President Zuma Extends Condolences on the Passing of Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s Father

President Jacob Zuma has extended his condolences to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans, Ms Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, and her family on the sad passing of her father, Mr Douglas Vakele Mapisa.

“We wish to express our deepest condolences to Minister Mapisa-Nqakula and her family at this hour. May they find strength to cope with the difficulty and deep-seated pain that the passing of a parent brings to any household. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Mapisa and Nqakula families at this trying time,” said President Zuma.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Presidency.

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Source:: President Zuma Extends Condolences on the Passing of Minister Mapisa-Nqakula’s Father

      

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Press Statement attributable to Heather Nauert, United States Department of State Spokesperson

Press Statement attributable to Heather Nauert, United States Department of State Spokesperson:

The United States remains concerned about ongoing violence in the Central African Republic (CAR), and condemns in the strongest terms the continued targeted attacks against civilians, peacekeepers, and humanitarian actors. We further emphasize our strong support to the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA), in its efforts to protect civilians from violence, prevent atrocities, and help stabilize the country.

Fourteen UN peacekeepers have been killed in CAR since 2017 while providing support and protecting the CAR population from predatory armed groups that target, exploit, and kill civilians. These deaths are a tragic reminder of the high cost of violence and the price that peacekeepers, civilians, and humanitarian actors continue to pay.

We call on armed groups to put down their weapons and engage, without preconditions and in good faith, with the CAR government. We firmly oppose impunity for human rights violations, and support the Special Criminal Court to promote justice for victims and accountability for those responsible for atrocities.

The United States stands with the CAR Government, MINUSCA, and all Central Africans, as they strive for peace, justice, accountability, and the prevention of future atrocities in CAR.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Africa Regional Media Hub.

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Source:: Press Statement attributable to Heather Nauert, United States Department of State Spokesperson

      

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Democratic Republic of Congo: New ‘Kivu Security Tracker’ Maps Eastern Violence

The new Kivu Security Tracker will map violence by armed groups and Congolese security forces in the Democratic Republic of Congo‘s eastern Kivu provinces, Human Rights Watch and the New York University-based Congo Research Group said today. The joint project will monitor the worst violence in North and South Kivu provinces through maps, graphs, and analytical reports.

According to initial results from the Tracker, from June to November 2017, at least 526 civilians were killed in the Kivus, at least 1,087 people were abducted or kidnapped for ransom, and there were at least 11 incidents of mass rape.

“As civilians suffer alarming attacks in eastern Congo, the Kivu Security Tracker will provide policy makers, journalists, activists, and others with an innovative new tool to better understand the violence,” said Ida Sawyer, Central Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “We hope the Tracker will be used to more effectively address the root causes of Congo’s conflict, support communities affected, and hold those responsible to account.”

Since the Tracker began documenting incidents in June, a team of 14 Congolese researchers based across North and South Kivu have spoken daily with victims of abuses and their families, witnesses, customary chiefs, clergy, activists, and government officials to document abuses and seek to identify the armed actors responsible. Project staff in Congo and abroad then verify their reports with reliable sources before publishing incidents on the website, providing comprehensive and timely accounts that are updated as additional information becomes available.

The Tracker records violent incidents by armed groups and members of the Congolese security forces, both in armed conflict and political violence. The data set includes violent deaths, clashes between armed groups, abductions, kidnappings, mass rapes (with at least five victims in a single attack), property destruction, and the repression of peaceful political demonstrations. Nearly 800 incidents were logged during the first six months of reporting.

The Tracker is intended to promote greater understanding of events in a country facing increased violence. Last year, 922,000 people were displaced in Congo, more than anywhere else in the world. In October, the United Nations declared a “Level 3 emergency” in Congo, a category only given to three other countries: Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. The Congolese conflict, however, is marked by enormous complexity – the Tracker maps areas of control for 120 armed groups in just two of the country’s 26 provinces. This has made it difficult for policymakers to devise solutions and for media to tell the story behind the violence, the organizations said.

The Tracker helps address this challenge. By highlighting patterns and trends, and through a graphic representation of the violence, it aims to make the conflict more comprehensible. The initial findings indicate that much of the violence in the Kivus goes unreported. Ninety percent of the incidents documented on the Tracker, amounting to 70 percent of violent deaths, were not mentioned at all in international media. More than half are absent from the best available academic trackers of violence.

While many factors contribute to the violence, some trends stand out. Congolese security forces were responsible for over 100 violent deaths over the past six months, more than any single armed group and roughly one fifth of total killings documented. One of the worst single incidents documented was a massacre of at least 39 Burundian refugees by Congolese security forces in Kamanyola, South Kivu, on September 15.

The Tracker’s findings also suggest that the conflict in eastern Congo has been exacerbated by the country’s general political crisis, as President Joseph Kabila has delayed elections and used violence, repression, and corruption to entrench his hold on power beyond the end of his constitutionally mandated two-term limit, which ended on December 19, 2016. Armed groups have formed coalitions to challenge Kabila’s extended presidency, while the government has cracked down violently on peaceful protesters.

“Levels of displacement in Congo today are higher than ever recorded,” said
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Source:: Democratic Republic of Congo: New ‘Kivu Security Tracker’ Maps Eastern Violence

      

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Reforming and revitalizing higher education sector crucial for Africa’s development, experts say

The fourth Senior Experts Dialogue on Science, Technology and the African Transformation Agenda ended in Dakar Friday with experts making concrete recommendations for consideration by policy makers, universities, regional and continental organizations on how to align higher education policy with science, technology and innovation (STI) and industrial policies to support the transformation of Africa’s economies in line with the continent’s integration and development agenda.

Experts attending the meeting under the theme; ‘Higher education, science, technology and innovation and African integration and development’, agreed funding increases for universities and other higher education institutions are needed if these institutions are to make a significant contribution to Africa’s development.

The recommendations, which will be detailed in a report to be shared with African governments and other stakeholders, include the need to reform and revitalize the higher education sector in Africa; leveraging higher education and STI to achieve the sustainable development goals; exploring innovative ways of financing higher education institutions; and formulating incentives for university researchers to promote transfer of technology from universities to the private sector.

Kasirim Nwuke, Chief, New Technologies and Innovation Section in the Economic Commission for Africa’s Special Initiatives Division, said countries could begin by enacting domestic laws similar to the United States’s Bayh-Dole Act, a law which enables universities, non-profits, to own, patent and commercialize inventions that result from research funded by the US government.

The experts are also urging governments to increase research funding for STEM education and encourage more women to take STEM subjects.

Mr. Nwuke said a smart higher education and STI policy should include recruiting the best talent no matter where they are from.

“African governments could consider using targeted immigration and free-movement of Africans to attract talent to build world class competitive universities, great centres of research excellence,” he said, adding there were two good examples worthy of consideration; one is the Carnegie University programme in Rwanda and the American University of Nigeria (AUN).

Governments were also urged to deploy ICT to improve access to higher education, reduce the cost of research innovations and to use continental trade policy, notably Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) that is currently being negotiated, to advance the focus of African universities and to drive STI.

In closing Mr. Nwuke said this SED was successful as participants had used it to broaden and deepen the constituency for higher education and STI on the continent as they sought to help Africa to support higher education and STI ‘because it is only by so doing that we can achieve African development and integration’.

Professor Amadou Thierno Gaye, Senegal’s Director General of Research and Innovation said information and communications technologies and digital infrastructures were crucial for Africa’s success.

ICTs, he said, were increasingly becoming the backbone of teaching and the SED had emphasised on this and the need for them to foster scientific research, technological progress and innovation.

On the last day of the SED, the senior experts visited centres of excellence in and outside Dakar, including the Knowledge City, that is currently under construction, which will bring together Senegal’s higher education and research communities and promote innovation and scientific culture, among others.

They also toured the Amadou Mahtar Mbow University that is currently being constructed on the outskirts of Dakar. The university will take 30,000 students upon completion concentrating in science and innovation.

This SED was organised by the ECA and Senegal’s Higher Education, Research and Innovation Ministry.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

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Source:: Reforming and revitalizing higher education sector crucial for Africa’s development, experts say

      

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