News

Photo: Luis Encinas/MSF

An isolation camp for the 2009 Ebola patients in DR Congo

By Nellie Peyton

Dakar — Six months after an Ebola outbreak was confirmed in West Africa in March 2014, the World Health Organization declared an international emergency and called for help. The disease went on to ravage three countries and kill over 11,000 people.

On Tuesday, Democratic Republic of Congo confirmed two cases of the viral disease. That same day, WHO helicoptered in a team of experts to the scene and released $1 million in funding.

"I think with this rapid response we will be able to contain it," WHO emergencies director for Africa, Ibrahima Soce Fall, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"Very clearly" the U.N. agency learned its lesson from the crisis, he added.

Ebola is endemic to Congo, a vast central African country whose eastern Ebola river gave the deadly virus its name when it was discovered there in the 1970s.

This is the ninth time Ebola has been recorded in Congo and comes less than a year after the last outbreak killed four people.

At least 17 people have died around the village near the northwestern town of Bikoro where the virus was detected this week, health officials said.

WHO is conducting an investigation to see how many people may have come in contact with the infected and is prepared to use a new experimental vaccine if needed, said Fall.

The agency was criticized for its slow response to the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, which was the largest in history.

"In the past we didn't have this emergency system. It's completely different," Fall said, adding that this response was also faster than that in Congo last year.

The cases were first reported on May 3, and medical teams supported by WHO and medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) went to take samples two days later.

"That seems to me to be about as fast as you can reasonably expect," said Jimmy Whitworth, a specialist in epidemiology and public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Whitworth said the situation was worrying, but Congo may be better prepared to detect and manage Ebola than other countries since it has had more experience.

If people exposed to the disease are identified and quarantined rapidly, it can likely be contained in an isolated area, he added.

Bikoro lies not far from the banks of the Congo River, an essential waterway for transport and commerce which runs past capital Kinshasa and Brazzaville, capital of neighbouring Congo Republic.

 - Reporting By Nellie Peyton, Editing by Claire Cozens

opinion

Maternal deaths in developing regions would fall by 73% if all women had access to contraception and maternal healthcare, shows new research.

Nearly 25 years ago, representatives from 179 countries gathered in Cairo to negotiate a new global agenda on population and development. The final document from that conference put forth an idea that was radical at the time: that the ability of all individuals to make free and informed reproductive decisions is critical to the sustainable development of our planet. The legacy of that landmark agreement has been to recognize that health, human rights, environmental protection and economic growth are inextricably linked.

But despite the progress made since Cairo, the international community has not achieved consensus about how to move forward on sexual and reproductive health and rights. Weak political commitment, inadequate resources, persistent discrimination against women and girls, and an unwillingness to openly address issues related to sexuality have taken an enormous toll on communities worldwide.

To tackle the scope of the unfinished agenda, we brought together 16 multidisciplinary experts from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North and South America two years ago to form the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Today in Johannesburg, we release our findings and recommendations, presenting a bold and evidence-based vision for achieving universal sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Our vision underscores that improving health depends on advancing rights. It stresses that for too long, many policymakers have taken a narrow view of sexual and reproductive health and rights-a view that has typically excluded sexual rights altogether.

Meaningful change will require a holistic approach that encompasses the right of all individuals to make decisions about their bodies and lives-free of stigma, discrimination and coercion.

At the heart of this vision is a package of essential sexual and reproductive health interventions. The package includes interventions that governments typically focus on, such as contraceptive provision, HIV prevention and treatment, and maternal and newborn health services.

In addition, the Commission's vision calls for attention to frequently neglected components of sexual and reproductive health, such as safe and legal abortion care; infertility treatment; appropriate and nonjudgmental services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex people; and prevention, detection and counseling for gender-based violence.

The time is now to pursue this more inclusive and comprehensive plan of action.

Despite national and international efforts to advance family planning services, each year in developing regions, more than 200-million women want to avoid pregnancy but are not using a modern method of contraception.

More than 30-million women deliver their babies outside of a health facility.

Worldwide, more than 25-million unsafe abortions take place annually, and nearly two million people become infected with HIV.

Countries have the means to ensure that all people receive essential sexual and reproductive health services-services that could prevent these devastating outcomes. The Guttmacher-Lancet Commission's vision is ambitious, but achievable and affordable.

In fact, we found that meeting the needs for modern contraception, safe abortion, and maternal and newborn health care in developing regions would cost just US$9 (R113) per person per year. Half of that amount is already being spent to cover the cost of current levels of care.

The benefits to women and their families from this investment cannot be overstated.

Maternal deaths in developing regions would fall by 73% from 2017 levels if women's needs for contraception were fully met and essential care was provided for all pregnant women-including those who have miscarriages, stillbirths or abortions-and newborns.

Further, newborn deaths would drop from a staggering 2.7-million to 538 000 each year.

The human consequences of inaction should be reason enough for countries and donors to prioritise this type of investment. But beyond the impact on individuals' health, evidence shows that access to high-quality sexual and reproductive health services increases productivity and household income, and has multigenerational benefits by also improving children's health and well-being.

South Africa provides a compelling illustration of what can be achieved when governments commit to protecting sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Since the country liberalised its abortion law in 1997, complications from unsafe abortion have dramatically declined. Between 1994 and 2001, deaths from unsafe abortion fell by 91%, according to a 2008 scientific letter published in the South African Medical Journal.

We have the knowledge and tools we need to accelerate and expand these gains worldwide.

Achieving universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights is essential to the health, equitable development and human rights of all people-and it starts today.

Alex Ezeh is the former executive director of the African Population and Health Research Center. Ann Starrs is the president and CEO of the US reproductive health think tank the Guttmacher Institute. Ezeh and Starrs co-chaired the Guttmacher-Lancet Commission on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights.

Have something to say? Tweet or Facebook us on @Bhekisisa_MG

Photo: UN

(File photo).

WHO officials have described the affected area as "one of the most difficult terrains on earth," making it difficult to access. The UN health agency is hoping to avert an epidemic like the West Africa outbreak in 2014.

The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said 10 countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its neighbors, have been put on high alert after local authorities declared an Ebola outbreak earlier this week.

"We are very concerned, and we are planning for all scenarios, including the worst-case scenario," said WHO emergency response chief Peter Salama in Geneva. Up to 18 people are suspected of dying from infection so far.

Salama said that WHO officials are most worried about the spread of Ebola in Congo-Brazzaville and the Central African Republic, since they are both connected to the outbreak area through river systems.

'Highly complex'

He noted that the latest outbreak has occurred in a remote area near Bikoro. But if the virus spreads to Mbandaka, the capital of DRC's Equateur province home to more than one million inhabitants, it could have devastating consequences, he added.

"This is a highly complex, sophisticated operation in one of the most difficult terrains on earth," Salama said. "If we see a town of that size infected with Ebola, then we are going to have a major urban outbreak."

Deadly virus

The outbreak is the ninth of its kind since the virus was discovered in then-Zaire in 1976. The WHO is hoping to quickly quarantine the outbreak after it was criticized for its slow response during the 2014 outbreak in West Africa.

More than 11,000 people died as a result of infection during the West Africa outbreak after the virus spread from Guinea to neighboring Liberia and Sierra Leone. Roughly 29,000 cases were registered from March 2014 to March 2016 in what was the largest Ebola outbreak to date.

Ebola is a rare and highly-infectious virus, with a death rate of up to 90 percent, according to the WHO. Symptoms include fever, intense weakness and vomiting. The incubation period ranges from two to 21 days.

The WHO said it is ready to deploy an experimental vaccine campaign but it waiting to receive permission from DRC authorities.

press release

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, May 10, 2018 (ECA) – A high-level policy event on the inclusive green economy and structural transformation in Africa will be held Sunday at the United Nations Conference Centre in Addis Ababa starting at 2pm.

Linus Mofor, a Senior Environmental Affairs Officer in the ECA's African Climate Policy Centre that is in the Special Initiatives Division, says the event will be held under the theme; leveraging domestic resources to green Africa's infrastructure for resilient economies.

The meeting will allow the Economic Commission for Africa to present the Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility and introduce the concept of "resilience dividend" to participants and how it could be leveraged to mobilize additional finance options for resilient infrastructure development.

Mr. Mofor says the meeting will also seek to identify barriers faced by the public and private sectors in leveraging limited public resources to mobilize transformative finance from domestic resources and FDI for climate-resilient infrastructure development in Africa.

"One of the main objectives of the policy event is to demonstrate and emphasize multiple ways in which investing in climate resilient and resource-efficient infrastructure can create greater public and private value and to discuss innovative approaches to harnessing the resulting resilience dividend as a new source of infrastructure finance," he said.

Participants will explore and debate the possible mix of policy options, legal and regulatory frameworks and governance structures that will stimulate private finance for green technology innovations and resilient infrastructure development, emphasizing options that are successful, scalable and transferrable, and also those options with the potential for transformative impact in the near future.

Organizers expect insights and key policy messages that will inform and influence transformative thinking on creating and supporting an environment conducive to the enhanced leveraging of private sector investment to emerge from the meeting.

This includes investments from domestic and foreign sources necessary for the accelerated development of resilient infrastructure for the transformation of Africa, capitalizing on the opportunities arising from the integration of climate resilience into infrastructure planning and development.

Infrastructure development lies at the heart of the transformation of African economies to meet the continent's development objectives, as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the continent's development blueprint, Agenda 2063.

"Those aspirations continue to suffer from a chronic infrastructure deficit, along with poor-quality and expensive infrastructure services, compared with those in other parts of the world and we hope the side event will help come up with solutions to the challenges that face Africa today in this area," said Mr. Mofor.

African ministers of finance and planning and representatives of development partners, development banks and infrastructure project developers, are expected to attend the meeting.

Photo: This Day

Lassa fever (file photo).

As Lassa Fever 'Kills' Two In M/Gibi

The Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Health is said to have declared a health emergency following two confirmed deaths of Lassa Fever in Margibi County.

The two deaths are said to have occurred in a period of one week. The victims, according to report, were a couple, aged 56 and 35 respectively.

The couple is said to have returned from the burial of their grandchild who had a brief illness in Bong County.

Laboratory tests conducted on the blood specimen of the two victims confirmed that they died between May 4 and 7, with the husband first giving up the ghost.

Margibi County health officer Myer Pajibo told a news conference that 60 persons are being monitored as close contacts of the victims.

Fourteen people are said to have died of Lassa fever in Liberia since the beginning of this year, while 30 cases of the viral hemorrhagic fever caused by the Lassa virus have been recorded since January.

Only four of Liberia's 15 counties have been affected by Lassa fever.

Meanwhile, the Director of Communication at the Ministry of Health Sorbor George is calling on the public not to panic.

He said the Ministry with support from partners has the capacity to deal with the situation.

George said unlike during the Ebola crisis, the Ministry is fully prepared and capacitated to deal with any outbreak.

He said the current situation is being vigorously addressed by the Ministry and partners, as such; no need to panic.

Photo: PSCU

President Uhuru Kenyatta is greeted by Deputy President William Ruto (file photo).

By Eddy Kagera

President Uhuru Kenyatta has unfollowed his deputy William Ruto on Twitter, in a move that will kick off chatter in blogs and social media.

The president can now no longer see tweets sent by his deputy (WilliamsRuto) on the timeline of his personal account @UKenyatta.

The DP, however, still follows the president.

While the move is insignificant at face value, modern use of social media shows people's behaviour in that space cannot be underestimated.

Indeed, in April 2016, Mr Kenyatta trimmed his followers from 600 to just 11. He mainly unfollowed world leaders, local governors and his cabinet secretaries.

Among the 11 he was following was his deputy, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta and State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu.

The president's latest move was discovered by hawk-eyed social media user Augustine Sang of Daily Nation.

President Kenyatta unfollows his deputy William Ruto on Twitter🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/0XIZblA84J

- Augustine Sang 🇰🇪 (@Sang_254) May 11, 2018

There has been simmering tension in Jubilee since Mr Kenyatta shook hands with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The DP's side has opposed a referendum call by Mr Odinga while Mr Kenyatta's side has welcomed the move.

Earlier this week, Mr Ruto's allies claimed that the former PM had hijacked the handshake to calls for the referendum.

By Tobi Soniyi

Lagos — The group founded by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Coalition for Nigerian Movement (CNM), has fused with the African Democratic Congress (ADC).

The merger was announced in Abuja Thursday by the ‎co-convener of the CNM, Mr. Olagunsoye Oyinlola, signposting his departure from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

Oyinlola, a former governor of Osun State and one of the signatories of the New PDP's (NPDP) petition to the leadership of the APC, complaining of alleged maltreatment of its members, has also resigned his appointment as the chairman of National Identity Management Commission (NIMC).

He said the CNM was also ready to work with other political parties and groups to end APC's reign and forge a new direction for Nigeria.

Elaborating on the decision of the CNM to merge with the ADC, he said: "The decision to move in to African Democratic Congress is in appreciation of the progressive essence of the party and its untainted existence on the terrain of our nation's politics.

"While I on behalf of the leadership and the over three million members of the CNM congratulate ADC as the vehicle for national reinvention, I urge us to let us know that the task ahead is an arduous one that needs further strengthening of the forces of change.

"What I am saying is that we should be open to new engagements and alliances being forged and crystallising across the country."

Oyinlola added that the movement was committed to the use of the tools of democracy to recreate a Nigeria that would truly serve all, irrespective of religion, tribe or socio-economic status.

According to him,‎ with the merger, the CNM had ceased to exist, having been formally collapsed into the ADC.

Continuing, he said: "This is just the first in a multi layered action plan to give back the country to its much deprived people.

"As we stated in January during the launch of the CNM, we are taking on this task not minding the inconveniences and other expected and unexpected consequences of our efforts at reinventing the country.‎"

Olagunsoye said the decision to collapse the movement into the ADC was informed by the need to form a formidable force to wrest power from the ruling APC during the 2019 polls.

He explained that the understanding of like-minded persons and organisations across the country was required to rescue the country from the APC.

He was optimistic that the governorship elections of 2018 and the general election of 2019 would be used to cure the curse and afflictions of failed leadership and perpetual underdevelopment in the country.

According to him, "We have said it before and we are stating it here again that the current state of despair and despondency in our dear country is an ill wind.

"It is a foreboding and can only lead to a conflagration. Between January when CNM was formed and now, can we say that the story of Nigeria has changed for the better? Have things not worsened at all levels?

"You will all recall that in January this year, the Coalition for Nigeria Movement was formed by some of us across the country as a political platform to create a new generation of leaders for our country.

"Between that time and today, a lot of grounds have been covered in achieving the set goals. One of such is what we are doing here today - the formal fusing of - our movement into the African Democratic Congress.

"Beyond what we are doing here today, we put our countrymen and women, old and young, on notice that they should expect more from us; that they should expect deepened political engagements across platforms in the coming days and weeks.

‎"We admit that structural inadequacies and failure of leadership have robbed our country of greatness. We also note that a future of greatness for Nigeria will only be birthed by a new generation of youthful leaders with fresh ideas and knowledge of what it takes to govern a 21st century nation.

"This gathering here today is proof that the modest efforts at waking up the vast majority of our people to, for once, take their destiny in their hands as demanded by the Constitution are bearing fruits already. Our Constitution guarantees all Nigerians their fundamental human rights, including freedom of association and the right to hold political views."

He reiterated Obasanjo's position that the current state of despair and despondency in the country was an ill wind that would not blow any good.

He said: "It is a foreboding and can only lead to a conflagration. Indeed, every one of us who has been in power before at whatever level may have a share of the blame for the state of the nation. That fact, however, will not disqualify us from being part of, and indeed, stand at the vanguard of finding a lasting solution to this problem.

"Indeed, those who have seen it all but with the right perspective are better placed to bring in knowledgeable young men and women to come and reinvent the country for the challenges of the future.

"ADC and other like-minded political parties should join other patriots in democratically building and enthroning a new set of youthful, knowledgeable and goal-oriented leadership for this country.

"We believe, therefore, that through the right engagements and fundamental reordering of the affairs of our nation, our country will be out of the woods.

"Nigerians are a very resilient people. They are great optimists. They have invested so much trust and hope in our democratic infrastructure with very miserable returns so far.

"As I stated during the launch of the CNM, our country must not continue to be condemned to a four yearly ritual of voting without results.

"To get positive results, therefore, we must get right the choice of leadership. But the apple does not fall far from its tree. Only credible, positive platforms can produce positive results.

"A tree conceived and nurtured on lies, can only bear imaginary fruits. Every government has ideas and programmes - most times packaged in flowery prose.

"The deficit in leadership is noticed at the point of implementation of the ideas and policies. The ADC from its well-enunciated policies and programmes is well placed to make democracy work for the people.

"ADC is properly placed to join other patriots in moving Nigerians in all the wards, the 774 local governments and the 36 states to join hands to make our country truly great. Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we have a job to do.

"The destiny of Nigeria is not to remain forever in crises and in the doldrums. As the CNM takes this momentous step of coalescing into ADC as a vital step in building a national consensus to reconstruct the country, we assure all Nigerians with their support. And with the understanding of like-minded persons and organisations across the country, Nigeria will be rescued.

"God willing, the elections of 2018 and 2019 will be used to cure the curse and afflictions of failed leadership and perpetual underdevelopment."

In his remarks, the national chairman of ADC, Chief Ralph Nwosu, described the fusion as the dawn of a great Nigeria project leading with the right ethical compass.

Nwosu noted that nation building could be a very daunting exercise, but added that with good and committed leaders, the journey could be much easier.

"I invite all Nigerians to have a very deep reflection concerning our nation, Nigeria, and its 100 years of nationhood," he said.

He stated that Nigeria, with a 200 million population was in a dysfunctional state.

"However, I do not want to dwell on our failings. I want to assure you all that we the African Democratic Congress (ADC) working with CNM, and many strategic coalition partners, involving a rainbow coalition of political parties, civil societies, labour and trade unions, and well-meaning eminent Nigerians, are determined to reframe the narrative about Nigeria.

"We have worked tirelessly to put this coalition together. Many important stakeholders helped to guide our party. I wish to specially mention President Olusegun Obasanjo for his tireless support. His word: 'I am not perfect, but I enjoin you to join me in having a deep passion and unshakable commitment for Nigeria.'

"This will guide this new ADC always. The formal launch of our new ADC party will take place, so I wish to enjoin all of us to embrace our philosophy of role modelling leadership as a way to building the new Nigeria and a greater Africa.

"In everything we do, to be successful, we must remain true to ourselves. Deep reflection helps leaders to clear their heads, clarify their path to be able to focus purposefully for each party involved; we expect true and committed engagement to the Nigeria project," he said.

When he announced the formation of the CNM, Obasanjo last January had said he would withdraw from it once it merged or become a political party.

There was no statement from the former president Thursday on whether he would withdraw from the CNM following the coalition with ADC.

Meanwhile, Oyinlola, in a letter addressed to President Muhammadu Buhari, resigned his appointment as chairman of NIMC to attend to greater political engagement.

The letter dated May 9 said: "Sir, I write to resign my appointment as the chairman of the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) with effect from today, 9th May, 2018.

"Your Excellency, I must put on record my very deep sense of appreciation for the special privilege and consideration you gave me to serve our fatherland in that capacity.

"As I stated in my appreciation letter to you shortly after the appointment, the offer was a clear call to service.

"I gave the job the dedication it deserved and would have loved to continue but I regret to inform Your Excellency that I have a new, greater political engagement that will make that difficult and even impolitic.

"Sir, as one of my bosses in the army, I believe you would understand my stand given recent political developments.

"The training I got as a decorated officer and gentleman precludes me from engaging in any act that could amount to disloyalty and conflict of interest.

"I am moving on to chart a new course in my politics outside the ruling party and this thus demands my dropping the NIMC chairmanship.

"I thank you, sir, once again for the great honour and confidence reposed in me.

"However, there is time to take a job and another time to leave it and move on.

"For me, the time to work on something else in the interest and service of our people is now.

"I wish Your Excellency good luck while praying that you will finish well and strong in the service of our country."

Buhari appointed Oyinlola NIMC chairman in September 2017.

By Felex Share

President Mnangagwa will today meet war veterans, war collaborators and ex-detainees in Harare to discuss welfare issues and ways of strengthening Zanu-PF ahead of harmonised elections this year.

The polls are expected by the end of July.

Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) secretary-general Cde Victor Matemadanda confirmed the meeting at the City Sports Centre in Harare.

"We are meeting the President and Head of State and Government as veterans of the liberation struggle, meaning war veterans, war collaborators and ex-detainees are all part of the programme," he said.

"You are aware that since President Mnangagwa was inaugurated, we have never had the chance to meet him. Him being one of the veterans of the liberation struggle, it's natural that we should meet."

Cde Matemadanda said they would table "issues of concern" to President Mnangagwa.

"We want to discuss welfare issues, participation and roles of veterans of the struggle in various sectors, be it in the party or Government as well as map the way forward," he said.

"The comrades have concerns which they need the President to know and address. For example, some have got issues with regards to what they saw during the Zanu-PF primary elections held recently," said Cde Matemadanda.

"War veterans feel the process did not go well in some areas, especially in areas where money was used.

"Some of them were disenfranchised and did not participate because they did not have money. So they feel they should get some affirmative action for them to participate in such processes. We have projects that we think if supported can improve their lives."

He added: "In terms of politics, they feel that while Zanu-PF is a mass party, they have a stake and they should be empowered to be part of those running the party because of their commitment to the party.

"This is simply for the reason that we have many who do not have the party at heart who have been appointed leaders, but upon being expelled in a few weeks or months they form a political party.

"On the other hand we have war veterans who even when expelled, they feel that they belong to the party. A good example is Cde Jabulani Sibanda who was fired in 2014, but because of his background he has never joined another political party."

Cde Matemadanda said among their welfare issues, the veterans of the liberation struggle wanted decent medical care.

"Many were exposed to chemicals and they need treatment to be readily available," he said.

"Comrades understand our economic situation, but they know we now have a listening President who can take measures and make some adjustments, where possible, to accommodate the wishes of the war veterans. They need their monthly payouts to be adjusted so that their livelihoods improve."

The veterans of the struggle want to benefit from indigenisation and empowerment programmes, mining and housing and land projects.

ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu (left) and NEPAD CEO Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki (right) formalized a new agreement this week aimed at enhancing ICAO-NEPAD cooperation and which should help to justify the inclusion of more aviation infrastructure and modernization projects on the continent under the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

press release

Montréal, 10 May 2018 – The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development Planning and Coordinating Agency (NEPAD) have forged a new agreement to enhance the contribution of civil aviation to the social and economic development of the African Continent, and to promote related aviation infrastructure development and capacity-building in aid of sustainable air transport for Africa and Africans.

“Working cooperatively is, and has always been, fundamental to the aviation sector,” stressed ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu. “This new framework with NEPAD will allow us to effectively address the development and modernization of quality aviation infrastructure in Africa, consistent with ICAO’s global and Africa region planning and commensurate with the exponential traffic growth forecast here.”

The new ICAO/NEPAD Agency Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) will formalize and deepen the cooperation between these two organizations, contributing to the implementation of the Declaration and Framework for a Plan of Action for Development of Aviation Infrastructure in Africa, which was adopted at the fourth ICAO World Aviation Forum (Abuja, Nigeria in November 2017)

Both organizations will now be working more closely together in facilitating the movements of persons and goods in Africa, mobilizing resources for aviation infrastructure development, implementing NEPAD’s MoveAfrica initiative for the aviation sector, developing e-commerce, and training and retaining next generation of aviation professionals with gender equity on the continent.

“This collaboration will provide added value for both organizations and improve aviation infrastructure development in Africa,” said NEPAD CEO Dr. Ibrahim Mayaki. “It will help strengthen NEPAD’s understanding of the aviation sector, and importantly help us to ensure the inclusion of aviation projects in the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).”

About ICAO

A specialized agency of the United Nations, ICAO was created in 1944 to promote the safe and orderly development of international civil aviation throughout the world. It sets standards and regulations necessary for aviation safety, security, efficiency, capacity and environmental protection, amongst many other priorities. The Organization serves as the forum for cooperation in all fields of civil aviation among its 192 Member States.

ICAO and Aviation Development  

The ICAO AFI Plan

Contacts

Anthony Philbin
Chief, Communications
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+1 514-954-8220
+1 438-402-8886 (mobile)
Twitter: @ICAO

William Raillant-Clark
Communications Officer
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
+1 514-954-6705
+1 514-409-0705 (mobile)
Twitter: @wraillantclark
LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/raillantclark/

 

By Peter Kenny

Geneva — President Cyril Ramaphosa is to join a top-level Commission on the Future of Work, set up by the International Labour Organization in 2017, the ILO has said.

Ramaphosa will co-chair the 28-member Commission, together with the Prime Minister of Sweden, Stefan Löfven, the ILO said in a statement on 10 May.

"South Africa and the ILO have a very close relationship, and I am sure that the South African President will bring to the Commission's work the values of freedom and dialogue that he has defended his whole life," said ILO Director-General Guy Ryder.

"They are key to the future of work we want and a global economy that works for all."

The global body is assessing the rapid transformations taking place in the world of work, and identifying the key challenges and what must be done to make the future of work better and fairer.

"The Global Commission is grappling with one of the most important and pressing challenges of the modern global economy. If we are to improve the lives of people across the world, we need to prepare collectively for a new world of work," Ramaphosa was quoted as saying in the ILO statement.

Ramaphosa replaces Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, former President of Mauritius, who resigned from her chairmanship earlier this year.

As co-chair of the Global Commission on the Future of Work, he will work with Löfven to oversee the preparation of a major report on the future of work which will be published in early 2019.

The next meeting of the Commission is scheduled to take place on 15-17 May 2018 in Geneva.

The Commission was set up under the ILO's Future of Work Centenary Initiative launched by the ILO Director-General in 2013.

Set-up in 1919 for better working conditions and standards of living, the ILO is one of the oldest international organizations.

In 1946, the ILO became a special organization of the United Nations and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1969.

By Nita Bhalla

Nairobi — Hundreds of women and girls in Kenya are using SMS to report cases of rape through a toll-free messaging service set up to help survivors break the silence around sexual violence in the conservative nation, the initiative's founder said on Thursday.

Although there are several hotlines for victims of sex attacks, the SMS platform - operated by the Kenyan charity Wangu Kanja Foundation - is the first to connect survivors with community volunteers who provide them with direct support.

"In Kenya, we are socialised to believe sex, sexuality and sexual violence is a private issue. People don't discuss it - it's a complete no-go zone," said Wangu Kanja, founder of the charity operating the SMS service, and also a rape survivor.

"Those who do speak out about being raped are not taken seriously and can face negative reactions from their family, community and police. Most survivors have no one to turn to for help such as getting medical care or even reporting the crime."

Some 5,490 rapes were reported in Kenya in 2016, up 3 percent on the previous year, the latest police statistics show.

But women's rights campaigners say the data is a gross underestimate as many victims do not report sexual offences, fearing they will face shame and stigma in the largely patriarchal and conservative east African nation.

The platform has helped about 700 victims of sexual and domestic violence, largely in the country's sprawling city slums, since launching almost two years ago.

"The service was designed for people living in informal settlements," Kanja said. "They don't know their rights as well as the rich and elite in Kenya, and don't how to access services or can't afford to pay for things like medical care."

The 24-hour SMS service - launched in July 2016 in partnership with ActionAid Kenya - provides a mechanism for survivors to seek help by speaking to someone safely, confidentially and without fear of judgement, she added.

A 2014 study by the National Crime Research Centre found that only 15 percent of women and girls who had been sexually violated reported it to the police.

Users text HELP to the SMS code 21094 and are immediately called back by an operator who will ask about their situation and connect them with local volunteers - often survivors of sexual violence themselves.

The volunteers then accompany the women and girls to hospitals or clinics where they can get medical care and also take them to the police to report the assault.

Women's rights lawyers welcome such reporting mechanisms, but add that more needs to be done to ensure access to justice.

"We conduct training sessions with the police on gender issues, but they often end up being transferred to other areas such as dealing with cattle rustling or terrorism-related crimes," said Teresa Omondi-Adeitan, executive director at the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA), an advocacy group.

"There needs to more concerted efforts to keep those trained police on gender-related crimes, as well as providing more support to help them properly investigate crimes to the point of prosecution."

- Reporting by Nita Bhalla @nitabhalla, Editing by Katy Migiro

Photo: VOA News

President-elect George Weah

By A. Omaska Jallah

President George Weah has withdrawn five investment incentives and concessions agreements that were submitted by former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf for ratification by the legislature.

The Dangote Cement Liberia Limited, TIDFORCE/LICEMCO, Nimba Rubber Incorporated (NRI), Liberia Traffic Management and Amendment to the Amended Firestone Agreement were among several other bills submitted to the legislature by the former president in her latter days as president.

President Weah said the agreements were recently reviewed by the Special Presidential Review Committee (SPRC) to assess and ascertain whether they are in compliance with the procedural and substantive requirement of the Liberian Law.

However, he said legal requirements in the mentioned agreements were not adhered to; referencing the amendment of the Public Procurement and Concession Act of 2010 which he said was violated.

Another reason for which the five bills were withdrawn by the President, according to his communication, is to evaluate the justification including benefits to the Liberian people and the nation for the tax and other incentives granted.

He said the categories of tax relief, impose GST, turnover, presumptive fuel and gasoline, withholding on interest, dividends and third parties services were either partially or fully granted to the concessionaires without any showing of measurable benefits to Liberia and its citizens.

Most of the agreements, the President said, do not seemed to have been meticulously prepared as there were a number of avoidable typos and misinformation, while exhibits referenced in the agreements were not attached.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has endorsed the President's request to withdraw the mentioned agreements.

By Timothy Olobulu

Nairobi — Gor Mahia head coach Dylan Kerr has assured all his players that they will have a bite of the Hull City cake when the two sides clash in an international friendly at the Moi Sports Centre Kasarani on Sunday.

Just like he did against Everton in Tanzania last year, Kerr notes that all players deserve the opportunity to play in the iconic friendly tie after proving their worth in training.

"We don't have a first or a second team. All we have is a strong squad of talented players and each of them deserves to play. We will mix up the squad and have one team each enjoying 45 minutes and give everyone a chance to play," Kerr pointed out.

"We did well against Everton last year and I was sad because I disappointed Joachim (Oluoch) and Jeconiah (Uyoga) who didn't play but this time, everyone in the squad deserves to play," the tactician added.

The British coach has been tinkering with his squad this entire season, fielding what is deemed as his strongest 11 in continental football and playing another different team in the Kenyan Premier League.

The gamble has had good success with Gor making it into the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup while the team playing in the league has sustained an unbeaten run, leading the standings with a five point gap and two matches at hand.

"We have not had much of a choice because of how crazy our fixtures have been. Yes there has been criticism of how we have fielded players but did we really have a choice? I have a group of very talented players and all deserve to play," Kerr further added.

He expects a tough match from Hull and he is excited at matching up against his country-mate Nigel Adkins, the Hull City head coach.

"I have known Nigel for long and honestly I am excited to be playing against him. He is a good chap and knows his football very well. I have been made to understand that they have also been watching and analyzing our games so definitely we know they are taking this match seriously," Kerr added.

-Hull name strong squad-

Hull land in the country on Friday at 9:45pm and Adkins has named a strong travelling team of 18 who will play on Sunday.

Among the notable faces in the squad include former Manchester United forward Will Kean and ex-Tottenham Hotspur man Fraizer Campbell. However, PFA Championship player of the season Harry Wilson, on loan from Liverpool FC will not travel with the squad.

Polish winger Kamil Grosicki has also not been included in the final travelling squad as well as Nigerian midfielder Ola Aina whose loan spell from Chelsea has come to an end.

Hull finished 18th out of 24 teams in the Championship after gathering 49 points off 46 games.

Hull team to Kenya

David Marshall, Callum Burton, Dan Batty, Jarrod Bowen, Fraizer Campbell, Billy Chadwick, Max Clark, Adam Curry, Nouha Dicko, Evandro, Brandon Fleming, Tyler Hamilton, Will Keane, Stephen Kingsley, Robbie McKenzie, Tom Powell, Kevin Stewart, Jon Toral.

Botswana coach Dragojlo Stanojlovic has declared that victory remains their only target when they face Congo in the first leg of the Second Round on Saturday in Gaborone.

"We have to win the home game. I respect Congo but once the game starts we will fight," Stanojlovic told the media as the Young Zebras fine-tune for the crucial game.

The Batswana defeated Namibia at the previous round on the away goal rule after a 1-1 tie on aggregate, and are hoping to go past the 2007 African champions to reach the final lap.

"I will take the first 10 to 15 minutes to study my opponents, then after we will attack. We will play to win the game.

"Congo is a strong team but I think my team is now very strong, more especially that we are playing home. The team is disciplined and motivated to deliver, and we have been preparing in that regard. I'm also hoping the supporters will throng the stadium to cheer the team to victory."

Meanwhile, captain Thatanyane Resaobaka is hoping to cap his invitation to the senior national team for the impending regional COSAFA Cup later in the month in South Africa, with a convincing against the visiting Congolese.

The second leg will take place next week in Brazzaville with the winner facing either Senegal or Egypt at the final round.

Seven teams will emerge from the qualifiers to join host Niger for the final tournament scheduled for 2-17 February 2019.

Fixtures

Friday, 11 May 2018

Algeria vs Ghana

Saturday, 12 May 2018

Mauritania vs Guinea

Guinea Bissau vs Nigeria

Burkina Faso vs Libya

Gabon vs Cote d'Ivoire

Rwanda vs Zambia

Burundi vs Sudan

Uganda vs Cameroon

Mozambique vs South Africa

Malawi vs Angola

Botswana vs Congo

Senegal vs Egypt

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Gambia vs Benin

Tanzania vs Mali

Luanda — The Secretary of State for Sports, Carlos Almeida, hailed on Thursday in Luanda the openness and the contribution of the sports officials, during a seminar that discussed the Patronage Law and Sports Law.

Carlos Almeida, spoke to the press at the end of the 1st Seminar on Patronage Law and Sports Law, said that the agents showed their concerns in a frontal and transparent way and the possible changes to be implemented in the future.

"For us some ideas will be taken as guidance because to govern is to share and with this spirit we will walk," he said.

He said that this is a very useful exercise and that they have received many subsidies from the cultural sector that is a pioneer in the Patronage Law in Angola, as well as information on some shortcomings and noncompliances of some sports officials.

The Highveld Lions have on Friday in an industry first, revealed that Enoch Nkwe has been appointed as head coach for the franchise with immediate effect.

Nkwe replaces Geoffrey Toyana as the new coach of the Johannesburg-franchise.

Nkwe, who hails from Soweto and has played for the Highveld Lions as an all-rounder, was the standout candidate after the recruitment process was conducted.

Nkwe was also previously the coach of the Central Gauteng Lions Semi-Professional team and assistant coach to the Proteas Women. Subsequently, he has been coaching club cricket in Holland and filled the role of assistant coach to the Netherlands National Team.

Chairperson of the Highveld Lions, Dr Oupa Nkagisang, commented: "The Lions Board are very clear on its intention to take charge of the domestic franchise competitions in the upcoming season. The belief that this franchise has this ability was reaffirmed by the high calibre of candidates applying for the Lions Head Coach role. We are confident that not only will Enoch make an immediate impact, he will also have a sustainable influence so that we continue to deliver stellar players to the national team, as we have been doing."

With 42 first class and 38 List A matches as a right-handed batsman and a right-arm medium-fast bowler under his belt, Nkwe is relishing being able to lead his home team on and off the field.

"Coaching the Highveld Lions has always been a dream of mine. I am so convinced of the incredible potential that this franchise has that I cannot wait to get started," he said.

"The base of established players, balanced with an exciting pipeline bursting with potential is any coach's ideal formula. I intend to add a balanced culture that will allow players to flourish and work as a unit; it's great that we will have a coach of Geoffrey's (Toyana) experience to support the high performance development and assist us in identifying players that have the potential to contribute to the Lions' setup."

Nkwe is well familiarised with the changing international landscape with regards to player contracting, and the rate at which professional players are developing has increased as opportunities become available at a younger age.

"I know that each player has personal career aspirations and it is my intention to create an environment where they can hone their skills whilst functioning within the team environment. I cannot think of a better environment than the Bullring, with Senwes Park as our second home ground, to do this in. We have a lot of work ahead of us but there is no reason for us to not make a serious play in the coming season," commented Nkwe.

Source: Sport24

Left to right: Mona Lisa (AFP), Monna Vanna (Alamy)Image copyright AFP/Alamy
Image caption Have art experts just undressed (right) the Mona Lisa (left)?

A charcoal drawing housed in another art collection for more than 150 years may have been a sketch for the Mona Lisa, a French art expert says.

The charcoal portrait of a nude woman, known as the Monna Vanna, was previously attributed only to Leonardo da Vinci's studio.

But experts have found enough clues to suggest the artist worked on both.

After tests at the Louvre Museum in Paris, curators believe the sketch is "at least in part" by Leonardo.

It has been held since 1862 in the collection of Renaissance art at the Conde Museum at the Palace of Chantilly, north of the French capital.

Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the great painters of the Italian Renaissance, and his Mona Lisa oil painting (also known as La Gioconda) remains one of the world's most recognisable and valuable works of art.

It is believed to have been a commission from cloth merchant and Florentine official Francesco del Giocondo for a portrait of his wife, Lisa Gherardini.

Hidden portrait 'found under Mona Lisa'

'Earlier Mona Lisa' goes on display

'New' da Vinci sketch valued at $15.8m

Poland buys famed artworks at discount

But was Leonardo right-handed?

"The drawing has a quality in the way the face and hands are rendered that is truly remarkable," curator Mathieu Deldicque told AFP news agency.

"It is not a pale copy. We are looking at something which was worked on in parallel with the Mona Lisa at the end of Leonardo's life.

"It is almost certainly a preparatory work for an oil painting."

Louvre conservation expert Bruno Mottin confirmed it dated from Leonardo's lifetime at the turn of the 15th Century and was of a "very high quality".

The Chantilly Estate posted a photo of the work being done on the sketch.

Skip Twitter post by @chantillydomain

Analyse de la Joconde nue au @c2rmf avec Bruno Mottin, conservateur du @c2rmf et @mathieudeldicqu conservateur du @chantillydomain pic.twitter.com/alMMSu09nP

— Domaine de Chantilly (@chantillydomain) September 28, 2017

End of Twitter post by @chantillydomain

Among clues proffered by Mr Deldicque:

  • The hands and body are almost identical
  • The portraits are almost the same size
  • Small holes pierced around the figure suggest it may have been used to trace its form on to a canvas

However, Mr Mottin pointed out that hatching on the top of the drawing near the head had been done by a right-handed person while Leonardo drew with his left hand.

"We must remain prudent," he told AFP, as work continued.

"It is job that is going to take some time," he said. "It is a very difficult drawing to work on because it is particularly fragile."

Rohingya crisis: UN chief warns of 'humanitarian nightmare'

Rohingya refugees arrive at a camp in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: 28 September 2017Image copyright Reuters
Image caption More than 500,000 Rohingya have fled Myanmar to Bangladesh since late August

Violence in Myanmar has spiralled into the "the world's fastest-developing refugee emergency" and a "humanitarian nightmare", the UN chief has warned.

Secretary General Antonio Guterres called on Myanmar to end its military operation, which has sparked the exodus of over 500,000 Rohingya since August.

He also demanded "unfettered access" to the region to deliver humanitarian aid.

Earlier, at least 14 Rohingya, all women and children, drowned after their boat capsized off Bangladesh's coast.

Survivors say the boat overturned after apparently hitting a submerged object near the coastal city of Cox's Bazar.

Image copyright AFP/Getty Images
Image caption The boat capsized a short distance from the coast near the city of Cox's Bazar

In the past 48 hours, about 2,000 Rohingya have arrived in Bangladesh by boat, fleeing violence in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

In Thursday's briefing to the UN Security Council, Mr Guterres said: "The situation has spiralled into the world's fastest developing refugee emergency, a humanitarian and human rights nightmare."

"We have received bone-chilling accounts from those who fled - mainly women, children and the elderly.

"These testimonials point to excessive violence and serious violations of human rights, including indiscriminate firing of weapons, the use of landmines against civilians and sexual violence."

Mr Guterres also warned that "the failure to address the systematic violence could result in a spill over into central Rakhine where an additional 250,000 Muslims could potentially face displacement".

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionMyanmar: Who are the Rohingya?

UN aid personnel were forced to leave Rakhine when the military began a crackdown on Rohingya militants behind attacks on security personnel in August.

Fleeing Rohingya - the majority of whom are Muslim - accuse Myanmar's military, backed by Buddhist mobs, of trying to drive them out with a campaign of beatings, killings and village burnings.

Images and reports from journalists confirm many villages have been razed.

But the military say they are targeting only militants.

'New Baghdadi tape' posted by Islamic State group

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. speaking in Mosul, 5 July 2014Image copyright AFP
Image caption Russian and Iranian officials have said the IS leader is dead but the US has disagreed

Islamic State militants have released what appears to be an audio recording of their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

A speaker who sounds like the IS leader seems to refer to recent North Korean threats against Japan and the US.

He also talks of battles for IS strongholds like Mosul, which was regained by Iraqi forces in July.

Baghdadi, who has a $25m (£19m) US bounty on his head, has not been seen in public since July 2014, leading to much speculation about his fate.

The last time he appeared was to preach at the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul after IS overran the city and a "caliphate" was proclaimed.

Asked about the audio, a spokesman for US forces fighting IS, Ryan Dillon, said "without verifiable evidence of his death, we have continued to assume that he is alive".

A defence department spokesman told the BBC: "We are aware of the audio tape purported to be of Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and are taking steps to examine it. While we have no reason to doubt its authenticity, we do not have verification at this point."

The militant Sunni Muslim group IS, which earned notoriety for its brutal violence towards civilians and prisoners, has been steadily pushed back in Iraq and Syria this year.

The 46-minute recording was posted by a website with links to the group and is the first such speech to appear since November.

As well as Mosul, the speaker refers to battles in Raqqa and Hama in Syria, and Sirte in Libya, saying the bloodshed would not be in vain. He also talks of Russian-brokered peace talks on Syria. Much of the tape consists of religious references.

Baghdadi may be hiding in territory still controlled by IS along the Iraqi-Syrian border.

Less than a handful people would know his whereabouts, Hassan Hassan of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy wrote in a recent article for BBC News.

That makes it hard for the US, which has dedicated special forces constantly on the look-out for him.

In June, Russia reported that it was "highly likely" Baghdadi had been killed in a Russian air force strike on Raqqa on 28 May, and an Iranian official asserted he was "definitely dead" shortly afterwards.

However, claims of his death had been made before and the reports were treated with scepticism by US officials.


Analysis: A morale boost for IS

By Frank Gardner, BBC security correspondent

So the IS leader al-Baghdadi is still alive, or at least it appears he was still alive at least as recently as August.

This concurs with the views of western intelligence agencies and Iraq's government, which were always sceptical of Russian claims to have killed him an air strike.

His apparent survival to date will give some small morale boost to the beleaguered IS fighters still clinging on in Raqqa, but it is unlikely to make any strategic difference.

Like the al-Qaeda leader Dr Ayman al-Zawahiri, the IS leader is so circumscribed by the need to keep his location secret that he communicates rarely, and is unlikely to be in a position to personally direct any ongoing operations - other than to give them his blessing.

Veep star Julia Louis-Dreyfus reveals breast cancer diagnosis

Julia Louis-Dreyfus at the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles, California, 17 SeptemberImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Louis-Dreyfus won another Emmy earlier this month

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, the award-winning star of US TV comedy series Veep, has announced she has breast cancer, in a message posted on social media.

"1 in 8 women get breast cancer," she wrote. "Today I'm the one."

"The good news", she added, was she had a "glorious group" of family and friends supporting her and "fantastic" insurance through her union.

The actress, 56, has also featured in Saturday Night Live, The New Adventures of Old Christine and Seinfeld.

Skip Twitter post by @OfficialJLD

Just when you thought... pic.twitter.com/SbtYChwiEj

— Julia Louis-Dreyfus (@OfficialJLD) September 28, 2017

End of Twitter post by @OfficialJLD

Earlier this month, Louis-Dreyfus picked up a record-breaking sixth Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a row for her role in HBO series Veep.

In Veep, her character begins as an ineffectual US vice-president whose attempts to expand her role are continually thwarted.

Louis-Dreyfus' announcement was met with an outpouring of support from other actors and celebrities.

Her Veep co-star Tony Hale retweeted the announcement, appending the message: "We love this woman."

Christina Applegate, who had a double mastectomy in 2008 following her own breast cancer diagnosis, told Louis-Dreyfus to contact her if she wanted to talk.

HBO, the network behind Veep, also issued a statement, saying: "We have every confidence she will get through this with her usual tenacity and undaunted spirit, and look forward to her return to health and to HBO for the final season of Veep."

'Universal healthcare'

The US actors' union SAG-AFTRA provides health insurance as a membership benefit, which union members earn credits toward as they work on accredited productions.

"The bad news is that not all women are so lucky," Louis-Dreyfus said in her statement, "so let's fight all cancers and make universal health care a reality".

Her call for universal health care - at a time when US President Donald Trump is pushing through healthcare reforms - is not the first time she has made targeted political comments.

Accepting the award for outstanding performance for a female actor in a comedy series at the SAG Awards earlier this year, she referenced Mr Trump's controversial travel ban, saying: "I am the daughter of an immigrant. My father fled religious persecution in Nazi-occupied France."

"I'm an American patriot, and I love this country... this immigrant ban is a blemish and it's un-American."


Breast cancer: The facts

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women in the world.

The rates of breast cancer vary from country to country - about one in eight women will get breast cancer during their lifetime in the US and the UK.

About 55,000 people are diagnosed with the condition in the UK every year - about 150 people a day. It is far more common among women, affecting just one in every 870 men.

Image copyright Science Photo Library
Image caption Mammograms are recommended on a regular basis for women over 50

Medical experts recommend women be aware of what their breasts normally look and feel like, so they can be aware of any abnormal changes.

Possible signs of breast cancer include:

  • Changes in the outline or shape of the breast, especially those caused by arm movements or by lifting the breast
  • Changes in the look or feel of the skin, such as puckering or dimpling
  • Any new lumps, thickening or bumpy areas in one breast or armpit, with or without pain, that differs from the same part of the other breast and armpit
  • Discharge from the nipple (may be bloodstained)
  • Moist, red areas on the nipple that don't heal easily
  • Any change in nipple position, such as being pulled in or pointing differently
  • A rash on or around the nipple

Recovery chances are good if the cancer is discovered in its early stages. Breast screening programmes use a mammogram - a type of X-ray - to sweep for small cancers in their infancy.

Sources: World Health Organization, NHS, Cancer Research UK


Photo: Capital FM

All government agencies have been instructed to support the exercise.

By Simon Ndonga

Nairobi — President Uhuru Kenyatta will on Saturday lead the country in a national tree planting exercise.

According to State House Spokesman Manoah Esipisu, the event which will be held at the Moi Forces Academy in Nairobi will be replicated at the county and sub-county levels.

The national event, whose theme is 'Panda Miti, Penda Kenya', will be graced by the President accompanied by Nairobi Governor Mike Sonko.

Esipisu urged members of public, corporates and other groups to heed the appeal by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry by planting trees as well as donating trees to Kenya Forest Service (KFS) or county governments.

This is in line with government plans to increase the forest cover in the country to 10 per cent before 2022.

opinion By Mohamed Adow | @mohadow

Both storytelling and political will are needed to deliver on climate goals.

When the Paris climate agreement was signed, the reason many celebrated with such acclaim was not the national commitments to cut emissions - added together those only limited global warming to between 2.7 and 3.5 degrees Celsius.

What made the Paris deal worth celebrating for many groups was the fact that it had within it a mechanism that would see these insufficient pledges be improved upon over time so that they closed the gap and would see temperatures rise no higher than 2 degrees - and hopefully be kept below 1.5.

This 'review and ratchet' mechanism now has a name: the Talanoa Dialogue, named after the Pacific tradition of storytelling and sharing experiences. Countries had their first Talanoa meeting in Bonn, Germany, this week, which featured 210 national representatives as well as 105 other stakeholders from business and civil society. They addressed three questions: Where are we? Where do we want to go? And how do we get there?

Sharing stories can be a powerful and transformative act. Like the Truth and Reconciliation Commission which helped to bring resolution to post-apartheid South Africa, the Talanoa Dialogue has the potential to do the same for our climate.

For any issue of injustice it is important to examine how we got where we are, to allow the victims to talk about their suffering. Climate change is the ultimate injustice, the poorest people who are suffering most from the effects of a changed climate have done the least to cause it.

But without concrete steps to turn this dialogue into action it is nothing more than a patronising talking shop that risks to undermine the very thing that won the Paris Agreement praise. Without a moment that allows these powerful stories to be turned into practical action then we won't bend curve towards a 1.5-degree world fast enough.

We're currently not on track. Last year we saw unprecedented flooding in South Asia as well as hurricanes across the Caribbean and Texas, heatwaves in Europe and wildfires in California. And yet at talks in Bonn there is a lack of urgency to increase our ambition through the Talanoa Dialogue.

In October, the scientists of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will release their special report into how we achieve this 1.5 degree goal. For a world already past 1 degree of warming since the industrial revolution, it is likely to make stark reading. That's why 2018 is a crucial year if we are to deliver the Paris agreement. Talanoa Dialogue needs to be a focal point upping both emissions cuts and helping poor countries to do the same.

It's worth applying the questions of the Talanoa Dialogue to this current impasse. Where are we? We're sharing stories, which is hopefully building trust between countries. Where do we want to go? We need to see these testimonies turned into renewed national emission reduction plans before 2020 when the Paris deal comes into force. How do we get there? The key is to have a significant political moment that will see heads of state put these plans on the table.

Without this injection of political will the world's efforts to tackle climate change will come too slowly to help the people stung most painfully by the injustice of climate change.

In Bonn this week we have started to hear the truth about our climate crisis, it's now up to developed countries to ensure reconciliation takes places and that these stories become more than just hot air.

Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

opinion By Dr. Q. Somah Paygai, Sr

Development thinking has moved a long way from the theory that broad economic development is good for all, but few today would argue that the "trickle down" theory works in practice. Pro-active approaches addressing poverty may focus on one or more aspects of the phenomenon, depending on the context and the theory of change. The analysis of these pro-poor measures may be addressed at different levels, from social protection measures at policy and legislative to micro-interventions.

Addressing economic poverty: facilitating access to affordable credit (micro-credit, group banking, etc.) promoting income generation-generating opportunities (one specific approach being making markets work for the poor); supporting dignified employment (including equal pay for equal work); and the increasingly popular measure of cash transfers.

Building human capacity: promoting access to education for all-often entailing targeted scholarship for girls or other disadvantaged children; vocational skills training, and a wide variety of other long or short term training schemes, possibly targeted to particularly disadvantaged groups.

Addressing political aspects of poverty: informing disadvantaged people of their rights and providing access to legal support; facilitating collective action; and building public speaking and negotiation capacities.

Addressing socio - culture aspects of poverty ( this can require particularly carefully tailored interventions); facilitating the full and equal representation of different groups of people in community decision- making progress; working with both men and women to combat gender- based violence and mutilation; and supporting discriminating groups and individuals to claim their human rights.

Building protective capacities: these measures concern the ability of people to withstand domestic and external shocks such as a severe illness or accident of a family member, or the loss of possessions following a flood or war. Insecurity and vulnerability are crucial aspects of poverty and may be particularly relevant in humanitarian crises in which identifying the most vulnerable can be a matter of life or death.

New Policy Objectives

In Liberia's economic policies and programs for the Pro-poor Policy during the year 2018 and beyond. Two broad themes resonate through ones mind :

Creating the enabling environment and providing the required incentives to invigorate and encourage the private sector to invest in the transformation of the natural resources of the country into finished products that satisfy both domestic and international market demands with respect to quality, price and availability; and

Adopting bold new strategies that will support the creation and expansion of domestic capital and a competitive indigenous business sector, capable of providing the managerial and technological know-how that will place the direction of the nation's economy in the hands of the citizens.

A third emerging concern is to give special consideration and introduce efforts to promote gender equality in all economic, social and political programs.

Economic Principles

Three key principles are considered: the familiar "free market:, "export-led" economic growth strategy and "lead-corporate enterprises".

Free Enterprise System

The view must be held that the operation of our economy by private sector remains the best way to achieve national economic and social advancement, promote and sustain democracy and assure perpetual peace and harmony. Liberia's economic development philosophy must be based on free competition among private enterprises. Monopolies and exclusivity should not be encouraged. The role of government on the economy should be scaled back to primarily setting the rules, regulating business practices and providing the enabling environment for the private sector to function efficiently.

Export-Led Economic Strategy

A second principle is to pursue an export-led economic growth and development strategy. Our vast natural resource endowment provides the basis; the limited size of our domestic market gives wisdom, and our membership in regional and international economic blocks and trends in the global economy justify it.

Lead-Corporate Enterprises

The concept of lead enterprise should not be confused with monopoly rights and exclusively. It has to do with creating the conditions and making genuine strives to attract major investors who have the capital and/or the technology to invest in sectors that are strategic to achieving international competitiveness.

Critical Factors Of Success

Several factors may influence and impact the achievement of any new policy direction; but four are critical and will determine our success:

National Security

The security of the state and its citizenry remains fundamental for investment, especially large scale with the returns spread out over long periods of time. The government reconciliation program must be at the foundation of the internal peace and security we enjoy today. And aggressive diplomatic and political drive are bound to improve and restore good neighborliness with our Mano River Member Countries and promote political stability and security in the entire West African region.

Fiscal Regime

Liberia needs comprehensive and fundamental changes in its tax system and structure to favor the processing of local raw materials into finished products for exports. The global direction of the new structure of our taxes should be generally low tax on capital equipment and none on export of finished products.

Economic Management:

The structure and system of managing the economy must be overhauled to improve accountability, transparency and efficiency and make fiscal policies relevant and supportive of national economic and social development. In fact, there is need to consider recommendations by the Governance Commission on rationalizing and continued restructuring particularly the Executive Branch of Government

Monetary Policy and Financial Services:

The entire world has become one big village where access to markets of different countries are enabled and expedited by improved technology in banking and financial services. We cannot achieve any appreciable level of economic progress with an outdated financial system.

There is an urgent need to accelerate the pace of the monetary sector reform to liberalize and integrate our financial services into the international financial systems and capital market. To that end, the restructuring of the central monetary authority and using one currency.

Legal and Regulatory Framework

The judiciary needs to be strengthened both logistically and with additional people of strong integrity should be enforced to provide for systematic, fair and expeditious disposal of cases.

Fraud and Corruption

The issue of fraud in Government and economic sabotage must be addressed as an integral part of the overall reforms in order to restore confidence in Government.

Infastructure Development

Current conditions and inadequacies in the country's infrastructure renders most of the facilities unusable for economic and business activities. The development and maintenance of the road networks, public utilities and sea and sir ports have been the preserve of Government. Most of these services and facilities were developed as natural monopolies since market conditions could not allow for acceptable financial returns on investments made in them.

As improved technology and new ideas allow the participation of private investors, Government needs to adopt appropriate strategies to encourage private investment in infrastructure development.

In addition to privatization to varying degrees of some of the state-owned enterprises, Government should consider allowing private firms to construct alternative roads and bridges charge "users fees". Private power sources in strategic economic zones could also be explored.

Investment Promotion Strategies

The two principal strategies for investment promotion have been concession and varying degrees of fiscal exemptions. The tax framework within which they have been administered rendered them ineffective and susceptible to various kinds of abuse.

Concession:

Concession remains a relevant vehicle for enabling large investments, which may be non- Liberian owned in some cases, to access and develop land and natural resources. The ceding of rights whether taxes, land and/or natural resources to any entity will continue to need the approval of the National Legislature.

Ratification by the Legislature is also perceived by investors as protecting them and their investments against arbitrary actions by government. Concession will continue to be of interest to investors making huge capital outlays with the returns spread over a long future.

Our forest and wide life, the minerals, vast waters and fertile lands constitute the real sources of wealth in Liberia. The development of these resources are critical to meeting our national aspirations for improved standard of living. Participation in the development, exploitation and disposal of these strategic resources must be based on proven capacity to enhance their value, fulfill acceptable ecological, environment and conservation standards and requirements.

Government should refrain from equity participation in concession as a means of getting compensated for the resources and lands ceded. Royalty, carrying interest, land rental and taxes should be the principal source of Government's share in concessions.

The taxes that are waived to foreign concessions should be converted into shares (in such concession) to be sold be Government to Liberian citizens or transferred to the local authority of the relevant area for raising revenues for the area's development.

Incentives

The investment incentive regime needs a fundamental redirection from general tax exemption and reduction, which create distortions in the market, to specifically targeted factors and technologies that promote the processing of local materials: such as allowing early recovery of investment through accelerated depreciation for duration commensurate with degree of processing and the extent of local value-added (proportion of local resources utilized).

The extent of incentives granted should be determined by the level of local value added and location of the enterprise. Incentives should be granted for only capital equipment, construction materials and complementary raw materials; and for a period not to exceed two years.

Dr. Paygai is the author of the Book, "Developing Institution: A guide for Sub-Sahara Africa", Vice President for Administration at the African Methodist Episcopal University (AMEU).

He was Chairman of the National Investment Commission of the Republic of Liberia (1998-2003). He served as member of the Economic Management Advisory Team for the Republic of Liberia, Associate Professor at the University of Liberia, College of Business and Public Administration, Vice Presidential Candidate during the 2005 Presidential and General Elections in the Republic of Liberia. Member of the Board of Directors (2002-2003) at the Liberia Telecommunications Corporation, Republic of Liberia, member of the Liberia Government Official Delegation to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) Transformation to the African Union (AU) in the Durban, South Africa (June 28, - July 10, 2002). Grand Commander for the Star of Africa from the Government of Liberia in 2003, in recognition of Meritorious Service to the republic of Liberia.

By Webmaster Admin

The Ministry of Health's Quality Management Unit in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and ACCEL, on May 5 successfully completed the 'WHO Save Lives, Clean Your Hands Campaign' annual celebration in 18 hospitals across Liberia's 15 counties.

The annual campaign is held on May 5 throughout the world and is an extension of the WHO's Clean Care is Safer Care Program that was launched in 2005.

The objective of the campaign is to ensure that communities are safe through infection prevention, with a focus on maintaining hand hygiene improvement and making the topic a priority and part of the current national agenda.

This year's theme was "Healthcare Associated Sepsis Prevention and Hand Hygiene Infection Prevention," with the global slogan: "It's in your hands, prevent sepsis in health care."

As part of this year's global hand hygiene day celebration, Infection Prevention Control (IPC) focal persons in all counties implemented planned activities from the national level.

Activities marking the celebration included: Interactive phone in radio talk shows, parades, football matches as well as presentation by healthcare workers highlighting sepsis prevention through hand hygiene.

Sepsis is a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by deregulated host response to infection complications to anyone who is suffering it. Many Liberians who participated in the activities in the 15 counties learned an important but simple method to prevent sepsis, along with other diseases such as cholera, eye-infection, Lassa fever and Ebola as the recent experience in Liberia indicated.

Many participants expressed appreciation for efforts by the Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization to provide healthcare support and other simple methods that can be applied by communities, to prevent diseases that have killed many in the past.

By James Ngunjiri

Jubilee Insurance has been feted for introducing mobile apps and an artificial intelligence-(AI) powered bot that assists customers get answers on queries via mobile phones or over the Internet.

The insurer emerged top in the 2018 Innovation of the Year Award category at the 45th Africa Insurance Organisation (AIO) conference held in Accra, Ghana this week for the customer-care solution.

In February, the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE) listedfirm introduced a chatbot called "Julie" - the firm's live intelligent expert that handles customer queries and tackles everyday insurance requests.

It also introduced two mobile apps (JubiAgent and JubiCare) that enable agents and customers access self-service and e-commerce functions via mobile phones.

The apps allow agents to sell and service insurance solutions on the go, while JubiCare app allows customers access all the policy data in real-time, as well as geo-locate different Jubilee Insurance medical providers wherever they are.

"We are cognisant that technology is now integral part of the insurance value chain and we are leveraging on it to increase the uptake of insurance by offering solutions at the touch of a button," said Jubilee Insurance Kenya chief executive Patrick Tumbo Thursday.

AIO, launched in 1972 in Mauritius, aims at developing healthy insurance and reinsurance industry in the continent, and to promote inter-African co-operation in insurance.

The current membership of the AIO is 326 members--315 of them from 45 countries in Africa and 11 associate members from seven overseas countries.

Podcasting gives enormous opportunities to those in Africa who can produce high-quality content. Data costs still need to come down and discoverability needs to go up but there are potentially big audiences out there for the right (not necessarily mass-market) content. Russell Southwood spoke to Duncan McLeod, Founder and Editor of online ICT site TechCentral about why he's podcasting and how.

The latest video clip interviews from Smart Monkey TV can be found at the bottom of this e-letter

Duncan McLeod did 12 years as Tech Editor at the Financial Mail before he got "itchy feet" and wanted to start something of his own:"I saw what was happening online and what was happening to the press". So in 2009, he launched ICT website TechCentral.

Almost ten years later, it has 237,500 unique users and 658,100 monthly page views (February 2018):"It's aimed at the ICT community in South Africa specifically with a slant towards telecoms, for people working in the industry. However, its second largest readership outside South Africa is Kenya."

But despite being originally a print journalist and then the online equivalent, McLeod always loved radio as a format. When he studied, he spent time at Capital Radio:"I've got lots of friends in radio. But it's a difficult and expensive process to start a new radio station." Podcast lowers those barriers and soon Google will start treating audio content the same for search purposes as text and video.

"The podcast offers readers more than what they get with an online article. A one-hour podcast with a senior executive allows the listener to have a more personal and detailed experience. You get a lot more insight into people in the industry. For an article, you might just pick the best bits out. You also get incredible feedback." The podcasts will soon have an integrated chat room function for feedback:"It takes us closer to our audiences and encourages feedback."

Most importantly, podcasting is less expensive to do than radio but McLeod stresses the importance of investing in good equipment and facilities:"The Zoom H6 is a very good high-end audio recorder and we have a mixing desk and computers. We're also equipping a studio with noise cancellation screens."

Another of the reasons for doing the podcast was that the online tech media space in South Africa "was getting more crowded by the day. This is a key differentiator and will allow us to keep producing quality content. The revenue will flow from that way."

The main distribution channel for the podcasts is South Africa digital audio platform iono.fm that provides live streaming that is useful for the weekly sessions he does co-hosted with Regardt van der Berg (livetechcentral.co.za). He also uses Spreaker.com and says "I'm open to other technology platforms."

He's looking at the idea of doing video but knows that it is "a lot more complicated. We're excited by video but we're not going to launch until the product is right. I'm in the experimentation phase and we'll do something in the next three months." He also owns the domain podcast.africa "and may look to do something with that domain soon."

What's the big difference between text and audio?:"When it's audio, you need to be more prepared and structure, particularly if it's live. You have to work hard at being interesting to the listener."

But he still uses text articles to promote the podcasts to his existing audiences. The largest part of his audiences hear about the podcasts through the TechCentral website but it's also "very discoverable through podcast apps. I use Pocket Casts (https://play.pocketcasts.com/). It's picked up by people who are not reading TechCentral and it allows people to listen while they're stuck in the traffic."

Although he's reluctant to talk about audience numbers, he does tell me the monthly podcast streams number on the basis I won't repeat it. However, it is a serious number and will soon make its way into the light of day.

The business model is to make money from advertising:"There's lots of interest in the podcast and we're getting lots of enquiries. It's a loss leader at the moment but it's our full intention that it will be profitable. We're heading quickly in that direction."

"Podcasting is becoming massive, particularly in the USA and that's translating into growth in South Africa. Iono.fm is showing strong growth (as a South African distribution platform).It's still very small but as mobile data costs come down, podcasts will be a medium with wider audiences."

So what are his two favorite podcasts?:"I like Gareth Cliff at Cliff Central and The Burning Platform with Justice Malala, which is sponsored by Nando's. I don't always agree with The Renegade Report (co-hosted by Jonathan Witt and Roman Cabanac) but there opening up an ideological space that is mainstream in the USA but gets no coverage here".

By Fasica Berhane

Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) called on the public to buy locally made products to encourage innovations.

Communication Affairs Directorate Director at the Office Tameru Taye told The Ethiopian Herald that the Office is safeguarding innovations through copy right, trade mark and innovation rights.

Tameru said that the Office is partnering with relevant bodied to encourage people to buy home grown products and encourage innovations.

The Director noted that the Office hosted an exhibition last Monday and displayed locally produced goods and innovation works to create business network among investors and various stakeholders to promote 'Made in Ethiopia' products and innovations.

In his opening remark at the exhibition, Science and Technology State Minister Professor Afework Kassu said that purchasing local products plays a major role in speeding up Ethiopia's economic growth.

"The trend would also make a positive role in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation works thereby encouraging more innovations," the State Minister added.

Discussions, presentations and innovations was presented at the exhibition while automatic garden watering and first education software application, Yeneta. net both invented by local inventors, were displayed in the event.

At the exhibition, over 40 local business participants in were attendance, it was learnt.

Local Internet Access Provider and telecommunications giant, Powertel Communications, has set up a sterling display of its role as a catalyst and enabler of innovative digital solutions at the running ZITF 2018 exhibition showcase.

The 2018 ZITF exhibition is running under the theme "Sustainable Industrial Development. Inclusive-Competitive-Collaborative".

Exhibiting under the theme -- Innovative Digital Solutions for Industrial Growth -- Powertel, has embraced the recently launched government ICT policy, whose thrust is that of ICT being an economic enabler for the development and establishment of sector appropriate solutions with comprehensive breath, depth, flexibility and applicability.

Powertel has been an enabler through the provision of 360 degree ICT solutions that include Voice, Internet and connectivity through creating virtual private networks. Much recently, the corporate rolled out a state-of- the art communication solution for vehicle tracking and fleet management under its broad product category of the Internet of Things (IOT).

Steps on how businesses can own the digital age

Step 1: Own a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

In Zimbabwe, ICT companies such as Powertel Communications, have long been offering VPN for real-time communication to sectors such as financial institutions (banks, insurance companies etc.), retail and manufacturing, mining, tertiary education, NGOs and also to other ICT operators.

Government departments, SMEs and private businesses in general need to leverage on the power of virtual private networking to connect remote users or regional offices to the company's private, internal network in real-time. A virtual private network (VPN) is a network that is constructed using public wires -- usually the Internet -- to connect remote users or regional offices to a company's private, internal network.

A VPN secures the private network, using encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorised users can access the network and that their data cannot be intercepted.

This type of network is designed to provide a secure, encrypted tunnel in which to transmit the data between the remote user and the company network.

Step 2: Leverage on reliable, high speed internet access

Organisations must leverage on reliable, high speed internet access to promote efficiency, transparency and increased customer convenience. While a VPN promotes internal network communication, the internet enables external communication not only with local but also with the organisation's regional and global networks. The Powertel brand has been synonymous with reliability, speed and dedicated corporate internet service offering better quality of services to the market.

For over 15 years now, Powertel has dominated in the provision of internet and connectivity solutions to most companies; Telecoms , ICTs, ISPs and IAPs;- financial institutions -- banking sector, finance houses, insurance companies; Government, municipality and parastatals; health sector, mining sector, manufacturing and production; retail sector, education institutions (universities and polytechnic colleges); churches, transport and shipping organisations, motoring sector, hospitality, SMEs and others.

In fact, the company has carried all the major telecoms and listed companies in the country and continues to do so to this day, earning it the nickname, "Carrier of Carriers" that is on its own a household name.

Powertel Communications has moved in line with the times also enabling mobility in internet access through the establishment of a mobile base station network that utilises wireless devices including phones, modems and wifi routers for access. While there exist a number of suppliers of internet services in Zimbabwe, Powertel Corporate internet and its PowerConnect retail broadband solutions have proved to be the most affordable on the market. On the Powerconnect mobile internet solutions customers have been availed the choice to signup for data from as little as $1 for 2Gb data packages, while unlimited data package on mobile internet has been pegged at $40 for the whole month.

Step 3: Go digital

The modern day customers are not only highly knowledgeable but also increasingly highly mobile due to the prevalence and adoption of a high number of digital devices and interfaces. Driven by the existent market and ICT regulatory changes, businesses today must also transform into digital customer- oriented organisations.

This demands for the adoption and use of more online and mobile customer touch points to enable seamless communication amongst customers, employees, suppliers and their respective communities.

Emails, SMS, mobile applications and social media are some of the most common digital interfaces used by companies today. ICT companies such as Powertel Communications have gone a step further to also incorporate web chat service, and online self-service support amongst some of the digital tools.

Powertel Communications is not only applying the digital tools but also enabling businesses to go digital through their professional services offering that include Domain and Email hosting, LAN installations and LAN audits and Maintenance. In the recent years due to economic pressures affecting viability, companies have resorted to cost-cutting and downsizing measures, some which have affected their internal ICT support functions.

This has seen the rise in outsourcing these services, with a one-stop shop provider being the ideal. Furthermore, the prevalence and growth of SME sector, some who prefer not to set up internal IT support, has seen the rise in demand for the one-stop-shop facility. Powertel has also ventured into Internet of Things (IoT) business currently offering fleet management solutions that businesses can also take advantage of in creating lean but efficient businesses. With the rise in IoT business and digital transformation, the conversation has now inclined towards cybersecurity and artificial intelligence.

For more information on how your organisation can benefit from the most affordable internet, voice and connectivity products available on the market and be a part of the ICT digital revolution, get in touch with [email protected] for a quotation.


Latest News