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DR Congo doctor Denis Mukwege wins Sakharov prize
October 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

Denis Mukwege have been helping thousands of victims of sexual violence in the DR Congo Denis Mukwege have been helping thousands of victims of sexual violence in the DR Congo[/caption]

A doctor from the Democratic Republic of Congo has won Europe’s top human rights prize for helping thousands of gang rape victims in the country.

Denis Mukwege was announced the winner of the Sakharov prize by the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The 59-year-old gynaecologist set up the Panzi hospital in eastern Congo in 1999 to treat women who have been subject to horrific sexual violence. He will collect 50,000 euros (£39,400; $63,600) prize next month. Two years ago Dr Mukwege survived an assassination attempt after condemning the continued use of sexual violence in DR Congo by forces fighting to control the country’s vast mineral wealth. Ukraine protest group Euromaidan and Azerbaijani activist Leyla Yunus came second and third respectively. The Sakharov prize – named after famous Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov – is awarded each year for the promotion of human rights and democracy around the world. Last year, it was awarded to Pakistani child education activist Malala Yousafzai. Previous winners of the prestigious prize included Nelson Mandela and Aung San Suu Kyi. *Source BBC]]>

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Africa: AllAfrica Chair Amadou Mahtar Ba Awarded Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize
October 13, 2014 | 0 Comments

Amadou Mahtar Ba Amadou Mahtar Ba[/caption] Amadou Mahtar Ba, executive chair and AllAfrica co-founder, is recipient of the Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize (LAAP) by theMillennium Excellence Foundation for his contributions to media development in Africa. During the award ceremony on October 10 in the Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom, Mr. Ba was cited for helping to lead the successful restructuring and privatization of the Pan-African News Agency (PANA) during the 1990s and leading the African Media Initiative for the past six years, as well as his role in creating and leading AllAfrica Global Media, the leading online source for information from and about Africa, which operates Mr. Ba served was president of AllAfrica from the launch in 2000 and, since 2011, as Board chair. He is married to Jessica Davis Ba and they have five sons. Other 2014 LAAP laureates include Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan; United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes; African Development Bank President Donald Kaberuka; Navanethem Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights; Folorunsho Alakija, Nigerian fashion pioneer; Jay Naidoo, who served in Nelson Mandela’s first Cabinet and now chairs the Partnership Council of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN); Harvard and MIT Professor Calestous Juna, who is Kenyan; soccer star Didier Drogba and Ethiopian Olympian Haile Gebrselassie; Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, the Asantehene of the Kingdom of Ashanti, as well as business leaders from a number of countries: Tony O. Elumelu and Jim Ovia (Nigeria); Tidjane Thiam (Cote d’Ivoire); Cheick Modibo Diarra (Mali) Ashish J. Thakkar (Uganda) and Manilal Premchand Chandaria (Kenya).

Earlier this year, Forbes named Mr. Ba as one of the 10 most powerful men in Africa. He has been included for three years on the New African Magazine list of the 100 most influential Africans and was also listed in the top 500 Africans contributing to the rise of the continent by Africa24 Magazine. In 2012, EXPO 2015 in Italy and Afronline awarded him the African Media Prize acknowledging his “outstanding contribution to African Media and his skills on promoting innovation among African Media”. “His immense contribution to the development of media in Africa has ushered him into prominence and positioned him as an icon of much demand,” the Nigerian-based online magazine Konnect Africa said aprofile of Mr. Ba published in June. The Lifetime Achievement Prize is awarded every two years by the Millennium Excellence Foundation, which is based in Ghana, “to celebrate Africans and non-Africans alike, who have extremely contributed and continue to contribute to the radical advancement of Africa and the African people.” *Allafrica]]>

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Congo's Dr Denis Mukwege Treated 30,000 Victims Of War Rape… He's Still Waiting For A Nobel Prize
October 11, 2014 | 0 Comments
  Dr Denis Mukwege has been tipped for the Nobel Prize five-times-running, but you have probably never heard of the Congolese gynecologist, who has treated more than 30,00 victims of sexual violence in war. [caption id="attachment_12819" align="alignleft" width="570"]Doctor Denis Mukwege, founder of a pioneering rape victims clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo Doctor Denis Mukwege, founder of a pioneering rape victims clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo[/caption] Norwegian lawmaker Bard Soljhell tipped him for the prize this year, calling him “worthy”, and his odds had been further shortened by the agenda-setting summit on sexual violence in conflict hosted by William Hague and Angelina Jolie, throwing the spotlight on the horrors that Mukwege had campaigned on for decades. But this year the prize went two other worthy winners, Pakistani schoolgirl and Taliban target Malala Yousafzai, for her campaign on girls’ education, and Kailash Satyarthi, a noted Indian anti-child labour activist. Mukwage had something in common with both winners. Like Yousafzai, who was perceived as being passed over last year for the prize, which went to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Mukwege has been named as a prizewinner-in-waiting since 2009. And like Satyarthi, he is still relatively unknown, unlike the celebrity nominees on the list like Pope Francis and NSA leaker Edward Snowden. Mukwege’s Panzi Hospital clinic in Bukavu has pioneered a holistic approach to treating traumatised women who have often been the victim of brutal gang rape, during the civil war in the country. He has been known to work 18-hour days, performing up to 10 surgeries every day on women’s shattered internal organs after their ordeals. The DRC was dubbed the “worst place to be a woman” in 2013 by the American Journal of Public Health. Among girls and women aged 15-49, approximately 1,152 raped every day, averaging 48 rapes per hour. Originally training as a gynecologist in France with the aim of helping to improve birth survival rates in his home country, some of his patients were shot dead in their beds by rebels as the violence in DRC worsened. Mukwege had expected to spend his life helping mothers-to-be, but the first patient to turn up at the makeshift hospital in Bukavu was a rape survivor who had her vagina and rectum full of bullets. He was appalled, and the whole direction of his focus changed. panzi
Women and children sit in the Panzi Hospital, run by Mukwege
“I thought that was a barbaric act of war, but the real shock came three months later. Forty-five women came to us with the same story, they were all saying: ‘People came into my village and raped me, tortured me’,” Mukwege told the BBC, describing how he had also treated survivors with chemical burns on their genitals. Now his clinic treats 3,000 women a year, many of them unable to return home to be cared for by families who reject them due to the stigma of gang rape. After surgery, many would have otherwise been forced to live on the streets, but the clinic now provides transitional housing, education, job skills training, small grants and psychological care. Women who have been treated by Mukwege say he has given them some of their life back. “When I was 13 I was kidnapped by rebels on my way to the market,” Mateso, one of Panzi’s patients described. “They kept me for one year, raped me, and made me pregnant. When the baby was born, the soldiers used a knife to deliver it. It was dead. Then they locked me in a room and forced me to drink their urine. There were flies swarming around my injuries. “The soldiers never suspected that I might escape, but I found the strength to flee and managed to walk for three nights, hiding during the day. I have been living at Panzi Hospital since then and have had many surgeries. One day I hope to return to my village.” “The perpetrators of these crimes destroy life at its entry point,” Mukwege has said. “The women can no longer have children. Often they get infected with AIDS and will spread the disease. Their men are humiliated. So the perpetrators destroy the entire social fabric of their enemies, their communities, their future generations, without even killing the woman.” panzi
A pregnant teenage patient at Panzi hospital in Bukavu, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo
A harsh critic of the West’s perceived indifference to the violence in the Congo, Mukwege gave a blistering speech to the United Nations in 2012, saying the international community had stood by for 16 years and done nothing. “I would have liked to say ‘I have the honour of taking part in the international community that you represent here’. But I cannot,” he told the assembly. “How can I say this to you, representing the international community, when the international community has shown its fear and lack of courage during these 16 years in the DRC. I would have liked to say, ‘I have the honour of representing my country’, but I cannot. “In effect, how can one be proud of belonging to a nation without defence, fighting itself, completely pillaged and powerless in the face of 500,000 of its girls raped during 16 years; 6,000,000 of its sons and daughters killed during 16 years without any lasting solution in sight. No, I do not have the honour, nor the privilege to be here today. My heart is heavy.” Mukwege paid a heavy price for his outspokenness. His home was attacked by a gang of men who kept his daughters hostage, and lay in wait for his return. As Mukwege arrived home, his guard was shot dead by the gang, but the bullet missed Mukwege. The assassination attempt forced the doctor to flee the country with his family, seeking asylum in Sweden. But he returned to the DRC within three months, buoyed by the efforts of former patients who worked selling fruit and onions in order to buy him a ticket back to the country. “I was inspired to return by the determination of Congolese women to fight these atrocities,” he told the BBC. “These women have taken the courage to protest about my attack to the authorities. They even grouped together to pay for my ticket home – these are women who do not have anything, they live on less than a dollar a day. After that gesture, I couldn’t really say no.” In less than a decade, the clinic claims to have tripled the number of DRC women accessing supportive housing, job skills training and reintegration services, provided homes for more than 180 women stigmatised and shunned by their rape experience and established the Congo Coffee Project, a Fairtrade coffee business run by survivors. *Source Huffington Post

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Dangote projects Africa’s potentials with Marketplace Africa on CNN
October 6, 2014 | 0 Comments

imagesThe renowned business magazine, The Economist, in one of its editions in 2000, described the African continent as a hopeless continent. In 2011, eleven years after, the same magazine reversed itself. The cover of its December edition of that year features an illustration of a boy flying a rainbow-coloured kite the shape of the continent, with the title, “Africa rising” This sums up just a little of the transformation that is taking place in Africa. The story of Africa as a fast moving continent could only be better told by Africans themselves. With the perception of the West that Africa is a doomed continent, the developments within the content could certainly not be left in the hands of its traducers. This is the main reason the pan-African conglomerate, Dangote Group, steps out to lead in the efforts at projecting the good things happening in Africa through partnership and sponsorship of Market Place Africa on the Cable News Network (CNN). Dangote Industries Limited has taken up the sponsorship of the Facetime segment of the show that offers a unique window into African business. The programme which debuted September 19 will be featuring Dangote advertising campaign showcasing Dangote’s expansion drive across the continent. ‘Facetime’ is a high-profile segment within CNN Marketplace Africa, where each week a major player from the continent’s business community is interviewed. CNN Marketplace Africa is the destination for access to movers and shakers at the forefront of African business. The show goes beyond the numbers to bring viewers the new business solutions and industry trends redefining African business. On-air content is complemented by distinctive online editorial at a CNN Marketplace Africa microsite, where popular and innovative content is shared across a range of social channels. While announcing the deal, Antonio Canto, Vice President, Regional Ad Sales, EMEA, CNN International, said, “We are delighted that Dangote Industries Limited is working with CNN to promote its brand internationally in a TV sponsorship across all CNN International global feeds. The ‘Facetime’ segment in CNN Marketplace Africa is an important programming strand to be associated with because the content reflects the dynamic nature of African business. Dangote’s expansion, underpinned by this bespoke advertising campaign with CNN, is a brand-builder for African business as a whole.” Explaining the motivating factor behind his group’s decision to sponsor the programme, President and Chief Executive of Dangote Industries Limited (DIL), Aliko Dangote, said his company was moved into undertaking to support the programme because there exists a lot of misconception about Africa. Besides, the lack of information on Africa is holding back foreign investment. Said he: “Africa also offers one of the highest rates of return on investment in the world, a fact that discerning foreign investors have since acknowledged. Indeed, Africa has turned the corner and is now catching up with the rest of the world in the race for development. Dangote Industries Limited is delighted to sponsor the ‘Facetime’ segment in CNN’s Marketplace Africa because it tells compelling success stories about Africa. Such content can ultimately position Africa as an attractive investment destination and foster development that lift communities and nations into prosperity. This is Africa’s time.” According to him, some investors still have stereotypical images of Africa etched on their minds. A new Africa is emerging from the ashes of her dark past, and is fast rising and is gaining accelerated speed, in all indices of human development. Many appear to have taken little notice of this silent revolution that is sweeping across Africa like a tornado. There is growing optimism everywhere about Africa, on a scale never before imagined. “For instance, Rwanda, which was only two decades ago, devastated by war, is one of the success stories of this African renaissance. Rwanda is fast becoming Africa’s investors’ delight, and currently ranks 45th in the World Bank’s ease of doing business. Similarly, the economy of Ethiopia, once a global metaphor for famine, has been growing at a double-digit for the past five years. This growth has attracted Ethiopians abroad, who are coming home with expertise and capital to develop their country currently ranked the 10th largest livestock producer in the world”. Dangote said there is noticeable growth in the middle class, with increased purchasing power, across Africa. This has provided an incentive for fast moving consumer goods (FMCGs) companies, which are scrambling to invest in Africa. The increase in population growth of Africa (currently estimated at 1billion), abundance of natural resources, and clement weather, also make Africa a viable proposition for investors. “The Chinese, who have been smart to move in early enough, are reaping the fruits, especially in the construction industry, in which they possess considerable expertise. They are building factories, roads and railway lines across Africa. In the last eight years alone, foreign direct investment (FDI) has helped create 1.6 million new jobs in Africa. Capital investments are projected to reach $150billion in 2015,” he added. Determined not to be outdone by the Chinese, Western companies are now taking more interest in Africa. General Electric (GE), the world’s largest infrastructure company, recently declared its intention to invest in Africa. African companies are not sitting back idly as they are behind a growing percentage of FDI, which has been going to sectors such as manufacturing and services, in recent years. South African big retail shops like Shoprite, Massmart and Spar, and telecommunication company, MTN Group; Etisalat of the Middle East; and Airtel of India, have all gained a foothold in Nigeria, which has witnessed an unprecedented growth in number of subscriber base from 500,000 fixed lines in 2001 to 98.4 million as at October 2011. “This growth is the fastest anywhere in the world! African markets must re-position themselves to key into this economic revolution,” Dangote said. In 2010, the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) of the United States named 40 African Companies that have the potential to rival Fortune 500 Companies based on their size, geographical spread and turnover. Dangote Group is one of them. Dangote Cement Plc is also the only Nigerian Company on Forbes Global 2000 Companies. In the last few years, we have invested close to $4 billion in various projects across Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). We are setting up new cement plants in eight African countries namely: Senegal, Zambia, Tanzania, South Africa, Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Cameroon, and Benin Republic. We are also developing import terminals in the following African countries: Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, Benin Republic, Togo and Guinea (Conakry). “All these projects, which are largely driven by huge deficit in local supply of cement in the countries listed, are at different stages of progress, and will be completed between 2012 and 2014. Our ultimate goal is to rank amongst the top eight cement producers in the world by 2014. Our aspiration to be the leading cement producer in Africa is a logical step after we have achieved domestic dominance and have become self-sufficient in cement production as a nation. In Nigeria, Dangote cement accounts for more than 60 percent of market share. We will start exporting cement to neighbouring countries such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and Cote D Ívoire, as from this year,” Dangote pointed out. “The key to doing business successfully in Africa lies in understanding the environment. There are peculiar challenges associated with doing business in Africa. Some of these challenges may include multiple taxations, low level of infrastructural development, and security issues. They are part of our reality. Western firms continue to invest in the oil and gas industry in crisis-prone countries of the world because they understand how to do business in such volatile environments. “Corporate governance is increasingly receiving greater attention in Africa with initiatives such as the Ibrahim Index of African Governance, designed to curb corruption, and to promote accountability among African leaders. A new crop of African entrepreneurs have emerged and are changing the stereotypes about Africa and Africans. Some of them are on the prestigious Forbes list of global billionaires.” The Dangote Group CEO maintained that the partnership with the CNN on marketplace Africa would go a long way into changing the perception about the economic status of Africa. “This is part of our own contribution to the rising Africa continent,” he explain. *Source vanguardngr]]>

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Obasanjo: Back To School For Higher Degree
September 30, 2014 | 0 Comments

Obasanjo Obasanjo[/caption] According to Premium Times, the former country leader is set to enroll as a graduate student at the headquarters of the National Open University of Nigeria, Lagos, on September 30. Obasanjo, who obtained a Post Graduate Diploma in 2009, confirmed the information that he would be back to school for a doctorate degree, starting with a Master’s degree. Explaining why it was important for him, Obasanjo told the correspondent: “I’m going back to school because I have to have something to aspire to in every endeavour of life. I always aspire to something new in my farm. I do that in my international activities. I do it in my writing. I do it in the improvement of my academic work which helps to sharpen my brain and strengthen my faith.” Due to the flexibility of the Open University Nigeria’s former president would be able to continue his tight international engagements. He recalled that he had managed to succeed in the course of the previous studies and would do the same now. “Fortunately, the Open University is flexible enough and I will definitely be able to cope. I was able to cope when I did the Post Graduate. I was also busy during the period.”   Obasanjo, who enrolled into the National Open University in 2006 months before the end of his 8-year tenure, was in 2009 described at the graduation ceremony as a hardworking student by University Vice Chancellor Prof. Olagbemiro Jegede. Praising his academic achievements and attitude towards studies, Jegede said: “As a student, Obasanjo vigorously pursued his studies on full time basis… He is a shinning example of how seriously a student should take his learning. Like everybody, he sat for all the examinations using anonymous matriculation numbers, and by our internal quality control and security-proof control measures, his papers were marked by different tutors located in some of our study centres including Damaturu, Minna and Yenagoa.”  

It would be recalled that the family of the former president has been recently hit by a tragedy, as Obasanjo’s son Lt. Col. Adeboye Obasanjo was shot in the battle against Boko Haram insurgents. Luckily, the injury was not lethal and the recovering patient said on September 8 he was eager to return to his duty as soon as possible. *Source]]>

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From refugee to entrepreneur
September 22, 2014 | 0 Comments

Hashi Kaar . . . ‘I think everyone can be successful, no matter where you are, if you have the right resources. In a country like Australia, opportunities are endless.’  Photo: Wayne Taylor Hashi Kaar . . . ‘I think everyone can be successful, no matter where you are, if you have the right resources. In a country like Australia, opportunities are endless.’  Photo: Wayne Taylor[/caption] Hashi Kaar’s story is both uplifting and sad. A refugee from war-torn Somalia, he arrived in Australia as a 17-year-old boy without English, much schooling or an understanding of what the internet was. Just five years later, he was in his third year of university and employed as a junior application developer at pharmaceutical valuation company Medici Capital. Now, 13 years since he arrived in ­Melbourne with his five siblings and mother as part of the family reunion program, he is the founder of three tech companies and employs 15 people. This is the miracle of opportunity. When people are given a chance to make something of themselves, they can overcome immense disadvantages. But Kaar’s success is also a depressing reminder of what the 10 million people in Somalia could be achieving if only they had some of Australia’s blessings. “Things we take for granted here, they don’t have there,” he says. “I never went to high school or any formal school in my life.” Once in Australia, after 10 years living as a refugee in Kenya, Kaar was able to take advantage of a number of government ­programs to learn English and study at TAFE and Swinburne University of Tech­nology. These gave him the skills he needed to get started in a career that earned him a six-figure salary before he left to become an entrepreneur. Help from strangers But it was an act of kindness that may have made the greatest impact. On only his second day in Australia, a librarian took the time to help the young Kaar get started on the library’s computer. “A lady asked me if I wanted to use the internet and send emails,” he recalls. “I was very ­confused because I didn’t know what ­the internet was, or email, or how you use it. I thought it was something you buy from the shop. “It became a fascination and, within a week, I was googling African music and things like that.” Kaar needed to set up a Hotmail account but he didn’t know anyone to send emails to except the librarian, who worked at a Noble Park centre to help migrants. “She was very nice. I’ve been trying to find her, any way I could, just to say thank you very much.” Nine months after his arrival, he got a job, bought a computer and connected it to the internet. “From there, it was lift-off,” he says. He spent his days stacking shelves at work, studying, playing soccer and writing computer programs. “Even though I didn’t go to school, later I realised I was actually a quick learner.” Building something new Kaar spent almost six years at Medici ­Capital, which employed him first as an intern, then part-time through his ­university study, and later full-time. He then moved to a job as an analyst at consultancy KDIS, where he was able to spend a year observing ­entrepreneurs. “I got a chance to see tech start-ups and how they work,” he says. He was the software engineer for three Melbourne-based start-ups and relished the excitement of building something new. “I was always the guy on call . . . I liked the whole fast pace and things happening very quickly.” Kaar started the software development company ­Plycode last year with former colleagues Ahmed Yusuf and software engineer Tim Forrest. The start-up cost of $50,000 was covered by the partners. The company, with 12 employees, has earned $150,000 in revenue since last March and has a target of $650,000 by June next year. In turn, Plycode has created two ­separate employment platforms, Kazileo and Employfy. Kazileo (due to launch next month) specialises in ICT recruitment in Australia, using skills tests and video ­interviewing. It has a staff of three and a start-up cost of $120,000. Online mentoring Employfy has just been launched in Kenya as the only online mentoring service for Africa (linking mentors globally with mentees on the continent). It is an online recruitment platform with interviewing technologies. The start-up costs were low ($10,000), as the technology used is reliant on that of Kazileo. Employfy is offered as a free service and will eventually adopt a freemium model. “I always have a dream to make a ­difference to where I come from,” Kaar says. In Africa, each job vacancy might attract 10,000 applicants. “The ratio between job-seekers and jobs is quite bad. We want to help the companies and put in some sort of structure and help job-seekers find jobs easily.” Kaar says he has high hopes for his ­companies. There are plans for a bigger office in Richmond next year and to recruit more people. He is very appreciative of the opportunities that have come his way. “I think everyone can be successful, no matter where you are, if you have the right resources. In a country like Australia,­­­ ­opportunities are endless. “You don’t have to run a tech company and you don’t have to kickstart your own company. Even when I was [an employee], I was offered equity in a company that I was working in . . . so I could stay longer. “It all comes down to believing that this is a great country and there are so many ­opportunities out there. For me, Melbourne is like my home town.” Kaar says he didn’t experience much hardship once he came to Australia because things happened very quickly for him. “If I look back just 15 months ago, I had a full-time job and I was enjoying what I was doing. Now I am running a team of 15 people on two continents. I think things happen in a very quick way.” Kaar’s recipe for success Get help: Government-funded programs got Kaar’s family to the country and helped them with housing, and gave him access to courses that, with no formal education, led him to university and a bachelor of computer science. Make friends: Kaar got his first hand up from a friendly librarian who helped him get started on the internet. He joined a local soccer team, which allowed him to practise his English and understand more about his new country. Build ties with colleagues: He remained close to former workmates, who later joined him in his start-ups. “Often new migrants think they are not going to make it but, if you try hard and you surround yourself with the right people, you are always bound to get something out of it.” Be dedicated: “I am always the first one in and the last one out,” Kaar says. Employ people who need a start: Kaar’s start-up partner Ahmed Yusuf often gives talks to migrant job clubs, which can be a good place to find new employees. “We often come across a young talented migrant. If there is a fit in our company, we say ‘come and join us’.” Lend a hand: Kaar is using his expertise to help others back in Africa, first with an education project and now with his business (Employfy), which will help match people with jobs. *Source hiiraan]]>

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Kenya's beauty queen: Building a business empire
September 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Michael Kaloki*

“When we were starting out, if you were a woman and you went to the bank for a loan, they wanted to know who you were married to and whether you had permission to be in business,” says Terry Mungai.

[caption id="attachment_11892" align="alignleft" width="300"]Terry says she wants to help other women become entrepreneurs and create jobs Terry says she wants to help other women become entrepreneurs and create jobs[/caption] Terry, the founder and chief executive of Ashleys Kenya, a beauty company with more than 240 employees, adds: “But now all that has changed. You are considered an entrepreneur.” Twenty years ago when her then-employer, Diners International, quit Nairobi she did what she had always wanted to do, and opened a hair salon. Today, walking around one of her 12 hair salons in the upmarket Lavington area of Nairobi, she greets her clients with a broad smile as she moves along the row of hairdryers. Towards one corner of the room, three hairdressers hover over a customer as they twist and turn her hair braids. In a partially enclosed area, another woman enjoys a manicure and pedicure while sipping orange juice. The pampering is part of the company’s mission statement – to be the most professionally run chain of salons in Kenya. And it is not just the customers who are getting a makeover – so are Terry’s recruits. Training the future As her business grew she realised there was a need for a larger skilled workforce. “We realised that we could not sustain the business without training,” she explains. Terry now runs three training centres under the Ashleys brand that offer her students internationally respected beauty qualifications. The training centres also offer services to members of the public as a way of providing real-life experience to the students. There is a hushed tone in one classroom as students undertake a mock examination in hairdressing, a teacher is watching keenly as the students work. [caption id="attachment_11893" align="alignright" width="300"]Terry realised if she wanted to grow her business she needed more staff and has set up her own training academies Terry realised if she wanted to grow her business she needed more staff and has set up her own training academies[/caption] Within two weeks the students in this class will undertake their final examinations before graduating. Some of the students who graduate from the training centres are taken on by Terry while others are hired by other companies. Beauty queen Ashleys is also the current holder of the local franchise of the Miss World beauty pageant – known as Miss World Kenya.

“We were sponsors for two years and when they were ready to change the franchise holder, they approached me, and asked whether we would be interested,” says Terry.

Auditions for Miss World Kenya are usually carried out in different parts of the country before a final elimination round is held and the overall winner announced. “I have a bias in trying to bring up young women to have confidence in themselves and create employment. I want women to celebrate their beauty,” she says. But it hasn’t all been easy. [caption id="attachment_11894" align="alignleft" width="300"]Terry Mungai's ambition is to run the leading chain of salons in Kenya Terry Mungai’s ambition is to run the leading chain of salons in Kenya[/caption] After the terrorist attack at Nairobi’s Westgate shopping centre in September 2013, in which more than 65 people were killed, the company was forced to shut down one of its branches, which was located in the complex. Terry has since opened a new branch in a different mall and the staff have been relocated. Retail opening Not content with 12 salons, three training schools and running the national beauty pageant, she is also heading into retail. The first Ashleys cosmetic shop has already opened in Nairobi. “It makes it easier for clients and other outsiders to come and get premium products from us,” she says. “Now that we have ventured into cosmetics, I would not rule out Ashleys starting our own line in the future.” *Source BBC]]>

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Africa’s economy set for dramatic changes
September 9, 2014 | 0 Comments
[caption id="attachment_11870" align="alignleft" width="400"]Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Photo: Africa Section / Bo Li Carlos Lopes, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa. Photo: Africa Section / Bo Li[/caption] Following the launch of the 2014 Economic Report on Africa in Abuja, Nigeria, Carlos Lopes, the executive secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, attended the New York launch of the same report. The report addresses two essential questions: what are the right policies for industrialization and what role can the private and public sectors play? In an exclusive interview with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor, Mr. Lopes explored these issues. These are excerpts from the interview.
Africa Renewal: Give us a snapshot of the current state of the African economy Carlos Lopes: The current status of the African economy is good but it’s volatile particularly in the oil and gas sector, which as you know accounts for a lot of Africa’s combined gross domestic product. We predict a 6% growth this year. We should not bank too much on the stability in the energy export front because the shale gas revolution in the US is going to change the rules of the game on energy, particularly oil and gas. The US is not going to need to import energy in the near future. Which means oil and gas producing countries should be worried? Yes, worried about the US market continuing to be one of their destinations. How exactly will the US energy market be a game changer?  In about five years they will not import oil and gas. The US is poised to become a net exporter of energy. In five years, either you have an alternative market or you may be marginalized in terms of US demand. What about increasing consumption in Africa? A rising middle class should lead to more demand for energy. That’s my entire point, that Africa’s industrialization centres around three big characteristics and one of them is internal markets. The second is the fact that we have renewable energy potentials. Also, our leapfrogging capabilities, technologically speaking, make the case for a green, clean industrialization. The third is that Africa’s entry tickets are its commodities. This year’s Economic Report on Africa emphasizes “pockets of efficiency.” What does that mean? These are segments of the global value chain created because they have the best contextual environment to thrive, for instance, textiles in Ethiopia and ICT [information and communications technology] in Kenya. I will give you the example of Morocco, which identified the aeronautic industry as a segment they could enter. They needed to adjust the school curriculum to respond to it; they needed to make sure that the right conditions—from taxation, investment incentives, to regulatory frameworks—were all lined up. Now they have 5,000 jobs in that sector.

The problem is that we are doing poverty reduction. We are not doing economic activity.

A World Bank report last year forecast that Africa’s agribusiness could be worth $1 trillion by 2030. How do you respond to those who say that this sector doesn’t attract huge investments? The first thing I would like to say about agriculture is that we have done a very poor job until now. There is a disincentive policy that is an impediment to higher productivity in agriculture. This is particularly true if we continue to practise, from the development aid perspective, food security and poverty reduction policies as the only entry points to dealing with agriculture. Of course, I am for food security. But I do have difficulties understanding how we can pour about $1 billion into agriculture every year from development aid alone without any results. Because we still have the same yield per hectare today that we had 20 years ago. What’s the problem? The problem is that we are doing poverty reduction. We are not doing economic activity. How do we reverse that? The most important thing is to make the case for agribusiness. That’s where we are going to create modern jobs. The young people don’t want to be farmers anymore but they will be interested in modern jobs related to agriculture.  It’s appalling that in Côte d’Ivoire, only 15% of consumed yoghurt is produced locally! Isn’t it a problem that the prices for some of Africa’s commodities are determined from abroad? What I am talking about here is slightly different, namely agro-business opportunities for African markets. Yes, agricultural subsidies in the West affect our soft commodities’ trade. But we still have the opportunities to do very well in agriculture with production that is oriented towards African markets, not for export. Is there enough demand internally to attract farmers and investors to agribusiness? A study done in Nigeria recently by Aliko Dangote [Nigerian billionaire businessman] found that about 80% of tomato paste was being imported from abroad. We are importing tomato paste from as far away as China! This doesn’t make any sense. There’s demand that already exists and it’s going to grow. There is a good case: one of South Africa’s largest supermarket chains, Shoprite, is expanding very aggressively in the rest of the continent. And when they went to Zambia, in their first year of operation, about 80% of their supermarket products were imported from South Africa. Five years later, they had worked deals with [Zambian] small-scale entrepreneurs to produce locally at certain standards. Between 1970 and 2008, about $800 billion vanished from Africa due to illicit financial flows. Mo Ibrahim [Sudanese philanthropist] said last year that Africa could be losing up to $40 billion annually due to tax evasion. Isn’t there a credibility problem with Africa’s private sector?  Studies reveal that our private sector is extremely lazy in moving into manufacturing and industrial sectors. It correlates with the laziness of the banks to lend to this sector. Normally, they do business in the service area where they respond to internal demand; you can evade taxes and be informal more easily than if you had a factory because everybody can see the factory. So we don’t have to be distracted by the preferences of the private sector because they are responding to incentives. We should rather create the policy and regulatory incentives that will move them into industrialization. The World Bank has criticized Nigeria for banning the importation of certain goods. What’s your take on that? The World Bank is within its mandate to promote liberalization on all fronts. But all countries that have industrialized started with degrees of protectionism. We cannot practice crude protectionism anymore; we are engaged in the global debate including trade negotiations. But if we have to make the rules work for Africa, that basically means smart protectionism. Is there not an argument that without liberalization, there will be no competition and prices of products will shoot up? There are subsidies and protection rules that are counterproductive. In the case of Nigeria, fuel subsidies are hurting the poor and protecting a chain of corruption that has not been favourable to productivity and to economic activity. On the other hand, if we were talking about Nigeria with 16 refineries and producing the full gamut of oil-related products – from fertilizers to plastics – and then put in place legislation to protect that nascent industry so it can consolidate its position in the market, subsidies would have been a good thing. The Nigerian government hasn’t been able to calibrate the economic implications of a fuel subsidy with the political consequences of its removal because the subsidy is popular with the people. If people don’t trust you to remove the subsidy so that they get better education, hospitals, roads, airports and so on, it is normal that they are not convinced. The government  must build trust and sometimes it has to do  so in a way that is not abrupt. The Kenyan economy has slowed down lately. It grew at 4.5% in 2010 and 3.3% in 2011. What can Kenya do to shore up its economy? I am very hopeful for Kenya. There is a certain quality of urban, innovative youth interaction that you see in Nairobi. That is why their ICT industry is surprising us all the time with new products. As much as we are all very excited about the experiences of Ethiopia and Rwanda because of the consistency of state engagement in policy, I think in the long run Kenya has a better combination of factors even with some lack of coordination now. I think Kenya is going through a low phase that is very temporary. How temporary? I think a number of factors are going to propel Kenya. The first is when they fix their energy problem, and that is on the way. The second, there are logistical investments taking place that will make Kenya the hub for East Africa—airports, seaports, roads, rails. I would say in about three to four years’ time, Kenya will have a strong comeback. The third element is that this is a very fresh new government that came into power on the heels of a number of challenges internationally, including the Somalia insurgency and the ICC [International Criminal Court]. Mauritius is now a middle income country and Rwanda has one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Where else in Africa could we expect good news in the coming years? Angola is a very good example of tremendous transformation. I have no doubt that Angola is going to be a strong economy in the future. Algeria has all the elements to have a complete revolution in terms of its economic prospects. Right now in microeconomic terms, Algeria is probably the best performer on the continent because they have an incredible amount of reserves. The problem is that it has not yet managed the mix of policies that will create jobs and entrepreneurial activities. It’s too much of a state-centred economy. How would you assess the level of commitment of African leaders to industrialization? Last year we attracted about 600 people and a number of ministers to discuss industrialization. This year we attracted 1,800 participants and about 60 ministers of finance and governors of central banks, and a plethora of African leaders. I would say that the discussion is on track. There is momentum. Discussion, but what about implementation? This was not a conference that makes implementation. You are asking about commitment. So I divide commitment in phases. First you have to have a good discussion. Which means it’s now going to translate into action at the national levels. That’s your hope? It’s already happening. We have 10 countries that have requested the ECA to assist in industrial policy strategies. Ten out of 54 countries is small but it’s a very good beginning. I am sure that soon it will be 20. Some are not asking because they can do it by themselves, like South Africa, Nigeria, and Morocco. *Source Africa Renewal

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Ngugi wa Thiong'o tipped for 2014 Nobel prize in literature
September 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

Odds on Kenyan author shorten from 33/1 to 10/1 led by bellwether Swedish money, according to Ladbrokes * Ngugi wa Thiong'oA run of bets originating in Sweden has seen the odds plummet on Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the distinguished Kenyan author, winning the Nobel prize for literature next month. The chances of the recently-retired Philip Roth taking the Nobel have also fallen dramatically, according to betting firm Ladbrokes. Ladbrokes said that odds on Ngugi being named winner of the world’s most prestigious literary award, given out every October in Stockholm, had shortened from 33/1 to 10/1. “It’s always worth following the Swedish money and at this stage the one they like is Ngugi wa Thiong’o,” said spokesman for the betting firm Alex Donohue. Ngugi’s books include Caitani Mutharabaini (Devil on the Cross), a novel written on toilet paper while he was imprisoned following the performance of his play, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want), which was critical of the inequalities of Kenyan society. He had been a favourite to take the Nobel in 2010, but that year the prize went to Mario Vargas Llosa. Tomas Tranströmer, 2010’s fourth favourite to win, went on to take the Nobel in 2011.   Favourite this year, according to Ladbrokes’ odds, is Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami at 5/1,with Ngugi in joint second place with Algerian novelist Assia Djebar. Roth, who recently announced his happy retirement from the world of novel writing, comes in at 16/1, as do the feted Czech writer Milan Kundera, and the Syrian poet, Adonis. “Philip Roth appears to be this year’s ‘stalking horse’ so far as odds have fallen from 50/1 to 16/1 and at present he is the worst result in the book for us,” said Donohue. “Plenty of the bets for him have been placed in betting shops in the UK as opposed to on our website or via our mobile app which is usually where most literary betting business is done.” Roth published his final novel, Nemesis, in 2010. “I did what I did and it’s done,” he has said. “There’s more to life than writing and publishingfiction. There is another way entirely, amazed as I am to discover it at this late date.” Some fans continue to think Bob Dylan has a chance at winning the Nobel, which goes to “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction”, and which is decided by the members of the Swedish Academy. “As ever, there are people who think it could be Bob Dylan’s year, but we’ll never know if they are simply hopeful fans. There are two bets for Bob, both at 50/1 from Swedish customers,” said Donohue. Ladbrokes opened its book on the 2014 Nobel prize for literature minutes after Alice Munro was announced as last year’s winner, cited by judges as the “master of the contemporary short story”. “We’ve been taking bets for this year from the day of the announcement last year,” said Donohue. The date of the prize’s announcement has not yet been revealed, but it isusually in early to mid-October. *Source theguardian]]>

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A Nigerian king and his many wives dazzle London
September 9, 2014 | 2 Comments

Chiagozie Nwonwu*

One of the trending pieces of news in Nigeria this past weekend was the United Kingdom trip of one of the more prominent Nigerian kings, the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi, and his four wives

  [caption id="attachment_11846" align="alignleft" width="760"]The Alaafin and his Oloris shopping in London. Photo: The Alaafin and his Oloris shopping in London. Photo:[/caption]

The Nigerian king and his wives (all dressed in matching outfits) were the objects of attention as soon as they stepped into the departure hall of the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Lagos and that opened the floodgates to comments from Nigeria’s active social media.

While many people concentrated on the negative aspects of the polygamous marriage that was on display, some others celebrated a king and queens in tune with their culture, and yet some others focused on the complexion and age of the oloris (queens): did they bleach their skins? How come they are so young? Isn’t the youngest olori too young to be married to an old man, even though he is a king?

[caption id="attachment_11849" align="alignleft" width="760"]The king and his queens visit Buckingham. Photo: The king and his queens visit Buckingham. Photo:[/caption]

The criticism did come pouring in, but so did the praises.

In this age of everything Western and modern, it is expected that people will call a polygamous king medieval. Still, the same people will celebrate a rapper with several baby mamas for being ‘modern’. But truth be told, medieval or not, the king is living the fantasy of most hot-blooded men.

[caption id="attachment_11851" align="alignleft" width="760"]Subjects pay homage to the king. To the far left is Nigerian musician Alariwo. Photo: Subjects pay homage to the king. To the far left is Nigerian musician Alariwo. Photo:[/caption]

Yep, and the king and his wives wrapped London in Aso Ebi.

*Source thisisafrica


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Omotola Speaks About Her Life And Character
September 8, 2014 | 0 Comments

Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde[/caption] One of the most successful and recognized by critics Nigerian actresses Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde in a recent interview spoke about her career, marriage and many other spicy details of her life.

The 36-year-old start has been recently confirmed Nigeria’s most popular female entertainer on the internet, with the highest number of social media followers on Twitter and Facebook, Nigeriafilms recalls. Omosexy, as she is gently referred to by her fans, has achieved a lot not only in her professional, but also in private life. The happy wife has managed to keep the wonderful shape despite having delivered 4 (!) children.

When asked about how she had been able to keep fit, the actress said: “First and foremost, I use the power of the tongue. I look at the mirror and say to myself ‘You are slim; you are losing weight in all the right places.’ It’s funny, right? But then, also, I try to eat healthy, and I’m very active. I have just started working out with a trainer, but prior to that I just stay active.”

Omotola got married in 1996 but has never become the casual-clothes woman. She keeps wearing tight and elegant dresses proving over and over again that she is not just Omo, but OmoSEXY. When asked about her style of clothing, whether her husband is satisfied with it, she said:

“My husband is extremely in support. I can’t even wear some clothes my husband approves of. People would think I’m crazy, they would read meaning into our relationship. He is a very enlightened person and someone who believes in his heart. Even with our kids, he trusts them so much.”
And the actress eagerly continued with praising her second half for being a gentle, supportive and understanding man:

And the actress eagerly continued with praising her second half for being a gentle, supportive and understanding man:

“I bless God, it’s been wonderful. God has been very good and I give the glory to Him. And secondly, I’d give credit to my husband. Because, I think I’m the difficult one, because of the demands of my career and because I’m the woman. But he’s been extremely supportive.”

Although Omotola’s working schedule is even tighter that her dresses, she still dedicates every free minute of her life to the family and to the upbringing of her children. The actress however confesses she is a strict kind of parent.

“I am a very hands-on Mum. My kids would tell you I’m extremely strict also, because I was trained by a very strict Mum. My Mum was an Egba woman; she used to sit on me. When they say I’m very strict, I say ‘You’re lucky I don’t sit on you.’ I use most of the doctrines in the Bible; I’m always in their business.”

This statement can be proved by the incident which happened this year, when the photos of Omotola’s daughter went viral. The actress attacked media over describing her 14-year-old daughter’s as “hot” and “sexy”.

Speaking about her children, Omotola recalled the times when she was still a child narrated how the loss of father at the age of 12 affected her life:

“I was extremely close to him and it really affected me because, for a long time I was thinking I would die, too. I felt so much grief and it was a lot of strain on my mother because she had three kids to cater for and didn’t want our standard of living to drop. I wanted to help her, so after I left secondary school I started modelling.”

The actress also revealed the peculiarities of her character and explained why some people might allege she is snobbish:

“I guess I have this demeanour that makes me look like I’m in my own zone. People just assume that I’m a snob. Sometimes I really could enter into my own zone, and it depends on where I am. If I’m in a place where the air is too stiff for me, I just become very quiet. But if I get to a place and feel the vibe and it’s free and fun, you are virtually going to beg me to sit in one place. I’m too extreme; I can be overly bubbly and overly quiet. I’m never really in the middle and I can’t pretend.”

The interview concluded with the correspondent asking whether Omo feels threatened by the upcoming beautiful and talented actresses, to which she responded:

“I’m not the most intelligent, I’m not the best actress either, and I don’t think I have the best attitude, but I always ask God for His grace. There are new challenges everyday and I ask God to teach me. You have to always remember there is nothing special about you, it’s just His grace. What you think you have somebody else probably even have double. There are younger, new, hotter, more aggressive people around now. I just try to be myself, work hard, and rely on what can take me far.”

*Source ghanavibes]]>

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First Lady Djènè Condé Beams Spotlight on Social Issues In Guinea
August 9, 2014 | 0 Comments

solo-premiere (2)Guinea first Lady Djènè Kaba Condé has described her participation at the USA-Africa Leaders’ Summit as a success as it offered her a platform to beam the spotlight on social issues in her country. While President Conde and other members of the delegation were busy on the economic front presenting Guinea to investors, the First Lady was very active in articulating social issues, notably at the  forum animated by American First Lady Michelle Obama and former First Lady Laura Bush. The forum with other first Ladies offered her the opportunity to build networks that will facilitate future contacts needed to resolve some of the challenges faced by women in her country. In an interview with Pan African Visions, the First Lady said, she used her presence at the summit to talk about infant mortality, maternal health, female genital mutilation, hygiene and sanitation and efforts to improve educational needs of  young girls . With the Ebola virus dominating news from Guinea, the First Lady said the government reacted swiftly with measures to mitigate its spread to unaffected areas.She lauded the efforts of Guinean Doctors and medical personnel who were working round the clock and indicated that her Foundation was also very active on the sanitary aspects that could help keep the virus in check . The resurgence of the virus was unfortunate, but  Djènè  Conde expressed confidence that, efforts to contain its spread will pay off. With Guinea out of international isolation, many changes are taking place in the country with women taking the lead in the civil society and business sectors, she said. With about six female Ministers appointed to  the government by President Conde, , the First Lady saw in this  a recognition of the role that women have to play in the emerging Guinea .Using  the Conde Djènè Kaba Foundation for the promotion of infant and maternal health, the first Lady  has been at the  fore front of the fight against social stigmas like early marriages, female genital mutilation, and others which  have kept women in Guinea from living up to their potential.   With a Master’s Degree in Communication, Djènè Condé understands the importance of education and has used her Foundation to facilitate the integration of women and the disfavored in the community. In contribution to efforts to keep the capital city Conakry clean, Kaba Condé talked of the contest for the cleanest schools and educating young people on basic sanitation. In response to a question on what the diaspora, which turned out en masse to welcome her could contribute towards her social work and development in Guinea, Djènè Conde tasked them with continued patriotism .Guinea needs their expertise and contribution towards  socio-economic development,   the first lady said. Acknowledging that the salary gap remains an issue, Djènè Conde said patriotism should keep Guineans connected to their roots and join hands in moving the country forward. On the cultural differences, the first Lady said there were facets of American life that could be beneficial to her people and she was not personally opposed to any thing that could add value and help to move Guinea forward. The First Lady and President of Conde were in Washington at the invitation of President Obama for the USA –Africa Leaders’ Summit. The Condes were part of the state dinner offered by the Obamas at the White House. introWith the Conde Djènè Kaba Foundation for the promotion of infant and maternal health, the first Lady has been very active on issues of health, peace, education and the environment. Significant achievement have been made by the Foundation despite its limited resources. Several hygiene and Sanitation campaigns have taken place in Conakry and other big cities. Medication and material have been donated to be many hospitals, didactic material shared to schools, wheel chairs donated to handicapped children, and an ambulance put at the service of pregnant women at the hospital in Kankan. To more about the Conde Djènè Kaba Foundation for the promotion of infant and maternal health click here    ]]>

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