Merck Foundation meets the President of Namibia to underscore their long-term partnership with the First Lady of Namibia to break infertility stigma
March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
Merck Foundation launched their programs in partnership with Namibia’s First Lady together with Ministry of Health & Social Service and Ministry of Education
Merck Foundation to train doctors in the fields Cancer, Diabetes and Fertility Care to build healthcare capacity in the country
Merck Foundation to train media to break the stigma of infertility in partnership with The First Lady of Namibia
Windhoek, Namibia: Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany underscored their commitment to break infertility stigma and build healthcare capacity in Namibia during their high-level meeting held at the State House between The Head of State of Namibia, H.E. HAGE GEINGOB, The F irst Lady of Namibia, H.E MONICA GEINGOS and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation. The objective of the meeting was to explain and discuss the programs of Merck Foundation, which were launched in partnership with Namibia First Lady and Ministry of Health & Social Service and Ministry of Education.
H.E. HAGE GEINGOB, the President of Namibia emphasized “Namibia needs t he programs of Merck Foundation break Infertility Stigma and train media t o sensit ize communities about health and sensitive issues. Moreover, the training programs for specialized doctors are very critical for our people and their social and economic well- being. I wholeheartedly support Merck Foundation in our country, to enable the success of all their programs.”
The First lady of Namibia and Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother, H.E. Mrs. MONICA GEINGOS emphasized the importance of this campaign to break the silence of the Namibian women who suffered from the stigma of infert ilit y . Also emphasized the critical role her office is going to play to be the voice of these women to empower them through advocacy, access to information and change of mindset.
“I am very happy and proud of partnership with the First Lady of Namibia and Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother. This partnership will help us to break the stigma of infertility and empower childless women through access to information, health and change of mindset. It will also help us to train specialized doctors in t he fields of Diabetes, Oncology and Fertility care which will contribute significantly towards social and economic development in Namibia. We are committed to lead Africa to a better future through changing the landscape of healthcare in the continent”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.
Merck Foundation also plans to introduce other unique initiatives in t he c ountry t o create the desired culture shift with regard to breaking the stigma around infertility.
“Few initiatives include announcing the ‘Merck More than a Mother’ Media Recognition Award and Health Media Training for the first time in the country in partnership with The First Lady of Namibia together with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. Also, launching an inspiring children storybook of Paulus and Limbikani to strengthen family values of love and respect since young ages which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and result ed domest ic violence in the future. Also, involving Fashion industry to deliver the message of breaking the stigma of infertile women to the community in day to day life which will be achieved by out ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ Fashion Awards for Namibia and rest of Africa. We will also be launching our special project ‘Education Linda’, which helps young girls who are unprivileged but brilliant to continue their education.”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej.
About Merck Oncology Fellowship Program
The Merck Oncology Fellowship Program, a key initiative of Merck Cancer Access Program, focuses on building additional capacity through medical education and training.
The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.
Merck Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa and Developing countries. The program provides One-year fellowship program at Tata Memorial Centre – India, One and hal f – years Oncology Fellowship programs at University of Malaya – Malaysia, Two years Oncology Fellowship Program at University of Nairobi – Kenya and Two years Master degree in Medical Oncology at Cairo University – Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.
Launched in 2016, Merck Foundation has trained more than 80 Oncology Care Specialists from 26 countries which are: Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC , Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinee, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign
“Merck More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe and effective fertility care. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.
With “Merck More Than a Mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility on all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.
The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are: H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana H.E. FATOUMATTA BAHBARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry H.E. AISHA BUHARI, The First Lady of Nigeria H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad H.E. C LAR WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOUNGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia H.E. SYLVIA BONGO ONDIMBA, The First Lady of Democratic Republic of Congo H.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe
Merck Foundation is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda.
Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;
‘Merck More than a Mother’ Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training
• ‘Merck More than a Mother’ Fashion Awards • ‘Merck More than a Mother’ Film Awards
• Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
• Children storybook, localized for each country
*Source Merck Foundation
More than 600 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Africa
March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Twelve countries in the African region are now experiencing local transmission|
BRAZZAVILLE, Congo (Republic of the), March 19, 2020/ — More than 600 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in 34 countries in Africa as of 19 March, compared with 147 cases one week ago. Although the region has seen a significant increase in confirmed cases recently, there are still fewer cases than in other parts of the world.
“The rapid evolution of COVID-19 in Africa is deeply worrisome and a clear signal for action,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Director for Africa. “But we can still change the course of this pandemic. Governments must draw on all of their resources and capabilities and strengthen their response.”
Twelve countries in the African region are now experiencing local transmission. It is crucial that governments prevent local transmission from evolving into a worst case scenario of widespread sustained community transmission. Such a scenario will present a major challenge to countries with weak health systems.
“Africa can learn from the experiences of other countries which have seen a sharp decline in COVID-19 cases through rapidly scaling up testing, isolating cases and meticulously tracking contacts,” said Dr Moeti.
Understanding how the COVID-19 pandemic will evolve in Africa is still a work in progress. The response will need to be adapted to the African context – the demographics on the continent are very different from China, Europe and the USA. Africa has the world’s youngest population and it appears that older people are more vulnerable to COVID-19. However, preliminary analysis finds that people with underlying conditions are at higher risk. Across the Region, nearly 26 million people are living with HIV. Over 58 million children have stunted growth due to malnutrition. So it is possible that younger people will be more at risk in Africa than in other parts of the world.
WHO has been supporting governments with early detection by providing COVID-19 testing kits to countries in Africa, training lab technicians, and strengthening surveillance in communities. Forty-five countries in Africa can now test for COVID-19: at the start of the outbreak only two could do so. WHO is also providing remote support to affected countries on the use of electronic data tools, so national health authorities can better understand the outbreak in their countries. Personal protective equipment has been shipped to 24 countries, and a second shipment is being prepared for countries with confirmed cases.
“COVID-19 is one of the biggest health challenges Africa has faced in a generation,” said Dr Moeti. “We can only stop this virus through solidarity. And the world is coming together. Donors are stepping up to the plate and providing funding while private sector in many countries are offering their support as well.”
Lessons learnt in addressing previous epidemics are being used as a foundation to respond.
Basic preventative measures by individuals and communities remain the most powerful tool to prevent the spread of COVID-19. For this reason, WHO is helping local authorities craft radio messaging and TV spots to inform the public about the risks of COVID-19 and what measures should be taken. WHO is also conducting rumour management in all affected countries, and is guiding countries on setting up call-centres and hotlines to ensure the public is informed.
Malawi: President Mutharika denies to fire electoral body leaders
March 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By James Mwala
Malawi President Peter Mutharika has defied a recent proposal by parliament to fire leaders of the electoral body over their alleged incompetence.
This was announced on Tuesday at a press briefing in Blantyre.
More so, Mutharika has also denied to assent to the electoral bills passed by parliament earlier this year.
All these developments follow after the Considerational Court threw out an order for a fresh election and an urge for the parliament to table bills that would deal with among other things a clear cut definition of majority.
But in his reaction, Mutharika through press officer Mgeme Kalilani described the call by the Public Appointments Committee of parliament as not justifiable.
“The President sees that the committee acted unlawfully by not writing him on what they wrote in the invitation letters to the Commisioners and also they had not been informed about the agenda,” said Kalilani.
Essentially, Mutharika says he finds it unjustifiable for him to axe the Commisioners because they also administered the parliamentary and local government elections which have not been objected.
The Committee had after its inquiry with the Commisioners written Mutharika to fire them on premises that they failed their duties in managing the 2019 presidential elections.
Mutharika has also indicated that perceives the passing of the bills by parliament as unlawful and not in inline with the law.
He has since urged parliament to avoid usurping its mandate.
The South African nation has been faced with political twise after Mutharika’s victory was contested by Lazarus Chakwera and Saulos Chilima of Malawi Congress Party and UTM.
The court then moved to rule that a fresh poll be held in 150 days.
South Sudan: Peace Cabinet Ministers Sworn in
March 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s transitional cabinet ministers were sworn in on Monday to officially begin work, in an attempt to end the country’s six year conflict that has killed nearly 400,000 people, and uprooted four million from their homes.
The swearing-in ceremony of 33 ministers and nine deputies was administered by John Gatwech Lul, deputy chief justice in Juba and witnessed by President Salva Kiir, the First Vice President Riek Machar and four other deputy presidents.
Foreign Affairs Minister Beatrice Khamisa Wani and Deputy Minister of Interior Mabior Garang de Mabior who are under self-quarantine over the COVID – 19 fears are yet to arrive in Juba from Nairobi and will be sworn in at a later date.
“I wish you all the best of luck and I need you to succeed in your duties as you have made your oaths in front of us here. So as the head of the government I will work with you together and to see into it that we are doing the right thing,” Kiir told the ministers shortly after taking their oath.
President Kiir last week named 35 cabinet ministers to serve in the transitional unity government after a series of delays.
The appointment of the Ministers of the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity is a step forward in the implementation of the revitalized peace deal that would give chance for peace and stability in South Sudan, following the collapse of 2015 peace deal in July, 2016, a renewal fighting broke out in Juba a month after establishment of new unity government, forced Dr. Machar to flee the country.
However, Country’s Cabinet Affairs Minister Martin Elia Lomoro said that appreciated all the political parties for nominating them for their positions adding that they would do their best to correct the tarnished image of South Sudan.
He echoed that the duties and responsibilities of the peace government of national unity are defined in the agreement in which they are committed to implementing it to the letter and spirit.
He called on the newly appointed Ministers to cooperate with their Deputies and work hard for the development of the country.
“Mr. President, this is an opportunity you have given us as ministers to work for our country, to clean our faces that has been tarnished by the more than six years of conflict that everybody describes as unnecessary,” Elia said.
Cabinet minister further said they have accepted to serve the people of South Sudan to achieve permanent peace and not to return to war again and forever.
South Sudan, which gained her independence from Sudan on July, 2011 after decades of earth-scorched civil war, descended into conflict in December 2013 after political disagreement in with the ruling parties, then followed by President Kiir sacked his deputy Machar, who later founded the SPLM-IO, leading to conflicts between soldiers loyal to their respective leaders.
The formation of a unity government is yet uncompleted, as the governors of the states and advisors are not yet be appointed.
Also, the security arrangements remains as a loophole, as the unification of necessary force is not yet on the ground despite the appointment of a collegial presidency and cabinet ministers respectively in the country. Therefore, the implementation of this fragile revitalized peace deal remains at risky point.
Africa’s life after OPEC
March 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
–Underneath the panic caused by Coronavirus and the fall out of OPEC+ lies opportunity for African oil producers
By NJ Ayuk*
Sometimes it is easy to forget how interconnected human lives across the globe have become. Perhaps we no longer talk as much about globalization as we used to in the 1990s because it is no longer an issue to be discussed or protested against, it is simply the reality that surrounds us. And there is no cruder evidence of that than the Coronavirus.
Despite the fact that the virus hasn’t yet affected African nations in anyway as seriously as other regions of the world, a fact the World Health Organization is still unable to explain, forecasts already indicated that just through reduced demand for African exports, the virus was expected to wipe at least USD$4 billion in revenue from the continent’s economy. Most of that was simply because China in particular, and Asia and Europe in general, were reducing oil and gas consumption dramatically as transport and economic activities came to a standstill in light of the epidemic that already forced several dozens of millions of people to be put under quarantine.
Last week, news reports indicated that oil traders in Africa were unable to find buyers for fifty-five Nigerian oil cargoes as global demand crashed. By last Friday morning, the virus had wiped the equivalent of USD$5 trillion in value from the global stock markets. That’s two and a half times the GDP of the whole African continent.
And all that was before OPEC+’s Friday meeting in Vienna. Wasn’t that one surprising?
I believe it is safe to say that few people could have expected this outcome. After all, for the last three and a half years, the world, and the oil industry in particular, had learned to trust the alliance of OPEC countries with Russia and other oil producers to work together to stabilize the markets and guarantee a sustainable price for the barrel of crude.
Through their decision to cut down oil production to address reduced demand and balance out the effect of the US shale play, all together, they were keeping 1.7 million barrels of oil per day away from the market, a landmark decision of cooperation like we had never seen in history. Perhaps also because of its novelty, of its width and because it was dependent on the will and cooperation of so many, it also fell victim to the infestation this virus has brought.
The Saudi-led consortium of nations was proposing a combined further cut of 1.5 million barrels per day to continue to match the decline in global demand. The Russia-led group was not going to go further than 600 thousand. The conclusion… no new cuts at all and no renewal of the previous cuts. The OPEC+ alliance that saved the industry from collapse in 2016 has, at least for the moment, come to an end. All bets are off. At the end of April, when the current agreement ends, all restrictions will be lifted and the world is bracing for an oil flood.
The markets have already factored that in, with the Brent and the WTI registering its biggest daily crash since the beginning of the first Gulf War. While oil seems to have rebounded slightly today, it will take time to make up for Monday’s 25% crash. That is, if the recovery is anywhere in sight, since Saudi Arabia announced it was ramping up production and selling its oil discounted by as much as USD$8 per barrel, on a barrel priced at little more than USD$30.
In all honesty, the situation looks bleak. If Saudi Arabia and Russia do go on having a price war, a USD$20 barrel is possible, if not probable.
But what does this mean for Africa?
Several African petroleum and energy ministers were in Vienna last Friday, both as members of OPEC and as members of APPO. Shortly before the announcement on the fall of the agreement, they had decided to strengthen cooperation between African oil producers, promote synergies, intra-african trading, and knowledge exchange. Surely, we need that more than ever.
For the moment, however, there is no reason to panic. Surely, things might get worse before they get better, as the world battles this rapidly spreading virus. And surely, some oil dependent African nations will suffer with reduced revenue. Angola’s state budget, for instance, was designed for an oil price of USD$55 not USD$35. But we have survived the oil price crisis of 2014, and we will survive this one two. Further, most African producers have learned from the past experience and have adjusted themselves to respond to price crashes. The progressive economic diversification the continent has witnessed in recent years will also contribute to minimize the impact of this situation. Yes, final investment decisions might be slightly delayed until the situation stabilizes, but they will come in due time.
So what’s next?
If 2020 is showing itself challenging for African energy, 2021 will be a year of opportunity, but for that to happen, we have to start adapting now, laying down the policies that will allow us to take advantage of the future opportunities. It is in moments of crisis that true leaders have the opportunity to shine.
While it is difficult to predict the future, there are a few deductions and inductions we can try to make with some certainty.
One, is that neither Russia nor Saudi Arabia want a low oil price and there is a limit to how long they are willing to sustain it. No one gains from it and if anyone has the capacity and funds to sustain it for a longer period of time is Saudi Arabia. So, it is not really a price war, since it can’t really be a war if you already know the winner at the head start. Already, Russia has suggested it might be open to negotiate coordinated cuts within OPEC+ during the group’s next meeting in May/June.
What seems likely that will happen, is that the first to suffer from this will be American shale producers. This sector was already finding it hard to finance itself in recent years but continued to unbalance the market with its rapid response times to price fluctuations. These producers are highly leveraged, and it is likely that most will go bust in the present situation. This is something Russia and Saudi Arabia tried to do back in 2015/2016. While it did not succeed at the time, it might have better chances now.
Further, in three months time, at the time of the next OPEC+ meeting, the virus situation might also be very different. This week, president Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, the epicenter of the epidemic, for the first time since the beginning of the outbreak, in a clear demonstration of a strong response to a rapidly evolving situation that seems to be stabilizing. China itself is an extremely leveraged economy and can not afford to slow down for much longer. It can be expected that demand in the country will start rising again in the foreseeable future. If that happens in a scenario when the US shale sector is no longer able to respond, it might just be that the price will climb higher than it was before the virus, and with Saudi Arabia securing for itself a much larger slice of the global marketplace. Again, things will get worse before they get better, but they will certainly get better.
So, for African nations, this is the time to position ourselves correctly, and that will require close attention to international developments and close cooperation, to be able to take advantage of new opportunities. The African Energy Chamber will be instrumental in that, but so will be the African members of OPEC. The time to show statesmanship and stay close to Saudi Arabia and the decision-making table is now. To grow Africa’s relevance in the international oil stage by showing level-headedness and cooperation in face of a global crisis. If we take that route, we will come out of this stronger than ever.
*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.
Gross Human Rights violations by government forces and separatist fighters in English-speaking regions sink Cameroon again in State Dept Report
March 12, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
The United States has chronicled a series of human rights violations committed in Cameroon by both separatist fighters and government security forces in the restive Anglophone regions wrecked by civil protest for four years now.
Numerating the violations in its just released 2019 Human Rights report on Cameroon, the US Department of state observed that “the sociopolitical crisis that began in the Northwest and Southwest Regions in late 2016 over perceived marginalization developed into an armed conflict between government forces and separatist groups.”
The report released Wednesday March 11 states that significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings, by security forces, armed Anglophone separatists, and Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) fighters continue to be on the rise.
Blaming security forces for “forced disappearances; torture by security forces and nonstate armed groups; arbitrary detention by security forces and nonstate armed groups; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; political prisoners;” the reports was categorical that significant problems with the independence of the judiciary further compounded the issue with little or no prosecution of perpetuators of such inhumane acts.
As if to applaud the baby steps taken by the government of Cameroon to check the excesses of its security forces the U.S. States Department observed that the failure of the government of Paul Biya to publicly make known the proceedings and punishment spurred some offenders to continually to act with impunity.
Citing instances of Politically Motivated Killings, the report condemned government security forces for indiscriminately executing civilians and suspected separatist fighters in the English-speaking region.
The brutal killing of a nurse who was on his way to his duty station at the Oku health district in the Northwest Region, and the burning alive of 13 civilians, including seven businesspersons who were returning from a business trip to neighboring Nigeria by government forces was highlighted in this year’s reports.
Anglophone separatists also got called out for their persistent and inhumane attack and killing of members of defense and security forces, as well as civilians considered loyal to the central government.
“For example, during the night of April 23 and the morning of April 24 in Muyuka, Southwest Region, separatist fighters decapitated and dismembered gendarme Adam Assana and scattered his body parts on the highway,” the report cited.
Cases of politically motivated arrest such as that of opposition leader, Maurice Kamto and his supporters and the politically motivated reprisal against individuals located outside the country such as the arrest and repatriation of Ayuk Sisiku and some members of his circle further drowned Cameroon.
Pushing for the Respect for Civil Liberties, including; freedom of expression and the press, internet, the right to peaceful assembly and movement, the annual rights report urged the government to look into the situation of Internally displace persons, IDP, forced out of their homes by the Anglophone crisis and also ensure the protection of refugees.
Regretting the fact that a “number of domestic and international human rights groups investigated and published findings on human rights cases, government officials impeded the effectiveness of many local human rights NGOs by harassing their members, limiting access to prisoners, refusing to share information, and threatening violence against NGO personnel.”
The report also adds that some “human rights defenders and activists received anonymous threats by telephone, text message, and email,” but regrettably, the “government took no action to investigate or prevent such occurrences… at times denied international organization access to the country”.
- Read full Report Here
USD$85.5 million required for 2022 Zimbabwe Census
March 11, 2020 | 0 Comments
About US$85.5 million is required for the 2022 Zimbabwe Census, a key survey that is done every 10 years to provide the country with essential data on demographic and related socio-economic characteristics of the population at national and sub-national levels which can be used for policy and programme planning.
The 2022 Census will be the fifth population census since independence in 1980. Earlier censuses having been conducted in 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2012. The preparations for the 2022 census have started, with the Government having recently approved the Census project which will run from 1 October 2019 to 31 December 2024.
“The cost of the 2022 Population and Housing Census is expected to be covered by the Government of Zimbabwe, however, it is likely that there will be a shortfall over the lifespan of this project, which is 5 years, hence the need to mobilise the additional required, for the 2022 Population and Housing Census project with an estimated cost of about $85.5 million,” said Minister of Finance and Economic Development Minister, Prof. Mthuli Ncube.
The 2022 population census will provide up-to-date data for twenty-four Sustainable Development Goal indicators spanning over 11 SDGs, which will allow for continuous monitoring and reporting of progress on the implementation of the SDGs as well as inform a mid-term review. The census will also collect data for indicators from several other national and internationally agreed development frameworks such as the Transitional Stabilisation Programme, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) and the World Summit for Children. For the first time, the 2022 census will attempt to measure the number of Zimbabweans in the Diaspora, which will go a long way in meeting the data needs of policy makers.
“The Census is a very important part of Zimbabwe’s development agenda. As UNFPA, support for the development of data to inform policy planning and development is critical as “Everyone Counts” – it is my hope that we can all rally behind this process and ensure that the 2022 Census is a success,” said UNFPA Country Representative Dr. Esther Muia. “It is about People, Prosperity, Partnerships for Peace and Development. Our partnership with the Government of Zimbabwe began in 1981 with support to the Population Census in 1982. Since then our partnership has continued over the years with support to Census 1982, 1992, 2002 and 2012.”
The 2022 Zimbabwe Population Census will be carried out in August 2022 in accordance with the Census and Statistics Act [Chapter: 10:29)] 1/2007 Section 12 sub-section (i) which stipulates that a national census shall be carried out every 10 years.
AFRICA CDC LEADS CONTINENTAL RESPONSE TO COVID-19 OUTBREAK IN AFRICA: STATEMENT BY THE DIRECTOR OF AFRICA CDC
March 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA, 7 MARCH 2020. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) confirms that the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has now been reported in several African countries, with cases in Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, and Tunisia.
It’s important to emphasize that we anticipated that this would happen and have been planning for response. For this reason, Africa CDC has been partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO), the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Public Health Institutes (NPHIs) or equivalent government agencies, and the Ministries of Health to prepare African Union Member States to respond to the outbreak in their countries.
Our strategy is clear: we want to capacitate Member States so they can quickly detect and mitigate the effects of the disease in Africa, and, if widespread transmission occurs, prevent severe illness and death.
Since the beginning of the outbreak, Africa CDC has trained hundreds of experts from African Union Member States in different aspects of COVID-19 prevention and control, including laboratory diagnosis, enhanced surveillance and point of entry screening, infection prevention and control, risk communication, and case management.
As of today, 43 laboratories from 43 African countries have participated in training organized by Africa CDC. Representatives of these laboratories have been trained to isolate and transport the virus and test for it in the laboratory. Each laboratory received kits containing reagents to conduct at least 200 tests during the training. Africa CDC also provides additional kits for 1000 tests to any country that reports cases. The WHO and US CDC provided additional test kits to some of these countries to strengthen their capacity to test for the virus.
For Member States that do not yet have the capacity to conduct the test, Africa CDC is facilitating their linkage to the closest capacitated laboratories within the continent. We have trained them on how to transport specimens across the border and we are monitoring how they do this to ensure the quality of tests conducted. Some of the countries are now conducting genomic sequencing of confirmed cases in their countries with support from Africa CDC.
Based on country requests, Africa CDC has deployed six of its experts to support response in two affected countries and will be deploying more experts as the need arises. These experts are working very hard with in-country experts to develop and implement response plans and are supporting training of more experts at the country level.
As the outbreak continues to evolve, the risk of other African countries detecting new cases of COVID-19 remains high. Africa CDC will continue to work with Member States and partners to harness and maximize use of the limited resources available on the continent. Our goal is to rapidly detect, contain and minimize any harm to populations in Africa.
Dr John Nkengasong
Director, Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention
Alarming Situation In Cameroon Calls for Urgent Dialogue-Former Indomitable Lions Skipper Enoh Eyong
March 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
In the face of growing chaos and increasing tales of massacres, former Indomitable Lions Assistant Captain Enoh Eyong says inclusive dialogue is very necessary for peace to be restored in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon.
Speaking in an interview with PAV, the typically calm and levelheaded player says it is impossible to remain indifferent to the gory tales coming out of the English-speaking zones of Cameroon daily.
“While we all may have valid reasons to keep fighting to defend our political causes, we should know that human lives are being lost, villages are being burnt, destinies are being destroyed and families are being displaced,” Enoh lamented.
A former alumnus of the University of Buea, and first Cameroonian to play for Dutch and European powerhouse Ajax Amsterdam, Enoh says it’s time to go back to the values that build every nation which are love, respect and hard work.
“My appeal is for a sincere dialogue to be called where all parties are fully represented, and everyone should come with the willingness to restore peace, and find a long-lasting solution that is convenient for all parties,” says Enoh in the interview which starts with his football career before proceeding to the crisis in the North West, and South West Regions of the country.
Greetings Enoh Eyong and thanks for granting this interview, as a household name in football, we start with that and your career, are you still in active football and how have things been for you in the last few years?
Greetings and it’s an honour to get to speak to you. Yes, I am still in active football. Though on a low key, I have been playing for the last year and half in Cyprus
You were a regular fixture in the national team for close to ten years and then nothing was heard about you, considering that some were banned, others withdraw themselves from selection, and others forced out, may we know under what terms or conditions your international duties for Cameroon were ended?
Well it’s simple, the coach present at the time didn’t call me up which means he didn’t see my presence necessary or valuable to the team, I was never suspended, neither did I withdraw myself ,I want to believe it was just a time for me to move on, and allow the next generation to also represent the national colours
You participated at several editions of the African Nations Cup and the about two editions of the world cup, can you shed light on some of the positives and negatives that came out of these experiences?
Well the positives are enormous, I got to play with some of my childhood heroes like Rigobert Song, Samuel Eto’o, Geremi Njitap and others. Also, for me to participate in the first ever World Cup hosted on African soil was historic. The negative is that I never got to win any major trophy and make the country proud, coupled with some of the internal issues that we experienced within the squad.
What is your general reading of the state of the indomitable lions in particular today, and Cameroon football in general?
As for the national team, I think we lack consistency and for the Cameroon football in general we have lost the basic foundation and structure of developing home-grown players. There is no proper youth competition in place for the continuous supply of young talents. This is evident in the gap which is open when the old players are transitioning. Sometimes it will take about 10-15 years before another solid team will be put in place, just because there is no proper structure to produce continuity at high level.
You played for several clubs across Africa and in Europe, what does it take to have a successful professional career?
The answer to this question is not a one size fits all because each player who has succeeded will tell you their journey was unique. Yet, there are standard principles one must put in place to make it at such a high level. To make it, you need determination, hard work, discipline, perseverance, dreams and a bit of luck or whatever you call that extra thing to be. For me, my faith in God has been a huge part of my success.
We often hear tales of racism, managers exploiting young footballers, and so on, what advise do you have for young Cameroonians and Africans who would want to emulate the kind of career you and other successful footballers have had?
Racism is real, you will need to build a strong personality to rise above it. Managers are exploitative, but not all. You need to pray to meet an honest one, and also do your due diligence and not just fall for anyone who presents fairy tales to you and your family.
May we know of any post football plans that you have, when your career ultimately ends, what will Enoh be working on?
As for post football plans, I will keep things very quiet for now as I want to catch up some time with my family and will slowly gear towards the things I have in mind. One thing is sure though, I would like to help the next generation of young players coming up with my wealth of experience, and knowledge through management and agency services alongside some coaching work.
As we do this interview, the political situation in Cameroon is dire, and many are still in profound shock with the massacres reported in Ngarbuh in the North West Region of Cameroon, what is your reaction to this?
It was very shocking to hear of the Ngarbuh incident, day to day you wake up thinking things will get calmer and the government will procure a solution, but it seems like we are only digging deeper into the black hole of violence and bloodshed .I am really short of words , and my heart goes to all those who have lost loved ones during this Ngarbuh incident and the other incidents that have taken many lives untold.
In general, what does Enow Eyong make of the crisis in the North West and South West regions of the country, is there any position that you have?
My position is that of peace, and there can’t be peace without dialogue. I still don’t understand how we came to the point as African people of the same geographical location to be killing one another. The present situation is the responsibility of all, and the solution can’t be superficial, it’s going to take intense work to calm things down. Many people are bitter, some don’t trust anymore, others have experienced betrayal, there is no convincing leadership voice to calm down the waters, there is no concrete vision and action step presented to give hope to the masses, there is confusion in the air, and the government has lost grip of the situation. My position once more is that of dialogue, that there be an all-inclusive dialogue where all parties concerned are well represented with the focus being how to solve the crisis and restore peace back to the masses who continue to be the biggest casualties
We saw former Indomitable lions player Bernard Tchoutang speak out on the massacre in Ngarbuh, we have read reports of others like Ngadeu Ngadjui making donations to groups involved in humanitarian work to cushion the impact of the crisis on displaced persons, is there anything that you have done at your level to help out and should the influential voices in sports, music and so on not speak out louder in pushing for a solution to the crisis?
Well on my part I have been involved in a few projects with some IDP persons in different areas of the country and working with some Foundations on the ground. I don’t believe in putting everything you do especially helping those in need on social media. I believe more influential voices should speak up and many have spoken in their own way, but if done with a united front I believe the impact would be stronger and greater. The reality is that everyone is careful on what they say and how they say it because of how sensitive things are, because what you say could be wrongly interpreted.
Talking about the kind of frustrations that have pushed English speaking Cameroons to the current state of affairs, did you experience them during your stint in the National team?
Well, during my time at the national team, I didn’t really experience any situation that got me frustrated or felt any sense of bias based on which area I came from.
Coming from the affected regions, do you have colleagues of yours both within the national team, and from countries and clubs you have played who try to find out about these sad developments back home from you?
I have been in touch with a few national team players who are all concerned like myself about the current situation back in Cameroon. As for my colleagues at club or other countries, I don’t believe they are fully aware of the situation in Cameroon as it has not been pushed in the mainstream news platforms as it ought to
As we wrap up this interview, any special appeal you will want to make to the actors in the struggle both the Cameroon government, international community and the advocates for separation?
My appeal to the Cameroon government, the international community and the advocates for separation is that, while we all may have valid reasons to keep fighting to defend our political causes, we should know that human lives are being lost, villages are being burnt, destinies are being destroyed and families are being displaced. Violence will always breed violence; war will always breed war. Enough lives have been lost and enough destinies have been shattered, it’s time to go back to the values that build every nation which are love, respect and hard work.
My appeal is for a sincere dialogue to be called where all parties are fully represented, and everyone should come with the willingness to restore peace, find a long-lasting solution that is convenient for all parties. I appeal for peace, I appeal for “DIALOGUE”.
The IMF Seal of Approval – Leadership a Key Factor in Advancing Equatorial Guinea
March 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
By John Glassey*
For years, many believed that Equatorial Guinea was to forever be a textbook case of an emerging market nation suffering from the resource curse – or, as the BBC had famously put it, “…the paradox of plenty.” This prognosis was further compounded by the oil shock of 2015, which compromised the country’s very foundations.
However, under the stewardship of Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Planning, Cesar Mba Abogo, that mantra might be changing. It appears winds of socio-economic revitalization are in the air as a strong intranational (arguably) life-line has been granted to President Obiang Nguema’s government, with the potential to foment lasting change for generations to come.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to allocate to Equatorial Guinea SDR 205.009 million, equivalent to around US$282.8 million and encapsulating approximately 130% of the country’s quota from the Fund. Among other benchmarks, the boost should bolster efficiencies in public finance allocation, enhancing governmental infrastructure and accountability in program delivery, directly supporting the country’s ambitious ‘Horizonte 2020’ national development agenda, which nobly, according to a recent IMF Press Release, “aims at further reducing macroeconomic imbalances and addressing financial sector vulnerabilities”.
This is cause not just for commendation but for fresh investment intrigue for the intrepid international community, both public actors and those from the private sector. Despite the bevy of natural resources of which Equatorial Guinea is endowed, including lush flora and diverse fauna coupled with a dedication to preserving security within the only Spanish speaking country on the continent, there has previously been lingering social protection issues and those of economic diversification. These challenges have hindered ultimately human capital development in the country and the efforts of the Nguema Administration to foster more accountable governance. The about-face witnessed by the Administration in increasing transparency and fighting corruption will aid the nation’s overarching aim to advance; to progress holistically and achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the process.
Indeed if utilized accountably and efficiently, the IMF investment has the potential to lift Equatorial Guinea to new heights, presenting the country with an opportunity to diversify its economy, create new and improved social programs, begin to root out bureaucratic corruption sector on sector and set for the region a replicable benchmark, capable of flagging similar foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities throughout the
Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC).
I’ve spent decades working with Heads of State in attracting fresh eyes to the value proposition inherent in Africa’s emerging nations, including shrewd investment in its people, its next generation, its brightest and best. Patience has been a virtue here, in winning hearts and minds abroad and shifting often antiquated positions. The IMF is so too playing a waiting game, as indeed only SDR 29.287 million (roughly US$ 40.4 million) is to be released right away. The rest is contingent upon Equatorial Guinea meeting certain standards that are based on semi-annual reviews by the IMF Executive Board, those overseeing this particular Fund-supported program.
Equatorial Guinea must, and I have every assurance will continue to adhere to its recent track record of heightened transparency, stricter adherence to rule of law and improved-upon public financial management, having effectively stepped up its game amidst Africa’s perpetual, near-endemic fight against corruption.
Underneath the shield of Equatorial Guinea’s Coat of Arms is its national motto, ‘Unidad, Paz, Justicia’ or ‘Unity, Peace, Justice’. It’s adherence to the cause has unlocked international trepidation and reinforced the country’s predetermined roadmap and greater potential for prosperity.
This effective head-start is a milestone for Equatorial Guinea, a moment in time when the onus is upon governance to showcase to the world accountability in responsible development while fostering the prerequisite for greater transparency and good governance.
This could very well be the decade of dynamism in advancing Equatorial Guinea. It is now in their hands to create lasting change.
*John Glassey is the Founder and CEO of AfricanBrains, part of Brains Global , an organization determined to advance investment in education and promote technological innovations across the African continent. The views expressed are his own.
The Mozambican Gas Promise and Why It Epitomizes the African Dream
March 4, 2020 | 0 Comments
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Mozambique’s known natural gas reserves spiked from nearly nothing to over 165 tcf, placing it as the continent’s third biggest reserve holder
By NJ Ayuk *
It has been almost exactly ten years since Anadarko drilled the well that would give Mozambique its first major gas find in over sixty years of mostly disappointing oil and gas exploration. Many wells followed that first offshore discovery in block 1 and further in ENI-operated block 4.
In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Mozambique’s known natural gas reserves spiked from nearly nothing to over 165 tcf, placing it as the continent’s third biggest reserve holder.
Just like that, one of Africa’s poorest countries was about to become one of the world’s biggest energy players. Well, not really just like that. In 2010, Mozambique had no know-how in oil and gas, no negotiation capabilities, understanding of the sector, no appropriate legal framework in place, nor human or financial capital to take advantage of this momentous thing that had just happened. A country that at the time could offer access to electricity to only 18% of its citizens, was suddenly endowed with enough natural gas to power half of Europe for a couple of decades and more.
Since then, much water has passed under the bridge and ink over paper. Presidents, ministers and corporate leaders have been replaced, licenses have changed hands, projects have been proposed, declined or approved, and now, more than ever, the promise of wealth seems close, but is it? Afterall, we are ten years in and no natural gas is flowing, no LNG is being produced or sold, and while a bit better off, at 27% of electricity penetration, most of the country is still in the dark. But that should not fool us, Mozambican leaders have learned much and more over the last decade, and despite some challenges, the country seems ready to take on a new stage of wealth and growth.
It was that learning curve that taught these leaders to seek out international expertise to support resource management training and legal framework development. On the one hand, the national oil company hired Wood Mackenzie to help it prepare for the responsibility to manage and sell its corresponding portion of the resources, which has resulted in the forming of a consortium with international oil and gas trader Vitol, in September last year. On the other, the government sought the support of more experienced energy producers and international partners, including the IMF or the World Bank. Just this month, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi met with Norway’s Crown Prince Haakon and signed an agreement for support on natural gas resource management.
It was this concerted capacity growth that culminated in the new Petroleum Law of 2014 and on the successful bidding round for exploration blocks that took place the same year, a move that took advantage of the enormous attention the country’s acreage was receiving.
This self-actualization process combined with close, albeit sometimes slow, negotiations with the international oil companies that are leading these development efforts have resulted in final investment decisions worth dozens of billions of dollars for the development of liquefied natural gas plants in Mozambique.
Enormous Economic Opportunity
As it stands, Total’s 12.9mn t/yr Mozambique LNG project (which it took over from Anadarko) is expected to enter production in 2024. The latest news indicates that ENI’s 3.4mn t/yr Coral South FLNG project is on schedule to come online in 2022. And just last week, the Mozambican Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy said it expected FID from the ExxonMobil-led 15.2mn t/yr Rovuma LNG scheme by June 2020. The project is expected to start operating by 2025.
The implications of this are tremendous. Just in foreign direct investment, Total’s USD$25 billion investment in the LNG plant amounts to more than two times Mozambique’s current GDP. Not to mention the trickle-down effect on job creation, supply and associated services industries, etc, and that’s just one of the projects to be developed in an area that is far from properly explored. Together, the three projects are estimated to bring up to USD$54 billion in investment over the next few years.
Further, taking into account the relatively low domestic needs for natural gas in Mozambique, these three projects alone could place the country among the five biggest LNG exporters in the world, up there with Qatar, Australia, Malaysia and the United States.
However, if the domestic needs are small now, they are expected to quickly rise. The government has wisely negotiated for part of the production to be diverted to the domestic market, which can be used for power generation, to feed a gas-based industry of fertilizers and petrochemicals, to fuel homes or even to export via pipeline to neighbouring countries.
Already, the government has secured multilateral financing for a 400MW gas-fired power plant and transmission line to the capital Maputo, which will draw on national gas production and will dramatically contribute to improve power reliability in the capital.
To help accelerate the industry’s development, Mozambican officials were at the Subsea Expo in Aberdeen to showcase the country’s opportunities to North Sea companies. The aim is to secure a well-established supply chain that will support a streamlined development of the industry, as well as bring expertise into the country and promote the development of indigenous companies and workforce.
All these developments are making investors excited and analysts optimistic. Rating agency Fitch forecasts that natural gas production in Mozambique will climb 26.5% per year in the run up to 2029 and that will fuel an average 12.4% GDP growth per year throughout the decade.
These are fantastic news for a country that has suffered so dramatically with the combined effect of the Idai and Kenneth cyclones last year, which affected much of the economic activity and stranded GDP growth in 2019 at 1.9%. Already, the African development Bank sees a rebound in 2020, forecasting a 5.8% growth for 2020.
And that is another reason the development of Mozambique’s natural gas resources will be paramount for the future of the country. It will allow for the development of a more diversified and resilient economy, that will be less subject to external shocks.
The landscape is so momentous for Mozambique at this point in time, that it is of paramount importance to get things right. We have had too many African stories of grand plans gone wrong and we do not need another one. The future of the country is at stake and that of its people.
So far, Mozambican leaders have shown resolve to push forward suitable policies and facilitate the industry’s development, but good governance and civil society participation have been shown again and again to be fundamental pillars of successful resource management.
Already, the country battles violence in its northern region, in the site where one of the LNG plants is to be developed. Armed insurgents, allegedly with an extremist religious agenda, have been attacking small villages in the region and foreign workers. The operating companies have requested the government to send in the army to help control the situation. Some reports indicate that some of these insurgents come from extremely poor backgrounds and have been radicalized based on the idea that the oil and gas companies are there to steal their resources and that no one will benefit. Here is where the need to integrate the population comes into play, not just through local content policies and by creating employment opportunities for them, but also by educating them about what is being developed, what to expect and how that will affect and benefit them.
This needs to be combined with strict transparency and resource management policies, upheld by institutions with the authority to implement regulation. This month, the Mozambican Centre for Public Integrity indicated that the country could have lost a considerable amount of money simply for failing to certify the real costs of natural gas projects declared by the companies in the period prior to 2015.
These events hurt the public image of the industry and spur social unrest at a time when the country should be focusing on maximizing the positive effects of this sector for the economy and ensuring that every Mozambican stands to gain from the country’s wealth.
Allies like Russia and the US have offered to help with the security situation. Others have offered cooperation in resource management, and their support should be welcomed but, it is on the shoulders of Mozambican leaders that the responsibility of a lifetime falls to make the best decisions for the future of their country and their people. They cannot let them down.
*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.
Somalia To Reestablish Financial Relations with The World Bank Group After Thirty Years
March 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON, February 27, 2020 — The World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors today moved toward normalizing its relations with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) after thirty years. This will open up opportunities for Somalia to access concessional financing from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) and to work closely with all arms of the World Bank Group to attract investment that will support the country’s stability and development.
“Today’s decision paves the way for full resumption of operations so the World Bank Group can provide the strongest possible support to Somalia’s efforts toward economic and social recovery,” said Axel van Trotsenburg, World Bank Managing Director of Operations. “This milestone is the result of several years of close cooperation with the Federal Government, and we now look forward to taking our relationship to the next level with deeper and broader financial and technical support from across the Bank Group.”
The Board’s decision to reengage is based on the government’s strong record of fiscal, political, social and economic reforms in recent years. Somalia’s fiscal management agenda now covers revenue mobilization, budgeting, procurement, auditing, and cash management, as well as accountability over Public Financial Management. The country has also focused strong attention to building core monetary and financial sector governance institutions, establishing the basic legal foundations for a market economy, and introducing reforms in strategic sectors including telecommunications, banking, and energy. Economic policy reforms, such as the recently enacted Public Financial Management Law and the Company Law, have improved public financial management and revenue generation.
“Somalia has made important reforms and has demonstrated strong commitment to staying the course,” said Hafez Ghanem, Vice President for Africa, the World Bank. “These reforms lay the foundation for sustained poverty reduction and better lives for the Somali people, and open the door to private sector investment that can create jobs and drive the economy forward.”
Somalia’s reforms continue to strengthen the government’s capability to provide critically needed services in health and education to the Somali people, and build a framework for competitive private sector that can create jobs particularly for Somalia’s youth. The federal government has facilitated consultations on a new National Development Plan, outlining the country’s priorities so that investments can be made in the most critical areas.
“Today marks an important step towards full re-engagement of the World Bank Group in Somalia,” said H.E.M. Abdirahman D. Beileh, Minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Somalia.
“This is a recognition of the ambitious reforms to which this government remains committed, to bring transparency and accountability into Somali institutions and to revive the economy. We are grateful to the Bank for the support they have already provided to help the country reach this point and we look forward to planning a new phase of investments to deliver the poverty reduction goals of the National Development Plan.”
Today’s decision by the World Bank Group Board of Executive Directors lays the groundwork for Somalia to access World Bank Group financing for federal and state government projects under the International Development Association (IDA), private sector debt and equity investments through the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and political risk insurance provided by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) to facilitate foreign direct investments.
The World Bank has played a strong role in helping Somalia reach this point, including through over $250 million in IDA Pre-Arrears Clearance Grants to accelerate the country’s progress on key reforms and on delivering basic services and financial inclusion to its people. The Somalia Multi Partner Fund, which includes funding from Denmark, the European Union, Finland, Italy, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, has been crucial in laying the foundations to re-establish basic country systems.
New IDA financing proposals are under preparation and should be ready in the coming months, aimed at providing rapid response to households impacted by recent droughts and flooding, reducing poverty by delivering social protection to over 200,000 women with children under 5, improving education and healthcare, boosting water and electricity supply, and investing in other critical infrastructure projects. With nearly 70 percent of Somalis living on less than $1.90 per day, these investments will help improve the lives of millions of the country’s most vulnerable people and strengthen the systems needed for better livelihoods and a more stable future.
The normalization of relations with the World Bank Group also paves the way for Somalia to receive debt relief under the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) and Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI) programs to promote growth and recovery over the coming years.
*Source World Bank