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17 Year-Old Kenyan Star Immigrant enjoys high praise in the United States
December 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M. Mupenda

Miss.Bridget Mwaniki speaking to the immigrants at Cortex building in Saint Louis City, U.S
Miss.Bridget Mwaniki speaking to the immigrants at Cortex building in Saint Louis City, U.S.Photo Mohammed M.Mupenda

Miss. Bridget Mwaniki, A 17 year-old Kenyan immigrant recently energized a heavily attended event of African immigrants, Asians and Americans, telling them to cope with the United States way of life which is anchored on hard work to make use of available opportunities.

The young lady, whose story of life went viral at only the age of three due to her gift in poetry, made the remarks during “Building Momentum Networking Event” at Cortex Community Center Building in St. Louis City on Thursday.

The event aims at building momentum for a better future by providing an opportunity to meet new people, hearing from community and different immigrants share their successes, failures, and lessons learned, according to Geoffrey Soyiantet, the President and Executive Director of Vitendo4Africa that hosted the event.

 “When a child gets a full ride to an American college, it deserves a feast in the entire village. When a professional gets a promotion at his workplace that requires them to move here, it is a big achievement,” said Mwaniki underpinning that it is not a surprise for “America is the land of opportunities”.

“When a country is adorned with ammunition, when the war is endless, where there seems to be no hope, America becomes the best bet. When a family is searching for greener pastures and a brighter future for their children, they pack up their bags and gather the little money they have, eager to begin a new life,” She added.

Opportunistic though U.S is, Mwaniki underscored that there are many other challenges for immigrants. She, however, said persistence will always be the key and that the benefits greatly outweigh the disadvantages.

 “Being an immigrant means that you have to work twice as hard for you to be able to stand out and excel, because often, America is all you got. For a student like me, it means striving for all for me to be able to compete with the rest of my peers who were born and grew here,” she said. 

“Most immigrant graduates do not find jobs in their careers, forcing them to either go back to college and change their career or if lucky, start their own businesses. Then there’s the language barrier,” she stressed.

Mwaniki immigrated to the US in February 2019 and is high school senior at Pattonville High School in Maryland Heights. Due to her incomparable talent in poetry and deeds, she has met several public figures including two presidents, Kagame of Rwanda and Kenyatta of Kenya. 

At the age of three, Bridget kicked-off using her gift of poetry to raise awareness against child labor. She has received several awards for condemning violence that erupted after 2008 Kenya’s elections and her endeavors to fight for women rights. She reached National Level for 10 consecutive years in the Kenya Music Festivals.

Mwaniki currently volunteers at the Magic House as a museum assistant. She is also a volunteer Swahili teacher and African folk song teacher at Vitendo 4 Africa.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

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Rasha Kelej Honoured for her poignant ‘More Than a Mother’ Campaign
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Rasha Kelej was recently honoured by New African Magazine

Egyptian born Rasha Kelej was recently honoured by New African Magazine for her poignant More Than a Mother Movement, which has touched many hearts.

New African Magazine at the end of each year releases a list of the 100 most influential Africans who would have done remarkable work in their field of work. New African Magazine’s 100 most influential Africans project has been running for several years now and in the 2019 edition, it rightly recognized Rasha Kelej, the Egyptian who took it upon herself to break the stigma around infertility and empower infertile women.

 Rasha’s story dates back to 1972 when she was born. Growing up in a world in which she saw many people being stigmatized and discriminated at due to what the society termed ‘undesirable’, a passion to break some stigmas began to develop in her at such a young age. After completing her basic education, Rasha proceeded to Alexandria University where she pursued a degree in Pharmacy. Afterwards, she proceeded to study for an MBA from Robert Gordon University, Scotland on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Integration with Business Strategy.

Having completed her education, Rasha in 1994 joined the International Pharmaceutical industry where to date; she has over 25 years of experience. Rasha has spent the majority of her time in the pharmaceutical industry working for the German nonprofit organization Merck which she joined in 1996 serving in different roles.

Adding to her pharmaceutical work, Rasha has also undertaken many leading commercial roles at Merck including serving as the Chief Social Officer and Head of Global Social Responsibility & Market Development. Currently, Rasha is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Merck Foundation, a division of Merck Germany tasked with combining many of Merck’s corporate responsibility activities under one roof. Merck’s corporate responsibility activities primarily aim to support and further interests in healthcare, education, citizens’ initiatives, development cooperation and intercultural understanding.

Combining her two roles, that is, pharmaceutical and commercial, Rasha has managed to successfully use her job to establish many uplifting women programs. The numerous programs that Rasha spearheaded since 2013 centering on healthcare capacity, raising community awareness, breaking the stigma of infertility, and empowering women and youth through education and STEM led to the development and formation of Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany.

Some of the programs spearheaded by Rasha include Merck STEM for women and youth, Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI), Merck Cancer Access Program, Merck Capacity Advancement Program and Merck More Than a Mother. Out of all these programs, it is the historic campaign ‘More Than a Mother’ which has enjoyed much success.

The success of More Than a Mother movement stems from the very nature of the movement itself, that is, its objective, goal and vision. The main aims which led to the formation of Merck More Than a Mother campaign were to empower the childless and infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset and economic empowerment. The campaign also aims at raising awareness about male infertility.

To ensure the success of More Than a Mother campaign, Rasha successfully established strong partnerships with 18 African First Ladies including those from the Central African Republic, the Gambia, Chad, Niger, and Guinea as Ambassadors of More Than a Mother campaign in their countries. In addition to ‘recruiting’ First Ladies as ambassadors of the campaign, More Than a Mother also works with Ministries of Health, not for profit organizations, media, local societies, academia, and gender departments of various African countries.

Together with its partners, More Than a Mother undertakes different initiatives in African societies with the sole aim of breaking the stigma around infertility in the same vein empowering infertile women. Some of the initiatives include hosting Film Awards, Fashion Awards, Media Recognition Awards, Health Media Training as well as collaborating with musicians in developing African songs that aim at breaking the stigma of infertility in various societies.

The success of the More Than a Mother campaign has led women like Grace Kambini, a Kenyan infertile woman to share her story of stigmatization with the world with the intention of changing the narrative that infertility is something to be shunned upon. In an interview, Kambini said that “If I have half of the knowledge back then I would have sorted a lot of issues that were there back then and today things would be different. I encourage all girls who are experiencing issues bearing children to go to hospital together with their spouses to seek for treatment.” Kambini was rejected by her husband and in-laws after nine years of being childless. 

Rasha’s More Than a Mother campaign has not only received recognition from the New African Magazine; she has also been recognized by Spain which awarded her a Women Empowerment Award, International Federation of Business and Professional Women as well as various accolades from African governments.  

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) states that more than 180 million couples in developing countries (equating to one in every four couples) suffer from primary or secondary infertility. In the case of sub-Saharan Africa, infections account for infertility of 85 percent of women compared to only 33 percent worldwide. This, therefore, shows the importance of infertility prevention programs in Africa hence the extreme importance of Rasha’s More Than a Mother campaign. 

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2020 the year Jacob Zuma ‘will’ have his day in court
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Zuma
Zuma

In one of the longest-running legal saga of recent South Africa, Jacob Zuma, the former president of the country is set to have his day in court in 2020. Jacob Zuma is facing 12 counts of fraud, four counts of corruption, one count of racketeering and one count of money laundering. The charges relate back to the arms deal of the late 1990s.

In the late 1990s, it’s alleged that Jacob Zuma used his government position to lobby on behalf of Thomson CSF, a defence contractor bidding on behalf of Thales a European arms manufacturer that wanted to win the tender to supply arms to the South African national army. It’s alleged that during the arms deal negotiations, Zuma sought to enrich himself by engaging in dodgy deals behind the scenes with the defence contractors Thomson CSF. Thomson CSF is alleged to have won the tender to supply arms owing to corruption from Jacob Zuma who used his power and influence as a cabinet minister to lobby in favour of Thomson CSF. For his part, Zuma pocketed four million rands from Schabir Shaik, his financial adviser on behalf of Thomson CSF.

Soon after Thomson CSF won the tender, reports started to emerge stating that the company had won due to corrupt practices. Jacob Zuma together with Schabir Shaik were fingered as the culprits. It didn’t take long before investigations into the whole arms deal began and it is from these investigations that Zuma was charged with 12 counts of fraud, four counts of corruption, one count of racketeering and one count of money laundering alongside Shaik.

The charges levelled against Zuma and Shaik paved way for legal proceedings which in 2005 led to the imprisonment of Shaik for 15 years. Zuma, however, was lucky as his trial dragged on for long before the prosecuting body, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) set aside all charges against him allowing him to run for president in 2009. The NPA’s decision to set aside all charges against Jacob Zuma was influenced by the revelations about the spy tapes in which the head of the intelligence and the prosecution body were recorded talking about how they would time Zuma’s indictment to influence the outcome of the Polokwane elective conference that was to take place that same year.

During his presidency, Zuma’s opponents mainly the main opposition the Democratic Alliance (DA) began a lengthy battle with the prosecuting authority with the sole intention of having the charges levelled against him reinstated. In 2016, they finally succeeded in their endeavours.

Zuma’s reply at the time was to counter with his legal challenge which basically sought to exclude him from any wrongdoing. Zuma’s challenge rather blamed the National Prosecuting Authority for unilaterally taking the decision to set aside the charges. For some time, it seemed that Zuma’s challenge was enough to have the case ‘closed’ for good. However, the Zondo Commission of Inquiry on State Capture in which Zuma was one of the interviewees reopened the case.

During questioning by Raymond Zondo, a senior judge mandated to investigate separate allegations of state capture in the country during Zuma’s presidency, stated that the Gupta family comprising three brothers engaged in several corrupt schemes in South Africa owing to their close relationship with the president Jacob Zuma, allegedly stealing hundreds of millions of dollars through illegal deals with the South African government, obfuscated by a shadowy network of shell companies and associates linked to the family.  In response, Zuma acknowledged that the Gupta brothers are his friends but denied any influence-peddling in their relationship.

In the end, the Zondo Commission of Inquiry on State Capture concluded that Zuma stopped short of asserting criminal behaviour. Rather, it called for an investigation into whether Zuma, some of his cabinet members and some state companies had acted improperly. While Zuma was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, what the Commission of Inquiry did was to give the impetus to Zuma’s opponents to revisit the arms deal corruption scandal.

Faced with a new wave of pressure to stand trial for the arms deal corruption saga, the first step that Zuma did was to file a permanent stay of prosecution. In doing so, he argued that it was no longer making sense for him to stay trial considering the undue delay in prosecuting him. As stated by investigative journalist Karyn Maughan, Zuma “is effectively putting the NPA on trial and he is arguing that there’s been undue delay in prosecuting him and that the delay can’t be solely blamed on him, but is actually the NPA’s fault.”

Zuma’s argument when filing the permanent stay of execution also stated that his inclusion in the arms deal corruption saga as an architect was all part and parcel of a grand political scheme. As supporting evidence, Zuma made reference to the spy tapes. The spy tapes are recordings of phone conversations between former Scorpion’s head Leonard McCarthy and former prosecutions head Bulelani Ngcuka about when to time the indictment of Zuma – in order to influence the outcome of the ANC’s Polokwane elective conference in 2007.

Zuma’s permanent stay of prosecution was however refused by the court.

The court decision did not deter Zuma however as he quickly appealed the court’s decision refusing him permanent stay of prosecution. The court has since replied with Prosecutor Billy Downer saying that the parties have agreed to a hearing of Zuma’s application for leave to appeal…and that, by February (2020), they would have an idea of which way the case was going.

According to Downer, the February date is a ‘holding date’ but the state is hoping that the actual trial will start in April. Downer further went on to state that the state was ready to go on trial.

Concurring with the remarks relayed by Downer, Zuma’s counsel, Thabani Masuku SC, said the former president was also ready to go on trial and had been for the past 14 years.

The next part in the ongoing Jacob Zuma corruption case will not see him stand before the court to answer for his alleged role in the arms deal. Rather, it will simply see Zuma argue with the NPA to have his case closed once and for all for undue delay in prosecuting him. Essentially, this, therefore, means that those who want to see Zuma have his day in court answering to the alleged corruption charges will have to wait a little longer (or for eternity if Zuma wins the case against the NPA).

While the lengthy nature of the Zuma case may have many people disappointed, especially those who are convinced that Zuma is guilty and deserves to serve time for his alleged role in the arms deal, the truth of the matter as stated by Zuma himself is that the blame solely lies with the NPA. It is the NPA which is responsible for prosecuting wrongdoers and if it does not do its job properly, then the accused should not take the blame rather, it is the NPA that should. Setting aside all charges in 2009 was a unilateral decision taken by the NPA, for that, the NPA should accept the blame for causing the case to drag on and on for long. Zuma in arguing that there has been undue delay in prosecuting him is therefore justified.

Moreover, the NPA’s case includes excerpts from Schabir Shaik. As Zuma rightfully argues, it’s unfair for the NPA to use Shaik’s testimony as he should have been given the right to go on trial with him, cross-examine him and dispute what he was saying if there were any lies detected. That was not the case as the NPA did not allow for a joint trial hence the blame is solely to be apportioned to the prosecuting body. It’s probable that Shaik may have added more to his story just to save his skin (and have his sentence reduced) and thus, Zuma should not be punished for that.

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Kenya & Tanzania: Over 3 million people to benefit from African Development Bank’s €345 million road construction support
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Nnenna Nwabufo, AFDB Acting Director General for the East Africa Region
Nnenna Nwabufo, AFDB Acting Director General for the East Africa Region

Over three million people in Tanzania and Kenya will benefit from a €345 million financing package for road construction support, approved by the African Development Bank’s board in Abidjan on Thursday.

The Bank’s support for the Mombasa-Lunga Lunga/Horohoro and Tanga-Pangani-Bagamoyo roads Phase I, is in the form of African Development Bank and African Development Fund loans and represents 78.5% of the total €399.7 million project cost.  The European Union contributed a grant of €30 million, 7.7% of the total project cost, to the government of Kenya.

The road is a key component of the East African transport corridors network, connecting Kenya and Tanzania. Producers, manufacturers and traders will be able to move goods more quickly and cheaply. In addition, farmers and fishermen will benefit from improved access to local and regional markets and amenities, including better schools and health centres.

“The project will have spillover benefits for hinterland countries such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and South Sudan that depend on Mombasa as gateway to global markets,” said Hussein Iman, the Bank’s Regional Sector Manager for infrastructure, private sector, and industrialization.

The Bank’s support will also provide roadside trading facilitates for sellers, half of them women who currently operate in disorganized and unsafe conditions. 

The road crosses regions with high rates of youth unemployment. In light of this, the project includes a vocational training component for 500 unemployed youth (half of them women) to acquire marketable skill and improve their economic prospects.

The Bank anticipates that the intervention will boost regional integration by reducing transit times, facilitating trade and the cross-border movement of people, opening access to tourist attractions. The project will also link the ports of Dar es Salaam, Tanga and Mombasa, and stimulate the blue economy in coastal areas.

This first phase involves the construction of 175 km of road sections:  the 121 km Mkanga-Pangani road section in Tanzania and the 54 km Mombasa-Kilifi road section in Kenya.

The intervention is a priority item in the Bank’s Eastern Africa Regional Integration Strategy (EA-RISP), the Country Strategy Papers (CSPs) of both countries and aligns with two of the Bank’s High 5 priorities – Integrate Africa and Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Regional integration is a priority for Kenya, and Tanzania. However, poor infrastructure has been a major constraint.

This week, the Bank witnessed the signing of a $440 million agreement between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the government of Kenya for the first phase construction of a bridge connecting Mombasa island and Likoni, a major international port area of East Africa.

The Mombasa Gate Bridge will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in Africa, providing a critical link over the Indian Ocean along the just approved Mombasa – Lunga Lunga/Horohoro and Tanga – Pangani – Bagamoyo corridor phase I.

The total amount of co-financing is expected to be more than $ 1.2 billion when subsequent phases of the project are concluded – the largest co-financing agreement between the Bank and JICA.

“We are confident that we can all work together to accomplish this important task and other projects in the future,” Nnenna Nwabufo, the Bank’s Acting Director General for the East Africa Region, said at the signing.

As at the end of November 2019, the Bank’s portfolio in Kenya comprises 27 public and 7 private operations with a total commitment of 2.7 billion euros.

The Bank’s portfolio in Tanzania as at the end of November 2019 comprises 21 public and 2 private operations with a total commitment of 1.82 billion euros.

*AFDB

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Incumbent Party Retains Power in Namibia Elections but Support Dwindles
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

A second term for President Hage Geingob

The South West African People’s Organization (SWAPO) which has ruled Namibia since independence in 1990 retained power once again as it won both the presidential race and the highest number of seats in the National Assembly. Despite the victory, however, there was a significant decrease in support.

Hage Geingob, SWAPO’s presidential candidate received 56 percent of the vote down from the 87 percent that he won with in the previous election. In the legislative vote, SWAPO won 63 seats out of the 96 seats. In the previous election, SWAPO had won 77 seats. The decrease in the number of seats means that SWAPO has now lost its two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.

SWAPO and Hage Geingob’s ‘poor’ electoral performance (in comparison with previous elections) is by no means a surprise considering Namibia’s current political, economic and social landscape. For the first time since independence, SWAPO was competing against a strong force in the presidential race, the corruption scandal which emerged in the run-up to the general election did not help, the economic recession, emergence of a new voter base (young people born after 1990) and the questions surrounding the electronic voter machines all suggested that SWAPO was going to have a hard time in convincing voters something which is now evident considering the election results.

In the presidential race, Hage Geingob found himself in an unfamiliar scenario. Instead of competing with a candidate from the opposition parties, he was competing with a man from his party. Panduleni Itula exploited a loophole in both the party constitution and the country’s electoral act to campaign for the presidential post as an independent candidate though he was still a SWAPO card-carrying member. Using an analogy of a family feud which allows one to stay in the family despite having problems with other family members, Itula in his campaign stated that he had the right to challenge the official party candidate as an alternative while refusing to leave the party. Itula successfully managed to win a considerable amount of votes which enabled him to garner 29 percent of the vote coming in the second position while McHenry Venaani the leader of the official opposition party came in third with .3 percent.

Itula’s strong performance in the election showed one thing, that is, there are many people in the country who love the revolutionary party SWAPO but have a strong distaste to some individuals in the party, in this instance Hage Geingob. Considering that Geingob won 87 percent of the vote in 2014 and only managed 56 percent in the recent election, it means that those who decided against backing him simply took the decision to vote for Itula. Geingob, therefore, does have a difficult job of trying to win back the support that he had in the past during the next 5 years.

The corruptions scandal which emerged in the run-up to the general election did not help matters to SWAPO or Hage Geingob. Days before Election Day, a joint investigation by the Icelandic magazine Stundin, the Icelandic state broadcaster RUV and the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit led to the resignation and arrest of two government ministers on allegations of corruption and money laundering in the Namibian fishing industry. The implicated ministers were the minister of justice Sacky Shanghala and the minister of fisheries and marine resources, Bernhard Esau. The two were accused of taking bribes in return for giving Samherji, one of Iceland’s largest fishing companies preferential access to Namibia’s rich fishing grounds.

Others implicated in the corruption scandal are Thorsteinn Mar Baldvinsson, the CEO of Samherji who has since stepped down from his post pending an independent investigation and the chairman of the Namibia state-owned fishing company James Hatuikulipi who has since resigned.

Another huge factor which played a part in the election is the economic recession. Namibia for a long time has enjoyed steady economic growth. However, the country was hit hard by successive droughts which led to economic recession lasting for three years. The recession’s implications mainly job cuts hugely affected the SWAPO brand as most attributed the ever-rising unemployment rates to the incompetence of SWAPO to devise ways of dealing with the recession. The recession years coincided with the global price falls for uranium, diamonds and other hard commodities which are Namibia’s highest export earners.

A significant proportion of the people who cast their votes on 27 November were youth. The recession affected the youths mostly as many companies froze recruitment. This led high school and tertiary graduates to add to the growing number of the unemployed. Dissatisfied with the prevailing environment, a high number of the youths sought to use the election as a vehicle of change by simply voting for change. The importance of unemployment as a factor in the Namibian election is exposed by the latest Afrobarometer survey in which voters stated that unemployment (54 percent) was the most important deciding factor in the election.

The missing electronic voting machines also made the government in power (SWAPO) to be regarded with suspicion by many voters. According to an investigative piece written by Sonja Smith, Sacky Shanghala, one of SWAPO’s election agents during the SWAPO Party Elders Council’s 6th elective congress held at Outapi in July 2017 borrowed electronic voting machines at the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) offices to use them at the congress before returning them afterwards. However, on his way to the congress venue, Shanghala lost some of the machines. Reports state that four machines were lost but one was found by a member of the public who returned it to the Otjiwarongo Police Station. The machine was subsequently returned to the owner, that is, ECN. To date, the other three machines are yet to be found.

Speaking on the matter of the missing electronic voting machines, Norman Tjombe, a human rights lawyer said that the disappearance of the machines raises suspicions that the election could be rigged hence putting into doubt the integrity and legitimacy of the outcome. “It is the most serious attack on our democracy that such an important device is stolen. Of course, it is the type of device stolen so as to rig the elections. It is not stolen for any other purpose.” Tjombe’s sentiments were echoed by many others who expressed doubt that SWAPO genuinely lost the machines.

To conclude, it can be noted therefore that SWAPO and Hage Geingob lost a significant proportion of votes during the 27 November general election owing largely to the above factors. Essentially, what this, therefore, means going forward is that SWAPO needs to work hard to regain the lost support by correcting its mistakes. For as long as the above factors remain a feature in the prevailing environment, SWAPO will likely continue to lose more support threatening its hold on power.   

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Commonwealth and United Nations sign new agreement
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and United Nations Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammedhave formally committed their organisations to work more closely together.

The two leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding today at the Commonwealth’s headquarters in Marlborough House, London. The document outlines how the two organisations will work together on pressing global issues such as governance and peace, sustainable development, inclusive growth, climate change, ending violence against women and girls and sports for development and peace.

In a joint statement, the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth and the Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations said:

“The United Nations and Commonwealth have long shared a genuine relationship based on shared goals and values.

“We are today proud to enhance this friendship and take it to a new level which the delivery of the 2030 Agenda demands. 

“As we turn to a new decade of action, the challenges we face in order to deliver on the world that we want by 2030 demand we address sustainable development, climate change, improving governance and promoting peace.”

The Commonwealth is committed to the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goals and has made particular progress on the goals of gender equality and tackling climate change.

Across the Commonwealth, gender parity is close to being achieved in primary schools. According to research undertaken by the Commonwealth Secretariat in 2018/2019, a girl is as likely to attend primary school as a boy, and in some Commonwealth countries, more likely to.

Working on tackling climate change and ocean conservation is also an area where the Commonwealth has had a significant influence. Last year, all 53 nations in the Commonwealth, covering one third of the world’s oceans, signed the Blue Charter a landmark agreement to actively co-operate on ocean governance. So far 12 nations have stepped up to lead action groups on areas such as marine pollution, ocean acidification and coral reef protection.

The agreement stresses that ‘prevention’ will underpin each of the collaborative areas and leaves the door open for additional areas of co-operation at a later date.

*Commonwealth

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COP 25: African islands want their place in the sun as they grapple with climate change
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

Africa’s small island states are bearing the brunt of climate change, even though technology exists to prevent the worst impacts of extreme weather.

Climate expert John Harding said fewer lives were being lost as a result of natural disasters, because of advanced early warning systems. However, many cash-strapped African countries are not benefiting from new technologies to develop early warning systems.

Harding was speaking on Tuesday at the COP25 climate conference in Madrid during a panel discussion on building the resilience of small island developing states (SIDS) against extreme climate events

“There are many reports that say in Africa…the coverage of climate and weather observing stations is eight times lower than recommended by WMO for optimal weather observation systems…Less than 50 percent of them provide the type of information required,” said Harding, who heads the secretariat of the Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS).

The session was hosted by the African Development Bank, a significant investor in efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

Andre Kamga, director general of the ACMAD Center in Niger, said the Bank-funded severe weather observation project, SAWIDRA, had enabled the use of data to generate forecasts and early warning systems in Africa.

“What matters on the ground is the warning, which emergency services must use during disaster events to save lives,” Kamga said.

Linus Mofor, senior environmental affairs officer at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, said governments should invest in their climate response as they do in other economic sectors.

“Having said that, in the absence of the investment in early warning systems,, should we just fold our arms?”

The session was moderated by Antonio Palazuelos, from SYAH Cabo Verde, whose small island nation has been battered by extreme weather. The African Development Bank’s 2019 African Economic Outlook cites climate shocks as one of the headwinds facing Cabo Verde in the Atlantic; likewise the Indian Ocean islands of the Comoros, Madagascar and the Seychelles.

“Small islands have been for a long time not very much in the focus, so we are very glad to be here to say we need support from partners. We need to get more into robust early warning systems,” Palazuelos said.

James Kinyangi, head of the African Development Bank’s Climate and Development Special Fund, said small island states were a key constituency.

“The bank supports investments to modernize hydro-meteorological systems in Africa and manages partner efforts to address the weak observational capacity and lack of severe weather early warning systems for small island developing states in Africa,” he said.

Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, followed up the session with another panel discussion on Wednesday on SIDS leadership on the ocean, climate and sustainable development goals.

He said the Bank had made investments to support island states, such as deep sea mining, and had identified the blue economy as a key part of its Feed Africa strategy to strengthen fisheries and other marine resources, creating wealth to “empower the African continent, not go to other countries”.

Nyong said the Bank had released about $17 million to invest in data systems to arm states with the information to better prepare for climate related disasters.

“The Island States are our shareholders and our clients. We pay very close attention to them. If they disappear with the rising sea levels, then it means we really need to assist them build resilience,” Nyong said.

He said island states offered opportunities for private sector investment, despite their challenges. “We are creating an enabling environment, working with countries…providing guarantees to improve the business environment and support climate resilient development.”

*AFDB

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African Development Bank validates regional power acceleration programme, to boost bankability of regional power projects
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank has validated a study report on enhancing regional and sub-regional power projects to enhance energy access and integration across the continent.

The report, entitled ‘Regional and sub-Regional Power Project Acceleration Programme,’was validated at a three-day workshop organised in collaboration with the Africa Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) on the sidelines of the 2019 Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) Week. This year’s PIDA theme was: “Positioning Africa to deliver on Agenda 2063 and economic integration through multi-sectoral approaches to infrastructure development”.

Across the African continent, high-priority regional and sub-regional projects have often stalled because they are considered commercially unviable or un-bankable. The programme intends to boost private investments, enhance cross border power trading, and expand regional integration by accelerating the resolution of technical, legal, regulatory, financial, procurement, environmental and social issues for large-scale projects in Africa.

Among the Bank’s recommendations is the development of a Power Infrastructure Project Evaluation (PIPE) tool kit to be used in screening and prioritizing potential projects for possible technical assistance and funding support. It also recommended the establishment of regional power infrastructure project acceleration units (RPAUs).

“To overcome the diverse constraints in Africa’s power sector, the African Development Bank launched the Regional and sub-Regional Power Project Acceleration Programme. It provides incentives for development finance institutions to mobilise financing for the power sector through regional and sub-regional connectivity”, said Angela Nalikka, the Bank’s Manager for National and Regional Power Systems.

“We want to facilitate the bankability of selected high priority regional power projects and mobilize financing through the development of innovative regional infrastructure funding concepts for the Bank, and other development finance institutions”, Nalikka added.

In 2018, Africa Energy Ministers directed AUDA-NEPAD to champion the development of a Continental Transmission Masterplan together with other partners on the continent.  The Master Plan will inform some of the energy projects under the PIDA Priority Action Plan 2 (2021-2030).

The Regional and Sub-regional Project Acceleration Program (RSPAP) study report is aligned with the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa which aspires to add 160GW of power generation capacity to contribute to universal energy access in the continent by 2030. The report is to be integrated into the Continental Power System Master Plan, where the developed Power Infrastructure Project Evaluation (PIPE) tool Kit and innovative financing mechanisms will be applied.

*AFDB

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COP 25: ‘Africa’s future depends on solidarity’ Leaders and development partners rally around climate change goals
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

There was standing room only as ministers, diplomats, activists and journalists gathered at the IFEMA conference centre in Madrid to mark Africa Day at the COP 25 climate meeting.

Speakers called for a united front to tackle the challenges of climate change in Africa.

In the opening statement for Africa Day on Tuesday, Yasmin Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of Environmental Affairs, on behalf of the African Union, said: “We have, and will continue to engage and to seek landing grounds on the outstanding issues. But we must flag our concern at the apparent reluctance by our interlocutors to engage on issues of priority to developing countries, as evidenced by the large number of such issues which have simply been pushed from session to session without any progress.”

Africa contributes the least to global warming emissions yet is the continent most vulnerable to climate change, as witnessed by devastating natural disasters recently. Africa Day has been held at the conference every year since COP 17 in 2011 to rally support for the continent’s cause.

“The climate disaster issues confronting the continent demand a predictable and unified response,” said UN ASG Mohamed Beavogui, Director General of African Risk Capacity, an agency of the African Union that helps governments respond to natural disasters.

“Africa needs to move towards market-based innovative financing models to achieve a strong, united, resilient and globally influential continent. The future of Africa depends on solidarity.”

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), said the ECA would support African countries to revise their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to attract private sector investments in clean energy.

“The lack of concerted and meaningful global ambition and action to tackle climate change poses an existential threat to African populations,” Songwe said.

The Paris Agreement is the guiding force of current climate negotiations. It calls on nations to curb temperature increases at 2°C by the end of this century, while attempting to contain rises within 1.5°C. The next step is to implement NDCs, which set out national targets under the Paris Agreement.

While African countries outlined bold aspirations to build climate resilient and low-carbon economies in their NDCs, the continent’s position is that it should not be treated the same as developed nations as its carbon emissions constitute a fraction of the world’s big economies.

“The African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD) remains committed to partnering with other institutions in providing the requisite support to AU member states in reviewing and updating their NDCs,” said Estherine Fotabong, Director of Programmes at AUDA-NEPAD.

Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s Environment Minister and current chair of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment, said the Africa Day event should come up with new ideas to enhance the implementation of NDCs in Africa.

Africa is already responding positively to the challenge of climate change, said Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank, citing huge investment interest in renewables at the Bank’s Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg.

“Clearly, we are a continent that has what it takes to create the Africa that we want to see happen. I believe what has been the missing link is the ability to brand right and to act on the market signals,” Nyong said. “We continue to present Africa as a vulnerable case and not as a business case with opportunities. In fact, where we have attempted the latter, the results have been spot-on.”

Chief Fortune Charumbira, Vice President of the Pan-African Parliament, said robust climate legislation was key.

“The world’s response to the challenge has shown that legislation is imperative to cement efforts employed by various stakeholders; from the Paris Agreement to Nationally Determined Contributions,” he said.

Amb. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture at the African Union Commission, said climate change affected sectors key to Africa’s socio-economic development, such as agriculture, livestock and fisheries, energy, biodiversity and tourism. She called on African countries to take stock of the Paris Agreement, and its implementation around finance capacity building and technology.

*AFDB

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Development institutions present digital guide to help African countries fast-track SDGs, Paris Agreement and AU’s Agenda 2063 implementation
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

Three leading development partners have presented a digital application at the COP 25 climate conference in Madrid to help African countries grappling with the simultaneous implementation of key global initiatives.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), African Development Bank Group, and the African Union Development Agency-NEPAD (AUDA-NEPAD) on Tuesday unveiled the Guide for Integrated Planning in Africa.

The guide will help  mainstream the Sustainable Development Goals, AU Agenda 2063the Paris Agreement on Climate Change/Nationally Determined Contributionsthe Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction and The New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States into African countries’ national development plans. The step-by-step guide provides African planners with a new generation of national development strategic and operational plans that mainstream these global initiatives.

Aliou Dia, UNDP Resident Representative in Togo, called the guide a welcome addition. The new guide “will help governments in the continent to accelerate the delivery of the SDGs in the decade of implementation; it will also support the implementation of UNDP’s Climate Promise whichs help countries revise and submit enhanced NDCs by 2020, and reflect them into their new national development plans,” he said.

“Good planning tools enable us to streamline our work; better planning facilitates efficient resource allocation and effective delivery. We are committed to working with Regional Member Countries to mainstream the global development agendas in the national development plans with the ultimate goal of ending poverty, generating jobs for youth and protecting the planet,” said Anthony Nyong, Director for Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank Group.

Estherine Fotabong, Director of Programme Innovation and Planning at the African Union Development Agency, said: “The Guide supports our vision to harness knowledge to deliver the Africa we want, fostering the development of the continent through effective and integrated planning, coordination and implementation of Agenda 2063 with Member States, Regional Economic Communities and Pan-African institutions, by leveraging partnerships and technical cooperation.”

The Guide for Integrated Planning in Africa will be available as a digital application, and in handbook format. The digital application will make it easier for African planners to search for and apply tools for developing a new generation of national development plans. Additional features include interactive pages that allow planners to apply tools directly on the online platform and deliver outputs, such as results frameworks or the theory of change.

*AFDB

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Senegal: African Development Bank lends €62.8 million to help create 150,000 jobs for women and young people
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Adam Amoumoun, Acting Country Manager for Senegal
Adam Amoumoun, Acting Country Manager for Senegal

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank approved a €62.83 million loan to the Government of Senegal for implementation of the first phase of a project aimed at providing jobs for 150,000 women and youth.

Funding for the Project to Support and Enhance Women’s and Young People’s Entrepreneurial Initiatives (PAVIE I), is composed of a €14 million loan from the African Development Fund and a €48.83 million loan from the African Development Bank.

“PAVIE is intended to support the Government of Senegal’s efforts to implement the Plan for Safeguarding Jobs (PSE) to create decent work for young people and women, through the promotion of entrepreneurship,” explained Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbadé, the Bank’s General Manager for West Africa.

PAVIE was designed as a demand-driven approach to be implemented in coordination with the private sector, banks and microfinance institutions. The project will finance businesses and entrepreneurial initiatives by women and young people throughout Senegal, offering them technical support for their business plans and business management.

Serge N’Guessan, The Bank’s Deputy General Manager for West Africa, added, “Given the encouraging and promising results already achieved, the Rapid Entrepreneurship Delegation (DER) is well worth supporting. The Bank’s action will help to strengthen the DER approach based on structuring agricultural and artisanal value chains to create a multiplier effect on employment and the digital transformation of the companies it supports, to further increase their productivity and competitiveness.”

The project is expected to finance over 14,000 entrepreneurial initiatives and generate or consolidate some 65,000 direct and 89,000 indirect jobs. Of these, 60% will be dedicated to women. In addition, more than 27,000 entrepreneurs, including 15,000 women, will receive training and 2200 enterprises will have the benefit of support for their digital transformation, while a further 3500 (50% of which are headed by women) will have support for their move from the informal to the formal economy.

Adam Amoumoun, Acting Country Manager for Senegal, said, “This project is planned to be an effective and innovative response to the challenge of finding work for young people and women in Senegal which, like every African country facing the employment challenge, is seeking a sustainable and lasting solution.”

The Bank’s active portfolio in Senegal comprises 32 operations with a commitment of around €1.84 billion, or 1205 billion CFA francs. It is composed of projects in the national public sector, regional projects, and operations financed by the private sector.

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ADF-15 replenishment: Donors commit $7.6 billion, a 32% boost from last replenishment, in support of Africa’s low-income, fragile, countries
December 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

Donors of the African Development Fund (ADF) on Thursday agreed to commit $7.6 billion to speed up growth in Africa’s poorest nations and help lift millions out of poverty.

This fifteenth replenishment of the ADF (ADF-15), up 32% from the previous cycle, sends a strong signal of trust in the Fund, which is the concessional window of the African Development Bank Group.

The Fund comprises 32 contributing states and benefits 37 countries – including those experiencing higher growth rates, headed towards new emerging markets, and fragile states needing special support for basic service delivery. The Fund’s resources are replenished every three years.

ADF-15 will support Africa’s most vulnerable countries by tackling the root causes of fragility, strengthening resilience, and mainstreaming cross-cutting issues. These include gender, climate change, governance, private sector development, and decent job creation.

What a great pledge we’ve achieved with your support… Together we’ve exceeded the target set for this replenishment. What a great and successful replenishment story that is, “said Akinwumi AdesinaPresident of the African Development Bank.

Over the past 45 years, the ADF has played an important role in the development journey of African low-income countries.

In just nine years, the ADF has made a difference and positively impacted the lives of millions by:

  • Improving access to electricity for 10.9 million people;
  • Providing agriculture infrastructure and inputs for 90 million people—including 43 million women;
  • Improving access to markets and connections between countries to 66.6 million people;
  • Contributing to the continent’s regional integration agenda by rehabilitating more than 2,300 km of cross-border roads;
  • Improving access to water and sanitation for 35.8 million people.

ADF-15 covers the period 2020-2022 and will build on successes of the fourteenth replenishment by being more selective and focused.

ADF-15 will focus on two Strategic Pillars: quality and sustainable infrastructure aimed at strengthening regional integration; and human governance and institutional capacity development for increased decent job creation and inclusive growth.

In pursuing these strategic priorities, ADF-15 will pay special attention to gender equality, climate change, private sector, and good governance promotion.

In his closing remarks, Patrick Dlamini CEO of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, DBSA, who spoke on behalf of South Africa’s Finance minister Tito Mboweni, said the deliberations and outcome demonstrated the confidence member countries place in the African Development Bank Group as “the cornerstone institution underpinning African development.”

“There is no better vehicle than the ADF,” he said. “Going forward, an ambitious programme of development lies ahead.”

ADF-15 will address root causes of vulnerability by systematically applying a fragility lens in all its operations. This will be specifically targeted at regions such as the Sahel, which will see a 65% increase in resources from the ADF over the next three-year period.

ADF-15 comes at a time of tremendous opportunities and challenges for ADF countries and the world.

During the next three years, the Fund will scale up its interventions with bold and profoundly transformative projects such as Desert to Power stretching across the Sahel region. This flagship programme, aims at transforming the Sahel into the world’s largest solar production zone with up to 10,000 MW of solar generation capacity and 250 million people connected to electricity.

As part of the initiative, the Yeleen Rural Electrification Project in Burkina Faso is set to provide access to electricity to 150,000 households, while the Djermaya Project in Chad will generate 10% of Chad’s power capacity.

“You will see a new spring in our step…we will be bold and decisive. We will stretch ourselves, and we will do more with your support,” Adesina said.

Editor’s note: In a Dec. 5 issue of this press release, paragraph 13 incorrectly had the figure 23%,  instead  of 65%

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