EAST AFRICA SHOWS OFF JOURNALISM PROWRESS AS SIXTH BBC WORLD NEWS KOMLA DUMOR AWARD IS AWARDED TO KENYAN
September 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
Today, the BBC announced that Kenyan TV presenter, Victoria Rubadiri, has been awarded the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award. She is the sixth winner of the award, following in the footsteps of Solomon Serwanjja, Waihiga Mwaura, Amina Yuguda, Didi Akinyelure and Nancy Kacungira. Victoria is the fourth East African, and second Kenyan, to win the award.
Victoria is a features reporter and news anchor with Citizen TV in Kenya where she hosts the channel’s prime-time news. A well-rounded, multifaceted journalist in East Africa, she has interviewed some of the leading names in politics and current affairs, including UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohamed and former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Victoria will begin her three month placement at the BBC by attending a training course with the BBC Academy before joining BBC News teams – across TV, radio and online – which will provide her with the opportunity to gain skills and experience across BBC News platforms.
Following the training and placements in Nairobi, Victoria will work alongside a top BBC producer, to report on a story for a global audience. The story will then be broadcast on BBC platforms, which reaches audiences of 426 million across the world each week.
Victoria said, “Komla was a well-rounded journalist whose style, though authoritative, was also compassionate, empathetic and uplifting. His ability to give the facts comprehensively, and yet still be attuned to his audience, was something I admired and a skill I seek to emulate. The media industry in Africa is growing, with a plethora of content providers and changing consumption trends, and the complexities of reaching audiences in a meaningful way has also evolved. I am excited at the prospect of learning new skills at the BBC to be able to connect with audiences locally, regionally and internationally, no matter on which platform the story is being told.”
Victoria impressed judges with her eloquence and passion for telling African stories on both traditional media platforms and social media. Her passion for connecting with audiences on a myriad of platforms had led to over half a million followers on her social media accounts, and she continues to pursue this engagement on social media. Through her storytelling, Victoria has brought people’s extraordinary experiences to life, a key journalistic trait that resonates with the BBC’s global audiences.
Jamie Angus, Director of BBC World Service Group, said, “We’re delighted to have Victoria on board to bring her insights and passion to the BBC. There’s never been a more significant time for our global audiences to hear grassroots stories from Africa, and it’s really important that we tell these stories with integrity and authenticity. Komla had the incredible ability to give stories from the continent global resonance, and also deliver it with familiarity and understanding. We’re looking forward to seeing Victoria embody that by bringing her perspectives to life.”
The award was set up in honour of presenter Komla Dumor, who died in January 2014, and aims to continue Komla’s legacy by celebrating African journalism and finding exceptional talent. The judging panel included Sam Taylor, Head of Live and Breaking News at the BBC; Miriam Quansah, Assistant Digital Editor at BBC Africa; and award-winning Nigerian journalist, Idris Akinbajo of the Premium Times.
Victoria will be interviewed on Focus on Africa on Tuesday 1st September at 1730 GMT, BBC World News (DStv 400).
For more information go to bbc.com/komladumor
Covid-19 Pandemic Reversing Humanitarian Gains of African Women and Children
August 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Nevson Mpofu
The Global up-surge of Covid-19 leaves sad stories told on the side of women and children now facing the social and economic injustices. These according to ZIMCODD [ Zimbabwe Coalition On Debt And Development ] Report posted to Media leaves gaps currently created beyond repair by covid-19 if stronger Global solutions at country levels are not put practically in place.
The Report plunges on issues of good governance, transparency and accountability exercise to be raised on the sidelines of equitable gender 6mainstreaming, equity and equality. Gender justice woven by equality and equity in women during this pathetic era empathy women and children at most for their survival in alleviation of poverty and vulnerability.
However, despite the concerted effort put across by women and children organizations, much that flows carried on by covid-19 effects erodes on women and children’s rights more imp actively. These are on the edges of poverty and vulnerability. Earlier on during the 21 days of lockdown, bevy of women like Virginia Muwanigwa , Director of Gender Commission Zimbabwe and Fiona Magaya of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union among others on the fore-front reiterated on the increase of gender based violence , gender- in-justice and lack of equality exposed to affect women ..
‘’During this time of covid-19, women remain impacted by gender-based violence which has been exacerbated by the pandemic world-wide. The erosion of family income exposes women to violence. This comes with divorces, separations. Poverty is likely to increase, vulnerability affecting women and children if immediate action is not taken.’’
Fiona Magaya adds that women have at most become discriminated, this widening the gap of gender inequality in families already hard hit by poverty. We have to take collective action to fight these in-equalities at family and community levels. Reducing inequalities is vital and critical as we move on towards the inside of this pandemic.
These in-equalities have increased in many African countries. Women are facing all forms of abuses ranging from physical, economic, social and intense domestic violence. Cases have grown in number in countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and a few I have to confirm with. A number of women have as well moved out of marriage, go away with children whom they care for without maintenance or any support in terms of food.
In-equalities are driven by culture, tradition and African customs. There are other issues of concern like Patriarchy , meliorism and male domination. This has prevailed for long in Africa, especially South of the Sahara in countries with strong African customs like Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, Lesotho, Swathini and South Africa. In-Equalities increase as well fueled by modernism, industrialization and Globalization.
‘’Because of inequalities there rises wide gaps of discrimination in women. Poverty increase opens way for violence in marital relations. This leads to further gender in-justice which results in women and children marginalization. We stand by women at this hour in time using several International protocols like the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women [CEDAW] , laws and policies at regional and national levels .’’
The report from ZIMCODD further states that women are on the frontlines of Health provision. This means they take care of family members, children and themselves. . Vulnerability comes with the role they take to provide health services. As they strive to bring sanity at homes and in communities, family incomes are eroded, creating chances of gender-based violence, gender injustice, inequity and in equality due to low levels or not at all of the flow of gender mainstreaming. Taking a voice high pitched up in response, a nurse by profession at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals Clara Nyoni said women provide the most health services. she hits up the subject,
‘’Women are on the frontline in terms of health service provision to populations. It is therefore imperative to hold Public Health and Population Health accountable above all Community Health at community, family and national levels. Therefore, Primary Health Care is vital now. There is no doubt women do all the work right like now. Most of our patients are women vulnerable due to covid-19. There is less doubt to say.’’ she poses.
World Health Organization reports that from 8 June 2020 187,875 cases of corona had been documented in 54 countries of the African Region. This means strong commitments in Health budgets at Global, regional and country levels.
A Child Rights Activist and Expert in Children humanitarian well-fare, Father Reverend Nyanhete has ideas that Governments working with Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, churches and Chiefs must take time to look at issues of our past culture and tradition. He says if covid-19 is left alone to affect children, then the Convention on Children’s Rights is then not respected because past practices will turn evil to humanity.
‘’remember children have been victims of our African values, culture, customs and tradition. As long we forget these in this era we hurt and shoot ourselves in the foot. We need to push Governments to re-look at the customs and see to it that we are not being found un-aware by issues that have long time back reversed gains.’’
‘’Cultural and customary marriages have done the worst on the girl child. Girls used to be married to older man under betrothment, a custom that undermines the right of the girl child further with education. Girls are now given house hold chores at home since they have nothing to do. They are not in school. Most of their time is being at home. They are chances of them taken for a ride by men, sexually abused, economically strained they turn to prostitution under these hard times ‘’
Speaking on the same line of though, Sally Dura of Zimbabwe Women Coalition said women are facing gender-based violence that was no-more in African countries but now it is almost back because of the pandemic we have. She added that unless countries in Africa take holistic measures as fast there are thorny new emerging issues.
‘’Gender-Based -Violence has increased during covid-19 meaning to say, women are being sexually, economically and physically abused at the expense of children whom they take care of. What do you think happens? There are huge implications, divorce, separations, child poverty increase, vulnerability, increase in theft, deviant behavior and emerging health issues related to food-insecurity comes with malnutrition’’.
‘’There are growing cases of early marriages as well with the girl-child a past occurrence that we start to experience in the shadow of the disease. Women are turned into more growing poverty. This is true that children are affected as well. ‘’
With the voice for children more at cost of the gained now reversed gains, Pascal Masocha another Child-Rights activist notes with deep sorrow on the increase in Child Labour and prodigy on many farms in Zimbabwe. The Increase is almost rising to 30% a figure which tells more to be done.
‘’The increase of child-labour has increased almost 30% high since the end of last year, worse now with covi-19 issues making children lose on education. Families are unable to cope up with food security, a scenario that throws children into child-labour ‘’
‘’Organizations are not in full swing at work fearing for their lives because corona stigma and discrimination is growing as well. It means then there are some children somewhere under child-lab our, prodigy, where-by they carry heavy loads at the expense of their weight, energy and bodies ‘’
A Health Expert in Nutrition working with ZICOSUNA [ Zimbabwe Civil Society Organizations Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance] Kudakwashe Zombe recommends Governments to increase budgets in Health provision at this point in time. Besides, Infrastructural development helps countries prevent covid-19. He advises countries to follow up on the World Organization guidelines so as to meet Global standards. He concludes by making a point on the Abuja Declaration
‘’The Abuja Declaration recommends countries to make effort to come up with 15% amount of budget so as to fight this pandemic. It means then countries need to increase their budgets in covid-19, increase nutrition levels of finance flows so as well to curb malnutrition. This is enshrined in Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights’’
‘’In order to reduce in-equalities during this time Investments in Health reduces challenges faced by women and children. During this Health crisis nutrition levels decrease. This is a bite of poverty and vulnerability on women and children. Gender injustice follows with impacts on women themselves’’.
A Legislator Dubangani Mpofu standing for Zvishabane- Runde Constituency says there is need to lift people out of poverty by addressing social -economic opportunities at community to national level. He adds that there must be full representation in political spheres by all women without fear and favor, with transparency and accountability.
‘’There must be social and economic opportunities created for women so as to curb gender injustices, inequality and marginalization of women and children. Increase in health budgets makes countries address as well challenges faced by women.’’, he said
Above all, a number of Politicians and Members of Parliament asked to comment advises the Government working with the Anti-Corruption Commission to curb corruption, illicit finance flows and capital flight. Curbing corruption puts women and children on the safe side during these hard times of covid- 19, experts, academicians, policy makers and implementers note.
*Nevson Mpofu a renowned multi-awarded winning journalist is as well a development studies lecturer at Chartered Institute for purchasing and supply at midlands state university campus in Harare . he is advancing in sustainable development ..
Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis: Killing of Women and Girls going Unabated
August 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Cameroon, unlike some other countries in Central Africa, was not a war-torn state. Cameroonians lived in relative peace in the Anglophone regions until four years ago (2016). There was no need to flee to the bush; major attacks on civilians in the Anglophone regions were not commonplace before the separatists took up arms.
Families have abandoned their homes, seeking shelter in nearby bushland or safer parts of the country. In some cases, women have been abandoned by their husbands who have joined the secessionist forces. As a result, approximately 68 per cent of Cameroon’s internally displaced persons are said to be women.
Civil society organizations across the English-speaking regions have been calling for the protection of women and girls as the crisis rages on. The South West/North West Women’s task force on several outings has been calling for the respect of international norms by both parties to the conflict. The women in the South West have planned an outing this August 18, 2020, to protest against the ongoing killings.
Children working in their houses have been killed. Recently, some children who were picking snails (Nyama Ngoro) behind their house were killed. The other was shot in the hand, and the other who ran was caught and is now at the army camp.
“We the women them go for D.O office and tok say backside house wey pikin di pick nyama ngoro dey go come killam,” a distressed mother said in Pidgin English. “Woman pikin na Amba? Small woman pikin them killam. Di one so pass we. Dey di leave those that are Amba but di kill innocent pikin them wey nova even reach 13 or 14 years.”
Women and children represent about 80 per cent of the approximately 10,000 refugees registered so far in eastern Nigeria’s Cross River state. Thousands more are among the population of unregistered Cameroonians in neighbouring states.
Some of these are boys and girls who fled to Nigeria alone. Unaccompanied and separated children are particularly affected by difficult access to food and the lack of subsistence opportunities.
UNHCR staff have received numerous reports that children have to work or beg to survive or to help their families. Many children are unable to attend school, as they lack both the time and funds for education. Although schooling in Nigeria is free, there are still some basic costs, such as those for school materials.
As a result of the crisis, women giving birth in the bushes are now a common issue, unable to go to school, struggling to take care of family – women in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are suffering as the crisis continues, unabated, as women scramble to protect their families and survive during difficult times.
“Everything is changing, and it is affecting women seriously because they have never experienced this kind of situation – every day you learn a new strategy to deal with it. Women have given birth in the bushes, there’s gang rape, and women have been tortured,” one aid worker says.
In recent times, there has been an uptick in violence against women, perpetrated by Cameroon’s security forces and the armed separatist forces. The most recent case is the killing of a 35-year-old lady in Muyuka by separatist fighters.
There have also been several rapes reported, with many more going underreported. In one of the most high profile cases in 2018, Arthur Mbida, a government soldier, stood trial for allergy raping a 17-year-old lactating mother at a military checkpoint in Bamenda, North West Region, Equal Times reported.
The escalating conflict began back in October 2016, when English-speaking lawyers in Cameroon opposed the appointment of French-speaking judges to their courts. A few other frustrated groups, amongst them teachers, later joined in peaceful protests against decades of under-investment and other government policies which they said discriminate against the country’s English-speaking regions. The protests grew and the government responded with force. The peaceful protest has now turned into a full-blown conflict as separatist fighters look to create a state for themselves.
Covidhero: Zimbabwean Lady Feeds Thousands Of Hungry Children
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
Heroes often emerge during tumultuous times. In Zimbabwe, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen one heroine emerging. Her name Samantha Nyasha Muzoroki. With the little that she has, Samantha has been feeding thousands of families mostly children every day since Zimbabwe put in place a national lockdown in the early months of 2020.
In her own words, Samantha says, “Feeding thousands of families in my hometown, Chitungwiza, on the outskirts of Harare, has become my life since the start of the lockdown in Zimbabwe. Seeing smiles on the faces of women and girls is fulfilling.”
Samantha says her relief kitchen initiative really started modestly. With the sole aim of giving children a good start to their day, she decided to serve free porridge to the vulnerable in her community. As soon as she started, more and more children began to visit her home each morning for a scoop of her nutritious porridge. In no time, adults also started trickling in. Assessing the situation that most of these people were in, Samantha quickly decided to serve two meals each day, breakfast and supper. For breakfast, she continued serving porridge (and occasionally bread when porridge runs out) and for supper she serves sadza (Zimbabwe’s staple food).
As the national lockdown continues dragging for long, the numbers of people who are dependent on her meals continue increasing. In the early days, hundreds were served but now, Samantha’s kitchen now serves close to 3000 each day.
At the very first, Samantha says she “started with a 2kg packet of rice and 500g of beans.” As the numbers of those in need of a meal increased by each day and as her savings were dwindling, she had to barter her jeans and sneakers with food supplies.” Her compassion however has since encouraged the corporate world and some individuals to chip in and help her with food supplies.
Bread Company Lobels has chipped in on occasions donating bread. Other companies that have made donations include EzuluFoods, Chicken Hut, N. Richards Group, Clean City, Quick Fresh, Health Factor Zimbabwe and Fresh in a Box.
Other individuals have also been inspired by Samantha and they have since launched their own relief kitchens’ in their respective communities. In Victoria Falls, some officers in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, local municipality officers, members from the business community and other individuals have joined hands to launch the Victoria Falls Children’s Feeding Scheme. The Scheme has one aim which is to provide every child with a hot, nutritious meal 5 days a week.
The diplomatic community has also been inspired by the work being done by Samantha. The Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe made a donation of hand sanitizers and pairs of gloves.
For all those who have chipped in, in helping her with the relief kitchen, Samantha said she is thankful. “I am thankful for the community of Chitungwiza and the world wide community.”
In the early days, Samantha did encounter some challenges as she was shut down by the local council authorities for operating an illegal relief kitchen. However, the differences were ironed out and her relief kitchen is now registered as Kuchengetana Trust. In an interview with a local publication VUKR, Samantha said that she will take her initiative beyond the lockdown when lifted, “Definitely, we are now registered as a trust ‘Kuchengetana Trust’. There is no way I could ever turn back on what we have built in the last couple of months. I have dreams so pronounced I am eager to deliver. I plan to make self sustenance the order of the day. I get goose bumps when I think about it. Social development projects and facilitation of them are my main objectives.”
With regards to self sustenance, Samantha says she “envision a future where a woman is self-sufficient. I have been talking with some of the women about ideas to help start income generating projects.” She does acknowledge that this is something which requires a lot of resources especially financial resources but is hopeful the desired resources will come.
Samantha is helped by willing volunteers in her relief kitchen. Some prominent individuals including renowned Urban Grooves musician Rockford Josphats aka Roki have helped her serve meals to the thousands who visit her relief kitchen on each day of the week. Some who visit her kitchen in need of a meal often are moved by her work and they end up staying to volunteer. One such person is Anastencia Hove. After visiting the relief kitchen for a meal, Anastencia Hove says she “was moved by her (Samantha) love. It is rare to find people who think about others. So I said as a token of my appreciation for her support, I should volunteer. This lockdown has not spared us at all, so people are suffering. The number of people I see here shows that many are hungry.”
Samantha is an immigration lawyer by profession and a business lady.
Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani Joins the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Rolake will be advising and supporting the African Energy Chamber within its Investment and Energy Transition Committees.|
Leading and prominent African energy expert and finance executive Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani has joined the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board for 2020 and 2021. Rolake will be advising and supporting the African Energy Chamber within its Investment and Energy Transition Committees.
Currently Managing Director of EnergyInc Advisors and Senior Africa Advisor for the IFU Danish Investment Fund, Rolake brings years of experience providing financial and strategic advisory services to the public and private sector in oil and gas and power. She has built a track record of helping to finance, invest in and successfully scale businesses across Africa’s energy sector.
“Rolake has critical experience in the financing and scaling up of gas and renewable energy companies, which is just what our continent needs at the moment,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber. “Rolake represents the next generation of African business women who is playing the most critical role in shaping the future of our industry.”
Rolake also sits on the global advisory board of Canadian Private Equity firm, Stonechair Capital advising on its #EnergyAfrica Fund for Sub-Sahara Africa. She was previously the head of energy and natural resources for FBN Capital and FBNQuest Merchant Bank, Nigeria’s oldest financial services group, where she helped energy, and oil and gas companies raise debt and equity capital. From 2017-19 she was also a member of the private sector economic advisory group in the Office of the Vice President of Nigeria, working closely with the Chief Economic Adviser to the President on a range of national development policy issues.
For her significant contribution to Africa’s growth story, Rolake was recognized in the United Nations’ MIPAD Top 100 (Most Influential People of African Descent) Under 40, in the Business & Entrepreneurship Class of 2018, and was listed in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Choiseul Institute’s (France) top 200 Under-40 Young Economic Leaders in Africa.
Rolake has a BSc and MSc degree from the London School of Economics (LSE), and a global executive MBA from TRIUM.
*African Energy Chamber
WPEC Launches ‘Titans Tank’ to reward best African and African American female entrepreneurs
August 11, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Women’s Program Engagement Council (WPEC) aka “Africa’s Titans®”, is a Global Sustainable Partnerships (GSP) Global Initiative designed to help African and African American women entrepreneurs and business owners expand into new markets, today launches a new initiative christened ‘Titans Tank.’
Titans Tank will entail a virtual business competition to allow women entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and existing business to the public and the WPEC community. The top five businesses will be selected to participate in the final. These women will get the rare opportunity to showcase their ideas, products, or services to judges and potential investors. To apply, please click on LINK
According to Kimberly L. Fogg the Founder and Chair of (WPEC), the goal of WPEC is to work with investors to help them look at women entrepreneurs through a “new lens” as it relates to the value of investing in women and to ensure their voices are represented, recognized and championed for their role as innovators, job creators, entrepreneurs, mentors, while helping raise awareness that these women have longevity in the local, national and global markets.
Kimberly noted that the campaign will invite African and African American women entrepreneurs and business owners globally to send in a short video of their idea or existing business. “We will showcase this on all our social media platforms including @TWPEC Facebook page and LinkedIn in the week of August 17th. The judges will select the top five “Titans” and the winner will be announced on Sept 26th 2020.”
In keeping with the theme of Africa’s Titans® the competition will focus on two categories.
- Titans in Innovation, Technology, and Communication Connectivity
- Titans in Banking, Business, Investments, and Marketing
WPEC is looking to partner with key female representatives of major Fortune 500 companies, African leaders, company founders, philanthropists, key policymakers and business leaders to serve as mentors to share their journeys through the private and public sector spaces describing not only their successes, but also identifying policy gaps, challenges, obstacles and suggested solutions for future best practices.
WPEC is an innovative social entrepreneurship organization comprised of a global network of women leaders who play a pivotal role in the global support of getting more women in managerial/executive positions and on corporate boards, with a mission of developing, growing, and sustaining women leadership in their own businesses globally. WPEC operates globally through building a committed global black woman led Africa’s Titans® network of entrepreneurs and business owners who are utilizing innovation to drive global sustainable development, addressing existing socio-economic gaps, and integrating social impact in the continent of Africa and the Diaspora through allocating a percentage of their funding to GSP as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) partner. WPEC works with investors to help them understand the shift in paradigm of development and facilitate local/foreign direct investments through a “new lens” as it relates to the value of investing in women/women-owned businesses who have longevity in the local, national and global markets.
Mali: Oumou Sangaré tops World Music Charts Europe
August 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Malian Oumou Sangaré has claimed the No 1 spot on the World Music Charts Europe(link is external) (WMCE) with her album titled Acoustic.
Acoustic rose 13 places after making its entry on the chart at No 14 in July. The offering is essentially an unplugged version of her 2017 release Mogoya. The album was released digitally on 19 June through record label No Format.
“I suggested to Oumou that she record this album after a show in London to celebrate 15 years of No Format,” No Format founder Laurent Bizot said. “At that concert, for the first time, she had agreed to try out this acoustic approach, which is all about letting go. The space it created for her voice was wonderful.”
The Pace Setters, a reissue of Ghanaian band Edikanfo’s 1981 LP, ranks second after its debut on the chart at No 7 in July.
Making its entry at No 4 is The King of Sudanese Jazz by musician Sharhabil Ahmed via the Habibi Funk label. The seven tracks were recorded in the 1960s and feature a mix of rock and roll, funk, surf rock, traditional Sudanese music and Congolese rumba.
Maghreb K7 Club: Synth Raï, Chaoui & Staiif (1985-1997) is another newcomer on the chart ranking at No 7. The album features an impressive compilation of music recorded and produced between 1985 and 1997 by musicians from the Maghreb region in Algeria.
Further down, Santrofi’s Alewa – the No 1 album in July – drops to No 9, while Tamotait by Tuareg band Tamikrest from Mali fell eight positions to No 13. The album was at the top of the chart in June.
At No 17 is Afropentatonism by Nigerien desert blues musician Alhousseini Anivolla and Ethiopian jazz guitarist Girum Mezmur. The pan-African project dropped six places after debuting at No 11 last month.
Nayda! by Bab L’Bluz from Morocco completes the list of African albums on the chart with a debut at No 18. Real World Records says the album features “a new wave of Moroccan artists and musicians taking their cues from local heritage, singing words of freedom in the Moroccan-Arabic dialect of darija (‘nayda’ means both ‘to rise up’ and ‘to party’) and mixing influences as and when.”
The WMCE features albums selected by radio producers and presenters across Europe. The albums are then played for a month on various radio stations, and an official poster is displayed in multiple music stores.
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.
Côte d’Ivoire :Report on the fight Against Child Labor rejected
June 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara has dismissed the eligibility of the findings from the draft report by NORC on progress in the country’s fight against child labor terming the report as “illegible and misleading”
The 2018-2019 survey carried out by NORC is pending publication come June 29, 2020 and it is about child labor in Cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
The report soughts to draw conclusions from the previous surveys carried out on the prevalence of child labor in both countries.
Looking at the previous surveys carried out by the university of Tulane in 20008-2009 and in 2013-2014, the NORC cited there was a huge progress over the years.
The draft of the report noted that there was “a sharp drop in the number of hours children from households involved in cocoa growing used to spend in cocoa plantations while the number of those attending school significantly increased,”
Much as NORC may be getting ready to publish its report in June, the National committee in charge of fighting Child Labor (CNS) in French acronym has expressed its concerns about the report’s eligibility and relevance.
The committee chaired by the first lady Dominique Ouattara cited some shortcomings, gaps and methods in previous findings by the 2013-2014 Tulane surveys that NORC referred to.
Such gaps are in relation with the sampling methods and data collections periods, the first lady’s team noted.
Others, the First Lady’s team said are the comparison of data from the previous Tulane university and those from NORC’s survey which the committee termed as a “misleading comparison’
“Several workshops were held over the past months in Abidjan and in Washington , DC and we raised concerns and USDOL as regards to shortcomings of 2018-2019 survey methodologies,” reads a statement from CNS.
“Much as errors were acknowledged, NORC remained reluctant to make any corrections,” it added.
As a result, the First Lady who also doubles as CNS President has stressed that her country would not approve the findings from the 2018-2019 survey.
“Côte d’Ivoire cannot approve the current version of 2018-2019 survey as it has some flaws,” the Frst Lady Dominique Ouattara said.
Côte d’Ivoire it is worth noting has made significant progress in fighting child labor spearheaded by CNS as witnessed in the Child Labor Report Book 2018.
The country also ranks among top 12 countries that have put in more efforts to fight child labor worldwide, according to the report by the United States of America on Child Labor.
The American report says that “Côte d’Ivoire got the highest ranks and emerged among the top 12 countries out of 134 countries that were assessed, adding that the African country has held such position for the last successive years.”
The United States’ Trade and Development Act of 2000 states that all countries across the world should demonstrate their commitment to remove any form of child labor if they are to be eligible as beneficiaries of various services.
Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s leading producer of cocoa and it has passed the target of producing two million tonnes in 2019.
The price of Cocoa stands at 825 CFA per kilogram, and the country has committed itself to intensify productivity in a sustainable way geared towards meeting the growing demand while maintaining its global perfomance.
*Ivory Coast Embassy,Washington,DC
Cameroon: Fako Heart Celebrates 1st Anniversary with “Zero Mortality”
June 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Centre that went operational on June 1, 2019, is to start an Erectile Dysfunction clinic and Weight-loss Clinic
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Fako Heart, a centre of excellence for stroke prevention, has marked its first anniversary with “zero mortality” recorded at the centre. During the celebration, June 2, 2020, patients consulted at the Centre for free. This free consultation is expected to run until June 30, 2020.
The Fako Heart Centre located in Buea, the chief town of the South West Region of Cameroon is as purpose-built Cardiac Hospital and it specializes in Heart and Lung diseases.
Since its launch in June of 2019, Fako Heart Centre has had 1,366 clinic-based consultations (808 females, 558 males) and 804 outreach consultations (391 females, and 413 male). A total of 2,170 persons were consulted with 319 patients admitted by Fako Heart Centre during the past 12 months with no deaths recorded (zero mortality). The predominant conditions are high blood pressure (Hypertension) Diabetes, and Heart Failure.
The majority of persons who consulted came from the South West (1,010) and the North West Regions (270). Some of the patients came in from distant places including the South Region (Ebolowa), Extreme North (Mayo Tsanaga), Adamawa (Ngaoundere), Nigeria (Imo State) and the Central African Republic (Bangui).
“Heart failure is a long term disease. One thing we have to know with a cardiac patient is that when it set in we can only slow it down; you cannot reset the person like where the heart was before. The heart failure comes with age and there are very few children who are born with effect. The other heart illness is something we acquire as we age and our lifestyle too,” Mrs Irene Naloua Kemah, Owner/CEO of Fako Heart Centre told reporters.
“Once it (heart issues) reaches 10% the only thing that can save you is a heart transplant which is practically impossible here with so many people even in Europe travelling, some are on the waiting list for even 10 years. And when you are on the waiting list they look at the age and how you can contribute to the society for them to give you a heart.”
“We are hoping to get to that stage where people will take their health seriously. We do not want people to neglect their health. Everyone thinks that they always have Malaria and Typhoid which is not always the case… Consultation at Fako Heart involves a mandatory Kidney function test,” She added.
The CEO has called on everyone to look after their body as if it is not properly taken care of, it might degenerate to something else. She said: “When you have a fever or anything you have to go to the hospital and do not assume that it might be malaria or just going to the pharmacy to get some medications. I had one of my staff who was complaining that madam my son is always sick and I ask have you had any blood works on him. No, he came here and the child was Aememic. When you are anaemic you are weak and cannot do certain things. We gave the son some medication, and two weeks ago the staff said the child is like a newborn baby.”
The Only Centre with a Tilt Table Test
Fako Heart Centre is the only Centre in Cameroon that offers a tilt table test. “This is a test designed to establish the diagnosis in patients presenting with collapse after blood works, ECG and echocardiogram are unremarkable,” Dr Perry Kemah, UK-based Consultant Cardiologist said in an earlier interview.
“The tilt table test helps to establish vasovagal causes of collapse… Fako Heart is the only Cardiac Centre right now in the region delivering acute cardiac care. That is at the point of entry we assess you and prior to discharge, you undergo a cardiac rehabilitation programme that gives the patient fitness to go back to community life.”
“…As we celebrate our first anniversary, we are offering heart screening with a view of identifying healthy people in the community with potential risk factors of cardiovascular diseases,” Dr Perry Kemah added.
He went further that: “Fako Heart has a track record so far with zero mortality in 12 months. This is based on good medical practice and that involves working within our capacity and communicating clearly with our patients about the critical situations patients find themselves in…”
Fako Heart Centre Buea is a purpose-built specialist Cardiac Hospital and a Centre of Excellence for Stroke Prevention. It specializes in Lung and Heart diseases. Its key mission is to reduce the burden of Heart Disease and Stroke on a national scale. The alarming number of patients with cardiovascular conditions consulted so far attests to the fact that cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a severe problem across Cameroon.
The vision bearers of Fako Heart are Mrs Irene Naloua Kemah, Owner/CEO, and Dr Fred Perry Kemah, UK-based consultant cardiologist.
The Centre offers the following services: Electrocardiogram (ECG), Holter 24hr ECG Monitor, Exercise Tolerance Test, Stress Test, Tilt Table Test, Echo Stress Test, Six Minute Walking Test, and much more.
Kenyan Senator clinches Deputy Speaker seat unopposed
June 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar on Tuesday was sworn in as the Deputy Speaker in the Senate.
Prof. Kamar secured the seat unopposed after his competitors bowed out of the race.
“Accordingly, I hereby declare Senator Prof Margaret Kamar as the duly elected deputy speaker of the Senate,” Ken Lusaka, Speaker of the Senate said.
Five candidates had been cleared to contest for the seat. They were Isaac Mwaura (nominated – Jubilee), Judith Pareno (nominated – ODM), Steward Madzayo (Kilifi – ODM) and Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga – Independent).
Judith Pareno was the last candidate to pull out of the race few hours before the elections began. The vote was slated for Tuesday at 2pm (local time).
“Following consultations with the leadership of my party, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), I hereby give notice of my withdrawal as candidate for election as Deputy Speaker of the Senate. Thank you,” reads the statement addressed to the speaker.
“Everybody has withdrawn so we are leaving it to her so that we don’t seem to be scrambling over the position. We are a handshake team and we don’t want to fight,” she added.
Pareno’s move came hours after Isaac Mwaura had announced withdrawal of his candidature following the decision by his party to endorse Kamar for the seat. Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru who was perceived as the front runner was the first contestant to bow out of the race on Monday.
“When party does so, we have no option but to support, we will toe the party line,” Mwaura said.
On his part, Senator Madzayo said he threw in the towel following a wide consultation with his supporters and party officials.
“My decision is premised majorly on the need to continue supporting the political coherence currently being advanced by H.E Raila Amollo Odinga and H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta. I also believe my decision to no longer run for the post of Senate Deputy Speaker, will advance gender equity; a spirit I passionately subscribe to,” he said.
The seat fell vacant after the holder Prof. Kithure Kindiki was impeached in May, 2020, over allegations of insubordination. Tharaka Nithi Senator was among the Jubilee leaders who boycotted Senate Parliamentary Group meeting held in the State House on May 11. The meeting was chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The African Energy Chamber welcomes the appointment of Taelo Mojapelo as new CEO of BP Southern Africa
June 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Mojapelo succeeds Priscillah Mabelane who was notably the first woman in South Africa’s oil history to head up a multinational company|
he African Energy Chamber welcomes the new appointment of BP Southern Africa’s new CEO, Taelo Mojapelo.
Mojapelo succeeds Priscillah Mabelane who was notably the first woman in South Africa’s oil history to head up a multinational company.
The appointment is an encouraging step towards promoting the inclusion of women in leadership positions in the oil sector, a move strongly supported by the Chamber which is a signatory of Equal by 30, a commitment by public and private sector organizations to work towards equal pay, leadership and opportunities for women in the sector by 2030.
“The appointment of Taelo Mojapelo is a motivating move by BP Southern Africa,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “At the Chamber, we have been extremely vocal about the increased participation of women in the oil and gas sector, particularly in leadership positions. We applaud BP for its continued commitment to supporting this move and we look forward to seeing other oil companies follow suit.”
Prior to being elected as the new CEO of BP Southern Africa, Mojapelo was the head of optimization and supply at the company and previously held several leadership roles in multinational companies including, Mondelez International, Kellog’s and DHL.
About the African Energy Chamber:
The African Energy Chamber (AEC) is a leading chamber of successful networks, transactions and partnerships at the helm of Africa’s growing energy industries. The AEC actively promotes the interests of the African continent, its companies and its people.
Partners and members of the African Energy Chamber have the power to shape Africa’s energy future by promoting growth, fostering collaboration, shaping policy, and providing leadership and guidance in the fast-growing energy sector.
Covid-19 & Smart Food Markets for the Future
June 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Betty Kibaara*
Nothing excites me more than visiting an open-air market and sampling some succulent, juicy pineapple, or a yellow-ripe sweet banana amidst small chit-chat with the friendly women vendors. These pleasantries are no longer the norm. With all of us wearing masks, I can hardly recognize my vendors and they cannot make out their customers. I don’t taste the fruits until they are washed in soapy water.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that while open markets are a key component of a sustainable food system, they aren’t built for a crisis like this one. Urban food markets in Africa often lack adequate infrastructure, resulting in over-crowded spaces and massive amounts of food waste. Vendors have little or no control over the hygiene practices of their suppliers and customers, making food safety protocols difficult to follow.
The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has provided guidelines to help secure the food supply during this challenging time. While this is a good short-term measure, we need to be thinking about the long-term changes that will make our markets more resilient for the future. African countries can develop prototypes for “smart” markets fit to our context, designed to ensure health and safety, and equipped to meet our food needs now and into the future. The big question however is, what could an African Smart Market look like?
Firstly, the vast roofs of markets are a perfect place to install solar panels, enabling markets to run on sustainable energy. The power generated could also serve surrounding consumers and businesses.
Secondly, modern African markets provide the perfect opportunity for water harvesting infrastructure. The roofs of the markets could collect water during rains and would help keep the market well-sanitized and supply customers and vendors with clean drinking water.
Good water supply goes well with sanitation facilities. Water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are critical to limiting infection spread and protecting health. Clean facilities, maintained by private sector partners, could offer services such as sorting bays and improve hygiene by sanitizing surfaces for vendors.
Additionally, Kenya generates 8 million tons of waste annually and nearly 40 per cent of it comes from urban areas. Market waste can be sorted and converted to bio-degradable products to generate power. Organic waste could be used to produce alternative proteins for animal feed such as black soldier fly production.
It is also worth noting that markets can be designed with basic food processing infrastructure to convert fruits into fresh juices. This could contribute to reducing food waste.
Food wastage reduction cannot be efficient without a dedicated cold storage infrastructure. Without adequate storage in markets, fruits and vegetables spoil quickly under the hot sun. Cold storage solutions such as ColdHubs, would reduce post-harvest losses. Through the YieldWise Initiative, and in partnership with TechnoServe, The Rockefeller Foundation has already invested in reducing post-harvest losses among smallholder mango farmers in Kenya. With investments in cold storage solutions, the smart market would provide an additional opportunity at the point of sale to reduce post-harvest loss.
To safeguard human health, food safety and traceability must be a priority throughout the food system. While subsistence production, informal distribution channels, and traditional community markets make it difficult to implement large-scale food safety interventions, smart markets could promote a shift in consumer attitudes by designating a section where traders only sell certified and traceable produce. This could be a big step toward creating consumer demand for food safety and traceability and lay the groundwork for future reform.
Therefore, a carefully considered market design is the final piece of the puzzle. For example, traders in the sunniest and windiest spots often cover their stalls in dirty sacks, introducing unnecessary risk of contamination. Markets could be optimized to have clear entries and exits and take into account the direction of the sun and wind, minimizing the need for extra work and unsanitary makeshift solutions.
As we think about designing the markets of the future, we should also explore business models to help markets become self-sustaining.
We must take COVID-19 as an opportunity to think creatively and help our markets evolve to be more hygienic, more sustainable and more resilient to future shocks and disruptions. By doing this, we can help protect our local vendors’ livelihoods and ensure that millions of Africans have secure access healthy, nutritious food.
*Betty Kibaara is the Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation
Gambia 2021 Elections: Female Candidate Unveils Interest in Top Job
May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Marie Sock, a developmental expert and business mogul has revealed her interest of been Gambia’s next president come 2021 presidential elections.
Gambia goes to presidential elections in 2021, more political parties and independent candidates are emerging.
Sock told Fatu Network that ‘I’m here to reunited Gambia’ as she on Thursday called on all Gambians to back to her to become the country’s next president.
Sock said: “I feel there are too many political parties right now and it’s catastrophic. So I want to get out of that. This is why I said, ‘no I am not gonna form another political party to be part of, I gonna stand independently’.”
The businesswoman is calling on all Gambians including political parties to endorse her in her grand plan.
She said: “Standing independently doesn’t mean I don’t wanna work with anyone. That’s why I’m standing independent. Of course, it will be great if Gambians can come together regardless of any political party that you are affiliated with, to endorse my candidacy because what I want to do is to bring everybody together as Gambians.
“I’m looking actually for all the parties to endorse me. I cannot predict the future, I can only come out and say I’m standing on my own. For now I can only say I am aspiring candidate and talk to all the people to support me and come onboard as one.
“I’m here to reunite Gambia. If we talk about we want Gambia to be one, I think this is the platform to do so. We put our political affiliations aside, we put our religion aside, we put our tribe aside.”
Menstrual Hygiene Day: Taboos and traditions a hindrance to menstrual hygiene management in Ghana.
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Ahedor Jessica
Ethnic groups in Ghana, like many other African countries, have diverse opinions and thoughts about menstruation. While the natural phenomenon is seen as unclean in some clans’ others also believe that menstrual blood can be used to invoke supernatural forces or bad omen.
In a typical traditional home in Ghana, women and adolescent girls have to leave their homes to sleep in relative house during their menses. Girls raised in Muslim homes have to stay away from attending the five daily prayers while menstruating. Some Christian sects’ bar women from entering their chapels when they are menstruating.
United Nations Children’s Fund, UNIEF 2016 research on menstrual hygiene management in Ghana, stated that traditions and taboos surrounding menstruation have proven to be one of the major challenges the sector players are fraught with. Especially in homes where traditional religions are based on animist beliefs and tribal Gods, girls are not allowed to cook for the family when they are menstruating. In extreme cases, menstruating females are even forbidden from touching household wares such as buckets, cutlery or plates and bowls.
This situation does not differ from what Faith Adzorke who lives with the parents at Amaoaman, in the Ga West Municipality of Greater Accra Region has to endure every month. The 20-year-old couldn’t explain why she has to always move to her maternal side whenever she is about to start her menses. “Ever since I started menstruating at age 11, I have been shuffling between my grand mum’s place and that of my parent’s. My father believes I am unclean when it is ‘that time of the month’. I have to move to my maternal home and only return after my menses”.
Traditionalist, Osofo Yaw believes there is a spiritual connotation to mensuration and can even been traced to the bible. To him the phenomenon has the potency of neutralizing any form of charm meant to serve as a protection for an individual or a household. Sometimes, materials used in ensuring menstrual hygiene once soaked with blood if not properly disposed of can be use as charms against the women and for ritual purposes, he explained.
But a consultant, physician specialist Koma Jehu-Appiah asserts there is the need to distinguish between culture, religion and natural phenomenon that are a part of womanhood. He believes some people gets intoxicated with culture and religion as a result, it impairs education regarding issues that affects human health. “Menstruation is physiological feature that distinguishes women from men”. Cultural and religious restrictions remained the norm of African most societies contributing to the myth around the subject matter but the only way to breakthrough is education; he added.
Ellen Gyekye, the Head of school Health and Education program (SHEP) at the Ghana Education Service called for continuous support for capacity development of SHEP structures at the school level by promoting and collaborating effectively to imbibe in the younger generation menstrual hygiene habits. She added that community sensitization is key to the success of eliminating stereotypes about the natural happening.
Touching on UNICEF’s recommendation report on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) to the government, she maintained MHM be made part of the everyday conversation between teachers and adolescent girls. She is optimistic the new curriculum will rob- in the various policy recommendations made by the sector players on equitable school health policies that favor MHM.
Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) Awards 2020 call for nominations announced
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
|AWIEF Awards are Africa’s top honours for female founders and entrepreneurs designed to recognise and celebrate their contribution to the growth of Africa’s economy|
The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) (www.AWIEForum.org) is pleased to announce the call for nominations for AWIEF Awards 2020.
This year marks the fourth edition of the highly-anticipated AWIEF Awards which serves as the premier platform to highlight achievements in women entrepreneurship across Africa. AWIEF Awards are Africa’s top honours for female founders and entrepreneurs designed to recognise and celebrate their contribution to the growth of Africa’s economy.
This year a new award category, the Energy Entrepreneur Award, has been created to recognise excellence in the power, oil & gas, and renewable energy sector.
According to Irene Ochem, AWIEF founder and chief executive officer, “AWIEF Awards is a recognition of excellence in female entrepreneurship across Africa and we have seen an exponential growth in both the quality and number of nominations over the three previous editions. We have an obligation, now more than ever, to recognise and showcase those women founders and entrepreneurs who are building solutions and driving change in the African economy.”
Past AWIEF Awards winners have included: Stella Okolie (Nigeria), Wendy Luhabe (South Africa), Jennifer Riria (Kenya), Soraya da Piedade (Angola); Temie Giwa-Tubosun (Nigeria); Caroline Pomeyie (Ghana).
Nominations can be submitted for the following eight (8) categories. Nominees can either be nominated by a third party or be self-nominated.
Young Entrepreneur Award
Tech Entrepreneur Award
Agri Entrepreneur Award
Creative Industry Award
Energy Entrepreneur Award
Social Entrepreneur Award
Lifetime Achievement Award
To submit nominations for the AWIEF Awards, please follow this link: https://bit.ly/2ZAO6TA
Nominations close on Tuesday, 30th June 2020 at 23:59 GMT.
Last year, the APO Group African Women in Media Award was launched to recognise the support of female journalists for African women’s entrepreneurship. The call for entries for the 2020 edition of this prestigious award given each year by APO Group during the AWIEF Awards will be announced by APO Group at a later date.
Nigeria:ABCHealth Announces New CEO
May 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
|The African Business Coalition for Health is a not-for-profit advocacy driven organization founded by the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the Global Business Coalition for Health|
The African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth) today announced the appointment of Mories Atoki as Chief Executive Officer following the unanimous agreement of its Board of Directors.
Mories brings to our Coalition years of experience as senior manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers where she pioneered and led the firm’s Sustainability & Climate Change practice. With an extensive track record in the field of development and as a recognized sustainability expert, she is a member of the Advisory Board of Partners for Review (P4R), a United Nations supported initiative to standardise sustainable development reporting. Mories is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School (HBS) as well as the London School of Business & Finance.
Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Chairman of ABCHealth and Co Chairman of Global Business Coalition for Health (GBCHealth), said “Mories’ appointment comes at a critical moment for ABCHealth. We have just finalized a rigorous strategic planning process aimed at transforming Africa’s Health landscape. Our theory of change now needs to be implemented and Mories has a mandate to successfully drive its implementation”.
Zouera Youssoufou, CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) and Board member of ABCHealth commented that “Mories has a strong track record for execution, she has good communications skills and great leadership capabilities. Her understanding of Africa’s health landscape provides a balanced perspective in our organisation’s mandate of transforming the continent’s health landscape.’
“I am honored and excited to lead ABCHealth” Mories Atoki said. “I believe that my appointment as the CEO of ABCHealth has come at a time when Africa clearly needs a strong convener of all stakeholders in Africa’s public and private sectors to facilitate deep partnerships and collaboration all with one end in sight – improving the continent’s health outcomes.”
The African Business Coalition for Health is a not-for-profit advocacy driven organization founded by the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the Global Business Coalition for Health as an African-led coalition of business leaders and companies to improve the health and wellbeing of the African population.
ABC Health was launched in February 2019 on the margins of the 32nd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the Africa Business; Health Forum convened in partnership with UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to mobilise leaders from governments and businesses towards improving Africa’s health outcomes.
ABCHealth is registered in Nigeria, with plans to expand to additional business hubs in Africa over the next three to five years. The vision is to create a unified African business community acting as a force for good, transforming workplace and community health through impactful health programs, and shaping policy outcomes regionally and globally.
Board Members Appointed for the New Global Independent ‘Oversight Board’ for Facebook and Instagram Content
May 7, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Board Includes Three Members From Africa and Will Make Binding and Transparent Decisions on Content|
Today, Julie Owono, a digital rights advocate and Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières from Cameroon, Maina Kiai, a human rights activist and Director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships program from Kenya, and Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, a human rights lawyer and Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa from Senegal, Ghana and South Africa were appointed as Board Members to the newly created Oversight Board. The Oversight Board will review certain content decisions by Facebook and Instagram and make binding decisions based on respect for freedom of expression and human rights.
The Oversight Board will tackle increasingly complex and contentious debates about what types of content should and should not be permitted on Facebook and Instagram and who should decide. The Board will prioritize cases that potentially impact many users, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise questions about Facebook’s policies. Decisions made by the Board must be implemented by Facebook, as long as they do not violate the law. Oversight Board Members are independent from the company, funded by an independent trust and cannot be removed by Facebook based on their decisions.
“Preserving the free flow of information is a major issue in our contemporary societies,” said Julie Owono. “I come from Cameroon, I grew up in Russia, studied in France, I am currently in the USA, this journey has reinforced my conviction that without freedom, without the right to express oneself, to receive or impart information, there can’t be true and profound progress. It is an honor for me to serve this cause, within the Oversight Board.”
“We have been talking for a long time about creating some kind of independent governance structure for making big companies more accountable on some of the most important decisions they make,” said Maina Kiai. State regulation is important, and I think we need to make progress there too, but I think the Board is an exciting experiment and I’m excited to be part of it,” Kiai added.
“The very act of creating this Board shows Facebook has taken the criticism leveled against it seriously and I hope my membership can help address some of these criticisms,” said Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei. I am particularly focused on the Board’s role in improving transparency and accountability, and creating an appeal process where people can bring their content issues. I feel strongly that the Board needs to be truly representative, not just in terms of geography, but age, subject matter and breadth of issues covered as well,” added Asare-Kyei.
Owono, Kiai and Asare-Kyei will work in collaboration with 17 other Members who speak over 27 languages and have diverse professional, cultural, political, and religious backgrounds and viewpoints. Over time the Board will grow to around 40 Members. While no one can claim to represent everyone, Members are confident that the global composition will underpin, strengthen and guide decision-making.
The Board was designed with transparency in mind
All decisions will be made public, and Facebook must respond publicly to them. All Board decisions will be published on its website, while protecting the identity and privacy of those involved. Additionally, the Board will issue a public annual report on its work to evaluate how the Board is fulfilling its purpose and whether Members believe Facebook is living up to its commitments.
Members are independent from Facebook
Members contract directly with the Oversight Board, are not Facebook employees and cannot be removed by Facebook. Members will serve for a maximum of three 3-year terms and case panels will be confidential and assigned at random; no Member can choose the panel they sit on, and all opinions will be anonymous. The Board’s financial independence is also guaranteed by the establishment of a $130 million trust fund that is completely independent of Facebook, which will fund its operations and cannot be revoked.
The Oversight Board is focused on addressing some of the most significant content moderation decisions on Facebook and Instagram that are referred by both users and Facebook
The Oversight Board will begin hearing cases in the coming months. Initially, users will be able to appeal to the Board in cases where Facebook has removed their content. Over the following months, the Board will also be able to review appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content, including advertising. The Board will not be able to make decisions on all of the many thousands of appeals from users that it anticipates receiving, but it will prioritise cases that potentially impact many users, are of critical importance to public discourse or that raise questions about Facebook’s policies.
Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, Senegal, Ghana and South Africa
Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, where she focuses on human rights, women’s rights, criminal justice, access to information and media freedom issues, and previously worked at Save the Children and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei is a human rights lawyer and development professional with extensive experience in strategy development, program design, grant management, research and stakeholder engagement in Southern, Western and Central Africa. Of Ghanaian and South African citizenship, she has a varied background in supporting and developing transformational social programs and advocacy strategies through the provision of technical advice and input into policy and programming of civil society organizations on issues like access to information, freedom of expression, human rights and substantive justice, especially as they relate to the inclusion, equality of opportunity and empowerment of vulnerable and under-represented groups such as women, children, persons with disabilities and LGBTIQs. Asare-Kyei has also worked for a number of international development and philanthropic organizations in different capacities in Africa. She is passionate about Africa, its development and has a working knowledge of African regional mechanisms and institutions. She is a graduate of the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her research interests include women, children and disability rights, critical race feminism and socioeconomic rights of the poor.
Julie Owono, Cameroon
Digital rights advocate who serves as the Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières, a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford.
Julie Owono is an expert in digital rights and an advocate for Business and Human Rights principles in the technology industry. She is Executive Director of Internet Without Borders, an organization which defends digital rights and access to the internet. She is also a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, a Digital Civil Society Fellow at Stanford University, a member of UNESCO’s Ad Hoc Expert Group (AHEG) for the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and a Member of the Expert Committee on Digital Inclusion of the World Benchmarking Alliance.
Maina Kiai, Kenya
Director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships Program, a former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, and the former head of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.
Maina Kiai is the Director of the Global Alliances and Partnerships at Human Rights Watch. Previously, he was the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly and Association and a founding co-director at InformAction, a Kenyan human rights NGO that advanced human rights through documentary film and community-based debate and mobilizing. He also served as the founding executive chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, an independent state body, and as the founding executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya’s leading human rights NGO. Throughout his career, Kiai has served in leadership roles in prominent national and international human rights organizations, received many fellowships and published widely. He has been a columnist with Nation Media Group and the Standard Group. He is the recipient of the George Kirkland Human Rights Award from AFL-CIO, the Freedom Award from Freedom House, the Leo Navas Award from UN Foundation of USA and the Public Servant Award from the Gay and Lesbians Coalition of Kenya, among other honors.
May 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Renée Dugué-Strother*
Giver of light
Giver of life
The source we need
To feed our seed
Illuminator of the soul
Without you here the world is cold
To the world magnificent
To the world, you are a gift
All life needs you
You are the truth
Without you Sən this world would not be
There would be nothing to see
Everyday open your eyes
Everyday Sən rise
Twenty-two orbits ago today
You sent you to shine the way
The light, the match, you were the spark
The flame, the fire, light in the dark
Sən rise, Sən shine, Sən dance, Sən sing
Sən lead, Sən follow, Sən take, Sən bring
Sən laugh, Sən cry, Sən love, Sən feel
Sən beam, Sən grown, Sən burn, Sən heal
Twenty-two times you’ve circled you
On your journey for the truth
Stay the course and you will see
You possess the light you seek
Author: Mrs. Renée Dugué-Strother is a Healer, Artist, Writer, Humanitarian, Co-Founder, and Executive Director of Reborn And Rising, a nonprofit based in Houston, TX, USA.
She shared with PAV that her son inspired this piece, and it was included in a letter written to him while in Buea, Cameroon on her organization’s first mission trip. She revealed that her son, also named René, is currently incarcerated in Houston, Texas, USA and that her departure date from Africa was strategically chosen to at least be in the same city as she and her family wished him a Happy Birthday on February 6, and celebrated Our Creator’s grace and mercy in allowing him to see another year, even if behind bars.
Mrs. Renée reminded PAV of the mission and vision of Reborn And Rising, born out of the pain experienced when her son’s father was murdered. He was only ten years old, and they have struggled desperately to move forward without his Dad. While there were organizations that offered grief counseling throughout the grieving period, there were none that had any programs in place to address the combination of issues Lil René faced, with regard to the loss of a parent due to homicide, specifically providing the unique psychological needs of a “Black” boy in America growing up without his father and extended programs in place to ensure developed and sustained healing. Reborn And Rising acknowledges all of these as absolutely critical to treat the acute trauma experienced and to foster a sustained recovery. This one of a kind nonprofit offers a holistic approach to healing and recovery through mentorship by people who look like the youth we support and will work with them to establish a meaningful connection and share how they survived what these children are struggling to grasp, let alone having to overcome. Crucial to Reborn And Rising’s program is providing psychological treatment by professionals experienced in African psychology methodology as developed by Dr. Wade Nobles and support by a “Village” who embrace traditional African wisdom traditions.
“We know too well that nothing can erase the pain of losing a parent this way or any other. Our desire is to empower youth to find strength in their shared experiences and rise above the pain to choose life.”