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Staggering numbers of women unable to exercise decision-making over their own bodies, new UNFPA report shows
April 2, 2020 | 0 Comments
Yveka, 17, visits a UNFPA mobile clinic in Haiti. Haiti’s former Minister of Women, Dr. Lise Marie Dejean, says many women lack autonomy over their bodies and health. © UNFPA

NEW YORK, USA, April 2, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Out of nine pregnancies, Kadiatou experienced five tragic stillbirths, all at her home in rural Mali. Each time, she gave birth without the assistance of a skilled attendant. She never received antenatal care.

None of this was her choice.

Her ninth pregnancy ended in an excruciating and prolonged labour, which led to an obstetric fistula – a traumatic birth injury that causes chronic incontinence, and can lead to pain, infection and rejection by the community.

Even so, her husband’s family refused to allow her to seek care.

“My husband wanted to send me to Bamako for treatment,” 46-year-old Kadiatou explained to UNFPA, “but his little brother objected, saying it was not that bad.”

She suffered for a year before finally undergoing the repair surgeries she needed.

Kadiatou’s case is not an isolated one: Around the world, millions of women are not empowered to make fundamental choices about their own bodies and health.

new report by UNFPA offers, for the first time, a global view of women’s decision-making power over their own bodies. The findings are dismaying.

Kadiatou was not empowered to seek care after she developed an obstetric fistula, a traumatic birth injury. © UNFPA Mali

Based on data from 57 countries, a quarter of women are not able to make their own decisions about accessing health care. A quarter of women in these countries are not empowered to say no to sex with their husband or partner. And nearly 1 in 10 women is not able to make her own choices about using contraception.

Only 55 per cent of women are able to make their own decisions over all three areas.

And in more than 40 per cent of these countries, women’s decision-making power is not improving – or is even regressing. For example, in Benin, 41 per cent women were able to make these decisions in 2006, compared to 36 per cent in 2018.

“Women hardly ever spoke”

Dr. Lise Marie Dejean saw this all too clearly when she was practicing in south-western Haiti.

“I remember when I was doing training sessions for couples on reproductive health,” she recalls. “Women hardly ever spoke. Always the men spoke.”

These experiences had an impact on Dr. Dejean. She went on to serve as the country’s first Minister for the Status of Women and Women’s Rights, and she founded the feminist organization Solidarite Fanm Ayisyen.

The world has agreed to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, an ambitious set of goals to improve human welfare. These new data will help track progress towards the Sustainable Development Goal on gender equality. © Veronique de Viguerie/Getty Images

UNFPA’s new data show that more than 20 per cent of Haitian women are not empowered to make their own health-care decisions. A roughly equal percentage of women are not able to refuse sex with their partner. Seven per cent are not empowered to make contraceptive choices. Overall, only 59 per cent of Haitian women are able to make decisions over all three areas.

Poverty and rural isolation can make things worse. “In two very remote localities of Grand’Anse, Lopineau and Massanga, I also noticed that it was men – members of peasant groups – who came to me to ask for a contraceptive method for their wives. In other words, when women had to adopt a method, it was mostly the men’s decision,” Dr. DeJean said. “All of this reflects, in my opinion, a lack of autonomy for women.”

A gulf between laws and reality

UNFPA’s new report also launches a system to measure whether governments are enacting laws to protect women’s access to sexual and reproductive health services and information.

Mali, where Kadiatou lives, has in place 79 per cent of the laws and regulations needed to guarantee full and equal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights. For example, laws in Mali guarantee access to maternal health care. This makes Kadiatou’s experience particularly eye-opening; laws were not enough to support her right to safe pregnancy and childbirth.

In fact, Mali is one of several countries showing a significant gulf between the legal measures in place to protect women’s autonomy and women’s actual experiences. Such findings can help pinpoint which actions are needed, and where. Some countries require interventions to address attitudes and education, for instance. Others still have significant legal gaps.

The report also underlines another critical gap: more than 100 countries around the world do not have available data on either women’s decision-making power over their sexual and reproductive health or on the laws guaranteeing their access to reproductive health services and information.

“Urgent actions are needed to collect the data, for low- and middle-income countries and high-income countries, in order to realize our commitment to universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights,” said Mengjia Liang, a UNFPA data specialist who worked on the report.  

“Before this data, we knew that women’s decision-making on sexual and reproductive health was a major challenge and that restrictive laws were in place, but until now we didn’t have the evidence to back this up,” added Emilie Filmer-Wilson, a UNFPA human rights expert who worked on the report. “These data shows us the urgency of stepping up our efforts to support women’s rights and agency.”

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of UNFPA .

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Mid-day COVID-19 Business Updates – 31 March
March 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

31 MARCH 2020; Updates of Covid-19/Coronavirus impact on businesses and economies

Spain’s deadliest day yet, Divorce filings soar in China, Fuel prices estimated to slump by 24% and other tit-bits are all available in the Covid-19 Business Updates

  • There have been more than 800,000 cases worldwide, with 38,000 dead; 170,000 have recovered. Death rate is 4.75% while recovery rate stands at 21.25%.
  • Spain records highest number of fatalities; 849 deaths in the last 24 hours. Looks like the deadliest day yet
  • Compliance to lockdown in the affected areas seem to be working with security agencies enforcing the directives.
  • About 3 billion of the world’s population are staying at home (bbc.com)
  • Fraudsters have taken advantage of Ghana’s lockdown and robbing the market traders of their wares. Asafo market in Kumasi has already reported of robbery of their foodstuffs. Online fraud is also expected of rise in these times.
  • Market traders have been idle as there are very little buyers, however, this is expected to change towards the end of the week as domestic food supplies begin to dwindle
  • Ghana’s economy may slide into recession due to the Coronavirus outbreak; Professor Peter Quartey
  • About 25% of foreign investors have disinvested their local bonds. This is expected to put more pressure on the dollar demand. However the Minister of Finance has aluded that the recent US$3 billion could add to save the day
  • The Institute for Energy Security (IES) is forecasting between 16 and 24% drop in prices of fuel on the local market in the first Pricing-window for April 2020. World oil prices have declined Brent Crude has declined by 33% leading decline of prices of petrol by 51.29% and diesel by 27.96% on the international market
  • Half a million workers in Germany have applied for one aid or another due to the Covid-19 lockdown
  • The World Bank has advised that the ‘Poor will get Poorer’ as economic gains made in 2019 would all be wiped out
  • The Asia Pacific region may see a 2.1% growth of the economy. China may only see 2.3% growth in 2020 as opposed to 6.1% in 2019. This is a situation of ‘economic pain’ according to the world bank
  • Signapore is set to punish firms that do not offer home-work facility for staff during this Covid-19 period
  • Divorce filings in China soars during the quarantine but Russia bans divorce in these times making it tough for couples without love but are in quarantine in the virus outbreak.
  • American Airlines, one of the world’s richest carriers, says it will apply for $12bn (£9.7bn) in government aid

There would be more updates in the end of day Covid-19 business updates

ghanatalksbusiness.com

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Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Covid 19: Foreign nationals flee ahead of lockdown in Ghana.
March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

The Ghana immigration services have picked up 22 Malians who tried sneaking out of the country through unapproved routes from Tatale in the Northern Region. 

10 Guinean nationals who are eloping through Tamale have tested positive for coronavirus following their arrest and quarantine. While others are running away from the partial lockdown in some parts of Ghana, others were also sneaking in as well. According to the Ghana immigration service, 14 Nigerian and a Ghanaian was also picked up at the Aflao- Togo border. 

Few hours after the president’s announcement on the partial lockdown of some parts of Ghana, Ghanaians at the affected areas have been moving to their hometowns to avoid the restriction order. Foreign nationals from the sub- region are not left out using unapproved routes, despite the closure of the country’s borders.

This, the joints security force is warning will not be tolerated. Briefing the media today, the operations directorates of the Ghana Immigration has advised that Ghanaians and other nationals in Ghana cooperates with the directive given to curb the spread of the virus. Failure to do so he said will mean that the security services will have to use force. DCOP Dr. Sayibu Gariba, Director of National Operations, Ghana police service and the Director of operations at the Ghana Armed forces Col.William Nortey said  the service is poised to ensure compliance of the orders and would need maximum cooperation from the populace. 

According to DCOP Dr. Sayibu Gariba, the security agency does not intend to terrorize the citizenry but it is crucial they adhere to directives to ensure effective operation.  

“It is a humanitarian operation; not a war. We’re not going to intimidate anybody, we’re going to support to achieve the overall objective of the president of Ghana,”. As at the time of filling this report, Ghana has recorded eleven (11) new cases of the coronavirus according to the Ghana Health Service (GHS). This makes the total number of cases in the country 152. 

“As of 29th March 2020, at 10:30 hrs, 11 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ghana. Ten (10) of the new cases were among persons who were under mandatory quarantine in Tamale under the direction of the Regional Security Committee of the Northern Region.

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Rwanda in total lockdown for two weeks over coronavirus
March 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Government of Rwanda has taken tougher measures to curb the spread of coronavirus, the deadly virus that is hitting the world.

Prime Minister Dr Eduard Ngirente on Saturday, 21 March, 2020 issued a statement, announcing new measures to halt the spread of the virus.

Among new measures that will be there for two weeks, borders are closed except for goods and cargo as well as returning Rwandan citizens and legal  residents  who will be subject to mandatory 14 day quarantine at designated locations.

Travel between different cities and districts of the country is not permitted  except for medical reasons or essential services. Shops and markets are closed except for those selling foods, medicine, hygiene and cleaning products and fuel.

By Saturday, 21 March, 2020 Rwanda was reporting 17 cases of  people infected with coronavirus.

People were advised to avoid unnecessary movements and visits outside the home except for essential services such as healthcare, food shopping or banking and for the personnel performing such services.

All employees public or private shall work from home except for those providing essential services.

The statement also banned  motorcycles  to carry passengers. Bars are closed and restaurants will be providing take away services only.

New measures come after the previous ones such as banning public gatherings, closing schools and churches.

Worldwide deaths surged past 11,000 on Saturday, according to data collected by the Johns Hopkins University in the United States. More than 277,000 people have been infected, while some 88,000 have recovered.

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DES FEMMES FORMÉES AUX TECHNIQUES DE MÉDIATION DES CONFLITS S’ENGAGENT POUR LA PAIX EN ITURI
March 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

ITURI, RDC, le 19 Mars 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Une trentaine de femmes leaders communautaires et membres des associations féminines de l’Ituri ont bénéficié d’une formation sur les techniques de médiation des conflits. La formation organisée par la MONUSCO le 12 mars dernier à Bunia, visait à outiller ces femmes en techniques et stratégies afin qu’elles soient en mesure, aux côtés des hommes, de participer à des négociations de paix.

Ces femmes souhaitent que les acquis de cette formation puissent réellement contribuer à faire baisser la tension surtout dans le Territoire de Djugu où on observe depuis ces dernières semaines une forte détérioration des conditions sécuritaires due à l’activisme des miliciens.

Elisabeth Buve du Collectif des Femmes de l’Ituri est l’une des participantes à cette formation organisée par la Section Genre de la MONUSCO.  Elle se dit satisfaite des nouveaux outils dont elle dispose désormais pour mieux assumer son rôle de « faiseuse de paix » : « L’atelier m’a personnellement outillée par rapport aux exigences de la paix et de réconciliation. Nous sommes désormais armées pour pouvoir engager des discussions avec ceux qui commettent les atrocités contre nos populations au quotidien, y compris avec les groupes armés. Cette formation nous a également dotées d’outils et de stratégies qui vont nous permettre d’échanger avec les autorités tant provinciales que nationales, et même s’il le faut, nous irons jusqu’à la présidence de la République ».

Marthe Dheve Dhessi souligne quant à elle, l’importance de l’implication et de la participation effective des femmes dans la gestion des conflits. « Grace aux techniques apprises, nous avons maintenant cette capacité de descendre sur le terrain pour mettre en place des noyaux de femmes médiatrices en conflits, ce qui va inévitablement contribuer à la réduction sensible de la violence communautaire ».

Les participantes à cette formation sont issues des associations estudiantines, de la société civile ainsi que des corporations politiques. Certaines avaient déjà bénéficié d’une formation similaire organisée par la Section Genre de la MONUSCO sur la médiation des conflits communautaires et la contribution des femmes dans la consolidation de la paix. Cependant, d’après le constat fait par les organisateurs, ces femmes sont souvent écartées des négociations lorsqu’il s’agit d’entreprendre des pourparlers avec les forces et groupes armés.

Marthe Dheve Dhessi rappelle que « c’est grâce aux femmes médiatrices formées par la MONUSCO que des femmes du Sud Irumu ont eu le courage d’aller voir Mbadu Adurodu, chef de l’ex-groupe armé de la FRPI, pour l’encourager à sortir de la brousse. Ces femmes ont marché dans la forêt pendant 3 jours, à la recherche de Mbadu et ont fini par le rencontrer, Il leur a fait la promesse d’abandonner les armes : ce qui a été fait. Nous aussi voudrions faire la même chose à Djugu ».

Distribué par African Media Agency (AMA) pour la MONUSCO.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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South Sudan Suspends Flights, Ban Public Events over Looming COVID – 19
March 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Passengers from an international flight are screened for their temperature at Juba International Airport in Juba, South Sudan on January 31, 2020. – South Sudan’s international airport has implemented more rigorous health screenings after the World Health Organisation declared the Nova Coronavirus a global health emergency on January 30, 2020. (Photo by Alex McBride / AFP) (Photo by ALEX MCBRIDE/AFP via Getty Images)

Juba – South Sudan’s government has suspended direct flights to countries affected by the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), including ban public events within the country due to the looming threat of coronavirus, effective this month.

South Sudan has no case of the coronavirus but neighboring Kenya, Sudan and Ethiopia, have all reported coronavirus cases.

President Salva Kiir said in a statement in Juba today that the government had suspended all public gatherings, sporting events, religious meetings and political events.

 “I have ordered self-quarantine of all senior government officials who have just arrived from countries with established local infection and transmission of COVID-19,” said president Kiir. We have directed security and law enforcement agencies to support the ministry of health in enforcing isolation, self-quarantine, removing COVID – 19 suspects and relocating them to isolation centers.”

Kiir said ‘prevention is better curse’ as the war-torn country lagged behind in term of health standards, facilities and capacities to face the COVID – 19.

According to Kiir, non-essential travels to affected countries must be called off or postponed to a later date.

“We have ordered restrictions on movement of people, including decline to issue new visas, revoking visas and residence permits, and denial of admission as ports of entry,” said Kiir.

The reported coronavirus cases in sub-Saharan Africa have mainly been in foreigners or locals who had travelled abroad, but concerns are growing about the continent’s ability to handle a potential rapid spread of the virus.

Last week, Dr. Makur Matur, the undersecretary of the ministry of health, said that the country was “under a high risk of importation of Covid-19 from the affected countries”.

“In light to the current transmission of the disease, the government of South Sudan is temporarily suspending flights between South Sudan and affected countries,’’ Dr. Matur told journalists in Juba on Friday.

The latest decision includes Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria, Togo, Middle East, US, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Peru, Paraguay some countries in Europe.

In Asia, China, Korea, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, Philippines, Viet Nam, New Zealand, Cambodia, India have been listed. Others are Thailand, Indonesia, Maldives and Bangladesh.

Dr. Matur further added that its embassies in countries hardest-hit by the virus had been advised to impose visa restrictions.

President Kiir said caution must be exercised to reduce and avoid crowding at place of work, adding that workers sharing an office space must ensure they are seated at least one meter apart.

All international conferences slated to take place in South Sudan have temporarily been postponed due to the looming threat of COVID – 19.

South Sudanese leader says travellers arriving in South Sudan from affected countries and areas with established local transmission will be self-quarantined for 14 days.

However, the restrictions may include directing South Sudan’s embassies accredited to the affected countries, not to issue new entry visas, revoke visas or deny admission at the ports of entry.

South Sudan, country blighted by several civil wars, become an independence nation in 2011 from Sudan and descended into another civil war in 2013.

After the six year of conflict, the country is now implementing the 2018 peace deal, as new presidency and cabinets were sworn in of office.

At moment, passengers’ arriving the country through Juba International Airport and other points of the entry are being screened for the detection of Covid-19.

As a precaution, president Kiir encouraged non-physical contact but says that citizens could opt for elbow and foot bumps as greetings if they have to make physical contact rather than hand-shaking.

More so, the hand washing and self-distance are advisable to the citizens in order to avoid contract the deadly disease.

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IMF office in Accra closed down temporally to manage spread of Coronavirus
March 16, 2020 | 0 Comments

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has shut down its local office in Accra

Although no staff of the fund has been infested, the closure of the IMF office is only meant to test its ability to manage the coronavirus pandemic.

Due to this, staff in the office are expected to work remotely, relying on technology from Friday 13th of March.

Sources close to the IMF says working via virtual platforms is part of several simulations mechanism put in place to understand the situation should any of its staff be “infected”.

The source adds that this it is to ensure that their operations in the country do not grind to a halt should the coronavirus get out of hand in the country.

Ghana’s first case

Ghana confirmed its first cases of coronavirus on Thursday, becoming the tenth country in sub-Saharan Africa to register positive cases.

Ghana’s Health Ministry said the two cases involved people who had returned recently from Norway and Turkey.

“These are imported cases of COVID-19. Both patients are currently being kept in isolation and are stable,” the ministry said in a statement.

WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Covid-19 a pandemic, because of its rapid spread and global impact.
WHO chief Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was now using the term because of deep concern over “alarming levels of inaction” over the virus.

A pandemic is used to describe an infectious disease with significant and ongoing person-to-person spread in multiple countries around the world at the same time.

Globally, there have been 134,511 cases recorded and at least 4,970 deaths.

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Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Government to release $100million to fight Covid-19
March 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Akuffo-Addo says Government will release $100 million to the Health Ministry to put measures in place to prevent the deadly coronavirus from speading in the country.

In a telecast address to update the nation on the contingency
measures being put in place to tackle the Covid-19 disease outbreak, President
Akufo-Addo reiterated his government’s willingness to prevent the novel
coronavirus.

“In order to do so, at my prompting, the Ministry of Finance has made available the cedi equivalent of $100 million to enhance our coronavirus preparedness and response plan”, he said.

The money, he adds, is to fund the expansion of
infrastructure, purchase of materials and equipment, and public education.

“Government is analysing the potential impact to our economy of the virus, and will trigger the relevant response to minimise it”, says to the President.

Foreign travels suspended

Meanwhile, President Akufo-Addo has suspended, temporarily, all foreign travels for all public officials, as part of measures taken to prevent the outbreak of coronavirus in Ghana.

In a circular issued by the Chief of Staff at the Office of
the President, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, to all appointees of the President have
been directed to forthwith stay away from all foreign travels.

However, the Chief of Staff stressed that only essential and
critical foreign travels will be considered and, thereafter, approved.

Consequently, the President in his address yesterday,
Wednesday, February 11, 2020 directed his appointees to engage their foreigner
partners outside the country through video conferencing or other communications
platforms provided for my technology.

He has again asked the citizens in the country to suspend
all their travelling plans at least until such a time when the disease is
brought under control.

Furthermore, he again called on them adhere strictly to all
the preventive measure, such as regular handwashing with soap as well as the
use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers.

In addition to the above, the President also appealed to the
media to use their platforms support the Government in creating awareness and educating
the public on how to prevent the disease.

Covid-19

The novel coronavirus, which has been christened by the World Health Organization (WHO) as ‘Covid-19’, has affected over 100,000 people across the world with about 4200 deaths recorded, since its outbreak in Wuhan-China.

For far 11 African countries have recorded their first cases of the coronavirus disease outbreak.

Ghana’s neighbouring countries Burkina Faso, Togo and Cote d’voire have recorded cases of the disease.

Only yesterday the WHO declared the disease a ‘pandemic and further called for strict adherence to the preventive measure while reiterating to resolve to find a lasting solution to the global menace.

President Akufo-Addo revealed that in the early days of the
outbreak, he constituted a high-powered emergency response team, on 7 February
2020, to handle the crisis.

The team, he said, has been monitoring developments and
reporting to him on a daily basis.

He stated that strict checks at Ghana’s entry points are being conducted, with rigorous screening procedures.

Source: www.ghanatalksbusiness.com

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Gross Human Rights violations by government forces and separatist fighters in English-speaking regions sink Cameroon again in State Dept Report
March 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Hundreds of supporters raise their arms and wave the national flag while waiting to greet the Cameroonian opposition leader Maurice Kamto in Yaoundé on Oct. 5, the day of his release from prison. STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images

The United States has chronicled a series of human rights violations committed in Cameroon by both separatist fighters and government security forces in the restive Anglophone regions wrecked by civil protest for four years now.

Numerating the violations in its just released 2019 Human Rights report on Cameroon, the US Department of state observed that “the sociopolitical crisis that began in the Northwest and Southwest Regions in late 2016 over perceived marginalization developed into an armed conflict between government forces and separatist groups.”

The report released Wednesday March 11 states that significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, extrajudicial killings, by security forces, armed Anglophone separatists, and Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa (ISIS-WA) fighters continue to be on the rise.

Blaming security forces for “forced disappearances; torture by security forces and nonstate armed groups; arbitrary detention by security forces and nonstate armed groups; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; political prisoners;” the reports was categorical that significant problems with the independence of the judiciary further compounded the issue with little or no prosecution of perpetuators of such inhumane acts.

As if to applaud the baby steps taken by the government of Cameroon to check the excesses of its security forces the U.S. States Department observed that the failure of the government of Paul Biya to publicly make known the proceedings and punishment spurred some offenders to continually to act with impunity.

Citing instances of Politically Motivated Killings, the report condemned government security forces for indiscriminately executing civilians and suspected separatist fighters in the English-speaking region.

 The brutal killing of a nurse who was on his way to his duty station at the Oku health district in the Northwest Region, and the burning alive of 13 civilians, including seven businesspersons who were returning from a business trip to neighboring Nigeria by government forces was highlighted in this year’s reports.

Anglophone separatists also got called out for their persistent and inhumane attack and killing of members of defense and security forces, as well as civilians considered loyal to the central government.

“For example, during the night of April 23 and the morning of April 24 in Muyuka, Southwest Region, separatist fighters decapitated and dismembered gendarme Adam Assana and scattered his body parts on the highway,” the report cited.

Cases of politically motivated arrest such as that of opposition leader, Maurice Kamto and his supporters and the politically motivated reprisal against individuals located outside the country such as the arrest and repatriation of Ayuk Sisiku and some members of his circle further drowned Cameroon.

Pushing for the Respect for Civil Liberties, including; freedom of expression and the press, internet, the right to peaceful assembly and movement, the annual rights report urged the government to look into the situation of Internally displace persons, IDP, forced out of their homes by the Anglophone crisis and also ensure the protection of refugees.

Regretting the fact that a “number of domestic and international human rights groups investigated and published findings on human rights cases, government officials impeded the effectiveness of many local human rights NGOs by harassing their members, limiting access to prisoners, refusing to share information, and threatening violence against NGO personnel.”

The report also adds that some “human rights defenders and activists received anonymous threats by telephone, text message, and email,” but regrettably, the “government took no action to investigate or prevent such occurrences… at times denied international organization access to the country”.

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The U.S. is wronging Nigeria and the Energy Industry with Travel Ban
March 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Tanzania and Nigeria, particularly, are named by Washington as having failed to meet U.S. security and information sharing standards

By NJ Ayuk*

NJ Ayuk

Including Nigeria in the U.S. travel ban is a political and economical mistake for Trump.

It is difficult to come to terms with the United States’ decision to include Nigeria in the extension he made a few weeks ago to the infamous “Muslim Travel Ban”, which already restricted movements of  people from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Syria and Yemen. Alongside Nigeria, Tanzania, Myanmar, Eritrea, Sudan and Kyrgyzstan were also added to the list of countries with entry restrictions. Effectively, with the struck of a pen, or a whim, President Trump barred a quarter of the 1.2 billion people living in Africa from applying for residence in the United States.

Officially, the extension made to these nations is based on security concerns. Tanzania and Nigeria, particularly, are named by Washington as having failed to meet U.S. security and information sharing standards. Further, Nigeria is singled out for fears that the country harbors terrorists that could pose risks if they entered the U.S.

Much and more of this is difficult to reconcile with the U.S.-Nigeria long-standing allied relations and particularly with recent programs designed to bring the two nations closer together, but before we go there, let’s look at what the reality shows.

Since 1975, not a single incidence of a Nigerian, or for that case Tanzanian or Eritrean, being involved in a terrorist attack on American soil has been recorded. Boko Haram, the extremist group that has terrorized parts of the North of Nigeria (a region from which few migrants come from) in recent years, has never shown any signs of wanting to expand its territory, much less to open remote branches in North America. In fact, the American and Nigerian forces have worked closely together to address that and other challenges, and the Trump administration itself has recognized Nigeria as an “important strategic partner in the global fight against terrorism.”

Further, while Tanzanians and Eritreans have been excluded from what is known as the green card lottery system, Nigerians have been barred from applying for permanent residence visas in the United States. In 2018, 14 thousand such visas were issued to Nigerians, making it by far the most affected by the ban from all the new entrants to the list.

Beyond the sheer pain that fact must cause to the thousands of Nigerian families that have been waiting for years to be reunited in the U.S., from a security point of view, the decision makes no sense. Only permanent visas have been suspended. Tourist and work visas remain as usual. How does barring access to the most strict and difficult to obtain visas but maintaining the less restrictive short-term ones prevent terrorists from entering the U.S.? It is nonsensical. Even the fact that the announcement of the extension was made by the media before these countries’ authorities were even notified is telling of how lacking in protocol the process seems.

The whole thing is perplexing, but beyond the issues of principle, this decision has the potential to hurt the relations between these countries and the U.S., and when it comes to Nigeria, that risks hurting the U.S. too. Afterall, Nigeria, Africa’s biggest economy, is the U.S.’s second biggest trade partner in sub-Saharan Africa, is Nigeria’s second biggest export destination and is its the biggest source of foreign direct investment. American companies have extensive investments particularly in the energy and mining sectors in Nigeria, which risk being affected by a breakdown in bilateral relations. Some companies, like ExxonMobil, have been operating in the country for nearly 70 years, since even before the country became independent from colonial rule, and Chevron has also been an active and central participant in the country’s oil industry for over forty years. Both these companies are partners in Nigeria’s mid and long-term strategies to curb gas flaring, develop a gas economy, expand oil production, improve its infrastructure network, raise its people out of poverty, etc.

Nigeria and the U.S., under a bilateral trade and investment framework agreement, sustain an annual two-way trade of nearly USD$9 billion. When the president of the U.S. makes a decision like this, it can affect the relations the country and these companies uphold with Nigeria. Further, it directly clashes with the U.S.’s strategy to counter Russia’s and China’s growing influence in Africa by expanding its relations with the continent.

How does closing the door to Africa’s biggest powerhouse accomplish that?

The policy established under the 2019 Prosper Africa initiative, that was designed to double two-way trade between the U.S. and Africa, seems difficult to reconcile with this latest decision. Over the last couple of years, president Trump has made several statements, at varying levels of political correctness, about how he would like to restrict immigration to the U.S. to highly-skilled highly educated-workers. If that is one of the reasons behind the inclusion of Nigeria, again, it fails completely.

Nigerians represent the biggest African community in the U.S., numbering around 350 thousand, and one of the communities with the highest level of education in the US globally. According to the American Migration Policy Institute, 59% of Nigerian immigrants have at least a bachelor’s degree. That is higher than the South Korean community (56%), the Chinese community (51%), the British community (50%) or the German community (38%), and it is tremendously higher than the average for American born citizens (33%).

More than 50% of Nigerians working in the U.S. hold white color management positions, meaning they have access to considerable amounts of disposable income and contribute greatly to the American economy. Those are the immigrants the U.S. wants, the ones that built the American dream! Which only makes this decision ever harder to grasp, unless of course, if we consider that this might have nothing to do with security concerns, and all to do with a populist decision designed to please the president’s most conservative support base as we approach the presidential campaign. If that is the case, then American foreign policy has truly reached a dark age.

From his side, President Buhari’s government has done what is possible to appease the situation, setting up a committee to address the security concerns with U.S. officials and INTERPOL, and restating its commitment to “maintaining productive relations with the United States and its international allies especially on matters of global security”, Femi Adesina the Spokesman for the Nigerian Presidency said.

Last week, the Nigerian government requested the U.S. administration to remove the country from the travel ban, and also announced a reduction in visa application fees for visiting Americans from $180 to $160, in a symbolic gesture meant to reinforce relations between the two nations.

In the meantime, Nigeria’s and other economies risk suffering from this unexplainable decision, and immigrant Nigerians in the U.S. that had been waiting so patiently for the dream of being reunited with their families in the “land of the free” await a resolution for a problem they did not know existed until a month ago.

*NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of pan-African corporate law conglomerate Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

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Mozambique: cyclone damage prevents EDM from power new connections
March 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos

Mozambique’s state power company EDM has failed to meet its last year target for new connections to the national grid, largely because the company’s work was dominated by repairing the damage done by Cyclones Idai and Kenneth.

Idai smashed into central Mozambique in mid-March 2019, and in April cyclone Kenneth hit the northern province of Cabo Delgado. One year after the landfall survivors in remain desperate for help and companies still in damage.

The EDM target for 2019 was to connect 300,000 new clients to the grid, but it only proved possible to connect 165,000 – or 55 per cent of the target, Sofala provincial director told Pan African Visions on Wednesday.

He said EDM’s efforts were diverted into rebuilding the transmission lines knocked down by the cyclonic winds and torrential rains. Idai tore through Sofala and Manica provinces, and also much of Zambezia and Tete, and the northern districts of Inhambane. Kenneth devastated parts of coastal Cabo Delgado and Nampula provinces.

He said the destruction was such that in parts of Sofala, particularly the city of Beira, the electricity distribution networks had to be completely rebuilt.

Nonetheless, he was optimistic that this year EDM will meet its targets. It hopes to make 410,000 new connections. 250,000 of these will be to the national grid, while the remaining 160,000 connections will be through isolated systems based on mini-hydro power stations, and solar systems. Most of the new connections will be to consumers in the countryside and in the expansion zones of the main urban centres. To facilitate access to electricity, the government has, as from this year, abolished the fee for new connections. This fee used to be 3,500 meticais (about 54 US d

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The IMF Seal of Approval – Leadership a Key Factor in Advancing Equatorial Guinea
March 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By John Glassey*

If utilized accountably and efficiently, the IMF investment has the potential to help President Obiang Nguema lift Equatorial Guinea to new heights, presenting the country with an opportunity to diversify its economy

For years, many believed that Equatorial Guinea was to forever be a textbook case of an emerging market nation suffering from the resource curse – or, as the BBC had famously put it, “…the paradox of plenty.” This prognosis was further compounded by the oil shock of 2015, which compromised the country’s very foundations.

However, under the stewardship of Equatorial Guinea’s Minister of Economy, Finance and Planning, Cesar Mba Abogo, that mantra might be changing. It appears winds of socio-economic revitalization are in the air as a strong intranational (arguably) life-line has been granted to President Obiang Nguema’s government, with the potential to foment lasting change for generations to come.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is set to allocate to Equatorial Guinea SDR 205.009 million, equivalent to around US$282.8 million and encapsulating approximately 130% of the country’s quota from the Fund. Among other benchmarks, the boost should bolster efficiencies in public finance allocation, enhancing governmental infrastructure and accountability in program delivery, directly supporting the country’s ambitious  ‘Horizonte 2020’ national development agenda, which nobly, according to a recent IMF Press Release, “aims at further reducing macroeconomic imbalances and addressing financial sector vulnerabilities”.

This is cause not just for commendation but for fresh investment intrigue for the intrepid international community, both public actors and those from the private sector. Despite the bevy of natural resources of which Equatorial Guinea is endowed, including  lush flora and diverse fauna coupled with a dedication to preserving security within the only Spanish speaking country on the continent, there has previously been lingering  social protection issues and those of economic diversification. These challenges have hindered ultimately human capital development in the country and the efforts of the Nguema Administration to foster more accountable governance. The about-face witnessed by the Administration in increasing transparency and fighting corruption will aid the nation’s overarching aim to advance; to progress holistically and achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the process.

Indeed if utilized accountably and efficiently, the IMF investment has the potential to lift Equatorial Guinea to new heights, presenting the country with an opportunity to diversify its economy, create new and improved social programs, begin to root out bureaucratic corruption sector on sector and set for the region a replicable benchmark, capable of flagging similar foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities throughout the

Economic Community of Central African States (CEMAC).

I’ve spent decades working with Heads of State in attracting fresh eyes to the value proposition inherent in Africa’s emerging nations, including shrewd investment in its people, its next generation, its brightest and best. Patience has been a virtue here, in winning hearts and minds abroad and shifting often antiquated positions. The IMF is so too playing a waiting game, as indeed only SDR 29.287 million (roughly US$ 40.4 million) is to be released right away. The rest is contingent upon Equatorial Guinea meeting certain standards that are based on semi-annual reviews by the IMF Executive Board, those overseeing this particular Fund-supported program.

Equatorial Guinea must, and I have every assurance will continue to adhere to its recent track record of heightened transparency, stricter adherence to rule of law and improved-upon public financial management, having effectively stepped up its game amidst Africa’s perpetual, near-endemic fight against corruption.

Underneath the shield of Equatorial Guinea’s Coat of Arms is its national motto, ‘Unidad, Paz, Justicia’ or ‘Unity, Peace, Justice’. It’s adherence to the cause has unlocked international trepidation and reinforced the country’s predetermined roadmap and greater potential for prosperity.

This effective head-start is a milestone for Equatorial Guinea, a moment in time when the onus is upon governance to showcase to the world accountability in responsible development while fostering the prerequisite for greater transparency and good governance. 

This could very well be the decade of dynamism in advancing Equatorial Guinea. It is now in their hands to create lasting change.

*John Glassey is the Founder and CEO of AfricanBrains, part of Brains Global  , an organization determined to advance investment in education and promote technological innovations across the African continent. The views expressed are his own.

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