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Zimbabwe’s human rights lawyers urge govt to promote human rights and democracy
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) has on World NGO Day called upon all members of the public to celebrate the contributions of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) towards the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and inclusive development across the globe.

World NGO Day is commemorated every year on the 27th of February, and
it aims to pay tribute to the NGOs, HRDs and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which perform the vital, but often unnoticed, work of defending human rights, promoting democracy and providing social assistance to the most vulnerable members of society.

The day is also an opportunity for states to reflect on the steps that they should take in order to create an enabling and welcoming environment for NGOs. The people who work in NGOs and CSOs are often exposed to great personal risk because of the systematic harassment they experience at the hands of authorities all around the world.

World NGO Day therefore seeks to celebrate the bravery of these people
and call for an end to their persecution everywhere.

NGOs and CSOs enjoy special recognition from international bodies such
as the United Nations (UN) and the African Union (AU). NGOs can obtain
consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC)
and this status will grant NGOs access to ECOSOC, its many subsidiary
bodies, the various human rights mechanisms of the United Nations and
special events organized by the President of the General Assembly. The
AU has a Civil Society Division that has a mandate of ensuring that
the contributions of civil society permeate all aspects of AU
principles, policies and programmes.

NGOs that have consultative status with ECOSOC can be accredited to participate in the sessions of the Human Rights Council (HRC) as
observers. This observer status grants NGOs access to the HRC
secretariat, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
(OHCHR).

Observer status also allows NGOs to attend and observe proceedings of
the HRC, submit written statements, make oral submissions and
participate in debates and panel meetings. The African Commission on
Human and Peoples’ Rights also grants observer status to NGOs. The
Commission relies on NGOs to draw attention to violations of its
Charter by state parties, bring communications on behalf of
individuals and increase awareness about the Commission’s activities.

NGOs protect and promote democracy, provide humanitarian assistance,
provide social services, raise awareness about important societal
issues and provide technical expertise that promotes sustainable
development.

NGOs play an indispensable role in the promotion and survival of
democracy worldwide. They play the crucial function of fighting the
abuse of power by states. They expose the violation of human rights by
state actors and take legal action in order to obtain redress for the
victims of the human rights violations.

 It is reported that the legal action taken by NGOs also serves to fight state impunity andpressure governments to desist from the violation of human rights. ZLHR, for example, works on anti-impunity cases that are meant to hold state actors accountable for human rights violations.

 It is added that the anti-impunity cases that ZLHR works on have the dual purpose of obtaining relief for the victims of state-sanctioned violence and of influencing the authorities to desist from violent practices that lead
to expensive lawsuits. NGOs also promote democracy by spreading
knowledge about human rights and constitutional rights within
communities.

The advocacy work and litigation work by NGOs serves to ensure that
governments remain accountable to their electorates. NGOs also provide
human resources, medicines and food to victims of natural disasters
across the globe.

Apart from humanitarian assistance, they also provide resources and
special services to persons living with disabilities, the elderly,
vulnerable women and children. NGOs also provide technical expertise
that can be used by governments to develop programmes that will
promote development or address pressing societal issues.

In the context of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, NGOs have
played an instrumental role in the design and implementation of
responses to the pandemic. In addition, they have been involved in
providing direct health services to communities as well as providing
social assistance to the most vulnerable members of society.

NGOs have documented human rights violations as many states have used
the COVID-19 pandemic as a convenient excuse for cracking down on
human rights and democracy.

NGOs face threats to their existence despite the vital contributions
they make to society.

States are using laws to restrict the space of operation of NGOs.

In Zimbabwe, members of NGOs and CSOs are often victims of systematic
harassment by authorities in the form of arbitrary arrests,
intimidation, criminalization of civil society work and character
assassination. In addition, the rights to assembly and association are
being restricted by Zimbabwean authorities, which has the effect of
hampering the activities of NGOs and CSOs.

ZLHR therefore calls upon the Zimbabwean authorities to cease all
actions that serve to restrict the operational space and work of NGOs.
In addition, ZLHR condemns the systematic prosecution, harassment and
intimidation of human rights defenders (HRDs) and members of the NGO
sector by the Zimbabwean authorities.

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Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO Appointment:Nigeria currently undergoing a new wave of resurgence, limelight internationally — Amb Olumoko
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

Says:

* President Buhari should take advantage of the goodwill President Biden have to combating insurgency effectively.

* It’s sad how the political classes continue to dump political appointees on the Foreign Service.

* Let’s revert to heydays; let fewer political appointees head important but not strategic posts.

By Olayinka Ajayi

Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand
Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand

Ambassador Olufunso Olumoko is a former Nigerian career Ambassador to Thailand with current accreditation to Myanmar. In this interview, Amb. Olumoko decried the excessive appointment of non-career Ambassadors over trained Ambassadors. He urged the government to revert to heydays by allowing less political appointees head important but not strategic posts among other issues. Excerpts:    

What is your view on America’s new policy on LBGT and pushing to other countries like Nigeria for bilateral relations?

 It is within the prerogative of the Biden administration to articulate whatever social policies that are in tandem with the Democrats’/Liberal philosophy in the USA. However, Biden should not try to force or coral any other country that does not share the same outlook to follow the same doctrine. Biden should respect the different cultural, religious and social systems of other countries and not willy-nilly tie them to US preferences.

To try to sanction Nigeria over her policy on LGBT will be wrong-headed and Nigeria will resist it to the hilt as same sex marriage and other LGBT peculiarities are anathema to the basic grains and mores of the Nigerian society. It will be a wrong start and will definitely strain US/NIGERIA relations that otherwise promise to be resurgent and robust under a Biden administration.

On Okonjo-Iweala election as DG of WTO

Her recent confirmation is not only a pride to Nigeria and Africa but also to womanhood. Ngozi, in terms of intellect, sagacity and bravura, is an amazon of a lady who can stand her own any day and anywhere has been so amply demonstrated in the course of her high wire campaigns and the subsequent global “politicking” that only delayed her confirmation. It’s impossible to cover a shining star!

This brings up an important issue. Nigeria should always put her best foot forward. If she puts on her best candidates she’ll always excel. Just imagine if Nigeria had not wisely substituted her original candidate for this position and fielded a more formidable and better qualified Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala? Nigeria is currently undergoing a new wave of resurgence and limelight internationally because she’s fielding her “first teams” and its yielding results. A few examples will suffice: Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General(UN D/SG), Akinwunmi Adesina at the African Development Bank(AfDB), Benedict Oramah at the African Export Import Bank(Afreximbank)  Bankole Adeoye, AU Commissioner for Political, Peace and Security and now Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala at the WTO!

As for the performance of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, there’s no doubt she’ll acquit herself creditably in her new position. She comes well prepared, intellectually and with very good experience both internationally and nationally being twice Nigeria’s Finance Minister.

Both in her campaign debates and acceptance speech, she has set the tone and clearly outlines her priorities at WTO. Given her track records, I have no doubts at all that Ngozi will do impressively well and make Nigeria exceedingly proud that come 2025 when her current term ends, she’ll be re-elected for a second term. Mark my words!

But some are of the view that Joe Biden’s administration support for Okonjo-Iweala’s WTO election could give a soft landing for reconsideration of LGBT in Nigeria?

Such perception is puerile, and it underestimates the quality of Nigeria’s foreign policy decision makers and Nigeria’s stature in the comity of nations.

Agreed, Nigeria may have its internal problems, but she cannot be taken for suckers by the US. Support for Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for soft landing for reconsideration of LGBT?

As I already stated the issue of LGTB is so basic and fundamental and an anathema to the two major religions systems in Nigeria that it’s laughable that a go-ahead by the US for Ngozi is in exchange for Nigeria softening its LGBT stance!

Nigeria refusing LGBT, how do we strengthen the US, Nigeria bilateral relations stronger than the Trump administration?

LGBT should be the least of US interests in Nigeria. Even in the US what proportion of the US takes the issue as fundamental? Only a minority. So, why do we carry it over our heads as if the whole heaven is coming down? We should be careful of people with religious agenda in Nigeria.

There are more important areas for US/Nigeria relations such as security, military cooperation, cooperation in fending off Boko Haram,  kidnapping and pirates in the Gulf of Guinea, immigration, economic(investments, renewal of AGOA, cooperation in revamping  the power sector, cooperation in the areas of 21st century digital and knowledge based economy etc), strengthening the US-Nigeria Bi-national Commission.

On Insurgency

In terms of Nigeria/US cooperation in fighting insurgency, I think Nigeria should take this aspect extremely seriously because insurgency and general insecurity are posing existential danger not only to Nigerians but to Nigeria herself as a corporate entity.

Nigeria should enter into a robust, focused and transparent collaboration with the USA in securing the hardware, logistics support, maintenance and training support to confront decisively this menace. 

Under the Trump administration, Nigeria entered into an agreement to buy about 12 “Tucano” attack aircrafts from the US. President Buhari should take advantage of the goodwill President Biden seems to have, presently, for Nigeria and ensure he firmly secure this deal and get these aircrafts delivered without any further delay with a view to combating the insurgency effectively. I will also urge the Nigerian government to also explore ways of securing drones from the US, for instance, to track the Sambisa forest and the Lake Chad region, which have been identified as havens for the terrorists and effectively neutralize them.

All these efforts would not only deal decisively with the Boko Haram insurgency internally, but also deal a devastating blow to key ISIS and ISWAP cells operating in the region. 

From the apparent friendly disposition of President Joe Biden towards Nigeria about four Nigerian-Americans have been proposed for important positions, including cabinet Nigeria should seize this opportunity and develop a close rapport with President Biden’s administration. This is rather different from the Trump administration that was negative towards Africa and referred to African countries as “shitholes”!

How would you describe the proposed appointments of retired Service chiefs as non career Ambassadors?

 It is extremely saddening that in Nigeria, in particular, the political classes continue to dump political appointees on the Foreign Service. These political appointees are often offered plum diplomatic postings  as Ambassadors at the expense of Career Officers, who through their entire career, have been professionally trained with a view to attaining the rank of Ambassador as the nadir of their careers.

A couple of months ago, President Muhammadu Buhari appointed initially 53 Non-Career Ambassadors to only 40 Career Ambassadors. The sadder aspect is that about a quarter of these Career Ambassadors are being sent out as Deputies to political appointees!

Now, with the subsequent appointments of the 5 ex-service chiefs as Ambassadors, the proportion of political appointees to the professionals was 58 to 40.It was even worse under OBJ’s first term, when the proportion was 80:20!

For me, whether the appointment of the five ex-service chiefs as Ambassadors was justified or not, is not the issue. I perceive it within the larger context of using the Diplomatic Service as a political dumping ground at the detriment of the Foreign Service, not only in terms of denial of opportunities for deserving Career Officers but also in terms of quality of representation. Let me be clear. Agreed, many countries have political appointees as Ambassadors, but they appoint just a handful. In fact, some countries, such as Italy do not have political appointees as Ambassadors at all!

It’s also my view that Nigeria’s key Missions like in the UK, USA, France, Russia and China should be manned by Career Ambassadors. It would be recalled that in the golden years of Nigeria’s Foreign Policy, our key Missions were headed by top notch Career Ambassadors like Ambs. Olu Sanu, Olujimi Jolaoso and Ignatius Olisemeka at different times Ambassadors respectively (Washington, DC), Aminu Sanusi(Peking, China) George Dove-Edwin(London, UK), Hamzat Ahmadu(Moscow, USSR) and P.L Udoh(Paris, France).

We should revert to those heydays and let fewer political appointees head important but not strategic posts. All these key posts, especially Washington and London have consistently been headed by political appointees whose performances have often been subpar!


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RwandAir becomes the 1st African Airline to use IATA Travel Pass.
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Rwanda-Kigali—RwandAir has become the first Airline in Africa to trial AITA TRAVEL PASS SMART-PHONE APP. This enables passengers to easily and security verify their covid-19 tests and vaccinations status and compliance with all travel requirements.

This is important to Governments of the world which require proof verification to safeguard their people from covid-19 effects. It is important especially during this era with companies in a bid to do business safely and securely.

It is also easy to manage Health issues at hand to meet all the requirements without any challenge. This does not need any paper work meaning that it saves paper and demands no manual work. At the end there is issuance of a certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis. This is an advantage to customers, airline industry and partners and stake holders in business.

The 3-week trial in April is for RwandAir flights between Kigali and Nairobi, Kenya. IATA Travel Pass is a digital platform to all passengers using air-lines. It builds confidence in business conglomerations. The Health of travellers and their partners becomes easy to manage.

YVonne Manzi Makolo, Chief Executive Officer of RwandAir said the innovation comes at a time Governments of the World are in a fight to eliminate the pandemic of covid-19.

‘’IATA’s innovative solution simplifies and digitally transmits information required by countries and Governments World-Wide into Airline systems in secure and efficient manner. It will make it easy for our customers to fly’’.

Alexandre de Juniac -IATA Director and Chief Executive Officer said RwandAir is showing leadership in the airline industry. He said the airline has used IATA products for a long time which tells more confidence it has with IATA . This is history of working in partnership to fight covid-19.

‘’RwandAir is showing its Industry leadership in Africa by becoming the first airline to the continent to trial AITA Travel Pass. RwandAir has long used AITA products. This will build on history of working in partnership and takes steps in covid-19.

‘’This gives confidence to re-open their boarders knowing that arriving passengers are in full compliance with any testing or vaccination requirements ‘’. ’.

The APP has features of registry of testing centres and labs at departure and arrival location which can conduct tests in accordance with type of tests required for the journey. Customers becoming used to the innovation creates ‘’Digital App’’ which verifies pre-travel covid-19 test or vaccination that meets requirements. Vaccination certificates and share of tests makes it easy for customers to do business with participating authorities and airlines in smooth, seamless travel around the world.

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Zimbabwe’s state of the media report for 2020 unveiled by MISA-Zimbabwe
February 28, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

MISA Zimbabwe has published its annual state of the media report which takes a look at the media landscape and operating environment with regards to freedom of expression, access to information, digital rights and media freedom in 2020 in Zimbabwe.

According to the report, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), together with the Public Order and Security Act, enacted in 2002, were among some of the most repressive laws used to suppress media freedom and free speech in Zimbabwe.

 It is reported that scores and scores of journalists were arrested under AIPPA while newspapers such as The Daily News and The Tribune were closed under this law which at that time was used as the weapon of choice against dissenting voices and media workers.

 It however adds that  with the coming into being of the 2013 Constitution with its highly acclaimed Bill of Rights and explicit provisions on citizens’ right to access to information, it became increasingly clear that AIPPA was anathema to the enjoyment of the very same right it purported to protect.

The point was driven home under Section 62 of the 2013 Constitution (on access to information), that new legislation should be enacted to give effect to the enjoyment of that right, thus paving way for the repealing of AIPPA.

It is in that regard that the enactment of the Freedom of Information Act in July 2020, as part of the unbundling of AIPPA, was welcomed as one of the progressive steps taken by the government of Zimbabwe towards the alignment of the country’s laws with the Constitution.

During the year under review, and as the country forged ahead with the media policy and law reform processes, another significant milestone was the licensing of the country’s first-ever privately owned’ television stations and community radio stations.

However, these otherwise positive outcomes on the media reforms front were marred by the government’s seeming determination to amend the 2013 Constitution prior to the alignment of several laws that are not in sync with the country’s supreme law enacted in 2013.

This came in the wake of the conclusion of the public hearings on the Constitution Amendment No.2 Bill. The Bill gazetted on 17 January 2020, is made up of 27 sections that propose to amend no less than 30 sections of the Constitution.

 MISA-Zimbabwe says that the proposed amendments follow the first amendment to the 2013 Constitution which gave the President powers to unilaterally appoint the Chief Justice, Deputy Chief Justice and Judge President of the High Court.

The tampering with the Constitution at a time when several laws which have an impact on the enjoyment of the rights enshrined in Zimbabwe’s Bill of Rights, is widely viewed as being aimed at centralising the President’s powers, which vitiates against the principle of separation of powers to allow for democratic checks and balances in the spirit of good governance and accountability.

 It is reported that another dent that cast further aspersions on the government’s commitment to uphold and respect constitutionally guaranteed rights was the spike in the harassment, arrests and assaults of journalists, human rights activists and members of opposition political parties, despite promises by the post-2017 and post-2018 elections Zanu PF government, to break with the ills of the era of former President Robert Mugabe.

For instance, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono was arrested twice during the course of the year on two separate charges and denied bail at the Magistrates Courts, in the process enduring long detention periods at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. For each of the separate charges, Chi’nono only managed to secure his freedom after being granted bail by the High Court.

 According to MISA-Zimbabwe,it is against these retrogressive developments, that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, Clement Nyaletsossi Voule, noted in a report during the year under review, that Zimbabwe was suffering from political polarisation and poor governance.

The Special Rapporteur noted then, that civic space continued to deteriorate, re-establishing an environment of fear and persecution.

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Ghana: Poor Education Causing Panic on COVID-19 Vaccines-Immunologist
February 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Arrival of COVID 19 vaccines in Ghana. Photo credit Francis Kokoroko / UNICEF
Arrival of COVID 19 vaccines in Ghana. Photo credit Francis Kokoroko / UNICEF

Ghana will from first week in March 2021 start vaccinating its populace with the two different types of COVID-19 vaccines available for use in the country. Prior to the arrival of the vaccines on 24th February 2021 there were mixed reactions as a result of the many conflicting theories about the vaccine. While many of the citizenry are of the view that the vaccines among other theories targets depopulating blacks, experts are calling for the right information to forestall public confidence in the process.

Immunologist, Dr Bernard Amoani at the Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Ghana asserts in winning public trust to achieved the desired result for this immunization, Government must use the right people to channel the appropriate information on the vaccines for a smooth take-off and a successful roll-out.

According to him, the available vaccines – COVID-19 mRNA vaccines and viral vector vaccines saw its preliminary data on the impact in Scotland reducing the risk of hospitalization substantially as such, this shows real promise that the vaccines could protect the citizenry from the severe effects of COVID-19.

“Findings from the first study to assess the impact of COVID-19 vaccination on prevention of severe illness in communities reveals four weeks after administration of a first dose, the risk of hospitalization was reduced by up to 85% by the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and up to 94% by the Astra Zeneca vaccine”.

But Ghana has more than 3 variants of the covid-19 strains, hence the growing concerns about which type of the variants are the two available vaccines targeting to provide immunity for.   

Prof. Alfred Yawson, Head of Community Health Department, University of Ghana Medical School explains the UK variants is predominant in Ghana hence the Astra Zeneca vaccine and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines works perfectly for Ghana as well.

“We have carried out tests and we realized the UK variant is the dominant one in Ghana so the vaccines they use also fit well for us”.   

Available literature on the benefit of mRNA vaccines, like all other vaccines, reveals those vaccinated gains protection without ever having to risk the consequences of getting sick with COVID-19. COVID-19 mRNA vaccines instruct the cells to make a harmless piece of spike protein that is found on the surface of the virus that causes COVID-19.

These vaccines are given in the upper arm muscle. Once the instructions (mRNA) are inside the immune cells, the cell uses them to make the protein piece (spike proteins). After the protein piece is made, the cell breaks down the instructions and gets rid of them. Thus, they are no longer in the body to cause any harm as it is being speculated. The body cells display the protein piece on its surface and the immune systems recognize that the protein doesn’t belong there and begin to build an immune response and make antibodies, like what happens in natural infection against COVID-19. At the end of the process, the body has learned how to protect against future infection. Experts say any temporary discomfort experienced after getting the vaccine is a natural part of the process and an indication that the vaccine is efficacious.

However, vaccines are not like antimalarial drugs that start their work immediately after one has taken it. It takes time for the body immune system (cells) to produce immunity that can fight and defend one from getting the COVID-19 virus. Thus, it is prudent for the public to continue to observe the COVID-19 protocols even after one has taken the vaccine for some time until the body produces immunity.

If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down, says Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu
If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down, says Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu

Health Minister-designate, Kwaku Agyemang-Manu has implored every Ghanaian to avail themselves for the vaccination against the coronavirus, emphasizing the only way to reduce the rate of infection is to vaccinate.

The Health Minister Reiterated Ghana’s success on previous vaccinations as the country continues to use that as a spring board.

“Luckily, in Ghana, we have success stories to tell with vaccines in children. Measles, polio, tetanus, we have used vaccines to try to prevent our kids from getting them. So now, vaccines shouldn’t be a new thing for us. The only new thing we are going to add on to the battle that we have fought since last year is the vaccines. If we are able to go round the country and vaccinate everybody we believe our problem with COVID-19 will begin to go down,” he said.

Meanwhile the health ministry would deploy a total of 12,471 vaccinators, 37,413 volunteers and 2079 team supervisors for a planned two rounds vaccinations campaign.

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RFI strongly condemns the burning of the home of its Niamey correspondent, Moussa Kaka
February 26, 2021 | 0 Comments
Moussa Kaka has already been subjected to numerous threats.Photo credit Afrikmag
Moussa Kaka has already been subjected to numerous threats.Photo credit Afrikmag

In Niamey, Niger, the home of RFI correspondent Moussa Kaka was attacked and partly burned down by unknown assailants on the morning of Thursday 25 February. Moussa and his family are unharmed. He intends to file a complaint against persons unknown with the criminal police in Niamey.

RFI notes that this attack comes four days after the second round of the presidential election and that Moussa Kaka was targeted because he is a journalist. This is a very serious attack on the freedom of the press and the safety of our colleague.

A long-time RFI correspondent in Niger, Moussa Kaka has already been subjected to numerous threats, including cyber-harassment by unknown individuals at the end of last year, and has already filed a complaint.

RFI notes that this attack comes four days after the second round of the presidential election and that Moussa Kaka was targeted because he is a journalist.Photo credit Afrikmag
RFI notes that this attack comes four days after the second round of the presidential election and that Moussa Kaka was targeted because he is a journalist.Photo credit Afrikmag

RFI extends its full support to Moussa Kaka and his family, condemns these acts of repression and will continue to defend the freedom of its correspondent to exercise his profession as a journalist in optimum safety conditions.

*RFI

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Rwanda:Court claims juridical competence to try Rusesabagina
February 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti 

File photo Mr Rusesabagina presented by the Rwandan authorities to the media The court says it will proceed with his trial. Photo Clement Uwiringiyimana/Reuters

The Nyanza based High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes has said it would proceed with the trial of the terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina stressing that it had jurisdiction to try a suspect who committed crimes on Rwandan territory regardless the citizenship.

The hearing resumed this Friday 26, February 2021 after the court had been adjourned early this month when the prime suspect said he was a Belgian not Rwandan challenging the judicial competence of Rwandan court to try him, but rather sought the transfer to Belgium for trial should he be accused of any crime.

While the court is based in the Southern Province’s Nyanza district, the hearing is being held in the country’s capital city of Kigali, precisely in the Supreme Court’s premises to accommodate more people.

In today’s hearing, the courtroom packed though they respected guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 such as wearing facemasks and respected social distancing.

The hearing was covered by both local and international journalists and attended with different people including representatives from foreign countries.

Rusesabagina is one of 21 terror suspects all members of the National Liberation Front (FLN) who allegedly committed various crimes in Rwanda between 2028-2019 and at least claimed lives of nine people.

FLN is the army wing of the political outfit Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) in French Acronym whose leader and founder is Rusesabagina.

He faces nine crimes including the formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, abduction as an act of terrorism, and armed robbery as an act of terrorism.

The prosecution alleges that Rusesabagina’s MRCD through its armed wing, FLN launched the attacks in Rwanda’s Southern Province through Nyungwe forests and killed civilians injured others, and committed other crimes.

In the same case, eight-four people filed cases claiming for reparation. All the suspects were present along with their lawyers.

Cross border crimes

Judges in theHigh Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes said it decided to try Rusesabagina whether he is a Rwanda or a foreigner because he allegedly committed crimes on Rwandan territory. He will therefore be tried among with his co-accused.

According to the presiding judge Antoine Muhima, the court has analyzed Rusesabagina’s objection and rendered it baseless as the crimes he is accused of were committed on Rwandan soil and the Rwandan law on trans-border crimes grants the court he presented the rights to try crimes in that nature.

“If the alleged crimes took place on Rwandan soil, this chamber has the jurisdiction to try them whether the accused is a Rwandan or a foreigner,” he said.

No sooner had the judge pronounced the decision on the jurisdictions of the court to try Rusesabagina and order the hearing to continue than Rusesabagina and his lawyers appealed against the decision.

Lawyer Gatera Gashabana  told the court that his client would appeal both the jurisdictional decision and present objections.

He prayed for the court to avail more time for him and his client to make their submissions on further objections before the case could proceed.

 “We would therefore pray for the court that this hearing be adjourned to allow us time to do that, I believe it is within the rights of our client to present this obstacle before we can proceed.,” he said Gashabana who was also flanked with the second lawyer to defend.

Both the prosecution, headed by Deputy Prosecutor General Angelique Habyarimana alleged there was no reason for the court to adjourn this case because all necessary submissions had been filed and duly responded.

However, lawyer Gashabana said there were news submissions and insisted that his client be given the rights to sit and agree on the submissions they could present to the court.

The judge ruled in favour of the suspect and gave Rusesabagina five days to submit his objection through the electronic case management system.

He adjourned the hearing to March 3, 2021.

Two Generals seek bail

Meanwhile, the hearing continued with the rest of the suspects.

Two former generals of DR Congo based Democratic Forces for Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) and allegedly left the outfit to join FLN-MRCD.

They include  Maj Gen Felicien Nsanzubukire and Maj Gen Anastase Munyaneza and were also present in the court with their lawyers.

The prosecution accuses them of a number of terror-related charges.

The court heard that Nsanzubukire features on a sanction list by the UN court Security Council over atrocity he allegedly committed while he acted as one of the commanders of FDLR.

The duo’s lawyer Herman Twajamahoro prayed for the court to grant bail to his clients saying that there were so cooperative since their capture in the FARDC’s DR Congo army operations fight FDRL.

He also said that one of his clients was critically sick and needed medical attention insisting that both suspects can be given bail and be tried while out.

He adjourned the hearing to March 3, 2021.

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Sierra Leone receives Sino Pharm COVID -19 vaccine from China
February 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The Sierra Leonean government has today received a donation from the Chinese government of its first ever vaccine of 200,000 doses of the Sino Pharm COVID-19 Vaccine and 201,600 pieces of disposable needles and syringes which was brought in a chartered flight at the country’s Lungi international.

The donation according to the Sierra Leonean government ‘’reflect the long term traditional friendship and deep mutual trust between the two countries’’ adding that the vaccines would play an important role in Sierra Leone’s drive to prevent and contain the Covid-19 virus epidemic in the country.

Handing over the consignment, the Ambassador of China in Sierra Leone, Mr. Hu Zhangliang, said that the relationship between China and Sierra Leone has been in existence for over 45 years.

He said that the first batch of vaccine is to help boost the government of Sierra Leone in the fight against COVID-19 stating that  currently people all over the world are striving to get the vaccine and that their  support is by no means meet the high demand across the board at the moment.

“I strongly believe this donation will help the country fastly succeed in fighting against Covid 19 and contribute to the final victory of the final fight. H.E. President Xi Jinping has solemnly made it clear that China will contribute to the realization of the availability and affordability of COVID-19 vaccines in developing countries. China walks the talk. At the request of the WHO, China decided to provide 10 million doses of Chinese vaccines to the COVAX with a view to meeting the urgent needs of developing countries. China has also provided vaccine assistance to other friendly countries,’’ he said.

The Chinese Ambassador in Sierra Leone added that the fight against the pandemic is a relay race to save lives together rather than a zero-sum game. It is important for the International Community to join hands in rejecting vaccine nationalism, addressing vaccine deficits, bridging the “immunization gap”, and promoting fair and reasonable deployment of vaccines. All countries should come together and respond with solidarity and coordination like never before.

 Spokesperson for the Covid-19 Response in the country, Solomon Jamiru Esq, thanked the Chinese government for their timely support during the outbreak of the corona virus, adding that the strong bilateral ties between China and Sierra Leone have existed for a long time. He said the donation reflects the long term diplomatic friendship and deep mutual trust.

“Indeed the Republic of Sierra Leone and the People’s Republic of China are celebrating a wonderful 50 years of diplomatic relations. I must establish the importance for our people to understand that the relationship between China and Sierra Leone has been special and cordial and will continue to involve from peace to peace, good health to health and prosperity. We are receiving this consignment from the people’s Republic of China on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of this special relationship,” he said.

He said the Sierra Leone has now realized that China is a true friend, he this has is shown at a time the country is country is fighting a pandemic war. He expressed gratitude to Ambassador Hu for his kind of gesture.

“The Ministry of Health and Sanitation’s Extended Programme on Immunization (EPI) is working with partners to finalize vaccine roll-out plans adding that these plans will aim to offer the vaccine to those at highest risk from getting seriously sick and dying from COVID-19 as early as possible and once everything is in place (including cold-chain distribution, training of healthcare workers etc.)’’

“Once plans are finalized the specific timelines and first groups to be vaccinated will be communicated to the general public, including on this page. Keep up the great work, and stay safe,’’ the government said.  

Sierra Leone has so far recorded a total confirmed cases of the virus of 3,880 as of Wednesday and a total deaths of 79 with recoveries of 2,612 so far according to the Government‘s daily covid-19 update in the country.

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Governance structure for antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and antimicrobial use (AMU) established with FAO support
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

The governance structure will provide technical oversight during the National Strategic Plan for combating Antimicrobial resistance 2018-2022.

                                                                                                                                         17 February 2021, Makeni City The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) have supported the Government of Sierra Leone to establish a One Health governance structure for Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and Antimicrobial use (AMU) surveillance in the human and animal health sectors.

AMR  poses a significant global health threat to human and animal health. It is estimated that, by 2050, ten million people will die every year due to AMR , unless a global response to this  problem is mounted. In response to this threat, the Government of Sierra Leone recognized AMR as a priority agenda, and developed a National Strategic Plan for combating Antimicrobial resistance 2018-2022. To implement the interventions stated in the strategic plan, a strong One Health governance structure/mechanism for coordinating national efforts to combat antimicrobial resistance as outlined in the objective one of the strategic plan has been established. The created governance mechanism comprises of a National Multi-sectoral Coordinating Group (NMCG) and Technical Working Groups (TWGs) with clear Terms of Reference (ToRs) to provide technical oversight during implementation of the strategic plan.

With funding support from the United Kingdom (UK) Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), under its Fleming Fund (FF), FAO is the lead grantee for the animal health component of the Fleming Fund Sierra Leone Country Grant for AMR, whereas WHO is the lead implementing agency for the public health component of the grant. FAO and WHO supported the Government of Sierra Leone through the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MOHS), Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) and Ministry of Environment (MOE)/Environment Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen the NMCG, which is expected to oversee and coordinate AMR related activities in all sectors to ensure a systematic, comprehensive approach. Dr Joseph Kanu, the Deputy Program Manager for surveillance and National AMR Focal Person, at the opening ceremony of the workshop, emphasized “the importance of establishing a governance structure for AMR and it’s linkage to the National One Health Platform (NOHP). He said “The governance structure is essential to tackle AMR, with a weak governance structure it will be hard to address the AMR challenges”. He further stated that, “NMCG is expected to lead facilitation and coordination of a national response to the threat of AMR. It should be multisectorial with representation from across all the sectors from human, animal and environmental health”. The NMCG was established in 2017  but had never been formalized. The meeting agreed on the organogram and developed Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the NMCG.

. Dr. Germain Bobo, Country Team Leader for FAO’s Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases (ECTAD) said, “No one person, organization, or sector can address issues at the animal-human-environment interface alone, including AMR. By promoting collaboration across all sectors, a One Health approach can achieve the best health outcomes for people, animals, and plants in a shared environment”. He further highlighted the activities under the animal health component of the Fleming Fund country grant for AMR which includes a situational analysis of AMR/AMU in food animals and development of a national surveillance plan for AMR in animal health.

According to the WHO Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) Lead, Anna Maruta, “The governance structure is essential to tackle AMR, and the scope should be broad enough to address all five strategic objectives of the global action plan, prioritizing activities in a step-wise approach”. She further added that, “the NMCG must be appropriately integrated and have clearly defined roles and responsibilities in the existing health system, public health and disease-specific programmes, animal health and production, the food sector and environmental initiatives”.  

The meeting deliberated and agreed on the One Health governance structure for AMR and linked the proposed structure to the existing and operational Sierra Leone structure at the One Health Coordination Committee level and will be supported by a secretariat to be funded by WHO. 

Establishment of the Technical Working Groups (TWGs) for AMR/AMU

Below the NMCG, the One Health AMR Technical Committee was established with three TWGs to lead various thematic areas as follows; (i) surveillance and laboratory, (ii) education and research, and (iii) AMR stewardship TWGs. Their ToRs have been developed that outline their roles and responsibilities with membership defined.

The Fleming Fund Country Grant for Sierra Leone focuses on setting the foundations for AMR and AMU surveillance in the human and animal health sectors. The grant will run for 13  months, to further support One Health approach for AMR surveillance, the   situational analysis of antibiotic use in food animals in the country and the development of  the national surveillance plan for AMR in animal health.

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Kenyans urged to support the BBI
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Political party leaders have called on Kenyans to put aside their political differences for the country’s unity.

In a joint statement, the leaders led by President Uhuru Kenyatta ODM leader Raila Odinga, Wiper’s Kalonzo Musyoka, Ford Kenya’s Moses Wetangula, ANC’s Musalia Mudavadi, Kanu’s Gideon Moi and Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu rallied Kenyans to back the Building Bridges Initiative (Amendment) Bill to resolve many longstanding national challenges that hold them back from realizing a united and prosperous nation.

“Now is the moment for all Kenyans to put aside partisan divides and come together to build a better Kenya; for ourselves, our children, and for generations of Kenyans yet to be born,” state part of the statement read by the KANU party leader Gideon Moi.

The BBI proponents resolved to embark on civic education to sensitize citizens on benefits available in the document.

“To ensure the voice of every Kenyan is heard and to enable every one of us to exercise their civic duty, we will undertake civic education to sensitize the entire Kenyan nation on the opportunities that lie for our homeland and nation as part of this initiative,” the statement further stated.

They further expressed their gratitude to County Assemblies for unanimously endorsing the popular report when it was transmitted to them for debate by the electoral commission.

As of Thursday, 42 Counties had approved the document, with only two rejecting it, and the remaining three are yet to vote.

“Thus far, 42 County Assemblies have considered the Bill. Their affirming voice has thundered across the Republic, in resonance with the desire of all Kenyans to further strengthen our governance by breaking the cycle of divisive elections, fostering the equitable distribution of resources by enhancing the share of revenues to County Governments, and creating a more robust and responsive framework to secure opportunities for all Kenyans including our micro, small and medium enterprises,” they said.

The leaders who spoke from the State House in Nairobi said they would hold a joint consultative meeting between Members of Parliament and County leadership on the 9th March 2021.

The BBI document will be tabled in the National Assembly and the Senate next week for debate.

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The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) in Africa: A Dialogue on Policy Perspectives and Investment Options
February 25, 2021 | 1 Comments

Dr. Kathryn Toure*

It is a pleasure to represent the International Development Research Centre, or IDRC, and speak at this important policy dialogue, organized by the African Academy of Sciences, on the 4th industrial revolution.

Africa was largely left out of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd industrial revolutions.[1] In the 4th, technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship will be the norm in all sectors of society.[2] This could greatly benefit the people of Africa, however, any deep societal inequalities will be reproduced. If, on the other hand, inequalities are consciously brought forward and addressed, I anticipate an inclusive 4th industrial revolution that contributes to the Africa We Want.

That is why I argue for applying a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens to all policies and programs at national and regional levels. I would like to humbly share some experiences from IDRC in this regard.

First, who are we at IDRC? The one-of-a-kind organization was created by an Act of Canadian Parliament. We have a diverse group of about 350 staff persons around the world. We fund participatory applied research in the Global South. In Africa, IDRC has supported, for over 50 years, hundreds of African research organizations, and thousands of African researchers.

Women in research and innovation

Let’s start with a discussion of women. They need to be integral to Africa’s 4th industrial revolution journey. This means facilitating their participation in all spheres of life.

We need women in science and technology, for example, if the continent is to benefit from their perspectives, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Too many women get into science and abandon it. We need, with great intentionality, to create environments where women can thrive in science.

At IDRC, we are trying to understand and address systemic barriers that keep women from advancing in science. One study of the African Research Universities Alliance (ARUA)[3] is assessing the policies and practices that its 16 member universities have put in place to support the participation of women in science and technology, and in leadership.

We are also supporting the work of the African Leadership Centre to develop a framework to guide training in inclusive leadership at universities and in African science systems.

These are two important pan African organizations and initiatives that will mobilize knowledge and action to get at the root causes of discrimination and help liberate the human potential needed for Africa to reap the benefits of the 4th industrial revolution.

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM, plus “a” for the “arts” gives us STEAM. Bringing a creative approach to STEAM education and research can make the sciences more attractive to women and help make the science more relevant to context. This has been proven in other parts of the world, and IDRC is supporting advances in STEAM in Africa. For example, researchers at the University of Rwanda are integrating women’s experiences to improve the design of housing and public spaces, knowing women are usually left out of such processes. Researchers at the University of Mauritius are involving women in the design of small wind turbines, to respond to different energy needs in rural, urban and coastal areas of the country.

Promoting collaborative science

At IDRC we promote collaborative science and open data. Worldwide cooperation and the sharing of genomic sequencing led to the development of vaccines against covid-19 in just one year.[4] What could Africa gain for its 4th industrial revolution through more scientific collaboration and the more strategic use and sharing of data?

Collaboration in science is necessary to bring quick solutions to shared and complex challenges. That is why IDRC and other partners support the Science Granting Councils Initiative (SGCI). In fifteen African countries, councils that fund research collaborate to strengthen science in the national interest and encourage cross-border collaborations. The councils have promoted the concept of open science in Africa, to spur technological and social discoveries.

Open science is based on open data and open access to the results of scientific inquiry, to enhance efficiency, the rate of discovery, and the understanding of complex systems. Science is part of the backbone of the 4th industrial revolution, and scientists need to work in collaboration across their fields and across countries in integrated ways, sharing experiences and learnings across borders, as encouraged in the Science Granting Councils Initiative.

Dr. Kathryn Toure
Dr. Kathryn Toure

The Free Trade Agreement is promoting more intra-African trade. Open science promotes more open sharing of data and scientific discoveries and more collaboration across borders. Both these dynamics – intra-African trade, and open science – have the capacity to boost Africa’s benefits from the 4th industrial evolution, if an equity and inclusion lens is continually used.

Using a gender and equity lens must be intentional and continuous

Using a gender and equity lens is not easy. It requires commitment, expertise, and tools. It might be inspiring if I share a bit about what has helped us at IDRC.

We made a name for ourselves in gender and inclusion going back at least to the first woman President of IDRC. She inspired us to integrate concerns for gender and inclusion in all IDRC work. Since then, we have publicly shared IDRC’s Equality Statement and developed a gender and inclusion framework to support the implementation of our Strategy 2030, which was launched just this month. We are excited about this Strategy for a more inclusive and sustainable world and hope you will share in our excitement.

No IDRC-funded work will be gender blind. It will be gender and inclusion aware, sensitive, or responsive. And some will be transformative – meaning that it asks questions that get at the root causes of discrimination, is designed in highly inclusive and participatory ways, ensures that concerns for gender and inclusion do not “fade” over the course of the research, and sees the beginning of structural change in the life cycle of the project.

What else has helped us at IDRC? We have a working group that looks not only at gender and inclusion in the research we fund but also at issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the organization. We allow ourselves to be introspective and even critical, identifying where we need to improve and building and resourcing a roadmap for change.

We have integrated concerns for gender and inclusion into our strategy, our outcome pathways, and our monitoring, learning and evaluation framework. We have encouraged staff to complete a learning module called Gender Based Analysis Plus (GBA+), which is available on the web and suggests how to account for intersectional issues, such as age, race, socioeconomic status, religion, or ability, when designing initiatives. We also developed a tool called Research Quality Plus (RQ+) which helps us, and many others around the world, know when research is of high quality and how quality research can be cultivated. It shows that the integration of gender and inclusion is one of several factors that makes for high quality research.

We also engage with other partners and learn from their experience – for example from the gender team at the Human Sciences Research Council in South Africa and the CGIAR[5] Generating Evidence and New Directions for Equitable Results or GENDER Platform.

We work with the International Food Policy Institute (IFPRI) to support researchers to use the Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture Index or WEAI tool. And when it comes to education, we learn from the expertise and approaches of the Forum for African Women Educationalists or FAWE, which has chapters in over 30 African counties and almost 30 years of experience working with schools and governments to promote equity in education

So, there are important resources on the continent to learn about using a diversity, equity, and inclusion lens. If we do not, the 4th industrial revolution will serve some people but not all Africans.

Including women and youth in business

and in transitioning to greener economies

Back to the discussion about women. Not only are they needed in science. We also need them in business. What can help women in manufacturing benefit more from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and contribute to the 4th industrial revolution? The Kenya Association of Manufacturers is using evidence to improve the competitiveness of women industrialists,[6] [7] something to be emulated elsewhere.

The Africa office of the International Center for Research on Women has shown the importance for businesswomen of healthcare, childcare, access to information and financial resources, and protection from violence.[8] Accounting for these factors in policies and programs will go a long way in enhancing women’s contributions to the 4th industrial revolution.

The current global pandemic has accelerated entry into the 4th industrial revolution. It is estimated that 52% of agricultural enterprises are now using technology as an indispensable tool, to beat covid-19 challenges and thrive going forward.[9] Boosting the skills of various groups of people to integrate and optimize technology in their businesses is the way to go for the 4th industrial revolution.

The Director of Research at the African Development Bank stressed how youth will be one of Africa’s most important assets in meeting the 4th industrial revolution.[10] Youth need educational opportunities, entrepreneurial outlooks, technological savviness, and skills for the jobs of the future.

With Africa and the rest of the world facing the impacts of climate change, an opportunity presents itself to transition to greener economies and renewable energies in the 4th industrial revolution. South Africa is positioning itself to use hydrogen for its domestic supply of energy and even export green hydrogen on the global market.[11] The success of such efforts depends both on smart regulatory frameworks and the skilling of youth to work in these emerging sectors.

With regard to skilling for greener economies, IDRC is supporting teams in Ghana, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Kenya to strengthen engineering research and education.[12] In Senegal, IDRC and the company Meridiam are collaborating to explore best practices for training engineers and technicians for solar energy.[13] Such skilling and reskilling, of people of all genders, will support Africa’s youth to contribute to greener economies.

I have one more thought about inclusion. I think about how Africa is home to a quarter of the world’s refugees. This represents millions of people. I have not seen the research on this, but I know the importance of connectivity[14] for the 4th industrial revolution. I wonder if connectivity for refugee communities and their role in the 4th industrial revolution is considered. We need everyone participating. What will happen if we leave people behind? How do we reduce the structural inequalities that limit participation? How are internally displaced people and refugees integrated into national development plans as we move forward?

Conclusion

In conclusion, I invite us to imagine policies and programs developed with the most marginalized, the most forgotten, in mind. Imagine infrastructure and technologies – from roads to software – that truly consider and integrate the needs and aspirations of diverse groups of people. Resilient inequalities must be confronted to realize the 4th industrial revolution in Africa and globally.

Africa has incredible ingenuity and immense capacities for innovation, which will inspire the 4th industrial revolution and make it matter for Africa.

Grand merci.

If you were to speak with a head of government today, or a key funding partner concerning Africa’s 4IR, what 3 to 5 major actions would you ask of them and why?

  • I hope that all African Union member states, as they agreed in 2006, will invest each year 1% of their GDP in research and development.
    • We need to promote women scientists and inclusive leadership in universities and science systems, to liberate capacity for creativity and innovation.
    • It is also important to use an equity and inclusion lens to ensure access to information and capital for the development of small and medium-sized businesses.
    • Finally, mainstream concerns for gender and social inclusion into the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCTA), with a view to promoting intraAfrican trade and investment and transitioning to green economies.

Who should we be working with to realize the priorities for 4IR in Africa?

I have my biases. I think the research community in Africa has an important role to play in informing how Africa harnesses the 4th industrial revolution for its 1.2 billion people. But research is not an elite activity. Science needs to be close to people and to communities. And people and communities need to be in the science. Researchers need to collaborate across national, linguistic, and disciplinary boundaries and work with governments, private sector actors, and civil society organizations.

Ensuring the generation of contextualized knowledge and solutions will help leverage the incredible creative capacities of communities across the continent.

*Dr. Kathryn Toure is Regional Director, Eastern and Southern Africa, International Development Research Centre (IDRC).Speaking notes presented at event organized by the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) Thursday, February 25, 2021, 16:00-18:00 East Africa time


[1] Enhancing the Digital Transformation of African Universities: COVID-19 as Accelerator

[2] The Fourth Industrial Revolution: Africa needs to keep up – IT News Africa

[3] ARUA brings together 16 of sub-Saharan Africa’s research-intensive universities. As globally connected and respected institutions, these universities are trailblazers and role models for other African universities.

[4] COVID-19 vaccine: How was it developed so fast? (medicalnewstoday.com)

[5] CGIAR = Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research

[6] KAM, ICRW Announces First Women in Manufacturing Study in Kenya (khusoko.com)

[7] Women in Manufacturing report

[8] www.idrc.ca/en/project/economies-beyond-emergencies-assessing-impacts-covid-19-policy-responses-informal-workers

[9] Agribusiness in Unprecedented Times

[10] How Africa Can Harness the Fourth Industrial Revolution by Hanan Morsy – Project Syndicate (project-syndicate.org)

[11] South Africa is well positioned to export green hydrogen ­– PwC (engineeringnews.co.za)

[12] Rethink the engineering ecosystem in sub-Saharan Africa

[13] Meridiam and IDRC announce training and research program in renewable energies | IDRC – International Development Research Centre

[14] How Africa Wins The 4th Industrial Revolution (forbes.com)

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Kenya’s opposition party extends the deadline for presidential applications
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Raila Odinga
Raila Odinga

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Kenya’s main opposition party, has pushed forward the deadline for submitting the presidential candidate applications.

The exercise, which was expected to end on February 26 will now go on until March 31, 2021, the party’s National Elections Board chairperson Catherine Mumma announced on Thursday.

“Further to the notice of the National Elections Board (NEB) of January 21, 2021, calling for the submission of applications by individuals interested in consideration as the ODM party presidential candidate for the 2022 general elections, this is to extend the deadline for the submission of applications from February 26, 2021, to 31st march 2021,” read the statement.

In January 2021, Raila Odinga’s party invited candidates interested in flying ODM’s flag in the 2022 presidential polls to apply.

Aspirants must be Kenyan citizens and a degree holder from a recognized university. He or she must also be a registered voter and a life member of the party.

They are also required to pay ksh1 million (approximately US$10,000) non-refundable application fees.

The application forms can be sourced from the party headquarters in Nairobi or downloaded from the party’s website.

Only the outgoing Mombasa Governor and the deputy party leader Ali Hassan Joho have submitted his applications.

Others expected to send their applications are Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and the party leader Raila Odinga.

The former Prime Minister has been the party’s presidential candidate in the last three general elections.

The Orange party recently dismissed calls by former Raila’s allies asking to be endorsed by the African Union envoy.

The former vice president Kalonzo Musyoka and his Amani National Congress (ANC) counterpart Musalia were allegedly waiting for the opposition Chief’s endorsement because they had supported him in previous elections.

In a statement to the newsroom, the ODM national chairman John Mbadi ruled out any possibility of Raila endorsing any of the Nasa coalition principals-Musalia Mudavadi, Kalonzo Musyoka, and Moses Wetang’ula.

While referring to Raila’s  2018 mock swearing-in as the People’s president, which the trio boycotted, Mbadi described the trio as incoherent cowards who depend on endorsements but cannot stand to be counted.

“As a party, we will strongly discourage Hon. Odinga from doing so. We encourage Kalonzo Musyoka, Moses Wetang’ula, and Musalia Mudavadi to stop whining and be men for once in their political careers,” said Mbadi.

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Kenya Morans honored for history-making
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) chairman Paul Otula
Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) chairman Paul Otula

In conjunction with Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF), Kenya’s Sports Ministry hosted a men’s basketball team popularly known as the Morans to luncheon following their triumph in Yaoundé Cameroon over the weekend.

In attendance were the Sports Minister Dr. Amina Mohamed, Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) chairman Paul Otula and the federation’s Secretary General Ambrose Kisoi, among other officials.

The Morans jetted back into the country on Wednesday, February 24, after thrashing African giants Angola 74-73 on Saturday in a nail-biting contest in the West African country.

The historic win saw Kenya booking a ticket to the FIBA AfroBasket 2021 tournament in Rwanda after a 28-year hiatus.

The Australian Elizabeth Mills’ side also qualified for the 2023 World Cup qualifiers for the first time.

Speaking during the event, Dr. Amina Mohamed said the government is committed to supporting the team’s activities before and during the tournament slated for August this year.

Dr. Amina said the Ministry would fully facilitate the team’s pre-competition camp by ensuring that all the team and competition prerequisites’ training needs are addressed promptly.

The Ministry will also cover the cost of participation.

“Yours has been a story of exceptional triumph and outstanding growth; the team and players’ needs are of the utmost priority to our operations. We want to keep you motivated and to reward you for honoring the flag of our beautiful country,” said Dr. Amina.

According to the KBF Secretary General, Kenya can become one of the continent’s basketball powerhouses if proper systems are implemented.

“We have learnt that we have a lot of talents in this country, and we need to have a well-coordinated way of bringing these talents together. Given good preparations and facilitation, the team can perform much better,” Kisoi said.

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Zimbabwe receives support from Japan govt to alleviate hunger
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire 

Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Satoshi Tanaka
Japanese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Satoshi Tanaka

The Government of Japan announces has today  committed US$ 4.5 million for emergency food assistance in response to the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe. 

 It is reported that an estimated 5.6 million people are severely food insecure in Zimbabwe. While a national analysis of urban food insecurity is soon to be released, the Government estimates that even now, about half of all urban dwellers—or roughly 2.2 million people—go to bed hungry.

The emergency assistance provided through WFP will reach the most vulnerable and food insecure households in urban areas, especially focusing on women-led households, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV, in order to ensure that they are able to meet their basic food and nutrition needs. The Japanese funding will cover the urgent food needs of 56,000 people, who will receive monthly electronic vouchers (e-vouchers) for food valued at US$ 12 per person.

The Ambassador of Japan to Zimbabwe, H.E. Mr Satoshi Tanaka, said that “Since I arrived in Zimbabwe in November last year, my discussions with various counterparts have highlighted the humanitarian crisis facing the country, caused by recurring droughts and the serious economic situation, in which a large proportion of the population are experiencing food shortages. After COVID-19 infections surged from December last year and a strict lockdown was enforced this January, vulnerable people, especially in urban areas where many people depend on informal activities such as vending to survive, have been particularly affected. Given the severity of the food insecurity situation, the Government of Japan decided to provide this Emergency Grant Aid. It will ensure timely assistance through WFP so that people in dire need in urban areas, especially women-led households, people with disabilities, and people living with HIV, can put food on the table. I would like to continue with various kinds of assistance to vulnerable people in Zimbabwe, including supporting the fight against COVID-19.”

The Country Director and Representative of WFP Zimbabwe, Ms Francesca Erdelmann, said “WFP welcomes this very timely support from the people of Japan, which comes at a crucial point in our scale up of food assistance to reach more than half a million urban Zimbabweans. There’s no doubt about it, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Zimbabwe’s pre-existing challenges and urban centres are now on the front lines of the current rise in acute hunger. Many families entirely depend upon WFP’s monthly cash transfers – which help people rebound faster into the livelihood they once had. With the valuable support of our partners such as Japan, we will continue to extend our support to cover the food needs of the most vulnerable at this critical time.”

The assistance complements funding of US$ 14.8 million provided by Japan in June 2020 to meet the essential food security needs of vulnerable households in rural areas. Given the extent and severity of the current food insecurity crisis in Zimbabwe, Japan has greatly increased its funding for urgent life-saving assistance. It is hoped that this assistance will go a long way towards alleviating hunger and ensuring that the basic needs of the most vulnerable people in Zimbabwe are met.

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Rwanda on alert after Italian ambassador killed near the border with DRC
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ferdinand Maniraguha

File photo of a United Nations convoy north of the provincial capital of Goma (Getty Images
File photo of a United Nations convoy north of the provincial capital of Goma (Getty Images

Rwandan security organs are on high alert after the attack which claimed the life of Italian ambassador to  Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on 22th February 2021.

The  convoy of ambassador Luca Attanasio was attacked  in the road Goma –Rutshuru, in North Kivu Province, Eastern part of DRC near the border with Rwanda. He was killed together with his bodyguard and driver.

Later government of Congo issued a statement blaming the attack on Rwanda rebel group, FDLR which operates in Rutshuru region.

On 23rd February, Rwandan security organs convened a meeting with population around the border  in the Rubavu district, cautioning them to be  on alert.

Commander of 3rd Division of Rwanda Defense Force, Major General Alex Kagame warned that if  FDLR  could kill a diplomat near the border, it can also  easily spoil Rwandan security on the border.

“FDLR is still there. Yesterday you heard that they killed an Italian ambassador. None can do it other than those (rebels) in Nyamuragira Mountain. They always kill, rob Congolese people, and they say that they want to come and destroy security here. We have to be cautious”, he said.

Major General Kagame added that the road Goma-Rutshuru is near the border with Rwanda, “so If they are able to kill someone in this road next to us, they can even reach here easily if people aren’t serious enough.”

He however promised people around the border that security organs are there to protect them but asked people to show their full cooperation.

Congolese government has started an thorough investigation to find out the real perpetrators of the attack. FDLR which is blamed for attack has denied any involvement.

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WFP strengthens community skills in Zimbabwe’s urban centres with Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation support
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has welcomed an additional US$7 million in new funding from Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), which will go directly towards assisting families living in Zimbabwe’s urban areas to strengthen their skills and ability to cope in the face of economic and climate shocks.

 It is reported that SDC’s support complements the cash transfers that WFP is already delivering to the most vulnerable, food insecure urban Zimbabweans with activities which build their resilience to cope with various shocks and stressors, which can devastate their food security. With the new funding, WFP together with other cooperating partners and the Government of Zimbabwe at both national and district levels will engage urban communities in Bulawayo, Mutare, and Gweru. These communities will work together to boost urban agriculture, build linkages between rural-urban food supply chains and learn climate smart agricultural techniques among other key activities.

The government currently estimates that about half of all urban dwellers – or roughly 2.2 million people – go to bed hungry. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated Zimbabwe’s economic instability – and has had a particularly devastating effect on urban residents, many of whom were already living hand to mouth, working multiple jobs in the informal sector. The loss in livelihoods coupled with food price inflation and higher cost of living has meant that food insecurity and vulnerability of the urban poor has worsened.

Mr. Manuel Thurnhofer, the SDC Director of Cooperation in Zimbabwe said, “This timely contribution to WFP will help alleviate the suffering of a large number of people in Zimbabwe’s urban areas who are struggling to cope with the twin shocks of COVID-19 and inflationary pressures that are causing a rise in prices of basic commodities. In most urban households, women and children are generally the first to suffer economic and social hardships and we are pleased that in the project areas they will directly benefit from this support.”

“Zimbabwe’s urban communities are thriving with potential to be food secure, only they are severely hampered by frequent weather and economic shocks and now the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.”  WFP Representative Francesca Erdelmann added. “WFP is delighted to collaborate with SDC on this vital, resilience building component of our work to support the most vulnerable urban dwellers in Zimbabwe to get back on their feet and become more self-sufficient in the long term.”

WFP already delivers monthly cash transfers to 326,000 Zimbabweans and plans to scale up its urban assistance programme to reach at least 550,000 people living in the 28 worst affected and food insecure urban areas in the country.

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Kenya’s former Attorney General lands state job
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Githu Muigai   during the handing over ceremony of   the office to the  incoming AG  Justice Paul Kihara  at sheria house on 3rd April 2018 ( PHOTO.MARTIN MUKANGU. NAIROBI)
Githu Muigai during the handing over ceremony of the office to the incoming AG Justice Paul Kihara at sheria house on 3rd April 2018 ( PHOTO.MARTIN MUKANGU. NAIROBI)

Ex-Kenyan Attorney General (AG) Githu Muigai is the public-private partnerships committee’s new chairperson (PPP).

Githu’s appointment was confirmed via a Gazette notice by Treasury minister Ukur Yatani on Wednesday, February 24, 2021.

The Public-Private Partnership Unit (PPPU) is a particular purpose unit within the National Treasury.

PPPU serves as the secretariat and technical arm of the PPP Committee, which is tasked with assessing and approving PPP projects. 

As the resource centre for best practice and guardian of the PPP process’s integrity, the PPP Unit identifies problems, makes recommendations to the PPP Committee regarding potential solutions, and ensures that projects meet such quality criteria as affordability, value for money, and appropriate transfer of risk.

He was replaced his predecessor Amos Wako in August 2011 but resigned in 2018.

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Tanzania beats Kenya in the number of dollar millionaires-Report
February 25, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya has recorded a decrease in the number of dollar millionaires last year, states the 15th Wealth Report by Knight Frank.

The 2021 wealth report released on Wednesday, February 24, revealed that the number of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI) whose wealth is at least $1 million (Kshs. 110 million) declined by 912 from 4,235 registered in 2019 to 3,323 in 2020, which is equivalent to 22 per cent decrease.

The report attributed the drop to the economic hurdles that bedevilled Kenyans due to the outbreak of the Covid-19.

The pandemic hit the global economy, causing the loss of jobs and the closure of businesses. Millions of people worldwide were reported to have lost their jobs or their businesses hardly hit by the disease, which over 2.5 million people in the world.

“Wealthy people have become wealthy because they make good business decisions, and so it is imperative for us to understand how they make those decisions, particularity in a time of crisis such as the pandemic we are in at the moment,” said Ben Woodhams Knight Frank Kenya Managing Director.

In the same period, Tanzania registered a decrease of 8 per cent, meaning the High Net Worth Individuals dropped from 4,002 in 2019 to 3700 in the following year.

In comparison to their neighbours Kenya, Tanzania had minimal Covid-19 restrictions. In contrast, the Kenyan government had imposed a dusk to dawn curfew, partial lockdown in some parts of the country, and banned public gatherings to battle the deadly disease.

Consequently, the Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) with an excess of $30 million (Kshs. 3.3 billion) only decreased by 15 per cent from 106 in 2019 to 90 in 2020.

“Usually, the UHNWI are people who diversify their portfolio and can withstand the test of time whether due to different geography they invest and asset class they invest in,” reiterated Tilda Mwai, Knight Frank Researcher Africa.

However, the report projected an increase in the number of dollar millionaires and the multi-million dollar by 46 and 22 per cent, respectively, as the economic recovery programme gains momentum.

The report also listed Kenya, Spain, and Romania as some countries with the largest drop in the HNWI population because of the unfriendly investment climate. Spain and Romania had 22 per cent each.

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Malawi schools open amid backlash from teachers over Covid-19 allowances
February 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By James Mwala

Teachers in public schools in Malawi started boycotting work as classes resumed on Monday 22 February after nearly a month long closure due to the Covid-19 situation.

The teachers are demanding government to provide them with risk allowances just like it is the case with other civil servants.

Currently, government insists the decision will be made by the presidential taskforce on Covid-19, a move that has sprung an outrage from teachers who feel the move undermines their calls.

According to leader of Malawi’s Teachers Union Willy Kalimba, the teachers will proceed and will half the industrial action until their demands are met.

Earlier on, Principal Secretary in the Education Ministry told the media they would only wait for consultations to be complete.

Ironically, private schools are now operating, a development experts fear will bloat an already existing education gap between the two different school categories.

The calls by teachers comes as government is proving how about 6.2 billion Covid-19 funds were managed.

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Mozambique To Receive Covid 19 Vaccines From China
February 24, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

President Nyusi with Chinese leader Xi Jinping
President Nyusi with Chinese leader Xi Jinping

Mozambique is receiving today (24) the first batch of the vaccine against Covid-19 from China to ensure the vaccination of priority groups, among them health professionals, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced on Facebook.

“Over the past two months I have maintained contacts with the President, Xi Jinping for access to the Covid-19 vaccine,” Nyusi wrote on his official account on Wednesday morning. “So I would like to share with the Mozambican people that the first batch of the vaccine arrives in the country this Wednesday afternoon, 24 February” he said.

With the arrival of this batch, the challenge continues to ensure the arrival of other doses, which negotiations are at an advanced stage with Mozambique’s partners, he added

However, it is not clear the quantity of the vaccine and the type of dose.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique announced yesterday that the U.S. Government is providing an additional $3.7 million to help guarantee the country’s vaccine readiness per COVAX requirements. 

This includes planning the delivery and distribution of the vaccines throughout Mozambique, and technical assistance in the provision of comprehensive medical treatment to patients with COVID-19, including in the safe and effective utilization of oxygen.  

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Kenyan clinical officers ordered to suspend strike
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The Labor Court on Tuesday halted an ongoing strike by clinical officers.

Justice Maureen Onyango directed the workers to resume work and continue offering services at their respective workstations.

In her ruling, Justice Onyango ordered that all disciplinary procedures against the clinical officers be halted. The employers were also ordered to pay salaries for all workers without fail.

In compliance with the court ruling, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) Chairman Peterson Wachira called off the strike and asked all members to report back to work.

“We will comply with the court order…we direct our members to report to their work stations…Employers have not addressed our grievances even as we resume duty.”

“We shall not voluntarily expose ourselves even as we report back to duty…We urge employers to sign and implement the Return To Work Formula (RTWF),” said Dr. Wachira.

The officers downed their tools in December last year, protesting against insufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for the frontline workers battling against the novel coronavirus.

The workers accused the government of failing to honor its promises to cater to health care workers’ needs.

The go-slow kicked off when nine clinical officers had succumbed to the Covid-19 and at least 763 infected.

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Gambia: Vista Bank Limited is the new name of FIBank
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
Simon Tiemtore, Chairman of Vista Group
Simon Tiemtore, Chairman of Vista Group

Vista Group is pleased to announce that the Central Bank of The Gambia has formally approved the rebranding of First International Bank (Gambia) Limited to Vista Bank (Gambia) Limited. A formal launch of the new Brand shall be announced in due course.

Simon Tiemtore, Chairman of Vista Group said: “This rebranding is a milestone in Vista’s declared intent of establishing a world class pan-African financial institution promoting financial inclusion and contributing to socio-economic development in The Gambia. It further expands Vista Bank’s existing operations in Guinea and Sierra Leone, which we will be augmenting through our impending purchase of La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de la Guinée (BICIGUI) in Guinea and Banque Internationale pour le Commerce l’Industrie et l’Agriculture du Burkina (BICIAB) in Burkina Faso, from BNP Paribas.

“Gambian citizens, SMEs and Corporates will shortly be benefitting from our digital, branch and agency distribution strategy, with an intensely customer-centric focus, a huge emphasis on quality customer service, cutting edge digital functionality and the provision of convenient, innovative banking products to meet their needs”.

The Vista Group, which is owned by Lilium Holdings, a U.S owned Investment Firm, supports customers by providing full range of accessible banking facilities to everyone. We intend to drive financial inclusion, engender socio-economic growth and national prosperity by meeting the needs of the Gambians and their businesses in our quest to become their bank of choice.

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Kenya:Youths vow to shut down the BBI as the Bill overshoot threshold in County Assemblies
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

A section of youths have disclosed that they will vote against the Building Bridge Initiative (Amendment) Bill 2020.

The youths allied to the deputy president William Ruto said their decision to oppose the document was arrived at after realizing that the document has nothing to offer to young people and ordinary citizens.

They described the BBI as the document by politicians for politicians.

Their reactions came just a few hours after the Bill surpassed the 24 county threshold.

As of noon on Tuesday, 28 Counties had voted for the BBI constitutional amendment bill, and more were expected to endorse it.

The 16 counties gave the document the green light on Tuesday morning. They included Mombasa, Kakamega, Makueni, Narok, Nakuru, Kirinyaga, Taita Taveta, Nyamira, and Bungoma. Others are Machakos, Kitui, Lamu, Garissa, Murang’a, Nyeri, and Nyandarua.

They joined Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Nairobi, Kisii, West Pokot, Kajiado, Laikipia, and Samburu that had already voted for the document, paving the way for the Bill to be introduced to the National and Assembly the Senate. So far, only Baringo County has opposed the Bill.

The news of the Bill being approved by the County assemblies did not move the youths who claimed the government had sidelined them when it comes to state appointments. They alleged the ward representatives were coerced and bribed to support BBI.

“After bribing them with a car grant, let’s see if ul manage to bribe over 20million voters at the ballot. All in all, we will have the final say,” said Erick Hassan Ogutu.

“How foolish…they have dealt with a few puppets. How shameful will it be after being rejected by the great people of Kenya,” reiterated Wachira Freddie.

“Approving to get car grants at the expense of 47 million Kenyans. History will judge us harshly,” reacted Mugai Ian.

Plans to have countrywide tours to sell the referendum message to citizens are underway, said the BBI secretariat.

“From March 1, we are rolling out countrywide tours to take BBI to the people. With all the signs that the assemblies will pass the document by a big number, we will be rolling out grand plans to tell the people what is in the document and counter any propaganda out there,” the Nation quoted Junet Mohamed, the BBI secretariat co-chairman.

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Kenya:Gor Mahia and Napsa Stars fans exchanged words online
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Gor Mahia’s faithful have engaged in a heated discussion with their Napsa Stars counterpart following the Caf Confederation Cup’s former exit.

Injury time penalty awarded to the Zambian side in the second leg of the Caf Confederations Cup play-off in Lusaka on Sunday denied the Kenyan champions opportunity to progress to the group stage.

 Gor alias “husbands” flew to Zambia hoping to overturn a 1-0 defeat in Nairobi a week ago. The Kenyan 19 times champions took the lead in the 17th minute following Samuel Onyango’s cool finish. However, their celebration was short-lived as Austine Banda equalized for the Pensioners a minute later.

Forward Clinton Miheso restored Gor’s lead in the 20th minute, but a 90+6 minutes spot-kick put the last nail on the Kenyan side coffin after defender Geoffrey Ochieng committed a foul on Jimmy Mukeya inside the box.

Irate Gor Mahia fans slammed the South African referee Lebalang Mokete claiming the spot-kick was awarded outside the added minutes.

“The penalty was awarded when the game was already over, and the 90+4 was done. We were robbed,” said Wiclife Majiwa.

“That was match-fixing. The match played beyond the 4 minutes added time. The

 penalty was unjustified and a good referee won’t have awarded it under the circumstances.

 The referee behaved as if he had been compromised to ensure Gor Mahia lost the match by all means possible,” added Fredrick Ochoro.

Napsa Stars fans maintained that the referee’s decision was right in rejoinder, calling their opponents crying babies.

“When you play all those delaying tactics and think that referee is not taking note…The referee has the right to top up even 5minutes on additional minutes depending on stoppages during the additional time. Bad luck for our brothers, next time you will react reasonably, not like how you did at our home ground,” said Ben Kumwenda.

“The husband lost it in Kenya; how can you lose at home? Zambian teams rarely lose at home,” reiterated Felix Kampamba.

“Point of correction, how can a husband cry like a baby? I think he sent a wife to play for him this time,” Daliso Jere taunted Gor Mahia fans.

On the harassment of match officials, the Pensioners’ diehards slammed Gor Mahia players for acting unprofessionally.

Gor Mahia players reportedly descended on the centre referee after the final whistle, a behavior that could earn the club a ban and a hefty fine from CAF.

In a draw conducted on Monday by CAF, Napsa was placed in Group B alongside RS Berkane of Morocco, JS Kabyile from Algeria, and Cameroon’s side Coton Sport.

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Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) to announce winners of the African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting Awards today
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) will today announce the finalists and winners of the African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting Awards (ACCER Awards)  during a live digital event on Tuesday 23rd on February 2021 on the sidelines of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA).

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) invites journalists to follow and report on the event, which will be live on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook or the events landing page www.accerawards.pacja.org

The ACCER Awards, which amplifies the role of media in climate change adaptation and mitigation, have continued to recognize African journalists passionate about conservation since 2012.

The Award, run by PACJA and supported by multiple partners, is in its fifth edition and winners are being announced for the first time through a digital event.  It comes at a time uncertainty abounds regarding climate action in the context of several crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ACCER Awards 2020 theme is Making climate action a way of life. Contestants submitted stories that told the climate situation as it is, with so many of them highlighting readily available and easily reachable solutions.

The ACCER Awards initiative recognizes that journalists and media networks are important actors in unpacking and building the synergy for crises faced by African countries, which are the most affected by climate change despite being some of the least emitters of Greenhouse Gases (GHG).

The Awards will this year recognise 25 journalists from around the continent, who submitted their work in either English or French.

 It is reported that there were more female winners than male this time. These journalists were able to illustrate how communities make use of existing legal frameworks to demand climate action from governments and prevent exposure to looming disasters.

 It is added that they brought out notable contributions stakeholders, including the private sector, made in the achievement of environment conservation. Others were able to outline glaring gaps that make Africa most vulnerable, a continent with special needs, and why the developed world must choose to release the necessary funds to address the plights.

With the ACCER Awards, PACJA hopes to continue to ensure that Africa’s climate story is told as it is, highlighting the areas unseen by the rest of the world, and which determines how the intervention is reached. Other objectives of the Awards include motivating journalists and media houses in Africa to effectively cover and report on Climate Change and Environment and illuminating innovative best-practice approaches in Policy and Practice towards response strategies and programmes.

Also key for PACJA is that the Awards enhance proactive media participation in African Climate Change discourses with a view of perspectives and narratives, sustain and boost coverage of Climate Change issues by journalists in the mainstream media and media networks as well as promote and create awareness about opportunities existing in green investment in the public and private realms.

The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) is a consortium of more than 1,000 organisations from 48 African countries, and brings together a diverse membership drawn from Faith-based Organisations, Community-Based Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, Trusts, Foundations, Indigenous Communities, Farmers and Pastoralist Groups with a shared vision to advance a people-centred, rights-based, equitable, just and inclusive approach to climate change response. PACJA is implementing a variety of projects that traverse direct programming, policy and advocacy, sub-granting and capacity building, mainly focusing on the most vulnerable groups that are “unreachable” in traditional development paradigms. The Alliance plays a central role in key African processes spearheaded by African Union, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and African Development Bank (AfDB), among them, the flagship Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev) Programme. It is a Partner in Adaptation of African Agriculture on Climate Change Initiative (AAA), whose main goal is to build resilience for the mainly smallholder agriculture from climate shocks.

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Tanzania:Simba SC sting Al Ahly in the Caf Champions League
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Tanzania’s Simba SC on Tuesday registered 1-0 over the reigning African Champions Al Ahly FC in the Caf Champions League match played at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.

Miquissone’s thunderous strike in the 29th minute was enough to grab three points for the host and grabbed the summit of group A with six points.

Simba’s first match in the competition was against a much-fancied DR Congolese side, Vita Club.

Mutshimba Mugalu secured a 1-0 hard victory for the Kings from the spot-kick after Vivien Assie Koua committed in the 58th minute.

Vita Club piled pressure on the visitors but could not break the well-organized Simba’s defence.

On the other hand, the Egyptian champions thrashed Al-Merreikh of Sudan 3-0 in Cairo.

The Tanzanian next match is against Al-Merreikh on March 5, while Al Ahly will take on Vita Club on the same day.

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Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA): Making Africa Future-Proof
February 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By James Woods*

Just as we are not content with Africa being treated as a second-class continent, we are also not content with Africans doing all the dirty work while foreign entrepreneurs give out orders and make all the profits, says James Woods

Sustainability has been increasingly present in global discourse in the last years. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which must be reached by 2030, have put sustainability at the core of both today’s and tomorrow’s agendas. With the SDGs being targeted on a multilateral level, it would be more than fair to say that it is everyone’s aim to see positive steps being taken in this regard. Even more so, it is also important to see that regions which have performed below par in the past, start tackling sustainability, especially economic sustainability incrementally – and fast.


This is why last week, my brother and colleague Thebe Ikalafeng launched the Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA), which aims to strengthen entrepreneurial sustainability in Africa. Having lost both of my parents when I was 8 years old, I know all too well how hard life can be. I know what it feels like to go from living a life of wealth to living a life of need. The right guidance in life can either make you or break you. And just as I found the right guidance when I was in need, I too, want to be there for young Africans who want to make their continent a better place to live in.

Data published by African Business has shown that African brands add up to only 20% of the brands admired by African people. This must change, and fast. Why? Because the Covid19 pandemic has shown more than ever the need for self-sustainability in areas of determinate importance. Supply-chain disruption for one, risks leaving those who don’t foresee the future behind. Shouldn’t we therefore have high-end African brands offering products and services made on African soil that are ready to rise to the occasion if such disruption takes place?

Myself and the rest of the ABLA team are determined to make sure that if such events take place, we will be ready for them by being futureproof. Moreover, just as we are not content with Africa being treated as a second-class continent, we are also not content with Africans doing all the dirty work while foreign entrepreneurs give out orders and make all the profits.

In the context of my home country, Malawi, we don’t really have any household brands that have transcended international borders, maybe we have household names as in personalities but those too are not at the level we want. I believe, if we priorities the development of this field by creating quality brands, we can truly transform the economy of Malawi, of Africa.

What we are therefore proposing to do is provide the right guidance to the younger generation. By sharpening the younger generation’s brand leadership capability what we will be doing is investing in tomorrow’s leaders, executives and entrepreneurs. In turn, we are hoping to have a return on investment by seeing more marketable, distinctive, sustainable and competitive brands that will strengthen Africa’s commercial capabilities.

In doing so, we will be blending a variety of topics, creating a multi-disciplinary approach focused on traditional strategic brand leadership, intellectual property management, and go-to-market strategies with content and immersion in African conditions. Last but not least we will also focus on culture and creativity, the latter of which we are aiming will inspire authentic and relevant outcomes.


To achieve this, we shall be offering three flagship programmes: The Post Graduate Diploma in African Brand Leadership, the African Brand Leadership Executive Programme (ABLE) and the Brand Leadership for Entrepreneurs. If those reading this article don’t want to enroll in a programme, then you don’t have to worry at all. We’ve also got you covered with various short learning programmes which will help you sharpen your skills!

In concluding, I’d like to say that life has taught me that certain life-changing opportunities come once in a lifetime. This is one of those opportunities that might change not just your story, but the story of the whole continent. I therefore encourage you to visit our website www.abla.academy for more information about enrolling in our programmes. Don’t just wish for Africa to reach its true potential, be an active part of it!

*James Woods, a Malawi national, is an award-winning African achiever with significant experience dealing with governance issues, reputation management, strategic media, and communications. He has served as a communications advisor to two African countries; worked in the diplomatic field; The Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Navigate Response and has consulted for numerous international entities such as Ras Al Khaimah Gas and Surestream Petroleum.

He holds a Bachelor Degree with Honours in Politics, Philosophy and History; A Master of Science in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science; Executive Leadership Programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford; Certificate in Global Diplomacy, School of Oriental and African Studies joint programme with the University of London; Executive Programme in Shipping Economics, Investment and Finance from CASS Business School and Baltic Exchange and has undergone Diplomatic Training at the Clingendael Institute of International Relations in The Netherlands.

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AFRICA’S FIRST AFRICA-FOCUSED BRAND LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
February 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
Brand Africa founder, Thebe Ikalafeng
Brand Africa founder, Thebe Ikalafeng

Johannesburg, South Africa – 10 February 2021:  Brand Africa founder, Thebe Ikalafeng, today announced the launch of the Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA), the first Africa-focused specialist brand leadership academy aimed at sharpening the minds that build brands that build Africa.

Every year since 2010, Brand Africa has researched and ranked the best brands in Africa.  The Brand Africa 100:  Africa’s Best Brands research is conducted independently by Geopoll, Kantar and Brand Leadership.  The research, conducted in at least 25 countries, which cover all African economic regions and collectively account for over 80% of the continent’s GDP and population.  It is the most comprehensive and objective metric on brands and is published globally every year by African Business around Africa Day, 25 May.Over the past decade, the survey has established that on average, African brands account for only 20% of the brands that Africans admire. 

Recognizing the need to remedy this challenge, ABLA aims to sharpen the brand leadership capability of established and the next generation of executives and entrepreneurs in Africa to build meaningful, distinctive, sustainable and competitive brands that will transform Africa’s competitiveness and inspire the world.

Through a cross disciplinary curriculum, ABLA blends traditional strategic brand leadership, intellectual property management, go-to-market strategies with content and immersion in African conditions, culture and creativity to inspire authentic and relevant Africa outcomes.

ABLA’s flagship programmes are the Post Graduate Diploma in African Brand Leadership (PGDABL) focused on the next generation of brand builders who want to accelerate their career with relevant brand leadership skills and deep immersion in the continental context; the African Brand Leadership Executive Programme (ABLE) to immerse, inspire and empower executives leading brands in Africa to understand African consumers and marketplaces, and the challenges and opportunities that will grow their brands and businesses, and Brand Leadership for Entrepreneurs to enable entrepreneurs to navigate the challenges of transforming their good products and ideas into great sustainable brands and to strategically and profitably manage their personal, organisational and product brands. These programmes are complemented by a range of short-term Short Learning Programmes for individuals who need short-term learning interventions to sharpen their skills, in inter alia, Responsible Branding; Brands, Boards and the Bottom-Line and Leadership Branding and Public Sector Branding.

“For Africa to compete globally and attain sustainable economic independence, it will have to complement its entrepreneurial skills with brand leadership to transform its many commoditized products into world-class brands,” says Ikalafeng. “Throughout history, brands have proven to be a powerful vector of the image, identity and competitiveness of people, products and nations.  There are several exemplary brands such as Nigeria’s Dangote, South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Mpesa among several African brands challenging non-African brands in Africa and transformed the image of their nations.  With the imminent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is aimed at boosting intra-African trade, it will be an epic tragedy if in the long-term, the majority of goods and services moving across African borders are not made in Africa.”

ABLA has a global African faculty network of respected specialist practitioners, thought leaders and academics and institutional partnerships which collectively bring a rich blend of deep insights on the continent and building brands in Africa.

ABLA leadership and governance is based on sound and best practice principles for organizing and managing a higher education institution with a pan-African focus and reach. Renowned Ethiopian thought leader and business woman, Dr. Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin who founded the highly acclaimed Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is the founding Chancellor/President, retired Namibian academic, Professor Tjama Tjivikua, the founding principal of the Namibia University of Science and Technology, is the founding Council chairman and ABLA founder, Thebe Ikalafeng, is the founding principal.  This team is led by a Council of diverse and respected Africans who are responsible for the good order and overall governance of ABLA. ABLA is operating out of its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa

About the Africa Brand Leadership Academy

The Africa Brand Leadership Academy is the first Africa-focused and specialist brand leadership academy.  ABLA aims to sharpen the brand leadership capability of established and the next generation of brand builders and entrepreneurs in Africa to build Africa meaningful, distinctive, sustainable and competitive brands in Africa, that will transform Africa’s competitiveness and image and inspire the world.  www.abla.academy

About Brand Africa

Brand Africa is a non-profit initiative to inspire a great Africa through promoting a positive image of the continent, celebrating its diversity and driving its competitiveness. It is a brand-led movement which recognizes that in the 21st century, brands are an asset and a vector of image, reputation and competitiveness of nations.

The Brand Africa 100:  Africa’s Best Brands is a Brand Africa initiative to survey, rank and recognize the best brands in Africa.

Brand Africa is an independent Non-Profit Organisation registered in the Republic of South Africa (NPC 2013/146300/08) and a signatory to the Independent Code of Governance for Non-Profit Organisations in Africa.  www.brand.africa.

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African schools football competition to kick off in DR Congo
February 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

Through football, you can teach respect for adversaries and rules, learning how to play as a team, how to win and lose.

FIFA President Infantino with DR Congo President Tshisekedi
FIFA President Infantino with DR Congo President Tshisekedi

KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 21, 2021/ — FIFA and the African Union have agreed to launch a schools football competition following a meeting in Kinshasa between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, who is also the current Chairperson of the African Union (AU).

The two presidents, who had initiated discussions last week by videoconference, met at the Palais de la Nation in the DRC’s capital to further their productive talks of the previous days, and central to their exchange was the need to use the power of football to improve lives and to harness the possibilities it offers to instil positive values in young people.

On this subject, both the FIFA President and the AU Chairperson agreed to use the framework of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the African Union, FIFA and CAF, to organise schools football competition across Africa, which will kick off in the DRC. To initiate the project, a protocol was signed this afternoon between FIFA and the Ministry of Sports and Leisure of the DRC.

“President Tshisekedi is passionate about football, and I’m delighted that we can work together to give hope to all children across Africa thanks to football,” the FIFA President said at the conclusion of the meeting. “Together, FIFA, AU, CAF and our member associations will develop competitions and training for the youth through football, because football is more than a sport, it is a school of life. Through football, you can teach respect for adversaries and rules, learning how to play as a team, how to win and lose. With this schools championship we plan to make these values, which are already strong in Africa, even stronger.”

Subsequently, the FIFA President also had the opportunity to visit the offices of the Congo DR Football Association (FECOFA) and to meet with FECOFA President Constant Omari, the FECOFA executive committee and several representatives of the football community of Congo DR.

*SOURCE Fédération internationale de football association (FIFA)

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Impact of Covid-19 Vastly Underestimated in Africa – Zambian Researchers
February 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

A group of Zambian researchers based at the Boston University School of Public Health recently conducted a research into the impacts of Covid-19 in Africa. The research was inspired by the need to ascertain if the widely held belief that Africa has largely been spared the worst effects of the corona virus pandemic is true or not. At the end of the study, the researchers came to the conclusion that “the impact of Covid-19 in Africa has been vastly underestimated.”

The group of researchers used the University Teaching Hospital morgue in Lusaka as the study setting. Conducting their study which ran from June to September, 2020, the researchers enrolled 372 corpses as research participants. Out of the 372, 364 were exposed to PCR testing most of whom posthumously. Of the 364 participants that were tested, 15.9% were positive to Covid-19. The study however, could not ascertain if Covid-19 was the cause of death for all of those who tested positive.

From the research, the researchers managed to conclude that “deaths with Covid-19 were common in Lusaka (Zambia). Most occurred in the community where testing capacity is lacking. However, few people who died at facilities were tested, despite presenting with typical symptoms of Covid-19. Therefore, cases of Covid-19 were underreported because testing was rarely done not because Covid-19 was rare. If these data are generalisable, the impact of Covid-19 in Africa has been vastly underestimated.”

The results of the study made the researchers to postulate that by extension, the same trend of undercounting and underestimating the impact of Covid-19 maybe true elsewhere in Africa. This, in essence, disproving official records which state that Covid-19 fatalities in Africa account for just 4% of the population in a continent that makes up 17 per cent of the world’s population.

Various myths and theories that were forwarded by different individuals on the continent were also tackled during the course of the research. Firstly, many individuals believe that Covid-19 is a pandemic that rakes havoc mostly in the middle and upper classes of society. Low density communities that live in densely populated areas are of the view that they have been largely spared by the pandemic. To justify this, many claim that if the pandemic had caused as much havoc as it did in the East and West, then hundreds of deaths would be recorded. This however, according to the research was disproved as it found out that “most deaths occurred in the community” but “the majority of people who died in the community… had not been tested for Covid-19 before death”. To compound the situation, out of the people who die in the communities, upon arriving at health institutions, “testing was rarely conducted” even though some would have died showing “a constellation of symptoms typical of Covid-19”.

In recent times, public fatigue at Covid-19 countermeasures such as mask wearing and social distancing has been on the rise. Many youths and young adults hold the belief that the elderly are at higher risk of contracting the virus and succumbing to the virus thus they leave themselves vulnerable. This, however, has been disproved by the research which states that “deaths with Covid-19 occurred quite evenly across the age spectrum, not just among elder people. Most deaths were in people aged 20-59 years. This pattern is distinct from that described in the US, the EU, and China; it is more typical of the death by age distribution and population age structures common in African countries.”

Furthermore, to highlight the impact that Covid-19 has had on the younger generations, the research concluded that “10% (7/10) of the deaths with Covid-19 were in children, including three infants. Among the younger children, gastrointestinal rather than respiratory complaints predominated, which may be a factor explaining why only one had been tested for Covid-19 before death. The preponderance of gastrointestinal symptoms among children has been described previously.”

However, while the research did disprove several commonly held beliefs, it did agree with the popular belief that Covid-19 affects more those living with comorbidities. The research “identified a high frequency of novel potential underlying risk factors that may be more specific to Africa. Notably, tuberculosis, malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS were very common in this setting.” Other high risk factors included chronic conditions such as “diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and emphysema”.

Overall, the research team led by Lawrence Mwanayanda came to the conclusion that Africa is no different to any other continent when it comes to the question of the impact of Covid-19. The assertion that Africa was spared the worst effects is thus not true. On this front, the research called for more systematic surveillance to be conducted by different African countries. Only when this is fulfilled can Africa have a more definitive answer to the question of the real impact of Covid-19 on the continent. The research encouraged African countries to take a leaf from South Africa when it comes to systematic surveillance as it has been a frontrunner.

The conclusions reached by the Boston University School of Public Health were supported by Dr Faisal Shuaib, chief executive of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency. Dr Shuaib said the findings of the study rang true in Nigeria, “There are a lot of communities where autopsies are not carried out, so we don’t have complete data on causes of death… So, yes, it is possible that we don’t know how many people are dying of Covid.” However, Dr Shuaib said that it was of critical significance for the research to be rigorously peer reviewed before its findings and recommendations are taken as the way forward.  

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