War Crimes Suspect Called ‘Rambo’ Is Turned Over to International Court

AMSTERDAM — A commander in a Central African Republic militia who is known as “Rambo” and is wanted on suspicion of war crimes, including murder, deportation and torture of Muslims, has been handed over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, the tribunal said.

Officials from the Central African Republic transferred the commander, Alfred Yekatom, on Saturday to officials from the court, which is looking into more than six years of violence that has destabilized a fragile region at the heart of the continent.

Mr. Yekatom, a sitting member of Parliament, was flown out of the country and arrived in the court’s detention center in The Hague early Sunday, officials there said.

There was no immediate comment from Mr. Yekatom or any lawyers representing him.

A United Nations commission of inquiry found that Christian militias under Mr. Yekatom had carried out war crimes and crimes against humanity by targeting Muslims.

The International Criminal Court, set up to prosecute the worst crimes when member countries cannot or will not do so, issued a sealed arrest warrant for Mr. Yekatom on Nov. 11.

“We allege Mr. Yekatom is criminally responsible for several counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the Central African Republic between 5 December 2013 and August 2014,” said an International Criminal Court prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda. “Now, he must answer in court for his actions.”

Ms. Bensouda is carrying out two separate investigations into conflicts in the Central African Republic. Mr. Yekatom’s arrest is the first in the more recent conflict.

She paid tribute to witnesses who helped her build the case against Yekatom, saying “justice would not be possible” without them, according to The Associated Press.

“We cannot undo the suffering that has been inflicted on victims, but we remain committed to doing our part,” Ms. Bensouda added, “to advance justice and accountability in the Central African Republic.”

A pretrial chamber found reason to suspect Mr. Yekatom of commanding around 3,000 members of an armed group operating within the anti-Balaka movement, which was carrying out systematic attacks against the Muslim population.

Among the charges in the warrant are murder, cruel treatment, deportation, imprisonment, torture, persecution, enforced disappearance and the recruitment of child soldiers under the age of 15.

No date has been set yet for Mr. Yekatom’s initial appearance, but he must be brought before a judge within several days under court rules.

A former French colony, the Central African Republic is one of Africa’s poorest countries despite reserves of gold and diamonds. It was plunged into chaos when the predominately Muslim Seleka rebels started attacking towns and grabbing territory before seizing power in March 2013.

Seleka’s rule prompted a backlash from Christian militia known as anti-Balaka. Under international pressure, Seleka handed power to a transitional government, but the move effectively partitioned the country and bloody clashes continue.

The government of the Central African Republic asked the I.C.C. in May 2014 to investigate crimes said to have been committed by both the Seleka and the anti-Balaka.

In June, appeals judges from the court overturned the conviction of Jean-Pierre Bemba, a former vice president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, for atrocities committed by his forces in Central African Republic in 2002 and 2003, saying the trial judges had made errors.

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How does your pay compare to a Nigerian senator?

Many Nigerians were shocked after recent revelations from a prominent politician, Shehu Sani, that Nigerian senators are entitled to monthly expenses of 13.5m naira (£27,000; $37,500), in addition to their monthly salaries of more than $2,000.

A Senate spokesperson confirmed the figure, but said the funds were for senators to run their offices and should not be counted as part of their salaries.

Taking the salary and expenses together, how does your income compare to that of a Nigerian senator? Use our interactive calculator to find out. (App users click on the image)

A senator's income (including expenses) is about 156 million naira per year.

If you were earning the minimum wage (₦18,000):

  • It would take a senator 1 hour and 1 minute to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 722 years and 3 months to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1296 you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice, while your monthly income could buy 1 bag of rice

If you were earning ₦50,000:

  • It would take a senator 2 hours and 49 minutes to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 260 years to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1758, you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice, while your monthly income could buy 3 bags of rice.

If you were earning ₦100,000:

  • It would take a senator 5 hours and 37 minutes to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 130 years to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1888, you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice while your monthly salary income could 6 bags of rice

If you were earning ₦150,000:

  • It would take a senator 8 hours and 26 minutes to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 86 years and 8 months to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1931 you'd almost be finished, you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice, while your monthly income could buy 10 bags of rice.

If you were earning ₦200,000:

  • It would take a senator 11 hours and 14 minutes to receive your monthly income.
  • On your current salary, it would take you approximately 65 years to earn what a senator receives in a year.
  • If you had started working in the year 1953 you'd almost be finished, you'd almost have caught up with them by now.
  • A senator's monthly income could buy 866 bags of rice while your monthly income could buy 13 bags of rice.

How do you compare with a senator?

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Senators’ estimated earnings are based on the statement made by Nigerian Senator Shehu Sani, on March 7, 2018.

The exchange rate was calculated at 1 USD = 359.200NGN, 1GBP = 503.483NGN as on 20 March 2018 using http://xe.com.

The calculator assumed that a bag of rice would cost ₦15,000

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At least 42 killed in Zimbabwe bus fire

At least 42 people are confirmed to have died in a fire aboard a bus in Zimbabwe late on Thursday.

The bus was near travelling near Beitbridge, close to the border with South Africa, when the blaze began.

The company that owned the vehicle, Brooklyn Buses, said it believed that a gas canister brought on board by a passenger may have caused the incident.

Many of the bodies were burnt beyond recognition and more than 20 survivors have been taken to hospital.

The driver, who survived the fire, said that he pulled over to the side of the road after detecting a “strange smell”, a police spokeswoman told AFP news agency. When he turned on the lights to investigate, the bus burst into flames, she added.

Zim Red Cross first aid teams responded to a horrific accident around midnight at the 56km peg from Gwanda towards Beitbridge involving a South African bound bus. A total of 24 people have been ferried to Hospital while the number of deaths is still to be confirmed. pic.twitter.com/GSu3xRHFB7

End of Twitter post by @ZrcsRed

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa said he was “devastated” to hear of the incident, which comes a week after 47 people were killed in a bus collision in the east of the country.

He urged drivers to take extra care while on the roads.

I was devastated to learn of last night’s tragedy, the second major accident in recent weeks. The thoughts and prayers of a grieving nation go out to the wounded and the families of those killed. We will ensure they get the care and support they require. (1/2)

End of Twitter post by @edmnangagwa

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Breakthrough Lymphatic Filariasis Treatment Piloted In Kenya – A First For Africa

IDA treatment, a new triple drug therapy with the potential to reduce the time to treat and break transmission of lymphatic filariasis (LF) from at least five years down to two years, will be piloted today in a tremendous effort led by the Kenyan Ministry of Health and supported by a consortium of international partners.

The new approach will have significant implications for the improved health of communities and contribute to the strengthening of health systems in Kenya. With a reduced timeframe for treatment, the burden of LF on the population receiving IDA would be alleviated and the time and resources of trained health workers freed up to focus on other public health issues. This will undoubtedly support efforts to achieve universal health coverage in Kenya, and offer guidance to other countries eligible for IDA treatment.

Current treatment regimens for LF, a neglected tropical disease (NTD) – more commonly known by its most visible symptom, elephantiasis – include mass drug administration of a dual therapy consisting of diethylcarbamazine (DEC) and albendazole (ALB). The new IDA treatment adds the delivery of ivermectin (IVM) to form a triple therapy that studies have shown to deliver a shorter, more cost-effective program. This is a game-changing opportunity to accelerate progress towards the elimination of LF as a public health problem in Kenya, and help the East African nation join the fourteen countries that have already done so.

Globally, 856 million people are at risk of LF – almost half of whom live in Africa – with 3.9 million of those in Kenya. The Ministry of Health has selected three areas to rollout the pilot treatment and will use the 2018 results to inform scale up to the rest of the country in 2019. Five other African countries are eligible for the new regimen: Sao Tome and Principe with 188,000 people at risk of LF, Comoros with 405,000 at risk, Madagascar with 19.6 million at risk, Eritrea with 17,000 at risk, Zambia with 11.3 million at risk and Zimbabwe with 7.8 million at risk. Other countries considering IDA rollout in 2019 include India, with over 400 million people at risk of LF.

As one of the most common causes of long-term and permanent disability globally, LF is a threat to communities beyond health implications. It causes significant social stigma and deprives those suffering from the disease the dignity and opportunities that underpin a productive life.

The highly visible symptoms – including extreme swelling of limbs, breasts and external genitalia – also encourage a high degree of social exclusion and leave those with LF often unable to perform daily tasks such as attending school or work, or taking care of their basic hygiene and health needs, putting them at a higher risk of long-term poverty.

Recognizing the severity of LF’s socioeconomic impact, the NTD community and global health partners, like the World Health Organisation (WHO), are especially hopeful about taking this next step towards eliminating the disease.

The launch of the first IDA treatment program in Africa is a key step towards achieving Kenya’s five-year National Strategic Plan for the control of NTDs. It is a culmination of efforts led by the Kenyan Ministry of Health with several partners including the END Fund, Evidence Action, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization, African Institute for Health & Development, the NTD Support Center at the Taskforce for Global Health, and Merck’s Mectizan Donation Program.

“The Gates Foundation is proud to support the Kenyan government’s launch of the first IDA pilot in Africa,” said Trevor Mundel, President of Global Health, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “People at risk of LF live in some of the world’s poorest and hardest-to-reach communities, and the introduction of triple-drug therapy will help stop transmission and end LF for good.”

LF is a mosquito-borne NTD and found mainly in coastal regions of Kenya along the Indian Ocean. It is one of six NTDs targeted by the government’s NTD National Strategic Plan. In 2017, over 2.5 million dual therapy LF treatments were provided nationwide.

“This is going to have a lot of benefit to our people because we will shorten the period of elimination from five years to two years, and then there is additional benefits in terms of clearing things like scabies, which comes with the triple drug therapy approach,” said Dr. Sultani Matendechero Head of the National NTD Department at the Kenya Ministry of Health.

As well as the potential for faster elimination of LF in key countries, IDA implementation could result in 314 million fewer treatments required globally. It is estimated that this would save up to $160 million in health treatments as countries work towards elimination.

The implementation of IDA treatment in Kenya builds momentum for the government in its efforts to tackle treatable and preventable diseases like NTDs and the poverty they cause. IDA is a promising example of how advances in epidemiology can foster collaborative partnerships between researchers, policymakers, implementers, and donors.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) On behalf The END Fund.

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Cape Town advised to root out alien trees to boost water supply

CAPE TOWN (BLOOMBERG) – Cape Town, the South African city that threatened to turn off the taps this year as it confronted a water crisis, should clear thirsty alien trees as a cheaper alternative to building desalination plants or waste water recycling systems.

Removing non-indigenous trees from water catchment areas could add two months of water supply each year, according to research from the Nature Conservancy that the Arlington, Virginia-based organisation published in Cape Town on Friday (Nov 16).

Building desalination plants and wastewater recycling systems would cost on average 10 times more than rooting out invasive pine, acacia and eucalyptus trees, according to the study.

Cape Town came within 90 days of shutting off supplies and forcing residents to queue for water during a record drought caused by years of below-average rainfall.

While “Day Zero” was avoided, residents remain subject to severe restrictions that limit them to 70 litres each a day.

The US organisation’s study found that 372 million rand (S$36.1 million) could fund a 30-year programme to clear invasive trees and prevent them from returning in seven catchment areas that provide 75 per cent of Cape Town’s water.

In its first six years, the effort could yield an additional 56 billion litres, adding to the city’s current annual supplies of 324 billion litres.

Dams supplying Cape Town were 72.9 per cent full as of Thursday, according to figures posted on the city’s website. They dwindled well below 30 per cent before a recovery in rains during the May-August wet winter season swelled reservoirs.

Here are some more key points from the Nature Conservancy’s announcement:

– Companies, philanthropists and foundations have contributed almost 53 million rand to the Greater Cape Town Water Fund, launched on Friday

– The study was designed to identify the most cost-effective solution, attract others to join the Cape Town Water Fund, and add to money raised so far

– Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Caterpillar Foundation, and Levi Strauss & Co are among corporate supporters of the fund

– Work in the first six years of the programme will create an estimated 350 jobs, mostly on teams to clear the invasive plants

– The Nature Conservancy’s research was conducted by Anchor Environmental Services and modelled various investments to increase water supplies to the city and its surroundings.

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Making Agriculture Cool

At every conference she has attended on the youth, Nawsheen Hosenally has been frustrated to hear that agriculture is not ‘cool’. The 29-year-old graduate in agricultural extension and information systems knew she wanted to do something to redeem the image of agriculture among young people.

So the Mauritian and her Burkanibe, journalist husband decided to co-founded Agribusiness TV. Content for the channel is viewed through the website where short video stories about successful youth entrepreneurs who have careers in agriculture are uploaded.

“I had heard so much about how uncool agriculture was and realised no one changes this image but youth themselves,” Hosenally tells IPS.

“Our tagline at Agribusiness TV is ‘seeing is believing’. The visuals showing success stories in agriculture have greater impact than, for instance, reading a publication. Slowly, youth are seeing agriculture differently.”

With a little help from their mobile phones, apps, YouTube and Facebook, young entrepreneurs like Hosenally are changing the face of farming across Africa. Despite having 60 percent of the world’s arable and uncultivated land, the African continent is battling to eliminate hunger and poverty as the majority of its smallholder farmers are getting older, and realising lower crop yields than before.

The likelihood of the agriculture sector spurring Africa’s economic turnaround are huge, as are the challenges of attracting young farmers to an industry employing more than 60 percent of the continent’s population.

Population experts project that Africa’s population will double to 2.5 billion people in the next 40 years. This will place pressure on African governments to deliver more food, energy, jobs shelter, health and better standards of living for their citizens.

The digitalisation of agriculture offers young entrepreneurs the opportunity to create disruptive business models that accelerate modernisation of the sector, says Michael Hailu, Director of the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), based in The Netherlands.

“Young people can relate. When they see other young people doing something, they ask ‘why not me’?” said Hosenally. “By showing that farmers and entrepreneurs can be young and successful, they are changing the narrative about agriculture,” she adds. More young people are tuning into Agribusiness TV for inspiration and farming tips.

The TV channel, which also has a mobile application, attracted 500,000 views in the first year of its launch in 2012. Within six months, the videos had drawn 1 million views. Today, the viewership has increased to more than 8 million on the app, with over 180,000 followers on Facebook and almost 18,000 subscribers on YouTube.

“We conceived it for mobile phones because we were targeting youth,” Hosenally tells IPS. “The statistics are really great and show the audience is growing over time, but in terms of stories we see more impact in the feedback we get. The first impact is when someone is featured online. All of a sudden they are like a star as soon as their video is published. Some have 100,000 views in less than 24 hours. It is visibility that leads to networking and other opportunities.”

A pig farmer from Burkina Faso featured on Agribusiness TV mentioned that he was keen to expand his business into crop production, but did not have a tractor. A Burkinabe living in Spain saw the video and donated a tractor to the young farmer.

“This is the impact we want to see, and this will get more young people to see agriculture as a business,” says Hosenally. She has also created an Agribusiness Shop that sells natural value-added products from youth and women in Burkina Faso through a Facebook page.

More than 1.3 billion people are employed in agriculture across the world, making it one of the largest job providers and key source of income and livelihoods, according to figures from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

Farming role models

Youth in Ghana look down on agriculture because they can only see elderly and poor farmers struggling to make ends meet, says Michael Ocansey, a computer science specialist and founder of Agrocenta, an online platform linking small-scale farmers and large farmer organisations in Ghana.

“Many young people move out of the farming communities to the cities to seek delusional greener pastures,” Ocansey tells IPS. “At AgroCenta, we are changing this by improving the financial livelihood of smallholder farmers, and also making agriculture sexier for the younger generation.”

Ocansey admits that examples of struggling farmers still exist, making it hard to undo the perception youth have about farmers and farming. More success stories may help to change the mind-set so that young people are persuaded to make a career in agriculture.

Lilian Mabonga, Head of Programmes at Ustadi foundation, a capacity development organisation based in Kenya, agrees.

“Many youth do not view agriculture favourably, and it is usually seen as something you do when you retire,” says Mabonga.

“Youth are the majority of the population in my country, and agriculture employs more than 40 and agriculture contributes 26 per cent to GDP while providing livelihoods for more than 80 per cent of the population.”

Barriers to young entrepreneurs

Youth entrepreneurs can face rough ground when it comes to planning a future in agriculture. Many lack access to land and infrastructure, and have inadequate skills and knowledge, as well as limited access to agricultural information, markets and finance.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) forecasts that Africa can increase its agricultural output to 880 billion dollars per year by 2030 if it removes barriers to development, which include, among other factors, low investment, poor credit access for farmers, limited market access, and limited use of modern agro inputs and mechanisation.

Already, Africa’s agribusiness market is projected to be valued at 1 trillion dollars by 2030, according to the AfDB.

Show the money

The perception that you can make money on the farm needs to be supported with advise that hard work must be expected, cautions Lawrence Afere (35), founder of Springboard, an online network of producers and rural entrepreneurs in Ondo State of Nigeria.

“When we project farming as a viable economic opportunity for young people, we should tell them it is a process and you have to get your hands dirty,” says Afere whose programme is working with 3,000 members across six states in Nigeria, growing plantains, beans and rice. Springboard gives the farmers inputs and training, and buys back the produce for processing and value addition.

Access to finance tops the farming bucket list. Some initiatives are helping young entrepreneurs to go into agriculture without breaking the bank.

An FAO programme on Youth Employment is helping to beat poverty by developing the technical skills of young people in agriculture. In Guinea Bissau, FAO has promoted skills development for young farmers in aquaculture after realising that its target group of young entrepreneurs did not have the technical skill to run fish farming projects, even if they had all other resources.

Skills, effective policies and a conducive environment are key foundations on which to build successful agribusiness entrepreneurs, argues Tony Nsanganira, a youth employment specialist with FAO in Ghana.

Entrepreneurship needs education too

Despite the many success stories of agripreneurs, one of the evidence-based studies from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) shows that youth entrepreneurship cannot be the solution for the massive youth employment challenge.

Over the next two decades, 440 million young people in sub-Saharan Africa will enter the labour market looking for work, according to the World Bank and the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD).

Most youth in sub-Saharan Africa are poorly educated and have low skills, and the majority live in rural areas, says Ji-Yeun Rim, project manager at the OECD’s Development Centre, based in Paris.

“Yet rural youth have high job expectations, and they do not want to farm,” Rim told IPS.

A recent OECD study on rural youth aspirations in developing countries shows that 76 per cent aspire to work in high-skilled occupations, but in reality, only 13 per cent are actually in such jobs.

In the past four years, Rim has coordinated a youth inclusion project supporting governments in nine developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America to improve policies targeting youth.

Original article at IPS By Busani Bafana

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Nokia Deploys 5G With Operator Rain In South Africa

Nokia has deployed the its 5G site for the South African operator rain in time for the operator to launch 5G services ahead of AfricaCom 2018. The launch and subsequent rollout are well aligned with the government’s strategy to connect the unconnected and improve the lives of citizens, and match rain’s main objective to provide affordable broadband internet to the masses in South Africa.

The full network deployment is set to start in the first quarter of 2019, and services are expected to launch mid-2019 when standards-based 5G NR devices become available in the country. rain is in a unique position to offer 5G as they already have access to 5G spectrum.

As an early adopter of 5G, rain will roll out the technology in South Africa, ahead of many other countries globally. During the launch, Nokia and rain will showcase the impact of 5G and how it can provide even remote locations access to high-quality education. The classroom of the future will embrace virtual reality technology run on 5G networks to give South African citizens access to world-class education. This will not only improve the education system in the country, but also stimulate economic growth.

5G promises to enable faster speeds, massive connectivity, decade-long battery life for sensors and super-responsive and reliable networks for customers. This will unleash on-demand virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) experiences, driverless vehicles, medical monitoring, advanced industrial automation services, and so much more – all requiring ubiquitous low latency connectivity.

Marc Rouanne, president of Mobile Networks at Nokia, said: “Nokia has a long-standing relationship with rain, and we are proud to work with the company on 5G. Nokia believes that 5G will change the connectivity landscape in South Africa and the entire continent. It will connect the unconnected and reshape services such as education and health, with the introduction of more connected things. 5G is a key investment and innovation and the connectivity it offers is critical to digital transformation. This is the path to unlocking new opportunities, enhancing education and driving economic growth.”

As part of rain’s 5G project Nokia will deploy its AirScale radio access network solution in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal as well as the Mangaung (Bloemfontein) regions. AirScale offers a new modular way of building radio access networks that deliver services with high capacity scaling and low latency. The company will also provide professional services for the deployment of the solution.

With existing access to 5G spectrum and the launch of the first 5G sites, rain is set to take the market by storm. “rain is proud to be on the forefront of 5G worldwide and working with Nokia and other partners to connect as many South African as possible with affordable high-speed broadband services.” says Willem Roos, CEO of rain.

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Africa Top10 News

1African Plant and Animal Species “Winners” in the New Red List

The latest assessments by the International Union for Conservation of Nature come as governments convene in Egypt for the Convention on Biological Diversity. Almost 100,000 plants and animals have now been evaluated for extinction threats and Africa has managed to turn the tide on key species.

SOURCES: BBC, Mail & Guardian 

2Diabetes is the Second most Common cause of Death in South Africa

November 14, is World Diabetes Day and the country is observing the day under the theme “The Family and Diabetes”. About 6% of the South African population – about 3.5million people – suffer from diabetes, and 5 million more are estimated to have pre-diabetes – when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered as diabetes. Most cases of pre-diabetes in South Africa are undiagnosed.


3Everyone Wants a Piece of the Djibouti Pie

In July, Djibouti started the first phase of a $3.5 billion free trade zone. China, the U.S. and France together with Japan and Saudi Arabia, have military bases in Djibouti, ostensibly for fighting near-endemic piracy. In the future, Djibouti could cater to the rising volume of exports from Ethiopia’s manufacturing zones. Djibouti could also beef up its role as a transshipment hub to terminals farther down the African coast, such as Dar es Salaam in Tanzania, Maputo in gas-rich Mozambique and Durban in South Africa.


4Zimbabwe’s Days of Hyperinflation Loom a Year after Mugabe’s Departure

Statistics agency Zimstat said the annual inflation rate shot up 20.85% in October from 5.39% in September after the dollar shortage led to a collapse in Zimbabwe’s parallel currency called the bond note, triggering sharp price hikes in many goods and services. This is the highest level since 2008.

SOURCES: Business Day Live

5More than Eighty Percent of Street Children in this Nigerian State are Accused of Witchcraft

In the Niger Delta, where an extreme form of Christianity has taken root and blended with indigenous beliefs, an alarming number of children have been accused of practising witchcraft with malicious intent. The accusations have created a generation of outcasts who live at the mercy of a system ill-equipped to protect them.

SOURCES: Al Jazeera

6Bamboo Enhances the Livelihoods of Ghana’s Artisans

Bamboo and rattan trees have been identified as important commodities in the country. The processing of this – from raw material to finishing — employs thousands of people across the country. But many of these local artisans use outdated technology, which results in lower quality designs and less durable products. And this subsequently results in lower income.

SOURCES: Africa.com

7Members of Tanzania’s LGBT Community are Fearing for their Lives

Activists say they are hiding in their homes and even fleeing the country after threats from a powerful politician to round up gay Tanzanians. The announcement from the regional governor of Tanzania’s largest city, Dar es Salaam, has also led to a new travel warning by the US State Department warning US citizens to remove any material on social media that could “run afoul” of Tanzania’s anti-homosexuality laws.


8Countering the Effects of Drought in Africa

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization warns that the effects of a possible drought predicted in the southern Africa region can be reduced if countries invest in irrigation. The prediction comes at a time when Zimbabwe’s farmers are appealing for assistance so they can move away from depending on rain-fed agriculture.


9SA President Irons out the Land Issue

The land reforms in South Africa will not violate the country’s constitution says President Cyril Ramaphosa. South Africa’s ruling African National Congress aims to change the constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation to address racial disparities in ownership that persist more than two decades after apartheid’s demise in 1994.


10Bleisure in Ghana

Traveling on business can be a big chore, especially if you are scrambling to get work done on a deadline. And it is at these times you need far more than just a good location and free coffee. Hotels in the capital, Accra give far beyond that and focus on meeting the needs of the most demanding business travellers.


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UN lifts nine-year Eritrea sanctions

The UN Security Council has unanimously agreed to lift sanctions against Eritrea after nine years.

An arms embargo, asset freeze, and travel ban were imposed in 2009 amid claims Eritrea supported al-Shabab militants in Somalia.

The resolution, drafted by the UK, was backed by the US and its Western allies.

The UN vote comes amid a thaw in relations between Eritrea and its neighbours following years of conflict.

Eritrea agreed a peace deal with Ethiopia in June, while the leader of Eritrea and the UN-backed government in Somalia have also met three times this year.

Why were sanctions imposed?

The resolution, backed by 13 votes in favour, was passed after the UN Security Council accused Eritrea of arming, training and equipping armed groups including al-Shabab.

The UN had frequently expressed concern about the flow of weapons into Somalia, where Islamist militants were battling government forces for control of the capital Mogadishu.

Eritrea has also been criticised for human rights abuses and mandatory national service conscription, which has led to tens of thousands of young Eritreans fleeing the country for Europe.

The asset freezes and travel ban affected individuals and businesses, as well as the Eritrean leadership.

However, the AFP news agency says that the UN monitors had said they had “not found conclusive evidence that Eritrea supports Al-Shabaab”.

What does Eritrea say?

The Eritrean government has always denied supporting al-Shabab militants, calling the claim a “fabrication” created by US intelligence officials. Ethiopia is a close ally of the US, especially in the fight against al-Shabab.

When they were imposed, Araya Desta, Eritrea’s ambassador to the UN, dismissed the sanctions as “ludicrous punitive measures”.

Eritrea occupies a strategic location on the Red Sea, which connects Europe, Africa and the East. However, its economy has suffered after years of sanctions.

The Eritrean government now says it wants compensation for the sanctions, which it insists were politically motivated.

How peace has broken out in the Horn of Africa

By Emmanuel Igunza, BBC News, Addis Ababa

Since the sanctions were imposed, Eritrea has lobbied and fought hard against them. But three times over that period, the UN Security Council has always voted to maintain them, claiming the country was a destabilising factor in the Horn of Africa region.

But all that seems to have changed after Eritrea signed a landmark agreement with Ethiopia in June, committing to end a bitter two-decade dispute.

Since then, diplomatic ties have resumed and both air and land transport between the two countries have re-opened.

The bromance between Ethiopian’s new reformist leader Abiy Ahmed and Eritrea’s President Isaias Aferweki seems to have rubbed on neighbouring leaders.

Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia have now signed a joint agreement of cooperation, and leaders of the three countries have met personally on three different occasions this year – something that hadn’t happened in years.

Relations between Eritrea and Djibouti are also thawing after years of a border dispute. There is now even an ambitious talk of the Horn of Africa countries forming an economic bloc of sorts.

Many analysts believe that there are still many issues like the border disputes to resolve before that can be achieved, but so far leaders of the region are daring to believe.

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New Report Shows Use Of Modern Contraception On The Rise In Nigeria

Over 2 million Unintended Pregnancies & 735,000 Unsafe Abortions Prevented Since July 2017

A groundbreaking international report released today shows over 1.7 million additional users of modern contraception in Nigeria since 2012, as the government works to expand family planning services. The report shows modern methods of contraception have prevented over 2 million unintended pregnancies and 735,000 unsafe abortions between July 2017 and July 2018.

Despite this progress, still only 13.8% of women aged 15-49 are using modern contraception in Nigeria, and one-in-four married women aged 15-49 have unmet need for modern contraception.

Beyond Nigeria, the report shows more women and girls than ever before are making the voluntary choice to use contraception in the world’s 69 lowest-income countries.

The report entitled FP2020: Catalyzing Collaboration has been produced by Family Planning 2020 (FP2020) – a global partnership that supports the rights of women and girls to freely decide whether, when, and how many children they want to have. The report for the first time ever includes new data on government spending on family planning in Nigeria. The report – available electronically [progress.familyplanning2020.org] shows:

In Nigeria

  • Domestic government spending on family planning of $8.5 million (2016) – compared to $19 million in Kenya and $8.1 million in Burkina Faso – see page 23 of report at above link.
  • In Nigeria, among women aged 15-49, an estimated 13.8% or 6.2 million are using a modern method of contraception in 2018. This is 1,713,000 more than in 2012.
  • The rate of modern contraceptive use among married women has increased to 12.2%.
  • As a result of modern contraceptive use between July 2017 and July 2018:
  • However, 24.8% of married women aged 15-49 have an unmet need for a modern method of contraception.


  • The number of women and girls using a modern method of contraception in the world’s 69 poorest countries had grown to more than 317 million, as of July 2018.
  • This is 46 million more users than in 2012 (the year FP2020 was launched) – an increase that is around 30% greater than the historic trend.
  • The use of modern contraceptives is growing the fastest in FP2020 countries in Africa: as of July 2018, 24% of women of reproductive age in these countries are using a modern method.

“Rights-based family planning is a catalyst that unlocks the potential of girls and women in Nigeria and around the world. Our goal is to ensure that each one is able to exercise her basic rights to self-determination, health, dignity, and equality. This is a core strategy for countries to improve the health and well-being of their citizens and economy. Today said Beth Schlachter, Executive Director of Family Planning 2020

“Women represent half the global population, and there can be no healthy population globally or in Nigeria without reproductive health care. As we continue to build the framework for Universal Health Coverage (UHC), we must ensure access to full, free, voluntary contraception is included for all women and girls. As countries build UHC strategies, rights-based family planning and SRHR services must be integrated within primary health care systems.” , she added.

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