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Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) aiming to become Africa’s premier think tank, Vera Songwe tells African Ambassadors
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
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The Rockefeller Foundation and EPIC-Africa launch the first African Civil Society Organization (CSO) Excellence Awards
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are awarded for excellence across eight (8) major elements of organizational capacity
DAKAR, Senegal, October 16, 2018/ — The Awards highlight the importance of organizational capacity for civil society organizations to achieve program impact. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are awarded for excellence across eight (8) major elements of organizational capacity. Applications for the African CSO Excellence Awards are now open

EPIC-Africa , with the support of The Rockefeller Foundation  has today launched the call for applications for the first African CSO Excellence Awards . The Awards highlight the importance of organizational capacity to achieve program impact, and showcase civil society organizations who demonstrate excellence across eight key elements of organizational capacity: Strategic Ability and Adaptability, Leadership and Governance, Financial Health and Management, Human Resources and Staff Development, Operations, Communications, Partnerships and Alliances and Monitoring and Evaluation.

The awards are now open to civil society groups across Africa to apply for the opportunity to fundraise on the international GlobalGiving Platform, benefit from a series of capacity building workshops, increase their media visibility and participate in networking opportunities through the African CSO Excellence Awards community.

EPIC-Africa is at the forefront of the charge to strengthen the infrastructure that supports civil society organizations and to deepen philanthropic impact in Africa. Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Office said, “As a major development partner in Africa, it is imperative that we invest in initiatives that highlight the importance of organizational capacity for program impact. We are delighted to support EPIC-Africa in this innovative approach to map the pan-African CSO sector and showcase the highest standards of organizational excellence among CSOs in Africa. These awards will also expand the opportunity for increased partnerships among key organizations on the continent, for greater impact.”

Rose Maruru, co-founder of EPIC-Africa added, “We are pleased to launch these awards to showcase the EPIC work that CSOs are doing all across Africa and make the case for ever more support for organizational capacity. This will allow CSOs to  continue to be catalysts for the transformational change that our continent needs.”

Africa has the youngest population in the world. According to the UNDP, by 2055, the continent’s youth population (aged 15-24), is expected to be more than double (http://bit.ly/2OtflLF) the 2015 total of 226 million.

Adwoa Agyeman, co-founder of EPIC-Africa commented that “Africa will be relying heavily on the CSO sector over the next few decades to truly maximize its demographic dividend.” She added that “it will take concerted effort around key areas such as education, healthcare, employability, governance and human rights to reshape the continent. We know that CSOs cannot fully deliver on Africa’s promise to its young people when they have, among others, financing, human resources, and communications challenges to deal with on a daily basis. We are committed therefore to highlighting those who are thriving despite difficult circumstances and to share their approaches so that others can also learn.”

The African CSO Excellence Awards are open until December 31, 2018. Candidates will be shortlisted between January and March 2019 with the final winners announced in April 2019.

EPIC-Africa (www.EPIC-Africa.org) seeks to enhance philanthropic impact by filling critical data and capacity gaps in the philanthropic market infrastructure in Africa. We envisage a vibrant philanthropic ecosystem with diverse, influential, sustainable African civil society groups at the center. EPIC-Africa contributes to this transformative vision by enabling: Greater visibility, increased resources, widespread communication, more diversified and steady funding, transparency, accountability and a resilient ecosystem.

 

About The Rockefeller Foundation:

For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s (www.RockefellerFoundation.org) mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today the Foundation is focused on securing the fundamentals of human well-being—health, food, power, and jobs—to ensure every family experiences dignity and opportunity in our rapidly urbanizing world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not.

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European Union Solar Renewable Energy Project Scores A First As Zimbabwe Moves Towards A Go Green Environment…
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

 Zimbabwe in its consented effort to bring Renewable Energy home has been supported by European Union, SNV which is Netherlands Development Corporation and Davani Trust to develop Solar Energy projects. . In a multi-facetted move to disseminate the outstanding Solar Energy Project, Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network and Practical Action conducted a Media Tour to news showcase the work so far done.

The Mashava Sustainable Solar Energy for Communities Project is located in Gwanda   Matabeleland South 800 kilometers away from the capital city of Harare, Matabeleland South Province. It consists of 400 panels with each 255 watts .It generates 100 kilowatts of energy which supplies 3 Irrigation Schemes , Mangongoni  , Sevasa and Rasta Gorge Irrigation , a clinic , Msendai Business Centre and Mashava .

An Expert in the field of Solar who works for Practical Action, Zibanai Kisimusi said the project is highly targeting 10,000 families around the area . However he said only a minimum number is at the moment utilizing the Energy resource because of the high costs in terms of payment.

‘’The challenge is that people in the areas surrounded are paying money in order for them to get the energy provision. However, it is a blessing to those at the school, clinic and some who can afford despite high costs.

‘’The cost of the renewable energy may sound high , but it’s not really high if we talk it in terms of energy utility for renewable energy support of the Green Energy for all . The high costs may be attributable to high standards of living.

‘’People in the area do farming along the Shashi and Thuli Rivers. This is their livelihood. This is Region 5 five, but they survive because of the Alluvial soils along the rivers . The soil is a bit fertile. They need water for sustainable Agriculture. The community has become livable particularly owing attention to Agricultural activities.’’

Mr Kisimisi said at the moment the community has means of survival because of the effort of these Humanitarian organizations which at first supplied energy for free. He pointed out that there is sustainability and livability in terms of Agriculture and food security because there are a total of 15 water pumps meant for the farming activities to move on well at the Gorge, Mangongoni and Sevasa schemes .

‘’Sustainability at the Centre of every development in terms of Agriculture is there yes because there are a total of 15 pumps , 8 hours supply . The Gorge has 41 farmers, Mangongoni 36 farmers and Sevasa 34 farmers,

‘’Sustainability’’, he reiterates, ‘’makes them be in a livable community. They are relying on both commercial crop farming and subsistence farming. They have better chances to feed the communities around the southern province.

‘’Livelihoods rely on this farming in support of this. However we call for more support though this may not completely do away poverty in the country. At list we reduce poverty and extreme hunger. As a country we move forward in success.

Professor Maria Tsvere a Lecturer in Sustainable Livelihoods at Chinhoyi University said it is a blessing to get donor funding done at the advantage of communities. However these people need training and input support in order for them to develop further. She also pointed that there is need for better models which practically must be put at the site,

‘’It is great work done by Donor Agencies. Poverty may be reduced and food security lifted up . Communities need training. Secondly, the need for better models at the site so that this sounds and looks practical.

‘’The kind of models spells out more on what the donor agency shows as an example on the ground pertaining what is being done and how best through practical demonstrations  activities are done and what they bring as profit to the community .’’

Giving a conclusion, Mazibisa came back into the discussion cycle. He said at the moment there is no smart –climate Agriculture. This, he said is impossible because of the Irrigation Technologies. He indicated that there is Flooding in terms of the Irrigation systems. Also Non-Governmental Organizations capacitating communities on smart climate, mitigation and adaptation and sustainable Environment are not yet quite active in the area.

The project which started in 2015 is going down in 2019. It stood up at a cost of US 1 million dollars. However there are fears that this may become a failed project is planning, leading, organizing and controlling fails community people in terms of holistic and strategic management.

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Zimbabwe’s Deeper Economic Impasse.Is There Need For Government Of National Unity ?
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

With elections over, Zimbabweans want to see politicians work together to move the country forward

With elections over, Zimbabweans want to see politicians work together to move the country forward

Zimbabwe continues to swim deeper into oblivion owing attention to current economic melt-down. All that used to depreciate is now decomposing to ashes. Following the introduction of 2% tax on all electronic transactions by the Minister of Finance Mthuli Ncube hell broke loose.

Food prices like cooking oil have risen from 3 dollars 50 cents to between 9 and 15 dollars. Fuel increase in price has also contributed. Some food stuffs like bread have high prices because of the short supply of flour. However, wheat is running short.

The crisis has prompted MDC T Leader Nelson Chamisa to be called for a meeting by Zimbabwe Council of Churches. Chamisa said recently that he is ready to meet ZANU PF for the meeting. The meeting, he pointed out is ready to work out on solutions.

‘’The country is under- going a crisis. I am ready to meet ZANU PF. We need to talk about issues faced by the country. As we talk, they are certain new challenges sprouting from the ground. It is important to meet with ZANU PF. This is really a crisis. As a country, let us solve this once and for all.

Chamisa according to most sections of society and church denominations is the central figure of acrimony in the Zimbabwe politics. They invited him for a meeting. Kenneth Mtata , Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches indicated that a crisis talk is the only maneuver in the Zimbabwean politics to solve thorny issues .

‘’Zimbabwe is in crisis. The only solution is to address thorny issues at hand. A dialogue of some sort is the only solution. We need to bring peace of mind to bring unity between the two. How-ever. This must not be a long hill climb.

Giving his few words comment, Dr Francis Danha said it is all about building on a new Zimbabwe. The problem lies with politics of greedy Leadership in the country. We have seen that the country is in squabbles. What then is the ultimate answer to problems we have?

‘’Politics is creating poverty for the country. This is not new. This has been on and on for some time. There can be meetings to come up with solutions but if it bounces, there is always an answer to questions remaining unanswered ‘’, he said .

Several companies have threatened to close. Big Department shops are running their day to day business because of the confidence they have with them. Many small shops in high density suburbs have remained closed for some days. To make it worse, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has separated Foreign Accounts from the Local Real Time Gross Settlements Accounts.

 

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AIMS launches novel masters in machine intelligence, a first in Africa
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS

Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS

KIGALI, Rwanda, 16 October 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA) /- Today, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) launched its African Masters in Machine Intelligence (AMMI) at its AIMS Rwanda Campus in partnership with Facebook and Google. AMMI is novel one-year intensive foundational masters that will offer Africa’s talented scientists and innovators world class training in machine intelligence, preparing them to think about new ways to solve local and global challenges.

“When Neil Turok created the AIMS in 2003, he was motivated by the notion that curiosity and intellectual ability was not limited by geographical location or race. He believed Africans could and should be doing cutting edge research in Africa. He was also motivated by the desire to see young Africans using advanced research in all fields to solve the challenges the continent faces. Fifteen years later and over 1800 graduates later, we still hold firm to those three principles and the AMMI program provides young Africans an incredible opportunity to use AI and machine learning to advance knowledge and solve the continent’s challenges,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, the President and CEO of AIMS.
The first cohort of AMMI includes 31 students from 11 countries including 40% women. Using the existing AIMS model of learning, lecturers from all over the world will teach in two three to six week blocks.
Prof. Moustapha Cissé, Founder and Director of the AMMI program at AIMS and Head of the Google AI Center in Ghana
“Every course at AMMI will be lectured by leading experts from prestigious international institutions and we plan to expand the program to other African countries starting next year. My secret dream is that in five years every course will still be taught by the best scientists in the field, the only difference will be that those scientists will be AMMI alumni,” said Prof. Moustapha Cissé, Founder and Director of the AMMI program at AIMS and Head of the Google AI Center in Ghana.
Dr. Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artififical Intelligence at Facebook
“I really enjoyed meeting the first cohort of the AMMI. What an amazingly diverse, eager and bright set of students! Facebook is really thrilled to support the AMMI and help nurture AI talent in Africa as it will be immensely valuable to whole AI community,” said Dr. Jerome Pesenti, VP of Artififical Intelligence at Facebook.
To see a recording of the launch, click here & to meet some of the AMMI students, click here 
Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS)
About AIMS
Founded in 2003, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) is a Pan-African network of centres of excellence for post-graduate training, research and public engagement in mathematical sciences. The AIMS network has five centres of excellence teaching a Masters in Mathematical Sciences, including a co-operative option with a direct link to industry in three centres. Currently, the network has over 1800 alumni from 43 African countries.

The network also includes research centres and programs with 90 researchers including six prestigious Chairs currently across the network. In Cameroon and Rwanda, AIMS is runs a gender-responsive teacher training program. As well, AIMS created two critical initiatives: Quantum Leap Africa to prepare Africa for the coming quantum revolution, and the Next Einstein Forum to propel Africa on to the global scientific stage.

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Investors to explore USD 82 million worth of business opportunities at the first Nutrition Investor Forum in Africa
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
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South Africa:50 000 Jobs sustained through the Workplace Challenge Programme
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments
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Think exponentially, not incrementally: How the rules of the game are changing in Africa’s banking sector
October 18, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Sunil Kaushal*

Sunil Kaushal, CEO, Africa & Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank

Sunil Kaushal, CEO, Africa & Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, October 17, 2018/ — Think exponentially, not incrementally: How the rules of the game are changing in Africa’s banking sector

An abundance of opportunities

We are fortunate to witness a period of monumental progress in Africa. The changes are visible across all sectors. African start-ups have raised a record breaking $560 million in 2017, an increase of 53% from the previous year. African governments have welcomed technology into the continent, hoping to inspire a revolution across all industries and sectors. Some of the brightest minds are determined to rewrite the rules of the game by harnessing technology to tackle some of the continents greatest challenges – with one of them being the distinct lack of access to banking services for large parts of the population. Only 4 years ago, an astounding 66% of Sub-Saharan Africans (http://bit.ly/2PDboRb) did not have a bank account. Now, Africa has been described as a “leapfrogger” with the application of a technology driven economic model to reach the unbanked.

FinTech remains to be the most appealing industry for investors as African start-ups look to bridge the financial gap. Several of the largest deals in 2018 involved African FinTech companies: Kenyan-based Cellulant raised close to $50 million from investors this year, while microfinance company Branch received another $20 million investment to continue funding their mission to bring digital financial services to the Sub-Saharan continent.

While some banks may feel threatened, an abundance of opportunities are hidden within this transformation, most of which come down to partnering with the disruptors. There is a clear chance to leverage existing customer relationships and a deep understanding of the sector in the form of a forward-looking collaboration, which can fundamentally improve ways of doing business on both sides.

Think exponentially, not incrementally

It is a reality that the financial industry is experiencing disruptions on all fronts. As banks, we have a choice as to how we approach and address this change. One of the most important principles to master this evolution is to move from managing people and processes to managing purposes and principles with an entrepreneurial mindset.

US-based Singularity University, one of the world’s leading incubators and think-tanks in the field of technology, stresses that the greatest challenge for established institutions is to reinvent themselves using a digital mindset by thinking exponentially and not incrementally. This doesn’t mean the core of what companies do today has to be discarded, rather it is about innovating to foster sustainable growth.

Driven by unhindered obsession

An impressively large number of companies as well as individuals are investing in research, innovation and ideas for execution to keep up with the ever-changing demands of African consumers. Just in the first half of 2018, nearly 120 deals between investors and start-ups were signed. The time when start-ups were considered small, insignificant companies is long over: in fact, with their entrepreneurial spirit and unconventional approaches, they have the power and ability to shape the future of the continent. It can even be said that the people leading these small enterprises hold the key to growth by prioritising the greater good over personal goals. This is perfectly aligned with our bank’s  mantra ‘Good enough will never change the world’.

During a recent trip to San Francisco, I had the opportunity to meet Patrick Collision, co-founder of Stripe (think PayPal). Started only seven years ago, Stripe displaces the need to have a merchant capability and enables sellers and buyers in e-commerce to invoice and collect payments. He believes it can be a large company, but it would have to have the mindset where people prioritise the greater good over personal goals. I thought this insight was fascinating, as for this kind of culture to grow, there must be unhindered obsession about doing better every single day.

Africa’s Bright Digital Future

Halfway through 2018, total funding for start-ups in Africa has increased by nearly four-fold compared to the first half of last year. Digital entrepreneurs are changing the Sub-Saharan continent, and we have an opportunity be part of this monumental transformation. However, it requires all of us to embrace both exponential thinking and the latest technology to the fullest. The banking sector has taken promising first steps in the right direction with a rage to think differently to support client needs in Africa. Our ‘Women-In-Technology’ incubator program in Kenya and the launch of our first truly digital Bank in Ivory Coast give me confidence we are on the right path. I am proud to see unhindered obsession and exponential thinking come to life despite the challenging hurdles of a global banking operation.

We must do everything we can to harness technology and champion the next generation of entrepreneurs in Africa. We must put our faith in people who are on a mission to accelerate the continent’s development. In the words of renowned African entrepreneur and philanthropist Tony Elumelu, we have a responsibility to ‘collectively invest in our young people, and if they succeed, we all succeed’. I am inclined to agree.

*Sunil Kaushal is  CEO, Africa & Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank

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Zimbabwe government receives US$1m grant from Russia to support low emission development strategy
October 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Climate Change Management Department director Mr Washington Zhakata

Climate Change Management Department director Mr Washington Zhakata

The government of Zimbabwe has received a US$1 million grant from
the government of Russia to implement a three year project on
Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC), according to Washington
Zhakata, Director for the Climate Change management office.
According to Zhakata, the project will deliver the Low Emission
Development Strategy, the country-wide Measuring, Reporting and
Verification (MRV) framework and also create linkages for low emission
investments with business.
Zhakata also added that the country had developed a Climate Smart
Agriculture (CSA) manual for agricultural education students meant to
better prepare graduates of the colleges of agriculture to carry out
farmer trainings and outreaches to promote new climate-smart
principles and practices.
Zimbabwe has been party to the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change since 1994 and has been active in discussions on the
Kyoto protocol, the Doha Amendment and the Paris Agreement through the
African Group of Negotiators. The country’s Nationally Determined
Contributions for Green House Gas (GHG) emission reduction were
submitted to the UNFCCC in 2015 and the country became a party to the
Paris Agreement in 2017.
Zhakata said that the government of Zimbabwe through the ministry of
Environment, Water and Climate has been making progress in setting the
tone for the achievement of the 33% per capita reduction in green
house gas emissions target in the energy sector by 2030.
He said that the national climate policy of 2017 speaks to the NDC
commitment while the national climate change response strategy dated
before 2015 will need to be updated.
It is reported that institutional arrangements for NDC
implementation have been set up in a manner that involves high level
coordination from the office of the president and cabinet as well as
broad participation through the NDC technical committee and its
sub-committees.
Zhakata says that progress is being registered in making the private
sector, government ministries, local authorities, research
institutions and CSOs understand the low emission trajectory that the
UNFCCC seeks to achieve in the next few decades and how the country
can strategically position itself.
“Challenges relating to domestic funding, limited access to
international financial flows and private sector awareness are
constraining progress towards creating an enabling environment for low
emission development,” Zhakata said.
It is reported that the Nationally Determined Contribution defines
priority actions to build resilience to climate change and pursue low
carbon development.
Resilience priority areas in Zimbabwe include managing climate
related disaster risks, reducing vulnerabilities in the agricultural
sector through adaptive crop and livestock management, climate smart
agricultural practices and improved management of water resources and
irrigation.
It is added that cross-sectoral adaptation efforts such as institution
of policies catering to the more vulnerable, gender and social groups,
sustainable agro-forestry practices and building capacity to support
diversification of livelihood have also been highlighted.
Zhakata says that the government of Zimbabwe identified the need to
develop further analysis on the measures proposed in the NDC to
prioritise interventions as well as to develop an implementation
framework of NDC mitigation actions.
The World Bank has been engaged for support to develop the NDC
implementation framework including a measuring, reporting and
verification system. The work is reported to have been ongoing and
expected to be completed before the UNFCCC facilitative dialogue to be
held in November/December 2018.The current work is focusing on the
energy sector.
According to Zhakata, the climate change management department
stands ready to continue providing overall policy guidance as the
country thrives to optimum preparedness in preparation for
implementation of the Paris Agreement from 2020 and beyond.
It is also reported that Zimbabwe has taken some significant strides
in preparation for implementation of the NDCs in terms of setting up
the required governance structure and mobilizing resources.
“However, more still needs to be done with regards to implementation
framework, finance for tangible projects, access to international
climate finance for large scale transformative programmes and
incentivising investors,” Zhakata said.
He added that further strategic engagement with the private
sector is necessary if the country’s NDCs are to be met.
Zhakata added that the country will be better prepared to implement
the NDCs from 2020 once a legal framework is in place for the
NDCs.
“More work appears to be required for sensitisation on NDCs both at
individual, institutional and systemic levels,” Zhakata said.

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Zim private media barred from covering commission of inquiry hearing
October 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Post election violence in Zimbabwe

Post election violence in Zimbabwe

Private media journalists were today, 16 October barred from entering the Commission of Inquiry into the post-elections violence that took place on August 1,
2018 in Harare, which is scheduled to conduct public hearings at the Cresta Hotel, Msasa, Harare, according to a statement released by the Media Institute for
Southern Africa (MISA)-Zimbabwe.
It is reported that the police details at the entrance only allowed the state-owned media into the venue. According to MISA, this is disconcerting as it is an inquiry that is supposed to draw participation from the public. “Particularly worrying is that trend in such conduct by the institutions established by the government and public officials. The same situation prevailed on the 5th of October 2017, when the then Vice President, who is the current head of State and Government, Emmerson Mnangagwa barred private media from his press conference” MISA said.
“It is therefore of MISA Zimbabwe’s concern that this action by the commission perpetuates a very dangerous precedent where such attitudes may cascade down to other government structures, effectively heightening the levels of media polarisation. It is the considered view of MISA Zimbabwe that the action by the commission runs against the grain of section 61 and 62 of the constitution of Zimbabwe that provides for freedom of expression and the media access to information respectively. In this regard, the media should be accorded unfettered access to such developments as they happen so that the citizens can make informed decisions” MISA said.
MISA Zimbabwe said that it is deeply concerned with the lack of awareness and somewhat the secretive nature within which the commission is conducting its business.
“There is need for heightened publicity in line with the country’s language diversity and media reach, so that there is active citizen participation”. MISA Zimbabwe has called on the commission to respect the constitution and further reminds it of the role of the media in keeping the nation informed, and that it should discharge its duties without undue interference or hindrances.

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Third edition of the Africa Forum in Egypt to advance trade and investment across Africa
October 17, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation of Egypt and COMESA Regional Investment Agency has confirmed dates for theAfrica 2018, a high-level forum offering participants an unparalleled platform for promoting trade and investment within the continent. The Forum will be held under the High Patronage of H.E. President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt on 8-9 December 2018, in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.
The Forum will be the biggest business-to-business and government-to-business gathering bringing together leading policy makers with captains of industry, financiers, major industrialists and young entrepreneurs from across Africa and beyond. This year’s edition takes place against an important backdrop with Egypt taking over the chairmanship of the African Union in 2019, making it a platform to help shape private sector priorities for the coming year. The theme for this year; ‘Bold Leadership and Collective Commitment: The third edition of the Africa Forum to take place in Sharm El-Sheikh on the 8-9 December, held under the High Patronage of H.E. President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, President of the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Advancing Intra-African Investments’ reflects the need for policy makers and the private sector to collaborate more closely and take tough decisions to advance and fast-track development across the continent. The organisers have confirmed that already five African heads of State had confirmed their participation including the newly elected Zimbabwean President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, and also President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, who has been leading the drive to get commitment from other African heads of State to sign the African Continental Free
Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
This year, the Forum will have a day focusing on the role of women in helping them define the continental priorities in a gathering called Women Empowering Africa. The organisers will convene women driving change across the continent and give them a platform to get together and agree on clear action points to ensure they have a stronger voice and more significant presence at the decision making table, as much in government as in the boardroom. A communiqué will be presented to the heads of state present highlighting their priority concerns and
aspirations.
Building on last year’s success, the organisers will be hosting their Young Entrepreneurs Day (YED) offering the continent’s rising stars the opportunity to meet a diverse set of investors as well as to hone their skills in some workshops tailored by specialist consultancies and leaders in their field. Speaking about the Forum, H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, reiterated her country’s commitment to working towards a unified vision for promoting economic co-operation among African nations: “The Forum aims to improve intra-African trade and investment for the benefit for all citizens on this continent. Egypt’s comprehensive socio-economic reform programme to transform our country continues to progress alongside efforts to advancing Africa’s sustainable development through greater cross-border business among our nations.”

Echoing this commitment was Heba Salama, COMESA Regional Investment Agency CEO, welcoming this
important community to the third edition of the Forum: “COMESA, now consisting of 21 countries following the admission of Tunisia and Somalia this year, continues to play a lead role in advancing Africa’s economic integration. As one of the most influential regional economic communities in Africa we have a pivotal role to play in engaging with business leaders and investors.”
The 2018 edition builds on the success of the previous editions, which have seen the participation of 11 Heads of State and more than 3,000 delegates from 80+ countries. This year the programme has been enhanced with a Women Empowering Africa day as well as our exclusive Presidential Roundtables with African leaders and CEOs as well as a Young Entrepreneurs Day.

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In Ethiopian leader’s new cabinet, half the ministers are women
October 16, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Paul Schemm*

Abiye Ahmed

Abiye Ahmed

 Ethiopia’s reformist prime minister announced Tuesday a new cabinet that is half female, in an unprecedented push for gender parity in Africa’s second-most-populous nation.

Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has marked his nearly seven months in office with staggering reforms for this once-authoritarian country, notably releasing thousands of political prisoners, making peace with its main enemy, Eritrea, and promising to open up the economy.

The new cabinet, which reduces ministerial positions to 20 from 28, has women in the top security posts for the first time in Ethiopia’s history. Aisha Mohammed will be in charge of defense, and Muferiat Kamil, a former parliamentary speaker, will head the newly formed Ministry of Peace.

In some ways, this could be one of the most important ministries in the government, though its name has garnered a degree of criticism on social media for its Orwellian sound. It oversees the federal police, the intelligence services and the information security agency, and it will take the lead in tackling much of the ethnic unrest that has swept the countryside since Abiy’s reforms.

“Our women ministers will disprove the adage that women can’t lead,” Abiy said in Parliament.

Although women have been in the cabinet before, they often held minor positions. In the new cabinet, in addition to defense and security, women will head the ministries of trade, transport and labor, as well as culture, science and revenue.

Awol Allo, an expert on Ethi­o­pia from Britain’s Keele University, said this was especially important because the lack of gender equality is a persistent problem in the country, which has strong patriarchal traditions.

“It is a very important and progressive move on the part of the prime minister and very consistent with the transformative agendas he’s been pursuing,” he said. “I also think it sends a strong message to young Ethio­pian women that one day they can take up positions in the government.”

Also represented in the new cabinet are often marginalized ethnic groups. A diverse nation of about 80 ethnicities, Ethi­o­pia has long been dominated by just a few groups.

Aisha, the new defense minister, comes from the arid and predominantly Muslim Afar region, while new Finance Minister Ahmed Shide is from the Somali region.

Hallelujah Lulie, an analyst based in Addis Ababa, pointed out the presence in the cabinet of two Muslim women who wear headscarves, an important inclusion in a country that is one-third Muslim.

“Muslims were historically underrepresented,” he said. “It is a good move. It projects a good image. It’s inspiring in many ways.”

While much depends on how the new cabinet will tackle the country’s many challenges, including job creation for an overwhelmingly young population and a difficult transition away from an authoritarian system, Hallelujah predicted that the new cabinet would calm tensions and set an important precedent.

Abiy was elected by the ruling party after years of anti-government protests shook the country. He immediately embarked on reforms and has promised free and competitive elections in 2020. The ruling party currently holds all the seats in Parliament.

The transition has not been easy. In the past year alone, ethnic strife has displaced 1.4 million people as old ethnic scores were being settled amid a security vacuum.

In many parts of the country, the struggle against the previous regime left government structures weak or nonexistent, making it difficult to enforce the rule of law.

The once-repressive police and army also have been struggling to find their roles in a new environment in which they had once operated with impunity.

“The state is still functioning in the hangover of an authoritarian regime,” Hallelujah said. “The army and the federal police are still having a hard time finding that balance and equilibrium between enforcing the law and respecting human rights.”

The country got a scare on Oct. 10 when 240 armed soldiers marched up to the prime minister’s residence demanding pay raises and provoking fears of a coup.

In the end, they were invited inside (without their weapons) and met by top officials, including Abiy, a former military man, who then did push-ups with them.

“Democracy is an existential issue for Ethi­o­pia. There is no option but multi-partyism,” Abiy said in an interview published Tuesday.

“Inclusiveness and coexistence is critical in Ethiopia because of differences in terms of tribalism, and religion and the virtually feudal system of land ownership which prevailed in the past,” he said.

*Washington Post

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