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Governments Alone Can’t Tackle Infrastructure Challenges in Health Sector — AigImoukhuede
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments
Mr. Aigboje AigImoukhuede

African governments alone cannot tackle the deep challenges in the continent’s health sector. For success to be guaranteed, Africa’s private sector must be engaged and involved. Indeed, some of the greatest progress towards the health related Millennium Development Goals would not have been possible without support from the Private Sector – in the last 15 years African business leaders and companies have significantly stepped up to the plate in the area of health sector philanthropy. Continued private sector involvement is key if the global Health for All target actioned on the foundation of Primary Health Care (PHC) will be achieved.

The 1978 United Nations Alma Ata Declaration, which identified PHC as a necessary condition for universal access to acceptable levels of healthcare, has not taken root in Africa 42 years after. In fact, the continent is still grappling with basic issues including building the capacity of training institutions; instituting universal coverage health insurance schemes; deploying technology; updating national health policies and a host of others. ABCHealth, our coalition of African business leaders and companies focused on better health outcomes for the African continent, was established by the Aliko Dangote Foundation and GBCHealth to address challenges such as these. We at ABCHealth are committed to the transformation of Africa’s healthcare system, originating universal access at the primary level.

Our Chairman, Mr. Aigboje AigImoukhuede, who also co-chairs GBCHealth, recently provided deep insights into a bold new idea to transform Nigeria’s primary health care sector named ‘The Adopt a Primary Health Facility Program’ which will bring many benefits including the provision of quality healthcare to people regardless of geographic, social or financial barriers. The program has the backing of the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) founded by Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia and Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede. In this interview, Mr Aig-Imoukhuede, former CEO Access Bank Plc, who is one of the key drivers of this program in his capacity as Chairman of both ABCHealth and GBCHealth shares his views about the initiative. Excerpts.

What’s your vision for ADHFP? What’s the anticipated timeline for creation/implementation and importantly what’s the potential impact for Nigeria and Africa in general?

The ‘Adopt-A-Healthcare-Facility-Program’ (ADHFP) is driven by my belief that the African continent will continue to carry the painful and shameful burden of high disease mortality long after the rest of the world has overcome such challenges unless we address the poor state of healthcare systems at the primary level. The goal is to establish a chain of Primary Healthcare Centers (PHCs), across Nigeria’s 774 Local Government Areas and apply market-based reforms to provide lowcost health services at decent standards to the poor and vulnerable. We expect to complete the Program design phase by Q3 2020 and commence pilots before the end of the year. The ADHFP is a multi-impact initiative with several benefits includes the reduction in maternal and infant mortality rates, creating platform for employment opportunities in the sector, enhancing entrepreneurship opportunities and health-focused start-ups, improved public sector accountability, female gender empowerment, increased uptake of micro-health insurance as well as successful health policy reforms.

What informed the setting up of the ADHFP and why now? How did the C19 pandemic influence this decision? To what extent can we say that the outbreak of Covis-19 pandemic influenced the decision and what is likely to change within the African health sector as a result of this initiative?

The ADHFP was conceived early in 2019 well before I had ever heard of the word ‘Coronavirus’. Interestingly, whilst championing the Global Citizens global goal live campaign in Davos this January, I made the case that it is unacceptable for Africa to continue suffering the effects of pandemics like HIV Aids and Malaria long after the rest of the world has put them to bed. I said Nigerians and other stakeholders must launch a movement to revive our ailing healthcare sector starting by fixing the 80% of our 30,000 primary health care facilities, which are currently comatose. COVID-19 is a burning platform for change and reform in Africa’s health sector.

With COVID-19 beaming  spotlight on the weaknesses and inadequacies of our health system, the pandemic has simply reinforced, with devastating effect, the reasons ADHFP was conceptualized in the first place. As the Pandemic spreads, it has become evident to Nigerians that our primary health system must be fixed with urgency; otherwise our people will continue to die needlessly.

Why a private sector led initiative? What is the business case/value proposition for ‘Angels’ to adopt one or more PHCs, how would you rate the quality of feedback and to what extent would you say promoting such an idea in the midst of the pandemic will impact the quality of responses? 

The government’s track record on annual health spending falls far short of the 15% Abuja Declaration to address the heavy burden of HIV, AIDS, TB and Malaria agreed upon by African Heads of State in 2001. Revenue challenges due to global commodity prices as well as poor governance and corruption have also constrained what is spent on health by the government. Funding must come from other sources such as foreign assistance and the Private sector. But beyond funding, Nigeria’s primary health sector is largely the responsibility of the Local Government tier of government, which suffers from weak capacity, poor governance, and an absence of accountability. 

So beyond funding, we will continue to perform abysmally at the primary healthcare level without the involvement of capable and engaged citizens in the running and administration of our primary health system, hence the need for Private Sector organized participation. The program will be implemented as a Private-sector driven initiative. ADHFP will be sponsored by Angel Investors who could be individuals or institutions. Each “Angel” will take responsibility for one or more PHCs. They will build and operate the PHCs for the period of adoption under strict rules and guidelines. Serious work is ongoing to make this vision a reality.

The work is led by the Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PSHAN) founded by Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia, myself and a number of notable organisations who have established themselves as serious actors in the field of Nigerian philanthropy and have rallied to the cause. They include: Global Citizen, Africa Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth), Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC), MTN Nigeria Plc, Dangote Group, Zenith Bank, Access Bank, Stanbic-IBTC Bank, PwC, Cisco, Ford Foundation, Nigerian Stock Exchange, Flying Doctors Nigeria, Africa Practice, Cedar Advisory Partners, GBCHealth, Health Federation of Nigeria, Health Law, Eti-Osa Local Government, JNC International Ltd, Johnson & Johnson, Justice in Healthcare, Lagos State Government, MSD for Mothers, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), ONE Campaign, PharmAccess Foundation, Women-At-Risk International Foundation as well as the SSA to the President on Sustainable Development Goals among others.

What is your vision for the sustainability of these programs beyond the ‘period of adoption’ by Angels? How will these fit within the current MOH system?

Whilst private sector players have a visible role to play in healthcare delivery, healthcare provision in Nigeria is a concurrent responsibility of the nation’s 3 tiers of government. Since the PHCs are integrated into Nigeria’s political system, a proper understanding of the system and safe navigation though its actors are prerequisites for success. It is essential to remain clear-sighted about the limitations to private sector championed public reforms. Without government champions, health sector reforms will fail. We will work with actors at various levels of Government, particularly at the State level, where the leverage for reform is greatest and the spending will take place. Reform champions in government should be identified and engaged vigorously at the levels of Local Government Chairpersons, the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Federal and State Ministries of Health, the National Assembly and the Presidency to advocate for increased political commitment to executing changes and facilitating effective Primary Care delivery. To ensure that ADHFP fits seamlessly into Nigeria’s legal system, our design phase incorporates a thorough evaluation of the regulatory, institutional, and legal landscape to identify regulations, legislation and on-going reforms that will support or hinder the implementation of the ADHFP.

What are some of the challenges you are anticipating and how are you planning to mitigate those? Do you see this as a replicable model for other African countries?

The ADHFP is a ground-breaking, innovative, private sector driven initiative, but there are a number of risks and challenges associated with its development and implementation. At the moment, the most significant risk is the on-going COVID-19 pandemic, with attendant effects arising from restrictions in movement, risks to life and the damage to the Nigerian economy.

Fortunately, a number of tried and tested business continuity strategies have emerged that we can apply to mitigate pandemic risks. Another key risk to be mitigated is the possible loss of enthusiasm by ADHFP sponsors, donors and implementing partners. These are mission critical stakeholders whose interest must be sustained through the highs and lows of reform implementation. Great reliance will be placed on our ability to engage the hearts and minds of donors and implementing partners. Adopting best practices in project management, getting some quick wins and successful delivery of program objectives will go a long way to ensuring that our Angels stay the course. Another risk is misinformation about the ADHFP.

To mitigate this, an effective Communication Strategy will be developed to ensure PHC host communities are carried along. In addition, Traditional institutions, Civil society and the Media will be carried along through traditional and technology enabled channels. Extensive stakeholder consultations with both current and past actors at State and Local Government level is also ongoing with the purposeful intent of getting them to support ADHFP. Once we have demonstrated that we can effectively manage these risks, I am quite confident that ADHFP will become a model of reference for strengthening primary health care delivery across Nigeria. Indeed, through the Africa Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth), it is our intention that the initiative will become a flagship community health development strategy in Africa.

 Your legacy includes building and strengthening the financial and capital markets across Africa. Is reimagining the healthcare system the missing piece on the way to a more prosperous Nigeria?

Thank you for your generous compliments. There are many missing pieces required to solve the Nigerian puzzle and I don’t claim to be able to provide answers to all of them. I only try to answer some of them using whatever time and resources the Almighty God has gifted to me.

What’s your call to action?

It takes Leadership for a community to reach its full potential. I know that each of Nigeria’s 774 local government areas is blessed with citizens who have the capacity to transform the quality of primary health care available to their people.

What are we waiting for?

Let’s join forces and become partners in the business of saving lives!

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Zimbabwe’s Most Active Drivers Union Predicts Severe Health Disaster As Transport Crisis Deepens
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Zimbabwe Union of Drivers and Conductors president Fradreck Maguramhinga

  Zimbabwe Union of Drivers and Conductors [ZUDAC], a drivers and conductors driven organisation has conclusively predicted a severe continuous transport and Health looming crisis amid the shortage of commuter transport throughout the country. This is as a result of ZUPCO fast-tracked arrangement failing to attract more operators in its franchise. The Government through Ministry of Local Government has ordered all transporters to register and operate under [Zimbabwe United Passenger Company] ZUPCO a State controlled bus company.

This has come at a time of covid 19 era which came up with the lock-down in the country from the 1st week of March. Since then private-public transport has been not allowed to operate. Both long distance and commuter buses for private operators have been parked owing attention to the increase of the prevalence rate of covid-19 which up to date has 2000 cases and killed over 20 people.

According to the baseline survey carried since April this year by the union  , Fradreck  Maguramhinga President of the union states that transport operators are complaining on how the ZUPCO Program is run and managed. Transport operators were never given opportunity and room to discuss a deal of a win-win situation. The fact that operators are not paid in amounts adequate to maintain and sustain their vehicles, pay workers and pay for compliance requirements like insurance, VID fitness, this leaves around problems pushing some operators to withdraw their buses out of the contract.

‘’ The situation is catastrophic as we talk. Drivers are earning less than 1 US dollar per day. Operators are earning US6 dollars a day. We are now worried that we are killing both the emerging operators and pushing experienced drivers who migrate to greener pastures in other countries. There is growing discontent among urban and rural travellers as they wake up early as 2am to look for transport. Others are walking long distances ranging from 5 kilometres to 30 kilometres during day and night.’’

‘’Many private vehicles and pirate taxes are taking advantage of the situation. They end up charging exorbitant fares in foreign currency. They end up moving with vehicles without passenger insurance, fitness of which exposes people’s lives to danger. Some drivers have no licences and others are not compliant to ferry passengers.’’

‘’The most worrying issue is that there are no covid-19 restrictions being observed by private motorists. Ranks, streets and pavements are always over-crowded from morning to late evening exposing people to covid-19 . As result of this, the union is appealing to the Government to allow compliant and organised omnibus operators to come back and help clear the overcrowding. This will help reduce and eliminate covid-19 .

 President of the union urges the government to call for an urgent stakeholder meeting as transport shortage has become a nation crisis. He calls for coherence between unions, associations, local government, local authority planning, road motor transport, enforcement, Insurance Council of Zimbabwe and other line ministries including the ministry of labour and social welfare. This he says will pave way for creation of a provisional transport policy as we are riding on a policy which has surpassed its life-span and relevance. He concludes adding that all problems faced in the transport sector are a result of failure to review policy and legislation in time.

‘’We urge the Government to consider this case as the travelling public have suffered severely as a result of transport problems which date back from long back. The union has submitted position papers to Local Government, Ministry of Transport and the covid-19 task-force to show and explain how prepared transport operators and the union are to come back under covid-19 regulations. We are ready to clear the overcrowding and serve lives threatened by corona.’’ ,he noted .

‘’ Transport workers and families are starving to death as they have no sources of livelihoods, marriages breaking and children suffering from malnutrition. Transport industry has benefitted 2 million youth directly and indirectly. Some were working in the ranks, some washing cars, some mechanising cars and buses, selling spares and working as loaders. Now they resort to drugs as they have no employment. It’s not about banning kombis but it is about killing our youth and their dependents. We now urge the government to cautiously consider lives before they pass decision to ban commuter buses. Is this the time to destroy an existing sector at a time when we are under sanctions ‘’ he said?

ZUDAC is a trade union operating in Zimbabwe’s transport industry representing the interest of bus drivers, truck drivers, commuter omnibus drivers and taxi drivers. Our main objectives range from insuring job security, welfare, safety education, training and survival of our employers. The union has created a one stop shop for drivers compliance where they have and get  driver medical examination , customer care training , vehicle ergonomics ,  defensive course , labour dispute resolution ,Hazchem training for transportation and handling of dangerous goods and hazardous chemicals .The union also seek to thank the government of Zimbabwe for opening the door for the union to present problems faced by drivers .The union is also  recommending cross-border truck drivers for emergency pass-ports in this covid-19 pandemic era . This move has been welcomed by all truck drivers.

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Meteorological boss says there will be deficit of rain in the country
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Deputy Director General and Head of operations  of  the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency (SLMA) Gabriel Kpaka

The Deputy Director General and Head of operations  of  the Sierra Leone Meteorological Agency (SLMA) Gabriel Kpaka has said  that this rainy  season there will be a deficit of rain in the country.

Gabriel Kpaka made this statement in an exclusive interview  with Pan African Vision online at his Charlotte Street Office  in Freetown ,where he said for this seasonal forecast, there will be a long dry spell in the country  stating that before the start of any season ,  they do a seasonal forecast  inline with  bench mark developed by the United Nations world Metrological organization .

“The thing is for the particular season , there has to be a  deficit of rain in the country, that is to say there has to be a reduction in rain. That is when we look back from 1990 ‘s there used to be a huge amount of rain , which is the total amount of rainfall which by then used to be around 7,000 -6,000 millilitres  of rain. There will be a drastic reduction of rain for this year , that is like our seasonal forecast there will a long dry spell ,  that is,  it rains today, it takes   two to three days  with no rain and because of the dry spell, it cut the total amount of rain fall that is recorded country wide,’’ he said.

He said in their forecast , they also looked  at temperature stating that  they observed that during this rainy season, there  will be  an increase in temperature thus referencing 1990’s when its rainy season the place is cold but now the place will not be colder compared to some 20 years back.

 “That is like you know way back ,if you try collect back during the 1990s when they say its rainy season, people are happy because there will be  rain and place would become cold but now the place will not be going to colder compare  say 20 years back,’’ Kpaka said

Gabriel Kpaka said  from their seasonal forecast the country  will be  having early  thunder and lightning which normally happened in October adding that they were surprised that the  thunder and lightning started in June more so their strong winds in the Western part of the country.

  “ As a whole now say  when we zoom in for watching into the rainy season , we observed that the rainy season , will start with an early rain ,and which happens . This  data that was  published since April . Rainy season should start in May, but we started recording rain in April’’

When asked that whether the reduction of rain and temperature could be as a result of climate change , the meteorological boss replied “ of course definitely is climate and it’s because of the activities of us humans . one thing we have to know that one of the enhancing factors for rains is that we have vegetations . of course during the rainy season , that is the time , we have less sun rates in this part of the tropical , so  if we have vegetations, more condensations will take place ,that is to say more water particles will come together and then form as rain but then those areas where they have cut down trees what will happened is that they will experience heat wave atmosphere .

The Meteorological boss  went on to say that as an agency they have a mode of communicating some of the weather forecast as they are service providers to the Sierra Leone Airport , stating that without the meteorological agency no aeroplane will not land in the country  thus  their staffs are always working  24 hours putting coded messages to aviation personnel even though they didn’t have power to enforce their recommendations they send them mostly to the Office of National Security .

“ When we did a marine forecast that the sea will be rough , we do not have that power to take people off the waters , the office of National Security and the Marine personnel they have the right to take them off the water , they have that responsibility . So, our Information go through ONS , and the different Ministries . That’s why when we have our seasonal forecast, we send copies to all sectors even the health ministry and recommendations ,’’

The Met boss further said there will be flooding even though there is deficit of rain adding that the cause of flooding from a meteorological perspective is that the threshold is  when there is  record rainfall of 20 millilitres  within one hour and its still raining thus  it is going to cause flooding.

“And most of things that is causing this flooding is the land use in the country .The way people are using land currently in the country, is not really okay . You will observe that people are building in flood prone areas  that are wet land and the wet land already the water level already up . Moreover, the drainage system most of the time , when their rains those at the receiver end suffers especially those in water prone areas,’’ the Meteorological deputy boss explained.

He said as an institution , they have been training farmers to understand weather forecast and providing them early update as it is very useful for them to in their farm work .

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Sierra Leone’s Parliament repeals obnoxious 1965 Public order Act
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

‘It is a milestone for the press freedom and a triumph for democracy and the rule of law ‘,says Speaker of Parliament , Abass Bundu

Sierra Leone’s Parliament has made history by  unanimously repealing  the seditious libel laws in Part 5 of the Public Order Act of 1965 , an obnoxious law that criminalises free speech in the British Colonized Nation.

The House Passed the Public order (Amendment ) Act 2020 which repealed the fifty -five-year-old anti-press freedom legislation in the country , a promise , President Julius Maada Bio pledged in his Manifesto  to do when he becomes president.

President Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) Ahmed Sahid Nasralla said the repealing of the obnoxious law is a ‘Freedom Day’  not only for journalists but for  all Sierra Leoneans in the country.

“ Thank you! thank you! Today (23rd July 2020) is Freedom Day not only for journalists but for all Sierra Leoneans. This is our collective victory and we must all be proud as this marks a new dawn for the Sierra Leone media,’’he said.

Ahmed Nasralla expressed thanks to President Julius Maada Bio and his  entire Cabinet for living up to  promise whilst of thanking the  Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swarray , her deputy Mamadi Gobeh Kamara and the  entire team for piloting the obituary of Part 5 of the POA 1965.

“Thank you, Honourable Members of Parliament, we are most grateful for your support and the exceptional unity demonstrated throughout this process.Thank you to the International Community for your support,’’President Nasralla added , thus admonishing Colleagues, to whom much is given much is expected.

The SLAJ President further said  freedom comes with great power and great power comes with great responsibility stating that as journalist celebrate let them bear in mind that they are starting a new journey to responsible, professional and patriotic practice.

“Personally, I give God the Glory .We will pay befitting tributes to our own and all those who supported us in this long journey when the final assent is given’’

On their part ,  Renaissance Movement, a social movement in the country in a statement heartily congratulated all those who fought, campaigned, advocated and worked for this truly momentous victory in the country thanking President Julius Maada Bio’s government and members of parliament, including opposition parties, deserve huge credit for working together to finally make this important milestone a reality.

“This is undoubtedly a great day for free speech, human rights and democracy in Sierra Leone. For 55 years, too many voices were silenced, too many of our compatriots and fellow activists were sent to prison, intimidated and haunted by this draconian law. We collectively heave a huge sigh of relief today as our country takes another giant step towards living up to its ideals of unity, freedom and justice” said Chernor Bah (Cee Bah) Chairperson of the Renaissance Movement. “As a Movement, we firmly believe that free speech and a free press are essential tenets for a democratic society. Therefore, we are proud to stand in solidarity with our compatriots in the Fourth Estate and all others who fought valiantly for this progress” Cee Bah added.

In a statement , the government said in keeping with the commitment , the President took a bold and courageous step to ensure cabinet approval for the repeal of the criminal libel law and thereafter tabled it in parliament through the Ministry of Information and Communications.

“The Parliament of Sierra Leone has today finally amended the Public Order Act of 1965 ) by repealing Part V of the law which deals with criminal libel and also enacted the Independent Media Commission (IMC) Act 2020 . The IMC Act 2020 will enhance the professionalization  of journalism and make investments in media more attractive ,’’a statement from the Ministry of Information said.

Minister of Information and Communications , Mohamed Rahman Swarray referred to the repeal as “ The bold decision by the Bio led government to repeal this legislation is a very promising step that changes the media landscape in Sierra Leone ,’’ Minister of Information Mohamed Rahman Swarray stated “We hope that practicing journalists will opt for media professionalism , work with the Independent Media Commission (IMC) to enhance its regulatory powers and give the Sierra Leone Association of  journalists the civic and moral responsibility to institute self-regulatory systems for their members ,’’

Speaker of Parliament , Abass Bundu said ‘It is a milestone for the press freedom and a triumph for democracy and the rule of law ‘

Leader of government Business Mathew Nyuma said “ we are doing a repeal in the interest of good journalism and in the interest of good governance .

Today’s amendment of the Public Order Act is a fulfil of one the many promises that were highlighted in his Manifesto that  promises the people of Sierra Leone a free press , a free quality education among others to citizens.

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Sierra Leone : President Bio launches sexual offences Court in Sierra Leone
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has launched the first ever sexual offences Model Court to fight sexual and Gender based violence  (SGBV) in the country at the Law Court Building in Freetown.

The launch of the special sexual offences court by the government of Sierra Leone,  is to fight the increasing number of SGBV  cases in the country despite the President’s declaration of a state of emergency  in February 2019.

According to Rainbow Initiative  , one of the leading institutions providing services to victims of sexual assault and rape in the country it said in 2019, they recorded 3,701 sexual assault cases with 598 pregnancies, 4 HIV positives , and 255 successful prosecution adding that  between January and May 2020, they   recorded a total of 1,272 sexual assault in  five districts with a total of 217 pregnancies and 932 STI that can be directly related to sexual assault.

In his statement President Bio said , this year is a year of deliverables and that today’s launch of the sexual offences Model court is an indicator of his government’s deliverables to the people of Sierra Leone.

“We deliver yesterday and today we are about to start a journey with female, and girls in Sierra Leone . This is truly going to be  a long and arduous journey, but it is one that we should embark on together .With the determination  that we are going to free the girls , the children who constitute mothers , 60% of our population . so, I want to start my remarks by saluting the great courage of sexual and gender-based violence.,’’ President Bio said.

President Bio assured women and girls that the country, and friends of the country that as a government they will continue to show care and stand by them to get justice whilst thanking the first lady for her commitment in the fight against violence on women in the country.

In 2018 , First lady of Sierra Leone , Fatima  Bio, launched the Hands Off our Girls Campaign for the first time in history in order to eliminate rape and culture of rape in the country. The Office of the First Lady as part of the Hands Off Our Girls initiative has mobilized all 16 districts of the country to promote and protect the rights of all girls against sexual violence and other harmful cultural practices.

In her statement during the launching of the court,   Fatima Jabbie Maada Bio said violence against women and girls in the country is a persistent problem that is affecting women and girls not to contribute to national development adding that as the country  walk this path today, “let us go home knowing that violence against women and girls is become common place in Sierra Leone with no regards to their pride , dignity on their future” .“I am honoured to be part of this historic moment in the fight against sexual and Gender Based Violence. As we gathered here this moment  , may I asked us to reflect on the cultural and traditional issues entrenched for the future we want for our women and girls in the society where they are confronted against violence and discrimination on a daily basis ,’’she said.

She added that the time to act is now stating that  in fact, it is well recorded that several of the perpetrators of rape victims  are close relatives  or intimate  partners who conceal of rape acceptable in our society thus saying  Such practices need to be changed.

“ In December 2018 , other African first ladies and the public join me in the streets of Freetown on a peaceful protest to express their frustrations over rape of our women and girls in the country . A situation that is undermining social change and developmnmnt in the country,’’ First lady Fatima explained.

UN women Rep, Dr. Mary Okumu said she was happy with the strides the Bio led administration is doing in the fight against and Sexual Gender based Violence adding that Sexual and all forms of violence against women and girls remained and  outstanding crime and  an obstacle to achieving  true independent of women and girls . 

“These are the important indicators of the political commitment of the government of the republic of Sierra Leone in creating access to justice and safe guarding the rights of women and girls in particular the survivors of sexual and gender-based violence . Is a big , big political commitment,’’ she said.

Chief Justice of Sierra Leone , Justice Babatunde Edwards, said the launched of the sexual offences is a milestone and history in the annals of the development of the judiciary in the country  stating that the judiciary will ensure the dispensation of justice to women and girls.

“  Your 116 hotline and the SGBV one stop supports send referral centres  are most welcome . I will ask that support be given in the centre for video recording to capture witness statement that are admissible in  evidence  and that more doctors be enlisted  to work at or with the centres as only three doctors available for the whole of Freetown let alone the provinces ,’’he said, thus urging the government to employ more doctors to help them in their work.

He added that doctors are relevant to their work stating that their non-availability must invariably slow the adjudication of sexual offences in the court thus saying they  need a good number of doctors across the country.

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Fear as Covid-19 cases in Kenya cross 15,000 mark
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi
Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi

Kenyans are reeling in shock following the rising in the confirmed numbers of Covid-19 cases in the country.

First few months after the novel virus was reported in the African country, a whopping percentage of Kenyans dismissed the existence of the virus. Some went ahead and accused the government of cooking figures to attract foreign aids.

Recently, Kenya has witnessed a rise in the cases sending her citizens to a panic mode.

On Thursday, the Ministry of Health confirmed 793 new cases bringing the country’s tally to 15,601.

The latest figures are the highest number recorded in a single day since March 13 when the first case was reported.

Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Dr. Mercy Mwangangi said the new cases were drawn from 6,754 samples tested in the last 24 hours.

Out of the positive cases, 793 were Kenyans and 3 foreigners.

Age wise, the youngest patient is one- year-old and the oldest is 87 years out of which 593 were males and 293 are females.

The cases were spread across the country as follows: Nairobi (539) Kiambu (63), Kajiado (37). Machakos (57), Migori (26), Kericho (15) ,Narok (11), Uasin Gishu (11), Nakuru (7), Busia (6), Mombasa (4), Kisii (3), Murang’a (2), Laikipia (9), Siaya (2), Embu, Kisumu, Nyeri and Transzoia have (1) case each.

The CAS revealed that 378 have recovered with 199 of the new recoveries are people who were under home-based care system and 179 were in various hospitals.

Total number of recoveries now stands at 7,138.

Three more people have succumbed to the disease raising the number of deaths to 263.

After the daily press briefing on the virus by the Ministry of Health a section of Kenyans took it to social media pleading with their colleagues to take caution by adhering to guidelines imposed by the government.

“Imagine thinking that you’re tough to follow health guidelines, is it really worth the risk? .The fact is the pandemic is still at the peak, it is a social responsibility to regulate yourself!” noted Raila Odinga Junior, son to the former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

“With the rising confirmed cases, let us accept that Kenyans have developed weird rebellious culture. Government needs to take the best steps and decisions however painful they maybe to protect its people from COVID-19 pawn,” said Mwika Roy.

Some could not hide their fear.

“These covid19 numbers are beginning to get scary,” said Sewe Paul.

“Today the news is not any better. Today is the day we’ve recorded the highest number of positive cases since this pandemic struck,” posted Mzalendo Watch.

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S. Sudan: 6,000 Locals Flee Fresh Clashes, Seek Sanctuary at UN Base in Pibor
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Vice President James Wani Igga is heading a Commission to look into the conflicts

Juba – On Thursday, the UN mission in South Sudan has said 6,000 of families flee their homes and sanctuary in its base in Pibor due to a fresh outbreak of fighting in the troubled Jonglei region.

The locals came after the village of Likuangole, about 30 kilometers north of Pibor town, was attacked by armed groups last (Wednesday) night, according to UN.

Tensions remain high in Pibor today [Thursday] with the prospect of many more families seeking protection from the violence.

“We are deeply concerned by these continued attacks and the impact on civilians who are being forced to flee their homes in fear for their lives and to seek sanctuary beside our base where conditions are dire because of recent flooding,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, David Shearer in the statement.

Of recently, there was a report of inter – communal conflict in Jonglei region, hundreds were reported killed. However, the analysts say this will threats the peace process if the government can’t intervene on time.

A week ago, President Salva Kiir formed the committee, head by his Vice President James Wani Igga to investigate the cause of fighting in the region.

“Parties must immediately stop fighting, pull back and return to their home areas. Buffer zones need to be established to protect people and enable reconciliation to safely take place,” said Shearer.

Jonglei region has been blighted by inter – tribal conflict, cattle raiding, child abduction, include militias activities before 2013 civil war.

“This conflict is not simply intercommunal between ethnic groups. Other political figures are at work. External actors need to stop deliberately stoking the conflict for the sake of local communities,” the UN Chief added.

Unless the fighting stops, the cost will be even higher for those who are affected, said Shearer.

“This area has already been badly hit by displacement, flooding, hunger, and COVID-19. Humanitarian agencies are stretched and working at their maximum limit to support vulnerable people. There are simply no reserves to meet the needs of thousands of civilians suffering further harm as a direct result of this violence,” he said. “Too often, it is expected that humanitarians will pick up the pieces but, in this case, resources are so thinly stretched.”

The UN has been engaging with community leaders on the ground as well as at the national level to stop the violence since the attacks began in December 2019.

 It also recently transported members of the Government’s High-Level Committee, including Vice President Wani Igga, to meet with the groups in Bor to find a solution.

“We welcome the efforts of the Government committee to mediate and urge it to ensure the process is inclusive and representative of all those involved, including Nuer, Murle and Dinka,” he said.

“All of these groups are directly responsible for the violence. The solution lies with them. There are no innocent parties here except for the civilians affected,” said Shearer.

More so, the observers fear that this recurring violence in eastern South Sudan  will amounted to any militias if not handle well by the government.

South Sudan just turns nine years, was just emerged from the county’s five year conflict, ended by 2018 peace deal. A partial governments were installed but the implementation of peace process is moving  in slow pace.

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UNDP pledges to capacitate Namibian Parliament to implement SDGs
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Andreas Thomas

UNDP Resident Representative Alka Bathia
UNDP Resident Representative Alka Bathia

Windhoek – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on Thursday pledged to capacitate the Namibian Parliament in its oversight function concerning the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

UNDP Resident Representative Alka Bathia noted the important role that parliament was an indomitable partner in the implementation of SDGs.

“Parliament is a very important partner in terms of implementation of SDGs. Budgets is discussed in parliament. We would want to know to what extent are these budgets responding to the implementation of SDGs.

As you might be aware we are only left with ten years to meet these targets. We are willing to develop tools that will help in the implementation of SDGs in the most cost-effective use of resources and track progress,” Bathia said during a meeting with the Speaker of National Assembly Professor Peter Katjavivi.

Katjavivi has expressed the need for Namibian parliament to form an oversight committee to oversee the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“We want to engage the UNDP to oversee the whole process. We would want a committee that is capacitated. There is a need to be innovative especially given the precarious situation we find ourselves in,” said the Speaker.

He said the committee will not only help meet the SDG targets whose deadline is at the end of 2030 but also support efforts to “alleviate some of the many socio-economic challenges that continue to hamper development”.

As a member of the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union, Katjavivi said Namibia is committed to the implementation of SDGs.

Bathia emphasized that the SDGs online hub platform can provide useful information to parliament. The platform that Namibia launched in February 2020 share information about the progress made about the implementation of SDGs in the country.

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July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments
First new artist signings include respected rappers; Tenor (Cameroon), Suspect 95 (Côte d’Ivoire), & Omzo Dollar (Senegal)

Universal Music Group’s label dedicated to supporting the best in African hip-hop talent and culture across the continent, extends reach into French-speaking Africa.

ABIDJAN, July 24, 2020– Universal Music Group (UMG), the world leader in music-based entertainment, today announced the further expansion of its Def Jam Africa division into three new markets within French-speaking Africa; Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Cameroon, effective immediately.

Def Jam Africa launched in May 2020, as the first label dedicated to representing the best hip-hop, Afrobeats and trap talent in Africa, and follows the blueprint of the iconic Def Jam Recordings label, which has led and influenced the cutting-edge in hip-hop and urban culture for more than 35 years.

Def Jam Africa will now have additional A&R, marketing and digital resources based within UMG’s offices in Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), Dakar (Senegal) and Douala (Cameroon), dedicated to discovering hip-hop talent across all French-speaking African markets and will operate under the leadership of Franck Kacou, Directeur Général, Universal Music Africa.

Kacou will work closely with Sipho Dlamini, CEO, Universal Music Sub-Saharan Africa & South Africa and Def Jam Africa teams in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria, to ensure the Def Jam Africa continues to identify and sign the best artist talent from across the entire continent.

The first flagship artist signings to join Def Jam Africa from these countries are highly respected and hugely popular rappers; Tenor (Cameroon), Suspect 95 (Côte d’Ivoire), & Omzo Dollar (Senegal), The trio joins some of Africa’s most influential artists and MC’s already on the label including: Cassper Nyovest, Nasty C, Larry Gaaga, Boity, Nadia Nakai, Tellaman, Tshego, Ricky Tyler & Vector.

In making the announcement, Franck Kacou said, “We are excited to launch Def Jam Africa in Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal and Cameroon with three of Africa’s most exciting hip-hop artists; Tenor, Suspect 95 and Omzo Dollar. There is a wealth of domestic hip-hop talent here and in the surrounding countries, that has the potential to transcend language and geographical boundaries to appeal to audiences throughout Africa, France and beyond. I look forward to working alongside Sipho to expand our community of artists across the continent, and to help elevate hip-hop from Africa to new heights.

Jeff Harleston, interim Chairman & CEO, Def Jam Recordings said, “The reaction to the recent launch of Def Jam Africa showed the weight and respect that the Def Jam name and brand carries globally. We are excited to welcome these new markets to the Def Jam Family. It provides an important opportunity for audiences worldwide to discover the incredibly talented hip-hop artists emerging throughout the continent.”

Olivier Nusse, Chairman & CEO, Universal Music France said, “African hip-hop is one of the most exciting movements in music today. In recent years we have seen an increase in its popularity in France, but the appetite for African hip-hop continues to grow amongst audiences around the world. We are excited to further expand Def Jam Africa into Cameroon, Senegal and Côte d’Ivoire, and for these incredible artists to help build Def Jam Africa into the authentic and collaborative home of hip-hop across all of Africa.”

New tracks from Suspect 95 – ‘Merc*On’; Tenor – ‘Ce Que Je Veux’ and Omzo Dollar – ‘Dictature 1’ are released today on Def Jam Africa.

Click HERE to download artist images and label assets.

About Def Jam Recordings

Founded in 1984, Def Jam Recordings has represented the cutting-edge in hip-hop music for more than 35 years. Def Jam began as a maverick independent label inspired by downtown New York City’s vibrant street culture and the emerging sound of hip-hop, pioneered by iconic stars like LL Cool J, Slick Rick, The Beastie Boys and Public Enemy. Over the following two decades, Def Jam established its dominance with superstar acts like Jay-Z, DMX, Ja Rule, Method Man & Redman, Ludacris, Rihanna, Jeezy, and the inimitable Kanye West. Now in its fourth decade, Def Jam’s music and lifestyle has grown into a global brand – synonymous with creativity, quality and authenticity – encompassing a diverse roster of marquee and emerging stars like West, Justin Bieber, Alessia Cara, Logic, Pusha T, Jadakiss, Vince Staples, Jeremih, Big Sean, YG, 2 Chainz, Dave East, and Jhene Aiko, among others. Today, Def Jam has reaffirmed its passion for and commitment to hip-hop culture and has expanded its global brand reach to become the most-followed major label on all major social media platforms.

About Universal Music Group

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

Def Jam Africa artists on social media


Suspect 95

Omzo Dollar

Cassper Nyovest

Nasty C


Nadia Nakai


Larry Gaaga



Ricky Tyler

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Africa can tackle medical supply shortages through a regional response
July 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jennifer Freedman

Dorothy Tembo, ITC’s ad interim Executive Director

Africa can position itself strategically and develop a regional response to avoid healthcare product shortages similar to those triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. That’s the main message of Medical Industries in Africa: A Regional Response to Supply Shortages, a new International Trade Centre (ITC) report.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely burdened the global health system, driving a surge in demand for medical supplies such as masks, gowns and gloves. The World Health Organization warned in early March that international production of such goods – known as personal protective equipment – would have to ramp up by 40% to meet demand.

Africa sources just 8% of its health-related products from African suppliers. But the continent can become competitive in some of these goods while combating the crisis and building its own resilience to future pandemics, the ITC report finds. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement has a key role to play in supporting the regional medical industry, it adds.

“We examine the potential of the African medical supply industry and show how trade can be an important element of the continent’s health response, both in the short and long term,” says Dorothy Tembo, ITC’s ad interim Executive Director. “We suggest a strategic mix of open markets, diversified procurement and stronger regional value chains” to  position Africa strategically in the future trade landscape of the global medical industry while safeguarding the health of Africans.

Keeping the regional market open for essential health products is critical, the report says. ITC business surveys on non-tariff measures have found that companies in Africa frequently struggle to import medical supplies because of inspections and customs charges. In addition, tariffs are relatively high: African countries apply a 10.3% average tariff on these items, compared with 7.9% in non-African developing economies and 2.9% in developed countries.

The report urges African governments to review import regulations and consider temporarily lifting tariffs, taxes and other restrictions that hinder access to these goods – especially as the continent has limited sources of such products.

Regional value chains would help diversify global supply

That’s why it’s also important to diversify suppliers, the report notes. Africa imports roughly 90% of its medical products from the European Union, China and India.

The report urges policymakers to consider regional suppliers with export growth potential. Diversifying would reduce the impact of export restrictions on essential goods and make the continent less dependent on just a handful of foreign suppliers. The report identifies Egypt, Ghana and South Africa as viable alternatives for products such as disinfectants and adhesive bandages.

Governments also should help build up Africa’s capacity to produce key medical supplies by developing regional value chains, the report says. Although the continent produces many of the inputs used to manufacture health-related products – such as rubber, fabrics and ethanol – these goods are often exported without any transformation.

Policymakers could support the development of regional value chains by channeling investments into these sectors, the report says. Furthermore, they could leverage negotiations in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to keep trade functioning smoothly along these value chains – for instance, making sure these vital goods trade duty-free within Africa and that other regulations are harmonized.

“Tariff cuts and trade facilitation measures to support the free flow of health products and their ingredients regionally will be an important step in supporting regional value chains in selected medical products,” the report says. “Such measures will help build the continent’s resilience to global health crises and diversify the global supply. It remains important for the AfCFTA negotiations and implementation to prioritize these aspects.”

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Equity Bank Kenya receives $50 million from the International Finance Corporation (IFC)
July 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

 Equity Bank CEO Dr. James Mwangi
Equity Bank CEO Dr. James Mwangi

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has revealed that it has loaned Equity Bank Kenya $50 million to fund Small and Medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.

The announcement was made by the IFC Country Manager for Kenya Manuel Moses.

“IFC’s longstanding partnership with Equity Bank underscores our commitment to Kenya’s financial sector and wider economy, especially during these difficult economic times. Keeping businesses solvent and protecting jobs are essential parts of IFC’s response to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19,” said Moses.

The loan is part of $8 billion set aside by the Washington DC based financial institution in March to boost businesses globally during and after Covid-19 crisis.

Elated Equity Bank CEO Dr. James Mwangi called on their customers especially in the health and manufacturing sectors to seize the available opportunity.

“IFC’s loan, part of our business continuity management plan, will help Equity Bank extend much-needed support to our clients, particularly to SMEs in sectors hit hard by COVID-19. We have purposed to support and walk with them so that they can survive during this crisis, recover, and thrive after it. I call on customers looking to seize emerging opportunities in the health and medical sector to manufacture personal protective equipment (PPE) or support the logistics of the entire ecosystems and value chain to take advantage of the $50 million facility,” reiterated the CEO.

Kenya has reported thousands job losses and business closures since the novel virus was reported in the country on March 13.

The total number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country has hit above 14, 000

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Kenya:Woman charged will illegal possession of ammunition
July 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

A Kenyan woman has been charged for being in possession of 30 rounds of ammunition.

Appearing before Embu Principal Magistrate Henry Nyakwemba, Loise Muthoni pleaded not guilty claiming the ammunitions belong to his lover who allegedly let them in her house without her knowledge.

She was released on Sh.50, 000 cash bail or Sh.100, 000 bond with a surety of similar amount.

Muthoni’s plea to have her bond terms reduced fell into deaf years after the Magistrate turned down her request.

 “You should have investigated the character of your boyfriend before falling in love with him. I can’t reduce the bond because what you are telling the court cannot be ascertained since the dangerous items were allegedly found in your house,” emphasized Nyakwemba.

The suspect was arrested on July 19 in Embu West Sub-County, Eastern of Kenya. The police discovered the bullets wrapped with a magazine in her house.

The case will be heard on August 19, 2020.

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