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Kenya:WHO dismisses false reports on Covid-19 vaccine
March 5, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

WHO Representative to Kenya Dr Rudi Egger says the vaccine's safety is beyond any doubt
WHO Representative to Kenya Dr Rudi Egger says the vaccine’s safety is beyond any doubt

The World Health Organization (WHO) has quashed misinformation about the Astra Zeneca, the Covid-19 vaccine, being peddled in Kenya.

WHO Representative to Kenya Dr Rudi Egger said the vaccine’s safety is beyond any doubt.

 He spoke during the official launch of the COVID-19 vaccine at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) in Nairobi on Friday, March 5, 2021.

“The Astra Zeneca vaccine produced by the Serum Institute of India, this vaccine now in Kenya, has been reviewed and found safe not only by WHO itself, but by several stringent regulatory authorities, including the United States FDA and the European regulatory authority,” said Dr Rudi.

He assured Kenyans that the vaccine has also been administered worldwide and no safety concern has been raised.

The WHO representative said the vaccine would not cost either Kenyans or the Kenyan government a single penny.

“Clearly, there is still a cost to the Kenyan government, as the salaries of those that deliver the vaccines and the vaccine transport cost from the regional stores to the health facilities across all 47 counties. But the vaccine itself is donated, with no cost to Kenya,” he added.

He echoed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s statement made on Thursday, calling on Kenyans to continue observing Covid-19 containment protocols.

” With the arrival of these vaccines in Kenya, we have turned a corner, and can say that we are on the road to ultimately recover from this pandemic. We encourage all that have access to the vaccines to get their shots soon to protect themselves adequately. And again, we call on all to continue the public health measures required to avoid ongoing transmission, spread, disease and death,” reiterated Dr Rudi.

Ten people led by Health acting Director-General Patrick Amoth were the first to receive the vaccine on Kenyan soil on Friday at KNH.

Dr Amoth was the first to be inoculated, and KNH Chief Executive Officer Dr Evanson Kamuri the second, followed by the rest.

The launch paved the way for the administration exercise to commence in other parts of the country.

The first consignment of the AstraZeneca vaccine arrived in the country on Wednesday. Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe received the 1.o2 million units at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

The next batch is expected in the country by the end of March or next month.

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Kenya:Three dead following shooting spree in Kisumu
March 5, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Three people are dead, including the suspect in a shooting rampage in Kisumu, Kenya’s Lake City.

The deadly shooting on Friday morning began when a man grabbed a gun from a police officer manning traffic, entered Kisumu Bus Terminus, and fired shots at passers-by and commuters, leaving two people dead and several injured.

It was reported that the shooter disarmed the officer, and the latter’s effort to fight back was in vain because he was overwhelmed.

Those injured, including the officer, were rushed to the hospital for treatment. 

The

police report said the officer was shot on his pelvic and the bullet exit in his stomach. The hospital source revealed that his condition is serious but stable.

The perpetrator then tried to escape through the nearest hotel, Yasmin, but one officer attached to the bus park with the help of the public members caught hold of him and recovered a Ceska pistol.

After that, the public’s angry members descended on him with thorough beatings killing him on the spot, as reported by the Star.

Three national identification bearing separate names, Glen Ochieng, Joseph Otieno Masaka, and Joseph Odeny Mutula, were also recovered from him.

The man concealed his identity by wearing a hoodie and face mask, and wearing gloves on his hands, said the police.

His intention is yet to be established, and the police have launched investigations into the incident.

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Cameroon: Boost for Human Rights Crusade As Maxi Ngo Mbe Bags 2021 International Woman of Courage Award boost
March 5, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Maxi Ngo Mbe has been an outspoken voice among civil society actors, often sacrificing her personal safety, in the push for a peaceful solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, says the State Department
Maxi Ngo Mbe has been an outspoken voice among civil society actors, often sacrificing her personal safety, in the push for a peaceful solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, says the State Department

The struggle for human rights in Cameroon is on the verge of another major boost with the selection of Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe amongst the 2021 International Women of Courage Award Recipients. According to a press release from the State Department, Secretary of State Tony Blinken will host the Awards on March 8 in a virtual ceremony to honor a group of extraordinary women.

In the announcement, Maxi Ngo Mbe is credited with extraordinary leadership, courage, and perseverance through adversity in promoting human rights in Cameroon and Central Africa.

She has been an outspoken voice among civil society actors, often sacrificing her personal safety, in the push for a peaceful solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. She has called for an end to human rights abuses committed by separatists and security forces in the Northwest and Southwest regions and by security forces in the Far North,” the State Department said.

“Maximilienne has also spoken out against the increased constraints placed on civil society, journalists, and political opposition by the Government of Cameroon. Her commitment to promoting human rights has been unwavering despite the intimidation, threats, and assault she has endured,” the statement continued.

Joining Maximilienne Ngo Mbe to represent Africa in the list of 2021 recipients are Julienne Lusenge and Zahra Mohamed Ahmad. Julienne Lusenge is  the leading female activist in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) fighting against gender-based violence (GBV) and the promotion of the rights of women and girls in conflict situations.

Zahra Mohamed Ahmad has been at the forefront of defending human rights in Somalia, especially for its most vulnerable groups. As an accomplished lawyer, Zahra began providing legal aid, for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) survivors, women on remand status, and women in pre-trial detention. 

According to the State Department, The First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden will deliver remarks to recognize the courageous accomplishments of these women.

Now in its 15th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment – often at great personal risk and sacrifice. From the inception of this award in March 2007 to today, the Department of State has recognized more than 155 awardees from over 75 countries. U.S. diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries, and finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials. Following the virtual IWOC ceremony, the awardees will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) virtual exchange and connect with their American counterparts.

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2021 International Women of Courage Award Recipients Announced
March 5, 2021 | 0 Comments
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will Host Virtual Award Ceremony Featuring Special Remarks by the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will Host Virtual Award Ceremony Featuring Special Remarks by the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to Host Virtual Award Ceremony Featuring Special Remarks by the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden

On Monday, March 8, at 10:00 a.m., Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will host the annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards virtual ceremony to honor a group of extraordinary women from around the world, including an honorary award for seven women leaders and activists from Afghanistan who were assassinated for their dedication to improving the lives of Afghans. The First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden will deliver remarks to recognize the courageous accomplishments of these women.

Out of an abundance of caution and in order to practice safe social distancing, the ceremony will be pooled press coverage only and will be live streamed on [www.state.gov.]www.state.gov.

Now in its 15th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment – often at great personal risk and sacrifice. From the inception of this award in March 2007 to today, the Department of State has recognized more than 155 awardees from over 75 countries. U.S. diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries, and finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials. Following the virtual IWOC ceremony, the awardees will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) virtual exchange and connect with their American counterparts. The 2021 awardees are:

Belarus – Maria Kalesnikava

Ahead of the August 9, 2020, presidential election, Belarusian women emerged as a dominant political force and driver of societal change in Belarus due in no small part to Maria Kalesnikava. After authorities jailed or exiled the three most popular male opposition candidates, Maria and her partners mounted a historic and sustained challenge to the 26-year rule of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Maria continues to be the face of the opposition inside Belarus, courageously facing imprisonment in the aftermath of the disputed election. Despite her detention, Maria continues to keep the democratic movement alive inside Belarus and serves as a source of inspiration for all those seeking to win freedom for themselves and their countries.

Burma – Phyoe Phyoe Aung

An emerging leader who is likely to play a role in shaping the country in the coming years, Phyoe Phyoe Aung is the co-founder of the Wings Institute for Reconciliation, an organization that facilitates exchanges between youth of different ethnic and religious groups. Her work promotes peacebuilding and reconciliation and enables a vital dialogue on federalism and transitional justice. She organized a 2015 protest march from Mandalay to Yangon that was violently suppressed by the Myanmar Police Force as it neared Yangon, and she and her husband were arrested and imprisoned. Phyoe Phyoe was released in April 2016 after 13 months as part of a broad pardon of political prisoners facing court trials.

Cameroon – Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe

Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, courage, and perseverance through adversity in promoting human rights in Cameroon and Central Africa. She has been an outspoken voice among civil society actors, often sacrificing her personal safety, in the push for a peaceful solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. She has called for an end to human rights abuses committed by separatists and security forces in the Northwest and Southwest regions and by security forces in the Far North. Maximilienne has also spoken out against the increased constraints placed on civil society, journalists, and political opposition by the Government of Cameroon. Her commitment to promoting human rights has been unwavering despite the intimidation, threats, and assault she has endured.

China – Wang Yu

Wang Yu was one of the country’s most prominent human rights lawyers until her arrest and imprisonment following China’s nationwide persecution of lawyers and rights advocates during the “709 crackdown.” She had taken on multiple politically sensitive cases, representing activists, scholars, Falun Gong practitioners, farmers, and petitioners in cases involving a wide array of issues, including women’s and children’s rights, and the rights to religion, freedom of expression, assembly, and association. She is now under an exit ban and has been harassed, threatened, searched, and physically assaulted by police since she began to take on rights abuse cases in 2011.

Colombia – Mayerlis Angarita

Mayerlis Angarita has courageously advanced peace and human rights in Colombia, often at great personal risk. Her work has improved the security, livelihoods, and resilience of countless women leaders, conflict victims, and her community. Finding healing in storytelling after her own mother was forcibly disappeared during Colombia’s conflict, she founded the civil society organization “Narrate to Live,” which now serves over 800 women victims of conflict. Additionally, after the most recent attempt on her life, she engaged the highest levels of the Colombian government to advance a comprehensive action plan to prevent violence against women leaders in her community. Her constructive engagement across 27 government entities, civil society, and the international community has been key to the plan’s success and propelled it to become a model for human rights defender protection throughout Colombia.

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Julienne Lusenge

Since 1978, Julienne Lusenge has been the leading female activist in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) fighting against gender-based violence (GBV) and the promotion of the rights of women and girls in conflict situations. In 2000, she created Women’s Solidarity for Peace and Integral Development, the DRC’s foremost organization defending the rights of women and girls against impunity for GBV. Julienne’s vocal testimony has contributed to the adoption of international agreements such as UN 1820, which recognizes sexual violence as a weapon of war. Julienne has touched the lives of millions of women across the DRC, harnessing the attention of the international community to acknowledge and act on the extent of sexual violence shattering DRC’s communities.

Guatemala – Judge Erika Aifan

Judge Erika Lorena Aifan is a trial judge working in the High-Risk Criminal Court with responsibility for high-impact crimes. She has presided over high-profile corruption and war atrocity cases, leading to defamation and threats of violence against her. Despite these challenges, Judge Aifan persisted as a Guatemalan judge independent of political influence. She has demonstrated determination and fortitude in upholding the rule of law in Guatemala. Despite the strong opposition she has faced throughout her tenure, Judge Aifan has become an icon in Guatemala in the fight against corruption, efforts to increase transparency, and actions to improve independence in the justice sector.

Iran – Shohreh Bayat

When Shohreh Bayat boarded her flight on her way to the 2020 Women’s Chess World Championship, she had no idea she might be seeing her native Iran for the last time. Shohreh, the first female Category A international chess arbiter in Asia was photographed at the Championship without her hijab, which is compulsory in Iran. Within 24 hours, the Iranian Chess Federation – which Shohreh had previously led – refused to guarantee Shohreh’s safety if she returned to Iran without first apologizing. Fearing for her safety and unwilling to apologize for the incident, Shohreh made the heart-wrenching decision to seek refuge in the UK, leaving her husband – who lacked a UK visa – in Iran. In that moment, Shohreh chose to be a champion for women’s rights rather than be cowed by the Iranian government’s threats.

Nepal – Muskan Khatun

Muskan Khatun has been instrumental in bringing about new legislation criminalizing acid attacks and imposing strong penalties against perpetrators in Nepal. When Muskan was 15, she was critically injured in an acid attack after she rejected a boy’s romantic propositions. With the help of a social worker, Muskan lobbied for stronger legal action against the perpetrators of acid attacks under duress of threats and the strong social stigma associated with acid attack victims. She went before a parliamentary committee, wrote a letter to Nepal’s Prime Minister, and eventually met with him in person, to request a stronger law. Within a year of her attack, Nepal’s President issued an ordinance with harsh penalties for acid attacks and regulations on the sale of acids, a testament to Muskan’s significant advocacy.

Somalia – Zahra Mohamed Ahmad

For more than 20 years, Zahra Mohamed Ahmad has been at the forefront of defending human rights in Somalia, especially for its most vulnerable groups. As an accomplished lawyer, Zahra began providing legal aid, for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) survivors, women on remand status, and women in pre-trial detention. Zahra is the founder of and legal advisor for the Somali Women Development Center, an organization that reports on human rights violations and cases of abuse; supports survivors through legal assistance; established Somalia’s first free hotline service to combat SGBV; and operates one-stop centers for SGBV survivors, mobile legal clinics, family care centers, safe spaces for women and girls, and community child protection centers for internally displaced children.

Spain – Sister Alicia Vacas Moro

A registered nurse, Sister Alicia Vacas Moro ran a medical clinic in Egypt for eight years, helping 150 low income patients a day treat their maladies. She then moved to the biblical town of Bethany to help an impoverished Bedouin community, especially women and children. She set up training programs for women that provided them with previously unavailable economic opportunities, and established kindergartens in Bedouin camps, providing an educational foundation for children. In an environment shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sister Alicia also assisted traumatized refugees and asylum seekers, a job she continues to perform on a larger scale in her current role as the regional coordinator for the Comboni Sisters in the Middle East. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck northern Italy, she flew to Italy to assist and treat fellow sister nuns, undeterred by extreme danger to herself.

Sri Lanka – Ranitha Gnanarajah

Ranitha Gnanarajah, a lawyer, continues to fight for and defend the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable communities in the country, despite threats and challenges by the state. Ranitha has dedicated her career to accountability and justice for victims of enforced disappearances and prisoners detained often for years without charge under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act by providing free legal aid and related services. As an individual personally affected by the conflict and based on her extensive experience working with victims and their families, Ranitha has demonstrated tremendous passion and dedication to justice and accountability, especially for Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable populations.

Turkey – Canan Gullu

Canan Gullu has been an activist and organizer for 31 years and is the president of the Turkish Federation of Women’s Associations, an umbrella organization of women’s NGOs; she leads186 branches and 52,500 members. Canan has been a steadfast champion of gender equality, working to promote women’s participation in governance, labor force, and education. In 2007, the Turkish Federation of Women Associations established the first emergency hotline for victims of violence in Turkey, which continues its operations. Over the past two years, Canan launched an education and advocacy campaign focused on failures in the Turkish government’s implementation since 2012 of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Canan’s activism has been critical to educating the public about the convention and reinforcing the need to combat gender-based violence, which quelled some politicians’ calls for Turkey’s withdrawal.

Venezuela – Ana Rosario Contreras

As president of the Caracas Nurses’ Association, Ana Rosario Contreras has been on the front lines in the fight for the rights of healthcare professionals, patients, and labor unions. Contreras’ fierce activism has generated widespread support from the Venezuelan people and is at the center of the civil-political movement pushing for democratic change. In a climate where the government routinely jails, tortures, harasses, threatens, or restricts the movement of its opponents, Contreras defends citizens’ rights at great personal risk. She has advocated for labor rights and has worked tirelessly to ensure that healthcare workers could receive a subsidy through Interim President Juan Guido’s Health Heroes program.

In addition to the individual IWOC awards that will be presented on March 8, Secretary Blinken will also present an honorary IWOC award to a group of seven Afghan women who were assassinated in 2020 while serving their communities during a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history. These tragic murders underscore the alarming trend of increased targeting of women in Afghanistan and the United States condemns these acts of violence.

· Fatema Natasha Khalil, an official with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission who was killed, along with her driver, in June 2020 by an IED in Kabul, on her way to her office.

· General Sharmila Frough, the head of the Gender Unit in the National Directorate of Security (NDS) was one of the longest-serving female NDS officers, having served as chief of the anti-kidnapping division and working undercover combating criminal networks. General Frough was assassinated in an IED explosion targeting her vehicle in March 2020 in Kabul.

· Maryam Noorzad, a midwife who served remote locations in Wardak and Bamyan provinces before working for Médecins Sans Frontières Kabul PD13 hospital. On May 12, 2020, three gunmen attacked the maternity ward of the hospital, but Maryam refused to leave her patient, who was in labor. Maryam, her patient, and the newborn baby were killed in the delivery suite.

· Fatima Rajabi, a 23-year-old police officer originally from Ghazni province and a member of the anti-narcotics division. She was traveling to her home village in Jaghori district in a civilian minibus in July 2020 when the Taliban stopped the vehicle and took her captive. Two weeks later, the Taliban killed her and sent her remains, which had gunshot wounds and signs of torture, to her family.

· Freshta, daughter of Amir Mohamed, a 35-year-old prison guard with the Office of Prison Administration. She was walking from her residence in Kandahar City to a taxi on her way to work when she was murdered by an unknown gunman on October 25, 2020.

· Malalai Maiwand, a reporter at Enikas Radio and TV, was shot and killed, along with her driver, by a gunman on December 10, 2020, in an attack on her vehicle in Jalalabad. Malalai was not the first in her family to be targeted. Five years earlier, her mother, an activist, was also killed by unknown gunmen.

· Freshta Kohistani, a 29-year-old women’s rights and democracy activist, was assassinated by unknown gunmen near her home in Kapsia province on December 24, 2020. Kohistani regularly organized events advocating for women’s rights in Afghanistan and used social media as a platform for her messaging.

*State Department

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flydubai expands its operations to Romania with the launch of flights to Cluj-Napoca
March 5, 2021 | 0 Comments

Thursday, February 25, 2021 — flydubai, the Dubai-based airline, today announced the launch of flights to Cluj-Napoca in Romania. The airline will operate twice-weekly flights between Dubai International (DXB) and Avram Iancu International Airport Cluj (CLJ) starting from 20 March 2021.

flydubai operates a double daily service between Dubai International (DXB) and Bucharest Henri Coanda International Airport (OTP). With the start of flights to Cluj-Napoca in March, the carrier will serve the Romanian market with a total of 16 weekly flights.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, Chief Executive Officer at flydubai, said: “we first started operating to Bucharest with four flights a week in 2012. Since then, flydubai has more than tripled its operations to the market as demand has grown for commercial and cargo traffic between Romania and the UAE. We are excited to offer more options for convenient direct airlinks to the market with the start of our flights to Cluj-Napoca and we look forward to further stimulating travel and trade flows in both directions.”

Cluj-Napoca is the second largest city in Romania with one of the most dynamic economies in the country and is the largest centre for innovation and business opportunities in Transylvania. Avram Iancu International Airport Cluj (CLJ) is considered an important gateway to the north-western region of Romania. Located 10 kilometres east from Cluj-Napoca’s city centre, the airport is close to the most important attractions of the city; also known as “The heart of Transylvania.”

Jeyhun Efendi, Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations and E-commerce at flydubai, added: “flydubai’s new service will offer more than 3.5 million people, living within few hours drive from the airport, the convenience of direct airlinks to Dubai. There is also the opportunity for passengers to connect travel beyond on our network to popular destinations like Colombo, Malé and Zanzibar. The twice-weekly service will also benefit the Romanian expatriate population in the UAE to travel home more easily.”

Cluj-Napoca is strategically located and borders Hungary, Moldova and Ukraine allowing passengers from these markets to take advantage of flydubai’s direct airlinks to Dubai and its aviation hub.

Cluj-Napoca, considered to be the unofficial capital of the historic region of Transylvania, is a vibrant cultural and educational city. Home to a large number of castles, fortresses, botanical gardens, museums and parks, Cluj-Napoca offers passengers from the UAE and the region a perfect holiday destination with a pleasant climate and an array of attractions to enjoy.

flydubai offers convenient and reliable travel services. Passengers will have the option to experience Business Class enjoying space and privacy in the cabin, a comfortable spacious seat, inflight entertainment with the latest films and TV shows available to watch and a range of dining options. Passengers will also benefit from a priority check-in service at Terminal 3, Dubai International.

Passengers travelling in Economy Class will enjoy a Recaro designed seat offering optimal levels of space and comfort in the air.  flydubai continues to roll-out WiFi across its fleet enabling passengers to stay connected during their flight and can browse the web, send emails, use social networks and get the latest news. Passengers are able to choose between bundled (Flex/Value) or unbundled (Lite) fares depending on their travel needs.

Emirates will codeshare on this route offering travellers more seamless connections through Dubai’s international aviation hub to 155 destinations between both the Emirates and flydubai networks including Australia, China, Indian Ocean, Japan, South Asia and the United States.

flydubai’s passenger experience has been redesigned to enable travel in a safe environment that minimises crew and passenger contact and offers passengers confidence to travel at every step of their journey. The airline has recently introduced an extended multi-risk travel insurance that includes COVID-19 cover to offer passengers greater peace of mind when travelling.

Passengers are required to make sure that they are up to date with the regulations from the IATA Travel Centre for their whole journey, and follow the guidance issued by the authorities and the airline.

Flight schedule and fares

Return Business Class fares start from DXB to CLJ are AED 8,000 and Economy Class fares are AED 1,100.

Return Business Class fares start from CLJ to DXB are EUR 1,900 and Economy Class fares are EUR 170.

Flight NumberDeparture AirportDeparture TimeArrival AirportArrival Time
FZ 1219DXB10:15CLJ13:55
FZ 1220CLJ14:45DXB22:00

For the full timetable and fares, please visit: https://www.flydubai.com/en/plan/timetable

Flights can be booked from flydubai’s website (flydubai.com), the official flydubai App, the Contact Centre in Dubai on (+971) 600 54 44 45, the flydubai travel shops or through our travel partners.

In addition, flydubai offers a range of partner services to passengers including home check-in and belt pick-up services, meet and greet services, holiday packages and car hire all at preferential rates.

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South Sudan: Extended Lockdown for a Month As Covid 19 Death Cases Soar
March 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Taskforce Chairperson, Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol
Taskforce Chairperson, Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol

Juba – South Sudan COVID-19 task force has  extended partial lockdown for another one month effective on 3rd March to 3rd April as death cases hit 100 after three more people succumbed to the virus on Wednesday.

The national ministry of health, in its Wednesday update, said 109 new infections have been recorded putting total cumulative number of confirmed cases to 8,414 since the outbreak was announced last year. 4,317 cases has reported recovered.

Six active cases are said to have been admitted at the Infectious Disease Unit-IDU in Juba.

The ministry of health has persistently advised members of the public to adhere to the health guidelines, as wear facemasks, frequently wash hands, and social distance.

However, this forced the national taskforce on COVID-19 to extended a partial lockdown by one month. 

Taskforce Chairperson, Vice President Hussein Abdelbagi Akol made the announcement on Wednesday evening on state – owned television, saying that slight changes seen on wearing face masks but still number of cases increase daily.

The Vice President instructed security agencies to strengthen enforcement of safety protocols including wearing of facemasks and a ban on social gatherings. 

There is a existence fragile health system that is suspiciously to contain a spread of Covid 19 pandemic in the restive South Sudan, a country emerging from a ruinous civil war that broke out in 2013, two years after it gained independence from Sudan.

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Kenya’s investigative agency, DCI, receives forensic lab equipment from Germany
March 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

DCI boss George Kinoti  with German Embassy Official.Photo courtesy
DCI boss George Kinoti with German Embassy Official.Photo courtesy

The fight against crime in Kenya on Thursday, March 4, received a boost after the German Government donated forensic lab equipment to the country’s Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

The equipment valued at ksh26 million (approximately US$237,393) will hasten the investigation process.

They included cameras and simulation crime scene tools.

Speaking during the handover at the DCI headquarters in Nairobi, German Deputy Ambassador Thomas Wimmer said the equipment would significantly help solve criminal offenses.

On his part, DCI boss George Kinoti praised the German Government, noting the donation will help tackle several pending cases.

Kinoti also updated Kenyans on the forensic laboratory’s status, which has been under construction for many years, saying it is 98 percent complete.

He averred that it is just a matter of time before the laboratory is officially opened.

The lab is based at the DCI’s headquarters.

Many Kenyan criminal cases have remained unsolved due to a lack of laboratories to carry out tests for evidence on matters being investigated.

The country has relied on foreign laboratories like South Africa and some European countries to conduct its tests.

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Kenya:Countrywide distribution of Covid-19 vaccine kicks off
March 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday flagged off the national distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Almost half a million were released to the nine regional depots from the National storage centre in Kitengela, Kajiado County.

The nine regions are Kisumu, Mombasa, Nakuru, Kakamega, Garissa, Meru, Nyeri, level 6 hospitals, and military level 4 hospitals.

The exercise began just hours after the first batch of the vaccine landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport on Wednesday ahead of first jab administration on Friday.

1.02 million doses of the AstraZeneca arrived in the country from the Serum Institute of India (SII) transported by UNICEF as part of the global COVAX alliance.

Health workers will be the first people to be vaccinated, followed by teachers, security officers, and those with underlying medical conditions.

“Ours is to help these people to ensure we support them with enough doses, logistics until such time we have vaccinated our people or when we attain herd immunity … We will get more and more doses until we get the amount required.” said President Kenyatta.

Kenyatta asked Kenyans to continue observing measures put in place by the Ministry of Health to tame the spread of the novel virus-like social distancing, wearing of facemasks, and washing hands with water and soap, among others. He said the battle to combat the deadly disease is not over.

“I urge all Kenyans not to drop the guard, lets us not think that since the vaccines have arrived, life will resume normally, we have to continue protecting ourselves by adhering to the measures stipulated by the Ministry of health,” the Head of State.

President Kenyatta further called on Kenyans to desist from peddling misinformation about the vaccine urging them to ask experts any questions outside policy about execution and how it will be done.

Kenya is expected the second batch of the vaccine by the end of March or April.

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Reckya Modougou, Benin’s presidential opposition party leader, ambushed and arrested
March 4, 2021 | 0 Comments
Reckya Madougou
Reckya Madougou

Porto-Novo, Benin – Today, Ms. Reckya Madougou, the leader of Benin’s largest opposition party and first female presidential candidate for a major party, was ambushed in the capital city of Porto-Novo.

Despite an immense crowd that tried to form a human shield for protection, Madougou was illegally arrested by military forces directed by President Patrice Talon. This order is part of his escalating effort to undermine democracy in Benin.

The ambush also targeted other opposition candidates meeting in the capital, including Joel “The Professor” Aivo and Moise Kerekou, son of President Mathieu Kerekou. Both opposition leaders were able to escape.

This is another glaring example of the erosion of democracy and democratic norms in Benin under the autocratic rule of President Talon.

We call on the international community to condemn President Talon’s disregard for due process and demand Madougou’s immediate release.

Madougou is to appear at the prosecutor’s office tonight. We are calling on all Benin citizens to rally around her by appearing at the office of the prosecutor in peaceful solidarity. Benin’s democratic goals cannot be undermined by President Talon’s strongman tactics.

*Press Statement by Renaud Agbodjo, Esq. Reckya Madougou’s Campaign Team

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Brazilian striker Silva scores his first goal for Gor Mahia
March 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Wilson Silva Fonseca
Wilson Silva Fonseca

On Wednesday, Kenya Premier League side Gor Mahia ended a four-match winless run with a 2-1 hard-fought victory over Kakamega Homeboyz at Bukhungu Stadium.

The team’s duel against their arch-rivals AFC Leopards ended in a stalemate draw on February 7, a week after stunning Bandari FC 3-1. Kenya defending champions went ahead and lost 1-0 in Nairobi to Napsa Stars of Zambia in the Caf Confederation-Cup play-off before drawing 2-2 in the return league in Lusaka.

Surprisingly, the 19th times Kenyan champions again fell 2-1 to Nzoia United over the weekend, an outcome that piled pressure on players and the technical bench.

It looked set to be another disappointing day for the reigning champions in their visit to Western when Chris Masinza put the home side ahead with thirteen minutes gone.

However, Tito Okello’s equalizer in the 56th minute sparked them to life.

A superb strike by Brazilian import Wilson Silva Fonseca in the match’s dying moments made it 2-1 for the Green Army.

Kakamega Homeboyz were reduced to 10 men after Thomas Wainaina was red-carded following an ugly battle with Gor Mahia’s attacker Sammy Onyango.

Gor is now eighth in the log after playing 11 matches, while Tusker FC, the league leaders, have amassed 32 points from 14 games.

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Kenya:Teacher left fighting for his life after colleague hacked him
March 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

In Kenya, a secondary school teacher is nursing severe injuries in the hospital after his male colleague attacked him with a machete.

The victim, a teacher at Karoti Girls’ High School in Mwea, Kenya’s central, was slashed in the head, arms, and fingers.

Police reports indicate that the two, the victim and the suspect, had fallen out after realizing they were both eyeing the same woman who happened to be an intern on teaching practice at the school.

Their rivalry went beyond control when the two teachers confronted each other in the staffroom on Wednesday, March 3, 2021.

“We have also recovered the weapon he is said to have used to attack his colleague in the school compound,” said a police source.

The suspect was arrested and taken to the nearest police station.

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Rwanda receives first C0VID-19 vaccine through Covax
March 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By  Maniraguha Ferdinand

Minister of Health Dr Ngamije Daniel (third from right) receiving first Covid-vaccine from Covax initiative
Minister of Health Dr Ngamije Daniel (third from right) receiving first Covid-vaccine from Covax initiative

Rwanda has on this Wednesday, 3rd March 2021 received its first batches of Covid-19 vaccine through Covax initiative.

The first batch of 240,000 doses of the AstraZeneca-oxford vaccine were received in the morning by officials led by  Minister of Health Dr Ngamije Daniel at Kigali International Airport.

Rwandan government expects second shipment of 102,960 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, also from the COVAX facility  on Wednesday evening.

The statement issued by Ministry of health, said that every vaccine recipient will be receiving two doses for full protection,.

“The AstraZeneca-oxford and Pfizer vaccines will be used to vaccinate a total of 171,480 people identified as priority risk groups, including health personnel, those above 65 years old or with underlying health conditions, and other frontline workers”, statement reads.

Minister of Health Dr Daniel Ngamije commends  all stakeholders  who made it possible for  Rwanda to receive its first Covax vaccine.

He adds that vaccination will start instantly as so as to mitigate new Covid-cases.

“We will immediately roll out our prepared vaccination plan, which will see target risk groups across Rwanda receive their first of two vaccine doses. Our target is to vaccinate 30% of our population by the end of 2021, and 60% by the end of 2022″, Ngamije said.

Since March 2020, Rwanda has recorded more than 19000 Covid-19 cases. More than 17 000 have recovered while   265  have died.

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10 Passengers Killed in Another South Sudan Plane Crash
March 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – A commercial plane crashed on Tuesday at an airstrip in the eastern Jonglei state, killed 10 including two pilots, the official said. A commercial plane crashed shortly after takeoff from Pieri airstrip of Uror County in South Sudan’s Jonglei State, areas controlled by a former rebel groups. 

The aircraft HK-4274 belonging to local company South Supreme Airlines was reportedly returning to Juba via Yuai town, the headquarters of Uror County. The plane was chartered by business people.

A multiple eyewitnesses says the plane was carrying two crew members and nine passengers, adding the aircraft took off from Pieri airstrip at around 5 P. M local time and crashed a few minutes later.Among the dead, include 2 pilots, 2 children, a man, and six women.

“It’s a tragic loss of life,” said the witness on phone The cause of the crash remains unclear. “It was with great shock and horror to receive the news of the plane crash (HK-4274) of South Sudan Supreme Airline that happened today the 2nd day of March 2021 at around 5.05 PM at Pieri Airstrip,” Governor Denay Jock Chagor said in a statement seen by Pan African Visions on Wednesday. “Ten people including the two pilots lost their lives,” he added that the flight was bound for the capital Juba.

Meanwhile, the Director of Juba International Airport, Kur Kuol confirmed the crash that has claimed all lives. However, several planes have reportedly crashed in the recent years in the East African’s youngest nation, a country emerging from a horrible civil war that broke out in 2013, two years after it gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

The latest crash is the second such incident reported involving an aircraft operated by the same regional airline. In August 2020, a cargo plane belonging to a local operator – South West Aviation – crashed in Kemiru area, outskirt of Juba, killing four passengers and three crew members after takeoff from Juba International Airport.

Also in September 2018, a chartered Let-410 UVP crashed into Lake Shambe in Yirol, Lakes state killing at least 19 people, including an Anglican Bishop.
In 2015, 36 people were killed when a Soviet-era Antonov plane crashed just after takeoff from Juba.

In 2017, 37 people had a miraculous escape after their plane hit a fire truck on a runway in Wau before bursting into flames. Most air planes in South Sudan are Outdated, and life threatening, due to lack of good roads and security in the restive country.

The observers said the aviation industry should close the internal flights temporarily and screen all the aviation companies. The general manager of South  supreme air says a team comprising aviation authority has been dispatched to Jonglei State plane crash site.

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Sierra Leone: Music As An Effective Tool To Lasting Peace
March 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma*

Chairman Artist for Peace CEE JAY
Chairman Artist for Peace CEE JAY

Restoring lasting peace in a nation is an everyday process, from making a society were respect for the rights and freedoms of the individuals are protected, to the independence of its democratic institutions and the independence of the judiciary to name a few can be of  help in enhancing a lasting peace for a post war nation like Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone experienced one of the worst civil conflicts in the world between 1991– 2002 in which tens of thousands were forced to flee their homes, thousands lost their lives and left untold suffering on innocent civilians and completely broke down all democratic institutions in the country. The causes of the war were according to the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report (TRC) was endemic greed, corruption and lack of respect of the human rights of individuals in the British West African nation.

“The Commission found that the central cause of the war was endemic greed, corruption and nepotism that deprived the nation of its dignity and reduced most people into a state of poverty,’’ TRC No. 34. 

The Commission made recommendations for the former  war-torn nation to having a lasting peace, from having a new constitution, respect of its citizens fundamental human rights and freedoms, respect for freedom of expression to name a few.  To enhance this, the Commission further encourages artistic activities in which victims, ex-combatants, as well as other members of the community can express themselves through drama, music, song, and storytelling, and art, poetry in order to promote tolerance, respect, and non-violent means of conflict resolution.

One institution or body that has been using art and music to preach peace is the Artist for Peace Sierra Leone; an organisation made up of several artists, Dj’s, musicians and entertainers from various sectors including comedians MCs’, dramatist actors among others doing music for the purpose of preaching peace and national cohesion in this once war-torn country and has succeeded in disseminating messages across all facets and kinds of people in Sierra Leone. During elections and even after the elections they have continuously played a key role. Experts say this is one way to earning a lasting peace and making a united country. Young people love music, they see most of these musicians and singers as their role model, they copy their styles, attitudes and way of dressing, they are better messengers to preach peace, and they were used by the United Nations Peace Building in Sierra Leone and other UN agencies to develop songs in order to end of war in the country. The impact they created was strong and far reaching with songs ‘Salone Me land ‘which calls for patriotism and nationalism that only Sierra Leone we have and we will proud to call home.

Chairman of Artist for Peace, Hassan Daramy popularly known as (Ceejay mark) said they as artist saw the need to come together in their own way to contribute to the nations peace and in 2007 they formed the group in order for them to help in promoting and preaching peace in the presidential and parliamentary elections in the country and even after the elections period then in 2007.

“As a group our motto is peace for development and we believe that there’ll be no development without peace in Sierra Leone We tour the length and breadth of the country impacted the general public with our Go Vote No Violence campaign through songs and roads shows in all 12 districts across the country ,’’ he said.

He added that the group has continued to preach peace and development even after the 2007 elections ended stating that during the 2012 and 2018 elections respectively with support from UNIPSIL and UNDP and other various UN branches in the country.  

“We currently working on putting ideas and strategies for the coming 2023 elections because we strongly believe this is going to be the most crucial of them all given the political tension that have already been mounting. We are looking forward to more partnership and collaboration. Our major partners in promoting peace good governance and free and fair transparent elections are NEC , NCD , PPRC ,UNDP and other major institutions to name a few,’’ the Artist for Peace  Chairman lamented.

For Mohamed Kamara, a graduate in Peace and Conflict Studies from Fourah Bay College said music and arts is a great tool to disseminating information and messages adding that research have shown how useful these tools can be when well utilised thus welcoming the intervention of the artist for peace and others in the entertainment industry in promoting peace and national cohesion.

He said that consolidated peace and national cohesion is a continuous process and required all hands on deck for it to be achievable stating that for a nation that has tasted the bitterness of war, it is important for the country to guard our democratic institution and freedoms of individuals be respected in that way he said we can have a lasting peace.

“Musicians, dramatist, comedians played a crucial role in the ushering of peace in mama Sierra Leone immediately after the war and have still continued to amazing work especially the Artist for Peace.

They are one group I have so much respect for, they should be funded by government,’’ Mohamed Kamara added.  

“Guarding our peace is a moral duty and it is our responsibility to do so, lets us make Sierra Leone peaceful and united for our future generation and generations yet unborn. As a nation we have come a long way, let us be patriotic and nationalistic and know that we only have one Sierra Leone and there is no other one’’

*This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone.

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Kenya is producing only 20,000 metric tonnes of honey annually
March 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya is currently facing a shortage of honey, forcing it to rely on neighbouring Tanzania to sustain its honey demand.

According to Kenya’s National Farmers Information Service, the country is only producing 20,000 metric tonnes instead of an approximation of 100,000 metric tonnes per year.

Due to the decline in honey production in the East African nation, the rise of cheap and adulterated honey from unscrupulous traders both locally and internationally has been reported.

Such honey is said to be laced with additives, eroding consumers’ confidence.

Excessive use of insecticide by farmers and heavy deforestation are the main causes of deficit production in honey in Kenya, said agriculture experts.

They averred that excess insecticides and cutting down trees have led to a decrease in the number of bees.

The government’s large-scale spraying operation to contain locusts is also believed to have killed thousands of bees.

“The chemicals are also killing bees which are also insects and this will definitely have effect on honey production in the country as bees are critical in pollination,” said the director of the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) center in Naivasha, Dr. Evans Ilatsia.

To address the challenge, the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) has partnered with Premier Foods Limited to build the capacity for farmers involved in bee farming for sustainable honey production.

Through the partnership, KALRO will also invent technologies to enhance honey production and tackle post-harvest challenges.

The CEO of Premier Foods Limited, Joseph Choge, expressed his confidence that farmers would produce higher and better quality yields under the project.

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Malawi: COVID 19 positivity rates see massive drop
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

Health worker attending to COVID 19 patients in Malawi.Photo credit Thoko Chikondi/AP
Health worker attending to COVID 19 patients in Malawi.Photo credit Thoko Chikondi/AP

Malawi is just percent away from easing most of the Covid19 restrictions as the rate of positivity has lowered to 7 percent now in at least two weeks.

President Lazarus Chakwera, announced two weeks ago when rates stood at around 15 percent that ‘life would be normalizing’ when the situation would at least reach 5 percent in terms of positivity.

By January this year, infection and deaths kept skyrocketing, a thing that saw government make continuous alterations to the measures including mandatory wearing of face masks in public.

Government also ordered place of recreation to only operate for about six hours and school’s closure before the order is now lifted and learners are now back to school.

Until now, there have been about 32 thousand confirmed cases nearly a year after the first case.

Slightly over 1 thousand people have died and 19 thousand people have recovered.

Currently, there are about 11 thousand active infections.

The latest drops come as the Southern African nation is due to receive AstraZeneca Vaccine this Friday. It is expected to get about 1.5 million doses which places health workers as a priority.

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Electric motorbikes now available in Kenya
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Tuesday launched a pilot electric motorcycles project in Kenya.

The project aiming to reduce air pollution, improve national energy security and create green jobs was launched at Karura Forest in Kenya’s capital.

The pilot will help policymakers develop the right policy framework to see a sustainable shift to low emissions electric mobility in Kenya.

During the launch, UNEP’s Head of Sustainable Mobility, Rob de Jong, reiterated that they had partnered with Kenya Power, Kisumu County, Friends of Karura, and Power Hive to ensure the project is successful.

On her part, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya said Kenya is importing more motorcycles than cars, doubling its fleet every 7-8 years, noting they are generally inefficient and poorly maintained polluting motorcycles.

“Kenya’s electricity is very green, in 2019 more than 80% was generated by hydro, solar, geothermal, and wind. Shifting to electric bikes in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere will reduce costs, air pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, as well as create jobs,” said Joyce Msuya.

The project kicked off with 49 e-books and is expected to expand in the future. The motorcycles were donated by TAILG, a Chinese company that signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UN Environment to support the latter’s electric mobility work.

Compared to others, e-bikes have a low operating cost, lack a clutch, and have a speed limit of 45km/h.

According to the UN organization, motorbikes’ demand is rising, with stakeholders expecting approximately half a billion motorcycles.

It also added that motorcycles are the largest source of self-employment for urban youth, saying shifting towards electric mobility instead of fuel-based mobility will help the youth maximize their daily earnings.

There were 1.5 million registered motorcycles in Kenya in 2018, and by 2030 the number is expected to hit over 5 million.

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Kenya’s anti-pornography Bill facing opposition from atheists
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Harrison Mumia - President, Atheists In Kenya.Photo credit Facebook
Harrison Mumia – President, Atheists In Kenya.Photo credit Facebook

The Atheists in Kenya Society have vehemently opposed the proposed Bill calling to criminalize adult content in the country.

The group’s chair Harrison Mumia said the Bill being pushed by lawmaker Aden Duale is driven by religious bias.

Mumia argued that the move would only result in a boom for the pirated content industry.

He maintained that the proposed ban would not solve the problem and instead asked the government to focus on educating the youth on issues about sex.

“It will probably increase the sale of pirated porn. Instead of banning porn sites, we propose the introduction of mandatory sex education as part of our education curriculum,” he noted.

The Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes (Amendment) Act, 2020 illegalizes downloading, distributing, transmitting, disseminating, and circulating pornographic content banned.

The Bill also proposes the introduction of harsh penalties for any violations.

Any person found in possession of pornographic materials on their phones or computer system or publishes the same on the internet will be liable to a ksh20 million fine or a jail term not less than 20 years.

The Bill is set for publication and introduction in the National Assembly for consideration this week.

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ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM ELEVATED TO CHAIRMAN & CEO OF MOTOWN RECORDS
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

ICONIC LABEL MOVES INTO 2021 WITH RENEWED CREATIVE INDEPENDENCE  WITHIN UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP.

Ethiopia Habtemariam
Ethiopia Habtemariam

Santa Monica, CA – March 1, 2021 — Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music-based entertainment company, announced today that Ethiopia Habtemariam, who has served as President of Motown since 2014, has been elevated to Chairman and CEO of the label, reporting directly to UMG Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge. In connection with Habtemariam’s promotion, Motown will have greater creative and commercial independence to advance its groundbreaking mission of artistic, social and entrepreneurial empowerment — giving voice to the sound of youth culture for more than six decades.  

Since joining Motown, Habtemariam oversaw the label’s relocation to Los Angeles from New York in 2014 and its subsequent resurgence. Under her leadership, Motown continues its traditions of artist development and forging dynamic partnerships with creative and entrepreneurial entities including Atlanta-based Quality Control Music (QC). The QC partnership has resulted in global superstars including City Girls, Migos, Lil Baby and Lil Yachty, with QC growing to become one of today’s leading music and entertainment companies. In 2020 Lil Baby’s My Turn was the highest selling album of the year with his single, “The Bigger Picture,” earning two Grammy nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

In making this announcement, Sir Lucian Grainge said, “Motown is such an important voice and, just as when it was founded by Berry Gordy, its impact continues to be felt around the world. Motown’s resurgence and powerful partnerships under Ethiopia’s leadership has advanced the label’s legacy as home to some of today’s biggest hitmakers and most meaningful voices in music.” 

Habtemariam said, “It’s an incredible honor to represent and define what Motown is today. I’ve always understood the power of music and the responsibility I have, not only to continue to be an advocate for artists and creators, but to forge new paths for entrepreneurs and to lift up our next generation of executives around the world. I’d like to thank Lucian for his constant support and guidance over the years; my Motown team for all they have done and continue to do; the Capitol team for their help in building Motown over these past six years; Clarence Avant who has always taught me about the power of responsibility; and to Mr. Berry Gordy, for his faith in me to carry on his legacy.”  

In 2014, Sir Lucian appointed Habtemariam as President of Motown Records and Executive Vice President of Capitol Music Group. Charged with furthering Motown’s unique stance as a cultural leader and bringing a twenty-first century definition to that pursuit of Black excellence, Habtemariam has revitalized the storied label that is home to partners and hitmakers including Blacksmith Records (Ted When, Vince Staples), QC (Bankroll Freddie, City Girls, Duke Deuce, Layton Greene, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty and Migos) and Since the 80s (Asiahn, Njomza), along with artists Erykah Badu, Kem and Tiana Major9, among many others. Tiana Major9, who joined Motown’s roster in the beginning of 2019, is currently nominated for a Grammy (Best R&B Song) for “Collide” with EARTHGANG, which was featured on the critically acclaimed QUEEN & SLIM soundtrack.

Prior to joining Motown, Habtemariam was President of Urban Music & Co-Head of Creative at Universal Music Publishing Group, where she developed the careers of some of the most significant songwriters/producers in music today.

Founded in 1959 by Mr. Berry Gordy, Motown Records created a worldwide platform, crafting relationships and a path for creative Black entrepreneurship. For more than sixty years, Motown Records has been the ideal for Black entrepreneurs around the world – a beacon of transformative, inter-generational success led by forward-thinking leaders and executives who introduced the world to artists including Another Bad Creation, Ashanti, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, DeBarge, India Arie, Queen Latifah, Michael Jackson, Michael McDonald, Marvin Gaye, Rick James, The Commodores, The Jackson Five, The Supremes, The Temptations and Zhané.

About Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company.

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S. Sudan: Worrisome Trend as more dead bodies test positive for COVID-19
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Members of Chinese medical experts share experience with frontline health care workers at the South Sudan's main COVID-19 testing center, the Public Health Laboratory in Juba, South Sudan, on Aug. 21, 2020. Photo (Xinhua/Gale Julius)
Members of Chinese medical experts share experience with frontline health care workers at the South Sudan’s main COVID-19 testing center, the Public Health Laboratory in Juba, South Sudan, on Aug. 21, 2020. Photo (Xinhua/Gale Julius)

Juba – The trend is very worrisome as more dead bodies test positive for Covid 19 pandemic and the number of cases continue to surge in East African’s youngest nation.

South Sudan, gained her independence from Sudan in July 2011 and still has a fragile health system and centers to contain the spread of COVID 19 pandemic. It is only Juba’s capital that have some machines for testing the virus.

The Ministry of Health said nine (9) dead bodies tested positive for coronavirus last week after a posthumous examination was carried out at the military mortuary in Juba’s capital.

The Public Health Emergency Operations Center said the public health laboratory is confirming more coronavirus death posthumously, blamed to negligence by the public to take their loved one for Covid 19 test while feeling unwell.

Dr. Angelo Goup stated that they are taking swabs and checking every horrible suspicious death.

“We did tests at the mortuary and 9 tested positive posthumously.” It’s important for everyone to know if anyone is sick in your family. Take them to the hospital, don’t stay with a sick person at home,” said Dr. Goup, during the weekly Covid – 19 press briefing on Sunday.

As of Monday, South Sudan had reported 134 new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 8,144.

The number of fatalities due to the virus remains at 95 as one new death registered on Monday. So far, 4,217 Cases have recovered.

The Ministry of Health said it has conducted 111,214 tests since the virus was first confirmed in April, last year in South Sudan.

The country’s health ministry cautioned the public to take the pandemic seriously and follow the necessary precautions, adhering to social distancing, wear facemask and other anti-coronavirus measures as the number of cases continues to surge globally.

The Health Center, however appealed to the public to take those feeling unwell to the hospital to ascertain their Covid19 status but activists said the hospitals [doing testing for the virus] are being privatized by government with high charges, in which a vulnerable people cannot afford.

The activists called on the government to carry-out Covid 19 testing free of charge so that everyone can know her/his COVID 19 status and that can help in containing the spread of the virus in the restive country, blighted by six years of conflict.

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Kenya plans to contain pornography
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

It will be illegal for anyone to possess or publish pornography in any computer system or data storage device in Kenya should the proposed stringent laws to curb porn in the country sail through.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Act, 2020, introduced by lawmaker Aden Duale seeks to criminalize the sharing of pornographic content on mobile phones and the internet.  

The Bill also calls for the prohibition of sharing and publication of such materials.

Mr. Duale further wants the government to block access to porn websites to people within the East Africa nation.

“A person shall not knowingly download pornography, distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, lend for gain, exchange, barter, sell or offer for sale, let on hire or offer to let on hire, offer in any way, or make available in any way from a telecommunications apparatus,” the Bill reads in part. 

The proposed law further calls for the introduction of harsh penalties for any violations.

Any person found in possession of pornographic materials on their phones or computer system or publishes the same on the internet will be liable to a ksh20 million fine or a jail term not less than 20 years.

The Bill is set for publication and introduction in the National Assembly for consideration this week.

It is projected to be a big blow to artistes, video music producers, advertisers, and individual computer users.

It is also believed the anticipated laws will tackle harassment by persons flooding others’ phones with pornographic material and tame explosive teen pregnancy, which the majority have attributed to access to pornography websites.

If approved, Kenya will join countries such as North Korea, Australia, China, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Oman, Eritrea, the United Kingdom, and UAE, which censor such contents.

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Kenya:Morans set to kick off early preparation ahead of FIBA AfroBasket Championships
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Buoyed by an exemplary performance at the just concluded FIBA AfroBasket qualifiers held in Yaounde, Cameroon, Kenya’s men basket team are scheduled to start early training.

Kenya Basketball Federation chair Paul Otula revealed the local-based players would report to the training camp in a fortnight to prepare for FIBA AfroBasket Championships.

The showpiece is slated for August 24-September 4 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Assistant coach Sadat Gay will manage the players in the camp until the head coach until May when the head coach Liz Mills will return from Holiday in Australia.

“She will leave behind the programme to be followed by other coaches, organise zoom meetings and advice accordingly. With technology, nothing is impossible. We will be trying out every player and will only pick the best in each and every position,” said Paul Otula.

Otula also noted plans to extend training camp and organize friendly matches to ensure the players are adequately prepared for the tournament.

The chairman said the team’s management would have to choose wisely good players from a pool of 30, both playing in the local and foreign leagues.

He further challenged the players who did not make it to the squad during qualifiers to pull up their shocks to increase their chances of selection into the final squad.

Kenya qualified for the FIBA AfroBasket Championships for the first time in 28 years after stunning the African giant Angola.

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Mental assessment for Kenyan woman who beheaded son
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya court on Monday ordered a mental test for a 23-year-old woman who beheaded his son who refused to suckle.

The accused appeared before Principal Magistrate Mary Ochieng but was directed to undergo the test pending plea taking within the next seven days.

Night Akoth Otieno is accused of beheading her one-year-old Briton Ochieng on Saturday night of February 27, in Ndhiwa, southwestern Kenya.

Reports indicated the suspect used a machete to sliced his son’s head after he refused to breastfeed several times, leaving the head and the body lying separately in a pool of blood.

She was arrested on the fateful night after the residents alerted the local authorities.

Upon the interrogation, the local authorities said the woman confessed to having beheaded her toddler after refusing to breastfeed.

“We do not know the main reason why the woman killed her son. However, she is saying she killed him because she tried several times to breastfeed the baby, but he declined,” revealed the local authorities.

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Kenyan MP’s son dies of Covid-19
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

 late Kinyanjui Ngunjiri was aged 32.Photo courtesy
late Kinyanjui Ngunjiri was aged 32.Photo courtesy

Kenyan legislator Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri’s son, has succumbed to the novel virus.

Arthur Kinyanjui Ngunjuri died, 32, at a Mombasa hospital, according to the family source.

“It is hard to accept that you are gone. Rest in peace my last born Son Arthur Kinyanjui Kimani,” the MP posted on social media.

The deceased has been on a life support machine since December 2020, the family revealed.

Until his death, Arthur Kinyanjui was an entrepreneur with a construction company based at the Coastal region.

Before venturing into business, he was a Safari rally enthusiast who often took part in competitions in and outside the country.

Kenyan leaders led by Deputy President William Ruto have sent their condolences messages to the family and friends of MP Ngujiri.

“Arthur Kinyanjui Ngunjiri, a brilliant, promising and hardworking young man, who thrived in business and farming. We pray to God that the Ngunjiri family, friends and the people of Bahati Constituency find strength and comfort during this difficult time. Rest In peace,” said Ruto.

As of Sunday, February 28, Kenya had reported more than 105,000 Covid-19 cases from cumulative tests of 1 298,838.  More than 1,000 people have also died, and above 86,000 have recovered.

The first consignment of the Covid-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in Kenya on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

 Kenya will receive 1.02 million doses of Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine on Tuesday, and priority will be given to healthcare workers countrywide.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said the vaccine would arrive in the country through Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility.

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Kenya:Jambojet, KTB sign a deal to promote local tourism
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The Jambojet, a Kenyan low-cost airline, and the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) have struck a pact to enhance tourism growth in the country.

The deal is part of Jambojet’s recovery strategy, where it is looking to diversify its revenue generation through advertising placements.

“Last year we launched the ‘Now Travel Ready’ campaign to encourage domestic tourism as part of COVID-19 recovery. This partnership with KTB will further drive this conversation in a bid to revive the sector,” said Captain Michael Kwinga, Head of Operations, Jambojet.

The Kenya Airways’ subsidiary offers various advertising options, including the Jambojet website, boarding passes, tray tables, in-flight announcements, in-flight sampling, e-newsletter, headrest covers, and itinerary flight branding.

Also in the deal is the branding of one of Jambojet’s De Havilland Dash 8-400 aircraft for one year.

KTB, through its CEO Dr. Betty Radier commended the airline for being in the forefront to ensure the growth of tourism by allowing accessibility to tourism destinations in the country.

According to Dr. Radier, the partnership is one of the ventures the board has explored to grow the tourism sector.

Between 2015-2018 Kenya’s domestic tourists’ bed-night occupancy accounted for more than 50 % of the total bed occupancy.

The launching of new travel routes is another means employed by the Jambojet to improve the economy via tourism.

In October 2020, the carrier commenced direct flights from Mombasa to Kisumu and Eldoret to enable business people and holidaymakers to travel between the three destinations with ease.

Domestic and regional travel will dominate the tourism industry in 2021 compared to international tourism, as per the Oxford Economics and global Travel report (2020-2021).

This is due to international travel restrictions imposed by governments because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Cameroon: The Fisherman’s Diary Acquired by Netflix
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Despite missing out on the final nomination for the Oscars, the Fisherman’s Diary is once more making news across the country and the world after it was acquired by Netflix.

This latest achievement for the Cameroonian movie had been teased for some time now by its frontline star Kang Quintus, who had intimated something big, will be dropping on March 1.

“After making it to the Oscars list, The Fisherman’s Diary has now become the 1st Cameroonian Film to be acquired by Netflix. This is big news for the Cameroon Film Industry and a proud moment for all Cameroonians… Many more Cameroon Films to follow,” Kang Quintus wrote.

It has been an unforgettable year for the movie after picking up various awards last year and taking the Cameroonian movie scene by storm. Last year the Fisherman’s Diary was one of the major success stories for the Cameroonian movie industry picking up awards in the country and beyond. At the Golden Movie Awards in Ghana and the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in Nigeria, the Film snapped up 10 awards, adding to awards in Instanbul, Cameroon, and a host of other countries.

And in 2021 the movie picked up from where it left off and was selected for the 93rd Oscars. Unfortunately, the film did not make the final cut.

 “The Fisherman’s Diary a big thank you to the following artists for all the Amazing Soundtracks in the movie: Ewube, Salatiel, Mr Leo, Awu, Vernyuy Tina, Fhish, Lesline, Belvia and Achuo. Details on when the film will be available on the Netflix platform will be announced soon,” Kang Quintus added.

Speaking about the development, the Executive Producer of the Film, Kang Quintus, excitedly explains, “We are happy to have made history with this film. For us, aside from being a good reward for hard work, this deal grants the opportunity for our content to reach a global audience. Hopefully, this would be the first amongst many, not just for me and the team, but for other Cameroonian filmmakers,” Kang Quintus said in a press release.

In the same press release FilmOne Entertainment Managing Director Moses Baptope said: “The Fisherman’s Diary is our first deal with a Cameroonian filmmaker. We are excited because it aligns with our visions to go beyond Nigeria, becoming a Pan-African brand that projects the best African content to the world. Netflix affords us access to a global audience, and judging by the film’s impact, and its numerous awards, we have little doubt that it will be well received the world over.”

The Cameroon film industry is gradually bringing itself to the forefront of the African movie industry. With constant film releases, and awards won, both nationally and internationally, the Cameroonian public should rest assured that they are very close to taking over in due time, and the Fisherman’s Diary is setting the pace.

An insight into The Fisherman’s Diary

The movie directed by Enah Johnscott and produced by Kang Quintus is a storey of a 12-year-old Ekah (Faith Fidel) who got inspired by Malala Yousalzai, the youngest noble prize winner.

She is determined to go to school in a village of fishermen where it is considered taboo. He drives to break this adage gets her embroiled with her father Solomon (Kang Quintus) experience with girl child education, critiqsite reported.

The film features other actors such as Ramsey Nouah, Onyama Laura, Neba Godwill, Mayohchu, Daphne Njie and Faith Fidel.

About Netflix

Netflix, Inc. is an American over-the-top content platform and production company headquartered in Los Gatos, California. The company’s primary business is a subscription-based streaming service offering online streaming from a library of films and television series, including those produced in-house. In January 2021, Netflix reached 203.7 million subscribers, including 73 million in the United States.

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2021 Mount Cameroon Race:North West Athletes Dominate Yet Again
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

Ali Mohammadou from Bui emerges victorious in the male category while Kitan Mildred wins in the female category

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Ali Mohammadou wins in the senior male category
Ali Mohammadou wins in the senior male category

Athletes from the North West Region have continued their dominance of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope. In the 26th edition organized in Buea on February 27, the winners in the senior male, senior female, junior male and female and the veteran women all came from the North West.

The ambience that the race usually witnesses before is slowly coming back with hundreds of fans coming out to watch and cheer the athletes as they ascended and descended the “chariot of the gods”.

Ali Mohammadou from the Bui Division of the North West Region finished the race first in a time of 4hrs 32mins and 24secs. In 2019, Ali Mohammadou finished in the second position while in 2020 was not amongst the top three.

Defending male champion Godlove Gabsibuin, the most successful male athlete with five titles could only finish in the second position. He did the race in 4hrs 45mins 03secs.

The third position was occupied by Fai Elvis Ndzedzeni who did the race in 4hrs 45mins 54secs.

Ali Mohammadou who wins for the first time could not hide his joy while appreciating the efforts of all those who supported him in his goal to become a champion this year.

“I started my career in 2012 hoping to become a champion one day. When you discover your talent do it even if your father and mother do not like it. When you see someone go up and come back down from the summit respect that person. This is because it is not easy to run 42km and back,” Ali Mohammadou said.

The champion Ali Mohamadou has called for an end to the present crisis that has claimed the lives of many as to him what will solve the problem is not by fighting.

“For my athletic career, I cry because of the Kumba massacre, the Ngarbuh massacre, the mbororos massacre which means it is very painful. I train in where the violence is very high and I know the pains of this crisis,” He added.

It was a closely fought battle in the women’s category from the time the ladies touched hut 2 and back. Going up it was Cheserek Agnes from Kenya who led the race past Hut Two and reached the summit of the first position. She was closely followed by Kitan Mildred as they descended while defending champion Tatah Carine was in third.

Like last year where the Kenyans dominated the ascending, their grip of the descending of Mount Fako is still proving difficult. In the descending, Kitan Mildred was able to pass Cheserek Agness and reached Bongo Square on the first position. Defending Champion Tatah Carine who ran this year under the South West Region equally passed the Kenyan and it was a two-horse race to the finish line.

Kitan Mildred slowly jugs to the finish line and was almost caught by Tatah Carine. It was, however, the year for Kitan Mildred Ntumeku who won the race, and in doing so winning for the first time. She did the race in 5hrs 21mins 45secs.

Tatah Carine came second in 5hrs 22mins 00sec. Jepkosegei Cheserek Agness who had led the race could only finish third in 5hrs 33mins 50secs.

“I want to promise my fans that they should not be discouraged that I came second. I am going back and will come up strong again,” Tatah Carine, three-time winner of the race said.

“To the young girl, it is not good for them to just stay at home idle. It is good for them to do things and discover their talents and work towards that talent to achieve their goals.”

Kitan Mildred
Kitan Mildred

Winners of the veteran women category

There was a new champion this year in the veteran women category. Nkambi Martina Ngenjang, 53-year-old from the North West Region came in the first position. She was second in the 2020 edition of the race.

Meantime, last year’s champion Nogah Brigitte, 51-year-old from the South West Region finished in the third position, while 57-year-old Mengwi Justina from the Littoral region came in third.

Junior Male winners

Mamoudou Dahiro came first

Gabsibuin Prophet Kanjoring in second and,

Wanma Walters Mbuh in third

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Cameroon: Nkafu Policy Institute Holds Webinar on Possibilities and Potentials for Peace
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Panelists at the Nkafu Policy Institute's webinar on restoring peace in Cameroon
Panelists at the Nkafu Policy Institute’s webinar on restoring peace in Cameroon

In their quest to bring solutions to the ongoing crisis in the North West and South West Regions, The Nkafu Policy Institute a think-tank at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation has organized a public dialogue with discussions centred on restoring peace in the country.

The Webinar was organized under the theme: “Searching for a Negotiated Settlement to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon: Possibilities and Potential.”

The event aimed at engaging the Cameroonian public in frank dialogue on the possibilities and challenges of getting to a negotiated settlement between the main conflict parties (government and separatists) while examining the opportunities, possibilities and potential challenges.

Speaking during the webinar, Guy Tam Bikoi said what we have in Cameroon is a governance crisis and a cultural crisis as the crisis started on legitimate causes that the Anglophone had and measures were taken by the government.

“The reason why we are in the fifth year is that neither party is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to get to that settlement. The principle of a settlement is not to have everything you requested for; but to sacrifice a little bit so the other party can get in. now we have what is called an asymmetric war and that is why we are here,” Guy Tam Bikoi stated.

He went further to indicate that there have been some positives steps taken by the government to solve the crisis and highlighted the creation of the Regional Councils. To him, “if there is real regionalism, there is an opportunity there.” “There is a standstill at the moment as there is no dialogue going on between the warring parties. The issue is to try to find a platform where the government will sit and talk with the other parties.” 

These various public dialogues are in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute which centres on carrying out independent research to provide in-depth and insightful evidence-based recommendations that advance the development of Cameroon and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

Ndifor Roland pointing out the causes of the crisis indicated that these issues were stated before but fell on deaf ears. “The six issues centred on hyper centralized state, failure of decision-makers to equitable involve different cultures and traditions, failure to keep promises made during the referendum, change of name from the United Republic to La Republic de Cameroun, the non-respect of the two official languages as being equal status,” Mr Ndifor Roland said.

Participants noted that the government needs to do more in bringing end to the crisis with the help of the international community
Participants noted that the government needs to do more in bringing end to the crisis with the help of the international community

“Those are the causes of the Anglophone crisis and whatever comes after that are just the effects. This has to be addressed through the force of argument and not the argument of force.” 

According to a release by the Nkafu Policy Institute, various attempts by the Cameroon government have proven largely inadequate in resolving the crisis sustainably. The government of Cameroon opted for a military strategy from the very beginning of the peaceful protest that quickly metamorphosed into an armed conflict. The thematic areas centred on strategies, opportunities and potentials of a negotiated settlement. Participants noticed that despite government efforts through the organization of the Major National Dialogue, the conflict has rather escalated, thereby highlighting the pitfalls of the said dialogue.

Responding to a question from the moderator Mr Ndifor Roland wondered who is bringing the negotiated settlement. He went on to Identify the various stakeholders to bring a negotiated settlement as the general public; CSOs, the entire Francophone community, the international community, media and communication professionals and lastly the government of Cameroon.

Bertille Onana, Moderator
Bertille Onana, Moderator

“The government of Cameroon is last because they have the power to end the ongoing crisis. The government organized the Major National Dialogue but who were those that were there for it. There is a necessity to identify the stakeholders who are looking for the solution,” Mr Roland Ndifor added.

“When we identify them each of them has a role to play and above all communication is important. You cannot solve a problem that does not exist and up till now, the problem does not seem to exist. When we create the reality that the problem exists then we will know what to do.”

The Anglophone crisis that is in its fifth year has claimed around 3,000 lives, displaced half a million people within Cameroon, compelled another 40,000 to flee to Nigeria, deprived 700,000 children of schooling in their home areas and left one in three people in the Anglophone regions in need of humanitarian aid, according to the International Crisis Group.

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New Director General of WTO: Mission is Possible for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Sayed Attia*

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first of African descent to be appointed to oversee the rules of the world trading system
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first of African descent to be appointed to oversee the rules of the world trading system

Today, March 1, 2021, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala , a former Nigerian minister of finance and a World Bank veteran will take office  as the new director of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Dr.Ngozi is the first of African descent to be appointed to oversee the rules of the world trading system.

Fortunately the key world trade players, China, USA and EU expressed their support for Dr.Ngozi, the issue that sends a positive signal that there some sort of agreement between these parties. According to Reuters, the U.S delegate at WTO, Washington is committed to working closely with Dr.Ngozi and be a “constructive partner”. Furthermore, China’s delegation pledged “full support” to her and the EU trade commissioner said he looked for forward working closely with her. However, Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff heralded the arrival of a new era of WTO leadership but cautioned that “member enthusiasm, optimism and hope need to be translated into concrete action.”, according to Inside, US trade.

Amongst the diversified fields of expertise of Dr. Ngozi is her chairmanship of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance which is a public–private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries. This background will imperatively constitute a major factor in the policy of the WTO amid the current challenge of Covid-19 pandemic. According to African Business Magazine, Dr. Ngozi assured to be the only candidate working at the intersection of trade and public health, which she says will enable the trade system to better deliver Vaccines and medical supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic. The facilitation of movement of Vaccine from the manufacturing countries to the needy countries is the top priority at the moment. All WTO member states should collaborate and cooperate in securing the easy movement of Vaccine across the world. 

The priorities of the WTO at this critical moment are numerous but they are not insurmountable. These priorities include completion of fisheries subsidies negations, starting negotiations on E-commerce to sustain the growth of the digital economy, and facilitate safe, secure and efficient cross-border e-payments and data flows, dispute settlement reform, and health measures at the time of diseases, such Covid-19 pandemic. As an example of the measures that be discussed in the health measures is to waive some intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines to speed up their rollout to poor countries which do not have the affordability and access to medical products. Furthermore, there is a dire need to relax intellectual property (IP) rules in a manner that allow immediate scale-up of vaccine production and provision of medical products.

Global trade collapsed last year as border closures and supply disruptions interrupted the international provision of goods, therefore, the recovery requires improving business environment and multilateral cooperation to support the world’s economic recovery from COVID-19. At this critical moment, the international trade is in a dire need for more liberalization in this time more than any time before. The outbreak of COVID-19 had negative consequences on the global economy, therefore, recovering the dynamism of international trade is the sole guarantor for mitigating these consequences.

Sayed Attia is an International Trade Expert based in Cairo, Egypt.
Sayed Attia is an International Trade Expert based in Cairo, Egypt.

While the stage is being setting for a new era for the WTO and accordingly to the multilateral trading system, the situation now is better than a year before, thanks to the efforts made to manufacture of the Vaccine for Covid-19 pandemic and making it available , although on a limited scale. The global economy and trade will recover once matters back to normal. This recovery, however, is conditioned to what extent the WTO perform its full responsibility in securing ease movement of trade between member states. The WTO members to benefit from the vast experience of Dr.Ngozi in Gavi, on one hand and the commitments of large producers of Covid-19 Vaccine , such as China,  to accelerate overcoming the negative consequences of such a pandemic, on the other hand.

At the end, a strong WTO is vital for the world to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.  WTO faces a great many challenges, therefore working collectively will make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today. The mission of Dr.Ngozi as a new Director General of WTO is difficult but is not impossible as long as there a sincere will of all members to take the organization ahead. 

*Sayed Attia is an International Trade Expert based in Cairo, Egypt. This article reflects the writer’s own point of view. He has a progressive work experience as international trade practitioner of 24 years. He has a wide experience in trade remedies and trade policy formulation.  He has trade negotiations experience at regional, continental and international levels with a deep conviction of the importance of trade as an engine for inclusive and sustainable development.  Having a firm belief that deep industrialization, efficient internal infrastructure and simple, clear, trade facilitation, E-commerce and digitalization are key pillars for trade promotion. MA; MBA, and international trade PhD candidate with a large number of publications in trade, development and industrialization.

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Zimbabwe’s human rights lawyers urge govt to promote human rights and democracy
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has on World NGO Day called upon all members of the public to celebrate the contributions of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) towards the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and inclusive development across the globe.

World NGO Day is commemorated every year on the 27th of February, and
it aims to pay tribute to the NGOs, HRDs and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which perform the vital, but often unnoticed, work of defending human rights, promoting democracy and providing social assistance to the most vulnerable members of society.

The day is also an opportunity for states to reflect on the steps that they should take in order to create an enabling and welcoming environment for NGOs. The people who work in NGOs and CSOs are often exposed to great personal risk because of the systematic harassment they experience at the hands of authorities all around the world.

World NGO Day therefore seeks to celebrate the bravery of these people
and call for an end to their persecution everywhere.

NGOs and CSOs enjoy special recognition from international bodies such
as the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU). NGOs can obtain
consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
and this status will grant NGOs access to ECOSOC, its many subsidiary
bodies, the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations and
special events organized by the President of the General Assembly. The
AU has a Civil Society Division that has a mandate of ensuring that
the contributions of civil society permeate all aspects of AU
principles, policies and programmes.

NGOs that have consultative status with ECOSOC can be accredited to participate in the sessions of the Human Rights Council (HRC) as
observers. This observer status grants NGOs access to the HRC
secretariat, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR).

Observer status also allows NGOs to attend and observe proceedings of
the HRC, submit written statements, make oral submissions and
participate in debates and panel meetings. The African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights also grants observer status to NGOs. The
Commission relies on NGOs to draw attention to violations of its
Charter by state parties, bring communications on behalf of
individuals and increase awareness about the Commission’s activities.

NGOs protect and promote democracy, provide humanitarian assistance,
provide social services, raise awareness about important societal
issues and provide technical expertise that promotes sustainable
development.

NGOs play an indispensable role in the promotion and survival of
democracy worldwide. They play the crucial function of fighting the
abuse of power by states. They expose the violation of human rights by
state actors and take legal action in order to obtain redress for the
victims of the human rights violations.

 It is reported that the legal action taken by NGOs also serves to fight state impunity andpressure governments to desist from the violation of human rights. ZLHR, for example, works on anti-impunity cases that are meant to hold state actors accountable for human rights violations.

 It is added that the anti-impunity cases that ZLHR works on have the dual purpose of obtaining relief for the victims of state-sanctioned violence and of influencing the authorities to desist from violent practices that lead
to expensive lawsuits. NGOs also promote democracy by spreading
knowledge about human rights and constitutional rights within
communities.

The advocacy work and litigation work by NGOs serves to ensure that
governments remain accountable to their electorates. NGOs also provide
human resources, medicines and food to victims of natural disasters
across the globe.

Apart from humanitarian assistance, they also provide resources and
special services to persons living with disabilities, the elderly,
vulnerable women and children. NGOs also provide technical expertise
that can be used by governments to develop programmes that will
promote development or address pressing societal issues.

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, NGOs have
played an instrumental role in the design and implementation of
responses to the pandemic. In addition, they have been involved in
providing direct health services to communities as well as providing
social assistance to the most vulnerable members of society.

NGOs have documented human rights violations as many states have used
the COVID-19 pandemic as a convenient excuse for cracking down on
human rights and democracy.

NGOs face threats to their existence despite the vital contributions
they make to society.

States are using laws to restrict the space of operation of NGOs.

In Zimbabwe, members of NGOs and CSOs are often victims of systematic
harassment by authorities in the form of arbitrary arrests,
intimidation, criminalization of civil society work and character
assassination. In addition, the rights to assembly and association are
being restricted by Zimbabwean authorities, which has the effect of
hampering the activities of NGOs and CSOs.

ZLHR therefore calls upon the Zimbabwean authorities to cease all
actions that serve to restrict the operational space and work of NGOs.
In addition, ZLHR condemns the systematic prosecution, harassment and
intimidation of human rights defenders (HRDs) and members of the NGO
sector by the Zimbabwean authorities.

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