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At Nkafu event: Ordinary Cameroonians advocate Dialogue, Reinforcement of Borders to Promote Peace in Cameroon
October 19, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

For decades now, Cameroon has been engulfed by various crises raging from the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North, the refugee crisis in the East Region and for the last three years, the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions. To bring peace to the country, Cameroonians have advocated the protection of the country’s borders, involving youths in decision-making and dialogue.

The event which was held October 18, 2019 in Limbe under the theme, “Common sense solutions to promote peace in Cameroon” is in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, (a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation), whose mission is to provide independent, in-depth, and insightful policy recommendations that advance the Cameroonian economy, and the economies of other sub-Saharan African countries.

The event is the third of its kind after similar events in Yaounde and Douala. It brought together students, Religious leader, members of the private sector and journalists to propose citizen solutions through which Cameroon can accelerate its progress towards the resolution of the current conflicts it is presently facing.

During the discussions, three prominent conflicts were x-rayed by participants such as the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the South West and North West Regions, the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North, since, 2013 till date, and Refugee crisis in the East Regions.

According to some participants, the issue of dialogue in solving crisis is very paramount. Dialogue implies the ability of the two warring factions to be able to sit on the dialogue table and sought their differences. With the case of Cameroon and the Anglophone crisis, participants indicated that both the government and the separatist should call for dialogue which will ease the prevailing situation presently ongoing in the North West and South west Regions.

Participants equally decried the numerous Lockdown and ghost towns that have been instituted by the fighters as it is having an adverse effect on the population and families as the economies in the region is in a bad state. They have equally called on the Diaspora leaders to rethink their strategy while also cautioning the fighters to go back to the original struggle as they have departed from it.

“It is not good with the present situation in the South west and North West for families to be confined in their houses for a week or more with the ghost town calls”, one participant noted while another stated “the youths should be involved in the decision-making process. The government has to accept the present situation on the ground, but at the moment they are still casual on the lives lost.”

Since October 2016, at least 170 civilians have been killed in over 220 incidents…according to media reports and Human rights Watch research. International crisis group has said the death toll since the start of the fighting has topped 500 for civilians and more than 200 for members of the security forces. Some 437,000 people have fled the fighting according to the United Nations.

With the Boko Haram crisis in the North, participants called for the implementation of a serious educational strategy. To a participant, most of the people in the North are uneducated and without jobs and it is easy brainwash the people. There needs to be a serious rethink of the educational system, so that individuals in the North can be educated and have jobs for themselves.”

Participants have called for the protection of the borders as a means of limiting the damages being caused by the Boko Haram sect. Without the borders being protected, it will make it easy for the group to infiltrate the country and continue its fight to get more people into their group and cause more damage. Protection here will entail the provision of security personnel at the borders, especially in the Far North Region to curb the rate of suicide attacks on the population in that area.

On the Refugee crisis in the East Region, participants have urged the Cameroon government to assist the Central African Republic, CAR to bring an end to the crisis. To participants, if the Cameroon government assist CAR in solving their crisis, the people will see no reason to become refugees in Cameroon as their country will be free to live in.

To others, humanitarian bodies, and the international communities have to be involved to bring an end to the crisis in the East. They are involved in calling for an end to the crisis, and for the two warring factions to come to a consensus. The humanitarian organizations on their part are charged with providing aids to the host country (Cameroon) which is keeping most of the displaced persons. 

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Peace talks to end decades of conflict in Sudan begin in Juba
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir, right, with General Abdel Fattah Al Burhan, head Sudan’s sovereign council, and Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed., left, arrive for a meeting in Juba on October 14, 2019. Reuters

Juba – Peace talks between the Sudanese transitional government and armed and non-armed opposition groups begun in South Sudan’s capital on Monday with parties showing eagerness to ending the country’s long civil war.

South Sudan’s President Kiir is hosting the peace talks, where the transitional government and rebel groups signed a draft agreement last month that detailed a roadmap for the talks, trust-building measures and an extension of a cease-fire already in place, represents a turning point in ending war and bringing about peace to Sudan.

This followed former president Omar al-Bashir’s successful mediation of the South Sudan peace talks in Khartoum last year, September, before overthrow in April, 2019.

The peace initiative was also built into a power-sharing deal between Sudan’s army groups and its pro-democracy movements. That deal was reached after the deposed of longtime tyrant President Omar al-Bashir in April. The transitional authorities have six months to make peace with the rebels, according to the agreement.

Ethiopia and the African Union mediated the power-sharing agreement in August which ended months of violence and faltering talks between Sudan’s generals and protesters following the uprising against al-Bashir.

South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war. But in the 2000s, Sudan was most known for al-Bashir’s brutal repression of an uprising in the western Darfur region.

Attaining peace is crucial to the transitional government in Sudan. It has counted on ending the wars with rebels in order to revive the country’s dilapidated economy through slashing the military spending, which takes up much of the national budget.

However, Sudanese military councils have introduced good-will signals. They dismissed death sentences against eight rebel leaders and released more than a dozen prisoners of war. They have also delayed the formation of the parliament and the appointment of provincial governors to allow time for the rebels to come on board.

President Kiir is trying to look for the best ways to end the war that has been raging in Sudan for the last 63 years – that’s to say since independence.

The peace solutions brokered in the past, starting by Addis Ababa 1972, Khartoum 1997, CPA 2005, Abuja, Cairo, Asmara and Doha agreements, failed to achieve a just, comprehensive and permanent peace.”

Sudanese warring parties accepted the mediation of president Salva Kiir and Juba as a venue for peace talks when the AUHIP failed to settle the conflict in Sudan in eight years and twenty-two rounds of talks.

Addressing the launch of the peace talks at the Freedom Hall in Juba, President Kiir called on the Sudanese parties to make compromises during the negotiations.

President Kiir said negotiations and compromises are ushered to settle any political conflict and reach a peace deal that will end the country prolong conflict.

He added that peace could not come to any country through armed conflict adding that it was possible if parties come together, discuss and find possible solutions.

President Kiir reiterated that lack of peace in his former country would lead to instability in the whole Africa and South Sudan particular.

“Time has come for us in Africa and in our region to rise up to the challenge of addressing our differences and conflicts,” said Kiir in the event graced by regional heads of states, including Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Ethiopian Premier Dr Abiy Ahmed.

“I have no doubt that we have the capacity, the ability and the required competence to do so if we have a strong political will. “Now for the Sudanese delegations for the peace talks, I wish them successful dialogue, negotiation and compromise so that we celebrate the achievement of peace in the Sudan,” said president Kiir.

Symbol of peace

The chairperson of the IGAD, Dr. Abiy Ahmed, also Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, called on the region to exert more efforts for peace building to create a safe environment for investment, adding that the horn of Africa should always address its challenges through inclusive dialogue.

The IGAD countries consist of Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Sudan and South Sudan. But Somalia, Sudan and South Sudan have been ruined down by years of conflict as a result of political and communal wrangles.

Dr. Abiy say the region has the potential to become a symbol of peace and economic in Africa as well as in the global.

“I believe there is nothing that we cannot achieve as a region. We have witnessed a peace between the Ethiopia and Eritrea; the silence of the guns in South Sudan and the successful Sudanese reconciliation; we are also hopeful that Kenya and Somalia will have to resolve their problem through dialogue. What we have achieved together are building-blocks for our region’s shared goals and collective prosperity,” said Dr. Abiy.

Dr. Abiy urged the leaders to engage youth in addressing the economic challenges in the region rather than recruiting them for civil war.

“It is time for our regions to focus on the inevitable journey of a robust economic integration,” said the 2019 Noble Prize Winner. “The time has come to give a better chance to our youth through pooling our cooperative advantages to common goals and developments – this, we can only do when all the stakeholders in each of our countries commits to peace.”

 “Ideological bankruptcy”

Meanwhile, the Ugandan President cautioned leaders against the use of religion and tribes to advance their political interests.

Yoweri Museveni says leaders in Sudan and South Sudan have sought leadership positions by turning their people against each other.

He says since 1962, Sudan has failed to address the underlying causes of wars and poverty because of lack of political ideology.

In 2011, Sudan split following 39 years of civil war between South Sudanese and the Sudanese government over lack of services and poor system of governance.

Museveni argues that the problems of Sudan and Africa can be attributed to the misguided use of tribal and religious identities as a means of resolving issues.

“People who are ideologically bankrupt have no alternative but to use opportunism of religion, tribe, and of race. This is a crime against Africa,” said the leader who has been the Uganda’s president since 1986. “If you don’t know what to do, go back home and mismanage your home. Don’t come to a public office to cause suffering for the people.”

While they applaud President Kiir’s efforts to help restore stability in the Sudan, critics and activists say the President should start the charity at home by ensuring that the revitalized peace agreement is fully implemented.

Commitment

For his part, the President of the Sudanese Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdul Fattah Al Burhan, expressed hopes that the Kiir-mediated peace talks will bring to an end years of conflict in the Sudan.

“We come to negotiate in good faith for the sake of the Sudan. This time is different from the past, in the past there was a government wanted to divide the country with armed groups, though the oppositions are in the country,” said Al Burhan. We are reiterating our full commitment that this round of talks will be the end to the problems of our Sudanese people – to put an end to the suffering of our people,” he promised, his government want comprehensive peace such that over five million Sudanese displaced both internally and externally return to their homes.

According to Juba’s government, Kiir’s mediation efforts is aimed at finding an end to the civil war in Blue Nile and Darfur regions.

The states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan – which both have large ethnic minority populations that fought alongside the South Sudanese during the two decades of scorched – earth civil war.

Over nine different armed and non-armed opposition groups are taking part in the talks including main opposition movements of Revolutionary Front and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army – North.

Dr. Alhadi Idris Ahmed, Sudan Revolutionary Front (SRF) Leader has expressed his willingness to cooperate in good faith with the interim government to bring solution to the conflict in Sudan.

“Time has come for us to stop war and killings in the Republic of Sudan. It is time for beginning of stability, peace, respect of human rights and economic development in Sudan,” said Ahmed, adding that they want to see a new Sudan with a democracy and equal opportunity to all the Sudanese people.

Cdr. Abdul-Aziz Adam Alhilu, SPLM-N, emphasized that they have come to the talks with a firm will and determination to achieve a new Sudan of freedom, justice and equality.

“We also believe that the success of the negotiations to bring an end to the war in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religion and state,” said Abdul-Aziz. The two points of identity and theocracy are at the top of the contentious issues that divide the Sudanese people. We have to look for the commonalities that provide the basis for a just unity and permanent peace,” he added.

Despite the secession of South Sudan, there is racism in Sudan today. It is racial and religious double apartheid that resulted in 63 years of civil wars, where the state exterminated over 3 million of its own citizens in [then] South Sudan, Nuba Mountain, Blue Nile, Beja of the East, far North Nuba and Darfur.

“We, in the SPLM-N believe that the failure was due to the complicated nature of the conflict on one hand, and the insistence of the subsequent Khartoum governments to deal with it as a security problem on the other, while the conflict is basically political. We also believe that success of the negotiations to bring an end to the wars in Sudan depends on addressing the root causes of the problem that can be summarized in the two issues of national identity and relationship between religious,” said Abdul-Aziza.

The official launching ceremony of Sudan peace talks being mediated by president Kiir was attended by The president of Sudan Sovereign Council, Gen. Abdel AlFattah Al-burhan, the president of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the Prime Minister of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Dr. Abiy Ahmed and the Prime Minister of Arab Republic of Egypt, Mustafa Kemal Madbouly.

The presidents of Kenya and Somalia were not in attendance they have busy schedules in their respective countries.

Several peace talks have failed to end the internal conflict in Sudan and bring in a comprehensive justice and permanent peace, however, this is litmus – test for president Kiir whether to bring final solution to the Sudanese crisis or not. This peace talks will go on for two months.

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Children in peril of malnutrition in war-torn S. Sudan, UNICEF warns
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has warned that there is alarming high number of children under five-year of ages suffering from physical of poor diets and food stuff.

South Sudan gained independence from the north in 2011 after decades of civil war, but returned into another civil war in late 2013, uprooted four million people both internally and externally from their homes, placed them under severely hunger and malnutrition.

The country’s five – year conflict has also ruined the economic and farming activities, leaved civilians on the arm of humanitarian agencies. To access the conflict-areas is measure problem due to insecurity and inaccessible roads in the country, surrendered children into malnutrition status.

The UNICEF chief revealed that the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children in the war-torn country was quiet alarming, it has increased from 13 per cent in 2018 to 16 per cent in 2019, which has above the 15 per cent emergency threshold.

“Every child in need treatment for malnutrition is a failure, a failure in preventing the suffering,” said UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya in the press release. Preventing malnutrition is an essential part of realizing every child’s right to health. Young children can suffer lifelong consequences and in worst case die if malnutrition is not addressed timely during the first crucial years in life.”

Speaking to press in Juba on Tuesday, Andrea Suley, UNICEF deputy Country’s Representative said that a malnutrition is complex and must be fought on all fronts simultaneously.

“Together with partners and donors, we have become exceptionally good at treating children for acute malnutrition; now we must make up our game and become even better at preventing it,” said Suley.

Speaking on the same event, Dr. Baba Samson, advisor to the Health’s Ministry, said the parents should invest in prevention measures rather than cure.

“We need to invest in prevention than cure. [because] We are fighting a losing battle, and not addressing the root causes of the problems,” said Samson.

Baba stated that poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water was a big contributing factor to acute malnutrition in many localities in South Sudan.

“The problem of malnutrition today in our country is not only poor diet but it is the issue of lack of clean drinking water and poor sanitation that is affecting many children today,” said Samson

However, the UN Children Fund said a comprehensive nutrition campaign to fight malnutrition across the country has been launched.

Suley stressed that UNICEF and partners are working to promote age-appropriate feeding practices for children, including cooking demonstrations with locally available food.

UNICEF’s deputy unveiled that hygiene promotion, improving access to clean drinking water and sanitation and providing health services will also be contributing to prevention of malnutrition.

She further appealed to the government to produce multi-sector strategic plan for nutrition with joint targets, pool resources, multi-sectoral coordination, an accountability framework and joint monitoring and evaluation system.

Suley also urged donors and non-governmental agencies to support prevention strategy of addressing malnutrition by prioritizing prevention of malnutrition at community and facility levels, adding that the community must ensure that their children have a healthy diet.

“With good food and nutrition, we can set a child up for success, and yet we are losing ground in the fight for healthy diets,” said Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore at the global launch of the state of the world’s children report in London. This is not a battle we can win on our own. We need governments, the private sector and civil society to prioritize child nutrition and work together to address the causes of unhealthy eating in all its forms.”

 “It is globally estimated that 1.3 million children under the age of five will suffer from acute malnutrition in 2020. This calls for a paradigm shift in addressing malnutrition by shifting focusing on treatment to prioritizing prevention by reducing the need for treatment,” said Suley.

The challenge is not only securing enough food but ensuring children are eating the right things and get the nutrients they need to develop to their full potential, said the UNICEF.

“Only 7 per cent of children under five in South Sudan has an adequate diet. Furthermore, common diseases such as malaria must be prevented and treated, as they are often the starting point for malnutrition,” said Ayoya in the press statement. Only 50 per cent of households have access to clean water and only 10 per cent access to improved sanitation. Ensuring clean water and addressing poor sanitation and hygiene practices are also essential to preventing diarrheal diseases causing malnutrition.”

Suley said there are 2000 centers in the country set for specific nutrition to treat malnutrition countrywide.

“We have a very large program in the country where we focus on prevention and treatment with 48 NGOs to provide prevention services on malnutrition,” she said.

However, the state of the world’s children 2019 report finds that in 2018, at least 1 in 3 children under five globally, were either stunted, wasted or overweight, reflecting poor growth and putting them at risk of increased infections, weak learning skills, low immunity and, in many cases, death. In addition, 1 in 2 children – or 340 million globally – suffered from deficiencies in vitamins and minerals such as iron and iodine, further undermining their growth.

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Kenya introduces free cervical cancer vaccine
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

Kenya is set to roll out free cervical cancer vaccine for school girls on Friday, October 18 after the programme was launched yesterday in a ceremony that was presided by Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki.

The vaccine known as the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) will aid in hindering lethal infection as well as reducing chances of contacting anogenital cancer and genital warts. It will also reduce oropharyngeal cancer and maternal transmission of HPV infection to infants.

The main targets are 800,000 girls 10-years old and above in public, private and faith based schools across the country. The two doses of the vaccine will be administered to the girls twice in a year. A total of $8 million has been set aside to support the roll-out.

“The vaccine will be offered nationally alongside other routine infant vaccines through an existing network of more than 9,000 public, private, faith-based and NGO health facilities free of charge to 800,000 girls, who are currently aged 10 and subsequently to all girls as they attain that age in the future,” said Ms. Kariuki.

The Ministry of Health is working in partnership with Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi}, World Health Organization and Unicef to support the project which aims at eliminating cervical cancer which is the third cause of deaths in Kenya.

The project will see Kenya join the list of African countries like Tanzania, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe and many others who have has already rolled out HPV.

Cervical cancer is the second dominant type of cancer after breast cancer in the East African country.

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Negotiating for a better future: Why the good or bad of Russia’s presence in Africa will rely on the continent’s ability to make better deals
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin (R) meets with Angola’s President Joao Lourenco on the sidelines of the BRICS summit in Johannesburg, South Africa July 26, 2018.Photo SPUTNIK/ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/KREMLIN VIA REUTERS
Deal-making is what will shape the future of Russia-Africa relations and will tell whether Russia’s renewed influence in the continent is good or bad for its people
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, October 18, 2019/ — By African Energy Chamber

Russia’s return to Africa has been the subject of wide media coverage, governmental concerns and civil society reactions in recent weeks, especially as Sochi gears up to host the first ever Russia-Africa Summit next week. Most commentators have come from Europe and North America to voice concerns over Russia’s dodgy arm deals in Africa, political meddling with unstable African regimes, and its overall challenging of the status quo on the continent. The problem is, when these comments are not outright hypocritical, they are missing a key point: competition is good for business, which is just what Africa needs right now.

First, Russia’s presence in the continent cannot be summarized into sensationalism. It is complex and needs to be put back into context. Its modern relations with African governments and institutions started building up in post-independence Africa, time when the Soviet Union offered key diplomatic and military support to young African nations in need of it. This assistance was multi-form and much needed for countries seeking fast development following harsh independence wars and conflicts. “The Soviet Union provided significant economic assistance, including infrastructure, agricultural development, security cooperation, and health sector cooperation,” wrote Paul Stronski of the Carnegie’s Russia and Eurasia Program this week. Consequently, Putin’s vision for Africa is resuming and building up on a cooperation that started in the second half of the 20th century and was only put on hold by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

In short, while arriving late to the party, Russia is no stranger to the African playground. Beyond military cooperation, its state-owned natural resources companies have already made inroads into the continent, and could be a game changer for many African countries in need of investment and electricity. Key Russia energy companies such as Gazprom, Lukoil, Rostec and Rosatom are already present in Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea or Uganda, while mining and minerals ones such as Nordgold or Rusal are developing world-class mines in Guinea and Zimbabwe. On a global stage, Russia’s involvement in OPEC has also sent strong signals that it is committed to market stability and global energy cooperation, which ultimately benefit African producers.

“Russia’s influence is increasing through strategic investments in natural resources, and such investments are welcomed by African governments and companies. They bring in key Russian capital and know-how to the continent which is seeking to diversify its investors basket and attract much needed investment into its energy industry,” said Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber (EnergyChamber.org) and CEO of the Centurion Law Group. “The African Energy Chamber is supporting such efforts and has seen a definite uptick in Russian companies’ interests for the continent. We predict a lot of deals to be signed during and after the Sochi Summit for Russian energy companies to develop African resources and do business in Africa. This will be especially beneficial as Africa develops gas-based economies,” he added.

Amongst the most recent agreements are for instance the MoU between Atlas Oranto Petroleum and Rosneft in 2018, under which the pan-African E&P company agreed to explore the joint-development of its assets across Africa with the Russian state-owned giant. Another one is the signing of several agreements between Russia and Mozambique this summer, involving again state-owned Rosneft but also Nordgold. In Central Africa, Gazprom is also lifting gas from Cameroon’s the FLNG Hilli Episeyo, the world’s first converted FLNG vessel.

As such investments and activity picks up, the real game changer will be Africa’s ability to make deals that work for its people and its economies. Deal-making is what will shape the future of Russia-Africa relations and will tell whether Russia’s renewed influence in the continent is good or bad for its people. Rightly so, the ability and capacity of African governments to make better deals with investors is becoming central to the global business narrative on Africa.

In his much anticipated book coming up this month and already best-seller on Amazon, “Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals”, Nj Ayuk dedicates an entire chapter to the critical art of deal-making. “For Africa to truly realize all of the benefits oil and gas operations have to offer, we need to see good deal-making across the board,” he writes. “Clearly, good deal-making has far-reaching implications for African people, communities and business.”


Contracts negotiations is in fact the key element missing from the current debate on Russia’s increasing influence in Africa. There is no doubt Africa is welcoming Russia’s interest for doing business on the continent, not only because it comes without the conditionality of actors such as the IMF and the World Bank, but also because Africa needs critical energy investment and a giant oil producer like Russia has good technology and know-how to export. The only thing is, sub-Saharan Africa has seen several regulatory developments in the near future, with a particular focus on local content regulations across energy markets. Jobs creation, domestic capacity building and the growth of a strong base of local energy companies is high up on the African agenda. If African governments are able to negotiate contracts that deliver on these expectations and Russian companies are committed to see the continent grow, then the future is bright for Russia in Africa.

At the end of the day, it is all about how African governments and institutions will negotiate future contracts with Russian companies. As Nj Ayuk writes in Billions At Play, “governments must give investors a chance to generate income from the resources they are interested in and recoup their investments. At the same time, governments need to look at creating value for their country and its people. It’s a balancing act. It’s challenging, but it’s doable.”

Whether Sochi will result in that balancing act remains to be seen, but the challenge is given and Africa is up for it.
*Africa Energy Chamber
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African countries are still not doing enough to meet one of the UN’s most important development targets, according to a new report to be published next week
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

A girl reads in a classroom in Madagascar. CREDIT: GPE/Carine Durand

The eLearning Africa Report 2019, which provides a snapshot of the state of education, training and development on the continent, interviewed more than 900 education professionals and technology experts about key issues, including progress towards the United Nations’ goal of universal access to quality education by 2030. 

The goal (UN SDG 4) is set out in the UN’s list of sustainable development goals (SDGs), which every country should meet by 2030. However, the eLearning Africa Report’s survey of education and training professionals, working in almost every country in Africa, shows that a substantial majority believe that African countries are still not doing enough to ensure universal access to quality education for all Africans.

The finding, which is among the results in a survey in the report, will make uncomfortable reading for African leaders. The achievement of UN SDG 4 is not only an important UN goal, but also a major plank in the African Union’s plan for a ‘transformed continent’ by 2063. However, the survey shows that, by majorities of more than 12 per cent, experts believe that, in every major area of education, insufficient progress has been made.

“SDG 4 is perhaps the most important of the UN sustainable development goals and the disappointment about the lack of progress towards realising it is striking,” says the report. “It seems too that the further up the educational ladder you look, the greater the belief that insufficient progress is being made. 56 per cent of respondents do not believe that African countries are doing enough to ensure that, by 2030, all girls and boys will complete free primary and secondary education. However, the percentage of those believing that not enough has been done to improve access to higher education and vocational training or further education is as high as 65 per cent.”

In spite of the gloom about progress towards meeting the UN SDGs though, there is a sense of optimism about overall progress. More than two thirds (72 per cent) of the experts questioned said they think that the African Union’s 2063 vision is “realistic.”

“If our youth are empowered, believe in their own self-worth and think creatively,” said one of the experts, “Africa will be an inspiration to other continents with new inventions and original African solutions benefitting all.”

The eLearning Africa Report, which has been sponsored by GIZ, the German organisation for international cooperation, on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), makes fascinating reading. With contributions from experts, practitioners, advisers, entrepreneurs and even students and artists, it provides an insight into how technology assisted learning and training are leading change and development throughout Africa. As businesses assess the implications of a ‘fourth industrial revolution,’ it looks at the state of education, training, development and technology at this moment of unparalleled change.

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Achieving Broadband Access for All in Africa Comes With a $100 Billion Price Tag
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2019- Across Africa, where less than a third of the population has access to broadband connectivity, achieving universal, affordable, and good quality internet access by 2030 will require an investment of US $100 billion. This is according to a report launched at the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group, which calls for urgent action to close the internet access gap while providing a roadmap to reach this ambitious goal.

The report from The Broadband for All Working Group *gives practical insights and suggestions of what is needed to attain this objective, including an action plan for universal broadband connectivity in Africa. To achieve universal broadband access, African countries will need to bring about 1.1 billion more people online. This will require exceptional and coordinated efforts from governments, the private sector, development partners, and civil society, the report says, but the investment is worth it.

“The digital agenda is first and foremost a growth and jobs agenda,” says Makhtar Diop, the World Bank’s Vice President for Infrastructure. “The working-age population in Africa is expected to increase by some 450 million people between 2015 and 2035. If current trends continue, less than one quarter will find stable jobs. Broadening internet access means creating millions of job opportunities.”

While the number of broadband connections in Africa crossed the 400 million mark in 2018 (nearly twenty times 2010 levels), the regional average broadband penetration -including 3G and 4G connections- is only 25% in 2018. Mobile broadband coverage in Africa is still at 70% of the population. Even in North Africa, there is ample room for growth with 4G networks covering only about 60% of the population. Additional challenges, such as the lack of access to reliable and affordable electricity, make accelerating Africa’s digital transformation journey even more difficult.

According to the report, nearly 80% of all required investments are directly related to the need to roll out and maintain broadband networks. However, connecting the unconnected is about more than just infrastructure: about 20% of required investments consists in building the user skills and local content foundations, and another 2-4% should be allocated to setting up the appropriate regulatory framework, the report notes. While the private sector has driven most successful broadband initiatives, public agencies play a crucial role by implementing effective sector regulation, addressing potential market failures, and creating the conditions for an open, competitive broadband sector.

“In large parts of Africa, we are witnessing a lack of progress in extending access and network coverage. Affordability is also declining in many nations. Promoting greater digital inclusion is going to require more effective and innovative collaboration,” said Doreen Bogdan-Martin, Executive Director of the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau. “We need to leverage our strengths and expertise. Governments can help with policies enabling new technologies, new business models and investment. The right policies will, in turn, provide the private sector with the incentives to build out infrastructure and explore new technologies and applications that will drive demand.”

Connecting the 100 million people in rural and remote areas that live out of reach of traditional cellular mobile networks will require strong private sector involvement, innovative business models, and alternative technologies, such as satellite and Wi-Fi based technical solutions, the report notes.

“Let us be clear: no single actor will be able to meet Africa’s 2030 target and carry the burden of a $100 billion investment funding requirement alone. All stakeholders must work together to make sure that every African has affordable and reliable access to the internet”, says Hafez Ghanem, the World Bank’s Vice President for the Africa Region. This includes: the African Union and regional economic communities; African governments and respective public investment agencies; sector regulators; multilateral development banks and regional development banks; the United Nations and other development agencies; the private sector; and civil society groups and nongovernmental organizations.

* The Working Group on Broadband for All: A Digital Moonshot Infrastructure for Africa, led by the World Bank, was established in 2018 under the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development with the primary objective of identifying investment requirements and policy roadmaps to increase connectivity and to reach full coverage in Africa. This report draws upon the expertise of Broadband Commissioners and experts from around the world.

About the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development: ITU and UNESCO set up the Broadband Commission for Digital Development in 2010 with the aim of boosting the importance of broadband on the international policy agenda and expanding broadband access in every country as key to accelerating progress towards national and international development targets. Following adoption of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in September 2015, the Commission was re-launched as the Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development to showcase and document the power of ICT and broadband-based technologies for sustainable development. Its members include top CEO and industry leaders, senior policy-makers and government representatives, international agencies, academia and organizations concerned with development.

Download the full report:

*Source World Bank

https://www.broadbandcommission.org/Documents/working-groups/DigitalMoonshotforAfrica_Report.pdf
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President Bio opens new King Harman Maternal and Child Hospital in Freetown
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Uzman Unis Bah

Freetown, Sierra Leone, President Julius Maada Bio has formally opened the new King Harman Maternal and Child Hospital at Brookfields, which will chiefly cater for the west of the capital city, and save the pressure on the Cottage Hospital in the east.    

The Government of Sierra Leone in partnership funded the construction of the new hospital with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), with funds from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID), under the “Saving Lives Programme”. 

President Julius Maada Bio, in his keynote address, said, “I feel so gratified to commission the King Harman Maternal and Child Hospital as a Center of Excellence for the delivery of quality healthcare services.”

“This Government has made significant contributions to improving our health sector. We have tackled head-on the gross inadequate human resource in health by increasing the present number of health staff by 4,000. We have increased the national budget allocation to health from 8.9 to 11.6%,” the president said.

President Bio affirmed that his government had also commissioned the National Emergency Medical Services in all districts in the country with over 4,000 medical appointment to date. He said Government is increasing access to quality health services for all the population, largely mothers, children and the ageing.

Country Representative for the UNFPA, Dr. Kim Dickson, said, she was honored to witness the official commissioning of the recently constructed Maternal and Child Health Hospital, adding that President Bio’s presence for the ceremony was a proof of his commitment to transforming the health sector of the country. 

The British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, Simon Mustard, said he was glad that the strong corporation between the Government of Sierra Leone and the UK was built on shared history and deep connections. He said he was happy that the partnership had led to the commissioning of that facility, adding that on a daily basis the hospital would save lives of mothers and their children. 

Minister of Health and Sanitation, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, said that the occasion was inline to getting a dependable health system that would be capable of providing excellence healthcare delivery to the people of Sierra Leone. He commended the President for the gains achieved so far in the health sector.

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Mozambique: Nyusi headed for victory in chaotic election
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
Felipe Nyusi, president of Mozambique, casts his vote Oct. 15 in Maputo.(Associated Press)

By Arnaldo Cuamba

On Tuesday 15 October, Mozambique organized its general elections to choose the President of the Republic, provincial governors and deputies to the Assembly of the Republic. In general, the process started at the scheduled time, 7 a.m., and had a satisfactory participation of voters.

Of the 20,570 polling stations, including abroad, only 7 did not open in Cabo Delgado, namely in the Districts of Macomia, Muidumbe and Mocímboa da Praia. The situation has to do with the lack of security due to the extremist attacks that have terrorized the province since October 2017.

Young people and adults voted en masse making these the elections with the most participation since the first democratic ones in 1999. Initial reports suggest a turnout of about 50%. The independent observers point out that the candidate for his own succession in the presidency of the Republic, Filipe Nyusi, dominates in the percentages with 70%. In second place is the leader of Renamo, Ossufo Momade (21%) and in third place is Daviz Simango, leader of the Democratic Movement of Mozambique with 7%.

In relation to the election of provincial governors and the assembly of the republic there are still no significant data. There is also no concrete date for the release of the data. The National Election Commission (CNE) will not announce partial results during the counting process as it has done in the past, CNE head Sheikh Abdul Carimo has told newspaper Canal de Mocambique in an interview published on wednesday. In the 2014 elections, the CNE called press conferences every few hours in the days following the vote, to read out results as they came in. This time they have decided against, Carimo says, because it “can create various negative interpretations.”

A shameful election

One of the important agents for the supervision of free, fair and transparent elections is the electoral observer. The truth is that 2,915 Mozambican observers were not accredited, although their applications were submitted more than a month ago to the electoral bodies. Many analysts believe that the act was deliberate in order to allow the fraud to occur.

The election night was marked by violence in the centre and north of the country. There was one death. A person was killed, shot and beaten by the police, and four people were shot in the lower limbs as police tried to disperse the crowd at Sao Vicente de Paulo Secondary School, Nacala-Porto, Nampula, province.

The election was also marked by situations of illegal ballot stuffing. Those who were captured brought with them ballots already marked in favour of the Frelimo party. There were also accusations of people who often voted for Filipe Nyusi and his party in an act sponsored by the electoral authorities.

Of the few independent observers who were accredited, those who dared to question illegal attitudes were arrested by the Mozambican police. These reports and more were brought from the central and northern parts of the country where Renamo carries a lot of weight.

“Frelimo’s level of fraud and misconduct was widespread and significantly higher than in previous elections and may have contributed to the qualified majority,” said the Center for Public Integrity, an independent organization that observed the elections.

Renamo boycott the counting

Renamo is boycotting all district vote tabulations, and has ordered its people not to participate in any way in those counts. The boycott was confirmed by an authorized Renamo source but there will be no public statement. MDM will continue to participate in the district counts, but may refuse to sign the district results sheets.

On Tuesday, speaking after voting in his homeland on the Island of Mozambique, Nampula Province, Northern Mozambique, Ossufo Momade, said he “will never” accept “rigged election results,” pointing out that the denial of popular will has led the country to military hostilities in the past.

“If these are manipulated results, we can never accept [them] and we are determined to do anything whatsoever that the people indicates,” said Ossufo Momade, when asked by journalists, whether he will accept a possible defeat in wednesday’s general elections across the country.

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Investments in rail transport essential for the success of Africa’s free-trade area
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Aubrey Lekwane *

Aubrey Lekwane is Managing Director, South Africa, Bombardier Transportation

Africa is on the cusp of launching a free-trade zone that could meaningfully boost economic growth and unlock the continent’s vast potential.

Perhaps the most pressing requirement to improve economy in the region is the need for better transportation links between African states, particularly in the form of rail networks.

The establishment of a continent-wide trade bloc is an ambitious project, and one that could move the needle in terms of reducing poverty and promoting Africa’s industrialisation. Other regions, including the European Union (EU), offer good case studies on the benefits of economic integration, trade liberalisation, customs efficiencies, and the seamless movement of capital, goods and people across borders.

With its strong road, rail and air-transport links, the EU model reflects just how important it is to remove non-tariff barriers to trade. According to a May 2019 report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), non-tariff barriers in Africa are high “and represent a critical obstacle to trade”. The IMF says a reduction in ground transportation costs is “especially critical” to encouraging intra-regional trade and making a success of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

The development of a comprehensive African rail network is the single biggest opportunity in that regard.

A reliable rail network would allow for the efficient movement of goods, businesspeople and tourists across the continent, while also improving Africa’s links to the rest of the world, particularly the continent’s landlocked nations. Rail is also a sustainable solution given that it is far more environmentally friendly than road and air transport – Africa’s natural environment is one of its greatest assets, and it must be protected. Rail investments stimulate economies while reducing carbon emissions and urban congestion – a major issue and growth impediment in many African cities.

As Africa is making investments in rail industry, green transportation and sustainable mobility should be a priority. Backed by new regulations and environmental groups, the global trend towards greener forms of transport is affecting multiple industries including the rail industry.

Several alternatives to diesel trains are currently being developed worldwide including:

  • Hydrogen fuel cells in trains: work by generating power through an onboard fuel cell that combines hydrogen and oxygen
  • Battery-powered locomotives: battery system that can be recharged by overhead wires on electrified tracks or by charging stations on non-electrified routes
  • Liquefied natural gas: (LNG) is being used in the rail industry as an option for dual-fuel locomotives

These investments will help develop a zero-emission, energy-efficient and cost-effective alternative to diesel trains. Deploying fuel cell and battery technology for rail transportation will usher in a new era for non-electrified routes.

Bombardier Transportation, which designed and supplied a fleet of 96 rail vehicles for South Africa’s world-class Gautrain system, sees a golden era ahead for Africa’s rail sector, which has suffered from chronic under-investment in recent decades.   

Today, African freight and passenger transport is heavily reliant on road infrastructure. In South Africa, the continent’s most advanced economy, nearly 90% of freight is moved by road, for example. That is a staggering proportion, and this overreliance means that our roads need to be constantly repaired while traffic congestion worsens in the face of urbanisation. Worse still, the lack of focus on rail until recently has placed a drag on South Africa’s exports.

Thankfully, the South African government is re-investing in the country’s rail links – a move that Bombardier Transportation fully supports. Going forward, these efforts need to be increasingly coordinated with the country’s neighbours. 

South Africa also has an opportunity to become a major rail manufacturing hub as the continent invests in railway infrastructure, including new trains, signalling systems and general maintenance. Rail will play an important role in Africa’s future, and Bombardier Transportation is keen to apply its global expertise and solutions to propel the continent forward.

Ultimately, rail’s contribution towards an integrated transport network will help Africa to attract investment and to be competitive in the global trade arena.  Rail is the only sustainable transportation solution to many of today’s environmental, social and economic challenges and Bombardier is looking forward to moving millions daily safely in the African region

*Managing Director, South Africa, Bombardier Transportation

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President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, brings African vision to the 17th Rhodes Forum of the Dialogue of Civilizations
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments
President Issoufou
President Mahamadou Issoufou took the floor as a Special Guest to conclude the debates of a panel dedicated to partnership between Africa and the rest of the world
RHODES, Greece, October 15, 2019/ — The President of Niger, His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou , took part in the 17th Rhodes Forum on the 11th and 12th of October 2019, organised by the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute (https://DOC-Research.org/), to discuss several national and regional issues and offer Africa’s vision on major international issues.

During the special session on the 11th of October, President Mahamadou Issoufou spoke with Stefan Grobe of Euronews Brussels in front of participants from more than 55 countries, presenting his vision for Africa and Niger. He also advocated for multilateralism, drew attention to the security situation in the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin, the situation in Libya and support of the international community to combat terrorism in West Africa, and warned against the problems posed by climate change and illegal migration. The other points concerned the role that Niger will play as a non-permanent member of the Security Council from January 2020, tackling the market for fake medicines in Africa, reforms in global political and economic governance and win-win cooperation between countries.

On the 12th of October, President Mahamadou Issoufou took the floor as a Special Guest to conclude the debates of a panel dedicated to partnership between Africa and the rest of the world, led by Hannane Ferdjani of Africanews. Participants included the Founder of Transparency International, Africa Progress Panel Co-Chair Mr Peter Eigen (Germany), Founder and President of the Brazzaville Foundation Mr Jean Yves Olivier (France), former Prime Minister of Guinea Mr Kabiné Komara, Director of Education Projects of ABO Capital Mr Jaimie Graça (Angola) and South African Industrialist, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Mr Ivor Ichikovitz.

In his speech, President Issoufou raised all the issues related to this theme and clarified his vision for the development of Africa. His Excellency Mahamadou Issoufou emphasised the challenges and prospects inherent in the development of the African continent, recalling the situation of Africa in various fields and underlining the efforts led by its leaders through, inter alia, Agenda 2063 and its various Plans and Projects, including ZLECAf.

President Issoufou again thanked the Dialogue of Civilizations Research Institute and in particular its Chairman of the Board of Directors, Dr. Vladimir Yakunin and Executive Director Mr. Jean-Christophe Bas, ‘for having provided him, as a Special Guest, at this 17th Rhodes Forum, a privileged place of reflection and analysis to help in the decision-making of political and economic world leaders.’
* DOC Research Institute

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Mozambique’s gas projects enter implementation phase
October 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

With a second FID in just 2 years, Mozambique has officially positioned itself as a key player in the global gas and LNG market for years to come. The latest FID on the US$20 billion Mozambique LNG project, makes it the largest sanction ever in sub-Saharan Africa oil and gas. Described by His Excellency President Nyusi as “one of the most important and transformational projects in the country’s history”, Mozambique LNG is set to be a game-changer for this East African nation of 31 million people. 

According to Wood Mac, from the early 2030s state revenue from Mozambique LNG alone will reach US$3 billion per annum, single-handedly doubling today’s revenue as calculated by the IMF and World Bank.

And this is not the only mega-LNG project on the drawing board. ExxonMobil’s Rovuma LNG project, which envisages a 15 million tpa two-train facility taking gas from its offshore area 4 block, is also lined up to take FID. Meanwhile, Italy’s ENI is already moving ahead with its 3.4 million tpa floating LNG facility, which will draw on 5 TCF of gas in waters more than 2,000 metres deep with first gas due in mid-2022.

“With strong LNG demand growth out of Asia, now is Mozambique’s time,” said Jon Lawrence, an analyst with Wood Mackenzie’s sub-Saharan Africa upstream team, as news broke of the Anadarko FID.

With FIDs signed, the projects are now moving from the planning into the implementation phase. Hundreds of contracts are expected to be tendered for the construction, infrastructure and services needed to build and develop the megaprojects.

More recently, on October 8th, Mozambique Rovuma Venture (MRV) Area 4 operator decided to move ahead with the midstream and upstream project activities of over US $500 million as initial investments. These investments include activities such as the construction of the pioneer camp, the development of resettlement activities, the construction of the airstrip and access roads, as well as the start of detailed LNG facility engineering project.

It makes this the ideal time to participate at the 6th Mozambique Gas Summit & Exhibition, in partnership with ENH, taking place on 13-14 November in Maputo. The event is the official platform to hear from key decision-makers in this fast-emerging LNG hotspot, including key Government figures, policy-makers and all the major project stakeholders who will be in attendance. This edition is taking place at a time of exciting change including; the construction of FLNG, the progress in drilling activities in Cabo Delgado and Angoche, and the infrastructure development in Pemba Logistics Base. The event is organised in partnership with ENH, with support from MIREME, INP and industry stakeholders ExxonMobil, Total Mozambique LNG, TechnipFMC, FNB, Sasol, Baker Hughes, Standard Bank and G4S.

The National Hydrocarbon Company represents the state in oil operations. It is a business group with competence to participate in all petroleum operations and in the respective phases of the exploration, exploration, production, refining, transportation, storage and marketing activities of hydrocarbons and their derivatives, including LNG and GTL inside and outside the country. Established in 1981, headquartered in Maputo and branches in Pemba and Vilankulo, ENH has adjusted its business structure to the needs of industry and the national and international market. ENH’s activities, as an integrated group, also take place through partnerships that it has established in the last years, in particular, that have allowed the main activity, Upstream, with actions focused on Oil and Gas research, development and production, achieve the goals of increasing discovery probabilities in the research phase and optimizing resource recovery in the production phase.

At the downstream level, ENH develops activities in the hydrocarbon value chain with the aim of diversifying and enhancing the gas use in Mozambique.

 

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