Namibia and Rwanda among world’s top 10 gender-equal societies:report says
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Namibia and Rwanda, two of 22 member countries of MenEngage Africa Alliance, are the only countries in sub-Saharan Africa that are fast moving towards attaining gender equality, and they rank 6th and 7th in world rankings, respectively, placing them among the world’s top 10 most gender-equal societies, according to the recently-released 2021 Global Gender Gap Report.
It is reported that Namibia has made a significant move up from being ranked 12th in the Global Gender Gap Index 2020 to the 6th spot in the latest report, while Rwanda has moved up from 9th place to 7th . According to the 2021 report, Namibia has closed 80.9% of the gender gap, and Rwanda 80.5%.
The Global Gender Gap Report was first introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2006 as a framework for capturing the difference between women and men as reflected in social, political, intellectual, cultural, or economic attainments.
The report aims to measure this gap in four key areas: health, education, economics and politics. The rankings are designed to create global awareness of the challenges posed by gender gaps and the opportunities created by reducing them.
The gap in economics, for example, is the difference between men and women when it comes to salaries, the number of leaders and participation in the workplace, while education encompasses access to basic and higher levels of education. Health looks at life expectancy and politics examines the difference between how men and women are represented within decision-making organisations.
“It is encouraging to see that two countries that have MenEngage Africa networks are making noticeable strides towards achieving gender equality and that they are ranking amongst countries that are known as being gender-sensitive. It shows that interventions working with men and boys to promote gender equality and feminist values are important in ensuring that gender justice does, indeed, take place at country level,” said Bafana Khumalo, co-chairperson of MenEngage Alliance, in reaction to the report.
However, Khumalo also pointed out that more work still needs to be done towards attaining gender equality. “We would like to see more African countries registering high scores in the equality scales demonstrating an advancement in the attainment of the SDGs and the African Agenda 2063.”
“More countries need to pay attention to the gender gap, not only because such inequality is inherently unfair, but also because numerous studies suggest greater gender equality leads to better economic performance. In fact, the gaps between men and women across health, education, politics and economics need to be narrowed. Overcoming the biases that are keeping us from closing the gender gap represents an overwhelming economic as well as moral imperative, more especially as our societies and economies engage in strategies to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic, which we are all aware has impacted women and girls most negatively, even as women have been at the forefront of the response as essential workers and care-givers in families,” said Mpiwa Mangwiro, MenEngage Africa Advocacy Specialist.
The report bench-marks 156 countries and comes out a little over one year after COVID-19 was officially declared as a pandemic. “Preliminary evidence suggests that the health emergency and the related economic downturn have impacted women more severely than men, partially re-opening gaps that had already been closed”, the report states, and it estimates that “at the current rate of progress it will now take 135.6 years to close the gender gap worldwide”.
This is too long a period to ensure that the gender gap is finally closed. Urgent action is needed at country level to fast-track transformation to ensure that truly ‘no one is left behind’ in our communities.
The report’s findings at a glance:
- The gender gap in political empowerment remains the largest of the four gaps tracked, with only 22% closed to date, having further widened since the 2020 edition of the report by 2.4 percentage points. At the current rate of progress, the World Economic Forum estimates that it will take 145.5 years to attain gender parity in politics.
- The gender gap in economic participation and opportunity remains the second-largest of the four key gaps tracked. According to this year’s results, 58% of this gap has been closed so far. The gap has seen marginal improvement since the 2020 edition of the report and as a result it is estimated that it will take another 267.6 years to close.
- Gender gaps in educational attainment and health and survival are nearly closed. In educational attainment, 95% of this gender gap has been closed globally, with 37 countries already at parity. However, the ‘last mile’ of progress is proceeding slowly. The report estimates that it will take another 14.2 years to completely close this gap. In health and survival, 96% of the gender gap has been closed, registering a marginal decline since last year (not due to COVID-19), and the time to close this gap remains undefined.
The performance of Namibia and Rwanda is testimony that this can be done with the commitment from a committed leadership. We commend Namibia and Rwanda for the milestones they have made. We also hope that together with other African countries they can continue to move forward until full parity is attained. As MenEngage Africa Alliance, we remain committed to contribute to all efforts that seek to ensure that countries in our region improve on policies and practices that advance the course for gender equality.
Women and girls in danger as Gender-Based Violence rises in Kenya.
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya’s Ministry of Gender has unveiled its findings on the possible causes of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the East African nation, several months after President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered a probe into rising reports of violence against women and girls.
In a press brief on Thursday, April 22, 2021, Gender Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof. Margaret Kobia said the country recorded 5,009 GBV cases in 2020 compared to 1,411 in 2019.
The most common forms of GBV identified by the study include physical assault, rape/attempted rape, murder, sexual offenses, defilement, grievous harm, physical abuse, child marriages and psychological torture.
Poor parenting and moral decadence; retrogressive cultural beliefs, poverty, alcohol, alcohol, drug and substance abuse, domestic disputes, identity crisis among youths and inadequate support system have been blamed for the rising cases of GBV.
According to the CS, the cases are prevalent in the counties of Nairobi, Nakuru, Kiambu, Kakamega and Kisumu.
To mitigate rising cases, the ministry put in place some crucial measures, including the establishment of social safety nets, cash transfers and affirmative funds to provide support to self-help groups.
“In response, the government moved with resolve to mitigate and de-escalate the vice by deploying a multi-pronged approach. In September 2020, the Cabinet approved an inter-agency strategy that includes, stakeholders to deal with the matter; six ministries (Public Service and Gender, Interior, Education, ICT, Health and Labour), County Governments, development partners, and other non-state actors,” she said.
Loans worth Ksh.300million (from WEF), Ksh. 60million (from Uwezo Fund) and Ksh. 80million (from the Youth Fund) are now disbursed every month, said Kobia.
She noted that GBV is a complex issue that cannot be fought single-handedly by the government, but all sections of society have an essential role to play, whether big or small, to tame the menace.
CS Kobia recommended continued sensitization and awareness of GBV cases in Kenya, through national and regional media and within the established National Government Administration Officers (NGAO), in partnership with other stakeholders.
“To this end, prioritized programs targeting men and boys as allies, advocates, role models and change agents, championing advocacy efforts against all forms of GBV to mobilize collective action in the communities,” she added.
She encouraged the public to report GBV incidences to the relevant authorities, speak against harmful and retrogressive cultural beliefs and practices and support the victims.
EU Launches European Youth Sounding Board Zimbabwe.
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
European Union Delegation to Zimbabwe led by Tim Olkonnen on Thursday 22 April launched the European Youth Sounding Board Zimbabwe. Head of European Union in Zimbabwe delegation discloses that 25 youth, 14 women, 11 men of ages 19 to 29 will participate in the development and monitoring of the EU 2021-2027 Multi-Annual Indicative Program.
European Union takes focus on financing joint initiatives with member states as Team Europe in Women empowerment and Smart-Agriculture. Women remain vulnerable, the reason why the big figure takes them in the board meant to down track accountability, transparency of EU Programs in the country.
‘’We decided to act swiftly and decisively towards establishment of the Youth sounding board in Zimbabwe where youth constitutes the majority. ‘
‘’Our engagement with youth will make EU action more participatory, more relevant and more effective as well. We will design actions that really support young people and help empower youth to speak up’’
EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen says this is time to bring young people to the decision making table..
‘’This is time to bring young people to the decision making table.’’ he echoes while from EU headquarters..
The 25 young people in decision making have full knowledge of EU cooperation in Zimbabwe in areas of Human-Rights , gender , equality , climate-change , Agriculture , natural resources management , health , sustainable livelihoods , food and nutrition and more other fields relevant to the EU work in the country . Out of 1,8 billion youth world-wide , 90% are in developing countries . The European Union fulfills its goals to achieve the European Union consensus on development and the 2030 agenda for sustainable development.
Kenya removes LPG gas from zero-rated items
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenyans will be paying more for the liquefied petroleum gas, locally known as cooking gas, after Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) re-introduced 16 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) effective July 1, 2021.
The move is aimed at boosting revenue collection, a representative of the taxman told Bloomberg on Wednesday.
“We cannot at the moment, provide a reliable estimate on the revenue expected to be raised from the imposition of VAT on LPG,” said KRA rep.
Kenya’s treasury scrapped VAT on cooking gas in June 2016 to encourage people to adopt clean energy and reduce the use of charcoal and paraffin.
The Finance Bill 2020 re-introduced the levies; however, the implementation was delayed until the second half of 2021 due to the economic crisis occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The National Assembly and the National Treasury, in agreement, noted adverse effects of the coronavirus such as job losses as the main cause of the deferred implementation.
The introduction of the tax would make life more unbearable to Kenyans who are already grappling with the high cost of living.
Zimbabwe prisoners participate in a chess behind the wall event
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
Photostory by Wallace Mawire
Zimbabwe prisoners participated on independence day in a chess behind the wall event tournament where inmates played chess against members of the community.
The event was graced by the Commissioner General of the Zimbabwe Prisons Service (ZPS).The tournament was a community bridge building event meant to showcase talent in chess from the prison community.
The prisoners all show played the game against prison officers.There was also a call for the prison authorities to spread the tournament to all provinces of the country.Another call was to source players from the prison community for the chess national league.
South Sudan: Kiir Mourns Dèby, orders flags to fly at half mast for three days.
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir has declared three days of mourning following the death of Chadian President Idriss Déby Itno, a day ago.
Mr Déby, one of Africa’s longest-serving leaders, reportedly died of injuries from the frontline fighting rebels on Tuesday.
President Déby went to the front line at the weekend to visit troops battling rebels based across the border in Libya when he got Killed.
Two days before his death, provisional results from the election on 11 April projected Dèby would win a sixth term in office.
General Mahamat Kaka, President Idriss Déby ‘son, has been appointed the country’s new leader.
In his condolence message, President Salva Kiir described Déby as one of the figures who helped restore peace and stability in South Sudan.
“On behalf of South Sudan, I express my deepest sympathies to the Chadian people on the death of their president, who fell depending his country,” said Kiir. “I pray that God give all Chadians the comfort they need in this hour to endure this immense loss,” he added.
Kiir said Chad was among the High-Level Ad-hoc Committee established by the African Union in 2014 to help find ways of ending the South Sudan’s five years of conflict.
President also praised Déby for his pivotal role in supporting South Sudan mediate an end to the conflict between the Sudanese government and the various armed opposition groups.
“His behind the scenes work allowed us to achieve the historic Juba Peace Agreement in October, 2020,” said Kiir.
Déby attended the signing ceremony of that Juba peace accord in Juba last year.
“He will also be remembered across Africa for committing Chadian troops to G5 Sahel Joint Force and the Sahel Alliance, a multi-national force formed to deal with the threat posed by the Boko Haram and its affiliate militants in the region,” said Kiir.
Kiir further called on Chadians to “remain united both in action and purpose as they work to achieve meaningful transition that guarantees the stability in their country.”
Kiir ordered South Sudan’s flag shall fly at half-mast during the period of mourning.
South Sudan Launches Tender for Environmental Audit, Warns of Environment Pollutions
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan’s Ministry of Petroleum has launched the opening bid round for its environmental audit tender, warns the private oil companies of environment pollutions.
The launch included a presentation on the value of the environmental audit for the country’s revitalized oil sector and the associated measures being put in place by the Ministry to advance the sector.
South Sudan warned the private oil companies of ecological damage caused to the people and animals at the oilfield.
Both the National ministries of petroleum and environment, and forestry have warned oil companies operating in South Sudan against environmental pollutions that affected citizens’ lives.
Several reports indicated the manage caused by the oil pollution to the residents include children born deform.
Six oil companies that applied for the tender contract were selected to audit the environmentally affected oil-producing regions of the Upper Nile, Unity, and Ruweng administrative area.
The private companies selected for tender contract competition include Envage Associate (K) LTD, Bright Heritage company limited, CSI International (Bomatex ltd), Panloy, Cowi as Norway Optimum Engineering company. None of these companies is yet to take for the tender contract.
The environmental auditing process that will be this year.
The Ministry stated that the audit would ensure an accurate assessment of oil, condensate gas reserves and production; the reporting on revenue and investment flows; and the establishment of recommendations on the technical, fiscal and regulatory issues faced by petroleum sector stakeholders.
Oil Minister, Puot Kang said the government would monitor the operation of oil companies, and there must be a continuous environmental audit.
Minister cautioned oil companies to put the lives of the people first.
He explained that the environmental auditing exercise aims to find credible information and address environmental challenges in South Sudan.
Puot further advised that the company that will be contracting for environmental should work with the law.
“When we talk about the environmental audited, it is not like other audits. We are dealing with the life of our people. And we are dealing with the lives of our people, and then we must be careful,” said Kang during the launch of tender oil contract that will audit the environment in Juba.
“When the report does come out, whichever company we select must ensure that the report is based on facts,” said Kang. “We will make the report public and provide details as to why we selected the specific company in order to be transparent.”
The Minister of Environment and Forestry Josephine Niphon urged oil companies to operate within the law, particularly petroleum, to avoid environmental pollutions that affected the lives of local communities.
She warned the company of any negligence that might result in the loss of lives in the oil operation without complying with the law.
On the same event, the representative of Unity state government, Hon. Malual Tap Diu, Minister of Finance, said companies should protect the environment and put lives first.
He argued the share payable to the state where oil is operating should not jeopardize people’s health.
“I want to remind the ministry of petroleum and stakeholders that the five percent give to the state are not in exchange the lives of our people,” said Tap.
Promotion Local Oil Companies
Minister Puot emphasized the value and promotion of local content within South Sudan’s oil sector, together with the promotion of local company participation and equal opportunities for South Sudanese companies.
Through the enforcement of a unified human resource policy that ensures the safety and well-being of oil sector workers in the country, South Sudanese citizens are being put at the forefront of the sector’s revitalization.
“We have also come up with local content laws to protect the local people and companies. In the procurement department, opportunities should be available for local companies and they should have the priority in the sector. We are not chasing foreigners away, we are simply prioritizing local participation,” said Kang.
According to the Petroleum Ministry, since the starting of oil production in 1997 in then Sudan, environmental affected have never been audited in South Sudan.
The environmental report recommended a five-year clean-up that would cost about $58 million.
East Africa’s youngest nation, founded nearly 10 years old, expects its oil industry to generate $99 million in revenue each month from July 2019 to June 2020, according to the national budget.
Foreign troops won’t end the terrorists attacks in Cabo Delgado – FRELIMO
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
Mozambique does not need foreign troops to fight terrorism in Cabo Delgado province, Roque Silva, secretary-general of ruling party Frelimo has said, adding that if foreign intervention was effective, countries like Afghanistan and Libya would be at peace.
He noted that the presence of Zimbabwean and Tanzanian troops had also not resolved the war against former paramilitary group Renamo in Mozambique.
Mozambique had competent human resources and the time to tackle the problem of terrorism, but only lacked logistical support, he said, arguing that security forces had recently succeeded in expelling insurgents from the town of Palma, even with limited resources.
Last week Silva visited the Cabo Delgado districts of Chiúre and Ancuabe, where he met people in refugee camps who had fled the war. While he was deeply saddened by their horrifying experiences, he was satisfied that they were now able to rebuild their lives and were starting to harvest crops, he said.
Former minister and member of Frelimo’s guiding Political Commission Tomaz Salomão said two weeks ago that Mozambique should not accept foreign troops coming to fight terrorism in Cabo Delgado, arguing that once they entered, they would “never leave.”
Salomão said that it was better for foreign governments to supply logistics support and training, as the Mozambican government had asked for.
He added that the timing of the attack on Palma, just days after Total and the government announced that work would resume at the site of Total’s natural gas project, suggested that the attack had been well planned and prepared, and that attackers were just waiting for the right moment to “pull the trigger”.
After a cautious start, Africa’s policymakers should accelerate the implementation and adoption of AfCFTA
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Vinod Madhavan*
Africa’s policymakers need to ensure that the momentum behind the African Continental Free-trade Area (AfCFTA) is not lost following the trading bloc’s launch in January. This initiative could act a much-needed stimulus for the continent’s economies in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Signed in Rwanda in early 2018, AfCFTA is aimed at promoting the free movement of businesspeople, goods and investments across Africa – a market of 1.2-billion people. The intention is to remove cross-border tariffs on 90% of goods by 2030, alongside the dismantling of non-tariff barriers such as policy inconsistencies, inadequate transport infrastructure, cumbersome paper-based trade processes, and border and customs inefficiencies.
If successful, AfCFTA is expected to boost intra-African trade from the low levels of c. 17% seen today, which in turn will promote industrialisation and economic growth. Multiple studies has shown that increase in trade has a direct impact on reducing unemployment in a market.
In our view, the East African Community – which has had good traction in terms of regional trade integration – clearly demonstrates the benefits that AfCFTA could bring to the continent as a whole. Thanks in part to their reduced reliance on offshore markets, East African nations including Tanzania and Ethiopia evaded a recession in 2020 despite the pandemic, according to IMF data. Regional powerhouse Kenya contracted marginally last year and is expected to grow by 7.6% in 2021 and 5.7% in 2022.
While African governments moved quickly to ratify and then operationalise AfCFTA, there is a risk that momentum will slow. Given the need for an economic boost and the slowdown in globalisation – a trend that has been accelerated by the pandemic after supply chains were severely disrupted – this is an opportune time to maximise the AfCFTA opportunity.
For one, there is a need to stimulate private sector investments aimed at reaping the benefits of the trading bloc. In addition, we must promote creation of risk appetite (i.e., net increased country risk, counterparty risk and even sector risk) which would help intra-continental trade, particularly amongst small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
As an example, an East African company that exports flowers to Europe should be encouraged to also tap into the African market. To encourage this move, policymakers, development finance institutions, banks and other stakeholders will need to solve for challenges such as availability of finance and foreign exchange shortages.
Given the dollar shortages in many countries, there is a need to leverage and accelerate initiatives such as the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS), which has been led by the African Export-Import Bank. Standard Bank is evaluating how one could leverage PAPSS and similar pan-African projects.
To increase risk appetite to facilitate intra-Africa trade, the public and private sectors should come together and consider the creation of a pan-African trade finance guarantee programme for SMEs, with appropriate risk mitigations. This is not easy (as any multi-institution initiative creates complexity) but if realized, it could incentivise greater intra-African trade and would likely have numerous positive knock-on effects.
Businesses also need more clarity on where tariffs are being reduced or eliminated. For the time being, there is little information available to corporates, in this regard, and this may be holding back investments.
Standard Bank has noted increased interest from global multinationals and other corporates in setting up facilities in Africa aimed at serving the continent and exporting abroad. More transparency around tariff reductions, both in terms of timelines and details of which goods etc., could prompt these companies to take action.
Meanwhile, more attention needs to be given to the digitisation of trade processes. Currently, trade in Africa is largely reliant on physical documentation, and this is a major impediment. Policymakers should prioritise regulatory amendments that allow for the digital signatures, digital certificates of origin, digital bills of lading and other documentation.
Standard Bank is involved in various trade digitisation projects, alongside other initiatives to reduce trade friction, including cloud-based projects aimed at linking up sellers with buyers.
We are encouraged that some AfCFTA-aligned infrastructure projects are underway, including an upgrade to the Beitbridge border post between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
South Africa’s Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, said in his latest budget speech that the government will upgrade and expand the country’s six busiest border posts, using public-private partnerships.
The government will also support AfCFTA by implementing a more modern risk‐based capital management flow system, he said, adding that much progress had been made in implementing the new system, with new regulations set to be published in the near future.
We believe that AfCFTA is a significant opportunity for the continent, and we hope to see nations build on the momentum that was behind this initiative in recent years. Supply chains globally are being realigned, meaning the opportunity to apitalize on this opportunity is upon us.
*Vinod Madhavan, Head of Trade at Standard Bank Group
Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021, 8th edition to be conducted on 27th to 29th April 2021, with 19 African First Ladies as Guests of Honor
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
- The 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary will be co-chaired by H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation
- The President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. Mr. EDGAR LUNGU and Chairman of Merck KG executive board, Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp will officially inaugurate the “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” Online.
- 19 African First Ladies will be the Guests of Honor and Ministers of Health, Gender, Information, Education and Science & Technology from 25 African countries to participate.
- More than 2000 healthcare providers, policymakers and media from over 70 countries will benefit from the Luminary.
Lusaka, Zambia: Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck Germany, will conduct their annual conference, the 8th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” from 27th April to 29th April 2021 in partnership with the Government of the Republic of Zambia. The conference will be conducted on a virtual platform, and will be inaugurated by H.E. Mr. EDGAR LUNGU, The President of Zambia along with Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees, and is co-chaired by H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.
Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, emphasized, “We are proud to welcome our Guests of Honors and Keynote Speakers, the First Ladies of 19 African Countries and African Ministers of different sectors from more than 25 countries. Together, we will discuss our strategy to build healthcare capacity and establish a strong platform of specialized trained medical experts to be the first in their countries and to define interventions to break infertility stigma and support girl education. This annual scientific and social education program will also engage healthcare providers, academia and media in an open dialogue and deliberations on various topics with the aim to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions.”
Following the Inauguration of the Luminary, on the 27th of April, a high-level panel meeting of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Committee, will be conducted together with 19 African First Ladies to discuss healthcare and social issues that can be addressed to contribute to the Social and Economic Development in Africa; and advance healthcare, media and awareness capacities and capabilities in these countries. The African First Ladies attending the conference as Guest of Honor are:
- H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia Co-chairperson of 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary
- H.E. Mrs. ANA DIAS LOURENÇO, The First Lady of the Republic of Angola
- H.E. Mrs. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of the Republic of Botswana
- H.E. Madam SIKA KABORE, The First Lady of Burkina Faso
- H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of the Republic of Burundi
- H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic
- H.E. Madam DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, The First Lady of the Democratic Republic of The Congo
- H.E. Mrs. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of the Republic of The Gambia
- H.E. Mrs. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana
- H.E. Madam DJÈNÈ CONDÉ, The First Lady of the Republic of Guinea
- H.E. Mrs. CLAR MARIE WEAH, The First Lady of the Republic of Liberia
- H.E. Mrs. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of the Republic of Malawi
- H.E. Mrs. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique
- H.E. Mrs. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of the Republic of Namibia
- H.E. Dr. Mrs. AISHA MUHAMMADU BUHARI, The First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
- H.E. Mrs. FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone
- H.E. Mrs. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of the Republic of Zimbabwe
“I am looking forward to welcome my dear sisters, Her Excellencies, for the conference. Moreover, I am also very happy that during the conference will also mark an important occasion; the 4th Anniversary of Merck Foundation”, added Senator, Dr. Kelej.
On the 28th of April, MARS- Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit will be held where a High-Level Panel Discussion with Ministers of Health, Science and Technology, Education, Information And Gender and MARS Researchers will be held with the objective to empower African young researchers & women researchers, advancing their research capacity and empower them in STEM.
On the third day, 29th April, Merck Foundation Health Media Training will be organized for the African and Latin American Media fraternity to emphasize the important role that media plays to break the stigma around infertility, in raising awareness about infertility prevention and empowering girls and women through education.
Other important scientific sessions in different medical fields will also be held in parallel on Day 2 and Day 3 of the Luminary.
During Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary, in order to contribute to the social and economic development of Africa and Asia, more than 2000 Healthcare providers, policymakers, academia, researchers and health media from more than 70 countries from Africa, Asia and Latin America will benefit from the three days conference that contain valuable educational and social development sessions in four languages; English, French, Spanish and Portuguese by top International experts in Diabetes, Fertility, Oncology, women health, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Respiratory and Acute Medicine and Health Media with the aim to raise health awareness and improve disease management, early detection and prevention, build healthcare capacity and improve access to quality and equitable healthcare solutions across the three continents.
The Luminary’21 will also mark the announcement of two awards for media fraternity, Merck Foundation Africa Media Recognition Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021 and Merck Foundation “Mask Up With Care” Media Recognition Awards 2021; two awards for fashion fraternity, Merck Foundation Fashion Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021 and Merck Foundation “Make Your Own Mask” Fashion Awards 2021; in addition to Merck Foundation Film Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021 and Merck Foundation Song Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021.
Countries participating in the 8th Africa Asia Luminary include:
Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central Africa Republic, Cambodia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea – Bissau, Guinea – Conakry, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, U.A.E, UK, Uganda, US, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe and more.
The 8th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary will be streamed live on 27th April, from 14h to 18:030h (Gulf Standard Time) and on 28th and 29th April 2021 from 13h to 18:00h (Gulf Standard Time), @ Merck Foundation Facebook page and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Facebook page.
Click on the icon below to
Download Merck Foundation App
Join the conversation on our social media platforms below and let your voice be heard
About Merck Foundation
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please visit www.merck-foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Flicker.
House Passes Bass Bill To Strengthen Support For U.S. – Africa Partnership
April 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the United States House of Representatives passed the Young African Leaders Initiative Act of 2021, H.R. 965, authored by Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Global Human Rights.
“Already, President Biden has signaled to the world his support for strengthening our partnership with the continent of Africa and the countries there,” said Congressmember Bass. “The Young African Leaders Initiative flourished under President Obama and Vice President Biden. I commend my colleagues for passing this important bill to solidify our embrace of the future of the continent. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get this bill to President Biden’s desk.”
The Young African Leaders Initiative Act makes the State Department’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) permanent. The program is the U.S. government’s signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Nearly 1 in 3 Africans are between the ages of 10 and 24, and approximately 60 percent of Africa’s total population is below the age of 35. YALI was launched in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across sub-Saharan Africa. Through this initiative, young African leaders are gaining the skills and connections they need to accelerate their own career trajectories and contribute more robustly to their respective countries, the continent, and world.
Read the introduced text of the bill here.
Contextualising Ethics in a Dynamic World
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
Dr. Kathryn Toure, Regional Director, IDRC Nairobi office for eastern and southern Africa, with assistance from Angela Baiya and other IDRC colleagues
for HUMA-FIFE “Ethical Humanitarianisms” webinar no. 1 on Humanitarianisms: Values, Canons and Ethical Considerations
part of a 9-month series organized Apr.-Dec. 2021 by Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA, University of Cape Town, South Africa) and Friedensau Institute for Evaluation (FIFE, Friedensau Adventist University, Germany)
20 April 2021
I was happy to participate in the first session of the nine-month “Ethical Humanitarianisms” webinar series, alongside Carl Manlan of the Ecobank Foundation and Lucy Koechlin of the Oumou Dilly Foundation. This paper summarizes and elaborates my contributions.
Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC) has been supporting researchers in the Global South for over 50 years, to respond to local, national, regional, and global challenges and aspirations. Currently, we fund work at about 340 organizations across the African continent. I have worked with IDRC for eight years and draw here on IDRC experiences in discussing research ethics.
Research ethics have to do with the attitudes and practices of researchers that ensure respect for the rights and dignity of individuals and communities. Easier said than done! Especially when even the term “research” is linked in many people’s minds to European imperialism and colonialism, according to Linda Tuhiwai Smith in her book on Decolonising Methodologies.
I will mention the IDRC Corporate Principles on Research Ethics and some findings from research on research ethics in Africa and the Middle East. I will share some lessons we are learning from IDRC grantees, including about participatory research processes and power analysis, and wrap up with some reflections on representation and communications.
On the one hand, research ethics are universal in that that they have to do with respecting rights and dignity, not doing harm, and ensuring community participation in research and benefits to the communities where the research takes place. On the other, context is dynamic and plays a role in determining the ethical considerations in research processes. Tensions exist. How do we ensure that some dominant voices, including those of researchers and research funders, respond to contextual realities and relations rather than dictate ethics to those they research and fund?
I argue for the need to conduct research on research ethics, be cognizant of power relations, promote participation and inclusion, continually learn across cultural, disciplinary, organizational, geographic, linguistic, and other boundaries, and evolve practices to keep up with changing times and situations.
1. IDRC Corporate Principles on Research Ethics
At IDRC, we established an Advisory Committee on Research Ethics (ACRE) to guide Centre employees and promote regular staff learning about research ethics. The IDRC Corporate Principles on Research Ethics are available on our web site. The three principles have to do with respect for persons, animals, and the environment; concern for the welfare of participants in research processes; and the need to treat people fairly, equitable, and with dignity. The research we support endeavours to “adhere to universal concepts of justice and equity while remaining sensitive to the cultural norms and practices of the localities where the research is carried out.”
The IDRC corporate principles on research ethics draw on the Canadian Tri-Council Policy Statement: Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (TCPS 2). An online tutorial (TCPS 2: CORE Course on Research Ethics) on the statement on ethical conduct is hosted by the Government of Canada for researchers and members of research ethics committees.
Our principles on research ethics do not exhaust all ethical concerns, but they guide us. IDRC states that research work involving human participants must be carried out in accordance with high ethical standards. In contexts where there is no official institutional or national research ethics body, IDRC suggests the research teams set up an ethics committee for the project.
Similarly, guidelines involving ethical use of animals in experimentation have been established by IDRC. All research teams are expected to provide valid proof of permissions for animal experimentation protocols relevant to their legal jurisdiction. For programs such as the Livestock Vaccine Innovation Fund, no more than 15% of the total budget may be expended on studies involving animals until the requisite approvals are in place and notification to that effect has been provided. To ensure proof of compliance with animal welfare laws, rules, and regulations, research teams must (on an annual basis) provide a signed letter from their Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Chairperson (or equivalent), attesting that all research undertaken during the reporting period conformed to appropriate animal welfare laws and ethics protocols.
Regarding research involving humans, in southern Africa, leaders of the San peoples are “convinced that most academic research on their communities has been neither requested, nor useful, nor protected in any meaningful way.” Thus, in 2017, the South African San published the San Code of Research Ethics. It requires researchers “intending to engage with San communities to commit to four central values”: fairness, respect, care, and honesty, “as well as to comply with a simple process of community approval.”
2. Research on research ethics
To continually deepen understandings of ethical issues, IDRC funds projects specifically on ethical questions in research. The University of Cape Town is exploring tensions in private sector- or industry-funded research, when commercial interests may be at odds with development goals. The results will inform learning modules and toolkits on managing conflicts of interest in ethics review committees and institutional review boards across the continent, to protect people and the integrity of public health research. The findings will inform, for example, the development of learning modules for ethics review committees and institutional review boards via the Advanced Research Ethics Training in Southern Africa program of Stellenbosch University, a collaboration between the university’s Centre for Medical Ethics and Law and the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
Wits University in collaboration with the Southern African Research and Innovation Management Association (SARIMA) offers an eight-week online course on Research Ethics and Integrity, with professors from South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Nigeria. Those who take the course are expected to learn to articulate the philosophical and moral principles of ethics, resolve ethical problems in decision-making, apply scientific integrity and publication ethics, support research protocol development and good clinical practice, and, finally, and importantly, help sustain a culture of research ethics.
In the Middle East and North Africa, three teams, funded by IDRC, seek to strengthen the application of research ethics. One team is mapping research ethics processes in the social sciences. Another, which includes Birzeit University in the West Bank, is drawing on case studies to produce contextually relevant research ethics protocols in social sciences, public health, and humanities research. A third team is reaching out to young scholars to get their perspectives on ethics.
The Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI) brings together 15 national councils in Africa that makes grants for research. Council staff meet regularly to learn from each other, plan transnational collaborations, and advance African leadership in science. In March 2021, SGCI hosted a seminar on ethics and integrity in research and innovation in Africa. The Scinnovent Center, a think tank in Kenya, commissioned a paper for the webinar.
The participating research council representatives noted the need for training of researchers in research ethics and ongoing learning to enhance the application of best practices. They stressed that organisational ethics and integrity guidelines and standards need to reflect specific sociocultural contexts and be adapted over time as situations evolve. Understanding that the world is bigger than the interests of those who fund research, ethics protocols should be elaborated by or in consultation with the communities served by research.
At the SGCI webinar, there was also interest in how to identify and prevent academic bullying, “an important but ignored factor in science’s backyard.” Academia needs to be intentional about cultivating environments where collaboration is promoted, and bullying called out. United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) has a position statement and forum on preventing bullying and harassment. The Ford Foundation explores the role of funders, in the #MeToo era, in responding to abuses alleged in the organizations it supports.
As part of the work on research ethics with science granting councils in Africa, the Association of African Universities is collaborating with the African Academy of Sciences to fund participatory studies across the continent at national and regional levels on “Deepening knowledge and implementation of research ethics,” including one study from the perspective of gender transformative approaches. These studies promise to be a rich source of information for researchers and communities as well as for research ethics committees and research funders in Africa and beyond.
IDRC work with about 40 policy research organizations in 20 countries around the world revealed that many of these organizations struggle to integrate strong ethical procedures within their organisational culture and processes. The processes, which may not be particularly inclusive, are often check-box procedures which include criteria that may themselves be outdated. If ethics affect us all, and we are all responsible for how they manifest in our reality, then something more is needed at the organisational level: buy-in from organisational leadership; ownership by all organisational members; feedback and learning loops which support and reinforce positive behaviours and attitudes by all those involved in research.
Despite these ongoing challenges, there is increasing awareness about research ethics among researchers and members of research ethics committees and institutional review boards. Non-researchers sit in audience with researchers in these committees and boards to review research proposals and ethical questions and provide guidance. Together, the diverse members of these committees and boards discuss the risks for participants and the potential benefits of the research. A global researcher funder should account for differences in power and resources among researchers in the Global South and the Global North.
Every year, IDRC hosts a dozen young Research Awardees, some of whom conduct research on research ethics. Through their annual work, we stay abreast of developments and new insights. For example, in 2021, a Research Awardee, working with the Home-Based Care program of the Rwanda Biomedical Center, is researching ethical issues around the use of a widely used mHealth tool, which is part of Rwanda’s public health response to covid-19. The work will support Rwanda’s institutional review boards to create an ethics framework regarding home-based or remote care of patients. The research questions have to do with ethical conduct, the influence of patients and healthcare providers on the evolution of the approach and tools, and equitable access to care.
An IDRC Research Awardee in 2018 researched the ethics of conducting adolescent reproductive health work with Syrian refugee girls in Jordan. The researcher found the need to consider cultural norms about reproductive health, respect autonomy and rights, and analyze power relations including with donors. The research showed how some girls were coerced to participate in studies and over-researched (see Figure 1). The researcher recommended richer ethics curriculum and training for researchers, enhanced public and participant ethics awareness, age-specific ethical guidelines, and increased supervision of ethics.
Figure 1: Ethical challenges and themes found in research on the ethics of reproductive health work with Syrian refugees
In 2018 a cohort of IDRC Research Awardees published their findings from case studies on ethics in a special issue of the Canadian Journal of Bioethics titled Ethics and International Development Research. The case studies from around the world relate the experiences of young researchers studying research ethics. The special issue includes a paper on responsible access to data in Tanzania and one on the role of social capital in obtaining ethics approval in Ethiopia.
Research on research ethics is important. Research methods are also important. How can research respond in real time, given that the contexts in which research is undertaken are also changing rapidly and dynamically? How can the research methods used to explore research ethics reflect the complexity and rapid evolution within different contexts? Can participatory methods help close the gap between research participant, researcher, and funder? Will research better account for the complexity of human predicaments when an intersectional lens is employed?
3. Learning from IDRC grantees and other research communities
At IDRC, we depend a great deal on our grantees and other research communities to learn about ethical issues and come to approaches to ethics that are mutually negotiated. We try to listen to the voices and experiences of our grantees in the different contexts in which we work.
For example Just Associates in southern Africa developed a “Feminist Participatory Action Research Ethics and Security Protocol.” Feminist participatory action research (FPAR) accounts for women’s multiple identities and worldviews. It reconstructs conceptions of power beyond male and mainstream perspectives to help people tell their stories. And it is oriented toward action.
The ethics and security protocol was developed in the context of Just Associates’ research on Strengthening women’s voice, power and safety to address gender-based violence in Malawi and Zimbabwe. According to the protocol, ethics are not just rules, regulations, and laws but rather good practices to be observed during research.
The implementation of the protocol helps to ensure that research participants are protected from potential harm throughout the research process and that unnecessary and unwanted pain and suffering are avoided or alleviated. It suggests processes for listening and responding to each other, on the terms of the research participants. “Ethical decisions during research are often difficult and this is the reason why the FPAR process is guided by ethics which are based on care for self, others and the whole environment in which research is taking place.”
The protocol promotes participation and inclusion by those who will be impacted by the research. It proposes a power analysis to expose existing power dynamics and try to ensure that those power dynamics are not reproduced in the context of the research. This includes an analysis of who is funding the research and how the research problems and objectives are determined.
IDRC promotes learning among grantees across disciplinary, national, and linguistic borders. There are also cultural, social, gender, class, and other boundaries. The sharing of lessons and best practices across borders and boundaries can help deepen understandings of ethnical practices. For example, the work of Just Associates on the development and implementation of its research ethics and security protocol inspires grantees like Youth Empowerment Transformation Trust (YETT) and the Research and Advocacy Unit (RAU), both in Zimbabwe.
A review of literature and of policies and programs in 14 countries of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, by the “Covid Collective” of the Institute for Development Studies calls not only for participatory approaches but also the use of an intersectional lens in responding to covid-19 and contextualizing data within systems of power. These are ethical concerns, because they have to do with the quality and thus the utility of research and the need to consider humans not as monolithic or in dichotomies (i.e. woman or man, rich or poor, black or white) but as complex multilayered beings with intersecting and intertwining her/histories and identities.
4. Tailoring research ethics
At IDRC we are learning more about research ethics in contexts of multidimensional fragility (including political, societal, economic, environmental, and security dimensions) and in countries, like South Sudan, at critical democratic junctures, where building up the national knowledge system is important for long-term development.
Some question the ethics of referring to “fragile” contexts and consider the term pejorative and the approach deficit (rather than strength or asset) based and prefer more appreciative inquiry. Notwithstanding, “fragile contexts are marked by multiple and mutually reinforcing challenges, including institutional, livelihoods, climate, and economic, and all these render populations and research participants more vulnerable.” The same principles of research ethics apply in fragile situations as elsewhere, and they need be tailored to the circumstances.
Ethical considerations in fragile contexts include the safety of researchers and participants, consideration of trauma, application of the do-no-harm principle, and balancing researcher incentives and risks with societal benefits. Research ownership and localisation of the research agenda matter. People and organizations in the communities in which the research takes place need to be involved for the research to be meaningful, and research partnerships need to be based on equality. The Global Code of Conduct for Research in Resource-Poor Settings highlights key principles to take into consideration.
At a 2019 consultation IDRC organized in Amman, Jordan, the consensus was on the need to “put people at the centre: their vulnerabilities, rights and aspirations, and diversity including gender and ethnicity.” These concepts are being integrated into the guidelines of IDRC’s Advisory Committee on Research Ethics.
Working with migrants and youth and other potentially vulnerable communities of people also brings added ethical considerations. The principle of justice is important, as in the example of Just Associates and its Feminist Participatory Action Research Ethics and Security Protocol. Care should be taken to ensure there is no exploitation of vulnerable groups or any other participants in the research. Researchers need to be aware of and take measures to avoid harmful biases which disempower any group of people. A threat analysis for each group of participants is recommended, because risks vary from context to context and person to person.
Research has for a long time been conducted both in person and virtually. The covid-19 pandemic and the accompanying necessary confinement is bringing more attention to new kinds of research in virtual settings. A researcher from the BRAC Institute of Governance and Development in Bangladesh and co-authors call for sharing innovative methods for “finding out fast” in the context of covid-19 and also for orienting research partnerships across the global North and South for strong Southern leadership. Researchers are also sharing perspectives on doing remote participatory research.
Purbita Sengupta and Megan Douglas, two IDRC colleagues and former Research Awardees, in a forthcoming paper, use a lens of decolonising knowledge to address the ethics of researchers in the Global South conducting virtual research funded by organizations in the Global North. What are the implications of greater physical distance between researchers and communities where research is conducted? How do researchers remain connected to reality? How do donors ensure relevance to changing contexts? How do all actors question existing hierarchies of power and knowledge production?
As more researchers shift to more virtual methods, it is important to consider how researcher-participant relations are changing and what measures should be taken to limit power differentials and encourage participatory methods. The forthcoming paper proposes that a feminist, decolonizing framework can help address power differentials, because it considers the ways in which power is reproduced, acknowledges different forms of understanding, and recognizes that everyone is a holder of knowledge. The paper applies a decolonization lens to the ethical and methodological challenges surrounding privacy and the consent process for virtual qualitative research that uses online interviews and surveys. There are many different approaches to decolonizing knowledge in the virtual research space, such as creating more inclusive funding mechanisms and promoting broader knowledge sharing channels.
Conversations about and actions to decolonize the production and use of knowledge are critical ethical issues, especially when the Black Lives Matter movement is becoming a global phenomenon. IDRC participated in the November 2020 Victoria Forum on “Bridging Divides in the Wake of a Global Pandemic,” hosted by the University of Victoria and Canadian Parliament, with participation of people from around the world, including First Nation peoples, in a session on decolonizing knowledge to bridge social divides.
Research ethics are seen by some as ways to contribute to the decolonization of research, and not just as box-ticking exercises to meet criteria of research ethics committees, showing adherence for example to ethical practices in the biomedical sciences. The debate from this angle leads to understanding more deeply how research should not do harm. Knowledge processes needs to consider culture and history.
5. Ethics in representation and communications
Using appropriate photos and language in communications is important. At IDRC, because research is publicly funded, we try to make sure that the work of grantees is publicly available. We also reflect on how we aggregate and share research findings, to ensure that how we communicate does justice to communities where the research is conducted, promotes equality, and ensures that we do not unintentionally reinforce us-them stereotypes rooted in global power and colonial legacies (example: using words like “field picture” without names or geographical identification). We have been called out, and we have also called out grantees – for example for oversimplifying complex situations by tweeting how a white man is finding solutions to African women’s mobile telephony conundrums. See the New York Times article Foreign Aid Is Having a Reckoning on decolonising the development sector.
Research ethics are important, to ensure that participants in research processes are respected and protected, and that research benefits the communities in which it takes place. Research ethics are evolving conceptually, for example regarding decolonising knowledge and development. They are also evolving practically, for example by employing an intersectionality lens and being participatory instead of extractive. The augmented use of digital tools may also raise new kinds of ethical issues. Research ethics are rooted in dignity for people and society and need to account for power relations in different contexts and be negotiated. Research on research ethics is necessary to highlight existing and emerging ethical dilemmas and inform practices, protocols, and curricula on research ethics. Communities, like the San peoples of southern Africa are developing tools and processes to hold researchers accountable. Research managers and funders in Africa and beyond are updating courses on ethics to take ethics beyond a checkbox activity to promote attitudes, cultures, and practices of mutual respect. Discussion of ethics like in the 2021 HUMA-FIFE webinar series on “Ethical Humanitarianisms” is also part of the process of understanding and evolving ethical practices in research and the meaningful co-construction of knowledge. Such discussions reveal our human predicaments, complexities, and interconnectedness and make us more human.
 Thanks to the following IDRC colleagues for input: Ann Weston, Arjan De Haan, Claire Thompson, Ellie Osir, Kevin Tiessen, Loise Ochanda, Martha Mutisi, Maryam Abo Moslem, Montasser Kamal, Purbita Sengupta, and Roula El-Rifai. Also thanks to former colleague Peter Taylor (now back to Institute of Development Studies) for the review of this reflection on research ethics and his suggestions and additional references.
 Rwomire, A., and Nyamnjoh, F. B. (Eds.) (2007). Challenges and responsibilities of social research in Africa: Ethical issues. Addis Ababa: Organisation for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa (OSSREA).
 Smith. L. T. (1999). Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples, cited in forthcoming paper by M. Douglas and P. Sengupta, Virtual qualitative methods: Challenges and opportunities for decolonizing knowledge production.
 Research ethics discourses, practices and leadership in the Middle East and North Africa – Innovative learning platforms in fragile settings (#109379). The case studies are drawn from, among other sources, research on suicide bombers and their families and research on sexual and reproductive health and rights.
 The Scinnovent Center paper on research ethics, forthcoming in 2021, is by Paul Ndebele (George Washington University), Paulina Tindana, University of Ghana, Accra, Mary Kasule, Baylor clinical Research Centre, Gaborone, Botswana, and Zivai Nenguke, Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, Zimbabwe.
 “Bullying can consist of inappropriately changing authorship positions, taking credit for ideas or intellectual property for one’s own benefit, verbally abusing others in a regular and progressive way, ridiculing or publicly shaming people, and threatening a bad recommendation or the loss of a job position.” Academic bullying: Desperate for data and solutions | Science | AAAS (sciencemag.org), interview with Morteza Mahmoudi, a nanoscientist at Michigan State University, 16 January 2020.
 2019 article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review magazine
 The Ford Foundation also has a funder’s guide and case studies, with real-world experiences and lessons in navigating challenging situations, to help funders build a system of grantmaking based on values of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
 For more on “gender transformative research,” see Transforming gender relations (27 pages and available in English and French) at: Gender equality | IDRC – International Development Research Centre
 Via the Think Tank Initiative, 2009-2019, co-funded by IDRC, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, UK Aid, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and NORAD.
 Some of the (draft) research questions: How do ethical policies capture the unique characteristics of mobile health or “mHealth”? In the first year of the pandemic, what benefits and what challenges arose in using mHealth interventions as the primary method of home-based patient follow-up for covid-19? How has patient and provider input helped evolve the approach? How have socioeconomic and gender-based specificities been explored and addressed by healthcare leaders and stakeholders and by mHealth tool designers? How have inequalities in access to care (with and without mHealth) been explored by healthcare providers and policymakers?
 From draft paper “Doing no harm in a fragile context: The ethics of conducting adolescent reproductive health work with Syrian refugee girls in Jordan,” by Adele Heagle (IDC Research Awardee), Malak Douglas (Jordan University of Science and Technology), and Qamar Mahmood (IDRC program officer). Paper presented at 24th Canadian Conference on Global Health, on “Fragile environments and Global Health: Examining Drivers of Change,” 19-21 November 2018, Toronto, Canada.
 Birchall, J. (2021). Intersectionality and responses to covid-19. Covid Collective helpdesk report. Brighton: Institute of Development Studies. See www.covid-collective.net
 According to conclusions from a March 2019 consultation and conference organized in Amman as part of “Research in fragile contexts: A changing landscape and future research agenda” (IDRC project no. 109044). See Doing-Research-in-Fragile-Contexts-Idris-2019.pdf (gsdrc.org).
 Leaving no one behind: Principles for research in fragile contexts | IDRC
 Lupton, D. (Ed.) (2020). Doing fieldwork in a pandemic (crowd-sourced). https://docs.google.com/document/d/1clGjGABB2h2qbduTgfqribHmog9B6P0NvMgVuiHZCl8/edit?ts=5e88ae0a#
 Rahman, H. Z., Matin, I., Banks, N., and Hulme, D. (2021). Finding out fast about the impact of covid-19: The need for policy-relevant methodological innovation. World Development, 140, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2020.105380
 Virtual qualitative methods: Challenges and opportunities for decolonizing knowledge production
Kenya:No Ease For Covid-19 Restrictions
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
The Kenyan government has shrugged off calls by a section of Kenyans to open the economy despite the third wave of Covid-19 in the country.
Addressing journalists in Nairobi, Kenya’s Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe termed the calls as premature saying science and facts, and not feelings, lead the government.
“We have no choice for the time being and as much as we sympathize with our fellow Kenyans we have to keep the containment measures at least until we come down to a level that is understandable,” said Kagwe.
There has been pressure on the government to do away with the partial cessation of movements imposed on five counties described as the zoned disease counties. The counties include Nairobi, Kiambu, Nakuru, Kajiado, and Machakos.
Kenyans also want the dusk to dawn curfew hours reviewed. Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja pleaded with President Uhuru Kenyatta to revise the hours from 8 pm to 10 pm to save commuters of the hardships they undergo in the traffic snarl-ups in the city.
Sakaja defended his request with the construction of the Nairobi Expressway, which he said has disrupted the traffic flow in the city.
“Many innocent people are caught out with the curfew and as the Senator of Nairobi I can only plead with the President to kindly revise the curfew time.”
“I hold that the 8 pm curfew imposed in Nairobi be reviewed upwards to earliest 10 pm due to the nature of our public transport as well as livelihoods,” said Sakaja.
However, Kagwe maintained that the protocols would not be relaxed even though the ministry has registered a drop in positivity rate in the zoned counties.
The 8 pm to 4 am curfew hours in the five counties, and 10 pm to 4 am in the other regions will run until May 29, as announced by the Ministry of Interior last week.
At the same time, Kagwe raised the alarm over the surge in Covid-19 cases in four other counties: Murang’a, Uasin Gishu, Siaya, and Nyeri.
He asked the county emergency committees to establish county-specific containment regulations to contain the spikes in those areas.
“If that happens and if we continue the way we are going then it is likely that we are going to go down to the recommended five per cent flattening rate that WHO says is what we should be aiming at,” Kagwe added.
He also called on Kenyans not to drop their guards against the deadly disease.
Kenya introduces C-145 Skytruck aircraft
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Today, Kenya Air Force (KAF), on Wednesday, April 21, 2021, commissioned the newly acquired C-145 Skytruck aircraft.
The aircraft was commissioned at Moi Air Base, a military camp in Nairobi east, in a ceremony attended by Kenya Air Force (KAF) Commander Major General Francis Ogolla and US Defence Air Attaché to Kenya Major Matthew Yan.
Other attendees included US Defence Mobile Training Team (MTT), KAF Senior Officers, Base Commander Moi Air Base Brigadier Peter Githinji, and other officials.
Major General Francis Ogolla revealed that the multi-purpose aircraft was acquired through Excess Defence Article (EDA) following the signing of the Kenya United States Liason Office (KUSLO) agreement by two governments. The deal was signed on April 4, 2017.
The aircraft will enhance KFA operations, said Major Ogolla.
On his part, Major Matthew Yan lauded the Kenyan government for cooperation and assured of the American government continued support.
The twin-engine aircraft can be used for VIP and passenger transportation, cargo transportation, insertion, and casualty evacuation.
Moreover, it can support both air, land, and airdrop of cargo and personnel, casualty evacuation, combat search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, and disaster relief operations, according to the US Airforce.
On February 14, 2020, KAF commissioned C-27J Spartan aircraft, which replaced that retired in 2014. C-27J Spartan has the capability of airlifting heavy equipment, helicopters, and marine equipment.
Climate Movement calls on Africa’s leaders to push for concerted climate action as Biden’s Leaders Summit starts
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
Africa-wide – As 40 world leaders gather to participate in Biden’s first step onto the international climate stage, groups from across Africa are urging its leaders to take decisive action on what is most affecting the climate – and to end fossil fuels now.
Among the 40 world leaders is Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) President, Felix Tshisekedi who is the current Chairperson of the African Union and will be representing Africa’s interests and climate ambitions.
The Leaders Summit on Climate will take place on April 22nd and 23rd and aims to underscore the urgency of immediate and stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.
Quotes from spokespeople
During the virtual summit, the world’s major economies will share their efforts to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius within reach.
1.5 degrees is our global beacon for climate action. The safety and wellbeing of millions of Africans depends on keeping below it. But it is slipping from our grasp and we need to urgently halve global emissions by 2030, which means that we need to limit fossil fuel consumption and stop new developments such as the EACOP and Mozambique LNG projects that threaten this climate ambition.
Fixing the climate crisis requires more than simply cutting carbon; we need bold action that prioritizes alternative sources of energy that meet the needs of the people and accelerate investments in real climate solutions with the aim of driving a fast and sustainable transition away from fossil fuels. – Landry Ninteretse, 350.org Africa Regional Director
The climate crisis is already destroying vast parts of the African continent. This is tragic and ironic when you think about how Africa is one of the lowest emitters of CO2 emissions and yet it is among the most affected. Leaders must make the decisive move to keep all fossil fuels in the ground! We cannot eat coal and we cannot drink oil.
We demand more from our world leaders than empty promises, empty solutions and empty negotiations at Biden’s Climate Summit. We all need to keep up the pressure on our governments at home as well as on the international stage to take urgent action now to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a Just Recovery by creating a sustainable, fossil-free world. – Vanessa Nakate, Climate Activist in Uganda and Founder of RiseUp Movement
The decision to allow the exploration of oil in protected areas across Africa such as the Virunga National Park is not only a threat to the climate but to the livelihoods of local communities and habitats of critically-endangered species.
We call on Africa Presidents urging them that they have a role to play in limiting the warming of the planet and they need to stop authorizing and licencing fossil fuel companies in their countries such as Efora that seek to benefit themselves while disenfranchising local communities. – Andre Moliro, Climate Activist in the DRC
Governments around the world are switching to clean, efficient and sustainable energy alternatives. With Nigeria being a signatory to the Paris Agreement, there is no more room for carbon emissions resulting from coal mining. After years of granting licences to the fossil fuel industry, Nigeria still experiences extreme power cuts with many people still lacking access to electricity. Furthermore, a huge population remains poor even after promises of economic progress in the country. It is time for the Nigerian government to embrace a green economy, build back better and stop the issuance of any more licences towards fossil fuels exploration in the country. – Michael Terungwa, Campaigner at Global Initiative for Food Security and Ecosystem Preservation in Nigeria
Glasgow and DC “Climate Clocks” send message to Biden and global leaders in advance of Earth Day: #ActInTime!
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
Climate Clock light projection launches in Glasgow as youth climate activists head to DC to deliver portable clocks to top Biden officials, and demand real climate action
The Leaders Summit on Climate will take place on April 22nd and aims to underscore the urgency of immediate and stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.
A global petition will be delivered to Joe Biden and world leaders urging them to drastically increase emissions reduction targets in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degree Celsius – by doing what the science demands, to stop funding fossil fuels and to get serious about the transition to renewable energy and ensure that no one is left behind.
As part of the day of actions leading up to the summit, campaigners from 350.org, Build Back Fossil Free coalition, Movement Catalyst and Fossil Free Bailout are delivering the Climate Clock to the Biden summit as a reminder that we are in a climate emergency and the time to act is now. The climate clock, which has been on display in New York, Union Square is a reminder of the urgent need to take climate action now.
Glasgow City Council and UK youth climate activists light-projected a CLIMATE CLOCK onto Glasgow’s landmark Tolbooth Steeple. Like its counterpart in Union Square, New York, the Glasgow CLIMATE CLOCK will count down the time until the threshold of carbon emissions for 1.5 degrees of warming is exceeded, and show the percentage of the world’s energy that is generated from renewable sources. It will run continuously every night for the six months from Earth Day until the COP26 begins, turning the eyes of the world to the upcoming UN Summit in November.
Graham Hogg, CLIMATE CLOCK’s Glasgow Team
“As Glasgow prepares to host COP26, the Tolbooth Steeple is the perfect location for Glasgow’s CLIMATE CLOCK. “For centuries, it was here that important proclamations were read out to the people of Glasgow. It stands at the convergence point where people from all points on the compass entered the city, and it is unmistakably Glasgow.”
Laura Berry, CLIMATE CLOCK Research Lead
“The science is clear: we are in a climate emergency. With its deadline and new lifeline, the CLIMATE CLOCK makes explicit the speed and scope of action that political leaders must take in order to limit the worst impacts of climate devastation.”
Thanu Yakupitiyage, 350.org US Communications Director:
“By using the Climate Clock as a tool, we are pressuring world governments to take bold action for a just recovery from the compound crisis our communities are facing from COVID-19, climate impacts, and racial and economic injustice. President Biden fulfilled his promise to cancel the Keystone XL permit, a massive Indigenous-led movement victory thanks to millions of people demanding an end to fossil fuels. Biden must now follow through to protect our communities by stopping all new fossil fuel projects — beginning with Line 3 and Dakota Access Pipeline. It’s time for Biden to be a real Climate President, show the world how serious the U.S. is about keeping fossil fuels in the ground, and lead by example on the world stage. Biden needs to go beyond promises and take immediate action to stop the bad, build the good, and repair the harm. “
James Miller, 19-year-old, UK youth climate activist
“1.5 degrees is our global beacon for climate action. The safety and wellbeing of millions of people depends on keeping below it. But it is slipping from our grasp; in order to keep that target in sight, we need to reduce global emissions by more than 50% by 2030. Existing pledges from world leaders fall far short of what the science demands.”
It is vital that the UK government leads the charge as host of COP26, but currently, the glaring disparity between their climate-leading rhetoric and half-hearted action to tackle emissions domestically is damaging international ambition.
If they hope to lead the world to success at this critical climate summit, they need to end their hypocrisy immediately and get back on track to meeting their targets. That means stopping polluting infrastructure projects, airport expansions and new fossil fuel exploration. And, importantly, it means aligning policy and sector targets with their national target, together with the spending needed to meet them.
This year, at COP26, world leaders have a crucial – perhaps final – chance to unite in pulling 1.5 degrees back within reach, and keep their promise to safeguard future generations. The world’s youth are watching, and we will not accept failure as an option.”
Agnes Hall, Global Campaigns Director at 350.org said
“There can be no meaningful climate action if world leaders don’t make a decisive move to keep all fossil fuels in the ground. The Biden Summit is a critical meeting of world leaders ahead of COP26 this November. Talk of “net-zero” won’t cut it: we demand more from our world leaders than false promises, false solutions and empty negotiations at Biden’s Climate Summit. The task now is to hold politicians to their lofty words, and to do that the global climate movement needs to keep up the pressure on our governments at home as well as on the international stage to take urgent action now to reduce carbon emissions and ensure a Just Recovery by creating a sustainable, fossil-free world ”.
Asad Rehman: UK COP26 coalition
Billions around the world face a daily struggle to survive in the face of a worsening climate crisis, a never ending crisis of inequality and a global health pandemic – with millions denied access to life-saving vaccines. Tinkering around the edges of a broken system will simply be a death sentence for them. Fixing the climate crisis requires more than simply cutting carbon; we need bold action that meets these challenges and puts us on a pathway to a fairer and safer planet for everyone.”
“The window is rapidly closing to prevent even more loss of lives and livelihoods. It’s only fair that the richest countries who have done the most to cause these crises, lead the way and put forward plans to decarbonise by 2030 and to meet their obligations to help developing countries with real financial pledges.”
Joseph Sikulu Pacific Managing Director 350.org
“In a world recovering from COVID-19 and the climate crisis, governments need to quickly divest from the fossil fuel industry and begin investing in a just recovery for all. Countries with high emissions, such as the United States and Australia, must stop subsidizing oil, gas and coal and direct their investments toward clean and just renewable energy so that we can limit Earth’s warming to 1.5 degrees.”
Wärtsilä partners with Ambitious.Africa to support young African talents
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
Ambitious.Africa supports and encourages young people in Africa and the Nordic countries to actively participate in working for a better future.
Wärtsilä’s commitment to supporting the well-being of society is again emphasised with its recent entry into a strategic partnership with Ambitious.Africa, a young initiative that aims to act as a bridge between Africa and the Nordic countries. Ambitious.Africa supports and encourages young people in Africa and the Nordic countries to actively participate in working for a better future. It aims to increase well-being in these countries by facilitating the sustainable development of local entrepreneurship.
The partnership between Wärtsilä and Ambitious.Africa is based on their mutual values and goals to support the youth of Africa and Europe in striving for a sustainable future. By working together, the partners can connect students, entrepreneurs, start-up companies, financiers, and various stakeholders from both continents to address common challenges through a novel approach aimed at empowering future generations. This collaboration further highlights the need for more cross-pollination of aims and dialogue between businesses and the communities they serve. Diversity and decentralisation are essential if full advantage is to be gained from the opportunities provided by the entire spectrum of fresh ideas and available talent.
Wärtsilä has a strong presence in Africa, and is well placed to encourage local youth to become involved in the company’s work to transition energy production towards a 100 percent renewables future. As a corporation with global and local perspectives, Wärtsilä’s intention is to engage fully with the societies in which it operates. This means going beyond merely encouraging local employment and supply contracts, so by aligning with Ambitious.Africa, the company can add initiatives aimed at providing the knowledge, skills, and training that will support these efforts.
“The challenges we face as a society, from education to income inequality, and civil rights to healthcare and climate change, are crying for novel ideas and solutions. As a company with a long history, both in Africa and the Nordics, we know the real benefit of joining forces across a broad spectrum of ideas and talent. Through our partnership with Ambitious Africa, we seek to engage student and entrepreneur communities to muster the true strength of a digitally native generation whose ideas are not limited by geography or politics. My hope is that we untap the magic of boundaryless creativity, and my dream is that many future leaders will rise through this partnership to change the world for the better” explained Björn Ullbro, Vice President, Africa & Europe at Wärtsilä Energy.
Vincent Forsman, co-founder of Ambitious.Africa, added: “We are not on pace to reach many critical Sustainable Development Goals with the speed at which they are needed – we need to be ready to experiment with new approaches and include youth in the development discourse. We believe that it takes connected ecosystems of Non-Governmental Organisations, start-ups, small and medium-sized enterprises, and prominent corporations to solve the problems we are currently facing. From our perspective, Wärtsilä is an ideal partner providing invaluable opportunities, both for young people and the communities in which they live. Combining the experience and know-how that Wärtsilä has, with the passion and ambition of the youth in Ambitious.Africa, is something truly novel – and a significant step towards empowering youth to take a significant role in shaping a sustainable future, both for themselves and their communities.”
Focus of main projects in 2021 is on local communities and university students
In 2021, the partnership will undertake three main projects; two focusing on local communities in Morocco and Nigeria, while the third will involve students at African and Nordic universities. In Nigeria, Ambitious. Africa will be hosting a six-part webinar for Master-Degree students, to learn about various sustainability issues. They will also participate in an Ideathon that could lead to potential solutions for positive change. The programme will end with an on-site event at the University of Ibadan on 24 April, which will include presentations on sustainability developments by experts from Wärtsilä and other world-renowned organisations. The participants will also be invited to participate in a workshop on innovative new solutions to tackle issues raised during the programme.
In Morocco, Pitch it! will feature a competition where local entrepreneurs involved in agri-tech, green innovation and sustainability can pitch their ideas. Climate change threatens the African continent and the goal is to encourage young entrepreneurs to help solve emerging issues with new innovative solutions.
Learn more about Ambitious.Africa
The Inaugural IUCN Africa Protected Congress Officially Relaunched.
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
The congress will be convened by the Government of Rwanda, the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Commission on Protected Areas and the African Wildlife Foundation.
The Government of Rwanda will in March 2022 host the inaugural IUCN Africa Protected Areas Congress (APAC) to discuss conservation of the continent’s protected areas. This comes after the relaunch of APAC in Kigali, Rwanda on 20th April 2021.
The congress which will be held from 7th – 12th March 2022 will be convened by the Government of Rwanda, the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Commission on Protected Areas (IUCN-WCPA) and the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF) in collaboration with partners.
Speaking at the relaunch event, the Chief Guest Dr Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, the Minister of Environment – Republic of Rwanda said: “Having been an IUCN Member since 2016, Rwanda is very proud to take up the global conservation leadership mantle and become the first African country to host the African Protected Area Congress. The Government of Rwanda recognizes the role of protected and conserved areas in ensuring the conservation of nature, sustaining ecosystem services and promoting sustainable development. We are indeed hopeful that through these efforts and deliberations obtained through the congress, Rwanda and the rest of Africa will be on the right trajectory towards recovery of our protected and conserved areas.”
Key conservation organizations and development partners have been actively engaged in the planning process for APAC, the first of its kind continent-wide gathering of African leaders, citizens, businesses and interest groups to discuss the role of protected areas in conserving nature and promoting sustainable development in Africa.
Deliberations convened around the themes Protected areas, People and Biodiversity aim to generate pathways that build and empower the current and the next generation of leaders to realize an African future where wildlife and wildlands are valued as an asset that contributes to development.
Luther Anukur, IUCN Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa said: “Protected and conserved areas play an important role in securing the resilience of ecosystems to help Africa build back better from COVID-19 and to reduce risks of future pandemics. APAC is a joint effort from conservation partners and African leaders. It is expected to contribute to African Union’s Agenda 2063 of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”
“One major lesson we have drawn from the past year is that overnight transformational change is possible. A different world, a different economy is suddenly dawning. Through this continental partnership, Africa will be able to present a unified front towards delivering a lasting balance between people, prosperity and our planetary boundaries. African Wildlife Foundation takes great pride in the central role we are playing to raise an African constituency in conservation and this congress is one of the major steps towards achieving this,” said AWF CEO, Kaddu Sebunya.
Through the congress, all partners hope to achieve African leadership commitment towards creating a unified African voice in conservation that will value African people and nature through effective protected areas.
The APAC initiative will enhance the status of conservation in Africa by engaging Governments, the Private Sector, Civil Society, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities, and Academia to shape Africa’s Agenda for Protected and Conserved Areas to better deliver benefits for people and nature.
The Africa Protected Area Congress will be held in Kigali, Rwanda in March 2022. Further details on the participation, venue and duration will be released in subsequent communication after the launch.
About IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas:
IUCN’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) is the world’s premier network of protected area expertise, administered by IUCN’s Global Programme on Protected Areas. WCPA works by helping governments and others plan protected areas and integrate them into all sectors; by providing strategic advice to policy makers; by strengthening capacity and investment in protected areas; and by convening the diverse constituency of protected area stakeholders to address challenging issues.
About African Wildlife Foundation:
The African Wildlife Foundation is the primary advocate for the protection of wildlife and wild lands as an essential part of a modern and prosperous Africa. Founded in 1961 to focus on Africa’s conservation needs, we articulate a uniquely African vision, bridge science and public policy, and demonstrate the benefits of conservation to ensure the survival of the continent’s wildlife and wild lands.
*SOURCE The African Wildlife Foundation (AWF)
JAPAN DONATES $6.5 M TO WFP TO STEM FOOD INSECURITY IN SOUTH SUDAN
April 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – The government of Japan has donated $6.5 million US dollar to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to mitigate food insecurity in the restive country.
The Government of Japan has funded food assistance to developing countries since 1968. Japan has supported WFP’s work in South Sudan since 2013, contributing more than US$35 million.
This latest contribution consists of US$4.5 million for life-saving food assistance to people who are severely food insecure and US$ 2 million to restore livelihoods and enhance resilience.
However, the WFP has welcomed contribution of US$6.5 million from the Government of Japan.
This contribution is timely at the start of the lean season when more than 7.2 million people in South Sudan are expected to face acute food shortages, said WFP in a press release today.
The WFP will use this contribution to support 115,000 people in Jonglei, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Lakes States, where food insecurity has reached catastrophic levels due to continuing violence, two years of excessive flooding, displacement and the loss of livelihoods, livestock, infrastructure and homes that have left millions of people highly vulnerable and unable to provide for themselves.
“It is our sincere wish that Japan’s grant helps save the people from food insecurity accelerated by natural disaster, communal violence and displacement and bring those suffering people back to a normal living environment which is the precondition to pave the way to nation building and economic development in South Sudan,” said H.E. Tsutsumi Naohiro, Ambassador of Japan to the Republic of South Sudan, in the press statement seen by Pan African Visions.
The contribution will also support WFP’s livelihoods and resilience-building programmes, which include creation of community assets such as access roads and multi-purpose water points.
These communal assets are geared towards improving families’ access to local markets to sell their produce and purchase food and other essentials, as well as their access to clean water.
“We are grateful to Japan for this timely contribution at a time when food needs are the greatest but funding for humanitarian assistance is dwindling because of the economic impact of COVID-19. This noble gesture demonstrates the government of Japan’s commitment towards alleviating suffering and contributing to peace in South Sudan,” said Matthew Hollingworth, WFP’s Country Director in South Sudan. “It is a great boost towards our saving lives and changing lives efforts.”
The country’s five year conflict has taken a heavy toll on the oil – rich nation’s economy and investment, founded 10 years ago after two decades of civil war.
It has also blighted by the impact of COVID-19 and unprecedented floods on the lives of the vulnerable locals.
South Sudan: Kiir On Charm Offensive to South African Investors
April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol
Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has invited and encouraged businessmen and investors in South Africa to invest in the world youngest nation.
President Kiir made the call while meeting with his counterpart president Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa over the weekend, during a 3-day working visit to Pretoria.
President Kiir returned to Juba a day ago after held extensive talks with President Ramaphosa on a number of issues pertaining to the implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement and ways to strengthen and deepen the bilateral relations between Juba and Pretoria.
It is not clear, which sectors does the president Kiir want the South Africa’s investors to channel their money to.
According to the Minister of Presidential Affairs, Dr. Barnaba Marial Benjamin said Kiir asked Ramaphosa to tell the South African business community that South Sudan was ready for their investment.
Dr. Marial stated that President Kiir also provided his counterpart with options.
“In their one-on-one discussion, President Kiir was able to brief President Ramaphosa on business and investment opportunities that are available in South Sudan and therefore, inviting the South African government top to partake in those activities,” said Dr Marial.
The two leaders also agreed to work to develop partnership in the trade and investment sectors as well as to the peace and stability in South Sudan.
In 2015, 28 South African Companies showed interest in investing in the mining, electricity and agricultural sectors in South Sudan.
In 2018, the South Africa government pledged to invest $1 billion in South Sudan’s oil sector, including in the construction of a refinery.
But up to date, nothing has been said about these investments in the country.
The country’s five year conflict has taken a heavy toll on the oil – rich nation’s economy and investment, founded 10 years ago after two decades of civil war.
Lifeline For South African Gold Miners In £280Million Compensation Relief.
April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Ten-Thousands of South Africa’s former gold miners languishing under silicosis diseases have received a long life relief of financial compensation after lawyers representing them won for them a long- time protracted legal battle against their labour laws defiant employers .
The recently released report from South Africa posted to the Pan-African media house reveals leniency on the side of thousands of workers who among them ¾ of the total figure amounting to ten thousands not less but exceeding to thrice the figure have been diagnosed silicosis.
Lawyer , Richard Spoor yells a long time battle relief releasing ten thousands of former gold miners out of absolute poverty pinned to them since time memorial they lost jobs due to illness , old age and some other reasons unexplained .
‘’ It has been a long -time. Its now a huge relief ‘’, Spoor en-marks his words for the relax moment for mine workers who were channeled to jurisprudence in 2016 after SA Judges key decision allowed lawyers to stand on behalf of miners in a labour relations and justice fair manner .
The historic agreement is meant to pull out a big number of some former mine workers who migrated to SA while from other parts of the region like from neighboring countries Zimbabwe , Malawi , Zambia , Mozambique and some in the SADC .
‘’We are happy,. We are just poor. This will help us somehow, somewhere, ‘’ says Hendrick Mokoena , 57 years old former gold mine worker .
According to a top workers representative Alois Makoi quoted by this media opens up that compensation varies from case to case. Some could get more than others but some will get less,
‘’ What I know is all former workers are relieved but some will get less. Compensation varies from case to case. Some will get less than amount ‘’
The Region is estimated to have more than 500,000 gold- workers who succumbed to silicosis. The lung infectious disease is caused by silica dust from gold bearing rocks. South-Africa the largest producer of gold in the World has the highest number of gold migrant workers especially from Malawi and Zimbabwe. Most of the workers migrated in the 1960s during the federation and amalgamation of Rhodesia [Zimbabwe] and Nyasaland [Malawi] . During the ensued years, Malawi had serious employment problems. A big number of job seeking young and old Malawians and Zimbabweans travelled to SA Wenela Mines for employment in gold mines.
Over 11,000 victims of terrorist attacks need urgent help in Palma
April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
Over 11,000 refugees, mostly children, are sheltering in a primary school after the terrorist attack on the nearby town of Palma, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
The refugees are at the Quitunda primary school on the Afungi peninsula close to Total’s natural gas project. About one-third of the 1,452 households are sleeping in the open, it added.
The IOM said that the government was providing some help, but that there was an urgent need for food, shelter and clothing in particular. According to the United Nations, insecurity is preventing its agencies from travelling to the site.
The villages provide basic services such as running water, sanitation, healthcare and education, according to the province’s secretary of state, Armindo Ngunga. However, a study by transparency watchdog the Centre for Public Integrity said that the resettlement villages provided “absolutely nothing except for water supplies and plots for housing construction.”
UNESCO condemns murder of Kenyan journalist Betty Barasa
April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
The United Nations, Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has condemned the brutal murder of Kenyan journalist Betty Barasa.
Betty was shot dead on April 7 in her Oloolua home in Ngong, southwest of Nairobi, by unknown assailants shortly after returning from work.
She was accosted by three men armed with AK-47 rifles and G3 rifles at the gate before leading her to the house where they held her family hostage. The gunmen ransacked the premises before killing her.
“I condemn the killing of Betty Barasa. I call on the authorities to investigate this crime and determine whether it was linked to Barasa’s profession as a journalist.” Said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General, noting that gunpoint censorship must not be allowed to undermine journalists.
The Director-General has called on Kenyan authorities to probe Betty’s death and bring the perpetrators to book.
The killing of the senior Video Editor and Producer at Kenya Broadcasting Cooperation (KBC) was also condemned by the Media Council of Kenya (MCK). The council said the acts of violence meted against journalists and media practitioners are uncalled for and a violation of press freedom.
“The council condemns the violent act that resulted in her untimely death … in Oloolua, Ngong. Accordingly, the council calls for expeditious investigation into the incident, with a view to having the culprits apprehended and prosecuted,” read MCK statement in part.
The post-mortem report revealed that Betty had a single bullet in her head that was fired on the face.
Police alleged the killers were on an elimination mission and not robbery as initially thought because they were in constant communication with unknown people.
Preliminary reports showed that the criminals put on gloves and balaclavas to avoid detection.
Betty was laid to rest on April 14.
Her death came barely two months after another journalist, Jennifer Wambua, was murdered and her body dumped in Kajiado, 107.8 km from Kenya’s capital Nairobi.
Zimbabwean special forces in Mozambique As SADC reviews terrorists attacks
April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
A technical team from regional body the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has arrived in Mozambique to assess the security situation in Cabo Delgado province and the type of support the body can provide.
The arrival of the team, whose deployment was agreed at SADC’s meeting two weeks ago, is to prepare a report to be presented at SADC’s security summit on 28 and 29 April in Maputo.
Zimbabwean news website TheNewsHawks meanwhile reports that Zimbabwean special forces are secretly operating in Cabo Delgado province to help Mozambican forces fight the terrorists there, citing a security source.
The forces sent to Mozambique were more or less the size of a platoon, which usually numbers up to 50 soldiers, and were operating under Mozambican leadership, the source said.
Regional security chiefs are also working on plans to send in the so-called standby force of SADC, ahead of a meeting of the body’s security ministers on 28 April. A spokesman for the Zimbabwean military denied that special forces had been sent to Mozambique.
Meanwhile, shooting can still be heard almost every day in the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province, almost three weeks after the insurgent attack on the town. The residents there want to leave but cannot find a way out. Roads have been closed as a result of the insecurity.
A flight from the nearby Afungi peninsula to Pemba, the provincial capital, costs MZN20,000 ($324), and only one boat is available for exit by sea, which requires a lot of effort, luck, influence or spending, to get a place on.
Also, Mozambican refugees are still struggling to cross the border into Tanzania. Tanzanian authorities have been reluctant to allow them entry and, following a screening, are returning refugees to Mozambique through the border crossing of Negomano, in Mueda district.
Nevertheless, people are still attempting the 60 km walk to the border, despite fear of hunger or being kidnapped by the insurgents.
Philadelphia’s Joel Embid receives march NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kiaser Permanente
April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
|NBA and Kaiser Permanente to Donate $10,000 to Covenant House Pennsylvania|
NEW YORK, United States of America, April 19, 2021/ — Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has received the March NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente in recognition of his dedicated efforts to address housing insecurity in Greater Philadelphia, the NBA today announced. Each month the award recognizes a player who best reflects the passion that the league and NBA players share for giving back to their communities.
While Embiid has long been focused on addressing disparities in his local community and impacting the lives of youth and families, the COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the stark inequities present. This March, after being named a 2021 NBA All-Star starter for the fourth consecutive year, Embiid continued his efforts to combat homelessness in Philadelphia with a $100,000 contribution to three Philadelphia-based organizations: Youth Services Inc., Project HOME and Sunday Breakfast Mission. The donation provided 15,000 meals to those in need, 4,000 essential clothing items, medical treatment for 1,000 housing insecure individuals, access to a six-week summer camp for 50 young people experiencing homelessness and shelter for more than 300 teens facing housing insecurity. Embiid extended his support of local community members by assisting five families that had been greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, providing each with gifts and clothing, groceries and housing rent relief for the next year.
Much of Embiid’s community efforts over the last year have focused on COVID-19 relief. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Embiid joined 76ers Managing Partners Josh Harris and David Blitzer to donate $1.3 million to Penn Medicine to develop antibody testing of frontline healthcare workers. As part of his continued support for healthcare workers, he pledged $500,000 through the #FirstRespondersFirst campaign, an initiative of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Thrive Global and the CAA Foundation, to provide PPE to frontline workers.
“I am humbled to be recognized as the recipient of the NBA Cares Community Assist Award,” said Embiid. “It has always been incredibly important for me to use the platform I have been given to create positive change. Housing insecurity and homelessness affect so many in our communities, and we need to come together, now more than ever, to support one another. I am proud to support organizations like Covenant House Pennsylvania that are working every day to provide essential resources and services.”
Embiid was presented with the award during a special virtual ceremony with league, Kaiser Permanente and 76ers officials on Friday, and will also be recognized during the team’s home game tonight against the Golden State Warriors (7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.) In addition, Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 on Embiid’s behalf to Covenant House Pennsylvania.
The NBA Cares Community Assist Award presented by Kaiser Permanente recognizes an NBA player each month who best reflects the passion that the league and its players share for giving back to their communities. It honors the standard set by NBA Legend David Robinson, who improved the community piece by piece. At the end of the 2020-21 regular season, the Season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner will be announced. To learn more, please visit www.CommunityAssist.nba.com/.
*National Basketball Association (NBA).
The American e-education startup Holberton announces a new $20 million round of funding to accelerate its development in Africa
April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
The funding will allow the Californian-based startup to develop its computer engineering training solutions for universities, training centers, and companies on the African continent.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 19, 2021 – Holberton, making software engineering education affordable and accessible globally, announced today that it has raised $20 million in Series B funding led by Redpoint eventures with new investor Pearson Ventures and participation by existing investors Daphni, Imaginable Futures, Reach Capital and Trinity Ventures.
Holberton works with institutes in several African countries including Tunisia, Madagascar, and Morocco, which have trained thousands of learners. The group’s ambition is to help more than 500,000 students in Africa gain access to first-rate education by 2030, directly via its Holberton School Network, or indirectly with education institutions and training centers. To reach that goal, Holberton constantly innovates and expands how it delivers education on a large scale.
“We have developed technologies, tools, programs, and teaching methods to complement, extend or fill gaps in the training of students or employees. Our solutions have been designed and created to train learners anywhere in the world and at any level of Commuter Science Knowledge, whether they are beginners or familiar with the computer language”, says Julien Barbier, CEO, and co-founder of Holberton.
With its partners, Holberton has provided education to thousands of students around the world, creating new tools, processes, programs, and methods needed to send students into high-paying jobs at top technology companies such as Amazon, Apple, Google, LinkedIn, Tesla, and more. Holberton has created a new concept that it calls the “OS of Education”. Customers use what they need to either build entire new schools or supplement their current education delivery.
“Since our founding in Silicon Valley in 2015, we have had a vision of making software engineering education affordable and accessible to everybody around the world,” said Julien Barbier. “Africa is a continent with a considerable nursery of young people to train. Our solutions enable public and private institutions to offer modern, tailored education that meets the needs of the job market on the continent.”
Holberton’s offering includes a complete off-the-shelf franchise model, as well as tailored curricula, auto-graded projects, and tools. Customers — who best understand their student needs, job market requirements, and unique accessibility challenges — use what they want or need to fulfill their educational mission. And thus contribute to filling a national pool of highly qualified software engineers.
“Holberton’s OS of Education concept opens up the company’s proven tools to a broader education market,” said Manoel Lemos, managing partner at Redpoint eventures. “They’ve proven successful in breaking down barriers of cost and access while delivering a world-class curriculum. With the concept of ‘OS of Education’ as a service, they provide customers with all the tools they need for success. Customers can be non-profit impact investors who want to improve local economies, education institutions who want to fill gaps in how they teach in a post-COVID learning environment or corporations who want to provide the best training possible as education providers themselves or as employee development programs.”
Founded in Silicon Valley in 2015, Holberton’s innovative and flexible delivery of the “OS of Education” provides a unique portfolio of tools, auto-graded tailored curricula and teaching methods to help its customers – education institutions, universities, corporations and franchisees – successfully train the next generation of digital talent at scale.
About Redpoint eventures
Redpoint eventures is a venture capital firm investing in Latin American startups. The firm partners with visionary founders using technology to create new markets and solve big problems in existing ones. With an experienced team in Brazil and in close partnership with two Silicon Valley firms (e.ventures and Redpoint), the firm helps founders secure the capital, talent and growth to succeed further, faster.
Founded in 2012, Redpoint eventures invests across seed, early and growth stages. It manages over $300 million and has more than 40 companies in its portfolio, including Creditas, Gympass, Minuto Seguros, Olist, Pipefy, Rappi and Resultados Digitais. As part of its mission to support the Brazilian ecosystem, the firm co-founded Cubo , the second largest innovation hub in the world, based in Sao Paulo, where it’s headquartered. For more information, please visit www.rpev.com.br.
New report highlights COVID-19 impact on African trade finance
April 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
Cairo, 19 April 2021: – African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), in collaboration with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership (MFW4A) released on 15 April 2021 the African Trade Finance Survey Report which provides a better understanding of the trade finance landscape across Africa and how it has evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic. The report is the first of its kind, surveying 185 banks from across Africa, representing more than 58% of total assets held by African banks.
In his opening remarks, Professor Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, highlighted how the tightening global financial conditions triggered massive capital outflows from Africa, exceeding $5 billion in the first quarter of 2020. “These massive capital outflows strained African banks, many of which recorded sharp drops in their net foreign assets. This further exacerbated liquidity constraints and undermined the capacity of banks to finance African trade”, said Professor Oramah.
As a result of the pandemic and inherent tightening financing conditions, heightening balance of payment pressures and liquidity constraints, the supply of trade finance was affected between January and April 2020, the period covered by the survey. According to the report, the number of correspondent banking relationships fell across the region, and the rejection of L/C requests increased, with about 38% of local/privately-owned banks and 30% of foreign banks reporting an increase in rejection rates, respectively.
Dr Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary at the ECA, commended Afreximbank for the counter-cyclical measures it took to help countries deal with the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. “The Bank has also played a major role in putting together a $2 billion facility to help African member states purchase up to 400 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines”, she added.
Dr Songwe also urged African leaders, especially Central Bank Governors and Ministers of Finance and other development partners to further support institutions such as Afreximbank through capital increases as such banks can leverage this capital five or six times and deploy more resources towards Africa’s recovery.
The report highlighted the role trade finance can play in overcoming the social and economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic to quicken the process of economic recovery through trade and investment growth.
For H.E. Mr Ebson Uanguta, Deputy Governor of Bank of Namibia, the crisis was deep and government interventions needed to be bold and swift to help banks support businesses and limit insolvencies. “Most sectors of the economies were severely impacted, and we took several measures to support the broader economy and trade finance in particular, including easing of monetary policy, relaxation of regulatory requirements and institution of loan repayment moratoriums to the tune of $619 million”, said Mr Uanguta.
According to Ms Mervat Soltan, Chairperson and Managing Director at the Export Development Bank of Egypt, the bank had seen a big uptake in its digital services during the pandemic downturn. Egypt is one of the few countries where output expanded in the face of a synchronized global downturn. “Digitalisation which sustained business and trade growth during the pandemic offers a great opportunity to help reduce costs and increase the use of trade finance facilities and should become an integral part of the strategy to boost African trade post-COVID-19”, she added.
The report pointed out that African trade amounts to $1,077 billion but that banks intermediate $417 billion of this, approximately 40%, whilst the global average is 80%. Ms Bola Adesola, Senior Vice Chairman for Africa at Standard Chartered stressed the need to increase businesses on the continent, to help drive trade both extra- and intra-African trade and banks’ intermediation. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), she added, can provide a platform to help drive greater businesses.
Mr Amr Kamel, Executive Vice President, Business Development and Corporate Banking at Afreximbank, highlighted the role of Development Finance Institutions during downturns, pointing out that “Afreximbank’s Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) has provided timely support to banks, helping to clear payments falling due and avert payment defaults.” He also shared some of the key initiatives the Bank is pushing through to address the challenges of liquidity constraints and boost African trade such as the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) and Afreximbank Trade Finance and Trade Facilitation (AFTRAF) programme to increase the provision of correspondent banking services to African banks.
One of the Bank’s longstanding partners, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) reiterated the importance of international collaboration even if the initial instinct in a crisis is to look inwards. Their response in Africa to the crisis has been anchored on three Rs: assist to help Respond to the pandemic; help with the Recovery; and contribute to Restart the economy.
The report made numerous recommendations. These include: a greater engagement between central banks and industry; push for increased digitalisation and take up of technologies; and better data, which will help better understand and price risk.
In his closing remarks, Dr Hippolyte Fofack, Chief Economist at Afreximbank, reiterated the need to sustainably grow the supply of trade finance across the region. “Trade finance is the lifeblood of commerce and will play a key role in the recovery and structural transformation of African economies to better prepare the region to future global crises”, he added.
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote extra-and intra-African trade. Afreximbank deploys innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa.
The Making Finance Work for Africa Partnership (MFW4A) is a unique platform hosted at the AfDB for African financial sector development research, advocacy, knowledge management and networking. Our partners (AfDB, AFD, EIB, GIZ and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs) share a common vision of innovative, robust and competitive African financial systems, providing near-universal access to financial services by 2030, and offering a full range of products and services for the continent.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) is one of the UN’s five regional commissions and has a mandate to promote the economic and social development of its member states, foster intra-regional integration and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development.
Kenya rattles Chinese firm Wu Yi over the unfinished expansion of 25km road
April 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
China-based construction firm Wu Yi has found itself on the wrong side with the Kenyan government after it failed to complete the expansion of a Nairobi road on time.
The firm was awarded $158 million in 2016 to expand the 25km James Gichuru-Rironi road stretch along Waiyaki way into a superhighway.
The work began in 2017, and the two parties struck a deal to have the work be done by December 2020. However, the firm is yet to fulfill its promise, a move that angered Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Secretary (CS) James Macharia.
Macharia has given Wu Yi an ultimatum for the road to be completed by the end of July 2021, saying delays were becoming frequent.
“That’s not what we agreed on. You told us December 2020, then it was February 2021, then April and now you want December? It can’t work like that. We’ve been helping you with everything that you have asked and now you want more time?” asked CS.
He continued, “I thought we’re coming to prepare for the commissioning, but now it cannot be done because you’re saying three kilometers are not ready. What we want now is to get a firm commitment that the road will be completed in the next two months.”
The firm’s Engineer Sanjay Kumar, in defense, blamed unavoidable circumstances for the delays saying the work is 85 percent complete.
Kumar vowed to have the 3km stretch completed in due time.
The East African nation resolved to expand its roads, particularly in Nairobi, to reduce traffic jams.
The modernization of the country’s infrastructure will also ensure the achievement of the vision 2030 to create a globally competitive and prosperous nation with a high quality of life for all its citizens.
Pressure growing on the Kenyan government to allow the resumption of sports activities
April 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya Sevens head coach Innocent Simiyu has joined the list of growing individuals calling for the return of sporting activities in the country.
Simiyu pleaded with the government to heed to their requests promising to practice the Covid-19 protocols put in place by the Ministry of Health.
He narrated the players’ woos, saying they are struggling to meet their daily needs citing sports as their full-time job.
“Currently most of the players earn their living through sports and many more at the rugby grassroots depend on rugby to earn their living.”
“There are a lot of players who’re not in the national team, so our prayer to the government is to find a solution so that the players can resume and earn a living out of the game,” noted Simiyu.
The same was echoed by Football Kenya Federation (FKF) Women Premier League clubs.
“Football is a source of livelihood for us, it’s a way of life and our identity. Therefore, we would like to plead with the government to allow the safe resumption of football,” said Fauzia Kaunjeri, who plies her trade Mathare United.
FKF boss Nick Mwendwa also revealed to Goal that the federation had written to the government seeking to have the league resumed under the tight Covid-19 rules.
“I am sure it will not take time, the league will return soon, all they want us to do is what we have been doing before, we are ready to improve where we failed and our intentions are to have action back,” the Goal quoted Mwendwa.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, on March 26, banned all sporting activities until further notice to avert the third wave of the Covid-19 in the country.
The directive recently forced the FKF to call off a friendly match between Kenyan queens Harambee Starlets Zambia’s Copper Queens. The game was scheduled to take place on April 24 in Lusaka.
Starlets were set to use the match for preparation ahead of the upcoming AWCON 2022 and FIFA World Cup 2022 Qualifiers, whereas Zambia is now preparing for Tokyo Olympics.
“Regrettably, sir, we wish to inform you that we are yet to receive the greenlight from the government/Ministry of Sports to resume training in preparation for the friendly match and in view of the aforementioned and coupled with the travel restrictions outside the country placed on the national teams by the Ministry of Sports, we wish to request for the cancellation of the planned friendly match,” FKF said in its letter to the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ).
Chinese firm wins road construction project in Kenya
April 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya National Highways Authority (KeNHA) has awarded the China Communication Construction Company a $157 million tender to construct the Lamu-Ijara-Garissa highway.
The Chinese firm will upgrade the 196km road to all-weather gravel standards for three years.
“Kenha Director General Eng. Peter Mundinia and the General Manager M/S China Communication Construction Company Limited have today signed a tender award agreement for stage construction of the LAPSSET Development Project: Lamu – Ijara – Garissa (A10) Road and associated spur roads,” said the authority.
The other sections that will be constructed simultaneously are the country’s 113 kilometers of the Hindi – Bodhei – Basuba – Kiunga road and the Ijara – Sangailu -Hulugho road.
Meanwhile, KeNHA further revealed that the 114km Garsen-Witu-Lamu road project is 87 percent complete, and it will be commissioned in the next sixty days.
The construction of the Lamu Port South Sudan Ethiopia Transport Corridor Project is underway and is expected to transform the region’s economy.