Command ship of Anti-Piracy Operation “ATALANTA” calling at Dar es Salaam port 15 to 19 May

The German Embassy is pleased to communicate the visit of Frigate “BAYERN”, the command ship of the international anti-piracy operation “ATALANTA”, which will be moored at the port of Dar es Salaam from Sunday 15th to Thursday, 19th May.

The navy frigate named after the German federal state of Bavaria boasts a length of almost 140 metres and carries more than 220 soldiers. Among them is the force commander of the operation “ATALANTA”, Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack, who commands the anti-piracy operation off the Somali coast and in adjoining waterways of the Indian Ocean.

Operation “Atalanta” has almost eradicated piracy in the waterways it controls: While pirate attacks were carried out against 174 ships in 2011 with 736 seafarers held hostage, there was not a single attack recorded in 2015. The composition of the operation varies. Typically it comprises four to six warships, two to three military aircraft and a total of 1200 soldiers.

The operation is carried out on the basis of a UN-Security Council resolution and as part of the European Union’s common defence and security policy. It is also supported with contributions from non-EU-countries such as Norway, Serbia, Montenegro, the Ukraine, New Zealand and most recently Columbia.

While in Dar es Salaam Rear Admiral Kaack will lay a wreath at the Askari-Monument to honour the African soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. Members of the press are invited to attend the ceremony on Tuesday, 17th May, at 11 am. Preceding the ceremony Rear Admiral Kaack will be received by the Lord Mayor of Dar es Salaam at Karimjee Hall at 9 am.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of German Embassy in Dar es Salaam.

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Source:: Command ship of Anti-Piracy Operation “ATALANTA” calling at Dar es Salaam port 15 to 19 May

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Canada concerned with Kenya’s decision to close refugee camps

The Honourable Stéphane Dion, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, today issued the following statement on the threat of closure of refugee camps in Kenya:

“Canada is very concerned about the Government of Kenya’s decision to disband its Department of Refugee Affairs and its intention to close the refugee camp at Dadaab.

“We appreciate the long-standing generosity of Kenya toward asylum seekers and refugees, and urge the Government of Kenya to ensure that protection and the provision of basic humanitarian assistance remain accessible to those who need it.

“Canada continues to call on the Government of Kenya, and all governments, to respect international refugee law and uphold the rights of refugees. All returns must be voluntary and conducted in accordance with domestic and international laws and while respecting the principle of non-refoulement.

“Canada supports the tripartite agreement between Kenya, Somalia and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) on the repatriation of Somali refugees from Kenya. Canada has provided significant support for refugee operations in Kenya, including more than $13 million to the UNHCR in Kenya and Somalia since 2015. Canada will also continue to support efforts to create the conditions in Somalia that would allow for a lasting solution based on a dignified and voluntary return for refugees.”

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Department of Foreign Affairs Canada.

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Uganda blocks social media sites for presidential inauguration

Ugandan authorities should immediately restore access to social media websites and refrain from censoring any websites in the future, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today. Regulators blocked access to Twitter and Facebook, and to the messaging service WhatsApp today, according to press reports.

Godfrey Mutabazi, executive director of the Uganda Communications Commission, told Reuters that security agencies had requested the move as “a measure to limit the possibility of terrorists’ taking advantage” of the presence of foreign leaders in the country for President Yoweri Museveni’s inauguration for a fifth term as president today.

It was the second time in three months that Ugandan regulators plunged the country into a state-enforced social-media blackout. The government blocked access to social media websites during the February 18 elections, CPJ reported at the time.

“The government’s citing fears of terrorism as a pretext for blocking social media is a threadbare argument that will convince no one,” said CPJ Deputy Executive Director Robert Mahoney. “Social media platforms are a vital form of news dissemination. The authorities know this. That’s why they are censoring them yet again.”

CPJ has tracked the shrinking space for free expression in Uganda, particularly following February’s elections. Ugandan Minister of Information Jim Muhwezi on May 5 warned that news outlet that reports on opposition protests risks being shut down.

Uganda’s opposition Forum for Democratic Change, citing local and international observers, alleges that the elections were marked by irregularities and should be held again, according to press reports.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

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Darfur attacks – UN Secretary-General and AU Commission Chair Statement

Joint statement by the Spokespeople for the UN Secretary-General and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission on Darfur

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, condemn Monday’s attacks by armed groups on a Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp and the shooting at a nearby market in Sortoni, North Darfur. The attacks resulted in the killing of five people, including two children and the wounding of several individuals, including a peacekeeper from Ethiopia serving with the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID).

The Chairperson and the Secretary General express their serious concern over the recent escalation of tensions between nomadic and IDP communities in the area. They call on them to refrain from acts of violence and resolve their disputes through dialogue. They urge the Sudanese authorities to investigate and promptly bring the perpetrators of these attacks to justice.

The Chairperson and the Secretary General underscore that the continued implementation of UNAMID’s mandate is imperative to maintain security and protect civilians across Darfur, including those displaced as a result of the most recent fighting in Jebel Marra between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan Liberation Army/Abdul Wahid.

The Chairperson and the Secretary-General urge all parties to the conflict in Darfur to resume negotiations without further delay, under the auspices of the African Union High Level Implementation Panel for Sudan and South Sudan (AUHIP), with a view to achieving a comprehensive political solution that addresses the root causes of the conflict.

New York, 12 May 2016

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.

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Uganda must respect legal obligation to arrest Omar Al Bashir

Arrest Omar Al Bashir

Omar Al Bashir has arrived in Kampala to attend today’s inauguration ceremony for Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Our organisations urge the Government of Uganda to take all necessary measures to arrest Omar Al Bashir, Sudanese President and wanted International Criminal Court (ICC) fugitive, while he is present in the country. Bashir, who has eluded arrest since 2009, faces charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“We are deeply concerned about declarations made today by President Museveni expressing his intention not to support or cooperate with the ICC. The situation is clear: Ugandan authorities should comply with their legal obligations under the Rome Statute, to which Uganda is a State Party, and arrest and surrender Al Bashir to the ICC.” declared our organisations.

On 4 March 2009, the ICC issued an arrest warrant against Bashir for crimes against humanity and war crimes committed in the region of Darfur. A second arrest warrant was issued on 12 July 2010, adding charges of genocide. Bashir has managed to avoid arrest since 2009, despite the ICC’s arrest warrants which oblige all States Parties to the Rome Statute to arrest him upon arrival within their territory.

The ICC Prosecutor, as well as the United Nations Security Council, have repeatedly underscored the legal imperative for states to cooperate in Bashir’s arrest and surrender, as an important step towards justice for the victims of international crimes committed in Darfur. Uganda has demonstrated its commitment to ending impunity for international crimes by enacting the International Criminal Court Act of 2010, which incorporates the provisions of the Rome Statute of the ICC into domestic law.

“The failure of Uganda to cooperate with the ICC and implement the pending arrest warrants against Bashir will serve a devastating blow to rule of law in the country and leave Darfur victims without any means of redress.” said our organisations.

Allowing Bashir to leave Uganda freely and flouting Rome Statute obligations to arrest and surrender Bashir to the ICC would represent a stark departure from Uganda’s previous support to the ICC and the pursuit of international criminal justice. In 2004 Uganda called on the ICC to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during the conflict between the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the national Ugandan authorities. The trial of Dominic Ongwen, an LRA member who surrendered himself in January 2015, is due to begin later this month.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH).

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U.S. Delivers Armored MRAP Vehicles to Egyptian Military

Egyptian military vehicles

Today, the first shipment of MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) vehicles from the United States arrived in the port of Alexandria for delivery to the Egyptian military. The heavily armored MRAP vehicles are specifically designed to protect soldiers from blasts from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), landmines, and from other types of attacks. Today’s delivery is the first batch of a total of 762 MRAP vehicles that the United States is transferring to Egypt. This new capability will be used to combat terrorism and promote stability in the region.

Originally designed to support United States military operations in Afghanistan, MRAPs provide enhanced levels of protection to soldiers, and are proven to save lives. The U.S. Embassy Senior Defense Official in Cairo, Major General Charles Hooper, stated, “The delivery of these MRAPs to Egypt provides a crucial capability needed during these times of regional instability and is part of the continuing strong relationship between the U.S. and Egypt.”

This delivery of MRAPs is part of the U.S. Department of Defense’s Excess Defense Articles grant program, in which the vehicles are transferred at no-cost to the Government of Egypt. This delivery is the most recent step taken by the U.S. government in support of Egypt’s fight against terrorism and is part of a broad range of military cooperation initiatives between the two countries.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Embassy – Cairo.

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Hurd: UK aid helping Sierra Leone move beyond Ebola

A brighter future after Ebola

During his first visit to Sierra Leone, International Development Minister Nick Hurd stressed the UK’s commitment to helping Sierra Leone build a brighter future after Ebola and reaffirmed the importance of creating jobs, generating investment and putting young people at the centre of the country’s recovery.

Minister Hurd’s visit celebrates the longstanding historical ties between the UK and Sierra Leone, where he met President Koroma, Chief of Staff Sesay, Finance Minister Kargbo, Energy Minister Macauley and Health Minister Fofanah to further strengthen our relationship.

Minister Hurd participated in a ceremony at Hastings Logistics Base to mark the donation of the UK’s remaining Ebola Response assets and medical equipment to Sierra Leone to help build the country’s emergency response capacity. This signifies the next stage of the UK’s partnership with Sierra Leone, which helped defeat Ebola and is now strengthening the country’s health system to respond to future public emergencies.

The minister also held a high-level discussion with key business leaders to encourage investment into Sierra Leone and boost job opportunities – which are vital for the future success of Sierra Leone and its people.

Young people have a vital role to play in delivering a prosperous future for Sierra Leone. With 70% of Sierra Leoneons under the age of 35, the minister spent time with young people to discuss their aspirations for Sierra Leone and their own lives.

Nick Hurd said:

I am in Sierra Leone 6 months after the country was declared Ebola free to mark the partnership between Sierra Leone and the UK in tackling this deadly disease. The UK led the international response and stood alongside the people of Sierra Leone at this difficult time, now together we must look to the future: to creating jobs, improving education and generating investment to boost economic development. The UK is committed to this strong partnership to build a brighter future for generations to come in Sierra Leone.

During his visit to Freetown, Minister Hurd attended an ‘Energy Revolution’ event to witness how Sierra Leone is starting to ignite the solar market. He also signed the first of the UK’s Energy Africa campaign compact agreements with the government of Sierra Leone. This will outline how governments, businesses and civil society can work together to break down the barriers to the growth of solar energy and help accelerate energy access across Africa.

On signing the compact, Nick Hurd said:

It is unacceptable that today more than 600 million people across sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to electricity. In Sierra Leone alone, less than 10% of the population have electricity, and in rural areas where the majority of people live, it is practically non-existent.

Working in partnership with Sierra Leone, the Energy Africa campaign can help to change that. I am very proud to sign the first ever compact agreement on this campaign with the government of Sierra Leone to ignite the solar energy market – helping to power business, hospitals and homes, making sure the poorest people no matter where they live can access clean, reliable and affordable energy.

Since the launch of the Energy Africa campaign in October 2015 African support has continued to grow with countries across the continent pledging to join Africa’s solar energy revolution. The new compact is part of the UK’s Energy Africa campaign, with 10 nations including Sierra Leone already pledging their support to increase access to energy, crucial for a stronger recovery.

By joining forces with Energy Africa, Sierra Leone is rising to the sustainable energy challenge and will help bring forward universal energy access from 2080 to 2030.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Department for International Development (DFID).

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First AU Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on trade, industry and minerals

First AU Specialized Technical Committee (STC) on trade, industry and minerals

INVITATION TO REPRESENTATIVES OF THE MEDIA

When: Monday 16 to Saturday 24 May 2016

Where: Medium Conference Hall – AU Headquarters, Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia

Who: Organised by the Department of Trade and Industry

Format The Inaugural Conference of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Trade and Industry and Minerals is split into the meeting of Senior Officials and the Meeting of Ministers which is structured as stated below.

Meeting of Senior Officials from 16 – 22 may 2016

Senior Officials from the Ministries of Trade, Industry and Minerals will meet in a plenary session to consider the Rules of Procedure for the STC and other cross cutting issues. The Meeting will also meet in parallel sessions to consider specialised items as follows;

Parallel Session I: Senior Trade Officials to review and consider specialised reports;

Parallel Session II: Senior Industry Officials to review and consider specialised reports;

Parallel Session III: Senior Industry Officials to review and consider specialised reports;

Meeting of Ministers from 23 – 24 may 2016

The Ministerial Session of the Conference is scheduled for the 23rd – 24th May 2016 on the first day, Ministers will have an interactive Panel Discussion with strategic partners in an open session. Ministers will also consider the Report of the meeting of Senior Officials and other strategic reports in a closed session.

Objective: The overall objectives of the inaugural Conference of the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Trade and Industry and Minerals is to provide strategic advice to the Policy Organs of the African Union, ensure implementation of agreed programs and projects as well as establish synergies, linkages and complementarities in the areas of trade, industry and mining in line with AU Agenda 2063 and its Ten Year Implementation Plan.

More specifically, the AU Specialized Technical Committee on Trade and Industry and Mineral aims to attain the following objectives:

i. To review and adopt the Rules of Procedure of the Specialized Technical Committee on Trade and Industry and Mineral resources;

ii. To consider various strategic documents related to Trade, Industry and Mineral resources in Africa;

iii. To identify synergies, linkages and complementarities in on-going programmes in the areas of Trade, Industry and Mineral resources; and

iv. To operationalize a functional operational modalities for coordination mechanisms among the ministries of Trade, Industry and Minerals at Member State level.

Participants: Participants will include AU Ministers responsible for Trade, Industry and Minerals, and their relevant senior officials; Regional Economic Communities; and collaborating institutions as observers.

Context:

Recent developments in the global production systems in particular the internationalisation of production have implications for industrial, trade and integration policies in Africa. In the context of a developmental integration strategy, Africa can foster greater linkages between trade development and industrialisation through promoting the establishment of regional value chains in line with the objectives of Agenda 2063. It is in this context that the Commission is organising the inaugural session of the STC-TIM to be held under the overall theme, “Promoting Regional Integration through Trade and Industrialisation in Africa”.

Under the Ten Year Implementation Plan of Agenda 2063, the Department of Trade and Industry responsible for the implementation of two flagship projects, the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) and the preparation of the African Commodities Strategy. In addition to coordinating these projects, the Department is also expected to play a significant role in the Integrated High Speed Train project which is coordinated by the Department of Infrastructure and Energy. For optimal results the Commission should establish synergies, linkages and complementarities in the priority projects.

Journalists are invited to cover the official opening and closing ceremonies of the FIRST AU SPECIALIZED TECHNICAL COMMITTEE ON TRADE, INDUSTRY AND MINERALS, on Monday 16 and Saturday 24 May 2016.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union Commission (AUC).

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MSF response to new WHO recommendations for shortened MDR-TB treatment regimen

 MSF response to new WHO recommendations just released for shortened MDR-TB treatment regimen

MSF Response: You may have seen that WHO has just released a selection of their new recommendations for the diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant TB, including recommending the shortened DR-TB regimen (9-12 months, instead of 24 months). See this BBC story just released: http://www.bbc.com/news/health-36271084

The more comprehensive WHO TB Guidelines are slated to be released in June.

MSF is already implementing these guidelines in our projects in Swaziland and Uzbekistan, and have worked closely with our TB medical staff to develop our response to this news.

BELOW: Please find two response statements from MSF on the guidelines

Overall, MSF welcomes the WHO announcement to halve the cost and time for treating multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB).

For media wishing to illustrate this announcement with the lived experiences of DR-TB patients, please find a number of strong patient stories on MSF’s TB & Me blog, which is devoted to our patient’s voices.

You might be interested in these stories (search for names):

  • Tawanda Shoko from Zimbabwe finished treatment for MDR-TB 2 months ago and describes what it was like living with the side effects of treatment for many years
  • Elizabeth Wangeci from Kenya who today has her last day of treatment for MDR TB.

MSF spokespersons are available for media interviews:

  • Dr Phillip du Cros, Head of MSF’s medical unit in the UK and an infectious disease doctor
  • Dr Grania Brigden, TB/AMR Advisor, MSF Access Campaign
  • Other spokespersons are available on request, depending on nature of inquiries!

Best regards,

Angela

BACKGROUND to WHO DR-TB guidelines:

The World Health Organization has just recommended that countries move toward shorter treatment regimens for some people with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB), including people co-infected with HIV, children, and people with simple MDR-TB who have not been treated before or and have no known resistance to any of the drugs in the regimen. This recommendation comes following results from a number of large observation cohort studies using the shortened regimen.

Current DR-TB treatments usually run for 24 months and cause significant side effects; shortened regimens, which run as few as 9 months, lessen disruption of patients’ lives and are easier for patients to tolerate and adhere to. MSF began implementation of the shortened DR-TB treatment course in Uzbekistan in 2013 before expanding use of the regimen to Swaziland.

WHO is also recommending that people with confirmed rifampicin-resistant TB or multidrug-resistant TB be tested for extensively-drug-resistant (XDR) and pre-XDR-TB using rapid molecular tests as the initial test, so that they can be offered treatment that is appropriate for them as soon as possible.

MSF responds to the new WHO recommendations with the following two statements:

“The prospect of two years of TB treatment drives parents to hide their children from treatment, teenagers to abandon their ambitions, adults to decide between providing for their family or getting healthy and the elderly to wish for death. The fear of relentless suffering due to side effects manages to outweigh any hope of cure or returning to a normal life. But when I tell patients that it’s only nine months of treatment, they respond, ‘I can do that.’”

– Dr. David Lister, TB doctor for MSF in Uzbekistan and coordinator of the 9-Month Short Course Regimen study.

“WHO’s recommendation to move toward shorter treatment regimens for some people with drug-resistant tuberculosis (DR-TB) is a positive step and countries should waste no time in putting these recommendations into practice, where feasible and appropriate. Although this treatment isn’t suitable for all patients, MSF has seen positive outcomes using a nine-month regimen in Swaziland and Uzbekistan. Shorter regimens are easier for people to tolerate and more effective for some people with DR-TB, and significantly lower costs could enable TB programmes to scale up treatment for many more people.

“Ultimately, we can’t lose sight of the desperate need for completely new treatment regimens that work for all people with drug-resistant TB and that completely eliminate the old, toxic drugs still used in these shorter regimens, particularly the daily painful injections that people must endure.

“We also welcome WHO’s recommendation that people should be diagnosed for pre-XDR or XDR-TB using the latest rapid molecular tests that can detect resistance to key second-line drugs; this is essential to ensure people who can benefit from a shorter treatment regimen can be quickly identified and started on the treatment that’s right for them.

“The newly-recommended tests are only suitable for use in central or regional-level laboratories, so in the long run, in order to get the most number of people diagnosed and on the correct treatment, we need rapid molecular diagnostic tests that can detect drug resistance and can be used in more peripheral settings.

“These recommendations come ahead of expected new guidelines from WHO for the management of MDR-TB, but countries can already start to update their national treatment guidelines so people can benefit from the latest advances in MDR-TB care.”

– Dr. Philipp du Cros, Head of MSF’s Manson Unit and infectious disease specialist

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Médecins sans frontières (MSF).

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European Parliament: Mejlis ban in Crimea, arrests in The Gambia, elections in Djibouti

EU Parliament and Human Rights issues

Parliament condemns the banning of the Mejlis, the representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars, urges the immediate release of all protestors arrested in an April electoral reform demonstration in The Gambia, and calls for a thorough investigation into the transparency of the re-election of President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh in Djibouti, in three resolutions voted on Thursday.

Crimean Tatars

MEPs strongly condemn the decision of the so-called Supreme Court of Crimea on 26 April 2016 to ban the Mejlis, the legitimate and recognised representative body of ethnic Crimean Tatars. They demand the immediate reversal of this decision, which they say constitutes “systemic and targeted persecution of Crimean Tatars” and “is an attempt to expel them from Crimea, which is their historical motherland”.

They urge the Russian Federation, which under international humanitarian law bears ultimate responsibility as the occupying state in Crimea, to uphold the legal order in Crimea, protect citizens from arbitrary judicial or administrative measures, and conduct independent international investigations of any violations of international law or human rights committed by the occupying forces and the so-called local authorities.

The resolution also reiterates Parliament’s severe condemnation of “the illegal annexation of the Crimean peninsula by the Russian Federation” on 20 February 2014, which it says was a “breach of international law”, and also its “full commitment to the sovereignty, political independence, unity and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders”.

The Gambia

Parliament expresses its deepest concern about the rapidly-worsening security and human rights situation in The Gambia, deplores the attacks of 14 and 16 April 2016 against peaceful demonstrators, and calls for the immediate release of all protestors arrested during this demonstration for electoral reform ahead of presidential elections scheduled for December 2016. It also calls for swift and independent investigations into these events, and into the reported death in custody of opposition activist Solo Sandeng, a prominent leader in the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP).

Parliament firmly condemns the forced disappearances, arbitrary detention, torture, and other human rights violations targeting dissenting voices against the government of President Yahya Jammeh, such as journalists, human rights defenders, political opponents and critics, as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

While the international community should actively monitor the December elections, the EU and its member states should consider freezing all non-humanitarian assistance to the government of The Gambia and imposing travel bans or other targeted sanctions on officials responsible for serious human rights abuses, adds the resolution.

Djibouti

MEPs call for a thorough investigation into the transparency of the April 2016 elections in Djibouti, which produced a landslide vote of 87.1% in favour of a fourth five-year term for President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh. The poll was criticised by opposition parties and rights groups as having been obtained by political repression.

Fair elections, free from intimidation are important, say MEPs, repeating the EU’s call for the results from each polling station in both the 2013 and 2016 elections to be published. The electoral experts mission offered by the EU to monitor the elections was turned down by the Djibouti authorities, they note.

The resolution also condemns acts of rape allegedly committed by Djibouti soldiers, reported by NGOs and highlighted by Djibouti women who went on hunger strike in Paris and Brussels to demand an international inquiry. Finally, it condemns the lack of an independent press in Djibouti, and the monitoring and censorship of websites critical of the government.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of European Parliament.

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MainOne hosts session on unlocking Africa’s digital potential

MainOne hosts session on unlocking Africa’s digital potential at International Telecommunications Week

 

For the fifth year in a row, MainOne (www.MainOne.net) continues to raise Africa’s digital profile and highlight its untapped potential at the recently concluded International Telecoms Week held in Chicago from May 8th to May 11th, 2016 (http://www.InternationalTelecomsWeek.com).

The Company hosted the Africa Panel Session attended by a mix of Africa’s leading wholesale carriers, mobile network operators and a host of global service providers and content distribution companies at the annual global gathering of telecommunications companies. It was an occasion for these industry leaders to share perspectives with a global audience on the recent developments in the region as well as opportunities and challenges being faced across the region towards the wide-spread proliferation of broadband services access. It was equally a gathering for discussing the needed impetus for getting the continent ready for the global information explosion already taking place in select parts of the continent, where Internet consumption by individuals is beginning to compare favorably with consumption patterns in advanced economies.

Focus areas of discussion included the need for the adoption of shared infrastructure models in order to reduce the cost of retail broadband services in comparison to reductions that have taken place in wholesale pricing over the years to within less than 5% of retail broadband prices. The expert panel strongly advocated the view that the adoption of new business and regulatory models for shared infrastructure would foster the pervasive digital explosion much needed on the African continent rather than depend on proprietary network infrastructure built by mobile companies with thin pipes to deliver voice services. Discussants also engaged on the need to support the growth of local content as a means for growing intra-continent traffic and eliminate cross-border barriers to the exchange of information. It was equally stressed that liberalization would continue to play a major role in the development of internet proliferation in Africa with countries such as Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa used as models of advances being made in connecting more people on the continent.

Speakers at the event included executives from a diverse set of players including MainOne, Google, PCCW Global, WIOCC, and Liquid Telecom, with an in-depth analyst presentation reviewing developments on the continent by Russell Southwood of Balancing Act Africa. Various participants highlighted infrastructure deployments such as MainOne’s metro fiber builds in Lagos, Nigeria; Liquid Telecom’s fiber backhaul across East and Southern Africa, and Google’s fiber last mile projects in Uganda and Ghana to demonstrate what can be achieved by with the availability of shared infrastructure offering uncapped and reliable bandwidth services.

MainOne has remained at the forefront of the broadband initiative in West Africa with investments in telecoms infrastructure across the region and sponsorships of major fora to advance broadband activities in the region such as the Africa Panel Session at the International Telecoms Week, a showcase that has become a must attend session for players across the continent.

In its 5+ years of operation, the company has established a strong reputation as the preferred provider of connectivity and data center solutions providing regional connectivity solutions and creating access for global content providers seeking direct access to subscribers on the sub-Continent. The company has continued to extend its network reach organically and through partnerships and has coverage in eight West African countries including Nigeria and Ghana.

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

Media Enquiries:
MainOne
Jumoke Akande
marketing@mainone.net

About MainOne: “MainOne (www.MainOne.net) (also known as “Main One Cable” or “Main One”) is a leading provider of telecom services and network solutions for businesses in West Africa. Our world-class infrastructure enhances the productivity and profitability of our customers online. Since its launch in 2010, MainOne has developed a reputation for highly reliable services to become the preferred provider of wholesale Internet services to major telecom operators, ISPs, government agencies, large enterprise, and educational institutions in West Africa. MainOne’s world class submarine cable system running down the coast of West Africa, state of the art IP NGN network, growing regional and metro terrestrial fiber optic networks, and data center facilities enable broadband services for businesses needing solutions in West Africa. Our network is interconnected and peers with leading operators and internet exchanges worldwide to provide global reach to our customers.”
Twitter: @MainOneService
LinkedIn: MainOne
facebook: MainOne
www.MainOne.net

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Rwanda – Skilling for Change initiative empowers 16,000 women

Skilling for Change initiative empowers 16,000 women through financial literacy training, creating over 2,300 new businesses and 1,500 new jobs

Over 2,300 new businesses and 1,500 new jobs have been created in two years by Rwandan women entrepreneurs involved in Skilling for Change, a unique collaboration between the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (http://www.CherieBlairFoundation.org), Accenture and CARE International.

The project launched in 2014 with the aim of supporting 15,000 rural Rwandan women to secure long-term economic independence by providing them with the skills, knowledge and tools they need to turn their micro enterprises into profitable and sustainable businesses. To date, it has provided financial literacy and investment readiness training to 16,146 women engaged in CARE International’s Village Savings and Loan Associations in the districts of Rulindo and Gicumbi. Through the project, 2,353 women have started new businesses, with over 1,535 new jobs being created

Rwanda has one of the fastest growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, and boasts one of the highest levels of financial inclusion in east Africa. But there are still significant gender gaps in economic activity. Research shows that in 2014, 28% of women had access to a bank account, compared to 38% of men – a gap of 10 percentage points. In 2015, this gap had increased to 15 percentage points, with 31% of women having access to a bank account, compared to 46% of men(1).

As the country’s economic development progresses, it is crucial that women are able to access the opportunities afforded by such growth. Skilling for Change aims to address the gender gap in economic activity and puts a special focus on empowering women to access financial services.

To date, Skilling for Change has linked 3,530 women to formal financial services, over 1,145 of whom have accessed a loan. The project has also collaborated with the Kenya Commercial Bank in Rwanda to roll out a range of products to enable women to access savings and loans via mobile phones. A number of women have also been trained to become mobile banking agents, so that they can process financial transactions for others in their local communities.

Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is participating in the World Economic Forum meeting in Kigali. She said, “Women entrepreneurs have the potential to shape Africa’s economic future. The success of my Foundation’s Skilling for Change project in Rwanda has shown that when women are given the skills and tools they need to flourish, entire communities and economies benefit. Unlocking the full potential of women entrepreneurs is crucial to driving growth across Africa, and, indeed, the world.”

Skilling for Change is supported by Accenture’s corporate citizenship initiative (http://www.apo.af/uFi1yo), Skills to Succeed, which is equipping more than three million people around the world with the skills to get a job or build a business.

Laurie Lee, CEO of CARE International, said, “Putting women at the centre of development efforts is a catalyst for fighting poverty. When women are empowered to make and control their own money, the impact on their own lives and the lives of their families can be nothing short of life-changing.”

(1) The World Economic Forum, Global Gender Gap Report:
2015: http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2015/
2014: http://reports.weforum.org/global-gender-gap-report-2014/

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women.

Images of the Skilling for Change project are available on request. For more information please contact:

Tallulah Perez-Sphar, Communications Manager, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
E: tperez@cherieblairfoundation.org
T: +44 (0)20 7258 3139

Notes to Editor

Cherie Blair, Founder of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and wife of former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is participating in the World Economic Forum meeting in Kigali, which is taking place between 11-13 May. She is speaking at a session titled, ‘New Solutions: Transformation of Financial Services’, on Thursday 12 May.

Please note: Laurie Lee from CARE International was not present at the World Economic Forum meeting in Kigali.

About the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women
The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women (http://www.apo.af/z3jJiS) provides women entrepreneurs in developing and emerging markets with the skills, technology, networks and access to financial services that they need to become successful small and growing business owners, so that they can contribute to their economies and have a stronger voice in their societies. Working in partnership with local and international non-profit organisations, the private and public sector, the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women develops projects with sustainable solutions to the challenges women entrepreneurs face through three programmes: Enterprise Development, Mentoring and Mobile Technology.

About CARE International
CARE International (http://www.CareInternational.org.uk) fights poverty and injustice in more than 80 countries around the world to help the world’s poorest people find routes out of poverty. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives in the aftermath.

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Source:: Skilling for Change initiative empowers 16,000 women through financial literacy training, creating over 2,300 new businesses and 1,500 new jobs

Categories: AFRICA, ECONOMY, Rwanda | Leave a comment