Briefing: Cameroon’s intensifying conflict and what it means for civilians
February 7, 2020 | 0 Comments
‘The humanitarian situation is increasingly worrying.
By Jess Craig*
Cameroonian government forces and rival anglophone separatists have stepped up arrests, abductions, and deadly attacks in the two months leading up to Sunday’s parliamentary and municipal elections, causing a devastating fallout for civilians that looks set to worsen.
Perceived marginalisation by the francophone majority of the minority English-speaking community – some 20 percent of the population, concentrated in the Northwest and Southwest regions – saw a separatist insurgency erupt in Cameroon in October 2016.
But what has until recently been a low-intensity conflict – albeit one that has left an estimated 3,000 civilians dead, and nearly 730,000 people displaced at home and abroad – now risks entering a new and more dangerous phase, according to aid workers, residents, and experts.
Why has violence spiked?
In November 2019, President Paul Biya set a date for the elections, sparking unprecedented violence, destruction, and human rights abuses across the two western regions – referred to collectively by the separatists as the Southern Cameroons or the Republic of Ambazonia.
“This is the first time since the anglophone crisis began that I have seen this level of violence,” Ilaria Allegrozzi, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, told The New Humanitarian. “I have never seen so many incidences, attacks, and reports [of violence] as I am seeing now.”
Previously, the conflict had been marked by periodic peaks in violence coinciding with public holidays and court proceedings for arrested separatist leaders. “This has now been taken to another level,” Allegrozzi said.
Shortly after Biya’s election announcement, on 1 December, separatists attempted to shoot down a commercial plane landing in Bamenda, the capital of the Northwest region. A separatist leader, Cho Ayaba, claimed it was a legitimate target as commercial planes were used to transport soldiers and weapons.
“We are bent on doing anything, anything that it takes for this election, this sham election, this colonial election, not [to be held] in Ambazonia.”
The separatists have declared Sunday’s polls illegal and stepped up operations, reportedly abducting 40 candidates in December and burning down a government election office in January.
“In Ambazonia, we do not have elections, because we do not have a government,” Fombat Forbah Dieudonné, a spokesperson for the Ambazonia Restoration Forces – the defence arm of the self-declared interim government of Ambazonia – told TNH.
“Our government is still an interim government that operates from the diaspora,” Dieudonné said. “We are still fighting to restore our independence.”
Separatists have called for a “lockdown” between 7 and 12 February in the two western regions, with restrictions on movement, and closures of schools, markets, and businesses.
They have issued threats of violence and death to those who do not observe the lockdown via social media, WhatsApp, and separatist-run television and radio stations. Separatists have also called for humanitarian organisations to suspend activities during the lockdown.
“We are bent on doing anything, anything that it takes for this election, this sham election, this colonial election, not [to be held] in Ambazonia,” Dieudonné said. “Our restoration forces have openly declared that there are going to be no elections taking place in their territory.”
The UN has recorded “a significant increase in incidents against civilians since December, including killings and burning of houses and villages with consequent displacement of civilians”, James Nunan, head of the UN’s aid coordination body, OCHA, in the two regions, told TNH.
How are humanitarian needs growing?
As the crisis escalates, civilians are increasingly caught in the crossfire, and assistance is harder for them to attain.
“The closure of over 40 percent of the health centres and the escalation of the crisis because of the elections is likely to intensify the deteriorating health conditions for the over four million people living in the English-speaking regions,” noted independent humanitarian analysts ACAPS on 21 January.
The International Crisis Group estimates that at least 3,000 civilians have been killed since 2016. Across the Northwest and Southwest regions, an estimated 600,000-700,000 children have been out of school since 2016, as 80 percent of schools there remain closed.
Between 9 and 15 December, 5,475 people were displaced in the Northwest region alone, fleeing military raids and clashes between separatist groups and government security forces. As of 20 December, no humanitarian assistance had been delivered to those newly displaced, OCHA said.
“The humanitarian situation is increasingly worrying.”
Most of the internally displaced people are sheltering in the bush with little access to shelter, food, or healthcare. Providing humanitarian assistance has proved challenging.
The national government has “tough procedures that must be cleared, and passages need to be negotiated with non-state armed groups”, explained Fon Nsoh, a coordinator for the Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD), a local aid NGO based in Bamenda.
“The humanitarian situation is increasingly worrying,” OCHA’s Nunan said. And it is likely to get worse, especially as displacement figures for the recent uptick of violence in January and early February are yet to be properly recorded and needs assessed.
Are civilian abuses being committed?
Whereas during the conflict’s first two years, violence against civilians and human rights abuses were perpetrated largely by government security forces, HRW’s Allegrozzi said such actions have more recently been “coming from both sides”.
“Abuses are being committed, I would say now, in an almost equal manner both by the separatists and the security forces,” she explained. “If, at the beginning, we observed more abuses from the government side, I would say that now, especially with these elections upcoming, that the frequency, the scale, and depravity of abuses committed by the separatists is really serious.”
According to Allegrozzi, armed separatist groups have targeted and assaulted civilians willing to participate in the elections. They have assaulted, threatened and tortured members and supporters of political parties, including the ruling party and Social Democratic Front, the main opposition party.
Human Rights Watch documented at least 25 cases of kidnapping of candidates to the elections since mid-November 2019, and heard reliable reports of over 100 people kidnapped by the separatists over the same period. Separatist groups have also used intimidation and violence to keep children and teachers out of schools.
Most recently, on 1 February, separatists attacked a military convoy in the Northwest region carrying a minister travelling to Mbengwi – the main town in Momo district – for election campaign activities.
“People are afraid. Not so much because they don’t want to vote, but for fear of being abused.”
Civilians have condemned the separatists’ increasingly brutal tactics.
“We all agree that the governance system is not the best,” said Magdaline Agbor Tarkang, Southwest regional president of the Cameroon Women’s Peace Movement, a local NGO. “But again, I can attest to the fact that more than 90 percent of our population don’t agree with that violence, [the] maiming of the same people you are trying to protect, killing them, abducting.”
In this climate of violence and intimidation, “people are afraid”, Tarkang told TNH. “Not so much because they don’t want to vote, but for fear of being abused. The situation is not very convenient for very free and fair elections to take place.”
Government security forces – including military personnel, gendarmes, and police – have also killed civilians, burned hundreds of houses and dozens of villages, and arbitrarily arrested and tortured hundreds of people suspected of having links to the various separatist groups.
They have “failed to adequately address the threats posed by the armed separatists”, and “conducted abusive security operations resulting in an excessive use of force, unlawful killings and destruction of property,” said Allegrozzi.
Are aid workers being targeted?
On the morning of 30 January, separatists kidnapped four staff from COMINSUD.
According to an incident report provided by the local aid NGO, abductors accused the organisation of “working with the government in registering people for elections” and “harbouring a staff of French expression serving as a spy under the pretext of doing humanitarian assistance”.
Three of the four staff members who were abducted were beaten and “subjected to different forms of psychological torture and threats”, the report said. The organisation, working alongside other humanitarian actors, negotiated the successful release of the staff the following day.
Also on 30 January, three staff from the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Foundation were abducted in Bambili, a town east of Bamenda, after separatists mistook their suggestion box for a government election box. All were later released without ransom.
What are the latest conflict dynamics?
Armed separatist groups are becoming more organised, mobilising resources from abroad, and carrying out more sophisticated attacks against government security forces.
It is estimated that between 800 and 1,000 government security forces have been killed since the conflict began in 2016. Some 300 separatist fighters have been killed, according to Dieudonné, the separatist spokesperson.
“Our life is no longer safe.”
Since early January, the military has reinforced the Northwest and Southwest regions, deploying some 700 additional gendarmes, carrying out deadly military raids and clashing with separatist groups, according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group.
According to several witnesses, government security forces carried out military raids on Sunday in Owe and Ikata villages, both in Fako district in the Southwest region, killing three civilians in Ikata. Military raids carried out since the new year have resulted in at least 28 deaths, including six in Donga Mantung, three in Babessi-Ndop, and nine in Mbiame Kumbo.
On 3 and 4 February, government security forces descended on the town of Muyuka, killing three civilians, burning down at least 45 houses, detaining some 300 people, and displacing an estimated 3,000, many of whom fled into the bush, according to eyewitness accounts.
“Our life is no longer safe,” one Muyuka resident displaced by the recent raid told TNH.
What caused the conflict?
Anglophone discord with the majority francophones has roots in the colonial era when once German Kamerun was handed over to Britain and France after World War I. The territories were granted independence in the 1960s, and anglophone Southern Cameroons voted to join francophone Cameroon to form one united country. Since then, anglophone Cameroonians have felt economically, politically, and socially marginalised.
The crisis escalated in October 2016 when peaceful protests, led by anglophone teachers and lawyers, were met with deadly force. Separatist groups took up arms, initially demanding for a return to the pre-1971 federal system that would give the anglophone regions more autonomy from an increasingly centralised government.
Through 2017, government security forces arrested and detained separatist leaders and continued a deadly crackdown on protesters and civilians.
Calls for autonomy increasingly turned to calls for outright secession and the formation of a country called Ambazonia. Separatist groups proliferated and retaliated. Tensions heightened. President Biya labelled the Ambazonia Defense Forces and other separatist groups “terrorists” and declared war against them in late 2017.
No serious attempt at mediation or exploration of greater autonomy for the western regions has yet been undertaken. Biya announced a “major national dialogue” last year, but it sidelined the separatist leaders and lacked any participation from the international players seen as key to resolving the crisis, namely the African Union and former colonial powers Britain and France.
*Source The New Humanitarian
Study in the USA: Achieve the American Dream – Part 1
February 7, 2020 | 0 Comments
By John Nkemnji, Ph.D.*
Experiencing the “American dream” is the fancy of people, not only Americans, but many youths around the world. Ambitious youths around the world who face challenges to achieve their full academic or career potential in their native countries seek solace in other countries that can afford them with better opportunities. The United States of America is one of those sought after countries.
This article explores opportunities that are available to those who seek refuge in another country to make a better life for themselves. Two of the best ways are 1) legally coming to study in an institution of higher learning and 2) immigrating through the annual Diversity Visa Lottery (DV) program. Enrolling in an institution of higher learning is possible if you have enough funds to pay the cost of tuition and board, scholarship, or sponsor. The DV Lottery program is less expensive and relies on chance. Additionally, if you immigrate via the DV Lottery program, you can still attend school.
Pursuing a student visa is an expensive pathway to moving to the United States. Applicants must prove that they have adequate funds to study in a program that is not readily available in their home country. Depending on the length of study, they may be required to show proof of at least twenty thousand dollars. Some people who do not have adequate funds attempt to enter the United States indirectly through another country. This method can be expensive, risky and unsafe as their journey can be faced with unknown circumstances. Once the costs of procuring documents and transportation fees are added up, it may end up costing just as much as providing evidence of funds available for study in an accredited school abroad. There have been instances when immigrants have died during their journey abroad or have been deported back to their home countries.
It is always best to immigrate legally as it ensures a safe path and avoids legal challenges. One must plan ahead when studying abroad. It takes time to apply for admissions, gather documents, seek a visa, and arrive in time for the start of the academic program. Many schools have application deadlines for students from other countries because the mailing system is usually not as fast or reliable. You may have to resubmit missing documents and wait for a favorable reply. Using an online school application process is convenient if you have reliable internet connection. A high degree of honesty and transparency is valued in the USA.
All schools require evidence that you will be able to succeed academically in your field of studies such as transcripts of your prior academic work, recommendations from teachers, and standardized tests (e.g. TOEFL, SAT, ACT, GRE, or GMAT) depending on the initial screening. Results of the tests will be required before final admission is granted.
An encouraging note about seeking to study abroad is that many schools know the benefit of enrolling students from other countries. The qualified applicants come to enrich the total learning experience of other students on campus. Students from nations with different values and belief systems enrich American culture. Over a million students from other countries are enrolled in US colleges, according to the Open Doors report. I know schools with about 5000 students who count over 500 students and staff from other nations each year. That gives a ration of about a tenth of the population originating from other nations. International students contribute a lot to the economy of the USA and support many jobs in a variety of important fields. A great number of researchers, doctors, professors, engineers, computer scientists, nurses, and other highly priced workers are students or personnel from other countries.
Students enter the country through a number of visa programs ranging from the popular F-1, M-1 to J-1. The F-1 visa is issued to full-time students seeking to study at an academic institution while the M-1 visa is issued to students for a vocational or non-degree granting institution. The J-1 visa is for sponsored graduate students or students on cultural exchange program who will be returning immediately to their homelands after their program completion. It is not necessary to know more about the visa types.
The order of names and the way dates are written is peculiar to systems like the Arabs, Chinese, British, French, and the US. You need to become familiar with the US system. The name format in the USA system is usually in the following order: FAMILY, MIDDLE and FIRST. If you have just two names or more than three names, use your common name as your first name and your Family/parents’ name as the Family name. You may omit the middle name and other descriptors like: nee or espouse. Your parents’ or the popular name used by the family is FAMILY Name. The name you were given at birth is your MIDDLE name and your ENGLISH or CHRISTIAN name is your First name. Do not leave the space for FIRST NAME or Family name blank because these names will be your core identity in your new nation. Some students from the Middle East with difficult to write or pronounced names adopt a popular English name while studying in the USA and relegate their real name to official documents.
The order in which dates are written is also different especially when using numbers. Americans depict dates using the following format: Month/Day/Year. Admission and application forms usually have spaces in blocks requiring you to enter a letter or number in each block while leaving an empty block between words or numbers.
*Dr. John Nkemnji is Professor Emeritus, Educational Technology. He is an educational consultant and a proponent for life-long learning. This is the first of a two part series
How Africa is increasingly looking to hydropower as a solution to growing energy demands
February 7, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Jamie MacDonald*
According to the International Energy Agency, there are currently around 600 million Africans across the continent who don’t have access to electricity. There is thus a widely recognised energy deficit in Africa which must be addressed – as a lack of access to power is a major inhibitor of economic growth and sustainable development for many African countries.
It should be taken as read that many of the power supply challenges facing Africa at the moment can be sufficiently addressed with renewable energy. With that in mind, in recent years much of the discussion around renewable energy has been centered around the generation of power from resources seen (either rightly or wrongly) as being the more accessible options for adding generation capacity – namely, solar and wind. One often overlooked resource among the options available to the continent (particularly in Southern and East Africa) – is hydropower.
The second iteration of DLA Piper’s Renewable Energy in Africa, which summarises the regulatory environment for renewable energy in Africa, highlights the key policy objectives for national governments and provides insight into the projects which are expected to deliver these goals. DLA Piper has noted that certain African policy makers and governments are increasingly looking to hydropower as a viable solution to the electricity supply problem. In fact, it is estimated that in Southern and East Africa alone, hydropower could notionally contribute an extra 31GW of power by 2030 – which would effectively double existing capacity in the region.
Angola’s hydropower potential is among the highest in Africa and is estimated at 18,200 MW. The country’s current hydropower capacity, however, sits at around just 1,200 MW. The Angolan government has recognized the gap and has set itself the target of growing its hydropower generation capacity to 9,000 MW by 2025.
Burundi has significant hydropower potential and, of the 150 potential hydropower sites identified, 29 are currently under construction. By 2020, hydropower projects are expected to increase overall capacity by 300MW, which the government hopes will give the current levels of access (which are among the lowest in the world) a much-needed boost.
Hydropower already represents 90% of Ethiopia’s installed generation capacity. Notwithstanding this dominant position in the country’s energy mix, significant hydropower investments are still being made. Once completed, the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam – which is currently still under construction – will be one of the largest hydropower dams in Africa (and indeed the world) and is expected to generate 6,450MW of additional capacity.
The government-owned Hidroeléctrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) operates Mozambique’s largest power generation plant on the Cahora Bassa hydro dam and sells 65% of its existing generation to South Africa, with the remaining 35% being distributed to the northern regions of Mozambique and sold to Zimbabwe. As of 2013, the country had 11 drainage basins with high hydrographic potential. A total of 1,446 new possible hydropower projects, with a combined estimated potential of 19GW, have been identified (which includes 351 priority projects with a combined estimated potential of 5.6GW).
The soon to be completed Baynes Hydropower station has the potential to supply both Namibia and Angola with reliable, clean electricity. The plant’s expected capacity of 600MW will be shared between both countries, with the dam functioning as a mid-merit peaking station, so that Namibia’s national power utility, NamPower, can avoid buying imported power during peak hours.
Historically, hydropower has played a key role in Tanzania’s power generation and the country aims to further increase production through both large and small-scale schemes. The government has 16 potential large-scale schemes with a combined generation capacity of 3,000MW as well as a number of small-scale schemes with a capacity of 480MW.
Zimbabwe’s strong potential for hydro schemes has been identified as a key factor in addressing the country’s electricity supply challenges related to aging generation infrastructure and increasing demand. As such, it is hoped that hydropower will be central to the successful development of a diversified electricity generation system which enables Zimbabwe to meet its target of reducing carbon emissions by 33% by 2030.
While hydropower does have its detractors, we believe there is a compelling argument for the inclusion of hydropower in the energy mix of many African nations, given its potential, to address the energy deficit in Africa.
*DLA Piper South Africa Finance & Projects Director
Gambia among 4 countries to meet Universal Access to electricity by 2025 – World Bank
February 7, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Banjul, February 6, 2020 – The Project Manager of the Energy and Extractives division of the World Bank Group in a courtesy call on President Adama Barrow on Thursday, said The Gambia is currently among four West African countries working to meet the universal access to electricity target by 2025.
Mr Charles J. Cormier recalled that when he visited The Gambia in 2017, there was crisis in the electricity sector but has observed the improvement during his current visit. He is in Banjul to take stock of all the progress registered since then.
The World Bank executive expressed delight that the number of power cuts being experienced in The Gambia today “has significantly reduced” compared to three years ago.
“If you recall in 2017, after the change of regime, there were huge power cuts of 16 to 18 cuts per day. The availability of electricity was only 25 megawatts on a grid that has a demand of up to 100 megawatts at the time,” he recalled.
As a result of that crisis, National Water and Electricity Company (NAWEC) drew up an emergency plan that development partners, donors and the government of President Adama Barrow invested in. Today, Mr Cormier said NAWEC “did a good job” to bring back the reliability of the service, to at most three power cuts a day.
“That is a huge improvement. I think the emergency plan was quite successful. The Gambia is among the few countries that wants to achieve this target five years earlier, including Ghana, Senegal, and Cote d’Ivoire,” Mr Cormier said.
His Excellency, President Adama Barrow’s vision of the electricity sector is to reach universal access by 2025. In the National Development Plan (NDP 2018- 2021), energy is categorised as “a priority sector” in the context of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030).
For President Barrow, beside access, there is also the issue of cost of electricity for average Gambians. The Gambia currently pays 23 Cents on average, while the US pays 12 cents on average for electricity. This pricing also impedes competitiveness of the economy if electricity is expensive, President Barrow said.
The Gambian leader also urged the World Bank to help NAWEC build local capacity to effectively manage the state company. The bank has invested $175million in the national energy investment plan, out of a $400million planned budget. This represents about 40 per cent.
The World Bank delegation was led to the State House by the Managing Director of NAWEC, Mr. Alpha Robinson.
Nigeria:PRESIDENT BUHARI TO ATTEND AU SUMMIT IN ADDIS ABABA
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
President Muhammadu Buhari will depart Abuja Friday to attend the Thirty-third (33rd) Ordinary Session of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
President Buhari will join leaders from the 55-member countries of the African Union to participate in the Summit with the theme, “Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development.”
The President will attend the 29th Forum of Heads of State and Government of Participating States of the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) and the 27th Session of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) Heads of State and Government Orientation Committee (AUDA-NEPAD). The meetings will precede the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly.
In Nigeria’s capacity as a member of the AU Peace and Security Council, President Buhari will participate in the High Level meeting of the Peace and Security Council on the situation in the Sahel and Libya, and High Level Ad-Hoc Committee on South Sudan.
On the margins of the Summit, the President will deliver a keynote address at a High Level Side Event on “Stop the War on Children: Dividend of Silencing the Guns.” The event is co-sponsored by the Governments of Nigeria, Uganda and Norway, and Save the Children International.
President Buhari and the Nigerian delegation will also participate in other High Level Side Events in furtherance of Nigeria’s national, regional and international goals, priorities and aspirations namely, peace and security, countering terrorism and violent extremism, economic development, asset recovery and fight against corruption.
The President will also hold bilateral meetings with several world leaders on the margins of the Summit.
At the end of the AU Summit on February 10, the Nigerian President will commence a State Visit to Ethiopia on February 11, at the invitation of the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed.
The visit is aimed at strengthening bilateral ties between Nigeria and Ethiopia and reinforcing cooperation in key areas of mutual interest between the two countries.
Before returning to Abuja, President Buhari will also interact with the Nigerian Community in Ethiopia.
The President will be accompanied by Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo State; Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State; Senator Adamu Mohammed Bulkachuwa, Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs; and Hon. Yusuf Baba, Chairman House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Others are: Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika; Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Otunba Niyi Adebayo; Minister of Defence, Major-Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd); Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed; and Princess Gloria Akobundu, National Coordinator/Chief Executive Officer, NEPAD Nigeria.
Also on the President’s entourage are, the National Security Adviser, Major-Gen. Babagana Monguno (Rtd), and the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
President Buhari is expected back in Abuja on Wednesday, February 12, 2020.
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
February 6, 2020
Charting a course for sustainable hydropower development in Africa
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
6 February 2020, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire – Senior African government representatives and leaders from the energy sector, financial institutions and civil society gathered in Abidjan today to chart a course for the sustainable development of the continent’s hydropower resources.
Organised by the International Hydropower Association (IHA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), the Africa High-level Sustainable Hydropower Roundtable looked at strategies for ensuring projects are developed in accordance with international good practice, while overcoming challenges to development and access to finance.
With close to 600 million Africans lacking access to electricity, speakers including Hon Fortune Chasi, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Energy, and Sabati Cissé, Côte d’Ivoire’s Director-General for Ministry of Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energies, emphasised the social-economic and power system benefits of investing in hydroelectricity.
Africa’s existing hydropower plants deliver 36 gigawatts (GW) of installed generation capacity, but this represents only about 11 per cent of the region’s technical potential, according to IHA (Hydropower Status Report 2019).
“As a renewable energy source offering design options from run-of-river plants to pumped storage plants, hydropower in its different forms adds significant value to power systems and the reliability of energy supply,” said Wale Shonibare, the African Development Bank’s Acting Vice President for Power Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth.
Mr Shonibare said the AfDB is committed to supporting new hydropower projects through its New Deal on Energy for Africa and has already invested close to USD 1 billion for 1.4 GW of expected installed capacity over the past ten years.
“As the Bank’s emphasis on renewable energy sources is growing, so does its interest in hydropower. In order to achieve universal access to energy, it is not enough to bring online the amount of generation capacity required to cover energy demand, it is also essential to do this in a sustainable way that assures power system reliability,” he said.
In his intervention, Minister Chasi noted that Zimbabwe, where more than half the population does not have electricity access, needs international investment and technical assistance to develop renewable energy sources including hydropower. “We consider hydropower to be essential and critical for our generation of power,” he said.
Mr Cissé noted that Africa’s hydropower plants, through increasing electricity access, contribute significantly to poverty reduction and economic growth. “Africa has enormous hydropower potential, which we will need if we want to achieve national policy priorities and the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Eddie Rich, Chief Executive of IHA, said it was important to create an enabling policy and regulatory environment to incentivise new projects, while ensuring that both greenfield and rehabilitation projects are built and operated in accordance with internationally recognised guidelines and assessment tools.
“The Hydropower Sustainability Tools, governed by a multi-stakeholder coalition of social and environmental NGOs, governments, banks and industry, must be embedded in decision-making on project selection, planning, financing, development and operation. These tools define good and best practice and help to assess whether a hydropower project is truly sustainable across objective social, environmental and governance performance measures,” he said.
The Africa High-level Roundtable on Sustainable Hydropower Development was organised with support from AFD, the French development agency.
View the list of speakers: https://www.hydropower.org/events/africa-high-level-sustainable-hydropower-roundtable.
The International Hydropower Association (IHA) is a non-profit organisation working with a network of members and partners to advance sustainable hydropower. Its mission is to build and share knowledge on hydropower’s role in renewable energy systems, responsible freshwater management and climate change solutions. IHA is also the management body for the Hydropower Sustainability Tools and provides training and accreditation for independent project assessors.
Cameroon: Rise in killings in Anglophone regions ahead of parliamentary elections
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
Armed separatists continue abductions and killings
Army burned dozens of houses, Amnesty remote sensing analysis confirms more than 50 in two areas
As of last December, 679,000 people were displaced
A surge in violence meted out by the Cameroon military since recent weeks, has led to dozens of killings and thousands of new displacements in several areas across the Anglophone regions, Amnesty International said today, ahead of parliamentary elections due to take place on Sunday 9 February.
Amid several reports of villages razed to the ground, Amnesty International remote sensing analysis confirms the burning of more than 50 houses in Babubock and neighbouring villages of Bangem in the South-West around 14 January. These destructions by the army, including killings of villagers, are serious human rights violations.
The security measures and increased military presence announced by the Cameroonian government to ensure this weekend’s vote can take place, appear to have been a pretext for a much more sinister operation. Fabien Offner, Amnesty International Lake Chad Researcher.
“The security measures and increased military presence announced by the Cameroonian government to ensure this weekend’s vote can take place, appear to have been a pretext for a much more sinister operation,” said Fabien Offner, Amnesty International Lake Chad Researcher.
“In recent weeks, brutal military operations have been conducted while crimes committed by armed separatists continue unabated. Civilians are finding themselves trapped in a spiral of violence. The authorities should take all necessary measures to protect the population and investigate these human rights violations and abuses.”
Since the 23 December 2019 armed separatists’ announcement challenging the decision of the elections to take place, Amnesty International has documented a pattern of unlawful killings by the army in the Anglophone regions.
Villages destroyed and killings by the military
On 23 January, the village of Ndoh in the South-West region was attacked. Following reports of the killing of a soldier in the area on 22 January, a group of soldiers described by one eyewitness attacked the village market and started shooting indiscriminately.
Amnesty International had the confirmation that bodies of 14 men were found after the attack, and two others two days later in the area. At least five people were wounded by gun shots, among whom a 14-year-old boy who received a bullet in the abdomen, and another 17-year-old boy who was shot in the thigh.
Amnesty International also received information from a man explaining his 30 years-old son was shot dead on 23 January as he was running away inside the bush. In January, several villages were destroyed in the South-West region. Amnesty International’s analysis of remote sensing data shows fires present in North-West of Bangem on 14 January. Later, satellite imagery from 20 January confirms that more than 50 houses in Babubock and neighbouring villages were burned to the ground during a military operation around 14 January 2020.
A humanitarian worker has also been arrested by heavily armed military men wearing uniforms of the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR in French) on 24 December 2019. Eyewitnesses told Amnesty International he was brought to a police station and later found dead on 2 January 2020 in a road, his body presenting evidence of torture and gunshot wounds to the head.
Crimes by the armed separatists
Armed separatists continue to commit serious crimes, including killings, abductions and extorsions.
On 30 January, four staffs of a humanitarian organisation were abducted by an armed separatist group, which accused them of working for the government. They were released a day later after three of them were beaten and subjected to psychological torture, according to the organisation. On 15 January, a young man was killed, and his father injured near Bamenda (North-West), as they tried to avoid checkpoints held by armed separatists.
On 3 December 2019, three people including a doctor were abducted by armed separatists between the village of Bambili and the town of Bamenda (North-West). Abductors started asking for a ransom of 5000 euros before reducing it to 100 euros. Before their release, the persons were blindfolded, and guns pointed at them while they were yelling.
Armed separatists have also asked aid workers to stop their activities during the 6 to 11 February 2020 planned lockdown they have ordered in the Anglophone regions. Only Emergency health services can continue with their activities during this period.
Increase in the number of displaced people
The violence led to an increase in the number of forcibly displaced persons. As of December 2019, there were 679,000 displaced persons in Cameroon and 52,000 refugees in Nigeria who fled from the Anglophone regions, according to humanitarian organizations. However, Cameroon Minister of territorial Administration denied the existence of a crisis and said in December 2019 that only 152,000 persons were displaced from the Anglophone regions.
“For more than three years now, people in the Anglophone regions have been caught in the violence between the military and armed groups. This crisis cannot be ignored by the authorities responsible to protect the population,” said Fabien Offner.”
“It’s time for the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights to establish and carry out a fact-finding mission into all allegations of human rights violations and abuses committed in the Anglophone regions since 2016.”For more than three years now, people in the Anglophone regions have been caught in the violence between the military and armed groups. This crisis cannot be ignored by the authorities responsible to protect the population.
*Fabien Offner ,Amnesty International
US Senate Impeachment Trial of Trump and Nigeria’s Legislative Conduct: An Assessment
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Omoshola Deji*
In Athens, 510 BC, Cleisthenes instituted democracy to foster greater: accountability of institutions and leaders to citizens and the law. Today, the tenet is being flouted with impunity, especially in developing nations, where most of the heads of parliament are puppets of the president. Nigeria tops the list. While her legislature is failing in oversight and overlooking misconducts, that of the United States (US) prosecuted President Donald Trump and almost removed him from office. This piece evaluates the two countries legislative conduct, based on the proceedings of Trump’s impeachment trial.
Process and History of US and Nigerian President Impeachment
Article II, section 4 of the US Constitution empowers Congress – comprising the House of Representatives and Senate – to remove the president from office for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors. The House and Senate gets to remove the president in two separate trials. First, the House would deliberate and approve the articles of impeachment through a simple majority vote. The second trial occurs in the Senate, where conviction on any of the articles requires a two-third majority vote, which if gotten, results in the president’s removal from office. Trump’s impeachment succeeded in the House, but failed in the Senate, denoting he remains president.
Only three presidents has been impeached throughout US over 230 year old democracy. First, Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for violating the Tenure of Office Act. Then, Bill Clinton was impeached in 1998 for perjury, obstruction of justice and having an inappropriate relationship with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. Lastly, Donald Trump was impeached December 2019. Each of the three – Johnson, Clinton and Trump – escaped removal from office through Senate’s acquittal.
Impeaching Nigeria’s president is a difficult, almost impossible task. The lengthy, extremely cumbersome process is contained in Section 143 of the 1999 Constitution. No Nigerian president has been impeached, despite their gross incompetence and serial abuse of power.
Allegations against Trump and the Buhari Comparison
Trump’s impeachment trial was a straight confrontation between the ruling Republican, and opposition Democratic Party. The president was tried on two articles of impeachment for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. The abuse of power bothers on alleged solicitation of foreign interference in the 2020 US presidential election. Trump allegedly withheld $391million aid to Ukraine; upon which he secretly pressurized President Volodymyr Zelensky (of Ukraine) to start investigating former US vice-president Joe Biden for Corruption. Trump only released the aid to Ukraine after a whistle-blower complaint.
Biden was ex-president Barrack Obama’s deputy and currently one of the Democratic Party’s presidential aspirant. Trump wants Biden and son, Hunter investigated for alleged corrupt practices during the Obama presidency’s (2009-2017) aid supply to Ukraine. The US president allegedly pressured his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate Biden, despite being aware that the US Prosecutor General had cleared him and his son of corruption in May 2019.
To ensure Biden is investigated, Trump allegedly refused to allow Zelensky visit the White House at a time Ukraine urgently needs the meeting to send fears to its aggressors – particularly Russia – that it has US backing. The Democrats insist Trump undermined US interests by his action, and must be removed for conditioning congressionally mandated aid on ‘quid pro quo’ – meaning ‘favor for favor.’
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is an adherent of ‘quid pro quo.’ His declaration that the Northern region, which gave him 95% votes would be favored than the Southeast that gave him 5% is ‘quid pro quo’ – conditioning governance favoritism on votes; favor for favor. Presidents are expected to govern with equity and fairness, but Buhari promised sectionalism and delivered as pledged. The proscription of IPOB, while killer herdsmen are operating unchecked, apparently because they’re among the 95% is a dangerous ‘quid pro quo’ adherence that can lead Nigeria into another civil war.
Aside Trump’s hold on aid, the second article of impeachment – obstruction of Congress – bothers on the president’s deliberate blockage of formal legislative inquiries. Trump allegedly instructed all government officials to ignore House subpoenas for testimonies and documents. He ensured no piece of paper or email was turned over to the House. Certainly Trump would have done worse if he’s a Nigerian.
If Trump is a Nigerian president, he would have ordered the police to lay siege on US House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi’s residence as President Buhari repeatedly did to former Senate President Bukola Saraki. Pelosi would have been distracted with false asset declaration charges till she’s acquitted by the Supreme Court. The Dino Melaye’s in her camp would have been hounded and arraigned on several trumped-up charges. If Trump is a Nigerian president, masked, heavily-armed State Security Service (SSS) operatives would have obstructed the legislators from entering the chambers to carry out impeachment.
The Democrats resolve to impeach Trump is perhaps comeuppance, but certainly an insult to Nigerians. The same legislators rebuking Trump supported Obama’s interference in Nigeria’s 2015 presidential election. The poll, as Obama desired, resulted in the first-in-history defeat of then incumbent president, Goodluck Jonathan. It is at best surprising, and at worst annoying that the same Democrats who backed Obama’s action on Nigeria are scolding Trump for trying to aid his win through foreign interference. How miserable for them to live with their own nemesis!
Unlike the US, foreign interference in Nigerian elections attracts no legislative criticism, let alone impeachment. Nigerian legislators took no action when two state governors from Niger Republic crossed into Nigeria to join Buhari’s 2019 reelection campaign in Kano State.
The abuse of power charges against Trump can’t fly for impeachment in Nigeria. Successive presidents have committed greater offenses without reprimand. Ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo spent heavily on electricity provision without result and ordered the Odi massacre. The legislature never summoned him. President Buhari has more than once repressed free speech, disobeyed court orders and spent without legislative approval. Yet the Senate has never cautioned him. Indeed, what the US lawmakers see as ‘abuse of office’ is what their Nigerian counterpart rank as ‘executive grace.’
US often punishes, but Nigeria rewards wrongdoing. The former’s first citizen, arguably the strongest man in the world was made to face a tough trial for abuse of office. His record is tainted even though he’s acquitted. Nigeria works the other way round. In the 8th Senate, suspended Senator Ovie Omo-Agege invade plenary with thugs, who took away the mace right before the cameras. Rather than prosecute him to serve as a deterrent, the ruling party rewards him with the exalted position of deputy-senate president in the subsequent, current 9th Senate. Omo-Agege is currently leading the same chamber he desecrated. Such can’t occur in the US.
Trial Debate: Democrat vs. Republican
The US senate impeachment trial of Trump was a pure intellectual, thrilling and rigorous debate. The House Managers, comprising mainly the Democrats argued that Trump deserves to be sacked for obstructing Congress investigation; promoting foreign interference in US election; and withholding economic, diplomatic and military aid to a strategic US ally (Ukraine) in need.
Defending the allegation, Trump’s defense team, comprising the Republicans, contend that the Democrats are trying to upturn Trump’s mandate in order to prevent him from contesting the next election. They argued that Trump withheld aid to Ukraine because 1) he wants a burden sharing agreement with Europe; and 2) he was unsure of its efficient use, due to the high level of corruption in Ukraine.
Opposing the submission, the Democrats argued that Trump showed no interest in Ukraine’s corruption before Biden announced his presidential ambition. The Republicans disagreed, and accused the Democrat caucus of using impeachment to shield Biden from corruption investigation. They insist Biden has a case to answer over his actions on Ukraine when he was vice-president.
Contesting the obstruction of Congress article, Trump’s team argued that the president has the power to assert immunity on his top aides, and he did so against Congress to protect the sensitive operations of government from getting to the public. Citing former presidents that have used such privilege, the Republicans argued that the Democrat-sponsored articles of impeachment is wholly based on presumptions, assumptions and unsupported conclusions. The Democrats, however refused to back down; they insist they have a “mountain of evidence” to prove Trump is guilty.
To support their arguments, both the House Managers and Trump’s defense team went deep into the archives; they went as far as referencing what happened in 1796, during the administration of the first US President George Washington. Several Supreme Court judgments, dating back to 1893 were cited. Both parties showed resourcefulness as they used historical, legal and rational arguments to establish their case. Their knowledge of history, politics and law in astounding.
Sadly, majority of Nigerian legislators lack such proficiency. Their contribution to motions are often based on partisan, personal interests and their arguments are often shallow, uninformative and irrational. While watching the trial, I couldn’t help but crave for power to order Nigerian legislators into the US Senate to learn functional legislative practice.
Plenary Session: Nigeria-US Comparison
Both the US House and Senate displayed exceptional commitment to public involvement. Many nations won’t permit the live airing of a sensitive issue such as the impeachment trial of a president. But the US stands out. Every minute of the trial was aired live to the local and global population. Nigerian House and Senate are not doing badly in this regard. Most of their sessions are aired live, including the election of principal officers. However, as being done in the US, the Nigerian legislature needs to make public the details of her income, constituency projects and budgetary allocations.
US senators are more open than their Nigerian counterpart. They boldly reveal their planned vote and the reasons for their decision. Many disclosed that they would vote on the impeachment based on personal conviction and desired legacy. Nigerian senators understandably can’t be that outspoken out of the fear of being hounded. This doesn’t however rob off the fact majority of them vote ‘aye’ or ‘nay’ based on financial gain, ethnic and religious sentiments, party instruction, and ‘quid pro quo.’
Public interest is not always primary to politicians, including the US senators. Most of the Republican senators were more interested in acquitting Trump than ensuring a fair trial. They denied the public access to crucial information by voting against the admission of additional witnesses and documents. Voting in favor of the motion would have made the Senate evaluate the leaked indicting videos and testimonies of crucial anti-Trump witnesses such as John Bolton, the ex-national security adviser. Without a doubt, Nigerian progressive senators would have done same to save Buhari.
The US legislators conduct at plenary and commitment to national service need to be emulated by the Nigerian Senate. The US Senate leaders and the Chief Justice, John Roberts coordinated the sessions impartially. They, unlike their Nigerian counterpart, acted neutral, even though they too (as humans) have their own viewpoint and desires. They set rules that would make everyone listen and participate such as prohibiting the use of phones.
Rather than deploy speech interjection, shout-match and walk-out as commonly done in Nigerian chambers, the US legislators acted responsibly. No one spoke without being recognized and they yield back time promptly. More than once they sat for about twelve hours on the impeachment and everyone stayed on strong. If the impeachment trial took place in Nigeria, the senate president would have hurriedly adjourn sitting or ‘dabaru’ the process in favor of his party. Moreover, the senators, many of whom are old and lazy, would have yelled for adjournment or sleep off.
Trump’s acquittal by the US senate sets a bad precedence for succeeding presidents to solicit foreign interference in US election and obstruct the investigation of Congress. Conversely, conviction would have opened the door for future sharply partisan, malicious impeachments.
Both the United States and Nigeria need more executive-legislature synergy. The frosty relationship between Trump and Pelosi has worsened over the impeachment trial. They must be reconciled for the benefit of the American people. It’s difficult, but not impossible to have intergovernmental synergy and a vibrant legislature under the Buhari administration. Perhaps Senate President Ahmed Lawan and House Speaker Femi Gbajabiamila need to attend classes on ‘how to function without being a puppet.’
US democracy is not perfect, but Nigeria has a lot to learn from it. The latter must adopt the former’s positive deeds and embrace attitudinal change. One may blame the large efficiency gap between US and Nigeria’s democracy on the year of adoption. US democracy is over 230 years old, while Nigeria’s current democratic experiment is only 20 years old. But then, if Nigeria’s systemic failure is anything to go by, it will take us over a thousand years to achieve the progress US made in 230 years. The reason is not far-fetch. US has what Nigeria lacks: Transparency, accountability and leadership commitment to growth and development.
*Omoshola Deji is a political and public affairs analyst. He wrote in via firstname.lastname@example.org
Roadshow to Help Rwandan Businesses Tap Into AfCFTA
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
Afreximbank, PSF Will Showcase Opportunities from IATF2020 Participation
Kigali, 06 Feb. 2020 – The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced a roadshow in Kigali to show the Rwandan private sector how it can become a primary beneficiary of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which will provide significant opportunities to access the largely untapped markets and sectors in an integrated African market of over 1.3 billion people.
Organised in collaboration with Rwanda’s Private Sector Federation (PSF) on 11 February 2020, the roadshow will seek to raise the awareness of the Rwandan private sector about the substantial benefits of attending the second Intra-African Trade Fair (IATF2020) which will take place in Kigali from 1 to 7 September 2020.
According to Afreximbank, Rwandan businesses can take advantage of the AfCFTA by establishing new networks of business buyers and sellers from across the African continent, enabling the country to significantly expand its intra-African trade.
Prof. Benedict Oramah, President of Afreximbank, said: “Rwanda’s economic transformation is undoubtedly one of Africa’s success stories. Rwandan businesses can further capitalise on this achievement by positioning themselves to take full advantage of the AfCFTA. Its removal of intra-African trade tariffs, progressive dismantling of non-tariff barriers and protectionism, will create a genuine single continental market. By attending IATF2020, they will gain an unrivalled opportunity to showcase their goods and services to buyers from across the African continent, whilst establishing new trade and investment links with a wide network of private and public sector players from more than 55 different countries.”
IATF2020 is expected to be Africa’s main trade event of 2020 and is aimed at providing a marketplace for buyers and sellers of products and services from Africa and beyond to meet and explore business opportunities. It will offer a platform for Business-to-Business and Business-to-Government exchanges, as well as business networking and development opportunities leading to the expected conclusion of trade and investment deals worth $40 billion.
The operational phase of the AfCFTA will commence on 1 July 2020.
Zimbabwean authorities urged to take action to preserve and protect wetlands
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has urged responsible authorities to take urgent action to preserve and protect the country’s wetlands.ZLHR made the remarks as Zimbabwe joined the world on 2 February 2020, in celebrating World Wetlands Day under the theme‘Wetlands and Biodiversity’.
According to ZLHR, with the increasing threats of climate change, Zimbabwe’s wetlands are critical to the survival of ecosystems and water sources.
Wetlands act as a carbon sinks, mitigating climate change, and
sustaining high biodiversity of animal and plant life. Wetlands are like giant sponges, absorbing water, which would otherwise be lost as run-off, preventing flooding, siltation and erosion. The water absorbed throughout the rain season is slowly released in the dry season into the stream and river systems, finding its way into major supply dams, such as Chivero and Manyame.
Without the wetlands, the dams would quickly run dry in winter
months and poor rainy seasons. The wetlands also filter and purify the groundwater before it enters the water supply, protecting against disease and toxins.The degradation and loss of wetlands have increased siltation and pollution of dams, it has been reported.
Zimbabwe is a state party to the Ramsar Convention (the Convention on Wetlands of Intentional Importance, especially as Waterfowl Habitat, Ramsar, 1971). The state has designated seven wetlands as Ramsar Sites of international importance including Monavale wetland, Victoria Falls, Lake Chivero and Chinhoyi Caves among others.
According to ZLHR, although there are domestic legal provisions for the protection of wetlands in the Environmental Management Act, it is reported that the country is facing unprecedented levels of development and degradation of wetlands.
In the face of this crisis, ZLHR with its partners the Harare Wetlands Trust have been working on a sustained campaign to protect wetlands through litigation and advocacy efforts.
It is reported that several favourable judgments and out of court settlements have been finalised to protect core wetlands, such as the University of Zimbabwe wetland, Monavale Ramsar
site, Marlborough wetland, Rhodesville wetland and Boundary Road wetland.
In response to its advocacy efforts, ZLHR says that it welcomes the recent responses from Zimbabwean authorities, who have started to acknowledge the extent of the wetlands crisis and the need for reform.
However, ZLHR says that it notes that without urgent action, the wetlands, their biodiversity, their critical ecosystem services and water sources will be irrevocably impacted.
On the World Wetlands Day, ZLHR has called on the authorities,
particularly the Parliament of Zimbabwe, the Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry, the Environmental Management Agency, the City of Harare, and all local authorities across the country, to honour the commitments that have been made, and to urgently implement measures for the protection of wetlands including expert mapping of wetlands, gazetting of wetlands to prohibit development on wetlands except in the most exceptional circumstances, managing and restoring wetlands and establishing nature reserves on wetlands.
ZLHr says that the recommendations are made in accordance with Zimbabwe’s obligations as a state party to the Ramsar Convention, and in terms of section 4 of the Environmental Management Act, and sections 73 and 77 of the Constitution, to protect the environment and our water resources for present and future generations.
USA Business Delegates to Stand Firmly on the side of Zimbabwean Women in Dubai
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
Zimbabwe’s financially empowered bevy of women in Business will be backed by USA Business plenipotentiaries and conscripts of economic acumen this year from 21 to 22 February. The Do Dubai Conference will attract more than 200 top business executives, Small to Medium Enterprise women and young women of business fabric society.
This is time for women to rise and shine. Women have risen to greater heights accelerated by the 1995 Beijing Declaration for Action. A number of women are in top leadership positions at Global Level. Women according to UN-WOMEN are 30% in decision making positions like in Parliament looking at Zimbabwe.
Among these, Abigail Magwenzi Commander In Chief of Red-Lip-Stick Revolution delineated that time for women to shine. She noted that the glamorous event will be graced by delegates from USA these, she adds will add a link of social interaction with Zimbabwe business women.
‘’Our main objective is to program a mind-set that is business wise in identifying new greater opportunities in the midst of our challenges. In other words we have to look at issues lagging and blocking our business. Obviously we have to talk about solar energy.
‘’We have to build bridges between Zimbabwe and Dubai. Besides, we look at other countries like USA that we are inviting .We haves a number of business delegate from some other countries. We have delegates from the USA and those from Asia, Africa and Zimbabwe which is expected out of the total number of delegates likely to score high. It’s time to show and display market intelligence, network, share experiences and identify financial solutions for Business’’.
‘’USA and some Asian countries will have a number of the top business delegates of high
Fabric and financial muscle. There are goals like poverty eradication which we want to score in terms of goals on empowerment and equality.
‘’It’s time for Zimbabwean women to shine in the Global market looking at making women become entrepreneurs and different leaders. Dubai is targeted because of its Global central point in terms of business. It is a hive of various business activities attracting 1 billion tourists World-Wide.
Dr Magwenzi one of Zimbabwe’s first millionaires believes in hard-working to become a millionaire. She notes millionaires work hard to become what they are. She has a belief as well that if women are empowered they can become Leaders. However she adds that there should be an equal society.
‘’Women to be empowered they need to brought up in an equal society. As Red Lip Stick Revolution we create an equal society they empower all women so that they become business leaders of top skills. My organisation trains, capacitates and imparts skills in women from grass roots. In-fact we want to grow a community of rich women.
‘’That is the reason why we have engaged USA so that our women can socially interact to become leaders in the country. There are also Asian business gurus from China and Dubai we will come although there is a challenge of corona- virus. Dubai despite anything is safe destination of sundry activities ranging from business to Tourism.’’, says Abigail.
Vandudzai Zireva of BUY ZIMBABWE buttressed Abigail‘s points by announcing that Zimbabwe will run a Supermarket in Dubai so that Dubai can experience Zimbabwe’s products.
‘’Zimbabwe shall have a supermarket in Dubai. We have to do this so that Dubai can experiences the sound of our products. Secondly, this is for social interaction, business experience and growing opportunities in terms of Investments’’ , she announced.
The 2020 Dubai Women Conference is expected to make women grow in business by opening up new channels for economic development and growth. Experts, have noted, Zimbabwe’s economic index in terms of Gross Domestic Product will rise through promoting and supporting women through financial and resource empowerment.
Support African solutions to challenges facing the continent, President Kenyatta tells American Institutions
February 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON DC, 5th February 2020, (PSCU)—President Uhuru Kenyatta has asked American institutions to support indigenous African solutions fashioned to address governance challenges facing the continent.
The President said the US and the world at large have a lot to gain by making Africa work for its people.President Kenyatta spoke on Wednesday in Washington DC when he addressed leaders of the Atlantic Council at a forum dubbed “The Future of The US-Kenya Strategic Partnership”
The Atlantic Council is an American Atlanticist international affairs think-tank founded in 1961 as a non-partisan institution aimed at galvanizing the US leadership and engaging with the world for purposes of finding solutions to global challenges.
The council uses its forums to influence US policies to make them responsive to the needs of a free, secure and prosperous world.
President Kenyatta cautioned American institutions against advancing democracy as a one-size-fits-all prescription saying the approach undermines the foundations upon which the concept is based.
He said African countries should be given opportunities to engineer new approaches that support and extend democracy in line with their realities.
“It requires bringing more nuance to how we make judgements about politics, and the resulting interventions countries like the United States should undertake,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State pointed out that Kenya is currently engineering its own homegrown solutions to political, social and governance challenges facing it through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
He said the BBI process “is a homegrown (Kenyan) solution for a divisive political culture that has often sparked electoral crises over the last thirty years”.
The Kenyan leader noted that BBI, which was framed as anchor for his “handshake” with Raila Odinga, his main challenger in the last presidential election, is aimed at addressing cyclic post-election violence by ensuring inclusivity in government.
He said inclusivity is needed in Kenyan politics for democracy to thrive adding that his coming together with Raila Odinga “disoriented the politics of extremism and division”.
President Kenyatta invited the Atlantic Council and similar American institutions to take interest in the BBI saying the process will deliver bold reforms that will advance inclusion, economic uplift, countering corruption and strengthening institutions.
“As a think-tank, you should delve deeper into the BBI process. It is not as simple as it looks. We have found a number of countries seeking to learn from it in trying to re-engineer their politics and social contracts.
“We have been open in sharing. In time, I believe that this may emerge as a unique model that can be adopted and domesticated elsewhere in Africa and worldwide,” President Kenyatta said.
On the US-Africa partnership, the President cautioned against the repeat of historical mistakes as he called on African and American institutions to focus on exploiting available business opportunities for the mutual economic benefit of all parties.
“We must begin to look at Africa as the world’s biggest opportunity, if you can dare look at it with a fresh eye and a sense of history. And Kenya is a key country in converting that opportunity into mutual gain,” he said.
President Kenyatta pitched for strong US-Africa partnership saying the current African leadership is not motivated by the perpetuation narrow partisan interests but rather focused on empowering the continent’s citizens economically.
“I have noticed in the conversation in Western countries and their counterparts in Asia and the Middle East a return to competition over Africa. In some cases weaponising divisions, pursuing proxy actions, and behaving like Africa is for the taking. It is not,” President Kenyatta said.
Responding to questions from the audience, President Kenyatta said Kenya’s strategy for continued economic growth is focused on designing a social contract that addresses concerns of all Kenyans.
The President of the Atlantic Council Mr Frederick Kempe said Kenya is one of the most valuable US partners in the war against terrorism.
Mr Kempe said despite numerous terrorist attacks, Kenya has remained steadfast an economic, commercial and logistics hub of the East African region and a global leader in the development of mobile money and financial inclusion with over 80 percent of regional trade flowing through the Mombasa port.
Present at the forum were US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and also a former US Ambassador to Kenya Johnny Carson, and Amb Linda Thomas-Greenfield who is a former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.
Others were former US Ambassador to Multiple African Countries Terence McCully and U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa Dr Peter Pham.