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Paradigm Initiative concludes a 2-day coalition workshop on a draft Tanzania Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill, 2020
August 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

Paradigm Initiative has concluded a two-day coalition workshop that brought together civil society groups, lawyers, bloggers, journalists, members of the academia in the United Republic of Tanzania.

The two-day event took place at Holiday Inn in Dar es Salaam with the Tanzania participants coming together to discuss the state of digital rights in Tanzania with support from Paradigm Initiative that joined the meeting virtually. The workshop culminated in the drafting of a Digital Rights and Freedom Bill, 2020 for Tanzania. It is hoped that this Bill, inspired by Nigeria’s Digital Rights and Freedoms Bill, will be embraced by the Tanzanian parliament and regulatory authorities after the elections in 2020 and subsequently enacted into law. 

It is noteworthy that the Bill presents liberal and progressive proposals which, if enacted into law, will definitely safeguard the digital rights and freedoms of all Tanzanians. The Bill seeks to fill the lacuna that exists in the current legal and institutional framework for digital rights protection in Tanzania and to offer more robust protection. Undoubtedly, it will not only be an auxiliary legislation to the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) and the Cyber-Crimes Act but also reinforce the existing internet-use regulations.

Paradigm Initiative Senior Program Manager, Adeboye Adegoke says the organisation hopes to keep the discussion going especially with other relevant stakeholders from Tanzania and with the Tanzanian government agencies such as the TCRA. “ The next step in the process is the sustained engagement of all relevant stakeholders in Tanzania, including the government to ensure that the bill that will be presented to the parliament represents the views of the people of Tanzanians”, Adeboye concluded.

*Paradigm Initiative 

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Germany to Ramp Up Investment in African Energy
August 7, 2020 | 0 Comments
An exclusive webinar explored the market dynamics set to shape post-COVID-19 German-African business relations.

“Germany-Africa Economic Relations: Making Deals Post COVID-19” highlighted opportunities for German businesses in Africa’s power production, clean energy, and digitalization and technology sectors; An opening keynote was given by H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of the Republic of Equatorial Guinea; Panelists included Ibrahima Mané, Director General for Cooperation & Financing for the Republic of Senegal; Onyeche Tifase, Head of Strategy, Technology & Innovation, Oil and Gas Divison for Siemens Energy; Tim Gengnagel, Deal Accelerator for the Rwanda Development Board; and Kenneth Reed, Managing Director for GEA Group, Southern & Eastern Africa; The webinar was hosted by the African Energy Chamber  and Germany Africa Business Forum (GABF), in collaboration with Africa Oil & Power (AOP), and featured moderators Sebastian Wagner, Co-Founder of the GABF, and Anine Kilian, News Editor at AOP.

In an exclusive webinar held on Thursday, “Germany-Africa Economic Relations: Making Deals Post COVID-19,” panelists sought to mobilize German investment into the African energy sector, establishing clean energy and digitalization as two major pillars of economic and investment cooperation.

In recent years, the African continent has shifted to the forefront of Germany’s foreign policy and development agenda, with programs rolled out under the country’s $1.1 billion Development Investment Fund for Africa, which is primarily dedicated to easing the entrance of German businesses into African markets.

Co-hosting the webinar, the Germany Africa Business Forum (GABF) is a private think tank whose goal is to strengthen investment ties between Germany and Africa, co-founded by moderator Sebastian Wagner. In July 2019, the organization announced a multi-million dollar funding commitment to invest in German energy startups that focus on Africa.

A prime example of German-African cooperation lies in Equatorial Guinea, which employed two German contractors in the construction of West Africa’s first LNG storage and regasification plant located on the country’s mainland.

“Equatorial Guinea initiated the Gas Mega Hub, in which we are capturing gas from Noble Energy’s Alba and Alen fields, building a pipeline and bringing it to onshore Punta Europa gas processing facilities,” said H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea in his keynote address. “The resources are here. We just need to make sure that we have the technology to transfer the goods. In Equatorial Guinea, there is substantial opportunity for synergy between Equatoguinean and German companies. This is not a country that is uncharted territory, or in which the resources are not there. We already produce oil, gas, condensate, methanol and CNG, and are going to start mining. As a result, to enter the market requires technology of transformations.”

The G20 Compact with Africa (CwA) was initiated under the German G20 Presidency to promote private investment in Africa through improvements of the macro, business and financing frameworks. The efficacy of the initiative has been demonstrated in countries such as Senegal, which enjoys a long-standing partnership with Germany that has mobilized over €1 billion in funding. “Germany-Senegal cooperation is rich in lessons, in terms of a project approach that is focused on the mode of intervention and implementation through Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and KfW Development Bank, which are focused on technical operation and financial cooperation, respectively,” said Ibrahima Mané, Director General for Cooperation & Financing for the Republic of Senegal. “GIZ intervenes upstream to create pre-conditions for financial intervention, leading to better project preparation. KfW carries out studies before the agreement is signed, and recruits an international consultant to support the implementation. In addition to receiving a grant last year to create a more attractive investment climate for FDI, Senegal is working on a new law for Public-Private-Partnerships. The second phase of the Plan for an Emerging Senegal is focused on private sector development and bringing more clarity and transparency to help investors feel comfortable.”

In Senegal, Germany plays a significant role in power projects through investment in small-scale plants and renewables energy, facilitated by its agreement with the CwA that has supported almost 800 SMEs in the country. “We currently have more than €200 million in undergoing projects, primarily focused on renewable energy, energy efficiency and access to electricity throughout the whole country,” said Ibrahima Mané. “No exclusivity and no exclusion – the energy sector is not dominated by one partner. It is a dynamic sector with many bilateral and multilateral partners. Germany is making a major contribution in the field of renewable energy, principally through power plants of 25 MW implemented in areas outside of Dakar.”

With a recently approved investment law and a top regional ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, Rwanda maintains an attractive investment climate for FDI, in part due to strong collaboration between public and private sectors.  “The [Rwanda Development Board] has a responsibility both on the policy side to keep the country reforming and improving, and on the project development side, in the promotion of projects and implementation,” said Tim Gengnagel, Deal Accelerator for the Rwanda Development Board. “Having a trusted government partner in that implementation journey is key to not only attracting investment, but also creating the jobs and exports that we are craving for.” The Rwanda Development Board echoed the need for German entrants to the market to be familiar with market size. “One point of concern that we hear from German companies is the small market size,” said Tim Gengnagel. “With many German companies, they try to sell products, which is a good first step into a market. However, if you are investing on the continent and in Rwanda, you are not only investing in a consumer market, but also making a regional investment and an export investment.”

In addition to boosting electricity access and fuelling a clean energy transition, key opportunities for German companies in Africa remain in digitalization, as German businesses possess the technical expertise and know-how to enable knowledge and technology transfer. “Opportunities are immediately available, in terms of smart-grids, automation of metering systems, automation of production lines and adoption of FinTech. On top of that, we are seeing companies invest in training youth and the utilization of digital technologies,” said Onyeche Tifase, Head of Strategy, Technology & Innovation, Oil and Gas  Divison for Siemens Energy. “For German companies that are in the high-tech space and have found ways to create a success story in advanced countries, now is the time to transition to Africa. Furthermore, with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, we are seeing an even greater push toward industrialization. We are hoping for Nigeria to become a net exporter, and this cannot be done without digitalization.”

Despite a wide range of investment opportunities in the African energy sector, limiting factors still constrain the advancement of industrial and manufacturing abilities on the continent, which include local content and skills development. “Why would people consider entering the African market? The better question is, ‘Can you afford to ignore Africa?’ The return on foreign investment is the highest in the world, and the continent also carries a significant availability of land for agricultural production,” said Kenneth Reed, Managing Director for GEA Group, Southern & Eastern Africa. “That said, the advice is to be aware of the differences between African and other cultural norms, as well as the actual market size and how much money you are going to invest. In addition, the shortage of skills, the need to create jobs and the need to enhance skills is critical to the collaboration between German companies and Africa.”

The GABF will, in cooperation with AOP Webinars, host future webinars that address the political, social and economic interdependence between Germany and Africa.

*Africa Energy Chamber
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Zimbabwe doctors human rights organization to launch health workers safety tracker
August 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The  Zimbabwe Association for Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) is to launch a Health workers safety tracker  which will act as an advocacy tool will also be utilised in enhancing access to information to the public and to healthcare workers and in engaging with responsible authorities in working towards improved working conditions for health workers, it has been reported.
 

ZADHR said that it is deeply concerned with the on-going industrial strike by nurses and other healthcare workers in the public health delivery sector.

“The state of affairs compounds the already dire situation within the  public health sector and more importantly in this time of the Covid-19 pandemic,” ZADHR said.
   

They also added that they were  also worried about the lack of urgency and the lethargy by the government in addressing the health workers’ genuine concerns.
   

ZADHR urged the government to prioritise the welfare of the health workforce in order to boost their moral and improve the health outcomes as a matter of urgency.
 

  It added that the strikes come at a time health workers have been complaining about shortages of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in their respective workspace, a situation which is said to expose them to contracting Covid-19. According to ZADHR, Currently, Parirenyatwa Hospital in Harare has skeletal staff that can only look after 60 to 70 patients out of a possible 425 at any given time.

ZADHR says that this is testament to the fact that government has paid lip service to the concerns of health workers despite court orders imploring the government to prioritise the welfare and health of the health workers.  ZADHR says it  stands with the affected and striking health care workers and urges the government to exhibit urgency when confronted with issues that affect the well being of its workers and by extension the citizens.
 

They also said that they continue to note the difficulties being faced by citizens in accessing health services including access to emergency maternal services.  ZADHR says it has has verified reports of citizens who are being turned away from hospitals because they do not have Covid-19 test results.

 ‘This is a clear violation of section 76(3) of the Zimbabwean constitution which states that “no person may be refused emergency medical treatment in any health institution.” “Whilst ZADHR  notes that  the requirement is in place to protect fellow health workers, we advise that public health institutions should have the testing facilities readily available for emergency cases such that patients are not turned away and told to get tested in private institutions,’ they said.

 They added that public health institutions should make sure that health workers attending to emergency cases have proper PPE to protect themselves and that adequate infection control guidelines are strictly adhered to.

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Can Akere Muna ride DR Congo off rampant corruption, sex for aid, and humanitarian fraud?
August 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung  

Barrister Akere Muna has solid experience on issues of corruption and transparency
Barrister Akere Muna has solid experience on issues of corruption and transparency

To lead the fight against widespread corruption in the Democratic Republic of Congo, DRC, President Félix Tshisekedi some four months ago solicited the services of Cameroon lawyer Akere Muna after facing national and international backlash amidst fears that the country could lose humanitarian support due to rampant corruption and mismanagement of donations.

Four months in, the task accorded Akere Muna, former presidential hopeful in Cameroon, and a fine technocrat with decades of legal experience across the horizon seems forever overwhelming with daily increases in corrupt practices, and more damming the recent allegation that women and girls are subjected to sexual exploitation in exchange for aid, the legal colossus has got his hands full.

Though many agree Barrister Akere Muna is the right man for the job considering his expertise after serving as President of the Cameroon Bar Association, President of the Pan-African Lawyers Union, and Vice-President of Transparency International, sources in Kinshasa point that the Congolese are gradually losing hope in the process.

Credited to have founded Transparency International Cameroon in 2000,

 and serving as its President before becoming Global Vice President of the international anti-corruption organization in 2005, Akere Muna has been very tactful and not made any public remarks about the mission.

Having worked with the Resident Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo on a mission on the project to fight corruption and establish good governance, the field though not new to Akere Muna presents new challenges.

In June, a leaked internal document exposed scores of aid corruption and abuse in Congo delivering a blistering assessment that could spark major changes to aid operations in a country where hundreds of millions of dollars of foreign aid are spent annually.

Photo credit (RAID)

The 70-page draft review – circulated last month to aid officials working in Congo and obtained by The New Humanitarian – looks at everything from corruption within the Ebola response to how women and girls are subjected to sexual exploitation. It also details how donor funds are siphoned off and how aid recipients ultimately lose out.

An anti-fraud unit is said to have been put in place by United Nations agencies and aid groups after Mercy Corps, a nongovernmental organization in 2018 uncovered a fraud scheme. In its review, the anti-fraud unit of the UN discovered widespread corruption that sinks deep into Congo.

A problem which if not well tackled could see DR Congo losing millions of dollars in aid and humanitarian support, funding which is critical to helping the agile country struck with one of the world’s longest humanitarian crises.

Corruption is one of the many challenges that President Tshisekedi has to grapple with
Corruption is one of the many challenges that President Tshisekedi has to grapple with

This is where Akere Muna comes in. Faced with what many have termed a ‘mission impossible’, the Cameroonian lawyer who is currently Chairman of the International Anti-Corruption Conference Council. He is also the Sanctions Commissioner of the African Development Bank Group and a Member of the High-Level Panel on Illicit Financial Flows from Africa – is charged with identifying those loopholes and reporting to the presidency on how to best solve the country’s chronic corrupt practices.

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Mozambique announces new state of emergency
August 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced the introduction of another state of emergency cycle starting on August 8, nationwide, for 30 days, saying that data from the health authorities indicate that the covid-19 epidemic is rapidly worsening, with an increase in the number of deaths and hospitalized patients.

Nyusi also outlined plans for a phased easing of restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease. The three-phase plan will begin on August 18, when activities deemed low risk can resume. These include the resumption of face-to-face classes in universities, higher education institutions, military academies, teacher training, and at technical, professional, and health institutes. Religious services may also resume, with congregations of no more than 50 people. Up to 50 people will be able to attend funerals, up from the current limit of 20, with exceptions for the funeral of those who have died of covid-19, where the maximum attendance will remain at ten.

The second phase is scheduled to begin on September 1, and will allow for the resumption of activities deemed medium risk. This includes the reopening of cinemas, casinos, and gyms.

The third phase covers activities deemed high risk and is set to begin on October 30. Measures included in this phase include the resumption of face-to-face classes for final year secondary school pupils.

All other current measures remain in place until further notice, including social distancing and the use of face masks in public. Bars remain closed indefinitely.

All other activities that have not been announced will be subject to regulation by a decree to be issued by the Council of Ministers, Nyusi said.

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Cameroon: Outrage as Anglophone detainee dies while chained to hospital bed
August 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Shocking images of Thomas Nganyu Tangem chained on his hospital bed were in circulation a few days to before he died
Shocking images of Thomas Nganyu Tangem chained on his hospital bed were in circulation a few days to before he died

Uneasy calm has returned to the Kondengui Central Prison in Cameroon’s capital, Yaounde after Anglophone inmates protested the circumstances surrounding the death of Thomas Nganyu Tangem, detained in relation to the simmering crisis in the North West and South West regions. Before his demise, a photo of him shackled to his sickbed had gone viral on social media.

The angry detainees demanded explanations from prison authorities concerning the disturbing circumstances under which Tangem died in the nation’s political capital. The angry inmates said the deceased was subjected to inhumane and barbaric treatment before his death on August 5, 2020.

Sources in Yaounde told Pan Africa Visions that Tangem had been sick for over five months, but was allegedly neglected and abandoned in jail. He is said to have been rushed to hospital on July 25, 2020, only when his situation deteriorated.

Images of him chained to a hospital bed despite his critical health situation flooded social media platforms with outright condemnation from members of the public and the Cameroonian diaspora.

Lead Counsel for the defense team of Anglophone crisis detainees, Barrister Amungwa Tanyi Nicomdemus issued a statement concerning the death of Tangem. Amungwa detailing that, he died in chains “to the satisfaction of the prison and justice administrators”.

“The chairman of communication and media for the defense team of Ayuk Tabe and other Southern Cameroonian detainees announce with deep regret the death of Tangem Thomas at 10 minutes to six in the morning this August 5th, 2020 at the Yaounde Central Hospital. Pa Tom died in chains to the satisfaction of the prison and justice administrators. The corpse is about now being kept in the mortuary of the Central Hospital Yaounde,” the lawyer said in a statement. Local news report that Tangem, a metal sheet engineer from the North West region was reportedly arrested in Mile 16, Buea South west region in 2018. He is said to have been ferried to the Secretariat of State Defense, SED before later transferred to the Kondengui Maximum security prison.

Spending over three years in detention without trial, Wife, and close family members of Thomas Nganyu Tangem recount the inhumane and ferocious living conditions he was faced with before succumbing to death. “My husband excreted, and urinated in his pants for four days and was left unattended”, the wife said in an interview with The Voice newspaper before adding that he was blindfolded, forced to sleep on wet floors and chained for weeks.

Reactions 

Reacting to the death of the detainee, retired Supreme Court Advocate General, Ayah Paul Abine wrote that, “died in chains as a Southern Cameroonian. This man died in chains, died this day August 5, 2020, not as a prisoner of war he was, prisoner for being who he was” adding that “a rare gentleman that I knew, he was in quiet disposition or just cracking jokes, working round the clock was his noble task only to depart in this manner most degrading for being born where it pleased the Lord to choose”.

Tsi Conrad, one of the Anglophone crisis detainees currently serving a 15-year jailed term penned an emotional tribute to late Tangem shortly after he died.

“At the foot of the hill he died, from pain and misery, chained to his bed by evil, never did he want to escape, the oppressor killed him slowly,” Tsi wrote, further adding that “without judgment, he prayed to go home, 3 years behind bars in dungeon of pain, hope made way for delusion today August 25. For nothing, Pa Tangem Thomas died in body, but his soul bow looks from above at his foe”.

Agbor Felix Nkongho, human rights advocate and founder of the Center for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa condemned in strongest terms the treatment matted on a sick detainee describing it as nothing short of “cruelty, inhuman and degrading.”

The disturbing and inhumane treatment in Cameroon’s prisons especially the dreaded Kondengui Central prison has come under review several times. Human Rights Watch, Amnesty and even UN agencies have criticized the government of Cameroon for its poor treatment of detainees who are often subjected to torture, limited or no medical attention, sleeping in over-crowded cells leading to the fast spread of illnesses among others. By the time of this report, the government of President Paul Biya or Prison authorities at Kondengui were yet to make any public statement about the death of Thomas Nganyu Tangem and why he had not got medical attention earlier.

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Ugandans should stop going to Rwanda: Another Cold war between sister countries
August 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, left, shakes hands with Rwandan President Paul Kagame as Angolan President Joao Lourenco looks on after signing a pact aimed at ending standoff (file photo).

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has ordered Ugandans not to cross to  Rwanda or do so at their own risk, a move that signals a deepening of the prolonged feud between these once sister countries.

The directives were given by President Museveni through a letter addressed to Resident District Commissioners especially those in Districts on the border with Rwanda.

“The President has sent a directive to you all the RDC’s (resident district commissioners) especially those in Districts bordering with Rwanda, to inform Ugandans of the criminal Rwanda government policy of shooting smugglers  that are not armed, although what they are doing is illegal” Esther M Mbayo, Minister in Charge of Presidency wrote in the letter that got leaked to the media,

Mbayo went on to warn Ugandans who had in their schedule to go to Rwanda. “Ugandans should stop going to Rwanda or those who go should do so at their own risk”.

Since March 2020, Rwanda has also advised its nationals to avoid crossing to Uganda, over ill treatment they get in the hands of Uganda’s security agencies.

Through the letter, Uganda claimed that they are Rwandan soldiers who cross to Uganda to kidnap people, and “the concerned agencies are already briefed on how to deal with that provocation”.

Things could be worse between Rwanda and Uganda and hinder efforts that are  being made  to mediate in the feud between both countries by Presidents João Lourenço of Angola, and Félix Tshisekedi of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Rwanda has not commented on the letter.

The virtual meeting of the ad hoc commission for the normalisation of relations between Uganda and Rwanda which ended in June 2020 took no promising decision on issues between two countries.

Rwanda has accused Uganda of harboring its enemies, illegally arresting and torturing its citizens as well as economic sabotage. Uganda accuses Rwanda of sending spies to its territory and closing the common border of Gatuna among others.

In August 2019, Rwanda and Uganda agreed to sign a memorandum of understanding that were aimed at ending years of hostilities between the two countries.

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Lethal Cargo In Beirut Was Once Headed For Mozambique
August 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Preliminary investigations into the gigantic explosion that ripped through Beirut on Tuesday, killing over 50 people, and injuring thousands more, was caused by an abandoned cargo of ammonium nitrate that had once been headed for Mozambique, according to CNN.

Reports emerging from Beirut suggest that the tragedy began in 2013 when technical problems forced a cargo ship, the MV Rhosus, flying the flag of the former Soviet republic of Moldova, to put into the port of Beirut.

The Rhosus set off from the Black Sea port of Batumi in Georgia, on 23 September 2013, and its destination was listed as the central Mozambican port of Beira.

But it never got further than Beirut. When Lebanese inspectors boarded the ship it found that it was in no fit state to continue its journey. Furthermore, in its hold was a cargo of 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate, commonly used as fertiliser.

It is also a component of explosives used in the mining and construction industries. In the wrong hands, ammonium nitrate is highly dangerous. It has been used by terrorists, notably in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing in the United States, carried out by domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh, which killed 168 people, and the Oslo bombing of 2011, carried out by Norwegian fascist Anders Breivik. There have also been many accidental ammonium nitrate explosions this century, with a death toll running into hundreds.

The owner of the Rhosus was a Russian businessman, Igor Grechushkin, whose last known address was in Cyprus. Grechushkin made no attempt to make the Rhosus seaworthy, and in early 2014, he simply abandoned it. The ship’s captain, Ukrainian citizen Boris Prokoshev told a Ukrainian legal aid organisation in June 2014 that Grechushkin claimed bankruptcy. “I don’t believe him, but that doesn’t matter”, he said. “The fact is that he abandoned the ship and the crew, just like he abandoned his cargo, ammonium nitrate.”

Eventually a Lebanese judge allowed Prokoshev and other Ukrakinan crew members to go home. The Lebanese law firm representing the seamen said “Emphasis was placed on the imminent danger the crew was facing given the ‘dangerous’ nature of the cargo still stored in ship’s holds”.

A shipping industry journal, “The Arrest News”, which tracks ships that have been impounded, said, in 2015, “Owing to the risks associated with retaining the ammonium nitrate on board the vessel, the port authorities discharged the cargo onto the port’s warehouses”.

For the next six years, the ammonium nitrate was effectively abandoned in the warehouse, despite repeated efforts by Lebanese customs to persuade the country’s judiciary to order its removal. As Tuesday’s events showed, it was a bomb waiting to go off.

It is not yet clear who the southern African customer for the ammonium nitrate was. The final destination may not have been Mozambique at all. Given its use in mining explosives, it might well have been intended for mining operations in Zimbabwe or Zambia. Currently the answer to this is unknown.

Mozambique with no notification on Rhosus

However, Cornelder, the managing company of the port of Beira, told Lusa on Wednesday that it had never been notified of the operation of a ship containing 2,750 tonnes of ammonium nitrate destined for Mozambique.

“Normally, before receiving a ship, we are notified. In this case, we never received any notification from a ship coming to the port of Beira with these characteristics and cargo,” said António Libombo, deputy executive director of Cornelder, concessionaire of the Port of Beira since 1998.

Lusa contacted the Mozambican Ministry of Transport and Communications, which also said it had not been informed about a vessel with these characteristics that year.

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Gambia Imposes Curfew as Covid-19 Surge the Nation
August 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Gambian President Adama Barrow
Gambian President Adama Barrow

President Adama Barrow has invoked executive power to impose a 21-day curfew on the country, effect from Thursday amidst wide spread of the coronavirus in The Gambia.

The president on Wednesday unleashed his powers under Section 34 of the constitution by declaring a new state of public emergency as coronavirus continues its scary spread. The new State of Public Emergency, SoPE which comes with a night curfew, will take effect on Thursday.

Under the new SoPE, all houses of worship such as mosques and churches ‘shall remain’ closed, according to a statement by the government.

Ebrima G. Sankareh, government spokesperson told Gambia Radio and Television Services that the decision is necessary to prevent the national health crisis ahead in the country.

Gambia has confirmed 779 coronavirus and 16 deaths. the vice president and four ministers and one mayor testing positive for the disease. However citizens recently slammed government for failing to enforcement covid-19 lock down regulations.

Experts predict that the country is risk of national health crisis because of the fragile health system.

The dusk-to-dawn curfew will start on Thursday from 10pm to 5am daily. Anyone found outside who’s not an essential worker during this time will liable to a fine of D5000.

“Mosques or churches shall be used solely for calls to prayers or religious announcements. All forms of gatherings at mosques and churches are prohibited,” the statement signed by government spokesperson Ebrima Sankareh on Wednesday said.

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Mohannad Ali, Fatima Akif Emerge as the African Freestyle Football Champions of 2020
August 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
Egypt's Mohannad Hosam Ali (right on the big screen) celebrates his victory at the Men's finals of the African Freestyle Football Championships Sunday Aug 2, 2020
Egypt’s Mohannad Hosam Ali (right on the big screen) celebrates his victory at the Men’s finals of the African Freestyle Football Championships Sunday Aug 2, 2020
Ali, 20, is the 2019 Egyptian Freestyle Football Champion, while Akif, 19, is the reigning Women’s Arabian Freestyle Football Champion.

The month-long virtual freestyle football championship tagged Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 came to a power-packed finish on Sunday, August 2, 2020 with the finals of the 3rd African Freestyle Football Championship.

After several dramatic freestyle football battles, Mohannad Hosam Ali from Egypt and Fatimaezzahra ‘Fatima’ Akif from Morocco emerged as the Men and Women Champions of Africa for 2020. Ali, 20, is the 2019 Egyptian Freestyle Football Champion, while Akif, 19, is the reigning Women’s Arabian Freestyle Football Champion.

Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, the largest promoter of freestyle football in Africa, hosted the games, which began on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 and received 152 entries from 21 countries participating in the first-of-its-kind online games.

Valentine Ozigbo, the Chairman of Feet ‘N’ Tricks International, while speaking at the finals of the championship expressed his pride at the rapid growth of freestyle football on the continent since the inception of the tournament in 2017.

“When we started this project a few years ago, it was all about passion for an art-form that deserved to be given a front seat in the world of sports,” the respected business leader said.

“Today, we have just held the third successful continental championships, that is in addition to four Nigerian tournaments.”

“This year’s statistics – 152 contestants, 21 countries, and increase in women participation – is a testament to the fact that freestyle football is not just the fastest-growing type of football, but it has taken firm roots in Africa.”


MTN, the headline sponsor of the championship, celebrated the winners and promised to keep supporting initiatives geared towards youth development across Africa.

“The quality of participation we have seen in this year’s edition of the African Freestyle Football Championship is another testament to the quality of talent that abounds in Africa, and it is truly inspiring,” said Rahul De, Chief Marketing Officer, MTN Nigeria.

“We are glad to be part of this initiative and will not relent in our support for developmental programmes for the youth in Africa. Congratulations to all the participants and especially Mohannad and Fatima for emerging champions in the male and female categories,” Mr De added.

Eight professional freestylers from 6 countries – Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Sudan, Morocco, and Nigeria – competed at the keenly contested men and women’s finals of the virtual games which were aired live on HipTV and streamed live on PlusTV’s Youtube and Instagram channels as well as Feet ‘N’ Tricks’ YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram channels.

While speaking to freestyle football fans after the event, Mr Ozigbo expressed his satisfaction with the quality of play at the finals and reiterated his desire to ensure that the World Freestyle Football Championship is hosted in Nigeria or any other country in Africa in the near future.

“Thanks to all our sponsors. MTN, who is our headline sponsor this year, my foundation, Valentine Chineto Ozigbo Foundation, and Eko Disco. Also thanks to our broadcast partners, PlusTV Africa and HipTV. Thanks to all our other media partners who supported this competition” Mr Ozigbo said.

The African Freestyle Football Championships, Mohannad Hosam Ali (Egypt) and Fatima Akif  (Morocco) take home the grand prize of $1,000 each.

Second-placed winners, Yousef Ayman Riesco (Egypt) and Lubna Omar (Sudan) each go home with $750, while Ayoub Haouas (Tunisia) and Evelyn Okafor (Nigeria) who both placed 3rd win $500 each. The 4th placed winners, Samir Saidi (Algeria) and Yasmine Rais (Morocco), take home $250 each.

Riesco, 30, is a former Super Ball World Champion and 6-time Egyptian National Champion. Ayoub, 30, is the reigning champion of the Online Arabs Freestyle Championship. Okafor, 21, is the 2019 Women’s African Freestyle Football Champion.

A panel of international judges – Lukasz Chwieduk from Poland, U.S.A’s Caitlyn Schrepfer, Yo Katsuyama of Japan and South African duo Kamal ‘Kamilio’ Ranchod and Chris Njokwana – determined the winner through the process of elimination in live battles.

The final was hosted by Nigerian street dance king, Poco Lee. A variety of musical, dance, and entertainers also featured on the show. 

Freestyle UNLOCKED Africa 2020 was held in partnership with the World Freestyle Football Association, WFFA with telecommunication giant, MTN is the headline sponsor.

About Feet ‘n’ Tricks International:
Feet ‘n’ Tricks International Limited (www.FeetAndTricks.com) is the official host for freestyle football competitions in Africa. The company is strongly committed to growing awareness and participation in the art form that is freestyle football. The company has hosted successful annual championships since 2017. Freestyle Unlocked Africa 2020 is the 4th edition of the championships. The events are held in partnership with the World Freestyle Football Association, the world body governing the sport.

*SOURCE Feet ‘N’ Tricks International
 
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US-Africa Energy Committee Makes Capital Markets Access its Priority
August 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
The meeting identified key areas and priorities to increase the level of capital and technology flows and address the challenge of accessing US capital markets.

The US-Africa Committee of the African Energy Chamber held its first Meeting this week to discuss the future of energy cooperation and investments between the US and Africa post Covid-19.

The US-Africa Committee gathers top private and public industry experts and executives from both sides of the Atlantic, all committed to fully exploiting the potential of US-African energy cooperation. The meeting identified key areas and priorities to increase the level of capital and technology flows and address the challenge of accessing US capital markets.

Committee Members especially highlighted the challenge of raising capital for exploration and development projects in upstream oil & gas, coupled with a lack of understanding of Production Sharing Contracts (PSCs) mechanisms and structures. This challenge is now set to increase further given current market dynamics and conditions, and increasing lack of appetite for fossil fuels from traditional investors or lenders. Beyond just upstream, participants agreed that Africa offers the most attractive energy investment opportunities for American investors, stakeholders and entrepreneurs but the issue around messaging and perceptions of the continent continues to hinder investment.

In addressing perceptions of Africa in the US, participants highlighted the significant lack of adequate and objective messaging on African opportunities and African markets in the US. Addressing such issue of perceptions has been identified as a major priority for the Chamber and the Committee in order to properly communicate the opportunities of doing business in Africa as opposed to focusing solely on often exaggerated security and safety issues.

To unlock future growth potential in the US-African energy cooperation, Committee Members highlighted several issues and solutions. A key one pertains to expanded partnerships, with the need to increase engagement with a broader range of stakeholders, including public and private institutions, energy investors in North America seeking an interventional venture, and universities. More importantly, all agreed that the future of US-African energy cooperation will need to open up to SMEs and entrepreneurs and not be limited only to large and traditional corporations. The need to encourage African investments into the US was also brought to the table as a way to further support a win-win relationship that would support further capital flows going both ways.

Similarly, Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria and Know Your Customers (KYC) requirements were brought to the discussion as key factors African companies need to embrace to further attract US investment and technology. Such criteria and requirements should not be seen as obstacles for investments but as true enablers of successful joint-ventures and partnerships between US and African companies.

About the US-Africa Committee:
The US-Africa Committee was appointed by the African Energy Chamber (www.EnergyChamber.org) to serve on its Advisory Board in 2020 and 2021. Its members share a common belief that the US-Africa cooperation has the potential to transform Africa’s energy industry, and serve as advisors and transaction mentors to the Chamber and its network. Its members include:
Jude Kearney, President, Kearney Africa
Rogers Beall, Executive Chairman and CEO, Africa Fortesa Corporation
Reginal “Reg”​ Spiller, CEO, Azimuth Energy Investments LLC
Ann Norman, General Manager – Africa, Pioneer Energy
C. Derek Campbell, CEO, Energy & Natural Resource Security, Inc.
Kola Karim, CEO, Shoreline Energy International
Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman and CEO, Genesis Energy Group
Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Managing Director for Africa, Millennium Challenge Corporation
R. Dean Foreman, Chief Economist, American Petroleum Institute

*Africa Energy Chamber
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Coalition statement on persistent arrests of journalists and threats on media freedoms in Zimbabwe
August 5, 2020 | 0 Comments
Bulawayo, Zimbabwe – [July 21, 2020] – As a global coalition of organisations and institutions defending and working to advance human rights in the digital age, we write to express great concern over the growing trend on threats on media freedoms and arrests of journalists and activists in Zimbabwe in recent months.

These attacks bear no regard to Zimbabwe’s obligations to:Article 19(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to protect the right to freedom of expression including freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice or through any media whatsoever;Sections 61 and 62 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which guarantee freedom of expression and freedom of the media;Sections 57, 58, and 59 of the Zimbabwean Constitution which ensure the rights to privacy, freedom of assembly and association and freedom to demonstrate and petition;

We  further wish to remind the Zimbabwean Government of its obligations to the following regional instruments on freedom of expression; African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Windhoek Declaration , African Platform on Access to Information and the Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression.

We have noted in the last few days, the increase in random arrests, detentions and questioning of journalists and activists in the course of executing their duties.

Specifically, in a space of seven days, we noted the arrest and detention of Hopewell Chin’ono – a respected journalist on July 20th, Jacob Ngarivhume- an opposition activist on July 20th and Blessed Mhlanga- a senior journalist on July 25. We are deeply concerned by the recent raid of the Journalist Mduduzi Mathuthu’s home and arbitrary arrest of his sister in connection with his whereabouts on July 30th 2020 ahead of a planned protest on the 31st of July 2020. These sustained attacks on journalists are a disregard for media freedoms.

We are cognizant of  the Press Briefing on Zimbabwe by the Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Liz Throssell who expressed the UN concern over the arrests on 24 July 2020 condemning the suggestive acts that authorities in Zimbabwe are  using the COVID-19 pandemic as a pretext to clamp down on freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

We take note of the 44th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council resolution A/HRC/44/L.18/Rev.1  which reaffirms that the same rights that people have offline must also be protected online, in particular, the right to freedom of opinion and expression;

We, therefore, echo the  laid out guidelines laid out inof Principle 20(1) and (2) of the Declaration Of Principles On Freedom Of Expression And Access To Information In Africa (the Declaration) adopted by the African Commission On Human And Peoples’ Rights at its 65th Ordinary Session held From 21 October to 10 November 2019 In Banjul, Gambia that the government of Zimbabwe must guarantee the safety of journalists and other media practitioners and take measures to prevent attacks on journalists and other media practitioners, including murder, extra-judicial killing, torture and other forms of ill-treatment, arbitrary arrest and detention, enforced disappearance, kidnapping, intimidation, threats and unlawful surveillance undertaken by State and non-State actors.

We also wish to highlight 24 other attacks on media practitioners as documented by the MISA Zimbabwe between March 30th and July 21st  2020 when Zimbabwe went on lockdown. Since then, 3 other journalists were reportedly harassed by the State security agents in Zimbabwe as at 26 July 2020. Journalists including Frank Chikowore and Samuel Takawira are facing prosecution and charged with violating social distancing regulations after attempting to interview three opposition youth leaders who had been abducted and assaulted by alleged security force agents.

We urge the Government of Zimbabwe to cease this obvious clampdown on freedom of expression and peaceful assembly especially leading up to the planned July 31, 2020 protest action. We refer to the Ministerial statement dated July 25, 2020, issued by Minister of Information, Publicity & Broadcasting Services- Hon. Monica Mutsvangwa, that explicitly states that Hopewell Chin’ono was not arrested for exposing corruption but rather for “using his social media accounts to incite Zimbabweans to violently overthrow the Government”. We wish to remind the Zimbabwean authorities of the aforementioned rights of citizens to assemble and protest peacefully; and the duty of law enforcement officers to provide the necessary protection during such times.

We call for the Government of Zimbabwe to withdraw all malicious prosecutions against media practitioners and to release  Hopewell Chin’ono and Jacob Ngarivhume, and to drop all charges against Frank Chiktowore and Samuel Takawira.

Further, we call upon the Government of Zimbabwe, especially during this crucial time of the COVID-19 pandemic- a matter of life and death, to respect and guarantee media freedoms by ceasing the unfair and unjustified intimidation of journalists to silence dissent. In addition, to avoid using the cover of ‘violating lockdown restrictions’ to mount violent attacks on media practitioners, at a time when citizens depend on them for news and information.

 Signed: Liberia Information Technology Student Union Association des Utilisateurs des TIC – ASUTIC (Senegal) Centre for Legal Support in Gambia.Equip Africa Integrated Development InitiativeAfroLeadershipVilles et Communes MagazineParadigm InitiativeGambia Cyber Security Alliance Centre for Human Rights, University of PretoriaCommittee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)Centre for Impact Advocacy (CiA)Afrotribune Association for Progressive Communications The Committee to Protect JournalistsFor more information about this statement, please contact: media@paradigmhq.org
Download Paradigm Initiative’s 2019 Digital Rights in Africa Report
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