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New report on the status of renewable energy in Africa shows that more ambition can help towards a just recovery from COVID-19
July 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

Johannesburg, South Africa – A new report released today shows that Africa is slowly planning a renewable energy powered future. Climate justice activist organisations and WoMin African Alliance commissioned the research for Renewable Energy in Africa: An opportunity in a time of crisis before the COVID-19 health pandemic swept across the globe, to map out Africa’s ambition towards dealing with the continent’s other crisis – its energy crisis. COVID-19 is exacerbating existing developmental issues like access to energy, bringing to attention the need to develop renewable energy as part of a just recovery from the pandemic.  

With the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 impacting lives and livelihoods, governments are searching for solutions. While some countries have made commitments to increasing their energy coming from renewable sources, there is abundant potential for more to be done. This will not only support decentralised, homegrown development, but will also assist communities across the continent to counter the impacts of the virus and future shocks. Importantly, for renewable energy to be a success in Africa, the rights and collective decisions of local communities have to be taken into consideration. 

The report shows that by 2030 renewable energy installations are projected to go up to over 77GW. This is a massive increase from the less than 15GW currently operating. However, by 2030 coal will still have a 43% share of installed energy capacity in Africa. The uptake of renewable energy technologies in the form of geothermal, solar, ocean wave, wind and small hydro, thus falls far short of that of fossil fuels, including diesel and fossil gas installations. In the context of the global climate, ecological and health crises, more ambitious plans are needed from African governments to leapfrog dirty energy and secure people’s access to clean energy.

The report, which maps renewable energy projects across ten African countries (Botswana, DRC, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa and Uganda), shows that where issues have been encountered with renewable energy, they are largely due to the implementation of the projects. The hugely detrimental impacts of the operation of fossil fuel plants to people and the environment are absent. However, the problems in implementation of large renewable energy projects can mirror those of fossil fuel projects. The report therefore highlights the importance of community participation and consent in the planning of the project, agreement on community benefits including having access and right to the energy produced and the opportunity and ability of the community to own all or part of the project.

On the sidelines of the launch, Landry Ninteretse, the Regional Team Lead for said:

“Renewable energy is already well suited to Africa. Many people live out of reach of centralised grids, however in a continent rich in wind, hydro and solar resources, they should be easily deployed to meet the needs of these unserved and underserved populations.”

Trusha Reddy, Head of WoMin’s Energy and Climate Justice Programme added:

“Where renewable energy projects are sited and constructed, it should be done in a way that reduces negative impacts. In constructing renewable energy, we need to be sensitive to the ecological and community impacts – particularly those of women, and to ensure the benefits are shared equitably. We also need to be wary of blindly following an industrial model of renewable energy development which involves massive destructive mining of minerals for components. Different models should be explored.”

Globally, there has been a significant push to move to renewable energy, as it has the potential of not only transforming the lives of millions but is kinder to the planet. However, in order for renewable energy to be truly transformative it needs to reach the energy and economically poor; the move to 100% clean energy should avoid the old models of energy generation that have denied people access to energy and have resulted in land grabs, environmental destruction, pollution and above all the fueling of climate change. 

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As South Sudan Turns Nine, Bloodshed Persist
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Enthusiastic South Sudanese surrounding the statue of its historic leader John country Garang. The promise of independence has not lived up to expectations
Enthusiastic South Sudanese surrounding the statue of its historic leader John country Garang. The promise of independence has not lived up to expectations

Juba – On Thursday, South Sudan celebrated its ninth year of independence. The   promise from that historic moment when the country became the world’s youngest nation has since fizzled leaving behind a painful trail of anguish  from a bloody civil war that has dogged the country since 2013.

Many inhabitants of its southern region and other peripheral areas were frustrated with what they described as lack of autonomy, marginalization, oppression and neglect from the central government, while Khartoum regime was either unable or unwilling to resolve these long-standing issues peacefully.

This resulted to Southerners’ rebellion in a 1983, lasted for two decades, following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, 2005 in Naivasha – Kenya.

However, the people of Southern voted overwhelmingly for secession in a 2011 referendum.

On the 9th of July 2011, South Sudan gained independence from Sudan after the decades of earth – scorched civil war as the outcome of a 2005 agreement to end Africa’s longest civil war, during which 2.5 million people were killed and 4 million displaced.

At the time, the US –backed secession was hailed as a way forward to peace and stability but it did not end the plight of the South Sudanese.

Nine years on, conflict is still a fact of life in many parts of the country, as the previous fighting between Khartoum and Juba gave way to infighting among the South Sudanese.

Civil war broke out in 2013, when President Salva Kiir fell out with his vice president Dr. Riek Machar, who accused of staging a coup.

The two leaders represent South Sudan’s two largest ethnic groups. Their [Kiir and Machar] provoked a largely ethnic conflict that killed up to 380,000 people and uprooted 4 million people from their homes over five years.

Although a peace deal was signed in August 2018 between president Kiir and ex – rebel leader, SPLM-IO Dr. Machar, ceasefire was partial held but bloodshed and instability persist plus stalling of the peace process.

The UN Mission in South Sudan allegedly recorded 415 violent incidents in the first five months of 2020 alone.

Armed conflict continues between the government and non-signatories to the peace agreement in some areas, while in others, inter-communal violence fueled by competition over resources, easy access to arms and weak rule of law is on the rise.

President Salva Kiir, in his keynote speech for ninth anniversary, said this year, public’s celebration has been affected by the COVID – 19 pandemic outbreaks in the worldwide.

President said the permanent ceasefire is largely holding while interrupted by coronavirus and inter – communal violence across the country.

“Unfortunately, our success in ending political violence is now threatened by a different sort of violence; inter – communal conflict that is ragging in different parts of our country,” said president Kiir. “As the government, we will not allow this new threat to reverse our gains. We shall pursue a multi-layered approach to resolve this problem once and for all.”

Kiir said his government in due days will initiate inter and intra – communal dialogue so that they can address the root causes of this fighting both between and within the communities.

South Sudan's President Salva Kiir Mayardit shakes hands with ex-vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar during their meeting in Juba, South Sudan October 19, 2019. (Reuters)
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit shakes hands with ex-vice president and former rebel leader Riek Machar during their meeting in Juba, South Sudan October 19, 2019. (Reuters)

“Alongside this process, we shall launch a full – scale disarmament of the civil population, an exercise which is already underway in some parts of the country,” said Kiir.

Despite what have achieved in terms of implementing the revitalized peace deal, Kiir admitted that he is acutely aware that the peace implementation remains painfully slow and far below people’s expectations.

“We must therefore collectively act in a decisive fashion to pick up the pace in resolving sticky issues in the implementation of the agreement,” said Kiir.

President Kiir further calls upon the parties to the peace deal to sort out impasses matters through amicable political understanding.

“It is also critical that we, the parties to the agreement desist from adopting uncompromising positions in the hope that the mediation will eventually back them. We must move away from such attitudes because the peace we seek to consolidate is our own peace as South Sudanese – it is only us who stand to benefit or lose in its success or failure,” Kiir said. Our regional partners and the international community are only there to lend support, but they will never prescribe solutions to our problems. Therefore we must find ourselves through meaningful and genuine dialogue geared towards finding practical solutions rather than scoring political points or maneuvering for future political advantage,” he added.

Hopes of a peaceful

Despite fears of an uncertain future, citizens of South Sudan, who spokes to this media, cling to the hopes of a peaceful South Sudan.

David Wol, Juba resident, is maintaining up hopes along his country’s road to lasting peace through small step.

Violence come and go, so we still hope for peaceful country, said Martha John, Juba resident.

I believe that this country will soon get back to its feet despite these uncertain matters,” Wol said.

The observers need the peace government or parties to come together in unity and peace to respond to this new threat to the country, especially inter – communal violence.

The UN mission in South Sudan said the South Sudanese leaders should reflects the reasons they waged longest wars to be free and then collaborate to settle unresolved matters to achieve vibrant nation.

“It was a proud moment for the people who fought so hard for the right to determine their own future,” said UNMISS in the press statement, today. However, there is still much work that needs to be done to end the outbreaks of violence and to ensure that we have a truly unified government that makes collaborative decisions in the best interests of its citizens,” added in its part.  

President concluded by saying “let us all work tirelessly irrespectively of our political leanings to restore trust among ourselves and to amend the social fabric that was torn apart by war we are now putting behind us. Let us all desist from unnecessary propaganda and instead work together as South Sudanese to put our country permanently on the path of peace.”

South Sudan’s rival leaders officially started the process of forming a transitional coalition government in late February after it was postponed twice, but the security arrangements remained so challenges, which remains trigger violence.

Secession was hailed as the path to peace, freedom but it has been blighted by violence and corruption in the landlocked country.

Moreover, the citizens and analysts believe the current leaders have betrayed the ideals that they fought for, including the vision of the late Dr. John Garang. South Sudanese leaders are yet to move the country towards sustained peace and development.

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Nigerians in Indonesia appeal for Chidoka’s intervention, accuse Embassy of abandonment
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Emma Okafor

Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka

Following alleged extortion and discrimination targeted at citizens, Nigerians in Indonesia have appealed to the former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka to intervene in issues affecting them in the country.

The immigrants had accused the country’s immigration and police officers of targeted raids and harassment, which they said led to the deaths of some of their compatriots, the last being the case of a 41-year-old Nigerian man who fell from a nine-storey building while attempting to escape from immigration officers.

The development led to a violent protest and destruction of properties at the Nigerian Consulate in Jakarta by angry Nigerians who equally accused the Embassy of doing nothing while its citizens were being targeted, harassed and sometimes killed.

In an online television programme, Citizens Forum hosted by Joi John, on Tuesday, Chidoka interacted with the immigrants who called to pour out their hearts during the phone-in programme.

The former minister who frowned at the development after listening to them, however pledged to assist those who wish to return to the country, but said it is of utmost importance to rebuild trust between the Nigerian Embassy and Nigerians in the country.

Chidoka said: “We will see how we can rebuild trust between the Nigerian Embassy and Nigerians living in Indonesia, because we need to get the Embassy on the same page, going forward. 

“Do not lose hope, I am a supporter of immigration, we must find legal methods of immigration, we must promote actively our 200 million populations. We must promote actively for the world to lower the bars, allowing freedom of movement, so long as there is freedom of movement of goods. Otherwise, if you can’t move freely, then goods should not be moving freely too. There should be freedom of immigration, so that each country can be a good production area,” he said.

Chidoka however called for calm, advising the visibly angry immigrants to calm down and shun violence, while promising to engage the Nigerian and Indonesian government with a view to finding a lasting solution.

“Stay away from violence, and calm down from attacking the embassy and its officials, I believe that at the end of the day, we are going to find a way to give succor to Nigerians in Indonesia. I can see that the preponderance of the people here are Igbo young men. Just be ready, and I will make sure that I speak out strongly to ensure that the government does something to let those who want to go home go, and also engage the Indonesian government to respect Nigerians there, otherwise we request the Nigerian Government to retaliate against Indonesians who are working in Nigeria, if Indonesians do not follow basic human rights.

“Extorting Nigerians at the entry to Indonesia is wrong, entering people’s houses without warrants is wrong, not respecting human rights is against everything that is noble in human beings. Also the world has come to a point where migrants and itinerant workers have rights, and you must respect those rights.

The former Corps Marshal of the FRSC said he looks forward to getting back to them soon with some specific news on how to move forward.

The CEO of Peace Airlines, Chief Allen Onyema made a surprise appearance in the programme, when he obliged to an invitation by Chidoka to appear in the programme and make contributions towards evacuation of citizens.

Onyema who praised and thanked Chidoka for his intervention in the matter, equally condemned the violent nature of the protest by the angry Nigerians. He said “The images we saw are not something to be proud of. That particular act is wrong, and those who did it should apologize to the government of Nigeria.”

He however added: “When we receive information from the government to evacuate citizens, we will surely send our planes down.”

Earlier in the programme, contributors who mainly called in from Indonesia cried out over what they described as serious maltreatment of citizens by Immigration and Police authorities in the country.

Over 20 callers, out of the numerous who made attempts to speak were able to air their views about how much maltreatment they receive from the authorities in Indonesia on a daily basis. They also narrated tales of woe, where the Indonesian authorities who they accused of being heavily corrupt, took away their hard-earned money and beat them like animals. Some equally gave testimonies of how these authorities would raid their homes, tie them up like animals and steal their valuables, on a regular basis.

Some of them also blamed the Nigerian Embassy in the country for not standing up to assist them in times of challenges, and even called for the sack of the Nigerian ambassador to Indonesia, whom they said is useless since he and the entire consulate have not lived up to expectations.

They complained of rising lack of employment opportunities, and appealed to Chidoka to use his connections to help them leave the country back to Nigeria.

One of the contributors who identified himself as Emeka said: “They arrested me and took N780,000 (30 million rupia) from me. They took my wallet and all the money inside, took my watch, rings, best shoes, national ID card, they will come to raid our apartment, and tie us like goats. Then put us in their vehicle.

“Then they will come back and search our rooms and ransack our belongings, take them and never return them. I came to Indonesia with a business visa. They will take that money and never issue you a receipt. They will also steal your belongings, and ask you to move to another apartment. They don’t treat other African nationals like this, only Nigerians.

Another caller said “So many Nigerians are trapped here. Their passports are expired, and when they catch you, they will not allow you to return to Nigeria. If they arrest you and you tell them, there is no money, they will tell you to tell, your people in Nigeria to sell land and send money so they can bail you. It’s that bad. They use electric shock on us too.

“When our passports expire, and due to be renewed at the Nigerian Embassy, the Embassy denies knowing us, that we are criminals. They will tell you to go back to Nigeria to renew your passport. The Nigerian embassy will also demand for bribe from us.

“So many Nigerians have died in detention camps here because they keep getting beaten until they die. The others are also jumping down from skyscrapers, jumping to their death.”

Another, who identified himself as Kamara expressed himself in anger. He said: “I had my valid papers, and even a return ticket to Nigeria and they caught me last year. They beat the hell out of me, and I paid money to be bailed that night. The problem is that even with your paper, they don’t care. You must pay. Your paper expires every two months, 

“They have also banned us from going to Malaysia to renew our papers.

Our embassy knows what is going on, and with your papers you are not free. Once they invade your house, they make away with anything that belongs to you.”

A caller, Davidson, disclosed that the man who jumped down from a nine storey building and died never intended to jump down, but that when the immigration came, they banged on the door with excessive force and they were all afraid. So he wanted to jump into his neighbor’s balcony but didn’t make it.

“When he fell, the police cordoned off the area, and he was not dead then. He was alive for three hours, but there was no assistance. They didn’t want us to help. They claimed to have called an ambulance but no ambulance was coming. I brought my own car for emergency, but they blocked us. The Asian women began to shout. They said they have oxygen but no one to operate it.

Adding “Can you imagine that someone at the Nigerian Embassy said that the man who died didn’t have a valid visa, and that the immigration didn’t tell him to jump. That’s what our Embassy said to us, and said that there was nothing they can do. That was the day I lost all confidence in our Embassy. They even said that if we want to pursue the case, that it’s not the business of the Embassy, that it is a personal issue of Nigerians living in the country.”

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Mozambique:Nyusi Calls For Exemplary Punishment For Cabo Delgado Terrorists
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos

President Felipe Nyusi
President Felipe Nyusi

Insurgents who are put on trial should receive “swift and exemplary punishment,” President Filipe Nyusi said during the inauguration of Henriques Carlos Xavier Cossa as a supreme court judge on Wednesday.

“We have to continue to fight violence together, enforcing criminal responsibility for terrorists who are neutralised and sent to court. Our expectation is that in holding responsible those who carry out such acts, the judiciary must be swift and exemplary in their actions, so that a feeling of impunity does not prevail”, the president said, with criminals receiving “exemplary punishment”. Cossa has been a judge since 1992, and until his appointment was president of the Judicial Court of the City of Maputo.

Noting that Mozambique is looking for foreign military support, Islamic State’s al-Naba’ newsletter  warned South Africa that if it intervened, this “may result in pushing the soldiers of the Islamic State to open a fighting front inside its borders.” And it adds “If the Crusaders reckon that their support for the disbelieving government in Mozambique will protect their investments and guarantee the continuation of their plunder of the resources of the region, they are deluded,” and the “soldiers of the Caliphate” will push them out of the gas fields.

Whatever, an MP for South African opposition party the DA said in parliament yesterday that soldiers from SA’s Maritime Reaction Squadron and Special Forces are deployed in Mozambique. DA MP Kobus Marais told the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans: “As we stand, we know we have soldiers in Mozambique,” and asked about the budget for the Maritime Reaction Squadron and Special Forces. The question went unanswered.

“Technically speaking, any deployment of SANDF troops must be made public via a letter to Parliament that details size, deployment time, and estimated cost. But that is incompatible with clandestine Special Forces operations,” Darren Olivier, editor of South African publication African Defence Review, said on Twitter. The maritime reaction squadron deployment could have taken place under Operation Copper, an existing joint operation involving South Africa in defending Mozambique’s coastline; but the special forces deployment “may be technically illegal if it is taking place.” On the other hand, “revealing a clandestine SF reconnaissance or advise & assist mission isn’t ideal either,” Olivier said.

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As Covid-19 Overstays, Fao And Partners Donate Ppe To The Government Of Sierra Leone
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Uzman Bah

According to FAO Country Representative, Nyabenyi Tipo, the donation is a gesture to show the organization's commitment to helping Sierra Leone in the fight against COVID-19; she said, "we know these are difficult times, we should, therefore, stick together and support one another."
According to FAO Country Representative, Nyabenyi Tipo, the donation is a gesture to show the organization’s commitment to helping Sierra Leone in the fight against COVID-19; she said, “we know these are difficult times, we should, therefore, stick together and support one another.”

The Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has donated an assortment of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the governments of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation.  The FAO Country Rep, together with the US ambassador to Sierra Leone made this donation at the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) in Freetown.

The FAO with support from the government of the United States of America has refurbished a central veterinary lab in Teko, Makeni; supported the ministry of Agriculture and Forestry in creating an epi-unit in the livestock division, and sustained a unit of field personnel that monitor livestock diseases.

The COVID-19 outbreak serves as a reminder of other diseases that emanates from animals and transfer to humans, therefore the outbreak should reinforce the need for working collaboratively on the human and animal health systems.
The COVID-19 outbreak serves as a reminder of other diseases that emanates from animals and transfer to humans, therefore the outbreak should reinforce the need for working collaboratively on the human and animal health systems.

“FAO representation in Sierra Leone in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is implementing programmes aimed at strengthening government capacity to address priority zoonotic diseases using the one health approach,” Tipo said.

The ambassador of the United States of America, Maria Brewer said, the US government has established partnerships with global organizations, such as the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations to reinforce animal health capacity to detect and respond to livestock and zoonotic diseases with precision.

 “As part of our assistance to Sierra Leone, the U.S Government and FAO are please to shift an in-country stock of personal protective equipment, such as masks, gloves, face shields, and coveralls, to assist the ministry of health and sanitation with these much-needed supplies.” Ambassador Brewer said.

The COVID-19 outbreak in Sierra Leone has stretched the country’s health system and the safety of the health care workers is fundamental to helping curb the COVID-19 pandemic; unquestionable these donations will go a long way in supporting the fight against COVID-19. 

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Sierra Leone : Rainbow Initiative Calls On Government To Invest In Forensic Lab To Increase Convictions On Sexual Assault Cases
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Deputy Executive Director ,Gibril Kargbo speaking yesterday at Civil service Training College , Tower Hill , Freetown
Deputy Executive Director ,Gibril Kargbo speaking yesterday at Civil service Training College , Tower Hill , Freetown

Deputy Executive Director of Rainbow Initiative in Sierra Leone , Gibril Kargbo has called on the government and its development partners to invest in forensic lab in order to  increase conviction on sexual assault cases in the country.

Gibril Kargbo made the  statement  today during the People’s Alliance for Reproductive Health Advocacy (PARHA) Press briefing on the need towards law reform for the protection and promotion of sexual Reproductive Health and Rights in Sierra Leone at the Civil Service Training College , on Tower Hill in Freetown.

“However, we want to encourage government to increase its support to the institutions that are in the middle of the fight against  SGBV’s in Sierra Leone , specifically we want to encourage government and its development partners to invest in the forensic  lab that can provide stronger evidence to support conviction,’’ he said.

He added that there has been an increasing effort of both past and present government in the  empowerment  women and girls  in the country stating that this is evident in the enactment of couple of laws  like the child Rights Act 2007, the sexual Offences Act 2012  among others.

 “Today we stand with our friends and colleagues to explore and fight a common enemy that is slowly destroying our country. Rape is not only a health problem  for women and girls , it has psychological effect  on them. In 2019, we recorded 3,701 sexual assault cases with 598 pregnancies, 4 HIV positives , and 255 successful prosecution. Between January and May 2020, Rainbow Initiatives have recorded a total of 1,272 sexual assault cases in just five districts with a total of 217 pregnancies and 932 STI that can be directly related ,’’Kargbo lamented.

Kargbo revealed that  in May this year ,  they  treated a three-month old baby stating that as he is speaking they are also treating , a 9-year-old baby in their  clinic after a brutal rape. 

“We have started reporting cases of boys that are been  rape. Ladies and gentlemen its high time we set up a forensic lab so as to increase conviction and expose perpetrators . Let us all step up our efforts to support the survivors and re- integrate them into our communities,’’ the Rainbow deputy boss said.

The Rainbow  deputy Director  called  on everyone to break the silence an speak out and report cases thus  called on religious leaders to join them in the fight by  including prevention and awareness raising messages in their sermons in churches and mosques.

“Please let me say  that women and girls are at the centre to the country’s development and they deserved to be protected from all forms of violence . Rainbow Initiatives therefore remains committed to this fight,’’ the  Rainbow deputy director emphasized.

Speaking on the Legal challenges of Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights , including justice for survivor of sexual assault in Sierra Leone, President of Legal Access through  Women Yearning for Equality Rights and social justice (LAWYERS ), Lawyer Fatmata Sorie said Sierra Leone is a signatory to many international treaties and conventions notably the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) including the Maputo protocols thus the need for the country to uphold its obligation in making sexual and Reproductive Health a rights in Sierra Leone.

“Despite its obligations under international law, as a country , we have failed to put the structures in place to domesticate the Maputo Protocol and other treaties. Regardless of our signing of these treaties , we currently maintained very , very , restrictive and I will also add punitive measures as well as laws  that is  limiting every women’s right to choose on sexual and Reproductive Health ,’’she revealed.

She added that, over the years efforts have been made to change the status quo thus referencing in 2015 , that  there was a mere miss of achieving law reform of sexual reproductive rights in the country with the safe Abortion Bill.

“Why did we miss this opportunity ? this was a result of the massive opposition which appeared from all sects predominantly the religious sector. There was insufficient engagement of the relevance of the bill . The name of the bill itself was a problem . I will not  want to proffer  those things today but that I will tell you there  is obligation on the state to pass that bill,’’ Lawyer Sorie said , adding that with the alarming rate of SGBV’s and sexual Assault cases in the country there is need for a safe motherhood bill.

Executive Director CARL, Ibrahim Tommy , speaking on the PARHA /CARL -SL Amplify Change grant said the one of  key things  as part of the project is make sure that they advocate for the backward and outdated laws like the 1861 Offences Against the Persons’ Act that criminalises abortion and sexual reproductive rights for women and girls in the country.

“We believe that in this day and age ,that it shouldn’t be the case , so , this grant will make sure that, it will create a  safe and secure space  for women and girls in the country to have rights on their sexual reproductive health as there are many players in the coalition including Marie Stopes Sierra Leone,’’ he said

He said the coalition has a nation- wide membership of over 50 CSO’s inclusive of grassroots advocacy groups , professional bodies, Faith based Organisation , Trade unions , and Individuals in the country.

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South Sudan Central Bank To Buy Crude Gold From Miners In Bid To Raise Revenue
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Central Bank Governor Jamal Abdalla Wani
Central Bank Governor Jamal Abdalla Wani

Juba – The Bank of South Sudan has announced plans to buy crude gold from local miners in a bid to boost the country’s economy after six years of conflict.

Central Bank Governor Jamal Abdalla Wani told reporters in Juba on Tuesday that the government has approved $4 million, to build its mineral stockpile.

 “The president never disappointed us, he requested the money to be released from the ministry of finance,” Juma Abdallah Wani told SSBC on Tuesday.

Wani also revealed that the board of the bank also approved an additional $1.5 million to acquire crude gold.

The gold, according to the bank’s boss, will be acquired from local miners in the country. It shall then be refined and stored within the bank.

“With that crude gold, if we have enough of it, then we can go to the next step of refining it. That means we have to get pure gold with us in the bank,” said Wani.

Eastern Equatoria is one of the regions in the country that contains some of the most important and best-known sites for artisanal and small-scale gold mining.

However, the 2012 Mining Act criminalizes black market gold sales but despite this legal framework, South Sudan’s gold remains ungoverned and poorly regulated.

Wani says the gold will be bought from local miners. “We need to attract them so that we can buy more gold,” he said.  

The central bank governor further said the institution’s plan came after prices of crude oil in the international market dropped, besides the negative impact of the novel coronavirus.

South Sudan is currently produces about 175,000 barrels per day, 40 percent of which goes to cover operating costs, and partners such as China’s CNPC and Malaysia’s Petronas take 20 percent of it.

Income from crude oil accounts for 98 percent of South Sudan’s budget.

Wani however said they also have a plan to support agricultural projects, especially the production of Gum Arabic in the country.

 “This will strengthen the local currency against the US dollar and also enable us to obtain loans,” he said.

South Sudan government have been relying heavily on the oil sector to fund its budget, including other projects while discarding other vibrant sectors such as agriculture, mining  and tourism to boost the country’s economy.

Report by the US-based Sentry group in March said the country’s gold mining sector is riddled with corruption that involving President Salva Kiir’s relatives, military leaders, and other senior officials in South Sudan.

South Sudan, marks ninth anniversary of her independence on Thursday, July 9, 2020, just emerged from the six year of conflict, which killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes, before ruined the country’s economy.

South Sudan’s rival leaders officially started the process of forming a transitional coalition government in late February after it was postponed twice, but the security arrangements or unification of forces remained so challenges, which remains thought-provoking.

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Cameroon Government Wants Ceasefire Negotiations With Jailed Separatist Leaders To Remain Secret
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Many think that President Paul Biya, 87, has not shown sufficient good faith in seeking a lasting solution to the crisis
Many think that President Paul Biya, 87, has not shown sufficient good faith in seeking a lasting solution to the crisis

Last week news about ongoing negotiations between the government of Cameroon and jailed leaders of the country’s nonstate armed groups vying for secession broke out, making rounds on social media platforms and was even reported by local and international media outlets including Aljazeera.

The news was received by many with euphoria who hoped the talks will put an end to the ongoing killings in the country’s troubled English-speaking regions of North West and South West. One of those who confirmed the rumors was Agbor Felix Nkongho, Human Rights Lawyer, President of Fako Lawyers Association, African Bar Association Vice President, and Director of Centre for Human Rights & Democracy in Africa.

Agbor Nkongho,  leader of theCameroon Anglophone Civil Society Consortium (CACSC), a group which at the start of the crisis in 2016 held several talks with government in bid to find lasting peace to the simmering crisis took to his twitter handle to congratulate the government and separatist leaders for engaging in negotiations towards putting an end to the crisis.

“I salute the bravery and the Laudable initiative by the Government and Sisiku Tabe & Co as they met on 2 July 2020 to start discussions. It is my fervent wish that these discussions will contribute in finding a breakthrough in the current logjam. I endorse these discussions,” he wrote.”

A few days later, On Monday July 4, the government issued a statement refuting reports it had engaged in a ceasefire negotiation with detained Ambazonia separatist leaders.

In the communiqué, government through Communication minister, Emmanuel Rene Sadi said information circulating social media about the holding of negotiations between a government delegation and detained separatist leaders “is not consistent with reality”. Without giving further details, the communique said government was reaffirming its readiness to seek peaceful solutions to the crisis in the North West and South West regions “particularly through dialogue”.

However, Cameroon’s leading English-language newspaper, The Guardian Post, maintains that the government has indeed engaged in talks with separatist leaders, adding that this was not the first time.

According to the article written by long-time venerated reporter, Kristian Ngah Christian, some members of the government might not want the public to be aware of ongoing talks for various reasons.

Citing a source whom they dubbed a “trusted and renowned personality” of the government, the reports states that the source had presented unquestionable graphic information and evidence detailing how the talks unfolded.

“The mediator, who pleaded to remain anonymous citing the sensitivity of the issue, told this reporter that the July 2, 2020 meeting between government emissaries and the jailed separatist leaders, was the second. He gave to understanding that during the two encounters, both delegation heads took notes on each party’s demands. The report of the two meetings, he said, it was agreed, was supposed to be forwarded to the Prime Minister, Head of Government, Dr. Joseph Dion Ngute, for onward transmission to President Biya,” the report partially read.

Another faction of separatist front runners also rebuked claims that detained separatist leaders engage in any ceasefire negotiations with the government of Cameroon. To Chris Anu Communications Secretary of the Interim Government “being led by Dr. Samuel Ikome Sako, has not, is not, and will not hold any talks or meetings with authorities of La Republic du Cameroon, LRC outside of a properly constituted meditation or negotiation and such must hold outside of LRC.”

By the time of this report, the detained separatist leaders were yet confirm or rebuke claims that such talks ever took place or is taking place. An avid supporter of detained Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe known by separatist as first president of the unrecognized Federal Republic of Ambazonia told this reporter on phone from Maryland U.S.A that indeed the government has met with detained leaders privately but to seek lasting solutions to the simmering in the English-speaking regions.

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Cameroon: Security Forces And Armed Separatist Groups Preventing 700,000 People From Getting Immediate Humanitarian Assistance
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

A Cameroonian aid worker conducting Covid-19 awareness campaign in the South-West region, May 15, 2020 (Photo: UnitedNationsCameroon)
A Cameroonian aid worker conducting Covid-19 awareness campaign in the South-West region, May 15, 2020 (Photo: UnitedNationsCameroon)

A coalition of international nongovernmental organizations (INGOs) that deliver humanitarian assistance and support to Cameroon’s crisis-affected population in the North West and South West regions have raised concerns that humanitarian assistance might not get to the over 700,000 people in dire need.

The eight international NGOs – Action Against Hunger, International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council, Plan International, and the Danish Refugee Council among others raised concern that actions of certain parties hinder their operations. – a move that has since been worsened with the rise in the infection rate of the coronavirus pandemic.

In a joint statement a copy sent to our newsroom, the INGOs emphasized their commitment to delivering humanitarian assistance to affected civilians adding that any aid provided is based on need and without discrimination or military objectives.

The statement did not point fingers or list any group responsible for hindering their activities, several reports have blamed Cameroon’s armed separatist for destroying humanitarian assistance and preventing aid to needy Cameroonians.

Earlier this year, one of the INGOs was accused of supporting armed groups in Cameroon. An accusation which the group denied.

In the July 6th joint statement, the nongovernmental organizations reiterated that they “remain committed to delivering humanitarian assistance to all civilian populations affected by the on-going crisis based on need and without discrimination, to saves live,” the statement partially reads.

Now faced with coronavirus pandemic the group demands that stakeholders and parties concerned help facilitate their work to ensure swift access to all affected population in the crisis-stricken regions.

To ensure the safety and wellbeing of their staff working in the affected regions, the INGOs requested that humanitarian staff and personnel must be protected in all circumstances, in accordance with international humanitarian laws.

This follows recent attacks on humanitarian aid groups by separatist fighters which prompted the United Nation’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Cameroon, Allegra Baiocchi to condemn the increased separatist attacks on humanitarian aid workers in the two English-speaking regions of the country and called on these non-State armed groups to rather protect the workers.

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Planning is more important than prediction for Africa’s property sector now
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Gerhard Zeelie*

Gerhard Zeelie is  Head of Property Finance Africa at Nedbank CIB
Gerhard Zeelie is Head of Property Finance Africa at Nedbank CIB

An understandable response to the economic fallout of Covid-19 is for governments, industries and businesses trying to predict the path that the global economy will take in the coming months and years. However, given that this is a challenging exercise at best, it’s probably a better investment of valuable time and effort to ponder the many lessons – some very hard to swallow – that the pandemic has taught us, and integrate them into our future business and investment plans and strategies, so that we’re more prepared for what the future brings, irrespective of what that is.

For the African property sector this approach is especially vital. As a largely developing continent, Africa’s advantage over its so-called developed economy counterparts is that, in almost every aspect, it has the capacity to reset its economic development compass on the back of Covid-19. Property is a case in point. Where property stakeholders in most developed countries and continents will now have to consider how they can adapt or retrofit what they already have in place to a post-Covid reality, Africa’s property landscape is still very much in its infancy. Meaning that it has immense opportunities to leverage the pandemic lessons as a springboard for the type of future-focused property development that could very well position the continent as a global property leader.

With that in mind, it’s worth taking a closer look at how Covid-19 has impacted the key property sectors in Africa and, more importantly, what opportunities may present themselves going forward.

The hospitality sector was undoubtedly the hardest hit by the pandemic, with revenues coming to a complete and sudden halt as travel was shut down. Interestingly, this is probably also the sector that will be least changed by Covid-19 in the long-term. However, stakeholders would still be well advised to consider innovative ways in which to leverage and maximise the significant value of their assets as the world once again becomes more mobile going forward.

The office sub-sector also experienced significant negative impacts, but revenue streams were not as widely or extensively shut down as with the hospitality sector, given that many tenants were able to pay some or all of their rent through the crisis. However, office space is the one area where the post-Covid-19 future needs to be very carefully considered. The virus threw a bright spotlight on a truth that was already widely known, but largely ignored – which is that the way we use office space is evolving. With the potential for remote working now clearly demonstrated, workplace ecosystems are set to transform, and there is a real opportunity to completely rethink the role and purpose of office space going forward.

The same is true for retail property. The isolation resulting from Covid-19 lockdown responses illustrated the need that exists in African communities for human interaction. And retail destinations were highlighted as the spaces where such interaction is facilitated. While the impact of the pandemic was quite severe in this sub-sector, the recovery may also be swift – particularly given that online trade has not yet gained enough of a foothold to be a significant driver of shopping behaviour change. So, there is significant opportunity for retail developers to capitalise on the lessons learned over the past two months; the most important of which is the need to rethink the primary role of retail centres and change the focus from shopping centres to holistic experience destinations.

The logistics/industrial sector, while not as severely impacted as the previously mentioned sub-sectors, also has the potential to position itself to capitalise on Africa’s post-Covid-19 future. It is likely that online shopping will continue to grow in popularity across the continent, which has the potential to drive significant growth in the logistics industry. To make the most of this opportunity, sector participants will need to carefully and strategically think about where to locate future light industrial developments for maximum exposure and leverage.

So, there are undoubtedly opportunities for property in Africa to flourish going forward. But there are a few caveats to keep in mind. For one, if Africa wants to fully capitalise on its property development springboard potential, stakeholders in the sector have to avoid the temptation to now become bogged down in trying to anticipate the next global crisis or attempting to build such considerations into their property feasibilities. While there is always the possibility of another Covid-type event, with global repercussions, the relatively low probability means that adjusting for it now will have little or no long-term impact on property development models – other than requiring large investments of time, intellectual resources and money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Of course that doesn’t mean that investors and developers in Africa should simply be throwing caution to the wind and going full steam ahead with new developments they had planned before the pandemic struck. There is still much uncertainty about what the future holds. And while we can’t forever be held captive by that uncertainty, we also cannot afford to ignore it. Where projects and developments can be delayed by a few months, it would almost certainly be prudent to do so. At least until the economic fog has lifted somewhat – particularly in terms of local currency stability, commodity prices and tenant sustainability – and the future is a little clearer.

*Gerhard Zeelie is Head of Property Finance Africa at Nedbank CIB

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Tanzania Adopts Good Financial Grant Practice Standard
July 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Tanzania President John Magufuli

Tanzani has adopted the Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP) standard through their national bureau of standards, according to the African Academy of Sciences (AAS).

 According to the AAS, over the last few decades, many government departments across sub-Saharan Africa have faced significant trust and accountability issues in managing foreign aid.

 It is reported that corruption has been cited to be one of the biggest reasons why donors stop giving aid to the development world.

  It is added that the recent World Bank’s study, ‘Elite Capture of Foreign Aid’- Evidence from Offshore Bank Accounts sheds light on how aid disbursements to highly aid-dependent countries coincide with sharp increases in bank deposits in offshore financial centers known for bank secrecy and private wealth management.

  It is reported that donors have lost trust in governments that don’t demonstrate transparency and accountability in managing foreign funds.

 It is added that they spend a lot of time and money on systems to monitor and investigate the unscrupulous/corrupt governments that misuse funds. In some extreme cases, they give less foreign aid or cut it off completely thereby weakening progressive growth and affective the delivery of public services to communities who need it most.

  It has been added that in order to crack down on corruption, robust systems need to be established. Through Certification to the international Standard known as the Good Financial Grant Practice (ARS 1651:2018), government departments can address the issues of trust and accountability.

The Good Financial Grant Practice (GFGP) standard is a new global quality standard that sets out in detail the procedures, processes, and policies that small to philanthropic donors expect organizations to have implemented.

Currently, the standard is being implemented by more than 300 organizations in 45 countries in Africa, America, Europe and Asia and has been adopted in Rwanda, Uganda as their national standard.

 “We are proud to have Tanzania adopt the standard in June through their national bureau of standards,” AAS said.

The certification to the GFGP standard will enable governments to  ensure that relevant capability is available for managing foreign aid in a manner that create an impact in the society, enhance and maintain trust and accountability over budget planning, strengthen operational efficiency and ensure the public get value for money.

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American Multinational Abbot Laboratories faces multimillion-dollar lawsuit over contract compliance with African Covid-19 Test Kits
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

The inability of Abbott Laboratories to execute orders and to deliver came at the expense of African companies causing financial loss and damage to their reputations

Abbott Laboratories should have known better and their handling of orders of COVID-19 test kits have caused serious health and financial damages to many Africans, states NJ Ayuk, CEO of Centurion Law Group

Centurion Law Group has been engaged to institute legal action against American multinational health care company Abbott Laboratories for willfully under supplying African suppliers of COVID-19 test kits. Even when the African parties made orders first, delivery was effected last or not at all.

 “Abbott Laboratories should have known better and their handling of orders of COVID-19 test kits have caused serious health and financial damages to many Africans,” stated NJ Ayuk, CEO of Centurion Law Group. 

“We do not take this case lightly. These are trying times, and though a corporation is big and powerful, it does not give it the right to undermine the rights of African companies and governments who placed orders of COVID-19 test products,” added Mr. Ayuk.

Abbott Laboratories has been expanding on the continent and pushing for a lot of new business.  Many African suppliers and governments were proactive in their response to the pandemic and placed timely orders with Abbott Laboratories.  The inability of Abbott Laboratories to execute orders and to deliver came at the expense of African companies causing financial loss and damage to their reputations.

*SOURCE Centurion Law Group

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