Africa In Focus

Africa In Focus: "The mainstream thinking now is that Africa is different and we could get it right if we want. The choice is fully ours, and it is now time for us to define what we want."

African Development Bank (AFDB) President, Dr. Donald Kaberuka.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

UNICEF: Ending Violence Against Children By Translating Data Into Action

A meeting scheduled to be organized by the Government of the Kingdom of Swaziland, UNICEF and the Together for Girls partnership, with support from the U.S government, will proffer ways in which health advocates can translate data on violence against boys and girls into concrete measures to stop it.
The theme of this year's meeting is: ‘From research to action: Advancing prevention and response to violence against children.’ 
The meeting which will be held in the capital of Swaziland, 28-30 May 2014 will bring together ey government and civil society representatives from 20 countries as well as experts from multiple sectors working on the topics of social protection and violence prevention and response.
The participating countries, mostly from Africa but also Asia and the Caribbean, are already testing and implementing strategies to prevent and respond to violence against children with support from Together for Girls’ partners, including UNICEF and the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, a report said. 
Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Swaziland, Senator Paul Dlamini said:  “Violence against children not only violates the rights of children but also brings long-term pain to the victims and their families thereby undermining their potential for national development.”
According to a national survey spearheaded by the Government of Swaziland spearheaded in partnership with UNICEF and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on adolescent girls’ experience of sexual violence, a number of negative short- and long-term consequences, from increased risk for HIV infections and unwanted pregnancies to alcohol abuse and suicide were identified as some of the negative effects endured by the victims who have been abused.
To date, nine countries have undertaken national surveys and are in various stages of implementing a response. Seven other countries are making preparations to begin the process. In sub-Saharan Africa, the surveys have found about 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys experienced sexual violence and more than half of both boys and girls experienced physical violence prior to age 18.
 “Violence against children is not only a severe human rights violation; it’s also a public health issue of vast proportions... It’s an underlying driver of many of the world’s most intractable health problems, which has not been widely understood,” said Gary Cohen, Together for Girls Founder and Executive Vice President at BD (Becton, Dickinson and Company). 
UNICEF’s Chief of Child Protection, Susan Bissell however said  “To end the global problem of violence against children, we need to know more about where it is occurring and why — and then use that data to change minds and behaviours, and to drive action by governments and communities themselves.”
 “Every child has the right to live free from violence and abuse, and every one of us has a responsibility to help children everywhere to realize that right,” she concluded.

Women Scores Big 2014 African Banker Awards

Three Africa Women Bankers triumphed at the recently organised 2014 African Banker Awards in Kigali, Rwanda. These amazons are Vivienne Yeda, Linah Mohohlo and Elizabeth Mary Oleko.

While Vivienne Yeda, Director General of the East African Development Bank, scooped the much-coveted award for African Banker of the Year, Botswana’s Linah Mohohlo clinched the Central Bank Governor of the Year and Elizabeth Mary Oleko, the chairperson of the Kenya Women Finance Trust rounded up a strong performance for women bankers with the Lifetime Achievement Award.

The list of other Winners and their award are stated below:

Special Recognition Award
HE President Paul Kagame
African Bank of the Year
African Banker Icon
Andrew Alli, CEO, Africa Finance Corporation
Finance Minister of the Year
Hon Armando Manuel
Investment Bank of the Year
Rand Merchant Bank
Award for Innovation in Banking
Socially Responsible Bank of the Year
Award for Financial Inclusion
Deal of the Year – Equity
Atlas Mara Co-Nvest
Citigroup Global Markets
Deal of the Year – Debt
Financing Facility, Dangote Group Petrochemical Plant
Standard Chartered Bank
Fund of the Year
Investec Asset Management
Best Retail Bank in Africa
State Bank Mauritius
Best Islamic Finance Initiative
Banque Islamique de Mauritanie
Best Bank in North Africa
Banque Centrale Populaire
Best Bank in Southern Africa
Stanbic Zimbabwe
Best Bank in East Africa
Bank of Kigali
Best Bank in West Africa
Ecobank Mali
Best Bank in Central Africa
Trust Merchant Bank
Mortgage Bank of the Year
Nigerian Mortgage Refinance Company

The African Banker Awards are organised by African Banker magazine and BusinessinAfrica Events (BIAE) to celebrate individual and institution excellence and best practices in African banking and finance.

Monday, 12 May 2014

30 Things You Need To Know About Abortion And Maternal Death In Nigeria


Note: According to WHO, abortion is defined as the discontinuation of a pregnancy before the attainment of viability, while unsafe abortion is defined as a procedure for terminating unwanted pregnancy either by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment lacking the minimal medical standards or both.

1.    Abortion is a highly emotional and controversial issue in Nigeria.
2.    In Nigeria, abortion is restricted and only permitted to save the life of the mother.
3.    Nigeria has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. (Maternal death/mortality is the death of a woman while pregnant or within 42 days of termination of pregnancy, irrespective of the duration and the site of the pregnancy, from any cause related to or aggravated by the pregnancy or its management but not from accidental or incidental causes).
4.    The recent WHO Statistics, Nigeria (and India) accounts for 1/3 of the global maternal mortality death.
5.    At least 760,000 abortions occur in Nigeria annually, mostly outside legal parameters.
6.    In 2010, Dr Obasanjo-Bello, chairman of the Nigerian Senate committee on health said Nigerian women have about 500,000 abortions every year. Guttmacher institute claims the number is as high as 610,000.
7.    From 3,000 to 34,000 women die yearly from unsafe abortion in Nigeria.
8.    Most abortion providers in Nigeria are poorly trained and the market is largely unregulated because of the country’s restrictive law.
9.    Victims of unwanted pregnancy seek clandestine (unsafe) abortion mostly because abortion is restricted in Nigeria.
10. Poverty and traditional beliefs often drive women to seek quackery abortion services in Nigeria – leading to high mortality rate in Nigeria.
11. Only half (1/2) of young Nigerian women surveyed in a 2005 study had heard of contraception.
12. Lack of access to contraceptive and safe abortion services leads women in urban and rural areas in Nigeria to give birth to unwanted children.
13. While 2/3 had had sex, only 11 percent of the surveyed Nigerian women had used contraceptive (and this is prevalent among its young people).
14. For every 1 young girl that has died as a result of unsafe abortion, 20 others are impaired for life.
15. One in four women (25%) having abortions experience serious complications and only 9% (about one third of those with complications) seek treatment.
16. Complications of unsafe abortion are often life threatening.
17. Restrictive abortion legislation in Nigeria has been identified as one of the major factors of its high mortality death rate and this has continued to endanger the lives of women.
18. Abortion law in Nigeria is restrictive and therefore, does not conform to fundamental human rights (see Penal Code: 232, 233).
19. In Nigeria, abortion is legally restricted and carries a legal penalty of up to 14 years imprisonment for both the provider and the patient.
20.  Nigeria’s abortion law does not make provision in the case of rape, incest, and other form of sexual abuse.
21. Of the 36 states in Nigeria, only Imo state has permitted abortion in cases of rape, incest or mental/physical health consequences for the mother.
22. Abortion legislation remains controversial because of the country’s culture and religiosity. In 2012, Nigeria was identified as the second most religious country in the world by Gallup Poll).  
23. Despite restrictive legislative law on abortion in Nigeria, abortion takes place anywhere, everywhere in Nigeria and mostly by quacks – contributing to the risk of women reproductive health.
24. To reduce maternal mortality rate in Nigeria which is caused largely by unsafe abortions, the Women's Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) and Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA) with support from the Department For International Development (DFID) has amalgamated 9 different Bills to create the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Bill (VAPP Bill). The Bill is currently awaiting approval of the Senate for it to be passed into law.
25. When the VAPP Bill is passed into law, it may help to reduce maternal deaths arising from sexual violence.


5 Truths You Should Know About Abortion:

1.    Abortion is a completely preventable cause of maternal suffering & death
2.    The cheapest procedure for unsafe abortion is the deadliest and many people opt for the cheapest.
3.    The burden is heavy but it has been lifted in many developed countries.
4.    Access to contraceptive can lower high mortality rate.
5.    Less restrictive laws can lower mortality rate by 70 percent –prevent unnecessary deaths, unsafe abortion and HIV/AIDs.

“The more restrictive legislation on abortion (is) the more likely abortion (is) to be unsafe and to result in death.”- (WHO).

Heineken’s Role On Sustainable Agriculture In Africa

By Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board & CEO, Heineken (co-chair of the World Economic Forum on Africa 2014.)

Sustainable commercial agricultural production is vital to the health and well-being of Africa’s economy and people. Smallholder farming accounts for the majority of African agricultural production, and subsistence agriculture – where farmers focus on producing what is needed to feed their families – is still widespread. In Uganda, for example, 86% of the population live in rural areas and rely on subsistence agriculture. Low inputs and low productivity result in stagnation, and stagnation in the developing world is equivalent to poverty, hunger and malnutrition.

As leader of a company that has been involved in Africa for over 100 years, I see enormous potential to more rapidly develop this area together with regional partners. There is a need for more partnerships between farmers, government, NGOs, local business and multinational corporations to accelerate Africa’s commercial agricultural growth. This will not only help thousands of farmers escape the subsistence trap but also offer benefits to all partners.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the global demand for food is expected to increase by 60% by 2050. Smallholder farmers will need to play a key role in meeting the growing need. Africa’s food and beverage markets are to reach a threefold increase by 2030, the World Bank estimated in 2013, bringing more jobs, greater prosperity, less hunger and significantly more opportunity for farmers to compete globally.

There are, however, numerous challenges that subsistence farmers are faced with and that inhibit potential growth. These include limited access to infrastructure, to productivity-enhancing technologies and to education – issues that require substantial investment and long-term partnership of local business, farmers, corporations, governments and NGOs.

Two critical challenges are the inability to compete with low-priced international products – it is virtually impossible to compete with imported rice from Vietnam, for example – and the lack of access to a strong commercial market. These cause farmers to maintain production at levels merely enough to provide for their family, providing little or no incentive to invest in improved crops and fertilizers, or access to these products. As with cash crops such as cotton, coffee and tobacco, markets are most likely to be built on demand for the product and accelerated by large multinational corporations. Multinational companies such as Heineken can play a significant role in creating this demand, partnering with farmers, government and NGOs to help African agriculture gain a larger share of the world’s commercial market. Local sourcing creates shared value.

Heineken currently produces from 56 plants in 23 African countries and has made a Clinton Global Initiative commitment in 2011 to source 60% of its agricultural raw materials used in Africa within the continent by 2020. This is also part of the commitments we made under our Brewing a Better Future programme, Heineken’s approach to sustainability and one of our key business priorities. Together with the European Cooperative for Rural Development (EUCORD) and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we recently invested in three Public Private Partnership projects in Ethiopia, Rwanda and Sierra Leone and we appointed a local sourcing director to increase the focus on and coordination of these projects.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, our commitment to train farmers to produce consistent volumes of high-quality rice has seen their average annual production increase by 62% between 2009 and 2012. We have committed to invest more than $4 million by 2017 to accelerate our sourcing initiatives in the region, which will reduce the number of crops imported from other countries, educate local farmers through support and training, and improve income for thousands of farmers and their families.

Through partnerships with government and international NGOs such as EUCORD, Heineken seeks to use its commitment to actively improve agricultural productivity in the countries in which we operate. Working together with NGOs, Heineken is using its agricultural experience and capacity to train and organize smallholder farmers to integrate as many rural families in their supply chain as possible. Our objective is to make the agricultural sector more competitive in order to lower the costs of local grains – both as a source for the agro-processing industry as well as for local food consumption.

For farmers, the benefits include improved agricultural knowledge, increased productivity and profitability, better food security and an improved overall livelihood. Governments will see improved employment, economic development and a growing international trading position. And for commercial corporations – whether local businesses or multinationals – the long-term benefits are significant as well. For Heineken, these include securing a long-term sustainable source of raw materials, reduced exposure to unavailability or potential volatile prices, reduced transport costs; and a smaller carbon footprint.

We believe in Africa and can see the immense opportunity it offers. We also realize it is our obligation to partner with the continent to stimulate sustained and sustainable growth. We are encouraged by the results of our partnerships and want to engage in dialogue with other multinationals, local business, farmers, NGOs and governments about successful partnering for shared supply chain value. Together, we will be able to stimulate the growth of a sustainable and commercial agricultural sector for Africa and take an important next step to increase the global food supply.

WEFA: Africa Needs Growth With A Human Face

Africa is facing significant security threats and experiencing high levels of violence and human rights abuses, said panelists at the World Economic Forum on Africa, taking place for the first time in Nigeria. In particular, women, children and civilians are being used as instruments of war and shocking testimonies are coming out of conflict zones.

A lack of respect for human life was identified as a fundamental problem that is leading to increased violence. This is being compounded by the commercialization and erosion of traditional practices that once stabilized communities, but are now contributing to human rights abuses, particularly of women.

According to Netsanet Belay, Africa Director, Research and Advocacy, Amnesty International, South Africa, “Freedom of expression is an African right. We need to push our African leaders to speak out about transgressions committed by their fellow leaders.”

Poverty, inequality and lack of inclusion were also identified as key contributors to increasing conflict and radicalization as they create pockets of fragility that can be easily exploited. Christine Musisi, Regional Director, UN Women East and Southern Africa, Kenya, concurred: “Rapid growth that is not inclusive is irresponsible growth and it is not sustainable.”

Samura Matthew Wilson Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, said governments, particularly in post-conflict states, have a difficult time trying to balance the needs of investors in the resources sector and the communities that are affected by the exploitation of those resources.

Countries need investment to grow, but it is crucial to ensure that the growth is inclusive to avoid building up social tensions that present potential areas of future conflict. “You need growth with a human face,” said Kamara.

The 24th World Economic Forum on Africa will be held in Abuja, Nigeria, on 7-9 May 2014. The theme of the meeting is Forging Inclusive Growth, Creating Jobs.

The Co-Chairs of the meeting are Dominic Barton, Managing Director, McKinsey & Company, United Kingdom; Jean-François van Boxmeer, Chairman of the Executive Board and Chief Executive Officer, Heineken, Netherlands; Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer, Dangote Group, Nigeria; Bineta Diop, President, Femmes Africa Solidarité, Switzerland; Jabu A. Mabuza, Chairman, Telkom Group, South Africa; Sunil Bharti Mittal, Chairman, Bharti Enterprises, India; John Rice, Vice-Chairman, GE, Hong Kong SAR


Saturday, 10 May 2014

Action Health Incorporated: Let’s Prepare For The Return Of Our Girls


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When over 200 girls attending Government Secondary School Chibokwere abducted from their hostel in the middle of the night by Boko Haram gunmen on April 15, it put the spotlight on the endemic subjugation of girls and young women in Nigeria.

It has taken the eruption of Nigerians’ anger and similar outrage from people around the world in the form of protest marches and the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign about the Nigerian government’s indifference and shoddy rescue efforts,for the government to finally acknowledge its need for international assistance to find the girls.

The recent declaration by Boko Haram’s leader that the girls should not be in school but should be married is appalling, and his flagrant boasting to sell them at slave markets is even more outrageous.  It reeks of the most extreme formsof oppression - an attack on the girls’ individual freedom and liberty, unabashed abuse of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, and usurp of their right to education.

Need we justify to anyone, the importance of girls’ education and ensuring their sexual and reproductive wellbeing, when all evidence clearly shows that this is the only way to go? For the records:

“An educated woman has the skills, information and self-confidence that she needs to be a better parent, worker and citizen”.-UNICEF
“Removing barriers such as early marriage, gender-based violence, domestic slavery and sex trafficking means not only a better life for girls, but a safer, healthier and more prosperous world for all”. - Girl Rising

“Girls and young women must be allowed to go to school without fear of violence and unjust treatment so that they can play their rightful role as equal citizens of the world. They have the right to live free from intimidation, persecution and all other forms of discrimination” – UN Women

Action Health Incorporated commends the global efforts to create greater awareness about the plight of the girls of Chibok and to put pressure on our government to address this injustice. We must keep up the outcry until we secure the girls’ release and safe return to their families. Now is the time, to ensure we put adequate sexual health trauma management systems in place for the girls, as the world works to bring them back home. 

We cannot afford to buckle under the tyranny of those who are bent on scuttling the advancement of girls’ education and attainment of their sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Source: Action Health Incorporated (AHI)  

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Winners of The 2014 African Blogger Awards Announced

The winners of the first annual African Blogger Awards have been announced.
Entries were open in four main categories including the Best African Blog, Best African YouTube Channel, Best African Instagrammer and Best African Twitter profile, as well as across 36 sub-categories.
The competition saw 520 entries from 27 African countries, marking the first time that influencers across the continent competed against one another. The entrants’ combined audiences total over 5.6million blog visitors, 10.2 million Twitter followers, 2.5million Instagram followers, with YouTube channels offering a combined 75 million views.
Winners were chosen in two of the four main categories:
  • The best blog in Africa is Kenya’s Niaje
  • The best Instagrammer in Africa is South Africa’s Gareth Pon
  • There were no winners in the Best Twitter Personality or Best YouTuber categories.
The 36 sub-categories included sectors such as Advice, Fashion and Beauty, Events and Nightlife, Education, Sports, Political, Technology and Gadgets, and Youth Culture among others. Not every category attracted a winner this year. 

The sub-category winners are:

The 2014 African Blogger Awards are the first true, impartial measure of the reach, resonance and relevance of an influencer channel.

The awards also mark the first time that winners of an influencer competition have been determined based on scientific metrics, rather than through peer nominations and voting.

Entrants were required to register their online properties on Webfluential, a platform created to give brands and the marketing industry, including advertisers, public relations agencies and media buyers an independent measurement of the most relevant online and social influencers to include in their campaigns.

“The calibre of entries into the Awards reveals how social media marketing is growing in influence across the continent,” says Mike Sharman, co-founder of the African Blogger Awards.

The most popular entry categories were Entertainment, Lifestyle, as well as Technology and Gadgets, reflecting the most common interests of connected Africans.

“This shows us that readers want to know about the latest lifestyle trends, the opportunities to be social in real life and online, and they want to stay up to date with the technology that makes all of this possible,” says Sharman.

Winners in each category receive a commemorative trophy and a web banner announcing their achievement that can be personally-leveraged through their social network.

The next African Blogger Awards will be held in February 2015.