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Cameroon: Citizens urged to be involved in peace building process
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Participants at at the end of the public talk on proposing solutions to the numerous problems in Cameroon

Participants at at the end of the public talk on proposing solutions to the numerous problems in Cameroon

Citizens in Cameroon has been urged to be involved in the peace building exercise and should also learn to be proactive as a means to bringing peace in the country. According to participants, the government cannot do everything on its own. These amongst others were some solutions proposed by participants during a public dialogue which took place September 12, 2019, at Mbouoh Star Palace Hotel in Dschang under the theme “The quest for citizen participation in promoting peace in Cameroon.”

The event was in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, whose mission is to provide independent, in-depth and insightful policy recommendations that advance the Cameroonian economy, and the economies of other sub-Saharan African countries, in partnership with NEDemocracy

Participants say the release of political prisoners, and all those arrested will help solve the Anglophone crisis

Participants say the release of political prisoners, and all those arrested will help solve the Anglophone crisis

During the discussions, three prominent issues were x-rayed by participants such as: the ongoing Anglophone crisis in the South West and North West Regions, the Boko Haram insurgencies in the North, and the refugee crisis in the East Regions.

Some 80 participants from the public, private and civil society organizations, and others were present to propose solutions through which Cameroon can accelerate its progress towards the resolutions of the current conflicts it is presently facing.

On the Anglophone crisis, participants indicated that a national inclusive dialogue will go a long way in resolving the present upheavals in the Regions. This call comes at a time when the Head of State has equally acknowledged the Anglophone crisis. In his unprecedented State of the Nation address, the President said there will be a national dialogue at the end of this month which will involve all stakeholders. “The dialogue to be presided over by the prime minister will bring together all Cameroonians, especially traditional rulers, lawmakers, the clergy and all elected officials,” Biya said.

To one participant, “We have to solve the problem by tackling it from the root. There has to be the respect for the fundamental rights of individuals especially those of the Anglophones. They are not respected at all.” “This issue also boils down to the respect of cultural differences-Cameroon being French and English. These two languages and cultures are very different from one another and no one should be seen as superior and forced down on people.”

Another major solution proposed to solve the Anglophone crisis is for the release of political prisoners, and the release of all those arrested in connection to the crisis. This has been one of the calls from the opposition parties and human rights organizations both internally and externally. Many had equally hoped that prior to the head of State’s address all those in prison would be released-something which was not done by the Head of State.

Participants say the elimination of bad governance and corruption will contribute in solving the numerous problems in Cameroon. It is not new in Cameroon that corruption has become pervasive and has affected all sectors of the government, and even the private sector.

Corruption in Cameroon is caused by various issues such as personal interest, favoritism, ineffective system of accountability and others. According to the 2018 Corruption Perception Index reported by Transparency International, Cameroon is the 152 least corrupt nation out of the 175 countries.

With respect to the Boko Haram crisis in the North, and the refugee crisis in the East of Cameroon, participants suggest that before the intervention of the government, citizens should regroup themselves to protect their territories. For years now, the Cameroon military has been battling embers of the Boko Haram sect in the North with casualties in the numbers.

In May 2014, Cameroon declared war on Boko Haram at the Paris Summit. Since then, Boko Haram has intensified its activities in the Far North Region of the country, making Cameroon the second most targeted country, regarding attacks by the sect. From July 2015 to March 2016, Boko Haram carried out more than 50 suicide attacks in Cameroon, killing more than 230 people while wounding 500 others.

 

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Deloitte Africa honoured for efforts towards increasing representation of women
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

Johannesburg, 06 September 2019 – Deloitte Africa has been honoured with second place in both the Empowerment of Women in the Community and the Women on Boards categories at this year’s Gender Mainstreaming Awards, held at Gallagher Estate, in Johannesburg, last night.

Managed by Business Engage, these awards aim to encourage private sector buy-in to achieving more meaningful representation of women in the mainstream of business and to serve as a springboard for further achievement for companies that are still starting out on their gender diversity journey.

Deloitte Africa was this year also awarded two further accolades in the individual categories, with the chairman of Deloitte Africa, Trevor Brown, winning the Trailblazer award in the Inclusive Leadership category; and the leader of Diversity and Inclusion for the company’s Africa operations, Eshana Manichand, being named the second place finalist for the Positive Role Model: Management award.

Deloitte Africa was also selected as a finalist for the Mainstreaming Gender and Disability award.

Justine Mazzocco – Managing Director of Talent and Transformation, Deloitte Africa –

says the company is immensely proud to be recognised for its efforts to increase the representation and retention of women on their staff.

“We are working hard to ensure that our talent pool is diverse and reflects the make-up of our society. Operating a diverse and inclusive organisation is also fundamental in this area and we seek to leverage our differences as a strength that makes our organisation better,” Mazzocco says, “Some of the initiatives we’ve implemented include focusing on creating an environment that enables women to achieve their ambitions and embraces generational diversity. To date, we have a record 33% female representation on the Africa board, and a 31% women ownership as of 1 June this year, which further highlights our commitment to elevating women at strategic levels”.

On winning the award for Inclusive Leadership, Brown says, he has always had a natural affiliation towards gender equality, even before it became a corporate imperative.

“Mutual respect and the belief that all people should be treated with dignity must underpin organisational culture,” he says, “The tone at the top, when it comes to gender equality, drives the ethos throughout the organisation. Being intentional about diversity and driving gender equality is of utmost importance to Deloitte, and especially key to me in my leadership role.”

Manichand said of her achievement, “With our global ALL IN strategy we have reinforced our commitment to maintaining an organisation where everyone has an equal opportunity to grow, develop, and succeed; to be their truest selves, both professionally and personally.

She says Deloitte Africa aims to increase the representation and retention of under-represented groups across all levels of the organisation, with a particular focus on women.

“Investing our time, effort and energy in people and witnessing their moment of success is extremely rewarding and purposeful,” she says.

Deloitte refers to one or more of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”), its network of member firms, and their related entities. DTTL (also referred to as “Deloitte Global”) and each of its member firms are legally separate and independent entities. DTTL does not provide services to clients. Please see www.deloitte.com/about to learn more about our global network of member firms.

Deloitte provides audit & assurance, consulting, financial advisory, risk advisory, tax and related services to public and private clients spanning multiple industries. Deloitte serves four out of five Fortune Global 500® companies through a globally connected network of member firms in more than 150 countries and territories bringing world-class capabilities, insights and service to address clients’ most complex business challenges. To learn more about how Deloitte’s approximately 264,000 professionals make an impact that matters, please connect with us on FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter.

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Banishing blinding trachoma in Egypt
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

Antibiotics to treat the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness have been delivered to nearly 300,000 people in Egypt.  It was the first mass drug administration (MDA) of its kind in the country for trachoma and is crucial in preventing children and adults from going needlessly blind.  It was delivered by the ministry of health and district level governates, with other organisations such as Sightsavers and other NGOs playing a vital role in distribution and facilitating its success.

Trachoma is an infectious and painful condition, which traps millions of people in a cycle of poverty because they are often unable to work. Over 1.7 million people in Egypt are at risk of trachoma, and a further 11 million live in areas where the disease is endemic, according to surveys taken in 2015.

To tackle the disease, community programmes have raised awareness and understanding of trachoma and how to prevent it, but until now no drugs had been mass distributed.

Egypt has a successful track-record in treating other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It was the first country in the Eastern Mediterranean to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (aka elephantiasis) and has made inroads to eliminating Schistosomiasis (snail fever). It is hoped this experience will help the country eliminate trachoma as a public health problem.

Philip Downs, Sightsavers’ Technical Director for NTDs said:

“This is a real milestone for public health in Egypt. Blinding trachoma has been causing suffering in Egypt since the age of the Pharaohs – yet could very soon be banished to the history books if it is made a priority.”

“This is the first time there has been such a large-scale distribution of antibiotics in the country. The Egyptian government, regional governments and other partners, have done a fantastic job to make this happen and proved that collaboration is key to overcoming challenges.

“But it’s important to remember that this is just the first step – more work is needed before Egypt follows in the footsteps of other countries and eliminates trachoma.”

The first trachoma MDA in Egypt happened in Matay, in the Menia region, at the end of July, where nearly 10 per cent of children aged one to nine had symptoms of the disease. Over the course of seven days health workers distributed doses of the antibiotic Zithromax®, donated by Pfizer, to 288,365 people aged six months and up.  Children under seven received their dose in the form of syrup. Teams issued medical advice as well as distributed the antibiotics, and included a nurse and a recorder. The teams went house to house in 24 villages and three suburban areas, travelling across difficult terrain, to villages nestled into the base of mountains, and even visited a Matay prison, where the director of health personally took a dose of the antibiotic in front of prisoners to encourage acceptance.

The 468 health workers also prepared communities for the drug distribution and shared information about trachoma through local media, social media, community leaders, policy makers, faith leaders, and other community organisations.

Dr Ahmed Mousa, Chairman of Nourseen, on the frontline of delivering the programme, said this community engagement was key to the success of the programme as it meant people knew what to expect and why it was important. He added: “The community was very receptive to receiving the drugs and the distribution went smoothly. Health education helps reduce a certain amount, but you need the drug to treat a big slice of the community all at once.”

The treatment programme was delivered by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and district level governates, and was the result of a global collaboration with international organisations including Sightsavers, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nourseen foundation, KCCO and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). Local government and NGOs played a vital role in distribution and facilitating the success of the treatment programme.

For more information about the global drive to eliminate trachoma please visit https://www.sightsavers.org/protecting-sight/ntds/towards-trachoma-elimination/

Ends

For images and/or more information please call 01444 446739 or email Katya Mira at kmira@sightsavers.org

Notes to Editors

  • Funders of the MDA in Egypt are the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population and the Menia governorates in the Matay district, with Zithromax® provided by Pfizer and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). The project was made possible through a partnership with Sightsavers, the World Health Organisation, Nourseen Charity Foundation for Community Ophthalmology, Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) and ITI.
  • If momentum continues, trachoma could be just years away from elimination. In 2012 Oman became the first country WHO validated as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, followed by Morocco in 2016, then Mexico, Cambodia and Laos in 2017, and most recently Ghana, Iran and Nepal in 2018. China, Togo, The Gambia and Myanmar are also believed to be on the cusp of elimination.

About Sightsavers

Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities. It is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) www.sightsavers.org

Sightsavers holds Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status, making us one of the only international non-governmental organisations to hold this status in the UK. We conduct high quality research to address global gaps in knowledge and put research findings into practice by feeding them back into the design of our programmes.

There are 36 million blind people in the world; 75% of all blindness can be prevented or cured.

In the six decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:

  • Supported over 1.1 BILLION treatments for neglected tropical diseases
  • Carried out over 10.2 million operations to restore sight
  • Trained more than 795,427 primary eye care workers
  • Carried out rehabilitation training for 225,954 blind or low vision beneficiaries
  • Supported 62,908 blind or low vision children to gain a school education

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Nigeria:Enyo Retail Promotes Healthy Living for Its Customers
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

… Offers NULI at service stations

 

Lagos, Nigeria – In line with the brand commitment in enhancing customer experience, ENYO Retail and Supply has partnered with NULI, Nigeria’s leading farm-to-table food chain, to enhance customer experience by providing Nuli’s fast-casual healthy food and drink café.

Commenting on the initiative, Abayomi Awobokun, the Chief Executive Officer, Enyo Retail and Supply said, “We are excited to announce our new feature, incorporating NULI stands at select Enyo stations. At Enyo, we are extremely committed to the health and overall wellbeing of our customers and we are constantly seeking out innovative mediums that will enable our customers live their best lives. As a customer-focused business, it is also important for us to provide channels that are meaningful to people’s needs, passions and lifestyle, hence this strategic provision of NULI products.”

By providing these products, including all-natural juices, smoothies and a variety of freshly-made hot meals,  Enyo is not only encouraging wholesome lifestyle but also promoting local businesses. With more customers dealing with Enyo and in turn patronizing NULI, the technology driven brand hopes to foster the importance of well-being in the country. This will empower individuals to have access to cleaner meal alternatives at an affordable price and encourage a healthier and happier generation.

Also speaking on the alliance, Ada Osakwe, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, NULI said, “At Nuli, having the right associations really matter to us. ENYO’s Leadership team convinced us of their bold vision to transform the lifestyle of Nigerians, and we knew they were the best partners to work with. As a proudly Nigerian company, serving only locally-grown food, working with Enyo, another world-class Nigerian firm, was essential.”

With this exemplary initiative, Enyo has once again positioned itself as the front – runner in the downstream oil industry by being the first fuel retailing company in Nigeria to feature a farm-to-table wellness café at its service station.

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Sierra Leone: Energicity Corporation launches its first Electrification Project in Sierra Leone
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Energicity Corporation, operating under the name Power Leone, has launched its first electrification project in Petifu Junction, Port Loko District, Northern Sierra Leone, to provide 24-hour electricity to 100,000 people and businesses by the end of 2020.

According to the press statement from the company, Power Leone will launch 31 more minigrids over the next 2 years thus stating that by year end of 2020, Power Leone will have completed deployment of all 31 projects and will be providing 1.5MW of solar powered electricity to over 100,000 people in the Moyamba, Port Loko and Kambia districts in which the company is already providing free electricity to Community Health Centers across 23 communities.

‘’Power Leone’s service in Sierra Leone is under a contract signed with the Ministry of Energy in January 2019. This contract is the culmination of the ambitious Rural Renewable Energy Project (RREP) supported by grant funding from the UK Department for International Development and implemented by United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS). Upon completion of the project, RREP with a total of 90 minigrids across the Sierra Leone will be one of the largest off-grid distributed minigrid projects in Africa,’’the release stated.

The release further stated that Petifu Junction is the first of 14 surrounding villages under the Lokomasama Chiefdom to receive electricity since its formation in 1908 adding that Petifu Junction is a village of 2000 people who are primarily farmers of rice and palm oil, in addition to residential users, small holder farmers, 2 schools and a community health Center, and  home to the Love Bridges Hospital a charitable hospital performing surgeries ranging from appendectomies to complex laparotomy.

For most people living in the Northern part of Sierra Leone, Love Bridges Hospital, serves as the last resort for all medical complications.

Alfred Young, General Manager of Love Bridges pointed out numerous challenges the hospital is facing due to lack of electricity. “Each time we have to maintenance our gensets, we have to close down operation and send some patients to other nearby health Centers,” he said, adding that having constant electricity supply will help them to expand their services.

According to Chief Obai Fath, section chief for Petifu Junction, the lack of electricity has derailed economic growth in the village, increased suffering and forcing most of the young people to abandon the community to seek sustainable futures elsewhere. Women and children are the most affected by the lack of electricity. “Our women travel to distant places to buy ice-block for them to carry out their local businesses, he said. “Despite the improvements in technology, our community continue to be in a deplorable state with high rates of health complications, crimes and profound hardships, he continued. Having electricity will improve all aspects of our lives”.

‘’There are over 600 million people in Sub Saharan Africa living in communities like Petifu Junction. Minigrids are the lowest cost solution to provide electricity for at least 100 million of them. With electricity provided by minigrids, people can have electricity to power health care, including ultrasounds and vaccine refrigerators, power agriculture – including irrigation, agro-processing and cold storage, and to power economic development,’’ the release added.

Nicole Poindexter CEO of Energicity Corp and Power Leone reiterated the company’s commitment in providing electricity. “We at Power Leone are pleased to be able to bring affordable, reliable electricity to tens of thousands of people in rural Sierra Leone. From returning light to Bauya to providing reliable power for surgeries in Kambia District, to providing electricity and ice making to fishermen to enable fishermen to double their incomes in Port Loko, we are certain that the power we bring will transform the lives of Sierra Leoneans today and for generations to come.”

Energicity Corp is a developer and operator of off grid minigrid serving rural communities with subsidiaries in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria operating under the names Black Star Energy Ltd, Power Leone, Atanya Solar respectively. Energicity provides affordable, reliable electricity that is scalable to every household and commercial need. Energicity was a 2018 participant in the Ghana Climate Innovation Center, and one of the winners of the EDF Pulse Africa Prize in 2018.

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Right Group commends President Bio for showing leadership over ACC saga
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

File Pic.President Julius Maada Bio has today declared his assets in June 2018 before the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Francis Ben-Kaifala, in line with Section 119 (1) of the ACC Act of 2008

File Pic.President Julius Maada Bio has today declared his assets in June 2018 before the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Francis Ben-Kaifala, in line with Section 119 (1) of the ACC Act of 2008

One of the leading Rights groups operating in the country Christian Legal Centre, popularly known as LEGAL LINK has in an open letter dated 11th September and addressed to the President Julius Maada Bio commended him for showing leadership over the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Saga.

According to the letter, LEGAL LINK said it gives them the greatest joy and delight to be amongst the first of Civil Society Organisations to openly and formally congratulate the President over his exemplary display of leadership regarding the open apology given for the inhumane and degrading treatment of suspects by the ACC.

‘’In the midst of the widespread dissent, outcry, hullabaloo, hustle and bustle and claims and counter claims lashed out by the public and a good number of rights organisations, your swift intervention and timely acknowledgement of the mistake by the Commission has not only succeeded in dissipating the tensions but has further set you apart as a leader with a deep sense of cosmic responsibility and moral rectitude,’’the letter stated.

LEGAL LINK said,  as a civil society organization that defends the rights of vulnerable groups in society, they  believe their  role should not just be limited to holding the state accountable for its excesses, inaction and omissions but also to give compliments and commendations when good initiatives and actions are taken out by state authorities that contribute to social cohesion, nation building and development.

‘’We therefore make bold to say that we at LEGAL LINK are proud of your excellency’s intervention as chief defender of human rights in this matter and would like you to know how much this meant to us. Also, your open apology has further engendered dynamism within us and revitalised and energised our spirits to continue to be the voice of conscience for the nation and demand respect for the fundamental human rights of the people as enshrined under our noble constitution,’’the letter reads.

The Right group said, it is beyond dispute that the fight against corruption under President Bio’s leadership and that of Francis Ben Kaifala has been exceptional stating that Ben Kaifalah’s passion and commitment to the fight has indeed been forthright and exemplary thus extending Kudos to him and the ACC team.

‘’But as you have rightly pointed out, on this singular occasion, the ACC CZAR, in his quest to vigorously address corruption in the country, threw away both the BATH WATER AND THE BABY. It is for good reasons why the UN adopted a framework known as the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). This was to principally ensure that states address corruption from a human rights-based approach’’

It said, the African Union has also embraced this thinking when it passed a Protocol on the Prevention and Combating of Corruption for its African member states adding that Sierra Leone is a signatory to the above legal frameworks which  put obligations therefore on the state and by extension the ACC to ensure that its policies and strategies in the fight against corruption adopts a human rights based approach.

The letter argued that it is clear from the recent act of the ACC against its suspects that perhaps a human rights-based approach has been lacking in its strategy to fighting corruption in Sierra Leone thus stating that their incessant refusal of the granting bail to suspects in many occasions further corroborates the above assertion in fundamental terms.

‘’But notwithstanding the above however, we at LEGAL LINK have pledged to give our legal expertise free of charge to help review the National Anti- Corruption Strategy and other internal policies at the ACC to ensure that they are in tandem with the human rights-based approach as expressed by UNCAC and the African Union Corruption framework,’’

It reiterated that they have pledged to doing this because they believe in the good work of the ACC and its place and relevance in terms of ensuring transparency and accountability in post conflict Sierra Leone.

‘’Certainly, in our candid view, the mistake done by them in recent times is forgivable as it was occasioned out of good faith as the Commission strive towards eradicating corruption in Sierra Leone. But looking beyond the extra-judicial act of the ACC, we want to draw your Excellency’s attention to a couple of other unfortunate developments that have happened in the country which in our judgment might have the proclivity to undermine the body politic of the nation if not urgently addressed by you’’

They urged the President to look at NEC’s cancellation of the entire Parliamentary re- run elections in constituency 110, the petition cases filed by opposition members and civil society organizations including the recent alleged assault of two female journalists during the Sierra Leone – Liberia football match by guards in the office of the president.

The Human Right group therefore appeal that His Excellency looks into the above issues raised in this letter and take a firm stand against state institutions and officials that disrespects the rule of law, constitution and fundamental human rights of the people of Sierra Leone.

‘’And certainly, it would be an easy work over and perhaps an overwhelming endorsement by the populace if it can be shown clearly by you that you were at no point in time complicit in holding to account officials and institutions within your government that violate fundamental human rights and undermine the body politic of the nation. We wish you all the best in the remaining years of your tenure and once again thank you very much for your leadership over the Anti-Corruption Commission saga,’’the letter ended.

 

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Reaching global financial inclusion by 2020 is almost impossible
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ferdinand Maniraguha

Dr Alfred Hannig, Executive Director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI)

Dr Alfred Hannig, Executive Director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI)

International organizations  have that admitted reaching hundred percent financial inclusion by 2020 is not possible though much has been done since that vision has been set.

At the 2015 World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, they adopted measurable commitments to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020 and help promote financial inclusion.

In 2011, 2.5 billion people were unbanked according to World Bank. That number reduced to 1.7 billion by 2017.

Dr Alfred Hannig, executive director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) says that such objective is unlikely to be achieved  on time.

He was speaking Tuesday at a press conference in Kigali, before a two day AFI Global policy forum 2019 program which kicked off this Thursday.

“I believe that this objectives have been quite optimistic , the timeline was very short and from our own experience, we can say that if you talk  about hundred percent inclusion, we need to recognize that this take time”, he said

However, Hannig praised the decision of having set such vision, because it helped to put much efforts into bridging the gap between banked people and unbanked.

“From our point of view, the time that has been given it’s a little bit too short  to achieve. On the other hand, the 2020 objective was also important looking to access to finance. The question is how can we achieve it in a very short time.”

He stressed that global financial inclusion may take up to 2030 to be achieved.

During the opening of  2019 AFI Global policy forum, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente urged countries to shift their focus on digital finance by bringing youth on the run.

He said that  in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 60% of the population fall below age of 25, most of them are less likely to have a bank account compared to adults.

Bringing youth on board, Dr Ngirente said that financial institutions have to use technology which attract them.

“In this regard, financial literacy could be the starting point in this process since many of the youth have a keen interest in digital channel,  digital financial services accessed  and delivered through their mobile phones, could be the solution to banking them” said Ngirente.

Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente urged countries to shift their focus on digital finance by bringing youth on the run.

Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente urged countries to shift their focus on digital finance by bringing youth on the run.

One of the  problems that still hinders financial inclusion,  is a big number of women who are unbanked, because 56% of the unbanked population are women.

Rwanda Central Bank Governor, John Rwangombwa warned that the  SDG 5 will not be achieved if women are excluded financially.

SDG5 on Gender and Equality, aims at bringing to an end all forms of discrimination against women and girls.

“These numbers imply that strong measures must be taken to create a conducive environment, for women to participate and benefit from all development opportunities” he said before adding that “Having access to quality and affordable financial products and services is a foundation to the efforts to promote gender equality.”

AFI says that since 2011 there is a 9 % gender gap in  financial inclusion globally that needs to be bridged.

 

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Withdrawal of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame from the World Economic Forum in South Africa Last Week was an Honorable Act for Africa
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By James N. Kariuki

Rwandan President Paul Kagame

Rwandan President Paul Kagame

On Friday last week in one of South Africa’s national newspapers, The Citizen, Ralph Mathekga, usually insightful political analyst, was reported to have rebuked Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame for declining an invitation to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town.

The issue at hand related to African reaction to the on-going xenophobic attacks on non-South African nationals in SA. In Mathekga’s view, Kagame’s response to the attacks reflected ‘weak leadership’ and lack of ‘political maturity’ in Africa. In assessing the facts realistically, such a conclusion was not only unduly harsh; it was misleading, unjustified and disingenuous.

To begin with, besides Rwanda other African states had voiced grave reservations about attending the WEF under the prevailing circumstances in SA. These included Nigeria, Malawi, the DRC, Zambia and Tanzania.  Kagame was hardly alone. More to the point, he had nothing to do with the causes, spread and execution of the xenophobic carnage and had virtually no influence over its perpetrators.  After all, South Africa is a sovereign nation.  The only avenue available to Kagame was indirect influence via the local South African authorities.

Yet, no utterances were forthcoming from the SA Government officialdom or the organizers of WEF that a plan was underway to stem or alleviate the impact of the savage and senseless attacks on innocent and defenseless fellow Africans. Obviously Kagame felt helpless and frustrated that the WEF seemed to be bent on proceeding as if nothing alarmingly critical was happening in its host country.

Mathekga’s reasoning would have been sound had it proposed that an urgent consultative meeting of African leaders be called by the SA government just before, or along the WEF, to discuss on emergency basis the crisis of the on-going Afrophobia-driven brutality. In the absence of the African Union in the WEF, the obligation to solicit such give-and-take views from other African leaders rested squarely on the shoulders of the host, President Cyril Ramaphosa.  President Kagame was certainly not in a position to summon such a sub-meeting; he was a guest, not the man-in-charge. To repeat ourselves, South Africa is a young sovereign nation and is understandably ultra-sensitive to matters touching its jurisdiction.

By all indications, a give-and-take meeting of African leaders at, or parallel to the WEF, was not forthcoming. Conceivably, President Kagame felt that it would be a betrayal to his personal conscience and the people of Rwanda for him to sit among global leaders to discuss economic issues while innocent fellow Africans around them were being decimated with impunity. Meanwhile, the global leaders would be sitting at the majestic International Convention Center in Cape Town, securely protected by state security forces, possibly oblivious to the woes of the violence outside.

Viewed from this angle, President Kagame’s conscious and deliberate choice to formally exclude himself from Cape Town’s WEF was a carefully considered act of ultimate decency, political maturity, and diplomatic savvy. It was his way of protesting how victimized ‘foreigners’ in SA were being handled virtually indifferently by the country’s officialdom and to inform the victims of Afro-phobia that, “yes, we hear you and we do care. Indeed, you matter to us.”

Such a reaction is truly understandable coming from a leader who, in all likelihood, still encounters occasional sleepless nights, haunted by memories of man’s savagery to fellow man from the ghastly Rwanda Genocide which took place twenty five years ago and senselessly wiped out ten percent of his nation’s population.

It was indeed a misplaced judgment for Mathekga, otherwise a seasoned and compelling political  analyst, to condemn President Kagame for finding it unacceptable to visualize himself sitting in an economic meeting while innocent people outside faced war conditions of life and death.

Seen in this context, President Kagame’s self-imposed ‘exclusion’ from WEF was indeed a dignified and decent diplomatic act to show that he, as a mature and committed African leader, drew the line in the sand to assert  that what was happening in SA at that juncture was far from acceptable. To see this gesture any other way than honorable, verges on blaming the victim.

*James N. Kariuki is a Kenyan Professor of International Relations (Emeritus).  He comments on public issues in various international publications.He runs the blog Global Africa

 

 

 

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Gambia to apply law against public smoking before end of 2019
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh

Minister of Health, Dr. Ahmadou Lamin Samateh

The Gambia’s health sector has announced to enforcing a law that bans smoking in public dubbed Comprehensive Tobacco Act before end of 2019.

The move according to the officials is aim at curtailing tobacco mayhem. The press conference was organized by RAID-The Gambia.

The Act was implemented in 2013 after Gambia’s ratifying the World Health Organization’s FCTC on June 5 2005 and enforced the tobacco control law in 2016.

Speaking at the press conference, Modou Nja health director said: “we have a lot of work to do, we need to fight and enemy and the enemy is tobacco and we need to ensure that we try to educate on the danger of use of tobacco.”

He warned parents who send their children’s to buying cigarette that “is illegal” and that anyone who smokes needs to smoke a distance of 100 meter (size of a football field).

“People have to understand that both pregnant and lactating women wherever they are seated they are not supposed to smoke tobacco around them,” he warned.

Momodou Gassama, an  official at World Health Organization said: “people who were dying because  of second hand smoke was somehow years ago was about 600, 000 people but current estimate as far as WHO ‘s recent estimate is concerned nearly one million people die now are due to people smoking second-hand or inhaling or expose to second-hand smoking.”

“We’ve been quoting 6 years back that nearly 6 million people were dying now it is far more than that. The conservative estimate is that almost 8 million or more people die every year of tobacco instead of that 6 million people,” he added.

He said among the measures that could help fight against the use of tobacco that it is by enforcing drastic measures on the use of tobacco, adding that WHO report indicates that tobacco use has decline drastically across the world.

 

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Gambian Rapper Killer Ace, 6 youth receive 700,000 bail bonds
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

Killa Ace

Killa Ace

A High court has  granted bail to remanded Gambian rapper Killer Ace whose real name is Ali Cham and six youth asking each of the accused to pay a sum 100, 000 dalasi with two Gambian surety and their travelling documents.

Presiding over the case, vocation judge Basiru Mahoney said: “I am here by granting the seven accused persons a bail in the sum of 100,000 dalasi each. They should tender their travelling documents to the registrar of the high court and sureties of two Gambians each.”

He said despite the case is transferred to the high court; he added that the charges are not yet read in court.

Meanwhile, the accused persons were represented lawyer Antuman Gaye, Lamin S Camara, Saliu Taal, Kombeh Gaye and Patrick Gomez while the state was represented by A. Yusuf and Muhammed Sowe.

After applying for bail for the accused, Lawyer Antuman Gaye, also applied that one Muhammed Fadia’s name was not in the new list and applied that his name to be captured in the new list.

The  youth have been in remand at mile two prison for weeks after they were arrested for allegedly taking part in July 24 protest. Their case was last week transferred to the high court by Kanifing Magistrate court after it said it cannot hear the case of the youth. Thirty youth have been released.

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We got approval to complete the $5.3bn Ibadan to Kano rail project – Amaechi
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Olumide Ajayi

Amaechi

Amaechi

Nigeria’s minister of transportation,Rotimi Amaechi, has confirmed the federal government approval of $5.3 billion for the construction of Ibadan-Kano standard gauge rail line.

Speaking at the third maritime stakeholders interactive forum in Lagos on Thursday.

The Minister said: “We got approval to complete the $5.3bn Ibadan to Kano rail project. We have also applied for funding to commence coastal rail for the Port Harcourt to Warri segment,” he said.

Amaechi further added that the minister of state in the ministry, Gbemisola Saraki, will supervise the maritime sector, while he takes charge of the railway sector.

Saying “In my first term as minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the heads of agencies. This time, that won’t be happening again,” he said.

I have instructed that the Minister of State for Transportation should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversee what is happening.”

He also said he discussed issues affecting the maritime sector with President Muhammadu Buhari, and that by next year, ”the country will have a single window in the maritime sector”.

There are two things I discussed with Mr. President that I will be focusing on in this second term as minister, and they are maritime security and the single window project,” Amaechi said.

I have assured the government that by the end of 2020, we should have the single window at our maritime sector.

On maritime security, I have told the Israeli firm HSLI that they are too slow. By now, they should have launched. I want to know the situation of things with the aspect of security on our maritime space.”

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MenEngage Africa denounces recurring attacks of non-nationals of African descent in South Africa
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
 

MenEngage Africa has said that it is of major concern that South Africa continues to be the site of persecution of fellow Africans from other parts of the continent. Cross-border long distance truck drivers transporting goods to, and through, South Africa have been under attack from locals in recent weeks. The economic capital, Johannesburg, came to a stand-still when businesses identified as belonging to non-national Africans were attacked and destroyed, resulting in damage to property, disruption of people’s lives and loss of income. The lives and livelihoods of men, women, children and entire communities who have migrated to South Africa from other African countries for various reasons continue to be in danger on a daily basis – and this needs to end now.

The organisations says that these events have sent shock waves throughout all of Africa, with the global family watching in horror as looting went on with little intervention from the security services. This recurring violence has resulted in mounting anger – and justifiably so. In a number of African countries including Nigeria, Zambia and Mozambique, nationals took to the streets to attack South African-owned businesses and trucks in retaliation to the attacks on their countrymen and women in South Africa. But this eye for an eye approach is not helpful. It should not be that violence begets violence. It is dangerous for diplomatic relations across Africa, as it could have untold implications, including for our economic development, peace and security.

“Thus, we are heartened that the African Union Commission and foreign governments have issued strong formal protests to the government of South Africa in response to these continued attacks. It is also good that the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, has announced that he was sending a special envoy to express his concerns directly to the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa. It is also encouraging that Mr Ramaphosa himself has come out to condemn this spate of violence.

The events taking place in South Africa require a co-ordinated and sustained approach by all countries and regional bodies in the region, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the East African Community (ECA),” says Hassan Sekajoolo,” chairperson of the Steering Committee of MenEngage Africa Alliance.

“This approach must consider that the attacks in South Africa have been labeled ‘xenophobia’, although they only affect people of African origin. The violence against non-nationals of African descent in South Africa gives rise to a new meaning of the word ‘xenophobia’. The word means ‘a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries’. The South African situation, however, demonstrates a dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries based on what they look like – being African,” adds Mpiwa Mangwiro, Campaigns and Advocacy Specialist for MenEngage Africa Alliance.

Locals in South Africa blame migrants from other African countries for their social and economic woes, including lack of employment, substance abuse, human trafficking, crime levels, lack of housing, and pressures on the health system. As MenEngage Africa Alliance, we realise that the concerns of locals cannot be downplayed.

If claims that non-national Africans are responsible for the proliferation of drugs and various crime syndicates and illegalities are true, the law must be brought to bear upon the perpetrators. At community level, migrants have a responsibility to adhere to the laws of their host country and law enforcers have a duty to uphold and protect the laws and regulations of their country. At national level, there are formal mechanisms between the host country and countries of origin of migrants to deal with offences committed. The truth is that crime is carried out by criminals, irrespective of country of origin. Drugs and other crimes are committed by nationals all the time. Police are enjoined to carry out their mandate in terms of applicable laws.

Furthermore, the Constitution of South Africa sets out that everyone who resides in the country has the right to access health services, irrespective of their nationality or legal status. Thus, non-nationals must be allowed to access health care, especially women and children who often rely on state resources for their health needs because of a lack of crucial economic means.

The organisation  calls  on the South African government and all African states, the African Union Commission, and all regional bodies to play their individual and collective roles to ensure that this state of affairs does not continue. Africans cannot be attacking one another when there are peaceful mechanisms to find solutions to our problems.

“As MenEngage Africa Alliance, we remain committed to support all efforts that seek to ensure unity of the continent and ensure that the ideals of the founding principles of the African Union Commission are achieved”.

 

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