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Next Steps to U.S.-Kenya Free Trade Agreement
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

A Kenya-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (FTA) would build on the success Kenya has experienced in producing and exporting a range of value-added products to the U.S. market

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 20, 2020/ — Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) (https://www.CorporateCouncilonAfrica.com/) in partnership with Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA) hosted a roundtable discussion with Kenyan and U.S. business leaders and government officials to explore how the private sector can support this bilateral effort and take full advantage of investment and trade opportunities that will arise from a Kenya-U.S. Free Trade Agreement.

This comes as a follow up to the recent visit of H.E. President Kenyatta to the United States, where the U.S. and Kenyan Government announced the launch of talks aimed at establishing a free trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries. If successful, it would be the first U.S. FTA with a sub-Saharan African nation and potentially a model the United States will use to enhance its trade and investment relationship with other African countries.

Ms. Florizelle Liser, President and CEO of the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA), noted that a Kenya-U.S. FTA could build on Kenya’s success in trading value-added products under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA). “It is also an opportunity” she said, “for the private sectors of both the U.S. and Kenya to deepen trade and investment ties in key sectors from energy to banking, construction, ICT/digital trade, health, manufacturing and services trade.”

Ms. Liser mentioned that the roundtable today was the first of many that CCA plans on hosting with KEPSA as a long-time partner. “We would like to use this platform to provide regular updates on ongoing negotiations, ensure private sector participation and support, and extract real time opportunities for businesses.”

KEPSA CEO, Ms. Carole Karuga, in her opening remarks emphasized the importance of growth of the FTA between Kenya and the USA stating that the increased trade opportunity for export and import would lead to growth of business.

Ms. Karuga pointed out that Kenya is the leader of the East African Community and went further to underscore that Kenya, among the businesses in Africa participating in global trade, is leading the pact.

“Kenya should draw lessons from Morocco on the challenges and opportunities that are emerging with the free trade agreement between them and the US in order to learn and eventually do better,” she urged.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, Kyle McCarter who spoke at the event said: “We look forward to working together to create a free-trade agreement that allows Kenyan and American businesses to benefit from increased access to each other’s markets and one where both our consumers will enjoy greater prosperity though expanded choice and competition within the marketplace. A successful U.S.-Kenya FTA will stand as a landmark for East Africa and for all of Africa.”

PS, State Department of Trade, Amb. Johnson Weru appreciated the synergy between Government and private sector, adding that the government is willing to walk this journey together with the private sector. “As we speak there is a government team that is also dissecting the deliberations that took place in Washington last week. Kenya has a great appetite for this opportunity.”

Dr. Ruth Kagia, Senior Advisor, in the Office of the President, appreciated the discussion that took place in Washington pointing out that this has the highest political support.

A Kenya-U.S. FTA would build on the success Kenya has experienced in producing and exporting a range of value-added products to the U.S. market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), while enhancing two-way trade, strengthening commercial cooperation, and spurring investment into key sectors.

KEPSA and CCA signed an MoU to promote mutual interests through cooperation in the promotion of trade and investment opportunities in Kenya. This emphasizes on the need to explore opportunities between Kenya and the USA on the backdrop of the commencement of the negotiations on the free trade agreement between Kenya and USA.

Free trade increases prosperity for the citizens of all participating nations by allowing consumers to buy more, better-quality products at lower costs. It drives economic growth, enhanced efficiency, increased innovation, and the greater fairness that accompanies a rules-based system. These benefits increase as overall trade exports and imports increases

Corporate Council on Africa (https://www.CorporateCouncilonAfrica.com/) is the leading U.S business association focused solely on connecting business interests between the United States and Africa. CCA uniquely represents a broad cross section of member companies from small and medium size businesses to multinationals as well as U.S and African firms .

*SOURCE Corporate Council on Africa (CCA)

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Gunmen attack Nairobi bound bus, kill 3 people
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Three people have been confirmed dead and scores injured after a bus they were travelling in was attacked by a group of gun-wielding thugs suspected to be Al-Shabaab militants.

The incident took place on Wednesday, February 19 at around noon between Ola Location and Sarman area in Mandera County on the Banissa Rhamu Road, north-eastern of Kenya. The bus belonging to Moyale Raha Company was heading to Nairobi from Mandera when the incident occurred.

It was reported that the insurgents ambushed the bus before ordering the driver to stop but he sped off prompting the attackers to spray the vehicle with bullets which deflated the tyres. The driver is among those injured. He was shot on the hand forcing him to verse off the road and stopped before scampering for safety. They sought refuge in the nearby thicket bush.

North-eastern regional commissioner Nicodemus Ndalana confirmed the incident.

“When the driver refused to stop, they followed it using three motorbikes as they spayed it with bullets indiscriminately,” Ndalana said.

Security operation to fish out the assailants from their hiding place has begun.

“As we speak our officers drawn from the military and the other officers are already at the area of scene. They are combing thickets where the militants are believed to be hiding. We have closed all their escape routes as we enhance our search for them,” added Ndalana.

A source from the bus company said the bus left Mandera at 7am (local time) and wondered why their bus was not accorded security escort.

The attackers have recently stepped up attacks in coastal and north eastern regions. In December 2019, the Al-Qaeda linked terrorists raided a construction site in Mandera and set ablaze four tractors.

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F.W. de Klerk Walking in the Shadows of Apartheid
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James N. Kariuki*

Nelson Mandela and F.W. de Klerk hold their hands high as they address a huge crowd of people in front of the Union Building after the first presidential inauguration on May 10, 1994. REUTERS/Juda Ngwenya

South Africa’s latest spectacle was last week’s ninety-minute delay of the presidential state of the nation address (SONA.) The contentious issue was that F. W. de Klerk, the country’s last apartheid state president, was seated in the public gallery of Parliament. His presence deeply bothered members of the red uniformed Economic Freedom Fighters, the EFF.    

Before President Cyril Ramaphosa started his address EFF leader, Julius Malema objected to de Klerk’s presence arguing that it imposed a contradiction to the extent that parliament is the ultimate embodiment of democracy. Yet, he continued, de Klerk was a criminal, a murderer and a racist to the core. The EFF would not share the same space with him in that forum; he needed to be evicted.

The underlying issue here is that South Africans do not agree on the simple question:  who/what brought about the demise of South Africa’s draconian system of apartheid thirty years ago? 

Obviously, Malema and his followers are reluctant to confer credit to de Klerk for the feat that required great skill, courage and strength. Having grown up in South Africa as a white person, he automatically benefitted immensely from apartheid as he climbed all the way to its top. In 1989 he assumed the presidency of that system of racial discrimination, white privilege and supremacy. It is hardly absurd that some still wonder: How could a man who benefitted so much from apartheid turn around and spearhead its demise?  

Given the choice, Julius Malema and his followers would rather attribute credit for the change to the African friends who extended a helping hand to the South African liberation forces that fought apartheid from inside and outside the country. Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, Cuba’s Fidel Castro and others, though generally portrayed as controversial, were friends-in-need to the extent that they were openly part of the global anti-apartheid forces.

For a while apartheid was distinctly under siege. Countless critics abhorred it on the grounds of racial solidarity. Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere spoke for many in stating that it was morally unacceptable to condemn a people “for being born who they were.” Against this attitude, anti-apartheid sentiments gathered momentum worldwide.

By the late 1980s, apartheid was clearly on the back foot. International sanctions were in place, domestic violence engineered by ‘clandestine’ liberation movements was rampant; the republic was in disarray. Why then didn’t the forces of liberation come to the rescue? Apartheid was armed to the teeth. Experts estimate that apartheid South Africa could have survived military intrusion for 5 to 10 years.  Would there be a South Africa left after ten years of constant warfare? In the days to come, Nelson Mandela himself reminded his people that they were not dealing with a defeated enemy.

There was only one person in South Africa (and the world) positioned to formulate and implement a non- violent route to fundamental change in apartheid South Africa.  That person was none other than F.W. de Klerk.  He opted for dialogue and negotiations rather than violence. As President he had an advantage over and above everybody else: he was positioned to communicate with the opposing forces from the ANC to the far-right Afrikaners who were most threatened by his project. 

Three months into his presidency, de Klerk launched his project. Nelson Mandela was released from prison, all banned political parties were legalized and secret delegations were dispatched out of the country to undertake secret talks with the exiled leaders of ANC leaders. 

To the EFF, conferring credit to de Klerk for the peaceful transfer of power was hardly a significant achievement. In a vindictive mindset, what matters is that de Klerk is alleged to have been a murderer and a subsequent apologist for apartheid. It was deceptive that he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Nelson Mandela (1993) for embarking on the democratic route.  Indeed, the logic continues, de Klerk should return the award to the Nobel Prize Committee and should be stripped of presidential benefits at home. 

But to the neutral observer, de Klerk’s greatness did not come from his assessment of apartheid’s qualification as a social-economic order. That greatness came from accepting that, no matter how enticing it seemed to the Afrikaner community, apartheid’s time had come to an end; it must be dismantled. Regardless of what drove de Klerk to action, he was successful. And ending apartheid peacefully was no easy matter. Those who remember those days insist that the alternative to talking and negotiations “was too ghastly to contemplate.” For this, South Africans owe de Klerk a debt of gratitude equivalent to what African-Americans owe Abraham Lincoln for abolishing slavery .

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

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Co-founders of the Pan African Film Festival, award-winning actor Danny Glover and Ayuko Babu Release Statement on Death of Ja’Net Dubois
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Venus Bernardo
PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Venus Bernardo

LOS ANGELES – Founded by award-winning actor Danny Glover, actress Ja’Net Dubois and Ayuko Babu, the 28th annual Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) is currently taking place at the Cinemark 15 Theatres, located at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza in Los Angeles.

PAFF is the largest Black film festival in the United States and the largest Black History Month cultural event in the nation. This year, it has selected a record-breaking 225 film, representing 52 countries in 26 languages. Plus, ArtFest will feature more than 100 fine artists from around the world. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has designated PAFF as an official qualifying film festival for live action and animation short films.

 STATEMENT FROM GLOVER AND BABU ON THE PASSING OF JA’NET DUBOIS:“We are shocked and stunned by the passing of one of the founders of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival, and one of the most important shining and guiding lights. Our sister, Ja’Net DuBois, epitomized a true, conscious Pan African artist who mastered the ability to be idealistic and practical at the same time. It’s rare to find a person — let alone an artist — who strikes a wonderful balance. 

If Madame DuBois had lived during the times of the great Pharaohs; or the great kingdoms of Timbuktu; or the great kingdoms in southern Africa,  such as the  Zimbabwe and Zulu kingdoms, she would have been known as a Jali or a Sangoma. In our contemporary times, she was able to use modern technology to spread her voice, her image, her spirit, her songs and our stories around the globe and touch us with humor, dignity and her ancient wisdom. 

A mighty giant tree has fallen in the forest today! With her death occurring in the midst of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival, she left us an important message — support cultural institutions like her beloved Pan African Film and Arts Festival, and it will point you toward liberation and freedom. If not  —  like the bluesman, Taj Maahal sings — you’ll stumble and fall. 
— co-founders Danny Glover and Ayuko Babu, on behalf of the staff of the Pan African Film and Arts Festival and the many thousands of people who attend it!

ABOUT THE PAN AFRICAN FILM FESTIVALGearing up for its 28th anniversary, the Pan African Film and Arts Festival (PAFF) is America’s largest and most prestigious Black film festival. Each year, it screens more than 150 films made by and/or about people of African descent from around the world. PAFF holds the distinction of being the largest Black History Month event in the country. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) has designated PAFF as an official qualifying film festival for live action and animation short films. 

PAFF is a non-profit corporation, founded in 1992 by award-winning actor Danny Glover (“The Color Purple,” “Lethal Weapon” movie franchise), Emmy Award-winning actress Ja’Net DuBois (best known for her role as Willona in the TV series, “Good Times”) and executive director, Ayuko Babu, an international legal, cultural and political consultant who specializes in Pan African Affairs. PAFF is dedicated to the promotion of ethnic and racial respect and tolerance through the exhibit of films, art and creative expression. 

The goal of PAFF is to present and showcase the broad spectrum of Black creative works, particularly those that reinforce positive images, help to destroy negative stereotypes and depict an expanded vision of the Black experience. PAFF believes film and art can lead to better understanding and foster communication between peoples of diverse cultures, races, ethnicities, and lifestyles in an entertaining way while at the same time, serving as a vehicle to initiate dialogue on the important issues of our times.

*Courtesy of KRPR Media 

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EAC hosts the 30th New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) Oversight Committee in Arusha
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
The meeting which took place on the 13th and 14th of February 2020, convened over 30 participants

ARUSHA, Tanzania, February 19, 2020/ — The New Partnership for Africa’s Development Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) held its 30th Oversight Committee meeting for the Special Fund at the headquarters of the East African Community, in Arusha, Tanzania.

The meeting which took place on the 13th and 14th of February 2020, convened over 30 participants, including donors providing financial support to the NEPAD-IPPF Special Fund, representatives of the African Development Bank, African Union Commission, African Union Development Agency (AUDA-NEPAD), Regional Economic Communities, Regional Power Pools, Corridors Authorities and Transboundary River basin organizations.

Members agreed to implement recommendations of NEPAD-IPPF’s independent evaluation held in 2019, and also approved operational reforms and the 2020 work program.

EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Planning and Infrastructure, Steven Mlote, thanked the Bank for its generous support over the past 20 years which he said had resulted in numerous achievements in various sectors including transport, energy, one stop border posts, ICT and Trans-Boundary Water Projects.

He said the recently completed Arusha-Tengeru dual carriageway and the Arusha by-pass had substantially improved traffic flow in the Arusha region while the counterpart section in Kenya – the Taveta-Mwatate road, has opened up a new and shorter trade and transport route for Rwanda and Burundi from the port of Mombasa.

“Along the Coast of East Africa, the transport corridor from Malindi in Kenya to Bagamoyo in Tanzania is due for upgrading with funds from the Bank. It is gratifying to note that its preparation was funded by the NEPAD-IPPF. This road will close the missing surface transport link between the EAC and SADC regions which traverses Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique,” he added.

The successes of initial Bank-funded multinational projects between Kenya and Tanzania provided the impetus to widen the geographical spread to other EAC partner states with current projects underway to link Tanzania to the three landlocked states of Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda.

“To date, NEPAD-IPPF has extended support to the EAC to the tune of almost $15 million for road and rail soft infrastructure projects over a period of 13 years,” said Mlote.

Also represented at the meeting were development partners KfW, and the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Business which both acknowledged the pivotal role NEPAD-IPPF continues to play in the infrastructure space on the continent. They equally recognized the need for more resources to enable the fund to achieve more. 

Laura González Villarejo representing the Ministry of Economy, Spain said in her statement that Africa is a priority region for Spain. She added that the Spanish Council of Ministers’ long term strategic plan for Africa demonstrated the interest of Spain in Africa.

Michael Andres from KfW, the Oversight Committee Chairman, reiterated the full support of Germany for the Fund. He thanked the NEPAD-IPPF team led by Mike Salawou, Bank Division Manager Infrastructure & Partnerships, for the good performance of the fund during 2019, for a well-organized meeting and the East African Community Secretariat for hosting the event. He emphasized the need for joint effort from all concerned parties including the RECs to seek funding for the facility.

AUC representative Mr. Yagouba Traore called upon AUC Member states to support the Fund.

Director of Infrastructure at the African Development Bank, Mr. Amadou Oumarou reaffirmed the institution’s commitment to mobilize more resources for NEPAD-IPPF and highlighted a Euro 3 million contribution received by the facility from the Spanish government in 2019. Infrastructure development would be more critical as the continent sought to make the African Continental Free Trade Area functional, he said.

“The facility has maintained a sustained drive towards building partnerships and can report on positive co-financing results. Notwithstanding, our efforts to secure more resources will continue through 2020, both from African governments and stakeholders as well as in collaboration with private sector companies and philanthropists,” Oumarou said.

Going forward, implementing cost recovery instruments to support Public Private Partnership projects to attract more private sector financing downstream would be an important focus for the NEPAD-IPPF, he added.

The meeting ended with a visit to the Namanga “One Stop Border Post” between Tanzania-Kenya. This project funded by NEPAD-IPPF, has helped increase trade and tourism and has also stimulated the regional economy within the East African Community.
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16 finalists announced for the Commonwealth Youth Awards 2020
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

Sixteen extraordinary individuals including innovators, activists and entrepreneurs from 12 countries have been shortlisted for this year’s Commonwealth Youth Awards.

A pan-Commonwealth judging panel met last week and selected the top individuals in each of the award’s four regional categories.

This year, the awards received more than 500 entries from 40 countries. Of those shortlisted, the top candidate from each region will be named as a regional winner. One of these four regional winners will become the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2020.

All 16 finalists will each receive a trophy, a certificate and £1,000 to expand the scope of their projects.

The regional winners will each earn a trip to London to attend the awards ceremony on 11 March 2020 and will receive £3,000. The overall pan-Commonwealth winner will take home a total of £5,000.

The judging panel included high commissioners, development experts and youth leaders from across the Commonwealth.

The awards recognise outstanding young people whose innovative projects have made a real impact in helping their countries achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The Commonwealth’s head of social policy development Layne Robinson said: “Their talent paired with tangible solutions sends a strong signal that they should be equal partners in the development agenda, not passive allies.

“With now only 10 years remaining to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Commonwealth takes great pleasure in bringing these young people’s invaluable efforts to the global stage so their leadership can inspire others and accelerate meaningful youth participation.”

The 2020 finalists, in alphabetical order by region and individual surname, are:

AFRICA AND EUROPE

Joshua Ebin (Nigeria)

Focus: SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production

Joshua is the founder of ‘Jumela Limited’; an agro-technology venture which specialises in the production of plant-based compost and novel agro-products for crop production farmers in Nigeria. The venture aims to tackle poor food waste management, pollution problems and low agricultural yield in the country. The venture has so far produced two metric tonnes of compost for sale to national clients and created jobs for more than 25 workers.

Galabuzi Brian Kakembo (Uganda)

Focus: SDG 8 – Decent Work and Economic Growth

Brian is the founder of ‘WEYE Clean Energy’; a social enterprise that produces and sells eco-friendly briquettes (blocks of compressed charcoal) made from biodegradable plastics and organic waste to home, schools and local institutions. Profits are used to fund community outreach programmes and training for young people and women in smart agriculture. The enterprise’s work has reached more than 800 women and young people of which 600 are now earning income from briquette making or plastic waste recycling.

Salvatory Kessy (Tanzania)

Focus: SDG 4 – Quality Education

Salvatory is the founder of ‘SmartClass’; an online platform which matches low-cost qualified and vetted tutors to students interested in learning basic skills such as numeracy, literacy, computing, agriculture and languages. The offline platform allows users to book face-to-face tuition through a text and the group tuition model allows learners to book tutors collectively and reduce costs. The platform has 5,000 active registered tutors and 20,000 learners in Tanzania.

Elizabeth Wanjiru Wathuti (Kenya)

Focus: SDG 13 – Climate Action

Elizabeth is the founder of the ‘Green Generation Initiative’ which focuses on promoting environmental education and food security in schools, particularly by encouraging a tree growing culture and through its ‘adopt a tree’ campaign. The initiative has so far helped plant 30,000 tree seedlings in more than 40 schools. In addition, more than 20,000 school children have been trained to be environmentally conscious across seven Kenyan counties.

ASIA

Sheikh Inzamamuzzaman (Bangladesh)

Focus: SDG 4 – Quality Education

Sheikh is the founder of ‘Study Buddy’; a start-up that provides an alternative learning platform to children with learning difficulties and their parents. Using interactive approaches such as augmented reality and gaming, the platform conducts personal assessments to match each child with unique learning methodologies and then connects the child with relevant learning tools and special needs professionals. The programme has so far supported more than 800 children and more than 1000 parents.

Vedant Jain (India)

Focus: SDG 4 – Quality Education

Vedant is a co-founder of the ‘Labhya Foundation’; a non-profit that aims to equip children from low socio-economic with critical social and emotional skills. In partnership with the national government and partnered non-governmental organisations, the foundation co-created the ‘Happiness Curriculum’ to educate children in schools on universal human values, emotional wellbeing and mindfulness, and to enhance their critical thinking and soft skills. The curriculum has so far positively impacted more than 1 million students in more than 20,000 schools in India.

Jaya Rajwani (Pakistan)

Focus: SDG 5 – Gender Equality

Jaya is the technical lead for ‘Aurat Raaj’; a social enterprise which creates technology-based products and services to educate girls on health, hygiene and safety. Jaya has led the development of the enterprise’s chat-bot, a tool which uses artificial intelligence to provide young girls with accessible and non-judgmental information on reproductive health. Jaya’s work has seen the ongoing development of the chat-bot to include local languages and videos while in-school training workshops have helped increase the tool’s reach and impact.

Hafiz Usama Tanveer (Pakistan)

Focus: SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation

Hafiz is the founder of ‘PakVitae’; a social enterprise that produces and supplies water treatment products to provide clean and accessible drinking water to rural communities and refugee camps in Pakistan. PakVitae has so far reached over 11,000 people including victims of the Kerala flood, Afghan refugee camps and remote schools in rural areas.

CARIBBEAN AND CANADA

Lalita Gopaul (Guyana)

Focus: SDG 13 – Climate Action

Lalita is an environmental sustainability activist and researcher by profession. Her research work covers eco-friendly agricultural methods, clean energy solutions and green technologies which have been used in Guyana. Her work has educated more than 100 farmers in the country to adopt more sustainable and environmentally-friendly farming methods to boost production and improve livelihoods in a changing climate. Lalita is also the founder of ‘Eco Club’ which mentors young people on environmental education. The club also runs coastal clean-up activities, tree planting sessions and climate-action walks.

Sowmyan Jegatheesan (Canada)

Focus: SDG 15 – Life on Land

Sowmyan is the founder of ‘SystemaNaturae.org’; one of the largest online information sources for global wildlife projects, research and datasets. The platform creates awareness and helps communities build resilience by better understanding global activities around climate change, migration patterns and human-wildlife conflict through the sourced material. The platform has reached more than 100 countries and has been used by research centres, think tanks and universities across the world.

Stephen McCubbin (Jamaica)

Focus: SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Stephen is the founder of ‘Cheer Sensation JA’; a youth non-profit which works to foster holistic development through the sport of cheer. Through its cheerleading programmes and competitions, the organisation provides a safe space for children and adults to become physically active whilst working as a violence prevention tool in volatile communities in Jamaica. Stephen’s work has enabled him to attract international cheerleading bodies to Jamaica to provide technical support to the organisation, further increasing awareness and support for the sport.

Samuel Neil (Jamaica)

Focus: SDG 4 – Quality Education

Samuel is the founder of ‘The Aviation Club of Jamaica’; a national initiative which encourages young people to enter the aviation sector. The programme provides student members with scholarship opportunities and training programmes through its partnerships with training institutions. The programme has introduced hundreds of local young people to the world of aviation and supported many to go on to become qualified aviation professionals.

PACIFIC

Sagufta Janif (Fiji)

Focus: SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production

Sagufta is the founder of ‘The Fusion Hub’; a social enterprise focused on addressing a lack of access to proper waste disposal methods in remote islands by upcycling waste materials and selling them as furniture, home items and accessories. The Fusion Hub has so far upcycled more than 400 tonnes of waste selling hundreds of items to clients. The Hub also employs single mothers giving them a sustainable livelihood and has helped set up two formal businesses that are now part of its supply chain.

Broderick John Mervyn (Fiji)

Focus: SDG 16 – Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Broderick is the current President of ‘Ignite4Change’; a youth-led initiative which works to empower and educate underprivileged women and youths to grow inclusive governance, equality, participation and cultural preservation within local communities. The initiative runs several programmes including on public speaking training, local governance awareness, climate change advocacy, youth leadership and the protection of the Rotuman Language and Heritage.

Rinesh Sharma (Fiji)

Focus: SDG 2 – Zero Hunger

Rinesh is the founder of ‘Smart Farms Fiji’; an initiative that aims to provide a sustainable food production system by growing fruits and vegetables in a controlled environment all year round. The Smart Farm system’s produce is monitored through smartphone technology and saves up to 70 per cent more water than traditional farming methods. Smart Farms Fiji also runs the country’s first hydroponics course that teaches local communities to embrace modern farming practices.

Fusi Masina Tietie (Samoa)

Focus: SDG 5 – Gender Equality

Fusi is the founder of ‘Her Voice’; an online initiative that aims to empower young women in the local community by sharing their personal stories through art and videography. The project works in partnership with volunteer photographers, make-up artists, bloggers and fashion designers to curate each young woman’s story and share to Her Voice’s online community. Fusi also provides national training to young women on leadership and gender equality.

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Paradigm Initiative Selects Inaugural Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) Fellow
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
Folasewa Olatunde

Accra – Ghana,  February 18, 2020 – Folasewa Olatunde, a second-year doctoral student at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, USA, has been selected  as the pioneer fellow for the newly introduced Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) at Paradigm Initiative. 

“We are pleased to announce the selection of Folasewa Olatunde, and we’re also excited about the quality of applications the fellowship, though just starting, attracted,” said ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative. 

“There are both enormous challenges and opportunities for realizing the ambitious task of creating an inclusive, healthy, safe and open Internet in the coming decade for all Africans and we hope this fellowship will offer a space for big thinking, evaluation of digital rights and digital inclusion programs, and future-proofing of ecosystem activities,” Mr. Sesan added.

Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab (DRILL) is Paradigm Initiative’s project to host innovative learning around digital rights and inclusion in Africa.

Headquartered in Lagos, Nigeria, the learning lab serves as a space for both practice and reflection, aimed to involve and connect different stakeholders and create dialogue amongst researchers, social innovators, policymakers and actors, the private sector, as well as civil society.

Learning activities will take place at the lab in order to evolve new thinking on digital rights and inclusion strategy for Africa. There are a variety of activities that will take place, including but not limited to, focused future-facing research; presentations; ecosystem meetings and discussions focused on digital rights and/or inclusion hosted within the ecosystem; and general communication about the lab’s activities.

Meanwhile, the Digital Rights and Inclusion Media Fellowship, another Paradigm Initiative project, has attracted 116 applications from 19 countries.  This is according to a statement released by Paradigm Initiative, a social enterprise working on digital rights and inclusion in Africa.

The pioneer Digital Rights and Inclusion Learning Lab fellow, Folasewa Olatunde, is a second-year doctoral student at North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, studying Communication Rhetoric and Digital Media. She is a communication and digital media practitioner, researcher and instructor. She is interested in researching the intersections of the internet, social media and mobile phones – and other digital technologies –  in (not) empowering the global south.

Her current research focuses on evaluating informal and formal basic digital skills interventions in Nigeria and how their functions can be improved. Fola’ believes that more social science research should be policy-driven. She is passionate about how Nigerians across different age groups can (continue to) learn to use digital technologies to improve their socio-economic conditions.

About Paradigm Initiative

Paradigm Initiative(PIN) is a social enterprise that builds ICT-enabled support systems and advocates for digital rights in order to improve the livelihoods of under-served young Africans. The organisation’s digital inclusion programs include a digital readiness school for young people living in under-served communities (LIFE) and a software engineering school targeting high potential young Nigerians (Dufuna). Both programs have a deliberate focus to ensure equal participation for women and girls. 

The digital rights advocacy program is focused on the development of public policy for internet freedom in Africa, with offices in Abuja, Nigeria (covering the Anglophone West Africa region); Yaoundé, Cameroon (Central Africa); Democratic Republic of Congo (East Africa) and Lusaka, Zambia (Southern Africa). 

Paradigm Initiative has worked in communities across Nigeria since 2007, and across Africa from 2017, building experience, community trust and an organisational culture that positions us as a leading social enterprise in ICT for Development and Digital Rights on the continent. Paradigm Initiative is also the convener of the Digital Rights and Inclusion Forum (DRIF), a pan-African bilingual Forum that has held annually since 2013. 

For any inquiries about this press release, please send an email to media@paradigmhq.org 

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Nigerian Ambassador Introduces Coronavirus Relief and Evacuation Plan To Help All African Nationals Trapped In Wuhan
February 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

Some government officials laughed when asked to help the estimated 5,000 African nationals who are presently stranded in Wuhan, due to the deadly coronavirus outbreak. However, The Organization for Leadership and Strategy Development (OLSD), a Nigerian NGO founded by Ambassador Collins Nnabugwu of Lagos, Nigeria, took serious action. Action that is now garnering attention across the entire continent of Africa. 

“We at OLSD commit to making sure that all Africans trapped and locked down in Wuhan receive proper assistance and medical care during our intervention. We will continue to send daily donations of food and supplies and do all we can to help until this crisis ends” stated Mr. Nnabugwu. 

Since learning of this issue less than a week ago, the ambitious Global Goodwill Ambassador and his partners, Biz Africa Shanghai, The Star Factor Effect, The Center for Truth and Healing, and Group Shumba, have made it their mission to bring awareness to the victims’ plight. The conglomerate is working overtime to raise funds to help pay for food, supplies, and eventually their evacuation. 

With the assistance of Biz Africa Shanghai, a private company based in China, OLSD has been successful at making direct contact with local government officials in Wuhan to ensure the delivery of donations. OLSD has confirmed that the first shipment of food and supplies has arrived as of yesterday and is currently being distributed to those in need. 

African nationals trapped in Wuhan are encouraged to register at bit.ly/Africansin Wuhan to receive alerts, assistance, and additional information. Individuals, organizations, and companies who would like to be a part of OLSD’s mission are welcomed to donate on OLSD’s website or email OLSD2020@gmail.com for sponsorship details. 

To learn more about The Organization of Leadership and Strategy Development (OLSD), visit https://lida.global or call Ambassador Collins Nnabugwu +234 902 978 0361

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ENGIE Africa brings Off-Grid Power to over 4 Million People, establishing its Position as Market Leader on the Continent
February 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

ENGIE has achieved this through the development of its three A2E off-grid energy solution companies: Fenix International, ENGIE Mobisol, and ENGIE PowerCorner

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 18, 2020/ — ENGIE Africa (http://www.ENGIE-Africa.com) is pleased to announce that it has successfully accelerated the Access to Energy (A2E) strategy that it launched in 2018. ENGIE has achieved this through the development of its three A2E off-grid energy solution companies: Fenix International, ENGIE Mobisol, and ENGIE PowerCorner.

With these three innovative entities, ENGIE Africa is bringing decentralized electricity to more than four million people in nine countries (Uganda, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Nigeria, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, and Mozambique). This growth is in line with the Group’s ambition to reach millions of households and businesses with clean, distributed energy across Africa.

Fenix, which was acquired by ENGIE in 2018, expanded its operations significantly in 2019. To date, it has sold more than 700,000 solar home systems that power 3.5 million people in rural communities across six countries. Now employing 1,200 full-time team members, Fenix launched sales in Mozambique in June 2019. In the last month, the company has reached milestones in multiple markets, with 150,000 solar home systems sold in Zambia, 50,000 sold in Benin, and 20,000 sold in Côte d’Ivoire.

ENGIE complemented its range of solar home system solutions by finalizing the acquisition of Mobisol in October 2019. The higher capacity (40–200W) of ENGIE Mobisol’s products offers consumers access to modern energy services and appliances to establish solar-powered small businesses. ENGIE Mobisol has operations in Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya, and has installed more than 150,000 solar home systems, providing clean and reliable energy to 750,000 people and counting in East Africa.

Mini-grid developer and operator ENGIE PowerCorner now has 13 mini-grids in operation across two countries (Tanzania and Zambia), serving 15,000 beneficiaries. It is constructing new mini-grids in Uganda (in joint venture with Equatorial Power), Benin and Nigeria, with the aim to triple its number of customers this year. ENGIE PowerCorner focuses on powering income-generating activities and productive usages, thus contributing to the increase of the economic welfare of its rural customers.

Fenix’s inclusive solar home systems for household usages, combined with ENGIE Mobisol’s focus on larger households and small business appliances, together with ENGIE PowerCorner’s focus on income-generating activities and small-scale industries, enables ENGIE to offer affordable energy products and to extend its customer base from rural to urban areas.

Yoven Moorooven, CEO of ENGIE Africa, says: “We strongly believe in the huge potential of the off-grid electrification sector and that it will be instrumental in rapidly and cost-effectively bridging energy gaps across Africa. We will build upon our successes to sustain and meet our long-term ambition of impacting tens of millions of lives across Africa. ENGIE has an important role to play in industrializing and scaling up the off-grid solar business. We are keen to offer the lowest cost and best quality Access to Energy solution that addresses our customers’ needs.”

ENGIE is expanding its offerings beyond electricity provision, integrating cost-effective and tailor-made solutions “as a service” to accompany customers every step of the way. This expansion links energy access to other products and services: internet, water, productive appliances, clean cooking, financial services and products.

Universal electrification is the seventh of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals that the global community has committed to achieve by 2030. ENGIE is confident that universal access to energy is achievable in the foreseeable future, through smart investments in a combination of national grid extension, solar home systems and mini-grids.

About ENGIE Africa:
ENGIE (https://www.ENGIE.com/) is the largest independent electricity producer in the world, and one of the major players in natural gas and energy services. The Group has more than 50 years of experience on the African continent and has the unique ability to implement integrated solutions all along the energy value chain, from centralized electricity production to off-grid solutions (solar home systems, mini-grids) and energy services. ENGIE Africa employs nearly 4,000 people, and has 3.15 GW of power generation capacity in operation or construction. It is a leader in the decentralized energy market, providing clean energy to more than four million people through domestic solar installations and local microgrids.

*SOURCE ENGIE


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UN Secretary General demands investigation into killing of civilians, including Children, pregnant women in Cameroon’s North West Region
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

UN Secretary General, Antonio Gutterres (right) pictured here with Cameroon President Paul Biya, has on several occasions made known his readiness to mediate a dialogue and find solution to Anglophone Crisis ( photo: prc.com)

Antonio Gutterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, UN has expressed concerns over the killing of civilians in the Ngarbuh, a tiny locality in Cameroon’s North West Region.

In a message posted February 17, Antonio Gutterres called on the government of Cameroon to conduct a thorough investigation into the incident that caused the lives of over thirty-two civilians among them children and pregnant women, and ensure those responsible are held accountable.

“The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over reports about the killing of civilians, including children, in an attack on the village of Ngarbuh in the north-west Region of Cameroon on 14 February.  He extends his deepest condolences to the families and calls on the Government of Cameroon to conduct an investigation and to ensure that those responsible are held accountable,” a section of his statement read.

Reiterating he is ready to work with the government of Cameroon and separatist leaders to proffer a solution to the country’s simmering three-year conflict, the UN scribe once again urged armed actors to refrain from attacking civilians and respect international human rights laws signed and ratified by Cameroon.

“The Secretary-General calls on armed actors to refrain from attacks against civilians and to respect international humanitarian and international human rights law.”

Last Friday, we should recall, pro-government forces stormed the locality of Ngarbuh-Ntumbaw in Ndu sub-division of the North West region in Cameroon in search for separatist fighters who were believed have camp in the rural setting.

The soldiers are reported to have engage in crossfire confrontation with the armed separatist as they tried to flee. While some of the villagers were reportedly shot dead in separate locations in the enclaved village, others, were burnt alive when their homes were set ablaze.

In a communique, the government of Cameroon said all those killed were mistaken for separatist fighters when they open fire to defend themselves against raining bullets. There has been an outcry with many insisting that such brutal attacks and mass murder is not uncommon with the military in Cameroon, referencing the 2018 killings in Santa sub division where over 30 mostly youths were slain allegedly by the same military. 

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Local content and market-driven policies set to shape energy investments in Senegal as African Energy Chamber concludes working visit in Dakar
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber with Senegalese President Macky Sall
NJ Ayuk of the African Energy Chamber with Senegalese President Macky Sall

The African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts

DAKAR, Senegal, February 18, 2020/ — As Senegal’s first oil and gas projects are under-development and first production is expected within two years, the African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) conducted this week a working visit in Dakar to promote investment into the country and support local content development and capacity building.

Led by Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk, the African Energy Chamber’s delegation advocated for local content as a pillar of the industry’s sustainability efforts and offered all its support to continue pushing and financing Senegal’s initiatives to build capacity and build a new generation of Senegalese oil & gas workers and managers. “Oil companies have an unmatched ability, and a profound responsibility, to support H.E. Macky Sall’s bold vision in shaping an economy that works for all Senegalese and preserves their freedoms,” said NJ Ayuk.

The team met with H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal; H.E. Mouhamadou Makhtar Cissé, Minister of Petroleum and Energies, Ousmane Ndiaye, Permanent Secretary of COS-Petrogaz; Aguibou Ba, Director General of the National Institute for Petroleum and Gaz (INPG) and the majority of the oil and gas operators and service companies.   

“Moving closer and closer to becoming a large-scale producer of oil and gas, Senegal’s story is an inspiring one. And, as a hotspot for oil and gas development, it is only fitting that the nation cements market-driven local content frameworks that are rooted in capacity building and are driven by the determination to transform practices in its energy sector,” declaired Nj Ayuk. “That is why initiatives such as the INPG are important in ensuring that industry revenue benefits the state while also guaranteeing employment for citizens. The INPG is a true social contract bringing the private and public sector together to plan for a prosperous future for Senegal,” he added.

The Chamber’s working visit coincided with that of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, during which state-owned SENELEC and GE signed an agreement for the development of 300MW of gas-to-power capacity, the modernization of Senegal’s power plants and the creation of a maintenance centre in Senegal. In line with the US’ interests to increase cooperation with Africa, the Chamber reiterated the industry’s call for continued improvements in the ease of doing business and better operating environments for foreign investors.

“President Trump dispatching Secretary of State Pompeo and US companies to Senegal is a brilliant move. US companies understand that investing in Senegal is good business and a sustainable corporate strategy. President Macky Sall’s government has built on positive trends to maximize foreign investments. This includes a commitment to transparency, improving safety and security, strengthening the macroeconomic environment, investing in quality education and skill development in science, technology and innovation, and avoiding the Dutch disease,” added Ayuk.

Last year, the African Energy Chamber and Centurion Law Group hosted a local content forum in Senegal, calling attention to local content development in the country. The ongoing visit serves as a follow up and a showcase of the Chamber’s continued commitment to the growth and development of African economies through ensuring that Africa’s natural resources benefit Africa’s people first.

“Senegal’s emergence as a key player in the oil and gas industry has been remarkable and, as this growth continues to surge, it is important that local communities have a seat at the table, It is also important that we continue to create an enabling environment investors and the oil sector. Cutting unnecessary red tape and fast-tracking project approvals will give the energy operators a boost,” said NJ Ayuk. “This, however, is a goal that is achievable only through the collaboration of the private and public sector. Local content is value creation and it is pertinent that Senegal put in place policies and frameworks that will see the its people benefit from its hydrocarbon industry,” he added.

Last month, Woodside Energy got the green light for its $4.2bn Sangomar oil project, Senegal’s first offshore oil venture where first production is expected in 2023, with a capacity to reach 100,000 bopd. The Phase 1 development concept for the Sangomar field is a stand-alone FPSO facility with subsea infrastructure. Meanwhile, works are ongoing at the Greater Tortue Ahmeyim FLNG project, whose phase 1 will see the commissioning of a 2.5 mtpa facility by 2022. This month, Kosmos Energy, BP, Petrosen and SMHPM signed an agreement with BP Gas Marketing for the supply of 2.45 mtpa of LNG over 20 years.

The MSGBC Basin has become sub-Saharan Africa’s hottest exploration frontier. Senegal is currently holding a licensing round to further attract investment into its acreages and boost existing reserves. The round is expected to generate tremendous interest from foreign investors and further confirm Senegal as a new African energy leader.

The African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) works with indigenous companies throughout the continent in optimizing their reach and networks. Our partnerships with international dignitaries, executives, and companies allow for relevant servicing to other international entities looking to operate within the continent.

The African Energy Chamber brings willing governments and credible businesses together to continuing growth of the African energy sector under international standard business practices.

*Source African Energy Chamber
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Leave Rwanda-Uganda matter to two Heads of State to decide
February 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M. Mupenda*

Ugandan President Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda pose for pictures after signing the MoU to imprvove relations between both countries in August 2019. Photo Credit East African
Ugandan President Museveni and Paul Kagame of Rwanda pose for pictures after signing the MoU to imprvove relations between both countries in August 2019. Photo Credit East African

There are dates you can hardly forget in the event which unfolded between the two countries, Rwanda-Uganda when their communique was made official, those are, an advisory note issued to advise Rwandans not to cross the border to Uganda, Luanda signing pact which never yielded the positive results and the release, deportation of Rwandans who were incarcerated in Uganda’s military cells.

These dates with their happening could always be abrupt to the citizens of both countries and some put a smile on them as they wait to see the outcomes of pact  but of course free movement to both citizens is paramount and they would mostly wish to see pact signed in Luanda being implemented as peaceful and diplomatic solution to the row that paralysed business, took peoples’ lives, separated family and friends and made life a misery to both countries’ ordinary citizens.

In the move of having the row ended, Uganda made a surprise towards early this year and released nine detainees who were considered political and accused of espionage to Uganda. This political move ignited various reactions on twitter, Facebook and in the local media. Some activists in Uganda protested the move by calling on Uganda’s government to avail justice to those who believed these people had committed crimes against humanity such as involvement in killing many Rwandans who had fled from Rwanda.

Self worth initiative, the non profit organisation headed by Ms. Prossy Bonabana executive director was the first to protest and others brought it on facebook and twitter supporting the move of which Rwanda citizens and officials including Minister of East African affairs Olivier Nduhungirehe rebuffed the protest and called it off saying that Ms. Prossy Bonabana  is serving Rwanda National Congress, the movement Rwanda calls a terrorist group headed by Former Rwanda chief of staff General Kayumba Nyamwasa who currently lives in South Africa.

Ms. Boonabana argued that some of these victims have their husbands, sons and relatives still incarcerated in Kigali safe houses without trial or prisons serving life sentences on politically motivated charges adding that many Rwandan refugees in Uganda have been living in fear.

“It was at the height of cries and quest for justice in 2017 that the relatives of victims took a leading role to voice out and condemn these aggressive activities by the Rwandan security agencies. These Rwandan agents had claimed the lives of many people and had pushed several others to live in constant fear,” she stressed.

Since 2017, the victims have eagerly waited for justice to finally prevail through court systems, only this week to receive a shock of their lives that the government was withdrawing criminal charges against the seven hardcore Rwandan intelligence agents. This, we strongly condemn as miscarriage of justice,” she said.

Despite of the move igniting mixed reactions, most of us, friends, analysts applauded it. And this is because, we were waiting to see the row that has put people’s lives at  risk get to an end.

According to Dr. Frederick Goloba-Mutebi, political scientist and an anthropologist, the decision to release them was political, in the interest of repairing relations. On those grounds alone, it was right. The tensions are not good for either country.

But also we have to establish whether the Government of Uganda withdrew charges or lost interest in the case. Whatever it did, however, raises questions about whether it had prima facie evidence against them or not, given they were in custody for 2 years or more.

They can sue, and that will be good, if they have grounds for doing so. It’s their right, if their rights were violated.

Rwanda Ambassador Frank Mugambage said it was (only) a step in the right direction. That suggests it is not enough.

While exchanging chats with friends and family advising them to go ahead to visit families, friends and transact business with Uganda since I knew the borders were opened, to many people, this was a dream which never came true when  Rwanda’s Head of State told the diplomats that he is not about to tell his citizens to return to uganda, because he has no control over their safety while there. 

Addressing more than 60 diplomats at the Presidency in Kigali on Wednesday evening, Kagame said there were still hundreds of Rwandans in Ugandan jails and that telling his people they were safe in Kampala would be a lie.

This perhaps gave the clearest hint on the progress of the efforts to resolve the dispute between Rwanda and Uganda, indicating the two countries are far from reaching a resolution.

Kagame told Rwandans “just stop going there because if you go there, I have no control. They may arrest you, and your families will come to me and say you have been arrested. And there is nothing I can do about it.”

He revealed that he and Museveni will be going back to Luanda, Angola soon to review the progress in implementing what was agreed in the first meeting in August last year clarifying that the issue is between him and Museveni. 

Note that ad hoc commissions failed to reach a solution after meeting in Kigali and Kampala and resolved to consult presidents

It is also said that what’s happening between the two countries is an issue between their two first families

The disappearance of ordinary citizens has not ceased to happen as Uganda citizens keep asking Uganda government about the citizens being killed while trying to cross the border and one of the Ugandan, Kigali based engineer who went missing end of last year.

It is a year now since Rwanda decided to close the Gatuna border with Uganda.

Second Luanda meeting resolutions which set 21st February for next meeting at Gatuna, and this gives hope to many that the border would be opened right away.

*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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