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ICT University unveils ideal system for e-learning in Cameroon
March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mua Patrick Mughe*

The ICT University Cameroon is currently a running an e-learning programme which by no exaggeration is second to none in the country. The system, which is of global standard, was presented to a small group of newsmen during a visit to the institution’s Messasi-Yaounde campus Thursday.

The system is unique as it brings onboard simultaneously online and onsite learners during lectures, officials explained to the group of visiting journalists.

“Our system is innovative. E-learning is a novelty in our country and it gives students the flexibility to do their studies either onsite or online,” said ICT University’s Technology officer, Tani Schmidt Paul. Tani has a wealth of experience in Information and Communication Technologies, ICT.

He explained during Thursday’s visit that “there are a lot of students who want to work while studying, so with the eLearning program, they can actually be working and still following up their studies at the same time”.

“The system we offer here is a hybrid system where we integrate both the onsite and online students. They study simultaneously in real time,” he said of the programme before explaining that “…The advantage with e-learning is that the classes are all recorded and the students can always go back and listen to the records”.

“It is interactive; students can ask questions to the lecturers,” he added.

In addition, he continued: “We have what we call the plagiarism system, because most at times when we talk of online evaluation, people ask how examinations go about. So we have plagiarism softwares which are used in scanning the scripts of students once there are submitted. This is to check for plagiarism”.

“We have students taking lessons both in Cameroon and out of the country. We have students in Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Uganda and the US following classes right now,” Tani explained.

“Already, we have campuses in Uganda. We have three campuses in Uganda. Right now, we are in the process of opening a campus in Nigeria, Abuja and Guinea Bissau, Botswana…those are areas we are targeting to open campuses,” he announced.

Meanwhile, The ICT University Cameroon, it should be said operates a purely US-based curriculum to provide quality ICT and Managerial Human Capacity Development specially targeted for Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.

The ICT University is a vibrant institution which aims at imposing itself as premier destination for research, innovation and training of scholars relevant for the context of developing economies.

The ICT University does not only offer degrees in ICTs. Rather, the institution imparts knowledge of ICTs in all academic disciplines it offers.

For example, a business administration (marketing) student at ICT University will graduate with a very strong expertise on how to build state-of- the-art e-commerce and other online business websites.

Founded in 2010, The ICT University has multiple campuses of The ICT University Foundation, USA.

All ICT University Foundation campuses are based in developing countries.

The ICT University Foundation is registered and chartered in the State of Louisiana, USA.

The Foundation is the funding organ of all ICT University campuses.

It also funds donations of ICT equipment, E-Learning laboratories and E-Libraries for many universities based in the developing world in general and Africa in particular.

The headquarters of ICT University’s African campuses is based in Cameroon.

The University’s Cameroon campus is accredited by the Ministry of Higher Education in Cameroon.

Serving more than 15,000 students worldwide via on-site and online programs, the ICT University develops productive and relevant Diploma, Bachelors, Masters and Doctoral level scholars to utilize their research and training in solving the substantial problems in their countries.

With a plethora of programs at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels, including diploma and certification programs, the ICT University offers a dynamic and flexible learning environment that inspires innovation and creativity and places emphasis on student access.

The ICT University prides itself on offering an intimate, cutting edge campus environment disposing of all resources essential for producing tomorrow’s leading ICT experts, technopreneurs, renewable energy engineers, and business managers.

The university has also created collaborations, partnerships and exchange agreements with leading US, African and other international institutions that further enrich the academic, social and cultural diversity of our campus.

Students of the institution have quite a unique experience with the set of clubs and social activities for recreational purposes and community engagement work, seminars and a whole lot of other activities vital in ICT-U core values assimilation.

*Culled from The Guardian Post Newspaper, Cameroon

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Kenyans set for random coronavirus screening from Saturday
March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe

The government of Kenya on Saturday, March 21 will begin a random coronavirus screening for its citizens.

Health Minister Mutahi Kagwe said the screening process will be conducted by the Health Ministry in partnership with the Red Cross and security personnel. It will be carried out in targeted areas with an aim to trace 145 people who had contact with the seven people who tested positive for the virus.

“We will embark on random screening in targeted areas for members of the public starting Saturday, March 21. The exercise, that will be coordinated by the Ministry of health will involve other stakeholders such as Red cross, security personnel among others,” he stated.

The minister disclosed that the government is coming up with a team of dedicated experts, including the remaining Ebola champions to combat the virus which has claimed thousand lives since its outbreak.

Addressing the press conference on Thursday, Kagwe further divulged that the ministry has also embarked on disinfection of specific premises and locations in Nairobi. He also said the public health team is coordinating with the county governments to do the same within their counties.

He warned Kenyans against taking less serious the corona cases imploring them to maintain the hygiene and adhere to directive measures issued by the government and the World Health Organization.

“We want citizens to take this very seriously. As much as a lot of our people are not taking it lightly, there are those people—skeptic–who continue to pour doubt on the seriousness of our situation. I urge members of the Fourth Estate to educate and affirm that this situation is real,” he said.

He wondered why some people who have been asked to work from home, congregate in the entertainment joints, bars and restaurants instead of keeping distance saying the government is considering taking stern action against such joints.

“If we have been asked to take our children home and to isolate them, it did not mean that we now start taking them to shopping centres, markets and playgrounds, which is not what the intention is. The intention is to create social distance,” Kagwe insisted.

The government also reported that they have so far screened over 600, 000 people who have entered Kenya.

“We have tested 173 people out of which seven are the ones that have turned out positive. The seven are in stable conditions,” he said.

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No safety without water – fleeing violence in the Niger desert
March 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

A new settlement has risen from the Sahel sand in Eastern Niger, as more than 7,000 refugees and internally displaced persons have fled from the Boko Haram terrorist attacks, and have gathered in Waragou, seeking security and water.

Ambotcha Malam Dalo and her five children recently arrived in Waragou from their village after escaping a brutal attack.

“It was around 7 p.m. It was dark. All the men from our village were at the mosque. Armed men arrived and they killed 12 villagers. We were really scared,” said Ambotcha Malam Dalo. “We buried the 12 men and left the village.”

“We walked until we got here. We passed by other villages. We heard that Waragou was good and we kept walking until we got here,” she said.

The Malam family are one of over 150,000 families displaced in Niger. They left their houses and farmlands to find shelter in improvised huts. They look forward to returning home one day.      

In this desert region, many have fled for safety, but there is no safety without water.

In the Sahel, climate change is causing significant drought, and people must dig deeper and deeper for water. In Waragou, the traditional wells did not yield enough water for everyone.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development, or IFAD, along with the country of Norway, financed a water pumping station in Waragou, through a collaboration with the Government of Niger.

Along with new solar panels, the water from this pumping station is flowing at 15,000 litres per hour from a groundwater 62 meters deep.        

“With the arrival of this pumping station, even if there are lot of animals, you finish watering before evening,” said herder Salé Mahamadou. “We are really happy with this pumping station.”

Camels, cows, goats and their nomadic herders have historically come to this well-situated watering hole in the region, but with these new water troughs, the population has grown, and more displaced people are also heading to Waragou after hearing about the available water.

Scarce resources are prized here in the heart of the Sahel desert. Water management has traditionally caused tension and quarrels between farmers and herders. IFAD and its partners supported the creation of an autonomous management committee to ensure that the machinery is working properly, that labour is organized and that when disputes arise, they are solved efficiently.

“Now water is in abundance for everyone including refugees, nomads and animals,” said Boukar Walam Gori, the village chief of Waragou. “Thank God, no one is thirsty anymore. If we didn’t have the station, we would have had conflicts because we don’t have enough for all of us.”

The Malam family is recovering here while hoping to go back home. In these insecure times, with thousands fleeing their homes, these initiatives aim to mitigate the problems arising from water scarcity, and to bring peaceful solutions to thirsty people.

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Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism launches $2.2 mill project in Nigeria to boost fertilizer supply to 200,000 farmers
March 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

The trade credit guarantee project is AFFM’s first in the West African nation and will involve 10 fertilizer suppliers, 12 hub agro-dealers and 120 retail agro-dealers

ABUJA, Nigeria, March 16, 2020/ — The Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism (AFFM) has kick-started a $2.2 million project to provide fertilizer suppliers in Nigeria with financial support to improve supply for 200,000 smallholder farmers.

The trade credit guarantee project is AFFM’s first in the West African nation and will involve 10 fertilizer suppliers, 12 hub agro-dealers and 120 retail agro-dealers. The project will also train farmers in proper fertilizer use and other agricultural best practices.

A project launch held on 3 March in the capital Abuja, was attended by senior director of African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.org) Nigeria Regional Office, Ebrima Faal and government and industry partners.

Participants discussed the project and its implementation with AFFM’s local partner, the Africa Fertilizer and Agribusiness Partnership, or AFAP.

“We will leverage on existing networks and look for creative solutions to increase the availability of fertilizer in the country,” said Nana-Aisha Mohammed, AFAP’s representative at the ceremony.

Umar Musa, Assistant Director of FMARD’s Farm Inputs Support Services Department who represented the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) said AFAP should work with the Nigerian government and other actors in the fertilizer value chain to ensure that the project complies with Nigeria’s policies and sector strategies.

“We expect this project to support smallholder farmers and improve their productivity in order to help the country increase its local production and consumption of fertilizer,” he said.

“We are confident that the project will increase access to quality and affordable fertilizer by smallholder farmers and hence contribute to the transformation of the agriculture sector in Nigeria,” said Marie Claire Kalihangabo, AFFM Coordinator.

Kalihangabo expressed her gratitude to the Government of Nigeria for their financial support to the Africa Fertilizer Financing Mechanism.

The Bank’s Nigeria Regional Office Faal said the National Fertilizer Quality Control Act 2019 further serves to reinforce the government’s commitment to the sector.

“This program is timely because the government has placed measures to encourage local production of fertilizer,” he said.

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VLISCO GHANA ANNOUNCES SECOND EDITION OF ITS WOMEN’S MENTORING PROGRAM
March 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

  • Announcement made during Vlisco Women’s Month as part of the pan-African campaign theme ‘All women, all united’
  • Second year of mentoring program continues to empower Ghana’s most inspiring future female leaders
  • Over 150 young women attend a show-stopping event with mentoring sessions led by special guests and a panel discussion featuring all five past Vlisco ambassadors, designed to inspire attendees to achieve their professional goals
Mr. Stephen Badu, Vlisco Marketing Director

Ghana, 16th March 2020: Today, Dutch wax print specialist Vlisco announced the second edition of its Women’s Mentoring Program, designed to empower and support the brightest female talent across Ghana. To coincide with celebrations around International Women’s Day and Vlisco Women’s Month, Vlisco hosted an exclusive event at the World Trade Centre, Accra, inviting more than 150 young women and special guests to hear about the inspiring stories and experiences of experts and past Vlisco Ambassadors.

Vlisco has long been a brand that not only creates beautiful fabrics but also one that inspires and champions the role of women in our society. This led to the launch of the Vlisco Women’s Mentoring Program in 2019 with the aim of impacting the lives of young Ghanaian women by providing guidance on developing key skills in a variety of relevant areas. Following the success of the inaugural mentoring program, the ambition to create long-lasting impact with the women they seek to inspire, celebrating Ghanaian women and engaging future talent, remains.

Vlisco Marketing Director Mr. Stephen Badu elaborated on the mission to impact the lives of young Ghanaian women “2019 was a very exciting year as we launched the first Women’s Mentoring Program, and we had immense success and feedback from both the Ambassadors and their respective mentees. Our aim with the second edition is to extend this opportunity to more young women in Ghana who can be supported through the journey of achieving their goals via insights from women who have walked the path before them.”

During the first half of the event, the invited young women enjoyed two specialist mentoring sessions from Dzigbordi Dosoo, renowned businesswoman and co-creator of skincare brand Kanshi and Freda Obeng- Ampofo, founder of KAEME BodyCare. To provide an interactive learning experience, sessions covered key topics including gender balance and nurturing business relationships followed by a question and answer session with the young women in attendance.

Afterwards, special guests including customers and vendors of Vlisco joined the second half of the program which was hosted by notable MC, TV presenter and classical singer, Kokui Selormey.  The program entailed an engaging panel session featuring the former Vlisco ambassadors and 2019 mentees, sharing their positive experiences from the first program.

In true Vlisco fashion, three Ghanaian fashion designers showcased their latest collections interspersed with entertainment from musician Ekow Saxx, comedian Jacinta Asi Ocansey and band Afro Maestro. 

The program concluded with the announcement of five new mentees selected to participate in the 2020 edition of the Vlisco Women’s Mentoring Program. Each former Ambassador has been assigned one mentee as part of the year-long mentorship program, creating a forum where they can actively engage with and have a positive impact on the younger generation who aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Current ambassador Edith Uyovbukerhi noted, “It has been an incredible honour to have the opportunity to share my life and journey with my mentee, but it’s been a bigger privilege to be a part of her life and to impart into it. I have learnt from her and it has been a refreshing experience to watch her bloom so beautifully. I look forward to continuing this great experience with my new mentee.”

Mr. Badu concluded by citing examples of some of the work Ambassadors have engaged in such as Legacy Girls, an all-girls Senior High School Co-Founded by Mrs. Ellen Hagan (Vlisco Ambassador, 2013), The Young Educators Foundation & Spelling Bee by Eugenia Tachie-Menson (Vlisco Ambassador, 2014), The Girl’s Education Initiative of Ghana by Elizabeth Patterson (Vlisco Ambassador, 2015), Tech Needs Girls by Regina Honu (Vlisco Ambassador, 2016) and LittleBigSouls, charity for premature babies Co-Founded by Edith Uyovbukerhi (Vlisco Ambassador, current).

Also, during Women’s month 2020 Vlisco celebrates the power and unity of sisterhood. With the campaign motto ‘All women, all united’, Vlisco honours its ambassadors who work hard to motivate and empower other women. This motto is also included as a strong and bright embellishment in two exclusive Wax Hollandais and Super-Wax designs. The new campaign features four inspiring women and their powerful work to improve women’s lives in Togo, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ivory Coast. These women walk the extra mile to motivate and embolden other women to build a healthier, joyous and prosperous society.

Vlisco proudly presents these amazing women in a campaign that will be presented in Togo, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana and Ivory Coast, and to a global audience online. The campaign features billboards, TV commercials, video portraits and events dedicated to women who are making a difference.

The Women’s Month ‘All women, all united’ Vlisco Wax prints will be available exclusively at Vlisco stores.

Vlisco has been a Dutch printer of wax fabrics since 1846. Because of African women traders, the fabrics, originally intended for the Indonesian market, became part of African culture. They not only bought and sold the fabric, they also advised on colour and design. Moreover, they created names for the different prints and told stories about their meaning.

African women then bought the fabrics to turn into garments that expressed their identity. The market for Vlisco prints in Africa is an example of mass-customisation and individual self-expression. This is not fast fashion but sustainable made-to-measure.

Vlisco still has its home in Helmond, the Netherlands. The design team is international and chosen for their individual and varied style. The imaginative designs come from the designers themselves, but the interpretation and expression are purely African.


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African Development Bank’s road project in Sierra Leone cuts travel times and transforms lives
March 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

For truck driver Joseph Turay, navigating the 120 km Matotoka-Sefadu road in northeastern Sierra Leone used to be a nightmare. On average, he spent between five hours to one day on the road, which was last properly repaired nearly half a century ago.

Joseph and other drivers watched goods perish and vehicles destroyed before they reached their destination.

The rainy season brought more hazards. Large vehicles often overturned due to the potholed road surface, leading to fatalities and damage to goods. The remnants of overturned vehicles carrying cement, petrol, food or mining equipment were a common sight at the side of the road.

At the height of the rains, drivers could spend as much as three days on the road and few vehicles survived unscathed on the Matotoka-Sefadu road, which is a strategic artery connecting the administrative districts of Tonkolili and Kono in Sierra Leone. The road also forms part of the major highway linking Sierra Leone to Guinea and Liberia.

Turay, who is vice-chairman of the Matotoka Drivers Association, now has reason to smile. Support from the African Development Bank has helped to rehabilitate and expand the road, easing the movement of goods and people in the northern and eastern provinces of Sierra Leone.

From one day, it now takes two hours or less to travel the road. The road is safer and accidents have been minimized. Perishable products now get to their destination in good time,” Turay said, surrounded by a sea of excited drivers.

The road’s rehabilitation has also eased the transportation of minerals, including diamonds and iron ore, to the Sierra Leonean port of Nitti, thereby boosting mining activities and exports.

As lead financier, the Bank provided an African Development Fund loan and grant of $34 million, covering about 77 percent of the total project cost, excluding resettlement and compensation costs.

The Bank’s support covered 70 km of the road, generating socio-economic benefits to communities along the route.

The communities now have better access to health facilities, farms, markets and schools. Women stall holders along the roadside have reported an uptick in business. What’s more, bus services between the capital Freetown and Sefadu have resumed.

“Sales were low before the road was restored. I earn at least twice more than before,” said Hauwa Sesay, chairwoman of Matotoka Market.

As part of the project, new classroom blocks were constructed in three existing schools to increase enrolment and reduce overcrowding in classes. 

“The new classroom building in my school has made learning more enjoyable. My friends who couldn’t come to school have now returned,” said Abass Conteh, the head boy of the Roman Catholic Primary School in Makali, where a classroom block was built.

The National Minerals Agency estimates that diamond exports have increased since the road rehabilitation was completed in 2018, with improved access to mining sites in diamond-rich Kono district.

Officials say licenses for mining have leaped with renewed investor interest and the agency has now established an office in Kono to improve regulation and governance.

For now, Turay and the other drivers are still enjoying the novelty of the newly resurfaced road. As he starts up his vehicle to zoom off on another journey, his fellow drivers see him off with a cheer.  

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Renewable energy is key to sustainable development in the North-East, Nigeria – Otunba Babatunde Morakinyo
March 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Northern region of Nigeria is currently in need of development owing to the high rate of poverty in the region occasioned by decade-long insecurity, which has negatively affected the economy of the region.

Otunba Babatunde Morakinyo, the Chairman of Stomberg Power Limited, a leading provider of renewable energy across West-Africa believes the abundance of solar energy could be harnessed to drive a critical rehabilitation and growth process of in the region

ABUJA, Nigeria, March 12, 2020 /PRHandout/ — A recent report by the World Bank titled ‘Advancing social protection in a dynamic Nigeria’ has estimated that 87% of poor Nigerians live in the Northern part of the country. According to the World Bank, “Poverty in the northern regions of the country has been increasing especially in the north-west zone. Almost half of all poor lived in the north-west and the north accounts for 87 per cent of all poor in the country in 2016”.

The import of this data is that Nigeria as a country has a long way to go in achieving sustainable development. It should be taken into cognizance that the North is the larger of the two regions in the country and without fixi ng the North, we can’t fix Nigeria.

While reacting to this, Babatunde Morakinyo, Chairman of Stomberg Power believes that poverty in the North can be eradicated through harnessing the huge potentials presented by the abundance of solar energy in the region. Morakinyo, the Chairman of Stomberg Power belives that while security agencies battles Insurgency, economic development must go on at the same time in a bid to engage citizens productively.

In Babatunde Morakinyo’s words, “As a professional in the renewable energy sector, the North is well-positioned to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development through investment in renewable energy. Stomberg power limited has executed several landmark projects which have improved the quality of lives of the beneficiary. Currently, we are building a 100% off-grid power infrastructure for the soon to be completed Zamfara Airport which is the first the country and it’s estimated to create 250 jobs for unemployed youth in the state.” This, among our other initiatives across various North-eastern states will facilitate the rehabilitating displaced people affected by Boko Haram conflict.

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On International Women’s Day Dr. Jennifer Blanke, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development takes stock and answers 3 questions about African women and agriculture and gives us results from the ground in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Sudan
March 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

1. Can you tell the many observing International Women’s Day about the integral role women play in African agriculture?

It is well known that women form the backbone of Africa’s economies, and this is as true of agriculture as other areas. In many parts of Africa, well over half of the farmers are women and they are also are very active in value addition such as food processing, as well as in the agricultural service sector. And they do this often back breaking work while also carrying out the unpaid work of running households and child-rearing.

At the same time, women face an uphill battle in their access to resources. In many places they do not have the right to ownership of farmland, which holds back their ability to access finance for inputs like certified seeds, fertilizer and the equipment and machinery to maximize crop production.

International Women’s Day is a time to take stock of what is needed to level the proverbial agricultural playing field. As well as helping women to access financing, the Bank is also actively recruiting women “agripreneurs” to bring their agribusiness proposals to our Enable Youth Program, including activities like the African Youth Agripreneurs Forum and AgriPitch competition. These provide a platform for young women and men with great ideas and ongoing activities in agriculture and agribusiness to scale up the scope and impact of their activities – AgriPitch competition winners take home their shares of a total of more than $70,000 of competition “seed funding” to grow their businesses.

2. You’ve just been on mission looking at how the Bank’s Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative has positively impacted lives – including hearing the stories from women smallholder farmers. What can we learn about their experiences?

TAAT is an initiative that aims to bring the latest technologies to African farmers at scale so that they can increase yields and improve their livelihoods. For example drought resistant maize, heat resistant wheat and treatments against pests like the fall armyworm, which has been devastating crops across the continent. Our fact-finding mission to Zambia, Zimbabwe and Sudan included town-hall style meetings where women were eager to share their experiences and challenges, and also to get information on how best to improve their crops and increase family revenue.

The discussions were eye opening as we literally walked the walk with these women farmers participating in TAAT. Dwarfed by almost two-meter high maize plants in Mushandike, Zimbabwe, smallholder farmer Gertrude Marisa was beaming with pride as she showed us her healthy maize of the season, grown from an improved variety of drought-resistant maize, which survived a recent drought and also left her stalks virtually untouched by fall armyworm. We spoke with several women with similar stories, all of whom will reinvest the greater part of their hard-earned revenue into their families and the education of their children. I have to say that it is moments like these, when we see how we are truly improving the lives of Africans, that make all of the hard work in development finance worth it.

Following the successful implementation of the 2018/19 planned TAAT wheat seed activities in Sudan, private and public seed enterprises have grown over 850 tonnes of basic seed of five popular wheat varieties, namely Imam, Goumria, Zakia, Elnielain and Bohaine. They have grown this wheat varieties on more than 8,500 hectares in five wheat-growing regions of the country.

As a result of this activity, more than 26,000 tons of certified seeds produced were distributed to more than 260,000 wheat farmers in the following season. 

Thanks to the new varieties such as Imam, Zakia and Bohain, Sudan’s wheat-growing area in 2018/19 saw a sharp rise to around 294,000 hectares. This is up from 201,000 hectares in 2017/18.

3. The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.” To what degree is this theme relevant to the Bank’s work?

The Bank is making efforts towards gender equality in its operations, initiatives and procurement across the continent. This priority is inter-generational, with the goal of providing all women with equal opportunity and access in areas such as education, high-tech skilling, finance and gainful employment.

Africa has the highest percentage of women entrepreneurs in the world. However, women in Africa face a $42 billion financing gap compared to men. The Bank’s Affirmative Action for Women in Africa program, or AFAWA, aims to bridge that gap by rolling out programs that create a level playing field for women in obtaining finance for developing their businesses. The recent announcement of more than a quarter-billion-U.S. dollars from France and other G7 nations in support of AFAWA will significantly accelerate this goal.

In terms of skilling, the Bank’s Coding for Employment initiative, carried out in partnership with Microsoft, Facebook and the Rockefeller Foundation – which provides month-long classes in basic communications technology and other computer literacy skills – graduated its first all-women cohort of students in Nigeria last year. In 2020, we plan to roll out nine coding centers of excellence across Africa and a major goal will be to broaden opportunities for African women across generations.

*AFDB

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Civil Society Organization set to Salvage Zimbabwe’s Economy with Rwanda and Mauritius As Role Models
March 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Wadzai Mangoma

A Civil Society Organisation  [VISET]headed by Wadzai Mangoma which vitiated on a holistic strategic plan to push for an agenda on dialogue is pervading the idea of economic development through support , empowerment and protection of Zimbabwe’s small to medium enterprises and women by engaging dialogues country-wide .

Speaking in Harare on Friday 7 March at a local hotel Mangoma an economic solutions enthusiast highlighted, elaborated and reiterated that the Zimbabwean economy is head forwarded in its sustenance and resilience to harsh forces by Small Middle Enterprises. These are mainly headed to an exponential increase of 57% women who are doing business as business.

‘’The Zimbabwean economy is dominated by women of business fabric whom we need to give support, protect and empower through various resources in our midst. Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation [VISET] brings together civil society , SME  [Small  Medium Enterprises]’ , Vendors , and Government on the platform to work together in pushing for an agenda meant to support , protect and empower women nation-wide ‘’.

‘’We are rotating right round the country preaching on the need for economic development. The country must be pushed by an initiative meant to give vendors and SMEs their rights.  The economy is 90% in informal which tells alot about their importance in economic development , growth  , Gross Domestic Product increase and empowerment of women and all those in business ‘’.

He pointed out that Zimbabwe’s open for Business mantra is super strategy to push economic growth , development and lift people out of poverty  but it is marred by some political elements gaining for themselves support at the end corrupting systems meant to support people in business .

‘’These people I mean to say are  those working to pave a way for economic growth , development and raising the GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT and Growth / per –capita . It is pathetic to note that these people are always in trouble, their rights abused and delayed in business development. Government takes time to make process of their papers , get licenses and proper legal areas where to run their business legally and well protected with all the  security they need’’.

A Development Practitioner Darlington Muyambwa said Zimbabwe must strategize on simple, clear and easy for business policies which makes it easy for people who want to be in business get licenses and be in legal spaces where they do business without police interference, abuse of their rights and un-equal termination of their contracts.

‘’Zimbabwe must have flexible policies which makes it easy for vendors and SME’s run their businesses in a peaceful environment. In countries like Mauritius and Rwanda it is easy for business starters to get licenses. These countries have made it on the World map because they are economically growing fast . This is what Zimbabwe must do , follow and learn from  said the development person ‘’.

ZIMCODD [Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and DEevelopment] Director a prominent Humanitarian and economic expert Janet Zhou pointed out on the need for equal platform reforms which balance  everyone in  business and those starting businesses in the country . She said obstacles removal is a way-forward for Zimbabwean businesses to grow and develop.

‘’Business reforms once done and well followed in principle, this can make our business sector vibrant and well . However, there is need to remove obstacles and barriers in economic growth and development in order to uplift people out of absolute poverty and vulnerability.’’

‘’Other countries have done well through reforms, dialogues and removing obstacles in the development of small businesses. This comes with good well-crafted policies which get successfully implemented on the ground . One good example is Rwanda which has successfully done well. Off-course still they are challenges with us but with the abundant resources we have , we make it to become a middle income economy by 2030 .’’

In discussion delegates blame it on corruption which has taken much of wealth out of the country.  Tashinga Zamba supports it that corruption is the challenge that affects the well-orchestrated movement of small to medium enterprises in the country.

‘’Corruption has eaten much into the development of small businesses. This is the main challenge we have. As long corruption is increasing in many countries especially in developing countries it is difficult to realize development of small businesses ‘’

Discussant Tafadzwa Macheka of Youth Empowerment Trust supports youth empowerment through dialogue engagement, participation and inclusivity of young people in all developments

‘’ Engagement of youth is no doubt a way-forward  but there is need for holistic approach to equally engage , empower , participate and include them in all developments at national level .’’

The one day symposium was attended by civil society, media , small business operators , women in vending business , youth , government officials from mainly three Ministries , Ministry of Women Affairs and Small Medium Enterprises , Ministry of Youth and Indigenization and Ministry of Industry and Commerce .

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Mozambique:Population affected by cyclone idai remains desperate
March 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos

The population affected by Cyclone Idai, in the province of Sofala, centre of Mozambique, in March last year, continues to struggle for their survival, having no idea when the situation may return to normal.

Pan African Visions has witnessed situations of people still sleeping outdoors or in small tents and with reports of conditioned feeding.

“I and over 1300 families were at the accommodation centre in Nhamatanda, but in mid-February we were guided back to our homes,” said José Choca. “I honestly felt good there than here because I have no conditions.”

According to Choca, 67, on the day of the deactivation of the accommodation centre, a kit containing food and essential hygiene products was given, but “it was almost over.

“I don’t even know where else to go for it,” he said, adding that survival has been difficult, but thanks to his eldest son the impact has not been significant.

“I live with my wife, son and a niece. It’s my son who minimizes hunger with his peace jobs.”

Choca is one of the lucky ones who will benefit from the help of the PANTERA Association that is donating first aid kits, shelter material, clothing and other items in support of flood victims in Sofala province.

The Association’s representative in Mozambique, Quim Cruz, said the donation, valued at around $ 100,000, aims to alleviate the suffering of families affected by the floods.

“This aid will be very important,” said Choca, who regretted the lack of support from the Mozambican state. “If it weren’t for third parties, we would already be dead by or starving or cholera”.

The local hospital of reference is also in recovery. The reconstruction process of the Beira Central Hospital post-cyclone Idai is expected to be completed later this year and is dependent on the goodwill of the cooperation partners in disbursing the funds.

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Witnessing the Hell That a Migrant Can Face
March 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Vijay Prashad*

A young Somali woman recently arrived in Yemen. Somalis made up roughly eight per cent of the 138,000 migrants who arrived in Yemen last year; 92 per cent were Ethiopian. Photo: IOM 2019 

At Obock, Djibouti, 2,000 migrants gather each day along the waters of the Gulf of Aden; they look for boats to get them to Yemen. Over the past two years, more migrants from Africa have used the “Eastern Route” rather than go across the Mediterranean Sea; according to the UN’s migration agency—International Organization for Migration—this Eastern Route is now the “busiest maritime migration path on earth.” Roughly 11,500 people got on boats at places like Obock and Bosasso, Somalia, to go into Yemen, and then overland to Saudi Arabia, where they hope to get employment.

Ethiopia

Outside the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is typically thought of as a country of distress due to the 1983-85 famine that wracked the country. But over the past few years, according to World Bank numbers, Ethiopia has been one of the fastest-growing countries in the world (after Myanmar and China). On July 18, 2019, the director of the International Monetary Fund’s African Department Abebe Aemro Selassie gave a presentation at the Ethiopian Economics Association. In his presentation, Selassie said that the key reasons why Ethiopia has seen such high growth have been improvements in the productivity of labor and increased investment in capital stock (factories, infrastructure). To make these gains, Ethiopia had to borrow, which has now put it in a position of debt vulnerability.

If you just look at the numbers, Ethiopia is doing great. But, not for people in the rural districts, where agrarian distress remains a fact of life. Of those who use the Eastern Route to migrate, over 90 percent come from Ethiopia, and most of them from the rural districts of Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray. The World Food Program and the Ethiopian government’s data shows us that these districts face terrible food insecurity and that there is a high level of food energy deficiency per adult in rural Ethiopia, with Amhara and Tigray leading the way. There has been barely any exit from the long-term crisis of agriculture in Ethiopia, whose lands are now increasingly threatened by corporations from India and Saudi Arabia and by shifts in the climate.

Neoliberal policies have enabled Ethiopia to grow quickly, but this growth has not been pro-people, certainly not the people of the rural districts of Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray, from where the main migration has been taking place.

Djibouti

Djibouti, at the tip of the Horn of Africa, within sight of Yemen, is one of the smallest countries in the world. But it is located at a strategic vantage, at the entrance of the Red Sea. That is the reason why it has been home to a very large United States military base—at Camp Lemonnier. But the U.S. base is no longer the only one; there are substantial bases for the militaries of China, France, Italy, and Japan.

For years, there was concern about the rise of piracy in the water off the Horn of Africa, with pirates from Somalia being seen as a major threat to global shipping. But, over the past decade, piracy here has decreased in these waters as it has decreased worldwide. It is clear that none of these bases are in Djibouti to deter piracy, which is their stated goal. They are there because of the geopolitical tensions around the Gulf region.

India and Saudi Arabia are building their own bases in Djibouti, with the Saudis even looking at Obock for land. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), which is prosecuting the war in Yemen with Saudi Arabia, already has military bases in Eritrea, Somaliland, and Somalia.

Despite the presence of these forces in such a small country, there is no effective way to prevent the migration of thousands of Ethiopians through Djibouti to Yemen. Neither the ports nor the waters are barriers to this human exodus.

Yemen

The Saudi-UAE war on Yemen has been going on for five years. On February 23, the parties to the conflict met in Jordan to agree on a prisoner exchange; this fulfills some of the commitments made in the Stockholm Agreement of 2018. A medical air bridge has allowed a handful of critically ill patients to be taken out of Yemen’s capital of Sana’a, while the port of Hudaydah is largely left free for necessary humanitarian goods to enter the country. Almost all of Yemen’s people are reliant upon these humanitarian goods for basic survival.

Despite this relatively good news, violence has escalated in certain key districts of Yemen over the past two weeks. Since January, 35,000 Yemenis have been displaced from their homes, an indicator of the dangerous situation in the country.

It is into this cauldron that the Ethiopian migrants come. Crossing the Red Sea is not easy, since the boats are insufficient and overcrowded; migrants who make it to Yemen report that they have seen people leap off the boats to certain death because of the terrible situation that they face. In March 2017, a UAE-Saudi helicopter fired at a boat carrying Somali migrants—killing at least 42 people; there are additional reports of this kind of activity along the Yemeni shoreline.

In Yemen, the migrants are held in detention camps, where they are abused by human traffickers and by other gangsters. Migrants in these camps, including in Aden, face extortion—if they cannot pay the guards, they are beaten, raped, and held indefinitely. When the spotlight is shone on any one of these camps, it closes and another opens elsewhere.

Saudi Arabia

If the migrants somehow make it to Saudi Arabia, the terror continues. Smugglers take the migrants into Saudi Arabia’s Jizan Province; often the migrants are made to carry qat (a stimulant grown in Eastern Africa) across the border. They are often shot at by Saudi border guards and—if caught—are either ransomed or held in places such as Jizan Central Prison (which might as well be a detention camp).

Saudi Arabia and Ethiopia have a strangely symbiotic relationship. Saudi Arabia relies upon at least 400,000 Ethiopian workers, who come to do a variety of jobs in the kingdom. But, every few years, Saudi Arabia deports these workers. In 2013, the Saudi government removed 100,000 Ethiopian workers; they were deemed to be “illegal,” arrested, and removed in chartered flights. Then, slowly, Ethiopian workers returned, now with lower wages and almost no rights. In March 2017, Saudi Arabia deported 260,000 Ethiopians. These deportations are a disciplinary mechanism, a way to keep the Ethiopian migrants on their toes.

Ethiopia conducted agreements with Saudi Arabia (2017) and the UAE (2018) to ensure protections for their citizens, but there is little evidence that this is helping. Both Saudi Arabia and the UAE have been putting billions of dollars into the National Bank of Ethiopia and into its government, part of the foreign direct investment (FDI) that has heated up the Ethiopian economy. Given this money, it is impossible to imagine the government of Ethiopia standing up for its citizens in the Gulf.

The boats from Obock, Djibouti, will continue to ply their trade; Ethiopians will continue to travel the Eastern Route into Saudi Arabia. No plans are afoot inside Ethiopia to be able to generate employment to hold the population in place, and there are certainly no plans in Saudi Arabia to improve the conditions of its workers.

There is a demonstration of values here: when workers come to Saudi Arabia, they have to travel by the dangerous waters and through war-torn Yemen; when they get deported, they are flown home by aircraft.

*Source: Independent Media Institute .This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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Zimbabwe: African Development Bank Executive Directors conduct consultative mission, tour project sites
February 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
Left to Right: Bank Executive Directors Paal Bjornestad, Amos Kipronoh Cheptoo (partly hidden), Mmakgoshi Lekhethe, Judith Kateera, Mbuyami Ilankir Matungulu, Zimbabwe President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Finance and Economic Development Minister Professor Mthuli Ncube
The delegation also met officials from various ministries, civil society, private sector and multilateral financial institutions

HARARE, Zimbabwe, February 26, 2020/ — A seven-member delegation of Executive Directors of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) visited Zimbabwe on a week-long fact-finding mission where they held meetings with a number of officials including President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

The delegation also met officials from various ministries, civil society, private sector and multilateral financial institutions, during which they were briefed on the current macro-economic, social and political environment in the southern African nation.

During the meeting with President Mnangagwa, the delegation appreciated ongoing reform efforts initiated since January 2019 as part of the government’s Transitional Stabilization Program 2018 -2020 under the IMF Staff Monitored Program (May 2019 – March 2020). They welcomed the president’s pledge to recalibrate the Program, which aims to implement a coherent set of policies that facilitate a return to macroeconomic stability.

The reforms include introducing necessary policy and institutional reforms for private sector-led growth, addressing infrastructure gaps, and launching quick-wins to stimulate and restore growth.

“I would like to express my gratitude to the Bank for the commitment towards Zimbabwe. We need more assistance as a country, more so, as we embarked on substantive economic reforms based only on domestic resources without help from the international community,” said President Mnangagwa.

The directors noted that despite some positive results, reform coordination in the country remains a challenge, against a backdrop of a continuing general rise in poverty levels, especially in the urban areas.

Zimbabwe is also still feeling the after effects of Cyclone Idai, which hit the country in March 2019, and the 2019/20 drought, which has left more than 8.5 million people (3 million of whom are in urban areas), food insecure.

The delegation also visited several Bank-funded projects, including the Post Cyclone Idai Emergency Recovery and Resilience Programme (PCIREP), implemented in the Chimanimani district, which was severely affected by Cyclone Idai. The project, funded to the tune of 24.7 million, focuses on public infrastructure interventions aimed at re-establishing sustainable livelihoods and kick-starting economic activities of the affected population.

They commended the government’s rebuilding efforts in Chimanimani and other parts of the country, and reiterated the Bank’s commitment to the people of Zimbabwe and the country’ economic development agenda.

The group urged perseverance in the implementation of reforms and called for early normalization of relations with development partners, which would help unlock more substantive external resources for Zimbabwe, including from the African Development Bank.

Travelling to Zimbabwe were Mbuyami Matungulu who represents a constituency covering Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo and Democratic Republic of Congo); Judith Kateera representing Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe; Kenyeh Barlay for Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Sudan; Paal Bjornestad for Denmark, Finland, India, Norway and Sweden; Amod Kipronoh Cheptoo, for Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda); and  Mmakgoshi Lekhethe, for Eswatini, Lesotho and South Africa.

Eugenio Paulo, Senior ED Advisor, and Josephine Ngure, Acting Director General (RDGS) also participated in the mission.
*AFDB
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