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Africa

OIL & GAS: Europe should Decarbonize while Africa Industrializes

While western nations are calling for the abrupt end to fossil fuel utilization in Africa, countries such as the UK and Norway continue to hold licensing rounds intended to scale-up exploration and production. With Africa’s socioeconomic development hinging on the exploitation of the continent’s oil and gas resources, this hypocrisy could spell a travesty for Africa. As western organizations such as Greenpeace move to end African hydrocarbon investment in the name of climate change, shouldn’t European nations move to decarbonize first?

Europe is well-positioned to decarbonize its high-emitting sectors, owing to the availability of the required technologies; the regulatory frameworks in place; and the financial and economic capacity to do so. Having utilized ‘dirty’ fuels such as coal, oil, and gas for decades, the continent has been able to develop its economies substantially. According to the Eurostat, the EU operates a single market made up of 27 countries; total GDP in 2019 equated to €16.4 trillion; the EU accounted for 15% of the world’s trade in goods, and economic growth is projected to increase by 4% in 2022 and 2.8% in 2023. However, countries in the EU are also responsible for approximately 18% of global carbon dioxide emissions produced since the industrial revolution began. In the third quarter of 2021 alone, the EU’s greenhouse gas emissions t 881 otaledmillion tons of CO² equivalent. Yet, these nations continue to call for the end of African oil and gas development, despite holding licensing rounds to develop their own oil and gas.

On the contrary, despite holding some of the world’s largest oil, gas and coal reserves – estimated at 125.3 billion barrels of crude oil, 620 trillion cubic feet of gas and nearly 16.4 billion short tons of coal -, Africa’s development has been slow, largely due to natural resource exports, refined product imports, the lack of adequate infrastructure and the lack of adequate investment and reinvestment in key sectors. Representing the world’s fastest growing population; the youngest population; and holding some of the world’s fastest growing economies, Africa has the chance to accelerate development across its entire economy, driven by the exploration, production and utilization of its oil and gas reserves.

Having utilized ‘dirty’ fuels such as coal, oil and gas for decades, the continent has been able to develop its economies substantially

Oil and gas will enable Africa to improve access to energy and lift the over 600 million people across the continent out of energy poverty; significantly reduce the continent’s dependence on energy imports; and provide the much-needed revenue which African governments can utilize to fund infrastructure rollout in various sectors including energy, mining, transportation and health which are vital for economic stability.

African hydrocarbon producers should follow in the footsteps of European counterparts including Norway and Britain who have and continue to introduce new exploration licensing rounds to make it easier to drill and to expand production capacity. In January 2022, the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy awarded 53 production licenses in mature oil and gas producing areas in a bid to remain western Europe’s largest hydrocarbon producer whilst the British government in its latest Energy Security Strategy announced that it will award licenses for the increased drilling of oil and gas in the North Sea. This is what Africa needs to do: increase its exploration licensing rounds and the use of domestic hydrocarbons resources to end energy poverty rather than leaving these resources in the ground.

Countries across the continent have already made progress in this area with the introduction of licensing rounds in 2020 and 2021. According to the African Energy Chamber’s (AEC) Q1 2022 Outlook, the results of some 14 licensing rounds are expected to be announced this year while other rounds in Ivory Coast, Senegal, Algeria, the Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya are expected to be introduced in 2022 and 2023. Despite this progress, more needs to be done. While the introduction of licensing rounds is critical, implementation and execution is often slow and deters investors. In this regard, Africa needs to take a lesson from Europe, fast tracking these rounds and approvals so that the development of oil and gas can be accelerated.

“For years Africa has been told to stop using its oil and gas resources, even if those very resources are the solution to making energy poverty history. Now, faced with their own energy security crisis, Europe is pushing for new oil and gas licensing rounds to increase exploration, production and oil and gas utilization. How is it that Africa must decarbonize while Europe continues to industrialize? It seems that the saying do as I say and not as I do is clear, even in the energy space. But Africa will not do as they say. We deserve to develop our oil and gas to make energy poverty history. In 2022, Africa needs to ramp up its licensing rounds, drive exploration and position itself as the primary supplier for domestic and global markets,” Leoncio Amada Nze, President of African Energy Chamber CEMAC.

African Energy Week (AEW) 2022, Africa’s premier event for the oil and gas sector, which will take place from 18 – 21 October 2022 in Cape Town, remains committed to ensuring Africa develops and benefits from its oil and gas resources. Under the theme “Exploring and Investing in Africa’s Energy Future while Driving an Enabling Environment,” and through a series of panel discussions, investor forums and networking events, AEW 2022 represents the most suitable platform for driving project partnerships and investment deals while kickstarting both Europe’s decarbonization and Africa’s industrialization in 2022 and beyond.

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World

Meta launches Reels on Facebook across sub-Saharan Africa

Today, Meta (about.facebook.com/Meta) is expanding the availability of  Facebook Reels (https://bit.ly/3p8lc9w) for iOS and Android to more than 20 countries across sub-Saharan Africa. Meta is also introducing better ways to help creators to earn money, new creative tools and more places to watch and create Facebook Reels.

Prior to this launch Reels was available on Facebook in India, Mexico, Canada, the U.S, and is now available across sub-Saharan Africa in: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Uganda, Tanzania, Swaziland, South Africa, Seychelles, Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria, Namibia, Mali, Malawi, Lesotho, Kenya, Guinea, Ghana, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Burkina Faso.

Commenting on the launch Nunu Ntshingila, Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa at Meta says, “We’ve seen that video now accounts for almost all of the time people spend on Facebook and Instagram, and Reels is our fastest-growing content format by far. This is why we’re focused on making Reels the best way for creators to get discovered, connect with their audience, and earn money. We also want to make it fun and easy for people to find and share relevant and entertaining content.”

Meta is also creating a variety of opportunities for creators to earn money for their reels. The Reels Play bonus program (bit.ly/3BI6L0W), part of Meta’s $1 billion creator investment (bit.ly/3t2u0ie), pays eligible creators up to $35,000 a month based on the views of their qualifying reels. In the coming months, the bonus program will be extended to more countries, so more creators can get rewarded for creating reels that their communities love.

As part of the launch Meta is also launching brand suitability controls, including Publisher Lists, Blocklists, Inventory Filters and Delivery Reports for Banner and Sticker Ads in Facebook Reels in every region they are available, giving advertisers more control over how their ads appear in places they don’t consider suitable for their brand or campaign. Additionally, Meta has been testing full-screen and immersive ads in between Facebook Reels since October of last year, and will roll them out to more places around the world over the coming months. Just like with organic content on Facebook, people can comment, like, view, save, share and skip them.

Meta has been testing full-screen and immersive ads in between Facebook Reels since October of last year, and will roll them out to more places around the world over coming months

More Editing Features

In addition to the features (https://bit.ly/3BLbBuu) announced last year, creators around the world will be able to access:

  • Remix: Create your own reel alongside an existing, publicly-shared reel on Facebook. When you create a Remix, you can create a reel that includes all or part of another creator’s reel.
  • 60-second Reels: Make reels up to 60 seconds long.
  • Drafts: You will soon be able to create a reel and choose to “Save As Draft” below the Save button.
  • Video Clipping: In the coming months, we’re planning to roll out video clipping tools that will make it easier for creators who publish live or long-form, recorded videos to test different formats.

 

Create and Discover Reels in New Places

Over the coming weeks, the following updates will be rolled out to make it easier to create and discover reels in new places:

  • Reels in Stories: You can share public reels to Stories on Facebook, making it easy to share favourite reels with friends and giving creators more visibility and reach. You’ll also be able to create reels from existing public stories.
  • Reels in Watch: You’ll be able to watch reels directly within the Watch tab and we’re developing tools to help you create reels in the Watch tab as well.
  • Top of Feed: We’re adding a new Reels label at the top of Feed so you’ll be able to easily create and watch reels in just a few clicks.
  • Suggested Reels in Feed: In select countries, we’re starting to suggest reels that you may like in your Feed from people you do not already follow.

 

Meta is also exploring ways to make it easier for creators to share Reels to both their Facebook and Instagram audiences, such as cross posting.

You can find Facebook Reels in Feed, Groups and Watch. When viewing a reel, you can follow the creator directly from the video, like and comment on it or share it with friends.

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AfricaAPO-OPA

Older People at Heightened Risk in Conflict Globally- Report

Older people are often at heightened risk of abuses during armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. All parties to armed conflict should end abuses against older people and facilitate humanitarian assistance to older people in need. The United Nations Security Council should ensure that the UN addresses the need for enhanced protection of older civilians in armed conflict in its work.

The 49-page report, “No One Is Spared: Abuses against Older People in Armed Conflict,” describes patterns of abuses documented by Human Rights Watch between 2013 and 2021 against older people affected by armed conflicts in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Mali, Mozambique, Nagorno-Karabakh, Niger, South Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine. The report also draws on the serious protracted violence in two English-speaking regions of Cameroon, Myanmar security force atrocities against older ethnic Rohingya in Rakhine State, and the experiences of older refugees in Lebanon displaced by conflict in Syria.

“Older people face serious abuses, including summary execution, rape, and abduction, during conflicts,” said Bridget Sleap, senior researcher on the rights of older people at Human Rights Watch. “There is an urgent need for governments and the UN to recognize the specific risks and assistance needs of older people and act to protect them.”

Government forces and non-state armed groups have attacked and committed serious abuses against older civilians in conflicts around the world, including unlawful killing, summary executions, arbitrary arrest and detention, torture and other ill-treatment, rape, abduction and kidnapping, and destroyed their homes and property. Older civilians have been killed and injured by small arms, heavy weapons, explosive weapons with wide area effects, and chemical and other banned weapons.  Older people are often at heightened risk when they are unable or chose not to flee attacks.

In Burkina Faso and Mali, armed Islamist groups, government forces, and ethnic militias have killed numerous older people, including prominent elders. On January 27, 2022, the Malian army executed two men in their 80s and 12 others in the village of Touna, Mali, in apparent retaliation for the death of two soldiers whose vehicle drove over an improvised explosive device.

There is an urgent need for governments and the UN to recognize the specific risks and assistance needs of older people and act to protect them

In South Sudan, a rape survivor in her late 50s said that during government operations against rebel forces in February 2019, a soldier made her carry looted property, beat her with a gun, and raped her repeatedly.

Between December 2016 and April 2017, Syrian government warplanes carried out four aerial attacks with apparent nerve agents, a group of chemicals that includes sarin. Older people were among those who reportedly died in the attacks from chemical exposure.

During hostilities, in many instances older people with limited mobility or other disabilities did not have support from others to flee when fighting neared and had to remain behind. In 2017, Rohingya who were forced out of Myanmar described security forces pushing older people who could not flee back into burning houses. “I saw them push my husband’s uncle into the fire. I saw them push him back into the burning house,” one woman said. “He is weak, maybe 80 years [old]…. I think they wanted everyone to leave and those that could not leave they put into the fire.”

Other older people chose not to flee their homes because they wanted to protect their property. During the conflict in 2020 over Nagorno-Karabakh, the ethnic-Armenian majority enclave in Azerbaijan, most younger civilians fled. Those remaining, with few exceptions, were older people. An older woman and her husband, Arega and Eduard, both in their 70s, remained in their village to protect their property. In October, Azerbaijani soldiers found the couple at home and aggressively detained them, holding them initially in abandoned houses without food and water, then taking them to a detention facility in Azerbaijan’s capital, Baku. Officials denied Arega medication for her high blood pressure. Eduard died in detention. When Arega viewed his body shortly after his death, she described his face as black and blue.

Displaced older people can also face abuse and barriers to obtaining humanitarian assistance. In South Sudan in 2017, a 70-year-old man who was blind said aid was inaccessible on the island to which he was displaced. “Some organizations have registered older people, but I never got registered because they did not come to this particular island,” he said. “There’s no health clinic either on the island. To get medical assistance, I must travel to another island or to the mainland.”

International humanitarian law, the laws of war, recognizes the protection of older civilians during armed conflict. It requires to the extent feasible the safe removal of older civilians, among others, from the vicinity of military targets, and the provision of suitable accommodations for detained civilians on the basis of age among other factors. Older people are also protected at all times by applicable international human rights law.

“UN agencies, peacekeeping missions, and humanitarian actors should ensure that all protection and assistance activities are inclusive of older people and their specific needs,” Sleap said. “Older people, with their unique protection needs, should no longer be invisible victims of armed conflict.”

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Africa

Women building a sustainable future: Fighting back the desert, amid Niger’s refugee and climate crises

In the dusty plains outside Ouallam, a town some 100 kilometres north of Niger’s capital Niamey, verdant rows of vegetables sprout from the soil in neat plots. Adding further contrast to the parched surroundings, women in bright shawls walk among the rows, checking irrigation pipes and adding a splash of water to any thirsty-looking specimens.

‘We are very happy to work together’

The 450 or so women who work this land are drawn from three distinct communities: some are locals, others were displaced by conflict and insecurity elsewhere in Niger, and the rest are refugees from neighbouring Mali.

“We did this all together with the different communities: the refugees, the displaced, and the local community of Ouallam. We are very happy to work together,” says 35-year-old Rabi Saley, who settled in the area after fleeing armed attacks in her hometown Menaka, 100 kilometres further north across the border in Mali.

The produce she grows – including potatoes, onions, cabbages, bell peppers and watermelons – helps to feed her seven children and provide an income by selling the surplus at a local market. Since its creation, the market garden project has also helped smooth the arrival of thousands of refugees and internally displaced people to the town.

“When we learned that they were going to settle here, we were afraid and unhappy,” recalls Katima Adamou, a 48-year-old woman from Ouallam who has her own plot nearby. “We thought that they were going to make our life impossible, but instead it’s been the opposite.”

Adapting to the changing climate

Political unrest and frequent attacks by armed groups in Mali and Nigeria have pushed 250,000 refugees, most from Mali and Nigeria, to seek safety in Niger, whilst violence within the country’s own borders has forced a further 264,000 internally displaced people from their homes.

The refugees and the populations who host them are the engines of change and can support themselves and ensure the resilience of their communities

Meanwhile, climate change is pushing up temperatures in the Sahel at 1.5 times the global average, and the 4.4 million people forcibly displaced across the region are among the most exposed to the devastating impacts of drought, flooding and dwindling resources.

In Ouallam’s market garden – an initiative launched in April 2020 by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency – the women have learned to nourish their plants using drip irrigation to minimize evaporation and preserve scarce water resources.

An added benefit of the project is its role in helping Nigeriens adapt to the changing climate. By cultivating a large swathe of formerly degraded land near the town and planting trees, they are helping to stave off the desertification that threatens large parts of the country.

Building blocks of sustainable development

In another part of Ouallam, a further boost to community integration and environmental protection comes from a less likely source. The town brickyard employs 200 men and women – refugees, internally displaced and locals – in the manufacture of stabilized soil bricks.

Made by combining soil with small amounts of sand, cement and water before compacting and drying in the sun, the interlocking bricks reduce the need for cement mortar during construction. Crucially, they also eliminate the need to burn large amounts of scarce wood or other fuel used in the firing of traditional clay bricks.

“After, these bricks are used to build houses for the people supported by UNHCR – the refugees, the internally displaced, as well as a part of the vulnerable host community,” explained Elvis Benge, a UNHCR shelter officer in Niger.

“Ultimately, the refugees and the populations who host them are the engines of change and can support themselves and ensure the resilience of their communities,” Benge added.

Back in the market garden, having worked with her new neighbours to meet the challenge of daily survival as well as era-defining crises beyond their control, Ms. Saley stands surrounded by the fruits of her labour and reflects on a job well done.

“We have become one community – I even got married here!” she says. “The woman blossoms, just like the plants!”

This story is part of multimedia UN News series featuring women leading initiatives for a more sustainable, equitable future, published ahead of this year’s International Women’s Day on 08 March.

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Oil & Gas

ECP signs Partnership Agreement with Senegal’s Petrosen

Senegal’s national oil and gas company has signed a development and cooperation agreement with Africa’s leading investment platform for the energy sector

  • ECP is responsible for the organization of the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference & Exhibition, developed under the patronage of H.E. Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal.
  • ECP will, from now on, be integrated in an event committee led by Petrosen, that will allow further collaboration in the organization of the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference & Exhibition as well as other initiatives.
  • The new agreement will see Energy Capital & Power (ECP) build a deeper relationship with the NOC, participating in a number of initiatives to promote the country’s energy sector throughout the year.

Energy Capital & Power, Africa’s leading investment platform for the energy sector and the organizers of West Africa’s largest energy event, the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference and Exhibition, has signed a partnership agreement with Senegal’s national oil company, Petrosen, that will see the two entities deepen ties as they collaborate to promote the energy sectors of the country, and the MSGBC Region as a whole.

ECP’s relationship with Petrosen has been nothing short of symbiotic, and I look forward to bringing this success to new highs in the years to come

Following the largely successful first edition of the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference and Exhibition, organized by ECP, this partnership comes as a milestone for the two entities whose vision is to promote the MSGBC Basin’s attractiveness to international investors at a time when new developments have primed the region as a world-class opportunity for production and exploration.

In the wake of the hugely successful first edition of the MSGBC Oil, Gas & Power Conference and Exhibition in December 2021, ECP has been continuously developing initiatives to promote the development of Senegal, its energy sector, and fundamentally, its people, with the company maintaining its close and fundamental partnership with H.E. President Macky Sall. The growing relationship with Petrosen is only a natural extension of those very efforts.

“We cannot overestimate the importance of this partnership for Senegal in particular and for the MSGBC region as a whole. ECP’s relationship with Petrosen has been nothing short of symbiotic, and I look forward to bringing this success to new highs in the years to come,” says International Conference Director, Sandra Jeque, ECP’s leading name in the Senegalese energy landscape

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Africa

President Kenyatta welcomes UAE’s plan to establish an Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre in Kenya

President Uhuru Kenyatta has welcomed an announcement by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to establish an innovation and entrepreneurship centre in Kenya.

The announcement is part of the outcomes of President Kenyatta’s bilateral talks with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Following the talks held during the President’s working visit to the UAE, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces has directed the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development to establish an innovation and entrepreneurship centre in Kenya.

This collaboration between the UAE and Kenya will see the two respective nations implement Khalifa Fund’s successful model to the new innovation and entrepreneurism centre

“Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development has announced its plan to establish an innovation and entrepreneurship centre in the Republic of Kenya,” a news release by the official Emirates News Agency indicated.

The innovation and entrepreneurship centre will focus on launching programmes, workshops and initiatives geared towards providing aspiring and established Kenyan entrepreneurs with guidance on how they can inject innovation into their entrepreneurial endeavours to boost the national economy.

According to the Khalifa Fund and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development Chairman Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa Al Hammadi, the directive of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to establish a centre for innovation and tech-focused entrepreneurism in Kenya comes as part of the UAE’s ongoing commitment to contribute towards empowering talented innovators and entrepreneurs around the world.

“With centres such as these, we provide entrepreneurs with resources, support and guidance to contribute to their local and global economy, bringing about positive economic implications and security,” Al Hammadi said.

He added: “This collaboration between the UAE and Kenya will see the two respective nations implement Khalifa Fund’s successful model to the new innovation and entrepreneurism centre with the aim of reflecting the same levels of achievement in Kenya as has been experienced in the UAE.”

Al Hammadi said the Khalifa Fund, which was recently recognised as the best-in-the-world by the Global Monitoring Index, is committed to enhancing and elevating Kenya in a similar fashion to assist in creating job opportunities for Kenyans.

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Africa

Global Road Safety Film Festival to Showcase Solutions for Smart and Safe Mobility

The 8th Edition of the Global Road Safety Film Festival, to be held on 21-22 February 2022, will showcase the best films from among submissions from over 40 countries worldwide that highlight smart and safe mobility solutions to the road safety crisis.

The Festival’s focus on smart and safe mobility follows a global call over the last four months for short films – from professional video makers, interested individuals, civil society and government bodies – to promote awareness of how to make roads safer and fight the silent crisis of road deaths and injuries.

Over 95 films are taking part in the Film Festival competition from 40 countries worldwide including Chile, Egypt, El Salvador Ethiopia, India, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Pakistan and Senegal. Screenings are being held on the first day of the festival, with the award ceremony due to wrap up the second day.

In addition to the Grand Prize, Most Creative and Innovative Film, and Jury Prize, this Edition of the Festival includes a special UN Road Safety Fund Moments2Live4 campaign prize, which will be voted for by the public online. Additional awards will be given to films under the themes of speed, driving under influence, safe equipment, protecting children, distracted driving and on youth and women.

We are pleased to be part of this new cooperation mechanism that extends across media, science and culture

The event, held as part of the Inland Transport Committee’s (ITC) 75th Anniversary session, is being run by the Laser International Foundation, together with the UN Road Safety Fund and UN Economic Commission for Europe.

The UN Road Safety Fund will also premiere its ‘Join the Change’ short film at the Festival, which has been produced by La Nuez Audiovisual Productions, featuring a new platform for individual donations.

“We are proud to support the 8th Edition of the Film Festival highlighting the citizens behind smart road safety solutions worldwide,” stated Nneka Henry, Head of the UN Road Safety Fund. “Awareness and advocacy matter if we are to create the global change at the core of the UN Road Safety Fund’s work. I invite audiences to watch the films, vote for your favourite Moments2Live4 video, and donate to help us aim higher.”

“The creative movies, shot by communities, schools and government agencies, show the difference of driving by the rules. Road safety principles make everyone’s life less fragile. We must continue to work at international institutional level to deliver a culture of road safety”, commented Luciana Iorio, Chair of the UNECE/ITC Global Forum for Road Traffic Safety.

“The Global Road Safety Film Festival developments are at their heart about extending the network of road safety stakeholders, helping to facilitate international cooperation in the critical area of road safety, and rolling out fresh local and national multimedia programs,” said Robert Trottein, President of the Laser International Foundation. “We are pleased to be part of this new cooperation mechanism that extends across media, science and culture.”

The Festival will be webstreamed and winning entries will be available to screen at events worldwide. To register please visit: https://roadsafetyfund.un.org/en/events/global-road-safety-film-festival-2022.

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AfricaAPO-OPACoverEconomyOpinionWorld

Achieving AU Agenda 2063

Mr. Mabingwe Ngom

“Africa’s Year of Nutrition 2022 is Opportune and Timely”-Mr.Mabingwe

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA),  welcomes the vision behind the African Union (AU) theme for 2022: ‘Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent: strengthening Agro-Food Systems, Health and Social Protection Systems for the Acceleration of Human, Social and Economic Capital Development’.

World hunger has been on the rise since 2015 and saw a dramatic increase as a result of COVID-19. The UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) says the number of food-insecure people rose by 318 million in 2020, 86 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence of food insecurity – 66 per cent of the population.

Malnutrition is linked to poverty, low levels of education and poor access to health, including reproductive health services and family planning. The Cost of Hunger in Africa (COHA) study has demonstrated a direct link between poor nutrition and economic development, estimating that countries lose between 2 to 16 per cent of their annual gross domestic product (GDP) because of childhood stunting. These challenges threaten the realisation of the AU’s Agenda 2063 ‘The Africa We Want’. Food security is essential to achieve the continent’s long-term goals.

With the 2022 theme, the AU highlights the paramount importance of adequate nutrition for health and wellbeing, stimulating human capital development and the socio-economic potential of individuals, families and communities.

2022 presents an opportunity to invest more effectively in nutrition and accelerate the march towards people-driven development that harnesses the power of women and youth. As the continent with the youngest population in the world, Africa can experience a ‘demographic dividend’, as seen in Asian Tiger countries, when the economically active population became larger than the dependent population, leading to increased growth and prosperity. When food security improves, health, well-being and productivity follow, increasing the likelihood of achieving a demographic dividend.

Nutrition and food security are a springboard for a positive health outcome and sustainable economic development. The impetus, driven by the top level of Africa’s governance, will improve the nutrition of millions of young people, who will become more productive as a result, as well as further reduce maternal deaths; thousands of pregnant women die each year from severe iron-deficiency anaemia.

Nutrition and food security programs will also transform the lives of more than a third of Africa’s population under the age of five years and these will, in turn, curb the enormous losses caused by malnutrition on the continent’s GDP.

Timely, integrated interventions

The focus on nutrition is timely, when according to the Ecological Threat Report 2021, climate change and demographic growth are driving increased food insecurity across the globe, with two ‘hotspots’ on the continent – southern Africa (from Angola to Madagascar) and the Sahel-Horn of Africa – both regions with weak socio-economic resilience, extreme ecological risk and a rapidly growing population.

By reinforcing the connection between nutrition and other key priority areas, this year’s theme is further evidence of the AU’s determination to tackle development challenges through integration.

Collaboration is key

There is a powerful multiplier effect when partnerships are built to upscale successful interventions. 2022 is an opportunity for new generation partnerships and UNFPA is committed to working closely with the AU and other partners to act to achieve priorities and implement the AU’s Agenda 2063 and the UN SDGs, as detailed in the UNFPA publication ‘GOAL 17: Partnership: UNFPA’s approach for the transformation of Africa and the world’.

 Good nutrition is fundamental in securing the Africa we want. Throughout this Africa’s Year of Nutrition, the UNFPA calls on the international community to support the AU and the efforts of His Majesty King Letsie III, the AU Nutrition Champion, to invest in African solutions that eradicate food insecurity on the continent.

For more information about the UNFPA visit www.unfpa.org

Editor’s Note: Published unedited

 

 

 

 

 

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Africa

Sham Trial for Murders of UN Experts in DRC- Human Rights Watch Report

A four-year trial in the Democratic Republic of Congo failed to uncover the full truth about the 2017 murders of two United Nations investigators, Zaida Catalán and Michael Sharp, and the fate of their Congolese interpreter and motorbike drivers, Human Rights Watch said today.

Despite UN assistance, the court ignored leads pointing to the involvement of senior Congolese officials. The United Nations, United States, and Sweden should urgently open a credible international inquiry into the killings and the role of Congolese officials.

“Throughout the four-year trial, the prosecution never examined who planned and ordered the killing of the UN experts,” said Thomas Fessy, senior Congo researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The UN, US, and Sweden should acknowledge Congo’s failure to adequately investigate this crime and urgently lead a new and credible international inquiry into state responsibility for the murders.”

On January 29, 2022, a military court in Kananga sentenced to death 49 defendants, many in absentia, on various charges, including terrorism, murder, and the war crime of mutilation. An army officer Col. Jean de Dieu Mambweni was sentenced to 10 years in prison for disobeying orders. A local immigration officer, Thomas Nkashama, was among those sentenced to death. Two defendants were acquitted. Human Rights Watch has yet to be able to see the full 146-page verdict.

On March 12, 2017, unidentified assailants summarily executed Catalán, a Swede, and Sharp, an American, while they were documenting serious rights abuses and other UN sanctions violations in Kasai Central province for a UN Security Council expert panel. UN peacekeepers found their bodies two weeks later near the village of Bunkonde. Their Congolese interpreter, Betu Tshintela, is still missing as are three motorbike drivers who accompanied them, Isaac Kabuayi, Pascal Nzala, and Moise (surname unknown). The trial began in June 2017 before a military court in Kananga, the provincial capital, and a UN team, known as the Follow-on Mechanism, has been providing support and advice.

Violence tied to customary control over local chieftaincies erupted in the Kasai region in 2016. The conflict was linked to national political dynamics, with the Congolese army backing the leadership of people considered loyal to then-President Joseph Kabila and his political coalition, and some militia groups supporting those closer to the opposition. Over the course of the violence, hundreds of people were killed and over 200,000 people were displaced from their homes.

Kabila’s government initially blamed the Kamuina Nsapu militia for the murders of Catalán and Sharp, but mounting evidence has pointed to the role of high-level state officials, including through reporting by Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Reuters. A joint investigation by five international media outlets known as “Congo Files,” based on thousands of pages of leaked internal UN documents and interviews with dozens of key players, alleged that a UN team examining the murders covered up evidence suggesting that senior Congolese authorities may have been involved.

Throughout the four years of court hearings, the prosecution, assisted by the UN Follow-on Mechanism, never fully explored the participation of government authorities, continually blaming militiamen. As a result, full responsibility for the killings was not established, Human Rights Watch said.

Nearly five years on, there are still more questions than answers about those who bear ultimate responsibility for the murders of the UN investigators

On January 31, the military prosecutor, Col. Jean-Blaise Bwamulundu, announced the state’s intention to appeal the verdict given Congo’s moratorium on the death penalty, and stated that investigations would continue to ensure that others involved would be brought to justice. Human Rights Watch opposes the death penalty in all circumstances because of its inherent cruelty.

President Felix Tshisekedi previously said in meetings with Human Rights Watch, senior US officials, and others that he was committed to ensuring that the full truth was uncovered and that those most responsible for the murders were held to account. However, the trial showed that Congo’s judiciary was unable to provide real justice in this case, Human Rights Watch said.

The Kananga trial was marked by slow proceedings, and was suspended between March and October 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Out of more than 50 defendants, only a dozen were directly cited during the hearings. Some remain at large while two defendants died in detention in suspicious circumstances. At least three other defendants alleged that they were tortured by police and at the national intelligence agency headquarters. Others escaped from Kananga prison in May 2019 and have not been apprehended.

The lack of legal representation for defendants in violation of their basic right to counsel also led to numerous delays in the proceedings, while Congolese security services allegedly interfered with the investigation.

A Congolese journalist, Sosthene Kambidi, who has long investigated the violence in Kasai with international media and organizations, was arrested on September 21, 2021, and detained for three weeks over the origin of a video, he and others had obtained, that shows the execution of the two UN experts. His arrest caused a public outcry. He was never charged with a crime.

In August 2017, the UN Group of Experts on Congo, which Catalán and Sharp had served on, recommended that the Security Council mandate the secretary-general “to establish an independent international investigation” into the murders, but the call went unheeded.

On March 12, 2018, in a statement marking the one-year anniversary of the murders, Sweden’s administration said that “further international investigation may be necessary. And if so, we will call for it and work to ensure it is carried out. No stone should be left unturned in this work.” Four years later, the Swedish government should act on its statement and acknowledge the need for a new and impartial international investigation, Human Rights Watch said.

Following the verdicts, Sweden’s foreign affairs minister, Ann Linde, said it was “crucial that [an] investigation concerning others involved continue[d] to further uncover truth and bring justice.” On January 30, the US ambassador to Kinshasa, Mike Hammer, said that the investigation should continue “into all possible leads for justice to be fully served.”

“In order for the truth to emerge, all suspects, including those higher up in the hierarchy, need to be questioned, which has not yet been done,” Elizabeth Morseby, Catalán’s sister, tweeted after the verdict.

With the support of the US and Sweden, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres should use his authority to open a full-scale international investigation, pursuing leads until all avenues are exhausted, Human Rights Watch said. The US and Sweden should redouble diplomatic efforts to ensure that Congolese authorities and the UN are committed to uncovering the full truth. Congolese authorities, with UN support, should cooperate with the new investigation and ensure that the security of all witnesses and defendants is protected.

“Nearly five years on, there are still more questions than answers about those who bear ultimate responsibility for the murders of the UN investigators,” Fessy said. “The UN’s past failure, along with the US and Sweden, to investigate the deaths of Catalán and Sharp was a cynical betrayal. But this should not deter them from now conducting a credible investigation focusing on the chain of command behind the murders.”

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Oil & Gas

Buhari Appoints Okadigbo, Kyari, Others as Board and Management of NNPC Limited

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed the Board and Management of the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited, in accordance with the power vested in him under Section 59(2) of the Petroleum Industry Act 2021.

Chairman of the Board is Senator Margret Chuba Okadigbo (South East), Mele Kolo Kyari, Chief Executive Officer, and Umar I. Ajiya, Chief Financial Officer.

Other Board Members are; Dr Tajudeen Umar (North East), Mrs Lami O. Ahmed (North Central), Mallam Mohammed Lawal (North West), Engr. Henry Obih (South East), Barrister Constance Harry Marshal (South South), and Chief Pius Akinyelure(South West).

The appointments take effect from the date of the incorporation of the NNPC Limited.

The appointments take effect from the date of the incorporation of the NNPC Limited

Also appointed are Executive Commissioners of the Nigerian Upstream Petroleum Regulatory Commission. They are: Dr Nuhu Habib (Kano), Executive Commissioner, Development and Production, Dr Kelechi Onyekachi Ofoegbu (Imo), Executive Commissioner, Economic Regulations and Strategic Planning, Capt. Tonlagha Roland John (Delta), Executive Commissioner, Health, Safety, Environment and Community, and Jide Adeola (Kogi), Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services and Administration.

Earlier appointed are the Board Chairman, CEO, Executive Commissioner, Exploration and Acreage Management, and Executive Commissioner, Finance and Accounts.

New appointees at the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority are Francis Alabo Ogaree (Rivers), Executive Director, Hydrocarbon Processing, Mustapha Lamorde (Adamawa), Executive Director, Health, Safety, Environment and Community, Mansur Kuliya (Kano), Executive Director, Midstream and Downstream Gas Infrastructure Fund, Bashir Sadiq (Sokoto), Executive Director, Corporate Services and Administration, and Dr Zainab Gobir (Kwara), Executive Director, Economic Regulations and Strategic Planning.

They join the Board Chairman, Executive Director, Downstream Systems, Storage and Retailing Infrastructure, the CEO, and Executive Director, Finance and Accounts, who had earlier been appointed.

For Midstream and Downstream Infrastructure Fund, new Council Members are; Mr Effiong Abia (Akwa Ibom), Bobboi Ahmed (Adamawa), and Engr. Abdullahi Bukar (Katsina).

It will be recalled that President Buhari had last September written the Senate on the administrative structure amendments to the Petroleum Industry Act, which included appointment of Non-Executive Board Members, removal of the Ministries of Petroleum and Finance from the Board of the two new institutions, and appointment of Executive Directors.

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