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ARSENAL CLOSE IN ON £55M AUBAMEYANG SIGNING
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Chris Wheatley*

 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang

The 28-year-old is set to become the Gunners’ record signing just five months after they set that mark to secure Alexandre Lacazette

Arsenal are on the verge of completing the signing of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund after the clubs agreed a £55 million (€63m) fee in principle, Goal understands.

Aubameyang, 28, has been subject of negotiations between the Gunners and Dortmund for several weeks, with Arsenal having refused to meet the Bundesliga side’s €70m asking price.

Goal understands the Gabon international has already agreed personal terms with the north Londoners, with an official announcement to arrive in the coming days.

The striker, who scored 31 league goals last season, was left out of two consecutive games for Dortmund after missing a team meeting, with head coach Peter Stoger accusing the frontman of not being focused.

However, Aubameyang started in Dortmund’s draw with Freiburg on Saturdayamid claims from the Bundesliga side that a transfer would be sanctioned if Arsenal reached “certain parameters”.

“We are ready to agree a transfer under certain parameters, but only if these are fully met,” sporting director Michael Zorc told German TV.

“We have a clear position. Arsenal has made several attempts so far. We have refused them all up to now.”

Aubameyang would join up with former Dortmund team-mate Henrikh Mkhitaryan at Arsenal after the Armenian joined in a swap deal which saw Alexis Sanchez head to Manchester United. The duo combined for 62 goals in all competitions two seasons ago.

This season, Aubameyang has scored 21 goals in 24 matches in all competitions. He has found the net 141 times since joining BVB from Saint-Etienne for €13m in July 2013, and he also has 23 goals in 56 caps for Gabon.

The 28-year-old’s on the verge of joining an Arsenal side that sit sixth in the Premier League table, five points off the pace in the race for the top four.

The Gunners were eliminated in their FA Cup third round meeting with Nottingham Forest earlier this month but have advanced to the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City and will face Swedish side Ostersunds in the Europa League last 32.

As previously reported, West Brom defender Jonny Evans is also a target at the Emirates Stadium, although a hamstring injury sustained at the weekend could see a transfer put on hold until the summer.

Evans is open to a move, but Arsenal may face a late battle, with the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City also keen to land the former Manchester United player, depending on his fitness status.

*Source Goal

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Diafra Sakho: Striker leaves West Ham to join French club Rennes
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Diafra Sakho equalled Mick Quinn's Premier League record by scoring in each of his first six league starts

Diafra Sakho equalled Mick Quinn’s Premier League record by scoring in each of his first six league starts

West Ham forward Diafra Sakho has joined French Ligue 1 club Rennes for an undisclosed fee.

The 28-year-old Senegalese, who joined the Hammers from Metz in 2014, scored 24 goals in 71 games for the club.

Sakho’s career at West Ham began well as he equalled a Premier League record by scoring in his first six starts.

However, injuries hampered the rest of his time at the club and he has started only two Premier League matches since the start of the 2016-17 season.

*BBC

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China dismisses ‘absurd’ African Union HQ spying claim
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Chinese built the African Union headquarters, which opened in 2012

The Chinese built the African Union headquarters, which opened in 2012

China has dismissed reports it bugged the African Union (AU) headquarters as “preposterous”.

Kuang Weilin, the Chinese ambassador to the AU, told reporters in Ethiopia the “absurd” claim in France’s Le Monde was “very difficult to understand”.

He spoke out three days after the newspaper published an article claiming data from the Chinese-built AU building was being copied to Shanghai.

The article said the discovery resulted in all the AU servers being switched.

Le Monde spoke to a number of anonymous sources, who claimed the alleged transfer was taking place late at night [link in French], and was only spotted in January 2017 due to the spike in activity between midnight and 02:00, despite no-one being in the building.

It was suggested the alleged data transfer had been taking place since 2012, when the building, in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, was opened.

Officials also brought in security experts from Algeria to sweep the entire headquarters for potential bugs, the newspaper said, leading to the discovery of microphones in desks.

But Mr Kuang – who hailed the headquarters as a “monument” to his country’s relationship with the continent – said it was entirely untrue.

“I really question its intention,” he told reporters on Monday. “I think it will undermine and send a very negative message to people. I think it is not good for the image of the newspaper itself.

“Certainly, it will create problems for China-Africa relations.”

*BBC

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Can Kagame? The African Union
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments
Paul Kagame

Paul Kagame

The continental group of 55 countries has long sought to reduce its dependence on the West, with limited success. Will 2018 be different?

This week is Rwandan president Paul Kagame’s first as chairman of the AU’s Assembly, its top decision-making body. He plans to remake the notoriously sclerotic AU in his own image: lean and ruthlessly efficient. But first comes financial self-sufficiency, which means securing big commitments from African peers.

Last year member states funded just 14% of the AU’s budgeted programmes, well below the 75% they committed to in 2015. A 0.2% levy on imports into Africa might more than double revenues, but implementation has been slow; 21 countries have signed up, but only Ghana and Rwanda have enshrined it in law.

Mr Kagame wants tougher sanctions for recalcitrant members. But it will take deft diplomacy to overcome opposition from big economies like South Africa—a skill not all are convinced Mr Kagame possesses.

*Source The Economist

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Netanyahu scoffs at notion Rwanda unsafe for deported migrants
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

PM tells meeting of Likud ministers that the UN is already protecting 180,000 refugees in camps in the African country

By STUART WINER and TOI STAFF*

PM Netanyahu, left, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

PM Netanyahu, left, with Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Nairobi, Kenya, November 28, 2017 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ministers on Sunday that Rwanda is a fitting deportation destination for African asylum seekers as the United Nations is already taking care of nearly two hundred thousand refugees in the African state

At the opening of a meeting of Likud party ministers, Netanyahu addressed Israel’s plans to deport tens of thousands of African migrants to a third country.

The prime minister has praised deals to send migrants to third-party countries in Africa, but has refused to publicly divulge where they are. Media reports have focused on Rwanda and Uganda as the destination countries.

“There are 180,000 refugees sitting there under the protection of the UN, so the claims that it is dangerous are a joke,” Netanyahu said of Rwanda.

Last month, the Knesset approved an amendment to the so-called “Infiltrator’s Law” paving the way for the forced deportations of Eritrean and Sudanese migrants and asylum seekers starting in March, and the indefinite imprisonment of those who refuse to leave “voluntarily.”

There are approximately 38,000 African migrants and asylum seekers in Israel, according to the Interior Ministry. About 72 percent are Eritrean and 20% are Sudanese, and the vast majority arrived between 2006 and 2012. Many live in south Tel Aviv, and some residents and activists blame them for rising crime rates and have lobbied the government for their deportation.

The amendment has gained international attention and is fraught with controversy.

On Saturday a number of severed doll heads doused in red paint were left outside the Tel Aviv office of the Population, Immigration, and Border Authority (PIBA) in what appeared to be a protest move against the deportation plan.

Yossi Edelstein, PIBA’s head of enforcement and foreign affairs administration, complained Sunday that protests against the deportations had gotten out of hand and that opponents’ claims were rife with misleading information.

“What started as a protest became incitement and what happened yesterday in our offices in Tel Aviv is a result of that incitement,” Edelstein told Army Radio. “There are columnists who call for attacking [PIBA] workers. What have we come to? We have crossed every red line you can in protest and we crossed into incitement.”

While refusing to identify the specific countries the migrants will be sent to, he insisted that the destinations are safe and that PIBA operates a careful followup process.

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya, on January 22, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

African asylum seekers and human rights activists protest against deportation in front of the Rwandan Embassy in Herzliya, on January 22, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

“In the last two weeks there has been false information published,” he told the radio station, dismissing supposed claims that Israel is sending asylum seekers to their deaths. “The High Court has examined those claims from every angle and found that the countries are safe.”

Rami Gudovich, a social worker dealing with asylum seekers, said that some 100 people who were deported by Israel to South Sudan have died, and that there have been several accounts of rape as well as mistreatment by local authorities.

“We are gambling with peoples’ lives,” Gudovich said, saying that some of the asylum seekers that Israel deported to South Sudan have been killed in the civil war there. Other were arrested by local authorities or are suffering because they no longer have access to the medicines and treatments available in Israel, he said.

Israeli rights activists and Jewish communities in the US have spoken out against the deportation plan.

Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Netanyahu met with Rwandan President Paul Kagame and agreed to a demand that his country would only accept asylum-seekers Israel is looking to deport if the move was made in accordance with international law.

*The Times of Israel

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This is Africa too
January 29, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Enuma Okoro*

Aerial view of Lagos PHOTO: CLUTTONS

Aerial view of Lagos PHOTO: CLUTTONS

A few months ago, at a recent forum on ‘Africa and Media,’ I got into a vibrant discussion with another African writer about the types of stories we choose to tell about the continent. From my understanding of her viewpoint, she was concerned that in trying to “change the narrative” of Africa, people would begin to “whitewash” certain realities in Africa; like poverty, unemployment, hunger, and other destitute factors affecting many Africans across the continent, and which she felt, were the significant issues important to write about and the stories to be shared.

She said that as someone born and raised in Africa, she wasn’t interested in new narratives, what she referred to as “private jet owners” or “fashion stories,” that she felt stemmed from a colonial mentality of Africans’ need to justify themselves by western standards and for western eyes. To be honest, I listened in disbelief. But after having more discussions on this topic I’ve also found that quite a few people hold this opinion that there are certain narratives about Africa that should be prioritized out of a sense of responsibility to the continent’s continued development. However, this suggests to me a limited imagination only allowing room for extremes, and that given a choice between the two – poverty-stricken or successful and rising – people like this writer, feel it is more beneficial to tell the world about Africa’s poor, needy and destitute, than to promote narratives about a rich and diverse Africa. Because, the argument claims, people need to stay aware that Africa and her citizens are still in need of so much for basic survival and development.

Unfortunately, I vehemently disagreed with this line of thought, which led to my heated discussion with the writer. I have no fear of overwrought narratives of a poor and destitute Africa being whitewashed by narratives of a rich, vibrant and pulsating Africa replete with stylish and success-driven citizens and cities. On the contrary I think we need more of those sorts of stories and media portrayals to counter balance what already exists in popular cultural imaginations of the continent. But her comments did make me rethink something, that maybe instead of using the phrase, “change the narrative,” a more suitable term would be “expand the narrative,” because these stories that she and others are invested in telling are in fact true and necessary stories of Africa.

Poverty, hunger, unemployment, disease, lack of basic amenities is the reality for many people, and these stories do need to be told because ongoing awareness, action, development and change are essential for a more equitable continent. But the only problem is that the world is already more than familiar with these narratives. So familiar that many outside of Africa are tempted to think that this is the only true reality of the continent, that need and destitution is the only true story. It is one reason that people can jump on the bandwagon of such an ignorant, racist and disgraceful comment such as that made earlier this month by the 45th President of the United States of America. When few alternate narratives are made available, it only helps to continue to limit people’s imagination about Africa and what it means to be African. If we don’t make the effort to share our own stories and images about the multiple realties of the continent then we’re simply continuing to allow outsiders to shape the larger imagination of what it means to be African and what it means to live in Africa.

Which is why the role of writers, musicians, painters, photographers, filmmakers, essentially what I think of as culture-bearers is so powerful and necessary. It is possible to control our own narratives in a way that can radically shift global perceptions. On a whim, I created an Instagram page called @ThisIsAfricaToo, and posted a few pictures of images that show Africa in ways many people overseas probably are not used to seeing. As I go about my daily life in Nigeria and on my travels throughout the continent I will continue to share these images that show other sides of our cities and countries than people may be used to. They will be images that suggest more than one reality and more than one tried and trite narrative. I invite people to share their own photos of the beautiful and rich Africa they know, and to tag the Instagram handle @ThisIsAfricaToo. It’s a small action but a picture speaks a thousand words. That writer I engaged with earlier would question why we feel the need to shift global perspectives if we ourselves know what is true about ourselves. Well, to put it in a very elementary way, because Africa is not a continent in isolation from the rest of the world and the world needs to know and hear our multiple truths in order to engage us appropriately.

*Source The Guardian Nigeria

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African Heads of State Endorse New Measurement of Progress on Neglected Tropical Diseases Reaffirming Commitment to Health Equity
January 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
For the first time, annual African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) Scorecard for Accountability and Action will reveal progress and gaps across five neglected diseases that affect countries’ poorest and most marginalised communities
Mectizan distribution in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai.

Mectizan distribution in the Tshiaba Mbumba village in Western Kasai.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 28, 2018/ — Today, at the 30th African Union Heads of State Summit , the African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA) added neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) to its annual scorecard on disease progress. The scorecard is personally reviewed by African heads of state every year, putting NTDs alongside malaria and maternal and child health as top health priorities for the continent.

Developed by the World Health Organization in collaboration with Uniting to Combat NTDs , this index reports progress for the 47 NTD-affected countries in sub-Saharan Africa in their strategies to treat and prevent the five most common NTDs: lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis, soil-transmitted helminths and trachoma. By adding NTDs to the scorecard, African leaders are making a public commitment to hold themselves accountable for progress on these diseases.

“My government is determined to make sure we can take ‘neglected’ out of these diseases,” said His Excellency, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn. “Improving the health, education and productivity of our poorest citizens by eliminating NTDs can put Africa on the path to prosperity and universal health coverage. I urge my fellow African leaders to build on the progress already made and increase their efforts to tackle NTDs to make them a subject for much concerted effort and action at the African Union.”

A Health Priority for Well Over A Billion

NTDs are a group of diseases that affect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people, often living in the most remote communities. More than 1.5 billion people are at risk for NTDs globally, including more than 620 million in Africa. Whilst NTDs cause hundreds of thousands of deaths each year, their primary impact is on the millions that are left trapped in endless cycles of poverty. They cause blindness, disfigurement, disability, stigma and discrimination. Parents are left unable to work and children unable to go to school.

Fortunately, the five diseases that are being monitored in the ALMA scorecard respond well to cheap, safe medicines, which are donated by pharmaceutical companies and are broadly distributed to treat and prevent the diseases. As a result of a global public-private coalition, more people than ever before are being treated for NTDs, and the number of people at risk of infection globally has dropped by more than 400 million in the last five years.

Good NTD coverage also promotes universal health coverage: NTD programs have trained over a million health workers and brought a variety of services, including family planning tools and vitamins, to people in remote communities otherwise unreached by the health system. This connection is discussed in more length in Uniting to Combat NTDs’ recent progress report, “Reaching a Billion: Ending Neglected Tropical Diseases: A Gateway to Universal Health Coverage,” launched last month.

“When it comes to diseases that affect the very poorest and most marginalised communities, it is up to political leaders to make them a priority,” said Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Director, Uniting to Combat NTDs Support Centre. “Beating NTDs is essential for Africa’s economic development, and we are thrilled that African Heads of State will be reviewing their progress every year and holding themselves accountable for equitable health outcomes.”

Progress in Africa, But More to Do

The scorecard shows the evidence of progress in Africa:

  • In 2016, 40 million more people were reached with preventive treatment for at least one NTD than the year before.
  • More than half of all countries improved their coverage index between 2015 and 2016, with 12 countries having doubled their coverage index.
  • Togo was certified by WHO as eliminating lymphatic filariasis, Malawi has stopped treatment for lymphatic filariasis and is in the process of being validated by WHO, and both Ghana and the Gambia report having eliminated trachoma.

While most data points to progress, the scorecard shows areas of concern. Nearly two-thirds of countries have a NTD coverage index of less than 50%. The percentage of affected countries implementing disease-specific interventions ranges from 92% for trachoma to just 72% for schistosomiasis, suggesting that there is still much more to do.

“Beating NTDs will help lift millions out of poverty, improving the lives of some of the world’s poorest and most marginalised people. There is a huge amount at stake and we know that eradicating these diseases is too big a job for one sector alone,” said Tanya Wood, chair of the NTD NGO Network and CEO of the International Federation of Anti-Leprosy Associations. “With the ALMA initiative driving accountability and action, and new cross-sector partnerships like the Global Partnership for Zero Leprosy  combining expertise, we are getting closer to a world where NTDs are neglected no more.”

African Leadership in Health
Established in 2009, the African Leaders Malaria Alliance is a groundbreaking initiative, established by heads of state themselves and designed to foster collaboration in order to solve a crisis that affects the entire continent. The ALMA Scorecard empowers national leaders to battle Africa’s most devastating diseases by:

  • Providing a forum to review progress and address challenges in meeting the malaria targets.
  • Implementing a monitoring and accountability system through the ALMA Scorecard for Accountability and Action to track results, identify bottlenecks, and facilitate appropriate action.
  • Identifying and sharing lessons learned for effective implementation of national programs.

Because some NTDs are transmitted in the same manner as malaria, and shared community distributions platforms are used for both malaria and NTDs, ALMA has chosen to include NTDs in its scorecard.

“Malaria and NTDs both lay their heaviest burden on the poor, rural and marginalised. They also share solutions, from vector control to community-based treatment,” said Joy Phumaphi, Executive Secretary, ALMA. “Adding NTDs to our scorecard will help give leaders the information they need to end the cycle of poverty and reach everyone, everywhere with needed health care.”

The addition of the index happens just before the 6th anniversary on 30 January of the London Declaration on NTDs  a multi-sectoral partnership of pharmaceutical companies, donors, endemic countries and non-governmental organizations committed to control, eliminate or eradicate 10 diseases by 2020.

About Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs)
Neglected tropical diseases affect the poorest, most marginalised and most remote communities in the world. They are a consequence and cause of poverty as they thrive where access to clean water, sanitation and health care is limited. Their impact on individuals and communities can be devastating. Many of them cause severe disfigurement and disabilities. They impact on life expectancy, education and economic opportunities of affected individuals and the communities they live in.

African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)
The African Leaders Malaria Alliance (http://APO.af/ZupcNu) is a groundbreaking coalition of 49 African Heads of State and Government working across country and regional borders to eliminate malaria by 2030. They leverage collective knowledge and influence to bring about action and accountability to fight the continent’s most devastating diseases.

Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Uniting to Combat NTDs (http://UnitingToCombatNTDs.org) is a group of organizations committed to achieving WHO’s 2020 goal to control and eliminate 10 NTDs. By working together, Uniting to Combat NTDs aims to chart a new course toward health and sustainability among the world’s poorest communities. Affiliated organizations have signed the London Declaration on NTDs, which was launched on 30 January 2012.

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I profoundly Respect The Partnerships And Values We Share-Trump in Goodwill Message To African Union
January 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

-Announces Extended Visit of Secretary Tillerson in March

By Ajong Mbapndah L

President Trump recently  met with with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame during the World Economic Summit in Devos

President Trump recently met with with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame during the World Economic Summit in Devos

U.S President Donald Trump has expressed respect for the partnerships and values his country shares with Africa.

In a message to the African Union as it meets for its 30th Summit, Trump says the U.S respects the people Africa while expressing his firm commitment to strong and respectful relationships with African States as sovereign nations.

The statement issued on July 25, commends the leadership of current Chairperson Moussa Faki as it works to transform the AU into an effective institution to advance economic prosperity peace and positive outcomes for Africa.

“We are working together to increase free, fair, and reciprocal trade between the United States and African countries, and partnering to improve transportation security and safeguard legal immigration,” the statement reads.

Describing seminal Summit   issues on advancing trade and development, resolving armed conflicts, and combatting corruption as critical for the future of Africa, President Trump said the African Union could count on the support and partnership of the U.S.

President Trump said he looked forward to building on relationships established during a lunch he had with African leaders on the sidelines of the last U.N General Assembly, and the Africa Ministerial Engagements in Washington.

The statement indicates that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will travel to Africa for an extended visit in March while the President looks forward to welcoming African leaders to Washington, DC.

Prior to his return from the World Economic Forum in Devos, Trump met with incoming Chairman of the Assembly, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda . President Trump faced a barrage of criticisms in the wake of remarks attributed to him describing Africa as a shithole. A number of U.S Ambassadors serving in Africa were forced to offer explanations on the statements of the President.

This can be considered as a good start says Ambassador Omar Arouna

This can be considered as a good start says Ambassador Omar Arouna

Describing the statement as a good start, Omar Arouna a former Ambassador of Benin to the USA and Managing Partner of the US-Africa Cyber Security Group thinks that this may be the closest to an apology Africa may get from a leader who is known to double down on his statements. Arouna, who is also a Member of the Washington, DC, Mayor’s Commission on Africa believes that the size, and importance of Africa, make it difficult for the Trump administration to ignore the continent.

 

 

 

 

 

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Africa Prefers Fair Trade to Marshall Plans –Nigerian VP Osinbajo
January 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
Remarks by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, The Vice President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, at an Interactive Session Titled “Stabilizing the Mediterranean” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018
 Prof. Yemi Osinbajo-VP of Nigeria

Prof. Yemi Osinbajo-VP of Nigeria

DAVOS, Switzerland, January 25, 2018/ — Remarks by His Excellency, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, GCON, The Vice President of The Federal Republic of Nigeria, at an Interactive Session Titled “Stabilizing The Mediterranean” at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Wednesday, 24 January, 2018:

Q: How realistic is Africa replacing China as the factory of the world, how realistic is that? How do you look at the Marshall plan for Africa, is it something you think is credible?

Vice President: Let me begin with the Africa Rising narrative and all of the possibilities around Africa replacing China as the factory of the world. I think that probably is in the natural cause of things. Even now, we see that as wage costs go up in China, Africa is becoming the obvious choice for some certain industries, so it is clear that will happen and there are quite a few initiatives in that direction already; there are a few countries like Ivory Coast, Nigeria, with the development of Special Economic Zones, with partnerships coming from China.

I think those sorts of arrangements will very quickly absorb labour because obviously, you are looking at growing populations in Africa, the projections as you know are in the next 20 years or so, we are looking at the youth population… probably 70% of Africa’s population would be young people and Africa would probably about be the third largest population.

I think that the critical thing is to see that we cannot deal with this in any quick way, there are no quick fixes to this, we have got to look at this long term, because clearly there’s no way that African economies will ramp off quickly enough to be able to meet all of the expectations, especially all of the projections around population. So this is going to be a long walk and I think that it is important for all of us to see this as such.

The idea of the Marshall Plan is to me, in some sense, bringing old solutions to what really is a dynamic problem. I think that what Africa needs and what a lot of the southern neighbours of the Europeans need are fairer trade policies and a cocktail of policies that centre on job creation in those locations, more investments, but I think more thinking through those ideas and policies that creates more opportunities, partnership between Europe and Africa.

I don’t think that aid has worked through the years. I think that there’s a need for possibly just much more commitment to the whole process. I mean there have been multi-processes, several of them, but I certainly think that if we look at this as a major global problem and when you look around and look at extremism, terrorism and all of the various things that are exported along with illegal migration, it is a global problem and we really does deserve a global solution and the way to look at that is by coming together to reason these things through, but frankly it is not by those Marshal Plans off the shelf, I think it is more nuanced than that.

Q: Do you feel that values of human rights are being compromised in order for Europe to have tactical immediate solutions?

Vice President: I certainly agree that it was a great shock to see actual slave dealings in this century; it was absolutely horrifying to see that. What we are seeing is a degeneration of criminal activities where you find that state capacity is unable to maintain international human rights norms.

One of the crucial things is to encourage repatriation. Nigerian government for example is working with the Libyan government in repatriating everyone who is in the camps. It is a slow process because there are those who claim nationalities because they see a way out of the camps. There is also a great deal of willingness on the part of those who are in the camps to go back because it is entirely voluntary. There is pressure where there is no state capacity or inadequate state capacity to maintain law and order and international human rights norms. The pressure is a bit too much for the Libyan authorities, so what you find is that the criminal gangs and all of these asymmetric type organizations dominate the space and we may not be able to do much without relieving the Libyan authorities of a lot of the illegal migrants in their custody or their country.

Q: With a Yes or No, 5 years from now, are we still going to be seating here having the same discussion?

Vice President: Would you give us a chance to say, “I hope not?” (Laughter). I really suspect yes.

*Courtesy of Laolu Akande,Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity),Office of the Vice President

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Economy has improved-Gambian leader Adama Barrow
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Kebba Jeffang

President Adama Barrow

President Adama Barrow

The Gambian president Adama Barrow said the country’s economy has done well in his first year administration of the West African state.

In December, last year, the Finance Minister Amadou Sanneh told deputies that the government had inherited the sum of D56 billion dalasis.

Reacting to this, the President has today described it as ‘staggering issue.’

“It’s about 120 to 125% of our GDP. That is very serious. But I think for the past one year we have worked very hard to see that we stabilize our economy. Donors like the World Bank, European Union and other institutions have helped us to stabilize our economy in the form of grant and budget support,” he said

He said his government had inherited less than one month import cover compare to now when they have four months import cover. That is very good.

“The lending rates also has gone down, borrowing has gone done. In combine, this is helping our economy because it has gone down by 12%.  Also our income has increased because the traffic at the port which has increased as well. I think we are on the right track,” Barrow said.

He said this in an interview conducted by Kebba Jeffang at State House in Banjul, on December, 24th

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Refugee Settlements To Be Transformed Into Digital Communities For Long-Term Economic Growth
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments

Mastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Power Africa Initiative Announce Powerful New Public-Private Coalition

Davos, Switzerland – January 24, 2018 – Mastercard and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today announced the launch of a public-private coalition that will bring together technology, solutions and experience from multiple sectors to transform refugee settlements into digitally-connected communities. This commitment delivers on a vision laid out in research conducted last year by Mastercard to better understand the critical needs of the over seven million refugees living in camps or settlements today.

The coalition, led by Mastercard and USAID’s Power Africa initiative, will launch pilot programs during the first half of 2018 to address some of the biggest barriers to development. For example, mobile phone and internet access is as critical to refugees’ safety and security as food, shelter and water. The organizations will work together to introduce internet and mobile connectivity, access to clean, efficient energy, and digital financial tools for communities in Kenya and Uganda, with plans to scale to other refugee-hosting countries around the world.

In addition to Mastercard and Power Africa, organizations participating in the coalition include: AccentureAcumenBRCKDanish Refugee CouncilEnergy Peace PartnersFenix InternationalGSMAThe Innovation VillageLutheran World FederationMercy CorpsMicrosoftMoving Energy InitiativeNetHopeNorwegian Refugee CouncilOff-Grid ElectricPawamePowerGen Renewable EnergySolarKioskTent FoundationUSAID Global Development LabU.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and MigrationVecna Cares Charitable Trusts, and World Vision.

“We’ve spent the past several years testing and learning with our partners to take what we do well as a technology company and apply it to help solve this humanitarian crisis,” said Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President, Public Private Partnerships, Mastercard. “Our payments technology has helped to reduce inefficiencies and expenses, add transparency, empower refugees, and stimulate local markets. Now we’re also acting as a force multiplier by combining our strengths with those of the coalition members to make an even bigger impact.”

Today, approximately 31 percent of the world’s refugees live in refugee camps or settlements. They are men, women and children who have fled from countries ravaged by war, political unrest and natural disasters, in hopes of a better life. But they spend an average of 10 years in exile, most often residing in low-and middle-income countries that are already under significant economic strain.

Uganda and Kenya are among the ten countries with the largest refugee populations. Uganda hosts 1.4 million refugees and is home to Bidi Bidi, currently the largest refugee settlement in the world. Kenya hosts approximately 490,000 refugees in settlements, including Kalobeyei, which was established in 2015 to improve the conditions of refugees and host communities through an economically integrated approach.

Mastercard recently published a recommendation for a new integrated model for refugee camps following a year of extensive research in the Kakuma and Kalobeyei camps in Kenya. The insights from the study helped identify the three key areas on which coalition members will focus:

  • Connectivity – Coalition members will work together to create accessible and resilient connectivity platforms that deliver vital information to refugees and host communities and enable efficient management of settlement operations.
  • Digital tools – Whether providing cash-based assistance or conducting outreach to refugees and host community members, agencies increasingly rely upon technology to effectively address needs. The coalition will work to design and implement an integrated set of identity, payment, and data tools that improve the delivery of essential services.
  • Energy access – Power is not provided in settlements as a service, so refugees often rely upon donated solar lanterns for basic light, and poor quality, expensive diesel generators for small businesses. The coalition members will implement solutions for providing energy access to refugees and host communities in a more efficient and low-cost way.

This coalition complements the UN General Assembly endorsed Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the Global Compact on Refugees, which seeks to ease pressure on host countries and enhance refugee self-reliance. UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and lead for the CRRF, welcomes innovative private-public approaches to longstanding refugee situations that advance the sustainable development agenda and the CRRF.

The Tent Foundation’s Partnership for Refugees will host the Smart Communities Coalition website, enabling additional companies to join the effort to tailor their services to meet refugee and host community needs, a focus area for Tent. Mastercard joined the Tent Partnership in 2016, and this coalition is an extension of its pledge to explore better ways to integrate refugees in host communities.

Louise James, Managing Director, Accenture Development Partnerships:

“Accenture is proud to be a coalition member and to support the mission of this group. Our main goal is to help refugees have the connectivity they require through access to mobile phones and the internet. Connectivity will expand refugees’ access to critical vocational, health and safety information and services.”

Sherwin Das, Managing Director, Energy Peace Partners:

“Energy Peace Partners is pleased to be part of the Smart Communities Coalition and excited to leverage our Peace Renewable Energy Credit (PREC) instrument to drive new renewable energy investment in some of the world’s most fragile settings.”

Lyndsay Handler, CEO, Fenix International:

“Fenix is committed to providing affordable energy products and inclusive financing to the hundreds of millions of people in Africa living without access to the grid. We are proud to partner with the Smart Communities Coalition to find innovative technology and customer experience solutions to overcome the barriers of delivering clean energy and other life-changing products to this population.”

Lennart Hernander, Program Representative, Lutheran World Federation:

“LWF is proud to work with so many dedicated and professional partners in the ‘Smart Communities Coalition’. LWF has supported refugees in Kakuma for more than 25 years. We were among the first few partners present on the ground when the ‘Lost Boys’ from Sudan started to arrive.  We see the ‘Smart Communities Coalition’ as a major step towards a future-looking and integrated solution for refugees and local communities, which through connectivity and renewable energy will provide new opportunities for all. The Smart Communities Coalition approach empowers communities in a dignified and accountable manner, this is at the very core of LWFs vision and objectives globally.”

Neal Keny-Guyer, CEO, Mercy Corps:

“At Mercy Corps, we have long held the belief that to solve complex problems, we need to work together across sectors – public, private and nonprofit – to bring to bear our collective knowledge to design bold solutions. We’re thrilled to be a founding member of the Smart Communities Coalition and hopeful about the possibility to bring needed technology and other services to refugee settlements.”

Ben Good, Project Director, Moving Energy Initiative and CEO, Energy 4 Impact:

“The Moving Energy Initiative believes that a paradigm shift in the way humanitarian sector “does energy”, including new types of partnership with the private sector, can create major benefits for the environment, for the agencies and for displaced persons.  And, as it is with energy access, so it is with connectivity and the digital economy. We are therefore delighted to be partnering with the Smart Communities Coalition.”

Lauren Woodman, CEO, NetHope:

“Internet connectivity is a lifeline that connects refugees to information, resources, and opportunities. Put simply: Information is aid.”

Neil Turner, Kenya Country Director, Norwegian Refugee Council:

“Offering refugees increasing livelihood opportunities, unleashing their entrepreneurial skills, and creating environmentally friendly, energy efficient ways of doing this, is at the heart of the NRC’s work in Kenya.”

Xavier Helgesen, CEO and Co-Founder, Off-Grid Electric:

“We have long been a proud partner of Power Africa, and are thrilled by the opportunity to use our technology and experience in Africa to serve refugee communities with affordable & reliable power.”

Maurice Parets, CEO, Pawame:

“Pawame is a social enterprise distributing solar home systems in Turkana County, where Kakuma refugee camp is located. We launched our operations in September 2017 and Pawame is committed to creating jobs by distributing its solar home system, empowering the lives of refugees and reducing the carbon footprint. Through our solar home systems, which provide lighting, phone charging and television, we will empower refugees with increased energy access.”

Andreas Spiess, CEO and Co-Founder, SolarKiosk:

“SOLARKIOSK is thrilled to be one of the founding members of the Smart Communities Coalition. We look forward to enabling our solar powered infrastructure, the E-HUBB, to become an integral part of the Coalition’s mission to bring renewable energy and economic generating opportunities to refugee and host communities.  With a network of over 200 E-HUBBs across Africa and Asia, experience with refugee and host communities in the Middle East and over five years of know-how in providing retail products and energy services to underserved markets, SOLARKIOSK can greatly contribute to the transformation led by the Coalition.”

Paul Amendola, Executive Director, VecnaCares:

“VecnaCares is excited to be a member of the coalition. Our goal is to develop and deploy an electronic medical records system and CliniPAK to help close the information gaps between patients, caregivers, and decision-makers. Digital patient-centered data in real-time will impact and improve patient health, clinical treatment, and medical resources for refugees.”

Kevin Jenkins, President and CEO, World Vision International:

“The Smart Communities Coalition represents the positive shift in how private and public partners are working together to address growing humanitarian needs, especially in refugee settings. As part of the Smart Communities Coalition, World Vision will work with our partners to identify technologies and approaches that will expedite the delivery of services to reduce the vulnerabilities of children and build self-reliance for their families, particularly in fragile and conflict contexts.”

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Next Einstein Forum launches survey to measure gender gap in STEM education and research in Africa
January 24, 2018 | 0 Comments
Female NEF fellows

Female NEF fellows

KIGALI, Rwanda, 24 January 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA) – The Next Einstein Forum (NEF), an initiative of the Africa Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with Robert Bosch Stiftung, today announces the launch of an important survey that hopes to measure the existing gender gap in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) education and research in Africa.

The survey results will be announced through a report released at the NEF Global Gathering 2018 to be held 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. Further, the results will inform a White Paper to be unpacked during the highly anticipated panel on bridging the gap for women in science and technology to be held on the first day of the NEF Global Gathering 2018.

“The NEF and our AIMS Women in STEM (AIMSWIS) Initiative are committed to promoting scientific excellence and gender equity. We believe the two go hand in hand, improving scientific output and outcomes. We have launched this survey to get a better understanding of what barriers exist and what best practices can be adopted organically to advance gender equity in STEM education and research on our continent,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Chairman of the NEF.

Questions will focus on participants’ academic journey and work experience including the opportunities and barriers faced along the way. The results will be compiled in a report which will provide much needed primary data to inform discussion and recommendations among policy makers, academic institutions, funding partners and civil society.

Central to the NEF’s vision of propelling Africa onto the global scientific stage, the NEF actively works to increase women’s representation in STEM fields in Africa and globally. Leading by example, NEF Fellows and Ambassadors cohorts comprise at least 40% women.

To participate in the survey, click here. The first 100 completed surveys will receive a participation prize.

Launched in 2013, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The NEF is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally. The NEF believes that Africa’s contributions to the global scientific community are critical for global progress. At the centre of NEF efforts are Africa’s young people, the driving force for Africa’s scientific renaissance. The NEF is a unique youth-driven forum. At our headline biennial scientific events, 50% of participants are 42 or younger. Far from being an ordinary science forum, the NEF Global Gatherings position science at the centre of global development efforts. The next NEF Global Gathering will be held on 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. In addition, through our Communities of Scientists, we showcase the contributions of Africa’s brilliant youth to Africa’s scientific emergence through its class of NEF Fellows, who are Africa’s top scientists and technologists under the age of 42, and NEF Ambassadors, who are the NEF’s 54 science and technology ambassadors on the ground.

The NEF is also working together with partners such as the African Academy of Sciences, Ministers’ of Education, Science and Research across Africa, foundations and other global scientific and private sector companies, to build an African scientific identity. By bringing together key stakeholders, the NEF hopes to drive the discussion from policy to implementation by leveraging buy in and best practice results from Africa and the world. Have a look at our benchmark Dakar Declaration.

Finally, the NEF is telling untold stories of scientific research and innovation across the continent through our various platforms. We want to recalibrate what ‘innovation’ means in Africa. We want to make the link between science and technology, even basic sciences, to everyday life. We want the public involved in science and we have recently concluded the first coordinated Africa Science Week – an annual three to five day celebration of science and technology through coordinated science events across the continent. We believe the next Einstein will be African.

The NEF has been endorsed by the African Union Commission, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Governments of Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and a growing number of private sector and civil society partners from across the world who are passionate about positioning Africa’s scientific community as an influential member in the global scientific community, which will ensure sustainable human development in Africa and other parts of the world.

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