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Africa could learn a lot from India to address its sanitation challenges
September 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

…….Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention to share India’s
sanitation and hygiene success
By Wallace Mawire

Parameswaran Iyer, secretary in the ministry of drinking water and sanitation and an erstwhile World

Parameswaran Iyer, secretary in the ministry of drinking water and sanitation and an erstwhile World

African countries could learn a lot from India which has taken massive strides towards achieving universal safe sanitation. The number of people without access to toilets in rural India has gone down from 550 million in 2014 to less than 150 million today, through an intensive behaviour change campaign, the Swachh Bharat Mission, which has become a people’s movement. India is on track to achieve
open defecation free status by 2019, significantly contributing to the global achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 on Clean Water  and Sanitation and improving health, educational and other outcomes for millions of people.

The Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India,with support from UNICEF, is organizing the Mahatma Gandhi International Sanitation Convention, MGISC (www.mgiscindia.org) in New Delhi. The convention will bring together ministers and other leaders from over 50 countries around the world in order to both showcase India’s progress and learn about the best Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) practices across the globe.

The MGISC is a four-day international conference scheduled to be held  from 29 September-02 October 2018 in New Delhi and is being organized by the Government of India’s Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM), or Clean India Mission, the world’s largest sanitation programme. WSSCC is pleased to be involved in the event as a convenor of the Technology and Innovation session during the MGISC. The session focuses on the various technologies and innovations in the field of rural sanitation.

A rural sanitation technology competition was organised in the run-up to the MGISC, and the session also consists of presentations by the top five finalists of the competition and selection of the top innovation by the jury. WSSCC is also supporting general communications and outreach for the meeting.

At a briefing last week, Mr. Parameswaran Iyer (IAS), Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, Government of India said

“India has taken massive strides towards achieving universal safe sanitation. The Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched on 2 October 2014, with an aim to build a Clean and Open Defecation Free (ODF) India by 2 October 2019, as a befitting tribute to the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.”

Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, UNICEF India Representative, added, “Safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene are critical to the healt child and every community – and thus are essential to building stronger, healthier, and more equitable societies. SBM is a unique programme, it is the largest such programme in the world and represents a mass movement. Swachh Bharat has captured the attention of the people across the globe. The convention will be a platform to exchange ideas and foster collective effort to ensure that every girl and boy has access to safe drinking water and sanitation.”

Since the inception of the SBM program, the rural sanitation coverage of India has increased significantly, from 39 per cent in October 2014 to over 92 per cent as of end of August 2018. The number of people without access to toilets in rural India has gone down from 550 million in 2014, to less than 150 million today. According to the latest real-time data, over 83.9 million household toilets have been constructed under the Swachh Bharat Mission. As a result, 21 States/Union Territories, 450 districts, and approximately 450,000 villages have declared themselves as free from open defecation.

India is on track to achieve open defecation free status by 2019, significantly contributing to the global achievement of SDG 6. Open defecation can have debilitating impact on the economy. A UNICEF report in 2017 found that if a family invests in a toilet, it will save Rs. 50,000 a year in India. The study conducted across 10,000 households in 12 states, to measure the economic impact of sanitation
at a household level, discovered that a single rupee invested in sanitation, allows a family to save Rs. 4.30 by averting medical costs.

Sanitation is not just about building toilets but about changing behaviour. Open defecation means that diseases such as cholera, polio, and hepatitis are spread more easily. It means that children are at a higher risk of diarrhoea, which in turn leads to malnutrition. Women are the worst affected due to lack of sanitation facilities. A huge number of pregnant women or new mothers die annually in India from
preventable causes. This includes haemorrhage, eclampsia, sepsis and anaemia. Many deaths occur due to poor nutrition and improper sanitation.

The success of the Clean India Mission will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the global achievement of SDG 6.2. India is the only country which received special recognition in the Joint Monitoring Programme 2017 update by the WHO and UNICEF. The MGISC aims to share sanitation success stories and lessons from the participating countries and culminates with the launch of the Mahatma’s150th birth year celebrations in India, as SBM enters its final year of implementation.

The MGISC will be attended by over 50 minister-led delegations from high, middle, and low-income countries including Brazil, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Japan. Participants will gain practical knowledge on key challenges, successes, failures and opportunities, share experiences across regions and with other government decision-makers, and accelerate progress towards ending open defecation as part of the broader effort to achieve SDG Target 6.2 by 2030. Participants will go home
stimulated, motivated and empowered as part of a broader sanitation and hygiene movement.

A parallel exhibition of sanitation innovations will be held at the meeting venue.

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Africa: U.S. is Africa’s ‘Ideal Partner’ for Promoting Democratic Institutions & Economic Growth – Tibor Nagy
September 19, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tibor P. Nagy, Jr.*

Tibor Nagy

Tibor Nagy

After having the honor of serving my country as a diplomat for more than 30 years – 22 of them in eight different African countries – this week I have the opportunity for the first time to underscore U.S. interests in and commitment to the continent at the United Nations General Assembly.

In dozens of meetings and conversations in New York, I will highlight the importance of a continued and strong U.S.-Africa partnership that prioritizes the following goals:

  • Promoting stronger trade and commercial ties between the United States and Africa by establishing a level playing field across African markets;
  • Harnessing the potential of Africa’s tremendous youth bulge as a force for economic ingenuity and prosperity, which is a counter narrative to violent extremism and despair;
  • Advancing peace and security through robust partnerships with African governments via bilateral and regional mechanisms; and
  • Most importantly, reemphasizing that the United States has an unwavering commitment to Africa.
 Far from being mutually exclusive, these priorities are mutually reinforcing. Our failure or success depends on a “whole of government” approach in working with international partners, civil society, and the large African diaspora in the United States, towards a future which leads to peace, stability and prosperity – now and for future generations across Africa.

My experiences in both diplomacy and academia have convinced me that Africa truly is at a critical crossroads, and the direction it takes in the next few years will have a major impact – for good or ill – not only on the continent, but across the world.

 Everyone who follows trends in Africa knows that a demographic sea change is coming between now and 2050, when the continent will double its population to more than two billion and the percentage of Africans younger than 25 years of age will surpass 75 percent. These millions and millions of young Africans will have high aspirations for employment and quality of life – no different than young people anywhere in the world. With the proliferation of social media, African youth have a clear window into the countless possibilities that the world has to offer, but more importantly can compare their own circumstances with those of their peers around the globe.

Africa’s leaders are beginning to understand that their most important challenge is to create meaningful and lasting jobs for their youth. And I plan to do all I can to help, since the United States is the ideal partner for supporting Africans in building and strengthening democratic institutions and the type of business environments which attract investment that foster economic growth.

The fact is that a more prosperous and democratic Africa offers enormous commercial and trade opportunities for the United States.  As the global economy becomes increasingly intertwined and Africa represents a larger share of global trade, I firmly believe that American companies can and should have deeper ties to the continent, which can also lead to our values and way of doing business becoming the standard in Africa.

American businesses put an emphasis on the rule of law, transparency, recourse for investors, and a level playing field.  Our companies also prioritize training and employing Africans for the jobs they should be doing in their countries. This operating model is the underlying secret to our entrepreneurial culture and thriving economy.

As we look to Africa’s future and try to ensure the youth bulge is an asset for the continent rather than a hindrance, it is important to keep several critical factors in mind:

  • The growing number of young people requires an exponential increase in jobs;
  • Job creation requires growing economies driven in part by increasing foreign direct investment;
  • Foreign companies won’t invest in the absence of a welcoming investment climate, a level playing field, and an educated work force; and
  • Finally, African governments which are most open to partnership with the private sector, especially U.S. business, will reap the benefits of knowledge transfers and skills building among their people.

My career has shown me the enormous potential and abundant opportunities for Africa’s future.  As Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, I will be guided by my overarching belief that we must look at Africa through the windshield, and not through a rear view mirror.

I call on U.S. business to take on this challenge as well, and for those with little or no experience on the continent to embrace the vast opportunities that Africa offers.  I am deeply humbled that President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo are entrusting me with the honor of leading the Bureau of African Affairs, and helping lead our engagements in Africa at this most crucial time in the continent’s history.

*The Piece was originally published at Allafrica.com.Ambassador Nagy is Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairsin the United States Government. He is a retired career Foreign Service Officer who spent 32 years in government service, including as the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia (1999-2002) and Guinea (1996-1999), as well as the Deputy Chief of Mission in Nigeria (1993-1995), Cameroon (1990-1993), and Togo (1987-1990). He received his B.A. from Texas Tech University and M.S.A. from George Washington University.

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The Center for Human Rights and Democracy (CHRDA) condemns Cameroon governments travel permits requirements and restrictions in Anglophones regions
September 19, 2018 | 0 Comments
These kinds of action not only harm the future prospects of individuals and peace, but also diminishes our own reputation and performance as an outward-looking community
 

Felix Agbor Anyior Nkongho

Felix Agbor Anyior Nkongho

YAOUNDE, Cameroon, September 18, 2018/ — Calls on government to start an all-inclusive dialogue to end the deadly crisis; Calls on all Anglophones and Francophones in Cameroon and the international community to speak out against this hateful policy 

The Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA) (www.CHRDA.org), the leading human rights organization working to realize human rights in Cameroon,  strongly condemns the decision by the government of President Paul Biya through its Regional Delegate of Transport in the Northwest Region, to issue a travel restriction among Anglophones in the North west region.

This policy amounts to nothing less than a xenophobic and counterproductive action by the government and it should be repealed immediately.

This tragic decision by the government violates the best traditions of Cameroon’s constitution as well as in direct contravention of international humanitarian and human rights laws. We implore President Paul Biya, and those around him, to consider the ramifications of the travel restrictions on Anglophones.

In a time when the country is faced with its worst crisis since independence many citizens and law enforcement personal losing their life’s, Cameroonians are looking to their government for many things including leadership, all-inclusive dialogue, guaranteeing their rights and ending the violence.

These kinds of action not only harm the future prospects of individuals and peace, but also diminishes our own reputation and performance as an outward-looking community.

This policy by the government does not make Anglophone and Francophones safe; rather, it makes us less safe by breeding negative sentiments around the country, stifling opportunities, escalating violence,  interfering with cross-cultural relationship building, and making it more difficult to provide assistance and protection to those who need it most especially the refugees I visited in Nigeria and Internally displace persons CHRDA tries to assist on a daily basis.

In the midst of an escalating war in the country, this is a significant setback for those who are obviously in need of protection and those who are finding peaceful solution to the crisis. The Cameroon government must live up to its international obligations and provide protection for those fleeing persecution and conflicts in the Anglophone region and not restrict travel.

We call on all Anglophones and Francophones in Cameroon and the international community to join us in speaking out against this hateful policy, which sends an official message of intolerance, undermines the Cameroonian people, and threatens the lives of thousands of people who desperately and urgently need sanctuary in our country—while doing nothing to bring peace to the Anglophone region.

Felix Agbor Anyior Nkongho,Founder and Chairman,

Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa

 

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Silent Cries – Is Anyone Listening? Experiences of Parents & Children Living with Disabilities in African Diaspora Communities.
September 17, 2018 | 4 Comments

By Nkeu-ndum  Giddeon N.Angafor

Giddeon & Claris with their two boys, Lesra and Gicles

Giddeon & Claris with their two boys, Lesra and Gicles

I am not sure about you, I do not know your personal thoughts, beliefs, convictions and approach to disability. All I can say, and with certainty too is that most African communities in the diaspora hold varied and diverse views about disability.  Some see disability negatively, noting that it is a subject not to be discussed, especially in public.  For others, disability and disabled persons are generally portrayed stereotypically, seen either as a curse, the result of a sinful act committed by their family or a burden to society. Some, like me, see it as a positive challenge, a unique opportunity to usher in new concepts, convictions and a shift in some of the thought processes about disability and the disabled within our communities. I am acutely aware, based on experience, that some families of African descent in the diaspora who have children living with disabilities experience uncountable daily challenges. That some of the issues which they encounter, and which they find difficult to articulate are the results unconscious and sometimes deliberate actions of the people in their communities.  As a parent, caring for a child with autism and disabilities, some of the views elaborated above, and the actions alluded to can cause overwhelming distress. These cause some families affected by disability to constantly cry out, albeit silently, asking to be heard, seeking to be understood, wanting to be accepted, especially by those they call family, their African diaspora communities.

As parents of a child with autism and other disabilities, we have learnt, over the past 13 years, that some of our kin and kindred find it hard to accept, let alone embrace, articulate and celebrate the reality of disability.  Such a lack of understanding and failure to recognise and accept that disability is a fact of life, even by some who have family and friends living with disabilities is a bigger challenge than caring for the person living with a disability. Due to these and other difficulties, some parents of children with additional needs find it hard to go out in public for a number of genuine reasons. This has come to light, over and over in our support network for parents and families of disabled children. Many of them recount examples of when they and their disabled child have been looked at as if they do not have a right to belong. Many parents of disabled children of African descent that we encounter have experiences of when adults, especially those of ‘high status’ within their communities, who they expect to be understanding have pulled their child away from a child with a disability as if they were something contagious. Some of these negative actions and approaches to disability by some members of African communities in the diaspora stem from their families, communities and cultural approaches to disability, which are not only negative, but I dare say outdated. Needless to say that their effects can be quite hurting for those at the receiving.

Being parents of African descent in the diaspora, whose child lives with disabilities, my wife and I understand the origin of these views, however, we do not condone them. Unfortunately, this is not true of all the parents in our situation as our interactions indicate that some find it difficult to accept, let alone understand that some can still hold such views. This is true of our Ugandan friend who cannot reconcile the fact that many in his diaspora community work in the medical or care profession, looking after adults and children with disabilities. In spite of that, they fail to accept and accommodate one of theirs in a similar situation. What is more worrying for our friend is the fact that some in his diaspora community make jokes and negative comments about disability in his presence. In doing so, they are failing to recognise the hurt and psychological trauma it brings to his family. Many of us can come to terms with the fact that this is happening, however, we should refuse to give these views our blessing. The key question here is WHY should we say NO to such attitudes?

Claris and Lesra at a Community event

Claris and Lesra at a Community event

The first and natural reason why we should shun these views for me is personal, the fact that we are the parents of a handsome young 13-year-old, who is living with autism and other disabilities. A son who did not ask to be born, a life that we made, and one that we have a duty and a responsibility to love, care for, appreciate and celebrate, irrespective of whether they are disabled or not. Secondly, our experience and that of other parents and families of African background, who are in similar situations teach us that our communities’ approach is driven by fear, ignorance and in some cases, a culture which we have failed to hold accountable. (Especially as most of the views and approaches about disability in these cultures have no sound scientific backing).  We are afraid to let go of our deep-rooted, false assumptions and traditional beliefs; that disability is a curse or the result of witchcraft. Believing that if we dare to associate with ‘such’ then we will be contaminated or cursed. We forget that these children are individual and different, that they live a different reality, one which we should seek to understand and appreciate instead of judging and stigmatising them.

Giddeon and Lesra

As a community, we are not only invited but challenged to share the reality of these parents and their children. A reality which calls us to come out of our comfort zones and dare to journey with them, seeking to understand them, especially their lives and their stories, so that we can better appreciate and communicate what it means to have a disability. If we do this, we can experience how it feels to be the family, friend and community member of a person who lives with disabilities. Doing this will enthuse those from African backgrounds, who see disability as a tragedy for the child and their family to start seeing it as an opportunity to share our common humanity with them. An occasion to challenge views which encourage a culture of ‘us’ and them, creating an impression in some that they do not belong in our circles. When we embrace this new approach our communities will keep fear aside and start seeing disability as an occasion to prove our collective ability. They will engage in build platforms imbued with love, support and understanding for children, parents and families of those living with disabilities. By so doing, our communities will gain a new impetus, one in which we can all stand together and be each other’s keeper, acting positively and morally, in a way that is dignifying to all with additional needs.

As I draw to a close, it is fair to note, that everyone, including the rich and famous, has their own challenges. It is also important to ascertain that some of the challenges faced by parents and siblings of children living with disabilities within African communities stem from misconceptions, a lack of understanding and sometimes actions of their peers which are not deliberate. Despite that, our experience of being at the receiving end teaches us that in communities where people accept, embrace, articulate and celebrate disability, the burden is less cumbersome for those in these situations. This explains why it is important that our communities should cultivate cultures which show kindness and consideration to those facing any disability challenges. Recognising that a child with special needs is ‘somebody’, not a ‘nobody’. They are someone’s child, a brother or sister, who is loved, treasured and celebrated, even if just by one person. They are not a ‘retard’, ‘ngombe’, ‘craze thing’ or a ‘troublemaker’ as they are sometimes called in our communities.

Giddeon skydiving to raise autism and disability awareness

Giddeon skydiving to raise autism and disability awareness

It is my fervent wish and hope, that together we can tease out, and find ‘ability’ in disability (this ability). That as individuals and African communities in the diaspora we can blossom together, supporting and enabling our community members with children with disabilities to thrive and fulfil their God-given talents. That together we can deploy and manifest our ‘abilities’ which are that which is life-giving and empowering. Together we can accept, embrace, articulate and even celebrate disability as part of the realities of life, it is not enough to just see it as a taboo.

*Nkeu-ndum Giddeon N. & Claris N. Angafor are the founders of CAN-Abilities Foundation, a family run foundation and advocacy charity which creates disability awareness amongst ethnic minorities and other communities in the UK. You can find them at www.canabilities.org or follow them on Facebook to keep abreast with their activities.

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Rainwater storage and smarter farming is making life easier for Niger’s farmers
September 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Thin Lei Win*

Men buying and selling goats at the market in Dargue village in Maradi Region in south central Niger on Aug 16, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Thin Lei Win

Men buying and selling goats at the market in Dargue village in Maradi Region in south central Niger on Aug 16, 2018. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Thin Lei Win

DARGUE, Niger, Sept 14 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Grappling with desert conditions, insurgency and decades of political instability, Niger has long struggled to feed its rapidly growing population. But experts say efforts to change that are bearing fruit – and may even be a model for the region.

Four out of five of Niger’s people eke out a living through farming or fishing, yet three-quarters of the landlocked west African country on the southern edge of the Sahara is arid.

Among them is 35-year-old Boukari Lawali, who struggled to produce enough food for his family from his six-hectare plot before 2015, when the United Nations launched a pilot scheme to help farmers in his village use rainwater more effectively.

“Before, the produce from my farm would be enough for only three months, now we have food for seven months,” Lawali told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in Dargue, a dusty village in the south of the country.

“Before, if there was rain, the plants would be washed away. Now they are not,” said Lawali, a father of six who grows millet, sorghum and beans.

Lawali’s farm was transformed using an ancient technique that involves digging half moon-shaped trenches to allow rain to soak into the soil during the wet season instead of running off the hard-baked surface.

The simple technique is helping to restore land that was once fertile but has been degraded by erosion, deforestation, overgrazing and climate change.

Since 2015 nearly 20,000 hectares of agricultural and pastoral land has been restored in this way with the help of the U.N., which has also provided farmers with better seeds and built markets to make it easier for them to sell their produce.

The impact has been transformative.

Villagers say malnutrition has all but disappeared and school attendance in the village and surrounding areas has more than doubled.

The head of the World Food Programme – one of the U.N. agencies running the project – said Niger could be a “model for all of Africa” if this scheme and others like it were rolled out across the country.

“Niger can be an effective role model where when we work together, we can end hunger, we reduce migration, teen pregnancies, birth rates, conflict as well as recruitment by extremist groups,” David Beasley told journalists during a recent visit to Niger.

CONFLICTS

Niger, a former French colony with a population of about 20 million, is one of the world’s least developed countries with among the highest fertility rates.

Conflicts in neighbouring Mali and Nigeria have pushed thousands of refugees into the country in recent years.

With food production struggling to keep pace, the government has set out ambitious plans to restore 1 million hectares of degraded land over the next four years and boost irrigation.

Currently just three percent of all irrigable land in Niger is irrigated.

“We want to scale this up, not just with the U.N. partners but with others too,” said Ali Bety, who heads Nigeriens Nourishing Nigeriens (3N), a government initiative to combat hunger and poverty.

“In Niger it doesn’t rain very much, but when it does rain it is quite intense, so we need to find a way of harvesting all of that water so we can irrigate and grow for a longer period,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, the U.S. government’s main development fund, is investing $254.6 million to rehabilitate and develop three large-scale irrigation systems.

On a smaller scale, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is introducing cisterns to help people harvest and store rainwater in Niger, where desertification claimed 100,000 hectares of land every year.

Bety said he wanted to end the cycle of “constant food insecurity” that has left 1.6 million Nigeriens reliant on food handouts according U.N. estimates.

Last year the 3N initiative was credited with halving the number of people suffering from hunger in Niger since 2011 in a U.N.-backed award for the world’s best policies to combat desertification.

The regional head of mission for the U.S. government’s aid programme USAID, Lisa Franchett, said there had been “substantial improvements in the prevalence of hunger, poverty and stunting” in the areas where it works with the government.

Near Dargue lies an area of pastoral land where people from surrounding villages have been paid to build half moon pits around which small plants are now starting to grow.

Issoufou Bizo, who is overseeing the restoration project, thought the land had been left permanently barren after a severe drought in 1984. Now he brings his sheep here to graze.

“I remember when there used to be a forest here. There were trees everywhere. There were also birds and animals,” said the 42-year-old. “I feel very happy to see this green again.”

* Courtesy of Thomson Reuters Foundation

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U.S. Drops Charges Against Ex-Senegal Official in Chinese Energy Bribery Case
September 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Matthew Goldstein*

Cheikh Gadio at the United Nations in 2015. He was arrested in late 2017 as part of a high-profile foreign bribery case.Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press, via LightRocket, via Getty Images

Cheikh Gadio at the United Nations in 2015. He was arrested in late 2017 as part of a high-profile foreign bribery case.Albin Lohr-Jones/Pacific Press, via LightRocket, via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors have quietly dismissed charges against a former Senegalese government official who had been accused of conspiring with a representative of a large Chinese energy company in a bribery case.

In a one-page filing, federal prosecutors in Manhattan said on Friday that they were withdrawing charges against the former official, Cheikh Gadio, but offered no explanation for the decision. Dismissals of this sort often come with agreements not to prosecute in return for testimony.

The dismissal of the criminal complaint against Mr. Gadio, who had served as Senegal’s foreign minister, came roughly 10 months after he was arrested along with Chi Ping Patrick Ho in a high-profile foreign bribery case that could shed light on the operations of CEFC China Energy, an energy conglomerate with close ties to the Chinese government.

The authorities have said Mr. Ho met Mr. Gadio at the United Nations in 2014 and later paid him $400,000 for helping to use his influence with the president of Chad to secure oil rights for the Chinese energy company in the African country. Mr. Ho, who worked for a Hong Kong research organization that got financing from CEFC, is separately charged with paying bribes to officials in Uganda to secure similar oil deals for the energy company.

The dismissal of the bribery charges against Mr. Gadio presents an interesting wrinkle in the case against Mr. Ho, who now stands to go to trial alone in a federal courtroom in Manhattan in November.

Mr. Gadio is expected to testify at the trial but there is no indication of any broader agreement with federal prosecutors from the Southern District of New York.

 The dismissal came after months of negotiations between Mr. Gadio’s lawyer and prosecutors, according to prior court filings in the case.

“We are extremely grateful that the case against Dr. Gadio has been brought to a just resolution,” said Sean Hecker, a lawyer for Mr. Gadio. “Dr. Gadio looks forward to continuing to cooperate with U.S. authorities before returning to Senegal to continue his service to the Senegalese people.”

The charges against both men were brought under the federal Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which is often used to police the actions of United States companies operating overseas. The charges against Mr. Ho are a bit unusual because they involve a Chinese company operating in Africa. The main connection to the United States is that Mr. Ho was a frequent visitor to New York and had meetings at the United Nations.

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Opposition party calls for Nigeria’s Ex-finance Minister’s prosecution by anti-graft agencies
September 15, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

President Buhari and former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

President Buhari and former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

The Nigeria’s major opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has called on anti-graft agencies to arrest and prosecute the former Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun.

In a statement , the national publicity secretary of the party, Kola Ologbondiyan opined that PDP equally wants a fundamental probe on the alleged diversion of oil proceeds, fraudulent oil subsidy deals, leading to high fuel price; depletion of Nigeria foreign reserves, embezzling of funds returned by Switzerland and other huge sleazes in the ministry.

Recall that Adeosun had yesterday tendered her resignation letter following dishonour that surrounded her forged National Youths Service Corps, NYSC, Certificate.

According Ologbondiyan : “This perhaps explains why President Buhari has not relieved his Special Assistant on Prosecution and Chairman of the Special Investigative Panel for the Recovery of Public Property, Chief Okoi Obono-Obla, of his appointment in spite of the West African Examination Council (WAEC) confirmation that he forged his Secondary School Certificate.

Is it not clear to all that the Buhari administration’s so-called anti-corruption war and purported integrity are mere orchestrations to hoodwink Nigerians and the international community, while Mr. President oversees the most corrupt administration in the history of our nation?

The party invites Nigerians to note that President Muhammadu Buhari, whose administration has become notorious for shielding its many fraudulent and corrupt officials, could not summon the rectitude to sack Mrs. Adeosun.

She would have still been in office, if not for the sustained uproar by Nigerians and international creditors. “

The PDP further call for immediate open inquest into the records of the Finance Ministry under Adeosun, to unravel all improprieties by the Buhari Presidency cabal, including alleged diversion of oil proceeds, fraudulent oil subsidy deals, leading to high fuel price; depletion of our foreign reserves, embezzling of funds returned by Switzerland and other huge sleazes in the ministry.”

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Gambian Lala Touray voted 2018 Africans anti-corruption champion
September 14, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Lala Touray from The Gambia has been voted as the 2018 Africans Rising Anti-Corruption Champion, according to Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity.

Lala Touray

Lala Touray

It is reported that 20 years old Lala is an award-winning Gambian Poet and CEO of Kids Community Library Foundation. In 2017, Lala started the “Gambia in-Depth” project which she has used as a platform to sensitize and raise awareness about corruption, unemployment, poor education system, poverty, the culture of silence, and bad governance in The Gambia.

It is reported that in her pursuit to fight corruption, Lala recently created a video which brought to life issues that Gambian brothers and sisters are constantly battling against, namely corruption in leadership and institutions. As the winner of the contest, Lala is officially crowned as Africans Rising for Justice, Peace & Dignity’s 2018 Anti-Corruption Champion. She is the first of 10 African activists to be invited to the 2nd cohort of Activists in Residence, a program that will take place in October 2018.

“We would also like to congratulate the second runner-up, 25 years old Nelson Komba from Kenya. Nelson has an equally impressive track record of fighting corruption, he wrote a book titled “24 Hours of Equality ” which takes a critical look at corruption and how it can be tackled to ensure a more sustainable economic development in Africa. 24 Hours of Equality highlights the cross-cutting systems if corruption throughout our continent and how the formation of integrity clubs in schools will serve as a project to train leaders about ethics in leadership,”Africans Rising for Justice, Peace and Dignity has said.

The organization says that,as Africans Rising, they intend to use the competition to unravel African activists championing the fight against corruption through multidisciplinary forms of expression. “We believe that it has inspired many among us to continue working together to clamp down on corruption,” they add.

“Africans Rising is grateful to all the participants in this competition. We were thrilled to learn about all the creative and innovative tools which many of you have developed to denounce the corruption that has plagued the economic growth of the peoples of Africa,” they said.

“We would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the hundreds of voters that helped us select our very first Anti-Corruption Champion and we are looking forward to keeping you updated on the work of our champions,” they added..

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Centurion Law Group and Africa Energy Chamber joins Senegal in ‘Invest in local capacity building’. Senegal tells global oil investors
September 14, 2018 | 0 Comments
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D.R.Congo:What Do Our Cenco Bishops Finally Want?
September 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
FILE - Archbishop Marcel Utembi, second left, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), and other Catholic bishops arrive for the signing of an accord at the interdiocesan center in Kinshasa, Jan. 1, 2017 following talks launched by the Roman Catholic Church between the government and opposition.

FILE – Archbishop Marcel Utembi, second left, president of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), and other Catholic bishops arrive for the signing of an accord at the interdiocesan center in Kinshasa, Jan. 1, 2017 following talks launched by the Roman Catholic Church between the government and opposition.

Since President Joseph Kabila’s unprecedented historic decision to scrupulously respect the Constitution by not running for a third consecutive term, it had been believed that the quarteron of the Catholic Church’s crowned heads who were auctioning off the alleged project of violation of the Basic Law by the Head of State, had come to their senses.

No, I don’t think so. The temptation of clericalism, which is the clergy’s claim to dominate political life, even though it was criticized by Pope Francis, was clearly too strong in some of them.

Since Monday, they have returned with a heavy burden against the Congolese electoral process, yet until recently they were passionate defenders through an advocacy document addressed to the President of Zambia in his capacity as President of SADC.

Certainly, the Bishops of CENCO who signed this memorandum underline some significant progress in the process. But the concerns and worries they express embrace point by point the most far-fetched theses of a certain radicalized opposition at the same time as they tend to destroy the work of appropriation of the said process by the Congolese themselves.

Whether it is the insecurity in the East that they pretend to suddenly discover whereas they were clamouring for elections despite this insecurity, which is also in the process of being reduced;

Whether it is a question of some deficiencies in the electoral register already settled or in the process of being settled by the CENI in accordance with the Electoral Law or the exclusion of some candidates for the presidential election for reasons of ineligibility based on the Law, such as the prohibition of a third consecutive term of office for President Kabila, which they had made themselves the spokespersons;

And finally, the use of the voting machine, which responds to the need to rationalize the electoral process advocated by the entire political class in December 2016, under their auspices;

In view of the recommendations made by the Bishops, which are nothing less than an attempt to dispossess Congo’s sovereignty in favour of foreign actors such as the SADC, to which they demand that the subcontracting of Congolese elections be entrusted, one may wonder whether these prelates do not relapse into their historical role as foreign intermediaries opposed to the total independence of the DRC as their Belgian precursors were in the aftermath of independence in 1960.

Their apocalyptic alarm bell sounds in this respect, resemble a call for the Congo to be placed under guardianship, and an early encouragement to undermine the credibility of any idea of national sovereignty. This is an attitude that is unacceptable to all Congolese patriots, who lay  claim  to their full rights of  self-determination acquired 58 years ago, as well as peace and respect for the rule of law.

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Crisis in Anglophone Cameroon Worsening- UN Human Rights Chief
September 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Michele Bachelet, Presidente of Chile speaks during Special Session of the Human Rights Council. 29 March 2017.

Michele Bachelet, Presidente of Chile speaks during Special Session of the Human Rights Council. 29 March 2017.

The new United Nations Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet in her opening statement at the ongoing 39th session of the Human Rights Council expressed concern over the ‘worsening’ Cameroon crisis. Michelle Bachelet who took over from Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein did not waste time in launching a scathing attack of the reluctance of the Yaoundé to address the ongoing conflict between the government forces and the separatists.

In her opening remarks, Michelle Bachelet lamented the reluctance of the Cameroon government to move swiftly in bringing to an end the Anglophone crisis. Taking a cue from Bachelet’s opening remarks, it’s safe to say that she thinks that the Cameroon government is primarily the main actor that can calm down the tension in the country paving way for peace. The reluctance therefore of the government has not only brought untold suffering to the affected but it has also ‘discouraged’ others local and international actors who may have played a key role in bringing the crisis to an end.

Women protesting against violence on the English speaking regions of Cameroon

Women protesting against violence on the English speaking regions of Cameroon

In order to fully reveal how the reluctance of the Cameroon government has led to the suffering of thousands of people in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon, Bachelet spoke about the economic, social and educational impact of hostilities by government forces and separatists.

Economically, trade between Cameroon and other countries and also intra-trade has been hugely affected. There is also a probability that a prolonged crisis in the country will isolate the country and may potentially lead the UN and other powerful countries to place economic sanctions on Cameroon which would seriously affect the economic prospects of the country.

Socially, the crisis has led to the disintegration of friendships and family relations. Perhaps more importantly, the divisions which have been (and are still being) created by the crisis may become entrenched. Even if an agreement is reached to end the crisis, the divisions that have been created between Anglophone Cameroon and Francophone Cameroon may last for years if not eternity.

The attack on teachers and students in the northwest and southwest Cameroon has led to the closing of virtually all schools in this part of the country. This has a negative impact on the educational growth of students and may affect Anglophone Cameroon for generations.

Furthermore, Bachelet said that the crisis is a serious threat to the country’s democracy. Due to fear of reprisals, Bachelet said that some potential candidates may fail to participate in the upcoming presidential elections.

Bachelet in her statement placed the number of people who have fled their homes in fear of attacks from the government forces at 180 000. She said that the majority of these people are in serious need of humanitarian assistance.

In her closing remarks, Bachelet said that the Cameroon government holds the key to ending the crisis in the country. She said the government has failed to act in promoting “the conference on dialogue suggested by religious leaders, and there is still no mechanism in place which could envisage a halt in hostilities in the short term.” This, therefore, is a huge problem as the government is showing no desire to halt the hostilities. Bachelet urged the Cameroon government to do its duty as a government so that it stops the killings of hundreds of civilians.

Bachelet continues on the same path as her predecessor, Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein who constantly reminded the Cameroon government of its main duty as a government like protecting its citizens both from external and internal forces.

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South Sudanese president, rebel leader sign final peace deal without reservations
September 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Kiir and opposition leader Machar shake hands during the peace talks

President Kiir and opposition leader Machar shake hands during the peace talks

Juba – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir signed a final revitalized peace agreement with rebel factions in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa in the latest an attempt to end almost fifth year’s civil war.

The event that took place on Wednesday evening was under the auspices of the regional political bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, IGAD.

The signing in Ethiopia came after months of negotiations and preliminary pacts. It seeks to draw a line under the conflict that began in December 2013, has caused near-economic collapse and forced more than a third of the country’s estimated 12 million citizens from their homes, fueling the world’s third-largest refugee crisis after Syria and Afghanistan.

South Sudan plunged into warfare two years after independence from Sudan in 2011 when a political dispute between Kiir and then vice-president Riek Machar erupted into armed confrontation. The civil war has killed more than 10,000 people, displaced two million and held up the country’s progress since it gained independence seven years ago.

Machar, leader of the main rebel group, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition, and other insurgent factions, includes South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), Gabriel Chang Changson, and SPLM- FDs leading member Deng Alor signed the new agreement with the Juba government after assurances that a power-sharing accord would be honored.

The deal, which has international and regional backing, grants rebels and other opposition figures major positions in an expanded South Sudanese government, with Machar returning as first vice president. It won’t be enacted until May at the earliest and is the second attempt to form a transitional administration with the rebel leader after the first collapsed weeks into its implementation in 2016.

A previous peace deal signed in 2015 fell apart a year later after clashes broke out between government forces and rebels in July 2016, followed a months of the formation of TGONU.

The deal was signed by leaders of the different factions and by representatives of the IGADregion and the body’s secretariat. IGAD is currently led by Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, he delivered a stern warning to the parties to ensure that the current deal does not fail.

“The eyes of the world are upon us as the South Sudan leaders commit today to press for reconciliation and lasting peace in their country,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Ahmed said ahead of the signing.

In statements after the signing ceremony, the information minister Michael Makuei welcomed the signing of the revitalized peace agreement by all the parties, said that his government from now on wards will start the implementation process.

 “Nobody abstained from the agreement and from now onward we will start with the implementation. My appeal to the people of South Sudan is that let us forgive ourselves, let’s work together for the whole interest of our people,” Makuei said.

For his part, a member of the opposition group, Dr Lam Akol describes the signing as big step forward:

“I must say it is a big step forward, meaning it is a bright day for South Sudan that the parties have finally put their signature on a peace agreement that we hope will last,” Dr. Akol said, who is due to take over vice president post.

On other hand, the head of the United Nations mission in South Sudan, David Shearer, welcomed the agreement while warning the “greatest challenges are yet to come during the implementation phase.”

“The United Nations and the international community will be expected to play their role in assisting with genuine reconciliation and peacebuilding activities. However, we need to be persuaded by the demonstration of collective political will of the parties to implement an agreed and realistic implementation plan,” said David Shearer, at signing ceremony. “The key ingredient still lacking is trust. Those signing the agreement are former friends and foes. From my discussions with the parties, suspicion is widespread. It is beholden on all of us to encourage trust between parties,” he added.

The SRSG particularly acknowledged the efforts of the IGAD, the Governments of Sudan and Ethiopia who have patiently championed negotiations over the past few months and shown true leadership in bringing the parties together to sign a new agreement.

“A genuine commitment to peace and concrete actions to implement the agreement will encourage the people of South Sudan to move back to their homes to lead lives that are safe and self-reliant. And, enable the country to transition from its current dire economic state to an environment that attracts investment and development,” Shearer said.

Troika countries’ concerns

While the government and UNMISS is optimistic about the new deal that aim to end the bloody shed in East Africa’s youngest nation, the Troika countries remain skeptical over the latest deal.

“We remain concerned about the parties’ level of commitment to this agreement and to the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement,” said a statement on Wednesday by the UK, the U.S. and Norway, the troika that worked to bring South Sudan to independence in 2011. To be convinced of both sides’ the commitment to peace, they need to see a significant change in approach, the statement read in part.

The troika countries want to see an end to the violence, full humanitarian access given to aid workers, the release of political prisoners and see checks on executive and majority power and the transparent use of resources.

“This must include, but not be limited to: an end to violence and full humanitarian access; the release of political prisoners; and a real commitment to effective and accountable implementation, demonstrated by supporting robust security and enforcement mechanisms, checks on executive and majority power, and the transparent use of resources for the benefit of all South Sudanese,” they said. “Without progress in these critical areas, we remain concerned the agreement will not deliver the peace that the people of South Sudan deserve,” they further added.

Of recently, the Troika and the European Union threatened to stop their support for the activities and institutions tasked with the implementation of the South Sudan peace agreement.

Revitalized transitional government draft

According to the Revitalized Agreement on Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (RARCSS), a pre-transitional period of eight months shall come into force within two weeks of the signing revitalized agreement. At this period, the parties are expected to commit to their people and the international community that they will not return to war.

However, the IGAD’s information program manager shared details of the 128 – page document which chiefly among others was expected to lead to the formation of a revitalized transitional government of national unity, RTGoNU.

The RTGoNU is to be based in the capital Juba and will be expected to steer affairs of Africa’s youngest nation for a period of thirty-six months. The transitional period is expected to commence eight months after the signing of today’s agreement.

The term and mandate of the RTGoNU shall be for the duration of the Transitional Period, until such time that elections are held, except as provided for in this Agreement.

The RTGoNU is expected to last for three years. The RTGoNU shall hold elections sixty (60) days before the end of the Transitional Period in order to establish a democratically elected government.

The revitalized deal maintained incumbent president Kiir to lead the transitional period with opposition leader Dr. Machar, deputizing him as the first vice president. Machar would also lead the governance cluster.

The mediators also maintained the four vice presidents, with the incumbent TGoNU nominating two, and then the SSOA, and the SPLM – FD nominating one each.

At this period, there will be 35 ministers with the incumbent TGoNU nominating 20, the SPLM – IO 9 ministers, the SSOA 3 ministers, the SPLM-FD 2 and other opposition parties 1 minister. Up to ten deputy ministers will also be nominated.

The TNLA will be composed of 550 members, with the incumbent TGONU nominating 332 Mps, the SPLM-IO 128 Mps, the SSOA 50 Mps, the OPP 35 Mps and the SPLM-FD 5 Mps. The speaker of the TNLA will be nominated by the incumbent TGoNU and one deputy speaker to be nominated by OPP and the other, a woman, to be nominated by the incumbent TGoNU.

In the deal, Sudan and Uganda troops will be deploy in South Sudan to ensure the full commitment of the parties to the agreement.

For the deployment of Ethiopian and Kenyan troops, the deal provides issue of deployment of the RPF shall be handled through the engagement of IGAD and the UN Security Council.

Ethiopia is already present in South Sudan as the peacekeeping operation which is part of the monitoring mechanism. Kenya was part of the UN mission but withdrew its troops after a UN reporting blaming the UNMISS force commander, a Kenyan general for not taking the necessary measure to protect civilians in July 2016.

This latest peace deal brings to an end the talks on the revitalization of the 2015 peace accord, which was violated in July 2016 when the bodyguards of Kiir and Riek clashed at the presidential palace in Juba.

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