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Unprecedented worldwide support for the Global Partnership for Education and addressing the global learning crisis
February 3, 2018 | 0 Comments
Significant new financial commitments from donors and developing countries will enable new and improved support for the education of millions of children
Press conference (Photo credit: GPE/Heather Shuker)

Press conference (Photo credit: GPE/Heather Shuker)

DAKAR, Senegal, February 3, 2018/ — Ten current and three former heads of state and more than 60 ministers gathered at the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference (www.GlobalPartnership.org), making this the highest-level education financing event of its kind.

The conference, co-hosted by President Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal and President Emmanuel Macron of the French Republic, marks the first time an education financing conference has been hosted by a G7 leader and the president of a developing country.

More than 1200 participants attended including leaders from UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Bank, civil society, philanthropic foundations and the private sector. Rihanna, GPE’s Global Ambassador supported by Global Citizen, also participated.

The size and nature of the attendance at the conference was a visible demonstration of the strengthened global political will to ensure every child is in school and learning. This heightened momentum will enable the Global Partnership for Education to reach the goal of providing US$2 billion a year by 2020 for education planning and delivery to support children’s learning in developing countries.

Donor countries pledged US$2.3 billion in financing to GPE. This is a substantial increase in funding compared to the US$1.3 billion contributed over the past three years. In addition, several donor countries have indicated their intention to pledge further funds over the course of the financing period.

The biggest source of education financing comes from developing countries themselves. More than 50 developing countries announced they would increase public expenditures for education for the period 2018 to 2020 to a total of US$110 billion, compared to US$80 billion between 2015 and 2017.

GPE encourages developing countries to increase their share of education spending to 20% of their overall budget. Of those governments committing today, over two-thirds will have reached that goal by 2020.

I am energized by the generosity and determination we have seen here today to ensure every child and young person has access to a quality education. After today’s commitments, we are seeing a clear trend to seriously address the global learning crisis” said Julia Gillard, Board Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia. “The success of the conference marks a turning point for global political support for education financing and brings a new breadth and depth to our partnership.” 

At the conference, the United Arab Emirates joined GPE, becoming the first Arab donor and pledging US$100 million. Senegal, in addition to pledging to increase its own expenditure on education, became GPE’s first African donor. The Netherlands and Spain renewed their involvement, and China attended for the first time.

The unprecedented support today means that the Global Partnership for Education can continue to focus on the most excluded and vulnerable children and work to extend assistance to up to 89 countries, which are home to 870 million children and 78 percent of the world’s out-of-school children,” said Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer, Global Partnership for Education.

 

 

The Global Partnership for Education’s funding model is a catalyst for education investment, working hand in hand with governments of low-income and lower middle-income countries to strengthen their education systems. The Global Partnership for Education supports governments to develop robust national education plans so that funds can then be channeled into their priority areas with confidence that they will contribute to improved quality of education for all children.

The conference was sponsored by: Ecobank, the Pan African Bank; Fondation Sonatel; and Altissia, and supported by Girls Not Brides; Global Campaign for Education; Global Citizen; Malala Fund; ONE; Plan International; RESULTS; and Women Deliver.

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ARC and UN Partner to Increase Insurance Coverage in Africa
February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments

ADDIS ABABA – The African Risk Capacity (ARC), an agency of the African Union, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) have announced a new partnership which will see the two organisations work together to increase insurance coverage against climate risks for African states.

The multilateral deal was announced at the African Union’s Annual Summit in Addis Ababa, and commits ARC and ECA to build the capacity of their 33 common Member States by embedding risk management investments into government planning through policy development. ARC and ECA also will share expertise and commit financial resources to joint analytical work in areas of economic and climate risk research in order to promote risk transfer instruments.

The UN estimates that Africa will see the adaptation costs of climate change rise to $50 billion per year by 2050.

“This partnership marks a bold new phase of heightened collaboration on combatting the effects of climate change in Africa,” said Mohamed Beavogui, Director-General of ARC Agency. “The future of disaster risk management is an increasingly urgent economic issue, and ECA’s unique expertise will complement ARC’s work serving its Member States and building preparedness and resilience on the continent.”

In the four years that ARC has offered insurance coverage to its Member States, it has paid out more than USD $34 million to Member States affected by drought events. These resources have assisted over two million people affected by climate disaster.

“Climate change is one of the biggest threats to Africa’s economic and social development,” said ECA Executive Secretary Vera Songwe. “We believe that efforts like our partnership with ARC will help move the needle, so that African countries can be well-guarded against these threats, and they can thrive.”

ECA is a UN regional commission established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958. ECA’s mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. Made up of 54 Member States, and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the Continent’s development challenges.

ECA’s strength derives from its role as the only UN agency mandated to operate at the regional and sub-regional levels to harness resources and bring them to bear on Africa’s priorities. To enhance its impact, ECA places a special focus on collecting up to date and original regional statistics in order to ground its policy research and advocacy on clear objective evidence; promoting policy consensus; providing meaningful capacity development; and providing advisory services in key thematic fields.

ARC consists of ARC Agency and ARC Insurance Company Limited (ARC Ltd). ARC Agency was established in 2012 as a Specialised Agency of the African Union to help Member States improve their capacities to better plan, prepare and respond to weather-related disasters. ARC Ltd is a mutual insurance facility providing risk transfer services to Member States through risk pooling and access to reinsurance markets; it is owned by Member States with active insurance policies as well as KfW Development Bank and the UK Department of International Development (DfiD), as capital contributors.

ARC plays an important role in responding to countries’ needs at times of crisis by providing fast access to funding for pre-agreed-upon, rapid response plans developed in conjunction with governments. ARC’s financing complements other forms of local and international support.

In the few years since ARC began, it has proved to be an effective and vital model – paying out USD $34 million to four countries (Senegal, Niger, Mauritania, and Malawi) affected by drought events. Those resources provided assistance for over two million people and approximately one million cattle.

ARC is using its expertise to help tackle some of the greatest threats faced by the continent, including droughts, outbreaks and epidemics, and tropical cyclones.

For more information, please visit: www.africanriskcapacity.org

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African Reinsurance Corporation joins Africa Finance Corporation
February 2, 2018 | 0 Comments
Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC with Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Africa Re

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC with Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Africa Re

LAGOS, Nigeria, 1 February 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- African Reinsurance Corporation (“Africa Re”) announces its membership of Africa Finance Corporation (“AFC”), and becomes the first multi-lateral financial institution to invest in AFC.

Africa Re, owned by 41 African states, approximately 107 insurance/reinsurance companies and non-African strategic investors, is the continent’s premier reinsurance corporation, operating across 41 African countries. Africa Re’s membership of AFC will be officially sealed at a signing ceremony to be held in Lagos, Nigeria, on February 1, 2018.

Africa Re’s membership of AFC advances AFC’s growth strategy for its country membership and greater diversification of its shareholding. In recent months, AFC has grown its country membership in Francophone, East and Southern Africa, with the accession in 2017 of Benin, Kenya and Zambia, respectively. AFC now seeks to consolidate this success by further expanding its shareholder base.

Andrew Alli, President and CEO of AFC commented: “We welcome African Reinsurance Corporation (Africa Re) as a member and shareholder of AFC. As the first multilateral financial institution to become a member of AFC, this is a key milestone for us, as the Corporation seeks to further diversify its shareholding. We are, therefore, pleased to welcome Africa’s premier reinsurance corporation into membership of AFC and look forward to collaborating with Africa Re to provide innovative solutions to the development and financing of infrastructure assets in Africa.”

Corneille Karekezi, Group Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer of Africa Re, commented: “As a Corporation with both private and public shareholders, we see many synergies with AFC in the pursuit of African continent development agenda as well as business growth. Indeed, we have long admired AFC, and the transformative impact it has made across many of the geographies in which we operate, whilst delivering competitive returns. We are therefore delighted to become a part of one of Africa’s best success stories.”

AFC, an investment grade multilateral finance institution, was established in 2007 with an equity capital base of US$1 billion, to be the catalyst for private sector-led infrastructure investment across Africa. With a current balance sheet size of approximately US$3.5 billion, AFC is the second highest investment grade rated multilateral financial institution in Africa with an A3/P2 (Stable outlook) rating from Moody’s Investors Service. AFC successfully raised US$750 million in 2015 and US$500 million in 2017; out of its Board-approved US$3 Billion Global Medium Term Note (MTN) Programme. Both Eurobond issues were oversubscribed and attracted investors from Asia, Europe and the USA.
AFC’s investment approach combines specialist industry expertise with a focus on financial and technical advisory, project structuring, project development and risk capital to address Africa’s infrastructure development needs and drive sustainable economic growth. AFC invests in high quality infrastructure assets that provide essential services in the core infrastructure sectors of power, natural resources, heavy industry, transport, and telecommunications. To date, the Corporation has invested approximately US$4 billion in projects within 28 countries across North, East, West and Southern Africa.
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Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director Wins a Prestigious Human Rights Award
January 31, 2018 | 0 Comments
Njeri has mentored many and her recent advances in the environmental protection crowns her lifelong commitment to human rights promotion and protection
NAIROBI, Kenya, January 30, 2018/ — Greenpeace Africa’s (www.Greenpeace.org/africa) Executive Director, Njeri Kabeberi, has won the 2017 Munir Mazrui ‘Lifetime Achievement Human Rights Defenders Award’ in a ceremony organised by the National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders (NCHRD-K) at the Royal Netherlands embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. This is one of three categories of Human Rights Defenders (HRD) Awards launched in 2016 to recognise and honour the work of human rights defenders in Kenya.

NCHRD-K is a national organization that promotes the safety and security of human rights defenders in Kenya through advocacy, capacity building and protection. It works in partnership with a Working Group on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, chaired by the Royal Netherlands Embassy.

Announcing the award, Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director of the HRDs coalition in Kenya said:

“Njeri is a selfless Woman Human Rights Defender who has broken chains of patriarchy to lead successful campaigns for justice, good governance and human rights in Kenya and beyond. Njeri has mentored many and her recent advances in the environmental protection crowns her lifelong commitment to human rights promotion and protection that deserves recognition and celebration.”

Upon receiving the award, Njeri Kabeberi said she was humbled and honoured.

“Despite having received a number of International Awards this is the first time I have been recognised in my own country – and since it is said that a ‘prophet is never recognised in their own home’, this then becomes the biggest victory and the sweetest award to date.”

“Human rights defenders’ work is lonely and hardly appreciated but I know that focus, persistence and resilience always cause the desired impact. We earn our freedom when we learn to face fear head on; that is what others call courage” continued Ms. Kabeberi.

Njeri’s activism career spans over three decades; as a young girl in 1982, she quietly began supporting mothers and wives of political prisoners but her human rights work was only thrown into limelight a decade later when she was invited to the late Prof. Wangari Maathai’s house to join the organization of the campaign to release Kenyan political prisoners.

With this long history in human rights activism, Njeri is now leading Greenpeace Africa into a new wave of environmental justice for Africans by Africans. Human rights is inextricably linked to climate change.

“If we won the human rights and governance battle, but lost our planet, we would have lost everything.”

“My current vision is to build an Environmental Movement in Africa so powerful that African citizens begin to take responsibility for their future. This can be achieved by restoring the continent through green pathways and seeking global environmental justice to mitigate climate change impacts” concluded Kabeberi.

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Africa Business and Investment Forum set for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
CCA President Florizelle Liser

CCA President Florizelle Liser

Washington, DC – January 29, 2018: A high level public- private sector dialogue on ways of supporting and promoting private-sector led growth in Africa will take place on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The African Business and Investment Forum will serve as a platform for African and U.S. private sector executives to share insights with African heads of state, ministers, senior USG officials, representatives of multilateral institutions and other stakeholders.

The one-day Forum will feature roundtable discussions on issues related to trade and diversification, energy, agribusiness, and health. This will ensure that private sector voices and views are heard by leaders and key stakeholders, and that the day-to-day challenges faced by private sector operators in Africa are addressed.

Among the more than 150 expected participants are Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn of Ethiopia; President Filipe Nyusi of Mozambique; President Paul Kagame of Rwanda; President Alpha Condé of Guinea; President Macky Sall of Senegal; President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda; President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger; President João Lourenço of Angola; and President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya; CEOs and senior executives of key U.S and African companies, both multinationals and SMEs will also attend.

In addition to providing a platform for a high-level public-private sector dialogue, the objectives of the Forum are to increase opportunities for business partnerships, secure commitments as well as track the adoption of business-friendly policies, and showcase countries and policies that are contributing to an enabling environment for enhanced African regional and global trade and investment, including with the United States.

The Africa Business and Investment Forum is organized by the Corporate Council on Africa (CCA) in partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA). ECA’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, and CCA’s President and CEO, Florizelle Liser, will be representing the two organizing institutions at the event.

CCA, as the premier U.S. business association solely focused on promoting U.S.-Africa trade, investment and business engagement, will bring its 23-year expertise of successfully providing insights, connections and access critical to U.S. and African businesses operating on the continent.

ECA provides a unique platform for intermediation between the public and the private sector policies and programs, offering solutions and support to accelerate sustainable private sector development on the continent.

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ARSENAL CLOSE IN ON £55M AUBAMEYANG SIGNING
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Chris Wheatley*

 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The 28-year-old is set to become the Gunners’ record signing just five months after they set that mark to secure Alexandre Lacazette

Arsenal are on the verge of completing the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund after the clubs agreed a £55 million (€63m) fee in principle, Goal understands.

Aubameyang, 28, has been subject of negotiations between the Gunners and Dortmund for several weeks, with Arsenal having refused to meet the Bundesliga side’s €70m asking price.

Goal understands the Gabon international has already agreed personal terms with the north Londoners, with an official announcement to arrive in the coming days.

The striker, who scored 31 league goals last season, was left out of two consecutive games for Dortmund after missing a team meeting, with head coach Peter Stoger accusing the frontman of not being focused.

However, Aubameyang started in Dortmund’s draw with Freiburg on Saturdayamid claims from the Bundesliga side that a transfer would be sanctioned if Arsenal reached “certain parameters”.

“We are ready to agree a transfer under certain parameters, but only if these are fully met,” sporting director Michael Zorc told German TV.

“We have a clear position. Arsenal has made several attempts so far. We have refused them all up to now.”

Aubameyang would join up with former Dortmund team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Arsenal after the Armenian joined in a swap deal which saw Alexis Sanchez head to Manchester United. The duo combined for 62 goals in all competitions two seasons ago.

This season, Aubameyang has scored 21 goals in 24 matches in all competitions. He has found the net 141 times since joining BVB from Saint-Etienne for €13m in July 2013, and he also has 23 goals in 56 caps for Gabon.

The 28-year-old’s on the verge of joining an Arsenal side that sit sixth in the Premier League table, five points off the pace in the race for the top four.

The Gunners were eliminated in their FA Cup third round meeting with Nottingham Forest earlier this month but have advanced to the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City and will face Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League last 32.

As previously reported, West Brom defender Jonny Evans is also a target at the Emirates Stadium, although a hamstring injury sustained at the weekend could see a transfer put on hold until the summer.

Evans is open to a move, but Arsenal may face a late battle, with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City also keen to land the former Manchester United player, depending on his fitness status.

*Source Goal

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Diafra Sakho: Striker leaves West Ham to join French club Rennes
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Diafra Sakho equalled Mick Quinn's Premier League record by scoring in each of his first six league starts

Diafra Sakho equalled Mick Quinn’s Premier League record by scoring in each of his first six league starts

West Ham forward Diafra Sakho has joined French Ligue 1 club Rennes for an undisclosed fee.

The 28-year-old Senegalese, who joined the Hammers from Metz in 2014, scored 24 goals in 71 games for the club.

Sakho’s career at West Ham began well as he equalled a Premier League record by scoring in his first six starts.

However, injuries hampered the rest of his time at the club and he has started only two Premier League matches since the start of the 2016-17 season.

*BBC

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China dismisses ‘absurd’ African Union HQ spying claim
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Chinese built the African Union headquarters, which opened in 2012

The Chinese built the African Union headquarters, which opened in 2012

China has dismissed reports it bugged the African Union (AU) headquarters as “preposterous”.

Kuang Weilin, the Chinese ambassador to the AU, told reporters in Ethiopia the “absurd” claim in France’s Le Monde was “very difficult to understand”.

He spoke out three days after the newspaper published an article claiming data from the Chinese-built AU building was being copied to Shanghai.

The article said the discovery resulted in all the AU servers being switched.

Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who claimed the alleged transfer was taking place late at night [link in French], and was only spotted in January 2017 due to the spike in activity between midnight and 02:00, despite no-one being in the building.

It was suggested the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was opened.

Officials also brought in security experts from Algeria to sweep the entire headquarters for potential bugs, the newspaper said, leading to the discovery of microphones in desks.

But Mr Kuang – who hailed the headquarters as a “monument” to his country’s relationship with the continent – said it was entirely untrue.

“I really question its intention,” he told reporters on Monday. “I think it will undermine and send a very negative message to people. I think it is not good for the image of the newspaper itself.

“Certainly, it will create problems for China-Africa relations.”

*BBC

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Can Kagame? The African Union
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame

The continental group of 55 countries has long sought to reduce its dependence on the West, with limited success. Will 2018 be different?

This week is Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s first as chairman of the AU’s Assembly, its top decision-making body. He plans to remake the notoriously sclerotic AU in his own image: lean and ruthlessly efficient. But first comes financial self-sufficiency, which means securing big commitments from African peers.

Last year member states funded just 14% of the AU’s budgeted programmes, well below the 75% they committed to in 2015. A 0.2% levy on imports into Africa might more than double revenues, but implementation has been slow; 21 countries have signed up, but only Ghana and Rwanda have enshrined it in law.

Mr Kagame wants tougher sanctions for recalcitrant members. But it will take deft diplomacy to overcome opposition from big economies like South Africa—a skill not all are convinced Mr Kagame possesses.

*Source The Economist

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Netanyahu scoffs at notion Rwanda unsafe for deported migrants
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

PM tells meeting of Likud ministers that the UN is already protecting 180,000 refugees in camps in the African country

By STUART WINER and TOI STAFF*

PM Netanyahu, left, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

PM Netanyahu, left, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers on Sunday that Rwanda is a fitting deportation destination for African asylum seekers as the United Nations is already taking care of nearly two hundred thousand refugees in the African state

At the opening of a meeting of Likud party ministers, Netanyahu addressed Israel’s plans to deport tens of thousands of African migrants to a third country.

The prime minister has praised deals to send migrants to third-party countries in Africa, but has refused to publicly divulge where they are. Media reports have focused on Rwanda and Uganda as the destination countries.

“There are 180,000 refugees sitting there under the protection of the UN, so the claims that it is dangerous are a joke,” Netanyahu said of Rwanda.

Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the so-called “Infiltrator’s Law” paving the way for the forced deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers starting in March, and the indefinite imprisonment of those who refuse to leave “voluntarily.”

There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20% are Sudanese, and the vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012. Many live in south Tel Aviv, and some residents and activists blame them for rising crime rates and have lobbied the government for their deportation.

The amendment has gained international attention and is fraught with controversy.

On Saturday a number of severed doll heads doused in red paint were left outside the Tel Aviv office of the Population, Immigration, and Border Authority (PIBA) in what appeared to be a protest move against the deportation plan.

Yossi Edelstein, PIBA’s head of enforcement and foreign affairs administration, complained Sunday that protests against the deportations had gotten out of hand and that opponents’ claims were rife with misleading information.

“What started as a protest became incitement and what happened yesterday in our offices in Tel Aviv is a result of that incitement,” Edelstein told Army Radio. “There are columnists who call for attacking [PIBA] workers. What have we come to? We have crossed every red line you can in protest and we crossed into incitement.”

While refusing to identify the specific countries the migrants will be sent to, he insisted that the destinations are safe and that PIBA operates a careful followup process.

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya, on January 22, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya, on January 22, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“In the last two weeks there has been false information published,” he told the radio station, dismissing supposed claims that Israel is sending asylum seekers to their deaths. “The High Court has examined those claims from every angle and found that the countries are safe.”

Rami Gudovich, a social worker dealing with asylum seekers, said that some 100 people who were deported by Israel to South Sudan have died, and that there have been several accounts of rape as well as mistreatment by local authorities.

“We are gambling with peoples’ lives,” Gudovich said, saying that some of the asylum seekers that Israel deported to South Sudan have been killed in the civil war there. Other were arrested by local authorities or are suffering because they no longer have access to the medicines and treatments available in Israel, he said.

Israeli rights activists and Jewish communities in the US have spoken out against the deportation plan.

Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and agreed to a demand that his country would only accept asylum-seekers Israel is looking to deport if the move was made in accordance with international law.

*The Times of Israel

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This is Africa too
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Enuma Okoro*

Aerial view of Lagos PHOTO: CLUTTONS

Aerial view of Lagos PHOTO: CLUTTONS

A few months ago, at a recent forum on ‘Africa and Media,’ I got into a vibrant discussion with another African writer about the types of stories we choose to tell about the continent. From my understanding of her viewpoint, she was concerned that in trying to “change the narrative” of Africa, people would begin to “whitewash” certain realities in Africa; like poverty, unemployment, hunger, and other destitute factors affecting many Africans across the continent, and which she felt, were the significant issues important to write about and the stories to be shared.

She said that as someone born and raised in Africa, she wasn’t interested in new narratives, what she referred to as “private jet owners” or “fashion stories,” that she felt stemmed from a colonial mentality of Africans’ need to justify themselves by western standards and for western eyes. To be honest, I listened in disbelief. But after having more discussions on this topic I’ve also found that quite a few people hold this opinion that there are certain narratives about Africa that should be prioritized out of a sense of responsibility to the continent’s continued development. However, this suggests to me a limited imagination only allowing room for extremes, and that given a choice between the two – poverty-stricken or successful and rising – people like this writer, feel it is more beneficial to tell the world about Africa’s poor, needy and destitute, than to promote narratives about a rich and diverse Africa. Because, the argument claims, people need to stay aware that Africa and her citizens are still in need of so much for basic survival and development.

Unfortunately, I vehemently disagreed with this line of thought, which led to my heated discussion with the writer. I have no fear of overwrought narratives of a poor and destitute Africa being whitewashed by narratives of a rich, vibrant and pulsating Africa replete with stylish and success-driven citizens and cities. On the contrary I think we need more of those sorts of stories and media portrayals to counter balance what already exists in popular cultural imaginations of the continent. But her comments did make me rethink something, that maybe instead of using the phrase, “change the narrative,” a more suitable term would be “expand the narrative,” because these stories that she and others are invested in telling are in fact true and necessary stories of Africa.

Poverty, hunger, unemployment, disease, lack of basic amenities is the reality for many people, and these stories do need to be told because ongoing awareness, action, development and change are essential for a more equitable continent. But the only problem is that the world is already more than familiar with these narratives. So familiar that many outside of Africa are tempted to think that this is the only true reality of the continent, that need and destitution is the only true story. It is one reason that people can jump on the bandwagon of such an ignorant, racist and disgraceful comment such as that made earlier this month by the 45th President of the United States of America. When few alternate narratives are made available, it only helps to continue to limit people’s imagination about Africa and what it means to be African. If we don’t make the effort to share our own stories and images about the multiple realties of the continent then we’re simply continuing to allow outsiders to shape the larger imagination of what it means to be African and what it means to live in Africa.

Which is why the role of writers, musicians, painters, photographers, filmmakers, essentially what I think of as culture-bearers is so powerful and necessary. It is possible to control our own narratives in a way that can radically shift global perceptions. On a whim, I created an Instagram page called @ThisIsAfricaToo, and posted a few pictures of images that show Africa in ways many people overseas probably are not used to seeing. As I go about my daily life in Nigeria and on my travels throughout the continent I will continue to share these images that show other sides of our cities and countries than people may be used to. They will be images that suggest more than one reality and more than one tried and trite narrative. I invite people to share their own photos of the beautiful and rich Africa they know, and to tag the Instagram handle @ThisIsAfricaToo. It’s a small action but a picture speaks a thousand words. That writer I engaged with earlier would question why we feel the need to shift global perspectives if we ourselves know what is true about ourselves. Well, to put it in a very elementary way, because Africa is not a continent in isolation from the rest of the world and the world needs to know and hear our multiple truths in order to engage us appropriately.

*Source The Guardian Nigeria

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African Heads of State Endorse New Measurement of Progress on Neglected Tropical Diseases Reaffirming Commitment to Health Equity
January 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
For the first time, annual African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Scorecard for Accountability and Action will reveal progress and gaps across five neglected diseases that affect countries’ poorest and most marginalised communities
Mectizan distribution in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai.

Mectizan distribution in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 28, 2018/ — Today, at the 30th African Union Heads of State Summit , the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) added neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to its annual scorecard on disease progress. The scorecard is personally reviewed by African heads of state every year, putting NTDs alongside malaria and maternal and child health as top health priorities for the continent.

Developed by the World Health Organization in collaboration with Uniting to Combat NTDs , this index reports progress for the 47 NTD-affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa in their strategies to treat and prevent the five most common NTDs: lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma. By adding NTDs to the scorecard, African leaders are making a public commitment to hold themselves accountable for progress on these diseases.

“My government is determined to make sure we can take ‘neglected’ out of these diseases,” said His Excellency, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn. “Improving the health, education and productivity of our poorest citizens by eliminating NTDs can put Africa on the path to prosperity and universal health coverage. I urge my fellow African leaders to build on the progress already made and increase their efforts to tackle NTDs to make them a subject for much concerted effort and action at the African Union.”

A Health Priority for Well Over A Billion

NTDs are a group of diseases that affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, often living in the most remote communities. More than 1.5 billion people are at risk for NTDs globally, including more than 620 million in Africa. Whilst NTDs cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, their primary impact is on the millions that are left trapped in endless cycles of poverty. They cause blindness, disfigurement, disability, stigma and discrimination. Parents are left unable to work and children unable to go to school.

Fortunately, the five diseases that are being monitored in the ALMA scorecard respond well to cheap, safe medicines, which are donated by pharmaceutical companies and are broadly distributed to treat and prevent the diseases. As a result of a global public-private coalition, more people than ever before are being treated for NTDs, and the number of people at risk of infection globally has dropped by more than 400 million in the last five years.

Good NTD coverage also promotes universal health coverage: NTD programs have trained over a million health workers and brought a variety of services, including family planning tools and vitamins, to people in remote communities otherwise unreached by the health system. This connection is discussed in more length in Uniting to Combat NTDs’ recent progress report, “Reaching a Billion: Ending Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Gateway to Universal Health Coverage,” launched last month.

“When it comes to diseases that affect the very poorest and most marginalised communities, it is up to political leaders to make them a priority,” said Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Director, Uniting to Combat NTDs Support Centre. “Beating NTDs is essential for Africa’s economic development, and we are thrilled that African Heads of State will be reviewing their progress every year and holding themselves accountable for equitable health outcomes.”

Progress in Africa, But More to Do

The scorecard shows the evidence of progress in Africa:

  • In 2016, 40 million more people were reached with preventive treatment for at least one NTD than the year before.
  • More than half of all countries improved their coverage index between 2015 and 2016, with 12 countries having doubled their coverage index.
  • Togo was certified by WHO as eliminating lymphatic filariasis, Malawi has stopped treatment for lymphatic filariasis and is in the process of being validated by WHO, and both Ghana and the Gambia report having eliminated trachoma.

While most data points to progress, the scorecard shows areas of concern. Nearly two-thirds of countries have a NTD coverage index of less than 50%. The percentage of affected countries implementing disease-specific interventions ranges from 92% for trachoma to just 72% for schistosomiasis, suggesting that there is still much more to do.

“Beating NTDs will help lift millions out of poverty, improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. There is a huge amount at stake and we know that eradicating these diseases is too big a job for one sector alone,” said Tanya Wood, chair of the NTD NGO Network and CEO of the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations. “With the ALMA initiative driving accountability and action, and new cross-sector partnerships like the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy  combining expertise, we are getting closer to a world where NTDs are neglected no more.”

African Leadership in Health
Established in 2009, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a groundbreaking initiative, established by heads of state themselves and designed to foster collaboration in order to solve a crisis that affects the entire continent. The ALMA Scorecard empowers national leaders to battle Africa’s most devastating diseases by:

  • Providing a forum to review progress and address challenges in meeting the malaria targets.
  • Implementing a monitoring and accountability system through the ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action to track results, identify bottlenecks, and facilitate appropriate action.
  • Identifying and sharing lessons learned for effective implementation of national programs.

Because some NTDs are transmitted in the same manner as malaria, and shared community distributions platforms are used for both malaria and NTDs, ALMA has chosen to include NTDs in its scorecard.

“Malaria and NTDs both lay their heaviest burden on the poor, rural and marginalised. They also share solutions, from vector control to community-based treatment,” said Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary, ALMA. “Adding NTDs to our scorecard will help give leaders the information they need to end the cycle of poverty and reach everyone, everywhere with needed health care.”

The addition of the index happens just before the 6th anniversary on 30 January of the London Declaration on NTDs  a multi-sectoral partnership of pharmaceutical companies, donors, endemic countries and non-governmental organizations committed to control, eliminate or eradicate 10 diseases by 2020.

About Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Neglected tropical diseases affect the poorest, most marginalised and most remote communities in the world. They are a consequence and cause of poverty as they thrive where access to clean water, sanitation and health care is limited. Their impact on individuals and communities can be devastating. Many of them cause severe disfigurement and disabilities. They impact on life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals and the communities they live in.

African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (http://APO.af/ZupcNu) is a groundbreaking coalition of 49 African Heads of State and Government working across country and regional borders to eliminate malaria by 2030. They leverage collective knowledge and influence to bring about action and accountability to fight the continent’s most devastating diseases.

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Uniting to Combat NTDs (http://UnitingToCombatNTDs.org) is a group of organizations committed to achieving WHO’s 2020 goal to control and eliminate 10 NTDs. By working together, Uniting to Combat NTDs aims to chart a new course toward health and sustainability among the world’s poorest communities. Affiliated organizations have signed the London Declaration on NTDs, which was launched on 30 January 2012.

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