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South Sudan:Central Bank Injects 5M USD Into Market To Stabilize Local Currency, Economy
April 14, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Dier Tong Ngor, Governor of the Bank of South Sudan

Juba – South Sudan’s central bank has injected 5 million U.S. dollars into the local market in attempt to stabilize the local pound (SSP) and the country’s economy.

The money will be released every week to normalize the foreign exchange rate in the East Africa’s youngest nation.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Dier Tong Ngor, Governor of the Bank of South Sudan (BOSS), said they have allocated 3 million dollars to commercial banks and 2 million dollars to forex bureaus in order to stabilize the foreign exchange rate.

“This is the new way we will start to supply the market. We will be supplying an amount of $5 million every week – $ 2 million to forex bureau and $3 million to commercial banks,” Tong told journalists in Juba.
The money were auctioned to 22 commercial banks.

According to the bank’s governor, the move will prevent further depreciation of the South Sudanese pound against the US dollar. It would also have a positive effect on the prices of food and other basic commodities.

“So all in all, we will be supplying an amount of 5 million dollars every week,” said Tong. The allocations are aimed at cushioning the weak pound against the dollar,” said Tong.

“We want to control the excess liquidity in the hands of the public because that is the main thing that affects us and it affects inflation. We feel that the pressure on the pounds is because of excess liquidity in pounds and therefore when we are doing auctions, we are trying to mop up that excess liquidity,” said Tong.

The Governor further said that they will continue with the auctioning of hard currency until the foreign exchange market is developed.

“We will be in this for a long haul, we will do this auction until we develop the foreign exchange market so that the Bank of South Sudan can withdraw from the market-making role and we leave it to banks,” said Tong.
Since December 2020, the Bank of South Sudan says it has auctioned over $30 million to the market.

The bank’s governor insists this move has resulted in the stability of the pounds against the dollar.
1 U.S dollar sells at 195 South Sudanese Pounds as indicated on the Central Bank’s website but in the parallel market, 1 dollar sells at 620 pounds.

Governor Tong believes auctioning of hard currency will counter the black market by strengthening the pound.

“I think it has made an impact because it has at least stabilized the parallel market rated for a number of months now,” said governor.

However, an economist and observers advised the government to stop floating the rate of the currency arguing that it gives room for more speculations in the country. South Sudan’s economy is struggling amid hyperinflation caused by the more than six years of the county’s conflict since December 2013. 

The conflict-affected oil production in the northern oil fields causing a reduction in oil revenue earnings. In addition, COVID-19 and the floods has also impacted the economy affecting both oil and non-oil revenue.

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Challenging for Africa to Unleash Its Potential Without Industrialization-Adam Molai
April 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By By Ajong Mbapndah L

Unless we industrialize, we will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by our abundant resources and youthful population,says Adam Molai

Unless Africa industrializes, it will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by its abundant resources and youthful population, says Adam Molai, African Industrialist, Founder of the JUA Fund, and Chairman of TRT Investments. Speaking in an exclusive interview with PAV, Adam Molai says the youthful population in Africa can either be its greatest asset if well leveraged, or its biggest threat if allowed to become restive owing to lack of opportunity.

“Africa is in a very poor state in as far as industrialization is concerned. We are still significant importers of finished goods and exporters of raw materials,” Molai says of the crusade on Industrialization that he has championed over the years.

“In 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa raw material exports amounted to $148 billion or 52% of total exports. That is a strong case for industrialization to convert a significant portion of our raw materials into intermediate goods or finished products, creating jobs and increasing the value of our GDP,” Adam Molai said.

On the JUA Fund which is his latest initiative to inspire the Continent’s entrepreneurial generation, Adam Molai expressed the hope that it will start a movement which will sweep across Africa. Describing the Fund as a ripple considering the enormous needs of the continent, Molai says the desire is to have a culture in the continent where entrepreneurs give back through facilitating the creation of more entrepreneurs.

Generous in detail about the building of his companies, Adam Molai says opportunities for the continent are immense, but leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing them as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs.

Could you start by telling us your own interest and journey into entrepreneurship, how did Adam Molai become an industrialist?

So, I am a true-blue entrepreneur; I was never interested in working for anybody else. I have never worked for anybody else.

I often share one of my fondest memories being a 10-year-old selling matches to earn pocket money and thinking – ‘I love this!’. This is when the entrepreneurial bug struck.

I embarked on my first entrepreneurial venture when I was just 10 when I sold boxes of in-demand matches for a profit to make pocket money. While at boarding school, I sold food to fellow pupils for spending money.

In my first summer in university in the UK, I joined a network marketing business which was really an entrepreneurial exploit where I would sell frozen food products in Buckinghamshire. I recruited other students to join and work with me raising significant cash that facilitated my move to Canada.

In Canada, I ran the university consulting service, literally as an entrepreneurial venture, and this, together with other work, helped fund my university studies in Canada. I made so much money that I was able to leave a significant sum which created the Adam Molai Small Business Consulting scholarship where the proceeds from this sum are given as a scholarship annually to a deserving student at my former alma mater.

When I returned to Zimbabwe after completing my studies, I knew I didn’t want to work for anybody else.

My first business, whose infrastructure I had started constructing whilst still in university in Canada, was a chicken business of 7,000 broiler chickens. I brought solar equipment with me from Canada, and this facilitated 24-hour feeding of our chickens facilitating faster development of the chickens. There was no power in the area and thus the utilization of solar power with a storage inverter, in 1997, was quite an evolution.

I then re-opened my late father’s service station and supermarket, whilst at the same time also creating a stationery shop and copy bureau in my home time. So, within my first year of being back in Zimbabwe from the diaspora I was running four businesses.

These businesses spanned a significant distance and so my first two years were highly sleep-deficient. I would start my early Monday morning in my hometown, drive to Harare to order supplies for the retail outlets and chemicals for the chicken business; a 150km return journey to my hometown where the stationery business and supermarket were, ensure the goods were priced and then at the closure of the stationery shop after 5pm start the 140km drive to where my service station was. I would then collect the cash takings, use them to buy more grain from the local farmers and maize grinding mills, which we would use to mix with the stock feed, and then drive another 180km to the farm where we were farming chickens. I would monitor the slaughtering, dressing, and packing of the chickens and by 2am start the drive back to my hometown which from the farm was 230km.

I would sleep on this third journey back to my hometown and get back in time to start another day. Without fail, by 7am I would be back at my stationery store where my main office was. This, routine I continued for a full two years.

 I then got the opportunity to acquire the largest service station site in my hometown. I quickly converted what was the office and former car show room into the first 24/7 retail shop in Zimbabwe, taking a cue from the 7/11 concept I had been exposed to in Canada.

The move, which drew criticism from my own family and other businesspeople, led me achieve more than double the shop’s takings, transforming the retail landscape in Zimbabwe. Sixty percent of the retail sales happened in the hours when all the other shops were closed. To crown it off, which irresponsibility I didn’t understand then, we managed to get a liquor license for this shop and used to be the only 24/7 liquor retailer in the country, which resulted in inordinate sales. Within a year a 60 square metre shop was making more than US$1 million! That was the first million I made, at the age of 29.

Another transformation I undertook was transforming the chicken retail sector in Zimbabwe. When I grew up working in my father’s shop, only whole chickens and in some cases half chickens were generally sold in Zimbabwe. You could buy beef and pork in small and as-you-desired and as-you-could-afford portions, but not chicken. I didn’t understand why that was, so I started selling chicken pieces, not just whole chickens. That transformed the chicken retail sector and demand rose beyond our projections.

I also did some dealings in the petroleum sector before turning my attention to the tobacco sector. Zimbabwe experienced significant fuel shortages and I was fortunate to receive permission from Shell, the franchisor, to direct import own fuel. Fuel had always been a controlled product only available from to oil companies through the government monopoly. However, when shortages became severe fuel companies and private individuals could direct import.  Through an old high school acquaintance, who was importing fuel, I was able to receive multiple tankers a week of direct import fuel. Our site never ran dry, and we were selling over a million litres of fuel a month and still couldn’t meet demand. Cars would drive from neighboring towns to fill up as we were receiving fuel non-stop!

I had also, with support of very experienced tobacco skills we had on board, pioneered contract growing of tobacco that transformed the tobacco industry from around 4 500 mainly commercial farmers and opened the way for more than 85 000 local small-scale farmers to enter Zimbabwe’s tobacco sector.

In 2002, I co-founded Savanna Tobacco Company, which has now been rebranded as Pacific Cigarette Company, which is acknowledged as one of only two of the world’s most significant African-owned cigarette manufacturers. The company enjoys a significant share of the Southern African cigarette market.

Our business interests cut across several industries – including energy, manufacturing, property development, transport and logistics, air transport, financial services and beverage bottling – and at least seven African countries, including the African economic powerhouses of Nigeria, South Africa and Mauritius. However, we are now streamlining our portfolio to focus only upon manufacturing and distribution, property development and sales, and technology.

Our business now has over US$200 million of assets under control.

In November 2020, we also launched the $2 million JUA Fund, making it the largest venture capital fund by a private African business individual to empower and support African entrepreneurs.

So impressive was the quality of the projects from the entrepreneurs that we felt compelled to increase the fund from the original $1m announced to $2m,says Adam Molai on the JUA Fund

Today you are Chairman of the Pacific Cigarette Company and the TRT Investments, can you tell us a little more about this companies and how they fit in the vision that you have for Africa?

TRT Investments manages a diversified sector portfolio and operations in Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana, and our latest interests have seen a foray into the US and European markets.

The aim is really to play our role in moving Africa from being on the menu to sitting at the global economic table. We believe this will only be achieved through production and productivity. So, we are aiming at driving the industrialization agenda for Africa.

TRT recently acquired, which is the largest non-food contract manufacturing business on the continent. It manufactures many leading multinational household FMCG brands. We aim to replicate this model into East and West Africa to create the largest non-food contract manufacturer in the world.

So, our ambitions are big, and we are committed to creating African institutions, with global recognition.

With the AfFCTA, we aim to leverage this opportunity to ensure localization of production on the Continent where currently there is only 18% inter-Africa trade compared to 80% Inter-Europe trade. So, just by trading more with ourselves as Africans we can grow our economies ad create the much-needed employment for our young population.

Our other area of focus is housing.

With the significant housing supply gap on the continent, and the growing population which is urbanizing at a rapid rate, it is imperative that affordable housing is availed to ensure that we help move from the squalid urban living conditions of the past.

Our final area of focus is technology.

Technology offers Africa the opportunity to leapfrog. It facilitates more efficacious and elegant solutions to Africa’s myriad challenges.

Pacific was born out of the industrialization agenda and fits into the TRT agenda. Having always lamented Africa’s over-reliance on agriculture for survival, I felt we needed to walk our talk and beneficiate this agricultural produce into finished goods and thus participate at a higher level of the value chain. Zimbabwe’s main agricultural export has been tobacco for a long time and therefore we took it upon ourselves to add value to this crop. There is a 15 to 20 times value multiplier from raw tobacco to cigarettes and that is what we have achieved in Pacific. So, the jobs and value which we were exporting in exporting raw tobacco, we are now retaining through producing finished goods. If we look at the $600 million of raw tobacco produced in Zimbabwe, if all transformed to cigarettes, Zimbabwe would have a $6-$12 billion tobacco industry.

For the attention of many out there who see in you a success story, what were some of the big challenges you face in building your companies and how did you successfully navigate them?

Success, to me, is a journey rather than a destination. It is a culmination of many failures and continuing to find different paths where one path has failed. Funding is always a challenge. I remember using $75,000 of my university entrepreneurial savings to start a small chicken business after university because I couldn’t get funding from the banks to augment this capital raise.

The challenge of raising money for my first business or to buy factory equipment, the challenges felt the same, and had the same ultimate impact – no funding – no business. We’ve mitigated fund raising challenges through performance. When you perform and develop a track record for performing, paying, and meeting your debt covenants, it becomes a bit easier to raise funding.

Another significant challenge faced was the dearth of African entrepreneurs available and willing to offer mentorship to others on their entrepreneurial journey. I failed to find takers, amongst those I approached, as unfortunately many in our society still see other people’s success as a threat to their success and attention.

So, the only option available became to be an avid reader, always reading both success and failure books as a way to understand.

Adam Molai says opportunities for the continent are immense, but leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing them as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs

You have been on a crusade for industrialization and entrepreneurship in what shape is Africa in now, and why do you think it is imperative for the continent to change course?

Africa is in a very poor state in as far as industrialization is concerned. We are still significant importers of finished goods and exporters of raw materials.

In 2018, Sub-Saharan Africa raw material exports amounted to $148 billion or 52% of total exports. That is a strong case for industrialization to convert a significant portion of our raw materials into intermediate goods or finished products, creating jobs and increasing the value of our GDP.

China has become the global behemoth owing to industrialization. Thirty years ago, China was where we are today as a continent but has transformed from a developing nation to being at the cusp of being the largest global economy through a deliberate policy of industrialization.

Unless we industrialize, we will fail to unleash the latent potential presented by our abundant resources and youthful population. This youthful population can either be our greatest asset if we leverage it, or our biggest threat if they become restive owing to lack of opportunity.

Late last year you launched the Jua Kickstarter fund to provide entrepreneurs with capital to kickstart or expand their enterprises, may we know what impact you anticipate for Africa for this initiative?

Lao Tzu is famously credited with the saying that “The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step”. The launch and subsequent Jua Olympic week are the start of a movement which I hope will sweep Africa. It is only but a ripple, given the enormous needs on the continent, but we are seeing the impact it is having on encouraging other business leaders to also start looking at how they too can assist entrepreneurs on the continent. Our hope is that this becomes a culture on our continent of entrepreneurs giving back through facilitating the creation of more entrepreneurs, creating a snowball effect. The quality of the finalists as well as the solutions being proffered by the businesses we have decided to invest in give us great confidence that there will be significant impact that will emanate from this initiative.

It was always the intention that the fund would go beyond providing money. Entrepreneurs always need money, that is not in question. But they don’t only need money. They also need mentoring, advice, access to networks, access to markets, people to stress test their ideas, advisors and mentors who can help them see the realities and potential of their businesses.

That is what Jua will provide.

 Jirogasy and Bryt-Knowledge will be furthering education one through hardware the other through software, Side and Grow Agric, are disrupting the value chain of goods from farm to table, Powerstove Energy is saving the environment by their cooking stove innovation, Whispa Health is taking care of wellbeing, and Xetova is adding African flair to procurement.

Less than a year after it was launched, the first recipients were announced, may we know how the selection was done and your overall impressions on the applications and the eventual winners?

We had over 700 applicants who were shortlisted to 25 finalists, who met the criteria that their ideas had impact and were scalable.

The 25 finalists participated in the “Kickstarter Olympics”, a 5-day pitching session during which they were put through their paces by a high-profile panel of judges.

Eventually, we made offers to 7 recipients who all accepted.

We were immensely impressed by all our finalists, even those to whom offers were not made.

So impressive was the quality of the projects from the entrepreneurs that we felt compelled to increase the fund from the original $1m announced to $2m. 

About four of the seven enterprises selected have either female founders or co-founders, what role do you see gender or women playing in the vision that you articulate?

Research is clear that empowering women has more impact on societies and communities than empowering men. I am delighted that the Jua Fund, which is aimed at empowering all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, has been able to benefit females to the extent that it has.

What metrics and support system does the JUA Fund have in place to monitor the outcomes or progress of recipients?

As I indicated, Jua is not only providing monetary support but non-monetary support in the form of mentoring and advice, introductions to other potential investors and funders. Where applicable, we will sit on the boards.

The phenomenal experience of the JUA judges, who have kindly accepted to offer mentorship and coaching, will serve to really help the entrepreneurs unleash their potential.

Through well-established Key Performance Indicators, designed to facilitate milestone-based release of capital, we hope to see better resource utilization and less of the unintended waste of resources that culminates from non-results-based funding mechanisms.

The Jury had some powerful names in the African corporate world, how challenging was it to get these high profile and busy people to dedicate the required time in the selection process?

It wasn’t challenging at all because all the judges share our vision of the importance of entrepreneurship for ensuring that Africa gets to assume its rightful place at the economic table, and they all wanted to do their bit to pass on the knowledge they have gained as entrepreneurs or in business to these emerging entrepreneurs.

They were so keen that at times we had more judges than we anticipated and needed. We had judges from across the globe, some of whom woke up at 3am daily to listen to the pitches.

As you may be aware, most start-ups / SMMES fail within the first two years, for a myriad of reasons. The judges who participated are aware of the challenges and want to do their bit to reduce this number.

The applicants certainly appreciated it; many commented on how the judges’ questions and insight had helped them rethink parts of their business.

What next for the Jua Fund, there are many young entrepreneurs out there who would love to try their hand in the next round, what are the plans going forward?

What’s next is just to keep growing and to support more SMMEs. We will hopefully have more money to avail in the future and we can structure the non-monetary assistance better as well.

We have learned a lot from this inaugural VC round, and we intend to build on that going forward so that it has much greater impact.

Our hope is that the success of the initial projects will, as we exit, create an even larger pool of funds to support even more entrepreneurs, creating a snowball effect. We have invested $2 million, if they perform and this spawns $20 million on exit, as an example, we then invest $20-millionn to spawn $200-million and this multiplier effect is what we seek and what we believe will facilitate our dream of empowering thousands of entrepreneurs.

Adam Molai is hopeful that the JUA Fund will start a movement which will sweep across Africa

In terms of recommendations to African governments, what needs to be done by them to create the enabling environment for brilliant ideas and initiatives that millions of Africans have to thrive?

Well, entrepreneurs need the right regulatory environment to grow so all governments need to scrutinize the laws, rules and regulations that they have in place to see whether they help or hinder entrepreneurial activity.

Governments also need to realise that they cannot grow economies and create jobs, that that is the ambit of business and they need to ensure that the business environment is conducive to that. So, the economy and entrepreneurs are not dependent on who is in government, but rather that there is policy certainty and that their markets are open to all. If our governments truly embrace the intentions of the AfFCTA, we will see a significant explosion of economies on the continent.

We also need to relook at our education systems which are largely not suited to nurturing entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial activity.

We also need to encourage local investment. African governments bend over backwards for foreign investors but do not do the same for local investors which means that local investors must deal with an unequal playing field.

What is your take on foreign direct investment and what role do you see the African diaspora playing in the development of the continent?

I think all investment is good. Africa lags in terms of investment so the more people who want to invest, the better.

But I do think that governments elevate foreign investment above that of local investment and I think that this is to the detriment of the continent. The reality is that if locals show confidence and invest, foreigners will invest alongside them. So what we should be doing is giving local investors the same benefits that we give foreign investors, we should be levelling the playing fields for local investors as they have more impact on the lives of Africans. They not only invest their money on the Continent, but they spend their money on the Continent too. This provides jobs for others and opportunities for other Africans.

I think the diaspora can be used more meaningfully than it is now. We know that remittances contribute $48-billion or an average 4.17% of Africa’s GDP but we should be looking at how to make better use of the resources of Africans in the diaspora.

Instead of saving their money in low-interest bearing accounts, we should look at getting them to invest in local start-ups and enterprises. In that way entrepreneurs have access to money and the diasporans get better returns whilst positively impacting their home countries to develop.

Looking at the realities today, the challenges, and the potential, what are your hopes and fears for Africa’s future?

Africa is at a major crossroad. With a growing young population, if Africa continues to grow at its current rate, it is expected to double to 2.5billion people; a quarter of the world’s population; by 2050. All these people need food, clothing, transport, housing and many other goods and services.

China’s growth was driven by a large population, creating significant consumption and ability to grow the economy phenomenally through the goods and services required by such a large population.

We dare not fail to rise to the occasion and create the businesses that will produce and provide all the goods and services that will be required by the continent. We certainly cannot afford to create a market for the rest of the world at our own expense. This is going to require significant unity and coordination across the continent to be realized.

China could easily achieve this growth because it is a unitary state. With 54 states, Africa will need significant regional and continental integration and harmonization to facilitate the remarkable infrastructural projects required to cater for such a huge population which is urbanising significantly.

So, the opportunities for the continent are immense, the challenges will really be from our own belief in ourselves to achieve for ourselves. Our leaders will need to develop confidence in the ability of African entrepreneurs and stop seeing our own entrepreneurs as inferior to foreign entrepreneurs.

Our people will need to also develop an appetite for local goods as opposed to foreign goods and our businesspeople will need to ensure that at all levels, our goods meet the exacting global standards for quality. Changing mindsets is a difficult process, as is establishing regional and continental trust; however, if accomplished, Africa could become the global powerhouse it has the potential to be.

*Culled from April Issue of PAV Magazine

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South Sudan Peace Process Remains Fragile – UNMISS Chief
April 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

UN envoy and head of UNMISS, David Shearer, meeting President Salva Kiir Mayardiit at state house in Juba,February 2019 .Photo courtesy

Juba – The Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations peacekeeping mission South Sudan has urged the parties to the 2018 peace deal to speed up implementation of the unresolved tasks in order to achieve permanent peace and stability before elections by 2023.

On the eve of his departure after more than four years as the UN’s top envoy in South Sudan, David Shearer, said that the peace process remains fragile, despite the parties having registered some positive progress since the formation of the revitalized transitional government of national unity in February 2020.

“I urge the people and leaders of South Sudan to remain united and energized to push the peace process forward to fully implement the revitalized agreement and hold elections so communities across the country can finally enjoy true peace and prosperity,” said Shearer.

The national and state’s legislatives are yet to be established.

The UN chief added that the peace process remains fragile and there is still much to be done.

“While important progress has been made, the peace process remains fragile and there is still much to be done including picking up the pace on constitution-making, transitional justice and economic reform,” Shearer told journalists in Juba during his farewell speech.

Mr. Shearer will soon be replaced by South African Nicholas Haysom who was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Jan. 15.

“I have been extremely privileged to support South Sudan as it makes the difficult transition from war to recovery and peace. As my four years of service comes to an end, I am proud of the progress that has been made, including the ceasefire, peace deal, formation of a transitional Government and the installation of local leaders in the states,” said Shearer.

“I have so much admiration for the South Sudanese who I have enjoyed working alongside immensely. They are tough, resilient, and remarkably patient. I am inspired by their seemingly endless hope as they fight against huge odds to achieve the much brighter future they deserve,” said David Shearer. “I will miss this young country and wish it well from the bottom of my heart,” he added.

 He said that courageous decisions need to be made to unify the armed forces of all sides.

Shearer encouraged people still living inside the internally displaced person’s (IDP’s) camps to return to their homes.

According to UN agencies, close to one million people are living in IDP and U.N. camps in the country after being displaced during the outbreak of violence in December 2013 and July 2016 renewed violence respectively.

“I am also pleased and encouraged to see that most people who once fled in fear to UN Protection of Civilians Sites have either returned home or are living in newly transitioned displacement camps under the responsibility of the South Sudanese government,” said Shearer.

He called for an end to the brutal inter-communal violence in most affected areas like Warrap and Jonglei.

“I hope that there is an end to the sporadic but brutal violence that we continue to witness in parts of the country like Jonglei and Warrap, so that the communities can have the opportunity to recover and rebuild their lives,” said Shearer.

Shearer further thanked humanitarian workers for their provision of life-saving assistance to millions of people in need.

“Humanitarians are working in remote, difficult and, sometimes dangerous conditions to deliver much-needed support to vulnerable communities across South Sudan. I thank them for their courage in risking their own health and wellbeing to help others,” said Shearer.

Shearer, who paid tribute to the UN agencies which have stood by South Sudan for many years and the almost 20,000 UN peacekeepers who are helping reduce violence and are bringing diverse communities together to reconcile and build peace.

 “UNMISS is a stabilizing force that extends well beyond our physical presence. Our independent surveys have consistently shown that we are welcomed by nearly 80 percent of South Sudanese,” he said. “We are fully committed to securing durable peace by working closely with all political parties alongside regional and international partners.”

UNMISS is also re-focusing its efforts to ensure it is fit-for-purpose in the evolving political and security situation.

“We are redeploying staff and resources to build the capacity of important local institutions, including the courts, the justice system and the national police, and prioritizing technical support for security sector reform as well as the election process. Protection is best done through fair and effective rule of law,” said Shearer.

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African Energy Thriller Becomes a Wall Street Journal Best-Seller List and Tops US Market
April 6, 2021 | 0 Comments

Billions At Play became number one on Amazon in several categories only a few days after its initial release in 2019

Following the widely acclaimed release of NJ Ayuk, Managing Director of Centurion Law Group and Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber’s second book, Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Making Deals, the resourceful and bold book has become #1 Amazon Best Selling eBook overall, #2 Wall Street Journal Best Selling eBook, #4 USA Today Non-Fiction Business Best Selling eBook and #10 Wall Street Journal Non-Fiction Combined best seller.

Billions At Play became number one on Amazon in several categories only a few days after its initial release in 2019, making it one of Africa’s energy best-seller. This second edition, which opens once again on a foreword by H.E. Mohamed Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and features a new chapter dedicated to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on African oil markets, which is narrated by Adera Gandy and Boet Schouwinck.

In a strong indication of Ayuk’s popularity around the world, Billions At Play: The Future of African Energy and Making Deals sold 7,020 units with peak sales of 2,803 units in a single day. ‘’This is great news because we can still tell Africa’s complex energy story with a hopeful narrative and still be a bestseller in the US. We don’t have to be negative or continue the crab in a barrel mindset that has not helped us. Any achievement is meaningless without thanking all the hands and hearts who helped us get there. I thank you a lot and continue to express my thoughts and experiences the best way I know how,’’ NJ Ayuk said.

The Amazon bestseller outlines the continents road to recovery plan that seeks to dissect the need for energy policy legislation, the lack of access to power, the role that access to reliable, sustainable, and affordable power can play in the acceleration of economic growth and most importantly, why the continent’s energy industry needs more women.

The book is currently available through leading retailers including Exclusivebooks.comTakeAlot.com Google BookseBooks.comKindle  and many more!

About NJ:
NJ Ayuk  is a leading energy lawyer and a strong advocate for African entrepreneurs. He is recognised as one of the foremost figures in African business today.

A Global Shaper with the World Economic Forum, one of Forbes’ Top 10 Most Influential Men in Africa in 2015, and a well-known dealmaker in the petroleum and power sectors, NJ is dedicating his career to helping entrepreneurs find success and to building the careers of young African lawyers.

As founder and CEO of Centurion Law Group, NJ strives through his work to ensure that business, and especially oil and gas, impacts African societies in a positive way and drives local content development. He is the current chairman of the African Energy Chamber and author of ‘Big Barrels: African Oil and Gas and the Quest for Prosperity’.

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe: A Champion of Human Rights across Central Africa
April 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor 

The struggle for human rights in Cameroon is on the verge of another major boost with the selection of Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe amongst the 2021 International Women of Courage Award Recipients.

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe has been with the REDHAC for the past ten years as Executive Director, championing and promoting human rights across the Central African sub-region. Her relentless pursuit of human rights has seen her win multiple awards across the world and with the mantra “NEVER GIVE UP” she has shown no sign of slowing down.  

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe has won multiple awards in her fight for Human Rights with the biggest one being the U.S State Department’s 2021 Women of Courage Awards. Before this recent award, Maximilienne was in 2020 awarded “The Prize of Empowerment of African Communities” by the BBF and Heal The World Africa, an organization based in the USA. 

In 2019 Maximilienne won the “Defend Defenders: Prize of Resilience and recognition for her exceptional impact for her works on Human Rights in Central Africa.” 

Pan African Visions caught up with this vibrant Human Rights defender in her office in Douala this March 31, 2021, and began by asking her what she made of the recent award given to her in her fight for human rights. 

Pan African Visions: May we know how Maximilienne Ngo Mbe received news of her selection amongst the 2021 Women of Courage Awards?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: It is not possible to know how the selection comes about. I was surprised by the US Embassy who told me that I am one of the Women who have been selected for the award but the first amongst the twelve women that were to be selected. I had the information at the same time as you when the US Government made the selection. I saw the information on Friday after the announcement was made on Thursday in the night that I am one of the Women of Courage 2021.  

Maxi Ngo Mbe has been an outspoken voice among civil society actors, often sacrificing her personal safety, in the push for a peaceful solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon, says the State Department

Pan African Visions: What does this award mean for you and your fight for human rights in Cameroon?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: First of all I was very happy when you fight against violations of human rights, fight for peace and reconciliation and when you receive the award you are happy. The award is not only for the work in Cameroon but the work in Central Africa to improve human rights and promote peace and reconciliation in Central Africa. It is a lot of responsibility and what now can I do to ensure that all these people who are suffering can do something? I do not have a lot of power to improve all these charges that have been given to me. 

Can I have the power to finish all this work? I am not sure because you need a lot of things; financial (sometimes people do not know that you carry out activities without money); democratically challenged (we do not have democratically institutions. We do not have separation of power in the countries). We have a lot of injustices specifically in Cameroon now and we have a lot of arbitrary arrests. The terrorism law is in place that leads to activists being charged. It is difficult and the situation in North West and South West is not easy. We have a lot of threats and people who do not have security in their life. It is not easy for me; I am happy but afraid. 

Pan African Visions: Can you shed light on the Central Africa Human Rights Defenders Network in Central Africa-REDHAC that you lead?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: It is difficult to talk about the Human Rights Defenders Network in Central Africa because it is a long road. For ten years now I have been the Executive Director and we make sure to protect, promote and advocate for the human rights defenders status and make sure that the government undertakes their role about the regional and international engagement and to make sure that the fundamental freedoms are respected. We make sure that peace and security can be improved which will lead to people having justice and living a good life. 

All these things have been very difficult to achieve because it is the civil and political rights; when you fight for their respect it is not easy especially in countries that have not had democratically institutions. Some of our victims understand nothing that sometimes turns to attack us. But REDHAC status that is out to fight against human rights especially for CSOs turns to create an atmosphere of peace between the victims. For example, every six months, we report on the violation of the human right and also the protection and security of lawyers who defend these victims. This is because if you want CSOs to continue in this light you need to reinforce them with security assistance. For example, we have laws that govern lawyers at the Regional, National and International level. Lawyers who defend victims of human rights violation and fight for peace and reconciliation 

We at REDHAC have proposed concrete solutions at the level of Cameroon and Africa in general for the respect of human rights. This is a vast area for us to handle in the protection of human rights. We also have manual functions and challenges like our laws in the country cannot surpass international laws. Analysis and recommendations have been done as well as publications on fundamental liberation and also following up defenders of human rights; aiding them protection and financially. For example, Mancho Bibixy was aided financially (REDHAC supported him by relocating his wife from Bamenda to Yaounde so she can easily pay him visits in prison) and May Ali who was relocated. We also give people the opportunity to air out their problems to the international community especially victims in the North West and South West. We have also produced documentaries on behalf of the victims. 

Pan African Visions: What are some of the challenges the REDHAC network has faced in the field while doing its work? 

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: Some of our challenges are infrastructural and financial challenges. This is because sometimes we need to help our victims who are not financially stable to shelter them and also the majority of our financial partners are state-owned that sometimes delay the assistance. Also, the government system is another problem we faced coupled with the fact that in Central Africa all the Presidents are of age weakening the system as they try to maintain their positions leading to poor leadership. 

States that do not practice democracy is another problem we faced resulting in poor decision-making. In Cameroon especially in the judiciary decisions cannot influence justice; same with the legislative decisions hindering sanctions on the government for wrong decisions taken. This also goes to the executive. This can be seen especially in the Ngarbuh massacre that to date government decisions have not been implemented on the perpetrators of the act. Meantime, we also have the case of Wazizi where to date his corpse has not been found. Despite our complaints, nothing has been done in all these instances. Sometimes, sanctions are levied on us when publications on such situations are made public. Our challenges to sum up rest on financial, undemocratic institutions, but all these can be solved. 

On the socio-political crisis ongoing in the North West and South West Regions, we have recommended for the liberation of all Anglophone detainees, says Maximilienne Ngo Mbe

Pan African Visions: Can you give us your perspectives on the situation of human rights in Cameroon, where have you seen progress and where have things been bad?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: The fact that REDHAC’s doors have not been shut down despite these challenges shows a level of respect for human rights. People are allowed to talk freely on TV stations without being arrested shows some positivity on the respect of human rights. We also have laws that have been respected in the country and it is good we encourage the government for such a move which will give them the ability to keep respect for human rights.

However, laws that are made by the legislative are not always being respected by the other bodies such as the executive and judiciary. There is some collaboration even though formal such as that of the Ministry of Justice and some human rights organizations including REDHAC. These small collaborations give us a supportive hand to continue our work.

Pan African Visions: Could you share some of the recommendations that REDHAC has in mind to improve human rights in Cameroon?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: In Cameroon, we have recommended the revision of so many laws and not its abolition such as the anti-terrorism law of 2014 against Journalists, civilians, politicians, activists and others. For example, the military court is not supposed to judge civilians or journalists and for this reason, we have recommended that the law be revised and we hope one day it will be considering that Cameroon is one of the members of the Commonwealth, Human Rights Commission in Africa and the UN. We are not saying that the law be abolished but revised concerning the rate of terrorism in central Africa. 

The second recommendation we have made is that if you observed Western African countries, there is a law to protect the right of journalists especially in Mali, Ivory Coast which was voted for and this law should be adopted in the Cameroon National Assembly and the President signing it into law. 

Our recommendations are not only on human rights violations but in a situation that we find ourselves in. Cameroon is facing various challenges, and we have been recommended that no war can be solved with the use of arms but negotiations should be the solution between the two parties. A commission should be created such as the Truth and Justice Reconciliation Commission should be created. With this being our best recommendation as human rights preachers it will be a better means to reconcile ourselves. A proposal for that commission had been written and sent to the appropriate quarters which will only hope for a positive reply. 

Also, on the socio-political crisis ongoing in the North West and South West Regions, we have recommended for the liberation of all Anglophone detainees especially those who have not appeared before the court since they were arrested but are in prison. For this reason, if Cameroon wants to portray that she is out to protect the rights of its citizens, then persons like Mancho Bibixy have to be released and stop the arrest of journalists and lawyers who defend human rights violations. The conduction of transparent elections has to be effective which will minimize the rigging of the election, reducing violence and threats during elections in Cameroon.

Conflicts are resolved with negotiations and not war, says Maximilienne Ngo Mbe on the situation in Cameroon

Pan African Visions: A new leadership and new members were recently appointed by President Biya to the National Human Rights Commission, what is your take on that, and do you think they can make a difference?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: Yes I think so.In the past years, we were working with the Commission headed by its former President Chemuta Banda and we did a lot of things, be it in the North West, Central Region and everywhere in Cameroon. We fought for the promotion and protection of Human Rights. On the contrary, since we did the last nomination and with his hatred, he disposes of daily it has nothing to do with human rights. It is feared that this Commission is only an empty vessel. How can you think that Mrs Elangue née Eva Etongue Mayer who has served more than seventeen years in the Commission and a defender of Human Rights was removed at a time when we needed a Commission like never before? For us, there has not been a consensus concerning the National Human Rights Commission today. At the moment, all those present at the Commission represent their head and shadow and so we have nothing to do with the Commission. 

Pan African Visions: What do you make of accusations of bias and opposition sympathies that are often linked to groups like REDHAC, Amnesty International, Human Rights Work and others?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: All over the world, human rights commissions are usually accused and so there is no exception when it comes to Cameroon especially on those Commissions who do their work effectively. The truth is that they (government) deform and lie against such commissions meanwhile in other countries such a thing cannot happen. In Cameroon, they deform, lie and corrupt and when they get to a level that they cannot corrupt they go to the extent of levying threats. Human Rights organizations are only doing what we are expected to do and nothing else. 

During the Ngarbuh massacre, the Minister of Territorial Administration Paul Atangi Nji held a press conference saying that Human rights Commissions had taken five million to destabilize the country which was not true to the point of sending us a warrant of arrest. This went far in tarnishing our image both nationally and internationally and to this day an investigation is still open. This was a strong allegation from such a personality who did not have strong evidence.

This is what I have been talking about in countries that do not practice democracy. Such countries are characterised by deformation and even those who count on human right commissions like REDHAC, Human Rights Watch. REDHAC’s office is in Cameroon and all that the government does is criticise and deform. But this is very different from other Human rights Commissions like Amnesty International that has its Headquarters in Senegal; you can never hear the government criticise to this extent, same as Human Rights Watch in the USA, posing a threat to other human rights organizations coming up. It is a dictatorial system and a system that does not respect human rights. 

Pan African Visions: What next for you and REDHAC after this award, what are some of the projects that you have in mind going forward? 

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: What I can say never gives up despite the huge challenge we face in our country. We have to continue to work for peace and protect human rights. We are continuing without any stoppage in preaching and protecting the human rights commission, the implementation of a democratic state with no fear despite all the threats by implementing all the mechanisms to promote peace for all and protect human rights defenders. It should be noted that these are areas giving less concern and our small shoulders are ready for the fight. 

Pan African Visions: We understand that you were in Congo during the recent Presidential election, could you share with us what you saw, were there free and fair from your perspective?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe tells PAV’s Cameroon reporter Boris Esono N that REDHAC is closely monitoring the situation in Congo

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: The situation in Congo is our preoccupation now but yesterday we were told that some protesters were arrested, showing no difference with Cameroon. You will see that when Sassou Nguesou discovered that his mandate will soon end he amended the constitution, changing it into a referendum favouring him during the election which provided him with a new mandate. Can you imagine that we were in Congo and were denied accreditation to observe how the elections were conducted? This is very dissatisfactory as during the election we carried out some teaching on the protection of human rights. 

We were going to look at those rights that were violated and not who won. This same scenario also happened to the Human Rights Commission in Congo. This is just to show you that when a Human Rights Commission works for the people it is very possible to have problems with the government. It will surprise you that the next day ghost town was declared making some voters walk long distances to vote, violating the right of circulation in and out of the country. Even we had to walk from up to 5km just to look for food to eat. When ghost towns are declared, how do you expect people to vote including handicaps? 

It should be noted that before the ghost town was declared the forces of law and order had voted two days before and these same military forces already had voting stations, showing some level of fraud. On that same night, the internet was seized even to the 27 that we returned and the internet had still not been regularized. The only excuse given was that the person that was working on it died of COVID-19. 

Again, we were told that some of our members were arrested but we are working on it though worried and the only thing we can do is hope for a calm situation considering that Congo had once had a civil war and also pray that the population remain calm because it is a provocation.  

Pan African Visions: Thank you for granting this interview, any last word you wish to make?

Maximilienne Ngo Mbe: NEVER GIVE UP. I want to thank everyone that has supported REDHAC and my staff who has been there in our difficult moments and that we have passed through it. I want to thank the American State Department as it is an award that comes to protect REDHAC and myself. I want to assure all Human Rights Organizations, journalists and the African community to continue to strengthen the fight in protecting and promoting Human Rights, and maintaining peace. 

(Translation was done with the help of Sonita Ngunyi)

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Kenya’s opposition Chief recovers from Covid-19
March 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has tested negative for the coronavirus.Photo credit  DENNIS ONSONGO.
Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has tested negative for the coronavirus.Photo credit DENNIS ONSONGO.

Kenya’s former Prime Minister Raila Odinga has tested negative for the coronavirus.

His Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party made this revelation through a statement posted on Twitter.

“We are happy our Party Leader Raila Odinga tested negative and is out of danger of Covid-19. We thank God for that. God bless him, God bless Kenya,” said the statement duly signed by the party’s Director of Communication Philip Etale.

Raila was admitted to Nairobi Hospital on March 10 after a five-day tour of the coast region to popularize the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).  Later, he revealed he tested positive for the deadly disease and proceeded to self-isolation in his Nairobi home.

The statement was followed by a meeting that brought together the opposition leader and the ODM top leadership comprising of John Mbadi (ODM chairman), June Mohammed (National Assembly Minority Whip), Edwin Sifuna (Secretary-General), Timothy Bosire (Treasurer), and Gladys Wanga (member of the top leadership of ODM).

They deliberated on the recent developments in the East Africa nation, the ongoing Covid-19 vaccination, and the country’s economy.

In the meeting, Raila reaffirms his commitment to handshake, dispelling speculations that he and his foe turn friend President Uhuru Kenyatta are not reading from the same script.

“We agreed the BBI must be subjected to a referendum because it entails a fundamental reorganization of the architecture of the Executive and Kenyans need to have a say in the reorganization. The party therefore fully supports a referendum on the document,” reads an excerpt from the AU envoy’s statement.

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President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate
March 28, 2021 | 0 Comments
President of Nigeria is one of the leaders invited by President Biden
President of Nigeria is one of the leaders invited by President Biden

Today, President Biden invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate he will host on April 22 and 23.  The virtual Leaders Summit will be live streamed for public viewing.

President Biden took action his first day in office to return the United States to the Paris Agreement.  Days later, on January 27, he announced that he would soon convene a leaders summit to galvanize efforts by the major economies to tackle the climate crisis.

The Leaders Summit on Climate will underscore the urgency – and the economic benefits – of stronger climate action.  It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow.

In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.  A key goal of both the Leaders Summit and COP26 will be to catalyze efforts that keep that 1.5-degree goal within reach.  The Summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts.

By the time of the Summit, the United States will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement.  In his invitation, the President urged leaders to use the Summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition.

The Summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP.  The President also invited the heads of other countries that are demonstrating strong climate leadership, are especially vulnerable to climate impacts, or are charting innovative pathways to a net-zero economy.  A small number of business and civil society leaders will also participate in the Summit.

Key themes of the Summit will include:

  • Galvanizing efforts by the world’s major economies to reduce emissions during this critical decade to keep a limit to warming of 1.5 degree Celsius within reach.
  • Mobilizing public and private sector finance to drive the net-zero transition and to help vulnerable countries cope with climate impacts. 
  • The economic benefits of climate action, with a strong emphasis on job creation, and the importance of ensuring all communities and workers benefit from the transition to a new clean energy economy.
  • Spurring transformational technologies that can help reduce emissions and adapt to climate change, while also creating enormous new economic opportunities and building the industries of the future.
  • Showcasing subnational and non-state actors that are committed to green recovery and an equitable vision for limiting warming to 1.5 degree Celsius, and are working closely with national governments to advance ambition and resilience.
  • Discussing opportunities to strengthen capacity to protect lives and livelihoods from the impacts of climate change, address the global security challenges posed by climate change and the impact on readiness, and address the role of nature-based solutions in achieving net zero by 2050 goals. 

Further details on the Summit agenda, additional participants, media access, and public viewing will be provided in the coming weeks.

The President invited the following leaders to participate in the Summit:

  • Prime Minister Gaston Browne, Antigua and Barbuda
  • President Alberto Fernandez, Argentina 
  • Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Australia    
  • Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bangladesh
  • Prime Minister Lotay Tshering, Bhutan
  • President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil    
  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada          
  • President Sebastián Piñera, Chile 
  • President Xi Jinping, People’s Republic of China    
  • President Iván Duque Márquez, Colombia    
  • President Félix Tshisekedi, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Denmark 
  • President Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission
  • President Charles Michel, European Council
  • President Emmanuel Macron, France        
  • President Ali Bongo Ondimba, Gabon        
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel, Germany 
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India    
  • President Joko Widodo, Indonesia      
  • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel
  • Prime Minister Mario Draghi, Italy    
  • Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Jamaica
  • Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Japan  
  • President Uhuru Kenyatta, Kenya      
  • President David Kabua, Republic of the Marshall Islands
  • President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, Mexico  
  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand
  • President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria        
  • Prime Minister Erna Solberg, Norway 
  • President Andrzej Duda, Poland  
  • President Moon Jae-in, Republic of Korea     
  • President Vladimir Putin, The Russian Federation  
  • King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Singapore
  • President Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa 
  • Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, Spain
  • President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey
  • President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, United Arab Emirates
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson, United Kingdom
  • President Nguyễn Phú Trọng, Vietnam  
  • *Source White House 
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Biden Administration Puts Zimbabwe on Notice
March 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols, left, shakes hands during a courtesy call with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, in an August 15, 2018 file photo.TSVANGIRAYI MUKWAZHI/AP
U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Brian Nichols, left, shakes hands during a courtesy call with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa in Harare, in an August 15, 2018 file photo.TSVANGIRAYI MUKWAZHI/AP

Following its policy of Democracy and social justice respect follow-up to its destination for the good of all , USA tighten screws end of this week accusing Zimbabwe ‘ s President of abuse of power , abuse of office by President Mnangagwa since 2017 , gross human rights violation , unwarranted arrests of Opposition officials , Closing of space for MDC Party  .

‘’There are illegal recalls of MDC Parliamentarians, abuse of office and close of space for MDC Alliance. ‘’ The USA STATE Department, has been watching this since 2017. says US State Department Spokes-person  , Ned Price

Price was quoted as well saying out that the US is keep watching Zimbabwe, following on events since the time President Mnangagwa got into office

‘’USA is following events.  On 17 March this year ZANU PF tried to strip MDC ALLIANCE members of their elected seats. Since 2020 March, there are 39 ousted MPs and 81 elected local officials, Zimbabwe is undermining Democracy, rule of law ‘’  .

Since the start of covid-19, several tight regulations have been passed. These have been a blow to MDC Alliance political activities. The party was closed its space to do activities which were meant to bring change to the country, this has been said .

An official with the USA Embassy in Harare notes as well that there are several activities which were meant to be carried by MDC Alliance which were blocked in the name of covid-19 .

‘’ A number of MDC Activities were blocked in the hide of covid-19 .  There are a number of regulations that were passed by the Government of Zimbabwe which were a benefit to MDC Alliance and the people.’’ says a pseudonym from the Embassy in Harare.

‘’Gatherings blocked since the time of covid-19 were meant to target MDC Alliance. ZANU-PF had a number of gatherings not disturbed. The party had gathered a move to bring change to the people, but nothing came out of that, Every move was blocked in the name of covid- 19.  Says a Poi8ltica Activist Jairos Samombe .

Civil-Society Organisations lament lack of respect to Democracy and rule of Liberty and Law following the arrest of Job Sikhala , Johanna Mamonbe  , Fadzai Mahere and Journalists who were taken as political activists . Due to several political un-rests, MDC Alliance lost its Party Head-Office in Harare.

‘’ USA State Department has watch since 2017 . President Mnangagwa has never fulfilled his promises. We keep watch to this ‘’

‘’We have added 4 security officials to the list of sanctions against Zimbabwe. Comes again  Ned Price, Spokesperson for USA State Department .

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Urgent International support needed to support the Government of Mozambique to Combat Terror in Cabo Delgado
March 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk*

President Felipe Nyusi
President Felipe Nyusi

The terror attacks on Palma are not simply targets of opportunity. They are strategic targets. The goal is to destroy Mozambique’s government’s ability to produce, export gas, fight poverty, create jobs and to make it clear that the government cannot protect oil company personnel or assets. 

This is terrorism and must be condemned in all forms. These terrorist attacks if not taken seriously will cost the Mozambican government billions of dollars in lost investment and LNG earnings.

The African Energy Chamber is encouraged by the response of the President Nyusi and the Mozambique government. We continue to closely monitor the situation in close co-ordination with authorities in Mozambique and the energy companies.

“The international community is slowly realizing that the issue of terrorism is not only a Mozambique problem but a global problem. A swift and coordinated global response is needed to confront these band of terrorist, whose only goal is to inflict pain and poverty into a population that is already in distress” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.  

“President Nyusi and Mozambique should not be left to solve this alone. The International community must support President Nyusi with the needed assistance to secure peace and stability. After that the President can also start the process of  rebuilding what has become quite a fractured population in Cabo Delgado.” conclude Ayuk

The tangible improvements to the security environment in Cabo Delgado have enabled energy companies to resume activities. The resumption is very positive, and credit must be given to the government and the energy companies who see their work as contributing to the growth of Mozambique. Investments of billions of dollars have already been made, but an escalation of violence is putting the future of these investments at risk.

NJ Ayuk at a recent meeting with President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique.The target must be to get activity levels across the entire energy value chain in Africa back to pre Covid-19 levels and beyond, he says.
NJ Ayuk at a recent meeting with President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique

We also note that the interruption will result in minor delays in development schedule of key projects however, we are confident that the operators can minimize those and continue a rapid ramp-up of the projects.

There will be peace in Mozambique. It is not impossible. The Mozambican people are resilient and understand what is at stake. It will take time, diligence and discipline on the part of the government, and buy-in by the oil companies. The Mozambican economy will benefit from LNG earnings and more exploration. 

*Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber

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Uhuru’s tough Covid-19 rules anger Kenyans
March 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

President Uhuru Kenyatta, on Friday, March 26, restricted movement in and out of five counties: Nairobi.Photo credit Xinhua/Charles Onyango
President Uhuru Kenyatta, on Friday, March 26, restricted movement in and out of five counties: Nairobi.Photo credit Xinhua/Charles Onyango

A majority of Kenyans have expressed their disappointment over what they term as a “strange” move by President Uhuru Kenyatta to review Covid-19 containment measures.

The irate Kenyans said the President should have stressed implementing the already existing measures instead of imposing tougher ones.

In a move to curb the surging Covid-19 cases in the country, President Uhuru Kenyatta, on Friday, March 26, restricted movement in and out of five counties: Nairobi, Nakuru, Machakos, Kiambu.

Kenyatta declared the Counties “disease-infected” zones saying they have accounted for 70 percent of Kenya’s total Covid-19 cases.

“In January 2021, 20 Kenyans were in intensive care unit wards. In February, the number rose by nearly 30. In March, the ICU admissions shot up to 930,” said President Kenyatta.

The five counties’ curfew hours have also been changed from 10 pm-4am to 8 pm-4am, effective Saturday, March 27. However, the curfew hours in other parts of the country remain 10pm to 4 pm.

The Head of the State also suspended Parliament sessions and County Assembly meetings in the mentioned areas until further notice.

Physical cabinet meetings were also brought to a halt.

Religious meetings were also banned in the “disease-infected” zones. However, other regions will go on with their worship services but must observe the third capacity rule.

In the new measures, the President also banned face-to-face learning in all universities, colleges, and vocational training institutions, except for final year students doing their exams.

Visitors jetting into Kenya must have a Covid-19 negative certificate taken 96 hours before the arrival date.

Owners of bars were ordered to close their premises until further notice, and restaurants were directed to provide takeaway services.

Social gatherings will have a maximum of 15 people, and only 30 Kenyans are allowed to attend a wedding ceremony.

The public service vehicles are ordered to carry 60 percent of their capacity, and public servants are asked to work from home.

On funeral arrangements, families were directed to bury their loved ones within 72 hours from the day of demise.

The announcement elicited fierce criticism from struggling Kenyans who have been hit hard by the pandemic. Others also used the opportunity to narrate their ordeals.

“I have been a waiter since I came back to Nairobi after losing my previous job. Now, chances are, I am likely gonna lose this one too. Where did i go wrong?” said Lawrence Kinuthia.

“Some directives by the way don’t make sense to me. You should give kenyans some time before imposing. Atleast 24 to 48 hours. Imagine having gone for a business meeting in Mombasa but you live in Nairobi. How are you supposed to stay in Mombasa UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE?” posed Bravin Yuri.

“President is destabilizing the business environment when it is just picking up yet he has no solutions or not offering any kind of amnesty to reduce the cost of running business with aspects like fuel being at all time high,” said Elli Chanzu.

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Somalia: A Sustained Fight for Human Rights paying off for Mama Zahra
March 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Mama Zahra has beaten all odds to continue supporting the voiceless and the vulnerable
Mama Zahra has beaten all odds to give voice to the voiceless and the vulnerable in Somalia.Photo credit Twitter.

The task may be daunting but the crusade for better human rights in Somalia is one that Zahra Mohamed Ahmad better known as Mama Zahra has embraced whole heartedly. Under the canopy of the Somali Women Development Centre that she leads, Mama Zahra has worked tirelessly to empower women, counsel rape, war and victims of gender violence, provide free legal counselling, working on reconciliation and peacebuilding amongst many other human rights related initiatives.

Her efforts got a big boost recently when she was one of three Africans selected as recipients of the U.S State Department International Women of Courage Award. Assisted by an interpreter in an interview with Samuel Ouma for PAV, Mama Zahra says the award will serve as an encouragement to women in Somalia to keep making a positive change in society.

May we start with a reaction from you on the recent Women of Courage Award you received, how did you receive news about this? How did Somalis feel about it, and what does this mean for the work you do?

Mama Zahra: First, I would like to express my gratitude to the Almighty God for enabling me to bag this precious award because it means a lot to me and my people, especially women and girls. The information about the award came directly from the US Department of State Department and was received with joy by Somalis. I am sure it will encourage women, particularly those doing social works, to make positive changes in society.

Talking about the work you do; can you tell us a little more about the Somali Women Development Centre-SWDC ?

Mama Zahra: SWDC is a non-governmental and non-profit organization established in 2000 to empower women and other vulnerable groups such as IDPs, victims of rape, war, gender-based violence, and any calamity, be it natural or human, through access to knowledge and economic and social independence. We also focus on the human rights protection of the vulnerable groups by providing free legal aid services, enhancing reconciliation and peacebuilding, lobbying with the involved parties, and building capacity.

What is the situation like for women and girls in particular and human rights in general in Somalia?

Mama Zahra: The situation is not encouraging at all. Unlike other countries such as Syria and Kenya, refugees in Somalia who are mainly women and children live in unfavorable conditions. Overcrowding and lack of social amenities are heart-breaking. Parents are being forced to live in small tents together with their children.

May we know some of the successes you have registered, what changes have taken place in Somalia as a result of your work with the SWDC?

Mama Zahra: I am proud of the accomplishments we have achieved since 2000. First, the People of Minnesota and I had formed Somcare to oversee the treatment of 250 seriously injured in the war. Through the partnership, these people were successfully treated in Kenya’s Kijabe hospital.  Second, we have trained several women on legal matters, and they have been of great help whenever help is needed. Besides, we have trained female security guards in prison on how to handle female inmates.  We have also offered support to people living with HIV/AIDS, orphans, blind children, and university students from a poor backgrounds. By agitating for an increase in women’s representation, the quota has increased from 11/12 percent to 24 percent. Somali women are highly represented in Parliament, making it one of the highest in the continent.  Out of 275 lawmakers, over 80 are women.

In terms of challenges, may you know some of the most acute challenges you have faced?

Mama Zahra: There have been both personal and organizational challenges. As an organization, we were hard hit in 2013 after two male barristers who were mandated to train women lawyers were killed in a terrorist attack in a regional court in Mogadishu. It was a sad experience, but we had to move on. Later, I was expelled from a regional state of election for standing for what is right before losing my son under mysterious circumstances. My son, the founder of the first laundry shop in the Somali capital, was shot dead in the street. He also owned a start-up kind of organization that offered support to the young. I believe he was killed because he was innovative.

How is your relationship with the government in Somalia, how are your activities and those of the SWDC perceived, and what are they doing or not doing to improve on the situation of girls and women?

Mama Zahra: I work with many ministries in Somalia to achieve our objectives, and Somalis have embraced our activities beyond any doubt. We are doing a lot to improve the situation of women and girls. For instance, we have partnered with the government to offer free primary and secondary education; we own medical facilities where they receive treatment and provide finances to vulnerable individuals to help them settle down and feed their families.

Mama Zahra was among the women recognized worldwide by the U.S State Department  for demonstrating bravery and leadership in advocating for human rights, peace, gender equality, women empowerment, and justice
Mama Zahra was among the women recognized worldwide by the U.S State Department for demonstrating bravery and leadership in advocating for human rights, peace, gender equality, women empowerment, and justice.Photo courtesy

In terms of policy proposals, what suggestions or recommendations do you have that could help improve gender and human rights in the country?

Mama Zahra: People should pay attention to both local and international laws on human rights to better women’s lives.

With all the work you have done and the growing international, is the thought of political leadership something you have thought of or something you may consider if Somalis call on you?

Mama Zahra: I have no political ambition, but I support women’s leadership; women should be represented at all levels of positions.

Any message to international partners out there on what and how there could support the work you have been doing on the ground in Somalia?

Mama Zahra: So far, we operate in two regions, but with well-wishers and partners, we can move to other regions to impact more lives.  I plead with them to rally behind us to help us realize our goals.

What next for Mama Zahra after the Women in Courage award? What changes or developments should we expect from you and the SWDC?

Mama Zahra: I was awarded for what I did, but now through international help, I would love to improve the living standards of the IDPs, install DNA facilities that are only found in South Africa in the continent, and advocate for a high-quality healthcare system.

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NJ Ayuk On Making The Most Of Africa’s Energy Potential
March 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Africa’s voice must be heard loud and strong as part of the global energy discourse, says NJ Ayuk
Africa’s voice must be heard loud and strong as part of the global energy discourse, says NJ Ayuk

As many were wailing in disbelieve at the impact of COVID-19 on African economies, NJ Ayuk was one of those who rolled up his sleeves, put on his thinking cap and took the lead in proffering solutions and charting the way forward.

From robust engagement with OPEC, to a multitude of webinars to key stakeholders, helping governments navigate complex situations and building bridges with partners in Africa and the world, NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber spared no efforts in the quest for solutions to sustain and keep the African energy sector ticking.

“Africa’s voice must therefore be heard loud and strong as part of the global energy discourse. The Chamber has identified this and therefore has as one of its objectives to federate the different aspirations of Africans in the energy sector and articulate this in a constructive manner that will foster investment in the African energy sector, says NJ Ayuk in an interview with PAV magazine.

Bullish on the way forward, Ayuk believes that Africa must make the most of its energy potential and this starts with getting activity levels across the entire energy value chain in Africa back to pre-COVID-19 levels, says Ayuk. In a show of its seriousness on the way forward, the African Energy Chamber recently published its road to recovery book which provides practical guidance on how African countries can enhance compactivity globally to attract investment.

“The energy sector’s challenges, and the trials and tribulations have made the African Energy Chamber’s work more important now, more than ever. We are committed to helping Africa’s energy sector stakeholders navigate a complex and ever-changing global energy landscape. We will continue our mission to support the dynamic private sector and unlock the continent’s remarkable energy potential,” says Ayuk.

After a tough year, what do African countries need to do to get the energy sector back on the rails so it can continue playing its role in the economic development of the continent?

In order to change the tide and spur a post covid recovery in the energy sector that will also enhance overall economic growth in Africa, African countries must double their efforts to attract investment into their energy sectors. They must put in place timely and market relevant strategies to deal with external headwinds like the drive to decarbonize globally and evolving demand patterns for energy internally and hydrocarbons globally. They must end restrictive fiscal regimes, inefficient and carbon-intensive production, cut bureaucracy and other difficulties in doing business which are preventing the industry from reaching its full potential.

2020 was a year of unprecedented challenges for Africa’s energy sector. The target must be to get activity levels across the entire energy value chain in Africa back to pre Covid-19 levels and beyond. Companies in the oil and gas sub-sector for example responded by cutting costs and delaying projects, with planned capital expenditure for 2020-2021 dropping from $90 billion pre-COVID-19, to $60 billion.

NJ Ayuk says the energy sector’s challenges, and the trials and tribulations have made the African Energy Chamber’s work more important now than ever
NJ Ayuk says the energy sector’s challenges, and the trials and tribulations have made the African Energy Chamber’s work more important now than ever

As a leading actor in the Energy sector, may we get your assessment on the response from key power players in the continent like Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Angola, and others, what are they getting right and what are there missing or needs to be improved upon?

The response on the continent has been a mixed bag. A number of African countries were slow in responding to market realities, largely due to bureaucracy and the absence of generally agreed principles on how to deal with the COVID -19 pandemic. Others on the other hand, especially countries with a notable dependence on their oil and gas sectors responded swiftly to minimize disruptions in their countries.

For example, OPEC member Equatorial Guinea moved swiftly in the early months of the pandemic to implement best practice protocols that enabled the industry to operate uninterrupted during the pandemic. The government also suspended and deferred several fees usually borne by companies in the sector, in an attempt to support a reduction of costs in the sector. The result of these measures was that production in EG were kept at the levels projected prior to the pandemic and the sector did not witness mass retrenchment as was the case in several other oil producing countries.

Angola responded in a similar manner, after consulting with major stakeholders in the industry. Special health and safety protocols were adopted for the industry that allowed for undisrupted activity in the oil and gas sector. The government has also been able to maintain the momentum in its ongoing bid-round by facilitating access to seismic data and passing additional legislation that will facilitate exploration and drilling activity. Despite the associated economic crisis, the government has held on to its strategic power infrastructure projects like the completion of the Lauca dam and associated transition infrastructure which will boost power supply in the country significantly. The chamber believes that this project is key to enable the development of industry and the mass creation of jobs in Angola.

In Nigeria, there is a realization, across political lines, that the long-awaited Petroleum Industry Bill must be passed in order to give clarity and predictability to the industry, both key components that drive investment. The bill was therefore tabled in parliament and it is likely, that it shall be passed and enacted in law in the 3rd quarter of this year. Furthermore, the Nigerian government in response to the growing importance of Gas globally and also for power generation internally is investing significantly to enable gas to power infrastructure in-country. This is a good development for Nigeria and Africa, as we seek to reduce the number of those without access to affordable and reliable power and to promote industry that will provide jobs for Africa’s youthful population.

The energy sector’s challenges, and the trials and tribulations have made the African Energy Chamber’s work more important now, more than ever. We are committed to helping Africa’s energy sector stakeholders navigate a complex and ever-changing global energy landscape. We will continue our mission to support the dynamic private sector and unlock the continent’s remarkable energy potential.

What role has the African Energy Chamber played and/or what initiatives have been taken to help the continental wide response and recovery efforts?

The African Energy Chamber is at the forefront of Africa’s response to COVID-19, and the associated economic crisis. The Chamber is the voice of the African energy sector and is leading the industry’s response in a number of ways;

  • Together with OPEC and other stakeholders, the Chamber is working on an initiative to combat energy poverty in Africa, which is increasing even faster in a post covid era.
  • The Chamber together other partners like the International Association of Geophysical Contractors – IAGC championed the streamlining of permits for the obtention of seismic data in several African countries.
  • The Chamber emitted several guidelines (AEC Common Sense Agenda) after consultations with industry stakeholders on how best to ensure continuity in the energy sector and increase investment post-COVID-19
  • The AEC is a trusted advisor to key stakeholders in the industry. We engaged with several governments and advised them on ways to increase quality local participation in their energy sectors, in a manner that ensures global competitivity in a post COVID-19 environment.
  • The Chamber launched a jobs portal to take opportunities to young Africans
  • .

As things stand now, and with everything that has taken place, how much of a factor or key player is Africa in shaping global decisions in the energy sector, how strong is the African voice in articulating and defending its interests?

According to The Africa Energy Chambers 2021 outlook, Africa consumes just over 710 terawatt-hours (TWh) presently. This is expected to triple in the next 3 decades. This represents just 6% of global consumption, and 7% of global production, despite Africa having 17% of the world’s total population. Africa also holds over 7% of total proven global oil and gas reserves. However, the continent is significantly underexplored. Recent discovery trends indicate that the continent is well placed to become a key global supplier of LNG, with major recent discoveries in Mozambique, Nigeria, Tanzania and Senegal/Mauritania.

Africa’s voice must therefore be heard loud and strong as part of the global energy discourse. The Chamber has identified this and therefore has as one of its objectives to federate the different aspirations of Africans in the energy sector and articulate this in a constructive manner that will foster investment in the African energy sector.

African stakeholders must federate around initiatives like those of the chamber in order to have the stance taken into account. `individual countries are unlikely to have an impact.

 NJ Ayuk at a recent meeting with President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique.The target must be to get activity levels across the entire energy value chain in Africa back to pre Covid-19 levels and beyond, he says.
NJ Ayuk at a recent meeting with President Felipe Nyusi of Mozambique.The target must be to get activity levels across the entire energy value chain in Africa back to pre Covid-19 levels and beyond, he says.

Under your leadership, the African Energy Chamber has sort to broaden its reach in Africa, with representations in Central and West Africa, how is this expansion shaping or moving the agenda of the Chamber forward?

The Chamber and our regional Presidents have done an amazing job with creating awareness about the Chamber and our work in their respective regions and beyond. Our footprints in Angola, East Africa, Mozambique, and Central Africa and their success allow us to keep abreast with the issues facing the energy industry in these regions and find solutions that work in these regions. The chamber will continue to grow regionally as we seek closer cooperation with the energy industry and stakeholders in-country. It is imperative, that the aspirations of every African and other stakeholders in each African country are reflected in what we do at the chamber. I want to take this opportunity to thank the regional teams for all what they do.

In an op-ed last year, you said now will be a good time for American independent oil and gas producers to consider opportunities in Africa, may we know what Africa stands to gain from more US presence?

I lived, studied and worked in the United States at the start of my career and one thing that has always stood out to me was this: The American sense of optimism and ingenuity that drives American entrepreneurship. In that same light, I think the ingenuity of American oil independents will lead to a win-win situation for both the companies and African countries in which they might operate. Africa’s energy sector needs that spirit of entrepreneurship which has led to the creation of tremendous wealth in America. Many of Nigeria’s major oil discoveries were made by such companies. In Senegal, AFRICA FORTESA Corporation, headed by US Upstream veteran Roger Beall is already producing and supplying gas to the domestic market. This is a trend that is expected to define the development and industrialization of Africa in the coming decades.  Mr Beall founded Fortesa in 1997 and employs over 200 employees in his onshore E&P project in Senegal. Fortesa is exactly the kind of US company that we seek to attract to Africa. Not only do such companies create good paying jobs for young Africans, but they also provide training, tax revenue and most importantly demonstrate the kind of entrepreneurship that Africans must emulate in order to develop their continent.

The African Energy Chamber recently appointed a US-Africa Committee to serve in its advisory board, how would the committee help in growing and strengthening cooperation and investment between the US and Africa in the energy sector?

The African Energy Chamber appointed the US-Africa Committee to serve on its Advisory Board as a means to support the development of stronger energy cooperation and investment between the United States and Africa. Across the entire energy value chain, the committee aims to facilitate US investment into Africa’s energy sector and provide a platform for continuous dialogue between US energy stakeholders and their counterparts in Africa. America has long viewed African energy resources, especially oil and gas as key to its strategic interests. Africa has also cherished this relationship, though perspectives have changed over time due to the changing dynamics of each stakeholders’ economies and global demand patterns. The chamber sees the US as a key partner; and with the support of incredibly talented and experienced board members on that committee, commits to ensuring that frequent exchanges between US and African stakeholders lead to more investments in Africa. The committee is chaired by KearneyAfrica Legal Advisors President and former Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Commerce, Mr Jude Kearney.

To unlock future growth potential in the US-African energy cooperation, we will need to open up to SMEs and entrepreneurs and not be limited only to large and traditional corporations. The need to encourage African investments into the US was also brought to the table as a way to further support a win-win relationship that would support further capital flows going both ways.

Ayuk and a delegation of the African Energy Chamber in a photo with the Governor of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique.The AEC came in with a consignment of emergency assistance for displaced persons
Ayuk and a delegation of the African Energy Chamber in a photo with the Governor of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. The AEC came in with a consignment of emergency assistance for displaced persons

What is your take on the issue of vaccines for COVID 19 and do you this has a role to play in the recovery that you envisaged?

I believe vaccines are the only solution for the world to return to some form of normality, similar to pre-covid -19 times. The pandemic has been devastating to the world economy overall and even more so to Africa in particular. Ending the pandemic rests on the successful delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to every country but the challenge goes beyond just having vaccines available. There is also significant convincing to be done for populations in Africa and globally to have confidence in the vaccine. Our assessment at the chamber, is that most of the developed world will have opened up their economies fully in the fourth quarter of 2021 in response to the majority of their populations having been vaccinated. Unfortunately, vaccination is likely to be slower in Africa mainly due to lack of access to vaccines. However, a rebound in economic growth in developed nations and china will spur activity in the sector in Africa.

We end with a last word from you on the way forward for Africa as the continent grapples with COVID-19, what gives you hope and what are you are your fears?

Africa’s oil and gas industry is facing extraordinary circumstances. An ongoing energy transition and new efforts to decarbonize the world are weighing on oil demand. The shale revolution exacerbated these pressures. And of course, the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc on markets around the world, accelerating and intensifying existing trends. External headwinds are forcing African petroleum producers and the entire African energy sector to re-examine their strategies. Conventional petroleum resources here must be globally competitive, if the industry is to compete and survive when compared to new frontiers like Guyana and Suriname. Growth has lagged because of conditions above the ground and not below. Restrictive fiscal regimes, inefficient and carbon-intensive production, and difficulties in doing business are preventing the industry from reaching its full potential. These conditions need to improve, if Africa’s energy industry is to remain competitive and thrive.

Africa’s young generation gives me hope. Studies show that the younger generation is more likely to hold their leaders accountable, a key component to demand and drive change that will propel development.

*Culled from March Issue of PAV Magazine

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S. Sudan President Kiir Declares 3 – Days Mourning of Tanzania’s President Magufuli
March 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

At this moment, the people of the Republic of South Sudan stand in solidarity with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania," says Kiir.
At this moment, the people of the Republic of South Sudan stand in solidarity with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania,” says Kiir.

Juba – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has declared three days of mourning across South Sudan following the death of Tanzania’s fifth President John Pombe Magufuli.

Tanzanian President Magufuli died Wednesday of a heart complications in Dar es Salaam, according to the East African country’s female Vice President who is expected to succeed the late president. He was 61 years old.

President Kiir, in his address to the press on Thursday in Juba, ordered the South Sudan flag to fly  at half-mast across all government institutions, including diplomatic missions abroad. However, the mourning period begins today until Saturday.

President Kiir said ’he and the people of South Sudan “are deeply saddened by the death of Tanzanian president and grieving with their brothers and sisters in the United Republic of Tanzania.”

“At this moment, the people of the Republic of South Sudan stand in solidarity with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania,” said Kiir.

President Kiir expressed the solidarity of the people of South Sudan with the government of Tanzania.

The South Sudanese head of state further said he “prayed to the Almighty God to give all the strength and comfort to the people of Tanzania and the family of the late to withstand this immense loss.”

John Maguful was elected the fifth President of Tanzania in 2015.

Tanzania’s Vice President Samia Suhulu is set to take over the post as the first female President in the East Africa country.

In July 2020 Magufuli was nominated as the Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s presidential candidate in the October 2020 elections. His nomination was not opposed as he received the highest votes and was therefore re-elected to a second term until 2025.

The 61-year-old leader was nicknamed “the bulldozer” for his zero-tolerance to corruption and governmental bureaucracies.

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USA military training Mozambican marines
March 16, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

The USA and Mozambican governments launched today, 15, a two-month Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) training program, in which the U.S. Special Operations Forces will train Mozambican marines for two months to support the southen african country efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.

U.S. Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) Deputy Commander Colonel Richard Schmidt represented the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) during the opening ceremony, while Major General Ramiro Ramos Tulcidás represented the Government of Mozambique.

According to a press release seen by Pan African Visions, in addition to training, the USA provided medical and communications equipment.

“The United States is committed to supporting Mozambique with a multifaceted and holistic approach to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism”, it says adding that “this approach addresses socioeconomic development issues as well as the security situation.

“Civilian protection, human rights, and community engagement are central to U.S. cooperation and are foundational to effectively counter the Islamic State in Mozambique.”

Last week the United States has designated the Islamic State group’s Mozambican branch, also known as Al-Shabab and Ansar al-Sunna, as a terrorist organisation together with its leader, a Tanzanian named Abu Yasir Hassan.

The designation requires banks to freeze their assets and bans any US citizen from dealing with them.

In a press release, the US state department said that it was a crime for anyone to provide support to the group, and that any foreign financial institution that carried out a transaction on their behalf could face sanctions. Isis in Mozambique has killed over 1,300 civilians since October 2017, the release added, and is “responsible for orchestrating a series of large scale and sophisticated attacks resulting in the capture of the strategic port of Mocimboa da Praia.”

In its statement, which also designated the IS’ affiliate in DR Congo as a terrorist organisation, the state department said that although IS-associated media portray the IS Central African Province (ISCAP) as a unified structure, “ISIS-DRC and ISIS-Mozambique are distinct groups with distinct origins.”

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Nobel laureate urges more action on debt for African growth to rebound
March 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz has called for a comprehensive global plan to help countries cope with mounting debt that has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Stiglitz, a recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2001, was speaking on Friday at the virtual launch of the African Development Bank’s 2021 African Economic Outlook report during a conversation with Bank President Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina.

Adesina began the exchange by pointing out that Africa’s debt had climbed to around 70 percent of gross domestic product (GDP). He then sought Stiglitz’s views on the prevailing global debt architecture.

“That’s a question I’ve been very concerned with for a long time … You need debt restructuring, and that needs to be really high on the international agenda,” said Stiglitz, an American economist and a professor at Columbia University.

“Every country has bankruptcy laws but there’s no bankruptcy law for international debt,” Stiglitz added. “Remember when there’s too much debt, it’s as much the creditor’s problem as the debtor’s problem.”

Adesina and Stiglitz went on to discuss recent debt relief efforts, including a debt standstill that the G20 group of wealthy nations presented to the world’s poorest countries in April 2020. Stiglitz said the standstill took place when it seemed the pandemic might only last a few months. “Now that it’s lasted a year, a standstill is not enough.”

“What needs to be done with debt is comprehensive and quick restructuring. We don’t want to fall into the trap of doing too little, too late,” Stiglitz said.

This year’s African Economic Outlook highlights how the economic fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic has contributed to rising debt levels among African countries, and proposes remedies. Stiglitz said his proposal, an international debt framework, had to include the private sector, given its growing role as a source of government debt.

According to the African Economic Outlook, the share of commercial creditors in Africa’s external debt stock has more than doubled in the last two decades, from 17 percent in 2000 to 40 percent by the end of 2019.

Some hope has come in the form of new special drawing rights, potentially $500 billion, which the G20 pledged earlier in March to the International Monetary Fund to support poor countries. Adesina said the funds would “go a long way” to stabilizing foreign reserves and the exchange rate, allowing countries to go back to the market.

Adesina said another solution could be to establish an African financial stabilization mechanism where African countries can pool their funds, which would allow countries to have “endogenous” fiscal and monetary policies to ensure that you deal with “the cause of the illness…and not always the symptoms.”

Both speakers strongly favored beefing up what Adesina called Africa’s “healthcare defence.”

“Investing in quality healthcare infrastructure is so important. We are going to be investing in this… and the private sector has to play a big role,” Adesina said.

Adesina called for “vaccine justice”, pointing out that so far, only one percent of the continent’s population had received delivery of vaccines – a key part of the continent’s health and economic response, as the African Economic Outlook report also points out.

The African Economic Outlook is the African Development Bank’s flagship annual publication. It provides economic data as well as analysis and recommendations for the continent’s economies. Each edition focuses on a contemporary theme.

The 2021 edition of the African Economic Outlook estimates that Africa’s GDP contracted 2.1 percent in 2020, the continent’s first recession in half a century. GDP is projected to grow by 3.4 percent in 2021.

Regarding debt, the report estimates that African governments need additional gross financing of about $154 billion in 2020/21 to respond to the Covid-19 crisis.

Find the full report here.

*AfDB

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Rwanda:Paul Rusesabagina says he won’t appear before court again For Fair Trial Concerns
March 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Because I was denied basic rights to fair trial, I would declare that I don’t expect justice in this court, I want to tell court that this is my last time appearing in court,” Rusesabagina told the court

Terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina on Friday told the High Court for International and Cross Border Crimes that he does not expect fair trial and thus he meant not to appear before the court again.

Rusesabagina alleged that he was denied basic rights to the lawyers of his choosing and even when he got local layers, the court denied him enough time to study his ‘Huge dossier’ among other allegations.
“Because I was denied basic rights to fair trial, I would declare that I don’t expect justice in this court, I want to tell court that this is my last time appearing in court,” Rusesabagina told the court before his judge could echo the same.

Judge instructs the registrar to put Rusesabagina’s statement on record.

He sought at least six months to go through the dossier together with lawyers before the trial could resume.

Rusasabagina is accused of terror related crimes. He is being tried in the Capital City of Kigali along with 20 other suspects all members MRCD outfit that formed FLN army wing.

Through the army wing, prosecution in Rwanda accuse Rusesabagina and co-accused  of having carried out attacks in Rwanda’s Southern Province and killed nine people in different incidences.

The trial started early in February in Kigali by the High Court for International and Cross Border Crimes that normally sits in Nyanza district in Southern Province.

The move to relocate the court was to get bigger space to allow more people participate in the hearing while respecting measure aimed at fighting COVID-19 pandemics.

Ever since the trial started, Rusesabagina who is considered the prime suspect took the lion’s share as he dominated the hearing sessions where he first objected the competence by Rwandan courts to try him saying he had a Belgian citizenship who denounced the Rwandan one.

He accused Rwanda of having abducted him and of detaining him illegally and prayed to the court to set him free or transfer him to Belgium to be tried there if it accused him of any crime.

The court ruled against all the accusation and early this week ordered that the trial could resume given that the court that is trying the suspects has the judicial power to try cross border crimes regardless the citizenship of the suspects.

Appearing in court on Friday, Rusesabagina told the court that he was denied his rights to choose own lawyers from abroad (Belgium) and even when he got local ones, he was denied ample time to analyse his dossier for him to get ready for the trial.

Rusesabagena was arrested at the Kigali International Airport when he was allegedly heading to Burundi with support of a certain bishop Constantin Niwemwungere who tricked him to Rwanda only to be arrested.

 It is alleged that Niwemwungere worked with the Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB) on ways to bring Rusesabagina to Rwanda to appear before the court and answer the crimes he allegedly committed.

RIB had discovered that Niwemwungere had close communication with Rusesabagina and interrogated him on the allegations before they agreed to cooperate and bring him to book.

The duo flew to Rwanda early in August 2020 in a private jet and the court heard that Rusesabagina wanted to meet Burundi officials to discuss how Burundi could support terror attacks by FLN.

Niwemwungere said he collaborated with the Investigation Bureau because he is a Christian who could not tolerate the crimes committed by Rusesabagina and the group against innocent people in Rwanda.     

According to legal experts, the court still has the rights to continue hearing without the suspect until it reaches the final decision of either sentencing the suspect or acquitting him in the case of Rusesabagina.

The court adjourned the hearing to March 24 2021.

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Cameroon: “There Is No End to Hostilities in Sight” – Canada House of Commons
March 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Anglophone crisis has led to thousands of persons displaced
Anglophone crisis has led to thousands of persons displaced

The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the House of Commons (Canada) Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (the Subcommittee) has noted that there have been human rights violations in the country perpetrated by the Cameroonian government.

In a press release dated March 1, 2021, the Subcommittee heard from witnesses on 16 February 2021 who gave members an update on the conflict between the Government of Cameroon and the English speaking regions of the Republic of Cameroon that has been escalating since 2016. This was the second meeting of the committee since June 13, 2019.

The Subcommittee concluded that since the root causes of the crisis continue to be ignored, “there is no end to hostilities in sight.”

Tragically, the situation in Cameroon has not improved as noted by Dr Christopher Fomunyoh: “In the North West and South West Regions, it is nothing short of an atrocity situation, consisting of widespread and systematic crimes against humanity against the civilian population and serious violations of international humanitarian law or the laws of war against civilians as protected persons, amounting to war crimes.”

Witnesses during the meeting shared horrific stories of mass killings, forced disappearances, torture, burning and the worst forms of sexual violence. According to the Subcommittee since 2017, more than 700,000 civilians have been forcibly displaced from their homes, with over 60,000 refugees fleeing to neighbouring Nigeria.

The Subcommittee noted that the ongoing violence is having untold suffering on children. The witnesses said not only are they (children) witnessing the violence, but they are subject to it and concerns were raised that they are being recruited as child soldiers. Witnesses reported that between 800,000 and 1.1 million children have been out of school since 2017.

According to the various witnesses, the Anglophone crisis in the North West and South West Regions is a neglected crisis. The witnesses noted that the international community cannot just stand and watch while atrocities are being committed in the country.

 “The Subcommittee shares the view of witnesses that the situation needs urgent attention – with no end to the conflict in sight, Cameroon’s divisions are becoming increasingly entrenched,” the press release said in part.

The Subcommittee shares the view that “the Government of Canada should rally allies through multilateral organizations to call for an immediate ceasefire and end to hostilities. It should mount an international campaign pressuring the Government of Cameroon to allow the establishment of an independent fact-finding commission of inquiry to investigate the conflict, including the atrocities and its root causes. The Government of Canada should also consider, alongside international allies, sanctioning those responsible for atrocities and severe human rights violations through the Justice for Victims of Corrupt Foreign Officials Act.”

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2021 International Women of Courage Award Recipients Announced
March 5, 2021 | 0 Comments
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will Host Virtual Award Ceremony Featuring Special Remarks by the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will Host Virtual Award Ceremony Featuring Special Remarks by the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken to Host Virtual Award Ceremony Featuring Special Remarks by the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden

On Monday, March 8, at 10:00 a.m., Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken will host the annual International Women of Courage (IWOC) Awards virtual ceremony to honor a group of extraordinary women from around the world, including an honorary award for seven women leaders and activists from Afghanistan who were assassinated for their dedication to improving the lives of Afghans. The First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden will deliver remarks to recognize the courageous accomplishments of these women.

Out of an abundance of caution and in order to practice safe social distancing, the ceremony will be pooled press coverage only and will be live streamed on [www.state.gov.]www.state.gov.

Now in its 15th year, the Secretary of State’s IWOC Award recognizes women from around the globe who have demonstrated exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for peace, justice, human rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment – often at great personal risk and sacrifice. From the inception of this award in March 2007 to today, the Department of State has recognized more than 155 awardees from over 75 countries. U.S. diplomatic missions overseas nominate one woman of courage from their respective host countries, and finalists are selected and approved by senior Department officials. Following the virtual IWOC ceremony, the awardees will participate in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) virtual exchange and connect with their American counterparts. The 2021 awardees are:

Belarus – Maria Kalesnikava

Ahead of the August 9, 2020, presidential election, Belarusian women emerged as a dominant political force and driver of societal change in Belarus due in no small part to Maria Kalesnikava. After authorities jailed or exiled the three most popular male opposition candidates, Maria and her partners mounted a historic and sustained challenge to the 26-year rule of Alyaksandr Lukashenka. Maria continues to be the face of the opposition inside Belarus, courageously facing imprisonment in the aftermath of the disputed election. Despite her detention, Maria continues to keep the democratic movement alive inside Belarus and serves as a source of inspiration for all those seeking to win freedom for themselves and their countries.

Burma – Phyoe Phyoe Aung

An emerging leader who is likely to play a role in shaping the country in the coming years, Phyoe Phyoe Aung is the co-founder of the Wings Institute for Reconciliation, an organization that facilitates exchanges between youth of different ethnic and religious groups. Her work promotes peacebuilding and reconciliation and enables a vital dialogue on federalism and transitional justice. She organized a 2015 protest march from Mandalay to Yangon that was violently suppressed by the Myanmar Police Force as it neared Yangon, and she and her husband were arrested and imprisoned. Phyoe Phyoe was released in April 2016 after 13 months as part of a broad pardon of political prisoners facing court trials.

Cameroon – Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe

Maximilienne C. Ngo Mbe has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, courage, and perseverance through adversity in promoting human rights in Cameroon and Central Africa. She has been an outspoken voice among civil society actors, often sacrificing her personal safety, in the push for a peaceful solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon. She has called for an end to human rights abuses committed by separatists and security forces in the Northwest and Southwest regions and by security forces in the Far North. Maximilienne has also spoken out against the increased constraints placed on civil society, journalists, and political opposition by the Government of Cameroon. Her commitment to promoting human rights has been unwavering despite the intimidation, threats, and assault she has endured.

China – Wang Yu

Wang Yu was one of the country’s most prominent human rights lawyers until her arrest and imprisonment following China’s nationwide persecution of lawyers and rights advocates during the “709 crackdown.” She had taken on multiple politically sensitive cases, representing activists, scholars, Falun Gong practitioners, farmers, and petitioners in cases involving a wide array of issues, including women’s and children’s rights, and the rights to religion, freedom of expression, assembly, and association. She is now under an exit ban and has been harassed, threatened, searched, and physically assaulted by police since she began to take on rights abuse cases in 2011.

Colombia – Mayerlis Angarita

Mayerlis Angarita has courageously advanced peace and human rights in Colombia, often at great personal risk. Her work has improved the security, livelihoods, and resilience of countless women leaders, conflict victims, and her community. Finding healing in storytelling after her own mother was forcibly disappeared during Colombia’s conflict, she founded the civil society organization “Narrate to Live,” which now serves over 800 women victims of conflict. Additionally, after the most recent attempt on her life, she engaged the highest levels of the Colombian government to advance a comprehensive action plan to prevent violence against women leaders in her community. Her constructive engagement across 27 government entities, civil society, and the international community has been key to the plan’s success and propelled it to become a model for human rights defender protection throughout Colombia.

Democratic Republic of the Congo – Julienne Lusenge

Since 1978, Julienne Lusenge has been the leading female activist in Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) fighting against gender-based violence (GBV) and the promotion of the rights of women and girls in conflict situations. In 2000, she created Women’s Solidarity for Peace and Integral Development, the DRC’s foremost organization defending the rights of women and girls against impunity for GBV. Julienne’s vocal testimony has contributed to the adoption of international agreements such as UN 1820, which recognizes sexual violence as a weapon of war. Julienne has touched the lives of millions of women across the DRC, harnessing the attention of the international community to acknowledge and act on the extent of sexual violence shattering DRC’s communities.

Guatemala – Judge Erika Aifan

Judge Erika Lorena Aifan is a trial judge working in the High-Risk Criminal Court with responsibility for high-impact crimes. She has presided over high-profile corruption and war atrocity cases, leading to defamation and threats of violence against her. Despite these challenges, Judge Aifan persisted as a Guatemalan judge independent of political influence. She has demonstrated determination and fortitude in upholding the rule of law in Guatemala. Despite the strong opposition she has faced throughout her tenure, Judge Aifan has become an icon in Guatemala in the fight against corruption, efforts to increase transparency, and actions to improve independence in the justice sector.

Iran – Shohreh Bayat

When Shohreh Bayat boarded her flight on her way to the 2020 Women’s Chess World Championship, she had no idea she might be seeing her native Iran for the last time. Shohreh, the first female Category A international chess arbiter in Asia was photographed at the Championship without her hijab, which is compulsory in Iran. Within 24 hours, the Iranian Chess Federation – which Shohreh had previously led – refused to guarantee Shohreh’s safety if she returned to Iran without first apologizing. Fearing for her safety and unwilling to apologize for the incident, Shohreh made the heart-wrenching decision to seek refuge in the UK, leaving her husband – who lacked a UK visa – in Iran. In that moment, Shohreh chose to be a champion for women’s rights rather than be cowed by the Iranian government’s threats.

Nepal – Muskan Khatun

Muskan Khatun has been instrumental in bringing about new legislation criminalizing acid attacks and imposing strong penalties against perpetrators in Nepal. When Muskan was 15, she was critically injured in an acid attack after she rejected a boy’s romantic propositions. With the help of a social worker, Muskan lobbied for stronger legal action against the perpetrators of acid attacks under duress of threats and the strong social stigma associated with acid attack victims. She went before a parliamentary committee, wrote a letter to Nepal’s Prime Minister, and eventually met with him in person, to request a stronger law. Within a year of her attack, Nepal’s President issued an ordinance with harsh penalties for acid attacks and regulations on the sale of acids, a testament to Muskan’s significant advocacy.

Somalia – Zahra Mohamed Ahmad

For more than 20 years, Zahra Mohamed Ahmad has been at the forefront of defending human rights in Somalia, especially for its most vulnerable groups. As an accomplished lawyer, Zahra began providing legal aid, for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) survivors, women on remand status, and women in pre-trial detention. Zahra is the founder of and legal advisor for the Somali Women Development Center, an organization that reports on human rights violations and cases of abuse; supports survivors through legal assistance; established Somalia’s first free hotline service to combat SGBV; and operates one-stop centers for SGBV survivors, mobile legal clinics, family care centers, safe spaces for women and girls, and community child protection centers for internally displaced children.

Spain – Sister Alicia Vacas Moro

A registered nurse, Sister Alicia Vacas Moro ran a medical clinic in Egypt for eight years, helping 150 low income patients a day treat their maladies. She then moved to the biblical town of Bethany to help an impoverished Bedouin community, especially women and children. She set up training programs for women that provided them with previously unavailable economic opportunities, and established kindergartens in Bedouin camps, providing an educational foundation for children. In an environment shaped by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Sister Alicia also assisted traumatized refugees and asylum seekers, a job she continues to perform on a larger scale in her current role as the regional coordinator for the Comboni Sisters in the Middle East. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck northern Italy, she flew to Italy to assist and treat fellow sister nuns, undeterred by extreme danger to herself.

Sri Lanka – Ranitha Gnanarajah

Ranitha Gnanarajah, a lawyer, continues to fight for and defend the rights of the marginalized and vulnerable communities in the country, despite threats and challenges by the state. Ranitha has dedicated her career to accountability and justice for victims of enforced disappearances and prisoners detained often for years without charge under Sri Lanka’s Prevention of Terrorism Act by providing free legal aid and related services. As an individual personally affected by the conflict and based on her extensive experience working with victims and their families, Ranitha has demonstrated tremendous passion and dedication to justice and accountability, especially for Sri Lanka’s most vulnerable populations.

Turkey – Canan Gullu

Canan Gullu has been an activist and organizer for 31 years and is the president of the Turkish Federation of Women’s Associations, an umbrella organization of women’s NGOs; she leads186 branches and 52,500 members. Canan has been a steadfast champion of gender equality, working to promote women’s participation in governance, labor force, and education. In 2007, the Turkish Federation of Women Associations established the first emergency hotline for victims of violence in Turkey, which continues its operations. Over the past two years, Canan launched an education and advocacy campaign focused on failures in the Turkish government’s implementation since 2012 of the Istanbul Convention, the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. Canan’s activism has been critical to educating the public about the convention and reinforcing the need to combat gender-based violence, which quelled some politicians’ calls for Turkey’s withdrawal.

Venezuela – Ana Rosario Contreras

As president of the Caracas Nurses’ Association, Ana Rosario Contreras has been on the front lines in the fight for the rights of healthcare professionals, patients, and labor unions. Contreras’ fierce activism has generated widespread support from the Venezuelan people and is at the center of the civil-political movement pushing for democratic change. In a climate where the government routinely jails, tortures, harasses, threatens, or restricts the movement of its opponents, Contreras defends citizens’ rights at great personal risk. She has advocated for labor rights and has worked tirelessly to ensure that healthcare workers could receive a subsidy through Interim President Juan Guido’s Health Heroes program.

In addition to the individual IWOC awards that will be presented on March 8, Secretary Blinken will also present an honorary IWOC award to a group of seven Afghan women who were assassinated in 2020 while serving their communities during a pivotal moment in Afghanistan’s history. These tragic murders underscore the alarming trend of increased targeting of women in Afghanistan and the United States condemns these acts of violence.

· Fatema Natasha Khalil, an official with the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission who was killed, along with her driver, in June 2020 by an IED in Kabul, on her way to her office.

· General Sharmila Frough, the head of the Gender Unit in the National Directorate of Security (NDS) was one of the longest-serving female NDS officers, having served as chief of the anti-kidnapping division and working undercover combating criminal networks. General Frough was assassinated in an IED explosion targeting her vehicle in March 2020 in Kabul.

· Maryam Noorzad, a midwife who served remote locations in Wardak and Bamyan provinces before working for Médecins Sans Frontières Kabul PD13 hospital. On May 12, 2020, three gunmen attacked the maternity ward of the hospital, but Maryam refused to leave her patient, who was in labor. Maryam, her patient, and the newborn baby were killed in the delivery suite.

· Fatima Rajabi, a 23-year-old police officer originally from Ghazni province and a member of the anti-narcotics division. She was traveling to her home village in Jaghori district in a civilian minibus in July 2020 when the Taliban stopped the vehicle and took her captive. Two weeks later, the Taliban killed her and sent her remains, which had gunshot wounds and signs of torture, to her family.

· Freshta, daughter of Amir Mohamed, a 35-year-old prison guard with the Office of Prison Administration. She was walking from her residence in Kandahar City to a taxi on her way to work when she was murdered by an unknown gunman on October 25, 2020.

· Malalai Maiwand, a reporter at Enikas Radio and TV, was shot and killed, along with her driver, by a gunman on December 10, 2020, in an attack on her vehicle in Jalalabad. Malalai was not the first in her family to be targeted. Five years earlier, her mother, an activist, was also killed by unknown gunmen.

· Freshta Kohistani, a 29-year-old women’s rights and democracy activist, was assassinated by unknown gunmen near her home in Kapsia province on December 24, 2020. Kohistani regularly organized events advocating for women’s rights in Afghanistan and used social media as a platform for her messaging.

*State Department

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Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO Appointment:Nigeria currently undergoing a new wave of resurgence, limelight internationally — Amb Olumoko
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

Says:

* President Buhari should take advantage of the goodwill President Biden have to combating insurgency effectively.

* It’s sad how the political classes continue to dump political appointees on the Foreign Service.

* Let’s revert to heydays; let fewer political appointees head important but not strategic posts.

By Olayinka Ajayi

Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand
Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand

Ambassador Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand with current accreditation to Myanmar. In this interview, Amb. Olumoko decried the excessive appointment of non-career Ambassadors over trained Ambassadors. He urged the government to revert to heydays by allowing less political appointees head important but not strategic posts among other issues. Excerpts:    

What is your view on America’s new policy on LBGT and pushing to other countries like Nigeria for bilateral relations?

 It is within the prerogative of the Biden administration to articulate whatever social policies that are in tandem with the Democrats’/Liberal philosophy in the USA. However, Biden should not try to force or coral any other country that does not share the same outlook to follow the same doctrine. Biden should respect the different cultural, religious and social systems of other countries and not willy-nilly tie them to US preferences.

To try to sanction Nigeria over her policy on LGBT will be wrong-headed and Nigeria will resist it to the hilt as same sex marriage and other LGBT peculiarities are anathema to the basic grains and mores of the Nigerian society. It will be a wrong start and will definitely strain US/NIGERIA relations that otherwise promise to be resurgent and robust under a Biden administration.

On Okonjo-Iweala election as DG of WTO

Her recent confirmation is not only a pride to Nigeria and Africa but also to womanhood. Ngozi, in terms of intellect, sagacity and bravura, is an amazon of a lady who can stand her own any day and anywhere has been so amply demonstrated in the course of her high wire campaigns and the subsequent global “politicking” that only delayed her confirmation. It’s impossible to cover a shining star!

This brings up an important issue. Nigeria should always put her best foot forward. If she puts on her best candidates she’ll always excel. Just imagine if Nigeria had not wisely substituted her original candidate for this position and fielded a more formidable and better qualified Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala? Nigeria is currently undergoing a new wave of resurgence and limelight internationally because she’s fielding her “first teams” and its yielding results. A few examples will suffice: Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General(UN D/SG), Akinwunmi Adesina at the African Development Bank(AfDB), Benedict Oramah at the African Export Import Bank(Afreximbank)  Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political, Peace and Security and now Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the WTO!

As for the performance of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, there’s no doubt she’ll acquit herself creditably in her new position. She comes well prepared, intellectually and with very good experience both internationally and nationally being twice Nigeria’s Finance Minister.

Both in her campaign debates and acceptance speech, she has set the tone and clearly outlines her priorities at WTO. Given her track records, I have no doubts at all that Ngozi will do impressively well and make Nigeria exceedingly proud that come 2025 when her current term ends, she’ll be re-elected for a second term. Mark my words!

But some are of the view that Joe Biden’s administration support for Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO election could give a soft landing for reconsideration of LGBT in Nigeria?

Such perception is puerile, and it underestimates the quality of Nigeria’s foreign policy decision makers and Nigeria’s stature in the comity of nations.

Agreed, Nigeria may have its internal problems, but she cannot be taken for suckers by the US. Support for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for soft landing for reconsideration of LGBT?

As I already stated the issue of LGTB is so basic and fundamental and an anathema to the two major religions systems in Nigeria that it’s laughable that a go-ahead by the US for Ngozi is in exchange for Nigeria softening its LGBT stance!

Nigeria refusing LGBT, how do we strengthen the US, Nigeria bilateral relations stronger than the Trump administration?

LGBT should be the least of US interests in Nigeria. Even in the US what proportion of the US takes the issue as fundamental? Only a minority. So, why do we carry it over our heads as if the whole heaven is coming down? We should be careful of people with religious agenda in Nigeria.

There are more important areas for US/Nigeria relations such as security, military cooperation, cooperation in fending off Boko Haram,  kidnapping and pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, immigration, economic(investments, renewal of AGOA, cooperation in revamping  the power sector, cooperation in the areas of 21st century digital and knowledge based economy etc), strengthening the US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission.

On Insurgency

In terms of Nigeria/US cooperation in fighting insurgency, I think Nigeria should take this aspect extremely seriously because insurgency and general insecurity are posing existential danger not only to Nigerians but to Nigeria herself as a corporate entity.

Nigeria should enter into a robust, focused and transparent collaboration with the USA in securing the hardware, logistics support, maintenance and training support to confront decisively this menace. 

Under the Trump administration, Nigeria entered into an agreement to buy about 12 “Tucano” attack aircrafts from the US. President Buhari should take advantage of the goodwill President Biden seems to have, presently, for Nigeria and ensure he firmly secure this deal and get these aircrafts delivered without any further delay with a view to combating the insurgency effectively. I will also urge the Nigerian government to also explore ways of securing drones from the US, for instance, to track the Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region, which have been identified as havens for the terrorists and effectively neutralize them.

All these efforts would not only deal decisively with the Boko Haram insurgency internally, but also deal a devastating blow to key ISIS and ISWAP cells operating in the region. 

From the apparent friendly disposition of President Joe Biden towards Nigeria about four Nigerian-Americans have been proposed for important positions, including cabinet Nigeria should seize this opportunity and develop a close rapport with President Biden’s administration. This is rather different from the Trump administration that was negative towards Africa and referred to African countries as “shitholes”!

How would you describe the proposed appointments of retired Service chiefs as non career Ambassadors?

 It is extremely saddening that in Nigeria, in particular, the political classes continue to dump political appointees on the Foreign Service. These political appointees are often offered plum diplomatic postings  as Ambassadors at the expense of Career Officers, who through their entire career, have been professionally trained with a view to attaining the rank of Ambassador as the nadir of their careers.

A couple of months ago, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed initially 53 Non-Career Ambassadors to only 40 Career Ambassadors. The sadder aspect is that about a quarter of these Career Ambassadors are being sent out as Deputies to political appointees!

Now, with the subsequent appointments of the 5 ex-service chiefs as Ambassadors, the proportion of political appointees to the professionals was 58 to 40.It was even worse under OBJ’s first term, when the proportion was 80:20!

For me, whether the appointment of the five ex-service chiefs as Ambassadors was justified or not, is not the issue. I perceive it within the larger context of using the Diplomatic Service as a political dumping ground at the detriment of the Foreign Service, not only in terms of denial of opportunities for deserving Career Officers but also in terms of quality of representation. Let me be clear. Agreed, many countries have political appointees as Ambassadors, but they appoint just a handful. In fact, some countries, such as Italy do not have political appointees as Ambassadors at all!

It’s also my view that Nigeria’s key Missions like in the UK, USA, France, Russia and China should be manned by Career Ambassadors. It would be recalled that in the golden years of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, our key Missions were headed by top notch Career Ambassadors like Ambs. Olu Sanu, Olujimi Jolaoso and Ignatius Olisemeka at different times Ambassadors respectively (Washington, DC), Aminu Sanusi(Peking, China) George Dove-Edwin(London, UK), Hamzat Ahmadu(Moscow, USSR) and P.L Udoh(Paris, France).

We should revert to those heydays and let fewer political appointees head important but not strategic posts. All these key posts, especially Washington and London have consistently been headed by political appointees whose performances have often been subpar!


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Cameroon: Canada Should Adopt Targeted Sanctions against Perpetrators of Mass Killings – Christopher Fomunyoh
February 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Canada needs to leverage its position in bringing about a solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis, says Dr Fomunyoh
Canada needs to leverage its position in bringing about a solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis, says Dr Fomunyoh

Over the years the relics of the federation have been wiped out and the identity of the people of Southern Cameroon diluted by the regime of President Biya, who has been in power for more than 38 years. In the wake of these atrocities, neglect and assimilation, the people of former British Southern Cameroon are today demanding a return to the status quo or a separation.

Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs speaking recently on Canada’s Sub-Committee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development said Canada needs to leverage its position in bringing about a solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis.

One of such actions that can be undertaken by Canada according to the political scientist is that the country should adopt targeted sanctions against perpetrators of mass killings, torture and other atrocities being carried out by individuals.

“Sanctions should be placed. It sends a strong signal that the world is watching and impunity will not be accepted,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Adjunct Faculty at the African Center for Strategic Studies stated.

“Canada should use its position on the World Bank, IMF, and NATO to ensure that resources granted to Cameroon are not diverted to fight a war against its people. Canada should also call for an immediate ceasefire and a public commitment (both the Cameroon government and the non-state armed groups) to negotiation with Canada assuming the role of third party negotiator. 

Canada is known as a big advocate in the respect for Human Rights and equality but the country like other major world powers like USA, Britain, France and international organizations have all ended in speech making with no meaningful action taken to bring both the state and the armed groups on the dialogue table.

The country has a unique position to end the crisis as it is with Cameroon the only two countries that have a sit at both the Commonwealth and Francophonie.

 “There has been a bad faith of the Francophone majority to assimilate the Anglophone minority into the Francophone majority. Since 1969 Cameroon has had just two presidents, all Francophone and there has been dissatisfaction on the part of Anglophone,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, adjunct professor of African politics and government at Georgetown University said in his opening remarks at the subcommittee.

The ongoing crisis in the North West and South West Regions has led tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of shelter. Some have migrated to other safe areas in the country; others are in the bushes, while some have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.

Both government and separatist fighters have been accused of committing gross human rights violations against civilians. Children, mothers, girls have faced the brunt of the crisis with the young girls raped and others have gone into prostitution. The actual data in Cameroon on the number of those killed, displaced cannot be ascertained as limited materials are available.

“Canada should lead calls for a fact-finding mission to let the world know some specific data on the crisis such as lives lost; those in detention, and others. There is a lot of propaganda going on now as no one opens up to the crimes that they have committed,” Dr Fomunyoh said.

“In 2020, the UN SG called for a ceasefire as a result of the COVID-19. If nothing is done to bring about a ceasefire, the conflict might explode looking at the second wave of the pandemic.

The USC Clinic has documented serious violations that are ongoing in Cameroon. It is an atrocious act with some analysts warning of an impending genocide in the country.

“Cameroon is facing a humanitarian catastrophe in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rampant killings are taking place, rape and other violence meted on the population,” Hannah Garry, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of International Human Rights Clinic, Gould School of Law said.

“The violence must stop and for years now, the international community has taken limited actions to the crisis. There needs to be the accountability with targeted sanctions brought to persons fuelling the crisis. Canada should act as a third party in bringing the two sides to the dialogue table.”

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Rep. Bass Introduces Legislation To Increase Diversity Within State Department
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), is Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human rights
Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), is Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human rights

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human rights, re-introduced the Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 to ensure that the U.S. Foreign Service reflects the rich composition of the American citizenry. The legislation establishes a program to identify, attract and welcome diverse mid-career professionals into the Foreign Service.

During the 116th Congress, the Represent America Abroad Act in 2020 received bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by 117 Members of Congress. The bill was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a unanimous voice vote last year.

“The Biden administration’s intentional push to put racial equity and diversity at the center of every facet of their policy agenda is absolutely crucial to the success of their initiatives,” said Congressmember Bass. “This bill is consistent with that effort. To have a successful foreign policy, our foreign service must look like America. The Foreign Service Officer workforce must mirror our commitment to diversity and inclusion in order to effectively advance American values on the world stage. For years, the State Department has expressed a commitment to building a workforce in that vision. I look forward to working with both the State Department and my colleagues here in Congress to increase the diversity at the mid-career and senior levels among our diplomatic corps.”

The Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 would establish a program known as the “Represent America Abroad Mid-career Foreign Service Entry Program”. The program is to be created no later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of the bill with the mission of ensuring that our country’s diplomatic workforce reflects the diverse composition of the United States.

Last year, the Government Accountability Office released a report suggesting that the State Department look at the longstanding issues contributing to its diversity problems and do a better job of addressing barriers to equal opportunity in its workforce. In December, Congressmember Bass called for the passage of this bill in an op-ed published by Foreign Policy. She wrote, in part:

“..,passing this bill is a vital step for building diversity, restoring the career ranks, and enabling better U.S. diplomacy. And the face America presents abroad—including, crucially, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—will at last begin to look more like the country we actually are.”

Read the full bill here.

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Ten shortlisted for Kenya’s Chief Justice post
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Justice William Ouko is one of the shortlisted candidates
Justice William Ouko is one of the shortlisted candidates

Kenya’s Judicial Service Commission (JSC) has invited the public to give their views on ten candidates shortlisted for Chief Justice (CJ).

The commission, which is mandated to recruit a CJ and all judicial officials, said Kenyans have, up to March 3, 2021, to submit their views ahead of the candidates’ interviews in April.

Those shortlisted are Justice Said Chitembwe, Prof Patricia Mbote, Justice Martha Koome, Justice Marete Njagi, Philip Murgor, Justice Nduma Nderi, Fred Ngatia, Justice William Ouko, Dr. Wekesa Moni, and Alice Yano.

According to the JSC, nine others will also be interviewed for the position.

Thirteen applicants had sent their applications, and only ten were shortlisted for the Supreme Court judge’s position.

The post fell vacant following the retirement of the former officeholder Justice David Maraga.

Maraga retired early this year after turning 70 under Article 167(1) and 167(2) of the Constitution of Kenya.

The act states that an individual shall retire from the Office of the Chief Justice after serving for ten years or reaching 70, whichever comes first.

He was appointed Kenya’s 16th Chief Justice following the voluntary early retirement by his predecessor Dr. Willy Mutunga in 2016.

JSC is also seeking to fill the Supreme Court of Kenya (SCOK) left by Justice Jackton Ojwang.

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Sierra Leone: Anti-Corruption Crusade Gathers Steam Under Kaifala
February 15, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Koroma

We follow the law and the evidence, says Kaifala in dismissing claims that the ACC may be on a witch hunt of Officials of the previous administration
We follow the law and the evidence, says Kaifala in dismissing claims that the ACC may be on a witch hunt of Officials of the previous administration

Appointed in June 2018 by President Julius Maada Bio to head of the country’s Anti-Corruption Commission -ACC, Francis Ben Kaifala has achieved the feat of helping Sierra Leone shed the corruption prone image it had before he took office.

Young, bold, visionary, tenacious, and result oriented, Kaifala who left a flourishing private practice to lead his country’s crusade against corruption is yielding dividends with reports from leading international agencies like Afro Barometer, and Transparency International taking note. Last year, the efforts of Kaifala and his team swelled the public coffers with circa 10 billion Leones recuperated from people guilty of pilfering the national purse.

In an exclusive interview with PAV, Kaifala rubbishes claims that the corruption crusade has unfairly targeted officials of the previous administration. We follow the law and the evidence, says Kaifala, citing examples of officials in the current administration who have been persecuted for corruption.

Much work still has to be done to further weed out corruption, but the progress registered since he took office are indicative of the positive results that will continue to follow hard work, Kaifala said as he expressed optimism for the future.

We want to wish you happy new year and thank you very much for granting us this interview. May we start with a review of how last year went for the Anti-Corruption Commission, what worked well and what didn’t work well?

Francis Ben Kaifala : It was a great year , we did a lot of work in terms of enforcement, in terms of prosecution , a lot of prevention , we did engage in lots of massive public education and as you can see from the index we , those who usually check our work can confirm we did very well and that was the year we scored the highest in the Millennium Challenge Corporation Score card , we moved into 81% , Transparency International as well,  we moved by two points , we recovered more money last year , we gave the President, we recovered  over 10 Billion Leones  in a single year from the corrupt and we gave a cheque of 8 billion Leones to the president . Basically, it was a great for the fight against corruption.

 You have been heading of the ACC for two years now, in what shape did you meet the office and the overall state of corruption in Sierra Leone, and what are some of the changes that have taken place under your leadership?

Francis Ben Kaifala : Well corruption was very prevalent at the time I came in , as  you know Afro Barometer estimated that in 2015 -2017 that corruption was 70%, the same institution has now measured and says corruption prevalence has dropped by 40% so there is a huge 30% difference that has been  made within  this period of time and generally I think there is a lot  more awareness of the fight against corruption and in fact when Centre for Accountability and Rule of Law , the PFM Consortium did a survey recently compared to previous years, corruption perception and confidence of the citizens in the ACC to fight corruption was low as 19% now it is as high as  92%, so that is  a huge difference. I believe that we are making a difference.

Under the astute leadership of Francis Ben Kaifala, the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone is yielding tangible results
Under the astute leadership of Francis Ben Kaifala, the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone is yielding tangible results

 There have been several high-profile cases involving members of the previous administration of President Ernest Koroma, what is your response to critics who say these smacks of a political witch hunt?

Francis Ben Kaifala: Well, I don’t know what they mean by witch hunt. I don’t understand. We are operating within a toxic political environment and people used this thing to cover up their actions, so a man is given money to build a bridge, the bridge is not there, the money is not in the account and you called him to say where is the money and he says is witch hunt what does that mean? We are doing our job, and isolating ourselves from these kinds of cynical previews; we accept good criticisms it helps us do our work, some of it is just cynicism and we know the difference but the real name of the game is focus, is to continue what we are doing as long as we are producing the result for the country and that’s the most important thing and that’s what we are focused on.

There was a situation where former President Koroma was invited by your office, so how has that investigation been and any update?

Francis Ben Kaifala: Yeah, we have taken a statement from him, that investigation is under review now, we have taken all the issues into consideration and we will get back to the public on the details of that investigation.

How independent is the ACC in making decisions on cases it seeks to pursue as opposed to following instructions from President Maada Bio on who should be investigated?

Francis Ben Kaifala: The ACC is very autonomous, I don’t believe in independence, independence means we are like a republic on our own. we are not, we are working within the system and we consult, we give reports to the President on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone. We are accountable to parliament, there are many things. so, I don’t like to use the word independent, I prefer to use autonomy and we are completely autonomous, that means we can do our day-to-day activities without some body calling and directing us what to do, without the State House telling us who to arrest, to prosecute and telling us what the outcome should be. So, I can tell you we are very autonomous.

In a situation where the present administration officials are found guilty of corruption, some people wonder whether the ACC would take action.

Francis Ben Kaifala : But we are already prosecuting people in the current administration, the director and other staffs in the Ministry of Information who took Commissions of Inquiry money, were prosecuted in this current administration, Dr. Sarah Finda  Bendu was head of the Sierra Leone Maritime Administration in this current administration , she is been prosecuted in court , we also entered into settlement with her and we are recovering 500 million Leones from her , she has already paid over 300 million Leones , the investigations we are doing at EDSA is not past administration , the investigations  that we have been doing at the Maritime Administration is not past administration , the investigations we are doing at State House, the former State Chief of Protocol who is  investigated was not of the former administration. So, I don’t know what they mean by the current administration, but I can tell you that we are doing more now with the current administration than any other administration. Of course, we will always ask past officials to account because many were corrupt, and we have recovered billions from them, we have prosecuted many, some are still standing trial, the former vice president is standing trial; it is just part of the work, but really, we do not differentiate between past and present we just do our job, we follow the evidence, we follow what information we have.

 Your job is very difficult; may we know some of the challenges that you have faced while running the ACC?

Francis Ben Kaifala : The resources, we don’t have resources, the entire office is running on a current expenditure of about 800,000 United State Dollars not even up to a million dollar for the year, we don’t have capital expenditure, we cannot buy cars, we cannot buy laptops, we cannot buy anything that is capital in nature.  The total allocation to the place  is so small even our  staff costs we have no room for expansion because the Ministry of Finance is limiting what we can do, so we have logistical constraints .Beyond that, we are also operating within a very difficult political system,  very cynical system where sometimes the people for one reason or the other prefer to be against us or in favour of us  but  we are focused on our work as always but there are many challenges everywhere , we have challenges with the judiciary , it has been difficult for them to impose custodial sentences, but recently we have had some encouraging signs in that regard with the court of appeal confirming the custodial sentences  impose on those who took the Commissions of Inquiry money so we are hopeful that things are going to move in a better trajectory with the judiciary, but generally our prosecutions are very good. We are having a very high rate of conviction we just want the punishment to be much more severe than they have been doing. Generally, it is more about logistics, it is about resources and personnel.

 Prior to taking over the job, you were a successful Lawyer, what motivated you to leave your private practice to take the ACC job?

Francis Ben Kaifala: To serve my country. Everybody deserves that on your CV, no matter what you do in private service if I was not here, we will not be talking today about the successes we are scoring in the fight against corruption. So, I saw it as an opportunity because as you know I was very active speaking against the injustices and wrongs in the society, corruption in the society and  I was given the opportunity by the President to lead that fight, and that is why I am here.

Presenting a check to President Bio. Under the eadership of Kaifala, the ACC has recovered millions of dollars in looted funds.
Presenting a check to President Bio. Under the eadership of Kaifala, the ACC has recovered millions of dollars in looted funds.

With you background in Law and the experience you have garnered as head of the AAC, what other policy recommendations or framework is needed to strengthen the fight against corruption in Sierra Leone?

Francis Ben Kaifala: I think that more resources need to be allocated to the fight against corruption, we need to have lot more expansion, the entire anti -corruption Commission only has 200 staff. That is not enough to police the entire country when it comes to the fight against corruption. So more needs to be done to strengthened our hand not just in terms of the laws but to make sure that we have the resources to bring more personnel on board and apart from that we have the logistics, the right equipment to deploy, recording devices, televising devices. Those are all things that need to be improve if we are to move things forward.

For 2021, what should Sierra Leonians expect from Francis Ben Kaifala and the ACC and any last word as we wrap up this interview?

Francis Ben Kaifala :  2021, we will continue doing it like never before, continue with massive, massive public education, massive, massive prevention drive, continue with more investigations, continue with more prosecutions and generally continue to launder the image of the country to show that we are ready for business and we are a country of people who are capable of looking after ourselves without stealing from ourselves.

*Culled from February Issue of PAV Magazine

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South Africa to join Mozambique in fight against terrorists attacks
February 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor

South Africa is already “assisting” Mozambique in the fight against the Islamic State-linked terrorists attacks  in Cabo Delgado, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said, but could not give details as to how.

Pandor told the Daily Maverick her government had been engaging with Portugal, which was “very active” in Mozambique and already had “soldiers, feet on the ground. They want us to collaborate… they would like SADC [the Southern African Development Community] to play a key role,” she said. SADC countries had the capacity to do that, she added.

However, before South Africa could help, it first needed to understand what Mozambique wanted, whether helicopters, boats or training, Pandor added. “It’s a puzzle for us. Why they don’t actually tell us what it is they need,” she said. 

Meanwhile, the Mozambican military has met less than half of its target for conscription in Cabo Delgado province, which an official has blamed on the displacement of people due to the terrorists attacks.

There have been 6,294 young people conscripted out of an expected 14,952 with only two weeks left for the end of the conscription process that started on 4 January 2021. Foncina Búfalo, provincial delegate for the military recruitment and mobilisation centre, said that it was related to people abandoning their homes in the districts of Mocímboa da Praia, Muidumbe, Quissanga and Macomia, and the delay in resuming classes, as many young people were found by the military in schools.

Búfalo said that registration brigades had been sent to the accommodation centres for refugees, but even so there were difficulties in registering young people, because they said they had lost their documents when fleeing from terrorists and the system did not allow registration without ID.

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African Development Bank President says vaccines and debt relief will be key to Africa’s recovery from COVID-19
February 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

“The world must not short-change Africa on access to vaccines.” – President Adesina

The President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, has called for fair access to COVID-19 vaccines for Africans and said debt relief would help African economies recover faster and better from the pandemic.

Speaking on 8 February at a virtual event held in his honour as the outgoing African of the Year of African Leadership Magazine, the Bank President warned that so long as the coronavirus was unchecked in any part of the world, no one would be safe.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel – it just happens to be a very long tunnel. I am very positive that African economies will bounce back over the next two years, but the speed of recovery will depend on ensuring that Africa gets enough vaccines for its population,” Adesina said.

“The world must not short-change Africa on access to vaccines,” he added.

He also said significant debt relief would be key to accelerating African economies’ recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.

“To recover faster, Africa will need significant debt forgiveness from bilateral and official creditors,” he said during the virtual event attended by Douye Diri, the Governor of the Nigerian state of Bayelsa, and Benoy Berry, Chairman of Contec Global Worldwide.

Adesina added: “While developed countries have been spending trillions of dollars for fiscal stimulus, Africa does not have such resources. The payment for vaccines is already adding to the already high debt burden.”

A highlight of the conversation was Adesina’s induction into the magazine’s African Leadership Hall of Fame for “raising the performance bar” in Africa.

African Leadership Magazine Chairman Ken Giami said the African Development Bank had scored some outstanding achievements in 2020 under President Adesina and had “infected” Africa with optimism.

Giami said: “ALM feels very proud of the President’s contribution as he has raised the performance bar for future African of the Year winners. Indeed, his award was a call for greater service to the people, especially at a time when Africa needed true leadership.”

Adesina vowed that the African Development Bank, in collaboration with its partners, would continue to lead Africa’s recovery and development after the pandemic, with a focus on youth, women and healthcare.

“Together, we will create new opportunities for African youth and trigger a youth-based wealth system for Africa. Together, we will ensure that we deliver financing for African women,” he said in his concluding remarks.

He stressed: “Together, we will support Africa to build world-class, quality healthcare infrastructure, while ensuring also that the continent builds its pharmaceutical and vaccine industrial production.”

African leaders who have previously won the African Leadership Magazine African of the Year award include former Liberian President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (2011); Sudanese businessman Mo Ibrahim (2012); former Vice President of Nigeria Atiku Abubakar (2013); former President of Tanzania Jakaya Kikwete (2014); Tanzanian businessman and philanthropist Mo Dewji (2016); and President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame (2017).

*AfDB

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Kenyans urged to shun politicians fanning flames of violence
February 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Bishop Dr. Nancy Kinuthia of Glorious Family Church Nakuru
Bishop Dr. Nancy Kinuthia of Glorious Family Church Nakuru

A section of church leaders has called on Kenyans to reject politicians who instigate violence.

Speaking in Kenya’s Nakuru town, the leaders went ahead and urged the youths to avoid being used to cause chaos by reporting those giving them handouts to relevant authorities.

“As leaders, we must stop using the youths to cause chaos for political reasons. We want to unite and live peacefully as Kenyans in any part of this country,” said Bishop Dr. Nancy Kinuthia of Glorious Family Church Nakuru

Kenyans were further asked to elect only leaders who offer solutions to their problems and ignore those with selfish motives.

The men in clothes lamented over the recent reported political chaos, saying they risk evoking 2007 memories when the country plunged into post-election violence.

They appealed to the government to take stern action against politicians inciting people ahead of the 2022 polls.

Their request comes in less than one week after the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), an agency mandated to address and reduce inter-ethnic conflicts, put politicians fanning violence on notice.

NCIC Chairperson Reverend Samuel Kobia said the agency would be publishing the names of persons or institutions whose words or conduct undermine peace in the country in a naming and shaming list.

Kobia said any politician whose name will appear in the list of shame three times would be barred from seeking an elective post.

“If a politician or any other Kenyan has appeared on the list of shame more than three times, he or she will be promoted to the wall of shame. We are working with other agencies to ensure they do not hold any political office ever,” he said.

The NCIC said it would be monitoring activities and utterances of politicians, and anyone who will cause political, ethnic unrest will be dealt with according to the law.

“The intolerance that we have witnessed in the recent weeks and months are only symptomatic of what is likely to happen and even to get worse if it is not dealt with urgently. We need to deal with this interference because we know it is what led us to 2007/2008 post-election violence,” said Kobia.

Recently, unruly goons disrupted rallies held by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and the deputy president William Ruto      Kiambu’s Githurai market and Nairobi’s market, respectively.

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Cameroon Needs a Holistic Solution for the Crisis – Experts Say at Nkafu Public Dialogue
February 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The Nkafu Policy Institute has had a series of public dialogues geared towards solving the Anglophone crisis
The Nkafu Policy Institute has had a series of public dialogues geared towards solving the Anglophone crisis

Experts have noted that the crisis ensuing in the country’s two English-speaking Regions can be solved if all parties (government, separatists, federalists and others) to the conflict sit together and talk.

The 90-minute webinar session organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute – a think tank at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation and moderated by Mr Francis Tazoacha had as theme “Can the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon be solved through a State-Centric Approach?”

For the past four years, the two English-speaking regions have been witnessing violence. This has led to thousands of being killed, maimed, kidnapped for ransom and others are now leaving as refugees in neighbouring Nigeria.

Despite attempts made by the government to resolve the on-going armed conflict, the guns have still not been silenced.  The situation has even taken a critical twist with the mass killings of separatists by the Cameroonian military and counter killings with unarmed civilians, particularly women and children bearing the brunt of the price.

Speaking on the Anglophone Question and the Form of the State in the History of Cameroon, Mr Ndifor Richard Mandjong, Educator/Community Organizer/ Advocate for Quality Equitable Education for all, on the issue of the Anglophone crisis said it is embedded in the history of Cameroon. “We will need to address this by going back into the basic facts, look at them, see where we went wrong and try to correct them,” He said.

Prof Ngouyamsa Mefire, Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Ngaoundere, speaking on the topic Decentralized unitary state, federalism or secession? said the present crisis has with it three groups who are doing everything possible to defend their standpoints. These groups include; the decentralized-unitary state, federalism and secession. 

“It will be essential if these groups sit together and bring out decisions agreed together. We should focus on and work to better the form of the constitution, notably the decentralized-unitary state not because it is the best to save the present situation in the North West and South West Regions but going back to history will not favour us,” He said.

The decentralized form of state can help if and only if it is appropriately, honestly and equitably implemented.  It is the form that will reconcile all the diverse positions and address the root causes of the present problem.

With the deepening of the crisis, the government has also made several peaceful concessions and top-down institutional responses, including the Major National Dialogue convened by the President and chaired by Prime Minister Chief Dr Dion Ngute, from September 30 to October 4, 2019.

On the special status that has been accorded to the two English-speaking regions of the country, Prof Ngouyamsa thinks that the special status could have been the solution if two major mistakes were not done. These mistakes stem from the origin of the status (came out due to the Major National Dialogue which brought together top-rank citizens only) and content (the council has but deliberative powers and cannot make laws).

Responding to the question can the state alone solve the crisis? Mrs Arrey Hernica Besong, PhD candidate, Program director CHAMEG said the state alone cannot solve the Anglophone crisis, and that there is need for other stakeholders to join in the peace process.

Experts share their opinions on the question Can the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon be solved through a State-Centric Approach
Experts share their opinions on the question Can the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon be solved through a State-Centric Approach

“If those from the grassroots can bring up possible solution or local organizations working with them to the top, it will be better and it will be achieved rather than imposing on the communities. The National Dialogue is all a fiasco because people fill their views was not represented,” Mrs Arrey Hernica Besong said.

“If the state wants to solve the problem there is need for all hands on deck; there is a need for everyone to be taking into consideration, both their views and opinions put into effective practice. The youths, women, minorities, those who have been imprisoned, the international communities need to come together to solve the crisis and the state alone cannot solve it.” 

The government has also carried out several measures aimed at ending the crisis. These involve Setting up an English division of the Supreme Court and creating a Common Law Section at the National School of Administration and Magistracy; Translating the OHADA Act to English; and more.    

The fundamental question that was answered during the session was why is the crisis so difficult to be resolved despite all governmental and international initiatives? There are many discerning voices from many stakeholders in the conflict both from national and international communities who believed that if the government had not adopted a state-centric approach in resolving the crisis, the conflict should have long been sustainably resolved.

It should be recalled that this is not the first time that the Nkafu Policy Institute is holding sessions (both onsite and online) geared towards bringing a meaningful solution to the crisis. Last year, a series of sessions were organized in Yaounde, Bamenda, and Buea and when the COVID-19 pandemic escalated, there went online.

These public dialogues are in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute – a Think Tank (research institute) of the Denis and Lenora FORETIA Foundation – centred around carrying out independent research to provide comprehensive and incisive evidenced-based policy recommendations that will precipitate a succinct pathway in resolving the crisis in the North West and South West regions in particular and Cameroon in general.

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Kenya puts Somalia on notice
January 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenyan government spokesperson Col. Cyrus Oguna
Kenyan government spokesperson Col. Cyrus Oguna

Kenya wants Somalia to stop dragging its name into its internal issues.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Kenyan government spokesperson Col. Cyrus Oguna accused Somalia leaders of engaging in diversionary tactics as the country nears its polls slated for February 8, 2021.

Oguna said the recurrent confrontation between Kenyan and Somalia forces at the Mandera border has connections with the domestic political activities in Somalia, with every effort being made to give them an external angle.

“We are calling on Somali leadership to desist from dragging Kenya into their domestic issues,” Oguna said.

The spokesperson reiterated that Kenya is known for generosity and hospitality. Therefore, it would be counter-productive for her to destabilize the very people it offers a refuge.

“Allegations by Somalia that Kenya is sponsoring and harbouring militia to destabilize Somalia are not based on any merit.”

“We are a peace-loving people, in a country governed by the rule of law and guided by the principle of non-interference.

“Due to this, it is here that most Somalis run to whenever violence breaks out in their country. They still do cross over into Kenya to seek certain services,” he said.

Kenya remains committed to the maintenance of peace and stability in the East Africa region.

“It is for this reason that our troops, operating under the auspices of the African Union (AU), continue to be part and parcel of the regional peace-keeping effort for Somalia,” he added.

IGAD on Monday exonerated Kenya from the claims that it is interfering with Somalia’s internal affairs and violating its territorial sovereignty. 

The Fact-Finding Mission report released on Monday noted the allegations were baseless, accusing Somali leadership of severing diplomatic ties with Kenya, noting it has negatively impacted Somali nationals’ lives who seek relief and amenities in Kenya.

Somalia expelled Kenya’s Ambassador and recalled its last year December.

IGAD report was welcomed by Kenya and rejected by the Federal Government of Somalia.

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Somalia terms IGAD report on Kenya row biased
January 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has dismissed the IGAD report that exonerated Kenya from internal affairs interference claims.

Somalia claims that IGAD’s commissioners were enticed at Kenya’s Mandera Airforce Camp to compromise the findings.

FGS described the report as biased, partisan, unfair, compromised, and predetermined meant to save Kenya in a statement released on Wednesday.

“It is instructive to note that the commission intentionally declined to visit Beled Xaawo on two occasions to witness Kenya’s atrocities against Somalia,” Somalia said.

Somalia vowed to hold to all its initial accusations against Kenya and pursue all means to protect her sovereignty.

  On Tuesday, a Fact-Finding Mission established by President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh of Djibouti during the 38th Extraordinary Assembly of IGAD Heads of State and Government rejected claims by Somalia that Kenya is interfering with its internal affair and violating her territorial integrity.

The mission who visited both Kenya and Somalia said the accusations leveled against Kenya by Somalia were baseless. The team further castigated Somalia for severing diplomatic ties with her neighbours.

“The commission considers that these grievances, some of which are longstanding, do not appear to be sufficient to justify a diplomatic separation between Kenya and Somalia. Somalia’s federal government is indeed sovereign in its decisions,” says part of a report by the team.

On its part, Kenya welcomed the report committing to uphold regional peace and stability.

“The Report of the Fact-Finding Mission affirms the fact that the allegations by Somalia against Kenya are wholly unfounded. It is also clear that the decision by the Federal Government of Somalia to severe diplomatic relations with Kenya was uncalled for and has negatively impacted the lives of Somali nationals who seek relief and amenities in Kenya, AMISOM operations, and the livelihoods of citizens of both countries.”

 “Working with different Somali administrations, IGAD, and other partners, the Government, and People of Kenya have spared no cost to stabilize Somalia and create conditions for peace and prosperity; this remains our long-held commitment from which we will not be distracted,” said Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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REV. DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR: WHERE ART THOU?
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Chris Fomunyoh and Judith Johnson*

If ever there was extraordinary significance in the celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day, it is now.  Everything Dr. King, the civil rights icon, worked and died for; his voice and vision, and what he continues to represent is being tested in today’s America and the world at large. The bedrock of Dr. King’s life and legacy — social justice, racial equality, equity and inclusion, human dignity and non violence — are being tested: in emerging democraciesin which the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and similar organizations typically provide democracy strengthening technical assistance, and here in the very heart of the oldest, established democracy, the USA. Most notably, the storming of the U.S. Congress on January 6 had the world gaze in amazement, wondering whether in the words of the 20th century Irish poet W.B. Yeats (in the Second Coming) later adopted by the Nigerian literary icon Chinua Achebe (in his seminal novel ‘Things Fall Apart’), “The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.”

The bill making the MLK Day a federal holiday was signed into law in 1983, coincidentally the same year NDI was founded; although only from 2000, has the day been celebrated as a federal holiday in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Had his life not been snatched by the bullet of an assassin in Memphis, Tennessee in April 1968, Dr. King would have turned 90 last summer. 

If Dr. King lived through 2020, he would have been appalled and saddened by the America he saw, struggling under the heavy weight of racial injustice, especially in matters of policing and law enforcement, and racial tensions that boiled to the surface after a series of brutal murders of unarmed African-American men and women by white police officers. The most abhorrent of those cases was that of George Floyd, who suffocated under the knee of a white police officer as he pleaded he couldn’t breathe, and after close to eight minutes in that position, drew his last breath. The images of George Floyd, like those of Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, Ahmauld Arbery, and a total of 226 black Americans killed by police in 2020 alone, went viral on television and social media. Revolted by what they saw and learned, citizens in cities and towns across the U.S. and wellwishers in foreign lands overseas, erupted in shock and disapproval. Many participated in peaceful protests and some Americans committed to confronting injustices head on by leading movements for greater social justice and enhanced political participation and representation for African-Americans and other minorities.

Imagining if Dr. King had lived through summer 2020, he would have run head on into the beehive of current U.S. electoral politics during which hard won gains of civil and voting rights obtained in the 1960s came under threat from attempts at voter suppression and disenfranchisement, compounded by the global COVID-19 pandemic.  The ever eloquent Dr. King would have run out of words on January 6, as rioters sought to undermine American democracy by disrupting the counting of electoral college votes and certification of the presidential election results. They forced their way violently into the citadel of U.S. democracy — the U.S. Congress — rampaged through offices, including that of the Speaker, and manhandled law enforcement officers charged with the security of members, staff and the building itself. Lives were lost, property destroyed and the Capitol desecrated. Worse still, the psyche of “small d” democrats, nationally and internationally was shaken because no one imagined such a frontal attack on the embodiment of American democracy. Moreover, speculation was rife about the possible complacency or complicity of individuals whose responsibility it is, paradoxically, to protect, nurture and defend the country’s democracy.  

Almost everything about that march on Congress was unkingly, such as the chants about violently hurting and even hanging elected officials, and open display of symbols of racism and antisemitism. A noose was later found on the premises of the Congress. The rioters or insurrectionists of January 6, started their march from the Lincoln Memorial, otherwise noted for one of Dr. King’s most remarkable speeches on racial justice, equality and the hope that we’ll all “be judged not by the color of…skin, but by the content of …character.” 

But Dr. King left the stage before now and wouldn’t see any of that; and with him went Congressman John Lewis, another giant of the civil rights movement. They went early but the pillars of their faith in the goodness of humanity remain unstained, and their combined gospel on racial justice, equality and non violence continue to echo here and across the globe — and therein lies the umbilical cord that binds to them, organizations such as NDI that seek to promote and strengthen their values of improving the human condition.

NDI’s affinity to the MLK Day goes beyond the symbolic linkages of an organization launched in the same year (1983) as the legalization of this day: it goes to the symbiosis of our efforts to project, promote and represent through our mission and programming internationally, and however imperfectly, the values that Dr. King espoused dearly. Democracy support entails strengthening non-violent means of citizen engagement and active participation in political processes from the bottom up and public service delivery from the top down. Similarly, NDI efforts at enhancing women and youth political participation and representation, and advocacy for other marginalized groups seek to sync with Dr. King’s aspirations for equality and inclusion.

Part of the beauty of our practice is that in the countries in which we work, the democracy champions, civic and political actors who are our partners and program beneficiaries, are adepts and disciples of Dr. King. Many of them already stood in Dr. King’s corner long before NDI opened shop. While that often translates into a welcoming mat for NDI on arrival, it also raises the bar by which we ourselves would be assessed.  

So we must acknowledge that being privileged by such proximity imposes additional responsibilities; and while we have a distance to travel on the MLK highway, we have, as an organization, raised the level of consciousness among staff at headquarters and in country offices in close to 60 countries, hoping eventually to also impact our local partners and program beneficiaries.  

NDI launched its first ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Council in July 2020, and set out to stimulate and facilitate frank, open conversations about what is lacking or broken on these issues, and how it could be fixed. The goal is to create secure spaces where every voice within the organization can be heard, and where we can benefit from everyone’s input to better perfect the organization we love dearly, and whose mission is for many a calling and not just a job. We show our commitment to the DEI cause and to the greater mission of the organization, knowing that despite the dark clouds that may have traversed the skies in 2020 and early 2021, the day will dawn and lightness will emerge; for, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.”

*Co-chairs, NDI’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.Courtesy of NDI

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