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UNGA 2019: Hands off our girls! African first ladies take campaign against rape, early child marriage, to UN General Assembly
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

New York, New York 27 September 2019 –Africa’s first ladies, led bSierra Leone Fatima Maada Bio brought their campaign to ban early child marriage and sexual violence against women and girls before a global stage in a passionate appeal for the world to support their “Hands Off Our Girls! Campaign.

In a no-holds barred conversation organized on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Wednesday, Bio flanked by her husband President Julius Bio, spoke to “lift the lid of silence” taboo and stigma surrounding rape and early marriage in Sierra Leone and other parts of the continent.

The high-level meeting was organised to rally support for the end of early marriage and rape in Africa, a movement which the Bios have spearheaded.

This year’s General Assembly has been dominated by delivery of the sustainable development goals, of which number 5 is Gender Equality.

In brief opening remarks, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina spoke out forcefully against all forms of early marriage and said the economic empowerment of women is a critical tool to end the vicious cycle of marginalization and gender imbalance.

“That’s why the Bank is raising $3 billion to support women,” Adesina said, referring to the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women In Africa (AFAWA) initiative.

“Early marriage is not only a human rights abuse it is an economic issue,” Rachel Yates, Executive Director of Girls Not Brides, said.

Sharing intimate personal details, Maada Bio, recounted her personal story of running away from an arranged marriage to an older man in her early teens. Aided by an older sister, she took a flight out of her native Sierra Leone to the United Kingdom – without her father’s knowledge or permission. “I come from a family where girls are married at 12 years,” she said.

Three months later from the safety of the UK, her resolve was set.

“From that moment I vowed that I would not see a child being abused,” she said.

President Bio, responding to a question on how deeply set cultural mindsets could be changed, said it would take patience and persistence. “We have to leave some aspects of culture behind. We have to establish institutions and cascade our campaigns down across the entire country.

Sierra Leone has one of the highest incidences of rape and sexual assault on the continent. In February, President Bio declared a state of emergency due to the high incidences of rape.

Other prominent first ladies at the event included Jeanette Kagame of Rwanda, Clar Weah of Liberia, Antoinette Sassou Nguesso of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the first lady of Zimbabwe, Auxilla Mnangagwa, and Ermine Erdogan, first lady of Turkey.

Speaking passionately in support of her “Sierra Leonean sister,” Weah said it was time to collectively say no to abuse. “We renew our commitment to create a safe world for our girls in Africa. We entreat all presidents and heads of states to join us,” she said.

Ermine Erdogan, an ardent advocate against child marriage in Turkey and who made a special appearance to support the event, said the key to the empowerment of women was education.

“There is no excuse for early marriage. The place for a school-going child is school,” she said.

Other voices in support of the first ladies included Djereje Wordofa, UNFA Deputy Executive Director who said protection of girls and women and preventing abuse must become a national  priority.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organisation said it was a subject he dreaded but had to talk about. “Child marriage reinforces poverty…It is totally unacceptable.

We must speak out against political, religious and social practices,” he said.

Since his election to office in 2018, President Bio has strongly advocated against early marriage and has tightened legal and policy frameworks for sexual offenders and rapists. The campaign is gaining traction and has been endorsed across the continent with the support of the African First Ladies.

The High-Level meeting follows a First Ladies Meeting on Combatting Child Marriage and Promoting Education of Girls in West Africa, which took place in Niamey in Niger on the Margins of the Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State of the African Union.

“Every time I get the opportunity, I say the fight against early marriage is not a political statement, it is a personal one. We need help,” Maada Bio said.

*AFDB

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UNGA 2019: Young Africans will “produce the magic” says AU chief as the UN sounds warning on Sustainable Development Goals
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
Albert Muchanga, the African Union’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry,

United Nations, New York, 26 September 2019 – Leaders should devise an “incentive structure” to promote a startup culture among young Africans. “I think they will produce the magic,” Albert Muchanga, the African Union’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, told a gathering on infrastructure at the United Nations on Wednesday.

Muchanga said colleagues were working to “harmonise our policies, rules and regulations” to smooth cross-border trade while focusing on the next generation.
 

“We’re not leaving the youth behind. We’re promoting startups among African youth. Because we know that if we localise knowledge and innovation, then we’ll be able to spearhead the process of sustainable development,” said Muchanga.

The meeting, called Promoting Innovation and Infrastructure Development: A Pathway for Boosting Manufacturing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, was part of the UN-designated Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III).

United Nations talks on goals to end poverty, inequality and other global ills wrapped up on Wednesday, amid concerns that global efforts were being derailed by climate change, conflicts and violence.

Event organisers said that investment in African infrastructure was $63 billion in 2016, representing 3.5 per cent of the continent’s economy. More than 42 per cent of that funding came from national governments.

Africa needs “massive investment” of between $68-152 billion this coming decade, or between 3.1 and 6.9 per cent of the continent’s economy, for building infrastructure and to ensure sustained growth, organisers say.

African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina warned that the continent was moving backwards and urged executives to produce more high-value manufactured products instead of exporting raw materials.
 

“Unfortunately, Africa today is de-industrialising, and there is no region of the world that has actually created wealth without industrialising,” said Adesina.

“Infrastructure is critical. Ports, rail, digital infrastructure, all those things are going to be very critical. That’s our bread and butter every day at the African Development Bank, connecting Africa and achieving the goal of African unity.”

The Bank has invested more than $150 million in building technology hubs in Rwanda, Senegal and Cabo Verde. The institution also runs collaboration and mentorship schemes to bring African entrepreneurs and investors together.
 

In a pre-recorded video, United Nations secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the “winds of hope are blowing across” Africa as economists from across the continent addressed raising cash for building roads, power plants and other infrastructure.

Guterres said the emergence of free trade areas across the continent offered “concrete opportunities for economic transformation”.

“Yet, challenges remain. Despite progress, new policies are needed to unleash the full potential of industrialisation, especially in this time of technological revolution,” Guterres said.
 

Acknowledging the “wide recognition that we are off track to achieve the goals by 2030,” UN’s deputy secretary-general Amina Mohammed said there had been a “clear renewal of commitment by leader after leader to implement the 2030 agenda” and that the two days of talks in New York marked a “turning point” in achieving the targets.

“This is absolutely critical to respond to challenges that affect all countries – poverty, gross inequalities, discrimination against women and girls, climate change, and a rapidly deteriorating natural environment,” said Mohammed.

The 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were launched by the UN’s 193 member nations in 2015 in a bid to tackle conflict, hunger, land degradation, gender inequality, climate change, and other global ills, by 2030.

*AFDB

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Gambia: Coalition 2016 Stakeholders Extends Barrow’s Mandate to 5 Years
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

ByBakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow will now serve a full term

Stakeholders of Gambia coalition 2016 government have extended the mandate of President Adama Barrow from the three year transitional agreement to the five year Constitutional mandate.

Coalition 2016 is a group of seven opposition political parties and one independent candidate  that oust the former President Yahya Jammeh from power in December 2016 presidential election thus paving ways for President Adama Barrow to take the mantle of leadership of the country.

It has promised Gambians of 3 years transitional government that will embarked on essential reforms that will put the country on a strong democratic footings contrary to the 22 years dictatorship of former President Yahya Jammeh and AFPRC/APRC regime.

 A group of concern Gambia called three years jotna has threaten to hold a massive protest in December to demands President Barrow to honor his campaign promised and step down after three years as agreed by coalition stakeholders. However Barrow told a political rally in Brikama that he is going to stay till 2021 either anyone like it or not as he is empower by the Constitution.

On Friday,  parties that take part in the decision making to extend president Barrow mandate includes  Peoples Progressive Party (PPP),  the National Reconciliation Party (NRP)  Gambia Moral Congress, Gambia Party for Democracy and Development and independent candidate, however  the United Democratic Party (UDP) and People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) were not present at the meeting.

After the closed door meeting among stakeholders mention,  Fatoumatta Jallow Tambajang, Chairperson of Coalition 2016 has told waiting journalists that they have agreed to  extend  President Adama Barrow’s mandate from three years transitional agreement to five years Constitutional mandate.

 She explained that the decision to extend the mandate of the president was reached at a meeting hosted by the Coalition 2016 Stakeholders in Banjul today.

“We (Coalition Stakeholders) have agreed this morning to extend the mandate of President Adama Barrow from 3 years initial agreement to 5 years. We come to the decision so that the president and the government can have the opportunity to finish the various reforms processes sponsored by our partners such as the UNDP, EU, and AU among others. It is the president’s social legitimacy to finish these reform processes that are currently going on in the country,” Said the Coalition 2016, Chairperson.

She added: “Am calling on all Gambians to come together and give chance for the completion of these reform processes. This government started the journey in a very difficult situation, there was nothing in the coffers and it has to run helter shelter to look for funding in order to start this reform processes that are already on.”

Madam Tambajang who also served as the first Vice President of the Coalition 2016 government before being sacked by President Adama Barrow in late 2017, said all the Coalition 2016 Stakeholders attended the meeting with three representatives from each political parties that formed the Coalition.

She said it was only the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) who did not attend the meeting hosted today in getting to this decision, adding that the two political parties have expressed their withdrawal from the Coalition discussion sometime back.

She said Coalition 2016 Stakeholders will continue to engage both the United Democratic Party (UDP) and People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism (PDOIS) on the decision reached today.

Tambajang also revealed plans to engage every Gambia on the decision taken, noting that 3 years Jotna movement members will be engaged too in the national quest to maintaining peace, unity and understanding in the country amidst fears that December will be characterized with protests hope to be organized by the members of the 3 Years Jotna movement. 

The extension of President Adama Barrow’s mandate by the Coalition 2016 will give him the opportunity to stair the affairs of The Gambia till 2021 when the country is expected to go for election.

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Kenya, Morocco tops the list of Africa’s avocado exporters
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
A trader selling avocados at Kangemi market in Nairobi. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO| NMG

By Samuel Ouma |@journalist_27

Five months after Kenya struck a trade deal with China to export avocados to the Asian country, the East African country has been ranked third in the world in for the fruit exporting.

 Kenya is trailing Colombia and Morocco according to a 2019 half year survey disclosed at the ongoing World Avocado Congress in Medellin Colombia. The survey named Colombia number one country globally when it comes to fastest avocado export followed by Morocco and Kenya completed the list of top three nations.

The 2019 survey shows that Kenya is on the right path in avocado farming. In a 2018 study, it emerged 7th in the list of leading exporters of avocados. Kenya was beaten by Mexico, Netherlands, Peru, Spain, Chile and USA.

Kenya is also represented at the Congress by delegates led by Governor Mwangi Wa Iria and it is set to submit its bid seeking to host the global conference in 2023. Central Kenya County, Murang’a is the largest producer of coffee as farmers across the country are encouraged to diversify agriculture by growing high value crops such as avocado.

“Colombia is among the fastes growing exporters . Touring avocado farms and learning from a three-day conference will equip us with strategies on growing of this fruit,” said one of the Kenyan delegates attending the summit.

China, US and Europe are the destinations of Kenya’s avocados.

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Gambia:APRC says ‘government white paper is a selective justice’
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
Fabakary Tombong Jatta

By Adama Makasuba

Former ruling APRC party has criticized the published government white paper on the Commission of Inquiry to look the financial dealings of former president Yahya Jammeh and his close associates, describing it “selective justice”.

In a press conference in Talinding, the party’s interim leader Fabakary Tombong Jatta said: “the commission of Inquiry made recommendation to government. Government on its own decided that this one we are not accepting and this one we are accepting. Then why do we have to set up commissions in the first place.”

He described government decision on the commission of inquiry’s report as a ‘selective justice’ as he said after the commission’s recommendation to the government that  the government decided to punish some people and left out others.

He blamed the government for rejecting the commission of inquiry’s recommendation on the chief protocol officer at the presidency,  Alagie Ousman Ceesay, who he said is accused by the commission’s report to had being a signatory to some the accounts of the first lady (former first lady Zainab Jammeh) and that he had received over 2 million dalasi.

“And very little about Buba Demba, about Bori Colley about others and the government said they are not going to accept the report on the COP (chief of protocol) Alagie (Ousman) Cessay, but accepted the report on (Buba) Demba, Bori (Colley) and others who seem to be APRC and they are not part of the government, selective justice openly, “he said.

According to him, any commission established to investigate the transition ‘illegal’ adding that anyone who violates the constitution should be subjected to ‘impeachment.’

He said that the Barrow government had already concluded accusing  the APRC guilty even before the establishment of the commission of Inquiry and Truth Reconciliation and Reparation Commission, adding that despite the President being the president of the Gambia but that “but he has not proven that by his actions.”

He said APRC’s doubt has been since the onsets of the commissions“that the Barrow government has already passed judgment against former president Jammeh” adding that the Commission of Inquiry and Truth Commission “were create to lend flesh to their already passed judgment all cost.”

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Sierra Leone : Sierra Leone’s Anti-graft body files 2nd indictment against former Master and Registrar and four others
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
The current Head of ACC Francis Ben Kaifala

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Sierra Leone’s  Anti-graft agency , the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) has in a statement on Wednesday said it has  filed a 2nd indicted against the former Master and Registrar of the High Court of the country.

According to the ACC, on 23rd September 2019, filed an indictment against Stephen Yayah Mansaray , former Master and Registrar of the High Court of Sierra Leone; Richie Edwin Asgil, former Principal Accountant in the Judiciary; Adele Faya, former Account Clerk of the Judiciary; and Clarence SSolomon Will , a Legal Assistant at a Law Firm in Freetown; on various counts of Misappropriation of Public Funds, contrary to Section 36(1); and Conspiracy to Commit a Corruption Offence, contrary to Section 128(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 2008, respectively.

‘’Stephen Yayah Mansaray and Richie Edwin Asgil were the signatories to the Judiciary’s Master and Registrar’s account domiciled at the Bank of Sierra Leone. On diverse dates, between June 2014 and May 2018, both accused men, conspired with others to sign a number of cheques through which they authorized the withdrawal of funds from the aforementioned account for their personal benefit or for other unjustified purposes,’’the release stated.

 The release further stated that similarly, Adele Faya, former Account Clerk of the Judiciary, also instructed the encashment of various cheques from the same account, and misappropriated these monies adding that Clarence Solomon Will, a Legal Assistant at Bah & Co., a law firm in Freetown, also on diverse dates between 25th April, 2018, and 14th March, 2019, conspired with unknown persons, to misappropriate public funds by illegally facilitating the encashment of cheques from the Judiciary’s account.

The ACC said all four accused persons misappropriated the total sum of Four  Hundred  and  Sixty Million , Two Hundred  and  Ssixty -Eight  Thousand, and  Two Hundred Leones (Le460,268,200/00) from the Judiciary’s Master & Registrar Account domiciled at the Bank of Sierra Leone.

 All accused persons are expected to appear in the High Court holden at Freetown on Monday 30th September 2019. 

 ‘’The Commission wishes to reassure the general public of its continued resolve to fight acts of corruption at all levels and at all times in Sierra Leone,’’the ACC release ended.

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Gambian Soldier confesses to killing April 10\11 student demonstrators
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

Gambian Soldier confesses to killing April 10\11 student demonstrators

By Adama Makasuba

Abdou Njie a Gambian soldier has became the first security personnel to accept his responsibility to the killings of April 10\11 student demonstrators in 2000. The killings are said to have happened in Brikama Ba.

Mr. Njie, 49, told the Truth of Inquiry during testifying on Thursday that: “I killed them; I accept that I killed them. You know when the tension is high is not nice for me to say that I kill but I killed them, I do not denied I killed.”

He added that: “I cannot deny that I killed because I shot live bullets, but they way I did it is the way I can narrate it.”

The students who were killed on the demonstration in Brikama Ba included Ousman Sabally and Sainey Nyabally and dozen others injured.

At the beginning of his testimony, he claimed before the truth commission that on April 10 in 2000 that he fired live bullets in the air after as he said after his rubber bullets got finished, adding that he later heard people say some students had been killed.

Meanwhile, he said before they were deployed to counter the demonstration in 2000, he said each of them were giving a rubber bullets and lives bullets.

 He added that he fired over 31 live bullets, adding that each of the soldiers deployed on to the demonstration ground were giving over 30 lives bullets.

However, Njie rejected allegations that he was the only soldier who shot, as he said all the soldiers on the demonstration ground in Brikama Ba had shot at the April 10\11 students demonstrators.

 He said that the students were pelting stones at them and setting tyres ablaze on the highway, but he said that they were ordered to disperse the demonstration.

It is 19 years since the tragedy incident of April 10\11 students’ demonstration happened. The students were demanding justice for their colleague who is alleged to have died as a result of tortures inflicted on him by personnel of the Gambia Fire Service.

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African scientists map the genomic resources of the continent
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Up to 300 African scientists have converged in Accra, Ghana, this week to map out progress of a multi-million, multi-country and multi-year genomic research programme to increase understanding of how human genes and the environment are contributing to Africa’s increased susceptibility to diseases.

The scientists, who are members of the Human Heredity and Health in Africa (H3Africa) consortium, a major genomics research programme established in 2010 by the African Society of Human Genetics (AfSHG),  Wellcome Trust and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), have made significant progress in using genetic, clinical and epidemiological tools to identify individuals and populations who are at risk for developing specific diseases. The hope is to contribute to efforts to reduce Africa’s high disease burden, which stands at 25 % of the global figures [World Bank]. The scientists will be presenting their findings at the 14th H3Africa Consortium meeting taking place in Accra from 23-27 September 2019 and will be opened by a representative from Ghana’s Ministry of Science and Technology.

Over the last 7 years, H3Africa investigators have been examining the relationship between genetic variation, environment, and health in African populations.  Genome scale data has been generated for over 50,000 research participants from across Africa.  These data will provide a clearer and more detailed understanding of the genetic diversity of Africans and new insight into the history of human migration in Africa.  It also has the potential to reveal some of the small differences in our genes that are influential in determining what makes Africa more susceptible or resistant to certain diseases and that can impact disease outcomes and response to treatment.
Genomic research also offers the potential to better understand diseases endemic to Africa that remain understudied because human genetics research has been concentrated on European populations, under representing individuals of African ancestry.
 Some of the findings from H3Africa include:

  • Bacteria in the noses of children differ between those who do and do not develop pneumonia, even before pneumonia develops, and that air pollution influences these bacterial communities.
  • Hypertension is highly prevalent in eastern and southern Africa and even though many take medication, their hypertension is not always properly controlled.

These and other findings will enable early and more accurate diagnosis, the development of new drugs and potentially, personalised medicine, a modern approach that recognises that individuals respond to treatment differently and tailors care to a specific individual or population to ensure they get the right treatment and the right dose at the right time.

“Some diseases are more prevalent and devastating on the African continent than in the rest of the world. Mapping the genetic diversity of Africans by H3Africa researchers will help us to understand why this is. Further Africans are also protected against other diseases seen in other continents and it is important to understand this. Health care needs to be targeted not a one size fits all.” said Dr Michelle Skelton, Principal Investigator, H3Africa Administrative Coordinating Centre.
The programme has also been very successful in building infrastructure and training a critical mass of highly skilled genomics researchers of close to 800 PhD, master’s and bachelor of science students in the field.

“With genomics, we can learn more about ourselves—why some diseases are more pervasive and have a more devastating impact in Africa than elsewhere in the world and how African populations respond to treatment — so we can produce products that are relevant to us, including drugs. This will go a long way in aiding efforts to reduce the continent’s disease burden and building a foundation for advances in genomics medicine and precision medicine for public health in Africa,” said AAS H3Africa Programme Manager, Dr Jennifer Mabuka. Currently, there is an ongoing global effort to apply genomic science and associated technologies to further the understanding of health and disease in different populations. However, most African countries are being left behind in this genomic revolution.  H3Africa is part of efforts to urgently close the genomics gap and widening of global and ethnic inequalities in health and economic well-being.

Further details on the 14th H3Africa Consortium Meeting
The major goals of the 14th Meeting are to:

  • Identify more opportunities for cross collaborations and opportunities between diverse H3Africa projects.
  • Develop advanced community engagement guidelines and recommendations
  • Develop a universal case report form
  • Create content toward producing a promotional Video
  • Improve skills including: Scientific Writing, Science Communication and Media Engagement
  • Finalise H3Africa Policy and Guideline Documents
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First immigrants arrive in Rwanda from Libya
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
Immigrants were escorted to Gashora Camp in the south East of Rwanda

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

First immigrants who were trapped in Libya on their way to Europe have arrived in Rwanda, where government has agreed to give them asylum.

A group of 66 immigrants mainly unaccompanied minors, single mothers and youth have landed at Kigali International Airport on Thursday midnight.

Upon arrival, they were escorted to Gashora camp, in South-Eastern Rwanda where they will be being catered for  by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR).

This group of immigrants is the first to be sent in Rwanda among 500 immigrants whom Rwanda agreed to host, in its fight against torture and slavery they were experiencing in Libya.

UNCHR says that bringing those immigrants will give them safety contrary to how they were living in Libya.

Thousands of immigrants try to cross from Africa to Europe in search of better life. Some drown in the sea or become prey to the pirates who operate in the internationals waters.

Immigrants arriving at Kigali International Airport

Data from United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees shows that 116,647 migrants and refugees reached European shores from Africa by crossing Mediterranean sea.

At least 2,275 people died or went missing as they tried to cross to Europe in 2018, leading to an average of six deaths a day.

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MAKING AFRICA TRADE EASY (MATE) “The African Diaspora linking U.S. and African businesses” HIGH LEVEL DIALOGUE
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

Washington, D.C.)- September 26, 2019–BELIEVE IN AFRICA (BIA) is honored to announce its first and largest African diaspora gathering conference called “Making Africa Trade Easy” (MATE) scheduled from October 3rd to 4th, 2019 at the prestigious Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center located at 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NE in Washington, DC 20004, USA.

“MATE is a collaborative and nonpartisan effort between the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center and Believe in Africa to unleash the African Diaspora potential as a catalyst for trade between the U.S. and African economies. This first edition aims at promoting the new U.S. Africa strategy “Prosper Africa” as well as advancing Africa’s economic integration,” said Mrs. Angelle Kwemo, Founder and Chair of Believe in Africa.

She added: “It is more importantly a platform that will allow two-way trade between African businesses and their U.S. counterparts, and therefore help strengthen mutually beneficial partnerships that create wealth, prosperity and lasting jobs on both continents.”

MATE’s program comprises a two-day trade fair, high level discussions, workshops on how to do business with U.S. agencies, a fashion show and cultural activities. We are expecting 200 selected high-level delegates from the U.S. and Africa, dozens of speakers and exhibitors and 1,000 visitors.

This year Award Ceremony will be hosted by Maureen Umeh, TV Host.

2019 Believe in Africa Awardees are:

  • H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson, African Union Commission
  • Aisha Babangida, Chairperson Betterlife for Rural Women,
  • Samba Bathily, Founder, AED Group and
  • Dr. Gloria Herdon, CEO GH Global Group.

This years speakers included:

Hon. Ramsey Day, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, US Agency for International Development, Matthew Rees, Prosper Africa Coordinator, David Weld, Senior director, Africa, Millennium Challenge Corporation, Constance Hamilton, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Africa, Oren Wyche-Shaw, Deputy Assistant Administrator, US Agency for International Development, Alison Germack, Director of Corporate Development, International Development finance corporation, Heather Lannigan, Regional director for sub-Saharan Africa, US Trade Development Agency – Access Africa, Katie Auth, Acting deputy Coordinator, Power Africa, CD Glin, President & CEO, US Africa Development Foundation, Gregory Simpkins, Senior Advisor, US Agency for International Development, Martin Ezemma, Director of International Business, Prince Georges’s County Economic Development corporation
 
African government Officials 
Hon. Lesego Makgothi
, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations, Kingdom of Lesotho, His Excellency Albert M. Muchanga, African Union Commissioner of Trade and Industry, His Excellency Ambassador Fitsum Arega, Hicham Boudraa, Morrocan Agency for Development and Export, MADIE, H.E. DHR Sergio Akiemboto, Minister of Mines and Natural Resources, Suriname.
 

Aisha Babangida will be honored with an Award at MATE 2019

Actors in the Private sector:

Angelle Kwemo, Founder & President, Believe in Africa, Andrew Gelfuso, Vice president, Ronald Reagan building international trade center, Dr. Aurele Houngbedji, senior risk management officer, international monetary fund, Jeannine Scott, Board Chair, Constituency for Africa, Leila Ndiaye, President & CEO, Institute for Global Development, Flori Liser, president & CEO, Corporate Council on Africa, Scott Eisner*, president, Africa Business Council, US Chamber of Commerce, Samba Bathily, Founder ADS Group, Prof. Landry Signe, David M. Rubenstein Fellow in the Global Economy and Development Program, Brookings Institution, Yusuf Daya, senior manager, Afrexim Bank, Dr. Edem  Adzogenu, chair, executive committee, the afrochampions initiative, Wilmot Allen, ceo, VentureLift Africa, Simon Tiemtore, chairman, Lilium capital &vista bank, Reda Rami, chairman, winvestment, Mohammed Ibrahim Jega, Chief Business Development Officer, CEO Vogue Pay, Franklin Assare*, Ghana director, oracle, Dr. Mima Nedelcovitch, Partner, Africa global , Ollowo-N’Djo Tchala, ceo, Alaffia, Albert Zeufack, chief economist, world bank, Salma Seetaroo-Bonnafoux, Ivoirienne de Nois de Cajou, H.E. Aisha Babaginda, Chairperson, Better Life for Rural Women, Rahama Wright, Shea Yeleen, Member U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa, Shehnaz Rangwalla, President, Leadership Global, Dr. Sharon Freeman, President & ceo, Gems of wisdom consulting, Mariama Camara, mariam fashion production, Tebabu essefa, founder & ceo, blessed coffee, Dr. Gloria Herndon, GH Global, Andrew Gelfuso,  Vice president, Ronald Reagan Building International Trade Center, Hope Sullivan, consultant, OIC of America, Dr. Malcolm Beech, Sr., President Africa Business League – America, Lledon Stokes, President, National Business League, Stanley L.Straughter, Chairman, African and Caribbean Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, Dr. Menna Menessi, secretary,  Ethiopian  diaspora  trust fund, Awoke Semework, President, Ethio-American Chamber of commerce, Ambassador Robin Sanders, feeds, former Ambassador to Congo, Nigeria and Ecowas, Tumelo Ramaphosa, StudcCoin , Andrew Berkowitz, Crypto Media Company, Camilla Barungi, co-funder, Alliance 4 Development, Ed Thurlow, Bination, Alex de Bryn, Founder and CEO Doshex, Tamra Raye stevenson, CEO, Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture, Kimberly Brown, phd, amethyst technologies, llc, Dr. Aunkh chanbalala, Director, Department of Science and Technology, South Africa, Adrian Gore, founder & ceo, discovery aid, Betty Adera, Betty Adera foundation

Believe in Africa (BIA) is an African Diaspora-led initiative founded by former U.S. congressional staffers and African leaders in the U.S., to empower young Africans, promote the role of the African private sector, harness the power of the African Diaspora, educate policy makers and the public about African economic growth and highlight the continent’s gradual rise in the global community.

To learn more about BIA visit www.believeinafrica.org

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Chantal Biya Foundation to benefit 50Million FCFA grant from Japan to foster care of babies
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments
Cameroon first Lady, Chantal Biya (middle) donates Christmas gifts to children at Chantal Biya Foundation (photo: prc.cm)

By Amos Fofung

The government of Japan has offered cira 50 million FCFA to the Mother and Child Centre of the Chantal Biya Foundation to improve healthcare of newborns at the center. An agreement to that effect was signed between the Embassy of Japan and the beneficiary Foundation on September 19,2019 with the Japanese Ambassador to Cameroon, Tsutomu Osawa, signing on behalf of the government of Japan and the Director of the Mother and Child Centre of the Foundation, Professor Paul Koki Ndombo, for Chantal Biya Foundation.

This was done in the presence of the Secretary General of the Chantal Biya Foundation, Habissou Bidoung Mkpatt, and Cameroon’s Ambassador to the Republic of Japan, Pierre Ndzengue.

The 50 million FCFA grant, reports hold, is within the framework of a project initiated by the Japanese embassy aimed at ensuring human security of the grass root population.

Explaining the purpose of the grant, Ambassador Tsutomu Osawa said it shall enable the Mother and Child Centre of the foundation to acquire efficient equipment to strengthen its technical capacities which will improve the care of new-borns.

Enthralled with the activities of the Chantal Biya Foundation, Ambassador Pierre Ndzengue said saving life is something very vital in any community.

He would then later congratulate the First Lady of Cameroon, Chantal Biya, and the committed staff of the Chantal Biya Foundation for their good work in reducing infant mortality.

The Secretary General of the Chantal Biya Foundation, Habissou Bidoung Mkpatt lauded the bold step taken by the Japanese government towards boosting health coverage in Cameroon and transmitted the gratitude and recognition of the First Lady to the Japanese government.

To the Director of the Mother and Child Centre of the Foundation, Professor Paul Koki Ndombo, t the grant will permit them acquire eight incubators, two phototherapy tunnels which will help them treat neonatal jaundice within hours, machine to analyze the blood of kids and an autodelfia machine to medically analyze newborn preterm babies with health complications.

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“Wirbalized” Resistance: Anglophone Cameroon Matters in Postcolonial Cameroon -2
September 27, 2019 | 0 Comments

By By Hassan Mbiydzenyuy Yosimbom*

File Picture.Prime Minister Dion Ngute holding a peace plant in Bamenda. Many are wondering if the dialogue he is leading will yield any results

“The Force of History or the History of Force: Writing Anglophone Cameroon into Cameroon History and/or Writing Cameroon History from the Anglophone Cameroon World”

The brilliance of the methodology of the Bishops’ Memo is that it is emblematic of oral storytelling, a style that flies in the face of the stolidity of the typical architecture of a novel with beginning, middle, and end. The Memo is a concert of “educated” voices that opens and closes with an epic voice that is at once omniscient and first-person plural. It recalls the immediate present of the crisis’s time but does so by reconstructing the historical pressure that generates the present. In it, the Bishop protagonists become a collective entity: that is, the masses of contemporary Cameroon, figured as historical agents with the capacity to overcome oppression; and its rousing cadence connects the story of Anglophones to a larger narrative whose historical scope stretches from the African-continental to the global. Looked at from the perspective of Wirbalized resistance, the Memo as a text illuminates the Anglophone world/problem through six functions of the epistolary technique. First, the letter functions as political bridge/barrier (distance breaker/distance maker). In conformity with their predilection for dialogue, the Bishops immediately prioritize the Memo’s function as a political bridge/distance breaker by opening the Memo with the submission that “[b]ecause of her role and competence, the Church is not identified in any way with the political community nor bound to any political system” (1). Consequently, this places her in “a uniquely privileged position to provide a balanced perspective on the current problem between the government of Cameroon and the population of significant segments of the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon” (1). To the Bishops therefore, the Memo is meant “to assist the government to seek a lasting solution to this problem and enable its citizens to live in peace and harmony” (1). The Memo’s mediatory property makes it an instrument that both connects and interferes. On the one hand, the Memo is an imperfect intercessor, calling attention to estrangement, whereas on the other hand, it is a mediator without which the government and the population of significant segments of the Northwest and Southwest Regions of Cameroon, even in the presence of each other, cannot communicate. As an intermediary step between indifference and intimacy, the Memo lends itself to narrative actions that move the government, the Bishops and the Anglophones in either direction (Altman, 1982:186). By calling attention to estrangement – “[i]n the eyes of West Cameroonians, Law No 84-1 of 4 February 1984, was incontrovertible evidence that the original intentions of our Francophone brothers and sisters were to absorb Southern Cameroon [because] [a]fter thirty-three years of union, [Southern Cameroonians] had all ended up as citizens of the Republic of Cameroon or East Cameroon” (4) – and attempting to mediate between the government and the community, the Memo is a demonstration that history is not (necessarily) written by the winners but also by survivors and that perhaps, the real Cameroon Anglophone history can also be written by Anglophone losers who refuse to lick their wounds and write self-justifications: “No matter what some self-appointed elite and spokespersons for Anglophone Cameroonians as well as government Ministers say in public, the participation of various strata of the population and the growing popularity of separatist movements among young and older members of the Anglophone community demonstrates that there is an Anglophone Problem” (4). As a form of Wirbalized resistance, the Memo’s function as a distance breaker or distance maker is an affirmation that Anglophone matters because the government cannot “dis-possess” the Anglophone cultural space, a heritage site that has developed a global resonance by attributing a demonic presence to that space. That is, Wirbalization of the Anglophone problem insists that the government cannot “dis-possess” a tangible site or subject of the past by branding it intangible and yet preserve and protect the traumatic heritage of its memory without which Anglophone history is silenced, and memory is made mute. As a bridge, the Memo affirms that the understanding of the Cameroonian world by far exceeds the Francophone understanding of the world; there is no Anglophone/Anglophone social justice without Cameroonian cognitive justice and the emancipatory transformations in the Cameroonian world may follow grammars and scripts other than those developed by Francophonecentric critical/social/political/cultural theory, and such Cameroonian diversity should be valorized (Santos, 2014: vii).

Furthermore, the Memo reveals the political confiance/non-confiance opposition. If the winning and losing of confiance constitute part of the Memo’s narrative content, the related oppositions confiance/coquetterie (or candour/dissimulation) and amitié/amour represent the two primary types of relationships captured in the Memo. These distinctions, as well as the blurring of these distinctions, are a function of the Memo’s dual potential for transparency (portrait of soul, confession, vehicle of narrative) and opacity (mask, weapon, event within narrative) (Altman 186). This explains why the Bishops assert that for almost one month “a series of unrests and violence occasioned by the strike of the Anglophone Lawyers and of the Teachers’ Trade Unions of the English Sub-system of Education have led to the loss of human life and to the destruction of property” (1). From a political confiance/non-confiance opposition the Bishops affirm that there have been flagrant abuses of human rights, a premature end to the first term of the 2016 school year and a paralysed court system in the Northwest and Southwest Regions (1). The hallmark of the political confiance/non-confiance opposition, the Bishops argue, is that the government and the striking groups have reached an impasse because the “unrests are symptomatic of a deeper unease among the inhabitants of this geographical circumscription of our nation” (1). Despite the presence of both elements of political confiance/non-confiance, the conciliatory tone of the Memo registers the writers’ desire to focus on building political confiance/candour/amour. Thus, in order to demonstrate the deep-seated nature of the absence of confidence and thus political opposition, the Bishops introduce the Memo with a succinct historical background to the Anglophone problem in Cameroon. The aim here is not to teach the government a history she knows/should know better that them. Rather, it is their way of recognizing that divergent renditions of the union between West and East Cameroon may result in larger, complementary forms of understanding in which one enriches and animates the other from separate vantage points. By narrating the 33 year history of the Republic of Cameroon from when Kamerun was a German protectorate in 1884 to 1984 when Law No 84-1 of 4th February Francophonecentrically provided for a constitutional amendment that changed the country’s name from the United Republic of Cameroon to the Republic of Cameroon thereby absorbing Southern Cameroonians not as equals but as citizens of the Republic of Cameroon or East Cameroon (3-4), the Bishops contend that Wirbalized resistance contends that our perspectives on history, especially minoritized history, also change because history as an interpretation of the past changes because it is a human created artifact. Every generation of Cameroonians will interpret the past in ways that agree with its fund of knowledge and with current social theory. History is a conversation the present continuously holds with the past and therefore will always be a work-in-progress because the “present” is continually becoming occupied by new generations and new evidence is becoming available and new ways of thinking about evidence are being developed. Most importantly, the historical background supports the Memo’s insistence that Cameroonians need to have a sense of their past or matters in order to define themselves in the world of the present. One way wonder why the Bishops chose to begin a Memo on the Anglophone problem by returning to the ruins of the past. Yet, by harking/Wirbalizing back to the charnel house of historical memory/matters, they argue that a Wirbalized Anglophone justice relevant to our global age, “must take [the most brutal episodes/matters of Cameroon history] as a starting point, and build an ethically sound and politically robust conception of the proper basis of political community, and of the relations among communities” (Held, 2004: 178). Minority histories in part express the struggle for inclusion and representation that are characteristic of liberal and representative democracies. Conceived in this way, “minority histories”, like the Memo, are oppositional chiefly because they are excluded from mainstream historical narratives. The Memo confirms that the Anglophone accounts of the Cameroonian past need to be absorbed into, and thus made to enrich, the mainstream of Cameroonian historical discourse.

The Memo also evokes the political writer/reader dichotomy. The Memo’s epistolary situation evokes simultaneously the acts of writing and reading, as correspondents alternate, within the same Memo, between the roles of narrator and narratee, of encoder and decoder. The readers’ consciousness explicitly informs the Bishops’ act of writing itself. The movement from the private to the public in the Memo, like in much of epistolary fiction, the Memo connotes political privacy and intimacy; yet as a document addressed to another, it reflects the need for an audience (Altman 186). As a narrative, the Memo’s narrators and narratee decode a Cameroon “of interlocking lives, projects and communities” (Held 173). By arguing that Anglophones are made up of secessionists, federalists and unitarists (5), the narrators/narratee assert that there is no “outside” – ideological, political or ethical – to the Cameroonian system/matters. In other words, whatever alienates Cameroonian interdependency, or annihilates cosmopolitan values, must be seen to be an effect of her internal dialectic – “a demonic dynamic – of the global condition itself” (Bhabha, 2007: 39). “Deadly danger to any [Cameroonian] civilization is no longer likely to come from without”, Arendt writes that “[t]he danger is that a global universally interrelated civilisation may produce barbarians from its own midst by forcing millions of people into conditions which, despite all appearances, are the conditions of savages” (Arendt, 1973: 302). As political writers writing for a political audience, the Bishops in line with the dictates of Wirbalized resistance, observe that Anglophone matters include but are not limited to marginalisation in human resource development and deployment, the treatment of the English language, the flooding of Anglophone Cameroon with Francophone administrators and workers, mismanagement of “West Cameroon” patrimony, the “Francophonisation” of the English Educational Subsystem and the Common-Law System, admissions into state professional schools and gradual erosion of Anglophone identity (6-8). Thus the “stateless” Anglophone minority represents emergent, undocumented lifeworlds that break through the formal legal language of “protection” and “status” because, as Balibar writes, they are “neither insiders or outsiders, or … insiders officially considered outsiders” (2004: 122).  Their indeterminate presence – legal or illegal – turns cosmopolitan claims of Cameroonian ethical equivalences and interrelationships into the chains of national alienage. As insider/outsiders they damage the cosmopolitan dream of a “Cameroonian world without borders” or l’humanité sans frontières by opening, in the midst of national polity, a complex and contradictory mode of being or surviving somewhere in between legality and incivility (Bhabha, 39). From a Wirbalized resistance dimension, the shifting dimensions of the inside/outside status of Cameroonian minorities frequently leads to the restriction of rights and representations in the name of say, the Anglophone enemy “within” who is seen as coming across the hegemonized Francophonecentric “border” from “without” (40). Wirbalized resistance argues that the very nature of the border has changed/is changing and “within and without are no longer territorial limits as much as they constitute complex conceptual and legal zones in the midst of the [Cameroon] political community” (40). By arguing that the government of Cameroon has been downplaying or even denying the existence of an Anglophone Problem;  Government Ministers (even those of former West Cameroon extraction) have been denying the existence of any such problem in the media and in public speeches and that government has been consciously creating divisions among the English-speaking elite, “remunerating some allies with prestigious positions in the state apparatus previously reserved for Francophones only, and repressing all actions designed to improve on the status of Anglophone Cameroonians in the union” (Memo 6), Wirbalized resistance affirms that the connection between cultural bigotry and political tyranny has been very close in Cameroon and that the asymmetry of power between the ruler and the ruled, which has been generating a heightened sense of identity contrast, are being combined with cultural prejudice or Anglophobia in explaining away failures of governance and public policy.

Christian Cardinal Tumi recently met with Prime Minister Dion Ngute and with recommendations from his own findings in the field

The Memo equally represents the here/there and the now/then political contrariety. The Memo’s narrative depends on reciprocality of writer-addressee and is charged with present-consciousness in both the temporal and the spatial sense. Through the Memo, the Bishops are engaged in the impossible task of making present both events and addressee; to do so they attempt to close the gap between their locus and the addressee’s (here/there) and create the illusion of the present (now)by oscillation between the then of past and future (Altman 187). In the Memo, one of the most important matters is the historical demonstration of the Gradual Erosion of Anglophone Identity. Describing the here/there and the now/then of Anglophone identity, the Bishops contend that “‘Anglophonism’ goes beyond the mere ability to speak or understand the English language because “[i]t speaks to a core of values, beliefs, customs, and ways of relating to the other inherited from the British who ruled this region from 1916 to 1961; [it is] ‘Anglophonism’ is a culture, a way of being which cannot be transmitted by merely learning a language” (11). Identifying contemporary political contrariety, the Bishops remind us that “Anglophone Cameroonians are slowly being asphyxiated as every element of their culture is systematically targeted and absorbed into the Francophone Cameroon culture and way of doing things” (11). To them, these include “the language, the educational system, the system of administration and governance (where appointed leaders are sent to lord it over people who cherish elected leaders), the legal system, and a transparent democratic process where elected leaders are answerable to the electorate who put them there in the first place” (11). From a decolonial perspective, the Bishops argue that “[t]he two All Anglophone Conferences (AAC I and II) of the early 1990s, the rise and popularity of the SCNC and other secessionist voices are born of the frustration of Anglophone Cameroonians of being ignored and ridiculed for asking for what they deem to be theirs by right, namely the preservation of their culture” (11). They further remind that “in his resignation letter from the post of first Vice President of the CPDM on the 9th of June 1990, J.N. Foncha cited in point 9 of the letter, as a reason for resigning, the fact that the constitution was ‘in many respects being ignored and manipulated’” (11). Foncha’s resignation confirmed Wallerstein’s postulation that a historical system, cannot be “egalitarian if it is not democratic, because an undemocratic system is one that distributes power unequally, and this means that it will also distribute all other things unequally. And it cannot be democratic if it is not egalitarian, since an inegalitarian system means that some have more material means than others and therefore inevitably will have more political power” (2000: 3). As a society in transition, debates about egalitarianism ought, therefore, to include four components: “a process of constant, open debate about the transition and the outcome we hope for; short term defensive action, including electoral action; the establishment of interim, middle-range goals that seem to move in the right direction; [and the] develop[ment of] the substantive meaning of our long-term emphases… a world that is relatively democratic and relatively egalitarian” (272-73). This explains why the Bishops end the Memo with a call for “justice for all”, insisting that “[e]very Anglophone group that has raised its voice in protest has chronicled a number of perceived injustices which either the group or the Anglophone community in general suffers” (16). To them, “[a]s long as these people, rightly or wrongly, continue to feel that they are the victims of injustice, we cannot build ‘the Island of Peace’ in Central and West Africa we have been proclaiming that we are, and we cannot develop our country without this peace either. We do not believe, in conscience, that locking up people who speak up against injustice (real or imagined) will kill dissent and bring peace” (16).

The Memo engenders the political closure/overture; political discontinuation/continuation of writing. The dynamics of the Memo’s narrative involves a movement between two poles: the potential finality of the Memo’s sign-off and the open-endedness of its being a segment within a chain of dialogue (Altman 187). However, the dialogical tone of the Memo ensures that the Bishops favor the pole political overture and continuation. Thus, as a segment in a chain of dialogue, the Bishops argue that like other historical systems, the Republic of Cameroon has reached its point of demise because small inputs are having large outputs. (Wallerstein, 1999: 1). To them, the cause of that demise is the Anglophone problem. They state very succinctly that the Anglophone Problem is five matters: first, “[t]he failure of successive governments of Cameroon, since 1961, to respect and implement the articles of the Constitution that uphold and safeguard what British Southern Cameroons brought along to the Union in 1961” (6); second, “the flagrant disregard for the Constitution, demonstrated by the dissolution of political parties and the formation of one political party in 1966, the sacking of Jua and the appointment of Muna in 1968 as the Prime Minister of West Cameroon, and other such acts judged by West Cameroonians to be unconstitutional and undemocratic” (6); third, “[t]he cavalier management of the 1972 Referendum which took out the foundational element (Federalism) of the 1961 Constitution” (6); fourth, “[t]he 1984 Law amending the Constitution, which gave the country the original East Cameroon name (The Republic of Cameroon) and thereby erased the identity of the West Cameroonians from the original union. West Cameroon, which had entered the union as an equal partner, effectively ceased to exist” (6) and fifth, “[t]he deliberate and systematic erosion of the West Cameroon cultural identity which the 1961 Constitution sought to preserve and protect by providing for a bi-cultural federation” (6). The Bishops recommend that in order to solve the Anglophone problem, the government must exercise honesty because “the former French President, Jacques Chirac, the Commonwealth, the European Union, and many others have recognised that there is an Anglophone Problem and advised that the government of Cameroon and the discontented Anglophones engage in dialogue” (13). It is only through honesty can the government avoid sowing disaster for the future, giving way to extremist tendencies in the Anglophone community born of frustration thereby looking the beast in the eye, confronting it together and overcoming it for the sake of peace and unity in Cameroon (13). Even though the Bishops declare that it is not for them to dictate to the Cameroonian people what form the government should take or what solutions should be provided for the problems we have highlighted (12); and that “the Church respects the legitimate autonomy of the democratic order and is not entitled to express preferences for this or that institutional or constitutional solution” (12), they warn that “[t]he government’s continued denial of any Anglophone Problem, and its determination to defend the unitary state by all available means, including repression, could lead to an escalation of Anglophone demands past a point of no return, and this is not something any responsible citizen would wish for their country” (13). The solution to the Anglophone problem thus requires an exercise in “diatopical hermeneutics” (Pannikar 1988: 129) or “pluritopical hermeneutics” (Mignolo, 2000: 185) because  the distance to overcome, needed for its understanding, “is not just a distance within one single culture (morphological hermeneutics), or a temporal one (diachronic hermeneutics), but rather the distance between two [the Anglophone and Francophone cultures] (or more) cultures, which have independently developed in different spaces [West Cameroon and East Cameroon] their own methods of philosophizing and ways of reading intelligibility along with their proper categories” (Pannikar 129).

*African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Urban Management Studies (CUMS)University of Ghana, Legon . The article is the second of a three part series

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