Menstruation does not mean early marriage for girl child, President Museveni

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has called for the economic empowerment of young girls if child marriages are to end.

The President who was accompanied by the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Kataaha Museveni was today speaking at a high level side event on the margins of the 72 Session of the United Nations General Assembly under the theme; Accelerating Efforts to Eliminate Child Marriage in Africa by 2030 at the UNICEF Labouisse Hall in New York.

President Museveni said that because of poverty, parents marry off their children so that their husbands can look after them but if the young girls are empowered economically and through education and skills, this could reduce on the rate of child marriages as the girls would spend more years in school.

“In the past many young girls in the old African societies were immediately married off the moment they started their menstrual periods due to poor knowledge about biology. Biology now tells us that menstruation does not mean a child is ready for marriage,” he said.

Citing Uganda, the President said that there is need to sensitize people about the right age for one to get married and then for the governments to come up with laws that ban early child marriages. “Once we sensitized Ugandans that before the age of 18 children are too young to be married government legislated and banned marriage before the age of 18 years,” he said.

President Museveni added that there is need follow up the discussion with action, and to find social programs to occupy children such as free education so that children of the poor can study and acquire skills.

According to UNICEF, more than 700 million girls and women alive today were married as children. Child marriage is a violation of human rights, compromising the development of girls and often resulting in early pregnancy and social isolation. Young married girls face onerous domestic burdens, constrained decision-making and reduced life choices. This is a human rights violation on a vast scale and a major obstacle to sustainable development. While the practice of child marriage has slowly been declining, particularly for girls under age 15, additional, more concerted efforts are needed to accelerate the pace of change.

The UNFPA-UNICEF Global Programme to Accelerate Action to End Child Marriage offers a framework promoting the right of girls to delay marriage, addressing the conditions that keep the practice in place, and caring for girls already in union.

The programme targets adolescent girls (ages 10-19) at risk of child marriage or already in union, in 12 selected countries: Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Mozambique, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Yemen, Zambia.

President Edgar Lungu Chagwa of the Republic of Zambia said that if there is no reduction in child marriages, up to 280 million more girls alive today are at risk of becoming brides before they turn 18 and that the effects of population growth mean that this number will approach 320 million by 2050.

“If current trends continue, the total number of women alive today that were married in childhood will grow from more than 700 million to almost 1 billion women and girls by 2030,” he said.

President Arthur Peter Mutharika of the Republic of Malawi called for political commitment to enable girls at the risk of child marriage to choose and direct their own futures, supporting households in demonstrating positive attitudes towards adolescent girls, and strengthening the systems that deliver services to adolescent girls.

“It will also seek to ensure laws and policies protect and promote adolescent girls’ rights, and highlight the importance of using robust data to inform policies relating to adolescent girls,” he said.

The Executive Director UN Women Phunzile Malmbo Ngcuka, the Canadian Deputy Minister for International Development Diane Jacovella, the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Liliane Ploumen, the African Union Commissioner for Social Affairs H.E Mrs. Amira Elfadil Mohammed Elfadil, the Deputy Executive Director UNFPA Ms. Laura Londen and the African Union Goodwill Ambassador for Ending Child Marriages Ms. Nyaradzai Gumbonzvanda attended the event.

Distributed by APO on behalf of State House Uganda.

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USTDA connects U.S. energy industry to business opportunities in South Africa

The U.S. Trade and Development Agency awarded a grant to Solafrica Energy (Pty) Ltd., a developer of utility-scale solar power plants in Southern Africa, for a pilot project that demonstrates the performance of an energy storage system based on Primus Power Corporation’s (California) EnergyPod2® technology.

The EnergyPod2® is a long-duration energy storage system based on zinc-bromine flow batteries. The pilot will demonstrate the performance of this energy storage system under South Africa’s electric grid conditions at the large-scale energy storage test and demonstration facility of Eskom, South Africa’s national electricity utility.

The pilot will include a series of assessments to determine applications where long-duration energy storage has the greatest value on South Africa’s electric grid and will generate an implementation plan for the deployment of Primus Power’s energy storage systems throughout the country. Large-scale deployments of energy storage on South Africa’s electric grid will increase the capacity of the grid, support further integration of renewable energy resources, and offset the use of diesel fuel for peaking power and backup power generation.

“USTDA is pleased to support this project that will increase energy storage capacity in South Africa and ultimately expand access to affordable, reliable electricity,” said Lida Fitts, Sub-Saharan Africa Regional Director at USTDA. “The project will display the value and applications of innovative U.S. technologies in a growing and important sector in South Africa.”

“South Africa’s rapid increase in renewable energy integration has introduced challenges related to intermittent power generation,” said Nasi Rwigema, Project Director of Solafrica Energy. “Innovative and cost-effective energy storage solutions will add great value to energy users and electricity network operators alike.”

“As a continent, Africa has the majority of the world’s population without access to reliable electricity,” commented Tom Stepien, CEO of Primus Power. “By commencing this pilot with the support of USTDA, we aim to demonstrate the performance, reliability, durability and cost competitiveness of our EnergyPod2® system and apply it in order to satisfy energy storage needs in South Africa, and additional countries in Africa, for years to come.”

This pilot project was submitted through USTDA’s previous proposal window for energy projects in sub-Saharan Africa. USTDA currently has a new call for initial proposals from energy project sponsors or U.S. companies working in the region. Interested parties must submit an initial concept paper by 5:00pm Eastern Time on September 25, 2017 and may refer to the press release as well as USTDA’s full proposal guidelines available on its website.

Distributed by APO on behalf of U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA).

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Several billions of US dollars in investments announced during the Morocco – Gabon 2017 Forum

The Morocco – Gabon Forum which has just ended in Rabat was the occasion for the Moroccan companies and investors to announce their intention to invest several billions of US dollars in Gabon in the sectors of Infrastructures, the numerical Economy, Agro-industrial industry and the sanitary facilities, in particular.

Bringing together nearly 300 participants in the buildings of the chancellery of the Embassy of Gabon, in Rabat and intended to promote the direct investments and to instigate the exchanges between the two countries, the Morocco – Gabon Forum made it possible to the Moroccan investors to discover the opportunities offered by Gabon.

According to the president of the Africa and South-South Commission of the General Confederation of the Moroccan Companies (CGEM), Abdou Souléye DIOP, “The Forum will have made it possible to better identify the Gabonese projects and the tools to accompany their execution. The General Confederation of the Moroccan Companies all is prepared to accompany and to structure the actions of development and B2B between the Moroccan and Gabonese companies and to impulse this new momentum of economic relations between Morocco and Gabon.”

Two delegations of Moroccan businessmen are awaited in Gabon within the next few weeks to carry on with the exchanges initiated with the Gabonese authorities during the Morocco – Gabon 2017 Forum.

These delegations, which will go to Libreville in October and November 2017, shall be made up of economic operators originating from the Area of Fes and the Eastern one, as well as businessmen affiliated to the Chamber of Commerce from the Area of Rabat-Sale-Kenitra.

“The Morocco – Gabon Forum arouses an increasing interest and represents from now on an essential tool of dynamization of the exchanges between Morocco and Gabon. I wish that the Forum contributes to a deep and immediate reflexion on the existence, the nature and the quality of the trade agreements which bind our two countries and which would, ideally, count several agreements of free trade between Morocco and Gabon. I am convinced that the multiplication of the agreements of free trade will allow Africa to be developed by the Africans themselves”, declared the Ambassador extraordinary and Plenipotentiary – High Representative of the Gabonese Republic close the Kingdom of Morocco, His Excellence Abdu Razzaq Guy KAMBOGO.

The offer presented by the Gabonese Funds of Strategic Investments (FGIS) and relating to the Seafront Triumphal Field (FMCT) aroused a broad interest and immediately received an important financing offer.

A Partnership convention on the valorization and the transformation of the lemongrass (citronella), on the other hand, was signed on Friday 15th of September 2017 between the Moroccan company of Teas and Infusions (MATHE) and the Gabonese company SOVAPROAT, Company of Valorization and Production of the Agricultural and Agro industrials products and of the Gabonese Soil.

A follow-up Committee was recommended in order to evaluate the contribution of the Morocco – Gabon 2017 Forum to the diversification of the direct investments in Gabon and the dynamization of the exchanges between Rabat and Libreville.

The next edition of the Morocco – Gabon Forum will be held in September 2018 in Rabat.

“The relations between Morocco and Gabon are on the way to become a model of cooperation South-South”, declared the Ambassador of Gabon in Morocco, His Excellence Abdu Razzaq Guy KAMBOGO.

Country undergoing fundamental changes, Gabon wish to invest 21 Billions of Dollars throughout the forcoming years in order to strengthen the infrastructures and support the growth poles beyond the oil exploitation.

Distributed by APO on behalf of Ambassade Extraordinaire et Plénipotentiaire – Haute Représentation de la République Gabonaise près le Royaume du Maroc.

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Dangote Foundation, GBCHealth, join forces to build Coalition on Health

Dangote Foundation ( and GBCHealth have joined forces to forge a new model of partnership, African Business Coalition on Health (GBCHealth) in Africa.

Chairman of Dangote Foundation, Aliko Dangote, shared plans to build an African Business Coalition on Health (ABCHealth), during the Bloomberg Global Business Forum, he was co-hosting, and which took place alongside the United Nations General Assembly this week in New York.

According to him, the African-led coalition of companies and philanthropists, will seek to improve the health and wellbeing of Africans, both within the workplace and within the broader communities. He stated that the partnership will develop and deploy impactful health programs across Africa, deepening knowledge, building evidence for future investment and strengthening coordination among African philanthropists, business leaders, companies and local business networks.

The Coalition is building on the leadership, reputation and convening power of the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the experience, reputation and global reach of GBCHealth. Critical issues that will be the focus of the partnership ranges from nutrition to malaria, with priorities identified and agreed by local leadership.

Through his Foundation, Dangote has made an unprecedented grant and seed contribution to GBCHealth of US$ 1.5 million over three years as a call to action and a signal to the African business community of the importance of working together and investing in health.

“The time is ripe for the private sector to proactively demonstrate its value in partnering to lead a new era in development,” said Mr. Dangote. “The coalition can provide much needed guidance to ensure activities and investments are driving results in areas where the private sector can have real impact, focusing on holistic and integrated solutions that cross borders. We look forward to working with other business leaders as partners in development to drive this impact.”

Co-chair of GBCHealth’s Board of Directors, Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede said, “This coalition brings together two heavyweights in the health and development arena”.

“Together we have an opportunity to demonstrate how investing in health and creating healthier populations, can help business maximize shareholder value, accelerate economic growth and make entry into new markets more feasible.”

The coalition will have five primary objectives over its first three years:

  • Incubate partnerships on priority health programs to enhance and accelerate results;
  • Work directly with companies to optimize workplace and community health programs;
  • Advocate for policies and initiatives that drive system-level changes;
  • Create a hub of data and insights specific to Africa and African business;
  • Curate leadership events to convene and drive action around common health issues, across sectors.

The program will kick off in Nigeria and roll out through business regions in Africa and beyond over the next three years.

The continent currently has 400 companies with revenue of more than $1 billion per year, and these companies are growing faster, and are more profitable in general, than their global peers. Coupled with these fast-moving regional leaders, small and growing businesses create 80% of the continent’s employment and are stoking the engines of growth.

Against this backdrop, according to Dangote, there’s a new cadre of responsible business leaders and philanthropists who understand the value and promise of sustainable large-scale investments in African countries, and are poised to make an even bigger impact on the continent’s people and economies.

Investments in better training, healthcare and supply chain accountability have demonstrated direct financial return through gains in productivity and efficiency, while sup­port for social programs has accelerated economic growth and raised incomes which in turn unlocks a wider con­sumer base and makes entry into new markets more feasible.

In her comments, CEO of the Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou, said “GBCHealth has a strong track record of bringing diverse groups together to improve the health wellbeing of communities. We look forward to collaborating to build an African business community united as a force for healthier and more inclusive development.”

“What is needed now is an approach that combines the value of local insights and trusted networks with the leverage of a global platform and expertise to support the more coordinated and impactful involvement of the African private sector across the continent and within the global development community,” commented Mr. Aig-Imoukhuede.

“The coalition builds on the local-to-global business approach we have developed in Nigeria through our work with the Corporate Alliance on Malaria in Africa (CAMA). The Aliko Dangote Foundation has demonstrated expertise in implementing result-oriented health programs in Nigeria and across Africa. We look forward to our collaboration to bring insights from this work to a global audience,” said Nancy Wildfeir-Field, President of GBCHealth.

Immediate plans include hiring an African based CEO for ABCHealth, and building a support base for the coalition working towards a launch in early 2018.

The foundation is generously providing office space and support for coalition staff over the first three years of development.

“It’s an ambitious and bold project,” said Dangote, “but the only way to move Africa forward is to take bold moves, to think big, dream big and do big things together – breaking down silos, working across borders and working across sectors– with government and with each other.”

Distributed by APO on behalf of Dangote Group.

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