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Equatorial Guinea hold discussions with African Energy Chamber and updates on energy developments during Covid-19
August 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Chamber sought to understand the state of the hydrocarbon sector in the country and was briefed by the Minister and the Director on immediate and near-term plans by the Ministry.

Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima

Last week, the African Energy Chamber held a bilateral discussion with the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons of Equatorial Guinea, led by H.E Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, alongside the Director of Hydrocarbons, Robustiano Eyegue Ndong and NJ Ayuk, the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

The Chamber sought to understand the state of the hydrocarbon sector in the country and was briefed by the Minister and the Director on immediate and near-term plans by the Ministry.

Equatorial Guinea has moved its Year of Investment program to 2021, with plans to add many more investments opportunities and projects, while taking into consideration the challenges of Covid-19. For instance, the Ministry is continuing its mining drive-in with a strong focus on the mainland and expects to drive new mining programs in 2021.

The Minister agreed with the Chamber that Covid-19 has been a great disruptor to the energy sector. The Chamber urges the Equatorial Guinean government to continue working with oil and gas operators to find ways to ensure operations continue.

The Minister advised the Chamber that the rapid development of the Alen unitization project operated by Noble Energy will be delayed until 2021. This is liquid-rich gas and condensate field is located in Block O, about 32km off the east coast of Bioko Island, in Equatorial Guinea. However, the Alen backfill gas project into EGLNG remains on track, with the project scheduled to come online in the first quarter of 2021.

When pressed on the rapid approval of Chevron acquisition of Noble Energy, the Minister advised the Chamber that the Ministry is currently studying the transaction as it pertains to Equatorial Guinea and will respond in due course taking into consideration compliance with the laws and regulations of the country as well as binding legal instruments like the Production Sharing Contract.

On the Gas Mega Hub, the Chamber was informed that Equatorial Guinea has contracted UK-based firm Gas Strategies to continue working on a revised Gas Master Plan as the Minister believes it is an important step towards the country developing a timely, economic and equitable plan for to monetise gas, and with a clear vision towards having a Gas Mega Hub anchored around Punta Europa.

The Chamber commends the development of gas, as LNG stands to be a game changer in the local, regional and international energy markets. It also puts Equatorial Guinea in line with other members of the Gas Exporting Countries Forum, of which Equatorial Guinea is a member, when it comes to monetizing gas.

The Minister advised that exploration activity is still ongoing in the country, with Kosmos Energy likely to proceed with a drilling campaign in 2022. Furthermore, Trident Energy started a 4D seismic survey over its Block G assets, which contain the Ceiba and Okume fields offshore with a potential to drill three wells in 2021.

Finally, the Ministry is engaged in discussions with Venezuelan state company PDVSA on the upstream and the downstream sector.

“Equatorial Guinea is an important oil and gas player and continues to be a great partner in advancing the relationships with investors while promoting local content. The Chamber welcomes this dialogue and we remain committed to more engagements with African energy leaders because this is vitally important to the private sector.” said NJ Ayuk

“The African Energy Chamber, supported by leading energy companies, is confident that by working together, we will ensure win-win opportunities as well as engage candidly on serious issues with African governments. These frank, no-holds-barred conversations concerning our energy industry can guide African governments to create an enabling environment that is effective for investors and citizens alike.” concluded Ayuk

The African Energy Chamber periodically holds bilateral discussions with governments and institutions on energy issues in Africa. These discussions are important for leaders and investors to engage in discussions of the most important economic and commercial issues, including investment in oil and gas, infrastructure development, local content, and enabling policies that make in country operations better.

*African Energy Chamber

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August 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

Nigerian Pastor TB Joshua has offered ‘virtual prayer’ for healing for those afflicted with COVID-19 in an Isolation Centre in Honduras, Central America. 

By Gareth Watson*

A video posted to Emmanuel TV’s YouTube Channel showed the prominent cleric praying for bedridden patients hooked up to oxygen tanks and surrounded by hospital staff heavily laden with protective gear. 

“Where can we go from God’s presence? Distance is not a barrier because He is Spirit,”Joshua declared in front of several huge screens relaying in real-time the footage from the several wards within the Honduran Isolation Centre.

“By the power of the Holy Spirit – that affliction, that COVID-19 – be flushed out,” he prayed stretching forth his hands towards the dozens of patients on the multiple screens at the Emmanuel TV Studios in Lagos, Nigeria, in a program tagged ‘Interactive Prayer Session’.

During the prayer – which was translated simultaneously into Spanish – several patients began to involuntarily ‘vomit’ whilst others rose to their feet from their hospital beds, waved their hands joyously and removed the oxygen apparatus fixed to their nose as a sign of “supernatural healing”. 

“Jesus that has freed you will help you to maintain your miracle. Make the Word of God the standard for your life,” Joshua counselled after declaring dozens of COVID-19 patients “free”.

“I sensed the healing and delivering power of God,” explained Aracely, one of the Honduran patients, after the prayer. “I felt my lungs fill up with air… I’m no longer using the oxygen mask,” she testified. 

“I couldn’t go to the toilet before but immediately after the prayer, I felt like rushing to the toilet,” another patient immediately acknowledged. “I passed out a lot of foul substance – that was the power of the prayer.”

“I saw a white light that illuminated me and asked me to remove my oxygen mask,” another lady stated. “I’m not choking any longer,” she excitedly stated, with others testifying their sense of smell and taste was restored and their strength revitalized following the prayer.

Afterwards, representatives of the medical staff at the hospital thanked Joshua for his prayers and support.

The video concluded by stressing that it was not intended to “discourage anyone from seeking medical treatment” as “good Christians are good citizens”

“If you don’t believe in God with medicine, you cannot believe in God without medicine,”Joshua said.

Last month, the World Health Organisation reacted to a video in which a Cameroonian medical doctor was ‘healed’ of COVID-19 after receiving “interactive prayer” from Joshua’s ministry, acknowledging “spiritual leadership is very important in a time like this”.

Since starting its ‘Interactive Prayer Sessions’ – in which online prayer is offered via video calls – Joshua’s ministry has prayed for COVID-19 patients from around the world, prompting the cleric to recently declare his readiness to freely pray for those in Isolation Centers. 

Joshua, who had been absent for seven weeks from Emmanuel TV’s broadcasts, earlier shared a sermon titled ‘Mistakes Are Correctable’. 

“We wake up in the morning determined to get it right. Before we know it, we have missed the mark,” Joshua began, stressing that “making a mistake” was not the issue but “how we handle it matters.” 

“For instance, the issue of COVID-19 is a mistake. However, how we are handling it has led us to where we are today,” he continued, citing the uncertainties and “twists and turns of life”.

“If you make a mistake, as we all do sometimes, don’t run from God; run to Him,” Joshua taught, adding that mistakes actually “make Christian life more interesting and more valuable” and serve as a means to “draw us closer to God”.

“We made the call – and all of us have made the bad call in some areas of our lives,” he acknowledged, parabolically describing that everyone has “feet of clay to some extent”. 

Joshua concluded by calling on viewers to have a ‘genuine’ connection with God. “When we connect with Jesus genuinely by way of a personal relationship, He will walk you through everything you do,” he stressed, before proceeding to pray for viewers.

Joshua’s videos have been viewed over one billion times in various languages on YouTube, with his official English Channel reaching 1.7 million subscribers.

*Gareth Watson is a freelance journalist covering Sub Saharan Africa. He is usually based in Cape Town, South Africa.

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Covid-19 is real, say Kenyans as lecturer dies
August 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The death of Dr. Ken Ouko of the University of Nairobi has jolted many Kenyans
The death of Dr. Ken Ouko of the University of Nairobi has jolted many Kenyans

Kenyans have finally changed their tune about the coronavirus from “Covid-19 is a hoax” to “Covid-19 is real after a prominent lecturer succumbed to the virus.

Dr. Ken Ouko of University of Nairobi (UoN) died on Saturday according to the institution’s communication director John Orindi.

The sociologist breathed his last at Aga Khan Hospital in Nairobi where he was undergoing coronavirus treatment.

The 56- year-old don’s death brings the number of UoN lecturers who have died of the respiratory disease to five.

 On Friday, July 25, the university’s Vice Chancellor Professor Stephen Kiama through a post on social media averred that the Kenya’s oldest university had lost 4 members which included 3 active members of staff and one retired staffer.

He noted that some are receiving treatment in hospitals.

When the news about Dr. Ouko’s death was announced, a section of Kenyans paid tribute to him on Twitter and other social media sites as well as urging their compatriots to be careful and adhere to protocols issued by the Ministry of Health.

“The Demise of UoN Don and a fine sociologist Dr. Ken Ouko sends a chilling reality of #COVID19KE to my country men who still thinks C19 is a game or it’s for some people. This thing is real. DON’T BE IGNORANT!” warned Joseph Oti.

“Think of it guys, if covid 19 can humble people that can afford ICU beds and ventilators in their homes, what of you and me who lives from hand to mouth?” pause Dawn Ochieng’.

David Osiany added, “That Dr. Ken Ouko of UoN has succumbed to COVID-19 this morning is a chilling reminder that COVID kills. It has plucked one of the very finest. Ken was my lecturer & great friend. Exceptionally brilliant with a great sense of humour. Covid has reaped where it did not sow. Go well.”

“Another bad Saturday! Losing one of the best Sociologist in Kenya. Dr Ken Ouko imparted knowledge to thousands of students and he served with zeal, determination and patriotism. COVID-19 is real. Let’s continue to adhere to MOH protocols. May he rest in peace,” Ben Momanyi said.

The deceased has been described has brilliant and humorous.

“Dr Ken Ouko was my lecturer for just one unit at the UoN school of Law, yet he’s one of the few I remember as a favourite. He was such an easy happy soul and very committed to his work,” reiterated Karen Nyamu.

“The UoN community is so saddened by the death of Dr Ken Ouko,one of the best lecturers in the UoN. He always made the lecture hall brighter with his knowledge, wisdom and laughter May God be with his family and the University of Nairobi during this tough times,” noted Anne Mvurya Mwangi.

“Dr Ken Ouko! An incredible university don! Made psychology and sociology sound so simple and practical! So sad COVID has cut your life short,” said Norman Magaya.

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August 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Omar Arouna, MBA *

Omar Arouna is a former Ambassador of Benin to the USA

A cul-de-sac, also called, a dead end, is a passage with only one entrance or exit. In the game of chess, deadlock is a situation where the player whose turn it is to move has no legal movement.

Here, dead end is in reference to the context in which further resolution or action seems very difficult or unlikely to all. It is therefore clear on this day when we are celebrating sixty years of independence that we are at an impasse in Benin, in a cul-de-sac, socio-economic and political from all points of view.

Socio-economically, even if we will now be referred to as “lower middle-income countries” (after the tampering of economic “rebasing”) or “asphalting”, make no mistake about it; poverty remains rampant.

Frantic and recurring borrowing, all-out impositions and taxes, massive layoffs, frequent business closings, unemployed by the thousands, a tangential education system, the closure of borders with the wealthy neighbor to the east, the drastic decline in port traffic, purges within the army, the drop in the global cost of cotton, diplomatic isolation, embarrassment, denial of justice, flight of capital, the inability to provide social support for COVID-19, What else do I know … are warning signs of a dead end socio-economic situation, a cul-de-sac.

At the political level, the observation is clear. The country cannot move forward or make progress since the exclusion that led to the electoral crisis of May 2019 where several children of Benin have died, the population is paralyzed.

Crisogenic laws, a non-consensual constitution, an illegitimate national assembly, Non-elected municipal officials, institutions without credibility, exiles, resistance fighters, opponents,  fake opponents, supporters, fake supporters, candidates without godfathers, godfathers without candidates; an elusive presidential election … so many obvious signs of a muddy political context where no progress can be made due to fundamental disagreement. In short, it is a dead end, a cul-de-sac.

It’s hard not to yell “is there an adult in the house Benin, to talk to the head of state?” ; make him understand the alarming socio-economic context and above all explain to him that this provincial notion of development, which would exist absent of a democratic order or at odds with freedoms and human rights, is ludicrous and without merit. “Is there an adult in the house Benin to remind the Head of State” if the dream is still to be “carried in triumph at the end of his first and only term therefore  as in a dead end, a cul-de-sac,  he will have to turn around because the way out is the same as the way in… the restoration of democratic and republican order.

* Ambassador Arouna, MBA is Managing Partner at USAFCG, Founder and CEO of Global Specialty (GSL), Former Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Benin to the United States of America, and Representative of Benin to Mexico and to the Organization of the American states. He is a recognized expert on private sector investment in Africa, government relations, and US-Africa relations.

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2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Dr. Denis Mukwege insist death threats and intimidations will not deter his cause
August 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Denis Mukwege received the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 for his efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war [File: Lise Aserud/EPA]
Denis Mukwege received the Nobel Peace Prize 2018 for his efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war [File: Lise Aserud/EPA]

Renowned Congolese gynecological surgeon, Pastor, and co-winner of the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Denis Mukwege has revealed he is receiving death threats anew against his life and that of family members.

The Internationally acclaimed human rights activist, famous for treating more than 50,000 victims of war rape in his Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo in a press release stated that “Since my tweet on Sunday, July 26 denouncing the recent massacre in Kipupu in Mwenga territory in South Kivu, I have received various hate mail, and members of my family have been intimidated and threatened.”

Dr. Denis Mukwege has survived two assassination attempts since 2012 believes the threats are a distraction from people who seek to prevent him from forging ahead with his investigation into killings in the DRC and his support to try those responsible.

His Friday June 31 statement a copy of which was sent to our newsroom states that “22 years ago, I discovered the dramatic consequences of the war on Congolese soil, in the Kivus region and in other provinces of our country. Since then, I have not ceased to campaign for the search for truth and the application of justice, without which we cannot hope for lasting peace. No matter the period, no matter the region of the world, no lie, no falsified construction of history has ever succeeded in sustaining peace. Executioners and victims have no future if they are condemned to live a lie,” the statement partially read.

 Reiterating he will not give in to threats or let go of his mission to seek justice, multiple award-winning Dr. Denis said he will continue to advocate for the creation of a special jurisdiction to try crimes in Congo.

“For almost 10 years, I have been advocating for the examination of the Mapping Report carried out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. This report contains a compilation of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocides detailed from 1993 to 2003. Without analyzing these crimes—which mark the history of the Congo—and without justice being rendered for these crimes, no people involved in these conflicts will be able to recover or live in peace,” the statement added.

Clinging to the dogma that “telling the truth is the start of change”, the 65-year-old Pentecostal pastor who become the world’s leading specialist in the treatment of wartime sexual violence and a global campaigner against the use of rape as a weapon of war was blunt in pointing out that “No intellectual malfeasance, no threat, no intimidation, will prevent me from expressing myself on the reality of the atrocities experienced by the populations of my country.”

Acknowledging that the search for truth is always a difficult process, Dr. Denis Mukwege has been strongly advocating for the examination of the Mapping Report carried out by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights – so the report which contains a compilation of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocides detailed from 1993 to 2003 analyzes and justice rendered.

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Namibia: The current situation about Covid-19 crisis
August 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Andreas Thomas

President Hage Geingob Commissioning COVID-19 treatment facilities in Windhoek, Namibia.Photo credit WHO
President Hage Geingob Commissioning COVID-19 treatment facilities in Windhoek, Namibia.Photo credit WHO

Windhoek – Namibia’s rate of daily new cases of Covid-19 has now risen to the fourth highest in Africa, after South Africa at the top, followed by Eswatini and Gabon.

Since the first case of the coronavirus was recorded in March 2020, the pandemic has since changed rapidly in the country of just over two million people.

The infection has been slowly spreading in the past four months with 1000 cases recorded. However, the sudden surge in new infections in the past 14 days has seen Namibia surpassing 2000 mark.

The situation has been getting worse with the country recording on average of over 60 cases of news infections of coronavirus.

As of 31 July, 2 129 cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed in Namibia with 10 deaths.

There are confirmed cases in 12 regions across the country, except the Kavango West in the northeast and Omaheke in the eastern part of the country.

There is a concern of the virus spreading through community transmission with hotspots in the Erongo region, in the central-west of Namibia.

Specifically, the harbour town of Walvis Bay accounts for 95 per cent of Covid-19 infections. Increased cases have also been experienced in the capital Windhoek in Khomas region and towns in the Karas region.

From the onset of the pandemic, President Hage Geingob and his administration have made public health the top priority.

Geingob has been directing the national effort against the crisis from a situation room at State House in Windhoek.  

“From the onset of this pandemic, I have maintained that the health of Namibians is our biggest priority,” the head of state reiterated his commitment in a statement on Friday, 31 July.

 “With the rising number of cases in the country, the public needs to be assured that the government is putting in place all necessary measures to respond to the situation. We will continue to do everything in our power to mitigate the impact of this pandemic.”

He added that the government is continuously strengthening the public health sector and national testing capacity.

With the rapid spread of the virus, health authorities have scrambled to ramp up testing with 27,785 tests conducted as part of the Targeted Mass Testing and active case search. This represents a testing ratio of 10.1 people per 1,000, among the highest in Africa.

The country has expanded the laboratory capacities, with an average of 1150 tests per day. The government will increase laboratory testing centres from the current three to five in the coming week to boost the capacity to quarantine and isolate positive cases.

President Geingob has also paid tribute to Covid-19 frontline workers while promised to employ health professionals to battle the pandemic.

“With the rising number of infections, Cabinet has approved the recruitment of more health professionals to strengthen our national response.

“Some development cooperation partners have also availed health workers and experts to support our response. We sincerely appreciate our medical personnel and other frontline workers who risk their lives daily to serve their fellow countrymen and women,” he said.

Meanwhile, the government has adopted new quarantine and isolation protocols.  The new quarantine protocols announced by Health and Social Services Minister Dr. Kalumbi Shangula on 31 July said the quarantine protocols are structured into three tiers.

In tier 1 and where there is no community transmission, the duration of quarantine is reduced from 14 to seven days in approved facilities. People will be tested at the end of the quarantine and will be released if the results are negative.

For Tier 2, in case community transmission is confirmed, patients will be quarantined for a minimum of seven days. Their contacts will be tested at the end of the quarantine, on day seven will be released if they test negative or placed in isolation if positive. Shangula noted that contacts would be allowed to quarantine at home if their home is suitable.

Tier 3 (a) requires travellers arriving into the country to be quarantined for seven days in approved facilities. The minister explained that travellers are expected to arrive with negative PCR-based results that are not older than seven days. They will only be tested on day seven and can be discharged with negative results.

Minister Shangula said Tier 3 (b) is for special dispensation under the Tourism Revival Initiative. “The length of quarantine is seven days in approved facilities. Travellers are expected to arrive with negative PCR-based results and tested within seven days of arrival in Namibia. They will be tested on day five and discharged on negative results,” he said.

Namibia has also revised the isolation protocol to be adopted under three thresholds.

With the new protocols, asymptomatic patients will be discharged from isolation 10 days after the positive test for Covid-19.

Under the first threshold, all positive cases are managed in isolation units at designated health facilities regardless of the severity of illness.

For threshold two, only severe and critical cases and those at higher risk of developing severe disease or complications due to co-morbidities will be managed at health facilities.

While in the third threshold, isolation in health facilities would only be used for severe cases.

“Non-severe cases or cases at higher risk of developing severe disease due to comorbidities will be managed in repurposed facilities. All other cases or persons who have living spaces that are amenable for home isolation would be allowed to do so,” the health minister explained.

Shangula has since assured the general public that, that science has proven that a person cannot infect another person with a virus after 10 days of infection if their symptoms have gone away.

“This means that our numbers of recoveries will rise quickly. This is to be expected. It is because we now know that recovery should be based on resolving symptoms, and counting at least 10 days after the infection started.

It has been proven that a person may test positive for Covid-19, for many more weeks after the symptoms have resolved. However, this does not mean such a person is still infective or poses a risk to infect others,” Shangula said.

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Arrests galore in Malawi as former President Mutharika is probed
August 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

President Chakwera has the last laugh as he goes after corrupt officials in the previous administration of Peter Mutharika
President Chakwera has the last laugh as he goes after corrupt officials in the previous administration of Peter Mutharika

There have been key arrests of senior government officials in the Peter Mutharika administration, most of which however hovering on corrupt practices.

The arrests come as the incumbent leader Lazarus Chakwera announced a heft plan to deal with corruption and accused the Mutharika administration of swindling about MK1 Trillion in various dubious deals.

However, the former ruling Democratic Progressive Party has described the accusations as political.

So far, Mutharika’s former aide Norman Chisale has been netted for about four charges, one of which is an attempted murder of a woman in Blantyre while on the high profile is the reported dubious purchase of cement by Mutharika, in which it is believed the bodyguard played the biggest role.

Asian trader Ahmed Chunara was also arrested over same matter, according to police records.

Mutharika has also been reportedly interrogated over the matter. The interrogation came days after he denied any wrong doing as it is alleged.

Mutharika, who is currently at his residence in the lakeshore district of Mangochi has distanced himself from the allegations, his privileges were used to import the said valued at about MK 5 Billion.

In a statement, the 80 year old said during his reign, he has neither bought nor instructed any person to purchase cement on his behalf.

He also says he has never undertaken any construction work that would require such an amount of cement while also stating that he does not trade in any cement deals.

As if this is not enough, the Malawi Revenue Authority has also pounced on Mutharika’s ex-Chief of Staff, Peter Mukhito subsequently impounding his 7 posh vehicles for what is believed as tax evasion.

The latest arrests have sparkled growing debate on whether really Mutharika might have known of the alleged illicit deals by his right hand men or that he was hoodwinked into believing the deals were not of that extent.

Meanwhile, law scholar Professor Danwood Chirwa posting on his Facebook, argues that there  is need for law enforcers to trade carefully on such arrests as there would be legal complications.

He was directly reacting to incidents involving Chisale who has had to be re-arrested just minutes after been granted bail over other two counts.

‘’Even the most devious suspect or accused has due process rights must be respected. The police cannot render court orders worthless by endlessly re-arresting suspects or accused persons.

At the moment, Chakwera has warned his leadership will not spare any people who might have been involved in corruption including those that are part of his regime.

The incidents have also come as hearing of the case involving business tycoon Thom Mpinganjira is slated to start.

Mpinganjira, is accused of attempting to bribe judges that heard the historical presidential case, whose ruling was the nullification of the results and the eventual triumph of Chakwera in the fresh poll.

He has since the charges. He heads one of Malawi’s elite banks, the FDH.

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Malawi: Covid19 cases boom as more tests are conducted
August 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

People wash their hands as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus .Photo Amos Gumulira/AFP via Getty Images
People wash their hands as a preventive measure against the spread of coronavirus .Photo Amos Gumulira/AFP via Getty Images

Malawi has over the last few weeks been faced with a boom in its Covid19 cases, a situation government says is worrisome and poses a threat to the nation.

Malawi had its first case in April, but has now recorded about 4000 cases. Over 50 cases are now been registered daily.

So far, 109 people have died although 1,807 have recovered.

Latest statistics from the ministry of health show that there are now 2065 active cases.

However, more tests have been heavily conducted in the last two weeks. This followed the arrival of 38,000 tests kits, which cane into the country at a time when government admitted that the country was running short of supply and would not be testing more people.

So far, just 29, 599 tests have been conducted, figures that have sparked calls for an intensive testing exercise.

It is heavily believed that most transmissions occurred when Malawi was holding its fresh presidential poll in June, as campaign rallies still gathered larger crowds.

However, Covid19 measures were observed during polling, but it was not seemingly the case as celebrations came through about five days after polling.

So far, schools, sporting activities remains halted. Companies have also started undertaking measures such as developing shifts, conducting tests on workers, disinfecting working premises and making mandatory the wearing of masks,.

There was a failed lockdown when Peter Mutharika was president as civil society organizations argued that there were no enough cushioning measures as the economy was still ailing.

President Lazarus Chakwera has however, called on Malawians to exercise Covid91 measures and stated that his government is still engaging stakeholders on possible means to open up some industries.

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South Sudan:Support us your leaders, embrace peace – President Kiir
August 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

President Salva Kiir

Juba – On Martyrs Day, South Sudan President Salva Kiir has called on South Sudanese to embrace peaceful coexistence as a way of supporting the implementation of the fragile revitalized peace agreement.

Martyrs Day was proclaimed in 2011 by the government to commorated the death of the SPLM/A, Dr. John Garang De Mabior, who died in a helicopter – crash on his way from Uganda on July 30th, 2005, and also to remember and honor those who dedicated and sacrificed their ultimate lives for the two decades of civil war in Sudan, which claimed over million lives.

South Sudanese took up arms against subsequent Sudanese regimes in 1955 and 1983 to protest years of marginalization, injustices, resources mismanagement, and lack of development in the South region.

However, this year’s commemorations comes at a time when South Sudan is still implementing the peace deal and battling with the global coronavirus pandemic.

President Kiir used the occasion to encourage South Sudanese to embrace peace in their interaction and by “promoting tolerance and harmonious co-existence among our communities in all that you do and exercise tolerance towards one another and end unwarranted conflicts.

Kiir said a fitting tribute to those who died during the civil war would be to enhance peace and harmony among communities in South Sudan.

“I urge you to use this year’s Martyrs Day to reflect individually and collectively as a society about our nation’s future,” said Kiir. “I am equally calling upon all of you to support us your leaders, in our efforts to consolidate peace and reconciliation, we would like you to cheer us,” remarked President Salva Kiir in his Martyrs Day speech on Thursday, July 30, 2020.

“As we work tirelessly to over challenges associated with peace implementation, we would like like you to cheer us on by embracing peace in your interactions and by promoting tolerance and harmonious co-existence among our communities in all that you can do,” said President Kiir. If we all embarks on this path, we will realizes our aspirations for permanent peace and stability more quickly and demonstrate to skeptics that we can overcome our problems.”

Those who spokes to this media criticized the leaders for prioritizing selfish political interests over public security, agriculture, education, health, infrastructure, among others.They said the government has abundant the widows, orphans and war veterans.

“We are just here without help or support from the government,” said Adau Gabriel, a widow in Juba. After independence, I thought our situation would improve, but nothing has changed. We are still suffering, and the government must do something about it.”

The wives and children of some of the martyrs have decried what they call years of neglect by the government and as the current leaders have failed to live up the promises of the liberation struggle.

“It is very unfortunate that the widows and their children are still suffering even though their loved ones lost their lives for this country,” said Chol Atem, a student activist.

In honor of the martyrs, the Transitional Constitution mandates the government to support orphans, widows, disabled war veterans and care for the dependents of deceased war heroes and heroines.

The observers said that the leaders have used the last 15 years of self-governance in South Sudan to enrich themselves.

In his remarks to the world in Nairobi, Kenya on January 9, 2005, Dr. John Garang pledged that the SPLM would implement a social, political and economic development strategy and programmes that include using oil money to strengthen agriculture as the engine of growth.

Dr. Garang’s aspiration emphasized on developing health, education, and water sector

Besides, the SPLM document on transformation from War to Peace also created a blueprint for building physical infrastructure – roads, rail and river transport and telecommunications by involving the state and local communities in the infrastructure building.

“There is no meaning of revolution unless it makes our people happy. Unless the masses of our people -as a result of the revolution become prosperous, they advance, and they get food, shelter, clean drinking water, education and they get health services, then our people will prefer the government of the NIF [the then ruling National Islamic Front in Sudan] that provides salt to the government of the SPLM that does not provide salt,” stressed Dr. John Garang in one of his speeches.

President Kiir appealed for patience saying with efforts to restore peace in the country.

“However, what our situation doesn’t need now is this widespread culture of using made up stories with the hope of gaining some leverage in the political discourse. Lies doesn’t bring people together nor do they conflicting views – my advice to those not take them or the country – what we all need to do instead is to desist from using undesirable propaganda and focus on working together irrespective of our political differences to restore peace and transition the country to the phase where its people will determine its leadership,” said Kiir.

Peace, stability and developments had been bogged and blighted down by renewed conflicts since 2013. These conflicts have been attributed to power wrangles among the country’s elites, claimed nearly 380,00 people and uprooted four million people from their homes, before it had ruined the country’s economy.

Dr. Garang’s goal was to restore the dignity of the people.

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Cameroon: CHRDA Trains CSOs on Human Rights Monitoring, Investigating, Documenting and Reporting
July 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Major presentations centered on methods of monitoring, how to conduct an investigation, the importance of understanding international human rights law

Over 30 civil society representatives from across the South West Region of Cameroon received training on monitoring, documenting and reporting on human rights violations in Cameroon. This was during a one-day training workshop organized by the Centre for Human Rights and Democracy in Africa (CHRDA), in partnership with the German Embassy in Cameroon on Saturday the 25th of July, 2020.

The training session, organized under the theme “Monitoring, Investigating, Documenting and Reporting Human Rights violations in Cameroon”, sought to build the capacity of human right defenders, civil society groups and Individuals currently monitoring, investigating and reporting human rights abuses and violations committed in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon.

The training comes amidst worsening human rights and humanitarian catastrophe in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions and falls in line with CHRDA’s capacity building programme for human rights defenders and civil society groups in Cameroon.

Speaking, Bar. Agbor Nkongho Felix President of CHRDA stressed on the importance of knowing the goals and objectives of monitoring human rights violations, as well as the necessity in respecting due process when reporting violations. He regretted the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has been affecting the works of human rights actors, though he encouraged participants to share the knowledge gathered with their respective organizations to ensure adequate promotion and protection of human rights in times of crisis.

Akem Kelvin Nkwain, Human Rights Officer at CHRDA, in his presentation stated that the training is important as it is a way of keeping track of all human rights atrocities committed by the different actors, and to hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes by eventually seeking for justice.

He added that this training was delivered to human rights defenders as a means to give justice and the rule of law a chance to prevail over impunity, not only in Cameroon but everywhere in the world. “As human rights defenders, we try to put an end to the impunity which could be achieved if we monitor document and report gross human rights abuses,” Akem Kelvin said.

 The second session focused more on documentation and report writing. During this session, the emphasis was laid on the importance of accuracy and details in human rights reporting, citation of sources, cross-checking of information, impartiality, the use of qualitative and quantitative information. Tonga Benjamin, Humanitarian Officer at CHRDA, ended his presentation with a quote from Dina Asad, Euro-Med Monitor Coordinator on investigating human rights, which states “when human rights violations are not investigated, documented and reported and serious consequences do not follow, human blood becomes easier to shed.”

Participants at the workshop expressed their gratitude and satisfaction to the organizers of the training session especially because it comes at a time in which the human rights situations in the two English speaking regions of Cameroon have been deteriorating.

Major presentations delivered at the workshop included but are not limited to, the meaning of monitoring and investigation, the methods of monitoring, how to conduct an investigation, the importance of understanding international human rights law, humanitarian and criminal law as tools to protection and promotion of human rights. 

Dr Vera Fokum, Executive Director of CHRDA said the timing of the training program could not be underestimated especially within the context of the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. “We need to be seen on the field and most importantly, we need to serve as genuine defenders in the face of alarming violations of human rights. The necessity of this workshop cannot be underestimated especially with the current situation in the North West and South West Regions.

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Cameroon: COVID-19 is not over. We need to follow the Barrier Measures – Experts Say
July 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Officials say the respect of barrier measures against COVID-19 is imperative by all

Health officials say Cameroonians should continue to adhere to the barrier measures put in place against the Coronavirus. This according to the officials will help in flattening the curve in the country.

In a webinar organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation titled “Assessing Cameroon’s Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic” on July 30, 2020, the experts say everyone has the responsibility to sensitize their communities against the virus.

The webinar sought to evaluate the interventions taken by the Cameroon government in response to the pandemic, the challenges faced, and the way forward for Cameroon’s growth and development amidst the pandemic.

Assessing the implementation in the country, Professor Emeritus Rose Gana Fomban Leke, Queen Mother Cameroon Medical Community, Heroine of Health 2018 said at the beginning the disease was taken lightly, and there was a lot of relaxation in terms of wearing masks, the practising of social distancing. “These measures are not being respected across the country. Going into stores before now you had to wash your hands and other measures, but today that is not the case,” Prof Emeritus Rose Leke said.

“… Groups, mayors and others have taken upon themselves to carry out sensitization campaigns in their areas, and hopefully, things will improve,” She added.

Statistics provided by Cameroon’s Health Minister indicates that the confirmed cases in the country stood at 17, 225, as of July 29, 2020. 15, 320 have recovered from the virus, while 387 have died. 149,000 tests have been carried out with a lethality rate of 2.2 per cent.

The government of Cameroon has put measures aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, though the measures have in most cases been abandoned, and the government criticized for relaxing some of the measures.

 The wearing of face masks has been identified as one of the best methods of preventing COVID-19. The government has been calling on Cameroonians to wear masks always, but moving along the streets shows a different scenario. Many Cameroonians flout this measure and some even say there is no COVID-19. 

Professor Charles Wiysonge, Director of the South African Cochrane Centre said the wearing of face masks in Cameroon stands at a rate of 60-80%. “We hope the rate goes up to 95% which will prevent more people from dying,” He said.

The world is moving at a fast rate in terms of looking for a vaccine for the coronavirus. America, Britain and China are already in phase three trials to get a vaccine. Professor Charles Wiysonge on this aspect said no corners will be taken in the production of a vaccine for consumption.

“Vaccines take a number of years before it is validated. Today, we are talking about 12-18 months or less with the speed at which the trails are ongoing. Those vaccines that will not stand the testing capabilities will be thrown out. Nobody will be given bad vaccines. Safety is of utmost importance. I can assure you care is taken because it is recommended and safe,” Prof. Wiysonge said.

The government has ordered the production of Chloroquine, a drug used for the treatment of malaria. Professor Leke said the drugs will be produced as the order was given a few months ago by the President of the Republic. “Many studies have shown that the drug is effective and that is where the government is heading. COVID-19 has taught us a lesson, putting more in research and aspects which are critical in making the country self-sufficient,” She said.

The drug has been touting by US President Donald Trump. Scientists and even the World Health Organization, WHO has not confirm the veracity of the drug. “What is the essence of that drug? Chloroquine has not been proven to treat COVID-19 successfully. It was unfortunate that Donald Trump took this thing up, spoke about it and publicized it,” a German-based Medical Doctor questioned.

The Nkafu policy institute was encouraged to counteract the misconception and misinformation about the ongoing vaccine trials around the world. There has been a growing concern around the world that the vaccines being produced will have a negative connotation on Africans. “Communities need to see the benefits of the vaccines as if not, there would be a lot of trouble in the future.” Emeritus Professor Leke said.  

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Tanzania missing from a list of countries allowed to fly into Kenya
July 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

 Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia
Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia

The government of Kenya has produced a list of 11 countries whose citizens will be allowed to fly into the country when the international flights resume on August 1, 2020.

The list unveiled by the Transport Cabinet Secretary James Macharia on Thursday had China, South Korea, Japan, Canada, Zimbabwe and France. Others are Ethiopia, Rwanda, Uganda, Namibia and Morocco.

Speaking during the daily press briefing on Covid-19, Mr. Macharia said the government selected only countries whose Coronavirus cases have declined stating that the list is subjected to change since the virus situation keeps on changing.

He said the ministry had laid protocols to be followed by both travellers flying in and out of the country.

The minister averred that arriving passengers with a PCR-based COVID-19 negative certificate and body temperature not exceeding 37.5°C and do not have difficulty in breathing, repeated cough and proved they were tested 96 hours before travel will be excused from quarantine.

Passengers who arrive after curfew that is after 9pm will have to produce a valid passport and a boarding pass before being allowed to proceed to their residential places or hotels. Their drivers will also have to prove they were from the airport.

Passengers flying out of the country will be required to abide to Covid-19 regulations of the destination countries.

Missing from the list is Kenya’s neighbour Tanzania which has not reported Coronavirus cases since April. Tanzanian President John Magufuli had declared the country Covid-19 free.

On July 27 while address the nation, President Uhuru Kenyatta cautioned Kenyans against thinking that countries which are not releasing the novel virus data are doing better in handling the respiratory disease.

“Let’s not compare ourselves and say some places don’t have the virus. Why do we have it, and they don’t? Let me remind Kenyans, we live in a democracy where there is media freedom. As a state, we don’t have the power to hide anything. Whatever happens, we tell you. There are others who have that power. But we are proud of the fact that we are a democracy and are able to tell each other the truth and face the reality instead of sweeping the truth under the carpet and have our citizens suffer quietly,” Uhuru said.

The Ministry of Health on Thursday confirmed 788 new cases pushing the country’s tally to 19,913.

14 others died raising death toll to 235.

The number of recoveries hit 8, 121 after 100 people got discharged.

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