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Verve Card goes global after penning landmark agreement with Discover in New York
August 14, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

President, Payment Services, Discover Financial Services; Francis Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank; Olubusola Osilaja, Divisional Head, eBusiness, Access Bank; Martins Izuogbe, Divisional Head, Operations, Fidelity Bank; Diane Offereins, Executive Vice President, Payment Services, Discover; Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, Retail & E-Business, First Bank; and Mike Ogbalu, Divisional CEO, Verve, at the Verve Global Card Launch in New York, on Monday.

President, Payment Services, Discover Financial Services; Francis Gbenga Shobo, Deputy Managing Director, First Bank; Olubusola Osilaja, Divisional Head, eBusiness, Access Bank; Martins Izuogbe, Divisional Head, Operations, Fidelity Bank; Diane Offereins, Executive Vice President, Payment Services, Discover; Chuma Ezirim, Group Executive, Retail & E-Business, First Bank; and Mike Ogbalu, Divisional CEO, Verve, at the Verve Global Card Launch in New York, on Monday.

Verve, a leading payment technology and card business in Africa, and Discover Global Network, a U.S.-based direct banking and payment services company have sealed an agreement launching the Verve Global Card.

According to the penned agreement that took place in New York, Verge cardholders will now have the ability to use their Verve Global Cards on the Discover Global Network which provide acceptance in more than 190 countries and territories worldwide.

The deal which will greatly expand Verve’s existing suite of tailored payment products and solutions for its customers will facilitate new international and cross border transactions for the card holders who can now make payments outside Africa on the Discover Global Network.

An Interswitch digital payment company that prides itself as a pacesetter in facilitating seamless electronic circulation of money as well as value exchange in Africa, Verve now opens its customers to the world.

With the first transaction operated successfully, the Global Card, according to Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch Group Managing Director, Group Managing Director, commented on the “agreement with Discover Global Network will enable Verve to compete with other global card offerings, providing cardholders with an enhanced customer experience when transacting globally outside Nigeria.”

“Creating a solution which facilitates international payments for our consumers will help to eliminate existing barriers and simplify the process when transacting abroad.”

Holders of the Verve Classic card can still continue to freely transact as was before within Africa and can acquire the global card which according to Verve officials works worldwide and can be used for payment across Point of Sale (PoS), ATMs and online platforms in Nigeria, Africa and beyond, wherever the Discover, Diner Club, Pulse Network and Verve logos are available.

To Ricardo Leite, senior vice president of international markets at Discover, customers should be provided with the choices they want.

“It is important to us that we are working with groups around the world to extend acceptance for their cardholders…at Discover, we recognize the importance of being able to use your card of choice no matter where you are traveling,” he said.

About Verve

Verve is Interswitch Group’s innovative card scheme, offering products and solutions that enable

consumers to transact all over Nigeria and across international markets. As the first African card scheme to be recognized as a valid, globally accepted e-payment gateway, we have built a world-class value chain ecosystem that benefit from the services that we provide.

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Verve Global Card launches 1st International Transaction In New York, USA
August 13, 2019 | 0 Comments
  • Rides On Global Partnership With Discover Network
L-R: Joseph Hurley, Snr. Vice President, Payment Services, Discover Financial Services, Mike Ogbalu 111, Divisional CEO, Verve, Diane Offereins, Executive Vice President, Payment Services, Discover, and Mitchell Elegbe, Founder/GMD Interswitch Group, at the Verve Global Card Launch in New York, on Monday.

L-R: Joseph Hurley, Snr. Vice President, Payment Services, Discover Financial Services, Mike Ogbalu 111, Divisional CEO, Verve, Diane Offereins, Executive Vice President, Payment Services, Discover, and Mitchell Elegbe, Founder/GMD Interswitch Group, at the Verve Global Card Launch in New York, on Monday.

 

New York, August. 12, 2019 – Verve, a leading payments technology and card business in Africa, and Discover Global Network, the payments brand of Discover, today held an event to launch the Verve Global Card. Cardholders will now have the ability to use their Verve Global Cards on the Discover Global Network which provides acceptance in more than 190 countries and territories. This will expand Verve’s existing suite of tailored payment products and solutions for its customers.

The first transaction occurred today at Swarovski in New York City. Senior executives from First Bank, Access Bank and Fidelity Bank purchased various items from Swarovski using their Verve Global Card on the Discover Global Network.

The agreement with Discover Global Network will facilitate new international and cross border transaction capabilities for Verve Global Card customers, meeting the needs of its increasingly global customer base. Holders of the new card can make payments outside Africa on the Discover Global Network which includes anywhere Discover, Diners Club International and Pulse and affiliate network cards are accepted. Verve Global Card also delivers additional benefits to cardholders including broad reward and loyalty schemes; benefits that are available both locally and internationally.

Mitchell Elegbe, Interswitch Group Managing Director, commented on the announcement: “The agreement with Discover Global Network will enable Verve to compete with other global card offerings, providing cardholders with an enhanced customer experience when transacting globally outside Nigeria. Creating a solution which facilitates international payments for our consumers will help to eliminate existing barriers and simplify the process when transacting abroad.”

“It is important to us that we are working with groups around the world to extend acceptance for their cardholders,” said Ricardo Leite, senior vice president of international markets at Discover. “At Discover, we recognize the importance of being able to use your card of choice no matter where you are traveling.”

Mike Ogbalu III, Verve International Divisional Chief Executive Officer, also commented on the announcement saying, “The launch of the Verve Global Card, provides consumers with the ability to transact globally across the US and other countries, addressing challenges that many Nigerians have experienced while travelling abroad. Our partnership with Discover Global Network will help us to optimize the overall experience of every Verve Global card holder by guaranteeing consistent and efficient payment solutions regardless of where they are in the world”.

About Verve

Verve is Interswitch Group’s innovative card scheme, offering products and solutions that enable consumers to transact all over Nigeria and across international markets. As the first African card scheme to be recognized as a valid, globally accepted e-payment gateway, we have built a world-class value chain ecosystem that benefit from the services that we provide.

 About Interswitch Group.

Interswitch is a digital payment company of African Origin focused on providing convenience and real value for consumers. We facilitate the seamless electronic circulation of money as well as value exchange on an ongoing, real-time basis.

 We began in 2002 as a transaction switching and electronic payments processing business, building and managing payment infrastructure, delivering innovative payments solutions and driving transactions across the African continent and other international markets. We provide secure, solutions and services that facilitate convenience and real value for consumers, businesses, governments and other organizations, helping to reduce costs, improve operational efficiency and drive sustainable revenue growth.

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company issues the Discover card, America’s cash rewards pioneer, and offers private student loans, personal loans, home equity loans, checking and savings accounts and certificates of deposit through its direct banking business. It operates the Discover Global Network comprised of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation’s leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance around the world. For more information, visit www.discover.com/company.

*Source Verve. PAV will be coming up with more reporting and interviews on the launch.

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Cameroon angered by Equatorial Guinea’s Border Wall Plans
August 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Pan African Visions reporter, Amos Fofung covering border crisis between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea (photo, Amos Fofung)

Pan African Visions reporter, Amos Fofung covering border crisis between Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea (photo, Amos Fofung)

Uneasy calm reigns between Malabo and Yaounde over Equatorial Guinea’s plans to construct a border wall so as to stop Cameroonians and West Africans from illegally entering its territory.

Equatorial Guinea’s announcement comes as officials of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) regional economic bloc, of which Equatorial Guinea is a member, are encouraging the free movement of people and goods to boost economic growth in the region.

Some days ago when news broke that Equatorial Guinea was building the wall and had gone as far as erected milestones on the border near the Cameroon town of Kye-Ossi, Cameroon army chief Lieutenant General Rene Claude Meka visited the border after news spread that the neighboring state was not respecting territorial limits and was encroaching on Cameroon land to erect their wall. He said the Cameroonian army would not tolerate any unlawful intrusion.

Anastasio Asumu Mum Munoz, Equatorial Guinea ambassador to Cameroon, was called up by Cameroon’s Minister of External Relations on Thursday August 8, to respond to the intrusion accusation.

The ambassador, reports hold, said his country plans to build a wall, but that reports that the its military had installed milestones in Cameroon territory are misleading.

Equatorial Guinea has always accused Cameroon of letting its citizens and West Africans enter its territory illegally.

This is not the first time Equatorial Guinea is having problems with Cameroon over border issues. On several occasion, it has often sealed its border with Cameroon, complaining of security threats posed by illegal immigration.

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Cameroon: Hospital Director suspended following death pregnant woman and child
August 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Minister of Public Health, Dr Manaouda Malachie.

Minister of Public Health, Dr Manaouda Malachie.

The director of Kaele District Hospital, Doctor Djongmo Daissala in Mayo Kani Division, Far North region of Cameroon has been slammed with a three-month suspension from his responsibilities following the death of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

His suspension attributed mostly to negligence is contained in a communique signed by the Minister of Public Health, Dr Manaouda Malachie.

The communique suspends Dr Djongmo Daissala from his responsibilities as Director of the State institution for absence of a deontology and serious breach of professional obligations as he failed to deliver in his duties resulting to the lost of two lives which could be very much prevented.

Last weekend, a 38-year-old pregnant lady died due to lack of medical attention at the Kaele District hospital. Reports hold that she was not attended to due to absence of health personnel and finally succumbed to her labour pains.

Angered the news, the Health minister who has made it his mission to restore professionalism in the public health sector in Cameroon, took the decision to sanction the recalcitrant director.

The same communique appoints the District head of the Kaele health centre to replace him during the three months suspension period.

This is not the first time a pregnant lady in dying in Cameroon due to negligence on the part of health personnel. In 2016, Koumate Monique who was seven months pregnant with twins died at the La Quintinie hospital in Douala due to the passiveness of hospital staff who are reported to have requested down payment before she’s attended to.

 

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Kenya’s bid to have Al-Shabaab sanctioned objected
August 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma | @journalist_27

A policeman runs past burning cars at the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the Dusit hotel compound, in Nairobi, Kenya Jan. 15, 2019.

A policeman runs past burning cars at the scene where explosions and gunshots were heard at the Dusit hotel compound, in Nairobi, Kenya Jan. 15, 2019.

A group of activists and humanitarians have submitted letters to Donald Trump administration, Cabinet members and leading members of Congress seeking to block Kenya’s proposal to have the Somali based militia group Al-Shabaab be included in the global list of terrorist groups under the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1267 of 199.

They warned of the consequences of such move saying it will interfere with life- saving process in Somalia. The rebels have recently launched deadly attacks in Mogadishu among other towns with an aim to destabilize the Federal Government of Somalia, attacks which have caused several deaths and devastation of property worth millions of shillings. They also argued the listing of the group is irrelevant given that they have already in a different UN sanctions programme.

“The proposal would put the lives of hundreds of thousands at risk without discernible impact on the challenge posed by Al-Shabaab,” said the head of the Refugees International NGO Eric Schwartz.

Kenya last week through Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Macharia Kamau submitted its initiative to the UN urging the global body to include the militants in the list that contained Al-Qaeda, Taliban and ISIS saying it posed threat to her residents, East African region, African and entire world. Mr. Kamau said Kenya wants the UN to focus its attention in fighting the group which has terrorized her borders and carried a series of attacks in the East African country with the latest being Riverside Complex attack that consumed 21 lives early this year. The Al-Shabaab had pledged allegiance to both Al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“It has caused serious havoc, not just on Kenya but the region and the world in general. It is important that all global efforts now come together to combat this,” said Kamau.

The proposal which US have put on hold until August 29 risks being dismissed in case one member of the 15-nation UN Security Council formally rejects it.

 

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Burkina Faso: Christians issue SOS over attacks from foreign backed Islamist Groups
August 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Scott Morgan

Burkina Faso Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré (© ACN)

Burkina Faso Bishop Laurent Birfuoré Dabiré (© ACN)

The World was concerned during the month of May 2019 when it seemed that a Church was attacked on a weekly basis in the West African Nation of Burkina Faso. Since January of this year 20 people have been killed and several  Churches have been  destroyed by Islamist Forces that are operating in the region.

Events in the region remain fluid at best. It does appear that some of these attacks were inspired by a video recording made by the head of IS Al-Baghdadi urging attacks against French interests in the Sahel region of Africa. The incidents in Burkina Faso can be acknowledged as part of an effort to locate a new base of operations for the group.

After a month of relative quiet in Burkina Faso the alarm bells for the country have started ringing yet again. On the first of August 2019 Bishop Laurent Dabire who currently is the President of the Bishops Conference for Niger and Burkina Faso issued a call for the World to step in and stop what he called the massacres against Christians in Burkina Faso by Foreign Backed Islamist Groups. These attacks have been gradually increasing in scope since the ouster of former President Blaise Comparie in 2014. It should be noted that in his remarks that the Bishop claimed that the Islamist Militants are better armed than the Security Forces are.

The Government of Burkina Faso is doing what they can to protect Christians. On July 12th the Vatican signed an accord with the Burkinbe Government which guarantees the legal status of the Church in the country  and to collaborate on the moral, spiritual and material well being of the human person and for the promotion of the common good. Currently it is estimated that one out of every five persons of the population of 16.5 million describe themselves as being a member of the Catholic Church.

Also during a Press Conference that was held on July 31st remarks were made by the President of Burkina Faso Marc Christian Kabore that  praised the actions of his immediate neighbors in assisting in the efforts to combat terrorism that appears to be running rampant in the region. . However in a more somber statement he did say that Burkina Faso was “paying a heavy tribute” for the attacks which he stated were impeding “efforts at National Construction.” Just like in several other nations in the area Burkina Faso does suffer from High Youth Unemployment lack of Opportunity and other factors that lead to radicalization.

The situation in Burkina Faso has not been ignored by Washington either. Earlier this year the African Country was linked to the National Guard of the District of Columbia under the State Partnership Program to assist in fighting terrorism. The Country already receives assistance from the United States under the auspices of the TSCTI (Trans Saharan Counterterrorism Initiative) program.This move is just another  of several steps that are currently being undertaken by the Trump Administration to address the acute security crisis in the region.

During the week of August 6th the White House issued a Press Release stating that the President sent the name of Sandra E Clark to the United States Senate to be nominated for the position of Ambassador to Burkina Faso. Filling this position is a positive signal from the White House showing that it is aware of the situation in the Sahel and will take the necessary steps to show those on the ground that they are not ignoring the situation in the region.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sierra Leone:Former VP turns sod for the construction of Berewa Academy
August 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

The former Vice President of Sierra Leone Republic of Sierra Leone together with the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) has on Tuesday  6th August, turned the sod for the construction of the Solomon Ekuma Berewa Academy at the Mogegba, Mothaim Community, Regent, Western Rural District.

Speaking at the Foundation Mass and turning of the Solomon Ekuma Berewa Academy, former Vice President of Sierra Leone, Solomon Ekuma Berewa said, he has only  met Moses Sesay the proprietor of the school for the second time adding that his son , a father in the Catholic Church have interacted a lot with Moses whom he  spoke that he wanted to use my name in his school he wanted to build.

‘’So, my son contacts me, and of course that very area that Moses has told you about, I have a school there already at the Charlotte, named Solomon Ekuma Berewa School if you go there, you will see it there.  So as Moses came to me, I didn’t refuse and agreed instantly and told me that he wanted to turn the sod of the school on the 5th August and told him the 6th August will be my birthday and so he decided to do on my birthday.

He said he felt very proud that as a country, that we still have young people like Moses who chose to build a school instead of building a house for his family adding that he honestly admired him a lot and prayed that God help him.

‘’ Anywhere education is, I will go there, tomorrow, tomorrow, the only thing that will make this country develop is education. I travelled all over the world and I have seen it. This clique business won’t help,’’ Solomon Berewa said.

The former States man added that most young men and even some elder people that have money don’t think of the poor and needy and therefore asked the people to   pray for him for his kind heart and good intention for his people.

‘’ Just last week Thursday, I went to my town, I spent long time talking to school children and parents. I told them what the President meant by the Free Quality Education. It is very important for us to do that, as he was going. Let’s try and help the young ones’’

The former states man also mentioned about the bad state of education in the country, referencing that the girl child isn’t safe anymore.  Teachers are thieving, university lecturers sell questions, asking the crowd how long a country will as, be in this kind of state.

He however asked people to support the school and promised that from time to time he will be visiting the school and will see how best they will harness resources to develop the school.

Alpha Osman Timbo, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School (MBSSE) in his statement congratulated the Moses Sesay for his brilliant initiative as young person to see the need to invest in education.

‘’ Any thing that is done in honour of Solomon Berewa and some of us are around, we will be at the forefront to make sure that it is achieved,’’ he said, adding that he is very proud of the former states man as his commitment to serve humanity is unparallel.

He said the President Julius Maada Bio introduced the Free Quality Education to see that the country develops to change the narrative adding to make it happened we must make sure that we promote quality education.

‘’We have to empower these children to make sure that we change the narratives that would take the country forward’’

He added that the commitment that the President has made, that they have a responsibility they succeed in that area despite it has huge financial implication which he boasted they were very much prepared to make those priorities.

‘’With that I just I want to tell the community people to take the project as their own. stating that any body that will benefit from this school, this Mogegba, Mothaim community will be the first to benefit,’’ Minister Timbo stressed.

The MBBSE Minster assured the proprietor for his links to help in the building of the school.

Proprietor of the Solomon Ekuma Berewa Academy, Moses E. N. Sesay said the school will be a four-story building comprising of over 12 class rooms adding that it would cover the Mogegba community and its environs.

He said he decided to name the school, the Solomon Ekuma Berewa because he believed that the former states man is a true father of democracy stating that he deserved a lot of respect and honour.

He further said that the children that would be attending the school will not pay a cent adding that it will help in the development of the country.

‘’This has been my long dream, and my long vision, the reason why I decided to open a school is that I come from a humble background. I used to break stones to pay my fees I struggled a lot and I promised myself if I made it in life I will build a school,’’ Moses Sesay said.

He however called on the people to join him in the building of the school and to take ownership as this development will be a lasting considering the academy will be the first of its kind in that part of Freetown.

Head man Mogegba Village, Benjamin A. Sesay thanked Moses for bringing this development and promised that they will cooperate with him to see that the project become a reality.

 

 

 

 

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Sierra Leone:Legal Link Calls on IPCB to investigate allege Police brutality on Njala Students
August 8, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Njala University

Njala University

Christian Lawyers Centre, popularly known as Legal Link, a non -profit legal advocacy group has in a letter to the Chairman, Independent Police Complaint Board (IPCB) has on Wednesday 7th August ,  called on the board to mount up an independent, robust, credible and speedy investigations into allegations of Police brutality and to determine the veracity or the lack thereof of the incident which happened at the Njala University.

According to Legal Link, as an organization that defends the rights of vulnerable groups in society including students, they take the greatest exception to the unprofessional conduct of the Sierra Leone Police with respect to their handling of the entire incident at the Njala University in Bo, Southern Sierra Leone.

‘’Surprisingly also, despite the increased condemnation and outcry from the public over the video clips showcasing brutal and excessive force by the SLP, LEGAL LINK notes with utter dismay, the apparent reticence or the lack thereof by the top Management of the SLP to officially condemn this barbaric and unprofessional behaviour of subordinates over their execution of brutal and excessive force to harmless students that were merely trying to pursue a career path for a better life and future,’’ Legal Link said, adding that this outright complicity at the top is not only worrying but reveals without doubt, the degree of impunity and non-accountability that prevails within the law enforcement architecture in Sierra Leone.

Legal Link further said that Such complicity they further maintain, invites a possibility for the applicability of the principle of Command Responsibility on the leadership of the SLP to be held vicariously liable for the atrocious acts of subordinate officers against vulnerable students on that fateful day citing that various specialized trainings on the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials have been organized in time pasts by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone and the Independent Police Complaints Board to help the SLP understand how to manage such riotous situations including their application of the use of force to restore law and order.

‘’As had always been emphasized, the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials dictates that, even when provoked, the ‘repelling force to be used must be equal, reasonable, proportionate and necessary in the given circumstances. Against this backdrop, while we condemn the acts of the few disgruntled university students who reacted in uncivilized ways during the protests, we vehemently and unequivocally condemn the over-reaction of the Sierra Leone Police in unleashing brutal and excessive force over unarmed protesting students,’’ the right group noted.

The Right Group further noted that, even when the tensions had de-escalated, the callousness and unprofessionalism of the SLP became much more apparent stating that Video clips recorded by on lookers at the scene of crime show complicity and a conspicuous pattern of torture and brutal display of force even on female students.

‘’LEGAL LINK therefore wants it to be known by the government and leadership of the SLP that the right to freedom of torture as provided under the UN Convention Against Torture (CAT) to which Sierra Leone is a signatory is a non-derogable right (Edgaromnes) and a per-emptory norm of Customary International Law. This means that under no circumstances can it be justified to torture any human being in a democratic society needless to talk about women’’

The Right Group believed that all the police were mandated and required to do by law on that fateful day at Njala University was to effect arrest on all alleged rioters, investigate and charge perpetrators to court for public order offences as enshrined under the Public Order Act of 1965 for which the police decided to engage on a frolic of their own and acted outside the remits of the law by overtly torturing and executing brutal and excessive force on harmless university students, in such scale and magnitude, amounts to a violation of not only the UN Convention Against Torture, but also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, among other human rights instruments

‘’Even though Chapter 2 of the 1991 Constitution of Sierra Leone does not recognize education as a legal and justiciable right, all the above international, regional and domestic instruments nonetheless puts obligation on Sierra Leone in ensuring that the right to education is fully guaranteed within her jurisdiction. Any infraction or limitation towards the access of; and the enjoyment of this right will therefore amount to a violation of both international and domestic law’’

The group however urged  the leadership of the SLP and the government of Sierra Leone (GOSL) to take full responsibility for the excesses that have occurred, and to ensure the unconditional release of all student detainees and hold constructive dialogue with the student leadership and administration of Njala University so as to determine how victims can be medically treated and or compensated for violations of their fundamental human rights.

The Lobbying group lamented that going forward, LEGAL LINK commits itself to be publishing a quarterly Newsletter titled: ‘POLICE WATCH’ to help showcase not only the excesses within the SLP but also the good developments and success stories within the security architecture of Sierra Leone.

‘’In sum, whilst we heartily welcome the efforts of the BIO led government in prioritizing education under the New Direction agenda, we equally call on the government to show leadership by ensuring that the rights of the beneficiaries of its education agenda are protected and guaranteed within the state. This is the case because, education is an empowerment right; and no society can develop or progress beyond the level of the educational investment it accords to its citizens,’’

 

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Amos Fofung: Freedom of press starts with the government
August 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
Amos Fofung

Amos Fofung

Cameroonian journalist Amos Fofung was nominated for our Newcomer of the Year award during Free Press Live 2018. News which only reached him months after because he was in the midst of fleeing Cameroon for his own safety. Now, almost a year later he lives in the United States and shares with us his story and ideas on press freedom in Cameroon and the rest of the world.

Passion for journalism

Amos started his career as a journalist during his second year University in 2014. “I have always been fascinated with journalism because journalists don’t just tell stories, they actually make a difference and have a positive impact by telling these stories.” However practicing a passion for journalism and investigative reporting is far from easy in a country like Cameroon where there are many restrictions and threats to journalists. Amos confirms: “In my country it is common for journalists to deal with threats, intimidation and aggression on a daily basis, I actually consider that as normal here. So I definitely knew what I was getting myself in to but it didn’t scare me away at the time. If you know that what you are fighting for, it is worth it.”

Detained without charges

On February 9, 2017 the situation took a more serious turn when Amos was called down by the police to make a statement together with two other journalists. They were told they could go home after the statements but once they arrived to the station the story changed, “the police just arrested us without any official complaint or explanation” Amos explains. The next day he and the other two journalists were moved to the political capital of Cameroon Yaoundé where they would stay in a high security prison for 6 months. Amos is convinced that his extensive reporting on the Anglophone crisis, which has seen an escalation of violence in the past year, was the reason behind his arrest. “I was kept in prison for 6 months and one day they just let me go like that. No charges, nothing, only a warning to stop my reporting on the Anglophone crisis.”

Press freedom in Cameroon

Unfortunately, Amos’ story is one of many that reflect the decrease of press freedom in Cameroon. According to a report released by Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) the Cameroonian government uses an ‘anti-terror’ law installed in 2014 to constantly harass, intimidate and silence the media. If as a journalist you are charged under the 2014 ‘anti-terror’ law you can face up to 10 years or more in prison. “A colleague journalist Thomas Awah was sentenced to 11 years in prison under this law. And unfortunately there are many more who have been arrested, released, threatened and intimidated since” Amos confirms.

Government leads the way

In Cameroon threats to journalists often come but are not limited to the government. Amos believes the problem is that journalists are viewed as anti-government and spreader of fake news instead of a source of unbiased information. But an overall change in attitude towards journalists will only happen if the government leads the way. “In order for journalism to thrive the government needs to openly protect and respect it’s independent media.” Amos explains. “A good example of this we can even see in a developed country like the United States of America, where an executive openly attacked the media creating an environment where people will go as far as creating a bomb scare to media offices.” Journalists are not enemies of the government they are agents of development and “my hope is that one day journalists everywhere will be given the respect and place they deserve in society” Amos concludes.

*Source Free Press Unlimited

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Climate Change would cause losses to Agriculture, African Union Official warns
August 7, 2019 | 0 Comments
By Mohammed M.Mupenda
Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union

Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union

Agriculture in Africa is likely to experience significant production losses as the planet warms due to effects of climate change ,unless farmers practice climate smart agriculture, an African Union (AU) official said on Monday.
Increase in global temperatures and rainfall reduction due to climate change poses a serious threat to agriculture production in Africa as many farmers in Africa still practice traditional subsistence farming, Josefa Sacko, AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union, said at the Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue in Rwandan capital Kigali.
Africa is more vulnerable to climate change’s disastrous effects than others because of its high dependency on agriculture as a means of survival, said Sacko.
Actionable collaboration among farmers, policy makers, development partners and government leaders is needed for adapting African agriculture to climate change, she said.

 

According to her, much is needed to drive climate smart agriculture agenda and highlight its importance in achieving increased agricultural yield and productivity on the continent.

 

AU is working with different countries to reduce agriculture production loss along the value chains and waste to adhere to the Paris Agreement on climate change, she said.

 

The meeting that runs through Tuesday seeks to find a solid action towards adaptation of Africa’s agriculture and food systems to climate change.

 

The two-day event brings together ministers of agriculture and finance, heads of international institutions and Regional Economic Commissions, Nobel laureates, and eminent scientists to catalyze actions and financing to help address Africa’s worsening food security crisis under climate change

 

About 95 percent of the food grown in Africa is very vulnerable to adverse weather conditions such as droughts and irregular rainfall, according to Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

 

Africa is the most food-insecure region with about 20% of the population or 256 million people undernourished, according to the joint report by Regional Office for Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations and the United Nations for Economic Commissions for Africa.
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Kagame says dialogue among Africans cannot be imposed from outside
August 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Presidents Kagame (Center) holding hands with President Nyusi of Mozambique (left) and Ossufo Momade of Renamo

Presidents Kagame (Center) holding hands with President Nyusi of Mozambique (left) and Ossufo Momade of Renamo

President of Rwanda Paul Kagame said that dialogue and inclusion cannot be imposed from outside because that way cannot bear good results.

He was speaking this Tuesday during a Peace and Reconciliation accord  signing ceremony between government of Mozambique and a rebel group Renamo.

The agreement came to end decades of hostility and war between two parties that saw more than million victims.

President Kagame who was among other dignitaries attended the event in Maputo, said this successful agreement shows potentials that lie among Africans themselves.

“This achievement matters to all of us in Africa. It shows that we can find solutions to our problems, no matter how protracted and difficult. Dialogue and inclusion cannot be imposed from outside. And once consensus is reached, it can only be sustained from Within”, he said

It is not the first time that Mozambique had an agreement with Renamo. The agreement was signed in 1992 and led to multi party elections of 1994 in which Renamo participated.

Agreement failed in 2013 when Renamo was accusing government forces to attack its base in central region.

Kagame said though the first agreement didn’t work, there is no loss into trying again.

“For the people of Mozambique, today brings the promise of an end to decades of conflict and uncertainty, and the renewal of national unity and cohesion. Even if previous efforts have not succeeded, it is never a waste to give a shot to peace one more time”, he added

More than five thousands Renamo rebels will be integrated into national Army, Police  others will be reintegrated in society.

Talks between two parties come ahead of general elections in October in which Renamo will participate as a political party.

 

 

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India Agrees To Reallocate $92m Credit Facility For Roads In Gambia
August 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

 The government of India has agreed to reallocate a Line of Credit of $92 Million to The Gambia for the construction of roads and other infrastructural development projects. Top aides traveling with the Indian president revealed the news following high-level talks between President Adama Barrow and his Indian counterpart, President Shri R.N. Kovind, and their technical teams.

President Kovind is visiting The Gambia for the first time, becoming the highest level Indian official to ever visit the country. He was received at the State House in Banjul on Wednesday, 31st July 2019 by President Barrow for a tete-a-tete and presentation of protocols of agreement on the International Solar Alliance treaty.

This will open up new opportunities for collaboration between the two countries on solar energy and help in combating climate change.

“To take it forward, we are keen to implement a grant-based solar project in select villages in The Gambia,” President Kovind said.  Additionally, an MOU traditional medicine, and homeopathy, among others was signed between the two countries.

The two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to support each other in the area of development cooperation, trade, and democratization with the hope of strengthening friendly ties.

 World’s biggest, smallest democracy forge partnership

During a media briefing after the bilateral talks, President Barrow admitted that Africa’s smallest nation is indeed inspired by the world’s biggest democracy – India.

“We are a young democracy and we want to learn… I think we can learn from India,” President Barrow said. India and The Gambia, both member countries of the Commonwealth, share a longstanding friendly relation. During the historic visit, India’s President was honored with a rare privilege of addressing a Special Session of the Gambian National Assembly.

“I see no reason why we cannot conduct peaceful elections in The Gambia with a population of just 2million,” Barrow said. Some 900 million voters voted in the last election in India, in what the President described as a very peaceful environment.

President Kovind felicitated his host on his determination to foster “greater democracy and inclusive growth” in The Gambia. He lauded the steps the Gambian leader is taking towards stability and nation-building. “We reviewed the entire spectrum of our bilateral relations and discussed regional and global issues of mutual interest,” he told journalists after the meeting at the State House.

On Debt Servicing

The two leaders discussed a wide range of issues; among them was The Gambia’s “unsustainable debt” of 120 percent to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) inherited from the former regime. The Gambia currently pays 60 percent of tax to debt servicing. Last month alone, it paid over D600million, according to the president.

This is a difficult situation for a government that has limited time to implement sweeping reforms, fix a broken economy, and stimulate the confidence of development partners. “The debt is a big burden and we appealed to India for debt relief. India has given us a debt relief for five years’’, President Barrow said. ‘’ This will assist The Gambia to implement some of our projects’’.

Speaking earlier, President Kovind conveyed India’s “deep commitment” to enhance its traditional ties with The Gambia, contributing to its development. The two leaders agreed that they should expand their partnership in the spirit of South-South cooperation for the progress, prosperity, and development of their peoples.

India is aware that The Gambia is keen to achieve good governance, accountability, social cohesion, national reconciliation and a revitalised and transformed economy under its National Development Plan 2018-21.

“We have decided to extend assistance of half-a-million US dollars in support of skill development and cottage industry project’’, the visiting leader told journalists. ‘’We also agreed to offer training in the fields of judiciary, police, administration and technical expertise, as per the request and in line with the priorities of the Gambian side”.

President Barrow was elated for the honour of President Kovind’s choice of visiting The Gambia among fifteen West African countries.

 

 

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