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International Trade Centre Joined Forces with ATIGS 2018
November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments
ATIGS 2018 and the Sustainable Development Goals
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, November 27, 2017/ — GAA Exhibitions & Conferences, organizers of ATIGS 2018 (www.ATIGS2018.com) today announced that the International Trade Centre (ITC) (www.intracen.org) has joined forces with the Africa Trade and Investment Global Summit (ATIGS), to advance the event goals and objectives.

ATIGS 2018 will be held under the main theme “Driving Trade, Unleashing Investment and Enhancing Economic Development: the Gateway to African Markets”, ATIGS 2018 goals and objectives are aligned with two of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): (SDGs 8 and 17).

The vision of ATIGS is built on the model of rotating the location of the summit every two years through a bidding process and organizing country specific ATIGS in between, with upcoming editions in Washington D.C – 2018, Dubai-2020; Beijing -2022; Brussels-2024, Addis Ababa -2026; and, South America-2028. Several high-level speakers have already confirmed to grace ATIGS 2018 from South Africa, Ghana, USA, Nigeria, UAE, Australia, China, and Kenya among others.

The Preliminary Featured Sessions will include: Africa and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, AU Agenda 2063: The Africa Future We Want, Stepping Up the Pace: African Development Bank ‘High 5’, African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), Doing Business in Africa tracks, Investing in Africa tracks, and Investor talks, Public Private Partnership, Government Keynotes, Regional Focus Discussions, Countries Focus Briefings, and Industrialize Africa tracks, among others.

“ATIGS 2018 is designed to contribute to AGOA, Trade Africa, World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), SDGs Agenda 2030 and AU Agenda 2063 by playing an important contribution in enabling companies all around the world and global investors to access African markets as a one-stop shop facilitating international trade and investment partners to support all internationally agreed sustainable development goals and objectives” said Bako Ambianda, director GAA Exhibitions & Conferences.

ATIGS 2018 – www.ATIGS2018.com, will bring together new and established partners from around the world under one roof in to increase business ties and partnerships, highlight and showcase trade and investment opportunities across Africa and enable companies from around the world to expand or establish operations in Africa.

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TP Mazembe hold SuperSport to retain Confederation Cup
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Mark Gleeson*

TP Mazembe got the draw they needed at SuperSport United as they successfully defended the African Confederation Cup

TP Mazembe got the draw they needed at SuperSport United as they successfully defended the African Confederation Cup

Congolese giants TP Mazembe held out for a goalless draw in the second leg of the African Confederation Cup final in a cold and rainy Atteridgeville on Saturday to overcome South Africa’s SuperSport United and successfully defend their crown.

Both teams finished with 10 men at the end of a tempestuous tie which Mazembe won 2-1 on aggregate, after home success in the first leg in Lubumbashi last Sunday.

It means Mazembe win a continental title for the third successive year after taking the 2015 Champions League as well.

They played the better tactical game and showed their experience against the South Africans who were in their first ever final.

Mazembe’s line-up had three changes from the first leg in Lubumbashi that suggested they had come to defend their tenuous lead, but came out of the starting blocks in a much more attacking approach than that of their hosts.

They caught SuperSport hopping with their approach and should have been 2-0 up inside the opening quarter-hour, missing two sitters right in front of goal that – had they gone in – would have certainly killed off the tie.

After 10 minutes Rainford Kalaba beat the offside trap and was one-on-one with SuperSport goalkeeper Ronwen Williams but rushed his shot and blasted over the bar.

If that miss was not bad enough, there was further horror for the sizeable contingent of Mazembe supporters from the large expatriate Congolese community who live in South Africa.

Kalaba made a dashing run down the right with a quick burst of pace before cutting the ball back to striker Ben Malongo who slipped at the vital moment, but it fell perfectly for Daniel Adjei behind him, only for the Ghanaian import to somehow fluff his shot just wide when it seemed easier to score.

It took SuperSport at least 30 minutes to settle but as the rain continued to fall they began to win the midfield battles and set up chances.

Centre back Tefu Mashamaite, who had come forward for a free kick, was just offside as his diving header went into the net only to be correctly disallowed by the Senegalese officiating team.

In the second half, Mazembe only allowed SuperSport one clear shot on goal, dealt with competently by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.

Mazembe central defender Kasango Chongo got sent off with 10 minutes to go but SuperSport lost their numerical advantage when Thuso Phala got a straight red for a dangerous tackle.

*BBC

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US former Vice President Al Gore to host 24-hour live broadcast about climate activism around the world
November 26, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Former US Vice President Al Gore

Former US Vice President Al Gore

  Former Vice President of the USA  and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore will on December 4 to 5, 2017 host 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality, a 24-hour live broadcast focused on the climate crisis and its solutions.

  According to a spokesperson, this year’s program will look at the extraordinary climate activism happening all over the world and encourage the millions watching to speak up for solutions.

 

 The Climate Reality Project announced that the seventh-annual 24 Hours of Reality broadcast , a star-studded, 24-hour live event focused on the climate crisis and its solutions will take place December 4-5, 2017.

 Hosted by former US Vice President and Climate Reality Founder and Chairman Al Gore, 24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will explore the extraordinary climate activism happening all across the planet, encouraging the millions watching to use their voices to speak up for solutions, science, and truth at this decisive point in history. It will be carried by broadcast partners globally, and streamed live online at 24HoursofReality.org.

  It is also reported that a variety of international celebrities, musicians, elected officials, advocates, and other special guests will join the broadcast, including musicians Annie Lennox, Avicii ft Sandro Cavazza – ‘Without You’ performed by Sandro Cavazza, Belinda Carlisle, Billy Bragg, Ellie Goulding, Iggy Pop, Jason Mraz, Jean-Michel Jarre, Maná, Nile Rodgers, Rag’n’Bone Man and Young Paris; actors including Calum Worthy, Helen Hunt and Patrick Adams; elected officials and thought leaders including New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, California Governor Jerry Brown, World Economic Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab; and television personalities including HGTV’s Property Brothers’ Jonathan Scott and Sam Champion.

“We stand at a pivotal moment in our mission to solve the climate crisis,” said Al Gore. “While the Paris Agreement gave the world a critical framework for solving the crisis, it’s up to us – concerned citizens of all backgrounds – to keep this progress going, no matter what actions the Trump Administration takes. This year’s 24 Hours of Reality broadcast will highlight empowered citizens taking action across the world, and will inspire those watching to use their own voices to be part of the solution.”

In the US, where the federal government has retreated from the climate fight, citizens have stepped up to push for practical solutions everywhere and in every way possible. In April, 200,000 Americans marched on the White House to demonstrate broad, bipartisan support for climate action. When President Trump announced his plan to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, hundreds of thousands of citizens, business leaders, mayors, governors, and more across the nation stood up to say, “we are still in.”

24 Hours of Reality: Be the Voice of Reality will highlight these and many other voices and share inspiring stories of political, business, community, and personal activism that illustrate how we can all make a difference, right now, when our planet needs us most.

“This year’s theme – Be the Voice of Reality – is a call to action for anyone concerned about the climate crisis and everyone who wants to secure a safer future for our children and grandchildren,” said Ken Berlin, Climate Reality President and CEO. “24 Hours of Reality is a reminder of how far we have come and the work that remains, and we hope to encourage people to join the movement and speak out for climate action at all levels of society – from local city halls to the chambers of Congress.”

The program will begin on Monday, December 4 at 6:00 PM EST and will be broadcast live from New York City’s Roosevelt Island. The broadcast will travel around the globe highlighting stories of climate activism in six regions: North America, Oceania, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Europe, and Central and South America. Al Gore will also share stories and statistics from his slideshow presentation made famous in the film An Inconvenient Truth and the recently-released An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power.

Previous 24 Hours of Reality events have each focused on a different theme related to the climate crisis. Last year’s broadcast, 24 Hours of Reality: The Road Forward, examined both the challenges and opportunities for climate action and clean energy in the world’s 24 largest carbon-emitting countries.

For more information, one can  visit 24hoursofreality.org and watch a preview of the broadcast at http://bit.ly/2jt1plY.

  Founded by Nobel Laureate and former US Vice President Al Gore, The Climate Reality Project is one of the world’s leading organizations dedicated to mobilizing action on climate change. With a global movement of more than 5 million strong and a grassroots network of trained Climate Reality Leader activists, it is  spreading the truth about the climate crisis and building popular support for clean energy solutions.

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Miracles and Testimonies on Sale
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Fr. Wilfred Emeh*

Fr. Wilfred Emeh

Fr. Wilfred Emeh

It is baffling to watch or read how modern-day preachers and prophets anticipate miracles and testimonies, almost as a form of advertisement for their ministries or churches. On social media platforms, miracle seekers are quick to ‘share’, ‘like’, or type ‘Amen’ on a story in exchange for some spiritual favor. In these transactions, people are expected to fulfill certain conditions if they wish to experience a miracle, have a breakthrough, or obtain any favor.  I recall one of my pastoral visits in Cameroon: a knock at the door brought me into a home where the entire family was glued to “Testimonies and Miracles Show”. As soon as I stepped in, someone changed the channel! This didn’t surprise me at all, because I was aware of the proliferation of healing and prophetic ministries, and I knew that more people were becoming desperate in search for this or that favor from God. Spiritual prostitutes abound, moving from church to church in search for ready-made answers to their problems.

In the case of Cameroon, Pentecostalism gathered momentum in the 1980s, a time of intensifying economic crisis. To console their congregations, the preachers’ messages pivoted on a prosperity gospel, with refrains like, “Poverty is not my portion,” “Suffering is not my portion,” “Death is not my portion,” and so on. Scripture is often twisted to back up such claims, for example in the verse, “Christ became poor so that we should become rich” (1Cor 8:9). But this verse doesn’t refer to material wealth. Paul means richness in Christ, as expressed in Philippians 3:8, “I count all things as loss compared to the surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ.” This richness is also summed up in the beatitudes, in which the spiritually rich are those who are poor in spirit, pure of heart, meek, humble, peacemakers, merciful, and so on (cf. Mtt 5:1-12).

Recently, I watched a video clip circulated by many Catholics, in which televangelist Benny Hinn said, “Many miracles are taking place in the Catholic Church.” Though the evangelist is right, true worshipers don’t need miraculous signs or testimonies to substantiate their faith in God. Oh yes, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe” (Jn 20:29). Christ never, ever took delight in commercializing miracles, healings, or testimonies. This wasn’t because he didn’t have social media; it was because Christ was neither out to sell miracles nor to self-promote. Instead, sick persons who were healed by Jesus were often instructed not to tell anyone about it (cf. Mk 1:40-45; Mk 7:36; Mtt 8:4). Similarly, after the miraculous multiplication of five loaves and two fish, a huge crowd started following Jesus, but he denounced them for their wrong motives when he said, “Truly, I say to you, you look for me not because you have seen through the signs, but because you ate bread and were satisfied. Work then, not for perishable food, but for the lasting food which gives eternal life” (Jn 6:26-27). This “lasting food” was his own Body and Blood, which he would offer before his transition to heaven (Mk 14:22).

Decidedly, miracles were not the centerpiece of Christ’s message. It was, rather, calling sinners to repentance. Even the raising of Lazarus was only an illustration of Jesus’ power over life and death (Jn 11:38-53). After all, Lazarus would eventually die. That’s why Christ explains, after the resuscitation of Lazarus, “I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me will never die” (Jn 11:25). Similarly, all the physical healings and miracles of Jesus were only signs to show that, in Him (Jesus), the Kingdom of God has come. “The kingdom of God is at hand, repent and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Therefore, miracles were not a substantive part of Jesus’ ministry, they were only signs pointing to the Kingdom. Understandably, when the disciples rejoiced that they had cast out demons, Jesus said to them, “Do not rejoice that the demons bow to you, rather rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Lk 10:19-20). He tells his followers to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness and every other thing shall be added unto us (Mtt 6:33).

In no way does the Kingdom-driven message suggest that Jesus doesn’t care about our physical health, social welfare, economy, and so on. Rather, he implores us to make distinctions between the ephemeral and the eternal, so we can set our priorities right—where your treasure is, there your heart will be too (Mtt 6:21). Remember, the booming economy can crumble within the twinkle of an eye, just like the physically healthy can die in an instant. What, then, shall it profit anyone if he gets all the healing, testimonies, and worldly success he asks for, yet loses his soul? There is much more to abundant life in Christ than mere signs and wonders.

Among other reasons, ignorance and the denial of God’s will constitute the main reasons that many people fall for the miracle and healing business today. Scripture rightly says, “My people perish from lack of knowledge” (Hos 4:6). With an unprecedented gullibility, many adherents to modern day preaching fail to identify the characteristics of soothsaying and divination that are exhibited by self-styled prophets. The prophets of God were humble and selfless messengers, called by God to speak on His behalf. The true prophets didn’t preach a prosperity message, neither did they compel their followers to “sow seeds” by giving them money for a luxurious lifestyle. The prophets of God didn’t point fingers, accusing friends and family members of being witches and wizards blocking their progress. The true prophets didn’t promise visas, breakthroughs, wives, or husbands to their clients in exchange for sowing seeds.

In sharp contrast, the prophets preached repentance and conversion. They called out the kings and people against social injustice, bribery, corruption, and persecution of widows, orphans, and the less fortunate in society. They often sounded warnings of impending danger if the people didn’t change their ways (cf. Is 1:4; Jer 8:8-12; Amos 5:10-13). Prophets were not predictors of the future. Rather, the prophets’ primary task was to call the people as a community to accountability and responsibility in their relationship with God. Even when they spoke about the future, it was for the purpose of calling people to be responsible before God in the present (Is 51:7; Jer 20:12).

As earlier indicated, the denial of God’s will is a major spiritual crisis of our time. With their preconceived plans for life, relationships, family, and wealth, many people are in rebellion against God’s will. And when things don’t work out your way, you go in search of quick fixes and instant answers to ordinary, day-to-day challenges. We behave as if our birth certificates stated somewhere that life should be easy! The miracle preachers are already very aware of this desperation, and they use it to prey upon you. Some of them even have agents who survey territories and learn about the people ahead of their miracle crusades, so they can startle you with stories about your own life. Indeed, wonders shall never end!

Of course, it is natural to shout out, “God’s blessings upon you!” to your family and friends. It is impossible to keep quiet after having received some special favor from God. However, Jesus specifically denounced any form vain publicity. For example, he said to the man he had freed from demonic oppression to go tell his family how the Lord had shown him mercy, yet this excited man uncontrollably went spreading the news all over the place (Mk 5:19-20). If Jesus asked us to keep quiet about his own miracles, imagine how much worse it is when testimonies are fabricated and miracles faked as a means to promote a church or ministry. It is sheer extortion when these so-called “men of God” demand that their clients sow a seed by making specific donations in hope of spiritual favor. Inexhaustible forms of duplicity are employed by the modern-day messiahs. Suffice it to say, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. Beware of false prophets prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds’” (Jer 23:16).

Since antiquity, there have always been traders of the Word; these are opportunists who used the Scripture and the name of Jesus for fame and personal aggrandizement. In Acts 8:9-25, we read about Simon the magician, who wanted to buy miraculous powers from Peter and John. He was condemned for thinking that the gift of God could be bought with money.  Paul clearly states, “We are not like so many others who peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity as men sent from God” (2Cor 2:17).

In conclusion, it is time to wake up to all the soothsayers and diviners who pose as prophets and preachers with the sole aim of taking advantage of spiritually weak and ignorant followers. Don’t allow yourself to be lured by commercials for miraculous solutions to the ordinary challenges of life. Be aware that all you see on social media and miracle TV channels has been altered or outright faked. In Jesus’ time, testimonies were spontaneous and sincere, because there was no time for rehearsal or make-up, as there is today.

Be aware of your worth as a child of God. Scripture says, “All who have received him he empowers to become children of God” (Jn 1:12). You have power to tread underfoot serpents and scorpions, and if you only believe in Him and do His will, the miracles and testimonies will begin to follow you, and in abundance! No matter how real or exciting someone else’s testimony appears to be, it will never be your own. Therefore, it is better to desist from wasting precious time on miraculous entertainment and testimonies. The best way to use your time profitably is to nourish your mind with good reads. Read and wise up!

*Father Wilfred E. Emeh is a Roman Catholic priest ,Communications Profressional and author of  the book  New Media and the Christian Family: Experiences from the USA and Africa

 

 

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National Aviation Services (NAS) Partners with #VisaFreeAfrica
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
#VisaFreeAfrica (VFA), a continental effort to facilitate mobility in Africa
KIGALI, Rwanda, November 22, 2017/ — The Kigali Global Shapers (http://APO.af/wpzZY9) has partnered with National Aviation Services (NAS) (www.NAS.aero), the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets, for an exclusive sponsor of #VisaFreeAfrica (VFA), a global campaign to facilitate mobility in Africa.

For the past 30 years, the African Union has attempted to address free movement on the continent. The “Agenda 2063” plan to introduce a common African passport by 2020 is in motion but African citizens still need visas to travel to 42 out of 54 African countries.

The #VisaFreeAfrica campaign, launched by the Kigali Global Shapers during the World Economic Forum for Africa in 2016 includes a global petition that calls for:

  • All 54 African countries to grant a 30-day visa on arrival to all African citizens by 2022.
  • Achieve free movement of people across all African countries by 2030.

In addition to the petition, Global Shapers across the African continent are engaging their leaders and policy makers in dialogues about the need to ease mobility on the continent. Through this initiative, African youth will find a platform to voice the reasons why facilitating movement of people across the continent now can fast track the continent’s 2063 Agenda.

The NAS and VFA partnership took roots at the World Economic Forum meeting held in Davos, Switzerland in January 2017 and was formalized almost immediately. NAS has made a five-year commitment to support this campaign which will be implemented in several African countries in the coming months.

Michaella Rugwizangoga, ‎Curator at World Economic Forum Global Shapers said “With support from National Aviation Services (NAS), the Kigali Shapers will be able to better coordinate a continental effort towards open African borders and facilitate the removal of visa requirements on the continent.”

On a global scale, Africa’s competitiveness is tied to labor mobility. With the African market set to grow to 2 billion by 2050, greater integration and human mobility is the need of the hour. Liberal visa policies will help boost tourism revenues, foster new business opportunities and facilitate economic growth. It will also open up new job opportunities to the 60 percent* of African youth that is currently unemployed.

Hassan El-Houry, Group CEO NAS, said “NAS has a presence in over ten airports in Africa and continues to grow quickly in the region. As we expand our footprint of operations in Africa, our responsibility towards the local communities also increases. As a partner in Africa’s development, we are aware of the mobility issues faced by youth and businesses in the region. With our investments in the region and by supporting Visa Free Africa we continue to drive efforts for the development of the continent and its people.”

NAS operates across the Middle East, Africa and Central Asia, with a presence at 30 airports, managing more than 31 airport lounges and handling seven of the world’s top 10 airlines. With an employee base of over 8,000 capable and experienced employees at the core of its network, NAS is committed to providing aviation services that benchmark to the best in the world.

The Kigali Global Shapers (http://APO.af/wpzZY9) are part of a global network of 600 Hubs under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum. Hubs are developed and led by young people who are exceptional in their potential, achievements and drive to make a contribution to their communities.  The community encompasses 7000 change makers.
Established in 2012 by Founding Curator Diana Mpyisi, the Kigali Hub has now positioned itself as one of the most active and impactful youth-led groups in Rwanda.

The flagship project “Twumve Twumve” Forum, loosely translated “Hear us, we hear you”, empowers Rwandan youth to make their voices heard. Twumve Twumve is a unique opportunity for youth to engage in direct conversation with leaders from the public and private sector on issues facing Rwanda and the continent.

The Kigali Shapers created and lead the #VisaFreeAfrica campaign, a call to action for African leaders and the African Union to ease visa procedures across the continent. The Kigali Hub is partnering with NAS and coordinating actions across youth-led organization in Africa to raise awareness around the issues of mobility and accelerate the ease of travel procedures across the continent.

National Aviation Services (NAS) (www.NAS.aero) is the fastest growing aviation services provider in the emerging markets.
Established in 2003, NAS quickly transformed from a Kuwait based ground handling company into an emerging markets leader in the industry. NAS is present in over 30 airports across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, handling seven out of the world’s top 10 airlines and managing more than 31 airport lounges.
With an employee base of over 8,000 capable and experienced employees at the core of its worldwide network, NAS is committed to providing aviation services that benchmark to the best in the world.

The NAS portfolio of services includes ramp and passenger services, cargo handling, engineering and line maintenance, airport technologies, fixed base operations, terminal management, aviation training, travel solutions, lounge management and meet-and-assist packages.
Affiliated with leading industry organizations, NAS follows international aviation standards with certifications from ISO, EMS and OHSAS practices. NAS is one of the first ground handlers in the world to obtain the IATA’s Safety Audit for Ground Operations (ISAGO) certification illustrating the company’s commitment to providing high quality services, with a focus on safety and security.

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Secure, Trusted Internet Critical to Advancing African Economy
November 24, 2017 | 0 Comments
New Internet Society report highlights how Africa can benefit more from the Internet economy
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, November 23, 2017/ — Many African countries have made significant progress towards creating an Internet sector, with broad reforms that focus on increasing broadband availability.  There have been further successes within countries in developing online platforms, fostering growth of local companies and increasing the incentive to go online– says a new report launched today by the Internet Society (www.InternetSociety.org), a global non-profit dedicated to ensuring the open development, evolution and use of the Internet.

“Promoting the African Internet Economy” highlights how greater use of the Internet and digitization of the traditional economy will spur economic growth in Africa.

The report further examines Internet adoption and use by companies and governments throughout the region, identifying barriers that must be overcome in order to create an Internet economy that delivers innovative services, job opportunities and income growth across the continent.

Both businesses and citizens can benefit from an Internet economy. Businesses across all sectors gain access to a global marketplace of billions of people, and citizens in both rural and urban areas benefit from enhanced educational and training opportunities and access to new job possibilities.

The report also outlines what needs to be done for Africa to take full advantage of the digital opportunity offered by the Internet. It highlights local successes as well as broader challenges, offering recommendations for policymakers in Africa to adopt.

“The Internet economy presents a major opportunity for Africa. However, Africa needs a secure and reliable Internet infrastructure that users trust in order to bringing large and small businesses online, along with governments and other social services,” explains Dawit Bekele, Africa Region Bureau Director for the Internet Society.

The Internet Society in collaboration with the African Union recently introduced Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines for Africa  to help AU member states strengthen the security of their local Internet infrastructure through actions at a regional, national, ISP/operator and organizational level.

In Kenya, the Internet economy already represents 3.6% of the country’s GDP and in other developing countries 1.3% of GDP  comes from the Internet economy. The McKinsey Global Institute predicts that in addition to contributions to GDP, the Internet will deliver productivity gains across Africa. These productivity gains across six key sectors:  financial services, education, health, retail, agriculture and government are projected to be valued at between US$148 billion and $318 billion by 2025.

However, a thriving Internet economy in Africa could be put at risk by the increasing number of Internet shutdowns in the region. In 2016 alone, there were at least 56 shutdowns of the Internet around the world. These shutdowns affect individuals and organizations that depend on the Internet for their daily lives and have negative effects on the economy.

“In addition to the economic costs, Internet shutdowns also affect trust. If people don’t know whether they will have connectivity, they can no longer rely on that connectivity to build Internet-based businesses. This will affect entrepreneurs in greatest need of digital-led innovation for their own future, and the future of the Internet economy in Africa,” added Bekele.

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Gambia’s Court set to rule on Constitutionality of False News, Others
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Kebba Jeffang

More press freedom is expected under the leadership of President Adama Barrow

More press freedom is expected under the leadership of President Adama Barrow

The Gambia’s Supreme Court on November 22nd heard the arguments from both the plaintiff’s lawyer and the State on the Constitutionality of Sedition, False publication and broadcasting as well as criminal defamation before adjourning the matter to May 2018 for judgment.

Hawa Sisay-Sabally, lawyer for the Gambia Press Union who is challenging the Constitutionality of such laws said the Attorney General had already admitted their unconstitutionality. She said the only law he contested for it to remain is the law on false news.

According her, law on false news does not only affects journalists from enjoying their right but it even denied the readership their right to receive information and ideas. She argued that such law is against Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Right and ECOWAS treaty and they will rely on all other authorities to proof the case.

“It can discourage the journalists for what they do as it exposes them to arrests. Not only are the rights of journalists are restricted by these provisions but the right of the readership by restricting them to receive information and ideas,” she told court.

The lawyer submitted that section 207 of the Constitution places obligation on journalists to hold the government to account to the people, justifying the need to declare false news unconstitutional.

According to her, news must past three tests such as ‘legitimate, proportionate and necessary before being considered false.

“We have a civil court all over that can award damages in any form,” she said.

She said it would be better to if journalists are punished in the civil light than criminal procedures.

“These provisions are unconstitutional and they do not hold a place our statute,” she submitted.

Meanwhile, State lawyer objected to decriminalizing false news saying it should be retained in the laws of the country for national and security interests.

“Limiting of exercise of rights is a restriction necessary for the democratic society. Restrictions are provided under section 21 (4) of the Constitution and 181 of the Criminal Code,” he said.

He argued that there is no absolute right of freedom as National Assembly is empowered to create laws to protect the interest of the country.

However, the judges questioned him the rationale for having the law criminal when civil remedies are available.

“The point is that we should not leave room or expose people to the risk of criminal prosecution for exercising their right to free speech,” one of the judges said.

The matter is adjourned to next May, 2018 for judgment.

The Gambia Press Union has sued the government of the Gambia in 2015 for the Supreme Court to decriminalize such laws. This was done during a difficult time for the media in the country as former ruler Yahya Jammeh created a hell for journalists.

Several journalists were charged with sedition and jailed while others were tortured, disappeared and some where even killed.

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Africa must implement 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies, says AfDB President
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

 

“Together, let’s open up the skies of Africa, and together let’s integrate Africa. By so doing, we will build stronger and more resilient economies.” – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank

The African Development Bank (AfDB) has called on African countries to implement the 1990 Yamoussoukro agreement for open skies.

While 20 countries have signed on, the 27-year old accord still faces implementation challenges, Akinwumi Adesina, President of the AfDB said Tuesday at the opening ceremony of the third ICAO World Aviation Forum in Abuja.

“Rigid bilateral air service agreements have made it difficult to liberalize the regional aviation markets. We must make regional aviation markets competitive and drive down costs, raise efficiencies and improve connectivity and convenience,” Adesina said.

The Bank President also emphasized the Bank’s strong support for Nigeria and expressed confidence in the ability of Nigeria to deliver on its policy commitments.

“The hosting of this global forum here in Abuja is a clear mark of confidence in Nigeria. Let me use this opportunity to commend you and the government on the Economic Recovery and Growth Program, to build a more resilient economy,” Adesina said.

“As you know, we provided $600 million to support the government to address its budget deficit challenges and stand ready to continue to fully support the government as it embarks on efforts to diversify the economy and raise the revenue profiles and productivity of the non-oil sectors.”

The Bank President also commended the Government of Nigeria for its efforts to improve the state of aviation in Nigeria. The aviation sector plays an important in opening up doors to investors, he added.

Air transport promotes trade, investments and tourism, and boosts economic growth. Today, Africa’s aviation industry adds US $73 billion to the continent’s annual GDP and employs about 7 million people – an average 130,000 people per country in Africa, according to the Bank President.

The aviation industry is projected to grow by 5% annually for the next 20 years. From serving 120 million passengers in 2015, the industry will triple and serve over 300 million passengers by 2035, Adesina observed.

“That’s the good news,” he said, adding that regrettably Africa’s aviation growth is held back by very restrictive regulatory environments which limit market size, profitability, and drive up costs.

“Aircraft departure fees alone in Africa are 30% above the global average, while taxes, fees and charges are 8% higher. Given lower per capita incomes in Africa, high fares essentially tax the poor out of the air! We may have an open sky policy, but then end up with empty skies!”

The AfDB President called for the development of airport terminal capacity to expand passenger growth, develop regional aviation hubs to improve connectivity, and upgrade air navigational services and air traffic control to improve safety.

“Modern and cheaper technologies such as the satellite based air navigation services now preclude the need for ground infrastructure, and make it possible to serve remote areas with radars. We must also develop within Africa, aircraft maintenance services and strengthen regional and sub-regional aviation safety agencies,” he noted.

The AfDB has invested $20 billion in infrastructure over the past 10 years, with over $1 billion in the aviation sector. The Bank’s investments include building modern airports and terminal extensions in Senegal, Morocco, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Cabo Verde and improving airport navigation systems in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The AfDB supported aircraft fleet expansion programs for Ethiopia and Côte d’Ivoire. The Bank also supported regional efforts for improving aviation safety and capacity building.

Adesina congratulated Nigeria on the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) certification of two airports in Abuja and Lagos as a consequence of meeting global standards, noting that the feat makes Nigeria the only country with two ICAO-certified airports in West and Central Africa.

The objective of the Bank is to support the ICAO safety and security standards certification of 20 African airports by 2019, Adesina said.

The African Development Bank will soon be going to its Board with a new aviation sector framework to support the revitalization of the aviation industry in Africa, he said.

The Bank, Adesina explained, is working with other partners on establishing facilities to de-risk financing for aircraft acquisition, upgrading of airports, expansion of regional navigational and air safety, and deregulation of the aviation industry to be more competitive and efficient.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) is partnering with the Nigerian Government, the African Union Commission (AUC), and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Agency to co-host the third ICAO World Aviation Forum from November 20-22 in Abuja, Nigeria.

*AFDB

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Rebuilding after the dictator: New Gambia’s slow road to reform
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

President Jammeh spent over two decades centralising power and sowing distrust. How do you rebuild a nation after that? 

BY JAMES COURTRIGHT*

Ferry crossing at Barra. Credit: James Courtright.

Ferry crossing at Barra. Credit: James Courtright.

How do you dismantle over two decades of repressive and corrupt governance in order to build a fresh democratic system? That’s the challenge currently facing The Gambia.

Since Yahya Jammeh lost the 2016 elections and finally relinquished power under regional pressure in January 2017, the new government of President Adama Barrow has been trying to heal the deep scars left by the former dictator’s 23-year-long dictatorial rule and establish a “new” Gambia.

The administration has a lot to do. Under Jammeh, a series of constitutional amendments made criticism of the government essentially illegal. In the judiciary, the president chased talented officials from the Ministry of Justice and appointed foreign “mercenary judges”. The National Assembly became a rubber stamp parliament that approved anything the president put before it.

At the same time, Jammeh wielded the much-feared National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and paramilitary force known as the Jungulers to sow fear through unlawful killings, torture and arbitrary detention. To protect against possible challenges, he divided the Armed Forces by constantly moving soldiers around and filling the top ranks with loyalists.

“He knew that if the security sector was well organised, it could be a force against him,” says Dr Ismaila Ceesay, a professor of political science at the University of The Gambia. “It was better to divide the security sector to foster mistrust amongst everyone.”

Reform and reconciliation

Since it came to office in January 2017 then, the government of President Barrow has had myriad challenges with which to contend.

On the one hand, the government is trying to forge forwards in building a new order. The National Assembly is working to establish a team to consult the public and draft a new constitution to be put to a referendum. Foreign judges have been replaced with qualified Gambians in the judiciary. And at the justice ministry, staff are being trained up, while additional qualified and experienced lawyers are being sought.

On the other hand, however, the government also needs to grapple with the past before it can go forwards. “We must understand what happened under Jammeh so we never slide back,” says Abubacarr Tambadou, Gambia’s Minister of Justice and Attorney General.

In order to investigate how Jammeh amassed a fortune as president, a Commission of Inquiry was established this July. It has been investigating the financial relations between government ministries, companies and the former president. Its public hearings are being closely followed by the public and its mandate was recently extended by another six months.

The government is also preparing to establish a Truth, Reparations and Reconciliation Commission (TRRC) to shed light on human rights abuses committed under Jammeh. The TRRC is slated to start touring the country early next year to record testimony from victims and perpetrators.

Many are eager for justice as soon as possible, but some have raised concerns over what they see as a rapid time frame for rolling out the commission. Others have pointed out that the TRRC has not yet been allotted funding.

Anna Roccatello, an expert at the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) warns that truth commissions can be tricky to handle. “They are resource intensive and politically explosive,” she says. “It’s a very complicated process so if they really want to do it they need to be prepared to do a good job because otherwise it can be counter-productive.”

Gambia’s security services

Another key part of the government’s plans to build a new Gambia lies in reforming the security services. As Tambadou puts it, “if the judicial and legal sector was the brains of the old regime, then the hand used to perpetrate the atrocities was the security services”.

As part of this strategy, President Barrow rebranded the NIA as the State Intelligence Services (SIS) within weeks of taking office, while nine former NIA officers are currently on trial.

It is hoped this will lead to new revelations and accountability, but many complain that most perpetrators are still walking free and that little has changed in the agency itself beyond its name. “The structures are still there and the process still remains the same,” says Ceesay. “They are still in the same building where they were torturing people.”

Ceesay and others have suggested that the agency could be disbanded altogether, but Maggie Dwyer, a researcher at the Centre of African Studies at University of Edinburgh, warns against hasty action.

“If you simply fire all of the NIA, it sets a bad precedent,” she says. “If there are no trials then people will say ‘they just fired 500 people and they didn’t prove that those people did anything wrong. Is this really a just system?’”

Dealing with the military

The Gambian Armed Forces (GAF) also requires significant reform from Jammeh’s days. On that front, public relations officer Lamine Sanyang claims the military is embracing change under the new administration. “We are subservient to civilian authority,” he says. “In the previous system, the military was seen as untouchable, but now we’re trying to change that narrative.”

Sait Matty Jaw, director of Gambia Watch, acknowledges this but says trust is still lacking. “They’re being pushed back to the barracks, but they still need a lot of education. Their understanding of security is more about using force. If this remains they cannot build relations with civilians.”

Challenges in reforming the military are exacerbated by frictions within the army. In July, at least five soldiers were detained in relation to allegedly “mutinous” WhatsApp messages. According to Gambian press, at least two of the accused were alleged to be involved in an assassination attempt of high ranking officers. In early October, an additional seven soldiers were discharged without a stated reason. Late last week, 12 soldiers alleged to support Jammeh were charged behind closed doors with a range of unknown offences.

Dwyer says it’s to be expected that some members of the armed forces might still be loyal to Jammeh. “The idea that everyone would suddenly switch allegiance right away is not realistic,” she says. But the problem, she explains, lies in a lack of transparency in how these soldiers were removed.

Some of those who were discharged say it was because they come from the same region as former President Jammeh, a region where he remains popular. Among the former president’s supporters, these discharges have only added to a building narrative of political, and increasingly ethnic, discrimination.

A long road

Transitioning from 23 years of tyranny is a fraught and painful process. Uncovering the truth, righting past wrongs, and rebuilding corrupt institutions are all essential, but can lead to greater instability in the short-term.

Since the start of the year, the government in Banjul has made some missteps and suffered from poor communication. But despite setbacks, observers suggest that it is pursuing the necessary reforms to avoid a return to the dark days of dictatorship, even if progress has been slow.

“It’s clear the new government is genuinely resolved to make a clear and unequivocal break from the dictatorial past,” says Jeffery Smith, director of Vanguard Africa, a pro-democracy outfit that works across the continent. “But the perception is that much of that goodwill has yet to be translated to on-the-ground results.”

*Culled from African Arguments.James Courtright is a freelance journalist based in Dakar, Senegal.

 

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Burkina Faso recalls ambassador to Libya over “slave markets” report
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
By Thiam Ndiaga*
Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry of Burkina Faso in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Minister of Foreign Affairs Alpha Barry of Burkina Faso in Manhattan, New York, U.S. September 19, 2016. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

OUAGADOUGOU (Reuters) – Burkina Faso’s foreign minister said on Monday it had recalled its ambassador to Libya over a report that black African migrants were being auctioned as slaves there.

The decision by the West African nation followed the broadcast by CNN of footage of what it said was an auction of men offered to Libyan buyers as farmhands and sold for $400, a chilling echo of the trans-Saharan slave trade of centuries past.

Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso said his country was being unfairly blamed for a global problem that all nations affected must come together to solve.

Foreign Minister Alpha Barry announced the decision by President Roch Marc Kabore in a news conference.

“The president of Burkina Faso has decided to recall the ambassador to Tripoli, General Abraham Traore, for a consultation,” Barry said.

He had also “summoned the Libyan charge d’affairs in (Burkina Faso’s capital) Ouagadougou to express our indignation at these images that belong to other centuries, images of the slave trade”.

In a news conference on Wednesday, Libya’s ambassador to Burkina Faso, Abdul Rahman Khameda, appealed for help from both the European Union and African Union to help Libya reach a lasting resolution of the migrant crisis.

“Libya alone can not solve this problem,” he said. “We call on the international community to intensify efforts to help Libya cope with this danger (illicit migration), which is tearing at its social fabric.”

African and European leaders are due to meet next week in Ivory Coast’s main city, Abidjan, where migration and Europe’s efforts to tackle it by co-opting Libya will be high on the agenda.

“Adopting an effective solution will prevent certain parties from exploiting such unfortunate events to tarnish Libya’s name,” Khameda said.

An agreement between Europe and Africa to stem the flow of migrants coming through Libya to Europe had failed to tackle the severe abuses they face, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein wrote in an article published in September.

*Reuters

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Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments
Access Power and FMO launch second edition of Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition for Innovative Solar Projects
Submission window opens as Solar Projects Compete for US$ 100,000 Grant to Develop their Projects
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, November 20, 2017/ — FMO (www.FMO.nl), the Dutch development bank, and Access Power (www.Access-Power.com), a leading developer, owner and operator of power projects in emerging markets, today announced the launch of the 2018 FMO Access Power Solar ‘Shark Tank’ Competition following the competition’s successful first installment in 2016 at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference. The initiative is aimed at helping local solar power developers that require development support to make their innovative solar projects more impactful.

In order to be considered for the grant, the proposed projects must be located in Asia, Africa or Latin America and be based on solar PV technology. They should also meet the capacity criterion of 10MW or more, and be at an advanced stage of development (preliminary feasibility studies should have been completed). Furthermore, eligible projects should have an innovative or impactful angle to the project that can be developed with support of the grant.

Proposals will be screened and scored by a pre-selection committee assembled by FMO and Access Power. Four shortlisted finalists will be invited to present their projects and answer questions from a panel of judges in front of a live audience on the 15th of February 2018 during the second edition of the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference, co-organized by FMO and Solarplaza in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 15 and 16 February. The winning project will be announced at the end of the session during the event.

The winner will receive a $100,000 grant towards the development costs of their project from FMO and Access Power. In addition to that, Access Power will pre-qualify the winning proposal of the Solar Shark Tank competition for the 2018 edition of the Access Co-Development Facility (ACF) (https://goo.gl/76qvjJ) competition, subject to meeting ACF qualification requirements. Access Power will provide the ACF winner with technical support, financial structuring and development process management.

Reda El Chaar, Executive Chairman of Access Power, commented: 
“Following the competition’s successful launch in 2016, we are thrilled to have once again partnered with FMO to promote and help development of early stage solar projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2016 we received over 36 of applications from 21 countries and 2018 looks set to build on that success. We look forward with great interest to receiving this year’s entries and hearing the judge’s final decision during an exciting live event at the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference in Amsterdam”.

Jurgen Rigterink, CEO of FMO, added:
“FMO is proud to partner again with Access Power to help improve access to energy in the regions in the world where it is most needed. The entries of this year’s competition will all contribute to clean and affordable energy, making it possible for people to improve their livelihoods. We look forward to an inspiring event”.

Application procedures close on 5th of January 2018. Visit the Solar Shark Tank page on https://goo.gl/aeoEKg or https://goo.gl/Cn8w9h to download the application form.

About Solar Shark Tank 2018

  • Following a pre-selection process, a shortlist of applicants will be chosen to present their projects to a panel of judges 15th of February 2018 during the ‘Making Solar Bankable’ conference in Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • Applicants must present their projects to the judging panel during the conference within a given time and take questions from panel members.
  • Panel members will score each project based on the evaluation criteria, using weighted percentages.
  • Submission period runs from 20th November, 2017 to 5th January, 2018.

Access Power (www.Access-Power.com) is a fast-growing developer, owner and operator of power assets in emerging and frontier markets and is currently developing power projects worth over US$1 billion in 23 countries across Africa and Asia. In late 2016, Access Power commissioned East Africa’s largest solar power plant in Soroti Uganda which currently provides clean energy for over 40,000 homes, schools and small businesses.

FMO (www.FMO.nl) is the Dutch development bank. As a leading impact investor, FMO supports sustainable private sector growth in developing countries and emerging markets by investing in ambitious projects and entrepreneurs. FMO believes that a strong private sector leads to economic and social development, and has a more than
45-year proven track-record of empowering people to employ their skills and improve their quality of life.FMO focuses on three sectors that have high development impact: financial institutions, energy, and agribusiness, food & water. With a committed portfolio of EUR 9.0 billion spanning over 92 countries, FMO is one of the larger bilateral private sector developments banks globally.

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SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS GIVES THANKS BY OFFERING ITS LOWEST FARES OF THE YEAR
November 22, 2017 | 0 Comments

Holiday Sale Offers Exceptional Fares Starting at $599* roundtrip to Africa

Fort Lauderdale, FL (November 21, 2017) – South African Airways (SAA), the national flag carrier of South Africa and Africa’s most awarded airline today announces a holiday sale that offers its lowest fares of the year to selected destinations throughout Africa. For a limited time only, book flights for round-trip travel from New York-JFK International Airport or Washington, DC Dulles International Airport to Johannesburg, South Africa for just $599.00* (restrictions apply) or to Cape Town for $629.00*(restriction apply). Also on offer are nonstop flights from Washington, DC Dulles International Airport to Dakar, Senegal for $629.00* (restrictions apply) round-trip or to Accra, Ghana for $639.00* (restrictions apply) round-trip. These fares are available for purchase through November 28, 2017, for travel between January 10 and March 27, 2018.

“At this festive time of year for giving, we are expressing our thanks by making Africa even more affordable for travelers from North America. There is nothing that can compare to witnessing the beauty of an African sunset, sipping sundowners on a safari, taking in the magnificent sights in Cape Town, or exploring the history and culture of Ghana and Senegal”, said Todd Neuman, executive vice president, North America, for South African Airways. “With these fares, our very lowest of the year, we are encouraging everyone to give the gift of Africa to oneself, a loved one or a friend this holiday season. Giving this gift, on Africa’s most awarded airline, is certainly a terrific way to show your appreciation to that someone special.”

The sale fares are available for 7-days only, so travelers must hurry to purchase tickets by visiting www.flysaa.com or by calling SAA Reservations at 1-(800) 722-9675 to take advantage of these incredible savings.

As the leading carrier from the U.S. to South Africa, South African Airways is the only airline to offer daily nonstop service from New York – JFK and daily direct service from Washington, DC-Dulles to Johannesburg, South Africa. South African Airways also offers nonstop service from Washington, DCDulles to Accra, Ghana, four-days per week and Dakar, Senegal, three-days per week. From its hub in Johannesburg, SAA offers business and leisure travelers’ convenient connections to over 75 destinations on the Africa continent in partnership with its regional airlines SA Express, Airlink, and Mango.

 

 

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