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Safaricom appoints first Kenyan CEO
October 25, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

Peter Ndegwa

Safaricom has named Peter Ndegwa as its new Chief Executive Officer effective April 1, 2020 in replacement of the acting of the current CEO Michael Joseph.

“Safaricom PLC board of directors has resolved to appoint Mr. Peter Ndegwa as the company’s chief executive effective April 1, 2020. Peter brings a wealth of experience in General  Management, Commercial and Business  Strategy, Sales and Finance  Operations, having spent over  25 years in various roles within the Financial Services and Fast-Moving  Consumer  Goods (FMCG) sectors in Africa and Europe,” read a statement from Safaricom.

Joseph was appointed by the Safaricom board members after the demise of the former CEO Bob Collymore in July. Ndegwa is the current Managing Director of Diageo Continental Europe where he runs the operations of the in 50 countries in Western and Eastern Europe, Middle East and North Africa.

Previously, the Bachelor of Degree holder in Economics from the University of Nairobi and an MBA the London Business School served as a CEO in Guinness Nigeria PLC Guinness Ghana Breweries. He was reported to have increased the company’s revenues by double digit via investment in people, launching new products and restructuring businesses.

The Certified Public Accountant and a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya also served as CEO, group strategy director, group finance officer and sales director at East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL).

He was also a sales director at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a global consulting firm where he started his career.

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Rights body calls for unconditional release of Burundian journalists
October 24, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali

Photo credit Iwacu Media Group

Human Rights Watch has called for the immediate and unconditional release of four Burundian journalists and their driver arrested on October 22, 2019 while they were on reporting trip, following a rebels attack in Bubanza province, the west of the central African Country.

The journalists working for Iwacu Media Group had travelled to Bubanza to report on the fighting between Burundian armed forces and assailants that reportedly came from the neighboring DR Congo earlier this week amid increasing security concerns, violence ahead of 2020 elections.

According Human Rights Watch, the journalists had informed the authority of their plan to the area but, a police chief of operations arrested them while they were doing their jobs.

“Journalists play a vital role shedding light on incidents of public interest and should not be prosecuted for legitimate work,” said Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch in a statement released on Wednesday 23, 2019. “The authorities should reverse the current crackdown on media freedom and, as a first step, immediately release the journalists and their driver who are being detained for doing their jobs.”

The four journalists – Christine Kamikazi, Agnès Ndirubusa, Egide Harerimana, and Térence Mpozenzi – and their driver, Adolphe Masabarakiza, were arrested in Musigati around midday and are being held in the Bubanza police station. On October 23, they were questioned by a judicial police officer at the police station in the presence of their lawyer. Iwacu media group said they have not yet been charged.

The rights body said Burundian government pressure on the news media has been growing. The National Communication Council (CNC) suspended the Voice of America (VOA) in May 2018 and renewed the suspension in March 2019. It also withdrew the British Broadcasting Corporation’s (BBC) operating license in March, who closed down their office in Burundi in July.

“These draconian moves were among a series of government attempts to prevent the world from knowing about serious human rights abuses happening in Burundi.” Said Human Rights Watch in its statement released from Nairobi, Kenya.

Since 2015 political crisis that followed President Pierre Nkurunziza’announcement to run for a controversial third term, hundreds of Burundian journalists fled Burundi and a number private radio stations have been closed.

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65th ACPHR: Gambia’s VP Says Gov’t Committed to Upholding Democratic Principles
October 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Dr. Isatou Touray, Vice President of The Gambia

Dr. Isatou Touray, Vice President of The Gambia has reiterated government commitment to upholding the principles of good governance as major policy objectives.

“We stand firm in our conviction but without good governance there cannot be a durable peace for economy growth, for us good governance bring peace and it is therefore the fundamental pillar upon which other success are made it provide a conducive socially and politically environment that allows government to put in place policies and strategies that upholds human rights and justice for economic growth and give us the ability to provide basic services to the people,” Dr. Touray said during  the opening ceremony of 65th Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACPHR) on 21st October, 2019  at Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.

ACHPR on 21st October- 10 November, 2019 has brought together state parties, civil society member and human right defenders across the world to discuss on human rights and development across Africa. It is been held under the theme: “The year of refugees, returnees and internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to forced Displacement in Africa”

She pointed that within two and half years the government has made some progress into civil and political rights and there has been an improvement in restoring the rights of people in the Gambia to participate in political discussion, to exercise the rights to freedom of expression, right to dignity, life, integrity, security and access to justice and equal protection before the law.

 On Gambia, she said after witnessing difficult periods of human rights violations for the past 22 years the new government of The Gambia has usher in significant and meaningful reforms to transforms the Gambia from a dictatorship to a democracy where the rule of law and constitutionalism will flourish.

“The government priorities a new and resilient architecture to uphold  the highest standards when it comes human rights justice and rule of law premise on creating a Gambia free from arbitrary arrest, police brutality, suppression of the press and detention without trial among other forms of violations,”

She added that it is for these reasons that the new administration of The Gambia has focus a substantial part of its attention on limited resources on governance as a means on attainment of sustainable peace in the country.

Soyata Maiga, chairperson of ACHPR Okayed the transition process that has put the tiny West African on the path to democracy.

She commended Gambia government for facilitating the participation of a good number of human rights defenders coming from various corners of the globe.

Hannah Forster, Executive Director African Centre for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), explained that eight country-resolutions were adopted as well as four thematic resolution and three recommendations.

In reviewing the human rights conditions on the continent, she said the NGOs Forum took note on the ongoing challenges Africans are confronted with when it comes to enjoying human rights.

She further explained that in many African countries, human rights violations of freedom of assembly and association remain a major cause for concern, citing Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Egypt, Republic of Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritania, South Africa, Togo and Zimbabwe.

She also deplored that there are some states that have never submitted a report since the ratification of the African Charter in 1980.

“We call on the Commission to encourage the submission of states report,” she voiced out.

 More than 200 none-governmental organisations coming from 36 countries, held 10 plenary panels and 13 special-interest groups, covering the state of human rights on the African continent.

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How Europe’s Greedy Lending to Africa Is Driving the Migration Wave That Fuels the EU’s Xenophobic Politics
October 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Vijay Prashad*

Cameroon’s President Paul Biya (2L) speaks with French President Emmanuel Macron (C) next to Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe (L), Luxembourg’s President Xavier Bettel (3L), Gabon’s President Ali Bongo (3R), Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame (R) as leaders pose for a family photo during the 5th African Union – European Union (AU-EU) summit in Abidjan, on November 29, 2017..Ivory Coast President opened a Europe-Africa summit on November 29, calling for “all urgent measures” to end migrant abuses, including slave trading in Libya. / AFP PHOTO / ISSOUF SANOGO (Nov. 28, 2017 – Source: AFP)

If you ask an African migrant in Europe who came across the Mediterranean Sea in a boat if they would make the journey again, most of them would say “yes.” Many of them had been on vans and trucks that took them across the dangerous Sahara Desert, and many of them had beenon board vessels that struggled to get across the choppy waters. They might have seen their fellow migrants die of thirst or of drowning, but none of that halts their conviction that they’d cross the sands and the seas again.

Harsh treatment by European border guards and an overwhelming experience of racism inside European society do not bring regret or suggest that they would not do it again.

“It was all to earn money,” said Drissa from Mali. “Thinking of my mom and my dad. My big sister. My little sister. To help them. That was my pressure. That’s why Europe.”

Myths About African Migrants

A UN Development Program report, released on October 17, shows that 97 percent of the nearly 2,000 African migrants in Europe interviewed would take the same risks to come to Europe again knowing what they know now about the danger of the journey or what life in Europe would be like. What is powerful about this UN report is that it dispels the many myths about African migration.

There is a terrible view that Africans are somehow “invading” Europe, even worse “swarming” into Europe. Anti-immigration rhetoric speaks of building fences and creating a Fortress Europe. It is as if there is a war, and Europeans must arm themselves against invaders. A year ago, the UN’s Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide Adama Dieng warned that European politicians fan the flames with hateful rhetoric that “is legitimizing hatred, racism and violence. While extremists spread inflammatory language in mainstream political discourse under the guise of ‘populism,’ hate crimes and hate speech continue to rise. Hate crimes constitute one of the clearest early-warning signs for atrocity crimes.” At the UN in Geneva this May, Dieng—a Senegalese lawyer—said, “Big massacres start always with small actions and language.”

The UN report shows that the hatefulness around the African migrant is misplaced. The reasons for major flows of migration to Europe actually come from within Europe itself. Those leaving war zones—Syria and Afghanistan in West Asia, but also Eritrea and Libya—come in expected numbers as they flee bombs that are often produced inside Europe. These numbers are much higher than for those Africans who come to Europe for work.

FILE: Migrants seen aboard a wooden boat on the Mediterranean sea. Picture: AFP.

In fact, more than 80 percent of African migrants stay on the continent. The proportion of African emigration out of the continent compared to Africa’s population “is one of the lowest in the world,” says the United Nations. Most of the migrants who go to Europe, according to European data, come by regular channels—with a visit to the embassy, an application for a visa, the granting of the visa, and then a flight into the country; irregular arrivals, many of whom might come by boat, are far fewer than those who come with a valid visa. It is racism that fails to acknowledge this reality.

Remittances

If you dig into the numbers from the UNDP report, you find that 58 percent of the African migrants in Europe were either employed at home or in school when they decided to leave; most of the migrants had jobs and earned competitive wages. What drove them is the insecurity in their countries, and the fact that they felt they could earn more elsewhere. More than half of the migrants had been supported financially by their families to make the journey, and 78 percent sent back money to their families.

World Bank statistics show that remittances to African countries are growing. In line with the global trend, sub-Saharan Africa received more foreign exchange from remittances than from foreign direct investment (FDI).

In 2018, according to the World Bank, remittances to sub-Saharan Africa totaled $46 billion—almost 10 percent more than in 2017. The countries that received high remittances were Comoros, Gambia, Lesotho, Cabo Verde, Liberia, Zimbabwe, Senegal, Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria.

The total FDI flow into sub-Saharan Africa, according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), was $32 billion, up by 13 percent from 2017, but a significant amount less than the remittance flows.

Migrants who send money home are more important than the corporations and banks that bring investment dollars into these countries. It’s too bad the bankers are treated better than the migrants.

African Debt Crisis 2.0

Africa is on the threshold of a major debt crisis.

The last debt crisis was in the 1980s, as part of the broader Third World debt crisis. In the decolonization period, Africa—looted of its wealth by colonialism—had to borrow money for development; these funds were large, but worse was the manipulation of dollar-denominated debt by the London Interbank Borrowing Rate (LIBOR) and by the U.S. Treasury’s interest rates. Skyrocketing debt in the 1980s produced a long period of austerity and suffering. That debt simply could not be paid as long as multinational corporations effectively stole Africa’s resources and refused to pay taxes on that drain of wealth. This was the reason why initiatives such as the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) were created by the World Bank and the IMF in 1996 and 2005, respectively. By 2017, these initiatives provided $99 billion to reduce Africa’s debts from a debt-to-GNI (Gross National Income) ratio of 119 percent to 45 percent.

No change in the structure was made—no assault on transfer mispricing and base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), mechanisms used by Western-based multinationals to continue their plunder of the African continent. When the 2014 commodity price shock came, many African countries slipped gradually toward a new debt crisis. The new debts are not all government debt, but they include very high proportions of private sector debt, which has tripled from $35 billion (2006) to $110 billion (2017) according to World Bank figures. Debt repayments have risen dramatically, which means that investments in health and education have declined, as has access to capital for small-scale private sector businesses.

Currently, according to World Bank numbers, half of the 54 states in Africa struggle with high debt-to-GDP (Gross Domestic Product)—with many of these over the 60 percent threshold that signals a crisis. The rate of increase of this debt has set off alarms across the continent.

What does this mean?

It means that if there is any financial crisis in the West, it will draw away financing from Africa, plunge the region into another major debt crisis, and set millions of people in search of better earning opportunities. Families and countries in Africa have come to rely upon these remittances. They are part of the structural fabric of finances.

Racism against the migrant is an enormous problem, and it must be tackled in itself.

But deeper than that is another problem that has grown as a result of no effective post-colonial policy—the structural problem of the ongoing theft of resources from Africa, and of the lack of financing for the continent to develop its own potential. Allowing multinational firms to steal African resources, and allowing foreign banks to lend to Africa at virtually usurious conditions, simply creates a cycle of crisis that results in migration and remittances as the band-aids.

Europe does not have a refugee or migration crisis. The real crisis is in Africa, where the thief—often a European firm—continues to undermine the continent’s ability to breathe.

*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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Kenya:Telecommunication companies sued over expiry of data bundles
October 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

William Kabogo

Few months after Kenya’s ex-Governor William Kabogo threatened to sue telcos companies over expiry of data bundles, now a lawyer who is also an ICT expert has gone to court to seek order barring Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya from exploiting their clients via data bundles.

The complaint Mr. Adrian Kamotho has filed a suit at a Nairobi based court, Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal complaining of high charges on data bundles and insertion of expiry period on any bundle package purchased by consumers. The lawyer said consumers should use their bundles as long as they remain active on the vendor’s network describing the current use of data bundles within a stipulated timeline irrational due to poor network coverage across the country among other factors.

According to Mr. Kamotho the data expiry model is inconveniencing the poor who are the majority. Unlike the rich who buy huge amount of bundles whose lifespan is longer, the poor buy low-amount bundles which expire sooner.

“Data bundles should not have an expiry date until used up‚ as long as the SIM card is active and the consumer keeps recharging,” he said.

On high cost bundles, the petitioner accused the companies of charging out-of bundles rates. He wants the tribunal to direct the firms to provide him with their current data tariffs or display them on their websites.

Kamotho further castigated Communication Authority of Kenya for failing to protect consumers from unfair, unreasonable, and improper business practices. He claimed the authority overlooked a letter he had written to it demanding clarification on the bundle model expiry. He argued the model is not anchored in the law mentioning Regulation 3 of the Kenya Information and Communications (Consumer protection) Regulations 2010 which gives customers the right to receive clear and complete information on rates, and terms and conditions for available and proposed products and services

He said the firms should be sending realistic depletion notification to enable clients track the bundle usage.

In June this year, Governor Kabogo reiterated that data bundles should not have an expiry date and if they must have, then they should be renewable.

The former County boss told off the mobile data providers to stop treating data bundles like a pregnancy that once one carries it to term, they have no choice but to give birth.

“We are not saying that we be compensated for data not used within specified time frames. If it is for their logistical convenience that there must be an expiry date, then all unconsumed data as long it was initially paid for should be renewed and not expire,” said Kabogo.

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Merck Foundation to conduct their UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit–MARS 2019 in Accra, Ghana
October 23, 2019 | 0 Comments
UNESCO Together with Merck Foundation will continue to build research capacity in the African Research Community in the fields of science and sustainability
ACCRA, Ghana, October 23, 2019/ — Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany plans to conduct the New Edition of their “UNESCO – Merck Africa Research Summit (MARS) 2019” in partnership with African Union in ACCRA, GHANA on 30th of October 2019 during their annual conference “Merck Africa Asia Luminary”

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of UNESCO-MARS explained “The Summit aims to contribute to building research capacity in African research community and discuss challenges, opportunities & proposed strategies to support health decision making that address Health and Sustainability challenges in low-and middle-income countries. The end objective is to empower African young researchers & women researchers, advancing their research capacity and promote their contribution to STEM”.

The scientific committee of the UNESCO MARS 2019 include Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & Chairperson of UNESCO-MARS; Mr. Diallo AbdourahamaneUNESCO Director to Ghana; Dr. Ahmed Fahmi, Chief of Section, Division of Science Policy and Capacity Building, UNESCO; Dr. Ahmed Hamdy, African Union – Scientific, Technical and Research Commission and Prof. Elijah Songkok, Assistant Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases College of Medicine, University of Manitoba, Kenya.

The UNESCO MARS 2019 will host high level participants that include many African Ministers of Health, Science and Technology, Education, information and Gender and African Researchers.

“This high-level roundtable meeting will also provide networking opportunities to strengthen the research community and their impact on African society and media communication” concluded Dr. Rasha Kelej.
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Central African countries optimistic about halving deaths from malaria, but major challenges remain
October 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

Malaria experts are very concerned that climate change could increase the threat of malaria in the region
ABUJA, Nigeria, October 22, 2019/ — Central African countries surveyed in new opinion study believe that halving malaria deaths is more achievable than elimination by 2030; Malaria experts are very concerned that climate change could increase the threat of malaria in the region: Surveillance and programme delivery need to improve to drive progress.

Central Africa is fighting to maintain momentum in its battle with malaria in the face of other health challenges, climate change and other threats, according to a new report issued at an RBM Partnership to End Malaria conference in Abuja today.

The report was the latest extension of the Malaria Futures for Africa (MalaFA) study, commissioned
by Novartis, which has already conducted similar research across 15 countries, including Nigeria, to survey African malaria stakeholders on progress and challenges towards global malaria targets. The new report involved interviews with 23 politicians, senior civil servants, malaria programme directors, researchers and NGOs in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. All four are countries that have a significant malaria burden and differing policies in place to fight the disease.

In Rwanda, respondents were mainly positive about the country’s fight against the disease, citing high levels of political support and funding. In Cameroon, DRC and the Republic of the Congo respondents shared the view that halving deaths by 2030 was more achievable than elimination.

Respondents in Cameroon, DRC and the Republic of the Congo were concerned about access to health services, inadequately trained personnel, substandard or falsified antimalarials and self-treatment without diagnosis – which could potentially accelerate development of resistance to treatment. These concerns are shared in many other countries previously surveyed.

Unlike countries previously surveyed in West, East and Southern Africa in early 2018, Central African respondents saw climate change as more of a threat. One respondent in Rwanda worried that malaria was creeping up into highland regions which had previously been free of the disease, and others discussed how changing rainfall patterns could have an impact on mosquito breeding seasons.

More domestic and international funding was also cited as critical, with respondents from Cameroon, DRC, and Republic of Congo saying more support is needed. Earlier this month, at the recent Replenishment conference for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, world leaders increased funding for programmes addressing these diseases with pledges totaling $14 billion for the period 2020-2023, meeting the Global Fund’s funding target. Rwanda pledged $2.5 million, DRC, Congo and Cameroon also made domestic resource pledges of $6 million, $5.5 million and $5 million, respectively.

Dr Richard Nchabi Kamwi, Ambassador for the Elimination 8 countries and a co-chair of the study, said: “Maintaining momentum against malaria requires strong political leadership, resilient health systems and securing additional resources. The pledges made at the recent Global Fund replenishment are heartening signs that critical resources are forthcoming.” Dr Kamwi continued:
“It’s also important that Cameroon and DRC have been identified by the World Health Organization and RBM Partnership as “high burden to high impact” (HBHI) countries, ensuring these countries will benefit from increased attention and investment from the international community.” The other study co-chair is Professor Bob Snow, KEMRI-Wellcome-University of Oxford Collaborative Programme
in Kenya.

HBHI is an initiative supported by the RBM Partnership to End Malaria and the World Health Organization to build international support and country-led responses to reignite the pace of progress in the global malaria fight. Respondents associated with malaria control programmes in the two HBHI countries in the study were aware of the strategy and believed that with sufficient resources it would be highly beneficial.

Interviewees in the DRC saw the country as particularly hampered, having to fight a major Ebola outbreak while also bearing the second highest burden of malaria in the world. Inconsistent and variable funding from some donors and domestic sources was highlighted, as well as the need to translate national political will into increased domestic financing.

Several of those interviewed also mentioned the need for effective disease surveillance and better
use of surveillance data. Rwanda, for instance, implemented a three-year bednet study in 2017 to examine the physical durability and insecticide residual efficacy of insecticide-treated nets. The results from this study were used by the country to revise its bednet distribution strategy and make it more cost-effective. This showcases the importance of collecting data to help prioritise resource allocation, targeting, and monitoring of resistance to treatment and insecticides. Solid data will be critical to the success of HBHI and in the wider fight against malaria.

“Progress against malaria has stalled, and we need a renewed sense of urgency – and funding –
to accelerate the fight against this devastating disease,” said Kolawole Maxwell, West and Central Africa Programmes Director for Malaria Consortium. “In central Africa and beyond, we need to boost domestic funding, build stronger malaria surveillance systems, and enhance operational research and the development of new tools.”


Novartis commissioned the MalaFA studies as part of a two-year effort to understand the views of national and regional experts across Africa and Asia on progress and challenges toward malaria elimination.

Parfait Touré, Head, Access Programs West and Central Africa for Novartis Social Business, highlighted: “In Africa, there are still over 200 million cases of malaria every year, and over
400,000 deaths, mostly young children. This research shows there are many challenges still to
be overcome. But ensuring the voices of those at the front line are heard is essential.”
 The Elimination 8 (E8) initiative brings together eight Southern African countries which aim to eliminate malaria by 2030.
They are Angola, Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For more information: https://MalariaElimination8.org

The Malaria Futures for Africa (MalaFa) study was commissioned by Novartis (https://www.Novartis.com/) to help guide domestic and donor commitments toward malaria elimination in the face of increasing challenges. In this Central African arm of the study, 23 interviews were conducted in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Republic of Congo, and Rwanda. This follows 72 interviews for the previous MalaFA report conducted in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The original intention was for Rwanda to be part of the earlier research conducted across East Africa and published in 2018, but fieldwork in Rwanda completed too late for that report so the country has now been included in this Central African extension. The research was developed in consultation with the co-chairs, RBM Partnership to End Malaria, Malaria No More UK, Malaria No More US, the Malaria Consortium and the African Leaders Malaria Alliance. The co-chairs are Dr. Richard Nchabi Kamwi, Ambassador for the Elimination 8 (E8) countries, and Professor Bob Snow, of the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust programme, Kenya and the University of Oxford, United Kingdom. It is important to note that the contents of the report reflect only the views of the respondents, and are not the views of the co-chairs, sponsor or partner organisations.
*APO

 
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New SEforALL Research Shows Africa At A Tipping Point To Meet Global Energy Goals By 2030 Without Urgent Investment
October 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

VIENNA, Austria, October 22nd, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Public and private financial institutions are not responding adequately to meet global energy goals as finance, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, remains drastically below levels needed to deliver universal access according to new Energizing Finance research released today by Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL).

  The Energizing Finance report series, now in its third year, has tracked finance flows across developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia with the largest energy access deficits – that together represent nearly 80% of those living without access to electricity and clean cooking. The new data shows urgent, substantial action and investment is needed to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG7) by 2030

This year’s findings on electricity show a slightly positive trend with USD 36 billion committed – up from USD 30 billion tracked in the last report. However, only USD 12.6 billion of total tracked finance commitments for electrification benefits residential customers, representing just one quarter of the estimated annual investment of USD 51 billon required to meet universal access.

The story for clean cooking is much bleaker. An annual investment of USD 4.4 billion is required to close access gaps, yet only USD 32million in finance commitments for clean cooking solutions were tracked – representing less than 1% of the estimated finance required for universal clean cooking access by 2030.

The research also highlights the gulf in electrification and clean cooking finance across Sub-Saharan Africa is putting the continent’s status as an upcoming economic powerhouse on hold. Four of the 13 Sub-Saharan African countries tracked reported an absolute decline from last year’s report, and ten of the 13 each received less than USD 300m in 2017.

Speaking on the launch of this year’s research, Zouera Youssoufou, Managing Director and CEO of the Dangote Foundation and Member of the SEforALL Administrative Board, said: “The African continent is the next economic frontier. As such, achieving universal energy access by the year 2030 is a vision that we must ensure comes to light. Not only would this guarantee the region’s economic prosperity, transform her health outcomes and accelerate prosperity for millions of Africans, it will also see to the fulfillment of the Sustainable Energy for All’s drive to leave no one behind.”

In the midst of a global climate emergency, the report also shows ongoing investment into fossil fuels as a way to support energy access. Finance commitments for grid-connected fossil fuel fired power plants, specifically coal, decreased from USD 8.1 billion tracked in last year’s report to USD 6.6 billion

Energizing Finance strongly underscores that coal will not reach vulnerable, remote populations and continued financing of new, non-renewable power is incompatible with the Paris Agreement, meeting the SDGs or responsible investing. Countries like China and India who have significantly reduced domestic fossil fuel expansion, have continued to invest in overseas coal plant projects, mainly across Africa, Bangladesh and the Philippines.

As the world enters the final decade of the SDGs with a major void in finance and political urgency, Energizing Finance recommendations include:

Meeting SDG7 targets will only be achieved if the international community overhauls its current approach to clean cooking and significantly increases investment. Government commitments, target-setting and allocation of domestic budget as evidenced in Uganda, Madagascar and the Philippines, are needed to enable households to afford high quality, cleaner solutions.

The overall decline in international public finance must be urgently addressed. International public financial institutions must fulfil their commitments to fill the financing gaps for electricity access, with a focus on serving the most vulnerable populations, especially women and displaced people.

Policy makers, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa, must prioritize emissions free, non-coal fired electricity as part of their integrated energy planning and investment plans. This should be underpinned by fiscal and other incentives as necessary, possible and appropriate to give private investors the confidence required for long-term investment in energy infrastructure and assets.

Two reports were produced in the series this year. Energizing Finance: Understanding the Landscape 2019 was developed in partnership with the Climate Policy Initiative. Energizing Finance: Taking the Pulse 2019 was developed in partnership with Catalyst Off Grid Advisors and E3 Analytics. Read the report on the SEforALL website here.

About Sustainable Energy for AllSustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) empowers leaders to broker partnerships and unlock finance to achieve universal access to sustainable energy, as a contribution to a cleaner, just and prosperous world for all. SEforALL exists to reduce the carbon intensity of energy while making it available to everyone on the planet.
For more information, visit SEforALL.org and follow @SEforALLorg

*distributed by Africa Media Agency



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South Sudan:UNSC, Machar in clashes over formation of unity govt by Nov 12
October 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Riek Machar .Photo credit AFP

Juba – The United Nations Security Council has insisted the South Sudanese warring parties should form a unity government by November 12 with no delay, while opposition leader Riek Machar is rejecting the date and , demanding a three-months extension.

The UN Security Council visits comes amid a mounting international pressure on South Sudanese leaders to settle outstanding issues and establish a transitional government by November 12.

The unity government, to be led by president Kiir and deputized by Machar, as part of the deal signed in 2018, would also accommodate several opposition groups in a three – year administration expected to usher the country into democratic elections and pave way for development.

The key issues to the formation of a unity government, including the security arrangements; resolving of the number of states and their boundaries, which haven’t been completed despite earlier extension from May 12.

A similar arrangement in then 2015 which provided for two armies in the country ended with heavy fighting in the capital, following a year after only three – months when Machar joined president Kiir in transitional government.

A unity government formation’s declaration came after a meeting between a delegation of members of the UNSC led by South Africa and United States and parties to the revitalized peace agreement in Juba on Sunday.

The UNSC said it will not accept more delays to the formation of a unity government, while threatening to impose sanctions on leaders if a government is not formed by November 12, urging the parties to set aside their disagreements for the sake of peace.

However, designated vice president, Dr. Riek Machar says the security arrangements and the number of states and their boundaries should be completed first the formation of a unity government.

Machar decries that the issues of security arrangements and the states were the cause of 2016 crisis, and such may replicate the same problem.

“The critical issues must be resolved,” said Machar during a briefing by a delegation of the UN Security Council. The security arrangements must be in place at least or the ceasefire which we have been enjoying for this whole year will be raptured,” he echoed.

Speaking to reporters, South African Ambassador to the Nations, Jerry Mathews Matjila says “there are minimum conditions for the parties to into November 12.”

“What Dr. Riek Machar wants is not impossible but we need political leaders who can compromise,” Amb. Mathews told the press at the end of their one – day visit.

South African diplomat further said the United Nations Security Council and the region will support the peace process in the world’s youngest nation.

“There should be no more extensions……. the remaining issues of the number of states, the boundaries and other things can be discussed by inclusive South Sudanese government,” said Amb. Mathews. If any leader needs security, we will give security. The United Nations can provide security, so the major was security. The government says we are committed, any number of people for protection is available.”

According to Mathews, the international community doesn’t see good reasons to delay the formation of the transitional government in South Sudan.

“We don’t anticipate that the remaining problems are so huge to not able South Sudan to move to November 12,” said Mathews.

Meanwhile, US Ambassador to the United Nations, Kelly Craft said South Sudan leaders should form a unity transitional government by November 12.

Craft further called on the parties to the peace deal to start making progress on the number of states and security arrangements.

The US diplomat pointed out that the UN Security Council delegation was encouraged by President Kiir’s recommitment to the revitalized peace agreement.

“We are disappointed by a statement from Dr. Riek Machar that the ceasefire would be in jeopardy when the unity government is formed by November 12,” said Craft. She stressed that the UN Security Council supports the formation of the unity government as originally planned.

But ex-rebel leader Machar says he will not be part of a unity government next month if established without the integration of the army force, a key condition of a peace accord signed last year.

“We in the SPLM-IO, our colleagues, would not be there, do not blame us because we don’t want to put the country into crisis,” said Machar, stressing that the aspect needed for the establishment of such a government is not there.”

But the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) said that the problems identified by Machar can be solved by the November deadline.

 “Now it is time to make a compromise necessary for the formation of the transitional government of national unity,” said Craft, the U.S Ambassador, as they are still holding to the November 12 deadline. “We expect both the government and the oppositions to unify together and to be able to put their people first.”

Despite, Machar’s refusal, the president Kiir’s administration and other opposition groups are ready to form the unity government as schedule, according to the country’s Information Minister Michael Makuei.

“The advice given to us by the UN Security Council, is that no change of schedule, no change of the program – you are advised to advised to establish your RTGoNU on the 12th of November,” Makuei told reporters, after a meeting between president’s administration and the UNSC teams.

President Kiir and Machar, including other parties signed a revitalized peace deal in September 2018 after a string of failed deals to end a civil war that has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands, uprooted a third of the population from their homes and ruined the country’s economy.

In May, the two principals agreed to form a unity government in six months and again, in September, reiterated that they will establish a unity transitional government by November 12 as part of the deal.

However, the deal has stalled because the government has said it does not have the finances to fund the disarmament and integration of the army.

Machar met with president Kiir on Saturday to discuss the security arrangements, include the states and boundaries issue, as crucial components of the pact, but they could not come to an agreement on the issues.

Country’s Cabinet Affairs Minister, Martin Elia said the head of national army Jok Riak has assured them that 3000 members of a VIP protection force will be ready before November 12.

“Machar should not complain about the delay in implementing some of the key mechanisms because he has representatives in all the committees,” said Minister Elia, who is also the Secretary for the National Pre – Transitional Committee (NPTC), a body tasked with the implementation of the revitalized peace deal.

The UN Security Council advised Machar’s side to join the government so that the government is set up and if any problems, then they will be in a position to resolve them amicably.

The revitalized peace deal is seen a significant milestone as it provides a clear roadmap for peace, political transformation, security sectors reforms, healing and reconciliation process, disarmament and compensation in the horn of Africa’s country.

South Sudan secured independence from north Sudan in 2011 after decades of a scorched – earth civil war that has killed two million lives but descended into its own political conflict in late 2013 after president Kiir sacked Dr. Machar as vice president.

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Rwanda inaugurates an inland port worth 35 million USD
October 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President Kagame (second left) with DP World CEO Bin Sulayem (third) touring Kigali Logistics Platform

Global trade enabler DP World inaugurated  Kigali Logistics Platform, an inland port which targets to link Rwanda to regional ports like Mombasa and Dar es Salaam and ease transportation costs from the coast.

The port was inaugurated on Monday by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and DP World Chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem.

The facility, which has been operational since September 2018 in test mode, has an annual capacity of 50,000 TEUs. When operating at full capacity, it has the potential to save Rwandan businesses up to US$50 million a year in logistics costs.

Since the commencement of its operations in the Rwandan capital last year, Kigali Logistics Platform management says it has reduced truck-turnaround time which used to be an average of 10-14 days to  three days.

President Paul Kagame lauded the facility and said it is in line with African Continental Free Trade Area that will come into force next year.

“The future of trade and integration on our continent is the African Continental Free Trade Area, which is already in force. Trading will commence in July next year. But trade agreements and economic policies won’t have much impact, without actual infrastructure”, he said

He called on Rwandan business people to make use of the port and expand their businesses even beyond.

“We therefore want to challenge our business people and investors, starting with the industries located in this neighbourhood and from the region and beyond, to make full use of this facility.There is no excuse not to pursue the vast opportunities available to us”, he added

DP World Chairman and CEO, Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said that they want to help Rwanda in its ambitions to establish itself as a key services and trade hub for the region.

He emphasized that their target is not only Rwanda but also other countries in the region that will be using Kigali inland port.

Kigali Logistics Platform serves as a gateway to the heart of Africa, connecting Rwanda to neighbouring countries including Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya. The facility will also access the port of Mombasa in Kenya and Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, securing two trade gateways to the sea.

The railway from Mombasa port in Kenya will pass through Uganda to Rwanda and also the railway from Dar Es Salaam to Kigali is under construction and will have its final cargo rail siding located at Kigali Logistics Platform.

Linking railways to the Kigali Logistics Platform has the potential to dramatically reduce logistics costs for exports and imports via international gateways on the coast.

At present it costs three times more to transport a container from Kigali to Dar Es Salaam as it does to transport the same container from Dar Es Salaam to Shanghai.

This  $35 million project spans over 130,000 square metres, including a 12,000 square metre container yard and a 19,600 square metre warehousing facility.

DP World will be managing this port for 25 years, and after Rwanda Government will take over.

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Nigeria Gov’t Pledges Full Support All Africa Music Awards
October 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The Federal Government of Nigeria has promised its full support for the successful hosting of the 2019 All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA), as the country prepares to host the glamorous event in Lagos 20-23 November 2019, with the theme: ”Feel Africa”.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, made the promise in a statement in Lagos on Sunday. The statement on 20th October, 2019 was signed by Segun Adeyemi, Special Assistant To The President (Media) Office of The Minister of Information and Culture Lagos said: “When you look at the All Africa Music Awards, it’s one of the biggest awards for the music industry in Africa, and what government has done in the past is to provide the enabling environment for the awards to take place”

”We provided support services for AFRIMA, we gave them the backing they need and I think it’s on record that the AFRIMA editions that have been held in Nigeria have been among the most successful.

”This year again, we are ready to partner AFRIMA professionally, give them the maximum support such as effective media coverage and also help them in reaching out to other critical stakeholders,” the Minister said.

He said part of the reasons why Nigeria has successfully hosted the music awards is because the country has relaxed its visa regime, with the visa on arrival policy, thus making it easier for people to come in.

AFRIMA, which was first held in 2014, was established in collaboration with the African Union (AU) to reward and celebrate musical talents and creativity in Africa as well as to promote African Cultural Heritage.

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Pan African Human Rights Forum Underway in Banjul
October 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay 

The 65th Ordinary Session of The African Commission on Human and People’s Right (ACHPR) has kickoff in Banjul on Monday 21st October, 2019 at Kairaba Beach Hotel.

ACHPR on 21st October- 10 November, 2019 has brought together state parties, civil society member and human right defenders across the world to discuss on human rights and development across Africa. It is been held under the theme: “The year of refugees, returnees and internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to forced Displacement in Africa”

Hon. Justice Sylvain Ore, President of the African Court on Human and People’s Right said there can be no sustainable peace without efficient justice and that without sustainable peace development will be inevitably compromised.

He pointed out that this statement is more or less the official slogan of the African Union, whose Agenda 2063 includes peace and human rights as conditions for the realization of the social-economic and infrastructural development of the continent, its citizens.

He stated that in situation of refugees in Africa is a consequence of constant conflicts, adding that African should focus more on the causes of the conflicts and the most efficient ways of resolving them.

According to him, humanitarian crises and the incessant flow of refugees in Africa are mainly due to conflicts caused by serious and massive violations of human rights, the resultant of injustice or justice denied or wrongly applied.

Hon. Minata Samate Cessouma, Commissioner for Political Affairs African Union Commission explained that in 2015 African head of State and government adopted Agenda 2063 as the continental’s development blueprint for the next 50 years.

She pointed out that this aspiration puts emphasis on the need to build a culture of human rights as one of the durable ways of realizing a united prosperous and peaceful Africa.

“Our gathering here today is evidence of our collective dedication and commitment to this vision and the union’s broader efforts towards the Africa We Want”

She added that: “As we proceed with the implementation of the process of Agenda 2063, we must admit the challenges faced by our beloved continent in the promotion and protection of human and people’s rights, this requires us to focus our eyes on how best to advance rights that address underdevelopment, poverty, inequality, marginalization and exclusion on our continent as we make concerted efforts towards effective implementation of Agenda 2063”.

She stressed that they have to redouble their efforts to ensure that Africans enjoy the right to food, water, sanitation, housing, education, heath, decent clothing and clean environment.

Mr. Mahamane Cisse-Gouro, Chief Africa Branch of United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights pointed out that this gathering is an opportunity to reflects on the achievements and challenges that continue to face since the adaptation of the OAU Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa 50 years ago and the African Union Convention on Internally Displaced Persons (the Kampala Convention) in 2009.

He noted that these landmarks instruments adopted to address the situation of refugees, returnees and internal displaced persons in Africa are not adhering to by many state parties.

He lamented that refugees and migrants have increasingly become the target of violence and harassment, they are rejected, persecuted and treated like criminals and many migrants live and work in situations of extreme vulnerability.

Cisse-Gouro, pointed out that those in irregular situation are unable to access shelter, healthcare, education or other basic services.

Declaring the session open Dr. Isatou Touray, Vice President of The Gambia said this session is extremely important for the Africa continent to discuss human rights issues highlight the progress been made and challenges for building Africa we want for present and  future.

She said the increase of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons continues to be great concerns as African as situation of millions of people as IDPs from within and outside their territories continues to be manifested yearly on the continent.

“On result conflicts in South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Nigeria, Mali and Cameroon pose serious challenges on the continent,”

She stressed that African as a continent needs to address the deep rooted of the conflicts and finds a durable solutions for them so that citizens can live in dignity.

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