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Gambians CSOs Calls for National Dialogue Amidst Tension
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Barrow
President Barrow

Prominent Gambian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have written an open letter to President Barrow urging the embattled head of state to show leadership and support the calls being echoed around the country for a National Dialogue to take place as a matter of urgency.

In the letter the group stated that: ‘A listening and caring government will always gain the respect and garner the support of the citizens it leads’.

It bolstered its augment by reminding the president that his administration’s refusal to listen to public opinion, especially if well intentioned, was unacceptable. Intimating that this was the reason as to why the recurrence of police brutality, crackdown and arrest of protesters happened last week. 

“The mishandling of this and other events lately, starting with the vacillation over the issuance of routine meeting permits by the police, bore all the hallmarks of an inept, paranoid and incompetent administration.”

The letter went further to state that the current administration is unable to unlearn the practices of old, and reluctant to take on-board sound suggestions to enable it to better deal with issues of public protests, and even to be accepting of dissenting views.

‘The Faraba Banta Commission of Inquiry report submitted to you, provided concrete recommendations in order to avoid future recurrence of such events.  It is again clear that the most important aspects of the conclusions and further recommendations of this commission, to urgently embark on security sector reforms, were ignored.’

It further stated that lessons should have been learned from the fallout and consequences of two decades of intolerance, intimidation, and outright abuse meted out to Gambians by the former Jammeh regime; which has now been placed under the spotlight by the ongoing TRRC. 

The group also cautioned the president and his administration that the decision they took to ‘go to war’ with people that hold a different political view is a dangerous tipping point for the stability of the country.

The authors of the letter went further to remind the president that such intolerance has severe consequences for his presidency and ultimately the country.  They cited similar overreaction by Barrow’s predecessor, Yahya Jammeh, who reacted with brutal force over similar demonstrations.

“The 26 January 2020 incident was angrily reminiscent of the events of 14-16 April 2016, when Solo Sandeng and his colleagues were arrested, beaten and tortured; Solo Sandeng later succumbed to his injuries and died.  This was followed by further protests by the UDP 31, members of your former party, and senior partner to the coalition that brought you to power. 

They too were arrested, detained and charged,” the letter stated.  It went further to also advise the president to make a pronouncement on the outcome of the legal challenge mounted and won by the UDP 31, where by the ECOWAS court recently issued an order for investigations to happen, and to bring the perpetrators of Sandeng’s death, and the torture of others, to book.

  They also urged president Barrow to instruct his Attorney General and Minister of Justice, ‘to give the pronouncement [of the ECOWAS court] the same earnestness, enthusiasm and urgency he gave the Rohingya matter.’

The letter ended with a warning that the only way out of the political quagmire the country faces is through an inclusive national conversation among all stakeholders, especially the politicians. 

They stated that this would be ‘an avenue to reduce the unhealthy contestation and rhetoric, which has grown toxic, and lay the groundwork for a peaceful transition to a new constitutional order.’

The organizations that signed the open letter are: Right to Know Gambia (R2K); The Democratic; Union of Gambian Activists (DUGA); The Gambia Press Union (GPU); Gambia Participates, and Team Gom Sa Borpa.  The letter was copied to the diplomatic and consular corps in country, as well as the ECOWAS and the African Union.

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THE MARLEY FAMILY, UME AND ISLAND RECORDS ANNOUNCE YEARLONG 75TH BIRTHDAY COMMEMORATIVE PLANS FOR LEGENDARY ICON BOB MARLEY
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
LEGENDARY ICON BOB MARLEY

MARLEY75 To Feature Special Releases, Live Performances, Plus Rare And Unreleased Material from the Marley Family Vaults and Private Collection 

40 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF ‘REDEMPTION SONG,’ CELEBRATED WITH NEW MUSIC VIDEO PREMIERED ON YOUTUBE

(February 5, 2020 – Los Angeles, CA) The Marley family, UMe and Island Records have begun to roll out their yearlong MARLEY75 commemorative plans in celebration of the legendary cultural icon, Bob Marley’s 75th birthday and 40th anniversary of the timeless classic “Redemption Song.” 

In honor of Black History Month, now underway, and to mark the beginning of all MARLEY75 celebrations in 2020, the official music video for Redemption Song” premieres today on Bob Marley’s YouTube channel. Created by French artists Octave Marsal & Theo De Gueltzl, the breathtaking animation, featuring 2,747 original drawings, uses powerful symbols to amplify the magnitude of the song’s timeless lyrics and importance in today’s world. The video highlights Bob’s contribution to the empowerment of black civilization, as well as his manifestation of hope and recovery for all mankind. 

Inspired by Bob’s homeland of Jamaica, as well as insights received from his family, the artistic approach was to illustrate the imaginary world of Bob Marley in a way that highly stimulates self-reflection. “From the history of Slavery and Jamaica, Rastafarian culture, legacy of prophets (Haile Selassie the 1st, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X), as well as Bob’s personal life, we take the audience on a journey through allegories and representations.” Marsal and De Gueltzl reveal. The opening sequence invites the viewer into Bob’s guitar, a visual metaphor to Bob’s mind, and our own, in a quest for Redemption. Also, drawing from Rastafarian philosophy, another vital element of the video’s narrative is about valuing nature, our Earth and the Mother Land.

Watch the powerful visual for ‘Redemption Song’ HERE

The MARLEY75 celebrations will encompass all things music, fashion, art, photography, technology, sport and film, providing fans unprecedented access to archives from the legendary artist’s estate in new, thoughtful and innovative ways. Together with YouTube, new and exciting content is set to be released over the course of the year.

The inaugural MARLEY75 music festivities kick off this Spring, the first of many celebrations to come. Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley’s Bob Marley Celebration will headline 
The BeachLife   Festival. This special, collaborative appearance will feature Ziggy Marley and Stephen Marley performing an extensive catalog of Bob Marley tunes in celebration of their father’s 75th birthday at the three-day immersive music, art, and culinary oceanside event.

In this digital era, Bob Marley remains one of the most followed posthumous artists on social media, and MARLEY75 will serve to bring his music and message to the digital foreground, reaching new audiences and perspectives with innovative content and groundbreaking technology. Special live events, exclusive digital content, recordings, exhibitions, plus rare and unearthed treasures will also be revealed throughout the year.

Bob Marley’s music continues to inspire generation upon generation, as his legacy lives on through his message of love, justice and unity, a sentiment needed more than ever in 2020. In conjunction with Tuff Gong and UMe, a division of the Universal Music Group, the Marley family will continue to ensure the highest quality, integrity and care is taken to honor Bob’s legacy and to celebrate one of the 20th century’s most important and influential figures.

One-quarter of all the Reggae listened to in the United States, is Bob Marley. Bob Marley’s Legend is the nineteenth-biggest selling album of all time and the fifth-biggest selling Greatest Hits package in United States history.

Throughout history, no artist has dominated the world of music quite like Bob Marley. A musical, political and spiritual icon of mythical proportions, both poet and prophet, Marley was the first Jamaican artist to give voice to the struggles of his people and the Rastafarian culture, and the first to gain worldwide fame. October 2020 will see the 40th anniversary of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song.” Released in October 1980 and taken from his ninth album Uprising (Island Records), the song was inspired by a speech from Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey’s “The Work That Has Been Done” and is considered by many as one of the greatest songs ever written in popular culture. In a time when political unrest and oppression feels more prevalent than ever, “Redemption Song” maintains a poignancy and power and acts as a long-standing testament to Bob Marley’s brilliance and voice for the people. Bob Marley’s music catalog has amassed billions of streams and sold millions of albums worldwide, while his hits compilation, Legend, remains the world’s best-selling reggae album and longest-charting album in the history of Billboard’s Catalog Albums chart.

Tune in and subscribe to the Official Bob Marley YouTube channel here for more upcoming content celebrating Bob’s legacy and contribution to the world.

Additional information on MARLEY75 events will be revealed soon.

ABOUT BOB MARLEY

Bob Marley, a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, is notable not only as the man who put reggae on the global map, but, as a statesman in his native Jamaica, he famously brought together the country’s warring factions. Today, Bob Marley remains one of the 20th century’s most important and influential entertainment icons. Marley’s lifestyle and music continue to inspire new generations as his legacy lives on through his music. In the digital era, he has the second-highest social media following of any posthumous celebrity, with the official Bob Marley Facebook page drawing more than 70 million fans, ranking it among the Top 20 of all Facebook pages and Top 10 among celebrity pages. Marley’s music catalog has sold millions of albums worldwide. His iconic collection LEGEND holds the distinction of being the longest-charting album in the history of Billboard magazine’s Catalog Albums chart and remains the world’s best-selling reggae album. Marley’s accolades include inductions into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1994) and ASCAP Songwriters Hall of Fame (2010), a GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award (2001), multiple entries in the GRAMMY® Hall Of Fame, and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2001).  For more information visit: bobmarley.com and facebook.com/bobmarley.


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Now your own blood can save you: autotransfusion device Hemafuse will revolutionize blood access across Africa, now available in Ghana and Kenya
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
Hemafuse was created for patients suffering from internal bleeding resulting from trauma, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, or for use in planned surgeries
BALTIMORE, United States of America, February 5, 2020/ — Hemafuse, a surgical autotransfusion device, will revolutionize blood access across Africa. Hemafuse is designed to salvage and recycle whole blood from cases of internal bleeding. The device can be used in both emergencies and scheduled procedures to recover blood from where it pools inside of a patient, into a blood bag, where it is immediately available to be re-transfused back to that same patient.

Hemafuse was created for patients suffering from internal bleeding resulting from trauma, ruptured ectopic pregnancies, or for use in planned surgeries. Hemafuse can be used in cases where there is no donor blood available, and even as the preferred option over donor blood. When compared to autotransfusion, the use of donor blood comes with a higher risk of disease transfer, increased length of stay, readmissions, and other complications.

Hemafuse is now used in 10 different hospitals across Kenya. Last month, Hemafuse received an endorsement from The First Lady, Margaret Kenyatta at the launch of the Nairobi Beyond Zero Medical Safari held at Uhuru Park Nairobi on January, 25 2020. The First Lady’s Beyond Zero Kenya initiative donated Hemafuse to Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital to aid in the reduction of maternal deaths.

During the event, Dr. Elizabeth Wala, Programme Director for Health Systems Strengthening at Amref Health Africa in Kenya, spoke about the importance of using a high-quality device to save lives. She announced that the Kenya Pharmacy and Poison Board have approved Hemafuse. “Blood is a matter of life and death, the impact of this device is saving lives that could have been lost due to lack of blood. Achieving [Universal Health Coverage] requires innovations for essential medicines and health technologies that save lives. Hemafuse should be part of the essential medical devices in each hospital,” she added.

Use of the device is now being rolled out in Ghana, where it has already been used to save lives in cases of ruptured ectopic pregnancy. Dr. Gerald Osei-Owusu, a Medical Officer at Tema General, has used Hemafuse in several different surgeries. After experiencing Hemafuse first hand, he says the device cuts down on cost, the time it takes to save the patient, and reduces their recovery time. “It’s a good device, I think it’s something we should use nationally and continentally… It makes life easier, work easier, and costs less. I think it’s a good device.”

Using Hemafuse to recycle a patient’s own blood saves the donor blood that is available for other patients who are not candidates for autotransfusion. Dr. Rafia Abanga, another Medical Officer at Tema General has experienced Hemafuse first hand, “The Hemafuse is a great device, I’ve used it only twice, it was much needed and helped save a young lady’s life. I am grateful to the person who invented this,” she added.

Autotransfusion reduces the risk of infection and disease transmission because using a patient’s own blood is safer than someone else’s. Dorothy Kesewah Denkyi, a theatre nurse at Tema General, explains her experience using Hemafuse and implementing autotransfusion. “Autotransfusion is the best…It’s better than giving someone [else’s] blood to the patient. So we are encouraging autotransfusion if that is what will help out. Now that Hemafuse is here [in Ghana], we are advocating to get more in the system. Every theatre should have one, if not one, two.”

Hemafuse is now available at hospitals in Kenya and Ghana, and will be coming to hospitals across Africa. In Kenya, Hemafuse is sold through Surgipharm and in partnership with Amref. All other locations should reach out to Sisu’s global partner, VIA Global Health: www.viaglobalhealth.com/product/hemafuse.

About Sisu Global:
Sisu Global (https://SisuGlobal.health) is a corporation headquartered in Baltimore, Maryland. We envision a world where medical technology enables access to healthcare in every community. Right now, 80% of the world’s medical devices are designed for 10% of the world’s population. Sisu aims to change this statistic by designing and scaling medical devices made specifically for the global market. Sisu is the manufacturer of goods including the Hemafuse™ System. For more information, please visit our website, https://SisuGlobal.health

About Hemafuse™:
The Hemafuse™ is a handheld, mechanical medical device for intraoperative autotransfusion of blood collected from an internal hemorrhage, meant to replace or augment donor blood in emergency situations.  The Hemafuse™ is a device that can support the donor blood ecosystem by providing an option for clinicians to salvage and recycle a patient’s own blood in cases of internal bleeding. This immediate access to blood can shorten the wait time to perform surgery, increase hospital efficiency and provide access to blood where there may be no other option. This device was developed with invaluable feedback from Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and Korle Bu Teaching Hospital.
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$38M Cashew Value Chain Project for The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau Unveiled
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food For Progress (FFPr) Regional Cashew Value Chain Project is implementing a $38 million, six-year project in The Gambia, Senegal, and Guinea-Bissau which will enhance the regional cashew value chain to improve the trade of processed cashews in local and international markets. 

On January 29, 2020 U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia R. Carl Paschall and The Gambia’s Minister of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry and Employment, Lamin Jobe, spoke at a launch ceremony in Dakar, Senegal for the USDA’s Food for Progress regional cashew value chain project, also called the Linking Infrastructure, Finance, and Farms to Cashews (LIFFT-Cashew).

At the launch event, numerous government officials, as well as private sector leaders from The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, discussed the regional integration of the cashew value chain.

The United States was represented by both the U.S. Ambassador to The Gambia, Richard Carlton Paschall III, and the U.S. Ambassador to Senegal and Guinea-Bissau, Tulinabo Salama Mushingi. Both U.S. Ambassadors emphasized the need for collaboration between the three countries.

Ambassador Paschall highlighted the importance of creating opportunities for producers and processors to boost economic development and working together to meet the needs of local and international markets.

In his remarks, Ambassador Paschall said: “I believe that government policy that encourages market-led development and regional integration of the cashew sector, through the private sector, is critical to integrate the cashew value chain and achieve the project’s goal.  This will help stimulate economic development and incite the creation of jobs here in the region by meeting market demand requirements.” 

Ambassador Mushingi echoed this message by reciting the well-known proverb: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 

In turn, the government representatives of the beneficiary countries stressed the importance of adding value to their region’s cashew sector, as only approximately 5-6 percent of their produced cashew nut is processed locally. 

Facilitating the processing of cashew nuts within the region will create new jobs and increase incomes, attract more investment to the cashew sector, and create sustainable socio-economic development.

After the opening ceremony, workshop participants discussed key issues for the cashew sector, including access to finance, market linkages between cooperatives and processors, organic certification, and government strategies to facilitate regional integration. 

During the group breakout session, government officials discussed regional integration and the three governments’ roles in supporting cashew value chain actors. 

The private sector group, which consisted of farmer cooperatives, processors, investors and financial institutions, discussed the challenges and opportunities they face, the importance of linkages between the value chain actors, and the support they need from their governments in supporting collective sales, processing and exports.

These private sector participants and government officials will continue their collaboration as project LIFFT-Cashew progresses to pave the way for increased regional integration of the cashew value chain and increased trade in processed cashews.

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Gambia’s Award Wining Referee Tops CAF List For CHAN Preparatory Course
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The three times Conferderation of Africa Football (CAF) Referee of the year Gambian born Bakary Papa Gassama is among the list of CAF prefered short list of Referees for the forth coming CHAN tournament in Cameroon 2020. Gassama top the merit list of Video Assistant Referees (VAR) for the 6th edition of the Championships.

Among the list of Referees and Assistant Referees is Abdul Azziz Bolel Jawo (Asst Ref) who is also on the CAF merit list nominated as Assistant Referee for the Championship. Both Gassama and Bolel are currently in Cairo, Egypt at the invitation of the Continental body for a preparatory Course organized by CAF ahead of the Total African Nations Championship (CHAN), Cameroon 2020.

Gambia’s highest standing performer and Africa’s finest Referee Bakary Papa Gassama will be part of the panel on Video Assistant Refereeing (VAR) while Abdul Azziz Bolel Jawo joins his colleagues as Assistant Referee. The course will be on theoretical and practical basis. The first session of the Course on Tuesday 4th February 2020 was a fitness test in which both Gassama and Bolel made the cut to the next stage.

The final tournament of the sixth edition of the CHAN competition designed exclusively for players featuring in their domestic leagues will be held from 4th -25th April 2020 in the cities of Yaounde, Garoua, Douala and Limbe. Meanwhile, the draw for the final tournament has been fixed for Monday, 17th February 2020, at Palais Polyvalent Des Sports de Yaoundé in the Cameroonian capital, Yaounde, at 19:00hrs local time.

Bakary Papa Gassama was born 10 February 1979 in Memeh village in the North Bank Region. He started refreeing in 2003 and became a FIFA badge holder in 2007. Gassama began to officiate matches at the Gambia League Championships until in 2012 when he was appointed to the Olympic Tournament in which he was the fourth official for the gold medal match between Mexico and Brazil. He also served as a referee at the 2012 and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournaments as well as the 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.

In March 2013, FIFA named Gassama as one of the fifty potential referees for the 2014 World Cup. On 15 January 2014, FIFA announced that he would be one of the 25 referees for the tournament. He was assisted by Evarist Menkouandé and Felicien Kabanda. Gassama officiated the 3rd stage Match in Group B between the Netherlands and Chile. At the continental front, he also officiated the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations Final between Ghana and Cote D Ivoire.

On 27 April 2017, Gassama was selected as CAF’s sole Referee for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup Final in Russia. He was assisted by Claude Birumushahu of Burundi and Marwa Range from Kenya while his Video Assistant was Malang Diedhiou of Senegal.  He officiated the Group A Match between Mexico and New Zealand.

Gassama continued with his panel of Referees when FIFA nominted him further to officaited some matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Gassama won the CAF Referee of the Year three times on the trot. 2014, 2015, 2016

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Equatorial Guinea agrees on $2M Solidarity Contribution to support China’s Fight Against Coronavirus
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
Equatorial Guinea and China Presidents
According to the latest updates, the coronavirus has killed almost 500 people worldwide, mostly Chinese citizens and infected over 24,000 people

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, February 5, 2020/ — Equatorial Guinea’s Council of Ministers has agreed to support China’s fight against the coronavirus with a $2 million solidarity contribution this week. Chaired by H.E. President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, the Council of Ministers expressed its deepest support and solidarity to the Chinese Government in their fight against the global outbreak.

According to the latest updates, the coronavirus has killed almost 500 people worldwide, mostly Chinese citizens and infected over 24,000 people. The decision of Equatorial Guinea’s Council of Minister to financially support China’s fight against the virus reflects the deep and long-standing relationship between both countries, whose cooperation has only grown stronger in recent years.

“China has always been a very strong and loyal supporter of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea and this contribution is a demonstration that Equatorial Guinea stands in solidarity with China and its people as it fights a global outbreak that has already cost too many lives,” declared H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons. “Our ongoing Year of Investment Initiative will be a testimony to the depth of our cooperation and relationship with China. It is a pleasure for Equatorial Guinea to support its partner in times of need.”

China and Equatorial Guinea have been enjoying successful economic and technical cooperation for decades. China has supported the development of Equatorial Guinea through the construction of critical telecommunications and road infrastructure, along with supporting social infrastructure in the country. Equatorial Guinea has been a long-standing supporter of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC). Last year, both countries agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation during a meeting between President Obiang Nguema Mbasogo and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special representative Yang Jiechi.
*Africa Energy Chamber
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Governor Nyesom Wike: “Real Madrid Academy Port Harcourt is a legacy for Rivers State”
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

Governor Wike announced to this latest Congress in Budapest that the Academy has now been completed and commissioned in September 2019

Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike speaking on the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress on February 4, 2020. (Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS Media)
Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike speaking on the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress on February 4, 2020. (Photo by Carlo Pozzoni/AIPS Media)

BUDAPEST, Hungary, February 5, 2020/ — During the opening day of the 83rd AIPS Congress at the Corinthia Hotel Budapest in Hungary, the Governor of Rivers State, Nigeria, His Excellency Nyesom Ezenwo Wike took the stage to share his vision for a project he holds dear – the Real Madrid Academy based in his capital, Port Harcourt.

Wike, who is described by many in Nigeria as the “Sports Loving Governor” began his presentation by reflecting on the genesis of his relationship with AIPS. “My relationship with AIPS started in 2017 when the president of AIPS Africa Mitchell Obi led a delegation to pay a coutesy call to me in Port Harcourt where I was pronounced and subsequently honoured in 2018 with the Power of Sports award in recognition of our humble contribution to the development of sports in Rivers State. Since then we have continued to relate with the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), as well as the AIPS, to advance our mutual interest. AIPS is an organisation I hold in high regard, for its commitment, for the promotion and development of sports across the world.”

At the 81st AIPS Congress in Brussels two years ago in May, where Governor Wike was decorated with the AIPS Africa Power of Sports award, he gave a hint about his plan to build a Real Madrid Football Academy. Later, in the same month, AIPS President Gianni Merlo was invited to Nigeria to witness the laying of the project’s foundation on May 28, 2018 by the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Ahmad Ahmad.

Governor Wike announced to this latest Congress in Budapest that the Academy has now been completed and commissioned in September 2019 and has already admitted its first set of students from a local youth team that won a national football championship. The facility can accommodate 500 boarding students, he added.

“It is true that the future of any country or society is revealed in the character and quality of its youths, but what the youths eventually become in life is also founded on the quality of education and skills they acquire to the age of responsitbility.

“Sports and education are both important and can co-exist as a medium to drive the development, character and prosperity of our youths; this was the motivation for the establishment of the Real Madrid Academy, Port Harcourt.

“Football, among other sports, presents itself as one of the best possible ways to raising generations of young people with character and determination to achieve outstanding results and prosperity,” Governor Wike stated.

He added: “The Real Madrid Academy is expected to foster youth development by nurturing and producing talented football players for the state as well as inculcating critical skills and life values that will benefit our youths beyond the football sphere. The academy is a legacy for Rivers State.”

While the Academy is focused on nurturing Rivers State-born talents majorly, Governor Wike made it clear that 30 percent of the academy’s admission slots will be reserved for the rest of Nigeria and Africa. In this way, the academy is also making an impact on the continent. WIke also assured that the academy will continue even after his tenure as governor has come to an end.

*Courtesy of International Sports Press Association (AIPS)

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Secretary Michael R. Pompeo Statements to the Press With Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama
February 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama deliver statements to the press after talks that included discussion of a visa row (AFP Photo/Eric BARADAT)
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama deliver statements to the press after talks that included discussion of a visa row (AFP Photo/Eric BARADAT)

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, good morning, everyone.  It’s my pleasure to welcome you, Mr. Minister, and your entire Nigerian delegation to Washington, DC.  The foreign minister and I just completed a very productive conversation on how to continue to strengthen the economic and security ties between our two nations.  This is a real priority for us in the Trump administration in Africa, because Nigeria is Africa’s most populous democracy and its largest economy.

On that note, let me begin and talk about our economic cooperation.  Nigeria is already America’s second-largest trading partner in Africa.  U.S. companies from Google to Chevron to KPMG invested over a billion dollars in Nigeria in 2018 alone, creating over 18,000 jobs and indirectly supporting 3 million others.

It’s what American companies do.  It’s what we do all over the world every day, and they do it in a spirit of transparency and partnerships with the host nations.

The foreign minister and I discussed how we can tighten our trade ties even further, including in infrastructure investment.  Embracing free market policies that attract capital – private capital, ensuring consistent enforcement of the law, and doubling down on anti-corruption efforts are the surest way to grow prosperity in Nigeria and all across the region.

And we’re pleased, too, that President Buhari has prioritized that fight against corruption.

In support of that fight, I am announcing today that the United States and Nigeria have signed an agreement to return to the Nigerian people more than $308 million in assets stolen by a former dictator.

Now I’ll turn to our security cooperation, which has also been expanding.

Case in point: Nigeria’s recent $500 million purchase of 12 U.S.-made A-29 aircraft.  This supports President Buhari’s recently stated goal of creating “a security force with the best training and modern weaponry.”

He also pledged that those forces “will be held to the highest standards of… respect for human rights.”

The United States will hold Nigeria to that pledge, and we’ll help you achieve it.  The United States has already invested in the training of Nigeria’s military on human rights and the Law of Armed Conflict.

Nigeria was one of the first African nations to joint the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS.  America is now supporting the Nigerian fight against ISIS’s largest global affiliate, ISIS-West Africa – a dangerous threat to both of our countries.

In part due to this terrorism threat, on Friday, President Trump announced the suspension of immigrant visas for Nigerians because Nigeria has room to grow in sharing important national security information.  I am optimistic that’s going to happen.  In the proclamation, President Trump highlighted Nigeria’s importance as a strategic partner in the global fight against terrorism and recognized the government’s commitment to improving information sharing with us.

The foreign minister and I also discussed today the massive humanitarian crisis that the conflict with Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa and other religious and ethnic violence.

We know that these issues are hard.  We know that they’re complicated.  But I strongly encouraged the Nigerian Government to do more to protect its civilians, including religious communities and the humanitarian organizations seeking to assist them.

To aid in this effort, I’m pleased to announce today an additional $40 million in humanitarian assistance to Nigeria, adding to the nearly $350 million that we provided last year.

In closing, I want to thank you for being here with me today, for joining us with a big delegation to work to address all of these important opportunities that our two nations have between us.

Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER ONYEAMA:  Thank you very much, Secretary.

Well, first of all, I’d like to say it’s been a great pleasure to be back in Washington to attend the Binational Commission between the United States and Nigeria.  This commission for us is a very important and valued framework for the cooperation between our two countries.  And as the Secretary has said, we came with a large delegation.  And of course, this showed the importance that we attach to our bilateral relations between our two countries.

And the themes of our Binational Commission really keys in to the vision of our president, President Muhammadu Buhari.  And so for us, it’s extremely important to develop the roadmap of that vision within the framework of our bilateral cooperation.

We – the three thematic areas that we dealt with, which were also mentioned by the Secretary – of course, security.  Security for us has become a major issue, an existential threat.  But of course, we know that terrorism is a global threat, and we appreciate and value very much the cooperation that we’ve received from the United States Government.  As the Secretary mentioned, there are some fighter planes, A-29 Super Tucanos, that we hope to be able to procure to help us on this fight.  But there are other areas – sharing of intelligence with our partners – that the United States has been supporting us in.  We appreciate very much that support.

Of course, we are faced with other security issues within Nigeria, and we know that some of them causes of disquiet amongst our partners, and we are addressing a number of those.  And in addressing those internal challenges, and especially in the security area, we absolutely make it clear and strive to uphold human rights.  We have the greatest interest in protecting the – and respecting the human rights of our population, and we do that.

Of course, the other area that we’ve discussed has been democracy and governance.  And as the Secretary has mentioned – and we thank again the United States for it – the sums of money that was restituted to Nigeria with the Bailiwick, it’s called, of Jersey and the United States, $321 million, we appreciate the effort in – and steps that have been taken in accessing these stolen funds.  And it’s an area that we prioritize in our country because huge resources have been siphoned out of our country.

And of course, in some of these cases it takes a bit longer than we would like to have these funds returned to our country, but we’re working very closely with the United States and we appreciate the support being provided in recovering and repatriating these illicit financial flow funds, and also, of course, as I said, the government of Jersey.

And corruption has been a real scourge for our country, and our president, President Muhammadu Buhari, has made the fight against corruption one of the real key areas and priorities of the government.  And it has not been easy, but it is one that we are determined to win.  And it impacts all aspects of our countries, and also recovering stolen funds is another area that we absolutely prioritize.

Then a third area, of course, that we discussed and that is part of the partnership that we have with the United States is on economic development.  We went through a recession in our country, and we have had what we would call a mono-economy, where we’ve essentially depended on one commodity, petroleum oil.  And as our president would say, once the price of oil came crashing, our economy went crashing with it.  So diversification of our economy has been something that our president has prioritized, and in particular agriculture.  And we’re trying to promote foreign direct investment and want much greater investments in our countries.

During the Binational Commission we looked at some of the statistics of the trade between the United States and Nigeria, and for two big countries it’s – it really is just too low.  And we honestly believe that there’s just so much more we can and we should be doing together.  Of course, there have been maybe some disincentives.  In the past, we have power challenges in our country, infrastructure, and of course, as I mentioned, governance has also been an issue.  But working with the United States, we believe that there’s a lot that the U.S. can do in also promoting and encouraging U.S. businesses to come and invest in Nigeria.  President Buhari has put in place measures to make Nigeria a more attractive place to invest in.  We have an Enabling Business Environment Council that’s been set up under the vice president, and we have sort of striven to move Nigeria up the World Bank rating on ease of doing business.  And we are moving in the right direction, and we feel that we are ready for business and certainly hope that, again, with our partners in the U.S. that we will be able to attract more investment.

We also want to export a lot more, developing our manufacturing and industrial base.  And I know, of course, the U.S. market is a very attractive market for us.  And you also have the African Growth Opportunities Act.  Again, we are very thankful for that mechanism and the facility that allows African countries to have some preferential access to the U.S. market.

And of course, there’s some challenges we face, and one of them is the phytosanitary challenges with regard – for our agricultural products.  And we hope to really work with the U.S. to work through that so that we don’t face these market access issues.

And of course, on the way here or just before coming, we were somewhat blindsided with the announcement of the visa restrictions by the U.S.  And of course, a lot of people back home in Nigeria understood it and put different interpretations and different spins on it.  But it’s essentially very straightforward.  It was very gratifying to come here, speaking to U.S. officials and to understand more clearly the reasoning behind this.

And essentially, there are security measure that were taken with regards to passports – electronic passports, lost and stolen passports, data being shared, criminal histories being made available and shared, known terrorists and suspected terrorist information also being made available.  And we’ve identified all those requirements and we had actually started working on all of them.  And we know – and the U.S. officials have also confirmed – that we have been able to tick most of those boxes.

With regards to lost and stolen passports, we’re putting in place the architecture that will now make that – the information and the data on that immediately available to the U.S. and all the member states, member countries of Interpol.  And we hope to have that up and running very soon and no longer going through third parties.  And hopefully once that has been achieved, we look forward to being taken off this visa restriction list.

But really have to say, Mr. Secretary, that we do appreciate very much and value very much the cooperation between our two countries in very important areas for us.  And the Binational Commission, we’ve identified a very clear basis to move that on and progress, and we really look forward to seeing a lot of gains, win-wins, for our two countries.

And last but not the least, to thank you again, Mr. Secretary.  We know you’ve just come back from a very long trip.  But nevertheless, you’ve taken the time to be here with us and afford us the opportunity to listen very attentively – and very sympathetically, I might say – to the points that we had to make.  And we had a excellent meeting before coming out here, and we’re very, very optimistic that we’ll build on this friendship between our two countries.  So thank you very much once again.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thank you.

FOREIGN MINISTER ONYEAMA:  Thank you.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  Thanks, everybody.

*Source State Department

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African Development Fund approves close to $35 million to the Government of Liberia for renewable energy
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

The ceremony was attended by officials from government, the Rural Renewable Energy Agency (RREA), the National Investment Commission (NIC), development partners and other stakeholders
MONROVIA, Liberia, February 4, 2020/ — The African Development Fund has approved a $34.74 million grant and loan to boost renewable energy access and promote an attractive investment climate in Liberia.

At a signing ceremony on 29 January in Monrovia, Dr. Orison Amu, the African Development Bank’s (AfDB.org) Country Manager in Liberia, and Samuel Tweah Jr., Liberia’s Minister of Finance & Development Planning, inked financing agreements for two projects. The ceremony was attended by officials from government, the Rural Renewable Energy Agency (RREA), the National Investment Commission (NIC), development partners and other stakeholders.

Under the first project, the Renewable Energy for Electrification in Liberia, more than $33 million, primarily in the form of a grant from the Bank and the Strategic Climate Fund’s Scaling-up Renewable Energy program, is to support renewable energy sector growth.

The funds will go towards construction of a mini dam on the St. John River in Nimba County in northeastern Liberia and the development of the Gbedin hydropower Falls with a total capacity of 9.34 megawatts of power, to be transmitted through an 8 km, 33kV line connecting 7,000 households.

The system would allow for grid expansion to isolated communities and support the connection of schools, health centers, businesses and industries to the national grid, increasing the rural electrification rate in Liberia.

Minister Samuel Tweah Jr. said the project, scheduled for completion by 2024, would help unlock one of the main constraints to economic development — access to a reliable, affordable and sustainable supply of electricity.

The second project – Support to Investment Promotion Agencies in Transition Countries – received approval for an additional $1 million to assist in promoting business investment in Liberia and building the capacity of the National Investment Commission. The funds will come from the Bank’s Transition Support Facility.

“As a Bank we understand the challenges faced by Government and the efforts underway to attract Foreign Direct Investment,” said Amu. “This project aims at contributing to those ongoing efforts by (the Liberian) government.”

As of January 2020, the Fund has 16 on-going and recently approved operations in Liberia with a total commitment of $413 million. The active portfolio spreads over six sectors covering infrastructure, predominantly roads, and energy. With this new signing, energy now accounts for 26% of the Fund’s total commitments in Liberia.
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Nominations open for African Youth Leadership Award 2020
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Global Youth Network an international non-profit, non-governmental youth development organization has announced opening of nominations for its 2020 edition of the African Youth Leadership award.

The initiative is intended to recognize innovative change makers from around the world. It will acknowledge, encourage, celebrate and authenticate the success and vitality of some astute young leaders by  giving them  the  opportunity  to gain  valuable exposure and well-deserved recognition for  their  national  and  global  ambitions and excellence.

Many outstanding young Africans continue to show resilience and are dedicated to solving global issues through local community action. They take an active role in their community whilst embodying the values of being responsible global citizens of the world to make our planet more equal, fair and sustainable.

The African Youth Leadership Award, one of its flagship programs is aligned to the UN Sustainable Development Goals in driving issues in support of action to protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity.

Nomination are being drawn from young influencers across Africa in areas of leadership, business, activism, innovation among others.

Categories

  1. Student Leader Award
  2. Outstanding Youth Organisation
  3. Youth Gathering / Event
  4. Young Entrepreneur Award
  5. Humanitarian Award
  6. Leadership in Mentorship Award
  7. Women in Leadership Award
  8. Youth Leader in Governance and Politics
  9. Emerging Leader Award
  10. Innovator Award.
  11. SDG Advocacy
  12. Climate Change & Environmental Sustainability
  13. Education and Learning
  14. Health and Well-being
  15. Gender and Diversity 
  16.  

Nominations can be made via globalyouthnet.org


Nomination link https://globalyouthnet.org/awards/

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Libya Is Being Torn Apart by Outsiders
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Vijay Prashad*

Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salame with Libyan Army Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.Photo credit Libya Live
Head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya Ghassan Salame with Libyan Army Commander Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.Photo credit Libya Live

Ghassan Salamé is the head of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya. He took over this job in 2017, six years after the catastrophic NATO war on Libya. What Salamé inherited was a country torn into shreds, two governments in place—one in Tripoli and one in Tobruk—and one civil war that had too many factions to name. For Salamé, who is from Lebanon, this kind of multidimensional conflict is not unfamiliar; nor is it peculiar to have several foreign countries intervene for their own narrow ends and thereby make peace impossible.

Last year, it became clear that the already chaotic Libya would slip into disaster. The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) lost control of the eastern half of the country, which had been seized by the Libyan National Army (LNA) of Khalifa Haftar. Backed by Turkey and Qatar, the GNA held on by a hair, while the LNA—backed by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Egypt—swept through the south of the country and threatened the capital of Tripoli. Salamé came to the United Nations on May 21, 2019, to beg for the UN to sanction countries that continued to deliver arms into Libya. “Without a robust enforcement mechanism, the arms embargo into Libya will become a cynical joke,” he said. “Some nations are fueling this bloody conflict.”

No one paid heed.

This year, on January 30, Salamé spoke to the UN to repeat his very strong remarks. “There are unscrupulous actors inside and outside Libya who cynically nod and wink towards efforts to promote peace and piously affirm their support for the UN,” he said. “Meanwhile, they continue to double down on a military solution, raising the frightening specter of a full-scale conflict and further misery for the Libyan people, more refugees, the creation of a security vacuum, and further interruptions to global energy supplies.”

All this has already happened. Salamé did not name who was arming whom, but everything is obvious. At the January 19 Berlin summit, the main countries who have a stake in Libya pledged to stop arms deliveries. But then, everything seemed to escalate. Turkish ships arrived in Libya with arms and men for the GNA. The Gabya or G-Class frigates—named Göksü and Gökova—of the Turkish navy came in broad daylight; Turkish tanks rolled into the streets of Tripoli. The number two man in Turkish intelligence—Sadık Üstün—has taken over Turkish operations in Libya.

Meanwhile, French intelligence—who appears to be backing the GNA—leaked information that the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohammed bin Zayed sent his own private Antonov An-124 to rearm Khalifa Haftar’s LNA. Emirati and Saudi support has increased, say Libyan government sources. French intelligence also says that Haftar has put in an order for Jordanian drones.

No wonder Salamé is frustrated.

5+5

During the Berlin summit, one concern was that no ceasefire could hold unless the two sides—the LNA and the GNA—would form a military commission. On February 3, in Geneva, the delayed 5+5 Libyan Joint Military Commission had its first meeting. Five senior officers from the GNA army and five senior officers of the LNA met with Salamé. Just a few days ago, Salamé went personally to al-Rajma to meet with Khalifa Haftar at his headquarters; a consequence of this meeting was that Haftar sent his five officers to Geneva.

This Geneva meeting is significant even amid the desolation because it is the first time such a senior-level meeting is being held since a meeting in Cairo in October 2018. That earlier meeting was a hallucination: the LNA’s team left the meeting to announce that from now on only the LNA would be Libya’s army, the militias—the backbone of the GNA support—would be disbanded, and the rump GNA forces would merge with the LNA. The talks broke down, began again, and then broke off. Egypt, which has supported Haftar since 2014, is being egged on by the Saudis and the Emiratis to subordinate the Muslim Brotherhood politicians in Tripoli. Nothing was going to come out of the Cairo process.

Nothing will come out of Geneva. Haftar says that the Libyan Political Agreement, which was signed in December 2015, expired in December 2017. He does not, therefore, accept the GNA’s Fayez Serraj as the head of the military. This means that they will remain at loggerheads. Neither will bend to the authority of the other.

Both Sides

It’s hard to say if the West is actually behind the GNA government in Tripoli. France has said that it supports the UN process, but then in April last year the French government prevented the European Union from condemning Haftar’s dash toward Tripoli. France’s oil holdings in eastern Libya have made it play both sides in the conflict (a Libyan military officer in the GNA tells me that France is assisting both the LNA and the GNA).

On the surface, the U.S. government has backed the UN process and agrees that the GNA government in Tripoli is the official Libyan government. The U.S. was ready to join a UN resolution condemning Haftar’s war in April, when U.S. President Donald Trump spoke to Egypt’s president and the UAE crown prince—both of whom convinced him that Haftar is a bulwark against terrorism. Trump then called Haftar and congratulated him for his “significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources.” They discussed—as the White House put it—their “shared vision for Libya’s transition.”

It is impossible for the UN to move an agenda if two important Western states who drove the NATO war against Libya in 2011 end up backing both sides; in fact, it is wrong to say that they back both sides, because by blocking condemnation of Haftar’s war, they back Haftar.

Neighbors

Before NATO began to bomb Libya in 2011, an African Union (AU) delegation sat on an aircraft in Addis Ababa, prepared to go to Tripoli and start negotiations to end the conflict there. But the French informed the AU that any peace mission was out of the question. French aircraft were on their way to bomb Tripoli. The AU and Libya lost their opportunity for another road. The NATO bombardment put paid to that, destroyed the country’s remaining institutions, and left it to slink into civil war.

Ten days after the Berlin meeting, the AU met in Brazzaville for a high-level meeting on Libya. The AU had not been initially invited to Berlin, but at the last minute, President Denis Sassou Nguesso of Congo-Brazzaville was invited, but he had no real role there.

Pressure on the AU has not come from within Libya but from some of its neighbors. These neighbors—Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger—have suffered from the spillover of this war, with al-Qaeda and ISIS growing in strength from southern Libya into these countries. Estimates suggest that more than 4,000 people were killed by these groups in the past year. The Sahel has become a membrane for arms, drugs, terrorists, and migrants—a zone of instability and danger.

The AU could not move an agenda. But at the AU meeting, the Algerians said that they would host a platform to continue to pressure for peace in Libya. Algeria and Tunisia are trying to develop their own outreach to the Libyan sides. Leaders from Turkey, Italy, and the various Libyan groups have come to Algiers to meet the new president, Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Tebboune likes the attention; protests in Algeria can be quelled by the warning that it should not be allowed to slip into the Libyan state. The more he talks about Libya, the more he justifies his own rule.

Head of the Libyan GNA Fayez al-Sarraj (L) and commander of the LNA Khalifa Haftar. (AFP)
Head of the Libyan GNA Fayez al-Sarraj (L) and commander of the LNA Khalifa Haftar. (AFP)

Tebboune’s view is to ignore Serraj and Haftar, to ignore the UN and the AU, and to turn to older institutions. He wants to convene a conference of Libyan tribal chiefs in Algiers. It is a sign of hopelessness that such a bizarre idea can be floated and taken seriously.

*This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.

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Togo’s Breaking Ground on West Africa’s Largest Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Project Sets it on a Path Towards Energy Transition
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Moyamed Bin Zayed Solar PV Complex is West Africa’s largest ongoing solar PV project

Image credit : AMEA Power -Togo UAE

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, February 4, 2020/ — The African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) addresses its heartfelt congratulations to the Republic of Togo for breaking ground on its 50MW Mohamed Bin Zayed Photovoltaic Solar Power Complex today in Blitta. The project was launched in presence of H.E. Faure E. Gnassingbe, President of the Republic of Togo, and Hussain Al Nowais, Chairman of AMEA Power, the company in charge of designing, financing, building, launching, operating and maintaining the facility.

 The Moyamed Bin Zayed Solar PV Complex is West Africa’s largest ongoing solar PV project, and supports Togo’s ambitions to increase its rural electrification rate to 50% by 2022, and 100% by 2030.

“AMEA Power is a foreign investor who understands Africa and has demonstrated a commitment to supporting local content wherever it operates,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber and CEO of the Centurion Law Group. “As public and private sector interest for Africa grows in the Middle East, such players are most welcomed. Their work in and with Africa contributes to the development of a sustainable and prosperous future.”

The project further confirms the growing presence of AMEA Power in the continent. The UAE-based company has become a serious investor in Africa’s energy sector and represents the growing appetite of private players and investors from the Middle East to invest in Africa. At the end of 2019, Saudi Arabia-based ACWA Power signed two long-term power purchase agreements for 250MW of solar PV projects in Ethiopia, while state-owned ADNOC is reportedly looking at several investments into the African upstream oil & gas sector.

*Africa Energy Chamber

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