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Mines Secures $13M Series A to Grow Digital Credit Platform for Emerging Markets
August 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Rise Fund Leads Round As Startup Expands Markets

MINES Executives l-r Adia Sowho, Ekechi Nwokah, Kunle Olukotun

MINES Executives l-r Adia Sowho, Ekechi Nwokah, Kunle Olukotun

10 August, 2018. San Mateo, CA, US. Mines, a fintech startup re-inventing credit in emerging markets, has closed a Series A round of $13M led by The Rise Fund, a global fund managed by TPG Growth. Also participating are Velocity Capital, Western Technology Investments, First Ally Capital, X/Seed Capital, NYCA Partners, Persistent Capital, Singularity Investments, Trans Sahara Investments, and the Bank of Industry. Mines plans to use its investment for talent acquisition, continued growth in Africa, and expansion to South America and South-East Asia.

Mines provides a Credit-as-a-Service digital platform that enables institutions in emerging markets to offer credit products to their customers; no smartphone is required. Leveraging their own data sets, domestic institutions are able to serve loans to customers ignored by available credit systems and open up entirely new revenue opportunities.

“There are more than 3 billion adults globally without access to credit. Our vision is that every one of them will have instant access to credit in the next 10 years.” explains Ekechi Nwokah, Mines CEO. “We believe the best way to realize this vision is to partner with banks, retailers and mobile operators and power digital credit products tailored to their markets so they can create the customers of tomorrow, today.”

By mining high-volume data like phone records, bank records, and payment transactions in real-time, Mines can instantly assess credit risk in markets that lack robust credit bureau infrastructure. It then integrates its risk models with identity, origination, payments, loan lifecycle management, and customer service to form a holistic platform. The net result is a seamless user experience where partners’ customers can apply for and receive a loan in less than 60 seconds or make instant purchases with virtual or physical credit cards.

The company has hardened its proprietary technology in Nigeria where it has been used by over 1 million customers since launching in 2017. It is now the leading provider of consumer credit in the country, counting mobile operators 9mobile and Airtel, payment processors Interswitch and NIBSS, along with several banks amongst its partners. “What we have done differently is take Silicon Valley technology and built it into a product that is robust enough for emerging markets like Nigeria, Brazil, or Indonesia”, says Chief Scientist Kunle Olukotun. “We can extend credit to all types of customers, including customers without smartphones or even bank accounts as these are the people who need credit the most.”

As part of the financing, Yemi Lalude from TPG Growth and Willem Willemstein from Velocity Capital have joined Mines’ Board of Directors. Lalude says, “Mines combines world-class artificial intelligence and extensive use of data with a strong focus on local partnerships to build financial inclusion. We are excited to partner with them to drive financial access across the world.”

Mines started out as a research project on high performance artificial intelligence led by Olukotun, a professor of computer engineering at Stanford University. It came to life after a chance meeting with Nwokah, a computer scientist working on big data projects at Amazon Web Services, after which they teamed up to direct the technology towards solving the grand challenge of financial access. Both founders grew up in Africa and understand the challenges facing technology companies trying to solve problems in emerging markets without a deep respect for the complexities of local culture, knowing they need to take a different approach. They have been joined by VP Commercial Adia Sowho, who has successfully scaled several digital financial services at one of Nigeria’s largest mobile operators, to grow the business.

Sowho says “Scaling a digital product in Africa requires a deep understanding of two things – distribution and partnerships.  In Nigeria, Mines has demonstrated that its platform is flexible enough to enable partners with consumer reach across the income pyramid, activate a wide swath of distribution channels, from rudimentary USSD to more advanced web-based ones. We look forward to building more partnerships in Nigeria and beyond”.

Founded in 2014, Mines is a robust platform used to construct and power consumer-facing digital credit products that engage the world’s population currently underserved by formal financial services. The platform includes components such as APIs, frameworks, consumer insights tools and expertise on best practices that local enterprise partners can use to build transformative credit products for their own markets. Mines has offices in San Mateo, CA and Lagos, Nigeria.

The Rise Fund is the world’s largest global fund committed to achieving measurable, positive social and environmental outcomes alongside competitive financial returns — what we call  “complete returns.” The Rise Fund is managed by TPG Growth, the global growth equity and middle market buyout platform of alternative asset firm TPG. The Rise Fund is led by a group of influential thought leaders with a deep personal and professional commitment to driving social and environmental progress. The Rise Fund invests in education, energy, food and agriculture, financial services,  growth infrastructure, healthcare, and technology, media, and telecommunications companies that deliver complete returns.

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Namibia: Annual SADC Summit starts in Windhoek
August 11, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Andreas Thomas

Selma Ashipala-Musavyi (R), Namibia's Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International relations and Cooperation, takes over the chair of the Standing Committee of the Senior Officials of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the 38th Ordinary SADC Summit in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, on Aug. 9, 2018. The 38th Ordinary SADC Summit takes place under the theme "Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development" and will end on Aug. 18. (Xinhua/Nampa)

Selma Ashipala-Musavyi (R), Namibia’s Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International relations and Cooperation, takes over the chair of the Standing Committee of the Senior Officials of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the 38th Ordinary SADC Summit in Windhoek, capital of Namibia, on Aug. 9, 2018. The 38th Ordinary SADC Summit takes place under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development” and will end on Aug. 18. (Xinhua/Nampa)

Windhoek – The 38th Summit of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has started in Windhoek on Thursday, with Heads of State and Government, ministers and senior public officials from 16 member states expected to attend the 10 day event.

This year’s gathering is held under the theme “Promoting Infrastructure Development and Youth Empowerment for Sustainable Development”. The event started off with the meeting of SADC Standing Committee of Senior Officials at which Namibia took over the rotational chair of the regional committee.

The Standing Committee is the technical advisory that reviews and clears documents for the SADC Council of Ministers, which oversees the functioning of the SADC institution and ensures that policies and decisions are implemented.

Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of International Relations and Cooperation took over Kgabo Mahoai, the Director General for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation for South Africa.

In her acceptance statement, Ashipala-Musavyi says Namibia feels honored and privileged to be assuming the Chairmanship of the Standing Committee of the Senior Officials.

“Namibia feels honored and privileged to be assuming the Chairmanship of our Organization, who’s objectives are to achieve development and economic growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration. These are socio – economic challenges that we are all grappling with and aspirations for which we collectively continue to strive,” she said.

The regional summit is returning to Windhoek, where SADC was conceived 26 years ago.

Namibia hosted the similar summit in August 1992, during which leaders signed the SADC Treaty that that transformed the former Coordinating Conference into a Development Community that has been in existence since to Southern African Development Community.

Established through the Article 2 of the SADC Treaty, SADC was meant to achieve economic development, peace and security, and growth, alleviate poverty, enhance the standard and quality of life of the peoples of Southern Africa, and promote regional integration.

“It is here where the Southern African Development Community was birthed and here we have returned, to gauge not only it’s growth and progression, but more importantly, how SADC has continued to meaningfully touch the lives of our people,” Ashipala-Musavyi.

The Heads of State and Government will meet on 17-18 August, during which Namibia President Hage Geingob will take over the chairmanship of SADC from his South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa.

Zambian President Edgar Lungu will also be confirmed as the new chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defense and Security Cooperation, taking over from President João Lourenço of Angola.

Another point of interest is President Azali Assoumi of the Union of Comoros, who will attend the SADC Summit after the Island nation, was admitted to the regional body as its 16th member last year.

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Big Barrels: The New Narrative on Africa’s Oil & Gas that is Captivating Global Markets
August 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
The English version of the book was launched in English in June 2017 at Africa Oil & Power 2017 in Cape Town, and has since become a huge hit in Africa and abroad
 

Author NJ Ayuk, a prominent African energy lawyer

Author NJ Ayuk, a prominent African energy lawyer

LONDON, United Kingdom, August 9, 2018/ — A year after its release, the global momentum created by the bestseller on Africa’s oil and gas industry, “Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity”, has led to its re-launching in French, Spanish and German.

“The narrative of the book makes its success,” explains author NJ Ayuk, a prominent African energy lawyer. “Big Barrels tells a hidden story of Africa’s oil & gas industry, one that speaks of positive achievements and lays out the capabilities such an industry has to transform the future of African economies and people.”

The English version of the book was launched in English in June 2017 at Africa Oil & Power 2017 in Cape Town, and has since become a huge hit in Africa and abroad, taking aim at the perception that in Africa oil and gas can do no good, arguing against the perception of a “resource curse.”

The book uses specific case studies from countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Angola, Tanzania and Equatorial Guinea to showcase what African nations have done right with regards to exploiting their oil and gas resources. It notably highlights specific areas of success including good governance in Ghana, environmental stewardship in Gabon and employment and enterprise creation in Nigeria. In doing so, Big Barrels effectively allows Africans to recapture the narrative surrounding their oil & gas industry, and open it up to non-cursing, African voices.

Since its first launch, Big Barrels has received extensive global media attention, being notably repeatedly featured and debated over on BBC Africa, CNBC, Forbes Africa, Bild Zeitung, Financial Afrik, SABC, DW and Voice of America. As Funke Michaels, a Mason Fellow at Harvard University, said in a review, “I see readers coming away encouraged by these cases, and effectively freed from the myth that Africa cannot be cured of the age-old “resource curse.”

The new languages editions of the book will be launched at Africa Oil & Power 2018 in Cape Town from Sept. 5-7.  The book can be ordered from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other retailers.

A leading energy lawyer and a strong advocate for African entrepreneurs, NJ Ayuk is recognized as one of the foremost figures in African business today. A Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, one of Forbes’ Top 10 Most Influential Men in Africa in 2015, and a well-known dealmaker in the petroleum and power sectors, Ayuk has dedicated his career to helping entrepreneurs find success and to building the careers of young African lawyers. As founder and CEO of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African law firm, Ayuk strives through his work to ensure that business, and especially oil and gas, impacts African societies in a positive way. Ayuk graduated from University of Maryland College Park and earned a Juris Doctor from William Mitchell College of Law and an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology.

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South Sudan president Kiir grants amnesty to Machar, all rebels
August 10, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Kiir and former Vice Presdient Riek Machar. South Sudanese are hopeful the peace accords and amnesty could bring about lasting peace

President Kiir and former Vice Presdient Riek Machar. South Sudanese are hopeful the peace accords and amnesty could bring about lasting peace

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir granted a general amnesty to rebels in South Sudan’s civil war, including his former deputy Riek Machar, days after signing a power-sharing agreement in the latest effort to end a five-year civil war.

This also comes a day a rights organization said authorities in Africa’s youngest country should also free its unarmed critics.

South Sudan’s president has granted amnesty to armed opposition leader Riek Machar and all rebel groups

The amnesty order was read out on state-run television late on Wednesday evening, three days after president Kiir, SPLM-IO leader Machar and the heads of other groups signed a revitalized power-sharing peace agreement in the Sudanese capital Khartoum on August 05, 2018.

I declare republican order number 14 for the year 2018 for the grant of general amnesty to the leader of SPLM-IO Dr Riek Machar and other estranged groups who waged war against the government of the republic of South Sudan,” read the order broadcast by the state media late Wednesday.

South Sudan has descended into another civil war in 2013 after the political row between president Kiir and Dr. Machar that has killed tens of thousands, forced 2.5 million population to flee their homes and created Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the 1994 Rwandan genocide and ruined the country’s oil-dependent economy.

The conflict has often been fought along ethnic lines. This is the second agreement after a similar peace deal signed in 2015 fell apart a year later in deadly clashes that saw Dr Machar flee into exile.

Dr. Machar was freed this year from house arrest in South Africa where he had been held since fleeing South Sudan in 2016.

As part of the power-sharing deal, Kiir will remain president and Machar will return to the country as the first vice president, one of five vice presidents, a similar agreement fell apart in July 2016.

President Kiir also ordered the army to allow unrestricted access to humanitarian agencies to respond to massive humanitarian needs across the country and to respect the ceasefire.

SPLM-IO is the largest of the rebel groups fighting Kiir’s government, and fighters allied to it control several areas in South Sudan. Whereas other anti-government groups have also emerged, some of which have fought against each other.

Despite the agreement that Kiir and Machar signed over the weekend in Sudan, the working relations between the two principals remained fragile.

The SPLM-IO spokesperson Lam Paul quoted said president Kiir was in no position to grant amnesty to anyone after overseeing the atrocities and multiple cease-fire violations committed by his troops.

“Salva should instead seek for forgiveness from Dr. Machar in particular and South Sudanese in general,” Paul told AP.

Paul further added that the amnesty will only be genuine once Kiir observes all the conditions agreed upon in the deal signed on Sunday.

 “Machar can only come to Juba after the pre-interim period when the unified forces are deployed in Juba and other major towns in South Sudan,” Paul said, quoted by Reuter.

However, observers said that this may give Machar much confidence and other rebels a genuine reason to return to the country without the fear of the repetition of the 2016 incident.

Multiples of citizens said a lot still is needed such as the genuine cessation of hostilities and ending the war of words among the warring parties.

The United States last month said it was “skeptical” the two men whose rivalry has been so destructive could lead the way to peace under the new agreement.

South Sudan’s government insists things will be different this time, with government spokesman Michael Makuei saying last week that Machar has “learned the hard way.”

However, the warring parties leaders from the sides of the conflict are seem to end the war because they have run out of money and they need cash to continue hold on power. For instance, if oil flow increases, and more money goes into economic, then they will find a good reason to abandon the war and to enjoy the profits for peace.

Machar’s troops are expected to go to cantonment sites for training to be unified with the government army.

Although, the implementation of peace takes a lot of time than signing a piece of paper, the two principals and other parties’ leaders have committed themselves to implement the peace deal.

The analysts described it as ‘a good gesture toward trust building that will enhance the smooth and genuine implementation of the recently signed power – sharing deal.’

Deng Jacob, resident in Juba, said it demonstrated the ability to forgive and to be forgive and that means, it can forge a room for forgiveness [if president implemented it] amongst the South Sudanese and may paved to the reconciliation process in the country.

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Congo’s Kabila will not stand in presidential election
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Amedee Mwarabu*

President Kabila

President Kabila

KINSHASA (Reuters) – Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila will not stand in December’s presidential election, a spokesman said on Wednesday, announcing that former interior minister Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary would be the ruling coalition’s candidate.

The announcement by spokesman Lambert Mende at a news conference puts an end to years of speculation about whether Kabila would defy term limits to run for a third term.

Kabila was due to step down in 2016 at the end of his constitutional mandate but the election to replace him was repeatedly delayed. That sparked protests in which the military and police killed dozens of people. Militia violence also rose in the country’s volatile eastern borderlands.

Kabila’s political allies had floated various legal arguments they said would justify his running again but he came under strong pressure from regional allies like Angola as well as the United States and EU to stand down.

The selection of Ramazani is, however, a defiant move by Kabila. A former interior minister, he is under European Union sanctions for alleged human rights abuses, including deadly crackdowns by security forces on protesters.

“We are all going to align behind (him),” Mende said. “It is Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, permanent secretary of the (ruling) PPRD.”

His choice of a die hard loyalist suggests that Kabila, who came to power after his father’s assassination in 2001, will remain closely involved in national politics after bowing out.

Kabila will remain at the head of his People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and has installed loyalists across the federal bureaucracy, including in the courts and in the military.

But the announcement that he will not run again will ease fears in the region and beyond that a Kabila candidacy would drag the country back into the civil wars of the turn of the century in which millions died, mostly from hunger and disease.

The Dec. 23 vote should now herald Congo’s first democratic transition of power following decades marked by authoritarian rule, coups and deadly conflict.

Mende said that Ramazani was on his way to the electoral commission headquarters in the capital Kinshasa to file his candidacy.

Several opposition candidates, including former vice president Jean-Pierre Bemba and the president of Congo’s largest opposition party, Felix Tshisekedi, have also registered to run.

They fear that the goodwill Kabila could earn from not seeking a new term could make it easier for his coalition to cheat. They say voter rolls are unreliable and are suspicious of electronic voting machines due to be used for the first time.

A nationwide opinion poll last month showed opposition candidates collecting a significant majority of the vote with potential candidates from the ruling coalition trailing far behind.

 *Reuters
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Namibia: Land debate heating up ahead of land conference
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Andreas Thomas

President Geingob

President Geingob

Windhoek – Tension is mounting amongst different stakeholders in Namibia over land reform question, with calls to amend the constitution to allow for expropriation of land without compensation and the recognition of ancestral land rights.

A heated debate is raging in the southern African country about how best to resolve the skewed land ownership that still being dominated by white minority, 28 years after independence.

In order to find a lasting solution, the government has scheduled a national land conference in October 2018, a platform for Namibians from to take stock of the post-independence land reform process and chart out a new course.

The second land summit to the held in the capital Windhoek is of most importance, after pronouncements made at the first land dialogue in 1991 failed to resolve the land question.

In preparation for the watershed national dialogue on land, the Ministry of Land Reform held regional consultations in July 2018 to garner inputs that will form part of the agenda for debate at the conference slated for 1-5 October.

And different opinions have emerged from the regional consultations. On side, are communities that are demanding that government expropriate farmlands without compensation from the minority white, who still owns majority of productive agricultural land.

The Ovaherero and Nama speaking communities that reside in southern part are vocal about the restitution of ancestral land that their forbearers were dispossessed of during the subsequent colonization of Namibia by the Germans and South Africans between 1883 up until independence in 1989.

On the other side are communities in northern regions that have never suffered land dispossessions by the colonizers, are not supporting the idea to recognize ancestral land claim.

When Namibia gained independence in 1990, the new country inherited an extremely skewed land ownership in favour of the whites.

At the time, 69.6 million hectares of productive agricultural land, 36.2 million hectares of 52% was in the hands of about 5000 white farmers. Majority of blacks that represent over 90% of the population shared 33,5 million hectares of mostly unproductive land in communal land.

The first land conference skirted around the issues of land expropriation without payment and the ancestral land claims, which is currently haunting the SWAPO-led administration.

 The government instead committed to buy backs some of the land from the white landowners through the willing seller-willing buyer concept in accordance with the Agricultural (Commercial) Land Reform Act of 1995.

However, the willing seller-willing buyer failed to yield the desired result to acquire 5 million hectares of commercial land by 2020.

The Ministry of Land Reform has so far bought managed to buy 513 commercial farms measuring 3, 1 million hectares worth N$1.7 billion ($131 million) since independence. The ministry has earlier said it need a further N$6.1 billion ($470 million) in the next three years to buy average 633,333 hectares per year to meet the 2020 target.

Despite the noble gesture behind the willing seller-willing buyer, the government found it difficult to acquire because of white landowners that have glossily inflated prices.

According to the land reform ministry, landowners were charging government an average N$3200 ($247) per hectares thus N$2billion ($154 million) is required per annum.

Many critics have dismissed the upcoming second national conference on land as a sham, and accusing the administration of lacking clout to take drastic measures to resolve the matter.

President Hage Geingob recent noncommittal comment over the calls to reclaim ancestral land has added fuel to the perception that his government lack clout to take on the land challenge.

“Namibia is our ancestral land, therefore we fought for it and we got our ancestral land back,” President Geingob made the remarks while officiating at 2018 Eenhana Expo in the northern Ohangwena region last week.

These remarks infuriated the Ovaherero Traditional Authority (OTA), whose secretary general Mutjinde Katjiua has accused President Geingob and his administration of playing a ‘very dangerous game’ by trying to engineering a political outcome of the upcoming land summit.

Geingob has in the past been criticized for making contradictory remarks regarding land debate, including that his government has no intention of expropriating land without compensation.

In a leaked official land position paper, the OTA is claiming a bulk of central Namibia as part of its pre-colonial land.

These include areas, in which major cities are located including Windhoek in Khomas region, others in Erongo, Ohaheke and Otjozondjupa regions.

However, Martin Elago, the chief regional officer of the Oshana region has emphasized that the northern regions are against calls for ancestral claims because “all Namibians have the rights to get land whenever they want to settle in the country”.

About half of Namibia is made of Aawambo people that resides in northern part of the country, and a dominant force behind the ruling SWAPO Party.

The Oshiwambo speaking people that made up 49% of the population hold key positions in politics, and government including state-owned entities.

There is a sentiment amongst the Ovaherero (7.5%) and Nama communities that the land resettlement programme is favouring the Oshiwambo speaking people that have never lost any land.

Most black elites including those aligned to the former liberation movement have managed to buy close to 1000 commercial farms through private finances and affirmative-action loans provide by the state Agricultural Bank of Namibia.

Many are beneficiaries of the land resettlement programme that was meant to benefit landless people who cannot afford to buy land.

 Meanwhile, the Namibia Agriculture (NAU), which represents the interests of white commercial farmers, has warned against land expropriation without compensation, that it may trigger economic calamity. NAU’s executive manager, Roelie Venter told media that the union supports land expropriation “with compensation within the confines of the law as provided in the Constitution.

The opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) has also waded into the land debate by cautioning from turning the scheduled land conference into a political gimmick.

The dialogue to be genuine, RDP secretary general Mike Kavekotora said it must resolve the urban land, ancestral land, national resettlement including the ownership of land by absentee foreign landowners.

According to the Ministry of Land Reform, foreign nationals mostly the Germans and South Africans own 281 commercial farms measuring over 1.07 million hectares.

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Choosing Peace For The Horn Of Africa
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

 By Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka*

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, second left, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, hold hands as they wave at the crowds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday July 15, 2018. Official rivals just weeks ago, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have embraced warmly to the roar of a crowd of thousands at a concert celebrating the end of a long state of war. A visibly moved Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, clasping his hands over his heart, addressed the crowd in Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic, on his first visit to the country in 22 years. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, second left, and Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, center, hold hands as they wave at the crowds in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sunday July 15, 2018. Official rivals just weeks ago, the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea have embraced warmly to the roar of a crowd of thousands at a concert celebrating the end of a long state of war. A visibly moved Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki, clasping his hands over his heart, addressed the crowd in Ethiopia’s official language, Amharic, on his first visit to the country in 22 years. (AP Photo/Mulugeta Ayene)

The Horn of Africa and the global community witnessed two dramatic events on July 8 and July 14 as the leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea visited each other respectively. The smile and the big hug exchanged by the Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Eritrean counterpart President Isaias Afwerki on Sunday, July 8 surprised many people who have followed the bitter conflict and sour relationship between the two countries in the last few decades. The two historic visits we have witnessed these past days express the joy and hope that come with ‘choosing peace.’ To further the peace process, the embassy of Eritrea in Ethiopia was opened once again on Monday July 16.

From the UN general assembly vote to make Eritrea a central component of Ethiopia in 1952 to the formation of Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) in 1958 and the decades following the two events, the two countries have had turbulent relationship especially few years after the independence of Eritrea in 1993. Between 1998 and 2000, the crisis reached its pick and had continued these past two decades with attendant human, economic, mutual distrust, political and social losses.

The Ethiopian and Eritrean crisis negatively impact the Horn of Africa as is evident in   Djibouti and Somalia. The area has been affected by years of famine, disease, low economic development, weak governance, corruption, inefficiency, inadequate social services and the growth of different militia groups. These threats to human well-being and peace in developing countries that should apply their little resources to promote the dignity of persons and communities torn apart by avoidable conflicts show the nobility in the decision of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and President Isaias Afwerki a noble one.  A careful and committed completion of this process will reassure the return of peace and development in the region. It is a movement of courage because order requires courage to say no to violence.

In a time when African peace is continuously threatened locally and regionally from South Sudan to DR Congo, Burundi to the Central African Republic, Cameroon to Nigeria, etc., with untold hardship, deaths, displacements, and starvation, every step towards peace and reconciliation must be appreciated. In a time in the continent when millions of children die of malnutrition and diseases of all sorts resulting from violent conflict situations, when women and their daughters are mercilessly raped and violated by security agents and militia groups alike, when the Mediterranean sea and the desert have become the graveyard of African youths fleeing their continent in search of life and hope, peace ought to be pursued with every sense of urgency. The destruction of human, social, moral and economic fabric and resources of Africa through violent conflicts invite us to use nonviolent initiative for peace as a way of life.

The gesture of the two leaders represent what it means to choose peace as they bear eloquent testimony to the words of the Psalmist, “how good, how delightful it is to live as brothers all together”(Psalm. 133: 1, The New Jerusalem Bible). The above was illustrated when the Ethiopian Prime minister’s chief of staff said to the President of Eritrea, ‘welcome home President Isaias.’ Peace is possible when we make the courageous choices and understand that “it is by considering our peers as brothers and sisters that we will overcome wars and conflicts” (Francis, 2016). Peace is possible when we understand that we are ‘one family under God’ irrespective of our religious, political, ethnic, social and cultural identity and affiliation.  Peace benefits all just as war destroys all.  The gesture of the two leaders is a sign of hope for the millions who have waited for the day of peace in the region. The day of order introduced by this brilliant move must be appreciated as we look back to the cost of conflict suffered the two countries and their neighbors as well as humanity at large.

It is important to remind ourselves that in the last two decades, the conflict between Ethiopia and Eritrea has caused among other things 80,000  deaths, more than 600,000 displacements of people, and a massive damage to the economy of both countries and their neighbors( (Negash & Tronvoll, 2000;  (Bazebih, 2014). Thus, “the war left ineffaceable imprints in the minds of the schoolchildren in Mäqällä. The inhumane killing of innocent children in Aydär is still fresh in the minds of many residents and families of the victims. The Eritrean leadership claimed that the bombing was targeting a military site but in reality, it was the Aydär Elementary School’s 58 pupils and civilians that lost their lives and 185 were injured by cluster bombs (Tronvoll, 2003). Most shockingly, “at the height of the war, Ethiopia increased the total size of its army from 60,000 to 350,000 and increased its defense expenditure from $95m in 1997/98 to $777m in 1999/2000. Overall, the cost of the war for Ethiopia was nearly $3bn. In the meantime, the size of Eritrea’s army increased to 300,000 (almost 10 percent of the population) through National Service Conscription following the outbreak of the war, and the government has been using the intractable stalemate between the two countries as a justification not to demobilize the unsustainably high number of troops for a small nation like Eritrea” (Allo, 2018).

Rev Fr Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka

Rev Fr Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka

What the bitter truth about the two countries and all of us must deal with is that in the destructive conflict, the two developing countries lavished hundreds of millions of dollars on the war. Thus, the resources could have been used to fight diseases, poverty and other development issues that threaten the dignity, existence, and freedom of the poor citizens of the countries and their neighbors. From the thirty years of war with the Mengistu regime to the present times, the two countries have known the harsh cost and consequences of war.

Looking back to the loss of the two countries in the last two decades, Abiy and Afirkwi in the previous few days re-affirm by their action that , “violence is wrong  that we can live in peace, that peace works, that peace is possible, indeed  that peace is the only way for the human family to live and survive.” (Dennis, 2018). The two leaders have recognized that “of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare” (Madison, 1795). Both countries cannot regain what they lost in war, but they can avoid more losses by refusing to adopt the culture of war and violence. Precious lives were cut short in the conflict of the last two decades putting families and communities in pain and sadness.

The two leaders by this act are chatting a new path for Africa and the global community. They teach us to embrace nonviolence initiative as a way of life. This is a unique moment in African history. A moment to reawaken the consciousness that peace is about dealing with our differences in a nonviolent manner as ‘build bridges, fight our fears and pursue a style of dialogue that is open and sincere seeking the good of all citizens” (Francis, 2015). This special moment invites African leaders, stakeholders and all people of good will to see from the lens of John Paul 11 that, “war is a lie….because it destroys what it says it wants to defend”(John Paul 11, 2002). For two decades, war has lied to Ethiopia and Eritrea, and by their noble gesture, Ahmed and Afwerki say no to the lies war.

What if we say no to the lies of war and conflict in other parts of Africa where millions of our people have lost their lives?  How many lives do we defend by killing our people? How can we not see the pain of the child whose ribs can be counted because of the lies of war? How can we not know the agony of the woman who walks hundreds of miles with her children and loads on her head in search of shelter and peace because of the lies of war? How can we not feel the tears of the young girl who has been raped and violated many times because of the myths of war? How can we not see the lies of war in the child soldier who has been forced to carry the gun, kill and be traumatized all his life? How can we not see the destruction of Africa with our own hands at this time? A friend of mine from Ethiopia told me last Monday that he cried when he saw how the people of Eritrea came out to the streets to receive this good news of peace. He said to me, ‘the common man does want war, war is designed by the arrogance and interest of the elites’.  It is evident that, “for much too long, powerful people and political decision-makers have been promoting a paradigm that justifies enormous loss of human life and widespread destruction of the planet in pursuit of an elusive peace, false security, national geopolitical interests and tremendous profit for few people and companies”(Dennis, 2018). The poor people in Africa ask our leaders for just a peaceful environment as they struggle to survive.

African elites who have become conflict entrepreneurs ought to listen to the voices of citizens as we saw in Eritrea and Ethiopia this last week. African elites need to see in the action of Abiy and Afwerki a call to embrace ‘active nonviolent action’ as a tool for social change and African transformation.  A peaceful environment where justice and dignity of all are upheld enlarges people’s freedom and choices. The poor citizens in Africa are mostly affected devastatingly by wars, not the elites. African political leaders and elites need to appreciate that peace starts from within just as these two leaders have shown. The goodwill, the resolve, the process and implementation ought to begin from within not neglecting external contributions.

Is the world listening to these two voices from the Horn of Africa? .Because we do not hear the sounds of bombs and guns in the Horn of Africa, the view of peace echoed by these two leaders may be ignored. Gestures such as the two leaders made this last week must be encouraged in Africa as effort must be made stop supplying arms to Africa thereby reducing African citizens to objects for money making by transnational companies and their governments. Arms and we open of war do not build peace. Disarmament should be encouraged and promoted by local and global policymakers.  Are the warmongers and those who specialize in increasing military spending, building and bragging for nuclear weapons armament listening to these two leaders? Are governments, global and regional regimes, transnational co-operation who see Africa as a money making a machine for weapon transaction listening to these voices re-affirming that we spend much less to build peace than to embark on war?

What if we choose peace and promote the path to nonviolence as Abiy and Afwerki have demonstrated? The action of these two leaders is at the core of the Nonviolence initiative of Pax Christi International encapsulated in the understanding that various forms of violence at the cultural, structural, systemic levels that affect interpersonal, social and international relationships can be transformed without resorting to violent means (Dennis, 2018). What we witnessed from the two leaders is a statement that says no to more than two decades of war as a means of addressing differences. They have seen that “Peace is the only true direction of human progress – and not the tensions caused by ambitious nationalisms, nor conquests by violence,nor repressions which serve as the mainstay for a false civil order”(Paul VI, 1968)

Our hope is that the step initiated by these two leaders and all people of goodwill restores peace in the Horn of Africa.  The global community is urged to embrace the ‘Nonviolence Initiative’ of Pax Christi International, make it a lived experience and approach for sustainable peace because war no matter how just it looks is always “a defeat of humanity” (Francis, 2013). It is the position of nonviolence initiative of Pax Christ that extraordinary steps such as the one taken by Abiy and Afwerki can heal and reconcile peoples and the planet more than any weapon war of war. Battle defeats us. War diminishes us and questions our moral fabric.

*Rev. Fr. Canice Chinyeaka Enyiaka is a Roman Catholic Priest. He is a Doctoral Candidate at Howard University in Washington DC.

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Help Trigger Necessary Political Will in Africa -Akufo-Addo To Moot Court Participants
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Papisdaff Abdullah

President Akufo Addo

President Akufo Addo

Ghana’s President Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo has charged participants at this year’s Human Rights Moot Court Competition to use the academic exercise to trigger the necessary political will in their respective countries on the African continent to deepen respect for human rights.

Delivering the keynote address at the 27th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition at the Great Hall, University of Ghana Monday, President Akufo-Addo said that on the 19th of December, 2018, the world would be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The declaration, according to the President, has since been the basis of considerable advancement in the universal protection of human rights. The enforcement of the global instrument in Africa, however, cannot be said to have been fully achieved yet.

President Akufo-Addo thus said the inhabitants of the African continent have a sacred task to ensure that the fight for the protection and respect of human rights remains a constant one.

Quoting from, Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa, President Akufo-Addo said, “One could hardly think of a better way to advance the cause of human rights than to bring together students who are the leaders, judges and teachers of tomorrow, from different countries, with Chief Justices and Professors, to debate some of the crucial issues of our time in the exciting and challenging atmosphere of a courtroom, where they can test their arguments and skills against one another in a spirit of fierce but friendly competition.”

On that score, President Akufo-Addo urged the “mooters” to argue out their views on human rights strongly to catch the attention of the leaders of the continent for their necessary action.

Representative of the Organizers

The Director of the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, (organizers of the Moot Court Competition), Professor Frans Vilijoen, in his address expressed the excitement of the organizers over the kind of energy and preparation being invested into the competition by all 19 countries who are participating in this year’s challenge.

He also commended the University of Ghana for the tremendous investment they have made in ensuring that the competition goes on smoothly.

The Moot Court Competition

The African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the largest gathering of students, academics and judges around the theme of human rights in Africa.

This annual event brings together all law faculties in Africa, whose top students argue a hypothetical human rights case as if they were before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The competition continuously prepares new generations of lawyers to argue cases of alleged human rights violations before the African Court.

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Mnangagwa In Firm Control As President Elect Basks In Glow of Congratulatory Messages
August 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

President Mnangagwa  has been basking in the glow of congratulatory messages

President Mnangagwa has been basking in the glow of congratulatory messages

On Monday the 30th of July 2018, Zimbabweans residing in the country went to cast their votes to choose their representatives in local government and the House of Assembly as well as to elect a ‘new’ president.

On Election Day, there was no report of any election-related violence, a stark contrast to what happened in previous elections when numerous election-related violence cases were recorded. Almost all polling stations closed at 7 pm on Election Day with a few closing later as there were still people queuing to cast their votes.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) started announcing its election results the following day, first to be announced both by ZEC and at District Command Centres were local government election results. Next, to be announced, this time by ZEC only were House of Assembly election results. After all the House of Assembly results were announced, ZEC took a few hours (nearly a day) before announcing the Presidential election results.

Emmerson Mnangagwa, the president of ZANU (PF) was declared the President-Elect assuming the mandate of leading Zimbabwe for the following five years.

Soon after the announcement of the results, congratulatory messages from all corners of the world started to pour in for Emmerson Mnangagwa. Below is a rundown of the congratulatory messages directed to president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa from different world leaders and global influential persons.

A high number of influential people and leaders from across the globe took turns to congratulate Emmerson Mnangagwa on his victory. Rev. Jesse L. Jackson Snr in a statement said that he congratulates “His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa as the democratically elected President of The Republic of Zimbabwe.” He went on to thank the majority of Zimbabweans who “voted in peace, demonstrating their determination to strengthen democracy in their country.”

The President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko sent a message to president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa stating that he is confident that the leadership of Mnangagwa will “contribute to the prosperity of the country and the quality of life of people.” He went further to state that he expects the cordial relations between his country and Zimbabwe to strengthen.

From South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) which is the ruling party sent a message which reads, “We want to take this opportunity to congratulate ZANU (PF) for having won a majority of seats in the Zimbabwean National Assembly. We also congratulate Mr Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election as president of Zimbabwe.” ANC President and also the President of The Republic of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa tweeted, “Congratulations to His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa on his election as President of Zimbabwe. We urge the people of Zimbabwe to accept the outcome of the election, or follow the legal route should they wish to challenge it. We look forward to great working relations with you.”

According to several media outlets, Cyril Ramaphosa also called Emmerson Mnangagwa and directly congratulated him.

Also from South Africa, the Economic Freedom Fighters, a party led by Julius Malema sent a congratulatory message which reads, “The EFF congratulates the newly elected President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU (PF)… We take this opportunity to wish him well in his tenure as new President in a Zimbabwe free of Mugabe’s autocratic leadership… We call on all Zimbabweans, in particular, the opposition parties, to accept the electoral outcome and continue to build the new Zimbabwe based on peace and stability.”

From Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza tweeted, “Dear Mr President @edmnangagwa, on behalf of the Burundian People and on my own behalf, I would like to extend my sincere congratulations on your election as President of Zimbabwe. I wish you much success and good health for the prosperity of your country and Africa.”

President John Magufuli from Tanzania tweeted, “Cde. Mnangagwa On behalf of the Government and people of Tanzania, I convey my sincere congratulations on your victory in the Presidential Election of Zimbabwe. Your victory is a reflection of the confidence reposed in you by the people of Zimbabwe in leading them to prosperity.”

Inside the country, the president-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa also received congratulatory messages from The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe, Cdes Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri (national chairperson), Pupurai Togarepi (Secretary for Youths Affairs), Marble Chinomona (Secretary for Women’s Affairs), Engelbert Rugeje (Political Commissar), Obert Mpofu (Secretary for Administration) and Simon Khaya Moyo (Secretary for Information and Publicity) among others.

 

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Tanzania appoint former Nigeria winger Amuneke as head coach
August 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Andrew Jackson Oryada*

Emmanuel Amuneke represented Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup

Emmanuel Amuneke represented Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup

Tanzania have appointed former Nigeria winger Emmanuel Amuneke as the new head coach of the national team.

Amuneke, who was most recently coach of Sudan Premier League side Al Khartoum SC, has signed a two-year contract.

“I am happy to start this new job and work hard so that we can achieve a lot together,” Amuneke told local media.

His first competitive game in charge of the senior Taifa Stars will be their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uganda in September.

Amuneke, 47, replaces local coach Salum Mayanga who had been in charge of Tanzania since last year.

Wallace Karia, president of the Tanzania Football Federation (TFF) told the BBC that Amuneke will also oversee the other Tanzania teams, including the U-17 and U-20 groups.

“We shall have coaches for the other teams, but Amuneke will be the head starting with the 2019 African U-17 qualifiers which kick-off in Dar es Salaam this weekend.

“We are happy to have Amuneke who has played at the top and has a lot of experience as a coach. We have picked our very own from Africa,” added Karia.

Amuneke was the assistant coach when Nigeria won the Fifa U-17 World Cup trophy for a record fourth time in the United Arab Emirates in 2013.

Two years later Amuneke led Nigeria to a fifth U-17 World Cup title in Chileand, revered as a proven youth manager, he was swiftly promoted to coach the U-20 side the Flying Eagles.

As a player, he was a key part of the Super Eagles team, scoring both goals at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia where Nigeria beat Zambia 2-1 to secure their second African title.

He also played at the 1994 World Cup – scoring memorable goals against Bulgaria and Italy.

He scored the winner again as Nigeria stunned Argentina 3-2 in the 1996 Olympic football final in Atlanta to become the first African football nation to win Olympic gold.

His clubs included Egyptian side Zamalek, and he played at European football heavyweights FC Barcelona and Portugal’s Sporting Club.

 *BBC
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Trump to host Kenyan president at White House
August 7, 2018 | 0 Comments

 

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes US President Donald Trump's hand before a performance by the La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra in the ancient Greek theatre as part of the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. PHOTO: TWITTER

President Uhuru Kenyatta shakes US President Donald Trump’s hand before a performance by the La Scala Philharmonic Orchestra in the ancient Greek theatre as part of the G7 Summit in Taormina, Sicily, Italy, May 26, 2017. PHOTO: TWITTER

President Trump is scheduled to host Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta later this month to discuss trade and security, the White House announced Monday.

Kenyatta will visit the White House on Aug. 27, marking his first trip to Washington, D.C., since Trump took office.

“The meeting between the two leaders will reaffirm the longstanding relationship between the United States and Kenya as a cornerstone of peace and stability in Africa and the broader Indo-Pacific region,” the White House said in a statement.

 Trump inflamed tensions with African countries earlier this year when he reportedly asked during a closed-door meeting with lawmakers why so many immigrants were coming to the United States from “shithole countries” including some African nations, Haiti and El Salvador.

The White House did not directly deny he made the comments. Trump later tweeted that he used “tough” language in the meeting.

The remarks sparked outrage from Democrats and some Republicans, who condemned the language as racist.

Prior to running for president, Trump incited blowback and accusations of racist rhetoric when he falsely claimed that former President Obama was born in Kenya.

Obama, who was born in Hawaii and never lived in Kenya, visited the African nation last month, where he urged its leaders to celebrate the nation’s diversity.

Obama, who was in the country for the opening of an educational center run by his half-sister, praised Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga for improving rifts between ethnic groups and encouraged them to see diversity as a “strength.”

*Culled from The Hill

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Raila ally denies link with Zimbambwe chaos
August 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Silas Jakakimba

Silas Jakakimba

Former Opposition leader’s political aide Silas Jakakimba has rebuffed the claims that he was behind poll violence that rocked Zimbambwe on August 1 that claimed six lives.

On Sunday, police in Harare appealed to Zimbambwe citizens to report any information about whereabouts of Jakakimba should he be seen in the country. He is alleged to have conspired with the country’s opposition leader Nelson, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, to instigate chaos ahead of release of elections polls results.

Supporters of Chamisa took to the streets protesting against sham elections. The irate youths tried to gain an entrance to where the Zimbambwe Electoral Commission was counting votes in a bid to paralyze the exercise but were dispersed by police. The rowdy youths then proceeded to Harare Central Business District where they halted activities in the busy town and destroyed property of unknown value. It took the intervention of the military to restore peace.

“Members of the public with information of his whereabouts should contact CID Law and order on telephone number 0242251505 or National Complaints Desk on telephone number 0242703631 or any nearest police station,” read statement by Charity Charamba, police chief spokesperson.

Silas pictured here with MDC's Nelson Chamisa says he left Zimbabwe before the eruption of violence

Silas pictured here with MDC’s Nelson Chamisa says he left Zimbabwe before the eruption of violence

In rejoinder to the reports of his arrest, Jakakimba denied being a strategist of MDC alliance and its presidential candidate. He said he left Zimbambwe on Tuesday for Nairobi before chaos erupted.

“When I left Harare, things were normal, folks warm and welcoming, streets busy and skies clear-blue,” said Jakakimba.

ZANU-PF candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa was declared a winner in July 30, 2018 presidential elections, results the opposition protested citing massive irregularities.

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