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In Cameroon, new seed varieties help cocoa crops bloom and farmers thrive
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Antoine Mani Tonye sinks his thumb into the red soil to gauge how deep to plant the next seedling. The Cameroonian cocoa farmer has seen healthy yields and an improvement in his income since he began planting a locally adapted seed variety developed in a laboratory in the capital Yaounde.

“In its first year, my nursery has been the best. This should get me out of poverty,” said Tonye, who farms his own plot in the village of Azanzoa on the outskirts of Mbalmayo in central Cameroon.

“For now, I am doing better, I don’t beg, I do my best, I manage to get by on my own. Farming is going to become my passion.”

There are 600,000 cocoa farmers across Cameroon, and it is a vital sector for rural communities. But cocoa is a fragile crop with yields that tend to decrease over time, putting farmers’ livelihoods at risk. That’s why the African Development Bank has committed to provide funding to IRAD, the Institute of Agriculture Research for Development, where research is focused on creating adapted seed varieties.

The second-generation seed varieties developed by IRAD allow for an average yield of 2 tons per hectare, compared to the first generation developed in the 1970s and 1980s that produced around 1 ton per hectare.

“There has been great progress. In less than two decades, we have been able to double the yield potential of the varieties that farmers now use,” said Bruno Efombagen, an IRAD researcher in Yaounde.

Demand for the higher-yielding seeds has outstripped supply. To solve this problem, the African Development Bank has supported IRAD in its efforts to make the seeds accessible to a greater number of farmers. Across the country, IRAD is setting up more and more seed production fields.

A new seed variety called “Brazilian cacao” is now widely in use, providing far better yields to Cameroonian farmers.

“Before, our parents used to grow a variety called “tout-venant”, but today, thanks to advances in research, we have access to improved seeds,” said Samba MViena, Chairman of AKOM-COOP-CA, a cooperative of farmers.  “You get the first yields 18 months after planting them, with flowers and a few pods on some stems. After two or two-and-a-half years, or more precisely three years, you can already get a perfect crop.”

The higher-quality cocoa seed varieties have helped to stem the migration of young people from rural villages to seek work in the city. MViena’s cooperative has strong youth representation, with 62 young people in the group.

“Their decision to engage in the cacao sector stems from the availability of improved seeds, because these seeds allow for quick and bountiful harvests,” he said.

Brazilian cacao not only provides far better yields to Cameroonian farmers, it benefits everyone in the production chain. Trader Yannick Fosso buys cocoa from across the region and sells it in Cameroon’s economic capital, Douala.

“The season runs from August to January. I make all my year’s earnings during those six months,” he explained. “When you look at the plants, you can see that Brazilian cacao is a better variety than the ones that our parents used to grow. Its colour is much brighter; the pods never get black, they are entirely red. So when you brew it, it comes out with a very good colour and taste.”

Cocoa is Cameroon’s second export crop. The majority of the Central African nation’s annual output of about 220,000 tons is shipped overseas from Douala’s Atlantic port.

For Fosso, part of the pride he takes in his work is in Cameroon’s improving reputation as a cocoa exporter. “Cacao is a central part of the lives of the people here,” he said. “It’s rewarding to buy something that is eaten across the world.”

*Source AFDB

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On the Kenya-Tanzania border, the African Development Bank eases trade with One Stop Border Post
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

On the border between Tanzania and Kenya sits Namanga, a town of 16,000 residents where cross-border trade has thrived thanks to investment in a One Stop Border Post (OSBP).

In 2007, the African Development Bank provided financing of $108 million to Kenya and $77 million to Tanzania with the objective of easing the flow of people and goods across the East African frontier through road improvements and the construction of a OSBP.

The facility, located between Tanzania’s Longido District and Kenya’s Kajiado County, has contributed to improving trade and tourism on both sides of the border and is aligned to one of  the Bank’s “High 5” strategic priorities: Integrating Africa.

Naftali Elhudi Mzota, a bus driver who works for Impala Shuttles in Kenya, has been using the border crossing for 23 years.

“Previously, with the two borders, you had to go through customs and immigration in Tanzania, and then back to Kenya. It could take up to two hours,” he explained.

Now people from Tanzania and Kenya are able to move back and forth across the border much more quickly – a boost to the town of Namanga which derives much of its income from tourism.

Many tourists pass through this border crossing to visit the nearby Amboseli National Park. In the past, access was difficult, but with the financial support from the African Development Bank, up to 242 km of roads around the border town have now been upgraded.

“Before, the road was full of potholes,” Mzota recalled. “You couldn’t make the round trip to Nairobi and back in one day. Having a new road has changed everything.”

Edward Wilson Lyimo has owned a hotel for more than 20 years in Namanga, on the Tanzanian side of the border: “Thanks to this new border, road traffic has increased, businesses have become profitable. This border crossing has been very beneficial to us, we can now trade in both countries,” he said.

The OSBP project aimed to speed up movement across the border and facilitate trade, said Kenneth Bagamuhunda, Director General of Customs and Trade of the East African Community.

“It was a challenge, he acknowledged. “Now it takes about 30 minutes to cross the border. We have a very good relationship with the African Development Bank. They have supported us in the renovation of the infrastructure. Today, we have 10 single-stop border crossings. We are going to duplicate this initiative on other borders, such as the border with Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.”

Sarah Keiya, who has been selling souvenirs to tourists for 10 years in Namanga, has benefited from the new border arrangements.

“Before, we didn’t make good money,” she said. “We were afraid to move around, we were afraid to approach tourists. Now we see them as friends. They are our family and they buy products from us. Since the border post was built, we are respected. We manage to finance our children’s education.”

The single-stop crossing at Namanga has been used to develop infrastructure around the border and improve conditions for the movement of people and goods – a model that will be replicated elsewhere. “This was one of our key objectives,” said Kenneth Ogoga, Kenya’s immigration officer.

*Source AFDB

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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.


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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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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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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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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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Study in the USA: Achieve the American Dream – Part 2
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

By John Nkemnji, Ph.D *

Prof John Nkemnji
  • Part one of the article covered the most appropriate means for people from other nations to migrate to the USA for academic pursuit. Part two is focused on another legal means of immigrating to the USA – a nation that affords one of the best educational institutions in the world. As in part one, every immigrant is encourage to attain a good education that will enable them survive in their new nation.  Please, if your documents are not written in English, it will be to your best interest to have them officially translated into English before you arrive the USA. You will be required to submit official English documents.

Another legal way to migrate to the USA is through the annual DV program but you need to apply and be one of the successful applicants.  If you are in the USA for studies, nothing prevents you from applying for the DV program and if you are in the USA on the DV program you are well off going to school. Both programs are not mutually exclusive.  The DV program comes up annually but it takes time to get ready with documents to apply for the program. The program requires some documents that may take planning and time to acquire.  Some of the other documents may take time to acquire.  You need a current passport, a current passport size photo and at least a high school diploma to qualify. Your chances for success are slim but it is worth trying.  The DV application is in three parts. Like the admissions process, the applicant does not need professional help in completing it.  If you (the applicant) cannot complete the application by yourself, the chances of you succeeding in your new nation are slim.

The electronic application details are usually posted at the US department of State website:  https://dvlottery.state.gov/. The first part of the application asks for information about yourself.  Your name, gender, birth information, residence, identifying documents, contact information, and marital status. Remember that you have to fill the form as advised in the admissions application process.  After completing part one, you are required to proceed to the second part and the final part.

Part 2 of the application is necessary only for those who are married. You (the applicant) will be required to complete identifying information for your spouse and for your children if you have any. Prepare your text and photo before you begin the online application process. Select a period with less internet traffic. 

Part 3 of the application requires that you confirm that the information entered is true and up-to-date. You will be asked to submit the information and your current passport-size digital photo.  Details of the format are described on the electronic application. A receipt with identifying information will be provided which you have to keep securely for use in checking if you are one of the lucky applicants selected for interview. The next and final step comes in about a year with the release of the result.

Living and learning with people from different nations helps everyone discover the benefits of getting along, avoiding stereotypes, and becoming broad-minded with informed opinions. It also helps strengthen personal and professional connections that are necessary to survive in today’s techno-global village.  This article has discussed only two opportunities for youths from other nations to migrate and study in the USA.  More opportunities come up regularly and anyone with adequate finances and a spirit of adventure will be able to explore and live the American dream.

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Refugees at Zim’s Tongogara camp receive help from South Korea
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed a contribution of US$200,000 from the Government of the Republic of Korea to assist refugees living in Zimbabwe’s Tongogara Refugee Camp (TRC) at a time when resources have otherwise run dry.

“Refugee populations around the world are one of the most vulnerable,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP Zimbabwe Country Representative & Director.

“At a time when Zimbabwe and Southern Africa is faced with massive humanitarian needs because of drought and economic woes, this already at-risk community is struggling even more. The support from the people and Government of Korea will make a great difference in the lives of the refugee population here.”

Located in Chipinge district, TRC is home to nearly 14,000 refugees from across southern and central Africa. The funds provided by the Republic of Korea will enable WFP – in partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe, UNHCR and Terre des Hommes, a Southern Africa-based NGO – to continue providing much-needed food and nutrition assistance.

Due to their refugee status, TRC residents are unable to seek employment outside the camp, and internal income-generating opportunities are limited. Therefore, most households rely solely on WFP food assistance to survive.

“I hope that this assistance we are recognizing today will help the people in Tongogara Refugee Camp to enhance their well-being.” Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, H.E. Cho Jaichel said. “I also hope the friendship and cooperation between our two countries will continue and strengthen further. Despite the current challenges, I strongly believe that Zimbabwe has a great potential of growth and brighter future. For our Zimbabwean friends, the Korean government is always ready to share our development experience.”

WFP’s support to refugees in Zimbabwe faces ongoing funding shortfalls. The Republic of Korea’s contribution comes in the wake of an urgent plea for funds by WFP, which is working to provide 4.1 million people in Zimbabwe with emergency food assistance amid the country’s current hunger crisis. At present, more than 7.7 million people – or half of Zimbabwe’s population – is food insecure. More than US$200 million is still required for WFP to provide people with life-saving food aid during the peak of this year’s lean season (Jan-April 2020).

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