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Gambia Gov’t , UNDP sign $2Million Environmental Project
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

 The Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, Mr. Muhammed Jallow Wednesday afternoon presided over the signing ceremony of a $2million project between the government of The Gambia and the United Nations Development (UNDP) Programme Country Office in Banjul.

The UN Environmental Facility funded project intends to support The Gambia with the necessary technical and financial assistance to reduce the risks posed by a group of oily liquids and solid man-made chemicals called PCBs (Poly Chlorinated Biphenyls) and unintended Persistent Organic Pollutants (U-POPS) to the human health and the environment.

Secretary General Jallow said no one can underestimate the importance of the environment to the development of The Gambia. A great majority of the country relies on the river and marine resources for their livelihoods. Hence contamination of the waters will have serious impact on the population from both the cities to the rural areas.

Secretary General Jallow noted that the African Union has identified The Gambia’s First Lady, Mrs. Fatou Bah-Barrow as a Champion of environment conservation and protection. Hence the government’s dedication will be greatly enhanced by this laudable collaboration with the UNDP.

The Executive Director of the National Environment Agency (NEA), Mr. Dodou Trawally explained that the project will include the identification and disposal of 75 tons of PCB-contaminated equipment and waste and the reduction of U-POPS through the improved waste management practices and reduction of open burning of waste.

These materials and substances stay very long in the environment before they biodegrade, especially the mercury, which is contaminative to fish. Fish is one of the heavy dependents of The Gambia for food consumption.

The UNDP Resident Representative, Dr Aissata De said environment is one of the key priorities and areas of intervention in terms of closeness to the population for the UNDP. She said they are committed to supporting government efforts and all stakeholders on the path for the achievement of the goals of the NDP, the SDGs, the Agenda 2020 and Agenda 2063.

“We all know the impact and the importance of the environment on our daily lives and on development in general. This project is one more action because we have longstanding partnership between the National Environment Agency, the Ministry of Environment and the government,” she said, thanking all other collaborators that UNDP has been working with for the environment and the people for the ownership of those projects.

The NEA is the implementing partner for the government, while the UNDP country office is the Global Environment Fund (GEF) implementing agency for this project. Other stakeholders include the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, the Gambia Ports Authority, the KMC NAWEC, among others. It is geared towards supporting the implementation of the National Development Plan 2018-22021 in The Gambia.

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Russia Spreading Its Tentacles Across Africa
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Scott Morgan*

Russian President Putin with President of Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadera.

Russian President Putin with President of Central African Republic Faustin Archange Touadera.

When it comes to special operations in Central Africa initiated by the Russians most thoughts and conversations focus on the operations conducted within the Central African Republic over the last two years as either a point of contention or outright fear in some Capitals. But once again history is again repeating itself in Africa.

There have been allegations that after the 2016 Presidential Elections in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) that the incumbent President Soussou-Nguesso reportedly hired a Russian Private Military Company to put down the unrest in the vital town of Pointe Noir that occurred after the controversial polls. There was virtually no coverage of the influence in this election. It should be noted that when President Soussou-Nguesso was President for the first time Brazzaville was considered to be an ally of what was then the Soviet Union.

Also when it comes to Russian Operations in Central Africa even though it is not considered being part of Central Africa, the role of Sudan cannot be ignored. Khartoum has been used as a transit and logistics hub for its Operations in CAR. The Change of leadership that recently took place within Sudan will have an impact on Russian Operations in Central Africa. Russia was one of the countries that was coaching the Military in how to react during the final days of the Bashir regime. It would be wonderful if this dynamic was looked into. For the near future it should be taken as a fait accompli that whatever projects are launched in the region by the Kremlin it will have some form of presence in Sudan.

Another aspect that has been proving to be interesting regarding Russian Activities in the region is the media coverage regarding them or the efforts by the Putin Government and their allies to manipulate their coverage of the activities. One needs to recall the incident where four journalists for a Russian Opposition news site were ambushed and killed in the Central African Republic. That only occurs when a party wants an activity to be shielded from public view and scrutiny.

Another action taken by the Russians to spin events into their worldview has to be the deals to provide content to some African Media Outlets by either Sputnik or RT (Russia Today). A perfect example happens to be the deals reached with RTNC (National Radio and Television Corporation) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. RT was the first entity to reach a deal with the Congolese in November 2018, Sputnik has reached a similar deal in May of 2019. This effort in the DRC has been a success for Moscow. When Russia celebrated the fifth anniversary of the annexation of the Crimea , one of the largest events was actually held in Kinshasa.

Another tactic that Russia is using ties between the Duma and local legislatures on the ground. Once again the topic focuses on the Democratic Republic of the Congo. There is already a Russia-DRC Friendship Group already in the Parliament of the DRC. This is a simple and easy way for Russia to not only to promote its agenda in Africa it can be done in such a way that most other powers that have interests in the region such as the former colonial powers of France and Belgium and even the United States could find themselves be left on the outside without realizing what they allowed to Happen has indeed taken place without their ability to properly address the situation.

*The author is President of Red Eagle Enterprises and the views expressed are his.

 

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Towards a new era of US-Zimbabwe Relations
September 20, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Scott Morgan

President Mnangagwa with US Ambassador Brian Nichols

President Mnangagwa with US Ambassador Brian Nichols

Has Zimbabwe entered a new era? The post Mugabe ZANU-PF (Zimbabwean African National Union- Patriotic Front) wishes to convince the population of that very fact. They have decided that relations with the United States are crucial.

A series of events that began with the controversial 2002 reelection of President Mugabe and the controversial and poorly executed land reform program which virtually brought the economy to a halt compelled the Administration of George W Bush and allies to levy sanctions against Zimbabwe and specific persons for their roles in the issues that plagued the country for more than a decade.

One of the moves that they have made is to retain the services of lobbying firm based on K St here in Washington. The firm that they have contracted to represent them has been a source of controversy over the last three years.

Mercury Public Affairs first came to light as a company to be concerned with due to its ties with Paul Manafort. Prior to his taking over the campaign of President Trump in 2016 he was in charge of the Mercury program dealing with Ukraine. His name came up in a ledger that was discovered by Ukranian Police in 2015 that listed individuals that were suspected of accepting payoffs. Concerns about whether or not Mr. Manafort was still working on Ukraine issues for Mercury while guiding Mr. Trump through the nomination at the Republican National Committee Meeting in 2016 have proven to be murky.

Another recent client is Cameroon. The Country is facing some of the challenges of other African Countries. A long entrenched leader who managed to win reelection despite a young population, An insurgency that has begun after a decision to force an ethnic minority that speaks English to learn and speak French are just some of the issues plaguing this Country. Reports indicate that this contract was ended after a poor performance by the Cameroonian Ambassador to the United Nations earlier this year.

One of the main motivations for this PR effort is to have the rest of the long standing sanctions against Zimbabwe finally lifted. Recent statements by South African President Ramaphosa and a proposal made at the recent G7 summit in France by current AU chair and Rwandan President Paul Kagame supported these calls. It is felt that these sanctions and not the policies of the Zimbabwean Government are the reason for why the Zimbabwean Government is still struggling.

At this time there are 141 entities and individuals currently under Sanctions including President Mnangagwa and several state-owned enterprises. Earlier this year Congress passed a bill that instructs the Secretary of the Treasury to request that the executive directors of major financial institutions to vote against any extensions of loans or grants to Zimbabwe except for to meet basic human needs or to promote democracy. This act also prevents any US funds to assist Zimbabwe unless they are to be used for health and education unless the Secretary of State approves a review the ensure that Zimbabwe is operating with transparent fiscal policies.

Clearly there are some benchmarks that Zimbabwe has to meet in order to comply with the desires of the United States. It could probably have reached out to a better lobbying firm here in Washington. However the population is demanding change and that in itself is an excellent motivator.

*The author is President of Red Eagle Enterprises and the views expressed are his.

 

 

 

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Central Africa: President Touadera Honored With PALOMA DE LA PAZ” (PEACE DOVE) From World Organization of Peace
September 18, 2019 | 0 Comments

Juan Samuel Delgado Cedillo, President of the World Organization for Peace (OMPP/WOFP), presented the special prize La Paloma de La Paz, to Professor Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic and Head of State, for the results obtained during the pacification process in some regions of Africa.

The Dove of Peace is the most important symbol that the OMPP grants as a special prize to those who with their actions have sought, fought or contributed to global pacification and to the resolution of conflicts in any region of the world, without distinguishing beliefs religious, political preferences or skin color.

In an event held at the official facilities of the Presidency in the city of Bangui, capital of that country, attended by the highest officials of the government and Central African politics, as well as Ambassadors and Ministers of some countries in the region, Samuel Delgado said that peace is a universal right for those who inhabit this planet, and our existence depends on our actions and how we interact with others. Working for peace is not only  about words and good intentions, peace comes with the actions we carry out  every day, he said. Inner peace is where everything begins and is transmitted with our behavior as a species. We all need to carry out peace actions, said Delgado.

Speaking at the event, President Faustin Archange Touadera, who has become a well-known and respected interlocutor in the African continent for deactivating, through dialogue, clashes between rebel groups and authorities in Africa, highlighted the support he received from the civil society to reach the results obtained during the process of pacification of the region, an achievement that until then had been denied for many years to the inhabitants of the countries involved, although there is still much to do.

The World Peace Organization will continue to support those peace projects aimed at the population that needs it most, always in conjunction with the authorities, civil society and those public and private sectors in all countries of the world that want to carry out peace and well-being, always in favor of people.

 

 

 

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Merck Foundation provides their first ‘Health Media Training’ in partnership with the First Lady of Zimbabwe
September 17, 2019 | 0 Comments
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Juba, Khartoum agree to stop wars in two nations
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Sudan's Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok met South Sudan's President Salva Kiir in Juba [Jok Solomun/Reuters]

Sudan’s Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok met South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir in Juba [Jok Solomun/Reuters]

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir and Sudan Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok have agreed to work together to bring peace and stability in the two neighboring– countries after post – President Bashir’s Sudan.

In the aftermath of the deposed of autocratic president Omar al-Bashir in April, this year and subsequent establishment of the new government, Juba and Khartoum relations has changed, and are now engaging in building new relations.

Sudan’s new Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, who flew to South Sudan on Thursday September 12, 2019 on a two-day in his first foreign visit, met president Kiir at State House to cement a new plan for peace talks with many of the rebel groups fighting against the government, brokered the Juba government, and discussed bilateral relations between South Sudan and Sudan, including economic integration, border issue and settlement of outstanding issues in both countries.

Hamdok, a former U.N. diplomat, took office three weeks ago under an agreement between the military and civilian parties in Sudan after months of demonstrations against generals who seized power after toppling long-serving autocrat Omar al-Bashir.

The ruling Sovereign Council has set an aim to bring a swift end to insurgent conflicts that have plagued Sudan for years and made it a pariah under Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide in the Darfur region. It has installed a government of technocrats led by Hamdok.

On that, Juba is currently mediating peace talks between Sudanese armed groups and that government in an attempts to return peace and stability in country.

As the result, Sudan’s newly appointed government and rebel leaders agreed Wednesday, September 11, 2019 in Juba on a roadmap aimed at ending war in the country by year end, following the military’s deposed of despotic President Bashir.

The two sides signed an initial deal, known as Juba Declaration Pre – Negotiation Principles, and Trust Building Measures after three days of negotiations in Juba, capital of neighboring South Sudan.

Gen. Mohammed Hamadan Dagalo, better known as Hemedti, a member of the joint military-civilian sovereign council, signed the initial agreement on behalf of the government. He is the leader of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which grew out of the notorious Janjaweed.

The deal was signed by the SRF, an umbrella group that includes three of the main rebel factions, among them rebels in Darfur, as well as by Abdelaziz Al-Hilu, leader of a wing of the SPLM-N, the main group fighting against the government in the southern provinces of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

Sudan has been shaken by rebellions in its wide-ranging provinces for decades, resulting in tens of thousands of people being killed.

Fighting in the western Darfur province has largely died down in recent years, but rebels and militias are still active there as well as in the southern provinces of Blue Nile and South Kordofan.

The power-sharing deal between the military and the pro-democracy movement calls for the new government to make peace with rebel groups within six months. Talks are supposed to begin Oct. 14, with the goal of reaching a final peace deal within two months, according to the initial agreement.

The rebels include the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which is an alliance of Darfur rebel groups. It is part of the pro-democracy movement, and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, which is active in South Kordofan and Blue Nile.

Juba, Khartoum relations

However, the political relationship between the two countries went sour immediately after South Sudan split out from Sudan in 2011 during the outer president Omar al Bashir’s regime. Both leaders have been accusing each other of hosting and supporting rebel groups.

In the meeting, president Kiir assured his Sudanese counterpart of strong bilateral relations, saying cooperation between the two countries did not go well because former president Bashir’s regime had intention to destroy South Sudan.

“The policy in Khartoum by then was that they must disturbed South Sudan so that we die naturally; to collapse but we survived,” said president Kiir.

“The Sudanese people whether in Sudan or in South Sudan are one people in two [different] countries and that is what binds us together although we have not been staying good,” he added.

President further assured his government support to Sudan to end its all forms of violence, promised his regime will reverse to the kind of relations both countries had during the president Bashir’s regime.

“I must assure you that our relationship will change from where we ended with the former regime. [And] we hope, you will cooperate with us,” said Kiir.

For his part, Sudanese prime minister, Hamdok promised that his government would work with Juba government to end all the grievances and mistrusts.

“I am looking for a very strategic, very distinguished relationship between our two nations and the sky is the limit,” Hamdok said upon arrival in Juba. “I believe, there will be peace, stability, prosperity and development in our countries.”

 

“He (Hamdok) is coming to cement the agreement as far as ending the war in Sudan,” said James Wani Igga, South Sudan’s vice president.

Meanwhile, South Sudanese Foreign Minister, Ms. Awut Deng Acuil, said the two leaders deliberated more on bilateral relations as well as outstanding issues concerning peace and stability in the two countries, including the issues of borders, economic and trade, cooperation and political matters.

“Time has come for us to stop the war in two Sudans,” said Awut, while addressing the media at the state house with her Sudanese counterpart.

“We hope to have a very prosperous relationship that will address issues of trade, border, oil, free movement of our people between the two countries,” Ms. Awut said.

She added that time is ripe for the two countries to silence a guns across the borders. “It is a high time for us to silent the guns in order to have sustainable peace in two countries – we should all agree to come out with a roadmap to work things together.”

Sudanese Foreign Affairs Minister, Asma Mohamed Abdallah said all the pending or unresolved issues between the two sisterly countries had been touched so that the relationship would resume.

“The new government in Sudan will make sure that all the issues would be resolved, to move to the wider areas of [political] cooperation,” said Asma.

The virtuous relations between the two sisterly countries are vital for trade and economic as well as the flow of oil from fields in South Sudan, which depend on pipelines that go through Sudan.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in 2011 after decades of scorched – earth war, but descended into another war in 2013. The two sisterly countries have been since often accused each other of harbouring and assisting rebels fighting against their governments during the ousted president Bashir era.

South Sudan, which is also in conflict, is trying hard to bring a swift end to the five-year conflict that has killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted 4 million people from their homes, through latest Khartoum – backing peace deal signed in 2018 by the government and key opposition groups.

The new transitional government is set to be formed on November 12, returned opposition leader Dr. Riek Machar as the president Kiir’s first vice president.

 

 

 

 

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GAMBIA, QATAR SIGN FOUR NEW BILATERAL AGREEMENTS
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow and the Emir of the State of Qatar, His Highness Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani presided over the signing of four new Memoranda of Understanding and bilateral agreements between the governments of The Gambia and Qatar. The agreements entail mutual cooperation in the sectors of communications, judiciary, customs, and youth and sports. On behalf of The Gambia, the various ministers of information and communication, justice, and foreign affairs signed the agreements with their respective Qatari counterparts in the following areas:

Communication: the two governments agree to operate in each other’s territories in the service areas of satellite communication. Honourable Ebrima Sillah signed the agreement with the Qatari Minister of Transport and Communications, Jasim Saif Al-Sulaiti.

Mutual Administrative Assistance: Both parties have agreed to exchange information between the customs authorities of the two countries. The Qatari Minister of Finance, Ali Sharif Al-Emadi, signed with Minister of Foreign Affairs of The Gambia, Dr. Mamadou Tangara.

Legal Affairs: It involves capacity enhancement of the judicial systems of both countries, through experience sharing. The two countries also agree to cooperate and assist each other in the area of customs law enforcement focusing on two specific areas: “Administrative Assistance for Optional Application of Customs Law” and “the Repression, Investigation and Combating of Customs Violations”. The Minister of Justice, Aboubacarr Tambadou signed for the Gambia while Hon. Essa Saad Jaffal Al- Naimi signed for Qatar.

Youth and Sports: The Gambia and Qatar agree to promote friendly exchange of youth camps and football tournaments between the two countries. Minister Tangara and the Sport and Culture Minster of Qatar, Mr. Salah Ghanim Al-Ali signed on behalf of their respective governments.

Other engagements

Amongst the president’s other engagements on day two of the State visit in Qatar include a meeting with the Chief Executive Officer of the Qatar Charity, where they discussed possible a partnership to have the organization begin operations in The Gambia. The non-governmental organization cover areas of health, water supply, and education.

President Barrow also visited the Qatar National Museum. He was encouraged by the display of the rich history and visionary leadership that laid the foundation for a modern Qatari state in the 21st Century.

Later in the evening, the president wrapped up the day with separate meetings with the Chairman of the Arabiya Trading, Abdulrahman Al Mahmoud, and Muhamad Sultan Al Jabeer of Jabeer Construction.

 

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Oprah Winfrey Is Looking for African Women Who Are Passionate About Public Service
September 13, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Lerato Mogoatlhe*

Oprah Winfrey and students from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls. 2011. Picture credit People Magazine

Oprah Winfrey and students from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls.
2011. Picture credit People Magazine

Oprah Winfrey is once again lending her name and influence to help educate and empower more African women.

The mogul — who is fondly known as Mama Oprah in South Africa — announced that the Oprah Winfrey Foundation has launched a fully-funded fellowship aimed at empowering African women who are in public service.

It offers women from African countries the chance to study for free at New York University’s (NYU’s) Wagner graduate school of public service — in the hope of supporting Africa-led solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues.

The African Women’s Public Service Fellowship — a partnership between Winfrey and NYU — will provide full tuition, fees, housing, travel to and from the United States, and a stipend to cover books and other expenses.

The aim of the fellowship is to “expand the opportunity for African women” who want to change public service in their countries,according to the New York University (NYU).

The opportunity isn’t open, however, to applicants who are looking to fund advanced professional certificates and non-degree programmes, NYU highlights.

To qualify, applicants must also be a citizen and resident in an African country; have a strong academic record; and a proven commitment to public service in their country or around the continent.

The fellowship is applicable to study on these programmes at Wagner: Masters of Public Administration (MPA) in Public & Nonprofit Management & Policy; MPS in Health Policy & Management; Master of Urban Planning, and Executive Master of Public Administration (EMPA) for Public Service Leaders.

Recipients of the fellowship also must commit to returning to their home countries when the programme ends, with the goal of taking on a leadership position in Africa — where they can “meaningfully contribute to the challenges currently confronting Africa,” the university says.

To apply for the opportunity, applicants must send an essay, a one-minute submission video, and fill out this online application form by Dec. 2.

Candidates who make the shortlist will be invited to Skype interviews with the selection committee by mid-February 2020.

The fellowship joins many other education initiatives supported by the Oprah Winfrey Foundation.

Speaking at the Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100 event that was held in Johannesburg in Dec. 2018, Winfrey said society can change if we all play our part, no matter how small, in helping others.

“I always thought it was because Madiba was a citizen of the world that he really got to see how the power of one leads to the empowering of many,” she said. “He knew when a society is wounded, we all bleed.”

She added: “As Maya Angelou taught me: Your legacy isn’t some big grand gesture that’s waiting to happen, your legacy is every life you touch… I built a school right here in South Africa to help girls become leaders of a new South Africa. Every time one of them succeeds, it is my greatest reward.”

*Source Global Citizen

 

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China donates rice to South Sudan to accelerate unification of army
September 11, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – China has handed over 1,500 tonnes of rice to the South Sudan government to assist the peace process and formation of unified army in the youngest world country.

In order to support South Sudan in implementing the revitalized peace agreement (RARCSS), the Chinese government decided to provide a batch of material assistance to South Sudan.

The National Period Transitional Committee (NPTC), body tasked with peace implementation received a first batch of 1,500 tons of rice aided by China, that will help the construction of cantonments and accelerate the formation of a unified army as the country’s 5-year civil war comes to an end.

On September 2, the handover ceremony of the first batch of food was held at the warehouse of the National Pre-Transitional Committee (NPTC) in Juba.

The 30,000 sacks of rice will be transported to the army forces in the cantonment sites across the country. There are about 25 cantonment sites in the country, created by the 2018 peace deal.

The China’s assistance is in line with an effort to faster the implementation of security arrangement to pave way to have one unified army in the country.

The latest peace deal signed between South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit and opposition groups last year is now in its implementation stage.

The Chinese government hope that South Sudan will restore peace and stability at an early date. The China to take the lead in providing material assistance for the construction of cantonments together with AU and some African countries.

It is only two months left for the formation of unity government that return Dr. Riek Machar, as the president Kiir’s deputy, the same position he held before the conflict broke in late 2013.

At present, China is speeding up the preparation of other material assistance, including tents, blankets and medicine, and they will be delivered to South Sudan respectively.

The handover ceremony was attended by Chinese Ambassador Hua Ning, Hon. Cabinet Minister and Secretary of NPTC Martin Elia Lomuro, and representatives from JDB, JMCC, and JTSC representatives.

Speaking to the press, Chinese Ambassador, Hua Ning said that the peace process has entered into a critical moment, and the formation of a unified army is one of the most pressing issues at present.

Ambassador added that the assistance is an effort to move the peace process forward so that the transitional government is formed on time. This is a first shipment of the food, but Amb. Ning lamented that there will be more [foods] coming to South Sudan.

“The signatories have to choose the suffering of the people, at meanwhile we also hope that most of the countries could provide direct support to the cantonments, to unification of the army. This is a key to the future peace – without the unified army, there will be no true peace so that why we put cantonments as our priority – that why a China promised to provide support for cantonments,” said Amb. Ning.

He further called on all parties to peace deal to listen to the voice of the people and unite to implement the peace deal, giving peace a chance and giving people a hope.

“Now, we have only two months before the formation of new transitional government and all the members and the parties to the peace deal need to work together and double our efforts to put forward the peace process. I believe that the feel of the people, just the feel of the country and we believe that with joint efforts, South Sudan will enjoy a peaceful and prosperous future,” said Amb. Ning.

Amb. Ning appreciated the recent support from the African Union and relevant African countries to provide support to South Sudan and called on the international community to increase efforts in supporting peace in South Sudan in all aspects to see that the country is returning to a stability path.

“I believe that the international community are still committed to the peace process, [but] at this critical moment, the international community also need to double its efforts to support the parties to the peace agreement in South Sudan. We work together to give a peace a chance,” said Ning.

On behalf of the South Sudanese Government and NPTC, Cabinet Minister Elia thanked the Chinese government and people for their valuable support and stressed that China’s assistance will greatly promote the South Sudan peace process.

Minister Elia said that the trucks and planes from South Sudan People’s Defence Force are ready to go, and the first batch of rice aided by China will be transported to the cantonments as quickly as possible, and that each cantonment will receive over 700 bags of rice to maintain the forces in the country.

He further unveiled that the NPTC gave a necessary money to transport the food to the army across country so that next two months, there must be unified forces.

“The South Sudan People’s Defence Force (SSPDF) has contributed their vehicles and planes and the NPTC gave a necessary money to transport the food all over the country so that in next two months, we have unified forces,” said Minister Elia. “We have committed ourselves that any country helps us, we will work to the higher standard for accountability and transparency,” he added.

Minister Elia also advised all the parties to the peace deal to resolves local problems in the areas, something he says they would not tolerate anything going wrong to deter the peace process in the areas, there are cantonments.

The NPTC is working closely with Joint Defense Board (JDB), JMCC, JTSC and other mechanisms to develop a detailed distribution plan to ensure the proper and effective use of materials.

One of South Sudan’s other challenges is its poor road network. Getting the donated rice to the cantonment areas remains a challenge.

But Lt Gen. Charles Dut Akol, Chairperson of the JMCC explained that the rice that is going to Greater Equatoria will be transported by roads, while for Greater Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazel regions respectively will be delivered by air.

Gen. Dut assured that there would no malpractice on this donation, saying the food must reach the forces in the cantonment sites.

However, South Sudan hopes rice aid can make an impact on the maintaining of the forces at the cantonment sites across the country.

At present, China is speeding up the preparation of other material assistance, including tents, blankets and medicine, and they will be delivered to South Sudan respectively.

The formation of unity government was then extended in May to November this year, following the unfinished issues, including the security arrangement which is a backbone for the lasting peace in the country.

 

 

 

 

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Washington Braces Up for Mega Forum on Making African Trade Easy
September 7, 2019 | 0 Comments

-Q& A with Angelle Kwemo  on Mate 2019

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Angelle Kwemo Founder and CEO Of Believe in Africa

Angelle Kwemo Founder and CEO Of Believe in Africa

 

Trade, the African Continental Free Trade Area, Prosper Africa initiative, business networks and more will be in focus during the upcoming Making African Trade Easy Forum organized by Believe in Africa Foundation. Considering that this is the 5th anniversary of Believe in Africa, we decided to do something different, says Founder and CEO Angelle Kwemo in a preview of the forum with Pan African Visions.

“We are strongly mobilizing the African diaspora, African, and American firms to explore partnership opportunities,” says Angelle Kwemo. Also expected at the event are several African leaders and close to 200 participants from Africa.

With experience working in diverse legislative and policy circles in the US, and Africa, Angelle Kwemo believes that MATE 2019 which runs from October 3-4 will provide a unique platform for delegates to understand and explore the myriad of business opportunities in the light of  recent developments in both Africa and the USA.

You are Founder and Chair of Believe in Africa, could you start by introducing the organization for us and what it does?

Believe in Africa is a non profit organization created by African diaspora leaders to promote African solutions to African problems, advocate for increasing the role of the African private sector into the continent’s economic transformation, promoting intra African trade,  and last but not the least promoting investment in women, and youth.  What we do is organize meetings, seminars, and create platforms to facilitate partnerships.

The organization is hosting the Making Africa Trade Easy Fair in Washington, DC, can you shed light on this?

This year is our fifth-year anniversary. We decided to do something special in Washington DC where the organization was born. Three important policies changes happen this year that coincided with our mission and will be at the center of MATE. Private sector, Finance and intra African trade.

  • Prosper Africa initiative announced by the current administration is perfectly in line with our vision to put the African private sector at the center of the continent’s economic growth as well as at the center of US Africa cooperation. We strongly believe that Africa should gradually get out of the “Aid dependency”. This can only happen if Africa attains its economic independence. That independence will begin when the African private sector will be strong and prosperous. Also, with Africa’s population growth exceeding the billion, Job creation is an emergency. Those jobs will not come from the public sector, nor from the humanitarian programs. Therefore, it is imperative that the governments, Africans, and partners like the US, MUST create the enabling environment for the African private sector to prosper. This also applies on US foreign policies. I believe this is what Prosper Africa intends to do. Support the private sector to double US Africa two ways trade.
  • International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), will open soon. Created by the Better Utilization of Investments Leading to Development (BUILT Act) with 60 billion USD appropriated (double of OPIC), it is one of the biggest changes in U.S. development policy in recent years. The DFC will combine the Overseas Private Investment Corporation(OPIC) and the S. Agency for International Development’s Development Credit Authority, add new development finance capabilities, including equity authority, and have a higher lending limit than its predecessor. It is aimed at advancing private-sector-led development and will prioritize low-income and low-middle income countries, where the DFC’s services will have the greatest impact.
  • This July the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) became effective, creating the world’s largest single market, including the world’s fastest growth economies. It is historical and creating the biggest opportunity of our lifetime. By 2030, Africa will have a combined consumer and business spending of $6.7 trillion in 2030. We should all play a role in making the continental market successful.

It is for these three reasons that as the African diaspora in the U.S., we decided to use our networks to help in promoting these policies with the concept of MATE.

MATE is a collaborative effort between us, USAID, and the Ronald Reagan Building & International Trade Center to promote Prosper Africa, and African Economic integration in order to strengthen U.S. – Africa trade relations and double two ways trade between both continents using the bridge created by the African diaspora.

Any projections on the level of participation from companies and businesses, and what will represent a successful MATE forum for you?

We are strongly mobilizing the African diaspora, African and American firms to explore partnership opportunities. As you know, the African diaspora is historically, culturally, and emotionally connected with the continent. Their proximity with the continent has been unutilized until today. They are the most effective US ambassadors to the continent. They abide by the American standards and have good understanding of both continent’s ways of doing business. With MATE, we want to equip them with tools that they need to trade and invest more in Africa. In doing so, they are not only contributing to the development of the continent, but they also promoting American products and services, and creating badly needed jobs in both continents.

That is why we are also bringing together U.S. agencies under Prosper Africa hospice, African leaders from both the public and private sectors to discuss and explore partnership opportunities.

How will the program of  events look like, what should participants expect?

The MATE program will comprise plenary sessions, workout sessions, seminars and roundtables. We will discus investment opportunities in various sectors like Technology and digital, AfCFTA, healthcare, agribusiness, textile and fashion, power.

Participants will get more insights or learn about resources available in the U.S through “Prosper Africa”, meet potential partners and investors. We will hold exhibitions, and create platforms for B2B and B2C.

Also, we are planning a special session on Women in Agriculture to coincide with our annual “AWAA” meeting. African Women in Agriculture and Arts (AWAA)” is a platform dedicated to empowering women in agriculture, especially in rural areas, enabling them to become self-reliant, productive and competitive. AWAA network was launched last year in Morocco under the hospice of H.E. Aissata Issoufou Mahamadou. We will bring women leaders from Africa to Washington to showcase their products and explore the U.S. market.

May we know some of the dignitaries who have confirmed participation at the event?

On the African side, we will have two heads of States in attendance H.E. Roch Kabore, President of Burkina Faso, H.E. Felix Tsisekedi, President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, H.E. Moussa Faki Mahama, Chair AU Commission, H.E. Albert M. Muchanga, AU Commissioner of Trade and Industry, H.E. Lesego Makgothi, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Relations of Lesotho, Chantal Yelu Mulop, SA President of Congo on youth and violence against Women, high level representation of Afrexim Bank, Niger, Lesotho, Guinea, Mauritious, Rwanda, Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, and Senegal.

We will host Africa’s biggest women advocate like H.E. Adjoavi Sika Kaboré, First Lady of Burkina Faso, H.E. Aisha Buhari, and First Lady of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and H.E. Aissata Mahamadou, First lady of Niger.

On the U.S.G side, we will have, Hon. Tibor Nagy, Assistant Secretary on Africa, Hon. Ramsey Day, Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator for Africa, USAID, Hon. Constance Hamilton, AUSTR for Africa, Hon. Oren Wyche-Shaw, Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID, Matthew Rees, Prosper Africa Coordinator, Tom Hardy, Acting Director, U.S. Trade and Development Agency, CD Glin, President & CEO, US Africa Development Foundation, Hon Alicia Robinson-Morgan, Director for Africa, Millenium Challenge Corporation, and Worku Gachou, Director for Africa, International Development Finance Corporation.

In the private sectors, we have more than 200 companies including large ones

like OCP, MTN, Standard Charted Bank and many more for more than 20 countries.

There will be a special session hosted by the African Women in Agriculture and Arts (AWAA), a platform dedicated to empowering women in agriculture, especially in rural areas

There will be a special session hosted by the African Women in Agriculture and Arts (AWAA), a platform dedicated to empowering women in agriculture, especially in rural areas

How much participation do you expect to come from Africa?

We are expecting around 200 participants from Africa. I must be honest to say that the most recent developments in U.S.  immigrations and visa policies have been counterproductive because it is difficult to imagine doubling two ways trade when African partners are unable to visit the U.S. It is also part of our duties to raise awareness about obstacles to trade. American needs to make sure its policies and all agencies policies are not self destructive, and pushing Africa closer to China, Russia and other competitors.

What is your take on the overall strategy of the Trump administration towards Africa, what has changed in the sphere of development and trade?

I want to remain objective and nonpartisan as African policies have always been in the past. On the trade front, I think the administration has good intentions: help Africa become less dependent on aid. If you run a poll in Africa on this subject, the majority of Africans will agree. The question now is how?  I think it will start with a big mind shift that American will have to make. Africa has changed, and the new Africans are ready for business and they are open to explore different avenues. I think American firms should come to the realization that they are in a competitive field and learn to adjust accordingly. This is the most difficult part.

Lastly America needs to innovate in their foreign policy approach and use the cultural bridge that the African diaspora represents. I will not emphasize it enough.   Diaspora entrepreneurs are also pragmatic. If they don’t find support in the U.S. they will find it somewhere else. It would be a waste.

As I said earlier, immigration policies send wrong signal to our African partners. How can you do business with someone who is not welcome in your country?

After MATE, what next for Believe in Africa, any other big projects or ventures in the horizon?

We will continue to build MATE and AWAA. I will give you more details in October 4, 2019. Big announcement are coming.

*Originally published by Pan African Visions, contact,pav@panafricanvisions.com, Tel:12404292177

 

 

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UN conference on land management opens on a positive tone for change
September 3, 2019 | 0 Comments
The Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change and Information & Broadcasting, Shri Prakash Javadekar and the Executive Secretary, UNCCD, Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw at the 14th Conference of Parties COP 14 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida on September 02, 2019. The Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Babul Supriyo and other dignitaries are also seen.

The Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change and Information & Broadcasting, Shri Prakash Javadekar and the Executive Secretary, UNCCD, Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw at the 14th Conference of Parties COP 14 United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, at India Expo Centre & Mart, Greater Noida on September 02, 2019. The Minister of State for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Babul Supriyo and other dignitaries are also seen.

New Delhi, 2 September 2019 – “If human actions have created the problems of climate change, land degradation and biodiversity loss, it is the strong intent, technology and intellect that will make difference. It is human efforts that will undo the damage and improve the habitats. We meet here now to ensure that this happens,” said Prakash Javadekar, India’s Minister of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.

Pointing to an unprecedented global campaign to save productive land, Javadekar said 122 countries, among them Brazil, China, India, Nigeria, Russia and South Africa, which are among the largest and most populous nations on Earth, “have agreed to make the Sustainable Development Goal of achieving land degradation neutrality a national target.”

Land degradation neutrality is an innovative land-use and management approach that prioritizes the optimal use of land to ensure the balance of productive land remains stable long-term. It is one of 169 targets set for 2030 for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Minister Javadekar made the remarks during the opening the fourteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, taking place from 2 to 13 September 2019, in New Delhi, India.

Echoing these sentiments, Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the Convention, drew attention to the warnings sounded by recent scientific assessments and the growing public alarm at the frequency of weather-related disasters such as drought, forest fires, flash floods and soil loss, but urged delegates to be mindful of the opportunities for change that are opening up, and take action.

“While the science and events around us must get our full attention, we should never, ever, lose sight of the inspiring moments or opportunities opening up or are happening around us that we can build on to break vicious cycles, trends or behavior. This is what will move us forward,” he said.

Over 70% of the world/s land area has been transformed from its natural state to produce food, fibre and energy. Some of this conversion is essential, but what is alarming is the pace of land transformation that is putting 1 million species at risk of extinction.

Moreover, 1 in 4 hectares of this converted land is no longer usable due to unsustainable land management practices. These trends have put the well-being of 3.2 billion people around the world at risk. In tandem with climate change, may force up to 700 million people to migrate by 2050. Moreover, and unless significant changes are made to turn this around, all of humanity will eventually be impacted as we lose more and more of the services ecosystems provide.”

Thiaw drew attention to the actions taken by governments in recent years, which signal a sea-change in how environmental issues, particularly in land use and management, are viewed.

“More than 70 countries have robust national drought plans, compared to just three countries only 4 years ago. The agenda shows that governments have come to COP14 ready to find solutions to many difficult, knotty and emerging policy issues,” he added.

Land tenure, drought management, the consumption and production flows influencing agriculture, urbanization that could consume up 80 percent of the most productive agricultural land in Asia and Africa, ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions to fight climate change are all on the agenda of the Conference, Thiaw stated.

An estimated 7,200 participants that include ministers and representatives of governments, non-government and intergovernmental organizations, scientists, women and youth from the 197 Parties are expected. They will take around 30 decisions with actions that aim to strengthen land-use policies worldwide and address emerging threats, such as forced migration, sand and dust storms, and droughts.

Conferences of the Parties help governments, worldwide, to plan their land use sustainably and to pursue their sustainable land management goals practically. COP14 is expected to ramp up efforts by countries to achieve land degradation neutrality with tools and resources that are fit for purpose.

The Conference of the Parties meets once every two years. The last Conference of Parties, hosted by the Government of China, was held in October 2017 in Ordos, Inner Mongolia.

Notes to Editors:

India is a Party to the United Nations Convention for Combating Desertification (UNCCD). The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) is the nodal Ministry of Government of India (GoI) that oversees implementation of the Convention in the country.

India’s population is projected to reach 1.7 billion by 2050. About 2 billion hectares of land – an area over three times the size of India – are degraded, but can be restored back to health. India was one of the first countries to commit to the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal target of achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN).

India Government takes over the residency of the COP from China, and will serve for 2 years. Similar to previous COP sessions, a high-level segment will take place to raise political momentum for the negotiations and boost the engagement of stakeholders in the Convention’s implementation.  Ministers from over 70 countries participating in the high-level segment of the Conference will address new and emerging issues.

About UNCCD

The UNCCD is an international agreement on good land stewardship. It helps people, communities and countries to create wealth, grow economies and secure enough food and water and energy, by ensuring land users have an enabling environment for sustainable land management. Through partnerships, the Convention’s 197 Parties set up robust systems to manage drought promptly and effectively. Good land stewardship based on a sound policy and science helps integrate and accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals, builds resilience to climate change and prevents biodiversity loss.

Background Information and Resources

For background materials, including photos for use, and other resources are available here: https://www.unccd.int/conventionconference-parties-copcop14-new-delhi-india/cop14-media-resources

Contact Information

For further information, please contact:

Ms. Wagaki Wischnewski, wwischnewski@unccd.int, Cell: +91 74284 94332

Mr. Abhishek Srivatsava, asrivatsava@unccd.int, Cell: +91 99991 80790

Ms. Yukie Hori, yhori@unccd.int, Cell: +91 74284 94331

 

 

 

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Scientists: ‘Partnering with farmers crucial for saving degraded lands’
September 3, 2019 | 0 Comments
Dr Anthony Whitbread speaks about the gender significance of land restoration in Niger.

Dr Anthony Whitbread speaks about the gender significance of land restoration in Niger.

Highlighting successful farmer-led initiatives scientists demonstrate the importance of the ‘Research in Development’ approach for the global land restoration effort

 New Delhi, 2 September: If degraded lands have to be saved embedding research within farmer-focused development initiatives is essential, echoed scientists on the sidelines of the 14th Conference of Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification here on Monday. They cited successful land restoration initiatives in Africa and India to make the point.

“To stop land degradation and reverse it to be able to achieve the SDGs, especially combatting desertification and restoring degraded lands (SDG 15.3), a synergy is required between scientists, farming communities and their institutions that are the land users and managers. Research can help restoration initiatives to scale-up globally but only if farmers, their livelihoods and communities are at the heart of such initiatives,” said Prof Anthony Whitbread, Director for the Innovation Systems for the Drylands research program at the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), during the session ‘Applying the Research in Development Approach to Scale Land Restoration and Achieve the LDN targets’. The event was organized by ICRISAT and World Agroforestry (ICRAF).

The SDG 15.3, as envisioned by the UN, reads – By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world.

 This target, which drives land restoration initiatives that were presented at the session, bridges with the UNCCD through the scientific conceptual framework of Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN).

“Restoring degraded lands for food security is critically important in sub-Saharan Africa given the extent of degradation and socio-economic conditions in the region. With climate change only exacerbating degradation, collaboration between institutions of science, development actors, governments and farmers is a pressing need,” said

Dr Tilahun Amede details the successes from embedding research in land development efforts in Ethiopia.

Dr Leigh Winoweicki, a Soil Systems Scientist at the World Agroforestry (ICRAF). Dr Winoweicki’s work that was presented at the session had resulted in creation of ‘Communities of Practice’ in Africa. These communities are platforms for stakeholders with common goals to share lessons learnt and create knowledge for an enabling environment to accelerate impact on the ground.

In India, development and management of watersheds have helped reclaim degraded lands. The Parasai-Sindh watershed in India’s Uttar Pradesh state, developed by ICRISAT and partners from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), has been held up as a model for increasing land productivity by the National Institute for Transforming India (NITI Aayog).

“Integrated watershed development involving agroforestry helps to control erosion and enable farmers to achieve food and economic security. It is important in the context of increasing dependence of Indian agriculture on groundwater,” said Dr Kaushal Garg, a Natural Resources Management Scientist at ICRISAT. Dr Garg presented the Parasai-Sindh watershed which helped increase area under cultivation, crop and milk yields and triple farm household incomes in Jhansi. The government of Uttar Pradesh is attempting to double farmers’ income in seven districts of the state’s Bundelkhand region with ICAR and ICRISAT’s assistance.

In Ethiopia’s Amhara region, ICRISAT’s work in managing landscapes illustrates the benefits of integrated watershed management in restoring degraded lands. Innovations, mainly in the development of physical and biological barriers, have helped control extreme events upstream and runoffs downstream, thereby creating opportunities for farming. Dr Tilahun Amede, ICRISAT’s Country Representative for Ethiopia, demonstrated the benefits of research contributing to adoptable innovations.

“Following construction of structures to control runoff and creation of areas where sediment can be deposited, new avenues for farming and unique farming systems came into being. These systems were trialed at scale with local and normally nomadic communities. For the first time, these communities were producing food crops and fodder. A long-standing problem was not only managed but taken advantage of,” Dr Amede said.

The session also saw Bora Masumbuko, Senior Program Officer, Drylands, IUCN; Ms Aureile Lhumeau, Professional Officer of the UNCCD’s Global Mechanism Team; Ms Marie-Aude Even, Senior Regional Technical Specialist, IFAD, and Dr Susan Chomba, an ICRAF scientist managing the Regreening Africa initiative, a megaproject that aims to restore 1 million ha, discuss approaches to scale land restoration in a panel discussion. The panel deliberated donor priority for land restoration, land management strategies in the backdrop of the LDN framework, the role of policy and governance in land regeneration and role of nations in a region’s land restoration agenda.

About ICRISAT

The International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid-Tropics (ICRISAT) is a not-for-profit international agriculture research organization. ICRISAT works across sub-Saharan Africa and Asia with a wide array of partners. The semi-arid tropics or drylands cover 6.5 million square kilometers of land in 55 countries, home to over 2 billion people of which 644 million are the poorest of the poor. ICRISAT innovations help the dryland poor move from poverty to prosperity by harnessing markets while managing risks – a strategy called Inclusive Market-Oriented Development (lMOD). ICRISAT is headquartered in Hyderabad, India, with two regional hubs and six country offices in sub-Saharan Africa. www.icrisat.org.

 

Dr Leigh Winoweicki highlights the significance of the research in development approach in achieving land restoration in sub-Saharan Africa.

Dr Leigh Winoweicki highlights the significance of the research in development approach in achieving land restoration in sub-Saharan Africa.

About World Agroforestry (ICRAF)

World Agroforestry (ICRAF) is a center of science and development excellence that harnesses the benefits of trees for people and the environment. Leveraging the world’s largest repository of agroforestry science and information, we develop knowledge practices, from farmers’ fields to the global sphere, to ensure food security and environmental sustainability. ICRAF is the only institution that does globally significant agroforestry research in and for all of the developing tropics. Knowledge produced by ICRAF enables governments, development agencies and farmers to utilize the power of trees to make farming and livelihoods more environmentally, socially and economically sustainable at scales. www.worldagroforestry.org

About CGIAR

ICRISAT and ICRAF are members of the CGIAR Consortium. CGIAR is a global agriculture research partnership for a food secure future. Its science is carried out by 15 research centers who are members of the CGIAR Consortium in collaboration with hundreds of partner organizations. www.cgiar.org

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