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The Challenge From Chad
April 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Lobe Eseme*

Deby out Deby in .French President Macron and new Chadian leader Gen Mahamat Deby Itno at the funeral of President Deby.Photo credit AfP

If we had any doubts about who pulls the strings in Francophone Africa;

If we didn’t believe the late dictator of Chad Idris Deby when he said “L’Afrique est êntre les mains de La France”;

If we believe that a free and fair elections will be held in Chad in 18 months and power will be transferred to a democratically elected President;

If we believe the constitution of Cameroon will be respected should there be a sudden vacancy in the office of Head of State;

Then maybe we should answer this question-

Why is the French President, himself a product of a robust democracy, supporting a coup d’etat in Chad?

Like the Chief Executive Officer of a group of companies, whose duty it is to prevent strikes, Macron flew to Chad with French special forces to take care of business. And business he took care of!

Oh yes!

To France, and indeed to the rest of the world, Africa, especially Francophone Africa is just business.

This mindset!

This attitude!

This disrespect of Africa!

Will not change!

Unless Africa changes!!

If we want to change Cameroon we must go back to the basics.

We must first get our independence.

Like the Algerians did in 1954 after defeating 500,000 French combat troops;

Like IndoChina against France in 1946;

Like the French themselves against their own Monarchy in 1789;

Like the United States against Great Britain in 1775;

Independence is fought for!!!.

It is not negotiated, determined or arranged.

It is taken!

Always with sweat!

Mostly with blood!!!

All the time!!

What France did in Africa in the early 60s and what Africa got, was not independence.

Was never meant to be. 

Coming out of a disastrous loss of their oil fields in Algeria, the French decided to use a different tactic in Black Africa-knowing that Black Africans are stupid, prone to corruption and easily controlled.

The tactic was and is still two-fold:

1. Eliminate nationalists, who are largely of the intelligentsia class.

2. Prop up brutal dictators, who are mostly loyal, mid-level, corrupt buffoons, to suppress popular uprisings.

On this endeavor, we have to give the French an A+ grade.

It has been a great success!

For those of us who want to see a different Africa. A better Africa.

The future doesn’t have to be like the past.

But since there is no omelette without broken eggshells, we must first get our independence.

Not only from France, but from the rest of the world, frankly.

This will require coordinated efforts by many people from all Africa to support each another. 

Africa must rise up through coordinated popular uprisings across the continent.

Our predators, of course, will fight back with everything they have.

And they have a lot!!

They will start wars!

They will kill us!

They will commit genocides!!

And nobody will come to our aid.

We are the only ones to help ourselves.

We are the ones we have been looking for.

God will not intervene.  He will stay out of it. Believe me!!

Because if Africa becomes truly independent, the world order will change and this prospect is frightening to our captors.

What white America is doing to African Americans is not different to what the West is doing to Africa.

It is called suppression and dehumanization. The tactic is meant to kill the spirit and it works!!

The only way is to fight back. There is no other way.

Their fear is our challenge!!

Let’s turn this challenge into our hope!

And make the hope our promise!

This is the prize to pay for the freedom we want.

It is a heavy prize!!!

Are we ready?

* MD, MSPH, FACOEM. Founder/Medical Director, The Loghs Clinic, Louisville, KY

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I used to call myself an Anglophone. I was a fool
April 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Lobe Eseme*

Dr Eseme Wilson

I thought because I come from the part of Cameroon that was stolen from the Germans by the British, I was an Anglophone. I wore that badge with honor. I spoke English with pride to the detriment of my tribal language.

There cannot be any greater betrayal of one’s self, heritage and honor than this. 

If a lion called himself a goat, other animals would laugh at the joke. But other lions may not see it as a joke. It would be a betrayal of the lion world and would warrant his immediate dismissal from the lion kingdom. In fact, he may be killed by the other lions who would indeed mistake it for a goat.

How is then it alright for us to speak another man’s language, wear his clothes, practice his religion, drive his cars, and the worst of it all bear his name and think we are independent?

I don’t get it!!

What happened to us?

What kept us blind?

For this long?

How can generations of people be this weak and stupid?

Our ancestors must be rolling in their graves!

They are saying to themselves. 

Look at the idiots we produced as children!! 

Look!!!!

They don’t even have our names anymore!!!

What happened to them?

Are we this cursed?

I refuse to think so!!

I have travelled this world and have met many people from various parts of the world. I have never met a Chinese called James or an Indian called Paul or a Korean called Jean.

But these are the names Africans give to their children with foolish pride!

If we don’t have the force of our convictions to use our own names, how are we even called a people?

O well! 

Maybe others don’t actually think of us as a people. Maybe we are considered just one evolutionary step above animals and we have to be tamed and named just like slave owners did to their slaves. For the record, slaves were named after their owners.

When people see me, the first thing they see and think is that I am a black man. 

They are right!

When I speak, the first thing they think is that I am African.

They are right too!!

Why then am I called Wilson?

This name was given to my father by a British physician who delivered my grand mother at the Kumba General hospital. He was actually the first native child to be borne there. So the white man called my father Wilson after himself. My grand parents happily accepted it. As a treasured possession, my father gifted it to me with pride. With the blindness of foolishness I transferred the name to my son. 

Yes. I am a fool to think I am a Wilson!!!

But the foolishness stops here and now!!

Until we are proud of who we are, people will never respect us of what we represent.

Africans, wake up!!

To the rest of the world, we are what we look. 

They are right!!!!

*Let’s wear that image with a badge of honor!!!*

* MD, MSPH, FACOEM. Founder/Medical Director, The Loghs Clinic, Louisville, KY

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Ethiopian Launches High-End COVID-19 Testing Lab at Africa’s busiest airport Hub
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Ethiopian Airlines Group, has joined hands with BGI Health Ethiopia, a subsidiary of China’s biotech giant, the BGI Genomics Co. Ltd to launch high-end COVID-19 testing laboratory at its main hub and the continent’s busiest airport, Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.

 It is reported that the testing center has been opened to revitalize the passengers’ business by creating seamless travel experience that includes COVID-19 testing to passengers that are departing or transiting via Addis Ababa.

  It is also added that the state-of-the-art COVID-19 testing lab is equipped with cutting-edge technologies to provide quick and accurate testing for passengers.

   Currently, the lab is reported to have a capacity to carry out 1000 COVID-19 tests a day with a potential to grow further after expansion.

  It is added that regular test results can be obtained within three hours, leading to a convenient travel arrangement by reducing waiting time for testing and result collection.

  Ethiopian Airports CEO Mr. Eskinder Alemu said “We introduced the testing lab inside our hub at Addis Ababa with a view to address our customers’ challenges in travel and revive the passenger service. Originating or transit passengers will no longer have to look for testing centers in the city and wait in lines for COVID- 19 testing. The lab at the airport eliminates the hassle for testing and brings convenience and helps restore passengers’ confidence in travel. The facility is the outcome of the excellent partnership between Ethiopia’s flag carrier and the BGI Health Ethiopia towards ensuring the safety of passengers in line with all international requirements. We will continue to adapt our operations to the new normal so as to ensure customers’ safe travel with Ethiopian. “

  It is also added that further to significantly reducing the time and energy spent for testing, the launch of the testing center at the airport is expected to  elevate Ethiopian customer service and consolidate the airlines’ safety measures at the airport and on-board.

  It is reported that timeliness of COVID-19 test results has been an issue of concern for passengers who wish to transit or extend their stay in Ethiopia and the provision of testing at the airport simplifies customers journey with Ethiopian.

 The laboratory is reported to performs RT-PCR and IgM antibody tests for COVID-19 to departing, arriving and transit passengers with high level of efficiency in delivering the results.

“As a result, Ethiopian hopes to see a revival of passenger traffic following the move,”a spokesperson said.

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Kenya Airways and Congo Airways Sign MOU for Strategic Cooperation
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

The cooperation between Kenya airways and Congo Airways will cover technical capacity building,
commercial cooperation, and human resource training.

Nairobi, April 22nd, 2021 — Kenya’s national carrier, Kenya Airways PLC, has signed a
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Congo Airways to collaborate, strengthen, and
bolster aviation ties between Kenya and The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The signing of the strategic cooperation was witnessed by H.E. President Uhuru Kenyatta and
his Congolese host H.E. President Félix Tshisekedi on the last day of President Kenyatta’s
three-day State visit of DR Congo. The partnership agreement was signed by Kenya Airways
Group CEO Allan Kilavuka and his Congo Airways counterpart Désiré Balazire Bantu in
Kinshasa, DRC.

Mr. Kilavuka highlighted the importance of the strategic cooperation between the two
national carriers and their role in enhancing trade exchange between the two countries and
the importance of collaboration on expertise that benefit the aviation sector, especially as
the aviation sector recovers from the devastating impact of COVID-19.

“The cooperation between Kenya Airways and Congo Airways will cover technical capacity
building, commercial cooperation and human resource training. Part of this will cover costeffective aircraft maintenance and technical expertise, particularly on the Embraer E-Jet fleet
training in engineering, flight deck and crew, route codeshare opportunities and other
synergies,” said Mr. Kilavuka.

“The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and the associated containment measures aimed
at preventing the spread of the Coronavirus disrupted the aviation sector, with most markets
operating at reduced capacity and some fully shutting down. As the global economies
continue to rebound steadily, this commitment provides an opportunity to leverage on the
strengths of the industry players in the future,” added Mr. Kilavuka.

Kenya is looking to leverage the DRC market by diversifying its export destinations,
particularly when the COVID 19 induced disruption has brought into visibility the need for
deeper inter-regional trade. Kenya’s exports to the DRC were valued at 133M US in 2019. The
signing of the MOU comes two months after the 21st EAC Heads of State summit directed the
community’s council to expedite the verification mission following the application by DRC to
join the trading bloc. President Uhuru Kenyatta is in the DRC to strengthen bilateral ties.

Strengthened bilateral between the two countries will boost the National Carrier and Congo
Airways strengthen passenger and cargo transport businesses between the two markets and
the international network.

“Congo Airways is very excited about this agreement with Kenya Airways. This partnership
will contribute to the promotion and the development of both companies. The air transport
sector has been very impacted by the pandemic with COVID-19. Together we will provide
better solutions and innovations. In the future our companies will be able to face the single
air transport market as decided by the African Union,” stated Mr. Balazire Bantu.

KQ currently operates an Embraer maintenance service centre – through its Technical
Department – having flown the e-jets since 2008. Its Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul
(MRO) has two state-of-the-art hangers, mechanical and avionics workshops, and expansive
warehousing capable of handling line and base maintenance of several aircraft models,
including B737s E-Jets, and B787.

The DRC has a population of about 87 million. A GDP size of over USD82 billion presents a vast
market that members of the East African Community have been keen to tap into for years.
The International Air Transport Associations (IATA) estimates that African airlines saw a
combined loss of USD 2 billion due to reduced passenger travel in 2020. Kenya Airways
continues to diversify its services and operations in response to the ongoing impact of COVID19 on the aviation sector.

-About Kenya Airways

Kenya Airways, a member of the Sky Team Alliance, is a leading African airline flying to 41 destinations
worldwide, 34 of which are in Africa and carries over four million passengers annually. In 2020 KQ was
named Africa’s Leading Airline by the World Travel Awards. It continues to modernize its fleet with
its 32 aircraft being some of the youngest in Africa. This includes its flagship B787 Dreamliner aircraft.
Kenya Airways services London, Amsterdam, Guangzhou, Sharjah, Mumbai and over 25 intra-Africa
routesin addition to its passenger network. The on-board service isrenowned and the lie-flat business
class seat on the wide-body aircraft is consistently voted among the world’s top 10. Kenya Airways
takes pride in being at the forefront of connecting Africa to the World and the World to Africa through
its hub at the new ultra-modern Terminal 1A at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

About Congo Airways


Congo Airways is a state-owned company formed on August 15th 2014 which commenced commercial
operations on October 20th 2015. As an IOSA certified company, it is full member of IATA, AFRAA and
ATAF. The company owns two A320 and two Dash 8 Q400 bought on equity. It expects to receive
delivery of four Embraer E2 (two E190-E2 and two E195-E2). It operates 15 routes within its domestic
market and resumed flights within its regional market, including Johannesburg, South Africa, in
December 2020. The airline anticipates reopening additional routes in the second half of 2021 and
adding capacity on long haul destinations for cargo and passenger operations.

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The Impact of Transfer Pricing: The Senegalese Branch and the Foreign Head Office
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

Reforms in transfer pricing were introduced in 2012 in line with the global fight against tax base erosion and profit shifting

By Centurion Tax and Investment Desk

With the enforcement of the new law (No. 2018 – 10 of March 30, 2018) enacted in March 2018 which amended certain provisions of the General Tax Code (CGI), the Senegalese legislator has strengthened and finalized the fiscal measures on transfer pricing. Reforms in transfer pricing were introduced in 2012 in line with the global fight against tax base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS).

Senegal is a member of the inclusive framework of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on BEPS, which currently includes 100 countries. Senegal has ensured through the adoption of minimum standards, that its tax bases will no longer be reduced by means of artificial profit transfers.

In this regard, Senegal has taken advantage of the 2018 tax reform to integrate into its domestic legislation, with certain measures stemming from the BEPS Project. This includes the country-by-country declaration and the introduction through the new Article 17.2 of the CGI; the limitation of the deductibility of the amounts paid by the Senegalese branch to its headquarters that were established abroad.

It should be noted that the concept of a foreign company branch within the meaning of the CGI does not cover the definition adopted by the OHADA legislator. Hence, under the revised Uniform Act relating to the law of commercial companies and economic interest groups (AUSCGIE), branches of a foreign legal person is considered as those belonging to a person outside the territory of the OHADA member states. This concept is to be distinguished from the one retained by the tax regulation which considers as a branch of a foreign legal entity to the one belonging to a person located outside Senegal. Therefore, the limitation of deductibility established will also apply to branches belonging to legal entities located in the OHADA area.

In terms of Article 17.2 the Senegalese legislator has taken up the position of the French Council of State (which, in a judgement dated November 9, 2015) that the transfer pricing rules were applicable to internal financial transactions between a French branch and its foreign headquarter, despite the absence of separate legal personality of the branch. Thus, the tax law recognizes it as its own fiscal personality and the branch does not have a separate legal personality/identioty from that of its head office.

Consequently, the financial flows between a branch and its headquarters are not excluded from the scope of transfer pricing. In this respect, the Senegalese legislator has adopted specific measures to prevent and limit any transfer of profits from the branch to its headquarters.

The main purpose of this article is to present the laws governing the deductibility of expenses incurred by a Senegalese branch in its relations with its foreign head office and analyze the impact of these measures in practice on the different sectors of activity as well as on the tax treaties to which Senegal is party to.

1. The principle of non-deductibility of amounts paid by the Senegalese branch to its foreign headquarters

1.1 Basis and justification of the limitation

From a fiscal point of view, the permanent establishment of a company must be taxed separately even if it has no legal personality. In applying this principle, the tax legislator has extended the requirement of compliance with the arm’s length principle to the privileged financial relationships that exist between a branch and its head office.

In this respect, in order to prevent any transfer of profit from the Senegalese branch to its foreign head office, the Senegalese legislator specifies that payments made in the form of interest or royalties by the Senegalese branch from a foreign company will be deducted from taxable profit.

 In order to understand this concept of provision, it is necessary to make reference to the ministerial reply made by Mr. Georges Mesmin (deb. AN, JO of January 19, 1981, p.245, n° 31725) and the decision of the administrative court of appeal of Paris in  CAA Paris, May 28, 1991 n°2918, Weston Hyde Products Ltd.  It was held that since the branch has no separate legal personality or autonomy over its assets, the payments it makes to its head office actually represent part of the profit made by the foreign company in the country where the branch has been established.

1.2 What about head office expenses and the concept of head office ?

Article 17.2 of the CGI rejects the deductibility of the amounts paid in particular for the management activities by the Senegalese branch to its head office. This limitation has raised questions about the deductibility of head office expenses, which have not yet been defined by the tax legislator or the administrative doctrine. In general, the head office expenses refer to general administration and management expenses, so they could be assimilated to management activities.

Therefore, it becomes imperative for the Senegalese taxpayer to know whether the management services mentioned in Article 17.2 refer to headquarters expenses. In such instances, there is a contradiction between Article 9.5 of the CGI, which provides for the possibility of deducting 20% of the accounting profit for head office expenses, and the limitation set out in Article 17.2. The arbitration of the application of these seemingly contradictory provisions would provide clarity of the tax system to the taxpayers.  To this end, it is recommended that taxpayers take up the issue by inviting the Senegalese tax authorities to give a formal ruling, in particular through a rescript.

In our opinion, the basis of Article 17.2, which takes up the provisions of Article 7 of the OECD Model Convention, was to exclude from the right to deduct all amounts paid by the Senegalese branch to its foreign headquarters. If this was the aim of the Senegalese legislator, the latter should, in order to be consistent, be modified or repealed the provisions of article 9.5 of the CGI. By default, in view of the current tax system, it can be validly argued that the amounts paid by the Senegalese branch to its foreign head office as head office expenses remain deductible up to 20% of the accounting profit made in Senegal.

In addition, would this limitation still apply if the amount is paid to another establishment linked to the central office? One may be led to believe that the Senegalese legislator wanted to avoid this possibility by specifying that the limitation applies to “the central office of the legal person or to any of its offices”. In our perspective, this wording is not sufficient to exclude from the right to deduct sums invoiced by another establishment of the head office. Especially since it raises an even more important question: what reality or content should be attributed to the offices of the head office of the legal person?

Finally, the principle of non-deductibility of amounts due or paid by the branch to the head office is not absolute. It may be overridden in certain situations under certain conditions, in particular because of the nature of the transaction, or the sector of activity of the entities concerned, or also because of the effect of international tax conventions.

Limits to the principle of non-deductibility of amounts paid by the Senegalese branch to its foreign headquarters.

This mitigation is materialized in three cases: (i) in case of reimbursement of expenses incurred by the head office on behalf of its branch, (ii) when it is a banking company (iii) the impact of double tax treaties signed by Senegal.

2.1. The case of expense reimbursements

The Senegalese legislator has excluded all the amounts paid to the foreign head office with the exception of reimbursements of expenses from the deductible expenses. This exclusion is expected because the branch has the responsibility to control these expenses. As such, the branch has the possibility to deduct interest paid at its head office and corresponding to financing contracted from a third party for the needs of the branch.

It should be noted that even if Article 17 of the CGI is not explicit on this point, the reimbursements of expenses in question must comply with the provisions of Article 8.II of the CGI, which sets out the conditions for deductibility. Among other conditions, the reimbursement of expenses must be duly justified and relate to the activity of the branch.

The amounts to be reimbursed must be evaluated practically, as the tax authorities may reject the lump sum and approximate calculations. Therefore, reimbursements are deductible only when they relate to the activity pursued by the branch. The reimbursements of the expenses has further raised some additional questions, particularly with respect to indirect taxation. As a matter of fact, in practice the Senegalese tax authorities claim VAT in cases of rebilling. Reimbursements that are excluded from the scope of VAT are subject to compliance with the following three cumulative conditions:

  • The agent must act under a prior and explicit mandate;
  • He must give an exact account of the amount of the expenditure to his mandate and the reimbursements must give rise to an exact rendering of account;
  • He must justify to the tax department the exact amount of the disbursements and the sums in question must not be the counterpart of a service provided even at cost price.

Thus, the reimbursement by the Senegalese branch of expenses incurred by its foreign headquarters are not subject to transfer pricing rules because they do not reflect a flow of goods or services.

2.2. The banking exception: the case of interest paid to the head office-foreign bank

The legislator of the Senegalese branches of foreign banks has set a principle of non-deduction of amounts paid by a Senegalese branch to its foreign head office. This exception specifically concerns interest paid by the branch to its parent banking institution followed by a loan.

This is in line with the banking legislation which enshrines the principle of single approval. In this respect, the establishment of a duly authorized bank or financial institution in a WAEMU Member State other than the one for which the authorization was granted may be done under the legal status that the applicant bank or financial institution deems appropriate (branch, agency or subsidiary).

In fact, in France, the Conseil d’Etat has confirmed that the deductibility of interest in a banking context in the Bayerische Hypo, Unicredit and Caixa Geral de Depositos cases, which involved the French branches of German, Italian and Portuguese banks respectively. (CE n°344990, 346687 and n°359640 of April 11, 2014).

The derogatory regime applicable to branches of foreign banks is based on the fact that the granting and the collection of advances are operations closely related to their ordinary activity.

In contrast, branches of foreign insurance companies do not benefit from any special regime. As a result, the deduction of financial charges relating to funds made available to them by their head offices is denied to them.

2.3. The impact of tax treaties on the deductibility of amounts paid to the foreign head office

In the case of a tax treaty signed by Senegal, it replaces the provisions of the CGI, including those of article 17.2. Tax treaties may provide for deductibility rules that differ from the provisions of the Senegalese legislation. These rules should be applicable to both the Senegalese branch and the foreign headquarters.

For example, under the terms of the Senegal-France tax treaty, amounts paid by the branch to its headquarters are not excluded from the right to deduct. The said convention even allows for the deduction of a proportion of the head office overheads in proportion to the figure.

On the other hand, the new tax conventions inspired by the OECD model, in the case of the Senegal-UK tax convention and the UEMOA convention, apply the same provisions as article 17.2 of the CGI, which exclude the right to deduct the amounts paid by the Senegalese branch to its foreign headquarters.

However, in practice the Senegalese tax authorities did not apply these provisions. In fact, the WAEMU convention has been in force since 2008 but there has not been a situation where the Administration questioned the deductibility of the amounts paid by the branch to its headquarters.

Even practitioners do not generally raise this specificity when advising their clients on the deductibility of expenses incurred by the Senegalese branch of a foreign legal entity. The traditional analysis in this regard has been limited to the threshold for deductibility of head office expenses under the domestic tax system.

With the introduction of the provisions of Article 17.2 by the new law of March 30, 2018, the tax practice in this matter is bound to evolve, as the tax administration will be more attentive to the relationship between the branch and its headquarters.

The new transfer pricing regime relating to the branch-head office relationship may appear to be a new tax issue. This relative novelty can be explained, among other things, by the fact that the tax authorities do not apply it in practice. The fact remains that there is still a certain antilogy between the provisions of the new article 17.2 and those of article 9.5 of the CGI, which the legislator or the tax authorities must clarify.

In any case, it is now appropriate, to control the determination of the tax result of a Senegalese branch of a foreign legal entity such as bank branches established in Senegal, to ensure the limitation of deductibility introduced both by the General Tax Code and international tax conventions. The innovations made by Law No. 2018 – 10 of March 30, 2018 amending certain provisions of the General Tax Code (CGI), definitely puts Senegal into the space of BEPS.

The fight against the tax base erosion must however be balanced with economic attractiveness. It should be certain that the branch office is a legal form appreciated by foreign investors therefore It allows to penetrate markets durably and efficiently at a relatively lower cost. In light of all the limitations and restrictions built around the branch office, the latter may risks losing all its appeal to foreign investors who will prefer to invest in jurisdictions with certainly more flexible regulations.

Centurion’s Tax and Investment Desk:
We currently represent and provide legal and tax services to a wide spectrum of multinational companies in 13 African Countries.

Our team comprises of advisors who have been engaged in big-ticket legal and tax compliance engagements across Africa, and our CEO is reputed as one of the most trusted business advisers in Africa, having been recently recognised on the 100 most influential Africans.

In its Band 1 ranking of Centurion, Chambers and Partners describes Centurion as “deeply involved in a number of high-profile (projects) ”and our CEO as “highly respected …”

Our legal and tax practice spans several frontier and established markets across Africa, and this has led us to develop a most robust country activity and market entry checklist for about a decade. Our key attorneys on the project have significant, recent and relevant experience, including providing full-suite legal and tax services.

*SOURCE Centurion Law Group

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Basketball Africa League Unveils Official Game Ball Ahead of Historic Inaugural Season
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

Inaugural BAL Season Will Take Place May 16-30 in Kigali, Rwanda

Official Game Ball is Part of Wilson’s Latest Construction Technology and Features Unique Graphics Specifically-Designed for the BAL; Inaugural BAL Season Will Take Place May 16-30 in Kigali, Rwanda.

The Basketball Africa League (BAL) (www.theBAL.com) and Wilson Sporting Goods Co. (Wilson) (www.Wilson.com) today unveiled the Official Game Ball (https://bit.ly/3evca0h) that will be used for the BAL’s historic inaugural season, which will tip off Sunday, May 16 at the Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda. Twelve teams from across Africa will compete in the new professional league. The first BAL Finals will be held Sunday, May 30.

The official BAL game ball was specially designed for the BAL and features the league’s primary logo and social media handle (@theBAL).  The secondary league logo, a continent icon featuring “Inspire, Empower, Elevate,” are also displayed on the ball.  Made of 100 percent composite leather, the official game ball integrates the Evo NXT construction, Wilson’s latest technology featuring an enhanced grip and a soft, moisture-minimalizing feel.

“We are excited to partner with a global leader like Wilson and unveil the Official Game Ball of the Basketball Africa League ahead of our inaugural season,” said BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall.  “Wilson’s rich history in basketball combined with its current product innovations will help us build the BAL into one of the top professional basketball leagues in the world.”

“Our passion and commitment to the players and the sport of basketball runs deep,” said Wilson General Manager of Team Sports Kevin Murphy.  “We are excited to be a part of the BAL’s inaugural season and look forward to a great partnership aimed at growing the game and providing athletes and coaches with innovative solutions to elevate their performance.”

Champions from the national leagues in Angola, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia earned their participation in the inaugural season.  The remaining six teams, which come from Algeria, Cameroon, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Rwanda, secured their participation through BAL qualifying tournaments conducted by FIBA Regional Office Africa across the continent in late 2019.

The BAL groups and additional details about the league will be announced in the coming weeks.

Download High-Resolution Official BAL Game Ball Photos (https://bit.ly/3sNy2ZE(Credit: Wilson Sporting Goods)

About Wilson Sporting Goods Co.:
Chicago, USA-based Wilson Sporting Goods Co., a subsidiary of Amer Sports Corporation, is the world’s leading manufacturer of high-performance sports equipment, apparel and accessories. Wilson’s footprint in basketball spans all levels of play globally, from the Wilson Evolution, the number one iconic Game Basketball in the U.S., to key partnerships including the official Game Basketball of the National Collegiate Athletic Association® (NCAA), the global Game Basketball of FIBA 3×3, the official Game Basketball of the National Basketball League (NBL) of Australia and the official Game Basketball of the Basketball Champions League (BCL) in Europe. The Company brings more than a century of innovation in basketball to every level of play. It uses player insights to develop products that push equipment innovation into new territories and empower athletes at every level to perform at their best.

About the BAL:
The BAL, a partnership between the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the NBA, is a new professional league featuring 12 club teams from across Africa.  The BAL builds on the foundation of club competitions FIBA has organized in Africa and marks the NBA’s first collaboration to operate a league outside North America.

*SOURCE National Basketball Association (NBA)

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Leaders Summit on Climate: African Development Bank President says the continent is “ground zero” of the crisis as major economies boost climate targets
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

African Development Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina on Thursday joined 40 heads of state and government at the Leaders Summit on Climate, where the United States, Japan and Canada announced ambitious climate targets to address the escalating emergency.

United States President Joe Biden said the US would aim to cut carbon emissions by 50% to 52% from 2005 levels by 2030. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Canadian Prime Minster Justin Trudeau upgraded their nations’ targets to more than 40% over the same period.

The United States is hosting the two-day virtual summit. It coincided with Earth Day on Thursday and gave a platform to a diverse range of voices, particularly those from developing countries that have been directly affected by climate-linked disasters and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Biden also announced plans to triple public financing for climate in developing countries by 2024. “Meeting this challenge requires mobilizing financing on an unprecedented scale. The private sector’s already recognized this – they know that climate change is more than a threat. It also presents the largest job opportunities in history,” the US leader said. “But the private sector has more to do and must do. Let’s be clear, even then the private sector cannot meet these challenges alone, governments need to step up and may need to lead.”

During a panel discussion titled “Financing the 10-year Sprint,” Adesina spelled out the challenge that confronts the African continent as the climate crisis worsens and the world races to meet the 2030 deadline for the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Africa contributed the least to rising temperatures but suffered the worst impacts of climate change, in the form of droughts, floods, and plagues like the recent locust invasion in East Africa. Adesina said: “The continent loses $7 billion to $15 billion a year to climate change, and this will rise to $50 billion per year by 2040, according to the IMF. Africa is not at net zero. Africa is at ground zero. We must therefore give Africa a lift to get a chance of adapting to what it did not cause.”

Adesina also highlighted the African Development Bank’s role as a climate change warrior. He said the Bank had committed $25 billion to climate finance over the next four years. Its share of financing devoted to climate rose from 9% in 2016 to 35% in 2019 and will reach 40% in 2021. The African Development Bank is the only multilateral development bank to meet and exceed the 50% parity for climate adaptation and resilience. The Bank devoted 50% of its climate finance to climate adaptation in 2018. In 2020, that rose to a record 63%.

In addition, the African Development Bank recently joined forces with the Global Center on Adaptation to launch the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program, which aims to mobilize $25 billion for climate adaptation by 2025. Supporters of the initiative include UN Secretary-General António Guterres and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

Speakers who preceded the panel included President Félix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who is the current African Union Chairperson, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand, Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica, and Charles Michel, President of the Council of the European Union. Other heads of international financial institutions included International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and World Bank President David Malpass.

Tshisekedi, whose country is home to one of the world’s green lungs in the Congo Basin – as well as the global provider of coltan, used to manufacture tantalum capacitators used in mobile phones, personal computers, automobile electronics and much more – said: “It is important that the summit accelerates the mobilization of additional financial resources, and this should be substantial. This also requires simplifying the procedures for accessing financing for the least developed countries, the majority of which are in Africa,” he said.

Speakers also discussed efforts to shift trillions of dollars of private investment to finance the transition to net zero carbon emissions by 2050. This is what world leaders agreed to in the Paris Agreement at the global climate summit in Paris in November 2016. A key part of the discussion on Thursday dwelt on the $100 billion that wealthy nations had agreed to mobilize annually by 2020 to address the climate financing needs of developing countries.

Malpass said the core of the World Bank’s action plan, a summary of which was published on Thursday, was to spend record amounts to obtain optimal results. “This is the path I hope others will follow,” he said. 

The IMF’s Georgieva proposed robust carbon pricing and phasing out carbon subsidies. “Our analysis shows that without it, we will not reach our climate carbonization goals. It also shows that a mix of steadily rising carbon prices and green infrastructure investment could increase global GDP by more than 0.7% a year over the next 15 years, and create millions of good-paying new jobs.”

*Source AfDB

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Angry Kenyans disrupt IMF online meeting
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Facebook live broadcast was thrown into disarray following disruption by Kenyans with anti-loans comments on Thursday evening.

Kenyans’ comment section of the 24-minute broadcast was full of remarks calling on the international lender to desist from issuing Kenya loans under the tag stop loaning Kenya.

The enraged Kenyans castigated IMF for indirectly funding corruption in the East African nation by giving the government more loans despite the misappropriation of the previous ones.

“It seems you’ve got nothing between your ears. Kenyans are tired of paying loans that were stolen by the corrupt president. Stop confusing Kenya to Kenyatta,” said Tonny Mwangi.

“The cartels in IMF are responsible for the atrocities in Kenya committed by the govt due to the loans,” Reiterated James Oreri.

Gonzag Nick Odero said, “We dont want any loan from you, we are overburdened by the loans, which are being embezzled by few corrupt leaders in the Government of Kenya. We are tired.”

“The future we choose should not include burdening future generations with unnecessary financial obligation,” added Odhiambo Evans.

The meeting christened the exchange: Conversation of better future featured IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva and Christiana Figueres.

The duo deliberated on the effects of Covid-19 and climate change on the economy.

“Over 100 countries realise that climate is crucial and the risks can affect their finances. They understood that we can create green energy and that we as the IMF can help them create policies and a better understanding of climate risks,” Kristalina said.

Early this month, Kenyans flooded social media protesting a $2.34 billion the lender loan to Kenya, saying the country is over-borrowing.

More than 160,000 Kenyans signed an online petition urging the IMF to cancel the loan, noting that loans end in individual pockets instead of wired into the development schemes.

However, they failed to convince IMF to cancel the loan. As of June 2020, Kenya’s public debt stood at Sh7. 06 trillion ($70 billion), which is equivalent to 65 percent of GDP.

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Egypt’s largest solar plant, Kom Ombo, receives US$ 114 million financing package
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the OPEC Fund for International Development (the OPEC Fund), the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Green Climate Fund (GCF) and Arab Bank today signed a US$ 114 million financing package with ACWA Power for the construction of the largest private solar plant in Egypt.

The development of the Kom Ombo solar plant will add 200 MW of energy capacity, increasing the share of renewable energy in Egypt’s energy mix and further promoting private-sector participation in the Egyptian power sector.

The package comprises loans of up to US$ 36 million from the EBRD, US$ 18 million from the OPEC Fund, US$ 17.8 million from the AfDB, US$ 23.8 million from the GCF and US$ 18 million from Arab Bank. This is in addition to equity bridge loans of up to US$ 14 million from EBRD and US$ 33.5 million from Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP).

The new Kom Ombo plant will be located less than 20 km from Africa’s biggest solar park, the 1.8 GW Benban complex. Once operational, the new utility-scale plant will serve 130,000 households.

ACWA Power, a Saudi Arabian developer, investor and operator of power generation and desalinated-water plants, submitted the lowest tariff in what was the first solar photovoltaic (PV) tender in Egypt. The provision of solar energy through a public tendering process aims to achieve a competitive tariff and promote the growth of solar energy as an affordable alternative to conventional energy sources.

Private-sector participation in the Kom Ombo project is the result of successful policy dialogue with the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy and the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC), as well as a US$ 3.6 million technical assistance programme, co-funded by the EBRD and the GCF, to support the EETC in administering competitive renewable energy tenders. In addition, the project has also benefitted from broader energy-sector reforms supported by the AfDB in recent years to scale up the involvement of the private sector.

EBRD President Odile Renaud Basso said: “We are very happy to team up again with ACWA Power in Egypt, after our successful partnership in Benban, to promote renewable energy in Egypt. Increasing the production of clean energy is an important step to reducing carbon emissions and addressing climate change. This is in line with the EBRD’s strategy to become a majority green bank by 2025. This project also marks the EBRD’s first co-financing project with the AfDB and the OPEC Fund in Egypt and we look forward to future joint investment opportunities for our institutions across Africa.”

OPEC Fund Director-General Abdulhamid Alkhalifa said: “We are pleased to contribute to Egypt’s efforts and strategy to expand its generation capacity in the renewable energy space. We have been at the forefront of advocating for access to affordable clean energy for many years. Kom Ombo will be our third project with ACWA Power and it exemplifies great cooperation between government, development finance and private-sector actors.”

The African Development Bank’s Vice President in charge of Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Kevin Kariuki said: “The Kom Ombo solar project is a truly remarkable transaction. It not only clearly demonstrates the indisputable competitiveness of solar PV vis-à-vis conventional sources of generation, but it also directly contributes towards the realization of Egypt’s ambitious renewable energy targets, in addition to being an excellent example of what stakeholders driven by a shared objective can achieve”.

Paddy Padmanathan, President and Chief Executive Officer of ACWA Power, said: “ACWA Power is privileged and proud to lead the realisation of the Kom Ombo PV project. The financing package signed today brings us closer to not only the people and the government of Egypt, but also to our finance partners, the EBRD, AfDB, the OPEC Fund, the GCF and Arab Bank and APICORP, reflecting our shared objective of supporting the energy transition to address the threat of climate change. Kom Ombo PV is the fourth project in ACWA Power’s Egyptian portfolio and the conclusion of this financing demonstrates the confidence in the Egyptian government’s ambitious renewable energy plans, being implemented through private-sector participation.”

Yannick Glemarec, Executive Director of the Green Climate Fund, said: “The GCF is proud to support implementation of Egypt’s ambitious renewable energy financing framework. US$ 154.7 million in GCF resources, including US$ 23.8 million for the Kom Ombo plant, catalyses over US$ 850 million in co-financing and unleashes the first wave of private renewable energy projects in Egypt. The GCF looks forward to continuing to support the government of Egypt in delivering on its ambitious climate targets through innovative partnerships with the private sector.”

Nemeh Sabbagh, CEO of Arab Bank, said: “We are proud to capitalize on our long experience in this sector and partner again with EBRD to provide debt financing and related banking services to another renewable energy project in Egypt for our client ACWA Power. Green financing is one of our strategic focus areas and Egypt is a core market for Arab Bank Group, where we have been operating since 1944”.  

The Kom Ombo plant will contribute to the Egyptian government’s target to generate 42 per cent of the country’s electricity from renewable energy sources by 2035 while delivering one of the lowest generation tariffs on the continent.

*AfDB

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‘Saving lives and livelihoods’ – reflecting on one year of the African Development Bank’s Covid-19 Response Facility
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

Easter Kumbana knew the novel coronavirus was a deadly and highly contagious disease, but he could not afford the basic items needed to protect himself and his family from it.

“I had no money to buy face masks and hand sanitizers because the little money I had was needed to feed my children,” said Kumbana, a resident of Kanyama, an impoverished community on the outskirts of the Zambian capital Lusaka.

Kumbana and other Africans were at the heart of the African Development Bank’s multi-billion dollar Covid-19 Response Facility announced a year ago. The goal was to help millions across the continent deal with the health and economic consequences of the pandemic.

Fortunately, an African Development Bank outreach program in Zambia in which thousands of face masks and hand sanitizers were distributed to vulnerable communities provided Kumbana the needed protection. The program also spread the message about the outbreak through a communications campaign that included radio advertisements and posters promoting social distancing.

“These are extraordinary times, and we must take bold and decisive actions to save and protect millions of lives in Africa,” Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said when the Bank announced the Covid-19 Response Facility. “We are in a race to save lives and we will leave no country behind.”

At the time, there were around 3,000 coronavirus cases on the continent. A year later, the number of infections has surpassed 4 million, with more than 118,000 lives lost. The focus is now on vaccine justice for Africans. Only 2% of Africans have received Covid-19 vaccines, mostly under the COVAX initiative, which is the primary source of novel coronavirus vaccines in Africa. The African Union estimates that at least 60% of the continent’s population need to be vaccinated in order to develop herd immunity and to prevent the disease from becoming endemic.

Aside from the health impact, the continent is also grappling with its worst economic recession in half a century. About 30 million Africans were pushed into extreme poverty in 2020 as a result of the pandemic and it is estimated that another 39 million Africans could fall into extreme poverty in 2021, according to Bank analysts.

By 1 April 2021, the Bank had approved a total of $4.1 billion for all operations under the Covid-19 Response Facility, and disbursed a total of $3.7 billion (90% overall disbursement). Funding has also gone to the World Health Organization, which received $2 million in emergency assistance to reinforce its capacity to help African countries contain the pandemic and mitigate its impacts.

A special $20 million package went to the five Sahelian countries of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger to strengthen their national capacities to stop the spread of Covid-19. It will also help them limit its social and economic impact. This is a region where the pandemic is causing an unprecedented emergency on top of multiple crises.

In the days before the African Development Bank’s response facility, it announced a $3 billion social bond to support its Covid-19 funding efforts.

Apart from funding, the Bank has promoted policy and knowledge management events focusing on the disease and mitigating its impact across a variety of sectors. The Bank’s African Development Institute launched a series of informal discussions to help African countries deliver informed responses to the pandemic. Topics have included health, regional integration and agriculture policies.

Kevin Urama, senior director of the African Development Institute, said the sessions bring together global experts from around the world to offer “reality checks for each policy option proffered.”

“Our objective is to build more resilient African economies in the post Covid-19 world,” Urama said.

*Source AfDB

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African trade finance sees $5 bn in portfolio outflows in Q1 2020 due to Covid-19, but opportunities exist – report
April 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

Constrained global financial conditions caused by Covid-19 have led to massive portfolio outflows from Africa, exceeding $5 billion in the first quarter of 2020, a new continent-wide survey on trade finance has shown. About $3.1 billion left the South African market alone, the report found.

Launched on 15 April 2021, the African Trade Finance Survey Report(link is external) examines how trade finance has evolved during the Covid-19 pandemic and highlights the role it can play in overcoming the social and economic fallout of the disease. The survey was conducted by African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank(link is external)), jointly with the UN Economic Commission for Africa and the African Development Bank-hosted Making Finance Work for Africa(link is external) Partnership.

At the launch, Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said a growing number of international banks were becoming even more reluctant to take on payment risks in countries where economic conditions were deteriorating.

“These massive capital outflows strained African banks, many of which recorded sharp drops in their net foreign assets. This further exacerbated liquidity constraints and undermined the capacity of banks to finance African trade,” he said.

The survey covers the first four months of 2020, including April, when global trade recorded its largest contraction on record. It aims to inform the design of interventions to address market challenges and effectively engage African financial institutions, trade finance intermediaries, regulatory authorities, and national authorities to accelerate efforts to bridge the region’s trade finance gap.

The report made numerous recommendations, including greater engagement between central banks and the industry, a push for increased digitalization and uptake of new technologies, and better data.

Despite the many challenges that came along with Covid-19, some opportunities also arose, the report noted. In fact, a few African countries’ economies showed strong resilience and expansion during the pandemic primarily due to their ability to be agile and to digitalize swiftly over the period.

To mitigate the significant outflows and mobilize for recovery, Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, urged African leaders, especially Central Bank Governors and Finance Ministers and development partners, to further support institutions such as Afreximbank through capital increases and deploy more resources towards Africa’s recovery.  

Mervat Soltan, Chairperson and Managing Director at the Export Development Bank of Egypt, said the Bank had seen a significant increase in its digital services during the pandemic downturn. “Digitalization, which sustained business and trade growth during the pandemic, offers a great opportunity to help reduce costs and increase the use of trade finance facilities, and should become an integral part of the strategy to boost African trade post-Covid-19,” she added.

One way to boost African trade is through the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which the UN’s Economic Commission for Africa estimates can improve intra-Africa trade by over 50%. Bola Adesola, Senior Vice Chairman for Africa at Standard Chartered, said the AfCFTA can provide an ideal platform to help drive new businesses on the continent, which will help accelerate trade.

*Source AfDB .For a replay of the report launch and to access the report and presentation, visit this website

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Namibia and Rwanda among world’s top 10 gender-equal societies:report says
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Rwanda’s Parliament has one of the highest representations in the world.Photo courtesy

Namibia and Rwanda, two of 22 member countries of MenEngage Africa Alliance, are the only countries in sub-Saharan Africa that are fast moving towards attaining gender equality, and they rank 6th and 7th in world rankings, respectively, placing them among the world’s top 10 most gender-equal societies,  according to the recently-released 2021 Global Gender Gap Report. 

 It is reported that Namibia has made a significant move up from being ranked 12th in the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 to the 6th spot in the latest report, while Rwanda has moved up from 9th place to 7th . According to the 2021 report, Namibia has closed 80.9% of the gender gap, and Rwanda 80.5%.  

The Global Gender Gap Report was first introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006 as a framework for capturing the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments. 

The report aims to measure this gap in four key areas: health, education, economics and politics. The rankings are designed to create global awareness of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them. 

The gap in economics, for example, is the difference between men and women when it comes to salaries, the number of leaders and participation in the workplace, while education encompasses access to basic and higher levels of education. Health looks at life expectancy and politics examines the difference between how men and women are represented within decision-making organisations. 

“It is encouraging to see that two countries that have MenEngage Africa networks are making noticeable strides towards achieving gender equality and that they are ranking amongst countries that are known as being gender-sensitive. It shows that interventions working with men and boys to promote gender equality and feminist values are important in ensuring that gender justice does, indeed, take place at country level,” said Bafana Khumalo, co-chairperson of MenEngage Alliance, in reaction to the report. 

However, Khumalo also pointed out that more work still needs to be done towards attaining gender equality. “We would like to see more African countries registering high scores in the equality scales demonstrating an advancement in the attainment of the SDGs and the African Agenda 2063.”

“More countries need to pay attention to the gender gap, not only because such inequality is inherently unfair, but also because numerous studies suggest greater gender equality leads to better economic performance. In fact, the gaps between men and women across health, education, politics and economics need to be narrowed. Overcoming the biases that are keeping us from closing the gender gap represents an overwhelming economic as well as moral imperative, more especially as our societies and economies engage in strategies to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, which we are all aware has impacted women and girls most negatively, even as women have been at the forefront of the response as essential workers and care-givers in families,” said Mpiwa Mangwiro, MenEngage Africa Advocacy Specialist.

The report bench-marks 156 countries and comes out a little over one year after COVID-19 was officially declared as a pandemic. “Preliminary evidence suggests that the health emergency and the related economic downturn have impacted women more severely than men, partially re-opening gaps that had already been closed”, the report states, and it estimates that “at the current rate of progress it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide”. 

This is too long a period to ensure that the gender gap is finally closed. Urgent action is needed at country level to fast-track transformation to ensure that truly ‘no one is left behind’ in our communities. 

The report’s findings at a glance: 

  • The gender gap in political empowerment remains the largest of the four gaps tracked, with only 22% closed to date, having further widened since the 2020 edition of the report by 2.4 percentage points. At the current rate of progress, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take 145.5 years to attain gender parity in politics. 
  • The gender gap in economic participation and opportunity remains the second-largest of the four key gaps tracked. According to this year’s results, 58% of this gap has been closed so far. The gap has seen marginal improvement since the 2020 edition of the report and as a result it is estimated that it will take another 267.6 years to close.
  • Gender gaps in educational attainment and health and survival are nearly closed. In educational attainment, 95% of this gender gap has been closed globally, with 37 countries already at parity. However, the ‘last mile’ of progress is proceeding slowly. The report estimates that it will take another 14.2 years to completely close this gap. In health and survival, 96% of the gender gap has been closed, registering a marginal decline since last year (not due to COVID-19), and the time to close this gap remains undefined.

The performance of Namibia and Rwanda is testimony that this can be done with the commitment from a committed leadership. We commend Namibia and Rwanda for the milestones they have made. We also hope that together with other African countries they can continue to move forward until full parity is attained.  As MenEngage Africa Alliance, we remain committed to contribute to all efforts that seek to ensure that countries in our region improve on policies and practices that advance the course for gender equality. 

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Women and girls in danger as Gender-Based Violence rises in Kenya.
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Gender Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof. Margaret Kobia

Kenya’s Ministry of Gender has unveiled its findings on the possible causes of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the East African nation, several months after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a probe into rising reports of violence against women and girls.

In a press brief on Thursday, April 22, 2021, Gender Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof. Margaret Kobia said the country recorded 5,009 GBV cases in 2020 compared to 1,411 in 2019.

The most common forms of GBV identified by the study include physical assault, rape/attempted rape, murder, sexual offenses, defilement, grievous harm, physical abuse, child marriages and psychological torture.

Poor parenting and moral decadence; retrogressive cultural beliefs, poverty, alcohol, alcohol, drug and substance abuse, domestic disputes, identity crisis among youths and inadequate support system have been blamed for the rising cases of GBV.

According to the CS, the cases are prevalent in the counties of Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Kakamega and Kisumu.

To mitigate rising cases, the ministry put in place some crucial measures, including the establishment of social safety nets, cash transfers and affirmative funds to provide support to self-help groups.

“In response, the government moved with resolve to mitigate and de-escalate the vice by deploying a multi-pronged approach. In September 2020, the Cabinet approved an inter-agency strategy that includes, stakeholders to deal with the matter; six ministries (Public Service and Gender, Interior, Education, ICT, Health and Labour), County Governments, development partners, and other non-state actors,” she said.

Loans worth Ksh.300million (from WEF), Ksh. 60million (from Uwezo Fund) and Ksh. 80million (from the Youth Fund) are now disbursed every month, said Kobia.

She noted that GBV is a complex issue that cannot be fought single-handedly by the government, but all sections of society have an essential role to play, whether big or small, to tame the menace.

CS Kobia recommended continued sensitization and awareness of GBV cases in Kenya, through national and regional media and within the established National Government Administration Officers (NGAO), in partnership with other stakeholders.

“To this end, prioritized programs targeting men and boys as allies, advocates, role models and change agents, championing advocacy efforts against all forms of GBV to mobilize collective action in the communities,” she added.

She encouraged the public to report GBV incidences to the relevant authorities, speak against harmful and retrogressive cultural beliefs and practices and support the victims.

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EU Launches European Youth Sounding Board Zimbabwe.
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Tim Olkonnen

European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe led by Tim Olkonnen on Thursday 22 April launched the European Youth Sounding Board Zimbabwe. Head of European Union in Zimbabwe delegation discloses that 25 youth, 14 women, 11 men of ages 19 to 29 will participate in the development and monitoring of the EU 2021-2027 Multi-Annual Indicative Program.

European Union takes focus on financing joint initiatives with member states as Team Europe in Women empowerment and Smart-Agriculture. Women remain vulnerable, the reason why the big figure takes them in the board meant to down track accountability, transparency of EU Programs in the country.

‘’We decided to act swiftly and decisively towards establishment of the Youth sounding board in Zimbabwe where youth constitutes the majority. ‘

‘’Our engagement with youth will make EU action more participatory, more relevant and more effective as well. We will design actions that really support young people and help empower youth to speak up’’

EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen says this is time to bring young people to the decision making table..

‘’This is time to bring young people to the decision making table.’’ he echoes while from EU headquarters..

The 25 young people in decision making have full knowledge of EU cooperation in Zimbabwe in areas of Human-Rights , gender , equality ,  climate-change , Agriculture , natural resources management , health , sustainable livelihoods , food and nutrition and more other fields  relevant to the EU work in the country . Out of 1,8 billion youth world-wide , 90% are in developing countries . The European Union fulfills its goals to achieve the European Union consensus on development and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.

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Kenya removes LPG gas from zero-rated items
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenyans will be paying more for the liquefied petroleum gas, locally known as cooking gas, after Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) re-introduced 16 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) effective July 1, 2021.

The move is aimed at boosting revenue collection, a representative of the taxman told Bloomberg on Wednesday.

“We cannot at the moment, provide a reliable estimate on the revenue expected to be raised from the imposition of VAT on LPG,” said KRA rep.

Kenya’s treasury scrapped VAT on cooking gas in June 2016 to encourage people to adopt clean energy and reduce the use of charcoal and paraffin.

The Finance Bill 2020 re-introduced the levies; however, the implementation was delayed until the second half of 2021 due to the economic crisis occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The National Assembly and the National Treasury, in agreement, noted adverse effects of the coronavirus such as job losses as the main cause of the deferred implementation.

The introduction of the tax would make life more unbearable to Kenyans who are already grappling with the high cost of living.

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Zimbabwe prisoners participate in a chess behind the wall event
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

Photostory by Wallace Mawire

Zimbabwe prisoners participated on independence day in a chess behind the wall event tournament where inmates played chess against members of the community.

  The event was graced by the Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Prisons Service (ZPS).The tournament was a community bridge building event meant to showcase talent in chess from the prison community.

  The prisoners all show played the game against prison officers.There was also a call for the prison authorities to spread the tournament to all provinces of the country.Another call was to source players from the prison community for the chess national league.

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South Sudan: Kiir Mourns Dèby, orders flags to fly at half mast for three days.
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir receives Chad President Idriss Deby as they prepare to attend the signing of peace agreement between the Sudan’s transitional government and Sudanese revolutionary movements last year, Reuters

Juba – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir  has declared three days of mourning following the death of Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno, a day ago.

Mr Déby, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, reportedly died of injuries from the frontline fighting rebels on Tuesday.

President Déby went to the front line at the weekend to visit troops battling rebels based across the border in Libya when he got Killed.

Two days before his death, provisional results from the election on 11 April projected Dèby would win a sixth term in office.

General Mahamat Kaka, President Idriss Déby ‘son, has been appointed the country’s new leader.

In his condolence message, President Salva Kiir described Déby as one of the figures who helped restore peace and stability in South Sudan.

“On behalf of South Sudan, I express my deepest sympathies to the Chadian people on the death of their president, who fell depending his country,” said Kiir. “I pray that God give all Chadians the comfort they need in this hour to endure this immense loss,” he added.

Kiir said Chad was among the High-Level Ad-hoc Committee established by the African Union in 2014 to help find ways of ending the South Sudan’s five years of conflict.

President also praised Déby for his pivotal role in supporting South Sudan mediate an end to the conflict between the Sudanese government and the various armed opposition groups.

“His behind the scenes work allowed us to achieve the historic Juba Peace Agreement in October, 2020,” said Kiir.

Déby attended the signing ceremony of that Juba peace accord in Juba last year.

“He will also be remembered across Africa for committing Chadian troops to G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Sahel Alliance, a multi-national force formed to deal with the threat posed by the Boko Haram and its affiliate militants in the region,” said Kiir.

Kiir further called on Chadians to “remain united both in action and purpose as they work to achieve meaningful transition that guarantees the stability in their country.”

Kiir ordered South Sudan’s flag shall fly at half-mast during the period of mourning.

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South Sudan Launches Tender for Environmental Audit, Warns of Environment Pollutions
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Petroleum Minister Puot Kang Chol with President Salva Kiir

Juba – South Sudan’s Ministry of Petroleum has launched the opening bid round for its environmental audit tender, warns the private oil companies of environment pollutions.

The launch included a presentation on the value of the environmental audit for the country’s revitalized oil sector and the associated measures being put in place by the Ministry to advance the sector.

South Sudan warned the private oil companies of ecological damage caused to the people and animals at the oilfield.

Both the National ministries of petroleum and environment, and forestry have warned oil companies operating in South Sudan against environmental pollutions that affected citizens’ lives. 

Several reports indicated the manage caused by the oil pollution to the residents include children born deform.

Six oil companies that applied for the tender contract were selected to audit the environmentally affected oil-producing regions of the Upper Nile, Unity, and Ruweng administrative area.

The private companies selected for tender contract competition include Envage Associate (K) LTD, Bright Heritage company limited, CSI International (Bomatex ltd), Panloy, Cowi as Norway Optimum Engineering company. None of these companies is yet to take for the tender contract. 

The environmental auditing process that will be this year.

The Ministry stated that the audit would ensure an accurate assessment of oil, condensate gas reserves and production; the reporting on revenue and investment flows; and the establishment of recommendations on the technical, fiscal and regulatory issues faced by petroleum sector stakeholders.

Oil Minister, Puot Kang said the government would monitor the operation of oil companies, and there must be a continuous environmental audit. 

Minister cautioned oil companies to put the lives of the people first. 

He explained that the environmental auditing exercise aims to find credible information and address environmental challenges in South Sudan. 

Puot further advised that the company that will be contracting for environmental should work with the law.

“When we talk about the environmental audited, it is not like other audits. We are dealing with the life of our people. And we are dealing with the lives of our people, and then we must be careful,” said Kang during the launch of tender oil contract that will audit the environment in Juba.

“When the report does come out, whichever company we select must ensure that the report is based on facts,” said Kang.  “We will make the report public and provide details as to why we selected the specific company in order to be transparent.”

The Minister of Environment and Forestry Josephine Niphon urged oil companies to operate within the law, particularly petroleum, to avoid environmental pollutions that affected the lives of local communities.

She warned the company of any negligence that might result in the loss of lives in the oil operation without complying with the law.

On the same event, the representative of Unity state government, Hon. Malual Tap Diu, Minister of Finance, said companies should protect the environment and put lives first. 

He argued the share payable to the state where oil is operating should not jeopardize people’s health.

 “I want to remind the ministry of petroleum and stakeholders that the five percent give to the state are not in exchange the lives of our people,” said Tap.

Promotion Local Oil Companies

Minister Puot emphasized the value and promotion of local content within South Sudan’s oil sector, together with the promotion of local company participation and equal opportunities for South Sudanese companies. 

Through the enforcement of a unified human resource policy that ensures the safety and well-being of oil sector workers in the country, South Sudanese citizens are being put at the forefront of the sector’s revitalization.

“We have also come up with local content laws to protect the local people and companies. In the procurement department, opportunities should be available for local companies and they should have the priority in the sector. We are not chasing foreigners away, we are simply prioritizing local participation,” said Kang.

According to the Petroleum Ministry, since the starting of oil production in 1997 in then Sudan, environmental affected have never been audited in South Sudan.

The environmental report recommended a five-year clean-up that would cost about $58 million. 

East Africa’s youngest nation, founded nearly 10 years old, expects its oil industry to generate $99 million in revenue each month from July 2019 to June 2020, according to the national budget.

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Foreign troops won’t end the terrorists attacks in Cabo Delgado – FRELIMO
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Mozambique does not need foreign troops to fight terrorism in Cabo Delgado province, Roque Silva, secretary-general of ruling party Frelimo has said, adding that if foreign intervention was effective, countries like Afghanistan and Libya would be at peace.

He noted that the presence of Zimbabwean and Tanzanian troops had also not resolved the war against former paramilitary group Renamo in Mozambique.

Mozambique had competent human resources and the time to tackle the problem of terrorism, but only lacked logistical support, he said, arguing that security forces had recently succeeded in expelling insurgents from the town of Palma, even with limited resources.

Last week Silva visited the Cabo Delgado districts of Chiúre and Ancuabe, where he met people in refugee camps who had fled the war. While he was deeply saddened by their horrifying experiences, he was satisfied that they were now able to rebuild their lives and were starting to harvest crops, he said.

Former minister and member of Frelimo’s guiding Political Commission Tomaz Salomão said two weeks ago that Mozambique should not accept foreign troops coming to fight terrorism in Cabo Delgado, arguing that once they entered, they would “never leave.”

Salomão said that it was better for foreign governments to supply logistics support and training, as the Mozambican government had asked for.

He added that the timing of the attack on Palma, just days after Total and the government announced that work would resume at the site of Total’s natural gas project, suggested that the attack had been well planned and prepared, and that attackers were just waiting for the right moment to “pull the trigger”.

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After a cautious start, Africa’s policymakers should accelerate the implementation and adoption of AfCFTA
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Vinod Madhavan*

Vinod Madhavan is Head of Trade at Standard Bank Group

Africa’s policymakers need to ensure that the momentum behind the African Continental Free-trade Area (AfCFTA) is not lost following the trading bloc’s launch in January. This initiative could act a much-needed stimulus for the continent’s economies in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

Signed in Rwanda in early 2018, AfCFTA is aimed at promoting the free movement of businesspeople, goods and investments across Africa – a market of 1.2-billion people. The intention is to remove cross-border tariffs on 90% of goods by 2030, alongside the dismantling of non-tariff barriers such as policy inconsistencies, inadequate transport infrastructure, cumbersome paper-based trade processes, and border and customs inefficiencies.

If successful, AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-African trade from the low levels of c. 17% seen today, which in turn will promote industrialisation and economic growth.  Multiple studies has shown that increase in trade has a direct impact on reducing unemployment in a market.

In our view, the East African Community – which has had good traction in terms of regional trade integration – clearly demonstrates the benefits that AfCFTA could bring to the continent as a whole. Thanks in part to their reduced reliance on offshore markets, East African nations including Tanzania and Ethiopia evaded a recession in 2020 despite the pandemic, according to IMF data. Regional powerhouse Kenya contracted marginally last year and is expected to grow by 7.6% in 2021 and 5.7% in 2022.

Interventions required

While African governments moved quickly to ratify and then operationalise AfCFTA, there is a risk that momentum will slow. Given the need for an economic boost and the slowdown in globalisation – a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic after supply chains were severely disrupted – this is an opportune time to maximise the AfCFTA opportunity.

For one, there is a need to stimulate private sector investments aimed at reaping the benefits of the trading bloc. In addition, we must promote creation of risk appetite (i.e., net increased country risk, counterparty risk and even sector risk) which would help intra-continental trade, particularly amongst small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

As an example, an East African company that exports flowers to Europe should be encouraged to also tap into the African market. To encourage this move, policymakers, development finance institutions, banks and other stakeholders will need to solve for challenges such as availability of finance and foreign exchange shortages.

Given the dollar shortages in many countries, there is a need to leverage and accelerate initiatives such as the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), which has been led by the African Export-Import Bank. Standard Bank is evaluating how one could leverage PAPSS and similar pan-African projects.

To increase risk appetite to facilitate intra-Africa trade, the public and private sectors should come together and consider the creation of a pan-African trade finance guarantee programme for SMEs, with appropriate risk mitigations. This is not easy (as any multi-institution initiative creates complexity) but if realized, it could incentivise greater intra-African trade and would likely have numerous positive knock-on effects.

Businesses also need more clarity on where tariffs are being reduced or eliminated. For the time being, there is little information available to corporates, in this regard, and this may be holding back investments.

Standard Bank has noted increased interest from global multinationals and other corporates in setting up facilities in Africa aimed at serving the continent and exporting abroad. More transparency around tariff reductions, both in terms of timelines and details of which goods etc., could prompt these companies to take action.

Meanwhile, more attention needs to be given to the digitisation of trade processes. Currently, trade in Africa is largely reliant on physical documentation, and this is a major impediment. Policymakers should prioritise regulatory amendments that allow for the digital signatures, digital certificates of origin, digital bills of lading and other documentation.

Standard Bank is involved in various trade digitisation projects, alongside other initiatives to reduce trade friction, including cloud-based projects aimed at linking up sellers with buyers.

We are encouraged that some AfCFTA-aligned infrastructure projects are underway, including an upgrade to the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, said in his latest budget speech that the government will upgrade and expand the country’s six busiest border posts, using public-private partnerships.

The government will also support AfCFTA by implementing a more modern risk‐based capital management flow system, he said, adding that much progress had been made in implementing the new system, with new regulations set to be published in the near future.

We believe that AfCFTA is a significant opportunity for the continent, and we hope to see nations build on the momentum that was behind this initiative in recent years. Supply chains globally are being realigned, meaning the opportunity to apitalize on this opportunity is upon us.

*Vinod Madhavan, Head of Trade at Standard Bank Group

*

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Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021, 8th edition to be conducted on 27th to 29th April 2021, with 19 African First Ladies as Guests of Honor
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

  • The 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary will be co-chaired by H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation
  • The President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. Mr. EDGAR LUNGU and Chairman of Merck KG executive board, Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp will officially inaugurate the “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” Online.
  • More than 2000 healthcare providers, policymakers and media from over 70 countries will benefit from the Luminary.

Lusaka, Zambia: Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany, will conduct their annual conference, the 8th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” from 27th April to 29th April 2021 in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Zambia. The conference will be conducted on a virtual platform, and will be inaugurated by H.E. Mr. EDGAR LUNGU, The President of Zambia along with Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, and is co-chaired by H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.

Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, emphasized, “We are proud to welcome our Guests of Honors and Keynote Speakers, the First Ladies of 19 African Countries and African Ministers of different sectors from more than 25 countries. Together, we will discuss our strategy to build healthcare capacity and establish a strong platform of specialized trained medical experts to be the first in their countries and to define interventions to break infertility stigma and support girl education. This annual scientific and social education program will also engage healthcare providers, academia and media in an open dialogue and deliberations on various topics with the aim to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions.”

Following the Inauguration of the Luminary, on the 27th of April, a high-level panel meeting of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Committee, will be conducted together with 19 African First Ladies to discuss healthcare and social issues that can be addressed to contribute to the Social and Economic Development in Africa; and advance healthcare, media and awareness capacities and capabilities in these countries. The African First Ladies attending the conference as Guest of Honor are:

  • H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia Co-chairperson of 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary
  • H.E. Mrs. ANA DIAS LOURENÇO, The First Lady of the Republic of Angola
  • H.E. Mrs. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of the Republic of Botswana
  • H.E. Madam SIKA KABORE, The First Lady of Burkina Faso
  • H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of the Republic of Burundi
  • H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic
  • H.E. Madam DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, The First Lady of the Democratic Republic of The Congo
  • H.E. Mrs. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia
  • H.E. Mrs. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana
  • H.E. Madam DJÈNÈ CONDÉ, The First Lady of the Republic of Guinea
  • H.E. Mrs. CLAR MARIE WEAH, The First Lady of the Republic of Liberia
  • H.E. Mrs. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of the Republic of Malawi
  • H.E. Mrs. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique
  • H.E. Mrs. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of the Republic of Namibia
  • H.E. Dr. Mrs. AISHA MUHAMMADU BUHARI, The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
  • H.E. Mrs. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone
  • H.E. Mrs. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe

“I am looking forward to welcome my dear sisters, Her Excellencies, for the conference. Moreover, I am also very happy that during the conference will also mark an important occasion; the 4th Anniversary of Merck Foundation”, added Senator, Dr. Kelej.

On the 28th of April, MARS- Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit will be held where a High-Level Panel Discussion with Ministers of Health, Science and Technology, Education, Information And Gender and MARS Researchers will be held with the objective to empower African young researchers & women researchers, advancing their research capacity and empower them in STEM.

On the third day, 29th April, Merck Foundation Health Media Training will be organized for the African and Latin American Media fraternity to emphasize the important role that media plays to break the stigma around infertility, in raising awareness about infertility prevention and empowering girls and women through education.

Other important scientific sessions in different medical fields will also be held in parallel on Day 2 and Day 3 of the Luminary.

During Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary, in order to contribute to the social and economic development of Africa and Asia, more than 2000 Healthcare providers, policymakers, academia, researchers and health media from more than 70 countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America will benefit from the three days conference that contain valuable educational and social development sessions in four languages; English, French, Spanish and Portuguese by top International experts in Diabetes, Fertility, Oncology, women health, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Respiratory and Acute Medicine and Health Media with the aim to raise health awareness and improve disease management, early detection and prevention, build healthcare capacity and improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions across the three continents.

The Luminary’21 will also mark the announcement of two awards for media fraternity, Merck Foundation Africa Media Recognition Awards  “More Than a Mother” 2021 and Merck Foundation “Mask Up With Care” Media Recognition Awards 2021; two awards for fashion fraternity, Merck Foundation Fashion Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021 and Merck Foundation “Make Your Own Mask” Fashion Awards 2021; in addition to Merck Foundation Film Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021 and Merck Foundation Song Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021.

Countries participating in the 8th Africa Asia Luminary include:

Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central Africa Republic, Cambodia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea – Bissau, Guinea – Conakry, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, U.A.E, UK, Uganda, US, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe and more.

The 8th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary will be streamed live on 27th April, from 14h to 18:030h (Gulf Standard Time) and on 28th and  29th April 2021 from 13h to 18:00h (Gulf Standard Time), @ Merck Foundation Facebook page and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Facebook page.

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About Merck Foundation

The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit www.merck-foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flicker.

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House Passes Bass Bill To Strengthen Support For U.S. – Africa Partnership
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
President Biden has signaled to the world his support for strengthening our partnership with the continent of Africa and the countries there,says Congressmember Bass.Photo credit Drew Angerer/Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives passed the Young African Leaders Initiative Act of 2021, H.R. 965, authored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights.

“Already, President Biden has signaled to the world his support for strengthening our partnership with the continent of Africa and the countries there,” said Congressmember Bass. “The Young African Leaders Initiative flourished under President Obama and Vice President Biden. I commend my colleagues for passing this important bill to solidify our embrace of the future of the continent. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this bill to President Biden’s desk.”

The Young African Leaders Initiative Act makes the State Department’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) permanent. The program is the U.S. government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Nearly 1 in 3 Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35. YALI was launched in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across sub-Saharan Africa. Through this initiative, young African leaders are gaining the skills and connections they need to accelerate their own career trajectories and contribute more robustly to their respective countries, the continent, and world.

Read the introduced text of the bill here.

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Contextualising Ethics in a Dynamic World
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

Dr. Kathryn Toure, Regional Director, IDRC Nairobi office for eastern and southern Africa, with assistance from Angela Baiya and other IDRC colleagues[1]

for HUMA-FIFE “Ethical Humanitarianisms” webinar no. 1 on Humanitarianisms: Values, Canons and Ethical Considerations

part of a 9-month series organized Apr.-Dec. 2021 by Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA, University of Cape Town, South Africa) and Friedensau Institute for Evaluation (FIFE, Friedensau Adventist University, Germany)

20 April 2021


I was happy to participate in the first session of the nine-month “Ethical Humanitarianisms” webinar series, alongside Carl Manlan of the Ecobank Foundation and Lucy Koechlin of the Oumou Dilly Foundation. This paper summarizes and elaborates my contributions.

Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has been supporting researchers in the Global South for over 50 years, to respond to local, national, regional, and global challenges and aspirations. Currently, we fund work at about 340 organizations across the African continent. I have worked with IDRC for eight years and draw here on IDRC experiences in discussing research ethics.

Research ethics have to do with the attitudes and practices of researchers that ensure respect for the rights and dignity of individuals and communities[1]. Easier said than done! Especially when even the term “research” is linked in many people’s minds to European imperialism and colonialism, according to Linda Tuhiwai Smith in her book on Decolonising Methodologies[2].

I will mention the IDRC Corporate Principles on Research Ethics and some findings from research on research ethics in Africa and the Middle East. I will share some lessons we are learning from IDRC grantees, including about participatory research processes and power analysis, and wrap up with some reflections on representation and communications.

On the one hand, research ethics are universal in that that they have to do with respecting rights and dignity, not doing harm, and ensuring community participation in research and benefits to the communities where the research takes place. On the other, context is dynamic and plays a role in determining the ethical considerations in research processes. Tensions exist. How do we ensure that some dominant voices, including those of researchers and research funders, respond to contextual realities and relations rather than dictate ethics to those they research and fund?

I argue for the need to conduct research on research ethics, be cognizant of power relations, promote participation and inclusion, continually learn across cultural, disciplinary, organizational, geographic, linguistic, and other boundaries, and evolve practices to keep up with changing times and situations.

1. IDRC Corporate Principles on Research Ethics

At IDRC, we established an Advisory Committee on Research Ethics (ACRE) to guide Centre employees and promote regular staff learning about research ethics. The IDRC Corporate Principles on Research Ethics are available on our web site. The three principles have to do with respect for persons, animals, and the environment; concern for the welfare of participants in research processes; and the need to treat people fairly, equitable, and with dignity. The research we support endeavours to “adhere to universal concepts of justice and equity while remaining sensitive to the cultural norms and practices of the localities where the research is carried out.”

The IDRC corporate principles on research ethics draw on the Canadian Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). An online tutorial (TCPS 2: CORE Course on Research Ethics) on the statement on ethical conduct is hosted by the Government of Canada for researchers and members of research ethics committees.

Our principles on research ethics do not exhaust all ethical concerns, but they guide us. IDRC states that research work involving human participants must be carried out in accordance with high ethical standards. In contexts where there is no official institutional or national research ethics body, IDRC suggests the research teams set up an ethics committee for the project.

Similarly, guidelines involving ethical use of animals in experimentation have been established by IDRC. All research teams are expected to provide valid proof of permissions for animal experimentation protocols relevant to their legal jurisdiction. For programs such as the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund, no more than 15% of the total budget may be expended on studies involving animals until the requisite approvals are in place and notification to that effect has been provided. To ensure proof of compliance with animal welfare laws, rules, and regulations, research teams must (on an annual basis) provide a signed letter from their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Chairperson (or equivalent), attesting that all research undertaken during the reporting period conformed to appropriate animal welfare laws and ethics protocols.

Regarding research involving humans, in southern Africa, leaders of the San peoples are “convinced that most academic research on their communities has been neither requested, nor useful, nor protected in any meaningful way.” Thus, in 2017, the South African San published the San Code of Research Ethics. It requires researchers “intending to engage with San communities to commit to four central values”: fairness, respect, care, and honesty, “as well as to comply with a simple process of community approval.”[3]

2. Research on research ethics

To continually deepen understandings of ethical issues, IDRC funds projects specifically on ethical questions in research. The University of Cape Town is exploring tensions in private sector- or industry-funded research, when commercial interests may be at odds with development goals.[4] The results will inform learning modules and toolkits on managing conflicts of interest in ethics review committees and institutional review boards across the continent, to protect people and the integrity of public health research. The findings will inform, for example, the development of learning modules for ethics review committees and institutional review boards via the Advanced Research Ethics Training in Southern Africa program of Stellenbosch University, a collaboration between the university’s Centre for Medical Ethics and Law and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Wits University in collaboration with the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) offers an eight-week online course on Research Ethics and Integrity, with professors from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. Those who take the course are expected to learn to articulate the philosophical and moral principles of ethics, resolve ethical problems in decision-making, apply scientific integrity and publication ethics, support research protocol development and good clinical practice, and, finally, and importantly, help sustain a culture of research ethics.

In the Middle East and North Africa, three teams, funded by IDRC, seek to strengthen the application of research ethics. One team is mapping research ethics processes in the social sciences.[5] Another, which includes Birzeit University in the West Bank, is drawing on case studies to produce contextually relevant research ethics protocols in social sciences, public health, and humanities research.[6] A third team is reaching out to young scholars to get their perspectives on ethics.[7]

 

The Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) brings together 15 national councils in Africa that makes grants for research. Council staff meet regularly to learn from each other, plan transnational collaborations, and advance African leadership in science. In March 2021, SGCI hosted a seminar on ethics and integrity in research and innovation in Africa. The Scinnovent Center, a think tank in Kenya, commissioned a paper[8] for the webinar.

The participating research council representatives noted the need for training of researchers in research ethics and ongoing learning to enhance the application of best practices. They stressed that organisational ethics and integrity guidelines and standards need to reflect specific sociocultural contexts and be adapted over time as situations evolve. Understanding that the world is bigger than the interests of those who fund research, ethics protocols should be elaborated by or in consultation with the communities served by research.

At the SGCI webinar, there was also interest in how to identify and prevent academic bullying, “an important but ignored factor in science’s backyard[9].” Academia needs to be intentional about cultivating environments where collaboration is promoted, and bullying called out. United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) has a position statement and forum on preventing bullying and harassment. The Ford Foundation explores the role of funders, in the #MeToo era, in responding to abuses alleged[10] in the organizations it supports[11].

As part of the work on research ethics with science granting councils in Africa, the Association of African Universities is collaborating with the African Academy of Sciences to fund participatory studies[12] across the continent at national and regional levels on “Deepening knowledge and implementation of research ethics,” including one study from the perspective of gender transformative approaches[13]. These studies promise to be a rich source of information for researchers and communities as well as for research ethics committees and research funders in Africa and beyond.

IDRC work[14] with about 40 policy research organizations in 20 countries around the world revealed that many of these organizations struggle to integrate strong ethical procedures within their organisational culture and processes. The processes, which may not be particularly inclusive, are often check-box procedures which include criteria that may themselves be outdated. If ethics affect us all, and we are all responsible for how they manifest in our reality, then something more is needed at the organisational level: buy-in from organisational leadership; ownership by all organisational members; feedback and learning loops which support and reinforce positive behaviours and attitudes by all those involved in research.

Despite these ongoing challenges, there is increasing awareness about research ethics among researchers and members of research ethics committees and institutional review boards. Non-researchers sit in audience with researchers in these committees and boards to review research proposals and ethical questions and provide guidance. Together, the diverse members of these committees and boards discuss the risks for participants and the potential benefits of the research. A global researcher funder should account for differences in power and resources among researchers in the Global South and the Global North.

Every year, IDRC hosts a dozen young Research Awardees, some of whom conduct research on research ethics. Through their annual work, we stay abreast of developments and new insights. For example, in 2021, a Research Awardee, working with the Home-Based Care program of the Rwanda Biomedical Center, is researching ethical issues around the use of a widely used mHealth tool, which is part of Rwanda’s public health response to covid-19. The work will support Rwanda’s institutional review boards to create an ethics framework regarding home-based or remote care of patients. The research questions have to do with ethical conduct, the influence of patients and healthcare providers on the evolution of the approach and tools, and equitable access to care.[15]

An IDRC Research Awardee in 2018 researched the ethics of conducting adolescent reproductive health work with Syrian refugee girls in Jordan. The researcher found the need to consider cultural norms about reproductive health, respect autonomy and rights, and analyze power relations including with donors. The research showed how some girls were coerced to participate in studies and over-researched (see Figure 1). The researcher recommended richer ethics curriculum and training for researchers, enhanced public and participant ethics awareness, age-specific ethical guidelines, and increased supervision of ethics.

Figure 1: Ethical challenges and themes found in research on the ethics of reproductive health work with Syrian refugees[16]

In 2018 a cohort of IDRC Research Awardees published their findings from case studies on ethics in a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Bioethics titled Ethics and International Development Research. The case studies from around the world relate the experiences of young researchers studying research ethics. The special issue includes a paper on responsible access to data in Tanzania and one on the role of social capital in obtaining ethics approval in Ethiopia.

Research on research ethics is important. Research methods are also important. How can research respond in real time, given that the contexts in which research is undertaken are also changing rapidly and dynamically? How can the research methods used to explore research ethics reflect the complexity and rapid evolution within different contexts? Can participatory methods help close the gap between research participant, researcher, and funder? Will research better account for the complexity of human predicaments when an intersectional lens is employed?

3. Learning from IDRC grantees and other research communities

At IDRC, we depend a great deal on our grantees and other research communities to learn about ethical issues and come to approaches to ethics that are mutually negotiated. We try to listen to the voices and experiences of our grantees in the different contexts in which we work.

For example Just Associates in southern Africa developed a “Feminist Participatory Action Research Ethics and Security Protocol.”[17] Feminist participatory action research (FPAR) accounts for women’s multiple identities and worldviews. It reconstructs conceptions of power beyond male and mainstream perspectives to help people tell their stories. And it is oriented toward action.

The ethics and security protocol was developed in the context of Just Associates’ research on Strengthening women’s voice, power and safety to address gender-based violence in Malawi and Zimbabwe. According to the protocol, ethics are not just rules, regulations, and laws but rather good practices to be observed during research.

The implementation of the protocol helps to ensure that research participants are protected from potential harm throughout the research process and that unnecessary and unwanted pain and suffering are avoided or alleviated. It suggests processes for listening and responding to each other, on the terms of the research participants. “Ethical decisions during research are often difficult and this is the reason why the FPAR process is guided by ethics which are based on care for self, others and the whole environment in which research is taking place.”

The protocol promotes participation and inclusion by those who will be impacted by the research. It proposes a power analysis to expose existing power dynamics and try to ensure that those power dynamics are not reproduced in the context of the research. This includes an analysis of who is funding the research and how the research problems and objectives are determined.

IDRC promotes learning among grantees across disciplinary, national, and linguistic borders. There are also cultural, social, gender, class, and other boundaries. The sharing of lessons and best practices across borders and boundaries can help deepen understandings of ethnical practices. For example, the work of Just Associates on the development and implementation of its research ethics and security protocol inspires grantees like Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust (YETT) and the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), both in Zimbabwe.

A review of literature and of policies and programs in 14 countries of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, by the “Covid Collective” of the Institute for Development Studies calls not only for participatory approaches but also the use of an intersectional lens in responding to covid-19 and contextualizing data within systems of power[18]. These are ethical concerns, because they have to do with the quality and thus the utility of research and the need to consider humans not as monolithic or in dichotomies (i.e. woman or man, rich or poor, black or white) but as complex multilayered beings with intersecting and intertwining her/histories and identities.

4. Tailoring research ethics

At IDRC we are learning more about research ethics in contexts of multidimensional fragility (including political, societal, economic, environmental, and security dimensions)[19] and in countries, like South Sudan, at critical democratic junctures, where building up the national knowledge system is important for long-term development.

Some question the ethics of referring to “fragile” contexts and consider the term pejorative and the approach deficit (rather than strength or asset) based and prefer more appreciative inquiry. Notwithstanding, “fragile contexts are marked by multiple and mutually reinforcing challenges, including institutional, livelihoods, climate, and economic, and all these render populations and research participants more vulnerable.”[20] The same principles of research ethics apply in fragile situations as elsewhere, and they need be tailored to the circumstances.

Ethical considerations in fragile contexts include the safety of researchers and participants, consideration of trauma, application of the do-no-harm principle, and balancing researcher incentives and risks with societal benefits. Research ownership and localisation of the research agenda matter[21]. People and organizations in the communities in which the research takes place need to be involved for the research to be meaningful, and research partnerships need to be based on equality. The Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings highlights key principles to take into consideration.

At a 2019 consultation IDRC organized in Amman, Jordan, the consensus was on the need to “put people at the centre: their vulnerabilities, rights and aspirations, and diversity including gender and ethnicity.” These concepts are being integrated into the guidelines of IDRC’s Advisory Committee on Research Ethics.

Working with migrants and youth and other potentially vulnerable communities of people also brings added ethical considerations. The principle of justice is important, as in the example of Just Associates and its Feminist Participatory Action Research Ethics and Security Protocol. Care should be taken to ensure there is no exploitation of vulnerable groups or any other participants in the research. Researchers need to be aware of and take measures to avoid harmful biases which disempower any group of people. A threat analysis for each group of participants is recommended, because risks vary from context to context and person to person.

Research has for a long time been conducted both in person and virtually[22]. The covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying necessary confinement is bringing more attention to new kinds of research in virtual settings. A researcher from the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development in Bangladesh and co-authors call for sharing innovative methods for “finding out fast” in the context of covid-19 and also for orienting research partnerships across the global North and South for strong Southern leadership[23]. Researchers are also sharing perspectives on doing remote participatory research[24].

Purbita Sengupta and Megan Douglas, two IDRC colleagues and former Research Awardees, in a forthcoming paper[25], use a lens of decolonising knowledge to address the ethics of researchers in the Global South conducting virtual research funded by organizations in the Global North. What are the implications of greater physical distance between researchers and communities where research is conducted? How do researchers remain connected to reality? How do donors ensure relevance to changing contexts? How do all actors question existing hierarchies of power and knowledge production?

As more researchers shift to more virtual methods, it is important to consider how researcher-participant relations are changing and what measures should be taken to limit power differentials and encourage participatory methods. The forthcoming paper proposes that a feminist, decolonizing framework can help address power differentials, because it considers the ways in which power is reproduced, acknowledges different forms of understanding, and recognizes that everyone is a holder of knowledge. The paper applies a decolonization lens to the ethical and methodological challenges surrounding privacy and the consent process for virtual qualitative research that uses online interviews and surveys. There are many different approaches to decolonizing knowledge in the virtual research space, such as creating more inclusive funding mechanisms and promoting broader knowledge sharing channels.

Conversations about and actions to decolonize the production and use of knowledge are critical ethical issues, especially when the Black Lives Matter movement is becoming a global phenomenon. IDRC participated in the November 2020 Victoria Forum on “Bridging Divides in the Wake of a Global Pandemic,” hosted by the University of Victoria and Canadian Parliament, with participation of people from around the world, including First Nation peoples, in a session on decolonizing knowledge to bridge social divides.[26]

Research ethics are seen by some as ways to contribute to the decolonization of research, and not just as box-ticking exercises to meet criteria of research ethics committees, showing adherence for example to ethical practices in the biomedical sciences. The debate from this angle leads to understanding more deeply how research should not do harm. Knowledge processes needs to consider culture and history.

5. Ethics in representation and communications

Using appropriate photos and language in communications is important. At IDRC, because research is publicly funded, we try to make sure that the work of grantees is publicly available. We also reflect on how we aggregate and share research findings, to ensure that how we communicate does justice to communities where the research is conducted, promotes equality, and ensures that we do not unintentionally reinforce us-them stereotypes rooted in global power and colonial legacies (example: using words like “field picture” without names or geographical identification). We have been called out, and we have also called out grantees – for example for oversimplifying complex situations by tweeting how a white man is finding solutions to African women’s mobile telephony conundrums. See the New York Times article Foreign Aid Is Having a Reckoning on decolonising the development sector.

Conclusion

Research ethics are important, to ensure that participants in research processes are respected and protected, and that research benefits the communities in which it takes place. Research ethics are evolving conceptually, for example regarding decolonising knowledge and development. They are also evolving practically, for example by employing an intersectionality lens and being participatory instead of extractive. The augmented use of digital tools may also raise new kinds of ethical issues. Research ethics are rooted in dignity for people and society and need to account for power relations in different contexts and be negotiated. Research on research ethics is necessary to highlight existing and emerging ethical dilemmas and inform practices, protocols, and curricula on research ethics. Communities, like the San peoples of southern Africa are developing tools and processes to hold researchers accountable. Research managers and funders in Africa and beyond are updating courses on ethics to take ethics beyond a checkbox activity to promote attitudes, cultures, and practices of mutual respect. Discussion of ethics like in the 2021 HUMA-FIFE webinar series on “Ethical Humanitarianisms” is also part of the process of understanding and evolving ethical practices in research and the meaningful co-construction of knowledge. Such discussions reveal our human predicaments, complexities, and interconnectedness and make us more human.

[1] Thanks to the following IDRC colleagues for input: Ann Weston, Arjan De Haan, Claire Thompson, Ellie Osir, Kevin Tiessen, Loise Ochanda, Martha Mutisi, Maryam Abo Moslem, Montasser Kamal, Purbita Sengupta, and Roula El-Rifai. Also thanks to former colleague Peter Taylor (now back to Institute of Development Studies) for the review of this reflection on research ethics and his suggestions and additional references.


[1] Rwomire, A., and Nyamnjoh, F. B. (Eds.) (2007). Challenges and responsibilities of social research in Africa: Ethical issues. Addis Ababa: Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA).

[2] Smith. L. T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples, cited in forthcoming paper by M. Douglas and P. Sengupta, Virtual qualitative methods: Challenges and opportunities for decolonizing knowledge production.

[3] The San Code of Research Ethics | SpringerLink

[4] Reducing risks to research integrity and conflicts of interest in public health research funding in Africa (#109361)

[5] Mapping drivers, capacities and needs for research ethics in the Middle East and North Africa (#109381)

[6] Research ethics discourses, practices and leadership in the Middle East and North Africa – Innovative learning platforms in fragile settings (#109379). The case studies are drawn from, among other sources, research on suicide bombers and their families and research on sexual and reproductive health and rights.

[7] Research ethics discourses, practices, leadership in the Middle East and North Africa – Supporting research and training in fragile settings (#109341)

[8] The Scinnovent Center paper on research ethics, forthcoming in 2021, is by Paul Ndebele (George Washington University), Paulina Tindana, University of Ghana, Accra, Mary Kasule, Baylor clinical Research Centre, Gaborone, Botswana, and Zivai Nenguke, Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, Zimbabwe.

[9] “Bullying can consist of inappropriately changing authorship positions, taking credit for ideas or intellectual property for one’s own benefit, verbally abusing others in a regular and progressive way, ridiculing or publicly shaming people, and threatening a bad recommendation or the loss of a job position.” Academic bullying: Desperate for data and solutions | Science | AAAS (sciencemag.org), interview with Morteza Mahmoudi, a nanoscientist at Michigan State University, 16 January 2020.

[10] 2019 article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review magazine

[11] The Ford Foundation also has a funder’s guide and case studies, with real-world experiences and lessons in navigating challenging situations, to help funders build a system of grantmaking based on values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).

[12] Request for proposals: Deepening knowledge and implementation of research ethics in African contexts – AAU Blog

[13] For more on “gender transformative research,” see Transforming gender relations (27 pages and available in English and French) at: Gender equality | IDRC – International Development Research Centre

[14] Via the Think Tank Initiative, 2009-2019, co-funded by IDRC, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, UK Aid, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and NORAD.

[15] Some of the (draft) research questions: How do ethical policies capture the unique characteristics of mobile health or “mHealth”? In the first year of the pandemic, what benefits and what challenges arose in using mHealth interventions as the primary method of home-based patient follow-up for covid-19? How has patient and provider input helped evolve the approach? How have socioeconomic and gender-based specificities been explored and addressed by healthcare leaders and stakeholders and by mHealth tool designers? How have inequalities in access to care (with and without mHealth) been explored by healthcare providers and policymakers?

[16] From draft paper “Doing no harm in a fragile context: The ethics of conducting adolescent reproductive health work with Syrian refugee girls in Jordan,” by Adele Heagle (IDC Research Awardee), Malak Douglas (Jordan University of Science and Technology), and Qamar Mahmood (IDRC program officer). Paper presented at 24th Canadian Conference on Global Health, on “Fragile environments and Global Health: Examining Drivers of Change,” 19-21 November 2018, Toronto, Canada.

[17] Just Associates collaborates with the African Gender Institute at the University of Cape Town.

[18] Birchall, J. (2021). Intersectionality and responses to covid-19. Covid Collective helpdesk report. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. See www.covid-collective.net

[19] Multidimensional fragility in 2020 | OECD

[20] According to conclusions from a March 2019 consultation and conference organized in Amman as part of “Research in fragile contexts: A changing landscape and future research agenda” (IDRC project no. 109044). See Doing-Research-in-Fragile-Contexts-Idris-2019.pdf (gsdrc.org).

[21] Leaving no one behind: Principles for research in fragile contexts | IDRC

[22] Lupton, D. (Ed.) (2020). Doing fieldwork in a pandemic (crowd-sourced). https://docs.google.com/document/d/1clGjGABB2h2qbduTgfqribHmog9B6P0NvMgVuiHZCl8/edit?ts=5e88ae0a#

[23] Rahman, H. Z., Matin, I., Banks, N., and Hulme, D. (2021). Finding out fast about the impact of covid-19: The need for policy-relevant methodological innovation. World Development, 140https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105380

[24] See https://odi.org/en/publications/tips-for-collecting-primary-data-in-a-covid-19-era

[25] Virtual qualitative methods: Challenges and opportunities for decolonizing knowledge production

[26] Bridging divides to tackle global challenges: The Victoria Forum

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Kenya:No Ease For Covid-19 Restrictions
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe

The Kenyan government has shrugged off calls by a section of Kenyans to open the economy despite the third wave of Covid-19 in the country.

Addressing journalists in Nairobi, Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe termed the calls as premature saying science and facts, and not feelings, lead the government.

“We have no choice for the time being and as much as we sympathize with our fellow Kenyans we have to keep the containment measures at least until we come down to a level that is understandable,” said Kagwe.

There has been pressure on the government to do away with the partial cessation of movements imposed on five counties described as the zoned disease counties. The counties include Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kajiado, and Machakos.

Kenyans also want the dusk to dawn curfew hours reviewed. Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to revise the hours from 8 pm to 10 pm to save commuters of the hardships they undergo in the traffic snarl-ups in the city.

Sakaja defended his request with the construction of the Nairobi Expressway, which he said has disrupted the traffic flow in the city.

“Many innocent people are caught out with the curfew and as the Senator of Nairobi I can only plead with the President to kindly revise the curfew time.”

“I hold that the 8 pm curfew imposed in Nairobi be reviewed upwards to earliest 10 pm due to the nature of our public transport as well as livelihoods,” said Sakaja.

However, Kagwe maintained that the protocols would not be relaxed even though the ministry has registered a drop in positivity rate in the zoned counties.

The 8 pm to 4 am curfew hours in the five counties, and 10 pm to 4 am in the other regions will run until May 29, as announced by the Ministry of Interior last week.

 At the same time, Kagwe raised the alarm over the surge in Covid-19 cases in four other counties: Murang’a, Uasin Gishu, Siaya, and Nyeri.

He asked the county emergency committees to establish county-specific containment regulations to contain the spikes in those areas.

“If that happens and if we continue the way we are going then it is likely that we are going to go down to the recommended five per cent flattening rate that WHO says is what we should be aiming at,” Kagwe added.

He also called on Kenyans not to drop their guards against the deadly disease.

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Kenya introduces C-145 Skytruck aircraft
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Today, Kenya Air Force (KAF), on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, commissioned the newly acquired C-145 Skytruck aircraft.

The aircraft was commissioned at Moi Air Base, a military camp in Nairobi east, in a ceremony attended by Kenya Air Force (KAF) Commander Major General Francis Ogolla and US Defence Air Attaché to Kenya Major Matthew Yan.

Other attendees included US Defence Mobile Training Team (MTT), KAF Senior Officers, Base Commander Moi Air Base Brigadier Peter Githinji, and other officials.

Major General Francis Ogolla revealed that the multi-purpose aircraft was acquired through Excess Defence Article (EDA) following the signing of the Kenya United States Liason Office (KUSLO) agreement by two governments. The deal was signed on April 4, 2017.

The aircraft will enhance KFA operations, said Major Ogolla.

On his part, Major Matthew Yan lauded the Kenyan government for cooperation and assured of the American government continued support.

The twin-engine aircraft can be used for VIP and passenger transportation, cargo transportation,  insertion, and casualty evacuation.

Moreover, it can support both air, land, and airdrop of cargo and personnel, casualty evacuation, combat search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations, according to the US Airforce.

On February 14, 2020, KAF commissioned C-27J Spartan aircraft, which replaced that retired in 2014. C-27J Spartan has the capability of airlifting heavy equipment, helicopters, and marine equipment.

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Climate Movement calls on Africa’s leaders to push for concerted climate action as Biden’s Leaders Summit starts
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
Landry Ninteretse, 350.org Africa Regional Director

Africa-wide – As 40 world leaders gather to participate in Biden’s first step onto the international climate stage, groups from across Africa are urging its leaders to take decisive action on what is most affecting the climate – and to end fossil fuels now. 

Among the 40 world leaders is Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President, Felix Tshisekedi who is the current Chairperson of the African Union and will be representing Africa’s interests and climate ambitions. 

The Leaders Summit on Climate will take place on April 22nd and 23rd and aims to underscore the urgency of immediate and stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

Quotes from spokespeople

During the virtual summit, the world’s major economies will share their efforts to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.

1.5 degrees is our global beacon for climate action. The safety and wellbeing of millions of Africans depends on keeping below it. But it is slipping from our grasp and we need to urgently halve global emissions by 2030, which means that we need to limit fossil fuel consumption and stop new developments such as the EACOP and Mozambique LNG projects that threaten this climate ambition.

Fixing the climate crisis requires more than simply cutting carbon; we need bold action that prioritizes alternative sources of energy that meet the needs of the people and accelerate investments in real climate solutions with the aim of driving a fast and sustainable transition away from fossil fuels. – Landry Ninteretse, 350.org Africa Regional Director

The climate crisis is already destroying vast parts of the African continent. This is tragic and ironic when you think about how Africa is one of the lowest emitters of CO2 emissions and yet it is among the most affected. Leaders must make the decisive move to keep all fossil fuels in the ground! We cannot eat coal and we cannot drink oil.  

We demand more from our world leaders than empty promises, empty solutions and empty negotiations at Biden’s Climate Summit. We all need to keep up the pressure on our governments at home as well as on the international stage to take urgent action now to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a Just Recovery by creating a sustainable, fossil-free world. – Vanessa Nakate, Climate Activist in Uganda and Founder of RiseUp Movement

The decision to allow the exploration of oil in protected areas across Africa such as the Virunga National Park is not only a threat to the climate but to the livelihoods of local communities and habitats of critically-endangered species. 

We call on Africa Presidents urging them that they have a role to play in limiting the warming of the planet and they need to stop authorizing and licencing fossil fuel companies in their countries such as Efora that seek to benefit themselves while disenfranchising local communities. – Andre Moliro, Climate Activist in the DRC

Governments around the world are switching to clean, efficient and sustainable energy alternatives. With Nigeria being a signatory to the Paris Agreement, there is no more room for carbon emissions resulting from coal mining. After years of granting licences to the fossil fuel industry, Nigeria still experiences extreme power cuts with many people still lacking access to electricity. Furthermore, a huge population remains poor even after promises of economic progress in the country. It is time for the Nigerian government to embrace a green economy, build back better and stop the issuance of any more licences towards fossil fuels exploration in the country.  – Michael Terungwa, Campaigner at Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation in Nigeria

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Glasgow and DC “Climate Clocks” send message to Biden and global leaders in advance of Earth Day: #ActInTime!
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

Climate Clock light projection launches in Glasgow as youth climate activists head to DC to deliver portable clocks to top Biden officials, and demand real climate action 

The Leaders Summit on Climate will take place on April 22nd and aims to underscore the urgency of immediate and stronger climate action.  It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

A global petition will be delivered to Joe Biden and world leaders urging them to drastically increase emissions reduction targets in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius – by doing what the science demands, to stop funding fossil fuels and to get serious about the transition to renewable energy and ensure that no one is left behind. 

As part of the day of actions leading up to the summit, campaigners from 350.org, Build Back Fossil Free coalition, Movement Catalyst and Fossil Free Bailout are delivering the Climate Clock to the Biden summit as a reminder that we are in a climate emergency and the time to act is now.  The climate clock, which has been on display in New York, Union Square is a reminder of the urgent need to take climate action now.

Glasgow City Council and UK youth climate activists light-projected a CLIMATE CLOCK onto Glasgow’s landmark Tolbooth Steeple. Like its counterpart in Union Square, New York, the Glasgow CLIMATE CLOCK will count down the time until the threshold of carbon emissions for 1.5 degrees of warming is exceeded, and show the percentage of the world’s energy that is generated from renewable sources. It will run continuously every night for the six months from Earth Day until the COP26 begins, turning the eyes of the world to the upcoming UN Summit in November.

Graham Hogg, CLIMATE CLOCK’s Glasgow Team

“As Glasgow prepares to host COP26, the Tolbooth Steeple is the perfect location for Glasgow’s CLIMATE CLOCK. “For centuries, it was here that important proclamations were read out to the people of Glasgow. It stands at the convergence point where people from all points on the compass entered the city, and it is unmistakably Glasgow.”
 

Laura Berry, CLIMATE CLOCK Research Lead

“The science is clear: we are in a climate emergency. With its deadline and new lifeline, the CLIMATE CLOCK makes explicit the speed and scope of action that political leaders must take in order to limit the worst impacts of climate devastation.”

Thanu Yakupitiyage, 350.org US Communications Director: 

“By using the Climate Clock as a tool, we are pressuring world governments to take bold action for a just recovery from the compound crisis our communities are facing from COVID-19, climate impacts, and racial and economic injustice.  President Biden fulfilled his promise to cancel the Keystone XL permit, a massive Indigenous-led movement victory thanks to millions of people demanding an end to fossil fuels. Biden must now follow through to protect our communities by stopping all new fossil fuel projects — beginning with Line 3 and Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s time for Biden to be a real Climate President, show the world how serious the U.S. is about keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and lead by example on the world stage.  Biden needs to go beyond promises and take immediate action to stop the bad, build the good, and repair the harm. “

James Miller, 19-year-old, UK youth climate activist
 

“1.5 degrees is our global beacon for climate action. The safety and wellbeing of millions of people depends on keeping below it. But it is slipping from our grasp; in order to keep that target in sight, we need to reduce global emissions by more than 50% by 2030. Existing pledges from world leaders fall far short of what the science demands.”

It is vital that the UK government leads the charge as host of COP26, but currently, the glaring disparity between their climate-leading rhetoric and half-hearted action to tackle emissions domestically is damaging international ambition.

If they hope to lead the world to success at this critical climate summit, they need to end their hypocrisy immediately and get back on track to meeting their targets. That means stopping polluting infrastructure projects, airport expansions and new fossil fuel exploration. And, importantly, it means aligning policy and sector targets with their national target, together with the spending needed to meet them.

This year, at COP26, world leaders have a crucial – perhaps final – chance to unite in pulling 1.5 degrees back within reach, and keep their promise to safeguard future generations. The world’s youth are watching, and we will not accept failure as an option.”

Agnes Hall, Global Campaigns Director at 350.org said 

“There can be no meaningful climate action if world leaders don’t make a decisive move to keep all fossil fuels in the ground. The Biden Summit is a critical meeting of world leaders ahead of COP26 this November. Talk of “net-zero” won’t cut it: we demand more from our world leaders than false promises, false solutions and empty negotiations at Biden’s Climate Summit. The task now is to hold politicians to their lofty words,  and to do that the global climate movement needs to keep up the pressure on our governments at home as well as on the international stage to take urgent action now to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a Just Recovery by creating a sustainable, fossil-free world ”. 

Asad Rehman: UK COP26 coalition 

Billions around the world face a daily struggle to survive in the face of a worsening climate crisis, a never ending crisis of inequality and a global health pandemic – with millions denied access to life-saving vaccines. Tinkering around the edges of a broken system will simply be a death sentence for them. Fixing the climate crisis requires more than simply cutting carbon; we need bold action that meets these challenges and puts us on a pathway to a fairer and safer planet for everyone.”

“The window is rapidly closing to prevent even more loss of lives and livelihoods. It’s only fair that the richest countries who have done the most to cause these crises, lead the way and put forward plans to decarbonise by 2030 and to meet their obligations to help developing countries with real financial pledges.”

Joseph Sikulu Pacific Managing Director 350.org 

“In a world recovering from COVID-19 and the climate crisis, governments need to quickly divest from the fossil fuel industry and begin investing in a just recovery for all. Countries with high emissions, such as the United States and Australia, must stop subsidizing oil, gas and coal and direct their investments toward clean and just renewable energy so that we can limit Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees.”

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Wärtsilä partners with Ambitious.Africa to support young African talents
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

Ambitious.Africa supports and encourages young people in Africa and the Nordic countries to actively participate in working for a better future.

Wärtsilä’s commitment to supporting the well-being of society is again emphasised with its recent entry into a strategic partnership with Ambitious.Africa, a young initiative that aims to act as a bridge between Africa and the Nordic countries. Ambitious.Africa supports and encourages young people in Africa and the Nordic countries to actively participate in working for a better future. It aims to increase well-being in these countries by facilitating the sustainable development of local entrepreneurship.

The partnership between Wärtsilä and Ambitious.Africa is based on their mutual values and goals to support the youth of Africa and Europe in striving for a sustainable future. By working together, the partners can connect students, entrepreneurs, start-up companies, financiers, and various stakeholders from both continents to address common challenges through a novel approach aimed at empowering future generations. This collaboration further highlights the need for more cross-pollination of aims and dialogue between businesses and the communities they serve. Diversity and decentralisation are essential if full advantage is to be gained from the opportunities provided by the entire spectrum of fresh ideas and available talent.

Wärtsilä has a strong presence in Africa, and is well placed to encourage local youth to become involved in the company’s work to transition energy production towards a 100 percent renewables future. As a corporation with global and local perspectives, Wärtsilä’s intention is to engage fully with the societies in which it operates. This means going beyond merely encouraging local employment and supply contracts, so by aligning with Ambitious.Africa, the company can add initiatives aimed at providing the knowledge, skills, and training that will support these efforts.

“The challenges we face as a society, from education to income inequality, and civil rights to healthcare and climate change, are crying for novel ideas and solutions. As a company with a long history, both in Africa and the Nordics, we know the real benefit of joining forces across a broad spectrum of ideas and talent. Through our partnership with Ambitious Africa, we seek to engage student and entrepreneur communities to muster the true strength of a digitally native generation whose ideas are not limited by geography or politics. My hope is that we untap the magic of boundaryless creativity, and my dream is that many future leaders will rise through this partnership to change the world for the better” explained Björn Ullbro, Vice President, Africa & Europe at Wärtsilä Energy.

Vincent Forsman, co-founder of Ambitious.Africa, added: “We are not on pace to reach many critical Sustainable Development Goals with the speed at which they are needed – we need to be ready to experiment with new approaches and include youth in the development discourse. We believe that it takes connected ecosystems of Non-Governmental Organisations, start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, and prominent corporations to solve the problems we are currently facing. From our perspective, Wärtsilä is an ideal partner providing invaluable opportunities, both for young people and the communities in which they live. Combining the experience and know-how that Wärtsilä has, with the passion and ambition of the youth in Ambitious.Africa, is something truly novel – and a significant step towards empowering youth to take a significant role in shaping a sustainable future, both for themselves and their communities.” 

Focus of main projects in 2021 is on local communities and university students

In 2021, the partnership will undertake three main projects; two focusing on local communities in Morocco and Nigeria, while the third will involve students at African and Nordic universities. In Nigeria, Ambitious. Africa will be hosting a six-part webinar for Master-Degree students, to learn about various sustainability issues. They will also participate in an Ideathon that could lead to potential solutions for positive change. The programme will end with an on-site event at the University of Ibadan on 24 April, which will include presentations on sustainability developments by experts from Wärtsilä and other world-renowned organisations. The participants will also be invited to participate in a workshop on innovative new solutions to tackle issues raised during the programme.

In Morocco, Pitch it! will feature a competition where local entrepreneurs involved in agri-tech, green innovation and sustainability can pitch their ideas. Climate change threatens the African continent and the goal is to encourage young entrepreneurs to help solve emerging issues with new innovative solutions.

Learn more about Ambitious.Africa

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The Inaugural IUCN Africa Protected Congress Officially Relaunched.
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

The congress will be convened by the Government of Rwanda, the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Commission on Protected Areas and the African Wildlife Foundation.

The Government of Rwanda will in March 2022 host the inaugural IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) to discuss conservation of the continent’s protected areas. This comes after the relaunch of APAC in Kigali, Rwanda on 20th April 2021.

The congress which will be held from 7th – 12th March 2022 will be convened by the Government of Rwanda, the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN-WCPA) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) in collaboration with partners.

Speaking at the relaunch event, the Chief Guest Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister of Environment – Republic of Rwanda said: “Having been an IUCN Member since 2016, Rwanda is very proud to take up the global conservation leadership mantle and become the first African country to host the African Protected Area Congress. The Government of Rwanda recognizes the role of protected and conserved areas in ensuring the conservation of nature, sustaining ecosystem services and promoting sustainable development. We are indeed hopeful that through these efforts and deliberations obtained through the congress, Rwanda and the rest of Africa will be on the right trajectory towards recovery of our protected and conserved areas.”

Key conservation organizations and development partners have been actively engaged in the planning process for APAC, the first of its kind continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens, businesses and interest groups to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature and promoting sustainable development in Africa.

Deliberations convened around the themes Protected areas, People and Biodiversity aim to generate pathways that build and empower the current and the next generation of leaders to realize an African future where wildlife and wildlands are valued as an asset that contributes to development.

Luther Anukur, IUCN Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa said: Protected and conserved areas play an important role in securing the resilience of ecosystems to help Africa build back better from COVID-19 and to reduce risks of future pandemics. APAC is a joint effort from conservation partners and African leaders. It is expected to contribute to African Union’s Agenda 2063 of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.

One major lesson we have drawn from the past year is that overnight transformational change is possible. A different world, a different economy is suddenly dawning. Through this continental partnership, Africa will be able to present a unified front towards delivering a lasting balance between people, prosperity and our planetary boundaries. African Wildlife Foundation takes great pride in the central role we are playing to raise an African constituency in conservation and this congress is one of the major steps towards achieving this, said AWF CEO, Kaddu Sebunya.

Luther Bois Anakur, Regional Director, IUCN Eastern and Southern Africa speaking at APAC launch in Kigali

Through the congress, all partners hope to achieve African leadership commitment towards creating a unified African voice in conservation that will value African people and nature through effective protected areas.

The APAC initiative will enhance the status of conservation in Africa by engaging Governments, the Private Sector, Civil Society, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, and Academia to shape Africa’s Agenda for Protected and Conserved Areas to better deliver benefits for people and nature.

The Africa Protected Area Congress will be held in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2022. Further details on the participation, venue and duration will be released in subsequent communication after the launch.

DR. JEANNE d’ARC MUJAWAMARIYA, Minister of Environment, Rwanda speaking at APAC launch in Kigali

About IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas:
IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) is the world’s premier network of protected area expertise, administered by IUCN’s Global Programme on Protected Areas. WCPA works by helping governments and others plan protected areas and integrate them into all sectors; by providing strategic advice to policy makers; by strengthening capacity and investment in protected areas; and by convening the diverse constituency of protected area stakeholders to address challenging issues.

About African Wildlife Foundation:
The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy, and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands.

*SOURCE The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)

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JAPAN DONATES $6.5 M TO WFP TO STEM FOOD INSECURITY IN SOUTH SUDAN
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

The WFP will use this contribution to support 115,000 people in Jonglei, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Lakes States, where food insecurity has reached catastrophic levels.Photo WFP/ Gabriela Vivacqua

Juba – The government of Japan has donated $6.5 million US dollar to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to mitigate food insecurity in the restive country.

The Government of Japan has funded food assistance to developing countries since 1968. Japan has supported WFP’s work in South Sudan since 2013, contributing more than US$35 million.

This latest contribution consists of US$4.5 million for life-saving food assistance to people who are severely food insecure and US$ 2 million to restore livelihoods and enhance resilience.

However, the WFP has welcomed contribution of US$6.5 million from the Government of Japan. 

This contribution is timely at the start of the lean season when more than 7.2 million people in South Sudan are expected to face acute food shortages, said WFP in a press release today.

The WFP will use this contribution to  support 115,000 people in Jonglei, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Lakes States, where food insecurity has reached catastrophic levels due to continuing violence, two years of excessive flooding, displacement and the loss of livelihoods, livestock, infrastructure and homes that have left millions of people highly vulnerable and unable to provide for themselves.

“It is our sincere wish that Japan’s grant helps save the people from food insecurity accelerated by natural disaster, communal violence and displacement and bring those suffering people back to a normal living environment which is the precondition to pave the way to nation building and economic development in South Sudan,” said H.E. Tsutsumi Naohiro, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of South Sudan, in the press statement seen by Pan African Visions.

The contribution will also support WFP’s livelihoods and resilience-building programmes, which include creation of community assets such as access roads and multi-purpose water points. 

These communal assets are geared towards improving families’ access to local markets to sell their produce and purchase food and other essentials, as well as their access to clean water.

“We are grateful to Japan for this timely contribution at a time when food needs are the greatest but funding for humanitarian assistance is  dwindling because of the economic impact of COVID-19. This noble gesture demonstrates the government of Japan’s commitment towards alleviating suffering and contributing to peace in South Sudan,” said Matthew Hollingworth, WFP’s Country Director in South Sudan. “It is a great boost towards our saving lives and changing lives efforts.”

The country’s five year conflict has taken a heavy toll on the oil – rich nation’s economy and investment, founded 10 years ago after two decades of civil war.

It has also blighted by the impact of COVID-19 and unprecedented floods on the lives of the vulnerable locals.

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