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World population hits eight billion- Report

The United Nations says the world’s population is projected to reach the eight billion mark on Tuesday.

The projection came in a UN report released in July, which said much of the growth expected between now and 2050 is coming from just eight countries.

A boy takes in a view of the Los Angeles skyline from the Griffith Park Observatory Trails Peak, California, US [Jae C Hong/AP Photo]
A boy takes in a view of the Los Angeles skyline from the Griffith Park Observatory Trails Peak, California, US [Jae C Hong/AP Photo]
Half of those are in sub-Saharan Africa: Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Tanzania. The UN said populations in that region are growing at 2.5 percent, more than three times the global average.

Still, experts said the bigger threat to the environment is consumption, which is highest in developed countries not undergoing big population increases. The report also said that India is expected to overtake China next year as the world’s most populous country.

The upward trend threatens to leave even more people in developing countries further behind, as governments struggle to provide enough classrooms and jobs for a rapidly growing number of youths, and food insecurity becomes an even more urgent problem.

It is projected that the world’s population will reach approximately 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100. Other countries rounding out the list with the fastest-growing populations are Egypt, Pakistan, the Philippines, and India.

 

Rapid population growth also means more people vying for scarce water resources, and it leaves more families facing hunger as climate change increasingly affects crop production in many parts of the world.

The population growth in sub-Saharan Africa can be attributed to people living longer, but family size remains the driving factor. Women in sub-Saharan Africa on average have 4.6 births, twice the current global average of 2.3.

At the same time, a small portion of the world’s population uses most of the resources and produces most of the greenhouse-gas emissions, said Poonam Muttreja, executive director of the Population Foundation of India.

“Over the past 25 years, the richest 10 percent of the global population has been responsible for more than half of all carbon emissions,” Muttreja said.

Charles Kenny, a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development in Washington, said environmental concerns surrounding the eight billion mark should focus on consumption, particularly in developed countries.

“Population is not the problem, the way we consume is the problem – let’s change our consumption patterns,” he said.

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AU Chairman Macky Sall to attend G20 summit – officials

African Union Chairman and Senegal President Macky Sall plan to attend an upcoming G20 summit in Bali, two government officials said on Friday, as Africa looks to hold wealthier nations to account for their climate pledges.

The visit, his first to a G20 summit, will follow his attendance at the COP27 UN climate meeting in Egypt where he was one of the leading advocates for rich countries to contribute more cash to help Africa adapt to climate change.

The summit in Bali takes place on Nov. 15-16, overlapping the second week of the COP27 conference.

Sall would have “two hats” at the meeting, representing both the African Union and Senegal, one of the officials said.

Senegal is in discussions with G20 members about a deal to support its transition to low-carbon energy.

The so-called Just Energy Transition Partnerships (JETP) was pioneered by South Africa’s deal last year with countries including the United States, Britain, Germany and France providing funding to speed up its transition away from coal power.

One of the items he will want to discuss with G20 members is the Senegal JETP which was being negotiated at COP27, the official said.

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COP27: Wind power can deliver a sustainable future for Africa- Report

We are in the middle of a global energy crisis and a climate change emergency. It is, therefore, more pressing than ever to seriously commit to action plans that will avoid the long-term lock-in of fossil fuel-based energy generation. Instead, greater focus should be placed on increasing renewable contributions within the global energy mix.

This is particularly important for Africa has been more severely hit by climate-change-related events than other regions, and where 43% of the total population lack access to electricity, most of them in sub‐Saharan Africa. The continent is rich in renewable energy sources, particularly solar and wind, and decreasing costs are bringing renewables increasingly within reach, making energy independence achievable.

To attain a successful and just energy transition there needs to be an acceleration of the implementation process. This can happen if partnerships between public stakeholders, and public and private together, are further strengthened, and if steps are taken to safeguard the wind industry supply chain, among other proactive actions. If this is prioritized, then there should be sufficient capacity to help the continent achieve its climate pledges through the implementation of sustainable, renewable green energy.

Climate change is putting Africa’s energy systems at risk of disruption

According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) Africa Energy Outlook 2022, “three-fifths of the continent’s thermal power plants are at high, or very high risk of disruption by water stress, and one-sixth of its liquefied natural gas (LNG) capacity is vulnerable to coastal flooding.” To ensure greater resilience there will need to be a significant investment in climate adaptation.

To mitigate the ongoing volatility in the supply and cost of fossil-fuel energy, and the dangers of accelerating climate change, African governments must focus on scaling up higher volumes of renewable energy – in particular wind power — as part of their sustainable energy mixes.

The photo-shoot shows different wind farms: KFW, JICA, FIEM, and BOO Ras Ghareb
The photo-shoot shows different wind farms: KFW, JICA, FIEM, and BOO Ras Ghareb

The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) energy progress report of 2021 estimates that 75% of the world’s population without access to electricity is based in Sub-Saharan Africa. It states that to achieve sustainable development goal (SDG) 7.1 — universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services — Sub-Saharan Africa alone will need to connect approximately 85 million people each year through 2030.

Africa currently accounts for less than 3% of the world’s energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and it experiences a disproportionate number of negative effects of climate change. According to the IEA, by 2050, North Africa is facing a rise in median temperature of 2.7 degrees Celsius in comparison with the global average rise of 2 degrees Celsius. If not addressed, this could result is a reduction of African gross domestic product (GDP) by around 8 percent in 2050. In East Africa, this figure would be closer to 15 percent.

Wind power as a driver of socio-economic growth in Africa

By increasing renewable energy production targets, national economies stand to benefit from the growing demand for people to work in the green sectors thereby addressing the continent’s unemployment challenges. Nations can also expect augmented investment because of a more stable energy grid and due to cost savings realised by a more competitive energy mix.

The wind industry is of strategic importance. It can provide the world with energy security and independence through domestic, clean, and competitive sources. As different countries consider increasing the percentage of renewable energy in their energy mix, they can take insights from the lessons already learned in Africa and Europe. They can also see the tangible positive impact the wind industry has already had across both continents. These can be studied, and relevant insights applied within their specific environment.

The wind industry started in Northern Europe and Spain in the 1980s, and since then, has burgeoned across the continent. Today, the European Union’s wind energy sector has a significant impact on the EU’s economy, supporting more than 300,000 jobs, contributing €37 billion to the EU’s GDP, and generating €5 billion in local taxes every year. In fact, with each new wind turbine installed in Europe, a further €10 million of economic activity is added.

Progress is also being made across the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, recording in 2021 its best year ever in wind power installations. According to the Global Wind Energy Council, over the next five years (2022 – 2026), MEA is expected to add a total of 14 GW of new wind capacity, primarily driven by growth from South Africa (5.4 GW), Egypt (2.2 GW), Morocco (1.8 GW), and Saudi Arabia (1.3 GW).

IRENA’s modeling reveals that when accompanied by the right policies, shifting towards a renewable energy system could lead to a 6.4% higher GDP, 3.5% more economy-wide jobs, and a 25.4% higher welfare index throughout the outlook period of 2020 to 2050.

Partnerships must drive Africa’s energy transition

Although blessed with abundant renewable sources, like wind and solar, as well as land availability, Africa is only tapping into 0.01% of its wind power potential. Unlocking the potential of wind and solar will also trigger the development of green hydrogen projects in the continent. This will enable the transferring of the benefits of renewables beyond the electricity sector, to achieve a fully decarbonized economy, while enabling energy export capacities.

Uncertainty on wind-enabling frameworks is jeopardizing the full potential that wind can play in accelerating the energy transition while providing clean and competitive energy security. Partnerships, both among public stakeholders as well as between the public and the private sector, can create stability and strengthen the wind energy sector and allow it to contribute to climate crisis mitigation efforts, continue innovating, and provide energy security across the continent.

According to the IEA Africa Energy Outlook report, “Achieving full access to modern energy in Africa by 2030 would require an investment of USD 25 billion per year – equal to around a quarter of total energy investment in Africa prior to the pandemic – but just slightly above 1% of total energy investment globally and comparable to the cost of just one large LNG terminal investment. Almost half of this investment would be in just five countries – DRC, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Uganda.”

When you consider that 46 of Africa’s 54 countries are classed as low-income or lower-middle-income according to the World Bank, it makes sense that for a successful transition to renewable energy to occur, partnerships are the most feasible way forward, as it would be difficult for governments, or the private sector to bear these costs alone.  The role of power pools in Africa and, thus, the collaboration between countries and regions, is essential to unleashing the full potential that wind can bring to combat climate change and bring prosperity based on a decarbonized economy. These partnerships can pave the way for a just energy transition enabling people coming from fossil-fuel-based energy sectors to be re-skilled and secure their rights and livelihoods in the shift to sustainable energy production.

While ambitious global political targets have been set, there is a significant mismatch between stated targets and actual wind capacity installation figures which are substantially lower. By accelerating the approval of wind power plant permits, governments could close the gap between the targets and actual production, improving energy independence and geopolitical stability, while alleviating the pressure that the wind supply chain suffers from due to a lack of projects.

Partnerships between governments and the wind industry are crucial in our fight against the climate crisis. To succeed in a just energy transition, governments must continue to attract international investment, and for that, they need to deliver visible project pipelines for wind energy installations, especially in the MEA region. This means investors require stable and predictable frameworks and a clear implementation pace so that manufacturers and suppliers can load existing factories and plan in advance for new capacities.

This would create greater stability in the industry and increase its ability to hire and upskill teams. While there will be challenges to overcome to ensure a just energy transition, wind power has the distinct ability to deliver sustainably for both people and the planet. By focusing on the development of cohesive and inclusive policies, streamlining permitting schemes, fostering multilateral renewable energy partnerships and trade agreements, and investing in the acceleration of renewable electricity grid construction, African governments can move closer to achieving more than just SDG7. In doing so, they could reap the socio-economic benefits that wind energy offers, while increasing their country’s energy security, and contributing to global efforts to combat climate change.

The COP27 Climate Change Conference taking place in Egypt in November 2022 provides a golden opportunity for global leaders to collaborate on workable solutions that will drive important climate change mitigation. The time to act is now.

 

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OPINION: Why climate cash could make or break COP27 By Mohamed Adow

International climate change conferences are weighty enterprises — they must stand on solid pillars of action, not just warm words and hot air. Starting on Sunday, the United Nations climate meeting in Egypt, COP27, will be no different. And no pillar is more important for Africa than international climate finance.

This year’s meeting of world leaders has been christened the “Africa COP”, not because the continent is playing host, but because it is increasingly taking many of the biggest hits from the effects of climate change while having done the least to cause the crisis. Africa emits only about three percent of global carbon dioxide emissions. This year we need to see African priorities at the heart of global negotiations.

Previous pledges by developed countries, the biggest carbon emitters, to channel $100bn a year by 2020 towards helping vulnerable nations adapt to climate change have gone unfulfilled.

Yet, even if rich countries were meeting their commitments, that wouldn’t be nearly enough. Africa alone faces a climate-financing gap of about $108bn each year, according to the African Development Bank, amid growing economic shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. Rich nations need to step up further.

But here’s the biggest problem: The very structure of global climate finance currently is loaded against countries that need the most help. Polluters are rewarded. Meanwhile, the more vulnerable a country is, the less support it is likely to receive.

The dirty truth of climate finance

Most financial support is promised in the form of loans, shackling some of the world’s poorest countries with crippling debt. According to new research by Oxfam, Senegal, which is among the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, has so far received 85 percent of its climate finance in the form of debt. This – is even though the West African nation is at moderate risk of falling into debt distress and has debt amounting to 62 percent of its gross national income.

Oxfam says loans constitute more than 70 percent ($48.6bn) of public climate finance. How can it be fair that countries that have done almost nothing to cause the climate crisis are being pushed into debt in order to adapt to it?

If that’s the state of public finance, things are even worse with the private sector. Private funding decisions are still influenced by perceptions that view poor and vulnerable countries as risky investment destinations. As a consequence, Africa receives less than 4 percent of private climate finance even though many of its nations are on the front line of the crisis.

It’s also very difficult to attract climate finance that enables leapfrogging to renewable energy projects in Africa. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), Africa has received only 2 percent of global renewable energy investments over the past two decades.

Africa’s burden

This current structure of climate finance is self-defeating, in its failure to help those that need assistance the most. It is also deeply unfair, as Africa knows only too well.

Besides having a smaller carbon footprint than other continents, Africa also absorbs global emissions, through ‘carbon sinks’ such as the Congo Basin — the world’s second-largest tropical rainforest after the Amazon.

Yet, the continent is highly dependent on climate-vulnerable operations such as agriculture, hydropower production and tourism, exposing it to disruptions from extreme weather events, including worsening droughts and floods — all apart from environmental degradation.

In early October, African ministers gathered in Kinshasa for negotiations ahead of the COP27 summit. They, as well as UN officials, called out the broken promises on finance at the meeting. UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said: “The finance currently available is a pittance with respect to the magnitude of disasters vulnerable nations and people are facing and will face.”

What COP27 needs

At last year’s COP26 in Glasgow, climate finance was a muted issue; not because it wasn’t raised, but because rich economies like the United States and the European Union conveniently turned a blind eye to it. That is unacceptable.

The COP27 conference should rest on the pillar of climate finance, among other strategic areas. And this time, rich nations should be legally bound to follow through on their pledges. This shouldn’t be viewed as a favour from the polluters; it’s what they owe the rest of the world.

International climate finance initiatives that COP27 agrees to must span funding support to help poorer and vulnerable nations mitigate the effects of climate change and adapt to them. They must also cover the third key component of climate finance — addressing losses and damages caused by the crisis.

To this end, COP27 should set out to establish a financing facility focused on loss and damage, and swiftly take steps to operationalize it. Further, a consensus is needed in making this finance grant-based to avoid piling a debt burden on African countries.

Reasons for hope

Despite the odds, there is a growing appetite for financing and investing in African climate projects. Big-ticket green projects have been built in recent years, and many more are taking shape.

In East Africa, Kenya is focusing on geothermal development and recently set up the 310MW Lake Turkana Wind Power project, which helped offset 0.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions in its first year of operation – that’s more than 4 percent of Kenya’s total annual emissions. The country has also committed to transitioning entirely to renewable energy by 2030. Ethiopia is in the process of developing its own geothermal resources.

In the north, Morocco recently started operating the first phase of Noor II, a mega solar project with a capacity in excess of 300MW.

A sustainable switch to a green global economy would, in addition to producing clean energy, also create new jobs while offering fallback options to those whose jobs disappear in this transition.

Yet increased funding and investments are still hampered by a negative perception of risk among investors, underdeveloped green finance markets — and most of all, by the very model of climate finance that punishes the nations most exposed to climate change.

This must change. Climate finance must be a central conversation at COP27. It’s time that this support reaches those who actually need it the most now — so we can build a better tomorrow for all of us.

 

 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect African  Development Magazine’s editorial stance.

 

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UPDATE: Over 100 dead, 300 injured in Somalia twin bombings

At least 100 people were confirmed dead and more than 300 injured in twin car bombings that hit the Somali capital Mogadishu on Saturday, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud confirmed Sunday.

“So far, the number of people who died has reached 100 and 300 are wounded, and the number for both the dead and wounded continues to increase,” he said after visiting the blast location.

Two cars packed with explosives blew up minutes apart near the busy Zobe intersection, followed by gunfire in an attack targeting Somalia’s Education Ministry.

The afternoon explosions tore through walls, and shattered windows of nearby buildings, sending shrapnel flying and plumes of smoke and dust into the air.

The victims included women, children, and the elderly, police spokesman Sadik Dudishe said.

READ ALSO: https://africandevmag.net/2022/10/30/insecurity-journalist-media-officers-other-killed-in-somalia-double-bombing/

“The ruthless terrorists killed mothers. Some of them died with their children trapped on their backs,” he said Saturday, adding that the attackers had been stopped from killing more “innocent civilians and students.”

The attack took place at the same busy junction where a truck packed with explosives blew up on Oct. 14, 2017, killing 512 people and injuring more than 290, the deadliest attack in the troubled country.

Mohamud described the incident as “historic,” saying “it is the same place, and the same innocent people involved.”

“This is not right. God willing, they will not be having an ability to do another Zobe incident,” he said, referring to the terrorist group al-Shabab.

Al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying its fighters were targeting the ministry of education.

The bloody siege drew international condemnation from Somalia’s allies, including the United Nations, Turkey as well as the African Union force tasked with helping Somali forces take over primary responsibility for security by the end of 2024.

The U.N. mission in Somalia UNSOM vowed to stand “resolutely with all Somalis against terrorism.”

“These attacks underline the urgency and critical importance of the ongoing military offensive to further degrade al-Shabab,” the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), which replaced the previous AMISOM peacekeeping force, said on Twitter late Saturday.

 

Residents walk among debris from a destroyed building, Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 30, 2022. (AFP Photo)
Residents carry the body of a victim of the twin bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 30, 2022. (AFP Photo)

‘All-out war

Al-Shabab has been seeking to overthrow the fragile foreign-backed government in Mogadishu for about 15 years.

Its fighters were driven out of the capital in 2011 by an African Union force but the group still controls swathes of the countryside and continues to wage deadly strikes on civilian and military targets.

In August, the group launched a 30-hour gun and bomb attack on the popular Hayat hotel in Mogadishu, killing 21 people and wounding 117.

Mohamud, who was elected in May, vowed after the August siege to wage “all-out war” on the terrorists.

In September, he urged citizens to stay away from areas controlled by terrorists, saying the armed forces and tribal militia were ratcheting up offensives against them.

Al-Shabab remains a potent force despite multinational efforts to degrade its leadership.

The group last week claimed responsibility for an attack on a hotel in the port city of Kismayo that killed nine people and wounded 47 others.

Somalia has been mired in chaos since the fall of president Siad Barre’s military regime in 1991.

His ouster was followed by a civil war and the ascendancy of al-Shabab.

As well as the insurgency, Somalia – like its neighbors in the Horn of Africa – is in the grip of the worst drought in more than 40 years. Four failed rainy seasons have wiped out livestock and crops.

The conflict-wracked nation is considered one of the most vulnerable to climate change but is particularly ill-equipped to cope with the crisis as it battles the deadly terrorist insurgency.

Türkiye condemns ‘heinous’ attacks

Türkiye earlier Saturday strongly condemned the “heinous” terrorist attacks.

“We are deeply saddened to learn that many people lost their lives and were injured in the terrorist attacks that took place today (29 October) in Mogadishu, Somalia,” the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

The ministry extended condolences to “the relatives as well as to the friendly and brotherly people” and its government and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.

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South Africa, Nigeria announce extra security measures

The police and armed forces in South Africa announced on Friday that security would be reinforced this weekend following an alert launched by the US embassy in Pretoria last Wednesday.

The alert warned of a possible attack this Saturday in a suburb north of Johannesburg.

South Africa hosts four major events this weekend including the coronation of King MisuZulu Zulu in Durban, an event attended by President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Johannesburg hosts a gay pride event, there is also a rugby match in Pretoria and a football derby in Soweto.

Nigeria’s capital, Abuja,is also under a security alert. Since Sunday that the embassies of the United States, Britain, Australia and Canada have been alerting to the “high” probability of an attack in the capital.

On Friday, the Nigerian government said it had beefed up security and called for the public to remain vigilant but calm.

Government troops are fighting jihadist insurgents mostly in the northeast, though there are small cells in other parts of the country.

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DRC, Nigeria migrants clash in overcrowded reception centre in Cyprus

Cypriot police fired tear gas Friday after a fire broke out in an overcrowded migrant reception centre amid clashes sparked by an argument between different nationalities, officers said.

One person needed hospital treatment after being injured at the Pournara camp for migrants, on the edge of the capital Nicosia.

People hurled rocks and objects at each other, forcing many to flee in panic, and firefighters rushed to extinguish a blaze that sent billowing smoke into the sky. Tensions later “calmed”, police said.

“Police are doing everything possible to protect the area and those residing in the camp,” said Papatheodorou.

Cypriot news outlet Philenews said clashes broke between asylum seekers from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Nigeria, two of the largest migrant groups in Cyprus.

European Union member Cyprus says it is on the frontline of the bloc’s irregular migration flows, and last year reported the highest number of asylum applicants per population.

The small EU state has lobbied Brussels to take action over the “disproportionate” numbers of asylum seekers it receives.

New asylum applications multiplied to over 13,000 last year in Greek Cypriot-administered southern Cyprus, with its population of 850,000.

In March, a report by the Cypriot children’s rights commissioner described chronic overcrowding, woeful bathroom facilities and reports of meagre food rations in the Pournara camp, prompting officials to vow to work to improve conditions.

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INSECURITY: Journalist ,Media Officers, Others Killed in Somalia Double-Bombing

A journalist was among those killed, and media workers and first responders were injured in a double car bombing Saturday in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.

The dual car bomb blasts took place near the Ministry of Education and targeted the busy Zobe intersection in Mogadishu. The second blast detonated as first responders and local media arrived on the scene.

Somali police spokesperson Sadiq Dodishe said, “scores of people were killed in the attack.”

He said they could not immediately determine the number of fatalities or how many people had been injured in both blasts. Dodishe said they will share that information with the media as soon as an ongoing assessment concludes.

Multiple witnesses who spoke with VOA put the death toll as high as 20.

Witnesses say the first car bomb detonated at the checkpoint of the Ministry of Education.

The second blast occurred within minutes as people who rushed to help the wounded gathered, and ambulances arrived to transport the victims, one witness, who owns a shop nearby, told VOA on the condition of anonymity.

A police officer, who spoke to VOA on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said there are massive casualties from the attack, but it is too early to say how many have been killed or injured.

He confirmed that a local journalist, Mohamed Isse Konan, who worked for Universal TV, was among those killed.

The journalist’s station confirmed the death in a post to its Facebook page Saturday.

At least two journalists were injured, including Abdulkadir Mohamed Abdulle, a freelancer who works with VOA’s Somali Service, and Reuters photojournalist Feisal Omar, according to Abdulle’s colleagues and the Somali Journalists’ Syndicate.

One of Abdulle’s relatives told VOA the journalist was hit in the abdomen by shrapnel and sustained other injuries, including the loss of at least two fingers, but that his condition is stable.

THE SJS said on Twitter that Omar is having emergency surgery to remove shrapnel from his chest and stomach.

Abdulle had previously survived a 2017 bombing in Mogadishu, the statement by SJS said.

VOA Acting Director Yolanda Lopez said Saturday she was “devastated” to learn that one of the broadcaster’s freelance journalists had been injured, and she condemned acts of violence that “endanger the lives of VOA reporters while covering news events.”

“The bravery and courage of our journalists – and their dedication that takes them wherever the story leads them – often means that they put themselves in harm’s way,” Lopez said in a statement. “We will continue to closely monitor the situation there on the ground and will provide support to our colleague as he recovers from his injuries.”

People react as they walk near one of the blast sites in Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 28, 2022. (Mohamed Dhaysane/VOA)
People react as they walk near one of the blast sites in Mogadishu, Somalia, Oct. 28, 2022. (Mohamed Dhaysane/VOA)
Abdulkadir Abdirahman, founder of the Aamin Ambulance Service said that two of his staff were injured in the second blast. “A driver and a first aid worker had been injured in the second blast as they arrived to transport the wounded.”

“It was a deafening and huge blast that sent plumes of smoke into the sky. The walls of the ministry building, and several other surrounding buildings [were] destroyed,” eyewitness Cabdullahi Osman, a driver of a three-wheeled motorized taxi, told VOA.

Briefing the media about the attack, a police spokesperson said the security forces foiled the attackers’ plan to enter the building.

“The purpose of the attack was to target and destroy an educational center that was serving Somali students, but the brave national army, who were tipped about the terrorist plot, prevented it,” he said.

The al-Qaida-affiliated Islamist group al-Shabab claimed responsibility for the deadly attack and said it had struck one of the Somali government ministries in Mogadishu.

Police spokesperson Dodishe told a news conference in Mogadishu that the terrorist group targeted civilians, including women, children and the elderly.

He said the cowardly terrorists targeted civilians with bomb blasts and they killed mothers with babies on their backs. He said that reveals the heinous action of the terrorists.

The Somali Journalist Syndicate called for those responsible to be “held accountable.”

“Today we are shocked and outraged by this heinous attack that killed our colleague,” said SJS President Mohamed Ibrahim in a statement.

Koona, 29, is the second journalist killed so far in Somalia this year, the SJS said. It added that the prominent journalist left behind his wife and young son.

Somalia is considered the most dangerous county for media in Africa, according to media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. Al-Shabab is the main killer of journalists in the country, with more than 50 killed since 2010, the RSF says.

Later Saturday, Amanda Bennett, CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM), said in a statement: “The entire USAGM family is terribly distressed to learn that our VOA Somali reporter was injured in the explosion in Mogadishu earlier today. This is the second time he has suffered injuries while working for VOA’s Somali service, as the first time was back in another deadly blast in that city in October 2017 when I was VOA Director.

“I remain so proud and inspired by the bravery of journalists like our Somali colleague who is fearless in the face of danger as they continue to bring critically important stories to their audiences. All of us at USAGM are hoping for a full and speedy recovery,” Bennett said. USAGM is VOA’s parent agency.

A five-day national conference on combating violent extremism concluded Saturday in Mogadishu. Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre, regional leaders and religious scholars attended the closing ceremony of the conference.

The Somali president recently announced a “total war” against al-Shabab militants. At the closing ceremony, he said that everyone who pays money to al-Shabab knows they are responsible for every explosion, every bullet fired and for all the destruction of every water well.

Prime Minister Barre said al-Shabab misrepresents the Islamic religion and praised religious scholars’ efforts to overcome the deadly al-Shabab ideology.

After the conference, Somali religious scholars issued a communique that called out al-Shabab and denounced their ideology. The scholars announced it is forbidden in Islam to pay money to al-Shabab.

Somalia has been grappling with security threats for years, with al-Shabab being one of the main threats in the Horn of Africa nation.

Since at least 2007, al-Shabaab has waged a deadly campaign against the Somali government and international forces that has claimed thousands of lives.

 

*VOA

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ENTERTAINMENT: Chinese film festival opens in Kenya with 14 films waiting to meet local audience

The 2022 Chinese film festival opened in Kenya on Thursday with a view to boosting Sino-Africa cooperation and cultural exchanges.

Ababu Namwamba, newly appointed Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and Arts said in a speech read on his behalf by Michael Pundo, CEO of Kenya Cultural Center that the film festival is a platform for filmmakers from the two countries to exchange ideas and enhance the viewership of Chinese films by the Kenyan audience.

“It is also a concrete action to actively implement the cultural and people-to-people exchange program under the nine plans of the Eighth Ministerial Conference of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) that was held in 2021,” Pundo said.

The film festival was jointly organized by the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, the Kenya Cultural Center, and the Chinese Confucius Institute in Kenya. According to the organizers, 14 Chinese films, 12 of which have been translated into Swahili will be screened to local audiences over the next month.

Friendship and goodwill between people provide an avenue for the growth of strong bilateral relations

Pundo revealed that the collaboration to host the Chinese film festival reinforces Kenya’s commitment to improving cultural and artistic exchanges in various forms and promoting outstanding cultural and artistic products.

He said that Kenya and China have strong bilateral relations which are underpinned by strong pillars such as cooperation and exchanges in the film industry.

Pundo noted the continued partnership between Kenya and China in the film industry has seen Kenya become part of the Silk Road International League of Theaters.

Zhou Pingjian, Chinese Ambassador to Kenya said that the exhibition of Chinese films in Kenya as well as Kenyan films in China will promote the understanding and communication between the two peoples.

Zhou noted that the key to close relations between different countries is a cordial collaboration between the people of the countries.

“Friendship and goodwill between people provide an avenue for the growth of strong bilateral relations,” he added.

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Malawians Protest Over High Cost of Living, Alleged Corruption

In Malawi, protesters and opposition supporters chanted and marched Thursday in the commercial capital, Blantyre, to protest the high cost of living and alleged corruption.

The demonstrators presented a petition to the office of President Lazarus Chakwera.

Joshua Chisa Mbele, leader of Action Against Impunity, a network of civil rights organizations behind the protest, accused the government of mishandling money Malawi received to fight COVID-19, among other alleged transgressions.

Social media influencer Joshua Chisa Mbele leads the protests in Blantyre, Malawi. (Lameck Masina/VOA)
Social media influencer Joshua Chisa Mbele leads the protests in Blantyre, Malawi. (Lameck Masina/VOA)
“We are tired of a government that is stealing day and night,” he said. “We have lost so many resources for the past two years. We lost the COVID money and we cannot take it anymore. We are saying that they should leave the office and go home.”

Mbele also said Chakwera has failed to fulfill promises he made during his campaign two years ago, when he vowed to ensure food security to all Malawians and create one million jobs in the country once he was in power.

There was no immediate comment from the government on the concerns raised by the protesters.

Earlier this week, Chakwera fired Minister of Agriculture Robin Lowe and his deputy Madalitso Kambauwa Wirima over what the president called “incompetence and gross negligence.”

The president blamed the two for facilitating a fertilizer procurement deal that saw Malawi’s government lose about $725,000 to a British company that failed to supply the commodity.

The issue was among those listed as grounds for Thursday’s demonstration. Malawi’s opposition parties supported the protest, saying it was justified.

Protester Rebecca Mwale said the situation in the country was growing worse, with food prices unreasonably high and medicines in short supply.

Mbele said he hopes Chakwera responds to the concerns once he sees the protesters’ petition, which was presented to his office.

“In the petition, we are saying that we want to see action. We have heard enough, we have spoken enough, and we want to see action. We want Chakwera to show leadership. We want him to take action so that we preserve what is remaining as people’s assets,” Mbele said.

Similar protests are expected Friday in Malawi’s capital, Lilongwe, where protesters plan to march to the state house to present a petition directly to Chakwera.

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