The introduction of the International Crimes Bill before the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services, two weeks ago, signals steadfast resolve to eventually withdraw from the Rome Statute. Is South Africa dismantling its own international criminal justice framework for one man who they will, despite withdrawal, still be legally obligated to arrest and surrender for as long as he remains wanted by the International Criminal Court?
Impetus and momentum for withdrawal was generated by President Omar al-Bashir's 2015 visit and the subsequent fallout from South Africa's failure to arrest him. South Africa finds itself in this quandary because of Bashir.
Just over a year after President Bashir's Sudan 01 plane took off from the Waterkloof Air Force Base, Minister of Justice and Correctional Services Michael Masutha announced South Africa's intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute.
The Notice of Withdrawal was sent to the UN secretary-general on 19 October 2016. Subsequent litigation resulted in the revocation of the Notice of Withdrawal due to the government's failure to firstly withdraw the Implementation of the Rome Statute Act (ICC Act) before submitting its notice of withdrawal....
Mo Ibrahim Foundation logo (file photo).
London — The Mo Ibrahim Foundation is proud to announce the 2018 intake of selected Ibrahim Leadership Fellows, who will make up the programme’s sixth cohort. The incoming Fellows are Valeria Bempomaah Mensah (Ghana) who will join the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Zukiswa Mqolomba (South Africa) who will join the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Ines Ayari (Tunisia) who will join the International Trade Centre (ITC).
The Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships Programme is a selective programme designed to identify and prepare the next generation of outstanding African leaders by providing them mentoring opportunities in key multilateral institutions. The candidates, chosen from a pool of over 2000 applicants, will benefit from the direct mentorship of the current heads of the institutions.
Commenting on the new Ibrahim Leadership Fellows, Mo Ibrahim said:
“The next generation of African leaders are in the making. In the coming year, through learning and experiencing, while based in the executive offices of these multinational organisations, the Fellows will enhance their leadership capabilities. I would like to congratulate our three new Ibrahim Leadership Fellows. They join a cohort of visionary and strategic Fellows who share our commitment to strengthening governance and leadership in order to improve the lives of African citizens.”
The 2018 Ibrahim Fellows:
Valeria Bempomaah Mensah has joined UNECA. She is an international development professional with extensive experience in macroeconomic and policy analysis, capacity development and programme management. She has successfully managed the EU’s budget support programme to the Government of Ghana. Additionally, she has worked with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as an Economist in its Regional Technical Assistance Center, which provides macroeconomic capacity building to Anglophone West Africa and Cabo Verde.
Zukiswa Mqolomba will join AfDB. She is a senior researcher, senior policy analyst and scholar activist with extensive experience in research, policy development and policy analysis on economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation. She has worked with the Department of Social Development in South Africa. Additionally, she has previously worked as an Extended Term Consultant (ETC) for the World Bank in Washington D.C.
Ines Ayari has joined ITC. She is a policy advisor with a focus on gender and development with extensive partnership development experience; she has established strong linkages with, and liaised between, governments, international organisations, research institutions, local businesses and civil society, by organising networks in the Middle East, Africa, South America, South Asia and Europe. She has worked with organisations such as the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Economic Forum (WEF) and various NGOs.
The application process for the 2019 Ibrahim Fellowships Programme will open on 13 August 2018.
For more information on the Ibrahim Leadership Fellowships, or to learn more about what the previous Fellows have progressed to become, since their completion of the programme, visit our website: mo.ibrahim.foundation/fellowships/
Policy makers are calling for a new approach to the migrant and refugee crisis, after 68.5 million people were displaced last year according to a new report by the UN refugee agency. The new displaced came mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan.
The report, that coincides with World Refugee Day, illustrates the challenges facing migration.
Ongoing crises in South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo contributed in raising the overall figure of those forcibly displaced in 2017 to 68.5 million.
Eighty per cent of refugees are in developing countries, according to the UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.
"The new displaced came mainly from the DRC," UNHCR spokesperson Celine Schmitt told RFI, saying that many Congolese refugees either fled to neighbouring countries or are displaced at home. "They're nearly 5 million in the DRC," she said.
Refugees who fled their countries to escape conflict and persecution accounted for 25.4 million of the 68.5 million, 2.9 million more than in 2016.
"There are definitely very big challenges with migration, and we don't want to underestimate them," Claudia Roethlisberger, an Economics Officer with UNCTAD, the main U.N. body dealing with trade, told RFI.
"But we want to show that there is a different perspective on migration, by highlighting the economic contribution migrants can make inside Africa," she said.
Roethlisberger uses the example of Côte d'Ivoire and Rwanda, where migrants contributed 19 and 13 percent respectively to their countries' GDP.
Changing the narrative
A very different image to the one of African youth drowning in the Mediterranean, lured by the hope of jobs abroad, seemingly suggesting there are no opportunities in Africa.
Wrong, argues Malebogo Bowe, a liaison officer for UNESCO to the African Union.
"We haven't really explored what opportunities there are for us," she told RFI."
"In fact, there's this illusion that if you move to Europe, there are greener pastures there. While in fact the first day when you arrive in France, you don't speak French, just greeting people, or asking for one euro in French, is a challenge," she said.
Intra-African migration might reduce the number of dangerous journeys to Europe, but will African countries fair better than their European counterparts in sharing the burden of migrant arrivals?
Right now, "international responsibility-sharing for displaced people has utterly collapsed," reckons Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council Jan Egeland. In a statement on Tuesday, he said lack of responsibility sharing had led to the rescue vessel Aquarius being stranded in the Mediterranean with 629 refugees and migrants on board after being denied entry to Italian ports.
On the African continent, Engeland added that countries like Uganda had been left alone to provide emergency support to the large number of refugees from South Sudan and DR Congo.
Burden-sharing and visa-free travel
"It's now time and it's urgent to have a global solution based on responsibility-sharing," insists UNHCR spokesperson Celine Schmitt.
She calls for assistance for other host countries such as Niger, where UNCHR commissioner, Filippo Grandi, was due to head Tuesday after visiting a refugee camp in Libya.
"Niger has been very generous first of all in hosting refugees from neighbouring countries, but also in working with us to open a humanitarian transit centre," she told RFI.
"This is extremely important, and Niger now needs as well some help from other countries, who resettle the refugees who are evacuated from Libya," she said.
Long, a favoured transit route for migrants wanting to cross into Europe, Libya has faced accusations of human rights abuses including auctioning migrants off as slaves.
Despite the challenges of migration, Malebogo Bowe, a liaison officer for UNESCO to the African Union, says "it can't be prevented."
"In the ECOWAS region they've opened their borders, where someone from Ghana is free to go to Nigeria to look for opportunities," she says.
"Imagine a situation where Africans don't need a visa within Africa and to trade within ourselves," she says referring to a new treaty signed by 27 countries allowing for visa free travel.
"It's one of the breakthroughs that if it happens for Africa, the migration we talk of in the Mediterranean, would probably reduce," she said.
The authorities of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife has dismissed Professor Richard I. Akindele of the Department of Accounting, Faculty of Administration from the service of the institution for indulging in gross misconduct bothering on sexual harassment of female students.
Akindele, a senior lecturer was dismissed after he was found liable to all the allegations of sexually harassing his student among others, Miss Monica Osagie.
Addressing journalists at the institution yesterday, the Vice Chancellor, Professor Eyitope Ogunbodede disclosed that the University arrived at the dismissal option following the recommendation of the Joint Committee of Council and Senate constituted to probe the allegation.
The Vice Chancellor disclosed that the erring professor had an inappropriate relationship with Osagie as established through their conversations in the audio recording.
According to him, he had acted in a manner that is seen to have compromised his position as a teacher and examiner, in that, his conversations with Miss Osagie were about examination scores and inducement of favour for the alteration of examination scores.
"He offered to change Miss Osagie's purported 33 per cent result to a pass mark in consideration for sexual favours, this was established in the audio recording which he admitted.
"His claim that Miss Osagie knew that she had passed with a score of 45 per cent but was seeking to score an A and that this led to him being sexually harassed by Miss Osagie cannot be supported by any evidence. "Professor Akindele's action in requesting sexual favour from Osagie to change her examination score was scandalous behavior that has brought ridicule to the name of the University and have tarnished the reputation of the University, as it portrays the university as an institution where its teachers and examiners trade marks for sex".
Professor Ogunbodede disclosed that the University is creating awareness and disseminating information on what constitute sexual harassment within the University and noting the veracity of sexual harassment concept which include sexual solicitation, sex exploitation among others.
According to the Vice Chancellor, OAU is fully committed to the eradication of sexual and any other harassment from tertiary institutions and will do all that is possible to nip the menace in the bud.
Minister of Health, Aaron Motsoaledi.
Universal health care may become a reality as Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi gears up to present two bills to the public on Thursday.
The Medical Schemes Amendment Bill and the National Health Insurance Bill have the purpose of ushering in a set of health-financing reforms that aim to provide free healthcare to all South Africans.
However, the bills will require amendments to 12 pieces of legislation, News24's sister publication Health24 reported.
Motsoaledi told Members of Parliament on Tuesday that they would need to change "most of the laws that you have painstakingly cobbled together since the advent of democracy... We have already identified 12 Acts that will have to be amended by this House to accommodate NHI".
"[This] will necessitate a massive re-organisation of the whole healthcare system, both public and private, and completely change the relationship between our spheres of government, but also change the relationship between the rich and the poor," Motsoaledi said.
He emphasised that the rich will subsidise the poor, the young will subsidise the old and the healthy will subsidise the sick.
"You might have to dismantle some of the relationships between spheres of government and also rattle the corporate world in health," Motsoaledi said.
He advised Members of Parliament to monitor four factors that have destabilised the health care system. These include human resources, financial management, procurement and supply chain management and maintenance of infrastructure and equipment.
A universal health care system has been on the cards well before Motsoaledi's tenure as health minister, which began in 2009.
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa has been trending on social media following his gracing of an event to launch a garbage bin in Manicaland.
The Zanu PF cabinet minister is seen on the images circulating cutting the ribbon tied around a skip in Rusape.
On social media, Zimbabweans have been either mocking under the #Chinamasachallenge hashtag or condemning him for wasting government time attending "silly" functions. Some users have described him as the clown of the year.
In one picture, Chinamasa is being invited to cut the ribbon (tissue) tied around a toilet seat. Others mimic him cutting the ribbon around a dollhouse, soap tablets, slip ons, pot, a loaf of bread, laptop, a plate of sadza and meat. Worse of all is one which has a ribbon around condoms with hand holding pair of scissors ready to cut it.
Another collage has the popular Jamaican singer Beenie man and Chinamasa captioned Bhini man.
Our New Zimbabwe said on Twitter, "Min Chinamasa demonstrated that mega deals & mega inflows of FDI have started bearing fruit by officially opening a crucial infrastructure project in Rusape! The project will create hundreds of jobs becoz people will setup small businesses in the vicinity! #ChinamasaChallenge."
Another twitter user Roy said, "Zimbabwe's finance minister everybody. Kutonyora mu diary. "Dustbin opening ceremony in Rusape: 19-06-2018. 0900hrs" #ChinamasaChallenge."
However other publications have pictures of the treasury boss opening a sports complex in Rusape area, Vengere Multi-Purpose Sports Court, the same day.
In a troubled economy riddled by poor service delivery, corruption and bad governance, Zimbabwean politicians have taken to taking pride in mediocre developments particularly towards elections as they seek to maximize every opportunity to sell their promises to the public.
A street in Asmara, Eritrea (file photo).
Eritrea's president announced "today that Eritrea shall dispatch delegation to Addis Abeba to a constructive engagement with Ethiopia," Estifanos Habtemariam, Eritrea's Ambassador to Japan, said on twitter. President Isaias Afewerki made the remarks during the Martyrs Day celebrations today.
"We will send a delegation to Addis Abeba to gauge current developments directly and in depth and to chart out a plan for continuous future action," President Isaias said, adding, "The events and developments that have unfolded in our region in general and in Ethiopia in particular in the recent period warrant appropriate attention."
President ISAIAS announced tdy that #Eritrea shall dispatch delegation to Addis Abeba to a constructive engagement with #Ethiopia #BBC #CNN
- Ambassador Estifanos (@AmbassadorEstif) June 20, 2018
The announcement brings to an end Eritrea's silence since June 05 when the 36 Executive Committee members of the ruling EPRDF said in a statement that Ethiopia will fully accept the December 12, 2000 Algiers Agreement, a peace agreement between the governments of Eritrea and Ethiopia, which established the Ethiopia Eritrea boundary commission (EEBC). By accepting the Algiers Agreement, Ethiopia also said it was ready to comply with the "final and binding" decision by the EEBC, which, among others, awarded the town of Badme, the flashpoint of the two years costly border war, to Eritrea.
However, Eritrea remained silent, with only a vague response on twitter from Yemane G. Meskel, Eritrea's information minister, which indicated that Eritrea has already accepted EEBC's decision 16 years ago.
Responding to MP Meseret Jemaneh, who opposed the decision to accept the #AlgiersAgreement & the #EEBC's decision, the PM affirmed the decision by the #EPRDF exc. He also lamented what he said were "illogical reasoning"; asked if Ethiopians were consulted when Assab was given pic.twitter.com/ykUBKUGQAO
- Addis Standard (@addisstandard) June 18, 2018
The announcement came two days after PM Abiy Ahmed defended the government's decision on Eritrea in a live televised session at the national parliament. Ambassador Estifanos did not mention the exact date when the delegates are expected to arrive in Ethiopia. AS
Former president Jacob Zuma (file photo).
The state will carry on covering former president Jacob Zuma's legal fees until a court decides otherwise, the Presidency confirmed on Wednesday.
"You guys have not been listening to us," said Presidency spokesperson Khusela Diko, in response to reports that Zuma's legal fees are still being covered by the state.
"We have always said there is an undertaking, we continue to honour that undertaking."
Diko said the Presidency had filed a notice to abide by whatever the Gauteng North High Court decides in the DA's application filed in late March to have the court set aside a 2006 Presidency agreement to cover the legal fees Zuma ran up for his criminal prosecution.
In March, it was revealed that R15.3m had already been paid in the time he had been challenging the "spy tapes" matter - recordings of an apparent plot against him - as he faces charges related to allegedly accepting a bribe from French arms company Thales in the awarding of an arms deal.
This was after President Cyril Ramaphosa revealed that the agreement, signed by Zuma under former president Thabo Mbeki, formed the basis for the decision to continue paying for Zuma's legal fees in the spy tapes case.
Diko said that the Presidency filed a notice to say that it would abide by the decision of the court and would not challenge the outcome.
"So if the court says we shouldn't pay, then we wouldn't pay," she told News24.
"We are really worried that this is being reported [as though] this is some new revelation."
In the meantime, the Presidency has provided the additional information required ahead of the case in terms of what they were paying for, the agreement to pay and other supplementary information.
"So, there is no decision yet, taken either by the court or the Presidency, that has led to [a conclusion] that says that those fees must not [be] paid," said Diko.
"That has always been the position of the Presidency.
"We filed a notice to abide by the decision of the court, in the meantime we continue to honour the undertaking that exists.
"We were very clear in our statement that we continue to honour this undertaking as it stands unless and until a court decides otherwise."
She said she would find out how much had been spent to date.
National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) boss Shaun Abrahams announced in March that the NPA would go ahead with the prosecution of Zuma on 16 charges, including corruption, money laundering and racketeering.
Former NPA boss Mokotedi Mpshe dropped the charges in 2009, based on recordings, the "spy tapes", which were presented to him by Zuma's legal team.
The tapes were made up of recordings of telephone conversations between then-Scorpions boss Leonard McCarthy and former NPA boss Bulelani Ngcuka, which Zuma's legal team claimed showed political interference in the decision to charge him.
The charges were subsequently withdrawn, just before Zuma was sworn in for his first term as president.
Members of the House of Representatives have defended the decision of the National Assembly to raise its budget from the initial N125 billion to N139.5 billion in 2018.
In their explanation, the lawmakers merely claimed the budget figure was small compared to past years.
They failed to provide specific needs that necessitated the multibillion naira raise.
This is coming less than 24 hours after National Assembly leadership spoke on the concerns raised by President Muhammadu Buhari on the manipulation of the 2018 budget estimates sent to the lawmakers.
Mr Buhari on Wednesday signed the N9.1 trillion 2018 appropriation bill into law in his office at Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
In a statement by the house spokesperson, Abdulrazak Namdas, the lawmakers said the budget of the National Assembly "is still far below the N150 billion in the years before 2015".
"Before 2015, the budget of the National Assembly was N150 billion for several years. It was cut down to N120 billion in 2015 and further down to N115 billion in 2016.
"In 2017, the budget was N125 billion and N139.5 billion in 2018. This means that the budget of the National Assembly is still far below the N150 billion in the years before 2015."
Members of the National Assembly are known for paying themselves billions of naira in illegal allowances they refer to as running cost.
However, the allowances have not been clearly captured in specific budget subheads, meaning they are vaguely inserted into other spending items.
The lawmakers said in their statement that they were "on the same page" with Mr. Buhari in his desire to return the budget cycle to January-December.
"By the provisions of the Fiscal Responsibility Act, 2007, the budget estimates should be with the National Assembly around September of the year."
He said the 2018 budget estimates came behind schedule in November 2017 but was however seen as one of the earliest in recent years.
On the power of appropriation of the National Assembly to alter, make additions, costs or reduce as it may deem necessary, he said the legislature is not expected to be a rubber-stamp by simply approving the Executive proposals and returning the budget to the president.
He said the additions the president complained of in his speech are justifiable.
He also spoke on new projects in budget which the president lamented about.
The president had revealed how the lawmakers "made cuts amounting to 347 billion Naira in the allocations to 4,700 projects submitted to them for consideration and introduced 6,403 projects of their own amounting to 578 billion Naira".
In his explanation, Mr Namdas said they were representatives of the people, hence, "must include projects that will directly affect the common man positively".
"Some of the projects designed by the executive, as high-sounding as their names suggest, do not meet the needs of the common man."
The House expressed their appreciation to President Buhari for signing the 2018 Appropriation bill into law.
President Muhammadu Buhari presenting budget.
President Muhammadu Buhari has signed the 2018 appropriation bill containing the year's federal spending details as approved by the National Assembly.
Mr Buhari signed the budget at about 12 noon on Wednesday inside his office at the presidential villa Abuja.
The total budget is N9.1 trillion, up from the N8.6 trillion estimates he submitted to the Assembly on November 7, 2017.
The two chambers of the National Assembly passed the budget on May 16, six months after it was presented by the president.
The Assembly raised the total figure by N500 million.
They also increased the oil benchmark proposed by the executive from $45 to $51 per barrel.
The Assembly, however, retained oil production volume proposed at 2.3 million barrels per day and an exchange rate at N305 to $1.
The budget as passed by the two chambers also has N530.4 billion as statutory transfer; N2.2 trillion for debt service; N1,95 trillion as fiscal deficit.
The passed budget was transmitted to the presidency for assent on May 25 through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Ita Enang.
Mr Enang on Wednesday took copies of the budget to the office of the president.
The budget signing ceremony was attended by the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Na'Allah.
The cost of mobile and internet-based financial services is set for a significant drop after Government directed that the charge for Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD), the technology platform used to facilitate on-line transacting, was whittled by as much as 60 percent.
Consequently, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has engaged all banks and other financial institutions to take note of the development and pass on the reduction to customers.
The majority of financial and other transactions in Zimbabwe, 96 percent at the last official count, are conducted predominantly through mobile phones, and to some extent via the internet, hence current efforts by President Mnangagwa's administration to cut the cost of such transactions.
With Zimbabwe, which uses a basket of foreign currencies dominated by the US dollar, battling serious cash shortages, the majority of people have little choice but to use mobile phones to conduct virtually all their daily transactions and such transactions (especially payments), ride on the USSD platform.
Government also directed significant cuts on other telecoms services, including out of bundle data (down 60 percent) and national interconnection rate (cut by 50 percent), as part of efforts to make information communication technology (ICT) services, now critical for modern day businesses, cheaper than they have been.
Other charges such as short message service, fixed voice charges and Internet/data charges for Internet access service providers will either be reviewed in future or left market forces to decide.
This directive for reduction of USSD and other communication charges comes after the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) concluded a cost modelling exercise for telecommunication network services in Zimbabwe covering mobile, fixed and Internet Access networks.
The costing exercise was done by Germany technology firm Detecon International and was premised on the Long Run Incremental Costing (LRIC) models that were built in 2014 by Detecon.
Potraz re-engaged Detecon in 2017 to update the LRIC cost models on account of emerging market trends in terms of changing consumer behaviour, which is moving from being voice-centric to being data-centric and technological evolution
The charge for USSD, currently considered the best available technology to deliver mobile and Internet financial services, was cut from 12,5 cents to 5 cents per session. The Reserve Bank is expected to give a directive to all financial institutions to adjust the USSD charge on customers in line with the directive issued by Government.
Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira, while announcing the directive for the reduction of the telecoms services, said the huge demand for ICT services required that they be affordable and of the highest quality possible.
"The USSD charges threshold shall be reduced from the current 12,5 cents per session to 5 cents per session.
"This is meant to address the high transaction cost of e-payments and increase financial inclusion.
"To ensure that this reduction benefits the transacting public, the authority has engaged the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe who will engage financial service providers so that the reduction is passed on to the transacting public," the minister said.
Minister Mandiwanzira said the supply push side of the equation dealt with the universalisation of ICT services and the provision of high quality services.
"There is, also the demand-pull aspects of the equation.
"The demand-pull side covers issues to do with service affordability and the provision of high quality relevant services that make life easier for the people.
"Hence, the need to strike a fine balance between operator's viability and service affordability and quality," he said.
According to blog site CGAP First, when one dials a number that starts with * and ends with #, they essentially are using USSD, which is the best available communications technology to deliver mobile financial services to low-income customers.
"With the notable exception of M-Pesa in Kenya, the majority of large scale mobile financial services deployments in the developing world use USSD as their primary mechanism for communication between customers and their mobile payments platform.
"These include bKash in Bangladesh; Wing in Cambodia; Easy Paisa in Pakistan; Tigo and M-Pesa in Tanzania and EcoCash in Zimbabwe, to name a few," said CGAP.
The Minister said out of bundle mobile data charges threshold shall be reduced from the current average rate of 12,5 cents per Megabyte to 5 cents per Megabyte exclusive of all taxes.
This applies to internet/data that is used outside the WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter bundles among others.
The national interconnection rate shall be reduced from the current 4 cents per minute to 2 cents per minute exclusive of all taxes. This applies across all interconnecting operators.
Oil giants Eni and Shell went on trial in Milan Wednesday on charges of corruption in Nigeria, with judges accepting to consider a request by Lagos for them to face civil liability charges.
A ruling in favour of Nigeria, the plaintiff, would be an important development in the trial -- which has been delayed twice -- as it would make Shell and Eni liable to pay damages to Nigeria if they are convicted.
Shell and Eni can still ask the court to reject the request. If it does, only the individuals on trial would be liable to pay damages in the event of conviction.
"Nigeria demanded accountability for Eni and Shell. There are billions of dollars at stake in this case. The companies and the wider industry should realise that there are huge consequences for dodgy deals," Barnaby Pace of Global Witness told AFP.
Eni and Shell are accused of handing out bribes during the 2011 purchase of OPL245, an offshore oil block estimated to hold nine billion barrels of crude, for $1.3 billion.
Eni chief executive Claudio Descalzi, his predecessor Paolo Scaroni and several managers from Eni and Shell are among those to go on trial, as is Nigeria's former oil minister Dan Etete.
The agreement allegedly saw Nigeria's former president Goodluck Jonathan and his oil minister Etete pocket bribes, according to corruption watchdog Global Witness.
Global Witness said the deal resulted in $1.1 billion being paid into an account in London opened by Nigerian government officials that went directly to Etete. The Nigerian government received only $210 million.
Both companies deny paying bribes.
As well as the Nigerian government and Global Witness, several other associations, such as the Nigerian group HEDA, have also requested to be recognised as plaintiffs in the trial, a request opposed by Shell and Eni's lawyers.
The court will rule at the next hearing, on July 20, on the constitution of civil parties.
Senegal claimed the first African win at the 2018 FIFA World Cup guided by their manager, Aliou Cissé, who is the only black coach at this year's World Cup. Here are 10 interesting things you need to know about The Lions of Teranga (Les Lions de la Teranga) coach.
Senegal recorded the first African win at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, beating the highly fancied Polish side 2-1 at the Spartak Stadium in Moscow. The remarkable win has evoked great memories of their 2002 World Cup campaign in which they defeated holders France in their opening game. Their current manager, Aliou Cissé, who is the only black coach at this year's World Cup captained the team 16 years ago.
In an pre-tournament interview with FIFA, Cissé said: "It's a source of pride to be able to play a part in this World Cup. In 2002 I was captain and now I'm the coach - I love the idea of being able to pass on my experience and knowledge to these players, so that they understand that every fibre of the Senegal jersey represents a person in that country and in Africa. That, as far as I'm concerned, is an extraordinary privilege."
"We would also love to reach the quarter-finals... We've got a young squad with a lot of talent, but they lack experience at the highest level. We'll have to go there without an insecurity complex, play our natural game and stick to our African identity, which defines our football," Cissé was quoted saying.
Senegal remarkable win against Poland has cast the spotlight on their coach, Cissé, the only black coach at this year's World Cup, and one of the youngest coaches at the tournament. Here are 10 interesting things you need to know about The Lions of Teranga (Les Lions de la Teranga) coach.
1. The 42 year-old was born in Ziguinchor, Senegal.
2. He has previously played for English Premier League club Birmingham City and later Portsmouth.
3. Cissé also played in Ligue 1 with Montpellier, PSG and Lille.
4. Cissé played as a defensive midfielder and on occasion, played at centre back.
Read: Senegal is counting on its World Cup football stars to lift its political gloom
5. Cissé, captained Senegal on their remarkable journey through the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. The Lions of Teranga reached the quarter-finals.
6. He was also part of the Senegal team who were the runners-up in the 2002 African Cup of Nations. Cissé played for Senegal from 1999 to 2005, winning 35 caps for the Lions of Teranga.
7. Three years after retiring as a player Cissé was employed for a year as Senegal Under-23s' assistant manager, from 2012 to 2013, becoming head coach from 2013 to 2015.
8. He took over as The Lions of Teranga (Les Lions de la Teranga) head coach in 2015.
9. Cissé became the first person to have been the Captain and Coach of the Lions of Teranga (Senegal).
10. The former Senegalese international is the only black manager at Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Harare City midfielder Moses Muchenje was injured in a hit-and-run accident in the city on Monday evening that left him with a badly bruised ankle.
The former CAPS United skipper was hit by a kombi which sped off from the scene at around 6pm along Simon Mazorodze Road near Mbare. He had to spend the night at Belvedere Medical Centre where he had a scan before he was discharged yesterday morning.
Although the medical report shows the player did not sustain major internal injuries, Muchenje could take more than three weeks to fully recover.
In a statement yesterday, the club's chairman Alois Masepe wished the midfielder a speedy recovery.
"As Harare City Football Club, we are saddened by the injury sustained by one of our players, Moses Muchenje, after he was involved in a hit-and-run accident on Monday evening," said Masepe.
"He was treated and discharged at Belvedere Medical Centre and we are glad he did not suffer life nor career threatening injuries.
"We wish him a speedy recovery and it is the club's fervent hope that he recovers well in time for the resumption of the league marathon."
Muchenje's injury is the latest setback for Mark Harrison's side after the midfielder's partner and club captain, Tendai Samanja, suffered a recurrent ankle knock in the team's 3-0 victory over Yadah Stars at Rufaro on Sunday.
Harrison, who has taken advantage of the mid-season break to visit his ailing mother in London, has enough replacements in his armoury who include the likes of Learnmore Muyambo and Hastings Chapusha.
Meanwhile, Masepe says his executive is surprised by how the Harare City technical team have managed to turn the team's fortunes around.
"We expected the team to struggle, but we have done well in terms of performance against other teams in the league.
"We are actually surprised as an executive because we were looking for life in Division One. But, thanks to the guys, thanks to the technical team. I think the technical set-up was our biggest let-down over the years. We had a good vision, but good vision requires the right material.
"And I think we had some deficiencies at technical level. Now I think we have a technical team that fits with our vision and you can see that with the results on the ground.
"Our performance in the first half speaks for itself."
Ulinzi Stars sailed into the round of 16 of SportPesa Shield Cup without kicking a ball after their opponents Kakamega Homeboyz failed to show up at Afraha Stadium, Nakuru on Wednesday.
The Paul Nkata-coached Kakamega Homeboyz failed to attend the mandatory pre-match meeting fuelling speculations that they will skip the match.
The Kakamega-based club also did not attend the pre-match checking as required by the federation rules and regulations.
The match officials led by match commissar Hesborn Mbogo, centre referee Wislon Otieno, first assistant referee Stephen Yembe, Gladys Kamuren and fourth official Alex Ondima waited for one hour and 15 minutes before calling off the match.
"According to the federation, the match was on and I want to confirm that by the time of calling off the match, I had not received any other communication to do so," said Mbogo.
Mbogo said he will write his report and forward it to FKF to decide on the next course of action.
Ulinzi head coach Dunstan Nyaudo said he was disappointed with the turn of events.
"We were ready for the match and I am surprised our opponents opted to skip the tie without communicating," said coach Nyaudo.
Nyaudo said their opponents had earlier pleaded for postponement of the match to Thursday but Ulinzi declined to accept their request.
"We are playing Gor Mahia on Saturday at Afraha and it would not be possible to play on Thursday and then face Gor on Saturday as we also need to have time to rest and plan for the game," said Nyaudo.
Kenya Simbas head coach Ian Snook named five uncapped players in his squad as they received Sh53 million sponsorship ahead of their opening Rugby Africa Gold Cup match against Morocco in Casablanca on Saturday.
Kenya Under-20 international Edmund Anya will start at the wing with Kabras Sugar's Colman Were starting at hooker. The Homeboyz trio of Mohammed Omollo, Zedden Marrow and Max Kang'eri all start from the bench.
Overall, there are four changes to the side that started last month's 34-16 Elgon Cup away win over Uganda, with Were slotting in ahead of Peter Karia who is relegated to the bench.
Philip Ikambili, who plays as a hooker starts as openside flanker taking the place of Elkeans Musonye, who will miss out on the Morocco tour. Biko Adema starts at fullback, while Edmund Anya takes up the wing and Darwin Mukidza starting at fly-half.
"I slotted Mukidza at fly- half with Adema moving to fullback since I noticed that Mukidza is a good all rounder and understands what is around him and can change the game easily, " said Snook.
"I have also moved Ikambili to openside flanker from hooking since he is nimble and strong."
Jacob Ojee, Martin Owilah, Vincent Mose and Isaac Adimo are unavailable due to academic and work commitments, while Oscar Simiyu misses out through injury, his place on the bench taken up by Moses Amusala.
Erick Kerre is also recalled to the squad after missing the Uganda fixture.
This year's Rugby Africa Gold Cup doubles up as the 2019 Rugby World Cup qualifiers.
There was a sigh of relief for Kenya Rugby Union (KRU), who are going through financial difficulties, when Kenya Breweries Marketing Manager Christine Mwaura delivered a sponsorship cheque of Sh53 million.
The two-year deal with Kenya Simbas will end in December 2019.
"We are glad to be associated with Kenya Simbas, having also been part of their journey to the 2015 World Cup," said Mwaura, whose company sponsored the team to 2015 Vodacom Cup.
Kenya Simbas failed to qualify for the 2015 World Cup on inferior aggregate, losing out to Namibia whom they had beaten.
Already, champions Namibia started their campaign strongly, thrashing Uganda 55-6 with Morocco and Zimbabwe battling to a 23-23 draw in their opening matches last weekend.
Kenya Simbas squad for Morocco match
Simbas: 15. Biko Adema (Nondies), 14. Edmund Anya (Strathmore Leos), 13. Peter Kilonzo (KCB), 12. Leo Seje (Impala Saracens), 11. Tony Onyango (Homeboyz), 10. Darwin Mukidza (KCB), 9. Samson Onsomu (Impala Saracens), 1. Patrick Ouko (Homeboyz), 2. Colman Were (Kabras Sugar), 3. Joseph Odero (Kabras Sugar), 4. Andrew Chogo (Kabras Sugar), 5.Oliver Mang'eni (KCB), 6. George Nyambua (Kabras Sugar), 7. Philip Ikambili (Homeboyz), 8.Davis Chenge (KCB, captain)
REPLACEMENTS: 16. Peter Karia (KCB), 17. Moses Amusala (KCB), 18. Curtis Lilako (KCB), 19. Malcolm Onsando (Kenya Harlequin), 20. Erick Kerre (Impala Saracens), 21. Mohammed Omollo (Homeboyz), 22.Zeden Marrow (Homeboyz), 23. Max Kang'eri (Homeboyz)
MANAGEMENT: Ian Snook (Head Coach), Murray Roulston, Charles Ngovi, Dominique Habimana (Assistant coaches), Richard Ochieng' (Conditioning coach), Chris Makacha (Physio)
US envoy Nikki Haley berates human rights groups
- 21 June 2018
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US envoy Nikki Haley has attacked rights groups for trying to "thwart reform" of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
In a letter, Ms Haley said groups worked "opposite the United States" and were partially to blame for the US withdrawal from the body.
The country withdrew from the UNHRC on Tuesday after accusing it of bias.
Her letter was sent to the International Humanist and Ethical Union, which represents 162 groups.
An image of the letter was posted on Twitter.
. sends letter to human rights orgs telling them their efforts to “block negotiations and thwart reform were a contributing factor” in US decision to withdraw from human rights council— Whitney Hurst (@whitney_hurst)
Ms Haley berated the groups for not supporting proposed US changes to the UNHRC, saying they "sought to undermine" them and worked "on the side of Russia and China, and opposite the United States".
The letter says they were a contributing factor to the US withdrawal from the council due to their attempts "to block negotiations and thwart reform".
Human Rights Watch UN director Louis Charbonneau said it is "preposterous" to suggest rights groups were undermining reform attempts, and called claims of them backing Russia and China "absurd".
Mr Charbonneau tweeted that the US was "attacking and blaming NGOS for its own failures".
What I told : “By attacking and blaming NGOs for its own failure, the administration is taking a page out of the book of some of the worst governments around the world.” — slams rights groups after US quits UN council— louis charbonneau (@loucharbon)
The US pulled out of the UNHRC on Tuesday, calling it a "cesspool of political bias".
Announcing the decision to leave the council, Ms Haley described it as a "hypocritical and self-serving organisation" that displayed "unending hostility towards Israel".
She was speaking alongside US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who denounced the council as "a protector of human rights abusers".
, again for perceived bias against Israel.
Why did the US decide to quit?
The decision to leave the body follows years of US criticism.
The country initially refused to join the council when it was created in 2006, arguing that the body admitted nations with questionable human rights records.
It only joined in 2009 under President Barack Obama, and .
But human rights groups voiced fresh complaints about the body in 2013, after .
This followed , alleging unfair criticism from the body.
Last year, , where dozens of protesters had been killed during political turmoil.
Israel is the only country that is subject to a permanent standing agenda item, meaning its treatment of the Palestinians is regularly scrutinised by the UNHRC.
Algeria turns off internet for high school exams
- 20 June 2018
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Algeria has turned off its internet nationwide during high school exams in a bid to tackle cheating.
Internet service, both mobile and fixed line, will go off for an hour after the start of each high school diploma exam to stop any leaks.
Blackouts will continue throughout the exam season, from 20-25 June.
The move follows widespread cheating in 2016, with questions leaked online before and during tests.
As a result, the authorities asked internet service providers to stop social media access last year, but the voluntary measures were not enough.
Education Minister Nouria Benghabrit told Algerian newspaper Annahar that Facebook would be blocked across the country throughout the entire period.
Ms Benghabrit said while they are "not comfortable" with the decision, "we should not passively stand in front of such a possible leak".
Additionally, all electronic devices with internet access - for both students and school staff - have been banned from the country's 2,000 exam halls, with metal detectors set up at their entrances.
Ms Benghrabit also said surveillance cameras and mobile phone jammers had been installed at exam printing presses.
Just over 700,000 students will sit the high school certificate examinations over the next week, with results expected from 22 July.
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- 20 June 2018
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Former US professional wrestling superstar Leon White - better known as Vader by his fans - has died aged 63.
"Around a month ago my father was diagnosed with a severe case of pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time."
For years he performed at the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE).
The 1.93m (6.3ft) athlete was known for his physicality and aerial manoeuvres.
Around a month ago my father was diagnosed with a severe case of Pneumonia. He fought extremely hard and clinically was making progress. Unfortunately, on Monday night his heart had enough and it was his time.— Big Van Vader (@itsvadertime)
His career somewhat faded in recent years, although he continued making sporadic appearances in different promotions.
He also made appearances in TV shows Baywatch and Boy Meets World.
The WWE said it "is saddened to learn" that Leon White passed away.
WWE is saddened to learn that Leon White, better known to WWE audiences as Vader, passed away Monday night at the age of 63.— WWE (@WWE)
Vader's wrestling colleagues and fans also paid tributes to the wrestling legend.
Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca was unable to identify company owners
- 20 June 2018
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A new leak of documents from the offshore service provider at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal reveals the company could not identify the owners of up to three quarters of companies it administered.
Two months after becoming aware of the data breach, Mossack Fonseca was unable to identify the beneficial owners of more than 70% of 28,500 active companies in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) as well as 75% of companies in Panama, according to new documents seen by BBC Panorama.
At the time, BVI law permitted corporate service providers to rely upon intermediaries, banks, legal firms and other offshore service providers overseas to check the identities of the owners, although they were required to provide information if requested by the authorities.
The firm was fined $440,000 (£333,000) by the BVI Financial Services Commission in November 2016 for regulatory and legal infringements of anti-money laundering and other laws.
The new leak contains 1.2 million documents dating from before the Panama Papers went public in April 2016 to December 2017. The data was obtained by Suddeutsche Zeitung which shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).
Email correspondence from clients and intermediaries reveal the reaction to the leak, Mossack Fonseca's desperate attempts to close gaps in their record keeping, and their difficulties doing so. Responding to questions from the firm, one Swiss wealth manager said: "THE CLIENT HAS DISAPPEARED! I CANT FIND HIM ANYMORE!!!!!!"
Other correspondence points to the primary reasons many clients were using offshore structures.
One Uruguayan financial planner commented: "…the main purpose of this type of structure has been broken: confidentiality".
Another intermediary wrote: "… the names of our customers have been known by the authorities of their countries. Thanks to Mossack, customers have to pay incomes taxes."
According to Margaret Hodge MP, former chair of the UK parliament's public accounts committee: "This is simply further proof, if any were needed, why we absolutely must have public registers of beneficial owners if we are to stamp out money laundering, tax avoidance, tax evasion and other crimes."
In the wake of the Panama Papers and under pressure from the UK government, the BVI and other British Overseas Territories have established registers of beneficial ownership for companies in their jurisdictions. But the register relies upon offshore service providers, like Mossack Fonseca, to provide the information. And it is only directly accessible to authorities in the BVI - the public cannot see it.
The BVI denies the register is secret and says it is accessible to the authorities and relevant UK authorities on request within one hour. They say they have been at the forefront of global transparency initiatives.
A spokesman said: "A public register is not a silver bullet. It is not about who can see the information, it's about the information being verified, accurate, and therefore useful to law enforcement. A verified register is a far more robust and effective approach to ensure transparency than an unverified public register."
The BVI has resisted pressure for a public register open to scrutiny.
Last month the UK government adopted an amendment to its Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill to force overseas territories to establish public registers by 2020. .
Margaret Hodge, who tabled the amendment with former Conservative minister Andrew Mitchell says: "I would be astounded if the BVI government chooses to waste their own taxpayers' money litigating against the British parliament - now supported by the British government."
A spokesman for BVI Finance said that legal advice was "that the imposition of a public register raises serious constitutional and human rights issues. As we have consistently stated, our position is that we will not introduce public registers until they become a global standard".
The Panama Papers investigation went public in April 2016 when the BBC and more than 100 other media organisations started publishing stories emanating from 11.5 million documents leaked from Mossack Fonseca.
The investigation was organised by the ICIJ and involved journalists from 76 countries scrutinising internal emails and corporate documents passed to the ICIJ by Suddeutsche Zeitung.
The German newspaper obtained the data from an anonymous source called "Jon Doe".
The UK investigation was led by BBC Panorama and the Guardian newspaper.
, , sanctions busting and systemic tax dodging.
Then and the prime minister of Iceland was forced to resign following demonstrations about his failure to declare an offshore interest.
Pakistani prompted by revelations about his family's offshore financial affairs.
Panamanian police raided Mossack Fonseca's offices and by the end of 2016 governments and companies in 79 countries had launched 150 inquiries, audits or investigations into the firm, companies it worked with, or its clients.
The new documents show how authorities from around the world, including the UK's Serious Fraud Office, contacted Mossack Fonseca demanding information about individuals and companies identified in the leak.
Mossack Fonseca's documents have since been obtained by a number of tax authorities including HM Revenue and Customs which paid an undisclosed sum for the leaked data.
and that they expected to recover £100m in tax.
Three months ago citing reputational damage and the actions of the Panamanian authorities. In a statement this month, the company's founders said that neither they, the firm, nor its employees, were "involved in unlawful acts".
Scores of opposition MPs on Friday supported Jwaneng-Mabutsane MP Shaun Ntlhaile's motion and called out government to heed calls to introduce a decent living wage, as it is for the good of all workers in Botswana.
Selibe Phikwe East MP, Dithapelo Keorapetse said the problems Botswana is experiencing in its industrial relations include but not limited to the problem of wealth and income inequalities, the working poor and slave wages. "The lowest paid civil servant in our country earns about P1600 and the highest paid gets around P75 000 without including allowances and there is a huge wage disparity between the two, that is why we end up with the working poor," he said.
According to Keorapetse there reason why there is the working poor in Botswana is primarily due to unemployment because there is excess supply of skilled labour and this has driven the living wage lower. "Living wage is different from minimum wage in the sense that minimum wage cannot address basic needs and decent standards of living while decent living wage the idea is to make sure that workers have decent standard of living. Modest but decent life where they are able to afford food, shelter, transport, utilities health care and even child care," he said.
According to Keorapetse research has shown that living wage tends to reduce poverty and that workers tend have to have high affective commitments; i.e. emotional attachments to organisations hence serving organisations better and being productive when they have decent living wage.
He also argued that the living wage issue cannot be debated in isolation, saying that it goes together with other issues such as labour and labour laws. "You said recently when came back from the International Labour Organisation that the new administration seeks to reform labour laws. We want restoration of the public bargaining council, and the review of the trade dispute act to remove the clause on essential services, we cannot have all this civil servants classified under essential services cadre," he said.
He urged government to expedite its efforts in trying to create favorable labour conditions because it's not looking good for workers, also urging the state to establish an independent body with quasi-judicial functions to entertain labour disputes. "Let us try that in our country because the labour department has failed workers for many years," he said.
The youthful legislator was also of the opinion that the country should establish a fair entitlement guarantee scheme, which will enable those who find themselves jobless as a result of liquidations and bankruptcies being paid something. "Right now we some BCL group employees who are now indebted, some are threatened with civil imprisonment and some found themselves poor overnight with nothing to give to their families and if we had fair entitlement guarantee scheme we would have made sure that this people were paid from this fund," he said, adding that government should recognise that trade unions are very important in industrial relations rather than treating them as enemies in labour.
MP for Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolathe also shared Keorapetse's sentiments that workers tend to be motivated and productive if they are paid well. Taping into Alfred Marshal's efficiency wage theory, that increasing wages can lead to increased labour productivity; Gaolatlhe argued that it is not necessary true that for the economy to grow people have to be paid less but rather that it is possible for an economy to grow whilst workers are also paid a decent living wage. "Developed countries such as Sweden and Switzerland have long embraced the concept of efficiency wage rate because they knew how critical it was for sustainable development of their countries," said MP for Bonnington South Ndaba Gaolatlhe.
He posited that there is no country to date whose economy to date is progressing well that has not embraced the fact that workers are critical stakeholders in the economy and deserve to be paid a decent wage.
MP for Nata/Gweta Paulson Majaga also didn't spare government criticism saying as things are currently; Batswana are not living a decent life courtesy of the low wages they earn. He highlighted the fact that this anomaly was prevalent in both the private and public sector. According to Majaga it is disheartening to note that many workers' dignity was eroded away by the paltry remuneration they were getting from their formal employment. Majaga argued that government would not lose anything by increasing workers living wage. "If you pay people more you lose nothing but instead gain more," he said.
The outspoken legislator pledged his support for Ntlhaile's motion saying it advocated for the plight of all Batswana. Although the debate on the motion was completed, the house failed to vote on whether to pass it or not as they failed to form a quorum
Budget 2018-2019 consolidates the welfare system and strengthen support to vulnerable segment of the society. Focus is laid on inclusiveness whereby every citizen has equal rights with regards their adherence into the mainstream society.
Measures have been crafted to include every segment of the social ladder as part of the economic and social development of the economy to ensure that nobody is left apart and are deprived of their social privileges. This endeavor is being translated into concrete action following the introduction of the Negative Income Tax and the Minimum Wage in the last budget which has created new dynamics and increased the purchasing power of those at the lower end of the economic ladder.
As a continuity to the social measures already in place, Budget 2018-2019 has taken a step further by introducing new sets of actions geared towards alleviating the livelihood of the vulnerable including children in distress, elderly and disabled. They are:
Rs 30 million for assistance in terms of wheelchairs, hearing aids, spectacles, and dentures
increase in the income threshold from Rs 10 000 to Rs 15 000 for persons benefitting from legal aid
rise in the monthly carer's allowance to bed-ridden persons under the Basic Invalid Pension from Rs 2 500 to Rs 3 000
full duty exemption on the purchase of a motor car of engine capacity of up to
1 600 cc to increase mobility of disabled persons
investment in public buildings infrastructure to make it easier for disabled persons to have access to public buildings
Rs 60 million for a new shelter at Pointe Aux Sables to support the rehabilitation and reintegration process of children in distress
two elderly day care centres at Bambous and Chemin Grenier
upgrading of existing shelters at: Oasis at Grand River North West, La Colombe at Pointe Aux Sables and Oiseau du Paradis at Cap Malheureux
specialised training for 50 carers initially with the collaboration of the MITD
increase by 40 percent in the monthly grant from Rs 6 071 to Rs 8 500 to employees of residential care homes and institutions caring mostly for elders with disabilities
provision for four psychiatric nurses to assist children with behavioural problems
construction of nine new children playgrounds and the upgrading of 19 existing playgrounds across the island
extension of the existing facility of Incontinence Allowance to Elderly Persons in the age group of 70 and 74 years
Monrovia — Maintaining performance on the Millennium Challenge Compact scorecard and a good implementation performance will be critical for Liberia to be considered for another grant, says Jonathan Nash, Chief Operating Officer of MCC.
Mr. Nash is currently in Liberia engaging the government about the successful implementation of the compact and says to be certified for another compact the country must pass the indicators to a certain extent.
Ruling justly, controlling corruption, rule of law, investing in people, increasing immunization rate, investing in health care and education, and promoting a business-friendly environment are some of the indicators on the scorecard that qualify a beneficiary.
Countries that do relatively well compare to their peers become eligible for the grant.
"To obtain a second compact, the board looks at the extent at which a country was able to deliver and have a high-quality implementation of the first compact. The board generally looks for improved performance on the scorecard over time as well," he said in Monrovia during a press briefing.
"I'm here to engage with President Weah and his administration to review the progress that has been made to date and to take a look ahead at the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the completion of the particular compact."
In 2016, Liberian received a grant of US$257 million from the United States through the MCC to enhance its electricity and road projects.
These two sectors were earmarked as binding constraints - major factors hampering the growth of the country's economy - after a rigorous and comprehensive survey.
Before the survey, Liberia had already achieved an acceptable scorecard after passing 10 out of the 20 indicators to qualify for the grant.
Mr. Nash says the Liberian government must also remain committed to the implementation of the current compact.
He acknowledged that Liberia has in recent years passed some key indicators including controlling corruption, but suggested that the government must continue to peruse anti-graft, democratic and economic freedoms in order to do better on the scorecard.
The collating and maintaining the data of these indicators are done by a third party institution, and the MCC wants to introduce said institution to the Liberian government in order to help maintain sound policy performance.
Monie Captan, CEO of the Millennium Challenge Account- Liberia - the agency setup in country to manage the implementation of the grant, recently revealed that there are opportunities to pass more indicators.
Captan said the government should develop an action plan to ensure all of the ministries and agencies that are connected to these performances develop a clear policy action plan to boost performance.
"Sometimes we failed indicators because the reporting ministry did not provide the information that was needed to judge our performance," he said.
The US$257 million compact is largely supporting Liberia's electricity project, ensuring power accessibility and affordability and helping to buttress the country's road network.
The five-year compact is already into its half way stage and intends to impact an estimated half a million Liberians before ending in 2021.
The MCC top executive, who is visiting from Washington D.C, says the compact is a priority project for his country.
"We deeply value our partnership with Liberia, that's one of the reasons I'm out here," he added, stressing the impact of the "great things already achieve under the existing compact".
"We want to make sure that the government is able to implement the reminder of this compact with success so that the benefits are afforded to the Liberian people."
He praised the "tremendous accomplishment" of the compact on the Mount Coffee hydro project and said the MCC attention is now focusing on the establishment of the electricity regulatory body for the country, the training of technicians by the Liberia Electricity Corporation and transmission and distribution of power as well as implementation of the road component of the compact.
The Employment and Labour Relations Court has dismissed two cases challenging hiring of Cuban doctors by the national government.
Justice Onesmus Makau ruled that the Kenyan doctors who had moved to court failed to provide enough evidence to prove that the hiring of foreign doctors violated principles of national governance.
The judge said the petitioners failed to show that unemployed Kenyan doctors possess the same skills as the contracted Cuban medics.
But the judge faulted the government for not involving the public in the hiring of the foreign medics and for failing to advertise the jobs.
In response to the court decision, Kenya Medical Association said the discussion is set to continue in other forums, insisting the hiring was done contrary to international standards.
The Cuban doctors arrived in the country two weeks ago.
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Court to decide fate of Cuban doctors
Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki signed the contract to bring the 100 medical specialists to Kenya in April during her trip to Havana, Cuba's capital city.
During a visit to the Caribbean nation in March this year, President Kenyatta agreed to accelerate the deal that had been promised in 2017 to bring in the Cuban specialists.
President Kenyatta said the doctors would help plug existing gaps in county hospitals but the move has been widely criticised by health sector stakeholders.
Reverse engineering is taking apart an object to see how it works in order to duplicate or enhance the object. And it has played a significant role in the improvement of various engineering technological innovations.
Thus, utilization of new technologies expedites socio-economic transformations of countries. Countries like South Korea, China, Brazil, India and Iran are the dominant countries known for developing and utilizing Reverse Engineering towards the success of their economy.
This technology plays a crucial role in promoting technology exchange from countries that prosper with latest engineering, computer and other innovations. It adds value to international innovations and motivates local innovations. Thus, having the technology is fundamental in developing countries to meet its growing technological demand.
Experts in the area emphasized that undertaking reverse engineering would maximize the new generation to install well researched innovations in a way of recognizing the rights of the innovator. Experts also indicate that developing new technologies through reverse engineering helps to save foreign exchange earnings.
In Ethiopia, the sector is still at its bottom line compared to other countries due to the lack of inputs. But, new science and technology universities and other universities are doing their level best regarding with introducing this new subject area to the country.
Ministry of Science and Technology is the highest institution in Ethiopia to execute, promote and diversify technology related activities.
Ministry State Minister Shumetie Gizaw (Ph.D) told The Ethiopian Herald that the ministry is striving to strengthen practical teaching programme in the area. Reverse Engineering is important option to prosper with socio-economic aspects through the application of latest technological advancements, he added.
Having, reverse engineering highly supports the country's economy in various ways.
Recently, the Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute (EBTI) in collaboration with Bahir Dar University Institute of Technology organized a workshop themed: "Transforming the national development through exchanging, developing and reinventing reverse engineering".
Ethiopian Biotechnology Institute (EBTI) Deputy Director General Sandokan Debebe underlined that the improvement of technologies like in reverse engineering contributes more to facilitate and ease societal life.
As to him, some success stories have seen in the country regarding producing imported products locally through Reverse Engineering.
According to him, stove and dish oven, water heater and other day to day household instruments are the foremost results of Reverse Engineering in the country. The institute is working in collaboration with stakeholders prioritizing big engineering technologies development at home,
"Thus, the establishment of technology and Reverse Engineering Center is fundamental to compete with the developed countries along with new technological innovations."
Thus, students in the country are highly supported to prioritize the significant roles of the sector to the national economic transformation towards industrialization. Further to this, providing the necessary reverse engineering technology inputs to the students and institutions to work on the area should be prioritized in order to be successful in the sector.
For his part, Defense University Engineering College, Ass Prof. Ajit Palsin said that lack of technological inputs to practice reverse engineering, language barrier and the sector execution capacity hinders the country not to acquire the expected from the sector. But, the establishment of new Reverse Engineering Technology Center is important to facilitate the country's endeavors to promote its economy through technology exchange, he added.
This engineering sector seeks well trained, experienced and educated professionals. But, in Ethiopia it is facing some bottlenecks like brain drain of trained reverse engineering professionals. Thus, creating inter-universities and industries linkage, promoting youth innovators and supporting the sector financially is important to cope up with reverse engineering.
Generally, having well immersed Reverse Technology highly supports the economy of a given country, experts agree.
To sum up, the Ministry of Science and Technology is undertaking various actions in the efforts in motivating, practicing and developing Reverse Engineering in the country. Thus, the country's young and old science and technology universities are expected to contribute more in this regard.
NTDs affect about 1.5 billion people. Digital technology could turbo-boost progress in combating them.
Fabiano grew up close to a fast-flowing river that irrigates the land in Uganda's Nebbi District. Over the years as he farmed, he was repeatedly bitten by black flies that breed along the river banks. The bites caused constant itching. His skin thickened and discoloured until it resembled a leopard's. But far worse, Fabiano lost his sight. Because of this, his first son dropped out of school to become his father's guide.
Fabiano suffers from river blindness, or onchocerciasis, one of twenty Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) that affect about 1.5 billion of the world's poorest. That's more than one-sixth of the global population. Caused by a variety of bacterial, parasitic, viral and fungal infections, these diseases can lead to blindness, disfigurement, malnutrition, growth failure and cognitive impairment.
NTDs are hugely serious, but many are preventable, treatable and can even be eliminated. Last month, for instance, Nigerian health officials and the Carter Centre announced that river blindness was no longer a threat in two states and that two million people could now stop taking ivermectin, the drug given annually to treat the disease. This success was hard won: it followed almost 30 years of laborious mapping of high risk areas and decades of using community volunteers for mass drug distribution. Beyond these two states, however, about 115 million Africans, including 50 million Nigerians, remain at risk from the disease.
Turbo boosting progress
Many of those vulnerable to NTDs live in poor, hard to reach areas. This exacerbates the agonisingly slow pace of progress in the control and elimination of these diseases. But it is now time to pick up the pace. And today, we have access to digital tools that can turbo boost progress. Through applying digital technologies like mobile phones, drones, and satellite data, we can overcome obstacles such as distance, shortage of health workers, lack of health infrastructure, and poor road systems.
In Africa, data show that more people have access to mobile phone service than piped water. These devices could be used to educate the public and community health workers about disease risks, prevention and treatment. This could be done through SMS or Interactive Voice Response systems for less literate populations. Big data, drones and satellite technology could also be deployed to educate the public; train community health workers; deliver medicines; develop health strategies; and map diseases.
In fact, there are already several examples of technology being used to improve health outcomes in resource-poor settings.
In Uganda, for example, health workers use the mobile system mTRAC to ensure crucial medicines remain stocked across the country. mTRAC enables health workers to send reports by SMS, including real-time data to map inventories. When stocks are known, rural people can avoid travelling long distances to health facilities only to find that drugs are unavailable.
In Brazil, Facebook partnered with UNICEF at the height of the Zika outbreak. The social media site shared anonymous user data on posts about the virus, which showed that 58% were by men. Equipped with this information, UNICEF designed a programme specifically targeted at engaging men as allies in the fight. This underscored the potential value of Big Data combined with human-centred design.
The Global Trachoma Mapping Project, a UK-funded initiative implemented in 29 countries, also reveals promise. The programme uses android technology to collect data from 2.6 million people. This information is then used to pinpoint regions with a high risk of trachoma, allowing partners to target the delivery of the SAFE strategy (Surgery, Antibiotics, Face washing and Environmental improvements) for trachoma control.
In Rwanda, drones are now being used to transport blood to frontline health facilities. This technology be further utilised. Prevention of NTDs often involves community-wide drug distribution, for instance, but the safe movement of the medicines from cold storage to the ground level often presents major difficulties. Drones equipped with pouches could transport these drugs, avoiding the bottlenecks of bad roads, potential theft and long distances.
Coordinating and financing the fight against NTDs
The deployment of digital technologies will require funding of course. But in the long-run, these investments will save costs as they will accelerate the elimination of NTDs. In some cases, existing funds can be re-allocated. For example, drone technology could be funded from the same purse currently used for the road transport of drugs. In other cases, governments, private companies and donors should allocate the necessary funds.
In coming up smart solutions, partnerships between the health and technology communities will also be essential. Homegrown collaboration such as the "Health Meets Tech" hackathon planned in Abuja, Nigeria, provide key opportunities to generate creative solutions in real time.
If this all comes together the day that the bite of a black fly is no more than a nuisance will arrive much sooner, and people like Fabiano will be able to avoid lifetimes of pain and disability.
Ifeanyi Nsofor is Director of Policy & Advocacy for Nigeria Health Watch, CEO of EpiAFRIC, and a 2018 Aspen Institute New Voices Fellow.
ADDIS ABABA - Innovation is a prerequisite for Africa's transformation and all stakeholders must engage to facilitate greater collaboration, the Africa Innovation Summit (AIS) said.
The overwhelming view of the Summit which was conducted from June 6 to 8 aimed at nurturing, empowering and propelling African innovators and their solutions forward.
A multi-sectorial and multi-stakeholder approach must be taken to ensure policies, investments and enabling ecosystems are put in place to support African innovation without hesitation.
Obiageli Ezekwesili, former Vice President for Africa at the World Bank, shared her view: "If Africa accepted that people have to be at the center, then we would be confronted with the fact that Africa's people problem is a productivity problem. And this productivity problem is an innovation issue. We need an upheaval and people in government who can overturn the old way of doing things."
"It is not a question of knowing what is right but doing what is right. We need to be tough with our leaders. It is a pre-condition for change." United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) former Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes said.
"We have a wave of transformation in Africa. There is political will to translate Africa's dreams into practical tools. We need to harness our negative energy and change it into dynamism."
From 600 applications of the 44 countries, a selected group of 50 innovators had a unique opportunity to engage stakeholders in discussing potential solutions to some of the blockages that are preventing solutions from going to scale.
In his final call to action, Dr. Olugbenga Adesida, co-Director of AIS, called for a bolder imagination about the future by Africans and a sense of urgency around Africa's transformation.
He noted that innovation is a prerequisite for Africa's transformation and that all stakeholders must engage to facilitate greater collaboration.
Africa must ensure greater self-reliance by mobilizing domestic funding to promote innovation and support our innovators. "We must build robust ecosystems for innovation in our respective countries on the continent. Africans cannot simply be consumers, nor can they outsource its development. We all must engage with a new sense of urgency to facilitate change."
AIS is an Africa-wide and home grown initiative aimed at harnessing the innovation potential of the continent.
One of Europe's largest VC funds Partech Venture has launched an Africa Fund. Russell Southwood spoke to General Partners Cyril Collon and Tidjane Deme about what excites them and what they're looking for.
Cyril Collon, and Tidjane Deme got into VC investment out a desire to do something more meaningful than the long corporate slog. As Deme put it:"I was wasting away at Google and we said to each other, let's step out of the corporate comfort zone and do something meaningful. The question was then whether to launch a start-up business ourselves or build a proper network to get top tier partners in venture capital to think about Africa differently. In the end, we said let's raise a fund to invest in African start-ups. We both saw a lot of potential on the continent for start-ups to tackle fundamental problems". Collon had already lived (as a child) and worked on the continent for a large part of his life and was thus very familiar with both the problems and potential to be found on the continent.
The Partech Africa Fund was launched with commitments of around US$70 million and is continuing to raise funds. The objective is to close with €100 million ($122 million) by the end of the summer. The investors are a mix of institutional investors, DFIs, corporates and family offices. One third of the funds comes from family offices, High Net Worth individuals and entrepreneurs.
The corporates include Orange, Edenred (employer benefits), Gisse & Co (urban services like advertising spaces, shared bicycles and smart city services) and JCDecaux. The Africa Fund forms part of Partech Ventures overall portfolio of over US$1 billion in the last 18 months.
The thing that Collon and Deme hope will mark them out as different from other Africa investors is their ability to match the corporate need for innovation with start-ups that can bring about the changes they need to make:"The corporates will have a team on their side to absorb the information and we will invest and get things to proof of concept and contract quickly. This will be one of the main angles we'll develop and will be key in our strategy to being successful on the continent".
So how does the African start-up landscape look to them? Deme notes:"Despite the bad things said about African tech hubs, nearly everywhere has one and they are attempting to create start-ups. At the next level what has changed is in terms of the maturity of start-ups. We're seeing more and more start-ups ready for series A".
"Most funds are focused on Lagos, Cape Town and Nairobi which is where three-quarters of the investment has been made but it is not three-quarters of what's actually happening. There are places like Senegal, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Tanzania and Egypt that are not receiving attention from investors".
Although it has a clear idea of where it would like to invest, attitudinally it's looking for things that will set their pulses racing. Collon observes:"We're generalist and opportunist. It's what excites use. There's a lot of activity in fintech and we're excited by what enables downstream activities: financial inclusion, data and off-grid, the outcomes of fintech".
Their investment strategy has three pillars: fintech, mobile internet consumer services (entertainment, e-health), B2B enterprise segments and a cross-cutting theme, the informal economy. Under fintech it's looking for new ways to provide financial services through mobile, off-grid and things like insurance:"You're building in a different context in Africa."
It sees lots happening in the B2B segment and it's where it has made its first investment:"There's lots happening and it represented 10% of investment last year but only 3% the year before." It sees SMEs and informal businesses as a huge potential market. It wants to help the informal economy by using tech to solve problems people in it face.
Its first investment is in Nigerian start-up Trade Depot in which it has invested US$3 million. Collon lays out the why:"There are three levels of problem for FMCG distribution in Africa. There are big brands and importers, formal entities operating across Africa. For example, Coca Cola has 150 distributors. 2,000 informal wholesalers and 600,000 informal retailers. It's not able to see completely the distribution network below the first layer".
"It can't push promotions because intermediaries will eat it up before it gets to the customer. Wholesalers do the rounds (to see if an outlet needs more) and come back with only a half empty truck. It makes for expensive logistics. Retailers often need to close their shop to go off and get new orders. There's a need for a single platform for retailers and wholesalers using USSD. You then get paid by the brands and distributors".
"That's the FMCG space in Africa but it's also a description of most of the retail space in Africa. Trade Depot have come up with a very lean model. It's getting great response from FMCG brands it's talked to. It's got a great partnership with Coca Cola. It's spent at least two years meeting all the major brands at executive level and can bring this app to a Unilever or a Proctor and Gamble".
"We love the informal market because the impact (of start-ups like Trade Depot) is huge. We see e-commerce as a major trend. We believe it will go from about US$2 billion now to US$375 billion by 2025. The challenge is to provide tools that will help bring about that change".
It is in the closing stages of making other investments:"They are about addressing the digitization of the informal sector from the transaction side".
So what kind of start-ups is it looking for?:"There are many who are big only in say, Nigeria. We're not really going to be helpful to them. They need to have cracked one market and scaling and growth are the next step". It invests in Series A and B rounds with between 1-5 million euros and has the capability to make follow-on investment of between 10-15 million euros.
Collon and Deme feel that some of the current valuations of African start-ups are on the high side, something that they find frustrating:"When engaging with start-ups, some entrepreneurs in some sectors have been exposed to foreign investors. That's easy money and not really thought out. So you have first rounds with very high valuations. That's not our space so we sometimes have difficult conversations where valuations have been too high. We don't want to be the guy pushing for down rounds or flat rounds so we've had a few frustrating conversations".
The Africa Fund will work out of three offices on the continent: Dakar, Lagos and Nairobi:"When were thinking about the Africa team, we knew we had to sit in Africa. There is no (single) good place that works. Sadly the best place to put a team would be London or Paris but we like to be on the ground to get the context, We spend a week a month in Paris and the rest of our time in Africa".
"If you look at the entrepreneur in Lagos, he's often a "repat" (someone back from the diaspora) who knows Nigeria and Europe or the USA well but doesn't have contacts outside of these areas. African people (in a particular country) know their country and sometimes Europe. We should be able to open doors for them. For this reason, our team is larger than is typical in Europe".
So which start-up segments do they see as "over-traded'?:"It's not exactly over-traded but the off-grid energy model will require a lot of capital and it's not entirely proven. It's still in an early stage where a Series A is US$40 million out of a VC. Companies in the sector have begun to separate finance of commodity debt and the services through equity. Debt has doubled and trebled. We have looked at tools for platforms across the sector".
"On fintech, where rounds are very large, they are overtraded on some aspects. If you break it down, there are tons of start-ups doing payments but Fintech is not just that. The rounds and valuations are way too high".