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Rep. Bass Congratulates Longtime Friend and Colleague Linda Thomas-Greenfield on UN Ambassador Announcement
November 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, issued the following statement after President-elect Joe Biden announced he will be officially nominating Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who served as the top U.S. diplomat overseeing African affairs in the Obama administration, to be his ambassador to the United Nations.

“To know Linda is to know an incredibly smart, caring, and insightful diplomat dedicated to bettering this country and the relationships our country has with others throughout the world.

“Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s experience on the international stage commands deserved respect from all corners of the world. She brings 35 years of foreign service experience to the role including overseeing the Bureau of African Affairs during the Obama administration and serving as Director General of the Foreign Service, in which she led a team in charge of the State Department’s 70,000-strong workforce.

“In these roles, I came to work closely with Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield. We traveled to the continent together many times and I’ve always admired her leadership. She has spoken at events I’ve hosted here in Washington, DC regarding opportunities and growth on the African continent and has always offered herself as an invaluable resource for our legislating efforts here in the House of Representatives.

“What adds to her record is her work and reputation beyond our borders. She’s served this country all over the world including in Switzerland, Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, Jamaica and most recently, Liberia.

“Linda Thomas-Greenfield is more than qualified for this role. Her grace and her wit will serve this country well. We are safer with her in this position. I wish her the very best of luck.”

Read the full biography of Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield here or below:

Retired Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a career diplomat, is returning to public service after retiring from a 35-year career with the U.S. Foreign Service in 2017. From 2013 to 2017 she served as the Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of African Affairs, where she led the bureau focused on the development and management of U.S. policy toward sub-Saharan Africa. Prior to this appointment, she served as Director General of the Foreign Service and Director of Human Resources (2012-2013), leading a team in charge of the State Department’s 70,000-strong workforce.

Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield’s distinguished Foreign Service career includes an ambassadorship to Liberia (2008-2012), and postings in Switzerland (at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations), Pakistan, Kenya, The Gambia, Nigeria, and Jamaica. In Washington, she served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of African Affairs (2006-2008), and as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (2004-2006).

Since 2017, Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield has led the Africa Practice at Albright Stonebridge Group, a strategic commercial diplomacy firm chaired by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. She was also the inaugural Distinguished Resident Fellow in African Studies at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy from fall 2017 to spring 2019. She joined ISD in spring 2017 as a Senior State Department Fellow. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield earned a B.A. from Louisiana State University and a M.A. from the University of Wisconsin, where she worked towards a PhD. She received an honorary Doctor of Law degree from the University of Wisconsin in May 2018.

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African Energy Chamber to Gather Industry Stakeholders within the CEMAC Region Ahead of 2021 Recovery
November 23, 2020 | 0 Comments
The event will gather all of the Chamber’s partners and industry stakeholders in Equatorial Guinea as the market embarks on a path to recovery in 2021.

To mark the launch of the latest African Energy Outlook 2021, the African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) will be hosting a Power Breakfast in Malabo on Wednesday November 25th. The event will gather all of the Chamber’s partners and industry stakeholders in Equatorial Guinea as the market embarks on a path to recovery in 2021.

The event will be opened by H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, and will benefit from the presence of leading participants such as Antonio Oburu Ondó, Director General of national oil company GEPetrol, and Leoncio Amada NZE, CEO of APEX Industries and President for the CEMAC Region at the Chamber. Together, they will be joined by leading industry executives from Marathon Oil Corp, ExxonMobil, the National Bank of Equatorial Guinea (BANGE) and the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) along with local industry players.

Participants will notably seek ways to work together on ensuring a strong recovery in 2021 and addressing key concerns that continue to affect investments into the region, notably when it comes to regulatory frameworks. Equally important, the discussion will aim at highlighting the resilience of Equatorial Guinea’s oil sector during the Covid-19 pandemic and historic crises of 2020, and focus on the key projects and initiatives that will bring back the industry on strong feet, especially natural gas and energy infrastructure.

“Equatorial Guinea has always been an oil & gas leader in Central Africa and across the continent as a whole. While we have not been exempt of the deep shocks and crises our industry has faced in 2020, we believe that the country’s experience will support its recovery”. Stated Leoncio Amada NZE, President for the CEMAC region at the African Energy Chamber.

“The Chamber’s latest Outlook for 2021 calls for a stronger dialogue around key issues such as policy and fiscal reforms, and a stronger adoption of gas across African economies. Equatorial Guinea, its companies and entrepreneurs, are well place to lead and benefit from such developments,” Concluded Leoncio Amada NZE,

The Power Breakfast will be held at Hotel Colinas in Malabo from 8AM onwards. Interested participants may register by sending an rsvp to partners@energychamber.org.

*African Energy Chamber

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Oil and Gas Discoveries and Activity in Southwest Africa Set to Open New Basins for Development and Trigger Big Investments in Namibia, Angola and South Africa
November 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk*

This is a time for the oil and gas companies that are involved in these mega-opportunities to redouble their efforts to support local communities and people.

Last spring, the Maersk Voyager, an ultra-deepwater drillship under contract by French supermajor Total, drilled a wildcat well in the deepest water ever – 3,628 meters (11,903 feet) in Block 48, a massive area with potentially huge oil reserves in the Congo basin offshore Angola.  

The record-setting achievement wasn’t a success just for Maersk and Total. It also represented a victory for Angola and state oil company Sonangol in their search for new oil, part of a campaign to reverse a recent trend of production declines. The high-impact concept well was long anticipated, and it didn’t take long for other global players, including Qatar Petroleum (QP), to buy in. As part of its bid to expand its exploration portfolio, QP acquired a 30% stake in Block 48 in August, its first venture into Angola’s promising deepwater acreage.

If Angola were the only southwestern African nation making oil and gas news, that would still be a pretty good story. But the fact is, Africa’s southwestern coast is home to perhaps the most globally anticipated wildcats of 2020 and 2021 – exploration that continues despite the added challenges of COVID-19, which has constrained operating and capital budgets. As the African Energy Chamber noted in our 2021 outlook, if successful, prospects in Angola, Namibia, and South Africa, could “open new basins for development and trigger big investments towards the latter half of the 2020s.”

That’s headline-making, indeed.

Combined with Block 48, the Venus-1 prospect in Namibia, and South Africa’s Brulpadda and Luiperd, the region holds world-class resource potential. The key is translating that potential into real benefits for all Africans.

Production is Building Momentum in Angola
For nearly 70 years, oil has been a mainstay of the Angolan economy, contributing about 50% of the nation’s gross domestic product and around 89% of exports. The country holds the continent’s second-largest proven oil reserves and is behind only Nigeria in terms of production. (Angola also has Africa’s fourth-largest proven natural gas reserves, although historically it hasn’t produced much commercially.)

In recent years, though, the drop in oil prices scared off foreign investment, putting pressure on Angola’s well-established oil and gas industry as well as its oil-based economy. Despite its vast resources, not only was production on the downturn, there had not been a major new discovery since 2011. Without fresh finds, consultants Rystad Energy, S.A. said, volumes could drop below 1 million barrels per day by 2025, far below capacity and less than half the 2008’s daily output.

That forecast was more than enough to spur Angolan President João Lourenço into action.

Following his election in 2017, he promised Angola an “economic miracle” and immediately began incentivizing participation in the nation’s oil and gas industry as part of his turnaround plan.

Lourenço’s lures, including better contract terms that would make foreign investment more profitable, paid off. With reforms such as tax relief and a standalone oil industry regulator in place, Total – which has been operating in Angola for six decades – moved quickly in 2018 to take over Block 48 and was awarded Block 29 in the Namibe basin earlier this year; Italy’s Eni was awarded neighboring Block 28 about the same time. Angola also awarded several offshore blocks to Norway’s Equinor and BP. (There are approximately 50 blocks in the Namibe basin, but whether they will all be put into play remains to be seen.)  Eni and its partners also began production at Agogo-1, pumping a modest 10,000 barrels per day. While that may sound small, it contributes to a much larger sum: Taken together, Rystad said, production from new Angolan projects – that is, those begun just in the last five years – should yield 549,000 barrels per day by 2025.

Fiscal Regime Sets Stage for Success in Namibia
If early seismic data is to be believed, compared to Angola there is equal, if not even more, promise in new discoveries offshore Namibia. Altogether, more than 11 billion barrels in oil reserves have been found off the Namibian coast, and scientists compare Namibia’s geology favorably to the pre-salt fields offshore Brazil, which hold 16 billion barrels of crude reserves. Yet Namibia’s basins are considered underexplored, meaning there’s ample opportunity for foreign and domestic investment. The possibility of high-impact discoveries has attracted the likes of Total, ExxonMobil, QP, and Kosmos Energy, which has had significant wildcat success in Africa over the past dozen years.

Currently, all eyes are on Total’s possibly play-opening Venus 1- prospect, which may turn out to be the largest discovery in Africa in a decade. An ultra-deepwater well in the Orange Basin, which straddles the border with South Africa, Venus-1 is thought to have at least 2 billion barrels of oil in place. If Venus-1 is successful, it’s like to attract even more attention to the area. Fortunately, the Namibian government’s oil-friendly policies make it easy for foreign companies to do business there. The fiscal regime is positive, and the state-owned oil company, the National Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR), is a cooperative partner. It also helps that Namibia is politically stable and has some of the best-developed infrastructure on the continent, including a modern electricity distribution grid.

We’re Seeing Growing Excitement in South Africa
Like its neighbors to the west, South Africa has been the site of considerable excitement over frontier discoveries, including Total’s Brulpadda, which opened up the Outeniqua basin in 2019. Brulpadda is considered a world-class oil and gas play that holds as much as 1 billion barrels of oil equivalent of gas and condensate light oil.

Brulpadda is considered an antidote to the cascade of ailments South Africa – like many countries with petroleum resources – has experienced in recent years: a drop in oil and gas exploration following a decline in commodity prices. It is likely that PetroSA’s gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant will provide a ready domestic market for Brulpadda, as will the nearby petrochemical and industrial facilities. It is also possible the discovery will help South Africa accelerate the use of gas for electricity.

Total continues to explore other parts of the Outeniqua basin and just last month discovered gas condensate on the Luiperd prospect, where it is a joint venture partner with QP, CNR International, and an African consortium called Main Street. In an announcement, Total said that the Luiperd well was drilled to a total depth of about 3,400 meters and encountered 73 meters of net gas condensate pay, making it even larger than the main reservoir at Brulpadda. Total and its partners have decided to commercialize the Luiperd gas rather than drill another exploration well in the program.

Africans Must Realize the Benefits
There’s no question that these discoveries have made southwestern Africa an exploration hot spot.

Neither is there any doubt that the governments of Angola, Namibia, and South Africa have facilitated and even accelerated the discovery and development processes by making it easy to do business there. (In the case of South Africa, its fiscal terms for oil and gas companies are described as “very generous.”)

What remains uncertain is to what degree each country will continue working to ensure its natural resources, whether newfound or long-established, are used to lift people out of poverty. True, African involvement in joint ventures leads us to assume that the best interests of every citizen are being considered.

But this is a time for the oil and gas companies that are involved in these mega-opportunities to redouble their efforts to support local communities and people. These companies are our guests in Africa, but the price of a welcome to our resource riches can’t be merely contractual, a handshake between governments and businessmen. The more they profit, the more Africans should benefit.

This idea is at the heart of the concept of Shared Value, which has been defined as “a framework for creating economic value while simultaneously addressing societal needs and challenges,” and as the “practice of profit in a way that creates value for society.” Shared Value doesn’t suggest that businesses should act as philanthropies or charities, giving handouts to those who exhibit need. It goes beyond the idea of corporate social responsibility, which is often based on volunteerism and one-off donations. Perhaps most important, Shared Value recognizes that companies can only stay in business if they are making money. As consultants FSG described it, the value companies and the community are sharing is “worth,” that is, economic value on a financial sheet and societal value in the form of progress on social issues.

Shared Value recognizes that companies have a responsibility to take on social challenges through the business itself. It is in their economic interest to do this. In Africa, one way they can do that is by supporting capacity-building. As the Shared Value Initiative noted, despite the substantial economic output of the oil and gas industry, it has “not always translated into societal improvements in host countries and communities… companies are losing billions of dollars a year to community strife,” much of it due to underemployment.

As more companies are attracted to southwestern Africa and these exciting new developments, we can only hope that they will recognize that where opportunity exists for them it should exist for everyone. And they have the power to make it so. 

That would be really big news.

*NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman, African Energy Chamber

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Cameroon: The Fisherman’s Diary Gets 15 Nominations at Ghana Golden Movie Awards
November 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Kang Quintus and Faith Fidel
Kang Quintus and Faith Fidel

Cameroonian movie The Fisherman’s Diary has received fifteen (15) nominations at the Ghana Golden Movie Awards. This is a record that The Fisherman’s Diary has been able to set as no film from Cameroon has been able to get that at an international festival.

“We have had 61 festival selections so far in 29 countries internationally. Recently, we became the first film to win 6 awards at the Festiva Ecrans Noirs in Yaounde. It is a sign to say we have a product that does not only cut across Cameroonians but cuts across the national boundaries,” Kang Quintus told Pan African Visions.

The Fisherman's Diary amongst the nominees for Official Golden Movie
The Fisherman’s Diary amongst the nominees for Official Golden Movie

“We have made waves in 29 countries and 6 nominations in a festival like that with other great films in Africa and we dominating the entire festival is an honour for not just me but the entire country Cameroon. It tells us that the Cameroonian cinema is there and we are ready to compete with any other country and not just in Africa but the world at large.”

Kang Quintus has been nominated in 2 categories; Best Actor and Best Sound Editor and he say it is a humbling experience. “It tells you that whatever you want to do in life you should do it right. Take your time, make sure that everything is 200 per cent and do not settle for 100 per cent. Shoot for 200 per cent and if you end up with 100 per cent you are still perfect but if you shoot for 100 and end up with 50 per cent it is a failure,” Kang Quintus said, as he continues the national tour of the Fisherman’s Diary.

“It was a lot of time and talent that went into the project and this is just a reflection of hard work that went into the film.”

Faith Fidel, the young actress continues to make headway into the movie industry as she was nominated in three categories. She was nominated under the categories of Best Actress, Most Promising Actor, and Golden Discovery.

Fisherman’s Diary Premiers in Buea/Limbe Back on

Following the killing of six children at Mother Francisca International Bilingual School in Kumba, South West Region of Cameroon on October 24, 2020, the Management of Kang Quintus Films cancelled the premiers of the movie in Buea and Limbe. The premiers were to be held October 30 for Buea and October 31 in Limbe.

Speaking to Kang Quintus he says work is underway to have the movie premiere in Buea and Limbe. “Right now we are currently talking with our sponsors Orange Cameroon, the Ministry of Arts and Culture, and other well-wishers of the project,” He said.

“We are looking at how to reschedule the date probably it might be this week or next week for Buea and Limbe but we are working on it. This decision will be communicated soonest.”  

Kang Quintus nominated for Best Actor in a Drama
Kang Quintus nominated for Best Actor in a Drama

Complete Nominations

Best Actor – Kang Quintus

Best Actress – Faith Fidel

Best Overall Film – The Fisherman’s Diary

Best Director – Enah Johnscott

Best Cinematographer – Rene Ettat

Best Screenplay – Enah Johnscott and Proxy Buh Melvin

Best supporting Actress – Ndamo Damarise

Best Supporting Actor – Cosson Chinepoh

Best Art Director – Nkanya Nkwai

Most Promising Actor – Faith Fidel

Best Sound Editor – Kang Quintus

Golden Discovery Actor – Faith Fidel

Best Soundtrack – Ewube Official

Best Indigenous Film – The Fisherman’s Diary

Best Editor – Diba J Blerk

About the Fisherman’s Diary

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

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

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

The film has won best film in India and New York, picking up Best director, best film, best soundtrack and best production nominations at the prestigious PAMA in Paris, France.

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Mismanagement of funds, Abuse of Position: CAF President Ahmad Ahmad Banned for Five Years
November 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

CAF President Ahmad Ahmad. Photo Goal
CAF President Ahmad Ahmad. Photo Goal

The President of the Confederation of African Football, CAF Ahmad Ahmad has been banned from all sporting related activities for the next five years by Football governing body FIFA.

The FIFA ethics committee found “Ahmad had breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position as the CAF President.”

“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee has found Ahmad Ahmad, the President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) and a FIFA Vice-President, guilty of having breached art. 15 (Duty of loyalty), art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts or other benefits) and art. 25 (Abuse of position) of the 2020 edition of the FIFA Code of Ethics, as well as art. 28 (Misappropriation of funds) of the 2018 edition,” the statement read.

“The investigation into Mr Ahmad’s conduct in his position as CAF President during the period from 2017 to 2019 concerning various CAF-related governance issues, including the organisation and financing of an Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca, his involvement in CAF’s dealings with the sports equipment company Tactical Steel and other activities.”

“In its decision, following an extensive hearing, the adjudicatory chamber ruled that, based on information gathered by the investigatory chamber, Mr Ahmad had breached his duty of loyalty, offered gifts and other benefits, mismanaged funds and abused his position as the CAF President, under the FIFA Code of Ethics.

“Consequently, the adjudicatory chamber found that Mr Ahmad had breached arts 15, 20 and 25 of the current edition of the FIFA Code of Ethics, as well as art. 28 of the 2018 edition, and sanctioned him with a ban from all football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level for five years. Also, a fine of CHF 200,000 has been imposed on Mr Ahmad.”

Ahmad’s first four-year term was clouded with allegations of financial wrongdoing and misconduct at the Confederation of African Football headquarters in Cairo. He was detained by French authorities in Paris on the eve of the Women’s World Cup for questioning about a CAF equipment deal with a company that appeared to have little connection with soccer.

The Ban for the Malagy comes at a time when he has been seeking re-election as President of CAF. 46 African football Federations had called for Ahmad to seek a second mandate, which he fittingly obliged. The CAF election is scheduled for March 12 in Rabat, Morocco.

A Clear Road for Patrice Motsepe of South Africa?

Patrice Motsepe, chairman of 2016 African club champions Mamelodi Sundowns is seen as the front contender for the CAF Presidency. With Ahmad Ahmad’s ban, the tagline may just be true.

Ahmad’s ban leaves the number of candidates for the Presidency to three; Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast, Augustine Senghor, the head of the Senegalese Football Federation and Patrice Motsepe of South Africa.

“Motsepe can contest the position since he fulfils the requirements of having been involved in football for the past five years, with the South African having led Pretoria-based Sundowns since 2004, and has received the backing of his federation,” BBC Sports Africa reported.

“Caf must improve its global standing,” said South Africa FA president Danny Jordaan. “He is the most appropriate person we could offer for the leadership of Caf. We do not want any compromise on governance or ethics in football.”

Patrice Motsepe has led former African champions Mamelodi Sundowns since 2004. Picture by BBC Sports Africa
Patrice Motsepe has led former African champions Mamelodi Sundowns since 2004. Picture by BBC Sports Africa

“He has more superior qualities than me,” Pinnick told BBC Sport Africa. “It’s not about me, it’s about African football. If you have someone with superior qualities, you have to learn from him and queue behind him and wait for your time.”

“The key to successful governance starts from the point where the right person or persons are put in the right positions for the right reasons,” said Sierra Leone FA president Isha Johansen. “African football and the African continent need to be on the global platform for the right reasons.”

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Cameroon: CPDM Launches Campaign for the Elections of Regional Councilors
November 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

CPDM Big wigs in the South West Region launched campaign for the Elecvtion of Regional Councillors at the Buea independence square
CPDM Big wigs in the South West Region launched campaign for the Elecvtion of Regional Councillors at the Buea independence square

With barely 14-days to Cameroon’s first-ever Regional elections, CPDM politicians in the South West Regional have set the ball rolling by launching their campaign for the elections of regional councillors.

Launched this November 21, 2020, at the Buea Independence Square or popularly known as “Bongo Square”, the Members of both houses of parliament, traditional rulers and CPDM big wigs said the party is very much ready for the December 6 Regional Elections across the country.

The Regions will elect 90 councillors, who will have limited powers on local issues. Twenty of them will be representatives of traditional chieftains. The indirect elections on December 6 in the country’s 10 regions will put in place councils provided for in a 1996 constitution in a move towards decentralization but not yet implemented.

Erstwhile Prime Minister Peter Mafany Musonge “We are at the last phase of decentralization and the election of 6 December is a highlight of the process.” “We are going to have a Regional Assembly, House of Chiefs which are important aspects of our special status and so they (population) should help realize this goal by voting us on that day,” Peter Mafany Musonge. Head of CPDM Permanent Delegation to the South West Region said.

To Chief Etina Monono Emmanuel, Head of CPDM Representatives of Traditional Rulers said they are very much ready and they have discussed on how to get resources which is seen as the “main thing for now and without it, we cannot function.”

He added: “The South West Region has been marginalized for far too long. That marginalization will have to stop as a result of the changes we are going to bring. We must have quotas for our main institutions; NASLA, ENAM, Police College and so on. Go to the Police College now you will see that out of the hundreds of students who have been taken we may not have even twenty-five South Westerners. 

“These are things we are going to tackle immediately. We are going to look at why CDC is down, what is happening to SONARA, the issue of roads and so on and we hope that things will fall into place as soon as we get there,” Chief Etina Monono of Great Soppo said.

“The chiefs being who they are, we have started our groundworks some two weeks ago, and at this level, we were just waiting for the official authorization for us to commence. The chiefs are prepared for it,” Chief Ndike Kombe Richard said.

“What the population should expect from us is the contribution to ensure that the economy of this Region will change and many more. We want to ensure them that by the text what we have at our disposal, competence we shall give them the best of it.”

With the launching of the Regional campaign, the CPDM officials are expected to do same at their various Divisional levels. In the coming days, the campaign will be launched at the Divisional level in Limbe while a calendar will be drawn up to tackle Muyuka, Tiko, Idenau, Buea, and Limbe itself.

In the crisis-stricken North West and South West Regions, the ruling party will be alone on the ballot in regional elections taking place on 6 December. John Fru Ndi, leader of a key opposition party, has said he will boycott the election unless there is a ceasefire first in the English-speaking Regions. The John Fru Ndi-led party demands that the crisis affecting the Anglophone regions be resolved before any new elections are held. The MRC Party of Maurice Kamto is the other party that will be boycotting the Regional elections. 

Twenty representatives of traditional rulers will make up the House of Chiefs in the SWR
Twenty representatives of traditional rulers will make up the House of Chiefs in the SWR

The two restive Anglophone regions are home to a large minority of English speakers in a country where French speakers are the overwhelming majority. The four-year war has led to thousands becoming refugees in neighbouring Nigeria. The UN reports that the ongoing crisis has led to over 3,000 lives lost.

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Cameroon: Lawyers Call for Nationwide Strike From November 30-December 4
November 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Barrister Tamfu Richard, one of the lawyers arrested by Police in Douala
Barrister Tamfu Richard, one of the lawyers arrested by Police in Douala

Lawyers in Cameroon will undergo a five-day nationwide boycott from November 30 to December 4. The strike action by the lawyers under the banner of the Cameroon Bar Association is one of three striking resolutions that were taken during an Extra-Ordinary Council Session held November 13.

The court boycott relates to police brutality on lawyers on the 10 of November 2020 at the Court of First Instance Bonanjo, Douala. During this period, the lawyers are expected to stay off any court nationwide.

In a communiqué signed by Bar Secretary Barr Phillipe Memong, Barr. Atangana Bikouna Claire, Interim Bar President, the lawyers stated that two Douala based Lawyers, Lawyers Tamfu Ngarka Tristel Richard and Tchuenmengne Kemmegne Armel, eyewitnesses to this brutality were, without any prior summons or warrant, waylaid and apprehended by elements of the Judicial Police of the Littoral Region and charged with Insulting a Magistrate, destruction and Commenting on a matter which is sub judis.

“These Lawyers were detained from the 18 to the 20 of November 2020 and later remanded in custody by the State Counsel of the said court, to be tried under the flagrante delito procedure on the 23 of November 2020,” the communiqué read in part.

Cameroon lawyers protest protest the perceived marginalization and interference with the Anglo-Saxon system of law amongst other things in 2016. File photo
Cameroon lawyers protest protest the perceived marginalization and interference with the Anglo-Saxon system of law amongst other things in 2016. File photo

The Extra-Ordinary Bar Council Session convened by the Interim Bar President Barrister Atangana Bikouna Claire, enlarged to include the President of the General Assembly of the Bar Association, Barrister Morfaw Evaristus Nkafu.

Decisions taken

Article 1:  CANCEL THE JUDICIAL HONOURS for the late Bar President, TCHAKOUTE PATIE Charles, initially scheduled to take place at the Court of Appeal of the Littoral Region in Douala and the Supreme Court in Yaounde. The said judicial honours shall take place in a different location, more accommodating to Lawyers, which will be communicated later.

Article 2:   CALL FOR A NATIONWIDE STRIKE from the 30 of November to the 4 of December 2020, during which no lawyer shall attend court.

Article 3:   SUSPEND, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, the appearance of lawyers in criminal matters in all the courts throughout the National territory, including the Supreme Court and the Special Criminal court and also suspend all appearances by lawyers in all courts dealing with electoral disputes, including the Constitutional Council; after the nationwide strike action referred to in Article 2 above.

Article 4. The Secretary of the Bar is charged with the production and publication of this resolution which shall be kept in the archives of the Bar.

“Investigations reveal that the State Counsel of the Court of First Instance Bonanjo, Douala, has ordered for the arrest and detention of 15 lawyers; some of whom are either victims or eyewitnesses of the November 10 incident. The incarceration of these two colleagues points to the fate of the remaining 13 lawyers on his list. This leaves no one in doubt as to the existence of an elaborate scheme to persecute Lawyers through judicial actions, as well as the avowed resolve of some Magistrates to denigrate Lawyers and impede on the exercise of their profession at all levels,” the lawyers said stating that this is glaring evidence of a scheme to persecute Lawyers who are now treated as miscreants.

While noting the challenging times ahead the Bar Council called on Lawyers, more than ever before, to be cautious, calm and vigilant, to avoid provocation and violent confrontation, at the risk of falling into the multiple snares designed to weaken the Bar, particularly at this difficult moment when they lost and are preparing to bury the late Bar President.

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Africa’s First Online Clinical Trial Community established
November 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Prof Tom Kariuki, Director of Programmes/AESA Director, African Academy of Sciences (AAS)
Prof Tom Kariuki, Director of Programmes/AESA Director, African Academy of Sciences (AAS)

The Clinical Trial Community (CTC)  a versatile, comprehensive, and accessible platform providing quick and real-time visibility of African clinical trials sites, capacity, and capability has been set up.

 The first of its kind on the continent, the CTC platform also links relevant initiatives that support the conduct of trials, enables timely ethics and regulatory review and provides country level guidelines for import/export of relevant clinical supplies and bio-specimens. The platform aims to reduce bias in funding across countries and disease areas and promote synergy and efficiency across strategic funders in the product development ecosystem. Although this project was already underway, the worldwide rush to develop diagnostics, drugs and vaccines for COVID-19 provides a sense of urgency to develop this one-stop source of information for operational logistics in conducting clinical trials in Africa.

Research capabilities in Africa are improving with more robustly trained local researchers working in better equipped facilities. This ensures that African countries lead and collaborate in all phases of early to late-stage clinical trials. The CTC saves on cost and time associated with landscape analysis and although it captures African clinical trials at the start, the aim is to expand the community to other parts of the world.

CTC, an output of the Coalition for African Research and Innovation (CARI), is supported through a global partnership led by Johnson & Johnson, the US National institutes of Health (NIH), Wellcome, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and World Economic Forum (WEF). CARI, conceived as an ambitious platform by African and Global partners and implemented through the Alliance for Accelerating Excellence in Science in Africa (AESA), is a well-funded, strongly supported and highly coordinated platform that leverages resource mobilisation for investment, undertakes strategic advocacy to harness leadership and fosters systematic collaboration to achieve outcomes that would help more Africans lead better lives sooner.

Other partners of CTC instrumental in the development of the clinical trials database include the World Health Organization (WHO) created African Vaccine Regulatory Forum (AVAREF), the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), Pan African Clinical Trials Registry (PACTR), the European and Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP), the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).

Announcing the establishment of the clinical trial community Prof Tom Kariuki, Director of Programmes/AESA Director, African Academy of Sciences (AAS) said, “The incredible diversity in Africa is unlike anywhere else in the world. The continent is made up of many cultures and ethnic groups whose genetic makeup impact clinical trial outcomes. It is very important that more trials are conducted on African soil. Unfortunately, the process of finding experienced investigators, trial centres/sites, existing and future trials, and determining the in-country processes and regulations to be followed to achieve correct regulatory approvals has been very difficult to do. With the CTC platform, researchers and possible funders will have a comprehensive source of intelligence on country-level clinical trial capabilities and processes which will aid in decision making.”

Dirk Gille, Vice President, R&D Capacity Development Leader, Global Public Health at Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V., part of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson added: “The Clinical Trials Community platform will be an incredibly valuable tool in the successful execution of clinical trials in Africa. Bringing together essential information on clinical trial site capabilities, coupled with regional disease burden, will help enable the implementation of trials in the right centres and regions. While the ability to connect with scientists through the platform will further drive efficiencies and create opportunities.  Ultimately, this should contribute to an increase in the number of clinical trials on the continent and, in time, accelerate access to innovative medicines for patients in Africa and around the world.”

“Sustained efforts to expedite development of clinical interventions against diseases rampant in Africa requires good capacity and networking of scientists and their trial sites. CTC couldn’t have been started at a better time when the world is challenged by epidemics on top of the high infectious diseases and rising non-communicable disease burden in Africa. The CTC will make African scientists and their sites more visible and reachable for concerted response in development of clinical interventions the continent and the world urgently need,” said Dr Thomas Nyirenda, EDTCP Strategic Partnerships & Capacity Development Manager, who is also chair of the CTC Advisory Committee providing strategic guidance to the AESA programme.

Diadié Maiga, the Regional Vaccine Regulation Officer at AVAREF, says: “We have seen a noticeable gap in the availability of information to trial sponsors and trialists, which is crucial to ensure clinical trials take place and for participants to be recruited. By showcasing the regulatory and ethical requirements, approval processes, timelines, and guidelines for conducting trials in the different countries across the continent, the CTC is a value add to the landscape that will promote knowledge sharing, awareness, trust, confidence and hopefully participation in clinical trials for the ultimate benefit of African people.”
 
“As key partners of the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial (CONCVACT) consortium, the Africa CDC aims to ensure that sufficient data is generated on the safety and efficacy of the most promising vaccine candidates for the African population so once vaccines are formally approved, they can be rolled out in Africa with confidence about their impact. The overlaid trial sites, country regulatory processes, and diseases burden data on display on the African map provided on the CTC platform will set the criteria for trial site selection guidance to potential clinical trial sponsors,” Nicaise Ndembi, Chief Science Advisor, Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

“The CTC and partners are committed to supporting, enabling and accelerating investment in clinical and translational research capacity in Africa to effectively respond to disease outbreaks, reduce preventable deaths, strengthen productivity, improve quality of life, and to address countries public health needs. The recent outbreak of Covid-19 has shown us how important this type of collaboration really is,” says Dr Jenniffer Mabuka, CTC Consultant.

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Zimbabwean President Promises to Create Over 700 000 new jobs in new economic blueprint
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa – Photo Credit: BBC.com

Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate estimates range wildly with official country statistics bodies putting it at 10.7 per cent while some unofficial statistics institutions put it 60 per cent and others at 95 per cent. Despite the absence of ‘reliable’ data, what’s clear on the ground is that an unemployment challenge is existent in the country. With fears rising in the country amongst the locals especially the youth that the prevailing economic situation may see more companies and industries closing shop, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa was quick to allay those fears stating that his administration will create over 700 000 formal jobs in the immediate future. The President said this as he launched the country’s new economic blueprint, National Development Strategy 1 (NDS1).

The National Development Strategy 1 is a policy document that will guide the economic fortunes of the country for a 5 year period starting New Year (2012) up to 2025. During his presentation, the President said the new economic blueprint is anchored on economic growth and institutional reforms which aim at helping Zimbabwe attain an upper middle-income economy by 2030. The blueprint runs under the theme “Towards a Prosperous and Empowered Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030”.

NDS1 aims at comprehensively turning around Zimbabwe’s economic fortunes. On this front, the new economic blueprint aptly tables polices and institutional reforms that all aim at transforming the countries’ economic fortunes. Five areas are outlined in the economic blueprint as the priority areas that require much needed and undivided attention if the country is to attain its vision of becoming an Upper Middle-Income Society by 2030. These five areas are (strategic infrastructure in) energy sector, water and sanitation, ICT as well as the transport sector.

“Riding on the momentum realized during the phase of the TSP (Transitional Stabilization Programme), the construction, rehabilitation and modernization of key infrastructure will continue with greater speed under the NDS1. Focus will be on strategic infrastructure in energy, water and sanitation, ICT and transport sectors which enable Zimbabwe to be more efficient and competitive,” Mnangagwa said.

President Mnangagwa said as the country starts implementing the National Development Strategy 1, human capital development and innovation will be needed if the blueprint is to pay dividends. “The development and deployment of appropriate skills, competencies and capabilities is set to be accelerated under the NDS1. The promotion of excellence, innovation, integrity, honour and hard work among our people should also be our focus into the future.” On this front, the President promised that over 700 000 formal jobs will be created during the tenure of the blueprint.

The President also highlighted the key industries that need much of government’s support that is, agriculture, mining, and manufacturing and tourism sectors. “The constant tracking of the objective of Vision 2030 will be essential as we go forward. The NDS1 will focus on accelerated growth of the economy between 2021 and 2025 leveraging on our agriculture, mining, manufacturing and tourism sectors…The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy will continue to be boldly implemented towards a vibrant US$8,2 billion agriculture sector that will achieve national food and nutrition security.”

In addition to helping make the country food secure, President Mnangagwa said prioritizing the agriculture sector is crucial as it helps in facilitating increased exports, innovative market driven production, productivity and investment. 

Another key tenet of the new economic blueprint that will help the country turn around its economic fortunes are the twin concepts of devolution and decentralization. “In line with the devolution and decentralization agenda provinces will be developing their provincial plans aligned to the NDS1 based on their respective resource endowments and comparative advantages.” He said devolution and decentralization is one sure way that the country can effectively tackle the challenges faced by women, youth and people living with disabilities when it comes to economic participation. By taking advantage of comparative advantages that exist in individual provinces, the problem of poverty can also be addressed and eradicated more effectively.

The President said the success of the National Development Strategy 1 hinges on ‘our united and unitary character, as a nation” thereby he called upon all Zimbabweans to work together in unison for the betterment of the country.

Speaking during the launch of the economic blueprint, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Minister Mthuli Ncube expressed optimism that the NDS1 is a perfect successor to the TSP stating, “The overaching goal of the NDS1 is to ensure high, accelerated, inclusive and sustainable economic growth as well as socio-economic transformation and development as we move towards an upper middle-income society by 2030.”  

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US President-Elect Promises to Strengthen US-Africa Relations over Phone Talks with South African President
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa - Photo Credit: EWN
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa – Photo Credit: EWN

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa had a telephone conversation with US President-Elect, Joe Biden earlier this week in which the two leaders discussed ways to strengthen US-Africa relations. The two leaders as according to the South African Government News Agency also discussed ways to overcome the novel COVID-19 pandemic which had wrecked havoc both in America and Africa.

The Office of the South African President was the first to relay the news that the country’s leader had just had a telephone conversation with the US President-Elect. On the official site, the Office of the South African President said that the President “is hopeful of a strong partnership between the United States and the African continent in promoting peace and stability in international relations and advancing multilateralism.”

The telephone conversation does not come as a surprise considering that the US President-Elect and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris have identified Africa as a major player in international affairs and in the advancement of multilateralism.

Joe Biden does have a long history with South Africa as he once visited the country during the Apartheid era and denounced the inhuman discriminatory ways that the white ruling minority was practicing against the black majority. Ever since, South Africa has always had a soft spot for Biden as they knew him as a man who demonstrated great commitment in fighting for human rights and dignity for all South Africans.

The South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who is also the Chairperson of the African Union stated that “he looked forward to a strong partnership at a bilateral level and between the United States and the continent of Africa.”

The report by the South African Government News Agency said that Biden and Ramaphosa also discussed ways of overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the report did not outline in explicit terms how the two leaders aim at overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic. Many have however expressed optimism that collaborations between the two will bear fruit as Biden from the onset of the pandemic has always urged the US administration to craft robust measures of tackling and eradicating the pandemic in the shortest possible period of time. Biden on numerous occasions has called out the incumbent Donald Trump for taking a lackadaisical approach to tackling the pandemic largely by his stance to refuse wearing masks in public and urging the public to consume unapproved COVID-19 vaccines.

Many African leaders have welcomed Joe Biden’s electoral victory, expressing hope that his win will boost trade and other relations between the continent and the US. However, many experts say Biden faces a mammoth task of strengthening US-Africa relations more so on the economic front considering China’s influence in Africa since the turn of the millennium. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) became China’s most prominent development initiative after 2000, and in 2009 China not only surpassed the US as Africa’s largest trading partner, but also became the most promising source of funds for African development infrastructure.

When Trump entered into office, he adopted the concept of ‘containment’. Trumps’ Africa strategy not only focused on advancing US economic interest in Africa, but also sought to economically contain China’s impact on the continent. The key focus of the strategy was to contain China’s commercial, security and political influence in Africa, which has been solidified through deepening economic engagement, closer security cooperation and high-profile diplomacy epitomized by the FOCAC. It’s still unclear at the present moment if Joe Biden will follow a similar ‘containment’ path or come up with something new. Regardless of the decision he takes, whats clear is that the infleuce of China in Africa will pose many challenges to his administration.

Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump in the recent US elections becoming the first former vice president to win the Oval office since George H.W. Bush who won in 1988 after eight years under Ronald Regan.

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Despite a Progressive Law, Access to Information Remains a Challenge in Rwanda- Report
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jean-Pierre Afadhali*

Kigali, Rwanda. A new study on the state of access to information in Rwanda released early this week revealed information requests are being denied and delayed despite the enactment of the law promoting right to information six years ago making it difficult for the public and journalists to access information.

The study that was jointly published by Sobanukirwa, an online portal for access to information and JP Media, a digital communications agency, looks at the state of access to information under the period between 2013 and 2020 with focus on the implementation of the law relating to access to Information that was enacted and gazetted in 2013. At the time Rwanda joined several other African countries that passed the law enabling journalists and citizens to easily access information held by governments and some private bodies.

The study that employed qualitative approach that include policy and legal analysis, interviews with selected respondents, and several sources of data available online and offline documented the country’s challenges and achievements in access to information.

The report titled “The state of Access to Information in Rwanda: Mapping the trends in right to information” found that despite having a progressive law that was welcomed by the media fraternity, civil society and the country’s development partners, access to information remains a big challenge-especially for journalists.

Some of the key highlighted trends in the new report includes rising information denial by public agencies, delayed responses and unanswered requests that frustrate citizens who seek information for various purposes.

According to the study, data from an online portal dedicated to information requests, shows that 340 FOI requests have been submitted as of 13//7/2020. Users of the online portal include various citizens requesting information. Data reveals that only 36 requests have been successful, meaning that users have got information that they requested.

The press was expected to be one of the major beneficiaries of the law relating to access to information, but journalists are the most affected by non-compliance of institutions. “Access to information remains a challenge, especially among freelancer journalists, partly due to misunderstanding amongst some leaders and institution managers that every journalist should belong to a media house,” noted the study.

According to the new study’s findings, there is a tendency among public and private institutions to have preferential treatment by providing information to big local media houses and the international media.

The report mentions one journalist who sent his inquiry five times without receiving any response. Furthermore, more than 43 percent of journalists said that their request for information have been rejected. This suggests a worrying trend as several cases of information denials have been reported over the past years.

Meanwhile, the study has documented what appears to be a culture of secrecy among public institutions that hide what they are doing, and hence hindering the right to information. “There are agencies that have gained reputation to hardly or never inform the public what they do. This is manifested in withholding information sought for by ordinary citizens, the wider public and the media. It raises questions whether the access to information serves its purpose,” noted the report

The study concludes that the access to information legislation ushered in a new era in right to information and raised hopes among the local media fraternity, regional and international organizations that promote right to know that it would bring about positive changes, promote transparency and accountability.

Despite issues highlighted, the statutory bodies have been running campaigns to educate leaders and the public on the law relating to access to information and raise awareness on right to information. The report also notes some important data and information has been released to the public.

Seven years later, challenges remain. “Notable implementation challenges include low level of understanding of the legislation among all stakeholders mainly government officials and some media practitioners as well as the public,” read part of the study’s conclusion.

Some of the recommendations include the initiation of the amendment of Article 10 of the access to Information Law to provide for sanctions to information officers who withhold information requested without legally accepted reasons.

*The writer is a journalist and researcher who contributed to the study on access to information. The work was carried out   in the context of the Africa Digital Rights Fund with Support from the Collaboration on International ICT Policy for East and Southern Africa (CIPESA)

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Cameroon: 12 Ex-Amba Fighters drop Weapons, Sent to DDR Centre Buea
November 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono in Buea

Ex-Separatist Fighters (mostly in Green, Red and Yellow t-shirt) present weapons used for the armed struggle
Ex-Separatist Fighters (mostly in Green, Red and Yellow t-shirt) present weapons used for the armed struggle

Some 12 persons who before described themselves as Ambazonia fighters have dropped down their weapons, saying no to a war that has been ragging for the past four years.

The ex-fighters were presented to the media November 18, 2020, at the South West Governor’s Office alongside guns and other weapons like locally fabricated weapons used in fighting Cameroon’s forces for an independent state of “Ambazonia”.

The fighters authorities said are coming from camps in Lebialem, a Division in the Region that has felt the brunt of the struggle and from areas like Wabane. Some of the materials seized included amongst others bulletproof vest, den guns, bullets, and canon holsters.

The Secretary-General at the South West Governor’s Office talking to the press said: “As you can see, we have different weapons of different calibres. I want to seize this opportunity to call on those who are still in the bushes to follow suit of their friends and drop by weapons.  In the DDR Centre, the ex-fighters will be received, logged, feed them and medical assistance will be provided to them.

To assist in their smooth reintegration back into society, the ex-fighters at the DDR Centre will be provided with various training. “In the DDR we have more than eight sections of different pieces of training. Let them take this opportunity made available to them they have to stop what they are doing; killings, hiding in the bushes and suffering for nothing,” Dr Mohamadou said.

The SG thanked the SDO of Lebialem Mungambo Ekema William, the DO of Alou Subdivision Kah Fabian Ambang and also the security officials for facilitating the process.

One of the fighters, Ex-General Edwin said he was the one manufacturing some of the weapons presented that day. Edwin, while thanking the administrative officials, lamented that many of them have died in the bush and about six were remaining. Speaking in pidgin, he said he was deceived to take arms against the State.

“War is a dangerous thing, so, that is why I have decided to come out with everything that I have,” he said.

Another fighter, Ex-General Tiger, also from Lebialem, said: “… I want to thank the officials for giving us the courage and the sensitization to come out of the bush.”

He said he thought that it was through payment and connection that people used to drop their arms; little did he know that the Government had opened its hands to embrace them. “I am giving again the last opportunity to my friends in the bushes; Besali, Yern, Batibo, Bali. You people should come out. The Government is forgiving,” Ex-General Tiger said while noting that they used to kill, burn their own houses and kidnap their people. “That was a very bad life,” he said.

He cautioned that some fighters need only “advice, discussion and persuasion, maybe through phone call discussion, before they can drop their arms.”

“Cameroon’s international partners and the UN Security Council should help civilians in the Anglophone regions who are facing violence daily, and demand government forces and separatists stop attacks on civilian targets,” Lewis Mudge, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch said in July of this year. “They should impose targeted sanctions, including travel bans and asset freezes, on separatist leaders responsible for abuses and consider the same for government forces involved in abuses.”

In Anglophone regions, violence intensified as government forces conducted large-scale security operations and armed separatists carried out increasingly sophisticated attacks. Over 3,000 civilians and hundreds of security forces personnel have been killed in the Anglophone regions since 2016 when the crisis started. The unrest in these regions led to the displacement of over half-a-million people, according to Human Rights Watch.

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