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Cameroonian Journalist, Amindeh Blaise Atabong wins 2019 Kurt Schork Memorial Awards in International Journalism.
October 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Multiple Award Winning Journalist Amindeh Blaise Atabong Sharing experiences in Europe

Cameroonian journalist, Amindeh Blaise Atabong is the 2019 winner of the Kurt Schork Memorial Awards in International Journalism.

The award hosted by Thomson Reuters Foundation honors brave journalists the world over for their reporting on conflict, corruption and injustice.

Competing against dozens the world over, Amindeh Blaise Atabong grabbed the award for Local Reporter award while Sangar Khaleel and Amanda Sperber won the news Fixer and Freelance award respectively.

Now in their 18th year, the Kurt Schork Memorial Awards are named in honor of American freelance journalist Kurt Schork who was killed in Sierra Leone while on assignment for Reuters in 2000.

Amanda Sperber, an East Africa-based foreign correspondent, wins the Freelance Award for her reporting on armed conflict and politics in Somalia. The judges highlighted how Somalia is often overlooked in global media, and that her years of reporting “in difficult and dangerous conditions” have helped to shine a light on “elusive truths”.

Cameroonian journalist Amindeh Blaise Atabong is the winner of the Local Reporter Award. Atabong’s bravery in documenting the sometimes-violent split between Cameroon’s English-and-French-speaking communities was commended, with his reporting “digging into how the conflict is playing out everywhere from Cameroon’s orphanages to its wildlife reserves”.

This year’s News Fixer Award goes to Iraqi news fixer Sangar Khaleel, who has worked with journalists from major news outlets covering the rise and fall of ISIS in Iraq. The judges applauded his courage and dedication in the field. Yet what stood out to them was his “empathy and genuine care for those he meets and a strong sense of purpose in giving a voice to the victims of war”, combined with his unrelenting “dedication to follow up on people and places when most media have moved on”.

The News Fixer Award aims to recognize the rarely credited yet often at-risk individuals who typically act as the correspondent’s eyes and ears on the ground. It is the fixers’ local knowledge, as well as their network of official – and unofficial – contacts that helps to secure critical interviews and access to all important areas for the out-of-town correspondents. The prize was inspired by the freelance journalist, author and friend of Kurt Schork, Anna Husarska, and pays tribute to the vital role that these unsung heroes play in coverage from difficult, dangerous and hostile locations.

A shortlist in each of the first two categories was selected by judges Simon Robinson, Reuters Global Managing Editor, The Guardian’s Julian Borger, and Dan De Luce from NBC News.

The 2019 Freelance category finalists were Sally Hayden (UK), Shola Lawal (Nigeria), Charles Matthew (UK), Ruchi Kumar (India), Kenneth Rosen (USA), Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani (Nigeria), Erica Gies (Canada). The Local Reporter category finalists were Disha Shetty (India), Parth Nikhil (India), Chinedu Asadu (Nigeria), Amos Abba (Nigeria), Namrata Acharya (India), Damilola Banjo (Nigeria). 

The 2019 News Fixer category finalists were Fadiel Fadel (Libya), Kamiran Sadoun (Syria) and Kateryna Malofieieva (Ukraine). The judges in this category were Jon Lee Anderson from The New Yorker, Global Editor of the Daily Mail Online Jake Wallis Simons, and journalist and author, Minka Nijhuis.

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Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya named rising stars of global trade
October 2, 2019 | 0 Comments
African economies come first and third in the Standard Chartered Trade20 Index, which identifies the markets with the greatest potential for future trade growth
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, September 30, 2019/ — Côte d’Ivoire is the market that has most rapidly improved its trade growth potential over the past decade, according to new research from Standard Chartered (www.SC.com). The Trade20 index, which identifies the 20 rising stars of trade, places African markets Côte d’Ivoire in the top spot, and Kenya at number three.

The Trade20 index determines each market’s trade growth potential by analysing changes within the last decade across a wide range of variables, grouped into three equally-weighted pillars: economic dynamism, trade readiness and export diversity.

The study examines 66 markets around the world. It finds that while existing trade powers like China and India continue to rapidly improve their trade potential, African economies are making particularly strong progress from a relatively low starting point.

Kenya is consolidating its position as the trading hub of East Africa, while Côte d’Ivoire is cementing its position as a West African trading hub. Ghana also performs well in the index, placing just outside the top 10.

The key findings of the Trade20 index for African markets are:

Côte d’Ivoire and Kenya have significantly improved their trade readiness, demonstrating that investments in infrastructure and business environment improvements are paying offCôte d’Ivoire and Ghana also fare well for economic dynamism, with Côte d’Ivoire enjoying robust GDP and export growth, and Ghana seeing an influx of FDI
Saif Malik, Regional Co-Head, Global Banking, AME, Standard Chartered, said: Home to some of the world’s fastest-growing economies, Africa has the potential to become a much bigger player on the global trade stage. Already connected with the trading powers in Asia, particularly China, through the Belt & Road Initiative, and with the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area, we see numerous growth opportunities for trade and investment in the years ahead.

Additionally, the growing young, digitally-savvy population and an increasing female workforce will aid in the continent’s economic transformation.” 

Trade20 examines 12 metrics across 66 global markets – the major global economies plus the major economies in each region – to reveal the 20 economies that are most rapidly improving their potential for trade growth.

While most traditional trade indices are based on a market’s present performance, the Trade20 index captures changes over time to reveal the markets that have seen the most improvement within the last decade. This enables us to identify the economies where recent positive developments may point to an acceleration in trade growth potential.
*Standard Chartered
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Rwanda to host 2020 Sustainable Energy for All Forum
September 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) is set to host the next Sustainable Energy for All (SEforALL) Forum  in Kigali from 26 to 28 May 2020.

  It is reported that the forum will be hosted under the theme Building speed, reaching scale, closing the gap.

 It is reported that 2020 marks a major political milestone in efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030, including SDG7 on universal access to sustainable energy. It also begins the next commitment period under the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the moment when the world must dramatically raise its ambition on climate action.

“We are excited to host the 2020 global SEforALL Forum and look forward to welcoming entrepreneurs, community leaders, policy makers, financiers and investors to Kigali. Holding the global SEforALL Forum in Africa reaffirms the continent’s commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 7. It will be also a chance to share experiences with the rest of the world and mobilise resources to turn ideas into reality,” said Vincent Biruta, Rwanda’s Minister of Environment.

The 2020 SEforALL Forum will be a major event at the start of the final decade to achieve SDG7, providing a global platform to mobilize resources, connect partners and showcase action to realize the promise of the sustainable energy revolution for everyone.

“We look forward to our next SEforALL Forum taking place in Rwanda and on African soil,” said SEforALL’s CEO Rachel Kyte. “While Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the furthest to go in ensuring access to reliable, affordable and clean energy, it is also the region where the urgent needs of people and promise of the renewable energy revolution offer the most exciting opportunities for invention and breakthroughs. If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and raise ambition for climate action, all roads take us to Africa and solutions found in Africa can lead the rest of the world. What better place to embark upon the final decade of our effort to meet SDG7 and the other goals that sustainable energy supports.”

The 2020 Forum in Kigali will be:

  • The most dynamic and diverse convening of the movement since the establishment of the SDGs;
  • A space to take stock of progress and focus on what’s working, what isn’t and why;
  • A platform for mobilizing resources and launching new financial instruments that will close the energy access gap effectively and efficiently;
  • A forum for collaboration and a place for partnerships to showcase action;
  • A marketplace where entrepreneurs, community leaders, city leaders, policy makers, financiers and investors can connect.
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SADC region urged to have common position on use of coal
September 30, 2019 | 0 Comments
Chief Air Marshall (Rtd) Perrance Shiri

By Wallace Mawire

 Zimbabwe’s Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Water, Climate and Rural Resettlement, Chief Air Marshall (Rtd) Perrance Shiri has urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region to come up with a common position on the use of coal as the global agenda for global nations to adopt clean and renewable forms of energy gather momentum.

 Minister Shiri made the remarks at the just ended inter-ministerial dialogue on climate change held in Harare on 6 September, 2019.

 He said that it was now very necessary for countries in the SADC region, such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa which were using coal as a source of energy to come up with a common position on how they could transition to other alternative forms of clean energy.

 However, Minster Shiri, commenting on the situation in Zimbabwe with regards to the use of coal, said that the country was endowed with billions of tonnes of coal which it heavily relied on for thermal power generation and it was not going to be so easy to let go without any meaningful commensurate benefit for the country.

  The minister also said that there was great potential to harness new technologies on the use of coal which had been adopted by other countries.

 The remarks come in the wake of his recent visit to Japan, where the possibility of use of new clean coal technologies had been explored with officials in that country.

  Zimbabwe’s climate change management department Director, Washington Zhakata, at the same meeting said that the country was moving on a path to eliminate the use of fossil fuels, such as coal. He said that Hwange Power Station was generating at least 60% of the country’s power from coal.

 “The situation has also been exarcebated due to dwindling water resources at Zambezi river and Kariba dam. This has seen a reduction in the levels of hydro-power generation in the country,”Zhakata said.

  He added that Zimbabwe also needed to place itself in the global scenario and align itself with on-going declarations in the fight against climate change.

  According to Zhakata, some of the African countries which had aligned themselves with the declarations on the phasing out of coal under the Paris Agreement include Nigeria, Togo and Algeria.

 At the same meeting, it was also revealed that in Zimbabwe, the major sources of energy were from thermal power which is reported to contribute to climate change.

  It was also however, noted that the country was to soon launch the renewable energy and bio-fuels policies in a bid to discourage continued use of fossil fuels.

  It was also revealed that Zimbabwe was in the process of establishing two more coal fired thermal power units at Hwange Power Station.

  However, Lawrence Mashungu, an officer in the climate change management department said that the proposed plants were to be energy efficient, although using coal power.

 The additional units are also expected to help alleviate Zimbabwe’s power crisis.       

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Cameroon’s Military accused of invading, destroying, looting from Bafut Royal Palace, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site
September 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

The courtyard between the two Queen’s quarters with the Fon’s residence and Achum Shrine in the background (photo: World Monument Fund)

By Amos Fofung

In yet another bitter outing, the traditional ruler of Bafut, a locality in the North West region of Cameroon, has penned an open letter, revealing, gross human rights abuses and illicit activities by members of Cameroon’s elite forces, the Rapid Intervention Battalion, otherwise known by its French acronym, BIR. 

In the open letter dubbed; “Second Invasion of the Bafut Royal Palace by the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) on the 24th of September 2019” the traditional Rural of Bafut, Fon Abumbi II, outlined atrocities committed by a segment of government armed forces, urging for proper investigation and prosecution of the culprits. 

“The Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR) forcefully entered the palace by climbing over the security enclosure…they subjected young Queens, young princes and princesses…to brutal inhuman treatment,” the Fon said. 

In his bitter memo a copy of which was forwarded to the Attorney General of the region, the Minister of Culture, UNESCO, British High Commission Yaounde, the German and U.S. embassies and the National Human Rights Commission among others the Fon of Bafut lamented over the fact that the soldiers, though supposed to protect human life and property, have for the second time now invaded, destroyed, looted and desecrating the Bafut palace. To worsen the matter, they shoot a prince six times.

One of the queen’s quarters (photo: World Monument Fund)

“Young children under the ages of 5 were brutalized with guns…property and money was taken from the houses of all the queens. They went on rampage, pulling notables out of the Queen’s houses and torturing them…the soldiers using axes destroyed five doors of the Takumbeng secret society building, recently rehabilitated by the government and the World Bank.”

According to the traditional ruler’s letter in which he narrates the bitter ordeal inflicted on his family, BIR forces would then proceed to carter away any valuable item including foodstuff and shooting Prince Neba Ngu Christopher six times before entering the Royal museum in search of valuables. 

The prince, his later added, is currently receiving treatment from Doctors Without Borders operating in that part of the country.   

As at the time of this result, the government of Cameroon nor the military spokesperson has responded to the accusations of the traditional ruler nor made a public statement about his demand for a wholescale investigation into the perpetrators of the inhumane act.  

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African Energy Chamber Opens Applications for 2020 Africa Energy Fellowship Program
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber and CEO at the Centurion Law Group
Selected fellows will be joining the African Energy Chamber for 12 to 16 months
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 26, 2019/ — In order to provide young energy professionals with the tools and experience to become future leaders across the industry, the African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) is launching its first Fellowship Program in 2020. Applications are open throughout October 2019, for a one-year program that will start in January 2020.

In line with its growing international cooperation, the African Energy Chamber will be welcoming young professionals from across Africa, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East to join its office in Johannesburg for 12 months. The Fellows will be provided with an opportunity to apply analytical skills on concrete challenges and problems across the energy sector, and an opportunity to specialize in upstream oil & gas and local content development. They will be working in collaboration with the Chamber’s dedicated oil and gas sector advisors and experts located around sub-Saharan Africa, and help deliver research and consulting projects that address on-the-ground challenges faced by Africa’s oil & gas sector.

“Our range of partners from across government agencies, national and international oil companies, Oil service companies, investment banks and institutional investors offer the perfect network and ecosystem for a young professional to develop herself or himself and grow as a leader,” declared NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber and CEO at the Centurion Law Group. “We are truly excited to get this fellowship program started and see it grow over the coming years. Ultimately, our goal is to contribute to training and nurturing the next generation of energy leaders by bringing on board any young people willing to grow and contribute to the development of Africa’s energy industry”

Selected fellows will be joining the African Energy Chamber for 12 to 16 months and join a team that provides comprehensive and thought-provoking research on the African oil & gas industry and energy sector at large, along with critical support to local content development programs across the continent. A large part of the roles will focus on sharing and presenting data and informed views to the Chamber’s partners and the industry, and developing the right capacity building programs to institutional and private parties across the continent.

The 2020 Fellowship Program will be focusing on the following key aspects of the value-chain: upstream oil & gas, midstream, downstream and local content. Interested applicants should send their resume at the soonest to mickael@energychamber.org and highlight the contribution they wish to bring to the work of the African Energy Chamber.

The African Energy Chamber (https://EnergyChamber.org/) is the largest African energy industry association, gathering companies from across the oil & gas, power and mining value-chains. The Chamber counts over 100 partners from the private, public and financial sectors. With a key mission to make energy work for Africans, the Chamber focuses its efforts on building domestic capacity and developing strong and capable local companies across Africa, and on facilitating regional and international investors’ entry within the continent’s fastest growing energy markets, including Senegal, Nigeria, Angola, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and South Sudan notably.
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Republic of Congo’s Hydrocarbons Minister to Lead a Congolese Delegation at Upcoming Oil & Gas Meeting Day in Malabo
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
Congo’s participation in the Oil & Gas Meeting Day happens on the backdrop of strong recovery within Central Africa’s services industry
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 26, 2019/ — Congo’s oil sector is answering to Equatorial Guinea’s call to cooperation and will be participating in the Oil & Gas Meeting Day in Malabo on October 1st and 2nd, 2019. The delegation will be led by Minister of Hydrocarbons Jean-Marc Thystère-Tchicaya.

Congo’s participation in the Oil & Gas Meeting Day happens on the backdrop of strong recovery within Central Africa’s services industry. This is especially supported by strong drilling activity in key markets such as Chad and Gabon, and exceptional exploration prospects being drilled across the region, including onshore Congo-Brazzaville.

Such growth within Africa’s oil & gas sector presents the continent’s services companies with tremendous opportunities for partnerships and regional expansion. As an energy and oil & gas hub, Central Africa is home to several indigenous services companies from across the EPC, drilling support services and logistics industries whose growth prospects can be unlocked by further opening up to best international partnerships and joint-ventures.

Recent regulatory reforms in Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon or Cameroon are sending strong signals that local content will be the driver of oil & gas growth in Central Africa and the rest of the continent in the future. In addition, recent exploration successes and production increases across the region, especially in Equatorial Guinea, are providing the right opportunities for local services companies to better participate in the development of the industry. The presence of Congo-Brazzaville, sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest oil producer, at the Oil & Gas Meeting Day shows that African companies are open for business and seeking deals that will support the growth of our industry and create jobs.

“Under the leadership of H.E. Jean-Marc Thystère-Tchicaya, Congo has been successfully raising its international profile and engaging with global energy markets,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber and CEO at the Centurion Law Group. “From the joining of OPEC and the installation of the new Noumbi FPSO in 2018 to the recent granting of new PSCs to majors such as Total and Lukoil, Congo is making its voice heard, increasing its production and boosting exploration. The country’s industry leadership will also see Brazzaville hosting the APPO Heads of State Summit in February 2020. This brings opportunities not only for Congolese companies but for the entire region,” added Mr. Ayuk.

The African Energy Chamber strongly supports the Oil & Gas Meeting Day, a Year of Energy event organised by Equatorial Guinea’s National Alliance of Hydrocarbons Service Companies (NAHSCO). Malabo has positioned itself as the hub for services companies to engage in meaningful conversations on how to build the next-generation of African oil & gas leaders and companies. The services industry is a massive job creator and a strong pillar of the global oil & gas industry. As cooperation amongst African oil markets increases, the need for services companies to step up their game and pursue an aggressive outreach has become a necessity. 
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UNGA 2019: Hands off our girls! African first ladies take campaign against rape, early child marriage, to UN General Assembly
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

New York, New York 27 September 2019 –Africa’s first ladies, led bSierra Leone Fatima Maada Bio brought their campaign to ban early child marriage and sexual violence against women and girls before a global stage in a passionate appeal for the world to support their “Hands Off Our Girls! Campaign.

In a no-holds barred conversation organized on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Wednesday, Bio flanked by her husband President Julius Bio, spoke to “lift the lid of silence” taboo and stigma surrounding rape and early marriage in Sierra Leone and other parts of the continent.

The high-level meeting was organised to rally support for the end of early marriage and rape in Africa, a movement which the Bios have spearheaded.

This year’s General Assembly has been dominated by delivery of the sustainable development goals, of which number 5 is Gender Equality.

In brief opening remarks, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina spoke out forcefully against all forms of early marriage and said the economic empowerment of women is a critical tool to end the vicious cycle of marginalization and gender imbalance.

“That’s why the Bank is raising $3 billion to support women,” Adesina said, referring to the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women In Africa (AFAWA) initiative.

“Early marriage is not only a human rights abuse it is an economic issue,” Rachel Yates, Executive Director of Girls Not Brides, said.

Sharing intimate personal details, Maada Bio, recounted her personal story of running away from an arranged marriage to an older man in her early teens. Aided by an older sister, she took a flight out of her native Sierra Leone to the United Kingdom – without her father’s knowledge or permission. “I come from a family where girls are married at 12 years,” she said.

Three months later from the safety of the UK, her resolve was set.

“From that moment I vowed that I would not see a child being abused,” she said.

President Bio, responding to a question on how deeply set cultural mindsets could be changed, said it would take patience and persistence. “We have to leave some aspects of culture behind. We have to establish institutions and cascade our campaigns down across the entire country.

Sierra Leone has one of the highest incidences of rape and sexual assault on the continent. In February, President Bio declared a state of emergency due to the high incidences of rape.

Other prominent first ladies at the event included Jeanette Kagame of Rwanda, Clar Weah of Liberia, Antoinette Sassou Nguesso of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first lady of Zimbabwe, Auxilla Mnangagwa, and Ermine Erdogan, first lady of Turkey.

Speaking passionately in support of her “Sierra Leonean sister,” Weah said it was time to collectively say no to abuse. “We renew our commitment to create a safe world for our girls in Africa. We entreat all presidents and heads of states to join us,” she said.

Ermine Erdogan, an ardent advocate against child marriage in Turkey and who made a special appearance to support the event, said the key to the empowerment of women was education.

“There is no excuse for early marriage. The place for a school-going child is school,” she said.

Other voices in support of the first ladies included Djereje Wordofa, UNFA Deputy Executive Director who said protection of girls and women and preventing abuse must become a national  priority.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation said it was a subject he dreaded but had to talk about. “Child marriage reinforces poverty…It is totally unacceptable.

We must speak out against political, religious and social practices,” he said.

Since his election to office in 2018, President Bio has strongly advocated against early marriage and has tightened legal and policy frameworks for sexual offenders and rapists. The campaign is gaining traction and has been endorsed across the continent with the support of the African First Ladies.

The High-Level meeting follows a First Ladies Meeting on Combatting Child Marriage and Promoting Education of Girls in West Africa, which took place in Niamey in Niger on the Margins of the Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union.

“Every time I get the opportunity, I say the fight against early marriage is not a political statement, it is a personal one. We need help,” Maada Bio said.

*AFDB

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UNGA 2019: Young Africans will “produce the magic” says AU chief as the UN sounds warning on Sustainable Development Goals
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
Albert Muchanga, the African Union’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry,

United Nations, New York, 26 September 2019 – Leaders should devise an “incentive structure” to promote a startup culture among young Africans. “I think they will produce the magic,” Albert Muchanga, the African Union’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, told a gathering on infrastructure at the United Nations on Wednesday.

Muchanga said colleagues were working to “harmonise our policies, rules and regulations” to smooth cross-border trade while focusing on the next generation.
 

“We’re not leaving the youth behind. We’re promoting startups among African youth. Because we know that if we localise knowledge and innovation, then we’ll be able to spearhead the process of sustainable development,” said Muchanga.

The meeting, called Promoting Innovation and Infrastructure Development: A Pathway for Boosting Manufacturing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, was part of the UN-designated Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III).

United Nations talks on goals to end poverty, inequality and other global ills wrapped up on Wednesday, amid concerns that global efforts were being derailed by climate change, conflicts and violence.

Event organisers said that investment in African infrastructure was $63 billion in 2016, representing 3.5 per cent of the continent’s economy. More than 42 per cent of that funding came from national governments.

Africa needs “massive investment” of between $68-152 billion this coming decade, or between 3.1 and 6.9 per cent of the continent’s economy, for building infrastructure and to ensure sustained growth, organisers say.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina warned that the continent was moving backwards and urged executives to produce more high-value manufactured products instead of exporting raw materials.
 

“Unfortunately, Africa today is de-industrialising, and there is no region of the world that has actually created wealth without industrialising,” said Adesina.

“Infrastructure is critical. Ports, rail, digital infrastructure, all those things are going to be very critical. That’s our bread and butter every day at the African Development Bank, connecting Africa and achieving the goal of African unity.”

The Bank has invested more than $150 million in building technology hubs in Rwanda, Senegal and Cabo Verde. The institution also runs collaboration and mentorship schemes to bring African entrepreneurs and investors together.
 

In a pre-recorded video, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the “winds of hope are blowing across” Africa as economists from across the continent addressed raising cash for building roads, power plants and other infrastructure.

Guterres said the emergence of free trade areas across the continent offered “concrete opportunities for economic transformation”.

“Yet, challenges remain. Despite progress, new policies are needed to unleash the full potential of industrialisation, especially in this time of technological revolution,” Guterres said.
 

Acknowledging the “wide recognition that we are off track to achieve the goals by 2030,” UN’s deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed said there had been a “clear renewal of commitment by leader after leader to implement the 2030 agenda” and that the two days of talks in New York marked a “turning point” in achieving the targets.

“This is absolutely critical to respond to challenges that affect all countries – poverty, gross inequalities, discrimination against women and girls, climate change, and a rapidly deteriorating natural environment,” said Mohammed.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched by the UN’s 193 member nations in 2015 in a bid to tackle conflict, hunger, land degradation, gender inequality, climate change, and other global ills, by 2030.

*AFDB

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Kenya, Morocco tops the list of Africa’s avocado exporters
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
A trader selling avocados at Kangemi market in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO| NMG

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

Five months after Kenya struck a trade deal with China to export avocados to the Asian country, the East African country has been ranked third in the world in for the fruit exporting.

 Kenya is trailing Colombia and Morocco according to a 2019 half year survey disclosed at the ongoing World Avocado Congress in Medellin Colombia. The survey named Colombia number one country globally when it comes to fastest avocado export followed by Morocco and Kenya completed the list of top three nations.

The 2019 survey shows that Kenya is on the right path in avocado farming. In a 2018 study, it emerged 7th in the list of leading exporters of avocados. Kenya was beaten by Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Spain, Chile and USA.

Kenya is also represented at the Congress by delegates led by Governor Mwangi Wa Iria and it is set to submit its bid seeking to host the global conference in 2023. Central Kenya County, Murang’a is the largest producer of coffee as farmers across the country are encouraged to diversify agriculture by growing high value crops such as avocado.

“Colombia is among the fastes growing exporters . Touring avocado farms and learning from a three-day conference will equip us with strategies on growing of this fruit,” said one of the Kenyan delegates attending the summit.

China, US and Europe are the destinations of Kenya’s avocados.

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African scientists map the genomic resources of the continent
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Up to 300 African scientists have converged in Accra, Ghana, this week to map out progress of a multi-million, multi-country and multi-year genomic research programme to increase understanding of how human genes and the environment are contributing to Africa’s increased susceptibility to diseases.

The scientists, who are members of the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) consortium, a major genomics research programme established in 2010 by the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG),  Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have made significant progress in using genetic, clinical and epidemiological tools to identify individuals and populations who are at risk for developing specific diseases. The hope is to contribute to efforts to reduce Africa’s high disease burden, which stands at 25 % of the global figures [World Bank]. The scientists will be presenting their findings at the 14th H3Africa Consortium meeting taking place in Accra from 23-27 September 2019 and will be opened by a representative from Ghana’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Over the last 7 years, H3Africa investigators have been examining the relationship between genetic variation, environment, and health in African populations.  Genome scale data has been generated for over 50,000 research participants from across Africa.  These data will provide a clearer and more detailed understanding of the genetic diversity of Africans and new insight into the history of human migration in Africa.  It also has the potential to reveal some of the small differences in our genes that are influential in determining what makes Africa more susceptible or resistant to certain diseases and that can impact disease outcomes and response to treatment.
Genomic research also offers the potential to better understand diseases endemic to Africa that remain understudied because human genetics research has been concentrated on European populations, under representing individuals of African ancestry.
 Some of the findings from H3Africa include:

  • Bacteria in the noses of children differ between those who do and do not develop pneumonia, even before pneumonia develops, and that air pollution influences these bacterial communities.
  • Hypertension is highly prevalent in eastern and southern Africa and even though many take medication, their hypertension is not always properly controlled.

These and other findings will enable early and more accurate diagnosis, the development of new drugs and potentially, personalised medicine, a modern approach that recognises that individuals respond to treatment differently and tailors care to a specific individual or population to ensure they get the right treatment and the right dose at the right time.

“Some diseases are more prevalent and devastating on the African continent than in the rest of the world. Mapping the genetic diversity of Africans by H3Africa researchers will help us to understand why this is. Further Africans are also protected against other diseases seen in other continents and it is important to understand this. Health care needs to be targeted not a one size fits all.” said Dr Michelle Skelton, Principal Investigator, H3Africa Administrative Coordinating Centre.
The programme has also been very successful in building infrastructure and training a critical mass of highly skilled genomics researchers of close to 800 PhD, master’s and bachelor of science students in the field.

“With genomics, we can learn more about ourselves—why some diseases are more pervasive and have a more devastating impact in Africa than elsewhere in the world and how African populations respond to treatment — so we can produce products that are relevant to us, including drugs. This will go a long way in aiding efforts to reduce the continent’s disease burden and building a foundation for advances in genomics medicine and precision medicine for public health in Africa,” said AAS H3Africa Programme Manager, Dr Jennifer Mabuka. Currently, there is an ongoing global effort to apply genomic science and associated technologies to further the understanding of health and disease in different populations. However, most African countries are being left behind in this genomic revolution.  H3Africa is part of efforts to urgently close the genomics gap and widening of global and ethnic inequalities in health and economic well-being.

Further details on the 14th H3Africa Consortium Meeting
The major goals of the 14th Meeting are to:

  • Identify more opportunities for cross collaborations and opportunities between diverse H3Africa projects.
  • Develop advanced community engagement guidelines and recommendations
  • Develop a universal case report form
  • Create content toward producing a promotional Video
  • Improve skills including: Scientific Writing, Science Communication and Media Engagement
  • Finalise H3Africa Policy and Guideline Documents
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First immigrants arrive in Rwanda from Libya
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
Immigrants were escorted to Gashora Camp in the south East of Rwanda

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

First immigrants who were trapped in Libya on their way to Europe have arrived in Rwanda, where government has agreed to give them asylum.

A group of 66 immigrants mainly unaccompanied minors, single mothers and youth have landed at Kigali International Airport on Thursday midnight.

Upon arrival, they were escorted to Gashora camp, in South-Eastern Rwanda where they will be being catered for  by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR).

This group of immigrants is the first to be sent in Rwanda among 500 immigrants whom Rwanda agreed to host, in its fight against torture and slavery they were experiencing in Libya.

UNCHR says that bringing those immigrants will give them safety contrary to how they were living in Libya.

Thousands of immigrants try to cross from Africa to Europe in search of better life. Some drown in the sea or become prey to the pirates who operate in the internationals waters.

Immigrants arriving at Kigali International Airport

Data from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees shows that 116,647 migrants and refugees reached European shores from Africa by crossing Mediterranean sea.

At least 2,275 people died or went missing as they tried to cross to Europe in 2018, leading to an average of six deaths a day.

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