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Archive for August, 2014

Sudan: ICRC signs country agreement with government

Posted by African Press International on August 31, 2014

GENEVA, Switzerland, August 28, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) today signed a newly revised country agreement. The legal document formalizes relations between the Sudanese authorities and the ICRC, and will replace a previous agreement dating from 1984.

The Sudanese authorities suspended the ICRC’s activities in Sudan on 1 February, citing technical issues, and asked the organization to review the country agreement that sets out its legal and diplomatic status in the country.

Currently, the ICRC is discussing with the Sudanese authorities the practical arrangements for restarting its humanitarian operations in the country. “Negotiations have been constructive in recent weeks, and the signing of a new country agreement is a positive and essential step towards resuming our humanitarian work in Sudan,” said Jean-Christophe Sandoz, who heads the ICRC delegation in Sudan. “We hope to conclude our dialogue with the authorities soon.”

“The revised agreement sets forth the ICRC’s legal and diplomatic status in the country and continues to recognize our organization’s mandate, which is to assist and protect victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence,” explained Mr Sandoz. “This type of agreement is not specific to Sudan; the ICRC has similar accords with about 100 other countries around the world.”

In 2013, about 1.5 million people in Sudan benefited from ICRC aid. “Our staff are eager to pick up where they left off, helping people in conflict-stricken areas,” said Mr Sandoz.

The ICRC has been working in Sudan since 1978 and extended its operations to Darfur in 2003. The organization’s mandate is set out in the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, to which Sudan, along with 194 other States, is party.

 

SOURCE

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

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UNMISS condemns the detention of IGAD ceasefire monitors in Unity State

Posted by African Press International on August 26, 2014

JUBA, South Sudan, August 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) condemns the detention of a team of six Intergovermental Authority on Development (IGAD) ceasefire monitors and three aircrew in Buoth (35 km South West of Bentiu in Unity State) on Saturday, 23 August 2014 by forces allied to Sudan People’s Liberation Army In Opposition. A Sudan People’s Liberation Army liason officer, who was part of the team, died during the detention period reportedly due to natural causes.

The monitors were part of a verification team and were in Unity State on a routine mission.

UNMISS assisted in locating and flying the ceasefire monitors and the aircrew to the UNMISS base in Bentiu on Sunday, 24 August 2014.

Efforts are currently underway by the Mission to recover the IGAD-contracted aircraft that flew the monitors to Bouth.

The Mission reiterates its full support for the IGAD mediation and the monitoring and verification mechanism, as agreed to by both parties on 23 January 2014, and calls for the full cooperation of all parties in finding a peaceful and durable solution to the current crisis.

 

SOURCE 

UNITED NATIONS

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Head of UNAMID addresses launch of Doha Document security arrangements in El Fasher

Posted by African Press International on August 26, 2014

EL FASHER (DARFUR), Sudan, August 25, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The security arrangements for integrating about 1,350 former combatants from Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)– Sudan into the Government of Sudan military and police apparatus were launched today in a ceremony in El Fasher, North Darfur. The exercise is one of the main provisions stipulated in Doha Document for Peace in Darfur (DDPD).

In his speech at the ceremony, the African Union-United Nations Joint Special Representative (JSR) and Joint Chief Mediator for Darfur, Mr. Mohamed Ibn Chambas, highlighted the implementation of the security arrangement as one of the means of achieving peace in Darfur. “The launching of the DDPD security arrangements is a milestone in the implementation of the Doha Document,” he said.

“Let me take this opportunity therefore, to congratulate you all, particularly the signatories to the DDPD, for making it happen,” the Head of UNAMID said. “It is a clear testimony of your commitment and collective efforts towards bringing an end to the conflict in Darfur.”

Mr. Chambas stressed the Mission’s support to the all parties of the conflict. “UNAMID will continue to emphasize the need for cooperation and coordination among all concerned parties,” he mentioned.

The leader of JEM- Sudan, Brig. Gen. Bakheit Abdallah Dabajo, said that the security arrangements will help in ensuring security, stability and development in the country in general, and Darfur in particular. “JEM-Sudan combatants will be part of the troops to defend the country,” he explained.

“We call upon our brothers who are non-signatories to join the Doha Document, because peace is for all,” Dabajo said, and added that his movement did not sign for the sake of positions, but to build their country. “Enough is enough for war and bloodshed,” he concluded.

The ceremony, which took place at the Sixth Military Division square, was attended by the Wali (Governor) of North Darfur Osman Kibir, the Chairman of the Darfur Regional Authority Tigani Seisi, and other dignitaries from the Government of Sudan, JEM-Sudan and UNAMID.

 

SOURCE 

United Nations – African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID)

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“Darfur: The Genocide the World Got Tired Of,” The Huffington Post, 16 August 2014

Posted by African Press International on August 23, 2014

By Eric Reeves

On August 5, 2014 the displaced persons of El Salam camp in South Darfur were brutally assaulted by military and security forces of the National Islamic Front/National Congress Party regime in Khartoum. Tens of thousands of civilians, mainly women and children, were terrorized during this ferocious operation; a great many were beaten, humiliated, and robbed. Dozens were arrested, only to be released when no evidence could be adduced to justify the arrests. Lack of evidence, however, is not always sufficient to guarantee release, and a number of those arrested remain in custody and subject to torture.

The force that assaulted El Salam camp was large in number—they came in a reported 140 vehicles—and heavily armed. Photographs that have come to me from a confidential source at the location bear out what had been earlier reported by Radio Dabanga, virtually our only news source about violence in Darfur, once the a cause célèbre among American and European civil society. If not for the Radio Dabanga dispatch, El Salam would have been another in a long list of unreported assaults on unarmed civilians in camps for displaced persons—displaced by the very militia and military elements that are now attacking them.

UN/African Union “hybrid” mission in Darfur (UNAMID) was nowhere to be seen on the occasion of the attack on El Salam, despite the fact that the camp is only a few miles from Nyala, capital of South Darfur and the largest town in all of Darfur. For despite its large size and cost, UNAMID is rarely able to protect civilians, either in camps, towns, or rural areas, even though civilian protection is the primary mandate of the mission. It is hardly surprising that such deficiencies are only very rarely reported by UNAMID itself, since it is routinely denied access to the scenes of atrocity crimes. We learn of the failures of this vast and immensely expensive mission only from Darfuris themselves, and chiefly by means of Radio Dabanga. The Khartoum regime permits no human rights or news reporting presence in Darfur, and the UN and international nongovernmental humanitarian organizations operating there live in constant, all too well justified fear of expulsion; they are silent about what they see.

In turn, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon—in his mandated quarterly reports on Darfur and UNMAID—relies on the UN/AU mission itself for reports about sexual violence, murders, assaults, land appropriation, extortion sites on major highways, robbery, kidnapping, and wholesale military and militia assaults on towns. But very little of what occurs is actually reported by UNAMID, both because of access limitations as well as lack of land and air transport capacity, and a relationship with Khartoum that has become increasingly cozy over the years. This is partly a response to Khartoum’s primary responsibility for the killing, by means of its Arab militia forces, more than 50 UN peacekeepers during the time of deployment.

Throughout its six-year history, UNAMID has been badly led by the likes of Rodolphe Adada (Congo) and the wholly incompetent Ibrahim Gambari (Nigeria). It has been hampered by a lack of trained personnel (a great many units operate significantly below minimum UN peacekeeping standards), and a lack of required equipment, especially helicopters; here militarily capable Western nations have been unforgivably stingy, compromising a mission they nominally supported but refused to supply when there were key shortages. Morale is disastrously low within UNAMID, and recent investigative reporting makes clear that reports on Darfur are too often exercises in expediency and mendacity.

The mission as it stands has failed in its primary purpose, and that failure has been growing steadily for more than two years. And yet there are no voices calling for a response to this failure: not the UN, where the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations simply wants to get rid of this embarrassing and resource-consuming failure; not the AU, many members states of which benefit financially from UN stipends and payments (which are often generous by country states), or the U.S. Indeed, the Obama administration several years ago “de-coupled” Darfur from the primary issues in its Sudan policy, and has had almost nothing to say about what was once characterized by candidate and President Obama’s repeated characterizations of Darfur as the site of genocide. In 2007, invoking Rwanda and Bosnia as justification for humanitarian intervention in Darfur, Obama declared:

The United States has a moral obligation anytime you see humanitarian catastrophes… When you see a genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia or in Darfur, that is a stain on all of us, a stain on our souls …. We can’t say “never again” and then allow it to happen again, and as a president of the United States I don’t intend to abandon people or turn a blind eye to slaughter.

Sadly, “turning a blind eye” to Darfur is now a central feature of the administration’s bilateral relationship with the genocidal regime in Khartoum. To be sure, the Arab League has been useless for the entire course of the Darfur catastrophe; and Russia and China—primary weapons suppliers to Khartoum (and thus to the regime’s regular and militia forces in Darfur)—have been relentless obstructionists within the UN Security Council. The European Union has no coherent policy or plan to relieve the suffering or end assaults on displaced persons in Darfur. Two days after the attack on El Salam displaced persons camp, Dereig camp was similarly attacked. Radio Dabanga today reports that another displaced persons camp, in North Darfur near Shangil Tobaya, has been surrounded and assaulted; women were raped and at least one man was murdered. Displaced persons camps have been attacked since 2005, but there has been a clear and extremely dangerous increase in such attacks for more than two years; and as has always been true, those responsible enjoy complete impunity.

Despite the vague inertia of previous efforts to bring security to the region, despite the contrived and unworkable “Doha Document for Peace in Darfur”—virtually unanimously rejected by Darfuri civil society and the consequential rebel groups—Darfur has been abandoned by the international community. But attacks on unarmed and innocent civilians continue to be a daily reality, without any end in sight. Humanitarians may soon be compelled by growing insecurity to withdraw.

It’s difficult to escape the conclusion that Darfur is the genocide that people got tired of. A terrible epitaph in the wake of so many impassioned declarations of “never again.”

 

— End

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Norway and Egypt to host donor conference for Gaza

Posted by African Press International on August 22, 2014

‘The Governments of Egypt and Norway, supported by President Mahmoud Abbas, have decided to co-host a conference on Palestine with a focus on the reconstruction of Gaza. The invitations to the conference, to be held in Cairo, will be duly extended once an agreement on a sustainable ceasefire has been reached as a result of the ongoing talks in Cairo,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

‘The people of Gaza are suffering, and there is an urgent need for emergency relief. The UN and NGOs have already begun working on this, with the support of Norway, among others. The basic infrastructure must be repaired so that the people have access to electricity, water and sanitation,’ said Mr Brende.

The work of assessing the damage caused by the recent hostilities is underway. The damage is extensive, and greater than after the 2008–2009 war. This is the third time the donors are being asked to contribute to the reconstruction of Gaza.

‘Egypt and Norway are organising this conference in order to provide political support for a lasting ceasefire. At the same time, the donors intend to send a clear signal that the fundamental situation in Gaza must be changed. Gaza cannot be simply rebuilt in the same way as it has been before. The international community cannot necessarily be expected to contribute to yet another reconstruction effort,’ said Mr Brende.

‘Gaza’s borders must be opened to allow both people and goods to pass through. Fishermen must be allowed to fish. Farmland must be cultivated. Economic growth, jobs and a higher standard of living must be created. Meanwhile, the security of the civilian population must be safeguarded both within and outside Gaza. Keeping the population confined and on the verge of starvation does not provide security for Gaza’s neighbours,’ said Mr Brende.

‘The donors want President Mahmoud Abbas to be the recipient of the aid. His Unity Government of technocrats must be responsible for the reconstruction. When Palestine is reunited under a single government headed by President Abbas, one of the obstacles to a two-state solution will have been removed,’ said Foreign Minister Brende.

End

source.mfa.norway

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Standard Bank report confirms strong growth in Africa’s rising middle class – and even faster future growth  

Posted by African Press International on August 22, 2014

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, August 19, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ Africa has experienced substantial growth in its middle class over the past 14 years, according to a study by Standard Bank (http://www.standardbank.com).

The report, entitled ‘Understanding Africa’s middle class,’ found there are 15 million middle-class households in 11 of sub-Saharan Africa’s top economies this year, up from 4.6 million in 2000 and 2.4 million in 1990 – an increase of 230% over 14 years. However, of the total number of households across these focal economies, 86% of them remain within the broadly “low income” band, emphasizing the nascent maturation of many of the continent’s markets.

The report also found that the combined GDPs of the 11 measured economies had grown tenfold since 2000.

The study uses a proven methodology widely employed in South Africa. The report, based on the Living Standards Measure (LSM), gives investors to Africa data on which to base their investment decisions.

In the past, the conventional wisdom was that as many as 300 million Africans are categorised as ‘middle class’. The report points out that investors using an unquantifiable assumption might find individuals they had thought were middle class were in fact highly vulnerable to lose that status in any economic shock.

The report suggests that while the middle class may be smaller than previously thought, two factors should give investors greater comfort: by any methodology Africa’s middle class is growing strongly; and Africa’s income accumulation is far more broad-based than had previously been thought.

Standard Bank senior political economist Simon Freemantle, author of the report, says the new report is cause for optimism among investors as it suggests even greater scope for future growth, and indeed the report forecasts acceleration in the accumulation of middle-class households in Africa.

Commenting on the lower than  anticipated total number of middle class households, Freemantle says any view “concerning the undoubted ongoing improvement in Africa’s economic performance has to be tempered with the reality that the level of this growth and the nominal size of the continent’s middle class had not until now been adequately measured”.

He argues the previous figure of 300 million ‘middle class’ Africans was viewed as a best-estimate that has now been confirmed as to trend if not as to the total aggregate. The report cites the African Development Bank’s (AfDB) influential 2011 study, ‘The Middle of the Pyramid: Dynamics of the Middle Class in Africa’, which by its methodology attached middle class status to individuals earning just USD4 to USD20 a day, and even a “floating class” of individual earning USD2 to USD4 a day, thereby categorising fully one-third of Africa’s people (over 300 million of them) as ‘middle class’.

“In fact, such individuals would still be exceptionally vulnerable to various economic shocks, and prone to lose their middle-income status,” explains Freemantle.

South Africa’s LSM measure as a methodology is not income-based but rather uses a wider range of analysis. The report covers 11 selected sub-Saharan African countries which combined account for half Africa’s total GDP (75% if excluding South Africa) and half its population. The methodology identified LSM5 and above as middle class and categorises household income into four distinct income bands: low income; lower middle class; middle class and upper middle class.

“Standard Bank has attempted to fill the knowledge gap by using comprehensive household income data and adopting our own measure of the middle class using South Africa’s LSMs as a framework in order to provide cross-quantifiable reference points for peer African economies.” The 11 focus economies are: Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

This methodology found there was an undeniable swelling of Africa’s middle class irrespective of which methodology was used. “Looking ahead, an even greater elevation in income growth is anticipated in the next 15 years; between 2014 and 2030, we expect an additional 14 million middle-class households will be added across the 11 focal countries – tripling the current number. Including lower-middle-class households, the overall number swells to over 40 million households by 2030, from around 15 million today,” the report states.

Furthermore, while figures for 1990, 2000 and 2014 all contain more lower-middle class than middle class households, by 2030 it is expected that “there will be notably more middle-class households than those in the lower-middle-class bracket (19.2 million versus 22 million)”

 

Freemantle says: “The swifter pace of middle-class growth is critical in its suggestion of a more marked income ascent in the next decade and a half, compared to the period since 2000.”

As a caution, the report states: “Though there has been a meaningful individual lift in income, it is clear that a substantial majority of individuals in most countries we looked at still live on or below the poverty line (measured as those with a daily income of USD2 or less).” Income discrepancies are vast among the 11 economies, with almost 86% of the 110 million households in the focal grouping falling within the low-income band. This is expected to fall to around 75% by 2030.

“In conclusion, while the scale of Africa’s middle class ascent has, we believe, been somewhat exaggerated in line with the at times breathless ‘Africa Rising’ narrative, there is still plenty of scope for measured optimism regarding the size of the middle class in several key SSA [Sub-Saharan Africa] economies. Reliable and proven data should if anything spur more interest in the continent’s consumer potential by adding depth to what was previously conjecture,” says Freemantle.

———————

  • About Standard Bank Group

Standard Bank (http://www.standardbank.com), trading as Stanbic Group, is the largest African bank by assets and earnings. Our strategy is to build the leading African-focused financial services organisation using all our competitive advantages to the full. We will focus on delivering superior sustainable shareholder value by serving the needs of our customers through first-class, on-the-ground operations in chosen countries in Africa. We will also connect other selected emerging markets to Africa and to each other, applying our sector expertise, particularly in natural resources, globally. We operate in 20 countries on the African continent, including South Africa.

Standard Bank has a 151-year history in South Africa and started building a franchise outside southern Africa in the early 1990s. In recent years, Standard Bank has concluded key acquisitions on the African continent in Kenya and Nigeria. Africa is at our core and we will continue to build first-class on-the-ground banks.

The group’s nearly 49 000 employees in all regions deliver a complete range of services across personal and business banking, corporate and investment banking and wealth management.  Standard Bank’s Corporate & Investment Banking division offers its clients banking, trading, investment, risk management and advisory services to connect selected emerging markets to Africa and to each other. It has strong offerings in mining and metals; oil, gas and renewables; power and infrastructure; agribusiness; telecommunications and media; and financial institutions.

Normalised headline earnings for 2013 were R17.2 billion (about USD 1.8 billion) and total assets were R1 694 billion (about USD 162 billion). Standard Bank’s market capitalisation at 31 December 2013 was R209.4 billion (about USD20 billion)

The group’s largest shareholder is Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the world’s largest bank, with a 20,1% shareholding. In addition, Standard Bank Group and ICBC share a strategic partnership that facilitates trade and deal flow between Africa, China and select emerging markets.

 

SOURCE

Standard Bank

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Africa: Growth is on the horizon but where should you look?

Posted by African Press International on August 21, 2014

African Press International (API)

  • By 2040, Africa will experience faster economic growth than any other region

CAPE-TOWN, South-Africa, August 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ CEOs around the world are increasingly recognising the untapped potential of sub-Saharan Africa. This is driven by Africa’s unparalleled demographic edge or demographic dividend. By 2040, Africa is expected to have the biggest labour force in the world and experiencing faster economic growth than any other region, according to a report issued by PwC (http://www.pwc.com).

The projections are contained in the latest PwC ‘Global Economy Watch’, which puts the spotlight on the largest cities in sub-Saharan Africa.

Most major corporations are already active in at least one of the four largest cities in sub-Saharan Africa – Lagos, Kinshasa, Nairobi and Johannesburg.

But PwC economists believe it’s the ‘Next 10′ biggest cities in sub-Saharan Africa that should also be exciting foreign investors. The population of these cities is…

View original post 543 more words

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School tries to heal the divide in northern Nigeria

Posted by African Press International on August 21, 2014

By Obinna Anyadire

MAIDUGURI, 18 August 2014 (IRIN) – The kidnapping of more than 200 girls from a secondary school in Chibok in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State in April by Boko Haram militants, and a so far unsuccessful high-profile campaign to free them, exemplifies the insecurity-driven education crisis in the area.

Since March all public schools have been closed in Borno State – one of the three states in the northeast hardest hit by the violence. The tragedy is that, according to a 2010 national literacy survey, Borno already had the sixth worst literacy rate for youths in any language out of Nigeria’s 36 states. What formal education currently exists in Borno has been through a handful of private schools that have kept their gates open.

One of these is a school for orphans and vulnerable children in Maiduguri, providing free primary education. What sets Future Prowess Islamic Foundation apart is the deliberate policy of its founder, Zannah Mustapha, to care for children from families on both sides of the conflict – Boko Haram and the security forces.

“We are trying to avoid a catastrophe,” said Mustapha, a lawyer, who has played a role in abortive mediation efforts between the government and Boko Haram. “We want the two sides of the divide to grow as friends, not a case of ‘You killed my father, you killed my mother, I must have revenge’. No. They must learn together. We are providing that security.”

The seven-classroom school delivers a blended curriculum of Islamic tuition, and the standard syllabus approved by the state education board, taught in English. Although Boko Haram is notorious for its rejection of “Western” education, and some parents (many of them widows) objected to what they viewed as “pagan” lessons, the school was able to challenge those beliefs.

“English is just a language, many British people are also Muslims,” said Mustapha. “And mathematics, how is that Western? It was invented by the Arabs.”

The five-year conflict has exacerbated the northeast’s historically bad social indicators. More that 42 percent of children are stunted by malnutrition (compared to just 16 percent in the southeast), according to the government’s 2013 Demographic and Health Survey. The deep disruption of the local economy by the violence has worsened the situation, driving up prices and shrinking employment.

The school’s response has been a breakfast feeding programme for its 420 pupils. “It’s rice and beans or moi-moi [a bean-based sponge], something that can fill the stomach for some time,” said headmaster Suleiman Aliyu. “There is no way a child can learn properly on an empty stomach.”

It is funded by local benefactors, and “as a result of the programme a lot of parents are registering their children – not for the learning, but for the breakfast alone.”

A traumatized community

This is a community traumatized by violence – shootings, bombings and kidnappings by Boko Haram; retaliatory beatings, arrests and extra-judicial killings by the security forces. “We are serving as teachers and parents for the orphaned children,” said Islamic teacher Hassan Sharif al-Hassan.

“English is just a language, many British people are also Muslims. And mathematics, how is that Western? It was invented by the Arabs.”

“Many of them have no guardians at home. When they come to school we give them what they can use in their lives in terms of respect, in terms of behaviour. But it’s not a normal childhood. Sometimes you can ask a pupil why they are silent, and the child can start crying. Psychologically we can understand they have internal problems.”

Abubaker Tijjani is aged 14 and wants to be an accountant. But right now he would just like to have his father back, who died a year ago. “I’m sad about that, I miss him,” he told IRIN. “I’m not OK with life.”

A local hospital is providing monthly counselling sessions for the members of a widows’ association the school has formed. “People didn’t realize their symptoms of stress, high blood pressure, headaches, sleepless nights were related to psychological problems,” said Aliyu. ‘We’ve seen positive changes.”

The association’s revolving micro-credit fund also tries to provide some financial help with a little business capital. In the vulnerable households the children are out on the streets after school selling groundnuts, sweets and water.

The community has supported the school and some prominent people are sponsoring individual students. Mustapha has, according to the headmaster, ploughed much of his own money into keeping the school open. That has included building a fish farm that provides a measure of financial independence, helping pay teachers’ salaries, and providing the free uniforms and books the students need.

But aside from the US Agency for International Development recently agreeing to provide some desks, and the Swiss embassy paying for the trauma counsellor, there is no other outside assistance.

“International partners don’t often come here because of the insecurity,” Mustapha said. “Individuals can’t do what we need. We need institutions like the UN, UNICEF, to help.”

oa/cb End

Source irin

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The Sierra Leone Embassy In Beijing Now A Tribal Village

Posted by African Press International on August 20, 2014

  • By Sulay B. Conteh

    We, the Sierra Leone Diaspora Community in China and the Greater Asia, are profoundly grateful to His Excellency, President Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma, for going all out to have a “Limba Corner” sort of thing in the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing, China. We must hasten to express our appreciation as had it not been for the selfless personal sacrifice by His Excellence, the Sierra Leone Diaspora Community in Asia would not have ever gotten this unique opportunity to taste on a near-daily basis the highly liked delicacy drink we all know in Sierra Leone as “god-to-man” or “poyo”. Now with the Ambassador, the Deputy Ambassador and the Press Attaché all hailing from the Limba-Loko tribe in Sierra Leone like our abled President himself, arrangements have been eventually finalized for daily import of “god-to-man” from the President’s home village direct to the Sierra Leone Embassy in Beijing. This is part of the people-to-people link we have
    always worked so tirelessly to promote between our two great countries. This could also be our own little way of relaxing ourselves from the gruesome killings of the rampaging Ebola Virus Disease we have personally fomented as a responsible, people-driven Government in Sierra Leone.

    With the coming of the Deputy Ambassador, who is also President Koroma’s blood sister, we the Diaspora Community in Australia have received an official invitation to this colossal development in our noble Embassy in Beijing. Also our compatriots in Greater Asia, including Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Hong Kong and other countries that are directly under the purview of the Embassy in Beijing have confirmed receipt of the well worded official invitation. Of course we have unanimously hailed this development as uniquely monumental in the history of our diplomatic relations overseas and we have therefore fully consented to patronizing with such a worthy effort of our Government and Embassy of Sierra Leone. This effort, we are made to understand, is dedicated towards the creation of the so-needed enabling environment where we can freely interact and know each other on a personal basis, come together as one people and one country, relax ourselves from the
    theatrically ravaging woes of our people back home by the killer Ebola Epidemic and above all to raise funds to support the fight against the corruption-ridden Ebola Virus Disease Epidemic efforts in Sierra Leone.

    The Diaspora Community and the student body had expected so much from our Deputy Ambassador, our dear President’s sister, for the very simple fact that she has lived most of her life in the first world in UK. We had so hoped that our sister’s overseas exposure and experiences along with her blood relationship with our dear President would have meant that right difference in the manner the Embassy was run or the students and Diaspora member issues handled. Indeed the arrival of Her Excellency the Deputy Ambassador started with a moderate welcoming party, which was a welcoming start. Of course, even that welcoming party would not have happened without the persistent criticism of the way every meritable event was being curtailed by Ambassador Foh. But now that the Her Excellency the Deputy Ambassador has gotten fully settled in her massive second-floor office in the Embassy, everything has gone back to business-as-usual.

    To start with, the payment for the 2013 student container was deliberately delayed until the contained actually was reported to have arrived at Deep Water Quay. Because of this delay, the said container is yet to complete the customs clearance at the Quay. Also all the 2014 graduates have left China without receiving their annual allowances, and not in fact to talk about the money for shipment of personal effects. Now with the massive Ebola outbreak in town, no one can even dare to talk about the students’ allowances and the money for the container. For the time being, however, you have to be a Limba-Loko or at least affiliated with the North before your business can pass in the Embassy and by extension in the APC Government in Sierra Leone.

    This is just a tip of the ice-berg and of the hard reality we have to live with today. APC has never been and will never be a blessing to Sierra Leone. For all its past and present rules, APC has always been and will ever be a curse to our beloved Sierra Leone. It all seems like even God is now angry with us and the current Ebola Plague brutalizing our country could not be for any less reason than this. Of course, this is the prize we have to pay for having APC run Sierra Leone once again. So we must have to repent in order to redeem Sierra Leone and only our genuine decisions and rightful actions we get us God’s empathy once again. As even our abled Deputy Ambassador now increasingly seems to be of no blessing to anyone outside her clan and the affiliated, the slang “business-as-usual” once again rules the day-to-day operations of the Embassy.

    May God Continue To Bless Our Beloved Sierra Leone!

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Restrictive measures against Russia

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2014

The Government has today adopted new restrictive measures against Russia, in line with the decision announced on 11 August. The new regulations were adopted today by the King in Council, and enter into force immediately. 

The situation in Ukraine has deteriorated further during the past few weeks. The regulations adopted today bring Norway’s restrictive measures against Russia in line with those of the EU.

‘Russia has shown no willingness to help bring about a ceasefire and seek a solution to the conflict in eastern Ukraine. On the contrary, it has contributed to an escalation of the conflict by actively supporting the pro-Russian rebels. The situation in eastern Ukraine is getting worse every day. It is vital that the international community stands united in its response to Russia’s actions,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

The Government will maintain a close dialogue with the business community to assess the consequences of the measures for the various sectors affected. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has opened a service telephone line for Norwegian companies affected by the new restrictive measures.

The main points of the regulations are:

·         An extension of the list of individuals and entities that are subject to asset-freeze measures and travel restrictions to include a further 8 people and 12 entities, and an expansion of the criteria for inclusion on the list.

·         A ban on imports from Crimea and Sevastopol, and for the same area, a ban on the issuing of loans or other forms of credit for the development of infrastructure in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors, a ban on the issuing of loans or other forms of credit for the exploitation of oil, gas or mineral resources, and a ban on the sale or export of key equipment or technology to these sectors.

·         A ban on the import and export of arms and defence-related products (List I) to and from Russia and the export of dual-use items and technology (List II) for military end-use in Russia.

·         A ban on the purchase or sale of new bonds, equity or similar financial instruments with a maturity exceeding 90 days issued by five listed Russian financial institutions.

·         Prior authorisation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will be required for the export of certain categories of goods to the Russian petroleum sector. The export of products to be used for deep-water oil exploration and production, Arctic oil exploration and production, or in shale oil projects in Russia is prohibited. Prior authorisation is also required for the provision of financing or other technical assistance related to these categories of goods. Authorisation can and will normally be given for the export of products if this is to honour obligations under contracts agreed prior to the entry into force of the new regulations.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is responsible for processing applications for export licences.

The measures implemented by the regulations leave room for discretion. In applying the regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will take into consideration other Norwegian legislation and relevant guidelines and experience relating to the sectors covered by the regulations. This applies in particular to the rules for the export of products etc. relating to the petroleum sector. Once the rules have entered into force, they will be further developed on the basis of their application in practice and any new guidelines.

End

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MoboFree said it expects the total volume of items for sale in its marketplace to reach USD 1.5 billion by 2015

Posted by African Press International on August 19, 2014

Nigerians Are Selling Unused Items Worth USD 526 million on MoboFree.com

 

LAGOS, Nigeria, August 18, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ MoboFree.com (http://www.mobofree.com), the leading African social marketplace, today announced that the total volume of items currently for sale in its marketplace is worth USD 526 million and is expected to reach USD 1.5 billion by 2015.

With 3.3 million registered users, including 2 million in Nigeria and a strong footprint in Zimbabwe, Uganda and Ghana, MoboFree.com is among the largest and most successful mobile social and trusted classifieds platforms in Africa.

MoboFree members upload thousands of new classifieds every day, generating an average of 60 million page impressions monthly.

The best-selling items on MoboFree.com are phones, tablets and mobile devices, followed by clothes, fashion and beauty and electronic devices.

The MoboFree technological platform makes buying and selling online easy for any African user with any device, not only for PCs and smartphones but also for old phones with small screens (so called “feature” phones).

“Africa is home to six of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world. Our strong performance once again confirms the success of our model and is indicative of the high level of activity in all markets in which we operate. We are now looking for new partners with which to share our exciting expansion plans as we see enormous opportunities arising in Africa,” said MoboFree CEO and co-founder Neringa Kudarauskiene.

MoboFree is a social marketplace with a unique user-centric approach rather than the traditional item-centric approach. MoboFree allows its buyers and sellers to obtain a large amount of personal information about one other – ranging from photos and mutual friends to ratings or other data that enables identification of whether or not a person is trustworthy.

Negotiation and communication during the buying/selling process is a very important part of African culture. MoboFree allows its members to communicate and negotiate conveniently without leaving the platform. They can do this via private messages or via chat. MoboFree members send over 8 million private messages per month.

————

About MoboFree.com

MoboFree.com (http://www.mobofree.com) is a leading African social marketplace allowing people to buy, sell and swap products and services with other trusted people. MoboFree.com combines a social network and classifieds board into one integrated online platform and makes buying and selling online more fun, personal and safe.

Over 3.3 million users are registered on MoboFree and together they generate on average around 60 million page impressions monthly. More than 2 million registered users are from Nigeria.

MoboFree currently has more than 3.3 million registered users, with more than 2 million users in Nigeria and a leading position in several other African countries such as Uganda and Zimbabwe. MoboFree users generate on average around 60 million page impressions monthly and upload thousands of new classifieds daily. The project sees ~3000 new registered members added every day. http://www.mobofree.com

 

SOURCE

MoboFree

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Considerable progress for Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI)

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2014

NOK 10 billion in development aid combined with six years’ work have contributed to conserving natural forest and to establishing systems for the reduction of deforestation and for the inclusion of the conservation of forests in international climate change negotiations. A new report from Norad evaluates the initiative and shows that results have been achieved in spite of weak pre-initiative planning and poor reporting during its implementation.

Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative (NICFI) has been monitored by an evaluation team since 2010, and a summarizing evaluation report has now been published. This shows that the four main objectives of the initiative have largely been attained:

“The evaluation points out that the initiative has made considerable progress. In general positive results have been achieved in the three climate change goals,” says Ida Hellmark, Adviser in Norad’s Evaluation Department. “The initiative has been crucial for the international work on setting up systems to reduce deforestation. With regard to the development goal, the initiative has assisted in mapping forest areas, thus clarifying who has the right to use the forest.”

A solid contribution to reaching the climate change goals

The first main goal of NICFI is to help ensure that forests are included in a new international climate regime. Through NICFI, Norway is the largest donor to REDD+ – the global initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from deforestation and forest degradation. NICFI has acted as a driving force and has played a major role in the successful establishment of a framework for REDD+ in international climate change negotiations.

The second main goal is to take early action to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries pending a new climate change agreement. NICFI has made important contributions to the work of establishing systems that make it possible for countries to measure their emissions and to receive disbursements.

NICFI’s third main goal is to promote the conservation of natural forest areas in order to maintain their carbon storage capacity. In this context NICFI has made what the evaluation calls a solid contribution by including protection in national plans, conducting pilot projects and safeguarding the protection of new natural forest.

Good contributions to the development goal, but gender equality not prioritized

The initiative is also intended to support the achievement of Norwegian development policy goals. According to the evaluation, NICFI has here contributed to better governance of the forest areas.

“Better governance has been achieved by mapping the land and the activities that take place in the forests and by identifying who owns them. Civil society has played a significant role in the work on anti-corruption measures, illegal tree felling and the rights of indigenous people,” says Ms Hellmark.

Gender equality was included in the planning documents, but the evaluation is critical of the fact that women’s rights are still not assigned priority in the implementation of the projects.

Poor planning and reporting 

The report reveals that the positive results have been achieved in spite of the fact that there is no overall result framework or coordinated strategy for how the goals are to be met. This was also pointed out in previous evaluations, and was one of the main criticisms of the report from the Office of the Auditor General in 2013.

“When NICFI was set up, it all happened quickly and as a political initiative. The evaluation shows that both the pre-initiative planning and the reporting during the implementation were inadequate,” Ms Hellmark tells us. “The outcome of the initiative has clearly been positive, but much has been due to wide political support, large disbursements, great flexibility and competent employees.”

She continues, “Several of the individual projects that are included in the initiative are well planned and reported, but the lack of a coordinated strategy prevents joint prioritizations within an initiative that has many different actors.”

Ineffectiveness, poor information and coordination problems

Norway has given financial support to both the UN and the World Bank to enable these organizations to support the countries’ work of reducing deforestation. Information and the reporting of results are as inadequate in these organizations as they are in the Norwegian initiative. Moreover the evaluation team concludes that the multilateral organizations are ineffective and badly coordinated.

“Coordination problems arise because there are so many actors involved and because the activities that are to be performed are so diverse,” Ms. Hellmark explains.

The multilateral organizations are also increasing the number of countries they support even though many of the countries that have already received support show little progress. The cause of the lack of progress should therefore be analysed before more new countries are included.

Lack of certainty over funding is a challenge

One of the main motivating factors to encourage a country to commit itself to forest conservation and emission reductions is the pledge of disbursements for results achieved. According to the evaluation report, uncertainty about the future financing of such result-based payments is the greatest risk for further progress.

“In addition, the evaluation points out that the costs of forest conservation should be viewed in relation to the countries’ potential for operating the necessary systems,” says Ms Hellmark.

The evaluation also states that result-based funding, which is the form of disbursement that has been selected, is probably not viable in several of the countries.

Changes recommended

According to the evaluation, the next step should be to draw up an overall strategy that also encompasses result reporting. The initiative should also improve its communication of activities and achievements, and an assessment should be made to determine how the collaboration with the multilateral organizations within REDD+ can be coordinated and rendered more effective.

Results at country level :

Brazil: Brazil’s deforestation and emissions have substantially declined, a reduction that took place before the start of the cooperation with Norway. Activities established after Norwegian disbursements for these results now pave the way for future emission reduction.

Guyana: Although the establishment of the necessary systems for measuring forest protection has been successful in Guyana, insufficient action has been taken to reduce the mining operations that are the main cause of deforestation in the country.

Indonesia: Indonesia has made very good progress in readiness planning for the implementation of REDD+. However, changes in government and weaknesses in the legal basis for REDD+ constitute a serious threat to the results attained.

Tanzania:In Tanzania NICFI has contributed to achieving a number of results at project level. The lack of government ownership means that there are limited opportunities for producing large-scale results at national level.

To download the report and read more: www.norad.no/nicfievaluated 

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Fact box: Summarizing evaluation of Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative

  • Background of the evaluation

The aim has been to assess the results of the initiative in relation to its overarching climate change and development goals and in relation to cross-initiative topics such as gender equality and anti-corruption measures.

The evaluation summarizes activities and correlates results on the basis of data collected by the evaluation team and other published reports.

  • More information on the evaluation

The evaluation has been conducted by LTS International, Indufor Oy, Ecometrica and Chr. Michelsen Institute.

The evaluation includes a brief review of NICFI’s institutional and economic frameworks, as well as a number of strategic issues.

The evaluation covers fieldwork in four countries: Indonesia, Tanzania, Brazil and Guyana. In addition, results achieved through multilateral organizations have been examined.

The evaluation covers the period 2007-2013.

Fact box: Last report in the real-time evaluation of the government’s climate and forest initiative (NICFI)

The climate and forest project has been monitored by an evaluation team since its start-up. Previous evaluations conducted under this agreement concern:

  • The inclusion of emissions from deforestation in the global climate change regulations (published in April 2011).
  • Support to national REDD efforts in Brazil, Guyana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Indonesia (published in April 2011).
  • Support to civil society with fieldwork in four countries: Indonesia, Peru, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo (published in August 2012).
  • Support to the measurement, reporting and verification of fieldwork in four countries: Indonesia, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Guyana (published in September 2013, with links to news features with the reports).

Fact box: REDD, REDD+ and NICFI

REDD+ is a global initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

At the climate change negotiations in Cancun in 2010 the various countries agreed to reduce the emissions resulting from deforestation. Several points were added to the agreement, which was given the name REDD+. The plus sign stands for sustainable forest governance, an increase in the forests’ carbon storage capacity, and the protection of forests and biological diversity.

Since 2007 the Norwegian government has pledged to allocate up to NOK 3 billion per year from the aid budget through NICFI.

 

End

Source mfa.norway

 

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APC Plays Cynically Dirty With Lethal Ebola Epidemic In South/East Sierra Leone

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2014

African Press International (API)

By Sulay B. Conteh
 
It is almost a full half-year now since the first case of the fatal Ebola epidemic was reported in Kailahun, Eastern Sierra Leone. Since the outbreak of the epidemic, the APC Government led by Dr. Earnest Bai Koroma has responded in a series of extraordinarily queer way. This has raised a widespread suspicion about the real intentions of the APC Government regarding its unusual handling of this alien disease.
 
It has just been a little over a year when the Koroma-led APC Government boldly stole the elections and reinstalled itself into second term of office in an unusually unofficial way.  In fact even the Koroma-led APC first term of office could not have come to fruition had it not been for the blind craving for international recognition by late President Kabbah. But all of this is now history not worth any retelling in decent…

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Africa: New report raises concerns about the pace of reform and possible implications for security in Kenya

Posted by African Press International on August 18, 2014

African Press International (API)

  • The importance of security in Kenya for regional development makes security in Kenya a regional concern.

LONDON, United-Kingdom, August 14, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ The latest report from Think Security Africa (TSA) (http://www.thinksecurityafrica.org): National Security Profile on the Republic of Kenya, raises concerns about the pace of reform in Kenya, and the need to ensure that existing security challenges do not negatively interact with changes in Kenya’s new political and budgetary arrangements – intended to improve long-term security in Kenya.

The importance of security in Kenya for regional development makes security in Kenya a regional concern. Kenya plays a key role for sub-regional trade and logistics, and this role is set to expand with the inception of Lamu Port and Southern Sudan – Ethiopia Transport Corridor (LAPSSET).

  • Key findings from the report:

National and regional economic development

Current infrastructure development plans provide…

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Norway to implement new restrictive measures against Russia

Posted by African Press International on August 17, 2014

‘The Government will align itself with the EU’s new restrictive measures against Russia. Since the start of the crisis in Ukraine, Norway has stood united with the EU and other like-minded countries in responding to Russia’s violations of international law. We will do so this time as well,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

In response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol and the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine, the EU has adopted restrictive measures against Russia. The situation in Ukraine has deteriorated further during the past few weeks.

‘Even after the tragedy of the Malaysian airliner that was shot down on 17 July, Russia has not changed its course, but has continued to destabilise the eastern part of Ukraine. This has resulted in the EU and the US introducing extensive restrictive measures against Russia, as they had warned that they would in the event of further destabilisation.

‘Norway will introduce the same measures as those adopted by the EU on 31 July. These measures are a response to Russia’s violation of fundamental principles of the UN Charter. Despite massive international pressure, Russia has not demonstrated any willingness to change its actions in Ukraine, which are in violation of international law,’ said Foreign Minister Brende.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will open a service telephone line on Wednesday 13 August to meet the business sector’s need for information about the new measures.

 

‘The Ministry has recently held a number of meetings with representatives from the Norwegian business sector about the restrictive measures now being adopted. Feedback from the business sector is important for our dialogue with the EU to clarify the details of the measures. The measures leave room for discretion, and we will use our discretion,’ said Mr Brende. 

The Norwegian Parliament (‘Storting’) has been consulted on this matter.

These are the main points included in the measures:

·         The list of individuals and entities subject to asset-freeze measures and travel restrictions will be extended, and the criteria for being included on the list will be expanded.

·         A ban on imports from Crimea and Sevastopol will be introduced; for the same area, it will be prohibited to issue loans or other forms of credit for the development of infrastructure in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors, it will be prohibited to issue loans or other forms of credit for the exploitation of oil, gas or mineral resources, and the sale or export of key equipment or technology to these sectors in Crimea or Sevastopol will be prohibited.

·         The import and export of arms and defence-related products (List I) to and from Russia and the export of dual-use items and technology (List II) for military end-use in Russia will be prohibited.

·         Buying or selling new bonds, equity or similar financial instruments with a maturity exceeding 90 days issued by five listed Russian financial institutions will be prohibited.

·         Prior authorisation by the Norwegian authorities will be required for the export of certain categories of goods to the Russian petroleum sector. It will be prohibited to export products that are to be used for deep water oil exploration and production, Arctic oil exploration and production, or in shale oil projects in Russia. This ban will apply to new contracts only. Prior authorisation will also be required for financing and services related to these categories of goods.

The Norwegian authorities will shortly clarify the details of the measures that allow discretion, in close consultation with the EU.

End

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