Gambia:Vice President Touray tested Positive for Covid19
July 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Office of the President informs the public that Her Excellency, the Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray has been tested positive for COVID-19. Consequently, the President, Adama Barrow will be on self-isolation with immediate effect for two weeks.
The public is reminded that the Coronavirus is real and exists in The Gambia. The public is advised to properly use face masks, maintain regular hand washing and social distancing in the fight against the virus. Stay at home and stay safe.
* State House Gambia
Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) confirms Chief Executive Officer
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Appointment of Victoria Sabula as its permanent Chief Executive Officer.|
The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) announced today the appointment of Victoria Sabula as its permanent Chief Executive Officer.
It follows her appointment as Interim Chief Executive Officer in August 2019 after serving as AGRA’s General Counsel and Corporation Secretary for five years and previously holding several positions at KCB Bank Group.
Hixonia Nyasulu, Board Chair said:
“On behalf of the Board, I am delighted to confirm that Victoria Sabula has been appointed AECF’s Chief Executive Officer. This decision follows a rigorous recruitment process conducted with an international consulting firm where Victoria rose to the top of a very strong field of candidates.”
“Victoria impressed the board with her strategic vision, depth of management expertise, and proven track record both at AECF as interim CEO, and previously at AGRA and KCB Group.”
Victoria Sabula, Chief Executive Officer of AECF, said:
“I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of AECF after having had the opportunity of leading the organisation as interim CEO for the last year.”
“AECF has remained true to its founding purpose which was to make systems work for the poor in sub-Sahara Africa. AECF remains committed to leaving no one behind and we will continue to push the boundaries, being intentional that our investments present opportunities for women, and truly bring the benefits of private sector to low-income households.”
Prior to joining The AECF, Victoria served as AGRA’s General Counsel and Corporation Secretary providing strategic oversight on legal advisory, compliance, risk management and governance for AGRA’s programmatic activities across sub-Saharan Africa. Starting her career with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group, Victoria is a senior institutional leader with C-Suite experience in both private sector and non-profit sector.
Victoria holds a Bachelor of Law (LLB) Degree from Moi University, a post Graduate Diploma in Law from Kenya School of Law, a diploma in Human Resource Management from Kenya Institute of Management and a Master’s in Business Administration from Nazarene University. In 2015 she was named in the Legal 500’s General Counsel Power List Africa, which recognizes the top 100 corporate counsels in Africa.
The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a non-profit institution that supports early and growth-stage businesses in the agribusiness and renewable energy sectors to reduce poverty, promote resilient communities, and create jobs through private sector investments.
Since 2008, AECF has invested in 268 businesses across sub-Sahara Africa focusing on Agribusiness, Renewable Energy and Climate Technologies. As of 2019, we have impacted more than 17 million lives and created over 12,000 jobs and leveraged over US$ 750 million in matching funds from the private sector. AECF is headquartered in Kenya with offices in Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania.
Africa can tackle medical supply shortages through a regional response
July 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Jennifer Freedman
Africa can position itself strategically and develop a regional response to avoid healthcare product shortages similar to those triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. That’s the main message of Medical Industries in Africa: A Regional Response to Supply Shortages, a new International Trade Centre (ITC) report.
The Covid-19 pandemic has severely burdened the global health system, driving a surge in demand for medical supplies such as masks, gowns and gloves. The World Health Organization warned in early March that international production of such goods – known as personal protective equipment – would have to ramp up by 40% to meet demand.
Africa sources just 8% of its health-related products from African suppliers. But the continent can become competitive in some of these goods while combating the crisis and building its own resilience to future pandemics, the ITC report finds. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement has a key role to play in supporting the regional medical industry, it adds.
“We examine the potential of the African medical supply industry and show how trade can be an important element of the continent’s health response, both in the short and long term,” says Dorothy Tembo, ITC’s ad interim Executive Director. “We suggest a strategic mix of open markets, diversified procurement and stronger regional value chains” to position Africa strategically in the future trade landscape of the global medical industry while safeguarding the health of Africans.
Keeping the regional market open for essential health products is critical, the report says. ITC business surveys on non-tariff measures have found that companies in Africa frequently struggle to import medical supplies because of inspections and customs charges. In addition, tariffs are relatively high: African countries apply a 10.3% average tariff on these items, compared with 7.9% in non-African developing economies and 2.9% in developed countries.
The report urges African governments to review import regulations and consider temporarily lifting tariffs, taxes and other restrictions that hinder access to these goods – especially as the continent has limited sources of such products.
Regional value chains would help diversify global supply
That’s why it’s also important to diversify suppliers, the report notes. Africa imports roughly 90% of its medical products from the European Union, China and India.
The report urges policymakers to consider regional suppliers with export growth potential. Diversifying would reduce the impact of export restrictions on essential goods and make the continent less dependent on just a handful of foreign suppliers. The report identifies Egypt, Ghana and South Africa as viable alternatives for products such as disinfectants and adhesive bandages.
Governments also should help build up Africa’s capacity to produce key medical supplies by developing regional value chains, the report says. Although the continent produces many of the inputs used to manufacture health-related products – such as rubber, fabrics and ethanol – these goods are often exported without any transformation.
Policymakers could support the development of regional value chains by channeling investments into these sectors, the report says. Furthermore, they could leverage negotiations in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to keep trade functioning smoothly along these value chains – for instance, making sure these vital goods trade duty-free within Africa and that other regulations are harmonized.
“Tariff cuts and trade facilitation measures to support the free flow of health products and their ingredients regionally will be an important step in supporting regional value chains in selected medical products,” the report says. “Such measures will help build the continent’s resilience to global health crises and diversify the global supply. It remains important for the AfCFTA negotiations and implementation to prioritize these aspects.”
Kenya:Woman charged will illegal possession of ammunition
July 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
A Kenyan woman has been charged for being in possession of 30 rounds of ammunition.
Appearing before Embu Principal Magistrate Henry Nyakwemba, Loise Muthoni pleaded not guilty claiming the ammunitions belong to his lover who allegedly let them in her house without her knowledge.
She was released on Sh.50, 000 cash bail or Sh.100, 000 bond with a surety of similar amount.
Muthoni’s plea to have her bond terms reduced fell into deaf years after the Magistrate turned down her request.
“You should have investigated the character of your boyfriend before falling in love with him. I can’t reduce the bond because what you are telling the court cannot be ascertained since the dangerous items were allegedly found in your house,” emphasized Nyakwemba.
The suspect was arrested on July 19 in Embu West Sub-County, Eastern of Kenya. The police discovered the bullets wrapped with a magazine in her house.
The case will be heard on August 19, 2020.
Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, ImpactHER and UN Women Policy Brief exposes disadvantages to women entrepreneurs in post COVID-19 era, offers solutions
July 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
Women-led businesses are more vulnerable to closure than those led by men in the era of the novel coronavirus, due to women’s limited access to finance, shifts in consumer behavior, and the increase in women’s household care responsibilities as a result of extended lockdowns.
All across the continent, the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking economic havoc and hitting women the hardest, with women-led Small and Medium-sized Enterprises(SMEs) at greater risk of closure as they tend to be smaller and on average, operate in lower profit margin, service-based industries.
These and other important findings of a new policy brief highlighting policy solutions to support women-led businesses in Africa in a post COVID-19 world, were released during a webinar organized Wednesday 15 July by the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program, working with UN Women(link is external) and ImpactHER(link is external).
“The compilation and analysis of real time data is crucial as Africa responds to the pandemic. The surveying of women-led businesses from across sectors and industries provides opportunity to have targeted interventions aimed at keeping these vital contributors to African economies afloat,” said Esther Dassanou, AFAWA Coordinator.
The brief, titled ‘Transformative policy solutions to support women-led businesses in Africa in a post Covid-19 world,” contained results of an ImpactHER survey of more than 1,300 women-owned SMEs in 30 African countries on the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. Over 200 participants joined in the virtual webinar, which was moderated by UN Women’s Elena Ruiz, Women’s Economic Empowerment Regional Policy Advisor for West and Central Africa.
“The policy brief and the discussion have put on the table strategies that work for women entrepreneurs in the region. We hope this will contribute to make sure that women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses are at the centre of COVID19 recovery plans, and to help governments and other actors build a post-COVID economy that challenges, rather than reproduces, gender inequalities,” Ruiz noted.
Panelists in Wednesday’s seminar were Ada Udechukwu, Head of Women’s Banking at Access Bank, Nigeria; Efe Ukala, Founder of ImpactHer; Sylvia Natukunda, Founder & CEO of yogurt company Farm Reap in Uganda; Kosi Yankey, Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries in Ghana and Dr. Boutheina Ben Yaghlane Ben Slimane, Director General, Caisse of Deposits & Consignments in Tunisia.
They shared perspectives from government, private sector and banking on how women-led businesses in tourism, trade, retail, hospitality, education, personal care and similar sectors have suffered as result of COVID-19, and offered recommendations for immediate, short- and medium-term solutions to mitigate the impact on women-led businesses.
“ImpactHER commissioned the survey to allow it to provide practical solutions to women-led businesses,” Efe Ukala, its founder, said. “So far, ImpactHER has offered resilience training, custom business advisory services including financial forecasting, valuation, company restructuring, rebranding, etc., technology tools such as e-commerce websites which are critical to ensure the viability of women entrepreneurs in a post-COVID era.” ImpactHER has provided such support to over 3,000 women entrepreneurs in over 25 African countries, Ukala noted.
The panelists also showcased solutions in action, such as the African Development Bank’s recent approval of a loan of 264 million euros to help support the Moroccan government to mitigate the health and socio-economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. Parts of these funds will go towards mobilizing financial resources for women-owned enterprises whose cash flow has deteriorated due to declining activity. Through Bank Al-Maghrib, women-owned SMEs will have access to guarantees that cover 95% of the credit amount and enables banks to rapidly put together exceptional overdrafts to finance the target companies’ operating capital needs.
“The fight against the pandemic requires public and private sector involvement to enhance women entrepreneurs’ ability to bounce back from the crisis. Efforts such as the one in Morocco as well as Tunisia and Ghana, should be replicated throughout the continent,” Dassanou said.
The discussions also showed how Coronavirus not only potentially exacerbates already existing inequalities between men and women, but has led to other hurdles for women, including limited access to finance, key networks, information, skills gaps, as well as limited control over assets that they can leverage to obtain financing.
“The AFAWA initiative’s collaboration with UN Women and ImpactHER to provide solutions has great potential to influence policy,” Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, noted.
*To access the policy brief, click here.
Nigerian Actress / Screen Writer Pens Coronavirus hit African lockdown series
June 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
Tunde Aladese is an African film actress and screen writer, she won an Africa Academy Award in 2018, she has recently been a studying BA in Filmmaking at MetFilm School .As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, a popular series called, Shuga went into a mini-series nightly show titled MTV Shuga Alone Together highlighting the problems of Coronavirus on 20 April 2020. Tunde is the screenwriter.
The show was originally to be broadcast for 60 nights, but it’s now been increased to 65 nights and its backers include the United Nations. The series is based in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire and the story is told through with on-line conversations between the main characters. In the Q and A below she discusses the series and her career plans
Do you remember how you fell in love with films and writing? Was there a particular film/ script? Did it make to feel a particular way? Anything growing up that pushed you in this particular direction?
This is a difficult one because it’s never really just one thing. It’s the gradual growth of a lifelong romance. My love for writing started with prose, making sorry imitations of any book I enjoyed in order to somehow prolong the experience that the book had given me. Cinemas weren’t much of a thing in Nigeria at the time when I was growing up but VCR was big business and watching movies was a big family pastime.
It’s hard to pick just one film because the exposure was constant, and the genres were varied. It was the eighties so there was a lot of that B movie style action. Also, a lot of the glam mini-series type content, usually centred around a woman who succeeded against all odds. There was ‘The Sound of Music’ which my siblings and I could quote in its entirety. Arthouse came later, as options widened. I didn’t have a proper understanding of how films came to be for quite a while and a couple of appearances on kids’ variety shows were a surreal experience.
I guess primary school drama club was my first proper sense of trying to create a narrative out of thin air and get other people to help bring it to life. But I can say that I fell in love with the film business, this idea of actors and directors and storytellers on screen after reading biographies of some old Hollywood movie stars between the ages of 10 and 13.
I think that was when I began to understand the process of how all that came to the screen. The possibility of anything like that being a tangible and viable career plan, came much later.
Please expand on the origins of when and why you decided that career in the screen industry was for you.
I’m not quite sure I decided. I think the timing was fortunate for me. My first job after university led to an introduction between my boss and a producer who was about to make a radio drama series for the BBC in Nigeria. My boss showed him some ideas I had put down and I got invited to be part of a writers’ room, something I’d never heard of. I couldn’t believe someone paid me that much money (not a huge amount but at the time I was making almost nothing) to do something I’d been doing for fun all my life. I figured ‘I could get used to this…’ Success was not immediate but over the next couple of years, enough opportunities came my way that when an international cable company became interested in producing Nigerian series, I actually had a little experience under my belt and could pitch myself for some writing opportunities.
Why did you choose Metfilm school? What’s unique about it? What were you experiences there? What were your education experiences beforehand? Where did you grow up and where did you go to college / university… what did you study before?
My first degree was in English Literature, from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. After almost 10 years working professionally as a screenwriter, mostly in television, I wanted new challenges and a wider canvas. I thought learning formally about all aspects of film production would help me with that. Choosing Metfilm was a combination of timing, location (Berlin had been popping up a lot in my timeline in the months preceding), language and investigating their alumni and the things they had gone on to do since leaving the school. It’s a great way to study the European arthouse film aesthetic, which I was very interested in, without having to take the time to learn a whole new language. And because it’s an English speaking school in a very European city, you get to study with students from a wide variety of countries from all over the world.
Tell me about MTV Shuga – how did the project come about about? 60 episodes – it’s quite an ask… how did you manage to complete it?
We’re still trying to! And I’m not going to deny that it is a challenge. I just take it one block at a time, and fortunately I don’t have to do it all on my own. There’s a co-head writer and co-director who alternates blocks with me and of course, the SAF team. I had worked on 2 previous seasons of the series, including one season as Head Writer and had therefore had some contact with some members of the team. They reached out within the first couple of weeks of lockdown in Germany and told me about this idea they were throwing around, and asked whether it was something I would be interested in coming on board for. I’d been sitting home for 2 weeks, reading about everything going on all around the world, from news headlines to social media posts sharing people’s emotions, so I knew as soon as they asked that there was potential here. I didn’t imagine at the time that it would be 65 episodes (yeah, it’s 65 now)! We’re recording 41-50 this week and then my co-head takes over again for the next batch.
What’s the response been like? From the audience and the industry?
To be honest? I don’t know. I usually try to stay away from comments because you get drawn in by the good stuff and then one negative comment and you might spend the rest of the day overthinking. I do understand that reactions and feedback from the first few episodes was quite exciting. It’s been challenging trying to find ways to maintain and increase the momentum and interest. But I did say I was looking for challenges, right?
What are you working on now, what are your plans for the future?
I’m almost done with this season of Shuga and there are a couple of things lined up for me to switch over to from next month. But nothing that I am at liberty to talk about right now.
What advice would you give to anyone thinking about becoming a screen writer / considering a career in the screen industries?
Read a lot of books, watch a lot of movies. Figure out what you like, what excites and moves you and why. And then try to put it into your own work. Write, write, write. Even when you hate it, keep at it. I had a period of about 6 years from secondary school into university where, everything I wrote, I hated soon after. But that made me question why I hated it and what I needed to do differently. The trick is to keep writing so that when an opportunity comes your way, you have something to show of your ability that will make them at least consider you. Don’t wait for someone to find you and make you a writer. And then of course, seek out those opportunities. I know this is a bit glib, and won’t work out for everyone, but it will for some. Oh, and I should mention this magic trick. The first time I went to a writers’ workshop, everyone there introduced themselves as a writer except me. I didn’t think I had the right to claim that about my hobby. The people present in the room made me say it ‘I’m a writer’. When I returned to my life, I started introducing myself that way. And people remembered. And the calls started coming.
How Rwanda is spurring a generation of women in technology
June 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
Rwanda is renowned as a pioneer for gender equality.
In 2020, it was the only African country ranked in the top 10 of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.
It ranked in the top four in the Report’s political empowerment category, in recognition of the high proportion of Rwandese women lawmakers and ministers.
The country therefore seemed a natural fit for a 2018 pilot program of the African Development Bank’s Coding for Employment initiative, with Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.
The Coding for Employment flagship program is establishing 130 ICT centers for excellence in Africa, training 234,000 youths for employability and entrepreneurship to create over 9 million jobs.
Hendrina C. Doroba, Manager in the Education, Human Capital and Employment Division at the Bank, explains how Rwanda is empowering women in technology.
How has the government of Rwanda enabled women to pursue careers in technology, and STEM in general?
The government of Rwanda has been a foremost champion of women in ICT and in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as STEM), by driving initiatives like the establishment of the Carnegie Mellon University-Africa campus, for which the Bank provided funding. Students from 17 different countries pursue highly specialized ICT skills at the Africa campus.
The country also hosts the African Institute of Mathematics (AIMS) which is now recruiting balanced cohorts of women and men. Lastly, the Bank-funded University of Rwanda College of Science and Technology has for many years produced women leaders in the ICT sector in Rwanda and globally.
Rwanda’s government also supports initiatives such as the Miss Geek Rwanda competition, an initiative of Girls in ICT Rwanda, which aims to encourage school-age girls, even those in remote areas, to develop innovative tech or business ideas and to generally immerse themselves in ICT. The Miss Geek initiative has now been rolled out in other countries in the region.
What role has the Bank played in supporting Rwanda’s digital strategy, especially in relation to women?
The strategy of the Bank’s Coding for Employment center of excellence in Rwanda has been to join forces with the Rwanda Coding Academy through a grant agreement to support the school’s activities, like ICT equipment, teacher training and career orientation. The Rwanda Coding Academy started in January 2019 and has so far enrolled one cohort, which is now going into their second year.
Besides the Rwanda Coding Academy, the Bank’s Coding for Employment program held a two-day masterclass for girls and young women entrepreneurs at the 2018 Youth Conneckt summit, where over 200 beneficiaries were trained in using digital tools to amplify their businesses. The session was attended by women entrepreneurs as well as students from girl schools in Kigali, including those from White Dove School, which is an all-girl school fully dedicated to training in ICT. The masterclass culminated into a pitching exercises from various groups who presented their ideas to a panel of judges.
What lessons can other African countries learn from Rwanda’s approach to the 4IR, in particular the role of women?
The government of Rwanda has been a trailblazer in using innovation to improve public services across the country using the e-governance platform Irembo, to bring government services closer to citizens. In addition, the government is driving national digital skilling campaigns by championing digital ambassador programs and platforms such as Smart Africa, which has organized the annual Transform Africa summit since 2013.
Still, gender equality remains a concern, and gender gaps are evident even in schools. Rwanda’s ambitions extend to piloting the Kigali Innovation City, also Bank-funded, to serve as the country’s knowledge and innovation hub by attracting new businesses and incubating ideas. At the same time, the country has created a business environment which is pro-entrepreneurship and welcomes global inventors to test their ideas and concepts. Zipline, a company which uses drones to deliver medical supplies in remote areas, is one example.
Lastly, Rwanda promotes women leaders in the ICT and innovation sector. The country’s Minister of ICT and Innovation is a woman, as is the CEO of the Irembo platform. Appointments such as these are helping to dispel the myth that women are not as capable as men in ICT.
“Times of Unprecedented Crisis present Unique Opportunities for Unprecedented Action”
June 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Graça Machel, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Vera Songwe, Maria Ramos
|We have been presented the opportunity to reimagine and redesign our society into a vibrant and equitable one.|
COVID 19 has unearthed massive inequalities within our societies and brought to glaring light the unique burdens which women carry the world over. Allocation of response resources should be targeted towards the immediate needs of managing the virus as well as future-looking to simultaneously dismantle the structural, systemic barriers which reinforce inequality and disenfranchisement. We have been presented the opportunity to reimagine and redesign our society into a vibrant and equitable one. We must place women and women’s leadership at the core of the response and beyond.
COVID-19 has caused massive shocks to both the informal and formal economies in Africa. World Bank estimates that the Sub-Saharan Africa region will see significant economic decline, and plunge to as low as -5.1% this year.
Women have been hit particularly hard by this economic downturn. Emerging evidence from the ILO on the impact of COVID-19 suggests that women’s economic and productive lives will be affected disproportionately. They have less access to social protections and their capacity to absorb economic shocks is very low.
As the economic toll of the crisis is felt, there is also an increased risk that female children will be forced into early marriages, and the number of child marriages and early pregnancy may increase as girls are turned into a source of quick income for families.
Given these shocks to society at large, it is no surprise that our food systems will be dealt a significant blow resulting in the dangerous exacerbation of food insecurity and nearly doubling current levels of widespread hunger.
COVID 19 has disrupted supply chains and thrown the global food economy into disarray. As border closures, production stoppages, and export restrictions limit supply, demand has surged, inflating prices and impacting the world’s poorest and most marginalized people, and Africa is no exception.
Women are central players in the food chain and key to agricultural output on the continent. 50% of the agricultural activity on the continent performed by women, who produce about 60-70% of the food in Sub Saharan Africa.
Studies reveal that the cost of malnutrition has a tremendous impact on a country’s economic growth. A lack of adequate nutrition is a key contributor to unacceptably high levels of both maternal and child mortality as well as stunting– and therefore to the loss of human capital for the overall economic, social and political development of the continent.
The fragility of African health systems is revealing itself and women and children are most vulnerable to the lack of attention and adequate specialized services the diversion COVID 19 is causing resulting in an anticipated surge in child and maternal mortality.
Domestic violence has increased by upwards of 25% in some countries as a result of lockdowns. Victims face limited access to protective services during periods of quarantine.
A Call to Bold Action:
All Responses Must Take into Account Gendered Impacts of COVID and Be Informed by the Voices of Women: Women and women’s organizations should be at the heart of the COVID-19 response decision making and designing health and socio-economic policies and plans. An intentional focus on the lives and futures of women and girls is an essential part of breaking structural practices which have been marginalizing them. A system for collecting and disaggregating data needs to be put in place to ensure that the impact of the crisis on women is informing the redesign of fragile and inequitable socio-economic and health systems into fully inclusive, equitable ones.
Government and Development Partners Must Implement Gender Lens Economic Policies and Sharpen the Capacity of Women as Engines of Economic Growth: Give women and female businesses direct access credit, loans, tax and social security payment deferrals and exemptions, and preferential procurement. Structural barriers to access to finance, inheritance, and land rights must be removed. Create and support the enabling environment for ICT infrastructure so rural and urban women are able to contribute to the digital economy and access online platforms to facilitate e-commerce and e-health/education/social exchanges.
Invest in Women Along the Local Food Chains to Improve Food Security: Response resources should target female SMMEs and rural women associations to increase productivity in both formal and informal economies, eradicate hunger and malnutrition. Boost local food production and confront head on the indignity of Africa importing its food. Food security is a fundamental investment in the building of healthy societies.
Recognize and Implement Equal Rights in the Workplace: Provide equal pay for equal work.
Narrow Gender-based Education Gaps: Build ICT infrastructure for online learning to bridge the inequality divide and retrain teachers on virtual curriculum so every African child, especially the girl child, has access to quality education. Efforts to protect girls from child marriage and early pregnancy, and provision of safety net resources for households to keep girls in school are also needed.
Strengthen Health Systems, Gradually Implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Provide Mental Health Services needed as key strategies to the improvement of health systems and citizen wellbeing.
Comprehensively Strengthen the Criminal Justice System and Increase Efforts Around Survivor Support and Protection: Prevention/protection efforts must be deemed as essential services and intentional mass media efforts to spur a fundamental change of mindset whereby GBV is rejected and deemed socially unacceptable and intolerable.
COVID-19 presents us with unprecedented opportunities for the regeneration of the African socio-economic landscape and the movement towards a just, equitable and sustainably prosperous continent. Let us dare not squander this opportunity for a rebirth.
Mrs Graça Machel
Founder, Graça Machel Trust and the Foundation for Community Development
Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Board Chair, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, AU Special Envoy to Mobilize International Economic Support for the Fight Against COVID-19, Former Finance Minister, Nigeria
Dr Vera Songwe
Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
Ms Maria Ramos
Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the Sustainable Development Goals and former Chief Executive Officer of Absa Group Limited
*SOURCE .Graça Machel Trust (GMT)
How You Can Benefit from Cameroon’s Tax and Fiscal Incentives in Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic?
June 15, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Achare Takor*
In response the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Cameroon decided on a number of fiscal measures to support Cameroonian businesses and households.
It comes as no surprise that challenges of the Covid-19 crisis are felt harder in the developing world, where reliance on tax revenue from large taxpayers is higher than that of most advanced economies. As a result, developing countries will require more support, especially financial, to help their health and fiscal systems withstand the current shocks. In response the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government of Cameroon decided on a number of fiscal measures to support Cameroonian businesses and households. Amongst these are the easing of tax burdens, and broad support for businesses and individuals with cash flow problems, difficulties in meeting tax reporting or payment obligations, or otherwise facing hardship.
These courses of action are focused on the collection of direct and indirect taxes, the extension of deadlines for filing tax returns without generating interest or penalties, or the suspension of tax prepayments. They mostly apply to corporate and individual income and withholding tax returns, periodic VAT returns or social security contributions, and, to a lesser extent, to customs or stamp and excise duties.
The government has tried to resolve these issues by providing these tax and customs measures below:
I. Suspension of accounting verifications for the second quarter of 2020
The government has taken the decision to suspend all General Accounting Audits for Q2 2020. The only caveat for this are cases where there is a suspicion of tax evasion or fraud. In order for this measure to be accurately implemented, the procedures regarding the scope of suspension and the exceptions are explained in the subsequent paragraphs.
The suspension of tax audits applies to the accounting verifications provided for in Article LII of the General Tax Code and in general, to all on-site interventions within the company. This applies to spot checks, unannounced checks, the right of investigation, the right to physically establish stocks and the right of inspection is also applicable to regularisation procedures carried out from office, such as those of the pre-filled declaration and the compliance dialogue, are thereby still authorised.
a. Scope of Suspension
The suspension of accounting audits covers the second quarter of fiscal year 2020, which is the period from April 1st to June 30th, 2020. During this period, no general or partial verification of the accounts and in general, no on-the-spot intervention shall be undertaken, all ongoing control procedures shall equally be suspended. This suspension of accounting verifications and on-the-spot interventions are granted to both the administration and taxpayers. However, it should be noted that the suspension does not apply in a case where the work in the business is completed and the tax payer has made his comments already, following the notification of adjustments. In a case like this, the services are entitled to notify any taxes that may be recalled.
b. Exceptions to the Suspension of on-site interventions
- The suspension of general audit or other on-the-spot checks shall not apply where there is suspicious behaviour displayed by the taxpayer. This includes any behaviour giving rise to a presumption of fraudulent practice aimed at evading payment of tax or reducing the amount of tax;
- Regarding the validation of VAT credits, in particular in cases which require prior general checks, in accordance with the provisions of Article 149a of the General Tax Code, or when the business so requests.
- For interventions carried out at the taxpayer’s request, the taxpayer must guarantee compliance with the barrier measures necessary to protect all participants in the procedure.
II. Extension of the deadline for filing statistical and fiscal declarations without penalties in case of payment of the corresponding balance.
The deadline for the filing of Annual Statistical Returns (DSF) at the taxpayer’s request may be extended without giving rise to any assessment. However, and looking at it critically, the application of this measure at an earlier time would have proven more impactful as companies in Cameroon were already immersed under the pressure of the COVID-19 pandemic. This had an adverse effect on their business and subsequently their treasuries.
There are some limitations as to those who can benefit from this measure. For instance, the requested deferral cannot be extended beyond the end of the second quarter of fiscal 2020, which is June 30th, 2020.The benefit of the penalty exemption is subject to the payment of the balance of corporate income tax (CIT) on March 15th, 2020. Consequently, in the event of the non-payment of the balance of corporate income tax by March 15th 2020, the services apply the fine for late filing of the Annual Statistical Return (DSF) provided for in article L99 of the GTC. The fine imposed on a taxpayer who has paid the balance of the tax due on March 15th, 2020, for the filing the Annual Statistical Report (DSF) after the deadline is simply cancelled. In the event that the notified has already been paid, a tax credit to the amount of the fine is recorded in his favour. This in be carried forward to its subsequent payments.
III. Suspension of the application of recovery measures for companies directly affected by the crisis.
Companies directly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic can benefit from tax deferrals and moratoria upon request. This measure is applicable to the following companies:
- Subject to the ordinary law moratorium provided for in Article L141 of the GTC, only undertakings in the sectors directly affected will benefit from the deferrals and moratoria due to Covid-19.
- The sectors directly affected include tourism (hotels, travel and accommodation agencies), transport and related activities.
Applications for moratoria submitted by undertakings affected by the crisis, although not falling within the aforementioned sectors, are assessed on a case-by-case basis. To add to that, the period of deferral or moratorium on payments to companies directly affected by the Covid-19 crisis is defined on a case-by-case basis.
The moratorium granted to companies affected by the crisis entitles them to the issue of a certificate of non-indebtedness (Attestation de Non Redevance) valid for one month, in accordance with the provisions of Article L94 of the Book of Tax Procedures.
Non-compliance with a payment deadline shall automatically render the moratorium or deferral null and void and shall result in the immediate reactivation of the collection measures forced by the tax collector.
Methods of Implementation
To benefit from the moratorium or a deferment of payment, an application must be made to the Director General of Taxes. These applications must comply with the conditions as stipulated in the circular No. 20/169/CF specifying the modalities of application of the fiscal measures to respond to Covid-19.
Companies must provide supporting evidence of the impact of the health crisis on the company’s financial situation, where the company does not fall within the above-mentioned sectors. Requests for a moratorium or deferment shall be processed within 72 hours, except where it requires a prior working session
IV. Support to enterprises’ cash flow through the special allocation of FCFA 25bn, for the clearance of stocks of tax credits on the Value Added Tax awaiting reimbursement
In order to support companies’ cash flow, a special fund of FCFA25bn is allocated to the reimbursement of VAT credits.
It should be noted that the competent services of the Directorate General of Taxes shall take the necessary steps to credit up to this amount to the escrow account dedicated to the reimbursement of VAT credits housed at the Central Bank (BEAC).
In addition, the operational tax departments will have to speed up the validation controls of those VAT credits that are still at their level and ensure that the corresponding files are forwarded to the division in charge of litigation at the General Tax Department for further processing
The question this poses is whether the special fund of 25bn will suffice to cover all the taxpayers who have stocks of VAT credit and are awaiting reimbursement.
The Director of Taxes of Taxes in an interview by a prominent local newspaper (Cameroon Tribune) noted that the difficulty is that there was a stock of VAT credits accumulated before the recent reforms; stock valued at approximately 25bn in mid-May. However, in the case where this does not suffice to cover all the taxpayers who have stocks of VAT credit awaiting reimbursement, hopefully further measures will be taken to this effect.
V. Postponement of the Property Tax deadline for the 2020 fiscal year to September 30th, 2020
The deadline for payment of the property tax which is usually set at June 30th each fiscal year, as stipulated by article 579(1) of the GTC, is extended to September 30th, 2020.
Notwithstanding the postponement of the due date of the Property Tax, the distribution of pre-completed returns serving as a medium for payment of this tax will be able to begin as early as this month of June. The terms and conditions for the issue and payment of this tax remain unchanged
VI. Full deductibility of donations and gifts on the Corporate Income Tax (CIT) for companies who donate against Covid-19
The aim of this measure is to encourage companies to support in the fight against Covid-19 in Cameroon and give them the possibility to benefit from full deductibility of these expenses on their Corporate Income Tax.
Donations and gifts granted to the state or its branches within the framework of the fight against Covid-19 are fully deductible without any limitations. With regard to donations made to other organisations, their deductibility remains governed by the provisions of Article A-5 of the General Tax Code. This measure will be taken will be taken into account in the annual declarations of company results.
VII. Exemption from Hotel Tax for the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year
Accommodation establishments, whether classified or not, are exempt from hotel tax for the last three quarters of the 2020 financial year. Accommodation establishments, which are legally liable for this tax, no longer have to include the said tax in the invoices sent to their customers for the period in question.
This measure is applicable to the hotel tax due from March 1st 2020 until the end of the financial year 2020. In the case where it was previously collected from March 1st, it must be reimbursed and remains definitively acquired by the treasury insofar as it is a consumption tax which is borne by the customer. The implementation of this measure is immediate. It will be subject to subsequent regularization by ordinance or in the finance law.
We will finally note the following additional and custom measures:
- Exemption from Custom duties on all acquisitions of equipment, consumables and provision of services linked to the fight against Covid-19;
- Benefit from direct pickup, hoist pickup or pre-arrival declaration procedures for relief or humanitarian shipments ;
- Reduction of the requirement of certain commercial documents and procedures;
- RVC exemption;
- Acceptance of the documentation transmitted electronically (copies) in place of the originals subject to regularization if necessary;
- Acceptance of electronic invoices;
- Acceptance of copies of EUR1 movement certificate for the application of EPA tariff preferences;
- Acceptance of the system receipt in place of the original signed by the recipient subject to regularization;
- Suspension of the collection of interest for late payment of customs duties and taxes. Suspension for the period of three months of the payment of parking and demurrage charges in the Douala and Kribi ports for essential goods;
What impact will these measures have?
One issue that these measures will most likely bring about is how it will impact the state treasury. The need of the moment, unlike other distressing economic situations, is to rather have a more short/medium term focus than long-term one. The idea is to contain the economy and protect its people and their interests, by cohesively adopting such fiscal measures that support trade and industry, and ensure economic stability.
Now, the concern is that the interpretation and enforcement of these new measures could easily be the subject of controversy, and this may be rendered more challenging by the fact that some of the provisions of the General Tax Code are not exactly straightforward.
Will Cameroonian authorities maintain the kind of flexible approach which allowed the creation of the legal and operational conditions required for the successful implementation of these tax measures? And will they be willing to accommodate specific project needs with the passing of these tax measures? These questions will be answered soon enough, but there are reasons for a substantial amount of optimism.
Vice-President Jennifer Blanke bids farewell to the African Development Bank
June 11, 2020 | 0 Comments
Blanke joined the Bank in early 2017 and has overseen a number of the Bank’s key programs
The African Development Bank has announced that Dr. Jennifer Blanke, Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, will be leaving the Bank effective July 4, 2020.
Blanke joined the Bank in early 2017 and has overseen a number of the Bank’s key programs.
“I thank President Akinwumi Adesina for his strong leadership, guidance and support which have undoubtedly motivated and helped my team and I to play a key role in the transformation of the Bank. I feel privileged to have been given an opportunity to contribute to the Bank’s agenda for accelerating Africa’s social and economic transformation,” Blanke said.
The outgoing Vice-President added, “I am leaving purely for family reasons to rejoin my family in Switzerland, after a very fulfilling time at the Bank. I will miss the Bank and the excellent team we have built. I will continue to strongly support the Bank from wherever I am.”
Bank President Akinwumi Adesina said: “I have been delighted to work with Dr. Jennifer Blanke over the past three and a half years. She has demonstrated genuine leadership skills and moved the needles on so many fronts, especially in the areas of food security, women’s financial empowerment, and job creation. I wish her all the best and look forward to continued partnerships and engagement with Jennifer.”
Merck Foundation together with 18 African First Ladies respond to the Coronavirus pandemic in four main areas
June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Merck Foundation has partnered with the African First Ladies to support livelihood of thousands of women and families of casual and daily workers|
Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany has raced to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic in partnership with 18 African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information and Education focusing on four main areas:
Community Support: Merck Foundation partners with African First Ladies to support livelihood of thousands of women and casual workers affected by Coronavirus lockdown.
Healthcare Capacity Building: Merck Foundation started Coronavirus healthcare capacity building by providing online one-year diplomas and two-year master’s degree in Respiratory Medicines and Acute Medicines for African Doctors
Community Awareness through media Awards: Merck Foundation announced, ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards in Africa, Middle East, Asia & Latin America to raise awareness about Coronavirus.
Community awareness for Children and Youth: Merck Foundation launched an inspiring storybook ‘Making the Right Choice’ in partnership with African First Ladies to sensitize children and youth about Coronavirus
Merck Foundation has partnered with the African First Ladies of Liberia, Ghana, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Niger, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Burkina Faso to support livelihood of thousands of women and families of casual and daily workers who are most affected by the Coronavirus (COVID -19) lockdown. The relief contribution was also undertaken in Egypt with the aim to support 500 families.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explained, “Lockdown imposed in most countries has hit the daily workers and women the most, making it very difficult for them to survive. Therefore, Merck Foundation decided to partner with the African First Ladies to support up to 1000 women and casual workers families in each country, with the aim to save their livelihood as part of “Separated but Connected” Merck Foundation Initiative”.
Speaking of women being impacted by the lockdown, Dr. Rasha Kelej explained, “I am sad to know that the pandemic has led to a horrifying increase in violence against women. The confinement at home with an abusive partner has resulted in not only physical violence but also emotional violence against women which can have disastrous consequences for their health and well-being. Therefore, we decided to focus on supporting women in our coronavirus community intervention and strongly continue empowering infertile and childless women as part of our signature campaign ‘Merck More than a Mother’. We know they now need our support more than ever.”
“We strongly believe that building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare specially during this vicious pandemic.” Dr. Kelej added.
Therefore, Merck Foundation will strongly continue their current capacity advancement programs and will specially focus on building Coronavirus healthcare capacity through providing African and Asian medical postgraduates with one-year online diploma and two-year online Master degree in both of Respiratory Medicines and Acute Medicines at one of the UK Universities. This program is in partnership with African First Ladies, Ministers of Health and Academia across the two continents.
As part of their strategy of responding to coronavirus lockdown, Merck Foundation scaled up to more African and Asian medical postgraduates to provide online medical specialization scholarships.
During this lockdown, Merck Foundation will focus more on these online scholarships which will be for one-year diploma and two year master degree in several specialties such as: Diabetes, Cardiovascular Preventive Medicines, Endocrinology and Sexual and Reproductive Medicines.
To apply for these scholarships, please email us on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Merck Foundation has also launched ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards in partnership with African First Ladies of African First Ladies of Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Burundi, Central African Republic (C.A.R.), Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, The Gambia, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville, Angola, Mali, Mozambique for English, French, Portuguese and Arabic Speaking African countries. The awards have been also announced for Middle Eastern, Asian countries and in Spanish for Latin American Countries. The theme of the awards is ‘Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe and Keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown with the aim to separate facts from myths and misconceptions’ to apply for these awards email: email@example.com
Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “We strongly believe that media plays a critical role in raising awareness about sensitive and pressing issues such as Coronavirus. I am looking forward to receive the creative and informative work of our winners so that they become Merck Foundation health champions in their countries.”
Merck Foundation has also launched an inspiring storybook called ‘Making the Right Choice’ in partnership with 18 African First Ladies. The story aims to raise awareness about coronavirus prevention amongst children and youth as it provides facts about the pandemic and how to stay safe and healthy during the outbreak. It also promotes honesty, hard-work and the ability to make the right choices even during the most challenging times. The story released in three languages: English, French and Portuguese. To read the storybook please click on below links:
About Merck Oncology Fellowship and Master Degree Program:
A part of Merck Cancer Access, the program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of Oncologists in Africa. Oncology Fellowship Program of one year, one and half years, two years in India, Malaysia, Kenya and Master Degree in Medical Oncology for three years in Egypt in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.
Launched in 2016, over 80 candidates from more than 26 African countries have been enrolled in the Merck Oncology Fellowship Program. The program will continue to build cancer care capability in African countries such as Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia & Zimbabwe.
About Merck Fertility & Embryology Training Program:
Merck Fertility & Embryology Training Program was launched in 2016 as part of Merck More Than a Mother. Under this program, Merck Foundation has been providing hands-on practical training to candidates from Africa and Asia, in partnership with the Indonesian Reproductive Science Institute (IRSI), Indonesia; International Institute for Training and Research in Reproductive Health (IIRRH), India; Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), India and Indira IVF Hospitals, India.
Through this program, Merck Foundation is making history in many African and Asian countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda. So far, Merck Foundation has provided for more than 180+ candidates, clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 35 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, CAR, Cote D’IVOIRE, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malaysia, Liberia, Mali, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Niger, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, The Gambia, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia & Zimbabwe.
About Merck Diabetes Blue Points Project:
Merck Diabetes Blue Points Project in partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health and Academia to help improve access to equitable and quality diabetes care nationwide in African countries. Candidates from different provinces, countries or districts of the respective countries are provided with one-year Online Postgraduate Diabetes Diploma in English for English Speaking countries, or an Online Mastercourse on Clinical Management of Diabetes in French and Portuguese for 3 months duration, for French and Portuguese speaking countries respectively, ensuring geographical coverage of the whole country to help improve the landscape of diabetes care in Africa.
About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please visit www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com); Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , YouTube (bit.ly/2E05GVg) and Flicker
Merck (www.MerckGroup.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 52,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions.
Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma.
*SOURCE Merck Foundation
African Network of Germany Frowns at Anti-Black Racism
June 7, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
The African Network of Germany (TANG) has strongly condemn Anti-Black racism and urged federal government to act quickly to eradicate the menance.
TANG is currently carrying out a campaign against anti-Black racism on social media. The organisation explains in this press statement why Germany must act decisively now against discrimination against people of African descent in the country
Following the death of the African-American George Floyd after a brutal police operation in Minneapolis on 25 May, the world currently focuses its attention on racism in the United States. But there is also racism against Black people in Germany.
This is indicated by the action #beiunsauch, a campaign on social media initiated by The African Network of Germany e.V. (TANG) in collaboration with the Turkish Community of Germany (Türkische Gemeinde Deutschland or TGD), Each One Teach One (EOTO eV), the Federation of Immigrant Associations (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Immigrantenverbände or BAGIV), the educational initiative German Dream, the Kurdish community of Germany and more than 120 other migrant organisations.
Together they call on the federal government to focus on racism against Black people and to finally fight it decisively.
Dr Sylvie Nantcha, President of TANG calls on the federal government to fight racism against people of African descent in Germany decisively. One hundred personalities in the Black community have already posted their statements on #beiunsauch.
“For example, the federal government does not mention racism against Black people in Germany in its recent 22-page report on the work of the Cabinet Committee against Right-Wing Extremism and Racism,” criticises Sylvie Nantcha, President of TANG.
When the “UN Decade for People of African Descent” was mentioned in the same paper, the term “People of African Descent” was simply omitted.
“More than 1 million people of African descent live in Germany. As a visible minority, Black people are particularly exposed to racism. They experience racial profiling, they find it difficult to find a place to live and work, are disadvantaged in schools and ignored by political decision makers,” says Dr Nantcha, describing the everyday experiences of racism in Germany.
The representative study “Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey” by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights of 2017 shows that 14 percent of Black people in Germany have experienced racial profiling in the previous five years.
“Black people also experience multiple discrimination in Germany. This issue must finally be taken seriously. We must continue to fight Martin Luther King’s fight until his dream becomes a reality worldwide! I have a dream!”
One hundred personalities of the Black community have already posted their statements on #beiunsauch.
“Anti-Black racism must also be named and fought in Germany,” writes Aminata Touré, vice president of the state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein, for example.
Numerous migrant associations support the campaign. “We can’t just look at the United States when it comes to racism. Racist police violence towards people of colour, especially Black people of colour, and racial profiling are also part of the everyday life of Black people in Germany,” says Göcay Gökay Sofuoglu, President of the Turkish Community of Germany (TGD).
“Anyone who ‘only’ criticizes racism against Blacks in other countries but remains silent about racism against Blacks here is lying. Racism against Blacks within immigrant communities must also be relentlessly named and fought by us,” says Ali Ertan Toprak, President of the Federation of Immigrant Associations (BAGIV).
Under the hashtag #auchbeiuns, the associations and groups call on their members to describe their racist experiences in Germany on social media. This call was viewed by more than 48,000 people in one day.
With more than 800 member associations and individual members, TANG is the largest federal network of African associations in Germany. TANG informs, advises, strengthens and networks African associations so that they can develop their full potential for shaping the future of our society.
The focus of TANG’s work is to help shape German integration and Africa policy through participation in expert forums and discussion platforms such as the Forum against Racism or the review of the National Action Plan for Integration. TANG also carries out numerous projects with the support of the federal ministries.