Back in business: 'Largest' tea farm gets a new lease of life

Stretching over 1,800 hectares, it is said to be the largest operating tea farm in the southern hemisphere.

    One of the world’s biggest tea gardens, the Magwa farm in South Africa, has got a new lease of life.

    The farm was closed for years. But thanks to a government bailout, it’s now back in business, providing much-needed work in an area of high unemployment.

    Al Jazeera’s Fahmida Miller reports from Lusikisiki.

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    New Caledonia votes against independence from France

    PARIS (Reuters) – The South Pacific archipelago of New Caledonia voted against independence from France on Sunday in a long-awaited referendum that capped a 30-year long decolonization process.

    A “yes” vote would have deprived Paris of a foothold in the Indo-Pacific region where China is expanding its presence, and dented the pride of a former colonial power whose reach once spanned the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Ocean.

    Based on provisional results and with a participation rate of nearly 80 percent, the “No” vote stood at 56.9 percent around 1300 GMT, local TV station NC La 1ere reported on its website.

    “The New Caledonians have chosen to remain French…It is a vote of confidence in the French republic, its future and its values,” President Emmanuel Macron said in a speech on French television.

    The referendum was the first auto-determination vote to be held in a French territory since Djibouti in the Horn of Africa voted for independence in 1977.

    Voters in the largely self-governing territory had been asked the question, “Do you want New Caledonia to gain full sovereignty and become independent?”

    Macron said he understood the disappointment of those who wanted independence, but added that the French state would ensure liberty, equality and fraternity for everyone.

    “The only loser is the temptation of contempt, division, violence and fear; the only winner is the process of peace and the spirit of dialogue,” Macron said.

    Tensions have long run deep between pro-independence indigenous Kanaks and descendants of colonial settlers who remain loyal to Paris.

    ANOTHER REFERENDUM?

    Over the past decade, relations between the two groups have improved markedly, but the “no” vote outcome was well below some early polls, which could encourage nationalists to try for a new referendum in coming years.

    Some 175,000 out of the 280,000 people living on the archipelago were eligible to vote, with polls showing earlier in the week that the islands were expected to vote to remain a French territory.

    Posters calling for a “no” vote said that “France is the only chance” while proponents of independence called in their posters to vote for “a multicultural, in solidarity, peaceful nation”.

    During a visit to the archipelago in May, Macron acknowledged the “pains of colonization” and saluted the “dignified” campaign for autonomy led by the Kanaks. He and his administration sought to strike a neutral tone on the vote.

    New Caledonia’s economy is underpinned by French annual subsidies of some 1.3 billion euros ($1.48 billion), nickel deposits that are estimated to represent 25 percent of the world’s total, and tourism.

    It enjoys a large degree of autonomy but depends heavily on France for matters such as defense and education.

    First discovered by the British explorer James Cook, the New Caledonia archipelago lies more than 16,700 km (10,377 miles) from France. It became a French colony in 1853.

    Under colonial rule the Kanaks were confined to reserves and excluded from much of the island’s economy. The first revolt erupted in 1878, not long after the discovery of large nickel deposits that are today exploited by French miner Eramet’s subsidiary SLN.

    More than a century later, in the mid-1980s, fighting broke out between supporters of independence and those who wanted to remain French, amid festering anger over poverty and poor job opportunities.

    A 1988 massacre in a cave on the island of Ouvea left 19 indigenous separatists and two French soldiers dead and intensified talks on the island’s future. A 1998 deal provided for a referendum on independence to be held by the end of 2018.

    Under the terms of that deal, in the event of a no vote two further referenda can be held before 2022.

    ($1 = 0.8783 euros)

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    Sahle-Work Zewde Named Ethiopia's First Woman President

    A former top diplomat, Zewde appointed to the largely ceremonial role by the two houses of parliament.

    Ethiopia’s parliament has named Sahle-Work Zewde as the country’s first woman president.

    In a unanimous vote on Thursday during the second Special Joint Session of Ethiopia’s two houses of parliament – the House of Peoples’ Representatives and the House of the Federation – lawmakers picked the career diplomat for the largely ceremonial role.

    Prior to her appointment, Sahle-Work served as both the special representative of the United Nations’ secretary-general and the head of the UN office to the African Union.

    She will replace Mulatu Teshome who resigned in unclear circumstances and is expected to serve two six-year terms.

    “Mulatu has shown us the way for change and hope, he has shown life continues before and after leaving power. I call on other to heed his example and be ready for change,” Sahle-Work said in a speech in parliament on Thursday.

    According to Ethiopian law, the prime minister occupies the highest seat of power, but the position of president carries important symbolic weight and social influence.

    Sahle-Work will serve under Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who was elected in April and has unfurled a sweeping programme of reforms in the country.

    In mid-October, Abiy appointed a 20-person cabinet in which half the posts were assigned to women.

    They include Defence Minister Aisha Mohammed and Muferiat Kamil who leads the newly-created Ministry of Peace, responsible for police and domestic intelligence agencies.

    “If the current change in Ethiopia is headed equally by both men and women, it can sustain its momentum and realise a prosperous Ethiopia free of religious, ethnic and gender discrimination,” Sahle-Work said on Thursday.

    A voice for women

    During her diplomatic career, the 68-year-old was head of the UN office to Kenya and acted as Ethiopia’s ambassador to several countries including France, Djibouti and Senegal.

    Born in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, Sahle-Work studied in France and is fluent in English, French and Amharic – Ethiopia’s main language.

    In her first address to parliament, Sahle-Work stressed the importance of unity and promised to be a voice for women.

    “Government and opposition parties have to understand we are living in a common house and focus on things that unite us, not what divides us, to create a country and generation that will make all of us proud,” she said.

    “The absence of peace victimises firstly women, so during my tenure I will emphasise women’s roles in ensuring peace and the dividends of peace for women”.

    Sahle-Work’s appointment makes her Africa’s only serving female head of state.

    Aljazeera

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    African Union Makes Moves to Neutralise Africa’s Main Human Rights Body

    For many African activists based on the continent, getting to a major human rights summit just underway in The Gambia is likely to have been a challenging exercise. The journey by air from many African countries to the capital, Banjul, for the 63rd Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR), could have been prohibitively expensive, involved transiting through multiple cities and taken days.

    And if the African Union (AU) has its way, getting the host institution – Africa’s main human rights body – to respond to their grievances of rights violations, as it has done for years, is going to be equally challenging for them. Recent moves by the AU to curtail the Commission’s independence could ultimately leave African activists and citizens without a vital and often rare structure where human rights abuses committed against them are addressed.

    The ACHPR, whose sessions represent the largest gatherings of civil society in Africa, was established more than 30 years ago in Ethiopia by the AU’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). Its mandate was to protect and promote people’s and human rights throughout the continent, as well as its founding treaty, the African Charter.

    Over the years, the Commission has provided a precious space for civil society representatives from nations such as Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia – countries where the space for civil society has been closed – to air human rights grievances and see action taken. Indeed, for activists from a country like Eritrea, in which no independent human rights groups are allowed to operate, this body provides presents a unique platform to let the world know about the abuses Eritreans face and to call for solidarity and action, backed by the Commission. Today, the independence that enabled the ACHPR to pass binding resolutions on rights violations is being consistently eroded by the AU.

    Evidence of this can be seen in a recent AU Executive Council decision that the Commission has a “functional nature” and is not independent from the structures that created it. The statement goes further to caution the Commission against acting as an “appellate body” that undermines national legal systems. The Commission, however, was created by and gets its authority from the African Charter and the fact that its commissioners serve in their individual capacity and not as country representatives suggests the objective of the Commission to carry out independent investigations into human rights violations independent of states.

    While the AU has remained silent on countless instances of governments’ gross violations of people’s rights, the African Commission has spoken out publicly in its capacity as a quasi-judicial body, condemning these abuses and calling on states to address them.

    Another AU Executive Council decision instructed the ACHPR to withdraw its accreditation of the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) by the end of the year – a move that would deny this prominent LGBTI rights group access to the Commission. This resolution clearly undermines the Commission’s independence and could set a precedent for excluding other organisations during crucial human rights work.

    The Commission has made some significant judgements such as one passed last year in a case brought by the indigenous Endorois community in Kenya against the Kenyan government. The ACHPR ruled that the government had violated provisions of the African Charter and that it recognise the community’s right of ownership of their land and restitute it. In another landmark case a few months later, the Commission ruled that the DRC pay US $2.5million to the victims and families of those massacred in the southeastern town of Kilwa in 2004. While these judgments are not enforceable, they represent big wins for civil society and communities that are often disappointed by national judicial processes.

    The threats to the ACHPR’s independence resonate with a worrying trend on the continent where states work to erode the powers of regional and international human rights mechanisms, leaving citizens vulnerable to abuses with no recourse to justice. In 2016, Burundi, The Gambia and South Africa notified the International Criminal Court (ICC) of their intention to withdraw from the body and the Rome Statute. Other countries such as Kenya and Uganda have at threatened to also leave, citing a bias by the court against African leaders.

    The AU also called for a mass pull out of African states and discussed the idea of a collective withdrawal by the continental body. Of the three countries that notified the ICC of their intention to leave, Burundi became was the first and only country to do so, a year ago. Many African states contested the AU’s proposed “withdrawal strategy” while Gambia re-joined the court after a change of government. South Africa put its pull-out plans “on hold” after a South African High Court ruled that a notice of withdrawal without parliament’s approval was unconstitutional.

    We saw the trend of states undermining judicial bodies emerge again when, in 2011, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) resolved to suspend all operations of one of its key institutions, the SADC Tribunal. SADC heads of state followed this up three years later with the adoption of a protocol limiting the Tribunal’s jurisdiction to inter-state disputes. This decision dealt a major blow to states’ accountability, particularly since the independence of the judiciary in most African countries is compromised and courts are controlled by the executive, leaving citizens with no recourse to seek justice for violations, especially when states are the main perpetrators.

    The campaign by African states to undermine key regional and international human rights mechanisms have been in response to attempts by these structures to hold them and their leaders accountable. The ACHPR requires individuals and organisations to bring cases before it after exhausting all national legal avenues. Other regional human rights systems are either inaccessible, inefficient or compromised. As the judiciary in many African countries increasingly succumb to pressure from the executive, national courts fail citizens miserably leaving them with no choice but to approach take the African Commission.

    The AU’s curtailing of the Commission’s independence, SADC’s the suspension of its Tribunal and African states’ rejection of the Rome Statute and the ICC all contribute to an environment in which citizens are left vulnerable to human rights violations and crimes against humanity, and victims and survivors are denied access to justice.

    If African leaders succeed in stripping the ACHPR of its independence and authority, African people will effectively lose yet another valuable institution to the rising tide of repressive and restrictive governance, keeping many vulnerable to a cycle of human rights violations, with no recourse for justice or even a hearing.

    By David Kode

    David Kode is the Advocacy and Campaigns lead with global civil society alliance, CIVICUS.

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    Africa Top10 News

    1Salvaging Central African Republic’s Image

    For almost six years of civil war, the Central African Republic’s military has struggled to restore peace. Fighting with rebels and militias has displaced hundreds of thousands of people, while accusations of human rights abuses and ethnic bias have left some civilians in fear of their protectors. The CAR minister of defense, Marie-Noëlle Koyara, hopes to change course. She’s leading efforts to rebuild the military’s reputation and restore the country’s security.

    SOURCES: VOA

    2Zambia has Great Potential to be the Breadbasket of Southern Africa

    During the extreme El Niño drought of 2015-2016, Zambia successfully yielded a food surplus and exported vital produce to neighbouring countries in need. Prolonged dry spells between November 2017 and January 2018 mean this year’s maize crop will be less, but despite this the carryover stock of maize totals 844,200 tons, leaving an exportable surplus of 341,300 tons.

    SOURCES: Africa.com

    3How a Household or Company in Africa Manages and Keeps Track of its Energy Use

    Figures from ABI Research support the view that Africa is beginning to leap onto the smart metering bandwagon. Figures show that smart meter shipments to the Africa/ Middle East region are predicted to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 36.6 percent between 2011 and 2022. Revenues of companies involved in smart metering are set to grow by an equivalent 35.4 percent over the same period.

    SOURCES: Ventures Africa

    4Lies about Uganda’s Refugee Programme

    A Ugandan government investigation into alleged fraud over refugee numbers has confirmed that previous figures were exaggerated by 300,000. An official inquiry, conducted since March by the office of the prime minister and the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, found that Uganda hosts 1.1 million refugees rather than 1.4 million. The investigation followed allegations that senior officials had inflated figures and mismanaged the funds meant to support them.

    SOURCES: The Guardian

    5Flights from Africa to Across the Globe are Expanding

    Passengers on Kenya Airways’ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner took a historic 15-hour flight from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to New York. The new route aims to keep the national carrier competitive against a number of African airlines that already provide direct flights to the US from the continent including Egypt Air and South African Airways. The move is part of wider expansion plans by African airlines. Ethiopian Airlines launched new routes from Addis Ababa to Jakarta, Indonesia, Geneva, Switzerland, and Chicago this year, while Air Tanzania also announced new direct flights to Uganda and Burundi.

    SOURCES: CNN

    6Mo Ibrahim Talks Some Hard-hitting Issues

    Sudanese billionaire Mo Ibrahim says governments, civil society, and media all need to have “a frank and open discussion” about population growth if they are to handle the issue well. That shouldn’t involve, he says, “imposing a one-child policy or by sterilization”—controversial plans that have been used previously to limit growth. If done right, that would involve empowering mothers and families to understand their right to choose when to have babies and how many, and ensuring prosperity for all.

    SOURCES: Quartz Africa

    7The Double Trauma that Widows in Zimbabwe Face

    Throughout rural areas, widows routinely find themselves harassed and exploited by in-laws claiming the property their husbands left behind, rights activists say. O’bren Nhachi, an activist and researcher focusing on natural resources and governance, said the problem has gotten worse in Chimanimani over the past few years, as the gold rush has pushed up the value of land.

    SOURCES: VOA

    8South Sudan Leader’s Homecoming

    South Sudan rebel leader Riek Machar returned to the capital Juba for the first time in more than two years on Wednesday for a ceremony to welcome the latest peace accord for the war-ravaged country.

    SOURCES: Business Day Live

    9Could the First Somali-American Win a Seat in US Congress?

    Omar, a 36-year-old naturalized American citizen, said she is running for office to make sure fewer people have to struggle with the daily necessities of life, something she was shocked to find when she arrived in the United States as a refugee with her family at age 12.

    SOURCES: Reuters

    10Seeing Double in this Nigerian Town

    The Oyo State town has one of the highest birth rates of twins in the world. BBC Africa ‘What’s New’ asked some twins what they love about having a womb-mate.

    SOURCES: BBC

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    Q&A: Honouring Women of Africa and the Diaspora

    This year, the African Union and the Diaspora African forum are honouring the first woman minister for education in Kenya for her long and outstanding work in girls’ education and governance.

    The annual African Women of Excellence Awards (AWEA) recognises and honours women of Africa and the diaspora who have contributed to the struggle for political, social and economic independence.

    This year’s theme pays tribute to the first iconic recipient of the AWEA Committee’s Living Legends Award Winnie Madikizela Mandela.

    Receiving the honour during a celebration in Sept. 29 to 30 will be Ambassador Amina Mohamed, an international civil servant and the current Kenyan minister for education, science, technology and innovation.

    Previously, Mohamed served as the minister for foreign affairs and international trade, deputy executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme and permanent secretary in the ministry of justice, national cohesion and constitutional affairs where she played a key role in creating the 2010 Constitution in Kenya.

    Most recently, she has worked tirelessly in the arenas of women’s empowerment and girls’ education in Kenya and around the world, especially as co-chair of the Commonwealth High Level Platform for Girls’ Education which works to put 130 million out of school girls back in the classroom.

    IPS spoke to Ambassador Mohamed about her inspirations, career, and ongoing challenges in education. Excerpts of the interview follow:

    Inter Press Service (IPS): What does it mean for you to be receiving the African Woman of Excellence award? How does this award advance the key issues you work on?

    Amina Mohamed (AM): The AWEA is a great honour which I accept with humility and gratitude; and which I share with my family, colleagues and friends who have encouraged me all along.

    The award is recognition that I have made a demonstrable contribution towards the progress of my country and in enriching the lives of our people. It is a very important award that will no doubt inspire other women in the country, and especially young girls, to develop confidence in themselves and in their ability to make positive and tangible impact in their communities and nations.

    The award reinforces my commitment to bequeath the youth a legacy greater than my heritage. I feel re-energised and challenged to keep doing more.

    IPS: You have a long and distinguished career as a diplomat and international civil servant. What drove you where you are today?

    AM: I have always believed that the script of your life is yours to write.

    I grew up in a society where existing norms defined a lesser role and position for womena notion I was uncomfortable with from an early age having been brought up by a strong mother. I therefore made a conscious and deliberate decision to cultivate my own success in the knowledge that great careers are not hereditary; they must be seeded, grown and nurtured.

    My humble upbringing reinforced my commitment to serve others and to emphasise with different situations in the knowledge that every challenge has a solution and everyone has the capacity to live a dignified life and to make a contribution.

    At every stage in my professional journey, I have learned to embrace those virtues that define successful careers particularly those moral and civic values that are needed to not only make us better people but to also make our country a better place in which to live for all.

    IPS: Would you say that the millions of girls who don’t go to school is a global crisis? What have been some of the challenges you have faced or seen working towards girls’ access to education, and what has Kenya done differently to address this issue?

    AM: It certainly is a global crisis. The Global Education Monitoring Report, 2018 indicates that only 66 percent of countries have achieved gender parity in primary education, 45 percent in lower secondary and only 25 percent in upper secondary. Other statistics are more frighteningUNESCO [U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation] estimates that 130 million girls aged between six and 17 are out of school. An additional five million girls of primary-school age will never enter a classroom.

    What this means is that millions of girls are being denied a fair and just chance in life. Without education, girls are exposed to serious insecurities and dangers, including early marriage, sexual exploitation, diseases, poverty and servitude. This crisis goes beyond the unfulfilled lives of girls who miss out on education and involves serious loss of economic benefits and opportunities.

    Among the critical challenges that impede girls’ education are poverty, conflict and violence, early marriages, harmful traditional practices, long distances to school, and inadequate menstrual hygiene.

    In Kenya, we have been implementing wide ranging measures to address these challenges including readmission of girls who get pregnant while in school; outlawing FGM [Female Genital Mutilation] and introducing rescue centres for girls running away from FGM or early marriages; provision of sanitary towels to girls in public primary schools; and introduction of free primary and day secondary education, which has ensured that no child, boy or girl, misses out on education needlessly.

    As a global crisis, concerted global action is required to ensure all girls access education. Multi-sectoral approaches and the sharing of best practices in a collaborative effort involving governments, civil society organisations, multilateral organisations and the private sector holds the key to addressing this crisis.

    IPS: Conflict has proliferated in many parts of the world, making education even more inaccessible for many children. How should the international community address the issue of education for refugee or displaced children?

    AM: Emergencies and protracted conflicts ruin the education systems of affected countries. Girls fail to acquire an education because of violence, which includes kidnapping, maiming as well as sexual abuse, exploitation and bullying. Statistics indicate that less than five percent of girls in rural-conflict settings in Africa complete secondary education.

    Humanitarian aid for education is acknowledged as a way forward in ensuring provision of education for refugee and displaced children.

    Despite this recognition, humanitarian aid for education remains very lowcatering, by 2015 estimates, for only two percent of requirements. To overcome this challenge, a possible way forward is for humanitarian agencies and development actors to come together and set up a specialised funding stream that meets the other 98 percent of the requirements for education in conflict situations.

    IPS: Recently the ministry of education launched a policy on disaster management in response to the impacts of heavy rains on schools and the education sector. How important is it to have such a policy, especially as extreme weather and disasters become more prevalent? Is this a move that other countries should consider?

    AM: We have experienced many disasters in Kenya, including droughts, floods, fires, and even conflicts. These have routinely disrupted learning and damaged education infrastructure in affected areas.

    While efforts to address climate change gets underway, it is clear now that extreme weather events are getting more frequent and intense. There is every indication, therefore, that we will experience severe flooding, landslides and droughts into the future.

    We must therefore prepare for these eventualities so that we do not experience the same disruptions and losses in the education sector that we have undergone in the past. This underscores the need for comprehensive disaster risk reduction and management policies. The launch of this policy was in fact long overdue.

    In the modern world, preparedness or risk reduction is a necessity not a choice. Countries that fail to plan will bear the heaviest burden as the effects of climate change intensify.

    IPS: What is your message to Kenyans in light of this award?

    AM: The well-being of our country, now and in the future, lies in our hands. Building a country is a collective responsibility and exercise in which each one of us has a role to play and a contribution to make. In making our contribution, in whatever capacity, we must embrace the virtues of hard work, careful reflection, patriotism, honesty, accountability, justice and fairness and the pursuit of public good. I believe that my adherence to these virtues have inspired this award.

    In so doing, I recall the words of the late Nobel Laureate Professor Wangari Mathai that: “Every one of us can make a contribution. And quite often we are looking for the big things and forget that, wherever we are, we can make a contribution. Sometimes I tell myself, I may only be planting a tree here, but just imagine what’s happening if there are billions of people out there doing something. Just imagine the power of what we can do.”

    By Tharanga Yakupitiyage at IPS Inter Press Service News Agency

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    Africa Top10 News

    1The 2018 Africa Report on Child Wellbeing

    The Chair of the international board of trustees of the African Child Policy Forum (ACPF), which will publish the 2018 Africa Report on Child Wellbeing, Graça Machel has expressed concern that a “toxic combination” of undernutrition, poor education and the world’s fastest-growing youth populations pose a threat to the continent’s future. The report, which ranks 52 nations on how they are meeting child rights under international conventions, warns that massive investment is needed to prevent a billion children and young people from becoming undernourished, semi-illiterate or illiterate, and jobless or underemployed by 2050.

    SOURCES: The Guardian

    2One of the Most Prominent Dissidents of President John Magufuli’s Regime

    Joseph Mbilinyi — aka Sugu (stubborn), II Proud or simply Mr. II — is a legendary Tanzanian musician and businessman. A pioneer of “Bongo Flava,” a music genre heavily influenced by U.S. hip-hop, he has released more than 20 albums and clinched numerous awards. His songs not only get the crowd moving, but they provoke political discussion on human-rights issues and social justice.

    SOURCES: Ozy

    3How to have Better Roads in African Countries

    New roads in Ethiopia and across sub-Saharan Africa often change the landscape, bringing dust, flooding and erosion. The impact is felt most by rural communities. Under a project rolled out in Ethiopia as well as nine other countries including Bangladesh, roads are being built using innovative designs and drainage structures to collect water caused by flooding. This has solved an infrastructural issue while conserving water that can be used for crops and to feed livestock.

    SOURCES: Quartz Africa

    4The Life of a Typical African Investigative Journalist

    In recent years, intrepid African reporters have played a key role in uncovering corruption, human rights abuses, gang violence, drug and wildlife crimes, and other unsavory dealings, sometimes paying with their lives. Reporters without Borders, says Somalia is the deadliest country for reporters in sub-Saharan Africa. In Tanzania, the Committee to Protect Journalists says the government has in the last three years implemented harsh legislation and harassed journalists and bloggers.

    SOURCES: VOA

    5Sierra Leone’s Navy Battles a Multimillion-dollar Problem

    The sea off the coast of West Africa is rich in marine life. But illegal fishing has been threatening stocks and is costing Sierra Leone about $200m a year. Local fishermen say their nets are being destroyed and their catch is dwindling every day.

    SOURCES: Al Jazeera

    6Electricity Boost for Mali as New Power Station Opens

    The plant is expected to increase Mali’s effective base load electricity capacity by 25%, providing up to 4.5 million people with improved access to power and paving the way for new renewable energy facilities.

    SOURCES: Africa.com

    7#Totashutdown Movement Addresses South Africa’s Patriarchal System

    Government, civil society and activists gathered for the Gender-Based Violence and Femicide Summit. South Africa has been rocked by sexual attacks and the deaths of women and children in recent months. Since the National Prosecuting Authority decided to record the stats of femicide last year in the 2017/18 financial year, a total of 79 femicide convictions were made, representing a conviction rate of 98.8%, with only one acquittal.

    SOURCES: Daily Maverick

    8Ethiopia’s Lady Justice

    Prominent Ethiopian human rights lawyer Meaza Ashenafi has been elected as the first woman to head the country’s federal Supreme Court. Her name was put forward by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and MPs unanimously approved the appointment. Ms Meaza founded the Ethiopian Women’s Lawyers Association in 1995. Before that she was a judge at the high court and helped advise the team drawing up the new constitution in the early 1990s.

    SOURCES: Washington Post

    9Zambia’s Prized Gem

    The world’s largest producer of green stones has unearthed a 5,655-carat emerald crystal at its mines in Zambia. The stone, which weighs more than 1.1 kg, was found at the Gemfield mines in Kagem. The emerald is being called “Inkalamu,” which means “lion” in the local Zambia Bemba language.

    SOURCES: CNN

    10An Overland Tour from Cairo to Cape Town

    The adventure of a lifetime, there are now plenty of overland outfitters to choose from ranging from small outfits that will take you and a few friends or enormous trucks that can carry groups of two dozen or more.

    SOURCES: AFK Travel

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    FIFA Chief Heading For Trouble Over Pet Projects

    FIFA President Gianni Infantino is set to ignite new opposition on Friday over his ambition to introduce two money-spinning pet projects – a revamped global club cup and a bold new international championship.

    Infantino’s Saudi-backed plans, which have already been harshly criticised, are on the agenda of Friday’s meeting of FIFA’s ruling council.

    It is unclear whether the council’s 37 members will vote on the projects, giving world football’s governing body authorisation to implement them.

    But opponents are already sharpening the knives, deploring the proposed introduction of new competitions in an overcrowded football calendar while also targeting Infantino himself, accused of seeking to win votes ahead of his re-election bid in June next year.

    The World Leagues Forum, which groups professional football leagues, has expressed its strong opposition to the proposed Club World Cup format and the Global Nations League in the past.

    This week the influential body addressed a letter to Infantino signed by English FA chief Richard Scudamore and his Bundesliga counterpart Christian Seifert among others demanding that no decision be taken in Kigali. It also lamented the lack of any consultation between FIFA and the leagues.

    Forum members apparently accuse Infantino of going behind their backs directly to a few top clubs to discuss the plans for the club competition while the European Clubs Association issued an appeal to FIFA several months ago, apparently unheeded, for talks.

    UEFA boss Aleksander Ceferin has complained of FIFA’s “strange” behaviour while UEFA, speaking via the powerful Professional Football Strategic Council (PFSC), issued a statement expressing concern about the whole process.

    It said the PFSC “unanimously expressed serious reservations about the process surrounding the FIFA Club World Cup and Global Nations League proposals and in particular the hasty timing and lack of concrete information”.

    The 17-member PFSC is led by Ceferin and includes Nasser Al-Khelaifi, president of Paris Saint-Germain, and Ed Woodward, vice-chairman of Manchester United, two clubs who attended a meeting at which Infantino presented his plans to Europe’s biggest clubs.

    Ill feeling has reached a point where UEFA delegates may even stage a walkout if their views go unheeded at Friday’s Council meeting, according to the New York Times this week.

    Infantino is pushing to revamp the Club World Cup, boosting it from seven clubs to 24 in a four-year format, 12 of them European. Currently, the competition which elicits little interest outside of Latin America is played every year.

    His other project is to launch a biennial league tournament for nations, the Global Nations League, a sort of mini-World Cup with eight national teams competing.

    Infantino says he has an offer of $25 billion over 12 years for the two competitions from a group of investors, which the Financial Times has identified as SoftBank from Japan, backed by Saudi Arabia among others.

    That money, he promises, will be redistributed to clubs and continental football federations.

    Football historian Paul Dietschy told AFP the new club competition was clearly an attempt to pull the rug from under UEFA’s highly lucrative Champions League.

    “The Champions League will survive,” he said, but FIFA “will snatch away some of its income.”

    Source – News24

    Source: Read Full Article

    Africa Top10 Business News

    1Grounding One of Africa’s Biggest Airlines

    South Africa Airways (SAA) has lost money every year since 2011, and survives with government support. “It’s loss-making, we are unlikely to sort out the situation, so my view would be close it down,” said the country’s new finance minister at an investor conference in the US.

    SOURCES: BBC, BusinessTech

    2Sudan’s Political Blunders Hit the Pocket

    Sudan has been short of hard currency for years due to sanctions and embargoes. The crisis led to Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir dissolving the government. After dollar rates on Sudan’s parallel forex market began to rise rapidly in 2010, the Central Bank of Sudan (CBoS) announced that the lack of hard currency, required for importing basic commodities such as wheat or medicines, was becoming acute.

    SOURCES: African Business Magazine

    3Africa at the G20

    Working with the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the African Development Bank, the G20 hopes to create in African countries the conditions needed to attract private investment, including economic stability, anti-corruption systems and financing. The goal of the program is to bring together “reform-minded” African governments to coordinate country-specific plans in a continent that Merkel said has been too frequently overlooked.

    SOURCES: Washington Post

    4Electricity Boost for Mali as New Power Station Opens

    The plant is expected to increase Mali’s effective base load electricity capacity by 25%, providing up to 4.5 million people with improved access to power and paving the way for new renewable energy facilities.

    SOURCES: Africa.com

    5South African Entrepreneur’s Solution for a Grave Concern

    The lack of burial spaces is leading entrepreneurs to come up with out-of-the-box alternatives such as bio-burials, virtual graves and space disposal. A South African startup, Biotree.earth, produces biodegradable urns made out of natural plant fibers and materials that aid in fertilizing soil and neutralizing the pH levels of ashes.

    SOURCES: Forbes Africa

    6The Future of Nigeria’s Oil Industry

    By early next year, the largest offshore production vessel ever delivered to Nigeria will start pumping crude from a deposit deep beneath the seabed, boosting the West African country’s oil output by about 10 percent. The project, viewed as the most ambitious in Nigeria’s history, could help to push production to a record by 2022.

    SOURCES: Bloomberg

    7Green Energy: a Relatively New Market in Somalia

    With a company backed by his own funds, Guled Wiliq along with friends and family has brought electricity to 1,000 people so far, through installing 70 kilowatts of solar panels. Digital technologies frequently collide with rural realities. Most of Wiliq’s customers pay in installments, as they can’t afford solar panels outright. Sometimes he has to take a mix of money and goats to get a deal done; given the high upfront costs, Wiliq’s solar home system has just six customers. Power OffGrid recently acquired a smaller solar company, Wiliq says, with $60,000 in sales.

    SOURCES: Ozy

    8African Island Launches Novel Financing Instrument

    The Republic of Seychelles has launched the world’s first sovereign blue bond — a financial instrument designed to support sustainable marine and fisheries projects. Proceeds from the bond will support the expansion of marine protected areas‚ improved governance of priority fisheries and the development of the Seychelles’ blue economy.

    SOURCES: Business Day Live

    9Building Better Roads in African Countries

    New roads in Ethiopia and across sub-Saharan Africa often change the landscape, bringing dust, flooding and erosion. The impact is felt most by rural communities. Under a project rolled out in Ethiopia as well as nine other countries including Bangladesh, roads are being built using innovative designs and drainage structures to collect water caused by flooding. This has solved an infrastructural issue while conserving water that can be used for crops and to feed livestock.

    SOURCES: Quartz Africa

    10Flights from Africa to Across the Globe are Expanding

    Passengers on Kenya Airways’ Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner took a historic 15-hour flight from Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to New York. The new route aims to keep the national carrier competitive against a number of African airlines that already provide direct flights to the US from the continent including Egypt Air and South African Airways. The move is part of wider expansion plans by African airlines. Ethiopian Airlines launched new routes from Addis Ababa to Jakarta, Indonesia, Geneva, Switzerland, and Chicago this year, while Air Tanzania also announced new direct flights to Uganda and Burundi.

    SOURCES: CNN

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    Quinn execs advised not to park outside homes following third arson attack in two months

    Directors and executives of Quinn Industrial Holdings have been advised by gardai not to park their cars in front of their homes, after the third arson attack in two months at the homes of key figures in the company.

    John McCartin, a Fine Gael councillor and QIH board member, was told by gardai last week not to park his car in his driveway or in front of the porch in case it might be torched by the mystery arsonist behind the latest spate of attacks.

    The advice was issued following the latest attack which occurred last Tuesday night outside the home of Tony Lunney, a senior manager at Quinn Industrial Holdings.

    However, management are understood to be increasingly frustrated at the progress of the Garda investigations into what is believed to be a sustained and escalating campaign of violence and intimidation against the business and its senior managers.

    CEO Liam McCaffrey said last week that it was “enormously frustrating that, following years of intimidation and threats and a substantial escalation of violence over recent months, not a single arrest has been made”.

    The Sunday Independent has learned that gardai were on patrol in Ballyconnell at the time of the arson attack, monitoring the Quinn Industrial Holdings plant and other local sites linked to the company. While they were patrolling the area, a man was captured on CCTV setting fire to a car parked in the drive of the house in Ballyconnell. The intensity of the blaze caused some of the windows to blow out and heat damage to the property.

    Gardai arrived at Tony Lunney’s home three minutes after the alarm was raised and just minutes after the arsonist made his escape.

    The arson attack was the third in recent months. On October 2, the home of Dara O’Reilly, the chief financial officer of QIH, was targeted. His BMW parked outside his home in Butlersbridge was firebombed shortly after 11pm, again generating so much heat that some windows in the house shattered. Mr O’Reilly was at home with his wife and children at the time.

    On August 31, a tyre factory in Belturbet, owned by Mr Lunney, was set alight in a suspected arson attack, causing extensive damage inside the building.

    The criticism of the Garda investigation has raised concerns among senior gardai. Sources said that although there is local speculation, detectives have been unable to get enough evidence to link anyone to the arson attacks. Although suspects have been identified, gardai have been unable to advance the case. Gardai have sent investigation files on several suspects to the Director of Public Prosecutions, who in each case directed no prosecution.

    “When gardai go to talk to people, they are getting soft intelligence. The CCTV is not good enough quality and does not reach the evidential threshold,” said an informed source. He said the Border with Northern Ireland was also an “issue” in the investigation, because suspects had been identified on either side.

    A campaign of physical intimidation, online harassment and vilification, and criminal damage began when businessman Sean Quinn, who founded the global cement and glass business in Cavan, lost it all over debts of €2bn to the former Anglo Irish Bank.

    There have been more than 90 attacks on the Quinn businesses and related companies since the group was placed in the hands of receivers in 2011.

    There was a lull in the attacks after a group of local businessmen and some of Sean Quinn’s executive team secured US investment to buy back the business from receivers in 2014 and hired Sean Quinn as a consultant. Mr Quinn and the QIH parted company last year.

    Mr Quinn has publicly and repeatedly condemned the attacks, and said they are not carried out in his name.

    However, the attacks have escalated in recent months. Quinn Industrial Holdings has warned that the attacks will result in injuries or death and called on anyone with influence or knowledge of the criminal actions to speak out.

    In a circular to staff last month, the group’s chairman warned of a “resumption of false allegations and intimidation against QIH, its owners, officers and staff”.

    The company said it was also preparing legal action against people who had criticised the company and the executives online.

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