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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau meets African leaders to advance conflict resolution and economic security
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Trudeau called for cooperation among international partners and governments to create economic opportunity and prosperity that is broadly shared

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 10, 2020/ — Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau convened a meeting for African heads of state, foreign ministers and representatives of the United Nations and other multilateral bodies on Monday to discuss ways to secure peace across the continent as a necessary condition for prosperity. 

Trudeau, the 2020 chair of the United Nations Peacebuilding Commission, called for cooperation among international partners and governments to create economic opportunity and prosperity that is broadly shared, “…as a way not just of countering the pull of extremism in some places or the cynicism of populism, but as a way of building a real and tangible future for countries around the world.”

The breakfast meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, was intended to strengthen the Commission’s partnership with the African Union (AU) and to better integrate African priorities in conflict prevention and bolstering economic security. Among issues discussed were the role that international financial institutions and youth job creation can play in Africa in averting extremism and conflict; and the AU leadership in peacekeeping and peacebuilding efforts.    

The talks, titled Sustaining Peace and Economic Security, aligned with the Summit’s theme: Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.   

Trudeau acknowledged that one of the biggest challenges both developed and developing countries face is the perception that governments are indifferent.

“In this time of change, in this time of transformation of the global economy, time of conflict, time of climate conflict, people worry that the system has no place for them and isn’t providing them with what they need,” the Canadian Prime Minister said. 

Among participants were President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso; the Vice President of Gambia, Isatou Touray; President of the United Nations General Assembly, Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, and the foreign ministers of Sierra Leone and Rwanda.

President Kabore offered his reflections on the issues. Burkina Faso is one of several nations in the Sahel region that have seen economic growth adversely affected by conflict and instability.    

In opening remarks, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina noted the shifting nature of conflicts across Africa. While the number of outright wars in Africa has declined substantially, they have been replaced with greater fluidity with rising cases of terrorism, extremism, conflicts from non-state actors.

The root causes of conflict, according to Adesina, include “rising inequalities, lack of political inclusiveness, extreme poverty, management and control over natural resources, youth unemployment that causes social unrest, climate change, to name a few.”

The Bank is at the forefront of helping to address fragility in Africa with several initiatives currently under way. So far, $3.8 billion has been allocated to address issues of fragility through the Transition State Support Facility.  

Adesina recognized the role Canada plays in enabling the Bank’s work.

“The successful replenishment of the Bank’s African Development Fund 15 – to which Canada contributed substantially with $355 million – will allow the Bank to deploy an additional $1.2 billion to address fragility, strengthen resilience and sustain peace and economic security,” he said. 

*Source AFDB

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Gambia:Chinese Ambassador Optimistic on Eradication of Coronavirus Soon
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Chinese Ambassador in The Gambia Ma Jianchun  with President Barrow at State House
Chinese Ambassador in The Gambia Ma Jianchun with President Barrow at State House

Chinese Ambassador in The Gambia Ma Jianchun  believed that China is not far from winning the battle against the outbreak of coronavirus.

He was speaking during a briefed President Adama Barrow on progress of containing the novel coronavirus pneumonia (2019-nCoV) on 10th February, 2020  at the State House in Banjul.

Ambassdor Ma briefed President Barrow on the latest development of the novel coronavirus pneumonia (2019-nCoV) outbreak in China and China’s tremendous efforts in containing it. 

Thanks to those comprehensive and rigorous prevention and control measures, significant results has shown recently and spread of the outbreak has been curbed effectively. The daily new added confirmed cases has been going down.

Hundreds of patients, after timely and proper treatment, recovered and stepped out of hospital everyday.

Ambassador Ma further commended the understanding and support rendered by the Gambian side since the very beginning of the outbreak.

He emphasized that the safety and health of the Gambian nationals in China are of equal importance as the Chinese people, which has been well taken care of.

He believed that China is not far from winning the battle against the outbreak.

President Barrow conveyed his sympathy and solidarity with his counterpart  Xi Jinping and the Chinese people, and appreciated China for taking decisive and scientific measures in containing the pneumonia outbreak and the significant progress being registered so far.

He said that battling against the outbreak is and shall never be the sole business of China itself, which calls for concerted efforts of the whole international society.

President Barrow expressed his strong confidence in China’s ability of winning the battle against the outbreak, and emphasized that the Gambian people are always in solidarity with the friendly Chinese people.

President Barrow and Ambassador Ma also touched upon the bilateral practical cooperation in many fields and exchanged views on further strengthening the existing friendly relations between the two countries.

During which, Ambassador Ma mentioned that the Chinese government has decided to offer about 5000 metric tons of humanitarian emergency rice aid in mitigating the effects of extreme weather last year.

A new batch of medicines, medical equipment and patrolling vehicles will soon be handed over to the Gambian side aiming at helping strengthen the existing public health and medical system, which means much more at such a critical moment of preventing the pneumonia outbreak.

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Cameroon is profoundly broken and needs a fresh start-NDI’s Dr Chris Fomunyoh
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung 

A fresh start is needed for Cameroon says Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh in a chat with Pan African Visions reporter in Washington DC

Warmly received by Professor Maurice Kamto and his supporters when he honored the invitation to be a special guest at their rally, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh says the situation in Cameroon is dire and the Biya regime is pushing the country off the cliff by not listening to its people. 

In a chat with Pan African Visions, Dr Fomunyoh, the Senior Associate and Regional Director for Central and West Africa at the National Democratic Institute, NDI, who has been linked with Presidential ambitions in the past two election cycles without making a formal declaration, lamented on the poor state of affairs in Cameroon. He described as abysmal the  handling of the crisis in the North West and South West regions by the Biya government.

“As we know Cameroon is broken into many pieces today, we have very diverse voices on where the country is and where it should be headed and I think when I get invited to something like this is important that I come in and that I also listen and get a sense of what his views are with regards to Cameroon of today and most importantly the future,” he said when quizzed on what motivated his attendance. 

He lauded the spirited fight that Prof Maurice Kamto was putting up and took issues with President Biya’s claims that the elections were boycotted by small political parties. In the North West and South West regions, what took place was a total sham, he said.

 “We know that no elections could hold in the North West and South West regions, elections are not a one-day event, it’s a process that takes place over an extended period of time. Even before today, we saw what was going on and you would have easily drawn the conclusion that they will be no credible election.”

An internationally recognized expert in mediating election-related conflict, Dr. Fomunyoh who has organized and advised international election observation missions to Benin, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone urged the government of Cameroon to listen to the dissenting voice instead of trying to suppress them.  

Talking briefly about his efforts in comforting those affected by the crisis in Cameroon’s English-speaking regions with his foundation, The Fomunyoh Foundation, taking the lead to donate relief materials to hundreds of internally displaced persons, the prominent Human rights promoter and civil society leader who has been very vocal in his critic of  the administration in Cameroon and how it handles the crisis  reiterated that things wouldn’t have gotten this bad if his advice was heeded.

On several occasions, Dr. Fomunyoh who has also designed and supervised country-specific democracy support programs with civic organizations, political parties and legislative bodies in Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Mali, Madagascar, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, and Togo, rolled out a series of pertinent proposals that would have helped Cameroon come out of the current impasse in the North West and South West regions.

But each time, the Biya administration failed to implement the expert’s recommendation though his work has yielded significant success across Africa. 

Amongst some of the concrete solutions proposed are the release of all political prisoners, call for a ceasefire on both sides, and end to human rights abuses, and genuine dialogue amongst  among others. 

“Everything that has happened in Cameroon since my interview and public position in July of 2018 has confirmed the fears and serious reservations that I had about proceeding even with the presidential elections in 2018. It  is sad to see that every prediction that I made at the time has come to pass, I hope that in the future better heads will reason and see that I was extremely right when in 2018 I said Cameroon was not prepared for elections and we continue multiplying the same mistakes and exasperating the tensions that exist in the country.”

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director of National Democratic Institute for Central and West Africa (center) was among the VIP guests at Kamto’s rally (Photo: Amos Fofung for Pan African Visions)

 “ultimately at some point, we are going to have a fresh start because I don’t see the elections that have taken place doing anything to calm down tensions and provide a solution to the conflict we see in Anglophone Cameroon and other parts of the country. Cameroon is broken and we need a fresh start. We cannot build a house on a shaky foundation.,” Dr Fomunyoh said when quizzed on the way forward.

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As Africa’s Biggest Economy Hosts the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit, Here Are Three Sessions to Watch Out for
February 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

The event, which is highly touted to be the official government-endorsed event has been designed to be the rendez-vous for Nigeria and indeed, Africa’s oil and gas sector

By Blossom Ozurumba*

Three years after the Federal Executive Council of Nigeria took the final decision to approve the Nigeria International Petroleum Summit (NIPS), an African Petroleum Technology and Business Conference, the third edition of the event is set to hold in its capital city, Abuja from 9 – 12 February 2020. The event, which is highly touted to be the official government-endorsed event has been designed to be the rendez-vous for Nigeria and indeed, Africa’s oil and gas sector where principal decision-makers from the public and private sectors exchange innovative ideas.

The African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/), as the credible voice of the African petroleum industry and the foremost African advocacy association representing all facets of the African oil and gas industry, will be on the ground to bring you the front row access to the over 20 sessions that will hold in the 4-day event.

Here are 3 of the top-recommended sessions to watch out for, which we believe will have a wide global impact and firmly place the West African country on the top burner, and certainly on the continent.

Launch of the National Gas Transportation Network Code

Nigeria’s Ministry of Petroleum Resources, in conjunction with the Department of Petroleum Resources, will formally launch the National Gas Transportation Network Code as part of the opening events of the NIPS. Nigeria recently proclaimed the year 2020 as its year of gas, a move that NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber noted could become “the most relevant political action anyone has taken in Nigeria in years”. The National Gas Transportation Network Code aims to ensure that the wrong quality of gas does not go into the pipeline, in addition to guaranteeing gas pipeline integrity, open access to pipelines and common understanding on metering. It is also expected to provide a uniform platform in terms of guidelines for agreements between buyers and sellers which will ensure transparency and eliminate existing bottlenecks. We look forward to the launch and hope that it will rightly position Nigeria to experience 2020 as its Year of Gas. Please read the official announcement here (http://bit.ly/2H9PceL).

Ministerial Session: Technology, Policies and Investment – A Conversation

This is perhaps the most important session as it will bring together Oil and Gas Sector cabinet Ministers from Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, THE Republic of Congo, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria, and the OPEC Scribe in a genuine and honest conversation that will perhaps speak to the overarching theme of this year’s conference: “Widening the Integration Circle”. It will seek to provide a high-level response to such questions as: how Africa can evolve into a significant actor on both the regional and international energy stage and how oil-producing and oil-consuming countries can better cooperate in Africa, amongst others.

Governors’ Forum: What More Can We Expect from the Oil Bearing States?

This session will put the Governors’ of oil-bearing states in Nigeria on the spot during the Governors’ Forum segment to match the opportunities as oil-bearing states and interrogate their various roadmaps on what should be and where they are headed to. The discovery of oil and gas deposits in Nigeria has been viewed as both a blessing and a curse for the Nation with the insecurity seen as the greatest challenge right next to environmental degradation. The expected outcome of this session will be the new solutions that will be proffered to create a conducive environment for the investments that will grow the Nation’s hydrocarbon reserves and drive development.

Last Words

James Shindi, the Managing Director of Brevity Anderson, the event producer, in reference to the conference, recently stated that “It has been our tradition from inception. We gather the best brains and key policymakers from across the continent to chart the way forward and posit strategies for the management of Africa’s huge hydrocarbon resources.” We look forward to this year’s edition and will be on the ground to appraise the delivery. You can download the conference agenda when you click here .

*Blossom Ozurumba volunteers as the Energy and Resources Correspondent for the African Energy Chamber in Nigeria. She also leads a multicultural team as the Technical Assistant on Media and Strategy to the Nigerian Cabinet Minister of State for Petroleum Resources. Blossom graduated from Coventry University, England and earned a degree in Environmental Management. She can be reached on LinkedIn .

*Courtesy of Africa Energy Chamber

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African Union (AU) Summit: First continental report on implementation of Agenda 2063 unveiled
February 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

The report provides an assessment of the progress and performance of Africa’s development between 2013 and 2019

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 10, 2020/ — The African Development Bank (http://www.AfDB.org/), the United Nations, and the African Union on Saturday acknowledged the significant progress made in implementing Agenda 2063 and urged African countries to go further to fast-track economic transformation.

The call was made on Saturday at the launch of the first report on the implementation of Agenda 2063 ahead of the 33rd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa. The report provides an assessment of the progress and performance of Africa’s development between 2013 and 2019.

Unveiling the implementation report, President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire noted that while remarkable progress had been made, the continent still had a long way to hit its development targets.

“In five years, we have come a long way in implementing Agenda 2063. To go further, Agenda 2063 must be the responsibility of all the member states of the AU,” said Ouattara, who is also an Agenda 2063 champion.

In January 2013, the African Union adopted Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want as a blueprint for sustainable development and economic growth. The first Ten-Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, which runs from 2014 to 2023, outlines a set of goals, priority areas and targets that the continent aims to achieve at national, regional and continental levels, the report notes.

Referencing the African Development Bank’s critical role in spurring development across the continent, Ouattara said: “The Bank is in good hands under President Adesina. He is executing the mandate we gave him with brilliance and vigour – very exemplary.”

Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde, noted that greater cohesion and hard work are required to achieve “the Africa of our dream.”

“The Ethiopian government is working with the African Development Bank and other development partners in the implementation of Agenda 2063, as enshrined in the country’s development plans,” she added.

The African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina urged African leaders to accelerate Agenda 2063: “We have to make sure, in everything we do, that we bring about implementation faster.”

The Bank President also called on heads of state to push for the continent’s pension and sovereign wealth funds to contribute to domestic prosperity.

“Sovereign funds of Africa are invested elsewhere. We need to take a decision that sovereign wealth funds, pension funds need to be invested in Africa, not elsewhere,” Adesina said. “Africa also needs to do more to stop illicit capital flows.”

Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, former AU Chairperson and South Africa’s Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, called for the involvement of the Diaspora in economic development.

“They have the skills. Some of them may even have the resources to invest in our continent and even more passion than we have. Working with the AU and the African Development Bank, we need to galvanize the Diaspora,” she said.

“We can learn from what Ghana is doing with its recently launched Year of Return initiative. That is the beauty of Agenda 2063. We must learn from one another.”

On the report’s findings, Dlamini-Zuma identified the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities as a strong reflection of results on the ground.

In a message read on his behalf at the event, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres said: “Let’s do it together. Together, we will achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and Agenda 2063 for all our people.”

The event was also attended by the President of Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi, who observed that the achievement of Agenda 2063 clearly required ownership at the country and regional levels. “The alignment of the agenda into the planning of countries, with a focus on linkages and impact, will ensure greater results.”

*AFDB

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Opposition Leader Kamto Woos Diaspora In Charm Offensive to sell vision of new Cameroon
February 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Talking to the press, Maurice Kamto thank Cameroonians for massively boycotting the legislative and municipal election (Photo: Amos Fofung for Pan African Visions)
Talking to the press, Maurice Kamto thanked Cameroonians for massively boycotting the legislative and municipal elections (Photo: Amos Fofung for Pan African Visions)

Yaounde, Cameroon’s political capital and seat of the government of octogenarian president, Paul Biya is still in shock after viral images of opposition leader, Maurice Kamto’s rally in Paris, France surfaced on the internet.

Uneasy calm blows through Yaounde, giving sleepless nights to the Biya administration; And this can only be attributed to the fact that it is the same Paris where the 86-year-old president was driven from by a mob of angry Cameroonians who defiled armed to-the-teeth French riot Police officers, to stage a protest everywhere Biya set his feet.

After Paris, he’s been trotting North America, rallying thousands of supporters in quest to reclaiming power after he was cheated during the 2018 presidential elections in Cameroon wherein, he emerged second.

After Canada, Maurice Kamto and his allies were on Sunday, February 9, in Washington DC during a massively attended rally. 

Christian Penda Ekoka, former Technical Advisor to president Paul Biya who “vomited” him to rally support for Maurice Kamto mounted the rostrum amidst thunderous applauds. He blamed Paul Biya for the current state of affairs adding that it was his poor management of the civil society protest that resulted in it becoming a full-blown armed conflict.

“The real problem of Cameroon is leadership”, he said, adding “leadership is the cause and everything is the effect.”

It is due to the failure of the Biya administration and its adamantanes to embracing change that he decided to partner with Maurice Kamto, a visionary and way more patriotic leader.

Walking to deliver his speech after receiving two official citations; one from the Governor of Maryland and another from the Maryland General Assembly for his outstanding support to good governance, Prof Maurice Kamto was welcome by chants of victory with his supporters singing, “…Kamto…Kamto our President.”

The hall was filled to capacity (Photo: Amos Fofung for Pan African Visions)
The hall was filled to capacity (Photo: Amos Fofung for Pan African Visions)

Speaking, Maurice Kamto who just left Toronto Canada for a similar rally started by clearing the air on why he failed to meet with representatives of Cameroon separatist movement.

Reiterating that he has no problem meeting and talking with them, he regretted the fact that the representatives came all roped in the Ambazonia colors and though instructed to put them aside before the meeting by his protocol they refused to do so.

“My commitment is to maintain our territorial integrity, everyone knows my position as regard secession,” he said before adding that he remains committed to talking with the separatist leaders whom he preferred to call Cameroonians.

“Don’t get me wrong, I will fight for them, I like to have them on board. They are Cameroonians, they are not begging for any position in Cameroon” for its rightfully theirs.

Urging the release of his vice president Mamadou Mota and other members of the party arrest for exercising their civil rights, he also extended his wishes to jailed Ambazonian leader Ayuk Sisiku Tabe and others.

Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate and Regional Director of National Democratic Institute for Central and West Africa (center) was among the VIP guests at Kamto’s rally (Photo: Amos Fofung for Pan African Visions)

Urging his supporters to rally behind him and get on board, he promised never to give up on the fight for the liberation of Cameroon and regaining power; which as per his supporters, rightly belong to him after he won the 2018 presidential elections but was cheated by the administration of then-incumbent candidate, President Paul Biya.

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Africa on High Alert :Self-reporting is very important to contain the Corona virus — Dr John Nkengasong
February 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Dr John Nkengasong, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention speaking to SABC News on the corona virus outbreak
Dr John Nkengasong, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention speaking to SABC News on the corona virus outbreak

Dr John Nkengasong says there is no room for complacency when it comes to the corona virus. He has called on individuals to practice self-reporting as a means of containing the deadly outbreak of the corona virus.

Dr John Nkengasong, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention was speaking in an interview with SABC News. “People should regularly wash their hands with soap and disinfectants, and when people feel as to sneeze or cough, they should do that using a tissue and dispose of properly. When individuals have fever, cough, sick, and having shortness of breath they should report to medical centers. There is no room for complacency,” He said.

So far, Africa has not reported any case of the Corona virus. “We have not yet reported confirm cases in Africa. However, there has been some suspected cases which we are awaiting final confirmation and those are from Ivory Coast, and Kenya. Those are suspected cases, and in the coming days we will know if they are confirmed or not.”

This is a fast moving, fast evolving outbreak of the corona virus which we have not seen before. The advantage Africa has is that we have seen this in China, and other countries, and it has giving us a bit of space to prepare. We are not Optimally Prepared, but we are prepared as quickly as possible in coordination with the World Health Organization, WHO. All member states are on high alert.

Africa continues to prepare itself should an outbreak is detected on the continent. Dr Nkengasong said: “We continue to provide them (African countries) with support in the areas of laboratory testing, enhance airport screening and monitoring, and also in the areas of prevention and protection in hospitals.”

Asked about the level of attention being accorded to African states without enough resources to take care of detected cases in those countries, He said there is a network model that has been put in place aimed at supporting African nations that are less equipped to handle such a scenario in the areas of surveillance, laboratory testing, and reporting. “… With a network model, we hope we can support one another and cope with this outbreak in case it becomes a massive situation in the continent.”

A lot is still not known about the present corona virus such as what the animal reservoir is. What is known is that this virus is closer to the SARS virus which occurred in China in 2002, 2003. The genetic material is closely related to the SARS virus. It is a remarkable achievement to the scientists that within a month, they were able to sequence the virus and share it globally. This is what is being used to develop diagnostic tests that are helping to detect and confirm the infections.

Stringent measures have been put in place in China to prevent the virus from speading further
Stringent measures have been put in place in China to prevent the virus from speading further

The other thing doctors and officials are learning is the corona virus can be transmitted from person to person. “Initially we were not sure if the virus was obtained primarily from animals or transmitted from person-to-person. Another thing we are learning is the incubation period, and as we learn it will enable us to control this outbreak more efficiently.”

Dr Nkengasong equally noted that it is always a good thing to see people who have been infected by the virus recover from it. They provide an additional opportunity to learn and understand the genesis of which the virus produces illnesses in people. “This is a good thing — we have over sixty people who were infected and recover from it, and it is a tremendous resource for the research community, international community to understand how to tackle it.”

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New US-Kenya trade agreement won’t undermine AfCTA, President Kenyatta assures
February 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON DC, 6th February 2020, (PSCU)—  President Uhuru Kenyatta has assured that a new bilateral trade deal between Kenya and the US won’t undermine the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The Kenyan leader spoke shortly after a meeting with the United States  President Donald Trump at the White House during which the two leaders agreed to commence talks leading to a trade pact between Kenya and the US. 

President Kenyatta made the assurance when he addressed over 350 business leaders attending a US-Kenya Trade Forum in the US capital. 

He said the proposed new trade arrangement with the United States of America would in no way undermine Kenya’s commitment to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

At the White House meeting, Presidents Kenyatta and Trump said a new trade agreement would help increase volumes of trade and investment between Kenya and the US.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer who spoke shortly after the meeting between Presidents Kenyatta and Trump said, America recognizes Kenya as a leader in Africa and an important strategic partner of the US.

He said a new trade agreement presents the two countries a rare opportunity to explore ways of deepening Kenya-US economic and commercial ties.

“Under President Trump’s leadership, we look forward to negotiating and concluding a comprehensive, high-standard agreement with Kenya that can serve as a model for additional agreements across Africa,” Amb Lighthizer said. 

In line with the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability law of 2015, the Trade Representative will now officially notify Congress of the US government’s intention to start trade negotiations with Kenya.

Currently, trade between Kenya and the US stands at about USD 1billion a year with over 70 percent of Kenya’s export into the expansive American market in 2018, worth USD 466 million, entering under AGOA.

President Kenyatta told the Kenya-US forum that his administration is committed to developing and concluding the strongest ever trade and investment framework that would deliver increased trade between the two nations.

“Today I want to assure all of you of Kenya’s unwavering commitment in developing the strongest ever trade investment framework with the United States of America.

“We are very keenly looking forward to concluding the trade arrangement between our two countries and I believe that these  trade agreements would not only serve Kenya and United States but  would probably set the base for a new engagement between the United States and  other African countries,”President Kenyatta said. 

He dismissed speculation that Kenya is breaking away from its commitment to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) saying the new arrangement with the US is only aimed at bolstering and deepening trade not only with Kenya but also with other African countries.

“At this juncture I just want to put away a few doubts because there has been a feeling that by Kenya engaging with the US to have a trade arrangement, we are running away from our commitment to the African Continental Free Trade arrangement. And I want to assure you that there can be nothing further from the truth as that is definitely not the case,” President Kenyatta said. 

The Kenyan Head of State pointed out that Kenya was among the first countries to sign and ratify the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and that its commitment to the agreement is steadfast. 

He said Kenya needs to move faster and set the pace for other African countries in formulating new trade and investment arrangements with the US as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) comes to an end in 2025.

“All we are saying is that there are some of us like Kenya who feels that we are ready. We are ready to move forward and what we are saying is, let the rest of the continent see us as pacesetters. 

“Let them see us as the people who are clearing the field for future negotiations with the rest of the African continent because Kenya feels ready for this arrangement,” the President said. 

He noted that even as Kenya and the US work to strengthen their trade and investment ties, there is need to preserve and build on mechanisms and regulatory frameworks that already exist. 

“As you may be well aware, the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) has been a key mover for trade between Kenya and the USA. Through AGOA, the US is the third export destination for Kenyan products, with a share of about 8 percent of total Kenya’s export globally.  

“Moving forward, we need to maximize the remaining years of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that ends in 2025,” President Kenyatta said noting that the US is an important source of  Kenya’s foreign direct investments (FDI), with the country holding an FDI stock of over USD 405 million in 2018. 

President Kenyatta challenged American businessmen to explore new investment opportunities in Kenya and assured them of an enabling business environment.

“We have a wide range of potential areas for investment and I urge US companies to consider investing in key sectors of the economy such as; Agriculture & Agro-processing, Manufacturing, Construction & Real Estate development, infrastructure development, ICT, Blue Economy, Energy, Hospitality & Tourism, Health, FinTech & Financial Services, Petroleum, Mining, among others,” the President outlined. 

Executive Vice President and Head of International Affairs of the US Chamber of Commerce Myron Brilliant said the American business community is keenly following what President Kenyatta is doing in terms of improving trade between Kenya and the US and assured that the chamber will continue to support him by wooing more American investors to the country.

“We see your vision, we see your ambition, we understand what is happening in Kenya and we want to embrace it and support you,” Mr Brilliant assured the President.

President Kenyatta is accompanied by Cabinet Secretaries James Macharia (Transport), Adan Mohammed (East African Affairs) and CS designate for Trade Betty Maina among other senior government officials.
Credit: State House Kenya

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African leaders to Discuss Pressing Issues Affecting Development at AU Summit
February 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay 

President Abdel Fattah el Sisi of Egypt, will officially hand over the reins to President Cyril Ramaphosa

African leaders will converge in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia for the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Heads of State and Government Summit of the African Union on 9-10 February, 2020. 

Amongst many issues on the agenda, the 2020 Assembly under the theme “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development”, will take stock of the challenges to peace, stability and sustainable development on the continent.

As a flagship project of Agenda 2063, a blueprint for a prosperous and peaceful Africa by 2063, “Silencing the guns by 2020” was adopted by the AU heads of state during the 50th anniversary of the OAU/AU in 2013.

The leaders are expected to discuss the war in Libya, the crisis in the Anglophone region of Cameroon, Islamist terrorism in the Sahel region of West Africa and the murderous Boko Haram and allied insurgency in Nigeria, which also affects Chad and Cameroon. The uneasy peace in South Sudan will also receive the attention of the African statesmen.

Conflict is one of the biggest challenges for the implementation of Agenda 2063, and with the vision of “Silencing the Guns,” it aims to end all wars, civil conflicts, gender-based violence, violent conflicts and preventing genocide in the continent by 2020, according to a statement by the AU Commission.

The Summit will also receive presentations from various Heads of State and Government championing specific thematic issues of the Union, namely:

  • King Mswati in his role as the champion for the African Leaders of Malaria Alliance (ALMA),
  • King Mohammed the VI of Morocco as the champion for Migration issues,
  • President Paul Kagame on championing Domestic Health Financing,
  • President el-Sisi as champion the for Post Conflict Reconstruction Development (PCRD),
  • President Edgar Lungu of Zambia on Ending Child Marriage in Africa,
  • President Danny Faure as the champion for the Blue Economy, and
  • President Nana Akufo Addo as the champion for Gender Development Issues in Africa

The current Chairperson of the AU, President Abdel Fattah el Sisi of Egypt, will officially hand over the reins to President Cyril Ramaphosa at the opening session of the Assembly. South Africa is assuming the Chairmanship of the AU for the first time since 2002.

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Rwanda: Top Minister Axed for alleged assault on woman
February 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Minister of State in charge of Constitutional and Legal Affairs Evode Uwizeyimana has resigned
Minister of State in charge of Constitutional and Legal Affairs Evode Uwizeyimana has resigned

Rwanda’s Minister of State in charge of Constitutional and  Legal Affairs, Evode Uwizeyimana has resigned after allegedly assaulting a woman who was on duty.

Uwizeyimana resigned this Thursday together with Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education Isaac Munyakazi who is said to have done  fraud over placements of schools which scored high in national examinations.

Prime Minister’s office tweeted that both ministers have presented their resignation letters to Premier Dr Edouard Ngirente and are waiting to be accepted by President Paul Kagame.

“This evening the Rt Hon. PM Ngirente received letters of resignation from the Minister of State in charge of Primary and Secondary Education Isaac Munyakazi and  Minister of State in charge of Constitutional and  Legal Affairs, Evode Uwizeyimana, to be delivered to H.E the President”, reads the Prime Minister office’s tweet.

Uwizeyimana early this week assaulted a security officer woman of a private company who was on duty at a commercial complex in Kigali.

He is alleged to have disrespected the woman, refusing her request to pass through security scanning machine as recommended for anyone, thus pushing the woman fiercely.

The Minister was later criticized on social media, prompting him to apologise to the woman assaulted and to the public.

“I deeply regret what happened. It should not have happened to me as a leader and public official. I already apologized to the ISCO staff  (security company) and I now do so publicly and apologize to the public as well”, he tweeted

However critics went on, pressure mounting on him to resign, calling his act a shame to the government that is praised internationally to have gender equality in all sectors.

Rwanda is known internationally to have big number of women in parliament where they occupy 61.3 % and 50 % in Government.

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Briefing: Cameroon’s intensifying conflict and what it means for civilians
February 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

‘The humanitarian situation is increasingly worrying.

By Jess Craig*


Security guards walk outside the Yaoundé polling station where President Paul Biya voted in Cameroon’s presidential election on 7 October, 2018. (Zohra Bensemra/Reuters)

NAIROBI

Cameroonian government forces and rival anglophone separatists have stepped up arrests, abductions, and deadly attacks in the two months leading up to Sunday’s parliamentary and municipal elections, causing a devastating fallout for civilians that looks set to worsen.

Perceived marginalisation by the francophone majority of the minority English-speaking community – some 20 percent of the population, concentrated in the Northwest and Southwest regions – saw a separatist insurgency erupt in Cameroon in October 2016.

But what has until recently been a low-intensity conflict – albeit one that has left an estimated 3,000 civilians dead, and nearly 730,000 people displaced at home and abroad – now risks entering a new and more dangerous phase, according to aid workers, residents, and experts.

Why has violence spiked?

In November 2019, President Paul Biya set a date for the elections, sparking unprecedented violence, destruction, and human rights abuses across the two western regions – referred to collectively by the separatists as the Southern Cameroons or the Republic of Ambazonia.

“This is the first time since the anglophone crisis began that I have seen this level of violence,” Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The New Humanitarian. “I have never seen so many incidences, attacks, and reports [of violence] as I am seeing now.”

Previously, the conflict had been marked by periodic peaks in violence coinciding with public holidays and court proceedings for arrested separatist leaders. “This has now been taken to another level,” Allegrozzi said.

Shortly after Biya’s election announcement, on 1 December, separatists attempted to shoot down a commercial plane landing in Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region. A separatist leader, Cho Ayaba, claimed it was a legitimate target as commercial planes were used to transport soldiers and weapons.

“We are bent on doing anything, anything that it takes for this election, this sham election, this colonial election, not [to be held] in Ambazonia.”

The separatists have declared Sunday’s polls illegal and stepped up operations, reportedly abducting 40 candidates in December and burning down a government election office in January.

“In Ambazonia, we do not have elections, because we do not have a government,” Fombat Forbah Dieudonné, a spokesperson for the Ambazonia Restoration Forces – the defence arm of the self-declared interim government of Ambazonia – told TNH.

“Our government is still an interim government that operates from the diaspora,” Dieudonné said. “We are still fighting to restore our independence.”

Separatists have called for a “lockdown” between 7 and 12 February in the two western regions, with restrictions on movement, and closures of schools, markets, and businesses.

They have issued threats of violence and death to those who do not observe the lockdown via social media, WhatsApp, and separatist-run television and radio stations. Separatists have also called for humanitarian organisations to suspend activities during the lockdown.

“We are bent on doing anything, anything that it takes for this election, this sham election, this colonial election, not [to be held] in Ambazonia,” Dieudonné said. “Our restoration forces have openly declared that there are going to be no elections taking place in their territory.”

The UN has recorded “a significant increase in incidents against civilians since December, including killings and burning of houses and villages with consequent displacement of civilians”, James Nunan, head of the UN’s aid coordination body, OCHA, in the two regions, told TNH.

How are humanitarian needs growing?

As the crisis escalates, civilians are increasingly caught in the crossfire, and assistance is harder for them to attain.

“The closure of over 40 percent of the health centres and the escalation of the crisis because of the elections is likely to intensify the deteriorating health conditions for the over four million people living in the English-speaking regions,” noted independent humanitarian analysts ACAPS on 21 January.

The International Crisis Group estimates that at least 3,000 civilians have been killed since 2016. Across the Northwest and Southwest regions, an estimated 600,000-700,000 children have been out of school since 2016, as 80 percent of schools there remain closed.  

Read more → In Cameroon, education has become a victim of war

As of 31 December, OCHA estimated that 679,393 people had been internally displaced by the conflict, and another 51,000 people have crossed the border into neighbouring Nigeria.

Between 9 and 15 December, 5,475 people were displaced in the Northwest region alone, fleeing military raids and clashes between separatist groups and government security forces. As of 20 December, no humanitarian assistance had been delivered to those newly displaced, OCHA said.

“The humanitarian situation is increasingly worrying.”

Most of the internally displaced people are sheltering in the bush with little access to shelter, food, or healthcare. Providing humanitarian assistance has proved challenging.

The national government has “tough procedures that must be cleared, and passages need to be negotiated with non-state armed groups”, explained Fon Nsoh, a coordinator for the Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD), a local aid NGO based in Bamenda.

“The humanitarian situation is increasingly worrying,” OCHA’s Nunan said. And it is likely to get worse, especially as displacement figures for the recent uptick of violence in January and early February are yet to be properly recorded and needs assessed.

Are civilian abuses being committed?

Whereas during the conflict’s first two years, violence against civilians and human rights abuses were perpetrated largely by government security forces, HRW’s Allegrozzi said such actions have more recently been “coming from both sides”.

“Abuses are being committed, I would say now, in an almost equal manner both by the separatists and the security forces,” she explained. “If, at the beginning, we observed more abuses from the government side, I would say that now, especially with these elections upcoming, that the frequency, the scale, and depravity of abuses committed by the separatists is really serious.” 

According to Allegrozzi, armed separatist groups have targeted and assaulted civilians willing to participate in the elections. They have assaulted, threatened and tortured members and supporters of political parties, including the ruling party and Social Democratic Front, the main opposition party. 

Human Rights Watch documented at least 25 cases of kidnapping of candidates to the elections since mid-November 2019, and heard reliable reports of over 100 people kidnapped by the separatists over the same period. Separatist groups have also used intimidation and violence to keep children and teachers out of schools. 

Most recently, on 1 February, separatists attacked a military convoy in the Northwest region carrying a minister travelling to Mbengwi – the main town in Momo district – for election campaign activities.

“People are afraid. Not so much because they don’t want to vote, but for fear of being abused.”

Civilians have condemned the separatists’ increasingly brutal tactics.

“We all agree that the governance system is not the best,” said Magdaline Agbor Tarkang, Southwest regional president of the Cameroon Women’s Peace Movement, a local NGO. “But again, I can attest to the fact that more than 90 percent of our population don’t agree with that violence, [the] maiming of the same people you are trying to protect, killing them, abducting.”

In this climate of violence and intimidation, “people are afraid”, Tarkang told TNH. “Not so much because they don’t want to vote, but for fear of being abused. The situation is not very convenient for very free and fair elections to take place.”

Government security forces – including military personnel, gendarmes, and police – have also killed civilians, burned hundreds of houses and dozens of villages, and arbitrarily arrested and tortured hundreds of people suspected of having links to the various separatist groups.

They have “failed to adequately address the threats posed by the armed separatists”, and “conducted abusive security operations resulting in an excessive use of force, unlawful killings and destruction of property,” said Allegrozzi.

Are aid workers being targeted?

On the morning of 30 January, separatists kidnapped four staff from COMINSUD.

According to an incident report provided by the local aid NGO, abductors accused the organisation of “working with the government in registering people for elections” and “harbouring a staff of French expression serving as a spy under the pretext of doing humanitarian assistance”.

Three of the four staff members who were abducted were beaten and “subjected to different forms of psychological torture and threats”, the report said. The organisation, working alongside other humanitarian actors, negotiated the successful release of the staff the following day.

Also on 30 January, three staff from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation were abducted in Bambili, a town east of Bamenda, after separatists mistook their suggestion box for a government election box. All were later released without ransom.

What are the latest conflict dynamics?

Armed separatist groups are becoming more organised, mobilising resources from abroad, and carrying out more sophisticated attacks against government security forces.

It is estimated that between 800 and 1,000 government security forces have been killed since the conflict began in 2016. Some 300 separatist fighters have been killed, according to Dieudonné, the separatist spokesperson. 

“Our life is no longer safe.”

Since early January, the military has reinforced the Northwest and Southwest regions, deploying some 700 additional gendarmes, carrying out deadly military raids and clashing with separatist groups, according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group.

According to several witnesses, government security forces carried out military raids on Sunday in Owe and Ikata villages, both in Fako district in the Southwest region, killing three civilians in Ikata. Military raids carried out since the new year have resulted in at least 28 deaths, including six in Donga Mantung, three in Babessi-Ndop, and nine in Mbiame Kumbo.

On 3 and 4 February, government security forces descended on the town of Muyuka, killing three civilians, burning down at least 45 houses, detaining some 300 people, and displacing an estimated 3,000, many of whom fled into the bush, according to eyewitness accounts.

“Our life is no longer safe,” one Muyuka resident displaced by the recent raid told TNH.

What caused the conflict?

Anglophone discord with the majority francophones has roots in the colonial era when once German Kamerun was handed over to Britain and France after World War I. The territories were granted independence in the 1960s, and anglophone Southern Cameroons voted to join francophone Cameroon to form one united country. Since then, anglophone Cameroonians have felt economically, politically, and socially marginalised.  

The crisis escalated in October 2016 when peaceful protests, led by anglophone teachers and lawyers, were met with deadly force. Separatist groups took up arms, initially demanding for a return to the pre-1971 federal system that would give the anglophone regions more autonomy from an increasingly centralised government.

Through 2017, government security forces arrested and detained separatist leaders and continued a deadly crackdown on protesters and civilians.

Calls for autonomy increasingly turned to calls for outright secession and the formation of a country called Ambazonia. Separatist groups proliferated and retaliated. Tensions heightened. President Biya labelled the Ambazonia Defense Forces and other separatist groups “terrorists” and declared war against them in late 2017.

No serious attempt at mediation or exploration of greater autonomy for the western regions has yet been undertaken. Biya announced a “major national dialogue” last year, but it sidelined the separatist leaders and lacked any participation from the international players seen as key to resolving the crisis, namely the African Union and former colonial powers Britain and France.

*Source The New Humanitarian

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Study in the USA: Achieve the American Dream – Part 1
February 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

By John Nkemnji, Ph.D.*

Prof John Nkemnji

Experiencing the “American dream” is the fancy of people, not only Americans, but many youths around the world. Ambitious youths around the world who face challenges to achieve their full academic or career potential in their native countries seek solace in other countries that can afford them with better opportunities. The United States of America is one of those sought after countries.

This article explores opportunities that are available to those who seek refuge in another country to make a better life for themselves. Two of the best ways are 1) legally coming to study in an institution of higher learning and 2) immigrating through the annual Diversity Visa Lottery (DV) program. Enrolling in an institution of higher learning is possible if you have enough funds to pay the cost of tuition and board, scholarship, or sponsor. The DV Lottery program is less expensive and relies on chance. Additionally, if you immigrate via the DV Lottery program, you can still attend school.

Pursuing a student visa is an expensive pathway to moving to the United States. Applicants must prove that they have adequate funds to study in a program that is not readily available in their home country.  Depending on the length of study, they may be required to show proof of at least twenty thousand dollars.  Some people who do not have adequate funds attempt to enter the United States indirectly through another country. This method can be expensive, risky and unsafe as their journey can be faced with unknown circumstances. Once the costs of procuring documents and transportation fees are added up, it may end up costing just as much as providing evidence of funds available for study in an accredited school abroad. There have been instances when immigrants have died during their journey abroad or have been deported back to their home countries.  

It is always best to immigrate legally as it ensures a safe path and avoids legal challenges. One must plan ahead when studying abroad. It takes time to apply for admissions, gather documents, seek a visa, and arrive in time for the start of the academic program. Many schools have application deadlines for students from other countries because the mailing system is usually not as fast or reliable. You may have to resubmit missing documents and wait for a favorable reply. Using an online school application process is convenient if you have reliable internet connection. A high degree of honesty and transparency is valued in the USA.

All schools require evidence that you will be able to succeed academically in your field of studies such as transcripts of your prior academic work, recommendations from teachers, and standardized tests (e.g. TOEFL, SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT) depending on the initial screening. Results of the tests will be required before final admission is granted.

An encouraging note about seeking to study abroad is that many schools know the benefit of enrolling students from other countries. The qualified applicants come to enrich the total learning experience of other students on campus. Students from nations with different values and belief systems enrich American culture. Over a million students from other countries are enrolled in US colleges, according to the Open Doors report. I know schools with about 5000 students who count over 500 students and staff from other nations each year. That gives a ration of about a tenth of the population originating from other nations.  International students contribute a lot to the economy of the USA and support many jobs in a variety of important fields.  A great number of researchers, doctors, professors, engineers, computer scientists, nurses, and other highly priced workers are students or personnel from other countries.

Students enter the country through a number of visa programs ranging from the popular F-1, M-1 to J-1. The F-1 visa is issued to full-time students seeking to study at an academic institution while the M-1 visa is issued to students for a vocational or non-degree granting institution. The J-1 visa is for sponsored graduate students or students on cultural exchange program who will be returning immediately to their homelands after their program completion. It is not necessary to know more about the visa types.

The order of names and the way dates are written is peculiar to systems like the Arabs, Chinese, British, French, and the US. You need to become familiar with the US system.  The name format in the USA system is usually in the following order: FAMILY, MIDDLE and FIRST. If you have just two names or more than three names, use your common name as your first name and your Family/parents’ name as the Family name. You may omit the middle name and other descriptors like: nee or espouse. Your parents’ or the popular name used by the family is FAMILY Name.  The name you were given at birth is your MIDDLE name and your ENGLISH or CHRISTIAN name is your First name. Do not leave the space for FIRST NAME or Family name blank because these names will be your core identity in your new nation.  Some students from the Middle East with difficult to write or pronounced names adopt a popular English name while studying in the USA and relegate their real name to official documents.

The order in which dates are written is also different especially when using numbers. Americans depict dates using the following format: Month/Day/Year.  Admission and application forms usually have spaces in blocks requiring you to enter a letter or number in each block while leaving an empty block between words or numbers.

*Dr. John Nkemnji is Professor Emeritus, Educational Technology. He is an educational consultant and a proponent for life-long learning. This is the first of a two part series

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