Upper Egypt in agony as families mourn victims of train crash
Upper Egypt in agony as families mourn victims of train crash
Dozens of families from across impoverished Upper Egypt stood for hours in front of the Tahta General Hospital’s morgue until Saturday morning as they waited to identify and receive the bodies of their loved ones killed in a train crash on Friday.
Sounds of screaming and wailing overwhelmed the scene, with some mourners collapsing as debris and bodies in body bags continued to enter the morgue a day after the tragedy occurred in the Tahta district of southern Sohag province.
The health ministry said on Saturday that 19 people were killed in the incident, in which two passenger trains collided, with 185 injured. This was down from an initial statement that said 32 people had been killed, with 165 injured.
Two-thirds of the Tahta General Hospital is already entirely occupied with coronavirus patients. The under-equipped hospital had to delegate some doctors in the quarantine department to help their colleagues in the emergency section.
The male family members of Hany Mohammed Salem, a retired low-ranking police officer from Sohag, waited for 10 hours to transfer his body to Koum Ashqaw in Sohag for burial.
“He was on his way to Sohag to visit his family back from his work in the Delta, and we didn’t get the chance to bid him farewell,” Mostafa Salem, his 31-year-old cousin, told Middle East Eye.
“We consider him a martyr who was earning a living to support his family.”
Mostafa said that Hany’s body was crushed under metal, and his facial features were rendered unrecognisable.
“We recognised him from the clothes and the identification cards,” the cousin said.
“We do not want compensation from the government. We are a proud people and do not take money to compensate for the loss of our own.
“We only want those responsible to be held accountable. Not the poor conductor or driver, but the government and high-ranking officials.”
The first statements released by the Egyptian government in response to the incident said prosecutors would “interrogate several rail employees, including the two train drivers, their assistants and the signalman,” AFP reported.
However, media reports on Saturday claimed both train drivers had died of injuries sustained in the crash.
As the screaming continued outside the hospital, a green Peugeot 504 seven-seater with Luxor plates, a popular vehicle in upper Egypt, arrived directly from Luxor city.
The family of Ezzeddine Abu al-Wafa, a 59-year-old employee from Luxor, read his name on a Facebook post that listed the names of those wounded in the train crash.
After finding him in a stable condition with some broken bones and bruises, his brother Awad told MEE that there was no cooperation from the government to help the families find their relatives.
“We drove to Akhmim hospital [5 km from Tahta] and did not find [the victims]. Later on, a younger family member saw his name and we headed there,” he said.
Awad said that his brother comes from a poor family and was on his way to work.
Occupants of the two trains that crashed were mainly families and individuals from Upper Egypt who were either running errands, going home for the weekend, or police and army conscripts taking a monthly leave.
Emad Omar, one of the people who survived the crash, lives in Naga Hamadi in the Qena governorate.
He was travelling along with his brother to Cairo, where they work. Accompanying them was their cousin who had an exam also in the capital. The three took the 2011 special train that started in Aswan and should have ended in Cairo.
Luckily, they had managed to get seats in carriage five, where the impact of the crash was much less severe than it was on the first three carriages.
“We felt a massive blow that sent all passengers cramming on one another. But luckily no one died. An old lady was injured,” Omar said.
“There was panic, and everyone wanted to leave the train. We had light luggage so we got out. We found a lot of bodies, injured people, and women stuck under the seats.”
The three helped as many people as they could, and took a private car to return to their village.
Omar and his brother are machinists in a factory for car parts in Cairo. They helped locals to put together makeshift floating bridges between the banks of a small waterway in order to transfer the injured to the other side because the nearest bridge was too far.
‘We are just numbers’
Salama Shebeen, a nurse teaching assistant who was riding the same train on her way to Alexandria University, told MEE that she had survived by luck as the impact had thrown her off on some bags and she did not sustain any injuries.
“I got out and I found a lot of people screaming and people still stuck under the debris,” the 26-year-old nurse said.
‘The price of people’s [lives] in Upper Egypt is so cheap. We are just numbers, and we are not important’
– Salama Shebeen, survivor
“Everyone did what they could. There were female nurses on board and conscripts who were medics who helped until the ambulances arrived.
“All I can say is that I could have died today. The price of people’s [lives] in Upper Egypt is so cheap. We are just numbers, and we are not important,” Shebeen said, pointing to the marginalisation and lack of infrastructure and services in the impoverished and heavily populated reagion.
Ahmed Sedeeq, a 21-year-old conscript, lived in al-Manshaa village, not far from the Tahta hospital.
At 11 pm on Friday, hundreds of villagers held a prayer as the body of Sedeeq arrived at al-Ebtehal mosque.
“He was only one year away from finishing his military service and getting married,” Sayed al-Shawarby, Sedeeq’s neighbour, told MEE, as tension and crying rose with the arrival of the body to front of the mosque.
The impoverished Upper Egypt
Mahmoud al-Sayed was one of the first responders at the scene of the crash. He and dozens from al-Maragha village were preparing for Friday prayers at 11:30 am when the crash took place.
“We rescued more than 400 people from under the debris,” Sayed, 46, told MEE. “The men and young people from all the nearby villages performed extreme rescue efforts and lifted carriages from over the stranded passengers.”
Sayed said it took the first ambulance two-and-a-half hours to arrive.
‘Most of those who died are poor people who cannot afford to ride the microbus or better trains. They prefer to be squeezed in a poor train because of their poverty’
– Ismail al-Oquba, eyewitness
“When the ambulances arrived, they were unprepared, not even with body bags. We collected body parts, legs, and hands,” he said.
“The locals carried the injured through the water to help them reach the other side.
“Most of those who died are poor people who cannot afford to ride the microbus or better trains. They prefer to be squeezed in a poor train because of their poverty.”
Ismail al-Oquba, another eyewitness who was present at the early stages of the rescue efforts, said that there were not enough ambulances and some people had to hire private funeral service cars to carry the bodies.
“Last month, Transport Minister Kamel al-Wazir was in Upper Egypt and promised citizens in Assiut, Sohag, and Luxor that older trains would be taken out of service and replaced with new ones,” Oquba said.
“But of course, we know that is a lie. These are the same trains we have been seeing and riding since the day we were born.”
A sense of solidarity
Amid lack of government welfare and support to the injured and their families, the sense of solidarity among Upper Egypt citizens has shown the strength of a community that is often criticised by popular culture of being uneducated and backward.
An hour after the incident, large numbers of messages were circulated on social media for healthy adults to head to the nearest public hospitals or clinics to donate blood of all types.
As hospital entrances started to be crowded, young people roamed the crowd distributing masks, sanitisers, water bottles, while other volunteers began preparing and buying meals for families who would stay the night.
“These are our people who will have to stay the night, and this is the least we can offer to them,” said Fouad Abdel-Dayem, one of those distributing meals.
Abdel Dayem, a law student at the University of Sohag, and his friends have also organised themselves on Facebook to prepare free accommodation for families who are waiting for their injured relatives to be discharged, or families waiting to receive the bodies of their relatives.
“If we wait for the government, we will wait for a long time. We are in this together, and we have to compensate for the government’s failures,” Dayem said.
Outside Sohag University Hospital, dozens of young men and women gathered to donate blood and organise relief trips to support the affected families.
“We managed to collect 600 blood donations in four hours, and we expect more to come,” said Hafsa al-Awady, a medical student from Sohag University.
“We have also organised a fund to collect money to finance any missing medical tools, and we made the hospital’s head surgeon responsible for it.”
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Best Legit Verified trustworthy site to sell Gift cards, Bitcoin & Perfect Money, Ethereum, Paypal, Tron In Nigeria at the very Best Rates
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* Where To Sell Your Gift Cards and Other Digital Assets In Nigeria
* Why Snappy Exchange?
* How To Sell gift cards, Bitcoin and other coins on Snappy Exchange?
* Fraud Alert
* Earn Money As Affiliates By Referring People to Snappy Exchange
* What is snappy exchange token and how can you make money with it
* Frequently Asked Questions
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With Snappy Exchange, You sell and get your money instantly and you can as well buy and keep till your coin grows to the desire results.
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Empowering Malawian communities to protect their vulnerable against Covid-19 and its effects, Pilot project implementation report Mwambo Chiefdom, Zomba, Malawi,
Information will save more lives than medicine in the fight against Coronavirus in Malawi. Communities want information about Coronavirus and once they have it they want to know what they can do to protect themselves, their families and their neighbours. They are ready and waiting to engage. In the absence of this engagement, there is increased risk of stigmatization of the sick and outsiders, anger towards duty-bearers and of misinformation causing further anxiety.
Chiefs and local religious leaders are not currently equipped to lead their communities through the Covid crisis. If they cannot personally practice the 3 key behaviours (hand-washing, physical distancing and mask wearing) they cannot lead by example and therefore will not advocate these behaviours to their people.
In Mwambo Chiefdom Traditional Authority (TA), as in many other places, young Malawian adults’ low adoption of the 3 key behaviours (hand-washing, maskwearing and physical distancing) to prevent transmission means protecting the elderly and vulnerable is the most achievable, highest impact priority and public health message that will minimize suffering caused by Covid-19. Elderly people and their families are ready to take action, but need support in the form of soap, masks and actionable information that is adapted to the contexts and resources of their communities.
There is an urgent need to establish engaging community feedback mechanisms with all Malawian communities, that provides them with tailored, culturally appropriate, up-to-date, trusted and actionable advice, to protect themselves, their families, their communities and especially their elderly and vulnerable, and that listens to and answers their questions throughout the Coronavirus crisis.
This report shows how 9.6 million kwacha (€11,520) of funding spent in July and August has been used to make progress towards achieving these 5 objectives among the 45,219 people living within the catchment area of Likangala Health Centre in TA Mwambo Chiefdom, Zomba.
The report documents Covid-sensitive community engagement activities tested during this period and lessons learned from community members’ feedback. This report aims to inform the design and implementation of larger scale, low-cost community empowerment and feedback mechanisms to tackle the spread of Covid-19, help communities protect their vulnerable and to better understand other unmet needs in poor Malawian communities.
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Nigeria set to play strategic role in new world energy order – Kyari
Lagos — As the world transits to cleaner energy, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) has affirmed Nigeria’s preparedness to play a strategic role in the new global energy order.
The Group Managing Director of NNPC, Mallam Mele Kyari, made this submission at the Decade of Gas Pre-summit Conference which held Monday in Abuja, with the theme: Towards Gas-Powered Economy by 2030.
In a welcome address at the event, Mallam Kyari stated that technology and innovation were facilitating a new global energy order aimed at decarbonizing the world and safeguarding the climate, stressing that renewable energy sources such as solar and wind which would be key components of the new energy mix were largely influenced by seasons and were non-transportable to demand centres where they are in short supply.
He contended that under the circumstances, natural gas, and by extension blue hydrogen, would be heavily depended upon as transition fuels to play a key role in the clean energy drive and would provide significant proportion of the global energy mix as well as guarantee feedstock to gas-based industries.
“Nigeria, under the visionary leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, has committed huge resources to ensure that domestic gas infrastructure reach every corner of our country to deepen natural gas utilization, spur investment in power and gas-based industries, grow the economy and generate employment for millions of our young people,” Mallam Kyari informed.
According to him, Nigeria as a gas nation with over 203trillion standard cubic feet (tscf) of proven gas reserves is monetizing the huge gas resources spurred by numerous policy and industry interventions since 2016, culminating in the declaration of 2020 as the year of gas and progressing into the decade of gas from 2021.
Mallam Kyari stated that NNPC and its partners have embarked on a number of strategic projects to deepen delivery of gas to the domestic market and elevate the build-up of greater potentials for export.
“The completion of the Escravos-Lagos Pipeline System Phase 2 (ELPS II), commissioning of the Obiafu-Obrikom-Oben (OB3) Lot 2, the NPDC Oredo Gas Handling Facility, and the SEEPCO Gas Processing Plant can be easily cited, even without mentioning ongoing strategic backbone gas infrastructure projects such as the Ajaokuta-Kaduna-Kano (AKK) pipeline, the OB3 final hook-up, the Nigeria-Morroco pipeline and several other gas-based industries initiatives. All these will herald the sunrise of gas revolution in our country within the decade,” the GMD stated.
He noted that as part of the journey to make the Decade of Gas a reality, the Federal Government has also rolled out the Autogas initiative to provide alternative cleaner and cheaper transportation fuel to petrol, adding that the initiative has received huge support from the entire energy industry and gained tremendous traction.
He lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his strategic foresight, leadership and support for the oil and gas industry, saying that the various strategic initiatives were geared towards transforming the Nigeria’s energy landscape.
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Former NFF Director, Kashimawo Laloko Is Dead
A former technical director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Kashimawo Laloko, has died after a brief illness.
It was gathered that the former football official was said to have died at Sacred Hearts catholic hospital in Abeokuta on Sunday.
‘Duro Amene’ — as Laloko was popularly called — was the founder of Pepsi Football Academy in Lagos.
The football academy has produced the likes of John Mikel Obi, since its inception in November 1992.
Until his death, he was Parakoyi of Egbaland in Ogun state.
The former NFF director, 76, was also an old boy of the famous Abeokuta Grammar School in Ogun state.
He will be buried according to Islamic rites at his Gbonagun residence in Abeokuta on Monday by 3pm.
Meanwhile, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with two games to spare.
Nigeria clinched on of the eight remain spot after Sierra Leone were held to a goalless draw by Lesotho in Maseru on Saturday afternoon.
As a result, Lesotho can no longer qualify for next year’s tournament in Cameroon.
The result leaves the Gernot Rohr’s boys with 8 points, 4 clear of third-placed Sierra Leone.
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Algeria: Trade – Plans to Reopen Land Border Crossings for Entering Foreign Markets
Algiers — The minister of Trade, Kamel Rezig, said Thursday in Algiers that his department is working in collaboration with other departments for the reopening of Algerian land border crossings for exporters, as part of the increase of non-hydrocarbon revenues.
In reply to an oral question by Senator Noueddine Bellatreche (National Liberation Front, FLN) on the assessment of the country’s economic situation to diversify the national economy at during a Council of the Nation (upper house of Parliament), Rezig said that his “department works in collaboration with other sectors to remove all the obstacles encountered by economic operators to penetrate foreign markets, through the opening of Algerian land border posts.”
In 2020, revenues from barter trade with Mali and Niger were estimated at DZD70 billion, he said.
The Algerian economy is currently moving towards opening up to external markets, especially within the framework of the African Free Trade Area.
A presentation was made at an Algerian Government meeting, on Wednesday, about the national product register, to be made available to all economic operators to promote nearly 25 000 Algerian products at local and international levels.
Mentioning the updated and final version of the National Export Strategy, based on various priority sectors, including agriculture and agri-food, the minister said there are ongoing efforts for the strategy’s finalization.
The National Export Strategy has been presented to the Prime Minister and will be officially announced once adopted by the Government.
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Somalia Risks Going Back To Armed Conflict If Politicians Derail Poll Process -Jabril Abdulle
Politicians hindering the electoral process are playing with fire – Presidential Candidate Jabril Abdulle
The Somali people and the international partners who support the political process in Somalia have expressed their frustration over the lack of tangible results from the ongoing political discussions over the implementation of the 17 September 2020 election agreement. The discussions are yet to produce productive outcomes in favour of the aspirations of the Somali people, with political leaders with the primary responsibility to execute the election agreement engaged in trivial bickering.
Rarely held accountable for their failures and abuse of power, the Somali politicians continue to overlook their responsibilities, particularly this difficult period of a pandemic and economic crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 outbreak. The need to reach a consensus on the election stalemate, therefore, is now more crucial than ever before.
“It is unfortunate that the international partners are more concerned about the predicaments of the Somali people over the Somali leadership whose mandate had expired. The FGS leadership whose term had lapsed is, unfortunately, proving to be an impediment to the realisiation of consensual and inclusive elections,” said Presidential Candidate Jabril Ibrahim Abdulle.
Presidential Candidate Jabril added: “For the first time in 30 years, the Somali people, the international community and entities who are concerned about the stability of Somalia have a shared view on the need to shame and impose restrictions on the individuals who are seen to be an obstacle to the implementation of the elections as well as the overall stability of the country.
“Sadly, the obstacles in the way of a consensus on the elections are chiefly based on personal interest and greed; features that are detrimental to the aspirations elected the leadership.”
Jabril cautioned that the politicians who are hindering the electoral process are playing with fire. “In order for us to get out of this uncertainty, it is paramount to impose appropriate sanctions on the persons who are hell-bent on obstructing the process,” added Mr Jabril, who spoke to the media in Mogadishu.
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DR IAN CLARKE: Why we should all get vaccinated against Covid-19
So far, in the roll out of the Covid 19 vaccinations, there has been more interest from expatriates than from Ugandans. Proportionate to their numbers, more whites and Indians are showing up to get vaccinated than Ugandans. So what does it mean if many Ugandans don’t get the Covid vaccination?
Unfortunately some Ugandans seem to have been influenced negatively by reports regarding the side effects of vaccination, while others don’t see why they need to get vaccinated because they are young, and Covid usually causes only mild symptoms in young people. Also there are reports from South Africa that many of the vaccines do not work against the new South African variant. These are legitimate concerns, and we have to admit that this is an unfolding epidemic and our understanding of the behaviour of the virus is still developing. We cannot claim to have a full understanding of how this virus works, nor do we know any possible long-term side effects of the vaccine since it has only been available for a few months. All of this contributes to vaccine hesitancy.
Despite understanding these issues I chose to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca vaccine, even before the European Medicines Agency gave it the green light regarding rare thromboembolic events. The reason I ignored the chances of a blood clot was because the odds are minuscule compared to the chances of dying if I were to contract serious Covid disease. I was also aware of a recent study published on the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine against the South African strain which showed it gave only 29% protection, but I was not too bothered by this study because I understood what is being measured. Researchers normally compare whether a vaccine can prevent Covid completely, whether there is mild disease, or there is severe disease and death. Therefore when we hear that a vaccine is only 29% effective, the outcome they are reporting is usually absolute prevention. In the study on the South African strain some people developed mild disease, but there were no reported deaths. So if I am vaccinated I may get mild disease from the South African variant but I will not die.
Covid has shown many of the characteristics of the influenza virus, in that it is more severe in cold climates (and in wet seasons) and is more life threatening for older people. Kenya is now experiencing its third wave of Covid, with exceptionally high rates of infection in Nairobi. We have been spared an upsurge over the past few months, but we will likely experience another increase in April due to the wet season. In the northern hemisphere there is a recognized ‘flue season’ which occurs every winter, and because influenza is more serious in older people a flue jab has been developed which is given to the older more vulnerable population every winter. The reason that we need to vaccinate 60 to 70% of the population is to develop herd immunity and prevent Covid taking hold like the influenza virus. If we fail in this, then Covid will continue to mutate and we will need to develop new vaccinations every year.
Therefore. there are two reasons to be vaccinated against Covid. The first is to protect oneself, especially if there are co-morbidities or one is older, and the second is to develop herd immunity, which will protect the whole community. Many Ugandans do not see why they need to protect themselves, but if enough people do not take the vaccine we will not reach herd immunity.
If Africans do not take up the vaccine en mass, then Covid is likely to become endemic in Africa, with many African variants developing – Africa will then become the ‘Home of Covid’ which is the last thing we need. So if we are to defeat Covid we should all be lining up for our vaccine, young and old, black and white. We need to understand that vaccination is for the good of us all.
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Covid-19 vaccine is a gift to humanity, says VP Ssekandi as he receives his first jab
Uganda Vice President Edward Kiwanuka Ssekandi has described the Covid-19 vaccine as gift to humanity that will decrease of the severity of the pandemic in the whole world.
The Vice President was on Monday receiving his first Covid 19 jab from his office that was administered to him by Principal Nursing officer in the Ministry of Health, Emily Cheptoek, assisted by Lanyero Christine, a Laboratory Technician.
The team was led by Dr. Driwale Alfred, Programme Director Uganda National Expanded Programme on Immunisation and who doubles as Assistant Commissioner Vaccines and Immunisation and Dr. Ssenyonjo Godfrey, Senior medical officer.
The Vice President who was first briefed by Dr. Driwale on possible side effects after taking the vaccine first signed the vaccination consent form and urged all Ugandans to freely turn up and get vaccinated.
Ssekandi said that Covid 19, is real and still impacts negatively on economies of many countries.
He commended the health workers for their courtesy and hospitality while administering the vaccine in a professional and friendly manner.
Dr. Driwale said that basing on new evidence on the efficacy of the vaccine, it is advisable to take the second jab after three months period after the first jab.
He said that all Ugandans vaccinated will be entered in a national database and will be issued with non forgeable certificates carrying a government seal.
The officials from the Ministry of Health also vaccinated other senior officials in the Office of the Vice President led by the Deputy Principal Private Secretary, Vincent Kityamuwesi Musubire among others.
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COVID-19: Nigeria records 104 new cases, 7 deaths, more recoveries
In a bid to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation, a surveillance team has been set up in various communities across Ekiti State to checkmate the old practice for possible eradication.
Ekiti was rated second in the country with the highest number of FGM practice.
Following the recent indices, the Ekiti State Government imposed a stringent penalty against perpetrators of FGM and promulgated a law that stipulated a fine of N200.000 fine or one-year imprisonment for offenders of FGM.
In an attempt to complement and tow the line of government in tackling the menace, a Non-Governmental Organization under the aegis of New Generation Girls and Women Development Initiative (NIGAWD) set up a Surveillance Team in the grassroots across Ekiti to monitor and sensitize people on the need to abandon the practice of Female Genital Mutilation(FGM).
NIGAWD had organized a one-day event to review activities of the team at Efon Alaye, Efon Local Government Area of Ekiti State.
At the event supported by the United Nations Population Fund, the Executive Director of NIGAWD, Mrs Abimbola Aladejare-Salako explained that the event was organized to analyse the activities of the surveillance team in the community.
She said, “The Team was created last year and charged with the responsibility of monitoring activities on FGM in Efon. For instance, if they notice a pregnant woman in their environs, they monitor the woman till she gives birth, they would find out the gender of the baby, if it’s a girl, the surveillance team must educate, sensitize the parent and ensure the baby is not mutilated.
Aladejare explained that a booklet is given to the team to record their activities including notification about any household where they perceive FGM, to enable the government take decisive actions on the perpetrators,
“FGM is dangerous to the girl child, last year we trained some people to move from one place to the other and educate people on the dangers of FGM but we discovered it was not enough, looking at the influence of customs and tradition, that’s why we come up with the idea of a Surveillance Team. The team is present in all communities across the state.
‘This event is organized to find out how far the team has gone in performing the roles assigned to them, how many people have they spoken to, we want to know the FGM practitioners who have retraced their steps and those who are adamant in the dangerous practice so they can face justice before the government.
“Ekiti was rated highest in the practice of FGM in the South West and second in the country, this is why the practice must be nipped in the bud, so by the time the Federal Ministry of Health comes around for assessment, we want the practice to have reduced drastically in Ekiti, it is hazardous, we don’t want to waste the life of anybody anymore
Aladejare, however, noted that the NIGAWD is not saddled with the responsibility of arresting FGM practitioners but “the NGO is to encourage them to stop the practice, and feedback from the surveillance team is crucial in doing this.
Participant at the event narrated their encounters and success stories.on the field.
Mr Eleyinmi Johnson Adebola, Mrs Adeniyi Bolaji, Comrade Oladapo Adebodun, Olaniran Ajibola, Kayode Oluwaseyi and Chief Mrs Funmilayo Ayegbusi explained that despite all efforts and sensitizations, some people still believe in the old practice, they, however, said that success stories in Efon community amount to 80% as “many practitioners have shunned FGM and are now focused on farming and reasonable activities for earning their living”
The NIGAWD Executive Director, Aladejare tasked the team on regular follow-ups to record more success stories and to give adequate feedback to the NGO.
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OPL 245: Italy ruling can’t save oil giants from trial in Nigeria, global group writes Buhari
The partial freedom granted oil giants by Italian courts in the celebrated OPL 245 corruption case will not stop the prosecution of the accused in Nigeria, a foremost global anti-corruption coalition has said.
In a letter addressed to President Muhammad Buhari, the world acclaimed anti-corruption coalition said Nigeria should press on with the corruption charges and should not be cowed by any bully tactics of the oil giants who may see the Italy ruling as a shield.
The coalition’s petition was signed by Luca Manes of Re:Common, Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House, Olanrewaju Suraju of Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) and Simon Taylor, Global of Witness.
Eni, Shell and some Nigerian officials were involved in backwater dealings involving billions of illicit funds embezzled.
The Milan Tribunal ruled on 17 March 2021 that the 13 defendants in OPL 245 international corruption trial had no case to answer. But there are prospects of an appeal in Italy.
The coalition said it understands that the Milan Public Prosecutor’s Office will likely appeal the verdict.
It said unlike in Nigeria and other common law jurisdictions, Italian law does not permit judges to convict on the basis of circumstantial evidence.
The group recalled that the recent Supreme Court rulings have set the bar for international corruption so high that a conviction is difficult unless there is naked evidence of a bribe being paid, captured on camera or on tape.
“We fear that the OPL 245 case may have fallen at this hurdle, despite the voluminous evidence submitted by the Prosecutor as to the knowledge of Shell and Eni that bribes would be paid; that the Resolution Agreements were designed by the two companies to use the Federal Government of Nigeria as a shield to protect themselves from making direct payments to Etete; and the meticulous tracing of where the payments ended up”
The coalition said because of the differences between legal systems in Italy and Nigeria, no “double jeopardy” agreement exists between the two countries, hence, Eni, Shell, Etete, Abubakar and several others who were charged in Milan are also being prosecuted in Nigeria.
“We are aware of mischievous, self-serving calls in press from allies of those being charged that the Nigerian prosecutions should be dropped on the basis that Milan has found no case to answer. These calls must be rejected. Italy is not in charge of Nigeria’s justice system. The judges in Nigeria must be allowed to hear the cases and to judge them on the basis of Nigerian law. Indeed, the world is now watching the Nigerian prosecutions,” it said.
The group said the judgment of the international community, already alarmed by the dismal Italian ruling, is likely to be harsh were Nigeria to drop the cases, given the strength of the evidence amassed by the EFCC.
“The need to put the Milan judgment into perspective is all the more urgent given allegations that the trial may have been polluted. The Milan Prosecutor sought to admit a statement by Piero Amara, a former outside counsel for Eni, that Eni had conducted surveillance of the prosecutors, key witnesses and the judges in order to discredit witnesses or gain an advantage in the trial”
The anti-corruption group said the full transcript of Amara’s statement was not made public, that large parts were blacked out and the judges refused to admit the evidence.
It noted that an Italian newspaper has now reported on the blacked out parts of the statement, which reportedly allege that Eni’s lawyer had “preferential” access to OPL 245 judges.
“The allegations were investigated by the Italian authorities but were dismissed after Eni denied them. If true, Amara’s allegations would constitute strong grounds for a retrial. We therefore urge Nigeria, as the victim in the case, to demand that the full text of Amara’s evidence is made public so that the Nigerian public – and the wider international community – can be satisfied that there was nothing untoward in the conduct of the trial.”
It applauded the stance of Buhari in his letter to Eni of 14 June 2018, in which he stated that there should be no decision on whether or not to award an OML to the companies until extant prosecutions were complete.
“We urge you to hold the line and to resist siren calls for negotiations with Eni and Shell in the wake of the Milan trial. We believe that the companies should respect the prosecutorial process in Nigeria and should not use a judgment in Italy to bully Nigeria into making concessions that undermine the rule of domestic law.
It said recent arbitration cases filed with ICSID by both companies claiming unsubstantiated and exaggerated damages are a confirmation of their bullying and not respectful attitude towards the Nigerian government and people.
“We as civil society organisations and partners in the promotion of accountability in the extractive sector are in solidarity with the Nigerian Government and Italian Prosecutors in ensuring justice is delivered in this and other relevant cases” it said.
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We have to go for gold in Cameroon, Says Super Eagles striker Paul Onuachu
Super Eagles and GENK striker Paul Onuachu says Nigeria can win the next Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon next year.
The Super Eagles’ place in the competition was confirmed on Saturday, shortly before they edged the Benin Republic 1-0 at the Stade Charles De Gaulle in Port Novo.
Onuachu was the hero as he came off the bench to scored the winning goal in the 93rd minute against the Squirrels, but the goalless draw between Lesotho and Sierra Leone in the other Group L fixture in Maseru means the result against the Benin Republic is inconsequential.
Gernot Rohr’s men finished third at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, but the KRC Genk forward who is excited breaks his duck against the Squirrels believes they can two-step further in Cameroon.
“It’s a lot of confidence for a striker to score and I’m very happy. We just have to go there (to the AFCON) and take the gold,” he said in a video shared via Super Eagles social media handle after the game.
If you use the quotes from this content, you legally agree to give www.brila.net the News credit as the source and a backlink to our story. Copyright 2020 Brila Media.
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Cargo ship stuck in Egypt’s Suez Canal affects shipping worldwide
Efforts to dislodge one of the world’s largest container vessels that has choked traffic along the Suez Canal have resumed at high tide, with five tugs working to drag the vessel to deeper water, according to ship-tracking data.
Marine services firm GAC issued a note to clients overnight on Wednesday, saying efforts to free the vessel using tug boats continued, but that wind conditions and the sheer size of the vessel “were hindering the operation”.
The Panama-flagged Ever Given ran aground diagonally across the single-lane stretch of the southern canal on Tuesday morning after losing the ability to steer amid high winds and a dust storm, the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) said in a statement.
It is now blocking transit in both directions through one of the world’s busiest shipping channels for goods, oil, grain and other products linking Asia and Europe, affecting billions of dollars worth of cargo.
So far, dredgers have tried to clear silt from around the massive ship. Ship-tracking software shows five tugs surrounding the Ever Given and three more heading towards it. On the shore, at least one backhoe could be seen digging into the canal’s sandy banks, suggesting the bow of the ship had ploughed into it.
The ship’s GPS signal shows only minor changes to its position over the past 24 hours.
150 ships waiting for the blockage to clear
Several dozen vessels, including other large container ships, tankers carrying oil and gas, and bulk vessels hauling grain are waiting backed up at either end of the canal, creating one of the worst shipping jams seen in years.
Roughly 30 percent of the world’s daily shipping container volume transits through the 193km (120-mile) Suez Canal, and about 12 percent of total global trade of all goods.
Canal service provider Leth Agencies said at least 150 ships were waiting for the Ever Given to be cleared, including vessels near Port Said on the Mediterranean Sea, and the port of Suez on the Red Sea and those already stuck in the canal system on Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake.
Cargo ships already behind the Ever Given in the canal will be reversed south back to Suez to free up the channel, Leth Agencies said. Authorities hope to do the same with the Ever Given when they can free it.
Shipping experts say that if the blockage does not look likely to be cleared within the next 24 to 48 hours, some shipping firms may be forced to re-route vessels around the southern tip of Africa, which would add roughly a week to their journey.
But the chairman of the Suez Canal Authority told media that despite the blockage, some cargo was able to move south and that efforts to dislodge Ever given would continue.
Oil, gas shipments affected
Tuesday marked the second major incident involving the Ever Given in recent years. In 2019, the cargo ship ran into a small ferry moored on the Elbe River in the German port city of Hamburg. Authorities at the time blamed strong wind for the collision, which severely damaged the ferry.
The closure could affect oil and gas shipments to Europe from the Middle East, which rely on the canal to avoid sailing around Africa. The price of international benchmark Brent crude stood at more than $63 a barrel on Thursday.
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo. It also remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. In 2015, the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest vessels. However, the Ever Given ran aground south of that new portion.
The stranding of the container ship marks just the latest incident to affect mariners amid the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands have been stuck on board vessels due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, demands on shipping have increased, adding to the pressure on tired sailors.
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Girl, 11 drowns in Bugubelle dam in Tumu
An eleven-year-old class four pupil of the Bugubelle Basic School, Miss Rafatu Bayi was drown, after she went to wash her clothes at the Bugubelle dam on Tuesday.
An eyewitness told the Ghana News Agency that, Bayi went to the dam in the company of her friends to wash their clothes when the incident occurred in the Bugubelle dam in the Sissala East Municipality.
One of the survivors said after washing their clothes and were waiting for the clothes to dry, the deceased and her friends attempted sailing with a broken down canoe that had been abandoned at the dam site.
According to the witness when they got on board the canoe, little did they know that it had holes in it and as they begun to sail, it started collecting water and those who knew how to swim jumped out leaving Bayi to her fate.
A search team from the community searched in vain for her until the next day, March 23, 2021 when her body was found floating at the banks of the dam.
She has since been buried according to Islamic tradition.
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COVID-19: Nigeria records seven more deaths
Daily deaths from COVID-19 in Nigeria seem to be resurging after almost two weeks of low figures as seven people died from the disease on Sunday.
The seven deaths on Sunday raised the fatalities in the country to 2,048 in total.
This is according to an update published by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) Sunday night.
In continuation of a steady run of low infection figures, the country recorded 104 new cases under 24-hours, one of the lowest daily figures this year.
The new figure which is slightly higher than the 101 cases recorded a day earlier raised the total number of infections in the West African nation to 162,593.
In the past one week, daily infections have fallen below 300.
Also, a total of 150,308 people have recovered after treatment while about 11, 000 infections are still active in the country.
The 104 new cases were reported from 12 states – Lagos (48), Enugu (16), Kwara (8), Kaduna (6), Plateau (5), Kano (5), Rivers (4), FCT(4), Ogun (4), Edo (2), Ekiti (1) and Katsina (1).
Lagos had the highest figure with 48 new cases on Sunday followed by Enugu and Kwara with 16 and 8 new cases respectively.
Since the pandemic broke out in Nigeria in February last year, the country has carried out over 1.7 million tests.
Nigeria has vaccinated over 500,000 people with the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines the country received almost four million doses of in early March.
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Egypt inaugurates 1st archaeological replicas factory in Middle East
Egypt’s Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Khaled El-Anani has inaugurated the first factory of archaeological replicas in the country and the Middle East.
The factory, which is located in Obour City, eastern Cairo, has been established in cooperation with the Treasures of Egypt for Archaeological Models company.
The minister described the factory’s opening as an important step that had to be taken, and expressed his pride and great happiness for the completion of this ambitious and successful project.
El-Anani said that construction work on the project began about 18 months ago, and aims to keep pace with the requirements of the local and global market in the manufacture of archaeological models.
Replicas, which will be made by Egyptian artists and specialists boasting extensive experience and competence, will be produced at the highest level and using distinguished technical expertise.
The minister said that the project is not commercial, but rather aims to introduce Egyptian industry to the world. It also aims to contribute to protecting Egyptian cultural heritage and the intellectual property rights of the country’s antiquities.
He added that this comes as part of the work on the state’s strategy for sustainable development and enhancing the utilisation of Egypt’s rich ancient civilisation and archaeological heritage.
It will take place in a way that meets Egypt’s tourism and economic needs, with a positive and unique cultural return and Egyptian identity. It will also work to develop the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities’ material resources and increase national income.
El-Anani noted that every replica produced at the factory bears a special Supreme Council of Antiquities stamp, and an approved certificate stating that it is a counterfeit piece and a true copy and produced by the Ministry.
This is in addition to a barcode, through which all information on this piece can be identified in Arabic and English. The information includes details of materials used, the product’s weight, name and place of display of the original piece, which contributes to protecting the unit’s products from counterfeiting.
The minister said that archaeological reproductions are among the important products that are marketed in the tourism sector, reflecting the importance of these archaeological models and the world’s interest in them.
El-Anani said that the production of such replicas in Egypt comes in response to requests made by tourists, who frequently purchase such items as souvenirs
The Egyptian-made replicas will become valuable souvenirs bearing the Egyptian state stamp, which Egyptians abroad can give as gifts outside the country.
He added that these copies will be made available to various hotels and tourist bazaars at special prices, and that the factory can also manufacture for museums around the world due to the efficiency of the Egyptian workforce.
El-Anani announced that the first official sales outlet for these reproductions will be opened at the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization on 4 April, after the museum officially opens.
The minister said that official sales outlets for these reproductions will be available at museums and markets across Egypt in the near future, which will contribute to promoting Egyptian industry.
He added that some products will also be exported outside Egypt, in addition to their participation in foreign tourism exhibitions.
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2021 AfconQ: Ghana look to end campaign with Sao Tome win
Ghana will face off with Sao Tome and Principe in the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualification Group C match at the Ohene Djan Sports Stadium in Accra on Sunday.
The Black Stars booked their place in the finals after drawing 1-1 with South Africa away in their most recent Group C game which was played on Thursday.
The Black Stars are sitting at the top of the group standings – level on points with second-placed South Africa and a point above third-placed Sudan, but the Black Stars have a superior head-to-head record over both teams.
However, coach Charles Akonnor’s side has been boosted by the arrival of three key players in Thomas Partey, Jordan Ayew and Andre Ayew ahead of their clash with Sao Tome.
“Captain Andre Ayew, vice-captain Thomas Partey and striker Jordan Ayew have joined the Black Stars ahead of the game against São Tomé and Principe.
“The three England-based players missed the game against South Africa due to issues related to the Covid-19 pandemic as the rainbow country has been declared a Covid-19 risk zone by the World Health Organisation.
“The trio trained with the rest of the squad on Friday, at Accra Sports Stadium as the team began preparation for the final Group C Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against São Tomé and Principe,” a Ghana Football Association statement read.
Meanwhile, Sao Tome’s hopes of qualifying for the next year’s tournament have long diminished and they are coming off a 2-0 defeat to Sudan at home in a Group C game on Wednesday.
The Falcons and True Parrots place fourth in the group standings without a single point having lost all five of their matches in Group C.
Adriano Eusebio, the Sao Tome head coach, named 11 overseas-based players in his squad for their clashes with Sudan and Ghana with Belenenses SAD starlet Ricardo Cardoso being part of the team.
“I have considered the importance of these games and I decided to call up 11 players from abroad and 15 from local championships,” Eusebio said.
The previous encounter between Ghana and Sao Tome was on 18 November 2019.
Ghana claimed a 1-0 victory over Sao Tome in the 2022 AFCON qualifier Group C game at the Estadio Nacional 12 de Julho in Sao Tome.
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Interview: Nigeria’s fashion industry is worth billions of dollars
Sharon Ojong describes herself as a creative griffin who wears different hats. She is a stylist, creative director, brand consultant, tv producer, writer and an entrepreneur.
But all these come at a cost – Long hours of work.
“A typical day for me starts from 7am and possibly ends at 12am,” she says while narrating how she spends each day to stay on top of multiple industries.
Sharon turned 35 on Thursday, and she expresses her gratitude to her friends, family and an 11 years of success in the industry with awards to brag, READ excerpts of her interview with NewsWireNGR’s Oladele Owodina .
I’m thankful for life, family, friends, love, and where I am.
A creative to me is someone who expresses themselves in a way that is unique, it’s different, it’s also bringing solutions to the table as well. Creative also can be someone who can take nothing and make it something.
I identify as a creative with my business, I’ve been able to start a fashion business where I’m going to be the creative director. I handle the day-to-day activities. I also handle creative design from designing to production to distribution as well to even branding and to everything.
So a creative covers multiple areas. That’s if I’m to say so myself.
My most memorable childhood moment would have to be sitting in the parlour with my brothers, my sisters and my family and my dad and having conversations growing up. I’ll really never forget those moments, and I really cherish them now. At a time we felt this is all that it was as a teenager but the older I get, I realize that those conversations helped shape the woman I have become today. And for me to remember most of the things we used to have conversations today means they are stuck to my memory till date.
A normal typical day for me is I get up in the morning, the first thing I do is I pray. I try to workout. After working out, I try. I say I try because some days; I get out of bed and I just don’t want to even lift up my body but I always ensure that the first thing I do is I pray; I get ready for work. Work is for me, is bringing a design to life every day. So on Sundays, I’m also a producer, I’m a tv producer. I’m a fashion stylist, I’m an entrepreneur, I’m also a creative director and I’m an independent creative as well. So you can hire me for any of these things. Even though I have my own brand, my own company, I’m also independent that you can work with independently.
So a typical day for me sometimes can also depend on what project or what I have been booked for the day. So some days I’m booked as a stylist, some days I’m booked as a costume designer, some days I’m booked as a tv producer. So after my workout, I get to work on what the project of the day is like and usually the type of work that we do always; we find ourselves going home in the middle of the night, late nights and early mornings. So a typical day for me starts from 7am and possibly ends at 12am. So let’s just say 12. It has become a norm for us to end by that time. And that’s because when it comes to the thing that we do, even if it’s styling/production or I’m producing things happen. This is Nigeria and anything can just happen to you.
My most radical change from childhood to Adulthood has to be (laughs) I think it has to be going to a university outside of school and then having to understand that education is all I needed and I had to do all I had to do to be in that school. I had to switch schools at some point from the University of Calabar to the University of Abuja. Then back again from the University of Abuja to the University of Calabar. I switched schools, and it was very radical for me at that moment if I remember; it was very radical.
Fashion means everything. I believe like everyone has a purpose, everybody has the idea of what they want to be and who they want to be. Fashion has been what I’ve always wanted to be. Like I’ve never really understood what exactly in fashion I’ll like to be but I found myself from childhood, being in fashion, being engulfed around fashion, being very focused on what it is to be a fashion professional. I’ve always wanted to be a fashion professional. So fashion to me, when I say fashion is everything, I mean my people talk about fashion; they talk about cloth and accessories and I think about the material things. But when I say fashion is everything, it means like if you look around you, everything is fashioned in a particular type of form or manner or shape. So you can see something as random as a standing fan and you know like I said as a creative I can create an outfit inspired by that standing fan. So when I say fashion is in everything, it means that I can see fashion in pretty much everything. I’ve always loved fashion and I’ve always believed that I have a place and purpose in fashion and that’s what I’ve been chasing forever.
My style is versatile. When people ask me like you know what do you think you’re going to wear to the wedding on Saturday? I have no idea what I’m going to wear to a wedding on Saturday. I really don’t plan my outfits. I get up, I dress, I mix and match. I love to creatively dress up. So I love to mix and match. I love to try out things. I love to see if it works. If it doesn’t work, how it can work. I also just love to be versatile. Today you can find me in an edgy outfit. Tomorrow, you can find me in a sleek outfit. Next tomorrow you can find me in a sexy outfit and next tomorrow you find me in a covered up outfit. And the next day you can see me in just pretty much jeans and a t-shirt. So my style is versatile, my aura is also versatile. I would say that it is versatile because I’m multi-talented and I’m also like I have to show myself up at different places as a different person.
It has always been fashion or nothing. I mean 2020; I got to a place in 2020 where I thought about it, is fashion really it for me? Because as we all experienced, 2020 was a tragedy. I mean like you know the fashion industry suffered, and it’s still suffering a huge loss in terms of customers. In terms of buyers, in terms of exchanges, exports, imports, materials, fabrics and sourcing all of these things. So I had a doubt for a second in 2020. But I’ve always known that it’s fashion or nothing. And it’s always going to be fashion or nothing.
The Nigerian fashion industry is on a rise. On a scale of 5-10 globally, the Nigerian fashion industry is currently at 6. If I’ll say 6.5. We are growing. Few years ago, we were definitely at 2. But we’ve seen the industry evolve and we’ve seen 6.5 over ten. We are still growing, 6.5 is above average. We are definitely above average because we have a culture; we have an entirely different vision of what fashion is here in Africa. So the fashion industry, especially in Nigeria, the fashion industry in Nigeria, I’ll rate it to 6.5.
What has fascinated me most about the industry is the change. I’m fascinated by the fact that one minute is the millennials are topping the game and the next minute, the Gen-Z who are topping the fashion game as well.I’ve been in the industry for 11 years now. I’ve also experienced, I’ve seen how the fashion industry has evolved over the years and it’s growing. I’ve also seen how people are beginning to accept our own natural made in Nigeria product. Our natural made in Nigeria fabric. I’ve also seen how our designers have evolved. The top designers today have evolved and the industry as a whole has evolved. So I mean that really fascinates me, I mean when I think about the next ten years, what it’s going to be like for the fashion industry in Nigeria. I’m blown away because I know how talented we are.
I think the major challenge that the fashion industry faces is production. If that is solved, that will go a long way for a lot of creatives and designers in Nigeria. I think there are prospects. The fashion industry is worth billions of naira, it can be worth more. Billions of dollars too as well. It can be worth more if I mean the government or the people or private individuals can invest into the production like fabric production to processing, to even after-use like reducing waste as well. Like there is prospect there are a lot of opportunities for the fashion industry to grow and make more money.
Pandemic. As I mentioned earlier, the pandemic made me think for a second do I need to switch industry? How do I go out of the fashion industry? Nobody wants to buy clothes now, people are not thinking about what they are going to wear, they are thinking about how they should eat. At that point everywhere was shut down. At that point, I think it’s time for me to push for another career. So 2020 tempted me to think about it.
Music. Music and (laughs), what came to my mind was alerts. Music and alerts.
On my sad days, when I feel sad, I play music. Music is my drug. It’s food to my soul. It makes me happy. It gets me out of any mood. What I also do is I, when I realise that I am sad because I’m an over thinker and I begin to think about why I’m sad or why I’m not sad or why I’m not happy. The moment I realise that I have started overthinking, I call myself back and I try to do something that makes me happy. I play music; I go into the studio and try to think of a new design. I mean I just do something that is in fashion too because fashion makes me happy.
If I was locked in a room doing one particular thing for months, I think whatever it is I am doing, it would be, it has to be something that would give me access to the internet and my computer. And if I have access to the internet and my computer, and I was locked in a room to do just one particular thing, I’m, it’s between two things for me. It’s between money and education really and truly. I’ll find ways to make money from my bed and or I would find something to read about, study about, and get myself more educated about.
I think it would be healing. I would love the gift of healing. My special power would be to heal people. I hate to see people hurt. I hate to see people sick. Let me not call it hate. It makes me really sad; it touches me deeply, and it really hurts me. When I see people that are hurt and they are dying or are in pain or you know they need help. Sometimes they don’t have money to go to the hospital, sometimes it’s poverty, I wish I could get a healing power to heal the people who are sick. So yeah.
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How Lions Are Transported By Plane In South Africa
Here’s something airplane related that’s totally random, but kind of cool.
The Bateleurs is a non-profit company in South Africa that recently transported some Kalahari lions, which are known for being the largest lions in Africa. Three of them were recently flown from Khamab Kalahari Reserve to Mabula Game Reserve, with the intent of increasing genetic diversity and reducing population sub-division across lion populations.
The lions each weighed roughly 200kg, and together the three of them were flown on a Pilatus PC-12 between the two reserves. In addition to the pilots, there was also a doctor in the cabin to monitor the animals.
Here are some pictures of the lions being loaded onto the plane:
Obviously I’m no expert on the transport of lions, or on the benefit of transferring lions between reserves, for that matter. While this doesn’t look particularly comfortable, it ultimately seems like they’re trying their best with a very difficult situation, and it’s cool to see how stuff like this is done.
I did love the safari I went on in South Africa a couple of years ago, including my flight on a Pilatus PC-12.
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Ortom celebrates Benue indigene for emerging best graduating student in UNICAL
Kogi State Polytechnic in Lokoja has banned the end-of-examination celebration on its campuses to forestall a breakdown of law and order.
Rector, Salisu Ogbo Usman, announced this in a statement on Sunday.
Usman disclosed that the management’s decision followed information about planned violent cult activities.
The Rector recalled that examination celebration used to be about handshakes, hugging and responsible merriments devoid of social upheavals.
He said events in recent years are the opposite with students mixing dirty or clean water with soap, kerosene and other chemicals to pour on their colleagues.
Usman said the worst of all was how students openly display their respective cult groups through what they term “flying of colour.”
The official said cult groups are invited from other institutions and places for the handing over of batons of leadership and celebration of their “successes”.
“Worst still, the celebrations have taken a more dangerous dimension that students now mark End-of-Examinations with gunshots on campus in the company of their respective cult groups,” he said.
Usman cited the cases of sporadic gunshots at the end of examination in 2019 as part of a show of strength.
He said cultists entered the school with guns looking for a particular lecturer, adding that a student was killed at the back of the Matriculation Ground.
The Rector added that some cult groups were seeking to avenge that murder by using the end-of-examination celebration as a launchpad.
“We have also been informed that some external mercenaries and old students, who are suspected leaders of rival cult groups, have been invited and have been around for the past 5 days rehearsing the execution of their plan.”
Usman assured that the management was working closely with relevant security agencies to arrest the suspects.
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Q&A With Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest) CEO, Moses Ikiara
Moses Ikiara, the Managing Director at Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), responded to questions from the public via Sunday Nation.
How is KenInvest helping counties to be mega-investment hubs? Hassan Malik Mohamed, Garissa County
Counties are teeming with attractive investment opportunities and therefore have what it takes to be mega hubs but the opportunities have to be systematically identified and packaged. The government, through KenInvest, launched the Kenya Investment Policy (KIP) in 2019 to address investors’ concerns relating to tedious investment processes, lengthy dispute resolution timelines, inadequate information on investment opportunities and procedures, among others. KIP is a comprehensive and harmonised policy to guide attraction, facilitation, retention, monitoring, and evaluation of private investment.
There are other ways in which KenInvest is working with the counties to boost investment hubs, including by encouraging and advising them to set up explicit and effective County Investment Units (CUIS) which will act like “mini KenInvest”, advising counties on how to identify and package investment opportunities and market their investment opportunities to local and international investors.
What is the authority doing to create a better investment environment for young people? Komen Moris, Eldoret
We have developed a concept known as “Investing Made Easy Business Clinics,” which aims at helping aspiring entrepreneurs and startups walk their investment journeys from idea generation, packaging to implementation. Moreover, KenInvest has always involved MSMEs in investment forums, conferences as well as business-to-business meetings and offered linkage opportunities both nationally and internationally in collaboration with local and development partners. The national government has further bolstered the support for MSMEs by putting in place Biashara Centres, an infrastructure that is meant to provide a one-stop centre experience for MSMEs.
Isn’t it time to merge KenInvest with other State institutions that have more or less similar mandates? I have in mind Kenya Tourism Board, Kentrade and Brand Kenya. Masai Mandela
A Presidential Task Force on Parastatal Reforms was established with the responsibility of interrogating the policies on the management and governance of Kenya’s parastatals and how best they would contribute to national development.
One of the recommendations of the taskforce was to merge key government agencies with mandates to promote exports, investment and tourism. The amalgamation of those entities was expected to play a significant role in building the capacity of Kenya’s export products, tourism and investment portfolio to the world market thereby contributing to the country brand and economic growth. So far, two of the initially targeted institutions have already been merged, the Export Promotion Council and Brand Kenya Board.
While mergers can deliver enhanced efficiency and effectiveness, it is necessary but not sufficient. Ireland for example has two government agencies doing what KenInvest is doing. One of them focuses on foreign direct investment and the other one domestic investment. Each of them has more than five times the staffing level KenInvest has and a much larger budget.
The outcome is that out of every 100 multinationals, at least 80 have a presence in Dublin. Thus, with or without the merger, critical factors for success are adequate budget and also an institutional architecture that ensures effective coordination of institutions relevant for delivery of each mandate.
The high cost of doing business in Kenya has been cited as one of the major reasons that scare foreign investors. What should be done to check on this trend? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
The high cost of doing business is a genuine concern. However, the issue remains a top priority for the government and progress is being made to resolve it. Moreover, the country has other factors helping to compensate for the relatively higher costs in some of the areas. Kenya has a market-based economy and is the economic, commercial, and logistics hub of East and Central Africa. With the strongest industrial base in the region, and much higher labour productivity compared to many other countries, Kenya has been successful in attracting multinationals. The average annual FDI inflow into our country around year 2000-2002 was $0.4 billion. Ten years later, around 2010-2012, this had grown to $1 billion and further to $1.4 billion around 2017-2019.
Because of the importance of land as a factor of production to all investors, the government has set up a number of Export Processing Zones and Special Economic Zones where the government undertakes infrastructure development to attract investors by reducing the cost of land. Further, the zones are also linked with key transport infrastructures like roads and railways.
Local investors face a myriad of challenges including lack of capital, technical support, market, poor prices for their goods and services, flooding of counterfeits and unfair competition by foreign investors. Can the government help them overcome these challenges? Dan Murugu, Nakuru
The government has prioritised the elimination of counterfeits and has deployed a multi-agency approach to deal with the menace. Since the establishment of this team working closely with the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA), the reported cases of illicit goods entering the country has greatly reduced.
Regarding competition being faced by smaller segments of the business sector, innovative programmes such as preferential procurement by government agencies in favour of enterprises ran by women, youth and people living with disability, promotion of local content and Buy Kenya Build Kenya (BKBK), and identification of almost 200 categories of products that will be promoted domestically, are evidence of supporting public policy.
It is disappointing that KenInvest still tells investors to rely on a 2013 Regulation of Wages Order when so much has changed in the economy. This could be abused by investors to exploit Kenyan workers. What is your take on this? Susan Amondi, Ngong’
The government, as required by the Labour Institutions Act, 2007, publishes the Regulation of Wages Order that sets out minimum wages. Investors tend to add a premium of 20 per cent to this. One of the labour market reforms that the government has sought to achieve over time is to remove market rigidities and other impediments to employment creation.
Specifically, the government has been aiming to align wage determination to labour productivity. Kenya’s industrial relations machinery provides for collective bargaining between employers and trade unions. The agreements have staggered long-term contracts, conditions of employment, fringe benefits and union membership drives.
Nevertheless, Kenya ranks quite highly globally (top 60-70) on labour market flexibility and this, combined with high labour productivity and work culture, enhances our attractiveness to investors. In my opinion, we have a reasonable balance where there are structures to guard against exploitation of workers while also providing labour market flexibility for investors to cope with changing business realities.
What are you doing to ease procedures of obtaining licences and other documents related to investment by foreigners who intend to come to Kenya? Shariff Mohamed, Thika Town
The government has set up a One Stop Centre (OSC) at KenInvest with the following agencies under one roof: National Environmental Management Authority; Export Processing Zones Authority; Special Zones Authority; Department of Immigration; Kenya Revenue Authority; Business Registration Services and Kenya Power. This is to help reduce costs of establishing new investment.
How are you helping small enterprises to navigate the Covid-19 disruption? Davis Basweti Ombane, Juja
At the height of the pandemic, we played our role by contributing to the design of economic stimulus packages and the Covid-19 Response Guides that were crucial in assisting businesses to navigate the pandemic period. Moreover, a number of counties have partnered with KenInvest to generate Post-Covid Recovery Strategies and Implementation Plans, economic blueprints that seek to position MSMEs on the path of economic recovery.
What investment opportunities have you marketed in the past five years and what has been the response both from internal and external investors? Virginia Nthenya, Nairobi
From 2016-2020, KenInvest has been able to facilitate 1,089 projects with proposed foreign capital investment worth Sh470.39 billion and local capital investment worth Sh116.26 billion. The proposed investment has the potential to create employment to 67,580 Kenyans.
The investments were mainly in construction, manufacturing, energy, services, wholesale and retail trade, tourism, agriculture and education. It is not professional to mention specific companies without their consent.
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Big Interview: ‘Some people are trying to use Uganda Law Society to fight their political wars’
The Uganda Law Society (ULS), a body that brings together lawyers in the country, has variously been described as an elite group of lawyers whose only objective is to fleece unsuspecting members of the public in the guise of offering them legal services.
In an interview, the president of ULS, Pheona Nabasa Wall disputed this view and explained to us some of the challenges they face including lawyers who are being persecuted and prosecuted for doing their work, unethical conduct, and lawyers trying to politicise the society among others. Excerpts below.
Lawyers are perceived as crooks in the public. What are you doing to change this image?
We have two problems that I would like to explain. We have people that have studied some law, maybe they have done an undergraduate diploma in law or maybe they have done a law degree but are not advocates.
Those people, because they are not regulated by the law council, are often in dirty dealings after they pretend to be advocates and then they reach somewhere in the process of their work then they don’t finish their work because they are not actually advocates.
That’s is why recently the court said that you have to present a Practicing Certificate before your case can go on.
Are these the lawyers who are known to disappear with clients money?
These are the people who behave badly with client’s money because they know no one will hold them accountable. First of all, I would like to call upon the general public to insist that a lawyer shows you his/her practicing certificate so that you are able to know that you are dealing with an advocate.
The second thing that causes problems sometime is that of course every profession has some elements that are criminal. There are some elements that are unethical and on that issue, we are now strengthening our ethics and disciplinary committee as the law society.
We also have the law council that disciplines lawyers. In case you have lawyers who have stolen your money you can always report them. I want to assure the general public that advocates are accountable to the law council that is highly regulated and if you have a problem please complain to the law council.
How have you helped these young lawyers to overcome such temptations?
We are training our young lawyers to make them understand and separate between normal transaction and illicit financial flows. We are also training lawyers to learn to avoid temptations because careers are lifetime achievements.
We are calling upon the public to stop calling us crooks when they expect us to do shady things.They should expect us to be straight and also listen to advice.
Why is ULS quiet about the ongoing abductions and illegal arrests of innocent Ugandans?
That is a lie, we are not very quiet. We have released five statements since Christmas about this issue. We event created rapid response team to handle these issues. We call upon the general public to give us information and to bring to us complainants of the family of the people who have disappeared.
We only got five families and we have worked on those five cases. When the government said they had 177 people, we released an ultimatum and said that this week we are going to go to court and as I speak, we have prepared all our documents.
My problem is that I don’t have any instruction from any family member and you know as a lawyer, you should not start a case without instructions.
It is absurd that disappearances are happening. We are due to meet the police but we still call upon the security agencies to ensure that due process is followed when anyone is arrested.
There is a feeling that you are not as visible as your predecessors in the public, what could be the problem?
What can I do about that feeling? I can only work. Yes I can only work because they say beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. We can only work on the deliverables. We have serious deliverables as Uganda Law Society. We have a legal aid project in 23 towns in Uganda.
You saw our pro-bono day last year despite Covid-19, we are still serving about 65,000 people. We are currently representing 10% of Uganda’s total prison population which is about 5,500 prisoners. We have pro-bono lawyers that are registered and are working as we speak.
What challenges have you faced so far as the president of ULS?
I think the challenge we have faced is calling people to come for help and they don’t come. For instance the families of the people who disappeared.
We called them to come so that we do some litigation for them but they did not come. The five families who came we helped them. The challenge has been getting information to reach the people that need help.
The second challenge is people try to politicise the ULS and try to use it to fight their political wars. We are very determined to serve the country.
Our primary role is to advise in the rule of law, good governance, to increase justice to everybody. We also look at members’ welfare and the professional development and the last thing is that we look at is being the champion of the rule of law.
These are the things we are committed to do and we shall continue doing this work.
We have witnessed the arbitrary arrests, detention and prosecution of advocates in the line of their duty.
This one we have been really fighting it. If you remember in December, we had three lawyers who were arrested and we fought for them. We have had several meetings with security forces and we have actually worked out a way and I am happy that these days they give us notice. I think you have seen us fight for other lawyers like Nicholas Opiyo.
The Advocates Act protects us in our work and also we have a good legal decision that came out of court where the judge said that no lawyer should be prosecuted in the course of his or her duty.
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Marseilia Group plans jump trading from Egypt SME bourse to EGX
Marseilia Group plans jump trading from Egypt SME bourse to EGX
Egypt’s property developer Marseilia Group plans to make a jump transition from trading its shares on the country’s small and medium-size enterprises stock exchange (NILEX) to join the Egyptian Exchange (EGX), its chairman said on Sunday.
The company is currently working on completing the paperwork it needs to move trading to the main market, Marseilia chairman Sherif Heliw told local press.
Heliw said the company plans a capital increase to meet the minimum 100 million Egyptian pounds ($6.35 million) required for resident companies on the EGX.
In 2019, the company raised its capital by 12 million pounds to 72 million pounds.
Marseilia will be the second company to make the jump after Speed Medical, which moved its trading from NILEX to EGX in December last year.
In 2010, Egypt launched the NILEX with the goal of helping promising SMEs obtain the finance necessary to expand and grow, which should increase their ability to compete and provide more jobs.
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Grammy Awards: Gov Wike gifts Burna Boy land, money to build
Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State on Saturday announced that he will be giving a plot of land and cash to Burna Boy as an appreciation for winning the Grammy Awards.
DAILY POST had reported that the state organized a homecoming ceremony for Burna Boy after his album ‘ Twice as Tall’ won Best Global Music Album category.
The Governor while welcoming Burna Boy and his parents on a courtesy visit at the Government House, Port Harcourt described the Grammy award-winning Afrobeat singer, as the pride of the state.
The governor also encouraged Burna Boy to continue making the state proud even as he promised to do anything to promote him.
Speaking during the end of the event, the Governor also promised to give artistes who performed at Burna’s Homecoming Concert in Rivers State N10 million each.
“I’m not here for politics today, I’m here for the youths.
“It gladdens my heart to know that regardless of how the situation of the country is, our youths are still making us proud globally.
“I always love to support young talents because it’s not easy to keep pursuing what you love to do especially when your government does little or nothing to show their support or appreciation.
“However, Burnaboy and so many other artists have been putting in their best to their career to ensure that we keep going globally and because of this I will be giving him a land in Old GRA, Port Harcourt and money to build.
“I will also be supporting any other artistes who performed at this Homecoming Concert with N10 million each,” he said.
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Covid-19 In Ghana: Failure of Laws for an Inclusive Agenda
By Bashiratu Kamal
Gender & Labour Specialist. Accra, Ghana.
Cases of COVID-19 were recorded in 2019 and spread rapidly to all parts of the world, with Ghana recording its first case in March 2020. In Ghana, the pandemic has had ravaging effects on our economic, social, and political lives with numbers spiraling to 89,682 cases, 725 deaths, and 85,761 recoveries as of March 2021.
To contain the pandemic, the Government of Ghana put in several responsive measures, including school closures, a ban on social gathering, partial lockdowns, and passage of the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012). The measures and interventions are not gender responsive and fail to extend adequate protection to women, who have lost jobs having to choose between unpaid care work or building a career. According to a World Bank report, about 25% of the total workforce had their wages reduced with several others being laid off. The effect of this was more telling for women who are the most affected. Similarly, the cuts in foreign aid by governments like the United Kingdom resulted in the halting of several support services provided by some civil society organizations (CSOs).
Meanwhile, the United Nations in Ghana had warned that women and girls may be at a higher risk of experiencing intimate partner violence and other forms of domestic violence due to heightened tensions in the households during the pandemic. For this reason, one would have expected the government to be more inclusive in responding to the pandemic to avert the several discriminatory practices and breaching marginalized groups’ rights. The Commonwealth Foundation’s virtual event series Critical Conversations also noted how the pandemic “has exposed weaknesses in governance” calling for incorporation of gendered analysis in interventions.
In the face of the pandemic, Ghana has recorded an upsurge in domestic violence cases, failing to honor its commitments towards ensuring non-violence and discrimination in the United Nations Periodic Review recommendations for the “promotion and protection of Human Rights.” These include a pledge in recommendation 146.62 to “[c]ontinue promoting gender equality through specific laws, plans and programs.” Further, article 12 clause 2 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana also enjoins the guaranteeing of the “fundamental human rights and freedoms of the individuals” devoid of gender, race etc. Despite these legally guaranteed protections, Ghana has failed to maintain human rights and gender equality.
Unresponsive interventions; a bane for women
The swift response by the government of Ghana after the pandemic hit Ghana left women more vulnerable than before with the closure of schools and businesses. According to available data on the UNDP COVID-19 Global Gender Response Tracker, several African countries were proactive in integrating gender into their pandemic responses while others like Ghana failed woefully in putting creative measures that bridge the inequality gap. These failures include the absence of adequate shelters for victims of abuse during the lockdown.
As part of responsive mechanisms, the Parliament of Ghana passed the Restriction Act, 2020 (Act1012). According to Section 3(2) of the Act, the imposition of restriction shall be reasonably justifiable and may not exceed three months. Act 1012 gave the President power to grant exemptions in restriction at any point in time. Nevertheless, as countries like Zimbabwe and South Africa granted exemptions and the free movements of certain CSOs and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to provide support services to victims of domestic violence, Ghana was flooded with the news of harassment of market women by some security personals. Similarly, providers of critical sexual and reproductive health services were closed to the disadvantage of beneficiaries according to international reproductive health NGO Marie Stopes, which called on the government to improve access to contraception.
Hotline for Victims of Domestic Violence
The UNFPA in partnership with the Ministry of Gender Children and Social Protection provided toll-free hotlines for victims of abuse to reach out during the lockdown and beyond. Sadly, this was not complimented with the provision of shelters like in South Africa and activation of the Domestic Violence fund.
Several years after passing the Domestic Violence Act 2007 (Act 732) and its associated Domestic Violence LI, 2016 (LI 2237), the DV coalition, expressed disappointment about the ineffectiveness of the Legislations due to the lack of commitment and resources on the part of government.
The government of Ghana must integrate gender into existing responses and be deliberate and committed to ensuring that future interventions during emergencies are responsive to the needs of vulnerable groups. It is important to make the cumbersome bureaucratic processes flexible for vulnerable groups in applying for the stimulus package. Finally, the government must activate the DV Fund established by the Legislative Instrument as a responsive mechanism.
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Nigeria records 104 new COVID-19 infections, total now 162,593
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has recorded 104 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 162,593.
The NCDC disclosed this on its official Twitter handle on Sunday.
“104 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria; Lagos-48 Enugu-16 Kwara-8 Kaduna-6 Plateau-5 Kano-5 Rivers-4 FCT-4 Ogun-4 Edo-2 Ekiti-1 Katsina-1.”
104 new cases of #COVID19Nigeria;
2,048 deaths pic.twitter.com/ggqMKCBIrN
In the past two weeks, Nigeria recorded 3,414 new COVID-19 infections, which is the lowest the country has recorded since the beginning of the second wave of the pandemic in December.
In the penultimate week, (March 7 – 13), there were 2,300 cases, a reduction when compared to the 2,817 recorded in the previous week’s (February 28 – March 6)…
The train started the 156.65 kilometres journey to Lagos at exactly 08:00hrs. The pace of its acceleration was minimal.
At about 25 minutes, the train slowed down at the uncompleted Omi-Adio terminal, a village on the Abeokuta/Ibadan expressway; it’s a stone throw from Apata in Ibadan. Conveyance of passengers from there and other terminals has not kickstarted as the terminals are still under construction and workers were found there…
“Please do not talk to my father. He is yet to come to terms with the death of his son. It is a most tragic experience. How does one quantify the loss of a dear brother? My brother was killed like an animal by two herdsmen. His offence was that he asked them to drive their cows off his already cultivated farmland,” Bisi Olaosepin, whose brother was hacked to death, struggled to hold back his tears as he relayed to Sunday Tribune the horrible experience that culminated in the passage of his brother…
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Zimbabwe & Australia’s Invictus sign production sharing agreements for Muzarabani oil project
(The Anchor) HARARE – Zimbabwe is on its way to becoming an oil and gas producing country as early as next year following the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the government and Geo Associates a joint venture company between One Gas Resources and Australian Stock Exchange Listed company Invictus Energy.
The MOU of Production Sharing Agreements (PSA) is made up of two agreements namely, the Petroleum Exploration and Development Production Agreement (PEDPA) and the Petroleum Product Sharing Agreement (PPSA). These are expected to give impetus to the accelerated attainment of the US$12 billion mining sector economy by 2023, said President Emmerson Mnangagwa, during the signing ceremony in Harare.
“The signing of this agreement represents major strides in our efforts to tap into our oil and gas deposits, which is a new territory in the country’s mining sector.
“The untapped oil and gas deposits present huge, unique and competitive investment opportunities, given that the industry has various potential downstream linkages,” said President Mnangagwa.
The agreements provide the framework of progression of the Muzarabani Oil and gas projects. It provides that Invictus Energy are entitled to exploit the resource, providing the pathways to the commercialisation of oil discoveries while the PPSA provides for the sharing of the resource between government and the investors.
The investor in the Muzarabani oil project, Invictus Energy halted trading of its shares on Australian Stock Exchange ahead of today’s signing ceremony, the second time in two weeks. The company has a smaller market cap of below A$80m.
Invictus Energy has since raised US$6 million in a private share placement to fund a seismic exploration in Muzarabani, the next steps towards the development of the gas prospect. The money will be used for a 2D seismic campaign. During this survey, explorers use sound devices to predict the location of oil or gas that could be enough for commercial exploration. This exercise helps companies to know where to drill exploration wells, as well as how to design the wells.
According to President Mnangagwa following this signing ceremony, the company will commence the first phase of the project which involves the sinking of two exploration wells which will be 4 kilometers deep and 1 meter in diameter.
The signing ceremony was witnessed by the Vice President, government misters, chairperson of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency (ZIDA). The government was represented by the minister of mines Hon Winston Chitando while Paul Chimbodza represented the investors.
Non-executive director of Invictus Energy Zimbabwe, Joe Mutizwa revealed that the investment is fully compliant with the indigenisation requirements of the country as locals through pension funds own a stake in the project.
“Mangwana Capital is one of the shareholders of Invictus Energy and through Mangwana Opportunities Fund, 31 Zimbabwean pension funds and asset managers hold a direct stake in the Muzarabani oil and gas project.
“This represents a significant indigenous ownership component in the potentially transformative investment for Zimbabwe,” said Mutizwa.
According to Mutizwa, to date, Geo Associates through the operator Invictus and partner One Gas has spent US$4 million and 90 man-months effort and has achieved a number of milestones to advance the project and is confident to discover commercial quantities of gas and oil in the Cabora Bassa Basin.
“The first part of our work program has consisted of re-evaluating the legacy geophysical and geological data and satisfying ourselves of the technical merits of the merits,
“We have now committed to the next phase of exploitation and in preparation of the on-ground exploration activities, we have undertaken an extensive environmental Impact assessment and community consultation exercise which is one of the largest ever completed in the country,” said Mutizwa.
The Muzarabani Oil and gas project began in 2017 following the awarding of special grant 4571 to Geo Associates Pvt Ltd. The area covered by the special grant was previously explored by Mobil in the early 1990s as part of their oil exploration in the Zambezi valley. Geo Associates is the first company to explore for oil and gas since Mobil left in 1994. In April 2018, Invictus Energy an ASX listed company based in Australia acquired 80% stake in Geo Associates and became the project operator.
The post Zimbabwe & Australia’s Invictus sign production sharing agreements for Muzarabani oil project appeared first on DailyTimes Zimbabwe.
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Massive cargo ship becomes wedged, blocks Egypt’s Suez Canal
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — A skyscraper-sized container ship has become wedged across Egypt’s Suez Canal and blocked all traffic in the vital waterway, officials said Wednesday, threatening to disrupt a global shipping system already strained by the coronavirus pandemic.
The MV Ever Given, a Panama-flagged ship that carries cargo between Asia and Europe, ran aground Tuesday in the narrow, man-made canal dividing continental Africa from the Sinai Peninsula. Images showed the ship’s bow was touching the eastern wall, while its stern looked lodged against the western wall.
Tugboats strained Wednesday to try to nudge the obstruction out of the way as ships hoping to enter the waterway began lining up in the Mediterranean and Red Seas. But it remained unclear when the route, through which around 10% of world trade flows and which is particularly crucial for the transport of oil, would reopen. One official warned it could take at least two days.
Evergreen Marine Corp., a major Taiwan-based shipping company that operates the ship, said in a statement that the Ever Given had been overcome by strong winds as it entered the canal from the Red Sea but none of its containers had sunk.
An Egyptian official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to brief journalists, similarly blamed a strong wind. Egyptian forecasters said high winds and a sandstorm plagued the area Tuesday, with winds gusting as much as 50 kph (30 mph).
The Egyptian official said tugboats hoped to refloat the ship and that the operation would take at least two days. The ship ran aground some 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) north of the southernly mouth of the canal near the city of Suez, an area of the canal that’s a single lane.
That could have a major knock-on effect for global shipping moving between the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea, warned Salvatore R. Mercogliano, a former merchant mariner and associate professor of history at North Carolina’s Campbell University.
“Every day, 50 vessels on average go through that canal, so the closing of the canal means no vessels are transiting north and south,” Mercogliano told the AP. “Every day the canal is closed … container ships and tankers are not delivering food, fuel and manufactured goods to Europe and goods are not being exported from Europe to the Far East.”
Already, some 30 vessels waited at Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake midway on the canal, while some 40 idled in the Mediterranean near Port Said and another 30 at Suez in the Red Sea, according to canal service provider Leth Agencies.
The Ever Given, built in 2018 with a length of nearly 400 meters (a quarter mile) and a width of 59 meters (193 feet), is among the largest cargo ships in the world. It can carry some 20,000 containers at a time. It previously had been at ports in China before heading toward Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Opened in 1869, the Suez Canal provides a crucial link for oil, natural gas and cargo. It also remains one of Egypt’s top foreign currency earners. In 2015, the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi completed a major expansion of the canal, allowing it to accommodate the world’s largest vessels. However, the Ever Given ran aground south of that new portion of the canal.
The stranding Tuesday marks just the latest to affect mariners amid the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands have been stuck aboard vessels due to the pandemic. Meanwhile, demands on shipping have increased, adding to the pressure on tired sailors, Mercogliano said.
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Central Bank Of Tunisia Licenses The Country’s First Blockchain-powered Bank
The Société Tunisienne de Banques (STB) has become the first Tunisian bank to join the Dinar Digital network under “Central Bank of Tunisia Digital Currency” project. The network brings together member financial institutions, with the aim of using blockchain technology to fully digitalise the country’s fiat money (cash). The BCT Digital Currency project hopes to also improve efficiency and reduce the costs of financial transactions for Tunisians.
Société Tunisienne de Banques is doing this under the country’s regulatory sandbox licensing regime. Other banks, after STB, will most likely join the network. The Digital Dinar network consists of an interoperable network of money transfer and payments.
The Launch Of North Africa’s First Regulatory Sandbox For Fintech Startups.
Last year, the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) launched a “regulatory sandbox” licensing regime which, among other things, aims to test technological innovations in the banking and financial sector.
“The Sandbox is an opportunity for dozens of fintech companies to test their technological solutions and understand the regulatory requirements in force, in order to promote a financial services’ offer adapted to the needs of the market,” Minister of Communication Technologies and Digital Economy Anouar Maarouf said last year.
Once STB concludes its tests as part of the BCT sandbox, the new digital payment infrastructure will be set up in Tunisia. The blockchain-powered payment infrastructure will offer Tunisian citizens and financial institutions a complementary solution to the already existing payment networks, namely electronic banking, transfers and checks.
TLedger is another Tunisian fintech startup labeled under the country’s Startup Act which has been selected by the BCT as part of the first cohort of the regulatory sandbox. TLedger will proceed to carry out tests with voluntary customers.
The Presence Of Stiff Laws And Regulations Has Stifled Innovative Financial Business Models
In Tunisia, credit cards are not approved for transactions in currencies other than the country’s dinar. Therefore credit and debit cards cannot be used for purchases on foreign commercial internet sites. This has resulted to most Tunisian banks only allowing account holders to use bank-affiliated credit and debit cards to make domestic online purchases denominated in dinars.
However, the passage of the Tunisian Startup Act by the country’s government has resulted in some sweeping regulatory changes to the Tunisian innovation landscape. For instance, the country’s central bank has recently outlined a procedure for qualified companies to open currency accounts.
Charles Rapulu Udoh
Charles Rapulu Udoh is a Lagos-based lawyer who has advised startups across Africa on issues such as startup funding (Venture Capital, Debt financing, private equity, angel investing etc), taxation, strategies, etc. He also has special focus on the protection of business or brands’ intellectual property rights ( such as trademark, patent or design) across Africa and other foreign jurisdictions.
He is well versed on issues of ESG (sustainability), media and entertainment law, corporate finance and governance.
He is also an award-winning writer
Bank Tunisia blockchain Bank Tunisia blockchain
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WASCAL launches scholarship scheme for ECOWAS students
The West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), has launched a new scholarship scheme for all ECOWAS students to pursue International Master’s Degree in Energy and Green Hydrogen Technology.
The 24-month programme, will be run in partnership with Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH and RWTH Aachen University, Germany, with funding from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, Germany (BMBF).
The scholarship package includes full funding, roundtrip tickets and accommodation, allowances, and travel to selected West African countries as well as to Germany.
This was contained in a statement signed by Professor Daouda Kone, Director of Capacity Building Department, WASCAL and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra.
The programme consists of four specialisations and will be run in lead Universities in Togo, where University of Lome will run Bioenergy/biofuels and Green Hydrogen Technology; University of Felix Hophoet Boigny, Ivory Coast will host Green Hydrogen Production and Technology/Georesources (Wind/Water) and Hydrogen Technology.
The University of Abdou Moumouni will host Photovoltaic and System Analysis for Green Hydrogen Technologies, and University of Cheikh Anta Diop, Senegal, will host Economics/policies/Infrastructures and Green Hydrogen Technology.
The novel programme is designed for students with background in Physics, Biochemistry, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Electronic Engineering, Statistics or related areas.
The programme seeks to prepare and train a new generation of interdisciplinary professionals capable of proposing adapted solutions to the ongoing energy crisis in West Africa.
It will also provide training on state-of-the-art tools used in renewable energy, green hydrogen technology and policy with the view of training adequate human resources to boost the energy technology sector and guide policy formulation across West Africa with special focus on green hydrogen technology.
Professor Daouda Kone, said the scheme would contribute to preparing West African future leaders to win the green energy campaign and climate change battle.
“It is expected that employment opportunities after this training is possible in national and international government agencies, research institutions, extractive industries and energy producers and distribution companies, power-intensive industries, transportation companies, mining industries, and equipment engineering.
“Graduates with high research capacities will also be able to integrate a relevant PhD programme,” he said.
Mrs Kerstin Annassi from the Project Management Agency, BMBF said “We are very fortunate to have such strong and experienced partners in West Africa and Germany.
“WASCAL’s expertise and the combined knowledge of Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen University will guarantee a successful programme.”
She stated that after graduation, they would support all students on by providing further academic possibilities or enable easy access to job opportunities.
Deadline for application is April 30, 2021, and forms can be accessed on the WASCAL official website.
WASCAL is a West African international Climate Change Institution.