Following a referendum, British-run Southern Cameroons joined the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon in 1961, while Northern Cameroons voted to join English-speaking Nigeria.
MEST Marks 10 Years Investing in and Supporting African Entrepreneurs with Pan-African Celebration of Tech & Announcement of Fourth African Incubator
June 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
CAPE TOWN, South Africa, June 21, 2018 – Pan-African entrepreneurial training program, seed fund, and incubator MEST, yesterday closed its third successful MEST Africa Summit, which saw leading entrepreneurs, investors and corporate executives from Africa and across the globe – including Silicon Valley, Europe and Asia – discussing trends, challenges and opportunities facing tech entrepreneurs on the continent under the theme The Year of the African Scaleup? Speakers this year included Jason Njoku, Pule Taukobong, Polo Leteka, as well as representatives from Facebook, MTN Group, Knife Capital and IFC.
Following a showcase of pitches from MEST portfolio company founders, the three-day event culminated in an announcement of the winner of the MEST Africa Challenge; a Pan-African pitch competition which saw Nigeria’s Accounteer awarded $50,000 in equity investment from the Meltwater Foundation, along with space and support in the MEST Incubator Lagos.
With MEST in its 10th year, the Summit, held at the Avenue at the V&A Waterfront, welcomed 350 guests from over 15 countries and saw MEST & Meltwater Founder & CEO Jorn Lyseggen, as well as Proud Dzambukira, Strategic Product Partnerships Manager, Africa at Facebook, give a keynote address, as well as a fireside chat between Quartz Africa’s Yinka Adegoke and Facebook’s Julien Decot, head of Platform Partnerships EMEA.
Launching with a lively debate over which African nation (Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya or South Africa) is best suited for startups to succeed, themed panels delved into the latest developments from the industries making an impact in technology and innovation, including fintech, SaaS, agritech and blockchain. Additionally, the Summit showcased in-depth discussions from leading female founders in the African tech space, conversation around how technology can be used to help artists, musicians and brands to reach Pan-African and global audiences, and an investor panel that dove into the investment landscape on the continent titled Rethinking Silicon Africa.
MEST expanded its footprint into Nigeria in 2015, Kenya in 2016, and South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire in 2017 by welcoming Nigerian, Kenyan, Ivorian and South African Entrepreneurs-in-Training (EITs) into the program. Today, the MEST Pan-African vision continues to come to life, with the launch of incubator spaces in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa; and a plan to formally launch its next fully-fledged incubator in Nairobi, Kenya later this year, where entrepreneurs will be offered the same level of support, mentorship, network and access to resources as its other incubators.
Aaron Fu, Managing Director at MEST, says, “We’re thrilled at the outcome of this year’s Summit. We welcomed the continent’s leading entrepreneurs, investors and visionaries for some incredibly engaging discussions around how we can execute on propelling and scaling the continent’s leading tech scaleups, while serving as a celebration of a decade of growth at MEST. The success of this year’s Summit, as a meeting ground for Africa’s top ecosystem partners and enthusiasts, has created a forum for honest discussion about change on the continent which we hope will lead to tangible actions and delivery. I’m also extremely excited about our upcoming incubator launch in Nairobi, as we look to strengthen our Pan-African footprint.”
Since its 2008 launch in Accra, Ghana, MEST has been at the forefront of driving some of the continent’s most successful entrepreneurs – pushing them to scale, while achieving Pan-African and global reach and recognition. MEST has invested over $20M in total funding to date, with portfolio companies going on to receive follow-on funding.
There have been four exits to date (digital insurance claims company Claimsync, ecommerce marketing tools RetailTower and AdGeek and messaging app Saya). More than 50 companies have been funded, with nearly 300 entrepreneurs trained. 400+ highly skilled jobs have been created through their incubator companies with MEST itself seeing 100+ highly skilled job created.
“When MEST was founded a decade ago, the goal was to find a way to create wealth and jobs here in Africa by nurturing the massive amount of talent that exists on the continent. By empowering people to become software entrepreneurs, I believe Africa can take their fair share of the value creation that we know is going to take place in technology and software over the next generation. Today, we’re proud that MEST is the first truly Pan-African tech incubator of its kind,” says Jorn Lyseggen, Founder & CEO of Meltwater and MEST.
As an advocate for innovation in tech, Jorn Lyseggen continues to act as a driving force in bridging the gap between Silicon Valley and the ever-evolving African tech landscape.
21st Session of African Forestry and Wildlife Commission opens in Dakar
June 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
Forestry, wildlife experts discuss Africa’s forests, landscapes and wildlife resources
By Alpha Jallow in Dakar
19 June 2018, Dakar – The 21st Session of the African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) begins today in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss how to sustainably manage and restore Africa’s forests, landscapes and wildlife resources.
The five-day meeting, which focuses on the theme “Restoring forests, landscapes and wildlife resources: unleashing opportunities for sustainable development in Africa”, is being held simultaneously with the commemoration of the 5th African Forestry and Wildlife Week.
About 200 participants, consisting of Ministers of States, government officials from 30 African countries, heads of forestry and wildlife institutions, officials and experts of regional and international organizations, as well as development partners of FAO, will deliberate upon the approach to be pursued in tackling and advancing the sustainable management and restoration of forests, landscapes and wildlife resources in Africa.
The delegates will also discuss recent developments in the field of Sustainable Wildlife Management in Africa as well as the role and contributions being made by the related African Union and countries’ strategies and initiatives “and the Collaborative Partnership on Sustainable Wildlife Management” in addressing these issues in the region.
The session will give prominence to the critical importance of sustainable management and restoration of forests and wildlife resources in enhancing food security and nutrition, reducing poverty, preventing and combating land degradation and desertification, and adapting to and mitigating impacts of climate change.
The participants will examine and review in addition ongoing sustainable management and restoration programmes, recent developments, challenges and opportunities such as the Green Climate Fund and the way forward to boost the contributions of forests and wildlife resources to the Sustainable Development Agenda in the region.
Hiroto Mitsugi, FAO Assistant Director-General, Forestry Department, in Rome, stated that “forests, their resources and wildlife are critical for the provision of multiple goods and services essential for human wellbeing and for a healthy environment”.
“They are even more important in dryland ecosystems, such as those prevailing in the Africa region, to address critical issues of land degradation, desertification, mitigation of climate change effects and strengthening the adaptive capacity and the resilience of the people and their agroecosystems”, he added.
A call to Increase investment
At the heart of discussion at this session is the concept of ‘Building Resilience of Africa’s Drylands and Livelihoods’ and the call to increase investments in sustainable management and restoration of Dryland Forests and Agro-silvo pastoral Systems in the region.
The Session will discuss the Organization’s support to the African Forest Landscape Restoration Initiative (AFR100) through the work it is carrying out on Forest and Landscape Restoration, including the Great Green Wall.
According to Mr Hiroto, AFR 100 is “a call for creating an African movement to heal Planet Earth, to heal Africa’s forests and landscapes resources.”
A new and special edition of FAO’s “Nature & Faune” journal compiling case studies and articles on restoration in Africa, is being launched at the meeting.
In order to underscore the benefits that can be generated by public and private sector investments in sustainable forest management and restoration, the Government of Senegal is hosting the celebration of the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought under the theme “Land has a true value: Invest in it”, on the 20th of June (instead of the 17th June) at the Mbao Forest, the “Dakar lung”, rendering it an African celebration together with local communities. Another field visit will be organized to the “Bandia Nature Reserve” on the 22nd of June, showcasing another public-private partnership for the restoration of degraded land.
“I’m convinced that only the mobilization at the national, regional and global level and the collaboration between the actors for the management of natural resources will be able to overcome the challenges we face,” said Mame Thierno Dieng, Senegalese Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development,.
“The African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) remains, in my opinion, a platform for exchange and sharing of experiences essential to achieve this goal,” he added.
Introducing new guidelines
FAO will introduce the recently published “Guidelines for Using Forest Concessions to Manage Public Forests” at the meeting. In addition, and to support countries’ reporting commitments on SDGs implementation, in particular SDG 15, the Session will introduce the process of the Forest Resources Assessment (FRA 2020) while highlighting efforts for reducing reporting burden on countries by streamlining international forest-related reporting
Stimulating dialogue and exchange of experience and lessons
Dialogues of Heads of Forestry and Wildlife and Events that will be organized during the week will enable delegates to showcase achievements made to date in restoration of forests, landscapes and wildlife resources, including through Africa’s Great Green Wall, and to discuss and share experiences on Sustainable wildlife management and combatting illegal transboundary exploitation and trade of fauna and flora as well as on developing small scale forest enterprises for livelihood improvement and poverty reduction in Africa.
About the Commission
The African Forestry and Wildlife Commission (AFWC) is one of six Regional Forestry Commissions established by FAO to provide a policy and technical forum for countries to discuss and address forest and wildlife issues on a regional basis. It meets every two years.
The mandate of the commission is to advise on the formulation of forest and wildlife management policy and to review and coordinate its implementation at the regional level; to exchange information and, generally through special Subsidiary Bodies, advise on suitable practices and action in regard to technical problems; and to make appropriate recommendations.
Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed Says Ethiopia Is To Honour The 2000 Algiers Agreement And End Hostilities Between Ethiopia And Eritrea
June 19, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
Ethiopia’s new Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed is determined to bring to an end the hostilities that have existed for several decades between his country and neighbouring Eritrea. Prime Minister Ahmed said his country is ready to implement the 2000 Algiers Agreement, an internationally sponsored peace treaty and border demarcation signed by Ethiopia and Eritrea.
On the 4th of June this year, Ethiopian Prime Minister called a surprise politburo meeting. The agenda was not divulged when he called the meeting but it was crystal clear what the Ethiopian politburo had discussed as soon as the meeting ended as a statement was released which read, “Ethiopia will fully accept the December 12, 2000, Algiers Agreement, a peace agreement between the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia, which established a special boundary commission.”
The statement went further to state that the Ethiopian government had, “decided to open up Ethiopia’s economy both to Ethiopian and foreign investors by making partial or full privatizations in key state-owned enterprises including industrial parks, railway projects, sugar factories, hotels and other manufacturing industries.” However, though big, it was the announcement that the Ethiopian government was to honour the Algiers Agreement which caught the attention of many people.
Perhaps in order to understand how significant this is to the two countries, that is Ethiopia and Eritrea as well as Africa as a whole, let’s briefly revisit how this agreement came about back in 2000.
Timeline of the Ethiopia and Eritrea hostilities.
There is a great debate which still rages on to this day about the exact origins of the Ethiopian-Eritrean hostilities. However, be that as it may, many academics believe that Eritrea’s independence from Ethiopia in 1991 did little if anything to resolve the underlying issues which had resulted in the nearly 30-year war between the two countries that erupted in 1961. It was (Eritrean independence), as stated by many at the very least a geopolitical success.
Due to this, it was no surprise in 1998 when a full-blown war erupted between the countries ignited by Ethiopia’s decision to march into Badme – a humble, dusty Eritrean market town with no apparent value. The war went on for two years in the process leading to the death of tens of thousands including civilians and displaced many others.
Regional, continental and international bodies in 2000 were forced into action after realising that the war was showing no signs of ending. In June of 2000, at a mediation meeting in Algiers Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia and President Isaias Afwerki of Eritrea agreed to “permanently terminate military hostilities” and establish a “neutral Boundary Commission” that will have full authority to delimit and demarcate the boundaries. The two leaders agreed that the “neutral Boundary Commission” would have a final and binding agreement.
The final and binding agreement reached by the neutral Eritrea-Ethiopia Boundary Commission ruled in favour of Eritrea stating that Ethiopian’s invasion of Badme was in violation of the principle of sovereignty and it had to vacate the lands.
Ethiopia however, was not satisfied with the ruling and instead of ordering its troops to leave Badme, it sent more troops to the town. Eritrea understandably was angered by this move and it also mobilised its troops who stationed a few kilometres from where Ethiopian troops were settled. Ever since, these two countries have been living on the verge of war while on some occasions, rebel groups from either country believed to be sponsored by Peoples’ Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) from Eritrea and the Tigray Peoples Liberation Front (TPLF) from Ethiopia clashed leading to the loss of life of dozens of people including civilians.
It is against this background that one can truly respect and admire the decision taken by Prime Minister Ahmed. Now, as has been stated by the Eritrean government, Prime Minister Ahmed has to go “beyond reconciliatory gestures or diplomatic pleasantries.”
What the honouring of the Algiers Agreement mean for the two countries
Easing of tensions
The first and perhaps most important benefit of Ethiopia honouring the Algiers Agreement is that it will go a long way in easing tensions and hostilities that have characterised the relationship between Ethiopia and Eritrea especially in the town of Badme. This will, in turn, lead to political and social stability. The BBC recently reported how the standoff between Ethiopia and Eritrea has caused the disintegration of families that live in Badme and also surrounding towns including Adigrat in Ethiopia as they live in constant fear of being attacked.
Re-opening the border for trade
On the economic front, Ethiopia’s honouring of the Algiers Agreement means that the people who live in close proximity to the Ethiopian and Eritrea border from either country can resume cross-border trading activities. Cross-border trading between these two countries was of huge commercial value to the residents of both countries and the re-opening of the border will mean they can resume their most important if not only income generating activity.
Access to ports
Not only will the residents of Badme and surrounding town in both Ethiopia and Eritrea benefit from cross-border trading once the Ethiopian government implements provisions of the Algiers Agreement but also the two countries stand to benefit economically. Before the start of the war in 1998, Ethiopia used to import various goods using the Eritrean ports of Assab and Massawa. However, that was disturbed by the political standoff between the two countries and Ethiopia had to resort to using the distant port of Djibouti and the less-than-reliable railway connection. The implementation of the Algiers Agreement, however, will see Eritrea opening its ports for Ethiopia once again. Ethiopia will, in turn, cut importation costs as it will use a more direct and shorter route for its imports while Eritrea stands to gain financially from renting its part of its ports to Ethiopia.
Removal of sanctions for Eritrea
In 2009, the UN with the support of the US and Ethiopia imposed arms sanctions on Eritrea. The sanctions were imposed as a penalty for what the UN termed “supporting terrorists”; Eritrea was allegedly accused of supporting and sponsoring al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. These allegations were however not proven. Despite this, the US went on to extend the sanctions last year. These sanctions have been crippling Eritrea in its endeavours to seek assistance in the form of aid. However, if Ethiopia stays true to its word and implements the Algiers Agreement, it’s likely that Eritrea will ask Ethiopia to lobby for the removal of the UN imposed arms sanctions so it can appeal for much-needed aid.
Mauritius, Ghana and Tunisia lead the African Telecoms
June 19, 2018 | 0 Comments
Life In A War Zone : 30 Days in Ambazonia/Anglophone Cameroon (4)
June 16, 2018 | 1 Comments
Amba Fighters: Power Respects Power
By Solomon Ngu*
In The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin, the legendary African-American novelist, says the police in America (and white supremacists) were cautious in attacking members of the Nation of Islam (NOI). Members of this black (or Negro as it was called in those days) movement were not ready to turn the other cheek in the face of police/white supremacist violence against black people in America. They believed in a tooth for tooth and an eye for an eye. These Muslims were encouraged to arm themselves, not to attack their rivals but that if attacked, they should fight back with a maximum force. For them, it was better to die standing. Malcolm X, a leading figure in the Nation of Island once said the only thing that power respects is power. Events in Anglophone Cameroon in recent months are undeniably validating Mr X’s viewpoint.
There was virtually no armed resistance to the militarization and Francophonization of Anglophone Cameroon before Mr Biya declared war on them in November 2017. Messages circulated on social media stating that the government was out to massacre the population. Images of troops in military cars –some of them photoshopped – heading to the two Regions were a frightful sight. The government had cut off internet in the two Anglophone Regions but people found a way to send images on social media by going to the francophone side of the country. We all suspected mayhem. And mayhem it was particularly in the home village of the interim Ambozonian president, Tabe Sisuku Ayuk. In fact the local administrator in this area told citizens to vacate their homes. This, they did. Most of them fled into Nigeria and have remained there ever since.
By the end of 2017 however, young men began to arm themselves. Hunters started using their rifles to defend unarmed villagers. And there was nothing the government could do about it. A few gendarmes were killed sending shock waves into the spine of political leadership and the soldiers. This was unexpected in a country where the military and the police are always above the law. There were online genocidal messages by Francophones, their journalists included, calling on the government to annihilate the Anmbazombies and Anglofools. The minister of communication cried foul and insisted that it was intolerable to allow terrorists to kill gendarmes. This incident, he said, further justified why Ambazonia needed to be militarized.
What Mr Issa Tchiroma did not realize at this point was that these soldiers on a mission to kill unarmed civilians unexpectedly clashed with another force that was bent on retaliating the death of the villagers. It did not for once occur to the minister and the soldiers that they were not the sole armed force in what was becoming a battlefield. Prior to their death, this group of gendarmes had killed unarmed civilians in the invaded village. Those lives did not matter in the eyes of the government, so to speak. The army had and still has the weapons as well as soldiers trained to fight the enemy, the Anglophones. Those defending their dignity have two things: courage and knowledge of the war terrain. In a nutshell, the scoundrel soldiers who had hitherto not encountered any resistance now knew there was power on the other side; and the only thing their power fear is this power that has not restrained from exercising itself through ambushes and other guerilla tactics.
Ironically by Feb 2018, the minister of communication stopped announcing the death of soldiers who die in the battlefield. Private TV stations and digital media footages captured by private citizens have revealed dead and dying soldiers. Some of them, facing threats of death, have defected; others have sold their weapons to the Fighters while some have simply escaped into neighboring countries. In early April 2018, I witnessed three military trucks that were purportedly carrying corpses of soldiers killed in the front line. It is well-known in Buea that the mortuaries are filled up with the corpses of the military men killed in the combat zone. Here is the thing though: the government conceals the death of these soldiers from the Francophones, fearing that parents may questions why their children are sent to die in a senseless war.
This strategy of not announcing the death of the soldiers on the public media is surely intended to deceive the bereaved families, making them think the death of their son or daughter is an isolated, rare and unfortunate occurrence. This strategy has no precedence in Cameroon where the military people who die in action are sent off in a solemn public ceremony with flags and medals adorning their coffins.
But how has this power evolved over time? As mentioned earlier, there wasn’t any resistance when the government sent rogue soldiers to teach Anglophones a lesson during and after the Anglophones celebrated their independence day on Oct 1st 2017. Soldiers chased, beat and shot the unarmed civilians. In the Anglophone capital city of Buea, helicopter gunships sprayed bullets on people from the air. No one for sure knows the death too. Some neighborhoods became aware of deaths in their vicinity only through the stench of decomposed corpses. It is believed some of the corpses were dropped from the helicopters. In all this, the soldiers were winning – their sense of victory was emboldened by fearful citizens fleeing life bullets. The government media institutions celebrated the triumph of brutality against unarmed civilians. Little did they know they just provoked an embittered population amongst them, the kids that were into a second year of not attending school.
Out of nowhere, we started witnessing armed and masked young men threatening to resist the marauding soldiers. They became known as Amba Fighters/Amba Restoration Forces/Amba Boys or just Amba. These Fighters do not have a central commander but all aim at fighting/sending away what they see as the colonial forces of La Republique. So far, they have been putting up a strong resistance and have become confident to the extent that they do not mask their faces anymore when delivering threats to the government and its soldiers. A few weeks ago I watched a video, in which the young people sang songs, displayed their guns, introduced their hierarchy and talked about liberating their homeland. There was this kid, not more than 15 years old, who threatened to take as booty, the sliced testicles of the president of Cameroun. This is what he said in pidgin: ‘We go kill you Popol. Me I want na that your canas’ (we will kill you Polpol [Paul Biya]. I want those testicles of yours’).
The gun has undeniably emboldened the resolve of these young people to speak without fear. Has this power been useful so far? Well, the government soldiers have not launched any military attach to free arrested/kidnapped soldiers or administrator of the regime, perhaps for fear of counter fire. In those cases where the kidnapped/arrested officials have been released, a bounty has been paid to the kidnappers.
In my next article, I still focus on Amba Fighters: how they are perceived by the Anglophone public?
*This is part of the series Life in a War Zone:30 Days in Ambazonia by Solomon Ngu for PAV under the blog Kamer Blues
Congo to Start $13.9 Billion Hydropower Project This Year
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
The Democratic Republic of Congo plans to start work this year on the frequently delayed Inga 3 hydropower project, after receiving a joint bid from two previously competing consortia of investors.One group led by China Three Gorges Corp. and another including Actividades de Construccion y Servicios SA of Spain submitted a joint bid on June 6 for the project that will produce 11,000 megawatts and is predicted to cost $13.9 billion, Bruno Kapandji, director of the Agency for the Development and Promotion of the Grand Inga Project, said at a conference Wednesday in Lubumbashi in southeast Congo.
Construction on Inga 3 will take as long as seven years, Kapandji said.
Congo’s government last year asked the competing consortia to work together and submit a joint offer to build and manage Inga 3. Once a concessionaire company has been established, the developers “will commit themselves to mobilizing the funds to complete the project and operate it,” Kapandji said.
The next phase of Grand Inga was initially supposed to produce 4,800 megawatts.
“The project has changed because the demand has changed,” said Kapandji. The mining industry’s energy deficit has increased from about 500 megawatts to 1,300 megawatts in the intervening years since the project was conceived, he said.
The World Wrestles Climate Change To Stay Below 1,5 Degrees Of Warming .
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Yes, there is necessity to be formidable against Climate Change and stay below 1,5 degrees of warming . This is done for the betterment of human livelihoods and for survival sake , being environmentally and Agriculturally sustainable , Health and well-being , free out of natural and human induced catastrophes destroying this Earth .The World population at 7,5 billion people to date face risks , poverty , vulnerabilities and get plunged in sundry challenges socially , economically and politically .
Most countries are seriously hit by absolute poverty which is lack of basic needs, situational and in-come poverty, especially in Africa with a total population of 1 billion people. Its entire population is extremely affected by poverty because of climate change caused by Global Warming which leads to 90% induced anthropogenic disasters which have led to severe metrological and hydrological droughts. This is because, we are above 1,5 degrees of warming .
The above mentioned catastrophes have drastically impacted more on communities, in Africa, small island countries, banana republics and in some countries failing to cope up with mitigation and adaptation of climate change. This is because of several factors among them, lack of climate finance social cohesion of political will and the International community not in mutual agreements.
Owing attention to climate change effects in many affected developing countries of the World struggling to cope up with climate change , the thorny issue has turned inflammatory , hence the reason why the Paris Agreement called for the necessity to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming .
Yes, it is necessary to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming because there is need to cherish the good of Health for all , have no poverty and drought , create a sustainable globe supported by a nourished environment for a Green Economy .
It is therefore a priority to for the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change to foster policy development so as to forecast on climate change mitigation and adaptation through Bio-Diversity protection, research and development programs. Secondly, the implementation of BECCS Technologies to reduce climate change is important. Also, there is need to create other technologies which are conducive to a pollution free, disease free and an environmentally stable and manageable livable and sustainable community.
The necessity to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming is indisputably vital so that the World cannot be affected by instability in rainfall , sea level rise , disasters like floods and drought and the subsequent scarcity of water and basic natural resources . These when not afforded and accessed leads to sundry challenges of immense impact to human lives.
An Expert in the field of Environment and Agriculture, Professor Sheunesu Mupepereki of the University of Zimbabwe contacted for comment said if countries stay below 1,5 degrees of warming there are greater chances of stability in rainfall and this can result in good harvests . The input part comes with bumper output of harvest and the outcome is adequate food supply that is Food Security leading to an Impact of a NO HUNGER COMMUNITY, NO POVERTY, HIGH EDUCATION and HEALTH SERVICE DELIVERY.
‘’For countries to win on the Sustainable Development Goals like the two on ending poverty and hunger , there is great need to work out on environmental sustainable policies especially on Afforestation and environmental and water sustainability , do mitigation and adaptation so that we can achieve a Green Economy in a Sustainable World free from poverty and hunger .
‘’This is only achievable through unison of the Globe sticking to agreements like those already in place like the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreements which have a bit of relief to our changing world . Of- course climate has been changing but 90% of this is attributable to human forces, working towards destroying the Universe’’, he said.
Taking the heated discussion up the ladder, Environmental Management Agency Chief Communications Officer Steady Kangata an Environmentalist as well pointed out that, to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming is not easy as long richer nations fail to agree among themselves and then sit down on the table to take it up with those most affected like African states and the small island countries which are only contributing a little at most not at all .
‘’Richer States have to come together and weave social cohesion ideas meant to reduce effects of climate change so that we are at ease as far as this is concerned . Staying below 1,5 degrees of warming is possible in the long run if the burning of fossil fuels is taken action against . In fact natural solutions will work for us as we get to zero fossil fuel use. The influence of fossil fuels like coal has had diverse vested influence on the change of climate.
‘’There is need to reduce the use of coal , avoid deforestation , concentration of gases like carbon- dioxide in the atmosphere , methane and nitrous oxide which are the main emissions contributing to global warming which is almost above the normal figure I,5 degrees of warming .
‘’Carbon dioxide trapping heat in the atmosphere could be a problem as long there are no measures like policies in place to reduce this , However , countries under the Inter-Governmental Panel on Climate Change have taken stance against this , though much needs to be done’’ , he said .
Another Expert, an Agronomist by profession Professor Mushonjowa pointed out that there is need to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming so as to create conducive environment in Agricultural activities which have been mainly impacted by climate change . He said, the issue of Food Security is not a reality as long countries are not staying below 1,5 degrees Celsius because this leads to food in- security which leads to increase in poverty .
‘’Poverty still continues because we are failing to mitigate and adapt to climate change , but however we need to adopt policies and strategies which might one day pull us out of absolute poverty as countries are eager to win on sustainable development goals like on no poverty and hunger .
Taking a breath, he said additional effects on water supply , rising temperatures , sea level rise , less predictable weather , drought , floods , storms , changing temperatures and rainfall pattern effects on crops , pests , pollinators and disease organisms are high .This impacts communities socio , economically and politically .
‘’The risk is on long term economic growth challenges which are a big blow in many countries still struggling to be out of poverty and hunger . Let us take note that, ‘’climate is changing, food and Agriculture must change too’’. There is all mighty need to stick to drought resistant crops like sorghum and millet and resort to short season crops like pulses which resists prolonged drought.
‘’Taking a strong look at this, there is need to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming so that we are kept beyond poverty and hunger . In order to keep ourselves away from this , it is important for Africa to invest in Renewable Energy , turn Agriculture to food and Industrial development and support knowledge economy for Innovation and Industrial development in Africa’’ , he added .
According to the World Health Organization, Climate Change has caused 140,000 death due to hunger, water-borne and vector-born ailments .Speaking on the sidelines of Health, Doctor Portia Manangazira who works in the Department of Epidemiology, Ministry of Health and Child Care said the increase in water borne diseases has also been the issue of climate change in many countries mainly hit by devastating floods.
‘’Water-borne diseases are set to increase as long climate lives. The greater increase is due to the issue of climate change which has arose with high incessant rains and sometimes low rainfall compromising on the strong sharp increase in communicable diseases related to vector borne and water borne ones like malaria and cholera respectively .
‘’Although cholera is a result of failure to handle and manage food issues and proper water and sanitation health well, the sharp increase in climate change could give another big blow as we move forward. It is now all of us our task to look ahead and manage these issues through global dialogue, syllogism and policy change’’. She concluded.
The question of climate justice still hangs in air as some countries like America continue polluting at the expense of the developing countries. The increase in vulnerable people in communities is adversely exacerbated by climate change which is causing these people not to live below 1,5 degrees of warming .However , though there is this need nonetheless , lack of resources in basic need , lack of climate finance and battle lines drawn between the rich and the poor countries stirs great controversy at a time there is increase in vulnerable people because of HIV and AIDS and climate change death .
In the Agriculture sector 2 degrees increase in temperature reduces maize by 5 to 22% , wheat 10 to 17% and sorghum by 15 to 17% . This leads to food vulnerability leading to high malnutrition and nutrition in-security, poverty and lack of human development .Such is the problem which led to high death rates of 260,000 people in Somalia in 2010 to 2012.
Climate vulnerability in Africa continues as climate change bites with severe pang of pain, but there is need to focus on the rights of people around the world who need stay below 1,5 degrees of warming by enforcing policies which focus on Global Carbon Budget . In financial costs, Africa will spend almost 7 to 15 billion by 2020.
This could contribute to continuation of poverty later turning to be of harsh effects to women who have 60% big role in rural Agriculture. Because of these issues, women are failing to do their activities because they are much prone to drought, floods and some disasters. Women and children affected most, this constitutes vulnerability and there is likelihood of high maternal, neo-natal and infant mortality in Africa, up-surge rise of pulmonary and cardio-vascular diseases because the bigger percentage relies on fossil fuels .
Contacted for comment, Pamela Mhlanga, Director of Zimbabwe Women Resource Centre and Network said staying below 1, 5 degrees of warming could mold the girl-child of today to be a mother who contributes far more than men in building a better economy without poverty and hunger, but however, it is sad to note that women voices in climate change issues were so low over the recent years because of lack of equality and equity.
‘’Women participation is always low at all levels but on climate change , let us take the equal front and equip ourselves because we are the ones at the forefront of being mainly affected when disasters come .We need advocacy , sensitization and awareness , awakening women voices in climate change issues to stay below 1,5 degrees of warming . Besides, let us capacity build women on 100% Energy technical support, empowering women with clean, efficient modern stoves’’, she elucidated.
Taking sides, Women Coalition of Zimbabwe Co-coordinator, Sally Dura ignited on the strong issue of Women and 100% Renewable Energy. Renewable Energy is related to solar , geothermal , wave , hydro and wind , but alas , it is sad to note that 70% of people in Africa have no access to this source which is safe , cheap ,reliable , efficient and easy to use .
‘’Staying below 1,5 must start with women in front and it should be buttressed by the need to develop our planet through shared knowledge and the understanding that Renewable energy counts more than any form of energy these days where injustices are caused by climate change . Still at worst inequalities are worsening because we are now at most affected by climate itself’’, she echoed.
Reduction in emissions creates a free from pollution world if solar is used by all countries of the world which need support as far as finance is related. This will lead to reduction in carbon emissions, therefore reversing ozone layer depletion which results in Global Warming.
HUNDRED, 100 % RENEWABLE ENERGY is supported by policy frameworks implemented for the advantage of every human being but mostly we need Education on these issues so that we remain vigilant as we move towards building better economies. Speaking to this Journalist, Gloria Magombo Zimbabwe ENERGY Regulatory Authority Director said in Zimbabwe access to energy is only 40% of which there is need to develop solar so as to reach high levels of economic development.
‘’ It’s much more to talk about 100% Renewable Energy for us to stay as well below 1,5 degrees of warming . Energy budgets, policy development and more education are supposed to be stand together issues of moral concern for us to win also the sustainable development goal on Energy. The more we put focus on the environment we dwell on energy issues promoting a Greener Economy ‘’.
‘’ A greener is Economy is supported by new clean , smart technologies which are against use of fossil fuels and those green-house gases which deplete the ozone layer . Thus why we as SADC we are promoting the use of Solar –Powered vehicles and the use of Diesel 50’’
‘’However some developed countries are already using Diesel 1o but still us as SADC we are behind. It means then we are polluting by using archaic models of cars which use Diesel 100 which is no-longer recommended .This is a solution to curb use of fossil fuels which are not Environmentally friendly .’’
‘’ If 40% of Zimbabweans only have access to energy , then clean energy use is far less as expected , then at a global level we still have a long way to achieve staying below 1,5 degrees warming , but then a 100 % global shift towards Renewable Energy is the only close and immediate solution .’’ she said.
The truth on ground lies on strategizing achievable mitigations and correct lined adaptations in order to conquer challenges we face today. The fact is that before the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century there were 280 parts per million of carbon emissions doubling to 400 parts per million, the world becoming 3 to 4 degrees warmer, this leading to high sea-levels tells a success story of climate change victory. Today we are almost a bit below that because of several measures in addition to climate resilience, governance and political will. We need more effort, support, mentorship and education regarding the necessity of staying below 1,5 degrees warmer. Yes,
*NEVSON MPOFU is a multi-Awarded Media Practitioner . Currently, he is a Lecturer of Community Development, HIV and AIDS. email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Energy Investments And Finance Vital For The African Green Economy.
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Sub-Saharan Africa, South East and Pacific Asia which are Energy poverty impacted Regions need at least 49, 4 billion annually to finance their overall Energy projects and the current spending rotating in these Regions is 9 billion. World Bank has over the past years since 2007 financed 31 billion worth Energy projects in developing countries especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In order to monitor the reduction of absolute poverty in the World, there is need to focus strongly on Energy financing in order to develop various energy projects, reduce poverty and win on Sustainable Development Goals particularly Goal number 7 on Energy by 2030.Africa has the big challenge . One of its Investor , African Renewable Energy Fund finances small projects in Hydro-Power , Wind , Solar , Geo-Thermal , Gas and Biomass .It has 10 to 30 million size of Investments , 200 million total fund size with target return of 20% .
Experts in the Energy sector in Zimbabwe have taken a strong move to work towards sustaining energy projects through sourcing finance and calling for Investments to boost the sector. The prevalent rate of climate change in the countries felt elsewhere in the World is fast reducing BIOFUEL ENERGY relied on by 60% of the rural population mainly in developing countries struggling to grapple with solar energy which is cheap, efficient, though insufficient, it is reliable with those who have used it .The strong fact is Solar is renewable, therefore it is of less cost once purchased.
CLEAN ENERGY FOR ALL programs organized by Business Council for Sustainable Development , Practical Action and ZERA[Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority ] held since issues of energy took Centre stage have since short time memorial brought change in the country which is only 40% solar energy dominated according to recent ZERA information on the ground . Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority Chief Executive Officer, said that adequate financial funding is needed to run Sustainable Energy projects in many countries of the World so as to promote a GREEN REVOLUTION which has special focus on clean energy which does not have effects on human lives as far as pollution is concerned.
Air pollution has over the past years affected communities especially in coal mining areas where a number of people have had problems of respiratory and cardio-vascular diseases. .These challenges have as well been experienced in urban areas where after hydro-power blackout is experienced, dwellers pursue alternative energy sources which lead to destruction of the natural environment and turn to massive use of coal which emits unfriendly pollutants affecting people and the atmosphere.
Experts have summed that, though the need for Green Energy for a Green Revolution, funding is not adequate to promote a GREEN REVOLUTION flourish. Glued in the exclusive interview, the expert said Zimbabwe power shortages are indicated by a deficit of 60% .By February 2016 the country was measured producing only 845 mw against a projected national demand 2,200 megawatts and installed capacity of 1,940 megawatts .
‘’There is need for adequate funding buttressed by competent Investors who support the Energy sector which is under-trodden and submerged by anthropogenic factors contributing to climate change and subsequently affecting the earth which now is heavily compromised in terms of its naturalness, beauty, esthetics and bounty wealth of bio-fuel .The urgent need for regeneration of the energy sector through the support of Investors is no doubt a fact on the ground ‘’.
’’Countries of the world still taking development steps in response to Sustainable Development Goals targets need more funding than the current amount so that they can run sustainable projects which can make developing countries in Africa, Asia and some parts of the World see the light of development in a changing world in which clean energy is the right path to go for in a modern World.’’
‘’Clean Energy is environmentally friendly since it does not lead to air pollution which does have negative impacts on the health of the general public. Many forms of energy have led to changes in climate of which resultant adverse effects there-after have led to depletion of the ozone layer. Clean energy solutions today lead us to a habitable disease free world.’ ’posed the Expert .
Further on ,she cited that high cost financing of Infrastructure amounting from 12 billion to 13 billion to lift up Energy project financing in developing countries is vital .She continued that, for these countries to grow, they need to lure Investments from the developed World through implementation of sound policies meant to reduce energy poverty in the developing world.
‘’Funding for the purpose of Economic development is vital because they is need to promote GREEN ECONOMY. Therefore, we need to support GREEN ENERGY projects on the ground so that we can reach targets of GLOBAL ENERGY growth and achieve Sustainable Development Goals of the UNITED NATIONS’’, ’she concluded.
Commenting on the same issue , Patson Mbiriri , Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development , said , Energy financing was as well delayed by lack of political will in many developing countries like in those where civil strife reduce communities to abject poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa , East and Pacific Asia and in some parts of the World .He added also that lack of expertise and the issue of brain drain has much impacted .
‘’Lack of this political will has much trodden developing countries which even up to now need strong financial support to lift themselves out of absolute poverty . Sustainable Development Goals will lift people in many countries out of poverty like how they have done in developed countries like China, Japan, America and others’’.
‘’Access to energy finance stands vital, hence the reason why Sustainable Development Goals are important. Energy developments over the past decades slackened because Energy was not part of the Millennium Development Goals .The c current Sustainable Development Goals are giving a new image to Energy sources like solar which is are affordable and accessible.
‘’One main important aspect is that of brain drain of African professionals giving their knowledge to greener pastures. The problem is leaving blind spots making management of energy projects a challenge to digest. Also those in leadership at top need more expertise, sensitization and awareness on the importance of energy link to the environment. A green revolution is possible close home if these experts help us with their skills and push for Africa to get Investors. In other words, we are moving slowly towards a GREEN REVOLUTION’’, he said.
Talking on Investor incentives to sustain Energy projects, another Expert in the ENERGY SECTOR, Sustain Ziuke said, incentives are important because Zimbabwe is only 40% covered by solar energy. All in all 80% of energy is urban and 19% is rural. We still have a long way to go . Access to electricity is estimated @ 52% of the total population.
Approximately, 200,000 urban house-holds and 1,2 million rural do not have access to electricity . He expanded by highlighting that there is need to work towards financing of solar since it is cheap and easy to maintain and for developing countries to research and access other Energy types especially in rural areas so that bio-fuel can be saved .
Africa as a whole has those challenges related to energy shortage .There are dangers to the natural environment caused by lack of energy sources. The environment gets deforested without any afforestation, this leading to desertification. Most issues in origin of what is climate change are a result of massive cutting down of trees . This leads to denudation, mass wasting and serious erosion during rainy season, communities later affected by food –insecurity.
‘’Access to Energy types is the challenge in developing countries. Worse still, wood is 80% to 90% in rural areas and 15 to 30% in African urban areas. For Energy development to take place at fast rate in these countries, there is need for GREEN FUNDING, what we call SMART ENERGY for the sustainability of a GREEN WORLD in which humanity is not affected by POLLUTION, especially AIR POLLUTION which result in Respiratory and Cardio-Vascular Diseases, related to heart and Lung cancer ailments, ’he said.
Zimbabwe which still lags behind in Energy development has fuel wood at 60%, liquid fuel 18%, electricity 13% and coal 8%. Although the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio- Economic Transformation promotes Energy projects sustainability so as to reduce poverty, more than half of its population is living in Energy poverty and needs funding to run such projects.
Many Energy organizations in energy poverty countries have come out with projects which needs sustainable funding . Energy projects in Zimbabwe are run under the theme, CLIMATE FINANCE FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT. Some of them touched on the issue of diesel -50 and how countries can move towards the use of diesel 10 and the use of solar powered vehicles in the future. The issue of climate change brings in today gender dimensions which call the involvement of women in energy issues because they matter most when it comes to sourcing energy in both rural and urban communities.
African Countries Meet To Nip Piracy In The Bud
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Member countries of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) have met in Harare, Zimbabwe at a two day symposium on copyright and related rights on 12 to 14 June, 2018 to find common ground on combating piracy and shaping copyright and related rights systems on the continent.
The symposium was held under the theme: “Shaping the Copyright and Related Rights System in Africa.”
The Symposium discussed critical copyright issues affecting Africa and explored ways to address copyright in the digital environment for the benefit of the right holders, users, and other stakeholders.
It was attended by at least 65 delegates from 30 countries including experts on Intellectual Property from international organizations like the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) .
Also an Exhibition by the 19 ARIPO member states showcased what is happening in their countries on copyright and related rights.
Officially opening the symposium, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Attorney General, Mr Kumbirai Hodzi a similar symposium was held in 2017 under the same theme and the 2018 symposium sought to take stock on progress that had been made on copyright and related rights systems in Africa.
Mr Hodzi said that intellectual property played a very critical role in the protection and dissemination of knowledge and creative industries have assumed major economic significance that contribute significantly to economies.
He also added that the music industry had potential to contribute meaningfully to African economies buts its protection was lax and piracy was very rampant in most of the countries.
“Although some countries have laws prohibiting infringement, copyright infringement is the order of the day,” Hodzi said.
He cited the example of Zimbabwe, where recently one of the country’s musicians, Alick Macheso released a new album that was launched on 8 June, 2018.
Hodzi said that what was concerning was that before the launch of the album, copies of the musician’s music were already awash in the streets of Harare.
“People do not seem to think twice about sharing the music, yet to Alick Macheso, these are bread and butter issues and he needs to survive, pay his bills and his band together with its management,” Hodzi said.
Hodzi lamented how the same scenario has become the order of the day especially in Africa.
He urged African member states to measure progress on copyright and related rights issues and any change of attitudes following their meetings. He added that the issues of copyright and related rights in Africa need a concerted effort from everyone to include copyright offices, collective management organisations, academics, entrepreneurs and the victims themselves who include artists, among other players.
Hodzi urged member states of the ARIPO to study how developed countries had done it to be successful in protecting copyright and related rights.
“Computer software, multi-media products, music, books and other literary works have made the players rich, created employment and contributed meaningfully to the economies of those countries,” Hodzi said.
According to Hodzi, in 2011, a research was undertaken by Dick Kawooya and others and they published a book on Access to knowledge in Africa: The role of copyright. He said that the research revealed that in all the eight countries were the study was undertaken, all countries had copyright laws that meet and in many cases exceed the minimum international standards reflected in applicable international instruments and agreements.
He also added that findings also revealed that no country studied takes advantage of all, or even most of, the flexibilities that exist in relevant international agreements.
The study is also reported to have highlighted a disconnect between national copyright laws and on the ground practices in all the countries studied. It found that laws and policies governing copyright in most African countries are typically not grounded in the realities of African societies and are largely crafted without sufficient empirical evidence.
“Unfortunately, these findings might be true to this day. It is well known that the copyright environments in our countries is not conducive and currently it doesn’t maximise access and protection of knowledge. But l believe we are capable of changing our situations in order to improve both access and protection of our copyrights,” Hodzi said.
Africa urged to repeal prohibitive age limit laws
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Andreas Thomas
Windhoek – The focus of African youth, with regard to their participation in the political arena is gaining momentum, with recent calls to abolish restrictive laws that are marginalizing young people from fully participating in democratic process.
Young people are vastly under-represented in political decision-making. Although 51% of the world’s population is under 30, young people fewer than 30 accounts for a mere 1.9 per cent of lawmakers worldwide. This is largely due to laws that do not allow young people – although they have the right to vote – to have the right to run for office, according to Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The situation is worse in Africa, where formal political institutions are dominated by elders. Most countries in the continent use archaic legislations that prohibit people under 30 to run for political offices including parliaments.
But the tide is turning in favour of young people. Delegates at the Africa Regional Conference on Financing of Electoral Processes held in Windhoek last week from 6-8 June, have called on countries to re-consider these prohibitive laws.
They said by lowering the minimum age of people to take up political office, will encourage the youth to fully engage in politics and decision making processes.
The conference that was held under the “Inclusive Democracy for Sustainable Development” was attended by representatives from electoral management bodies from 16 African countries.
“We heard from some countries where they have actually reduced the ages for allowing the youth to become members of parliament. And I think one of the question, which was raised here is how electoral management bodies make sure that youth are now more included in the electoral process. Because we see that the youth participation is not always at optimum level, although you find that on the lection registers, on voters roll, probably 40 percent and in some countries you find that 50 percent or even above are youth,” said the ECN Chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja said on the sideline of the conference.
Former Liberian president Ellen Jonson-Sirleaf also wants to see African countries adopting non-age discriminatory laws. Jonson-Sirleaf noted that some countries in Africa are heading the call, and considering age reduction legislation as most young people taking up leadership roles.
Nigeria has taken a big leap with regard to inclusive political participation, after President Muhammad Buhari signed the ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill into law on May 29, that was hailed in the West African country as a welcoming development.
The law that was passed by the Senate last year, reduces age requirement to run for presidency from 40 to 35, State Governor from 35 to 30, Senator from 35 to 30; House of representatives from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly from 30 to 25.
While addressing the Namibian Parliamentary Women Caucus and the Standing Committee for Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs in Windhoek on June 5, Johnson-Sirleaf has cautioned African leadership against neglecting its young.
More than 60% of Africa’s population is under 35, and this segment, Johnson-Sirleaf warned that is running out of patience. She said young people are demanding to be part of decision-making process and to benefit from the continent’s immeasurable mineral resources.
“Our continent is young. On average, 60 per cent of our population is 35 years and under, with school leaving increasing the numbers of those that are ready for jobs and job opportunities that are not expanding fast enough to be able to absorb them. That is an issue that is facing different degrees in most of our countries,” the Nobel Peace laureate has cautioned.
“How are they going to be patient enough as we prepare them for leadership and how will some of them respond because they don’t have that patience and want to see themselves progress as they believe the nation should provide them the opportunity?”
Johnson-Sirleaf challenged parliaments to devise strategies that provide solutions issues affecting the youth in Africa.
Johnson-Sirleaf has also encouraged African youth to pull up their sleeves and try improve their conditions.
“The youth must also have responsibility to be on par of the positive changes in societies. To pursue the best education they can, to become excellence in what they do, whether in school, the work they do, to be able to aspire toward what they want to be and to work hard for it,” she advised.
Human Rights In English Speaking Regions:Amnesty Drops The Hammer on Cameroon
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
– Report And Recommendations Were Discussed With Senior Officials At The Presidency – Ilaria Allegrozzi Lake Chad Researcher
By Ajong Mbapndah L
While there may be no official reaction yet from the government of Cameroon on the recent Amnesty International report, Ilaria Allegrozzi, Lake Chad Researcher says the human rights group had very open and productive discussions on the findings with Senior Officials at the Presidency last week.
“We hope that our message and recommendations will be taken on board,” says Allegrozzi whose research shows that people have been caught between two fires, victims of gross abuses by the army and acts of violence committed by armed separatists.
In an exclusive interview with Pan African Visions, Ilaria Allegrozzi says the report was based on interviews with over 150 victims and eye witnesses of the flagrant human right violations such as unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and destruction of private property.
Rather than resolving the crisis, the heavy handed response by the authorities have only empowered radical violent movements and created a climate of fear, according to the report from Amnesty International. While the report has ample documentation of gross excesses from the military with the burning of whole villages, killings, arbitrary arrest and torture of people in the course of military operations in the Anglophone regions, there are instances where armed separatists are faulted for attacks on security forces, state emblems schools and ordinary people.
“We did not ask the question about conditions for peace but noted that the majority of them said that they won’t return unless there’s an independent state of Ambazonia ,” Allegrozzi said in response to what it will take for normalcy to return. Amnesty will continue to closely monitor developments and do follow up with Cameroon and international partners on its recommendations, Allegrozzi said.
Thanks for accepting to discuss the recent Amnesty Report on Cameroon (A Turn for the worse), can you start with the numbers, those killed, number of refugees and other vital statistics that you found in your research?
We did not compile any statistics registering the no of people (general population) killed; we have compiled stats registering the no of security forces (policemen, gendarmes, soldiers) killed by armed separatists since Sept 2017 to day and it is 44. 44 might well be an underestimation and we believe the number is higher. We also came up with stats registering the number of schools attacked by armed separatists. It’s 42 of which 36 burnt, the remaining either partially or totally destroyed. For this figure too, we think we might have underestimated the number of attacks. However, we only wanted to go public with the figures we were sure about 100 per 100. In terms of refugees (Anglophone Cameroonian requesting asylum in Nigeria): the official figures put out by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) at May 2018 are of 20.400 (note this figure includes only those officially registered by UNHCR; in addition we believe there are at least some other 10.000 scattered around Nigeria in various isolated areas). Most of the refugees settled in cross river state, Nigeria; but some also are found in Benue state, the capital Abuja, Lagos and elsewhere. Note that those who fled (mostly last year and especially after Sept-Oct 2017 and after Dec. 2017) and are settled in cross river state are mostly from the SW region, from villages and cities very near to the border. There are also other people in the North and South West Regions who fled, but internally, within Cameroon. The no of IDPs (internally displaced people) in the North and South West regions is estimated at 160.000 (possibly underestimation). 160.000 is a figure put out by UN humanitarian agencies in Cameroon.
Often times , the government and its supports cast doubts on the work and reports of Amnesty International, how was this research done and what measures did you take to ensure the findings were indisputable on facts and accuracy?
We always stand by our findings. Our methodology is thorough and evidence solid. We have interviewed over 150 victims and eye-witnesses to Human Right violations by the security forces and acts of violence by the armed separatists, as well as families of victims, and a wide range of key informants from different sectors (lawyers, journalists, religious and traditional leaders, academics, human rights defenders, members of civil society, political leaders and activists within the separatist movement and groups, national and international human rights and security experts, and staff of the United Nations, INGOs). In addition we have collected, analyzed and verified material evidence, including videos, photographs, med records, court docs and sat imagery.
What are some of the reactions you have received since the report was published, while it heavily indicts the government and its military for its excesses, it equally says armed separatist groups carried out violent attacks on the security forces, your take on reactions.
We are still waiting for the official reaction of the government. We were able to visit Cameroon last week and met with the Director of the Civil Cabinet at the presidency. We shared the findings of the report. The discussion was open and productive. We hope that our messages and recommendations will be taken on board.
When doing your research and producing the report, does Amnesty International take into account the notion of self defence? When you have villages razed down as described by you, people arrested and tortured, how do you expect them to react?
Our research looks at the human rights impact of the crisis. We focused on the violence and human rights violations against the general population. Our research shows that the people have been caught between two fires, victims of the abuses by the army and the acts of violence committed by the armed separatists.
We see instances where you mentioned schools been burnt down by separatist groups, did you not find it curious that even some of the schools heavily guarded by the army were still destroyed? In this case how do you attribute the destruction to separatist groups as you describe them?
The cases we documented have been carefully verified. We have no doubt that all the cases we documented of attacks on schools were carried out by armed separatists. Sometimes it was difficult to attribute responsibility of attacks to specific separatists groups, some individuals acting in support of the general cause (armed struggle + secession) but failing to specifically mention which group they belong to. In our new briefing, we used the phrase “self-proclaimed armed separatists” to describe a spectrum of groups embracing an armed struggle for secession from Cameroon in order to create an independent state of “Ambazonia”. One of the most prominent groups, as you know, is the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF), which emerged in early 2017. But there are numerous other groups which also claim to be in active armed struggle in different locations across the North and South West regions, which appear heterogeneous and splintered in nature, often acting at local levels, in the absence of a coordinated, unified structure and political leadership. We have documented violence perpetrated by individuals or groups of individuals, who acted on their own initiative, but having expressed support to or known by their communities as acting in sympathy with a self-proclaimed armed group or the armed struggle for secession.
Under what conditions are refugees both in Nigeria and those spread across the country living?
The humanitarian situation of refugees is of concern but not catastrophic (compared to other humanitarian emergencies). Lots of solidarity from Nigerian families offering shelter, food, water. The question is how long is this sustainable for? Durable solutions need to be found to ensure refugees’ needs are addressed and conditions for their return are met.
For the refugees in Nigeria, what international protections or protocols cover them, was the Nigerian government right in arresting and deporting Ayuk Tabe and others from Southern Cameroons who sought refuge there?
We have called on the government of Nigeria to respect its international obligations with respect to the rights of refugees, as per the 1951 UN refugee convention which Nigeria has duly ratified. We have condemned the extradition of Ayuk Tabe and the other 46 Anglophones. We are calling on the government of Cameroon to reveal their whereabouts, provide them access to lawyers/families/doctors, and stop their illegal-arbitrary-incommunicado detention. As you know the risk of torture is very high when people are detained in secret. We have widely documented the systematic use of torture by Cameroonian security forces and intelligent services in illegal detention facilities, including military bases.(see report Secret torture chamber released last year in July).
A number of people from the North West and South West Regions have been handed lengthy jail sentences, what do you make of the way the judicial process in Cameroon is working in this time of crisis?
We have condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds of people arrested since the beginning of last year in the context of peaceful demonstrations, security operations, etc. We have called on authorities to make sure arrests and detentions are conducted in compliance with international human rights and domestic law, and ensure all security forces are trained on and understand these norms. We also asked them to ensure that there are sufficient, recognizable and precise grounds for arrest and that evidence is appropriately gathered. A suspect must only be arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that he or she may have committed a crime. If there are insufficient grounds for arrest, the person must be immediately released. Also we have recommended authorities to ensure that detainees are promptly brought before an independent civilian court that upholds international fair-trial standards, are informed of the charges against them, and have knowledge of and access to legal procedures allowing them to challenge the legality of their detention. As we have largely documented in the context of the fight against Boko Haram (we have observed dozens of trial proceedings at the military courts, including the trial of Mr Felix Agbor Balla, Mr Fontem and other Anglophones), we believe that there are several challenges for the Cameroonian justice system.
LACK OF INDEPENDENCE OF MILITARY COURTS – Military trials in Cameroon are heard by three people: the tribunal president, who is a military or civilian judge, and two military officers. While the tribunal president is trained in the law, the two military officers lack legal training. The lack of independence and impartiality of military courts raises serious due process concerns. Because such courts belong to the executive rather than the judicial branch of government, and are generally staffed by military officers subservient to the executive, they typically have an institutional tendency to defer to the executive’s dictates. Recognizing military courts’ inherent bias, the Principles on Fair Trial in Africa state that they “should not in any circumstances whatsoever have jurisdiction over civilians.” In addition, human rights mechanisms such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have stated categorically that military courts should not be authorized to impose the death penalty.183 Amnesty International considers that the jurisdiction of military courts should be limited to trials of military personnel for breaches of military discipline.
THIN AND UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE Perhaps the most serious failing in many of the proceedings we observed is the lack of solid evidence implicating the defendants. For the cases involving Boko Haram suspects, for ex, the evidence presented by the prosecution is in the form of written affidavits included in the case file, frequently from unnamed—and thus, to the defence, unknown—sources. The prosecution often relies heavily on circumstantial evidence that might plausibly raise a suspicion of criminal activity, but which should not be sufficient to support a conviction.
How do you sum up the mindsets of the 150 victims and eye witnesses that you spoke to when it comes to lasting solutions to the crisis? At least to the majority of people you spoke to what are the prerequisites for peace?
We did not ask the question about conditions for peace. We noted that the majority of them said that they won’t return unless there’s an independent state of Ambazonia (!)
Drawing from lessons from other parts of Africa and the world, why do you think the international has remained largely indifferent to the crisis in Cameroon, how bad does it have to get before more is done on their part to help in finding solutions?
We do not believe the international community has remained indifferent. On the contrary, it did mobilized and was at times vocal. This is definitely thanks also to the powerful diaspora, how it played out its messages and sometimes its propaganda. We think that there was definitely less attention about the Boko haram conflict, despite the scale, amount, gravity of HR violations committed by the security forces in the fight against Boko haram was way bigger than what we have seen in the N and S west.
What were some of the challenges involved in the production of the reports, how risky was it for those providing you information or associates of yours in the country who participated in compiling the report?
Access to the South and North West was limited / restricted and we had to find alternative/creative ways to collect and verify info, using for example satellite imagery to assess the scale of destruction of certain villages, as we were not able to go physically there
What next for Amnesty International in Cameroon after this report?
We’ll continue to monitor the situation on the ground, collect info about human rights violations and violence. We will follow up on the recommendations outlined in the report with both the Cameroonian authorities and the international partners of Cameroon, through advocacy, campaigning and lobbying.
Cameroon military and separatists fuel ‘cycle of violence’, says Amnesty
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
Escalating violence in Cameroon has led to armed separatists and security forces attacking and torturing people in the country’s Anglophone regions, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
“They tied our hands behind our backs, gagged us and tied our faces with our towels and shorts, which they tore. They, then made us lie in the water, face down for about 45 minutes,” a man, one of 23 people detained in the South-West region’s town of Dadi, told Amnesty of the alleged torture he experienced at the hands of military.
“During three days, they beat us with shovels, hammers, planks, and cables, kicked us with their boots and poured hot water on us… when I tried to move and shouted, one of them used the cigarette he was smoking to burn me.”
A teacher from a government school in the North-West region – one of the two mainly English-speaking areas where activists are demanding independence – told Amnesty how armed separatists raided the school and shot him in the leg.
“The assailant […] told me that I was still coming to school in defiance of calls for a schools boycott. He then asked me to raise my hands, but before I could do so, he shot me. I fell to the ground,” the teacher said.
These are some of the 150 accounts, from victims and eye-witnesses, documented by Amnesty about conflict in the Central African nation.
The mainly English-speaking the North-West and South West have been gripped by unrest since activists stepped up their campaign for independence in 2016.
They claim the country’s French-speaking majority is marginalising the English-speaking minority.
Amnesty alleges the ensuing government crackdown and unrest has gradually turned into an armed conflict, leaving the general population at the whim of two opposing forces.
“People in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are in the grip of a deadly cycle of violence,” Samira Daoud, Amnesty’s deputy director for the region, said in a statement.
“Their [government] heavy-handed response will do nothing to calm the violence – in fact it is likely to further alienate Anglophone communities and fuel further unrest,” she said.
“Security forces have indiscriminately killed, arrested and tortured people during military operations which have also displaced thousands of civilians,” Ms Daoud added.
The report alleges the military destroyed villages. It also claims detainees were blindfolded and severely beaten with wires, sticks, guns and wires, “as well as being electrocuted and burnt with hot water”, the report says.
Didier Badjeck, an army spokesman, dismissed Amnesty’s claims of torture and violence as “rumours”.
Armed separatists are also accused by Amnesty of killing 44 security force members and attacking dozens of schools between February 2017 and May 2018 in a bid to “strike fear amongst the population”.
Teachers and students are being targeted for not participating in the boycott of schools seen by many as a symbol of how the English language has been marginalised by the authorities, Amnesty says.
Separatists have gone “as far as burning down schools and targeting teachers who did not enforce the boycott,” Ms Daoud said.
Amnesty also documented five attacks on traditional chiefs, accused of sympathising with the government.
The rights’ group says authorities have to protect the general population by ensuring “accountability for crimes committed by the security forces as well as by the armed separatists”.
“They must immediately end the use of unlawful, unnecessary and excessive force and ensure that people are protected,” the report said.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has condemned “all acts of violence, regardless of their sources and their perpetrators,” in a 2017 Facebook post.
Cameroon was colonised by Germany and then split into British and French areas after World War One.