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April 17, 2021 | 0 Comments

   By Chief Charles A. Taku

Erudite Lawyer Charles Taku is a leading crusader for justice across Africa today

On April 14, day, 40 years ago, the chain of systemic prejudice and cultural genocide broke loose and I was authorized to do pupillage to practice law in the Chambers of  the legendary lawyer and politician Hon B.T.B Foretia in Victoria. I was the first in several regards.  The most important  was being  a chain breaker, a role I have played with determination, faith, humility and fortitude. I am grateful to God for the journey I have travelled so far.  Today, in this occasion, I faithfully recommit my determination to serve God, the Merciful, the Liberator, the Truth, the Life, the Light  and  the Saviour with all the strength in me.

This event in my life came with a mission and a commission to  defend, protect, free  and give  strength to the weak, the poor and the oppressed. I have been faithful to the mission and the commission. This  is a mission and a commission of honour.  These are the very essence of life which is  humanity at its best and closer to God.  God, we know, breathed the spirit of life so that we may live and serve him in humility and in faith. Yes, in humility and faith; for these are the true attributes of greatness.

 Each time, that  I reflect on these attributes, I remember the emphatic gestures with which my secondary teacher explained to us, the parable of the rich fool.   Despite the reality of this parable,  the butchery of the innocent lives of the weak, the poor and the oppressed; the thievery by the rich from the poor, primitive accumulation of wealth and the genocide of innocent people to satisfy the power ambition of a few, continue unabated.  I dedicated these 40 years leading the fight to protect the majority poor, the weak and oppressed victims from these  criminal kingpins; leaving the ultimate victory to God.

I have dedicated more than two decades of this eventful career in  international practice in many  international courts and tribunals  which were established by the international community to fight impunity. During this time, I visited battlefields in different countries and witnessed unimaginable human suffering.  I went in  as a lawyer but was blessed with the human value of sharing the pain and suffering of persons at risk and in dire need. This provided me an opportunity to share the values of love and sharing which were implanted in me by my  mother by contributing to give back to the suffering people,  the  true essence of humanity which they  deserve. I have found the joy in recognizing in these children, women and men, dead or alive  through my humanitarian engagements and the several trials in which I have participated, the face of humanity to which we are all connected.

This occasion falls in the month of April, which is the mythical month of the Saints in my family, from Fontem Asonganyi and his first son Asabanchi Fontem, Fontem Defang, Mama Helen Atabong Asaba Fontem, Fontem Njifua and several others too many to name. This  occasion 40 years ago, was not an innocent co-incidence. It occurred because it is the month when these Saints pay greater attention and are united in prayers and supplication to the living God for me, the family they left behind and all persons world-wide who are engaged in the worthy mission and commission in which I am engaged.  I am grateful to  them and their fighting spirits which live on through their blood which is flowing in my living veins. The history books and the museums in imperial Germany kept  records of the bravery of Fontem Asonganyi which have prolonged the battle for freedom and justice long enough for me to come on board to lead a world-wide crusade for the restitution of all the works of art which were looted during the German incursion more than a century ago.  These arts are  today in museums in Germany, USA, France and the Netherlands.  The blessing of these 40 years, helped me to focus my attention on the search for these arts and their lost cultural significance in our lives and in our time.

The 40 years provided me an opportunity to train and mentor young colleagues from all legal cultures, races from all the continents who are today, leading lawyers in their respective countries and in international practice. We remain professional connected. This closeness is what the beauty of this profession is about.  I am fascinated by the sense of enquiry, curiosity and mental alertness of my interns. I call them the offspring of modern technology because of the remarkable contributions they have brought to workplace during these changing times.  Many of them  are today, successful academics and lawyers in many parts of the world. 

During this period, my peers, elected me as member of the Cameroon Bar Council for many years; President of the International Criminal Court Bar Association and a member for life of  the governing council of the African Bar Association.  I am grateful to my colleagues in different courts and tribunals for giving me an opportunity to serve and to contribute to the enthronement of the culture and the cause of the rule of law.  I am particularly grateful to the distinguished lawyers of Taku Chambers for their professionalism and the outstanding successes they continue to record in courtrooms  and professional environments around the world.  The most distinguished Hon B.T.B Foretia was an astounding lawyer and a fearless crusader for justice. He put me on my feet during my first appearance with him in Court. From thence, I have not relented these forty years.

Two decades of Chief Taku’s eventful career have been in international practice in many international courts and tribunals

I am grateful to the women and men  with whom I have been engaged in all the aspects of the administration of justice and the struggle for a just, free and peaceful  world. Although we play different roles we are united in a common objective, in which  justice is the sole winner.I am grateful to my family and the entire Taku and Fontem families.  Mbe Taku was a hero and a warrior while his wife Mama Helen Atabong Asaba Fontem was a distinguished community leader, education advocate, politician, development agent, philanthropist and an extraordinary crusader for justice.  My wife Antonia, my children Kelvin, Barbara, Ngwing and Atabong are my best friends of all times.  Above all, there is a time in one’s life when a sister is everything in one’s life. My sister Bibiana Taku was a class and bench mate, a friend and a manifestation of the endless love of God to me and humanity. Miss Anne Bustarret 

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World’s Longest Crude oil pipeline: A Significant Investment for Uganda, Tanzania and Neighbours – AEC’s NJ Ayuk
April 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

NJ Ayuk, Chairman of the African Energy Chamber speaks to South African Broadcaster, SABC.

The planned East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), with a length of 1,440 kilometres (898 miles), will run from Western Uganda to Tanzania’s Indian Ocean seaport of Tanga. The oil pipeline worth $3.5 billion is expected to be completed within three years.

The two countries signed the deal following the first foreign trip for Tanzania’s President, Samia Suluhu Hassan. In March, Uganda suspended the signing of the deal following the death of then Tanzanian President John Pombe Magufuli.

The agreement between Tanzania and Uganda is expected to unlock billions of dollars into the economies of both countries. Uganda discovered crude reserves in the Albertine rift basin in the west of the country near the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2006.

“It is an investment not just for Tanzania or Uganda but for the Region. There have been discussions happening about this for a decade and this is a decade of negotiation finally closing,” NJ Ayuk, Chairman of the African Energy Chamber told South African Broadcaster SABC.

“It is beyond us just having a deal but looking at what this will mean for jobs, local opportunities that will build growth from bottom up. We just have to manage it well and ensure that the hopes and aspirations of Tanzanians, Ugandans and the whole of the East African community should not be held back by a fail promise of oil and this is critical for this.”

Looking at the benefits that will be brought about by this deal the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber says local businesses and people have to start now. “If you do not have an opportunity you have to start looking for it now. Do not wait till the pipelines kick in; start looking at the possibilities of getting engaged (in terms of jobs). We should not sit at home and wait for that.”

“We need policies that back it. At the Camber we have engaged with both Presidents and the companies as well and got guarantees that say they are going to ensure that policies does back local content empowerment and also back inter-Africa trade so that Africans can inspire other Africans while working on this,” NJ Ayuk, CEO of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African legal and advisory conglomerate with its headquarters in South Africa and offices in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon and Mauritius added.

Often with oil companies who have been engaged on the continent, the tendencies are for them to export raw materials while the continent has to import the finished products. The Chairman of the African Energy Chamber says this deal is going to be different as part of the component is building a refinery in the country and it will create a space to serve entire East Africa. Parts of the petroleum resources will be refined and distributed to Uganda, Tanzania and the entire East Africa region as most of them at the moment are importing refined products out of UAE and Saudi Arabia.

“No longer should we be thinking about sending everything to Europe, America and Asia but we should be looking at domestication because our markets that are growing and growing vastly need these resources for us to be able to industrialize and manufacture and create jobs at home,” NJ Ayuk said.

The pipeline has met resistance from environmentalists who argue it will threaten ecologically sensitive areas along its route, including wildlife reserves and water catchment areas for Lake Victoria. To some NGOs, the project is a threat to local communities, water supplies, and biodiversity in Uganda, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya.

And to NJ Ayuk we have to pay so much to the environment and be good stewards so we leave it much better than it was met. “Various measures have been put in place to cater for the environment by both countries. The communities need to be involved because if you do not you will face problems like in Nigeria (the Niger Delta region with vandalism, the pipeline explosion and others).”

NJ Ayuk, is the CEO of Centurion Law Group, a pan-African legal and advisory conglomerate with its headquarters in South Africa and offices in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon and Mauritius

He added: “The environment is a sensitive thing; the environment Commissions of both countries have set up monitoring and evaluations that will go throughout the process. We must encourage them to keep those checks and balances but also invite CSOs as part of the process. You cannot ignore them because they might have ideas that could be helpful and ensure we are not building something that ends up destroying the environment. After all, at the end, it becomes a loss to everyone.”

Extraction will begin this 2021 and will take place at two oil fields: the Kingfisher field, which is operated by China National Offshore Oil Corporation Ltd (CNOOC), and the Tilenga field, operated by Total S.A.

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Nigeria: I’m Alive, says former Army PR Chief Sani Usman.
April 16, 2021 | 0 Comments
Brig. Gen. Sani Kukasheka Usman (rtd) has clarified the confusing story of his rumoured death

Former Director General, Department of Public Relations of the Nigerian Army and CEO Mahangi  Communications Services, Brig. Gen. Sani Kukasheka Usman (rtd) has clarified the confusing story of his rumoured death.

Usman who made the clarification in a press statement said his photograph was used on a blog site which published the news of the demise of former Military Administrator of Ondo and old Oyo States, Late Colonel Ahmed Usman (rtd).
According to the statement titled “I’m Alive” Usman said he had reached out to the blog site for correction.

“My attention has been drawn by friends and some well-meaning Nigerians about my rumoured death. The confusion arose from precious EZE’S BLOG’s use of my photograph in uniform with the rank of a Colonel, instead of that of late Colonel Ahmed Usman (rtd), the former Military Administrator of old Oyo State, who died earlier today at the age of 70, in an obituary announcement by Kogi State Governor.  

“Although I have reached out to the medium to correct the mistake, I wish to inform my friends and well-wishers that I am alive. I also want to thank them most profoundly for the kind love and concern. Thank you so much and God bless” said Usman

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Malawi: Businessman Thom Mpinganjira has case to answer for attempted judge bribery
April 15, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Joseph Dumbula

Malawian business heavyweight Thom Mpinganjira has been found with a case to answer for allegedly attempting to bribe five judges

Malawian business heavyweight Thom Mpinganjira has been found with a case to answer for allegedly attempting to bribe five judges that heard the presidential election case.

Mpinganjira who owns one of the Southern African nation’s elite bank, FDH and other top businesses was arrested last year.

His arrest followed complaints by Chief Justice Andrew Nyirenda that some unknown people had been attempting to bribe the judges.

The judges heard the elections case in which the UTM, headed by former Malawi vice President Saulos Chilima and the country’s oldest political party, the Malawi Congress Party led by Lazarus Chakwera petitioned the court for the nullification of the results citing the irregularities that marred the poll in which Peter Mutharika was declared winner.

This was after the Constitutional Court had nullified the elections but waited for the Supreme Court to review the ruling.

Today, Judge Dorothy Degabrielle disclosed that Mpinganjira is answering six charges under the Corrupt Practices Act.
The charges are as follows:
1. Offering an advantage to a public Officer.
2. Attempting to induce a public officer to perform his or her functions corruptly in order for the five judges to rule in favour of Former President Peter Mutharika.
3. Attempting to induce a public Officer to abuse his office.
4. Offering an advantage to a public officer.
5. Attempting to induce a Public Officer to perform his duties corruptly.
6. Attempting to induce a public officer to abuse his office.

During the previous hearings, the accused pleaded not guilty and the state paraded six witnesses.

Meanwhile, the court has settled for 11 May, 2021 as in between the defense will be seeking direction on whether or not he will give evidence or exercise his right to remain silent.

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New leadership and energy sector restructuring is expected to boost energy investments into Niger
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

Newly elected President, H. E Mohamed Bazoum who took office on 02 April, has wasted no time in naming a new cabinet which is already at work

By Verner Ayukegba*

Niger has once again demarcated itself in the region by overseeing yet another peaceful and democratic transition of power. This transition, which was unanimously acclaimed globally and largely accepted by all political forces in the country, sets a strong foundation for the long-awaited inflow of investments into Niger’s promising energy sector and overall economic revival.

Newly elected President, H. E Mohamed Bazoum who took office on 02 April, has wasted no time in naming a new cabinet which is already at work. The petroleum portfolio, which is expected to become the driving force for growth in the coming decades, has been merged with the energy portfolio and entrusted to Harvard trained Sani Issoufou Mahamadou. A strong proponent of growing Niger through the development of its huge energy resources, H.E Sani Issoufou Mahamadou is expected to immediately focus on the realisation of a 2,000-km, USD 4.5 billion crude oil pipeline linking Niger’s prolific Agadem Rift Basin to the Beninese coast. The pipeline is expected to have a capacity of 90,000 barrels per day when it is completed by 2023 (est.). It will enable Niger’s daily crude production to rise from currently 20,000 barrels to 110,000 barrels per day, making Niger a key gateway to the much-touted resource rich but largely unexplored Sahel region. International Major, China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is currently the main operator and sole producer in the Agadem region. It is also the lead developer of the Niger-Benin pipeline which is expected to boost jobs and revenues throughout its construction and the operation of the pipeline.

The pipeline is also likely to trigger additional investment into exploration and drilling in Niger, which now represents a proven petroleum system. Additional recent discoveries from British independent Savannah Energy estimated to hold hundreds of millions of barrels of oil to only increase interest in Niger as one of Africa’s next oil frontiers. Savannah Energy holds several permits in the prolific Agadem Rift Basim. “We are very excited about our assets in Niger and are currently exploring a number of development options” said Yacine Wafy, Vice President for West Africa at Savannah Energy PLC. “We are also extremely encouraged by initial discussions we have had with the new administration, and look forward to a fruitful collaboration”, Mr. Wafy added.

Niger’s government is eager to attract more explorers with proven track records to take advantage of its well understood and technically low risk petroleum basins. Exploration in Niger, also comes at a significantly lower cost when compared to other frontiers globally. Minister Mahamadou has already hinted, at a review of the existing operating environment, with the promise to make improvements where needed.

Niger is also appealing to proven service companies, that will bring expertise, skills, training, technology and finance solutions to the many opportunities that the energy sector in general offers. This will lead to the development of skills amongst Niger’s youth, good paying jobs and quality employment in the sector. The people of Niger and their development must remain at the centre of the energy industry’s development. The industry must accept this and seek to build partnerships with Nigerien entrepreneurs that are mutually beneficial and ensure that a substantial amount of industry profits remain in Niger.

Another key focus of the minister is expected to be a push to increase access to power for Niger’s predominantly youthful population from currently over 16% to 80% by 2035. Of particular focus, are Niger’s rural areas which have power access levels of less than 5%. Many of the power projects envisaged, are expected to be solar mini-grids, taking advantage of Niger’s abundance of sunlight throughout the year.

Independent power projects targeted at developing Niger’s equally promising but largely underexplored mining potential also present an interesting opportunity for investors. “We have been following the developments in Niger and are extremely excited about the possibilities that the power sector offers, especially where there is a commercially viable off-taker for that power”, said Mr. Karl Rheinberger, Senior Managing Director at Frankfurt based Emerging Energy Corporation AG which specialises in investing in energy sector deals in Africa.

Affordable and reliable energy are at the core of development. Niger’s government’s ability to provide these, both to industry and to its population will determine its ability to lift vast sections of its populations out of poverty. Expected revenue from the production of hydrocarbons is also going to be key in providing much needed revenue for development.

* Senior Vice President of the African Energy Chamber. Source African Energy Chamber

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The family of the ex-US President is mourning again
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

US President Barack Obama speaks with his stepmother Kezia Obama at his swearing in ceremony as the 44th US President at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on January 20, 2009. AFP PHOTO/ TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)

The retired US President Barrack Obama has lost his stepmother Kezia Obama.

The deceased breathed her last on Tuesday night while receiving treatment at a UK hospital, said the family.

Kezia Obama was the first wife to Barack Hussein Obama Senior and the mother to Auma Obama and Malik Obama.

She has been residing in Berkshire, England, since 2011, when she was granted British citizenship.

Kezia’s demise comes barely a month since the former President lost his grandmother, Sarah Obama, who died aged 99 at a Kenyan hospital after a prolonged illness.

Obama eulogized his grandmother as a strong and hard-working person who defied all odds to contribute Obama family’s success.

“My family and I are mourning the loss of our beloved grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango Obama, affectionately known to many as “Mama Sarah” but known to us as “Dani” or Granny. Born in the first quarter of the last century, in Nyanza Province, on the shores of Lake Victoria, she had no formal schooling, and in the ways of her tribe, she was married off to a much older man while only a teen. She would spend the rest of her life in the tiny village of Alego, in a small home built of mud-and thatch brick and without electricity or indoor plumbing. There she raised eight children, tended to her goats and chickens, grew an assortment of crops, and took what the family didn’t use to sell at the local open-air market,” he said in his condolence message.

He continued, “We will miss her dearly, but celebrate with gratitude her long and remarkable life.”

Kezia died aged 81.

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Former Brazilian bishop says he had death threats from Mozambican government
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Luiz Lisboa, the former bishop of Pemba, has accused the government of Mozambique of making death threats against him.

Lisboa said he was certain it was the government, because the church was the only source of information on the war in Cabo Delgado province, and the government forbade any discussion of the issue, as “they don’t want the country to be talked about badly”.

Lisboa cited the disappearance of a community radio journalist in Cabo Delgado as evidence. Following a meeting with the Pope, he was offered a transfer to Brazil as his life was at risk.

According to Lisboa, the conflict in the northern province of Cabo Delgado is due to “resources, multinationals and wars”, adding that it was not a religious war but an economic one to control the natural resources in the region, such as gas, gold and rubies.

Lisboa said that the government had neglected the local population and was slow to react to calls for action when warned about groups disrespecting local religious leaders.

The relationship between the multinationals and the region was not good, he added, as they did not follow the law, for example on consulting with the local population, and they caused discontent by expelling people from their land.

In February, the Pope transferred Lisboa from Pemba to a new role as bishop of a diocese in Brazil, and granted him the title of Archbishop. Dom Lisboa has been a prominent voice highlighting the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Cabo Delgado.


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Junior Doctors in Sierra Leone go on strike
April 14, 2021 | 1 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Dr. Catherine Jackson- Cole

Junior Doctors Association  in Sierra Leone ( JUDASIL) have started a nation-wide strike action following an assault on one of its members, a female medical doctor, Dr. Catherine Jackson- Cole working at the country’s main referral hospital –Connaught Hospital adding that they demand an immediate resignation of the Chief Medical Officer , the permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health including the deputy of Minister of  Health and Sanitation 1 as their members don’t feel safe and confident working with authorities who violate the fundamental human rights of  its people.

According to the release, the junior doctors will be laying down their tools with immediate effect, until appropriate action is taken about the assault and the working environment; the cleaning at Connaught Hospital, the issue of water supply at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital is improved.

“In the early hours of today, 13th April 2021, the executive of Junior doctors’ associations of Sierra Leone was informed about an unfortunate situation at Connaught Hospital where one of its female members was physically assaulted by the permanent Secretary (PS) the chief Medical Officer (CMO) and the deputy Minister of 1 (DM1) of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS),’’ the release reads.

According to the junior doctors they saw the assault on one of its member as frustrating and show the continuous disrespect by the officials at the Ministry of Health and Sanitation towards them as medical practitioners across the nation.

Dr. Jackson Cole has been recently vocal highlighting some of the challenges at the country biggest and largest referral hospital including the state owned children’s hospital, the Princess Christian Maternity Hospital through her twitter account which has been trending on different social media platforms including whatsApp drawing the attention of the Bio-led government to take action over the poor system delivery, the lack of infrastructure in the health sector.

“Walking through Connaught corridors and through ward 1 and 3 was I have patients I am shocked that the problem with the mounting filth has been resolved. I am ashamed to work here. No cleaners around because they haven’t been paid,’’ she wrote on her twitter feeds on 12th April 2021.

“The JUDASIL executive and its membership are following the matter keenly. It is worth noting that the said assaulted member has been very dedicated and proactive in discussing matters concerning health care in Sierra Leone. It is important for the public to that despite the deplorable condition and filth at Connaught Hospital and other facilities around the country, doctors have continued to work and serve the public with commitment. It is unfortunate that authorities that should mitigate the filth at the facility are adding salt to the injury,’’ the junior doctors added.

Meanwhile a release on Tuesday signed by the Minister of Health, Dr. Austin Demby said that the leadership of the Ministry is fully committed to resolving a labour dispute and another incident involving staff of the country’s healthy Ministry.

“The general public and staff of the Ministry are encouraged to remained calm and continue their normal business as these matters are fully investigated to a peaceful and amicable conclusion,’’ the release reads.

“The public will be informed as investigations into all incidents unfold’’

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Kenya impound 39 vehicles ferrying unsafe maize from Uganda
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya is holding 39 lorries arrested while sneaking unsafe maize in the country from Uganda, announced the Ministry of Agriculture.

The said lorries were seized at Busia border point, western Kenya.

The Ministry revealed that unscrupulous traders import the maize through the non-gazetted border points despite the government’s directive that banned maize from Tanzania and Uganda.

While issuing the ban on March 5, 2021, Kenya’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) claims the maize from her neighbors is unfit for consumption due to high levels of mycotoxins beyond the maximum required levels of 10 parts per billion.

Police have been deployed at all border points to stop the maize from entering the country.

A stern warning has been issued against the businessmen contravening the government directive, with those caught will be nabbed and charged in the court of law.

“The Ethics and Anti Corruption Commission (EACC) and DCI are on high alert to deal with any corrupt officers and/or traders at border points who shall engage in corrupt practices in exchange for maize entry approval stamps without inspection and verification,” said the Ministry of Agriculture.

The Cereal Millers Association (CMA), on Monday, April 12, said the rise in maize flour is offing due to a shortage of maize occasioned by the ban.

The CMA vehemently opposed the ban, saying there is a lack of coordination and communication between government and regulatory agencies.

“The CMA welcomes the ban on maize that contains aflatoxin levels above the 10 parts per billion (ppb) thresholds but is requesting the government to allow maize that does not breach this level be allowed to avoid a grain shortage,” noted the association.

However, through the Ministry on Tuesday, the government dismiss CMA’s claims saying there is a surplus of 11,807,681 90kg bags expected to last to the end of May 2021, with the price of maize expected to remain stable.

“Currently, the wholesale maize price is averaging Ksh. 2,600 per 90 kg bag, with the highest prices of up to Ksh. 4,392 reported in Garissa county and the lowest prices of Ksh. 1,980 in Laikipia county,” the Ministry reiterated.

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Terrorists in Mozambique are recruiting child soldiers and trafficking women, says OMR
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Insurgents are kidnapping children, turning them into child soldiers and trafficking women abroad, according to Mozambican NGO Observatory of the Rural World (OMR), based on testimonies from 23 women who escaped their kidnappers.

 It says that hundreds of women have been kidnapped and brainwashed, and that the most attractive girls then announce that they have been selected to go and study in Tanzania. In fact, they are moved through trafficking networks that extend into Europe and the Persian Gulf.

The women report seeing children doing military training, some of which have been training for two to three years. One 14-year-old boy is reported as saying that he was happy with his first murder and decapitation.

The insurgents are far more organised than what the media reports, says the study, adding that there are communications specialists, nurses and mechanics, as well as dedicated soldiers.

The insurgency is recruiting people opposed to the state, the report says, arguing that the misbehaviour of government forces and poor treatment of refugees is creating a cycle of violence.

It calls for greater international cooperation to control the border, share information and investigate the insurgents, as well as economic support for the refugees.

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Zimbabwe’s revenue authority to procure US$2m drones to monitor smuggling at ports of entry
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Minister of Finance, Prof. Mthuli Ncube

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) reports that it  will move with speed to procure drones worth an estimated US$2 million that will be used at all ports of entry to reduce smuggling and underhand deals.

 It is reported that plans are also at an advanced stage to place a CCTV camera system at border posts and strategic areas.

 “The CCTV system will be linked to a loss control command centre at ZIMRA head office that will have sight of the footage live feed from the border post. The system is expected to be procured and installed from funding in the 2021 budget,” a spokesperson said.

The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority says that it continues to enforce controls to avoid importation of restricted or prohibited goods through the Electronic Cargo Tracking system (ECTS).

In 2020, ZIMRA reported that they sealed 35,076 trucks which gave the authority USD$1,083,302.88 in sealing fees while the total revenue from fines stood at USD$216,900.00.

The system uses GPS/GPRS technology for tracking. Electronic seals are affixed to cargo containers, box trucks, soft sided trucks (flat decks with side curtains), tankers, and break bulk (goods under tarpaulin) the electronic seals send regular signals to the control room to show the location of the cargo. The electronic seal connects to the internet and the control room is manned 24 hours a day and relays information of violations to the reaction teams.

On sealing of a truck the driver is required to select a dedicated geo-fenced route to the exit port which is captured in the system. Any diversion from these routes or entry into a restricted zone constitutes a geo fence violation which attracts a US$2000.00 fine. Other violations include unauthorized opening of the seal, tampering with the SIM cards, losing and/or damaging the seal. Reaction Teams may immediately be dispatched or action taken at exit point, depending on nature of violation.

In the future, ZIMRA will submit position papers to ensure the system which was imported will be produced locally in partnership with other domestic players who will be required to benchmark against international best practice and to get international accreditation. Currently the ECTS that ZIMRA uses is from Malaysia and there is a keen interest from the Minister of Finance, Prof. Mthuli Ncube, to have ZIMRA investigate the possibility of a locally produced system.

The aim is to expand the transit economy with Zimbabwe acting as a transit hub in the region together with ensuring Zimbabwe adopts and implements the concept of dry ports in areas such as Makuti and Forbes.

The Ministry of Finance said that it will continue to support and equip ZIMRA to remain vigilant in its mandate of mobilizing financial resources for the nation. ZIMRA has been capacitated and has been supported through the provision of new vehicles for its operations. ZIMRA has recently taken delivery of 20 Landcruisers, 5 Hiace Minibuses and 5 NP300 single curb trucks the total is 30 vehicles.

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French oil company, Total, defends the indefensible as investment decision is signed for a massive climate-destroying crude oil pipeline in East Africa
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

Global – French oil company, Total, has been accused of ignoring significant human rights violations and huge environmental and climate risks as it pushed ahead yesterday with the signing of an investment decision to build the world’s longest heated crude oil pipeline through Uganda and Tanzania.

Although the signing will likely see Total, the China National Offshore Oil Corporation and the Ugandan and Tanzanian national oil companies ramp up their efforts to secure financing and insurance, the project still has many hurdles to overcome and affected communities and civil society groups are calling on financial institutions to refuse to support the project.

Instead of responding to the urgent needs of affected communities and repeated alerts from civil society, Total has focused its recent efforts on a greenwashing communication strategy. 

A week after more than 260 African and international organisations sent an open letter to 25 banks urging them not to finance the construction of the EACOP, Total issued statements on its website describing its environmental and social risk assessment and mitigation strategies for the EACOP and Tilenga oil extraction project as “rigorous” and claiming to act “responsibly and transparently” on the social and environmental issues related to the projects. 

The #StopEACOP Alliance has since examined the claims and the previously confidential reports, and is today issuing a detailed response. The statement clarifies several misleading figures Total offered on key aspects of the project, such as the number of oil wells to be drilled within Murchison Falls National Park, and the number of project-affected people for Tilenga and EACOP. Contrary to the company’s claims, more than 100,000 persons and dozens of sensitive ecosystems in Uganda and Tanzania stand to suffer the consequences of the company’s actions.

Vitally, for a corporation that seeks to position itself as somehow being a climate leader, Total chooses to ignore the massive climate risks posed by building a pipeline to transport crude oil that will generate a new source of 34.3 million metric tons of carbon emissions at the peak of its operation.

The response statement, which draws from dozens of independent assessments, NGO reports, and community petitions, clearly disproves the claim by Total’s CEO, Patrick Pouyanné, that the projects would be “carried out in an exemplary manner and create value for the people in both countries.”

These criticisms are not new: the flaws of Total’s handling of the projects have been well documented by independent experts and civil society. 

The Netherlands Commission for Environmental Assessment has previously stated that the EACOP Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) is “not fit for purpose,” while Oxfam and the International Federation for Human Rights have said that Total has failed to address a large portion of the core recommendations the NGOs made in their community-based human rights impact assessments.

The company is also facing a historical lawsuit in France for its failure to prevent human rights violations and environmental damage linked to these projects. 

#StopEACOP Alliance members reacted today to Total’s greenwashing efforts and the signing of the investment decision. 

Quotes from spokespeople

The agreements concluded   yesterday is a huge setback in the fight against climate change in which the governments and Uganda, Tanzania and Total say to be committed to. Launching oil projects and the associated construction of the pipeline at this moment where global actors are doing their best to keep all all fossil fuels in the ground is likely to serve the only interests of Total as the shareholder while sacrificing the livelihoods of millions of people in the Victoria bassin, destroying the rich and unique ecosystems and adding over 34 million tons of unnecessary CO2 emissions every single year. – Landry Ninteretse, Regional Director

Total’s decision to move forward with opening a new oil frontier in Africa is in blatant contradiction to the CEO’s attempt to depict the oil major as a climate-conscious, responsible, multi-energy company. EACOP will bring climate chaos and biodiversity loss while already causing serious human rights violations. It’s high time for financial institutions to stand up against the group’s criminal acts. We call on banks to publicly commit to stay clear from the project and investors to vote against Total’s climate strategy and the renewal of the mandate of its CEO Patrick Pouyanné the group’s AGM in May. – Lucie Pinson, Founder and Executive Director of Reclaim Finance

There is no reason for Total to engage in oil exploration and the construction of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP) because this means fuelling the destruction of the planet and worsening the already existing climate disasters in the most affected areas. There is no future in the fossil fuel industry and we cannot drink oil. We demand Total to rise up for the people and the planet. – Vanessa Nakate, Founder of the Rise Up Climate Movement

While Total claims to act ‘responsibly and transparently’, our engagements with district leaders and local communities whose land is being compulsorily acquired for the EACOP project shows otherwise. In March 2021, Total published the Resettlement Action Plan [RAP] for the EACOP project online to ostensibly foster information sharing. However, district leaders and local affected communities were unaware that the RAP exists until we informed them about it between April 6 and 8, 2021. The district leaders and communities remain unaware of the contents of the RAP. How can communities for whom the RAP is intended be among the last to know about it? The truth is that Total sought to portray itself as being transparent when the company isn’t where it matters the most, with the local affected communities. – Dickens Kamugisha, CEO of Africa Institute for Energy Governance (AFIEGO) 

There are grave concerns about the securitisation of oil activities and intimidation. Community liaison officers employed by Total follow CSOs into meetings which creates an atmosphere of fear, as communities have reported that they are intimidated by the community liaison officers. Communities are intimidated when they speak out against low or unfair assessments for their property that is being compulsorily acquired. EACOP-affected communities have also reported being forced to sign compensation assessment forms that they don’t agree with following intimidation by security agencies alongside land acquisition consultants. – Kayinga Muddu Yisito, the Network Co-ordinator for Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)

The oil companies are trying to dress up the investment decision signing ceremony, but fortunately this climate-destroying project is far from a done deal. Total and CNOOC still need to secure insurance and raise $2.5 billion in debt financing for the EACOP to move forward and they are going to struggle mightily to find enough banks and insurance providers willing to associate themselves with such a reckless project and assume its manifold risks on their books.  – David Pred, Executive Director of Inclusive Development International


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The JUA Fund: An African Initiative with a Pan African Focus
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Launched last year by African Industrialist Adam Molai,  the JUA (Sunrise in Swahili) Fund recently announced recipients of the $ 2 million to support entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises.

Bryt-Knowledge (Zimbabwe), GrowAgric (Kenya), Jirogasy (Madagascar), Powerstove Energy (Nigeria), Side (Kenya), Whispa Health (Nigeria) and Xetova (Kenya) all agreed to deals with the fund following a week-long “Kickstarter Olympics” during which they pitched their ideas to a high-profile panel of judges.

Molai, who has successfully started several enterprises across Africa and whose TRT Investments had $125 million of assets under management as of end 2019, says a desire to inspire the Continent’s entrepreneurial generation was behind the creation of the fund.

“Without entrepreneurs, economies cannot grow, and countries cannot advance. But African entrepreneurs unfortunately do not get the support they need to thrive for a myriad of reasons. Yet Africa is full of enterprising people,” says Adam Molai.

“Wherever there is adversity, there is opportunity. Africa is rife with adversity, wherever you turn business prospects are in abundance. Entrepreneurs provide solutions to societal challenges, whilst creating space for the advancement of their communities. I feel that Africa is so much more open, and it is full of so much more opportunity than you would find elsewhere. I want to do everything in my power to ensure that this potential is cultivated and unleashed,” says Adam Molai.

With a  panel of 17 judges included seasoned  Professor Benedict Oramah, President of the $20-billion Pan-African African Export-Import Bank; Dr. Amany Asfour, Chairperson of the African Business Council and Chairperson of COMESA Trade Promotions Council; Joel Nettey, the first African to be appointed President of the International Advertising Association; Brad Magrath, founder of Zoona, Zambia’s leading money transfer platform;  Anna Henry Nyimbo, founder of Cartrack Tanzania, Retriever Limited Kenya, Retriever Limited Rwanda and Neoboemi Africa amongst others, the selected entrepreneurs went through a rigorous selection process.

PAV brings you a special report on the Fund with exclusive interviews of Mr Adam Molai and the entrepreneurs selected as recipients of the inaugural JUA Fund.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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“Even if you don’t remember me, those 2.5 million children will do…”— says President Bio
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

The President who puts high Premium on Education

 By James Samba*

President Julius Maada Bio

 Despite decades of reforms in education especially school improvement initiatives, large number of pupils were still underachieving, failing or being pushed out of school. Clearly, a distinctly new approach was needed, the time for a serious government and policymakers to take a bold and comprehensive approach to education in Sierra Leone. There is no question that education is a powerful driver of change, transformation and prosperity.

 As the 2018 elections drew closer, the conversation about how to change the direction of the country gained even more prominence— focus on education and many other critical issues Sierra Leoneans were facing. During the campaigns, the New Direction Manifesto stood out, representing ideas of how to increase access to childhood education and how to make higher education more accessible and affordable, ensuring that every child in Sierra Leone has an excellent education. What an ambitious plan!!!

 It was on this manifesto that a man of dignity and valor arose to become the 3rd democratically elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, His Excellency the President Brigadier (retired) Julius Maada Bio, who postulated equity, accessibility, relevance, system-strengthening and integrity as the core of his Free Quality Education policy.

 In August 2018, the President defied his skeptics and went on to officially launch the New Direction Government’s flagship program—the Free Quality Education (FQE) – paving the way for easy access to education for over 2 million children in the country.

 “When I promised free and quality education my opponents said it was a political gimmick. But today, I have proven them wrong. In less than six months, we have shown that free education is POSSIBLE. I have always prioritized education as a means for development. As President, in order to demonstrate my commitment to education, my government has increased the budgetary allocation to education to 21 per cent of the national budget.” said President Bio at the launch of the FQE on August 20 at the Miatta Conference Hall in Freetown.

 A President, who means well for his country would invest in education in order to reinforce a society’s wealth and growth, where individuals can easily improve their own personal ambition,   productivity and outcomes. According to International Human Rights Law: “primary education shall be compulsory and free of charge whilst secondary and higher education shall be made progressively free of charge”, this is fundamental in guaranteeing everyone has access to education.

 The cornerstone of President Bio’s FQE is to increase nationwide access to quality pre-primary, primary and secondary schooling, as well as school level technical and vocational education and training. The goal is that ALL children will be able to successfully complete basic education and be prepared to move on to pursue higher education or training as appropriate for the workforce needed for national development.

 In 2020, the Government allocated Le1.4 trillion to the education sector representing 22% of the country’s annual budget. The FQE package includes: payment of tuition fees from primary to senior secondary school, provision of core text books, furniture and other learning materials including the payment of fees for all public examinations.

 Because we have a President, who understands that in many developing countries, families often cannot afford to send their children to school that was why he separated the education sector, where we now have the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE) and the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE) and appointing a young, energetic, and dynamic Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education in the person of Dr. David Moinina Sengeh.

This Minister, together with his team has been working very hard to provide sufficient supply of learning and teaching materials, providing a conducive environment for learning by constructing spacious classrooms, providing adequate text books, furniture, WASH facilities, trained and qualified teachers, increasing teachers’ salary by 30% and the recruitment of 5,000 more teachers ensuring that even the ‘hard-to reach-areas’ are not left behind. What an audacious step taken by the New Direction Government!

 Under his leadership, Dr. Sengeh has also enticed cabinet to overturn the 2010 decision by the past administration that prevented pregnant girls from attending school. The New Direction administration has replaced the discriminatory procedure instituted by the APC government with two new policies focused on the ‘Radical Inclusion’ and ‘Comprehensive Safety’ of all children in the education system irrespective of class, ethnicity, tribe, disability, location, gender, reproductive or parenting status.

Recently, in Pujehun District, the Ministry commissioned 18 new and refurbished schools in hard-to-reach places across the riverine areas. This also includes providing training and stipends for the volunteer teachers in those parts of the country that have been neglected for decades. Mohamed Kallon, a resident in Bormu, YKK Chiefdom, Pujehun District, said “At first, when I heard, the President was going to pay school fees for every child, I didn’t believe until the day I went to pay my son’s fees, and was told that it was free—I felt so relieved”.

 “Every time I wake up in the morning, I always get excited because I now know there will be hot lunch waiting for me at the school”, said Alie Conteh, a class six (6) pupil at the Holy Angels Roman Catholic Primary School, Kambia District, Tonko Limba, Yankanbor village.

 In his citizen’s engagement on FM 98.1 ‘Good Morning Salone Breakfast Program’ on Thursday 8th April, 2021, whilst speaking about his Government’s three years administration, President Julius Maada Bio noted that in order to have a happy nation, individuals and their families should be happy.

 He said that was why he took the burden of paying school fees for about 2.5 million school children in the country and that the parents of those children, who now put those school fees into other use, are quite happy because his government has taken away that burden from them.

James Samba is a Mass Communication graduate from Fourah Bay College

 “No nation can ever develop without education. The future of this nation is our children. So, we have to invest hugely in educating the children and to have a happy and progressive nation in future”, he stated.

 After his 10 or more years of effective leadership of this great country, H.E President Julius Maada Bio would be widely considered as one of the greatest Sierra Leonean President’s because of his courage and leadership in making education Free for ALL.

 So, even if you don’t remember him, Alie Conteh together with those 2.5 million children would remember him…

 They would remember him for the 103 billion Leones subsidy paid for school fees…

 They would remember him for the 69 billion Leones paid for school feeding…

 They would remember him for the 3 billion Leones paid for furniture and other school materials.

 They would remember him for the 5,000 teachers recruited…

 They would remember him for 4,334 teaching and learning materials procured…

 They would remember him for the 3,044 schools approved…

 Candidates taking NPSE, BECE, WASSCE and NVQ in government and government assisted schools will also remember him.

*James Samba is a Mass Communication graduate from Fourah Bay College. He is the Technical Assistant (TA) to the Minister of Planning and Economic Development, NAO Building, Tower Hill, Freetown.

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Kenyan, Ugandan Truck Drivers End strike, Deliver Cargo to South Sudan
April 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – Ugandan and Kenyan truck drivers have ended their strike and finally agreed to deliver cargo to South Sudan after two weeks of protests over killings of some colleagues and general insecurity.

This was after the truck drivers refused to cross into South Sudan over the killing of their colleagues (Ugandan and Kenyan truck drivers) along the major highways such as  the Juba-Nimule highway, Juba-Mundri, and Yei-Juba roads.

This was reached after two days of negotiations between Ugandan and South Sudanese security chiefs at the border.

Early this week, hundreds of trucks delivering essential commodities to Juba parked at the Elegu border post on the Ugandan side as drivers demanded assurances from the Ugandan government over safety concerns in South Sudan.

This prompted a meeting of truck drivers and security chiefs of the two countries.

After two days of discussions, the South Sudanese government agreed to provide security to all truck drivers plying the main highways linking the two countries.

The South Sudan People Defend Force  (SSPDF) said they will now station soldiers along the roads connecting Juba to Nimule, to Yei up to Kaya –to ensure safe passage for travelers and commercial goods and services after a recent spate of ambushes and killings. 

They also agreed illegal checkpoints will be removed to ease the movement of trucks along major highways in South Sudan.

Business and traders said the government should continue to provide security to truck drivers along major highway to mitigate the soaring commodity prices in the market. 

More than 10 people including foreigners were killed and three trucks were set ablaze last week. 

Since yesterday, hundreds of trucks and cargos has arrived in Juba.

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COVID-19 Vaccine, Christian Right End-time Prophecy, and Conspiracy Theory
April 11, 2021 | 2 Comments

By Primus M. Tazanu

Dr Primus M. Tazanu is an anthropologist and Senior Guest Researcher at the Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark

This article pivots around COVID-19 and its vaccine with the main point focusing on a claim by the Christian right that taking a COVID-19 vaccine may prepare your body and soul for an afterlife of eternal damnation. They believe the only way to avert everlasting doom is to refuse the vaccine. This trajectory of the Christian right anti-vaccine campaign further posits that there is a furtive plot by sinister forces behind COVID-19 vaccine to swindle human souls to Satan. Secondly, I state that these anti-vaccine campaigns that have garnered enough traction online and are cautioning the uptake of new inventions, are not new. My last argument cites examples as a way of demonstrating an anti-vaccine conspiracy theory may draw from concrete histories.

I use the term Christian right (CR) advisedly to refer to Christian fundamentalists found predominantly in Pentecostal and charismatic wings of Christianity. In relation to Africa where I draw my examples, several philosophies of the Christian right have overwhelmingly infiltrated and influenced the (Christian) religious views and practices, leading scholars to talk of an African Pentecostalite space. Concerning the present pandemic, how do we address some of these religious views that we now subsume under the general rubric of conspiracy theory? I will first flesh out the deeper meaning surrounding this belief that the vaccine alters the eternal destination of Christians and then, turn to an anthropological reading of how people respond to crises.

As children, we would, out of mischief, pull tricks on our chickens when we wished for free eggs. We touched the chickens’ fresh eggs, hoping that the hen would reject them. After observing for a while, and if we were lucky, the chicken would refuse to incubate the touched eggs. We then informed our parents about the development and they, in turn, told us to collect the rejected eggs. This trick worked only occasionally. Among the Christian right, the narrative surrounding COVID-19 vaccine runs on similar lines: God rejecting His (Christian God is male) children. Why God rejects those inoculated is because, suspects the Christian right, the vaccine transforms these individuals into new humans, unrecognizable by their creator. 

Since their bodies (and spirits) have been tampered with the vaccine, those vaccinated in turn have their bodies and spirits align more with malevolent forces; they are in Satan’s camp, so to speak. These unfortunate victims become pawns in the hands of the devil whose sole motive is to deceive, molest and torture. This sounds bleak and ominous, but you only need to turn to the bible to see where such interpretation is coming from, as some Christian rights cautiously associate the vaccine with the apocalyptic 666, the famous mark of the beast mentioned in the Revelation (13:17-18), the last book of the bible. This dreaded section of the Holy Book tells how buying and selling is reserved only to those having the mark of the beast. Push this a little further and you will reach this conclusion: you cannot succeed in conducting any transaction in the world unless you have a COVID-19 vaccine in your body. It sounds like the prophecy in the Revelation. Or does it?

A while ago, I mentioned that the Christian right cautiously associates the vaccine with eschatology for a good reason; linking the vaccine with the end times would denote what some Christians believe as rapture must have taken place. By rapture, they mean God has already sucked up his unpolluted children from the corrupt earth, suggesting being in a situation where you must take the vaccine/666 is already a post-rapture era. This is an interesting twist, a pyrrhic conundrum the CR conspiracy theory finds hard to resolve. No Christian right dare thinks the rapture has occurred. Those familiar with this version of Christianity in Africa would confirm that they always see themselves as the pure, the elect, and chosen children of God. Anyone, including non-fundamentalist Christians, not abiding by their dogma easily falls into the category of the infidel, those the Christian right speculates would not make heaven. To live in a period they interpret as post-apocalyptic is to admit that they share that world with the rejected, those that were left behind after the rapture.

For the Christian right, it is never a matter of doubt if they are the privileged children of God. They arrogate their proximity to God to set standards on what they consider as rightful Christian discourse. This is seen in the ways in which they – consciously or unconsciously – intimidate lukewarm Christians and non-Christians that they (CR) have direct access to God. We only need to turn to social media to understand what I am saying here. These media platforms are awash with countless god-told-me prophecies and Christian right anti-vaccine campaigners habitually draw their energies from the god-told-me narrative to place a curse on the vaccine and the forces behind it. Come to think of the god-told-me doctored and graphic images, the deepfake, the videos, text, and voiceovers that urge Christians to fight back at the evil forces promoting the vaccine technology. This attempt at saving their communities, admittedly, draws on supposedly personal revelations from God. And since the messages are delivered to them personally – usually in dreams – it is convenient for anyone to invoke God to convey divine anti-vaccine missives, presenting the jab as a temptation, as one of the many spiritual objects understandable in these binaries: good/bad, benevolence/malevolence, heaven/hell, God/Satan, pure/polluted, etc. Because satisfactory answers in relation to COVID-19 are sometimes hard to come by, added to the speed at which unverified information circulates online, what the Christian right is doing is simply asking questions and casting doubts in the minds of people. How the coronavirus spreads, whom it kills the most, the speed with which the COVID-19 vaccine was developed, the manufacturers’ concurrent announcement (collusion?) of the vaccine roll-out, the paranoia of the lockdown, further lend a speculative substrate on which their conspiracy theory thrives.

One must admit that Christian right COVID-19 conspiracy theory follows a consistent trend of their suspicions of inventions. For example, even as they are reputed as avid users of new media technologies, the Christian right has, at times, had this struggle to accept technologies from the onset. Not long ago, they suspected personal media identities such the mobile phone numbers, Facebook, and email accounts introduced users to an evil online world. In my research on mediated Pentecostalism, I have heard people testify that Facebook and chat rooms initiated them into a demonic world of promiscuity and unquenchable sexual desires. Perhaps, this is just an addiction to sex, but beaming a Christian ray on their experience lends it a necessary mystical dread, allowing the pastors to intervene as expert exorcists. Anyone watching the Pentecostal scene in Africa quickly realizes that these exorcisms are instantly mediated (and shared) on social media platforms. In fact, take away social media, the smartphone and TV from the pastors and that would, undeniably, be almost the end of their world.

From the online material shared by, and about the pastors, we easily notice that these leaders have developed a personality cult. We get to understand they have the supernatural powers to see, hear, perceive, feel, etc. As mentioned before, we get the impression that they are privy to God’s mind. Challenge CR leaders who associate 5G with COVID-19 and the response you get from some of their followers – inspired by Jesus chiding people who do not see beyond the face value – is that you are blind and incapable of seeing what their pastors see. For many followers, whatever a pastor Christianizes is an incontestable truth. And with the COVID-19 pandemic, an all too familiar scenario has emerged whereby the pastors beef up their relevance by staying in the spotlight, lead conversations, and most of all, exercise influence over their audience. They cannot imagine a world in which they do not speak about events that affect their followers and in doing so, some of them set themselves as experts on everything, even if what they say is premised on falsehood. Again, think of this assertion that 5G network causes COVID-19 or that COVID-19 is a strategy to lockdown places, keep people indoors while authorities embed 5G cables into the earth. Yet again, challenge this assertion and you will be accused of propagating fake news.

Though the conspiracy theory may not have as its main point, the jumbling of what appears to be generally accepted knowledge, it would sound uninformed to completely dismiss some of the grounds on which it draws its doubts. Even if it does not turn out to be true, a conspiracy theory may be based on prior experiences. Take the case of black people. That many of them easily lend ears to treacheries surrounding COVID-19 is not unfounded; historical records exist on how their bodies have been abused in the name of improving medicine and science. A few recollections: remember the Tuskegee untreated syphilis experiment on black men as well as the American gynecological practices whereby black pregnant women’s bodies were abused for the sake of scientific advancement? Or a South African mercenary group – posing as medical practitioners – spreading HIV/AIDS among black South Africans during the apartheid period? For sure, these harrowing histories linger in the memories of black people and their skepticism of COVID-19 vaccine cannot be dismissed as unfounded.

The point I am emphasizing here is that, if black people shun the hospital or do not want to participate in drug clinical trials, it is not because they do not believe in science; they may just be skeptical of the scientists. It is because they read deeper meanings when influential figures like Melinda Gates says (rightly or wrongly) that blacks and people of colour should be among the first folks to get the vaccine. Who does not remember a French doctor suggesting that a repurposed drug used to treat tuberculosis patients could be tried on Africans to see if it works against the coronavirus? Add this rhetoric to the many rumours and misinformation that circulate online and what you observe is an apprehensive black population. For people who have had an uncomfortable encounter with the medical and scientific establishments, rumours that the vaccine sterilizes black people, causes miscarriage in black women, compromises their genes and that it is a eugenics venture to reduce the black population, are terrifying.

Anthropologists have long understood that in times of crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, people grapple to make meaning of the world around them by turning to what they know and for the Christian right, the bible is a perfect repository from where they draw valuable coping instructions. What the Christian right leaders are doing is Christianize our understanding of this pandemic, grounding it within a framework of skepticism and by so doing, maintain a certain degree of social integration among their followers. Emile Durkheim, an early 20th-century French sociologist would probably agree to this. Similarly, Victor Turner would see the pastors’ conspiracy narrative surrounding COVID-19 as an attempt by these church leaders to manage social change and restore social order in an apparently chaotic situation.

How people check the boxes on what COVID-19 (and its vaccine) is, how it came about, the direction it is leading the world to, etc., are primarily animated by their interpretations of the diseases. Most of the conspiracy theories simply hypothesize the virus is not necessarily a health crisis. And what we realize is that those propagating these theories do all they can to emotionalize their audience, making it hard at times to engage them in non-emotional conversations. Imagine debating a shouter who steadfastly believes the vaccine alters people’s spiritual makeup or that it spreads through 5G network! What underlies most of these conspiracies is rebellion steeped in profound mistrust. For the Christian right, resisting the vaccine is the surest way of keeping the human being untainted and therefore, recognizable by the creator.  It would be interesting if similar narratives emerge in relation to other vaccines and drugs. For how long some of them – staunch anti-vaxxers – will resist COVID-19 vaccine is all a matter of speculation.

*Dr Primus M. Tazanu is an anthropologist and Senior Guest Researcher at the Centre of African Studies, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. His research focuses on social practices and the production of meanings through media technologies:  new/social media and sociality/governance, media and Pentecostalism as well as media and racism.

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South Sudan President Kiir Replaces Army Chief, Security Chief
April 11, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

General Santino Deng Wol.

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has named a new army chief and a security chief follow soaring insecurity along the country’s major highways.

In a presidential decree, broadcasted on the state – owned television the country’s army chief General Johnson Juma Akot was replaced with General Santino Deng Wol.

The president also assigned former army chief Johnson Juma into the foreign service as grade one ambassador to Belgium.

The new chief is not new to the military. He has been serving as Assistant Chief of Defense for administration and finance.

Wol was first promoted from lieutenant-general to general before his new post.

Gen. Thomas Duoth was relieved from his position as Director-General of the General Intelligence Bureau, National Security Service, and replaced by Maj. Gen. Simon Yien Makuac, a senior SPLA-IO commander.

Duoth was reassigned to Kuwait as a grade one ambassador.

The President also dismissed Minister of Presidential Affairs Nhial Deng Nhial and appointed Dr. Barnaba Marial as his replacement.

Kiir also relieved a deputy defense and Veteran’s minister Malek Reuben Riak and replaced with Chol Thon Balok. Gen. Malek assigned to Eritrea as grade one ambassador.

No reason was provided for their dismissal but a source in the office of the president said the move was part of normal changes by the president.

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A South Korea-based International NGO Advocates a Forum for Peace Dialogue by Stakeholders in Myanmar
April 11, 2021 | 0 Comments
Nai Kasauh Mon, CEO of Mon News Agency

An international NGO named HWPL, headquartered in South Korea and affiliated with the UN ECOSOC, issued a statement expressing deep concern about the crisis of human rights arising from the recent military coup and mass protests in Myanmar, calling for the international community to join in efforts to support peaceful approach to resolve the current conflict in the country.

On the “HWPL Statement on Human Rights Crisis in Myanmar”, the organization announced that global actors of the globe with one voice are encouraged to display their support for conflict resolution through the channel of dialogue between the military and civil society actors.

In the statement it said hundreds of deaths and injuries were caused by “the recent efforts of the Myanmar military to suppress nonviolent protests” and highlights that “no conflict of interest can justify violence against civilians, and no interest of any group can prevail over human life.”

It asked all parties in Myanmar to “settle the crisis through consensus based on mutual respect and understanding” and “engage in dialogue to seek a peaceful resolution.” And it further asked global actors to “to issue statements urging authorities and civilians in Myanmar to pursue dialogue and seek a peaceful solution in order to restore peace to the country.”

“The number of deaths from protests exceeded 200, and more than 2,000 people have been arrested by the military. We, the people of Myanmar are very glad Korean people and HWPL, as a peace advocate, supports our democracy and peace movement. Currently, we are demanding international pressure against the military regime, in order to stop their brutality against peaceful demonstrators,” said Kasauh Mon, CEO of Mon News Agency in Myanmar.

Chairman Man Hee Lee of HWPL

For the past five years, this international civil society advocacy for peacebuilding led by HWPL has shown support and initiatives at the national and international levels. The organization collected over 730,000 letters written by citizens in 176 countries to call for development of peace in each country, which led government and social leaders to express their support and engagement.

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Cameroon Native Set For Installation as Bishop in the US Virgin Islands
April 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

 By Joseph Besong

Jerome Feudjio is the First African-Born Bishop appointed in the United States of America.

Jerome Feudjio , a native of Cameroon precisely from Dschang in the West province is on his set to make history with his imminent installation as Bishop in the US Virgin Islands. The  new Bishop-Elect was appointed by Pope Francis for the Diocese of Saint Thomas  in the US, Virgin Islands recently.  He was ordained priest by His Eminence Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Diocese of Saint Thomas on September 29,1990.

 His numerous pastoral and administrative assignments in the Diocese include serving as Vicar General, the Moderator of the curia, the Vicar for Clergy and Vocations, and the Rector of Saints Peter and Paul Cathedral. On March 2nd, His Holiness Pope Francis appointed him as the 6th Bishop of the Diocese of Saint Thomas in the US, Virgin Islands. He is the First African-Born Bishop appointed in the United States of America. 

On April 16,2021 Msgr.Jerome Feudjio will be installed and ordained as the Bishop of Saint Thomas, Virgin Islands. The Cameroonian population as well as a cross section of African faithful are expected to play a significant role in the ordination either in person or in spirit. This is indeed an indication that the Church in Africa has grown. Africa now sends in missionaries to the United States, Europe, and Asia.

 The news of an immigrant Bishop was received with joy especially in the United States. The humble Bishop-Elect has proven beyond thought that Africa is a blessed land. The task of a Bishop is not easy but with prayer all things are possible. 

The  Episcopal  Ordination and Installation will be broadcast live via or on local EWTN, Channel 7.

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Mozambique: Number of refugees from Palma rises to 12,800; Nyusi appoints ministerial task-force
April 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

About 12,800 refugees have now left the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province following the recent terrorist attacks on the town, of whom 43% are children, a spokesman for the United Nations (UN) has said.

The UN had provided help to 500,000 people in Cabo Delgado since the beginning of the year and was closely monitoring new reports of violence against civilians, beheadings and the use of child soldiers, he added.

The secretary-general of the UN, António Guterres, said that the organisation was working with Mozambique to help address the root causes of the violence and respond to immediate humanitarian needs. The UN urgently needed $254m to fund its humanitarian response plan to help 1.1m people, he added.

Due the situation, seven ministers and one secretary of state make up a task-force created by President Filipe Nyusi to respond to the humanitarian crisis caused by terrorism, in particular the attacks on the town of Palma.

They are defence minister Jaime Neto, interior minister Amade Miquidade, education minister Carmelita Namashulua, agriculture minister Celso Correia, trade and industry minister Carlos Mesquita, health minister Armindo Tiago, minister of state administration Ana Comoana, and the secretary of state for youth and employment, Osvaldo Petersburgo.

Meanwile, on Thursday, leaders from Southern African countries have agreed to immediately send a technical team to Mozambique to assess what it needs to fight terrorism in the north of the country.

The team is due to arrive in Mozambique by 16 April and must report back to ministers by 28 April, who in turn will report to an SADC security summit on 29 April.

Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa went further than the official communique, telling reporters that the leaders “agreed that the SADC Force should be resuscitated and capacitated immediately so that it can intervene.”

SADC’s Force Intervention Brigade (FIB) is made up of troops from South Africa, Tanzania, and Malawi.

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UNHCR finally gives road map on definite closure of Kenyan refugee camps
April 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya Fathiaa Abdalla

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has recommended measures to solve the impasse surrounding refugees at Dadaab and Kakuma camps in Northern Kenya.

“We have heard the concerns expressed by the Government of Kenya and hope that these measures will be a significant step forward in accelerating sustainable solutions for all those concerned,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Kenya Fathiaa Abdalla.

Last month Kenyan government announced its intention to close the two world’s largest refugee camps citing security threats, a directive that has elicited mixed reactions.

The UN refugee agency is now advocating for voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity while putting into account movement restrictions imposed in various regions to avert the spread of the Covid-19.

It has also proposed providing alternative-stay arrangements to refugees from the East African Community (EAC) to enable them to become self-reliant and contribute to the local community.

UNHCR further suggested resettlement to third countries a few refugees who cannot return home and face protection risks.

The agency also called for speedy issuance of national identity cards to more than 11,000 Kenyans who have previously been identified as registered in the refugee database and continued vetting process for others in similar circumstances.

Abdalla added that they would continue with dialogue and collaboration with local authorities and partners.

This comes just a day after the country’s High Court suspended the camps’ closure for 30 days pending hearing and determination of a petition filed by a local politician.

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Big blow to Kenyan government as court halts closure of Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps
April 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The actions intended by the directive are draconian and will expose the lives of innocent, helpless refugees to the danger of trauma, torture, harm and possible loss of life,says Gichira

Kenya’s High Court on Thursday temporarily suspended the state’s directive to have Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps closed.

Justice Antony Mrima issued the order pending the hearing and determination of an application filed by former presidential aspirant Peter Gichira challenging the government’s decision.

Gichira said the directive violates Kenya’s Constitution, International Laws, and treaties protecting refugee rights in his application.

“The actions intended by the directive are draconian and will expose the lives of innocent, helpless refugees to the danger of trauma, torture, harm and possible loss of life,” says Gichira.

He wants the court to stop the enforcement of the directive permanently.

The case will be mentioned on April 13, 2021.

Kenyan government gave UNHCR a 14-day ultimatum to develop a plan on the closure of the two camps, which host 196 000 (Dadaab) and 217,000 (Kakuma) refugees, respectively citing security threat.

Interior Cabinet Secretary told the UN agency that there is no room for negotiation.

The agency had pleaded with Kenya not to close the camps saying the move will only cause more misery to the refugees amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It asked the East African nation to hold on until suitable and sustainable solutions are found, noting the notice was extremely short.

UNHCR further committed to supporting Kenya’s government in continuing and further strengthening the ongoing work to find orderly, sustainable, and respect refugee rights.

“UNHCR is concerned about the impact this decision would have on the protection of refugees in Kenya, including in the context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue our dialogue with the Kenyan authorities on this issue,” reiterated the agency.

On the other hand, Amnesty International urged Kenya to use its position in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to champion for more resources for refugees and host countries instead of closing.

Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton said the two camps’ closure without an orderly approach that respects human rights would result in a humanitarian disaster.

The two-week ultimatum expired today (Thursday, April 8).

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South Sudan: WFP Cuts Food Rations Due To Funding Gaps
April 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Food distribution in Pieri, South Sudan.Photo WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

Juba – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) says it is cutting food rations for refugees and internally displaced people in the East Africa’s youngest nation due to significant funding gaps.

The rations will be reduced from this month and affect nearly 700,000 refugees and internally displaced people who will now receive 50 percent of a full ration, down from 70 percent. A full ration provides 2,100 kilocalories per person and 50 percent is 1,050 kilocalories.

A WFP food ration includes cereals, pulses, vegetable oil and salt.

“It is a very painful decision to take from the hungry to give to the starving, but this is the reality; because of the alarming rise of food insecurity in remote locations, WFP has to reduce the size of its rations in some communities, including refugees and internally displaced people, who are in a less precarious situation,” said Matthew Hollingworth, WFP Representative and Country Director in South Sudan, in the press release on Thursday.

WFP’s resources in South Sudan are stretched thin at a time when levels of food insecurity are at their highest in a decade and donors are grappling with the economic impact of COVID-19 .

“We must try to save the lives of those likely to face famine during the lean season if they do not receive sufficient assistance. WFP simply does not have enough resources to provide full rations to all of those in South Sudan who rely on our assistance to survive,” said Hollingworth.

The UN Food agency further said it immediately needs US$125 million for its food assistance operations for the next six months to provide food in sufficient quantities, including larger food rations for refugees and the displaced

The impacted populations include some 440,000 internally displaced people in Bentiu, Bor, Juba, Malakal, Mingkaman and Wau as well as nearly 260,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Ethiopia and Sudan, who rely on WFP assistance to meet most of their food needs.

These cuts are likely to lead to higher rates of malnutrition and anaemia, stunted child growth and people resorting to survival strategies. People who struggle to meet their basic food needs cope by skipping or reducing meals, taking loans with high interest, selling assets, and using child labour. There is often also increased domestic violence when people are in this situation.

“We know how hard it is for vulnerable people who struggle every day to survive and provide for their children. By introducing these reductions now, WFP is making sure that all refugees and displaced people will continue to receive our food assistance albeit in smaller quantities.”

In the press statement, added the WFP will not reduce nutrition assistance for mothers and children who are refugees or internally displaced; WFP provides especially nutritious food to treat and prevent malnutrition in pregnant and breastfeeding women as well as children between six months and two years of age.

In 2021, food insecurity in South Sudan is alarmingly high. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) assessment warned that 7.24 million people will face severe acute hunger at the height of the lean season in July, while 1.4 million children will be acutely malnourished.

WFP is prioritizing 10 hard-to-reach counties where food insecurity is dire, and people are in emergency or catastrophic levels of hunger. These include; Pibor, Akobo, Tonj North, Tonj South, Tonj East, Aweil South, Bor South, Twic East, Duk and Ayod.

Every year, WFP reaches more than five million food-insecure people in South Sudan with food assistance, nutrition support, cash stipends and livelihoods opportunities to build the resilience of communities–prioritizing the most vulnerable and conflict-affected women, children, and the elderly.

The 2018 peace process remains fragile, despite the warring parties having registered some positive progress since the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity in February 2020.

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Mozambique: Looking to its Past for Lasting Peace
April 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Arlene J. Schar and Dr. David Leffler*

Map of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.Source Amnesty International

The government of Mozambique has taken many approaches to end conflict and encourage economic development in the past fifty years. Colonial independence, nationalization, villagization, and Marxism were all tried, with accompanying political upheavals, civil war, and massacres. Peace and economic stability was finally reached in the 1990’s, under the newly elected democratic government. Former Mozambique President Joaquim Alberto Chissano credited the sustained peace and resulting economic development to the implementation of Invincible Defense Technology (IDT) under the Mozambique military and police.

IDT is a brain based technology which utilizes the non-religious Transcendental Meditation (TM) techniques. Hundreds of scientific studies have been conducted at more than 200 independent universities and research institutions, published in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals. These studies confirm that regular practice of TM produces major increases in calmness, happiness, creativity, energy, and clarity of mind. Over six million people worldwide of all religions, cultures and ages have learned TM and experience these benefits.

When sufficient numbers practice TM, and particularly the more advanced TM-Sidhi program in large groups together, a powerful field effect of coherence and peace is generated. This effect spills over into the surrounding population. This field effect has been substantiated by extensive research published in the following refereed journals: Alcoholism Treatment QuarterlyInternational Journal of NeuroscienceJournal of Conflict ResolutionJournal of Crime and JusticeJournal of Mind and BehaviorJournal of Offender RehabilitationJournal of Social Behavior and PersonalityPsychological ReportsPsychology Crime and LawSocial Indicators ResearchSocial Science Perspectives JournalSociety of Neuroscience Abstracts, and Studies in Asian Social Science.

This field effect was demonstrated in 1993, when over 4000 TM experts gathered in Washington, DC as a “National Demonstration Project to Reduce Violent Crime and Improve Governmental Effectiveness in Washington.” As predicted, research published in Social Indicators Research showed that crime dropped 24% and public approval of the US president suddenly changed from a negative trend to a positive trend.

Research indicates that such calming effects can also be created on a national level. A recent study published in Studies in Asian Social Science showed that large group practice of these programs in Cambodia between 1993 and 2008 was associated with a 96.2% decline in sociopolitical violence in that war-torn country compared to violence in the preceding three years. The authors conclude the likelihood this reversal in the rising 1990–1992 trend of violence occurred randomly was one chance in 10 million. Other published research has shown that after advanced TM was applied, Cambodia’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rates averaged 8.9%, and poverty was reduced by 63% between 1994 and 2008. By 2010 Cambodia was ranked 63rd out of 152 countries on the international scale of poverty, an unprecedented jump of 89 places in less than one generation.

After Mozambique’s implementation of IDT, a study published in Canadian Centres for Teaching Peace documented these positive changes in Mozambique. Unfortunately, once President Alberto Joachim Chissano left office, cynics dismissed IDT as being the most important conveyor of such positive changes, resulting in the disbanding of the military and police IDT coherence-creating groups.

Today Mozambique faces a daunting task: uniting the country in the midst of a raging pandemic with its resulting economic devastation and societal discord; all overshadowed by the recent specter of Islamist insurrection.

It would be wise at this time for Mozambique to again establish IDT coherence-creating groups to deploy this simple and cost-effective approach and thereby create national unity and lasting peace. Any large group of experts trained in the advanced TM techniques could produce these results. The groups could be comprised of military units, congregations at places of worship, prisoners, the elderly in retirement homes, even students as was done in Cambodia. The important factor is that the techniques be performed by trained TM experts consistently in groups twice a day. Simply by doing this Mozambique’s current high societal tensions could again be eradicated.

Violence has historically been the response to national differences, despite its costs both in financial and human terms. What Mozambique needs now is for its leaders to recognize that there is a more effective proven way to resolve differences. TM is that scientifically-verified approach, and now is the time for Mozambique’s leaders to again utilize IDT to dissolve high political tensions, improve the economy and create lasting peace.

*About the Authors:

*Arlene J. Schar has served as Dr. Leffler’s Executive Assistant at the Center for Advanced Military Science (CAMS) since 2015. She has edited and co-authored many of Dr. Leffler’s articles.

Dr. David Leffler served as an Associate of the Proteus Management Group at the Center for Strategic Leadership, US Army War College. Currently, he serves as the Executive Director at CAMS.

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U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 Launches: Promotes U.S. Role as Primary Investor in African Energy
April 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

The multi-day forum unites U.S. and African policymakers, energy executives and industry leaders to create new linkages and foster discussions

The U.S. Africa Energy Forum 2021 – organized by Africa Oil & Power, in partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee – will foster alignment between U.S. and African governments’ energy policies and highlight African oil, gas, power and renewable projects across the energy value chain for U.S. investors; the multi-day forum unites U.S. and African policymakers, energy executives and industry leaders to create new linkages and foster discussions that drive long-term policy formation and project execution; the in-person, two-day summit and gala dinner will be hosted in Houston, Texas (October 4-5, 2021) and an online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. (July 12).

Africa Oil & Power (AOP) ( and the African Energy Chamber are excited to announce the launch of the first-ever U.S. Africa Energy Forum (USAEF). This event aims to create deeper cooperation between the U.S. and Africa on energy policy, to reach alignment on long term sustainability goals, to stimulate greater American investment in the African oil, gas and power sectors, and to engage and reposition the U.S. as the primary partner of choice for African energy developments. 

Under the theme “New Horizons for U.S. Africa Energy Investment” the forum will explore diverse foreign investment and export opportunities across the continent, including natural gas as a vital fuel for the energy transition; energy storage and battery minerals; Africa’s place in global energy supply chains; the benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area; evolving energy technologies and how they relate to the future role of petroleum resources; and on-and off-grid power developments. 

An online seminar and in-person networking event will be held in Washington D.C. on July 12, 2021, building up to the in-person U.S. Africa Energy Forum summit and gala dinner, to be hosted in Houston, Texas, on October 4-5, 2021. Africa Oil & Power and the African Energy Chamber invite all U.S.-based companies with an interest in engaging with African industry leaders and project developers to participate in the USAEF Houston summit.

This initiative comes at an important juncture in U.S.-Africa relations. The Biden Administration’s announcements of its intentions to proactively build a stronger U.S.-Africa partnership coincides with the fact that African projects are seeing rising interest from U.S. companies and lending institutions alike. The USAEF event is thus dedicated to enabling dialogue between its participants that advances these developments.

“Our mission has always been to showcase the resource potential that Africa has to offer while at the same time showing its growing preference for sustainable energy policies and technologies. Toward that end, we hope it becomes evident that Africa does not just want investment capital: it wants smart capital and an accompanying partnership with the investors,” says James Chester, Senior Director of Africa Oil & Power. “The U.S. Africa Energy Forum represents the first-of-its-kind opportunity to catalyze U.S. participation in Africa’s energy transformation – via technology, policy support, capital injection and skills development – and turns a new page in the chapter on global energy investment.” 

In partnership with the African Energy Chamber’s U.S.-Africa Committee, AOP will introduce American companies to African opportunities and advance an agenda of sustainable, long-term investment in African energy and other sectors by U.S. organizations. 

“The rise in support from the U.S. to the continent is a credit to Africa itself, which is increasingly viewed as a favored destination for global investors, multilaterals and export credit agencies,” says Jude Kearney, President of Kearney Africa and former Deputy Assistant Secretary for Service Industries and Finance at the U.S. Department of Commerce during the Clinton Administration. “Africa continues to command a healthy share of global FDI in oil and gas industries. It has for decades shown that investment in those sectors is favorable compared to other jurisdictions and can be successful by many measures. Even as Africa and the rest of the world wrestles with a global pandemic, Africa’s energy sector shows vitality and resiliency – not only in hydrocarbons but in regard to new opportunities in mining, liquefied natural gas, and agriculture.”

Both African governments and private sector sponsors of African energy projects value highly the combination of investment and partnership that US investors famously convey. The USAEF seeks to enable successful partnerships between its participants such that the energy development goals of U.S. investors and strategic partners and their African counterparts can be achieved.

To find out more on opportunities for U.S.-African energy investment and cooperation, as well as information on the inaugural U.S. Africa Energy Forum, please visit and to participate in the USAEF, reach out directly to Senior Director James Chester at

*SOURCE Africa Oil & Power Conference

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Kenya, UK hold meeting in the midst of deteriorating diplomatic relations
April 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Raychelle Omamo and UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday held talks to deliberate on the Covid-19 travel ban.

In Kenya, the British High Commission revealed through a tweet that the two leaders spoke via phone and agreed on the formation of a joint committee to address the travel restrictions.

“Positive call this morning between UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Raychelle Omamo. They discussed the strength of our relationship on trade, regional security, and health and agreed to establish a Joint Committee to work together on addressing COVID-19 travel restrictions,” the British High Commission said.

Last week the UK added Kenya to its red list of countries whose members were banned from traveling to the country due to a surge in Covid-19 cases.

In a letter to Kenyan Foreign Ministry, the British Commission said the decision was driven by a review of the latest scientific evidence pertaining to the risk of community transmission of COVID- 19 variants.’

In response, Kenya canceled all passenger flights from the UK effective April 9.

In line with Kenya’s government directive, Kenya Airways suspended its flights to the European country until further notice.

Passengers were asked to change bookings for later travels or request a refund with all penalties waived.

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Rwanda:Journalists urged to fight genocide ideology as commemoration starts
April 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Journalists and social media influencers in session with the President Paul Kagame during 25th celebrations of Liberation.

Rwanda Media Commission, a media self-regulatory body had urged journalists and social media users disseminating information to avoid disseminating content that negate, denial or hurt genocide survivors as Rwanda and the World remember victims of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi.

The Commemoration week starts on April 7 marking the beginning of hundred days of mourning the victims, a period signaling the 100 days of manslaughter where over one million of innocent lives were lost.

This year, the country commemorates the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi amid COVID-19 pandemic and mourners were urged to honor the fallen relatives while respecting the guidelines put in place by the government to curb the spread of the pandemic.  

The commemoration is being held under the theme: ‘Remember, Unite, Renew”

According to Cleophas Barore, the chairperson of Rwanda Media Commission (RMC) urged journalists to be careful whenever they are working on stories about the commemoration period and avoid anything that can disturb the minds of genocide survivors.

“RMC reminds journalists to be careful during this unusual period of 27th commemoration of the genocide against the Tutsi, journalists should use real terminologies that do not negate or deny genocide. Those who doubt such terminologies should seek clarifications from the National Commission for the Fight Against Genocide,” said Barore in a statement released on Wednesday, April 7, 2021.

The media self-regulatory body particularly urged online media outlets and social media users to be careful about the comments they should let out for readers.

“RMC particularly requests online media outlets and journalists using different social media users to disseminate information to be careful and ensure comments that are shared on the published stories do not promote hearted, discrimination and the content that hurt genocide survivors,” he added.

“RMC also uses this opportunity to request institutions organizing Kwibukla activities to facilitate media to get needed information during this commemoration period,” Barore noted.

Genocide ideology and negation remain a threat to unity and reconciliation in Rwanda as those spreading the ideology mainly use social media and media platforms.

Genocide ideology attracts between 5 and 15-year jail sentence if one is found guilty.

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The “Fallen Hope Of LGBT in GHANA”
April 6, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

Ghana has a mixed record on its treatment of Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. It Criminalizes” unnatural carnal knowledge” in section 104 (1) (b) of its Criminal Offences Act, which the authorities interpret as “penile penetration of anything other than a virgin.” However, the law is a colonial legacy that is rarely, if ever, enforced, and unlike several of its neighbors, Ghana has not taken steps in recent years to stiffen penalties against consensual same-sex conduct or to expressly criminalize sexual relation between women.  At least two government agencies, the Ghana Police Force and the Com

mission on Human Right and Administrative Justice, have reached out to LGBT activists and taken proactive steps, including through providing human right training workshops to help ensure their protection. Nevertheless, LGBT activists are very frequently victims of physical violence and psychological abuse, extortion and discrimination in many different expect of daily lie, because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.

Since President Akufo-Addo assumed office in January 2017, he has come under tremendous pressure from numerous religious groups to declare his government’s position on homosexuality. The 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana guarantees a range of fundamental human rights and freedoms to all its citizens. Article 17(1) and (2) guarantees equality before the law and prohibits discrimination on grounds of “gender, race, colour, ethnic origin, religion, creed or social economic status. The Constitution guarantees respect for human dignity, protection of personal liberty, and the right to privacy for all. Ghana has ratified all the major regional and international human right treaties and accepted the individual complaints procedures under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Right and the inquiry procedure under the Optional protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of discrimination against Women.

Inciting Homophobic Violence

On numerous occasions since 2010 and notably from February 2017, Ghanaians officials have argued that the Ghanaian public is not ready, because of the strong religious beliefs, to accept the decriminalization of same-sex conduct or to guarantee equality and non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in the constitution. However, statement being made by some of these some officials feed into public sentiments against homosexuality and protection of the fundamental human right of lesbian and gay people

.  LGBTQI, came on a raise in the country when the European Union representative in Ghana made a post of their support to the LGBTQI newly opened office in Accra, Ghana.  Ghanaians who can and are on social media set it on a blaze, and it has gotten a lot of people including authorities talking and condemning it in our society. The current situation is worrying and to some Ghanaians, it’s better for the presidency to come out and declare its stands on the issues making rounds. Mr. Mosses Foh – Amoaning, a legal practitioner and a sole activist against this LGBTQI stated that, “there are some politicians and other journalists with good standing in our society who are part of this group and unfortunately, they are using them to push their agenda.” Though his claims can not be substantiated but many well-meaning Ghanaians have sided with him and have joined his call.

It’s an undisputable fact that, the LGBTQI has been with us even before the current president was voted in to office. I remember at a point in time, some single sex senior high schools was find that, some students in these institutions are practicing this ungodly acts.  I would like to take you back memory lane, as this issue is concerned. The former president of the republic, the late His excellency John Evans Fiifi Atta Mills was confronted with the same issue immediately after he was sworn in to office. Some section of the Ghanaian populace mounted some pressure on him to come clear on this issue. He listened to the voice of the masses and came out emphatically to say he is not in support of this and wont support it on any day. He believes in the Ghanaian culture and he was voted in to office to protect it. He was eulogized by many Ghanaians here and abroad.

  The current President of the republic, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo has not been left out from this hook. He was confronted with the same issue during his first term of office. In an interview with ALJAZEERA, way back 2019, the president said and I quote, “this issue of LGBT is not currently on our table and is not something we are considering fight now but it has been a global issue which bound to happen in Ghana.” A lot of Ghanaians couldn’t take it lightly and they took the president on. Later, his spoke persons including the Minister of Information came out to explain what the President meant by “its bound to happen.”

Fast forward, this issue left us a bit for some of us to have our peace. Unfortunately, the situation is now stronger than before. they now have well established offices spread across. Some Ghanaians have asked the president to lock down their offices which I think is in order. Some are of the view that, most of their activities are being sponsored by some diplomats inside and outside the country.  Not long ago, Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) issued a statement calling on the government to summon all foreign diplomats supporting LGBTQI organization in Ghana (peace FM, summon foreign diplomats supporting LGBTQI in Ghana – GPCC To Govn’t.) in their press stamen, they stated that “ the actions of the LGBTQI movement is also a complete variance with the laws of the God as spelt out in the Holy bible concerning God’s plan of creation and the sanctity of marriage between woman and a man as ordained by God.”

Some ministers have joined the call that, the government will put everything in place in order to prevent these people from operating in Ghana. All these shows how wounded most Ghanaians are. Some lawyers including a former legislature of National Democratic Congress (NDC), Honourable Inusah Fuseini has said, its time Ghana recognize the existence of their right. According to him, the gay rights is now a human right issue which we have to recognize. CDD’s Mr. H. Kwasi Prempeh said, “I am free to advocate the abolition or repeal of a certain criminal statute, does my right to such advocacy, which is a form of permissible free speech, become unlawful merely because I have joined together or associated with another person or other persons to pursue that same advocacy and other related issues of mutual interest? Aren’t others just as free to brand together in counter – advocacy in support of the status quo?” he asked all these to justify the advocacy of LGBTQI based on human right grounds in Ghana.

Many Ghanaians are not happy about he loud silence of the Civil Society Organizations. Some are of the view that, most their activities are being funded by the LGBTQI group and they can not speak against their pay masters. It’s a mere allegation but a lot of Ghanaians are still worried and are calling for reasons behind that silence. A group of one hundred and two Ghanaians feminists have become the last group to add their voice to the growing support for the recognition of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender and sexual identities in Ghana. Finally, President of the republic, Nana Addo Danquah Akuffo-Addo has ordered the closure of the office of the LGBTQI. Addressing a church congregation the President made the announcement of not accepting of LGBTQI in the country and never will that happen under his watch as the president of the Republic of Ghana!

*Culled from March Issue of PAV Magazine

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Kenya told to advocate for more resources at the United Nations Security Council
April 6, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton.Photo courtesy

Amnesty International has also joined the UNHCR in calling Kenya to reconsider its decision to close Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps.

Amnesty International Kenya Executive Director Irũngũ Houghton noted that Kenya should use its position in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) to champion for more resources for refugees and host countries instead of closing the said camps.

Houghton said that the two camps’ closure without an orderly approach that does not undermine human rights would result in a humanitarian disaster.

He added that it is still unsafe for the refugees to return to their countries of origin or other countries for resettlement.

“Conflict in Somalia and Ethiopia, pre and post-election violence in Uganda and Tanzania as well as the persecution of LGBTI+ communities in Uganda and elsewhere makes voluntary return safe and dignified untenable for most refugees,” Irũngũ Houghton.

According to the director, the international community undermines Kenya’s capacity to provide safety and sanctuary for refugees by inadequate humanitarian funding.

Therefore, he called on wealthier nations led by the new US administration to share responsibility fairly by expanding adequate opportunities for third-country resettlement, mass Covid-19 vaccination programs and encourage calls by communities to host refugees.

He also challenged Kenya and UNHCR to consider reviewing the encampment approach with regional and international best practices.

The Kenyan government, on March 23, issued a 14-day ultimatum to announce a plan for the closure of the camps.

Kenya’s Interior Minister, Dr Fred Matiang’i, cited security threats and strain on the country’s resources.

The two-week ultimatum expires on Thursday, and all eyes are on the Kenyan Government and the UNHCR to see what will transpire. 

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Kenya and United Kingdom’s diplomatic tensions escalate
April 6, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya Airways (KQ), on Monday, April 5, suspended its flights to the United Kingdom, a move that would heighten the already existing diplomatic row between the two nations.

The suspension will take effect from April 9 until further notice.

The loss-making airline said that the decision was arrived at following the Government’s directive that suspended all UK flights from April 9.

The airline apologized to their customers for the inconvenience, asking them to change their bookings or request a refund penalty-free. However, the carried forward tickets must be utilized before March 31, 2022.

At the same time, KQ announced that it has added two new flights to the UK on April 7 and April 8 to meet the increasing travel demand.

The current ongoing row between Kenya and the European nation kicked off last week Friday when the UK government added Kenya to its “red list” of countries whose residents are banned from setting foot in the country.

The UK said it is aiming to protect itself against new variants of Covid-19.

In a statement, UK said that after April 9, when the ban is taking effect, only British and Irish nationals from the red-list countries will be allowed to enter the country. However, they will have to quarantine for ten days at their expenses.

“The government has made it consistently clear it will take decisive action if necessary to contain the virus and has added these destinations to the red list to protect public health,” read the statement.

In retaliation, Kenya banned all passenger flights to and through the UK for a month.

Kenya’s Foreign Affairs Ministry slammed the UK for adding the country to its Covid-19 red list, terming the decision ‘discriminatory’ and lacked ‘logic and scientific knowledge of the disease or the spread of the pandemic’.

“This vaccine apartheid, coupled with reckless calls for vaccine passports while not making the vaccines available to all nations, widens existing inequalities and makes it near impossible for the world to win the war against the pandemic,” read part the Ministry’s statement.

Other African countries in the UK’s travel ban red list include Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Cape Verde, DRC, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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