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US donates $10 billion to lead global Covid-19 response. Here’s how much each African country will benefit from Donald Trump’s administration
May 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

U.S. President Donald Trump meets with African leaders on the sidelines of the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017 in New York City.Photo credit Getty Images

The United States has once more proven its position in the world by demonstrating global leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic which started in Wuhan, China and continues to travel the world ravaging economies and leaving counts of dead bodies.

To mitigate the effects by reinforcing medical capabilities, improving public health education; protecting healthcare facilities; and increasing laboratory, disease-surveillance, and rapid-response capacity the US government is donating billions to Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin Africa.

In a press release sent to our newsroom, the US Department of State announced that the first shipment of ventilators donated by the United States, through USAID, arrived in South Africa on May 11, 2020 as the first step towards its efforts to support its partners and allies.

The COVID-19 assistance since the outbreak in the form of humanitarian assistance, migration and refugee assistance and economic support among others from the US State Department and USAID to Africa includes the following, for better understanding it has been categorized per country;

Angola:  $570,000 for health assistance is helping provide risk-communications and water and sanitation, and prevent and control infections in key health facilities in Angola.  This assistance comes on top of long-term U.S. investments in Angola, which total $1.48 billion over the past 20 years, including over $613 million for health assistance.

Bénin:  $1.5 million in health assistance will help Béninois respond to the outbreak by funding the coordination and planning of outbreak-response activities, strengthening surveillance and rapid-response capabilities, and risk-communications and engagement with communities. This assistance joins $1.72 billion in total assistance for Benin over the past 20 years, over $364 million of which was for health.  

Botswana:  $1.5 million in health assistance to address the outbreak.  Funding will support risk-communications and community engagement, with a focus on the most vulnerable populations, the procurement of essential health commodities and logistic support, and strengthening case-management and the prevention and control of infections in key health facilities.  This assistance builds on nearly $1.2 billion in total assistance in Botswana over the last 20 years, over $1.1 billion of which has been for health.

Burkina Faso:  Nearly $7 million in health and humanitarian funding will go toward risk-communications, water and sanitation, preventing and controlling infections in health facilities, public-health messaging, and more.  This includes $2.5 million in health assistance, $1.5 million in IDA humanitarian assistance, and nearly $2.8 million in MRA humanitarian assistance, which will help protect the health of vulnerable people in Burkina Faso during the pandemic.  Over the past 20 years, the United States has invested more than $2.4 billion total in Burkina Faso, including over $222 million for health alone.

Burundi: More than $3 million in total funding for the response to COVID-19 includes $2 million in health assistance and more than $1 million in MRA humanitarian assistance to help protect the health of vulnerable people.  The health assistance will improve the planning and coordination of response activities, the strengthening of surveillance and rapid-response capabilities, strengthening capacities for case-management and the prevention and control of infections, and the training of health workers.  The United States has invested more than $997 million in total assistance for Burundi, including more than $254 million for health, over the past 20 years.

Cameroon:  Nearly $8 million for health and humanitarian assistance will help provide infection-control in key health facilities, strengthen laboratories and surveillance, prepare communities, and bolster local messaging.  This includes $6.1 million for health and IDA humanitarian assistance from USAID, in addition to nearly $1.9 million in MRA humanitarian assistance to support refugees, IDPs, and host communities.  This assistance builds upon more than $960 million in total U.S. investment in the country over the past 20 years, over $390 million of which has been for health.

  Central African Republic:  More than $10 million in humanitarian assistance, including $6.5 million in IDA humanitarian assistance that will go toward risk-communications, preventing and controlling infections in health facilities, and safe water supplies, and more than $3.5 million in MRA humanitarian assistance that will help protect the health of vulnerable people in the Central African Republic during the pandemic.  The U.S. Government has provided $822.6 million in total in the Central African Republic over the last 20 years, including $4.5 million in emergency health assistance in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.

Republic of Congo (ROC):  $250,000 in health assistance will address the outbreak, by supporting the coordination and planning of response activities, risk- communications and community-outreach activities and the training of health workers in protocols for preventing and controlling infections in health facilities.  The United States has invested in the Republic of Congo for decades, including more than $171.2 million in total U.S. assistance over the last 20 years, over $36.9 million of which has been for health.

Chad:  More than $3.5 million in humanitarian assistance, including $1 million from the IDA account for preventing and controlling infections in health facilities, raising community awareness of COVID-19, and improving hygiene, and nearly $2.6 million in MRA humanitarian assistance to help protect the health of vulnerable people in Chad during the pandemic.  This new assistance builds upon the foundation of nearly $2 billion in total U.S. assistance over the last 20 years, including more than $30 million for health.

  Côte d’Ivoire:  $3.2 million in health assistance to address the outbreak by financing risk-communications and community engagement; the training of health care providers in protocols for preventing and controlling infections in health facilities and the appropriate management of cases of COVID-19 and influenza-like illnesses; and ensuring these facilities  are appropriately supplied with essential health commodities.  Funding will also finance the training of health workers in critical community-level surveillance techniques, such as case-finding and contact-tracing.  Over the past 20 years, the United States has invested more than $2.1 billion in long-term development and other assistance in Côte d’Ivoire.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC):  More than $26 million in total including $16 million for health and IDA humanitarian assistance that will improve the prevention and control of infections in health facilities, and support improved awareness of COVID-19, including by working with religious leaders and journalists on risk-communication messaging.  More than $5 million in MRA humanitarian assistance will help protect vulnerable people in the DRC during the pandemic. 

The $6 million of health assistance funding will support supply-chain management and logistics, as well as the procurement of essential health commodities; strengthening critical disease-surveillance activities, including community-based surveillance, contact-tracing, and case-finding; strengthening practices to prevent and control infections at health facilities and train health workers, as well as community-based efforts to improve access to water and basic hygiene materials, with the direct distribution of kits to households to prevent infections. 

 Health assistance also will support mobilizing thousands of volunteers in targeted, high-risk Provinces to conduct risk-communications and community-engagement activities.  Finally, approximately $5 million in ESF will go toward distance and alternative education for Congolese children and youth so they can continue to learn and maintain protective routines and social connections while schools remain closed across the country.  This builds upon more than $6.3 billion in total U.S. assistance over the past 20 years, including more than $1.5 billion for health.

Djibouti:  $750,000 in total, including $500,000 in health assistance to address the outbreak and $250,000 in MRA humanitarian assistance to assist vulnerable migrants and host communities as they deal with the pandemic.  Health assistance will support strengthening the capacity for testing, supply-planning, supply-chain management and the distribution of urgent health commodities needed for COVID-19.  The health assistance also will fund risk-communications and community-outreach activities, the training of health workers to implement protocols to prevent and control infections in health facilities and manage cases of COVID-19; and disease-surveillance and rapid-response protocols and functionality.  The United States has already invested more than $338 million in Djibouti over the last 20 years.

Eswatini: $1.1 million in health assistance to address the outbreak by bolstering Eswatini’s emergency health response, which could include the procurement of supplies, contact-tracing, laboratory diagnostics, and raising public awareness.  This assistance builds upon the foundation of U.S. Government investments in the Kingdom, which total more than $529 million assistance over the last 20 years, including more than $490 million for health.

  Ethiopia:  More than $23.4 million in assistance to counter COVID-19, including $3.4 million for health and $7.5 million in IDA humanitarian assistance for risk-communications, the prevention and control of infections in health facilities, disease-surveillance, contact-tracing, and coordination; $7 million in ESF that will support continuing operation at a major industrial park in Hawassa to preserve critical jobs,; and more than $5.6 million in MRA humanitarian assistance for vulnerable people, including refugees, migrants, and host communities. 

The health assistance will support strengthening outbreak-response capabilities, including community-based surveillance for case-finding and contact-tracing; strengthening laboratory diagnostic capacity; and optimizing case-management and practices to prevent and control infections in health facilities.  Health assistance will also fund risk-communications and community-engagement activities.  This assistance is in addition to the United States’ long-term investments in Ethiopia over the past 20 years of more than $13 billion in total assistance, over $4 billion has been for health alone.

  Ghana:  $1.6 million in health assistance to address the outbreak by strengthening outbreak-response capabilities, including community-based surveillance for case-finding and contact-tracing; improve laboratory diagnostic capacity; optimize the management of COVID-19 cases and the prevention and control of infections in health facilities; and promote risk-communications and community-engagement activities.  This new assistance builds upon $3.8 billion in total U.S. Government investments in Ghana over the last 20 years, including over $914 million for health.

Guinea:  $1.3 million in health assistance to address the outbreak by financing risk-communications and community-outreach activities, the training of health workers to implement protocols to prevent and control infections in health facilities; and disease-surveillance and rapid-response protocols and functionality.  The United States has invested nearly $1 billion in total assistance in Guinea over the last 20 years, including over $365.5 million for health.

  Kenya:  Nearly $4.4 million for health and humanitarian assistance, including $3.5 million in health and IDA humanitarian assistance to bolster risk-communications; prepare health-communication networks and media for possible cases; and help provide public-health messaging for media, health workers, and communities; and $947,000 in MRA humanitarian assistance for refugees and host communities.  This assistance specific to COVID-19 comes on top of long-term U.S. Government investments in Kenya, which total $11.7 billion over the last 20 years, including more than $6.7 billion for health alone.

Lesotho:  $750,000 in health assistance to address the outbreak by strengthening outbreak-response capabilities, including community-based surveillance for case-finding and contact tracing, strengthening laboratory diagnostic capacity, and optimizing case-management and the prevention and control of infections in health facilities. 

The health assistance also will finance risk-communications and community-engagement activities.  This new assistance builds upon decades of U.S. investments in Lesotho, which total more than $1 billion over the last 20 years, including more than $834 million for health.

Liberia:  $1.3 million for health assistance will provide critical aid for all 15 Liberian Counties (emergency operation centers, training, contact-tracing, hospitals, and community health care), support quarantine efforts, and provide village-level support.  The United States has helped lay a strong foundation for Liberia’s response to COVID-19 through more than $4 billion in total assistance over the past 20 years, including more than $675 million for health.

  Madagascar:  $2.5 million in health assistance to address the outbreak by strengthening laboratory capacity for diagnostics; deploying  mobile laboratories for decentralized diagnosis; improving regional and District surveillance, including data systems and the training of community health volunteers in contact-tracing; promoting risk-communications and community-engagement activities, including a staffed hotline, mass-media campaigns and prevention messages; the training of health professionals infection and prevention control training, procurement of essential health commodities, and improvements in waste management. The United States has invested more than $1.5 billion in total assistance for Madagascar over the last 20 years, including over $722 million for health alone.

Malawi: $4.5 million in health assistance to address the outbreak. Funding will support the COVID-19 response and preparedness activities at the district level, including surveillance activities, strengthening infection and prevention control practices, screening at points of entry, and case management. Funding will also support risk communication and community engagement, including radio and social media campaigns; and technical assistance to optimize supply chain logistics and management. The United States has provided more than $3.6 billion in total assistance for Malawi over the past 20 years, including more than $1.7 billion for health.

  Mali: More than $8.4 million in assistance for the response to COVID-19, which includes $2.4 million for health assistance and $2 million in IDA humanitarian assistance for risk-communications, the prevention and control of infections in health facilities, and coordination; and more than $4 million in MRA humanitarian assistance to support vulnerable in Mali during the pandemic. Health assistance will support risk-communications and community engagement, including by establishing community communication networks with modern and traditional and to call on citizens to counter misinformation and rumors, as well as support to the Ministry of Health’s National Hotline; strengthening diagnostic networks and disease-surveillance systems, optimizing real-time surveillance to accelerate the detection and investigation of cases and contact-tracing and train and mobilize existing community-surveillance, early-warning and emergency rapid-response teams to report infections and assist ill persons in getting prompt and appropriate care. 

The health funding also will finance activities to prevent and control infections at priority case-detection points (including points of entry to Mali along high-traffic cargo routes) and public and community health facilities, including through the procurement of equipment and supplies to prevent infections and manage medical waste. This new assistance builds upon decades of U.S. investments in Mali, which total more than $3.2 billion over the last 20 years, including more than $807 million for health.

Mauritania: $250,000 in health assistance to address the outbreak by financing risk-communications and community-engagement activities, strengthening supply-chain management and logistics, and improving the prevention and control of infections in health facilities. The United States has provided more than $424 million in total assistance over the last 20 years for Mauritania, including more than $27 million for health, which builds a strong foundation for their pandemic response.

  Mauritius: $500,000 in health assistance to address the outbreak under the national response strategy for COVID-19, including by strengthening coordination and logistics; developing and disseminating risk-communications and prevention materials at the community level; strengthening protocols for the prevention and control of infections in health facilities; disseminating case-management guidelines and training health workers in their use; improving surveillance and rapid-response protocols and functionality; and expanding laboratory capacity.  This new assistance builds upon the foundation of more than $13 million in total U.S. Government investments over the past 20 years, including more than $838,000 for health.

Mozambique: $6.8 million, including $4.8 million for health assistance and $2 million in IDA humanitarian funding will finance risk-communications and community engagement, including mass-media prevention messages; water and sanitation; and the prevention and control of infections in key health facilities in Mozambique.  The health assistance also will fund the training of health workers in case-management and ensuring health facilities are prepared to respond to the outbreak. The United States has invested nearly $6 billion in Mozambique over the past 20 years, including more than $3.8 billion for health.

Namibia: $750,000 in health assistance to address the outbreak by improving laboratory capacity for diagnostics and technical assistance in supply-chain management and logistics. This new assistance comes in addition to nearly $1.5 billion in total U.S. Government investments to Namibia over the past 20 years, including more than $970.5 million in long-term health assistance.

  Niger: Nearly $5.4 million in assistance includes nearly $800,000 million for health assistance and $2 million in IDA humanitarian assistance for risk-communications, the prevention and control of infectious diseases in health facilities, and coordination; and more than $2.6 million in MRA humanitarian assistance will support vulnerable people in Niger during the pandemic, including refugees, and vulnerable migrants, and host communities. This assistance comes on top of more than $2 billion in total U.S. Government investments for Niger in the past 20 years, nearly $233 million for health alone.

Nigeria: More than $30.3 million in assistance, which includes more than $3.3 million for health assistance and $23 million in IDA humanitarian funding for risk-communications, water and sanitation, infection-prevention, and coordination; and nearly $4.1 million in MRA humanitarian assistance for vulnerable people. This assistance joins more than $8.1 billion in total assistance for Nigeria over the past 20 years, including more than $5.2 billion in U.S. health assistance.

Rwanda: $2.2 million in assistance for Rwanda’s response to COVID-19 includes $1.7 million for health assistance that will help with disease-surveillance and case-management, and $474,000 in MRA humanitarian assistance to support refugees and host communities in Rwanda. This comes on top of long-term U.S. Government investments in Rwanda that total more than $2.6 billion in total assistance over the past 20 years, including more than $1.5 billion for health.

Sénégal: $3.9 million in health assistance to support risk-communications, water and sanitation, the prevention and control of infections in health facilities, public health messaging, and more. In Sénégal, the U.S. has invested nearly $2.8 billion in total over the past 20 years, nearly $880 million for health.

Sierra Leone: $1.7 million in health assistance to address the outbreak by strengthening surveillance activities, case-finding, contact-tracing, risk-communications, community engagement, and the management of cases of COVID-19 at health facilities. This assistance joins decades of U.S. investments in Sierra Leone, totaling more than $5.2 billion in total assistance over the past 20 years, including nearly $260 million for health.

Somalia: More than $17.1 million, including $12.6 million in IDA and $4.5 million in MRA humanitarian assistance for the response to COVID-19 will fund risk-communications, the prevention and control of infectious diseases in health facilities, case-management, and more, including for refugee returnees, vulnerable migrants, and host communities. This assistance comes in addition to $5.3 billion in total assistance for Somalia over the last 20 years, including nearly $30 million for health.

South Africa: Approximately $8.4 million in health assistance to counter COVID-19 will fund risk-communications, water and sanitation, the prevention and control of infections in health facilities, public health messaging, and more.  The United States has also pledged to send up to 1,000 ventilators to South Africa, the first 50 of which arrived on May 11, 2020.  This assistance joins more than $7 billion in total assistance by the United States for South Africa in the past 20 years, nearly $6 billion invested for health.

  South Sudan: Nearly $21.8 million in assistance for South Sudan’s response to COVID-19 includes $13.4 million in IDA humanitarian assistance for case-management, the prevention and control of infections, logistics, coordination efforts, risk-communications, water, sanitation and hygiene; $2.75 million in health programming; and more than $5.6 million in MRA humanitarian assistance that will support refugees, IDPs, and host communities in South Sudan during the pandemic. 

The health assistance will fund expanding the training of health workers and peer educators on proper practices to prevent and control infections in health facilities to protect communities and patients, particularly those at high risk or who are immunocompromised; strengthening capabilities in health facilities and in the community to manage and refer cases of COVID-19. 

The health assistance also will fund expanding efforts to address community concerns, including by tracking and combating rumors, misconceptions, and grievances. This funding builds upon past U.S. investments in South Sudan totaling $6.4 billion over the past 20 years, including more than $405 million for health.

  Sudan: More than $24.1 million in assistance includes $16.8 million in IDA humanitarian assistance for strengthening laboratory capacity, disease-surveillance and contact-tracing, case-management, risk-communications, case-management, disease-surveillance, the prevention and control of infections, and water, sanitation and hygiene; $5 million in ESF for cash assistance to vulnerable families adversely affected by COVID-19; and more than $1.3 million in MRA humanitarian assistance to support vulnerable people. The United States has invested more than $1.6 billion in total assistance for Sudan over the last 20 years, of which more than $3 million was for health.

Tanzania: $3.4 million for health assistance funds the strengthening of laboratory capacity for optimal diagnostics, risk-communications, water and sanitation, the prevention and control of infections, public health messaging, and more. The United States has invested more than $7.5 billion total in Tanzania over the past 20 years, nearly $4.9 billion for health.

Uganda: $3.6 million in assistance includes $2.3 million in health assistance to address the outbreak and nearly $1.3 million in MRA humanitarian assistance will support refugees and host communities in Uganda during the pandemic. The health assistance will strengthen the prevention and control of infections and case-management practices in health facilities, including by training health workers in new protocols; promote risk-communications and community engagement, including materials and messages to address most vulnerable groups; and improve management systems to ensure the accountability and availability of, and access to, health commodities, essential medicines, and health supplies in health facilities to maintain the continuity of services. This assistance is provided in addition to the nearly $8 billion in total U.S. Government investments for Uganda over the last 20 years and nearly $4.8 billion for health.

Zambia: $3.4 million for health assistance will fund risk-communications, water and sanitation, the prevention and control of infections, public health messaging, and more. This new assistance joins $4.9 billion total U.S. Government investments for Zambia over the past 20 years, nearly $3.9 billion in U.S. health assistance.

Zimbabwe: Nearly $5 million, including nearly $3 million for health assistance and $2 million for IDA humanitarian assistance will help to prepare laboratories for large-scale testing, support case-finding activities for influenza-like illnesses, implement a public-health emergency plan for points of entry, and more. 

The health assistance will fund the strengthening of laboratory capacity, the prevention and control and management of cases of COVID-19 in health facilities, including hand-washing stations, screening centers, preparing hospitals to be ready to treat COVID-19 patients, training health workers, and setting up alternative care-delivery points.  Funding also will also support the training rapid-response teams, community health workers and volunteers; and risk communication and community engagement.  This new assistance builds on a history of U.S. investments in Zimbabwe – nearly $3 billion total over the past 20 years, nearly $1.2 billion of which was for health.

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SADC Troika meets to review terrorist attacks in Mozambique
May 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos*

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Troika on Politics, Defence and Security meets today, Tuesday, in Harare, to review the ongoing terrorist attacks in Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique.

The one-day meeting was requested by Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, and attended by Zimbabwe’s Mnangagwa, SADC President; Botswana’s Masisi, the next to chair the organization and Zambia’s Lungu, the SADC former president. Mozambique, the applicant, is currently Vice President of the organization.

At the meeting, the heads of state and government members of the SADC body troika will also review the current state of the political and security situation in the southern African region.

The attacks in Cabo Delgado have been ongoing since October 2017 and have already caused the death of over a thousand people. The Islamic state has been claiming the attacks, which has led the Mozambican authorities to declare that the country is in the presence of an external aggression perpetrated by terrorists.

The extremist group is intensifying the attacks and even controlling some areas located in Cabo Delgado, and in their demands they say they want to destroy the current local state and government to install another state with Islamic aspirations in the province.

The Mozambican army has faced serious difficulties in fighting the armed group and is counting on the help of mercenaries, especially the South African mercenaries Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), in the service of Zimbabwean Max Dyck, son of former Rhodesian colonel Lionel Dyck.

The armed men are today attacking northern Mozambique threatening national sovereignty, but observers warn that all of southern Africa is under threat because if they settle in Mozambique, the trend will be to spread their territory. Observers draw attention to the collaboration of SADC, the African Union even the United Nations before it is too late.

*jorgedossantosmz@gmail.com

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Gambia’s Health Minister Exposes Corrupt Practices in Covid-19 Funds
May 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Dr. Lamin Amadou Samateh, Gambia’s Minister of Health (L) receiving support from from Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations to fight COVID-19.Photo credit WHO Africa

Dr. Lamin Amadou Samateh, Gambia minister of Health has revealed that health officials are putting more focus false allowances than focusing on curbing the spread of covid-19 in the country.

Despite the millions of dalasi allocated by the government,  Samateh lamented on his ministry’s lacked the basic materials to do their job while other government officials are  busy with allowances and wasting money.

In a damning revelations, He told the National Assembly in Banjul
accused some top government officials of providing up to 300 fake names who should be receiving allowances.

He explained that he rejected those names as they are not from the health ministry of health and they’re not working in the Gambia government.

According to him, some of the names the government brought to receive allowances were family members and friends of those who prepared the list.

Looking emotionally and mentally fatigued, Dr Samateh said he’s currently the most vulnerable minister as the government is not doing what they should be doing to end Coronavirus in the country, despite the allocation of millions of dalasi.

He strongly suggested The Gambia Police Force to conduct an investigation on corruption practices in the government.

Dr Samateh claimed that many civil servants in the Gambia government have so far built mansions in the Gambia, due to corruption and bribries they’re receiving.

Dr. Samateh says he feels sorry for his motherland, The Gambia if actions are not taken to stop the chronic corruption within the government.

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Zimbabwe Set to Release New, Higher Denomination Notes into Circulation
May 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe released a statement on Friday 15 May informing the Zimbabwean population that it’s going to introduce new higher denomination notes starting May 19. The Central Bank said the introduction of the new higher denomination notes is part of measures being implemented to increase physical money supply and curb cash shortages.

On May 19, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said that it will release the $10 Zimbabwean note and in the first week of June, it will release the $20 Zimbabwean note. The two new notes will join the $2 and $5 banknotes which are already in circulation.

The Zimbabwean government re-introduced the Zimbabwean dollar last year which had been discarded in 2009 owing to hyperinflation.

Before introducing the new notes, the central bank said that the features of the new notes will “be publicized prior to the circulation of the banknotes.” The Bank released a link that citizens can use if they want to check the security features of the new notes.

Starting from 19 May, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said the withdrawal limit will be raised from 300 Zimbabwean dollars to 1.000 Zimbabwean dollars per week.

Zimbabwe has been facing serious liquidity challenges both physical foreign currencies and the local currency. Bank queues have become the norm for those looking to get their money in hard cash. the liquidity challenges are attributed by some to be the major enabler of the forex black market as the few individuals who have access to physical banknotes sell them at a premium to those in need in exchange for electronic/mobile money.

The news of the introduction of the new higher denominations was first spilled out a week earlier by a member of the RBZ Monetary Policy Committee Eddie Cross who said that the authorities had approved the introduction of the new banknotes and printing was already underway.

Eddie Cross said that the central bank had taken caution with regards to creating new money. “We are moving cautiously because we don’t want to disturb the monetary balance and we are insisting that banks pay for the currency when they draw it so that there is no money creation…We are now taking steps to start implementing that. We started in September last year when we had about $500 million worth of notes in circulation and now we have between #1.3 billion and $1.4 billion notes. This will take it up to $2 billion. Our target is $3 billion, which amounts to about 10 per cent of our money supply.”

Mr. Kingston Kanyile an economist said the “higher denomination notes were long overdue if you just look at the inflationary trends and projections…Depending on how much they are going to put in the market it has to be within the requirement of making sure that there isn’t excessive money going around. This is so because if there is too much printed money we will have a problem.”

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African Union, Africa CDC ready to test Madagascar’s coronavirus remedy
May 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Madagascar's President Andry Rajoelina sips Covid Organics, RIJASOLO AFP/File
Madagascar’s President Andry Rajoelina sips Covid Organics, RIJASOLO AFP/File

After weeks of rebuttal and warning on the “effects” of using untested drugs, the African Union, AU, and the continent’s Center for Disease Control, CDC has made know it readiness to carryout scientific testing on the effectiveness of Madagascar’s herbal tonic, Covid-Organics, which the Island nation has been using to treat coronavirus patients.

Madagascar had long snubbed the World Health Organization and foreign nations who warned against administering Covid-Organics stating that its efficacy is unproven. The AU and other regional organisations had also distant itself from Madagascar’s usage of the tonic made from Artemisia annua, (Sweet wormwood) a plant often used to treat malaria.

On Wednesday, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Kwesi Quartey tweeted Madagascar’s health ministry “has agreed to collaborate with the African Union and Africa Centre for Disease Control to explore further, the remedy they have discovered for the treatment of COVID-19 to benefit the continent at large”.

The AU said on Monday that it was trying to get Madagascar’s technical data on the remedy, and would pass that to the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for evaluation.

Last month, President Andry Rajoelina made public the remedy at a news conference. Over the past weeks, the remedy continues to gain momentum across the continent and has already been ordered by Tanzania, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Congo-Brazzaville.

Reports indicate that it will soon be distributed to 14 other countries in Africa.

Developed by the state-run Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, a legal adviser in the president’s office told Reuters on Wednesday that Madagascar would now begin selling the remedy, which domestically can be bought for around 40 U.S. cents per bottle.

“This remedy can be put on the market,” Marie Michelle Sahondrarimalala, director of Legal Studies at the Presidency, told Reuters in an interview on Wednesday. “Madagascar has already received orders from state authorities in other countries, but also from private individuals.”

WHO Africa head Matshidiso Moeti said she was concerned people who drank the product might feel they were immune to COVID-19 and engage in risky behaviour.

“We are concerned that touting this product as a preventive measure might then make people feel safe,” she said.

In a televised interview this week on France 24, Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina defended his decision to use the herbal drink insisting that the world was particularly campaigning against it because its developed by an African country.

Brandishing figures of coronavirus infection in his country, President Andry reiterating that his country was a sovereign nation and no organization nor government will stop them from developing the effective Covid-Organics.

At the time this report was published, Madagascar had a total of 225 confirmed coronavirus cases, 98 recoveries, and no deaths – figures which Malagasy state officials say is thanks to the curing capabilities of Covid-Organics.

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Burundi to hold elections in self isolation
May 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

General Evariste Ndayishimiye (L) sits next to incumbent president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza on January 26, 2020 at Gitega, central Burundi, during the ruling party CNDD-FDD's congress to nominate it's presidential candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in 2020. PHOTO | STRINGER | AFP
General Evariste Ndayishimiye (L) sits next to incumbent president of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza on January 26, 2020 at Gitega, central Burundi, during the ruling party CNDD-FDD’s congress to nominate it’s presidential candidate for the upcoming presidential elections in 2020. PHOTO | STRINGER | AFP

On 20th May, millions of Burundians will get up early to choose a new president who will replace Pierre Nkurunziza, a controversial man who has been at the helm of the country for fifteen years.

It will be a relief to more than 400 000 refugees scattered all over east Africa, who have been fearing to return home since 2015.

In 2015 Nkurunziza won a controversial third term that followed by a failed military coup that created instability in the tiny east African nation, and forced thousands to flee their country.

Major Generanl Evariste Ndayishimiye of the ruling party, CNDD FDD is the favored candidate to win 2020 elections, a gesture many see as an attempt to bring back Burundi to the international scene.

During Nkurunziza last tenure, Burundi’relations with many international organisations worsened  and European union took sanctions to some Burundians politicians that are alleged to be at the core of 2015 chaos.

Though Ndayishimiye has been loyal to Nkurunziza, some Burundians believe that he can change things, due to his role in trying to unite his government with dissidents abroad, his charismatic character and the way he masters matters relating to security.

Isolated elections

Burundi is going to hold elections during the time when the world is fighting covid-19 pandemic. As of 13th day of May, Burundi has recorded 15 Covid-19 cases.

While some countries around the world has taken strict measures to curb the virus including banning events that attract many people, electoral rallies have been held in Burundi since 27 April and have drawn thousands from across the country.

Observers fear that those gathering could stir the number of cases to be infected with the virus, though local leaders assure that nothing bad will happen.

Burundi’s electoral commission in mid –April announced that no elections will be held by Burundian diaspora  due to Covid-19. Electoral body said that bringing electoral materials to foreign sites would be impossible as many international flights have been cancelled.

Recently, Belgians lawmakers have criticized the Burundi’s decision to stop elections in diaspora, saying that such move deprived many citizens their rights to vote.

Séverine de Laveleye and Els Van Hoof, both Belgian MPs wrote to Burundian ambassador in Brussels requesting him to reconsider the decision and allow Burundians living in Belgium to attend general elections. It is likely that their request will be futile as few days are left to hold elections.

On 8th May 2020, Burundian Ministry of Foreign Affairs notified East African Community that its observers will have to be quarantined 14 days before they proceed to observe elections.

This means the election observers will not be able to follow up the electoral process because the quarantine period will end two days after the elections are held.

This move also was criticized by many as it aims at excluding any external observer from following up Burundi’s general elections.

Campaigns period in Burundi was marred by intimidation experienced mainly by opposition. On 8th May, the main opposition party CNL has reported that 200 of its supporters were imprisoned in two weeks after campaigns were launched.

Agathon Rwasa, CNL flag bearer and Vice President of house of representative is seen as main rival to CNDD-FDD’s Ndayishimiye.

CNL speaker Térence Manirambona said that two CNL supporters were killed while two others disappeared recently, and accused government security agencies to do nothing about those cases.

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Commemoration Of The Eradication Of Smallpox – A Legacy Of Hope For Covid-19
May 10, 2020 | 0 Comments


By Uzman Unis Bah

On 8 May 1980, the 33rd World Health Assembly officially declared the world and all its peoples free from smallpox.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “The declaration marked the end of a disease that had plagued humanity for at least 3 000 years, killing 300 million people in the 20th century alone.”

According to the WHO, this was achieved through a 10-year global effort, organized by the World Health Organization, with the effort of thousands of health workers around the world that administered half a billion immunizations to eradicate the disease.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted in Geneva, the WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus straighten out the need for solidarity, “As the world confronts the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity’s victory over smallpox is a reminder of what is possible when nations come together to fight a common health threat.”

“The world got rid of smallpox thanks to an incredible demonstration of global solidarity, and because it had a safe and effective vaccine. Solidarity plus science equalled solution!” Tedros States.

Dr Tedros emphasized, smallpox eradication offers confidence for the drive of eliminating other communicable ailments, including polio, which is currently prevalent in just two countries. “To date, 187 countries, territories and areas have been certified free of Guinea worm disease, with seven more to go.” He states.

According to the director, 38 countries and territories have achieved the fight to eliminate malaria; and for Tuberculosis (TB), Tedros states, 57 countries, and territories with low-slungTB prevalence are on the trajectory to reach the complete elimination of the disease.

WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.Photo credit REUTERS/Denis Balibouse
WHO Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.Photo credit REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

At the event in Switzerland, Dr Tedros unveiled a memorial mail stamp to recognize the global unity that drove the initiative and highly praised the efforts of health workers who ensured its success.

The stamp is developed by the United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA), in collaboration with WHO, in a bid to highlight the achievement of global solidary, which could be purchase at unstamps.org . “Numerous countries, such as Guinea, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Togo and others issued smallpox stamps to show support for, and raise awareness about WHO’s Intensified Smallpox Eradication Programme launched in 1967.” A news release by WHO states.

David Heymann, Professor of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Distinguished Fellow, Global Health Security at Chatham House, London, explicates the lessons gained from smallpox has been used today in tackling the world’s disease outbreaks. 

According to David “… house-to-house active case-finding underpins the polio eradication programme, and ring vaccination of contacts is helping to combat the spread of the Ebola virus disease. Similarly, surveillance, case-finding, testing, contact-tracing, quarantine, and communication campaigns to dispel misinformation are central to controlling COVID-19.”

“Following smallpox eradication, WHO and UNICEF launched the Expanded Programme on Immunization, under which 85% of the world’s children are vaccinated and protected from debilitating diseases.”  The release states.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has landed a blow in the world’s development, with the potential of a COVID-19 vaccine ahead, returning to normalcy might take a long time. WHO strives for the development of a safe vaccine, which could be accessed by all, and providing public health information and education to ensure that the world remains a safe place.

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Malawi: Mutharika picks former president’s son as running mate
May 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

President Mutharika has settled on Atupele Austin Muluzi as his running mate
President Mutharika has settled on Atupele Austin Muluzi as his running mate

Incumbent President Peter Mutharika has settled for Atupele Muluzi, son to former president Bakili Muluzi as runningmate in the fresh presidential election slated for this July.

Bakili Muluzi was Malawi’s President from 1994 to 2004.

Mutharika’s party entered into an alliance that the young Muluzi heads, the United Democratic Front.

The young Muluzi is also the current Energy Minister in the Mutharika administration.

In making the announcement in Blantyre when submitting nomination papers, the 79 year old Mutharika said trusts Muluzi because of his demonstrated leadership skills in ministerial posts he had held.

Mutharika then moved to describe the order for the fresh presidential poll as meant to disturb progress of the developing the economy.

He faces a fierce rival under the MCP-UTM alliance, a partnership that has nine parties including former President Joyce Banda’s People’s Party.

The MCP-UTM alliance will be led by Lazarus Chakwera of the Malawi Congress Party (MCP) with the incumbent vice President Saulos Chilima as runningmate.

Analysts have described the current status and the looming elections as the tightest the nation will ever witness.

The elections will have three contestants with Mbakuwaku Movement Development led by Peter Kuwani and Archbald Kalawang’oma finalising the list.

Up to six candidates did not successfully present their papers due to among other things failure to meet requirements and eventual withdrawal from the race.

The order for the fresh poll followed a  case that Chakwera and Chilima lodged against the Malawi Electoral Commission over the administration of the 2019 poll.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will at the end of week give a ruling on the plea by the electoral commission to quash the order made by the Constitutional Court. 

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Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed: Debt Cancellation for the World to Survive
May 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Lawrence Freeman *

Coronavirus testing supplies being unloaded at the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in March.Credit…Tiksa Negeri/Reuters

Ethiopian Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed, has made an audacious salient call for debt cancellation for low income countries. It was published in the Opinion section of the April 30, New York Times, Why the Global Debt of Poor Nations Must Be Canceled, (printed in full below). PM Abiy is correct, debt cancellation is absolutely necessary to save lives and for developing nations to survive the COVID-19 pandemic. To compel a nation like Ethiopia to spend almost half of its revenue on debt service, while its people are suffering from a perfect storm of Desert Locust swarms, food insufficiency, and a weak healthcare infrastructure, is immoral if not criminal. PM Abiy wrote:

“At the very least, the suspension of debt payments should last not just until the end of 2020 but rather until well after the pandemic is truly over. It should involve not just debt suspension but debt cancellation…

“These steps need to be taken with a sense of urgency. The resources freed up will save lives and livelihoods in the short term, bring back hope and dynamism to low-income economies in the medium term and enable them to continue as the engines of sustainable global prosperity in the long term.

“In 2019, 64 countries, nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, spent more on servicing external debt than on health. Ethiopia spends twice as much on paying off external debt as on health. We spend 47 percent of our merchandise export revenue on debt servicing…

“The dilemma Ethiopia faces is stark: Do we continue to pay toward debt or redirect resources to save lives and livelihoods?”

PM Abiy’s analysis of the urgent need for the cancellation of debt service is relevant to the exacerbating effect of COVID-19 in Africa’s rising food insecurity.

Smoked fish produced in Ghana is sold all over the country and in neighboring Togo – as long as transport routes and borders can remain open for the movement of food to markets. Credit Jane Hahn/Oxfam America

COVID-19 Worsens Food Crisis

In the month from March 30 to April 30, COVID-19 cases in Africa rose from 4,760 to 37,296-800% increase, and the total of deaths from 146 to 1,619-1,100% increase.  Experts are legitimately concerned, that millions more may die from hunger and poverty as a result of the needed efforts to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Closing borders, stay at home orders, loss of income, interruption of supply chains, and disruption of traditional animal migration cycles inauspiciously contribute to amplifying food insecurity.

“If the pandemic worsens, as many as 50 million more people could face a food crisis in the [Sahel} region,” according to Coumba Sow, Food and Agricultural Organization Resilience Coordinator for West Africa in her interview: FAO: COVID19: 50 Million in Sahel Could Face Food Crisis. Coumba Sow reports that across West Africa, 11 million people need immediate food assistance and that this number could rise to 17 million in the period from June to August. She says that it is “crucial to anticipate COVID-19’s impacts on agriculture, food security and the lives of vulnerable women and children. Ensuring that food systems and food supply chains are maintained is one of the most important action to take at national and regional levels.”

The World Food Programme (WFP) projects that the number of people facing acute food insecurity could rise from 135 million to 265 million in 2020 as a result of COVID-19.  According to the WFP, five of the countries that had the worst food crisis in 2019 were located in Africa; Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Arif Husain, economist for the WFP said: “COVID-19 is potentially catastrophic for millions who are hanging by a thread. It is a hammer blow for millions more who can only eat it they earn a wage. Lockdowns and global economic recession have already decimated their nest eggs. It only takes one more shock—like COVID-19 to push them over the edge.”

A New Financial Architecture Required

While debt cancellation is essential, international and federal mechanisms are required to issue i.e. create new lines of credit to build up nation-wide advanced healthcare infrastructure, which all African nations lack. This endeavor should be part of a much larger undertaking to place African nations on a path to become developed industrialized economies.  I discuss the importance of emerging nations  to generate physical economic wealth in my earlier article: World Needs New Economic Platform to Fight COVID-19Trillions of dollars of new credit must become accessible for African nations to address the dearth of infrastructure in energy, roads, railroads, and healthcare, that is literally killing Africans, every day. Successful transformation of African nations requires an urgent focus on nurturing combined manufacturing-agricultural processing industries. Speaking at a Johns Hopkins webinar on April 22, Gyude Moore, former Liberian Minster of Public Works (2014-2018) emphasized that creating manufacturing jobs is essential to transitioning to a more developed economy.

What has been glaringly brought to the surface by the combined COVID-19 pandemic and the malnourishment of Africa’s population is; that the global economic-political system of the last five decades has failed. A new financial architecture is compulsory to save lives and put civilization on the trajectory of progress. This new financial architecture should encompass the following essential missions in Africa:

  • Cancellation of debt
  • New credit generation for physical economic growth
  • Massive investment in hard infrastructure
  • Urgent mobilization to establish modern health infrastructure
  • Significant upgrading of manufacturing and agricultural sectors

It is unacceptable in the twenty-first century for every nation not to be equipped with advanced modern healthcare infrastructure.  One of the most egregious defects of globalization is that nations have become dependent on imported food from thousands of miles away because it is somehow construed to be cheaper than producing food at home.

Nations exist to foster the continuation of a human culture moored to the conception that human life is sacred. There is no equivalency between servicing debt and safeguarding human life.  Money really has no intrinsic value. Banks are mere servicing bureaus of an economy.  Governments legitimately create credit to generate future physical wealth to benefit their citizens. When borrowing or lending arrangements fail to benefit society then they should be restructured or cancelled. Such financial reorganizations have been achieved many times throughout history.

PM Abiy has brought to the attention of the world, a profound underlying principle that should govern all national and international policy: the promotion of human life is supreme, monetary instruments are not.

Mauritanian herders (Courtesy of UN-FAO)
Delaying the repayments to the Group of 20 is not enough.

By Abiy Ahmed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, 2019

April 30, 2020, New York Times

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — On April 15, Group of 20 countries offered temporary relief to some of the world’s lowest-income countries by suspending debt repayments until the end of the year. It is a step in the right direction and provides an opportunity to redirect financial resources toward dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

But if the world is to survive the punishing fallout of the pandemic and ensure that the economies of countries like mine bounce back, this initiative needs to be even more ambitious.

At the very least, the suspension of debt payments should last not just until the end of 2020 but rather until well after the pandemic is truly over. It should involve not just debt suspension but debt cancellation. Global creditors need to waive both official bilateral and commercial debt for low-income countries.

These steps need to be taken with a sense of urgency. The resources freed up will save lives and livelihoods in the short term, bring back hope and dynamism to low-income economies in the medium term and enable them to continue as the engines of sustainable global prosperity in the long term.

In 2019, 64 countries, nearly half of them in sub-Saharan Africa, spent more on servicing external debt than on health. Ethiopia spends twice as much on paying off external debt as on health. We spend 47 percent of our merchandise export revenue on debt servicing. The International Monetary Fund described Ethiopia as being at high risk of external debt distress.

The dilemma Ethiopia faces is stark: Do we continue to pay toward debt or redirect resources to save lives and livelihoods? Lives lost during the pandemic cannot be recovered; imperiled livelihoods cost more and take longer to recover.

Immediate and forceful action on debt will prevent a humanitarian disaster today and shore up our economy for tomorrow. We need to immediately divert resources from servicing debt toward responding adequately to the pandemic. We need to impede a temporary health crisis from turning into a chronic financial meltdown that could last for years, even decades.

Ethiopia must spend an extra $3 billion by the end of 2020 to address the consequences of the pandemic, while our balance of payments is set to deteriorate. Increasing health care spending is essential, irrespective of debt levels, but we have less money on hand, and much of it is due to creditors.

A moratorium on bilateral and commercial debt payments for the rest of this year will save Ethiopia $1.7 billion. Extending the moratorium till the end of 2022 would save an additional $3.5 billion.

Low income countries can use the financial resources freed up by cancellation or further deferment of debt repayments to invest in our battle against the pandemic, from providing necessary medical care to our citizens to ameliorating our financial difficulties.

In October, the I.M.F. reported that the five fastest-growing economies in the world were in sub-Saharan Africa, which includes Ethiopia. In early April, the World Bank reported that sub-Saharan Africa would face its first region wide recession in over 25 years and the region’s economy could shrink by as much as 5.1 percent.

This is not a result of bad policies, mismanagement or any other ill typically associated with developing economies. The recession will be the product of the coronavirus outbreak.

Preventing or at least minimizing the recession is critical to maintaining years of hard-won economic gains across the continent. The current moratorium in bilateral debt collection until the end of the year will help, but it won’t be enough, given the gravity of the challenge we face.

The moratorium must be extended until the coronavirus health emergency is over or canceled altogether. The creditors need to do this unconditionally.

Official bilateral creditors are no longer the principal source of external debt financing for many developing countries. Private-sector creditors, including investment banks and sovereign funds, are. They should play their part in the effort to rescue African economies from permanent paralysis with a sense of solidarity and shared responsibility. It would help avoid widespread sovereign defaults and chaos in the market.

And it would be morally indefensible if resources freed up from a moratorium in bilateral debt collections were to be used to pay private creditors instead of saving lives.

Most of our countries managed to borrow funds on the back of solid economic performance and highly promising and evidence-based development programs and trajectories. Nobody foresaw this promise being derailed by a once-in-a-century event such as the coronavirus pandemic.

Under these circumstances, there is no room for traditional arguments such as moral hazard. Low-income countries are seeking relief not because we squandered the money but because we need the resources to save lives and livelihoods.

It is in everybody’s enlightened self-interest that the borrowers be allowed breathing space to get back to relative health. The benefits of rehabilitation of the economies of the hardest-hit countries will be shared by all of us, just as the consequences of neglect will harm all of us.

Read: New Economic Order Required to Combat COVID-19 in Africa

*Lawrence Freeman is a Political-Economic Analyst for Africa, who has been involved in the economic development policy of Africa for 30 years. He is the creator of the blog: lawrencefreemanafricaandtheworld.com

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COVID19: African Union in Discussions with Madagascar over herbal remedy
May 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Union is in discussion with the Republic of Madagascar, through its embassy in Addis Ababa, with a view to obtain technical data regarding the safety and efficiency of a herbal remedy, recently announced by Madagascar for the reported prevention and treatment of COVID19.

In this regard, the AU Commissioner for Social Affairs H.E Amira ElFadil convened a meeting with the Chargé d’Affaires of the Republic of Madagascar Mr. Eric Randrianantoandro on 30th April at which it was agreed that the member state would furnish the African Union with necessary details regarding the herbal remedy.

Once furnished with the details, the Union, through the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), will review the scientific data gathered so far on the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 Organics. This review will be based on global technical and ethical norms to garner the necessary scientific evidence regarding the performance of the tonic.

These developments follow the participation of Madagascar’s President H.E. Andry Rajoelina in a teleconference Meeting of the Bureau of the Assembly of AU Heads of State and Government with the Chairpersons of the AU Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on 29 April 2020, in which he participated as Chairperson of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and where he made a presentation to his peers regarding the herbal remedy.

The teleconference was convened by H.E. President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa of the Republic of South Africa, and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), and had the aim of apprising the Chairpersons of the RECs about the actions and initiatives undertaken by the African Union in response to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the continent. The meeting also provided a platform for the Chairpersons of the RECs to brief the Bureau about regional measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

About Africa CDC
Africa CDC is a specialized technical institution of the African Union which supports Member States in their efforts to strengthen health systems and improve surveillance, emergency response, prevention and control of diseases.

*Source AU

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IMF should issue special drawing rights as grants to Africa
May 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Thomas Boni Yayi*

*Dr Yayi is former President of the Republic of Benin .Photo Credit Paul J. Richards/AFP via Getty Images

Since the start of the Covid-19 health crisis, the global economy has been grounded in one quarter with a likely annual growth forecast of -3% in 2020, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

In Europe, taboos are falling. On March 20, 2020, the European Commission announced an unprecedented suspension of budgetary discipline rules. Ongoing negotiations between heads of state and government over a new stimulus package to prevent economic disaster is estimated to be around €$1 trillion. The European Central Bank (ECB), for its part, in its will to do “everything necessary within the framework of its mandate to help the eurozone to overcome this crisis”, announced €$1 billion in massive assets buyouts in the financial markets throughout 2020.

The United States has responded to the economic devastation caused by the coronavirus with the largest economic relief programme in its history, at $3 trillion. At the same time, the US Federal Reserve (The Fed) has indicated its willingness to buy an essentially unlimited amount of public debt – a very aggressive programme of financial instruments buybacks by the end of 2020 of nearly $3 billion.

With regards to economic solutions adapted to Africa, I think there are essentially two challenges which need to be separated: first, that of mobilizing new resources to finance the response to the virus crisis; then the cancellation of Africa’s debt as part of a strategic partnership without undermining the attractiveness of the continent.

Consequently, I suggest that the IMF, in addition to the first aid package already distributed to some African states, should issue Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), to the tune of  €114 billion, which corresponds to the needs of the African continent according to indications provided by the Managing Director of the IMF, Kristalina Georgieva, to enable Africa – whose central banks do not have the same capacity to respond as those of China, the United States or the euro zone – address the negative impact of this health crisis as quickly as possible.

We will either triumph, or perish, together. Therefore, Africa cannot and should not be left on the margins of the various measures supported by central banks in Europe, the Americas or Asia. This IMF assistance, through the issuance of SDRs will be convertible with central banks such as the Fed, the ECB, the Central Bank of Japan and the Central Bank of China, determined to support African states to tackle this COVID-19 crisis.  This support will allow the strengthening of the external assets of African central banks whose capacity in relation to their long-term commitment does not cover more than 4 to 5 months of imports.

The overall needs of the African continent can be assessed on the basis of regional economic communities  and  the  use  of  resources  must  be  done  in  strict  compliance  with  the  good governance prescribed by the African Peer Review Mechanism (MAEP).

These investment requirements relate to the modernisation of hospital infrastructure, precautionary measures, treatment, education and skills’ training of hospital staff, not to mention social protection for citizens, economic recovery, price stability and the reduction of unemployment.

With regards to the cancellation of Africa’s debt, the speed required to manage the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus cannot be hampered by issues that have always aroused the hesitation of the creditor states. While recognizing the correctness of this request and referring to the reluctance of the G20 to stick to the one-year moratoriums on the payment of debt service, I welcome the initiative of the African Union to set up a committee which, in addition to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, would give impetus to Africa’s request for debt cancellation.

In  the  1990s,  Africa  already  benefited  from  the  HIPC  (Heavily  Indebted  Poor  Countries) initiative with the cancellation of bilateral and multilateral debt. This initiative cast doubt on the solvency  of  the  continent.  This  second  request  for  cancellation  would  probably  merit negotiations at three levels: at the level of multilateral institutions, at the level of States and at the level of the private sector.

If this request were to be taken into account, would it not raise some questions at the level of multilateral banks? A cancellation of their receivables will have an impact on their creditworthiness. At the state level, negotiations are possible but it is the same creditors who feed multilateral institutions. The question is whether a country like China, a member of the G20, is prepared to cancel its debt on the continent, which is 40% of Africa’s debt – and about $360 billion. Finally, in the private sector, there is the question of who will reimburse them?

These are obstacles that will take a long time while the treatment of this virus requires speedy action to be taken to contain the human and economic devastation. We will certainly end up with treatment on a case-by-case basis.

In conclusion, I suggest an emergency issuance of Special Drawing Rights for Africa by the IMF, which already involves the main contributors to IMF resources. Only genuinely united and globally coordinated management of this health crisis can save humanity. We are no longer at the stage of making promises. We must stop the mass deaths we witness on a daily basis and revive economic activities.

*Courtesy of Daily Trust.Dr Yayi is former President of the Republic of Benin, former Chairman in Office of West African Economic and Monetary Union, and former President of the African Union-AU

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The Way Forward: How Africa Can Make a Comeback from the Oil & Gas Downturn
May 4, 2020 | 0 Comments
NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of pan-African corporate law conglomerate Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.
NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of pan-African corporate law conglomerate Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

By NJ Ayuk *

There has been a ray of hope: a landmark production-cut agreement among OPEC, OPEC+ and G20 stakeholders on April 12 put an end to the oil price war

Stunning drops in crude oil prices—the result of COVID-19-related declines in demand and an oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia—have been taking their toll around the globe this spring. For Africa’s oil-producing countries, where crude oil exports make up a large portion of their revenue, the situation is especially dire.

In Nigeria, for example, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed recently warned of an imminent recession and requested billions of dollars in international emergency funding. As of the second week of April, national oil production in Angola was expected to fall from 1.8 million to 1.36 million barrels per day as the government prepared to freeze 30% of its goods and services budget. And Ghana, according to the Africa Centre for Energy Policy, stands to see a 53% shortfall this year in projected revenue from crude oil sales. There are similar difficulties across the continent.

There has been a ray of hope: a landmark production-cut agreement among OPEC, OPEC+ and G20 stakeholders on April 12 put an end to the oil price war. Shortly after that historical agreement, the African Petroleum Producers Organization (APPO) committed to significant crude production cuts of its own, effective May 1. While demand remains a concern, the production cuts will help lower oil inventories and should bring some stability to the oil market.

I am not saying we can expect smooth sailing from this point on. There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to test African countries on multiple fronts, from the health and safety dangers it poses to our people to the economic devastation and low demand for crude. The situation is painful, but it’s not permanent. And when this chapter is over, African countries will recover.

This is the time to lay the framework for that recovery. When demand for crude oil increases again, and it will, Africa will need exploration and production activities to resume. That means oil and gas ministries should be working now on regulations that foster a more enabling environment for investors and businesses. We should be fine-tuning our local content policies and exploring technologies that can contribute to a leaner, more profitable petroleum sector. Last October, I released a book that explains how we can accomplish these things, along with other measures that will help Africa better capitalize on its oil and gas resources. The ideas and examples it provides remain on point. We can still do this.

Exploring Solutions

With demand for oil at a historic low, it may seem odd to talk about E&P activity. But, as I have said, the situation we find ourselves in now is temporary. After we get through the current crisis, production will play a critical role in our economic recovery. We need indigenous companies involved so employees, business partners, and suppliers can benefit from these activities. We also need foreign companies that are willing to share knowledge and technology—and to create economic opportunities in the communities where they operate. That’s why it’s vital that government leaders take steps now to remove obstacles to launching production, from red tape and lengthy delays to excessive taxes. Governments also need to support smaller independent companies by breaking exploration maps into smaller sections. And we need better fiscal terms for companies like breaks on import duties.

This isn’t my first time to call for these things, I cover them in-depth in my book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals. But in the COVID-19 era, they’ve become more important than ever.

Local Content: Striking a Balance

African countries need to develop fair, balanced local content policies that create economic and educational opportunities for Africans without overly burdening foreign investors and discouraging them from operating here. A shining example of this kind of balance can be found in Equatorial Guinea, which I wrote about in Billions at Play. “The government enacted requirements for international companies to hire Equatoguineans, contribute to training programs, and work with local subcontractors. They were careful to balance the need to boost local industry, however, with the limitations of the current local industry. They understood how unrealistic it was to require 100 percent local content until more training, education, and local capacity in that field is created.”

I’d like to see more African countries consider the example of Equatorial Guinea, along with successful local content policies in Nigeria and Angola, also covered in my book. Effective local content is key to helping everyday Africans realize the benefits of Africa’s oil and gas resources. This is a good time for leaders to look at what works and what doesn’t in their own policies and make the necessary adjustments.

It’s Time for More Tech

COVID-19 has forced companies around the globe to rely on technology to function, whether they’re using it to hold virtual meetings or monitor vital assets. I’m confident that technological solutions will play an important role in the comeback of Africa’s oil & gas industry, too. In my book, I described technology’s potential to help indigenous African oil & gas companies operate more efficiently and boost profits, which in turn, benefits their communities and promotes economic growth. “Innovations such as the development of new ways to drill wells and handle equipment, the design of new seismic data collection programs, the management of petroleum data systems, and the monitoring and protection of internet-connected equipment have the potential to redefine how business is done in this sector.”

Now, with economic difficulties and low oil prices, benefits like these could be more valuable than ever. I encourage African oil and gas companies to work with one another, and with local tech firms, to augment their technological capacities. African companies also should be pursuing partnerships with foreign investors that are open to technical knowledge and skills transfers. Billions at Play describes the successes that Angola-based Friburge Oil & Gas has had partnering with international technology providers to drive efficiency and environmentally friendly production methods. We need to see more companies doing the same. Governments can support these efforts through local content policies that call for knowledge sharing, along with the creation of educational initiatives and public-private partnerships.

Long before the unthinkable happened, and COVID-19 changed our world, I made a case for strategically harnessing Africa’s oil and gas resources to create stability and economic growth. Now, because of the pandemic, we find ourselves in a difficult place with extremely low oil prices and faltering economies. As a result, some of those strategies I’ve recommended may have to go on hold. Nevertheless, the steps I’ve put forth to help us reap the full benefits of our petroleum resources will still have merit when we emerge from this trial. If we start preparing now to set them in place, they’re even more likely to be successful.

*NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of pan-African corporate law conglomerate Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

The Book Can Be Found Here: https://amzn.to/3b2Szk9

*Source Africa Energy Chamber
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Kenyans laud Uhuru’s appointee to lead military
May 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

President Uhuru Kenyatta with Lieutenant General Robert Kibochi
President Uhuru Kenyatta with Lieutenant General Robert Kibochi

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday, April 30 appointed Lieutenant General Robert Kibochi as the new Chief of Kenya Defence Forces.

Gen. Kibochi, who has been in the military for 39 years, is the successor of the outgoing Gen. Samson Jefwa Mwathethe.

“Further to these promotions and in line with the recommendation by the Defence Council, I have today made the following appointments; Gen Robert Kibochi to Chief of Defence Forces,” read the statement released by the State House.

Kibochi is a master hold in International Studies and is currently pursuing a PhD in conflict management. He previously served as commander of the Kenya Army and the Assistant Chief of Defence Forces in charge of Operations, Plans, Doctrine and Training.

He also led the Kenyan group in the UN mission in Sierra Leone from 2000 to 2001.

The Chief of Defence Forces serves one term of four years but the President can decide to extend his stay in the office by one year. Retiring Gen. Mwathethe has been at the helm of the Kenya Defence Forces since 2015. He was set to retire in 2019 but the Head of the State extended his stay for a year.

President Kenyatta praised the departing General for his exemplary services he offered to the country during his tenure.

“We have seen significant expansion in our military and enviable improvement in the defence capability of our forces; thus giving Kenyans confidence that their borders are well protected from any external aggression. During your tenure, we detected and expunge early enough a number of plans by those who do not mean well for our country, in good time,” said the President.

Gen. Mwathethe helped the country realized her economic growth while serving as chair Blue Economy Implementation Standing Committee.

“The Committee has made substantive progress in re-establishing the Kenya National Shipping Line, as part of the Blue Economy Programme. Once fully completed and operational, this will, indeed, enable us, as a country, exploit the potential we have in the blue economy, and consequently create thousands of jobs for our young men and women. It is my hope that you and I will continue collaborate in this effort,” he added.

President Kenyatta also appointed Lieutenant Gen. Levi Mghalu as the Vice Chair of Defence Forces and Major General Jimson the new Commander of Kenya Navy.

They will take over on May 11.

After the announcement, delighted Kenyans took it to the social media showering the President, the incoming and the outgoing Chiefs of the Kenya Defence Forces with praises.

“The Commander In Chief of all the Armed Forces of Kenya His Excellency Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta has spoken. We are listening to you Sir,” said Arap Mugo James.

“Unsung heroes, Silent Heroes being rewarded, Congratulations to all that have been appointed,” reiterated Immaculate Wa Harrier.

Francis Mwenja posted, “I am very proud with how you steered very well the “Blue Economy Implementation Standing Committee”. … leadership from services.”

“Brilliant soldiers give us hope for a better tomorrow, each day,” noted Festus Njau.

“I saw alot of respect, humility, hardwork and tolerance in General mathethe. I’ll miss his humility. GOD bless him in his other assignments,” said Makenzy Koech.

Shebby Adhiambo said, “Thank you commander in chief of the defence forces. Bravo the appointees!”

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Africa cannot afford LOCUST-19
May 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Akinwumi A. Adesina *

 President Akinwumi A. Adesina
President Akinwumi A. Adesina

We are in a battle against time to curb the COVID-19 pandemic. While tackling the Coronavirus pandemic has grabbed global attention, a new crisis that could claim a lot more lives is brewing in Africa: massive locust invasions.

Billions of desert locusts are ravaging countries all across East Africa, including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, South Sudan, Uganda, and Djibouti. It has been reported that their numbers are likely to increase by up to 400 times by June 2020, reaching crisis levels.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has estimated that unless quickly controlled, 5 million additional people in East Africa will be hungry by June.

An unprecedented race against time has begun to urgently stop the progression and potentially devastating impact of the deadly twins: COVID-19 and the locusts for millions in Africa.

We all know that rains are good for crops. But then when good rains also caused favorable breeding environments for locusts, the joy of rains has suddenly turned hopes of expected plenty into glooms of hunger.  Is the best of times becoming the worst of times?

Locust breeding populations have increased massively. The locust plague moves with devastating effects: imagine a carpet of locusts of up to 150 million locusts covering a square kilometer. And think about it, that they can consume crops in one day that can feed approximately 35,000 people. In East Africa, where FAO estimates that some 20 million people are already food insecure, the effects will be devastating.

The locust crisis emerges as the continent is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. These are tough odds to face.

Today, distressfully, choices for millions of the poor are oddly similar: to stay in confinement and escape dying from Coronavirus or dying from hunger staying at home.

It is already playing out. Food riots broke out a few days ago in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, as people trampled over each other, defying social distancing – prescribed to stem the spread of the Coronavirus – to get food. Coronavirus could kill, but hunger kills many more people.

With the lockdowns for the COVID-19 pandemic, pest control workers are largely unable to go out to spray. While restrictions have been lifted to allow aircrafts used to spray to operate, they can do little as they are largely unable to get access to the chemicals, due to disruption of supply chains.

It appears that those who escape the COVID-19 will soon face LOCUST-19. In East Africa alone, the number of hungry people could jump to 30 million people.

There are several lifesaving recommendations we can act on now. These include one, the creation of a “green channel” for the free flow of food and agricultural inputs and pesticides to control pest attacks. Two, putting in place measures to prevent food price hikes by releasing food from government grain reserves and implementing anti-hoarding policies. Three, rapidly scaling up food production technologies, including high-yielding, early-maturing, drought-tolerant, disease- and pest-resistant staple crops, and programs such as the African Development Bank’s flagship program, the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) initiative.

The good news is that the African Development Bank has joined the FAO as the frontrunners in this unprecedented race against time. The Bank has just approved a $1.5 million grant to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the FAO to support efforts to spray against the locusts and safeguard livelihoods in the East and the Horn of Africa. More help will be needed.

The last thing Africa needs now, as we are battling with the COVID-19 pandemic, is a hunger pandemic.

COVID-19 has taken the international community on an unpredictable journey. Thankfully, we can preclude and halt the locust crisis. For that to happen, we all must rally around the FAO to provide the $153 million needed.

COVID-19 cannot be followed by LOCUST-19.

* Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina is President of the African Development Bank

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Gambia:TRRC submits Interim Report to Government
April 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) on Wednesday, April 29 submitted its interim report to the Government. At a small ceremony held at the Ministry of Justice, TRRC Chair Dr. Lamin Sise handed over copies of the report to Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou for onward transmission to President Barrow.

Handing over the report, Dr. Sise apologized for the slight delay in submission but expressed delight that the Commission has now finished work on the interim report and will now focus on completing its mandate and working on the final report. He reminded the Minister that as per the provisions of the TRRC Act, the Interim Report just covers the Commission’s activities during its first year of existence and does not contain any recommendations. The recommendations will be part of the final report of the Commission.

Receiving the Interim Report on behalf of President Barrow, Minister Tambadou thanked Chairman Sise and all the Commissioners and staff of the TRRC for what he called the wonderful job they have done so far. The TRRC he said, “has set the bar so high as far as transitional justice and truth commissions are concerned around the world.” Minister Tambadou assured the TRRC team that he would duly transmit the report to the President and would do all he can to continue supporting the important work the Commission is doing.

In brief remarks, TRRC Executive Secretary Baba Galleh Jallow said the Commission is grateful for the continued support of the Gambia Government and the Justice Minister in particular, and especially for their non-interference in the work of the Commission. He said the fact that there is no government interference in the Commission’s work is particularly important because it safeguards the integrity of the TRRC process.

The brief handing over ceremony was attended by Mr. Hussein Thomasi, Special Adviser to the Justice Minster and TRRC Deputy Executive Secretary Musu Bakoto Sawo.

The Interim Report is available on the TRRC website (http://www.trrc.gm/…/…/04/TRRC-INTERIM-REPORT-Logo-Final.pdf) and Facebook page.

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Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the SDGs are even more relevant today than ever before
April 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo & Erna Solberg*

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg and President Akufo Addo are Co-Chairs of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates for the SDGs

Our world today is dealing with a crisis of monumental proportions. The vicious, novel coronavirus is wreaking havoc across the globe, destroying lives and ruining livelihoods.  The primary cost of the pandemic as seen in the loss of human lives is distressing, but the secondary effects on the global economy, on livelihoods and on sustainable development prospects are even more alarming. The International Monetary Fund estimates that our world has entered into a recession, and while the full economic impact of the crisis is difficult to predict, the costs of the pandemic will no doubt be astronomical, with preliminary estimates placing it at a whopping US$2 trillion.

The pandemic has utterly exposed fundamental weaknesses in our global system. It has shown beyond doubt how the prevalence of poverty, weak health systems, lack of education, and above all sub-optimal global cooperation, is exacerbating the crisis.

If there was ever any doubt that our world faces common challenges, this pandemic should categorically put to rest that doubt. The on-going crisis has re-enforced the interdependence of our world. It has brought to the fore the urgent need for global action to meet people’s basic needs, to save our planet and to build a fairer and more secure world.  We are faced with common, global challenges that can only be solved through common, global solutions. After all, in a crisis like this we are only as strong as the weakest link. This is what the SDGs, the global blueprint to end poverty, protect our planet and ensure prosperity, are all about.

Sadly, this ferocious, sudden on-set pandemic has come at a time when the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were getting good traction and a significant number of countries were making good progress in their implementation.  As the world is seized with containing the spread of the virus and addressing its negative and debilitating impacts, the reality is that countries are resetting their priorities, and reallocating resources to deal with the pandemic. This certainly is the right thing to do because the priority now is to save lives, and we must do so at all costs.  

That is why we must all support the call by the United Nations for scaling up the immediate health response to suppress the transmission of the virus, to end the pandemic and to focus on people particularly, women, youth, low-wage workers, small and medium enterprises, the informal sector and vulnerable groups who are already at risk. Working together we can save lives, restore livelihood and bring the global economy back on track.

But what we cannot afford to do even at these crucial times is to shift resources away from priority SDGs actions. The response to the pandemic cannot be de-linked from actions on the SDGs. Indeed, achieving the SDGs will put us on a solid foundation and a firm path to dealing with global health risks and emerging infectious diseases. Achieving SDGs Goal 3 will mean strengthening the capacity of countries for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks.

This pandemic has manifestly exposed the crisis in global health systems. And while it is severely undermining prospects for achieving global health by 2030, critically it is having direct far-reaching effects on all the other SDGs.

The emerging evidence of the broader impact of the crisis on our quest to achieve the SDGs must be troubling for all.  UNESCO estimates that some 1.25 billion students are affected by this pandemic, posing a serious challenge to the attainment of SDGs Goal 4; and according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) some 25 million people could lose their jobs with those in informal employment suffering most from lack of social protection during this pandemic. Unfortunately, these might just be the tip of the iceberg.

Crucially, in many parts of the world, the pandemic and its effects are being exacerbated by the crisis in delivering on clean water and sanitation targets (SDG Goal 6), weak economic growth and the absence of decent work (SDGs Goal 8), pervasive inequalities (SDGs Goal 10), and above all, a crisis in poverty (SDGs Goal 1) and food security (Goal 2). The World Bank estimates that the crisis will push some 11 million people into poverty.

Even at this stage in this deadly pandemic, we cannot deny the fact that the crisis is fast teaching us, as global citizens, the utmost value in being each other’s keeper, in working to leave no one behind, and in prioritising the needs of the most vulnerable in society.

As our world strives to deal with the challenges posed by the pandemic, we ultimately must seek to turn the crisis into an opportunity and ramp up actions necessary to achieve the SDGs. The spirit of solidarity, quick and robust action to defeat the virus that we are witnessing must be brought to bear on the implementation of the Goals. The quantum of stimulus and pecuniary compensation packages that is being made available to deal with the pandemic make it clear that, when it truly matters, the world has the resources to deal with pressing and existential challenges. The SDGs are one such challenge.

What is acutely needed is enhanced political will and commitment. Our world has the knowledge, capacity and innovation, and if we are ambitious enough, we can muster the full complement of resources needed to implement successfully the Goals. Buoyed by the spirit of solidarity, Governments, businesses, multi-lateral organisations and civil society have in the shortest possible time been able to raise billions, and in some cases, trillions to support efforts to combat this pandemic. If we attach the same level of importance and urgency to the fight against poverty, hunger, climate change and towards all the other goals, we will be well poised for success in this Decade of Action on the SDGs.

As the world responds to the effects of this brutal pandemic, and seeks to restore global prosperity, we must focus on addressing underlying factors in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.  We must not, and cannot relent in our efforts, even amid this painful pandemic. While some of the gains on the SDGs have been eroded, this should not deflate our efforts. They should rather spur us to accelerate and deepen our efforts during this Decade of Action to ‘recover better’, and build a healthier, safer, fairer and a more prosperous world, so necessary in avoiding future pandemics

* Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is President of the Republic of Ghana and Co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates for the SDGs and Erna Solberg is Prime Minister of Norway and Co-chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Eminent Group of Advocates for the SDGs

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COVID-19 Cure Found Claims Madagascar President
April 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina claims that his country has found the cure for COVID-19

Madagascar President Andry Rajoelina claims that his country has found the cure for COVID-19. President Rajoelina’s claims come at a time when various medical bodies are working day and night to find a cure for the devastating corona virus.

The cure which is known as Covid-Organics is a herbal remedy that’s produced from a combination of the Artemisia plant and other Malagasy plants. The Artemisia plant is the same plant whose ingredient is used in a malaria treatment.

President Rajoelina made the remarks while speaking at the launch of Covid-Organics at the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research (Imra).

The president said that people need not be worried when it comes to using Covid-Organics as tests have already been carried out to determine the effectiveness of the herbal remedy. President Rajoelina’s remarks were also echoed by his chief of staff Lova Hasinirina who in an interview with the BBC said that the herbal remedy had been tested on fewer than 20 people over a period of three weeks.

To ensure that everyone who is in need of the cure gets it readily, President Rajoelina said that the herbal remedy is to be given free of charge to the vulnerable.

The herbal remedy according to President Rajoelina works in just seven days and can also be used as a preventative measure. “This herbal tea gives results in seven days…and schoolchildren should be given this to drink…little by little throughout the day.”

Imra’s Director General Dr Charles Andrianjara supported the president’s sentiments saying the herbal remedy should be used for prevention. He also weighed in saying the results of the clinical observations they did showed “a trend towards its effectiveness as a curative remedy.”

Madagascar’s medical academy (Anamem) however was skeptical about the effectiveness of the herbal remedy saying the remedy had the potential to cause damage to people’s health as its “scientific evidence had not been established.”

World Health Organization (WHO) however said that there are no short cuts when it comes to finding cures for COVID-19. The health body said that it does not recommend “self medication with any medicines…as a prevention or cure for COVID-19.” WHO said international trials are still under way to find an effective treatment.

Several health experts including Professor Brian Klaas at University College London said President Rajoelina may put the lives of his people at risk owing to his remarks. Professor Brian Klaas said President Rajoelina’s remarks are dangerous for two reasons, “one is that some people will be taking it who should not be taking it…And secondly, that it will give people a false sense of security, so they’ll end up doing things that they would not otherwise have done and put themselves and others at greater risk.”

Madagascar currently has 121 positive cases of COVID-19 with zero deaths.

A few African countries including Senegal have shown interest in Covid-Organics. The Senegalese government spokesperson Abdou Latif Coulibaly while speaking to the country’s public broadcaster said Senegal is ready to give the ‘miracle’ drug a try.  

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COVID-19:Africa Must Review Health Care Systems To Avoid Donor Dependence- AU Rep Raila Odinga.
April 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

African Union High Representative for Infrastructure Development Raila Odinga says review its healthcare systems in order to evade over dependence on donor funds.Photo Credit Nation Media Group

Kenyan opposition Chief Raila Odinga on Sunday, April 26 said that the outbreak of Covid-19 has revealed how healthcare systems in Kenya and Africa at large are deficient. Overhauling systems to avoid over dependence on foreign donors is one of the lessons that must be drawn , says Mr Odinga.

In a series of tweets, the African Union High Representative for Infrastructure development noted that the country is not doing well when it comes to innovation in the healthcare. He called for strengthening of Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) to match the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Covid-19 has badly exposed our deficient healthcare infrastructure, indicating that we have only concentrated on prevention and cure. With covid-19, one person left to own devices is too much for everyone,” said Odinga.

“Let us question the dominance of US CDC (Centre for Disease Control) over KEMRI and its equivalents in Africa and seek ways to make these institutions independent, more attuned to Africa’s needs,” he posted.

The former Prime Minister reiterated that National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) needs strongest backup to provide quality medical cover to Kenyans.

“How to ensure everyone is able to pay for healthcare in a situation where one mismanaged infection can bring down a nation is a matter Africa must confront with urgency,” he insisted.

The ODM party leader asserted that Africa must review its healthcare system in order to evade over dependence on donor funds.

“When donors are overwhelmed in their own countries as is the case now, we are left badly exposed. Kenyatta University students have challenged us that with encouragement from government and private sector, innovation for healthcare can be done here, by us,” he said

A group of students at the university developed ventilators to help in the fight against covid-19. President Uhuru Kenyatta commended their efforts.

“Kenyans are showing they can invent and innovate… knowing our character is key to building our confidence to solve even more challenges that face our people,” said the President.

The invention was done by 16 students in less than one week. They said the idea came when they realized there are shortages in the country and the government could not import due lockdown imposed by several countries.

As of April 26, Kenya’s confirmed cases stood at 355.

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President Akinwunmi Adesina’s Transition to his Second Term must be smooth to deliver his Covid-19 commitments to Africa
April 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Dr. Patricia Laverley*

Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina

There have been several calls for mediation between President Adesina and his critics, in the interest of a smooth re-election process and transition at the African Development Bank

This article is intended to highlight the recent achievements of the African Development Bank under President Akinwunmi Adesina, underscore the need for a smooth Presidential re-election, and highlight the contributions of the Bank to COVID-19 containment efforts across Africa.

The current President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina is set for his re-election in May next month, during the 2020 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank, while many African countries will be struggling with containing the COVID-19 pandemic. The enormous achievements of President Adesina as Nigeria’s former Minister of Agriculture and his first term as President of the African Development Bank since 2015, have greatly contributed to the strategic repositioning of Africa in the global economy. 

Besides maintaining the African Development Bank’s “AAA” credit rating and increasing the net operating income of the Bank by 50 percent, President Adesina has helped to mobilize US$ 80 billion of new investment capital to support countries in Africa. For example, through the establishment of the Africa Investment Forum, the African Development Bank and its partners intend to leverage approximately US$ 300 billion of new private capital in Africa over the next 8 years.

In October 2019, the African Development Bank successfully completed an unprecedented 125 percent General Capital Increase (GCI-7), increasing the authorized share capital of the Bank from US$ 93 billion to US$ 208 billion, the highest in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964. ADB’s concessional window, the African Development Fund (ADF) was also increased by 35 percent, making more funds available to support low-income countries and economies in transition.

As a result of these achievements, President Adesina received unanimous support and endorsement by all 55 Heads of State and Government for his second term as President of the African Development Bank. This unanimous endorsement demonstrates the level of support that President Adesina has by all African Heads of State across the entire continent.

Need for a Smooth Presidential Re-election and Transition

By virtue of its corporate governance structure, the African Development Bank cannot be held hostage by any single individual. When an Executive Director, who is expected to provide managerial oversight of the Bank, assists in the preparation of allegations of breaches of the Bank’s Code of Conduct by the Bank’s President, one begs the question of the extent of professional integrity of the Executive Director. Could it be true, that some Non-regional Executive Directors appointed to serve on ADB’s Board are often former finance executives deliberately sent on exile from the capitals of their countries of origin, for one reason or the other?

To date, there have been several calls for mediation between President Adesina and his critics, in the interest of a smooth re-election process and transition at the African Development Bank. The United States still remains the second largest shareholder of the African Development Bank and President Adesina continues to receive overwhelming support from US government agencies and institutional partnerships.

The African Development Bank: Post COVID-19

Amidst the struggle of the COVID-19 containment effort and the need for macroeconomic stabilization across Africa, President Adesina, has remained focused on providing the much needed assistance to regional member countries and designing innovative financial instruments to help countries with the greatest need during this difficult period.  The African Development Bank, as Africa’s premier financial institution, has maintained its record of good governance and delivering crisis response programs to countries with the greatest need in a timely manner.

Moving forward, we hope that President Adesina will get re-elected for his second term in view of the overwhelming support he is receiving from both regional and non-regional member countries.  His more recent achievements in relation to COVID-19 include the launch of the US$3 billion COVID-19 Social Bond on March 26, and the US$10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility announced on April 8.

As we brace ourselves up for the changes envisaged in the post COVID-19 global financial architecture, we hope that President Adesina’s transition to his second term would be smooth, to enable him to successfully deliver on his commitments to Africa and help the continent reposition itself in the new era.

We remain resolute in our unflinching support of President Adesina and trust that the global development community would join us in endorsing his second term as President of the African Development Bank.

* Dr. Patricia Laverley is the Deputy Minister of Finance of Sierra Leone

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Down But Not Out-Former Finance Minister Komi Koutché on his Political Travails
April 23, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Komi Koutche and team believe his persecution is political with the intent to convict by default the most feared political opponent of the regime

Recently slammed with a heavy jail sentence on what he considers as trumped up charges the former Finance Minister of Benin is refusing to go down, and certainly not without a fight, a fight he thinks President Patrice Talon is scared of. In a recent interview, Komi Koutche says the cavalier manner in which the whole trial took place follows a systematic pattern of the current President trying to take out political opponents who pose a strong threat to his 2021 reelection agenda.

Under President Talon, the democratic gains of the last thirty years are been erased at a very alarming rate and the people of Benin must brace up to challenge this, says Koutche considered by many as the most formidable challenger that President Talon has now. While this is still to be verified, the extraordinary lengths that the government of Benin went to see this prison sentence leveled on him is unprecedented in the country’s history.

 I am Confident that the system in place that is destroying the values that have powered our country for about three decades now cannot last for a long time says Komi Koutche in discussing his political ordeal and other perspectives.

Thanks, sir, for accepting this interview, as we were getting ready for his interview, word came from Benin that a jail sentence of 20 years had been slammed on you for various charges, what is your reaction to this?

Komi Koutché: Thank you, sir, for giving me this occasion. In response to your question, I will just tell you that I am not surprised. Beninese or people who know a little bit about what Benin has become since 2016 when Patrice Talon became the head of the state are not surprised either. He clearly stated that what makes an African President renew his mandate is not the results of his actions, but his capacity to be a strong man who frames his own legal context and builds his own institutions to neutralize  major figures or challengers who do not share his point of view. That is what he is doing. He has a specific plan for all those figures who can contest and beat him in the next presidential election in Benin. After many other figures of opposition (included the former President Boni Yayi) who have already been sentenced on bogus charges by Talon’s private justice or pushed into exile far from their country, I am the latest on the list after almost three for years of a bogus process that I cannot waste your precious  time to expose here.

The jail sentence on Komi Koutche has done nothing to slow down his resolve to keep fighting for the restoration of democracy in Benin

How do you intend to fight back these charges and restore your good name?

Komi Koutché: Let me just let you know that there are no charges against me, but there are bogus fabrications of a government that has decided to run the state like a private company for the sole interest of the president and his supporters, and who cannot exist without neutralizing the major figures of the opposition. Just talking about the recent developments on the case without a brief overview of the whole matter could make you miss important aspects that your readers will need to base their judgement.

Let me restate that I have held many prominent political and professional positions in my country. My last position was the position of Senior Minister of Economy and Finance. Politically, I am also a major figure in my country. I was elected member of parliament in 2015 and narrowly missed to become the president of the parliament (the second personality of the country after the President) by one vote (41 votes for me and 42 for my challenger).

Before all this, I was CEO of the national microfinance fund, one of the major institutions established in 2006 to fight against poverty. During my tenure, all the legal audits were done according to the law and everything was approved by both the auditors, the government and the international organizations like for example the Islamic development bank. Also, under my tenure, that institution was the first public institution of support to microfinance to be certified ISO 9001 in the world. I left that position since 2013 and have held different ministerial portfolios.

Everything started in 2017 when Patrice Talon and his government broadcasted that they audited my management at the head of that fund. I just heard this through the new paper. How can you audit the management of someone without associating him to get his version of the charges you are raising against him? I filed an appeal at the constitutional court which stated that the government had violated the constitution as it is not possible to audit one’s management without associating him to hear his version. At that time the Minister of Justice was Joseph Djogbenou a personal lawyer of Patrice Talon. He left this position later to become President of the constitutional court. Therefore, he proceeded to reverse the decision on my case to state that this was not a violation of the constitution.

 On April 2nd, 2018, my lawyer in Cotonou called me to let me know that a judge wants to hear me on April 4th, 2018. Since 2016, I am in the USA. It was not possible for me to leave the USA and to arrive to Cotonou at that date. Then the judge signs a warrant of arrest on April 4th, 2018. I arrived in Cotonou early on April 6th, 2018 and showed up at the office of the judge. After many hours of hearing, he concluded that there was no matter to arrest me as the government was requesting through the persecution. He canceled the warrant of arrest and let me free. That judge will be later subjected to persecution. He was removed from his position of judge and the government changed the law on the superior council which appoints and punishes the judges.

The President now resorted to his council of Ministers and people close to him. Therefore, the justice system became his private tool to do what he wants. In July, he created a new special jurisdiction and transferred my case to that new jurisdiction. He later cancelled my ordinary passport in August and ordered my extra judiciary arrest. We filed an appeal but until the moment I am responding to theses question, there was no response. It was under such circumstances that the President of the new jurisdiction, a father in law of the Minister of Justice who was pursuing me and later became the President of the Constitutional Court, asked me to show up before him. How can I show up when the same government that wants me to show up has cancelled my passport and order an extra judiciary arrest against me?  Recently, the scenario was the same. My lawyer was asked to tell me to show up on April 3rd, 2020. He provide the stay home order issued by the state where I am leaving in the USA and raised the fact that all the airlines companies have cancelled , but as the goal was clear, they did not consider all this and  decided to sentence me. You can then understand everything. It is regrettable that some African countries are going back to a system that we decided to abandon since the beginning of the 90s.

May we know the reasons why you have so far avoided showing up in court, if you are innocent or have nothing to hide, why not allow the judiciary or courts in Benin to handle the process?

Komi Koutché: If you follow the way the government has organized this process since the beginning, you will realized that the aim was not to hear from me for any charges. The aim was to organize a process that kept me far from my country, and that could last in time to see if I will get tired to abandon my convictions and sell my soul to the government. If I did not do so, the strategy was to condemn me by default just to prevent me from contesting for the next presidential election. Can you tell me how you can cancel the passport of someone who lives in the USA and in the meantime invite him to show up before a special court in Benin? The other question I can ask you, is how do you think that a normal court can ask someone living in the USA to come to Cotonou now that the world is facing the COVID 19 and almost all the airports are closed? I never refuse to show up before the judge. When my passport was not revoked by the government, I showed up before the judge. But all the development after that as I restate in your first question showed that the aim in this bogus case is not to hear someone, but the aim is to keep someone far from his country because the President does not want to have an opposition.

Benin Minister of Finance Komi Koutche, left, and MCC CEO Dana J. Hyde, signing the $375 million Benin Power Compact in the presence of Benin President Dr. Thomas Boni Yayi, and  Vice President Joe Biden in 2015. Photo credit MCC
Benin Minister of Finance Komi Koutche, left, and MCC CEO Dana J. Hyde, signing the $375 million Benin Power Compact in the presence of Benin President Dr. Thomas Boni Yayi, and Vice President Joe Biden in 2015. Photo credit MCC

It is unprecedented in the history of Benin to have a government order an international warrant of arrest for a former top government official, under what conditions were you arrested in Spain and under what terms were you released?

Komi Koutché: Yes, you are right. Benin has been a model of democracy for over 30 years. Our constitution was the base of everything. The different Presidents who had led the country during the last 30 years since we entered the era of the democracy in 1990 have been bound by the constitution. Unfortunately, since we had a new President, a businessman who controls all the economic sectors of the country, his only aim is to sustain his power. And the only way to do so is to create bogus judiciary cases to weaken or to put in trouble the leaders of the opposition. I am not the first. All the major leaders of the opposition are today in exile. The justice in Benin has become the private justice of Patrice Talon who uses it as his personal tool for himself and against the people he is supposed to protect.

In December 2018, I was going for a conference of opposition parties in Paris where most of the major figure of opposition are in exile. The government followed my path and when transiting in Spain issues came up. The government had fraudulently notified Interpol that I had declared the loss of my passport, but I did not know. When I was stopped with my passport, the police of Spain called Benin and they lied that there was a warrant of arrest against me. Therefore, the Minister of justice had certified the already cancelled warrant of arrest and sent it to Interpol. After many months of an overwhelming procedure, Benin was not able to prove the charge alleged against me and the Spanish justice concluded that It was a political persecution and released me.

Considering that the government of Benin has revoked your passport, how is Komi Koutche able to move around the world now?

Komi Koutché: We filed an appeal with Interpol which at its 109 annual meeting concluded that it was political persecution and remove the order from Benin on my passport from its database. Furthermore, the African Court of Human and People’ Rights which sentenced the government to revoke the decision of cancelation of my passport. Obviously, I cannot go to my country because the government does not revoke it decision; however, since Interpol does not have anything against me in its database, I can travel until the date of expiration of my passport.

In what shape did the government of Presidential Yayi Boni that you served under leave Benin and in what shape do you find it today, in other words, what has changed for Benin since you left office?

Komi Koutché: What is important is what our democracy was  like when Boni Yayi was leaving as President of Benin. The first indicator is that he was succeeded by Patrice Talon, a man who tried to kill him and who will  later become the candidate of the opposition. Such a thing can happen only in country with strong democracy. The Benin democracy, a label for  west Africa until 2016 has been destroyed. Today, instead of the parliament of Benin, we have a private parliament of Patrice Talon as he prevented all the parties of opposition from contesting in  for the last election. There were protesters who were killed by the army under on his orders. Benin is not so far from what Gulag has been in the past.

The second thing is about the economy. As the last Minister of Finance and economy of Boni Yayi, I can tell you and there are many reports to testify, we left a very strong economy with a robust and inclusive GDP. The economic growth was 5,2% when we were leaving. It was inclusive as many social programs were in place to help underprivileged people to improve their living conditions. What has all this become today? Only God can tell you. Since 2016, there is no credible source of data. There is no contradiction on the performances that the government communicates. The few people who try to challenge the data that the government communicates are jailed. What I know is that we have an economic growth of almost 7%, while the index of poverty has become deeper than before and the government has to go every month to the financial market to borrow money before ensuring the essential of its action.

 During the two tenures of Boni Yayi, we tried to build a strong middle class and to create programs that could ensure a transition of the underprivileged people to the middle class. all that has been destroy today and only people close to the President and his supporters can be wealthy. In other words, the middle class has disappeared and the underprivileged people who were in transition to the middle class have become poorer.

What needs to be done to put Benin back on the right path and once more make it the promising example of democracy that it used to be?

Komi Koutché: The first thing will be to reconquer the democracy. The situation of Benin today is critical and even worst than what it has been before the national conference of 1990. Benin need to be rebuilt. That requires forgiveness from all those millions of people who are injured in all sorts of ways by the actions of the current government which does not care about the wellbeing of the population. Their main has been to stifle all opposition to their bizarre type of leadership and to create a class of privileged people. The population is ready to restore the democratic values they are used to. Unfortunately, the use of the army and police to kill is a something that Beninese are not use to.

Some of your supporters say the reason President Talon is coming after you so hard is because you are a potential rival for the 2021 elections, does Komi Koutché have any political ambitions or plans to challenge Talon in 2021?

Komi Koutché: That sums all the agitation from President Talon and his team towards me. The President is seeing in me, his strongest challenger and  since he wants to maintain power at all cost after taking control of all sectors of the economy, the only strategy guiding all this is to make me unable to run for the next election as he already did for other leaders of opposition.

With all what he has been through and in exile, Komi Koutche remains a formidable opponent for President Talon
With all what he has been through and in exile, Komi Koutche remains a formidable opponent for President Talon

This interview is been done at a time when the Africa is beginning to feel the crunch of the coronavirus, what is your assessment of the response from government in fighting the pandemic,  and what advise do you give to your compatriots in Benin to stay safe?

Komi Koutché: We have to worry about the potential development of the coronavirus in the coming weeks in Africa. Regarding how the situation is hard for the developed countries, it is important to be thinking about what the situation will be if the crisis has to reach a certain level in Africa. I must recognize here that some African leaders have took the threats of the coronavirus seriously and initiated some relevant dispositions that need to be highlighted. For example, for the west African region, which is the region I know the best, countries like Senegal, Togo, Cote d’Ivoire, Nigeria, and Niger take the crisis in serious. However, there are some countries that are still playing with this dangerous crisis which may not be far from a world war III. For example, the borders and the airports of Benin are still open while the number of cases are increasing.

As a former finance Minister, you certainly understand the impact that the coronavirus will have on African economies, what are some of the things Benin and other African countries could do to mitigate the economic shock from the coronavirus?

Komi Koutché: The coronavirus will leave the world in a new situation. We are undoubtedly moving toward a new order in the world. The crisis will impact most of the economies but will also create a mutation in the interactions among people. In the countries where the leaders will not be able to find the right solutions, the crisis could lead to social crisis that can cause a problem of stability and security. The only way to mitigate, is to be aware that this crisis can be more dangerous than a world war III, as there is no party to discuss a cease fire with. Once the leaders are aware of that; they will need to find strong solutions that can simultaneously address the coronavirus and prevent from social crisis. That is where we have to congratulate the African leaders who have initiated solutions to address the crisis and to help their populations also during this period of crisis.

As we wrap up this interview, what are your future plans, when do you plan on returning to Benin?

Komi Koutché: Thank you for this occasion. Let me not disclose my strategy here. You will see later what I am going to do.

And a last question on the future of Benin, what gives you a reason to hope and what are your fears?

Komi Koutché: I have strong reason to hope for my country. The most important one is the level of determination of the youth. I do not have any fear because I am confident that the system in place that is destroying the values that have powered our country for about three decades now cannot last for a long time.

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COVID 19 & Beyond:Time For Africa To Look Inward For Solutions-Former Mauritius President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim
April 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Dr Ameenah Gurib was the first female President of Mauritius. Photo credit Forbes Africa

As Africa grapples with adequate measures to cushion the ravages of COVID-19, Dr Ammenah Gurib-Fakim says it is time for the continent to take ownership and leadership in solving its own problems.

Speaking in a skype interview from Port Louis, the Biodiversity Scientist who served as the first Woman and 6th President of Mauritius, says it is time that Africa digs deep in its pockets, bring out all the philanthropists , business community, governments , and all the full resources available to power the continent forward.

“Africa has resources, and should be able to change the narrative, work with the international community but more importantly should start investing in ourselves. Up until we start doing this, we will always be in the narrative of waiting for other people to come and help us,” says Dr Ameenah Fakim as she urges the continent to invest in institutions, and training human capital.

Addressing concerns about testing vaccines in Africa, Dr Ameenah Gurib Fakim says using Africans as guinea pigs should be out of the question.

“Whenever a trial is done on the continent it must be done in the right way, with the consent of the person, we do not talk about “guinea pigs” but volunteers, so the person who is participating in the clinical trial must have given his/her consent,” she said.

PAV: Madam President Good afternoon, and thanks for accepting to grant this interview.

Dr Ameenah Fakim: Good afternoon and you are welcome.

PAV: Let us start with the situation in your home country. How is Mauritius fairing with regards to the coronavirus pandemic?

Dr Ameenah Fakim: We have been in lockdown for the past two weeks, and as of today we are counting over two hundred and fifty (250) infected cases and seven (7) deaths.

PAV: There are concerns about the capabilities of healthcare infrastructures across Africa to handle the pandemic, how equipped, and prepared are health facilities in Mauritius?

Dr Ameenah Fakim: In Mauritius ever since we got independence, we have systematically invested in the health sector; the health service is free in Mauritius. We have also invested in the past fifty-plus years on social security nets. This has been one of the pillars in Mauritius, and right now I am very pleased that our founding fathers of this country had this vision to set up a social security net especially the wealth gap.

We are going to be stretched a bit. We keep getting a lot of infections, and what we are encouraging people to do is to stay home so that the pressure does not build on the health services in this country. Having said this, I am concerned about what is going to happen in the African continent because unfortunately, the infrastructure is going to be pushed a great deal but more importantly, if we look at the advice of the WHO they are talking about social distancing, washing hands properly, and in many places, unfortunately, these are still luxuries.

Many people are leaving in cramped conditions in one room, social distancing is out of the question, access to water is an issue, social security net in many of the fragile states is out of the question, and even food is an issue. We talk about people staying home, those operating in the informal sector they are going to be challenged because if they do not work, they do not eat. So unfortunately, in many of these places, the concerns are there that the COVID may not get them, but hunger will.

PAV: Let us talk a little more about the pandemic, what should Africa brace itself for, just how bad could this be and what impact do you see socially, politically and economically for the continent?

Dr Ameenah Fakim: The interesting thing about what is happening in Europe, and what we are observing in many parts of West Africa is that it has not hit so badly so far. I am not going to be controversial here, but could this be because Africa has been hit by so many of these pandemics they have developed somehow a little bit of resistance but already we are seeing that South Africa has enacted all the measures of social distancing, and all that so they are taking it very seriously. Whether we get the true picture of what is going on in Africa depends on the capacity to test. Now, do they have the means to do all the testing? That is the issue

We are just praying that the right measures will be taken on board in the African countries so that more importantly people stay away from those who are infected, and those who are infected have their tests, and have the appropriate care that they need.

In terms of political impact, one thing we have to address is what the COVID has done which has revealed the state of our institutions in the continent. When we talk about the state of our institutions, first is the healthcare system which we find will not be able to cope that much. The second issue which I have always been talking about is the exodus of our competence from the continent, and right now we need all the capacity we can have to be able to handle this and you know the ratio of Doctors to population is very weak on the continent. So, I fear that we may not have the appropriate human capacity to be able to tackle this pandemic. In terms of the pressure politically, time will tell but I think many governments will be under a lot of pressure to be able to address this crisis which the health sector is facing.

Africa must start invest in itself and do more in building its institutions says Dr Ameenah Fakim Photo credit: James Duncan Davidson/TED
Africa must start invest in itself and do more in building its institutions says Dr Ameenah Fakim Photo credit: James Duncan Davidson/TED

PAV: Leaders like Mohamadou Issoufou of Niger say the world needs to consider a Marshal Plan for Africa to help cushion the impact of the pandemic, is this something that you subscribe to?

Ameenah Fakim: I have signed a letter which we sent to the G20 in terms of the measures. We have a plea that people come together, governments come together, institutions come together to capitalise the institutions to help provide the social security net, provide medication all these. These are all our wishes that we will like to put to governments, and institutions. When we talk about the Marshal plan that was of course in 1948, it was done for a particular purpose, for reconstruction immediately after World War II. Right now we are talking about a global pandemic and this calls for countries to come together.

The scenario now is not the same as it was then. My narrative all the time has been African countries have got fifty plus years of post-independence history. It is time that we look at the continent, start digging in our pockets, bringing all the philanthropists, business communities, government because Africa is a very rich continent.

Africa has resources and should be able to change the narratives, work with the international community but more importantly should start investing in ourselves. Up until we start doing this, we will always be in the narrative of waiting for other people to come and help us. The international community has been going a great job of helping us. Beyond the solidarity, we need to start looking at ourselves and I mean this very seriously beyond the health crisis, we have a young population and we need to start investing in them.

We need to start investing in our institutions, training our human capital is our responsibility, keeping the population is our responsibility, so let us all come together to use our resources for the betterment of our institutions, and, of course, our human capital.

PAV: The African Development Bank is setting aside big sums to help African countries fight the pandemic. Considering the poor track records of managing resources across the African continent, is there a message you have for African leaders on how to manage these resources?

Dr Ameenah Fakim: If you look at a country like Rwanda, Paul Kagame after the genocide turned things around. This country does not have many resources, but I think it is leadership. We need to start looking at our leadership as I said invest in our institutions because this is something that will go beyond the lifetime of the leader. We need to start building our institutions, and it comes with investment, with investment in human capital, and in our people and institutions. We need to start building, it should have started yesterday, as we are here with COVID-19, we can start immediately after the pandemic is over but go and invest in our institutions. 

Next thing I will also like to point out is that Africa has just signed up to the Continental Free Trade Agreement, there is nothing to prevent West or East Africa trading together, bringing the necessary goods and services and encouraging the movement of people so that we can promote brain circulation so that we can promote human capital, trade, goods and services across the continent. So, this is something we need to start looking at very seriously.

PAV: There has been a lot of controversy in recent times about the vaccine and testing that are needed in Africa coming from two French doctors who said Africa should be the centre for some of these testing. Being a scientist and a former leader, do you think Africans should be concerned about participating in trial runs for any potential vaccines?

Dr Ameenah Fakim: Clinical trial is an inevitable step in drug development and vaccine development. Now, do we need to incorporate Africans in clinical trials? Yes, we need to incorporate Africans. We need to do it in the right way, the same way we do it in the United States, Europe, Asia, and other areas. We need more Africans in these clinical trials. The reason why we need more Africans in these clinical trials is that genetics matter. Whenever a drug is developed in the North it is tested with Caucasians, in Asians, unfortunately, we do not see many Africans being part of the clinical trial panel. Genetics matter because whatever dosage is being developed for a Caucasia or Asian person may not be the right dosage.

Whenever a trial is done on the continent it must be done in the right way, with the consent of the person, we do not talk about “guinea pigs” but volunteers, so the person who is participating in the clinical trial must have given his/her consent. Coming back to the issue on whether we should use Africans as “guinea pigs”, certainly not. Everything must be done appropriately but we need more Africans in these clinical trials so that the dosage and the drug whenever we are prescribing to African genotype it makes a big difference to his or her health.

PAV : Let us talk about leadership from former Presidents like you, former Prime Ministers, across the continent, what role do you think they can play in addressing such a pandemic and generally trying to make sure that Africa stays on the right path to progress?

Dr Ameenah Fakim: I think past leaders have the responsibility of mentoring and this is what I have given myself the task of mentoring girls in science because of my background. We need to educate our girls and to bring them there we need to be a role model for the girl who is growing up in a village in Africa to know that it is possible to reach a certain position through hard work. In the current pandemic, we have the responsibility of advocating, speaking to governments, addressing, and seeing how we can provide best practices. I feel that at this moment in time, we need to be able to know what are the best practices and how do we also speak to the people so that they can adopt best practices so that we can get this pandemic behind us.

Having said this, getting the pandemic behind us is short term, what we have to ensure is that the conversation and the communication still go on because a second or third wave is not impossible as it is already happening in some countries as we have seen in China, Singapore. We have to make sure that when we address this issue on the continent, the conversation remains alive so that we do not get this issue again and again, and I can assure you that we have not seen the last of the COVID. We have not seen the last of any pandemic because climate change will be the next pandemic we have to settle.

Dr Ameenah Gurib believes that any clinical trials for vaccines in Africa must follow standard protocols

PAV: Let us end this interview with an opportunity again for you to make a direct statement to everyday hardworking Africans on safety ad survival measures. How can they walk their way around this troubling time and with all the wave of panic across the continent can you also give a positive message on the way forward?

Dr Ameenah Fakim: I think what we have to do in this incident is to communicate, communicate to the people, encourage governments to do tests, tests and more tests. Hopefully, with the necessary financial measures that are been put in place, we will be able to provide the safety nets for those who are desperately in need for it. It also calls for a time of solidarity and I know that at the level of the African Union, there is an effort to get people to contribute to a fund so that they can then use that to help those people who are in desperate need. Here I have a special thought to those children because I am also working with Save the Children in Africa and I know that they have huge needs as well.

PAV: Madam President thank you so much for talking to Pan African Visions

Dr Ameenah Fakim: Thank you for having me. It has been a pleasure and as I said let us work towards getting rid of this COVID virus fast so we can start building ourselves again.

*Interview conducted earlier this month for Pan African Visions Magazine. To get Copies contact pav@panafricanvisions.com, and marketing@panafricanvisions.com

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2020 Commonwealth summit in Rwanda postponed
April 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Secretary-General Patricia Scotland and President Paul Kagame – Photo: Commonwealth Secretariat

Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) that was scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda in June this year has been postponed.

The meeting was due  on 22 to 27 June 2020. It would attract more than eight thousands attendees from across Commonwealth member countries.

The statement that came from the Commonwealth secretariat on Tuesday, 21 April, 2020 said that the new date for  26th CHOGM and associated events will be announced in due course.

“As a result of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, it is necessary to postpone the 26th Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to take place in Kigali, Rwanda”, statement read.

President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame said that focus for Commonwealth members has shifted to combatting COVID-19.

“In the coming months, every Commonwealth nation will be fully focused on combatting Covid-19 and its socio-economic impact on our people. Our organization’s deep reservoirs of solidarity and expertise will be invaluable tools as we work together globally to ensure no country is left behind”, he said

Kagame added that Commonwealth family will be welcomed in Kigali once the pandemic has been defeated.

Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC emphasized that CHOGM cannot be a good time at the moment while lives are being lost, economies shrinking due to COVID-19.

“ It is difficult to predict what the new normal will look like. We must be mindful of the risks large meetings pose to all. The current circumstances require heroic decisions. We stand together with Rwanda, and thank all our member countries”, she said.

The new date of the meeting is yet to be scheduled however due to the consequences of COVID-19, none can predict it this year.

Rwanda has been preparing itself for the meeting, building new infrastructures like roads, renovating airport etc.

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Rwanda tourism industry counts $36 million loss in one month due to COVID-19
April 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Hotels in Rwanda are the most affected among tourism industry

Rwanda’s tourism industry, the backbone of the country’s economy has lost more than $ 36 million since the coronavirus outbreak.

As of  2018, contribution of travel and tourism to GDP for Rwanda was at 14.9 %, however Coronavirus have  affected badly this sector  pushing it to the total shutdown with outright uncertainty for recovery.

Businesses people into the sector have asked government to intervene  by providing  stimulus that will help  to recover.

The survey conducted  by Rwanda Chamber Tourism of the Private Sector Federation, shows that by the end of March, over $ 36 million have been lost.

Survey predicts that such  loss is likely to increase as more members share data, and as well as the time the lockdown will last. From mid-March,  Rwanda is in total lockdown which is expected to end by 19th April 2020.

Coronavirus cases in the country stands at 136 as of 16th April, and it is likely to increase that the lockdown will be extended.

Data from the survey reveals that measures taken to contain coronavirus, have led to the suspension of more than 3800 workers in tourism industry, while weakening  capacity to repay more than $ 93 million loans tourism industry owes banks.

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African Development Bank Group (AfDB): Why Adesina Deserves a Second Term
April 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Lewis Chukwuma*

During Adesina’s tenure, the bank has seen its fortunes rise on several fronts, including the largest general capital increase in its history with a capital base of $208 billion dollars

During his tenure, the bank has seen its fortunes rise on several fronts, including the largest general capital increase in its history with a capital base of $208 billion dollars

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

Currently, at the helm of this continental behemoth’s affairs is Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, renowned development economist and a former minister of agriculture in Nigeria and is the eighth elected President of the African Development Bank Group.

He was elected for his first term as president of the development finance institution on May 28, 2015, by the Bank’s Board of Governors at its Annual Meetings in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. The first Nigerian to occupy that position, he has announced his intentions to pursue a second term in office at the bank’s annual meeting in Equatorial Guinea.

Significantly, his proposed candidacy for second tenure as AfDB president has drawn the firm endorsements of President Muhammadu Buhari, the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Perhaps, this may not be surprising because Adesina has demonstrated with his life’s trajectory that development economics fundamentally addresses transformation of the human condition for good.

While the ECOWAS decision backing Adesina’s second tenure was announced at the end of the 56th ordinary session of the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS, held recently in Abuja, Nigeria, the Executive Council of AU proclaimed its support during the 36th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council, held during the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 6-7 February 2020. The African Union Executive Council comprises 55 ministers of foreign affairs representing the member states of the African Union.

According to the ECOWAS, “In recognition of the sterling performance of Dr. Akinwumi Adesina during his first term of office as President of the African Development Bank, the Authority endorses his candidacy for a second term as the President of the bank,” ECOWAS said in a communique issued after the meeting.

The ECOWAS summit included a progress report on the region’s economic performance. It noted the role of the African Development Bank in the continent’s transformation and called for greater cooperation in order to fund projects in West Africa.

“The Authority takes note of the region’s improved economic performance, with ECOWAS real GDP growing by 3.3% in 2019 against 3.0% in 2018, in a context characterised by a decline in inflationary pressures and sound public finances,” the regional body further said in a statement.

More, the Authority commended efforts made on currency and monetary policy convergence in ECOWAS and laid out plans to advance the movement. These efforts are a key part of the regional integration agenda championed by the African Development Bank, as exemplified by the African Continental Free Trade Area, which aims to become the world’s largest free trade zone.

Meanwhile, as COVID-19, the viral global pandemic sweeps the globe, Sub-Sahara African region is no exemption to the economic shock. It’s worth noting that in its analysis, Renaissance Capital revised down the growth forecast for Sub-Sahara Africa from 3.5 percent to 1.3percent.

A proactive AfDB Group, under Adesina’s adroit leadership has also risen to the challenge and has announced a $10 billion facility support for African countries. In no small way, this has helped scale up a $3 billion COVID-19 social bond on the London Stock Exchange to help Africa deal with the economic and financial fallouts of the pandemic. Industry observers have commended AfDB president, Adesina, who under his leadership has made this support a reality.

Adesina has served in a number of high-profile positions internationally, including with the Rockefeller Foundation, and was Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development from 2011 to 2015, a career stint that was widely praised for his reforms in the agricultural sector. The former minister brought the same drive to the Bank, making agriculture one of the organization’s priority areas. In 2017, he was awarded the World Food Prize.

The World Food Prize Foundation lauded Adesina’s qualitative leadership and his visionary roles over the past two decades in promoting Agriculture with the Rockefeller Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA).

During his tenure, the bank has seen its fortunes rise on several fronts, including the largest general capital increase in its history with a capital base of $208 billion dollars. In the 2018, Aid Transparency Index Report, released by ‘Publish What You Fund’, the African Development Bank was ranked 4th among 45 development organisations around the world.

In Johannesburg in 2018, the bank launched the Africa Investment Forum, a fully transactional platform, to attract investment into Africa, with participation from private sector investors, pension and sovereign wealth funds, Heads of State and government officials to discuss specific investment deals. The Africa Investment Forum was an outstanding success by all measures. The forum delivered an impressive US$38.7 billion in investment interests, all done in less than 72 hours!

However, an apparently contrived crisis is stewing at the Bank. The AfDB president’s unopposed second term nomination doesn’t appear to sit well with some non-African shareholders, one of which was strongly opposed during his first term election. Recently, there had been some strong Board resistance by a number of non-regional member countries who were opposed to the COVID-19 support facilities and the lifting of partial sanctions for countries such as Zimbabwe and Sudan.

Besides the dispute over the pandemic support fund, there is complaint by some members of the AfDB staff against Adesina’s running of the bank. These allegations which were looked into confidentially by the Bank’s Ethics Committee, have been circulated widely and against Bank rules by a certain non-regional Executive Director who it is reported has never hidden his opposition to Adesina.

Among several allegations are that Adesina intends to ‘Nigerianise’ the AfDB by giving compatriots key positions and granting lines of credit to leading Nigerian companies with ease.”

Facts on the bank’s website contradict this as an approved list of projects show that Senegal, Cameroun, Tanzania, Rwanda, Namibia and others are key beneficiaries of about 75 projects worth $64.5bn. These countries have projects specifically targeting them, while Nigeria benefits more from multiple-country focused projects.

The publication of the allegations in a prominent French newspaper is providing credence to the perspective that this is a concerted effort by some forces to undermine Adesina’s credibility and thwart his deserved re-election. Interestingly, about a month ago, on March 13, a break-away group from the rank of petitioners filed a complaint against a key non-African Executive Director for allegedly misleading and manipulating the members of the group against Adesina.

Throwing more light on the botched plot to derail Adesina’s reelection, a staff group clarified their position: “We were members of the group called ‘Group of Concerned Staff Members’ until we understood that we were being manipulated by a group of non-regional Executive Directors, not for the good governance of the African Development Bank but to discredit the candidacy of the current President for his re-election.”

They further expressed outrage at the actions of an elected staff member, the Executive Director, who uses a group called ‘Group of Concerned Staff Members’ to take the AfDB hostage.

More, the breakaway group contended there are serious and repeated breaches of the Code of Conduct by the said Executive Director. The fact that the said Executive Director had breached the confidentiality requirements of the rules and regulations of the Ethics Committee, by providing “exhaustive reports of all discussions (during meetings or by email) between members of the Ethics Committee,” was damning.

Adesina, in a formal response to the allegations, insisted that: “The African Development Bank has a very high reputation for good governance”, adding that he has confidence in the Board of Governors of the Bank and pleaded that the Ethics Committee should be allowed to do its job without interference.

It is beyond doubt that Adesina will certainly have his day to defend himself. The emerging consensus is that on every single allegation, he is confident that he will be vindicated.

According to Henry Louis Gates, former leader of the African and American Research Institute at Harvard University, “People are afraid, and when people are afraid, when their pie is shrinking, they look for somebody to hate. They look for somebody to blame. And a real leader speaks to anxiety and to fear and allays those fears, assuages anxiety.”

Within the limitations of the continent’s extant peculiar political and economic milieu, in his five years in office and counting, Dr. Adesina has spoken to continental anxiety and to national fears and allayed those fears as well as assuaged the anxiety. This is his forte.

*Chukwuma is a public issues analyst

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After COVID-19, what will Africa look like in 2030 and 2063?
April 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka*

Participant leaders take part in a family photo at the African Union headquarters during the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020.
Participant leaders take part in a family photo at the African Union headquarters during the 33rd African Union Heads of State Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on February 09, 2020.
African leaders need to look in the mirror and ask where this continent will be in 2030 and 2063

The COVID-19 pandemic, one of the world’s most significant events, has resulted in cessation of economic activities that will lead to a significant decline in GDP, an unprecedented social disruption, and the loss of millions of jobs. According to estimates by the African Development Bank, the contraction of the region’s economies will cost Sub-Saharan Africa between $35 billion and $100 billion due to an output decline and a steep fall in commodity prices, especially the crash of oil prices.

More fundamentally, the pandemic has brutally exposed the hollowness of African economies on two fronts: the fragility and weakness of Africa’s health and pharmaceutical sectors and the lack of industrial capabilities. The two are complementary.

This is because Africa is almost 100 percent dependent on imports for the supply of medicines.

According to a recent McKinsey (2019) study, China and India supply 70 percent of Sub-Saharan Africa’s demand for medicine, worth $14 billion. China’s and India’s markets are worth $120 billion and $33 billion respectively. Consider a hypothetic situation where both India and China are unable or unwilling to supply the African market? Africa surely faces a health hazard.

The root of Africa’s underdeveloped industrial and health sectors can be encapsulated in three ways. First, some African policy makers simply think that poor countries do not need to industrialize. This group believes the “no-industrial policy” advocates who engage in rhetoric that does not fit the facts. The histories of both Western societies, and contemporary lessons from East Asia, run contrary to that stance.

Clearly, governments have an important role to play in the nature and direction of industrialization. Progressive governments throughout history understand that the faster the rate of growth in manufacturing, the faster the growth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

From the Economist magazine five years ago: “BY MAKING things and selling them to foreigners, China has transformed itself—and the world economy with it. In 1990 it produced less than 3% of global manufacturing output by value; its share now is nearly a quarter. China produces about 80% of the world’s air-conditioners, 70% of its mobile phones and 60% of its shoes. Today, China is the world’s leader in manufacturing and produces almost half of the world’s steel.” The keyword is “making”.

Two, rich countries therefore became rich by manufacturing and exporting to others, including high-quality goods and services. Poor African countries remain poor because they continue to produce raw materials for rich countries. For example, 70% of global trade in agriculture is in semi-processed and processed products. Africa is largely absent in this market while the region remains an exporter of raw materials to Asia and the West.

Lastly, African countries are repeatedly told that they cannot compete based on scale economy, and as well, price and quality competitiveness because China will outcompete them. For this reason, they should jettison the idea of local production of drugs, food and the most basic things.

The question is: How did Vietnam, with a population of 95 million, emerge from a brutal 20-year war and lift more than 45 million people out of poverty between 2002 and 2018 and develop a manufacturing base that spans textiles, agriculture, furniture, plastics, paper, tourism and telecommunications? It has emerged as a manufacturing powerhouse, becoming the world’s third-largest exporter of textiles and garments (after China and Bangladesh).

Vietnam currently exports over 10 million tonnes of rice, coming third after India and China.

How is it that Bangladesh, a country far poorer than many African countries, is able to manufacture 97% of all its drugs demand, yet it is next door to India, a powerhouse of drug manufacturing?

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed Africa. African leaders need to look in the mirror and ask where this continent will be in 2030 and 2063. Africa must adopt progressive industrial policies that create inclusive, prosperous and sustainable societies.

What then should be done? A three-pronged approached is urgently needed.

First, Africa needs a strong regional coordination mechanism to consolidate small uncompetitive firms operating in small atomistic market structures. With a consumer base of 1.3 billion and $3.3 trillion market under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the continent has no choice but to bring together its fragmented markets.

Second, Africa needs to build better institutions, strengthen weak ones and introduce the ones missing. No better wake-up call is required than the present pandemic.

Third, one important institution that has been abruptly disrupted is the supply chain for medicines and food, for example. Logistics for transporting capital and consumer goods across the region need predictable structures. Building or strengthening supply chains involve fostering and providing regulations for long-term agreements and competences that leverage both private and public institutional challenges such as customs regulations.

Finally, development finance institutions (DFIs) such as the African Development Bank are mandated to, and are currently, trying to fill the gaps left by private financial institutions. There is an opportunity to Africa to rethink and reengineer its future. The Africa of tomorrow must look inwards for its solutions. – whether in feeding its own people, build industrial powerhouses led by African champions.

The African Development Bank stands ready to help target and push for deeper economic transformation. Africa needs to execute structurally transformative projects that generate positive externalities and social returns. Keep our eyes on the days after.

*Source AFDB.Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President of the African Development Bank. He is a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering and Professorial Fellow, United Nations University. His recent book is “Resurgent Africa: Structural Transformation and Sustainable Development”, UK: Anthem Press, 2020.
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Kagame’s former bodyguard’s commander faces new escape attempt charges
April 10, 2020 | 0 Comments
Byabagamba (left) faces new escape attempe charges
Byabagamba (left) faces new escape attempe charges

Former President Paul  Kagame bodyguards’s Commander, Colonel Tom Byagamba  Force will  be arraigned  again  before military courts for additional charges alleged to have  committed while in detention.

 Rwanda Defence Force has announced that Col Byabagamba is suspected of criminal activities related to attempt to commit corruption and attempt to escape from a prison.

Suspected criminal activities committed by Colonel Tom BYABAGAMBA and his inside and outside accomplices are being thoroughly investigated.

“The RDF reassures the public that justice will take its course and will not tolerate any person who violates the law and RDF ethics and values”, the announcement reads

Col Tom BYABAGAMBA was arrested on August 24, 2014. On 27 December 2019, the Court of Appeal sentenced him to an imprisonment of 15 years and stripping off his military ranks.

He was found guilty of inciting insurrection or trouble amongst the population; tarnishing, as a leader, the image of the country or Government; wilfully concealing objects that would facilitate the execution of a crime; and contempt of the national flag.

Byabagamba, who once headed the Republican Guards together with his co-accused Brigadier General Frank Rusagara have recently appealed to the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) seeking to challenge their continued detention wich they call ‘illegal’.

Their appeal is yet to be heard by the East African Court of Justice.

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Oil Industry Welcomes Re-Appointment of H.E. Diamantino Pedro Azevedo in Angola
April 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
Diamantino Azevedo

The industry has welcomed the Minister’s reappointment and the continued confidence and trust placed on him by President João Lourenço

LUANDA, Angola, April 8, 2020/ — The Angolan and African energy industry has welcomed the reappointment of Diamantino Pedro Azevedo as Minister of Mineral Resources, Petroleum and Gas of the Republic of Angola by President João Lourenço today.

The industry has welcomed the Minister’s reappointment and the continued confidence and trust placed on him by President João Lourenço. Diamantino Pedro Azevedo was first appointed in September 2017, and has since then overseen a complete regulatory overhaul of Angola’s oil & gas sector. This notably includes new frameworks for marginal fields development, gas developments, licensing rounds and domestic capacity building.

“Minister Diamantino Pedro Azevedo has always ensured that our industry has a strong voice in Angola, Africa and across the world. We have seen him advocating for our interests and those of the continent at OPEC, and ensuring that our positions are heard and respected,” stated Sergio Pugliese, President for Angola at the African Energy Chamber. “Meanwhile, his support for a stronger industry dialogue between local companies, international oil companies and state institutions has renewed interest into major projects across the value-chain in Angola. We are delighted to see him continue leading our industry,” concluded Mr. Pugliese.

Under the leadership of President João Lourenço, Diamantino Pedro Azevedo has been a champion of key industry reforms in Angola, and managed to put back Angola’s oil & gas sector on track. The country has renewed its collaboration with all major investors over the past few years, including Total, Eni, BP and Chevron. Renewed engagement has translated into new discoveries, new final investment decisions and new fields being brought on stream.

At the end of 2017 for instance, Angola agreed on the contractual conditions for the development of Total’s Zinia Phase 2 development and its entry into block 48 with Sonangol. The negotiations resulted in the FID on the $1.2bn Zinia Phase 2 deep offshore development in May 2018, and the extension of the block’s license until 2045. Total also eventually started up production of Kaombo in Block 32 in July 2018 with the bringing on stream of the Kaombo Norte FPSO, followed by that of Kaombo Sul in April 2019. In December 2019, the French major further acquired interest in Blocks 20/11 and 21/09 on the back of more attractive fiscal and regulatory terms.

The same goes for BP, who signed an agreement with Sonangol in 2018 paving the way for an FID on the Platina field development in Block 18 and the extension of the bloc’s license until 2032. Finally, Angola formed a Natural Gas Consortium joint-venture last year with Eni, Chevron, Total and BP to to invest $2bn in gas exploration and LNG development projects and ensure supplies to the Soyo LNG plant.

*Source Africa Energy Chamber

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Rwanda: Government officials donate salaries to the fight of COVID-19
April 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

President Kagame (left) chatting with Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente during National Retreat
President Kagame (left) chatting with Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente during National Retreat

Government officials in Rwanda have agreed to donate their April salaries to help in the fight against coronavirus.

Their pledge comes when Rwanda registers 104 confirmed cases of coronavirus, in which four people were recovered and discharged as of Sunday.

A statement that came from Prime Minister’s office this Sunday, 5th April 2020 said that government officials ‘salaries will be forfeited, and be used in ongoing social protection initiatives.

“In the context of the fight of against COVID-19, and in the solidarity with the most affected Rwandans , the Government of Rwanda has decided over and above ongoing social protection initiatives, that all cabinet members, Permanent secretaries , Heads of Public institutions and other senior officials shall forfeit one month salary (April”, the statement said.

Rwanda is in a lockdown that is set to end by 19th April 2020. Life is hard for those who would get a meal because they have worked.

Government have set up a relief fund that help in distributing  food for the most vulnerable during the lockdown.

In late March during a national address, President Paul Kagame promised that government will do everything possible to support Rwandans “through this challenging time”.

“We know that this is not an easy period for most Rwandans, whose livelihoods have been interrupted across the country. But we ask you to be patient. Although we are making good progress, we cannot afford to relax yet,”  he said.

Citizens around the country were later  mobilized to help their neighbors during this difficult time.

Kigali Roman Catholic archbishop, Monsignor Kambanda Antoine on Sunday urged Christians around the country to share food with the most vulnerable as they move in a holly week  preceding Easter celebrations.

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Opinion: The pandemic is no time for fiscal distancing
April 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Akinwumi Adesina*

Akinwumi Adesina is the President of the African Development Bank

CNN)These are very difficult days, as the world faces one of its worst challenges ever: the novel coronavirus pandemic. And it seems almost no nation is spared. As infection rates rise, so does panic across financial markets, as economies drastically slow down and supply chains are severely disrupted. 

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. As such, it can no longer be business as usual. 

Each day, the situation evolves and requires constant reviews of precautionary measures and strategies. In the midst of all this, we must all worry about the ability of every nation to respond to this crisis. And we must ensure that developing nations are prepared to navigate these uncharted waters fully

That’s why I support the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ urgent call for special resources for the world’s developing countries. 

In the face of this pandemic, we must put lives above resources and health above debt. Why? Because developing economies are the most vulnerable at this time. Our remedies must go beyond simply lending more. We must go the extra mile and provide countries with much-needed and urgent financial relief — and that includes developing countries under sanctions. 

According to the independent, global think tank ODI in its report on the impact of economic sanctions, for decades, sanctions have decimated investments in public health care systems in quite a number of countries.

Today, the already stretched systems as noted in the 2019 Global Health Security Index will find it difficult to face up to a clear and present danger that now threatens our collective existence.

Only those that are alive can pay back debts.  

Sanctions work against economies but not against the virus. If countries that are under sanctions are unable to respond and provide critical care for their citizens or protect them, then the virus will soon “sanction” the world.

In my Yoruba language, there is a saying. “Be careful when you throw stones in the open market. It may hit a member of your family.”  

That’s why I also strongly support the call by the UN Secretary-General that debts of low-income countries be suspended in these fast-moving and uncertain times. 

But I call for even bolder actions, and there are several reasons for doing so. 

First, the economies of developing countries, despite years of great progress, remain extremely fragile and ill equipped to deal with this pandemic. They are more likely to be buried with the heavy fiscal pressure they now face with the coronavirus. 

Second, many of the countries in Africa depend on commodities for export earnings. The collapse of oil prices has thrown African economies into distress. According the AFDB’s 2020 Africa Economic Outlook, they simply are not able to meet budgets as planned under pre-coronavirus oil price benchmarks.

The impact has been immediate in the oil and gas sector, as noted in a recent CNN news analysis.

In the current environment, we can anticipate an acute shortage of buyers who, for understandable reasons, will reallocate resources to addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. African countries that depend on tourism receipts as a key source of revenue are also in a straightjacket. 

Third, while rich countries have resources to spare, evidenced by trillions of dollars in fiscal stimulus, developing countries are hampered with bare-bones resources. 

The fact is, if we do not collectively defeat the coronavirus in Africa, we will not defeat it anywhere else in the world. This is an existential challenge that requires all hands to be on deck. Today, more than ever, we must be our brothers and sisters’ keepers.  

Around the world, countries at more advanced stages in the outbreak are announcing liquidity relief, debt restructuring, forbearance on loan repayments, relaxation of standard regulations and initiatives.

In the United States, packages of more than $2 trillion have already been announced, in addition to a reduction in Federal Reserve lending rates and liquidity support to keep markets operating. In Europe, the larger economies have announced stimulus measures in excess of 1 trillion Euros. Additionally, even larger packages are expected. 

As developed countries put in place programs to compensate workers for lost wages for staying at home for social distancing, another problem has emerged — fiscal distancing.

Think for a moment what this means for Africa. 

The African Development Bank estimates that Covid-19 could cost Africa a GDP loss between $22.1 billion, in the base case scenario, and $88.3 billion in the worst case scenario. This is equivalent to a projected GDP growth contraction of between 0.7 and 2.8 percentage points in 2020. It is even likely that Africa might fall into recession this year if the current situation persists.

The Covid-19 shock will further squeeze fiscal space in the continent as deficits are estimated to widen by 3.5 to 4.9 percentage points, increasing Africa’s financing gap by an additional $110 to $154 billion in 2020. 

Our estimates indicate that Africa’s total public debt could increase, under the base case scenario, from $1.86 trillion at the end of 2019 to over $2 trillion in 2020, compared to $1.9 trillion projected in a ‘no pandemic’ scenario. According to a March 2020 Bank report, these figures could reach $2.1 trillion in 2020 under the worst case scenario.

This, therefore, is a time for bold actions. We should temporarily defer the debt owed to multilateral development banks and international financial institutions. This can be done by re-profiling loans to create fiscal space for countries to deal with this crisis.  

That means that loan principals due to international financial institutions in 2020 could be deferred. I am calling for temporary forbearance, not forgiveness. What’s good for bilateral and commercial debt must be good for multilateral debt.

That way, we will avoid moral hazards, and rating agencies will be less inclined to penalize any institution on the potential risk to their Preferred Creditor Status.  The focus of the world should now be on helping everyone, as a risk to one is a risk to all.

There is no coronavirus for developed countries and a coronavirus for developing and debt-stressed countries. We are all in this together.  

Multilateral and bilateral financial institutions must work together with commercial creditors in Africa, especially to defer loan payments and give Africa the fiscal space it needs.

We stand ready to support Africa in the short term and for the long haul. We are ready to deploy up to $50 billion over five years in projects to help with adjustment costs that Africa will face as it deals with the knock-on effects of Covid-19, long after the current storm subsides. 

But more support will be needed. Let’s lift all sanctions, for now. Even in wartime, ceasefires are called for humanitarian reasons. In such situations, there is a time to pause for relief materials to reach affected populations. The novel coronavirus is a war against all of us. All lives matter.

For this reason, we must avoid fiscal distancing at this time. A stitch in time will save nine.  

Social distancing is imperative now. Fiscal distancing is not. 

*Akinwumi Adesina is the President of the African Development Bank. He was formerly Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development and and is the 2017 World Food Prize laureate. The views expressed are solely those of the author. Click here to read the full OpEd on CNN.com

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COVID-19: Samuel Eto’o, Didier Drogba and others hit out at using Africa as “Guinea pigs” to test Potential Vaccine
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

L-R Samuel Eto'o and Didier Drogba blast calls for the test of a potential vaccine for the deadly coronavirus to be carried out in Africa
L-R Samuel Eto’o and Didier Drogba blast calls for the test of a potential vaccine for the deadly coronavirus to be carried out in Africa

Four times African Player of the Year, and Cameroon great, Samuel Eto’o Fils and Ivorian Legend Didier Drogba have both hit out at “racist” and “contemptuous” calls made by two doctors on French TV calling for the test of a potential vaccine for the deadly coronavirus to be carried out in Africa.

A video of the doctors’ comment was posted on Twitter by Senegalese forward and Former Newcastle and Chelsea player Demba Ba

Demba Ba wrote: “Welcome to the West, where white people believe themselves to be so superior that racism and stupidity become commonplace. TIME TO RISE

There are ongoing studies on the possibility of using the BCG vaccine that has previously been used for Tuberculosis, as a possible preventive vaccine for the coronavirus.

“If I can be provocative, shouldn’t we do this study in Africa where there are no masks, no treatment, and no resuscitation? Professor Jean-Paul Mira, Head of the intensive care unit at the Cochin Hospital in Paris asked on French TV.

“The same as for some AIDS studies where prostitutes try things because we know they are unprotected,” He added

Professor Camille Locht replied: “You are right. We are currently thinking in parallel about a study in Africa to make this same type of approach with the BCG.”

“There is a tender process that has gone out or is going to go out. We will seriously think about that. That doesn’t prevent us from thinking in parallel about a study in Europe, and Australia,” He added

Multiple awards winner Samuel Eto’o vented out his anger as he replied to Ba’s video on Twitter as he held nothing back. “Sons of Bitches,” He said.

“You are SH*T. Africa isn’t yours to play with,” the former Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Chelsea player said on Instagram.

Two-time African player of the year winner Didier Drogba equally vented out his frustration as he called the comments “absurd” while advocating against the use of Africa as “guinea pigs.”

“It is inconceivable that we continue to accept this,” Drogba wrote on Twitter. “Africa is not a laboratory. I strongly denounce this racist and contemptuous remark.” “Help us safe lives in Africa, and stop the spread of this virus which is destabilizing the whole world, instead of considering us as guinea pigs. It is absurd.”

He went on to add: “African leaders have the responsibility to protect their people from these heinous plots.”

Scientists across the globe are in a race against time to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus. Health specialist note that it could take 12 to 18 months before a vaccine is produce as it has to go through various tests before it is certified.

Dr Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said earliest the US could possibly get a vaccine would be in 12 or even 18 months — “at least.”

40 vaccines for the coronavirus are in development right now, according to the World Health Organization. A number of labs have begun human trials.

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