President Paul Kagame with the President of Niger and Champion of the CFTA Process, Mahamadou Issoufou, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the African Continental Free Trade Area Business Forum at Kigali Convention Centre (file photo).

Cabinet approves the draft law ratifying CFTA

A cabinet meeting on Wednesday approved the draft law ratifying the African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), which aims at easing intra-Africa trade.

President Paul Kagame with the President of Niger and Champion of the CFTA Process, Mahamadou Issoufou, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, at the African Continental Free Trade Area Business Forum at Kigali Convention Centre (file photo).


This comes barely weeks after majority African countries (44) signed in Kigali, the protocol that will see Africa becoming the biggest free trading bloc in the world.

The protocol was assented to during the just-concluded 10th Extraordinary African Union Summit of Heads of State and Government which was held in Kigali.

The cabinet meeting that was chaired by President Paul Kagame also gave a green light to protocols on trade in goods, trade in services, and one on rules and procedures for settlement of disputes, according to minutes signed by Cabinet Affairs Minister Solange Kayisire.

The instruments will now head to parliament for ratification.

During the Kigali meeting by continental leaders, it was agreed at with 22 ramifications, the protocol can go into force.

Meanwhile, in a boost to the newly created Rwanda Investigation Bureau (RIB), the cabinet approved an order by the Prime Minister

determining modalities of transfer of 463 personnel and assets related to criminal investigation from the National Police to RIB.

The bureau will operate as a specialised public organ under the oversight of the Ministry of Justice, just like the Rwanda National Police, Rwanda Correctional Services and the National Public Prosecution Authority among others.

On Tuesday, Colonel Jeannot Ruhunga was sworn in as it’s Director General while Isabelle Kalihangabo took oath as Deputy Director General.

Shake up at REB

Other major announcements from the cabinet include the sacking of some five heads of department in Rwanda Education Board and these included the following;

Dr. Joyce Musabe who was Head of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Resources

Department; Dr. Tusiime Rwibasira Michael, Head of Examinations, Selection and

Assessment Department; and Peter Mujiji who was relieved of his duties as Head of Corporate Division.

Others are Francis Karegesa, the director of finance and Rutaha Bagaya, the head of procurement unit.


SOURCE: The New Times

Army worm (file photo).

U.S. Committed to Stop Spread of Fall Army Worm in Africa

The US government has expressed its commitment to pursue partnership with African nations in the fight against stopping the spread of fall armyworm.

Army worm (file photo).
Army worm (file photo).

In her telephonic press briefing about efforts to combat fall armyworm in Africa to day, USAID Fall Armyworm Task Force Coordinator Regina Eddy said the worm has been identified in over 35 countries of Africa.

She revealed that the US has a decade of experience in controlling fall armyworm so the challenge is transferring that knowledge to African counterparts and opening the path to thousands of technology.

The worm has damaged about 3 million hectares of maize crop since it occurred in Africa two years ago. Additionally, agriculture experts estimate the pest has caused over 13 billion USD in losses for crops across African countries.

To combat the pest in Ethiopia, the US government has been working with government and the private sector on making recommendations on the measures to be taken based on experience, Eddy said.

A total of 210 experts and development agents were reportedly trained early this year so that they can cascade the knowledge and skills to communities, it was learned.

The fall army worm has spread in more than 5 regions of Ethiopia.


SOURCE: Ethiopian News Agency (Addis Ababa)

Breast Ironing

Breast ironing: the Silent archaic African practice for the “Good of Girls”

By Kylie Kiunguyu


Breast ironing, a traditional practice commonly done in Cameroon, is the use of hard or heated objects like a wooden pestle or scalding grinding stones to stop or slow the development of breasts in young girls, supposedly to “protect them from sexual harassment, rape and early pregnancy”.

Breast Ironing


Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) stands as one of the most horrific forms of injustice done to young girls on the continent. Its effects and consequences are well known and activists are hopeful that the world will see the end of the practice within a generation. But there are other harmful forms of mutilation that African girls face under the guise of protection and the preservation of virtue. Unlike the highly publicised FGM, which claims to ensure cleanliness and better marriage prospects, prevent promiscuity and preserve virginity, breast ironing is a silent practice done to combat the scourge of gender-based violence. However, like FGM, breast-ironing has been identified by the UN as one of five under-reported crimes relating to gender-based violence.

According to Wikipedia, breast ironing is typically carried out by the girl’s mother to ‘protect’ the girl from sexual harassment and rape, prevent early pregnancy that would tarnish the family name and allow the girl to pursue education rather than be forced into early marriage.

Breast ironing is mostly practiced in parts of Cameroon, where the perception by boys and men is that if a girls breasts have begun to grow’, she is ready for sex. The most widely used implement for breast ironing is a wooden pestle normally used for pounding tubers. This is followed by leaves, bananas, coconut shells, grinding stones, ladles, spatulas, and hammers heated over coals.

The practice has also been reported across West and Central Africa, in Benin, Chad, Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, Guinea-Conakry, Kenya, Togo and lower down in Zimbabwe.

Modern Reasons

One wonders what place such an unnatural practice would have in a modern, enlightened African society. Breast ironing in recent times has been accredited to the earlier onset of puberty, caused by dietary improvements in Cameroon over the last 50 years. The mutilation is designed to make teenage girls look less “womanly” to deter unwanted male attention, which could lead to all the aforementioned consequences.

Statistics show that half of Cameroonian girls who develop under the age of nine have their breasts ironed, and 38% of those who develop under the age of 11. According to a 2011 German development agency GIZ report, one out of every 10 Cameroonian girls has been subjected to breast ironing.

Magdalena Randall-Schab, from the UK National Committee for UN Women, said to Express in 2015: “These violent acts are not only perpetrated by men on women, but by older generations of women on young girls. The issues therefore are quite complex as we are dealing with deep-seated cultural beliefs, but there is a need to help people to see that however well-intentioned they may believe their acts to be, they are acts of violence.”

The practice cuts across socio-economic barriers, but rather than use barbaric tools such as stones and hammers, the rich opt to use an elastic belt to compress the developing breasts, thus preventing them from growing.

The website of London-based charity Women’s and Girl’s Development Organisation (Cawogido) states: “Breast ironing is a well-kept secret between the young girl and her mother. Often the father remains completely unaware. The girl believes that what her mother is doing is for her own good and she keeps silent. This silence perpetuates the phenomenon and all of its consequences.”

Health Consequences

Breast ironing is extremely painful and can cause tissue damage. Even though there have been no medical studies on its effects, medical experts warn it might contribute to breast cancer, cysts, depression, and perhaps interfere with breastfeeding later in life.

Other possible side-effects reported by the German development agency GIZ include breast infections, formation of abscesses, malformed breasts and the complete stunting of one or both breasts. Due to the range in the severity of the practice, from using heated leaves to press and massage the breasts, to using scalding grinding stones to crush the budding gland, health consequences vary from benign to acute.

Eradication

Unfortunately, because of the highly clandestine nature of the practice and that it is perpetuated by women in their family settings, eradication would be difficult.

There is no known law against breast ironing, despite efforts by survivors and rights agencies to get the governments to ban the practice. Additionally, no one has been arrested or convicted in Cameroon for breast ironing despite the over 4 million victims.

Read: Fighting violence against women and patriarchy: Leave no one behind

A GIZ survey found that 39% of Cameroonian women opposed breast ironing, with 41 percent expressing support and 26% being indifferent. This indicates that the best bet for eradication is education. A UNICEF report indicates that the motives behind the practice are obviously ineffective as flattened breasts have not reduced the rate of teenage pregnancies and rape incidents. The report states that 38% of children in Cameroon are married by their 18th birthday; that more than a quarter of adolescent girls are mothers; and 20% of them drop out of school after getting pregnant.

Making this information widely known in the countries and communities where the practice is done, as well as stressing the heavy physical and psychological consequences, may begin an upward trend towards eradication.

Speaking about the less commonly known forms of gender-based violence, well intentioned or not, will mean a future where Africa’s daughters are not taught to be quiet as they are mutilated and tortured for tradition or as some kind of convoluted protection. Society’s refusal to lay the burden of sexual and gender-based violence solely with the perpetrators is the reason young female victims suffer tenfold.

The fact that young girls experience torture and mutilation in anticipation of possible gender violence is an indication that patriarchy must end, not just for the good of woman kind but for the betterment of all mankind.

“Don’t teach your daughters to be careful, teach your sons not to rape!”


SOURCE: This is Africa (Hilversum)

Salma al-Majidi at work.

The Sudanese football team coached by a woman

Salma El Majidi is the first Arab and Sudanese woman to coach a men’s football team in the Arab world.

Salma al-Majidi at work.


“I became a coach because there is still no scope for women’s football in Sudan,” El Majidi told an AFP reporter in eastern Sudan’s El Gedaref where she trains players of the El Ahly El Gedaref club.

Daughter of a retired policeman, Majidi was 16 when she fell in love with football. It came about as she watched her younger brother’s school team being coached. She was captivated by the coach’s instructions, his moves, and how he placed the marker cones at practice sessions, the AFP report reads.

“At the end of every training session, I discussed with him the techniques he used to coach the boys,” El Majidi said. “He saw I had a knack for coaching… and gave me a chance to work with him.”

Soon she was coaching the under-13 and under-16 teams of El Hilal club in Omdurman, the twin city of Khartoum. Later she coached the Sudanese second league men’s clubs of El Nasir, El Nahda, Nile Halfa and El Morada.

She is acknowledged by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) as the first Arab and Sudanese woman to coach a men’s football team in the Arab world.

“There are restrictions on women’s football, but I’m determined to succeed,” El Majidi said. She had to convince her family first before she could proceed with her dreams. She now dreams of coaching an international team.

Women football

Nowadays, Sudan has only one women’s football team, the Women’s Challenge Team. It was established by a group of young Sudanese women at the Comboni playground in downtown Khartoum in 2001.

The team played its first competitive match in 2006. Eight years later, in 2014, the members, divided into two teams, played a match in Khartoum. They women players were cheered by large numbers of fans, representatives of civil society organisations, and some foreign diplomats.

The team continues to lack recognition of FIFA. In 2012, in response to a question from FIFA regarding the feasibility of creating a women team, the Islamic Fiqh Council in Sudan issued a fatwa (a religious order) deeming a women’s football team “an immoral act”.

The coach of the Women’s Challenge Team, Ahmed Babikir, told Al Jazeera in 2015 that Sudan used to have many women’s teams in the past. “We need to go back to that,” he said. “FIFA should not provide the Sudanese Football Association with any funding until they form more women’s teams and support existing ones.”


SOURCE: Radio Dabanga (Amsterdam)

Israel suspends plan to deport African migrants


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he was putting on hold an agreement with the U.N. refugee agency to relocate thousands of African migrants to Western countries.

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Hours after announcing the deal Netanyahu posted a message on his Facebook page saying he was putting it on hold until further review.

Under the agreement some 16,250 migrants would have been resettled in Western nations, including Canada, Italy and Germany, Netanyahu announced earlier Monday. The same number will be given residency in Israel, he said.

But soon after the announcement, officials at the German Interior Ministry and Italian Foreign Ministry said they were unaware of any plans to resettle African migrants in their countries.

Jean-Nicolas Beuze of the UNHCR in Ottawa told CBC News that Canada has not made any formal commitment but things are “being discussed.

Israel is home to roughly 35,000 African migrants, most of them from Eritrea, which has one of the world’s worst human rights records, or war-torn Sudan. The migrants say they are asylum-seekers fleeing danger and persecution, while Israeli leaders have claimed they are merely job seekers.

Netanyahu’s right-wing government rejects claims by the Africans that they are refugees, describing them as “infiltrators” and economic migrants.

The migrants also have become a political issue, with religious and conservative politicians portraying the presence of Muslim and Christian Africans as a threat to Israel’s Jewish character.

A group of residents of southern Tel Aviv, where many of the migrants have settled, immediately denounced the new plan in a statement, calling it “a shame for the state of Israel”.

Netanyahu said he would meet on Tuesday with residents of southern Tel Aviv.


SOURCE: Voice of America

Crack in East African Rift Valley may split the whole Africa


A large crack, stretching several kilometres, made a sudden appearance recently in south-western Kenya. The tear, which continues to grow, caused part of the Nairobi-Narok highway to collapse and was accompanied by seismic activity in the area.

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The Earth is an ever-changing planet, even though in some respects change might be almost unnoticeable to us. Plate tectonics is a good example of this. But every now and again something dramatic happens and leads to renewed questions about the African continent splitting in two.

The Earth’s lithosphere (formed by the crust and the upper part of the mantle) is broken up into a number of tectonic plates. These plates are not static, but move relative to each other at varying speeds, “gliding” over a viscous asthenosphere. Exactly what mechanism or mechanisms are behind their movement is still debated, but are likely to include convection currents within the asthenosphere and the forces generated at the boundaries between plates.

These forces do not simply move the plates around, they can also cause plates to rupture, forming a rift and potentially leading to the creation of new plate boundaries. The East African Rift system is an example of where this is currently happening.

The East African Rift Valley stretches over 3,000km from the Gulf of Aden in the north towards Zimbabwe in the south, splitting the African plate into two unequal parts: the Somali and Nubian plates. Activity along the eastern branch of the rift valley, running along Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania, became evident when the large crack suddenly appeared in southwestern Kenya.

Why does rifting happen?

When the lithosphere is subject to a horizontal extensional force it will stretch, becoming thinner. Eventually, it will rupture, leading to the formation of a rift valley.

This process is accompanied by surface manifestations along the rift valley in the form of volcanism and seismic activity. Rifts are the initial stage of a continental break-up and, if successful, can lead to the formation of a new ocean basin. An example of a place on Earth where this has happened is the South Atlantic ocean, which resulted from the break up of South America and Africa around 138m years ago – ever noticed how their coastlines match like pieces of the same puzzle?.

Continental rifting requires the existence of extensional forces great enough to break the lithosphere. The East African Rift is described as an active type of rift, in which the source of these stresses lies in the circulation of the underlying mantle. Beneath this rift, the rise of a large mantle plume is doming the lithosphere upwards, causing it to weaken as a result of the increase in temperature, undergo stretching and breaking by faulting.

Evidence for the existence of this hotter-than-normal mantle plume has been found in geophysical data and is often referred to as the “African Superswell”. This superplume is not only a widely-accepted source of the pull-apart forces that are resulting in the formation of the rift valley but has also been used to explain the anomalously high topography of the Southern and Eastern African Plateaus.

Breaking up isn’t easy

Rifts exhibit a very distinctive topography, characterised by a series of fault-bounded depressions surrounded by higher terrain. In the East African system, a series of aligned rift valleys separated from each other by large bounding faults can be clearly seen from space.

Not all of these fractures formed at the same time, but followed a sequence starting in the Afar region in northern Ethiopia at around 30m years ago and propagating southwards towards Zimbabwe at a mean rate of between 2.5-5cm a year.

Although most of the time rifting is unnoticeable to us, the formation of new faults, fissures and cracks or renewed movement along old faults as the Nubian and Somali plates continue moving apart can result in earthquakes.

However, in East Africa most of this seismicity is spread over a wide zone across the rift valley and is of relatively small magnitude. Volcanism running alongside is a further surface manifestation of the ongoing process of continental break up and the proximity of the hot molten asthenosphere to the surface.

A timeline in action

The East African Rift is unique in that it allows us to observe different stages of rifting along its length. To the south, where the rift is young, extension rates are low and faulting occurs over a wide area. Volcanism and seismicity are limited.

Towards the Afar region, however, the entire rift valley floor is covered with volcanic rocks. This suggests that, in this area, the lithosphere has thinned almost to the point of complete break up. When this happens, a new ocean will begin forming by the solidification of magma in the space created by the broken-up plates. Eventually, over a period of tens of millions of years, seafloor spreading will progress along the entire length of the rift. The ocean will flood in and, as a result, the African continent will become smaller and there will be a large island in the Indian Ocean composed of parts of Ethiopia and Somalia, including the Horn of Africa.

Dramatic events, such as sudden motorway-splitting faults or large catastrophic earthquakes may give continental rifting a sense of urgency but, most of the time, it goes about splitting Africa without anybody even noticing.


SOURCE: The Conversation Africa

Mauritania court sentence slave owners 20 years in jail

A court in Mauritania has sentenced two slave owners to between 10 and 20 years in jail. Human rights activists have celebrated the ruling, which they say is the harshest anti-slavery decision in the country’s history.

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The two cases were brought by former slaves in the northwestern town of Nouadhibou, activists said Friday.

A special court delivered its verdict on Wednesday, jailing a man for 20 years and a woman for 10 years, a judicial source said.

The man was found guilty of enslaving a family, including two children, while the woman was accused of holding three sisters as slaves.

“This is a big victory,” Jakub Sobik of Anti-Slavery International told news agency Reuters. “The sentences are quite high and in line with the law, which is by no means a given.”

Slavery still common

Mauritania has one of the highest rates of slavery in the world, even though the practice was officially abolished there in 1981. According to the 2016 Global Slavery Index, 1 in 100 people still live as slavesin the conservative West African country.

Despite the law, descendants of certain ethnic groups are often born into slavery, working without pay as cattle herders and domestic servants.

In 2015, Mauritania adopted a new law declaring slavery a “crime against humanity” punishable by up to 20 years in jail. It also set up specialized anti-slavery tribunals in Nouadhibou, the capital Noukachott and in Nema in the southeast.

Few slave owners have been prosecuted, however, and activists complain the laws are rarely enforced. In 2016, the court in Nema jailed two men for five years over slavery charges.

The head of anti-slavery association SOS Esclavage, Boubacar Ould Messaoud, praised the latest rulings, but noted that there were a number of similar cases “pending for several years” at the three courts.

At the same time, rights groups say they face growing repression and harassment, with more anti-slavery activists than slave-owners facing prosecution.

African designers pull out all stops for fashion week


Cape Town — If you couldn’t make it to the African Fashion International’s Cape Town Fashion Week, don’t worry I’ve got you covered.

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You know it’s going to be a great series of shows when you’re greeted with free drinks. Come on, who doesn’t like freebies?!

This year’s theme was #IamAfrica. The show celebrated and showcased exceptional African creative talent on a global stage. The show included designers from Ghana, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal, Kenya, Tanzania, Congo Kinshasa and Nigeria.

The show opened with one of South Africa’s top designers Gavin Rajah showcasing his latest range.  His new range bursting with colour and Japan-inspired designs. From there onwards, other designers brought us “magic”.  The creativity, the art, the runaway, the music and the crowd – everything was lit. Some of us, even wondered if we could ever pull off some of these fashion designers clothes.

Inspired by bold, vibrant, and authentic African spirit, the show was hosted at one of South Africa’s iconic spaces – Salt River Film Studios –  an old compound of railway blacksmiths’ workshops turned world-class studio and events facility.

Audiences and photographers scrambled to capture moments as models paraded classic African collections. The AFI show brought people from all over the continent to come and witness what African talent can deliver and we are proud that we weren’t disappointed. This season saw new textures and embellishments make their debut.

Remember when we said we got you covered, here are some of the highlights and our favourites…

The shows took us on an indigenous journey with a touch of high fashion from each and every designer representing their country. Moroccan designer, Salima Abdel-Wahab gave the audience a taste of her culture. She showcased high fashion clothes inspired by threads.

Imprint’s Mzukisi Mbane is a local talent is one designer you need to know.  This showstopper designer made the crowd go wild with his designs. Mzukisi is known for his electrifying prints, and he makes  clothing and accessories that narrate the stories of our African ancestors. The fashion brand was created more than five years ago and I’m so glad to see it growing. It creates fashion-forward style pieces rooted in street wear and vintage influence. As the name suggests, we are happy to see it leave such an impression, an Imprint, on the audiences!

How can we not mention talented designer Nobukhosi Nkosi – known for her fashion brand Khosi Nkosi. We loved about these designs is that it incorporated all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t matter if you are tall, short, small or curvy. It celebrated all women.  These are the positive messages we need to be sharing with world. And to make it more exciting, Khosi Nkosi picked a curvy model to walk the runway and oh my Oyama stole the show… way to go girl!!!

For the first time, the AFI platform showcased a jewellery and accessory designer, Adele Dejak, from Kenya. Her designs are handcrafted, luxury fashion accessories – inspired by the continent, its tradition of adornment and its immense cultural heritage. Designer Adama Paris showed off all that West Africa has to offer with a collection that celebrates urban Senegal.

Other fashion designers that showed their collections included South African design favourites such as Laduma Ngoxolo for MaXhosa, Nicholas Couuts, Craig Port and Fashion Revolution.

Africa is blessed with a rich history of tradition and culture, and we are glad to have designers who try to incorporate all of this and keep the continent beaming with pride.

Dozens killed in DR Congo’s Ituri

Ethnic strife in nation’s northeast claims dozens of lives in 48 hours after flight of tens of thousands since December.

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Ethnic strife in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has claimed dozens of lives in recent days, according to officials.

Local civil society leader Jean Bosco Lalu told Reuters news agency on Tuesday that at least 40 people had been killed in ethnic violencebetween Hema herders and Lendu farmers in Ituri province in the last 48 hours.

A government official said they had recorded 30 deaths, AFP news agency said.

“There are certainly other bodies out in the bush. A search is under way,” a government official told AFP.

Willy Maese, deputy administrator in Djugu, said hundreds of homes were set on fire in an attack on two villages on Sunday.

At least 130 people have been killed in an outbreak of violence which started in Ituri in December.

Tens of thousands have fled the violence, including more than 27,000 who have crossed Lake Albert into Uganda.

In the second week of February alone, thousands arrived in Uganda by fishing boats or canoes each day amid reports that armed men had killed civilians and more than 1,000 houses had been burned down in Ituri’s Djugu.

A decades-old conflict between the Hema and Lendu killed tens of thousands between 1998 and 2003. In recent years, the two groups have maintained a low-level conflict with occasional flare-ups in violence.

Last year, the conflict forced 1.7 million people across the DRC to flee their homes.

South African community using crowd funding to get toilets


“Everyone in the community donates as much money as they can. We buy the materials and we build these [pit] toilets ourselves,” says community leader Nyoni Mazibuko.


Mazibuko lives in Mzondi Informal Settlement, established two years ago in Ivory Park, East of Johannesburg. There are now about 300 shacks in Mzondi. The community has built 14 toilets.

The community started a Thundafund page to raise money for materials to build the toilets. But with only days to go to reach the 20 March deadline to raise the R41,250 needed for “tipping point”, zero has been pledged by the public so far.

Mazibuko said ideally they would like to have one toilet per shack. “But we don’t have the money to buy the materials. Many people who live here are unemployed, so they cannot contribute,” he said.

The makeshift toilet structures are made of zinc sheets, wood and scrap materials. One is a flush toilet. Only those who have contributed to it have access to it. Mazibuko said it cost about R3,000 to build.

Sharen Maaneke has lived in Mzondi for two years. Before that, she lived in Lindokuhle, a neighbourhood in Ivory Park, where she rented a place for R600 per month. She could not keep up the rent as she was unemployed. She moved to Mzondi where she built a shack for herself and her two children.

“I waited more than 30 minutes to use the toilet this morning. There are also worms in the toilets sometimes,” said Maaneke.

Margret Mabene said, “We try to keep these toilets as clean as possible but with about 100 people sharing the same toilet, this [smell] is what you get.”

“When we think about using the toilet, we feel dirty. We feel like we don’t have human dignity, but we have nowhere else to live, so we just have to make the best of it. This is why we are building our own toilets,” said Mabene.

Mazibuko said evictions were carried out by the Red Ants in May 2017. The community returned and rebuilt two weeks later. After that, they met with the Mayoral Committee Member for Human Settlements Lesiba Mpya in July 2017. Mazibuko said the community is still waiting to hear if Mzondi will be formally recognised.

Nombuso Nkosi, a media officer for the Ekurhuleni Municipality, said the municipality was aware of the “recently established informal settlement”, but it had obtained a court order in September last year allowing it to evict and demolish the shacks.

She said the community leaders approached the Water and Sanitation Department about the lack of toilets in the community, but the municipality could not build toilets because the “City of Ekurhuleni has the eviction order to give effect to demolishing and removing of those shacks”.


SOURCE: GroundUp

Africa is still the dumping ground for used clothes from America

ANALYSIS 


Africa has become a dumping ground for used clothes from the West where it often costs more to dispose of clothing than to export it. This has had a negative impact on local economies and the dignity of Africans. Domestic capital in the industry and the domestic consumer market has been decimated in many African countries.

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Jessica Kiyingi, a vendor at Kampala’s Owino market, selling second-hand clothes. Photo: Jimmy Siya/The Independent

When the East African Community (EAC) resolved to prioritise the development of a competitive domestic textile and leather sector to provide affordable clothes and leather products in the region, this was a positive step towards determining its own development path. India’s textile sector is an example of an inward domestic driven structure.

By limiting the size of textile and garment producers, India encouraged small business, mostly family run. India produces textile and garments that are uniquely Indian and despite the transformation of the sector since 2000, with increased imports changing clothing styles in India and an increased focus on exports, the textile and garment sector is the second largest employer after agriculture in India in a decentralised manufacturing structure that has localised benefits of the garment value chain.

However in a world dominated by neoliberal globalisation, such inward orientated strategies offering domestic protections and privileges have been under attack. Tanzania, once very insular under Julius Nyerere who focused on development, in particular rural cooperative development, found too impossible to push back on the conservative agenda of global economic powers in the 1980s. A year before Nyerere stepped down from power in 1985, Tanzania succumbed to pressure from the Bretton Woods institutions, liberalising trade policy.

The consequent liberalisation of tariff lines along with structural adjustment policies have created economic sectors based on export based growth and dependent on foreign direct investment. As the result of liberalisation, policy shifted towards export led growth in textile and garment which has not developed the sector; instead Tanzania’s cotton leaves the country unprocessed and second hand clothing, as well as cheap and illegal imports have flooded the country.

Export led growth in the Africa’s garment sector has focused on the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) that has created a complete dependence of African garment workers and the communities they support on the United States market and legislature.

This has resulted in high levels of flight risk in foreign producers that have set up shop in African countries to take advantage of the access to the US market under AGOA, resulting in highly vulnerable low paid employment. For Tanzania, garment exports under AGOA to the US was valued at US $25 million in 2015, this is substantial given that all exports are from only two factories, Mazava in Morogoro and Tooku in Dar es Salaam, with a total employment of 4,000 workers.

The development of the industry under current trade dispensations has failed to significantly develop full value chain production in Tanzania from cotton through spinning, weaving, knitting, design and finished goods production processes. The Tanzanian government has been at the forefront of pushing for a shift in the EAC to locally produced garment consumption in order to reduce foreign market and producer dependency and to stimulate economic activity. The EAC announced in 2016 that it would consider a complete ban on the importation of second hand clothing as a vital first step to stimulate a localised value chain and the import tariff was raised on second hand clothing.

In March 2017, the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) submitted a petition to the US Trade Representative requesting an out-of-cycle review to determine whether EAC countries are meeting the AGOA eligibility criteria. The SMART petition asserts a ban on imports of used clothing and footwear is imposing significant economic hardship on the US used clothing industry, and is in violation of the AGOA statutory eligibility criteria to make continual progress toward establishing a market based economy and eliminating barriers to US trade and investment. Acting Assistant US Trade Representative for Africa, Constance Hamilton, told the AGOA Forum held in Togo in August 2017 that the AGOA criteria is very clear about not putting in place bans or restrictions on US products and said if the EAC turns down used clothing from US, 40,000 people would be out of jobs in US.

While the US government is clearly concerned about its own companies and workers in the used clothing sector, in Tanzania there are also tens of thousands of informal sector workers and their families that were dependent on the trade in second hand clothing, already suffering by the sharp decline in second hand clothing imports in Tanzania as a result of the increased tariffs in 2016. The labour market has not been able to absorb the impact of the decline in trade in second hand clothing in Tanzania on informal sector employment

Kenya, which has the largest garment sector amongst the EAC countries and produces predominantly for the US, chose to suspend the tariff on used clothing because of the risk of a backlash from the US which could mean losing AGOA. The outcome of the out-of-cycle review has been the temporarily suspension of Uganda, Rwanda and Tanzania from duty-free access to US and AGOA for all eligible exports until they reverse plans towards a ban.

EAC countries including Tanzania lack a sufficient domestic garment production base to meet domestic need with local or regional production. Thus cheap imports from countries like China will fill the market gap created by the ban in used clothing. The potential for social and economic deprivation as a result of the withdrawal of AGOA and the lack of a domestic base to absorb the impact of a ban are very real.

However the forces at play show the limited space developing countries have for economic self-determination. This move towards a common action plan aimed at developing regional value chain in the textile and garment industry position indicates a desire in the EAC to articulate and implement an African approach for the best utilisation of African resources within the region, with a greater focus on domestic consumption.

Producing affordable clothes and leather products in the region for local consumption could assist in the reduction of poverty, stabilise employment and improve the social wellbeing and the dignity of East African communities. It could also acknowledge and include informal sector traders in regional value chain developments.

Instead EAC countries have bowed to pressure from the US, announcing in a February 2018 joint statement of EAC presidents that partner states would focus on building the textile and footwear sectors in a manner that does not jeopardise AGOA benefits. The US acting director for Economic and Regional Affairs, Harry Sullivan has patronisingly suggested that it would be most effective if the domestic growth strategy focused on building brands and markets for the middle class rather than banning used clothing. Certainly this is most effective for the US and the used clothing and footwear that they dump on Africa’s poor.


*Aisha Bahadur is a consultant providing strategic support to civil society organisations including trade unions focussed on African issues.

Five Congolese soldiers ‘killed by Rwandan army’

At least five Congolese soldiers have been killed by the Rwandan army, the Congolese military says.


Gen Bruno Mandevu said the clash occurred in the famous Virunga National Park, on Congolese territory – a claim Rwanda denied.

He said the Congolese troops initially thought they were fighting one of the many rebel groups active in the area.

A Rwandan army spokesman told the BBC that it was Congolese troops who had crossed the border.

Rwanda has twice invaded its much larger neighbour, sparking decades of conflict.

Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, across the border with Rwanda, remains deeply unstable.

Thousands on verge of starvation in Mozambique

More than 8,000 people are on the verge of starvation in Mozambique after one region’s crops were largely destroyed, says a regional official.

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Maize is the main crop grown in the region (stock picture). Photo: Reuters

It is thought more than 100 hectares of farmland in Motaze, southern Maputo province, were wiped out after being hit by rain shortages and a caterpillar infestation.

Isabel Tembisa, head of the Motaze administrative post, says the situation is critical – particularly given the fact the main crop destroyed is maize, the region’s main staple food.

She said:

Under normal circumstances, the maize fields are all green at this period of the year. The maize that was flowering has now dried up. What we are now expecting, in the coming month or two, are pockets of hunger.

In terms of the maize caterpillar pest, we are experiencing similar problems. The maize that was in the blossoming phase has also suffered the effects of the pest. All the maize has been damaged.”

Cyril Ramaphosa declared president of South Africa as Zuma resigns

Former anti-apartheid activist Cyril Ramaphosa replaces Jacob Zuma after he dramatically resigned.

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Cyril Ramaphosa arrives at parliament in Cape Town to be sworn in as president. Photo: Mike Hutchings/AFP/Getty Images

Cyril Ramaphosa has been elected president of South Africa by a parliamentary vote, less than 16 hours after his rival Jacob Zuma resigned after days of defiantly refusing to leave office.

The appointment as head of state of Ramaphosa, 65, who became interim leader following Zuma’s late-night resignation on Wednesday, was announced by South Africa’s chief justice in Cape Town, who presided over the vote.

Ramaphosa, wearing a dark suit and red tie, sat quietly while lawmakers from the ruling African National Congress stood, clapped and sang in celebration. He was elected unopposed.

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South African MPs sing and raise their hands as Ramaphosa is sworn in. He was elected unopposed. Photograph: Rodger Bosch/AFP/Getty Images

In a short speech, the former deputy president reached out to opposition parties, telling parliamentarians that “South Africa must come first in everything we do” and pledging to fight corruption.

“This is not yet uhuru (freedom). We have never said it is uhuru. We are going to seek to improve the lives of our people on an ongoing basis, and since 1994, we have done precisely that,” Ramaphosa said.

The ANC has a substantial majority in parliament and the vote was effectively a formality. Although deeply divided, the party has already closed ranks after the crisis of recent days and rallied around Ramaphosa.

Party officials who nominated him described the president as “a revolutionary cadre who has served the people of South Africa all his life and will strength the unity of our country”.

Patrick Maesela, an ANC MP, said: “Africa and the world are pinning their hopes on your revolutionary leadership.”

The Economic Freedom Fighters, a radical leftwing opposition party, walked out of parliament, saying the assembly was illegitimate and new elections were necessary.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, offered congratulations and said his party would “cooperate” if the president “acts in the interests of the people of South Africa”. Maimane said the country did not have a “Jacob Zuma problem but … an ANC problem”.

Ramaphosa, a former anti-apartheid activist turned successful businessman, is the standard bearer for the moderate, reformist faction of the ANC. Zuma, 75, represented the party’s more populist, nationalist elements, commentators said.

The latter’s resignation put an end to an intense political crisis that threatened to inflict significant damage on the ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the country’s first free elections in 1994.

In a televised address to the nation late on Wednesday, Zuma said he was a disciplined member of the party, to which he had dedicated his life.

“I fear no motion of no confidence or impeachment,” he said. “I will continue to serve the people of South Africa and the ANC. I will dedicate my life to continuing to work for the execution of the policies of our organisation.

“The ANC should never be divided in my name. I have therefore come to the decision to resign as president of the republic with immediate effect.”

Ajay Gupta, one of the three Gupta brothers accused of having improper links to Zuma, was declared a fugitive from justice on Thursday after failing to hand himself in to police.

Zuma, who has led the ANC since 2007 and been South Africa’s president since 2009, was due to leave power next year. His tenure was marred by economic decline and multiple charges of graft, undermining the image and legitimacy of the party that led the struggle against apartheid.

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African National Congress supporters celebrate outside parliament in Cape Town. Photo: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

The crisis of recent days has further damaged the ANC, as well as angering many South Africans, who are becoming increasingly impatient with the party’s opaque internal procedures.

In December, Ramaphosa won a bitterly fought ANC leadership election. Party strategists wanted Zuma to be sidelined as quickly as possible, to allow the ANC to regroup before campaigning starts for elections in 2019.

The party suffered significant setbacks in municipal polls in 2016 and could be forced into a coalition government at the national level, experts have said.

As president, Ramaphosa will have to balance the need to reassure foreign investors and local businesses with the intense popular demand for dramatic measures to address South Africa’s deep problems. The former trade union leader has said South Africa is coming out of a “period of uncertainty, a period of darkness, and getting into a new phase”.

Richard Calland, an expert in South African politics at the University of Cape Town, said Ramaphosa would have “the chance to rebuild government and the party at the same time”.

In recent days, the rand has strengthened and many analysts have revised upwards their predictions of South Africa’s economic growth.

After Zuma’s address, the ANC immediately closed ranks. Jessie Duarte, the party’s deputy secretary general, told reporters the ANC was “not celebrating” at a “very painful moment”.

Shops, schools shut during Oromia stay-at-home protest

Businesses and schools are closed, and transport was disrupted to and from Lege T’afo, on the eastern outskirt of Addis Abeba, as the stay-at-home protest in Oromia enters its second day.

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Businesses and schools are closed, and transport was disrupted to and from Lege T’afo, on the eastern outskirt of Addis Abeba, as the stay-at-home protest in Oromia enters its second day. Photo: Addis Standard

Smoke was seen pluming from burning tyres near Ropak Real Estate, a wealthy neighborhood, and AS reporters and a photographer saw a heavy police presence on alert starting from Yeka.

All taxis, buses and Bajajs are not going to Lege T’afo currently. More members of the Addis Abeba police commission were seen arriving in the area, while transport to Lege T’afo still disrupted. A resident near Ropak real estate told AS many residents were unable to get transport to go to work.


SOURCE: Addis Standard (Addis Ababa) 

Eastern Nigeria: The hope for Nigeria's economic revolution

Eastern Nigeria: The hope for Nigeria’s economic revolution

How Nigeria’s new industrial revolutionaries are trying to turn Enugu back into ground zero for a new wave of economic transformation.

Eastern Nigeria: The hope for Nigeria's economic revolution


President Muhammadu Buhari could not have been more explicit. Speaking to the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria during the body’s annual general meeting in Abuja back in September 2016, he said: “This administration is convinced that the key to our quest for economic diversification and therefore survival lies in agriculture and manufacturing.” With falling oil revenue and the desperate need to boost exports to bring in foreign exchange, factory owners dared to believe that their needs were going to be taken seriously.

And why not? Because before oil became king, Nigerian industrial revolutionaries did exactly that. The technocratic government of Michael Okpara, premier of the eastern region between 1959 and 1966, for example, set about making the region a hub of agricultural and industrial revolution.

Nigeria will not simply be able to flick a switch to industrialise. It will need to rediscover the powerful manufacturing bases of its past to muster some of the expertise, and lean on existing infrastructure. There are flickers of this happening in Kaduna State (see page 42). And in the east, there is a formidable hub in the making.

2.4% NIGERIA gdp growth forecast in 2017 - SOURCE: BMI RESEARCH

FISCAL FEDERALISM

Okpara made it a priority to build infrastructure and businesses in each of the nine states in the former eastern region – one of three regions in the newly independent Nigeria. And because each region was in charge of its own spending – known as fiscal federalism – Okpara could use tax from agricultural produce to fund projects. Some of the significant ones include the Trans Amadi Industrial Complex in Port Harcourt, Obudu Cattle Ranch and Resort, and the Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation’s rubber and palm plantations. But Okpara was also one of the founding fathers of the prestigious University of Nigeria and key to the launching of cement factories, breweries and textile mills.

These projects were part of a blueprint conceived by him, alongside Nnamdi Azikiwe, his predecessor, and Mbonu Ojike, the brilliant economist who conceived the 10-year eastern Nigerian economic reconstruction plan (1954-1964). Both men served during Azikiwe’s tenure as premier from 1954 to 1959 in his kitchen cabinet.

Fifty years on, this work forms the bedrock of south-eastern Nigeria’s coping mechanism for the effects of its weak infra­structure and federal neglect after the civil war. At the core of it remains Enugu, the region’s administrative capital and later that of the breakaway state of Biafra.

But long before Okpara, eastern Nigeria was the cradle of coal mining. “Enugu was originally a normal agrarian zone, before coal and then the advent of the miners who organised the government around the mining sector,” explains Sam Nwobodo, Enugu State’s commissioner of commerce and industry. “This brought further development. And then it was the headquarters of the old eastern region all the way to Port Harcourt, Calabar […]. As such, a lot of this old infrastructure was derived from Enugu.”

The government that Nwobodo serves wants to resuscitate Okpara’s legacy. Last December saw the groundbreaking ceremony for a free-trade zone. A Chinese firm also plans to build an industrial park in Emene, an industrial cluster within the city. Emene already houses the Akanu Ibiam Airport, which accounts for a large percentage of goods airfreighted into Onitsha, a city on the banks of the River Niger and home to the largest outdoor market in West Africa. It has flights to Guangzhou, Mumbai and Singapore.

Both projects could serve as a support base for the many small-scale textile and footwear manufacturers who already export to Togo, Ghana and Equatorial Guinea from their base in Aba, a city 176km south of Enugu city, the capital of Enugu State.

Meanwhile, next door to Onitsha is Nnewi, which has for decades been a hub of automobile parts and cable manufacturing. Producers there could link up with the infrastructure being built.

But without power, these plans will remain dreams on paper. Barth Nnaji, a former University of Pittsburgh professor of industrial engineering, and minister of power between 2011 and 2012, raised electricity generation to almost 5,000MW, Nigeria’s highest-ever generated capacity.

These days, he is putting finishing touches to the $530m four-turbine Geometric Power Plant, an independent power project designed to power Aba’s planned industrial revolution with an additional 1,125MW. As an embedded power plant, all power generated would remain within the city grid, with the excess going to the overburdened national grid.

Part of the funding for the power plant is due to come from a $100m injection from the Cairo-based Africa Export-Import Bank. Two other plants are also being built with the backing of General Electric, Orascom, and the China Machinery Engineering Corporation, as part of a plan to create a domino effect throughout the region within three to five years.

PRIVATE-SECTOR PUSH

“I can tell you that by next year, Aba will have uninterrupted power and it will be the first city in Nigeria to have that”, Nnaji tells The Africa Report in his country home in Enugu. “There’s a 27km gas pipeline completed, all the electrical infrastructure of 140km of overhead lines completed, four brand new 2 x 50 MVA substations have been completed, three existing Power Holding Company of Nigeria-owned substations have been refurbished for takeover by our company [Geometric Power]. I don’t run Nigeria’s power sector anymore, but people remember when I was running Nigeria’s power sector – how it was.”

Fuel consumption recovering - SOURCE: NNPC, BMIPart of the new gang of Eastern industrial revolutionaries, Nnaji has also established the Southeast Region Economic Development Company (SEREDEC) to shake up all the stakeholders working for the development of the region. “We want to work on initiatives which may not easily be undertaken by a state government but can be undertaken by the region of the five states combined, and really driven by the private sector, not pivoted on politics,” says Nnaji. “We want to look at rural networks for the region, so that there will be free movement of goods and people, to work on gas pipelines for the region.”

Given Enugu’s history of coal mining, many are arguing that the mineral should be on the front line to fire up an industrial revolution, rather than endlessly waiting for cleaner energy through gas pipelines that the federal government may never provide.

COAL IS CRUCIAL

“We’re going to build power plants here and work with those mining coal for coal-fired ones,” Nnaji insists. “The Western countries built their economies out of coal, the Chinese built their economy out of coal. America produces more than 1m megawatts – 40% of that is all coal […]. For the Chinese now, I don’t know what it is but probably up to 800,000MW, and 60% of that is coal. People will come and lecture us here about not using our good-quality coal […] I don’t know who is fooling who.”

Ufo Okeke-Uzodike, head of the African Heritage Institution, an Enugu-based think tank, agrees: “Coal is crucial to reindustrialisation in Nigeria. Nigeria is quite lucky […] we have a lot of coal. So we must use the coal. There’s no reason why the coal industry should be shut down. And now, also, there’s a way to clean coal.”

The absence of large-scale funding for local investors to tap into is also a familiar factor in the dampening of investor enthusiasm. “There was a war, the war ended and the people struggled to reinsert themselves into the corporate Nigerian state,” says Okeke-Uzodike. The region’s developmental progress “in many ways has actually taken substantial amounts of energy and resource-gathering because it is not as though you can [now] go to the bank and automatically walk out of the bank with money for seed capital.”

The eastern region is also home to Nigeria’s first indigenous car assembly plant, Innoson, which has the capacity to produce 10,000 cars annually. Innocent Chukwuma, chairman of the Innoson Group, says: “Commercial banks are not supporting manufacturers.” Talking to reporters, he said: “The only bank helping industries is the Bank of Industry, but it cannot serve all the industries in Nigeria.”

SEREDEC wants to change that. It has created the South-East Nigeria Development Fund (SENDEF) to finance industrial initiatives from the constituent state governments and the private sector. One of those already in progress includes an industrial park on 7,500ha of land in Aba that could launch in early 2018. The park will concentrate on improving exports in the leather products industry, garment industry and the machine tools sector.

“There are so many opportunities here. And once you begin to have the various industries crystallising, a lot of our people who operate industries in other parts of the country and West Africa will want to come here to build industries,” says an optimistic Nnaji.

One of the industries already making progress is Innoson. Its car and motor­cycle assembly plant in Nnewi has been churning out trucks, SUVs and saloon cars with a ‘Made in Nigeria’ seal since 2007. Some of its clients include the Enugu and Anambra state governments, which have deployed its coaches for interstate mass transit services. Innoson’s G12 series, a range of off-road light trucks, is being used by the Nigerian army in its north-east operations against the Islamist rebel group Boko Haram.

PARTS FOR JETS

Last July, Harimakan Keita, the mayor of Bamako, led a delegation on a factory tour of Innoson’s Nnewi plant and signed a memorandum of understanding for the export of 400 of its SUVs to Mali. In March, Innoson signed a deal with the Nigerian Air Force to supply spare parts for jets to fight Boko Haram. Innoson also has an Enugu plant that manufactures industrial plastics, electrical components and associated accessories.

Chinese investors, who have collaborated with the federal government in rail infrastructure, and with states like Ogun in establishing an industrial corridor, are also converging in southeast Nigeria in a private capacity. One such project is the completed Inner Galaxy steel Plant in Ukwa West, Abia State. Another Chinese firm, Hawtai, will begin to assemble SUVs later this year at the newly established Eastern Vehicle Assembling Limited plant in the Ninth Mile area, Enugu.

However, the lack of security in the region has long posed an existential challenge to industrialisation. Agitations for the secessionist state of Biafra resumed two decades ago and have picked up steam in recent years. Clashes between the army and ethnic militia groups ­occasionally turn bloody.

The issue of kidnapping of influential citizens and expatriate workers keeps bubbling to the surface every few months. “Some of our workers – expatriates from Eastern Europe – were kidnapped in the head base of Aba a few years ago,” says Nnaji. “They were released, but we had to negotiate, pay a ransom and all that. All kinds of challenges arise [without which] we would have been supplying electricity about three and half years ago.”

Local leaders in the east argue that this long list of problems – including infrastructure, finance and security – would be better tackled at a local level. They argue that, crucially, a small increase in self-determination would provoke an influx of talented emigrants.

1.9% NIGERIA growth in value expected in construction sector in 2017 - SOURCE: BMI RESEARCH

STRENGHT OF THE IGBO

Many members of the Igbo ethnic group from southeast Nigeria are entrepreneurial and travel in search of new opportunities. They have ended up as integral players in the development of other zones across Nigeria – especially in Lagos, the country’s commercial capital. In the diaspora, too, there are experts in manufacturing who choose to remain abroad.

So could a return to fiscal federalism and regional autonomy spark a mass return for many of them and a rise in fortunes for the eastern states? “If states were allowed to drive their own policies, their own activities and have their own vision outside of the centre, then I think we all would be much better off,” asserts the African Heritage Institution’s Okeke-Uzodike.

Southeast Nigeria is where the former ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) is strongest, so it is unlikely to see burgeoning cooperation between the area and Abuja. Enugu State’s governor since 2015 is PDP member Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who has a master’s in business administration, is a former member of the house of representatives, and said in August his goal is “making necessary and unrelenting efforts to sustain the business-friendly environment that already exists in the state”.

In the absence of devolution, adequate attention in the form of federal infrastructure would suffice for a region long seen as the springboard for a Nigerian industrial revolution. Can Nigeria seize the opportunity to make the trio of Azikiwe, Okpara and Ojike beam with pride in their graves?


SOURCE: The Bloomgist/More reporting by Africa Report

We dared to follow our dreams

We dared to follow our dreams

We dared to follow our dreams
Clockwise: Dr Joy Mugambi, Stephanie Wanga, Fredrick Kimemia, Emma Nkirote, Tony Mochama and Brian Onjoro share stories of daring to follow their dreams. PHOTO | CHARLES KAMAU, DENNIS ONSONGO AND COURTESY

Lack of proper career assessment in early stages of education as well as inadequate mentorship rank high up on the list of factors that lead many into wrong careers.

There is also the added confusion that comes in the form of the grade that we score in the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education exams that seems to be the key determinant of the course that we study in university, factors such as individual aptitude, interests and talents notwithstanding. Finally, there is pressure from parents and society in general to take up certain courses, the result being many individuals in careers they tolerate, rather than enjoy.

This week, we engage two groups: those that went to college to study for ‘prestigious’ college degrees they had no interest in, and those that rose above the poor grades they scored in high school to pursue their dream careers.

This feature is also a letter to parents and education stakeholders – it is time to lift the iron hand with which you pressure the youth to study courses they absolutely have no interest in.

DR JOY MUGAMBI, 43

Clinical officer to consultant family physician

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Her C grade in her final secondary school exams seemed to have completely erased her dream of studying medicine, but because of the desire that she had to become a medical doctor, she chose to put in the 11 years that she needed to become a medical doctor.

“I started with a diploma in clinical medicine, which took three years. After that, I worked for two years in Kiambu District Hospital and a year at Marie Stopes, Kenya. Afterwards, I travelled to Tanzania to study for my degree in Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery, which took six years. I then returned to Kenya, where I did my one year internship and then went on to work for three years. I got lucky to be partially sponsored by the government for my Master’s in Family Medicine, which took four years, but only because I took maternity leave in between,” she says. But Joy is not done yet, and plans to enrol for a PhD in medical ethics next year.

Her achievement did not come easy. The number one challenge was school fees, especially in her undergraduate level following her father’s death. It took the combined effort of her mother, sister and brother to keep her in school. Getting a school that would admit her for her undergraduate studies was also difficult.

“I visited the University of Nairobi and Moi University, but none was admitting clinical officers into their degree programs at that time, and so I expanded my search to the other East African countries and eventually got admitted to the International Medical and Technological University in Dar-es-Salaam. During my graduation in 2005, I was awarded for being the best in obstetrics and gynaecology.”

When she returned to Kenya, she sat the medical board exam, which she passed, and was posted to do her internship at Nakuru County Referral hospital. When she completed her internship, she stayed on at the hospital for the stipulated three years before applying for her Master’s in family medicine, a new specialty program that had started at Moi University.

“Don’t let your grades hinder you from your passion because failing is not the end, rather, the beginning. Start small and finish big, your efforts will always yield good fruit if you put your heart to it.”

STEPHANIE WANGA, 22,

Law graduate pursuing the arts

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Stephanie chose to study Law for two reasons: the course was aligned to her favourite subjects – English and History, and because it was prestigious.

“My parents were keen on my studying medicine, but I decided to do law because I thought it was as close as I could get to the prestige of medicine whilst doing something I thought I would at least somewhat like,” she says. Once she enrolled for the course though, it was akin to a chemical reaction she did not understand, but which she desperately wanted to. “I realised that I was interested in subjects like history, religion and culture as expressed through mediums like music and literature, so studying law was not enough,” she explains and adds,

“I spent a year attending sessions known as Ideagasms with Storymoja Publishers, sessions in which we would discuss, debate and passionately argue about all the things I was interested in. I also frequently visited the Goethe Institut, which had lots of film and literary forums. That changed everything for me.”

But she worked hard and completed her studies, and in fact scored first class honours because to her, it is foolhardy to throw away a chance to get an education. “I only work at things when I feel a deep reason for them. I am passionate about my continent and I want to get at the core of what ails it. The core of what ails my continent is not in law. Law shows you how to deal with the symptoms of the disease. I want to get to the disease,” she explains.

Her family has been supportive even though they still do not fully understand the path that she is taking. She has moments where she doubts the path she has chosen and whether things will really work out for her in the end, but she is determined to keep going.

“During the day I am at The GoDown Arts Centre, immersing myself in different kinds of arts since for a long time I was only interested in literature. I am also writing my first novel. I work with an amazing woman called Sandra Chege on a platform called Hadithi (hadithi.co.ke) that captures true African stories on love, pain, motivation, and family by means of letters to self. I have also just got my offer of admission to study for my MA in African Studies, which I’m really excited about. At the moment, I am busy applying for scholarships that will enable me to attend the programme,” she says.

If you are studying a course you are unsure about, Stephanie suggests dropping it. “Interrogate what it offers you, how it might serve your real desires, stick it out, and if it comes short, follow your heart.”

BRIAN ONJORO, 27

He chose comedy over civil engineering

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“I was in what one would call the Golden Class at Starehe Boys, so my career options were limited to medicine, architecture, engineering or law. I decided to take a gamble with engineering, though what I really wanted to study was film,” he says.

When he completed high school, he applied to the film school at the University of Cape Town and got a partial scholarship. No one was willing to pay the remainder of his school fees though, and so he forewent that opportunity and instead joined the University of Nairobi where he was admitted to study Civil Engineering. He dropped out in his second year.

“My parents were disappointed because all the hope that they had in me had been dashed. There was so much tension at home, I could no longer stay,” he says.

For a year, he was homeless, putting up with friends willing to host him. His parents have never come to terms with his choice of career, and the only time they came close to applauding his decision was when he won Sh400, 000 in KBC’s Last Laugh Competition in 2014.

“There have been moments when I have felt regret sneaking up on me especially when I am broke, but over time, I have taken responsibility for the decision that I made and accepted that there will be no going back,” he explains.

Brian is still building up his brand of improve and stand up comedy.

On Facebook and Instagram, their (he works with other comedians and producers) username is Nairobi Comedy Club, which can be described as a space for alternative comedy. “When you move away from that which is ‘normal’, you have to put in more effort to succeed because you are under pressure and are building from scratch, so you have a lot more to prove. You need a very strong work ethic to succeed.”

FREDRICK KIMEMIA, 41

Patient attendant turned health system management CEO

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“A poor grade in high school should not discourage you from pursuing your dream career,” says Fredrick.

When he got grade C in his KCSE exams, he doubted his capability and doubted he could realise his dream of becoming an architect. This score also meant that he would not get direct admission into the university.

He felt that his only option was to become a farmer, and yet all he really wanted to pursue was a prestigious course.

“Following my poor results, I gave up my dreaming of becoming an architect, and instead focused on my second option—a health-related course, which I knew I had to sacrifice a lot to achieve.”

His father gave him Sh6, 000 with which to register at a medical college. Following his brother’s advice, he first registered for a certificate course. He had to work part time as a patient attendant to support himself through school because apart from the registration fee his father gave him, he hardly received any money from his parents while in college.

It has been a tough journey to where he is today, and as you read this, Fredrick has a Masters of Science degree, which took him a whopping 18 years to get.

To get here, he studied for several certificates, then went on to study for a diploma, (he has two) followed by a Bachelor’s degree. He will complete his PhD this year.

“For younger people whose parents might be struggling to raise fees, and there is no scholarship forthcoming, I would advise them to take the longer route instead of giving up.

Start with a certificate in an artisan course, then build up from there. It will save your parents the heartache of trying to fund your training at the expense of the younger ones who require

TONY MOCHAMA

Lawyer turned writer

6

The cluster system got Tony into law school. “I had very strong grades in English, History and C.R.E, so my natural choice for a career would have been law,” he says, explaining that he chose law because he was fascinated by the courtroom and what went on in there. In fact, he and his friends often visited the High Court just to “check it out.”

He also found local TV show Vioja Mahakamani interesting. “The series of books featuring Perry Mason also made me think that law was very glamorous, so I grew up with a very romantic idea of Law,” he adds.

His mother’s death shortly before he joined university contributed largely to the changing of the trajectory of his life.

“I joined law school as a very troubled student, and found myself writing poems to drown my sorrow.”

While in his second year, he got suspended for making caricatures of lecturers he did not get along with and posting satirical poems on the university noticeboard. It amused his fellow students but enraged the targeted teachers.

“I would go on to sojourn at David Makali’s Expression Today, writing and learning. David was like my school of journalism,” Tony explains. But it was later during his pupilage at a cousin’s law firm that Tony became pointedly aware that he wanted out of the legal profession. He walked out after just two months.

“I realised that I had not done any creative writing in the duration of the pupilage because I was immersed in writing affidavits and working on reports. I felt that my brain was becoming short-circuited and I was losing touch with my creative side, so I quit.”

He feels that over-emphasising certain courses at the expense of others is very colonial and needs to be done away with.

“People seem to be always looking for formulas when the truth is that life is very random,” he asserts.

When he quit his pupilage, he did not have a clear plan of where he wanted to go. “My father wept. I was scared, but only because I had no idea what would follow, so I started writing obsessively and would spend all my time at the Macmillan Library.”

A chance meeting with a Russian professor during a Kwani? writing workshop got him a 18 months writing scholarship at St. Petersburg (Russia) and that set him off as a professional writer.

Fifteen years later, Tony says he does not regret walking away from law.

“There are many fine lawyers in this town and chances are I would have joined the ranks, but then, writing has given me some continental prizes and I am really fulfilled as a writer,” he says.

But Tony is very particular: if you are in school studying whatever course it is,  whether you see yourself practicing it after you graduate or not, put in your best because that knowledge will come in handy.

Do not throw away the opportunity to get an education, he advises.

“The problem is that people equate knowledge to careers, let the passion that you have drive you.”

EMMA NKIROTE, 27

Emma’s KCSE exam score of D+ shattered her. “My academic performance started going down while in Form Three because I had stopped taking my classwork seriously,” she says, explaining that she allowed herself to be distracted by partying and other factors that accompany peer pressure.

She was fortunate that her mother believed in her, and therefore supported her and encouraged her to register for courses that did not demand a certain grade.

“I started with a certificate, then a diploma at the Institute of Advanced Technology in Mombasa. I later joined Africa Nazarene University, where I did my pre-university course and then continued with a Bachelors in Peace and Conflict Resolution, and finally a Master’s in Governance, Peace and Security. I majored in governance,” she says.

For Emma, joining university was a second chance she immediately seized, and worked hard to ensure that she did not squander it.

“I took my studies very seriously, and with the help of my lecturers and fellow students in the Peace and Conflict Department, the journey was fun.”

She adds,  “The system will not always be fair because it judges you with this one exam. To paraphrase what my mother told me when I found out what I had scored in my final high school exams, if you do not have a direct entry to university, don’t give up, the journey may be tough, but you have to make your dream come true, whether you crawl, walk or run.”

How a parent reacts to his or her child’s performance in school and in exams, she says, plays a key role in how their future pans out.

'We fight with each other over water' - residents cry as rivers run dry

‘We fight with each other over water’ – residents cry as rivers run dry

In the absence of basic sanitation, life in rural Mozambique during the dry season involves a relentless cycle of arduous journeys to collect water unfit for drinking. The struggle for survival, which affects young and old alike, puts those affected at risk of disease and leaves little time for anything else.

'We fight with each other over water' - residents cry as rivers run dry
Ajida, 14, walks home after collecting water in Mococorene, Nampula province. Photo: Mário Macilau/WaterAid

Water is evaporating from the beautiful landscapes of Mozambique. There is too little to keep people alive, and the lack of it is forcing them from their homes, splitting up families and killing children. Photographer Mário Macilau travelled around his country, talking to people whose only supply of water is from filthy rivers that dry up quickly in the hotter months.

In northern Mozambique’s Niassa province, only 21% of people have access to safe sanitation and just 42% have a clean water supply. Only half the area’s boreholes and wells are operational, forcing women and children to spend a great deal of time walking to fetch water.

Eudicia lives in Muassi village. She and her friend Josefina miss school up to four times a week as they have to fetch water from the riverbed.

“Going to collect water is not fun. I’m not happy because it’s too far. I’m not laughing because if I’m just laughing I won’t reach home until night. There are snakes and dogs there,” Eudicia says.

“We go in groups, because we’re afraid to go alone. Carrying the water is too heavy; it is dirty and has a bad smell, like grass or old leaves … Even when we do have water to wash, the water is dirty, so if you wash you are not really clean. I feel shy when I am dirty or my clothes are not clean.

“I miss school every other day or so, to collect water. I don’t feel good because I am absent from school.”

In Mozambique, the statistics are stark: 14.8 million people have no clean water, and more than 21 million are without a safe place to go to the toilet. Women and children make long, exhausting journeys to collect dirty water for their families. A lack of private toilets in schools causes many girls to leave when they start menstruating. Health centres are overcrowded and have inadequate sanitation. All of this leads to disease outbreaks: seven of every 100 children die before turning five.

“My favourite subject is Portuguese, and then social sciences. I want to be a teacher, because teachers can receive a good salary.

“I go to the river three times in a day,” she says. She fetches water for her family every other day. And because the river is far away, it means she has to miss school. “I’m not feeling happy, I don’t feel good about missing school.

“I have seven siblings, four girls and three boys. My best friend is Eudicia … We go to the river together. We have a game called namudóze. We make a circle on the ground and then throw a stone in the air. While the stone is in the air you have to move a small stone on the ground into the circle, then catch the stone that you threw on the way down. You keep going until you reach 12 stones in the circle.

“Sometimes Eudicia wins, sometimes I win.”

Josefina says she does not want to get married yet. “I want to wait. Next year I will go to grade six in Etatara. I’ll still live at home, but I’ll have to walk to school there. It’s far! My father supports me to go to school. He says, ‘Don’t be absent from school. You go to school to get a job.’”

Wissiquisse is a nahaco, a healer who cures using a combination of spiritual methods and herbal medicines, and is thought to possess magical powers.

Her husband died six years ago. “Ever since the day he passed away we have been suffering a lot … I have a lot of children.

“My job as a nahaco I only do when people come to my house and ask me. No one taught me. My late grandfather told me in a dream to come to the bush, so when I went there they were telling me to do this and that, and that’s how I learned.

“There is a spiritual connection to the river. When I go down to the river and ask the spirits for things, they give it to me. The same way that Christians go to church and pray to God to ask for things. We believe there are spirits in the river who will give us these things.

She says the most common thing women come to her about is when they are having trouble conceiving. “I give them some medicines, which they take home to help them.
The Nanjana river at this time of year is a stagnant, milky stream running off of the Muassi river

“Another problem is HIV. But I only give medicines for diseases like gonorrhoea or syphilis. To treat HIV properly, I can’t do it, so I tell them to go to the hospital.

“This kind of diarrhoea here – because of the water, I can’t treat it … When someone has a problem with their stomach from the water, they go to the hospital.
School children, aged 8 and 9, wash in a river in Nampula province

“The water situation here is bad. Even at the river we are fighting with each other to get water. Someone can go and take water and another one can come back without any. They are fighting because everyone wants to be the first to take water, so they come and say I should take it first, and then someone else comes and says they should take it first, and they start fighting.

“Because of this water problem I am suffering a lot. See all these children here – there is only that one small hole for water, for everyone to drink and to bathe. So it’s a big problem for us, and that’s why people fight.

“When you bring water here, things will change. It will be good, many people will not suffer because of sickness any more.”

“I live here in M’mele, in my grandfather’s house. My grandmother and my younger brother also live there, but he’s sick. I used to go to school but now I don’t go, I just decided myself not to go any more, mainly because of walking. I couldn’t always manage to walk there with the stick, because my leg was always hurting.

“When I was a small baby, we were running away from the war and someone shot at my leg, that’s why that leg is gone now. I was with my mother when we were running, I was in her arms. My mother died. Then later, in a following year, my father also died from diarrhoea.

“I am not thinking about them that much, only my mother because I miss her. For now I mostly don’t think anything.

“The problems here are getting water and food. It’s difficult to get water from the river, even for my grandmother it’s very difficult. She has a problem with her fingers. I can’t manage to go to the river to get water myself because of my leg. In this village there’s a big problem with water. We only get water from the river, and it’s far. It’s not clean water, it’s not good.

“I’m afraid … that water killed my father, so I’m scared to drink it, but I have to.

“I go to the toilet in the bush. It’s not that far. Its not a big problem. Sometimes I get shit on myself because of the way I have to squat on my foot. And sometimes I am not happy about it because other people have two legs and I only have one, so it’s easier for them. Sometimes I am sad. I would be happy if you built a nice toilet here.

“I get sick maybe once or twice a month. I don’t always go to the hospital, because there is no one to carry me there. If someone had a bicycle they could carry me, but no one around here has a bicycle.”

“Rogério has lived here for nine years. My daughter Delphinia was coming here in a car with him when they were attacked by bandits. They just started shooting, and the bullets went through my daughter and into his leg. My daughter died there, and they took Rogério to the hospital. Those bandits stole everybody’s things from the car, and then they burned it. The burnt-out car is still there, outside of Cuamba in a place called Patricio.

“To get water you have to go down to the river, where you just wait and wait, and then you have to carry it back. I am the one who has to get water. I go when the sun goes down only, because of the heat. Because of my legs I cannot go there very fast.”

Her surviving daughter, Arminda, comes by to help when she can. “Arminda is the one who carries Rogério to the hospital and back, brings food and does some cooking. She comes once a week.

“My husband can only sit and is thinking and thinking – his mind is not right because of thinking too much, trying to remember how to get back to the farm, how to do the work again. But he can’t remember how to do it. He fell down here in the house and hit his head, and that is when his problems started. That was about two years ago.”

Maria Nimolia is in her 80s. “Water has affected me too much,” she says. “Even when I ask children to collect water for me they just refuse, so that’s why I’m here today by myself. This water doesn’t really make me sick. I know that other people have problems with sickness from this water, but I seem to be OK.

“I can’t do any farming work any more, but I still go to the fields to keep some people company. Usually I just sit, nothing else. I clean and tidy my house.

“I don’t know how old I am, but I’ve lived here all my life. No one told me when I was born – I was a baby so I can’t remember. I live with my husband, Simon Jorge. I don’t know how old he is either. My son also lives with us, I think he’s about 30. I have seven children all together, but they live with their own families now.”

Her son-in-law José Witiness explains why she doesn’t know how old she is: “When the Portuguese colonised us here, they only accepted people who were rich to go to school. That is why older people here can’t read or write – they don’t know their ages or what year it is, and they can’t speak Portuguese. Their births were not necessarily registered, so sometimes they don’t even have an identity card. They were just living here in the bush and no one cared about them.”

“She has lost family, but she just can’t explain it.

“I was sick with cholera, and I had to go to the hospital to be treated. It happened because we didn’t have a clean place. The water here was so bad because the environment was dirty. We didn’t have any sanitation and the rain washed the faeces into the river.”


SOURCE: Guardian Global Development Network (London) 

 

16 Foot 'N' mouth infected cattle burnt in Chegutu

16 Foot ‘N’ mouth infected cattle burnt in Chegutu


The Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement yesterday slaughtered and burnt 16 foot-and-mouth infected cattle at Ardlui Farm in Chegutu to curb the spread of the disease in the province.

16 Foot 'N' mouth infected cattle burnt in Chegutu
File Photo: ILRI

The Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services confirmed the development and said the disease had been confined to a single farm in the province. The farm had 239 cattle and 16 tested positive to foot-and-mouth (FMD). The department’s director Dr Josphat Nyika said a stray cow that encroached into the infected area was also shot and burnt.

“The department is authorised to destroy, bury or burn livestock that would have been moved without a permit and not offer any compensation,” he said.

Dr Nyika said the farm had also been placed under quarantine and veterinary officers were stationed at the farm to ensure the infected cattle do not mix with the rest of the herd. He said the risk of the disease spreading to neighbouring farms was low because all the eight surrounding farms had no livestock on them.

“This means it is an isolated outbreak. The farm has good biosecurity infrastructure, ” he said.

He added that all the three Mashonaland provinces and Makoni District in Manicaland had been free of the disease as they were the country’s nucleus export zones in the good old days when Zimbabwe used to export to the EU.

“We have not had FMD infections in Mashonaland provinces for the past 10 years, so when we have an outbreak in any of these provinces, we slaughter and burn the infected animals. For the in-contact animals, we test and slaughter the animals that test positive for FMD.

“The aim is to maintain an FMD-free status in these provinces, which have potential to resume exports under the current thrust of the Special Programme on Livestock, Fisheries and Wildlife production, ” he said.

He said the slaughter and burning or burying of the animals should always be done in the presence of the police. FMD is the most contagious disease known to cattle. It is caused by a virus. It is a notifiable disease. Symptoms of FMD include excessive salivation, limping, presence of sores in the mouth and in between the toes.


SOURCE: The Herald

Young African women breaking gender barrier with venture into coding

Young African women breaking gender barrier with venture into coding


More women techies could help close income inequality gap.

Young African women breaking gender barrier with venture into coding
File photo: The Guardian

At Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Angela Koranteng was an accomplished student with a special dream. At a time when few women were breaking the gender barrier in male-dominated studies, Ms. Koranteng had her heart set on health sciences—but instead of treating patients, she wanted to be an engineer and build hospitals.

After a round of courses in computer programming, civil engineering and coding, Ms. Koranteng today has earned a degree and a title: professional African coder.

Coding is what makes it possible to create computer software, apps and websites. Your browser, your operating system, the apps on your phone, Facebook, and websites—they’re all made with code. Coding can be learned at a university or boot camp.

Because boys are exposed to technical matters in childhood and girls are not, few young African women imagine themselves on a career track in engineering.

In college, “I learned everything from scratch, whereas the boys already knew the basics,” Ms. Koranteng told Africa Renewal in an interview. That disadvantage ensured that “my contributions [in class] were deemed less intelligent than those of my male counterparts.”

Even Ms. Koranteng’s father was not sure that a path in coding was good for her. “He didn’t know that coding would become one of the most in-demand skills across industries,” she explained.

Not just a man’s field

Today Ms. Koranteng works with a group called STEMbees, a Ghana-based nonprofit organization she helped to found, which mentors young women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Ms. Koranteng hopes that more girls in STEM will help bridge the gender gap in computing.

Unfortunately, training in STEM still attracts fewer women students than training in teaching, law, medicine or business.

Karen Spärck Jones, a professor of computers and information at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory in the UK, once said that “computing is too important to be left to men.”

But even in the most developed countries, the computer field is disproportionately dominated by men. In 2013 in the US, only 26% of computing professionals were female—down considerably from 35% in 1990 and virtually the same as in 1960. While the percentage of women in engineering has risen since 1990, the progress has been modest—from 9% in 1990 to 12% in 2013.

A 2012 US Department of Labor survey reported that women in the US comprised 30% of web developers, 25% of programmers, 37% of database administrators, 20% of software developers, and a little over 10% of information security analysts. Women also held less than 20% of chief information officer positions at Fortune 250 companies, and among the Fortune 100 tech companies, only four women held chief executive officer positions. At tech giants like Google, over 70% of technical employees were men.

Lacking reliable data, Ms. Koranteng presumes Africa’s situation to be far worse than that of the US. In the bustling Computer Village in Lagos, Nigeria, for example, it is mostly young men developing apps or engaging in other computing work, Caleb Ibhasabemon, who monitors technology trends and plans to start a computer hardware sales company, told Africa Renewal in an interview.

Despite the growth of Internet usage in Africa over the last decade, less than 10% of the continent has access to the Internet, according to a 2017 report by Internet World Stats, an organization that monitors global Internet usage. Low Internet diffusion on the continent is certain to impede efforts by Africans, especially girls, to become coding professionals.
Marian Tesfamichael, a young Ghanaian who has been coding in Toronto, Canada, is one of the few success stories. Her undergraduate studies were in computer science and mathematics, and her graduate studies in computer science. She is a web developer and data manager at the University of Toronto.

Ms. Tesfamichael says her gender and ethnicity might have slowed her progress within the industry; many at companies she’s worked for didn’t believe she could be good at the job. However, at the moment things are looking up for her.
A Lagos-based tech company Andela is training engineering teams, including coders, to fill the gap in tech talent in Africa. “We have nearly 30% of women out of more than 600 developers based in Lagos, Nairobi and Kampala,” says Christine Magee, Andela’s director of communications.

Another success story is Ghana’s Ethel Cofie, whom Forbes business magazine calls one of the top five women affecting IT on the continent. She is the founder and CEO of EDEL Technology Consulting, a company that provides IT and software services for businesses.

Technology and GDP growth

Ms. Cofie studied computer science during the dot-com period (1995 to 2001) and took advantage of Africa’s emerging market to invest in technology, according to reports by the BBC and CNN. To promote diversity in the computer programming industry, particularly to “encourage African girls to get involved,” she founded Women in Tech Africa.
Many budding female techies from around the continent consider Ms. Cofie a role model.

“Computer programming is one of the world’s most in-demand skills,” and African girls must seize the opportunity, says Ms. Cofie.
Similar sentiments have been voiced at the World Economic Forum (WEF), a Geneva-based nonprofit that meets annually and bills itself as committed to public-private cooperation.

Information technology helps create new businesses in digital marketing, data sciences, and mobile money ecosystems, among others. In 2017, revenues for information technology products and services are forecast to reach $2.4 trillion, a 3.5% increase over 2016, reports International Data Corporation (IDC), which provides market intelligence for information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. IDC adds that the figure could be $2.6 trillion by 2020.

Statistics by WEF also show that a 10% increase in broadband penetration can lead to a 1.4% increase in GDP growth in emerging markets. The GDP growth numbers can be seen in countries adopting mobile money or other technologies that facilitate financial transactions, for example.

Already top tech companies such as Facebook and Google are providing technical and financial support to institutions creating opportunities for African girls learning how to code.

AWELE Academy, a leadership and technology institution based in Lagos, is one of the schools receiving external support for its attempts to close the coding gap in Africa. But it can accept only 20 students at a time—a feeble effort at best.

Technology institutions are working to increase awareness about computer programming through local conferences where girls meet role models to discuss career prospects.

Gender equality enthusiasts are optimistic that the increase in women coders will help close the gender wage inequality gap in Africa. The next few years could witness more African women falling in love with coding, earning decent wages and transforming their countries’ economies, predicts Ms. Tesfamichael.


SOURCE: Africa Renewal

1.9m Malawi families face food shortage

1.9m Malawi families face food shortage

Maize production for 2017/2018 growing season will reduce by over 283,941 metric tonnes due to prolonged dry spells including fall armyworms that have 18 districts and estimates that 1.9 million families face food shortage, the Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Joseph Mwanamvekha told Parliamnet on Monday.

1.9m Malawi families face food shortage
Photo: Premium Times

Mwanamvekha said this when he made a ministerial statement on the country’s food situation on the first day of the 2017/2018 mid year budget at Parliament in Lilongwe, Malawi’s administrative capital.

He said his ministry, in conjunction with the Food and Agriculture Organization carried a rapid assessment to quantify the effects of both the dry spells and the fall armyworms.

According to him, about 40 percent of the maize produced in the districts affected by dry spells will be lost while areas that have been affected by fall armyworms will lose 10 percent of their projected maize production.

“Based on these findings, about 210,yep metric tonnes of the country’s projected maize production will be lost due to dry spells and about 73,wow metric tonnes will be lost to the fall armyworms. In total, therefore, Mr. Speaker Sir, the country’s maize production will be reduced by about 283,941 metric tonnes due to the two factors,” said Mwanamvekha.

Worst hit districts are Balaka, Chiradzulu, Machinga, Mangochi, Mulanje, Phalombe, Mwanza, Neno, Chikwawa, Nsanje, Thyolo, Zomba, Dowa, Dedza, Kasungu, Ntcheu, Salima and some parts of Lilongwe.

Mwanamvekha then took trouble to assure the House and Malawians that the country has enough maize and that no one will die of hunger.

He said government purchased enough maize from last year’s bumper harvest and that more resourcs will be released to National Food Reserve Agency (NRFA) to procure additional maize its silos.

“Government has come up with immediate, short term and long term measures, including restrictions on maize exports and maize products and this has already been implemented. We will continue releasing humanitarian maize to support the affects families”, said Mwanamvekha.

He further reminded the House that In 2015/2016 agriculture season the country experienced severe droughts and floods which resulted in less output, but no one died of hunger because Democratic Progressive Party led government’s excellent policies and strategies that resulted in procuring and redistribution of maize to affected families.

“When the country received good rains in 2017, we produced a bumper harvest and President Mutharika banned the exportation of maize last year. His decision was strongly criticized and opposed by some people, others decided to make cheap politics out of such a matter of serious national importance.

“Some of them were even Honourable colleagues from this august House and the nation is a best judge on the quality and depth of their leadership. The President persevered and endured all sorts of criticisms, insults, and ridicule as others went further thinking of holding demonstrations using this matter as one of the grounds. Today, the President has been vindicated,” said Mwanamvekha.


SOURCE: Nyasa Times

Gidabo dam nears completion


The Dam cost 1.1 billion Br and will irrigate 27,043ha of land

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Partial view of the Gidabo Irrigation Dam whose construction has reached 97pc on the Gidabo river, 376km away from Addis Abeba. Photo: Addis Fortune

The Gidabo Irrigation Dam, constructed with an estimated cost of 1.1 billion Br and reaching 97pc completion, will begin operations within two months.

The Dam has a capacity of holding 63 million cubic metres of water and stands 21.2 meters tall and is 350m wide. Its initial completion was expected within two years of construction, beginning 2010 by the Ethiopian Construction Works Corporation (ECWC) formed as a result of the merger between Ethiopian Road Construction Corporation, Ethiopian Water Works Construction Enterprise and Ethiopian Prefabricated Building Parts Production Enterprise.

“The completion period was modified after the need to redesign the Dam to fully utilise Gidabo river’s potential as well as increase the Dam’s capacity,” according to Abdulfetah Taju, project manager of the Dam.

Aside from improving its capacity, the new design saw the addition of two channels sprawled on 1,050ha close to the Borena and Sidama zones. One channels water from the Dam to the zones in the Oromia Regional State, while the other to the Southern Nations, Nationalities & People’s Regional State (SNNPR).

The Dam that will irrigate 27,043ha of land, 60pc of which lie in the former region, while the rest in the latter.

Recurrent rainfall that fills the Gidabo river, delayed relocation of the residents and a second-time soil study were some of the other reasons that deterred the project from early completion, according to Tinfu Muchie, communications head of the Corporation, mandated to construct and maintain roads, bridges, highways, dams, as well as hydropower and irrigation infrastructure.

The decision to increase the amount of land to be cultivated was also one of the causes of delay for the consultants, the Ethiopian Construction Design & Supervision Works Corporation. Geological problems were also cited by Yahyah Ahmed, consulting engineer of the Firm which was established in 2015.

Delay in construction is not exclusive to this dam, rather a problem of many, according to Biruk Abate (PhD), who has a decade of experience in civil engineering.

“Poor planning, lack of integration between owners, contractors and consultants as well as lack of finance are to be blamed for the delay,” he told Fortune.

When the Dam,becomes operational, it will be the ninth to have been completed by the Corporation, with another one costing 3.7 billion Br, Rib Dam, under construction since its establishment three years ago.

Kesem Dam & Irrigation, Gidabo Dam, Megech Dam and Tendaho Clean Water Supply project are major projects executed by the Corporation that had an authorised capital of 20.3 million Br and 7.7 million Br paid-up capital.

Once the Dam starts operations, it is expected to contribute to fish production from the artificial lake that will be formed. It will also help farmers in Borena and Sidama areas become productive throughout the year cultivating different cereals, according to Abdulfeta.


SOURCE: Addis Fortune (Addis Ababa) 

Hepatitis E claims a third victim in Namibia

Hepatitis E claims a third victim in Namibia


HEPATITIS E has claimed its third victim, some two months since the disease outbreak was declared in Windhoek late last year.

Hepatitis E claims a third victim in Namibia
Namibia’s Goreangab residents use contaminated water. Photo: New Era

This was confirmed to The Namibian last week by Lilliane Kahuika, an epidemiologist with the health ministry. The victim was a woman who died a day after giving birth on 25 January, but her baby survived.

The Namibian reported last month that two pregnant women also died from hepatitis E-related illnesses in December and early January.

This brings the number of deaths attributed to the disease to three since the outbreak late last year.

So far, all those who have died from the disease were post-partum women.

“All the three victims were women, and all of them died shortly after giving birth […] in the post-partum period. The third one died a day after giving birth,” Kahuika said, adding that they were still waiting for the test results of samples from the victim to confirm the details. Hepatitis E is a liver disease caused by ingesting faecal contaminated water and environmental contamination due to poor sanitation.

The number of hepatitis E-related cases has also increased to over 553, with about 314 males and 239 females affected. Five patients are currently admitted at the Katutura Intermediate Hospital and the Windhoek Central Hospital, including one post-partum mother.

According to the latest statistics provided by the health ministry, the disease is highly concentrated in the informal settlements, with Havana being the most-affected area, accounting for about 280 of the total cases, followed by Goreangab with 144 cases recorded. The statistics also indicated that over 2 500 households have been reached and provided with health education and water purification tablets to date.

Some of the findings indicate that about 62% of the community in the affected areas of Havana and Goreangab use open defecation, 89% use communal taps, and 1% use a public source like a river or stream to draw water for consumption.

Cases of hepatitis E-related illnesses have also been confirmed elsewhere in the country. One example was reported in the Oshikoto region, two in Oshana and four cases in the Omusati region. Despite numerous efforts from various interested parties to contain the disease, the health ministry stated that transmission continues due to limited access to safe water and proper sanitation.

Limited resources to scale up the response to cases likewise remains a challenge. Currently, the ministry sends samples to a South African laboratory for genotyping.

The ministry has since received assistance and funding support from various local and international organisations such as the World Health Organisation, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the United Nations Population Fund and many others.

The health ministry’s spokesperson, Manga Libita, on Friday said the ministry has also established national, regional and district “task force committees” with the support of the Namibia field epidemiology and laboratory training programme to coordinate outbreak response activities, and conduct active searches and referrals to health facilities for treatment.

“An integrated response under a multi-sectoral approach is being implemented ensuring strong coordination, effective surveillance as well as quality case management,” she said.

The ministry is also conducting social mobilisation and health education programmes to ensure “increasing access to safe water and adequate sanitation facilities to the population at risk”.

The City of Windhoek has since pledged to clean up the informal settlements, and improve sanitation to contain the spread of the disease.

Mary-Anne Kahitu, the city’s health inspector, this week said about 116 new toilets would be constructed during the current financial year, and within the next four months.


SOURCE: Namibian.

Heavy fighting reported in Southern Cameroon as army hit protesters

Heavy fighting reported in Southern Cameroon as army hit protesters

THERE was heavy military activity in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon on the night of February 3.

Heavy fighting reported in Southern Cameroon as army hit protesters
Cameroon soldiers. Photo: International Crisis Group

Fifty armoured vehicles and assault weapons were deployed by the government in the English-speaking regions – specifically Bole in the Southwest, Africa Info learned from a trustworthy source. 

The witness said Belo is on the verge of genocide as Beti soldiers from Yaoundé are “killing people like chickens”. The witness also said heavy artillery fire is being reported in Bamenda (the capital of the North West region).

According to humanitarian sources, in Batibo in the Northwest region, soldiers are ransacking the property of unarmed civilians, forcing them to seek refuge in the forests.

The unrest started in November 2016 when the English speaking region of the country began protesting against what they term marginalization by Francophone dominated regime.

The regime in place have ignored national and international calls for a comprehensive dialogue to address the root cause of the crisis. Rather it has opted for a military response that has seen hundred of deaths and casualties on both side with thousands crossing into neighboring Nigeria as refugees.


SOURCE: Translated from Africa Info, with additional information by Michael Tantoh

Defence sends thousands of personnel on leave

Defence sends thousands of personnel on leave


Thousands of army personnel staying at the seven bases around the country will be forced to take leave with effect from next month.

Defence sends thousands of personnel on leave
Namibia Defence Force (file photo) Photo: The Namibian

Those who are already on leave have been asked not to report for duty since the army can no longer afford to feed them as well as food the water and electricity bills.

The defence ministry was allocated N$5,6 billion of the national budget for the 2017/2018 financial year.

This was less than the N$5,9 billion they had received in the 2016/2017 financial year.

The auditor-general’s report for the financial year ended 31 March 2016 stated that the defence ministry had returned N$370 million to the treasury.

The defence ministry’s acting public relations head, major Petrus Shilumbu, yesterday confirmed that some personnel would be sent on leave.

Although he could not give the number of the personnel involved, citing confidentiality, http://www.globalfirepower.com says Namibia’s defence has 15 500 men and women.

The website that claims to provide a unique analytical display of data concerning over 130 modern military powers says 9 000 of the 15 500 were active.

Sources, however, said each of the seven bases has anything between 700 and 1 000 officers.

“You know that the country is going through an economic struggle. We have to take measures to cope,” he said, adding that this was a common practice.

“It is common all over the world. You will not find 100% troops in a military base,” he stated.

Shilumbu told The Namibian that the ministry’s leave policy allows for 30% of the troops to go on leave, while 70% remain at the bases for any eventuality.

He added that the army personnel to be sent on leave will still be paid salaries, and their leave days will not be reduced.

Those who are not going on leave will continue with all operations, such as training.

Part of the reason why the army had resorted to sending personnel on forced leave could be because it owes municipalities millions of dollars.

Speaking at a breakfast meeting held in the capital yesterday, Windhoek municipality chief executive officer Robert Kahimise said the defence ministry owes the city N$4 million for water, electricity, rates and taxes.

Some soldiers told The Namibian that water and electricity supplies to some bases could be cut soon.

Shilumbu, however, refuted these claims, saying the ministry had paid the municipality N$8 million on 25 January.

“That transaction is in process. We have settled our account with the City of Windhoek,” he noted.

Kahimise could not be reached for comment late yesterday to verify Shilumbu’s claims.

Although defence receives the third-biggest chunk of the national budget, much of it is spent on buying new equipment, despite the fact that it has a company that produces military hardware.

Windhoeker Maschinenfabrik, a subsidiary of August 26, specialises in the production, sales and logistics support of quality ballistic and mine-protected vehicles. August 26 is also into textile, construction and agriculture.

August 26 chief executive officer, retired brigadier general James Auala was quoted in 2016 as saying the company’s financial status would not be tabled in the National Assembly as it is a private entity.

The Namibian reported in September last year that defence had overspent in four different departments, and that there was an unexplained N$50,4 million paid out in subsistence and travel allowances.

Last week, The Namibian reported that a woman had been threatened with arrests and imprisonment by the inland revenue.

Although Helena Julias is not in the army, she was being asked to pay tax for the salary she receives from the army.

Shuuya confirmed that the NDF was aware of Julius’ case and that they had investigated it in 2016.

He, however, said there is also another Helena Julias who is in the army.

Some sources said the army does not remove names of disqualified members from its payroll system, although Shuuya said Julias “never appeared on the list of short-listed candidates who were selected for medical examination in 2014”.

The finance ministry’s commissioner for inland revenue, Justus Mafongwe, denied claims that they had threatened Julius with imprisonment.

Mafongwe said, however, that the department had Julius’ records although he could not disclose much details.

A copy of Julius’ tax certificate seen by The Namibian shows that she is in the army, yet she works as a cleaner.

Mafongwe also said that the finance ministry was not responsible for de-registering individuals from the revenue collection system as the individual “is responsible for ensuring that he or she is de-registered”.


SOURCE: The Namibian

Kenya and Uganda accused of prolonging South Sudan war

Kenya and Uganda accused of prolonging South Sudan war


KENYA and Uganda are aiding to prolong the four-year-old civil war in South Sudan by serving as conduits for arms to combatants, a United Nations official said on Monday.

Kenya and Uganda accused of prolonging South Sudan war
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, left, Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, right, and Salva Kiir of South Sudan, centre. Photo: PPU

“The responsibility to prevent atrocities is regional and international,” Adama Dieng, the UN special advisor for prevention of genocide, told VOA.

“It is true that large quantities of weapons and ammunition are flowing into South Sudan through Kenya and Uganda.”

Mr Dieng said peace will be achieved in South Sudan only “if we have concerted regional and international efforts to leave no further options to the South Sudanese leaders to stop and start negotiating.”

“International partners have to start targeting the accomplices, intermediaries of the South Sudanese parties,” Mr Dieng said.

“Welcoming refugees who are victims of a conflict they are de facto facilitating is not good enough,” he added.

Uganda is hosting more than one million refugees from South Sudan, while Kenya’s Kakuma camp holds more than 100,000.

Arms trafficking

Mr Dieng did not indicate whether the governments of Kenya and Uganda are directly involved in arms trafficking to South Sudan. He also did not say whether the weapons are intended for the country’s military or rebel forces — or possibly both.

The UN panel of experts reported last November it had obtained documentary evidence of a cargo flight containing 31 tonnes of weapons that arrived in Entebbe, Uganda, in August.

Kampala-based Bosasy Logistics was listed as consignee for the shipment which was said to have originated in Bulgaria. The arms were to be transferred to South Sudan, according to unnamed sources cited by the UN experts.

Mr Dieng’s contention that Kenya and Uganda are fuelling the war in South Sudan follows a comment by US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley last week that “it is past time for the leaders of Uganda and Kenya to get involved and put pressure on President Kiir”.

Kenya and Uganda “are key players in the success of a true peace process,” Ms Haley said in a speech to the UN Security Council.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also recently warned South Sudan’s neighbours against taking sides in the civil war.

While not naming Kenya or Uganda, the UN chief told an African Union gathering in Addis Ababa on January 27 that it is essential to ensure that “any contradictions that might exist among the neighbours of South Sudan are not translated into an influence in the internal situation of South Sudan.”


SOURCE: The East Africa

President Edgar Lungu says government is effectively fighting the Cholera epidemic (file photo).

Politics in the time of cholera: Zambia’s u-turn on street Vending

ANALYSIS


For the last year, 12 countries in East and Southern Africa have been grappling with a cholera outbreak estimated to have resulted in almost 2,000 deaths and more than 100,000 hospitalizations. Zambia’s outbreak began in October 2017, then experienced a brief lull before exploding in early December. More than 3,000 people have been affected and close to 80 have died.

President Edgar Lungu says government is effectively fighting the Cholera epidemic (file photo).
President Edgar Lungu says government is effectively fighting the Cholera epidemic (file photo).

In contrast to many other countries fighting the epidemic, Zambia’s outbreak is disproportionately concentrated in the capital city of Lusaka and especially in the low-income, high density informal settlements, known as compounds, that surround the city center. The compound of Kanyama, home to about 370,000 of Lusaka’s 1.7 million residents, is the worst-affected.

Cholera has been a challenge for Lusaka since the first major outbreak in 1990. Since then, cases have been recorded almost every year, and always correspond to the rainy season, which lasts from October to May. Due to their history as unauthorized settlements, many of the compounds are not connected to the sewer system and rely heavily on pit latrines. Lacking drainage and often located along unpaved roads, the rains often cause the pit latrines to overflow and garbage to drift away.

While the problem is perennial, the Government of Zambia’s response this year was particularly contentious with citizens. After investigations revealed that the outbreak was caused by contaminated food, in early January the Zambia police and army demolished 10,000 stalls, known locally as tuntembas, belonging to street vendors in Lusaka in an effort to address the outbreak.

A week later, the army was called into Kanyama to quell riots by residents angry about the Government’s enforcement of the 2007 Street Vending and Nuisances Act, which allows the Lusaka City Council to ban street vending. The implementation of the ban is devastating for the livelihoods of Lusaka’s poor, who disproportionately comprise the city’s street vendors.

Such crackdowns on street vendors are certainly not uncommon in Africa. Vendors often sell fresh fruits and vegetables or prepared foods, and they are often targeted when cholera strikes. Yet, such crackdowns have been relatively rare in Lusaka since the Patriotic Front (PF) party took over government in 2011 after the election of the late President Michael Sata. Street vendors and market traders were the core of Sata’s urban constituency, and in successive election campaigns, he had vowed not to remove them from the streets given the country’s lack of formal employment opportunities.

In 2011, Sata issued a letter to town clerks and council secretaries ordering them to cease all harassment of street vendors, and the PF’s general secretary even suggested that vending should be legalized. In 2012, Sata demoted his Minister of Local Government when she planned to sign a new statutory instrument against vending. A new market comprised of street vendors, known as Donchi Kubeba, even was allowed to organically emerge on a flyover bridge in the city, heavily populated by unemployed PF party loyalists.

After Sata passed away in 2014, his successor, Edgar Lungu, essentially pursued the same policy. Lacking Sata’s charisma and popularity, Lungu has tried to mobilize support by continuing to allow street vending, even to the point of weakening the LCC’s legal authority over managing the issue and undermining decentralization efforts. In 2015, he further established the Presidential Empowerment Initiative Fund to provide loans to street vendors and marketeers.

The PF’s longstanding approach of not enforcing laws over vending has been a politically expedient and seemingly costless form of buying votes from the urban poor. However, it also allowed street vending to mushroom to unsustainable levels, with clear negative implications for the health and sanitation of Lusaka’s residents, including of the vendors themselves.

Initial survey findings through a joint IFPRI-International Growth Centre project find that vendors often lack access to clean water and proper toilets, and the lack of drainage within markets is a constant concern during the rainy season. More broadly, the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) shows that the proportion of the population using improved water sources in urban Zambia actually decreased between 2010 and 2015, from 49 to 47 percent, while those with at least basic sanitation fell from 51 to 49 percent.

Seventy-five percent of the urban population has no access to basic handwashing services with both water and soap. The disparity on some of these indicators between the poorest and richest quintiles of the urban population is significant. Indeed, while 85 percent of the richest urban quintile has access to sanitation, the equivalent among the poorest quintile is only 10 percent.

In a city where cholera has been an annual event for the last two decades, informal vending must be effectively but also humanely managed to improve basic sanitation while avoiding unpredictable bans that hurt some of the city’s most vulnerable citizens.

Beyond sensitizing vendors about safe food handling practices, the Government must stay committed to implementing Zambia’s 2015 National Urban and Peri-Urban Sanitation Strategy and recognize that access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene is needed not only where people live but also where they work. The World Urban Forum, taking place Feb. 7-13 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will certainly re-energize advocates in Zambia and beyond around key Sustainable Development Goals, including Clean Water and Sanitation (Goal 6), Decent Work (Goal 8), and Sustainable Cities (11).

Amid Zambia’s increasing political divisions, the challenge will be to ensure that long-term policy commitments to a water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) agenda are sustained beyond such high-level events and are not forgotten in favor of easy vote-buying tactics, especially as the country’s 2020 elections loom just around the corner.

Danielle Resnick is a Senior Research Fellow in IFPRI’s


SOURCE: International Food Policy Research Institute (Washington, DC) 

Principal, teachers implicated in High School sex video removed - Lesufi

Principal, teachers implicated in High School sex video removed – Lesufi

Gauteng Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi says three officials and teachers implicated in videos and pictures of a sexual nature at Reiger Park NR2 High School on the East Rand were removed on Tuesday, along with the principal.

Principal, teachers implicated in High School sex video removed - Lesufi
Photo: Lisa Baird/Pixabay

The principal resigned in October 2017, and his last day was on January 15, Lesufi confirmed.

He had taught at the school for 15 years.

Lesufi, who gave a media briefing at the Reiger Park School on Tuesday, said they were alerted to the videos and pictures when they received an anonymous message with a series of pictures from a parent who asked the department to intervene.

The school would be provided with stand-in teachers so that classes were not affected, Lesufi added.

The police’s Lieutenant-Colonel Heila Niemand said that no criminal charges had been opened yet, as they were still in the early stages of investigating the matter.

Niemand said that investigations had shown them that the videos were taken three years ago.

“A lot of teachers have been identified, now we just need to identify and trace the victims… The one victim may be 23 or 24 [years old] because it is alleged that she was 18 when the recordings and images were taken,” she said.

The graphic video and pictures – which have done the rounds on social media – show a learner having sex with the principal, who is seemingly recording the acts.

Although the source of the videos and pictures is currently unknown, Niemand said police were hoping to source the original footage, and had conducted various interviews.

She said that, if any charges arose, they would be for sexual assault, or manufacturing, possession and distribution of child pornography.

Niemand warned against spreading the files on social media or in any other way, saying that those who did so could suffer legal consequences under the Film and Publication Board Act for possession or distribution of the images and videos.

Parents handed over a memorandum to Lesufi after protesting outside the school on Monday.

The pass rate of the school decreased from 92.9% to 67.8% over the past two years.


SOURCE: News24

Why late-night security meeting chose to pull out police from Uhuru ark

Why late-night security meeting chose to pull out police from Uhuru ark


A KEY security organ held a meeting late in the night on Monday and decided that police should be withdrawn from Uhuru Park and allow Nasa to ‘swear in’ Mr Raila Odinga.

Why late-night security meeting chose to pull out police from Uhuru ark
A police patrol car in Nairobi on January 30, 2017. Photo: Kanyiri Wahito/The Nation

During the meeting at Harambee House, the National Security Advisory Committee (NSAC) also decided to withdraw Mr Odinga’s official police bodyguards.

The officers were, therefore, disarmed and ordered to report to their units.

The security detail of Nasa co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula were also withdrawn.

NSAC is usually chaired by the head of civil service and is only second to the National Security Council, which is chaired by the President.

In pulling police out of Uhuru Park, the venue of the Nasa ceremony, authorities relied on intelligence that the opposition leaders hoped a confrontation would arise between officers and their supporters.

In the event of a confrontation, the Oopposition planned to call off the ‘swearing-in’ ceremony while at the same time blaming the government, and particularly the police, for provoking their supporters.

NSAC agreed that past Nasa processions thrived on chaos in which lives were lost and property destroyed.

UNDERCOVER OFFICERS

A source privy to the NSAC meeting — but who we agreed not to name because they are not authorised to divulge the details to the media — also said the opposition chiefs’ bodyguards were recalled because “it would make no sense to provide State security for the purpose of engaging in an illegal activity”.

But even as the security was withdrawn, other teams of undercover police officers were deployed to maintain round-the-clock surveillance around the opposition chiefs.

The source said Mr Odinga held a lengthy meeting with close confidantes at Dusitd2 Hotel, on Riverside Drive.

Among those in attendance were Siaya Senator James Orengo, Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho, Nasa strategist David Ndii, former Machakos Senator Johnson Muthama and controversial business magnate Jimi Wanjigi.

At some point, Mr Mudavadi was spotted at the hotel but left before the meeting ended.

Some of the opposition chiefs spent Monday night at the hotel, according to the source, who added that Nasa co-principals differed on the oath ceremony following pressure from the United States and European countries.

The Western governments threatened to have their names included in “no-fly” lists, meaning airlines flying to those destinations would not allow them to board their aircraft.

Being placed on no-fly list also means that the countries involved would revoke the visas of the individuals and their close relatives.


SOURCE: Daily Nation, Kenya

China rejects 'preposterous' African Union headquarters spying claim

China rejects ‘preposterous’ African Union headquarters spying claim

A report by a prominent French newspaper has alleged China of spying on the African Union headquarters. The Chinese-funded building in Addis Ababa is currently hosting the 30th summit of the pan-African body.


A CHINESE official on Monday dismissed as ‘preposterous’ a report by French newspaper Le Monde alleging that Beijing spied on the Addis Ababa-based headquarters of the African Union (AU).

China rejects 'preposterous' African Union headquarters spying claim
Built by China – the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa. Photo: Albert González Farran/UNAMID

Le Monde on Friday published an investigative story claiming that technicians at the Chinese-funded building discovered last year that the data from their computers had been regularly copied to servers in Shanghai since 2012, the year the soaring building was inaugurated.

The newspaper said it spoke to a number of anonymous AU sources for the story.

“I think the report is not only a sensationalist story, but also preposterous and absurd,” Chinese envoy Kuang Weilin said on the sidelines of the AU summit in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.

The almost 100 meter (330 feet) brown marble and glass tower is currently hosting the twice-yearly meeting of the African Union member countries.

China sees the $200-million (€162 million) structure as a “monument” of its friendship with Africa, where it has been investing heavily in recent years.

“Everyone at the AU is grateful for the building that China built. Maybe some people want to undermine this kind of relationship. I’m very suspicious of the intention,” Kuang told reporters.

Le Monde said the servers in the building were changed and its IT systems redone once the spying was discovered in January last year.

The newspaper said Ethioipian cyber security experts were hired to sweep the entire building for potential bugs. They removed microphones hidden in the desks and walls of the headquarters.

The AU leaders taking part in the summit did not mention the report in their opening remarks on Sunday.

“There is nothing to be spied (on). I don’t believe it,” Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn told journalists, downplaying the report.


SOURCE: DW

Mogoeng concerned over threats to some judges in Africa

Mogoeng concerned over threats to some judges in Africa

Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng expressed concern over fellow judges in some African countries as he closed the Conference of Constitutional Jurisdictions of Africa (CCJA) in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

Mogoeng concerned over threats to some judges in Africa
South African Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng (file photo). Photo: Werner Beukes/SAPA

“We are aware that there is a less than acceptable development unfolding in the Seychelles,” said Mogoeng at the conference at Zimbali on the north coast.

The controversy is over a judge who is insisting on the rule of law for the removal of a judge who is the subject of a complaint, he explained.

However, this approach has attracted “unprecedented criticism” from the government of the country.

In the Central African Republic, there were threats to the president of their constitutional court who was committed to keep the judiciary independent.

“So these incidents have been happening by the way almost with impunity, before the CCJA came into being,” he said.

The CCJA also stepped in to help normalise a situation in the judiciary in Egypt.

The work of the organisation, aided by the African Union (AU) and colleagues in the judiciary, has led to a progressive decline in threats to the judiciary.

He said this Sunday, January 28, CCJA delegates would attend deliberations at the AU to ask office bearers to make sure threats to the judiciary are lessened.


SOURCE: News24

'Man of God' who drinks beer while preaching arrested

‘Man of God’ who drinks beer while preaching arrested


Police in Tanzania have arrested a self-styled prophet who has been roaming the streets, preaching while holding a bottle of beer.

'Man of God' who drinks beer while preaching arrested
The self-styled prophet holds a Bible while drinking from a beer bottle. Photo: Nairobi News

The man, known as Prophet Tito or Nabii Tito was on Tuesday paraded to the media by Tanzanian authorities who said that he was insane.

The man, who also goes by the name Tito Machibya, was arrested in Dodoma following public outcry after he posted pictures of himself kissing his wife and house girl.

Dodoma Regional Commissioner Gilles Muroto said that he would issue a statement when the interrogation of the ‘prophet’ is completed.

He added that the ‘prophet’ was once examined by a psychiatrist and found to be insane.

KISSING WOMEN

“After being diagnosed by the doctor, he was given another appointment which he did not keep,” he said.

The authorities added that although the prophet was insane, the things he was doing looked like the actions of a sane person and that is why they had arrested him.

Photos of Tito kissing two women made rounds on social media and irritated quite a number of Tanzanians who called him out for his queer behaviors.

Confirming the arrest, IGP Simon Sirro said Tito had been arrested following public complaints and will be dealt with accordingly.

Tito’s arrest was lauded by a cross section of Tanzanians who congratulated the police.


SOURCE: Nairobi News

CHAN 2018: Super Eagles through to quarter-final with 3-1 win over Equatorial Guinea

CHAN 2018: Super Eagles through to quarter-final with 3-1 win over Equatorial Guinea


A brilliant second-half display has earned the home-based Super Eagles team a place in the quarterfinals of the ongoing African Nations Championships, CHAN taking place in Morocco.

CHAN 2018: Super Eagles through to quarter-final with 3-1 win over Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea play Nigeria, CHAN, January 23, 2018. Photo: CAF

Nigeria started on the backfoot but rallied early enough in the second half to secure a 3-1 win over Equatorial Guinea.

Against the run of play, Nsi Eyama headed Equatorial Guinea into the lead in 40th minute and they held that advantage till the end of the first half.

In the second half, the Super Eagles stepped up their game and just before the hour-mark, Anthony Okpotu levelled score for Nigeria through a stunning header off a cross from Osas Okoro.

Dayo Ojo put Nigeria in front in the 69th before Rabiu Ali sealed victory from the penalty spot in the 81st minute.

With the win, Nigeria finished as the top gun in Group C with seven points from three games, while Libya who secured a late win over Libya finished as runners-up and also qualified for the quarterfinals.


SOURCE: Premium Times

Family leaves Bangkok after living at airport for 3 months

Family leaves Bangkok after living at airport for 3 months

A Zimbabwean family, who had been living at Bangkoko’s Suvarnabhumi airport for the past three months, has finally left Thailand, reports said on Tuesday.

Family leaves Bangkok after living at airport for 3 months
Shops at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Thailand. Photo: ztij0/Wikimedia Commons

The family of eight – four children under the age of 11 and four adults – got stranded at Bangkok’s main airport late last year, an ordeal over the holiday season that drew widespread sympathy among Thais.

Reports in December indicated that the family had tried to leave Thailand for Spain in October but they lacked visas for onward travel. They also couldn’t re-enter Thailand after overstaying, thus, they were trapped in limbo in the airside area of the airport.

The family said at the time that they could not return to Zimbabwe because they faced persecution following the November unrest that resulted in the removal of long-term leader Robert Mugabe.

Their predicament first emerged after a Thai Facebook user posted a photo of himself giving one of the children a Christmas present.

The post, which explained their predicament, went viral as questions emerged as to how they had lived at the airport for so long.

A BBC report on Tuesday quoted a Thai immigration bureau spokesperson Colonel Cherngron Rimpadee as saying that the family had finally left Bangkok for Philippines.

The report said that a UNHCR refugee camp was located there, “but it was not clear whether it was their final destination,”.

A Coconuts website quoted Rimpadee as saying: “It’s finished. The family is now in the care of the UN.”

“They were gone since yesterday, around 14:00.”


SOURCE: News24

Study shows African migrants are better educated than U.S. citizens

Study shows African migrants are better educated than U.S. citizens

I’ll never forget my sister’s experience in undergrad with a Nigerian classmate that she says had an attitude with her since she stepped foot inside their medical ethics class. My sister would come home saying the classmate often threw labels at her and her friend like “ghetto” and “entitled” and my sister could never quite understand the aggression that came from someone she had barely said five words to outside of a classroom discussion.

Study shows African migrants are better educated than U.S. citizens

It’s no secret that the relationship between African-Americans and some first-generation African immigrants can be complex, and these complexities very often show up in the education sector that lead to conversations about culture, priorities, access and equal opportunity.

African American magazine, Vibe, recently highlighted a study that focused on African immigrants and their varied levels of education: “According to a report by the New American Economy, a Washington-based research advocacy group, the U.S. immigrant population from sub-Saharan Africa (49 countries with a total population of more than 1.1 billion) grew from 723,000 to more than 1.7 million between 2010 and 2015. In turn, those apart of that demographic has continued to grow in the nation’s education system. The New American Economy found a total of 16% had a master’s degree, medical degree, law degree or a doctorate, compared with 11% of the U.S.-born population.”

According to Jeanne Batalova, a senior policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute think tank in Washington, many refugees are recipients of the “diversity visa program” which hopes to boost immigration from underrepresented nations, the population of African immigrants seem to be very diverse in their “educational, economic, and English proficiency profile”.

In other words, it appears African immigrants are comparatively held to a higher standard than other immigrants and respectively, U.S. citizens.

More than highlight the different levels of education held between African-Americans and African immigrants, the study refutes what many believe to be opinions held by U.S. President Donald Trump that immigrants contribute little to the American economy.

In fact, Andrew Lim, associate director of research at New American Economy, believes African immigrants are making America look good: “Overwhelmingly the evidence shows that (African immigrants) make a significant, positive economic contribution to the U.S. economy.”

If anything, the study is proof that immigrants are significant contributors to the U.S. economy and have little to no negative effect on overall wages or employment levels for U.S.-born workers.

Drop Mugabe Presidential Campaign Regalia – Zanu-PF Provincial tells Members

Zanu PF supporters have been ordered to immediately stop wearing party regalia displaying the face of deposed former President Robert Mugabe and wait for new attire emblazoned with a picture of their new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Zanu PF chairman for Manicaland province, Mike Madiro, made the order while addressing the party’s inter district meeting held at Mutare Hall Sunday.

“We have those with old party regalia such as Zambia cloths and T-Shirts displaying former President Robert Mugabe’s face, we should stop putting them on and wait for new regalia emblazoned with President Mnangagwa’s face so that we can market him in districts ahead of the polls. We want people to know him,” said Madiro.

He warned party members against despising their former leader, saying he deserves respect since he played a critical role in leading the country after the liberation struggle.

“Let’s respect President Mugabe; he is a statesman. He played his part that’s why President Mnangagwa said government is going to take care of him. He was only surrounded by criminals but he played his part,” said Madiro.

He warned members to be disciplined and follow party procedures saying those who behaved like exiled former national commissar Savior Kasukuwere and former higher education minister Jonathan Moyo will not be tolerated.

“Those who behave like G40 in the new dispensation will not be tolerated. Those who continue with the G40 behaviour will be sacked from the party,” said Madiro.

He thanked President Mnangagwa for elevating Environment minister, Oppah Muchinguri, to the post of party’s national chairperson.

“As Manicaland people, we would like to thank President Mnangagwa for recognising the people of Manyika by elevating one of our own into the Presidium.

“Ever since 1964 when the late Cde Hebert Chitepo was appointed national chairman of the party no one from Manicaland ever landed that top post,” said Madiro.


Nascam Pays N$886,917 in Royalties to Local Music Artists


Windhoek — Nascam collected N$1.6 million from the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) alone for the use of music on radio and TV. Namibian music artists received the most compared to international artists, and the total paid to local musicians was N$886,917 while international artists got N$116,915 in royalties.

Royalties payment is the collection of funds by Nascam from music users. The funds are collected via copyright music licence.

Local artists have for years complained they have not been receiving a fair share for their music being played on air.

Award-winning singer Adora Kisting who released her debut album in 2016 was of the opinion that since dropping her album her royalty payment would increase.

But to her surprise she received far less compared to what she got when she did not have an album.

She feels the organization is not doing enough justice towards collecting the hard-earned money from radio stations for artists. She is of the opinion radio stations do not all pay their dues.

The highest paid artist received N$21,145.00 and the lowest received was N$1,17.00, which means the 2017 royalties rate was at N$1,17 cent per song as per the collected amount.

The amount differs every year depending on how the market is doing when it comes to advertisements.

Joseph Ailonga, general manager at Radio Energy, feels Nascam is doing its best and it’s not as bad as artists make it out to be.

He is of the opinion that Nascam’s system is a simplified one, “which cannot be compared to developed countries which have advanced industries”.

“South Africa with such a huge population has pretty much the same issues, where artists complain about their royalties. The issue in Namibia is about which radio station is paying royalties.”

He lamented that the laws in the country don’t protect Nascam enough for it take radio stations to task.

Radio Energy has a policy that it plays 60 – 65 percent local music and the rest African and international music. Which in turn means that rom the money they make from advertisers 2.5 percent of the revenue goes straight to Nascam for royalties, which is a standard practice similar all over the world.

Ailonga added: “Energy usually does not pay less than N$70,000 to over N$180,000 to Nascam’s coffers on a yearly basis.”

One Africa Television on the other hand has implemented a different approach towards supporting the local industry. All music videos aired on the station are 100 percent local, meaning the money that is paid over to Nascam does not leave the Land of the Brave to other countries.

It too has to pay a percentage from its advertising revenue towards Nascam.

According to Nascam, for the year 2017 Namibia’s first free-to-air TV station (One Africa) has paid its dues, but the amount was too little to distribute amongst members.

The allocations for the year 2017 were as follows:

– Royalties payments to all local and international artists, at 60% of the collected royalties: N$1,003,832.00

– Nascam office administration fees, at 30% of collection is N$501,910.00.

– Nascam members’ social and cultural activities funds, at 10% of the collections is N$167,305.00

Nascam encourages the national broadcaster NBC, commercial/private broadcasters and community radio stations to continue to use more local music in order to keep the royalties in the country. Local radio stations make money through advertisements and outside broadcast promotions.

Nascam does not see why they should use international music more than local music, while local businesses pay the bills.

Rather, the money should be kept in the country to promote local artists and improve local music.


SOURCE:  New Era.

Rage Stir as Mums claims of Near-Rape In kenyan hospital.


Public outrage greeted claims of near-rape by new mothers at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) as they waited to be discharged.

In shocking Facebook posts, several women came out on Friday to complain how security at the national referral hospital is a big concern, especially for mothers whose newborns were in the nursery.

New mothers reside on the ground and third floors of the hospital, while babies are kept at a nursery on third floor.

The new mothers are only allowed to go breastfeed their children in intervals of two hours.

Some mothers claim that the journey from the ground floor to the nursery on third floor is a risky affair especially at night, when the hospital’s male staffers make attempts to rape them.

GIVEN BIRTH

One new mother narrated how she went to breastfeed her baby at about 3am only to be attacked. She had given birth through cesarean section two days before her ordeal.

She said she was only saved by her screams for help that scared off the alleged attacker.

Nurses at the hospital have been reportedly advising the women to be always moving in groups when heading to breastfeed their newborns.

On Friday, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU) Chairman Dr Samwel Oroko condemned the security laxity at the hospital and said they will pay it’s administrators a visit.

“We will on Friday visit KNH on a fact finding mission after receiving claims of the alleged sexual assault of a patient at Kenyatta National Hospital,” he said.

USE THE LIFTS

Another woman narrated how she was stopped by a nurse as she was about to go breastfeed her newborn. She claims the nurse told her not to use the lifts at night alone and that she should get inside any ward in case she heard the sound of trolley coming towards her.

Another victim narrated how she was chased down a corridor by an unknown male after she had just given birth through cesarean section.

At the time of filing this story, KMPDU officials were in a closed door meeting following up on claims of an alleged sexual assault of a female patient by a KNH staff.


SOURCE: Nairobi News
Kenyan doctor goes to court to legalise female genital mutilation

Kenyan doctor goes to court to legalise female genital mutilation


Nairobi — “I think that even for the decision of female circumcision, a woman can make that decision. And once she has made that decision, she should be able to access the best medical care to have it done.”

Kenyan doctor goes to court to legalise female genital mutilation
It is believed that FGC will keep a girl or woman from having sex before marriage and that it increases a man’s pleasure.

A Kenyan doctor is seeking to legalise female genital mutilation (FGM), arguing that a ban on the internationally condemned practice is unconstitutional and that adult women should be allowed to do what they want with their bodies.

Tatu Kamau filed a petition in the Machakos High Court in eastern Kenya on Wednesday claiming that women are being harassed and arrested for undergoing FGM.

“If women can decide to drink, to smoke, women can join the army, women can do all sorts of things that might bring them harm or injury, and yet they are allowed to make that decision,” Kamau told Kenya Television News (KTN).

“I think that even for the decision of female circumcision, a woman can make that decision. And once she has made that decision, she should be able to access the best medical care to have it done.”

An estimated 200 million girls and women worldwide have undergone FGM, which usually involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia and can cause a host of serious health problems, say health experts.

The ancient ritual – practised in at least 27 African countries and parts of Asia and the Middle East – is usually carried out by traditional cutters, often using unsterilised blades or knives.

In some cases, girls can bleed to death or die from infections. FGM can also cause fatal childbirth complications later in life, add health experts.

Kenya outlawed the practice in 2011, but it continues as communities believe it is necessary for social acceptance and increasing their daughters’ marriage prospects. One in five women and girls between 15 and 49 years in Kenya have undergone FGM, says the United Nations.

Kamau’s petition has sparked criticism from women’s rights campaigners who said overturning the ban would be a regressive step, setting back decades of gains made to improve the sexual and reproductive health of Kenya’s women and girls.

“I actually think it’s one of the worst ideas I’ve ever heard, and it’s even more shocking that it is coming from a medical doctor,” said Njoki Njehu from the charity Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center.

“Everything we know about FGM is that it has no benefit and causes a great deal of harm. We also know the majority of those who undergo FGM are young girls, not adults. We – all women’s rights groups – are ready to fight this if it comes to that.”

The petition is expected to heard by the court on Feb. 26.


– Reporting by Nita Bhalla @nitabhalla, Editing by Ros Russell

SOURCE: Thomas Reuters Foundation

NEC Forms Committee To Tackle Clashes Between Farmers And Herdsmen.


The National Economic Council rose from its first meeting this year in the State House, Abuja, thursday and announced that it has set up a committee to address the protracted conflicts and bloodletting between herdsmen and farmers in the country.

Briefing journalists at the end of the meeting, Kano State governor, Ibrahim Ganduje, disclosed that the committee was mandated to collaborate with the federal government in addressing mindless killings and violence between the two groups.

According to him, the committee chaired by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and consisting of nine state governors, will deploy attendant commitment to the task with a view to ensuring that those engaging in impunity and violence are severely punished.

He listed the nine other members of the committee as Governors Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Nasir el-Rufai (Kaduna), Bindow Jubrilla (Adamawa) and Samuel Ortom (Benue).

Others include Darius Ishaku (Taraba), Godwin Obaseki (Edo), David Umahi (Ebonyi) and Abiola Ajimobi (Oyo)

Ganduje said: “On the farmers-herdsmen crisis, council constituted a working group to collaborate with the federal government in addressing the issue of impunity regarding the killings and violence.

“The committee consisting of nine governors, under the chairmanship of the vice-president, will work in accordance with commensurate commitment to ensure that all perpetrators of violence are brought to book.

“The committee consists of the governors of Zamfara, Kaduna, Adamawa, Benue, Taraba, Edo, Plateau, Ebonyi and Oyo States. The committee has started its meeting right after this NEC meeting,” he said.

Ganduje who also gave an update on balances in three Federation Accounts up to January 15, 2018, said the Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, told the council that so far, N700 million had been disbursed to 11 states which had complied with the requirements for the disbursement of the budget support facility.

According to him, the minister insisted that the remaining states must comply with the criteria for the disbursement of the facility, in accordance with the federal government’s fiscal sustainability plan.

“The Minister of Finance reported to council that the balance in the ECA (Excess Crude Account) as of 15th January, 2018 stood at $2.317 billion, the Stabilisation Account: N9.730 billion, and the Natural Resources Development Fund: N115.108 billion.

“The Minister of Finance informed the council that N700 million has been disbursed to 11 states and the states that have outstanding payments are required to meet and complete the necessary obligations before the disbursement is effected.

“The minister told the council that the criteria for disbursement is tied to the federal government’s fiscal sustainability plan which the NEC and state governors had already approved,” he said.

In his briefing, the governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, said the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Udo Udoma, informed the council that the federal government was addressing the economic situation through the Economic Recovery Growth Plan (ERGP) 2017-2020.

According to Umahi, the minister enumerated the drive for implementation of the plan to include: stabilising the macro-economic environment, achieving agriculture and food security, ensuring energy sufficiency in power and petroleum products, improving transportation infrastructure and driving industrialisation with a focus on small and medium scale industries.

He added that the federal government was required to back its efforts in delivering the ERGP targets within the three years left and delivering quick and fast results on investments and job creations in some areas.

He listed such areas to include agriculture and transport, manufacturing and food processing, and power and gas.

According to him, focusing on these areas was meant to achieve two pillars: investment in critical projects and resolution of complex inter-agency problems which he said usually impede private sector investment.

“Council agreed that each state will have a contact point, which means that we will have 36 states plus the FCT (Federal Capital Territory) that will now start the process to implement these programmes with the Minister for Budget and National Planning,” Umahi added.

Furthermore, the Ebonyi governor said council approved the recommendations by the Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole and the Director-General of the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA), that between 0.5 and 1 per cent of the monthly allocations to the states be set aside to finance the implementation of a sustainable roadmap for tackling HIV/AIDS.

He also said council approved the recommendation for free antenatal services aimed at preventing the transmission of HIV from affected pregnant mothers to their babies.

He said council approved the presentations of the health minister and head of NACA for increased funding for HIV/AIDS treatment with a view to achieving the goal of eliminating the disease by 2030.

“Council considered an update on the need for domestic funding for the treatment of persons living with HIV/AIDS in Nigeria. The Minister of Health and Director-General of NACA made presentations seeking increased funding for HIV/AIDS services in Nigeria in order to achieve the goal of eliminating HIV/AIDS by the year 2030.

“The presentation stated that the increase would reduce the dependency on donor funding for HIV/AIDS treatment and the attendant development indicators. They also called for investment in HIV/AIDS treatment that will lead to increased life expectancy in the country and a proportionate increase in GDP.

 “They added that the need to invest in HIV/AIDS treatment is important because donor funding is on the decline because of economic circumstances.

“Reducing the gaps between those who require HIV medicare and treatment and those who are actually able to access it is another reason adduced for increasing investment in HIV/AIDS.

“The presentation asked NEC to consider and approve the resolution of the 59th Council on Health that at least between 0.5 and 1 per cent of the monthly federal allocations to states be earmarked for financing the implementation of the HIV/AIDS sustainability roadmap.

“Council was also asked to consider and approve the universal free antenatal services and abolition of user fees associated with the prevention of mother to child transmission services.

“Council was also asked to request that the state health insurance scheme including HIV/AIDS is an indicator for both testing and treatment, particularly as it relates to the community health insurance programme. Council noted and approved the recommendations above as requested.

“Let me also state that the minister presented the emergency situation on Lassa Fever, especially in Ebonyi State, where some health workers died from the disease last week.

“So, the minister said that it was agreed that the federal government was going to intervene very quickly in the cases of Ebonyi and Ogun States where this epidemic has developed,” Umahi submitted.

A statement issued later by the vice-president’s spokesman, Mr. Laolu Akande, said the NEC was also briefed on how the federal government had committed N2.8 trillion to the construction of roads and bridges.

According to him, this commitment had made it difficult for the government to fund such projects from consolidated government budget in the country.

He said the situation forced the government to resort to bond financing for roads and tax credit schemes.

Part of the bond issues, he said, included the N100 billion Sukuk bond to fund 25 priority roads; private-public partnership arrangements and tax credit for organisations to fund highway projects; the Road Trust Fund (RTF) approved by Federal Executive Council (FEC); and tolling and load control at some selected locations nationwide with modern facilities.

Sultan Exonerates Miyetti Allah

But even as the federal and state governments set up a committee to resolve the violent conflicts between cattle herders and famers, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Mohammad Sa’ad Abubakar III thursday exonerated the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria of the recent killings of farmers in some parts of the country, which has been blamed on members of the association.

The sultan, who is the grand patron of the association and spoke at the General Assembly of Interfaith Dialogue Forum for Peace (IDFP), contended that the association has no control over any Fulani man.

Abubakar observed that rather than attributed the massacre of innocent lives to Miyetti Allah, the blame should be laid on criminal elements.

He urged the federal government and the security agencies to immediately fish out the perpetrators of the heinous crimes and prosecute them.

“How is it possible for Fulani to attack settlements or communities to carry out killings of innocent people, destroy property and disappear without trace?” the Sultan asked.

Sultan Abubakar said the Miyetti Allah was formed over 32 years ago to cater to the welfare and advance the growth of Fulani businesses.

He said any Fulani man carrying arms was not a member of the Miyetti Allah because the group, which is now under his leadership as grand patron, was never a criminal group.

Abubakar, who deplored those calling for the ban of the group, asked them to also call for the proscription of other socio-cultural organisations in the country.

He said: “Miyetti Allah doesn’t control any Fulani man. Calling for the proscription of Miyetti Allah is the equivalent of calling for the proscription of other ethnic organisations like Afenifere, ACF, Ohanaeze and others.

“It was formed 32 years ago and these crises were not there. I am the patron and we have never asked Fulani herdsman to kill anybody.

“Any Fulani man caught killing is a criminal and should be treated as such. What are the security agencies doing? If they have failed, they should accept that they have failed.

“What is going on is not an ethnic problem; it is not a religious problem. It is an economic problem.”

The sultan further harped on dialogue, adding: “What we need is to sit down and dialogue. As religious leaders, we have to be very careful with what we say, because it carries weight and our followers listen to us very seriously.

“We must believe in one another, trust and love ourselves because that is what our two major religions advocate. We must continue to speak with one voice. We should not be labelling everybody a criminal because his brother is a criminal.”

The traditional ruler also kicked against those who had advocated for the labelling of Miyetti Allah as a terrorist group.

“No, we are not terrorists and can’t join terrorism,” he said.

On the Benue killings, he said: “This thing didn’t start today. In the past eight years, I have been to Benue many times to discuss this issue. We met for hours and agreements were reached, yet nothing has been implemented. Why? The former governors of Benue are still alive and they know all this.

“Even the present governor of Benue State, Samuel Ortom had written to me to come again on a peace mission, but we had not had the opportunity before this round of crisis.

“But we must get to the crux of this issue, how come these Fulani men are carrying guns without the security men knowing.

“I keep on repeating it, things are not okay, but they are not as bad as they are made to look especially on the social media. Let’s go round and speak to one another, not just staying in our comfort zones.”

In his submission at the event, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Dr. Samson Ayokunle accused some religious leaders of being insincere while commenting on the issue of the killing of innocent people in the country.

Ayokunle, represented by the Bishop of Yola, Bishop Stephen Manza, observed that as religious leaders, “we need to condemn evil in this country”.

“We are seated here today as religious leaders, but how sincere are we in what we say? Christians at all levels believe in peace. This is a time for us to speak with one voice.

“But my concern is whether we are sincere in what we are doing. We religious leaders, we deceive people a lot. We say one thing when we have another thing in mind. Our tribal and religious affiliations have overshadowed our Nigerianness.

“The problem is that we keep mute once a person is killed and a member of our faith is not the victim. Another thing is that we identify with people of our faith even when the person is doing the wrong thing.

“We all know that President Muhammadu Buhari is not handling the security situation in the country well but certain persons are not talking may be because he is a Muslim.

“And when Jonathan was there, some Christian leaders kept quiet because he is a Christian.”

The Archbishop of Abuja Catholic Dioceses, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, however, assured Nigerians that the problem of insecurity threatening the soul of the nation was surmountable if Nigerians built trust among themselves.

“There is nothing happening in this country now that is beyond us, it is within our hands. But just like the Bishop of Yola has said, we need sincerity.

“We shouldn’t be praying for peace, when in the real sense, we are the ones causing crises everywhere. Seeking for peace will bring peace if there is truth.

So, we must learn to build trust, trusting one another. We must join hands to do what is right,” he said.

Pregnant Woman Killed

However, as government and religious leaders tried to fashion out measures to stop the killings, a pregnant woman of Tiv origin was killed thursday by suspected cattle herders in Orin-Ekiti village, Ido-Osi Local Government Area of Ekiti State, barely a week after a herdsman was murdered in the Irele-Oke Ako axis of the state.

The woman, according to residents of the community, was shot dead before being hacked by those referred to by the locals as “Bororo (pastoralist) herdsmen” in the village’s farm settlement in the early hours of thursday.

The woman was said to have been shot in the head and her eyes plucked out.

Fayose had on Wednesday held a meeting with Fulani residents and those of Tiv ethnic stock from Benue State on the need for peaceful co-existence.

The meeting was held after the discovery of the dead herdsman in the Irele-Oke Ako community.

An indigene of the town, who was a former chairman of Ido/Osi Local Government Area, Mr. Sanmi Olubummo, and confirmed the killing of the pregnant woman on the phone, disclosed that another victim of the attack was receiving treatment at a hospital.

Olubummo said policemen from Ido-Ekiti divisional headquarters visited the scene of the killing, saying the situation was calm.

“The incident happened inside the Orin farm settlement. Nobody knows what led to the crisis in the early hours of Thursday but our people said the Bororo herdsmen killed the pregnant woman.”


SOURCE:This Day.

'Free water for poor' scheme being charted

Free water, Shithole, Kanu Nwankwo: Your Friday briefing

Football star Didier Drogba opens first school in Ivory Coast

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The explosion occurred at about 5:05 p.m., Abdulkadir Ibrahim, a spokesperson of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said in a statement.

“Emergency Response Team (ERT) from the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Borno State Emergency Management Agency (BOSEMA) and Red Cross have responded to a suicide bombing incident which occurred around Muna Garage along Mafa Dikwa road in Maiduguri Borno state.


'Free water for poor' scheme being chartedIn an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily News’, a senior official, Mr Kiula Kingu, said the offer would be availed to unprivileged residents close to DAWASCO water sources.

“The offer will start in this financial year by encouraging residents in areas where DAWASCO sources are currently located and many others yet to receive the sources to apply for the offer by sending the requests DAWASCO,” he said, stressing that the offer was strictly for those who were genuinely unable to afford bills for water connection.


Kenyan artist back to school after 10 years
President Uhuru Kenyatta and singer Fancy Chepkorir. Photo: Nairobi News

Ms Fancy Cherotich, whose stage name is Marion, composed a song in praise of Jubilee Party which hit the airwaves during electioneering period.

She will now join Isinya Adult Education Centre to pursue secondary education after nominated MP Gideon Keter offered to pay fees and personal expenses through her four years in high school.

The mother of four who dropped out in Form Two due to lack of fees, could not hide her joy saying she had gotten a second chance in life.


Paris fashion week: off-White keeps it business casual

The autumn menswear shows in Paris began this week with shock and hype: shock that Kim Jones was stepping down as men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, and hype generated by Off-White fashion house, which caused a near-ruckus of bumbags outside the Pompidou Centre on Wednesday morning.


Ebba Kalondo, AU Commission spokesperson, told news agencies on 12 January that she was ‘frankly alarmed’ by Trump’s vulgar remarks – allegedly referring to Haiti and African countries as ‘s**thole countries’. She said Trump’s statements were ‘particularly surprising’ since ‘the US remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity’.


Kanu Nwankwo laments seizure of his properties by AMCON
Kanu Nwankwo. Photo: Guardian Nigeria

In a statement by the ex-international footballer and made availble to LEADERSHIP, he said it is no longer news that his property which is known as Herdly Apartments located at Victoria Island Lagos has been put under temporary possession of AMCON on account of purported indebtedness which remains unproven Since November 2015 till date.


Editorial

Buhari departs for medical treatment 5

It will be a quick way to push ourselves into abyss if we continue to pretend that what is happening is not out of Buhari’s control, may be we can attribute that to his gross incompetency and uselessness, but Buhari’s government has been hijacked by cabals out of his control and he is really helpless – hence the silent over rapid killings across the country without any action from the government and the continued show of shame taking place in the government house every day.


Your daily Briefing is published everyday at 6 a.m. Nigerian Time and updated on the web all morning by The BloomgistDon’t miss Your Evening Recap, weeknights at 11:45 p.m.

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UN agencies in urgent bid to prevent famine in Kasai

UN agencies in urgent bid to prevent famine in Kasai

Kinshasa — In a stark warning, three UN agencies – the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) – say time is running out to save hundreds of thousands of lives in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

UN agencies in urgent bid to prevent famine in Kasai
Displaced Congolese families from Kasai Province queue for food, Photo: HCR / John Wesseles

Farmers – who fled due to conflict – have missed three consecutive planting seasons. This has left people with almost nothing to eat. Food assistance is failing to fill the gap. Only 400,000 out of the 3.2 million severely food insecure people in Kasai received assistance in December. More than 750,000 are still displaced. Around 630,000 people have returned to their burned down villages after hiding in the forest, they must be helped to resume food production. Over ninety percent of rural communities depend entirely on agriculture.

“Agriculture is the only way to become productive again. Not only does it generate food and income for families, but it restores hope, dignity and self-reliance”, said Alexis Bonte, FAO Representative ad interim in the DRC.

The nutritional status of children is particularly critical. “At least 400,000 children under five have severe, acute malnutrition,” said UNICEF’s Acting Representative in the DRC, Tajudeen Oyewale. “They are likely to die unless they urgently receive health, water, sanitation and nutrition support. Longer-term food security must be restored and feeding and care practices improved so that children can have access to the adequate quality food they need.”

The UN and its partners are racing against time to feed the people of Kasai, fight malnutrition among its children and build resilience. But the odds are stacked against them: infrastructure is limited, security poor and the cash short.

“There are signs that donors are beginning to respond, but resources are woefully inadequate given to the scale of human suffering”, said WFP’s Country Director in DRC, Claude Jibidar. “The Congolese government and the international community must re-engage on all fronts to prevent a major famine in Kasai. Failure to do so, immediately and collectively, means many people will die.”


SOURCE: World Food Programme (Rome) 

The African Union finally wakes up to Trump

The African Union finally wakes up to Trump

ANALYSIS


The reaction of the African Union (AU) to United States (US) President Donald Trump’s latest utterances during a discussion in the White House about migration and refugees came as a surprise to many AU watchers.

The African Union finally wakes up to Trump

Ebba Kalondo, AU Commission spokesperson, told news agencies on 12 January that she was ‘frankly alarmed’ by Trump’s vulgar remarks – allegedly referring to Haiti and African countries as ‘s**thole countries’. She said Trump’s statements were ‘particularly surprising’ since ‘the US remains a global example of how migration gave birth to a nation built on strong values of diversity and opportunity’.

Kalondo’s boss, AU Commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, met with US ambassador to the AU Mary Beth Leonard at his headquarters in Addis Ababa on 15 January. ‘I took the opportunity to express the AU’s outrage’ at Trump’s comments, Mahamat tweeted after the meeting. He said earlier that he was ‘dismayed’ given that ‘the US is a unique example of how migration contributes to nation-building based on the values of diversity, tolerance and opportunity’.

Many are surprised by the AU’s reaction to Trump’s latest utterances about migration and refugees

The AU mission to the United Nations (UN) in Washington asked for a retraction and an apology and said the remarks ‘dishonour the celebrated American creed and respect for diversity and human dignity’.

This flurry of reaction from the AU is unusual for an organisation that rarely speaks out on current affairs issues affecting ordinary African citizens. Up to now, official AU reaction to Trump’s statements and travel bans, which have affected several African countries, has been muted.

In January last year, at the 28th AU summit in Addis Ababa, Mahamat’s predecessor Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma did remark that ‘the very country to whom people were taken as slaves during the Trans-Atlantic slave trade has now decided to ban refugees from some of our countries’. This aligns with some of the comments from the AU last week. In September last year, Mahamat said he was ‘perplexed’ by Chad’s inclusion on Trump’s travel ban – but there didn’t seem to be any official AU statement.

The fact that hundreds of thousands of African refugees and migrants risk their lives to seek a better life elsewhere has certainly been a tricky issue for the AU. There has been little formal discussion in the AU since the crisis of migrant deaths in the Mediterranean started several years ago. Only late last year, after a CNN video showing migrants being sold as slaves in Libya, did Mahamat and the AU make plans to help get the migrants home to safety. A high-level meeting on migration was also held in Morocco earlier this month. A report on migration is expected to be tabled by Morocco at the 30th AU summit starting in Addis Ababa next week.

So does this expression of outrage against Trump mean the AU will be more forthright in future? Will it engage with the rest of the world on the issue of migration and refugees?

Diplomats have tried to mend fences by stressing the existing good Africa-US relations

Of course, the downside of taking a stand is that it leaves the AU open to attack. Since Kalondo’s remarks, social media has been abuzz with accusations against the AU’s habitual inaction and failure to condemn ‘corruption and bad governance’ in Africa. Others say the AU should ‘focus on human rights and improving our economies rather than fixating on Trump’s newest diplomatic blunder’.

South African columnist and gender activist Sisonke Msimang says Africans shouldn’t waste their time reacting to Trump, but should rather acknowledge the hardships of Africa’s poor.

Despite the criticism, the AU’s statements and Kalondo’s quick reaction could be seen as a move in the right direction for the AU. John Stremlau, visiting professor in international relations at the University of the Witwatersrand, says Kalondo’s statement drew attention to the US tradition of aspiring to higher moral values. Stremlau recently authored a report on the first few months of Trump’s presidency. He says by emphasising ‘shared values’ of democracy and civic principles in the US and Africa, Kalondo is speaking ‘over the head’ of Trump to those in the US who seek the ‘moral high ground’.

African heads of state and the AU have been largely silent over the issue of Trump up to now, because they have been perplexed, just like other world leaders and analysts – and no one ‘could see what this is leading to’, says Stremlau.

He says while Trump’s authoritarianism, ‘tribalism’, attacks on the media and repression of critics will resonate with African strongmen, there is a ‘historic shift’ in Africa towards creating ‘regional diplomatic norms’. The AU’s Constitutive Act and the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance are examples.

Following the AU statements, several African leaders – including Ghana’s former president John Dramani Mahama and Senegal’s President Macky Sall – have spoken out against Trump’s comments, calling them ‘racist’ and ‘insulting’. In several countries the US ambassadors were summoned to explain Trump’s remarks – a démarche, in diplomatic terms, that sends a strong signal of disapproval from a host country.

A report on migration is expected to be tabled by Morocco at the AU summit in Addis Ababa next week

The position of US ambassador in South Africa has been vacant for over a year now since former ambassador Patrick Gaspard left at the end of 2016. The fact that Trump hasn’t yet appointed ambassadors in key countries like South Africa and elsewhere in Africa, and that the post of assistant secretary of state for Africa is still vacant, indicates his general indifference when it comes to the continent.

The diplomats who are in place have tried to mend fences in the past few days by stressing the existing good relations between Africa and the US. The acting ambassador in Pretoria said her country ‘deeply respects the people of Africa’. The US embassy to the AU tweeted that ‘the US deeply values its enduring partnerships with Africa’.

The comments made by African leaders at the upcoming AU summit in Addis Ababa starting on 22 January will indicate whether or not these diplomatic overtures have been successful.

Liesl Louw-Vaudran, ISS Consultant

'Free water for poor' scheme being charted

‘Free water for poor’ scheme being charted


DAR ES SALAAM Water and Sewerage Corporation (DAWASCO) is charting plans for offering free water connection to residents who are unable to afford bills.

'Free water for poor' scheme being charted

In an exclusive interview with the ‘Daily News’, a senior official, Mr Kiula Kingu, said the offer would be availed to unprivileged residents close to DAWASCO water sources.

“The offer will start in this financial year by encouraging residents in areas where DAWASCO sources are currently located and many others yet to receive the sources to apply for the offer by sending the requests DAWASCO,” he said, stressing that the offer was strictly for those who were genuinely unable to afford bills for water connection.

Mr Kingu explained that the offer was among the firm’s 2018 water supply enhancement strategies, for assuring the majority of Dar es Salaam residents of clean and safe water supply, for social welfare promotion and economic development.

He said those to be connected for free would be allowed to use the water freely and pay in accordance to what they could afford either on a monthly basis, through loans or in whichever other way they would deem appropriate.

“Once such people are connected to water supply points, they would use it freely without pressure for meeting monthly payment deadlines, and won’t be inconvenienced by disconnections if they fail to pay,” he explained.

He said the aim was to ensure that DAWASCO reached and supplied the precious liquid to the majority of the residents towards the enhancement of the community’s development and the nation at large. DAWASCO’s projection was to attain a target of 400,000 new customers planned June this year.

Currently, DAWASCO has about 220,000 active customers located in Dar es Salaam and Coast regions.

The Project Manager, Engineer Ramadhan Kassim, said DAWASCO had come up with various short and long water development projects for implementation starting this year in order to cover as many people as possible, plus major customers like public institutions and factories.


SOURCE: Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam) 

Video: Nigeria's Bobsled Team features in Beats By Dre's new campaign

Niger Delta Avengers, Omotola Jalade: Your Thursday briefing

Video: Nigeria's Bobsled Team features in Beats By Dre's new campaign

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Good morning, Here are yesterday’s top stories, and a look ahead – Click on any title to read the complete story.

Family of boy in 'racist' H&M hoodie forced to move out
H&M U.K. advertisement screenshot. Photo: Premium Times

In an article published by Mail Online on Monday, the Kenyan parents of the young boy at the centre of the row expressed their fears over the saga and how it will affect their son.

Terry Mango and her partner Frank Odhiambo are reported to have also given an interview to ITV where they spoke about the global outrage that has greeted the story.

H&M stores in South Africa trashed over ‘racist’ hoodie.


Niger Delta Militants3

The group claimed responsibility for most attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta in 2016, which cut Nigeria’s crude production from a peak of 2.2 million barrels per day to near 1 million barrels per day. That was the lowest level seen in Africa’s top oil producer in at least 30 years.

“This round of attacks will be the most deadly and will be targeting the deep sea operations of the multinationals,” it said in a statement on its website.


Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde to celebrate 40th birthday with five-day event
Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde. Photo: Premium Times

To celebrate her new age, the award-winning actress has said that she will stage a five-day event.

The event will kick off from February 7 to 11.

According to the actress who made her acting debut in 1995 at age 17 in Venom of Justice, the week-long event will begin with a widows and orphan birthday outreach.

This, she says, will be followed by a couple’s retreat, a renaissance trip to trace the beginning of slavery and a symposium with the theme “Mental Slavery and The Emancipation Of The Black Race.


They said the detained leaders can be compared to Nigeria’s late leaders who fought for independence including Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo.

The secessionist leaders were taken into custody by the Nigerian Defence Intelligence Agency after they crossed the border into Nigeria for a meeting on January 5.

The Anglophone Cameroonians, led by their president, Julius Tabe, declared the secession of Federal Republic of Ambazonia from Cameroon in October 2017.


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Fear that e-learning will erode African knowledge, but this isn't true

Fear that e-learning will erode African knowledge, but this isn’t true

ANALYSIS 


Fear that e-learning will erode African knowledge, but this isn't true
File photo by Julius Mwelu/Urban Gateway

When people discuss the challenges related to e-learning (the use of electronic technology to facilitate learning), they tend to focus on access. This can mean access to financial resources to buy equipment as well as geographical constraints: some regions are simply too remote and underdeveloped to be properly connected to the internet – or even the electricity grid – which are of course both crucial for e-learning systems.

There are also socio-cultural challenges to the use of e-learning, particularly in Africa. Critics argue that the use of e-learning in African higher education could erode African culture and identity. They fear that e-learning platforms might prioritise Western culture and that this is somehow “un-African”. These critics fear that the use of e-learning will somehow destabilise the existing patterns and behaviours in African higher education.

But, based on my research, I would argue that e-learning is very important in Africa. This technology offers a chance to increase communication in the process of learning and to stretch educational offerings across borders. E-learning can also allow academics to build new networks beyond their own borders. So while knowledge from and about the West can come to Africa, the reverse is also true: the continent’s own knowledge can reach much further through e-learning.

There should be a drive across Africa to invest in e-learning, as has been seen in similar economies like Latin America and India.

Most African countries have progressive policies related to e-learning, and have embraced it in theory. However, at the practice level, a lot still remains to be done, especially by those who must share this information: educators.

At the same time, mechanisms must be put in place to ensure that it’s used without being perceived to undermine African people’s efforts, knowledge and cultures.

An important social innovation

Those who criticise e-learning because of its perceived threat to African cultural identities clearly see globalisation – and the resulting spread of technology and innovation – as a danger that aggravates the disparities between the Western world and African countries.

But e-learning is both a technological and a social innovation. At its best, it can address problems within a particular social context. For instance, my colleagues and I have used e-learning to complement our teaching in a Masters programme in health information management in Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa. This has saved money since students and staff didn’t have to travel. It’s also been an opportunity for invaluable cross-cultural learning.

African cultural identities will not be eroded by e-learning. On the contrary, the sort of cross-cultural experiences found in my example help to strengthen the continent’s cultural identity. At the same time, they are a way to better understand and accommodate diversity.

Critics also suggest that e-learning is an example of forcing technology on African people. This idea arises because of the power and economic disparities between the West and Africa. But it lacks a proper understanding of the problems the technologies are meant to solve.

For instance, large swathes of Africa are remote. People in those areas want to continue learning, but struggle to do so because they are far from cities or major centres. E-learning is a way to appropriately respond to this demand, quickly and cheaply.

Part of the problem here is that people do not distinguish between westernisation and modernity. Westernisation is cultural emulation of the West which leads to unquestionable adoption of Western ideologies, technologies and content. Modernisation is the acceptance of changes that are compatible to – and brought about by – science, technology and their functional requirements in people’s lives.

A resistance to modernity, in the form of e-learning, could actually hinder socio-economic development in Africa.

Allaying fears

E-learning is a mature socio-technical innovation. It has many benefits and can address some of the educational challenges in African higher education. Its critics must be heard so that their fears can be overcome. Those of us working in the field of e-learning, as well as those providing the platforms, will need to help people to distinguish between the sources of the technology – often, Western nations or organisations – from the benefits it brings.

It will also be important to prepare Africa’s educators for this technology. They must know how to use it, how to infuse it with local and relevant content, and how to provide students with authentic learning.


SOURCE: The Conversation

Are Kenya and Uganda obstacles to South Sudan peace?

Are Kenya and Uganda obstacles to South Sudan peace?


South Sudanese lobbies have spelt out four key issues that could be obstacles to the February peace talks.

The groups say that the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad) should address the lack of a mechanism for monitoring ceasefires and armed groups that were left out of the cessation of hostilities agreement such as that led by Gen Peter Gatdet; the continued confinement of Dr Riek Machar in South Africa; the controversial 32 states; and the role of two key Igad members Uganda and Kenya, who are perceived to have taken sides.

Experts on South Sudan say that unless these key issues are addressed, the talks could be in jeopardy from the various interest groups.

Rev Paul Yugusuk, the Anglican archbishop in charge of the Equatoria Province, told The EastAfrican that the lack of serious monitoring mechanism is the biggest weakness to the peace process where warring parties violate a ceasefire comfortable in the knowledge that there would be no sanctions.

He said that the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission, led by Festus Mogae, and the Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring Mechanism, have proved that they are incapable of holding the antagonists to account.

Since the cessation of hostilities agreement was signed in Addis Ababa on December 21, both the government of President Salva Kiir and the rebel Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement-In Opposition (SPLM-IO) have traded accusations of the five violations that have occurred.

Foreign interests

The second biggest issue concerns the interests of Uganda and Kenya, which are seen to be an obstacle to the final solution.

Uganda, having deployed troops on the side of President Kiir when the war started in 2013, civil society claim that Kampala is opposed to an arms embargo since it is the main supplier of weapons to government forces.

According to the chairman of the Senior Youth of South Sudan, Gabriel Dak, the issue of interests of some countries in the region has been an obstacle.

“Uganda has been part and parcel of the war. Although President Yoweri Museveni has tried to unite three SPLM factions, there is concern that Uganda’s support emboldens President Kiir to continue pursuing a military solution,” said Mr Dak.

Kenya — which is the rapporteur of the August 2015 peace agreement — is now being accused by the rebels of favouring President Kiir by allowing the abduction and deportation of SPLM-IO members who live in the country.

After facilitating the deportation of the former spokesman of Dr Machar, James Gatdet in 2016, Nairobi is now being accused of allowing the recent abduction and deportation of rebel appointed governor of Kapoeta State, Marko Lokidor Lochapio, who was abducted from Kakuma Refugee Camp.

According to the SPLM-IO deputy military spokesman, Col Gabriel Lam, Mr Lochapio was driven to Nadapal where he was handed over to South Sudan national security service.

The third challenge is the government’s opposition to the inclusion of the controversial 32 states in the Igad revitalisation programme with insiders saying it is an internal matter, while the regional body has identified it as source of fresh conflicts that are not related to the dispute between President Kiir and Dr Machar.

The fourth challenge is whether to allow Dr Machar to directly participate in the process.

“The main objective of the revitalisation process is to identify the problem and Dr Machar is one of the problems, so he should be allowed to part of the solution,” said Mr Dak.


SOURCE: The East Africa

Disabled people in Africa get raw deals| What's been done to fix this

Disabled people in Africa get raw deals| What’s been done to fix this

ANALYSIS 


The African Commission has drafted a new protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights that emphasises the importance of the right of people with disability to have equal recognition before the law. It also provides for a range of rights, including the right to education, personal liberty, political participation and the right to live in the community.

Disabled people in Africa get raw deals| What's been done to fix this

This is welcome news, particularly for people living with disabilities.

It includes those with mental illnesses, that have little protection under both domestic and regional African law. Even the African Charter, the continent’s flagship human rights instrument, doesn’t make specific provisions for them.

The gap became clear in 2001 when the African Commission heard a pivotal case against The Gambia brought by mental health advocates. It was filed on behalf of patients who had been detained in a psychiatric unit in The Gambia.

The Commission found that The Gambia was in violation of several rights that are protected under the African Charter. But, significantly, it decided that the Charter didn’t protect the personal liberty of people detained for medical reasons.

The finding endorsed the practice that allows people suffering from mental illness or disability to be forcefully detained if their detention is viewed as necessary for their treatment. The implications of the decision were wide ranging, particularly in Africa where cultural and traditional practices towards people with mental disability are rife with human rights abuses.

The adoption of the draft protocol is therefore a step in the right direction.

Attitudes to mental illness

People with mental illness are often hidden from public view. This is done either to shield them from harm, or to protect their families from shame.

Actions like this stem from the fact that disability in Africa is perceived more as a curse than an illness. People living with mental disability are pitied and protected from society.

People living with mental disability are also frequently detained in traditional healing facilities and religious institutions such as prayer camps. While these practices are purported to be in their interests, human rights abuses such as chaining, beating, forced seclusion and denial of food, are often reported.

Within medical facilities the treatment of people living with mental disability also lacks a human rights approach. They can be detained in medical or psychiatric units without appropriate diagnosis. Abusesincluding torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments or treatments often occur.

In the Gambia case for instance, some of the abuses in the Campama Pyschiatric Unit included prolonged detention, compulsory treatment, verbal and physical abuse and being forced to live under unsanitary and degrading conditions.

Protecting human rights

The commission’s approach to mental disability was unusual. Other international and regional human rights instruments such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the European Convention on Human Rights, and the American Convention on Human Rights protect the personal liberty of people with mental disability.

These state that detaining people just because they have a mental disability or illness is arbitrary. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities goes even further. It emphasises that the mere existence of a disability is never a sufficient basis for the deprivation of liberty.

The African Commission’s draft protocol reflects these provisions by seeking to protect the personal liberty of people living with mental disability. It states that disability is not a sufficient basis for the deprivation of liberty.

If African Union member states adopt and ratify the protocol, it will be illegal to detain or institutionalise mentally ill or disabled people simply on the basis of their illness.

This is good news. But the draft provisions could face resistance from some member states. Governments might have to make significant financial commitments to ensure that people can access their rights.

On top of this, the protocol needs to be fleshed out to guide African governments on how to address and eradicate harmful practices.

Will the protocol see the light of day?

The Commission adopted a final draft of the Protocol in February 2016. It has already been submitted to the African Union to go through the treaty making process. Once this process is completed the draft protocol could become a legal instrument for African Union member states to ratify.

If that happens, people living with disabilities would have an alternative avenue to seek redress when their rights are not effectively protected domestically. In The Gambia for instance, people detained arbitrarily on the basis of their disability would be able to seek protection from the African Commission if domestic courts failed to protect their rights.


SOURCE: The Conversation

Rwandan elected Vice Chair of UN Human Rights Council

Rwandan elected Vice Chair of UN Human Rights Council


Rwandan Ambassador to Switzerland Dr Francois Ngarambe has been nominated to serve as Vice President of the Human Rights Council.

Ngarambe also serves as Rwanda’s Permanent Representative to the UN, World Trade Organisation and other international bodies with headquarters in Geneva

He was nominated on Wednesday in Geneva, by the African Group in the council comprising 13 countries representing the rest of the continent.

“Africa nominated Rwanda to serve as Vice President of the Human Rights Council. I am honoured to have just been elected in that capacity. I pledge commitment to advance the cause of human rights,” Ngarambe said in a tweet.

“This nomination and then election reflects an African Group’s vote of confidence in Rwanda, endorsed by the Human Right Council; that confidence is recognition of Rwanda’s capability and commitment to contribute to global efforts to advance the universal cause of human rights,” Ngarambe told The New Times later.

Rwanda’s membership to the Human Rights Council will end on December 31, 2018.

The envoy reiterated Rwanda’s commitment aimed at strengthening the Human Rights Council, making it more efficient and more effective, and more focused on people and delivery than on bureaucracy and procedures.

“Prevention of human rights abuses and violations, building capacity to prevent and/or address human rights crises will be in the core of our contribution,” he added.

During Wednesday’s elections, Slovenia was elected president of the council, while Germany, Philippines and Chile share the vice-presidency with Rwanda for a one year mandate.

The council is made up of 47 Member States.


SOURCE: The New Times

What 2018 holds in store for Tanzania as political unrest looms

What 2018 holds in store for Tanzania as political unrest looms


Tanzania should be prepared for uncomfortable months ahead in view of the political unrest in neighboring countries, says DW columnist Anaclet Rwegayura – adding that “God has given Tanzania a second chance to survive.”

Tanzanians start every year with all sorts of predictions by local fortune-tellers. However they provide no broad outline of likely events.

2018 is another year when citizens of this country have no choice but to face the world’s advancing digital economy and political challenges on their own.

Improved productivity should be the main driver of all endeavors to meet the nation’s needs in every sector. First and foremost, Tanzanians must face the challenge of being more dynamic and industrious to accelerate economic growth.

President John Magufuli has articulated a future-focused pathway for the nation that appears to be reborn at age 56 (since independence) and struggling to find its rightful place under the sun.

Primary leadership task

It’s unquestionable that creating vision and direction toward the future is one of the primary tasks of leadership. In fact that is the truest test of great leadership.

Presently, almost every government ministry and institution is in some sort of a rehearsal of its plans to do an effective job. Sometimes, that requires hours of nitty-gritty work by leaders to help workers under their charge perform properly.

Over the past two years, the president has worked hard to clear administrative and political hurdles which had bogged down the country’s progress due to public service inefficiency.

In a nutshell, the administration aims at raising Tanzania to the status of a middle-income economy by 2025, an agenda that should leave no one behind. It goes without saying that every citizen must broaden the lens with which they look at the challenge of development.

Structural reform required

Reaching that goal requires structural transformations, the eradication of poverty and illiteracy, and giving parents hope to see their infants take their first steps, grow up and mature. Above all, Tanzanians need to build national resilience so that their nation could recover quickly in case of unforeseen setbacks.

If it were fortune-telling, God has given this country a second chance to survive and escape the misery that would come with perpetual underdevelopment.

The public in general see the government as doing a fabulous job at whatever it undertakes. For them, progress must be noticed every passing month, despite the fact that personal incomes have dwindled.

President Magufuli has put the brakes on outflows from state coffers and, consequently, sources of fake private incomes have dried up.

Analysts blame the laissez-faire attitude on the past guards of public funds while the people appreciate the president’s ability to do his job. Money is being pumped into the economy through modernization and construction of railways and highway networks, airports, power plants, educational institutions, mining and tourism – among other ventures.

If 2018 was Magufuli’s final year in office, it would pain Tanzanians to bid him good-bye. His efforts to make sure that public interests are taken care of properly have won the hearts of many, including the opposition camp.

Tanzania’s opposition parties, however, seem to be off-track at a time when their members are decamping to the grand old Chama Cha Mapinduzi party, on grounds of satisfaction with the government’s performance.

Peace thanks to a democratic tradition

None of them appears to be at the forefront in terms of articulating hitches with the way the country is run. Noticing the opposition’s growth in leadership ability getting stunted, the people’s minds flash to the past years of one-party rule but with unexplained questions.

Is the opposition working itself out of its official role? What will the New Year bring to Tanzania’s political arena?

What’s clear is that leaders of the opposition have failed to consider downward mentoring of leadership that would take over when they step down.

It is often taken for granted that Tanzania’s peace is related to the country’s democratic tradition and stability. There is some truth in this belief. But the country still faces a big challenge to address the broad social questions of inequality and injustice in order to reinforce the democratic tradition.

Tanzanians, for this reason, cannot dare say they are no longer fearful of what tomorrow will bring. They should be prepared for uncomfortable months and some years ahead, especially, in view of political unrest swirling around in neighboring countries because their effects can spill over borders.


SOURCE: DW