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Children Are Targeted in Anglophone Cameroon Violence.
July 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Rebecca Tinsley*

Dormitories of PSS Mankon in the North West Region went up in flames last January.Photo courtesy

A new report describes how schools are being targeted in arson attacks across Cameroon’s English-speaking regions in the country’s increasingly violent Anglophone Crisis. Children are deliberately mutilated, abducted and killed as armed separatist groups and government soldiers terrorise civilians.

The independent investigation by Bellingcat verified 13 recent attacks using satellite images. It is thought that two hundred schools have been attacked or set on fire since 2018. Armed separatist groups use violence to enforce a ‘school boycott,’ while government security forces punish those keeping children from school, trying to convince the international community that normalcy has returned.

The investigation draws on initial research by the Cameroon Anglophone Crisis Database of Atrocities, working with the Berkeley Human Rights Center in one case. Bellingcat is an independent international collective of researchers, investigators and citizen journalists. Its report, “How Schoolchildren Became Pawns in Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis,” is based on videos posted on social media by civilians, soldiers and armed groups, and open-source material and satellite imagery.

Among the incidents catalogued in the report are two attacks in 2018 on a Presbyterian school near Bamenda during which almost 100 teachers and children were abducted, interrogated and held for ransom. They were eventually released unharmed.  

In October 2020, men on motorcycles armed with machetes and guns killed seven children and wounded a dozen at Mother Francisca International Bilingual Academy in Kumba. In November 2020, students and teachers at Kulu Memorial College in Limbe were forced to strip and then run away before the building was burned. More recently, in February 2021, the wing of a Catholic school in Nkambe was burned.

The school boycott originated as a temporary protest measure. In 2016, lawyers and then teachers peacefully protested against the Francophone-dominated central government’s placement of French-speaking judges and teachers in English-speaking courts and schools, including a systematic erosion of Anglophone Common Law procedures. “This…prompted the shutting down of almost all schools across the region in order to raise awareness of the damage such a move would bring to our education system” .

The Biya government responded to the 2016 protests with what human rights groups described as disproportionate force, arresting peaceful protest leaders and shutting down the internet for three months. In October 2017, some Anglophones unilaterally declared the regions to be an independent country called ‘Ambazonia,’ prompting more crackdowns. As the violence intensified, armed pro-Ambazonia groups emerged, enforcing “ghost towns” that shuttered the economy, and maintaining the school boycott.

Four years later, most schools have not reopened. A warning from the “Ambazonia Defence Forces” appeared on Facebook in August 2019, telling parents to continue the boycott and not send their children to school, saying, “You will have only yourselves to blame.” Although the Biya government has signed the Safe Schools Declaration, it has not kept schools safe. Government officials have urged a return to school, but parents lack confidence because there are insufficient security measures.

UNICEF estimates that more than one million youngsters (out of a total Anglophone population of six million adults and children) have been out of school for almost four years. The Cameroon Ministries of Basic and Secondary Education recently announced that 70,000 children have now returned and 400 schools have reopened. However, it is understood that those schools are in towns and cities, whereas institutions in more remote areas are reluctant to reopen for fear of attack. Cho Ayaba of the “Ambazonia Governing Council” claims that children could attend school, but only in areas controlled by his armed group, and only learning from an Ambazonian curriculum.

The Bellingcat report quotes teachers who “walk a thin line” between the armed separatists enforcing the boycott and the government security services trying to end the ban. In addition, teachers say they are harassed by not only the warring parties but also by criminal gangs extorting money. Voices in civil society express concern that the school boycott is self-defeating, producing a generation of illiterate youth and deterring any international allies from supporting legitimate Anglophone grievances.

Before he died earlier this year, Cardinal Christian Tumi warned that violently enforcing the school boycott was turning the Anglophone population against the separatists. He mentioned a girl whose hand was amputated by separatists as she went to sit her exams. Cardinal Tumi was kidnapped and interrogated by an armed Anglophone group in November 2020. He was later released unharmed but died in April 2021, age 90.

Ambazonian leaders believe the boycott demonstrates their control over the Anglophone population and their leverage over the Biya regime, although only Anglophone children and their communities are suffering. Many parents keep children home while those who are wealthy enough send them to schools in the Francophone regions (where, paradoxically, they learn in French), forcing education in the Anglophone regions to largely cease. Before the conflict began, Anglophone schools had a reputation for such high standards that Francophones would send their children to school there.

Most separatist leaders live overseas, where their children are not missing school. They refuse to back down unless they are seen to win concessions from the government. In a Newsy video accompanying the Bellingcat report, Ebenezer Akwanga, leader of the Southern Cameroons Defence Forces (SOCADEF) separatist group, says that the boycott could compel the government to come to the table, although there is no evidence this tactic is working.

The prominent barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA), co-led the first peaceful protests in 2016 that started the Anglophone Crisis. He was imprisoned for eight months by the Cameroonian government. He says, “Perhaps at a time the school boycott was good, but a school boycott cannot run for long. And you cannot sacrifice the well-being of kids for political reasons.”

Meanwhile the Swiss Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue continues to offer to host inclusive peace talks. Both the government and some armed separatist groups have declined to participate. Meanwhile, a million Anglophone children live in fear of violence today and unemployment in the future.

*Rebecca Tinsley is a human rights activist and journalist. She is the founder of Network for Africa, and her most recent novel, When the Stars Fall to Earth, is set in Darfur. Stars Fall to Earth, is about Darfur and is available in English and Arabic

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Nigeria: State Sponsored Terrorism Against The Yoruba People Must Stop- -Attorney Ade Omojola On ICC Case Against President Buhari .
July 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

We filed the Submission at the ICC, because we cannot secure justice for the Yoruba people within Nigeria, due to the hijacking of the federal government, by agents of Fulani identity, says Aderemilekun “Ade” Omojola

State sponsored terrorism against the Yoruba people in Nigeria has reached alarming levels and must be stopped at all costs, says   Aderemilekun “Ade” Omojola, ., a U.S based Attorney in  New Jersey  who  recently filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court ,ICC against  Nigerian officials.

The complaint accuses multiple members of the Nigerian government of genocide, torture, and crimes against humanity amongst other charges. Officials listed in the complaint include Muhammadu Buhari, President; Hameed Ibrahim Ali, Comptroller-General, Customs; Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, Police, Former Inspector General; Mohammed Adamu, Police, Former Inspector General; Usman Alkali Baba, Police, Current Inspector General; Tukur Yusuf Burutai, Former Chief of Army Staff; Farouk Yahaha, current Chief of Army Staff; Sadik Abubakar, Air Force, Former Chief of Air Staff; Ahmed Abubakar Audi, Former Commandant General, Security & Civil Defense Corps; Abdullahi Gana Muhammadu, current Commandant General, Security & Civil Defense Corps;  Muhammed Babandede, Comptroller General, Immigration Service; Abubakar Malami, Lawyer,
Minister of Justice, Attorney General.

“We filed the Submission at the ICC, because we cannot secure justice for the Yoruba people within Nigeria, due to the hijacking of the federal government, by agents of Fulani identity, who are promoting the Fulani agenda,” says Ade Omojola in an exclusive interview with Pan African Visions.

To Omojola, a reasonable outcome from the ICC, would be  to launch a thorough investigation, and to ultimately prosecute and punish as many individuals as are found to have been complicit or active in facilitating the evil that is befalling the Yoruba people.

Could you start by giving us some background and context into the case you have filed against Nigerian leaders at the ICC?

Nigeria’s federal government is now dominated by the Fulani, along with the security agencies; we allege that they are complicit and actively supporting Fulani terrorism against the Yoruba People, in an attempt to take the land, and subjugate them into a political minority and permanent underclass.

This is set forth in greater detail on pages four and five of the Submission to the ICC.

What are the issues between the Yoruba tribes and the Federal government?

The federal government, or I should say, the Fulani government, has become a lever in the hands of the Fulani, who have hijacked it, and are using its powers and resources to crack open the society, for Fulani from across Africa, who aren’t even Nigerian, to dominate Yoruba ancestral lands, and to subjugate the Yoruba People as a permanent underclass. Violence and terrorism are their principal tools, for which Fulani terrorists have been imported; the federal government is allegedly complicit and actively facilitating through a supply chain, this the violent terrorism of the Yoruba People. They are doing the same to our brothers in the Middle-Belt and the South East.

The crimes took place in Nigeria, why are you suing at the ICC and what competence or jurisdiction does it have  over crimes of that nature perpetrated in Nigeria?


We filed the Submission at the ICC, because we cannot secure justice for the Yoruba people within Nigeria, due to the hijacking of the federal government, by agents of Fulani identity, who are promoting the Fulani agenda.  Those facilitating this evil are the ones running the Nigerian government. Abubakar Malami, for example, is the supposedly the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, but he has become a minister of injustice, in purposefully failing to protect the Yoruba People, by refusing to enforce the law via prosecution of government officials, who are complicit or actively facilitating these crimes. 

Whereas, under the Rome Statute, to which Nigeria became a state party on June 1, 2000, the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over acts of genocide and crimes against humanity, in cases where the government refuses to do anything meaningful about the situation.

Is there any precedence for the kind of justice or case you have lodged against Nigerian authorities?

  • On November 22, 2017 the ICC, through the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia convicted Ratko Mladic of the former Yugoslavia, of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide; the court went on to sentence him to life imprisonment.
  • In April 2012, the ICC, through the Special Court for Sierra Leone, convicted Charles Taylor, the former president of Liberia of Liberia of terror, murder, and rape; the Court went on to sentence him to 50 years in prison.


The images are pretty shocking and traumatizing for the human conscience, how were this obtained?

We issued a call for our People to send to us evidence of the atrocities, and we received hundreds of still and motion images, some of which were included in the Submission. 

Nigeria is a deeply polarized country, we see a so many high profile authorities listed, what about the local authorities in whose jurisdictions the atrocities took place?

It is impractical to list local government officials, because the incidents occur across several local government jurisdictions throughout Yoruba land. Whereas the purpose of the Submission is to trigger an initial review by the ICC prosecutor, and a subsequent investigation by the ICC. We have every confidence that when the ICC launches a full-scale investigation, many other individuals who are not listed in the submission will also be brought before the Court. 

With many of the accused persons from the Northern part of the country, are you concerned your team may be criticized for wading into the sectarian political fights of Nigeria?

The very essence, the foundation, and the roots of what the Yoruba are facing is ethnic, or as you put it, “sectarian” in nature, in that the Fulani seek to dominate Yoruba ancestral lands and subjugate the Yoruba as a permanent underclass. As the fruit is subject to the roots, the claims, and most likely the ultimate solutions will, by nature, have a heavy ethnic or “sectarian” element. 

Do you intend to use just the documents you have available or are there plans to have some of the victims testify in person?

We will follow the lead of the ICC, cooperate with them in the investigation, and facilitate whatever is necessary to secure justice for the victims. 

What kind of reaction have you received from the public and the Nigerian government on the case?        

News of the filing went viral, particularly in Nigeria and among Yoruba Civic Organizations, who ensured that the Nigerian news media gave it due attention. Yoruba People have been elated about the Submission; someone even wondered why it took so long for someone to file such a submission with the ICC, while another person contacted me to confirm if the Submission were real or a rumor circulating on social media.

With regard to the Nigerian government, shortly after the Nigerian news media broke the news of the filing, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) ordered television and radio stations not to disclose “details” of the activities of bandits, terrorists and kidnappers in daily Newspaper Reviews” as reported by the Daily Trust and several other news outlets. We believe news of the ICC filing caused the government to target the media houses with this order, because when the ICC decides to investigate, they could likely begin their investigation with information documented in the archives of the news organizations, who report these stories. 

President Buhari and others are accused of been complicit in fostering genocide against the Yoruba people in Southern Nigeria

From gathering evidence, and hiring lawyers , running such a case should require considerable resources, where are the funds coming from or everything is pro bono?

The greatest expense thus far, has been the time spent in producing the Submission to the ICC, which I have offered pro bono to our beloved Yoruba People, as a sacrifice, in our pursuit of justice for the unfortunate victims, many of whom have perished, thereby paying a much greater price.

What will be considered a reasonable outcome for you and the victims you represent in this case?

A reasonable outcome from the ICC, would be for the for the ICC to launch a thorough investigation, and to ultimately prosecute and punish as many individuals as are found to have been complicit or active in facilitating the evil that is befalling our People.

If the case does not go in your favor, how far are you willing to go to get justice?

We have filed our Submission, at the appropriate venue, in accordance with the rule of law, and we have every confidence that justice will be served.

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Microinsurance can mirror mobile money boom in Africa – if the conditions are right
July 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Marius Botha*

Marius Botha is Group CEO of African Insurtech aYo Holdings

When it comes to mobile money, there’s no doubt that Africa leads the world. From humble beginnings as a peer-to-peer money transfer system back in 2007, it has boomed to nearly $500bn in transactions in 2020, with more than 560 million users across the continent.

According to the GSMA’s State of the Industry Report on Mobile Money 2021, global daily mobile money transactions exceeded $2 billion for the first time last year, and are expected to pass $3 billion a day by the end of 2022. And there’s still more growth where that came from. According to the Wall Street Journal, only 45% of the continent’s population has an active mobile phone. 

What’s interesting is that customers are not only using their accounts more frequently, they are also using them for new and more advanced use cases. Many of the socio-economic and development challenges arising from the pandemic are being tackled with mobile money solutions. This suggests that more people are moving away from the margins of financial systems and are leading increasingly digital lives, the report said.

This is particularly good news for the microinsurance sector, which is growing steadily across Africa on the back of mobile network expansion, and is covering millions of people against financial shocks caused by unexpected life events.

Will microinsurance’s growth mirror that of the mobile money space in Africa? It’s hard to say at this stage. Right now, there are 130 mobile-enabled insurance services in 28 countries, with over half offering coverage for life and funeral or health and hospitalisation services. According to the GMSA report, 43 million policies were issued in 2020, two-thirds (29 million) of which were life and health insurance policies.

For microinsurance to show MoMo-like growth a few things have to happen:

First, a shift in existing perceptions of insurance as something that’s expensive, reserved for the middle class, or not to be trusted. This shift is slowly gathering momentum, largely through word of mouth. The more people experience the tangible benefits of microinsurance, the more they talk about it in their community, which drives greater trust – and ultimately, greater uptake.

Secondly, we need greater diversification of product and benefit options. While some insurance providers have already expanded their offerings from life and health insurance to income protection, education and even house insurance, life and health coverage remain the prevailing offerings.

Thirdly, it’s vital to have enabling insurance and telco regulations across the continent. For example, tax on the use of airtime as a premium collection method in some markets will have to be exempted in some countries. In others, restrictions on mobile money premium collections will have to be amended. The challenge is to build in consumer protection mechanisms to prevent over-charging of customer airtime or mobile money wallets from multiple products, and to ensure sufficient balances remain for other spending needs.  We certainly don’t want to see outcomes similar to over-indebted consumers burdened with additional debit order or payroll collections for insurance, as has happened in some markets in the past.

Finally, we need to ensure profitable business models for all product providers in the value chain.  While mobile channels reduce the marginal costs of accessing information and participating in financial service activities, the industry still relies on driving sufficiently high volumes of transactions at low costs, and low-cost distribution models. Many consumers still demand some level of face-to-face intermediation, which adds a layer of costs to the equation.

The stage is set for microinsurance to boom in Africa – and hopefully follow the mobile money growth trajectory. And that will be good for everyone, most of all consumers who are currently underserved and under-covered. Let the growth begin.

*Group CEO of African Insurtech aYo Holdings

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COP26 President Meets Kenyan President, highlights need for Developed Nations to honor climate finance pledges.
July 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

Africa–On Tuesday, COP26 President Alok Sharma held talks with Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta in London, ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in November. The two presidents discussed the upcoming climate conference and the need for developed nations to honor their pledges towards climate finance to developing countries, in Africa and beyond. Developed countries had pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year in climate financing to developing countries, by 2020. 

The climate finance pledges include resources to support developing countries in building resilience to climate impacts, protecting ecosystems, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and aligning their development pathways to net-zero carbon futures. 

Charity Migwi, 350Africa.org Regional Campaigner said: 

“Progress on delivering the climate financing promised to developing countries has been slow. Developing countries in Africa and elsewhere continue to suffer from the disproportionate effects of climate change. Climate impacts such as drought and flooding currently being experienced in parts of Africa are a testament to the devastating effects of climate change. This support is required to fund adaptation measures to protect communities and habitats, investment in renewable energy and phasing out of dirty energy. Africa cannot address climate change without the developing nations honoring their commitments regarding climate action.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta also witnessed the signing of an agreement for Kenya to join the Adaptation Action Coalition (AAC). The coalition, which was formed in January 2021 is aimed at supporting action to adapt and build resilience to the impacts of climate change. The two presidents also attended a session showcasing climate mitigation and adaptation technologies developed by African scientists.

COP26 is the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference that will take place in Glasgow, UK in November 2021. The conference will bring together 190 world leaders to hold deliberations geared towards reaching an agreement on how to tackle climate change. 

The Paris Agreement which was adopted by 196 parties at COP21 in Paris in 2015, affirms that developed countries should take the lead in providing financial assistance to countries that are less endowed and more vulnerable, while encouraging voluntary contributions by other parties. 

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Gender-lens investing and the post-COVID19 economic recovery in Africa.
July 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Lindeka Dzedze*

Lindeka Dzedze is Standard Bank Group Executive Head of Institutional Clients and Global Markets

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and intensified the already deep inequalities across Africa as unemployment has risen.  According to research conducted by McKinsey, women in Africa currently account for more than half of the population, but only generate a third of the continent’s GDP, as of 2018. In addition, 40% of SMEs in sub-Saharan Africa are women owned, but only 20% of these have access to institutional finance, leaving a funding gap of about $42 billion in often overlooked sectors and industries where women are economically active. 

A recent IFC report revealed that gender-balanced teams in private equity generate a 20% higher net internal rate of return and according to McKinsey’s research, advancing women’s equality in the workplace would add $28 trillion to annual global GDP, equivalent to the economies of China and the USA combined. The business case for gender lens investing and gender-smart strategies is compelling in the private sector.

While we see significant progress and change taking place as a result of the accelerated interest in economic, social and governance (ESG) investments since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there is a need for more emphasis on the social element, and gender in particular. The investment opportunity for capital allocators is significant.

Progress in gender-lens initiatives seem to have stalled since the onset of the pandemic, and at the current pace, it will take an estimated  140 years to see gender parity in Africa. To speed this up, strategic partnerships and continued multi-stakeholder action is needed to deploy gender-lens capital at scale.

It is for this reason that the Standard Bank Group joined forces with the United Nations (UN) Women HeForShe movement in 2018, with CEO, Sim Tshabalala standing up as a thematic champion of the movement. HeForShe invites men and women to stand in solidarity with gender equality and promote women’s empowerment.

Standard Bank has been intentional and has taken deliberate action in this regard, implementing socially impactful projects that target and empower women across of the continent to be the drivers of Africa’s growth and sustainability.

In 2020 we launched the African Women Impact Fund Initiative (AWIF) in partnership with the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) with the aim  of creating a sustainable investment platform to grow the number of women asset managers on the continent. Women currently manage less than 6% of the funds in Africa and typically only get funding for micro type initiatives. We are effectively looking to move women from small-scale money management to making large sustainable capital allocation decisions.

Through the AWIF, we set ourselves an ambitious target to raise $1 billion over ten years for women-owned and managed asset management firms. They will in turn be invested in high-impact businesses and projects across the continent, driving female entrepreneurship.

We are harnessing the power of finance to promote inclusive and sustainable development in Africa. Working in partnership with UN Women, we have collaborated with stakeholders to empower 50 000 women farmers in Malawi, Uganda, Nigeria and South Africa, through modern, climate-smart agricultural practices. This includes working to negotiate equitable market terms and to establish business and social contracts with sustainability-focused retailers.

For over a decade we have also worked with Lionesses of Africa, an established network of over one million female entrepreneurs across the continent, and through this vehicle supported their businesses as they grow from strength to strength.

Change begins at home, and we are also committed to reaching gender parity in executive positions across our operations. Aligned to this we have set ourselves a number of targets and are steadily working towards their realisation. One such target is for 33% representation of women on our board by the end of 2021. Women in executive positions across the group in Africa are now up to 33.6% and we are confident of reaching our target of 40% by 2023. In South Africa, women already make up 36.3% of executive positions and here too, we plan to reach our target of 40% by the end of this year.

Standard Bank’s employees are the biggest champions of this cause and we want to visibly lead in this space, making an impact that is real and valuable to women across the continent. We aim to be even more visible and purposeful in championing gender issues because we recognise that for Africa to emerge out of this pandemic stronger, women must be placed at the centre of economic recovery plans on the continent.

* Standard Bank Group Executive Head of Institutional Clients and Global Markets

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Former U.S President Barrack Obama joins NBA Africa as a strategic partner.
July 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Former US President Barrack Obama has joined the National Basketball Association (NBA) Africa as a strategic partner to help advance social responsibility efforts across the continent, announced the association on Tuesday.

He will be the minority stakeholder in the organization, a position he intends to use in the future to fund Obama Foundation youth and leadership programs across Africa.

“By investing in communities, promoting gender equality, and cultivating the love of the game of basketball, I believe that NBA Africa can make a difference for so many of Africa’s young people,” said Obama.

In the release, the ex-POTUS highlighted his love for the sport during his tenure. He noted that his father, a Kenyan, made him love the game when he gave him his first basketball at age 10.

“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States—using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent,” he stated.

NBA Africa is making tremendous progress in Africa, including running Basket Africa League, inaugurated in May 2021 featuring 12 teams. It also expands the NBA’s presence in priority African markets, deepening the league’s engagement with players and fans across the continent and growing Africa’s basketball ecosystem through programs like the Jr. NBA, Basketball Without Borders (BWB) and NBA Academy Africa.

“I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities.  That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”

“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States—using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa,” he added.

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THIS EGYPTIAN SENATOR, AFRICAN WOMAN CEO, FASHION ICON, EMPOWERS FASHION WITH PURPOSE IN AFRICA.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By BrandVoice Partner*

Senator Rasha Kelej is the first African woman to be Merck Foundation CEO, one of the world’s most important foundations, who has kept her efforts going for the last ten years.

Rasha Kelej is the brain behind the inspiring ‘More Than A Mother’ campaign – a rallying call against female infertility stigma – for which she was recognized as one of the Most Influential Africans of 2019 & 2020. The campaign, one of the most successful causes that have been taken forward by Merck Foundation, empowers childless and infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset, and economic empowerment. More than 20 First Ladies rallied behind the campaign as Ambassadors of “Merck Foundation More than a Mother” campaign, which is very impressive.

Hailed from Egypt and based in Dubai, this versatile lady and a style icon is a trailblazer and is influential in changing the perception of how fashion, film, music, and media can be utilized to address sensitive social and health issues such as breaking infertility stigma in Africa. This has been exemplified with the launch of “More Than A Mother’ Fashion, Films, Songs & Media Awards as she strongly believes in the critical role art, media, and fashion play in creating a culture shift, addressing sensitive issues and health matters in our communities.

ENATOR DR. RASHA KELEJ IS A PROLIFIC WOMAN AND HEALTH RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER:

Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej has been appointed by The President of The Arab Republic of Egypt as a member of the Egyptian Senate in 2020.

Called ‘Mama Africa’, Senator Kelej is an inspirational pioneer in the transformation of Patient care in Africa. More than 1000 doctors from 42 countries have benefited from Merck Foundation scholarships of specialties training in critical fields.

She emphasized, “During Coronavirus pandemic, it has been more important than ever to build capacity and training of specialized doctors. In some of these countries, they have never had even one oncologist, for example. They may have a general practitioner, but they did not have specialized doctors. We simply made history in these countries such as The Gambia, Burundi, Guinea & Liberia.”

“Our strategy and our program have been crystal clear – to invest in professional healthcare capacity building, and by helping train skilled doctors in the midst of this pandemic, has made a big difference,” she adds.

She is truly a force of nature and one of Africa’s unsung ‘sheroes’ of women empowerment and health advocates.

A Style icon and a champion to empower Fashion with Purpose in Africa

It is worth noting that Senator Rasha Kelej pays great attention to her looks and has a special and unique style that mixes international and African fashion. She never abandons the look of the outgoing, creative businesswoman who keeps pace with all international fashion trends, but rather mixes them with elegant touches of the African looks, which highlights the talent and creativity of many African fashion designers. Dr. Rasha Kelej is a truly African fashion icon and a champion of empowering fashion with purpose in Africa through supporting and mentoring potential new African fashion designers. She launches an annual competition through the Merck Foundation for the best design that carries messages that address sensitive social and health issues. She explained to us “My vision is to develop a community of young African fashion designers in order to catalyze a movement whose reach extends far beyond just fashion. But to create a culture shift and be the voice of the voiceless in their communities.“

“Fashion industry has already got enough flakes for being superficial. Let’s change this perception and create a meaningful fashion trend aiming to educate our communities. I love fashion and I strongly believe that designs can make Men and Women proud to wear to show their contribution toward their communities, villages, cities, across Africa ”

She added, “I will pay more attention to helping and supporting new fashion designers and talents in Africa to start their lines and professional journey in their countries, at the same time I am committing to raising awareness to correct misconceptions and wrong habits through their work and designs. I will also start two very important projects, I am planning for production of a TV program directed to African countries to unleash these talents, and also the start my own fashion line targeting Africa, through which I will cooperate with new talented designers from time to time to spread community awareness in rural African communities. It is not only my hobby, but it is also part of my personal contribution towards my beloved Africa.”

We can see what is unique about Senator Rasha… it is her appreciation for art, fashion, and media as critical partners in Merck Foundation’s journey of transforming patient care, sensitizing our communities, and addressing sensitive issues such as breaking infertility stigma, supporting girl education and stopping GBV. She is also cementing her position in African pop culture, capitalizing on her experience in TV production via releasing 20 songs with popular African musicians. She has developed concepts, produced, and sometimes directs their video clips herself. She also produced and directed an inspiring pan- African song called ‘My White Army’ as her personal contribution to thank the doctors and nurses fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle. The song, featuring singers from 11 African countries in three languages Arabic, English, and French, has received high acclaim from the continent.

She is the first and perhaps the only one to utilize fashion and art to break infertility stigma in Africa.

“I’d like to invite all fashion designers, singers, filmmakers, media representatives, and young talents to apply for these important awards and become health and social champions to become the voice of the voiceless in their communities. Kindly share in entries through an email at Submit@merck foundation.com”, she added.

To know more about Rasha Kelej’ s journey in creating a culture shift and leading Merck Foundation efforts in transforming patient care in Africa, please visit www.merck-foundation.com

*Courtesy of Forbes Africa

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Ghana:We’ve Never Seen Computer Mouse – Bece Candidates Frustrated
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

With a few weeks to the commencement of the 2021 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), final year pupils of the Ata Ne Ata Basic School in the Shama District of the Western Region say the odds are stuck against them.

The BECE candidates of the school are raising serious academic and infrastructural concerns which they strongly believe may cause them to perform poorly in the final exam.

The thought of writing subjects they have little knowledge about sends constant shivers down their spines. Some major concerns raised by the distressed students are the lack of computers at an empty room labeled as ‘ICT Lab’, lack of textbooks, and a library.

Sadly, most of the students have never seen even a computer mouse before. The students said they had not even seen a computer before.

However, Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is one of the subjects they will be assessed in during BECE to be conducted by the West African Examination Council (WAEC).

There are no story books for us to read so we can’t speak good English. We don’t have computer lab. We have never touched any part of a computer before. We only see them on paper, most at times too our teachers use their mobile phones to teach us, but we’ll be writing ICT. Isn’t this unfair?” a final year student who spoke (in Akan) on behalf of her colleagues lamented.

The headmaster himself doesn’t have an office. According to him they are not happy about this. If they are able to touch and feel a computer, they we’ll be happy and encouraged to study hard.

Taking a keen look at their classrooms, they don’t have electricity, fixed doors and windows so anytime it’s about to rain, they have to run back home to avoid getting wet.

The uncemented floors make the rooms slippery any time it rains and it is sad to dress neatly to school in the morning and come back home with dirty clothes due to the dust. They were asking answers into why government has abandoned them? They asked the question if they we not part of Ghana?

Though it is quite late to come to their rescue, the aggrieved students have appealed to the government, non-governmental organizations and philanthropists to have mercy on their school and donate some reading materials and laptops to save their juniors from failing in the future.

“I know that in some schools in [the urban areas] plenty computers are there which are not being used, but we are unfortunate to have none. So please I beg can you give us some?” a student appealed.

Former School Management Committee Chairman Lordson Alan K Akili poured out his frustration about the poor state of facilities in the school, including the headmaster’s office and staff common room.

There is no headmaster’s office and a staff common room, forcing teachers to find solace under trees on the compound.

He further stated that when it is about to rain, they move the tables and chairs to the uncompleted classrooms and at times close down and leave for the children to go home.

Mr. Akili also joined the students to make a passionate appeal to the government and well-meaning individuals or groups to come to their aid and donate some computers, text and story books, and furniture to improve teaching and learning in the school.

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Bank Of Ghana Keeps Policy Rate At 13.5%
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Bank of Ghana has kept the policy rate at 13.5 per cent,

The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Ernest Addison said headline inflation has eased sharply and reverted within the medium-term target band, driven mainly by the tight monetary policy stance and some base drift effects.

The latest forecast remains broadly unchanged with inflation projected to remain within band and around the central path in the forecast horizon barring any upside risks from fiscal pressures.

On fiscal operations, the budget deficit exceeded its target in the first five months mainly on the back of revenue underperformance.

Going forward, he said expenditure has to be aligned to revenue performance to support the fiscal consolidation efforts.

At 76.6 percent of GDP in May 2021, the level of public debt raises debt sustainability concerns and the Committee reiterated the importance and urgency of fiscal consolidation efforts.

Greater efficiency in debt management would be required, especially in the face of potential further tightening of global financing conditions which could heighten rollover risks and access to new financing in the outlook.

This calls for strong vigilance and complementarity in fiscal and monetary policies to signal to the markets a strong commitment to consolidation.

“On the whole, the Committee assessed that the risks to inflation and growth were broadly balanced and decided to keep the policy rate at 13.5 percent,” he stated.

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SADC stand by force has not yet arrived in Mozambique
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

The SADC stand by force has not yet arrived in Mozambique, despite the mandate envisaged that the deployment of the force should happen as from 15 July, defence ministry spokesman Omar Saranga said yesterday.

An advance team has arrived, as well as security analysts. Pictures of a South African military transport plane have been circulating, apparently at the airport of Pemba in Cabo Delgado.

“So from 15 July to now activities have been undertaken in order to receive this force, which is rather substantial. Steps are being taken so that it can be received and carry out its work. That means there are advance teams which are working with our troops on the ground to receive the force,” Saranga said.

South African defence minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula told members of parliament on Sunday that an advance party would determine if the full SADC force was needed; the size has not been revealed, but military experts advised SADC in April to send almost 3,000 troops plus helicopters, aeroplanes, patrol ships and a submarine.

Meanwhile, Rwandan troops, who have already arrived in Mozambique, have begun to engage the insurgents. They reportedly killed 30 insurgents, who were retreating towards the Tanzanian border, after encountering them at the village of Quionga.

President Filipe Nyusi has said that no other country supplying troops to fight terrorism in Cabo Delgado province has asked for anything in return, calling the help an “act of solidarity”.

Nyusi said that the situation had improved overall in the region compared to a few months ago, but he admitted that there were still areas controlled by insurgents, including Awasse, where intense fighting continues for an area that was under terrorist control until recently.

The president also reiterated that Mozambique was in charge of the foreign troops deployed to the country and that Mozambicans should not fear their presence.

According to the Ministry of Defence, besides South Africa and Botswana, Tanzania and Angola have also confirmed that they will send forces.

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Kenyan Chief Justice Martha Koome to hold discussion with judges from India, UK, and South Africa.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya’s Chief Justice Martha Koome

Kenya’s Chief Justice Martha Koome will on Wednesday hold a roundtable meeting with both former and sitting Supreme Court judges from India, UK, and South Africa to discuss the independence and integrity of the Judiciary.

Justice Sujata Manohar has convened the virtual meeting, a former Supreme Court of India Judge, hosted by the Justice K. T. Desai Memorial Committee with the Bombay Bar Association.

Justice Koome will be joined by Kenya’s Supreme Court Judge Isaac Lenaola and Lady Justice Mary Arden of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom.

Justice B.N. Srikrishna, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of India, and Justice Albie Sachs, a former judge of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, will also be in attendance.

Others are Sharad Rao, Chairman of the Judges and Magistrate Vetting Board in Kenya; Jan van Zyl Smit, from the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in London and Arvind Datar, senior advocate in India. 

The meeting comes in the backdrop of the frosty relationship between the Judiciary, the executive and the legislature.

On July 7. Justice Koome wrote to Speakers Justin Muturi (National Assembly) and Kenneth Lusaka (Senate) protesting against “frequent, multiple, overlapping and duplicating” summonses from Parliament’s committees.

She claimed the summons threaten the functions of the Judiciary and Judicial Service Commission (JSC)-Judges and Magistrates employer.

She incited summons, including the one on May 10, 2021, by the Senate standing committee on Justice, Legal Affairs, and Human Rights. The committee had summoned the Chief Registrar Anne Amadi to discuss the state of the Judiciary and Administration of Justice annual reports for the financial year 2018/2019 and 2019/2020.

She reminded the two Houses that the JSC is independent and not subject to direction or control by any person or authority.

Koome noted that the oversight role of the National Assembly has bounds.

“I am keen to explore constructive engagement with both Houses of Parliament, particularly on the accountability of the Judiciary, all within the permissible bounds of our respective constitutional mandates,” read part of the letter.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was also in the limelight in the past few weeks for failing to appoint six out forty judges recommended by the JSC.

The executive is also facing allegations of disobeying court orders.

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President Mnangagwa Scored only 2% out of a full package of 2018 fully-fledged pledges .
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa speaks at the 2019 Global Business Forum in Dubai on 19 November 2019, /Photo courtesy: Emmerson Mnangagwa – Twitter

Zimbabweans expectations  bare-faces a silhouette of a dark shadow . This comes after it has been learnt  and revealed by SIVIO Public Policy Institute .The civil society report reveals the leader of the country President Emmerson Mnangagwa dismally failed to fulfil a plethora of promises signed in 2018 . This was  some months after he took Presidential office post from embattled  coup sized and  deceased  Robert Mugabe .

The Institute pilot survey , qualitative and sieved quantitative data “reveals Mnangagwa dismally failing to reach height of his acme plans “. In total  there were 237 promises which culminated into  expected pledges in various sectors of governance. From the total , only 5 ( five) promises hit the ground running .

His success and victorious promises in sundry package of sincerity surrounds bit and pieces on economic issues , governance , politics and civil rights . One of his pledges was to enhance foreign currency retention thresholds for exporting firms , prompt an export oriented strategy and ensure the country‘’s infrastructural development related to roads in rural and urban areas get fully rehabilitated , double macadamized main highways from city to city .

SIVIO Institute report says ,

“Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe on January 2021 reversed a decision to force exporters including mining companies to sell their large proportion of  their US$ dollar earnings if they were not used  after 60 days.

“Zimbabwe’ balance of payment position continues to strengthen after surging 4,25% in 2020 compared to same period last year on account of strong growth in exports” , reads the report .

President Mnangagwa boasts he has come up with 20 Bills into law . Out of 44 drafted constitutional changes , 27 are in parliament .

President Mnangagwa has said several times ” The new dispensation respects the rule of law , respect of human rights and ready to work with investors “.

“We are open for business , with action , not words , we  build this country”. We will work hard to build up on infrastructure , economic reforms and attract investors “

President Mnangagwa has talked of elimination of corruption . He has tried to bring to book some ZANU PF corrupt people of high figure . Some are said to have returned back wealth that they accumulated during Mugabe reign. His concern centred on accountability , transparency in the government and both in the private sector .

President Mnangagwa after taking office in November 2017 he took a different direction to look opposite the direction of ZANU PF and  bury the bad practices which Robert Mugabe took as norm in his 37  years of dictatorial and tyrant rule . Of all elections done in Zimbabwe , the 2018 elections were directly peaceful with order without political violence . It was only revealed by independent media through information of the European Union observer mission that there was latent , hid and indirectly perpetrated violence in rural and farming communities where people were coerced to vote for ZANU PF during night meetings. The most tragical incident of all was the killing of six ( 6 ) protesting supporters among them innocent people who died in Harare on 1 July . Thus where Mnangagwa lost the confidence in terms of human rights observance.

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Mozaambique: Schools reopen in terrorism-hit district
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim


A Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders) staff member measures a child’s upper arm circumference to check for malnutrition in Meluco, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, Feb. 19, 2021, Photo MSF

Ten out of eleven schools have reopened in the district of Meluco, in Cabo Delgado province, after being closed because of terrorism in the region.

According to the district’s administrator, Paulo Lilanda, all schools have resumed classes except for one that was destroyed, and the government is working with the community to rebuild it.

The children who attended that school had moved to another school nearby, but it added around 6km to their journey, he said. The district was working to allocate the resources necessary to rebuild the school, Lilanda added.

On the other hand, the suspension of work on TotalEnergies’ natural gas project in March led to the direct loss of around $116m of revenues and the suspension of 3,250 work contracts, including people directly employed by TotalEnergies, President Filipe Nyusi said in a speech in Maputo on Sunday.

The terrorist attack on the town of Palma, near the gas project site, affected the operations of at least 28 companies, 17 of which suffered substantial material damage, Nyusi said.

In all the districts affected by the violence since 2017, mining activity had been completely paralysed and agriculture had become risky, which had had an impact on families that depended on farming for survival, the president said. In addition, the districts of Mocímboa da Praia, Quissanga, Macomia, Muidumbe and Palma do not have any health services, he added.

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Namibia Minister, NAMCOR and Petroleum Commission Commit to African Energy Week in Cape Town, Promote Oil and Gas Agenda and Opportunities for Investment.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

Commitments made by Minister of Mines and Energy Hon. Tom Alweendo, NAMCOR, the Petroleum Commission, and AIPN further position African Energy Week as Africa’s premier energy conference in 2021.

Namibian government representatives, public- and private-sector industry executives, and International Oil Companies (IOC) have committed to African Energy Week (AEW) 2021 in Cape Town on the 9th-12th of November. During a recent visit to Namibia by a delegation from the African Energy Chamber (AEC), the team met with various Namibian stakeholders, gathering key insight into the country’s high potential energy sector and promoting AEW 2021 in Cape Town as the ideal platform to drive investment in and growth across Namibia’s energy sector. By participating at AEW 2021, and taking part in the exciting networking opportunities the conference will present, Namibia is set to accelerate international participation in the country, driving economic growth, and positioning itself as an emerging energy competitor.  

With productive meetings underway, many Namibian stakeholders have already declared their commitment to the upcoming AEW 2021. As of yet, the AEC have met with Hon. Tom Alweendo, Minister of Mines and Energy; Maggy Shino, Namibia’s Petroleum Commissioner; Immanuel Mulunga, Managing Director of the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR); and Shakwa Nyambe, Managing Director, Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN)– Africa Chapter and Founder and Managing Director of the Namibian law firm Shakwa Nyambe & Company Inc., all of which have announced their support of and commitment towards AEW 2021. With an emphasis on local content, technical and regulatory affairs, and exploration and production, Namibia will drive a strong narrative for investment in its energy sector at AEW 2021.

The AEC team met with the Minister to discuss Namibia’s upcoming oil boom, the increase in upstream activities, and the role that AEW 2021 will play in advancing the country’s energy sector. Representing a relatively new oil and gas sector, and yet one with significant resources, Namibia is open for investment and is actively seeking partners to develop its industry, establish Namibian energy independence and security, and fast track economic growth. The AEC’s meeting with Hon. Tom Alweendo reiterated the role of AEW 2021 in contributing to Namibia’s oil boom, driving investment as well as both regional and international participation in the country’s emerging sector.

Furthermore, meetings with Immanuel Mulunga from Namibia’s national oil company, NAMCOR, emphasized the potential of the country’s oil and gas sector, providing insight into the current exploration activities across the country. NAMCOR has fully committed to AEW 2021 and will host a Namibia Pavilion at the event, showcasing the range of investment opportunities present in the sector and providing a base for which critical knowledge about the country can be gained. With NAMCOR playing an integral part in the AEW 2021 program, the country is set to drive investment and ensure energy security for years to come.

“Namibia is committed to AEW 2021, and we are honored to announce the participation by government and industry leaders. Namibia represents one of the most lucrative investment destinations in Africa, with emerging oil, gas and mining industries backed by a focused and modern regulatory framework positioning the country as a global competitor in 2021 and beyond. AEW 2021, as Africa’s premier energy conference, is the ideal platform by which Namibia can showcase its energy sector to the world, attracting significant foreign capital that will drive both energy sector and economic growth country wide,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the AEC. 

Finally, meetings with Namibia’s Petroleum Commission highlighted the role of local content and a supportive regulatory environment in advancing Namibia’s energy sector. Maggy Shino has declared that the Commission is fully committed to AEW 2021 and will participate in the event’s exciting program, hosting various technical and regulatory programs in a bid to promote Namibia and drive a constructive dialogue on the role of regulation. Additionally, the Commission, being particularly content driven, is focused on making AEW 2021 a success and will work hand in hand with the AEW 2021 team to ensure as such.

Namibia’s emerging energy sector – comprising approximately 11 billion barrels of oil reserves and 2.2 trillion cubic feet of proven gas reserves – has attracted significant attention from both IOC’s and oil and gas explorers. Due to the country’s favorable regulatory environment, and under the leadership of Hon. Tom Alweendo, Namibia has seen an influx in upstream activities, positioning the country as one of Africa’s final frontiers for oil and gas exploration. Notably, a recent drilling campaign by Reconnaissance Energy Africa indicated that Namibia’s 6.3 million-acre Kavango Basin may hold billions of barrels of oil, creating the opportunity for an oil boom, driven by progressive policies and a favorable investment climate.

Additionally, Tullow Oil plc is exploring Namibia’s offshore basins and ExxonMobil the frontier Nambie basin in partnership with NAMCOR, with new exploration campaigns by Qatar Petroleum and Shell in Block 2913A and 2914B, as well as the Venus exploration well by Africa Oil Corp, operated by Total Energies, further accelerating upstream activities, all of which are attributed to Namibia’s ease of doing business. The AEC looks forward to the results from these campaigns and aims to further promote the country as a premier investment destination at AEW 2021.  

With day two of the AEC’s working visit to Namibia expected to comprise critical meetings with the private sector, Namibia’s role in AEW 2021 has been emphasized. AEW 2021 serves as the ideal platform for African countries to showcase significant opportunities, network with African and global stakeholders, and facilitate the critical deals necessary for Africa’s energy future.

For more information about Africa’s premier energy event, visit www.aew2021.com or energychamber.org and/or email Amina Williams at amina.williams@energychamber.org

For registration-related inquiries, please contact registration@aew2021.com  

For sales-related inquiries, please contact sales@aew2021.com 

For media-related inquiries, please contact media@aew2021.com

For speaker-related inquiries, please contact speakers@aew2021.com

*African Energy Chamber

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Banks in Somalia to boost financial inclusion for women and youth.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments
We believe that this program will reduce challenges that non-bankable populations in Somalia face when they need capital support for their businesses, says Victoria Sabula, CEO of the AECF

Nairobi, Kenya – The AECFis pleased to announce that it has signed partnership agreements with IBS Bank and MicroDahab MFI, to promote women, youth, and agricultural producer groups in Somalia under the aegis of the Finance for Inclusive Growth in Somalia (FIG – Somalia) program funded by the European Union.

Victoria Sabula, CEO of the AECF said,

“The AECF is pleased to have the IBS Bank and MicroDahab MFI as part of our transformational program in Somalia. We believe that this program will reduce challenges that non-bankable populations in Somalia face when they need capital support for their businesses. We also hope that this new access to banking services will provide financial freedom for women and youth in Somalia.”

The Finance for Inclusive Growth in Somalia (FIG-Somalia) program aims to connect women- and youth-owned businesses and producers to financial institutions allowing them to access financing and technical support. It is envisaged that the FIG-Somalia program will reach nearly 8,000 beneficiaries and will create up to 4800 decent jobs; 40% of the program targeted beneficiaries are expected to be women entrepreneurs.

FIG-Somalia is a pilot programme component under the European Union’s Inclusive Local and Economic Development (ILED) programme, whose objective is to contribute to stability in Somalia by extending state authority and services, promoting local reconciliation and peacebuilding, creating inclusive economic opportunities and protecting the most vulnerable.

The objective of FIG Somalia is to revitalize and expand the local economy with a focus on livelihood enhancement, job creation and broad-based inclusive growth for Somali women, youth and producer groups.

The project is part of EU’s “Inclusive Local and Economic Development programme” (ILED). The European Union (EU) and its Member States are supporting stabilisation, inclusive economic growth and protection for the most vulnerable in Somalia through the ILED programme (ILED, EUR 98.2 million). Among ILED’s key objectives is an inclusive and sustainable economic growth based on a sound appreciation of challenges and potentials in Somalia.

About The AECF

The AECF is an African development funder that supports innovative commercial businesses in the agribusiness, renewable energy and adaptation to climate change technology sectors with the aim of reducing rural poverty, promoting resilient communities and creating jobs through private sector development.

The AECF provides patient capital to highly innovative, early-stage and growing enterprises that are hidden gems, poised for greatness, but that struggle to access funding from traditional sources of finance.

Launched in 2008, the AECF has mobilized over US$ 356 million, leveraged more than US$ 749 million in matching capital, improved the lives of more than 27.7 million people, created and sustained 24,733 direct jobs. Up to the present, we have supported 339 impact focused Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in 26 countries across sub-Saharan Africa across 40 value chains aligned to our focal sectors in agribusiness and renewable energy.

About the IBS Bank

IBS Bank is Somalia’s premier regional commercial and Investment bank with its headquarters in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia. The bank currently has ten (10) branches operating in key towns across Somalia.

IBS was incorporated in July 2013 and licensed by the Central Bank of Somalia (CBS).

IBS is the first Somali bank that has introduced full banking products & services to cater for private, public, national & international clients and the first to have started the usage of the SWIFT Code and IBAN which are recognized worldwide. The bank strictly observes international best financial standards and practices in its operations.

The Bank has received the best bank of the year award at Somalia Annual Business Award for two consecutive years. The Bank’s strategy of being a People’s bank with technology geared towards creating financial value to customers has yielded dramatic results with increasing market share realized from new demand for banking services. As a result, the Bank has doubled its business in all forms year on year in the last three years.

About Microdahab MFI

MicroDahab Company (Microdahab MFI) is the leading microfinance institution (MFI) in Somalia, with branches all over Somalia and Somaliland regions from Borama to Kismayo.

It was founded to enhance the growth of small, medium micro-enterprises (SMMEs) and create employment opportunities for the youth, women & productive sector. It is Dahabshiil Group’s way of giving back to the communities, taking them from vulnerability to sustainability to growth. MicroDahab MFI has 22 branches and 5 satellite branches.

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A Call For Direct Investment In The People Of Africa.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Prof Martin M. Niboh*

Prof Martin M .Niboh is Founder & President, of Igniting Africa. an indigenous community development grassroots movement

In a June 6, 2018, article in the Washington Post titled, “The future is African — and the United States is not prepared,” Salih Booker and Ari Rickman of the Center for International Policy state the following,

Beginning in 2035, the number of young people reaching working age in Africa will exceed that of the rest of the world combined and will continue every year for the rest of the century. By 2050, one in every four humans will be African. At the end of the century, nearly 40 percent of the world’s population will be African. Yet, instead of preparing to build a relationship that can grow with the continent, based upon diplomatic cooperation, the United States is doubling down on more than a decade of reliance on its military as the primary vehicle of engaging with Africa. The consequences, as one might expect, are overwhelmingly negative.”

The USA risks losing Africa, not just from negligence but also from a toxic relationship. It is like the lover who ignores you, and when they reconnect, they do so in unhealthy ways. While the USA has relied on its military as the foundation of U.S. relations with a complex and rising Africa, China, Europe, and the rest of the world have seen the folly of such reliance on the military.  China is investing in Africa in ways the USA is not. The Pentagon may be able to provide weapons, training, and vehicles to African militaries. Still, such military emphasis cannot offer Africa’s needs in free enterprise, trade deals, infrastructure projects, advice on agriculture, good governance, transparent political parties, and social movements to promote democracy and human rights.

Dr. Dambisa Moyo, in her book Dead Aid, has stated that “In the fractured world of Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan, Africa’s fragile and impoverished states are a natural haven for global terrorists. Porous borders, weak law enforcement and security institutions, plentiful and portable natural resources, disaffected populations, and conflict zones make perfect breeding grounds for all sorts of global terrorists.”

The consensus is that political stability, sustainable physical health, economic prosperity, and social cohesion are not words that describe the Africa of today. But the adverse effects of Africa’s challenges will not be contained within the continent. Indeed, the persistently high number of people in poverty, the underdevelopment of infrastructure, ongoing conflicts, and continuing problems with democratic governance are already combining to force many Africans to flee their homelands. Thousands of Africans have died in the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea in our lifetime as they flee Africa to seek freedom and prosperity in other countries. But that does not have to be the case for the Africa of tomorrow.

Africa’s development impasse demands a new level of consciousness, a greater degree of innovation, a generous dose of honesty about what it will take to build a prosperous Africa. At the very least, Africa needs an indigenous, grassroots, financially self-sufficient Pan-African movement of humanitarian entrepreneurs whose calling is to continually expand unconditional love, liberty, and free enterprise in Africa. Africa also needs a global community of Friends of Africa to encourage its indigenous grassroots movements to better Africa.

In the face of dictatorial and often ruthless governments in Africa, this indigenous, grassroots, Pan-African movement needs the courage of the unknown Chinese man who stood against Chinese tanks in Tiananmen Square in June 1989. Therefore, Africa indigenous movement needs encouragement from a community of friends of Africa across the world. Otherwise, the indigenous movement won’t survive.

It is in the role of a “Friend of Africa” that the American government can encourage trade deals, infrastructure projects, advice on agriculture, good governance, and also inspire the American people to promote free enterprise, transparent social movements that humanitarianism, liberty, democracy, and human rights.  No real friend of Africa should send foreign soldiers to Africa. After all, one of the lessons of America’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that it is cheaper to build nations with entrepreneurs and civic movements than with soldiers and military forces.  

It is in the interest of the USA, Europe, and the rest of the developed world to encourage the building of a united and prosperous Africa.  But the history of Africa’s relations with the rest of the world reveals a strong desire to exploit Africa. Even the good-intentioned presence of thousands of business people, humanitarians, engineers, and other technicians, in Africa has been primarily exploitative in its effects.

The participation of foreigners and foreign governments in Africa should provide material, human, and financial resources to Africa’s indigenous grassroots movements working for a united and prosperous Africa. This change will require a shift in mindset in our foreign friends. They are comfortable with their friends in African government institutions, Western nongovernmental organizations, and financial institutions but less comfortable with indigenous Africa leaders who are not a part of existing institutions. It is no secret that current institutions have failed Africans. It is time for direct investment in the people of Africa who are working to improve institutions and build new institutions that serve the people of Africa.

If the USA and the rest of the West who claim to promote democracy invest in the people of Africa at the grassroots and if they do so in ways that encourage the practice of free enterprise, humanitarianism, and liberty in Africa, then no one ever has to send thousands of soldiers to fight terrorists or tyrannies in Africa.

An African proverb says the best time to plant a tree would have been twenty years ago, and the second-best time is now. Similarly, the best time to build a united, free, safe, peaceful, powerful, and prosperous Africa would have been more than sixty years ago, and the second-best time is now.

*Prof Martin M.Niboh is a Former nuclear physicist, former Professor of Physics and Mathematics ,and a Contemplative Humanitarian Entrepreneur & Activist, He is Founder & President, of Igniting Africa an indigenous community development grassroots movement. He can be reached at president@thetorchbearer.org

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Anti-Gay Bill Seeks To Get Ghana Blacklisted For Promoting Hate – Gabby Otchere-Darko
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

Former Executive Director of the Danquah Institute, Gabby Otchere-Darko has said the activities of homosexuals are already illegal in Ghana. He said the new anti-gay bill that has been sent to Parliament will only lead to Ghana being blacklisted for promoting hate.

Gay+ activities are already illegal in our country. But, we aren’t known to hate. The President has given his word he won’t legalize it. According to him the Bill only serves one purpose: to get Ghana blacklisted for promoting hate! Further said, the promoters of the Bill can’t say they aren’t aware.

The Member of Parliament for the people of Ningo Prampram Samuel Nartey George and some other lawmakers are sponsoring an anti-LGBT+ Bill in Parliament.

Portions of the bill reads “A person who, by use of media, technological platform, technological account or any other means, produces, procures, markets, broadcasts, disseminates, publishes or distributes a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill, or a person uses an electronic device, the Internet service, a film, or any other device capable of electronic storage or transmission to produce, procure, market, broadcast, disseminate, publishes or distribute a material for purposes of promoting an activity prohibited under the Bill commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a term of imprisonment of not less than five years and not more than ten years.”

Sam George is receiving flak from some quarters for sponsoring the anti-LGBT+ agenda. A Ghanaian musician Sister Derby who is also a known advocate of LGBT+ rights in Ghana “obsessed with people’s sexual orientation” and tagged him as a pervert and backward thinker.”

But he has said his is opened to intellectual debate on the anti-LGBT+ Bill he and some of his colleague lawmakers are sponsoring. Speaking in an interview said emotional outbursts have no place in legislation.

The lawmaker said they are opened to intellectual criticisms or criticisms and suggestions grounded in law.

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Government Of Ghana To Earmark $25million For Local Production Of Covid Vaccines.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

The Committee established by the President will be under the leadership of world-renowned Ghanaian scientist, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has said that the global shortage of coronavirus vaccines means that Ghana must develop its capacity to produce own vaccines domestically, and reduce the dependence on foreign supplies. He said Ghana must be self-sufficient in this regard in the future, and prepare better to deal with any such occurrences in the future.

To this end, he said in an address to the nation on Sunday July 25 that the Committee he established, under the leadership of the world-renowned Ghanaian scientist, Professor Kwabena Frimpong Boateng, to investigate Ghana’s potential as a vaccine manufacturing hub, to meet national and regional needs, has presented its preliminary report which, amongst others, recommends the establishment of a National Vaccine Institute to spearhead this development.

According to the President, the Government has committed to inject seed funding of some twenty-five million United States dollars (US$25 million) this year into this whole enterprise. The Institute, Mr. Akufo-Addo said will be charged with delivering six clear mandates.

These are establishing local vaccine manufacturing plants; deepening Research & Development (R&D) for vaccines in Ghana; upgrading and strengthening the FDA; forging bilateral and multilateral partnerships for vaccine manufacturing in various areas, such as funding, clinical trials, technology transfer, licensing, and assignment of intellectual property rights; building the human resource base for vaccine discovery, development, and manufacture; and establishing a permanent national secretariat to coordinate vaccine development and manufacture.

President Akufo-Addo further indicated the government is procuring some 18,478,670 vaccines through the COVAX facility, African Medicine Supply Platform and other bodies.

He noted that these vaccines will arrive in the country in the third quarter of the year. The United States of America through the COVAX facility is providing 1,000,000 Pfizer vaccines; the African Union is providing 229,670 Pfizer vaccines while the United Kingdom is giving out 249,000 AstraZeneca vaccines.

The Government of Ghana is also in the process of procuring seventeen million (17 million) single dose per person Johnson & Johnson vaccines, through the African Medicine Supply Platform, in this quarter.

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Majority of Kenyan men living with HIV unaware.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

A study published in the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome has discovered that thousands of Kenyan men live with HIV without knowing.

The research was conducted by Kenya’s National Aids and STIs Control Programme and US Centre for Disease Control in Kenya.

Researchers found out that 33.7 per cent of 114,776 men interviewed and tested for HIV in Kenya and 12 other countries are HIV positive and not aware.

The study further found that 63 per cent of those unaware of their HIV positive status had never been tested for the virus.

The number of Kenyan women going for HIV tests is higher than those of men. Statistics show that in the last 12 months, almost 72 per cent of women were tested for the virus compared to 45 per cent of men.

“The results from this large sample suggest that many men in sub-Saharan Africa are likely unaware of their HIV-positive status due to the compounding effects of sociodemographic, behavioural and clinical influences,” read part of the study.

The researchers have proposed partner testing, frequency of testing, outreach and educational strategies and availability of HIV testing where men are accessing routine health services to improve the yielding of testing programmes.

“Increased access to and frequency of HIV testing is needed to identify undetected infection in men including in settings where they are accessing services for TB and voluntary medical male circumcision,” they added.

The data from the Ministry of Health shows that Siaya(21 per cent), Homabay (20.7 per cent), Kisumu (16.3 per cent), Migori (13.3 per cent) and Busia (7.7 per cent) have a higher prevalence of HIV infection.

Nairobi County is also among the top ten counties.

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Reprieve for South Sudanese as Kenya waives visa requirements.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenyan Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Ambassador Macharia Kamau.

South Sudan citizens can now do business or social activities in Kenya without hindrances, announced the Kenyan government.

In a statement released on Monday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said South Sudan citizens will not need a valid passport to enter Kenya effective July 26, 2021.

The ministry noted that the move was occasioned by the warm and cordial relations between Kenya and South Sudan.

It said the waiver will enhance cultural ties and strengthen the economy of both Partner States by encouraging free movement of persons and labour, which are key pillars in the integration of the East African Community.

The waiver was in adherence to the provisions of the Treaty for the Establishment of the East African Community.

“Further, in line with Article 10 the EAC Common Market Protocol, the workers of the two Partner States will be allowed to accept employment within the territory of each other,” read part of the statement.

South Sudan, in turn, waived visa requirements for Kenyans wishing to visit the country.

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Israel Readmitted To The African Union .
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

This diplomatic achievement is the result of efforts by the Foreign Ministry, the African Division, and Israeli embassies on the continent , says Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid .Photo credit Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg/Getty Images

Israel has been readmitted back into the African Union 19 years after it was ousted from the continental bloc. Israel was suspended from being an African Union observer member in 2002 at the time when the Organization of African Unity was rebranded into the African Union. The readmission of Israel into the African Union means it now joins its nemesis Palestine in being an African Union observer member.

The news of Israel’s readmission into the African Union was first publicly conveyed by Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who in a statement said, “This is a day of celebration for Israel-Africa relations. This diplomatic achievement is the result of efforts by the Foreign Ministry, the African Division, and Israeli embassies on the continent.” Yair Lapid was speaking soon after Israel’s ambassador to Addis Ababa Aleleign Admasu had submitted Israel’s charter to the African Union as an observer member.

In his remarks, Yair Lapid went further to state that “This (rejoining the African Union) corrects the anomaly that existed for almost two decades… and is an important part of strengthening of fabric of Israel’s foreign relations. This will help us strengthen our activities in the continent and in the organization’s member states.”

In the recent past, Israel made attempts to rejoin the African Union but with no success. Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2016 became the first Israeli leader in decades to travel to Africa and visit a number of countries – Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia. The recent success as according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry was necessitated by a “diplomatic operation” that involved a visit by the ministry’s director-general of African Affairs Aliza Ben-Noun to Addis Ababa where she met 30 ambassadors from African Union member countries.

According to Aliza Ben-Noun, Israel’s readmission into the African Union will not only help on the economic front but will lend political recognition to the country. “This political recognition is extremely important because it’s not good enough to have good bilateral relations with the member states,” Ben-Noun said.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said the newly established relations between Israel and Africa will help the two to cooperate on areas of mutual interest such as the fight against Covid-19 as well as the fight against terrorism. “Once the relationship with the African Union is established, the parties will be able to cooperate, among other things, in the areas of the fight against the corona virus and the prevention of the spread of extremist terrorism throughout the continent.”

The move to readmit Israel shows the changing geopolitics in North Africa according to Ashok Swain, a professor of peace and conflict research. In a Twitter post, Prof Swain said “Gaddafi had forced Israel out – After 19 years, Israel returns to African Union as Observer. It reflects changing geopolitics in North Africa.”

Some African nationals have expressed skepticism on the decision reached by the African Union to readmit Israel as an observer member. One Twitter user in a post said, “Destabilize of the Middle East has set its eyes on African Union. God save Africa” while another simply tweeted, “What is Israel observing in the AU?”  

As an observer member, Israel joins its nemesis Palestine which since 2013 has been officially recognized as an African Union observer member. The African Union since 2013 has been voicing its support for the Palestinian struggle to establish an independent and viable state and the Palestinian leader since 2013 has been addressing the Union. It remains to be seen how the latest decision by the African Union to readmit Israel will affect its relations with Palestine. 

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Kenya:Uhuru to kick-off 3-day UK visit on Tuesday
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

File Picture.President Uhuru Kenyatta waves to his supporters .PHOTO REUTERS/Marko Djurica

President Uhuru Kenyatta is expected in the United Kingdom on Tuesday for a three-state visit.

During the visit, he will co-chair Global Education Summit with his host Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The summit’s main agenda is to raise $5 billion to educate children across the developing world over the next five years. It will take place on July 28 and 29.

President Kenyatta will also meet Boris at his residence, where they are expected to announce major investments into big four projects on affordable housing, manufacturing and health partnerships. Kenyatta will also be focusing on Kenya-UK health partnerships in dealing with Covid-19 and cancer prevention and treatment.

After meeting Boris, he will attend an event at West London’s Kew Gardens to celebrate the Kenya-UK Year of Climate Action and Kenya’s leadership on climate change in Africa ahead of COP26.

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will then host the President in an event at Mansion House in London’s historic financial district. Mr Raab is expected to make big announcements on the UK’s support for Big Four projects in Kenya.

During his 3-day visit, Mr Kenyatta will also meet senior members of the UK Royal family.

“It is 18 months since the President last visited the UK for the Africa Investment Summit. As part of that visit, the President agreed on a new Strategic Partnership with Prime Minister Johnson. The two leaders are expected to discuss huge progress across all areas of the partnership, including Mutual Prosperity; Security and Stability; Sustainable Development; Climate Change; and People to People,” read part of the statement issued jointly by State House and  British High Commission on Monday stated.

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Criticism Highlights Russia’s Media Weakness in Africa.
July 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Kester Kenn Klomegah*

MOSCOW, RUSSIA – DECEMBER 18, 2019: Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova speaks during a press briefing on Russia’s current foreign policy. Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS

In her weekly media briefing July 23, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized United States support for educational programs, media and NGOs in Africa. In addition, Zakharova said “the allocation of grants fits into the White House’s efforts to promote the idea that there is no alternative to Western concepts regarding state governance and the imposition of alien values on sovereign states, and this represents another manifestation of neo-colonialism and an element of covertly formalizing inequality in the overall system of international ties.”

Russia’s position as contained in her briefing is available on the official website, and part of which is quoted here: “We have no choice but to comment and explain why we perceive this as Washington’s striving to eliminate the favorable regional socio-political background with regard to Russia that became particularly obvious following the Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi in October 2019.

It appears that the United States is deliberately encouraging anti-Russia publications in some African media outlets and is trying to portray Russia as a destabilizing force. We are confident that such methods of unfair competition and misinformation show that there is no hard evidence confirming the so-called Russian policy of propaganda and misinformation, and this is also the consequence of weak US approaches in the field of public diplomacy.”

That well-said of the United States, it is equally important to note that since the Soviet collapse in 1991, the question of media representation both ways, in Russia and in Africa, has attracted unprecedented concern and discussions. Over the years, nearly 30 years after the Soviet era, Russia has not encouraged African media, especially those from south of Sahara, to operate in the Russian Federation.

On the other hand, Russian media resources are largely far from eminent in Africa, and these include the media conglomerate popularly referred to as Rossiya Sevogdnya (RIA Novosti, Voice of Russia and Russia Today), TASS News Agency and Interfax Information Service. These are powerful and reputable Russian brands, compared to most well-known Western and European media organizations operate in and cooperate with Africa.

Even not quite long, that was in November 2018, the State Duma, the lower house of parliamentarians, called for an increased Russian media presence in African countries, while Russia has closed its doors in offering opportunities for Africa media representation in the Russian Federation.

During the meeting that was scheduled to brainstorm for fresh views and ideas on the current Russia-African relations, State Duma Chairman Vyacheslav Volodin told Ambassadors from African countries: “it is necessary to take certain steps together for the Russian media to work on the African continent.”

“You know that the Russian media provide broadcasting in various languages, they work in many countries, although it is certainly impossible to compare this presence with the presence of the media of the United States, United Kingdom and Germany,” Volodin said, and promised that the State Duma would create the necessary legal basis for this long-term media cooperation.

Experts say that neither Russia has an African media face nor Africa has a Russian media face. Thus, in the absence of suitable alternative sources, African political leaders and corporate business directors depend on western media reports about developments in Russia and from the developed world.

Interestingly, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department has accredited media from Latin America, the United States, Europe and Asian countries, and only two African media came from the Maghreb region (Morocco and Egypt) in North Africa.

The official information presented during the first Russia-Africa Summit, held in October 2019, explicitly showed the degree of priority given to African media. Some 300 media bureaus from 60 countries are currently operating in Russia, including 800 foreign correspondents while there are only two African news bureaus from Egypt and Morocco, according to Artem Kozhin, who represented the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Information and Press Department, at the panel discussion on media.

According to his interpretation, this extremely low representation of African media hardly meets the level of current dynamically developing relations between Russia and Africa. “We invite all interested parties to open news bureaus and expand media cooperation with Russia,” Kozhin said at the gathering, inviting Africa media to Moscow.

Nearly all the panelists noted precisely that western media dominates in Africa. “Often times, unique news offerings created by the Russian media simply do not make to the users and viewers in many regions, including Africa. Evidently, this vacuum gets filled with one-sided information from other players in the media market. This information can be biased, or outright hostile towards Russia and residents of other countries,” said Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Special Presidential Representative for the Middle East and Africa.

During the Russia-Africa Summit, Professor Alexey Vasiliev, the first appointed Special Representative of Russian President for Relations with Africa (2006-2011) and currently the Head of the Center for African and Arab Studies at the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (2013-2020), told the audience there in Sochi: “Africa is largely unaware of Russia, since African media mainly consumes information the Western media sources and then replicates them. And all the fake news, the Rusophobia and anti-Russian propaganda, spread by the western media, are repeated in the African media.”

“Measures are needed to enable us to better understand each other,” suggested Professor Vasiliev, who regularly advises the Presidential Administration, the Government of the Russian Federation, both chambers of the Federal Assembly, and the Russian Foreign Ministry.

Some experts have consistently argued that Russia has discriminated against the media from sub-Saharan Africa. That trend remains unchanged even after the first Russia-Africa Summit, held in Sochi with the primary aim of helping identify new areas and forms of cooperation, put forward promising initiatives that would bring collaboration between Russia and Africa to a qualitatively new level and contribute to strengthening multifaceted cooperation between the two regions.

Let that be the acceptable case, but both Russia and Africa have basic questions that still need quick answers. The questions raised at the panel discussion on media at the Russia-Africa gathering: What issues are currently encountered in the formation of the modern media landscape? What role does the media play in Russian-African relations? What are the prospects for collaboration in the information sphere? What needs to be done to develop a Russian media agenda in Africa? What is the role and place of Russia in the information space of Africa today? What role can African media play in promoting further Russia’s image in Africa?

In practical terms, the highly successful spade-work was the first Russia-Africa Summit. The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has to layout some new mechanisms and adopt a more favorable approach that could readily attract African media to operate in the Russian Federation.

Russia and Africa need to examine every sphere based on shared partnership interests and redefine practical approach to realizing whatever plans on media cooperation. Media and NGOs, as instruments for improving adequately public knowledge, especially on developments and emerging opportunities, have not been persuaded to match the desired future objectives and policy goals.

The stark reality is that Russia needs Africa media and Africa needs Russian media, in order for them to enlighten ties in the economic spheres, to promote a better understanding among African elites and the middle class through media reports. The middle class is twice Russia’s population and almost the size the population of United States. According to UN forecasts, the Africa’s middle class, constitutes a very huge vibrant information-consuming market, will exceed 350 million by 2025.

Professor Vladimir Shubin, the former Deputy Director of the Institute for African Studies, explained in an interview with me that political relations between Russia and Africa as well as the economic cooperation would continue to attract more and more academic discussions. Such scholarly contributions, in essence, would help deepen understanding of the problems that impede building solid relationship or partnership with Russia.

In order to maintain this relationship, both Russia and Africa have to pay high attention to and take significant steps in promoting their achievements and highlighting the most development needs in a comprehensive way for mutual benefits using appropriately the media, according to Professor Shubin.

“African leaders do their best in developing bilateral relations,” he added. “Truly and passionately, they come to Russia more often than ten years ago, but a lot still has to be done; both Russian and African media, in this case, have a huge role to play.”

Perhaps, one of the reasons why some African leaders appear to have “written off” Russia has been lack of adequate information about Russia, or rather plenty of distorted information they have received from the Western media coverage of Russia, Professor Shubin concluded.

“Russian media write very little about Africa, what is going on there, what are the social and political dynamics in different parts of the continent. Media and NGOs should make big efforts to increase the level of mutual knowledge, which can stimulate interest for each other and lead to increased economic interaction as well,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal ‘Russia in Global Affairs’ and also the Chairman of the State Council on Foreign and Defense Policy.

“To a certain extent,” Lukyanov said, “the intensification of non-political contacts may contribute to increased interest. But in Russia’s case, the main drivers of any cooperation are more traditional rather than political interests of the state and economic interests of big companies. Soft power has never been a strong side of Russian policy in the post-Soviet era.”

Similarly, Bunn Nagara, a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, member of the Valdai Discussion Club, has observed that “Russian businesses face a number of challenges. First, there is little information available internationally about the opportunities and possibilities for partnerships between Russian and foreign businesses.”

“Russia is a large country spanning both Europe and Asia. So, it can do much to bring Asian and European business linkages together and build on them. Better public relations and improved information dissemination are very important. To do this, it needs to do more in spreading more and better information about its achievements, the progress so far, its future plans, and the opportunities available,” Bunn Nagara said.

Early October 2019, the Valdai Discussion Club released an ebook titled “Russia’s Return to Africa: Strategy and Prospects” jointly or collectively authored by Vadim Balytnikov, Oleg Barabanov, Andrei Yemelyanov, Dmitry Poletaev, Igor Sid and Natalia Zaiser.

The Valdai Discussion Club was established in 2004, with a goal is to promote dialogue between Russian and international intellectual elite, and to make an independent, unbiased scientific analysis of political, economic and social events in Russia and the rest of the world.

The authors explicitly suggested the need to take steps in countering Western anti-Russia clichés that are spreading in Africa and shaping a narrative whereby only dictators and outcast partner with Russians. Therefore, efforts to improve Russia’s image must target not only the continent’s elite, but also a broader public opinion. It would be advisable to create and develop appropriate media tools to this effect.

Media and NGOs, working with the civil society, have to support official efforts in pushing for building a positive image and in strengthening diplomacy. Displaying an attentive and caring attitude towards the African diaspora in Russia, the key objective is to overcome racist stereotypes that persist in marginal segments of Russian society. Helping highly qualified educated African migrants to integrate through employment. This will, in addition, showcase and shape public opinion about Africa in the Russian Federation.

According to the authors, building a more and consistent positive public opinion within Russia and Africa should be considered extremely important at this stage of relations between Russia and Africa. Should Russia assist other countries for political purposes only? Will the recipient countries be willing to lend Russia their political support, and can they be trusted? Should Russia build its partnerships exclusively based on the principle of economic expediency?

The authors wrote: “Russia will have to answer these questions as it moves towards implementing its African strategy. Its experience in working with public opinion and governments across Eurasia to shape public perceptions will come in handy in Africa.”

In the context of these existing challenges, leaders on both sides have to draw a roadmap. Inside Africa, Africans have had enough of all these public discussions. The time has come to make progressive changes to the current approach, create a new outlook or simply call it “media facelift” instead of maintaining the old status quo. It therefore means taking concrete practical steps toward an effective media cooperation, this will substantially not only broaden but deepen two-way understanding of current developments in Russia and in Africa.

The irreversible fact is that there is the need to have an informed African society, and this has to be done largely, systematically and necessarily through the media. Africa has the largest number of young people, who look at the world with open eyes and are ready for cooperation with partner countries. This is a good opportunity to inform the young generation, bring them together through knowledge from Russia, Eurasia, and Africa.

Moscow hosted the first Russia-Africa Public Forum in October 2018, most of the issues emerging from there and diverse opinions expressed at that gathering are useful for improving current relationship. As already known, Russia has a long-time relationship with Africa. Russia and Africa have to make that mutual desire to step up cooperation in all areas including social spheres and public outreach diplomacy. In this connection, it requires complete understanding, necessary primary support for new initiatives and, as always reiterated, commitment to dynamic work to expand traditionally friendly relations with Africa.

*Kester Kenn Klomegah writes frequently about Russia, Africa and the BRICS. As a versatile researcher, he believes that everyone deserves equal access to quality and trustworthy media reports. Most of his well-resourced articles are reprinted elsewhere in a number of reputable foreign media.

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Can the African Super League Succeed when the European Super League Failed?
July 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor*

.Patrice Motsepe, CAF President

On April 18, the global sporting world was united against the proposed European Super League which will involve a select few participating years in year out. European governing body, UEFA was against the idea and even FIFA’s President Gianni Infantino was against the idea.

Within a couple of hours, the majority of the clubs involved in the proposed league backtracked and the competition died an untimely death. Football breathes a sigh of relief not knowing that this same idea had been proposed to the African continent by a man who was against the ESL idea, Gianni Infantino. 

This, therefore, begs the question of what the motive Gianni Infantino has on the continent and if he had a share of the cake with the European Super League he would have a campaign against it.

A close-shop like the European Super League

Infantino raised the idea first in 2019 saying it would comprise 20 permanent member clubs plus others that would qualify via regional competitions, predicting the Super League with a payment of $20m every year over five years would have the potential to generate a revenue of $3 billion over a five-year cycle.

The creation of an African Super League could make it one of the top ten football competitions in the world, changing the financial reality of football on the continent, according to the FIFA President.

“We have had some serious problems in Africa and it has to change. It has to change the way of how to do business, it has to take on board the basic elements of good governance,” he said.

“There needs to be proper competition infrastructure. I think it is fair to say that the competitions in Africa are 30-to-40 times less successful than in Europe,” he said on Monday.

The criteria for selecting the 20 clubs have yet to be made known which beg the question Will it be based on the CAF club coefficient? On historical performance? On club profile and followership? And what will happen to the CAF Confederations Cup and CAF Champions League?

Al Ahly, reigning African champions and the most successful club in the continent’s history, is reportedly vehemently opposed to the idea. However, other clubs have already jumped on the bag wagon and campaigning for a place in the proposed new competition.

Simba CEO Barbara Gonzalez after the election of the new CAF President promptly tweeted to the effect that plans to execute the Super League were underway.

“It was great catching up with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino on the sidelines of the CAF Elections 2021. The rollout of the African Super League with 20 permanent member clubs is underway. We look forward to having Simba SC Tanzania participate soon.”

Wydad Casablanca celebrates winning CAF Super Cup

CAF President Patrice Motsepe in Support of African Super League

The hand of Infantino is impossible to miss in the politics of the continent’s football, and so it was that, upon the confirmation of Motsepe, he was present. FIFA president was seen as a close ally of the former CAF President Ahmad Ahmad who was banned from football-related activities due to mismanagement.

And it seems the new CAF President Patrice Motsepe is looking to be an ally of Infantino with the CAF President already loving the idea saying it was needed to improve the game on the continent and make it financially viable.

“We are assessing and in preliminary discussions to start an inclusive and broadly supported and beneficial CAF African Super League,” he said in a statement. “We have been following the attempts by some top European clubs to form a Euro Super League and will learn from their experience and pitfalls.”

Motsepe said CAF, which is African football’s controlling body, must consider new competitions to generate additional income for itself and its member associations and “also contribute to African football becoming globally competitive and self-sustaining.”

Motsepe, who took on the job in March, also said that CAF’s image needed improving. “There is a poor perception of CAF concerning its adherence to governance, auditing, ethical, and financial and management good practices,” he said.

Dr Patrice Motsepe added: “These negative perceptions may, to some extent, be confirmed by the incriminating and damning audit which identified irregular, unethical and improper transactions and conduct.”

“CAF should be seen as a body that adheres to good governance, ethics and financial and management best practices. It is also important that the quality of [our] competitions are globally competitive and appealing to spectators, viewers and interested parties in Africa and globally.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino

Why is the world silent about the African Super League?

On April 18, the birth of the European Super League was announced by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez to the dissatisfaction of managers, players and European and World Football governing bodies.

“I can only say my personal opinion. I do not like it and hopefully, it does not happen,” Liverpool player James Milner said about the proposition of the ESL.

“I fell in love with popular football, with the football of the fans, with the dream of seeing the team of my heart compete against the greatest,” PSG Player Ander Herrera wrote on Twitter.

“If this European Super League advances, those dreams are over, the illusions of the fans of the teams that are not giants of being able to win on the field competing in the best competition will end.”

The world seems to be silent on this idea being proposed by FIFA President on the African continent. The voices who were against the ESL seemingly have forgotten about that being proposed to Africa.

“What this accurately conveys is that, for all that the proposed profit margins are heady and exciting; the demand for an African Super League is pretty much nil. It is an idea that, in its current guise, benefits no agenda but Fifa’s,” Solace Chukwu wrote in a piece for Goal.

*Culled from July Issue of PAV Magazine

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Suspension Of DWB Deprives Cameroon’s NW’s Most Vulnerable Citizens Of Free Healthcare Amid Deadly Armed Conflict.
July 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Nsoseka*

.A medical personnel from Doctors Without Borders attends to a patient in the North West Region

Locals in Cameroon’s Northwest region, who have had their lives distorted in the last couple of years by an ongoing war against cessation, which has displaced hundreds of thousands internally, and forced others to flee as refugees, now have another big challenge – access to healthcare.

 When the crisis erupted and protests gradually morphed into an armed resistance and the war that ensued, many institutions folded, including healthcare institutions. Many healthcare institutions and professionals, soon became targets, as they were accused of treating belligerents in the armed conflict. Several Doctors and practitioners are today, serving jail terms or languishing in pre-trial detention on such charges.

The situation, was however, was mitigated when Doctors Without Borders, DWB an international NGOs rendering health services to those affected by the war came in. However, it was short-lived, when DWB was like several medical care providers, accused of also treating armed fighters and aiding them. The accusation of aiding the fighters has been rejected by the organisation.

Unfortunately, Cameroon’s Northwest regional Governor, Adolphe Lele Lafrique in December of 2020, issued an order, banning activities of DWB in the region, leaving thousands of those who relied on the outfit for medical care, stranded, with no option. Many now rely on local remedies, prayers, or risk going to hospitals, and if treated, held hostage till the money is paid.

On its May 28, 2021 weekender edition, The Post reported a pathetic story of a family running away from the incessant raids in Bui Division, of Cameroon’s Northwest Region. The news article by Chris Mbunwe narrated the sad story of a teacher, Oliver Lankar who, in escaping from the turbulent Division, lost his one-year-old baby due to the heavy rains and cold.

At St Mary Soledad hospital, Dr Jifon Edwin Fonyuy stitches up the wounds of Felix, a young patient who was attacked and mutilated by his attackers in March 2020, in the NW

Though one could be incorrect to say that the refuge-seeking man would have sought medical help from community volunteers working with an organisation like Doctors Without Borders – providing free medical assistance to those in dire need, Lankar’s family did not have that option – it was ripped from people like him and a multitude of others, when DWB, had its activities suspended.

On December 8, 2020, Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique issued a prefectorial order, suspending activities of Doctors Without Borders, a front-line organisations providing free healthcare services to thousands of victims and those affected in one way or the other by the Anglophone crisis in the two crisis-hit regions.

In article (I) of the Governor’s Decision suspending the activities of DWB, the Governor said, “The partnership between Doctors Without Borders (DWB, MSF) and Saint Maria Soledad Catholic Hospital Bamenda as well as similar partnerships with other health facilities in the Northwest Region are with effect from the date of signature of this Decision, suspended, pending definition of the framework of activities for Doctors Without Borders (DWB, MSF) by the Ministry of Health.”

Locals in the region, especially those displaced by war, and who now live under precarious conditions are the main beneficiaries of health services offered by DWB. This category of persons, are the region’s most vulnerable. The right to health has been denied, especially to those in distress situations who struggle to feed and can barely afford their needs, especially health needs which are expensive.

DWB often prioritises providence of its services to hard-to-reach communities, and with the current Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, many communities are without health facilities especially as many owners of private clinics were hunted down on accusations that they treat or sell medicaments to separatists too.

In 2020, DWB reported that it provided over 120,000 free medical consultations in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon – the two regions gripped by an over four war of secession. Unfortunately, with the Governor’s Decision, hundreds of thousands of patients in the Northwest who relied on this free health services can’t access it anymore, even though the armed conflict is rather deteriorating, leaving more people in need.  

The Governor said the organisation’s framework of activities are to be defined by the Ministry of Public Health, a process which has taken several months, with no sign that the organisation will be given the go-ahead, to continue to render services to the region’s most vulnerable, caught between an active war, and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

The World Health Organisation, to which Cameroon is a member, in its Constitution (1946) envisages “…the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.”

Speaking in relation to access to health in the Northwest region, the Director of the Bamenda regional Hospital, Dr Denis Nsame regretted that that the hospital keeps losing money because many patients can’t afford to pay their bills after treatment. This of course, is the category that because of the war situation and its effect on their livelihoods, previously depended on free services offered by organisations like DWB.

Dr Denis Nsame revealed that just in the first quarter of 2021, his hospital alone has lost FCFA Nine million, because many patients are unable to pay bills. The situation now puts the regional hospital, as well as other health facilities in financial distress.

On the part of the community, many who now do not have the option to receive free quality healthcare are now left with the option of either trying untested home remedies, taking a chance to be treated and held back by the hospital, or just hoping to get well someday. Many others who have seemingly lost hope, now resort to cuing up in churches that advertise miracle healings, as they hope for miracles to come their way.

One of the community leaders who recently took an initiative to address the situation, is the Mayor of Bamenda II Council, Peter Chenwi, who said his office has been flooded of recent by appeals for assistance to pay health bills. “The request for assistance from patients keep rising every day. That is why the Council decided to undertake this visit and see the situation of patients at the Bamenda regional hospital” the Mayor said. He reveals that so far, the council has paid FCFA one million, covering the hospital bills of 64 patients who could not leave the hospital because of unpaid bills. Amongst the beneficiaries were women who had put to birth, but could not pay their hospital bills.

A Community Health Worker, talking of the ban on DWB’s activities in the Northwest said, “Since the suspension, many children have died in my community, due to the lack of medication. People don’t have the money to go to the hospital. They keep asking me; when will they (DWB) come back” He recounts. Other community workers who served the community under DWB regret that the suspension has left them with no means to assist the people, who depend on such services.

“People keep calling me for help, but there is no means to help them anymore. They go back, and later on you hear that some of them died. It is terrible.” Another community health worker in the region regrets.

Though not mentioned publicly, government sources claim that DWB’s activities in the region are suspended due to allegations that it also treats wounded separatists, and actively supports them by transporting arms and ammunition. In a statement released On July 5, in relation to claims that the organisation was supporting separatist fighters, DWB said they “categorically reject the allegation of having provided support for separatist fighters in the Northwest.”

Heart warming moment between young beneficiary of health services from DWB and her father

“We affirm as an absolute that we have never facilitated the transport of arms, ammunition, or armed combatants, and have never provided logistical or financial support to any of the parties to the ongoing crisis”. It furthered.

Information from DWB’s data however show that just about five percent of its patients bring cases that are directly linked to violence. The statistics rather show that most of the patients are children with malaria, pregnant women, accidents, and sexual violence victims.

In a statement released recently after three weeks of meeting with government officials to end the suspension, DWB in a statement regretted that the suspension was not still lifted.

DWB’s Director General, Stephen Cornish, remarked that “While our visit to Cameroon was an opportunity to address key points, no agreement was unfortunately reached to immediately restart our lifesaving medical services in the Northwest region. This is disappointing, but we remain hopeful that the lifting of our suspension can be reached in the coming days. Discussions will go on as all stakeholders understand that our operations cannot remain on hold indefinitely. Every extra day of suspension is another day that we cannot assist the population in dire need of health care services. An agreement will undeniably change the situation for the better in the provision of essential care in the Northwest. We are confident that such agreement is still attainable and will allow us to provide essential medical services in Northwest just as we do elsewhere in the country.”

*Culled from July Issue of PAV Magazine

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Rhino Poaching Worsens in Africa
July 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

… gory images of crudely de-horned carcasses littered in most parts of the continent continue – a threat to biodiversity.

By Peter Kayula

A tranquilised rhino is dehorned by a researcher in Zimbabwe to make the animal less attractive to poachers.Photo credit BBC, WWF

Poaching has risen sharply in the recent years across Africa, fueled by rising demand in Asia for ivory and rhino horns, coveted as traditional medicine and a status symbol and acquisition and adaptation of advanced technologies in the fight against poachers is not yielding the desired results.

The international community, prominent leaders, the civil society and experts involved in the fight against rhino poaching have also continued to raise their views on the likely consequences of a situation where more than 35, 000 elements are killed across Africa annually for their tusks amid concerns that African governments are not doing enough to stem the crisis.

The heavy rains that fall, especially across Southern Africa from November to March annually, provide cover for many poaching syndicates that take advantage of full-moon nights to invade game areas as they navigate the clogged waterways.

On another hand, a demand for meat from wild terrestrial or semi-terrestrial animals, termed “bush meat”, a significant source of animal protein and a crucial component of food security and livelihoods in rural areas in many African countries, has also heightened.

In the Congo Basin, many communities derive tangible benefits from bush meat as a major source of livelihood and an estimated consumption across the basin range between one million tonnes and five million tonnes with annual harvest rates estimation ranging from 23 to 897 kg/km.  This dimension is arguably far worse in the Gabon and the Equatorial Guinea.

A practical experience in Cameroun’s capital Yaounde is alarming as an inventory done in 1995-96 of the four main markets estimated sales between 840 and 1,080 tonnes of bush meat per year, while estimate consumption in Bangui, the Central African Republic (CAR) capital, is 9,500 tonnes per year.

The trade in ivory starts mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, through the Central African Republic and South Sudan, using Ugandan as a transit point, this prompted Ugandan president Yoweri to call for a probe into the theft of ivory worth more than $1million in November 2014. He ordered an investigation into a reported possible collusion between the country’s wildlife agency and foreigners in the trafficking of ivory, according to updates from the news agency, AFP published in a local newspaper in June 2017.

Successful experience of the acquisition and adaptation of advanced technologies are limited to some countries. While it is hoped that they would change the landscape in the fight against rhino poachers, the incapacity of most countries in Africa to develop better biodiversity policies has in fact, prevented them from taking advantage of this privileged access to technology.

Uganda secured funding from the United Nations Development Programme (UNPD) to procure surveillance drones that it has been a central focus will man parts of its protected areas, which are not routinely patrolled by rangers, and camera traps that will help identify poachers and intruders at porous entrances to game parks. the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has announced, according to AFP.

The country started training a team of 28 digital forensic experts in April, eight of them from the UWA, to track online, illicit trade of wildlife and suspect communications.  Sadly, enough, a 2020 report on illicit financial flows in Africa revealed that Uganda loses between $7 billion and $23 billion per year because of illegal wildlife trade. Tourism is Uganda’s biggest foreign exchange earner at about $1.6 billion annually, according to AFP.

Poaching incidents around the country went up in March last year when the country went into a total lockdown over Covid-19 although authorities are yet to tell the extent of the loss but say the incidents have since drastically reduced.

In comparison to Uganda, up to 2014, Botswana was globally considered a “safe haven” for wildlife but unfortunately rhino poaching in the country is getting far worse, according to a local journalist Oscar Nkala.

The government of President Mokgweetsi Masisi–in power since 2018–acknowledges the seriousness of the crisis explaining that at the rate at which the black rhino population is depleting, the country ‘s iconic species would be out by the end of the year.

“At the rate at which the black rhino population is depleting, I’m afraid our iconic species will be out by the end of 2021. There is a serious problem with poaching in this country and this must be stopped,” said President Masisi, as quoted by Lifegate, a sustainable development outfit.

According to Oscar Nkala, by 2015, Botswana had imported over 100 rhinos from Zimbabwe and South Africa, mostly to Mombo, a high security sanctuary in the Moremi Game Reserve in the Okavango Delta. The facility, owned by Rhino Conservation Botswana (RCB), was chosen for its difficult terrain that can only be accessed by horse, boat or helicopter.

In a study entitled “Poaching as a security threat for Botswana and the region” published by the United States Naval Post Graduate School in September 2018, researcher, Kopano Baruti, attributed Botswana’s high vulnerability to poaching to weak law enforcement, long and porous borders and the existence of ungoverned spaces in its own territory neighbouring countries.

In Zambia, a parliament Conservation Causes praised the Government’s commitment towards wildlife conservation. The Zambian parliament Conservation Causes (ZPCC) vice-chairperson Anthony Kasandwe said the Government’s decision to launch blueprints on wildlife demonstrated its willingness to conserve the country’s wildlife, local newspaper reported.

The Times of Zambia article of April 22 2019, revealed that the country’s Tourism and Arts Minister Charles Banda launched the 2018 National Parks and Wildlife Policy, the 2019-2023 Strategic Rhino Conservation and Management Plan and the 2019-2023 National Conservation Action Plan for Cheetah and African Wild Dog for Zambia.

“I must admit on behalf of the Parliamentary Conservation Caucus that the political will from the Government is immeasurable in Connection with conservation,” Mr Kasendwe, a former Bangweulu Member of Parliament (MP) said.

He explained that protection of wild life depended on effective stakeholder collaboration, stressing that the objectives of the wildlife conservation and management initiatives would only be achieved through sustained engagements, the paper reported.

It is clear that the fight against rhino poaching in Africa may create losers and winners within individual countries, regions and between regions. Thus, tensions over the gory images of crudely de-horned carcasses should be expected to increase. Constructive responses should be responsibly planned-for in accordance with current national and regional objectives.

*Culled from July Issue of PAV Magazine

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The Covid-19 Vaccine Fiasco In Malawi
July 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Joseph Dumbula.

Health Secretary Charles Mwansambo.jpg.

It is 8 am in the morning in Blantyre, Malawi’s commercial capital, and one Jimmy Kondwani, has had to abscond work to look for the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which apparently, he just cannot find in hospitals, just like thousands of others.

The news now is clear that the vaccines are no longer in stock at all across hospitals.

As other nations across the world are grappling with the third wave of the Covid19 pandemic, Malawi is seeing a wave after another but of controversies to do with the pandemic.

Although the mainstay has been how decisions are made and how infamously money amounting to 6.2 billion kwacha was lost in management of the pandemic, now it is about the vaccines.

Thus far thousands of people have not yet been able to receive the second dose as the AstraZeneca doses run out in public hospitals.

A consignment of 900,000 doses the country was expected to be in Malawi at the end of May through the COVAX vaccine-sharing facility but that has not been the case.

However, authorities cited the delay on recent worsening of the pandemic in India, a major manufacturer of vaccines.

Initially, Malawi received its first consignment of 360,000 doses from the COVAX facility in March, followed by 102,000 doses from the African Union, and 50,000 doses from the Indian government.

But Kondwani tells Pan African Visions that ‘’ I feel deceived. What government is doing is to make a daylight lie to us. What does this mean for our health?’’

But, according to deccanherald.com, recent studies say pushing the gap further to 12 weeks for the AstraZeneca vaccine does not affect the efficacy. Another British study has said, a single dose of the vaccine can reduce the infection rate by 65 per cent. 

Now, solace is found in the fact that the World Bank approved $30 million in additional financing to support Malawi in the acquisition and deployment of safe, affordable and effective COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccines.   

The rollout is however yet to start.

‘’This is an additional financing for the existing Malawi’s COVID-19 Emergency Response and Health Systems Preparedness project bringing the World Bank contributions to the country’s health sector COVID-19 response and vaccination efforts to a total of $37 million.

The additional financing will mostly go towards the procurement and deployment of eligible COVID-19 vaccines to cover an estimated eight percent of the population by December 2023. The additional funds will accelerate the Government of Malawi’s ongoing efforts to deploy COVID-19 vaccines and strengthen the national systems for public health preparedness.’’ A statement from the World Bank reads.

This coincided with the torching of Vaccines, which is against the order that the WHO meted out to nations.

Malawi destroyed nearly 20,000 doses that had expired in April – partly because of vaccine hesitancy.  

Health Secretary Charles Mwansambo justified the decision saying authorities were forced to incinerate the doses to reassure Malawians that vaccines being used were effective.     

“The burning was of course regrettable, but we got those doses very late, they only had a very short shelf life. In fact, I am happy that we did that because we got back the confidence from the people.  That’s why we are seeing what we are seeing now.” He said.

 So, the debacle now, has to be solved as soon as possible, if the country is also to eliminate myths as Kondwani says ‘’What has happened is a recipe for more and more conspiracy theories  that are associated with the pandemic and the vaccine’’.

Currently, the Southern African nation has slightly above 2 thousand active infections, and thus far there have been over one thousand deaths with successfully recoveries at over 33 thousand.

Statistics of health also says the current positivity rates have been revolving at slightly below 15, %, a status Khumbize Chiponda, Malawi’s health minister says is a cause for worry but has bank on staunch preventive measures.

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Third COVID-19 wave takes a devastating toll on Namibia
July 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

…..as several national leaders fall to the virus

By Andreas Thomas

President Geingob on June 30 announced new restrictive measures meant to curb the wide community transmission of coronavirus

Windhoek- COVID-19 is currently out of control in Namibia, where the third wave of the virulent respiratory virus has been sweeping across the southern African nation. Since the beginning of June, Namibia has been experiencing a record-breaking spike in new coronavirus infections that has hospitalized many and lost their lives. In recent weeks, major hospitals around the country have been overwhelmed with the highest number of patients’ hospitalization in history. Hospital beds including intensive care units are full in both public and private hospitals across the country. Funeral homes were also struggling to keep up as more people succumb to coronavirus-related complications. The surge in cases was exerting tremendous pressure on the country’s fragile health infrastructures that have suffered years of neglect. The number of new infections per day has more than tripled, since the first week of June, from an average of 507 cases per day to an average of 1,798 cases per day. Over the last 15 days up to June 30, the country has recorded 513 deaths, which brought to a total of 1626 deaths as of July 4. These are devastating numbers for a country with a small population of fewer than three million people. As of June 29, Namibia ranked third in Africa after Gabon and South Africa, with a testing coverage of 207 people tested per 1,000 population. Authorities have indicated that the recent spike in COVID-19 cases might be driven by the more aggressive Delta variant that has been reported in neighbouring South Africa. However, local scientists were yet to confirm the existence of the new, deadly variant in Namibia. Experts are projecting that the rising incidence curve, during the third wave is expected to peak around mid-August. President Hage Geingob has since cautioned the nation that “The darkest hour of the night, comes just before day-break.  It is expected to get worse before it becomes better.  We must therefore do everything in our power to suppress the rate of transmission.  Only you and I can stop the further spread of this virus from ravaging our homes and communities.”

Oxygen supply

Major hospitals mostly in Windhoek have resorted to prioritizing severed cases of COVID-19 patients after the surge in new infections left them with a critical shortage of beds and oxygen supply. Health and Social Services Minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula has said steps have been taken to improve the supply of life-saving oxygen to health facilities. These include the installation of freestanding oxygen generating systems and bulk oxygen tanks and refillable portable oxygen cylinders at public hospitals. A 20-ton bulk oxygen tank has been installed to provide oxygen to the 76-bed respiratory unit at Katutura Intermediate Hospital in Windhoek, where COVID-19 patients are admitted. Shangula added that a 13-ton bulk oxygen tank was expected to be installed at Oshakati State Hospital. He noted that the existing bulk oxygen tanks at Tsumeb and Walvis Bay State Hospitals, with the capacity of 6.5 tons each will also be supplied to ensure adequate care. A new gas generating unit with a capacity of producing 370 litres of oxygen per minute has been installed at the Windhoek Central Hospital. It will supply the dedicated 15-bed COVID-19 intensive and high care units at the Windhoek Central Hospital.  “Government is also pursuing the option of procuring oxygen concentrators to be distributed to various public health facilities around the country as part of the intervention.    The concentrators can play a significant role in assisting patients in respiratory distress, but do not require high flow oxygen,” the minister said.

Restrictive measures

President Geingob on June 30 announced new restrictive measures meant to curb the wide community transmission of coronavirus. The 14-days restriction has banned travel between all the regions except essential service providers and emergency medical cases. This follows an earlier restriction of movement into and out of Windhoek, Okahandja, and Rehoboth that were deemed the epicentre of the third wave of the coronavirus. As part of the new measures, public gatherings have been limited to 10 persons, and a nationwide daily curfew between 21:00 to 04:00. Schools from pre-primary up to lower primary are on special winter holidays until July 26. Classes for grades 10, 11 and 12 have been suspended countrywide until July 16. The sale of alcohol is banned from Friday to Sunday while all food establishments are to serve food on a take-way basis only. “I have always reiterated that the health of Namibians remains the priority and a balance must therefore be found in protecting life and livelihoods.  While a full social and economic lockdown is proven to be effective in slowing transmission rates, it must be used sparingly, as it also spurs adverse effects to the economy, business jobs and livelihoods.  Under the current circumstances facing our country, this difficult step must be taken,” Geingob said when he announced the news measured in Windhoek.

Vaccination campaign

Vaccines remain an important weapon in Namibia’s fight against coronavirus. The country started with nationwide vaccination on April 19. So far, Namibia has received 197, 200 doses through COVAX, and donations from China and India. However, this stock is almost depleted with many regions having suspended the campaigns. The available doses will now be used to vaccinate those receiving the first dose as well as identified persons considered to be at the highest risk of severe disease, hospitalization and death, Shangula explained. The minister has also acknowledged the delay in the delivery of vaccines to the country. “We are working day and night engaging manufacturers and through diplomatic channels to get the vaccines soonest,” he said. Shangula noted that Namibia has paid up in full for 108 000 doses of Astra Zeneca via the COVAX facility of which 67 200 doses have been delivered. “We expect the balance of 40 800 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to reach our country during July 2021. We have also finalized orders for doses of Sinopharm, Astra Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines. We await delivery of these vaccines in the coming weeks and months,” Shangula said. Meanwhile, the minister arrayed public fears regarding the adverse effects of delaying the second dose due to the delayed arrival of vaccines. “According to guidance from the World Health Organisation, a delayed administration of the second dose of the vaccine will not have adverse effects on individuals.    The administration of the second dose may be delayed for up to six weeks,” he said.

Namibian President Hage Geingob inspects the COVID-19 isolation facility at Central Hospital in the capital Windhoek on June 3, 2020. Photo by Tirivangani Masawi,Xinhua

COVID-19 carnage

The marauding coronavirus pandemic is proving to be a sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of national leaders, who many have already succumbed to the virus. During the past month, several leaders lost their lives to COVID-19-related complications. The Paramount Chief of the OvaHerero Traditional Authority, Advocate Vekuii Rukoro (66) died few days after testing positive for coronavirus on 18 June in Windhoek. Rukoro has dedicated his life to the cause of justice for the Ovaherero people. He has been at the forefront calling for Germany to pay reparations for atrocities committed during the 1904-1908 genocide of Ovaherero and Nama people. Dr Zedekia Ngavirue (88) who led Namibia’s Negotiations on Genocide, Apology and Reparations with Germany also lost his life to coronavirus on 24 June. The pandemic has also robbed Namibia of Professor Mburumba Kerina (89) who gave the country its name from the former South West Africa. Kerina died in Windhoek on 14 June. He was one of the first Namibians to petition the United Nations calling for Namibia’s liberation from former South Africa’s Apartheid colonial region. Other prominent Namibians who succumbed to the virus in June include former environment minister Willem Konjore (76); former justice minister Dr Ngarikutuke Tjiriange (77); former chiefs of Namibian Defence Force, retired Lieutenant General John Mutwa (61) and retired Lieutenant General Lucas Hangula who was also the director-general of the Namibia Central Intelligence Services. “Unfortunately, as in any war, many lives have been lost.  I, therefore, offer my sincere condolences to the Namibian nation and specifically to the families of those who have lost their lives due to COVID-19,” said President Geingob who also took a moment “to pay tribute to towering national leaders who have lost their lives to COVID-19.”President Geingob and First Lady Monica Geingos are among the leaders who recovered from coronavirus. “Having recovered from COVID-19 myself, I am fully aware of the importance of being vaccinated against the disease,” said Geingob who is yet to get vaccinated.  

*Culled from July Issue of PAV Magazine

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Optimism As Rwanda Get Closer To Having Health Posts In All Its Cells.
July 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

One of the health posts in Rwanda. Citizens have a chance to get health care services from neaby thanks to the facilities. Photo Society for Health Family (SFH)

Emmeline Uwimana used to trek more than 7 kilometers whenever she sought health services either for herself or for her children.

“I was born here and grew up here, my parents used to take me to the hospital whenever I felt sick and it was hard because the nearest hospital was in about seven kilometers,” says Uwimana, now a mother of three.

The resident of Musha sector in Rwamagana district, Eastern Province says, it was always hard for her and other citizens to get medical services.

“Sometimes you felt sick but you could not get to the hospital because you were scared of the long-distance,” she says. “We ended up using traditional herbs or illegal medicine as a resort,” she adds.

However, Uwimana’s worries are no more. The government has constructed a health post nearby her home where she gets health care services without trekking longer distances.

“Now we can get treatment for some diseases here, we only go to the hospital whenever referred to that hospital,” she adds.

Uwimana says she also received antenatal care services for her new born baby from the health facility.

“I got antenatal health services from the health post and just went to the hospital when it was time to give birth,” she said.

The health post, she says helps the local community to get basic services and patients are not finding it hard to get treatment.

“Now more people are treated unlike previously when it was hard, we used to depend on buying medicine to pharmacies while others opted for herbs,” she added.

The health post-Uwimana get services from is one of the hundreds facilities set up by the government in a bid to avail health facilities to citizens.

According to the ministry of health, the plan is to have each health post in all the cells across the country.

A cell is the second small entity in local government administration and the country has 2140 cells.According to the minister of health Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the country nears having at least one health post in every cell of the country.

“In the whole country, cells that don’t have a health post are not many. Currently, the number of cells that don’t have these services don’t exceed 50.”

“What we want to do now is putting more effort in making sure those that don’t have such services will get them. For those that already have these facilities, we want to ensure that they provide a full package of primary healthcare services,” he added.

The health posts, which are just below health centres, are expected to deliver basic medical services, including non-complicated births and other primary healthcare services.

In its Strategic Plan unveiled in 2018, the ministry said it wanted to put focus on having at least a health post in every cell by 2024, in order to improve citizens’ access to health services.

 “We always have more citizens who access treatment from health posts. It is clear that there is a need for us to remember the lives of children, parents, and all people in general so that we bring near them primary healthcare services,” he said.

Ngamije said that the government got support from partners such as S.C Johnson Inc, an American multinational company that manufactures household cleaning supplies and other consumer chemicals.

SC Johnson has been an important partner in the ministry of health’s efforts to improve and equipping of health posts, in a bid to advance universal health coverage.

With collaboration from SC Johnson, a total of 64 health posts have been constructed and equipped, of which 10 are of the second generation (offering maternity services and dental and ophthalmology services).

Rwandans have access to affordable health care services, thanks to the community-based health insurance (Mutuelle de Santé) where every household subscribes to it and gets medical services from all the health facilities. 

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Professor Nkandu Luo On Way To Becoming Zambia’s First Woman President?
July 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Peter Kayula

Professor Nkandu Luo is a trusted democrat with a proven record of being fiscally modest .Photo credit FB

Zambia’s Patriotic Front (PF) Party owes a measure of its inspiration to the presence a female microbiology professor as a potent force in the Southern African country’s politics. It is important therefore to explore her political life, works and the historical strain of an influential voice in President Edgar Chagwa Lungu’s presidential campaign and subsequently his running mate.

The former lawyer who leads the race, President Lungu early last month officially announced the appointment of Professor Nkandu  Luo as his running  mate in the 2021  crucial presidential elections just weeks away, opening  up an unexpected debate about the professor’s possible future  role as the second woman vice-president of Zambia.

A trusted democrat with a proven record of being fiscally modest and (she) believes in freedom to prosper, she turned out to be the most experienced Cabinet minister, President Lungu has ever had, diminishing reported contenders to the vice-presidency such as opposition party leader, Edith Nawakwi, former Lands Minister, Jean Kapata and former First Lady and wife of the late Zambian president Michael Chilufya Sata.  

Nkandu Luo, is arguably among the few ministers in President Lungu’s administration who has never been summoned by the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC).

While her reputation has at one time faced heady days over her decision to withdraw meal allowances for  the students at the two  Government Universities, the University of Zambia and the Copperbelt  University (which is believed to  have been  a Cabinet decision), she is still well liked by  many Zambians and nearly  universally known.

Her backing for President Lungu could help insulate him against any unexpected  governance deficiencies allegations. At the least, she could add more crowd-drawing power to a Lungu campaign, having occupied various ministerial positions such as in the former president and late Fredrick Chiluba’s administration, the late President Levy Patrick Mwanawasa administration, former President Rupiah Banda administration and late President Michael Sata and President Lungu administrations.

Professor Nkandu Luo did not immediately respond to requests for an interview. She has previously been difficult to engage in any form of Press interview suggestion she is too involved in the campaign activities.

Born in Chinsali in 1951 Professor Nkandu Luo attended Roma Girls Secondary School and the Dominican Convent. She later attended the Moscow State University in Russia graduating with a Master of Science in Microbiology and later on obtained another Master of Science degree and a PhD in Immunology from Brunei University.

She was elected to Parliament representing the Movement for Multi-party Democracy (MMD) in the Mandevu Constituency in 1996. She served as Deputy Minister of Health from 1997 to 1999 and Health Minister in 1999 but lost her seat in the 2001 elections.

Professor Luo was elected as the Patriotic Front the representative for Munali  Constituency in 2011. She was appointed as Minister of Local Government and Housing by then President Michael Sata, serving from 2011 to 2014, and then became Minister of Chiefs and Traditional Affairs from 2014 to 2015.

She was sworn in as Minister of Gender by President Edgar Lungu in February 2015.  In March 2016, Luo was adopted as President of the Women Parliamentary caucus at the 134th Inter-Parliamentary Union Conference in Lusaka. In September 2016, she became Zambia’s Higher Education Minister and later Minister of Fisheries and Livestock, the position she held until President Lungu dissolved Parliament early this year.

It is believed that Professor Nkandu Luo ‘s personality has been an active factor  in the  shaping of the Patriotic Front Party’s political character. Highly intelligent, proud and acutely sensitive about her status and rank, she responds mildly  to most expressed criticism about her and accompanying these traits are considerable reserves of personal charm, including an infallible memory for people with aspirations for higher education in life, that has won her a devoted following.

In February 2018, a society of local researchers, the Zambia Association of Junior Researchers (ZAJR) made her the woman of the year, praising her as an eloquent lieutenant for the country’s scholars and researchers.

This followed her favourable response when the association sought her services as a matron of the researchers’ body. Despite her busy schedule, Professor Nkandu Luo responded in a letter dated February 5, 2018:

“I am pleased to inform you that I have accepted to be your Matron to help you realize the vision of your society with the will to help Zambia combat poverty through the promotion of innovative research projects of entrepreneurial nature.’’

The researchers group is composed of university academicians with a novel task to support and encourage the development of high quality research in every field of study that has a bias towards the eradication of poverty in Zambia in particular and Africa in general.

Accompanying Nkandu Luo‘s faith in the progressive character of the country’s educational sector has arguably been well demonstrated in her display of mass sentiments about research.

If one was to ask her how it felt to be a country-trotting minister in a country where the clamor for accountability and honesty in public offices are high … I am sure she would just frown and frown about it.

However, this is probably the time to put up a strong case for a woman likely to go down in history as the person who has rattled, busy as she is, all corners more than any other figure in Zambia, exposing the growing issues and the contributing a political revolutionary that fights for an equal society for all, and who is slowly rising from a former minister to a potential president of Zambia and arguably an international global leader.

To some, it is perhaps surprising that Professor Nkandu Luo, has spent several years in her role of thinking and building a feminism that struggles against inequality poverty, poor governance and ignorance, among other vices of the society.

President Lungu in a chat with his running mate Prof Nkandu Luo. Many see in her a smart choice for his second term.

 Chris Hayes, newly appointed director of the All Africa Alliance, a governance non-governmental Organization (NGO) in East Africa, has described her as ‘’Africa’s most upcoming revolutionary who is going to inspire hope for better service delivery in millions of citizens in the country.

With the crucial Zambia elections just a few weeks away – the 18th time elections since independence in 1964 – the stakes for the ruling Patriotic Front Party are higher than ever.

For now, or later, Professor Nkandu Luo has to get ready to pay much attention to a number of biographies expected to be published soon of her as one of Africa ‘s topmost ‘’extraordinary women’’ and as always is the case, she may still have to go up to disapprove some of the opinion to be written about her.

**Culled from July Issue of PAV Magazine

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