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Unprecedented worldwide support for the Global Partnership for Education and addressing the global learning crisis
February 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
Significant new financial commitments from donors and developing countries will enable new and improved support for the education of millions of children
Press conference (Photo credit: GPE/Heather Shuker)

Press conference (Photo credit: GPE/Heather Shuker)

DAKAR, Senegal, February 3, 2018/ — Ten current and three former heads of state and more than 60 ministers gathered at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference (www.GlobalPartnership.org), making this the highest-level education financing event of its kind.

The conference, co-hosted by President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal and President Emmanuel Macron of the French Republic, marks the first time an education financing conference has been hosted by a G7 leader and the president of a developing country.

More than 1200 participants attended including leaders from UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society, philanthropic foundations and the private sector. Rihanna, GPE’s Global Ambassador supported by Global Citizen, also participated.

The size and nature of the attendance at the conference was a visible demonstration of the strengthened global political will to ensure every child is in school and learning. This heightened momentum will enable the Global Partnership for Education to reach the goal of providing US$2 billion a year by 2020 for education planning and delivery to support children’s learning in developing countries.

Donor countries pledged US$2.3 billion in financing to GPE. This is a substantial increase in funding compared to the US$1.3 billion contributed over the past three years. In addition, several donor countries have indicated their intention to pledge further funds over the course of the financing period.

The biggest source of education financing comes from developing countries themselves. More than 50 developing countries announced they would increase public expenditures for education for the period 2018 to 2020 to a total of US$110 billion, compared to US$80 billion between 2015 and 2017.

GPE encourages developing countries to increase their share of education spending to 20% of their overall budget. Of those governments committing today, over two-thirds will have reached that goal by 2020.

I am energized by the generosity and determination we have seen here today to ensure every child and young person has access to a quality education. After today’s commitments, we are seeing a clear trend to seriously address the global learning crisis” said Julia Gillard, Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia. “The success of the conference marks a turning point for global political support for education financing and brings a new breadth and depth to our partnership.” 

At the conference, the United Arab Emirates joined GPE, becoming the first Arab donor and pledging US$100 million. Senegal, in addition to pledging to increase its own expenditure on education, became GPE’s first African donor. The Netherlands and Spain renewed their involvement, and China attended for the first time.

The unprecedented support today means that the Global Partnership for Education can continue to focus on the most excluded and vulnerable children and work to extend assistance to up to 89 countries, which are home to 870 million children and 78 percent of the world’s out-of-school children,” said Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education.

 

 

The Global Partnership for Education’s funding model is a catalyst for education investment, working hand in hand with governments of low-income and lower middle-income countries to strengthen their education systems. The Global Partnership for Education supports governments to develop robust national education plans so that funds can then be channeled into their priority areas with confidence that they will contribute to improved quality of education for all children.

The conference was sponsored by: Ecobank, the Pan African Bank; Fondation Sonatel; and Altissia, and supported by Girls Not Brides; Global Campaign for Education; Global Citizen; Malala Fund; ONE; Plan International; RESULTS; and Women Deliver.

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ARC and UN Partner to Increase Insurance Coverage in Africa
February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

ADDIS ABABA – The African Risk Capacity (ARC), an agency of the African Union, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have announced a new partnership which will see the two organisations work together to increase insurance coverage against climate risks for African states.

The multilateral deal was announced at the African Union’s Annual Summit in Addis Ababa, and commits ARC and ECA to build the capacity of their 33 common Member States by embedding risk management investments into government planning through policy development. ARC and ECA also will share expertise and commit financial resources to joint analytical work in areas of economic and climate risk research in order to promote risk transfer instruments.

The UN estimates that Africa will see the adaptation costs of climate change rise to $50 billion per year by 2050.

“This partnership marks a bold new phase of heightened collaboration on combatting the effects of climate change in Africa,” said Mohamed Beavogui, Director-General of ARC Agency. “The future of disaster risk management is an increasingly urgent economic issue, and ECA’s unique expertise will complement ARC’s work serving its Member States and building preparedness and resilience on the continent.”

In the four years that ARC has offered insurance coverage to its Member States, it has paid out more than USD $34 million to Member States affected by drought events. These resources have assisted over two million people affected by climate disaster.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to Africa’s economic and social development,” said ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe. “We believe that efforts like our partnership with ARC will help move the needle, so that African countries can be well-guarded against these threats, and they can thrive.”

ECA is a UN regional commission established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958. ECA’s mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. Made up of 54 Member States, and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the Continent’s development challenges.

ECA’s strength derives from its role as the only UN agency mandated to operate at the regional and sub-regional levels to harness resources and bring them to bear on Africa’s priorities. To enhance its impact, ECA places a special focus on collecting up to date and original regional statistics in order to ground its policy research and advocacy on clear objective evidence; promoting policy consensus; providing meaningful capacity development; and providing advisory services in key thematic fields.

ARC consists of ARC Agency and ARC Insurance Company Limited (ARC Ltd). ARC Agency was established in 2012 as a Specialised Agency of the African Union to help Member States improve their capacities to better plan, prepare and respond to weather-related disasters. ARC Ltd is a mutual insurance facility providing risk transfer services to Member States through risk pooling and access to reinsurance markets; it is owned by Member States with active insurance policies as well as KfW Development Bank and the UK Department of International Development (DfiD), as capital contributors.

ARC plays an important role in responding to countries’ needs at times of crisis by providing fast access to funding for pre-agreed-upon, rapid response plans developed in conjunction with governments. ARC’s financing complements other forms of local and international support.

In the few years since ARC began, it has proved to be an effective and vital model – paying out USD $34 million to four countries (Senegal, Niger, Mauritania, and Malawi) affected by drought events. Those resources provided assistance for over two million people and approximately one million cattle.

ARC is using its expertise to help tackle some of the greatest threats faced by the continent, including droughts, outbreaks and epidemics, and tropical cyclones.

For more information, please visit: www.africanriskcapacity.org

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African Reinsurance Corporation joins Africa Finance Corporation
February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC with Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Africa Re

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC with Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Africa Re

LAGOS, Nigeria, 1 February 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- African Reinsurance Corporation (“Africa Re”) announces its membership of Africa Finance Corporation (“AFC”), and becomes the first multi-lateral financial institution to invest in AFC.

Africa Re, owned by 41 African states, approximately 107 insurance/reinsurance companies and non-African strategic investors, is the continent’s premier reinsurance corporation, operating across 41 African countries. Africa Re’s membership of AFC will be officially sealed at a signing ceremony to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on February 1, 2018.

Africa Re’s membership of AFC advances AFC’s growth strategy for its country membership and greater diversification of its shareholding. In recent months, AFC has grown its country membership in Francophone, East and Southern Africa, with the accession in 2017 of Benin, Kenya and Zambia, respectively. AFC now seeks to consolidate this success by further expanding its shareholder base.

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC commented: “We welcome African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re) as a member and shareholder of AFC. As the first multilateral financial institution to become a member of AFC, this is a key milestone for us, as the Corporation seeks to further diversify its shareholding. We are, therefore, pleased to welcome Africa’s premier reinsurance corporation into membership of AFC and look forward to collaborating with Africa Re to provide innovative solutions to the development and financing of infrastructure assets in Africa.”

Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Africa Re, commented: “As a Corporation with both private and public shareholders, we see many synergies with AFC in the pursuit of African continent development agenda as well as business growth. Indeed, we have long admired AFC, and the transformative impact it has made across many of the geographies in which we operate, whilst delivering competitive returns. We are therefore delighted to become a part of one of Africa’s best success stories.”

AFC, an investment grade multilateral finance institution, was established in 2007 with an equity capital base of US$1 billion, to be the catalyst for private sector-led infrastructure investment across Africa. With a current balance sheet size of approximately US$3.5 billion, AFC is the second highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institution in Africa with an A3/P2 (Stable outlook) rating from Moody’s Investors Service. AFC successfully raised US$750 million in 2015 and US$500 million in 2017; out of its Board-approved US$3 Billion Global Medium Term Note (MTN) Programme. Both Eurobond issues were oversubscribed and attracted investors from Asia, Europe and the USA.
AFC’s investment approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development and risk capital to address Africa’s infrastructure development needs and drive sustainable economic growth. AFC invests in high quality infrastructure assets that provide essential services in the core infrastructure sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications. To date, the Corporation has invested approximately US$4 billion in projects within 28 countries across North, East, West and Southern Africa.
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Legal questions raised about Nigeria’s extradition of Cameroonian separatists
February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Daniel Finnan*

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (R) and Cameroonian President Paul Biya pose for a photo in Abuja on 3 May 2016. Photo: Stringer/AFP

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (R) and Cameroonian President Paul Biya pose for a photo in Abuja on 3 May 2016.
Photo: Stringer/AFP

The Nigerian authorities extradited 47 Cameroonian Anglophone separatists this week to face charges in Yaoundé where the government has described them as “terrorists”. Concerns have been raised by lawyers about the legality of such an extradition given the lack of any specific treaty between the two countries and outstanding requests made by the separatists for political asylum.

“I’ve not really found any particular extradition treaty between Nigeria and Cameroon,” Abiola Olagunju, Secretary General, Nigerian Bar Association, told RFI. “The nearest one that we have is the charter for the Lake Chad basin that was signed by the president in 2017.”

Ten of the separatists, including Ayuk Tabe, leader of the self-proclaimed Federal Republic of Ambazonia, were arrested by Nigerian security forces at a hotel in Abuja at the start of January.

Olagunju said specific extradition treaties exist with other countries within the Ecowas regional bloc such as Benin, Togo and Ghana, but not with Cameroon. The Nigerian lawyer spoke in general about the legal relationship between the two countries and not specifically about the case of the separatists.

“The first thing we must note is that the crimes or alleged offence must be extraditable, but not every crime or offence is extraditable in Nigeria,” said Olagunju, by telephone. “Political offences are not extraditable […] like treason, sedition and offences against the government of that state,” he added.

Ayuk Tabe is leading a campaign for the creation of a separate English-speaking entity apart from the Francophone administration in Yaoundé. Tensions in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have grown over the past year.

The crisis began with protests over perceived marginalisation by the Cameroonian authorities. The government responded with a crackdown including curfews, raids and restrictions on travel. More recently another separatist entity called the Ambazonia Governing Council has launched attacks against Cameroonian security forces.

The Ambazonia Governing Council has been clear in its use of violence, carrying out “defensive actions” and “exercising its right to defend itself”, according to its leader Cho Ayaba. On the other hand, Ayuk Tabe has previously told RFI that he eschews violent action and has only ever called for peaceful protests.

Political asylum?

In addition to questions over the extradition arrangement between Nigeria and Cameroon, some have highlighted that the separatists made a request for political asylum in Nigeria and registered with the UN refugee agency.

“The country director of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees did write to the government explaining the legal status of the refugees under international law,” Femi Falana, a Nigerian human rights lawyer who acted for the separatists, told RFI. “But in defiance of the rule of law the Nigerian government has thrown them out.”

Nigeria is a state party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, which cover the rights of refugees and asylum seekers. Depending on the circumstances of the separatists’ extradition, the Nigerian government may have violated the terms of these agreements.

“What the Nigerian government has done is indefensible,” said lawyer Falana. “The fear is that they are going to be put on trial and probably tried for treason which attracts the death penalty in Cameroon.”

The UN refugee agency in Nigeria and at its headquarters in Geneva were unavailable for a comment about this case despite several requests by RFI.

International law

The Cameroonian authorities hailed the extradition of Ayuk Tabe and his separatist supporters following their arrival in the capital. The government said it underlined the close relationship between the two countries, emphasising that the extradition was perfectly legal.

“Whatever has taken place is within the framework of our laws,” Issa Tchiroma Bakary, the government spokesperson and minister of communications, told RFI. “We are a law abiding nation as well as Nigeria, our brotherly neighbour country.”

“Rest assured that no violation of the law, in one way or another, has ever taken place and will never take place,” Minister Bakary added, refusing to comment specifically on the extradition process.

*Source RFI

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Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director Wins a Prestigious Human Rights Award
January 31, 2018 | 0 Comments
Njeri has mentored many and her recent advances in the environmental protection crowns her lifelong commitment to human rights promotion and protection
NAIROBI, Kenya, January 30, 2018/ — Greenpeace Africa’s (www.Greenpeace.org/africa) Executive Director, Njeri Kabeberi, has won the 2017 Munir Mazrui ‘Lifetime Achievement Human Rights Defenders Award’ in a ceremony organised by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD-K) at the Royal Netherlands embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. This is one of three categories of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Awards launched in 2016 to recognise and honour the work of human rights defenders in Kenya.

NCHRD-K is a national organization that promotes the safety and security of human rights defenders in Kenya through advocacy, capacity building and protection. It works in partnership with a Working Group on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, chaired by the Royal Netherlands Embassy.

Announcing the award, Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director of the HRDs coalition in Kenya said:

“Njeri is a selfless Woman Human Rights Defender who has broken chains of patriarchy to lead successful campaigns for justice, good governance and human rights in Kenya and beyond. Njeri has mentored many and her recent advances in the environmental protection crowns her lifelong commitment to human rights promotion and protection that deserves recognition and celebration.”

Upon receiving the award, Njeri Kabeberi said she was humbled and honoured.

“Despite having received a number of International Awards this is the first time I have been recognised in my own country – and since it is said that a ‘prophet is never recognised in their own home’, this then becomes the biggest victory and the sweetest award to date.”

“Human rights defenders’ work is lonely and hardly appreciated but I know that focus, persistence and resilience always cause the desired impact. We earn our freedom when we learn to face fear head on; that is what others call courage” continued Ms. Kabeberi.

Njeri’s activism career spans over three decades; as a young girl in 1982, she quietly began supporting mothers and wives of political prisoners but her human rights work was only thrown into limelight a decade later when she was invited to the late Prof. Wangari Maathai’s house to join the organization of the campaign to release Kenyan political prisoners.

With this long history in human rights activism, Njeri is now leading Greenpeace Africa into a new wave of environmental justice for Africans by Africans. Human rights is inextricably linked to climate change.

“If we won the human rights and governance battle, but lost our planet, we would have lost everything.”

“My current vision is to build an Environmental Movement in Africa so powerful that African citizens begin to take responsibility for their future. This can be achieved by restoring the continent through green pathways and seeking global environmental justice to mitigate climate change impacts” concluded Kabeberi.

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Africa Business and Investment Forum set for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
CCA President Florizelle Liser

CCA President Florizelle Liser

Washington, DC – January 29, 2018: A high level public- private sector dialogue on ways of supporting and promoting private-sector led growth in Africa will take place on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The African Business and Investment Forum will serve as a platform for African and U.S. private sector executives to share insights with African heads of state, ministers, senior USG officials, representatives of multilateral institutions and other stakeholders.

The one-day Forum will feature roundtable discussions on issues related to trade and diversification, energy, agribusiness, and health. This will ensure that private sector voices and views are heard by leaders and key stakeholders, and that the day-to-day challenges faced by private sector operators in Africa are addressed.

Among the more than 150 expected participants are Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia; President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; President Alpha Condé of Guinea; President Macky Sall of Senegal; President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; President João Lourenço of Angola; and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; CEOs and senior executives of key U.S and African companies, both multinationals and SMEs will also attend.

In addition to providing a platform for a high-level public-private sector dialogue, the objectives of the Forum are to increase opportunities for business partnerships, secure commitments as well as track the adoption of business-friendly policies, and showcase countries and policies that are contributing to an enabling environment for enhanced African regional and global trade and investment, including with the United States.

The Africa Business and Investment Forum is organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). ECA’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, and CCA’s President and CEO, Florizelle Liser, will be representing the two organizing institutions at the event.

CCA, as the premier U.S. business association solely focused on promoting U.S.-Africa trade, investment and business engagement, will bring its 23-year expertise of successfully providing insights, connections and access critical to U.S. and African businesses operating on the continent.

ECA provides a unique platform for intermediation between the public and the private sector policies and programs, offering solutions and support to accelerate sustainable private sector development on the continent.

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ARSENAL CLOSE IN ON £55M AUBAMEYANG SIGNING
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Chris Wheatley*

 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The 28-year-old is set to become the Gunners’ record signing just five months after they set that mark to secure Alexandre Lacazette

Arsenal are on the verge of completing the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund after the clubs agreed a £55 million (€63m) fee in principle, Goal understands.

Aubameyang, 28, has been subject of negotiations between the Gunners and Dortmund for several weeks, with Arsenal having refused to meet the Bundesliga side’s €70m asking price.

Goal understands the Gabon international has already agreed personal terms with the north Londoners, with an official announcement to arrive in the coming days.

The striker, who scored 31 league goals last season, was left out of two consecutive games for Dortmund after missing a team meeting, with head coach Peter Stoger accusing the frontman of not being focused.

However, Aubameyang started in Dortmund’s draw with Freiburg on Saturdayamid claims from the Bundesliga side that a transfer would be sanctioned if Arsenal reached “certain parameters”.

“We are ready to agree a transfer under certain parameters, but only if these are fully met,” sporting director Michael Zorc told German TV.

“We have a clear position. Arsenal has made several attempts so far. We have refused them all up to now.”

Aubameyang would join up with former Dortmund team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Arsenal after the Armenian joined in a swap deal which saw Alexis Sanchez head to Manchester United. The duo combined for 62 goals in all competitions two seasons ago.

This season, Aubameyang has scored 21 goals in 24 matches in all competitions. He has found the net 141 times since joining BVB from Saint-Etienne for €13m in July 2013, and he also has 23 goals in 56 caps for Gabon.

The 28-year-old’s on the verge of joining an Arsenal side that sit sixth in the Premier League table, five points off the pace in the race for the top four.

The Gunners were eliminated in their FA Cup third round meeting with Nottingham Forest earlier this month but have advanced to the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City and will face Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League last 32.

As previously reported, West Brom defender Jonny Evans is also a target at the Emirates Stadium, although a hamstring injury sustained at the weekend could see a transfer put on hold until the summer.

Evans is open to a move, but Arsenal may face a late battle, with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City also keen to land the former Manchester United player, depending on his fitness status.

*Source Goal

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Diafra Sakho: Striker leaves West Ham to join French club Rennes
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Diafra Sakho equalled Mick Quinn's Premier League record by scoring in each of his first six league starts

Diafra Sakho equalled Mick Quinn’s Premier League record by scoring in each of his first six league starts

West Ham forward Diafra Sakho has joined French Ligue 1 club Rennes for an undisclosed fee.

The 28-year-old Senegalese, who joined the Hammers from Metz in 2014, scored 24 goals in 71 games for the club.

Sakho’s career at West Ham began well as he equalled a Premier League record by scoring in his first six starts.

However, injuries hampered the rest of his time at the club and he has started only two Premier League matches since the start of the 2016-17 season.

*BBC

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China dismisses ‘absurd’ African Union HQ spying claim
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Chinese built the African Union headquarters, which opened in 2012

The Chinese built the African Union headquarters, which opened in 2012

China has dismissed reports it bugged the African Union (AU) headquarters as “preposterous”.

Kuang Weilin, the Chinese ambassador to the AU, told reporters in Ethiopia the “absurd” claim in France’s Le Monde was “very difficult to understand”.

He spoke out three days after the newspaper published an article claiming data from the Chinese-built AU building was being copied to Shanghai.

The article said the discovery resulted in all the AU servers being switched.

Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who claimed the alleged transfer was taking place late at night [link in French], and was only spotted in January 2017 due to the spike in activity between midnight and 02:00, despite no-one being in the building.

It was suggested the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was opened.

Officials also brought in security experts from Algeria to sweep the entire headquarters for potential bugs, the newspaper said, leading to the discovery of microphones in desks.

But Mr Kuang – who hailed the headquarters as a “monument” to his country’s relationship with the continent – said it was entirely untrue.

“I really question its intention,” he told reporters on Monday. “I think it will undermine and send a very negative message to people. I think it is not good for the image of the newspaper itself.

“Certainly, it will create problems for China-Africa relations.”

*BBC

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Can Kagame? The African Union
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame

The continental group of 55 countries has long sought to reduce its dependence on the West, with limited success. Will 2018 be different?

This week is Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s first as chairman of the AU’s Assembly, its top decision-making body. He plans to remake the notoriously sclerotic AU in his own image: lean and ruthlessly efficient. But first comes financial self-sufficiency, which means securing big commitments from African peers.

Last year member states funded just 14% of the AU’s budgeted programmes, well below the 75% they committed to in 2015. A 0.2% levy on imports into Africa might more than double revenues, but implementation has been slow; 21 countries have signed up, but only Ghana and Rwanda have enshrined it in law.

Mr Kagame wants tougher sanctions for recalcitrant members. But it will take deft diplomacy to overcome opposition from big economies like South Africa—a skill not all are convinced Mr Kagame possesses.

*Source The Economist

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Netanyahu scoffs at notion Rwanda unsafe for deported migrants
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

PM tells meeting of Likud ministers that the UN is already protecting 180,000 refugees in camps in the African country

By STUART WINER and TOI STAFF*

PM Netanyahu, left, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

PM Netanyahu, left, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers on Sunday that Rwanda is a fitting deportation destination for African asylum seekers as the United Nations is already taking care of nearly two hundred thousand refugees in the African state

At the opening of a meeting of Likud party ministers, Netanyahu addressed Israel’s plans to deport tens of thousands of African migrants to a third country.

The prime minister has praised deals to send migrants to third-party countries in Africa, but has refused to publicly divulge where they are. Media reports have focused on Rwanda and Uganda as the destination countries.

“There are 180,000 refugees sitting there under the protection of the UN, so the claims that it is dangerous are a joke,” Netanyahu said of Rwanda.

Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the so-called “Infiltrator’s Law” paving the way for the forced deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers starting in March, and the indefinite imprisonment of those who refuse to leave “voluntarily.”

There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20% are Sudanese, and the vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012. Many live in south Tel Aviv, and some residents and activists blame them for rising crime rates and have lobbied the government for their deportation.

The amendment has gained international attention and is fraught with controversy.

On Saturday a number of severed doll heads doused in red paint were left outside the Tel Aviv office of the Population, Immigration, and Border Authority (PIBA) in what appeared to be a protest move against the deportation plan.

Yossi Edelstein, PIBA’s head of enforcement and foreign affairs administration, complained Sunday that protests against the deportations had gotten out of hand and that opponents’ claims were rife with misleading information.

“What started as a protest became incitement and what happened yesterday in our offices in Tel Aviv is a result of that incitement,” Edelstein told Army Radio. “There are columnists who call for attacking [PIBA] workers. What have we come to? We have crossed every red line you can in protest and we crossed into incitement.”

While refusing to identify the specific countries the migrants will be sent to, he insisted that the destinations are safe and that PIBA operates a careful followup process.

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya, on January 22, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya, on January 22, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“In the last two weeks there has been false information published,” he told the radio station, dismissing supposed claims that Israel is sending asylum seekers to their deaths. “The High Court has examined those claims from every angle and found that the countries are safe.”

Rami Gudovich, a social worker dealing with asylum seekers, said that some 100 people who were deported by Israel to South Sudan have died, and that there have been several accounts of rape as well as mistreatment by local authorities.

“We are gambling with peoples’ lives,” Gudovich said, saying that some of the asylum seekers that Israel deported to South Sudan have been killed in the civil war there. Other were arrested by local authorities or are suffering because they no longer have access to the medicines and treatments available in Israel, he said.

Israeli rights activists and Jewish communities in the US have spoken out against the deportation plan.

Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and agreed to a demand that his country would only accept asylum-seekers Israel is looking to deport if the move was made in accordance with international law.

*The Times of Israel

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This is Africa too
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Enuma Okoro*

Aerial view of Lagos PHOTO: CLUTTONS

Aerial view of Lagos PHOTO: CLUTTONS

A few months ago, at a recent forum on ‘Africa and Media,’ I got into a vibrant discussion with another African writer about the types of stories we choose to tell about the continent. From my understanding of her viewpoint, she was concerned that in trying to “change the narrative” of Africa, people would begin to “whitewash” certain realities in Africa; like poverty, unemployment, hunger, and other destitute factors affecting many Africans across the continent, and which she felt, were the significant issues important to write about and the stories to be shared.

She said that as someone born and raised in Africa, she wasn’t interested in new narratives, what she referred to as “private jet owners” or “fashion stories,” that she felt stemmed from a colonial mentality of Africans’ need to justify themselves by western standards and for western eyes. To be honest, I listened in disbelief. But after having more discussions on this topic I’ve also found that quite a few people hold this opinion that there are certain narratives about Africa that should be prioritized out of a sense of responsibility to the continent’s continued development. However, this suggests to me a limited imagination only allowing room for extremes, and that given a choice between the two – poverty-stricken or successful and rising – people like this writer, feel it is more beneficial to tell the world about Africa’s poor, needy and destitute, than to promote narratives about a rich and diverse Africa. Because, the argument claims, people need to stay aware that Africa and her citizens are still in need of so much for basic survival and development.

Unfortunately, I vehemently disagreed with this line of thought, which led to my heated discussion with the writer. I have no fear of overwrought narratives of a poor and destitute Africa being whitewashed by narratives of a rich, vibrant and pulsating Africa replete with stylish and success-driven citizens and cities. On the contrary I think we need more of those sorts of stories and media portrayals to counter balance what already exists in popular cultural imaginations of the continent. But her comments did make me rethink something, that maybe instead of using the phrase, “change the narrative,” a more suitable term would be “expand the narrative,” because these stories that she and others are invested in telling are in fact true and necessary stories of Africa.

Poverty, hunger, unemployment, disease, lack of basic amenities is the reality for many people, and these stories do need to be told because ongoing awareness, action, development and change are essential for a more equitable continent. But the only problem is that the world is already more than familiar with these narratives. So familiar that many outside of Africa are tempted to think that this is the only true reality of the continent, that need and destitution is the only true story. It is one reason that people can jump on the bandwagon of such an ignorant, racist and disgraceful comment such as that made earlier this month by the 45th President of the United States of America. When few alternate narratives are made available, it only helps to continue to limit people’s imagination about Africa and what it means to be African. If we don’t make the effort to share our own stories and images about the multiple realties of the continent then we’re simply continuing to allow outsiders to shape the larger imagination of what it means to be African and what it means to live in Africa.

Which is why the role of writers, musicians, painters, photographers, filmmakers, essentially what I think of as culture-bearers is so powerful and necessary. It is possible to control our own narratives in a way that can radically shift global perceptions. On a whim, I created an Instagram page called @ThisIsAfricaToo, and posted a few pictures of images that show Africa in ways many people overseas probably are not used to seeing. As I go about my daily life in Nigeria and on my travels throughout the continent I will continue to share these images that show other sides of our cities and countries than people may be used to. They will be images that suggest more than one reality and more than one tried and trite narrative. I invite people to share their own photos of the beautiful and rich Africa they know, and to tag the Instagram handle @ThisIsAfricaToo. It’s a small action but a picture speaks a thousand words. That writer I engaged with earlier would question why we feel the need to shift global perspectives if we ourselves know what is true about ourselves. Well, to put it in a very elementary way, because Africa is not a continent in isolation from the rest of the world and the world needs to know and hear our multiple truths in order to engage us appropriately.

*Source The Guardian Nigeria

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African Heads of State Endorse New Measurement of Progress on Neglected Tropical Diseases Reaffirming Commitment to Health Equity
January 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
For the first time, annual African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Scorecard for Accountability and Action will reveal progress and gaps across five neglected diseases that affect countries’ poorest and most marginalised communities
Mectizan distribution in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai.

Mectizan distribution in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 28, 2018/ — Today, at the 30th African Union Heads of State Summit , the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) added neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to its annual scorecard on disease progress. The scorecard is personally reviewed by African heads of state every year, putting NTDs alongside malaria and maternal and child health as top health priorities for the continent.

Developed by the World Health Organization in collaboration with Uniting to Combat NTDs , this index reports progress for the 47 NTD-affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa in their strategies to treat and prevent the five most common NTDs: lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma. By adding NTDs to the scorecard, African leaders are making a public commitment to hold themselves accountable for progress on these diseases.

“My government is determined to make sure we can take ‘neglected’ out of these diseases,” said His Excellency, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn. “Improving the health, education and productivity of our poorest citizens by eliminating NTDs can put Africa on the path to prosperity and universal health coverage. I urge my fellow African leaders to build on the progress already made and increase their efforts to tackle NTDs to make them a subject for much concerted effort and action at the African Union.”

A Health Priority for Well Over A Billion

NTDs are a group of diseases that affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, often living in the most remote communities. More than 1.5 billion people are at risk for NTDs globally, including more than 620 million in Africa. Whilst NTDs cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, their primary impact is on the millions that are left trapped in endless cycles of poverty. They cause blindness, disfigurement, disability, stigma and discrimination. Parents are left unable to work and children unable to go to school.

Fortunately, the five diseases that are being monitored in the ALMA scorecard respond well to cheap, safe medicines, which are donated by pharmaceutical companies and are broadly distributed to treat and prevent the diseases. As a result of a global public-private coalition, more people than ever before are being treated for NTDs, and the number of people at risk of infection globally has dropped by more than 400 million in the last five years.

Good NTD coverage also promotes universal health coverage: NTD programs have trained over a million health workers and brought a variety of services, including family planning tools and vitamins, to people in remote communities otherwise unreached by the health system. This connection is discussed in more length in Uniting to Combat NTDs’ recent progress report, “Reaching a Billion: Ending Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Gateway to Universal Health Coverage,” launched last month.

“When it comes to diseases that affect the very poorest and most marginalised communities, it is up to political leaders to make them a priority,” said Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Director, Uniting to Combat NTDs Support Centre. “Beating NTDs is essential for Africa’s economic development, and we are thrilled that African Heads of State will be reviewing their progress every year and holding themselves accountable for equitable health outcomes.”

Progress in Africa, But More to Do

The scorecard shows the evidence of progress in Africa:

  • In 2016, 40 million more people were reached with preventive treatment for at least one NTD than the year before.
  • More than half of all countries improved their coverage index between 2015 and 2016, with 12 countries having doubled their coverage index.
  • Togo was certified by WHO as eliminating lymphatic filariasis, Malawi has stopped treatment for lymphatic filariasis and is in the process of being validated by WHO, and both Ghana and the Gambia report having eliminated trachoma.

While most data points to progress, the scorecard shows areas of concern. Nearly two-thirds of countries have a NTD coverage index of less than 50%. The percentage of affected countries implementing disease-specific interventions ranges from 92% for trachoma to just 72% for schistosomiasis, suggesting that there is still much more to do.

“Beating NTDs will help lift millions out of poverty, improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. There is a huge amount at stake and we know that eradicating these diseases is too big a job for one sector alone,” said Tanya Wood, chair of the NTD NGO Network and CEO of the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations. “With the ALMA initiative driving accountability and action, and new cross-sector partnerships like the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy  combining expertise, we are getting closer to a world where NTDs are neglected no more.”

African Leadership in Health
Established in 2009, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a groundbreaking initiative, established by heads of state themselves and designed to foster collaboration in order to solve a crisis that affects the entire continent. The ALMA Scorecard empowers national leaders to battle Africa’s most devastating diseases by:

  • Providing a forum to review progress and address challenges in meeting the malaria targets.
  • Implementing a monitoring and accountability system through the ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action to track results, identify bottlenecks, and facilitate appropriate action.
  • Identifying and sharing lessons learned for effective implementation of national programs.

Because some NTDs are transmitted in the same manner as malaria, and shared community distributions platforms are used for both malaria and NTDs, ALMA has chosen to include NTDs in its scorecard.

“Malaria and NTDs both lay their heaviest burden on the poor, rural and marginalised. They also share solutions, from vector control to community-based treatment,” said Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary, ALMA. “Adding NTDs to our scorecard will help give leaders the information they need to end the cycle of poverty and reach everyone, everywhere with needed health care.”

The addition of the index happens just before the 6th anniversary on 30 January of the London Declaration on NTDs  a multi-sectoral partnership of pharmaceutical companies, donors, endemic countries and non-governmental organizations committed to control, eliminate or eradicate 10 diseases by 2020.

About Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Neglected tropical diseases affect the poorest, most marginalised and most remote communities in the world. They are a consequence and cause of poverty as they thrive where access to clean water, sanitation and health care is limited. Their impact on individuals and communities can be devastating. Many of them cause severe disfigurement and disabilities. They impact on life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals and the communities they live in.

African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (http://APO.af/ZupcNu) is a groundbreaking coalition of 49 African Heads of State and Government working across country and regional borders to eliminate malaria by 2030. They leverage collective knowledge and influence to bring about action and accountability to fight the continent’s most devastating diseases.

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Uniting to Combat NTDs (http://UnitingToCombatNTDs.org) is a group of organizations committed to achieving WHO’s 2020 goal to control and eliminate 10 NTDs. By working together, Uniting to Combat NTDs aims to chart a new course toward health and sustainability among the world’s poorest communities. Affiliated organizations have signed the London Declaration on NTDs, which was launched on 30 January 2012.

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I profoundly Respect The Partnerships And Values We Share-Trump in Goodwill Message To African Union
January 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Announces Extended Visit of Secretary Tillerson in March

By Ajong Mbapndah L

President Trump recently  met with with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame during the World Economic Summit in Devos

President Trump recently met with with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame during the World Economic Summit in Devos

U.S President Donald Trump has expressed respect for the partnerships and values his country shares with Africa.

In a message to the African Union as it meets for its 30th Summit, Trump says the U.S respects the people Africa while expressing his firm commitment to strong and respectful relationships with African States as sovereign nations.

The statement issued on July 25, commends the leadership of current Chairperson Moussa Faki as it works to transform the AU into an effective institution to advance economic prosperity peace and positive outcomes for Africa.

“We are working together to increase free, fair, and reciprocal trade between the United States and African countries, and partnering to improve transportation security and safeguard legal immigration,” the statement reads.

Describing seminal Summit   issues on advancing trade and development, resolving armed conflicts, and combatting corruption as critical for the future of Africa, President Trump said the African Union could count on the support and partnership of the U.S.

President Trump said he looked forward to building on relationships established during a lunch he had with African leaders on the sidelines of the last U.N General Assembly, and the Africa Ministerial Engagements in Washington.

The statement indicates that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Africa for an extended visit in March while the President looks forward to welcoming African leaders to Washington, DC.

Prior to his return from the World Economic Forum in Devos, Trump met with incoming Chairman of the Assembly, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda . President Trump faced a barrage of criticisms in the wake of remarks attributed to him describing Africa as a shithole. A number of U.S Ambassadors serving in Africa were forced to offer explanations on the statements of the President.

This can be considered as a good start says Ambassador Omar Arouna

This can be considered as a good start says Ambassador Omar Arouna

Describing the statement as a good start, Omar Arouna a former Ambassador of Benin to the USA and Managing Partner of the US-Africa Cyber Security Group thinks that this may be the closest to an apology Africa may get from a leader who is known to double down on his statements. Arouna, who is also a Member of the Washington, DC, Mayor’s Commission on Africa believes that the size, and importance of Africa, make it difficult for the Trump administration to ignore the continent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Africa Prefers Fair Trade to Marshall Plans –Nigerian VP Osinbajo
January 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
Remarks by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, The Vice President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, at an Interactive Session Titled “Stabilizing the Mediterranean” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018
 Prof. Yemi Osinbajo-VP of Nigeria

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo-VP of Nigeria

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 25, 2018/ — Remarks by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, The Vice President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, at an Interactive Session Titled “Stabilizing The Mediterranean” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018:

Q: How realistic is Africa replacing China as the factory of the world, how realistic is that? How do you look at the Marshall plan for Africa, is it something you think is credible?

Vice President: Let me begin with the Africa Rising narrative and all of the possibilities around Africa replacing China as the factory of the world. I think that probably is in the natural cause of things. Even now, we see that as wage costs go up in China, Africa is becoming the obvious choice for some certain industries, so it is clear that will happen and there are quite a few initiatives in that direction already; there are a few countries like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, with the development of Special Economic Zones, with partnerships coming from China.

I think those sorts of arrangements will very quickly absorb labour because obviously, you are looking at growing populations in Africa, the projections as you know are in the next 20 years or so, we are looking at the youth population… probably 70% of Africa’s population would be young people and Africa would probably about be the third largest population.

I think that the critical thing is to see that we cannot deal with this in any quick way, there are no quick fixes to this, we have got to look at this long term, because clearly there’s no way that African economies will ramp off quickly enough to be able to meet all of the expectations, especially all of the projections around population. So this is going to be a long walk and I think that it is important for all of us to see this as such.

The idea of the Marshall Plan is to me, in some sense, bringing old solutions to what really is a dynamic problem. I think that what Africa needs and what a lot of the southern neighbours of the Europeans need are fairer trade policies and a cocktail of policies that centre on job creation in those locations, more investments, but I think more thinking through those ideas and policies that creates more opportunities, partnership between Europe and Africa.

I don’t think that aid has worked through the years. I think that there’s a need for possibly just much more commitment to the whole process. I mean there have been multi-processes, several of them, but I certainly think that if we look at this as a major global problem and when you look around and look at extremism, terrorism and all of the various things that are exported along with illegal migration, it is a global problem and we really does deserve a global solution and the way to look at that is by coming together to reason these things through, but frankly it is not by those Marshal Plans off the shelf, I think it is more nuanced than that.

Q: Do you feel that values of human rights are being compromised in order for Europe to have tactical immediate solutions?

Vice President: I certainly agree that it was a great shock to see actual slave dealings in this century; it was absolutely horrifying to see that. What we are seeing is a degeneration of criminal activities where you find that state capacity is unable to maintain international human rights norms.

One of the crucial things is to encourage repatriation. Nigerian government for example is working with the Libyan government in repatriating everyone who is in the camps. It is a slow process because there are those who claim nationalities because they see a way out of the camps. There is also a great deal of willingness on the part of those who are in the camps to go back because it is entirely voluntary. There is pressure where there is no state capacity or inadequate state capacity to maintain law and order and international human rights norms. The pressure is a bit too much for the Libyan authorities, so what you find is that the criminal gangs and all of these asymmetric type organizations dominate the space and we may not be able to do much without relieving the Libyan authorities of a lot of the illegal migrants in their custody or their country.

Q: With a Yes or No, 5 years from now, are we still going to be seating here having the same discussion?

Vice President: Would you give us a chance to say, “I hope not?” (Laughter). I really suspect yes.

*Courtesy of Laolu Akande,Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity),Office of the Vice President

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Economy has improved-Gambian leader Adama Barrow
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Kebba Jeffang

President Adama Barrow

President Adama Barrow

The Gambian president Adama Barrow said the country’s economy has done well in his first year administration of the West African state.

In December, last year, the Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh told deputies that the government had inherited the sum of D56 billion dalasis.

Reacting to this, the President has today described it as ‘staggering issue.’

“It’s about 120 to 125% of our GDP. That is very serious. But I think for the past one year we have worked very hard to see that we stabilize our economy. Donors like the World Bank, European Union and other institutions have helped us to stabilize our economy in the form of grant and budget support,” he said

He said his government had inherited less than one month import cover compare to now when they have four months import cover. That is very good.

“The lending rates also has gone down, borrowing has gone done. In combine, this is helping our economy because it has gone down by 12%.  Also our income has increased because the traffic at the port which has increased as well. I think we are on the right track,” Barrow said.

He said this in an interview conducted by Kebba Jeffang at State House in Banjul, on December, 24th

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Refugee Settlements To Be Transformed Into Digital Communities For Long-Term Economic Growth
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

Mastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Power Africa Initiative Announce Powerful New Public-Private Coalition

Davos, Switzerland – January 24, 2018 – Mastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced the launch of a public-private coalition that will bring together technology, solutions and experience from multiple sectors to transform refugee settlements into digitally-connected communities. This commitment delivers on a vision laid out in research conducted last year by Mastercard to better understand the critical needs of the over seven million refugees living in camps or settlements today.

The coalition, led by Mastercard and USAID’s Power Africa initiative, will launch pilot programs during the first half of 2018 to address some of the biggest barriers to development. For example, mobile phone and internet access is as critical to refugees’ safety and security as food, shelter and water. The organizations will work together to introduce internet and mobile connectivity, access to clean, efficient energy, and digital financial tools for communities in Kenya and Uganda, with plans to scale to other refugee-hosting countries around the world.

In addition to Mastercard and Power Africa, organizations participating in the coalition include: AccentureAcumenBRCKDanish Refugee CouncilEnergy Peace PartnersFenix InternationalGSMAThe Innovation VillageLutheran World FederationMercy CorpsMicrosoftMoving Energy InitiativeNetHopeNorwegian Refugee CouncilOff-Grid ElectricPawamePowerGen Renewable EnergySolarKioskTent FoundationUSAID Global Development LabU.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and MigrationVecna Cares Charitable Trusts, and World Vision.

“We’ve spent the past several years testing and learning with our partners to take what we do well as a technology company and apply it to help solve this humanitarian crisis,” said Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President, Public Private Partnerships, Mastercard. “Our payments technology has helped to reduce inefficiencies and expenses, add transparency, empower refugees, and stimulate local markets. Now we’re also acting as a force multiplier by combining our strengths with those of the coalition members to make an even bigger impact.”

Today, approximately 31 percent of the world’s refugees live in refugee camps or settlements. They are men, women and children who have fled from countries ravaged by war, political unrest and natural disasters, in hopes of a better life. But they spend an average of 10 years in exile, most often residing in low-and middle-income countries that are already under significant economic strain.

Uganda and Kenya are among the ten countries with the largest refugee populations. Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees and is home to Bidi Bidi, currently the largest refugee settlement in the world. Kenya hosts approximately 490,000 refugees in settlements, including Kalobeyei, which was established in 2015 to improve the conditions of refugees and host communities through an economically integrated approach.

Mastercard recently published a recommendation for a new integrated model for refugee camps following a year of extensive research in the Kakuma and Kalobeyei camps in Kenya. The insights from the study helped identify the three key areas on which coalition members will focus:

  • Connectivity – Coalition members will work together to create accessible and resilient connectivity platforms that deliver vital information to refugees and host communities and enable efficient management of settlement operations.
  • Digital tools – Whether providing cash-based assistance or conducting outreach to refugees and host community members, agencies increasingly rely upon technology to effectively address needs. The coalition will work to design and implement an integrated set of identity, payment, and data tools that improve the delivery of essential services.
  • Energy access – Power is not provided in settlements as a service, so refugees often rely upon donated solar lanterns for basic light, and poor quality, expensive diesel generators for small businesses. The coalition members will implement solutions for providing energy access to refugees and host communities in a more efficient and low-cost way.

This coalition complements the UN General Assembly endorsed Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Global Compact on Refugees, which seeks to ease pressure on host countries and enhance refugee self-reliance. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and lead for the CRRF, welcomes innovative private-public approaches to longstanding refugee situations that advance the sustainable development agenda and the CRRF.

The Tent Foundation’s Partnership for Refugees will host the Smart Communities Coalition website, enabling additional companies to join the effort to tailor their services to meet refugee and host community needs, a focus area for Tent. Mastercard joined the Tent Partnership in 2016, and this coalition is an extension of its pledge to explore better ways to integrate refugees in host communities.

Louise James, Managing Director, Accenture Development Partnerships:

“Accenture is proud to be a coalition member and to support the mission of this group. Our main goal is to help refugees have the connectivity they require through access to mobile phones and the internet. Connectivity will expand refugees’ access to critical vocational, health and safety information and services.”

Sherwin Das, Managing Director, Energy Peace Partners:

“Energy Peace Partners is pleased to be part of the Smart Communities Coalition and excited to leverage our Peace Renewable Energy Credit (PREC) instrument to drive new renewable energy investment in some of the world’s most fragile settings.”

Lyndsay Handler, CEO, Fenix International:

“Fenix is committed to providing affordable energy products and inclusive financing to the hundreds of millions of people in Africa living without access to the grid. We are proud to partner with the Smart Communities Coalition to find innovative technology and customer experience solutions to overcome the barriers of delivering clean energy and other life-changing products to this population.”

Lennart Hernander, Program Representative, Lutheran World Federation:

“LWF is proud to work with so many dedicated and professional partners in the ‘Smart Communities Coalition’. LWF has supported refugees in Kakuma for more than 25 years. We were among the first few partners present on the ground when the ‘Lost Boys’ from Sudan started to arrive.  We see the ‘Smart Communities Coalition’ as a major step towards a future-looking and integrated solution for refugees and local communities, which through connectivity and renewable energy will provide new opportunities for all. The Smart Communities Coalition approach empowers communities in a dignified and accountable manner, this is at the very core of LWFs vision and objectives globally.”

Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps:

“At Mercy Corps, we have long held the belief that to solve complex problems, we need to work together across sectors – public, private and nonprofit – to bring to bear our collective knowledge to design bold solutions. We’re thrilled to be a founding member of the Smart Communities Coalition and hopeful about the possibility to bring needed technology and other services to refugee settlements.”

Ben Good, Project Director, Moving Energy Initiative and CEO, Energy 4 Impact:

“The Moving Energy Initiative believes that a paradigm shift in the way humanitarian sector “does energy”, including new types of partnership with the private sector, can create major benefits for the environment, for the agencies and for displaced persons.  And, as it is with energy access, so it is with connectivity and the digital economy. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with the Smart Communities Coalition.”

Lauren Woodman, CEO, NetHope:

“Internet connectivity is a lifeline that connects refugees to information, resources, and opportunities. Put simply: Information is aid.”

Neil Turner, Kenya Country Director, Norwegian Refugee Council:

“Offering refugees increasing livelihood opportunities, unleashing their entrepreneurial skills, and creating environmentally friendly, energy efficient ways of doing this, is at the heart of the NRC’s work in Kenya.”

Xavier Helgesen, CEO and Co-Founder, Off-Grid Electric:

“We have long been a proud partner of Power Africa, and are thrilled by the opportunity to use our technology and experience in Africa to serve refugee communities with affordable & reliable power.”

Maurice Parets, CEO, Pawame:

“Pawame is a social enterprise distributing solar home systems in Turkana County, where Kakuma refugee camp is located. We launched our operations in September 2017 and Pawame is committed to creating jobs by distributing its solar home system, empowering the lives of refugees and reducing the carbon footprint. Through our solar home systems, which provide lighting, phone charging and television, we will empower refugees with increased energy access.”

Andreas Spiess, CEO and Co-Founder, SolarKiosk:

“SOLARKIOSK is thrilled to be one of the founding members of the Smart Communities Coalition. We look forward to enabling our solar powered infrastructure, the E-HUBB, to become an integral part of the Coalition’s mission to bring renewable energy and economic generating opportunities to refugee and host communities.  With a network of over 200 E-HUBBs across Africa and Asia, experience with refugee and host communities in the Middle East and over five years of know-how in providing retail products and energy services to underserved markets, SOLARKIOSK can greatly contribute to the transformation led by the Coalition.”

Paul Amendola, Executive Director, VecnaCares:

“VecnaCares is excited to be a member of the coalition. Our goal is to develop and deploy an electronic medical records system and CliniPAK to help close the information gaps between patients, caregivers, and decision-makers. Digital patient-centered data in real-time will impact and improve patient health, clinical treatment, and medical resources for refugees.”

Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO, World Vision International:

“The Smart Communities Coalition represents the positive shift in how private and public partners are working together to address growing humanitarian needs, especially in refugee settings. As part of the Smart Communities Coalition, World Vision will work with our partners to identify technologies and approaches that will expedite the delivery of services to reduce the vulnerabilities of children and build self-reliance for their families, particularly in fragile and conflict contexts.”

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Next Einstein Forum launches survey to measure gender gap in STEM education and research in Africa
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
Female NEF fellows

Female NEF fellows

KIGALI, Rwanda, 24 January 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA) – The Next Einstein Forum (NEF), an initiative of the Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung, today announces the launch of an important survey that hopes to measure the existing gender gap in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education and research in Africa.

The survey results will be announced through a report released at the NEF Global Gathering 2018 to be held 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Further, the results will inform a White Paper to be unpacked during the highly anticipated panel on bridging the gap for women in science and technology to be held on the first day of the NEF Global Gathering 2018.

“The NEF and our AIMS Women in STEM (AIMSWIS) Initiative are committed to promoting scientific excellence and gender equity. We believe the two go hand in hand, improving scientific output and outcomes. We have launched this survey to get a better understanding of what barriers exist and what best practices can be adopted organically to advance gender equity in STEM education and research on our continent,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Chairman of the NEF.

Questions will focus on participants’ academic journey and work experience including the opportunities and barriers faced along the way. The results will be compiled in a report which will provide much needed primary data to inform discussion and recommendations among policy makers, academic institutions, funding partners and civil society.

Central to the NEF’s vision of propelling Africa onto the global scientific stage, the NEF actively works to increase women’s representation in STEM fields in Africa and globally. Leading by example, NEF Fellows and Ambassadors cohorts comprise at least 40% women.

To participate in the survey, click here. The first 100 completed surveys will receive a participation prize.

Launched in 2013, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The NEF is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally. The NEF believes that Africa’s contributions to the global scientific community are critical for global progress. At the centre of NEF efforts are Africa’s young people, the driving force for Africa’s scientific renaissance. The NEF is a unique youth-driven forum. At our headline biennial scientific events, 50% of participants are 42 or younger. Far from being an ordinary science forum, the NEF Global Gatherings position science at the centre of global development efforts. The next NEF Global Gathering will be held on 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. In addition, through our Communities of Scientists, we showcase the contributions of Africa’s brilliant youth to Africa’s scientific emergence through its class of NEF Fellows, who are Africa’s top scientists and technologists under the age of 42, and NEF Ambassadors, who are the NEF’s 54 science and technology ambassadors on the ground.

The NEF is also working together with partners such as the African Academy of Sciences, Ministers’ of Education, Science and Research across Africa, foundations and other global scientific and private sector companies, to build an African scientific identity. By bringing together key stakeholders, the NEF hopes to drive the discussion from policy to implementation by leveraging buy in and best practice results from Africa and the world. Have a look at our benchmark Dakar Declaration.

Finally, the NEF is telling untold stories of scientific research and innovation across the continent through our various platforms. We want to recalibrate what ‘innovation’ means in Africa. We want to make the link between science and technology, even basic sciences, to everyday life. We want the public involved in science and we have recently concluded the first coordinated Africa Science Week – an annual three to five day celebration of science and technology through coordinated science events across the continent. We believe the next Einstein will be African.

The NEF has been endorsed by the African Union Commission, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Governments of Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and a growing number of private sector and civil society partners from across the world who are passionate about positioning Africa’s scientific community as an influential member in the global scientific community, which will ensure sustainable human development in Africa and other parts of the world.

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African Union Diaspora Headquarters to be established in Accompong Jamaica
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
Accompong Minister of Finance, Hon. Timothy E. McPherson Jr., salutes Ambassador Quao as she confirms AU Diaspora Headquarters to be established in Accompong

Accompong Minister of Finance, Hon. Timothy E. McPherson Jr., salutes Ambassador Quao as she confirms AU Diaspora Headquarters to be established in Accompong

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, 24 January 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- African Union Permanent Ambassador to the USA, Hon. Dr. Arikana Chihombori Quao, has re-affirmed the decision to establish an African Union Diaspora Headquarters in Accompong Jamaica during the official ceremony to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Peace Treaty between the Accompong Maroons and the British.

The Ambassador applauded the Maroons for maintaining their African cultural heritage and traditions, and described the Maroon state as being a piece of Africa in the heart of the Caribbean.

The Right Hon. Colonel Ferron Williams, Accompong Head of State, welcomed the decision and said “Today we Maroons are vindicated for having fought to defend our African heritage and identity. We are honoured by our ancestors valor and victory against European colonialism.”

AU Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao addresses the nation during the 280th Accompong Maroon Festival and announces new AU Diaspora Headquarters to be built in Accompong.

AU Ambassador Arikana Chihombori Quao addresses the nation during the 280th Accompong Maroon Festival and announces new AU Diaspora Headquarters to be built in Accompong.

The new headquarters will be used to consolidate the African Diaspora in a strategic cooperation with the African Union, Governments and key institutions. The African Union officially recognizes the Diaspora as the Sixth Region of the Union, but it is widely accepted that the Diaspora must become organized before it can have a meaningful engagement with the continent.

Accompong’s Minster of Finance, Hon. Timothy McPherson, was instrumental in brokering the agreement which he describes as signaling “a new era of economic cooperation and development between Africa and the Diaspora. This cooperation is what the African family has been waiting for during the last 500 years, now that its here let’s return to building wonders of wonders and achieving things the world is yet to imagine. ”

The Headquarters is expected to begin its operations in February 2018.

 
 

The African Union Representational Mission to the United States of America is the first bilateral diplomatic mission of the African Union. Officially launched on July 11, 2007 in Washington, DC, its mandate is to undertake, develop and maintain constructive and productive institutional relationships between the African Union and the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government, the African Diplomatic Corps, the Africans in the Diaspora, and the Bretton Woods Institutions through.

Sovereign State of Accompong
This state is a nation within the nation of the island of Jamaica. The Maroon settlement of Accompong perched high up in the mountains of St. Elizabeth in western Jamaica was founded in 1739, established after rebel slaves and their descendants fought a protracted war with the British, the runaway Maroon slaves signed a peace treaty with the British to gain semi-sovereignty over the area. Accompong is a little piece of Africa in the heart of the Caribbean.

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African Union Commission to launch highly-anticipated Single African Sky
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire
The African Union Commission is set to launch the first AU Agenda
2063 Flagship project, the Single African Air Transport Market
(SAATM), in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 28th January 2018 as a historic
event at the African Union Summit, nearly two decades after the
adoption of the 1999 Yamoussoukro Decision.

Speaking ahead of the launch event, Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner
for Infrastructure and Energy at the African Union Commission said
“With preparations continuing on schedule, the launch of the Single
African Air Transport Market will spur more opportunities to promote
trade, cross-border investments in the production and service
industries, including tourism resulting in the creation of an
additional 300,000 direct and two million indirect jobs contributing
immensely to the integration and socio-economic growth of the
continent.”

The Commissioner stated that the aviation industry currently
supports 8 million jobs in Africa and hence SAATM was created with the
aim of enhancing connectivity, facilitating trade and tourism,
creating employment, and ensuring that the industry plays a more
prominent role in the global economy and significantly contributing to
the AU’s Agenda 2063.

“The AU Summit will also see the adoption of the regulatory text of
the Yamoussoukro Decision, that is, the competition and consumer
protection regulations that safeguards the efficient operation of the
market,” the Commissioner added.

An exhibition billed “Flying the AU Agenda 2063 for an integrated,
peaceful and prosperous Africa” will be unveiled to mark the launch,
as well as ribbon cutting and the inauguration of the commemorative
plaque.

So far, 23 African countries out of 55 have subscribed to the Single
African Air Transport Market whereas 44 African countries signed the
Yamoussoukro Decision.

“The African Union Commission, under the leadership and personal
commitment of H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, has been playing a key
coordinating role in the establishment of the Single African Air
Transport Market and advocacy to AU Member States, who have not yet
committed to the solemn commitment, to do so,” the Commissioner
intimated.

The African Union Commission (AUC), the African Civil Aviation
Commission (AFCAC), the International Civil Aviation Organization
(ICAO), the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the
African Airlines Association (AFRAA) are also advising African
countries to open their skies for enhancement of connectivity and
efficiency of air services in the continent.

“As the first of the 12 African Union’s Agenda 2063 flagship projects
to be launched, the implementation of SAATM will pave the way for
other flagship projects as the African Passport and enabling the Free
Movement of People, the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA),”
Commissioner Abou-Zeid stressed.

The Declaration on the establishment of a Single African Air Transport
Market, as a flagship project of the AU Agenda 2063, was adopted by
the African Union (AU) Assembly in January 2015. Immediately
thereafter, eleven (11) AU Member States declared their Solemn
Commitment to establish a Single African Air Transport Market through
full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision of 1999 that provides
for full liberalization of market access between African States, free
exercise of traffic rights, elimination of restrictions on ownership
and full liberalization of frequencies, fares and capacities.

To date, the number of Member States that have adhered to the Solemn
Commitment has reached twenty-three (23), namely: Benin, Botswana,
Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia,
Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mali, Mozambique, Niger,
Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Swaziland, Togo and
Zimbabwe.

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Ugandan president: Why I love Trump
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Uganda’s Museveni: I love Trump for being frank with Africans

President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda has given a speech declaring his “love” for US President Donald Trump.

Earlier this month, Mr Trump was accused of referring to African nations as “shithole” countries during an immigration meeting.

Mr Trump has denied making the remarks but US senators who attended the meeting say that he did.

The African Union demanded that Mr Trump apologise for his “clearly racist” comments.

“America has got one of the best presidents ever,” Mr Museveni said to laughter during the opening of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) in the Ugandan capital of Kampala.

“I love Trump because he tells Africans frankly. The Africans need to solve their problems, the Africans are weak.”

Mr Museveni’s comments are in opposition to the reaction of many leaders who have condemned Mr Trump’s language.

On Sunday, French President Emmanuel Macron told the BBC that he shared Africa’s outrage.

On Monday, people in Haiti, another country that Mr Trump disparaged, protested against the president’s remarks.

Mr Museveni’s defence of the US president came just hours after the US ambassador to Uganda criticised Mr Trump.

“[His words] are obviously quite disturbing and upsetting,” Deborah Malac said.

Mr Trump allegedly used the term “shithole countries” when asking why the US should accept immigrants from Haiti and some countries in Africa.

In 2017, Mr Trump allegedly said that Afghanistan was a terrorist haven; all people from Haiti “have Aids”, and that Nigerians would never “go back to their huts” once allowed into the US, the New York Times reported.

The White House denied Mr Trump made the comments.

*BBC

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Morocco launches 2026 World Cup campaign and logo
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
Morocco is up against a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States to host the World Cup

Morocco is up against a joint bid from Canada, Mexico and the United States to host the World Cup

Morocco has launched its campaign to host the 2026 World Cup in Casablanca.

The North African nation, making its fifth bid to host the finals, faces competition from a joint bid proposed by Canada, Mexico and the USA.

“Morocco 2026 will showcase the best of football, at the heart of the world,” bid chairman Moulay Hafid Elalamy said at Tuesday’s launch.

The decision on who will host the event will be made on 13 June, the eve of the 2018 World Cup in Moscow.

“We promise to stage a tournament overflowing with real passion and to celebrate the values of unity and peace,” added Elalamy.

“A World Cup in Morocco will deliver commercial success and leave a long-lasting legacy and if we win the honour of hosting we believe the winners will be football, the young people of our nation, Africa and the world.”

No details were given about the host cities, with the vote to determine the host less than five months away.

The North African nation has failed in four previous World Cup bids – in 1994, 1998, 2006 and 2010.

In 2010, the tournament was hosted by South Africa as the continent staged the World Cup for first – and so far only – time in its history.

Morocco is looking to change all that and has appointed Elalamy, a government minister, to lead the bid while former Confederation of African Football Secretary General Hicham El Amrani will be its chief executive.

Former Caf Secretary General Hicham El Amrani (right)
Former Caf Secretary General Hicham El Amrani is the CEO of Morocco’s bid

Fouzi Lekjaa, the head of Morocco’s Football Federation (FRMF), said at Tuesday’s launch: “This is an important moment as we begin to showcase our bid to Morocco, the international community and Fifa’s National Associations.

“We have assembled a committed, experienced team to bring our vision to life.”

Rachid Talbi El Alami, Morocco’s minister of youth and sports, said that the country’s infrastructure is more ready than at any time to host an expanded World Cup, with 48 teams set to play in the 2026 finals.

“Morocco has made rapid progress since 2003 – in sport, infrastructure, hotels, airports, motorways and public transport networks,” said Talbi El Alami.

 *BBC
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Africa need to be recolonized, but this time by Africans themselves.
January 24, 2018 | 1 Comments

By  Gareth Morris*

Moussa Fakir Mahamat, the President of the African Union Commission

Moussa Fakir Mahamat, the President of the African Union Commission

Unfortunately corruption and bad leadership in Africa is not just caused by greed, it’s also coming from the failure of other African leaders in the past who had good intentions and wanted to develop their country and create a prosperous life for their people but end up becoming a target of the west who would assassinate them like Patrice Lumumba.

So to keep themselves safe they avoid following those leaders and work with the west to exploit Africa. And with the failure of Zimbabwe’s economy after Mugabe tried to do the right thing, many African leaders are afraid of following him so their country can be freed from white control.

Plus with the growing influence China now have in Africa, many African leaders are now slaves to foreign power and even if they wanted to put the interest of Africans first, they can’t.

So as you can see, it has become impossible to depend on Government leaders in Africa to put their fellow Africans first so Africans can live a happy prosperous life because of the increasing influence different foreign powers have in Africa today.

This problem is not unique to Africa. Globalization has given richer countries power and control over poorer ones which make it difficult for poorer countries to develop.

So in order to stop foreign powers from exploiting Africa so that Africans can start benefiting from Africa’s resources, Africans will have to take control of their countries by taking control of their Government leaders.

Just like how people from other countries are able to take control of our Government leaders and assassinate them whenever they refuse to do what they want, we Africans are able to do the same as well to get what we want.

So in order for Africa and Black countries worldwide to strive, we need Pro Black Pan Africans to be in control of the Government, military and economy.

That can easily be accomplished by creating an organization run by Pro Black Pan Africans who’s job is to hold Government leaders responsible and punish them when they fail to do the right thing.

With such an organization, Africans and their countries would be protected from corruption, exploitation and other problems.

We also need an organization similar to the CIA and MOSSAD of Israel to protect the interest of Africa and Africans worldwide from foreign powers. Everyone have an organization to protect their interest, so why shouldn’t we as well?

*Gareth Morris and I’m a 27 year old entrepreneur from Jamaica. He identifies humself as a Pan Africanist who’s goal is to empower fellow Africans though knowledge so they can free and protect themselves for oppression. The views expressed are his

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One year on, victims of Gambian dictator demand justice
January 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Louise Hunt*

The family of murdered journalist Ebrima Manneh are still looking for answers

The family of murdered journalist Ebrima Manneh are still looking for answers

 

Ayeshah was just 14 when her father went missing in 2005, never to be seen again. He was a relative of Gambian autocrat Yahya Jammeh, but he had made the fatal mistake of telling the president “what he was doing to people was wrong,” Ayeshah told IRIN.

When her aunt tried to search for her brother, she too “disappeared”. The family learnt much later on, from listening to a dissident radio broadcast, that they had both been killed. They believe the murders were carried out on Jammeh’s command, by his assassin team known as the Jungulars.

Her father, Haruna, was Jammeh’s cousin and had been working as a farm manager on the then-president’s sprawling estate in his home village, Kanilai. “My father was more like an older brother to Jammeh. People warned him not to work for him, but he believed his own blood would not harm him,” Ayeshah said.

“I had to say my dad had travelled [many Gambians take the ‘back way’ out to Europe],” she added. “The only thing I want now is for Jammeh to face justice. I want him to stand up in court before all the people he has harmed.”

Since Jammeh was forced into exile in Equatorial Guinea a year ago, the victims of his brutal rule have been driving the demand for justice.

Ayeshah is just one of many who feels she and her family will only get a sense of closure for their ordeal when the former dictator is tried and prosecuted.

In October, an umbrella group of victims joined forces with national and international human rights organisations to form the “Jammeh2Justice” coalition, with the goal of bringing Jammeh and his accomplices to account for the human rights violations perpetrated under his 22-year regime.

Lessons learnt

The Jammeh2Justice coalition is following the lead of the successful prosecution in Senegal of the former Chadian dictator Hissène Habré for crimes against humanity in 2016.

To learn how they managed it, members of the Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations met with the Chadian victims that led that campaign.

“This meeting was so important to the Gambia victims,” said Ayeshah. “When those people came, it gave us confidence. They said ‘No matter how long and how hard you have to fight, you will get justice’.”

The April 2017 meeting was convened by human rights lawyer Reed Brody, who worked with the Chadian victims for 18 years to help bring Habré to trial.

Brody is now working with the Gambian victims on behalf of Human Rights Watch, adopting the same painstaking approach that eventually led to Habré’s conviction, albeit, he hopes, in a much shorter timeframe.

“We start from a very different place; we start with the lessons learned,” he told IRIN from his home in New York.

“One of the most important lessons is that you have to tell the victims’ stories and put them at the centre; you talk about people who were killed and tortured rather than this abstract idea of prosecuting a dictator.”

Since leaving The Gambia on 21 January last year following his electoral defeat and a military intervention by West African countries to enforce the result, Jammeh has been a guest of Equatorial Guinea’s strongman President Teodoro Obiang.

Brody hopes to generate a groundswell of international support that will put enough pressure on Obiang to give Jammeh up for extradition.

In an interview with Radio France Internationale broadcast last week, Obiang – in power for 38 years – refused to be drawn on the question of surrendering Jammeh to an African court, replying simply: “if there is a request, I will analyse it with my lawyers”.

The other prong to Brody’s work is to build up the legal case against Jammeh, to show direct responsibility for crimes. In the Habré case, the discovery of police files containing the dictator’s handwriting was key evidence.

“Victims are coming forward, as well as people who served in the security forces, both within and outside of Gambia,” said Brody. “We are getting a lot of information about what went on inside, and [about] Jammeh’s personal involvement.”

Not ready for Jammeh?

But it is widely agreed that The Gambia is not yet ready for Jammeh to be extradited at this point, as recent clashes between pro-Jammeh supporters and political activists have highlighted. Holding a trial in a neighbouring country is also an option the coalition is examining.

Amnesty International supports the coalition’s aims, but believes the Jammeh2Justice campaign should not distract from the broader work on truth-seeking and transitional justice that is needed in The Gambia.

“It is important to have accountability, but this should not just be focused on Jammeh, but also those who are suspected of committing crimes under international law,” said West Africa researcher Sabrina Mahtani.

“The forthcoming Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission will be an important opportunity to look into the underlying causes of human rights violations,” she added. “Further reform of institutions, such as the security services, is necessary for long-term change.”

The proposed 11-person truth commission will hear the cases of victims and decide on reparations. It had been timetabled by Justice Minister Aboubacar Tambadou to launch last year but is now expected to begin in a few months’ time, once commissioners have been appointed.

“Now it is about making sure the commission sits as soon as possible,” said Gaye Sowe, executive director of the Banjul-based Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa.

But Sowe, a human rights lawyer, acknowledged that the government is experiencing “very big capacity gaps” that makes it impossible to do all the transitional justice work on its own.

“This is why the interventions of the victims’ centre and the campaign to bring Jammeh to justice are extremely important,” he added.

Tracing the disappeared

At present, many victims feel left in the dark about what has happened to their loved ones, the so-called “disappeared”.

The Mannehs, for example, were only officially informed last January that their son, Ebrima Manneh, had been killed. He was a young journalist imprisoned in 2006 for a story he had written about the presidential term limit.

“We know the murder has been reported to the police headquarters and it is under investigation, and I go there to see how far, but still there is no information about him,” his sister, Adama Manneh, also a policewoman, told IRIN.

The Gambia Centre for Victims of Human Rights Violations has quickly evolved over the past year from a small support group to a larger lobbying organisation for victims’ voices to be heard.

Priscilla Ciesay, acting executive director, said victims were being encouraged to register and tell their experiences “so that they can be part of the history-making of the country”.

Fighting impunity

So far, close to 1,000 victims have registered, and the centre has documented their experiences and hopes for justice and reparations. Ciesay wants the government to see the centre as a lynchpin for the work of the truth commission.

“We have a wealth of information which could be extremely useful to the commission so that they are not starting over from scratch,” she told IRIN.

For now, it appears that the government doesn’t see the prosecution of Jammeh as a priority, but it is aware that this is the ultimate wish of the majority of victims.

“There will be so much evidence from the truth commission that it will make a mockery of every process if, after that, the government does nothing to prosecute Jammeh,” said Ciesay, adding: “The stories of the victims are so harrowing that something has to be done to address impunity.”

*IRIN

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: The legacy of Africa’s first elected female president
January 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Tamasin Ford*

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history as Africa's first elected female president

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history as Africa’s first elected female president

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history as Africa’s first elected female president, but also faced accusations of corruption and nepotism. How will she be remembered?

Mrs Sirleaf’s story is pitted with remarkable feats of defiance and courage, entangled with accusations of corruption and nepotism.

Just days before she was due to step down from 12 historic years in power, she was expelled from her own political party. Some people hold her up as their saviour; others say she’s just like all the rest.

“The best thing she did is the peace she kept for us,” said 22-year-old Jenneh Sebo, who was sitting lazily in the scorching sun drumming down on the capital Monrovia when I saw her ahead of the country’s election in October last year.

This is not an uncommon answer. Liberians went through 14 years of barbaric, drug fuelled, chaotic war, where child soldiers carried out the most unspeakable crimes. Myriad rebel groups reigned over towns and cities with terror, stripping the country of any semblance of infrastructure.

Hospitals, schools, roads and even lamp-posts were destroyed; the latter out of a belief that enemy soldiers could turn themselves into one. So to be thankful for peace is not a flippant response.

However, 15 years on from the end of the war people have long begun demanding more from their government. Jenneh, too young to remember much of the fighting, was sitting in the sun because she did not have a job and had not been in education since high school.

The same month, on a grassy field opposite President Sirleaf’s house in the more affluent Sinkor area of Monrovia, hundreds of women dressed in white danced to music blasting from massive speakers. The musicians sang “we want peace in Liberia, peace in Monrovia”, the song Ivorian reggae star Alpha Blondy wrote about their country during the war in 1992.

Many of these women launched a mass peace movement in 2003 that helped finally end war. They organised sex strikes, until their men put down their arms. They forced a meeting with President Charles Taylor, getting him to agree to go to Ghana for peace talks. Once there, they surrounded the room threatening to take off their clothes until some sort of peace deal was reached.

Women in Peacebuilding Network activists in October 2017Image copyrightAFP
Image captionFemale peace activists helped get Mrs Sirleaf elected in the past

It was these women who then rallied the country to vote for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2005.

“We don’t want no problem again,” said 73-year-old Kula Freeman, who remembers the war in all its graphic detail. “We don’t want no wahala,” her friend, 65-year-old Kwa Sheriff said, chipping in over her shoulder. Wahala is the Liberian word used to describe anything from an argument in the street to a full out war. They are both happy for the peace President Sirleaf brought to the country.

Behind them, activist Leymah Gbowee, who won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside President Sirleaf in 2011, began rallying the ladies together. She was one of the key figures who led the peace movement at the end of the war.

Ms Gbowee said Mrs Sirleaf will always be remembered for becoming the continent’s first elected female president. But for Ms Gbowee, that is all she has achieved.

“In terms of delivering a women’s agenda we really didn’t see that,” she said.

Ms Sirleaf (L) and Mr Weah (R)Image copyrightEPA
Image captionMrs Sirleaf (L) is to be replaced as president by former footballer George Weah (R)

President Sirleaf is not a warm, cosy character and she certainly didn’t focus on women during her 12 years in power. However, the Harvard-trained economist did erase nearly $5bn (£3.2bn) in debilitating foreign debt after three years of being in office, paving the way for foreign investment and boosting the annual government budget from $80m to $516m by 2011.

But Ms Gbowee expected more for women.

“She’s said she’s not a feminist, that feminism is extremism,” she exclaimed. “I say, well, if it is I’m a proud extremist.”

Under President Sirleaf’s tenure a new, tougher rape law came into force but was then amended, reducing the tough sentences and making it a bailable offence.

During her final week in office, President Sirleaf signed an executive order on domestic violence, protecting women, men and children against “physical, sexual, economical, emotional and psychological abuses”.

She is however disappointed that a key part of her proposal, the abolition of female genital mutilation (FGM) against young girls under the age of 18, was removed.

“It undermines the very essence of the law and leaves it incomplete”, Mrs Sirleaf’s spokesman said of the amendment by the Senate and House of Representatives.

Mr Weah grew up in Monrovia's Gibraltar slumImage copyrightEPA
Image captionMr Weah grew up in Monrovia’s Gibraltar slum – a reminder that much of the country remains poor

Many thought a female president would pave the way for more women in politics. Yet, not unlike the Thatcher era in the UK, Mrs Sirleaf’s departure also marks the departure of women in power. Of 19 presidential candidates there was only one woman, 40-year-old Macdella Cooper, a former girlfriend of incoming President George Weah.

“She didn’t have enough women in the house of parliament to help push bills to support women initiatives,” said Cooper.

“Economically she didn’t have enough women to approve budgets or at least create and craft budgets that will support women. So, she had her limitations.”

Despite sharing the title of Nobel Laureate, Mrs Sirleaf and Ms Gbowee haven’t spoken since Ms Gbowee said she “criticised her government for corruption and nepotism”.

An Ebola victim in MonroviaImage copyrightREUTERS
Image captionHealth officials were not being paid when the Ebola outbreak arrived in the country

Mrs Sirleaf has long come under fire for appointing three of her sons to top government posts, something she has always defended. Up to 20 members of her family have had government positions at some point. As for the charge of corruption, in 2006 Sirleaf declared corruption “public enemy number one” only to be hit with a flurry of scandals.

Civil servants routinely went unpaid; most notoriously health officials in Lofa County in the north west of the country just as Ebola crept across the border from Guinea. The devastating virus killed nearly 5,000 people, leaving the country reeling and its health system in tatters.

Despite all this, Mrs Sirleaf was a history-maker. Her presidency may have been riddled with corruption and nepotism, but she proved to the world that a woman can dismantle the patriarchal seat of power.

“One thing we can brag and boast of, she broke the glass ceiling,” said Ms Gbowee.

“That’s a huge inspiration for women.”

*Culled from BBC

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Volkswagen opens new plant in Rwanda
January 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Operations for the new Volkswagen plant in Kigali, Rwanda have started just a month after the company concluded its feasibility study. The plant is expected to meet local demand for cars in its first years of production before it starts looking at exporting to the rest of the African continent.

In December 2016, Volkswagen South Africa Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Schafer signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the then RDB Chief Executive Officer, Francis Gatare. The MoU among other things laid the foundation for the Volkswagen Kigali Plant.

Volkswagen and the government of Rwanda agreed to do a feasibility study in 2017. In December 2017, Volkswagen South Africa Group announced that it had concluded the feasibility study and was encouraged by the potential of Rwanda. From the feasibility study, Volkswagen resolved that it would entirely target the Rwandan market at least for the first years of operation. The study revealed that the Rwandan market needs 2 000 to 3 000 cars per year. However, for a start, Volkswagen will start with a production of 1 000 cars per year but will increase that figure year on year depending on the uptake and the company’s performance against imported cars.

The Volkswagen chief executive said that they were aiming to officially open their doors mid-year but were forced to do so earlier due to the impressive results of the feasibility study. He, however, stated that production would start at the scheduled date that is in June this year.

The Volkswagen Kigali Plant will be manufacturing two models. Production will mostly focus on the new ‘Think Blue’ model. The Think Blue model is a new VW model that is environmentally friendly. The Think Blue model is easy to maintain and it’s low on fuel consumption and gas emission. Volkswagen says it’s going to manufacture this new model as it aims to stay in line with the country’s environmental policies.

Volkswagen will also be manufacturing the electric version of the VW Golf model albeit in small numbers. The VW Gold model is the most popular VW model in Africa thus Volkswagen wants to cater for the needs of those who prefer the more established model.

Schafer says either Rwandans can purchase the cars or they may make use of the company’s lease program.

Volkswagen says they are committed to development in Rwanda hence with the new plant; they will help by creating employment opportunities for locals and making Rwanda a pioneer in technology and innovation. Volkswagen says it has already engaged with some Germany companies as it seeks to create a local technical academy to ease the transfer of skills and technology.

As Volkswagen initial capital injection exceeds $50 million, the company stands a chance to get a tax holiday for a seven-year period. The incentive is reserved for investments in the ICT, Health, Tourism, Energy, and Manufacturing sectors.

The Volkswagen Kigali Plant is the fourth Volkswagen Plant on the continent after South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya.

The Volkswagen Kigali Plant becomes the second largest investment in the country after American firm Symbion Energy signed a $370 million deal with the Rwandan government for the methane-generated power plant in Lake Kivu.

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Ethiopian airlines to start flights to Kisangani and Mbuji Mayi in the DRC
January 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Ethiopian Airlines, the largest Aviation Group in Africa and SKYTRAX certified four star global airline, will launch new flights to Kisangani and Mbuji Mayi in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) from March, 2018.

The DRC, the largest country in Francophone Africa, is among the most resource-rich countries on the planet with an abundance of gold, tantalum, tungsten, and tin, all minerals used in electronics such as cell phones and laptops.

Ethiopian airlines Group CEO, Mr. Tewolde GebreMariam, said, “We are delighted to include Mbuji-Mayi and Kisangani to our ever extending global and African network. This will also increase our gateways in the Democratic Republic of Congo to five which includes Kinshasa,Goma and Lubumbashi. Our flights to Mbuji-Mayi and Kisangani will enable travellers from and to these two economically important cities to enjoy convenient and seamless connectivity to our global network of over 100 international destinations stretching across 5 continents in Europe, the Americas, Asia and the Middle East.

We thank the Government of the Democratic Republic of Congo for the support extended to us for the launch of the new flights.”Ethiopian is expanding its global network with a plan to 10 new destinations in just six months of the 2018 calendar year.

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Weah scores a goal as festivities continue ahead of his inauguration
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jonathan Paye-Layleh*

Football legend George Weah will be inaugurated as Liberia's new President on Monday in Monrovia

Football legend George Weah will be inaugurated as Liberia’s new President on Monday in Monrovia

George Weah scored a first-half goal to lead his Weah All Stars side to a 2-1 victory over a Liberian Army team as the festivities ahead of his inauguration as Liberia’s new president continued in Monrovia.

The match was part of a programme of events to commemorate the swearing-in ceremony on Monday for the 51-year-old former football star, who was voted in as Liberia’s new president in December.

“The essence of the game is to win,” a joyous Weah told BBC Sport after the exhibition game.

Weah was dressed in his traditional national number 14 jersey, reminding spectators of his legendary football career when he wore the number on his Liberia shirt, scoring some memorable goals for the Lone Stars.

“It is my number, a number assigned to me by the nation, so I wear it,” he said.

Amidst tight security and under a burning sun, hundreds of people made their way into the military barrack to see the former Fifa World Player of the Year.

Weah
George Weah scored a goal for his Weah All Stars side as they beat the Liberian Army team 2-1

With the army marching band playing from the sidelines, Weah thrilled the crowd as he dribbled past opponents.

His goal came in the first-half when his free-kick was deflected into the left corner of the net.

“We come to win, we play to win, it is not a dream,” he said, walking side-by-side with the chief of army, Mayor General Daniel Ziankahn.

“The army can run; they are stronger than us, but we push the ball around better and we are more organised.

“So we capitalised on the weaknesses of the army; it is a tactical game and tactically we were better than them,” Weah added.

The Weah All Star team is made up of George Weah’s former national teammates who supported his presidential bid.

One of them – former Arsenal striker Christopher Wreh – who also played for George Weah’s first European club, AS Monaco, was involved.

“It is a special day because after today it will be difficult to meet him,” Wreh told BBC Sport.

“Today I am proud that all of us rallied around him to become president,” he said.

 *BBC
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The Murder of Lumumba
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

Dr. G.K. Busch

Photo: Lumumba raises his arms, injured by shackles, after his release from prison

Photo: Lumumba raises his arms, injured by shackles, after his release from prison

Fifty-four years ago today the leading nationalist figure of the Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) Patrice Emery Lumumba was murdered by the Belgians.

The parallels with today’s Africa are so stark that perhaps a fuller description is necessary.

The Belgians, who had just recently been compelled to allow its colony to reach independence in June 1960, continued to demand a strong and decisive role in Congolese affairs despite this independence; or, if that was not possible, to separate the mineral-rich region of Katanga from the rest of the Congo to remain under Belgian control through its puppet Moise Tshombe.

The main protagonist in the struggle for independence was Patrice Lumumba, who became head of the MNC (Mouvement National Congolais) and then, at independence, the first Prime Minister of the new state. The Belgian point of view was made clear when Lumumba was not invited to participate in the Independence celebrations. The Belgians insisted on keeping many of its colonial officers in charge of key positions in the Congolese administration. Most of the officers in the Army were still Belgians after independence. At independence there were only eight African college graduates in the whole of the Congo. It was a General Jannsens who announced to the troops that their pay would not increase after independence and that they would remain under Belgian officers. The army revolted and civil disorder spread across the land, fostered and armed by the Belgians. This disorder had the required effect and on the 11th of July 1960 Katanga seceded from the Congo. The Belgians and their giant mining complex, Union Miniere, adopted Tshombe as their own.

The United Nations sent its first peacekeeping mission to Africa; to the Congo, but it was ineffectual. It refused to intervene in the Katanga secession so Lumumba was powerless to seek the re-unification of the province. Unable to garner Western or UN support he turned to the Soviet Union to send weapons, airplanes, trucks and medicines to the Congolese forces opposing Katanga. This triggered off a major Cold War crisis. The US and the UK joined with Belgium to support Katangan secession and the ouster of Lumumba.

In a series of documentaries by the BBC in London in 2000 the records of their intervention were exposed. Ludo de Witte uncovered documents in the Belgian archives showing that Moise Tshombe, who led the secession, acted on orders from the Belgian government, which has always claimed that it only sent troops into Katanga to protect Belgian lives and property. De Witte’s researches have shown that the Belgians plotted to dismember the Congo. US Documents released August 2000 revealed that President Eisenhower directly ordered the CIA to assassinate Lumumba. Minutes of an August 1960 National Security Council meeting confirm that Eisenhower told CIA chief Allen Dulles to “eliminate” Lumumba. The official note taker, Robert H. Johnson, had told the Senate Intelligence Committee this in 1975, but no documentary evidence was previously available to back up his statement. A British Foreign Office document from September 1960 notes the opinion of a top ranking official, who later became the head of MI5, that, “I see only two possible solutions to the [Lumumba] problem. The first is the simple one of ensuring [his] removal from the scene by killing him.”

Their first step was to promote a military coup in the Congo. On 14 September 1960 Col. Joseph Desiree Mobuto, with the active assistance of the US and the UN, overthrew the Kasavubu-Lumumba government and took power. Lumumba was placed under house arrest but escaped to Stanleyville. Mobutu’s troops captured him on 1 December 1960 and Lumumba was flown back to Leopoldville (now Kinshasa) where he was placed in prison. The Russians raised the issue in the Security Council and asked for the immediate release of Lumumba, the jailing of Mobutu and the evacuation of the Belgians from the Congo. The UN refused as it said this would cause severe problems in the Congo.

Their problem was resolved with the forced flight of Lumumba, in chains to Elizabethville (Lubumbashi) on 17 January 1961. According to the documentaries, he was conducted under arrest to Brouwez House and held there bound and gagged. Later that night, Lumumba was driven to an isolated spot where three firing squads had been assembled. According to David Akerman, Ludo de Witte and Kris Hollington, the firing squads were commanded by a Belgian, Captain Julien Gat, and another Belgian, Police Commissioner Verscheure, had overall command of the execution site. Lumumba was killed that night.

Patrice Lumumba unwittingly wrote his own epitaph in a letter to his wife, Pauline, from his cell in December 1960. Perhaps it should be compulsory reading in all African schools.

“My dear companion,

I write you these words without knowing if they will reach you, when they will reach you, or if I will still be living when you read them. All during the length of my fight for the independence of my country, I have never doubted for a single instant the final triumph of the sacred cause to which my companions and myself have consecrated our lives. But what we wish for our country, its right to an honourable life, to a spotless dignity, to an independence without restrictions, Belgian colonialism and its Western allies-who have found direct and indirect support, deliberate and not deliberate among certain high officials of the United Nations, this organization in which we placed all our confidence when we called for their assistance-have not wished it. They have corrupted certain of our fellow countrymen; they have contributed to distorting the truth and to bring our independence into dishonour.

What else could I say? Dead or alive, free or in prison by order of the imperialists, it is not I who counts. It is the Congo; it is our poor people for whom independence has been transformed into a cage from whose confines the outside world looks on us, sometimes with kindly sympathy, but at other times with joy and pleasure. But my faith will remain unshakeable. I know and I feel in my heart that sooner or later my people will get rid of our internal and external enemies, that they will rise up like a single person to say no to a degrading and shameful colonialism and to reassume their dignity under a pure sun.

We are not alone. Africa, Asia, and free and liberated people from every corner of the world will always be found at the side of the Congolese. They will not abandon the light until the day comes when there are no more colonizers and their mercenaries in our country. To my children whom I leave and whom perhaps I will see no more, I wish that they be told that the future of the Congo is beautiful and that it expects for each Congolese, to accomplish the sacred task of reconstruction of our independence and our sovereignty; for without dignity there is no liberty, without justice there is no dignity, and without independence there are no free men.

No brutality, mistreatment, or torture has ever forced me to ask for grace, for I prefer to die with my head high, my faith steadfast, and my confidence profound in the destiny of my country, rather than to live in submission and scorn of sacred principles. History will one day have its say, but it will not be the history that Brussels, Paris, Washington or the United Nations will teach, but that which they will teach in the countries emancipated from colonialism and its puppets. Africa will write its own history, and it will be, to the north and to the south of the Sahara, a history of glory and dignity.

Do not weep for me, my dear companion. I know that my country, which suffers so much, will know how to defend its independence and its liberty.

Long live the Congo! Long live Africa!”

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African energy stakeholders to meet leading international businesses in Washington, D.C. to discuss investment partnerships
January 20, 2018 | 0 Comments
U.S. Governmental agencies and leading businesses unite to explore partnerships that will provide predictability and security in the development phase of energy projects in Africa
Networking evening at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit in March 2017

Networking evening at the 3rd Powering Africa: Summit in March 2017

LONDON, United Kingdom, January 18, 2018/ — The Powering Africa: Summit (www.PoweringAfrica-Summit.com) will return for a fourth year to the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Washington D.C. from 28 February to 2nd March 2018 to discuss opportunities to develop and invest in power projects on the African continent.

US intergovernmental agencies confirmed for the summit including OPIC, Power Africa and USAID are increasing their objectives for the African continent as well as their involvement in the development of projects from a more varied mix of technologies.

In numerous conversations with EnergyNet (www.EnergyNet.com), Department of State and Department of Energy communicated a clear determination to play a greater role in Africa, promoting commercial partnerships and progressing deals at an increased pace which will be measured to help navigate bottlenecks more effectively.

Whilst the market has hesitated in some key economies, the likes of Uganda, Cote D’Ivoire, Senegal, Zambia and Ghana are booming with projects including the multibillion dollar Uganda-Tanzania Oil Pipeline, which has investors buzzing.

Simon Gosling, Managing Director of EnergyNet comments:

“South Africa has struggled over the last 24 months to finalise the renewable IPPs, these projects are now progressing because of increased localisation and BPE engagement which will allow these PPAs to finally be signed in the coming weeks. This will trigger the Gas IPP Programme which will be a huge opportunity for foreign investors and gas providers as well as being transformative for the development of the country.”

“On a recent trip to South Africa, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry noted how energy increases security for the young. An obvious corollary is how increased security increases confidence which enables better learning, stronger ideas and employment, and in the end a more ready and able consumer – which will really turn the lights on across the continent.”

From these perspectives, Africa should be emboldened to negotiate a greater volume of deals and at the 4th Powering Africa Summit a significant number of these conversations will commence.

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