AU statement at the open debate of the UN Security Council on “women, peace and security”

Madame President,

On behalf of the AU Commission, allow me to start by congratulating you for convening this timely and very important debate. I would like also to thank you for giving us the opportunity to brief the Security Council and share the African Union’s views on a matter of great importance to it.

Your presence Madame Minister to preside over today’s discussions stresses the critical importance of this debate and bears witness to your country’s commitment to the fundamental principles and objectives of the UN Charter as well as to its determination to make a substantial contribution to the work of the UN Security Council.

I thank the previous speakers for their insightful presentations.

Madame President,

Distinguished Members of the Security Council,

Today’s debate is an excellent opportunity that we must seize to demonstrate our commitment to take forward the ambitious recommendations emerging from the recent UN policy reviews on peace and security issues.

The role of women in preventing and resolving conflicts must be a reality rather than a statement which dates back several decades. Our discourse on this issue must stop looking at women merely as victims, but rather recognize and encourage their demonstrated capacities to be part of peace and development efforts.

Experiences of many countries have clearly shown that lasting peace cannot be achieved and reconstruction will never succeed with half the population excluded and marginalized. To cite an example, you may recall the decisive role played by the women of Liberia in the signing of the 2003 Accra Peace agreement through the efforts of “the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace”. Africa cannot afford to ignore the role of women, if we are to realize the vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful continent.

Madame President,

The issue of “women, peace and security” remains a priority both on the agenda of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government, as well as on that of the AU Peace and Security Council. Indeed, the African Union declared 2010-2020 the “African Women Decade” with the overarching theme of “gender equality and women’s empowerment”. The year 2015 was dedicated to “Women empowerment and development towards Agenda 2063”, while the Year 2016 is “the year of human rights with particular focus on the rights of women”.

By choosing to bring women at the center of the continental deliberations, the Africa Union was reiterating the continent’s resolve to addressing all forms of barriers that impede the emancipation of women and girls in Africa and strengthen their agency and rights, through priority areas such as education, health, participation in decision-making at all levels, economic empowerment and peace and security.

In January 2014, the African Union became the first continental organization to appoint a Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, with the specific mandate to “Ensure that the voices of women and children, particularly those affected by conflict are heard and to advocate at the highest levels for the rightful participation and contribution of women in conflict resolution and peace building”.

To enhance the protection of women’s rights, the AU seeks to promote international and regional commitments on peace and security, as well as to strengthen women’s participation in peace and security efforts through the AU Peace and Security Department, the Peace and Security Council and the Panel of the Wise.

Starting with the leadership of its own paramount continental institution, Africa adopted the principle of parity and acted on it. Indeed, the AU Commission has achieved parity in its leadership and is now moving toward 50/50 work force parity in line with the AU Gender Policy adopted in 2009.

Furthermore, to enhance women’s role in peace and security, the AU Commission launched a 5 year Gender, Peace and Security Program (GPSP) (2015-2020). The Program is designed to serve as a framework for the development of effective strategies and mechanisms for women’s increased participation in the promotion of peace and security. It also aims to enhance the protection of women in conflict and post-conflict situations in Africa.

The AU has also conducted training with Member States on women peace mediators, women election observers and gender advisers, and succeeded to deploy female peacekeepers and female police in peace support operation such as in AMISOM.

Madame President,

Despite the progress made so far, a lot remains to be done to ensure women’s equal participation in conflict prevention, management and conflict resolution as well as in post-conflict peace-building. Policies exist in plenty. Where we run short is in their implementation. It is in this perspective that the African union is developing a Continental results framework to strengthen the monitoring of implementation by Member States of their commitments on women, peace and security agenda.

In our view, more effort is needed both from the UN and the AU in the following areas:

1- Increase the proportion of the women in the police component of peace operations.

2- Ensure that the terms of reference of mediation and peace building processes have a clear component of women participation, as the basis of their delivery and accountability towards the implementation of the women, peace and security agenda.

3- Make training programs on “women, peace and security” mandatory. The AU has already begun to integrate such training into its ASF program.

4- Invest more in conflict prevention and in women’s prevention initiatives.

I thank you for your kind attention.

– See more at: http://www.peaceau.org/en/article/statement-by-h-e-mr-tete-antonio-ambassador-permanent-observer-of-the-african-union-to-the-united-nations-open-debate-of-the-un-security-council-on-women-peace-and-security-the-role-of-women-in-conflict-prevention-and-resolution-in-africa-new-york-march#sthash.3b65qS6R.qsQ9Ee7x.dpuf

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

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Source:: AU statement at the open debate of the UN Security Council on “women, peace and security”

Categories: AFRICA

Fiston Mwanza Mujila Announced Winner of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature

Poet and novelist Fiston Mwanza Mujila was on Saturday, 19th March 2016 announced as the winner of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature (http://Prize.Etisalat.com.ng) for his first novel, Tram 83. Originally written in French, Tram 83 was translated into English by Roland Glasser and published by Deep Vellum. 35-year-old Mujila is the first Francophone writer to win the prestigious Etisalat Prize, the first ever pan-African prize that celebrates debut fiction books by African authors.

Fiston Mujila was announced winner by the Chair of judges, Ato Quayson, at the award ceremony held at Intercontinental Lagos Hotel, which was broadcast live on Hip TV and viewed by over 30 million people across Africa. The event was also live-streamed on the internet.

Mujila was presented with a £15,000 cheque, an engraved Montblanc Meisterstück and an Iphone 6S. He will also have the opportunity to attend the Etisalat Fellowship, worth £13,000, at the prestigious University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, under the mentorship of Professor Giles Foden.

Born in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, in 1981, Mujila studied Literature and Human Sciences at Lubumbashi University. He now lives in Graz, Austria and is pursuing a PhD in Romance Languages. He has won many accolades for his writing, including the Gold Medal at the 6th Jeux de la Francophone in Beirut as well as the Best Text for Theater (State Theater, Mainz) in 2010. His writings are a response to the socio-political turbulence of post-independence Congo.

Tram 83 is the first novel by a DR Congo writer to be translated into English in over two decades. The novel centres around Lucien, an idealistic writer sucked into the dystopian world of his friend, Requiem, a gangster who reigns supreme in the outrageous, extravagant and glamorously debauched nightlife of a secessionist City-State. The Tram 83 of the title is a nightclub that forms the heart of the crumbling city, in which Requiem and a cast of colourful characters feast.

The judging panel for the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature was chaired by Ato Quayson, Professor of English and inaugural Director of the Centre for Diaspora Studies at the University of Toronto. The panel also comprised writer and editor, Molara Wood; and Zukiswa Wanner, author of Men of the South and London Cape Town Joburg.

The distinguished Patrons of the Etisalat Prize are: noted writer Ama Ata Aidoo (Ghana); Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Dele Olojede (Nigeria); Former deputy editor of Granta magazine and former senior editor at Jonathan Cape, Random House, Ellah Allfrey, OBE (UK, Zimbabwe); writer and scholar, Kole Omotoso (Nigeria); Editor, writer, broadcaster and co-founder of Allison & Busby, Margaret Busby, OBE (UK/Ghana); and novelist, poet and playwright, Zakes Mda (South Africa).

At the award ceremony on the 19th March, 2016 the Chief Executive Officer of Etisalat Nigeria Matthew Willsher, said, “We are delighted again to celebrate the richness and strength of African literature. Etisalat Prize for Literature bears out this year’s theme, ‘Representing the Diversity of African Voices’. Diversity is somehow wonderful in its own right, but its importance is not for its intangible beauty, it is that diversity is a huge source of innovation. Africa’s diversity is increasingly recognised as it brings new approaches to world literature while innovation is very important in the literary world.”

In line with its vision of promoting up and coming writers, Etisalat will sponsor a book tour to three African cities. The Etisalat Prize also aims to promote the publishing industry at large and will therefore purchase 1000 copies of shortlisted books for donation to schools, book clubs and libraries across Africa.

In attendance at the award ceremony were notable personalities including: The Deputy Governor of Lagos State and Commissioner of Education, Dr. Idiat Adebule (represented by her Permanent Secretary, Dr. Olusola Yinka Ayandele); Commissioner of Science and Technology of Lagos State, Femi Odubiyi; Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Majority Leader, Federal House of Representatives; Professors Femi Osofisan and Ahmed Yerima (playwrights); Prof. Remi Raji (poet), Dr. Frank Edozien; thespians Taiwo Ajai-Lycett, Genevieve Nnaji and Bimbo Akintola; and members of Etisalat Nigeria Board, Prof. Isabella Okagbue and Junaid Dikko. Performances were by singers K. Peace, Darey Art-Alade and Asa.

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

Media contact:

Chineze Amanfo
Regulatory & Corporate Affairs Division
+234 809 944 0224
chineze.amanfo@etisalat.com.ng

About the Prize:

The Etisalat Prize for Literature (http://Prize.Etisalat.com.ng) is the prestigious pan-African prize celebrating first time writers of published fiction books. The Prize aims to serve as a platform for the discovery of new creative talent out of the continent and invariably promote the burgeoning publishing industry in Africa.

By recognizing and celebrating writers and other members of the literary community across Africa, Etisalat plans to bring some much needed awareness and acclaim to new fiction while also applauding and rewarding the efforts of those who have distinguished themselves in the craft in recent times.

At the core of Etisalat’s vision is promoting passion, nurturing talent and providing a platform for communicating ideas. The ‘Etisalat Prize for Literature’ wholly embodies this vision, bringing together celebrated writers, critics, academics and book lovers from across the continent and beyond in order to give credence and honour to ‘home-grown’ talent while also rewarding new entrants and encouraging further participation in this area.

Source:: Fiston Mwanza Mujila Announced Winner of the 2015 Etisalat Prize for Literature

Categories: AFRICA

UN Human Rights Committee publishes findings on South Africa, Namibia, Sweden, New Zealand, Slovenia, Costa Rica, Rwanda

The UN Human Rights Committee has published its findings on the countries it examined during its latest session: South Africa, Namibia, Sweden, New Zealand, Slovenia, Costa Rica and Rwanda.

The findings, officially termed concluding observations, contain positive aspects of the respective State’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), and also main matters of concern and recommendations. The concluding observations are published here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1016&Lang=en

The Human Rights Committee, composed of 18 international independent experts, monitors implementation of the ICCPR by States that have ratified the Covenant.

It will next meet from 20 June to 15 July to review Argentina, Burkina Faso, Denmark, Ecuador, Ghana, Kazakhstan and Kuwait. More information here: http://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/SessionDetails1.aspx?SessionID=1031&Lang=en

Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always – #4Freedoms

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) are marking their 50th anniversary in 2016. The UN Human Rights Office is running a campaign, entitled “Our Rights, Our Freedoms, Always”, throughout the year to promote and raise awareness of the two treaties. The campaign is focusing on the timeless themes of rights and freedoms, in particular freedom from fear, freedom of speech, freedom of worship and freedom from want, and the work that continues to secure and ensure them. Check the campaign website at http://2covenants.ohchr.org

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

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Source:: UN Human Rights Committee publishes findings on South Africa, Namibia, Sweden, New Zealand, Slovenia, Costa Rica, Rwanda

Categories: AFRICA

The African Union Commission and the European Commission meet to address shared EU-Africa challenges

The African Union Commission and the European Commission will hold their annual College-to-College meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This is the biggest EU-Africa event of the year.

Discussions will focus on the current shared challenges facing both continents, along with the 5 priority areas of the 2014-2017 Roadmap: (i) peace and security; (ii) democracy, good governance and human rights; (iii) human development; (iv) sustainable and inclusive development and growth and continental integration; (v) global and emerging issues.

The meeting aims in particular to further address stability challenges and the root causes of irregular migration and displaced persons in Africa. It will also identify opportunities for mutual benefits towards sustainable and inclusive development. In addition, the meeting will look ahead to the next Africa-EU Summit, which is to take place in 2017 in Africa.

The background:

College-to-College meetings between the European Commission and the African Union Commission (AUC) are held annually since 2008 to provide momentum to the Africa-EU Partnership. They bring together the two Commissions for political and policy dialogue to provide oversight and strategic guidance for the partnership going forward. The meetings are held on an alternating basis in Brussels and Addis Ababa.

The 4th Africa-EU Summit of April 2014 reaffirmed a commitment of the 2007 Joint Africa-EU Strategy and the ambition to deepen political dialogue and cooperation. The principle of EU-AU Summits every three years, annual College-to-College meetings, and Peace and Security Council-to-Political and Security Committee meetings was confirmed, to be complemented by regular high level contacts between European and African Leaders on common challenges and crisis situations (e.g. Valletta).

The event:

The 8th College-to-College meeting between the European Commission and the African Union Commission will be held on 7 April 2016 in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of European Union Delegation to the African Union.

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Source:: The African Union Commission and the European Commission meet to address shared EU-Africa challenges

Categories: AFRICA

United for every child: Japan grants $ 1.33 million to the children of Burundi

The Government of Japan has granted US $ 1.33 million to UNICEF Burundi for the survival and health of children in Burundi.

The fund will enable UNICEF Burundi and its partners to accelerate their assistance to the most vulnerable children. It will notably support nearly 10,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition in the provinces of Cankuzo, Kirundo, Makamba, Rutana and Ruyigi and improve access to water and sanitation for 100,000 people living in the commune of Nyanza-Lac, Makamba province.

“This significant donation comes at a critical time for children in Burundi,” says Bo Viktor Nylund, UNICEF Representative in Burundi. “We are witnessing a sharp increase in needs among the most vulnerable children in Burundi and uninterrupted investments are required to support them.”

“As a friend of Burundi, and as in the past, Japan places great importance on the survival and health of Burundian children,” says Tomio Sakamoto, Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Japan for Burundi, based in Rwanda. “In these current difficult times, this support is even more important.”

In Burundi, the main causes of death among children under five are: newborn deaths, acute respiratory infections, diarrhea and malaria. These diseases are compounded by chronic malnutrition, which affects more than half of under-5 children in Burundi. Malnutrition and diseases related to poor hygiene are preventable, and UNICEF has the expertise to implement interventions in this field.

UNICEF estimates that in 2016, 50,000 under-5 children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition in Burundi and need adequate treatment. In this context, the substantial donation from the Government of Japan will contribute to the critical interventions by UNICEF and its partners for improving the child health in Burundi.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

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Source:: United for every child: Japan grants $ 1.33 million to the children of Burundi

Categories: AFRICA

Joint Statement between Japan and the Republic of Zimbabwe on the Occasion of the Official Working Visit to Japan by H.E. Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe

1. H.E. Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, and First Lady Dr. Grace Mugabe paid an Official Working Visit to Japan from March 27 to 31, 2016 at the invitation of the Government of Japan.

2. H.E. Mr. Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, and H.E. President Mugabe held a bilateral summit meeting in Tokyo on March 28, 2016. Prime Minister Abe welcomed President Mugabe’s visit to Japan following his visit last year on the occasion of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, and paid respect to President Mugabe’s recent active roles as the Chairman of the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Bilateral Cooperation

3. Affirming universal values which both countries share, the two leaders welcomed that long-standing friendly and cooperative relations have been nurtured between Japan and Zimbabwe in both bilateral and multilateral contexts, and shared the commitment to further strengthen their bilateral relationship. In that context, the two leaders welcomed the recent high level visits between the two countries and also shared a common intention to continue bilateral dialogue at all levels, and to elaborate mechanisms for consultation on economic, technical and other cooperation.

4. Prime Minister Abe highly commended efforts of the Government of Zimbabwe on economic recovery including the “Zimbabwe Agenda for Sustainable Socio-Economic Transformation (ZIMASSET),” and expressed Japan’s continuous support for Zimbabwe’s efforts for development, following last year’s grant aid of up to 1.791 billion yen (approximately 15 million US dollars) for the Project for Irrigation Development for Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme.

5. Prime Minister Abe stated that Japan developed its new country assistance policy for Zimbabwe under which Japan has decided on (1) grant aid to Zimbabwe for economic and social development, including infrastructural improvement amounting 600 million yen (approximately 5 million US dollars), and (2) implementation of a preparatory study for Zimbabwe-Zambia road improvement, which is important for Zimbabwe’s North-South Corridor. Prime Minister Abe also stated that consideration on assistance to respond to the severe food shortages in Zimbabwe that has resulted from drought would be started. President Mugabe expressed his gratitude for Japan’s cooperation.

6. The two leaders welcomed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Zimbabwe and Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC) on the mining sector in September last year. They also welcomed the progress of cooperation, including human resource development, in this area between the two countries.

7. The two leaders shared the view that both Governments would make efforts to promote trade and investment between Japan and Zimbabwe. Prime Minister Abe welcomed the progress on the establishment of Special Economic Zones in Zimbabwe. President Mugabe briefed Prime Minister Abe on his Government’s efforts to enhance the ease of doing business in Zimbabwe, and clarified Zimbabwe’s Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Policy. President Mugabe highly commended Japanese technology and products and stated his resolve to continue efforts to invite investment from Japan to Zimbabwe.

8. Sharing the recognition that people-to-people exchanges are important for mutual understanding, the two leaders shared the view that they would enhance people-to-people exchanges through programs such as African Business Education Initiative for Youth (ABE Initiative), Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) training programs and sporting exchanges. In this connection, the two leaders welcomed the Memorandum made between the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and the University of Zimbabwe and the opening of opportunities for Zimbabwean teachers to apply for scholarships for the in-service teacher training program offered by the Government of Japan.

9. Prime Minister Abe briefed President Mugabe on Japan’s policy of “Proactive Contribution to Peace” and Japan’s willingness to redouble its efforts to contribute to the peace, stability and prosperity of the region and the world.

Multilateral Cooperation

10. The two leaders welcomed that the next Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) would be held in August this year for the first time in Africa and shared their intention to strengthen cooperation between the two countries toward the success of TICAD VI. Prime Minister Abe expressed his view that TICAD VI would be an important opportunity to support Africa’s development agenda, Agenda 2063, and Japan would demonstrate concrete contributions which are distinctive to Japan, such as quality infrastructure investment and human resource development, strengthening Public-Private Partnership and engagement of the private sector, under the principle of human security. Prime Minister Abe also expressed his expectation for President Mugabe’s contribution to TICAD VI. Responding to Prime Minister Abe’s invitation, President Mugabe highly appreciated Japan’s contribution and stated that he would attend TICAD VI.

11. Reaffirming that the United Nations Security Council does not fully reflect the realities of the international community in the 21st century, both leaders shared the recognition that the reform of the Security Council should be expeditiously advanced to improve its effectiveness, transparency and representativeness and that such reform is long overdue. The two leaders emphasized the importance of building upon the recent developments in the Intergovernmental Negotiations and to move the process forward including through increased interactions and consultations. The two leaders also reaffirmed the importance of the United Nations General Assembly as the most representative organ of the United Nations.

12. Prime Minister Abe and President Mugabe acknowledged the need to enhance their cooperation for addressing broad challenges in international fora such as climate change, countering terrorism and implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The two leaders also noted their contributions to peacekeeping operations, and concurred on the need for redoubled efforts to promote peace in the world.

Conclusion

13. President Mugabe expressed his appreciation to Prime Minister Abe and the Government of Japan for the warm hospitality accorded to him and his delegation. President Mugabe wished Prime Minister Abe success in hosting the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.

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Source:: Joint Statement between Japan and the Republic of Zimbabwe on the Occasion of the Official Working Visit to Japan by H.E. Mr. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe

Categories: AFRICA

UNAMID Joint Special Representative to hold press conference in Khartoum

The Joint Special Representative (JSR) of the African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), Martin Uhomoibhi, will be holding his first press conference on Monday, 04 April 2016, at 11:00 hours in the main conference room at UNDP Headquarters, on Gama’a Street in Khartoum.

JSR Uhomoibhi will brief the press on the current developments in relation to UNAMID’s activities and the Darfur peace process.

All media are invited to attend.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of African Union-United Nations Mission in Darfur (UNAMID).

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Source:: UNAMID Joint Special Representative to hold press conference in Khartoum

Categories: AFRICA

New Mozambican High Commissioner to Seychelles accredited

The new High Commissioner of Mozambique to the Republic of Seychelles, H.E. Mr. Paulino José Macaringue, presented his credentials to President James Michel in a ceremony held at State House today.

President Michel congratulated the new High Commissioner and said that the Government of Seychelles is looking forward to promote a more active partnership with Mozambique as well as at the level of SADC and the African Union.

During their meeting, the President and High Commissioner Macaringue discussed how Seychelles and Mozambique could consolidate their cooperation and the aspiration to open new avenues of economic cooperation and development in the fields of tourism, fisheries, culture, people to people contacts and trade among others.

After the accreditation ceremony, High Commissioner Macaringue told the national media that during his mandate he intends to identify areas of cooperation that can bring Seychelles and Mozambique closer.

“With the historical links amongst our people, you will recall that some the people of Seychelles are to be found also in Mozambique, where we share the same past. We do have a memorandum of cooperation that we would like now to make it quick and identify additional areas of cooperation; be it in tourism, infrastructure development, maritime surveillance, the management of the environment, where we share similar challenges. In the areas of maritime safety, for instance, piracy is also our challenge, transnational criminalities like drug trafficking, money laundering, the management of the islands. So, all these will present and develop a firm basis for us to develop projects and improve our cooperation,” said High Commissioner Macaringue.

High Commissioner Paulino José Macaringue is based in Pretoria, South Africa.

Also, present during the meeting were the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Transport, Joel Morgan and the President’s Diplomatic Adviser, Ambassador Callixte d’Offay.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles.

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Source:: New Mozambican High Commissioner to Seychelles accredited

Categories: AFRICA

Partnership with Nigeria: The U.S. View

Remarks

Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of African Affairs

United States Institute of Peace

Washington, DC

March 28, 2016

As prepared

Good afternoon everyone, and thank you so much, Nancy, for that introduction. Thank you as well to USIP for hosting us today, and for the fantastic work you are doing in Nigeria and around the world to advance peace.

In case anyone has any doubts on the extent of Nigeria’s importance in Africa and the world, let me share just a few statistics. Nigeria’s population is projected to reach 400 million by 2050, overtaking the United States and becoming the third most populous country in the world. The median age in Nigeria is 18. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and Africa’s largest oil producer. The country’s middle class of roughly 50 million people is expected to help grow the country into one of the top-ten global economies by 2050.

But despite Nigeria’s size and resources, the United Nations estimated in 2011 that 54 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day. And 16 percent of Nigerian children die before reaching their fifth birthday, largely as a result of preventable diseases.

These statistics paint the picture of a country with enormous potential and opportunities ahead of it, yet daunting challenges it must tackle in order to succeed. There is cause for cautious optimism at this juncture, and the United States looks forward to doing everything we can to partner with Nigeria to seize the moment.

Why is it so important that we seize the moment? It’s simple: we need a strong, proactive Nigeria, because it’s in Nigeria’s interest, the region’s interest, and it is in the world’s interest. Importantly, it is in the United States’ interest, as well. And so the question in front of all of us today is: “What can we do to support a strong, proactive, and prosperous Nigeria?”

When Nigeria gained independence in 1960, its people had high hopes. The country had new universities, Africa’s first television station, and many natural resources. It had doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants, and many experienced and professional civil servants.

But ethnic tensions, a civil war, and a series of coups undermined that optimism. And despite progress in the past year, Nigeria still faces many significant challenges today.

Corruption results in billions of dollars of losses every year – the estimates are staggering, with many billions of dollars plundered in the last decade alone. Although much of this money that has been siphoned off will likely never be seen again, imagine the impact that this money could have had on Nigeria’s infrastructure and economy.

Despite boasting some strong universities, the overall education system is weak, and the literacy rate is estimated at only 61 percent.

Nigeria has also struggled to provide adequate and reliable power to its citizens despite its vast natural resources, with only 45 percent of its citizens currently having access to electricity.

Boko Haram, which now declares itself an affiliate of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, is having a devastating impact in the northeast, still killing dozens of civilians on a weekly basis.

Economic growth has slowed. Unemployment and lack of opportunity, especially in northern Nigeria, are undermining hope and playing into the narratives that extremists use to recruit.

But despite the challenges, the way I see it, Nigeria has incredible potential and opportunity. Its people are strong, resourceful, and resilient. It is blessed with natural resources, ranging from oil and gas to mighty rivers to highly productive agricultural land and people. It produces world-class intellectuals, artists, entrepreneurs, and business leaders. Its music, literature, and Nollywood movies are appealing to an increasingly global audience.

Looking at the years ahead, if Nigeria implements sound policies, it has the potential to regain its role as a strong and effective global player, a leader on the African continent, and an engine of economic growth not just in Nigeria but throughout West Africa, and the continent.

We want to partner with Nigeria – its people and its government – to make that a reality, and we want to work with Nigeria on issues of global importance such as climate change, nuclear security, sustainable development, strengthening collaboration on global health priorities, and countering violent extremism.

While acknowledging the challenges ahead, I want to recognize what Nigeria accomplished last year. The election last spring was an historic moment for the country, the rest of the continent, and the world. The smooth transition from President Jonathan to President Buhari served as a model for Africa.

Why was the election such a success? Because the people of Nigeria were determined to get out and vote, because they were determined that their ballots be counted, because the electoral commission did an outstanding job, and because the candidates respected the results. Going forward, the world now looks to Nigeria as a powerful model and an exporter of democratic ideals.

In the aftermath of the election, Nigerians have newfound optimism and an opportunity to set their country on a path to capitalize on its nearly unlimited potential. The election was a first and major step toward Nigeria fundamentally altering its course – and the country today stands at a crossroads.

This is a moment we must work together to seize. President Buhari, who spoke here at USIP last summer following his election, enjoys the support of a majority of Nigerians and widespread international goodwill. This provides him the opportunity to push through key reforms. We fully support an ambitious reform agenda and will continue to do all we can to help Nigeria succeed.

President Buhari’s trip to Washington and meeting with President Obama and Secretary Kerry last July was an important moment and a boost to bilateral relations. We are very excited about hosting President Buhari again at the Nuclear Security Summit on Thursday and Friday and hosting Foreign Minister Onyeama and many of his colleagues for the U.S.-Nigeria Bi-National Commission on Wednesday.

Let me repeat, because a good message is worth repeating: Everybody wants to see Nigeria succeed. And our goals within the U.S. government are to do everything we can to partner with Nigeria for success. Those include three primary goals that align closely with President Buhari’s objectives: fighting corruption, creating jobs and opportunity, and defeating Boko Haram. Let me share some of the details on our collaboration with Nigeria in these areas.

First, we are very encouraged that President Buhari has staked out a strong position on combatting corruption. As President Obama said when he addressed the African Union in Ethiopia last year, “Nothing will unlock Africa’s economic potential more than ending the cancer of corruption.” And as President Buhari has said, corruption is the “biggest monster of all” threatening Nigeria.

President Buhari was elected on an anti-corruption platform, and already he is following through on some key promises: he and his vice president have declared their assets, and he has made clear that no one will be immune from prosecution – not officials from past administrations, not officials from his own. The government has also implemented a Treasury Single Account for improved management and transparency of the government’s finances, and has started to eliminate ghost workers bloating civil service payrolls.

U.S. anti-corruption efforts in Nigeria are complementing efforts like these and focusing on capacity building assistance to civil society watchdogs, journalists, law enforcement agencies, and the judiciary. These efforts will help prevent new corruption; expose, investigate, and prosecute acts of corruption; and will trace and to the extent possible recover plundered assets.

We are also supporting efforts by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the judiciary to investigate and prosecute complex corruption cases. We have engaged religious communities, who are a very powerful force in Nigeria, to join in the fight against corruption. Corruption will be fought not just through technical assistance, but through widespread social change.

We hope to see Nigeria join the Open Government Partnership (OGP) and the Partnership on Illicit Finance (PIF) to further these anti-corruption efforts and join the growing global community that is using OGP and PIF to strengthen transparency, accountability, and good governance to deliver better government to citizens.

If Nigeria continues to build upon these initial anti-corruption steps, it has real potential to set a powerful example for the rest of the continent and the world. We all know how Nigeria’s image is sometimes closely associated with corruption, but imagine if Nigeria becomes synonymous with a vigorous fight against corruption – if Nigeria is able to tackle corruption, that would get global attention.

And within Nigeria, progress in combatting corruption will have huge benefits, including helping to ensure badly needed resources can flow to prosecuting the fight against Boko Haram, demonstrating a commitment to transparency and accountability, stimulating the economy, and improving Nigeria’s international appeal as an investment destination. It will concretely impact the daily lives of average Nigerian citizens.

More broadly, we are providing support for Nigeria to build strong, citizens’-rights-focused government institutions both in Abuja and at the subnational level. USAID is building capacity in key government agencies to strengthen fiscal responsibilities and improve transparency.

And Nigerian civil society organizations are becoming a force for democracy. We are working with these organizations, who are a critical arm of democracy, to strengthen their ability to engage with the government on issues of fiscal accountability, budget monitoring and transparency.

Civil society organizations are reviewing government expenditures and holding workshops on public information disclosure for government ministries. In a particularly positive example, an NGO’s efforts to set up an anonymous public tip line was adopted by the Nigerian police, and now the NGO and police are working together to ensure that the line is effective.

This support for strong government institutions and a powerful civil society is fundamental to achieving all of our goals in Nigeria — because as President Obama has said, “Africa doesn’t need strong men, it needs strong institutions.” So our work together is not just about fighting corruption. It is about supporting Nigerian efforts to improve governance and service delivery at all levels of government by strengthening government institutions.

Fighting corruption is central to our efforts on a second shared goal: strengthening the Nigerian economy to support a dynamic private sector that can provide jobs for the Nigerian people. Fighting graft is critical to achieving this goal, but on its own it is not enough. Nigeria also needs sound macroeconomic policies and a clear commitment to private sector-led economic growth.

A very good place to start is Nigeria’s underdeveloped and low-yielding power and energy sectors. Here, Nigeria has already begun ambitious reforms, and it is important that those reforms succeed. A turnaround in the power sector is crucial for unlocking economic growth and creating jobs.

President Obama’s Power Africa initiative is playing a critical role in supporting Nigeria’s efforts to improve power supply, including by supporting efforts to increase the financial viability of Nigeria’s distribution companies, supporting the rehabilitation and expansion of Nigeria’s transmission infrastructure, and helping to unlock Nigeria’s electricity generation capacity.

Through Power Africa we are also supporting Nigeria’s ongoing efforts to liberalize and privatize its power sector and expand opportunities for private sector-led investment in converting natural gas to power and renewable energy and energy efficient technology.

Given ongoing grid generation and distribution constraints, Power Africa is also focusing on expanding electricity connections through off-grid energy solutions. While getting large-scale projects right is so important, small, off-grid projects that can easily be brought to scale are necessary, too.

In partnership with General Electric, for example, the U.S. African Development Foundation and USAID, Power Africa has awarded six $100,000 grants to entrepreneurs for innovative, off-grid energy projects in Nigeria.

In addition to power, countrywide connection to phone service and the Internet is essential for Nigeria’s economic success, and this is another one of our important areas of support to Nigeria. We have assisted the Nigerian government in the planning and implementation of investments in telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas, and we’re looking to continue this support.

Building on these initial successes, there are areas in which we stand ready to partner with Nigeria to help the government advance important goals, including increasing non-oil revenue, investing in road infrastructure, and further diversifying the economy.

To lay the groundwork for progress in all these areas, it is essential that Nigeria take steps to implement macroeconomic policies that benefit all Nigerians and create incentives for investment, including a level playing field for small and medium-size enterprises.

Right now, the difference between the official and the parallel exchange rates leads to higher inflation, and presents opportunities for rent-seeking and a misallocation of resources.

Also, capital controls that limit access to foreign exchange reward insiders and undermine the stated goal of trying to increase domestic production because – Nigerian and expat investors alike tell us – many businesses are unable to obtain capital to purchase badly-needed intermediate goods.

An overly rigid exchange rate, capital controls, and import bans benefit insiders, and could undermine the key economic pillars of the Buhari Administration, namely, the fight against corruption and the need to expand growth.

Improving Nigeria’s education system is also central to improving labor productivity, to economic development and to creating opportunities. USAID is working in Nigeria to improve the quality of teaching and learning, increase equitable access to education, and integrate peace building and safety into school communities. Our efforts to promote girls’ education and women’s entrepreneurship are key – when women are empowered, they empower their families, communities, and their country.

President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative is also having a major impact in Nigeria and throughout the continent. We have doubled the number of YALI Fellows this year to 1,000, with 100 from Nigeria, up from 40 last year. As we combed through the thousands of applications, we marveled at the high quality of Nigerian applicants – so many talented and enthusiastic young people poised to make a difference.

Let me quickly share a story about a YALI Fellow named Temitayo Etomi from Nigeria, who attended a business and entrepreneurship institute at Clark Atlanta University in 2014. Temitayo founded a nonprofit network of entrepreneurs and young professionals who are committed to reducing unemployment in Nigeria by at least 25 percent by building the skills of unemployed Nigerians. Upon returning home from the Fellowship, her nonprofit organization has employed and trained more than 100 Nigerians with the aim of creating 1.2 million jobs for Nigerian youth by 2020.

That’s the kind of dedication we need in order to accomplish our goals, and it’s the kind of entrepreneurial spirit and ingenuity that Nigeria needs. We will continue to work with Nigeria to find new ways in which to tap into that potential to drive the kind of growth that we know Nigeria is capable of.

Effectively and sustainably combatting corruption and creating jobs and opportunity depends greatly on our third central goal of strengthening security throughout the country. Our security cooperation with Nigeria focuses both on the immediate Boko Haram threat and medium-term stabilization objectives. Our security partnership also relies on a mutual understanding that respect for human rights and protection of civilians is critical to winning the battle against Boko Haram.

Boko Haram continues to devastate local communities, and the conflict has created a major humanitarian crisis in Nigeria and beyond its borders. Let me be clear: Nigeria and its regional allies must lead the fight against Boko Haram.

For our part, we are committed to work with Nigeria, its neighbors and other nations of good will to help develop a comprehensive, Nigeria-led strategy to secure a lasting victory.

Through our counter Boko Haram Strategy, we are focused on assisting the efforts of Nigeria and its neighbors in the fight against Boko Haram by helping them weaken Boko Haram’s capacity, financing, and cohesion; counter and prevent the factors that can lead individuals to violent extremism; promote more inclusive and capable local governance to address the underlying drivers of insecurity; and respond to the humanitarian needs of civilians affected by Boko Haram.

We are providing a range of security assistance to Nigeria, and we have stepped up information-sharing efforts. One component of our strategy is providing support to the Multinational Joint Task Force, which includes soldiers from Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, and Benin.

We are providing advisors, intelligence, training, logistical support, and equipment. This is part of a regional approach to a problem that transcends borders.

And as the second anniversary of the Chibok girls’ captivity approaches, we continue to actively support the efforts to locate these girls – none of us has given up on the fight to bring these girls home. We are equally concerned about the thousands of other victims of Boko Haram, which by some measures is the most deadly terrorist organization in the world today.

Through the Security Governance Initiative, which President Obama launched in 2014 with six African partners, including Nigeria, we are exploring ways to enhance the management of security and justice systems so the Government of Nigeria can provide these services, including in the northeast, more efficiently and effectively.

I also think there are important moves Nigeria must make in its efforts to defeat Boko Haram. First, it is critical that the foot soldiers of Boko Haram – especially those who may not have joined willfully – are able to leave the group and eventually be accepted back into their communities. The need for these pathways is one of the key lessons we’ve learned from conflicts across the globe. We are ready to help Nigeria support and encourage such defections and reintegration. This is difficult but necessary work.

Second, people who have been forcibly displaced by Boko Haram must not be asked to return to their homes before those communities are safe and the displaced feel ready to return. Premature returns put IDPs in undue harm and are inconsistent with international norms. This, too, is an area where we look forward to working with Nigerians and the United Nations system.

Third, Nigeria should invest more federal resources to meet the humanitarian needs of the victims of Boko Haram, while developing and implementing a long-term development strategy in collaboration with state governments and local authorities.

We’re optimistic about the commitment Nigeria is showing to improving its security, and we will continue pressing our Nigerian partners to respond to threats responsibly, professionally, and transparently.

While I’ve focused on three specific goals in the U.S.-Nigeria relationship, our cooperation of course runs much, much, deeper.

Take the health sector, for example. We cannot achieve our shared global health goals if we don’t partner with Nigeria. We are very pleased the Buhari administration is committed to picking up more of the costs of our joint health programming.

Since 1994, we have provided $4.2 billion to Nigeria in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care. Nigeria has had some great health accomplishments – the country’s quick and coordinated response to Ebola cases was critical to preventing a potential catastrophe in Lagos and elsewhere.

Similarly, thanks to coordinated efforts by all levels of the Nigerian government, civil society, religious leaders, and tens of thousands of dedicated health workers, Nigeria went from having the majority of the world’s polio cases to being declared polio free.

Many challenges remain, however, including HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis, and we will work closely with Nigeria going forward on these and other health-related issues.

Looking ahead, the Bi-National Commission on Wednesday is a fantastic opportunity for senior leaders from the United States and Nigeria to come together in one room to advance all of the priorities I just discussed, as well as those I haven’t had time for.

Let me turn back to that question I asked earlier: What can we do to support a strong, proactive, and prosperous Nigeria?

When I look out at all of you in the audience, I see a diverse group of individuals who can all play a positive role. I see members of the diaspora, who can promote investment and spur development in their communities of origin, as well as urge governments to adopt effective policies. I see academics and individuals from think tanks that can identify creative solutions to problems and advise governments on solutions.

I see folks from the business community who can help create more jobs in Nigeria. I see civil society representatives, who can hold government officials accountable and demand better governance and respect for human rights. And I see members of the media, who can raise awareness of Boko Haram’s despicable attacks, as well as report on Nigeria’s progress. And of course, I see members of the Diplomatic Corps, who represent their governments here in Washington and convey your views to their governments.

Again I’ll go back to opportunity, because I firmly believe that Nigeria has incredible potential for leadership in Africa, and this is a pivotal moment. The opportunity is right there in front of us, so together, let’s redouble our efforts to partner with Nigeria and seize the moment.

Thank you so much.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of U.S. Department of State.

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Source:: Partnership with Nigeria: The U.S. View

Categories: AFRICA

IMF Staff Holds Combined 2016 Article IV Consultation and Fifth ECF Review Mission to Sierra Leone

An International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission led by John Wakeman-Linn visited Freetown during March 15–29, 2016 to conduct the fifth review under the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and hold the 2016 Article IV consultation discussions.1

At the conclusion of the visit, Mr. Wakeman-Linn issued the following statement:

“Sierra Leone’s economy is recovering from the twin shocks of the Ebola virus epidemic and the halt in iron-ore mining. Economic momentum is building again, and GDP is expected to grow by 4.3 percent this year from a contraction of 21 percent in 2015. The improvement reflects the pick-up in economic activities following the end of Ebola, and the resumption of iron ore mining early this year. Inflation remained stable at 8.5 percent in 2015, but a small up-tick is expected in 2016 due to the depreciation of the Leone.

“The government budget is under pressure, reflecting a likely shortfall in donor receipts, higher-than budgeted spending on certain categories of expenditures, and a shortfall in domestic financing. Notwithstanding the resumption of iron exports, the current account balance is projected to widen relative to 2015, as official transfers slow down. Despite pressure in the foreign exchange market, gross international reserves of the Bank of Sierra Leone (BSL) are projected to remain unchanged.

“Over the medium term (2017–19), growth could average 5 percent owing to expected improvements in the external environment and implementation of a wide range of post-Ebola recovery initiatives in key sectors. But there are important downside risks. Ebola virus could resurface, dampening economic activities. Dependence on external flows, especially from iron ore exports and donor support, leaves the economy exposed to external shocks. Further global economic slowdown, particularly lower demand from China, a major trading partner, could stall the momentum. Fiscal policy implementation could suffer from lack of financing, undermining growth prospects further. Banking system reforms, if not implemented, could create financial sector risks. Delay in the implementation of business environment reforms could impact on the transmission of economic policies, reducing growth impact. To ensure the economy is prepared to address these risks, policy makers will need to be prepared to adjust policies as necessary should the economic environment change.

“Progress has been made towards completing the fifth review. All end-December 2015 quantitative performance criteria and all indicative targets were met. All but two structural benchmarks were also met. The Public Financial Management (PFM) Bill has stalled in Parliament, as a result of which structural benchmarks on the establishment of the Treasury Single Account and the Natural Resource Revenue Fund were missed. Despite the overall progress, discussions aimed at completing the review continue. The mission and authorities reached a common understanding of the challenges and risks associated with the 2016 budget, and have made some progress in discussions on how to address those challenges. These discussions will continue in the coming weeks. There were agreements on some elements of near term policies. Fiscal policy will focus on managing government finances to reduce the immense stress it is under. Revenue policies will address enhanced mobilization and elimination of import duty exemptions and waivers which cost the budget significant revenue. Expenditure policy will seek to increase oversight of the finances of sub-vented agencies and state owned enterprises. Pro-poor expenditure will continue to be protected.

“BSL underscored its commitment to maintaining the current stance of monetary policy, so as to contain inflationary expectations. However, there is a need for the BSL to engage in proactive liquidity management to ease the tight liquidity situation in the banking sector. Financial sector policies will be crucial to promote growth, and it will be important to implement policies that enhance linkages between the financial and real sectors, which also complement a credible fiscal stance. Deepening financial intermediation, mobilizing savings, promoting credit, and providing longer-term financing sources for investments are important considerations in the effort to diversify the economy.

“The structural reform agenda has been instrumental to the improvements in the transmission of economic policies. The program contains policies to help enhance revenue, make public spending more efficient and transparent, the banking system more resilient, and the business environment more supportive of inclusive growth. Speeding up the pace of reforms including tax administration, and transition to the single treasury account are critical. Quick measures to address the problems in select banks would improve banking system performance, and create the atmosphere for durable private sector development.

“The mission met with President Koroma, Minister of Finance, Dr. Kaifalah Marah, and Minister of State for Finance Patrick Conteh; the Governor of BSL, Momodu Kargbo; senior government and BSL officials, representatives of the financial sector, private sector, civil society, and development partners.

“The IMF mission wishes to express its gratitude to the Sierra Leonean authorities for the constructive discussions and hospitality during its visit to Freetown.”

1 The ECF is a lending arrangement that provides sustained program engagement over the medium to long term in case of protracted balance of payments problems. The IMF Executive Board approved the arrangement for Sierra Leone in October 2013 (see Press Release No. 13/410).

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Source:: IMF Staff Holds Combined 2016 Article IV Consultation and Fifth ECF Review Mission to Sierra Leone

Categories: AFRICA

The Internet Society brings African Peering and Interconnection Forum to Tanzania for first time

The Internet Society (www.InternetSociety.org) will bring its annual Africa Peering and Interconnection Forum (AfPIF) to Tanzania for the first time. The organisation has partnered with the Tanzania Internet Service Providers Association (TISPA) (http://TISPA.or.tz) to hold the seventh annual AfPIF in the country’s capital, Dar es Salaam, 30 August- 1 September, 2016. Serving as a platform to expand Internet infrastructure and services across Africa, the event will bring together key players to address the opportunities in interconnection, peering and traffic exchange on the continent.

The forum seeks to build cross-border interconnection opportunities and facilitate discussions on African Internet infrastructure challenges, including terrestrial capacity, development of national and regional Internet Exchange Points (IXP) and local content.

“Internet connectivity in Africa has increased over the last few years delivering access to close to a third of the population on the continent. Improving interconnection and traffic exchange has become even more important today as an increasing number of Africans rely on the Internet in their daily lives,” explained Dawit Bekele, Regional Director for Africa of the Internet Society.

“Since we first launched this event six years ago, we have seen a notable increase in investments and initiatives that have led to improvements in the extent and quality of national and regional interconnection. This has been possible thanks to the connections people make at AfPIF. The forum has in particular enabled Africans to collaborate and work together towards the development of the Internet infrastructure on the continent,” he added.

“TISPA remains committed to advancing and protecting the interests of its members while promoting the advancement of the Internet sector. We believe by working with AfPIF to host this auspicious event in August will be one leap forward for Tanzania in terms of network optimization” said Vinay Choudary, the chairman of TISPA.

AfPIF has previously been held in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, Morocco, Senegal and Mozambique. Last year’s event featured 232 participants from 57 countries and an online participation of 978 people in 77 different countries.

The Internet Society aims to advance the African interconnection agenda at AfPIF-2016, in line with the vision to achieve 80% local and 20% international Internet traffic by the year 2020. The event welcomes sponsors as well as past attendees and new participants to join the leading peering and interconnection forum for Africa.

Promising more than just a forum – AfPIF connects Internet service, infrastructure, and content providers, with government regulators and policymakers to provide an opportunity to advance peering and interconnection arrangements and to make a positive contribution to Africa’s Internet resources.

Read last year’s event summary report: http://www.apo.af/OGJe3R

Visit AfPIF 2016 websites in English: http://www.internetsociety.org/afpif-2016/home

Visit AfPIF 2016 websites in French: https://www.internetsociety.org/afpif-2016-fr

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of Internet Society (ISOC).

Media Contact:

Internet Society
Betel Hailu
hailu@isoc.org

TISPA
Ismail Settenda
ismail@tispa.or.tz

About the Internet Society
The Internet Society (www.InternetSociety.org) is the trusted independent source for Internet information and thought leadership from around the world. It is also the organizational home for the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF). With its principled vision and substantial technological foundation, the Internet Society promotes open dialogue on Internet policy, technology, and future development among users, companies, governments, and other organizations. Working with its members and Chapters around the world, the Internet Society enables the continued evolution and growth of the Internet for everyone.

About Tanzania Internet Service Providers Association (TISPA)
TISPA (http://TISPA.or.tz) is an association that is also non profit organization (NGO) whose members are the Internet Service Providers operating in Tanzania and aims to bring together the Internet community to collectively make the Internet accessible to as many people as possible by encouraging the proliferation of Internet services in the sector, and have their effects be as positive as possible to the users and the country in general.
For more information, visit http://TISPA.or.tz

Source:: The Internet Society brings African Peering and Interconnection Forum to Tanzania for first time

Categories: AFRICA

Statement on the 9th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

The 9th meeting of the Emergency Committee convened by the WHO Director-General under the International Health Regulations (2005) (IHR) regarding the Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa took place by teleconference on Tuesday, 29 March 2016 from 12:30 until 15:15 hr.

The Committee was requested to provide the Director-General with views and perspectives as to whether the event continues to constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and whether the current Temporary Recommendations should be extended, rescinded or revised.
Representatives of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone presented the epidemiological situation, ongoing work to prevent Ebola re-emergence, and capacity to detect and respond rapidly to any new clusters of cases in each country.

The Committee noted that since its last meeting all three countries have met the criteria for confirming interruption of their original chains of Ebola virus transmission. Specifically, all three countries have now completed the 42 day observation period and additional 90 day enhanced surveillance period since their last case that was linked to the original chain of transmission twice tested negative. Guinea achieved this milestone on 27 March 2016.

The Committee observed that, as expected, new clusters of Ebola cases continue to occur due to reintroductions of virus as it is cleared from the survivor population, though at decreasing frequency. Twelve such clusters have been detected to date, the most recent of which was reported on 17 March 2016 in Guinea and is ongoing. The Committee was impressed that to date all of these clusters have been detected and responded to rapidly, limiting transmission to at most two generations of cases in the 11 clusters which have now been stopped.

The Committee provided its view that Ebola transmission in West Africa no longer constitutes an extraordinary event, that the risk of international spread is now low, and that countries currently have the capacity to respond rapidly to new virus emergences. Accordingly, in the Committee’s view the Ebola situation in West Africa no longer constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern and the Temporary Recommendations adopted in response should now be terminated.

The Committee emphasized that there should be no restrictions on travel and trade with Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and that any such measures should be lifted immediately.

As in other areas of sub-Saharan Africa where Ebola virus is present in the ecosystem, and recognizing that new clusters due to re-emergence may occur in the coming months, the Committee reinforced that these countries must maintain the capacity and readiness to prevent, detect and respond to any ongoing and/or new clusters in future. National and international efforts must be intensified to ensure that male survivors can have their semen tested for virus persistence and know their status. Work must continue on the use of Ebola vaccination for intimate and close contacts of those survivors who have persistent virus excretion. Particularly important will be to ensure that communities can rapidly and fully engage in any future response, cases are quickly isolated and managed, local population movement in the affected areas is managed, and appropriate contact lists are shared with border authorities.

The Committee further emphasized the crucial need for continued international donor and technical support to prevent, detect and respond rapidly to any new Ebola outbreak in West Africa. International support is required in particular to maintain and, where needed, expand diagnostic laboratory and surveillance capacity, sustain vaccination capacity for outbreak response, and continue relevant research and development activities (e.g. on therapeutic options to clear persistent virus excretion). The Committee gave special attention to the need to ensure that sufficient and appropriate clinical care, testing capacity and welfare services are available to all survivors of this extraordinary health crisis.

Based on the advice of the Emergency Committee, and her own assessment of the situation, the Director-General terminated the Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) regarding the Ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa, in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005). The Director-General terminated the Temporary Recommendations that she had issued in relation to this event, supported the public health advice provided above by the Committee, and reinforced the importance of States Parties immediately lifting any restrictions on travel and trade with these countries. The Director-General thanked the Emergency Committee members and advisors for their service and expert advice, and requested their availability to reconvene if needed.

Distributed by APO (African Press Organization) on behalf of World Health Organization (WHO).

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Source:: Statement on the 9th meeting of the IHR Emergency Committee regarding the Ebola outbreak in West Africa

Categories: AFRICA