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Ethiopia Must Rethink “Unfortunate” Hate Speech Law
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Arusha, Tanzania, February 17, 2020 — On 13th February the parliament of Ethiopia passed the much-contested proclamation on fake news and hate speech regulation with nearly 300 votes from the lawmakers in support.The country started speaking publicly about developing such a law in 2018 and announced passage of the proclamation by the government in November 2019.

The history of Ethiopia has always had the government keeping a upper hand on the citizens through oppressive laws and internet censorship.Waves of protests have been on the rise since 2015 with violence and human rights violations highly observed at such times including killing of protestors and regular internet shutdowns.

Content has been a landscape that the country has tried to control by taking down websites and maintaining monopoly of  the telecom sector .Despite the progress made since Prime Minister Abiy took over, the information space is still highly regulated, with last year alone reporting more than 3 shutdowns.

With rising tensions and communal violence since 2018 the government has since claimed that such were fuelled by online speech.Following the attempted coup in Oromo state last year and the killing of about 86 people the Prime Minister was quoted saying, “For the sake of national security, internet and social media could be blocked any time necessary.” The state has since gone on to have more shutdowns hence silencing dissent by making online avenues inaccessible for people to exercise their rights.As Ethiopia approaches elections in August this year, a free and fair election demands the ability to exercise free speech and opinion by all Ethiopians, this bill comes in time to take away that right.

Law makers claim that hate speech and fake news are much to blame for the rising ethnic tensions in the country hence its important that they legislate this ahead of the elections.The law is vaguely done and leaves room for biased interpretations this includes definitions such as hate speech which means “speech that promotes hatred, discrimination or attacks against a person or an identifiable group, based on ethnicity, religion, race, gender or disability.”This leaves room for the law to be used as a weapon to incriminate free speech in the upcoming elections as it’s not clear or objective enough.

The new legislation also stops dissemination of information cited as fake, hateful among other things without clearly identifying the process of determining whether speech is inciting, hateful and/or fake.The danger is the implications this will have on free speech as well as a free press as the law also targets  media such as social media as avenues of hate speech and fake news dissemination.This makes the already shaky ground of digital rights in the country even more unstable not guaranteeing transparency and free elections.The laws criminalize this offence with fines as high as 3000$  and jail time of up to 5 years for violations of the proclamation which are not realistic.

Paradigm Initiative urges the government of Ethiopia to reconsider this regulation and come to the realization that hate speech cannot be combated by regulating speech but rather it will only fuel rights violations and lead to greater damages.

It is essential that the government of Ethiopia reaffirms its commitment to human rights by keeping speech free and building legal frameworks to promote democracy and good governance hence steering the nation to stability rather than legislate restrictions.

We commend efforts made so far by the government such as the unblocking of several websites that had been blocked during a period of instability in the nation, however, methods employed then didn’t work and similar methods of censorship won’t make progress.It’s imperative that the online space be proved to  be safe spaces respected by the government as an avenue for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights.

*Paradigm Initiative

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100 pangolin traffickers arrested in Mozambique
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos

The Mozambican authorities arrested at least 100 people in 2019 accused of trafficking in Pangolin, an animal known worldwide as being endangered. Of those arrested, four were sentenced to between 12 and 16 years in prison.

A total of 31 trafficking cases were recorded in the provinces of Niassa and Nampula (North), Sofala, Tete and Manica (centre), and Maputo (South), in incursions motivated by strong demand for the animal, with the Asian black market being the main destination.

“The unbridled demand for the animal highlights the critical nature of the species threat in Mozambique,” said Mateus Mutemba, head of government conservation agency ANAC, in the context of Pangolim national week. “We have to be on alert”

In the Mozambican tradition, Pangolim is called Eka (in the north), Nkawale (in the center) and Halakavuma (in the south) and has an invaluable cultural social value.

The animal is associated with myths. Some believe it is sent by God for prosperity, rainfall, and good harvests. Sometimes the animal is seen as a messenger of negative events such as drought and other climatic phenomena.

Before globalization, these myths and beliefs contributed to the survival of the species. However, the increase in demand for traditional Asian medicine caused a rapid decline in the population of Pangolin, even damaging the Mozambican economy.

“The illegal trade in wildlife products not only creates an imbalance in ecosystems and loss of biodiversity,” said Mutemba, “but it also damages the country’s economy by taking away the opportunity to generate employment and income for local communities through the wildlife-based economy and legal trade.

Official figures from the United Nations World Environment Program point to just over a million pangolins trafficked to the Asian black market in the last 10 years. In the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region alone, of which Mozambique is a member, there are an estimated 50,000 pangolins slaughtered each year for illegal trade purposes.

The Pangolin is considered the most trafficked mammal in the world, surpassing ivory and the rhinoceros horn. The animal plays a very important role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems, being responsible for controlling some pests such as ants and termites, keeping the soil airy and fertile for agricultural production.

“The animal is important… very important” Mutemba Said. “We will continue to make efforts to prevent trafficking” he added warning that ANAC will continue to arrest and impose various fines for the principals, hunters, traffickers, among others involved in illegal activities against the species.

In the surveillance Mozambique has the support of the United States Agency for Development (ISAID).  It was this organization that developed a Pangolim manual in Portuguese – the official language of the country – in order to support the identification of the scales of this mammal by the Customs, Migration and Police authorities.

Pangolin, elephants and rhinoceroses are the species most under threat from poaching in Mozambique.

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Rwanda:Health Minister Ousted Over Faulty Handling of coronavirus
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Dr Diane Gashumba resigned over lying to President Kagame
Dr Diane Gashumba resigned over lying to President Kagame

President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has revealed how he was lied by Minister of health Dr Diane Gashumba on the country’s preparedness over fighting coronavirus.

The virus is killing people in China and fear are that it may reach other countries including Rwanda if strict measures are not taken.

Last Friday, Rwanda’s Prime minister office announced that it had received Gashumba resignation letters. The real  reasons behind her resignation were not shared only to say that “the resignation follows a series of habitual gross errors and repeated leadership failures on the part of the Minister.”

Addressing hundreds of leaders who attended National leaders’ retreat in the East, President Kagame said he was fed up by errors done under Gashumba leadership including lying about the status of coronavirus in the country.

He said that he wanted people who attended  retreat to be screened coronavirus before heading to retreat, because Ministry of Health had been saying country is ready to curb the deadly virus.

“One day I called some leaders and asked them to screen all of us before the retreat. I told them to tell Minister of health to do it and I would be the one to be screened”, he paused before adding “They had been telling me that we are ready if it comes and after they changed narrative saying there is no need to be screened.”

Kagame said that the Minister of health secretly told one leader that country has 3500 kits to use while screening coronavirus, that if some 400 others  are deducted to screen leaders in retreat, will be bad.

Security organs made investigations to know the truth  and they found that only 95 kits are available.

“After realizing the report from Ministry of health, I asked if those kits could work only for 95 people really, and they replied ‘Yes’. I returned to the Minister of health and asked, she started a long story, that I misheard her…” he said

Minister Gashumba also is  blamed for other health facilities problems. Kagame said he will never tolerate such leaders who misuse public assets.

Last week other ministers resigned including Evode Uwizeyimana who was State Minister in charge of constitution and legal affairs together with State Minister Munyakazi Isaac who was in charge of primary and secondary education.

Uwizeyimana is alleged to have assaulted a woman who was guarding a commercial complex in Kigali while she was asking him to pass through security scanning machine, whereas Munyakazi is said to have received bribe in order to give good credits one school in national examination results.

Investigation into the matter for both former Ministers has been launched. It has been nine years without any Minister resigning in the government.

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Cameroon: Growing Calls for International Community To Investigate Massive Killings In NW Region
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Photo believe to include some of the children killed during the raid
Photo believe to include some of the children killed during the raid

The dead toll of week’s Ngarbuh-Ntumbaw Massacre in Ndu sub-division of the North West region in Cameroon now stands at 32 as the locality remains gripped with fear, grief and wretchedness.

There has been widespread condemnation following the brutal killings among them pregnant women and children.

While some of the villagers were reportedly shot dead in separate locations in the enclaved village, others, were burnt alive when their homes were set ablaze.

“We gathered that the incident occurred when men in military attire stormed the village Friday in search of separatist fighters. The men in military outfits had arrived in the locality the previous night and camped at a nearby hamlet,” a local reporter said.

“As they moved into Ngarbuh the next day, we gathered, the Amba boys in the area had fled into the bushes. We also gathered that, houses belonging to the separatist fighters were then targeted, resulting in heavy human and material lost. Villagers, who attempted fleeing, were said to have been shot and killed.”

“Pregnant women, children and some adults who took refuge in houses in the village were all burned alive. At least 13 houses are known to have been burnt, resulting the demise of 27 persons, mostly children and women,” our source revealed after concluding his preliminary investigations.

We gathered that, a family of seven, was wiped out entirely during Friday’s horrific incident in what now stands as the bloodiest incident recorded amidst the ongoing armed conflict in the Anglophone regions of the country. This proceeds that of Pinyin in May 2018 in which at least 30 persons were reported to have been massacred.

Meanwhile, in a telephone conservation with The Guardian Post, army spokesperson, Colonel Cyrille Atonfack, merely confirmed the incident before disclosing authorities were investigating the issue.

He, however, dismissed reports that the massacre might have been carried out by soldiers. The army spokesperson said he believes the barbaric act must have been orchestrated by separatist fighters, known as “Amba boys”, whom he accused of carrying out similar actions and are always quick to go to the social media to post pictures of victims.

The military spokesman emphasized that the information attributing the brutal raid on government military forces is all “Fake News”.

Mass graves were used to burry the victims of Ngarbuh-Ntumbaw Massacre (photo: mimimefoinfo)
Mass graves were used to burry the victims of Ngarbuh-Ntumbaw Massacre (photo: mimimefoinfo)

Condemnations galore

Following last Friday’s incident in Ndu sub division, several prominent personalities and groups have been commenting on the issue.

Former presidential candidate and renowned lawyer, Barrister Akere Muna, took to his twitter page to condemn the massacre, describing it as “unfortunate”.

“Ngar village, Donga Mantung – Suffering, death and killing are now the new normal. How did we get here where human life no longer has any value? We must all, now, genuinely seek #peace before this country loses its soul”, the lawyer turned politician tweeted.

“Pray for all the innocent victims,” he added.

In a similar outing, the national president of the United Socialist Democratic Party, USDP, Prince Ekosso, urged that:

“The massacre and the genocide going on in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon should not go unpunished”.

“I am calling on the International Criminal Court to investigate these crimes and the perpetrators brought to book,” he said.

“The world should not give a blind eye to the happenings in Cameroon as though there are no International Guiding Norms to Human Rights and dignity,” he added.

In a statement issued Sunday, renowned human rights group, the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRDA, described the incident as “barbaric”.

The group said: “We have received with shock the gruesome murder of at least 27 lives…on the 14th of February, 2020”.

“This happened at the village of Ngarbuh, Donga Mantung Division of the North West region Cameroon.

Among the victims are pregnant women and children, who were not only shot with live bullets at close range, but were equally burnt to ashes…,” the group detailed.

They said: “We have waited to receive an official statement from the government about the incident but it is not forth coming. In the meantime, CHRDA condemns in the strongest terms this barbaric and atrocious act…as it is a blatant violation of International Law and the most sacrosanct principle of the right to life”.

The rights body said it was recommending an investigation into the incident by the government and the immediate arrest and trial of those who carried out this “act for crimes against humanity”.

“While we decry this barbaric and unspeakable action, investigations into the details are still ongoing and shall be released alongside other human rights atrocities committed by both parties to the ongoing Anglophone crisis since the start of the year 2020,” the group concluded.

Leaders of the separatist movement and activists of Southern Cameroon’s quest for separation from Cameroon have all sworn to avenge the brutal killings in their land. Though some leaders, such as those grouped under the Southern Cameroon Liberation Council, SCLC have taken moderate stands requesting an investigation into the atrocity, others are urging their fighters in the North West and South West regions to ensure that the government of President Paul Biya and his administration know no rest.  

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Cameroon: Civilians Killed in bloody Attack in North West Region
February 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Some 22 civilians including 14 children killed in attack per reports

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The Cameroon Anglophone crisis has led to thousands of displaced persons, kidnapped, and others killed
The Cameroon Anglophone crisis has led to thousands of displaced persons, kidnapped, and others killed

Politicians, lawyers, and ordinary civilians continue to express their disgust on the killing of some 22 civilians, including some 14 children and pregnant women, according to media reports. Images of the massacre inundated social media platforms with the reason for the attack still unknown.

The killings took place on February 14, 2020, in the locality of Ntumbo, Donga Mantung Division of the North West Region of Cameroon. Those who carried out the attack has yet to be identified but there has been counter accusations as Cameroon’s security forces accuses separatist forces, and separatist forces in turn accusing government forces.

In a report last year provided by the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa, CHRAD, crimes against humanity are presently being committed in Cameroon.

Mimi Meffo understands that it was the “government soldiers” who committed these abuses, and is also offended by the silence of the “government of Yaoundé,” which borders on indifference.

Human rights groups and international organizations have reported deteriorating political, humanitarian, and security conditions as a result of extrajudicial killings, torture, arbitrary arrests, severe deprivations of liberty, and mass displacements of civilian populations.

James Nuna, Head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, for the North West and South West Regions speaking to RFI revealed the circumstances of this human butchery.

“According to information that has been successfully confirmed, twenty-two civilians were killed on the morning of February 14. Armed men have, for an unknown reason, targeted these people. Of the twenty-two victims (…), fourteen were children. And we are led to believe that nine of them were under the age of five. In most cases, they were shot and their bodies were burned in houses which were burned down. We also know that one of the victims, a woman, was pregnant. A second pregnant woman was shot and injured. Fortunately, she is still alive. She has been hospitalized and is in critical condition. Unfortunately, she lost her baby”, said the UN official.

In a statement released Sunday, February 16, 2020, the MRC Party of Prof Maurice Kamto denounced an “organized crime against human procreation and any idea of humanism.”

“The MRC demands that those responsible for the massacres be immediately arrested, tried and sentenced; that these heinous crimes of children, pregnant women and innocent civilians caught in the crossfire will never again be perpetrated by elements of the so-called republican army, a fortiori by various armed groups,” wrote Sosthène Médard Lipot, the secretary National Communication Department.

“The Movement for the Renaissance of Cameroon (MRC) strongly condemns this criminal and fatal project, the implementation of which is written in bloody characters, takes shape cynically, and is carried out in a barbaric manner in the English-speaking regions of the North West, and the South West, since, 2016. The MRC sends its condolences to the families of the victims, so hard hit by this tragedy of a national and even global scope.”

Human rights lawyer Félix Agbor Nkongho, who also attributes the killing to the defense forces, demands that “investigations be carried out following this horrible murder, and that the perpetrators be brought to justice.”

“We must open an investigation; it is an obligation with members of civil society, the government, and the opposition. We have to know who did this, and we have to find a solution to this useless war. Civilians are the victims. It’s hard what’s going on between the separatists, and the government,” asks lawyer Felix Agbor Balla.

Politician and former chairman Akere Muna, leader of the “Now” movement,  wonders about the situation: “ How did we get there so that human life lost all its value. We must all seek peace before this country loses its soul.”

In a report last year, CHRDA reported that since the crisis broke out in 2016, more than 200 villages have been partly or completely destroyed, forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee while the rate of attacks on villages has increased steadily, usually causing significant damage. Between 450, 000 and 550, 000 people have been displaced as a result of the crisis, representing about 10 percent of the regions’ population, the report read in part. An additional 30, 000 to 35, 000 people have sought asylum in neighboring countries.

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Lawyers on Demand: Changing the Way Legal Work is Done in Africa by Playing the “Scale Game”
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

African legal clients are demanding a practice model that is swift, cost-effective and transparent

By Glenda Irvine-Smith*

Glenda Irvine-Smith
Glenda Irvine-Smith

According to the Director of Business Development & International Relations at Centurion Law Group (https://CenturionLG.com/), and Key Coordinator of the firm’s unique Centurion Plus model, Glenda Irvine-Smith the demand for “agile” local lawyers has risen significantly on the African continent. This is why Centurion has developed its Centurion Plus platform to respond to this need.

Despite numerous global and regional challenges, investment in Africa is predicted to grow in 2020; with African M&A values in 2019 valued at around $13 billion in total, there is a lot to play for on the continent.

To take advantage of this positive investment climate, investors must form close working relationships with the best legal counsel, as well as due diligence experts and local advisors on the ground in Africa, who have specialist knowledge and understanding of the particular commercial challenges within their investment locations.

Investors in Africa must also consider geo-political and economic uncertainty on the continent as well as a plethora of country and region-specific governance, compliance and regulatory challenges when investing in the region.

In order to close deals on the continent, investors need access to the right information and data. The success of a transaction depends on having real knowledge instead of relying on market perception.

Furthermore, investors can never assume one country is the same as any other in Africa. Even if they are geographical neighbours, each country is vastly different to the next. The legal systems in many countries are also changing rapidly, stemming from a desire to encourage foreign investment, but also out of a need to protect the rights and resources of a country and its people.

This is why in Africa, the demand for “agile” local lawyers has risen significantly: African legal clients are demanding a practice model that is swift, cost-effective and transparent. With a cost model that is scaled to the client’s needs and a service model that is tailored to the job. Clients are also looking for non-traditional, outside of the box thinking which can seize opportunities in a way that a one-size-fits-all traditional legal approach cannot.

Centurion Law Group has developed its Centurion Plus platform to respond to this need. The firm believes in providing flexible solutions to clients that address mounting workloads and budgetary constraints. Centurion Plus is a platform which provides on-demand-lawyers that can work with clients on site or remotely, on various flexible models such as secondments, special projects, rotational work or flexible support. Clients also get the benefit of expertise at a far more competitive rate that reflects the significantly lower overhead costs of this model.

Not only does this alternative to orthodox law firms, work for clients; it works for lawyers too. It is certainly a growing trend that instead of working at a law firm, working extremely long hours, and having a portion of your earnings going into the owners’ pockets, you can become a freelance lawyer, working on demand.

So many companies have adopted this design thinking model for the delivery of its legal services – by telling lawyers what, when and how they need their work completed.; This has led to the successful implementation of on-demand-services, dramatically reducing lawyers’ time on transactions, while improving the insight, judgement and predictability of outcomes.  Furthermore, “buyers” of legal services are increasingly driven to purchase legal services online, decoupled from traditional institutions, to access quality and convenience without the high costs.

While the concept is not new, this hasn’t been done in the unchartered waters of Africa yet. The challenge for African firms operating platforms like Centurion Plus will revolve around the mindset shift of becoming more process-driven, technology-enabled and delivering quality legal services.

* Glenda Irvine-Smith is the Director of Business Development & International Relations at Centurion Law Group. She is the Key Coordinator of Centurion Plus, where she leverages her network and database of leading African law firms and lawyers to assist large companies with their need to upscale quickly or take on new projects, making use of flexible lawyers and advisors. Glenda has had vast experience in navigating clients accessing Africa through a variety of different models.

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Accor set to expand Ethiopia footprint with management agreement for new Ibis Styles hotel
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Design-Led Economy Property in Addis Ababa to grow group’s presence to five properties countrywide

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, February 13, 2020/ — Accor (Accor.com), a world-leading augmented hospitality group, is expanding its presence in Ethiopia after signing a management agreement to open a new property under its design-led economy brand, Ibis Styles.

In a move that ramps up its ambitious development plans in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Group has partnered with private conglomerate, Yuluch Elyano Trading plc, to operate the 150-key Ibis Styles Addis Ababa, its fifth upcoming property in the capital, with a scheduled opening date of 2023.

Conveniently situated in a secluded location just off the city’s main thoroughfare, Bole Road, 1km from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and close to corporate institutions and embassies, the property will appeal to regional and international business travellers seeking stylish and affordable accommodation.

“Our partnership with Yuluch Elyano Trading provides Accor with an exciting opportunity to showcase the Ibis Styles brand in a market where demand for innovative budget hospitality concepts is being driven by the continent’s booming domestic travel sector,” said Mark Willis, CEO Middle East & Africa for Accor.

“The deal also marks another important step in our African development strategy, growing our Ethiopia pipeline to five properties strong, across a diverse range of targeted brands and strengthening our presence in a region we have earmarked for accelerated expansion.”

Mr. Goitom Girmay, Major Shareholder and CEO, Yuluch Elyano Trading plc, said: “Ethiopia is Africa’s fastest-growing economy, fuelled by significant investments in infrastructure and manufacturing, and visitor numbers to the capital are surging. This calls for high-quality accommodation operated by world-leading hospitality groups and our agreement with Accor to deliver a cutting-edge economy hotel brand in the dynamic capital aims to meet this market need.”

Ibis Styles Addis Ababa will offer 150 rooms, each featuring the brand’s signature Sweet BedTM by ibis concept, which is unrivalled in the economy sector, as well as an all-day dining venue, fitness centre and gym, meeting space options and a car park.

It is expected to become a destination for travellers and families who appreciate trendy boutique-style accommodation with creative and culturally relevant design, modern technology and home comforts. 

The hotel will join Accor’s growing pipeline of properties in Addis Ababa under brands including MGallery, Mercure, Pullman and Mövenpick.

Ibis Styles has already proven a popular concept in other fast-growing African markets including Nairobi in Kenya and Accra in Ghana, with a total of seven properties in operation in the Middle East and Africa and seven more in the pipeline.

Accor’s Africa portfolio currently comprises 159 properties (25,389 keys) with another 58 hotels (13,413 keys) in its development pipeline, growing its presence to 25 diverse brands.

About Accor:
Accor (Accor.com) is a world-leading augmented hospitality group offering unique experiences in 4,900 hotels and residences across 110 countries. The Group has been acquiring hospitality expertise for more than 50 years, resulting in an unrivalled portfolio of brands, from luxury to economy, supported by one of the most attractive loyalty programs in the world.

Beyond accommodation, Accor enables new ways to live, work, and play, by blending food and beverage with nightlife, wellbeing, and co-working. It also offers digital solutions that maximize distribution, optimize hotel operations and enhance the customer experience.

Accor is deeply committed to sustainable value creation and plays an active role in giving back to planet and community via its Planet 21 – Acting Here program and the Accor Solidarity endowment fund, which gives disadvantaged groups access to employment through professional training.

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SES’s and Gilat Telecom’s Resilient Network restores connectivity in Africa
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Satellite-based connectivity services provided jointly by the long-term partners enabled internet in the Democratic Republic of Congo to be up and running within just four days from a submarine cable outage

Photo Taken In Democratic Republic Of The Congo, Matadi

LUXEMBOURG CITY, Luxembourg, February 10, 2020/ — High-performance internet connectivity was restored in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) within just four days after the West Africa Cable System (WACS) undersea cable cut, thanks to the combined efforts of Gilat Telecom (Gilat.net) and SES (SES.com), the companies announced today.

The recent cable cuts affected much of Sub-Saharan Africa, causing internet outages and slow speeds. The swift restoration to bring the service back to Gilat Telecom’s DRC customers was achieved by leveraging unparalleled high-throughput, low-latency O3b Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) satellite capabilities.

“High-throughput, low-latency satellite solutions and applications enabled by SES have proved their reliability and performance, drastically changing the connectivity landscape in the DRC over the past years. It has now been the fifth consecutive year that we are delivering highly reliable seamless services thanks to MEO, reaching underserved and unserved locations where fibre cannot be deployed or has been compromised. This has been revolutionary for the MNOs we serve, who are now able to deploy services that require low latency,” said Dan Zajicek, CEO of Gilat Telecom.

An O3b MEO system customer of SES since 2014, and the first in Africa, Gilat Telecom recently expanded its partnership with SES to provide more bandwidth to rural areas and extend services beyond Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, reaching unserved or underserved Kisangani, Mbuji-Mayi and Bunia, to customers such as Orange DRC. Under the new agreement, Gilat Telecom is using multiple Gbps of bandwidth on the O3b system and is now also adding services via SES’s Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) satellites. The expanded capabilities enabled by SES’s multi-orbit fleet will allow Gilat Telecom to deploy 4G/LTE networks and support cloud computing services, even in the remotest areas of the DRC.

“With the extension of MEO and addition of the GEO-enabled capability, we can now achieve even more, serving the exponentially growing demand in more locations, by seamlessly integrating terrestrial and satellite technologies that effectively complement each other,” Zajicek said.

“Supporting Gilat Telecom’s efforts in extending high-performance connectivity throughout the DRC has been a great privilege for us, and we are proud to have been enabling this transformational endeavour with O3b’s fibre-like connectivity solutions over the past years,” said Carole Kamaitha, Vice President, Sales Africa at SES Networks. “We cannot be more excited to see our longstanding partner and early adopter of O3b MEO growing, while unlocking more and more opportunities for MNOs in the DRC, this time taking advantage of the multi-orbit network that combines the benefits of MEO low-latency with the incredible reach of GEO.”

About SES:
SES (SES.com) has a bold vision to deliver amazing experiences everywhere on earth by distributing the highest quality video content and providing seamless connectivity around the world. As the leader in global content connectivity solutions, SES operates the world’s only multi-orbit constellation of satellites with the unique combination of global coverage and high performance, including the commercially-proven, low-latency Medium Earth Orbit O3b system. By leveraging a vast and intelligent, cloud-enabled network, SES is able to deliver high-quality connectivity solutions anywhere on land, at sea or in the air, and is a trusted partner to the world’s leading telecommunications companies, mobile network operators, governments, connectivity and cloud service providers, broadcasters, video platform operators and content owners. SES’s video network carries over 8,300 channels and has an unparalleled reach of over 355 million households, delivering managed media services for both linear and non-linear content. The company is listed on Paris and Luxembourg stock exchanges (Ticker: SESG). Further information is available at: www.SES.com.

About Gilat Telecom:
Gilat Telecom (Gilat.net) offers satellite and fiber-based connectivity solutions, delivering high quality broadband communication to MNOs, telcos, ISPs, governments, enterprise customers, and organizations in Africa, Asia and South America.

With successful deployments experience globally, the company is known for providing advanced communication infrastructures, as well as for being customer centric, with superior technical support and “out of the box” solutions, that can reach the most remote locations on the planet.

As a technology-driven company, Gilat Telecom utilizes innovative technologies to keep providing its customers with the most cost-effective and advanced connectivity solutions, tailored to each specific customer needs.

Leveraging its extensive knowledge and experience, Gilat Telecom has developed the SD-WAN MAX solution, AI and machine-learning algorithms, with smart traffic management, delivering its customers maximum stability and bandwidth capacity.

*SOURCE SES

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In Cameroon, new seed varieties help cocoa crops bloom and farmers thrive
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

Antoine Mani Tonye sinks his thumb into the red soil to gauge how deep to plant the next seedling. The Cameroonian cocoa farmer has seen healthy yields and an improvement in his income since he began planting a locally adapted seed variety developed in a laboratory in the capital Yaounde.

“In its first year, my nursery has been the best. This should get me out of poverty,” said Tonye, who farms his own plot in the village of Azanzoa on the outskirts of Mbalmayo in central Cameroon.

“For now, I am doing better, I don’t beg, I do my best, I manage to get by on my own. Farming is going to become my passion.”

There are 600,000 cocoa farmers across Cameroon, and it is a vital sector for rural communities. But cocoa is a fragile crop with yields that tend to decrease over time, putting farmers’ livelihoods at risk. That’s why the African Development Bank has committed to provide funding to IRAD, the Institute of Agriculture Research for Development, where research is focused on creating adapted seed varieties.

The second-generation seed varieties developed by IRAD allow for an average yield of 2 tons per hectare, compared to the first generation developed in the 1970s and 1980s that produced around 1 ton per hectare.

“There has been great progress. In less than two decades, we have been able to double the yield potential of the varieties that farmers now use,” said Bruno Efombagen, an IRAD researcher in Yaounde.

Demand for the higher-yielding seeds has outstripped supply. To solve this problem, the African Development Bank has supported IRAD in its efforts to make the seeds accessible to a greater number of farmers. Across the country, IRAD is setting up more and more seed production fields.

A new seed variety called “Brazilian cacao” is now widely in use, providing far better yields to Cameroonian farmers.

“Before, our parents used to grow a variety called “tout-venant”, but today, thanks to advances in research, we have access to improved seeds,” said Samba MViena, Chairman of AKOM-COOP-CA, a cooperative of farmers.  “You get the first yields 18 months after planting them, with flowers and a few pods on some stems. After two or two-and-a-half years, or more precisely three years, you can already get a perfect crop.”

The higher-quality cocoa seed varieties have helped to stem the migration of young people from rural villages to seek work in the city. MViena’s cooperative has strong youth representation, with 62 young people in the group.

“Their decision to engage in the cacao sector stems from the availability of improved seeds, because these seeds allow for quick and bountiful harvests,” he said.

Brazilian cacao not only provides far better yields to Cameroonian farmers, it benefits everyone in the production chain. Trader Yannick Fosso buys cocoa from across the region and sells it in Cameroon’s economic capital, Douala.

“The season runs from August to January. I make all my year’s earnings during those six months,” he explained. “When you look at the plants, you can see that Brazilian cacao is a better variety than the ones that our parents used to grow. Its colour is much brighter; the pods never get black, they are entirely red. So when you brew it, it comes out with a very good colour and taste.”

Cocoa is Cameroon’s second export crop. The majority of the Central African nation’s annual output of about 220,000 tons is shipped overseas from Douala’s Atlantic port.

For Fosso, part of the pride he takes in his work is in Cameroon’s improving reputation as a cocoa exporter. “Cacao is a central part of the lives of the people here,” he said. “It’s rewarding to buy something that is eaten across the world.”

*Source AFDB

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On the Kenya-Tanzania border, the African Development Bank eases trade with One Stop Border Post
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

On the border between Tanzania and Kenya sits Namanga, a town of 16,000 residents where cross-border trade has thrived thanks to investment in a One Stop Border Post (OSBP).

In 2007, the African Development Bank provided financing of $108 million to Kenya and $77 million to Tanzania with the objective of easing the flow of people and goods across the East African frontier through road improvements and the construction of a OSBP.

The facility, located between Tanzania’s Longido District and Kenya’s Kajiado County, has contributed to improving trade and tourism on both sides of the border and is aligned to one of  the Bank’s “High 5” strategic priorities: Integrating Africa.

Naftali Elhudi Mzota, a bus driver who works for Impala Shuttles in Kenya, has been using the border crossing for 23 years.

“Previously, with the two borders, you had to go through customs and immigration in Tanzania, and then back to Kenya. It could take up to two hours,” he explained.

Now people from Tanzania and Kenya are able to move back and forth across the border much more quickly – a boost to the town of Namanga which derives much of its income from tourism.

Many tourists pass through this border crossing to visit the nearby Amboseli National Park. In the past, access was difficult, but with the financial support from the African Development Bank, up to 242 km of roads around the border town have now been upgraded.

“Before, the road was full of potholes,” Mzota recalled. “You couldn’t make the round trip to Nairobi and back in one day. Having a new road has changed everything.”

Edward Wilson Lyimo has owned a hotel for more than 20 years in Namanga, on the Tanzanian side of the border: “Thanks to this new border, road traffic has increased, businesses have become profitable. This border crossing has been very beneficial to us, we can now trade in both countries,” he said.

The OSBP project aimed to speed up movement across the border and facilitate trade, said Kenneth Bagamuhunda, Director General of Customs and Trade of the East African Community.

“It was a challenge, he acknowledged. “Now it takes about 30 minutes to cross the border. We have a very good relationship with the African Development Bank. They have supported us in the renovation of the infrastructure. Today, we have 10 single-stop border crossings. We are going to duplicate this initiative on other borders, such as the border with Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.”

Sarah Keiya, who has been selling souvenirs to tourists for 10 years in Namanga, has benefited from the new border arrangements.

“Before, we didn’t make good money,” she said. “We were afraid to move around, we were afraid to approach tourists. Now we see them as friends. They are our family and they buy products from us. Since the border post was built, we are respected. We manage to finance our children’s education.”

The single-stop crossing at Namanga has been used to develop infrastructure around the border and improve conditions for the movement of people and goods – a model that will be replicated elsewhere. “This was one of our key objectives,” said Kenneth Ogoga, Kenya’s immigration officer.

*Source AFDB

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African Development Bank Rebuts World Bank President’s comments on Africa’s debt profile
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

For the record, the African Development Bank maintains a very high global standard of transparency says AFDB President Akinwumi  Adesina
For the record, the African Development Bank maintains a very high global standard of transparency says AFDB President Akinwumi Adesina

In several news reports, World Bank President David Malpass was recently quoted as saying some Multilateral Development Banks, including the African Development Bank, have a tendency to lend too quickly and in the process, add to the continent’s debt problems.

This statement is inaccurate and not fact based. It impugns the integrity of the African Development Bank, undermines our governance systems, and incorrectly insinuates that we operate under different standards from the World Bank. The very notion goes against the spirit of multilateralism and our collaborative work.

For the record, the African Development Bank maintains a very high global standard of transparency. In the 2018 Publish What You Fund report, our institution was ranked the 4th most transparent institution, globally.

The African Development Bank provides a strong governance program for our regional member countries that focuses on public financial management, better and transparent natural resources management, sustainable and transparent debt management and domestic resource mobilization. We have spearheaded the issuance of local currency financing to several countries to mitigate the impacts of foreign exchange risks, while supporting countries to improve tax collection and tax administration, and leveraging pension funds and sovereign wealth funds to direct more monies into financing development programs, especially infrastructure.

The African Development Bank’s Africa Legal Support Facility (ALSF) supports countries to negotiate terms of their royalties and taxes to international companies, and terms of their non-concessional loans to some bilateral financiers. We have been highly successful in doing so.

These are the facts:

The World Bank, with a more substantial balance sheet, has significantly larger operations in Africa than the African Development Bank. The World Bank’s operations approved for Africa in the 2018 fiscal year amounted to US $20.2 billion, compared to US $10.1 billion by the African Development Bank.

With regard to Nigeria and South Africa, the World Bank’s outstanding loans for the 2018 fiscal year to both countries stood at US $8.3 billion and US $2.4 billion, respectively. In contrast, the outstanding amounts for the African Development Bank Group to Nigeria and South Africa were US $2.1 billion and US $2.0 billion, respectively, for the same fiscal year.

With reference to the countries described as “heavily indebted,” our Bank recognizes and closely monitors the upward debt trend. However, there is no systemic risk of debt distress.

According to the 2020 African Economic Outlook, at the end of June 2019, total public debt in Nigeria amounted to $83.9 billion, 14.6% higher than the year before. That debt represented 20.1% of GDP, up from 17.5% in 2018. Of the total public debt, domestic public debt amounted to $56.7 billion while external public debt was $27.2 billion (representing 32.4% of total public debt). South Africa’s national government debt was estimated at 55.6% of GDP in 2019, up from 52.7% in 2018. South Africa raises most of its funding domestically, with external public debt accounting for only 6.3% of the country’s GDP.

Development Banks continue to play critical roles in development efforts and in the aspirations of developing countries, most especially in Africa.

Given substantial financing needs on the African continent, the development assistance of the African Development Bank, the World Bank and other development partners remain vitally important, with increasing calls for such institutions to do even more.

The lending, policy, and advisory services of these development institutions in their respective regions are often coordinated and provide substantially better value-for-money to developing nations, compared to other sources of financing. As a result of the African Development Bank’s AAA-rated status, we source funding on highly competitive terms and pass on favorable terms to our regional member countries. Combined with other measures to ensure funds are used for intended purposes, it helps regional member countries finance debt and development in the most responsible and sustainable way.

With regard to the need for better lending coordination and the maintenance of high standards of transparency, the African Development Bank coordinates lending activities, especially its public sector policy-based loans, closely with sister International Financial Institutions (notably the World Bank and the IMF). This includes reliance on the IMF and World Bank’s Debt Sustainability Analyses (DSA) to determine the composition of our financial assistance to low-income countries; and joint institutional approaches for addressing debt vulnerabilities in the African Development Fund (ADF) and International Development Association (IDA) countries.

In addition, country economists of the African Development Bank fully participate in regional and country level IMF Article 4 missions. Contrary to suggestions, these are just a few concrete examples of historic and ongoing coordination between sister Multilateral Development Banks, IFIs, and development partners. The African Development Bank is committed to the development of the African continent. It has a vested interest in closely monitoring debt drivers and trends in African countries as it supports them in their efforts to improve the lives of the people of Africa.

We are of the view that the World Bank could have explored other available platforms to discuss debt concerns among Multilateral Development Banks. The general statement by the President of the World Bank Group insinuating that the African Development Bank contributes to Africa’s debt problem and that it has lower standards of lending is simply put: misleading and inaccurate.


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Government of Democratic Republic of the Congo and General Electric Sign Infrastructure Agreement
February 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
George Njenga, CEO for GE Renewable Energy (Grid & Hydro) SSA with DRC’s Minister of Hydraulic Resources and Electricity, Hon. Eustache Muhanzi Mubembe and the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Eteni Longondo during the signing ceremony
George Njenga, CEO for GE Renewable Energy (Grid & Hydro) SSA with DRC’s Minister of Hydraulic Resources and Electricity, Hon. Eustache Muhanzi Mubembe and the Minister of Health, Hon. Dr Eteni Longondo during the signing ceremony
The 3-year MoU seeks to accelerate the economic and social development of the country

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 13, 2020/ — The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and General Electric (NYSE: GE) (www.GE.com) have announced signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in infrastructure projects enabling the increase in the supply of electric energy and health modernization programs. The 3-year MoU seeks to accelerate the economic and social development of the country.

Under the MoU, GE will work with the government to explore power solutions that will increase electricity to the country’s grid to benefit thousands of households. GE will also work with the ministry of health for the modernization of the country’s health system at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels as well as the infrastructures and equipment for maternal and child health, cardiology, and oncology. The partnership will also focus on training and capacity building of local talent for the sustainability of the initiatives.

Speaking about the signing, GE Africa President and CEO Mr. Farid Fezoua said, “Partnership with governments and local companies form a very important part of GE’s growth in Africa, and  we are honoured today to collaborate with the government of the DRC as a key strategic partner for the country’s long-term development agenda. This gives us the opportunity to deliver innovative solutions to meet the unmet demand for the millions of citizens without electricity and those without access to quality healthcare.”

GE is currently involved in the rehabilitation of Inga IIB power plant and of Nseke Power Plant in the DRC and has successfully implemented renovation projects with the 1st interventional Cardiology and CT Scanner with 128 systems installed at the HJ Hospital and new imaging center of Camp Kokolo. In the past, GE Healthcare also led the installation of the Scanner 16 slices at Panzi Hospital, giving thousands of citizens access to the latest diagnostic solutions. 

GE first started operating in Sub-Saharan Africa over 120 years ago and in 2011 renewed its focus to meet Africa’s current and future needs. The company has signed MOUs with the Governments of several countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Angola, Ghana and now the DRC to develop infrastructure projects, including sustainable energy solutions as well as improving access to quality healthcare. These MOUs involve significant investments in creating jobs and human capital development.

GE (www.GE.com) drives the world forward by tackling its biggest challenges: Energy, health, transportation—the essentials of modern life. By combining world class engineering with software and analytics, GE helps the world work more efficiently, reliably, and safely. For more than 125 years, GE has invented the future of industry, and today it leads new paradigms in additive manufacturing, materials science, and data analytics. GE people are global, diverse and dedicated, operating with the highest integrity and passion to fulfill GE’s mission and deliver for our customers.

*SOURCE GE
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