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«About a Boy » the big winner at 2021 Nollywoodweek Film Festival
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

For the first time in its 8-year history, Nollywoodweek streamed all the films exclusively online

“About a Boy”, a story about the psychological games played between a writer and his muse by first-time director Diji Aderogba received the highest honor at the 2021 Nollywoodweek film festival, the Audience appreciation award known as the Prix du Public.

The announcement of the winning film marked the culmination of the 2021 edition of the Festival, where 15 feature-length and 18 short films — from Africa and the African Diaspora — were showcased to a global audience. For the first time in its 8-year history, Nollywoodweek streamed all the films exclusively online.

Festival Director Nadira Shakur said “We were delighted to see that the global audience showed up to support and celebrate Nigerian talent and ingenuity in film-making. This year we showcased films from the rest of the continent and the Diaspora and saw a genuine interest in and appreciation for incredible stories such as “About a Boy” as evidenced by the Prix du Public.”

The film’s director Diji Aderogba said “I’m grateful to God. I’m so happy for Adio and Funmi, my producers. They put in a lot of hard work. Being a part of this film festival and winning the Audience Award is just amazing!”

Director Diji Aderogba will receive use of a range of top-of-the-line lenses from the Angénieux brand with which to shoot their next film. Previous winners include international Nollywood favorites such as The Wedding PartyIsoken and King of Boys.


Scene from About A Boy


In addition to film screenings, the 4-day film festival offered audiences Q&A sessions after each film, panel discussions on screenwriting, funding within the African animation sector and distributing African content.

Nadira Shakur added “the opportunities for audiences to interact with filmmakers and stars has always been an essential part of our festival and it was important that we maintained this aspect via our networking hub in this year’s online edition. We would like to thank the audience and our partners for accompanying us on this amazing journey! We look forward to connecting with everyone again next year.”

*SOURCE NollywoodWeek Paris Film Festival

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Finance in Common Summit Spring Meeting: public development banks call for new financing for Africa’s recovery post-Covid-19
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

Participants in the meeting, hosted by the African Development Bank, brainstormed on joint actions that could help boost a strong and inclusive recovery in Africa

A global coalition of public development banks today emphasized the urgency of immediate resources for Africa’s recovery post-Covid 19. Together, they committed to deepening cooperation to boost investment opportunities across the continent.

Participants in the meeting, hosted by the African Development Bank, brainstormed on joint actions that could help boost a strong and inclusive recovery in Africa. This would be recovery grounded in a dynamic private sector. The African Association of Development Finance Institutions co-organized the meeting in collaboration with the International Development Finance Club, which is hosted by the Agence Française de Développement.

The meeting was held virtually and follows the first Finance in Common Summit held in November 2020. At that summit, public development banks committed to work together to support the transformation of the global economy and society towards sustainable and resilient development.

During the three principal sessions of the meeting, heads of public development banks and international partners focused on concrete proposals and innovative financial solutions to unlock the potential of African financial institutions to promote sustainable development investments in Africa.

“The African Development Bank is strongly supportive of public development banks,” African Development Bank president Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said in opening remarks.

He added: “As public development banks, we must deepen our ability to reach all parts of Africa. To ensure financial inclusion, especially for the unbanked, and expand access to finance, savings and insurance products and services, we need to work as one unified system. Public development banks must strengthen their capacity to deepen domestic capital markets and stock exchanges. He said this would hasten access to financing and unlock new opportunities.”

Rémy Rioux, chairperson of the International Development Finance Club, said: “African challenges, more than anywhere else, require us all to go seek coordinated responses and actions. Because in Africa, we need to leave no one behind. Let’s Finance in Common and build now a common and positive story of innovation and investment in Africa, leveraging ODA and mobilizing all willing stakeholders. The days of pure aid are over. Africa is ready for sustainable investment.”

Public development banks have a key role to play in Africa. From the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, institutions like the African Development Bank have channeled resources to various sectors and clients, particularly underserved areas like health, social investments, housing, agriculture and climate.

The African Development Bank’s $10 billion Covid-19 Response Facility has been instrumental in mitigating macroeconomic shocks for African countries. The Bank also announced a $3 billion social bond to support its Covid-19 funding efforts.

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an unprecedented global health and economic crisis, affecting African economies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa, most deeply.  A historic recession of 2.1%, the largest contraction for the sub-Saharan region in more than half a century, is threatening gains made over the last decade and attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The pandemic has negatively impacted the debt situation for African countries. Without a resolution of Africa’s $700 billion external debt, the continent’s economic recovery will be delayed and financial market stability will be affected in the short and medium term.

“Think of the impact that this debt is having: in 2019, Africa paid $221 billion for debt service, which is 44% of the total government revenue of $501 billion in the same year,” said Dr. Adesina.

Discussions covered measures that could be taken to strengthen the balance sheet of African public development banks and provide financing and additional tools to support the private sector in Africa. Participants also discussed challenges faced by African public development banks.

The African Development Bank president will convey the outcomes of the Spring Meeting to a May 18 Summit on Financing African Economies in Paris. That summit is being convened by French President Emmanuel Macron. It is expected that there will be further pledges and announcements of financial and technical assistance to support the commitments made by the African public development banks.

African public development banks, in a  joint declaration , called for the heads of state and international organizations to support our role in the African financial system and provide us with the necessary means and incentives: a clearer mandate for climate and SDGs, additional capacity building, greater access to concessional resources as well as reinforcement of our capital bases, taking advantage of the expected SDRs issuance by the International Monetary Fund (IMF)”.

The following public development banks and partners participated in the panel discussions:

Association of African Development Finance Institutions (AADFI), Association of European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI), African Development Bank, African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), European Commission (EC), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), European Investment Bank (EIB), Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), International Development Finance Club (IDFC), KfW Development Bank, Trade and Development Bank Group (TDB), and West African Development Bank (BOAD).

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New report on COVID-19 in Africa shows impact of COVID-19 on African continent has been underestimated
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

Urgent, strategic action needed in light of limited vaccine and mounting threat of new variants

As the world battles new COVID-19 variants and supply and rollout of vaccines remains critically low in Africa, new research from the Partnership for Evidence-Based Response to COVID-19 (PERC) indicates that burdens experienced by people in African Union Member States remain grave: 81% of survey respondents reported challenges in accessing food, 77% reported experiencing income loss and 42% reported missing medical visits since the start of the pandemic. The report calls for targeted public health measures for high-risk populations, increased surveillance in light of new variants, and scaled-up vaccine supply from the global community to control the pandemic in Africa.

“As case counts surge across the world, new variants emerge and vaccine rollout remains slow, it will be crucial for African Union Member States to use evidence-based strategies to manage COVID-19,” said Dr. John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. “The PERC report provides valuable insights to countries to strategically tailor their ongoing responses.”

Limitations in testing capacity and surveillance—as well as uneven demand for testing—are likely masking the true severity of COVID-19 on the African continent, fueling the dangerous myth that much of Africa has been unscathed by COVID-19. Test positivity rates were above 10% across many Member States during the second wave—substantially higher than the 5% maximum warning level suggested by the World Health Organization and suggesting that many cases have gone undetected. 

Vaccine acceptance was high among survey respondents—67% of people said they would get the vaccine when it’s available—with several important caveats.  Acceptance varied widely among countries, from 91% in Morocco to 35% in Tunisia and Cameroon. At the time of the survey, most respondents did not yet have access to vaccines or much information about specific vaccines rolling out in the region. In fact, among those who expressed hesitancy about vaccination, lack of information was a leading reason. 

“Vaccine hesitancy is driven by high levels of disinformation, misinformation, and lack of information, which erodes trust in the safety and efficacy of vaccines,” said Dr. Richard Mihigo, Program Coordinator, Immunization and Vaccine Development,  WHO’s Regional Office for Africa. “Going forward, we must prioritize sustained and targeted campaigns which address the growing infodemic around vaccines while providing evidence-based information to dispel myths and build confidence in vaccines. Communication and engagement is key to building trust and creating a positive discourse around vaccines from the ground up.” 

Nearly nine in 10 respondents reported using masks when near others in February 2021—almost identical to findings six months before. However, in some of the populous and hard-hit countries, such as South Africa and Ethiopia, self-reported mask use trended downward in February, suggesting the need to redouble efforts to promote this low-cost and effective intervention in some areas. Overall, self-reported adherence to measures restricting social gathering and movement declined significantly between August 2020 and February 2021. 

Given the delayed rollout of vaccines and the threat posed by new variants, all AU Member States will need to scale up effective testing strategies to detect early indications of potential surges and sustain the strategic use of public health measures to prevent subsequent waves while ensuring social protection. The researchers conclude that clear, transparent communications from leaders and public health officials will be vital in building trust and influencing people to follow any further measures; respondents who expressed high satisfaction with their government, community leaders or Ministry of Health were more likely to report adherence to public health measures than those who expressed dissatisfaction. 

“Countries are most effective controlling the pandemic when they consider what measures people will actually follow at this stage in the pandemic and take steps to inform, partner with, and support communities,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, President and CEO of Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of Vital Strategies. “Analysis of PERC data can help governments predict adherence to preventive measures, craft effective communications and mount a stronger response to COVID-19.”

The PERC survey—the third in its “Using Data to Find a Balance” series— was fielded in February, when Africa was emerging from a second, substantially larger wave of COVID-19. PERC polled more than 24,000 adults across 19 African Union (AU) Member States, compiled social, economic and epidemiological data from a range of sources and compared results from the previous survey conducted in August 2020. 

Other key findings in the report include:


Three primary factors influenced people’s adherence to PHSMs: belief that such measures are necessary, perception of personal risk and satisfaction with the government’s handling of COVID-19.

  • Little more than half (53%) of respondents supported measures restricting social gathering, such as limits on visiting places of worship, public gatherings and entertainment venues, compared to 65% in August; 54% supported measures restricting movement (stay-at-home orders, reducing trips to the market or store), down from 64% in August.
  • Fear of contracting COVID-19 continued to be the most common reason for missing care in the previous six months (26%). 51% of respondents believed that health care workers should be avoided because they might transmit COVID-19.
  • Affordability of care was a further barrier for missing care (20%), likely related to secondary burdens such as income loss.
  • Income loss and food insecurity have worsened since the beginning of the pandemic. Food insecurity is a grave concern, with 81% of respondents reporting issues in accessing food, and 48% reported having to reduce the number or size of meals in the past week.
  • Households in lower income groups are the most affected and least reached by social protection programs (where such programs exist at all).

Recommendations include that governments and the global community invest in:

  • Increasing capacity to detect, test, sequence and trace cases and new COVID-19 variants;
  • Prioritizing targeted, individual PHSMs to high-risk areas to maximize adherence for the long run and minimize secondary burdens;
  • Using an evidence-based approach to identify and offer relief to high-risk populations; 
  • Protecting health care workers via adequate personal protective equipment, fair compensation, paid sick leave and access to mental health care;
  • Prioritizing vaccination of health care workers and strategically communicating to the public to reduce stigma against them and to reinforce that seeking health care is safe;
  • Maintaining and strengthening vaccination information campaigns to bolster confidence, and supporting regional efforts to combat misinformation and build trust, in preparation for when vaccines become more available; and
  • Stepping up action from the global community to increase vaccine production, ensure equitable allocation and share technological expertise to facilitate local vaccine manufacturing with Member States.

To read the full report, please visit click here

 About Resolve to Save Lives

Resolve to Save Lives, an initiative of the global health organization Vital Strategies, focuses on preventing deaths from cardiovascular disease and by preventing epidemics. It is led by Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

About Vital Strategies

Vital Strategies is a global health organization that believes every person should be protected by a strong public health system. We work with governments and civil society in 73 countries to design and implement evidence-based strategies that tackle their most pressing public health problems. Our goal is to see governments adopt promising interventions at scale as rapidly as possible.

About NASEM

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) are private, nonprofit institutions that provide expert advice on some of the most pressing challenges facing the nation and the world. Our work helps shape sound policies, inform public opinion, and advance the pursuit of science, engineering, and medicine. The National Academies do not receive direct appropriations from the federal government, although many of their activities are mandated and funded by Congress and federal agencies. NASEM also works with Foundations, state governments, the private sector, and philanthropy from individuals to enable them to address critical issues on behalf of the nation. 

About the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team

The UK-PHRST is funded by UK aid from the Department of Health and Social Care and is a partnership between the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Public Health England (PHE).. Through the UK Public Health Rapid Support Team (UK-PHRST), the UK has the capacity to respond rapidly to disease outbreaks in low- and middle-income countries around the world and conduct operational research into epidemic preparedness, playing an important role in global health security. The team also works to help countries to build their own capacity for an improved and rapid national response to outbreaks.

About Ipsos

Ipsos is the third largest market research company in the world, present in 90 markets and employing more than 18,000 people. Our passionately curious research professionals, analysts and scientists have built unique multi-specialist capabilities that provide true understanding and powerful insights into the actions, opinions and motivations of citizens, consumers, patients, customers or employees. Our 75 business solutions are based on primary data coming from our surveys, social media monitoring, and qualitative or observational techniques. “Game Changers”—our tagline—summarises our ambition to help our 5,000 clients navigate with confidence our world of rapid change. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos is listed on the Euronext Paris since 1 July 1999. The company is part of the SBF 120 and the Mid-60 index and is eligible for the Deferred Settlement Service (SRD).

About Novetta

Novetta delivers scalable advanced analytic and technical solutions to address challenges of national and global significance. Focused on mission success, Novetta pioneers disruptive technologies in machine learning, data analytics, full-spectrum cyber, open source analytics, cloud engineering, DevSecOps, and multi-INT analytics for Defense, Intelligence Community, and Federal Law Enforcement customers. Novetta is headquartered in McLean, VA with over 1,300 employees across the U.S.

About the World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum is the International Organization for Public-Private Cooperation. In response to the COVID-19 emergency, the World Economic Forum, acting as partner to the World Health Organization (WHO), launched the COVID Action Platform. The platform is intended to catalyse private-sector support for the global public health response to COVID-19, and to do so at the scale and speed required to protect lives and livelihoods, aiming to find ways to help end the global emergency as soon as possible.

About the Word Health Organization

WHO is working with UNICEF, Gavi and partners to support all aspects of COVID-19 immunization in Africa, including capacity assessments, planning, advising on delivery strategies, regulatory mechanisms, ensuring adequate cold chain, training and supervision, data monitoring and surveillance, and communication including raising public awareness and promoting demand for vaccination. The WHO-founded Africa Infodemic Response Alliance (AIRA), a joint platform of 12 partner organisations is working to counter misinformation and disinformation and share science-based facts on health, including vaccines.

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Cameroon: Is Hon. Joshua Osih’s Stay at SDF Coming to an End?
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Joshua Osih was SDF’s Presidential candidate in 2018

In the next couple of weeks, the career of Hon Joshua Osih as a member of the opposition Social Democratic Front (SDF) Party will be decided. His future with the party is up in the air after a case against him was declared “admissible” by the National Executive Council of the party during their last meeting.

The SDF’s NEC meeting on May 8 at the party’s headquarters in Yaounde found complaints against the former presidential candidate admissible. The complaint comes from the Littoral bureau who dissociated itself from all his acts deemed contrary to the party.

Joshua Osih, Vice President and MP for Wouri Centre is accused by the SDF Littoral Bureau of anti-party activities. A charge the Member of Parliament denies. He is said to have left the NEC meeting before its conclusion to catch up with travel plans.

The MP is accused of various wrongdoings such as signing a petition with the ruling CPDM. Joshua Osih signed a petition addressed to the American Parliamentarians on the subject of the expulsion of Cameroonians illegally present in the United States, something Jean Michel Nintcheu and Osih has clashed on.

He is also under suspicion of collusion with the regime in power; the poor management of the 2018 Presidential campaign; his rebellion against the NEC resolutions of March 13 through the organization of a media campaign in defiance of the NEC.

 “We do not use an instrument of parliamentary diplomacy to resolve problems within a party. The ill-intentioned individual wanted to believe that the signature of SDF deputies on a document approved by CPDM deputies was a betrayal. This is not the case… The SDF defends the Republic. I belong to that homeless man. Those who want to make belief the region of Paul Biya to the fatherland are mistaken,” Joshua Osih told Jeune Afrique in an interview.

“If you give it back to me tomorrow, I’ll sign it again. Those who play with people’s lives by fuelling this war for political ends must be stopped. It’s dangerous and smelly,” Joshua Osih added.

Hon. Osih was equally instructed to prepare the report of the last Presidential, Parliamentary and Municipal elections that were managed under his supervision and make them ready for appraisal and discussion in the next NEC meeting.

Apart from the above-mentioned resolutions, the party has called on the Littoral Regional chairman, Hon. Jean Michel Nintcheu to desist from trying to execute the provisions of article 8.2 when his request has been accepted for evaluation.

Hon. Jean Michel Nintcheu and Hon. Joshua Osih has been having a well-documented fight with accusations and counter-accusations. The saga has been playing out in the open with many factions forming between the two well-known SDF politicians.

The National Bureau has equally called on all members to strictly respect the party’s communiqué put out by the Secretary-General with regards to carrying internal debates to the media.

The case has been file with the legal affairs Committee who now have barely three weeks to adjudicate on the matter. The case may see Joshua Osih being given the famous article 8.2 which excludes all militants who go against the text of the party.

Other personalities from the party who have been removed from the party using Article 8.2 includes Mahamat Souleyman, former first VP Pierre Kwemo, Madadi Sadi and Benard Muna. And if Hon Joshua Osih is found guilty he too may likely be removed from the party.

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Rwanda:Why a hospital recorded more neonatal cases
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Ruhengeri hospital

One of the referral hospitals in Rwanda, Ruhengeri hospital has admitted having recorded more unusual neonatal death cases and undertook laboratory analysis processes to assess the cause of the death.

According to the hospital management 19 people died in March 2021, an unprecedented death toll in the history of hospitals in the country.

 “Suspecting the presence of the multi resistant microbe, processes of laboratory analyses have been undertaken and revealed the two types of microbes both sensitive to only a strong antibiotic called vancomycin,” said the hospital management in the statement released on Tuesday.  

  Vancomycin is an antibiotic medication used to treat a number of bacterial infections. It is recommended intravenously as a treatment for complicated skin infections, bloodstream infections, endocarditis, bone and joint infections, and meningitis caused by methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.  

“A set of actions have been taken to reverse the problem, including treatment with vancomycin to all the babies presenting neonatal infection, relocation of all admitted babies in a separate room and application of rigorous infection prevention and control measures in the neonatal care unit,” it added.

One of the local media, The Source Post broke the news earlier reporting that more neonatal cases at Ruhengeri hospital had increased and parents were scared to give birth from the hospital which is the biggest referral hospital.

The hospital is located in Musanze district, in the Northern Province, and serves thousands of patients who seek services either directly or transferred by areas hospitals.

The hospital said that the main causes of premature infant deaths include congenital malformation such as malformed organs which cannot allow a newborn to survive.

Others are prematurity complications including respiratory problems and neonatal infections.

Specifically for the March infant deaths, three infants died from prematurity complications, two died from congenital malformations, while 14 died from neonatal infections.

However, the hospital management has assured Rwandans that to date, the situation is stabilized and the disinfected room had been put to use again. 

“The Management of Ruhengeri hospital presents its utmost condolences to grieved families and is conducting investigations to establish whether there has been any case of gross negligence and assures that those involved will be held accountable,” reads the statement in part.  

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A Myriad of opportunities for Entrepreneurs in Jack Ma Foundation Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Zahra Baitie-Boateng, is Head of Partnerships and Programs with the Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition

Entrepreneurs in Africa have a few more weeks to apply for the 2021 Africa’s Business Heroes competition, the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program that identifies, supports, and inspires African entrepreneurs.

Speaking to Nigeria’s Channels TV, Zahra Baitie-Boateng, the Head of Partnerships and Programs with the Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition, highlighted the many opportunities that the initiative offers, saying that every entrepreneur who successfully submits their application can benefit from the competition even if they do not make it to the finale and win their share of the USD 1.5M prize.

According to her, the application process is designed to encourage candidates to conduct a thorough analysis and review of the fundamentals of their business. When testing the candidates, judges provide insights and guidance on strengthening their businesses and improving their pitches as they advance, said Zahra.

Participants also have the opportunity to access exclusive mentorship and learning, through a number of multi-disciplinary bootcamps and training sessions and connect to a community of like-minded entrepreneurs.

The Top 10 finalists take home grant funds ranging from USD 100,000 to USD 300,000, increase their public exposure by featuring in the Africa’s Business Heroes show, and have the opportunity to pitch to international business legends at the Grand Finale.

“There are many benefits one can gain depending on where you end in competition,” said Zahra Boateng.

She narrated how the competition has changed lives and businesses in the continent, noting that many heroes have used the grants and the publicity they achieved to make tremendous progress. In particular, she mentioned Nigerian Temie Giwa-Tubuson, the founder and CEO of LifeBank. The ABH Grand Prize winner in 2019, Temie has secured further investments and recently expanded her operations in Kenya and helped tackle Covid-19 by delivering medical oxygen and facilitating testing.

“This is just one example. Several other finalists have gone on to expand their footprint geographically and established collaborations among them,” she added.

She further disclosed that over ten years, the program will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and allocate grant funding, training programs, and support for the broader Africa entrepreneur ecosystem.

They will also be launching an Africa’s Business Heroes virtual community in the future.

Applications for the ABH third edition officially launched on March 30, 2021, and it will remain open until June 7, 2021. Candidates from all African countries, all sectors, and all ages can submit their applications in French and English here before 7th June.

The applicants must be of African descent, founders/co-founders of the businesses, and their businesses must be registered and operated in Africa. The business must have revenues and have been in existence for at least three years.

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UK launches media freedom project in Kenya
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

British High Commissioner Jane Marriott. Photo Editor’s Guild

The British High Commission has launched a new programme aimed to support media freedom in Kenya.

Our PROTECT, the new programme, targets the players in the media sector based in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, said the UK High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott.

The programme has four local partners: ARTICLE19, HIVOS, ICNL (International Centre for Not for Profit Law) and INTERNEWS.

Marriott said that it will provide grants to other organizations such as the Mzalendo Trust, which monitors Parliament, the Civil Society Reference Group. It will also issue grants directly to journalists in Mombasa and Kisumu to support the production of data journalism stories.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted by the  Kenya Editors’ Guild Press Club-media freedom in the East African nation, Ms. Marriott said Our PROTECT programme will focus on five areas that are improving the use of data to hold the government to account on service delivery; contributing to an improved policy and legal environment; supporting female journalists to have a safe and secure operating environment; supporting media houses on future business models; and promoting civic education on the crucial role of the media.

She stressed the need for independent and sustainable media with laws, policies and professionals to play a watchdog role on those in power.

“We need investigative journalists who spend days – weeks, months –getting to the real heart of stories. We need a media that holds power in all its forms– Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, business, civil society, individuals, your own bosses – to account. And we need journalists to be safe in their endeavor, working without fear of interference,” she said.

Marriot added that the British government and partners will also train and mentor individual journalists on data journalism.

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Ghana:Gov’t ambushed #FixTheCountry conveners – Social policy advisor
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

A social policy advisor Felix K. Addo, has pointed out that the conveners of the #FixTheCountry movement were ambushed in a meeting that was intended to be between them and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to discuss security issues concerning their planned protest on Sunday, May 9. He said this in an interview on TV3.

Mr. Addo was speaking on the back of the Ex Parte Injunction secured against the protest by the #FixTheCountry movement and the subsequent meeting the conveners were invited to attend between them and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) but turned out to be a meeting between the conveners, the Minister of Defense, the Minister of Interior, the Attorney General, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the Minister of National Security.

He said “that is where we know that heads have started knocking; it means that the little thing that this group did and started has really gotten to the high hierarchy of government leadership. Now she made mention of the inconsistencies in government communication, which over the years we have seen, I mean Ministry of Information is key when it has to do with gathering information from all ministries and agencies to be able to have one mouthpiece of information. But here lies the case that we go into a meeting and I know very well, at least from afar, when you go into such meetings your phones are taken from you.

According to him most especially when it has to do with national security issues like this, your phones are taken from you at the security checkpoint over there. So how come that in one breath, one stakeholder within the meeting said: oh you were in there and you were still giving information to your people outside and probably telling them what we have not even said over here. Then an official mouthpiece of government comes out, signed by an astute journalist we all know and says that, no, their phones were taken from them, where do we go from here?.

“And if indeed the meeting was called by the IGP, it supposed to mean that, I don’t know where the meeting was held though but if it was called by the IGP, I am supposed to know that it was supposed to be held at the Police Headquarters. Where the IGP will superintend the meeting, whatever happens will give a security briefing because they are the first point of call that they wrote the letter to, that we want to go on this demonstration, we need your security. So at what point did the Minister of National Security come in? At what point did the Attorney General come in? At what point did the Minister of Information come in? And other state actors come in. It means that they were in a sort ambushed. He said they are supposed to state categorically how many people are going to be in the meeting, the top hierarchy who is going to be there.

He said, so that they will also build their arsenal, in one way or the other, knowing very well that we are having a legal representation in the meeting, as big as the Attorney General is going to be there, Minister of Interior is going to be there, National Security is going to be there, so that he will be well represented probably by their legal representation over there but when you bring all these people, you take me by surprise. You are the people firing me with all the questions and I say something because you are the ones in the helm of affairs, I’m going to find it very difficult, in one way I’m going to be intimidated.

He went on to say that “so this clearly tells us that the synergy amongst our institutions, our state agencies sometimes there are lapses elsewhere, knowing very well that this is an issue we must be able to identify all the state actors, relay the information to these campaigners, let them know that when you come into meeting, this and this are the ministries that you are going to be meeting. It will be represented by the director or even the deputy minister over there or even the minister himself, then when I’m coming, whatever information I need to satisfy each and every person at the meeting, I will prepare and prepare adequately. I see it that, yes they have state power, incumbency and all that, the campaigners, I will classify that as an ambush to the campaigners”.

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Ghana to become hub of pharmaceutical production in SSA; sales forecast to hit GH¢2.86bn
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

Ghana will become the hub of pharmaceutical production in Sub Saharan Africa on the back of covid-19 vaccines. According to Fitch Solutions, the country continues to work towards its aim of establishing itself as a pharmaceutical hub on the continent. The creation of a pharmaceutical industrial park for pharmaceutical companies to establish large scale operations is therefore a testament

Global vaccine demand has placed countries with local manufacturing capabilities in a stronger position to guarantee access. In this respect Ghana’s local industry is limited, however, on April 19, 2021, the Pharmaceutical Association of Ghana (PMAG) appealed to the government to strengthen local vaccine production.”

The move the research arm of ratings agency, Fitch, said would help guarantee a reliable source of vaccines for the country and the SSA region, adding, the country has also started feasibility studies to manufacture its own vaccine for covid-19 and also to reduce Ghana’s and Africa’s reliance on foreign vaccines in the long-term.

The Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy last September signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a construction firm for the creation of a pharmaceutical industrial park.

Furthermore, President Akufo-Addo in November tasked the Pharmaceutical Society of Ghana to position the country to become the center of generic drugs production across Sub Sahara Africa.

Since Ghana is one of the only two countries in Sub Saharan Africa which produces active pharmaceutical ingredients, Fitch Solutions, believe these initiatives will significantly help to bolster pharmaceutical growth.

To encourage pharmaceutical market growth, the Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy with funding from foreign and development organization, have created a support package of $626,000. The fund will be used to provide grants to pharmaceutical manufacturers, distributors and consulting firms within the pharmaceutical sector.

The objective of the grant is to provide support to companies to address vulnerabilities in the pharmaceutical supply chain, among others. The report said increased localized production will help decrease the pharmaceutical trade deficit in the long-term

Pharmaceutical sales to hit GH¢2.86bn

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical sales is expected to rise to GH¢2.86 billion this year. It is expected to reach GH¢3.96 billion in 2025. “We maintain a positive forecast for Ghana’s pharmaceutical market. Increased local prodction will help to drive Ghana’s domestic pharmaceutical market and we expect growth will mainly be driven by local generics production.”

“Pharmaceutical sales in Ghana reached GH¢2.69 billion (US$462mn) in 2020, and we forecast figures to rise to GH¢2.86 billion (US$468mn) in 2021. Looking further forward to 2025, we expect sales to achieve a compound annual growth rate of 8.0% in local currency (3.3% in dollars) to reach GH¢3.96bn (US$544mn)”.

By the end of its 10-year forecast range, it expect sales to reach GH¢6.55bn (US¢896mn) by 2030.

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Ghana:Debt increase of 137% between 2016 and 2020 lower than previous administrations – Ofori-Atta
May 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

Ghana’s debt increase of 137% between 2016 and 2020 is lower than that of previous administrations, says Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta

Ghana’s debt increase of 137% between 2016 and 2020 is lower than that of previous administrations, Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta has disclosed.

Comparing debt levels of all the past governments, Mr. Ofori-Atta said the rate of increase in debt presently, is lower than that of former President John Kufuor, late former President John Mills and former President John Mahama administrations.

Addressing the media amidst ‘fix the country protest’, the Finance Minister said between 2004 and 2008, Ghana’s debt stock increased by 30%. However, it was high between 2000 and 2004, a period in which the country obtained debt forgiveness from multilateral and bilateral institutions.

Also, between 2008 and 2012, the debt stock increased by 269%, whilst between 2012 and 2016, the increase in the debt stock was 243%.

“Between 2016 and 2020, the increase in Ghana’s debt stock was 137% (This includes the cost of the banking sector clean-up, excess capacity charges and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic)”, Mr. Ofori-Atta said.

“We have financed the construction of seven on going interchanges across the country, including those at Takoradi, Tamale, Tema, Obetsebi Lamptey and Pokuase to ease traffic congestion and enhance productivity.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, he said the rate of growth of the public debt has been lower under this government than under previous administrations.

“The rate of debt growth was lower despite massive investments in our flagship programmes such as free SHS, Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ), NABCO, One District One Factory (1D1F), One Constituency One Ambulance, One Village One Dam (1V1D), restoration of teacher and nursing training allowances amongst others while maintaining relative macroeconomic and exchange rate stability.”

The total public debt had increased from GH¢122 billion (56.9% of GDP) in 2016 to GH¢291.6 billion (76.1% of GDP) at the end of December 2020.

Mr. Ofori-Atta said the debt stock and the debt/GDP ratio at the end of 2020 are as a result of non-recurrent burdens that the nation had to deal with as a matter of urgency.

Ghana’s total public debt stock reached an all-time high of GH¢291.6 billion in December 2020, approximately 76.1% of GDP, the Bank of Ghana said. According to the figures, external debt alone stood at GH¢141.8 billion, approximately US$24.7 billion. This is also equivalent to 37.0% of GDP.

The domestic debt was however slightly higher at GH¢149.8 billion at the end of 2020, about 39.1% of GDP. The financial sector debt also stood at GH¢15.3 billion in December 2020, but GH¢100 million lower, from the September 2020 data. This is however equivalent to 4.0% of GDP.

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African Energy Chamber calls for more US-Africa Energy investments with series about unjustified risk perceptions on Africa
May 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

U.S. companies stand to play a significant role in the road to a lower-carbon future in the continent, and to continue leading some of the most important markets in the energy industry.

Following President Biden’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance signaling for continued growth in partnerships with African economies, at the African Energy Chamber (“AEC”) , we believe it is vital to engage U.S. companies and investors to counter the often-wrong preconceptions about investing in the continent, as Africa has some of the fastest-growing economies globally and possesses significant investment and development opportunities for U.S. firms. U.S. companies stand to play a significant role in the road to a lower-carbon future in the continent, and to continue leading some of the most important markets in the energy industry.

From majors like Chevron, ExxonMobil and Kosmos Energy making significant discoveries and operating in multiple countries like Angola, Mozambique, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Senegal, Ghana, and others, to large companies like General Electric, Halliburton, and hundreds of Houston and Oklahoma based companies, some U.S. companies have successfully developed some of the most important projects in the continent. One of the reasons behind their success is a deep and actual understanding of the risks involved and their mitigating factors, as well as a strong connection to the project country and its people.

“Africa, we believe offers a tremendous opportunity for US companies to invest and make returns that are far superior to market returns in many other investment destinations” said Jude Kearney, Chairman of the US-Africa Committee at the AEC. “We would therefore like to encourage more US companies to look beyond unjustified risk perceptions on Africa and actively pursue opportunities in Africa” Mr Kearney concluded.

In preparation for the upcoming U.S.-Africa Energy Forum organized by Energy, Capital & Power in partnership with the AEC, the AEC is pleased to announce the launch of its series “Changing the Risk Perception About Africa,” comprising of five articles on the following topics:

  • Opportunities in Africa’s natural gas, gas-to-power, rare earth elements (“REEs”) industries, as well as the opening of an M&A market from assets left by IOCs. U.S. firms should take advantage of these opportunities to add lower-carbon projects to their portfolio, to remain at the helm of technological development for energy transition. Large and mid-sized U.S. companies stand to lead Africa’s road to Energy Transition due to its engineering, technology, ingenuity, and ability to create markets. Examples like RWE’s Roscoe wind farm, the largest onshore wind farm in the world installed in Texas, as well as other renewable energy companies as SHYFT Power Solutions, African Renewable Energy Distributor and Juabar, set an example of how the use of that technology and ingenuity can lead the way to a lower-carbon future.
  • Mitigation of political and security risks. While some events in the past decades in Africa, like on other continents have undoubtedly endangered the economic stability of the projects or the physical security of the infrastructure, many African countries have responded by showing resilience, changing policies, practices, and procedures to provide certainty to energy projects. Private companies, including some U.S. companies, have participated jointly with the governments in such efforts, and have become experts in mitigating those risks.   
  • Background and projections dematerializing the perceived finance risk on the continent. Considering the recent history of many African countries, companies and investors should not be afraid of developing projects on the continent, as most projects have reasonable returns, with no issues for private companies to take their fair share of the revenue. The article will also discuss the challenges for securing financing in the past and how investors can align their African investments to the current energy transition drive. 
  • Mitigation of legal risks and misconceptions of corruption in the continent. Unfortunately, very few countries are free from corruption; however, African governments have adopted policies and practices to mitigate these practices. From a legal standpoint, the article will discuss the standardization of agreements and the remedies available for private companies to settle disputes with other companies or the government. 
  • How to mitigate exploration and operational risk in the continent. The article will address the importance of technological developments to reduce these risks in the continent and experiences from industry specialists in managing such risks. Large U.S. operators as ExxonMobil and Kosmos Energy have successfully navigated through such risks in the continent. Its experience can set an example for other U.S. firms to learn how to mitigate such risks.

For the last six decades, every U.S. administration has created programs to provide guarantees, loans, and advice to U.S. companies desiring to enter the continent. Such programs have also provided funding, negotiation advice, and capacity-building for African countries to develop their economies. Some of such initiatives include the African Growth and Opportunity Act passed under the Bush Administration, President Obama’s Doing Business in Africa Campaign, Power Africa, and Trade Africa. Despite his infamous comments against the continent and his administration’s America First foreign policy, even President Trump’s administration launched Prosper Africa to increase U.S. – Africa trade and investment.

Despite these initiatives, trade and investment with sub-Saharan Africa have decreased in the past years. Per the Center for Strategic & International Studies, in 2020, the U.S. did approximately $32.6 billion worth of trade, down from $36.8 billion in 2019, representing less than 1% of all U.S. trade in goods. Particularly U.S. involvement in energy and mineral resources falls short compared to Chinese involvement, making investments in the continent a matter of national security. 

The AEC invites all U.S. companies to participate in the U.S.-Africa Energy Forum and get involved in the wide range of opportunities the continent offers. We believe the forum is an excellent opportunity to address the stereotypes and misconceptions surrounding investments in Africa. 

To learn more about how U.S. firms can advance the agenda of sustainable, long-term investment in the African energy sector, please visit www.EnergyChamber.org or contact Amina Williams at amina.williams@energychamber.org. To sponsor, speak or attend the U.S.-Africa Energy Forum, please contact James Chester at james@energycapitalpower.com.

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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Kenya bans all flights to and from Somalia
May 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) on Tuesday announced the suspension of all flights to and from Somalia with immediate effect.

In the notice, the authority indicated that that only medevac flights and United Nations flights on humanitarian missions, were exempted from the order.

However, KCAA failed to give the reason behind the abrupt decision.

A week ago the government of Somalia announced that it had restored diplomatic ties with their neighbour after the Amir of the State of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani intervened.

“The two governments agree to keep friendly relations between the two countries on the basis of principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality, mutual benefit and peaceful co-existence,” read part of the statement released by Somalia’s Ministry of Information.

In November 2020, Somalia recalls its envoy to Nairobi and ordered Kenyan ambassador to leave the country. Somalia accused Kenya of interfering with its internal affairs, an accusation that her neighbour denied.

Kenya-Somalia border row case also kicked off in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in March this year despite the former’s protest.

In a letter sent to the Hague Court, Kenya complained of inadequate preparations blaming the Covid-19 pandemic, which hindered its lawyers from holding meetings to deliberate on the matter.

It also protested at the decision by the court to allow some hearings to be held virtually, noting that it will not give her the right opportunity to defend herself.

Kenya further demanded the Somali judge in the ICJ panel to recuse himself from the case for transparency reasons.

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South Sudan: Kiir Reconstitutes Transitional Parliament
May 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Kiir

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has reconstituted the Country’s Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) after over a year.

President Kiir’s order announced on state – based TV-SSBC on Monday’s evening includes members of the SPLM party; the National Agenda, the Democratic Change (D.C) party, the SPLM-IO, the South Sudan Opposition Alliance (SSOA), the Other Opposition Parties (OPP), and the former detainees (FDs) – all the parties to the peace deal.

Presidential order comes two days after the Kiir dissolved both the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of states.

The 2018 peace deal demands that the reconstituted parliament be expanded from 400 to 550 members of all the warring parties to the agreement.

The former Transitional government shall nominate 332 members, SPLM-IO with 128, members and South Sudan Opposition Alliance, or SSOA, with 50 members.

The Other Political Parties, OPP shall have 30 representatives and the Former Detainees with 10.

The Council of States, on the other hand, shall be expanded from 50 members to 100. The president is however yet to issue orders for expansion and reconstitution of the Council of States.

The move is in line with provisions of the revitalized peace agreement that requires expansion and reconstitution of the national legislature to include members of opposition parties signatories to the 2018 deal.

According to the revitalized peace deal, both houses—TNLA and the Council of States shall be reconstituted to include new appointees per the revitalized peace agreement.

The warring parties to the peace deal dragged reconstitution of both upper and lower houses for over a year despite the formation of the executive arm of the government in February, 2020

Lack of a functional parliament, observers said made it difficult for the enactment of laws that assist the transitional processes.

However, the civil society groups welcomed the reconstitution of the NLA, further called for presidency to immediately complete the formation of other commissions or institutions that spelled out in the revitalized peace deal.

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Cameroon-based fintech, Maviance PLC, closes its Seed round to fund its expansion within the Central African Economic Region (CEMAC)
May 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

Nkwenti Azong-Wara, CEO of Maviance

Douala, Cameroon – 11 May 2021 – Maviance PLC , a Cameroon-based fintech, announced today that it has closed its Seed investment round of USD 3 million from the pan-African digital payments hub MFS Africa, which comes on board as a strategic investor. Maviance will be using the new funding to increase its footprint in its Cameroon and to expand into other countries in the central African economic region (CEMAC).   

Maviance chose MFS Africa as an investor to leverage on its pan-African infrastructure and its vast product offering and partnerships to deliver new digital financial products in the CEMAC region. 

In Cameroon, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) employ over 90% of the workforce and contribute around 36% of GDP. However, many MSMEs lack access to digital financial services to grow their businesses. Maviance, which serves over 500,000 unique customers a month, has connected key service providers, payment providers, financial institutions and mobile money operators to its Smobilpay digital financial services platform. Smobilpay’s digital financial services help businesses improve their sales by encouraging their customers to move away from cash-based transactions to digital.  

Smobilpay empowers underserved MSMEs, agents, banks and financial institutions’ customers within the CEMAC region with more accessible digital financial services solutions. Maviance’s growing network of agents and MSME partners offer their customers a wide array of digital financial services.  

Jerry Cheambe, the founder of Maviance, who led the negotiations for Maviance, said: “We are very excited about Maviance’s product pipeline and expansion. The opportunities within central Africa are huge, and the demand has been massively accelerated in the last 12 months with the advent of Covid-19 as businesses of all sizes adopt digital financial services. Moreover, the shift in the mindset of regulators towards progressive regulations as well as regulatory alignment, enable us to deliver seamless services across multiple geographies and customer segments.” 

MFS Africa’s founder and CEO, Dare Okoudjou, who led the deal said: 

The rapid development of digital financial services that we have seen in Cameroon over the past few years is poised to spread across the CEMAC region. This will further accelerate the demand for domestic and cross-border payment from MSMEs, social enterprises and corporates in the region. Maviance, as a key infrastructure provider with its set of highly relevant products, is well-positioned to benefit from this growing demand. That is why we are thrilled to be partnering with the company, as we continue to broaden and deepen the reach of the MFS Africa Hub across Africa.” 

Nkwenti Azong-Wara, CEO of Maviance, adds: “With MFS Africa, Maviance has gained not just a funding partner, but more importantly a strategic investor who will provide valuable impetus to enable us to extnd our service portfolio and network as well as to expand into the other five countries within the CEMAC region, via the GIMACPAY switch.” 

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, Maviance has experienced increasing demand from businesses to digitise their payment processes and transition away from cash. The joint forces of Maviance and MFS Africa will open up opportunities for MSMEs to easily digitise their processes, enabling them to benefit from the ecosystem of mobile money providers and other financial institutions providing seamless payment for services irrespective of channel.  

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WFP AND UNHCR ROLL OUT TARGETED FOOD ASSISTANCE TO MEET NEEDS OF THE MOST VULNERABLE REFUGEES IN RWANDA
May 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

KIGALI – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, have started rolling out a new mechanism in Rwanda to prioritize general food assistance to the most vulnerable refugees.

“The funding shortfalls, which we were already facing due to the protracted nature of the refugee crisis in Rwanda, have been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Ahmed Baba Fall, UNHCR’s Representative to Rwanda. “To avoid these cuts affecting the most vulnerable refugees, we have established a targeting system that will allow us to prioritize extremely vulnerable refugees who depend entirely on humanitarian assistance and to ensure that their basis needs are met.”

“This is the right step at the right time when donors globally are under greater pressure than ever because of the impact of COVID-19 and growing demands,” said WFP Rwanda Representative and Country Director Edith Heines. “By targeting we prioritize funding to the refugees who are most in need of assistance while we work to mobilise more resources and find long-term solutions.”

This shift is in close collaboration with the Ministry of Emergency Management (MINEMA) and with technical support from the Joint UNHCR-WFP Programme Excellence and Targeting Hub.   This is the first country in Eastern Africa where WFP and UNHCR have jointly implemented targeting and prioritization of humanitarian assistance, with the support of the hub. 

UNHCR, together with the Rwanda authorities, is embarking on a stepped-up livelihoods and economic inclusion strategy that will increase refugee and host community resilience.

“We are confident that by investing in programmes that promote access to livelihoods and economic opportunities, education enrolment and access to land and financial services, part of the refugee population will be able to improve their livelihoods and support themselves.  With this, I believe development partners will come forward with additional resources to support programmes targeting refugees and host communities for more sustainable solutions,” added Fall.

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Orange leads solar panel deployment across Africa and the Middle East
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

To avoid using generators that run on fuel (fossil energy that emits CO2), Orange is putting in place several initiatives such as solar panels

Orange is accelerating its solar projects in Africa and the Middle East to reduce its carbon footprint to zero by 2040. Across the entire region, many sites are not connected to the electricity grid and when they are, the quality of the grid often requires alternative backup solutions. To avoid using generators that run on fuel (fossil energy that emits CO2), Orange is putting in place several initiatives such as solar panels.

In several of its subsidiaries, Orange is deploying innovative solar solutions and the latest generation batteries with partners specializing in energy. To reduce its environmental footprint, the Group is positioning itself in these countries as the biggest deployer of solar panels, with a renewable energy use rate already at over 50% for Orange Guinea, 41% for Orange Madagascar and 40% for Orange Sierra Leone. 

These solar panel solutions have also been or will soon be deployed in other African and Middle Eastern countries where Orange is present, like Liberia, for instance, where 75% of Orange’s telecom sites are equipped with solar panels. In total, Orange has installed solar panels at 5,400 of its telecom sites (some 100% solar, others hybrid) saving 55 million liters of fuel each year.

Furthermore, in Jordan, Orange has launched three solar farms to switch to clean and renewable energy helping to reduce its carbon footprint. In 2020, these solar farm projects covered over 65% of Orange Jordan’s energy needs. Since 2018, the company has successfully reduced its CO2 emissions by 45 kilotons thanks to this solar infrastructure.

Alioune Ndiaye, CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa says: “We are proud to be the first company by number of solar panels in 5 countries in Africa and the Middle East. As a stakeholder in the energy transition, Orange has included in its Engage 2025 strategic plan the objective of meeting 50% of the Group’s electricity needs from renewable sources by 2025. We are aiming for net zero carbon by 2040.”

Orange is present in 18 countries in Africa and the Middle East and has around 130 million customers as at March 31, 2021. With €5.8 billion in turnover in 2020, Orange MEA is the Group’s main growth region. Orange Money, with its mobile-based money transfer and financial services offer is available in 17 countries and has 50 million customers. Orange, a multi-service operator, benchmark partner of the digital transformation, provides its expertise to support the development of new digital services in Africa and the Middle East.

Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 42.3 billion euros in 2020 and 140,000 employees worldwide at 31 March 2021, including 80,000 employees in France. The Group has a total customer base of 262 million customers worldwide at 31 March 2021, including 217 million mobile customers and 22 million fixed broadband customers. The Group is present in 26 countries.

Orange is also a leading provider of global IT and telecommunication services to multinational companies, under the brand Orange Business Services. In December 2019, the Group presented its new “Engage 2025” strategic plan, which, guided by social and environmental accountability, aims to reinvent its operator model. While accelerating in growth areas and placing data and AI at the heart of its innovation model, the Group will be an attractive and responsible employer, adapted to emerging professions.

Orange is listed on Euronext Paris (symbol ORA) and on the New York Stock Exchange (symbol ORAN).

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EUROPEAN UNION PROVIDES €500,000 TO WFP FOR COVID-19 RECOVERY IN RWANDA
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

KIGALI – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) welcomes €500,000from the European Union (EU) to provide technical support to Rwanda’s COVID-19 recovery efforts.

With this contribution, WFP will support Government efforts to ensure that social protection is expanded to the most vulnerable and food insecure Rwandans and responds to the unique challenges presented by the pandemic.

The new funding will also support evidence generation on food security, markets, and supply chains to inform the Government and partners in their investments in COVID-19 recovery. 

“To ensure an effective COVID-19 recovery, it is vital for Rwanda to harness strategic technical expertise that will strengthen its social protection and food security systems to efficiently support national economic recovery,” said Ambassador Nicola Bellomo, Head of the EU Delegation in Rwanda.  

WFP has widely recognized expertise in food security analysis and a close partnership with the Government in social protection. WFP will work to assist the Local Administrative Entities Development Agency on national systems for social protection targeting, monitoring and evaluation and feedback to support the response to vulnerabilities associated with COVID-19.   

“The Government’s response to mobilizing the social protection system as a key platform for the COVID-19 response has been impressive to date,” said Edith Heines, WFP Rwanda Representative and Country Director. 

“With this generous support, WFP will help the Government make the national social protection system even more shock-responsive, building on the lessons learned from the pandemic.”

This support is a contribution to the ongoing food security and vulnerability analysis as well as to food market and supply chain monitoring and their recovery from COVID-19.

This contribution is 100 percent funded by the EU under the Sector Reform Contract to enhance the agriculture sector’s sustainable use of land and water resources, value creation and contribution to nutrition security through its budget support action in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

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Rights advocate tells TRRC NIA was ‘most’ used under Jammeh rule to torment journalists
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

Fatou Jaigne Senghore, human rights advocate and a lawyer, has told the TRRC that the National Intelligence Agency was ‘most’ used under the 22-year rule of former president Yahya Jammeh to torment journalists and closed down media houses.

Ms Jaigne Senghore, who doubles as ARTICLE 19’s Regional Director for Senegal and West Africa, was testifying before the TRRC.

“I must say that at the heart of the repressive system the NIA was really the institution that really frustrated the journalists. Many journalists who were detained by the NIA…

those cases of torture we documented were from the hands of the NIA, and there was also a lot of report back and forth not at the police sure to say but also at the NIA. We also documented that most of the closures of media outlets were also done by the NIA,” she said as she testified before the truth commission.

She offered a letter her office wrote to the Jammeh’s office in 2004 to thoroughly investigate the gruesome death of doyen Gambian journalist and founder of the Point newspaper, Deyda Hydara, demanding reforms of the draconian laws.

Ms Jaigne Senghore,51, explained how officials of the National Intelligence Agency were harassing journalists independently doing their professional jobs, citing the case Abdoulie John whom she said was constantly harassed by the officials of the National Intelligence Agency for reporting on the release of detained rebels.

Meanwhile, she described the closure of the defunct Citizen FM as the first major case of Jammeh regime to arbitrarily close down a media house with taking due process of the law.

“When they [Jammeh’s regime] closed down Citizen FM the continued violations that were existing…because Citizen FM was the first major case where the government decided arbitrarily just to close down a media house without any process, without taking the matter to court,” she continued. 

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Gambian journalists call for scrap of bad laws
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

Journalists in The Gambia have renewed call for scrapping of bad laws in the country’s law book as they celebrate World Press Freedom Day amid coronavirus restriction observed under the banner “Information as a Public Good”, which underlines the indisputable importance of verified and reliable information.

Lamin Njie, editor-in-chief of The Fatunetwork, celebrated his press Freedom Day by reflecting on the challenges journalists continue to face.

He said despite “Gambia has done well in terms of press freedom in the past four years” that “we cannot forget our colleagues in other parts of the world who continue to get killed for simply doing their job.”

“In Gambia, I would love to see the scrapping of all the bad laws that are still in our law books. I would also like to see the proposed Access to Information legislation promulgated into law which I believe will strengthen a free press in the country,” Mr Njie said.

He described: “a society without a free press is a society that is in trouble since there is darkness,” adding “The Gambia has done well in terms of press freedom in the past four years, we cannot forget our colleagues in other parts of the world who continue to get killed for simply doing their job.”

Yaya Baldeh, senior journalist and communication officer for Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, observed the day by reminding duty bearers that “press freedom and access to information is an elementary human right which needs to be championed and cherished by any society.”

“Certainly, the calls for the respect and promotion of WPFD is another cardinal moment to ponder over how long we have come to today gains. Even though, a lot is ought to be done to attain the desired aspiration. Happy WPFD anniversary!

“I salute the courage of Journalists, editors and every worker in the media industry for their profound courage and unshakable bravery in informing the public with accurate, balance and well-focused reportage,” he said.

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Gambia:Prison gets ambulance vehicle worth 2.5m
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

The Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry yesterday donated an ambulance vehicle worth 2.5 million-dalasi as well as 100,000 dalasis coupons to Gambia Prison Service, held in Bijilo.

The donations aimed to support prison in the fight against coronavirus.

President of GCCI Edrissa Mass Jobe, said: “This ambulance is yet to help further the agenda of equivalence of healthcare and the right to health is a principle that applies to all prisoners who are entitled to receive the same quality of medical care that is available in the community,”

“Prisons are not isolated from society and prison health is public health. Adding that the vast majority of people committed to prison, prison guards and families interact continuously making prisons the reservoirs of disease.

“At the onset of the Covid-19 pandemics, GCCI realized that the prisons together with the hospitals are the worst and most vulnerable places in the country hence in the spirit of true generosity they focused their material and financial contribution to helping these institutions,” Edrissa said.

Representing the Prison Service Modou Jarju, described the donation as very timely and relevant to their institution needs and current requirements of their prison sub-health system.

“The old ambulance in Mile II is overburdened with pressure of providing paramedic services to both Mile II and Jeshwang prison. Therefore, acquiring an ambulance for the prison is long overdue and will go a long way in improving the provision of health services to the prisons,” he said.

“GCCI and UNDP have provided life changing support services in various ways that have helped to improve the lives of both inmates and officers,” he added.

Fabba Jammeh Director of industry Ministry of Trade said: “We all know that we are still in the pandemic and it has constraint most of our activities so we can imagine those in the prison how they would have been impacted by the Covid and this support coming to them at least will relief some of the burden that they have been going through this covid moment.”

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Gambia:UK-based charity donates D7m to EFSTH
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Adama Makasuba

UK-based charity, Humanity First, through its Gambia branch, has given 7.3 million dalasis worth in consignment of health items to Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital in Banjul.

The donation comes as part of Ahmadiyya Muslims Jama’at’s humanitarian support to the nation’s health sector to fight against coronavirus and other diseases following the 2013 Memorandum of Understanding between the hospital and the charity organisation. 

Humanity First is a UN recognised charity organisation that has its branches in 160 countries around the world. In 2020 the charity’s country branch donated 250,000 dalasis in items like face masks and hand sanitisers to EFSTH.

The materials were shipped in by the UN Agency for World Food Programme.

Speaking at the handing over ceremony in Banjul, chairman of Humanity First The Gambia Baba F. Trawally, Amir of Ahmadiyya Muslims Jama’at, described the donation as great as he said it happened in Ramadan which is a giving month.

“We are gathered for handing over these items as part of complementing the tremendous work of The Gambia government in the fight against Covid-19,” he told the gathering.

“In a pandemic such as this it is not just government but everyone has a responsibility to make a difference,” he said, adding that: “at the level of Humanity First and other partners we are committed to serving humanity irrespective of their religious belief, skin colour, national origin and ethnic background.”

He assured the National Health Services of the United Kingdom and Zeded Laboratory UK that “the items will go a long way in advancing our efforts against Covid-19, in The Gambia” saying “we are profoundly grateful to the National Health Services of the United Kingdom and Zeded Laboratory UK.”

Amir Trawally reminded people that servicing humanity is not only “moral obligation but a religious duty and obligation for all Muslims.”

Dr Baboucarr Sowe said what the charity procured to the nation in the fight against coronavirus in the country is ” to the tune of 7.3 million dalasis.”

He commended the ministry of health and finance as well as government Institutions like Gambia Ports Authority and Gambia Revenue Authority in helping to bring in the container items of materials to the country.

Meanwhile, Chief Medical Director Professor Ousman Nyan, described the help as significant as heaped praise on the charity organisation that the ” material donation have been quite consistent of high quality and relevant.”

“As medical teachers we are particularly more aware about the capacity building that they (Humanity First) have been involved with in the emergency care, surgical skills and in other outreach activities that the members of the medical fraternity of Humanity First have delivered to The Gambian community mostly through our hospital service here at Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital,” the health professor recognised support of the charity.

Representing the minister of health, Lamin Dampha, PS 2 at the ministry of health welcomed the gesture saying the materials will greatly help in the fight against coronavirus. He thanked the donors for the services they have been rendering to the country.

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Kenya: Raila’s acts to save the ODM party from crumbling
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Prime Minister Raila Odinga with Senator James Orengo .Photo credit Emmanuel Wanson, Standard

Former Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Monday met Senator James Orengo amid fallout claims over the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2020, popularly known as Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The meeting was also attended by the ODM’s deputy party leader Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu.

The AU special envoy did not indicate the agenda of the meeting but term it as lunch.

“I had a great chat this morning with Governor @mamangilu and @GovWOparanya together with Senator @orengo_james whom I hosted for brunch,” read Odinga’s tweet.

Raila’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party is divided into two groups, a move that could derail the party’s performance in the next year’s general elections.

A faction led by Senator Orengo is pushing for the Bill’s amendment. In contrast, the other group led by the party’s chairman John Mbadi wants the document to be subjected to the referendum the way it is.

Orengo has questioned the Bill’s authenticity and poked nose into the legality and distribution of the proposed 70 new constituencies. His claims have been supported by Governor Oparanya, lawmaker Otiende Amollo, etc.

However, the lawyer has been accused by ODM’s comrades of leading a rebellion against Odinga, branding him a rebel.

“Orengo co-chaired the committee that produced the final BBI. He cannot turn around now to say that that we didn’t agree on this or that. He cannot run away from his baby. He is essentially trying to disown a document he himself, by the virtue of being a co-captain, authored. It is the height of political dishonesty,” said the National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed.

Last week on Tuesday, Orengo’s ally Otiende was kicked out of the influential Justice and Legal Affairs Committee for opposing the BBI Bill. This led to rumors that Orengo is the next to be ousted as Leader of the Minority in the Senate.

In response to rumors, the attorney said he would not be intimidated, vowing to continue performing his duties and speaking his mind.

“I can never be intimated in my political life because I have seen many people come and go, I have seen many powerful people come and go.  I have seen Presidents come here and go. I have seen people who on their words you will leave this house and be locked in the same day, they have come and gone,” said Orengo.

Through a statement sent to media houses by Odinga’s spokesperson Dennis Onyango, the ODM party dismissed the allegations stating that there is no plot to replace the Senator.

“We wish to clarify that Rt. Hon Raila Odinga, the ODM Party Leader and the Orange Democratic Movement have no plans to replace Senator James Orengo as the Leader of Minority in the Senate,” read part of the statement.

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Merck Foundation brings 26 African Ministers together to Empower Women and Youth in STEM through their online Merck Africa Research Summit (MARS) in partnership with African Union
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

MARS Online VC brought distinguished leaders on a single platform to reaffirm Merck Foundation’s commitment towards developing a strong Africa roadmap towards gender equality
LUSAKA, Zambia, May 10, 2021/ — Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit -MARS was conducted online during the 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021; The MARS Summit High-Level Ministerial Panel Discussion with 26 Ministers of Health, Science and Technology, Education, Information And Gender and MARS Researchers.

Merck Foundation , the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany conducted the Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit – MARS 2021 online, in partnership with the African Union and African Ministers of different sectors, during the 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021, held in partnership with the Government of Zambia. The conference was inaugurated by The President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. Dr. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU and Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees. It was co-chaired by H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.

Elaborating about the MARS Summit, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of MARS Summit explained “I am very happy to have more than 20 Honourable African Ministers of different sectors, coming together for the MARS Summit. Merck Foundation has been committed to underscore its long-term commitment towards building Research Capacity in Africa. This year, the Summit mainly addressed the importance of Empowering youth to address sustainability challenges in Africa and Global South, Empowering women in education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics); challenges and strategies, the response to Coronavirus pandemic, and the Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenges in Africa”.

Elaborating about the MARS Summit, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Chairperson of MARS explained “I am very happy to have 26 African Ministers of different sectors, coming together for the MARS Online VC. Merck Foundation has been committed to underscore its long-term commitment towards building Healthcare and Research Capacity in Africa with a special focus on women and youth. This year, the Summit mainly addressed the importance of Empowering women and youth in education and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics); challenges and strategies, the response to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the Role of Scientific Research in responding to Cancer and Vaccines Development – Two emerging challenges in Africa”.

Dr. Eng. Ahmed Hamdy, Executive Director, African Union – Scientific, Technical and Research Commission, emphasized, “The Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit was a valuable opportunity for all those engaged and interested in health research in Africa to learn about the full spectrum of ground-breaking scientific research currently underway in the continent with respect to COVID-19, and prepare the road ahead in Africa’s strategy to tackle the pandemic with a concrete approach”.

MARS Online VC brought distinguished leaders on a single platform to reaffirm Merck Foundation’s commitment towards developing a strong Africa roadmap towards gender equality by discussing policies, leadership, and scientific roles that can enable women to recover and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world.

Hon. Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda, Minister of Health and Population, Malawi said, “Women stand at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators, community organizers, and as some of the most exemplary and effective national leaders in combating the pandemic. This MARS ministerial panel has highlighted both the centrality of their contributions and the role of governments and policies in advancing gender equality which will be conducive in our collaboration to empower women and supporting girls in education. I am very privileged to work closely with the African Ministers to contribute towards the development of Africa.”

The High-level Ministerial panel included:Hon. Dr. Jonas Kamima CHANDAMinister of Health, ZambiaHon. Dr. Dennis WANCHINGAMinister of General Education, ZambiaHon. Dr. Brian MUSHIMBAMinister of Higher Education, ZambiaHon. Elizabeth PHIRIMinister of Gender, ZambiaHon. Dora SILIYAMinister of Information & Broadcasting Service, ZambiaHon. Silvia Paula Lutucuta, Minister of Health, AngolaHon. Dr. NDIKUMANA ThadéeMinister of Public Health & Fighting against AIDS, BurundiHon. Dr. François HAVYARIMANAMinistre de L’Education Nationale et de la Recherche Scientifique, BurundiHon. Imelde SABUSHIMIKEMinistre de la Solidarité Nationale, des Affaires Sociales, des Droits de la Personne Humaine et du Genre, Burundi Hon. Marie Chantal NIJIMBEREMinistre de la Communication, des Technologies de L’Information et des Médias, Republic of Burundi Hon. Jacquiline Lydia MikoloMinister of Health & Population, Republic of the Congo Hon. Dr. Ahmadou Lamin SamatehMinister of Health, The Gambia Hon. Ebrima SILLAHMinister of Information, The Gambia Hon. Colonel Remy LamaMinister of Health, Guinea Conakry Hon. Pr. Amadou Bano BarryMinister of Education, Guinea Conakry Hon. Amara SompareMinister of Information & Communication, Guinea Conkary Hon. Khumbize Kandodo ChipondaMinister of Health & Population, Malawi Hon. Dr. Patricia KaliatiMinister Of Gender, Community Development & Social Welfare, Republic of Malawi Hon. Agnes NyalonjeMinister Of Education, Malawi Hon. Ulemu MsungamaMinister Of Youth & Sports, Malawi Hon. Timoth Pagonachi MtamboMinister Of Civic Education & National Unity, Malawi Hon. Dr. Kalumbi ShangulaMinister of Health & Social Services, Namibia Hon. Dr. Joyce Moriku KaducuState Minister for Health, Uganda Hon. Monica MutsvangwaMinister of Information & Broadcasting Publicity, Zimbabwe Hon. Sthembiso NyoniMinster of Women Affairs Small & Medium Enterprises, ZimbabweHon. Amon MurwiraMinister of Higher & Tertiary Education, Zimbabwe

About Merck Foundation:

The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation. Website. 

*SOURCE Merck Foundation
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Emirates to showcase its Premium Economy Seats for the first time at ATM
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

Visitors will also personally view enhanced signature onboard products

Dubai, UAE: 10 May 2021 – Emirates will be showcasing its Premium Economy seats for the first time at Arabian Travel Market 2021 (ATM). The region’s leading travel and tourism exhibition will run from 16-19 May, and will be the first in-person travel industry event to take place since the onset of the pandemic.

The Emirates stand will offer travel industry visitors from over 60 countries a chance to experience the airline’s signature products and recently introduced service enhancements across every cabin class onboard its iconic A380 aircraft, and is a reminder of the elevated onboard experiences in store for travellers once they get back to the skies.

The highly-anticipated Emirates premium economy seat will be on display for visitors to experience. The seat boasts an abundant pitch of up to 40-inches, and visitors trying out Emirates’ premium economy seat will also notice its generous width of 19.5 inches and ability to recline into a comfortable cradle position with ample room to stretch out.

The seats are covered in cream-coloured anti-stain leather with automobile inspired stitching details and a wood panel finishing similar to Business Class, all designed to provide optimal comfort and support with 6-way adjustable headrests, calf rests and footrests. Customers will also find other meticulous details including easily accessible in-seat charging points, a wide dining table and side cocktail table, as well as a storage area.

Emirates will also showcase its Boeing 777-300ER game-changer First Class fully enclosed private suites exhibit, Boeing 777 Business Class seat, the newly refreshed A380 OnBoard lounge, along with other iconic products such the First Class Shower Spa and the latest version of the game-changer Economy Class seats. Across both the Emirates A380 and 777 Gamechanger products, visitors will notice new interior finishes and design details featuring the Ghaf tree motif, as well as an updated champagne colour palette.

Visitors to the Emirates product exhibits will be able to try out all of the products on the stand, and all seats and surfaces will be cleaned and sanitised after each use. In keeping with ATM’s stringent health and safety protocols, the Emirates stand will operate at limited capacity at all times to ensure proper social distancing of visitors as they explore the products.

Visitors can also try out their Emirates knowledge through an interactive 60 second challenge played on a touch screen at the stand.

The Emirates stand is located in Hall 3 stand number ME3310 at ATM.

About Emirates

The Emirates story started in 1985 when we launched operations with just two aircraft. Today, we fly the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, offering our customers the comforts of the latest and most efficient wide-body aircraft in the skies.

We inspire travelers around the world with our growing network of worldwide destinations, industry leading inflight entertainment, regionally inspired cuisine, and world-class service.

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Emirates launches India humanitarian airbridge to transport urgent COVID-19 relief items
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

  • Emirates will offer cargo capacity free of charge to NGOs, to ship relief items on all its flights from Dubai to nine cities in India
  • Airbridge initiative is a major boost from Emirates, supporting the various relief efforts undertaken by the humanitarian community
  • In co-ordination with the International Humanitarian City (IHC), first flights carrying WHO cargo departs from Dubai to India
HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and Chief Executive

Dubai, UAE, 10 May 2021– Emirates has set up a humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India to transport urgent medical and relief items, to support India in its fight to control the serious COVID-19 situation in the country.

Emirates will offer cargo capacity free of charge on an “as available” basis on all of its flights to nine cities in India, to help international NGOs deliver relief supplies rapidly to where it is needed.

In the past weeks, Emirates SkyCargo has already been transporting medicines and medical equipment on scheduled and charter cargo flights to India. This latest airbridge initiative takes Emirates’ support for India and for the NGO community to the next level.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and Chief Executive, said: “India and Emirates are deeply connected, since our first flights to India in 1985. We stand with the Indian people and will do all we can to help India get back on its feet. Emirates has a lot of experience in humanitarian relief efforts, and with 95 weekly flights to 9 destinations in India, we will be offering regular and reliable widebody capacity for relief materials. The International Humanitarian City in Dubai is the largest crisis relief hub in the world and we will work closely with them to facilitate the movement of urgent medical supplies.”

The first shipment sent as part of the Emirates India humanitarian airbridge is a consignment of over 12 tons of multi-purpose tents from the World Health Organization (WHO), destined for Delhi, and coordinated by the IHC in Dubai.

Giuseppe Saba, CEO of International Humanitarian City, said: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid built the International Humanitarian City (IHC), so Dubai, in coordination with humanitarian agencies, would be able to assist communities and families, most in need – around the world. The creation of the humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India, facilitated by Emirates SkyCargo, Dubai’s International Humanitarian City and UN agencies, to transport urgent medical and relief items, is another example of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s vision for the IHC, being brought to life. Last year over 1,292 shipments were dispatched from the IHC in Dubai, setting the standard for humanitarian response globally. We appreciate the great efforts by IHC’s partner Emirates SkyCargo establishing this humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India in this time of need”.

Giuseppe Saba, CEO of International Humanitarian City

The freight division of Emirates has a close partnership with IHC, developed over several years of delivering relief materials to communities across the world impacted by natural disasters and other crises. IHC will support Emirates SkyCargo in channelling relief efforts to India through the airbridge.

Following the Port of Beirut blasts in August 2020, Emirates also leveraged its expertise in humanitarian logistics to set up an airbridge to Lebanon to assist with relief efforts.

Emirates has led the aviation and air cargo industry in its efforts to help markets around the world combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The air cargo carrier has helped transport thousands of tonnes of urgently required PPE and other medical supplies across six continents over the last year by rapidly adapting its business model and introducing additional cargo capacity through its modified mini freighters with seats removed from Economy Class on Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft along with loading cargo on seats and in overhead bins inside passenger aircraft to transport urgently required materials.

In addition, Emirates SkyCargo has partnered with UNICEF and other entities in Dubai through the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance, to transport COVID-19 vaccines rapidly to developing nations through Dubai. So far, close to 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been transported on Emirates’ flights, equating to nearly 1 in 20 of all COVID-19 vaccine doses administered around the world.

Through its scheduled cargo flights to close to 140 destinations across six continents, Emirates helps maintain unbroken supply chains for vital commodities such as medical supplies and food.

About Emirates

The Emirates story started in 1985 when we launched operations with just two aircraft. Today, we fly the world’s biggest fleets of Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s, offering our customers the comforts of the latest and most efficient wide-body aircraft in the skies.

We inspire travelers around the world with our growing network of worldwide destinations, industry leading inflight entertainment, regionally inspired cuisine, and world-class service.

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Zimbabwe’s religious leaders increase efforts to tackle COVID-19 and support vaccines
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

UNICEF and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) in Zimbabwe in partnership with Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust (AWET) hosted a dialogue with interfaith religious leaders from across the country to leverage support for the COVID-19 vaccine roll out and recovery.

The faith leaders were drawn from prominent religious groups including Christian, Islamic and the African Traditional Religions. They were represented by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Seventh Day Adventist, The Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe National Association of Traditional Healers and Dare reMweya neVadzimu.

Faith leaders are critical partners in addressing many known barriers to the uptake of health and other essential services, including vaccines.

UNICEF’s Global Faith for Positive Change Initiative recognises the central role and influence of religious leaders in behaviour and social change communication. Through the partnership with AWET, over 850 interfaith and community leaders have been trained to support engaging and mobilizing their communities about integrated COVID-19 prevention and continuity of essential health, nutrition, education, child protection and WASH services. The initiative aims to reach 5 million people across all provinces of Zimbabwe.

To kickstart the dialogue, participants reflected on misinformation, distrust and barriers including social, religious and cultural barriers contributing to vaccine hesitancy. Leading the conversation AWET National Director Tendayi Gudo said, “Understanding and addressing these barriers is key for our partnership with local faith actors, increasing their abilities to counter false claims or address religious questions or other sensitive topics.”

The religious leaders also noted with concern that the spread of too much unfiltered information and misinformation has undermined people’s trust in the COVID-19 vaccines.

Zimbabwe Council of Churches Director for Research, Innovations and Programme Development, Ronald Nare said that faith leaders have a responsibility to provide a fresh understanding and insights about these vaccines. “We must mobilise faith groups to take direct actions to promote the well-being of children, families and the communities they serve.”

This, he said was in line with UNICEF’s Faith for Positive Change for Children, Families and Communities Strategy that states: “Religious leadership hold some of the deepest and most trusted relationships with their communities and, as skilled and influential communicators, they can significantly move the hearts and minds of millions and in turn shape behavioral and cultural practices.”

The faith leaders who attended the three-day workshop endorsed the COVID-19 vaccination campaign and pledged to play an active role in boosting community trust in the science behind COVID-19 vaccines and enlisting their communities to join the efforts to end COVID-19.

The President of the Supreme Council of Zimbabwe, Sheikh Ishmael Duwa said he was the first Islamic leader in Zimbabwe to receive the vaccine in public and is now encouraging congregants and the wider population to get vaccinated.

“I am a sharing my vaccination experience to Islamic followers and Zimbabweans at large to prove that these vaccines are safe and taking them is how we can protect our children, families and communities from this pandemic,” said Sheikh Duwa.

As vaccination champions, the leaders agreed to model and promote positive attitudes and behaviors towards vaccinations, articulate trust in accurate information, engage followers to address faith-related barriers and help congregants to understand how vaccines work.

“With this knowledge, I am going to play a leading role in challenging misinformation circulating through our congregation platforms and social media space by promoting trust in accurate information sources such as Ministry of Health and Child Care and UNICEF,” said Phyllis Manungo from Seventh Day Adventist Church.

With funding from the Health Development Fund (HDF) supported by the EU, UK Aid, Sweden, Irish Aid and Gavi, UNICEF will continue facilitating multi-faith dialogues and actions to increase uptake of COVID-19 vaccinations and improved access to health, nutrition, education, WASH and child protection services to children, families, persons with disability, the ageing population and those in need of care.

*Source UNICEF

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Mozambique:Nyusi in Zambia for Kazungula Bridge opening
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi is among regional leaders who have been invited to the official opening of Kazungula Bridge, on Monday, 10 May. The 923m long infrastructure is located at the border between Botswana and Zambia on the Zambezi River at Kazungula.

The regional ceremony includes the inauguration of the Border Post facilities, linking Zambia and Botswana.

The inauguration of the infrastructure will mark a giant step towards the operationalization of the SADC North-South corridor, by facilitating access to international markets through connectivity with the main maritime ports of the region, according to a statement from the Mozambican presidency seen by Pan African Visions.

The North-South Corridor (NSC) is a key trade route in Africa. It is approximately

2800km long stretching from the mining region of Lubumbashi in the Democratic

Republic of the Congo (DRC) to the port city of Durban in South Africa. Along the way

it passes though the Copperbelt (Zambia’s industrial heartland) and Gaborone, the

capital of Botswana. With spillover effects, the corridor further integrates Namibia,

Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Eswatini.

The NSC is primarily road-based and the Kazungula crossing point at the Zambezi

River at a confluence between Zambia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia was a

critical bottleneck that prevented the efficient flow of goods due to the lack of a

bridge across the river (a ferry was being used instead).

The development of a Bridge at the crossing was an opportunity to increase the

capacity and speed of transit and also introduce an alternative mobility mode:

railway transportation.

On this trip for Kazungula Bridge opening, Filipe Nyusi is accompanied by the Foreign Affairs minister Verónica Macamo Ndlovu and officials from the Presidency of the Republic and other State institutions.

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Sierra Leone: Sonia Jaffar opens first ever Kids photography studio in the country
May 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

A Sierra Leonean Entrepreneur Sonia Jaffar has last Friday 7th may 2021 opened the first ever babies props kids photography studio for kids in the country.

Speaking at the opening ceremony at Kingtom West of Freetown , the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Babies Props by Sonia , Madam Sonia Jaffar said that her inspiration to set up the first ever exclusive photo studio for kids in the country came up when she got her first child after going  for a photo shoot for her child in a foreign country adding that she realised that all those that were working at the place where women from the creators to the photographers thus  the thought of bringing  such an idea back home all started.

“I started off with this concept when I had my first child that was how I get inspired when I went to take a photo shoot for my child in a foreign country.  I saw they were women , the creator and the photographer were women so I get inspired and thought this is something  I should do in my country because I have noticed that many people  aren’t focus on babies except adults  and I wanted to change the concept ,’’she said.

She added that the people he had met with during the photo shoot abroad were very helpful in getting her to show her the materials needed to set up the kind of kids photo studio she had experienced stating that she started doing research on the internet where she learnt a lot and get a lot of idea to eventually setting up a magnificent and classical studio in the country.

“Firstly the unique thing is that I am the first person that have done and opened a baby photo studio in the whole of Sierra Leone. Immediately when I started, you know Sierra Leoneans like to copy and I have seen people trying to imitate us. Customers go there when they find it cheaper but at the end of the day they will come back to us telling me I did it in another place but they didn’t do it as I had wanted,’’ Madam Jaffa lamented, stressing that photography is not about been to it but said it is about the passion you put into it and the quality of service you render to your customers.

The CEO went on to say that she is not into the business of photography for just business but said she is into it to bringing a unique satisfaction to his customers and to show a sense of professionalism and value for money.

“ I like quality things and I want when I am out there for  people to be  proud of my brand so I can’t afford to give them less quality , My gadgets are all brand new and I have  one of the best in town. Everything is all on point,’’ CEO Jaffa boasted.

CEO Jaffar further said that dealing with kids and babies is not easy sometimes stating that she will spent hours just to get a photo shoot which is why they charge an appreciable amount of money to her customers as a way to pay for the time spent in the work thus they do photo shoot for new born, toddlers, maternity pictures among others.

 “I will be providing internship opportunities here, I will not keep my knowledge to myself, I will share it out there. Because I can’t be selfish to just have it by myself I need for teach people out there as well so that even if I am not able to hire them they will be able to work with other studios in the country. Thank you so much. I appreciate you all. ‘’

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Rwanda: Diaspora opposition Against hosting CHOGM in Rwanda
May 10, 2021 | 1 Comments

-Commonwealth and its member states should call for governance reforms in Rwanda key opposition figures say

By Mohammed M. Mupenda *

Rev Christine Coleman. Photo courtesy

Many of us are saddened, and unhappy, by the fateful news about postponement of Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that was slated to be held in Rwanda the coming June 2021. All was set but for covid causing havoc in member countries, there was no other option rather than postponement.

“Having reviewed all available evidence and risk assessments including with the World Health Organization (WHO) and their risk assessment tool, and after close consultation between the Commonwealth Secretariat and Member States, the decision has been made to postpone the CHOGM in Kigali for a second time”, the statement reads.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland “We know that the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to have a hugely damaging impact on our member countries, many of whom continue to face huge losses to lives and livelihoods. And while it is with deep disappointment and regret that we cannot bring Commonwealth leaders together at this time to discuss many of these critical issues, we must be mindful of the huge risks large meetings pose to all.”

This news has, however, attracted different reactions from diaspora expressing their happiness and joy over the postponement and some went to the extent of praying for CHOGM not to take place in Rwanda, those include… Rev Christine Coleman. 

Rev. shares some views with another list of Rwanda oppositions living in a country who had earlier requested reforms on Rwanda prior to hosting CHOGM.  Mrs. Victoire Ingabire, Me Bernard Ntaganda, all Chairman of Dalfa Umurinzi and the Social Party Imberakuri, none registered political parties by Rwanda party platform.

Professor Charles Kambanda, Kagame’s critic based in New York  had earlier taken it to Facebook too saying that after lobbying to have an in person meeting Kagame could get virtual.

“Big loss for Kagame.  He was counting chickens before they hatch”! I am wondering how much Kagame spent on Lobbyists to have CHOGM meetings in Rwanda only to get virtual meetings. A little sad,”

According to Rev. Christine said, my reaction as a human rights defender and fighter, the cancellation for the meeting  is good news for me. That’s what I prayed for… that this meeting do not be held in Rwanda where blood is still being shed,  before this meeting, everyone knows what is going on behind the scenes, it is good news. Because, it is a way to humble Kagame who has never accepted No from many people, he anticipated always people will bow to his requests; now that he has received a NO maybe through this, he will realise. It is also good news to those who suffered, had their loved ones disappear or even lost their lives all in preparation of the meeting. Many people who were going to be blinded by the clean streets of Kigali will not fall into the deception but that maybe with time their eyes will see and hear. This gives us a chance to expose Kagame (for many after one visit, they are shown the wonders Kigali) that it becomes impossible almost to convince them of the truth of the real Rwanda.

“President Kagame seeks to accomplish what none other African president has accomplished regardless of the cost he has to pay. CHOGM being held in Kagame’s Rwanda was going to put him again on a pedestal of deception and pride to deceive more the whole world.” she told PAV. 

I am sure that millions of  US dollars were spent lobbying to hold CHOGM in Rwanda, not only that I am pretty sure that lives were taken and many people’s rights to land, homes, businesses were violated immensely in order to prepare for this meeting citing example of the common citizen, the poor, the voiceless could have suffered greatly including homes of hundreds of people were destroyed by the government without their consent or without reaching an agreement, all as part of cleaning up the  city, to deceive the world “Yes, Rwanda is great, streets are clean like in the West.”

She stressed that people were forcibly moved out of their homes and forced into apartments that did not fit the number of households nor their lifestyle. 

“It is bad news to President Kagame and those who were going to be profiteering from this CHOGM But it is also bad news to those like you( reporters-news correspondent )  who were looking forward to reporting rightly, it is possible there were journalists who would be able to confront regime regarding issues like imprisoning innocent people, and kidnapping. So there is some loss but to me the benefits of not having CHOGM in dictator’s land outweighs the loss,” Rev Christine said.

She noted that the Rwanda government does not hold values of CHOGM.They order killings and abuse people created in God’s image.

For over two decades, the ruling circle in Rwanda has claimed to practice power-sharing consensus democracy with the intent of overcoming ethnic divisions and accelerating development. However, political participation has always been limited to parties affiliated to the ruling party. This leaves no space for a genuine opposition to provide checks and balances, Mrs. Victoire Ingabire and Me Bernard Ntaganda said in an op-ed published in African Arguments last week.  

Rwanda joined the Commonwealth in 2009 despite the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative’s (CHRI) finding that “the state of governance and human rights in Rwanda does not satisfy Commonwealth standards” and that it “does not therefore qualify for admission”.

“Rwanda’s government also engages in widespread human rights abuses. Arbitrary detention, including prolonged pre-trial detention has continuously been reported. Political opponents, human rights defenders and journalists still face reprisals, death, enforced disappearance, harassment and other offences for criticising the government. Many of our active supporters and independent activists have been victims of these acts,”the two authors said in the African Arguments op-ed

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

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South Sudan: President Kiir Dissolves Legislative Houses
May 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Kiir

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has finally dissolved the Transitional National Legislative Assembly and the Council of States, paving way for the reconstitution of both houses.

The dissolution was announced in a presidential decree broadcasted on state – based television known as SSBC on Saturday’s evening.

This comes after overdue calls by the peace partners, international community and the country’s activists for reconstitution of the national legislature following the formation of a unity government last year.

The 2018 revitalized peace agreement signed, provides for the reconstitution of the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) and the Council of States.

But warring parties to the peace deal has several failed to reconstitutes both upper and lower houses for over a year despite the formation of the executive arm of the government.

The transitional national legislative assembly (TNLA) will be expanded from 400 to 550 members comprising representatives from the peace parties.

The former Transitional government shall nominate 332 members, SPLM-IO with 128, members and South Sudan Opposition Alliance, or SSOA, with 50 members.

The Other Political Parties, OPP shall have 30 representatives and the Former Detainees with 10.

The Council of States, on the other hand, shall be expanded from 50 members to 100

However, observers, said the delayed of reconstitution of the legislative made it difficult for the enactment of laws that would assist the transitional processes, including reforms spelled out in the peace agreement.

Since then, the country is being run on a supplementary budget partly due to a lack of legitimate parliament.

The activists has welcomed the president Kiir’s move, further called for an immediate formation of commissions and other revitalized peace mechanisms.

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