Banishing blinding trachoma in Egypt
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
Antibiotics to treat the world’s leading infectious cause of blindness have been delivered to nearly 300,000 people in Egypt. It was the first mass drug administration (MDA) of its kind in the country for trachoma and is crucial in preventing children and adults from going needlessly blind. It was delivered by the ministry of health and district level governates, with other organisations such as Sightsavers and other NGOs playing a vital role in distribution and facilitating its success.
Trachoma is an infectious and painful condition, which traps millions of people in a cycle of poverty because they are often unable to work. Over 1.7 million people in Egypt are at risk of trachoma, and a further 11 million live in areas where the disease is endemic, according to surveys taken in 2015.
To tackle the disease, community programmes have raised awareness and understanding of trachoma and how to prevent it, but until now no drugs had been mass distributed.
Egypt has a successful track-record in treating other neglected tropical diseases (NTDs). It was the first country in the Eastern Mediterranean to eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis (aka elephantiasis) and has made inroads to eliminating Schistosomiasis (snail fever). It is hoped this experience will help the country eliminate trachoma as a public health problem.
Philip Downs, Sightsavers’ Technical Director for NTDs said:
“This is a real milestone for public health in Egypt. Blinding trachoma has been causing suffering in Egypt since the age of the Pharaohs – yet could very soon be banished to the history books if it is made a priority.”
“This is the first time there has been such a large-scale distribution of antibiotics in the country. The Egyptian government, regional governments and other partners, have done a fantastic job to make this happen and proved that collaboration is key to overcoming challenges.
“But it’s important to remember that this is just the first step – more work is needed before Egypt follows in the footsteps of other countries and eliminates trachoma.”
The first trachoma MDA in Egypt happened in Matay, in the Menia region, at the end of July, where nearly 10 per cent of children aged one to nine had symptoms of the disease. Over the course of seven days health workers distributed doses of the antibiotic Zithromax®, donated by Pfizer, to 288,365 people aged six months and up. Children under seven received their dose in the form of syrup. Teams issued medical advice as well as distributed the antibiotics, and included a nurse and a recorder. The teams went house to house in 24 villages and three suburban areas, travelling across difficult terrain, to villages nestled into the base of mountains, and even visited a Matay prison, where the director of health personally took a dose of the antibiotic in front of prisoners to encourage acceptance.
The 468 health workers also prepared communities for the drug distribution and shared information about trachoma through local media, social media, community leaders, policy makers, faith leaders, and other community organisations.
Dr Ahmed Mousa, Chairman of Nourseen, on the frontline of delivering the programme, said this community engagement was key to the success of the programme as it meant people knew what to expect and why it was important. He added: “The community was very receptive to receiving the drugs and the distribution went smoothly. Health education helps reduce a certain amount, but you need the drug to treat a big slice of the community all at once.”
The treatment programme was delivered by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and district level governates, and was the result of a global collaboration with international organisations including Sightsavers, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Nourseen foundation, KCCO and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). Local government and NGOs played a vital role in distribution and facilitating the success of the treatment programme.
For more information about the global drive to eliminate trachoma please visit https://www.sightsavers.org/protecting-sight/ntds/towards-trachoma-elimination/
For images and/or more information please call 01444 446739 or email Katya Mira at email@example.com
Notes to Editors
- Funders of the MDA in Egypt are the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Population and the Menia governorates in the Matay district, with Zithromax® provided by Pfizer and the International Trachoma Initiative (ITI). The project was made possible through a partnership with Sightsavers, the World Health Organisation, Nourseen Charity Foundation for Community Ophthalmology, Kilimanjaro Centre for Community Ophthalmology (KCCO) and ITI.
- If momentum continues, trachoma could be just years away from elimination. In 2012 Oman became the first country WHO validated as having eliminated trachoma as a public health problem, followed by Morocco in 2016, then Mexico, Cambodia and Laos in 2017, and most recently Ghana, Iran and Nepal in 2018. China, Togo, The Gambia and Myanmar are also believed to be on the cusp of elimination.
Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent blindness, restore sight and advocate for social inclusion and equal rights for people with disabilities. It is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) www.sightsavers.org
Sightsavers holds Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status, making us one of the only international non-governmental organisations to hold this status in the UK. We conduct high quality research to address global gaps in knowledge and put research findings into practice by feeding them back into the design of our programmes.
There are 36 million blind people in the world; 75% of all blindness can be prevented or cured.
In the six decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:
- Supported over 1.1 BILLION treatments for neglected tropical diseases
- Carried out over 10.2 million operations to restore sight
- Trained more than 795,427 primary eye care workers
- Carried out rehabilitation training for 225,954 blind or low vision beneficiaries
- Supported 62,908 blind or low vision children to gain a school education
Reaching global financial inclusion by 2020 is almost impossible
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Ferdinand Maniraguha
International organizations have that admitted reaching hundred percent financial inclusion by 2020 is not possible though much has been done since that vision has been set.
At the 2015 World Bank Group-IMF Spring Meetings, they adopted measurable commitments to achieve Universal Financial Access by 2020 and help promote financial inclusion.
In 2011, 2.5 billion people were unbanked according to World Bank. That number reduced to 1.7 billion by 2017.
Dr Alfred Hannig, executive director of the Alliance for Financial Inclusion (AFI) says that such objective is unlikely to be achieved on time.
He was speaking Tuesday at a press conference in Kigali, before a two day AFI Global policy forum 2019 program which kicked off this Thursday.
“I believe that this objectives have been quite optimistic , the timeline was very short and from our own experience, we can say that if you talk about hundred percent inclusion, we need to recognize that this take time”, he said
However, Hannig praised the decision of having set such vision, because it helped to put much efforts into bridging the gap between banked people and unbanked.
“From our point of view, the time that has been given it’s a little bit too short to achieve. On the other hand, the 2020 objective was also important looking to access to finance. The question is how can we achieve it in a very short time.”
He stressed that global financial inclusion may take up to 2030 to be achieved.
During the opening of 2019 AFI Global policy forum, Rwanda’s Prime Minister Dr Edouard Ngirente urged countries to shift their focus on digital finance by bringing youth on the run.
He said that in Sub-Saharan Africa, over 60% of the population fall below age of 25, most of them are less likely to have a bank account compared to adults.
Bringing youth on board, Dr Ngirente said that financial institutions have to use technology which attract them.
“In this regard, financial literacy could be the starting point in this process since many of the youth have a keen interest in digital channel, digital financial services accessed and delivered through their mobile phones, could be the solution to banking them” said Ngirente.
One of the problems that still hinders financial inclusion, is a big number of women who are unbanked, because 56% of the unbanked population are women.
Rwanda Central Bank Governor, John Rwangombwa warned that the SDG 5 will not be achieved if women are excluded financially.
SDG5 on Gender and Equality, aims at bringing to an end all forms of discrimination against women and girls.
“These numbers imply that strong measures must be taken to create a conducive environment, for women to participate and benefit from all development opportunities” he said before adding that “Having access to quality and affordable financial products and services is a foundation to the efforts to promote gender equality.”
AFI says that since 2011 there is a 9 % gender gap in financial inclusion globally that needs to be bridged.
Withdrawal of Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame from the World Economic Forum in South Africa Last Week was an Honorable Act for Africa
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
By James N. Kariuki
On Friday last week in one of South Africa’s national newspapers, The Citizen, Ralph Mathekga, usually insightful political analyst, was reported to have rebuked Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame for declining an invitation to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town.
The issue at hand related to African reaction to the on-going xenophobic attacks on non-South African nationals in SA. In Mathekga’s view, Kagame’s response to the attacks reflected ‘weak leadership’ and lack of ‘political maturity’ in Africa. In assessing the facts realistically, such a conclusion was not only unduly harsh; it was misleading, unjustified and disingenuous.
To begin with, besides Rwanda other African states had voiced grave reservations about attending the WEF under the prevailing circumstances in SA. These included Nigeria, Malawi, the DRC, Zambia and Tanzania. Kagame was hardly alone. More to the point, he had nothing to do with the causes, spread and execution of the xenophobic carnage and had virtually no influence over its perpetrators. After all, South Africa is a sovereign nation. The only avenue available to Kagame was indirect influence via the local South African authorities.
Yet, no utterances were forthcoming from the SA Government officialdom or the organizers of WEF that a plan was underway to stem or alleviate the impact of the savage and senseless attacks on innocent and defenseless fellow Africans. Obviously Kagame felt helpless and frustrated that the WEF seemed to be bent on proceeding as if nothing alarmingly critical was happening in its host country.
Mathekga’s reasoning would have been sound had it proposed that an urgent consultative meeting of African leaders be called by the SA government just before, or along the WEF, to discuss on emergency basis the crisis of the on-going Afrophobia-driven brutality. In the absence of the African Union in the WEF, the obligation to solicit such give-and-take views from other African leaders rested squarely on the shoulders of the host, President Cyril Ramaphosa. President Kagame was certainly not in a position to summon such a sub-meeting; he was a guest, not the man-in-charge. To repeat ourselves, South Africa is a young sovereign nation and is understandably ultra-sensitive to matters touching its jurisdiction.
By all indications, a give-and-take meeting of African leaders at, or parallel to the WEF, was not forthcoming. Conceivably, President Kagame felt that it would be a betrayal to his personal conscience and the people of Rwanda for him to sit among global leaders to discuss economic issues while innocent fellow Africans around them were being decimated with impunity. Meanwhile, the global leaders would be sitting at the majestic International Convention Center in Cape Town, securely protected by state security forces, possibly oblivious to the woes of the violence outside.
Viewed from this angle, President Kagame’s conscious and deliberate choice to formally exclude himself from Cape Town’s WEF was a carefully considered act of ultimate decency, political maturity, and diplomatic savvy. It was his way of protesting how victimized ‘foreigners’ in SA were being handled virtually indifferently by the country’s officialdom and to inform the victims of Afro-phobia that, “yes, we hear you and we do care. Indeed, you matter to us.”
Such a reaction is truly understandable coming from a leader who, in all likelihood, still encounters occasional sleepless nights, haunted by memories of man’s savagery to fellow man from the ghastly Rwanda Genocide which took place twenty five years ago and senselessly wiped out ten percent of his nation’s population.
It was indeed a misplaced judgment for Mathekga, otherwise a seasoned and compelling political analyst, to condemn President Kagame for finding it unacceptable to visualize himself sitting in an economic meeting while innocent people outside faced war conditions of life and death.
Seen in this context, President Kagame’s self-imposed ‘exclusion’ from WEF was indeed a dignified and decent diplomatic act to show that he, as a mature and committed African leader, drew the line in the sand to assert that what was happening in SA at that juncture was far from acceptable. To see this gesture any other way than honorable, verges on blaming the victim.
*James N. Kariuki is a Kenyan Professor of International Relations (Emeritus). He comments on public issues in various international publications.He runs the blog Global Africa
China donates rice to South Sudan to accelerate unification of army
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – China has handed over 1,500 tonnes of rice to the South Sudan government to assist the peace process and formation of unified army in the youngest world country.
In order to support South Sudan in implementing the revitalized peace agreement (RARCSS), the Chinese government decided to provide a batch of material assistance to South Sudan.
The National Period Transitional Committee (NPTC), body tasked with peace implementation received a first batch of 1,500 tons of rice aided by China, that will help the construction of cantonments and accelerate the formation of a unified army as the country’s 5-year civil war comes to an end.
On September 2, the handover ceremony of the first batch of food was held at the warehouse of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) in Juba.
The 30,000 sacks of rice will be transported to the army forces in the cantonment sites across the country. There are about 25 cantonment sites in the country, created by the 2018 peace deal.
The China’s assistance is in line with an effort to faster the implementation of security arrangement to pave way to have one unified army in the country.
The latest peace deal signed between South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition groups last year is now in its implementation stage.
The Chinese government hope that South Sudan will restore peace and stability at an early date. The China to take the lead in providing material assistance for the construction of cantonments together with AU and some African countries.
It is only two months left for the formation of unity government that return Dr. Riek Machar, as the president Kiir’s deputy, the same position he held before the conflict broke in late 2013.
At present, China is speeding up the preparation of other material assistance, including tents, blankets and medicine, and they will be delivered to South Sudan respectively.
The handover ceremony was attended by Chinese Ambassador Hua Ning, Hon. Cabinet Minister and Secretary of NPTC Martin Elia Lomuro, and representatives from JDB, JMCC, and JTSC representatives.
Speaking to the press, Chinese Ambassador, Hua Ning said that the peace process has entered into a critical moment, and the formation of a unified army is one of the most pressing issues at present.
Ambassador added that the assistance is an effort to move the peace process forward so that the transitional government is formed on time. This is a first shipment of the food, but Amb. Ning lamented that there will be more [foods] coming to South Sudan.
“The signatories have to choose the suffering of the people, at meanwhile we also hope that most of the countries could provide direct support to the cantonments, to unification of the army. This is a key to the future peace – without the unified army, there will be no true peace so that why we put cantonments as our priority – that why a China promised to provide support for cantonments,” said Amb. Ning.
He further called on all parties to peace deal to listen to the voice of the people and unite to implement the peace deal, giving peace a chance and giving people a hope.
“Now, we have only two months before the formation of new transitional government and all the members and the parties to the peace deal need to work together and double our efforts to put forward the peace process. I believe that the feel of the people, just the feel of the country and we believe that with joint efforts, South Sudan will enjoy a peaceful and prosperous future,” said Amb. Ning.
Amb. Ning appreciated the recent support from the African Union and relevant African countries to provide support to South Sudan and called on the international community to increase efforts in supporting peace in South Sudan in all aspects to see that the country is returning to a stability path.
“I believe that the international community are still committed to the peace process, [but] at this critical moment, the international community also need to double its efforts to support the parties to the peace agreement in South Sudan. We work together to give a peace a chance,” said Ning.
On behalf of the South Sudanese Government and NPTC, Cabinet Minister Elia thanked the Chinese government and people for their valuable support and stressed that China’s assistance will greatly promote the South Sudan peace process.
Minister Elia said that the trucks and planes from South Sudan People’s Defence Force are ready to go, and the first batch of rice aided by China will be transported to the cantonments as quickly as possible, and that each cantonment will receive over 700 bags of rice to maintain the forces in the country.
He further unveiled that the NPTC gave a necessary money to transport the food to the army across country so that next two months, there must be unified forces.
“The South Sudan People’s Defence Force (SSPDF) has contributed their vehicles and planes and the NPTC gave a necessary money to transport the food all over the country so that in next two months, we have unified forces,” said Minister Elia. “We have committed ourselves that any country helps us, we will work to the higher standard for accountability and transparency,” he added.
Minister Elia also advised all the parties to the peace deal to resolves local problems in the areas, something he says they would not tolerate anything going wrong to deter the peace process in the areas, there are cantonments.
The NPTC is working closely with Joint Defense Board (JDB), JMCC, JTSC and other mechanisms to develop a detailed distribution plan to ensure the proper and effective use of materials.
One of South Sudan’s other challenges is its poor road network. Getting the donated rice to the cantonment areas remains a challenge.
But Lt Gen. Charles Dut Akol, Chairperson of the JMCC explained that the rice that is going to Greater Equatoria will be transported by roads, while for Greater Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazel regions respectively will be delivered by air.
Gen. Dut assured that there would no malpractice on this donation, saying the food must reach the forces in the cantonment sites.
However, South Sudan hopes rice aid can make an impact on the maintaining of the forces at the cantonment sites across the country.
At present, China is speeding up the preparation of other material assistance, including tents, blankets and medicine, and they will be delivered to South Sudan respectively.
The formation of unity government was then extended in May to November this year, following the unfinished issues, including the security arrangement which is a backbone for the lasting peace in the country.
South Sudan; President Kiir, Machar agree on deployment of Forces before D-Day
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan president Salva Kiir and ex-rebel leader Dr. Riek Machar have agreed on the deployment of all forces before the formation of the power-sharing government in November 12, this year to end the five-year conflict.
Dr. Machar arrived earlier on Monday in the company of the deputy head of Sudan’s Sovereign Council, Gen. Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo and other senior council members.
Three-hours face to face talks between President Kiir and ex-rebel leader Dr. Machar focused on the discussion outstanding issues including security arrangements, number of states and their boundaries in line with the revitalized peace agreement.
This was a third time face to face meeting since they inked the revitalized peace deal with president Kiir in 2018. Machar was in Juba in October last year for celebrations to mark the signing of the deal.
The two rivals last met at the Vatican, Italy on the invitation of Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, in April this year.
South Sudan descended into war in mid-December 2013, when Kiir accused his former deputy-turned rebel leader for plotting a coup.
In September 2018, the rival factions involved in the conflict signed a peace deal to end the conflict that has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced over 2 million people in the country.
With latest deal, returned Machar as the president Kiir’s first vice president, a position he held before the conflict broke in late 2013.
The two principals have broken-down the immense deadlock in the peace implementation process leading towards the formation of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity.
Kiir, Machar talks end the need to timely establish the security arrangements, especially on ensuring that the necessary Eighty-Three Thousand forces for the Protection of the Presidency are mobilized, trained, and ready for the task.
Speaking to journalists, the Chair of National Pre-Transitional Committee, Hon.Tut Gatluak reiterated the commitment of the two leaders to ensure that the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity is formed by November.
On the other hand, Henry Odwar – the deputy chairperson of SPLM/A-IO, reiterated that the two principals are agreed and ready to the formation of the transitional government of national unity in November.
He further described the meeting as a great sign of commitment to realization of the revitalized peace accord.
Odwar also said it focused much on deployment of the 83,000-strong force before the formation of the government of national unity.
“This evening our meeting concentrated on security arrangements, because it’s one of the fundamental provisions of this agreement and we deliberated on how we can Fast Track so that the necessary forces of 83,000 will be realized before 11th of November,” Odwar told the reporters.
However, the political expert said this will produce a meaningful outcome and put an end to the political mistrust and humanitarian crisis in the country, and that will be a great achievement.
The power-sharing arrangements under the peace deal were supposed to take effect in May, but the process was delayed by six months until November as both sides disagreed over the terms and security agreement.
Kenya:Huawei’s new approach in involving more women in Technology
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma | @journalist_27
Huawei Kenya has committed to support women in the IT via charitable aid through an initiative called Women In Technology Huawei (WITH) aimed at doing away with a notion hold by majority that only men can do well in technology sector. The program targets 4,000 girls and women within one year.
Through WITH women in technical careers will be empowered, connected and supported to develop their careers, interest and leadership skills especially in Science, Technology and Mathematics. They will also be provided with role models and opportunities.
The initiative will see doubling of the number of young girls mentored and trained through Cooperative Research Centres (CRC)program, promotion of one third of Huawei employees and training of one half of employees in 2019, increasing trained females students by 10 per cent and female lecturers by 5 per cent from 10 per cent. Other targets are partners with their women, at least 7 customers and women-owned suppliers.
“I am personally driving this Women In Technology Huawei initiative as a boost for the women in Technology. The data for Huawei is about average for the ICT industry in Kenya which is too low, thus the need to improve into a more strategic and ambitious strategy. Huawei has in the best done quite a lot to its staff and interns as well as to its charity and University partner, but still finds more things. We have set some plans and targets and we will do our best and try to improve,” said CEO of Huwai Kenya Stone He.
MenEngage Africa denounces recurring attacks of non-nationals of African descent in South Africa
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
Africans Rising saddened by xenophobic violence is South Africa
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Africans Rising for Justice, Peace, and Dignity reports that it is saddened and outraged by ongoing systematic atrocities committed on African people in South Africa, not only over the past few days but for over a decade. Violent attacks on black migrants have so far led to the loss of lives, countless injuries, and destruction of Black migrant-owned businesses. We strongly and unreservedly condemn these ‘afro-phobic attacks’ and call on the South African government to ensure safety for all.
The organisation says that while black Africans from other countries may be easy targets, we urge South African citizens, especially the youth, not to attack their African brothers and sisters. Instead, we urge them to peacefully engage the South African government to better understand the causes of these attacks. Africans Rising calls on the South African government to take responsibility and be accountable based on the social contract that exists between it and the people by addressing the root causes of this violence.
They sais that they call on the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, and the entire government to play their role in making sure that there is a stop to these inhumane attacks. And to address the institutionalized Afrophobia that restricts the ability of migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, stateless people to integrate.
“We wish for a better understanding of the need for pan-African solidarity, a better understanding of the role of many African countries in the fight against apartheid. If the perpetrators of these atrocities could be made to remember the continental solidarity of that fight perhaps the violence would end. “Even if all the migrants pack up their bags and leave, poor Black South African lives won’t change because their misery is rooted in centuries of injustices,” said Coumba Toure, Africans Rising Co-Movement Coordinator”.
They add that while acknowledging the actions and reactions of certain African governments, we again call on the African Union, regional bodies like SADC and all African heads of state to condemn the ongoing brutality and violence in South Africa, and advise their citizens not to respond to violence with violence. We also call on all Africans, including religious leaders, artists, lawmakers, citizens, and descendants of Africa to raise their voices in condemning these unacceptable acts.
The organisation also urges African governments to use intelligence directed policing capable of anticipating and stopping looming acts of xenophobia.
“ As our core team sits in a circle next to the fire at Earth Rise Lodge in Rustlers Valley, we represent Ubuntu. We (Africans Rising) are here from different African countries and the diaspora. Here, we feel welcomed, safe, and at peace with South Africans…This is how it should be everywhere. For Africans Rising, Earth Rise Lodge, Naledi Village, Rustlers Valley represents a model for people to live in dignity. But this cannot happen without the joint efforts of Africa and Africans. We urge (African) leaders to address the issues arising in order to stop this plague” said Muhammed Lamin Saidykhan, Africans Rising Co-Movement Coordinator.
Africans Rising has also called on the citizens and descendants of Africa to not respond to hate with hatred but to join hands in building the #AfricaWeWant.
Rwanda Named Long-Term Home for African Green Revolution Forum
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Mohammed M. Mupenda
The African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) Partners Group has unanimously selected Rwanda to host AGRF 2020 and serve as the home country of the forum going forward.
In a statement released on this Friday, September 6, 2019, H.E Hailemariam Desalegn, former Prime Minister of Ethiopia who is currently serving as the Board Chair of AGRF Partners Group revealed that Rwanda’s successful hosting of AGRF 2018 was one of the triggers of the decision.
“Rwanda’s hosting of AGRF 2018 featured the largest attendance on record and the leadership of H.E. President Paul Kagame, both in presiding over that historic gathering and in his broader commitment to the transformational power of agriculture has set a model for all to follow,” he said.
“We are honored to be the home country for AGRF and are committed to working closely and collaboratively with our may partners across Africa and around the world to ensure the continued growth and influence of AGRF as the voice of Africa’s smallholder farmers and agriculture businesses,” Said Hon. Geraldine Mukeshimana, Rwanda’s Minister of Agriculture and Animal Resources.
“The move will add the Republic of Rwanda to the AGRF partners Group to help shape and drive the AGRF’s long term vision, deepen relationships with service providers to streamline organizational logistics, and unlock partnerships with several new institutions looking to grow with the forum,” reads the statement.
The AGRF underpins its partners noted that Rwanda’s pact as its home country “will increase accountability and commitment of the continent’s leaders to use the forum as the focal point for delivering on the goals laid out by African Heads of State and Government in the African Union’s Malabo Declaration, United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Africa Agenda 2063.”
AGRF is established as the platform for leaders from across Africa and around the world to advance concrete plans and share knowledge to tap enormous potential agriculture to drive equitable and sustainable growth across the continent. It has taken place in eight different countries over the last ten years.
The AGRF Group is made up of a coalition of 21 actors in the African agriculture sector. Among them include the African Union Commission (AUC), the African Development Bank, the Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).
Washington Braces Up for Mega Forum on Making African Trade Easy
September 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
-Q& A with Angelle Kwemo on Mate 2019
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Trade, the African Continental Free Trade Area, Prosper Africa initiative, business networks and more will be in focus during the upcoming Making African Trade Easy Forum organized by Believe in Africa Foundation. Considering that this is the 5th anniversary of Believe in Africa, we decided to do something different, says Founder and CEO Angelle Kwemo in a preview of the forum with Pan African Visions.
“We are strongly mobilizing the African diaspora, African, and American firms to explore partnership opportunities,” says Angelle Kwemo. Also expected at the event are several African leaders and close to 200 participants from Africa.
With experience working in diverse legislative and policy circles in the US, and Africa, Angelle Kwemo believes that MATE 2019 which runs from October 3-4 will provide a unique platform for delegates to understand and explore the myriad of business opportunities in the light of recent developments in both Africa and the USA.
You are Founder and Chair of Believe in Africa, could you start by introducing the organization for us and what it does?
Believe in Africa is a non profit organization created by African diaspora leaders to promote African solutions to African problems, advocate for increasing the role of the African private sector into the continent’s economic transformation, promoting intra African trade, and last but not the least promoting investment in women, and youth. What we do is organize meetings, seminars, and create platforms to facilitate partnerships.
The organization is hosting the Making Africa Trade Easy Fair in Washington, DC, can you shed light on this?
This year is our fifth-year anniversary. We decided to do something special in Washington DC where the organization was born. Three important policies changes happen this year that coincided with our mission and will be at the center of MATE. Private sector, Finance and intra African trade.
- Prosper Africa initiative announced by the current administration is perfectly in line with our vision to put the African private sector at the center of the continent’s economic growth as well as at the center of US Africa cooperation. We strongly believe that Africa should gradually get out of the “Aid dependency”. This can only happen if Africa attains its economic independence. That independence will begin when the African private sector will be strong and prosperous. Also, with Africa’s population growth exceeding the billion, Job creation is an emergency. Those jobs will not come from the public sector, nor from the humanitarian programs. Therefore, it is imperative that the governments, Africans, and partners like the US, MUST create the enabling environment for the African private sector to prosper. This also applies on US foreign policies. I believe this is what Prosper Africa intends to do. Support the private sector to double US Africa two ways trade.
- International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), will open soon. Created by the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILT Act) with 60 billion USD appropriated (double of OPIC), it is one of the biggest changes in U.S. development policy in recent years. The DFC will combine the Overseas Private Investment Corporation(OPIC) and the S. Agency for International Development’s Development Credit Authority, add new development finance capabilities, including equity authority, and have a higher lending limit than its predecessor. It is aimed at advancing private-sector-led development and will prioritize low-income and low-middle income countries, where the DFC’s services will have the greatest impact.
- This July the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) became effective, creating the world’s largest single market, including the world’s fastest growth economies. It is historical and creating the biggest opportunity of our lifetime. By 2030, Africa will have a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7 trillion in 2030. We should all play a role in making the continental market successful.
It is for these three reasons that as the African diaspora in the U.S., we decided to use our networks to help in promoting these policies with the concept of MATE.
MATE is a collaborative effort between us, USAID, and the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center to promote Prosper Africa, and African Economic integration in order to strengthen U.S. – Africa trade relations and double two ways trade between both continents using the bridge created by the African diaspora.
Any projections on the level of participation from companies and businesses, and what will represent a successful MATE forum for you?
We are strongly mobilizing the African diaspora, African and American firms to explore partnership opportunities. As you know, the African diaspora is historically, culturally, and emotionally connected with the continent. Their proximity with the continent has been unutilized until today. They are the most effective US ambassadors to the continent. They abide by the American standards and have good understanding of both continent’s ways of doing business. With MATE, we want to equip them with tools that they need to trade and invest more in Africa. In doing so, they are not only contributing to the development of the continent, but they also promoting American products and services, and creating badly needed jobs in both continents.
That is why we are also bringing together U.S. agencies under Prosper Africa hospice, African leaders from both the public and private sectors to discuss and explore partnership opportunities.
How will the program of events look like, what should participants expect?
The MATE program will comprise plenary sessions, workout sessions, seminars and roundtables. We will discus investment opportunities in various sectors like Technology and digital, AfCFTA, healthcare, agribusiness, textile and fashion, power.
Participants will get more insights or learn about resources available in the U.S through “Prosper Africa”, meet potential partners and investors. We will hold exhibitions, and create platforms for B2B and B2C.
Also, we are planning a special session on Women in Agriculture to coincide with our annual “AWAA” meeting. African Women in Agriculture and Arts (AWAA)” is a platform dedicated to empowering women in agriculture, especially in rural areas, enabling them to become self-reliant, productive and competitive. AWAA network was launched last year in Morocco under the hospice of H.E. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou. We will bring women leaders from Africa to Washington to showcase their products and explore the U.S. market.
May we know some of the dignitaries who have confirmed participation at the event?
On the African side, we will have two heads of States in attendance H.E. Roch Kabore, President of Burkina Faso, H.E. Felix Tsisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahama, Chair AU Commission, H.E. Albert M. Muchanga, AU Commissioner of Trade and Industry, H.E. Lesego Makgothi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of Lesotho, Chantal Yelu Mulop, SA President of Congo on youth and violence against Women, high level representation of Afrexim Bank, Niger, Lesotho, Guinea, Mauritious, Rwanda, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal.
We will host Africa’s biggest women advocate like H.E. Adjoavi Sika Kaboré, First Lady of Burkina Faso, H.E. Aisha Buhari, and First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and H.E. Aissata Mahamadou, First lady of Niger.
On the U.S.G side, we will have, Hon. Tibor Nagy, Assistant Secretary on Africa, Hon. Ramsey Day, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, USAID, Hon. Constance Hamilton, AUSTR for Africa, Hon. Oren Wyche-Shaw, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID, Matthew Rees, Prosper Africa Coordinator, Tom Hardy, Acting Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, CD Glin, President & CEO, US Africa Development Foundation, Hon Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Director for Africa, Millenium Challenge Corporation, and Worku Gachou, Director for Africa, International Development Finance Corporation.
In the private sectors, we have more than 200 companies including large ones
like OCP, MTN, Standard Charted Bank and many more for more than 20 countries.
How much participation do you expect to come from Africa?
We are expecting around 200 participants from Africa. I must be honest to say that the most recent developments in U.S. immigrations and visa policies have been counterproductive because it is difficult to imagine doubling two ways trade when African partners are unable to visit the U.S. It is also part of our duties to raise awareness about obstacles to trade. American needs to make sure its policies and all agencies policies are not self destructive, and pushing Africa closer to China, Russia and other competitors.
What is your take on the overall strategy of the Trump administration towards Africa, what has changed in the sphere of development and trade?
I want to remain objective and nonpartisan as African policies have always been in the past. On the trade front, I think the administration has good intentions: help Africa become less dependent on aid. If you run a poll in Africa on this subject, the majority of Africans will agree. The question now is how? I think it will start with a big mind shift that American will have to make. Africa has changed, and the new Africans are ready for business and they are open to explore different avenues. I think American firms should come to the realization that they are in a competitive field and learn to adjust accordingly. This is the most difficult part.
Lastly America needs to innovate in their foreign policy approach and use the cultural bridge that the African diaspora represents. I will not emphasize it enough. Diaspora entrepreneurs are also pragmatic. If they don’t find support in the U.S. they will find it somewhere else. It would be a waste.
As I said earlier, immigration policies send wrong signal to our African partners. How can you do business with someone who is not welcome in your country?
After MATE, what next for Believe in Africa, any other big projects or ventures in the horizon?
We will continue to build MATE and AWAA. I will give you more details in October 4, 2019. Big announcement are coming.
*Originally published by Pan African Visions, contact,firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel:12404292177
Nigeria: President Buhari sends delegation to register displeasure over xenophobic attacks in South Africa
September 3, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Teslim Olawore
President Muhammadu Buhari has sent a delegation to South Africa to register his “displeasure” over the killings of Nigerians in South Africa.
In a statement by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to Buhari, Femi Adesina, the delegation will arrive South Africa on Thursday to find a resolution to the reported attacks.
Mr Adesina said Mr Buhari has “noted with deep concern, reported attacks on Nigerian citizens and property in South Africa since August 29, 2019.”
“Consequently, the President has instructed the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, to summon the South African High Commissioner to Nigeria and get a brief on the situation; express Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of her citizens; and assurance of the safety of their lives and property.
“President Buhari has also despatched a Special Envoy to convey to President Cyril Ramaphosa his concerns and also interact with his South African counterpart on the situation.
“The Special Envoy is expected to arrive in Pretoria latest Thursday, September 5, 2019.”
The presidency did not name the special envoy.
Earlier, the Nigerian High Commission in South Africa said Mr Buhari would travel to South Africa next month over the attacks.
The high commission condemned the attacks and pledged to defend the interests of Nigerians in South Africa.
“All Nigerian victims of the current attacks are requested to come forward to report their situation to the high commission and the consulate,” Kabiru Bala, the high commissioner wrote in a statement.
Nigeria’s ruling party, APC, has also condemned the attacks which have been condemned by most Nigerians.
UN peacekeepers in DRC not ready to leave
September 3, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterress has said UN Peacekeepers will not abandon Democratic Republic of Congo as security is still deteriorating in the east.
During a meeting with president of Congo, Felix Tshisekedi this Monday in Kinshasa, Guterres promised that blue helmets will continue to ensure that the eastern parts of Congo are secured.
Last year former president Joseph Kabila asked UN peacekeepers to leave, insisting their mission failed to bring peace in Congo.
Congo houses about 16 000 UN peacekeepers who entered in the country since 1998. It is the largest UN mission in the world.
Guterres told president Tshisekedi that UN would not ‘abandon the Congolese people’, BBC reported.
UN chief’s visit in Congo comes when the country is being on high alert after Ebola outbreak kills 2000 people since 2018.
Security deterioration is believed to have contributed to the spread of the outbreak.