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Rwanda and Uganda agree to release illegally detained citizens
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

From left, President Museveni of Uganda, president João Lourenço of Angola, president Kagame of Rwanda and president Félix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda and Uganda have agreed to release imprisoned citizens of each other, a question that had marred  relations of both countries since 2017.

Both countries came to the agreement this Sunday, the 2nd February 2020  in the quadripartite summit held in Luanda Angola, on mediation of president João Lourenço and Félix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo.

In an issued communique released after summit, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Museveni of Rwanda agreed  “release of the national citizens of each country duly identified and included in the lists exchanged for this purpose.”

Though the communique sums up all in general, only Rwanda had been complaining of its citizens being illegally arrested, detained and tortured by Uganda security forces.

In March last year, Rwanda was counting hundreds who were  in Uganda’s prisons and safe houses.

Rwanda also alleges Uganda of supporting groups  aimed at destabilizing Rwanda while Uganda accuses Rwanda of sending spies on its territory.

Luanda summit resolved that “Both parties must refrain from factors that may create perception of supporting, financing, training and infiltration of destabilizing forces in their neighbor’s territory.”

“Both parties must continue to protect and respect the human rights of national citizens of the other party”, it adds

Rwanda and Uganda’s impasse has hurt economy especially in terms of business. The busy border of Gatuna in north of Rwanda was closed and movement of goods and people reduced.

It was the easiest way for goods coming from Mombasa port in Kenya through Kampala to Kigali.

Last week president Kagame told diplomats in Kigali that Uganda begged him to open the border and he refused because he is yet to be sure that Rwandans are safe in Uganda.

Luanda summit decided that  the next quadripartite summit will take place in Gatuna in the common border between Rwanda and Uganda and it is slated  on the 21st February 2020.

Since March this year, Rwanda had advised its nationals to avoid crossing to Uganda, over ill treatment they may get if they enter.

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda in August last year  signed memorandum of understanding to end years of hostilities between the two countries.

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7th edition of Common sense Solution to promote Peace in Cameroon comes up February 7
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The common sense solution to promote peace in Cameroon was in its sixth edition in Bamenda with similar events organized in Dschang, Yaounde, Douala, Limbe, and Buea. (1)
The common sense solution to promote peace in Cameroon was in its sixth edition in Bamenda with similar events organized in Dschang, Yaounde, Douala, Limbe, and Buea.

The 7th edition of the peace event organize by the Nkafu Policy Institute will come up this February 7, 2020, in Douala, Littoral Region of the country. The event will be held under the theme, “Common sense solutions to promote peace in Cameroon- The role of youths, and the civil society.

The peace event like similar ones organized in Yaounde, Douala, Dschang, Limbe, Buea, and Bamenda.

The event will bring together people of various backgrounds to seek to propose citizen oriented solutions through which Cameroon can accelerate its progress towards the resolution of the current conflicts plaguing the country.

Cameroon is presently grappling with numerous issues such as the refugee crisis in the country’s East region, the Boko Haram insurgency in the country’s North, the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions.

For the past three years the Cameroon’s defense and security forces have been fighting separatist fighters in the North West and South west Regions. The crisis has led to many killed, maimed, kidnapped for ransom, while others have become refugees or internally displaced persons.

The crisis has equally had a devastating impact on workers of the Cameroon Development Corporation, CDC — the second most employer in the country. Many have lost their jobs, and others have gone for years now without salaries.  The 3,715 hectares of banana plantation of the CDC, which employs about 7,000 people in the banana industry has been abandoned.

Several businesses have been closed down in the Anglophone regions, industries burnt, local, and foreign investors have deserted these regions.

During the last event organized in Bamenda on December 19, 2019, Cameroonians said the government should dialogue with the leaders of this movement (Separatist leaders) to solve the crisis.

They equally noted that the government cannot seek to solve a crisis which they are still shying away from it, not accepting there is a crisis in the Regions, and deciding to implement cosmetic changes which only going to rub salt on the present injury.

They note that a genuine, well sought out dialogue measures backed by international bodies such as the UN, USA, France, Britain, can be the only way out of this present impasse ongoing in the region that has led to many losing their lives.

The conflict has severely hurt the timber, agro-industry, cocoa, energy, telecommunications, tourism, and transport sectors

According to the United Nations, as of November 2019, more than 2,000 people have died, as many as 71 0,000 people have been internally displaced, and 44,000 refugees have fled to neighboring Nigeria due to the ongoing conflict in the Northwest and Southwest. Roughly 2.6 million people in these areas are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and more than 855,000 children, the majority of whom are internally displaced, do not have access to education.

The Cameroon Anglophone crisis has led to thousands of displaced persons, kidnapped, and others killed
The Cameroon Anglophone crisis has led to thousands of displaced persons, kidnapped, and others killed

During the event, major topics will be looked at such as the Refugee crisis in the East Region of Cameroon, the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions, and the role of the Youths and Civil Society Organization in the promotion of peace in Cameroon.

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Cameroon: Opportunities are not given to startups that have nothing -Entrepreneurs say
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The event focused on examining governmental support to entrepreneurs in Cameroon, access to finance, tax registration requirements and declaration procedures for SMEs in Cameroon
The event focused on examining governmental support to entrepreneurs in Cameroon, access to finance, tax registration requirements and declaration procedures for SMEs in Cameroon

Entrepreneurs have said they face difficulties accessing finance as financial institutions require bankable projects or collateral to finance projects. As such, opportunities are not afforded to startups that have nothing.

The entrepreneurs were speaking during the 2020 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Networking Forum organized by the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Centre of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation at ActivSpaces, Immeuble Tecno, Boulevard de la Liberte Akwa, in Douala.

The forum organized with support from the Canadian Funds for Local Initiatives had as theme “The Pivotal Role of Business Networking to Entrepreneurs in Cameroon” and focused on examining governmental support to entrepreneurs in Cameroon, access to finance, tax registration requirements and declaration procedures for SMEs in Cameroon as well as accessibility of business Consultants to Entrepreneurs in Cameroon.

Panelists speaking during the event encouraged participants to implement functional ideas instead of copying from developed countries and forgetting about practicality. Participants also suggested government supports incubation projects in public & private structures to ensure ideas can be transformed to concrete projects.

The panelists equally made known that networking is one of the very important pillars of construction development. It is a consistent effort that brings together entrepreneurs and other agencies to engage in developmental efforts.

“It was actually a wonderful time of exchanges, and we actually spoke much and had to put an accent on the recent regulation and legislation in the finance sector in Cameroon, and the CEMAC Sub Region,” Tataw Kenneth, moderator on the module on access to finance

“We were trying to let our entrepreneurs know how they can raise finance without necessarily depending on banks and microfinance. What I mostly told them was to be able to do startups by gathering funds themselves. They could start with the little they have and then later in they may invest the profit, or they could go partnering; you partner with somebody maybe who has the same idea with you.”

“With the little you have maybe you can make it, or maybe you do investment that is you have the idea, but you can have somebody who has the finance and is ready to partner with the business and make it grow,” Yvonne Ngem, facilitator.

To a participant, “… It was a lucrative programme as opinions were shared on how businesses can grow. Entrepreneurs need to be strong to be able to move ahead as things in Cameroon are done manually. We are looking at avenues where things will be done automatically. We need young entrepreneurs to take things further as we are in a new decade.

Ndikomnui Nigel, Consultant and Tax expert said “many people need to know how to register their taxes, and how to do about it, so they should not get stuck at the level of the declaration procedures. This is a consistent education that needs to be done to educate entrepreneurs.” 

Panelists all left with the wish that the Foretia team keeps organizing such events for entrepreneurs, so they can get information on various aspects discussed. To them, many governmental supports are not well known by the entrepreneurs because there is a lack of communication.

According to the Small Business and entrepreneurship Center (SBEC), entrepreneurial and small business networking has substantially increased in volume during the last years. The interest has been driven both from the entrepreneurial side, where businesses inter-link rapidly and form network configurations and from the policy side, where governments have implemented a variety of policies to encourage economic growth through self-employment and to support small businesses.

Participants and panelists at the conclusion of the 2020 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Networking Forum organized by SBEC
Participants and panelists at the conclusion of the 2020 Small Business and Entrepreneurship Networking Forum organized by SBEC

Entrepreneurial and small business networks usually represent dispersed and varied networks with uncertain boundaries and resource-based or role-based division of labor. They are comprised of autonomous agents that are linked to each other via various formal and informal contracts, who design collective strategies and share information. In addition, create partnerships with government agencies, banks, and Microfinance Institutions to access finance. 

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Coronavirus: What about Africans stuck in China?
February 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Raïssa Girondin

Raïssa Girondin

Several countries, including France, the United States, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka, are trying to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the new coronavirus was first reported. The new coronavirus has reportedly left at least 360 dead while an estimated 17,000 have been contaminated.

But what about the Africans there?

Initial reports say a Cameroonian student from Jingzhou city in Hubei province has been diagnosed with the new coronavirus. According to his university press release dated February 2, 2020, he is responding well to treatment at the hospital.

I would like to draw attention to the difficulties the African community in China faces and the deafening silence of the respective countries for any attempt to bring their citizens home for treatment or a as a precautionary measure.

Apart from Morocco and Algeria, which have sent planes to repatriate their fellow citizens – 167 Moroccans, 36 Algerians, 10 Tunisians and a few Libyans subject to a fortnight of observation -, the other African countries have yet to make similar efforts like the North African counterparts.

African students from Wuhan to Beijing describe a pretty morbid atmosphere, and are afraid to go out because the virus is transmitted by air. And yet, to feed, you have to go out! But then again, you have to wear a mask, gloves and, according to an African who has lived in the Chinese capital for several decades, “disinfect oneself with alcohol at 90 ° or even with bleach on the way home”. These latter protective items are out of stock in stores, and food is scarce.  You may starve if you don’t wake up early to go to do grocery shopping.

As time goes by, they will encounter real difficulties and therefore call for help to get them out of the affected and quarantined areas. The psychological pressure is great, staying confined to the house for an indefinite period brings a lot of anxiety or a cabin fever even could create psychosis.

Some African embassies in Beijing have already requested financial assistance from their respective governments for their communities. “Our needs are more than financial,” said an African student. “What to do with money on my account in a deserted city? The city of Wuhan is quarantined because it is the epicentre of the virus, therefore highly infected. No matter how many millions I have, this sum will not be of much use to me (…) if I cannot find a place that is holy and reassuring enough to stock up on supplies,” he added in a letter to his embassy.

Media silence in the face of an African Chinese puzzle

When I watched the news on France 24, I had tears in my eyes when I saw these French parents reassured to find their newly repatriated children. What about the parents of these young Africans who remained confined to China without any way out? Have we thought about ascertaining how they are doing?

One should know that China is the second destination chosen by young Africans after France for their university studies. The number of African students residing in China was 80,000 in 2018 according to figures provided by the Chinese Ministry of Education, a figure which will sure increase. This, as the Chinese government decided to grant 50,000 university scholarships to the African continent until 2021.

On January 30, WHO declared an international emergency in response to the epidemic. The Chinese authorities do not envisage the end of this situation before June 2020. Several questions bother me … what prevents African countries from coming together and establishing a strategic emergency plan for their citizens with their Chinese partners for practical, adequate and immediate solutions?

After talking on the phone with an African diplomat based in Beijing, I could understand that several factors hindered repatriation: first, the lack of medical means and reception facilities to welcome African nationals in their respective countries . Indeed, on the spot, they should be put in solitary confinement for two weeks, with an inherent risk of spreading the new coronavirus on the African continent.

Is it necessary to leave its nationals at the epicentre of a global epidemic in view of the tensions over local resources, isn’t it more dangerous?

On the other hand, the diplomatic puzzle: systematically repatriating African nationals could cast doubt on the ability of the Chinese to master and manage the crisis. The concern is all the more greater as China is Africa’s largest trading partner.

Open-mouthed diplomacy even on matters of life and death?

Do we not de facto condemn all those who are not – yet – infected by leaving them in Wuhan? Is leaving these Africans the only way to prevent the virus from arriving on the continent? Not sure what you mean..

So far, no cases of coronavirus have been reported in Africa.

To limit the risk of contamination by travellers from China, the airports of African capitals are strengthening their sanitary facilities. Several countries such as Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa and even Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire have implemented preventive measures at airports for flights from China in order to diagnose possible cases of coronavirus.

However, Chinese travellers from Wuhan or other Chinese cities have been or are allowed to travel to major African cities. The question of control and observation in this case arises. In Mauritania, for example, it was the Chinese Embassy that asked its recently arrived nationals to remain confined for at least 14 days to prevent the possible spread of the new coronavirus. What are the arrangements that African states themselves make on their territory? Why are Africans left behind in the epicentre of the virus?

I call for a real pan-African awareness. On February 9 and 10, African heads of state will meet in Ethiopia for the annual summit of the African Union. So this is an opportunity for a solution to be found for this community in China … before it is too late.

*Raïssa Girondin is a freelance journalist, specialist in African issues. She previously worked for the Voice of America, based in the United States, where she anchored Washington Forum television debate, and the radio news.  Prior to her position at VOA, she was a TV news anchor in French-language for the Chinese state media CGTN in Beijing. She started her journalist career in the press in Paris with Amina, the magazine for African women and earlier with the French group Lagardère as a communication professional.

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The War in Libya Will Never End
February 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Vijay Prashad*

Head of the Libyan GNA Fayez al-Sarraj (L) and commander of the LNA Khalifa Haftar. (AFP)
Head of the Libyan GNA Fayez al-Sarraj (L) and commander of the LNA Khalifa Haftar. (AFP)

General Khalifa Haftar and his Libyan National Army (LNA) continue to partly encircle Libya’s capital, Tripoli. Not only does the LNA threaten Tripoli, but it is within striking distance of Libya’s third-largest city, Misrata. Both Tripoli and Misrata are in the hands of the Government of National Accord (GNA), which is backed by the United Nations and—most strongly—by Turkey. The second-largest city—Benghazi—is in the hands of Haftar’s LNA. Haftar’s LNA is backed by Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Russia. There has always been a whiff of suspicion that Haftar himself is an old CIA asset—having lived under the shadow of the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, for decades. What the NATO war on Libya did to that country is to turn it into a battlefield of other people’s ambitions, to reduce Libya into a chessboard for a multidimensional game that is hard to explain and even harder to end.

LNA vs. GNA

On January 19, the United Nations and the German government held a conference in Berlin on the Libyan question. Curiously, the two belligerent parties from Libya were in Berlin but did not attend the conference. General Haftar of the LNA and Fayez Serraj of the GNA stayed in their hotels to be briefed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the UN representative on Libya Ghassan Salamé. In 2012, the UN had said that no conference should be held that is not “inclusive” and does not have the stakeholders at the table. Nonetheless, the point of this exercise was not so much to create a deal within Libya as to stop the import of arms and logistics into Libya. “We commit to refraining from interference in the armed conflict or in the internal affairs of Libya,” agreed the external parties, “and urge all international actors to do the same.” External backers of each of the sides—Egypt, France, Russia, Turkey, the United States—were all signatories of this agreement. You can imagine that none of them will take it seriously.

Merkel hastened to Istanbul after the Berlin conference to solidify the pact she has made with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who then flew to Algeria to say that he would not appreciate external intervention into Libya. It is not Erdoğan alone who sounded bewildering—all the other leaders who came to Berlin made similar remarks. You stay out of Libya, they said, but we will have to be involved in any way we think appropriate. Turkey has provided the GNA with arms and logistical assistance, and it has helped bring a few hundred Syrian jihadis to Libya to assist the GNA-backed militias.

The UN released a statement recently with a clear indication that the deal is not worth its paper. “Over the last ten days,” the UN notes, “numerous cargo and other flights have been observed landing at Libyan airports in the western and eastern parts of the country providing the parties with advanced weapons, armoured vehicles, advisers and fighters.” It does not name the countries that continue to violate the embargo, but everyone knows who they are.

Emboldened by his backers, Haftar’s forces tested the GNA and its assorted militia groups in the outskirts of Misrata over the past few days. The LNA had taken up positions in al-Wishka, but they made a foray into Abu Grein, which is on the road to Misrata. The ceasefire that was supposed to be honored was violated, as the GNA Army’s spokesperson Mohammed Gununu said on Sunday. Haftar’s spokesperson Ahmed al-Mismari said that there is no political solution for Libya; the only solution is through “rifles and ammunition.” It is a clear statement that this war is not going to be ended at the UN or in Berlin. It will have to end in Misrata and in Tripoli.

Turkey vs. Saudi Arabia

Several years ago, when it became clear that Libyans who were close to the Muslim Brotherhood might come to power, Saudi Arabia went to work against them. The Saudis have made it clear that they will not tolerate any more Muslim Brotherhood forces coming to power in North Africa or West Asia. The Saudi embargo on Qatar, the Saudi interference in Tunisia, the Saudi intervention in Egypt to remove the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi, and now the Saudi backing of Haftar provides a clear indication of the Saudi intention to rid the region of the Muslim Brotherhood. Turkey and Qatar have been the main sponsors of the Muslim Brotherhood; Saudi Arabia has dented Qatar’s ambition, but it has not been able to tether Turkey. The war in Libya is—apart from the clueless intervention of the Europeans—a war between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, with Russia playing a curious role in between these powers.

Neither Saudi Arabia nor Turkey will relinquish their backing of the LNA and the GNA, respectively. No one makes any public noises about this, although everyone knows that it is these powers that are behind this horrendous new phase of the conflict ever since NATO entered Libya in 2011 and sent the country into a situation of permanent war. The UN has done the calculations. Since April, in Tripoli alone there are 220 schools closed and at least 116,000 children with no education. Schools, universities, hospitals—all working on reduced hours or closed.

Oil and Refugees

Haftar made his move on Tripoli in April 2019. He felt that he not only had the backing of the most important powers, but that he had already taken charge of several oil fields and squeezed the Tripoli government. His rush to Tripoli, dramatic in the first few weeks, then stalled in the outskirts of the capital. He is obdurate, unconcerned that his war will simply continue the attrition of social life that had begun in the 1990s and accelerated after the NATO war in 2011.

On January 19, the LNA and its allies seized the Sharara and El Feel oil fields; both of them produce a third of Libya’s oil, Sharara being the largest single field in this country. Oil production from Libya fell to less than 300,000 barrels per day from over a million barrels per day previous. The Libyan National Oil Company—controlled by the government in Tripoli—has now forced an embargo on oil exports from Libya. This is a blow to Europe, which relies on the sweet Libyan oil as much as it has relied upon Iranian and Russian energy sources—both blocked by U.S.-driven sanctions.

European Hypocrisy

Europe wants the oil but does not want the refugees. A UN report was recently released on the LNA’s bombardment of a refugee detention center in Tajoura on July 2, 2019. That attack, by LNA aircraft, killed 53 migrants and refugees who had come from Algeria, Chad, Bangladesh, Morocco, Niger, and Tunisia. After the jet dropped its bombs on the Daman complex, there were “bodies everywhere, and body parts sticking out from under the rubble. Blood [was] all around.” The migrants and refugees who survived remained in the complex. Four days later, they went on hunger strike. There have been several murders since July 2019, mainly of refugees shot by guards as they tried to leave the various detention centers that sit along the Libyan coastline and in Tripoli. There is no proper account of the total number of refugees and migrants in detention.

The European Union (EU) has been paying the Tripoli government and militia groups to hold these refugees and migrants in Libya rather than let them travel across the Mediterranean Sea. Europe has taken no responsibility for its role in the NATO war in 2011, which destabilized Libya; it has, instead, militarized the refugee crisis in Libya by using the militias. Operation Sophia of the EU brought European ships into the Mediterranean Sea to stop oil and refugee smuggling from Libya to Europe; there is now interest in restarting this policy. In Berlin, the EU’s High Representative Josep Borrell told the Süddeutsche Zeitung that “Libya is a cancer whose metastases have spread across the entire region.” This is the attitude of Europe: how to contain the crisis and let it remain within the Libyan borders. It is a shocking statement.

I Have No Illness

In the midst of Libya’s war against Italian colonialism a century ago, the poet Rajab Hamad Buhwaish al-Minifi wrote a poem—“Ma Bi Marad” (“No Illness but This Place”)—about the torment of his society. This is a poem that is often recited, never far from the lips of Libyans who know their long and difficult history. The line that repeats often in the poem, “Ma bi marad ghair marad al-Egaila” (“I have no illness but this place of Egaila”), seems apt for Libya today, a people abandoned to this war that will never end, a people buried in oil and fear, a people who are in search of the home that has been taken from them.

*This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (The New Press, 2007), The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South (Verso, 2013), The Death of the Nation and the Future of the Arab Revolution (University of California Press, 2016) and Red Star Over the Third World (LeftWord, 2017). He writes regularly for Frontline, the Hindu, Newsclick, AlterNet and BirGün.

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Nigeria:Mischievous Twisting Of President Buhari’s Comments On Insecurity
February 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Femi Adesina*

President Buhari

It has become compelling to react to a mischievous slant being given by both the traditional and social media to the comments of President Muhammadu Buhari on the security challenges in some parts of the country.

On Monday, while hosting Eminent and Respected Citizens of Niger State at State House, Abuja, the President had said:

“I was taken aback by what is happening in the North West and other parts of the country. During our campaigns, we knew about the Boko Haram. What is coming now is surprising. It is not ethnicity or religion, rather it is one evil plan against the country.

“We have to be harder on them. One of the responsibilities of government is to provide security. If we don’t secure the country, we will not be able to manage the economy properly.”

The reportage of the statement above was slanted to mean that President Buhari said he was unaware of the security challenges in some parts of the country. Far from it, except to the mischievous mind. The President is fully aware and fully in charge of all that is going on.
The statement by the President was clear enough, and these are the salient points:

· In 2015, we knew there was Boko Haram insurgency, particularly in the North-east, and we mentioned it in our campaigns. There are clear economic and cultural factors behind the clashes that sadly rocked many of our communities, be they the Fulani-Tiv or Fulani-Berom conflict, the Tiv versus Jukun and so on. By now, these conflicts are fairly under control.

· By 2019, banditry had surfaced in the North-West. It was surprising, as the area is almost homogeneous, made up of Hausa-Fulanis. The combatants are largely Muslim. This is what the President said he was surprised about.

· The point he made was that what is happening in the country is not about ethnicity or religion, it is plainly an evil plan against the nation.

It is disingenuous that the earlier and latter parts of the statement were downplayed, and the middle part misinterpreted to mean that President Buhari was unaware or surprised by the security situation in the country.

The traditional media, and commentators on social media, are encouraged to keep fidelity to the truth, and not concoct narratives to suit some sinister motives.

It is all about our country, and deliberately misrepresenting the President hurts not just the country, but the mischief makers themselves, ultimately.

*Femi Adesina is Special Adviser to the President (Media and Publicity)

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Tim Olkonnen Scoffs at Zimbabwe’s Sanctions Imposed by EU As He Gives Evidence of 10 million EURO Donation for ZEPA Project Launch
February 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

European Union Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Timo Olkkonen with President Mnangagwa

European Union in a tentative move meant to boost Trade relations with Zimbabwe has launched the Zimbabwe Economic Partnership Agreement Support Programme. [ZEPA]  .The 10  million EURO injection  huge amount is equivalent to 11-million [USD] dollar.

The amount seeks to assist the country with the implementation of the Zimbabwe European Union Free Trade Agreement, which embodies the Economic Partnership Agreement. Timo Olkonnen puts it straight that ZEPA is set to enhance Zimbabwe’s Integration in the region, a move more robust to increase business boom.

Olkonnen however scoffed at the talk that European Union applied market access restrictions to Zimbabwe. He reiterated giving evidence through the light of the launch. Olkonnen made it clear that the talk of sanctions by EU on Zimbabwe is false information.

‘’I would like to remind you that EU never , never at all applied market access restrictions to Zimbabwe . There is no, There were never sanctions of this kind.

‘’EU has made relations with the African , Caribbean and Pacific countries .We established free trade areas with regional groupings . This gave  birth of the  Economic Partnership Agreement [EPA] which aims to allow ACP countries continue export their products to the EU without restrictions’’ We however has ensured compliance with  the World Tourism Organisation’’ .

The Agreement Tim gave a strong emphasise pointing straight to the point of integration in the Region.

‘’This is meant to enhance Zimbabwe’s integration into the region. It is also meant to penetrate the International markets thereby increasing volumes of exports between EU and Zimbabwe. This is the 11th European Union Development Fund. It started in 2018.

Olkonnen adds that the support focuses on improvements in policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks. It is also set to develop capacity of trade institutions to manage trade policy and agreements. The improvement of trade facilitation by reducing cost and time of trading across boarders remains important.  It is also vital to look at competitiveness and export capacity of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in selected value chains.

Olkonnen speaking in Harare at a gathering of top delegates from Business World, Associations, implementing partners, Government officials and media further added a point taken in time that ZEPA has resources ready to be deployed to increase business reforms. He gave more light to the talk when he said there is need to do away with regulations, procedures, permits and licence requirements. These, he said are raising cost of exporting rendering Zimbabwe’s exports competitiveness.

‘’ZEPA project has resources ready to be deployed to   increase business climate reforms. This is meant to do away with number of regulations, procedures, permits and licence requirements which are raising the cost of exporting rendering Zimbabwe’s exports un-competitiveness.’’

At the same launch Dr SB Moyo Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade said Zimbabwe has by all means taken time to put more effort in bringing output out of input through support given by EU. He added that Economic Partnership Agreements are a move meant to reduce trade barriers and foster economic growth and development.

‘’EPA allows Zimbabwe to exempt 20% of imports from Liberalisation. It is up to the Government to decide which products are excluded. Some of the products are textiles, clothing, dairy products, cereals and vehicles.’’

Giving support to Olkonnen’s words, Minister Moyo said more than half of 51 of the ACP countries have signed EPA. Some of the agreements are interim, others are final and seven are already under provisional application. Six Eastern and Southern African countries Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Seychelles, Zambia and Comoros concluded an interim economic partnership Agreement end of 2007. Four of these countries signed in 2009.

‘’Zimbabwe was the first to sign. This is a long way, strong move towards economic growth and development. We are provided opportunity to negotiate on investments opportunities in the eyes of smart partnerships for sustainable development. There are negotiations to deepen and strengthen EPA Agreements. As a country as well, we are a way forward in terms of economic growth.’’

‘’We really thank EU for setting aside EURO 10 million dollars to support us implement EPA through Zimbabwe ZEPA. The project runs up to 2022. It is already under implementation. Its overall objective is to enhance Zimbabwe’s integration into the region, a move meant to boost regional and international trade ‘’ said DR SB Moyo .

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CAN Brouhaha: Apostle Suleiman Apologizes To Femi Adesina
February 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

Nigeria’s unity is sacrosanct: The unity and togetherness of Nigeria is sacrosanct. Our collective peace is non-negotiable.

I personally bleed when I hear drumbeats of war and yearnings for the dissolution of Nigeria, either from tribal or political overviews. No nation remains the same after war. Therefore, we can’t be fanning the embers and heating the polity of revolution or dissolution.

On constructive criticism/ pro-good governance:

Growing up as an aspiring journalists, late Dele Giwa was my role model, especially owing to his approach and activism mentality. Also, whilst growing up as a journalist, Femi Adesina was my view of an extreme perfect gentleman whom I loved from afar until we met at Government House, Rivers state, when former Governor and now Transport Minister, Rotimi Amaechi, made our acquaintance.

Sadly, in Nigeria and especially under this current administration, anyone who speaks truth to power is termed partisan or political; some even say such a person hates President Muhammadu Buhari. But how can a man hate his president? That’s giving a dog a bad name just to hang it.

Let me give you a few shockers, sir, which many Nigerians don’t even know. My biological father is an APC chieftain; a major frontline and stakeholder in Edo state politics with the ruling party.

The governor and the deputy governor of Edo state are very close to me and the national chairman is my brother. Yet, we all relate well and they worship in our church whenever they are around because they separate issues from the relationship. That is principle sir!

I have built schools and given to governments, fixed government roads and rehabilitated people who were convicted. These are verifiable as you can ask my state governor. If I hate this government, I won’t do all that.

Wrong notion of the president:

Also, I hear people erroneously say the president is a religious bigot. I am shocked! How can that be? A very good friend of mine recently spoke to me about president Buhari and I told her my views of him and she laughed. And that evening, President Mumhamadu Buhari called me on phone and we exchanged pleasantries. And, at the end, I prayed with him in Jesus name and he said Amen! Tell me, which religious bigot does that?

So, seeing what is happening now tells me that he is surrounded by people who are painting him wrongly before some who aren’t privileged to know him. Or has he changed from being whom I knew him to be then?

When he was sick, I called all our church members in the 58 nations of the world where we have branches to pray for his speedy recovery and homecoming.

Also, a few weeks ago, I tweeted against Nigerians insulting and using demeaning verbal assertion on the person of the president. I mean, If not for anything, his age should be respected. But I came under fire and was taken to the cleaners for defending the president. But I ignored the backlash because, if you wrestle with a pig, you will be stained but the pig would enjoy it.

On Insecurity and issue of CAN:

Sir, when I read your response to CAN, two things came to mind: I asked myself, must the allure of power make you antagonistic of church leaders whilst your colleague is protecting his? I equally felt your response was ill-timed, knowing these leaders where mourning. I apologise if it came out wrongly or rudely.

John 13.35 says, “by this shall all men know you are my disciples if ye have love to one another.” Some say clerics or the clergy should stay off politics; I think the right word should be that clerics should not be partisan.

Remember that in the last administration, we spoke truth to power, even in a more corrosive and acidic manner than we do now. But it wasn’t a big deal for them because that administration was tolerant and ignored most things said. Therefore, this government should stop responding to everything. The best way to respond to complaints is to give result, not explanations, insults or counter upper-cut.

Condemning killings does not amount to being political! Every other thing is left for politicians to handle but ensuring the safety of lives and property is the responsibility of every Nigerian.

In every clime where you have principled men, criticism is inescapable. We must take it in its stride. Also, rational discourse is now a practical impossibility in Nigeria because you will be termed anti-this and or pro that.

It hurts to see certain folks remotely connected to some issues that do not concern them and yet, are ascribed mastery and expertise on such.

On Herdsmen killings:

One of my church members and leader of Urhobo Progressive Union was kidnapped. He is 80 years old. It took great wisdom to manage it as a certain extraction of Nigerians threatened to cause chaos because they felt it was an insult to their region.

Few days ago, one pastor coming to see me was kidnapped and the wife was shot. Another one was equally shot that same day on the hand by alleged killer herdsman.

But I refuse to use the word Fulani because I have Fulani friends that are so awesome and nice. But certain devils, some of which are foreigners, even like the Arewa group had rightly said last year, have infiltrated their ranks and fabrics and these foreign devil’s incarnate operate with audacity and temerity, without caring whose ox is gored. We must fish them out!

Muslims are being killed and we should condemn it. Christians are also slaughtered and we should equally condemn it.

2023 presidency:

The issue of who succeeds in 2023 should go into extinction now and the focus should be on security. A wise man speaks not because he has to say something but because he has something to say.

If I could reach you privately, I would not have resorted to the media. I also took this approach to respond to the heavy insults and name-calling on your tweeter handle which is, well, okay by me and understandable because you were angry.

But I hope this meets you well. This is me pouring my heart to my brother. I am actually not good at writing letters like this. Unlike someone, we all know that does. I guess I would meet him for tutorials. I love you my brother and God bless Nigeria. Apostle Johnson Suleman (Snr. Pastor Omega Fire Ministries Worldwide)

*Source Femi Adesina.com

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South Sudan Begins Screening Travelers as Coronavirus Tremor the World
February 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Passengers from an international flight being screened at Juba International Airport in South Sudan Passengers from an international flight being screened at Juba International Airport in South Sudan (AFP Photo/Alex McBride)

Obihiro, Japan – South Sudan has joined the rest of the world in screening all travelers at its airport to help obviate the spread of the coronavirus, as the country also struggling to end the five – years’ conflict.

On Friday, the Juba Ministry of Health in collaboration with partners launches a corona virus machine to screen travellers at the airport to determine the disease.

According to the report, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, was caused by a novel disease that affects animals and human begins that cause illness ranging from the common cold, fever, cough to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome.

The deadly disease which started in the Chinese City of Wuhan late last month is reported to have already killed over 250 people with over 11,820 confirmed cases in all regions of China.

But the virus has spread across China and to at least 16 countries globally, including Thailand, France, the US and Australia. However, more nations withdraw its citizens from China, including Japan.

In reaction to coronavirus, Dr. Mike Ryan, the head of the World Health Organization’s Health Emergencies Programme, warned that the “whole world needs to be on alert” to fight the coronavirus. He further praised China’s response to the deadly outbreak, saying: “The challenge is great but the response has been massive.”

Also, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, has sent out a guidance note to all countries on how to prepare for a possible novel coronavirus outbreak.

“It is critical that countries step up their readiness and in particular put in place effective screening mechanisms at airports and other major points of entry to ensure that the first cases are detected quickly,” said Dr. Moeti. “The quicker countries can detect cases, the faster they will be able to contain an outbreak and ensure the novel coronavirus does not overwhelm health systems.”

The WHO has identified 13 top priority countries  in Africa such as Algeria, Angola, Cote d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mauritius, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, which either have direct links or a high volume of travel to China.

 But South Sudan, which hosted hundreds of Chinese, who are doing vary businesses in different fields, includes oil, can’t be left out, it might get coronavirus directly or indirectly.

As part of response intervention, South Sudan launched a detective machine that will help to sense the virus in the human body, as a part of preparedness measure to protect South Sudanese.

South Sudan’s Health Minister Dr. Riak Gai Kok said Juba and Beijing will not suspend travels between the two countries.

“We will not suspend travels between China and South Sudan but we are appealing to people that you consider the fragility of our health system and the vulnerability of our people,” said Gai, during the launch of the specialized equipment at Juba International Airport on Friday.

Gai further appeals to South Sudanese and people from China or other affected countries to reduce travelling until the disease is contained and advises the public to stop unnecessary greetings to stop the spread.

“I’m appealing to the people to reduce travelling to China Sometimes you don’t respect the feeling of others when you are sneezing. You just do it

[sneezing]

anyhow. Even you are in a very close proximity to your friends or family members. Can we try to help ourselves to at least reducing these greetings?” Dr Gai emphasizes.

On the other hand, WHO South Sudan Health Emergencies Program, Wamala Joseph warns that there is no vaccine or cure against the disease and that people should be careful.

“We need to observe the general hygiene measures involving regular hand washing with soap and water. When you have a cough, you cover your mouth and nose with either flex elbow, or use tissue and promptly deposit it into rubbish pit and when you are coughing, you can also choose to use a mask. If you are near someone who is coughing, having fever, you should keep a distance from them and if you visit any place where there are animals, you should try as much as possible to avoid direct contact with animals”, Joseph adds

Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan, Hua Ning, describes the launch as a very important preparedness way to prevent the spread of the disease to South Sudan.

“Today we are very happy to join together at the Juba International Airport to see that a new screening machine is installed. It is another importance that to make preparation for any infectious diseases”, says the Chinese Ambassador.

The specialized equipment for detecting any infectious disease was donated by the government of Japan.

 More, the WHO is working closely with global experts, governments and partners to rapidly expand scientific knowledge on this new virus, to track the spread and virulence of the virus, and to provide advice to countries and individuals on measures to protect health and prevent the spread of this outbreak.

The disease has spread to so many countries in the world, although there is no case reported in Juba, but there is heavy traffic between South Sudan and China.

Minister Gai advised travelers to follow the regulations at airports knowing that South Sudan is vulnerable in handling any outbreak.

 “If one case is imported to South Sudan, it will be a disaster and we have abundance and surplus of problems,” Gai said, in regards to the conflict that broke out late 2013, which has killed 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes both internally and externally.

President Salva Kiir and ex-rebel leader, designated vice president Dr. Riek Machar are expected to form a new unity government by February 22 after being extended twice since they inked the peace deal on September 2018.

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“Teach them smart solutions,” says out-of-the-box thinker Monique Ntumngia, founder of Green Girls, at 2020 African Economic Outlook launch
February 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Bank’s African Economic Outlook provides headline numbers on Africa’s economic performance and outlook

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, February 1, 2020/ — African governments must foster innovation and provide hands-on education solutions to young people if the continent is to beat the challenges of the next decade and meet global development targets.

“Reality on the ground and the statistics do not meet, they are on parallel lines. There’s more of cram work in our educational system than actually getting us to think out of the box,” said Monique Ntumngia, Cameroonian founder of “Green Girls, a social business that educates young women from rural communities in the use of renewable energy.

Ntumngia was speaking at a panel discussion held during the launch of the African Development Bank’s African Economic Outlook 2020 (https://bit.ly/36E1M08) on Thursday. The discussion focused on the theme of this year’s report: “Developing Africa’s workforce for the future.” The Bank’s African Economic Outlook, published annually since 2003, provides headline numbers on Africa’s economic performance and outlook.

The quality of education and low literacy need to be addressed urgently.  The need for Africans to solve African problems in the context of Africa, is critical, the attendees heard.

Green Girls has provided more than 3,000 households with biogas and over 100 households with solar installations. Ntumngia received the 2019 WWF International President’s Youth award, which recognizes people under the age of 30 that promote the cause and impact of nature conservation.

The panel also included Ivorian Minister of National Education, Technical Education and Vocational Training, Kandia Camara, Eswatini’s Deputy Minister of Education, Mpendulo Dlamini and Dr. Erik Berglof, a professor and the Director of the Institute of Global Affairs, London School of Economics and Political Science.

“It’s important that we focus on human capital development,” Camara said. “Free and universal education for both sexes …and we need to strengthen inter-state and inter-regional ties.”

Sharing lessons from Eswatini, an African success story in terms of education, and which ranks higher than the world average in global harmonised test scores, [1] Dlamini said his country had struggled to implement free and compulsory education. The nation now reviews its education curriculum framework every three years to ensure it is meeting the needs of the people.

On the Bank’s Coding for Employment Program, which aims to create 25 million jobs by 2025 while also providing 50 million African youths with the skills needed to competitively navigate the workplace, Ntumngia said: “… teach them smart solutions.”

Berglof commended the report for addressing a core issue on the continent— education, training and skills gaps, which affect youth labour productivity.

Professor Berglof called on governments and partners to work on the quality of education and the demand side. “How do we increase returns to education…and develop the broader institutional environment and political stability?” he asked.

For Dr. Jennifer Blanke, Bank Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, and the panel’s moderator, the discussion underscored the need for African-led solutions. “Africa is in an amazing position to seize the day,” she said.
*Source AFDB
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Cameroon: Reborn and Rising, IPW Commissions Water Station Restoration Project
January 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Investing in People Worldwide (IPW), Cameroon, in partnership with Reborn and Rising have commissioned a water station restoration project aimed at restoring the dilapidated public tap in long street, Small Soppo, Buea, South West Region of Cameroon.

For the past one year, the community has been unable to fetch water in the tap due to various issues. The unavailability of water had made the community to move to other areas to get water which has not been easy for them. The people in this neighbourhood complained about constant water shortage but have been unable to get water due to lack of maintenance.

“This was not the plan for Reborn and Rising when I came here. I came to support IPW what they are doing. But it was only when I saw the need, it was something I could do to assist what the community is already working for and it just torched me,” Mrs Renėe Duguė from Reborn and Rising (USA) said.

“I am an advocate for water, and it is a running theme in my life. It was just important for me to see a need and do what I could do, and this is what Reborn and rising going to do in Cameroon.”

She added: “There is no other organization in the world that assists black and brown boys who are child homicide survivors beyond the grieving period, phase. That is what we want to do and that is what we are doing.”

On what Reborn and Rising has a project for Cameroon, Mrs Renėe Duguė said, “In Cameroon this is going to be our thing. I have made a connection with the engineer of the project, and I am so inspired to do such project at least three more times this year, and four times every year beyond that.”

To Ruth Bisong Abunaw, Director IPW, this project came as a result of the need in the community that the water system was flowing properly, and the meter had a hole, and which was draining the water making it impossible for it to come out in a high volume.

The tap is an important point for most residents in the community to fetch clean drinking water. Often, people spend a considerable time waiting to fetch water due to the population — at times people even leave without even getting drinking water.

“The project was solely sponsored by Reborn and Rising as they did all the maintenance, and changes that needed to be done. New faucets have been installed and a drainage system has been dug for the water to go directly in to the pit to avoid runoff for mosquitoes and other small insects as breeding grounds, Ruth Bisong said.”

With respect to maintenance which is usually the issue with most rehabilitation works in Cameroon, Ruth Bisong did indicate to PAV that as a means of ensuring sustainability “a water user committee has been created, and this committee is made up of five inhabitants who reside in the area. They will ensure that the structure is rehabilitated if it needs minor maintenance, and also involve in taking care of the water.”

Background

Reborn and Rising: Reborn means Renėe in French and Rising, and we assist minority black, and brown boys who are child homicide survivals — so boys who have lost their parent, a parent or caretaker to murder. My son lost his father at 10 years-old to murder, and we struggle, and we want to give back.

IPW: Investing in People Worldwide, Cameroon is a Non-governmental community-based organization involve in sustainable development. It aims at building resilient communities in which women, girls, and youths engage in sustainable development activities to attain their full potentials.

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Salt on Injury: Security Forces Brutalize Teachers Honoring Slain Colleague
January 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Teachers, students march in memory of Tchakounte Boris, killed by a student

Cameroon’s security forces have used tear gas and water cannons to disperse teachers who were protesting the killing of one of their colleague by a student.

Teachers turned out en masse in the nation’s political capital Yaounde to pay their last respect to their colleague, Boris Tchakounte, stabbed to death by his student at Lycée Classique de Nkolbisson on January 14, 2020. The student report indicates is still under police custody.

As the teachers paid their last respect for their departed colleague, they were met with a harsh response from the forces of law and order that used tear gas to disperse the teachers.

According to reports, the security officers forcefully took the corpse away from the teachers and ordered it be taken the West Region, where it is to be buried. Images and videos of the incident quickly went viral on social media as security forces tried to contain the teachers who were bent on protesting and raising awareness of the plight they currently face.

A family source told journal du Cameroon that “authorities in place said the body cannot go to his former school. The funeral program indicated that the late teacher’s corpse was supposed to be taken to Lycée Nkolbisson, where he was stabbed, for academic honors, then to church, and finally to his family house.

Thousands of teachers, friends of the deceased, students all came out to bid farewell, chanting songs in honor of the late teacher. The population was, however, stopped at the EMIA round about by security forces that used tear gas and water to disperse the crowd.

The incident caused uproar on social media and on various media platforms that linked the heavy-handed nature of Cameroon’s security forces as the reason the North West and South West Regions are where they are now.

“Cameroon’s security forces will not seek to amaze me,” a Buea inhabitant told PAV. “We cannot even to out to carry out a peaceful protest without the security forces using tear gas on its citizen. We are where we are with the Anglophone crisis because of such actions, but they (security forces) do not seem to learn.”

The murder of the 26-year-old teacher shocked the entire nation and brings to the spot light insecurities faced by teachers at their place or work across the national triangle. Many have called for greater protection of teachers in school while others have called on government to give the teachers power to discipline students.

Cameroon’s Minister of Secondary Education Professor Nalova Lyonga said the teacher was wrong to have accepted to fight with the student, adding that the student should have been reported to the discipline master.

Recently, teachers in Cameroon has faced brutality not just from students, but military officers and from a Divisional officer.

On the 29 of September last year, a military officer, adjudant Boris Djouledem got a teacher in Government School Garage Militaire in Baffousam, West Region almost beaten to death for punishing a form five students who happens to be his son who failed to do his assignment.

Thousands of teachers protesting against violent attacks on them

Meantime, a Divisional officer recently brutalized a teacher of Government High School Ayos in front of students. The reason, the Divisional officer was momentarily blocked from entering a class in the school she was visiting as the students were taking examinations.

According to statistics from the Ministry of Secondary Education, teachers have been attacked at least fifteen times in the past month alone, as may ask what protection is there for the teachers to teach peacefully in classes.

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