UBA Cameroon Wins “Prepaid Innovative Product of the Year” Award for its Innovative “Cobranded Student ID Visa Prepaid”

CASABLANCA, Morocco, April 14, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Visa (NYSE: V) (http://www.corporate.visa.com), an international electronic payment company, sponsored the Prepaid Summit Middle East event for the sixth consecutive year in 2015. The event was held in Dubai. Uniting over 150 leading participants, this conference is a regional standard for the electronic payments industry.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/visa.png

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/150413v.jpg

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/150413v1.jpg

On this occasion, various awards were presented during a ceremony to regional financial institutions, including a significant number based in Africa and the Middle East. These were Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait, Banque Al Jazira, Banque Libano-Française, Commercial Bank of Qatar, SCC Bank, Kuwait Finance House and United Bank of Africa (UBA) Cameroon.

After the awards ceremony, UBA Cameroon was crowned the winner of the “Prepaid Innovative Product of the Year” award for its innovative “Cobranded Student ID Visa Prepaid” concept, which aims to provide universities and students with a multi-function Visa card.

Serving as an identification card for the student, with information identifying the student and indicating his or her department and university year, this reloadable prepaid card can also be used internationally. This is the first prepaid programme of its kind in Francophone Africa.

Thanks to its Student UBA prepaid Visa card, UBA Cameroon has signed three partnerships with the largest universities in the country: Université de Douala, Université de Yaoundé 1 and Université de Yaoundé 2. Today, 50,000 cards are used by students at Université de Douala and close to 100,000 more are being produced for Université de Yaoundé 1 and Université de Yaoundé 2.

Speaking on the presentation of the “Prepaid Innovative Product of the Year” award to UBA Cameroon, Mohamed Touhami El Ouazzani, General Manager of Visa for Morocco and Francophone Africa, stated: “I am very happy that UBA Cameroon has been recognised for its efforts in support of the development of electronic payments. Africa is the continent that will see the largest increase in electronic payments between now and 2016. In this area, Visa offers numerous innovation-based mobile banking services and solutions through its partnerships with financial institutions and international mobile phone businesses, notably via Samsung Pay and Apple Pay. Thanks to Visa Token Service technology, these two new services will facilitate secure payments with a broad range of connected devices. They will replace the sensitive payment account information contained on plastic cards with a digital account number that can be stored in complete safety on mobile devices and used to pay for purchases in stores or through apps.”

This year, the Prepaid Summit Middle East awards committee received a record number of nominations from over 50 countries, including Algeria, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Visa Inc.

Media contact:

Ahmed Reda Kassem

Corporate Communications Director

North and West Africa

E-mail: akassem@visa.com

About Visa Inc.

Visa (http://www.corporate.visa.com) is a global payments technology company that connects consumers, businesses, financial institutions and governments in more than 200 countries and territories to fast, secure and reliable electronic payments. We operate one of the world’s most advanced processing networks, VisaNet, which is capable of handling over 56,000 transaction messages a second, with fraud protection for consumers and assured payment for merchants. Visa is not a bank and does not issue cards, extend credit or set rates and fees for consumers. Nevertheless, Visa’s innovations enable its financial institution customers to offer consumers more choices: pay now with debit, ahead of time with prepaid or later with credit. For more information, visit the website: www.corporate.visa.com.

Source:: UBA Cameroon Wins “Prepaid Innovative Product of the Year” Award for its Innovative “Cobranded Student ID Visa Prepaid”

Categories: African Press Organization | Leave a comment

IOM, INTERPOL Combat Child Trafficking in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire Cocoa Industry

GENEVA, Switzerland, April 14, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — IOM and Interpol have launched a six-month project “Combating Child Trafficking in Cocoa Industries,” which aims to build national capacity to rescue and assist trafficked children in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

According to the International Cocoa Organization, in 2012-13 approximately 60 per cent of the world’s cocoa came from Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

In recent years, both the governments have taken steps towards addressing child trafficking in the industry, including the ratification of international treaties and conventions, and capacity building of law enforcement officials and the judiciary.

Ghana passed a Human Trafficking Act in 2005 and Côte d’Ivoire is currently working on drafting its own national counter trafficking legislation.

Efforts to combat child trafficking are also being implemented in the West African region by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). These include the development of tools and assistance to ECOWAS Member States to update anti-trafficking legislation and strengthen law enforcement in border and migration management, including counter trafficking.

A major obstacle to prevention is the lack of awareness about trafficking, especially at the local level, where the trafficking process begins. But awareness raising alone does not address the root causes that make migration appear an attractive option for vulnerable child migrants from poor families.

In March 2014, INTERPOL and IOM signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at strengthening cooperation and collaboration in combating transnational crime, including the eradication of human trafficking.

A year later, they launched their first, joint pilot project to fight human trafficking in the cocoa industry in in Ghana and Côte d’Ivoire.

The six-month pilot project aims to assess the size of the trafficking problem in the region, to identify the main needs to address and to develop a comprehensive response. It also intends to strengthen the capacity of relevant stakeholders to identify and provide direct assistance to identified victims.

“The partnership between IOM and INTERPOL is important in the fight against trafficking, as it brings together the complementary experience of both organizations,” said Laurence Hart, Head of IOM’s Migrants’ Assistance Division.

“This includes IOM’s capacity in the areas of victim protection, assistance and rehabilitation, and the prevention of the push and pull factors, and INTERPOL’s specialized investigation skills, including the prosecution of traffickers leading to the eradication of the crime.”

“Both IOM and INTERPOL are now actively engaged in securing additional funding to continue this project beyond the pilot. Our vision for the second phase will be to bring together community human rights education and law enforcement, and to invest into a long-term approach to sustainably put an end to this practice. We hope to create a strong coalition, involving the private sector, including the cocoa planters, and the whole cocoa producing industry to free the sector from child trafficking,” said IOM Ghana Chief of Mission Sylvia Lopez-Ekra.

“Child trafficking is driven by poverty, poor education and the weak or non-existent consequences for traffickers,” said Michele Bombassei, IOM’s Migrant Assistance Specialist for West Africa.

“The aim of maximizing profits against fluctuating cocoa prices in the world market encourages plantation owners to use child labour, instead of paying minimum wage to adult labourers; and weak controls at the porous borders make the task easier,” he added.

IOM will provide immediate protection, recovery and reintegration assistance to an estimated 80 child victims of trafficking in the cocoa industry, as well as other vulnerable cases within the scope of the project. The assistance will be tailor-made based, on the needs and the specific situation of each victim.

IOM has specialized in the protection, assistance and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking since 1994. Since that time, it has provided direct assistance to approximately 76,000 men, women and child victims of trafficking worldwide. Since 2011 it has helped some 6,500 individuals annually.

Contrary to the common belief that trafficking for sexual exploitation is the main form of abuse, IOM data gathered since 2011 show that forced labour accounted for approximately 70 per cent of the trafficking victims assisted by IOM during the period. Most victims worked in construction, fishing, mining, agriculture and domestic labour.

Sexual exploitation was the second most common area of abuse and continues to impact more women and girls than men and boys. It accounted for 27 per cent of IOM cases in 2011, 20 per cent in 2012, 14 per cent in 2013 and 17 per cent in 2014.

Source:: IOM, INTERPOL Combat Child Trafficking in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire Cocoa Industry

Categories: African Press Organization | Leave a comment

Ireland / Ministers highlight plight of abducted Chibok school girls

DUBLIN, Ireland, April 14, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, and the Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion, and North South Co-Operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, have called for urgent action to rescue the Chibok school girls abducted by Boko Harem one year ago and urged the Multinational Joint Taskforce to defeat the terrorist group.

Speaking today, one year after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, North Eastern Nigeria, Minister Flanagan said:

“The abduction of these girls one year ago was an outrageous act and failure to make every possible effort to rescue these girls will only embolden Boko Haram, a terrorist group with deplorable aims and an appalling record of kidnap and violence.

“Ireland stands with these girls, their families and their communities. We have not forgotten their plight. I once again urge the Government of Nigeria to commit the necessary resources to finding the girls and returning them to their families and their education. It is unacceptable that young girls should be deprived of their freedom and made to suffer in this way.

“And it is unacceptable that schools should face attack, as they have in Nigeria, in Pakistan, in Kenya and elsewhere over the past year. These are attacks on the fundamental elements of any free and just society.

“The recent success in pushing back Boko Haram from major towns in North Eastern Nigeria provides an opportunity to bring the conflict there to an end. It is critically important that the Multinational Joint Taskforce of troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin continues its efforts to protect innocent people and to defeat the Boko Haram terrorists.”

Minister Sherlock condemned the barbaric acts of Boko Haram across the region:

“The increasingly violent and indiscriminate attacks of Boko Haram have targeted civilians and caused displacement of half a million people within Nigeria, while hundreds of thousands had fled across the border to Cameroon.

“The fate of the Chibok girls is part of a humanitarian crisis in Northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin caused by the Boko Haram insurgency.

“Ireland has recently contributed 87 tonnes of stocks worth €1 million to NGO partner, Plan, for Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram and living in camps in northern Cameroon.”

Source:: Ireland / Ministers highlight plight of abducted Chibok school girls

Categories: African Press Organization | Leave a comment

Ireland / Ministers highlight plight of abducted Chibok school girls

DUBLIN, Ireland, April 14, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, and the Minister of State for Development, Trade Promotion, and North South Co-Operation, Seán Sherlock, TD, have called for urgent action to rescue the Chibok school girls abducted by Boko Harem one year ago and urged the Multinational Joint Taskforce to defeat the terrorist group.

Speaking today, one year after Boko Haram abducted more than 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, North Eastern Nigeria, Minister Flanagan said:

“The abduction of these girls one year ago was an outrageous act and failure to make every possible effort to rescue these girls will only embolden Boko Haram, a terrorist group with deplorable aims and an appalling record of kidnap and violence.

“Ireland stands with these girls, their families and their communities. We have not forgotten their plight. I once again urge the Government of Nigeria to commit the necessary resources to finding the girls and returning them to their families and their education. It is unacceptable that young girls should be deprived of their freedom and made to suffer in this way.

“And it is unacceptable that schools should face attack, as they have in Nigeria, in Pakistan, in Kenya and elsewhere over the past year. These are attacks on the fundamental elements of any free and just society.

“The recent success in pushing back Boko Haram from major towns in North Eastern Nigeria provides an opportunity to bring the conflict there to an end. It is critically important that the Multinational Joint Taskforce of troops from Nigeria, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Benin continues its efforts to protect innocent people and to defeat the Boko Haram terrorists.”

Minister Sherlock condemned the barbaric acts of Boko Haram across the region:

“The increasingly violent and indiscriminate attacks of Boko Haram have targeted civilians and caused displacement of half a million people within Nigeria, while hundreds of thousands had fled across the border to Cameroon.

“The fate of the Chibok girls is part of a humanitarian crisis in Northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad Basin caused by the Boko Haram insurgency.

“Ireland has recently contributed 87 tonnes of stocks worth €1 million to NGO partner, Plan, for Nigerian refugees fleeing Boko Haram and living in camps in northern Cameroon.”

Source:: Ireland / Ministers highlight plight of abducted Chibok school girls

Categories: African Press Organization | Leave a comment

2050: Water supplies to dwindle in parts of the world, threatening food security and livelihoods / Better policies and more investments needed, including adaptation of agriculture to climate change

ROME, Italy, April 14, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — In 2050 there will be enough water to help produce the food needed to feed a global population expected to top nine billion, but overconsumption, degradation and the impact of climate change will reduce water supplies in many regions, especially developing countries, FAO and the World Water Council (WWC) have warned in a paper published today.

“Towards a water and food secure future”, calls for government policies and investments by the public and private sectors to ensure that crops, livestock and fish are sustainably produced in ways also aimed at safeguarding water resources.

Such actions are essential in order to reduce poverty, increase incomes and ensure food security for many people living in rural and urban areas, the paper stresses.

“Food and water security are inextricably linked. We believe that by developing local approaches and making the right investments, world leaders can ensure that there will be sufficient water volume, quality and access to meet food security in 2050 and beyond,” said Benedito Braga, President of the World Water Council, on the occasion of the launching of the paper at the 7th World Water Forum in Daegu and Gyeongbuk, South Korea.

“The essence of the challenge is to adopt programs that involve investments in longer-term returns, such as the rehabilitation of infrastructure. Agriculture has to follow the path of sustainability and not the one of immediate profitability,” added Braga.

“In an era of accelerated changes unparalleled to any in our past, our ability to provide adequate, safe and nutritious food sustainably and equitably is more relevant than ever. Water, as an irreplaceable element of achieving this end, is already under pressure by increasing demands from other uses, exacerbated by weak governance, inadequate capacities, and underinvestment,” said FAO Deputy Director-General Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo.

“This is an opportune time to re-visit our public policies, investment frameworks, governance structures and institutions. We are entering the post-2015 development era and we should mark it with solid commitments,” she added.

Agriculture will still account for most water consumption

By 2050 some 60 percent more food – up to 100 percent in developing countries – will be needed to feed the world while agriculture will continue to be the largest user of water globally, accounting in many countries for around two-thirds or more of supplies drawn from rivers, lakes and aquifers.

Even with increasing urbanization, in 2050 much of the global population and most of the poor will continue to earn their living in agriculture. Yet the sector will see the volume of water available to it reduced due to a competing demand from cities and industry, the FAO/WWC paper notes.

As such, through technology and management practice, farmers, especially smallholders, will need to find ways to increase their output on the limited land and water available.

Currently, water scarcity affects more than 40 percent of people in the world, a proportion set to reach two-thirds by 2050.

This is largely due to overconsumption of water for food production and agriculture. For example in large areas of South and East Asia, in the Near East, North Africa and North and Central America, more groundwater is used than can be replenished naturally.

In some regions intensive agriculture, industrial development and growing cities are responsible for polluting water sources, the paper adds.

Policy changes and investments essential

Improvements aimed at helping farmers increase food output using increasingly limited water resources — including in the area of crop and livestock genetics – are widely needed. Empowering farmers to better manage risks associated with water scarcity will also be critical, according to FAO and the WWC. This will require a combination of public and private investment as well as supportive training.

To address degradation and waste, water institutions should be more transparent in their allocation and pricing mechanisms, the two organizations argue. Crucially, water rights need to be allocated in fair and inclusive ways.

In particular the paper highlights the need to guarantee security of land and water tenure and access to credit in ways that enhance the role of women, who in Africa and Asia are responsible for much of farming.

Addressing climate change

The effects of global warming including unusual rainfall and temperature patterns and more frequent extreme weather events, such as droughts and cyclones, will have an increasing impact on agriculture and water resources in particular, today’s paper warns.

Mountain areas provide up to 80 per cent of the world’s water resources, but the ongoing retreat of glaciers as a result of climate change threatens the existence of those supplies in the future.

Forests on the other hand use water but also provide it – at least one third of the world’s biggest cities draw a significant portion of their drinking water from forested areas.

This underscores the importance of stronger efforts to protect forests and upland areas where much of the world’s freshwater supply originates.

Today’s paper calls for policies and investments to enhance adaptation at the watershed and household levels, such as improved water storage facilities, wastewater capture and reuse, as well as research that generates more resilient agricultural production systems for smallholders.

The World Water Forum (12-17 April) is the largest international event aimed at finding joint solutions to the planet’s main water challanges. In addition to jointly producing the White Paper with the World Water Council, FAO also teamed up with several partners and issued the 2030 Vision and Global Framework for Action, a set of policy guidelines and recommendations to improve groundwater management, during the forum.

Source:: 2050: Water supplies to dwindle in parts of the world, threatening food security and livelihoods / Better policies and more investments needed, including adaptation of agriculture to climate change

Categories: African Press Organization | Leave a comment

South Africa / UNHCR welcomes the response by government to xenophobia attacks

PRETORIA, South-Africa, April 14, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is deeply concerned by the continued outbreaks of xenophobia that have been occurring around the country, especially those in Durban which have led to the displacement of many foreign families, including refugees and asylum seekers and welcomes the increased response from Government to address the issue.

UNHCR staff and partners have been receiving reports from refugees all around the country that they are afraid to go about their daily lives for fear of being attacked. One foreign national employed as a doctor in Western Cape province told UNHCR officials that he was afraid to go to work in case something may happen to him.

“We welcome the public statements made by the President and senior government officials calling for an end to attacks on foreigners, including refugees and asylum seekers, said Clementine Nkweta-Salami, UNHCR’s Regional Representative for Southern Africa.

UNHCR is glad to see the increased police presence and the efforts being made to try to contain the violence and looting to date and encourages them to continue with their efforts to restore peace in the affected areas. UNHCR’s partners in Durban, Refugee Social Services and Lawyers for Human Rights, have been working with local authorities to ensure that assistance and services are provided to those displaced. UNHCR has also dispatched an assessment mission to Durban today.

“The vast majority of refugees and asylum seekers on arrival in the country present themselves to the authorities and are given documents that allow them to stay legally in the country. To lump them in the category of illegal migrants and or unlawful residents, is not only incorrect but serves to stigmatize them rather than to acknowledge that the circumstances of their plight requires that they be protected,” adds Nkweta-Salami.

Following the events earlier this year in Soweto, UNHCR together with its civil society partners have been raising our concerns with the government in a number of fora.

UNHCR further urges refugees and foreign traders to abide by the laws governing the country and refrain from trying to take the law into their own hands.

Source:: South Africa / UNHCR welcomes the response by government to xenophobia attacks

Categories: African Press Organization | Leave a comment