A Pillar For African SMEs In Ecobank.
September 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L*
For small and medium size enterprises across Africa, there is no better partner today than Ecobank. From its roots in Togo, West Africa, Ecobank today has banking operations in about 33 African countries and counting. It therefore came as no surprise when the Ecobank Group was named as the 2021 African SME Bank of the Year beating a host of other banks at the African Banker Awards.
For Ecobank Group Executive, Commercial Banking, Josephine Ankomah, the unprecedented challenges triggered by the COVID -19 pandemic in 2020 required resilience and innovative ways to assist SME customers survive the enormous challenges. Gracious in victory at the Awards, Josephine Ankomah lauds the tremendous work of staff, and collaboration of customers and partners in the success of the robust response provided by Ecobank to SMEs.
“Since the onset of Covid-19, the Ecobank Group has considerably ramped up investments in programmes targeting SMEs by expanding SME-focused lines of credit, providing technical assistance to SME development institutions and building SMEs’ capacity via linkage programmes in partnership with its strategic partners, “says Josephine Ankomah.
From the support to SMEs, to the promotion of gender inclusion, perspectives on the African Free Trade Agreement, corporate social responsibility, historical insights, and more, Josephine Ankomah sheds lights on operations of Ecobank which is today one of the indispensable actors in the business and development equations in Africa.
Thanks for accepting to answer our questions, for those who are not familiar with Ecobank could you start with an introduction, and business concept or vision around the Bank?
Ecobank is an innovation of our founders – members of the Federation of West African Chambers of Commerce and Industry and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). They imagined and actualized their idea of setting up a Bank that transcends country borders, in an era where most banks were either international or country based, to initially assist the business community in the West African Region and later the entire African continent.
Their aim was to break the artificial border barriers along the region and galvanize economic development and integration. A Pan African bank was consequently born dedicated to the continent and its people. The parent company of the Ecobank Group, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated is headquartered in Lomé, Togo where the visionary Togolese leader agreed to host Ecobank on behalf of Ecowas.
The dual objectives of the Ecobank Group are to enable a modern pan-African bank to thrive and to contribute to the economic development and financial integration of the continent.
36 years on and with extensive footprint across 35 African countries in key geographical regions: Nigeria, Francophone West Africa (UEMOA), Anglophone West Africa (AWA) and Central, Eastern and Southern Africa (CESA), Ecobank is the largest Pan-African full-service banking group in terms of spread on the continent. we have banking operations in 33 African countries, representative offices in Ethiopia and South Africa, international operations in Paris (France) as well as offices in Beijing (China), London (The UK) and Dubai (The United Arab Emirates).
As a banking group, our strategic purpose which steers us towards growth and success, is to build a world-class Pan-African bank and contribute to the economic development and financial integration of Africa. Our mission is to provide all our customers with convenient and reliable financial products and services.
As of 31 March 2021, The Ecobank Group had $25.59billion in total assets and $1.95billion in total equity, a customer base of over 24million, 690 branches, over 76,000 Xpress points over 2600 ATMs, over 11million Mobile App users, 40 million digital transactions, a staff strength of over 14,000 with a 54: 46 ratio of male to female employees.
The Bank is also listed on three stock exchanges: The Nigeria Securities Exchange, The Ghana Stock Exchange and the BVRM in Cote d’Ivoire. We also have Bonds trading on the London Stock Exchange.
In what parts of the continent does Ecobank have operations in, what are some of its leading products, and what kind of clientele does the Bank carter to?
The Ecobank Group has presence in 33 countries on the continent, what we refer to as middle Sub-Saharan Africa (outside of South Africa). In South Africa, we have strategic partnership with Nedbank, which is also a major institutional investor in our parent company.
The Bank has a diversified business model by which we manufacture financial products and services centrally, at the Group Level, and distribute them locally through our 33 banking affiliates in the four geographical regions. Our customers are segmented in line with our three Business segments namely: Consumer Banking, Commercial Banking and Corporate & Investment Banking.
Consumer Banking caters for individuals, offering deposit, loan and payment products. We deliver our services through two consumer sub-segments – Personal Banking and Direct Banking. Personal Banking focuses on our Premier and Advantage customers with moderate to high-net worth revenues, and Direct Banking focuses on the mass market and the youth. Through these sub-segments, we serve our customers through our unrivalled footprint in Africa, leveraging digital, branch and agency channels.
Commercial Banking caters for SMEs, Local Corporates, Local NGOs, Local Government Agencies, Faith-Based Organisations, Educational Institutions, Healthcare Institutions. These customers have access to working capital financing, asset financing, business prepaid cards, digital products for payments and collections. We also offer specialized programs such as Ellevate by Ecobank our gender financing product for women owned businesses and women focused businesses.
Corporate & Investment Banking caters to Governments, Regional and Global Corporates, Financial Institutions, International Organisations. Some of the products and services on offer to our Corporate Banking customers are Fixed income, currencies and commodities (FICC), Cash Management, Trade Finance and Services, Loans and Liquidity, Securities, Wealth and Asset Management (SWAM) and Investment Banking.
The Ecobank Group recently won the ‘2021 African SME Bank of the Year’ award, for its significant contribution to the development of the SME sector during the coronavirus outbreak last year, how was the award received and what does it mean for the Bank?
We were delighted to receive this award particularly during this challenging COVID19 period. The award was in recognition of the collective hard work of all Ecobankers and our partners in responding quickly and providing the needed support to our SMEs from the onset of the COVID pandemic.
We had to rethink our business and provide innovative ways to assist our SME customers survive the difficulties brought about by the pandemic. We were also at the forefront of promoting gender inclusion at this challenging time with a product for women owned and women focused businesses – Ellevate by Ecobank.
This award indeed serves as motivation to our staff that all their hard work in improving our products and services, providing the right level of support to our customers is appreciated and recognised. Together, we demonstrated how we can positively impact SMEs and women during a crisis period. As a Bank with a vision to promote economic development, we are proud of this achievement.
What were some of the specific contributions that you made towards supporting or cushioning the impact of COVID 19 the SME sector?
Our customers, particularly the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) – bore the brunt of the financial pressures as they had to contend with supply chain challenges, effects of the lockdowns on their businesses, consequently, decline in turnover, revenue loss and operational challenges in ‘getting back to normal’.
Staying close to our customers and providing them with the necessary financial and non-financial support, was critical and served to demonstrate our commitment to them. We quickly identified the most vulnerable sectors impacted by the pandemic and with an understanding of what our customers required during this difficult period, we proactively put in place mitigating actions including tenor extensions and moratoriums on interest to assist our clients manage their loan repayments. This also helped us manage our loan portfolio and avoid significant deterioration.
Our investment in technology, internet banking and digital transfers in prior years paid off making the transition from in branch services to digital quite seamless. Customers did not face disruptions in making and receiving payments for their goods and services. They were able to continue paying salaries to their employees using digital means and reducing the use of cash which could be a vector of transmission. These were some of the positive experiences. The tremendous uptake on our digital platforms and solutions was a major positive outcome.
Being mindful of the effects of the pandemic particularly on MSMEs, we partnered with AUDA-NEPAD, an African Union agency to support the agency’s 100,000 MSMEs initiative. This led to the launch of the MSME Academy by both Ecobank and AUDA-NEPAD in 2020, in the midst of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. The objective is to provide entrepreneurs, owners and managers of micro, small and medium sized enterprises (MSMEs) with coaching, mentoring and business skills training courses.
Ecobank has also partnered with Google to equip African SMEs with the necessary digital skills to navigate the rapidly evolving business world. The aim is to assist African businesses remain relevant and fulfil their potential by embracing digital capabilities.
From your perspective and that of the Bank, how important are SMEs to the development of the continent, and additional support could Institutions like Ecobank, and others, governments etc provide to strengthen and support their growth?
A lot has been said about how SMEs are critical to economic development and rightly so, because they constitute 90% of businesses on the continent. In Africa the desire and determination to start a business is not in doubt. What is needed however is the means to unlock their full potential, grow these businesses in a sustainable manner and turn them to multi-million-dollar companies in the future.
We have noted that there are three (3) key things that SMEs need namely, access to finance, capacity building and access to markets.
In terms of access to finance we continue to work at de-risking credit facilities extended to SMEs through credit guarantee schemes that can be provided by DFIs and Governments. Through these risk sharing partnerships are able to lend to SMEs against reduced collateral requirements. We are also partnering governments in our markets to deliver support to SMEs e.g., MIFA and FAIEJ in Togo.
We recognize the need to strengthen and build the capacity of business owners to ensure efficient management of funding. Between June and July this year we provided training to over 800 SMEs under the MSME Training for Financing Programme. This programme proved to be very impactful with more than 90% of participants testifying that what they had learned would significantly help improve their business operations.
As with any major disruption, COVID 19 pandemic ushered in a period of both great risk and opportunity. One positive aspect was the exponential growth in digital payments. Business owners quickly realized the need to close the digital skills gap within their places of work for a sustainable post-pandemic recovery. This is where our partnership with Microsoft through their Global Skilling initiative successfully offered digital training to our SMEs.
Finally, access to markets. We have developed eCommerce solutions to expand market access working through partners such as iPay, DPO, Flutterwave and with Google through the Google My Business platform. With these solutions our customers benefit from enhanced visibility for their business through a digital presence. They are able to expand their customer base with whom they can have access and interact 24/7
May we know what specific programs or activities that the Bank has in place or has in view to empower women?
Gender Financing is an area we are keen to support, and this led to the development and launch of our women’s program Ellevate by Ecobank in November 2020.
Women constitute roughly half of the population in Africa. One in four female adults in Africa starts or manages a business, Women also invest as much as 90% of their incomes into their families and communities. So, clearly our goal of positively contributing to the economic development and financial integration of the African continent can only be strengthened if we focus on women.
Ellevate by Ecobank is now on the market as a pilot programme in a few countries. We are convinced that the needs of women entrepreneurs are largely the same across the continent and should be addressed without exception. With this in mind, we launched Ellevate by Ecobank simultaneously in all our 33 markets. Today you will find dedicated Ellevate Desk Managers ready to attend to the needs of women all across our footprint.
The program is designed for women owned and women focused businesses. This means that any business founded by a woman or is 50% or more owned by a woman qualifies for Ellevate. A business whose management or board is made up of 20% or more women also qualifies for Ellevate. Another criteria we consider is the number of women employed. If the business employs more than 30% women it qualifies for the programme and finally companies who manufacture products specifically for women for example cosmetics, sanitary ware, mother care products also qualify for Ellevate.
The value proposition of Ellevate by Ecobank offers women an end-to-end partnership in which they gain access to financial services as well as non-financial services. This distinguishes us from other women’s programs where the focus is on either financial support or non-financial support. In the case of Ecobank we are offering them both.
We are committed to meeting the needs of women businesses with tailored loan products, at favourable lending terms as well as capacity building, providing access to markets, networking opportunities and recognition.
Still on COVID -19, may we know what impact it had on operations and business in general for Ecobank?
We were prepared having made significant investments in technology in the last 5 years to digitalise our operations and services. We therefore ensured that we steadfastly provided our customers with 24/7 access to their financial service’s needs. For example, our call centres were open, and Rafiki, our artificial intelligence (AI) self-help bot, supported routine banking services. Our full suite of banking services remained available on all our digital platforms: mobile, online, Omni Plus and Omni Lite.
In the wake of COVID-19, businesses transitioned from cash towards e-commerce and digital payments. The gradual shift from physical to digital channels among consumers accelerated with the pandemic, which has changed the way that we work in so many ways.
ATMs and call centres remained open 24/7. We ensured that customers had the full range of banking services available on our digital platforms: Ecobank Mobile and Ecobank Online available to our consumer customers, and Ecobank Omni Lite and Ecobank Omni Plus to meet the needs of SMEs and large businesses. We took the decision to waive some fees on our digital channels.
To ensure the safety of our customers we adhered strictly to guidance from WHO, governments and health agencies making it safer for our customers to visit our physical locations by providing temperature checks, crowd control, hand sanitisers and social distancing, among other measures.
Our staff were also able to work from home with very minimal initial challenges. Staff today can operate from wherever they may be.
For our communities, we contributed circa $3 million in the form of cash, healthcare equipment and supplies and embarked on sustained and robust COVID-19 awareness campaigns across our footprint.
What are some other challenges that Ecobank faces in countries where it has operations, and any plans to expand into more countries across the continent?
Admittedly there are challenges operating in Africa, a large unbanked population high levels of poverty, unemployment etc. However, we see these challenges as opportunities to positively impact the lives of people and their communities. This is what drives us to work with partners, leverage our strength and help to solve some of these challenges. For example, our focus on women through our gender financing programme Ellevate by Ecobank will not only set us apart, but more importantly, will touch the lives of one of the most vulnerable groups in Africa by providing them with tailor-made and relevant solutions that will empower them to continue to effectively contribute to Africa’s development.
The Ecobank Fintech Challenge affords us the opportunity to collaborate with Fintechs who are ready to scale. We provide them access and to 33 markets to provide payment solutions. Our own digital solutions like OmniLite, Ecobank Pay,Rapid Transfer s, Mobile App facilitate payments and collections seamlessly across our footprint and ensuring final inclusion is extended to a vast number of people on the continent
There has been so much talk about the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, first, how does Ecobank view the AfCFTA, and what is the Bank doing to tap into opportunities that may accrue from it?
The Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) officially became operational in January 2021 paving a way for our clients to access a unified African continental market. Africa has six major customs unions and a number of trade agreements but that notwithstanding these trading arrangements and their related costs of doing business are far from conducive to the success of entrepreneurs seeking to trade beyond their national borders.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement aims to improve cross border trade for both formal and informal service suppliers, with particular attention to micro-, small- and medium-sized operators and “women and youth service suppliers.”
As the pan African bank with the largest footprint in Africa, we have from our inception been prepared for AfCFTA. We have the spread and the payment platform to help achieve the implementation strategies to operationalize the AfCFTA Agreement. We intend to leverage this initiative as it is directly aligned to our Group’s vision of contributing to the economic development and financial integration of Africa.
AfCFTA affords as the opportunity to use our skills and immense local knowledge across 33 markets to enhance our customers’ understanding of AfCFTA to enable them tap into the opportunities that this new single market covering 1,2Bn people and with a GDP of $3,5 trillion brings.
Ecobank is able and does enable intra-Africa trade. We are the go-to Bank for AfCFTA.
How does Ecobank give back to the community and are there a few specific examples of projects that you could share with us?
We recognize the importance of also giving back to the communities we work in and to drive social impact. Through the Ecobank Foundation, we are focused on staying relevant through social impact programmes related to health, education and financial empowerment.
The Ecobank Foundation has contributed to the NCD Alliance’s Civil Society Solidarity Fund to accelerate African NCD Alliances’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic for people living with Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs). The Fund aims to ensure that the needs of people living with NCDs continue to be addressed during the COVID-19 pandemic as it strives towards achieving Universal Health Coverage, NCD prevention and control. It has awarded grants to ten NCD Alliances in Africa, of which nine are in Ecobank countries or regions: Benin, Burundi, Cameroon, East Africa, Mozambique, Nigeria, Togo, Uganda and Zambia.
Again, through the Foundation, we are collaborating with UNITLIFE, the UN initiative dedicated to fighting chronic malnutrition, to raise awareness and funds on this disease affecting a third of African children.
In partnership with Speak Up Africa and the UN hosted RBM Partnership to End Malaria we launched the Zero Malaria Business Leadership Initiative to drive private sector engagement in the fight against malaria in Benin, Senegal, Burkina Faso. This initiative is being expanded to include Uganda, Cameroon and Ghana.
The youth of the continent are important to Africa’s development. In view of this the Ecobank Group has partnered with Junior Achievement (JA) Africa to mobilize over 600,000 young people across the continent and educate them in financial literacy. The partnership taps into JA’s vast online community of over one million young social media followers. It seeks to grow financial inclusion for young Africans using Ecobank’s mobile and digital services. By educating young people in the importance of money management skills, we aim to empower them to build a culture of savings as part of their personal financial habits.
This year, during our Ecobank Day celebrations, we will be partnering with various
organisations to help raise awareness about the issue of Mental Health across Africa
which has become a major concern with the rising cases of suicide, mental illnesses,
sigmatisation and the general lack of understanding and compassion towards people
who may suffer from mental health issues.
Through our innovative digital platform, we can help fundraise across Africa and mobilise capital in support of charities, disaster appeals, healthcare and other worthwhile causes.
As we wrap up this interview, any major developments in the pipeline that you want to share and to potential customers out there, why should there consider Ecobank as the first choice to do business with?
The Ecobank Group recently raised a US$350 million Sustainability Notes. This was a landmark issue which represents the first ever Tier 2 Sustainability Notes by a financial institution in Sub-Saharan Africa. An equivalent amount of the net proceeds from the notes will be used to finance or refinance, new or existing eligible assets as described in our Sustainable Finance Framework.
This is particularly important to us as it will help us push through our commitment to the sustainability of the continent. Our current area of focus i.e. on women, health and education can now be extended to other areas of opportunity such as affordable and clean energy, clean water and sanitation, quality education and housing. We see this as a testament to our clear strategy, solid positioning across the pan-African banking space as well as our deliberate and long-term focus on sustainable initiatives.
To all the potential customers out there, Ecobank is the leading pan African banking group with the widest footprint on the continent. A relationship with any one of our affiliates gives you access to 33 markets in Africa and a banking operation in Paris France. We highly value our relationship with our customers and work with them to consistently improve our products and services to suit their needs. In the area of digital solutions, we are pace setters as amply demonstrated during the Covid19 pandemic.
Our digital payments platform is robust and provides ease of payment to any country in which we operate.
Finally, our professionalism, product innovation and the level of support we provide to our customers has culminated in our winning numerous awards. We were adjudged the 2021 African Banker, African SME Bank of the Year.
I will take this opportunity to high-light other awards we won recently:
- Ecobank Côte d’Ivoire
- Ecobank Rwanda
The Digital banker – Middle East & Africa (MEA) Innovation Awards
- Outstanding Digital Transformation in Cash Management
Global Finance – Innovators awards 2021
- Outstanding crisis finance innovations – Ellevate by Ecobank
Euromoney – Excellence awards 2021
- Best Bank in Ghana – Ecobank Ghana
Cameroon: Restructuring the Anglophone Dialogue.
September 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
‘The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war” Norman Schwarzkopf
By Mwalimu George Ngwane*
On September 10, 2019, the Head of State, President Paul Biya in a message to the nation convened a Major National Dialogue to address the crisis in the South West and North West regions. A crisis to quote him ‘that not only jeopardize the safety and wellbeing of the population living there but also far-reaching consequences for the national community as a whole’. President Biya continued ‘the entire national community has hopes that this will be an opportunity for our brothers and sisters in the North West and South West regions to close this particularly painful chapter, to forget their suffering and to return to normal life’. In his opening speech at the Major National Dialogue Prime Minister Dion Ngute challenged the attendants to ‘make history and find solutions to the problems that have separated us physically and intellectually in recent years”.
Two years after the Major National dialogue we have, as a people, reaped the psychological satisfaction that goes with talking with each other, mitigated the cacophony of violent extremism in the North West and South West regions, shown resilience in the adage that the greater the ability to handle adversity, the stronger the partnership that develops; and benefited from some institutional and structural reforms. But we are still ‘to close this particularly painful chapter, to forget their suffering and to return to normal life’. This can be understood. Dialogue is a process and not an event. Peace talks are a permanent feature in the landscape of conflict and as long as the war-war rages on, the jaw-jaw must forge ahead.
Some of the indicators that show that normalcy has not completely returned to the two regions are the proliferation of arms in the hands of non-state armed actors, the armed confrontation between the military and non-state armed actors with innocent civilians being caught in the crossfire, the presence of the military in towns, roadblocks, arson, the timid return of schools in some rural and semi-urban areas, the religious loyalty to civil disobedience every Monday, and the presence of Internally displaced persons as well as refugees.
As far as non-state armed belligerents are concerned, I can categorise them into three groups –the Haram forces which have mainly financial/economic interest through kidnappings, gruesome murder, and ransom request; the Hydra forces which have an ideological interest through their quest for self-determination which sometimes vacillates between secession, confederation and federalism; and the Hybrid forces whose pendulum of interest swings between the first two.
After the 2019 Major National Dialogue, there have been calls for more dialogue, something which the Head of State mentioned during his 10 September 2019 as he said ‘since the outbreak of the crisis in the North West and South West regions, the term dialogue has never been so much talked about, used and even misused’. But were the principle of another dialogue (Dialogue 2) accepted, would it be just another format of the 2019 Major National Dialogue? I am not sure. Even if the Major National Dialogue provided a relative vista for frankness, sincerity and orientation to restoring sanity and normalcy to the fractured and fissured cohesion of the people living in the South West and North West regions, it cannot be seen as an end by itself but as an entry point into a journey, sometimes long, of conflict transformation. So before venturing into a ‘more of the same ‘dialogue format, it may be necessary to evaluate the gains and gaps made during the Major National Dialogue. In his 1st August 1964 Memorandum, Bernard Fonlon declared that ‘a traveler on the road stops from time to time to look back and see the ground he has covered; merchants close shops at intervals to take stock; and users of machines are bound to service and overhaul them now and again’. Therefore, going forward I propose four models of dialogue that can be implemented simultaneously or sequentially.
Community dialogue: the amicable
While the Hydra and Hybrid forces can be brought to the dialogue table, the Haram forces can either be confronted by the state armed actors or converted by community stakeholders. Community stakeholders include traditional, religious, security, administrative, education, youth, women, community media, and civil society groups which in their respective neighborhoods have an advocacy interest in transforming their immediate environments from conflict-prone to conflict-proof. In this vein the community creates Local Peacemaking Committees (LPC) which engage especially the Haram Forces to drop their arms as well as incentivize them with reintegration tools of development. This is what Prophet Isaiah referred to as beating swords into ploughshares. A community dialogue is a peaceful, proximity, palaver tradition that according to Dr. Dze-Ngwa Willibroad encourages community empathy, accommodation, healing, atonement and reintegration into society. Even the military are not left out as community stakeholders because as Dze-Ngwa suggests they can hold back their guns and harness or tap from their innate vocational skills (carpentry, building, engineering, medicine, teaching, sports etc) to promote community development. Local or Citizen Peacemaking is called Track1 approach as opposed to Track 11 approach carried out by the state. Community dialogue believes in promoting the culture of peace in the neighborhood through an indigenous knowledge system. As in all traditional African societies, there exists a wealth of indigenous knowledge, norms, skills and practices which are relevant to establishing and maintaining peaceful relationships between individuals and groups to deal with differences and disputes. Like the ujamaa ideology of Tanzania, the gacaca practice in Rwanda and the ubuntu philosophy in South Africa, community dialogue is a homegrown, participative, bottom up, truth and reconciliatory therapy that seeks to provide an enabling environment for renewed collective catharsis, revived economic sharing, repaired broken bonding, and restored confidence and trust within the community. However, it must be noted that community dialogue is relevant to cessation of hostilities and agreement on mutual security but does not resolve the root cause of the conflict. As a local ownership instrument, community dialogue is only important in demonstrating that grievances can be resolved without anyone resorting to gun violence.
Special Status Dialogue: The Available
The Special status is the most visible and much talked about outcome of the Major National dialogue. Created by law No. 2019/024 of 24 December 2019 of the bill to institute the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities, the Special Status of the North West and South West regions constitutes Part V of Book IV containing the operational Rules applicable to the two regions. The content of the Status has been lauded by some because it is ‘a specific organizational and operational regime, based on the historical, social and cultural values of these regions, with due respect for the primacy of the state and national unity and solidarity (Section 327.2). In his credit to the content of the Status, the President of the Foundation for the Advancement of Regional Autonomy in Cameroon and policy Advocacy scholar, Azong-Wara Andrew writes ‘there are merits in the Special Status which some of our Anglophone compatriots are tending to brush under the carpet for lack of content’ (The Horizon newspaper, 12 August 2021,p.10). Meanwhile a frontline actor for Federalism Dr. Simon Munzu argues that the provisions of the Special Status do not contain anything that confers any meaningful ‘Special Status on the two Anglophone regions. It is hard to see how they can lead to the resolution of the Anglophone problem” (The Sun newspaper, 5 June 2020). Indeed, there have been diametrically polarized opinions on the present content of the status. Having a further discussion on it could be helpful. The format would simply be for the members of each Regional Assembly to take another critical and non-political partisan look at the Status so as to expand its administrative space and deepen its ideological content. A content that reflects the universal concept of Special Status regimes yet one that is contextualized to suit each Regional specificity and at the same time to embrace the overarching values of Education, Judiciary,Public Administration, Language policy etc. between the two regions.
Caucus dialogue: the attainable
In this message of 10 September 2019, President Paul Biya asked ‘Talking about dialogue per se, the issue has always been, with whom? ‘ He continues “New Information and Communication technologies, especially social media networks have unfortunately facilitated the advent of self-proclaimed leaders, extremists of all shades trying to achieve recognition using insult, threat, hate speech, violence and murder”.
Two years later we now know those toiling for peace and those spoiling for war. It is now possible to separate the oranges from the grapes among the interlocutors. There are credible interlocutors or stakeholders in the domestic and diaspora scenes who can constitute themselves as caucuses to identify the problem of the conflict and draft a peace framework to resolving it. Some of the caucuses that can be considered include Delegates that can be elected from each of the two regions, Delegates as an Anglophone bloc, Delegates from the various groups in the diaspora, Delegates from some of the Affirmative Action groups that are looking for peaceful means in ending the crisis, the clergy, traditional leaders, youth groups, women groups, rights-based groups etc. What this requires is that such caucuses be given an opportunity to hold their internal discussion meetings and come out with their blueprint or white paper for peace. It may be necessary that these caucuses with concrete agendas be invited to a multistakeholder conference to exchange views and find common ground towards a Comprehensive Peace Agreement.
Again, in Paul Biya’s own words on 10 September 2019 ‘Prior to the effective holding of the dialogue, the Prime Minister, Head of Government will carry out broad based consultations to solicit a wide range of views that will serve as a source of inspiration for the conduct of deliberations”. The need to use the pyramid caucus approach which is broad at the bottom and narrow at the apex would permit Delegates to address the core and substantive root causes of the Anglophone problem that has morphed into the crisis in the two regions. Our country is host to persons who can generate public pressure for the parties to listen to the people’s aspiration for peace and who can formulate a long-term agenda for restorative justice, positive peace and harmonious co-existence in Cameroon.
The caucus dialogue that moves from the micro to the macro level, believes in fixed goal but flexible method; it believes in unity of outcome but not uniformity in discussion; it believes in deep conversation based on rational thinking but not on erratic impulses and finally it believes in the protection of our bonding and not the promotion of our balkanization. Because caucus dialogue often has participants with different ideological leanings rooted in diverse interpretations of the history of the crisis, the panoply of participants need to be inspired by the following words of Nelson Mandela ‘One of the most important lessons I learnt in my life of struggle for freedom and peace is that in any conflict, there comes a point when neither side can claim to be right and the other wrong, no matter how much that might have been the case at the start of the conflict”.
Constitutional dialogue: the affordable
Cassam Uteem, former President of Mauritius once said that ‘conflict still impugns constitution; while older constitutions were the legacy of conflict with colonialism ,newer constitutions have aimed to end violent internecine rivalry between groups with comparing notions about state governance’. Constitutional dialogue is always loaded with the expectation that it will herald peace and enhance reconciliation and inclusion.
The Major National Dialogue was triggered by the unfortunate events that have made and continue to make the South West and North West regions the cauldron of bloodletting and the bastion of social dislocation. The objective of a constitutional dialogue is to provide long term institutional guarantees that would both stem the tide of any crisis and forestall the eventuality of any conflict. Some politicians have been calling for another Tripartite Conference in the manner of the 31 October -15 November 1991 Tripartite conference. The 1991 Tripartite was orchestrated by grievances of a national dimension (draft of an electoral code and access of political parties to the official media). Those grievances were expressed in nationwide Ghost town and civil disobedience campaign initiated by the National Coordination of Opposition Parties and Associations.
However, by the end of the Tripartite, proposals for a constitutional review were brought to the table leading to the present 1996 constitution. Can constitutional reforms through a constitutional dialogue lay to rest the subject on the form of state which was during the Major National Dialogue considered ‘the elephant in the room?’ Shall it vindicate Barrister Felix Agbor Nkongho’s declaration on October 2 2019 during the Major National Dialogue that ‘the dialogue would be pointless unless the form of state was discussed?’ Shall a constitutional dialogue see the present crisis as just emanating from Teachers and Lawyers socio-professional petitions in 2016 (which petitions government has largely addressed) or shall it consider this crisis as a Trojan horse carrying what has long been called The Anglophone problem? Shall it not be advisable for such a constitutional dialogue to allocate enough time, space and resources to answering two correlated questions: “Why is this crisis still persisting and how can it be given a sustainable constitutional solution?”
Bernard Fonlon often said, “a constitution is to the state what the soul is to man”. None else but the government can take the initiative of a constitutional dialogue and if it does the participants must be willing to comply and cooperate. In his book “Thoughts on Nigerian constitution” Obafemi Awolowo says that the formulation of a constitution for a country is a solemn and grave undertaking. Those who are privileged to be charged with this solemn and grave responsibility need much more than mere emotional impulses and unreflective patriotic sentiments as their equipment”
My four models of dialogue are premised on the urgency of heeding to the African metaphor that says “as long as the baby is crying its mother shall not stop singing”. Whatever model or models we choose, it or they should be built upon a rock and not on sand.
*Culled from September Issue of PAV Magazine. Mwalimu George Ngwane is author of the book “Settling Disputes in Africa” (2001), Senior Chevening Fellow, Conflict Prevention and Resolution, University of York (UK) 2010, Rotary Peace Fellow, University of Chulalongkorn, Bangkok (Thailand) 2015, Commonwealth Professional Fellow, Minority Rights Group, London (UK) 2015, Bilingual Commission scholar, Cardiff, Wales 2015, United Nations Minority Rights Fellow, OHCHR, Geneva (Switzerland) 2016. He was elected Member since 2017 of the Board of Trustees, Minority Rights Group, London (UK) and Minority Rights Group, Africa (Uganda). He is also since 2021 a Senior Fellow with the United Nations Commission for Human Rights. His blog is www.gngwane.com
Zimbabwe’s Strive Masiyiwa, African Union Special Envoy and head of the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to address UN Food Systems Summit.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Strive Masiyiwa,Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet and African Union Special Envoy and Head of the African COVID-19 Vaccine Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), is expected to address the United Nations Food Systems summit where at least more than 130 countries are also expected to announce their national commitments next week.
According to a spokesperson, at least 91 world leaders are set to participate in the Summit after the UN Secretary-General called on governments to ‘feed hope for a better future’.
The event, which is the first of its kind and takes place during the UN General Assembly in New York on September 23, is due to hear from world leaders including President Alberto Fernández (Argentina),Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir (Iceland), and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (Japan).
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (New Zealand), President Uhuru Kenyatta (Kenya), and Prime Minister Imran Khan (Pakistan) have also confirmed their participation.
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, who called for the Food Systems Summit in October 2019, urged world leaders earlier this week to bring to New York “ambitious commitments to feed hope for a better future”.
“A well-functioning food system can help prevent conflict, protect the environment and provide health and livelihoods for all,” Guterres said in a call for ambition. “It is our moral imperative to keep our promise to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.”
The Summit follows almost two years of dialogues at community, national and international levels involving more than 40,000 people around the world to share their needs, challenges and ideas for a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive food system.
During the Summit, countries are expected to announce the emerging outcomes of their national dialogues and their pathways for change, while supporting organisations from the private sector, academia, philanthropy and civil society will also make commitments.
Agnes Kalibata, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Food Systems Summit, is expected to give opening remarks, with contributions from Pau Gasol, UNICEF Global Champion for Nutrition and Zero Childhood Obesity and NBA Champion, José Andres, Chef and Founder of World Central Kitchen, and David Malpass, President of the World Bank Group.
Also Melinda Gates of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is also due to address the Summit.
In light of the ongoing circumstances as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Summit will take a fully virtual format, following a hybrid Pre-Summit gathering in Rome, Italy, in July.
The UN Food Systems Summit was announced by the UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on World Food Day in October 2019 as a part of the Decade of Action for delivery on the SDGs by 2030. The aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality. More information about the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit can be found online: https://www.un.org/foodsystemssummit
Zimbabwe to benefit from sustainable solutions initiatives.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
On International day of South-South Cooperation (12 September), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) acknowledges the Global south’s important contribution to alleviate food insecurity and malnutrition in Zimbabwe. The Governments of Brazil, China, India and South Africa, have provided tangible transfer of information, resources and expertise to Zimbabwe over the past years, successfully administered through WFP, to support food security and nutrition in Zimbabwe.
The sharing of expertise that connects farmers to technology has been vital to support business development through e-commerce. China-Aid Agricultural Technology and Demonstration Centre led the exchange in partnership with Knowledge Transfer Africa (eMkambo), supporting up to 500 smallholder farmers with marketing and horticulture training. Additionally, several farmers and Agritex officers (government officers within the Ministry of Agriculture) were supported through a trainer programme, to ensure longevity of the project.
India’s recent contribution through the India-UN Development Partnership Fund focuses on climate change mitigation in Zimbabwe. Farmers will be trained on the advantages of growing drought-tolerant crops such as sorghum or millet, including techniques on how to reduce post-harvest losses. The programme aims to assist around 5,200 smallholder farmers in Chiredzi and Mangwe districts over the coming months.
Similarly, the Government of South Africa donated maize meal to assist families affected by Cyclone Idai in 2019. WFP provided warehousing services to facilitate this partnership. “Cyclone Idai was said to be the worst tropical cyclone on record to affect Africa and the Southern Hemisphere. It is in this regard that when Zimbabwe was one of the countries that were affected in our region in March 2019, the Government of South Africa immediately mobilized resources and pledged our joined support to the affected communities.”, said Dr. Naledi Pandor, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of the Republic of South Africa, when handing over food aid to Zimbabwe. “As a close neighbour and regional member, South Africa has focused on supporting a humanitarian response to Zimbabwe in the face of natural disasters“, he added.
Through WFP’s Centre of Excellence, Brazil provides research and policy support to homegrown school feeding programmes, which harness a range of elements including education, health, social protection and agriculture.
“We aim to work more closely with our partners to build the skills needed, so that Zimbabwe is able to meet its Agenda 2030 commitments “, said Ms. Francesca Erdelmann, WFP Zimbabwe Country Director and Representative. “Specifically, WFP aims to enhance market linkages between smallholder farmers and strengthen the capacity of national authorities. South-South Cooperation is key to this strategy, and we are determined to unlock its full potential,” she added.
In close collaboration with the Government of Zimbabwe, WFP is currently developing its 2022-2027 Country Strategic Plan, which will promote further collaboration with the aim of establishing sustainable, resilient and shock responsive social protection programmes with a food systems lens.
Agriculture accounts for up to seventy percent of the populations’ livelihood activity in Zimbabwe, which makes it critical to find optimal techniques to grow food sustainably and connect local supply to markets. Middle and low-income countries possess a rich trove of knowledge that can be shared and adapted to overcome development challenges.
The President of Tanzania, Merck Foundation CEO, The Prime Minister of TOGO, and Vice Presidents of Uganda and Benin named as Most Influential African Women.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
The President of Tanzania, SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN; Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej; The Prime Minister of TOGO, H.E. VICTOIRE TOMEGAH DOGBÉ, The Vice President of Uganda, H.E. JESSICA ROSE EPEL ALUPO and The Vice President of Benin, H.E. MARIAM CHABI TALATA amongst 100 Most Influential African Women 2021; The list of 100 Most Influential African Women 2020, released by Avance Media group as part of ‘Be a Girl’ Initiative to acknowledges their efforts and accomplishments, which continue to inspire young people across the African continent and beyond.
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother has been featured in the list of 100 Most Influential African Women 2021, released by ‘Be a Girl’ Initiative, for the second consecutive year. Avance Media, a leading Rating firm, through its girls’ empowerment project, ‘Be A Girl’, launches this annual publication to highlight and celebrate the astounding accomplishments of 100 women from Africa dubbed.
Merck Foundation CEO, President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother and Member of Egyptian Senate, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej has been recognized for her efforts to transform patient care in Africa, breaking the infertility stigma through her poignant “More Than a Mother’ campaign and to empower girls in education so that they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams through ‘Educating Linda’ program.
This is for the fourth time, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej has made it to the list of 100 Most Influential Africans (women and men). She has also been previously recognized by New African Magazine, UK in 2019 & 2020, for empowering women in general and infertile women in particular through the ‘More Than a Mother’ campaign.
Senator, Dr. Rasha is truly a force of nature and one of Africa’s unsung ‘sheroes’ of women empowerment and health advocates.
Speaking about this accolade, Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “I’m truly honored with the recognition and very happy to be included in the list alongside many prestigious and renowned African Women. I congratulate each one of them. This is a huge validation of my journey and my efforts to empower women of my continent, it will certainly motivate me to work even harder and more sincerely towards my goal of transforming patient care for the people of my beloved Africa.”
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej is the brain behind the inspiring ‘More Than A Mother’ campaign – a rallying call against female infertility stigma. The campaign empowers infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset, and economic empowerment. More than 20 African First Ladies appointed as Ambassadors of “Merck Foundation More than a Mother”, which is very impressive.
Hailed from Egypt, this versatile lady and a style icon is a trailblazer and influential in changing the perception of how fashion, film, music, and media can be utilized to address sensitive social issues through “More Than A Mother’ Fashion, Films, Songs & Media Awards as she strongly believes in the critical role of these fraternities in creating a culture shift.
She has also contributed to the future of hundreds of girls through her ‘Educating Linda’ Program by supporting the education of many of the high performing girls by providing scholarships and grants that can cover school fees, school uniforms, and other essentials including notebooks, pens, and mathematical instruments, so they can reach their potential and pursue their dreams.
“Empowering women starts with education, to enable them to be healthier, stronger, and independent”, explains Senator, Dr. Rasha.
Moreover, she has been an inspirational pioneer in transforming Patient care in Africa. More than 1300 doctors from 42 countries are benefiting from Merck Foundation scholarships in critical and underserved fields such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Embryology & Fertility specialty, and many more.
She emphasized, “During Coronavirus pandemic, it has been more important than ever to build capacity and train specialized doctors. In some of these countries, they have never had even one oncologist, for example. They may only have a general practitioner. We simply made history in these countries such as The Gambia, Burundi, Siera Leone, Botswana, Namibia, Chad, Niger, Guinea & Liberia, not only in Oncology but in many of critical and underserved speciality Such as Respiratory, Paediatric, Orthopedic, Psychiatry, Intensive care and more”.
The 2021 list of 100 most Influential African Women has a representation of the most powerful African women from 28 African countries, chosen from various career backgrounds including diplomacy, philanthropy, politics, activism, entrepreneurship, business leadership, and entertainment. It includes many famous names like; H.E. SAMIA SULUHU HASSAN, The President of Tanzania; H.E. MARIAM CHABI TALATA, The Vice President of Benin; H.E. VICTOIRE TOMEGAH DOGBÉ, The Prime Minister of Togo and H.E. JESSICA ROSE EPEL ALUPO, The Vice President of Uganda, amongst others.
Edited by Winnie Botha from ‘For Africa’ Media
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Facebook: https://bit.ly/3lw462B
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Twitter: https://bit.ly/3lPB6TV
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Instagram: https://bit.ly/39ibSYl
For more information on Merck Foundation, please visit: www.Merck-Foundation.com
WORLD LEADERS TO MEET AT UN
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Alice Chisanga
World Leaders are expected to gather at United Nations Headquarters next week to make Sustainable Development Goals Moment and inspire critical ambitions aimed at ending COVID-19 Pandemic.
The SDG’s Moment is planned to take place at the beginning of the United Nations General Assembly High Level Week.
The event comes at a time when the world experiences a deeply uneven response to COVID-19 Pandemic, which risks creating a two – tier recovery with significant implications for the advancement of the SDG’s, especially in developing countries.
And UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says the moment will provide world leaders with platform to showcase the bold plan, actions and solutions that are needed to end COVID-19 Pandemic.
Mr. Guterres notes that this will set the world on course towards archieving the SDG’s.
The event will attract more than 30 Heads of States, key debate with UN leaders on COVID-19 Pandemic, Envoy for Future Generation and Culture of the President of the Republic of Korea.
In the last 18 months, COVID-19 Pandemic has disrupted economies and livelihoods, deepened inequalities and risks sending over 70 million people into extreme poverty according to UN information.
Recognising this urgency, the UN will launch a new new campaign, dubbed keeping the promise ahead of the SDG Moment.
The digital campaign will call on people around the world to make a promise to take action for better future for all.
Nigeria could soon lift the ban on Twitter
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jean-Pierre Afadhali
Nigeria has said it would lift the ban on Twitter in a ‘few days’ more than three months after the West African country blocked the social media platform.
The country’s Minister of Information and Culture Lai Mohammed said on Wednesday that the government would soon lift the ban without giving a specific time. This is the second time in recent months Nigeria’s official stated the country would unblock the platform that is used by many to express themselves on the country’s affairs and that has promoted freedom of expression.
“I think even Twitter itself two days ago gave what I will call a progress report on our talks with them, and I think if I want to quote them rightly it has been productive and quite respectful.” Mr. Mohammed was quoted as saying on Wednesday after a cabinet meeting.
Authorities banned Twitter on June 4, a move that angered many Nigerians in the most populous country in Africa, with a huge presence on the microblogging platform. The decision followed the removal of President Muhammadu Buhari’s controversial tweet the platform said it violated its rules that prohibit content that incite or threaten violence.
In that tweet, the President had threatened to deal with those causingtrouble in the country using “the language they understand,”. Mr. Buhari was referring to the experience of the 1967-1970 civil war where millions of Nigerians got killed
The Federal Government accused the global social media giant of threatening what it termed “the country’s corporate existence”.
According to media reports, Mr. Mohammed further said while answering questions from State House journalists that Nigerian authorities and Twitter officials had to “dot the I’s and cross the T’s… it’s just going to be very, very soon, just take my word for that,” before reaching a final agreement.
The block of access to Twitter has hindered Nigerian businesses and has been widely condemned for undermining freedom of expression. Various local and international human rights criticized the decision saying it denied Nigerian people access to information, freedom of expression and press freedom.
After blocking Twitter, the country’s communication authorities banned local media houses from using the microblogging website saying it was “unpatriotic” amid increasing use of VPN, an online tool that allows users to bypass the blockage of online platforms.
Press freedom advocates and Human Rights Organizations condemned the directive saying it was illegal and an attack on press freedom, however local media reported that major media outlets quit Twitter to comply with the order.
“On Friday, 4 June, the Nigerian authorities announced a ban on Twitter in Nigeria and directed Internet Service Providers in Nigeria to block access to Twitter. Media houses also had to deactivate their Twitter accounts. These actions are clear violations of the right to freedom of expression, access to information, and freedom of the press.” Stated Amnesty International in a recent call of action against the ban on Twitter.
Following the ban on twitter Nigeria’s Federal Government ordered social media companies to register with local authorities before they can operate, a rare regulation around the world that could be seen as a measure to control the powerful platforms that allow many to express themselves freely.
“These actions are the latest symptoms of the alarming backsliding on human rights across Nigeria. Social media platforms have helped Nigerians get information, communicate, hold useful dialogues and conversations, and demand accountability from the Nigerian authorities, particularly during the #EndSARS protests last year.” said Amnesty International in its recent call to action.
Many Nigerians and civic group as well as international community condemned the ban on Twitter, a decision the federal government vehemently defended.
Some analysts said the ban on Twitter could have wider implication on the country’s economy in terms of investments into tech sector. The social media giant has set up its Africa headquarters in Accra, Ghana, a decision some observers said it did not please Nigeria, the biggest economy in Africa.
In a recent brief titled ‘Nigeria’s Twitter Ban is Misplaced Priority’ published by Africa Growth Institute, a US-based research institute that studies Africa’s development challenges, authors stated that the move to ban Twitter has led to “damage” of Nigeria’s image on the World stage as its key diplomatic and economic allies like EU and US condemned the ban.
“The ban can also harm Nigeria’s growth as foreign investors pivot business and funding to other African countries, jeopardizing Nigeria’s role as the unofficial tech hub of Africa,” the brief read.
The International Organization for Migration is calling on Journalists to enter the inaugural West and Central Africa Migration Journalism Award 2021.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
Dakar, 15 September 2021: The first edition of the West and Central Africa Migration Journalism Award is now open for entries from journalists who have brought attention to the many facets of migration in West and Central Africa.
Hosted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), entries are now open for free from today, 15 September, until 15 October 2021. Entries, in English or French, can be submitted to reportingmigration.org. The Award will recognise eight winners with rewards of up to USD 1,250 each in prize money. The winning Journalists will also receive a plaque of recognition and will be invited to a virtual Award ceremony that will be broadcast on IOM’s social media platforms. The winning submissions may be republished on a media partner’s platform.
Aimed at fostering quality reporting on migration, the Award is set to recognise outstanding stories from the region that shed light on migration from various perspectives, including safe migration, migration and climate change, and returning migrant reintegration. It will also focus on environmental migration and irregular migration, and work that debunks false and discriminatory narratives about migration and promotes balanced, evidence-based reporting.
Christopher Gascon, IOM Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said the competition aimed to celebrate journalists who shone a light on migration and its impact.
“Migration issues are multidimensional and are often subject to misunderstanding. The support of journalists is the best way to unpack these complexities and give a clear understanding of all sides of the dynamics of migration. Effective reporting on migration ensures that people are presented with a more complete view of these issues which can provide a true understanding. We look to migration stories being reported in a balanced way to help ensure that migrants can make informed decisions and that the public at large receive objective information.”
Those journalists who can enter the Award should be nationals of Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone or Togo.
The competition is open for journalists who cover migration and irregular migration; alternatives to irregular migration; stories of migrant reintegration; awareness raising about migration and migration in the context of disasters, climate change and environmental degradation.
The journalistic works entered must have been published on radio or television, or in traditional media or digital platforms, between 1 September 2020, and 31 August 2021. Articles should not exceed 5,000 characters while video or audio/radio reports should not exceed three minutes. Only entries in which the applicant is the primary author or the co-author of the submitted piece will be accepted.
Requirements for entries include:
- Must meet journalistic principles and basic requirements, strictly adhering to professional ethics and standards.
- Mustbe an original body of work without alterations.
- Must bepreviously published. Submitted entries that have not been previously published will immediately be disqualified without notice.
The winning submissions will be selected by a jury made up of IOM, media and specialists from the four thematic areas:
1) Migration, Environment and Climate Change
3) Awareness raising about irregular migration
4) Alternatives to irregular migration
For more information, terms and conditions, and rules of entry please visit: https://reportingmigration.org/en/migration-journalism-award
For more information, please contact Alpha Seydi BA from the Regional Communications and Media Unit, at email@example.com, +221 77 345 74 54.
South Sudan receives 152,000 doses of J&J COVID-19 vaccines.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan has received a first consignment of 152,950 does of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccines donated by the United States of America.
The single dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines, arrived on Tuesday are the third batch of vaccine shipments to South Sudan through the COVAX Facility, a global partnership established to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.
The vaccines compliments efforts in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in the country.
Minister of health, Elizabeth Achuei, commended the US government for the generous support to fight the pandemic.
She further stressed the need for more civic education for effective uptake of the vaccine
“Thanks to the United States government, the vaccines will ramp up the ongoing COVID-19 vaccination programme to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 18 years of age and older,” said Achuei in Juba.
“The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is the second vaccine in South Sudan’s programme, while the double-dose AstraZeneca vaccines have already been administered in the country.”
Speaking at the same event, Charge’ De Affairs of the US Embassy to South Sudan, David Renz, said the vaccines have arrived on time to rescue communities across South Sudan.
Renz said the donation of the vaccines will strengthens the relationship between the people of the United States and South Sudan and comes at a critical time in South Sudan’s efforts against COVID-19.
“This donation, coordinated with key international partners, including Gavi, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization, underscores our collective resolve in responding to the global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Renz said in an emailed statement in Juba
The first batch of Astra Zeneca vaccines were shipped through the COVAX facility to South Sudan on 25 March 2021 and the second batch of 59,520 Astra Zeneca vaccines donated by France arrived on 31 August 2021.
Roll out of this new consignment is expected to start within the next two weeks.
A donation from Sweden is also slated for arrival soon.
Latest update on Tuesday, Ministry of Health has reported confirmed 37 new COVID-19 cases and one death case.
The number of cumulative cases had hit 11, 755 in the East Africa’s youngest nation, as of Tuesday as a total of 11,195 had recovered and 121 cumulative death cases.
Vincent Aboubakar Strikes to fire Al Nassr into Asian Champions League quarter-finals
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Indomitable Lions striker Vincent Aboubakar scored the lone goal for his side Al Nassr to send the team into the quarter-finals of the Asian Champions League.
It took just 12mins for Vincent Aboubakar to find the net as his team defeated the Islamic Republic of Iran’s Tractors Sports Club 1-0 at the Khalifa International Stadium with Aboubakar also picking up the man of the match award.
The Cameroonian played the entire minutes of the game in a dominant showing of their might against Tractors.
Vincent Aboubakar missed the first big chance of the game at the 10 minute mark, when Uzbek winger Jaloliddin Masharipov went down on the left flank, with teammate Abdulfattah Asiri picking the loose ball up and playing the Cameroonian forward in, only for him to spurn his chance from inside the area.
Aboubakar will make amends a few minutes later and opened the scoring for the Riyadh-based side as well as scoring his first goal in Asian football with a beautifully constructed counter-attacks, which was concluded by a threaded pass from Anderson Talisca to the former FC Porto player who expertly chipped the keeper from close range to make it 1-0.
It has been an outstanding few weeks for Aboubakar who was with his national side for the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers. Aboubakar scored one of the two goals as Cameroon defeated Malawi 2-0 in the first qualifiers. Unfortunately, the spark that he showed in the game against Malawi was not there as Ivory Coast dispatched Cameroon 2-1.
The Saudi Pro League side joins fellow Riyadh side Al Hilal SFC, Islamic Republic of Iran’s Persepolis FC and Al Wahda FSC in the West zone’s quarter-finals with the draw to be held on Friday.
Mozambique:Former transport minister jailed for 10 years over Embraer corruption
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
Former transport minister Paulo Zucula has been sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment for money laundering in connection with payments made by Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer, which the company admits helped it secure sales to state-owned airline LAM.
Another defendant, businessman Mateus Zimba, was also sentenced to 10 years in jail. A third defendant, the then LAM chairman Jose Viegas, was freed, as the statute of limitations for his charge had expired.
Zucula and Zimba, who are expected to remain at liberty while they appeal the verdict, were also fined MZN70m ($1.1m) each.
According to Embraer, Zimba acted as a consultant on a deal in May 2008 to sell two aircraft to LAM for $32m each. Zimba asked Embraer for “a ‘gesture’ when delivering the first plane,” Embraer said. Embraer offered Zimba $50,000 per plane, but Zimba insisted on $800,000, suggesting they raise the price charged to LAM to cover the cost.
In September 2008, LAM signed an agreement to buy two planes for $32.7 million each, more than the $32m originally suggested by Embraer. Following the delivery of each aircraft, a company set up by Zimba submitted two invoices to Embraer for $400,000 each, which were paid in 2009. Zimba went on to share the money with Zucula.
Africa Trade Conference (ATC) 2021 to kick off in Nairobi in November.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
This year’s Africa Trade Conference will occur in Nairobi, Kenya, virtually from November 11-12, 2021.
It is an annual conference that seeks to play an important role in facilitating dialogue, networking, advancing knowledge and information about Trade in Africa and Trade with Africa.
Under the theme “Empowering Africans to participate in Intra Africa Trade and Global Trade post COVID-19”, the conference’s ultimate goal is Trade and Investments by Africans that enables Africa Economic Development.
It has been organized by Regal Africa, an organization that focuses on assisting people to “Create Wealth” through trade and investment.
Regal Africa also focuses on Transforming Families by enabling them to create generational wealth, Transforming Communities through family businesses, and Impacting Nations through participation in international trade.
The participants from African countries, the African Diaspora, the Global Business community, and Global Trade experts are expected to grace the event.
The conference will be structured into four sessions: the “Trade in Africa” Session to be held on 11th November from 9:00 am EAT, and the discussion will be on Intra Africa Trade.
“Trade with Africa” Session will be held on 11th November from 2:00 pm EAT. Panelists and attendees will deliberate on Global Trade.
“Digital Trade” Session will be held on 12th November from 9:00 am EAT, and digital trade opportunities and solutions for corporates and MSMEs in Africa will be the topics of discussion.
The last session is the “Africa Trade Exhibition” that will be held on 12th November from 2:00 pm EAT. During this session, African brands and companies that do business in Africa will be showcased.
Kenya to host the Africa Digital Finance Summit 2022.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Next year, Kenya will host the second annual Africa Digital Finance Summit (ADFS) from February 22 to February 24, 2022.
The three-day event under the theme “The Future of Finance in Africa; our pathway to financial freedom” will see experts from various fields converge in the Eastern African country deliberate and forge a pathway towards the future of finance in Africa.
Participants will be government officials, central banks throughout Africa, exceptional executives representing Fintech global operators, startups, professionals, and decision-makers worldwide in the financial, economic, technological, fintech industry, and blockchain.
The summit aims to position Africa as the continent where innovative solutions in digital and decentralized finance will be found and implemented successfully.
Some of the topics to be discussed during the summit include understanding blockchain technologies and cryptocurrencies, Implementation of Defi in Africa, Policies governing disruption in finance, Introduction of central bank digital currencies in Africa and the introduction of NFTs for art. The ADFS 2021 will also be represented and released to the public.
Mary Njoki, Organizer and CEO of Glass House PR, said, “The Africa Digital Finance Summit 2022 (ADFS) will provide Africa with an opportunity to leapfrog the mistakes of the West by reimagining entire systems of production, financial services, and governance fueled by financial innovations & blockchain technologies thus positioning herself as the continent where solutions in Finance will be implemented successfully.”
Also to take place during the summit is an award ceremony. The Africa digital finance summit awards recognizing various players in the African Digital and Decentralized Finance industry to champion for and encourage new innovations and celebrate the startups/ companies that have contributed to the industry’s growth in Africa.
Rwandan refugees in Mozambique “terrified” after businessman killed
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
All Rwandan refugees living in Mozambique are “terrified” after the recent killing of Rwandan businessman Revocat Karemangingo, the president of the Association of Rwandan Refugees in Mozambique has said.
Karemangingo was shot dead while returning by car to his home from his warehouse, according to the police.
Cleophas Habiyareme, the association’s president, said that Karemangingo had been targeted by the Rwandan government since an assassination attempt on him in 2016. There was an idea that he financed groups opposed to the Rwandan government, Habiyareme added.
“Since the Rwandan force in Cabo Delgado [province] arrived, we’ve been living in a situation of insecurity,” Cleophas Habiyareme said. “We were expecting this to happen at any moment.”
Karemangingo had been prominent in calling for fellow Rwandan political exile Cassien Ntamuhanga to be released. Ntamuhanga was abducted in Maputo in May, apparently by police, and has not been heard of since. The Mozambican police deny knowledge of the case.
This is the third incident this year involving Rwandan refugees in Mozambique, after the abduction of Ntamuhanga in, and an attempt to kill the association’s secretary and his brother less than a month ago.
“The Mozambican state will not accept that this situation continues”, Habiyareme said, expressing confidence that Mozambique would protect Rwandan refugees.
However, he added that he was “completely down” and that Rwandans would continue to flee if they could not be protected there.
Kenyan ex-sports minister to be sentenced tomorrow for graft scandal.
September 17, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya’s anti-corruption court today found the former sports minister Hassan Wario guilty of embezzlement of public funds and abuse of office over the Rio 2016 Olympic Games financial scandal.
The court’s Magistrate Elizabeth Juma on Wednesday said that it has sufficient evidence linking Wario and ex-National Olympic Committee of Kenya (Nock) official Stephen Soi to the loss of ksh88.6 million ($886000) during the global event.
Their co-accused, former Principal Secretary Richard Ekai, Haron Komen, Francis Paul and Patrick Kimathi Nkabu were acquitted by the court due to the lack of evidence.
While convicting Wario, the Magistrate said he took advantage of his position and added three people in the list of Team Kenya and had them paid allowances yet he had no mandate to do so.
“The additional names were included after they closed the accreditation. Clearly this was an indicator that the three were not part of the team Kenya,”ruled the court.
However, the Nairobi-based court acquitted the ex-minister from the count of engaging in a project without a prior planning as there was no evidence.
The two are detained at Gigiri Police Post pending sentencing tomorrow.
Empowering Africa’s Youth: The Launching of the African Energy Chamber’s Energy Pioneers Program
September 16, 2021 | 0 Comments
The AEC is taking hands with it’s members, partners and affiliates to support and encourage our youth in their professional development.
By Leon van der Merwe*
The leap from University to the working environment can be somewhat intimidating. The purpose of Academia is not to prepare you with all the skills needed to effectively and efficiently contribute at the workplace. It is, in my view, to assist scholastically in executing practical challenges in your specific profession.
As a lawyer and part time lecturer, it is my submission that the lack of practical challenges or modules formulated to demonstration “real-world” scenarios are of concern. Time and time again, I have seen how final year students struggle when I task them with practical case studies.
I am not ashamed to admit that the first year or two of commencing employment, it felt like my degree was of no use or purpose! Learning the academics of Law and practicing it are poles apart. What you read about in your academic literature as student suddenly becomes real life situations, loaded with emotions and perils. I was not mentally prepared for the reality of defending a rapist, custody battles or liquidating a 100-year-old family business.
Other skills needed to be a top tier lawyer, engineer, energy expert and many alike, includes administrative, time management, people management, business development and people development skills to name but a few. A lot of these ingredients required, do not form part of your training at University.
Yes, experience comes with practice, but I do believe organisations can do more to reveal to students the actual operations in a specific sector. Specifically, the vast opportunities in the energy sector. Some form of prior practical experience is essential, not only for your personal and professional development, but also to determine if this is a profession and/or an industry you want to dedicate your life to.
I strongly believe that some form of internship programme would have benefited me tremendously. It would have greatly contributed in not only advancing but preparing me for the real-world.
With that said, the African Energy Chamber clearly understand the need and value of internship programmes. They do not only invest in young African professionals but play a crucial role in adding much needed elements in preparing the youth to be the leaders of the future.
It goes without saying that we all have different ambitions and goals in life. My concern is that the so called “big” companies frequently overlook potential interns and candidates who couldn’t afford to obtain their degrees at top ranked international universities. This internship programme will assure that all candidates with the desired qualification will be considered, irrespective of where they obtained their degrees.
The AEC is taking hands with their members, partners and affiliates to support and encourage our youth in their professional development. This is an opportunity that potential candidates must grasp with both hands, as I know I would have.
*African Energy Chamber.Leon van der Merwe is EPP Coordinator
Successful Conferences in Angola, Nigeria, South Sudan, and South Africa Demonstrate that Africa is not Closed for Business.
September 16, 2021 | 0 Comments
With the first day of the SAOGA-hosted Southern Africa Oil & Gas Exploration conference underway, the African Energy Chamber is reiterating that any discussion on Africa’s energy future must take place in Africa.
The Southern African Oil & Gas Alliance (SAOGA), and the Petroleum Agency of South Africa (PASA) are hosting the Southern Africa Oil & Gas Exploration conference on the 15th & 16th of September in Cape Town, South Africa. SAOGA and PASA’s success in doing this challenges the ongoing anti-African dialogue by Africa Oil Week (AOW) in Dubai that the continent is incapable of hosting events in a post-COVID-19 context.
Oil and gas conferences such as SAOGA’s – hosted in partnership with the PASA- provide a collaborative platform for discussions on upstream oil and gas opportunities in southern Africa. The African Energy Chamber (AEC) not only supports this important event, but will maintain its momentum at African Energy Week (AEW) 2021, extending the African narrative and further emphasizing the value of African-hosted discussions.
Meanwhile, SAOGA’s conference is not the only successful energy event to take place in Africa this year. African-focused conferences hosted in Nigeria, Angola – whereby the national oil company announced its transformative plans for the oil and gas industry -, South Sudan and South Africa all demonstrate that Africa is ready and open for business. With planned events taking place in Senegal and Libya during Q4 of 2021, stakeholders are not only challenging, but abolishing the false narrative that African events cannot take place on the continent.
“It is wrong to say that energy events cannot take place in Africa. AOW in Dubai and the Hyve group have spent a big part of 2021 building an anti-African narrative, promoting that no conference can take place in Africa in 2021. At the Chamber, and in collaboration with SAOGA, we are showing that any discussion on Africa’s energy future can and must take place in Africa. Simply looking at how many conferences are taking place on the continent disrupts the naïve false narrative about Africa. In my country Angola, we just hosted a massively successful Oil and Gas conference in which Sonangol announced major changes and we will see a lot of Oil and Gas industry players in Cape Town in November,” stated Sergio Pugliese, former BP and Equinor Exec and President of AEC Angola.
With South Africa making significant progress regarding its vaccination rollout, the country is open for business and needs large-scale energy events such as SAOGA’s and AEW 2021 to drive an economic recovery. The country is seeing the reopening of a range of conferences and events across multiple sectors, all contributing to the continent’s economic future. Dedicated to Africa, AEW 2021 has invited the entire African energy industry to Cape Town, with the Ministers and industry executives all committing to the Cape Town hosted event. AEW 2021 will drive a strong discussion on the future of the African energy industry, and has placed Africa at the forefront of the events agenda.
“AEW 2021 is happening in Cape Town in November. With South Africa reopening the economy, driving successful vaccination rollouts, and reducing gathering restrictions, the country is ready for large-scale energy conferences. It is a shame that some organizations are willing to desert Africa to make a few dollars in Dubai when Africa has been good to them. In addition to this, it is a shame that AOW in Dubai have resorted to misrepresentations, stating that African Ministers are going to Dubai, when in fact, they are coming to Cape Town. They have no written confirmations to that and are misleading the industry. AEW 2021 is not going anywhere. The conference will be in Cape Town every year, driving a strong African Oil and Gas and Energy Industry narrative, giving many Africans and energy investors a voice, pushing for major deal signings, advocating for a just transition, demanding governments to support the oil and gas sector, and making major steps to make energy poverty history by 2030,” continued Pugliese.
By taking place in Cape Town on the 9th-12th of November, AEW 2021 unites African stakeholders, global financiers, and industry leaders to its interactive conference and networking event. AEW 2021 will remain committed to Africa, and considers the 2021 event only the start of a string of successful energy events in years to come.
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COVID Compliance and Mitigation: African Energy Week 2021 in Cape Town Implements Measures to Ensure the Health and Safety of all Attendees
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
Working closely with the government, venues and global health organizations, African Energy Week has prioritized the health and safety of all staff and delegates.
With Africa’s vaccination drive progressing rapidly, and as COVID-19 regulations begin to gradually ease, South Africa is ready to welcome regional and international delegates to the highly anticipated African Energy Week (AEW) 2021, which takes place in Cape Town on the 9th-12th of November. The event is paving the way for new forms of adapted large-scale events by implementing revolutionary measures that not only ensure the safety of delegates, but actually enable increased audience participation. In light of this, AEW 2021 has placed COVID-19 and the safety of attendees as a key focus, and through a strategic design, strict and consistent event monitoring, and partnerships with global health organizations, the event will be transformative for Africa.
Complying with COVID-19 regulations, AEW 2021 has taken on a hybrid format in a bid to drive attendance while complying with social distancing and gathering restrictions. The event will utilize both in-person and online options, enabling increased international participation while reducing gatherings. Before delegates arrive at the conference, they will be requested to pre-register online, reducing the possibility of crowding. Upon arrival, through the utilization of the Health Passport Worldwide – an AEW 2021 partner – delegates will be directed towards the COVID testing tent whereby strict social distancing and mask wearing protocols will be in place. Thereafter, upon receiving a negative test, delegates can walk to the conference venue of their choosing.
What is unique about AEW 2021 is that delegates will not only be able to use online forums to attend events, but will be able to see whether or not venues are at capacity using the event microsite. The AEW 2021 microsite will mitigate social distancing challenges, while enabling an increased choice regarding functions. Accordingly, AEW 2021 is focused on implementing the right protocols to ensure a safe and socially distanced event. The AEW 2021 microsite will provide a detailed map of the venues and V&A precinct, with delegates being able to take a walk down the AEW Walkway – starting from the One&Only Hotel, passing through the Avenue, Exhibition Marquees and Workshop venues and ending at the Zeitz MOCAA. In addition to other modes of transport such as the Red City Bus and Water Taxi, the AEW Walkway directly links conference venues while ensuring ease of movement for delegates.
Representing Africa’s premier energy event, AEW 2021 is expected to host between 400 and 600 VIP delegates in November – including Ministers from Nigeria, Ghana, Niger, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, Angola, Senegal, Equatorial Guinea, the Republic of Congo, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, and Namibia, as well as the OPEC, GECF and APPO Secretary Generals. In ensuring all COVID-19 social distancing and venue capacity regulations are adhered to, AEW 2021 has introduced the crafted African Energy Village concept, thus enabling substantial audience participation while complying with COVID-19 regulations and venue size protocols. Additionally, AEW 2021 will provide meeting venues that will be used for VIP meetings, deal signing and engagement with key stakeholders. By splitting delegates across multiple venues, and providing a myriad of functions within one conference, AEW 2021 has placed COVID-19 mitigation at the center of the event.
“AEW 2021 will require all delegates to wear a face mask (KN95 or equivalent) to be worn over mouth and nose, both indoors and outdoors and at all times. The event will provide sanitization facilities which will be available at every point of the event, with strategic COVID regulations advertised, and social distancing enforced at all times. To enforce these regulations, AEW 2021 has designated COVID marshals, responsible for ensuring all protocols are adhered to by all delegates. These marshals will be placed across the entire V&A precinct and will be strictly monitoring the event. We have partnered with Health Passport Worldwide for the rapid testing of all delegates each day of the event and have organized for the sanitization of all venues, equipment and public areas between each use and at the end and beginning of each day,” stated Katie Briant, Operations and Event Director for AEW 2021.
Meanwhile, South Africa’s vaccination program has been progressing faster than initially projected with government having moved to the next vaccination age group over a week earlier than initially expected. The Western Cape specifically has been pushing a strong, mass vaccination process, driven by the area’s appeal as a tourist destination and the move to reopen the economy to international travelers. AEW 2021 applauds the Western Cape Government on its efforts and speed, and will offer a discount to delegates who are vaccinated, therefore, working hand in hand with local authorities to ensure safety. What’s more, with the country gradually opening to international tourists with the resumption in flights by global airlines such as Ethiopian Airlines and Emirates, large-scale events have opted to take place in South Africa in 2021. In addition to AEW 2021 in Cape Town, Durban is set to host the Intra-African Trade Fair in November, reaffirming the value and capability of African venue destinations.
“Events such as AEW 2021 are important to attracting tourists, driving investment, and supporting economic recovery in the Western Cape. By utilizing a multi-platform, hybrid approach, and implementing ample and strict COVID-19 measures across the event’s locations, AEW 2021 and its organizers are leading the way in business conferencing and showcasing the fact that we are ready to welcome business travelers back to the City of Cape Town and the Western Cape,” stated David Maynier, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities.
“AEW 2021 and the African Energy Chamber are committed to ensuring the safety of our delegates. We do not take COVID-19 lightly and are going above and beyond to ensure all regulations are adhered to, and all attendees are safe and healthy during the entire event. We are working closely with government and are adapting the function accordingly. We have introduced pre-registration options for delegates, provided daily tests and limited capacity at each venue. Despite AEW 2021 comprising a large-scale event, the separation and limited capacity of venues ensures each function is COVID-19 compliant,” continued Briant.
For more information regarding health and safety and the various measures being undertaken to ensure COVID-19 regulations are complied with, visit https://aew2021.com/covid-guidelines/. For information about AEW 2021 visit www.aew2021.com or energychamber.org and/or email Amina Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org
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ReconAfrica Delegation to Attend African Energy Week in Cape Town – Committed to Promoting Namibian Frontier Exploration.
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
Leading a ReconAfrica delegation including Senior Vice-President Communications and Stakeholder Relations to Cape Town in November, CEO Scot Evans is committed to promoting Namibia’s upstream potential and women in leadership.
Scot Evans, CEO of Reconnaissance Energy Africa (ReconAfrica), has confirmed his attendance and participation at African Energy Week (AEW) taking place in Cape Town on the 9th-12th of November. Both Evans and Diana McQueen, Senior Vice-President Communications and Stakeholder Relations, will come to Cape Town, not only to lead a discussion on Namibia’s hydrocarbon potential, but also to host a Women in Leadership Brunch at Africa’s premier energy event.
ReconAfrica is a Canadian oil and gas company focused on hydrocarbon exploration and development in Namibia and Botswana. The company has a 90% interest in a petroleum exploration license in NE Namibia, covering the entire Kavango sedimentary basin, as well as a 100% interest in petroleum exploration rights in NW Botswana over the entire Kavango basin in the country. In collaboration with the government, ReconAfrica is committed to exploring the oil and gas potential in the Kavango Basin, with the company currently acquiring high-resolution aeromagnetic surveys of the license area, as well as detailed analysis of the resulting data.
With over 11 billion barrels of oil and 2.2 trillion cubic feet of proven natural gas reserves in Namibia, international oil companies have been focused on exploiting the country’s significant hydrocarbon potential. Notably, ReconAfrica has made impressive progress in a short space of time regarding exploration, particularly in Namibia. The company is drilling three conventional exploratory stratigraphic wells, intended to provide a complete picture of the geological formation. In April 2021, ReconAfrica announced preliminary results from the first well, with the discovery of a working petroleum system in the Kavango Basin. Thereafter, in June 2021, drilling of the second well correspondingly showed similar characteristics to that of the first, with clear evidence of a working conventional petroleum system.
With the complete evaluation of the first well drilled in the Kavango Basin, the complete drilling of wells three and four, 450km conducted of 2D seismic data, and the introduction of joint venture negotiations expected by the end of 2021, ReconAfrica is positioning itself as a leading Namibian hydrocarbons explorer and producer. At AEW 2021 in Cape Town, ReconAfrica will promote its exploratory success in the Kavango basin, emphasize future plans and commitments, and further position itself as the preferred developer in the prospect.
“ReconAfrica represents the future of independent energy explorers in Africa that will play a significant role in meeting Namibia, Africa and the world’s energy needs through the safe, efficient and sustainable production of hydrocarbons. With a dedicated world class team, backed by technology, they stand to produce hydrocarbons in Namibia while taking action to reduce emissions and aligning with the global ambitions of Net Zero carbon that are growing ever more important,” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.
Meanwhile, ReconAfrica will host a Women in Leadership networking brunch at AEW 2021 in Cape Town, whereby the company aims to promote the role of women and emphasize the value of women in leadership positions. Geared towards having a conversation on women in leadership, and creating the ideal engagement platform for an enhanced discussion, ReconAfrica is committed to AEW 2021’s broader agenda of placing women at the forefront of Africa’s energy future.
“We are even more pleased that ReconAfrica will host this years’ women in leadership brunch, emphasizing how gender equality and inclusivity in leadership positions will help drive Africa’s energy development. Their approach in driving meaningful dialogue through their on the ground actions in Namibia and developing respectful local relationships and partnerships can only help Namibia and Africa’s energy sector see mutual benefits and a strong shared future for so many that are seeking empowerment,” concluded Ayuk.
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Kenya launches September Amnesty Month for surrendering of illicit arms.
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya’s Interior Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Fred Matiang’i, on Tuesday, September 14, 2021, unveiled the September Amnesty Month for the surrender of illicit arms.
The exercise will be coordinated by the National Police Service and Regional County Commissioners in line with the African Union roadmap.
The roadmap prepared in 2016 aims to help regions and states to achieve the goal of silencing guns in Africa.
Dr. Matiang’i asked the public to use the amnesty period to return the illegal arms.
“Members of the public have an obligation to cooperate with security agencies in the course of this nationwide activity. This is the only way we can end the trend of some of the ravages that such arms have visited some parts of our country,” said Matiang’i.
Three months ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta set ablaze 5144 illegal weapons collected during amnesty month in 2020.
Some were confiscated by security offers, while others were voluntarily surrendered to agencies collecting illegal arms and light weapons.
“By publicly destroying illicit weapons, Kenya once again openly demonstrates that we are determined and ready to face the challenges posed by small arms and light weapons,” said President Kenyatta on June 9, 2021.
Kenya’s two airports win global awards for excellent customer service.
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Moi International Airport (MIA) bagged the best airports by size and region awards.
JKIA won the 2020 Best Airport by Size and Region in the 5 – 15 million passengers per year category, while MIA won the 2020 Best Airport by Size and Region in the under 2 million passengers per year category.
This is based on the results of ACI’s Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Survey. The survey captures passengers’ experience at all airport passenger contact points and attracts the participation of more than 300 airports worldwide.
Kenya Airports Authority Managing Director Alex Gitari received the awards at a ceremony held at the just concluded 3rd Airports Council International (ACI) Customer Experience Global Summit held in Montreal, Canada.
The ACI Customer Experience Global Summit is the leading platform for airports worldwide to share their experiences, best practices, and lessons learned, address challenges and trends, and build on the foundations of a successful airport community.
Kenyan Government to deworm 4 million children this week.
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
The government of Kenya has rolled out a deworming campaign targeting four million children aged 2-14 years in 14 counties.
The three-day event, a joint initiative of the Ministry of Education and Health, runs from today to Thursday, September 16, 2021.
According to the Ministry of Education, Worm infections, if left untreated, interfere with nutrient intake and can lead to anemia, malnourishment, and impaired mental and physical development.
In March 2021, the National School-Based Deworming Program (NSBD) dewormed 2.6 million across seven counties in Western Kenya.
NSBD every year treats at least 6 million children within the 2-14 age bracket in areas at risk of worm infection.
A study conducted by the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) in 2012 and 2018 showed that the program had been highly effective in reducing worm infections, with the prevalence of Soil-Transmitted Helminths (STH) decreasing by 62 percent among children sampled.
The 14 counties are Taita Taveta, Kwale, Mombasa, Kilifi, Tana River, Lamu, Homa Bay, Kisumu, Siaya, Busia, Migori, Kisii, Nyamira and Narok.
Cameroon: Separatist Fighters Conflicted over Fifteen Days Lockdown
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Boris E.N
Separatist fighters in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon who have been fighting for autonomy for the last four years are in disagreement over a supposedly fifteen (15) days lockdown across the Anglophone Regions.
In audios circulating on social media, and heard by this reporter, the fighters are counteracting each other and accusing one another of trying to go against the “lockdowns.”
The supposedly fifteen days lockdown across the North West and South West Regions was purportedly made by the Ground Zero spokesperson and it is to start on September 15 to end on October 2. Just a day after October 1; a day when the fighters claim it is their independence day from “French Cameroun” or “La Republic.”
Two camps have sprung up with one supporting the call for the lockdown while another is completely against it. General Sagad, Colonel Shogi, and GrandPa, all of Fako and one General from Meme (Joker) are all reportedly opposed to the lockdown calls while Field Marshal from Lebialem and others are in support of it.
In audio on September 12, one of Generals Gabonese said there will not be any lockdown inside “Ambazonia” territory for now. “If that will be, we will still come on air and make our people know. But for now, we do not have any lockdown…,” He said, though this reporter could not ascertain his full identity.
He went further to state: “The population should carry out their activities without any fear of anybody. We are out to protect you people and your property and we are out to stand for the people…”
In another audio reportedly to be from Field Marshal, presents a different message. He went further to reiterate that the fifteen days lockdown that has been imposed stays and the dates have been maintained.
“The lockdown starts on September 15 and nothing will change for that. Everyone should stand their ground and nothing will change,” Field Marshal said in the audio heard by this reporter. The veracity of the audios cannot, however, be confirmed independently.
Lockdowns biting Anglophones and not “La Republic”
The outright goal of the separatist fighters is to make sure that things do not function in the English-speaking Regions to make “Yaounde” sit up and take action. But for the past years that lockdowns have been in place, one thing is clear, the local inhabitants in the North West and South West Regions are the ones suffering while things in other parts of the country go on unperturbed.
Move across the North West and South West Regions and the other parts of the country like Littoral and Centre Regions and you will see a completely different picture; it is like night and day especially on the so-called “ghost town” days.
The hustle and buzzing are the other of day in the other Region and inhabitants go about their daily activity trying to put food on their table. Cars, businesses and nightclubs are opened every hour of the day with no signs of any problem.
That is a stark difference from the case witness in the North West and South West Regions where most businesses are almost completely shut down. Shops and businesses are closed with the businesses person fearing reprisals from the fighters. The economy of the Region that was on the upward trajectory has been battered and in other Regions is completely broken.
WFP says to cut food aid to South Sudan over funding crunch
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – The World Food Program (WFP) warned that it will suspend food assistance for more than 100,000 displaced people in parts of South Sudan for three months from October due to funding shortages this year.
The UN food agency said while generous contributions from donors have enabled WFP to reach millions in need with lifesaving assistance, many vulnerable people living in crisis areas continue to suffer from the highest levels of food insecurity and cannot survive without sustained food assistance.
Over 106,000 people displaced in camps in Wau, Juba and Bor South will not receive monthly food rations due to funding crunch for the next three months and until the new year, according to the WFP.
The agency further said it will resume its monthly food assistance for internally displaced people in those camps from January to September 2022.
“Drastic times call for drastic measures. We are forced to take these painful decisions and stretch our limited resources to meet the critical needs of people who were on the brink of starvation and now risk slipping back into catastrophe if their access to food diminishes,” said Matthew Hollingworth, Representative and Country Director of WFP in South Sudan, in the press statement issued in Juba on Monday.
He said the UN food agency requires an additional 154 million U.S. dollars to provide food assistance in sufficient quantities.
“If funding levels continue to drop, we may have no choice but to make further cuts as the needs of vulnerable communities continue to outpace available resources,” said Hollingworth.
The WFP representative said the three-month suspension is part of a broader reduction in food assistance that the WFP announced in April across all camps that affects 700,000 refugees and internally displaced people who now receive half the caloric contents of a WFP food ration.
Food insecurity in South Sudan has increased in the last few years and now affects more than 60 percent of the country’s population, according to the UN.
This situation was blighted by the current conflict and climate change (floods) in the restive country.
The revitalized peace agreement signed by the warring parties September 2018 has marked the three years without unified forces, not ending the 2013 political conflict which has killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million people from their homes, before ruined the economy in the East Africa’s youngest nation.
Impact of COVID-19 on food security: the plight of Ghanaian female farmers.
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jessica Ahedor
Women contribute about 70% of Ghana’s agricultural production, marketing and processing, yet they face diverse challenges. With the ongoing pandemic affecting every sphere of life, the woes of women in agriculture are deepening in addition to the existing challenges.
In Ghana, gender inequalities in agricultural work exist in land possession, access to seedlings, modern inputs, seeds, training and education, financial and extension services, and more. These discrepancies hinder the productivity and earnings of Ghanaian women in agriculture.
Available literature by the Ghana statistical service shows that during the 1st and 2nd waves of the pandemic, 2 out of every 100 persons in Ghana as of June 2020 were either severely or moderately food insecure. These people are aged between 15 years and older, and are forced to reduce the number of meals taken in a day due to scarcity of food and money. The report also indicated that 1 out of every 10 people suffers severe food insecurity in households across the country.
“Some 47.7% of the population in Ghana as of June 2020 was affected by moderate or severe food insecurity. This corresponds to individuals living in households where at least one individual aged 15 or more was very likely forced, at times during the 30-day lockdown period, to reduce the quality of their diet, due to lack of money or other resources. This figure includes 9.5% estimated to be affected by severe food insecurity”.
Although there were regional disparities of food insecurity, the biggest decline in access to food in estimated food insecurity was observed in Northern Region, one of the largest staple foods producers of the country.
Farmer group, Agrisolve Ghana, with a women workforce of about 10,000 in production, processing and marketing of maize and soya beans across the five Northern regions, says the impact of the pandemic is so evidenced in this year’s farming season. As a result, there is decline in production mainly due to difficulties in accessing finance from institutions as they are skeptical about financing agribusiness as a result of the pandemic.
According to an Agrisolve Ghana official, “Access to credit is critical to every sector, and so as it is for agribusinesses. So with COVID affecting everything financial firms are reluctant in funding for our activities. This year, things are really tough for us”
Additionally, the astronomical increment in prices of farm inputs – fertilizer and pesticides, among others, tripled causing hikes in production costs, the official said.
Elorm Goh, Executive Director of Agrisolve, said not only did the pandemic affect production but transportation and hauling of the produce to various markets was badly affected thereby pushing demand for food items.
“We rely mostly on trucks from Burkina-Faso to transport the goods from the North to the South, but the restriction, and closure of the borders is affecting the movement of trucks from the North to the South. The bad nature of the roads in the North is affecting transportation of the wares to the various markets in the South,” Goh said.
“We at Agrisolve produce about 10,000 metric tons of maize annually but if we produce this much and we don’t have the means of storage, couple with the challenge of bad roads when transporting it to the markets it has a direct bearing on food prices,” she stated.
Ghana imports 98 per cent of her farm inputs, hence during the pandemic when COVID restrictions were in full force (and as is still the case in some countries), demand for inputs went higher reflecting on prices in the markets.
Kojo Queyson is a middle man who owns and retails fertilizer and agro-chemicals at Assin Fosu a suburb of Central Region. He said the 25 kilos fertilizer cost 53 cedis last year with government subsidy but that this year, there is no subsidy from government due to non-payment and liquidity issues. As a result, open-market sales stand at 192 cedis while retail price stand at 110 cedis.
Clearly, there is an increment of 100 percent in fertilizer price in less than 12 month and this is having dire consequence on food prices in general, he maintained.
Adjoa Arhin, a farmer at Abura – Aseibu, says aside the climate change issues, the pandemic affected the timely provision of farm inputs and the seeds to farmers. “Because government’s interventions of farm inputs delays, we could not plant within the stipulated time to get the right results. Food prices had gone up this year and there is no money to buy them as well,” Arhin explained.
Ernest Teye of the department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Cape Coast, says the pandemic has and is continually hitting hard on many smallholder farmers who are mostly women because storage as part a food chain channel has been affected resulting in panic buying.
“Storage facility as a part of the food chain has been challenged and for many decades nothing is being done about it. The result is the post -harvest loses we see annually. There is no means to haul proceeds and we are not doing processing as we ought to. So, during the restriction there was panic buying for the little available food items shoring up prices,” Teye laments.
In our part of the world, we have little regards for research, talk less of implementing its findings. Even though we saw an opportunity as well as a limitation, many Ghanaians could not take advantage of it,” he bemoaned.
This suggests that locally made dried foods like cassava floor, flakes and other food items can be preserved with the available sunlight for emergency situation so as not to hit the food insecurity threshold.n
Being D deficient in abundance of sunlight – the fate of Africans
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jessica Ahedor
Africa is known to be one of the continents that bask in a chunk of the world’s sunshine annually. This, experts say, is because most African countries are located on the equator where sunlight abounds. However, factors like lifestyle, culture, diet, skin pigmentation, variation in the ozone layer and geographical area, influence the full utilization of vitamin D among its populations on the continent.
Also known as “sunshine” vitamin, Vitamin D is a steroid hormone that is essential for the normal functioning of the body including the intestine, skin, bone, parathyroid glands, immune system, pancreas, and even the healthy growth of a developing fetus. It is produced through skin exposure to sunlight and also from diets which are enriched with Vitamin D, like sea fatty fish or egg yolk.
But according to experts, Vitamin D status is gained mostly by exposure of the skin to sunlight for 10 -15 minutes, twice a week than from dietary intake of vitamin D sources. This is because food sources are limited, particularly when the food supply is not fortified with vitamin D.
However, vitamin D toxicity can as well compromise human health especially when the body cannot regulate the excess amount of vitamin D. As such, it is estimated that up to one billion healthy individuals are living with hypovitaminosis D globally.
Available literature by Reagan M. Mogire et al, of Kenyan Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) Centre for Geographic Medicine, shows that many children in sub-Saharan Africa have a high burden of rickets and infectious diseases as a result of vitamin D deficiency. This means, one out of every 7 children living in Africa is vitamin D deficient.
Micah Mathiang’i, a senior lecturer at the Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Amref International University, Nairobi, Kenya, hinted that the phenomenon is becoming common among the populace in Africa cities. While there are adequate serum Vitamin D levels for improving healthy bones and preventing conditions like rickets among children and reducing the risk of type1diabetes, cardiovascular diseases among adults, children of working-class parents are at a higher risk, he stated.
In Ghana for instance, the situation is no different. It is the reality of many working mothers waking up early in their quest to go about daily activities to escape systemic hindrances like vehicular traffic among other challenges to keep up the needs of life. As a result, many of them miss on the sunshine vitamin.
Speaking to some Ghanaians to ascertain their level of knowledge about the “sunshine” vitamin reveals many have the general view about an existence of a nutrient that comes from the sun, but they are not aware of the timing and the exact type of vitamin.
Mrs. Nketiah-Brown, in Kasoa – a suburb of Central Region – says she knows there is a vitamin that comes from the sun early morning but she is not sure of the type. “I was told by my grandma the early morning sun is good for the body but I don’t really know what vitamin it gives. But for the time I am told the early morning sun,” she explains.
Although the condition is without isolated symptoms, it is a pre-deposing factor of many communicable and non-communicable diseases, making it difficult to figure out the role it plays in any condition that threatens human lives.
A publication in the Journal of Nutrition and metabolism by Samuel Asamoah Sakyi, et al, confirms a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency of 43.6% among healthy Ghanaian populace despite having access to 4 – 5 hours of sunlight per day.
The lead author of the paper, Samuel Asamoah Sakyi, explains that the sun gives 80 percent of the vitamin D needed by every healthy human in addition to the 20 percent derived from diet. Unfortunately, the result of our study inferred that the depletion of the ozone layer might be one of the determinants affecting the quality of the current vitamin D available and its utilization in persons in Ghana.
“Additionally, the timing of the sunshine vitamin is 9 to 10 am daily but many people miss out on it. So, clearly, we are not getting enough from the source that gives us maximum vitamin D, hence the need for us to add the supplements to stay healthy’’.
There Is No Justification For Akufo-Addo’s Refusal To Use Ghana Presidential Jet – Ablakwa.
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Maxwell Nkansah
A leading member of the opposition National Democratic Congress, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa has fumed again about the cost of the President’s travels.
The Member of Parliament for the North Tongu Constituency bemoaned the ‘wastage’ associated with the President’s external flights and is therefore calling for a national policy on presidential travels to deal with ‘the rape of the public purse’ by President Akufo-Addo. His recent backlash comes on the back of President Akufo-Addo’s recent trip to Germany to negotiate a deal with Pfizer to help in the country’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
In expressing his concerns about the cost involved in the travel, the enraged legislator stated that Akufo-Addo has acquired an insatiable desire for flying in luxurious aircraft, leaving Ghana’s presidential jet, the Dassault Falcon 900-EXE to lie in waste, despite its pristine condition.
The Falcon, according to Okudzeto Ablakwa was used by ex-Presidents Atta-Mills and John Dramani Mahama, and hence he sees no reason why Akufo-Addo will abandon the Falcon, irrespective of its functional state. In his view, this ostentatious preference by the President comes at the expense of the ordinary Ghanaian, and must therefore be curbed immediately.
In expressing his frustrations, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa further argued that Ghana’s official presidential aircraft can embark on similar destinations to Europe and hence he’s unable to fathom why the President willfully abandons the country’s presidential jet for expensive charters that only hurt the public purse.
According to him, following the public outcry that greeted the President’s expensive charter some weeks ago, he would have expected the President to heed to the calls of Ghanaians and flown in the presidential jet, which is comparatively cheaper; but instead, the President threw caution to the wind and went for another top of the range VIP luxury charter, known as the Boeing 737-900ER BBJ3.
He further went on to state that, if the government is dealing directly with the operators of the LX-DIO, then it is costing the Ghanaian taxpayer at least US$14,000 per hour. However, if the government is leasing the aircraft via brokers or middlemen the Ghanaian taxpayer is being billed between US$18,000 and US$22,000 per hour.
Okudzeto Ablakwa also estimated that if the conservative rate of US$14,000 per hour is applied, the two trips to the UK and Germany which require some 28 hours of travel distance in and out plus an additional 13 hours of pick up and drop off time, will cost the taxpayer a whopping US$574,000.00; equivalent to 3.46 million Ghana Cedis.
This according to him is outrageous, the reason for which a national policy on presidential travels should be adopted to curb such ‘needless’ expenditures.
Credible , fair and free elections in Zimbabwe blocked by Security forces since 1980.
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
On a fair playing ground it has been openly learnt that Security forces inhibit and block free , fair elections in the country . This has been the game since 1980 .This is horrendous to take note of amid reports that these quasi -Judicial people have since Robert Mugabe time intimidated forcefully on voters between 1983 and 1987 , in the year 2000 , heavily more in 2008 battling ZAPU PF and MDC and a small opposition parties born out of ZANU PF .The likes of the inside partises to say were Zimbabwe Union of Democrats , ZUD and Zimbabwe Unity Movement , ZUD respectively by a daughter of the party Margeret Dongo former Member of Parliament and Edgar Tekere former 1980 to 1989 Minister of Economic Development and Man-Power Planning .
Dewa Mavhinga a close source entailed to the Pan-African-Visions this week came up witha report from which a story circulating around was published . It was extracted from a Crisi in Zimbabwe Coalition report . President Mnangagwa is advised to stop security forces from intervening in elections run after every five years in the country .
”The Zimbabwe authorities need to reform security forces completely. There is urgent need to end their involvement in partisan politics. It must be ensured that they are completely professional, act constitutionally in Rights respecting manner”
” For any civil societies and social movements or citizens to campaign , freely in a democratic manner , in order to hold free , credible elections , the elephant in the room of Zimbabwean politics must be removed .”
The intervention of state security in politics started in in 1983 and ended briefly in 1987 . Robert Mugabe the former President deployed section of the army brutally trained to squash the heat of the ZIPRA forces trained under Joshua Nkomo who had sadly lost the 1980 Elections when Mugabe got 57 percent versus Joshua Nkomo 20 percent votes.
Section of the army called fifth brigade was trained by North Korean instructors named then ” gukurahundi , meaning , sweep the chaff and rubbish off ” . This caused disturbances, abuse of human rights in the Midlands and Matebeleland provinces of which the two were ZAPU PF strong-holds . There was brutal , massive violence which led to the death of 20,000 civillans a case in discussion causing winds in the country under the Gukurahundi massacre. The brigades destroyed ZAPU PF bases in the two provinces until Joshua Nkomo finally joined ZANU PF . In 1987 , Government of National unity was formed on 22 December . He was later swirn as Vice President of Zimbabwe , 1987 to 1998 , when he died .
The Zimbabwean government later called for an amnesty to relieve all those who had been involved in human rights violations . This relieved the Central Intelligence Organisation personnel and soldiers who had committed heinous crimes . More violence was witnessed in 2000 following launch of MDC in 1999 . Joshua Nkomo had recently died in 1998 not a happy man at all , it was learnt that he was duped by the unity accord which was supoosed to go in favour of him to take power as well after a period of ten years .
The military still has been a resisting force that has deadenned voices of the people , voters of their concerns and grievances at large . Robert Mugabe created a wave of trailling of massive disturbances that led to the death , maim and injuries of civillians . Batch of soldiers were deployed to DRC late 90’s , excombattants payed billions in net total this leading to problems the country faced , languishing the nation in hunger , poverty and vulnerability . This contributed to the crisis we have .
Scandals were exhumed , soiled up and information destroyed by Mugabe government which was involved in grant massive corruption in in DRC , Mozambique wars where it sent soldiers to help in military hand . United Nations report notes ,
” The key strategist in DRC activities is President Mnangagwa who was the Minister of State Security . He won strong support from the military and the central intelligence for an aggrieve policy in the Democratic Republic of Congo , DRC ”.
Further on unleashing of political violence rocked in 2008 , leading to massive maiming , hands cut short sleeved and long sleeved to those who suppoerted MDC opposition . There were 36,000 displacements , total of 5,000 people severely tortured and 200 killed in 2008 . This is just first hand information . There is more to it than meets the eye .
SADC election observer mission revealed serious injuries occured , fatal incidences , death and brutal torture characterised the election .
” The period leading to run-off election was characterised by politically motivated violence .This resulted in loss of lives in rural areas of ZANU PF strong-holds where there were a number of settled supporters belonging to the party ”,
” Zimbabwe is party to the SADC principles and guidelines governing democratic elections established to promote free and fair , transparent , credible and peaceful democratic elections “.
Crisis Coalition report urges Mnangagwa now to move on in a new different direction in coming up with credible , fair elections . The new regime ushered in a new democratic government meant to respect the rule of law , rights of the people and social justice must come with reforms to bring to the people a fearless campaign come 2023 so that people can vote freely , democratically , in a credible , accountable and transparent way .
Niger: Armed groups are increasingly targeting children in troubled Sahel border area – report.
September 14, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jean-Pierre Afadhali
Children are increasingly being killed and recruited by armed groups in the troubled Sahel’s region at Niger’s borders with Mali and Burkina Faso, said Amnesty International in a new report.
The report titled: “‘I Have Nothing Left Except Myself’: The Worsening Impact on Children of Conflict in the Tillabéri Region of Niger” released on Monday 13 Sept. documents the impact of the conflicts in Sahel region amid rising armed violence that involves armed Islamic Groups Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and the al-Qaida-affiliated Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin (JNIM).
According to the human rights organisation both armed groups operating in the West African region have committed war crimes and abuses including the murder of civilians and targeting schools. “Many children are experiencing trauma after witnessing deadly attacks on their villages. In some areas, women and girls have been barred from activities outside the home, and risk abduction or forced marriage to fighters,” the report noted.
Matt Wells, Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Deputy Director, Thematic Issues said in Niger’s Tillaberi region, an entire generation is growing surrounded by death and destruction. “Armed groups have repeatedly attacked schools and food reserves, and are targeting children for recruitment,”
The report is released barely two days after armed men on motorcycles shot and killed 11 civilians in an attack on the village of Gnarba Kouara, in Tillaberi. Six of the victims were from the same family, according to Finger Lakes Times, a news website.
Amnesty International Report says that armed groups have killed more than 60 children in Niger’s Tri-border Area in 2021. The rights body says ISGS, which operates primarily on the border with Mali, could be responsible for most of the large-scale killing.
Children who had narrowly survived attacks on their villages, interviewed by Amnesty International described how masked fighters on motorbikes opened fire targeting mainly men and older boys. “We all are used to hearing gunshots and to seeing [dead] people layered on top of [dead] people.” One boy was quoted as saying in the report released today.
Some children have experienced nightmares as result of rising violence in the troubled tri-border area. “Sometimes I have nightmares being chased by people on motorbike or seeing Wahab pleading with [the attackers] again.” Says a boy who witnessed the murder of his 12-year-old friend who was quoted by Amnesty International researchers.
Meanwhile armed groups continue to recruit children near the border with Burukina Faso. Witnesses said JNIM has targeted younger men and boys aged between 15 and 17, and possibly younger, noted the report.
The Human rights organization is calling on Nigerien government and its international partners to urgently take action and monitor and prevent further abuses and protect the basic rights and protect all affected by the deadly conflict with focus on children.
Amnesty International says an estimated 13.2 million people in the three countries will need humanitarian assistance this year, and around 1.9 million people have been internally displaced.
Kenya Pavilion handed over at Expo 2020 Dubai.
September 13, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenyan Industrialization, Trade, and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina, on Monday, September 13, 2021, received Kenya Pavilion at the Expo 2020 Dubai.
Under the theme “Feeling Energy”, the Kenya pavilion reflects the vitality, love, the desire for innovation, and the patriotic energy of the Kenyan people in building the Kenyan brand.
Kenya is one of 192 countries participating in the 2020 Dubai World Expo, which is scheduled to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), from October 1, 2021, to March 31, 2021.
Kenya will use the expo to showcase trade and investment opportunities in line with the four major development agendas: manufacturing, food security, universal health care, and universal affordable housing.
This East African country will also showcase its tourism opportunities, economic diversification, and potential as a major exporter of goods, services, talent, innovation, and a rich culture to the world.
“This for us is a great opportunity to show the world we are here, and we are forced to reckon with. It is a clear testimony that Kenya is ready to join the league of Nations to collaborate, exhibit, showcase and sell to the world products that are truly and authentically Kenyan,” said Betty Maina, thanking the UAE Government for supporting Kenya’s participation by providing a sponsorship package that catered for the design and construction of the Kenya pavilion.
During the expo, Kenya will also diversify and integrate exports to the UAE and the Middle East.
The main products include horticulture (fruits and vegetables), coffee, tea, meat and meat products, logistics, flowers, edible nuts, tourism and sports services, etc.