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Adesina Urges America to Support African Agriculture as a Business
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments
I do not seek aid for Africa. I seek investments in Africa – Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank
Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank and Sonny Perdue, Secretary of Agriculture

ARLINGTON, United States of America, February 22, 2018/ — The President of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org), Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has made a strong case for increased American and global investments to help unlock Africa’s agriculture potential.

He made the remarks as the Distinguished Guest Speaker, at the USDA’s 94th Agriculture Outlook Forum (www.USDA.gov/oce/forum) in Virginia on Thursday, on the theme The Roots of Prosperity.

According to Adesina, “For too long, Agriculture has been associated with what I call the three Ps – pain, penury, and poverty. The fact though is that agriculture is a huge wealth-creating sector that is primed to unleash new economic opportunities that will lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

Participants at the Forum included the Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue; Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, Stephen Censky; President of the World Food Prize Foundation, Kenneth Quinn; Chief Economist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Robert Johansson; Deputy Chief Economist, Warren Preston; and several top level government officials and private sector operators.

Adesina appealed to the US private sector to fundamentally change the way it views African agriculture.

“Think about it, the size of the food and agriculture market in Africa will rise to US $ 1 trillion by 2030. This is the time for US agri-businesses to invest in Africa,” he said. ‘’And for good reason: Think of a continent where McKinsey projects household consumption is expected to reach nearly $2.1 trillion and business-to-business expenditure will reach $3.5 trillion by 2025. Think of a continent brimming with 840 million youth, the youngest population in the world, by 2050.”

The U.S. government was urged to be at the forefront of efforts to encourage fertilizer and seed companies, manufacturers of tractors and equipment, irrigation and ICT farm analytics to ramp up their investments on the continent.

“As the nation that first inspired me and then welcomed me with open arms, permit me to say that I am here to seek a partnership with America: a genuine partnership to help transform agriculture in Africa, and by so doing unlock the full potential of agriculture in Africa, unleash the creation of wealth that will lift millions out of poverty in Africa, while creating wealth and jobs back home right here in America,” the 2017 World Food Prize Laureate  told the Forum.”

Adesina told more than 2,000 delegates that the African Development Bank is spearheading a number of transformative business and agricultural initiatives.

“We are launching the Africa Investment Forum, as a 100% transactional platform, to leverage global pension funds and other institutional investors to invest in Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa from November 7-9.”

The World Bank, International Finance Corporation, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the Islamic Development Bank, are partnering with the African Investment Forum to de-risk private sector investments.

The African Development Bank is also pioneering the establishment of Staple Crop Processing Zones  in 10 African countries, that are expected to transform rural economies into zones of economic prosperity and save African economies billions of dollars in much needed foreign reserves.

“We must now turn the rural areas from zones of economic misery to zones of economic prosperity. This requires a total transformation of the agriculture sector. At the core of this must be rapid agricultural industrialization. We must not just focus on primary production but on the development of agricultural value chains,” Adesina added. “That way, Africa will turn from being at the bottom to the top of global value chains.”

In his keynote address U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Sonny Perdue, said:

“The U.S. Administration has removed more restrictive regulations to agriculture than any other administration. Our goal is to dismantle restrictions that have eroded agricultural business opportunities.”

“Agriculture feeds prosperity and accounts for 20 cents of every dollar. As global prosperity grows, it in turn fuels the demand for more nutritious food and business opportunities,” he added.

In his concluding remarks, Adesina informed participants about a new $ 1 billion initiative, Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) to unlock Africa’s huge potential in the savannahs.

Expressing strong optimism that the future millionaires and billionaires of Africa will come from agriculture, Adesina said:

“Together, let our roots of prosperity grow downwards and bear fruit upwards. As we do, rural Africa and rural America will brim with new life, much like I witnessed in Indiana, during my time as a graduate student in America. Then, we will have changed the 3 ‘Ps’ to – Prosperity, Prosperity and Prosperity!”

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 44 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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Zimbabwe’s air traffic controllers fear that country’s airspace could be blacklisted
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Air Traffic Controllers Association of Zimbabwe (ATCAZ) has called for the modernisation of air navigation (air traffic control) infrastructure in a submission to the Portfolio Committee on Transport and Infrastructural Development public hearing on the civil aviation amendment bill 2017.

 

The purpose of the bill is to amend the civil aviation act No. 7 of 1998.According to Evans Makuku, President of the Air Traffic Controllers Association of Zimbabwe (ATCAZ) the association says that it notes that a lot of effort is being put into administrative issues at the expense of operational needs, particularly the radio communication and
surveillance systems.

Makuku said that the association has been calling for the modernisation of air navigation (air traffic control) infrastructure for several years.

“The ground to ground and ground to air radio communication systems is in shambles while the surveillance system which was installed in 1991 has become obsolete. Air traffic control is inundated by reports of poor radio
reception/transmission from pilots on a daily basis,” Makuku said .

Makuku said that it is so frustrating and tiresome to repeat one transmission several times trying to understand each other. ATCAZ said that if the issue is not attended to as a matter of urgency there is real risk of Zimbabwe’s airspace being blacklisted.

The association added that Zimbabwe has now become an island in terms of surveillance in the Southern Africa region. They added that all of Zimbabwe’s neighbours now have surveillance. ATCAZ says that South Africa, Botswana and Zambia all have radar while Mozambique is moving ahead installing Automatic Dependency
Surveillance Broadcast (ADS-B).

“We now lag far behind although we were the leaders and ahead of the pack in the 90’s. We do not need piece meal legislation. The aviation bill should be fully amended to satisfy all the ICAO recommendations while the modernisation of air navigation infrastructure takes place,” Makuku said.

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ACBF appointed African Union specialised agency for capacity development
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission with African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) management after ceremony in Harare

Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission with African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) management after ceremony in Harare

The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) has been appointed as a specialised agency for capacity development by the African Union (AU) at a ceremony endorsed by Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of
the African Union Commission in Harare.

Under the new framework, capacity development activities ACBF is going to undertake under will include enhancing skills required to achieve sustainable development,strengthening the human and institutional capacity of national and regional institutions,promoting economic and social transformation through policy formulation,implementation, monitoring and evaluation focusing on Africa’s developmental agenda and generating and sharing knowledge on capacity development.

It is reported that the African Union Commission shall, subject to its applicable internal procedures facilitate effective collaboration with ACBF Agency through the commission and other relevant organs of the Union, collaborate with the ACBF Agency in joint resource mobilization initiatives for the financing of
capacity building interventions in the continent and facilitate the ACBF Agency role in coordinating capacity building initiatives on the African continent.

The ACBF agency shall also create a consultative forum in which Africans may participate as full partners in the establishment of priorities and the development of policies and programs to promote capacity building in policy analysis and development management, establish processes for coordinating capacity building efforts in
policy formulation and implementation that would lead to greater efficiency and effectiveness of
ongoing donor efforts, coordinate resource mobilization to provide funding and resources for capacity building in Africa, lead, coordinate and champion production of fit-for-purpose, high-quality, and timely capacity development knowledge in support of the implementation of Africa’s development priorities, coordinate
knowledge connection (government, private sector and academia), facilitation and sharing to improve development practices, coordinate capacity development advisory services and training at continental, regional and country levels to translate capacity development knowledge and learning into relevant and innovative methods and
practices, support the emergence of a knowledge-based economy to sustain development results
in Africa, publish and disseminate information related to capacity building and capacity
utilization in Africa, collaborate with national, bilateral or multilateral institutions carrying out specific capacity building and capacity utilization activities in Africa.

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Zimbabwe’s new government aiming to revamp Air Zimbabwe
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Vice President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga

Vice President Retired General Constantino Chiwenga

Zimbabwe’s minister of transport and infrastructural development,
Joram Gumbo has been tasked by the new government to urgently revamp
Air Zimbabwe to ensure that it plays its key role as a national flag
carrier in facilitating the movement of tourists both locally and
internationally.

Constantino Chiwenga, Zimbabwe’s Vice President told delegates at a
national tourism sector strategy validation workshop held by the
ministry of Tourism and the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) in Harare
that the minister of transport was tasked to carry out the mandate
within the 100 days period for economic turn-around initiatives from
1 January, 2018.

According to Chiwenga, efforts are underway to acquire new state of
the art equipment to improve aircraft and baggage handling at the
National Handling Services (NHS) to make tourists’ experiences more
memorable.

“To boost tourist arrivals, it is critical for government and
private sector to collaborate in developing air access infrastructure
at tourist attractions such as the Eastern Highlands, Great Zimbabwe,
the Lowveld and Mapungubwe,” Chiwenga said.

He also added that plans are underway to develop new airports in
Mutare and Beitbridge as well as refurbishments at Robert Mugabe
international airport, Kariba and Buffalo Range airports.

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The politics of fear is dying out in Africa
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Netsanet Belay*

FROM LEFT: President Uhuru Kenyata, former President Jacob Zuma and former Prime Minister Hailemariam

FROM LEFT: President Uhuru Kenyata, former President Jacob Zuma and former Prime Minister Hailemariam

Lenin was once quoted as saying, “There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” This could perfectly describe the past week in Africa. Across the continent, a number of game-changing political developments have followed each other in quick succession in one of the most tumultuous weeks of any decade.

In South Africa, Jacob Zuma resigned after a presidency marked by corruption and impunity. Shortly after, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn stood down following months of intensifying public protest. In the same week, Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s long-standing opposition leader, passed away after a lifetime spent challenging human rights violations under former President Robert Mugabe.
The pace of these successive changes has been significant, but the ground has been stirring for some time. Last year Africa bid farewell to its three longest-serving leaders: Yahya Jammeh of Gambia (22 years), José Eduardo dos Santos of Angola (38 years) and Zimbabwe’s Mugabe (37 years) — all leaders of governments known for their brutal repression of dissent.
Given the scale and long history of the repression enacted by these governments, many thought they would not live to see their end. In Gambia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia, recent developments were unthinkable — until they happened.
Who could have imagined that the gates of Ethiopia’s notorious prisons would open so widely, allowing thousands of prisoners of conscience to walk free? That Eskinder Nega, the courageous journalist who spent seven years behind bars for criticizing the government, would finally be reunited with his family?
Who in Gambia would have believed that Ousainou Darboe and Amadou Sanneh, two former Amnesty International prisoners of conscience who spent years in jail for speaking out against repression, would be ministers in the new government?
Who would have dared to question the reign of dos Santos and see his family lose its grip over Angola’s oil industry and wealth?
The growing resilience of people standing up against repression and demanding respect for human rights is a cause for hope in uncertain times. It suggests the politics of fear may finally be withering away.
Since 2016, mass protests and people’s movements — often articulated and organized through social media — have swept the continent.
#Oromoprotests and #amaharaprotests in Ethiopia, #ThisFlag in Zimbabwe and #FeesMustFall in South Africa were some of the most powerful manifestations of this growing defiance. These protests were often spontaneous, viral and driven by ordinary citizens, in particular young people who bear the triple burden of unemployment, poverty and inequality.
This trend continued in 2017. From Lomé to Freetown, Khartoum to Kampala and Kinshasa to Luanda, people went out to the streets in large numbers, ignoring threats and bans on protests and refusing to back down even in the face of brutal clampdowns.
The triggers for these protests vary. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, it was delays in publishing the electoral calendar that got people out on the streets; in Chad it was an increase in the fees charged to traders at the N’Djamena Millet Market; in Togo it was hikes in oil prices; in Kenya it was frustrations over the electoral process.
But what unites them is the strength in defiance and the demand for change, inclusion and freedom. While some of these protests had violent elements — mostly in reaction to heavy-handed clampdowns — the majority were peaceful and driven by a demand for basic rights and dignity.
And there is every reason to believe that this trend is unstoppable.
Amnesty International’s report on the state of the world’s human rights documents how 2017 saw the arbitrary and brutal suppression of the right to peaceful protest in more than 20 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, including through unlawful bans, excessive use of force, harassment and arbitrary arrests.
But this did little to silence dissent despite the best efforts of those who want to crush and silence dissent. In fact, it is becoming clearer that failing to respect freedoms and fulfill human rights obligations is ultimately self-defeating.
This should serve as a wake-up call to all governments that the solution to lasting peace and stability lies in guaranteeing more freedoms, not less. Political shifts mean nothing if they don’t result in greater respect for human rights. People who care about freedom and equality are ultimately concerned not with which leader is in power, but whether or not they respect human rights.
Only time will tell what these political changes will truly mean for us Africans — especially for the poor, the young, the marginalized, the repressed and silenced.
But what is clear is that people across the continent are not willing to wait decades to find out.
*Culled from CNN.Netsanet Belay is Amnesty International’s director of Africa research and advocacy. The opinions in this article belong to the author.
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Africa needs more scientists and engineers for developments- AU Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat
February 23, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire
The chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) Mr Moussa Faki
Mahamat has said that Africa needs more scientists and engineers to
develop itself and also in-order to minimise its dependence syndrome.
Mr Mahamat made the remarks during his visit to the African Capacity
Building Foundation (ACBF) headquarters in Harare to sign the AUC-ACBF
agreement on the ACBF’s status as specialised agency of the African
Union.
Mr Mahamat said that Africa should now have the capacity to fund
what it needs on its own and also to tell its partners what it needs.
He said that 90% of the human resource capital in Africa is in the
humanities and the arts sector which he said that was not bad, but
called for training of more scientists and engineers for the continent
to boost its development agenda.
Mahamat also expressed concern at the lack of mathematics teachers
in some African countries, a challenge which he said needed to
urgently addressed.
He also urged agencies and partners in Africa to evaluate their
interventions to assess their progress to enhance the continent’s
development. Mahamat also called for more scientific innovation on
the continent adding that the continent needed more researchers.
ACBF Executive Director, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie, said that Africa was
investing in unemployment due to its major human capacity development
in the humanities, social sciences and the arts.
Nnadozie sid that there was need in transformation of skills and this
is a major issue which the ACBF and other partners was working on
addressing. He said that there was need to mobilise resources to
overhaul the education systems and quality of education on the African
continent.

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Zimbabwe’s MDC-T intra-party violence at Tsvangirai’s funeral condemned
February 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Tension was visible. Nelson Chamisa was flanked by Eng Mudzuri and Dr Khupe.

Tension was visible. Nelson Chamisa was flanked by Eng Mudzuri and Dr Khupe.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has condemned the harassment of MDC-T Vice-President Thokozani Khupe and Douglas Mwonzora at the burial of MDC-T political party leader Morgan Richard Tsvangirai in Buhera.

According to media reports published on Wednesday 21 February 2018 and according to some video footage circulated on social media, Khupe and Mwonzora were roughed up by some rowdy MDC-T political party
supporters. ZLHR said that it condemns the use of violence by some MDC-T party supporters to settle political scores.According to ZLHR, tolerance of differing opinions is a crucial aspect of democracy and employing violent tendencies and actions limits the fundamental right of people to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms of peaceful assembly, association and assembly which are all guaranteed in the Constitution and Zimbabwe’s regional and international human rights obligations and are core values of democracy.

ZLHR says that regrettably, the unfortunate incident of violence against the two comes less than a year after the MDC-T Vice President Khupe was roughed up in Bulawayo on Sunday 06 August 2017 by some MDC-T party
youths bent on settling political scores.

“No matter any differences that may arise or people may have, any resort to violence cannot be justified and tolerated especially by sympathisers of a political party founded on social democratic principles,” ZLHR said.

ZLHR has called upon, the MDC-T party and its supporters to embrace tolerance and stop committing political violence.MDC-T party members and their supporters have also been urged to respect the constitutionally guaranteed freedoms of association, association and assembly.

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Zuma And Ramaphosa All Smiles At Zuma’s Farewell Dinner
February 22, 2018 | 0 Comments

The incoming and outgoing presidents appear to have buried the hatchet.

Former president Jacob Zuma’s farewell function, hosted by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday afternoon, was a jovial occasion, if photos released by the Presidency are anything to go by. The pictures show the former colleagues sharing laughs and chatting, just a week after Zuma begrudgingly resigned as head of state.

 According to News24, the farewell was attended by various ministers and officials from the presidency. It was arranged to pay tribute to Zuma “for his contribution to South Africa’s development during his nine years in office”, the Presidency reportedly said.
 It was all smiles between Zuma and Ramaphosa who, until a little over a week ago, were locked in tense negotiations over the former’s removal as head of state.

state.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
 President Cyril Ramaphosa today paid tribute to former President Jacob Zuma for his contribution to South Africa’s development during his nine years in office. President Ramaphosa hosted a farewell cocktail function for President Zuma at The Presidency, Tuynhuys, Cape Town.
 Zuma appeared to be in high spirits, a far cry from the disgruntled man who addressed the nation last week, calling for his comrades to tell him why he should leave the presidency.
  Zuma’s Cabinet ministers and deputy ministers were in attendance.
View image on Twitter
Zuma and Ramaphosa were photographed shaking hands and sharing admiring looks.
View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Silili and uBaba are goals! Such respect for each other!

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter
 Lest we forget Mbeki refused to campaign for the ANC for 9 years. Msholozi remains a humble servant of the ANC. Hamba Kahle Nxamalala

*Source Huffington Post

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Behind walls of his mansion, Zimbabwe’s Mugabe turns 94
February 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
Photo share on twitter by Prof Jonathan Moyo

Photo share on twitter by Prof Jonathan Moyo

HARARE (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s former ruler Robert Mugabe observed his 94th birthday in private behind the walls of his Harare mansion on Wednesday, without the lavish parties that marked the occasion during his nearly four-decade rule.

Mugabe was ousted in a defacto coup by the military last November, paving way for his former deputy and protege Emmerson Mnangagwa to become president.

An intelligence official who follows Mugabe’s movements said the former ruler was at his Blue Roof mansion with wife Grace and had no known plans to leave the compound.

During Mugabe’s rule, his birthday was marked by lavish fetes thrown by his ruling ZANU-PF party, where loyalists would feast on dishes ranging from elephant to buffalo meat. Last year ZANU-PF spend $2 million on Mugabe’s bash just outside the second biggest city Bulawayo. A local bakery donated a cake weighing 96 kg (211 pounds).

State companies and government departments traditionally marked the event by placing fawning advertisements in the country’s state-controlled newspapers, while office staff would pamper Mugabe with presents.

Since Mugabe left power, the government has declared his birthday a public and bank holiday, Robert Gabriel Mugabe Youth Day. The man who ruled Zimbabwe from independence in 1980 has himself not been seen or spoken in public since stepping down.

“Who cares about Mugabe now?” said Tendekai Savanhu, a street vendor and avowed opposition supporter. “We don’t want to know what he is doing, this country is better off without him.”

It was an honour to also pay a visit to former President Robert Mugabe said AU Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat .

It was an honour to also pay a visit to former President Robert Mugabe said AU Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat .

On Monday Mugabe met the chairman of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki, who later told reporters the former leader was happy with the way he was being treated by Mnangagwa’s government.

“He told me that he had resigned for the sake of peace and development of the country and he agreed to go,” said Moussa.

Mugabe has defied media reports about his health and has outlived his longtime political nemesis Morgan Tsvangirai, who died last week after a long battle with cancer and was buried in his rural home of Buhera on Tuesday.

*Reuters

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Madonna: ‘My son is Malawi’s future president’
February 22, 2018 | 0 Comments
US pop star Madonna and her son David have regularly visited Malawi, the country of her adoptive children

US pop star Madonna and her son David have regularly visited Malawi, the country of her adoptive children

Pop star Madonna has called her son, David Banda, “the future president of Malawi” in a tweet praising the 12-year-old boy.

The US singer has six children, four of whom she adopted from Malawi.

Madonna has reportedly had a fractious relationship with authorities from the south-east African nation.

In 2013, Malawi accused Madonna of “bullying state officials”, exaggerating her contribution to the country and demanding VIP treatment.

Madonna’s manager accused Malawi’s government of having a “grudge” against the singer’s charity, Raising Malawi, which she founded in 2006, the same year she adopted David.

David Banda is the oldest of four adopted children.

His adoption raised a strong public reaction as Malawian law required would-be parents to live in the country for one year before adopting. This requirement was waived for the pop star, who told Oprah Winfrey at the time that there were no written adoption laws that regulated foreign adoption.

In 2009, the country’s high court rejected Madonna’s application to adopt a girl, on the same grounds she had not lived in the African nation for the now required 18 months.

After an appeal, the Supreme Court granted Madonna the right to adopt her second child from Malawi, Mercy James.

Last year, Malawi granted the singer permission to adopt again, and she became mother to twin baby girls Esther and Stella Mwale.

Skip Twitter post by @Madonna

*BBC

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Davido’s ‘If’ hits Diamond, ‘Fall’ goes Platinum
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

NIGERIAN popstar ‘Davido’ Adeleke‘s 2017 hit songs ‘If’ and ‘Fall’ have gone diamond and platinum respectively.

Davido at the Columbia Records office

Davido at the Columbia Records office

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), this means ‘If’ has been sold or streamed one million times and ‘Fall’ has reached ten million record sales.

Davido shared a photo of himself with his awards and plagues on Tuesday through his Instagram page @davidooficial, writing:

“‘IF’ is officially Diamond and ‘FALL’ is officially Platinum in sales!!! My trophies finally came in as well! GOD IS REAL! Thank you Guys for making this happen!! Just getting started!!! Bless to my team @efe_one@asaasika@missamadi@sirbanko.”

The singer signed a record distribution deal with Sony RCA in the United States in 2016, a move that has led to his huge record sales.

The Plaques were presented at the Columbia Records UK office and Efe Ogbeni who executed the record deal for Davido with Sony was present.

The Managing Directors and President of Columbia UK Stacey Tang, Manish Arora and Ferdy Unger-Hamilton. Vanessa Amadi (Management) and Michael Ugwu were also present during the presentation of the Plaques.

Davido’s win came in shortly after he sold out his Brixton ‘O2’ Live show in London, on Sunday.

The ‘Fall’ crooner was recently won the Soundcity MVP award including ‘Best African Act’ and ‘Best Worldwide Act’.

The singer, who owns music label Davido Music Worldwide (DMW), recently released a new hit ‘Flora my Flawa’.

(NAN)/Real News

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Only on AP: Migrant recounts forced deportation from Israel
February 21, 2018 | 0 Comments

By RODNEY MUHUMUZA*

Inside the immigration office in Tel Aviv, Yohannes Tesfagabr considered his options. He could not dare return to his native Eritrea, a country he risked his life to flee in 2010. He also hoped to avoid the fate of compatriots who languished in a notorious desert jail for illegally staying in Israel.

So in an emotional confrontation with immigration officials one day last November, the 29-year-old sous chef accepted what Israeli authorities were offering: $3,500 in cash and a one-way ticket to Uganda or Rwanda.

Two weeks later he was on a flight to Uganda, together with five other Eritrean migrants he did not know.

“They told me, ‘If you don’t leave you are going to jail,'” Tesfagabr recalled. “It’s forced. They tell you to say you are going voluntarily, but it is not voluntary. They force you to deport yourself.”

His case highlights the predicament of tens of thousands of Africans in Israel who face jail if they do not accept an offer, allegedly without further assurances of safety, to relocate to an unnamed African country. Both Uganda and Rwanda, widely presumed to be the likely destinations, have denied the existence of any agreement with Israel’s government even though scores of migrants are believed to have already settled in the East African countries.

Tesfagabr said his group of Eritreans was not taken through the official immigration desk when they arrived in Uganda. Instead, they were ushered in via the cargo area, herded by a Ugandan official who stayed quiet most of the time. They were bundled into two taxis and driven to a hotel in the capital, Kampala. Their passports were confiscated by a man who spoke Tigrinya, a language widely spoken in Eritrea, and who Tesfagabr believes had been hired as a translator. Hours later, the undocumented Eritreans were dismissed from the hotel.

The five other men who traveled with Tesfagabr on a Nov. 16 EgyptAir flight to Uganda declined to talk to The Associated Press because of safety concerns. But Tesfagabr, although similarly worried, said he wanted to speak out because he felt he had been harshly treated during Israel’s efforts to remove him from a country he had grown to love.

“My Hebrew is four times better than my English,” he said one recent evening at a Kampala restaurant patronized by Eritreans.

Tesfagabr, a village boy from Eritrea’s highland area of Debarwa who felt hopeless after being forcefully conscripted into the army, arrived in Israel in 2012, the victim of alleged traffickers in Sudan who took him to Egypt and helped him cross a border point in the Sinai after his family was made to pay a $3,900 ransom. He remembered his days in captivity as some of the worst of his life. To force his parents to pay for his freedom, his captors beat him and staged mock executions. At least two of his compatriots were killed in a shootout with Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, he said.

But after crossing into Israel, Tesfagabr benefited from random acts of kindness, including from an Israeli man who bought him food and new clothes. In Rehovot, the city south of Tel Aviv where he settled, he found a satisfying job as a sous chef in a bistro. He had an apartment and a bank account, but he had to get his visa renewed every two months and sometimes he was required to report back after five days.

When two compatriots with whom he shared an apartment were jailed for overstaying their visas, Tesfagabr knew his days were numbered and seriously began thinking about leaving Israel.

“They take you like a dog, like a donkey,” he said, talking about migrants taken to the Holot detention center in the Negev desert. “They do what they want. They don’t have any law for us … Because I know if I go over there, I can’t be a human being after.”

This month Israeli authorities began distributing deportation notices to some 40,000 African migrants, who have until April 1 to comply. Nearly all are from Eritrea and Sudan, countries with questionable human rights records. Thousands had entered the country until 2014, when Israel completed a massive border fence.

The deportation plan has sparked outrage in Israel, where groups of pilots, doctors, writers, rabbis and Holocaust survivors have appealed to have it halted. They say the deportations are unethical and would damage Israel’s image as a refuge for Jewish migrants.

Israel contends that most of the migrants are job seekers and cites complaints that they have transformed working-class neighborhoods of southern Tel Aviv into unrecognizable slums. Israeli authorities say women, children and families are exempt from the deportation order.

This month thousands of African asylum seekers protested outside the Rwandan Embassy in Israel, calling the deportations racist and urging Rwanda’s government not to cooperate. They claim they have no rights in Uganda and Rwanda and quickly are forced to flee toward Europe through war-torn countries like Libya.

Okello Oryem, Uganda’s deputy minister of international affairs, described reports of a deal to take in migrants from Israel as “fake news,” and in a statement Rwanda’s government insisted it “has never signed any secret deal with Israel regarding the relocation of African migrants.”

Mossi Raz, an Israeli lawmaker who recently traveled to Rwanda and Uganda in a delegation of opposition politicians to investigate the allegations of an official deal with those countries, said his group concluded that the arrangement “does not ensure the safety and well-being of the refugees.”

Raz said the delegation met with two migrants who are believed to be among the few remaining in Rwanda. He said others who were sent from Israel to Rwanda, believed to be in the hundreds or even thousands, were taken to a hotel in the capital, Kigali, for two days and then transferred to Uganda, forced to pay for their travel. He was unsure whether the transfer to Uganda was carried out via official channels.

The two migrants he met, who had been in Rwanda for two and three years respectively, were unable to work and scraped by on the remainder of the money they had received from Israel, he said.

“The refugees will arrive in these countries and will not receive refugee status, their documents will be taken from them and they will be left with nothing,” Raz said. “Rwanda is only participating in this agreement because of the money it will receive from Israel. Senior government officials in Rwanda claimed that such an agreement does not exist and so there is nothing to discuss. We believe such an agreement does exist.”

This month the speaker of Uganda’s national assembly urged the government to explain the alleged deportations. It remains unclear when that will happen. Musa Ecweru, Uganda’s top refugee official, did not respond to a request for comment. The U.N. migration agency’s office in Uganda told the AP it had not been contacted by the government and knew only “bits and pieces” about the alleged deportations from media reports.

Tesfagabr, the Eritrean migrant, is now jobless, without a passport and dependent on his savings to pay the rent. The soft-spoken man said he feels like a prisoner and dreams of relocating to Europe. To relax, he sometimes plays soccer with his friends, fellow Eritreans with a similarly uncertain future.

“I want to start a new life,” he said, fiddling with his phone.

*AP

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