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African Development Bank Rebuts World Bank President’s comments on Africa’s debt profile
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

For the record, the African Development Bank maintains a very high global standard of transparency says AFDB President Akinwumi  Adesina
For the record, the African Development Bank maintains a very high global standard of transparency says AFDB President Akinwumi Adesina

In several news reports, World Bank President David Malpass was recently quoted as saying some Multilateral Development Banks, including the African Development Bank, have a tendency to lend too quickly and in the process, add to the continent’s debt problems.

This statement is inaccurate and not fact based. It impugns the integrity of the African Development Bank, undermines our governance systems, and incorrectly insinuates that we operate under different standards from the World Bank. The very notion goes against the spirit of multilateralism and our collaborative work.

For the record, the African Development Bank maintains a very high global standard of transparency. In the 2018 Publish What You Fund report, our institution was ranked the 4th most transparent institution, globally.

The African Development Bank provides a strong governance program for our regional member countries that focuses on public financial management, better and transparent natural resources management, sustainable and transparent debt management and domestic resource mobilization. We have spearheaded the issuance of local currency financing to several countries to mitigate the impacts of foreign exchange risks, while supporting countries to improve tax collection and tax administration, and leveraging pension funds and sovereign wealth funds to direct more monies into financing development programs, especially infrastructure.

The African Development Bank’s Africa Legal Support Facility (ALSF) supports countries to negotiate terms of their royalties and taxes to international companies, and terms of their non-concessional loans to some bilateral financiers. We have been highly successful in doing so.

These are the facts:

The World Bank, with a more substantial balance sheet, has significantly larger operations in Africa than the African Development Bank. The World Bank’s operations approved for Africa in the 2018 fiscal year amounted to US $20.2 billion, compared to US $10.1 billion by the African Development Bank.

With regard to Nigeria and South Africa, the World Bank’s outstanding loans for the 2018 fiscal year to both countries stood at US $8.3 billion and US $2.4 billion, respectively. In contrast, the outstanding amounts for the African Development Bank Group to Nigeria and South Africa were US $2.1 billion and US $2.0 billion, respectively, for the same fiscal year.

With reference to the countries described as “heavily indebted,” our Bank recognizes and closely monitors the upward debt trend. However, there is no systemic risk of debt distress.

According to the 2020 African Economic Outlook, at the end of June 2019, total public debt in Nigeria amounted to $83.9 billion, 14.6% higher than the year before. That debt represented 20.1% of GDP, up from 17.5% in 2018. Of the total public debt, domestic public debt amounted to $56.7 billion while external public debt was $27.2 billion (representing 32.4% of total public debt). South Africa’s national government debt was estimated at 55.6% of GDP in 2019, up from 52.7% in 2018. South Africa raises most of its funding domestically, with external public debt accounting for only 6.3% of the country’s GDP.

Development Banks continue to play critical roles in development efforts and in the aspirations of developing countries, most especially in Africa.

Given substantial financing needs on the African continent, the development assistance of the African Development Bank, the World Bank and other development partners remain vitally important, with increasing calls for such institutions to do even more.

The lending, policy, and advisory services of these development institutions in their respective regions are often coordinated and provide substantially better value-for-money to developing nations, compared to other sources of financing. As a result of the African Development Bank’s AAA-rated status, we source funding on highly competitive terms and pass on favorable terms to our regional member countries. Combined with other measures to ensure funds are used for intended purposes, it helps regional member countries finance debt and development in the most responsible and sustainable way.

With regard to the need for better lending coordination and the maintenance of high standards of transparency, the African Development Bank coordinates lending activities, especially its public sector policy-based loans, closely with sister International Financial Institutions (notably the World Bank and the IMF). This includes reliance on the IMF and World Bank’s Debt Sustainability Analyses (DSA) to determine the composition of our financial assistance to low-income countries; and joint institutional approaches for addressing debt vulnerabilities in the African Development Fund (ADF) and International Development Association (IDA) countries.

In addition, country economists of the African Development Bank fully participate in regional and country level IMF Article 4 missions. Contrary to suggestions, these are just a few concrete examples of historic and ongoing coordination between sister Multilateral Development Banks, IFIs, and development partners. The African Development Bank is committed to the development of the African continent. It has a vested interest in closely monitoring debt drivers and trends in African countries as it supports them in their efforts to improve the lives of the people of Africa.

We are of the view that the World Bank could have explored other available platforms to discuss debt concerns among Multilateral Development Banks. The general statement by the President of the World Bank Group insinuating that the African Development Bank contributes to Africa’s debt problem and that it has lower standards of lending is simply put: misleading and inaccurate.


Citations and Sources

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Gambia Should Learn from Nigeria’s Success in Democracy
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow has said that The Gambia should learn from Nigeria’s success in transitioning from military rule to a vibrant democracy through building of strong institutions and depoliticising the military.

The President made these remarks at the State House on Monday, when participants from Course 28 at the National Defence College in Abuja, Nigeria, paid a courtesy call on him.

The Course 28 group is on a research based mission in Banjul, on the theme: Tourism and National Development – Experiences of The Gambia.

“Africa should learn from Nigeria and The Gambia should learn from Nigeria’s success in transitioning from military rule to democracy. Nigeria has succeeded in building a great democracy through building strong institutions and depoliticising the military,” President Barrow told the delegation, citing on the mutual experience sharing in the trip.

For The Gambia, the Barrow government’s pursuit of the security sector reform includes the establishment of Ministry of Defence, which for the first time is operating independent of the Head of State and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

The Gambian Leader said the diversity of the corps of participants in this apex military training institution for the Nigerian Armed Forces, reflects a steady approach to integration of the continent.

The Gambia’s Minister of Defence, Sheikh Omar Faye said the military support from Nigeria to The Gambia dates a long time in history. He lauded the recent intervention of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in resolving the Gambia’s political crisis in December 2016.

Minister Faye said it is not just a policy of the government but also a personal principle of President Barrow to put peace and stability at the heart of Gambia’s national development endeavours.

Chief of Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Massaneh Kinteh reiterated that Nigeria’s transitioning from military rule to a vibrant democracy has become a reference point for governance. Such a lesson formed the basis for The Gambia Armed Forces’ policy of “keeping the Army out of politics and politics out of the Army.”

As a Centre of Excellence, the National Defence College brings together representatives from countries in the West, East, North and Southern Africa.

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Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo and General Electric Sign Infrastructure Agreement
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
George Njenga, CEO for GE Renewable Energy (Grid & Hydro) SSA with DRC’s Minister of Hydraulic Resources and Electricity, Hon. Eustache Muhanzi Mubembe and the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Eteni Longondo during the signing ceremony
George Njenga, CEO for GE Renewable Energy (Grid & Hydro) SSA with DRC’s Minister of Hydraulic Resources and Electricity, Hon. Eustache Muhanzi Mubembe and the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Eteni Longondo during the signing ceremony
The 3-year MoU seeks to accelerate the economic and social development of the country

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 13, 2020/ — The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and General Electric (NYSE: GE) (www.GE.com) have announced signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in infrastructure projects enabling the increase in the supply of electric energy and health modernization programs. The 3-year MoU seeks to accelerate the economic and social development of the country.

Under the MoU, GE will work with the government to explore power solutions that will increase electricity to the country’s grid to benefit thousands of households. GE will also work with the ministry of health for the modernization of the country’s health system at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels as well as the infrastructures and equipment for maternal and child health, cardiology, and oncology. The partnership will also focus on training and capacity building of local talent for the sustainability of the initiatives.

Speaking about the signing, GE Africa President and CEO Mr. Farid Fezoua said, “Partnership with governments and local companies form a very important part of GE’s growth in Africa, and  we are honoured today to collaborate with the government of the DRC as a key strategic partner for the country’s long-term development agenda. This gives us the opportunity to deliver innovative solutions to meet the unmet demand for the millions of citizens without electricity and those without access to quality healthcare.”

GE is currently involved in the rehabilitation of Inga IIB power plant and of Nseke Power Plant in the DRC and has successfully implemented renovation projects with the 1st interventional Cardiology and CT Scanner with 128 systems installed at the HJ Hospital and new imaging center of Camp Kokolo. In the past, GE Healthcare also led the installation of the Scanner 16 slices at Panzi Hospital, giving thousands of citizens access to the latest diagnostic solutions. 

GE first started operating in Sub-Saharan Africa over 120 years ago and in 2011 renewed its focus to meet Africa’s current and future needs. The company has signed MOUs with the Governments of several countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Ghana and now the DRC to develop infrastructure projects, including sustainable energy solutions as well as improving access to quality healthcare. These MOUs involve significant investments in creating jobs and human capital development.

GE (www.GE.com) drives the world forward by tackling its biggest challenges: Energy, health, transportation—the essentials of modern life. By combining world class engineering with software and analytics, GE helps the world work more efficiently, reliably, and safely. For more than 125 years, GE has invented the future of industry, and today it leads new paradigms in additive manufacturing, materials science, and data analytics. GE people are global, diverse and dedicated, operating with the highest integrity and passion to fulfill GE’s mission and deliver for our customers.

*SOURCE GE
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IHRDA Sues Gambia Before African Court On Violation Of Citizens’ Freedom Of Assembly, Expression
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow.Photo credit Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images

The Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa (IHRDA) and two Gambian lawyers on 22 January 2020 filed a lawsuit against The Gambia before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, on behalf of seven Gambians, concerning the violation of citizens’ right to freedom of assembly and expression.

The seven Gambians include journalists, human rights activists and business people, who are basing on the actio popularis principle allowing individuals and organisations to bring communications on behalf of the general public.

The plaintiffs allege that The Gambia’s Public Order Act, enacted to prohibit association of private persons with military aims and for the maintenance of public order as regards public processions, upholds standards that are in violation of citizens’ right to freedom of expression (Article 9 (2)), freedom of association (Article 10), and freedom of assembly (Article 11).

The plaintiffs argue that section 5 (2) of the Act, which compels citizens apply for a licence from the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) or the Governor of the region concerned before organising any public procession, gives a lot of unilateral and discretionary powers to the said authorities, who can grant or reject the application as they deem fit, whereas there is no mechanism in place to allow for a review of their decisions.

More-so, section 5 (4) of the Act grants that a magistrate or police officer above the rank of sub-Inspector can stop any public procession where a license has not been issued or where the procession violates any of the conditions under which licence was given. Such assembly is considered as unlawful and all persons taking part can be charged with an offence liable to imprisonment and/or fine. Consequently, several recent attempts of peaceful protests, which apparently did not meet the provisions of the said Act, have been brutally repressed by forces of law and order, leading to public violence, destruction of property, injuries, arrests, detention and even death.

In May 2018, members of a political party, including one of the plaintiffs in this present suit, filed a petition at the Supreme Court of The Gambia challenging the constitutionality of section 5 of the Act, which they said was in contravention of the right to freedom of speech and expression, freedom to assemble and demonstrate peaceably without arms, and freedom to move freely within The Gambia, guaranteed under section 25 of the Gambian 1997 Constitution. The Court held that the said restrictions on the exercise of these rights were reasonable, constitutionally legitimate, permissible and justifiable in any democratic society.

The plaintiffs argue that the rights alleged to be violated are equally enshrined in the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which The Gambia is party.

The plaintiffs request the Court to declare that Section 5 of the Public Order Act of The Gambia violates the right to freedom of assembly and expression; and that The Gambia violated the plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of assembly and expression in its disbandment and repression of some recent peaceful demonstrations. The plaintiffs also request the Court to order The Gambia to immediately repeal or amend Section 5 of the Act to align with international standards applicable to The Gambia.

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Senegal Makes Energy a Priority in 2020, Launches Official National Event
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Africa Oil & Power is organizing the nation’s official energy event, Senegal Oil & Power 2020, with the support of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy

DAKAR, Senegal, February 13, 2020/ — Senegal will launch key projects and encourage new momentum in 2020, representing the vision of H.E. President Macky Sall and the government to make energy a foundation for growth; Africa Oil & Power (www.AfricaOilandPower.com) is organizing the nation’s official energy event, Senegal Oil & Power 2020, with the support of the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy; The government and organizer invite global investors to Dakar on May 27-28 to meet with key players and explore new projects.

Senegal is offering oil and gas blocks to global explorers in its 2020 licensing round, open its first utility-scale wind farm and make progress on key oil and gas projects in 2020. The government and organizer Africa Oil & Power invite local, regional and international investors to the first annual Senegal Oil & Power event, to take place on 27-28 May 2020 at the Abdou Diouf International Conference Center (CICAD) in Dakar.

Supported by the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy, Senegal Oil & Power 2020 unites the energy sector at Senegal’s official oil, gas and power event. The conference is accompanied by the second edition of an investor guide titled Africa Energy Series: Senegal 2020 to be released later in the year.

“Senegal Oil & Power and the Africa Energy Series report are the national platform to promote Senegal’s voice in the international energy sector. These initiatives show how important energy is in the nation’s economic emergence,” said James Chester, Acting CEO of organizer Africa Oil & Power. “Senegal is no longer an exploration hotspot, it is at the center of a proven and prolific oil and gas province. There are few places in Africa that offer such a stable and secure investment environment, with long term government vision and support for a wide range of energy activities.”

Senegal Oil & Power is the sole event in Senegal with full government support that opens up national and regional opportunities across the entire value chain – not just in oil and gas. The 2020 program presents leaders and projects representing the full spectrum of energy activities, from oil and gas exploration to local goods and service provision, infrastructure, finance and power production and distribution.

The theme of the conference is “A New Wave of Investment”, reflecting the investment-led vision of H.E. President Macky Sall and Senegal’s agenda to develop the economy on a foundation of a diversified energy sector. Eight oil and gas discoveries have been made since 2014 and in 2022, first oil will be produced from the Sangomar oilfield and first gas from BP’s Greater Tortue Ahmeyim (GTA) LNG project. 2020 is due to be a big year in Senegal’s energy sector: The government will present oil and gas licenses in a global roadshow as part of the 2020 licensing round; Lekela Power’s PETN wind farm will provide 2 million people with power from next year; key progress will be made on the GTA project with McDermott completing fabrication of the subsea production system; and Halliburton will begin drilling and completion services at the close of 2020 for production at Sangomar, which received FID in January.

Senegal Oil & Power 2020 brings the spotlight to the next wave of investment decisions and projects in 2020 and beyond, including gas to power initiatives, and also looking at Senegal’s neighbors Mauritania, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau and Guinea.
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Ghana:President Akufo-Addo Named “Champion Of The African Union Financial Institutions
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

The 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Governments of the African Union has appointed President Akufo-Addo as “Champion of the African Union Financial Institutions.”

The decision of the Assembly was made on Monday, 10th February, 2020, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, by the Chairperson of the AU, His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa.

The creation of African Union Financial Institutions is one of the flagship projects of Agenda 2063, aiming at accelerating integration and socio-economic development of the continent.

The agreed timeframes in the first 10-Year Plan of Agenda 2063 were for the African Investment Bank and Pan African Stock Exchange to be established by 2016; the African Monetary Fund by 2018; and the African Central Bank and Single African Currency by 2034. 

Whilst thanking the Assembly for the honour of the appointment, President Akufo-Addo stated that the “establishment of the AU Financial Institutions has always been at the centre of our agenda for continental integration, and that is why, over the years, we have adopted a treaty and several legal instruments to that effect.”

Currently, only twenty-two (22) Member States have signed the African Investment Bank (AIB) charter, with only 6 ratifications obtained, whilst twelve (12) countries have signed the African Monetary Fund charter, with only one (1) ratification.

At least, nine (9) more countries are needed to ratify the AIB charter for it to enter into force, and, in the case of the African Monetary Fund, fourteen (14) ratifications.

“The task to ensure these are done will be one of my immediate priorities. I will see to it that Ghana ratifies these charters promptly upon my return to Accra,” the President said.

He continued, “the establishment of the African Union Financial Institutions is critical for not only enhancing resource mobilization on the continent, but also for providing the necessary impetus for growth and jobs creation. Their establishment are crucial for the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and for achieving Agenda 2063: ‘The Africa We Want’. Financing our own development agenda remains our primary goal, and will require bold commitments from us.”

Amongst others, President Akufo-Addo pledged to ensure the prompt ratification of the various charters establishing the Financial Institutions; help take, under the direction of the Assembly, all necessary steps to facilitate the creation of the continental financial architecture essential for the realisation of AU Agenda 2063 and the integration process of the continent; and work with the host countries, i.e. the Republic of Cameroon for the African Monetary Fund, the Federal Republic of Nigeria for the African Central Bank, and Libya for the African Investment Bank towards their establishments.

Background

The Article 19 of the Constitutive Act of the African Union provides for the creation of three institutions namely the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund and the African Investment Bank. Furthermore, in January 2006, in Khartoum, Sudan, the Commission was requested by the Assembly of the African Union (Assembly/AU/Dec.109), to conduct a feasibility study on the creation of a Pan-African Stock Exchange (PASE). The three financial institutions and the PASE, constitute the African Union Financial Institutions (AUFIs).

In January 2005, the Assembly decided, in Abuja, Nigeria, decision No. Assembly/AU/Dec.64 (IV), that the African Central Bank should be located in West Africa, the African Investment Bank in North Africa, and the African Monetary Fund in Central Africa. Following this decision, the Northern Region decided that the African Investment Bank should be located in Libya, the Central Region designated Cameroon as the host country of the African Monetary Fund, while the Western Region designated the Federal Republic of Nigeria as the host country for the African Central Bank.

Source: Presidency of Ghana 

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STATE OF THE NATION: Buhari tasks youth to help stabilize Nigeria
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has urged youth to cooperate with the government. 

The president said this on Wednesday during a condolence visit to Borno state where about 30 people were killed by suspected Boko Haram insurgents on Sunday. 

Buhari said the youth are a larger part of the country’s population and must help the government stabilise the country. 

“We have young aggressive youths, the Nigerian youths. Our population, 60 percent, is below 30 years old,” he said. 

“And we have to remind them that they must help us stabilise this country so that they can have a better future. If they don’t cooperate with the government, they are endangering their future.

“I am already 77, how many years do I expect under normal circumstances?”

Buhari also said he wondered how Boko Haram survived to date. 

“As commander in chief, I campaigned both in 2015 and last year on three fundamental issues which include security; you cannot preside over an institution or a country if it is not secure. This is just common sense, everybody knows this even those that have not gone to school know this,” he said. 

“This Boko Haram or whatever they are, cannot come up to Maiduguri or environs without the local leadership knowing because traditionally the local leadership is in charge of security in their own respective areas. So with my understanding of our culture, I wonder how Boko Haram survives up till now.

“We are working for you in this country. As commander in chief, I am dealing with the security institutions and I believe there is an improvement in security. 

“I urge the people of the state to cooperate with with the law enforcement agencies and let us deny Boko Haram access to our loyal citizens and encourage displace people to go back to the land.”

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Court grant Nigerian Journalist bail after 174 days
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi

Publisher of Cross River Watch Agba Jalingo
Publisher of Cross River Watch Agba Jalingo,

A Nigeria federal high court in Calabar, Cross River state, has granted the publisher of CrossRiverWatch Agba Jalingo, bail in the sum of N10million after 174 days.

The journalist who spent 174 days in detention before he was granted bail was first arraigned on August 22, 2019 after he published a story on how Ben Ayade, governor of Cross River, allegedly approved and diverted N500 million meant for the state’s microfinance bank.

Jalingo was charged with conspiracy, terrorism, treasonable felony and an attempt to topple the state government.

On Thursday, Sule Shuaibu, the judge, granted the journalist N10 million bail, following an application from Attah Ochinke, his lawyer.

The court ruled that those standing as surety for the journalist would make a refundable deposit of N700,000 to the court registry to perfect the bail.

Jalingo was earlier denied bail on two occasions by Simon Amobeda, another judge, who was caught in a leak audio saying the journalist’s life was in his hands.

After the recording was made public, Jalingo asked the chief judge of the federal high court to reassign his case.

Amobeda later recused himself from the matter following allegations of a lack of fair trial by the journalist.

Ayade denied involvement in the trial of Jalingo, but said the federal government was behind the journalist’s case over his involvement in the #RevolutionNow protest by Omoyele Sowore.

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Nigeria:Politicians paid miscreants to boo Buhari – Presidency
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Olayinka Ajayi 

President Buhari greeting the military during the visit.Photo credit Buhari Sallau

Nigeria’s senior presidential spokesman, Mallam Garba Shehu, has said some politicians paid miscreants to boo President Muhammadu Buhari in Borno state.

You would recall on Wednesday, some residents of the state booed the President as his convoy made its way into Maiduguri.

Buhari who was on a condolence visit to the state over the killing of 30 citizens at Auno on Sunday.

In an interview with the Hausa service of the BBC, in Abuja, on Thursday, Shehu said only miscreants protested against the president’s visit.

“I was part of the delegation that entered Maiduguri right from the airport to the palace of the Shehu of Borno. The people came out to say thank you and welcome us,” Shehu said.

“But there was a group which came out shouting ‘we don’t want’.

“Some politicians gathered some miscreants and paid them money to boo Buhari.”

The presidential spokesman said the administration has the capacity to fight the insurgents.

During the visit, Babagana Zulum, Governor of the state, told the President that the military needed to change its strategy in the fight against Boko Haram.

President Muhammadu Buhari was on a Sympathy Visit to Borno State over Recent Terrorists Attacks on 12th Feb 2020.Photo credit Buhari Sallau
President Muhammadu Buhari was on a Sympathy Visit to Borno State over Recent Terrorists Attacks on 12th Feb 2020.Photo credit Buhari Sallau

He said the military needs to take the war to the insurgents in their hideouts.

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Kenyan government orders deportation of Chinese citizens involved in assault case
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i signed the deportation order for the four.

Last week a video footage went viral on Social Media filming a Chinese national whipping a Kenyan worker for reporting to work late at Chez Wou Restaurant in Kileleshwa, Nairobi.

The video sparked uproar among Kenyans forcing the office of Director of Public Prosecution to order for their arrest. On Monday, February 10, Deng Hailan, Chang Yueping, Ou Qiang and Yu Ling were arraigned before a Nairobi court following their arrest the previous day.

Deng Hailan, the man caught in the camera was charged with assault whereas Chang Yueping, Ou Qiang and Yu Lung are accused of working in the country without work permit.  Chang Yueping and Ou Qiang visas had expired but Yu Lung has only visitor’s visa.

The suspects were detained for three days pending bail ruling. The prosecution had asked the court to detain the Asian country nationals for 21 days owing to the ongoing investigations but the defense dismissed the application claiming their charges do not warranty a long investigation period.

Issuing her ruling on Thursday, Nairobi Principal Magistrate Helen Kowari detained the suspects for 15 days with the case expected to be mentioned on March 4, 2020.

“Police have sought 21 days to complete investigations. The court has considered the fact that the accused persons are a flight risk and will abscond court,” said the Principal Magistrate.

Few hours after the ruling, Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i signed the deportation order for the four.

The story took a new twist two days ago after other workers at the lavish hotel revealed that the prank was taken out of the context. They said the victim had asked to be whipped by the Chinese in order to be given money to buy khat.

“He wanted money to go buy khat, the Chinese chef told him to go and ask for money from the counter so that its deducted from his end month salary, he did not want to do that, he instead told him to beat him and then give him the money,” said the supervisor at the hotel.

However, the victims rubbished his colleagues’ claims arguing that they also go through the same ordeal but are afraid of speaking out for fear of losing their jobs.

On September 6, 2018, Dr. Matiang’i also ordered for a Chinese motorcycle dealer Liu Jiaqi’s deportation for hurling racial slurs at Kenyans and the President. Jiaqi was caught in a camera calling President Uhuru Kenyatta and Kenyans monkeys

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Belligerents in Cameroon and all other countries of the world should treat children as children-Barrister Felix Agbor NKONGHO on the plight of child soldiers*
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
It is the responsibility of the Cameroon government to urgently seek a peaceful resolution to the Anglophone Crisis so that children may become children again, says Barrister Felix Agbor NKONGHO
It is the responsibility of the Cameroon government to urgently seek a peaceful resolution to the Anglophone Crisis so that children may become children again, says Barrister Felix Agbor NKONGHO

Imagine that one day, soldiers appear in your village. They are hunting members of a local separatist militia. When villagers cannot say where the militia may be hiding, the angry soldiers begin burning down the village market and several homes, including yours. As you and your family run into the bush at the edge of the village to hide, you hear gunfire. Turning, you see your mother collapsed on the ground, shot dead by soldiers of her own country. You are 12 years old, your father died of poor health the year before, and you watch your junior sister crying over your mother’s corpse.

You live in Cameroon, a French-English bilingual country in Central Africa. You and your sister and 800,000 other kids have not attended school for the past three years due to the conflict between separatist militias and the government soldiers. The militias, who want a separate English-speaking country, forbid children to attend school. The government has not restored order, choosing increased force rather than negotiations. The Major National Dialogue held by the government in fall 2019, due to its restricted agenda and a boycott by separatist leaders, failed to produce a sufficient solution.

Today, there is a full-blown humanitarian crisis in the two Anglophone regions. The eight Francophone regions of Cameroon are also suffering, as hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Anglophones have fled there, and over fifty thousand have become refugees next door in Nigeria and beyond. More than three thousand are dead, including one thousand soldiers, and one million are hungry—many barely surviving in makeshift shelters.

You and your sister are alone in the bush. What choices do you have? How will you express your grief, abandonment, fury, and hatred toward your government and the world? Will you choose, or be coerced, to take up arms?

No one knows how many child soldiers there are in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions or other trouble spots in the country, such as the Far North, where Boko Haram terrorizes inhabitants. Videos from the Anglophone regions show children learning to use guns, children talking about killing, children standing with a self-proclaimed leader of an armed separatist group. Stories from hospitals describe lost, orphaned children who wander for days, looking for a home. The trauma is immense, and it is possible that the pain or need for survival drives some children to join a militia that is fighting against the government.

With no school lessons to keep children busy, and the loss of mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, some have chosen guns in place of books and family, while others have become pregnant. Militias have burned schools, kidnapped students, harmed teachers and headmasters, and worse.

Although the Cameroonian government has signed the UN Safe Schools Declaration, its military has not kept schools safe, and even burned down a school in Eka, verified by University of California-Berkeley’s Human Rights Centre (https://dataverse.scholarsportal.info/dataset.xhtml?persistentId=doi:10.5683/SP2/QF5HP7).

The uneducated generation of Anglophone youth taking shape may cause child soldiers and others to become permanent fighters or criminals bereft of other economic survival skills.

Use of child soldiers constitutes a war crime under International Humanitarian Law. Currently this law pertains to those under 15 years, but a universal change to under 18 is underway. Use of child soldiers encompasses more than fighting—it includes using children as spies, shields, porters, and so on. Last month, the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa published a pamphlet to educate both military and separatist fighters about humanitarian law, which includes a scenario about child soldiers (https://www.chrda.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/EDUCATION-Three.pdf).

In the age of ‘never again,’ the world must stand together to protect children, because using them as weapons of war is not normal and, in fact, is unconscionable. Indeed, the term ‘child soldier’ is an embarrassment for the world of today. A true and proud soldier, whether in Cameroon or elsewhere, will always protect and never intentionally harm civilians, and will always protect and never intentionally recruit or harm children.

Thus:

It is the responsibility of the Cameroon government to urgently seek a peaceful resolution to the Anglophone Crisis so that children may become children again.

It is the responsibility of non-state armed separatist militias to neither accept nor coerce fighters under the age of 18, to lift the ban on schools, and enter negotiations for peace.

The United Nations (UN) and the African Union Commission (AU), among other world bodies, should be actively assisting Cameroon in the Anglophone regions to “silence the guns,” which is the AU’s theme for 2020. Guns and other weapons have no place in the hands of children.

On this International Day Against the Use of Child Soldiers, we call on the belligerents in Cameroon and all other countries of the world to treat children as children.

*Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho is President of the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, based in Cameroon.

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Young Africans benefit from $500,000 Scholarship funding under the Africa Industrial Internet Programme
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
AIIP Class of 2019 Graduation
AIIP Class of 2019 Graduation

Port Louis, Mauritius– 31 January 2020- General Electric (NYSE: GE) and the Africa Leadership University (ALU) have announced the kick-off of the 3rd cohort of the Africa Industrial Internet Programme (AIIP)  which is aimed at equipping young Africans with skills that will enable them to take part in the fourth industrial revolution.

The 2020 cohort has enrolled 35 students from 8 countries across Africa, drawn from Oil & gas, transportation, power, energy, manufacturing, healthcare, telecoms and aviation industries. Over the last two years, the rigorous training programme has graduated 64 students, of which 50 were fully sponsored by GE from a scholarship fund totalling US Dollars 500,000.

GE will give 10 full scholarships for the current cohort.

Launched in 2018, the programme has empowered participants with essential skills for building applications for the Industrial Internet, which enables machine-to-machine communication that results in systems that can collect, analyze, and deliver data in real-time. These features provide significant benefits such as predicting when a device will require maintenance, enhancing logistics management, enhancing quality and optimizing safety.

The training takes place at a time when spending on the Internet of Things is predicted to reach a trillion US dollars by 202[1], with the total number of connected devices being projected to rise to 75.44 billion worldwide by 2025, a fivefold increase in ten years.

Commenting on the Programme,  Farid Fezoua, President & CEO for GE Africa said, “As a digital industrial company, it’s exciting  to see how over the last two years the AIIP has developed an ecosystem of digital engineers that utilise data science as an enabler for their work across industries,  developing solutions for the most pressing challenges. Our partnership with ALU for the AIIP is a testament of our commitment to develop the next generation of leaders that will drive solutions made in Africa for Africa in this transformative digital age.”

The AIIP is designed using a project-based approach where participants get to apply their learning in real world contexts. The Programme includes regular assessments in each module culminating with a final project where participants are tasked with applying their learning to solve an existing problem either in their business or in a partner organization’s business operations. This is achieved through modules in machine learning and big data analytics, Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Cloud-based Application Development. A unique aspect of the Programme is a deliberate focus on creating links to industry for participants by inviting industry experts to intensives to share case studies, projects of interest, trends and opportunities, through industry field visits and mentorship opportunities with data science professionals. “African Leadership Group is thrilled to be partnering with GE to build a new generation of digital leaders for Africa” said Fred Swaniker, Founder of African Leadership Group, which includes African Leadership Academy, African Leadership University, and ALX. “We share GE’s passion for data, and what it can bring to the African continent and the world. The Programme enables mid-career engineers to build new skills in data analytics, data science, data engineering and data visualization. By leveraging the power of data,

today’s engineers can significantly improve the performance of high-tech industrial machinery and processes, thereby increasing the bottom line for companies. The Africa Industrial Internet Programme is creating globally competitive, digital engineers right here in Africa, and we can’t wait to see their full impact on the continent”.

In 2019 five female candidates from Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria received the Jay Ireland Africa Rising Scholarship for women in tech in honor of GE Africa’s former CEO, Jay Ireland.

Speaking about her experience with the programme, Funmi Somoye a 2019 cohort graduate from Nigeria said, “More than Machine Learning and Data Science, I have learned more about myself, and what I am capable of doing. I can’t wait to change the world!

About ALU

ALU is pioneering a fresh approach to higher education in the 21st century; offering accredited undergraduate, postgraduate and executive education Programme in a unique and imaginative way. By integrating students’ learning with the real world, empowering students to take ownership of their own learning, equipping each student to think entrepreneurially, and employing the most engaging and inspiring teaching methods, ALU is pioneering a new take on higher education and leadership development.  www.alueducation.com

About GE GE drives the world forward by tackling its biggest challenges: Energy, health, transportation—the essentials of modern life. By combining world class engineering with software and analytics, GE helps the world work more efficiently, reliably, and safely. For more than 125 years, GE has invented the future of industry, and today it leads new paradigms in additive manufacturing, materials science, and data analytics. GE people are global, diverse and dedicated, operating with the highest integrity and passion to fulfill GE’s mission and deliver for our customers.

From the students

Maureen Kibetu, 2019, Kenya (GE)

It is more than just coding and data science. It is practical in that we practice the skills we learnt by using real company data to draw insights. I learnt to see data as a story telling tool. I liked that the program also focused on professional development and I particularly enjoyed the conversations on leadership for the continent and ethics in the field of data science.

Gachanja Muigai 2019, Kenya (GE)

AIIP was a unique eye opener and highly beneficial program to me considering my Engineering Background. Through it I acquired formidable & versatile skills in the areas of Data Analytics, Machine Learning, Application Development and Artificial Intelligence. It is indeed rare to find a program that encompasses so many practical & digital skills & even harder when you add a dedicated, passionate Faculty. Finally my fellow students were a great addition to the program giving it a truly Pan African & Global outlook

Edward Opoku, 2018, Ghana

The AIIP is a unique, experience and dive into the world of data and analytics. It gives you an entire spectrum of what it takes to survive in the world of data science. through AIIP, I was able to meet passionate professionals and challenge our assumptions on the impact of data, and what it can bring to the continent and ultimately to the world.

Funmi Somoye, 2019, Nigeria

More than Machine Learning and Data Science, I have learned more about myself, and what I am capable of doing. I can’t wait to change the world!

Adeyinka Adeyemo, 2019, Nigeria

The AIIP is surely a programme of choice for aspiring data scientists or engineers. The modules are in-depth and well thought out and the focus on other professional development skills is also a plus for me.

Rose Funja, 2019, Tanzania

I like the linking of the theory to practice, every intensive meetup had professionals who advised us and shared interesting use cases.

Matlotlo Magasa, 2019, South Africa (GE)

Came in to the programme feeling like I was just a chemical engineer, worried about python programming and if I would be able to learn it. Now Python is not only a friendly coding language but I have the ability to get data from the plant and analyze this easily using data analytics and visualization, to use design thinking in approaching problems.

Chukwudum Chukwuedo, 2019,Nigeria

I just completed my business trip (enterprise digital competition) here in Houston, Texas and I am privileged that my software minimum viable product demonstration received full funding from the enterprise sponsors. The confidence gained from tackling ALU AIIP’s formative and summative assessments (to do hard things confidently) really came in handy and also key lessons from the leadership series especially working within teams and managing conflicts helped the team quickly go through the storming portions of team dynamics to the performing stage.

Sizwe Ncube, 2019, South Africa

I love the way the programme is structured; it encourages peer-to-peer learning and one gets equipped with new tech skills every day. The practicality of the course means you learn by doing. My biggest lesson from the program was to keep abreast of the constant changes in data science technology. All the techniques and skills we learned may become outdated in the near future, so we need to keep updated on new digital techniques.  –  Tobe Asem, Nigeria

  • My biggest takeaway was the focus on ethics in the field of data science. That with all the power that comes with data, those planning to use it ought to consider ethical implications and biases in any application.  – Maureen Kibetu, Kenya
  • I learned that the world is changing daily at a high speed, so one needs to equip him/herself with the essential data to change Africa for the better and the use of data to solve real human problems is amazing.  – Thula Vilakazi, South Africa 
  • What I loved most about the program was that it laid way for the interaction with a lot of tech-savvy and entrepreneurial minds from the industrial and telecoms space in Africa. Learning from their individual experiences and connecting with them on Africa industrial digital solutions standpoint was a high point for me. It was eye-opening to see that a lot of work is being done in Africa in the AI and ML space by both students on the program and the external facilitators of the program. What’s left now is to apply the skills I have learned now to the industry I work in to benefit Africa at large – Tobe Asem 



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