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Electric motorbikes now available in Kenya
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on Tuesday launched a pilot electric motorcycles project in Kenya.

The project aiming to reduce air pollution, improve national energy security and create green jobs was launched at Karura Forest in Kenya’s capital.

The pilot will help policymakers develop the right policy framework to see a sustainable shift to low emissions electric mobility in Kenya.

During the launch, UNEP’s Head of Sustainable Mobility, Rob de Jong, reiterated that they had partnered with Kenya Power, Kisumu County, Friends of Karura, and Power Hive to ensure the project is successful.

On her part, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Joyce Msuya said Kenya is importing more motorcycles than cars, doubling its fleet every 7-8 years, noting they are generally inefficient and poorly maintained polluting motorcycles.

“Kenya’s electricity is very green, in 2019 more than 80% was generated by hydro, solar, geothermal, and wind. Shifting to electric bikes in Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and elsewhere will reduce costs, air pollution and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, as well as create jobs,” said Joyce Msuya.

The project kicked off with 49 e-books and is expected to expand in the future. The motorcycles were donated by TAILG, a Chinese company that signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with UN Environment to support the latter’s electric mobility work.

Compared to others, e-bikes have a low operating cost, lack a clutch, and have a speed limit of 45km/h.

According to the UN organization, motorbikes’ demand is rising, with stakeholders expecting approximately half a billion motorcycles.

It also added that motorcycles are the largest source of self-employment for urban youth, saying shifting towards electric mobility instead of fuel-based mobility will help the youth maximize their daily earnings.

There were 1.5 million registered motorcycles in Kenya in 2018, and by 2030 the number is expected to hit over 5 million.

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Kenya’s anti-pornography Bill facing opposition from atheists
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Harrison Mumia - President, Atheists In Kenya.Photo credit Facebook
Harrison Mumia – President, Atheists In Kenya.Photo credit Facebook

The Atheists in Kenya Society have vehemently opposed the proposed Bill calling to criminalize adult content in the country.

The group’s chair Harrison Mumia said the Bill being pushed by lawmaker Aden Duale is driven by religious bias.

Mumia argued that the move would only result in a boom for the pirated content industry.

He maintained that the proposed ban would not solve the problem and instead asked the government to focus on educating the youth on issues about sex.

“It will probably increase the sale of pirated porn. Instead of banning porn sites, we propose the introduction of mandatory sex education as part of our education curriculum,” he noted.

The Computer Misuse and Cyber Crimes (Amendment) Act, 2020 illegalizes downloading, distributing, transmitting, disseminating, and circulating pornographic content banned.

The Bill also proposes the introduction of harsh penalties for any violations.

Any person found in possession of pornographic materials on their phones or computer system or publishes the same on the internet will be liable to a ksh20 million fine or a jail term not less than 20 years.

The Bill is set for publication and introduction in the National Assembly for consideration this week.

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ETHIOPIA HABTEMARIAM ELEVATED TO CHAIRMAN & CEO OF MOTOWN RECORDS
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

ICONIC LABEL MOVES INTO 2021 WITH RENEWED CREATIVE INDEPENDENCE  WITHIN UNIVERSAL MUSIC GROUP.

Ethiopia Habtemariam
Ethiopia Habtemariam

Santa Monica, CA – March 1, 2021 — Universal Music Group (UMG), the world’s leading music-based entertainment company, announced today that Ethiopia Habtemariam, who has served as President of Motown since 2014, has been elevated to Chairman and CEO of the label, reporting directly to UMG Chairman and CEO Sir Lucian Grainge. In connection with Habtemariam’s promotion, Motown will have greater creative and commercial independence to advance its groundbreaking mission of artistic, social and entrepreneurial empowerment — giving voice to the sound of youth culture for more than six decades.  

Since joining Motown, Habtemariam oversaw the label’s relocation to Los Angeles from New York in 2014 and its subsequent resurgence. Under her leadership, Motown continues its traditions of artist development and forging dynamic partnerships with creative and entrepreneurial entities including Atlanta-based Quality Control Music (QC). The QC partnership has resulted in global superstars including City Girls, Migos, Lil Baby and Lil Yachty, with QC growing to become one of today’s leading music and entertainment companies. In 2020 Lil Baby’s My Turn was the highest selling album of the year with his single, “The Bigger Picture,” earning two Grammy nominations for Best Rap Song and Best Rap Performance.

In making this announcement, Sir Lucian Grainge said, “Motown is such an important voice and, just as when it was founded by Berry Gordy, its impact continues to be felt around the world. Motown’s resurgence and powerful partnerships under Ethiopia’s leadership has advanced the label’s legacy as home to some of today’s biggest hitmakers and most meaningful voices in music.” 

Habtemariam said, “It’s an incredible honor to represent and define what Motown is today. I’ve always understood the power of music and the responsibility I have, not only to continue to be an advocate for artists and creators, but to forge new paths for entrepreneurs and to lift up our next generation of executives around the world. I’d like to thank Lucian for his constant support and guidance over the years; my Motown team for all they have done and continue to do; the Capitol team for their help in building Motown over these past six years; Clarence Avant who has always taught me about the power of responsibility; and to Mr. Berry Gordy, for his faith in me to carry on his legacy.”  

In 2014, Sir Lucian appointed Habtemariam as President of Motown Records and Executive Vice President of Capitol Music Group. Charged with furthering Motown’s unique stance as a cultural leader and bringing a twenty-first century definition to that pursuit of Black excellence, Habtemariam has revitalized the storied label that is home to partners and hitmakers including Blacksmith Records (Ted When, Vince Staples), QC (Bankroll Freddie, City Girls, Duke Deuce, Layton Greene, Lil Baby, Lil Yachty and Migos) and Since the 80s (Asiahn, Njomza), along with artists Erykah Badu, Kem and Tiana Major9, among many others. Tiana Major9, who joined Motown’s roster in the beginning of 2019, is currently nominated for a Grammy (Best R&B Song) for “Collide” with EARTHGANG, which was featured on the critically acclaimed QUEEN & SLIM soundtrack.

Prior to joining Motown, Habtemariam was President of Urban Music & Co-Head of Creative at Universal Music Publishing Group, where she developed the careers of some of the most significant songwriters/producers in music today.

Founded in 1959 by Mr. Berry Gordy, Motown Records created a worldwide platform, crafting relationships and a path for creative Black entrepreneurship. For more than sixty years, Motown Records has been the ideal for Black entrepreneurs around the world – a beacon of transformative, inter-generational success led by forward-thinking leaders and executives who introduced the world to artists including Another Bad Creation, Ashanti, Boyz II Men, Brian McKnight, DeBarge, India Arie, Queen Latifah, Michael Jackson, Michael McDonald, Marvin Gaye, Rick James, The Commodores, The Jackson Five, The Supremes, The Temptations and Zhané.

About Universal Music Group
Universal Music Group (UMG) is the world leader in music-based entertainment, with a broad array of businesses engaged in recorded music, music publishing, merchandising and audiovisual content in more than 60 countries. Featuring the most comprehensive catalog of recordings and songs across every musical genre, UMG identifies and develops artists and produces and distributes the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful music in the world. Committed to artistry, innovation and entrepreneurship, UMG fosters the development of services, platforms and business models in order to broaden artistic and commercial opportunities for our artists and create new experiences for fans. Universal Music Group is a Vivendi company.

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S. Sudan: Worrisome Trend as more dead bodies test positive for COVID-19
March 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Members of Chinese medical experts share experience with frontline health care workers at the South Sudan's main COVID-19 testing center, the Public Health Laboratory in Juba, South Sudan, on Aug. 21, 2020. Photo (Xinhua/Gale Julius)
Members of Chinese medical experts share experience with frontline health care workers at the South Sudan’s main COVID-19 testing center, the Public Health Laboratory in Juba, South Sudan, on Aug. 21, 2020. Photo (Xinhua/Gale Julius)

Juba – The trend is very worrisome as more dead bodies test positive for Covid 19 pandemic and the number of cases continue to surge in East African’s youngest nation.

South Sudan, gained her independence from Sudan in July 2011 and still has a fragile health system and centers to contain the spread of COVID 19 pandemic. It is only Juba’s capital that have some machines for testing the virus.

The Ministry of Health said nine (9) dead bodies tested positive for coronavirus last week after a posthumous examination was carried out at the military mortuary in Juba’s capital.

The Public Health Emergency Operations Center said the public health laboratory is confirming more coronavirus death posthumously, blamed to negligence by the public to take their loved one for Covid 19 test while feeling unwell.

Dr. Angelo Goup stated that they are taking swabs and checking every horrible suspicious death.

“We did tests at the mortuary and 9 tested positive posthumously.” It’s important for everyone to know if anyone is sick in your family. Take them to the hospital, don’t stay with a sick person at home,” said Dr. Goup, during the weekly Covid – 19 press briefing on Sunday.

As of Monday, South Sudan had reported 134 new confirmed cases of the virus, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 8,144.

The number of fatalities due to the virus remains at 95 as one new death registered on Monday. So far, 4,217 Cases have recovered.

The Ministry of Health said it has conducted 111,214 tests since the virus was first confirmed in April, last year in South Sudan.

The country’s health ministry cautioned the public to take the pandemic seriously and follow the necessary precautions, adhering to social distancing, wear facemask and other anti-coronavirus measures as the number of cases continues to surge globally.

The Health Center, however appealed to the public to take those feeling unwell to the hospital to ascertain their Covid19 status but activists said the hospitals [doing testing for the virus] are being privatized by government with high charges, in which a vulnerable people cannot afford.

The activists called on the government to carry-out Covid 19 testing free of charge so that everyone can know her/his COVID 19 status and that can help in containing the spread of the virus in the restive country, blighted by six years of conflict.

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Kenya plans to contain pornography
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

It will be illegal for anyone to possess or publish pornography in any computer system or data storage device in Kenya should the proposed stringent laws to curb porn in the country sail through.

The Computer Misuse and Cybercrimes (Amendment) Act, 2020, introduced by lawmaker Aden Duale seeks to criminalize the sharing of pornographic content on mobile phones and the internet.  

The Bill also calls for the prohibition of sharing and publication of such materials.

Mr. Duale further wants the government to block access to porn websites to people within the East Africa nation.

“A person shall not knowingly download pornography, distribute, transmit, disseminate, circulate, deliver, exhibit, lend for gain, exchange, barter, sell or offer for sale, let on hire or offer to let on hire, offer in any way, or make available in any way from a telecommunications apparatus,” the Bill reads in part. 

The proposed law further calls for the introduction of harsh penalties for any violations.

Any person found in possession of pornographic materials on their phones or computer system or publishes the same on the internet will be liable to a ksh20 million fine or a jail term not less than 20 years.

The Bill is set for publication and introduction in the National Assembly for consideration this week.

It is projected to be a big blow to artistes, video music producers, advertisers, and individual computer users.

It is also believed the anticipated laws will tackle harassment by persons flooding others’ phones with pornographic material and tame explosive teen pregnancy, which the majority have attributed to access to pornography websites.

If approved, Kenya will join countries such as North Korea, Australia, China, Cuba, Turkey, Pakistan, Oman, Eritrea, the United Kingdom, and UAE, which censor such contents.

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Kenya:Morans set to kick off early preparation ahead of FIBA AfroBasket Championships
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Buoyed by an exemplary performance at the just concluded FIBA AfroBasket qualifiers held in Yaounde, Cameroon, Kenya’s men basket team are scheduled to start early training.

Kenya Basketball Federation chair Paul Otula revealed the local-based players would report to the training camp in a fortnight to prepare for FIBA AfroBasket Championships.

The showpiece is slated for August 24-September 4 in Kigali, Rwanda.

Assistant coach Sadat Gay will manage the players in the camp until the head coach until May when the head coach Liz Mills will return from Holiday in Australia.

“She will leave behind the programme to be followed by other coaches, organise zoom meetings and advice accordingly. With technology, nothing is impossible. We will be trying out every player and will only pick the best in each and every position,” said Paul Otula.

Otula also noted plans to extend training camp and organize friendly matches to ensure the players are adequately prepared for the tournament.

The chairman said the team’s management would have to choose wisely good players from a pool of 30, both playing in the local and foreign leagues.

He further challenged the players who did not make it to the squad during qualifiers to pull up their shocks to increase their chances of selection into the final squad.

Kenya qualified for the FIBA AfroBasket Championships for the first time in 28 years after stunning the African giant Angola.

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Mental assessment for Kenyan woman who beheaded son
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya court on Monday ordered a mental test for a 23-year-old woman who beheaded his son who refused to suckle.

The accused appeared before Principal Magistrate Mary Ochieng but was directed to undergo the test pending plea taking within the next seven days.

Night Akoth Otieno is accused of beheading her one-year-old Briton Ochieng on Saturday night of February 27, in Ndhiwa, southwestern Kenya.

Reports indicated the suspect used a machete to sliced his son’s head after he refused to breastfeed several times, leaving the head and the body lying separately in a pool of blood.

She was arrested on the fateful night after the residents alerted the local authorities.

Upon the interrogation, the local authorities said the woman confessed to having beheaded her toddler after refusing to breastfeed.

“We do not know the main reason why the woman killed her son. However, she is saying she killed him because she tried several times to breastfeed the baby, but he declined,” revealed the local authorities.

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Kenyan MP’s son dies of Covid-19
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

 late Kinyanjui Ngunjiri was aged 32.Photo courtesy
late Kinyanjui Ngunjiri was aged 32.Photo courtesy

Kenyan legislator Onesmus Kimani Ngunjiri’s son, has succumbed to the novel virus.

Arthur Kinyanjui Ngunjuri died, 32, at a Mombasa hospital, according to the family source.

“It is hard to accept that you are gone. Rest in peace my last born Son Arthur Kinyanjui Kimani,” the MP posted on social media.

The deceased has been on a life support machine since December 2020, the family revealed.

Until his death, Arthur Kinyanjui was an entrepreneur with a construction company based at the Coastal region.

Before venturing into business, he was a Safari rally enthusiast who often took part in competitions in and outside the country.

Kenyan leaders led by Deputy President William Ruto have sent their condolences messages to the family and friends of MP Ngujiri.

“Arthur Kinyanjui Ngunjiri, a brilliant, promising and hardworking young man, who thrived in business and farming. We pray to God that the Ngunjiri family, friends and the people of Bahati Constituency find strength and comfort during this difficult time. Rest In peace,” said Ruto.

As of Sunday, February 28, Kenya had reported more than 105,000 Covid-19 cases from cumulative tests of 1 298,838.  More than 1,000 people have also died, and above 86,000 have recovered.

The first consignment of the Covid-19 vaccine is expected to arrive in Kenya on Tuesday, March 2, 2021.

 Kenya will receive 1.02 million doses of Oxford/Astrazeneca vaccine on Tuesday, and priority will be given to healthcare workers countrywide.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said the vaccine would arrive in the country through Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (Covax) facility.

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Kenya:Jambojet, KTB sign a deal to promote local tourism
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The Jambojet, a Kenyan low-cost airline, and the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) have struck a pact to enhance tourism growth in the country.

The deal is part of Jambojet’s recovery strategy, where it is looking to diversify its revenue generation through advertising placements.

“Last year we launched the ‘Now Travel Ready’ campaign to encourage domestic tourism as part of COVID-19 recovery. This partnership with KTB will further drive this conversation in a bid to revive the sector,” said Captain Michael Kwinga, Head of Operations, Jambojet.

The Kenya Airways’ subsidiary offers various advertising options, including the Jambojet website, boarding passes, tray tables, in-flight announcements, in-flight sampling, e-newsletter, headrest covers, and itinerary flight branding.

Also in the deal is the branding of one of Jambojet’s De Havilland Dash 8-400 aircraft for one year.

KTB, through its CEO Dr. Betty Radier commended the airline for being in the forefront to ensure the growth of tourism by allowing accessibility to tourism destinations in the country.

According to Dr. Radier, the partnership is one of the ventures the board has explored to grow the tourism sector.

Between 2015-2018 Kenya’s domestic tourists’ bed-night occupancy accounted for more than 50 % of the total bed occupancy.

The launching of new travel routes is another means employed by the Jambojet to improve the economy via tourism.

In October 2020, the carrier commenced direct flights from Mombasa to Kisumu and Eldoret to enable business people and holidaymakers to travel between the three destinations with ease.

Domestic and regional travel will dominate the tourism industry in 2021 compared to international tourism, as per the Oxford Economics and global Travel report (2020-2021).

This is due to international travel restrictions imposed by governments because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Cameroon: The Fisherman’s Diary Acquired by Netflix
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Despite missing out on the final nomination for the Oscars, the Fisherman’s Diary is once more making news across the country and the world after it was acquired by Netflix.

This latest achievement for the Cameroonian movie had been teased for some time now by its frontline star Kang Quintus, who had intimated something big, will be dropping on March 1.

“After making it to the Oscars list, The Fisherman’s Diary has now become the 1st Cameroonian Film to be acquired by Netflix. This is big news for the Cameroon Film Industry and a proud moment for all Cameroonians… Many more Cameroon Films to follow,” Kang Quintus wrote.

It has been an unforgettable year for the movie after picking up various awards last year and taking the Cameroonian movie scene by storm. Last year the Fisherman’s Diary was one of the major success stories for the Cameroonian movie industry picking up awards in the country and beyond. At the Golden Movie Awards in Ghana and the African Movie Academy Awards (AMAA) in Nigeria, the Film snapped up 10 awards, adding to awards in Instanbul, Cameroon, and a host of other countries.

And in 2021 the movie picked up from where it left off and was selected for the 93rd Oscars. Unfortunately, the film did not make the final cut.

 “The Fisherman’s Diary a big thank you to the following artists for all the Amazing Soundtracks in the movie: Ewube, Salatiel, Mr Leo, Awu, Vernyuy Tina, Fhish, Lesline, Belvia and Achuo. Details on when the film will be available on the Netflix platform will be announced soon,” Kang Quintus added.

Speaking about the development, the Executive Producer of the Film, Kang Quintus, excitedly explains, “We are happy to have made history with this film. For us, aside from being a good reward for hard work, this deal grants the opportunity for our content to reach a global audience. Hopefully, this would be the first amongst many, not just for me and the team, but for other Cameroonian filmmakers,” Kang Quintus said in a press release.

In the same press release FilmOne Entertainment Managing Director Moses Baptope said: “The Fisherman’s Diary is our first deal with a Cameroonian filmmaker. We are excited because it aligns with our visions to go beyond Nigeria, becoming a Pan-African brand that projects the best African content to the world. Netflix affords us access to a global audience, and judging by the film’s impact, and its numerous awards, we have little doubt that it will be well received the world over.”

The Cameroon film industry is gradually bringing itself to the forefront of the African movie industry. With constant film releases, and awards won, both nationally and internationally, the Cameroonian public should rest assured that they are very close to taking over in due time, and the Fisherman’s Diary is setting the pace.

An insight into The Fisherman’s Diary

The movie directed by Enah Johnscott and produced by Kang Quintus is a storey of a 12-year-old Ekah (Faith Fidel) who got inspired by Malala Yousalzai, the youngest noble prize winner.

She is determined to go to school in a village of fishermen where it is considered taboo. He drives to break this adage gets her embroiled with her father Solomon (Kang Quintus) experience with girl child education, critiqsite reported.

The film features other actors such as Ramsey Nouah, Onyama Laura, Neba Godwill, Mayohchu, Daphne Njie and Faith Fidel.

About Netflix

Netflix, Inc. is an American over-the-top content platform and production company headquartered in Los Gatos, California. The company’s primary business is a subscription-based streaming service offering online streaming from a library of films and television series, including those produced in-house. In January 2021, Netflix reached 203.7 million subscribers, including 73 million in the United States.

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2021 Mount Cameroon Race:North West Athletes Dominate Yet Again
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

Ali Mohammadou from Bui emerges victorious in the male category while Kitan Mildred wins in the female category

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Ali Mohammadou wins in the senior male category
Ali Mohammadou wins in the senior male category

Athletes from the North West Region have continued their dominance of the Mount Cameroon Race of Hope. In the 26th edition organized in Buea on February 27, the winners in the senior male, senior female, junior male and female and the veteran women all came from the North West.

The ambience that the race usually witnesses before is slowly coming back with hundreds of fans coming out to watch and cheer the athletes as they ascended and descended the “chariot of the gods”.

Ali Mohammadou from the Bui Division of the North West Region finished the race first in a time of 4hrs 32mins and 24secs. In 2019, Ali Mohammadou finished in the second position while in 2020 was not amongst the top three.

Defending male champion Godlove Gabsibuin, the most successful male athlete with five titles could only finish in the second position. He did the race in 4hrs 45mins 03secs.

The third position was occupied by Fai Elvis Ndzedzeni who did the race in 4hrs 45mins 54secs.

Ali Mohammadou who wins for the first time could not hide his joy while appreciating the efforts of all those who supported him in his goal to become a champion this year.

“I started my career in 2012 hoping to become a champion one day. When you discover your talent do it even if your father and mother do not like it. When you see someone go up and come back down from the summit respect that person. This is because it is not easy to run 42km and back,” Ali Mohammadou said.

The champion Ali Mohamadou has called for an end to the present crisis that has claimed the lives of many as to him what will solve the problem is not by fighting.

“For my athletic career, I cry because of the Kumba massacre, the Ngarbuh massacre, the mbororos massacre which means it is very painful. I train in where the violence is very high and I know the pains of this crisis,” He added.

It was a closely fought battle in the women’s category from the time the ladies touched hut 2 and back. Going up it was Cheserek Agnes from Kenya who led the race past Hut Two and reached the summit of the first position. She was closely followed by Kitan Mildred as they descended while defending champion Tatah Carine was in third.

Like last year where the Kenyans dominated the ascending, their grip of the descending of Mount Fako is still proving difficult. In the descending, Kitan Mildred was able to pass Cheserek Agness and reached Bongo Square on the first position. Defending Champion Tatah Carine who ran this year under the South West Region equally passed the Kenyan and it was a two-horse race to the finish line.

Kitan Mildred slowly jugs to the finish line and was almost caught by Tatah Carine. It was, however, the year for Kitan Mildred Ntumeku who won the race, and in doing so winning for the first time. She did the race in 5hrs 21mins 45secs.

Tatah Carine came second in 5hrs 22mins 00sec. Jepkosegei Cheserek Agness who had led the race could only finish third in 5hrs 33mins 50secs.

“I want to promise my fans that they should not be discouraged that I came second. I am going back and will come up strong again,” Tatah Carine, three-time winner of the race said.

“To the young girl, it is not good for them to just stay at home idle. It is good for them to do things and discover their talents and work towards that talent to achieve their goals.”

Kitan Mildred
Kitan Mildred

Winners of the veteran women category

There was a new champion this year in the veteran women category. Nkambi Martina Ngenjang, 53-year-old from the North West Region came in the first position. She was second in the 2020 edition of the race.

Meantime, last year’s champion Nogah Brigitte, 51-year-old from the South West Region finished in the third position, while 57-year-old Mengwi Justina from the Littoral region came in third.

Junior Male winners

Mamoudou Dahiro came first

Gabsibuin Prophet Kanjoring in second and,

Wanma Walters Mbuh in third

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Cameroon: Nkafu Policy Institute Holds Webinar on Possibilities and Potentials for Peace
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Panelists at the Nkafu Policy Institute's webinar on restoring peace in Cameroon
Panelists at the Nkafu Policy Institute’s webinar on restoring peace in Cameroon

In their quest to bring solutions to the ongoing crisis in the North West and South West Regions, The Nkafu Policy Institute a think-tank at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation has organized a public dialogue with discussions centred on restoring peace in the country.

The Webinar was organized under the theme: “Searching for a Negotiated Settlement to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon: Possibilities and Potential.”

The event aimed at engaging the Cameroonian public in frank dialogue on the possibilities and challenges of getting to a negotiated settlement between the main conflict parties (government and separatists) while examining the opportunities, possibilities and potential challenges.

Speaking during the webinar, Guy Tam Bikoi said what we have in Cameroon is a governance crisis and a cultural crisis as the crisis started on legitimate causes that the Anglophone had and measures were taken by the government.

“The reason why we are in the fifth year is that neither party is willing to make the necessary sacrifices to get to that settlement. The principle of a settlement is not to have everything you requested for; but to sacrifice a little bit so the other party can get in. now we have what is called an asymmetric war and that is why we are here,” Guy Tam Bikoi stated.

He went further to indicate that there have been some positives steps taken by the government to solve the crisis and highlighted the creation of the Regional Councils. To him, “if there is real regionalism, there is an opportunity there.” “There is a standstill at the moment as there is no dialogue going on between the warring parties. The issue is to try to find a platform where the government will sit and talk with the other parties.” 

These various public dialogues are in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute which centres on carrying out independent research to provide in-depth and insightful evidence-based recommendations that advance the development of Cameroon and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

Ndifor Roland pointing out the causes of the crisis indicated that these issues were stated before but fell on deaf ears. “The six issues centred on hyper centralized state, failure of decision-makers to equitable involve different cultures and traditions, failure to keep promises made during the referendum, change of name from the United Republic to La Republic de Cameroun, the non-respect of the two official languages as being equal status,” Mr Ndifor Roland said.

Participants noted that the government needs to do more in bringing end to the crisis with the help of the international community
Participants noted that the government needs to do more in bringing end to the crisis with the help of the international community

“Those are the causes of the Anglophone crisis and whatever comes after that are just the effects. This has to be addressed through the force of argument and not the argument of force.” 

According to a release by the Nkafu Policy Institute, various attempts by the Cameroon government have proven largely inadequate in resolving the crisis sustainably. The government of Cameroon opted for a military strategy from the very beginning of the peaceful protest that quickly metamorphosed into an armed conflict. The thematic areas centred on strategies, opportunities and potentials of a negotiated settlement. Participants noticed that despite government efforts through the organization of the Major National Dialogue, the conflict has rather escalated, thereby highlighting the pitfalls of the said dialogue.

Responding to a question from the moderator Mr Ndifor Roland wondered who is bringing the negotiated settlement. He went on to Identify the various stakeholders to bring a negotiated settlement as the general public; CSOs, the entire Francophone community, the international community, media and communication professionals and lastly the government of Cameroon.

Bertille Onana, Moderator
Bertille Onana, Moderator

“The government of Cameroon is last because they have the power to end the ongoing crisis. The government organized the Major National Dialogue but who were those that were there for it. There is a necessity to identify the stakeholders who are looking for the solution,” Mr Roland Ndifor added.

“When we identify them each of them has a role to play and above all communication is important. You cannot solve a problem that does not exist and up till now, the problem does not seem to exist. When we create the reality that the problem exists then we will know what to do.”

The Anglophone crisis that is in its fifth year has claimed around 3,000 lives, displaced half a million people within Cameroon, compelled another 40,000 to flee to Nigeria, deprived 700,000 children of schooling in their home areas and left one in three people in the Anglophone regions in need of humanitarian aid, according to the International Crisis Group.

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New Director General of WTO: Mission is Possible for Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
March 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Sayed Attia*

Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first of African descent to be appointed to oversee the rules of the world trading system
Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is the first of African descent to be appointed to oversee the rules of the world trading system

Today, March 1, 2021, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala , a former Nigerian minister of finance and a World Bank veteran will take office  as the new director of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Dr.Ngozi is the first of African descent to be appointed to oversee the rules of the world trading system.

Fortunately the key world trade players, China, USA and EU expressed their support for Dr.Ngozi, the issue that sends a positive signal that there some sort of agreement between these parties. According to Reuters, the U.S delegate at WTO, Washington is committed to working closely with Dr.Ngozi and be a “constructive partner”. Furthermore, China’s delegation pledged “full support” to her and the EU trade commissioner said he looked for forward working closely with her. However, Deputy Director-General Alan Wolff heralded the arrival of a new era of WTO leadership but cautioned that “member enthusiasm, optimism and hope need to be translated into concrete action.”, according to Inside, US trade.

Amongst the diversified fields of expertise of Dr. Ngozi is her chairmanship of GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance which is a public–private global health partnership with the goal of increasing access to immunization in poor countries. This background will imperatively constitute a major factor in the policy of the WTO amid the current challenge of Covid-19 pandemic. According to African Business Magazine, Dr. Ngozi assured to be the only candidate working at the intersection of trade and public health, which she says will enable the trade system to better deliver Vaccines and medical supplies during the Covid-19 pandemic. The facilitation of movement of Vaccine from the manufacturing countries to the needy countries is the top priority at the moment. All WTO member states should collaborate and cooperate in securing the easy movement of Vaccine across the world. 

The priorities of the WTO at this critical moment are numerous but they are not insurmountable. These priorities include completion of fisheries subsidies negations, starting negotiations on E-commerce to sustain the growth of the digital economy, and facilitate safe, secure and efficient cross-border e-payments and data flows, dispute settlement reform, and health measures at the time of diseases, such Covid-19 pandemic. As an example of the measures that be discussed in the health measures is to waive some intellectual property rights on COVID-19 medicines and vaccines to speed up their rollout to poor countries which do not have the affordability and access to medical products. Furthermore, there is a dire need to relax intellectual property (IP) rules in a manner that allow immediate scale-up of vaccine production and provision of medical products.

Global trade collapsed last year as border closures and supply disruptions interrupted the international provision of goods, therefore, the recovery requires improving business environment and multilateral cooperation to support the world’s economic recovery from COVID-19. At this critical moment, the international trade is in a dire need for more liberalization in this time more than any time before. The outbreak of COVID-19 had negative consequences on the global economy, therefore, recovering the dynamism of international trade is the sole guarantor for mitigating these consequences.

Sayed Attia is an International Trade Expert based in Cairo, Egypt.
Sayed Attia is an International Trade Expert based in Cairo, Egypt.

While the stage is being setting for a new era for the WTO and accordingly to the multilateral trading system, the situation now is better than a year before, thanks to the efforts made to manufacture of the Vaccine for Covid-19 pandemic and making it available , although on a limited scale. The global economy and trade will recover once matters back to normal. This recovery, however, is conditioned to what extent the WTO perform its full responsibility in securing ease movement of trade between member states. The WTO members to benefit from the vast experience of Dr.Ngozi in Gavi, on one hand and the commitments of large producers of Covid-19 Vaccine , such as China,  to accelerate overcoming the negative consequences of such a pandemic, on the other hand.

At the end, a strong WTO is vital for the world to recover fully and rapidly from the devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.  WTO faces a great many challenges, therefore working collectively will make the WTO stronger, more agile and better adapted to the realities of today. The mission of Dr.Ngozi as a new Director General of WTO is difficult but is not impossible as long as there a sincere will of all members to take the organization ahead. 

*Sayed Attia is an International Trade Expert based in Cairo, Egypt. This article reflects the writer’s own point of view. He has a progressive work experience as international trade practitioner of 24 years. He has a wide experience in trade remedies and trade policy formulation.  He has trade negotiations experience at regional, continental and international levels with a deep conviction of the importance of trade as an engine for inclusive and sustainable development.  Having a firm belief that deep industrialization, efficient internal infrastructure and simple, clear, trade facilitation, E-commerce and digitalization are key pillars for trade promotion. MA; MBA, and international trade PhD candidate with a large number of publications in trade, development and industrialization.

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Zimbabwe’s human rights lawyers urge govt to promote human rights and democracy
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has on World NGO Day called upon all members of the public to celebrate the contributions of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) towards the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and inclusive development across the globe.

World NGO Day is commemorated every year on the 27th of February, and
it aims to pay tribute to the NGOs, HRDs and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which perform the vital, but often unnoticed, work of defending human rights, promoting democracy and providing social assistance to the most vulnerable members of society.

The day is also an opportunity for states to reflect on the steps that they should take in order to create an enabling and welcoming environment for NGOs. The people who work in NGOs and CSOs are often exposed to great personal risk because of the systematic harassment they experience at the hands of authorities all around the world.

World NGO Day therefore seeks to celebrate the bravery of these people
and call for an end to their persecution everywhere.

NGOs and CSOs enjoy special recognition from international bodies such
as the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU). NGOs can obtain
consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
and this status will grant NGOs access to ECOSOC, its many subsidiary
bodies, the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations and
special events organized by the President of the General Assembly. The
AU has a Civil Society Division that has a mandate of ensuring that
the contributions of civil society permeate all aspects of AU
principles, policies and programmes.

NGOs that have consultative status with ECOSOC can be accredited to participate in the sessions of the Human Rights Council (HRC) as
observers. This observer status grants NGOs access to the HRC
secretariat, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR).

Observer status also allows NGOs to attend and observe proceedings of
the HRC, submit written statements, make oral submissions and
participate in debates and panel meetings. The African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights also grants observer status to NGOs. The
Commission relies on NGOs to draw attention to violations of its
Charter by state parties, bring communications on behalf of
individuals and increase awareness about the Commission’s activities.

NGOs protect and promote democracy, provide humanitarian assistance,
provide social services, raise awareness about important societal
issues and provide technical expertise that promotes sustainable
development.

NGOs play an indispensable role in the promotion and survival of
democracy worldwide. They play the crucial function of fighting the
abuse of power by states. They expose the violation of human rights by
state actors and take legal action in order to obtain redress for the
victims of the human rights violations.

 It is reported that the legal action taken by NGOs also serves to fight state impunity andpressure governments to desist from the violation of human rights. ZLHR, for example, works on anti-impunity cases that are meant to hold state actors accountable for human rights violations.

 It is added that the anti-impunity cases that ZLHR works on have the dual purpose of obtaining relief for the victims of state-sanctioned violence and of influencing the authorities to desist from violent practices that lead
to expensive lawsuits. NGOs also promote democracy by spreading
knowledge about human rights and constitutional rights within
communities.

The advocacy work and litigation work by NGOs serves to ensure that
governments remain accountable to their electorates. NGOs also provide
human resources, medicines and food to victims of natural disasters
across the globe.

Apart from humanitarian assistance, they also provide resources and
special services to persons living with disabilities, the elderly,
vulnerable women and children. NGOs also provide technical expertise
that can be used by governments to develop programmes that will
promote development or address pressing societal issues.

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, NGOs have
played an instrumental role in the design and implementation of
responses to the pandemic. In addition, they have been involved in
providing direct health services to communities as well as providing
social assistance to the most vulnerable members of society.

NGOs have documented human rights violations as many states have used
the COVID-19 pandemic as a convenient excuse for cracking down on
human rights and democracy.

NGOs face threats to their existence despite the vital contributions
they make to society.

States are using laws to restrict the space of operation of NGOs.

In Zimbabwe, members of NGOs and CSOs are often victims of systematic
harassment by authorities in the form of arbitrary arrests,
intimidation, criminalization of civil society work and character
assassination. In addition, the rights to assembly and association are
being restricted by Zimbabwean authorities, which has the effect of
hampering the activities of NGOs and CSOs.

ZLHR therefore calls upon the Zimbabwean authorities to cease all
actions that serve to restrict the operational space and work of NGOs.
In addition, ZLHR condemns the systematic prosecution, harassment and
intimidation of human rights defenders (HRDs) and members of the NGO
sector by the Zimbabwean authorities.

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Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO Appointment:Nigeria currently undergoing a new wave of resurgence, limelight internationally — Amb Olumoko
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

Says:

* President Buhari should take advantage of the goodwill President Biden have to combating insurgency effectively.

* It’s sad how the political classes continue to dump political appointees on the Foreign Service.

* Let’s revert to heydays; let fewer political appointees head important but not strategic posts.

By Olayinka Ajayi

Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand
Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand

Ambassador Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand with current accreditation to Myanmar. In this interview, Amb. Olumoko decried the excessive appointment of non-career Ambassadors over trained Ambassadors. He urged the government to revert to heydays by allowing less political appointees head important but not strategic posts among other issues. Excerpts:    

What is your view on America’s new policy on LBGT and pushing to other countries like Nigeria for bilateral relations?

 It is within the prerogative of the Biden administration to articulate whatever social policies that are in tandem with the Democrats’/Liberal philosophy in the USA. However, Biden should not try to force or coral any other country that does not share the same outlook to follow the same doctrine. Biden should respect the different cultural, religious and social systems of other countries and not willy-nilly tie them to US preferences.

To try to sanction Nigeria over her policy on LGBT will be wrong-headed and Nigeria will resist it to the hilt as same sex marriage and other LGBT peculiarities are anathema to the basic grains and mores of the Nigerian society. It will be a wrong start and will definitely strain US/NIGERIA relations that otherwise promise to be resurgent and robust under a Biden administration.

On Okonjo-Iweala election as DG of WTO

Her recent confirmation is not only a pride to Nigeria and Africa but also to womanhood. Ngozi, in terms of intellect, sagacity and bravura, is an amazon of a lady who can stand her own any day and anywhere has been so amply demonstrated in the course of her high wire campaigns and the subsequent global “politicking” that only delayed her confirmation. It’s impossible to cover a shining star!

This brings up an important issue. Nigeria should always put her best foot forward. If she puts on her best candidates she’ll always excel. Just imagine if Nigeria had not wisely substituted her original candidate for this position and fielded a more formidable and better qualified Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala? Nigeria is currently undergoing a new wave of resurgence and limelight internationally because she’s fielding her “first teams” and its yielding results. A few examples will suffice: Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General(UN D/SG), Akinwunmi Adesina at the African Development Bank(AfDB), Benedict Oramah at the African Export Import Bank(Afreximbank)  Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political, Peace and Security and now Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the WTO!

As for the performance of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, there’s no doubt she’ll acquit herself creditably in her new position. She comes well prepared, intellectually and with very good experience both internationally and nationally being twice Nigeria’s Finance Minister.

Both in her campaign debates and acceptance speech, she has set the tone and clearly outlines her priorities at WTO. Given her track records, I have no doubts at all that Ngozi will do impressively well and make Nigeria exceedingly proud that come 2025 when her current term ends, she’ll be re-elected for a second term. Mark my words!

But some are of the view that Joe Biden’s administration support for Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO election could give a soft landing for reconsideration of LGBT in Nigeria?

Such perception is puerile, and it underestimates the quality of Nigeria’s foreign policy decision makers and Nigeria’s stature in the comity of nations.

Agreed, Nigeria may have its internal problems, but she cannot be taken for suckers by the US. Support for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for soft landing for reconsideration of LGBT?

As I already stated the issue of LGTB is so basic and fundamental and an anathema to the two major religions systems in Nigeria that it’s laughable that a go-ahead by the US for Ngozi is in exchange for Nigeria softening its LGBT stance!

Nigeria refusing LGBT, how do we strengthen the US, Nigeria bilateral relations stronger than the Trump administration?

LGBT should be the least of US interests in Nigeria. Even in the US what proportion of the US takes the issue as fundamental? Only a minority. So, why do we carry it over our heads as if the whole heaven is coming down? We should be careful of people with religious agenda in Nigeria.

There are more important areas for US/Nigeria relations such as security, military cooperation, cooperation in fending off Boko Haram,  kidnapping and pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, immigration, economic(investments, renewal of AGOA, cooperation in revamping  the power sector, cooperation in the areas of 21st century digital and knowledge based economy etc), strengthening the US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission.

On Insurgency

In terms of Nigeria/US cooperation in fighting insurgency, I think Nigeria should take this aspect extremely seriously because insurgency and general insecurity are posing existential danger not only to Nigerians but to Nigeria herself as a corporate entity.

Nigeria should enter into a robust, focused and transparent collaboration with the USA in securing the hardware, logistics support, maintenance and training support to confront decisively this menace. 

Under the Trump administration, Nigeria entered into an agreement to buy about 12 “Tucano” attack aircrafts from the US. President Buhari should take advantage of the goodwill President Biden seems to have, presently, for Nigeria and ensure he firmly secure this deal and get these aircrafts delivered without any further delay with a view to combating the insurgency effectively. I will also urge the Nigerian government to also explore ways of securing drones from the US, for instance, to track the Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region, which have been identified as havens for the terrorists and effectively neutralize them.

All these efforts would not only deal decisively with the Boko Haram insurgency internally, but also deal a devastating blow to key ISIS and ISWAP cells operating in the region. 

From the apparent friendly disposition of President Joe Biden towards Nigeria about four Nigerian-Americans have been proposed for important positions, including cabinet Nigeria should seize this opportunity and develop a close rapport with President Biden’s administration. This is rather different from the Trump administration that was negative towards Africa and referred to African countries as “shitholes”!

How would you describe the proposed appointments of retired Service chiefs as non career Ambassadors?

 It is extremely saddening that in Nigeria, in particular, the political classes continue to dump political appointees on the Foreign Service. These political appointees are often offered plum diplomatic postings  as Ambassadors at the expense of Career Officers, who through their entire career, have been professionally trained with a view to attaining the rank of Ambassador as the nadir of their careers.

A couple of months ago, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed initially 53 Non-Career Ambassadors to only 40 Career Ambassadors. The sadder aspect is that about a quarter of these Career Ambassadors are being sent out as Deputies to political appointees!

Now, with the subsequent appointments of the 5 ex-service chiefs as Ambassadors, the proportion of political appointees to the professionals was 58 to 40.It was even worse under OBJ’s first term, when the proportion was 80:20!

For me, whether the appointment of the five ex-service chiefs as Ambassadors was justified or not, is not the issue. I perceive it within the larger context of using the Diplomatic Service as a political dumping ground at the detriment of the Foreign Service, not only in terms of denial of opportunities for deserving Career Officers but also in terms of quality of representation. Let me be clear. Agreed, many countries have political appointees as Ambassadors, but they appoint just a handful. In fact, some countries, such as Italy do not have political appointees as Ambassadors at all!

It’s also my view that Nigeria’s key Missions like in the UK, USA, France, Russia and China should be manned by Career Ambassadors. It would be recalled that in the golden years of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, our key Missions were headed by top notch Career Ambassadors like Ambs. Olu Sanu, Olujimi Jolaoso and Ignatius Olisemeka at different times Ambassadors respectively (Washington, DC), Aminu Sanusi(Peking, China) George Dove-Edwin(London, UK), Hamzat Ahmadu(Moscow, USSR) and P.L Udoh(Paris, France).

We should revert to those heydays and let fewer political appointees head important but not strategic posts. All these key posts, especially Washington and London have consistently been headed by political appointees whose performances have often been subpar!


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RwandAir becomes the 1st African Airline to use IATA Travel Pass.
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Rwanda-Kigali—RwandAir has become the first Airline in Africa to trial AITA TRAVEL PASS SMART-PHONE APP. This enables passengers to easily and security verify their covid-19 tests and vaccinations status and compliance with all travel requirements.

This is important to Governments of the world which require proof verification to safeguard their people from covid-19 effects. It is important especially during this era with companies in a bid to do business safely and securely.

It is also easy to manage Health issues at hand to meet all the requirements without any challenge. This does not need any paper work meaning that it saves paper and demands no manual work. At the end there is issuance of a certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis. This is an advantage to customers, airline industry and partners and stake holders in business.

The 3-week trial in April is for RwandAir flights between Kigali and Nairobi, Kenya. IATA Travel Pass is a digital platform to all passengers using air-lines. It builds confidence in business conglomerations. The Health of travellers and their partners becomes easy to manage.

YVonne Manzi Makolo, Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir said the innovation comes at a time Governments of the World are in a fight to eliminate the pandemic of covid-19.

‘’IATA’s innovative solution simplifies and digitally transmits information required by countries and Governments World-Wide into Airline systems in secure and efficient manner. It will make it easy for our customers to fly’’.

Alexandre de Juniac -IATA Director and Chief Executive Officer said RwandAir is showing leadership in the airline industry. He said the airline has used IATA products for a long time which tells more confidence it has with IATA . This is history of working in partnership to fight covid-19.

‘’RwandAir is showing its Industry leadership in Africa by becoming the first airline to the continent to trial AITA Travel Pass. RwandAir has long used AITA products. This will build on history of working in partnership and takes steps in covid-19.

‘’This gives confidence to re-open their boarders knowing that arriving passengers are in full compliance with any testing or vaccination requirements ‘’. ’.

The APP has features of registry of testing centres and labs at departure and arrival location which can conduct tests in accordance with type of tests required for the journey. Customers becoming used to the innovation creates ‘’Digital App’’ which verifies pre-travel covid-19 test or vaccination that meets requirements. Vaccination certificates and share of tests makes it easy for customers to do business with participating authorities and airlines in smooth, seamless travel around the world.

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Zimbabwe’s state of the media report for 2020 unveiled by MISA-Zimbabwe
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

MISA Zimbabwe has published its annual state of the media report which takes a look at the media landscape and operating environment with regards to freedom of expression, access to information, digital rights and media freedom in 2020 in Zimbabwe.

According to the report, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), together with the Public Order and Security Act, enacted in 2002, were among some of the most repressive laws used to suppress media freedom and free speech in Zimbabwe.

 It is reported that scores and scores of journalists were arrested under AIPPA while newspapers such as The Daily News and The Tribune were closed under this law which at that time was used as the weapon of choice against dissenting voices and media workers.

 It however adds that  with the coming into being of the 2013 Constitution with its highly acclaimed Bill of Rights and explicit provisions on citizens’ right to access to information, it became increasingly clear that AIPPA was anathema to the enjoyment of the very same right it purported to protect.

The point was driven home under Section 62 of the 2013 Constitution (on access to information), that new legislation should be enacted to give effect to the enjoyment of that right, thus paving way for the repealing of AIPPA.

It is in that regard that the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in July 2020, as part of the unbundling of AIPPA, was welcomed as one of the progressive steps taken by the government of Zimbabwe towards the alignment of the country’s laws with the Constitution.

During the year under review, and as the country forged ahead with the media policy and law reform processes, another significant milestone was the licensing of the country’s first-ever privately owned’ television stations and community radio stations.

However, these otherwise positive outcomes on the media reforms front were marred by the government’s seeming determination to amend the 2013 Constitution prior to the alignment of several laws that are not in sync with the country’s supreme law enacted in 2013.

This came in the wake of the conclusion of the public hearings on the Constitution Amendment No.2 Bill. The Bill gazetted on 17 January 2020, is made up of 27 sections that propose to amend no less than 30 sections of the Constitution.

 MISA-Zimbabwe says that the proposed amendments follow the first amendment to the 2013 Constitution which gave the President powers to unilaterally appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court.

The tampering with the Constitution at a time when several laws which have an impact on the enjoyment of the rights enshrined in Zimbabwe’s Bill of Rights, is widely viewed as being aimed at centralising the President’s powers, which vitiates against the principle of separation of powers to allow for democratic checks and balances in the spirit of good governance and accountability.

 It is reported that another dent that cast further aspersions on the government’s commitment to uphold and respect constitutionally guaranteed rights was the spike in the harassment, arrests and assaults of journalists, human rights activists and members of opposition political parties, despite promises by the post-2017 and post-2018 elections Zanu PF government, to break with the ills of the era of former President Robert Mugabe.

For instance, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested twice during the course of the year on two separate charges and denied bail at the Magistrates Courts, in the process enduring long detention periods at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. For each of the separate charges, Chi’nono only managed to secure his freedom after being granted bail by the High Court.

 According to MISA-Zimbabwe,it is against these retrogressive developments, that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, noted in a report during the year under review, that Zimbabwe was suffering from political polarisation and poor governance.

The Special Rapporteur noted then, that civic space continued to deteriorate, re-establishing an environment of fear and persecution.

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Ghana: Poor Education Causing Panic on COVID-19 Vaccines-Immunologist
February 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Arrival of COVID 19 vaccines in Ghana. Photo credit Francis Kokoroko / UNICEF
Arrival of COVID 19 vaccines in Ghana. Photo credit Francis Kokoroko / UNICEF

Ghana will from first week in March 2021 start vaccinating its populace with the two different types of COVID-19 vaccines available for use in the country. Prior to the arrival of the vaccines on 24th February 2021 there were mixed reactions as a result of the many conflicting theories about the vaccine. While many of the citizenry are of the view that the vaccines among other theories targets depopulating blacks, experts are calling for the right information to forestall public confidence in the process.

Immunologist, Dr Bernard Amoani at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Ghana asserts in winning public trust to achieved the desired result for this immunization, Government must use the right people to channel the appropriate information on the vaccines for a smooth take-off and a successful roll-out.

According to him, the available vaccines – COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and viral vector vaccines saw its preliminary data on the impact in Scotland reducing the risk of hospitalization substantially as such, this shows real promise that the vaccines could protect the citizenry from the severe effects of COVID-19.

“Findings from the first study to assess the impact of COVID-19 vaccination on prevention of severe illness in communities reveals four weeks after administration of a first dose, the risk of hospitalization was reduced by up to 85% by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and up to 94% by the Astra Zeneca vaccine”.

But Ghana has more than 3 variants of the covid-19 strains, hence the growing concerns about which type of the variants are the two available vaccines targeting to provide immunity for.   

Prof. Alfred Yawson, Head of Community Health Department, University of Ghana Medical School explains the UK variants is predominant in Ghana hence the Astra Zeneca vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines works perfectly for Ghana as well.

“We have carried out tests and we realized the UK variant is the dominant one in Ghana so the vaccines they use also fit well for us”.   

Available literature on the benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all other vaccines, reveals those vaccinated gains protection without ever having to risk the consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines instruct the cells to make a harmless piece of spike protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

These vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cell uses them to make the protein piece (spike proteins). After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them. Thus, they are no longer in the body to cause any harm as it is being speculated. The body cells display the protein piece on its surface and the immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin to build an immune response and make antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19. At the end of the process, the body has learned how to protect against future infection. Experts say any temporary discomfort experienced after getting the vaccine is a natural part of the process and an indication that the vaccine is efficacious.

However, vaccines are not like antimalarial drugs that start their work immediately after one has taken it. It takes time for the body immune system (cells) to produce immunity that can fight and defend one from getting the COVID-19 virus. Thus, it is prudent for the public to continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols even after one has taken the vaccine for some time until the body produces immunity.

If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down, says Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu
If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down, says Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu

Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu has implored every Ghanaian to avail themselves for the vaccination against the coronavirus, emphasizing the only way to reduce the rate of infection is to vaccinate.

The Health Minister Reiterated Ghana’s success on previous vaccinations as the country continues to use that as a spring board.

“Luckily, in Ghana, we have success stories to tell with vaccines in children. Measles, polio, tetanus, we have used vaccines to try to prevent our kids from getting them. So now, vaccines shouldn’t be a new thing for us. The only new thing we are going to add on to the battle that we have fought since last year is the vaccines. If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down,” he said.

Meanwhile the health ministry would deploy a total of 12,471 vaccinators, 37,413 volunteers and 2079 team supervisors for a planned two rounds vaccinations campaign.

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RFI strongly condemns the burning of the home of its Niamey correspondent, Moussa Kaka
February 26, 2021 | 0 Comments
Moussa Kaka has already been subjected to numerous threats.Photo credit Afrikmag
Moussa Kaka has already been subjected to numerous threats.Photo credit Afrikmag

In Niamey, Niger, the home of RFI correspondent Moussa Kaka was attacked and partly burned down by unknown assailants on the morning of Thursday 25 February. Moussa and his family are unharmed. He intends to file a complaint against persons unknown with the criminal police in Niamey.

RFI notes that this attack comes four days after the second round of the presidential election and that Moussa Kaka was targeted because he is a journalist. This is a very serious attack on the freedom of the press and the safety of our colleague.

A long-time RFI correspondent in Niger, Moussa Kaka has already been subjected to numerous threats, including cyber-harassment by unknown individuals at the end of last year, and has already filed a complaint.

RFI notes that this attack comes four days after the second round of the presidential election and that Moussa Kaka was targeted because he is a journalist.Photo credit Afrikmag
RFI notes that this attack comes four days after the second round of the presidential election and that Moussa Kaka was targeted because he is a journalist.Photo credit Afrikmag

RFI extends its full support to Moussa Kaka and his family, condemns these acts of repression and will continue to defend the freedom of its correspondent to exercise his profession as a journalist in optimum safety conditions.

*RFI

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Rwanda:Court claims juridical competence to try Rusesabagina
February 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti 

File photo Mr Rusesabagina presented by the Rwandan authorities to the media The court says it will proceed with his trial. Photo Clement Uwiringiyimana/Reuters

The Nyanza based High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes has said it would proceed with the trial of the terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina stressing that it had jurisdiction to try a suspect who committed crimes on Rwandan territory regardless the citizenship.

The hearing resumed this Friday 26, February 2021 after the court had been adjourned early this month when the prime suspect said he was a Belgian not Rwandan challenging the judicial competence of Rwandan court to try him, but rather sought the transfer to Belgium for trial should he be accused of any crime.

While the court is based in the Southern Province’s Nyanza district, the hearing is being held in the country’s capital city of Kigali, precisely in the Supreme Court’s premises to accommodate more people.

In today’s hearing, the courtroom packed though they respected guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as wearing facemasks and respected social distancing.

The hearing was covered by both local and international journalists and attended with different people including representatives from foreign countries.

Rusesabagina is one of 21 terror suspects all members of the National Liberation Front (FLN) who allegedly committed various crimes in Rwanda between 2028-2019 and at least claimed lives of nine people.

FLN is the army wing of the political outfit Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) in French Acronym whose leader and founder is Rusesabagina.

He faces nine crimes including the formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, abduction as an act of terrorism, and armed robbery as an act of terrorism.

The prosecution alleges that Rusesabagina’s MRCD through its armed wing, FLN launched the attacks in Rwanda’s Southern Province through Nyungwe forests and killed civilians injured others, and committed other crimes.

In the same case, eight-four people filed cases claiming for reparation. All the suspects were present along with their lawyers.

Cross border crimes

Judges in theHigh Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes said it decided to try Rusesabagina whether he is a Rwanda or a foreigner because he allegedly committed crimes on Rwandan territory. He will therefore be tried among with his co-accused.

According to the presiding judge Antoine Muhima, the court has analyzed Rusesabagina’s objection and rendered it baseless as the crimes he is accused of were committed on Rwandan soil and the Rwandan law on trans-border crimes grants the court he presented the rights to try crimes in that nature.

“If the alleged crimes took place on Rwandan soil, this chamber has the jurisdiction to try them whether the accused is a Rwandan or a foreigner,” he said.

No sooner had the judge pronounced the decision on the jurisdictions of the court to try Rusesabagina and order the hearing to continue than Rusesabagina and his lawyers appealed against the decision.

Lawyer Gatera Gashabana  told the court that his client would appeal both the jurisdictional decision and present objections.

He prayed for the court to avail more time for him and his client to make their submissions on further objections before the case could proceed.

 “We would therefore pray for the court that this hearing be adjourned to allow us time to do that, I believe it is within the rights of our client to present this obstacle before we can proceed.,” he said Gashabana who was also flanked with the second lawyer to defend.

Both the prosecution, headed by Deputy Prosecutor General Angelique Habyarimana alleged there was no reason for the court to adjourn this case because all necessary submissions had been filed and duly responded.

However, lawyer Gashabana said there were news submissions and insisted that his client be given the rights to sit and agree on the submissions they could present to the court.

The judge ruled in favour of the suspect and gave Rusesabagina five days to submit his objection through the electronic case management system.

He adjourned the hearing to March 3, 2021.

Two Generals seek bail

Meanwhile, the hearing continued with the rest of the suspects.

Two former generals of DR Congo based Democratic Forces for Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and allegedly left the outfit to join FLN-MRCD.

They include  Maj Gen Felicien Nsanzubukire and Maj Gen Anastase Munyaneza and were also present in the court with their lawyers.

The prosecution accuses them of a number of terror-related charges.

The court heard that Nsanzubukire features on a sanction list by the UN court Security Council over atrocity he allegedly committed while he acted as one of the commanders of FDLR.

The duo’s lawyer Herman Twajamahoro prayed for the court to grant bail to his clients saying that there were so cooperative since their capture in the FARDC’s DR Congo army operations fight FDRL.

He also said that one of his clients was critically sick and needed medical attention insisting that both suspects can be given bail and be tried while out.

He adjourned the hearing to March 3, 2021.

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Sierra Leone receives Sino Pharm COVID -19 vaccine from China
February 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The Sierra Leonean government has today received a donation from the Chinese government of its first ever vaccine of 200,000 doses of the Sino Pharm COVID-19 Vaccine and 201,600 pieces of disposable needles and syringes which was brought in a chartered flight at the country’s Lungi international.

The donation according to the Sierra Leonean government ‘’reflect the long term traditional friendship and deep mutual trust between the two countries’’ adding that the vaccines would play an important role in Sierra Leone’s drive to prevent and contain the Covid-19 virus epidemic in the country.

Handing over the consignment, the Ambassador of China in Sierra Leone, Mr. Hu Zhangliang, said that the relationship between China and Sierra Leone has been in existence for over 45 years.

He said that the first batch of vaccine is to help boost the government of Sierra Leone in the fight against COVID-19 stating that  currently people all over the world are striving to get the vaccine and that their  support is by no means meet the high demand across the board at the moment.

“I strongly believe this donation will help the country fastly succeed in fighting against Covid 19 and contribute to the final victory of the final fight. H.E. President Xi Jinping has solemnly made it clear that China will contribute to the realization of the availability and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries. China walks the talk. At the request of the WHO, China decided to provide 10 million doses of Chinese vaccines to the COVAX with a view to meeting the urgent needs of developing countries. China has also provided vaccine assistance to other friendly countries,’’ he said.

The Chinese Ambassador in Sierra Leone added that the fight against the pandemic is a relay race to save lives together rather than a zero-sum game. It is important for the International Community to join hands in rejecting vaccine nationalism, addressing vaccine deficits, bridging the “immunization gap”, and promoting fair and reasonable deployment of vaccines. All countries should come together and respond with solidarity and coordination like never before.

 Spokesperson for the Covid-19 Response in the country, Solomon Jamiru Esq, thanked the Chinese government for their timely support during the outbreak of the corona virus, adding that the strong bilateral ties between China and Sierra Leone have existed for a long time. He said the donation reflects the long term diplomatic friendship and deep mutual trust.

“Indeed the Republic of Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China are celebrating a wonderful 50 years of diplomatic relations. I must establish the importance for our people to understand that the relationship between China and Sierra Leone has been special and cordial and will continue to involve from peace to peace, good health to health and prosperity. We are receiving this consignment from the people’s Republic of China on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of this special relationship,” he said.

He said the Sierra Leone has now realized that China is a true friend, he this has is shown at a time the country is country is fighting a pandemic war. He expressed gratitude to Ambassador Hu for his kind of gesture.

“The Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s Extended Programme on Immunization (EPI) is working with partners to finalize vaccine roll-out plans adding that these plans will aim to offer the vaccine to those at highest risk from getting seriously sick and dying from COVID-19 as early as possible and once everything is in place (including cold-chain distribution, training of healthcare workers etc.)’’

“Once plans are finalized the specific timelines and first groups to be vaccinated will be communicated to the general public, including on this page. Keep up the great work, and stay safe,’’ the government said.  

Sierra Leone has so far recorded a total confirmed cases of the virus of 3,880 as of Wednesday and a total deaths of 79 with recoveries of 2,612 so far according to the Government‘s daily covid-19 update in the country.

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Governance structure for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and antimicrobial use (AMU) established with FAO support
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

The governance structure will provide technical oversight during the National Strategic Plan for combating Antimicrobial resistance 2018-2022.

                                                                                                                                         17 February 2021, Makeni City The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) have supported the Government of Sierra Leone to establish a One Health governance structure for Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and Antimicrobial use (AMU) surveillance in the human and animal health sectors.

AMR  poses a significant global health threat to human and animal health. It is estimated that, by 2050, ten million people will die every year due to AMR , unless a global response to this  problem is mounted. In response to this threat, the Government of Sierra Leone recognized AMR as a priority agenda, and developed a National Strategic Plan for combating Antimicrobial resistance 2018-2022. To implement the interventions stated in the strategic plan, a strong One Health governance structure/mechanism for coordinating national efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance as outlined in the objective one of the strategic plan has been established. The created governance mechanism comprises of a National Multi-sectoral Coordinating Group (NMCG) and Technical Working Groups (TWGs) with clear Terms of Reference (ToRs) to provide technical oversight during implementation of the strategic plan.

With funding support from the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), under its Fleming Fund (FF), FAO is the lead grantee for the animal health component of the Fleming Fund Sierra Leone Country Grant for AMR, whereas WHO is the lead implementing agency for the public health component of the grant. FAO and WHO supported the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Ministry of Environment (MOE)/Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen the NMCG, which is expected to oversee and coordinate AMR related activities in all sectors to ensure a systematic, comprehensive approach. Dr Joseph Kanu, the Deputy Program Manager for surveillance and National AMR Focal Person, at the opening ceremony of the workshop, emphasized “the importance of establishing a governance structure for AMR and it’s linkage to the National One Health Platform (NOHP). He said “The governance structure is essential to tackle AMR, with a weak governance structure it will be hard to address the AMR challenges”. He further stated that, “NMCG is expected to lead facilitation and coordination of a national response to the threat of AMR. It should be multisectorial with representation from across all the sectors from human, animal and environmental health”. The NMCG was established in 2017  but had never been formalized. The meeting agreed on the organogram and developed Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the NMCG.

. Dr. Germain Bobo, Country Team Leader for FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) said, “No one person, organization, or sector can address issues at the animal-human-environment interface alone, including AMR. By promoting collaboration across all sectors, a One Health approach can achieve the best health outcomes for people, animals, and plants in a shared environment”. He further highlighted the activities under the animal health component of the Fleming Fund country grant for AMR which includes a situational analysis of AMR/AMU in food animals and development of a national surveillance plan for AMR in animal health.

According to the WHO Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Lead, Anna Maruta, “The governance structure is essential to tackle AMR, and the scope should be broad enough to address all five strategic objectives of the global action plan, prioritizing activities in a step-wise approach”. She further added that, “the NMCG must be appropriately integrated and have clearly defined roles and responsibilities in the existing health system, public health and disease-specific programmes, animal health and production, the food sector and environmental initiatives”.  

The meeting deliberated and agreed on the One Health governance structure for AMR and linked the proposed structure to the existing and operational Sierra Leone structure at the One Health Coordination Committee level and will be supported by a secretariat to be funded by WHO. 

Establishment of the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) for AMR/AMU

Below the NMCG, the One Health AMR Technical Committee was established with three TWGs to lead various thematic areas as follows; (i) surveillance and laboratory, (ii) education and research, and (iii) AMR stewardship TWGs. Their ToRs have been developed that outline their roles and responsibilities with membership defined.

The Fleming Fund Country Grant for Sierra Leone focuses on setting the foundations for AMR and AMU surveillance in the human and animal health sectors. The grant will run for 13  months, to further support One Health approach for AMR surveillance, the   situational analysis of antibiotic use in food animals in the country and the development of  the national surveillance plan for AMR in animal health.

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Kenyans urged to support the BBI
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Political party leaders have called on Kenyans to put aside their political differences for the country’s unity.

In a joint statement, the leaders led by President Uhuru Kenyatta ODM leader Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi, Kanu’s Gideon Moi and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu rallied Kenyans to back the Building Bridges Initiative (Amendment) Bill to resolve many longstanding national challenges that hold them back from realizing a united and prosperous nation.

“Now is the moment for all Kenyans to put aside partisan divides and come together to build a better Kenya; for ourselves, our children, and for generations of Kenyans yet to be born,” state part of the statement read by the KANU party leader Gideon Moi.

The BBI proponents resolved to embark on civic education to sensitize citizens on benefits available in the document.

“To ensure the voice of every Kenyan is heard and to enable every one of us to exercise their civic duty, we will undertake civic education to sensitize the entire Kenyan nation on the opportunities that lie for our homeland and nation as part of this initiative,” the statement further stated.

They further expressed their gratitude to County Assemblies for unanimously endorsing the popular report when it was transmitted to them for debate by the electoral commission.

As of Thursday, 42 Counties had approved the document, with only two rejecting it, and the remaining three are yet to vote.

“Thus far, 42 County Assemblies have considered the Bill. Their affirming voice has thundered across the Republic, in resonance with the desire of all Kenyans to further strengthen our governance by breaking the cycle of divisive elections, fostering the equitable distribution of resources by enhancing the share of revenues to County Governments, and creating a more robust and responsive framework to secure opportunities for all Kenyans including our micro, small and medium enterprises,” they said.

The leaders who spoke from the State House in Nairobi said they would hold a joint consultative meeting between Members of Parliament and County leadership on the 9th March 2021.

The BBI document will be tabled in the National Assembly and the Senate next week for debate.

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in Africa: A Dialogue on Policy Perspectives and Investment Options
February 25, 2021 | 1 Comments

Dr. Kathryn Toure*

It is a pleasure to represent the International Development Research Centre, or IDRC, and speak at this important policy dialogue, organized by the African Academy of Sciences, on the 4th industrial revolution.

Africa was largely left out of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd industrial revolutions.[1] In the 4th, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship will be the norm in all sectors of society.[2] This could greatly benefit the people of Africa, however, any deep societal inequalities will be reproduced. If, on the other hand, inequalities are consciously brought forward and addressed, I anticipate an inclusive 4th industrial revolution that contributes to the Africa We Want.

That is why I argue for applying a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to all policies and programs at national and regional levels. I would like to humbly share some experiences from IDRC in this regard.

First, who are we at IDRC? The one-of-a-kind organization was created by an Act of Canadian Parliament. We have a diverse group of about 350 staff persons around the world. We fund participatory applied research in the Global South. In Africa, IDRC has supported, for over 50 years, hundreds of African research organizations, and thousands of African researchers.

Women in research and innovation

Let’s start with a discussion of women. They need to be integral to Africa’s 4th industrial revolution journey. This means facilitating their participation in all spheres of life.

We need women in science and technology, for example, if the continent is to benefit from their perspectives, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Too many women get into science and abandon it. We need, with great intentionality, to create environments where women can thrive in science.

At IDRC, we are trying to understand and address systemic barriers that keep women from advancing in science. One study of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)[3] is assessing the policies and practices that its 16 member universities have put in place to support the participation of women in science and technology, and in leadership.

We are also supporting the work of the African Leadership Centre to develop a framework to guide training in inclusive leadership at universities and in African science systems.

These are two important pan African organizations and initiatives that will mobilize knowledge and action to get at the root causes of discrimination and help liberate the human potential needed for Africa to reap the benefits of the 4th industrial revolution.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, plus “a” for the “arts” gives us STEAM. Bringing a creative approach to STEAM education and research can make the sciences more attractive to women and help make the science more relevant to context. This has been proven in other parts of the world, and IDRC is supporting advances in STEAM in Africa. For example, researchers at the University of Rwanda are integrating women’s experiences to improve the design of housing and public spaces, knowing women are usually left out of such processes. Researchers at the University of Mauritius are involving women in the design of small wind turbines, to respond to different energy needs in rural, urban and coastal areas of the country.

Promoting collaborative science

At IDRC we promote collaborative science and open data. Worldwide cooperation and the sharing of genomic sequencing led to the development of vaccines against covid-19 in just one year.[4] What could Africa gain for its 4th industrial revolution through more scientific collaboration and the more strategic use and sharing of data?

Collaboration in science is necessary to bring quick solutions to shared and complex challenges. That is why IDRC and other partners support the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI). In fifteen African countries, councils that fund research collaborate to strengthen science in the national interest and encourage cross-border collaborations. The councils have promoted the concept of open science in Africa, to spur technological and social discoveries.

Open science is based on open data and open access to the results of scientific inquiry, to enhance efficiency, the rate of discovery, and the understanding of complex systems. Science is part of the backbone of the 4th industrial revolution, and scientists need to work in collaboration across their fields and across countries in integrated ways, sharing experiences and learnings across borders, as encouraged in the Science Granting Councils Initiative.

Dr. Kathryn Toure
Dr. Kathryn Toure

The Free Trade Agreement is promoting more intra-African trade. Open science promotes more open sharing of data and scientific discoveries and more collaboration across borders. Both these dynamics – intra-African trade, and open science – have the capacity to boost Africa’s benefits from the 4th industrial evolution, if an equity and inclusion lens is continually used.

Using a gender and equity lens must be intentional and continuous

Using a gender and equity lens is not easy. It requires commitment, expertise, and tools. It might be inspiring if I share a bit about what has helped us at IDRC.

We made a name for ourselves in gender and inclusion going back at least to the first woman President of IDRC. She inspired us to integrate concerns for gender and inclusion in all IDRC work. Since then, we have publicly shared IDRC’s Equality Statement and developed a gender and inclusion framework to support the implementation of our Strategy 2030, which was launched just this month. We are excited about this Strategy for a more inclusive and sustainable world and hope you will share in our excitement.

No IDRC-funded work will be gender blind. It will be gender and inclusion aware, sensitive, or responsive. And some will be transformative – meaning that it asks questions that get at the root causes of discrimination, is designed in highly inclusive and participatory ways, ensures that concerns for gender and inclusion do not “fade” over the course of the research, and sees the beginning of structural change in the life cycle of the project.

What else has helped us at IDRC? We have a working group that looks not only at gender and inclusion in the research we fund but also at issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization. We allow ourselves to be introspective and even critical, identifying where we need to improve and building and resourcing a roadmap for change.

We have integrated concerns for gender and inclusion into our strategy, our outcome pathways, and our monitoring, learning and evaluation framework. We have encouraged staff to complete a learning module called Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+), which is available on the web and suggests how to account for intersectional issues, such as age, race, socioeconomic status, religion, or ability, when designing initiatives. We also developed a tool called Research Quality Plus (RQ+) which helps us, and many others around the world, know when research is of high quality and how quality research can be cultivated. It shows that the integration of gender and inclusion is one of several factors that makes for high quality research.

We also engage with other partners and learn from their experience – for example from the gender team at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa and the CGIAR[5] Generating Evidence and New Directions for Equitable Results or GENDER Platform.

We work with the International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI) to support researchers to use the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index or WEAI tool. And when it comes to education, we learn from the expertise and approaches of the Forum for African Women Educationalists or FAWE, which has chapters in over 30 African counties and almost 30 years of experience working with schools and governments to promote equity in education

So, there are important resources on the continent to learn about using a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. If we do not, the 4th industrial revolution will serve some people but not all Africans.

Including women and youth in business

and in transitioning to greener economies

Back to the discussion about women. Not only are they needed in science. We also need them in business. What can help women in manufacturing benefit more from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and contribute to the 4th industrial revolution? The Kenya Association of Manufacturers is using evidence to improve the competitiveness of women industrialists,[6] [7] something to be emulated elsewhere.

The Africa office of the International Center for Research on Women has shown the importance for businesswomen of healthcare, childcare, access to information and financial resources, and protection from violence.[8] Accounting for these factors in policies and programs will go a long way in enhancing women’s contributions to the 4th industrial revolution.

The current global pandemic has accelerated entry into the 4th industrial revolution. It is estimated that 52% of agricultural enterprises are now using technology as an indispensable tool, to beat covid-19 challenges and thrive going forward.[9] Boosting the skills of various groups of people to integrate and optimize technology in their businesses is the way to go for the 4th industrial revolution.

The Director of Research at the African Development Bank stressed how youth will be one of Africa’s most important assets in meeting the 4th industrial revolution.[10] Youth need educational opportunities, entrepreneurial outlooks, technological savviness, and skills for the jobs of the future.

With Africa and the rest of the world facing the impacts of climate change, an opportunity presents itself to transition to greener economies and renewable energies in the 4th industrial revolution. South Africa is positioning itself to use hydrogen for its domestic supply of energy and even export green hydrogen on the global market.[11] The success of such efforts depends both on smart regulatory frameworks and the skilling of youth to work in these emerging sectors.

With regard to skilling for greener economies, IDRC is supporting teams in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya to strengthen engineering research and education.[12] In Senegal, IDRC and the company Meridiam are collaborating to explore best practices for training engineers and technicians for solar energy.[13] Such skilling and reskilling, of people of all genders, will support Africa’s youth to contribute to greener economies.

I have one more thought about inclusion. I think about how Africa is home to a quarter of the world’s refugees. This represents millions of people. I have not seen the research on this, but I know the importance of connectivity[14] for the 4th industrial revolution. I wonder if connectivity for refugee communities and their role in the 4th industrial revolution is considered. We need everyone participating. What will happen if we leave people behind? How do we reduce the structural inequalities that limit participation? How are internally displaced people and refugees integrated into national development plans as we move forward?

Conclusion

In conclusion, I invite us to imagine policies and programs developed with the most marginalized, the most forgotten, in mind. Imagine infrastructure and technologies – from roads to software – that truly consider and integrate the needs and aspirations of diverse groups of people. Resilient inequalities must be confronted to realize the 4th industrial revolution in Africa and globally.

Africa has incredible ingenuity and immense capacities for innovation, which will inspire the 4th industrial revolution and make it matter for Africa.

Grand merci.

If you were to speak with a head of government today, or a key funding partner concerning Africa’s 4IR, what 3 to 5 major actions would you ask of them and why?

  • I hope that all African Union member states, as they agreed in 2006, will invest each year 1% of their GDP in research and development.
    • We need to promote women scientists and inclusive leadership in universities and science systems, to liberate capacity for creativity and innovation.
    • It is also important to use an equity and inclusion lens to ensure access to information and capital for the development of small and medium-sized businesses.
    • Finally, mainstream concerns for gender and social inclusion into the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA), with a view to promoting intraAfrican trade and investment and transitioning to green economies.

Who should we be working with to realize the priorities for 4IR in Africa?

I have my biases. I think the research community in Africa has an important role to play in informing how Africa harnesses the 4th industrial revolution for its 1.2 billion people. But research is not an elite activity. Science needs to be close to people and to communities. And people and communities need to be in the science. Researchers need to collaborate across national, linguistic, and disciplinary boundaries and work with governments, private sector actors, and civil society organizations.

Ensuring the generation of contextualized knowledge and solutions will help leverage the incredible creative capacities of communities across the continent.

*Dr. Kathryn Toure is Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, International Development Research Centre (IDRC).Speaking notes presented at event organized by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) Thursday, February 25, 2021, 16:00-18:00 East Africa time


[1] Enhancing the Digital Transformation of African Universities: COVID-19 as Accelerator

[2] The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Africa needs to keep up – IT News Africa

[3] ARUA brings together 16 of sub-Saharan Africa’s research-intensive universities. As globally connected and respected institutions, these universities are trailblazers and role models for other African universities.

[4] COVID-19 vaccine: How was it developed so fast? (medicalnewstoday.com)

[5] CGIAR = Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

[6] KAM, ICRW Announces First Women in Manufacturing Study in Kenya (khusoko.com)

[7] Women in Manufacturing report

[8] www.idrc.ca/en/project/economies-beyond-emergencies-assessing-impacts-covid-19-policy-responses-informal-workers

[9] Agribusiness in Unprecedented Times

[10] How Africa Can Harness the Fourth Industrial Revolution by Hanan Morsy – Project Syndicate (project-syndicate.org)

[11] South Africa is well positioned to export green hydrogen ­– PwC (engineeringnews.co.za)

[12] Rethink the engineering ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa

[13] Meridiam and IDRC announce training and research program in renewable energies | IDRC – International Development Research Centre

[14] How Africa Wins The 4th Industrial Revolution (forbes.com)

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Kenya’s opposition party extends the deadline for presidential applications
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Kenya’s main opposition party, has pushed forward the deadline for submitting the presidential candidate applications.

The exercise, which was expected to end on February 26 will now go on until March 31, 2021, the party’s National Elections Board chairperson Catherine Mumma announced on Thursday.

“Further to the notice of the National Elections Board (NEB) of January 21, 2021, calling for the submission of applications by individuals interested in consideration as the ODM party presidential candidate for the 2022 general elections, this is to extend the deadline for the submission of applications from February 26, 2021, to 31st march 2021,” read the statement.

In January 2021, Raila Odinga’s party invited candidates interested in flying ODM’s flag in the 2022 presidential polls to apply.

Aspirants must be Kenyan citizens and a degree holder from a recognized university. He or she must also be a registered voter and a life member of the party.

They are also required to pay ksh1 million (approximately US$10,000) non-refundable application fees.

The application forms can be sourced from the party headquarters in Nairobi or downloaded from the party’s website.

Only the outgoing Mombasa Governor and the deputy party leader Ali Hassan Joho have submitted his applications.

Others expected to send their applications are Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and the party leader Raila Odinga.

The former Prime Minister has been the party’s presidential candidate in the last three general elections.

The Orange party recently dismissed calls by former Raila’s allies asking to be endorsed by the African Union envoy.

The former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka and his Amani National Congress (ANC) counterpart Musalia were allegedly waiting for the opposition Chief’s endorsement because they had supported him in previous elections.

In a statement to the newsroom, the ODM national chairman John Mbadi ruled out any possibility of Raila endorsing any of the Nasa coalition principals-Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, and Moses Wetang’ula.

While referring to Raila’s  2018 mock swearing-in as the People’s president, which the trio boycotted, Mbadi described the trio as incoherent cowards who depend on endorsements but cannot stand to be counted.

“As a party, we will strongly discourage Hon. Odinga from doing so. We encourage Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula, and Musalia Mudavadi to stop whining and be men for once in their political careers,” said Mbadi.

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Kenya Morans honored for history-making
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) chairman Paul Otula
Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) chairman Paul Otula

In conjunction with Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF), Kenya’s Sports Ministry hosted a men’s basketball team popularly known as the Morans to luncheon following their triumph in Yaoundé Cameroon over the weekend.

In attendance were the Sports Minister Dr. Amina Mohamed, Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) chairman Paul Otula and the federation’s Secretary General Ambrose Kisoi, among other officials.

The Morans jetted back into the country on Wednesday, February 24, after thrashing African giants Angola 74-73 on Saturday in a nail-biting contest in the West African country.

The historic win saw Kenya booking a ticket to the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 tournament in Rwanda after a 28-year hiatus.

The Australian Elizabeth Mills’ side also qualified for the 2023 World Cup qualifiers for the first time.

Speaking during the event, Dr. Amina Mohamed said the government is committed to supporting the team’s activities before and during the tournament slated for August this year.

Dr. Amina said the Ministry would fully facilitate the team’s pre-competition camp by ensuring that all the team and competition prerequisites’ training needs are addressed promptly.

The Ministry will also cover the cost of participation.

“Yours has been a story of exceptional triumph and outstanding growth; the team and players’ needs are of the utmost priority to our operations. We want to keep you motivated and to reward you for honoring the flag of our beautiful country,” said Dr. Amina.

According to the KBF Secretary General, Kenya can become one of the continent’s basketball powerhouses if proper systems are implemented.

“We have learnt that we have a lot of talents in this country, and we need to have a well-coordinated way of bringing these talents together. Given good preparations and facilitation, the team can perform much better,” Kisoi said.

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Zimbabwe receives support from Japan govt to alleviate hunger
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire 

Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Satoshi Tanaka
Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Satoshi Tanaka

The Government of Japan announces has today  committed US$ 4.5 million for emergency food assistance in response to the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. 

 It is reported that an estimated 5.6 million people are severely food insecure in Zimbabwe. While a national analysis of urban food insecurity is soon to be released, the Government estimates that even now, about half of all urban dwellers—or roughly 2.2 million people—go to bed hungry.

The emergency assistance provided through WFP will reach the most vulnerable and food insecure households in urban areas, especially focusing on women-led households, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV, in order to ensure that they are able to meet their basic food and nutrition needs. The Japanese funding will cover the urgent food needs of 56,000 people, who will receive monthly electronic vouchers (e-vouchers) for food valued at US$ 12 per person.

The Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe, H.E. Mr Satoshi Tanaka, said that “Since I arrived in Zimbabwe in November last year, my discussions with various counterparts have highlighted the humanitarian crisis facing the country, caused by recurring droughts and the serious economic situation, in which a large proportion of the population are experiencing food shortages. After COVID-19 infections surged from December last year and a strict lockdown was enforced this January, vulnerable people, especially in urban areas where many people depend on informal activities such as vending to survive, have been particularly affected. Given the severity of the food insecurity situation, the Government of Japan decided to provide this Emergency Grant Aid. It will ensure timely assistance through WFP so that people in dire need in urban areas, especially women-led households, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV, can put food on the table. I would like to continue with various kinds of assistance to vulnerable people in Zimbabwe, including supporting the fight against COVID-19.”

The Country Director and Representative of WFP Zimbabwe, Ms Francesca Erdelmann, said “WFP welcomes this very timely support from the people of Japan, which comes at a crucial point in our scale up of food assistance to reach more than half a million urban Zimbabweans. There’s no doubt about it, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Zimbabwe’s pre-existing challenges and urban centres are now on the front lines of the current rise in acute hunger. Many families entirely depend upon WFP’s monthly cash transfers – which help people rebound faster into the livelihood they once had. With the valuable support of our partners such as Japan, we will continue to extend our support to cover the food needs of the most vulnerable at this critical time.”

The assistance complements funding of US$ 14.8 million provided by Japan in June 2020 to meet the essential food security needs of vulnerable households in rural areas. Given the extent and severity of the current food insecurity crisis in Zimbabwe, Japan has greatly increased its funding for urgent life-saving assistance. It is hoped that this assistance will go a long way towards alleviating hunger and ensuring that the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe are met.

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Rwanda on alert after Italian ambassador killed near the border with DRC
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ferdinand Maniraguha

File photo of a United Nations convoy north of the provincial capital of Goma (Getty Images
File photo of a United Nations convoy north of the provincial capital of Goma (Getty Images

Rwandan security organs are on high alert after the attack which claimed the life of Italian ambassador to  Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 22th February 2021.

The  convoy of ambassador Luca Attanasio was attacked  in the road Goma –Rutshuru, in North Kivu Province, Eastern part of DRC near the border with Rwanda. He was killed together with his bodyguard and driver.

Later government of Congo issued a statement blaming the attack on Rwanda rebel group, FDLR which operates in Rutshuru region.

On 23rd February, Rwandan security organs convened a meeting with population around the border  in the Rubavu district, cautioning them to be  on alert.

Commander of 3rd Division of Rwanda Defense Force, Major General Alex Kagame warned that if  FDLR  could kill a diplomat near the border, it can also  easily spoil Rwandan security on the border.

“FDLR is still there. Yesterday you heard that they killed an Italian ambassador. None can do it other than those (rebels) in Nyamuragira Mountain. They always kill, rob Congolese people, and they say that they want to come and destroy security here. We have to be cautious”, he said.

Major General Kagame added that the road Goma-Rutshuru is near the border with Rwanda, “so If they are able to kill someone in this road next to us, they can even reach here easily if people aren’t serious enough.”

He however promised people around the border that security organs are there to protect them but asked people to show their full cooperation.

Congolese government has started an thorough investigation to find out the real perpetrators of the attack. FDLR which is blamed for attack has denied any involvement.

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WFP strengthens community skills in Zimbabwe’s urban centres with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation support
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed an additional US$7 million in new funding from Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which will go directly towards assisting families living in Zimbabwe’s urban areas to strengthen their skills and ability to cope in the face of economic and climate shocks.

 It is reported that SDC’s support complements the cash transfers that WFP is already delivering to the most vulnerable, food insecure urban Zimbabweans with activities which build their resilience to cope with various shocks and stressors, which can devastate their food security. With the new funding, WFP together with other cooperating partners and the Government of Zimbabwe at both national and district levels will engage urban communities in Bulawayo, Mutare, and Gweru. These communities will work together to boost urban agriculture, build linkages between rural-urban food supply chains and learn climate smart agricultural techniques among other key activities.

The government currently estimates that about half of all urban dwellers – or roughly 2.2 million people – go to bed hungry. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Zimbabwe’s economic instability – and has had a particularly devastating effect on urban residents, many of whom were already living hand to mouth, working multiple jobs in the informal sector. The loss in livelihoods coupled with food price inflation and higher cost of living has meant that food insecurity and vulnerability of the urban poor has worsened.

Mr. Manuel Thurnhofer, the SDC Director of Cooperation in Zimbabwe said, “This timely contribution to WFP will help alleviate the suffering of a large number of people in Zimbabwe’s urban areas who are struggling to cope with the twin shocks of COVID-19 and inflationary pressures that are causing a rise in prices of basic commodities. In most urban households, women and children are generally the first to suffer economic and social hardships and we are pleased that in the project areas they will directly benefit from this support.”

“Zimbabwe’s urban communities are thriving with potential to be food secure, only they are severely hampered by frequent weather and economic shocks and now the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  WFP Representative Francesca Erdelmann added. “WFP is delighted to collaborate with SDC on this vital, resilience building component of our work to support the most vulnerable urban dwellers in Zimbabwe to get back on their feet and become more self-sufficient in the long term.”

WFP already delivers monthly cash transfers to 326,000 Zimbabweans and plans to scale up its urban assistance programme to reach at least 550,000 people living in the 28 worst affected and food insecure urban areas in the country.

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Kenya’s former Attorney General lands state job
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Githu Muigai   during the handing over ceremony of   the office to the  incoming AG  Justice Paul Kihara  at sheria house on 3rd April 2018 ( PHOTO.MARTIN MUKANGU. NAIROBI)
Githu Muigai during the handing over ceremony of the office to the incoming AG Justice Paul Kihara at sheria house on 3rd April 2018 ( PHOTO.MARTIN MUKANGU. NAIROBI)

Ex-Kenyan Attorney General (AG) Githu Muigai is the public-private partnerships committee’s new chairperson (PPP).

Githu’s appointment was confirmed via a Gazette notice by Treasury minister Ukur Yatani on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.

The Public-Private Partnership Unit (PPPU) is a particular purpose unit within the National Treasury.

PPPU serves as the secretariat and technical arm of the PPP Committee, which is tasked with assessing and approving PPP projects. 

As the resource centre for best practice and guardian of the PPP process’s integrity, the PPP Unit identifies problems, makes recommendations to the PPP Committee regarding potential solutions, and ensures that projects meet such quality criteria as affordability, value for money, and appropriate transfer of risk.

He was replaced his predecessor Amos Wako in August 2011 but resigned in 2018.

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