Following a referendum, British-run Southern Cameroons joined the French-speaking Republic of Cameroon in 1961, while Northern Cameroons voted to join English-speaking Nigeria.
Energy Investments And Finance Vital For The African Green Economy.
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Sub-Saharan Africa, South East and Pacific Asia which are Energy poverty impacted Regions need at least 49, 4 billion annually to finance their overall Energy projects and the current spending rotating in these Regions is 9 billion. World Bank has over the past years since 2007 financed 31 billion worth Energy projects in developing countries especially in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In order to monitor the reduction of absolute poverty in the World, there is need to focus strongly on Energy financing in order to develop various energy projects, reduce poverty and win on Sustainable Development Goals particularly Goal number 7 on Energy by 2030.Africa has the big challenge . One of its Investor , African Renewable Energy Fund finances small projects in Hydro-Power , Wind , Solar , Geo-Thermal , Gas and Biomass .It has 10 to 30 million size of Investments , 200 million total fund size with target return of 20% .
Experts in the Energy sector in Zimbabwe have taken a strong move to work towards sustaining energy projects through sourcing finance and calling for Investments to boost the sector. The prevalent rate of climate change in the countries felt elsewhere in the World is fast reducing BIOFUEL ENERGY relied on by 60% of the rural population mainly in developing countries struggling to grapple with solar energy which is cheap, efficient, though insufficient, it is reliable with those who have used it .The strong fact is Solar is renewable, therefore it is of less cost once purchased.
CLEAN ENERGY FOR ALL programs organized by Business Council for Sustainable Development , Practical Action and ZERA[Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority ] held since issues of energy took Centre stage have since short time memorial brought change in the country which is only 40% solar energy dominated according to recent ZERA information on the ground . Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority Chief Executive Officer, said that adequate financial funding is needed to run Sustainable Energy projects in many countries of the World so as to promote a GREEN REVOLUTION which has special focus on clean energy which does not have effects on human lives as far as pollution is concerned.
Air pollution has over the past years affected communities especially in coal mining areas where a number of people have had problems of respiratory and cardio-vascular diseases. .These challenges have as well been experienced in urban areas where after hydro-power blackout is experienced, dwellers pursue alternative energy sources which lead to destruction of the natural environment and turn to massive use of coal which emits unfriendly pollutants affecting people and the atmosphere.
Experts have summed that, though the need for Green Energy for a Green Revolution, funding is not adequate to promote a GREEN REVOLUTION flourish. Glued in the exclusive interview, the expert said Zimbabwe power shortages are indicated by a deficit of 60% .By February 2016 the country was measured producing only 845 mw against a projected national demand 2,200 megawatts and installed capacity of 1,940 megawatts .
‘’There is need for adequate funding buttressed by competent Investors who support the Energy sector which is under-trodden and submerged by anthropogenic factors contributing to climate change and subsequently affecting the earth which now is heavily compromised in terms of its naturalness, beauty, esthetics and bounty wealth of bio-fuel .The urgent need for regeneration of the energy sector through the support of Investors is no doubt a fact on the ground ‘’.
’’Countries of the world still taking development steps in response to Sustainable Development Goals targets need more funding than the current amount so that they can run sustainable projects which can make developing countries in Africa, Asia and some parts of the World see the light of development in a changing world in which clean energy is the right path to go for in a modern World.’’
‘’Clean Energy is environmentally friendly since it does not lead to air pollution which does have negative impacts on the health of the general public. Many forms of energy have led to changes in climate of which resultant adverse effects there-after have led to depletion of the ozone layer. Clean energy solutions today lead us to a habitable disease free world.’ ’posed the Expert .
Further on ,she cited that high cost financing of Infrastructure amounting from 12 billion to 13 billion to lift up Energy project financing in developing countries is vital .She continued that, for these countries to grow, they need to lure Investments from the developed World through implementation of sound policies meant to reduce energy poverty in the developing world.
‘’Funding for the purpose of Economic development is vital because they is need to promote GREEN ECONOMY. Therefore, we need to support GREEN ENERGY projects on the ground so that we can reach targets of GLOBAL ENERGY growth and achieve Sustainable Development Goals of the UNITED NATIONS’’, ’she concluded.
Commenting on the same issue , Patson Mbiriri , Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Energy and Power Development , said , Energy financing was as well delayed by lack of political will in many developing countries like in those where civil strife reduce communities to abject poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa , East and Pacific Asia and in some parts of the World .He added also that lack of expertise and the issue of brain drain has much impacted .
‘’Lack of this political will has much trodden developing countries which even up to now need strong financial support to lift themselves out of absolute poverty . Sustainable Development Goals will lift people in many countries out of poverty like how they have done in developed countries like China, Japan, America and others’’.
‘’Access to energy finance stands vital, hence the reason why Sustainable Development Goals are important. Energy developments over the past decades slackened because Energy was not part of the Millennium Development Goals .The c current Sustainable Development Goals are giving a new image to Energy sources like solar which is are affordable and accessible.
‘’One main important aspect is that of brain drain of African professionals giving their knowledge to greener pastures. The problem is leaving blind spots making management of energy projects a challenge to digest. Also those in leadership at top need more expertise, sensitization and awareness on the importance of energy link to the environment. A green revolution is possible close home if these experts help us with their skills and push for Africa to get Investors. In other words, we are moving slowly towards a GREEN REVOLUTION’’, he said.
Talking on Investor incentives to sustain Energy projects, another Expert in the ENERGY SECTOR, Sustain Ziuke said, incentives are important because Zimbabwe is only 40% covered by solar energy. All in all 80% of energy is urban and 19% is rural. We still have a long way to go . Access to electricity is estimated @ 52% of the total population.
Approximately, 200,000 urban house-holds and 1,2 million rural do not have access to electricity . He expanded by highlighting that there is need to work towards financing of solar since it is cheap and easy to maintain and for developing countries to research and access other Energy types especially in rural areas so that bio-fuel can be saved .
Africa as a whole has those challenges related to energy shortage .There are dangers to the natural environment caused by lack of energy sources. The environment gets deforested without any afforestation, this leading to desertification. Most issues in origin of what is climate change are a result of massive cutting down of trees . This leads to denudation, mass wasting and serious erosion during rainy season, communities later affected by food –insecurity.
‘’Access to Energy types is the challenge in developing countries. Worse still, wood is 80% to 90% in rural areas and 15 to 30% in African urban areas. For Energy development to take place at fast rate in these countries, there is need for GREEN FUNDING, what we call SMART ENERGY for the sustainability of a GREEN WORLD in which humanity is not affected by POLLUTION, especially AIR POLLUTION which result in Respiratory and Cardio-Vascular Diseases, related to heart and Lung cancer ailments, ’he said.
Zimbabwe which still lags behind in Energy development has fuel wood at 60%, liquid fuel 18%, electricity 13% and coal 8%. Although the Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio- Economic Transformation promotes Energy projects sustainability so as to reduce poverty, more than half of its population is living in Energy poverty and needs funding to run such projects.
Many Energy organizations in energy poverty countries have come out with projects which needs sustainable funding . Energy projects in Zimbabwe are run under the theme, CLIMATE FINANCE FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT. Some of them touched on the issue of diesel -50 and how countries can move towards the use of diesel 10 and the use of solar powered vehicles in the future. The issue of climate change brings in today gender dimensions which call the involvement of women in energy issues because they matter most when it comes to sourcing energy in both rural and urban communities.
African Countries Meet To Nip Piracy In The Bud
June 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
Member countries of the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) have met in Harare, Zimbabwe at a two day symposium on copyright and related rights on 12 to 14 June, 2018 to find common ground on combating piracy and shaping copyright and related rights systems on the continent.
The symposium was held under the theme: “Shaping the Copyright and Related Rights System in Africa.”
The Symposium discussed critical copyright issues affecting Africa and explored ways to address copyright in the digital environment for the benefit of the right holders, users, and other stakeholders.
It was attended by at least 65 delegates from 30 countries including experts on Intellectual Property from international organizations like the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) .
Also an Exhibition by the 19 ARIPO member states showcased what is happening in their countries on copyright and related rights.
Officially opening the symposium, Zimbabwe’s Deputy Attorney General, Mr Kumbirai Hodzi a similar symposium was held in 2017 under the same theme and the 2018 symposium sought to take stock on progress that had been made on copyright and related rights systems in Africa.
Mr Hodzi said that intellectual property played a very critical role in the protection and dissemination of knowledge and creative industries have assumed major economic significance that contribute significantly to economies.
He also added that the music industry had potential to contribute meaningfully to African economies buts its protection was lax and piracy was very rampant in most of the countries.
“Although some countries have laws prohibiting infringement, copyright infringement is the order of the day,” Hodzi said.
He cited the example of Zimbabwe, where recently one of the country’s musicians, Alick Macheso released a new album that was launched on 8 June, 2018.
Hodzi said that what was concerning was that before the launch of the album, copies of the musician’s music were already awash in the streets of Harare.
“People do not seem to think twice about sharing the music, yet to Alick Macheso, these are bread and butter issues and he needs to survive, pay his bills and his band together with its management,” Hodzi said.
Hodzi lamented how the same scenario has become the order of the day especially in Africa.
He urged African member states to measure progress on copyright and related rights issues and any change of attitudes following their meetings. He added that the issues of copyright and related rights in Africa need a concerted effort from everyone to include copyright offices, collective management organisations, academics, entrepreneurs and the victims themselves who include artists, among other players.
Hodzi urged member states of the ARIPO to study how developed countries had done it to be successful in protecting copyright and related rights.
“Computer software, multi-media products, music, books and other literary works have made the players rich, created employment and contributed meaningfully to the economies of those countries,” Hodzi said.
According to Hodzi, in 2011, a research was undertaken by Dick Kawooya and others and they published a book on Access to knowledge in Africa: The role of copyright. He said that the research revealed that in all the eight countries were the study was undertaken, all countries had copyright laws that meet and in many cases exceed the minimum international standards reflected in applicable international instruments and agreements.
He also added that findings also revealed that no country studied takes advantage of all, or even most of, the flexibilities that exist in relevant international agreements.
The study is also reported to have highlighted a disconnect between national copyright laws and on the ground practices in all the countries studied. It found that laws and policies governing copyright in most African countries are typically not grounded in the realities of African societies and are largely crafted without sufficient empirical evidence.
“Unfortunately, these findings might be true to this day. It is well known that the copyright environments in our countries is not conducive and currently it doesn’t maximise access and protection of knowledge. But l believe we are capable of changing our situations in order to improve both access and protection of our copyrights,” Hodzi said.
Africa urged to repeal prohibitive age limit laws
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Andreas Thomas
Windhoek – The focus of African youth, with regard to their participation in the political arena is gaining momentum, with recent calls to abolish restrictive laws that are marginalizing young people from fully participating in democratic process.
Young people are vastly under-represented in political decision-making. Although 51% of the world’s population is under 30, young people fewer than 30 accounts for a mere 1.9 per cent of lawmakers worldwide. This is largely due to laws that do not allow young people – although they have the right to vote – to have the right to run for office, according to Inter-Parliamentary Union.
The situation is worse in Africa, where formal political institutions are dominated by elders. Most countries in the continent use archaic legislations that prohibit people under 30 to run for political offices including parliaments.
But the tide is turning in favour of young people. Delegates at the Africa Regional Conference on Financing of Electoral Processes held in Windhoek last week from 6-8 June, have called on countries to re-consider these prohibitive laws.
They said by lowering the minimum age of people to take up political office, will encourage the youth to fully engage in politics and decision making processes.
The conference that was held under the “Inclusive Democracy for Sustainable Development” was attended by representatives from electoral management bodies from 16 African countries.
“We heard from some countries where they have actually reduced the ages for allowing the youth to become members of parliament. And I think one of the question, which was raised here is how electoral management bodies make sure that youth are now more included in the electoral process. Because we see that the youth participation is not always at optimum level, although you find that on the lection registers, on voters roll, probably 40 percent and in some countries you find that 50 percent or even above are youth,” said the ECN Chairperson, Advocate Notemba Tjipueja said on the sideline of the conference.
Former Liberian president Ellen Jonson-Sirleaf also wants to see African countries adopting non-age discriminatory laws. Jonson-Sirleaf noted that some countries in Africa are heading the call, and considering age reduction legislation as most young people taking up leadership roles.
Nigeria has taken a big leap with regard to inclusive political participation, after President Muhammad Buhari signed the ‘Not Too Young To Run Bill into law on May 29, that was hailed in the West African country as a welcoming development.
The law that was passed by the Senate last year, reduces age requirement to run for presidency from 40 to 35, State Governor from 35 to 30, Senator from 35 to 30; House of representatives from 30 to 25 and State House of Assembly from 30 to 25.
While addressing the Namibian Parliamentary Women Caucus and the Standing Committee for Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs in Windhoek on June 5, Johnson-Sirleaf has cautioned African leadership against neglecting its young.
More than 60% of Africa’s population is under 35, and this segment, Johnson-Sirleaf warned that is running out of patience. She said young people are demanding to be part of decision-making process and to benefit from the continent’s immeasurable mineral resources.
“Our continent is young. On average, 60 per cent of our population is 35 years and under, with school leaving increasing the numbers of those that are ready for jobs and job opportunities that are not expanding fast enough to be able to absorb them. That is an issue that is facing different degrees in most of our countries,” the Nobel Peace laureate has cautioned.
“How are they going to be patient enough as we prepare them for leadership and how will some of them respond because they don’t have that patience and want to see themselves progress as they believe the nation should provide them the opportunity?”
Johnson-Sirleaf challenged parliaments to devise strategies that provide solutions issues affecting the youth in Africa.
Johnson-Sirleaf has also encouraged African youth to pull up their sleeves and try improve their conditions.
“The youth must also have responsibility to be on par of the positive changes in societies. To pursue the best education they can, to become excellence in what they do, whether in school, the work they do, to be able to aspire toward what they want to be and to work hard for it,” she advised.
Human Rights In English Speaking Regions:Amnesty Drops The Hammer on Cameroon
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
– Report And Recommendations Were Discussed With Senior Officials At The Presidency – Ilaria Allegrozzi Lake Chad Researcher
By Ajong Mbapndah L
While there may be no official reaction yet from the government of Cameroon on the recent Amnesty International report, Ilaria Allegrozzi, Lake Chad Researcher says the human rights group had very open and productive discussions on the findings with Senior Officials at the Presidency last week.
“We hope that our message and recommendations will be taken on board,” says Allegrozzi whose research shows that people have been caught between two fires, victims of gross abuses by the army and acts of violence committed by armed separatists.
In an exclusive interview with Pan African Visions, Ilaria Allegrozzi says the report was based on interviews with over 150 victims and eye witnesses of the flagrant human right violations such as unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests, torture and destruction of private property.
Rather than resolving the crisis, the heavy handed response by the authorities have only empowered radical violent movements and created a climate of fear, according to the report from Amnesty International. While the report has ample documentation of gross excesses from the military with the burning of whole villages, killings, arbitrary arrest and torture of people in the course of military operations in the Anglophone regions, there are instances where armed separatists are faulted for attacks on security forces, state emblems schools and ordinary people.
“We did not ask the question about conditions for peace but noted that the majority of them said that they won’t return unless there’s an independent state of Ambazonia ,” Allegrozzi said in response to what it will take for normalcy to return. Amnesty will continue to closely monitor developments and do follow up with Cameroon and international partners on its recommendations, Allegrozzi said.
Thanks for accepting to discuss the recent Amnesty Report on Cameroon (A Turn for the worse), can you start with the numbers, those killed, number of refugees and other vital statistics that you found in your research?
We did not compile any statistics registering the no of people (general population) killed; we have compiled stats registering the no of security forces (policemen, gendarmes, soldiers) killed by armed separatists since Sept 2017 to day and it is 44. 44 might well be an underestimation and we believe the number is higher. We also came up with stats registering the number of schools attacked by armed separatists. It’s 42 of which 36 burnt, the remaining either partially or totally destroyed. For this figure too, we think we might have underestimated the number of attacks. However, we only wanted to go public with the figures we were sure about 100 per 100. In terms of refugees (Anglophone Cameroonian requesting asylum in Nigeria): the official figures put out by the UN refugee agency (UNHCR) at May 2018 are of 20.400 (note this figure includes only those officially registered by UNHCR; in addition we believe there are at least some other 10.000 scattered around Nigeria in various isolated areas). Most of the refugees settled in cross river state, Nigeria; but some also are found in Benue state, the capital Abuja, Lagos and elsewhere. Note that those who fled (mostly last year and especially after Sept-Oct 2017 and after Dec. 2017) and are settled in cross river state are mostly from the SW region, from villages and cities very near to the border. There are also other people in the North and South West Regions who fled, but internally, within Cameroon. The no of IDPs (internally displaced people) in the North and South West regions is estimated at 160.000 (possibly underestimation). 160.000 is a figure put out by UN humanitarian agencies in Cameroon.
Often times , the government and its supports cast doubts on the work and reports of Amnesty International, how was this research done and what measures did you take to ensure the findings were indisputable on facts and accuracy?
We always stand by our findings. Our methodology is thorough and evidence solid. We have interviewed over 150 victims and eye-witnesses to Human Right violations by the security forces and acts of violence by the armed separatists, as well as families of victims, and a wide range of key informants from different sectors (lawyers, journalists, religious and traditional leaders, academics, human rights defenders, members of civil society, political leaders and activists within the separatist movement and groups, national and international human rights and security experts, and staff of the United Nations, INGOs). In addition we have collected, analyzed and verified material evidence, including videos, photographs, med records, court docs and sat imagery.
What are some of the reactions you have received since the report was published, while it heavily indicts the government and its military for its excesses, it equally says armed separatist groups carried out violent attacks on the security forces, your take on reactions.
We are still waiting for the official reaction of the government. We were able to visit Cameroon last week and met with the Director of the Civil Cabinet at the presidency. We shared the findings of the report. The discussion was open and productive. We hope that our messages and recommendations will be taken on board.
When doing your research and producing the report, does Amnesty International take into account the notion of self defence? When you have villages razed down as described by you, people arrested and tortured, how do you expect them to react?
Our research looks at the human rights impact of the crisis. We focused on the violence and human rights violations against the general population. Our research shows that the people have been caught between two fires, victims of the abuses by the army and the acts of violence committed by the armed separatists.
We see instances where you mentioned schools been burnt down by separatist groups, did you not find it curious that even some of the schools heavily guarded by the army were still destroyed? In this case how do you attribute the destruction to separatist groups as you describe them?
The cases we documented have been carefully verified. We have no doubt that all the cases we documented of attacks on schools were carried out by armed separatists. Sometimes it was difficult to attribute responsibility of attacks to specific separatists groups, some individuals acting in support of the general cause (armed struggle + secession) but failing to specifically mention which group they belong to. In our new briefing, we used the phrase “self-proclaimed armed separatists” to describe a spectrum of groups embracing an armed struggle for secession from Cameroon in order to create an independent state of “Ambazonia”. One of the most prominent groups, as you know, is the Ambazonia Defense Forces (ADF), which emerged in early 2017. But there are numerous other groups which also claim to be in active armed struggle in different locations across the North and South West regions, which appear heterogeneous and splintered in nature, often acting at local levels, in the absence of a coordinated, unified structure and political leadership. We have documented violence perpetrated by individuals or groups of individuals, who acted on their own initiative, but having expressed support to or known by their communities as acting in sympathy with a self-proclaimed armed group or the armed struggle for secession.
Under what conditions are refugees both in Nigeria and those spread across the country living?
The humanitarian situation of refugees is of concern but not catastrophic (compared to other humanitarian emergencies). Lots of solidarity from Nigerian families offering shelter, food, water. The question is how long is this sustainable for? Durable solutions need to be found to ensure refugees’ needs are addressed and conditions for their return are met.
For the refugees in Nigeria, what international protections or protocols cover them, was the Nigerian government right in arresting and deporting Ayuk Tabe and others from Southern Cameroons who sought refuge there?
We have called on the government of Nigeria to respect its international obligations with respect to the rights of refugees, as per the 1951 UN refugee convention which Nigeria has duly ratified. We have condemned the extradition of Ayuk Tabe and the other 46 Anglophones. We are calling on the government of Cameroon to reveal their whereabouts, provide them access to lawyers/families/doctors, and stop their illegal-arbitrary-incommunicado detention. As you know the risk of torture is very high when people are detained in secret. We have widely documented the systematic use of torture by Cameroonian security forces and intelligent services in illegal detention facilities, including military bases.(see report Secret torture chamber released last year in July).
A number of people from the North West and South West Regions have been handed lengthy jail sentences, what do you make of the way the judicial process in Cameroon is working in this time of crisis?
We have condemned the arbitrary arrest and detention of hundreds of people arrested since the beginning of last year in the context of peaceful demonstrations, security operations, etc. We have called on authorities to make sure arrests and detentions are conducted in compliance with international human rights and domestic law, and ensure all security forces are trained on and understand these norms. We also asked them to ensure that there are sufficient, recognizable and precise grounds for arrest and that evidence is appropriately gathered. A suspect must only be arrested if there is a reasonable suspicion that he or she may have committed a crime. If there are insufficient grounds for arrest, the person must be immediately released. Also we have recommended authorities to ensure that detainees are promptly brought before an independent civilian court that upholds international fair-trial standards, are informed of the charges against them, and have knowledge of and access to legal procedures allowing them to challenge the legality of their detention. As we have largely documented in the context of the fight against Boko Haram (we have observed dozens of trial proceedings at the military courts, including the trial of Mr Felix Agbor Balla, Mr Fontem and other Anglophones), we believe that there are several challenges for the Cameroonian justice system.
LACK OF INDEPENDENCE OF MILITARY COURTS – Military trials in Cameroon are heard by three people: the tribunal president, who is a military or civilian judge, and two military officers. While the tribunal president is trained in the law, the two military officers lack legal training. The lack of independence and impartiality of military courts raises serious due process concerns. Because such courts belong to the executive rather than the judicial branch of government, and are generally staffed by military officers subservient to the executive, they typically have an institutional tendency to defer to the executive’s dictates. Recognizing military courts’ inherent bias, the Principles on Fair Trial in Africa state that they “should not in any circumstances whatsoever have jurisdiction over civilians.” In addition, human rights mechanisms such as the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention have stated categorically that military courts should not be authorized to impose the death penalty.183 Amnesty International considers that the jurisdiction of military courts should be limited to trials of military personnel for breaches of military discipline.
THIN AND UNRELIABLE EVIDENCE Perhaps the most serious failing in many of the proceedings we observed is the lack of solid evidence implicating the defendants. For the cases involving Boko Haram suspects, for ex, the evidence presented by the prosecution is in the form of written affidavits included in the case file, frequently from unnamed—and thus, to the defence, unknown—sources. The prosecution often relies heavily on circumstantial evidence that might plausibly raise a suspicion of criminal activity, but which should not be sufficient to support a conviction.
How do you sum up the mindsets of the 150 victims and eye witnesses that you spoke to when it comes to lasting solutions to the crisis? At least to the majority of people you spoke to what are the prerequisites for peace?
We did not ask the question about conditions for peace. We noted that the majority of them said that they won’t return unless there’s an independent state of Ambazonia (!)
Drawing from lessons from other parts of Africa and the world, why do you think the international has remained largely indifferent to the crisis in Cameroon, how bad does it have to get before more is done on their part to help in finding solutions?
We do not believe the international community has remained indifferent. On the contrary, it did mobilized and was at times vocal. This is definitely thanks also to the powerful diaspora, how it played out its messages and sometimes its propaganda. We think that there was definitely less attention about the Boko haram conflict, despite the scale, amount, gravity of HR violations committed by the security forces in the fight against Boko haram was way bigger than what we have seen in the N and S west.
What were some of the challenges involved in the production of the reports, how risky was it for those providing you information or associates of yours in the country who participated in compiling the report?
Access to the South and North West was limited / restricted and we had to find alternative/creative ways to collect and verify info, using for example satellite imagery to assess the scale of destruction of certain villages, as we were not able to go physically there
What next for Amnesty International in Cameroon after this report?
We’ll continue to monitor the situation on the ground, collect info about human rights violations and violence. We will follow up on the recommendations outlined in the report with both the Cameroonian authorities and the international partners of Cameroon, through advocacy, campaigning and lobbying.
Cameroon military and separatists fuel ‘cycle of violence’, says Amnesty
June 13, 2018 | 0 Comments
Escalating violence in Cameroon has led to armed separatists and security forces attacking and torturing people in the country’s Anglophone regions, according to a new report by Amnesty International.
“They tied our hands behind our backs, gagged us and tied our faces with our towels and shorts, which they tore. They, then made us lie in the water, face down for about 45 minutes,” a man, one of 23 people detained in the South-West region’s town of Dadi, told Amnesty of the alleged torture he experienced at the hands of military.
“During three days, they beat us with shovels, hammers, planks, and cables, kicked us with their boots and poured hot water on us… when I tried to move and shouted, one of them used the cigarette he was smoking to burn me.”
A teacher from a government school in the North-West region – one of the two mainly English-speaking areas where activists are demanding independence – told Amnesty how armed separatists raided the school and shot him in the leg.
“The assailant […] told me that I was still coming to school in defiance of calls for a schools boycott. He then asked me to raise my hands, but before I could do so, he shot me. I fell to the ground,” the teacher said.
These are some of the 150 accounts, from victims and eye-witnesses, documented by Amnesty about conflict in the Central African nation.
The mainly English-speaking the North-West and South West have been gripped by unrest since activists stepped up their campaign for independence in 2016.
They claim the country’s French-speaking majority is marginalising the English-speaking minority.
Amnesty alleges the ensuing government crackdown and unrest has gradually turned into an armed conflict, leaving the general population at the whim of two opposing forces.
“People in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are in the grip of a deadly cycle of violence,” Samira Daoud, Amnesty’s deputy director for the region, said in a statement.
“Their [government] heavy-handed response will do nothing to calm the violence – in fact it is likely to further alienate Anglophone communities and fuel further unrest,” she said.
“Security forces have indiscriminately killed, arrested and tortured people during military operations which have also displaced thousands of civilians,” Ms Daoud added.
The report alleges the military destroyed villages. It also claims detainees were blindfolded and severely beaten with wires, sticks, guns and wires, “as well as being electrocuted and burnt with hot water”, the report says.
Didier Badjeck, an army spokesman, dismissed Amnesty’s claims of torture and violence as “rumours”.
Armed separatists are also accused by Amnesty of killing 44 security force members and attacking dozens of schools between February 2017 and May 2018 in a bid to “strike fear amongst the population”.
Teachers and students are being targeted for not participating in the boycott of schools seen by many as a symbol of how the English language has been marginalised by the authorities, Amnesty says.
Separatists have gone “as far as burning down schools and targeting teachers who did not enforce the boycott,” Ms Daoud said.
Amnesty also documented five attacks on traditional chiefs, accused of sympathising with the government.
The rights’ group says authorities have to protect the general population by ensuring “accountability for crimes committed by the security forces as well as by the armed separatists”.
“They must immediately end the use of unlawful, unnecessary and excessive force and ensure that people are protected,” the report said.
Cameroon’s President Paul Biya has condemned “all acts of violence, regardless of their sources and their perpetrators,” in a 2017 Facebook post.
Cameroon was colonised by Germany and then split into British and French areas after World War One.
Nigeria World Cup 2018 Team Guide
June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
It’s the sixth time Nigeria is competing in the tournament, which makes the Super Eagles a regular World Cup player, only missing out on one tournament since 1994.
While drawing a tough qualifying group, the Super Eagles captain John Obi Mikel (30) and midfielder Victor Moses (26) helped the team with wins over Zambia, Cameroon and Algeria but due to poor display in previous years, Nigeria – which is ranked number 50 on the list of international teams – was placed in a weaker pot at the draw held in Russia, and ended up in a group with Croatia, Island and Argentina.
Since Gernot Rohr took charge of the Super Eagles in 2016, the team have progressively grown in team spirit and discipline. The unity fostered in the squad has seen Nigeria adopt a strong mentality that allows them to flourish against the odds. This young team bear the imprint of their manager, who has designed a resilient counterattacking side capable of surprises at the World Cup.
Let’s take a look at Nigeria’s World Cup squad and the other things it will be handy to know.
Nigeria’s World Cup squad – the 23 names
Goalkeepers: Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba), Francis Uzoho (Deportivo La Coruna), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United).
Defenders: Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor), Tyronne Ebuehi (Den Haag), Elderson Echiejile (Brugge), Bryan Idowu (Amkar Perm), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes), William Ekong (Bursaspor), Leon Balogun (Brighton), Kenneth Omeruo (Kasimpasa).
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Tianjin TEDA), Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester), Oghenekaro Etebo (Las Palmas), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva), Joel Obi (Torino).
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester), Victor Moses (Chelsea), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Simeon Nwankwo (Crotone)
If you’re still looking to witness the action live in Russia, you can buy cheap flights from Travelstart your one-stop online travel shop. Although Rohr has tried different formations – including a 3-5-2 used in November’s 4-2 triumph over Argentina – it is clear that he will opt for his trusted 4-2-3-1, based on defensive flexibility and effective counter-attacking football. The strength of the Super Eagles is pinned on the individual brilliance of a few.
The strong and dynamic midfield of the Super Eagles led by captain John Obi Mikel and Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi, paired with the attacking power of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho, are talented enough to ensure that Nigeria advances from the group stage of the competition.
Djibouti’s many international investment projects set a new pace for economic emergence
June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
|Djibouti hopes to reach a rapid and equitable solution that is in accordance with the law|
DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti, June 12, 2018/ — On 22 February, the Republic of Djibouti (www.Presidence.dj) terminated the DCT (Doraleh Container Terminal) concession, in which DP World is a shareholder and operator. This decision was taken after numerous unsuccessful attempts to get DP World to renegotiate a contract that was clearly contrary to the fundamental interests of the nation.
This termination is a sovereign decision, part of a legal procedure, and executed at the end of a transparent process. It was instigated by an unfair and unbalanced contract, the clauses of which imposed unacceptable limits on Djibouti’s development policy. The decision is linked to an exceptional and aberrant situation that by no means calls into question the strength or credibility of the signature of the Republic of Djibouti.
The decree terminating the concession, as well as the law governing it, provide for a compensation procedure in accordance with commonly accepted international rules and practices. This compensation procedure will continue, despite the obvious unwillingness of the former partner. Djibouti hopes to reach a rapid and equitable solution that is in accordance with the law.
The termination of the contract has in no way stopped port operators from expressing their confidence and interest in the new public structure that has taken over its management – SGTD (Doraleh Container Terminal Management Company). Singaporean ship-owner PIL signed an agreement in March to triple transshipment traffic handled by the terminal. Numerous discussions are underway with other major players in the sector. The port’s productivity has undergone a marked increased since its operation was placed in the hands of its Djiboutian managers.
Djibouti’s scope and ambition goes way beyond the success of Doraleh port. Major investments are ongoing and the amounts committed attest to the confidence of international partners: the Djibouti-Addis-Ababa railway line, Tadjourah mineral port, Goubet port, Doraleh multipurpose port, the start of construction work on the new Djibouti mega free zone in Khor Ambado and the launch of the Damerjog industrial development free zone, etc. One of the more recent agreements is for an ambitious energy sector project. The first phase provides for the commissioning of a gas pipeline between Ethiopia’s Ogaden Basin natural gas fields and the coast of Djibouti. The second phase concerns the construction and operation of a natural gas liquefaction plant and a gas terminal in the Damerjog area, all privately financed by the mega project’s developer, China’s POLY-GCL Petroleum Group Holdings Limited, to the tune of US$4 billion.
These major projects are being undertaken within a particularly attractive macroeconomic and regulatory framework. Economic growth is expected to remain at high levels – around 7% for 2018 and 2019 – making Djibouti one of Africa’s top ten economies in terms of growth. The Djiboutian Franc is a stable currency, pegged to the US dollar, freely convertible (without restriction) and its exchange rate has remained unchanged since 1973.
The sustainability of these investments is buoyed by the Republic of Djibouti’s ambition and by excellent medium- and long-term prospects, since Djibouti is strategically located at the crossroads of one of the busiest shipping routes in the world, linking Europe, the Far East, the Horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf. Quite naturally, Djibouti positions itself as the main gateway to East Africa, and particularly Ethiopia, an emerging nation of 100 million people and the Republic of Djibouti’s leading strategic partner. While maintaining very close relations with its other traditional partners, Djibouti is linked to China’s big New Silk Road development strategy. In reality, Djibouti is the entry point to a formidable logistics corridor designed to serve an emerging African continent.
Djibouti’s investment ambitions are being rolled out in a context of optimal security. Its solid institutions guarantee stability and visibility in an often difficult regional context. It is a welcoming land where dialogue is key. The country’s respect for its international commitments since its independence has made it a reliable and respected player in the concert of nations. Djibouti is an essential partner for peace, and a stalwart in the fight against terrorism and piracy, hosting on its territory American, Chinese, French, Japanese, European (Operation Atalanta) and Saudi military bases. Thus Djibouti ensures the de facto safety of the world’s main shipping route through which 70% of international traffic passes.
African Innovators’ Closing Call to Action from Africa Innovation Summit 2018: “Africans Must Throw Out the Boxes that Have Caged Them.”
June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
|AIS 2018 focused on innovative and disruptive solutions to the major challenges facing African countries, which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance|
| KIGALI, Rwanda, June 11, 2018/ — The Africa Innovation Summit (AIS) (www.AfricaInnovationSummit.com) closed on Friday with a resonating call to action addressed to innovators, government leaders, private sector, civil society and academia: “Let us throw out the boxes that have caged us”. The overwhelming view of the Summit was that in order to nurture, empower and propel African innovators and their solutions forward, a multi-sectorial and multi-stakeholder approach must be taken to ensure policies, investments and enabling ecosystems are put in place to support African innovation without apology or hesitation.
Some of the Summit’s themes, which were explored in action-oriented workshops from 6-8 June 2018, included the following, to mention a few:
Speaking about the role of government, Mr Carlos Lopes, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), said: “It is not a question of knowing what is right but doing what is right. We need to be tough with our leaders. It is a pre-condition for change. We have a wave of transformation in Africa. There is political will to translate Africa’s dreams into practical tools. We need to harness our negative energy and change it into dynamism.”
From 600 applications of the 44 countries, a selected group of 50 innovators had a unique opportunity to engage stakeholders in discussing potential solutions to some of the blockages that are preventing solutions from going to scale.
Lowell Scarr, one of the 50 innovators at AIS 2018, has been studying and working in the insect industry, and is currently living in Grahamstown in South Africa. His innovation, Nambu, proposes a solution by bridging challenges in the Agriculture and Food Security sector. Nambu transforms food waste into animal feed as “30% of the food is wasted in South Africa” and there is an “increase in animal feed shortage”. Scarr said that the biggest challenges he encountered as an innovator was being able to “overcome fear and getting it done”, adding that it is not always about the lack of financial resources but more about “finding the time to do it and getting into the right mind-set”.
Francis Nderitu Mwangi, top 50 innovator with his solution, Vakava Quickgold, which provides unbreakable cold chains in agriculture from post-harvest to the last mile by storing cold energy in dry ice batteries that do not need to rely on any external power sources, outlined one of the challenges innovators face in Africa: “I feel like there’s some sort of discrimination towards the local innovators. Our own African investors tend to invest in foreign innovations. There are also infrastructure issues, as rural Africa does not have good connectivity and is therefore not able to receive our network.”
AIS 2018 focused on innovative and disruptive solutions to the major challenges facing African countries, which include energy access, water, food insecurity, health systems, and governance. As a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue and actions, AIS is Africa’s only summit on innovation that seeks to foster action-driven dialogue between African innovators and stakeholders in Government, private sector, civil society and academia to ensure African solutions are concretely given the opportunity to scale in a measurable way. The summit has also created a community of innovators that will not only meet to dialogue on solutions but also create ecosystems that will enable them to share ideas and network beyond the summit.
In his final call to action, Dr. Olugbenga Adesida, co-Director of AIS, calls for a bolder imagination about the future by Africans and a sense of urgency around Africa’s transformation. He noted that innovation is a pre-requisite for Africa’s transformation and that all stakeholders must engage to facilitate greater collaboration. Africa must ensure greater self-reliance by mobilizing domestic funding to promote innovation and support our innovators; The future belongs to them. We must build robust ecosystems for innovation in our respective countries on the continent. Africa cannot simply be consumers, nor can it outsource its development. We all must engage with a new sense of urgency to facilitate change!
The presence of the Top 50 African Innovators in Kigali was made possible by the sponsorship of the European Union Commission. Other key partners and sponsors included the Government of Rwanda, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Government of Luxemburg, NEPAD Agency, the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA), Afreximbank, the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA), YAS (UNDP & Accenture), Usawa.io, BADEA, PATH, International IDEA, OIF Ethiopia Airlines and Turkish Airlines.
The AIS (www.AfricaInnovationSummit.com) is an Africa-wide and home grown initiative aimed at harnessing the innovation potential of the continent. It aims to mobilize people with the ‘power to act’, including investors, innovators, policy makers, researchers and academics, the business community, the youth, as well as thought leaders and thinkers into a coalition for collective action to promote and build an enabling environment for innovation in Africa. The goal is to engage as many people as possible in order to build a broad constituency in support of innovation in Africa.
The AIS platform includes regular Summits to promote dialogue, facilitate exchange of best practices among stakeholders and African countries, showcase what is happening on the continent, and share lessons of experience. The platform also includes engaging with African researchers and scholars to undertake case studies to tease out lessons of experience in order to facilitate learning by stakeholders. The African Innovation Exhibit which is also part of the AIS provides a stage to showcase homegrown innovations and innovators on the continent, while the Hackathons will challenge the people to come up with solutions to specific problems. The exhibitions and hackathons will allow stakeholders to seek ways to scale up potential solutions.
Each AIS will build on the previous ones by deepening the dialogue, engaging a wider number of stakeholders, as well as focusing Africa’s innovation potential to address the challenges facing the continent. The aims are to identify path breaking ideas and disruptive solutions to be developed and/scaled up in Africa as well as build a constituency to help address the fundamental challenges facing the continent.
Global Standards Of Economic Development Can Only Be Reached Through Regional Integration And Partnerships In Africa.
June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Trade and Economic Development in the African Region must be put on the fore-front through Regional Integration and policy development. Despite the fact of some economic improvements in the African Region, Integration, policy development and Information dissemination gaps must be closed so as to further improve some dark areas especially on Information dissemination that has lagged behind on issues related to Trade and Development and Regional Integration at continental level.
Addressing a pack of 30 Journalists from the African Region recently in South Africa, Cape Town, Trade Law Centre Executive Director Trudi Hartzenburg said it is vital for Journalists who report on Economic issues to dwell on the subject of Trade and Development and far fetch information on Regional Integration.
‘’African Countries are forging ahead with the times in Economic Development , Trade and Law and on Integration issues , but however , there is need for more information to highlight dark areas of gaps which need to be addressed in order to stir more change .
‘’For countries to improve on the development of their economies, more information dissemination is vital throughout the African Region. In addition to that Trade policies, Laws, frameworks and strategies must be articulated correctly.
‘These instruments from the International level, Regional to National level must address core issues for Economic Development. There-fore, media plays a role in fostering economic Development through information dissemination at all levels of concern.
Reporting for Economic Development is key since Africa is still with many developing countries with low Gross Domestic Products and Low Income per-capita due to low levels of Domestic Exports. Many countries in the African Region have seen the green light in Economic Development because of Regional organizations impacts on Trade .
Some of these important organizations are the then Southern African Development Co-ordination Conference [SADCC][ which later was changed to SADC , COMESA , Preferential Trade Agreements [PTA] , Southern Africa Customs Union [SACU] , ECOWAS , East African Community [EAC] and those surrounding Africa like European Union [EU] ,World Trade Organization[WTO] , NATO and African Caribbean and the Pacific [ACP] .
‘’African countries can only see the green light through smart Regional partnerships , however linking on Trade issue with the outside of Africa , help countries to develop themselves . Regional Integration must move further to define itself out of the African box to join with the World Trade Organization. Such partnerships make countries achieve on Sustainable Development Goals in line with poverty reduction through Regional co-operation, Integration and policy development at International levels.
‘’One important critical organization to work with is the International Trade organization WTO]. It is pathetic to note that out of 54 countries in the African Region , only a few have over the recent years been affiliated to World Trade Organization which by then had only 164 countries , some of them , the developed countries of the World .
‘’That is one main reason why we are behind the camera of economic development. African countries shun some of the most important economic activities at the expense of its population. Besides, this is true as well with other countries like in some parts of Asia , Europe and Latin America .
‘’Instead of talking of Regional Integration , we are supposed to talk about Global Integration , looking at how possibly we can shoulder up and grapple challenges of poverty and less growth in Gross and National Domestic Product . As well, we need more of Global Integration, policy development and improvements in Law issues related to Trade so that we can move ahead with the times’’ , Trudi elucidated .
Trudi also touched on issues as well on Preferential Trade Agreements which focus on trade agreements in the area of Trade and Development. Such advantageous preferences are related to zero or low tariffs when countries are in trade issues. A good example is the Generalized Tariffs countries in the developed world grant in form of preferential tariffs so that they may have imports from developing countries.
Professor Gerhard Erasmus added that zero and low tariffs improve on issues in trade there-by facilitating fast development. The link and friendly co-operation of countries according to Professor Gerhard is an advantage to those in the developing world, but there is need for the developed world to work in unison with the developing ones so that economic growth can easily be realized without any difficulties at all.
‘’Agreements in trade are very important as long as they last and bring the desired goals of economic development meant to improve on the lives of the general population in the World. As long countries are in agreements, they foster economic growth to regional levels, and then there is need for further developments ascending to regional and international heights.
‘’Thus why some countries have gone up in short periods of the decades passed. It is because of Trade Agreements meant to foster economic development at national to regional until it’s at international levels ‘’
‘’Economic growth ‘is spearheaded by policy development at all levels with the interventions of frameworks and strategies building up on better relationships. Some countries have focused more on policy, research for economic development aligning relationships and affiliating memberships at regional levels.
‘’At last they made their way into becoming fast developing countries until they became recognized at global levels. But, it needs our effort and strength to stimulate Investments through policy development. Through the African Continental Free Trade Area , some economies have molded to better strength in Trade with their partners.
Giving his echoes in the vibrancy of more sentiments in an exclusive interview in Harare Dr Prosper Chitambira , Labour and Economic Development Research in Zimbabwe [LEDRIZ][ Economic Advisor said Southern Africa Customs Union is a force to reckon with because these states implement a common tariff imports from outside the region. This, he added on, forms a common customs territory under which issues pertaining to their challenges are equally addressed at regional level.
‘’This is a pool of customs and revenue seen also as an anvil to the development of key policies for better economies to be developed through integration and partnerships in Trade and Development .The common policies swim in strategic areas like in Industrial development for economic growth looking specifically 3 main sectors of the economy, Agriculture , Mining , and Manufacturing Industry .
‘’Apart from that , the union removes out signs of un-fair trade practices which hinder economic development for growth at national and regional level .
‘’Countries in the Region must address their thorny issues through Regional integration and economic co-operation. It is vital to merge countries, make them share and remove obstacles which hinder economic development through policy and better economic networks. Economic development is shown by Industrial development descending low absolute poverty levels. From above , high levels of employment indicates social and economic change with time in any part of the region’’, he took head on to a close . .
SACU SOUTHERN AFRICA CUSTOMS UNION is comprised of Southern African countries like South Africa , , Botswana , Namibia , Lesotho and Swaziland .SACU was established in order to enable member states to implement a common external tariff on imports from outside the territory . The four day workshop had media practitioners from South AFRICA , Zimbabwe , Namibia , Ethiopia , Madagascar and Rwanda .
Africa could still rely on foreign aid if it doesn’t fight its illicit financial flows
June 12, 2018 | 0 Comments
NAIROBI June 11,2018-African continent is likely to be subjected to reliance on the ‘unpredictable’ foreign aid unless its over 50 countries agree on a multi-agency collaboration to investigate and fight illicit financial flows, a taco of fences and other financial crimes training conference in Nairobi has been told.
Kenya:Woman accuses Landlord for abducting her children
June 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Ms. Rahama Harrow, 48, had gone to court to bar her landlord, Warsame Yusuf, from evicting her for failing to pay rent. The Rent Restriction Tribunal in Nairobi reprieved her by extending the eviction period to June 30.
One week after the court battle, it is said that a group of men armed with crude weapons invaded the single mother’s resident, kidnapped her daughters-Mulki Abdullahi, 17, and Imran Abdullahi, 14, bundled them into a vehicle and sped off.
“When I came home and found them missing, I searched everywhere, but all was in vain. I went to upcountry in case the girls travelled to visit relatives, but I came empty handed. I have been to hospitals, mortuaries and prisons, “said Harrow.
After her fruitless search, she reported the case to the police station on March 29. However, her move exasperated the feud. That evening she was locked out of her house and had to seek police intervention.
“I got a big padlock at the gate and on my door. I informed the chief who summoned Yusuf, but he failed to show up. Immediately i sought the police’s help. They broke the padlocks allowing me to access my house,” said the mother of seven.
Her firstborn son, Abdijabar Billow, was forced to sleep in the family car which was parked outside the compound, when he found the gate locked for the second time. In the middle of the night a group of armed men whom she suspected to have abducted her daughters tried to gain access to her house but failed. Since then, Abdijabar and the family car have not been missing.
Harrow claims that her children might have been killed and buried by the goons sent by Yusuf. “He intimidated me and said that because I won in court on the eviction notice, he would find other ways of dealing with me. He might have decided to take away my children to punish me,” said Harrow. She accused the police for laxity citing no move has been taken since she reported her case.
In response, Yusuf has disputed her allegations, labeling her a bother and troublemaker. He further accused her for propagating lies in order to get sympathy from the court.
“I am not aware of her children whereabouts. I am not responsible. She owes me five months of rent, which is why I want to evacuate her. I know she is causing trouble so that she gets an extension on the eviction,” reiterated the irate landlord.
Mixed reactions have risen from Harrow’s neighbours, with some attributing her woes to her bad behaviours while some have shifted blames to Yusuf for attempting to illegally kick her out.
Momentous days in Ethiopia as new PM pledges major reforms
June 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
From the surprise acceptance of a peace agreement with bitter rival Eritrea, to the opening of major state-owned sectors to private investment, plus the release of thousands of prisoners including opposition figures once sentenced to death, the 42-year-old Abiy Ahmed has kept Africa’s second most populous country buzzing.
On Tuesday alone, Parliament kicked off by lifting the state of emergency imposed in response to the protests demanding greater freedoms that began more than two years ago. It marked the most dramatic change yet under Abiy’s rule.
By nightfall there was bigger news: the prospect of peace with neighboring Eritrea after nearly two decades of border skirmishes and a two-year war.
Almost as an afterthought came word that Ethiopia, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, was opening state-owned enterprises in aviation, telecommunications and more to foreign investment or outright privatization. That opens the door for stakes in globally successful Ethiopian Airlines and Africa’s largest telecom company by subscribers, Ethio Telecom.
“Now I need to take an umbrella when I get into a shower so that I can grab my phone and follow these rounds of breaking news items,” joked one Ethiopian, Firew Megersa, on Facebook.
The new prime minister has dined with opposition leaders, named new army and intelligence chiefs and suggested that his own position should have term limits. He’s visited Saudi Arabia and secured promises that thousands of Ethiopians detained as illegal migrants would be released. He’s made new port agreements with neighbors along one of the world’s busiest shopping lanes.
In a colorful sign of his ambitions, Abiy even hinted that landlocked Ethiopia would revive its navy.
Citizens of the East African nation where the government once shut off social media to dampen criticism now find themselves expressing opinions without fear. The return of stability to a key Western security ally in a region with turbulent neighbors like Somalia and South Sudan has some breathing more easily.
Despite the whirlwind of change, many wonder just how far reforms can go in a country where the ruling coalition still holds every seat in Parliament and opposition has been punished.
“The language the prime minister is using is very conducive for coming closer, to listen to each other. But for an actual political engagement in the country you need a number of practical things to happen,” said Andargachew Tsige, an Ethiopia-born Briton and opposition leader who was snatched by Ethiopian intelligence agents in Yemen in 2014 and sent to death row.
Andargachew’s freedom last month, along with the release of a photo showing him and Abiy in the prime minister’s office, captivated many Ethiopians.
Despite his turn of fortune, Andargachew told The Associated Press: “We need to see on-the-ground concrete measures, not only releasing political prisoners, not only making good speeches.” Ethiopia needs independent institutions, he said.
While Abiy’s rise to power has led to a dramatic decrease in protests, critics say what he has done so far is simply “putting out fires.”
“Up until now I haven’t seen any policy direction from the new leader on how to solve Ethiopia’s chronic problems, like setting up an equal, competing space for all political parties and directions regarding the country’s macro- and microeconomic path,” said opposition politician Yilikal Getnet. Ethiopia suffers from massive debt and faces an acute foreign exchange crisis after exports fell short of targets.
Even the new prime minister’s popularity could turn out to be risky in a country with a history of long-ruling authoritarian leaders, Yilikal said.
“I agree his speeches are conciliatory but at the same time I see a tendency of slipping back into dictatorship, with both state and private media delving into creating a cult of personality around the new leader,” Yilikal said.
For now, some observers once alarmed by Ethiopia’s unrest have started to soften their tone.
“We are encouraged by recent developments,” said U.S. Embassy spokesman Nick Barnett, adding the U.S. is ready to support all efforts to build a “more representative political system.” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the U.N. human rights office, said she had witnessed “tremendous hope” among civil society activists, traditional leaders and others.
The new prime minister “can’t change every individual’s life, but he is setting up the ground for changes to happen and create a national consensus among all Ethiopians,” said Seyoum Teshome, a prominent blogger who was arrested twice under the state of emergency.