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Zimbabwe hosts international trade fair for floriculture and horticulture as it seeks to reposition sectors
October 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire
A three-day international trade fair for the floriculture and

horticulture industry has opened today in Harare, Zimbabwe running
until 11 October, 2018 as the country aims to reposition the ailing
sector to boost much needed foreign exchange.
According to Dick van Raamsdonk, General Manager of HPP

International Exhibitions group based in Holland, the first edition of
the newly established international trade fair hortiflor was
especially created for the horticulture industry of Zimbabwe.
He said that hortiflor is a platform where growers, suppliers,
traders, investors and buyers of fresh produce and fresh flowers can
meet.
“This is a platform where Zimbabwean horticulture can meet with the

world of horticulture,” Raamsdonk said.
He also said that the three day trade event in its first edition has
attracted exhibitors from 10 countries and visitors from an expected
15 to 20 countries.
“With a total of almost 60 companies that represent growers and

suppliers from the fresh flower and fresh produce sectors, it can be
called an excellent beginning of much more to come in the near future.
Since Zimbabwe has already proven to be one of Africa’s top exporters
of horticulture products in the past, it is not a new road that has to
be taken, but much more continuing on an existing road, basically in a
pretty good shape, just waiting for a good maintenance. This together
with the message of a new government of Zimbabwe, that the country is
open for business, makes it very interesting opportunity that offers
great chances to both Zimbabwean and international companies,”
Raamsdonk said.
Gorden Makoni, Chairman of the Export Flower Growers Association of

Zimbabwe (EFGAZ) said that the premier trade show, the first of its
kind in over 18 years in Zimbabwe brings together farmers, growers,
breeders, investors and buyers with one purpose of increasing
horticulture export in Zimbabwe.
Makoni said that the flower industry is going through remarkable
growth buoyed by the four rising stars, Colombia, Kenya, Ecuador and
Ethiopia.
“The US market is on the upswing, Russia market is declining but the

Netherlands remains the fulcrum of the global flower trade,” Makoni
said.
He added that to think that in the late 90s to early 2000,
Zimbabwe was only second to Kenya and third in the world in flower
production reads like a fairy tale.
“The exhibition by HPP exhibition reminds us that we have work to
do, that is to take back our spot snatched by Ethiopia,” Makoni said.
He also added that Zimbabwe had some of the best climate for cut
flower production and horticulture.
“We need to seize on this comparative advantage against our erstwhile

and it does put us in a good steady,” he added.
Makoni also called on the government to lead by ensuring that the
industry is well funded the way mining is funded, land issue is
stabilized and can be used as collateral as some farmers are failing
to use land as collateral to increase production.
He also added that value chain linkages are needed to make sure

that growth in one has the domino effect on all up and downstream
industries including marketing, freight forwarding, finance, input
suppliers, agro-chemicals, greenhouses, packaging, irrigation, cold
rooms and refrigerated trucks.
Agribank Acting CEO, Mr Francis Macheka said that his bank was
ready to create competitive facilities such as capital to support
financing for horticulture and floriculture in Zimbabwe.
He said that his bank was geared to drive exports growth and has

made progress in sectors such as tobacco farming.
He said that the bank was pleased that some farmers in Zimbabwe had
already started to launch or relaunch projects in horticulture and
floriculture and the bank was ready to offer much needed capital
finance.

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Arsenal FC and WorldRemit name Hamisi Mohamed from Kenya as the winner of the “Future Stars” youth coaching programme
October 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
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Gemfields launches ‘Every Piece Unique’ global campaign to highlight responsibly sourced Zambian emeralds
October 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Gemfields' Kagem emerald mine, Zambia

Gemfields’ Kagem emerald mine, Zambia

Gemfields, the world’s leading supplier of responsibly sourced

coloured gemstones, has launched a global advertising campaign to
raise awareness of responsible sourcing in the coloured gemstone
industry and promote Zambian emeralds from its Kagem mine in
Lufwanyama.
Gemfields believes that coloured gemstones should be mined and marketed by championing three key values – transparency, integrity and legitimacy – and seeks to challenge itself and the sector by setting new benchmarks for responsible sourcing. The campaign was designed to bring these core values and Gemfields’ associated initiatives to life, highlighting the breadth of activities involved in responsibly supplying coloured gemstones to global markets.
“We wanted to bring to life the many stories behind responsibly sourcing precious gemstones in Africa as there is far more to our business than industry-leading mining and geology”, explains Emily Dungey, Group Marketing and Communications Director. “The characters in the campaign allow us to build awareness of the many life-changing
community projects we carry out, our pioneering quest for greater transparency across the industry and the support we provide for vital conservation work protecting Africa’s biodiversity. The campaign is a snapshot of who we are: it’s fun, unexpected and non-conformist, but also gives an insight into some of the ways in which Gemfields strives
to leave a positive and lasting impact.”
The campaign film is set in a contemporary art gallery, closing for the night, when the sculptures come to life through movement and dance. Each character moves with unique style, unveiling their distinctive role in the Gemfields ecosphere. The six sculptures were designed and brought to life for Gemfields by MPC Creative using
motion capture, VFX and CGI animation.

The first character, a faceted female form, half emerald and half ruby, embodies the gemstones that underpin Gemfields’ drive for Transparency, the founding principle of the business. Gemfields’ extractive operations, combined with its proprietary grading and auction systems, are all designed to bring a reliable supply of
responsibly sourced gemstones to market with an unprecedented level of transparency.
Gemfields has partnered with Switzerland’s Gübelin Gem Lab in launching a breakthrough technology entitled ‘Provenance Proof’, empowering traceability back to the mine of origin and providing consumers and Gemfields’ Authorised Auction Partners with certainty that their gemstones started their journey with Gemfields.
As Transparency dances through the gallery, her arm brushes a second character – a petite paper sculpture featuring hand-writing and emeralds. The scroll-like figure personifies Gemfields’ Education programmes. Gemfields supports life-changing initiatives for the communities near its mines in three key spheres: Health, Livelihoods and Education.

It has constructed four schools in Mozambique and established three in Zambia, as well as providing university
scholarships in the fields of mining and geology. In total, more than 2,500 pupils are now attending these schools and classes for adults have been added to allow parents to keep up with the next generation.
Transparency and Education awaken a valiant rhino sculpture carved from wood, half-dipped in recycled green gold and replete with emerald eyes. An iconic African symbol of Conservation, the rhino was chosen to reflect Gemfields’ work with conservation partners to protect Africa’s wildlife and biodiversity, including the Niassa Carnivore
Project and Quirimbas National Park in Mozambique and the Zambian Carnivore Programme spanning several Zambian reserves.

The three characters run together through the gallery until they reach a dominating, vibrant, abstract painting featuring human forms dramatically poised around a Fabergé egg. The central figure emerges
from the painting to join the energetic trio. He represents Gemfields’ community initiatives to improve the Health care and wellbeing of those living around its mines. Before Gemfields introduced formalised mining operations, these remote communities had little or no access to healthcare. Cholera, malaria, HIV and dysentery were commonplace. Now, two mobile health clinics in Mozambique serve six remote villages of around 10,000 people. In Zambia, a further 10,000 people benefit from a significantly upgraded health centre and maternity ward. The
presence of a Fabergé egg reflects Fabergé’s role as a vital component of Gemfields’ ‘mine and market’ vision.

Wholly-owned by Gemfields Group, Fabergé is famed for its ingenious use of coloured gemstones, innovative techniques and workmasters-of-distinction to create highly coveted jewellery befitting Gemfields’ most prized emeralds and rubies.
The dance energetically builds as the characters surround a large-scale hanging installation. Comprising bright blue feathers and sparkling rubies, its colouring is inspired by the lilac-breasted roller, a native African bird. This character signifies Livelihoods, the third of Gemfields’ local initiatives and is a nod to the chicken farms created to empower local women. Gemfields set up the farms with local women, teaching them how to manage these autonomously and then transferring the projects as independent, fully functioning businesses providing self-sufficiency for the women. Gemfields strives to leave a positive, lasting legacy in the communities it touches that will
long outlive its presence and support ongoing economic sustainability, including in agricultural projects. Gemfields has created two farming associations in Zambia and nine farming associations (two of them run by women) in Mozambique. Training in agricultural techniques such as crop rotation, pest control and conservation farming has increased yields by up to 200%, advancing quality of life from sustainable
livelihoods in the local area.
The characters dance to the base of a flowering Baobab tree, the ‘tree of life’. This iconic African motif embodies Sustainability, Gemfields’ approach to communities near its mining operations. By its very nature, mining impacts the environment, but Gemfields seeks to minimise this where possible. Gemfields does not use chemical
substances that are hazardous to health or pollute. Before mining commences, seeds are collected from indigenous plants and trees to create a seed-bank and the rich top soil is stored for re-deployment. Gemfields re-fills and re-plants as part of an ongoing integrated mining process, reducing impact to the site and maintaining biodiversity. The film’s ‘tree of life’ is inspired by a real-life Baobab tree which sits directly within the mineralised ruby mining
area in Mozambique. Gemfields has mined around it, leaving the magnificent tree standing on an island, pending rehabilitation of the surrounding area.
The film concludes with an explosion of Baobab flowers, the exuberant characters poised in their original gallery positions and two gently floating flowers – with hearts of ruby and emerald – the only evidence of the magical activities. Similarly, Gemfields’ mine sites will return substantially to their original state, leaving in place the
wider positive effects of improved community healthcare, education, sustainable livelihoods and conservation efforts.
‘Every Piece Unique’ highlights how each gemstone is distinctive,possessing its own personality and character, much like original pieces of art. The film continues the narrative of Gemfields’ ‘A Story in Every Gemstone’ campaign, building a greater understanding of the vigour behind responsibly sourcing emeralds and rubies from their
origins in Zambia and Mozambique.
The campaign was created by adam&eveDDB with production carried out by Gutenberg Global and media planning and buying carried out by Havas LuxHub Media. The Moving Picture Company (MPC) in collaboration with
FutureDeluxe produced and directed the campaign film, with characters brought to life by MPC Creative, using VFX and CGI animation. Gemfields’ Every Piece Unique campaign launched globally on 1 October 2018.

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Member states endorse Economic Commission for Africa’s strategic plan for statistical development in Africa
October 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
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London: Dangote urges deepening of African economy through free trade
October 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
Speaking during “One to One Conversation” at the on-going 5th annual Financial Times African Summit, the Nigerian entrepreneur said the key to Africa’s economic growth and strength is in the development of the regional market
LONDON, United Kingdom, October 8, 2018/ — Foremost businessman, Aliko Dangote has in London called for conscious efforts at deepening African regional market by African investors and governments to aid rapid growth and development of the Continent’s economy.

Speaking during “One to One Conversation” at the on-going 5th annual Financial Times African Summit, the Nigerian entrepreneur said the key to Africa’s economic growth and strength is in the development of the regional market, saying “Regional markets in Africa must work.”

Dangote said Africans must patronize African markets which is why the free trade agreements by African nations is the direction to go to strengthen African markets.

Citing an instance of his own experience, the president of Dangote group referred to the case of neighbouring Benin Republic where the country continues to import cement from China while his Nigerian factory is only 35 miles away from the border.

“We need to trade with ourselves”, Dangote stated as he spoke glowingly about the prospect of African economy, the free trade agreement and the availability of huge raw materials to attract investors.

Asked about when the much touted listing of Dangote cement on the London Stock Exchange, he told his audience comprising of investors, business magnates, captains of Industry and African Heads of Government which included President Akufo-Addo of Ghana and Ali Bongo of Gabon, that the listing might happened in 2019.

According to him, all hands are on deck to complete the process of listing, the development which he said is being looked towards for by the business community.

Prompted by the Editor of the Newspaper, Lionel Barber to speak about difficult markets like Tanzania and Ethiopia, Dangote dismissed the issue difficulty and re-affirmed “our aim is to always provide jobs and worth. As an African investor I don’t want any investor anywhere in Africa to have a bad experience.”

Dangote repeated his central mantra for African growth urging the reduction of exports of raw materials to other continent but create greater wealth within African economies.

Said he: “We need to continue to transform the structure of African economies”. He alluded to his company’s entry into the Ghana Sugar market, pointing that he is further expanding his sugar business to Ghana for the main reason of helping to revitalize its economy. “We are going to help Ghana grow its own sugar for the first time.”

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Senegal selected as host country for the 4th Summer Youth Olympic Games (YOG) in 2022
October 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
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Why is it so hard for Africans to visit other African countries?
October 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Larry Madowo*

Many African travellers say visas and transport on the continent are too complex and expensive

Many African travellers say visas and transport on the continent are too complex and expensive

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has said he needs 38 visas to travel within the continent on his Nigerian passport. Many European nationals, meanwhile, waltz into most Africans countries visa-free.

African nations were supposed to scrap visa requirements for all African citizens by 2018.

It was a key part of the African Union (AU) “vision and roadmap for the next 50 years” that was adopted by all members states in 2013.

But to date, the Seychelles is the only nation where visa-free travel is open to all Africans – as well as to citizens of every nation – as it always has been.

A recent AU report found that Africans can travel without a visa to just 22% of other African countries.

It is a sensitive topic, provoking xenophobic attitudes in some of Africa’s wealthier nations despite policymakers from Cape to Cairo insisting that the free movement of people is key for economic transformation.

“Our leaders seem to go to ridiculous lengths to preserve and protect the colonial borders,” says South African travel blogger Katchie Nzama, who has visited 35 of Africa’s 55 countries.

The AU may want a borderless continent where its 1.2 billion people can move freely between nations, similar to the European Union, but it seems there is no shortage of obstacles.

Whether it is immigration officials in Burkina Faso charging an arbitrary $200 (£155) for a visa on arrival, or Tanzania arresting and deporting other East Africans who enter illegally, or Tunisia refusing visas to stranded African passengers after a cancelled flight, intra-African travel is fraught with suspicion.

Double standards?

South Africa appears to be the most visible representative of the continent’s visa double standard, remaining largely closed to other Africans but more welcoming to the wider world.

Citizens of only 15 African nations can travel to South Africa without a visa, yet holders of 28 different European passports can enter the country freely.

A graph showing the percentages of African nationalities which require visas in order to enter South Africa, Nigeria, Mauritius, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya and the Seychelles.

The country’s Department of Home Affairs spokesman Thabo Mokgola defends its policy.

“This is an unfair assertion – visa-waiver agreements are premised on reciprocity and we are finalising such with a number of African countries,” he told the BBC.

Just how that reciprocity is applied is unclear.

Kenya, for example, gives South African citizens a visa on arrival for free. But Kenyans must apply for a visa, then pay a service fee and wait for at least five working days before travelling to South Africa.

In 2015, two years after the African Union asked members to commit to abolishing visa requirements for all Africans by 2018, South Africa did the opposite and announced stricter regulations that were widely criticised.

Hit by a recession and a drop in tourist numbers, the country caved in and recently announced that it was relaxing travel rules in the hope of reviving its struggling economy.

A beach in SenegalImage copyrightCORBIS/GETTY IMAGES

African passport

Namibia, Mauritius, Ghana, Rwanda, Benin and Kenya have all loosened travel restrictions for other African nationals, and now either grant a visa on arrival or allow for visits of up to 90 days with just a passport.

But citizens of African countriesstill need a visa to travel to more than half of the continent’s 54 countries, protecting borders drawn up by European colonisers more than a century ago.

“Somebody like me, despite the size of our group, I need 38 visas to move around Africa,” complained Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote in an interview in 2016.

He is reportedly one of the first in line to receive the African passport which was launched in 2016. The travel document is supposed to eventually replace individual nations’ passports, but is currently only available to some heads of state, senior diplomats and top AU officials.

A composite image of Rwanda's President Paul Kagame and former African Union Chairman Idriss Déby, and a close shot of an AU passportImage copyrightAFP/BBC
Image captionRwanda’s President Paul Kagame and former African Union Chairman Idriss Déby were given the first AU passports in 2016

It is easy enough to travel within regional blocs such as the East African Community, the Economic Community of West African States, the Southern African Development Community, the Maghreb, as well as the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. But it is rarely possible to travel from one region to another without restrictions.

Extortionate prices

Another impediment to African travel is that there are very few commercial flights from one region to another and when they do exist, they are prohibitively expensive.

“Flying from Kenya to Namibia is the same price as flying to Thailand, and the cost to Dubai from Nairobi is way cheaper than flying to Morocco,” says Kenyan travel blogger Winnie Rioba.

And this is on top of the visa fees.

Ms Rioba was charged $90 for a visa fir Djibouti, more than the $75 she paid for a Schengen visa, which gave her access to 26 European states.

“I’ve spent more money applying for visas than transport costs in my travels across the continent,” agrees Ms Nzama.

“This is not just money paid to embassies. It’s the time and money wasted going back and forth to embassies, and preparing the required documents, which in most cases I felt were not necessary,” the South African travel blogger says.

To help her fellow Nigerians find their way through the maze of requirements, entrepreneur Funmi Oyatogun created a colour-coded map outlining which African countries were easiest to travel to:

“Our focus is to simplify travel for Africans across Africa,” she says of her start-up TVP Adventures.

She believes these efforts are a necessary part of what she calls the “African travel spring”.

“We are breaking through the barriers that made it difficult in the past – lack of information, poor flight connections, and incorrect perceptions of other African countries.”

There is widespread support for scrapping the visa requirements for Africans travelling within the continent.

But as the 2018 deadline slips by, few believe it is likely to happen soon.

And while we wait, it might remain more attractive to leave the continent.

“How will I convince an African traveller to go with me to Angola if the trip will cost as much as travel to five countries in Europe?” asks Ms Rioba.

“They give you visas as if it is a favour.”

*BBC

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Pan-African Tourism Spirit Unites USA And UK- African People To Worship Their Heritage..
October 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority [ZTA] is opening Tourism Sector’s wide path for Economic Recovery and Heritage worship of those Africans in the diaspora. The Tourism Sector is the most functional among Agriculture, Mining and Manufacturing Industry. It has over the years been the pinnacle in stepping up the Zimbabwe Economy in terms of its Gross Domestic Product, Growth per Capita, National Growth and Development. In its continued effort it has invited Afro-Americans and Africans based in UK to tour their original roots in Africa.

Under the Leadership of Karikoga Kaseke the Chief Executive of ZTA, the Sector continues to move swiftly in focus of our tradition and culture linked to Tourism for Economic Sustainable Development. Zimbabwe Tourism Authority has gone through success stories. It’s planning, Leading, Organizing and controlling has fortified the Gross Domestic and National Product to better levels of Economic Stability over the recent years despite hardships created by the former Government years back.

It is an African motivational aura to pronounce the connotative meaning of Tourism Development in the country .In its marathon Mission, vision and goal endeavor, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority hook- lured 35 Member Delegation of African American origins and some from United Kingdom to visit the country. This is a positive move to show that Zimbabwe is open for Business.

The main objective of the visit is to showcase the need to re-visit Pan- Africa History, Tradition and culture in a Modernized and dynamic World. Secondly, it is time and séance to get back to the roots of Ancestor- ship. In addition, ZTA Chief Executive Officer says the country is now open for Business unlike how it used to be in the past.

‘’Zimbabwe is now open for Business more than how it used to be. The country is ready to take anyone aboard without favor. We need to embrace the spirit of togetherness, oneness and solidarity to make ourselves how we are. There is no time for our Visitors to feel in-secured. We are in a New Zimbabwe.

‘’Investors in every sector must feel free to visit and have a base-line survey. After their escapades, they are free to come back into the country and do Business peacefully and freely in this Democratic country.

‘’Our visitors shall be in the country for 2 weeks to witness the prevailing peace we have. Zimbabwe is the most recognized peaceful country under new Leadership that is working hard to build better, sustainable Economy for the betterment of all people.

‘’Our esteemed visitors shall start kick the African spirit of the love of their roots by visiting the Victoria Falls , Great Zimbabwe and some of the great monuments and Tourist Attraction areas in the country . This is the beginning of African History made in Zimbabwe to cherish Historical Pan-African values.

Standing on behalf of the Minister of Environment, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Priscillah Mupfumira who did not attend the occasion , Douglas Runyowa said the country has the light way forward with the New Government which is ready to transform the Economy .

‘’Zimbabwe is ready to listen, take aboard and abide to International Protocols just like any other country. A New Zimbabwe means New Changes in terms of what we need to take ahead of us. A new Zimbabwe is already functioning well. We are ready to take every corner of the World as we move forward to a Middle Income Country by 2030 ‘’.

‘’Tourism is one of the main sectors of the Economy. We there –fore need to support it. Let us show the spirit of building New Zimbabwe. A new Zimbabwe looks ahead of us. We move forward with the spirit of peace building and economic solidarity and Empowerment of those who are in need of it‘’,

The visiting Social ARCHTECT Ayo Kihathi with that vivacity to see the New Africa as well in floating bounce said Africa is now its  time to re-visit its Traditional and cultural roots . The Pan African serenated woman from America said It is time for Afro-Americans to visit their roots and know where they came.

‘’ The Visit to Zimbabwe has made me revive my roots as an individual. Just imagine 400 years under repression in Slavery. We experienced the pain of Feudalism, Imperialism and colonialism. This is not just a joke. We need to look sideways and find for ourselves where we need to go, what we need to do and the way forward.

‘’This is time for Africa to go back to its roots, revive its culture and Tradition and to visit its original vestiges from where their Ancestors were born, bred and buried. We are the remaining sons and daughters of this Land who need to see a New World of African History and its future light ahead.

‘’Africa is our home for -ever. Together, we build a new Africa living under Liberalism, freedom and Independence of mind. This is another time and opportunity to come up with a new Africa. A New Africa that opens way for us to know where we came as nations’’, said the spirited African vivacious man.

The visiting delegates shall look at issues affecting YOUNG PEOPLE. The discussion is that there is need to remind the young people about our roots, where we came from and what went wrong and the new way forward. Shalo Campbell a visitor who took it with the same spirit to raise the African fire kept burning said young people are the Leaders tomorrow. She reiterated that young people need peace in the peace of mind to grow and develop their continent.

‘’Young people have got lost. We need to embrace our Heritage, Culture, Tradition and Religious values of total respect, unity, peace and social solidarity. Africa has lost its salt and light. If a country has lost its taste, saltiness and savory, its future as well is doomed as we move along as a country.

‘’Africa needs to revive itself as a continent .We need decolonize our- selves. This is only possible through Peace and Unity. However .I feel pity that Africa is still lagging behind. Worse still we are submerging fast into deep waters.’’

Apart from raising Tourism in Zimbabwe, the most important concept is to build a New Africa. Delegates also voiced that there is need for all children of those Afro-Americans and various similar ethnical groups to visit their soil and seed their love on the African soil

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Released Ethiopian Bloggers expose digital media control tactics
October 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali

Accra, Ghana

Released Ethiopian bloggers have expressed cautious optimism on recent political reforms started by the new Prime Minister Dr Abi Ahmed, saying some behaviors of previous regime are still lingering in the East African country.

Speaking at the just concluded forum on Internet Freedom in Africa, for the first time the young bloggers shared their experience on the control of digital media, surveillance and censorship in Ethiopia with a pan-African and international audience.

African bloggers, journalists, activists, legal experts, researchers and governments gathered in the West African city to discuss freedom of expression online amid increasing rights violation in the digital space.

The group of bloggers also known as ‘Zone 9’ talked with emotion their surveillance experience, arrests, interrogation and imprisonment in what they called torture centres in Ethiopia.

‘Zone 9’ launched their blog in 2012, after two years of activities Ethiopian government arrested the bloggers.

“After three months of interrogation they trumped charges against us,” said Mr. Zelalem Kibret, co-founder of “Zone 9” platform in an interview.

They were charging us with crime against the constitution and crime of terrorism,” Mr Kibret explained.

According to the blogger, the real accusations were working with international rights organizations to terrorize the public.

Before the new political reforms several Human rights organizations documented crack down cases against opposition and lack of media freedom in Ethiopia which led to the forced exile of many journalists, activists and opposition politicians.

It was not unexpected because there were thousands of Ethiopians by the time who were jailed as per anti-terrorism law, Kibret, further noted.

“So we expected that it was coming,”

In recent months thousands of opposition and media websites were unblocked as part of political reforms that were largely welcomed in the country and abroad.

Young bloggers narrated crackdown online with their colleagues who were allegedly monitored by security agents, including a blogger whose website was blocked 17 times despite changing domain names.

“We were forces to censor ourselves,” said one of bloggers who was on a panel during Internet Freedom Forum.

Social media played a key role in their publications. Bloggers said Facebook was also their main channel to reach their audience in Ethiopia and diaspora.

While young Ethiopians knew the risk of challenging government with a different narrative, they said that they were surprised by the extent of government reaction.

One of the bloggers revealed their phones were tapped over a year, their movements were also monitored.

Online Publications

There was not limit to the stories they posted. From sports, politics, economics to social issues.

“Most of the time we published opinions on political issues and very critical on government,” said the blogger, writer who is also a legal practitioner.

“I personally, I am a lawyer most of my blogs are on legality, constitutionalism, everything related with the law as well as politics”.

“Most of the time we focused on very difficult political topics that government does not want to be published,” said the blogger

Interned penetration in Ethiopia is very low in comparison to its East African neighbors.

According to data from International Telecommunications Union (ITU), in 2016 Internet penetration was at 15 percent.

Bloggers said their audience was diverse including those living in Ethiopia and diaspora.

“We got trust from most of people because we were genuine,” We did not hide anything”. Noted the Ethiopian writer

“There are a lot of people who hide themselves behind anonymity,”

Mr Charles Onyango Obbo, a publisher based in Nairobi, Kenya and veteran journalist described the rising power of Internet and Social media on governance and political change as “digitalcracy”.

Social media tax also dominated the conversation; some saying it hinders freedom of expression online and access to Internet.

Uganda has imposed the tax which led the loss of revenue of MTN, one of major telecom operators in the East African country.

Zambia introduced tax on Internet Voice Calls, while Benin suspended the tax reportedly due to public pressure and critics from Human rights organizations.

According to Dr Wairagala Wakabi, executive director of Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), other African countries will likely introduce Social Media tax in future.

Internet Shut-downs

Cameroon, Gabon, Togo and a host of other African countries have been cited for shut down internet connectivity within the last two years mainly for political reasons.

Olumide Babalola, a Nigerian lawyer was quoted as saying: “Internet shut down will continue with impunity unless we rise up to denounce this ill in the strongest possible terms,”

“We must also find ways to circumvent the incessant censorship by governments on cyberspace” stated Dr. Wakabi.

Some activists and internet freedom advocates said most governments use security as an excuse to shut down Internet.

“Governments will always use ‘national security’ as an excuse to shut down the internet and repress freedom of expression ”, Sulemana Braimah, executive director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) told attendees at the opening of the two-day event in Accra, Ghana last week.

 

 

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Twice as many African presidents made it to China’s Africa summit than to the UN general assembly
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Latif Dahir*

As the current chairperson of the African Union, Rwandan president Paul Kagame was among the first five leaders to address the just-concluded 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Kagame extolled the “deepening” partnership between Africa and the global body, noting, “the dividend of a more focused and functional Africa benefits everyone.”

But even as he emphasized this mutual cooperation, it was hard not to notice the absence of major African leaders at the world’s biggest political summit. A Quartz analysis of the African principals who spoke at the general debate using the country list published by the UN shows fewer African presidents attended the general assembly in New York than were at the third summit of the Forum on China–Africa Cooperation that took place in Beijing two weeks earlier in September. The index of leaders who attended FOCAC was gathered from the forum’s official English website. By Quartz’s count 51 African leaders were in Beijing compared with 27 in New York.

And it’s not just about the presidents: at least 24 African states sent lower-ranking officials to the UN than they did to FOCAC.

The UN list included nations from all regions of the continent, both small and large. Ethiopia’s prime minister Abiy Ahmed, Africa’s youngest leader, skipped the session even though he was expected to be one of the prominent speakers. Presidents from Somalia to Gabon, Uganda, and Senegal all missed UNGA, sending prime ministers and foreign secretaries instead. These African heads joined other global leaders who snubbed the assembly of nations including China’s Xi Jinping, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and German chancellor Angela Merkel. (The exception to the rule was eSwatini, the only African state with diplomatic relations with Taiwan which didn’t attend the shindig in Beijing.)

Observers say the disparities in attendance between UNGA and FOCAC point to the shifting dynamics and priorities of the African continent. It also illustrates the limitations facing the UN, whose lofty declarations and bold rhetoric has faced growing criticism in recent years. The 193-member state body has also struggled to make its work more substantive globally, as the threats to multilateralism grow and it stares down funding cuts from the United States under the Trump administration, one of its major contributors.

The truancy could, however, be practical says Hannah Ryder, the CEO of Beijing-based consultancy firm Development Reimagined (DR). While the general debate takes place every year, the China-Africa forum happens every three, meaning “there is going to be some priority given to something that happens less often.” UNGA also provides African country representatives an opportunity to catch up, network and discuss pressing matters, something, Ryder notes, leaders might have already done in Beijing.

African heads of states and governments might have chosen to stay back given the tense protests and domestic pressures they face at home too. This could be true of Cameroon, Togo, South SudanUganda besides Ethiopia, where premier Abiy chaired a major ruling party meeting this week following deadly ethnic violence in recent months.

The variance in attendance also shows how the relationship with China is absolutely crucial to African leaders—a point Ghanaian president Nana Akufo-Addo emphasized in his speech at the UN. Research from Development Reimagined has indicated that few other continental or country-specific bilateral summits have managed to attract as many African heads of states or pledges as FOCAC. And Chinese leaders reciprocate this goodwill, visiting the continent more often than their European or American counterparts, and announcing pledges to the tune of $60 billion in the next three years.

African countries are also prioritizing their engagements with each other by signing free trade agreements, discussing how to finance their own security, and working to reduce external mediation and interference in regional security affairs.

In these changing times, Ryder says the UN should work to bring African states into the fold and rejuvenate their commitment to pursuing common global goals. This, Ryder adds, will involve addressing the imbalances in the very foundation of the UN system and engaging these emerging states when they don’t need traditional aid or peacekeeping forces. “It’s a big task.”

*Called from Quartz Africa

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Africa’s most ambitious companies are winning by going pan-African
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Abdi Latif Dahir*

African companies are gradually realizing that their path to profit and growth is tied closely to the continent.

Leading companies in sectors as diverse as finance, manufacturing, transportation, retail, and media are expanding their businesses across borders to generate higher returns. In African Development Bank (AfDB)’s first Africa-to-Africa investment report, the multilateral financial institution says a pool of 300 companies are showing more confidence in the continent’s long-term growth, tailoring their business models to regional markets, hiring and training local talent, and building private-public partnerships.

The report specifically notes the example of Ethiopian Airlines, which through a mix of strategic investments, airline acquisitions, and pan-African partnerships has taken off as Africa’s largest airline. Financial institutions like Togo’s Ecobank, South Africa’s Standard Group, and the Kenya Commercial Bank were also lauded for adopting flexible cross-border strategies, promoting diversity in their business portfolio, and pushing governments to embrace regional integration.

AfDB estimates that between 2006 and 2016, intra-African greenfield investments grew from $4 billion to $10 billion. The number of intra-regional mergers and acquisitions also doubled from 238 deals in 2006 to more than 418 in 2016.

Africa is seeing better integrated trade these days, and the volatile global environment is helping to push nations to promote intra-regional investment as one way to shore up against external shocks. This is exemplified in the signing in March of the African Continental Free Trade Area, aimed at uniting a market of 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of $2.5 trillion. Countries are also improving on their pro-business climate: Sub-Saharan Africa was the region with the highest total number of reforms in terms of doing business in 2016/17, according to the World Bank. Companies are also realizing the potential for returns and impact are also here, given rising population numbers, increasing access to technology, and improving visa rules to facilitate free movement.

AfDB, however, says there’s a long way to go before businesses in Africa can have the resources and temerity needed to cross borders. These include access to finance, high tax rates, electricity shortages, besides regulatory challenges. Yet smaller firms can draw on insights from leading multinationals. Key among these lessons is building a strong domestic base first before launching regional or continental operations.

*Culled from Quartz Africa
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Namibian president wants land expropriated to boost black ownership
October 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
Namibian President Hage Geingob. (Credit: AFP)

Namibian President Hage Geingob. (Credit: AFP)

WINDHOEK (Reuters) – Namibia’s president called on Monday for a change to the constitution to allow the government to expropriate land and re-distribute it to the majority black population.

 “The willing-buyer willing-seller principle has not delivered results. Careful consideration should be given to expropriation,” President Hage Geingob said at the opening of the Second National Land Conference in the capital Windhoek.The southern African country wants to transfer 43 percent, or 15 million hectares (58,000 square miles) of its arable agricultural land, to previously disadvantaged blacks by 2020. At the end of 2015, 27 percent has been redistributed, according to the Namibia Agriculture Union.

“We need to revisit constitutional provisions which allow for the expropriation of land with just compensation, as opposed to fair compensation, and look at foreign ownership of land, especially absentee land owners,” Geingob said.

“It is in all our interest, particularly the “haves”, to ensure a drastic reduction in inequality, by supporting the redistributive model required to alter our skewed economic structure. We should all be cognizant of the fact that this is ultimately an investment in peace,” he said.

Namibia’s neighbour and regional economic powerhouse South Africa is also in the process of amending land ownership laws – a move that has shaken investor nerves locally and abroad, leading to a controversial tweet by United States President Donald Trump in August criticising the move by Pretoria.

As in South Africa, thousands of black Namibians were driven off their land in the 19th and 20th centuries, banished to barren and often crowded homelands known as Bantustans while being denied official ownership or tenure rights.

In the second quarter Namibia’s GDP contracted for the ninth straight quarter, the longest such streak since at least 2008.Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Richard Balmforth

*Reuters

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