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Environmental Management Agency most open institution in Zimbabwe,survey reveals
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

A recent survey has revealed that the Environmental Management Agency (EMA)   is the most open institution in Zimbabwe according to MISA Zimbabwe’s 2020 Transparency Assessment findings while Chitungwiza Municipality is the most secretive.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Regional), has been conducting research and studies since 2009 to establish the difficulty with which citizens in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) can access public information.

The study is also part of commemorations for the International Day for Universal Access to Information which is marked every year on 28 September. It also based on the findings of assessments on whether public institutions proactively make relevant information available online in the form of websites or social media accounts.

It further evaluates to what degree information is made available to citizens upon request.

EMA was assessed as the most open institution after being assessed as being active on social media and maintaining a “partially” up to date website. Although the institution was unable to provide information that had been requested, they explained their reasons.

Chitungwiza Municipality did not respond to the requests for information. A senior official stated that they did not receive the request and recommended that the requests be resubmitted through email.

Other organisations that were surveyed are; Chipinge Rural District Council, Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mutare City Council and Zimbabwe School Examinations Council.

Regionally, similar studies were conducted in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia.

Given the limited timeframe for the survey and the COVID-19 restrictions, it was not feasible to effectively test the new Freedom of Information Act and survey all organisations as originally planned.

However, it is trite to note that the culture and practice of acknowledging receipt of information requests, as opposed to providing the information sought, is still a challenge in some organisations. Targeted institutions do not always notify the requester when they receive the information request letter, but only acknowledge receipt upon physical follow-up visits to their offices.

Meanwhile, of the 10 organisations surveyed, the following had no functional websites (at the time the study was conducted), Chipinge Rural District Council, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises and Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

Although six organisations acknowledged receipt of the information requests, only two responded well to the requests.

MISA Zimbabwe encourages organisations to effectively use online platforms to disseminate information to the public while the new law on access to information, the Freedom of Information Act, should be continuously evaluated to ensure it gives effect to Sections 61 and 62 of the Constitution that provide for freedom of expression, media freedom and citizens’ right to access to information.

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Zimbabwe:Finalists for the 2020 ZICTA ICT innovation programme announced
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

Stanbic calls for improved collaboration between ICT players to support local ICT innovators and turn Zambia into regional tech hub.


LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) in collaboration with Stanbic Bank Zambia and Airtel Networks Zambia have launched the 2020 cohort of the ICT Innovation Programme.

The initiative was started in 2016 by ZICTA as a way of equipping local tech innovators and start-ups with tools to bring their ideas to life and contribute to the country’s digital agenda.
This year’s event attracted about 242 applications from which 60 were selected by an independent panel of experts to progress to the next round. Entries were assessed based on their business potential, technical feasibility, and scalability of the idea.

The programme is open to Zambian ICT innovators and/or entrepreneurs aged between 18–35 years old with inventive, viable and scalable business ideas that attempt to solve current challenges relating to various sectors of the economy including finance, education, agriculture, energy, climate, and health among others.

So far, four cohorts have been initiated with more than 100 emerging innovators benefiting.
Speaking during the virtual launch which attracted over 200 attendees recently, Stanbic Bank Zambia Head Public Relations and Communications Chanda Chime-Katongo said that a flourishing digital industry would bring Zambia a step closer to achieving its economic diversification dream through the creation of export worthy ICT products and services thereby accelerating GDP growth.

She said: “Zambia has considerable potential of becoming one of the region’s main players in technology development. Digital platforms are increasingly becoming more accessible to more people each day thus creating a ready market for cutting edge innovations.

“To top it off, we have the advantage of political stability and innumerable talented youths that are eager to get a slice of the proverbial economic pie.
“All that is remaining is a deliberate support system from stakeholders that could serve as a launch pad for homegrown tech entrepreneurs.”

Mrs Katongo noted that for the local ICT sector to truly take off and reach its full potential, key industry players had to create strategic partnerships that supported innovation.
“There is need for increased collaboration between stakeholders to unlock Zambia’s potential and turn the country into a regional tech hub.”

“At Stanbic, we are convinced that nurturing strategic partnerships between corporate entities, Government agencies and other sector players including tech start-ups can hasten Zambia’s journey towards a digital economy.
Our sponsorship of this initiative is a clear demonstration of our intention to not only provide practical support to local entrepreneurs but also grow the tech industry.”

The 60 innovators will receive access to potential business linkages for their ideas as well as technical and business development support from sector experts over the next six months – after which the best three will receive financial support of up to ZMW50,000 towards the implementation of their innovation.

And speaking during the same launch, ZICTA Director General, Engineer Patrick Mutimushi said the innovation programme was in line with the authority’s mandate as prescribed under Section 6 of the ICT Act of 2009 – to promote research, development and the use of new and appropriate technologies in the sector.
He noted that the initiative was a clear illustration of how ZICTA was actualising Government through the Ministry of Transport and Communication’s efforts to create an enabling environment for transitioning ideas into viable business ventures. 

“As the world continues to make strides aimed at addressing a serious global pandemic (COVID 19) that has led to extensive disruptions in our societies, I am delighted that we are able to continue identifying promising innovations that can be nurtured into commercially viable solutions and respond to some of our socio- economic needs as a country,” Eng Mutimushi said.

He added that: “The focus areas for this year’s programme were identified through our engagements with various stakeholders on the areas that required ICT related innovations. We are hopeful that this approach will enhance the prospects for potential off-takers and financing as well as provide responsive innovations to the needs of our country.”
Eng Mutimushi urged the final 60 innovators to make the most of the opportunity and perfect their ideas and innovations to make a difference in the country.

“I encourage you all to take advantage of this opportunity and perfect your ideas and innovations so that they make a difference in our country. You are called to use your intellect, creativity, passion, and determination to drive this country forward.”
The 2020 Innovation Programme shall run for a maximum duration of six months from August 2020 to February 2021.

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Zimbabwe:Fresh Trouble Brewing For Mnangagwa
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

President Mnangagwa is going through uncertain times in Zimbabwe
President Mnangagwa is going through uncertain times in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s political animosity intensifies amid protests plans and demonstrations to un-seat a constitutionally Elected President Mnangagwa comes with hatred on him and unnecessary political avarice for leadership.

Pan-African-Visions notes this through investigations done early this week. This comes after President Mnangagwa addressed a Provincial Co-ordinating Committee Meeting in Gweru, Zimbabwe’s third capital city.

 He asked Party Commissar Victor Matemadanda to tell the people that he was still the leader of the country and no-one would or has the power to oust him.

”Party Commissar, chastise party members hungry for power. Tell the people of Zimbabwe that if you dream of being leader of the country, you have had a nightmare.”

”The next morning you wake up and brew traditional beer. Ask your ancestors why they give you such bad dreams.

”It is the people, the mass that constitutionally put me in power and office. I am still the leader of the country. No-One can dethrone me, except the voice of the people” .

President Mnangagwa continues to be exerted un-necessary leadership and political power pressure by his own people surrounding him. Most of these are ZANU-PF members. Some of them are Robert Mugabe’s followers under G40.

Currently there are fresh allegations and fears that Mnangagwa is in bad books with Vice President Constantine Chiwenga whom some party people and opposition claim is hungry for power.

A secret member of the Opposition party confirms President Mnangagwa is under pressure for the power he is holding currently. He adds that most of these are ZANU-PF party members.

” What is causing problems and challenges facing the country is the fact that there is un-necessary power avarice, greedy and hatred on Mnangagwa. We have to wait until 2023 according to our constitution. Remember, He was elected by the people. It’s now the surrounding people causing problems not opposition alone, no ” , he disagrees with many voices against Mnangagwa .

Several political party members are still disgruntled by the removal of President Robert Mugabe who was ousted through a coup in 2017. A number of them like Jonathan Moyo are still twitting in bad and nasty words against President Mnangagwa.

To bring evidence to this President Mnangagwa has survived a Bulawayo assassination where a bomb was thrown at Barbourfields stadium where he was to address a gathering. This was on weeks after Robert Mugabe was out of power.

The other evidence is of tweets and what’s-up messages from Jonathan Moyo formerly of Robert Mugabe side. President Mnangagwa has fired as well two Cabinet members Energy Mutodi who was Deputy Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services and Fortune Chasi who was Minister of Energy and Power Development.

Nelson Chamisa of MDC Opposition Party continues to push for President Mnangagwa’s ouster of which he knows that he lost elections in 2018. Secondly, growing opposition continues to grow and picking fights are still on although Mnangagwa is quiet. There have been mass protest plans. These were thrashed by Mnangagwa on 31 August in Harare and Bulawayo.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and Indigenous Manufacturers, retailers and the business community has done economic and business sabotage plans. These strategies have made rise inflation a move that has cause the Economy to bleed. These have been planned secretly except the ZCTU demonstration which is up to now a talk. Its successful demonstration was that of 2019 when President Mnangagwa announced fuel rise on Television .

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Rwanda: Will UN,Other International Bodies rescue Paul Rusesabagina from terrorism charges?
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohammed M. Mupenda *

Terrorism charges have been slammed against Paul Rusesabagina .Photo credit AFP

The Rwandan critic, whose role during the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis was fictionalized in the well-known movie Hotel Rwanda, has been the subject of controversy ever since.

Mr. Rusesabagina appeared last month under arrest in Kigali in murky circumstances, with his family alleging he was kidnapped abroad.

According to Rwanda Authorities, he was arrested because he is believed to be the leader, founder and sponsor of a violent extremist group operating in Rwanda and more widely, known as MRCD/FLN. The international arrest warrant under which he has been detained included accusations that in June and July 2018 in Nyungwe, and in December 2018 in Nyamagabe, attacks by the MRCD/FLN were carried out against innocent Rwandan civilians which left nine people dead and several seriously injured.

Prior to his arrest there were videos featuring him and he was heard on BBC radio talk calling all political and civil society organizations to support FLN soldiers to oust the Kigali government through waging war as political means had failed.

However, some human rights and legal groups have expressed concern that his arrest is the latest example of Rwanda targeting critics.

Calls demanding fair justice have been made by U.S Senator, Rusesabagina Hotel Rwanda Foundation, oppositions and on 8 September UN urged to intervene in case of detained Hotel Rwanda dissident.

Through the Clooney Foundation for Justice and the American Bar Association Center for Human Rights, George and Amal Clooney have made a pledge to closely monitor the upcoming trial of Paul Rusesabagina in Rwanda, as part of CFJ’s Trial Watch initiative.

“Mr. Rusesabagina is currently detained provisionally for at least 30 days after he was denied bail, pending his trial,”.

Well, UN call, human right monitoring and other super power countries intervention could still give hope to his family, dissidents and others who wish to see Rusesabagina free but still not sure of how it will be done while terrorism charges are not welcome in any country.

For various newspapers both Rwandan and foreign, people’s talk, comments believe that Rusesabagina’s case would be serious, and some of the reasons being that Mr. Rusesabagina has Belgian citizenship, U.S resident and has been awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom. However,  many observers say that these can’t save him out, due to Rusesabagina’s rebel attacks killed Rwandans, burned their property, looted their crops and took some hostages, Nsabimana Callixte and Rusesabagina admitted in various media outlets that the attacks killed civilians.

When Nsabimana was arrested and brought to justice, he pleaded guilty for all charges saying that even the birds could testify.

Mr. Rusesabagina’s acknowledgment that his rebellions killed people and apologized.

“I apologise, we never assigned FLN to kill people and that was not the mission noting that their actions should be blamed on them alone.”.

He admitted to sending some 20,000 euros ($23,000) to FLN commander Callixte Nsabimana – who is on trial on similar charges – but said this was personal assistance to a friend and not for rebel activities

Mr. Herman Hirwa Nsengimana, the successor to Nsabimana Callixte A.k.a Sankara was seen in the video conference included Rusesabagina, who was in the lead, also co-chaired the FLN, becoming the Supreme Leader.

Other reasons could be summarised as follows,  Rusesabagina has Rwandan citizenship by birth, the crimes is accused of committing are on Rwandan soil, the prosecutor also pointed out that before Rusesabagina was arrested there was a collaboration between  Belgian police and the U.S Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI), Rusesabagina’s home in Belgium was searched and some of the evidence against him came from there, and FBI had also conducted a thorough investigation into all the information from his indictment. 

Note that when the FLN attacks reached Rwandan territory, the US Embassy in the United States issued a statement saying that some parts of Rwanda were unsafe and that their residents were on high alert, and that they were aware of the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks.  Which are FLN soldiers, whose commander was based in the USA.

The case of Nsabimana Callixte who pleaded guilty to all the charges against him and even wished that his case would be reconciled with those of Rusesabagina and Herman because all the charges against FLN are fully involved.

In multiple speeches, Rusesabagina expressed support for the FLN – which has carried out armed attacks and is described as a terrorist organisation by Rwanda – but the extent of his involvement in its actions is unclear.

*Mohammed M. Mupenda is a news correspondent and freelance reporter, who has written for publications in the United States and abroad. He is also a French and East African language interpreter.

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Cameroon: Effective Decentralisation can lead to Good Governance – Experts Say at Nkafu Policy Web Seminar
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Decentralisation can be seen as a tool for conflict resolution, to foster stability, and managing diversity
Decentralisation can be seen as a tool for conflict resolution, to foster stability, and managing diversity

Experts say if Cameroon applies the decentralisation process effectively it can lead to good governance. Others hold the opinion that in the present context Cameroon finds itself, the idea of decentralisation can never be a solution.

The public dialogue (web seminar) that took place September 17 was on the theme “Effective decentralisation: A sustainable solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon?” It was organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation and moderated by Mkong Immaculate, Programs Assistant UPEACE-Africa.

One of the key resolutions from the Major National Dialogue that took place from September 30 to October 4, 2019, to look for a peaceful and sustainable solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis in Cameroon was the proposal for a “special status” for the two conflict-affected regions due to their cultural and linguistic specificities. This subsequently led to the adoption by parliament of the Decentralization Code of Regional and Local Authorities (Law No. 2019/024 of 24 December 2019). Nevertheless, debates have continued till date over the role of decentralization in restoring peace and security especially in the restive Anglophone regions of the country. 

Dr Emmanuel Sundjo, Senior Lecturer at the University of Buea, Governance and Regional integration Fellow at the Nkafu Policy Institute said the idea of decentralization involves the transfer of power from the central government to local authorities in terms of resources and others. If done right “Effective Decentralisation can lead to good governance.” In Cameroon, what is seen is administrative decentralisation. 

The regional elections in the country have been programmed for December 6. Observers say there is a need to ensure that the process of choosing representatives is very transparent. For effective decentralisation to be effective, there are some fundamental issues regarding elections need to be handled. “The issue of Cameroon is identity. The government needs to take into consideration minority groups with Anglophones part of that group. The decentralisation process should be looked at from an individual region’s perspective, looking at peculiarities in each Region,” Dr Emmanuel Sundjo said.

What has been noticed in Cameroon in the various legislative, senatorial and municipal elections is that those elected always pay allegiance to the central government and not to the local population that voted them. “There cannot be effective decentralisation when we have election malpractices. It is important that we employ effective decentralisation as the electoral code has major cracks and we should go back to mend these cracks,” one participant said.

On the issue of the electoral process seen as one with irregularities, Ambe Kingsley, a participant noted that there are legal channels to challenge undemocratic elections in Cameroon. “Anyone contesting any undemocratic election should use the legal action. The courts are always there to resolve the electoral issues.” “What measurable achievement has decentralisation brought on the table,” He questioned.

Participants on Effective decentralisation - A sustainable solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon
Participants on Effective decentralisation – A sustainable solution to the Anglophone crisis in Cameroon

Speaking, Duchel Zapfack, Co-founder of a Youth-led Association Promise Africa said decentralisation can be seen as a tool for conflict resolution, to foster stability, and managing diversity. To her, with the present decentralisation process, there has been an increase in funds from less than one per cent to more than fifteen per cent to local authorities which according to her is quite laudable.

She added that the effectiveness of the decentralisation process in Cameroon is questionable. “There is no de facto devolution of power. There is no decentralisation when the councils lack the competence to decide on issues,” She said.

In a Question and Answers session, participants noted that youths should be an integral part of the decentralisation process. To them, youths are not involved in the process in their local communities. 

“Let’s stop complaining and accusing. Let us read the code on decentralisation. It is important to arm ourselves with knowledge, so as not to be excluded from ignorance and underdevelopment,” Sebeyiam Georges, a participant said.

Herve Wouapi, a participant said “… Our government is reluctant to decentralize because they view decentralisation as a zero-sum game. They see it as a platform that opposition political parties would use to challenge them or take a visible role in the governance process…” “Successful development can be achieved if Cameroon puts in place functioning governance systems that ensure transparency, inclusiveness, and accountability of decision-making process.”

There is no decentralisation when the councils lack the competence to decide on issues
There is no decentralisation when the councils lack the competence to decide on issues

This webinar is in line with the mission of the Nkafu Policy Institute, a Think Tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, which pivots around carrying out independent research to provide in-depth and insightful evidence-based policy recommendations that advance the development of Cameroon and other Sub-Saharan African countries.

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DFC and Akola Support Ugandan Women Through COVID-19 Pandemic
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
DFC Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler

$5 million DFC loan will help Akola continue empowering low-income women, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.

WASHINGTON – U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Akola PBC today announced that DFC has provided a $5 million loan to Dallas, Texas-based Akola. DFC’s financing will help the impact-driven jewelry brand and manufacturing business—particularly the women that it employs in rural Uganda—weather the challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Women reinvest most of their earnings in their families and communities and are a powerful driver of prosperity and stability in Uganda and beyond. With just a little bit of support, they can deliver outsized impact in their communities,” said DFC Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler. “DFC’s financing will help Akola continue its work to provide economic opportunities and uplift Ugandan women. Our collaboration comes at a critical time as COVID-19 continues to leave underserved individuals—disproportionately women—even more vulnerable around the world.”

“Akola was founded on the belief that job creation is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty,” explains Akola’s CEO, Sheeba Philip. “This is why it was crucial that we did everything possible to ensure the women we employ as part of our operations in Uganda kept their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We quickly shifted our focus to product experiences that meet consumer needs and reflect the changing retail environment, such as our DIY Bracelet Kits. We are grateful for the partnership with DFC, which helps ensure we can continue to offer Akola women living wage employment so they can provide for their families.”

As a result of COVID-19, many major retailers have backed out of orders and brands have trimmed production, putting global artisans and factory workers already living in extreme poverty out of work. Yet in the wake of the pandemic, Akola has continued its mission and commitment to the women it serves, working creatively to ensure that the hundreds of Ugandan women who work for the company have all remained employed.

DFC’s financing is structured to support these efforts, funding critical working capital needs that help Akola continue to provide stable wages and benefits through the pandemic to its all-female Ugandan workforce. Eventually, the loan will also support a new production facility and additional employees, enabling Akola to continue focusing on growing demand through its e-commerce platform, which in turn will help the company become more resilient to future market shocks.

Akola, which means “she works” in the local dialect, was founded by Brittany Underwood after spending a summer teaching English in Jinja, Uganda during college. Once a small operation of 15 women making jewelry under a tree in 2007, Akola today employs nearly 200 women in rural Uganda. All Akola jewelry is handcrafted in Uganda using locally-sourced, sustainable materials and is sold worldwide.

The women employed by Akola in Uganda usually serve as the primary providers for their families, and the vast majority lived in extreme poverty before working for the company. In addition to a stable income, Akola also provides ongoing training and mentorship to its Ugandan employees through nonprofit partner Akola Academy. Akola Academy provides leadership and financial literacy training to foster long-term economic independence. Sixty-six percent of Akola women in Uganda own a home and 79 percent of Akola children are enrolled in school.

DFC’s investment advances its 2X Women’s Initiative, which has catalyzed more than $3 billion of private sector investment in projects that empower women in developing countries. Through 2X, DFC plays a key role in the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), which marks the first whole-of-U.S. Government approach to empowering women globally and is spearheaded by Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. DFC’s investment also advances the Administration’s Prosper Africa initiative, which aims to channel the tools and resources of the U.S. Government to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.

*DFC

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Cape Town To Host Conference on Trade Governance Matters in Africa
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
AU Trade Commissioner Muchanga will present the keynote address
AU Trade Commissioner Muchanga will present the keynote address

By Nevson Mpofu Munhumutapa

TRALAC, Trade Law Centre based in South Africa, Cape Town is hosting a 2-day virtual conference in its home town. It runs from 21 to 22 September. The conference braves the chill of covid-19 to address Trade Governance matters in Africa.

TRALAC Administrative Assistant Madeline Herterotz who invited and posted the program to the Pan-African-Visions points out that the conference is a design meant to look at the future of World Trade Organization. It looks as well on taking lessons learnt from the devastating effects and consequences of covid-19 in the Region.

Multi-Lateral trading systems require reforms in the era of covid-19. There are plurilateral and multilateral agreements made under the [World Trade Organization], WTO and AFCFTA, [African Continental Free Trade Area.] A World Bank Study has come out with a document on the benefits to come from reducing red tape and improving customs of boarder management.

The second issue looks at the overview of key features of AFCFTA up-date on negotiations and preparations post covid-19. Extended information looks at the adoption of Digital Trade Solutions in an era of covid-19 and global challenges currently faced.

The conference dubbed Trade Governance In Africa Midst a Pandemic of Global Challenges attracts a panel of presenters and moderators to cheer and spear-head the program with key-note opening from H.E Wamkele Mune  ,African Continental Free Trade Area’  Secretary General .

Among the Plenipotentiary delegates are Mr Allan Wolf, Deputy Director World Trade Organization. Panel discussion follows on the same day with a focus on What is expected from AFCFTA to deliver. What is necessary to achieve outcomes. Also present is Ms Valentinah Minta – Board Member International Chamber of Commerce. Mr Victor Liman, Chief Trade Negotiator, Director General for the Nigerian Office for Trade Negotiations, Ms Monica Musonda Java Foods CEO, Mr Ahmed Bennis, Secretary General of African Economic Zones Organization. Ms Treasure Maphanga stands in as Moderator. She is TRALAC Board Member.

The second panel discussion is on what is to be done to facilitate Trade in Africa. Present are Ms Lily Sommer , African Trade Policy Center Department of United Nations Economic Commission [UNECA] .Mr Jason Blackman is DHL Express Director for Sub-Saharan Africa . Mr Etiyel Chibira is from the Cross Boarders Trans-Agency of South Africa. Ms Muna Hassan is from WTO. The Moderator is Trudi Hartzenburg of TRALAC. The presentation to be read looks at Overviews, Negotiations, Up-Date and Africa’s Global Trade Relations.

The Key-Note Address will be presented by Albert Muchanga , Commissioner for Trade and Industry , AUC [ African Union Commission] . The closing will be done by TRALAC Board Chairman, George Lipimile .

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South Sudan President Fires Finance Minister, Nilepet and NRA Bosses Amid Looming Economic Meltdown
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Salvatore Garang Mabiordit Wol is the 8th Finance Minister fired by President Kiir since 2011
Salvatore Garang Mabiordit Wol is the 8th Finance Minister fired by President Kiir since 2011

Juba – South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir Mayardit fired longtime Finance Minister, including the Nilepet and National Revenue Authority Bosses amid looming economic meltdown in the world’s youngest nation.

 In a presidential decree read on state – based television, formerly known as SSBC on Wednesday evening, Kiir ditched Finance Minister Salvatore Garang Mabiordit Wol,  the eighth Finance Minister dismissed by Kiir since 2011. The country’s new Finance Minister is Athian Diing Athian.

President Kiir also fired Erjok Bullen, Acting Commissioner of the National Revenue Authority, replaced with Africano Mande and Chol Deng Thon Abel, head of the Nile Petroleum Corporation, or Nilepet, the country’s institution overseeing oil production, replaced with Bol Riing Muorwel.

The reasons for the dismissals were not mentioned, however, the developments came after the economic crisis management committee recommended firing some officials of revenue-generating institutions over corruption.

But observers criticized president Kiir for fire officials and just walk away with their misdeeds and mistakes.

They argued that changing ministers or officials will not solve the country’s economic crisis rather about building institutions of the nation.

Of recently, Garang said his ministry did not have the money to pay government workers who have been waiting for paychecks since April. 

Both Garang and Bullen were summoned earlier in September by the National Assembly’s business committee to answer questions regarding their offices and also to explain why the civil servants had not been paid.

 However, diplomats at various South Sudan missions abroad, including Washington, have allegedly not received their salaries for the past 19 months.

Former finance Minister told lawmakers that the COVID-19 lockdown, coupled with the devastated global economy, affected crude oil prices and reduced revenue from South Sudan’s oil production.

South Sudanese on social media were satisfied with Kiir’s ditches at the major financial and oil institutions.

Economic meltdown

South Sudan economy is melting down due as local currency depreciates against US dollar, after the central bank announced that it had ran out of foreign currency and they will not be able to control the market.

Kiir’s formed Economic crisis committee in in August in order to mitigate and salvage the country’s dwindling economy.The committee is yet to release its findings.

Top government officials have been accused to have stolen billions of pounds. The committee has recommended to the president the removal of some financial institutions officials, charges of fraud in which millions of dollars have gone missing.

Relies on Oil

Since its independence, South Sudan has relied on oil for all income for over 98% of it’s revenues—a situation that has significantly compounded ongoing political and economic instability due to fall in crude oil prices. The collapse in oil prices has left the state’s coffers depleted and government faces huge budget deficits.

But mismanagement and misappropriation of the country’s resources have allegedly cost the country millions of dollars in recent years and pushed the citizens to return to into exile as refugees after living conditions, resulting from effects of over five years of the civil war have been unbearable.

South Sudan’s oil output, which is essentially generated by China’s CNPC, India’s ONGC and Malaysia’s Petronas has been falling steadily since 2013 when the civil war started, under the impact of chronic under-investment and damage caused during the fighting. 

Oil’s production today is running at around 130,000 bpd, whereas it stood at about 370,000 bpd when the country split from Sudan in 2011, but it’s only export route is through Sudan, giving Khartoum leverage and leading to the ongoing pricing disputes.

Nilepet is a partner on all the country’s oil blocks and hopes to become an operator in the years to come, even though this seems blighted with corruption and low level of technical skills at its institution.

South Sudan was just emerging from the five year of civil war that has killed nearly 400,000 people and uprooted four million people, before it has devastated the country’s economy, formed an incomplete government of a national unity in six months ago but an effort to stabilize a political and economic’s crises remain a nightmares.

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Nigeria: What Decides Ondo Next Governor
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Michael Adeboboye

Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, incumbent governor, Ondo State and candidate of the APC for October 10, 2020 governorship election
Oluwarotimi Akeredolu, SAN, incumbent governor, Ondo State and candidate of the APC for October 10, 2020 governorship election

Ondo state is one of the states in Nigeria the Independent National Electoral Commission would be conducting staggered election. The election holds October 10. Michael Adeboboye pictures the election scenario, political parties’ strength, candidates and electorates behavior pattern in the state.

Ondo State, one of the states in the south west geopolitical region in Nigeria is witnessing governorship election in October 10 as announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). Although a staggered election birthed by court-proven electoral manipulation in 2007, the oil producing state people are sophisticated when it comes to electing theirs leaders, especially the governor who will manage their commonwealth for four years. Unlike some other states in the political zone largely dominated by Yoruba speaking tribe, the sunshine state (Ondo) seems to have been clothed with ray too hot to capture in the typhoon of god-fatherism; phenomenon where one money bag decides the fate of entire state by appointing his stooge and enthrone him against the will of the people. Election in such scenario is nothing but a mere formality. Since 1999 when Nigeria returned from military rule to democracy, daring Ondo electorates’ political sagacity is like a dangerous voyage into perilous abyss.

     The immediate past governor of the state, Dr. Olusegun Mimikowas a product of rule of law. After a prolonged legal battle over the authentic winner of the 2007 governorship election in the state in 2007, the court of Appeal sitting in Benin City, Edo state gave the judgment in Mimiko’s favour in February 23, 2009. His predecessor, Late Dr.Olusegun Agagu who was sacked by the Appeal Court was a candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). Mimiko was the candidate of the Labour party (LP). That scenario fell off the state from the pedestal of general elections timetable in the country. Mimiko governed the state between 2009 and 2017, making him the first governor to have been on the governorship seat for a complete eight years. Mimiko later return to the PDP in controversial manner.

     In 2016, Rotimi Akeredolu and Eyitayo Jegede, both Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) slugged it out for the number one position of the state. Akeredolu contested on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC), while Jegede was the PDP’s flag bearer. Akeredolu emerged the winner of the election with a total of 224,842 votes, Jegede came second with 150,380 votes while Bar. Olusola Oke, another senior legal practitioner came third with 126,889 votes.

Eyitayo Jegexe, SAN,Ondo PDP Governorship candidate, October 10, 2020 election.
Eyitayo Jegexe, SAN,Ondo PDP Governorship candidate, October 10, 2020 election.

      From 1999 till date, four different political parties have governed the state at different times. Late Adebayo Adefarati was elected on the platform of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) Agagu (PDP), Mimiko (LP) and presently, Akeredolu  (APC). For the 2020 governorship election the state, lNEC has fixed October 10 and announced seventeen political parties that would participate. Following the political trend, it appears only three political parties are to watch. The APC once again presented lt’s 2016 candidate for the election. Also, Jegede who was the PDP’s candidate in 2016 has won the ticket once again. The deputy governor of the state Agbola Ajayi is the candidate of the Zenith Labour Party, (ZLP). The election is around the corner and political intrigues are not in short supply. Meanwhile, the question agitating the minds of political pundits is what would influence the decision of the electorate?

     According to Hon. Tony Ala who is a PDP leader in the state, he said the PDP as a political party has a track record of achievements that would influence the electorate in the election to vote for its candidate, Jegede as the next governor of the state. He said Jegede emerged the candidate of the PDP through a free and fair primary election, adding that when candidate of political party emerged through a transparent party primary, that would influence the decision of the electorates. He said the candidate of his party (Jegede) is a gentleman politician with credibility and personality that permeated all the nooks and crannies of the state.

      ̋Eyitayo Jegede emerged as the candidate of PDP in a free and fair party primary. None of the aspirants who contested for the party’s ticket alongside him alleged foul play in his favour. A free and fair primary election which the winner emerged through a transparent party primary attracts the interest of the electorate, even though they are not members of the political party or delegates, they monitor the process. PDP has governed the state before and our party has track record of unprecedented achievements to the benefit of the citizens. This is one of the many reasons Ondo State electorates have pressed their interest in the party for the October 10 governorship election. The people cannot be deceived. They know the governments of the PDP established it̕ s focus on people ̶ oriented projects. They know the party cares for the artisans, technicians, youths, market women, mothers and their children. The score card is there. They are saying it themselves, not achievement they hear only in the media. They all know the PDP run compassionate government. We are not telling all these to them. They are giving us their testimonies.

    “The benefit of the PDP touched their lives directly. Talk  about education, health care infrastructure, social  welfare  and  all other  responsibility  of a good government,  our  party  is not comparable  to deceptive  government.  You cannot just continue to fool the people. The people of the state are the one reminding us of our numerous achievements. Everywhere we go, they said our party gave their children education. They said their children received free medical services during our government. The father said their pregnant wives were taking care at the mother and child hospital. They tell us about free surgery, regular supply of drugs, free school shuttle and outstanding facilities. The people of the riverside know that the PDP opened their roads to the land and regularly clear the waterways. They know their children had access to very low tuition fee in the higher institution of learning. PDP ̕ s achievement is too large to compare to the present administration. They tell us all those projects are gone now. The people are asking question which the APC government fails to give any convincing answer. Insecurity, corruption, tribal and religious sentiments are glaring hallmarks of the APC government in Nigerian. Our people are saying it is enough. Our candidate, Eyitayo Jegede, SAN is the most acceptable by the electorate. He is representing the PDP; political party which is the choice of Ondo State comes October 10”

 In an interview with journalists (not this magazine), a governorship aspirant in 2016 who is leader in the APC, Hon. Gbenga Elebgeleye said Akeredolu has performed creditably well “I am from Ikare and if you go to my hometown, you will see the dualisation and rehabilitation of the roads. What the people desire is good governance. It does not matter who does it. I have just told you how the governor has performed in my part of the state. The projects are physical and visible. It is not something you will require binoculars to see. Akeredolu is giving good governance. In politics, opponent must say something to be relevant. I think the issue of Ondo state governor should be based on quality.

Agboola Ajayi,Ondo Deputy Governor and candidate of the Ondo ZLP, October 10, 2020 election.
Agboola Ajayi,Ondo Deputy Governor and candidate of the Ondo ZLP, October 10, 2020 election.

       “Go and look at the Benin-Ore road and see a first class flyover bridge, first of its kind in the state built by Akeredolu. See the industrial park in Ore area as well as the vehicle Assembly Plant. Everybody knows that Akeredolu has improved road network in Ondo State. What do people want really? Quality service! People say Akeredolu is not a political person. Do we need a super politician as governor or performer?

   “We have seen super “politician” and that is not the kind of politician Ondo needs. We need a super administrator and that is what we have in Akeredolu’’

       “Indeed, out of all the top three political parties to be watched in October, the PDP had governed the state and the APC is the incumbent, thus the claim to have surpassed one another in respect to achievements by both is not out of place. However, the veracity rests in individual citizen perspective. And would that even be a major factor that would influence the decision of the electorates? Sadly, Nigerians political endorsement is garnished with don’t “shit” where you “eat” syndrome.

        Apparently, Ondo electorate’s behaviour pictures can be glimpse in the 2015 and 2019 elections. Mimiko was the incumbent governor in 2015. And despite that he was the southwest coordinator for the re–election of the then president, Goodluck Jonathan who was seeking re-election on the platform of the PDP, the electorates voted against the PDP. The incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari of the APC won in the state. Same scenario repeated in 2019 where Presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar won in Ondo state despite having Akeredolu of the APC as incumbent. Will power of incumbency and federal might decide who becomes the next governors of Ondo State?

Ajayi the deputy governor whose political ambition led to resigning his membership of the APC, contested in PDP’s party primarily but lost to Jegede. His popularity cannot be cut down with razor blame. Though a third force on the platform of the ZLP, he is a politician with wide influence. He was a chairman of Ese- Odo Local government area of the state, Former House of Representatives member and the deputy governor who survived impeachment Tsunami of the APC even after leaving the party for another political party to contest.

        For now, the three top contenders are engaging in rigorous campaign ahead of the election but the fate of who eventually becomes the next governor shall be found in the electorates thumb at the poll.

*Culled from September Issue of PAV Magazine

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US Imposes sanctions on firm linked to businessman close to South Sudan senior officials
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

 Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal with President Salva Kiir.Photo Twitter

Juba – The United States Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets control (OFAC) has imposed more economic sanctions on Nabah Ltd, a company owned by Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal for reportedly depositing and holding funds for South Sudanese officials outside of the world’s youngest nation in an attempt to avoid sanctions.

The sanctioned Nabah Limited, a company registered in the United Kingdom, is also the sixth company to be sanctioned by the U.S as being owned or controlled by the Sudanese businessman Ashraf Ahmed Hussein Ali, commonly known as al-Cardinal.

The U.S previously designated him for his role in corruption connected to president Salva Kiir’s officials.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Department of Treasury designated Al-Cardinal for engaging in corruption, including participating in bribery, kickbacks, and procurement fraud with senior government officials. 

It said the Sudanese businessman is also sanctioned for his businesses and political connections at the expense of the South Sudanese people.

“He and his companies act as intermediaries for depositing and holding large amounts of funds for senior-level South Sudanese officials outside of South Sudan in an attempt to avoid sanctions,” said the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The sanctions came at a time South Sudan’s economy is boiling up as the South Sudanese pounds continues to depreciate and price for commodities are skyrocketing.

Of recently, South Sudan has reported ran out of foreign reserves, whereas senior politicians, owned mansions for their families and friends abroad. A civil war and oil market crises are to blamed for the ongoing hyper-inflation in the Eastern African’s youngest nation.

The Treasury Department further said Al-Cardinal himself was part of a sanctions evasion scheme in which a senior South Sudanese official used a bank account in the name of one of Al-Cardinal’s companies to store his personal funds in an attempt to avoid the effects of US sanctions.

US Deputy Treasury Secretary Justin Muzinich said “bad actors” rely on their networks and front companies to evade sanctions and conceal their illicit activities.

 Sudanese businessman Ashraf Seed Ahmed Al-Cardinal seen in picture with Vice President Machar knows senior authorities in South Sudan

“We will continue to use our authorities to prevent such illicit funds from moving freely through the international financial system,” Muzinich further said.

OFAC designated Nabah Ltd pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption.

The businessman also owns five other companies that were also designated last year.

They include Al-cardinal General Trading Limited, Al-Cardinal General Trading LLC, A-Cardinal Investments Company Limited, Al-Cardinal Petroleum Company Limited, and NileTel.

In April this year, U.S-based The Sentry, accused Al-Cardinal of the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery in South Sudan.

Despite the previous sanctions, the US said Al-cardinal found an alternative Nabah LTD that is being used to bail out corrupt South Sudanese politicians who are sanctioned by the president Trump’s administration.

“These South Sudanese elites and corrupt government officials have drained state coffers and usurped the country’s resources with impunity. Al-cardinal and Ajing leverage their business and political connections to engage in corruption at great expense to the South Sudanese people,” said Sigal Mandelker, Treasury’s Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence.

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Sierra Leone : Savage Street Bridge collapses
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

One of Sierra Leone’s oldest bridges  in the country , the Savage Street bridge that connects St. John , Syke Street to the West of Freetown has collapsed this evening with no official death report announced so far.

The bridge which is one of the oldest  in the country with no exact date when it was built has been a main route connecting people daily from the West of the capital city of Freetown to the Central Business District.

There have been several complaints my residents living in the savage Street community calling on the government to repair the old infrastructure but fell deaf ears with many Sierra Leoneans and residents in the community blaming to not taking the lives of citizens seriously.

In 2018, the then Sierra Leone Road Safety Authority (SLRSA) Executive Director David Panda Noah, now Minister of Internal Affairs in the country, told Awoko Newspaper that the savage Street  Bridge is  “a disaster waiting to happen” as road audits have determined that it is unsafe because of nearby mining stating that their role as an institution  is to do the audits and report to Ministry of Works and Transport and Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) for their attention. 

City Mayor Yvonne Aki- Sawyer in an interview live on local TV, African Young Voices (AYV) told citizens that the collapsed of the Savage street has shown us a country about the importance of road maintenance in the country adding that the kind of maintenance involved in bridges is different to roads.

“ This is the responsibility of the Sierra Leone Roads Safety Authority and I think there is something else that is troubling me of what I am seeing. This is not council’s responsibility . There is roles of responsibility and that council , we are seriously resourced constrained. These kinds of work is not our own domain , funds are out there to do maintenance on these infrastructure,’’ Yvonne Aki-Sawyer told AYV in a live interview at the scene.

She went on to say she is not casting any blame on any individual as this is not the time for such rather its time to come collectively as different sector players to see how best they can solve the problem.

Citizens took to social media after the collapsed bridged was shown live on  Local Television stations ,  to demand government to do road safety audit on other bridges across the country like the old Rail way Line Bridge , Rogbere Bridge among others.

“Sierra Leone Roads Authority (SLRA) must now tell us whether Kingtom , Old Railway Line and Tengeh Town Bridges are all strong and safe enough for use. God help us ,’’Journalist Mohamed Jaward Nyallay wrote on his Facebook account.

Another Facebook user Fatmata B Jalloh , a popular social media commentator in the country wrote on her Facebook feeds ”I am still wondering why we are always waiting for a disaster to happened before we find solutions. Negligence is a big hinderance, lack of maintenance is another war. Praise be to God it didn’t cause any catastrophe , considering it been a strategic route for so many people. Thus, this makes my mind ran into the Rogbere Bridge . I hope and pray that they will soon finish the new bridge so that the old one will not cause any trouble’’

Several governments officials from the Ministry of Internal Affairs , Information Ministry , the Office of National Security to see the level of disaster that has happened to one of  the country’s oldest bridges.

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Covid-19 “an opportunity” say African Educators in Major New Survey
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Fifty per cent of surveyed African teachers, trainers and education technology specialists think the Covid-19 pandemic will turn out to be a “significant” or “very significant” opportunity for African education.

The results of a survey, released today by eLearning Africa and EdTech Hub, show that many African educators are opportunistic about the future. They believe that Covid-19 has served as a “wake-up call,” which will encourage greater use of blended learning and new forms of technology assisted education and training in the continent’s schools, colleges and universities.

The survey, ‘The Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic on African Education’ is based on interviews with more than 1600 education and technology professionals across Africa, who were asked about their experience of the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications. 85 per cent of respondents thought that the use of technology would be more widespread as a result of the crisis. As the African Union, among others, considers that technology is the key to the rapid expansion of education and thus to future economic growth, this is clearly good news.

One respondent, Joice, who has worked in technology and education for over 20 years and believes in the “fundamental role in society” of educational technologies said: “We have the opportunity in the face of the pandemic to improve the uses and access to technologies aimed at learning, at a time when students and teachers can become protagonists of a new model of education.”

Isso of Burkina Faso, a teacher, believes it is precisely the difficulty of the current crisis that will ultimately create real, long term benefits: “As the Covid-19 becomes a worldwide problem with no good solution, everybody in the world becomes involved in seeking solutions for their own survival that will lead to creativity, new ideas and new opportunities and part of evolution.”

And, from industry, corporate planner Sisu of Zimbabwe said: “This is the opportunity for a long-term evolution of the education system.”

The survey also pointed, however, to considerable nervousness about the development of a digital divide and a rise in inequalities among learners because of uneven access to technology. Respondents felt that learners in rural communities were most likely to be disadvantaged as a result of a lack of access to technology. They also felt that connectivity was the biggest obstacle preventing the development of more technology assisted learning – specifically, a lack of available and affordable connectivity.

Overall, respondents reported that school closures had been widespread across Africa (95 per cent said that all schools in their countries had been forced to close) and, whilst this had had many negative consequences, 92 per cent said they thought the closures were essential. However, the survey showed that most educators received no financial support for tools to help them continue teaching in the crisis, and felt that they had insufficient preparation to adapt to the demands of distance learning.

The survey also pointed to the effectiveness of different technologies at different levels, with television and radio seen as working well at the primary level and online learning at the secondary.

eLearning Africa Director Rebecca Stromeyer said that the survey showed that there was “plenty of evidence of ingenuity and innovation at all levels in many countries” in responding to the crisis.

“The crisis has been a real challenge for Africa but it has not, by and large, been the catastrophe that was predicted. Africans have used the technologies available to them to carry on teaching and learning. People have learnt from this crisis and they know how important technology now is to education.”

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