U.S. Supports Sovereignty of Ivory Coast in Upcoming Election
October 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Lawrence Freeman*
U.S. Ambassador to the Ivory Coast, Richard K. Bell, was interviewed on October 16, 2020, two weeks before Ivory Coast’s presidential election. Contrary to those forces inside and outside the Ivory Coast questioning the sovereignty of the nation, Amb Bell supported the right of the Constitutional Council to determine which are candidates eligible to run for President. Destabilizing the Ivory Coast or attempting to delegitimize the election of this important West African nation, would be harmful to African continent.
Below are excerpts from the interview with Amb Bell translated from French.
Question: Of the 44 candidates, only 4 were deemed eligible to take part in the election. Do you have a comment on this situation?
Amb Bell: There are a lot of applicants who weren’t successful. I think the Constitutional Council ruled that they did not meet the criteria. In any country, there must be someone who decides. Who says the law in this country? There has to be a clear answer to this question. In Côte d’Ivoire, for questions of this kind, I believe that it is the Constitutional Council which decides. The United States respects the sovereignty of Côte d’Ivoire. I therefore find it hard to see my government contradicting what is said by the highest Ivorian authority.
Question: What are the criteria of the United States to judge a credible election?
Amb Bell: The Ivorian people have the right to choose in peace who will preside over the destiny of the country during the period to come, by universal adult suffrage. Anything that hinders that is a problem. We do not live in a world of angels. We are unfortunately human beings. Something can be imperfect without losing its validity, without losing its legitimacy. But, there is a threshold below which one could not judge the process or the result credible.
But for the moment, I continue to believe that it is possible for Côte d’Ivoire to have a credible and peaceful election on October 31. But, it is not for us to fix the date. She is already known. I believe it is possible. It is never a given. It’s necessary to be vigilant.
*Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for over 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com
Majority of Embassy Bombing Victims Reject Sudan’s Terms for Settlement
October 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
–Sudan must settle claims to access funds, and victims say discriminatory offer a non-starter
Washington, DC–Following today’s announcement that the Trump Administration plans to delist Sudan from the State Sponsors of Terrorism (SST), the majority of 1998 US embassy bombing victims issued a statement reiterating their rejection of Sudan’s settlement offer.
Settlement of the US Supreme Court judgments is not required to delist Sudan from the SST, but will be required for Sudan to access international funds and enter into contracts following delisting. Sudan has refused to negotiate directly with victims who worked at the US embassies and has been hoping it can dictate settlement terms through the State Department, which has no legal authority to settle the majority of the embassy bombing claims.
Sudan has been lobbying Congress to embrace a deal Sudan made with the Trump Administration to overturn U.S. Supreme Court judgments and replace them with a discriminatory plan where compensation is dependent on a victim’s nation of birth rather than severity of injury. This scheme would pay nothing at all to nearly a third of the embassy victims and categorizes naturalized US citizens as “non-Americans.” Furthermore, it sets the value of the life of a US embassy employee’s born in Africa at only 8% of an employee born in America. Over 500 of the 700 US embassy bombing victims have signed a letter rejecting these terms.
“We want a resolution but cannot accept one that betrays so many US embassy victims and the most basic principles of American justice,” said Doreen Oport, an American employee of the US embassy who was badly burned in the 1998 attack. “Sudan’s offer intentionally discriminates against victims with the least political clout, and we are so grateful for leaders like Senator Menendez and Senator Schumer who are willing to demand just for those without power and who still believe America can stand for something.”
The US State Department does not have the authority to settle claims for foreign national employees and has chosen to designate naturalized American citizens as foreign nationals. “Because these victims have final judgments, even an act by Congress seeking to enforce Sudan’s offer over victim’s objection would likely be struck down in Court because such an act would violate laws against discrimination based on nationality and the property rights of all judgment holders,” said Gavriel Mairone, attorney for the majority of the victims. “Victims have sought to negotiate terms that would be fair and sustainable for the people of Sudan, but Sudan has thus far refused to attempt to reach a compromise which would work for all parties.”
Senator Menendez, ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has already issued a statement saying the State Department and Sudan must work to resolve the concerns of US embassy bombing victims before Congress will act on immunity legislation for Sudan.
*Courtesy of Eleison Group
Sudan’s record wheat harvest is proof that Bank agricultural transformation program will boost breadbasket goal
October 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
Despite coronavirus-related lockdowns, travel and transport restrictions, Sudan has just recorded its largest wheat harvest. According to Sudanese officials, the nation saw a wheat production level of a 1.115 million-ton harvest from 315,500 hectares of farmland. That’s quite an improvement from just five years ago, when farmers in Sudan working about a quarter-million hectares of land harvested just 472,000 tons of the grain.
Development experts and economists say the nation is on the path to become Africa’s next wheat-sourcing breadbasket, and Sudanese farmers and government leaders are crediting the African Development Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation program, or TAAT, for delivering the latest technology of heat-tolerant wheat varieties to Sudanese wheat farmers at scale.
“Now, we consistently have good quality wheat and in record numbers,” says Sudan farmer Daf’Allah Mohamed Ahmed, one of more than 1,400 farmers and stakeholders taking part in the TAAT program.
During a recent visit by top-level Sudanese Ministry of Agriculture officials, the Bank’s Director for Agriculture and representatives from TAAT implementing partner the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas (ICARDA), Ahmed strolled through lush green wheat friends, gesturing for the cameras while describing his agribusiness success.
“My wheat yield increased from 2.5 tons, to 5 tons,” Ahmed says, with a big-bellied laugh and grinning from ear to ear.
Introduced in 2017 and adopted by Sudan in the 2017/2018 wheat season, TAAT is helping the country to boost yields and become self-sufficient in wheat by deploying productivity-enhancing technologies. TAAT aims to raise food output by 100 million tons and lift 40 million people out of poverty by 2025, by harnessing high-impact, proven technologies to raise productivity, mitigate risks, and promote diversification and processing.
Sudan’s bold ambition could be achievable. Agriculture makes up 40% of the national economy and occupies 80% of the workforce. Wheat, sorghum, and millet provide more than half of the calories consumed by Sudanese people every day.
High temperatures, often exceeding 38°C during Sudan’s short wheat growing season, severely limit crop performance and yield, while climate change, lower and inconsistent yields inhibit efforts, and severely reduces farmers’ incomes.
The good news is that advances in crop science mean that the situation is changing. The TAAT Wheat Compact is focusing on accelerated production of high-quality certified seeds of heat-tolerant wheat varieties and ensuring they reach farmers who need them.
In line with this push for increased wheat production, the Sudanese government, working with ICARDA and the Bank, set up eight innovation platforms to scale up innovative technologies, seed production and distribution in all of the country’s major wheat producing areas.
The TAAT scheme worked with more than a dozen private seed companies to produce more than 45,000 tons of certified wheat seed in 2018/19 – enough to cover targeted wheat production areas in the country with high-yielding seeds better suited to Sudan’s hot climate.
“Sudan is optimistically referred to as an awakening giant, and its vast plains are seen by development experts as a potential bread-basket to feed Africa,” according to a report by the Bank’s researchers.
TAAT’s work has been a critical and a defining moment in the lives of 15,000 farmers who have benefitted from the program through technology promotion field days. Similarly, farmers like Ahmed along the wheat value chain – 44% youth and women – at innovation platform sites have been trained in wheat grain and seed production, value addition, and innovation.
“To put it in perspective, the additional production will make Sudan 100% self-sufficient in wheat production and put the country in the top three producers of wheat on the African continent,” said Martin Fregene, the Bank’s Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry.
Bank officials say successful TAAT interventions in Sudan are not unique. In Ethiopia, TAAT funds are providing 28,000 farmers with seed that can withstand the lowlands’ high temperatures. TAAT also aims to scale up heat-tolerant wheat production tenfold, creating 220,000 jobs – and doubling farmer incomes.
Zimbabwe intends to leverage TAAT to reach more farmers, as well as drive public-private partnerships and attract anchor investment, among other goals. Since 2018, TAAT has paid for the fall armyworm pesticides used to treat 1,655 tons of drought-tolerant maize seeds. More than 165,500 smallholder farmers benefited from the treated seed.
In Kenya, TAAT established partnerships with 28 seed companies: through its partnership network, the TAAT Maize Compact recorded 1,003,640 direct beneficiaries with climate smart maize hybrids.
The freshwaters of Democratic Republic of Congo provided opportunity for the TAAT Aquaculture Compact to help build a resilient private aquaculture sector. Working with aquaculture SMEs, TAAT has impacted some 2,500 people working in the fish value chain, offering training in best management and practices for fish feed, fish pond management, fish conservation and the production of fish fry.
The Bank is also working with the Zambian government, seed companies and community leaders to distribute pesticide-treated and drought-tolerant wheat, maize and sorghum to farmers. In the last two years, TAAT has provided Zambia with more than 28,000 liters of chemical used to treat close to 5,000 tons of seed that resists Fall Armyworm infestation. Close to half-a-million Zambian farmers have benefited from the treated seed.
“We need collaborating partners such as TAAT, to come in and compliment what the government is already doing,” said Alick Daka Fall, Armyworm Coordinator and Deputy Director of Zambia’s Ministry of Agriculture.
These are just a few nations where TAAT interventions are making a difference. Back in Sudan, agricultural transformation and benefits of these new innovations are set to be felt beyond Sudan’s borders. In the next season, Sudan is expected to generate a surplus of seed that could help farmers in countries with similar climates, such as Nigeria, Mali, Niger, and Mauritania.
Beyond helping farmers like Ahmed in wheat production, TAAT has helped to increase yields in local staples, including maize, rice, wheat, cassava, high-iron beans, sorghum, millet, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes as well as livestock and fish.
Two Pan African Visions reporters win media awards on coronavirus reporting
October 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
Two reporters of the internationally acclaimed media house, Pan African Visions which operates www.panafricanvisions.com news website and the monthly PAV magazine have been meritoriously rewarded for their reporting on the coronavirus epidemic across Africa.
The reporters, Ismael Sallieu Koroma from Sierra Leone and Boris Esono Nwenfor from Cameroon individually received media awards for their craftmanship and consistent reporting in raising awareness on the coronavirus pandemic.
The award organized by the Merck Foundation and African First Ladies assessed the works of African journalist and their strive in keeping their local audiences informed about the coronavirus and preventive measures.
As per the organizer, the award dubbed “Stay at Home” media recognition seeks to promote journalism which goes above and beyond to separate facts from myths and misconceptions about the novel coronavirus which was ravaged the world’s economy, Africa included.
Organized by Merck Foundation partnership with African First Ladies of Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Burundi, Central African Republic (C.A.R.), Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, The Gambia, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville, Angola and Mozambique, journalist in the continent were segmented into broadcast, digital and print media categories.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasizes, “I am very proud of our winners. We received a tremendous response from African journalists in form of their entries. I truly believe that Media plays a crucial role in educating and sensitizing our communities about health and sensitive issues such as COVID-19, therefore, through the awards, we are recognizing the distinguished reportage and the exceptional work of journalists who frequently covered this topic in their countries”.
Pan African Visions reporter Ismael Sallieu Koroma came first in the print media category for West Africa and was also awarded a cash prize of $500 while Boris Esono Nwenfor came in at the second position in online media category for Francophone Africa. Alongside his recognition, he received a $300 cash prize.
Taking to social media, Boris Esono Nwenfor thanked the editorial team of US-based Pan African Visions for the constant support and guidance pledging his continual dedication to the media organ which has time again maintained its position of media powerhouse in the continent.
Boris who is also an Alumni for the Merck Foundation will benefit from a one-year master’s training program all geared at sharpening his skillset and further preparing him for greater ventures.
“Special thanks to The Merck Foundation and Founder Dr Rasha Kelej.
Gratitude goes to Pan African Visions team, my Managing Editor and Mentor Ajong Mbapndah, Amos Fofung, Ojong Steven, Ajongakou Santos, Doh Bertrand, Ticha Melanie and others,” he wrote.
Ismael Sallieu Koroma who also freelances’ with Concord Times Many went deep in his appreciation saying “many thanks to my forever boss Ajong Mbapndah Editor in Chief Pan African Visions online for sharing me the opportunity to apply for the award. You’re truly a father, big brother and boss. Even though I haven’t met you in person, you’ve continued to show me love, encouragement and mentorship in just few years we have met through LinkedIn. You have always believed in me and always tells me to put up hard work in my work. I’m forever grateful,” he wrote.
Speaking with this reporter, the Managing Editor of Pan African Visions, Ajong Mbapndah L said he was very happy for the recognition awarded to his staff. He noted that over the years PAV has groomed a good number of prolific reporters across the continent with the recent awards further proving the level of professionalism and excellence the media house is known for. He lauded the terrific work that the Merck Foundation and Dr Rasha Kelej have done over the years on health care and gender empowerment across Africa.
Coming at a time when most media houses are facing serious challenges because of COVID 19, Ajong Mbapndah lauded the foresight of Rasha Kelej and the Merck Foundation in recognizing the significant but often ignored role that the media has played in fighting the pandemic and championing a myriad of development courses across the continent. The PAV Managing Editor urged other stakeholders and key actors to emulate the example of the Merck Foundation in building partnerships with the press to foster development in the continent.
Other winners of the Merck award include Faith Mzungu-Vilakati – Daily News, from Eswatini, Andrew Mambondiyani – The African Argument from Zimbabwe, Adolf Kaure – Namibia Media Holdings from Namibia, Henry Sinyangwe – Zambia Daily Mail from Zambia among others.
Bank technologies for African agricultural transformation training in Ghana is raising farmer agricultural ambition
October 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
When Isaac Papanko started farming maize on eight hectares of farmland, he couldn’t have imagined that within just a few years, his agribusiness would grow to be 425 hectares – northern Ghana’s largest continuous plot of commercial farmland owned by an indigenous farmer.
“We will soon be counting money in dollars that will blow the minds of Ghanaians,” Papanko said, referring to what he calls ‘youth’ working in Ghana’s agro-industries.
Papanko, the 39-year old CEO of Idan Agro Ventures, says the training he received in the African Development Bank-supported Savannah Zone Agricultural Productivity Improvement Project, or SAPIP, was key to his success.
Papanko and more than 75 other farmers in Ghana’s northern savannah ecological zone enrolled in the government-administered SAPIP program, which provides land development support, financing for inputs like seeds and fertilizer, and mechanization, including harvesting and processing equipment as well as other services. As part of the larger Bank Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation – Savannahs (TAAT-S) initiative, Papanko also had access higher-tech farming methods and expanded his agricultural ambition past maize to include soybean production.
Since 2017, SAPIP has been targeting three agribusiness zones across several districts in the country’s north, with a focus on building sustainable agricultural food value chains, ensuring food and nutrition security, and improving economic wealth through increased agricultural productivity and diversification.
“The transfer of agriculture technologies like higher-producing seeds, conservation agriculture and climate-smart agriculture are improving farmer incomes and making better use of land that has proven able to grow more food,” said Martin Fregene, Director for Agriculture and Agro-Industry at the Bank. ”As a result, there are more jobs for local communities – not just working the farm, but in the processing, transportation, retail – all along the value chain.”
Co-financed by the African Development Fund ($39 million) and the government of Ghana ($9.1 million), SAPIP transformed more than 290 hectares of savannah covered with grasses, fire-resistant trees and shrubs, into more commercially viable, no-till agricultural land for farming soybean, maize and rice.
SAPIP was designed to align with Ghana’s Shared Growth and Development Agenda, is guided by Ghana’s Food and Agriculture Sector Development Policy, and supports numerous other government initiatives.
“SAPIP has directly targeted or reached tens of thousands of people in this region alone,” says Philip Boahen, the Bank’s Chief Agriculture Policy Economist who has been with SAPIP since its inception. “Seeing farmers like Isaac Papanko grow their agribusiness in real time – and with real success – it is a true motivation to see the SAPIP and larger TAAT-S model replicated in other African countries.”
Zimbabwe’s energy ministry plans to intensify citizen awareness on energy management for a virtual power station
October 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Energy and Power Development is planning to conduct training and awareness activities for citizens on energy management in a bid to double the improvement in energy efficiency by 2030 as part of government’s commitment and obligations on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SGD 7).
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Energy and Power Development at a national multi-stakeholder inception meeting on energy efficiency policy development, Deputy minister in the same ministry, M.Mudyiwa said that the exercise is part of an overall national energy policy initiative that seeks to create an enabling environment for making clean and affordable energy accessible to all citizens in an Upper Middle Income Economy by 2030.
It is also reported that in line with the country’s long term vision of achieving universal energy access to all by 2030, the process of developing a national energy efficiency policy has started with support from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
In Zimbabwe, it is reported that the power demand is approximately 1470MW.The demand is met through local power generation and imports from neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Mozambique.
It is added that even though the country has a total installed generation capacity of around 2300MW, the achievable capacity is about 1100MW and is complemented by imports which range from 150MW to 400MW.
“It is only on dire situations that we resort to load shedding to manage the electricity supply demand mismatch. Infact, this is one of the reasons why energy efficiency is critical that we use our resources prudently,” the Deputy Minister said.
According to the Deputy Minister, it is reported that previous studies on the status of energy efficiency in the country by various consultants have shown that the country uses old equipment in the residential sector, in industry as well as the mining sector resulting in low energy efficiency levels. The studies have also shown that energy efficiency awareness by local citizens was lacking.
This is reported to lead to unnecessary energy losses. The energy ministry has emphasized the need for demand side management and energy efficiency measures to be put in place in order to save energy, reducing imports and saving foreign currency.
It is also reported that inefficient use of energy is still prevalent in many households and institutions and the markets are flooded with inefficient products. It is also added that the country’s energy intensity is still high as compared to international and regional benchmarks.
The ministry has also said that it is cheaper to create a virtual power station through energy efficiency initiatives than building a new power plant.
In 2017 and 2018, the ministry of energy through the Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority (ZERA) trained more than 100 engineers and technicians from industry on energy management and energy auditing. Some of the trained personnel are now certified energy managers.
Uganda: Sharp Decline in Cases of Typhoid Fever, Diarrhoea, in Capital, Thanks to Sanitation Project
October 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Approximately 240 public sanitation facilities with hand-washing points have been built, as well as family facilities for landlords and tenants.|
For several years now, typhoid fever and diarrhoea cases have fallen significantly in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, especially in the major district of Kawempe, according to an African Development Bank report published on 7 October.
Kawempe is an administrative subdivision that has developed rapidly, but water and sanitation infrastructure has not kept pace in this area dominated by swampy lowlands.
The Kawempe Urban Poor Sanitation Improvement Project (KUPSIP) (https://bit.ly/3o06vmN), benefiting from $1.3 million in African Development Bank funding and implemented from 2013 to 2018, has helped to reduce typhoid fever cases by 7.7% and diarrhoea cases by 49.3%.
“The project was highly successful in getting its message about improved sanitation out to the wider Kawempe community. This is reflected in the estimated number of people reached as a result of the campaign and also, more promisingly, in the recorded positive health outcomes,” the Bank’sproject completion report says.
Implementation of KUPSIP has enabled the development and installation of sanitation facilities in the main public places of Kawempe, particularly near markets and in school grounds. Extensive communication campaigns have been conducted in local media.
Approximately 240 public sanitation facilities with hand-washing points have been built, as well as family facilities for landlords and tenants.
Key achievements include the construction of sanitation facilities in five schools in addition to two hand-washing points, benefiting 2,523 pupils.
The project also included the construction of five communal four-cubicle latrines in public places, managed by local user committees. Each committee has recruited an attendant/cleaner and set a fee of $0.50 to use the toilets and $0.13 to use the washroom, which serves around 2,500 people.
No fewer than 25 sanitation & hygiene clubs have been created in schools to reach out to pupils on the subject of improved sanitation, using an approach combining distribution of information, education and communication materials with cleaning materials (wheelbarrows, handwashing cans, brooms, brushes, gloves, rakes and bins). Approximately 100,000 people have been reached through the hygiene & sanitation improvement messaging.
The KUPSIP project has acquired three trucks for the maintenance and emptying of both existing and newly-built sanitation facilities. Each truck carries out about 50 trips per month, the price for cesspool emptying being set at $36.
Overall, the project has helped to increase job opportunities: 76 direct jobs were created for cesspool emptying lorry drivers, bricklayers, latrine attendants and additional staff recruited to administer the loan programme.
“The Executing Agency estimated that the project reached over 165,000 people over the three years, through the different pathways of the project and this number continues to grow,” the report concludes.
Exclusive: World’s first long-range wireless transmission project to be presented at Africa Energy Forum
October 19, 2020 | 1 Comments
The Africa Energy Forum will host a special presentation on 21st October at 9am (UK time) by EMROD CEO and Founder Greg Kushnir, demonstrating the world’s first ever long-range wireless transmission project, currently operating in New Zealand.
EMROD has developed the world’s first commercially viable long-range, high-power, wireless power transmission as an alternative to existing copper line technology.
Emrod’s technology works by utilising electromagnetic waves to safely and efficiently transmit energy wirelessly over vast distances.
“Being able to transmit high-power electricity without any cables is game-changing for the continent. It means barriers to energy-access are smashed and Africa could be fully electrified within ten years. This is the technology millions of people have been waiting for.” Simon Gosling, Managing Director, EnergyNet
The company was founded by serial tech entrepreneur Greg Kushnir, who was determined to find a technology that can reduce power distribution costs, avoid outages and support renewable energy.
“We have an abundance of clean hydro, solar, and wind energy available around the world but there are costly challenges that come with delivering that energy using traditional methods, for example, offshore wind farms or the Cook Strait here in New Zealand requiring underwater cables which are expensive to install and maintain,” said Mr Kushnir.
“I wanted to come up with a solution to move all that clean energy around from where it’s abundant to where it’s needed in a cost-effective, eco-friendly way.”
Energy generation and storage methods have progressed tremendously over the last century but energy transmission has remained virtually unchanged since Edison, Siemens, and Westinghouse first introduced electric networks based on copper wires 150 years ago.”
By significantly reducing infrastructure costs, Emrod’s technology has the capacity to support remote communities such as in Africa and the Pacific Islands by providing access to cheap, sustainable energy to power schools, hospitals and economies.
“The data is compelling. We are talking about a potential 50 per cent increase in sustainable energy uptake, up to 85 per cent reduction in outages and up to 65 per cent reduction in electricity infrastructure costs due to the Emrod solution,” said Kushnir.
“Since announcing Emrod’s technology we have had a high level of interest from energy distribution and engineering companies from across the globe. We are progressing with some exciting opportunities to improve energy access for remote communities in areas such as India, Africa and Island Nations”, added Kushnir.
The company has achieved strong interest from electricity distributors with Powerco, New Zealand’s second-largest distributor deciding to invest in a proof of concept of the technology currently operational.
Kushnir commented; “The system we are currently building for Powerco will transmit a few kilowatts but we can use the exact same technology to transmit 100 times more power over much longer distances. Wireless systems using Emrod technology can transmit any amount of power current wired solutions transmit.”
More information about this session:
Event name: Africa Energy Forum 2020 (online)
Event dates: 20th October – 13th November 2020
Session date & time: 21st October, 09:00 (UK time/GMT)
African Heads of State call on world leaders to increase investment in International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to end rural hunger and poverty
October 19, 2020 | 1 Comments
IFAD aims to deliver an overall programme of work of US$10 billion for the IFAD12 period (2022–2024), with over half of investments allocated to Africa.
ROME, Italy, October 19, 2020/ — Ten African Heads of State have issued a strong call to other world leaders to increase their funding to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) or risk jeopardizing Sustainable Development Goal targets for eradicating poverty and hunger, particularly in Africa.
“We share IFAD’s vision of vibrant rural communities where people live free from poverty and hunger,” wrote the leaders of of Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Kenya, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo in letters to their counterparts in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Oceania.
“Investing in building the resilience of rural people is now more important than ever in order to secure food supplies, safeguard rural livelihoods, ensure that progress made over the years is not lost and prevent more rural people from falling into poverty and hunger”.
Right now, Africa is addressing conflict, changing weather patterns, pests and the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19. Hunger levels on the continent are twice the world average.
IFAD is the only multilateral development organization soley dedicated to eradicating rural poverty and hunger. In the letters, the African leaders called for a significant increase in contributions to IFAD’s Twelfth Replenishment (IFAD12) – a year-long consultative process during which Member States come together to agree on strategic directions and mobilize funds for IFAD to provide as concessional loans and grants to developing countries.
“This support from the African Heads of State is a testimony to the real impact IFAD is having on the lives and livelihoods of rural people in these countries,” said Marie Haga, IFAD’s Associate Vice President for External Relations and Governance. “Their support demonstrates the importance of investing in rural areas to achieve national food security, environmental sustainability and economic development which has a monumental impact on global stability and resilience.”
About 75 per cent of the world’s poorest people live in rural areas and depend on agriculture and related activities for their livelihoods. In the letters, the African leaders highlight the immense potential of African agriculture and the strong evidence that investing in agriculture is one of the most effective ways of reducing poverty.
IFAD aims to deliver an overall programme of work of US$10 billion for the IFAD12 period (2022–2024), with over half of investments allocated to Africa. This would help more than 140 million small-scale producers increase their production and raise their incomes through better market access and resilience, contributing to creating jobs and improving food security and nutrition for those most at risk of being left behind.
“A successful replenishment has the potential to unlock billions of dollars in financing to transform rural economies and food systems around the world, as well as enable IFAD to double its impact by 2030 and contribute to ending poverty and hunger,” wrote the leaders.
As the pandemic sweeps across the world, the poor and the vulnerable are those who suffer most, among them rural women, young people and small-scale farmers. Faced with the socio-economic repercussions of the pandemic and the impact of prolonged drought and locust infestation, the African leaders called to collectively reaffirm the world’s commitment to end hunger.
IFAD invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$22.4 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached an estimated 512 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency based in Rome – the United Nations food and agriculture hub.
*SOURCE International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
Mozambique can realize full benefits of Natural Gas Production
October 19, 2020 | 1 Comments
By Florival Mucave
Last month, African Energy Chamber CEO and Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk made a case for Mozambique developing its natural gas resources to build its economy.
For far too long, descriptions of Mozambique have contained some variation of the following: Mozambique one of the poorest Least Developed Countries in the world faces endemic droughts, floods and widespread poverty.
But we’re closer than ever now to changing that narrative, to being able to say: By strategically managing its vast natural gas resources, monetizing them, and harnessing them to industrialize the country and develop the private sector across the country, Mozambique is ushering in a new era of widespread economic growth and stability.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees with this vision. A number of environmental organizations argue that the benefits of natural gas production in Mozambique are negligible and not worth the environmental costs.
Last month, African Energy Chamber CEO and Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk made a case for Mozambique developing its natural gas resources to build its economy. He criticized some environmental groups—UK-based Friends of the Earth in particular — for attempting to interfere with the UK government’s $1 billion funding commitment to Total’s Mozambique Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Project. (Export credit agency UK Export Finance, had agreed to contribute funding because of the project’s potential to transform Mozambique’s budget and create jobs in the UK.)
Shortly after Mr. Ayuk released his piece, journalist Ilham Rawoot, who works for Friends of the Earth Mozambique (Justica Ambiental) and is the coordinator of the organization’s No to Gas! campaign, responded with an equally passionate opinion piece opposing his stance. She took issue with Mr. Ayuk’s commentary on environmentalists’ interference and his views on the LNG potential benefits, and she asserted that Mozambique would be better off without natural gas production or LNG projects.
I respect Ms. Rawoot’s right to express her views on African or any other matters.
I only wish that she, and others who are intent on saying “no to gas” in Mozambique, could start by making a thorough analyses on the pros and cons of Mozambique developing its vast natural gas reserves. The spillover and multiplying effects in terms of socio-economic development, from training and capacity building, employment, Government revenue, industrialization through domestic gas utilization and energy security. Natural gas production truly represents an opportunity for Mozambicans, and there are solid reasons to believe that Mozambique can take the steps necessary to reap significant benefits from the three LNG projects currently being developed here: the Total LNG project, valued at $23 billion; the ExxonMobil-led Rovuma project valued at $23.9 billion; and the $4.7 billion Coral Floating LNG project. But not only that, I’ve witnessed the positive impact of natural gas industries in other jurisdictions, from Trinidad and Tobago, Qatar, Nigeria, Australia, Norway and the United States of America. These are some of the reasons I’m confident when I say Mozambicans can shift our country’s trajectory for the better: We can transform our reality from poverty despite our resources to prosperity because of them.
We Need This Opportunity
From my perspective, we should welcome Mozambique’s natural gas industry and LNG projects, more importantly because there is empirical evidence demonstrating that in Mozambique, the tangible benefits resulting from LNG projects, outweigh by far any negative impact . Currently, economic opportunities in Mozambique are at a minimum, and natural gas production has the potential to simultaneously meet multiple pressing needs: job creation, capacity building, economic diversification, access to power and more importantly, poverty alleviation.
In order to have a sustainable economic development, through industrialization, Mozambique needs to increase access to power. The Mozambican Petroleum Law 21/2014, states that” Petroleum resources are assets whose proper exploitation can contribute significantly to national development”. This position is also echoed in the Mozambican Gas Masterplan, which suggests that the Government of Mozambique should develop natural resources in a manner that maximizes benefits to Mozambique’s society, in order to improve the quality of life of the people of Mozambique, while minimizing adverse social and environmental impacts.
So many of our struggles in Mozambique are rooted in our lack of reliable electricity: Only 29% of our population has access to power. In order to tackle the limited access to power by Mozambicans, the Petroleum Law 21/2014, incorporates a clause on domestic gas, according to which, 25 % of the natural gas produced in Mozambique must be used domestically. As a result of domestic gas obligations we are starting to see sizeable new investments in gas to power projects in Mozambique, such as the Ressano Garcia CTRG Project, the Kuvaninga project, the upcoming Temane Regional Electricity Project, which will include a 400-megawatt gas-fired power plant and the planned 250-megawatt electricity plant in the Nacala district that will be fueled by gas from Mozambique’s Rovuma Basin.
Keep the Long Game in Mind
In her opinion piece, Ms. Rawoot states that few of the construction jobs for the Total’s LNG plant have gone to locals, and she’s right. But to be fair, the LNG industry in Mozambique is in its infancy and we don’t yet have the trained labor force capable of participating in the oil & gas industry. As much as we would love to have a 70% majority of Mozambicans building everything, we still need international companies with the necessary skills to get the work done on time and on budget. Training is underway, but the experience and technical know-how are not there yet. However, that doesn’t mean we should kill the projects. We have to push forward, and at the same time, work on building local content laws that promote the inclusive participation of Mozambicans in the oil & gas industry. I hope we’ll see the western environmental community supporting these efforts. They can be a powerful and important voice on the importance of local content that promotes the inclusive and sustainable participation of Mozambicans in the oil & gas projects.
When the Mozambican Oil and Gas Chamber and the African Energy Chamber talk about job creation from LNG projects, we’re not simply referring to construction jobs. We’re also talking about qualified and highly skilled jobs in the plants once they’re operational, jobs with local companies contracted by the plant, and also, jobs created as Mozambique harnesses its natural gas industry to industrialize its economy.
Gas Is Only the Beginning
The tourism industry in Southern Africa was growing exponentially before Covid-19 and will return to growth after the pandemic. Mozambique’s, natural gas can be a catalyzer for the growth of the tourism industry. The Mozambican Government has tourism as one of its economic pillars and although the tourism industry has been severely hurt by cyclones and Covid-19, its great potential remains untapped.
Despite its great potential, Mozambique’s tourism industry will not be able to grow and flourish without reliable power. Even with our pristine beaches, and some of the most beautiful islands in the world, only a few tourists will come if we don’t have reliable power. We want tourists to be able to enjoy our beautiful country, and we want a dynamic tourism sector that contributes to long-term economic growth and job creation. To achieve that, we need reliable power, we need infrastructure. Mozambique can achieve all of that with LNG production and revenue.
The Impact of Natural Gas Production in Mozambique on the Agriculture Industry
In its five year economic plan, the Government of Mozambique indicated agriculture as its top priority. Currently, nearly 80% of our population works in the agricultural sector, and it generates about 25% of our GDP. However, due to low productivity levels, too many of our farmers still live in abject poverty. That can be changed, though. Simply by using fertilizers, farmers can enhance their yield by nearly 40%. While imported fertilizers are too expensive for the majority of our farmers, Mozambique can create a more affordable option. By building infrastructure to transform natural gas into nitrogenous fertilizers, not only would Mozambique help its farmers, but it would also create local job opportunities. Mozambique could reduce significantly its imports of agricultural products from South Africa and become an affordable source of food for domestic consumption.
Natural Gas Monetization Is Doable
I understand why some are skeptical about Mozambique’s ability, and resolve to manage LNG revenues in a way that benefits our population. It’s true: The oil and gas industry hasn’t always been good for Africa’s people. We have seen our share of government rent-seeking and corruption in the African continent. We’ve also seen the impact of resource curse, even pre-resource curse. This is why the Mozambique Oil and Gas Chamber, Mr. Ayuk, the African Energy Chamber and other African Oil and Gas Organizations are working together to change the gloomy narrative of the oil & gas industry in Africa. We are new African voices in the industry, committed to transparency, good governance, economic growth and sustainable development.
I am certain that Mozambique can benefit from the painful lessons some African petroleum-producing countries have learned up to now, from disastrous policies to successful diversification of their economies. We can also learn from positive examples, such as the twin-island of Trinidad and Tobago, which like Mozambique, has sizeable reserves of natural gas. Government initiatives in Trinidad and Tobago led to significant foreign investment into downstream, gas-based projects. And that, in turn, sparked increased activity in the construction, distribution, transport, and manufacturing sectors.
Looking at Emissions in Proportion
Naturally, protecting the environment is a major concern of Ms. Rawoot, Justica Ambiental, and similar organizations — and it’s very important to us.
Global electricity demand is expected to increase by 70% by 2035, gas fired generation almost doubling to facilitate this. It is also expected that the share of natural gas in the global energy mix will be higher than that of coal and oil by 2035.
The projected growth in the energy sector has to take into account the growing concerns regarding climate change. But, combating climate change effectively should not conflict with human progress and poverty alleviation.
With regards to natural gas, its scope in the reduction of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is significant, as natural gas with lower default carbon content of 15.3 Kg/GJ, is a cleaner option compared to coking coal (25.8 Kg/GJ) and crude oil (20 Kg/GJ). Natural gas is indeed an option for delivering industrial emission targets. In other words, natural gas is a bridging fuel by providing a low-carbon energy alternative to other fossil fuel sources.
What about the potential environmental impact of using natural gas to power in Africa?
It has been estimated that if we triple electricity consumption in sub-Saharan Africa, all with natural gas, we would produce the equivalent of 0.62% of annual global emissions — less than the average yearly global increase over the last decade.
In Mozambique, given our natural propensity for cyclones and other natural disasters, protecting our natural habitats and wildlife as well as keep the planet healthy for future generations has long been a priority, and will remain one. However, rather than discarding LNG projects, we should be working together to find a way to develop them in an environmentally responsible manner.
Mozambicans do have a say in the Afungi Relocation Process
In her opinion piece, Ms. Rawoot argues that Total’s LNG plant not only represents an environmental threat, but also one to local people and communities. Total, she writes, took the homes of 556 families for their LNG plant project and failed to compensate them fairly. Those claims are unfounded. This is a matter that was comprehensively discussed between the civil society and the Mozambican Government. Currently, the government is engaged in productive conversations with citizens and businesses on this matter. Furthermore, the oil and gas companies in Mozambique have been very sensitive to issues that impact communities and have encouraged communities to be active in the land acquisition process, a process that includes relocation, compensation, restoration of livelihoods and the creation of a community development fund for resettlement-affected communities. Additionally, through a non-government organization (NGO), legal assistance has been provided to households signing compensation and resettlement agreements.
Let’s Remove a Motivator for Violence
I won’t deny Ms. Rawoot’s point that Mozambique has struggles, including armed conflict and terrorist attacks. Insurgency in Cabo-Delgado is a fact and there is no simple solution to this dilemma. I do however believe that our government in partnership with the civil society and international community will reach a durable peaceful solution, a sine qua non condition for the viable exploitation of natural gas in Cabo-Delgado.
I also agree with journalist Oscar Kimanuka of Rwanda, who recently noted that unemployment in Northern Mozambique may be a key factor for youths to join the extremists.
It seems logical, then, that creating employment opportunities could, at least, make it more difficult for extremist militant groups and terrorists to recruit our young people. Therefore, harnessing our natural gas resources to grow our economy is a sustainable solution.
Mozambicans Deserve Chance to Help Themselves
I understand that Mozambique has its share of complex challenges, and natural gas isn’t a perfect solution. At the same time, it is preposterous for Ms. Rawoot to suggest that Mozambique must jeopardize a projected LNG investment of approximately US$ 55 billion, equivalent to four times the size of the country’s GDP and forgo Government revenues over the next 25 years that are estimated to increase by US$ 4-5 billion per annum.
Mozambique cannot afford to continue being a country where our Government budget depends on international donor’s good will. We want Mozambicans to have the dignity of work and of building an inclusive and respectable nation. Harnessing natural gas to address poverty alleviation is a suitable solution.
*SOURCE African Energy Chamber.Florival Mucave is Executive Chairman, Mozambique Oil and Gas Chamber
WHO opens investigation into ‘Sex for Aid’ allegations against its workers in DR Congo
October 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
After some 50 women step ahead and accused aid workers from the World Health Organization, WHO for demanding sex in exchange for jobs and aids, the health governing body has set up an independent investigation body to investigate the matter.
The WHO said on last week that it was setting up a seven-person independent commission to investigate claims of sexual exploitation and abuse by aid workers during the recent Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
Sex for aid made headlines some weeks ago after an investigation published last month by the Thomson Reuters Foundation and The New Humanitarian reported more than 50 women accusing aid workers from the WHO and leading charities for demanding sex in exchange for jobs during the 2018-2020 crisis.
Over seven organizations were named by the women who accused their workers of rights violations including WHO, UNICEF ALIMA, Oxfam, the UN’s IOM migration agency, and Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) among others.
Five out of seven of the organizations named in the expose have pledged to investigate, as has DRC’s health ministry.
Leading the WHO inquiry will be Aichatou Mindaoudou, Niger’s former minister of foreign affairs and social development, and Julienne Lusenge, a Congolese human rights activist, the UN agency said in a statement.
When news of the scandal went public, WHO spokeswoman Fadéla Chaib said “We would not tolerate such behaviour by any of our staff, contractors, or partners,” reiterating the agency’s “zero tolerance” policy.
TNH had reported that a 70-page draft review – circulated to aid officials working in Congo– looks at everything from corruption within the Ebola response to how women and girls are subjected to sexual exploitation. It also details how donor funds are siphoned off and how aid recipients ultimately lose out.
ICC delegation in Sudan to discuss prosecution of Omar al-Bashir and others for alleged war crimes
October 19, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
A delegation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is in Sudan to discuss the prosecution process of former President Omar Hassan Ahmad al-Bashir wanted for his alleged involvement in genocidal activities, war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The delegation led by chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda will be in Sudan until October 21, 2020 to discuss “co-operation” in the case after the current Sudanese government agreed that he stands trial in the Hague.
Recalled that former President Bashir, was outset in 2019 after mass protests. A transitional government is currently ruling Sudan under a three-year deal with top civilian and military leaders.
The ICC has also charged two other former officials, Ahmed Haroun and Abdelrahim Mohamed Hussein, with war crimes and crimes against humanity, allegedly committed in the region.
The former leader has already been convicted for corruption. He and 27 other officials are currently on trial in Khartoum over charges relating to the 1989 coup that brought him to power. If found guilty, they could all face the death penalty. He also faces charges for his role in the Darfur 2003 revolt which according to the United Nations claimed the lives of about 300,000 people.
Bashir has denied the charges against him. Earlier this year one of his lawyers said Bashir and other defendants were facing “a political trial” being held “in a hostile environment”.
Bashir, 76, served as the seventh President of Sudan from 1989 to 2019, when he was deposed in a coup d’état, the same tactics he used to first come to power.