state to “provide the necessary means to eradicate environmental pollution”. And while the government has paved the way for action, Tunisian businesses play a significant role in realizing the transformation to a greener economy.

This month, we shine a light on entrepreneurs supported by the Mashrou3i project who are proving the power and potential of green business. We explore how the private-public partnership between the Tunisian government, USAID, the Italian Cooperation, the HP Foundation and UNIDO is merging green skills with business know how to foster a new generation of eco-minded entrepreneurs in Tunisia’s interior regions.

Investing in Clean Energy

To expand the country’s renewable energy capacity, the Tunisian government is investing heavily in the sector. The country aims to increase the share of renewable energy in electricity consumption from the current 3% to 30% by 2030. Many farmers have already received subsidies to power their wells and irrigation systems with solar energy. The state-run energy agency also offers discounts for homes that heat water with solar panels. But what about entrepreneurs in this field?

Forward-thinking entrepreneurs like Nizar Thlijani from Kairouan are proving that cleaner energy is a sound investment. In 2018, Mashrou3i provided Nizar with a 10-day technical training on the maintenance of hydraulic pumps and the installation of photovoltaic panels for rural irrigation. The 33-year-old entrepreneur also took part in a HP LIFE workshop to strengthen his business and IT skills. Since then, Nizar has gained several clients, promoting clean energy use in the region’s agricultural sector.

Championing Sustainability

When the Tunisian government introduced a ban on the sale of plastic bags, Nouha Issaoui saw an opportunity to launch a business that produces a sustainable alternative. With Mashrou3i support and training she launched Bio Bag, a firm producing recycled paper bags in Sidi Bouzid with an investment of 250,000 Tunisian Dinars. Actively promoting ecological practices in Tunisia, the young entrepreneur is also about to start exporting her products to other African countries and Europe.

Supporting Local Development

A huge amount of plastic doesn’t get recycled. It ends up in landfill or littering our oceans, leading to the release of harmful toxins into the environment. Mohamed Fadhel identified an eco-friendly business idea to help solve this challenge. Launched in 2018, Plastic Recovery, specializes in the collection and recycling of household and industrial plastic waste. Once the plastic is sorted and cleaned it is transformed into plastic granules that are then sold to plastic injection companies for reuse.

Plastic Recovery also shows that green businesses can and do benefit local communities. The firm is not only successfully generating a profit. It’s also creating jobs and stimulating Sidi Bouzid’s social and solidarity economy.

In addition to support from Mashrou3i’s regional expert, Mohamed received several trainings to improve his sales, communication skills and empower him to assess and enhance the environmental impact of his business activities.

Green Business can also be Low Tech

Green solutions are not all about photovoltaic panels and biofuels. Inspired by her passion for decoration and textiles, 28-year-old Olfa Romdhani launched a business that encourages people to breathe new life into their furniture, rather than simply throwing it away.

Combining traditional tapestry techniques with modern designs, Alpha Déco offers customers the possibility to upcycle their belongings. By prolonging the life cycle of objects and avoiding waste, the business ultimately challenges our throw-away society. Olfa is one of many entrepreneurs who received support from Mashrou3i as she started the journey of entrepreneurship.

Green Means Business

Contrary to popular criticism of environmentalism, green business practices and economic growth are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they often they go hand-in-hand.

Mashrou3i is promoting energy efficiency and its business benefits among students through the integration of the HP LIFE program into Tunisian higher education institutions. Samir Arfa, an Educator in Electrical Engineering at ISET Kairouan has played an active role in the adoption of the HP LIFE training into the higher education institution’s curricula, including the program’s ‘Energy Efficiency: Do More for Less’ course. Through the online training, students learn how to assess and conserve energy to save a business money and protect the environment.

 So far, more than 100 students from the ISET Kairouan have enhanced their energy awareness through the HP LIFE e-Learning program.

A New Wave of ‘Green’ MSMEs

Green businesses, are by and large micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) -whether a renewable energy company, recycling firm or locally sourced handicraft business. And even if these MSMEs do not have a green mission at their core, they are deeply rooted in the needs of their community and local environment, and therefore often have an incentive to be good environmental stewards.

Mashrou3i is fostering a new cadre of green entrepreneurs through the HP LIFE e-learning program, deep dive business coaching and technical assistance. In the last two years, the private-public partnership between the Tunisian government, USAID, the Italian Cooperation, the HP Foundation and UNIDO has provided intensive training to over 104 people in environmental techniques to improve their waste management and enhance their environmental awareness.

By empowering future generations with the right tools and know-how, like the Mashrou3i supported entrepreneurs seen here, green entrepreneurship in Tunisia has a bright future.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the US Embassy in Tunis.

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The 3rd Women In Africa (WIA) Initiative annual World Summit DEFINED HOW AFRICAN BUSINESS WOMEN CAN TAKE THE LEAD
July 5, 2019 | 0 Comments

MARRAKESH, Morocco, July 05, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- At the 3rd Women in Africa Annual Summit held in Marrakech June 27th and 28th, 2019, the delegates coming from more than 80 countries agreed that African women need to take the leading role in defining how they want to develop business with the rest of the world.

“Together we are and we will change the centuries’ old story of Africa through the magic of women from all part of Africa, from Asia, the Middle East and America and from the few men who have understood that we are changing Africa for the greater good of all of us,” said Women in Africa President Hafsat Abiola.

The ‘greater good’ was symbolized by the exceptional presence of Alaa Salah, the 22-year-old Sudanese student, now known throughout the world as the Lady Liberty of Sudan after she spoke up in a demonstration demanding the installation of a democratic and civilian government in her country. As she did last April, she reminded the audience the poem she read, standing fearless on top of a car: “It is not the bullet that kills; What kills is the silence of people.”

The 550 women and men leaders, representing the economic, governmental, cultural and civil society from more than 80 countries never kept silent during the Women In Africa third annual summit and the parallel WIA54 program dedicated to laureate women entrepreneurs coming from every African country but one.

Placed under the High Patronage of his Majesty King Mohammed VI, the Women in Africa annual conference welcomed for the first-time official delegations from the United States, the Middle East and Asia. Together, they worked on the theme: “How African Women Engage the World and Create a New Paradigm.”

“If you get the right people together and get them engaged on subjects, great things happen,” said the Kuwaiti Princess Intisar Al Sabah who attended the conference along with a delegation from her home country. “From the opening speech, the whole subject was: ‘let us collaborate for a better Africa and a better world.’ This set everyone’s mood to engage and collaborate with one another.”

Three specific sessions addressed how Africa can revisit its business relationships with America, Asia, and Europe.

“We have to stop thinking ‘charity’ when we talk about women of Africa,” said Aude de Thuin founder of Women in Africa and of the Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society. “The only message is, ‘women in the economy are at the same level as men,’” de Thuin added.

If Africa has done a lot of work in terms of empowering its population to be able to scale up and create a wealthy continent, there remains a gap in how the rest of the world understands the kind of development Africa is going through.

The presence of Africa and of African women in the media around the world appeared to be one of the two key paths toward creating a new paradigm. As American television anchor and lawyer Star Jones explained, it is urgent that Africa, and especially African women write their own narrative. “In other words, you do not want to allow the news media to dictate how the world sees you,” Jones said. “You write your own narrative and you tell the world who you are.”

“Africa is capable of producing its own images and telling its own stories,” added Denise Epoté, Regional Director for TV5 in Africa.

The other path to a new paradigm is to take the lead of professional investment prospection in Asia, beyond India and China through a demanding process that includes transparency and positive social impact.

Acknowledging the growing diversity of African-Asian economic exchange, delegates agreed that Europeans need to revisit their own business relationships with African countries and corporations to remain competitive.

The new African paradigm was also implemented at Women in Africa by the 53 women entrepreneur laureates of WIA54 2019, an initiative launched by WIA Philanthropy Foundation and aimed at high-potential African women entrepreneurs who are creating tomorrow’s Africa. They all participated in a two-day series of training workshops to guide them on the fundamentals of a startup at the crucial moments of its development.

“Africa is the only region in the world where more women than men choose an entrepreneurial career, a reality that underscores the work of Women in Africa Philanthropy, which we are proud to sponsor for the second consecutive year,” said Société Générale CEO Frédéric Oudéa in closing of the summit. “Opening a field of possibilities to the feminine dynamic will have a certain impact on the future of the African continent.”

“The 53 Women Entrepreneurs represent every country of Africa but Eritrea,” explained its program manager Seynabou Thiam. “They were selected among 1,800 applicants, which confirms the force of women entrepreneurship in Africa,” Thiam explained.

“These young women entrepreneurs represent the future of not only their countries but the future of Africa and the world,” said WIA54 Godmother Ann Walker Marchant, founder of The Walker Marchant Group in Washington D.C. and a former White House Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton. “They are innovative, creative and fierce. They are breaking glass ceilings and changing the perception of business in Africa. These fresh faces are the future.”

Seven of the 53 WIA54 2019 were also honored and their projects distinguished on seven different themes during a ceremony that started and concluded with a spontaneous enthusiastic and emotional party:

* Ley Zoussi (Republic of Congo) in agriculture for Complete Farmer and her community agriculture platform;

* Gladys Nelly Kimani (Kenya) on digital for Class Teacher Network and her application that digitizes the school path;

* Fadzayi Chiwandire (South Africa) in education for DIV:A Initiative, her NGO that teaches young girls how to code;

* Ehiaghe Aigiomawu (Nigeria) in fintech, for Vesicash and her instant escrow technology;

* Corine Maurice Ouattara (Ivory Coast) in health, for her Mousso Health Pass, the digital medical record on connected bracelets;

* Mariam Sherif (Egypt) in environment, for Reform Studio, her eco-friendly design products;

* Grace Camara (Sierra Leone) for social innovation, with RemitFund, which transforms the African diaspora funds’ transfers into social investments.

Roland Berger and Women In Africa published on this occasion their third study on African Women Entrepreneurs. Although Africa has more women entrepreneurs than any of the other continents (24% of women are entrepreneurs), African business women could make their startup companies more sustainable and profitable if access to professional training, support, telecommunications and banking structures were developed.

Other personalities such as Awa Ndiaye Seck (UN Women), Cathia Lawson Hall (Société Générale), Viviane Onano (Leading Light Initiative), Swaady Martin (Yswara), Alyse Nelson (President of Vital Voices), Rokia Traoré (singer-songwriter and cultural entrepreneur), Aïssata Diakité (Zabaan Holding), Francine Ntoumi, Oby Ezekwesili (#BringBackOurGirls) and Veronica Colondam (YCAB Foundation) participated in conversations that spanned from financial inclusion, women in science, arts & culture, the impact of climate change, development of women’s leadership, investing in the new generation of young digital innovators, facilitating women’s access to finance and agriculture markets, corruption and gender among others

Women in Africa also celebrated the African Man of the Year with the AMOYA 2019

AMOYA: African Man Of the Year Award
The AMOYA Award was presented this year to Younes El Mechrafi, Director General of the Moroccan Games and Sport (MDJS) and Vice-President Africa of the World Federation Federation for Company Sport.

“This award recognizes Younes El Mechrafi’s commitment to women’s sport through the MDJS,” said de Thuin.

Indeed, the MDJS supports and sponsors initiatives for the inclusion of women in sport:

* The association “Women, Achievements and Values”, chaired by Moroccan track and field champion Nezha Bidouane, organizes women’s races to mobilize and raise awareness on the importance of physical exercise.

* The Aicha des Gazelles rally

* Rabat Bike, for women’s cycling in Rabat

* TIBU Women’s Camp, which offers intensive basketball courses

* The Sahrawi women’s solidarity raid in Dakhla

African Agricultural Woman of the Year Award
“Women play a major role in agricultural production and product processing, and their role is essential in the development of food security,” explained Abiola.

In 2020, Women in Africa and Moroccan company OCP will present for the first time the African Agricultural Woman of the Year Award to recognize in Africa and beyond a woman leader in agriculture for her good practices and innovative solutions.

The work of Women in Africa has also been made possible thanks to an engaged network of 34 Ambassadors, and 22 of them traveled to Marrakesh this year from faraway places such as Djibouti and Colombia. For the two days preceding the summit, OCP hosted this group of committed senior women leaders at their Polytechnique University Mohammed VI of Benguérir for a series of brainstorming meetings led by Roland Berger. WIA Ambassadors devised new actions and projects to reach out to women leaders throughout the African continent including the works of WIA Agriculture, WIA Education, WIA Mentoring and local debates on culture and education, thus conceiving new directions for Women in Africa.

Closing the conference with a conversation with Alaa Salah, Abiola invited the activist-who studies architecture-to become the first young leader of Women in Africa, a program to be launched in 2020 and told her that she has now a group of women leaders who will cheer for her to become a politician, and perhaps not in the distant future, President of Sudan. The delegates of Women in Africa actually did not wait: they jumped on the stage, and one after the other, they all gave Salah a hug.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Women In Africa.

About Women In Africa
Women in Africa (WIA), founded by Aude de Thuin in 2016 and chaired by Hafsat Abiola, is an international platform dedicated to the economic development and support of leading and high potential African women. Through this initiative, WIA wishes to reveal the potential of African women and connect them at a continental and international level. The 3rd WIA Initiative Summit will be held in Marrakech on June 27-28, 2019 and will be under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI.

www.wia-initiative.com – #WIASUMMIT – #WIAInitiative – #Womenempowerment – #WIAPhilanthropy #Projet54 | #WIAPhilantropy

Press Contact WIA
Sophie Touchot
+33 7 77 98 25 58
sophie.touchot@havas.com

Press Contact WIA Maroc
Dounia Z. Mseffer
+212 667 54 54 11
msefferdounia@gmail.com

Press Contact for North America
JC Agid
+19173498361
Jcagid@thirstyseveneast.com

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Boeing Pledges Support to Families, Communities Affected by Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 Accidents
July 4, 2019 | 0 Comments
CHICAGO, July 4th, 2019 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Ahead of Independence Day in the U.S., Boeing [NYSE: BA] announced $100 million in funds to address family and community needs of those affected by the tragic accidents of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. These funds will support education, hardship and living expenses for impacted families, community programs, and economic development in impacted communities. Boeing will partner with local governments and non-profit organizations to address these needs. This initial investment will be made over multiple years.

“We at Boeing are sorry for the tragic loss of lives in both of these accidents and these lives lost will continue to weigh heavily on our hearts and on our minds for years to come. The families and loved ones of those on board have our deepest sympathies, and we hope this initial outreach can help bring them comfort,” said Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing chairman, president and CEO.

“We know every person who steps aboard one of our airplanes places their trust in us. We are focused on re-earning that trust and confidence from our customers and the flying public in the months ahead.”

Boeing will release additional information in the near future.

Consistent with Boeing’s regular process for employee charitable donations, company employees will also have the opportunity to make donations in support of the families and communities impacted by the accidents. Boeing will match these employee donations through December 31, 2019.


Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Boeing. 
 
Contacts

Members of the news media should direct queries to media@boeing.com.

For all other questions related to this announcement, please contact BoeingCommunitySupport@boeing.com.

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Libya: UN arms embargo violations put Tripoli’s 1.2 million civilians in grave danger
July 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 3, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The lives and security of Tripoli’s 1.2 million civilians hang in the balance as warring parties use a range of sophisticated weapons imported into Libya in contravention of a UN arms embargo, Amnesty International said today as it released a new video marking three months since the battle began.

The escalating violence since 4 April has forced more than 100,000 civilians to flee from their homes and knocked out the electricity supply for long periods each day – impacting health care and other basic services in many parts of the city. Rocket and artillery strikes often hit civilian areas far from the frontline and frequently disrupt flights into Tripoli’s only functioning airport.

“The drastic impact of the battle for Tripoli is even visible from space, with satellite imagery showing large swathes of the city now cloaked in darkness. Meanwhile footage and photographic evidence we have gathered and verified from the ground show that civilian areas, homes and infrastructure are bearing the brunt of the damage,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International. 

“The UN arms embargo is meant to protect civilians in Libya. But Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey, among others, are blatantly flouting it by providing sophisticated armoured vehicles, drones, guided missiles and other weapons. The UN Security Council must urgently take steps to enforce the embargo, and the warring parties must respect international humanitarian law and stop recklessly endangering civilians.”

Background

Armed conflict in and around Tripoli escalated on 4 April 2019, when forces from the self-proclaimed Libyan National Army, led by General Khalifa Haftar, launched an offensive to capture the city from Libya’s internationally recognized Government of National Accord.

Since the offensive began, both through sources on the ground and analysis of verified video content and satellite imagery, Amnesty International has documented both sides violating international humanitarian law – including potential war crimes – with indiscriminate attacks on residential areas and attacks on migrant and refugee detention centres. 

The UN Security Council imposed a comprehensive arms embargo on arms supplies to and from Libya in February 2011 (Res 1970). Since June 2016 (Res 2292), the Security Council has authorized member states to inspect vessels on the high seas off Libya’s coast believed to be in violation of the arms embargo.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Amnesty International. 

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Egypt: Series of draconian laws ‘legalizes’ unprecedented repression six years since fall of Morsi
July 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

GENEVA, Switzerland, July 3, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Egyptian authorities are attempting to normalize human rights violations by passing a series of laws to “legalize” their escalating crackdown on freedom of expression, association and assembly, said Amnesty International, six years since recently deceased former President Mohamed Morsi was ousted from power on 3 July 2013.

The organization has today published a damning overview of human rights in Egypt since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s ascent to power, which has been submitted to the UN Human Rights Council ahead of Egypt’s upcoming periodic review of its human rights record in November.

“Since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi came to power, the human rights situation in Egypt has experienced a catastrophic and unprecedented deterioration. Through a series of draconian laws and repressive tactics by its security forces, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government has orchestrated a concerted campaign to bolster the state’s grip on power by further eroding judicial independence and imposing suffocating restrictions on the media, NGOs, trade unions, political parties, and independent groups and activists,” said Magdalena Mughrabi, Deputy Middle East and North Africa Director at Amnesty International.

Under his rule and under the guise of fighting terrorism, Egypt has witnessed thousands of arbitrary arrests including hundreds targeting peaceful critics and protesters, as well as continuing impunity for widespread human rights violations including torture and other ill-treatment, mass enforced disappearances, extrajudicial executions, and excessive use of force.

Since 2014, more than 1,891 death sentences have been handed down and at least 174 people executed, often following grossly unfair trials.

Of the 300 human rights recommendations made to Egypt by other states during its previous review at the UN Human Rights Council in 2014, Egypt accepted 237 and partially accepted a further 11. However, Amnesty International’s research indicates that in practice Egypt has failed to implement any reforms in line with these recommendations.

Legalizing repression

Egypt’s 2017 NGO law is a prime example of the draconian laws the Egyptian authorities have introduced to stifle freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The law grants the authorities the powers to deny registration to NGOs, curtails their activities and funding, and permits prosecution of staff for vaguely worded offences. Plans to amend the NGO law were announced in December 2018 but it remains unclear whether the proposed amendments would address human rights concerns. Since 2014, at least 31 NGO staff members have faced travel bans and the authorities have frozen the assets of 10 individuals and seven NGOs as part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the foreign funding of NGOs.

In 2018 Egyptian authorities approved new media and cybercrime laws which have further empowered them to censor print, online and broadcast media. According to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression, since May 2017, the authorities have blocked at least 513 websites, including news sites and websites of human rights organizations.

A series of legislative amendments signed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2017 have also allowed the authorities to carry out mass arbitrary arrests, permit indefinite pre-trial detention and undermine the right to a fair trial.

Since 2013, thousands have been held in pre-trial detention for prolonged periods, sometimes for up to five years, often in inhuman and cruel conditions lacking adequate medical care and with little or no access to family visits. In some cases, police have even detained individuals for months after the courts had ordered their release.

Throughout the period, the Egyptian authorities have routinely relied on a colonial era law on assembly, adopted in 1914, and the draconian protest law of 2013 as well as and the 2015 counter-terrorism law to arbitrarily restrict freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association.

During an intensified crackdown between December 2017 and January 2019, at least 158 people were arrested for peacefully criticizing the authorities, attending political gatherings or taking part in protests. More recently, in May and June 2019, the Egyptian authorities arrested at least 10 peaceful opponents, including a former member of parliament, opposition party leaders, journalists and activists.

Egypt’s Military Justice Code also continues, contrary to international standards, to allow trials of civilians before military courts, which lack independence and are inherently unfair. Hundreds have been sentenced to death after unfair mass trials. 

The authorities have also passed laws that have enhanced restrictions on independent trade unions and have bolstered impunity for senior members of the armed forces for crimes committed between 2013 and 2016, a period during which hundreds of protesters were unlawfully killed by security forces. 

Amendments to Egypt’s constitution adopted in 2019 weaken the rule of law, undermine the independence of the judiciary, expand military trials for civilians, further erode fair trial guarantees and enshrine impunity for members of the armed forces.

The constitutional amendments will also enable President al-Sisi to fully control the implementation of laws that “legalize” repression by granting him far-reaching powers to appoint senior judges and oversee judicial affairs.

“Under President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s rule, laws and the judicial system, which are meant to uphold the rule of law and protect people’s rights, have been transformed into tools of repression used to prosecute anyone who peacefully criticizes the authorities, while security forces routinely use torture to extract false confessions and obtain convictions in grossly unfair trials,” said Magdalena Mughrabi. 

“The international community must stop being silent witnesses to the Egyptian authorities’ decimation of civil society, crushing of all signs of dissent and jailing of peaceful critics and opponents who face torture, enforced disappearances and cruel and inhuman prison conditions. States, particularly those who made human rights recommendations to Egypt during its last UN review have a duty to speak out to stop this catastrophic human rights decline.”

Amnesty International is also calling on all states to take concrete action and suspend the transfer of policing equipment and surveillance technology being used by Egyptian authorities to repress peaceful opposition.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Amnesty International.

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DR Congo: UN food agency triples aid in strife-hit Ituri province
July 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

Food aid is being tripled for troubled Ituri province in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to respond to what the World Food Programme (WFP) has described as the world’s second largest hunger crisis in the world, after Yemen.

NEW YORK, United States of America, July 3, 2019-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- In addition to worsening hunger, communities in north-east DRC face a deadly Ebola outbreak and inter-ethnic clashes that claimed at least 117 lives between 10 and 13 June, according to a recent report by the UN human rights office, OHCHR.

Announcing the aid scale-up operation on Tuesday, WFP spokesperson Hervé Verhoosel warned that “people are dying of hunger, or, malnutrition is such that they are dying”.

He added that although there is no accurate data on the total number of deaths from hunger in Ituri, 13 million people are food insecure nationally, including five million acutely malnourished children.

The situation has worsened because of an increase in clashes between Hema herders and Lendu farmers that have driven people from their homes, along with rising food prices; a lack of income and access to a varied diet; and crop damage due to insects; and disease epidemics.

‘Senseless cruelty’

Addressing the rising violence, Mr. Verhoosel said: “This senseless cruelty comes right at harvest time, where the newly displaced have had to flee their homes in rural villages with very little or nothing”. He added that “many victims of this increase in violence are malnourished and have been forced to move numerous times…they are seeking security in urban centres and in the bush.”

According to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, inter-ethnic violence has led to the mass displacement of 300,000 people since June, while some 7,500 people have crossed into neighbouring Uganda from DRC, across Lake Albert.

Together with North Kivu province, people in Ituri are also living through the DRC’s worst recorded Ebola virus outbreak, which WFP is helping to contain by providing assistance to people infected by the often fatal disease and their families and friends, in a bid to prevent at-risk populations from making unnecessary journeys.

In its latest Ebola update, the UN and authorities reported that since the outbreak began on 1 August 2018, 2,338 people have been infected with Ebola, including 2,244 confirmed and 94 probable cases.

A total of 1,571 people have died (1,477 confirmed and 94 probable) and 653 have recovered from the illness.

To help 5.2 million people across DRC for the next six months, the UN food agency said that it needs $155 million, including $35 million to respond directly to Ebola.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the United Nations.

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Facilitating Agricultural Results, Modernization, and Educational Resources (FARMER) NOFO
July 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

TUNIS, Tunisia, July 2, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Assistance Unit and Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs Office of Assistance Coordination (NEA/AC) announce a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) to support the development of the Tunisian agriculture sector, the Facilitating Agricultural Results, Modernization, and Educational Resources (FARMER). 

This NOFO aims to support the development of the Tunisian agriculture sector by providing technical assistance to the Agence de la Vulgarisation et de la Formation Agricoles  (AVFA) (Agricultural Training and Extension Agency) and modernizing vocational training centers around the country.  

The deadline to apply for this opportunity is July 31, 2019.  Contingent on the availability of funds, approximately $5,000,000 will be available to support one (1) award.  For more information, please visit the following link: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=317882

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the US Embassy in Tunis.

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