Nov 202014
 

VICTORIA, Seychelles, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — SkyVision Global Networks Ltd. (http://www.skyvision.net), a leading global communications provider, today announced the commencement of its managed IP Trunking and Private Network solutions to Cable & Wireless Seychelles (CWS), part of the Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) group of companies operating in 38 markets worldwide. The project, managed by SkyVision, consists of providing IP Trunking to the main island of Seychelles (Mahe), and a private VSAT network for its surrounding islands.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/skyvision.jpg

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1571 (Dror Limor, SkyVision VP Sales)

Established in 1893, Cable & Wireless Seychelles (CWS) is the leading telecommunications company in Seychelles, where over 95% of local businesses make up the company’s broad customer base. In an effort to provide viable communications between the main island and 12 neighboring, smaller islands, CWS required a reliable and efficient network solution that would include fibre restoration for back-up, and Internet service with additional back up for their key customers.

To meet CWS’s immediate needs, SkyVision commissioned its IP Trunking service, based on the latest technology developments of DVB-S2X, enabling a cost-effective yet Telco-grade solution. In addition, SkyVision installed and deployed its proprietary Private Network solution for a government project, in close cooperation with Seychelles’ Cable & Wireless office, the Islands Development Company (IDC). Connection from the main island to smaller remote islands was successfully implemented using the Romantis VSAT platform which SkyVision recently introduced to the market. This unique solution modernizes the communication between main and remote islands. SkyVision’s 24/7 Network Operations Centre (NOC) supervises the services, enabling CWS to efficiently manage their network and focus on their core objectives and reach operational efficiencies.

“We see an increase in the need for reliable and cost-effective satellite communications, even in countries where submarine cables have been existent for several years now. As last mile connectivity remains a necessity, SkyVision intends to continue expanding its reach and providing its customers with the best suited solution for their business requirements,” comments Dror Limor, SkyVision VP Sales.

This project further reinforces SkyVision’s leading market position as a key global communications provider. This is made possible through the company’s network of local partners and representatives, and subsidiaries in Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and South Africa, coupled with the company’s hubs and PoPs in multiple locations in Africa and worldwide.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of SkyVision Global Networks Ltd.

Contact:

Iris Tovim

Marketing Communications Director

SkyVision Global Networks

+44 20 8387 1750

irist@skyvision.net

About Cable & Wireless Seychelles

Cable & Wireless Seychelles is part of Cable & Wireless Communications (CWC) – a world leading group of businesses operating in 38 markets worldwide. Established in 1893, Cable & Wireless Seychelles is the most profitable Telecommunications Company in Seychelles with over 95% of businesses choosing us as their provider of choice. Our offering includes fixed, mobile and broadband services for residential customers as well as tailored, turn-key solutions for businesses supported by an ongoing commitment to quality, value and the best customer experience. For more information, visit the website at: http://www.cwseychelles.com.

About SkyVision

SkyVision is a global communications service provider, offering comprehensive, integrated solutions to meet all corporate, government and telco market requirements. With an emphasis on its customers’ local or regional requirements, SkyVision offers superior network connectivity solutions. Known for its innovative approach, the company offers an extensive suite of both customized solutions and industry-standard services for end-to-end IP connectivity (http://www.skyvision.net/enterprise-solutions), managed from its international gateways and selected local hubs. SkyVision’s global-reaching network connects its customers to the Internet backbone with more than ten satellite platforms and a network of high-capacity fiber optic cables, via its gateways in Africa, Europe, North America and the Middle East as well as multiple points of presence (POPs) in Africa. SkyVision currently commands a satellite and fiber network IP connectivity (http://www.skyvision.net/service/fiber-solutions) spanning 100 countries. The company’s C-Band and Ku-Band VSAT network solutions (http://www.skyvision.net/services/lobby2/Internet%20Connectivity) draw on SkyVision’s extensive space segment inventory from leading satellite providers and its capacity is carefully tailored to customers’ individual needs for optimal cost-effectiveness. Visit www.skyvision.net.

Nov 202014
 

LILONGWE, Malawi, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — This is the first Senior NCO Academy in sub-Saharan Africa and the Malawian Defense Forces (MDF) plans to make this a regional course of excellence. The Senior NCO Academy was p…

Nov 202014
 

JOHANNESBURG, South-Africa, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Gross gambling and casino revenues showed subdued growth in 2013 in the wake of a faltering economy. Gross gambling increased only 4.3%. The slowdown in gross gambling revenue was centred on casinos, the largest category at 76% of the market or R16.5 billion.

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

Photo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/photos/1406197.jpg (Nikki Forster, PwC Hospitality and Gambling Industry Leader for South Africa)

Some casino operators in certain regions believe the slowdown in 2013 was due in part to growing competition from electronic bingo terminals, limited payout machines (LPMs) and sports betting shops, which are becoming more prevalent in the industry.

These are some of the highlights of PwC’s third annual edition on the gambling industry entitled ‘Raising the stakes in Africa: Gambling outlook 2014-2018 (South Africa – Nigeria – Kenya)’ (http://www.pwc.com). The publication focuses on segments within the gambling industry with detailed forecasts and analysis. The National Gambling Board of South Africa is the source for South African historical data.

Of the three countries included in the analysis, South Africa has the largest overall gambling market as well as the largest land-based casino gambling market. Gross land-based casino gambling revenues totalled R16.5 billion in South Africa in 2013 compared with only R428 million in Nigeria and R195 million in Kenya.

Nikki Forster, PwC Hospitality and Gambling Industry Leader for South Africa, says: “The South African gambling industry is a vibrant and dynamic sector, but is facing the challenges of a slow economic climate and a changing regulatory environment. In particular the casino sector is facing increasing competition from other gambling facilities.

“We expect slower economic growth to lead to slower gross casino gambling revenues in Nigeria and Kenya and continued slow growth over the next two years. We then look for a pick-up in growth in each country as economic conditions improve,” adds Forster.

The South African gambling market

Casinos are by far the largest component of the gambling industry with 76% of total gross gambling revenue. To counter the slower growth, casino upgrades and expansions to existing facilities are expected to boost a growth in revenue.

Bingo, the smallest category, continued to be the fastest-growing category in 2013 with gross gambling revenues rising 67.5%, the result of the introduction of bingo in Mpumalanga, the North West and the Eastern Cape. LPMs increased 17.8% and sports betting rose 18.5% in 2013 compared with 4.6% growth for horse racing.

“Gross gambling revenues as a whole are expected to expand from R21.8 billion in 2013 to R29.5 billion in 2018, a 6.2% compound annual increase,” says Forster.

Gambling taxes and levies

Gambling taxes and levies totalled R2.2 billion in 2013, up 6.6% from 2012. Most of the gambling taxes and levies in 2013 were generated in Gauteng (R848 million), KwaZulu-Natal (R535 million) and the Western Cape (R459 million), which together accounted for 82% of the total. Eastern Cape at R122 million was the only other province above R100 million in 2013.

The estimated deemed output VAT collected on gambling revenues from casinos in 2013 amounted to R1.8 billion, or 11% of gross gambling revenue.

Casino gambling

Gauteng was the leading province in casino gross gambling revenues at R7 billion in 2013, down from R7.2 billion in 2012. KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape were next at R3.1 billion and R2.5 billion, respectively, each up from 2012. These three provinces accounted for 76.4% of total casino gross gambling revenues.

“Improving economic conditions and casino upgrades and expansions are anticipated to lead to faster increases during 2016 to 2018,” adds Forster. For the forecast period as a whole, growth will average 3.9% compounded annually to R20 billion in 2018.

Limited payout machines

LPMs, primarily located in bars, clubs and restaurants, accounted for 8% of gross gambling revenues in 2013, up from 7% in 2012. Continued installation of LPM machines in new locations is expected to expand the market. However, competition from electronic bingo terminals is likely to lead to slower LPM growth during the latter part of the forecast period.

In contrast with the casino market, Gauteng ranked only third in LPM in gross gambling revenues at R287 million in 2013, representing 16.5% of the total. The Western Cape had the largest market in 2013 at R551 million with KwaZulu-Natal next at R404 million.

Sports betting

Horse racing is the dominant component of the sports betting market with R1.8 billion gross gambling revenues in 2013, compared with R1 billion for betting on other sports events. “Horse racing is a relatively mature market with growth during the past three years at less than 5% annually. On the other hand, sports betting has been expanding rapidly, rising by 18.5% in 2013 and more than five fold since 2009. “The proliferation of sport betting shops and online wagering is driving this market. We expect sports betting to overtake horse racing within the next five years,” Forster adds.

Aided by a boost in FIFA World Cup wagering in 2014 and 2018 and the Rugby World Cup in 2015, gross gambling revenues are projected to expand at a 12% compound annual rate to an estimated R5 billion in 2018 from R2.8 billion in 2013.

Bingo

Bingo is the smallest category accounting for only 3% of total gross gambling revenue, a 2% increase from 2012. In July 2014, 12 shopping malls applied for licenses to install electronic bingo terminals. These applications have been challenged by anti-gambling campaigners who contend that access to these terminals will contribute to gambling addiction. It is expected that electronic bingo terminals will continue to expand in the provinces where they are already available.

Bingo is projected to become the fastest-growing category during the next five years with a projected 19% compound annual increase in gross gambling revenues from R732 million in 2013 to R1.8 billion in 2018.

National lottery

The National Lottery is expected to remain the slowest growing category in the industry. Gross gambling revenues are projected to rise from R2.4 billion in 2013 to a projected R2.5 billion in 2018, a 1.2% compound annual increase. A new operator takes over in 2015.

Casino gambling in Nigeria

Currently there are three licensed casinos in Nigeria. Most forms of gambling are illegal, other than skill-based card games, backgammon, and the national online lottery. Casino gross gambling revenues have grown at double-digit rates during the past three years, including a 19.4% increase in 2013.

As a result of a slowing in the economic growth rate and the adverse impact on tourism due to the Ebola outbreak in that country, slower growth is expected in the industry. Growth is expected to drop to 5% in 2014 and to 4.5% in 2015. For the forecast period as a whole, gross gambling revenues will expand at a projected 7.7% compound annual rate to USD58 million in 2018.

Casino gambling in Kenya

Almost all forms of gambling are permitted in Kenya, including online and mobile gambling. The casino market held up well in 2013 despite concerns about terrorism, particularly after the Westgate shopping mall attack in September 2013. Gross gambling revenue rose 7.6%, an improvement over the 5.6% increase in 2012, but well below the double-digit gains recorded in 2009-11.

Casino gambling revenue growth is expected to drop to 4.9% in 2014 and to 4.1% in 2015 following the imposition of a withholding tax on gambling winnings and slower economic growth. For the forecast period as a whole, gross gambling revenue growth will average 6.8% on a compound annual basis, rising from USD18.4 million in 2013 to USD25.6 million in 2018.

Casinos never sleep, nor should digital

South Africans are increasingly attracted to land-based casinos and large shopping malls. This, together with a rise in the number of shopping centres, has resulted in a convergence in the retail, restaurant and gambling industries. There is a heightened need for casinos to find the best way to gain the competitive edge on their rivals and ultimately increase revenues. Nowadays it is essential that casinos are ‘on’. Being ‘on’ means creating 24/7 virtual open networks in the form of free Wi-Fi spots that connect people on the floor to casinos.

In addition, casinos need to adopt a scientific approach to their marketing and customer service strategies by analysing and identifying their ‘key players’ and understanding how best to engage with them.

Conclusion

Forster concludes: “Overall, the gambling industry is vibrant and dynamic. However, as a business the margins are low, a large portion of the costs are fixed, regulatory compliance is stringent and profitability depends on volume.

“On the whole, the outlook for the industry is positive, with the further rollout of LPMs and electronic bingo machines in the pipeline that will further contribute to the expected growth in revenues.”

Distribué par APO (African Press Organization) pour PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC).

Contacts:

Nikki Forster: PwC Hospitality and Gambling Industry Leader for South Africa

Office: + 27 11 797 5362

Email: nikki.forster@za.pwc.com

OR

Lindiwe Magana: Media Relations Manager, PwC

Office: + 27 11 797 5042

Email: lindiwe.magana@za.pwc.com

About PwC:

PwC (http://www.pwc.com) helps organisations and individuals create the value they’re looking for. We’re a network of firms in 157 countries with more than 195,000 people who are committed to delivering quality in assurance, tax and advisory services. Find out more and tell us what matters to you by visiting us at www.pwc.com

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see www.pwc.com/structure for further details.

Nov 202014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Thursday criticized a recent amendment to the Criminal Code of The Gambia that creates a broad and vague offence of “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by life imprisonment. He also expressed alarm at reports of a wave of arbitrary arrests and detention of individuals perceived to be homosexual in The Gambia.

The amendment to the Criminal Code was approved by the National Assembly earlier this year and signed into law by the President on 9 October 2014. It targets, among others, so-called “serial offenders” (meaning individuals with a previous conviction for homosexuality), persons living with HIV, and consensual same-sex partners of persons with disabilities – all of whom could be imprisoned for life. The new law replicates a section of the Ugandan Anti-Homosexuality Act denounced by the former High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Secretary-General and the African Commission Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders.

“This law violates fundamental human rights – among them the right to privacy, to freedom from discrimination and freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention. It adds to the stigma and abuses that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people already face in The Gambia,” High Commissioner Zeid said.

“Governments have a duty to protect people from prejudice, not to add to it. Public hostility towards gay and lesbian people can never justify violating their fundamental human rights. Instead, it requires increased measures to protect them against human rights violations. This has been reaffirmed by UN human rights mechanisms and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights,” he added.

Since the new law was approved, representatives of The Gambia’s National Intelligence Agency have been reportedly conducting door-to-door enquiries to identify, arrest and detain individuals believed to be homosexual, and some of those detained have allegedly also been subjected to violent attacks and mistreatment. In other countries, similar laws have also led to an increase in violence against members of the LGBT community, including mob attacks.

“I call on The Gambia to fulfil its international obligations to promote and protect the human rights of all persons without discrimination, to repeal all provisions of the Criminal Code that criminalize relations between consenting adults and to put in place an immediate moratorium on arrests on the basis of such laws,” the High Commissioner said.

Nov 202014
 

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) (http://www.philips.com) and the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation (http://www.snvworld.org), will be working together to improve access to clean cooking solutions in Africa by introducing clean and efficient household cook stoves to rural communities across the continent. The partnership aims to improve the health and well-being and income of rural populations while having a direct positive impact on the environment and will include research, community education and access to financing for adopting clean cooking technologies.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/philips-1.jpg

Photos: http://goo.gl/dbWwRJ

According to the World Energy Outlook 2012 (http://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/publication/WEO2012_free.pdf), a staggering 2.6 billion people still depend on traditional cook stoves or open fires for cooking and heating their homes. The health and environmental risks of this are considerable. Every week, 75,000 people – mostly women and children – get sick or even die as a direct result of inhaling smoke. And each day, 3.9 million tons of fuel wood are burnt, contributing to the daily loss of 200 km2 of forest (1). There are cleaner and more efficient cooking solutions available. But communities in rural areas do not know the benefits of clean cooking alternates or cannot access or afford to invest in them. Philips and SNV are joining forces to address this issue.

Philips’ ambition is to create meaningful innovations that matter to people and address the key challenges that confront society; this is why for the last 3 years, Philips has invested in the design and manufacturing of an innovative fan driven cook stove that can improve the lives of those who rely on wood or biomass for their daily cooking. These specially designed cook stoves can reduce smoke and carbon monoxide emissions by more than 90% compared to an open fire (2) thus reducing the health risks of indoor cooking. The cook stove utilizes pellets, wood or other biomass for cooking in a healthy, environmental friendly and fuel efficient manner. Philips is testing different financing and go-to-market models to ensure that this solution become accessible to people that would not be able to afford them otherwise.

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation has extensive experience with increasing access to clean cooking solutions for low income communities. They collaborate with and build capacities of local retailers to promote clean cooking solutions and increase local availability of cook stoves. SNV studies what people can afford, and sets up market based solutions including access to finance for households and small to medium businesses.

Over the years, SNV has invested in research to learn which cooking solutions are the healthiest, most economical, user-, and eco-friendly. Philips produces some of the cleanest products currently available on the market. To increase access to these products, SNV and Philips are now joining forces. They will collaborate in further research and promotion of clean cooking solutions.

According to Andy Wehkamp, SNV’s director of Renewable Energy, the partnership with Philips is a natural step. “We believe that inclusive business can play an important role in poverty reduction and low carbon growth. We want to increase the income and health of low-income groups in a climate smart way, while at the same time generating benefits for participating companies. By joining forces with Philips we expect to reduce the amount of people dependent on open fires or inefficient cook stoves for cooking. This contributes to a better environment, while low-income groups can enjoy better health and living conditions”

For Philips, the attraction of SNV is in their extensive Africa-wide network and deep understanding of the local environment. Christoph Castellaz, Head of Strategy and New Business Development, Philips Africa states “We welcome the opportunity to partner with SNV; Philips is passionate to invent and apply technology to help people but we need meaningful partnerships to co-create new solutions and new business models that can make innovations like our cook stove accessible and affordable to communities that need them the most.”

The collaboration between SNV and Philips will initially focus on Kenya (East Africa) and Ghana (West Africa); an official Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and Philips will be signed on 20 November 2014 during the assembly of the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves (GACC) in New York.

(1) Global Forest Resources Assessment (ftp://ftp.fao.org/docrep/fao/008/A0400E/A0400E03.pdf)

(2) Reference source: Water boiling test version 4.2.2 done at accredited stove laboratory, Aprovecho Research Center, Oregon, USA.

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

For more information and/or interviews, please contact:

Elsa Scholte, Head of Communications

SNV Netherlands Development Organisation

Tel : +31 6579 31490

escholte@snvworld.org

Radhika Choksey

Philips Group Communications – Africa

Tel: +31 62525 9000

E-mail: radhika.choksey@philips.com

About Royal Philips:

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) (http://www.philips.com) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2013 sales of EUR 23.3 billion and employs approximately 113,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at www.philips.com/newscenter

About SNV Netherlands Development Organisation :

SNV is a not-for-profit international development organisation. Founded in 1965, they have built a solid local presence in many of the poorest countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. SNV’s global team of advisors works with local partners to equip communities, businesses and organisations with the tools, knowledge and connections they need to increase their income and gain access to basic services. SNV’s work spans three sectors: Water, Sanitation & Hygiene, Agriculture, and Renewable Energy. In each sector, they link local initiatives to global programmes to connect to international best practice, enable economies of scale and create maximum impact. For details visit www.snvworld.org

Nov 202014
 

PRETORIA, South-Africa, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — This year we Europeans spent a lot of time remembering the centennial of the First World War. We live in an age – a very fortunate age! – where most young people in the European Union have never experienced war.

However, it is extremely important to remind ourselves and to remind young people especially that peace cannot be taken for granted. We have to value it and work for it.

Unfortunately, Europeans spent very little time remembering the suffering the First World War brought to Non-Europeans. Millions of Africans were dragged into a conflict which was not theirs to begin with.

I spoke about the African victims of this War during my travel to Tanzania in March.

South African soldiers were also involved in the fighting and an estimated 10 000 of them lost their lives in Europe, Asia and Africa.

Yet there is something else, something fundamental which Europeans ignore when talking about the First World War.

Countless articles and speeches deplore 1914 as a watershed that marked the end of European civilization. The war with all its industrialized brutality is described as a betrayal of European values. This reveals a very selective memory!

Europeans had long been ignoring exactly those “European values” of humanity, respect and freedom when it came to their interactions with Africans. Africans were not granted the same rights, even long after the formal abolition of slavery. They were denied basic human rights, justice and equality.

We Europeans have to face this bitter fact in order to overcome it and build a new relationship with Africa.

The system of double standards was most obvious in this country, South Africa. It even had its own name: Apartheid. Long after other nations of the continent had achieved their independence, the struggle for freedom in your country still had to go on.

Nelson Mandela said in his historic speech in Tunis in 1994 that Africa’s liberation was only complete with the liberation of South Africa. So here is another important anniversary for the continent and the whole world: 20 years of the New South Africa. Congratulations!

As we speak, West Africa is in the grip of a dangerous and often deadly virus: Ebola.

It has travelled to Europe and the United States. It is a global challenge which has to be dealt with globally. Germany takes part in this fight with financial and scientific assistance as well as staff on the ground.

But there is an even more dangerous phenomenon which resembles a virus. It can appear anywhere, anytime.

It is destructive and also often deadly.

It is the virus of violence.

Violence has been with humanity from the beginning. Cain slew his own brother.

And this is not the only hint in the bible. The potential for violence is in every human being, in every society.

Estimates say that every minute one human being is killed violently. So, since I started my speech that makes about six killings.

Yet, whenever we are faced with the images of mass violence we struggle for the right words – be it facing he Holocaust, the Killing Fields of Cambodia or the genocide in Ruanda – which was also exactly 20 years ago.

And whoever thought that in Europe the virus of violence was forever banned to the history books, had to learn a tough lesson this year in the Ukraine crisis, which has cost more than 3000 lives already.

This should not belittle the achievements of peace in the last decades. Europe has been quite successful in containing inter-state violence. In Africa, the end of the cold war also brought an end to many long-lasting civil wars.

So there is hope for all of us. Just like medicine has found many different remedies against deadly viruses, society has found different ways of reducing violence –

within countries but also on the international scene.

In my speech, I want to talk about three remedies – three factors in our common struggle against violence and for peace.

The first factor is participation:

People want to have their voices heard.

In societies with political participation the individual does not need to resort to violence in order to make himself heard.

Frustrations do not bottle up and erupt in violent conflict, as they recently did in the streets of Ouagadougou.

I continue to be a firm believer in open, democratic societies that not only allow, but encourage their citizens to participate. Democratic decision-making might sometimes take a little longer than the top-down approach, but it certainly brings better and more lasting solutions. That’s why, in my travels to Africa and other continents, I meet with governments – of course – but I also meet with representatives of civil society and of the democratic opposition.

South Africans struggled for the right to shape their own destiny. And they won it! Your democracy was hard fought for. Now, South Africa’s separation of powers with a strong judiciary stands as an example for many countries on this continent. But beyond that, you need a political culture. Madiba himself set a shining example by not running for a second term as a President in 1998 despite his immense popularity.

Today, the young people of Africa are much better informed and will demand the right to have their voices heard. My advice to governments in this matter is simple:

Listen to the people! And listen to Madiba, the most famous alumnus of this university!

By participation, I mean more than political participation.

I mean economic and social participation – I mean every man and woman’s right to improve their own lives.

Democracy without prosperity will run into trouble. People need access to basic services such as health or education. Germany continues to share her experience in this field, not only with South Africa, but also with other countries on the continent.

In Africa, I often see two things: one that makes me hopeful and one that needs work. On the one hand, I often see a great deal of solidarity among groups of the population – may they be from the same family, local community or ethnic group.

On the other hand, I see relatively weak state structures and institutions of social welfare in many African countries. So my question is: What can be done to extend the strong African solidarity to cover all citizens of a state?

This is much more than a technical question. Maybe South Africa and Germany can find ways to work together in that direction.

Maybe we can encourage a culture as well as institutions of solidarity.

Of course, in our efforts to expand economic participation, we need businesses, too.

I am happy to have a delegation of German business with me. German companies, especially small and medium-sized companies, have learned to operate in a way that values long-term relationships and a fair sharing of gains. They have learned to balance the interests of management and workers in a cooperative way.

And German companies and the state have created a system of vocational training that is the envy of the world. I just went to visit a vocational training center here in South Africa, the Commercial Advancement Training Scheme in Bramfontein, an example of our bilateral cooperation. We are very happy to share our experiences to give young people a perspective. Our Bi-National Commission will bring experts together to discuss all the issues of the implementation of vocational training.

Infrastructure is another factor of participation. Because how can people participate in the economy when they’re not well-connected by road or rail? How can governments provide goods and services if they cannot even reach parts of the country?

Infrastructure is crucial especially when economies grow quickly, as many economies in Africa. Take a country like Angola, which I visited in March: They do not make steps in economic development, they make jumps! That’s why they quickly need basic infrastructures: from roads to electricity to waste disposal.

German companies have a lot of infrastructure expertise. That is why Germany works on infrastructure projects all across this continent. For example, the German government has financed the renovation of the Goma airport in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. This will improve access to this rich but very troubled region.

What does all this have to do with violence? I think being excluded from prosperity leads to frustration. Frustration leads to violence.

That’s why prosperity and participation need to go together! And that is a two-way street:

Only a strong, growing economy can create prosperity for everyone. And only a society where everyone is given the chance to participate, where young people find jobs, can grow its economy in a stable and sustainable way. That is the two-way logic of participation!

My second factor against violence is: rules. Now, that might sound very German to you. Germans love rules, don’t they?

I think this is more than a national preference. Everywhere, people and businesses need to rely on clear and fair rules. If the individual feels safe and minorities are protected, there is much less reason for violence to erupt. That is why states need the monopoly of exercising violence – simply to enforce the rules that apply to everyone, including the state itself.

But such a set-up requires a state which functions well and controls its territory.

In many parts of Africa, this is simply not the case. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, for example, armed groups have taken the law in their own hands in some areas.

The suffering of civilians is immense.

In Nigeria, which I visited just a few weeks ago with my French colleague, Laurent Fabius, the fundamentalist group Boko Haram continues to terrorize the population. In other parts of the country, armed gangs challenge the authority of the state.

What can be done about this? We need to strengthen the immune system of these states!

The first thing are the rule-enforcers: police and, sorry to say, the military. They need to be strong, well-trained and accepted by society! That is why Germany is participating in five UN and nine European missions all over Africa to train police officers and also to teach police that it needs acceptance. It continues with the military. German forces have been cooperating with their counterparts in Africa for a long time. In recent years, a lot of this cooperation has taken place in European missions to rebuild African military forces to enable them to establish control of their states’ territory.

But there are other factors, too.

Let me give you just two examples: First, Armed groups need money. They are desperate for profits. Often these come from the exploitation of natural resources. Germany has invested much in certification of mines and minerals in the DRC. Once we know whether some material comes from a mine outside the rule based framework, we can make it more difficult for these products to enter the international markets and thus deprive armed criminals of their profits. The same goes for international efforts to stop poaching. Germany and Gabon started an initiative including the countries of destination and co-sponsored a resolution against poaching in the United Nations.

Second, armed groups need arms. If the international community stands firm and enforces its rules against the sale and distribution of small arms, we stand a much better chance to succeed.

Unfortunately, there are cases where all rules fail and all efforts to resolve a crisis fall on deaf ears. In the Great Lakes region, people have been suffering from violence of all forms. In these cases, the international community needs to step in and help to end the violence.

Recently, the United Nations’ largest Peace Keeping Mission, MONUSCO achieved some well noted successes in the fight against armed groups in the East of the DRC. It had the support of the Congolese armed forces and of the newly created MONUSCO Force Intervention Brigade. Your country, South Africa has really played a vital role in this.

This example takes me to my third factor: responsibility.

It will hardly come as a surprise when I tell you that rules and international order won’t just fall into our lap. We need countries that are willing to step up and take on responsibility, also beyond their own front garden;

countries that are willing to protect rules and create elements of international order.

South Africa is one of these countries.

South Africa takes on responsibility for its continent. I think that, when it comes to systems of rules and order, Africa is ahead of many other regions. The African Union and the respective regional organizations have a vision for peace and security and prosperity, and this vision is embodied in the African Peace and Security Architecture and the African Governance Architecture.

African Regional Organizations have made it clear that military coups will not stand!

The latest example is Burkina Faso.

They have also made it clear that they will not let a terrible civil war, as in South Sudan, develop into a devastating regional conflict.

South Africa takes part in these efforts.

It stepped in during the recent crisis in Lesotho. South Africa is one of the key actors in the DRC, where one armed group, the FDLR, faces a deadline to disarm and disband by January or face military action. Maintaining this deadline, decided by the Security Council and supported by the African institutions, is a matter of international and African credibility.

Of course, my own region, Europe, has its own crises to deal with, too. We are still dealing with the aftermath of the most severe economic crisis that ever happened in our Union. And in Ukraine, we are faced with the biggest threat to peace and stability on our continent since the end of the Cold War.

In the face of all these crises, Germany, just like South Africa, will take on her share of responsibility and get involved to protect and promote the vision we share: a world run by rules and not by violence. Our support for the United Nations is well-known – we are the fourth largest financial contributor to its Peace Keeping Operations. But we are equally proud of our support for the African Union, including the African Peace and Security architecture, as our second largest partner after the EU.

I look forward to my discussions in Pretoria, to learn more about how South Africa is working for elements of international order – both as a strong member of the AU, and globally, as a member of the BRICS states.

The virus of violence is the oldest and the most dangerous threat to mankind.

I have talked about three different types of remedy – but looking at the world outside with its many conflicts, we all see how powerful this virus still is.

You, the young students in this room – you are the first generation that grew up in the new South Africa. I am aware that there are still many deep divisions in your country. But your country has set a strong example how violence and hatred can be overcome. You set up a Rainbow-Nation, not a Revenge-Nation!

Now, in the 21st century, when the world is growing ever closer together, the virus of violence is also becoming more global –

It transcends borders and spreads around much more easily. So all the more, we have to work hard and we have to work together to find remedies against it.

If the African youth, with all its energy and enthusiasm, joins the global struggle, the virus of violence will have a very difficult 21st century.

Thank you very much.

Nov 202014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — Ebola situation assessment – 20 November 2014

As of today, Mali has officially reported a cumulative total of 6 cases of Ebola virus disease, with 5 deaths. Of the 6 cases, 5 are laboratory confirmed and one remains probable as no samples were available for testing.

These numbers include the 2-year-old girl who initially imported the virus into Mali and died of the disease on 24 October.

Intensive tracing and monitoring of the child’s numerous contacts, including many who were monitored in hospital, failed to detect any additional cases. All 118 contacts, including family members, have now passed through the 21-day incubation period without developing symptoms.

The virus was almost certainly re-introduced into Mali by a 70-year-old Grand Imam from Guinea, who was admitted to Bamako’s Pasteur Clinic on 25 October and died on 27 October. He has been reclassified as a Guinea case, as he developed symptoms in that country. No samples were available for testing.

Pasteur Clinic: direct and indirect links

All 5 cases in this new outbreak are linked, 3 directly and 2 indirectly, to the patient in the Pasteur Clinic.

The first was a 25-year-old male nurse who worked at the clinic and was assigned to care for the Imam. He was hospitalized on 8 November. His case was laboratory-confirmed on 11 November and he died the same day.

The second case was confirmed in a doctor who worked at the clinic and treated the Imam. He developed symptoms on 5 November and was hospitalized on 8 November. Laboratory confirmation was received on 12 November. He is currently undergoing treatment.

The third case was a 51-year-old friend of the Imam who visited him at the Pasteur Clinic. He developed symptoms on 7 November and died on 10 November from an undiagnosed cause. He is the country’s single probable case.

The friend’s infection led to an additional two confirmed and fatal cases. The first was a 57-year-old woman who had direct contact with the friend. She developed symptoms on 29 October. She was admitted to another clinic on 11 November and then transferred to a hospital on 12 November. She died that same day.

The second case was the woman’s son. He visited yet another clinic on 5 November and died at home on 14 November. Ebola infection was laboratory-confirmed in both cases.

Stepped up contact tracing

A massive effort is currently under way to identify all potential chains of transmission, monitor contacts, and prevent the outbreak from growing larger. At present 338 contacts have been identified and 303 (90%) of these have been placed under daily surveillance.

This rigorous “detective” work shows that the deceased nurse from the Pasteur Clinic had the largest number of contacts, at 98, including 75 family members.

As the successful experiences in Senegal and Nigeria show, aggressive contact tracing, which seeks to find and break every chain of transmission immediately after an imported case, can hold the number of additional cases to very small numbers and support a rapid end to the outbreak.

The Ministry of Health, with assistance from the WHO country office, has augmented the number of staff engaged in contact tracing by drawing on polio surveillance teams and using local medical students with training in epidemiology.

In addition, WHO has deployed 10 epidemiologists through its Global Outbreak Alert and Response Network, or GOARN.

The country is also ramping up its capacity to perform exit screening at the Bamako airport.

Guinea: Many mourners attended the funeral

The Imam was buried in his native village of Kourémalé, Guinea, on 28 October. That event has now been investigated. Thousands of mourners may have attended the funeral. Some of them touched the body as part of the traditional funeral ceremony. About 300 contacts are being traced.

Experts in Mali and at WHO agree that Mali will remain at risk of further imported cases as long as transmission across the border in ongoing.

Nov 202014
 

NEW YORK, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The members of the Security Council expressed their concern at the allegations reported in the media of mass rape in Thabit, North Darfur, on 30 and 31 October 2014. They called on the …

Nov 202014
 

LONDON, United-Kingdom, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — An international project backed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and designed to prevent the deaths of pregnant women, new mothers and infants in Africa, is to be officially launched today.

Logo: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/plog-content/images/apo/logos/st-john-international.jpg

Photo 1: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1566

Photo 2: http://www.photos.apo-opa.com/index.php?level=picture&id=1565

Some 1 million newborn babies and around 179,000 women die every year in Sub- Saharan Africa as a result of complications in pregnancy, labour, during delivery and in the first month of a child’s life.

Today, the global healthcare charity St John International (http://www.stjohninternational.org) signals an attempt to turn that tide, with the launch of its new Mother and Baby Programme.

The initiative has been made possible thanks to a Big Lottery Fund grant of £257,365, allowing the charity to mobilise community based volunteers on the ground in Malawi and Zambia, and provide support to households and increase access to health service.

For generations St John International (also known as the Venerable Order of St John) has been providing community based first aid, healthcare and related services to people in need throughout the world.

Trial activity has already seen the Mother and Baby Programme team visiting the communities of Malawi and Zambia, to identify the most urgent need. St John also has plans to roll out the programme in Kenya, Uganda and Zimbabwe by raising further funds.

“The reduction of the horrendous death rates amongst Mothers and Babies was set as a Millennium Goal. Huge strides have been made and the St John programme will be another significant step along the way,” said Sir Paul Lambert, Secretary General of St John International.

“Our teams of local volunteers and healthcare professionals have seen with their own eyes what tragic circumstances are in existence, and how many lives are being needlessly lost.

“With the generous support of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and our superb support from the Big Lottery Fund, the Mother and Baby programme has a vision of ‘a world where communities take action to strengthen the health of women and children’. Adding his voice to the campaign, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said: “I passionately support the work of St John and their unique community volunteer led approach towards improving community health around the world and addressing maternal and newborn health in Africa. Without healthy mothers and babies, communities cannot flourish and develop. So investment in this area of healthcare is absolutely vital.”

Volunteers will be trained in topics such as basic hygiene, planning for birth, danger signs during pregnancy, maintaining temperature in newborns, cord care, post natal care needs and risks. With the acquired knowledge and skills, the volunteers will carry out home visits to thousands of households to educate and give advice to women as well as men about the importance of maternal and newborn health.

St John International is seeking to engage the support of corporates, particularly those who have had or currently have, an interest in the communities of Malawi and Zambia.

“Unlike many programmes this does not rely on outside agencies,” added Sir Paul.

“Our local St John Ambulance organisations in Malawi and Zambia will recruit additional volunteers from within the community and after giving them first aid training will train them to provide the support in maternal health and newborn. The generous grant from the Big Lottery will allow the programme to start, however, after 3 years our local St John Organisations will be funding these programmes themselves.

“This is a low cost high impact programme and £150,000 is enough to roll out another programme in another country for a year.” commented Sir Paul.

The issues surrounding maternal and newborn health is one of the key priorities in meeting the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for 2015. St John International and its Associations have a crucial role to play in contributing to the MDGs as they have unique access to hard-to-reach communities.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of the Venerable Order of St John.

NOTE TO EDITORS

Media Contact:

Chiao Kwan

Tel: +44 (0)20 7553 9319

Email: chiao.kwan@orderofstjohn.org

About the Venerable Order of St John

The Venerable Order of St John (also known as St John International) (http://www.stjohninternational.org) is a global international healthcare charity, whose organisations provide first aid, health care and community based support services in over 40 countries around the world.

About the Big Lottery Fund

The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 we have awarded close to £6bn. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1st December 2006.

Nov 202014
 

GENEVA, Switzerland, November 20, 2014/African Press Organization (APO)/ — The Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate human rights violations in Eritrea has begun its operations with an initial meeting in Geneva.

The United Nations Human Rights Council established the Commission of Inquiry in June 2014 for a period of one year to “investigate all alleged violations of human rights in Eritrea” as outlined in the reports of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Eritrea, whose mandate was created by the Human Rights Council in June 2012.

“Our key aim is to help provide Eritrea with the means to improve the human rights of its population,” said the Commission Chairperson, Mr Mike Smith. “Our work is guided by respect and care for the Eritrean people and their proud history, as well as international human rights standards.”

Mr Smith, Adjunct Professor at Macquarie University in New South Wales, Australia, and former Executive Director of the United Nations Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate, is working with Ms Sheila B. Keetharuth, who is the current Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Eritrea, and Mr Victor Dankwa, Associate Professor at the University of Ghana and former member of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.*

The Commissioners have come together for the first time in Geneva this week, and are holding key meetings with a number of diplomatic missions, including Eritrea, UN agencies, scholars and civil society organisations. They have also been discussing the strategy, methodology and investigative approach they will employ during their mandate.

“We have a clear mandate from the Human Rights Council. The Council has expressed its strong condemnation of the ‘continued widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms committed by the Eritrean authorities’” said Mr Dankwa.

Ms Keetharuth stated “We are committed to reach out to the people of Eritrea to understand the impact of the current situation on the enjoyment of their human rights and fundamental freedoms. In particular, we are keen to look at the reasons why Eritreans, including unaccompanied minors, are fleeing the country in their thousands”.

The Commissioners said that they wish for the full cooperation of the Government of Eritrea and to this end have met their representative in Geneva and have asked for full access to the country. “We are hoping that this first meeting in Geneva augurs well for future co-operation with Eritrean authorities,” noted Mr Smith.

The Commission of Inquiry, supported by a team of experienced human rights officers, is publishing a call for submissions to encourage interested individuals, groups and organisations to share information with the Commissioners.

The Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in Eritrea was established by Human Rights Council resolution 26/24 to investigate a variety of alleged violations, including extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary arrests and incommunicado detention, torture, restrictions to civil liberties, human trafficking, discrimination against women and sexual and gender-based violence, violations of child rights, lack of rule of law, and precarious living conditions.

The Commissioners will undertake a first official visit to Switzerland and Italy from 27 November to 4 December 2014 to collect first-hand information on the human rights situation in Eritrea from Eritrean refugees, migrants and other members of the diaspora, as well as other relevant sources.

The Commissioners are holding their first press briefing on Thursday, 20 November, at 10.00 a.m. in the Palais des Nations in Geneva.