Tag Archives: East Africa

Anti-FGM campaigner Nimco Ali launches global bid to protect girls

Every country must ban female genital mutilation to protect girls and help end poverty, Somali-born British campaigner Nimco Ali said as she launched a global project to end the practice by 2030, reports Reuters.

About 3.9 million girls have their external genitalia partially or totally removed every year despite health risks, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), and this could rise to 4.6 million by 2030 due to population growth.

Ali said FGM was at the heart of gender inequality and called on all countries to act to end the abuse in line with the United Nations’ global goals agreed upon in 2015 and save 68 million girls at risk between now and 2030.

“Everyone knows that FGM is wrong,” Ali, 36, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations’ key annual meeting.

“We need to lobby governments to act, but we also need to fund African women at the frontline as they are the orchestrators of their own destiny.”

She said she hoped to launch her campaign, entitled The Five Foundation, The Global Partnership to End FGM, on Wednesday would build a network of activists and find new sources of funding to end the abuse of women that she called away “to put them in their place”.

“You will never end poverty or have peace if you pin girls down aged 5, cut them, break them and sell them for some cows,” said Ali who moved to Britain from Somaliland when she was 4 years old.

“There is a massive link between the way countries treat 50% of their population – women – and their prosperity and success.”

Ali’s campaigning stems from her own childhood when she was cut at age 7 while in Djibouti, in East Africa, on holiday with her family which led to health complications and reconstructive surgery.

FGM is linked with severe long-term complications including cysts, infections, and complications in childbirth. In the most severe cases, the vaginal opening is sewn up.

“For me the act of FGM was not the most painful experience, but the fact that it just didn’t mean anything,” said Ali.

“I only forgave my mother finally last year.”

After studying law and joining the civil service, Ali began actively campaigning against the practice that is still widespread in about 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.

Many people believe the ritual is an important tradition and religious obligation, although it is not in the Q’uran, and up to 96% of women in countries like Somalia, Egypt and Sudan are cut.

In 2010 Ali set up Daughters of Eve to support girls in Britain affected by FGM, but her public lambasting of FGM and its acceptance in many African societies came at a price.

“I received death threats, my family stopped talking to me, I was heckled by other Somalis,” said Ali, whose work led to her receiving an Order of the British Empire (OBE) this year.

“But a lot of young Somali women are thankful that I took one for the team although it is a massive sacrifice to be so public about being different.”

Ali, who published her first book this year, said the aim of The Five Foundation was to get FGM further up the global agenda and raise funds for grassroots organizations working to end the practice that 200 million women alive today have undergone.

The United Nations says the global prevalence of FGM has fallen one-quarter since 2000 due to grassroots work but this is not keeping up with population growth so the number is rising.

Ali said she was confident the world could end FGM.

“In my family, FGM has stopped with my nieces not being cut. That is what the end of FGM looks like,” said Ali, who ran – unsuccessfully – for a seat in Britain’s 2017 general election.

She ruled out running again for office to achieve her aims.

“I was heckled and abused. It was a really horrible experience so I won’t repeat that again,” she said.


Ethiopia set to host 8th Conference on Climate Change

Ethiopia is set to host the Eighth Conference on Climate Change and Development in Africa (CCDA VIII), which will be held in this capital, according to an official statement.

Delegations from the member states of the African Union (AU) will attend the Conference, for which the Addis Ababa authorities guaranteed the necessary logistical services and all safety precautions.

‘Stepping up climate action for a resilient Africa – a race we can and must win’ is the theme of this edition of the Conference, also sponsored by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Development Bank, the Ethiopian government and the Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

The event will conclude Friday and will determine the African contributions to the Climate Action Summit, called by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, for September 23, in New York.

Guterres urged all government leaders to participate and present viable plans so as to contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 45% over the next decade and to net zero emissions by 2050.

Madobe calls for better Jubbaland, federal state ties

Somalia’s Jubbaland state President Ahmed Islam Mohammed, popularly known as Madobe, is fronting a conciliatory tone with the federal government, calling for unity to defeat Al-Shabaab.

In a speech delivered after he was sworn in for the second four-year term in office, Madobe said Jubbaland would remain under the Federal Government of Somalia, adding that the country must unite to address the security challenges.

“Somalia needs positive engagement, dialogue, consultation and collaboration, which are benchmarks that can drive our people to development,” he said in a speech initially made in Somali but translated and provided by his office to media houses.

“We face a collective responsibility to secure our country. We have to confront and wage an offensive against al-Shabaab,” Madobe added, referring to the militant group that controls some parts of Jubbaland.

“We have to collaborate with stakeholders, including neighbouring countries, peace institutions and other partners involved in security.”


Somali president replaces security chiefs and Mogadishu mayor

Somalia’s president announced on Thursday a major shake-up of the country’s security chiefs as well as a replacement for the mayor of Mogadishu after Abdirahman Omar Osman died of his wounds following a suicide bomb attack last month.

Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group al Shabaab, which aims to topple Somalia’s UN-backed government, claimed responsibility for the bombing of Osman’s office by a blind female fighter.

Omar Mohamud Mohamed takes the place of the late mayor, who had fled Somalia for Britain as a refugee and earned years of experience as a councillor in London before deciding to return home to help rebuild his war-torn country.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo selected new heads of national intelligence, police and army, his office said in a statement.

Former journalist Fahad Yasin, becomes head of the National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA), after performing the role as acting chief for the last 10 months.

Commander of operations in the army Odowa Yusuf Rage was named overall commander of the military, while Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hajar will head up the police.


Tanzania opposition’s legal hurdles

A Dar es Salaam court was busy for two days last week as the case brought up by the state against opposition leaders continues.

On the witness seat at the Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court was a policeman, corporal Charles, appearing for the prosecution, who was at pains to link the accused to some of the crimes among the 11 counts, including illegal assembly and staging a demonstration with intent to mobilise citizens into committing a crime.

The prosecution had told the court that the leaders uttered seditious words at Buibui grounds when winding up campaigns for parliamentary by-elections for Kinondoni constituency that could cause public violence.

Video recordings of the meeting were presented before the court and during cross-examination by defence counsel Peter Kibatala, in presence of a state attorney Wankyo Simon, the witness conceded that they did not indicate the accused had staged a demonstration or attacked the police.

The accused are Chadema national chairman Freeman Mbowe, the party’s secretary general Dr Vincent Mashinji, John Mnyika, deputy secretary general (Mainland) and Salum Mwalimu, deputy secretary General (Zanzibar).

Others are Peter Msigwa MP for Iringa Urban, Halima Mdee, MP for Kawe, John Heche, MP for Tarime Rural, Ester Bulaya, MP for Bunda Urban and the MP for Tarime Urban, Ester Matiko.

They are all charged with conspiracy to commit offences, unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation, raising discontent and ill-will for unlawful purposes, sedition and inciting the commission of offences between February 1 and 16, 2018 in Dar es Salaam.

The case continues, and it is one of the political hurdles the Tanzanian opposition is grappling with.

The opposition is facing a recently enacted Political Parties Act, 2019 which they say appears meant to block opposition and civil society organisations from performing most of their basic functions ahead of the 2020 polls.

They say that the legislation gives the Registrar of Political Parties excessive discretionary powers, affecting autonomy and breaching confidentiality in their affairs.

They content that the Act should have provided for the establishment of an independent Political Parties Disputes Tribunal with judicial powers to hear and decide on all disputes within political parties.


But CSOs hail some amended sections in the Act, including those prohibiting political parties from forming militia and paramilitary groups.

The parties filed a petition at the East African Court of Justice in April to stop its enforcement, maintaining that it violated human rights contrary to the Tanzania Constitution, Leadership Ethics and the Universal Human Rights Declaration.

However, the court declined to grant the orders in absence of the government.


Africa: Reversing the Growing Unemployment among African Universities Trained Graduates

Recently, I watched the heartbreaking story of a 24-year-old Kevin Ochieng, a first class honors degree graduate, whose excellent academic performance did not secure him a decent job. He articulated well how he worked hard, excelled in exams, and was looking forward to put his training and expertise into practice. Instead, he is still unemployed and living on the streets of Nairobi.

I asked myself: How many young African graduates like Kevin are out there?

A recent feature by the Nation titled “The reality of Kenyan youth: Young, educated, ambitious and jobless” clearly articulates the situation. In South Africa, according to the recently released quarterly Labour Force survey, 2nd Quarter 2019, 35.6 % of those aged 25-34 are unemployed. Just recently, South Africa reported how many graduates are struggling to find meaningful work. This trend is common in other countries including NigeriaKenyaGhana and Mali. What happens over and over is that youth are trained and then many of them have no place to practice that what they have learned and some end up being jobless. Seeing no hope for employment in the near future, those who can may decide to migrate.

There are several reasons that explain this troubling trend. These include a weak African economy, lack of a vibrant private sector, manufacturing jobs and financial support for African youth to become entrepreneurial, and a mismatch between available jobs and the training African youth. There is also a lack of sound employment and job policies. At the core of all these issues is poor governance.

The situation is even more upsetting when one considers how Africa’s educated youth are well equipped with the expertise needed to transform and develop the African continent, yet, their skills and expertise remains untapped. Instead, African countries continue to tap into foreign expertise or unknowledgeable experts, many of who are political appointees.

Clearly, African countries must commit to reversing this trend. We must shift these statistics. We must create jobs and put into use the skills its youth have. It is time to welcome them to the governments, to departments of agriculture, and any other place of influence.

So how do we facilitate the rapid absorption of the youth and the ideas they bring along?

First, African country governments should implement sound job and employment policies.  These can range from policies that provide an enabling environment for the private sector to create jobs that enable the youth to build skills that are in demand. Governments can also see that they leverage already existing employers including NGO’s to support and employ youth or support young entrepreneurs through initiatives by which governments procure goods and services from youth-owned businesses.

In addition, countries can also implement affirmative policies to ensure all government ministries or departments including the Ministry of Agriculture have certain positions that are exclusively set aside for recently trained graduates.  Some countries like Uganda and Kenya are working to change policies as a way to tackle youth employment.

Even with policies, it is unlikely that all graduates, and the many unemployed youth will be absorbed in the formal sector.

For those that do not end up having office jobs, they can consider being entrepreneurial. According to recent data by the African Development Bank, 22% of Africa’s working age have established new businesses. What’s more is that coming along with a rising middle class in Africa is an increase in the number of consumers and consumer spending, creating more opportunities for youth-led businesses to thrive and grow. As they grow, they can in turn offer employment to other youths.

Evidently, it is clear that the entrepreneurial landscape in Africa is excellent. According to 2018/2019 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report, Africa and Middle East region has by far the highest number of people involved in early state entrepreneurial activity. And because the entrepreneurship ground is fertile, African youth, especially recent graduates, should continue to innovate, think out of the box and create for themselves businesses and the opportunities to put their skills and brilliant minds to work.

Importantly, to continue building a prosperous Africa, where trained young people are absorbed in careers, Universities must restructure their training programs and train not just for the sake of it, but also to fill in the market demand. This also demands creation of vocation schools and institutes where youths can train for specific jobs including digital jobs. Just recently, Google Africa announced that it will give over 30,000 young African developers scholarships and grants to help them become certified on Google’s Android, web and cloud technologies. African youth should latch on such opportunities. It is a win for both.

Ultimately, cutting down on youth unemployment in Africa while ensuring that we tap onto the skills and passion African youthful graduates bring along, will require rolling out of sound employment policies. It will mean continuing to tap onto entrepreneurship while continuously adapting the education system to ensure that graduates have the skills to match the market demand. It is possible.


Tanzanian TV journalist arrested for airing story on police brutality: rights group

A Tanzanian journalist with Watetezi TV was arrested and held overnight on Friday for airing a story earlier this month about police forcing six detainees to sodomize each other, the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition said.

Joseph Gandye was arrested in Dar es Salaam and transferred to Iringa, a city in the south, on Friday, according to his lawyer, Jones Sendodo.

“He is accused of publishing false information,” Sendodo told Agence France Presse newswire.

Watetezi TV, or ‘Protectors’ in Swahili, was founded by the Tanzania Human Rights Defenders Coalition in 2018.


Kenya wins African candidacy for UN Security Council

The African Union on Wednesday nominated Kenya to be Africa’s candidate for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council (UNSC) for 2021-2022, local media reported.

In a secret vote at union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, Nairobi won some 37 votes, defeating Djibouti, which got only 13, in a vote attended by 51 out of 55 AU member states, Kenya’s Daily Nation reported.

Kenya’s Foreign Ministry also announced the victory after a second round of voting by the union’s Permanent Representatives Committee, Kenya’s Capital FM said.

In the first round of voting on Aug. 5, Kenya was unable to get the two-thirds majority needed.

Kenya is the sole African nominee for the Security Council’s non-permanent seat for 2021-2022. It will need to also win two-thirds of UN member states’ votes next June to get the seat, according to the Daily Nation.


Kenya: Court sentences 4 youth trying to sneak to US

A Kenyan court on Friday sentenced four young men to six months in jail over trying to sneak to the U.S., hiding in a ship amid difficult living circumstances, local media reported. 

Mohamed Bwika, Fredrick Gitari, Mnyika Maganga and Stephen Malenya admitted they sneaked aboard a cargo ship, MV Ken Sea, on Aug.19, in an attempt to reach the U.S to look for jobs, the Standard Media, a local media website, reported.

The four young men told Senior Resident Magistrate Edgar Kagoni at the Mombasa-based court that life in Kenya “had become hard” due to lack of jobs, and they wanted to go to the U.S. seeking for job opportunities, according to another local media, Hivisasa news website.

Kagoni said: “The youth must be encouraged to love their country and they should not only dream of going to America,” reported the Standard Media.

“Although you seem to be innocent in your endeavors to look for greener pastures, which you think you can only find in America, it must be noted that you were risking your lives by hiding in the ship and that you also threatened the ship crew,” Kagoni added.

“I don’t encourage the conduct of such people around here who think they can hide in a ship and go wherever they want. So that others don’t do the same, they will go to jail for six months,” read Kagoni’s ruling.

The four were arrested on Aug.19 after they had climbed the ship through a mooring rope and tried to hide in the ship’s chain locker and engine room without getting permission of the captain, according to Hivisasa.In July, a male Kenyan stowaway was found dead in the U.K. after he fell from a Kenya Airways plane only moments before it landed at Heathrow Airport, the local Pulselive news website reported on Friday.

According to the CGTN Africa TV channel, he was found dead in a London yard.


Malawi’s military directed to act against protesters

Malawi’s President Peter Mutharika ordered on Wednesday the country’s military to act with necessary force to stop protests aimed at shutting down airports and border posts on Aug. 26-30.

“Without the borders, there is no Malawi. These people [the opposition] are waging war on our country. I have no choice but to take necessary measures to protect the borders with all the necessary force,” Mutharika, the commander-in-chief of the country’s armed forces, said as he commissioned naval boats on Lake Malawi in the southern town of Mangochi.

He said the military, together with the police should be deployed at the airports and border districts to stop the shutdown because the protests are not about elections but to usurp power from him.

“Any attack on our borders or airports will be treated as treason. I am, therefore, directing the police and army to stop these demonstrations. Should they go ahead, let them not say that they were not warned,” he added.

Opposition political parties in the country have been holding demonstrations in major cities for the past three months to dispute the re-election of Mutharika this May.

The Human Rights Defenders Coalition (HRDC) chairman, Timothy Mtambo, on Tuesday announced that, as organizers of next week’s protests, they have decided to shutdown all airports and borders in a bid to force Mutharika to remove the head of the election commission, Justice Jane Ansah, from presiding over alleged “fraudulent elections”.

Ansah, a judge of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal, has dismissed the calls, saying she would only resign if the ongoing court case on the elections found her to have failed to discharge her duties.

Enerst Thindwa, a political analyst at Chancellor College of the University of Malawi, told Anadolu Agency via telephone that the airport and border shutdown would paralyze the landlocked southeastern country which is surrounded by Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.