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Merck partners with UNESCO and African Union to empower Women in Research with the focus on “Infectious Diseases and Women Health”
November 30, 2016 | 0 Comments

UNESCO–MARS 2016 has brought together more than 200 researchers from more than 35 African countries to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in developing Africa as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation

  • Nine researchers from across Africa receive ‘Best Young Researchers Award’ and ‘Best Women Researchers Award.’
  • MARS 2016 contributes to Building Research Capacity in Africa to improve Women Health.
  • MARS 2016 addresses Research in Francophone Africa for the first time.
  • Merck On-line research community  launched to enable young researchers to share experience with their peers in Africa and beyond.
UNESCO-MARS 2016 ‘Best African Woman Researcher Award’ 1st place winner Beatrice Nyagol from Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya receives her award from Prof. Yifru Berhane, Minister of Health, Ethiopia as Prof. Afework Kassu Gizaw, Minister of Science and Technology, Ethiopia; Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman, Executive Board and Family Board of E.Merck KG; Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare and Ahmed Fahmi, Program Director, UNESCO

UNESCO-MARS 2016 ‘Best African Woman Researcher Award’ 1st place winner Beatrice Nyagol from Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya receives her award from Prof. Yifru Berhane, Minister of Health, Ethiopia as Prof. Afework Kassu Gizaw, Minister of Science and Technology, Ethiopia; Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman, Executive Board and Family Board of E.Merck KG; Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare and Ahmed Fahmi, Program Director, UNESCO

Merck , a leading science and technology company in partnership with UNESCO, African Union, Ethiopia Ministry of Health, University of Cambridge and Institute Pasteur International today announced the 2016 UNESCO – Merck Research Award winners. The nine winners under two categories, ‘Best Young African Researchers Award’ and ‘Best African Women Researchers Award’, were announced during the 2nd UNESCO-MARS Summit 2016 being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“We are very happy to partner with UNESCO, African Union and Ethiopia Ministry of Health to achieve the important goals of improving women health and empowering women in research, as they are still under-represented in Africa,” Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of the Executive Board and Family Board of E. Merck KG emphasized at the inauguration of the UNESCO-MARS 2016 Summit.

Yifru Berhane, Minister for Health, Ethiopia, said: “We are very happy to partner with Merck, UNESCO and Africa Union to build research capacity in Africa with the focus on young researchers and women researchers and to define policies to enable high quality research in the continent”.

“This is the first time the UNESCO-MARS is launching the ‘Best African Woman Research Awards’ with the aim of promoting women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) that has seen five women researchers from across Africa being recognised for the quality of their research. The awards are in line with this year’s UNESCO-MARS 2016 theme that supports empowering women in research and building research capacity in Francophone and Anglophone Africa to ultimately improve women health in the continent,” emphasized Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare.

Beatrice Nyagol from Kenya Medical Research Institute was awarded the 1st Woman Researcher Award while Rogomenoma Ouedraogo from Laboratory of Biology and Molecular Genetics University, Burkina Faso received the 2nd Woman Researcher Award. The 3rd, 4th and 5th Woman Researcher Awards were granted to Sandrine Liabagui ep Assangaboua from Gabon; Maria Nabaggala from Infectious Diseases Institute, Uganda and Martha Zewdie of Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Ethiopia respectively.

The three categories of the ‘Best Young Researchers Award’ were given to two female and two male researchers with the 1st Award going to Patricia Rantshabeng from University of Botswana and the 2nd Award to Constantine Asahngwa from Cameroon. The 3rd Award were given to both; Tinashe Nyazika of University of Zimbabwe and Lamin Cham from the National Aids Control Program, Gambia.

“The awardees who are final PhD students and young investigators based at African research institutes and universities were selected based on the abstracts they submitted which were very impressive and related to Infectious Diseases with the aim to improve Women Health, which is the focus of UNESCO-MARS 2016,” emphasized Rasha Kelej.

Summit addressing both Francophone and Anglophone Africa

UNESCO–MARS 2016 has brought together more than 200 researchers from more than 35 African countries to discuss the generation, sharing and dissemination of research data and to prepare for the road ahead in developing Africa as an international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation.

Of the 200 researchers attending the Summit, 60% are women. This is contributing to one of the main objectives of UNESCO-MARS, which is empowering women in research.

NESCO-MARS 2016 Ministerial panel on ‘Research and policy making gap in Africa – challenges and opportunities – Africa as a new international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation,’ left to right: Ahmed Fahmi, Program Director, UNESCO; Prof. Afework Kassu Gizaw, Minister of Science and Technology, Ethiopia; Zuliatu Cooper, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone; Prof. Yifru Berhane, Minister of Health, Ethiopia; Dr. João Sebastião Teta, Secretary of State, Angola; Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare and Rashid Aman, Chairman, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO

NESCO-MARS 2016 Ministerial panel on ‘Research and policy making gap in Africa – challenges and opportunities – Africa as a new international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation,’ left to right: Ahmed Fahmi, Program Director, UNESCO; Prof. Afework Kassu Gizaw, Minister of Science and Technology, Ethiopia; Zuliatu Cooper, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone; Prof. Yifru Berhane, Minister of Health, Ethiopia; Dr. João Sebastião Teta, Secretary of State, Angola; Rasha Kelej, Chief Social Officer, Merck Healthcare and Rashid Aman, Chairman, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO

The Summit for the first time, is also addressing both Francophone and Anglophone Africa and has attracted researchers from 11 French speaking countries of Senegal, Rwanda, Gabon, Benin, Congo, Cameroon, Gambia, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Niger, Burundi. Researchers from English speaking countries are drawn from Namibia, South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Liberia, Botswana and Ethiopia. In addition, researchers from Arab speaking and Portuguese speaking countries such as Egypt, Angola and Mozambique are in attendance.

Researchers benefit from diverse scientific sessions

The 2nd UNESCO MARS Summit is providing a unique opportunity for Africa’s young and talented scientists to share their research output and findings with the top echelon of scientists from Africa and abroad. It is also an opportunity for networking and career development. The Summit is presenting a platform where young scientists are able to discuss the enabling environment for better research among others.

“The researchers attending the two-day Summit are benefiting from diverse and rich scientific sessions that are focusing on the relation between infectious diseases and cancer in women; untreated infectious diseases and the high prevalence of infertility in Africa; and participating in discussions to identify scientific research priorities for evolving health needs to address infectious diseases such as Malaria, Schistosomiasis and Zika in relation to women health,” Rasha Kelej emphasized.

The Summit theme of “Infectious Diseases and Women Health is informed by the fact that for many infectious diseases, women are at higher risk and have a more severe course of illness than men for many reasons including biological differences, social inequities, and restrictive cultural norms. Therefore, efforts to recognize and reduce health disparities among women have particular relevance for global health,” Uganda Minister of State of Health, Sarah Opendi emphasized.

Key African Ministers support building research capacity and policy development in the continent

Up to 15 African ministers of Health; Education; Science and Technology and Gender & Social Development participated in two ministerial high level panels at the UNESCO-MARS 2016. The ministers in discussions committed to support the building of research capacity at country and regional level, and the development and enforcement of policies to guide and promote scientific research for the benefit of Africa. They also pledged to enhance efforts to empower women in research.

The first ministerial high level panel on “Defining interventions to advance research capacity and empower women in research to improve women health in Africa,” involved: Sarah Opendi, Minister of State of Health, Uganda; Idi Illiassou Mainassara, Minister of Public Health, Niger; Julia Cassell, Minister of Gender, Children and Social Development, Liberia; Jesús Engonga Ndong, Minister of Education & Science, Equatorial Guinea and Prof. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of Executive Board and Family Board of E.Merck KG.

The second ministerial panel on “Research and policy making gap in Africa – challenges and opportunities – Africa as a new international hub for research excellence and scientific innovation,” included: Prof. Yifru Berhane, Minister of Health, Ethiopia; Prof. Afework Kassu Gizaw, Minister of Science and Technology, Ethiopia; Dr. João Sebastião Teta, Secretary of State, Angola; Zuliatu Cooper, Deputy Minister of Health and Sanitation, Sierra Leone and Rashid Aman, Chairman, Kenya National Commission for UNESCO.

Knowledge exchange platform to boost research capacity launched

During the UNESCO-MARS 2016, the Merck on-line research community blog (www.Merck-CAP.com) was launched to enable young researchers to exchange experience and knowledge with their peers and with established researchers in Africa and beyond.

The first UNESCO-Merck Africa Research Summit 2015 was successfully organized and held in Geneva, Switzerland in October 2015 with the focus on Emergent Infectious Diseases such as Ebola. The third UNESCO- MARS is scheduled to be held in 2017 in Africa.

About 2016 MARS award winners
“Best African Woman Researcher Award”

  • 1st Place: Beatrice Nyagol, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kenya
  • 2nd Place: Rogomenoma Ouedraogo, Laboratory of Biology and Molecular Genetics University, Burkina Faso
  • 3rd Place: Sandrine Liabagui ep Assangaboua, Ecole Doctorale Regionale d’Afrique Centrale, Franceville, Gabon
  • 4th Place: Maria Nabaggala, Infectious Diseases Institute, Uganda
  • 5th Place: Martha Zewdie, Armauer Hansen Research Institute, Ethiopia

“Best Young African Researcher Award”

  • 1st Place: Patricia Rantshabeng, University of Botswana, Botswana
  • 2nd Place: Constantine Asahngwa, Cameroon Centre for Evidence Based Health Care, Cameroon
  • 3rd Place: Tinashe Nyazika, University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe and Lamin Cham, National Aids Control Program, Gambia

 

 

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The men who claim to be Africa’s ‘miracle workers’
November 30, 2016 | 0 Comments
MOUNTZION GENERAL ASSEMBLY Image caption Many were shocked by the revelation that a South African pastor used insecticide in a healing ritual

MOUNTZION GENERAL ASSEMBLY
Image caption
Many were shocked by the revelation that a South African pastor used insecticide in a healing ritual

The revelation that a South African pastor has been spraying insecticide on his church members in a healing ritual has shocked many but he is not the only self-styled pastor in Africa to resort to highly questionable practices.

Cities and towns across the continent are plastered with signs and posters advertising churches, usually with apocalyptic names, promising instant cures and salvation from every intractable situation or sickness.

The churches are usually led by charismatic pastors, who set up their own churches rather than joining an established institution, and often claim to have miraculous powers.

However, the miracles are however tied to worshippers “planting a seed” – or giving money to the preachers.

Here are some of Africa’s more controversial preachers:

‘Turning petrol into pineapple juice’

Pastor Lesego Daniel heads the Rabboni Ministries based in South Africa’s capital, Pretoria.

He famously instructed members of his congregation to drink petrol, claiming that he had turned it into pineapple juice.

A man holds the bottle with petrolImage copyrightRABBONI CENTER MINISTRIES
Image captionThe video message warns: “If you cannot turn water into wine, do not try this at home”

A video shared online shows a worshipper pouring the petrol into a pan and then lighting it to prove that it is combustible.

He then sips from the bottle and declares that “he feels fine and does not have any side effects” when the pastor enquires about the taste.

A woman then rushes to the pulpit to have a sip of the drink and then declares it is “sweet” – an enticing assessment that gets a group of women rushing to the pulpit to have a taste.

Women gather to drink the petrolImage copyrightRABBONI CENTER MINISTRIES
Image captionA woman said the drink was “sweet”

However, the video shared on the church’s YouTube account did have a warning message:

“The level of anointing is not the same. If you cannot turn water into wine, do not try this at home.”


‘Snake pastor’

Penuel Mnguni is only 25 yet has been running the End Times Disciples Ministries church since 2014.

He is a protege of Lesego Daniel, the South African pastor who used pesticide in his healing rituals.

Penuel Mnguni putting a snake in the mouth of a worshipperImage copyrightEND TIMES DISCIPLES MINISTRIES
Image captionLocals chased Penuel Mnguni out of the area where his church was located
A posterImage copyrightEND TIMES DISCIPLES MINISTRIES
Image captionA poster on the church’s Facebook page claims he can turn snakes into chocolate

In the same year he opened his church, pictures of worshippers eating grass and flowers on his orders were shared on Facebook and on the church’s website.

Other images showed the self-proclaimed prophet feeding his members stones which he claimed to have turned into bread.

He earned his nickname “snake pastor” last year after pictures emerged of him feeding his followers snakes and rats, which he claimed had been turned into chocolate.

Locals later chased him out of Soshanguve, a township north of Pretoria where his church was located.


‘Healing erectile dysfunction’

In Ghana, Bishop Daniel Obinim of International Godsway Ministries has an expansive list of rituals which he uses in various cases.

In one incident, which was widely shared he was shown stepping on the abdomen of a woman, who was reportedly pregnant, to exorcise her from being possessed by evil spirits.

In another case in June, he is seen grabbing men’s crotches, saying this would heal their erectile dysfunction.

Daniel Obinim touching men's crotchImage copyrightYOUTUBE
Image captionThis stunt is the clean version of his prayer offering to “impotent men”

The men obediently stand in line, with their arms raised in their air, waiting for their turn to be touched by the preacher.

This seems to be the restrained version of his prayer said to cure men suffering from impotence.

In another video shared online last year he is seen praying over a man whose penis is exposed.

More recently, he was seen flogging a young woman and man during a service for allegedly having extra-marital sex.

One of the preacher’s aides is shown holding the woman as she attempts to run away.

The pastor is then seen lashing out at the woman repeatedly with a belt, while the church members remain seated.

Media reports say that a court in the capital Accra has issued a warrant of arrest for the pastor and two of his associates for allegedly “flogging the two teenagers in church”.


‘Blood in water’

An investigation by Kenya’s KTN TV station in November 2014 exposed the tricks Victor Kanyari, a famous televangelist, was allegedly using to fool worshippers at his Salvation Healing Ministry church.

Potassium permanganate dissolves in waterImage copyrightKTN
Image captionPotassium permanganate dissolves in water to give a reddish solution

He used potassium permanganate, a chemical compound that easily dissolves in water to give a reddish solution, to wash the feet of his members and then claim that blood was oozing from their feet as a sign of healing.

One of his former aides demonstrated how the preacher performed the trick.

Another video shows him putting his hand under a woman’s dress to touch her breast, saying this would cure her from breast cancer.

Victor Kanyari touching a woman's breastImage copyrightKTN
Image captionVictor Kanyari branded himself as a “Prophet” and also assumed the title “Doctor”.

The woman is seen turning away from the camera but the preacher forces her to turn around to face the congregation as he exposes her breast for all to see. He then calls for a church worker to anoint the “diseased” breast with oil.

The investigation said Kanyari was the son of “Prophetess” Lucy Nduta, another controversial pastor who was convicted in 2009 for “defrauding vulnerable people” claiming she could cure them from Aids.

Shortly afterwards, he appeared on another TV programme, saying his “tribulations” were the work of his enemies.

Kanyari is still preaching.

*Culled from BBC

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China’s African population declines amid slowdown, crackdown
November 19, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Louise Watt*

In this Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, photo, Mouhamadou Moustapha Dieng pose for a photo during an interview in Guangzhou in southern China's Guangdong province. Dreams are fading in China for long-time African traders like Dieng, who in 2003 was among the first wave of Africans to set up home and companies in this port city and forge the trading links between China and the African continent. (AP Photo/Louise Watt)

In this Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, photo, Mouhamadou Moustapha Dieng pose for a photo during an interview in Guangzhou in southern China’s Guangdong province. Dreams are fading in China for long-time African traders like Dieng, who in 2003 was among the first wave of Africans to set up home and companies in this port city and forge the trading links between China and the African continent. (AP Photo/Louise Watt)

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — Dreams are fading in China for African traders like Mouhamadou Moustapha Dieng, who in 2003 was among the first wave of Africans to set up homes and companies in this port city and forge trading links between China and the African continent.

Young African traders who want to follow in the footsteps of Dieng’s generation complain of difficulties getting visas, police crackdowns and prejudice, which come amid rising nationalism and slowing economic growth. Guangzhou is believed to have the largest African population in Asia, but many are leaving as long-time traders struggle against a slowdown in the Chinese economy and increased competition from Chinese traders and the internet.

“Now the trade is almost finished,” said Dieng, 54 and from Senegal. His profits are down 40 percent from a decade ago. In the absence of a Senegalese consulate in the city, newly arrived 20-somethings on tourist visas head directly to his office for advice on how to do business in China.

“They come with their bags, they sit down, they don’t have anywhere to sleep, they don’t have money,” said the father-of-four. “Most of them, after 10, 15 days they go back.”

Over recent decades, Chinese companies and entrepreneurs have spread out across Africa building stadiums, roads and other large projects, cultivating land, running hotels and opening restaurants. Less well-known are the thousands of Africans who live in or regularly visit the southern trading port of Guangzhou, which neighbors Hong Kong. Estimates of this population of residents and floating traders vary, and the police’s entry-exit administration declined to comment or offer data. The city’s vice mayor said in 2014 that there were approximately 16,000 Africans in Guangzhou, of which 4,000 were residents. Guangzhou’s population is 13.5 million.

The first African traders started arriving in Guangzhou in the late 1990s, attracted by its annual international trade fair, China’s economic boom and the ease of doing commerce in the city thanks to its wholesale markets, factories and low prices. Guangzhou had benefited from being one of the first Chinese cities allowed to open up to business in the 1980s, giving it a head start in attracting exporters.

Now that rosy picture has faded. Traders have to compete with online companies like Alibaba that allow customers to order from their offices rather than going to markets. They also have more competition from Chinese, like Dieng’s former employee who started her own business targeting his clients after picking up the Senegalese language Wolof.

The Associated Press spoke to 15 Africans in Guangzhou, both residents and traders who travel back and forth. Some long-timers reported that the city had become more welcoming over the years as mutual understanding increased between Chinese and Africans. But others spoke of hostility from locals and authorities, which comes amid a growing wariness of foreigners promoted by President Xi Jinping’s administration. Observers say the Communist Party is leaning on nationalism to distract from slowing economic growth.

Claudia Thaiya, 30, who sends electronics, furniture, clothes and shoes back home to Kenya, says when she went to look at an apartment recently, the advertised price went up when the landlord saw her. In some shops, she says, she hears derogatory comments about her skin color. “It shows that we’re seen as dirty,” said Thaiya, a former teacher.

Benjamin Stevens had a business selling liquor in Zambia before coming to study Chinese and civil engineering two years ago. He says he sees Africans being stopped by police to have their papers checked every day, and Chinese move away from him on the subway.

“Now what I plan is to get what I want and that’s the knowledge, about civil engineering, and go and put it into practice in my country,” he said.

Dieng, who lives close to the center of Xiaobei, an urban village nicknamed “Little Africa,” said that for the past year, he has had to register at the local police station every month, rather than annually as in the past.

“It seems they want the Africans to leave this area,” Dieng said. “Every month now, I have to go to the police station, every month. I feel like I’m in jail.”

An officer at the Jianshe police station, who did not identify himself, said that it “depends on different cases” as to how often foreigners should register.

Heidi Haugen, who researches Africans in China at the University of Oslo, said that the government wants to appear “in control to their local constituents — although they’re not elected, that’s an all-important part of legitimizing the government.”

“So if the immigrant population becomes too large and too visible, then that can become a political problem in itself,” she said.

City authorities are attempting to move foreigners out of Xiaobei. For years it has been filled with African traders, along with Middle Eastern and Chinese Muslim shops and restaurants, and is within walking distance of several provincial and city government offices.

Authorities are hoping African businesses will relocate to a development, Guangda Business City, a 40-minute drive away.

“Xiaobei is a very small and crowded downtown area, where so many African residents mingle with local Chinese, so there are some problems, if not conflicts, owing to their different cultures and lifestyles,” manager Deng Qiangguo said.

The city government declined to comment.

Africans in Guangzhou organize themselves into unofficial communities according to nationality. These communities, which offer members mutual support, report membership has declined over the past two years. The head of Guangzhou’s Tanzania community, John Rwehumbiza, said numbers had gone down “tremendously” this year from about 200.

“Many are going back,” said Rwehumbiza. “Number one because of the competition. Number two most of them feel they will do better back home than here.”

Chuka Jude Onwualu, of the Nigerian business group Association of Nigerian Representative Offices in China, or Anroc, said they had lost up to a quarter of their members since their peak of 80, and business visas were harder to get.

“If you haven’t been to China before there’s every likelihood you will be denied a visa, so for new people it’s really very difficult,” he said.

Dieng, who became a trader in China after a career as a pilot and engineer in the Senegalese army, has sold sports shoes, jeans, T-shirts, electronics and buildings materials during his 13 years here. He employs more than 20 Chinese and a handful of Africans. Now, he’s putting his last hopes into shipping, and, if that doesn’t work, his plan is to move back to Senegal and open a small factory.

“It’s near the end,” he says of his time in Guangzhou.

*AP/Yahoo

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Wetin dey ‘appen? Pidgin – a guide to West Africa’s lingua franca
November 17, 2016 | 0 Comments

_92468565_gettyimages-130677970The BBC is launching 11 new language services and one of them is English-based Pidgin, which is one of the most widely spoken languages across West Africa, even though it is not officially recognised.

What is Pidgin?

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of Pidgin is: A language containing lexical and other features from two or more languages, characteristically with simplified grammar and a smaller vocabulary than the languages from which it is derived, used for communication between people not having a common language; a lingua franca.

Simply put, Pidgin English is a mixture of English and local languages which enables people who do not share a common language to communicate.

Most African countries are made up of numerous different ethnic groups who do not necessarily have a lingua franca, so Pidgin has developed.

It is widely spoken in Nigeria, Ghana, Equatorial Guinea and Cameroon.

There are differences, because English is mixed with different languages in each country but they are usually mutually intelligible.

A form of Pidgin has developed into a mother tongue for the Krio community in Sierra Leone, which non-Krios can find difficult to understand.

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What is so special about Pidgin?

“It’s quite fluid, it keeps changing all the time and it’s expressive as well,” says Bilkisu Labran, head of the new BBC language services for Nigeria.

“Sometimes, if you don’t have a word for something, you can just create an onomatopoeic sound and just express yourself. And it will be appreciated and understood.

“I can talk about the gun shots that went ‘gbagbagba’ and you get my gist. So it vividly captures it instead of describing or trying to find a word to say: ‘The gun shots were very loud’.”

Also, Pidgin hardly follows standard grammatical rules so “you can lose things like verbs”, by saying: ‘I dey go’ to mean ‘I’m going’.

Other examples are:

  • I wan chop ( I want to eat)
  • Wetin dey ‘appen? (What is happening?)
  • I no no (I do not know)
  • Where you dey? (Where are you)
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How many people speak it?

It is difficult to know the precise number of speakers across the region as it is not formally studied in schools and is spoken in varying degrees of proficiency.

But many millions of people undoubtedly speak it on a daily basis, especially young people.

Nigeria is estimated to have between three and five million people who primarily use Pidgin in their day-to-day interactions. But it is said to be a second language to a much higher number of up to 75 million people in Nigeria alone – about half the population.

Although it is commonly spoken, Pidgin is not an official language anywhere except Sierra Leone, where Krio does have a formal status.

In many schools, children are disciplined if they are caught speaking Pidgin, rather than English.

However, some local radio stations do broadcast in Pidgin.

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How did it originate?

West African Pidgin English, also called Guinea Coast Creole English, was a language of commerce spoken along the coast during the Atlantic slave trade in the late 17th and 18th Centuries.

This allowed British slave merchants and local African traders to conduct business.

It later spread to other parts of the West African colonies, becoming a useful trade language among local ethnic groups who spoke different languages.

*BBC

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Is Africa on Donald Trump’s radar?
November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Alastair Leithead*

President elect Trump with President Obama at a press appearance after post election meeting

President elect Trump with President Obama at a press appearance after post election meeting

Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election means an uncertain future for Africa.

His rival Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by a landslide – at least among those in Barack Obama’s ancestral village in western Kenya.

The mock poll in Kogelo gave Mr Trump just a quarter of the votes in a place he might not have heard of, were it not for his accusations that it was the outgoing president’s birthplace.

“The people of Kogelo are very much annoyed,” said one resident.

“Being a woman of great substance and Donald Trump being a reality show personality… Clinton should have won,” said one another.

But they would say that – President-elect Trump won’t get anything like the reception President Obama received last year when he came to Kenya.

He had strong connections here – his father was Kenyan – and he launched his Power Africa project, which aims to double the number of people with electricity across the continent.

Comedians stage a mock election in the village of Kogelo, the home town of Sarah Obama, step-grandmother of President Barack Obama, in western Kenya, Tuesday 8 November 2016Image copyrightAP
Image captionMrs Clinton won the mock election in Mr Obama’s ancestral village

President George W Bush brought the continent the President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (Pepfar) – which provided millions of people with the drugs to help them fight HIV.

The US spends billions in Africa through aid and investment, but there is uncertainty over what Mr Trump will do, or even how much he knows about the continent.

“Trump has said very little about Africa – I don’t think he knows much about Africa,” said Jakkie Cilliers, chairman of the Institute of Security Studies (ISS), a think tank in South Africa.

“It is just not on his radar – it seems like he will be an insular president focused on US interests – in some sense, isolationist.”

He questioned what it might mean for Pepfar or the African Growth and Opportunities Act (known as Agoa – a hugely valuable American free trade deal with African countries), and efforts to tackle malaria.

“The fact he doesn’t know that much is perhaps our best protection,” said Mr Cilliers, only half joking.

Trump’s bulging in-box

The other key pillar of America’s involvement in Africa is security.

The US military footprint has slowly and secretly been spreading across the continent in reaction to radical Islamist militants.

American trainers and Chadian soldiers next to a military plane
Image captionThe US military trains soldiers in Africa as part of its anti-terror tactics

There are drone bases and special forces troops watching, and acting against so-called Islamic State and al-Qaeda linked groups across the continent.

The key things that need to be in the new President Trump’s Africa in-box include:

How America manages its approach to Africa could have a major impact on stability across the continent.

“Obama has done the US proud with his strategic approach,” said Mr Cilliers.

The ISS put out what he called a “tongue-in-cheek” article a day before the vote, asking what would a Trump presidency would mean for Africa.

“About a third of American foreign aid is directed at health programmes, and much of that at Africa,” ISS researcher Zachary Donnenfeld wrote.

“This means that any reduction in American foreign aid will have far-reaching effects on health outcomes on the continent.

“If Donald Trump were elected and implemented the foreign policy he campaigned on, he could become the single most-effective recruiting tool for terrorist organisations across the globe,” he added.

But with a shift from aid to investment, isn’t a businessman a good man to have at the helm?

Kenyan tech entrepreneur Mark Kamalu is not convinced.

“We have investments in US dollars and the first direct impact is the markets tank and that’s a worry from a business perspective,” he said.

“The rhetoric we have heard, the hard-line stance, the America first nationalism, the volatile and lose language makes everyone who is not white and American wonder where they stand.”

Some will welcome his conservative values on homosexuality and abortion, but there is a lot of uncertainty over what President Trump will mean to Africa.

Elected with little by way of policy, the continent will have to wait and see how much of what he said on the campaign trail will translate into action.

*BBC

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Trump’s isolationism: Threats and opportunities for Africa
November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Patrick Bond*

rt_donald_trump_mm_150616_16x9_992Donald Trump’s ascension to the US Presidency has stunned many across the globe due to his strange views and prejudices. The Conversation Africa business and economy editor Sibonelo Radebe asked Professor Patrick Bond to unpack implications for Africa.

What does a Trump victory mean for Africa?

The most catastrophic long-term consequence is climate change. This is because Trump is a denialist who will give the green light to widespread fracking, coal and oil exploration. Africa will be the most adversely affected continent. United Nations scientists estimate that 9 out of 10 small-scale farmers are unlikely to farm by 2100 due to drying soils and global warming, plus extreme weather will also cause 180 million unnecessary African deaths by then, according to Christian Aid.

Under Trump, we can safely predict that Washington will no longer seek to control United Nations climate negotiations, as did Barack Obama’s administration. The WikiLeaks Clinton emails and State Department cables revealed blatant manipulations of the Copenhagen and Durban climate summits. Instead, Trump will simply pull the US out of the 2015 Paris agreement, as did George W. Bush from the Kyoto Protocol.

By good fortune, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change annual summit is underway this week in Morocco. The only logical move, if the delegates have any spine, is to expel the US State Department and establish the machinery for a major carbon tax applied to products associated with countries – the US especially – which raise emissions and threaten the survival of many species across the globe.

Trump also heralds a rise in US racism and xenophobia, parallel to the Brexit vote by the British white working class. In neither case will local solutions be effective for the simple reason that neither Trump nor Theresa May (UK Prime Minister) are interested in the income redistribution required to benefit their economies.

And African elites who have – with a few exceptions – climbed over each other to please Washington, won’t find themselves welcome in the White House.

Hopefully the contagion of Trump’s racism – which will make life for Africans much harder – will be met by a major resistance movement including Africans from all walks of life in solidarity with various groups that stand to be oppressed by the US – women, African-Americans, Latinos, Muslims, environmentalists, progressives of all sorts. This movement can shape up in the same spirit to those that gave solidarity during the fight against apartheid.

What are the likely economic consequences?

Consistent with his isolationism, world trade stagnation will continue. In the case of Africa, Trump is likely to retract benefits under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act and reduce US aid.

That isolationism, in turn, could give Africans a chance to recalibrate what is now an excessive, self-destructive reliance on export of oil and gas, minerals and cash crops. Africa must focus on localising its economies to be able to meet basic needs.

Trump’s hatred of what he terms the “globalists” is probably just hot electioneering rhetoric. It’s fair to predict that pro-corporate candidates will come forward as Trump allies to calm the crashing stock markets.

The “neoliberal” group of policy wonks who expressed disgust with Trump and favoured Hillary Clinton will quickly make inroads into the new administration. They will ensure that the continuing US dominance in Western-leaning multilateral institutions is not disturbed.

We can simply anticipate more brazen US self-interest, as witnessed during the Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush regimes, with less of the confusing rhetoric promoted by Obama and his allies.

What US policies on Africa are likely to change? With what impact?

To be frank, we can only offer guesses. Trump said literally nothing about Africa during his campaign. He wants to “rebuild US military power,” which might include strengthening the Pentagon’s controversial Africa Command, known as Africom.

Economically, it is worth noting Trump’s close relations to the oil and gas industry which comes via Vice President Mike Pence. This suggests that multinational corporations in the extractive industries who desire more explicit imperial support for African adventurism will be served well by Trump’s bully-boy mentality.

What does this mean for multilateral institutions and how will this affect Africa?

The US’s role in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will become nastier given the veto power it enjoys, holding more than 15% of the voting shares. Trump will probably hire a brutal neoliberal as his IMF executive director, someone who will tighten the screws on Africa using Washington’s veto power. The leaders of two big African economies are desperate for IMF credits: Nigeria ($29 billion) and Egypt ($12 billion).

In relation to the United Nations, an interesting question comes to mind: should the UN leadership now sitting in Trump’s Manhattan East Side neighbourhood not develop a contingency plan to move UN headquarters out of the US? Trump promises to make life very hard for visitors who are Muslims, Libyans, Syrians and Mexicans – amongst others – so holding multilateral events in the US may soon be impossible.

The period ahead demands a very different multilateralism due to a number of expectations. The first is that Trump will sabotage the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and similar strategies to solve global problems, and wreck nuclear non-proliferation strategies such as the agreement that Obama painstakingly reached with Iran earlier this year.

And the second is that three of the BRICS’ nationalistic leaders – Vladimir Putin in Russia, Nahendra Modi in India and Michel Temer in Brazil – can be expected to establish much closer ties to Trump. This is likely to affect the balance of power between geographical regions, added to which are the drift of Pakistan, Turkey and the Philippines away from Washington. Trump’s hatred of China is another indeterminate factor.

Regardless of the geopolitical maneuvres, it’s time for a ‘multilateralism-from-below’ in which traditional progressive movements in civil society find common cause, because this is the most serious threat to humanity, the world economy and environment we’ve seen in living memory.

*Pambazuka

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Africa, solidarity and the ICC
November 11, 2016 | 0 Comments
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Trump’s tone resonates in strongman-weary Africa
November 3, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Julian Hattem*

tumblr_inline_nz4g5wetde1tedrp5_540KAMPALA, Uganda — Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has­­ had surprising resonance in parts of Africa where people are weary of the political establishment and see the real estate mogul as a global force for change.

Despite famously pushing an “America first” foreign policy and appearing to show little interest in events outside the U.S., the Republican nominee for president is enjoying a strong amount of popularity in Uganda and other African nations a week out from Election Day.

Trump is also up against Hillary Clinton, a woman known on the international stage for more than two decades, most recently as a globetrotting secretary of State, and whose family foundation has helped to save millions from malaria, HIV/AIDS and other diseases — including many Africans.

Yet for many in and around this capital city, scattered across hills in the jungle of East Africa, Trump’s candidacy represents a strike against political dynasties and the established order that has kept strongmen such as their own president in power for decades. Trump’s tough rhetoric and a fake viral quote have boosted his appeal to many looking for a change.

“Trump has presented himself as a candidate that is anti-establishment, that he wants to turn around things and cause a revolution of some sort,” said Moses Khisa, a lecturer of political science at Northwestern University and columnist for a Ugandan newspaper.

Trump, Khisa said, is tapping into “the same fertile ground of disillusionment and anti-establishment sentiment” on both sides of the Atlantic.

To be sure, support for Trump is not unanimous.

One poll conducted in South Africa and Nigeria, the continent’s two largest economies, showed a marked distaste for Trump. According to the WIN/Gallup International Association poll, released in October, respondents in those two countries overwhelmingly preferred Clinton, 69 percent to 20.

Due to a paucity of polling, it’s difficult to get a full understanding of feelings about the presidential race across the continent. It’s also dangerous to make sweeping generalizations about the political preferences of more than 1.2 billion Africans.

Worldwide, data suggest that Clinton is the overwhelming favorite. A Pew Research Center surveyof countries in Europe and Asia found strong support for Clinton and deep distrust of Trump.

But Trump has certainly struck a chord among a sizable number of Africans, who see him as a rejection of the current system who nonetheless speaks in a recognizable vocabulary.

Last week, five activists here descended on the U.S. embassy to demonstrate in support of Trump, waving misspelled signs and hoping to gather media attention. Two were arrested and later charged with failing to give proper notice about their plans.

“Among the candidates for the presidents of America, he’s the only man who says that once he becomes the president of America, he will fight the dictators — all African dictators including Museveni,” one of the activists, Kizza Hakim, told a local TV station, referring to Uganda’s 72-year-old President Yoweri Museveni. Museveni has been in power since 1986, after helping to topple dictator Idi Amin, and has shown an increasingly autocratic bent in recent years.

Hakim appeared to be referring to a fake Trump quote that has circulated around East Africa, in which he supposedly promised to not “condone any dictatorial tendencies exhibited by dictators around the world, especially the two old men from Zimbabwe and Uganda.”

“[Zimbabwean President Robert] Mugabe and Museveni must be put on notice that their days are numbered and that I am going to arrest them and lock them in prison,” Trump is falsely quoted as saying. “If the past American administrations have failed to stop these two despots, I will personally do it.”

A Trump campaign spokeswoman confirmed that the quote is false.

However, it was nonetheless briefly picked up by media around the continent earlier this year and forced a retort from Museveni. Trump “has got enough work to do in U.S.,” the Ugandan president said, noting rates of American gun violence.

 

Those who speak highly of Trump in Africa describe the GOP nominee as an outsider willing to speak truth to power.

“Above all, his willingness to disregard political correctness makes the supporters feel he’s saying exactly what they really feel about issues, but they’re afraid to say it in public. In a way, he represents their hopes, fears and frustrations,” Kwaku Adu-Gyamfi, a columnist in Ghana, wroteearlier this year.

“Isn’t he the kind of person we need desperately in Ghanaian politics right now?”

Clinton, meanwhile, is seen by some as part of the political establishment that has helped run the U.S. for the last two decades.

 

Despite being of Kenyan heritage, President Obama’s legacy in Africa is somewhat mixed, especially when compared to former President George W. Bush’s aggressive efforts to combat HIV/AIDS through the PEPFAR program. Clinton’s association with Obama’s administration hasn’t made her universally adored across Africa.

Trump also embodies many of the “big man” stereotypes that have permeated African cultures.

“For me, as an African, there’s just something familiar about Trump that makes me feel at home,” “Daily Show” host Trevor Noah, a South African native, quipped last October.

“Trump is basically the perfect African president.”

Throughout the campaign, Trump has railed on issues of globalization, China’s rising status, political cronyism and depressed economic opportunities. Many of those sentiments hit home in African countries that feel at the mercy of foreign powers, just as they do in parts of Europe that have experienced their own nationalist movements.

“One of the things that perhaps is a little bit of a paradox is that African populations often feel that their countries are slightly exploited by the West, therefore they support leaders domestically that stand up to people,” said Nic Cheeseman, a professor of politics and African studies at the University of Oxford. “And I think they may be looking to see someone like Trump and think that Trump is also trying to do the same thing for his country.”

“When Trump says he’s going to put some of those forces back in the box — even though he’s not talking about Africa, he’s talking about America — I think some of the African audiences hearing that would see a connection to their own battle against globalization, against multinationals,” he added.

*The Hill

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ICC gets support after 3 withdrawals, but Kenya is critical
November 1, 2016 | 0 Comments

BY EDITH M. LEDERER*

FILE - Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, second right, talks to his defense team when appearing before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Oct. 8, 2014.

FILE – Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, second right, talks to his defense team when appearing before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands, Oct. 8, 2014.

Many countries pledged support for the International Criminal Court on Monday following the announced withdrawal by three African nations, but Kenya, which the tribunal is investigating, was sharply critical and questioned its long-term survival.

Many in the General Assembly called for talks between the ICC and the African Union in hopes of addressing the continent’s concerns and reversing the decisions to leave by Burundi, South Africa and Gambia.

Kenyan Ambassador Tom Amolo didn’t say whether his country would also leave, but he told the 193-member world body that his country was monitoring the withdrawals “with very keen interest.”

Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, as well as Senegal, the first country to ratify the Rome Statute that established the court, and Tanzania reiterated their support for the ICC, stressing the court’s importance in combatting impunity for the world’s most atrocious crimes, including genocide.

The ICC has been accused of bias by some African leaders because since the Rome treaty came into force in 2002, only four people have been convicted of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Three were from Congo and one from Mali. So far, it has indicted only suspects from Africa, and of the 10 full-scale investigations currently underway, nine are in Africa and only one elsewhere — in the former Soviet republic of Georgia.

But the ICC is expanding its global reach. It is currently conducting 10 so-called preliminary examinations — probes to establish whether to open a full investigation — in countries including Afghanistan, Ukraine and Colombia, as well as the Palestinian territories and alleged crimes by British forces in Iraq.

ICC President Judge Silvia Fernandez de Gurmendi, presenting the court’s annual report to the assembly, said two trials are under way and another is set to start soon. And following convictions, she said, proceedings for reparations for victims are under way in four cases.

But Kenya’s Amolo called the ICC’s “dismal output of tangible results … disheartening and simply confounding.”

He accused the court of having lower standards than national courts and warned that “something radical and urgent must be done if this court is to stand any chance of long-term survival as a viable and credible international institution.”

The ICC indicted Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on charges of crimes against humanity for 2007 post-election violence in which more than 1,000 died. The case collapsed because of what the ICC prosecutor called threats to witnesses, bribery and lack of cooperation by Kenya’s government, but it remains open.

Amolo said African countries “have tried to engage constructively” with the ICC with little success.

Tanzania’s U.N. Ambassador Tuvako Manongi said the court’s “particularly tumultuous relationship with Africa … has engendered fear of an African exodus from the court.”

But he said “that need not be the case,” pointing to the African Union’s commitment to justice and the rule of law.

Manongi called for “confidence building measures” on how the ICC functions and interacts with the 124 countries that have ratified the Rome Statute.

“All too often avoidable misunderstandings, when left unattended or dismissed as inconsequential, grow into regrettable outcomes,” he said. “Lectures and claims of high moral ground from outside the continent are unhelpful.”

Senegal’s Minister Counsellor Abdoulaye Barro called for dialogue and expressed hope “that a consensus can be found so that Africa will continue to play a major role in the fight against impunity.”

New Zealand’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard von Bohemen said “better engagement” with the AU and African nations is needed. And he expressed hope that in the coming year, before the withdrawals take effect, “there is room for meaningful dialogue on a potential resolution and to provide for a pathway back to the court.”

“At the same time, we must not panic,” von Bohemen said. “We need to take the challenges seriously and recognize the political realities in which the court operates … and we will need a diplomatic process to address the challenges it is now facing.”

Joao Vale de Almeida, the European Union’s U.N. envoy, put the challenge succinctly: “The world needs the ICC, and the ICC needs all countries to support it.”

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ICC’s toughest trial: Africa vs. ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’
October 29, 2016 | 0 Comments

Criticising Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favourite pastime for many African leaders

* South African move paves way for ICC exodus

* Gambia rails against ‘persecution of Africans’

* Uganda pushing for AU motion to quit court

* ICC prosecutor admits departures a ‘challenge’

By Ed Cropley*

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, speaking in Kampala

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, speaking in Kampala

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 28 (Reuters) – South Africa and Burundi’s decision to quit the International Criminal Court (ICC) and an attack by Gambia against its supposed ‘Caucasian’ justice are likely to embolden other African states to leave the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.

Although criticising the Hague-based institution for perceived anti-African bias has long been a favourite pastime for many African leaders, in most cases it amounted to pandering to a domestic audience without much real intent.

That has now changed, with the precedent established of local politics justifying actual withdrawal.

With South Africa – a continental heavyweight and key backer of the ICC in the late 1990s – making clear it could no longer tolerate the court’s denial of immunity to sitting leaders, the departure gates have been flung open.

All eyes are now on Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, the ICC’s chief tormentor who made history in 2013 by becoming the first sitting head of state to appear before the court, on charges of crimes against humanity.

The case relating to Kenyatta’s alleged role in post-election violence in 2008 in which at least 1,200 people died collapsed in 2014 for lack of evidence.

But in January this year, with charges still hanging over his deputy, William Ruto, Kenyatta took to the floor at the African Union (AU) to call for a “roadmap for withdrawal” for Africa’s 34 ICC members.

Supporting South Africa’s subsequent stance, Kenyatta took aim in particular at Article 27 of the ICC’s 1998 Rome Statute which affirms the “irrelevance of official capacity” – in other words, nobody, no matter how powerful, is above the law.

Kenyatta, who faces another election next year, then played the global security card, saying this compromised Kenya’s ability to fight Islamist militancy, a genuine concern in the wake of a major attack in 2013 on Nairobi’s Westgate mall.

“We’ve had to contend with the ICC pursuing weak, politicised cases. This has become a huge distraction from our duty serve our people and this continent fully. That is not what Kenya signed up for when we joined the ICC,” he said.

“USELESS PEOPLE”

Kenya’s parliament has passed two resolutions since 2010 calling for withdrawal, but government spokesman Manoah Esipisu said the cabinet was still deciding – in the wake of South Africa’s move – whether to go ahead.

“It is accurate to say that a decision of the executive is pending,” he said.

Neighbouring Uganda, whose President Yoweri Museveni labelled the ICC “a bunch of useless people” at his inauguration in July, is already shaping up for a fresh push at the next AU summit in January for an African exodus.

“The ICC deserves what’s happening to it now,” junior foreign affairs minister Okello Oryem said.

“Our argument has always been that there’s a need for the whole of Africa to withdraw from the ICC. We hope that matter will come up at the next AU summit and then we’ll be able to pronounce ourselves.”

RUNNING FOR COVER?

Most worrying for the ICC, which has been fighting to counter the allegations of anti-African bias and ‘neo-colonialism’, is that local or regional politics stood behind the three recent decisions to pull out.

Although Gambia, which derided the ICC as the ‘Infamous Caucasian Court’, does not yet appear to have sent its formal divorce papers, President Yahya Jammeh, who has been accused of serial rights abuses since seizing power in a 1994 coup, is unlikely to back off ahead of an election in December.

While also citing ICC neo-colonialism, Burundi’s move followed the ICC’s opening of an initial probe into the rape, torture and murder of hundreds of people during an 18-month political crisis.

South Africa’s decision can be traced back to visit a year ago by Sudanese leader Omar al-Bashir when Pretoria flouted its obligations to arrest him under an ICC warrant for alleged war crimes.

It even violated a domestic court order in allowing Bashir to leave, a clear demonstration of the shift in Pretoria’s foreign policy under President Jacob Zuma from the international idealism of Nelson Mandela to plain African realism.

The ICC admits it is rattled but is determined to keep going, and in particular to counter the allegations of anti-African bias.

“We must remain strong,” chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, a Gambian, told reporters in The Hague this week. “This is a challenge we see now. We will see it more. It is not going to go away.”

To date, all but one of the court’s 10 investigations have been in Africa and its five convicted suspects are from Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Mali.

However, it argues that many of these cases were brought by African governments themselves, not outsiders, and that it has 10 preliminary investigations into alleged atrocities elsewhere in the world, including in Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, the Palestinian Territories and Ukraine.

“Even if half the African countries leave, it would be very unfortunate and damaging to the concept of international justice but it won’t shut the court down,” one ICC official, who did not want to be named, told Reuters.

“This was bound to happen when dictators – for the most part that’s what they are – decide to run for cover.”

*Reuters

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Reporting Africa conference to explore how African media portrays continent
October 12, 2016 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

 

Eric Chinje

Eric Chinje

The African Media Initiative (AMI) will on 10 to 11 November 2016 host the Reporting Africa conference 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya in a bid to explore how  African media covers the continent beyond national borders.

According to Eric Chinje, AMI CEO, the conference will also explore how international media portrays the continent.

The conference will also focus on findings of a research that AMI has carried out on coverage of issues affecting the African continent.

Chinje said that his organisation has made plans for the forthcoming discussion to be graced by some of the top editors from all the 54 African countries.

This is also expected to facilitate wide ranging debate and deliberations on issues related to media coverage of the continent.

This is also expected to chart a new way forward for media organisations in Africa to play a more positive role in the continent’s development agenda.

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NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department to host key stakeholders’ coordination meeting on Abidjan-Lagos and other West African Corridors
September 23, 2016 | 0 Comments

corridor_bko_abj_421378491Abidjan, Côte dIvoire, September 21, 2016 – NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department has convened a two-day meeting on September 27-28, at the African Development Bank (AfDB) headquarters in Abidjan, with development partners, the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), government officials and representatives of customs and revenue authorities to discuss a more coordinated approach to the management of West African corridors.

The two-day event, jointly organized by the AfDB, ECOWAS, the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project, and the NPCA, seeks to bring together all stakeholders, financiers and technicians to help streamline views, review the latest corridor performance metrics and foster synergies and create a platform for better co-ordination and efficiency in West African Corridor development and management.

“This critical meeting is in line with the Bank’s commitment to promote efficient transport corridors in West Africa and support Africa’s regional integration agenda for inclusive economic growth. At the end of the meeting, we hope to be better equipped to improve the conditions of shippers, transporters and traders in West Africa when they engage in cross-border trade,” said Moono Mupotola, Director of the AfDB’s NEPAD Regional Integration and Trade Department.

The meeting will be structured around two key initiatives that aim at promoting dialogue between different stakeholders involved in the projects. The first day will be dedicated to the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor development led by the AfDB, the ECOWAS Commission and the NPCA, while discussions on the Day 2 will focus on the three corridors covered by the Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) project, namely Abidjan-Ouagadougou, Tema-Ouagadougou and Lomé-Ouagadougou.

The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, a flagship project of the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), is the busiest corridor in West Africa. The six-lane, 1,028-kilometre highway will connect Abidjan, Accra, Lomé, Cotonou and Lagos, while serving landlocked countries and ports in the region. The corridor is one of the main economic drivers of West Africa with over 75% of economic activities in the ECOWAS region and a total population of 35 million inhabitants.

Experts agree that support to regional trade and integration in West Africa is substantial but fragmented. The meeting is therefore timely to ensure that the approach to the development of corridors is coherent and inclusive of all key players.

Accelerating Trade in West Africa (ATWA) is an initiative funded by the Danish and Dutch Ministries of Foreign Affairs aiming to establish a durable, multi-donor vehicle dedicated to advancing regional integration, expanding trade and lowering costs along key trade routes in West Africa.

ATWA takes inspiration from East Africa, where eight development partners have pooled their support and established a single non-profit organisation working across the East African Community (EAC) to further its integration agenda. The organisation, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA), is a technical partner of the ATWA Project.

The ATWA Project Team will present analysis detailing the performance of selected West African corridors for formal and informal traders, and seek input from participants as to what activities and programmes could be elaborated to improve the situation.

Given the veritable platform that it promises to be, the AfDB intends to take lead and continually play host to this coordination process in order to streamlining efforts and activities among development partners and other stakeholders in the region.

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