Benin - Nuclear Techniques Help Reveal High Rate of Soil Erosion in Benin
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by FricNews
Nov 13, 2019 - 10:11
Harmless traces from nuclear testing more than half a century ago are helping researchers assess soil erosion rates. In Africa, about 65 percent of the continent's farm land is affected by erosion-induced losses of topsoil and soil nutrients, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Benin is among those countries severely impacted by soil erosion, which poses a major problem for economic development since agriculture represents approximately 35 percent of the country's GDP and 80 percent of its export income. A recent study applied a nuclear technique to assess rates of soil erosion and support land conservation in Benin.

"Evidence shows that over 90% of soils in Benin have a high level of degradation," said Pascal Houngnandan, Director of the Laboratory of Soil Microbiology and Microbial Ecology at the National University of Agriculture in Benin. "The study used tools and means that guide the action for the preservation and regeneration of agricultural land, which is a particularly acute problem because any agricultural production is dependent on the soil."

Most of Benin's arable land is used by small family farms, based on manual labour and great crop variability. These small plots with multiple and irregular physical boundaries pose a challenge to conventional measurements of soil erosion to produce representative and reliable results.

Techniques based on radionuclides are much more suitable: the Cs-137 radionuclides that were released into the atmosphere by nuclear weapon tests and deposited in soils worldwide in the 1950s and 1960s can be used to measure soil erosion. If the amount of Cs-137 in the soil at the studied site is lower than the amount found in selected reference areas unaffected by erosion, it means soil at the studied site has been lost to erosion. This difference can be quantified, so scientists can measure Cs-137 in order to assess the rate of erosion and its impact on soil fertility.

Cassava and oil palms - an example of complex land use in Benin. (Photo: E. Fulajtar/IAEA)

Using this technique, scientists have estimated soil erosion rates in southern Benin in three agro-ecological zones, which are areas of land defined by a combination of soil, landform and climatic characteristics. They found that the annual mean soil erosion rate was 11.8 tons/hectare in Govie, 18.8 tons/hectare in Linsinlin and 22.4 tons/hectare in Lokogba. Based on the estimated rates, 48 mm, 77 mm and 91 mm of soil, respectively, has been lost at the studied sites since 1954, when Cs-137 deposition began. Since soil formation does not exceed 0.1 mm per year, it was determined that approximately 6 mm of soil layer was formed during this period, while 48-91 mm of soil was lost, leading to severe consequences for soil fertility and thus crop yields, said Houngnandan.

The research team also measured the loss of soil nutrients and organic matter. Nutrients can be lost to erosion as well -- washed off from what were once fertile lands into rivers and lakes. As a result of intensive farming and water erosion, the total soil nitrogen was reduced by 27 percent in Govie, 6 percent in Lokogba and 34 percent in Linsinlin. The team also noted that soil phosphorus decreased by 35 percent in Lokogba, and soil organic matter declined by 2.5 percent in Govie and 3 percent in Lokogba.

"Based on these results, soil conservation measures are required," Houngnandan said. "The next step of our research will be to test several conservation practices, and to identify the most efficient practice, which will then be shared with farmers. The results of the IAEA technical cooperation project will guide and foster this intended conservation effort and improve the national soil conservation programme."

The Benin erosion study, with technical support from the Joint FAO/IAEA Division of Nuclear Techniques in Food and Agriculture, in collaboration with the National Agricultural Research Institute of Benin, is a good example of how nuclear techniques can contribute to soil conservation, particularly in environmental conditions characterized by tropical climate and long, smooth slopes of denudation plateaus, said Lee Heng, Head of the Soil and Water Management and Crop Nutrition Section at the FAO/IAEA Joint Division.

Long smooth slopes of African denudation plateaus with complex land use are prone to soil erosion. (Photo: E. Fulajtar/IAEA)
Nigeria - House of Assembly promises to create budgetary provision for talent hunt
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by FricNews
Nov 06, 2019 - 8:11
The Cross River State House of Assembly has said that it will soon create a budgetary provision for talent hunt to return the state to its number one position in football and other sports.

The Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Williams Jones Eteng, who stated this while speaking with some newsmen in Calabar yesterday after performing the kick-off of the fourth edition of the North-West Calabar Municipal Football Tournament, said: “The state House of Assembly will do its bits in that regard by simply creating a budgetary provision, especially encouraging the sports commission with budgetary provision for talent hunt.

“That is all our responsibility. We cannot legislate on this but we can encourage full budgetary provision.

“The first football team came from Calabar. In the national league now, we cannot find our name anywhere, but when we see tournaments like this, we need to encourage. For us in Cross River, we will encourage the sports commission to take up its responsibility.

“From what I have seen now, the state can reclaim its position in the nation if we keep to the model of catching them young and going forward for the best talents. I have seen a lot of talents today and I think if we keep it up, we will discover a lot of players that will play for Cross River State.”

“Other corporate organisations in the state should emulate the North-West Petroleum Company in sponsoring competitions and community-based initiatives as this. This is what we keep preaching that if big companies in this state do things like this, we will be better off as a state. This is what we pray for. This is what say every day and even our laws keep emphasising that every company should add value to the society where they are doing business.

Chairman of the tournament organising committee, Ntufam Donatus Etim, said that since the tournament started, it had helped in checking crime rates.

He said: “When football used to be mentioned, Calabar was often in the front-burner but it has changed from that record and football has lost its place in the state. We no longer have school sports where schools play against themselves and even community games where these talents are harnessed.

“But thank God for this tournament and a big thanks goes to the Managing Director and Chief Executive of North-West Petroleum and Gas for their magnanimity over the last four years as far as this tournament is concerned. We can tell you that some other states have borrowed a leave from what we have done with this tournament in our community. Like in Delta State, this is going to be their second year of this similar tournament. We are also grateful for the media coverage this tournament has enjoyed as well.

“We urge other companies and even capable individuals to also look into similar sports tournament sponsorship like this. It should not be only football. Let other sports be given attention. It will surprise you how much this state and the nation will generate as foreign direct investment and exchange if we have players from the state playing overseas.”
Kenya - African youth, innovation and the changing society
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by FricNews
Nov 01, 2019 - 9:11
What comes to mind when you hear the word “change”? What does it mean? What does it take to bring about change? Is it money? Power? Knowledge?
Given, there are many programmes aimed at enhancing the lives of young people. Some have been impactful, others have achieved only moderate success, while others have been total flops.

The big question is, are young people contributing to change as much as they should?

In what ways have young Kenyans actively initiated it? In June this year, a three-man Kenyan contingent attended the Youth Connekt Africa Summit in Kigali, Rwanda.

There they got to interact with senior government officials and policy makers from around the continent, and discussed policies, programmes and partnerships that could bring positive change in Africa.

The trio was honoured for championing change within their communities through the different empowerment initiatives that they are involved in. myNetwork spoke to them about these projects, the lessons they learnt from the summit, and their plans for the future.

Luke Muleka, founder Signs TV

Luke has a deaf sister. Growing up, he felt very sorry for her, as she seemed bored whenever he and his parents were watching TV programmes.

When he came of age, Luke vowed to find a way of making life more exciting for his sister, and other deaf people. This was the inspiration behind Signs TV, which he founded in 2017.

‘‘Deaf people have been neglected for many years, and I am happy to have come up with a solution for them.

‘‘Information is a key cog in the drive towards development. The drafters of the Sustainable Development Goals brought everyone on board, and ensured that the interests of all groups were taken into consideration. I consider my involvement in the empowerment for others as a personal triumph,’’ he adds.

What feedback has he got so far?

‘‘Persons living with disabilities really like our shows. Their families are also very thankful for our initiative. At Signs TV, we aim to fight against the discrimination of PLWDs,’’ he notes.

After just two years in operation, Signs TV came second in the 2018/2019 Kuza Awards by the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) in the category of Programming Geared towards Addressing Issues of PLWDs.

‘‘This was an encouraging confirmation that our work hasn’t gone unnoticed. It also means that PLWDs are enjoying our programmes, and that the public is watching too.’’

Signs TV also won the 2018 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Ambassadors Award organised by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), British Council and ActionAid. At the Youth Connekt summit, the station also took home the Digital Innovation Award.

Luke says that “Kenya is a bedrock of innovations by the youth’’, and argues that this was demonstrated clearly at the Youth Connect Africa Awards where three out of the 12 finalists were young Kenyans.

‘‘The creative talent is there. What we lack are structures that promote innovations. Mentorship of young innovators is also necessary because it helps youth transform their creativity into income-generating enterprises,’’ Luke observes.

Participating in the summit made him realise that African youth are hungry for change, and are willing to take the lead.

To the young Kenyans who are determined to influence change but don’t know how to do so or where to start, Luke advises them to think of the day to day challenges that the people around them face.

‘‘If you dream of becoming a change maker, let your creation be anchored on positively impacting the lives of those around you. An invention’s success is measured by the number of people whose lives have changed for the better thanks to it.

“After you’ve come up with a suitable innovation, find ways of scaling it up. Any solution is only sustainable if it can be expanded to impact even more people in the community,” he notes.

Ashura Michael, TV show host

Ashura’s show on Signs TV uses sign language as a social, economic and political empowerment tool for persons living with disabilities (PLWDs). Her mission is to equip PLWDs with the information they need to reach their full potential.

At the conference in Kigali, she got a good opportunity to meet other young change makers across the continent.

‘‘I was happy to interact with top dignitaries, chief among them President Paul Kagame of Rwanda through an open forum of question and answers,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s always insightful to hear from leaders who are responsible for the welfare of the youth.’’

Key among the deliberations during the Kigali conference, she says, was a call on the African youth to ‘‘go to where the opportunities are, rather than to wait for them.”

‘‘The key theme was “I Take the Lead”. We were urged to take responsibility for our actions by using our talents to change the world around us,’’ she recounts.

Ashura says the government needs to create an enabling environment for young people to explore their creativity, and to contribute to the wellbeing of the country.


She is however quick to add that Kenya has progressive laws and policies that, if implemented fully, would support trade, innovation, and spur economic and social development, but there is a hindrance: Lack of enforcement.

‘‘How come Rwandans are doing better than us in most areas of youth empowerment? It is because most of our policies and recommendations never reach the implementation stage,” she opines.

Like many young people in the country, Ashura has taken issue with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s move to appoint old people to plum positions in government, especially those that touch on youth affairs.

‘‘The government has failed the youth. The president shouldn’t just talk about his government’s commitment to empower us. He should demonstrate this by giving those of us who are competent an opportunity to create solutions to the challenges we face,’’ she says.

Ashura, however, is happy that this year, the World Bank issued a Sh15 billion grant to enable young Kenyan entrepreneurs to start businesses.


‘‘Another thing that I’m happy about is that after many years of waiting, we finally have the Kenya National Youth Policy, which will hopefully encourage more young Kenyans to contribute to the country’s sustainable development,’’ she says.

She further notes that the 2018 Kenya Vision 2030 Sector Progression Report shows that the country is on course as far as youth empowerment goes.
‘‘There is big opportunity for young Kenyans to achieve their goals,’’ she says, adding that what remains now is for the government and other entities to find ways of encouraging the youth to be actively involved in national development.

Ashura argues that the youth have a critical role to play in their own welfare, and notes that sometimes they contribute to their own woes.

‘‘Why do we allow leaders to exploit us? I’m particularly disappointed by our young parliamentarians. Most of them have failed to address our concerns. They are just after their own interests,’’ she laments.

‘‘If you dream about change, why wait? The future belongs to those who take the lead and do something to create change,’’ she says.
PLWDs, she says, must venture out and grab existing opportunities to improve their lives.

‘‘We can’t eradicate poverty when PLWDs are left out. Fifteen per cent of the world’s population are people living with disabilities. They must be involved in all plans and efforts that are aimed at improving lives.’’

Ambrose Mbuvi, founder Nico Organics

Nico Organics is an agribusiness start-up that offers agricultural training to small scale farmers with the aim of tackling food insecurity and eradicating poverty.

The organisation also helps farmers acquire beehives and other equipment required for them to practice beekeeping, and also connects them to new customers.

So, what inspired Mbuvi to start this initiative? What drives him?

‘‘More than 60 per cent of farmers in Kenya plant their crops on less than 100 acres of land. They are small-scale farmers. Most of them rely heavily on rain and practice poor farming techniques. This leads to poor harvests, which exposes them to hunger and poverty,’’ Mbuvi explains.

‘‘Our goal as Nico Organics is to equip farmers in rural areas with modern methods of farming, so that they can get better yields. We hope to transform the lives of 100,000 farmers through training.’’


Mbuvi describes his participation in the Youth Connekt Africa Summit as a timely eye-opener for him.

‘‘It was a productive platform to learn and network with fellow youth who are utilising their skills and expertise in different fields in their respective countries to come up with innovative solutions,’’ he says.

At the Youth Connekt Africa Awards in Kigali, Mbuvi won the Young Innovators Prosperity Award for Youth Economic Empowerment.

“That was a proud moment for me, but it was also a confirmation that I need to keep using my talent and resources to make a positive impact in my community,” he says.


"I learnt to believe in myself, to be open to collaborations with other like minded youth, and to always be ready to seize the opportunities that present themselves," he says.

"If you think you have a solution to any existing problem, all you need to do is get started. Don’t worry about lacking the required resources. Just take a leap of faith and you will be surprised by what you are capable of achieving,’’ Mbuvi observes.

"In today’s world, collaboration is key. Don’t spend hours competing with others. Instead, think of joining hands with those who have the same vision. There is strength in numbers.

"Africa is rising," he says with conviction. ‘‘The world is realising that there is so much potential in Africa. As youth, we must position ourselves strategically so that we can also rise," he says.

But how come programmes designed by government by Kenyan youth don’t always bear fruits?


"When designing these projects, it is necessary to involve the youth from the very beginning. Even if the programme is practical and suitable for Kenyan youth, the idea will not appeal to them if they were left out at the conceptualisation stage," Mbuvi argues, noting that the government must start engaging the youth ‘‘as equals and not as an after-thought."

It has often been said that Kenyan youth often overlook some good opportunities. Mbuvi disagrees with this notion, and says that young people in the country are innovative and daring enough to take on any challenge.

‘‘It is out of determination to create meaningful change in the society that I chose this path. Providing training and capacity building among farmers is not as easy as it may sound. It requires sacrifice. Unfortunately, some of our laws and systems discourage and scare youth away from starting such initiatives.

“However, all is not lost. Kenyan youth are innovative and hard working. All they need is support, and an environment that allows them to be creative, to make mistakes, and to learn from them,’’ he argues.
Ashura Michael is a show presenter at Signs TV. She uses sign language on her show to empower young people living with disabilities. PHOTO | COURTESY
Ghana - University of Ghana scientists identify deafness causative gene
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by FricNews
Oct 28, 2019 - 8:10
Scientists at the University of Ghana have identified a gene that is the major cause of inherited deafness in the country.

The scientists at the West African Centre for Cell Biology of Infectious Pathogens (WACCBIP) at the university collected samples from children in the 11 schools for the deaf across the country.

The findings also indicated a 1.4 per cent carrier frequency rate among 145 healthy Ghanaians who were screened randomly, suggesting that among every 145 Ghanaians, two are likely to carry the defective gene that can be passed on to their children.

Known as the Gap junction beta 2 (GJB2) or Connexin 26, the gene directs the production of proteins that make up part of the inner ear.

Being recessive, carriers of the gene, who inherit just one defective copy from a parent, have normal hearing. But those with two flawed copies, one from each parent, have hearing loss that can range from moderate to profound.

The Ghana-led research is one of the several advances that will make it possible to offer genetic testing in the country to help people determine why their families are hearing impaired and also to check the spread of the gene.


A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidate, Mr Mawuli Adade, conducted the field research which was approved by the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research Ethical Review Board and the Special Education Unit of the Ghana Education Service.

It was supervised by a biochemist, Professor Gordon A. Awandare, and two experts in Audiology at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital — Prof. Ambroise Wankam and Prof. Geoffrey Amedofu.


The study results, which were published in the medical journal, Frontiers Journal, last month, showed that 1,104 medical reports of the students in the 11 schools for the deaf were reviewed to identify selected participants.

Ninety-seven families with at least two members living with hearing impairment and 166 individuals who did not have any family history of the condition were then identified.

A detailed family history was obtained from all participants and consent forms were signed prior to enrolment.

The record of each participant was reviewed by a medical geneticist and an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist and blood
One of the hearing-impaired persons being screened. Picture: GABRIEL AHIABOR
Liberia - 2 Liberians Turning Waste Plastics into Bricks
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by FricNews
Oct 23, 2019 - 9:10
Abraham L. B. Freeman and D. Baccus Roberts appear determined to put their country on the list of nations whose citizens ‘create’ useful products from plastic waste.

Both Freeman and Baccus refer to themselves as ‘environmental health and safety advocates’.

“I’m encouraging Liberians to limit the use of plastic to save our environment,” Freeman told the Daily Observer in an interview recently at his ‘recycling’ site in Monrovia.”

He said people who go to market should use one plastic as often as possible because plastic survives more than five hundred years in the environment and degrades water resources.

“People are experiencing flooding in their various communities, because of littering plastic that goes into water resources and clog the drainages, Mr. Freeman said.

“I want to encourage Liberians and other nationals living in Liberia to limit the use of plastic because, according to research from the UN and other research organizations, plastic stays more years in our environment. They degrade our water resources; they clog our drainages and have many other negative impacts on our community,” he explained.

Environmental advocate Freeman said he is working with another person who has similar technological skills and vision.

Introducing his colleague, D. Baccus Roberts, Freeman said: “We met in Jamaica Road community on the Bushrod Island and, together, we educate residents and visitors here on the dangers of plastics.”

According to him, such education has motivated many community members who are now helping the two environmentalists to separate discarded plastic materials from their garbage, which is the people’s common contribution toward the advocates’ initiative.

“Baccus and I have started recycling waste plastic into pavement bricks in Liberia,” said Freeman.

They began their new initiative in December of 2018, following their discovery of tons of piled-up plastic wastes in communities and streets of Monrovia.

“Our first productions, bricks from waste plastics, removed more than 650 discarded plastic materials from the environment,” Mr. Freeman said.

For now, the project of turning plastic wastes into bricks is self-sponsored, Freeman said.

“Currently, only Baccus and I are sponsoring the project by putting portions of our respective salaries together, in order to procure materials that are required for producing the bricks,” Freeman said.

Their bricks have been tested in a laboratory, Mr. Freeman said. “Testing our product at a lab was to know how resistant it will be in the face of compression test and it is good to be used in construction work,” he said.

“We have prepared more than 50 bricks and this is just like a politest, we want people to know that plastic can be recycled into bricks. So we took some of the bricks that we produced and sent them out for people to view and test.”

Freeman believes that they are ready to begin mass production of their products, but currently they don’t have the resources. He said Ghana is the nearest market for bringing plastic-bricks molding machines to Liberia, and that such machines can mold these bricks with with less effort and energy.

“We are appealing to Liberians and friends of Liberia to help us on purchasing these machines. We have talked to a vendor from Ghana. He gave us preliminary price of the machine. It’s in thousands of United States Dollars. We don’t have this money now. We need the machine to start producing more bricks from plastic waste in Liberia.”

According to Freeman, the recycling of plastic wastes project not only saves the environment, it provides employment for other young people in the community and their household in the community. Also, The bricks can be used to pave yards, can be used as wall, and can be used also to pave roads in other countries, he said.

“Recycling of plastic wastes in Liberia has many economic values that people can dive into. With enough research, education and information, Liberians in the public and private sectors can make massive use of plastics in Liberia,” Freeman said.
Abraham L. B. Freeman displaying one of his bricks made from waste plastic material.
World - Why you don't have to be a coder to build an app for development work
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by FricNews
Oct 17, 2019 - 9:10
Gone are the days when it was just computer programmers and software developers who could build apps. With online courses on everything from coding to front-end web development, as well as tutorials and boot camps, professionals from all sectors can now learn the basics of designing and building apps.Devex spoke to a graphic designer and a project manager who, while working in the field, saw an opportunity for software to help them work more efficiently. They gave us their top tips for building an app for development.

Focus on functionality and ease of use

Drop App is a not-for-profit tool for distributing food supplies and “selling” clothes and shoes to the residents of the Nae Kavala refugee camp near Polykastro, Greece. Graphic designer Bart Driessen came up with the idea while volunteering with A Drop in the Ocean, an NGO supporting refugees in the area. While helping to set up a clothing shop in the camp, Driessen realized it was going to be challenging to track stock levels, purchases, and the needs of residents.

There were already tools out there for logistics and warehouse management, he explained, but they were expensive and not designed for this kind of project managing second-hand clothing donations of varying sizes and quality. Along with another volunteer, Driessen began creating a software tool to more efficiently track demand and distribute clothing, and allow residents to pay for their purchases using a virtual currency that they are allocated on a weekly basis.

The pair had some experience in website and user-centered design. Creating the app required a lot of these same skills, Driessen said. There was, however, a lot to learn in database design and back-end development, and they did so using online sources such as Stack Overflow and coding reference documents. This kept costs to a minimum — their only expense was purchasing a server.

The learning process was ongoing as they built the app, he added. The pair started on the idea just a few weeks before the shop opened, but continued working part-time on the app for some months after that.

Being in the field and seeing exactly what the needs were helped them make the project a success, Driessen said. One of the biggest challenges was designing the app so that it could be easily used by volunteers, who typically stay for just a few weeks at a time and wouldn’t have time for extensive training.

“The app doesn’t require a lot of training to work with it and that was a big challenge to solve that,” Driessen said. It had to be something that was simple for users, including those that were less tech-savvy, but at the same time have enough functionality to actually be useful, he explained.

Since its creation, Drop App has expanded to offer laundry, library, and bike rental services to camp residents, allowing them to book donated bikes via the app to get into town more easily. The same idea has been used to build Boxwise, an open-source app that helps other organizations source and distribute donated goods.

Solutions don’t need to be slick and expensive

While working on a six-month test project in Haiti, Marissa Germain found herself struggling to quickly assemble a team, despite having experience and networks in-country. It was there that she first had the idea for an app that would allow development employers to quickly verify candidate references and speed up the hiring process. Germain started to develop Reedoe, which she now runs as a small business offering services to both individuals and organizations.

Having originally considered learning to code, Germain soon realized that with so many different coding languages and aspects to building an app, it could become overwhelming. She started instead by attending tech meetups and participated in the Lean Startup Academy and other workshops.

“The message that I kept learning was that before you can use technology … before you write an inch of code, you have to use whatever materials are cheap and available to simulate the app,” Germain said.

This gives you “a clearer idea of what it is exactly the app is going to do, what it’s going to look like, how it’s going to function.” Even if you choose to work with professionals such as coders and graphic designers to bring the app to life, it’s essential to be able to communicate this information, she explained.

Germain set out to find cheap ways to produce her idea. Through online research, she discovered “drag and drop” solutions such as Squarespace and Knack, which allow you to build software without code. Germain’s previous experience building WordPress sites also gave her the confidence to start working on the back-end of the application.

In the first year, the cost of creating two websites and applying the plugins for the database management was no more than $1,000, she said, and annual maintenance costs since then have been similar.

Her skills in project management also came in handy when it came to following timelines, understanding legal frameworks, and finding solutions, she said.

“All of the experience I’ve had throughout my career working in development [has] really helped with building out this startup on the business side of things,” Germain said.

There will always appear to be people “better tooled, better skilled, better funded than you,” she continued, but you shouldn’t give up on an idea. Reach out to friends and colleagues who have the skills and networks you can leverage, and put yourself out there through newsletters and online groups in different industries, she advised. And be patient. Working on the app part-time, it took about three months to produce a draft version but the concept has been around five years in the making, Germain explained.

“It just takes time — to do the research … to find the communities and to find the teams, and the consistent chipping away at an idea until it starts to take on some legs,” she said.
Rwanda - Two Rwandan entrepreneurs shortlisted for Africa Netpreneur Prize
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by FricNews
Oct 17, 2019 - 9:10
Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) has released the names of the top 10 finalists heading to  its grand finale in Accra, Ghana on 16 November 16, 2019.
Two Rwandans are among the selected entrepreneurs.

They include Kevine Kagirimpundu, co-founder and Chief Executive of UZURI KY Rwanda, which is an African-inspired eco-friendly shoe brand, and Christelle Kwizera, the founder of Water Access Rwanda that pioneered a safe water microgrid that reclaims broken boreholes and transforms them into state-of-the-art solar-powered water kiosks and pipelines.

The ANPI is a philanthropic initiative spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation aimed at supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs.
The finalists were chosen from nearly 10,000 applicants from 50 African countries.

The finalists were shortlisted and will now go on to pitch their business directly to four finale judges - Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder and Executive Chairman of Econet Group; Ibukun Awosika, Chairman of First Bank of Nigeria and Founder/CEO of The Chair Centre Group; and Joe Tsai, Executive Vice Chairman of Alibaba Group - during a televised finale event called “Africa’s Business Heroes”.

The winners will receive a share of the $1 million USD grant prize pool.
At the event, African and global entrepreneurs, investors, educators, and leaders will convene to discuss how best to enable entrepreneurship and the digital economy across the continent.

 Guest speakers at the conference will include Ban Ki-moon, Former UN Secretary General and Co-chair of the Ban Ki-moon Centre for Global Citizens.

 “We launched the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative to identify top entrepreneurs from across the continent, not only to reward them but to inspire a whole new generation of potential gamechangers for Africa. I have been inspired by the entrepreneurs I met in Africa, many of whom are dealing with the same challenges we faced when we started Alibaba years ago. I truly believe the potential of Africa’s business heroes is limitless,” said Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation.
Uganda - Idi Amin's mastery of media revealed in newly published photos
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by FricNews
Oct 07, 2019 - 9:10
For decades he has been reviled as a simple-minded and sadistic dictator, or lampooned as a clownish thug.

Now tens of thousands of newly discovered images have shown how Idi Amin exploited cutting-edge media technology, populism and radical ideologies to maintain his bloody grip on power in the 1970s.

Most of the 70,000 pictures were taken by a team of photographers from the information ministry who followed the Ugandan dictator over the course of his eight-year rule. Many show Amin at public occasions, but some are of private episodes, such as the arrest and humiliation of alleged petty criminals shortly before their execution.

Others are more intimate, showing the dictator with his family or close associates, and were taken by officials and associates. Amin is seen with his children surrounded by Christmas decorations, playing the accordion and swimming.

Historians say the images, found in a locked filing cabinet at the Ugandan state broadcaster’s offices by archivists four years ago but only now given a public view, provide extraordinary new insights into Amin and the nature of his regime, which was one of the worst in post-colonial Africa. They also cast new light on the reality of life for ordinary Ugandans under the rule of a man held responsible for between 100,000 and 500,000 deaths.

Rose Mwanja Nkaale, the commissioner of the government’s museums and monuments department, said she had been surprised to see images of a “jovial character who was very social with the common people”.

“It made me wonder what turned him into what he became. He started well but turned into something else. We need to learn about what we must fight against to stop these things ever happening again,” Nkaale said.

During Amin’s rule, security services and the military targeted different ethnic communities seen as potentially disloyal, as well as real and imagined opponents. Journalists, judges, businesspeople, artists, officials and clerics were abducted, tortured and killed. Victims included Uganda’s Anglican archbishop and one of Amin’s own wives.

Dr Richard Vokes, an anthropologist at the University of Western Australia, who was involved in the discovery, said the photographs depicted a “kind of magic energy” that was both “behind the brutality and part of the brutality”.

“We see how [Amin] embraced the media and understood its power ... How he had a great sense of how media could amplify his ego and his political will,” Vokes said.

The display of a selection of the pictures at Uganda’s national museum in a pioneering exhibition has been welcomed by many of Amin’s relatives, as well as the families of some of his victims.

Sarah Bananuka, whose father and three brothers were murdered during Amin’s rule, said the exhibition was a good initiative but expressed concern that the official photographs might hide the grim reality of the regime.

“In these pictures you see him in parties, enjoying life and meeting people. We didn’t see the other side of Amin, which we felt, lived and experienced,” the 69-year-old said.

Hajji Edrisa Mayanja Njuki, the head of the presidential press unit during the 1970s, said the exhibition depicted the “real Amin”. “The pictures that show his good side had never been produced and published. It has always been the negative side of the story,” Njuki said.

Unlike in South Africa after the fall of the apartheid regime, or in Rwanda after the genocide of 1994, there has been no official attempt in Uganda to address the violence that followed Amin’s seizure of power in 1971.

“[Uganda] has never had a process of mourning, even of reflection. There are no public memorials, victims’ groups … all the things you see elsewhere in places with traumatic periods in their past. So this is the first public memorial,” Vokes said.

The exhibition’s organisers had to wrestle with the fact that few of the photographs depict the violence of life in Uganda in the 1970s.

“As curators, we have made efforts throughout this exhibition to remind the viewer that for many Ugandans the 1970s were a perilous time,” said Derek Peterson, a historian at the University of Michigan, who is working to preserve endangered government archives in Uganda. “The photos are so overwhelmingly positive in their appraisal of Amin that we’ve really had to work to find ways to bring the violence of the time into focus.”

One strategy was to feature images of Amin’s victims, as well as pictures taken immediately after his fall of torture chambers used by his feared security services.

So extensive was the violence under Amin that state photographers themselves were at risk. One was executed after taking pictures of the aftermath of a hijacking by Palestinian and German terrorists that led to a raid by Israeli special forces on Entebbe airport in 1976.

Peterson said the images underlined the breadth of Amin’s relations with radical leftist organisations and regimes across Africa, the Middle East and beyond. There are photos of representatives from the Palestinian Liberation Organisation meeting the dictator, and pictures of a deputation of black activists from the US.

British and other officials expected Amin to choose the west in the cold war battle for influence under way across Africa at the time. Instead, he took Uganda into the “revolutionary international” group of what were then known as “progressive” states, receiving wide-ranging support from Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi and arms from the Soviet Union. East Germany assisted Amin’s security services.

Amin was ousted after launching an invasion of Tanzania in 1979 and died in exile in Saudi Arabia in 2003.

Bananuka said the exhibition was “a beginning”. “It’s making people come out to think how we can do it better. We need to get more people who are willing to talk about their experiences and share it out. Maybe somebody may learn a lesson or two,” she said.

Jaffar Remo Amin, the third son of the dictator, said he hoped it would bring the country together. “The country has never settled and united as one. That fracture will be permanent if we don’t discuss our past and go through healing. The country needs a lot of healing,” the 53-year-old said.

Additional reporting by Samuel Okiror in Kampala
 Idi Amin and guests celebrate ‘Refugee Day’ in 1975. Photograph: Uganda Broadcasting Corporation
Nigeria - Cashless policy takes off with N284 trillion e-payment deals
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by FricNews
Sep 30, 2019 - 8:09
• Bank customers face more than 10 charges, taxes
• Payment service firms, banks’ earnings to increase
• Nigeria, others need $152b investment in 10 years

Transactions through electronic payment (e-payment) channels that would facilitate the country’s planned cashless policy hit a cumulative value of N284 trillion in the first half of this year, data from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has revealed.

The data showed that the depth of adoption of the electronic channels within the period was significant, as no fewer than 3.81 billion transactions were recorded across all payment platforms.

The development showed that the cashless policy, which has already taken off in some states and the expected national rollout in March 2020, came with a mix of opportunities and costs for banks and their customers, government and payment service providers.

Channels that would be prominent in the cashless era include the Internet (web) platform, which are currently enmeshed in controversy over planned Value Added Tax charge on transactions by 2020.

In the last six months, it generated 47.98 million transactions valued at N223.35 billion, while mobile money records showed 104.8 million transactions worth N1.97 trillion.

The inter-bank e-payment platform recorded 1.76 billion activities worth N203.35 trillion, while the National Instant Payment platform generated 504.2 million activities, valued at N49.35 trillion.

Electronic cheque transaction had 3.42 million activities in the period, worth N2.3 trillion, with the Automated Teller Machine and Point of Sales terminals recording 424.62 million and 187.7 million transactions valued at N3.24 trillion and N1.38 trillion respectively, while the popular Remita generated 21.6 million activities worth N9.84 trillion.

The Nigeria Inter-Bank Settlement System Automated Payment Services (NAPS), an integrated multi-bank e-payment, e-collection and payroll and bulk payment platform, designed for the instant processing of payroll, pension, personnel records and execution of funds transfer, direct debit, collections, schedule delivery and payment instructions, generated 20.6 million transactions, valued at N11.59 trillion.

With the withdrawal and deposit limit enforcement, bank customers would either comply and patronise more fully the electronic channels or face charges. The development, which signals more charges for bank customers as they use the services in the financial system, is currently about 10 or more.

As a survival strategy after the implementation of the Treasury Single Account, banks redoubled their instinct for multiple charges against customers in the face of dwindling opportunities and income, which subsists till now.

In no particular order, there is Account Maintenance Fee, with associated Value Added Tax (VAT); Card Maintenance Fee and associated VAT; SMS alert charge and associated VAT; Remote-on-Us, with associated VAT; Mobile transfer charge with VAT; online transactions charges; and the planned online transactions with VAT.

For financial experts and bank customers, it is really an era of taxes and charges, despite the difficult economic climate and low business activities.

CBN, foreseeing the panicky reaction to the zero Commission on Turnover (CoT) policy, reversed itself by approving a negotiable CoT charge, which should not be more than N1 per N1000 withdrawal on current account, as well as the Stamp Duty Tax.

The managing director of Cowry Assets Management Limited, Johnson Chukwu, commended the initiative but also called for caution. He told The Guardian: “It also came with the benefits of minimal keeping of cash at homes. It is long we heard that thieves made away with millions from people’s homes and that is courtesy of the cashless initiative. But the platforms that run these services will be maintained and it is a private business, so there must be cost.”

He stressed: “I will be quick to point that there is the need to be cautious in the charges and taxes associated with the use of these platforms, particularly on payment platforms, otherwise, it would be discouraging. When you ask people to embrace cashless policy and at the same time, you tax them on the use of the cashless platform, it becomes double jeopardy. I think they should think seriously about that planned online tax.”

The managing director of Financial Derivatives Limited, Bismarck Rewane, on his part, said: “We must discourage full cash-based transactions by all means and to any extent possible. Cashless system is good for transparency and payment efficiency. It will be beneficial to all.”

A banker in one of the top five banks, who only identified himself as Austin, said each transaction has many service providers at the backend and these are private businesses working to create convenience, safety and efficiency, so they deserve to earn money.

“I don’t know how much is too costly for an average customer to pay, but you can be sure that the regulator has a justified position when it allows a cost to be put on some services. But these services are optional too somehow,” he said.

But Samuel Elias, an operator of a medium sized dry cleaning shop, lamented that rather than a mutually beneficial relationship, nearly everything about banking transactions has associated charges and taxes.

“These banks act as if they are above the law. They do whatever they want to do and repeatedly. How can you say that you want people to bring money to the bank, only for you to be reducing their balances with multiple charges? Nothing is done for the sake of customer relations, yet they declare billions of naira every year,” he said.

Meanwhile, the need to rev up productive capacity in Nigeria and the rest of African economies resonated at a United Nations’ forum, where it was estimated that no less than $68 billion-$152 billion investment is required on the continent in the next 10 years.

Described as “massive investment” needs at between 3.1 per cent and 6.9 per cent of the continent’s economy, they are meant for building infrastructure and ensuring sustained growth.

The meeting called, “Promoting Innovation and Infrastructure Development: A Pathway for Boosting Manufacturing in the Fourth Industrial Revolution,” was part of the UN-designated Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDA III).

African Union’s Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga, told a gathering on infrastructure that young Africans would “produce the magic” needed to revolutionise the continent.

The development has raised a new task for leaders to devise an “incentive structure” to promote a startup culture among young Africans.

Muchanga said all that is needed is working to “harmonise our policies, rules and regulations” to smooth cross-border trade while focusing on the next generation.

“We’re not leaving the youth behind. We’re promoting startups among African youths. Because we know that if we localise knowledge and innovation, then we’ll be able to spearhead the process of sustainable development,” he said.

But the African Development Bank (AfDB) President, Akinwumi Adesina, warned that the continent is moving backwards and urged executives to produce more high-value manufactured products instead of exporting raw materials.

“Unfortunately, Africa today is de-industrialising and there is no region of the world that has actually created wealth without industrialising. Infrastructure is critical. Ports, rail, digital infrastructure, all those things are going to be very critical. That’s our bread and butter every day at the African Development Bank, connecting Africa and achieving the goal of African unity,” he said.

Already, AfDB said it has invested more than $150 million in building technology hubs in Rwanda, Senegal and Cape Verde, while it also runs collaboration and mentorship schemes to bring African entrepreneurs and investors together.

In a monitored programme, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said the “winds of hope are blowing across” Africa, as economists address raising cash for building roads, power plants and other infrastructure in the region.

He said the emergence of free trade areas across the continent provide “concrete opportunities for economic transformation. Yet, challenges remain. Despite progress, new policies are needed to unleash the full potential of industrialisation, especially in this time of technological revolution.”

In her submission, Nigerian-born UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, Amina Mohammed, said there has been a “clear renewal of commitment by leader after leader to implement the 2030 agenda.”

According to her, “This is absolutely critical to respond to challenges that affect all countries – poverty, gross inequalities, discrimination against women and girls, climate change, and a rapidly deteriorating natural environment.”
Nigeria - Report: Nigeria Loses $600m Annually to Illegal Fishing
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by FricNews
Sep 16, 2019 - 9:09
--Spends $800m on fish importation

Nigeria is losing $600 million annually to illegal and unreported fishing by foreign vessels as a result of lack of equipment such as Automatic Identification System (AIS) and Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), and adequate manpower to police the country’s vast coastline, THISDAY’s investigation has revealed.

THISDAY gathered that the country also spends $800 million annually on fish importation, being the fourth largest importer of fish in the world, after China, Japan and the United States.

Nigeria imports frozen fish varieties, including mackerel (locally called Titus or alaran), herrings (locally called shawa), horse mackerel (locally called kote), blue whiting (locally called panla), Argentina silus (locally called ojuyobo) and the popular croaker fish.

Investigation further revealed that the country’s top suppliers are the United States and Chile, but fish is also sourced from Europe, Asia as well as a few African countries, including Mauritania, Algeria and Mauritius.

According to documents obtained by THISDAY from the Federal Department of Fisheries in Lagos, Nigeria’s annual fish demand is estimated at 3.32 million metric tonnes while domestic production is only about 1.12 million metric tonnes.

This leaves a deficit of 2.2 million metric tonnes, which is largely supplied through importation.

The document titled, “Fisheries Crime Activities in West Africa Coastal Region,” showed that Nigeria spends about $800 million (N324 billion) to import fish to bridge the supply gap.

According to the document, Nigeria in 2018 imported fish worth $71 million, $56 million, $43 million and $174 million from Iceland, Russia, Norway and Netherlands respectively.

The document also showed that West Africa remains a global hotspot for illegal fishing with estimated losses of $2.9 billion.

The document further revealed that over 450 Chinese vessels fish illegally in Nigeria and the coast of West Africa, adding that, “a survey carried out by the West Africa Task Force showed that over 37 per cent of all fish caught in West Africa are caught illegally with China, Taiwan, Russia, South Korea, Spain, France and Thailand being the main countries responsible.

“This is aside vessels from other countries and artisanal fishing in Nigeria inland water ways in areas such as Badore, Epe and coastal areas in Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross Rivers states.”

Nigeria has a coastline of 853 kilometres, which borders the Atlantic Ocean in the Gulf of Guinea.

The limits of Nigeria’s territorial waters and  exclusive economic zone (EEZ) are 12 nautical  miles (nm) and 200 nm respectively.

The total area of the continental shelf in the EEZ is approximately 37,900 km².

THISDAY gathered that Nigeria needs equipment like the AIS and VMS, both of which use satellite tracking to transmit vessel locations.

“AIS was designed as a collision avoidance tool and is required for vessels over a certain size by international law and some smaller vessels by national regulation. VMS is a bespoke fisheries management system regulated at the national and regional level. VMS data have traditionally been proprietary but governments are increasingly sharing these data publicly for greater fisheries transparency, ” the document stated.

Meanwhile, an official of the Federal Department of Fisheries who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity blamed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy for usurping the role of the department, which he said is constitutionally responsible to the protection of Nigeria’s fish resources.

He called on the federal government to create a ministry of fisheries and marine resources to effectively harness Nigeria’s abundant ocean resource.

“Government agencies are supposed to collaborate but that is not the case. However, any vessel we give letter of consent or assurance to bring a vessel into Nigeria has to go to NIMASA for registration. That is what Sea Fisheries Act says.  We also collaborate on the issue of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) number, which is a unique number issued to a vessels for life until it is scraped. It is through that number that we detect vessels that are being used for illegal fishing,” he said.

He added that fisheries over the world have been suffering from illegal exploitation, which undermines the sustainability of marine living resources and threatens food security as well as the economic, social and political stability of coastal states.

“These crimes have been identified by the Interpol and its partners as transnational in nature and involving organised criminal networks,” he stated.

Also, when THISDAY visited Badore area in Lagos, which is the main research site of the Nigeria Institute of Oceanography, locals narrated how several vessels trawl illegally at night unchecked.

According to a resident, Mr. Babatunde Akinyemi, “we are not allowed to go near the water to fish but at night we see people fishing and no one arrest them. This is also happening around other communities in this locality.”
Senegal - Surfer Launches Dakar's First Zero-Waste Restaurant
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by FricNews
Sep 02, 2019 - 10:09
Plastic bags, bottles, cigarette butts and other debris lap against the shore of Virage Beach in northwest Dakar, Senegal. Workers from beachside restaurants and surf shops rake the sand to try to capture the waste, but the garbage always returns.

A lack of infrastructure and education surrounding proper waste disposal in the Senegalese capital has resulted in piles of litter inundating the city's streets and beaches. Babacar Thiaw, owner of Copacabana Surf Village, a surf shop and restaurant on Virage Beach that was opened in 1970 by Thiaw's father, is taking matters into his own hands by turning his restaurant into a waste-free haven. It's the first of its kind in the region.

"Growing up here, I see all these problems that the environment is facing with the trash," Thiaw said. "People are just throwing, throwing, throwing, throwing."

Thiaw has spent the past year working with local conservation groups to transition his business into a zero-waste restaurant. He hopes other beachside restaurants will follow suit. But it's - a radical idea in a country where the typical person uses multiple plastic cups throughout the day to drink tea a treasured ritual - and consumes water in small plastic sachets.

Despite having a relatively small population of 15 million, Senegal is one of the world's largest contributors to plastic pollution. A 2010 study by the journal Science estimated the country produced more than 254,000 tons of mismanaged plastic waste that year, making it 21st in the world in annual plastic mismanagement. The United States, which has a vastly larger population and economy, ranked 20th.

At the official launch of Thiaw's newly transitioned restaurant, attendees could read any of the roughly dozen plaques that described the steps Copacabana has taken to reduce waste.

Plastic straws were abandoned in favor of those made from metal and bamboo, and a refillable water jug had replaced the 100 bottles customers used to consume each week.

The restaurant also switched from disposable napkins to reusable fabric, and instead of cleaning with harmful chemicals, they use natural soaps and vinegar. Leftover food is composted.

Copacabana also eliminated its single-use pods to make coffee.

"I feel like it's our duty to do that. If you don't do it, no one will do it for us," Thiaw said. "The government is here, they're always talking, talking, talking, talking. We've never seen something done. No one's going to save us if we're not doing it by ourselves."

Senegal banned plastic bags in 2015, but the law was never put into effect.

Claire Stragier is a project manager for MakeSense, an organization that works with governments and businesses around the world to help them lower their environmental footprint. The group helped Thiaw create an action plan for his transition to zero-waste.

Stragier said the waste problem in Dakar is primarily due to a lack of infrastructure. There are almost no public garbage cans, and the few that exist are never emptied.

Secondly, she said, is a lack of awareness among residents.

"There's clearly a lack of education among Senegalese people in that they don't know the impact of throwing plastic on the ground," she said. "They don't know that that plastic will stay there for more than 40 or 50 years and that it will have a very negative impact on the environment."

On the other end of Virage Beach sits the restaurant Chez Paco. Astou Bodian, who helps manage the business, said she appreciates Thiaw's initiative and hopes her restaurant will make similar changes.

"It inspires me because it can make beachgoers more aware that it's forbidden to throw their trash everywhere," she said. "It's good, I think it's a good thing."

While Virage beach struggles with plastic pollution, it's in much better shape than many other beaches in Dakar. About 5 kilometers west is the fishermen's neighborhood of Yoff where Thiaw grew up surfing. The beach there is so badly littered with plastic that surfers often paddle through hordes of it in order to reach the waves.

Thiaw refuses to surf there anymore.

"This is a big pity, you know, because people don't realize it, or they realize it but it's just something normal for them," he said. "If we keep doing this, in 10 or 20 years, we're going to have a trash ocean."
Liberia - Save the Children Liberia launches digital education
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by FricNews
Aug 21, 2019 - 10:08
Save the Children International Liberia Office launches “Profuturo Education Digital Education Project” aimed at providing equal opportunities for deprived children in the country through digital education.

Profuturo is an educational programme launched in 2016 by Telefónica Foundation and “La Caixa” Foundation, whose mission is to narrow the education gap in the world by providing quality digital education for children in vulnerable environments in Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Speaking at a program held at a local hotel in Monrovia on Tuesday, the senior operation manager of SCI Mr. Charles Sevee explains, the project in Liberia is in line with Goal 4 of the United Nations’ 2030 sustainable development agenda on access to equitable and inclusive quality education for all.

He says ProFuturo aspires to become a world reference for transformation and innovation in education, improving the education of millions of children through technology.

According to him, the objective is to improve learning process, teaching methodology as well as improved enrollment and students’ attendance into the Liberian school system.

Savee adds the project will also improve students’ knowledge in digital education as well as increase Parent Teacher Association (PTA) and children involvement in the digital world, disclosing that 60 schools are expected to benefit with over 3,600 students expected to be served per year.

Also speaking, Dina Rakotomalala of Save the Children Spain, notes digital education initiatives will significantly contribute to the attainment of the Ministry of Education’s objective to ensure quality education to the children of Liberia.

She says the project will allow targeted teachers and students in Bong, Montserrado and Margibi counties to realize their talents and capabilities in an innovative way in this 21st century where digital knowledge is essential.

Serving as key launcher at the program, Assistant Education Minister for Secondary Education, Felecia Doe Somah lauds Save the Children International Liberia Office for the initiatives in providing equal opportunities for deprived children through digital education and pledges the ministry’s willingness in working with the Save the Children for smooth implementation of the project. Press Release
Nigeria - Soldier dismissed for raping student
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by FricNews
Aug 12, 2019 - 10:08
The Nigerian Army has confirmed that it has handed over a soldier, Sunday Adelola, to the police authorities for allegedly raping a female student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko.

It was gathered that the Mr Adelola, a Lance Corporal, had earlier been dismissed from the army before he was handed over to the police.

His dismissal was said to have followed an in-house military trial by the Army authorities at the 32 Artillery Brigade, Owena Cantonment in Akure, Ondo State.

“He has been sacked from service and he has been transferred to the police for prosecution because the army does not tolerate indiscipline,” an army source disclosed.

The suspect and other soldiers stationed at the military checkpoint at the Ikare Akoko road, were recently accused of gang-raping the female student on her way from school.

Although it was earlier thought to be a gang rape, investigations by the authorities exonerated the other soldiers.

A directive from the Ondo State Government urged the army to hand over the suspect to the police for prosecution, after it condemned to action of the soldiers.

The university had also carried out an investigation and came out with its position, condemning the action of the soldiers against the student.

It urged the authorities to ensure justice was done to serve as deterrence to others.

Confirming the development on Sunday, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Femi Joseph, said the suspect had been handed over to the police and would soon be charged to court.

“I can confirm to you that the soldier has been handed over to us. We will soon charge him to court,” said Mr Joseph.

There were concerns that the police and the army authorities were trying to cover up the matter, given their delays in identifying and punishing the suspect.
Nigerian Soldiers on duty. [PHOTO CREDIT: The Guardian]
Nigeria - Homosexuality, Lesbianism Cause Of Insecurity In Nigeria
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by Realities, Nigeria
Aug 12, 2019 - 7:08
The Emir of Gwandu and the Chairman Kebbi Council of Chiefs, Alhaji Muhammadu Bashar, has attributed the current security challenges in the country to the way in which Nigerians have been ignoring God’s commands and adopting satanic behaviours.

The Emir said such satanic behaviours include rampant homosexuality, rape and lesbianism, which were causative factors of insecurity in the country.

The monarch made the observation while addressing his subjects after Eid-el-Kabir prayer in Birnin Kebbi on Sunday.

“The society today is bedevilled by cases of rape, homosexuality, lesbianism, kidnapping and rampant killings which resulted into the present insecurity Nigeria is faced with,” he said.

He charged the general public, especially parents to instill discipline and respect in their children by giving them sound education.

“I give glory to God for giving us the opportunity to witness another Sallah.

“The present ills in our society is also due to indiscipline and too much love for material wealth,” he said.

Bashar warned that unless the people fear to sin against God and parents remain committed to imbibing good family values, the country would continue to face instability, NAN reports.

The Emir also called on the people to be compassionate and supportive to the needy, saying that those who were able to sacrifice animals during the Eid should endeavour to share the meet with the poor and other needy persons.

He prayed to Allah to continue to bless the country and give leaders the wisdom to better the lives of people.
World - Producing Clean Energy from Pigsties in Brazil
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by FricNews
Aug 06, 2019 - 9:08
Pigs, already the main source of income in this small municipality in southwestern Brazil, now have even more value as a source of electricity.The mini-thermal power plant of Entre Rios do Oeste, inaugurated on Jul. 24, uses the biogas provided by 18 farms, in a pioneering technical-commercial agreement in Brazil involving pig farmers, the city government, the Paraná Energy Company (Copel), the Itaipu Technological Park (PTI) and the International Center for Renewable Energies-Biogas (CIBiogas).

The project was executed by PTI – the Brazilian-Paraguayan hydroelectric power plant Itaipu‘s centre for teaching and development research – and CIBiogás, a non-profit association of 27 international, national and local institutions, which operates at the PTI headquarters.

The Entre Rios city government will benefit by generating electricity with the biogas it buys from the pig farmers. The electricity is injected into Copel’s distribution network, reducing the energy costs paid by 72 municipal office buildings and schools.

“It will produce savings that we will invest in health and education,” said Mayor Jones Heiden.

His municipality, in the western part of the southern state of Paraná and on the shores of the Itaipú reservoir that separates Brazil from Paraguay, was a natural choice for the project, as there are some 155,000 pigs, or 35 animals for each of the 4,400 local inhabitants.

Rafael González, CIBiogás’ director of technological development, told IPS in his offices that the city government also took an interest in the project and offered the area for the plant to be installed, resources for its operation and support for the pig farmers.

Of the more than 100 pig farmers in the municipality, only 18 who are located where the 20-km network of gas pipelines was installed are participating, after accepting the conditions for financing the biodigester, which converts the waste into biofertiliser while extracting the biogas.

“Some didn’t want to because it would take them more than 10 years to pay off the loan. There were 19 who were going to take part, but one pulled out after deciding to build his own biodigester and generator” in an individual business, taking advantage of the abundant manure produced by his 4,000 pigs, one of the participants, Claudinei Stein, told IPS.

“That was the beginning, the second step will be public lighting,” opening up opportunities for other producers, said the mayor.

The mini-thermal power plant, with a capacity of 480 kilowatts, can generate 250 megawatts/hour per month, 43 percent more than the city government’s maximum consumption. It involves 215 tons of manure and 4,600 cubic metres of biogas produced daily by 39,000 pigs.

Stein has 7,300 feeder pigs which he receives from the Friella company when they weigh about seven kilos, fattens them, and returns them when they reach 22 or 23 kilos.

Friella is the main company in town, with three meat-packing plants where pork is processed and sold fresh or industrially processed, as well as an animal feed factory and its own hogpens.

But it outsources the breeding and fattening of most of the pigs. Stein explained that while it entails transportation costs, the company saves on installations, space and labour power.

Specialising in the second stage, in which each animal produces less than half of the manure from the entire fattening process, Stein estimates that he will earn an income of 1,800 to 2,000 reais (375 to 430 dollars) a month, enough to pay off the credit for the biodigester, which cost him 75,000 reais (19,800 dollars), in eight years.

But he joined the project for other reasons: to produce biofertiliser and improve the environment. Biodigestion eliminates odors, mosquitoes and contamination of groundwater on his 13-hectare property and improves manure as fertiliser for planting corn and soybeans.

“This way I save money on chemical fertilisers,” he explained. “I also like bold initiatives,” said the 39-year-old farmer, who learned about the benefits of biodigesters at a young age, because there was one on a cousin’s farm where he worked.

But the installation of the Entre Rios plant was plagued by delays, despite the recognised advantages of biogas and its potential for expansion in the western part of the state, due to the heavy presence of pig and poultry farming.

The idea emerged in 2008, Mayor Heiden told IPS.

But the opportunity to bring it to fruition arose in 2012, when the National Electric Energy Agency – the regulator of the sector – outlined strategies and criteria for biogas projects, calling for proposals to be presented.

The projects for Paraná depend on funds that the Copel distributor must allocate to research and development projects, equivalent to 0.5 percent of its turnover.

“We registered the Entre Rios do Oeste project,” but the contract with Copel was not signed until 2016, Gonzalez said.

Difficulties then arose with energy and tax regulations, which blocked the city government from purchasing the biogas, defined as a processed industrial good produced by farmers, the director of CIBiogas explained.

New regulations were necessary, with a different interpretation, that recognises biogas as an unprocessed agricultural product, in order to design the business model for the mini-thermoelectric plant fueled by biogas, which is in the category of distributed generation by consumers.

The project then took on its definitive shape, with the city government buying biogas from the pig farmers who installed the biodigester.

But opening up credit lines to finance the equipment required more lengthy negotiations, to come up with a model replicable in other municipalities and regions and with different arrangements.

There was a precedent for the construction of a mini biogas power plant in the municipality of Marechal Cândido Rondon, 34 km northeast of Entre Rios. The Agroenergy Condominium for Family Farming of the Ajuricaba River Basin, later called Coperbiogas, emerged there in 2009.

In 2014 it began to generate electricity, as part of another CIBiogas project. But it didn’t last long. Today, only 15 of the 33 members remain in the cooperative, the mini thermoelectric plant was closed down, and the biogas is sold to a neighbouring poultry plant belonging to the Rondon Limited Mixed Agroindustrial Cooperative (Copagril).

“It was a successful project” and not a failure as some people saw it, according to González. “Its objective was not to become economically profitable, but to clean up the environment, clean up the river,” he argued.

In fact, it was part of Itaipu’s Cultivating Good Water Programme, which sought to prevent pollution of rivers from sewage that would end up in the reservoir created by the hydroelectric dam.

The project remains active: 250 cubic metres of biogas are transported daily through the 25-km network of pipelines to three gasometers, while a filtering system removes the hydrogen sulfide that causes corrosion.

The families continue to use gas in their homes and some use the gas for milking, thanks to which at least one of the farms has improved the quality of their milk, using biogas in the pasteurisation process, Daiana Martinez, a biogas information analyst at CIBiogás, told IPS.

In Ajuricaba, unlike Entre Rios, biogas is made from both cattle and pig manure. But the scale of production and the biodigesters are much smaller, which makes electricity generation economically unfeasible, said Pedro Kohler, owner of a local biodigester factory.
Claudinei Stein is a farmer who produces biogas using the manure of his 7,300 pigs, which he breeds and sells to a pork processing plant in southern Brazil when they reach 23 kilos of weight. To his r
Nigeria - UNN Produces First Nigerian Electric Car (Photos)
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by Realities, Nigeria
Jul 14, 2019 - 9:07

University of Nigeria Nsukka (UNN) has recorded an outstanding feat by producing the first electric car in Nigeria.

The car named Lion Ozumba 551 after the immediate past vice chancellor, Prof. Benjamin Ozumba was produced by the Faculty of Engineering of the university.

Explaining the techniques of the car, the coordinator of UNN mechatronic group who led the team that produced the car, Ozoemena Ani, said the vehicle was produced with 80 per cent local content materials.

Ani said the car could be charged in any electric socket and when fully charged would go a distance of 30 kilometres.

“We used 80 per cent local material content in building this electric car.

“It cost us N800,000 to produce the car. When the car is fully charged it will go up to thirty kilometers before it can be recharged,” he said at the unveiling ceremony of the car.

The electric car was driven round UNN campus which attracted the admiration of many staff and students

At the unveiling was the Director-General of National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Jelani Aliyu who commended the University of Nigeria Nsukka for being the first to produce electric car in the country.

He urged other universities in the country to emulate UNN desire in giving serious attention to issues concerning innovations and technology in order to move the country to the next level.

“NADDC on February 6, 2019 invited UNN, University of Lagos, Usuman Danfodio University and Matrological Institute and urged them to prepare a paper design on how to produce electric car in the country.

“The council is happy that UNN is the first to prepare a paper design and produced electrical car that has been unveiled and test-run today in the university.

“We urge other universities and higher institutions in the country to emulate innovation and technology spirit of UNN,” he said.

Represented by David Oyetunji, the Director Finance and Account in NDDC, the DG said improving on automobile industry in the country would help create more employments as well as reduced huge amount of money used in importing cars into the country.

“Improvement in automobile industry will create more employments as well as reduce huge amount of money used in importing cars into the country.

NDDC commend UNN who recently produced the first gasification plant that used organic waste to generate electricity and today the same university is unveiling first electric build car in the country,” he said.

In a remark, the visibly elated Vice-Chancellor of UNN, Prof Charles Igwe, said his administration would continue to give innovation and technology the highest attention in order to move the university to the next level.

Igwe appreciated the immediate past VC of UNN Prof Benjamin Ozumba whom he said laid the foundation of innovation, technology as well as through his hard work made UNN the number one university in the country.

“I feel happy that, I inherited strong institution from Ozumba and I promised I will consolidate on his numerous achievements.

“I commend the engineering faculty for making the university proud as well as naming the car after Ozumba who ignited the fire of innovation and technology in the university.

“I also commend NDDC for its encouragement as well as giving UNN a chance to show its potential,” he said.

In his reaction, Ozumba said he was overwhelmed when he received an invitation to come and witness the unveiling of the electric car which was initiated by his administration.

“When I came on board I said we need innovation and technology to be at par with China, US, Sweden and other developed countries of the world.

“That was why I provided the resources and encouragement for innovations and technology because I believe that is one of the ways we can improve our country’s economy.

“It is my desire to improve the economy of UNN, the economy of Nigeria as well as increase the country’s foreign exchange,” he said.
South Africa - How technology could help rural South Africa turn sunshine into income
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by FricNews
Jun 03, 2019 - 9:06
The way energy is produced and distributed is changing rapidly as the industry moves away from carbon-based energy production. Technological development in the production of alternative energy has also speeded up the emergence of decentralised systems. These build on large numbers of actors who generate small quantities of energy.

But for a decentralised system to be sustainable, a flexible grid is required to accommodate variable renewable energy sources. A flexible grid also enables operators of the electricity system to balance demand and supply.

A decentralised energy system also requires an exchange mechanism to link buyers and sellers. In South Africa, the state utility Eskom currently fulfils this role. It effectively acts as a central clearing house. It does this by buying electricity from renewable power projects, adding it to its own generated energy and selling it to consumers.

But there are technologies being developed that could do away with the need for a clearing house like this. One is a distributed ledger technology, of which blockchain is an example. The use of this technology would allow small-scale transactions between buyers and sellers to be captured and recorded. In this way, it could facilitate the development of small-scale electricity trading markets.

Blockchain has been identified as one of the pivotal technologies alongside Artificial intelligence, Internet of things and Big Data. Interest in applying the blockchain technology to energy markets is slowly picking up.

Decentralised grid

In South Africa 15.6% of the households are not connected to an electricity supply. This is unlikely to change in the near future with centralised power production because it requires major investments to extend power lines to remote communities. For these communities, having their own decentralised grid solutions holds tremendous economic potential.

The good news is that South Africa is one of the most suitable places to harness the energy of the sun and convert it to electricity through photovoltaics. The prices for panels have reduced significantly and can be mounted on every shack. Individual storage solutions in contrast are currently unaffordable. So, the ability to sell excess electricity would be ideal.

The creation of markets where households can sell their excess electricity would also stimulate demand for photovoltaics across rural Africa. In this way households producing electricity through photovoltaic panels on their rooftops can trade their excess electricity and buy electricity when needed.

These trades can be recorded by the blockchain. The exchange mechanism would not be based on South African rands. Instead, the traded electricity units would be converted directly into a blockchain-based crypto-currency. The blockchain currency could then be converted into vouchers to pay for government services or to repay the loans taken to install the photovoltaic panels.

In this way blockchain would replace both the current billing and the trading systems. If households see the economic benefit and start installing more capacity than needed by the immediate community, aggregators might bundle up the power generation to respond to demand and sell it again directly to other consumers. These consumers could include nearby factories.

Flexible electricity grid is key

For photovoltaic to contribute to the grid security, PV plants must be run by operating systems that allow for better interaction with the electricity grid. They must be able to interact with other renewable energy sources and storage systems. Despite considerable process, these required systems are still under development.

If South Africa positions itself well, it could become a test bed for these technologies and thereby benefit from investments in research and development by major international corporations that have an interest in driving these trial runs.

The integration of distributed ledger technologies into energy trading would be a logical next step for South Africa. Already in 2011, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa allowed municipalities to connect to their networks small-scale embedded generation of under 100 kW. Two years later, the updated integrated resource plan stressed the need for adaptive energy investments. In particular, rooftop solar PV was identified as an interesting source of energy.

Developing countries have an advantage

The move to a decentralised electricity market with distributed ledger blockchain technology at its core will take much longer in the West. By some estimates as long as 25 years. This is because of their deeply integrated electricity markets and legal systems that can't be changed easily to create the necessary environment. Nevertheless, interest in attractive reward systems for individual producers is also rising in Europe.

On the other hand developing countries might have an advantage. Countries, including South Africa, which have sections of their populations not connected to the electric grid, could make the transition to decentralised electricity markets much quicker.

This points to the possibility that the distributed ledger technologies might follow the same path as the diffusion of mobile phones across the African continent. This would enable ways for alternative energy technologies to leapfrog the expensive centralised grid systems.

But the transition to decentralised electricity production and trading markets won't necessarily be smooth. One of the biggest challenges in getting blockchain applications up and running is trust. In most countries consumers have already built trust in the centralised institutions. Not so in South Africa where trust in Eskom is in negative territory. Given this state of affairs, the country could take advantage of the power utility's challenge by increasing the use of technology in the rural areas and so turning sunshine into income.

Author: Thomas Wolfgang Thurner - Research Chair, Cape Peninsula University of Technology [The Conversation]
Nigeria - Senate: N11tn Spent on Fuel Subsidy in Six Years
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by FricNews
May 31, 2019 - 9:05
The Senate Thursday disclosed that the federal government spent not less than N11 trillion on fuel subsidy in the last six years.
The Senate also approved the payment of N129,048,358,444.11 as final subsidy arrears payment to 67 oil marketing companies.
It also yesterday adjourned sitting till June 6 when the National Assembly is billed to hold its valedictory session.

The Senate’s approval of oil subsidy claims was sequel to the presentation of the report of the Senator Kabir Marafa-led 20-man Senate Committee on Downstream Petroleum Sector on Promissory Note Programme and Bond Issuance to settle inherited local debts and contractual obligations to petroleum marketers by the chairman.
Marafa, in his 11-page presentation, said Nigeria had since 2013 spent over N11 trillion to settle outstanding fuel subsidy claims.

However, he said the approval of the latest payment to 67 oil marketers ended the issue of subsidy arrears claims by oil marketing companies.
Marafa observed that there were differences in submissions made by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and oil marketers.
He said all the subsidy arrears claims were based on three inter-related elements: subsidy, forex differentials and bank interests on unpaid claims.
According to him, “That the recent request computation is based on one of the already identified elements (forex differential).

“That due to scarcity of forex within the period, oil marketing companies were allowed to source forex outside CBN rate to enable them to meet the country’s petroleum products demand.

“That NNPC Retail get their petroleum product allocation directly from PPPMC at already subsidised rate and so does not require forex to transact its business.”
Some of the benefitting oil marketers and the amount approved for them include: Total Nigeria PLC N13.7 billion, Northwest Petroleum N11.4 billion, Masters Energy N10 billion, MRS Oil PLC N8.8 billion and Sahara Energy N8.4 billion.

Others are: MRS Oil & Gas Limited; N6.3 billion, NIPCo Plc, N4.2 billion; Forte Oil N3.9 billion, DEEJONES Petroleum & Gas, N4.1 billion; Emadeb, N4 billion; Sulphur Streams Ltd N147.52 million; Eterna Plc, N704,89 million; Ceoti Limited, N88.20 million; and ASB Investment Company, N38.85 million; among others.

Contributing, some senators said Nigeria was bleeding paying outstanding subsidy claims and that this would hurt the nation’s economy.
They, therefore, called for the building of new refineries to end fuel subsidy payment.
On his part, Chairman of Senate, Public Accounts Committee, Senator Matthew Urhoghide, expressed concern that more subsidy requests would come in the incoming ninth Assembly because “the computations were not properly done.”

Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the session, lamented that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) now charge subsidy claims on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation, a development he described as unconstitutional.
He said: “I am also happy to note that we are coming to a closure on the issue of this outstanding payment on subsidy claims. And then begin to think of the best way to deal with the subsidy issues.

“And the frightening aspect of it is that the NNPC now charges subsidy on the Consolidated Revenue Fund of the Federation. What they do is that the issue of subsidy is now in the first-line charge on our oil revenue, which is extremely dangerous because that is completely unknown to our constitution.

“But the implication, therefore, is that those expenditures are never appropriated. So, it is a possible area of conflict between the executive and the parliament.
“I do hope that the next assembly will be able to sit down with the executive in order to address this issue without creating unnecessary tension. And NNPC needs to also caution themselves in that respect so that they don’t encroach on the appropriation responsibilities of the National Assembly.”
Meanwhile, the eighth Senate, which was inaugurated on June 9, 2015, will hold its valedictory session on June 6.
Ekweremadu made this known while responding to the motion for adjournment of plenary moved by Lawan.

Senate Leader Accuses Wealthy Nigerians of Buying Court Judgments

Meanwhile, Senate Leader, Lawan, Thursday accused wealthy Nigerians of influencing court judgments in their favour.
He spoke even as the Senate asked the federal government not to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu.

Lawan, who made the allegation during plenary at the screening of Justice Abubakar Musa Sadiq as President of the Customary Court of Appeal, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), accused the wealthy of using their resources to procure favourable judgments.

He said: “Ours is a society where people who have so much money buy judgments. I think that is not the type of society that we want. We want a society where those at the lowest line; the vulnerable and the disadvantaged can go to courts and get judgments because they deserve to get those judgments regardless of their socio-economic status.
“So I want to pray for you and for all of us that this nomination that we are going to confirm by the grace of God will be a blessing and an additional advantage to the judiciary and the people of this great country.”

Lawan, who is a strong contender for the ninth Senate presidency added that the judicial arm of government is expected by Nigerians “to be firm, fair, committed to those ideals that the founding fathers of this country worked and died for; that is to make life better for every Nigerian.”
The Senate thereafter suspended its rules and confirmed the appointment of Sadiq as President of the Customary Court of Appeal within 12 minutes of reading President Muhammadu Buhari’s letter to the lawmakers.

The Senate approved the nomination after it dissolved into Committee of the Whole to screen the nominee.
Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over plenary, had read a letter from Buhari requesting for the confirmation of Sadiq.
Lawan moved the motion for the accelerated screening of the nominee and was seconded by Senator Chukwuka Utazi.
According to Lawan, the motion became necessary since the eighth Senate would soon wind down.

When the nominee was eventually ushered in by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, the senators simply asked him to take a bow and leave.

Ekweremadu, therefore, put the question to voice vote and it was unanimously adopted by the legislators.
The Senate also yesterday implored the federal government not to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, as earlier threatened by the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika.

Rather, it urged the federal government to rehabilitate the runway of the airport for the safety of passengers and aircraft and in conformity with international aviation standards.

The Senate further urged the federal government to take steps to complete the new terminal building of the Enugu International Airport and put it to use by foreign and local airlines.

It also urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation and its agencies to develop a water source with the nearby Ekulu River for the use of the airport.
The Senate thanked the Enugu State Government for demolishing and ordering the relocation of the Orie Emene Market, shutting down the nearby abattoir and ordering the immediate removal of the broadcasting mast and other illegal structures on the approach of the airport.

It urged the Federal Ministry of Aviation to return all the generating sets allegedly removed from the Akanu Ibiam International Airport to the airport in Port Harcourt, on the orders of the immediate past Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi.

The Senate passed these resolutions sequel to a motion, “the threat to downgrade the Akanu Ibiam International Airport,” sponsored by Senator Victor Umeh (Anambra Central) and co-sponsored by 16 other senators, cutting across party lines from the South-east, South-south and North-central.
Leading the debate on the motion, Umeh, said Sirika had threatened to downgrade the airport because of what he considered as imminent dangers posed to air travellers by the presence of a nearby market.

He listed the impediments as a state radio mast on the flight path of airlines that threatened the safety of incoming aircraft, an abattoir, which attracted large birds and exposed airplanes to the bird strikes, the location of a free trade zone and the decrepit state of the runway.

He, however, appreciated the concerns of the former minister over the safety of passengers and airplanes that were using the airport, noting that the airport currently serves travellers from Enugu, Kogi, Anambra, Ebonyi, Benue, Cross River and other adjoining states.

Umeh said rather than downgrading the airport, the federal government should think of upgrading it to meet international standards.

He expressed concern that the airport has only one runway, which is currently in bad shape, describing it as falling below international standards.

Umeh also expressed worries that the only source of water supply to the airport was from tankers, fire service van and the reservoir, which he said could not stand the test in time of emergency.

In his remarks, Ekweremadu stressed the need for relevant authorities in the Aviation ministry to speed up the upgrading of facilities at the airport.
The Senate in session
Nigeria - Onitsha building collapse: Death toll rises to five
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by FricNews
May 24, 2019 - 9:05
Five persons have been confirmed dead in the three-storey building that collapsed on Wednesday in Onitsha, Anambra State.

Police spokesman Haruna Mohammed, in a statement, said: “On May 22, about 3pm, a building under construction at No 9 Ezenwa Street, Onitsha, belonging to one Ikebu Aso, collapsed.

“Police patrol teams and sister agencies rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area to checkmate miscreants and criminals from looting. Three casualties, whose identities are yet to be ascertained, were rescued alive from the rubbles and rushed to the General Hospital, Onitsha, by the Red Cross, while two others were certified dead by the doctor. Their bodies have been deposited at the mortuary for autopsy and rescue operations are ongoing.”

Mohammed added that the case was being investigated to ascertain circumstances surrounding the incident.
Nigeria - Osinbajo to Outgoing Govs: Your Service Days Not over Yet
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by FricNews
May 24, 2019 - 8:05
Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo Thursday urged outgoing governors not to see their exit from power as an opportunity to run personal businesses or sleeping for long hours.

Instead, they should see their exit from power as another opportunity to further serve the country in various capacities, using their influence for instance, to contribute to healthcare and education.

Osinbajo said at a valedictory session of the National Economic Council (NEC) in Abuja that donor agencies would be glad to work with some of the outgoing governors, especially those with records of accomplishment of healthcare provision and other humanitarian needs.

Membership of the NEC, statutorily chaired by the vice-president, comprises governors of the 36 states of the federation and select federal government officials.

The vice-president, who thanked the governors for the encomiums showered on him by various speakers at the meeting, said of Nigeria’s population of about 200 million, only 74 persons, comprising the president, vice-president, 36 governors and their deputies, were given the responsibilities of formulating policies and executing projects to improve people’s living conditions.

He sought more commitment from the governors to better the lots of the citizenry.

According to him, having led their various states for some years, the governors do not need anyone to advise them any longer on the imperative of unity or security of lives and property just as he identified the availability of food and water as the main priorities of citizens.

However, the vice-president lamented that most people dissipate energy to stoke the embers of disunity and ethnicity, advising the governors to condemn those who engage in such acts and resist them because the country does not belong to them only.

He reiterated the need for the outgoing governors to be challenged by the enormity of problems at stake and consequently use their influence as former governors, when the time comes, to contribute to continued efforts to address such problems.

He said: “In the next few years, our population will double with the attendant challenges of jobs, education, healthcare, security and infrastructure. Every nation that has moved its people from misery to prosperity has depended heavily in fact almost completely on the political elite. Our people have nowhere else to look or to go, it is as they say, at the collective table that the bulk stops.

“I should advise that you should use your influence and reach to the advantage of Nigerian people. You have seen and heard for yourselves the enormity of our national problems. Very few people have the advantage to see closely as we do, the issues that concern our country – issues that even concern our different states. We here have that unique advantage. So, I think that we can help in one way or the other; we can do something in our states and other states in a way of advocacy or action on education and healthcare in particular, and jobs.

“I think is important for those of us who have had the benefit of all of this experience and leadership not to now settle down to a life of business or perhaps of enjoyment or sleeping for eight hours. We need this time for action.”

In his speech, the outgoing Chairman of the Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF) and Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdulaziz Yari, commended the vice-president for his sterling leadership in the last four years.

He advised the council on the need to work hard, block leakages in the system and take proactive measures to expand the economy.

He also commended the federal government, which he said had done well in the agriculture sector with N200 billion spent since 2015.

However, he said if N2 trillion could be spent on oil development every year, much more should be spent on agriculture.

Yari warned that if Nigeria failed to plan for the future, the country would be sitting on a time bomb and the aftermath would be catastrophic in the next few years.

“Mr. Chairman, we have a very gigantic job and we have to start now. If other associations are doing nothing, we have to lay a foundation. Otherwise, in the next 10 to 15 years, if we did not plan properly, we will be faced with a serious problem,” Yari added.

Yari’s counterpart from Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, who spoke on behalf of South-West governors, recalled the challenges facing the states when NEC came into being in 2015.

He narrated how 27 states could not pay workers’ salaries, a trend he said led to the decision to seek bailout funds for states from the federal government, and which was promptly approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Describing the vice-president as tolerant, friendly, accommodating and a stickler for good governance and accountability, Ambode urged the next NEC to address the issue of power and steel, saying doing so will go a long way in reflating the economy.

“I want to say that this set of governors is the class that the subsequent council should emulate. With a set of team spirit and some set of freedom, we were able to talk freely and express ourselves without actually considering whether somebody was PDP or APC.

“The common objective was the economic issue that pervaded the whole country, considering the fact that we all came in when we had a backlog of salaries. I want to congratulate us because when we came in, almost about 27 states could not pay salaries and then, two subsequent meetings led to Mr. President giving us the intervention which also led to the clearing of the backlog,” the governor said.

Imo State Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha, who spoke for his South-east colleagues, suggested the need to set target as performance benchmark.

According to him, where there is no target, most people don’t feel motivated to perform, noting that the trend among governors over the years has always been that some perform well, another over-perform while others under-perform.

Spokesman of North-west governors, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State, commended the vice-president for providing the right direction to the council.

However, he expressed concern that while various decisions were taken at NEC meetings, some of them had not been implemented.

In his own submission on behalf of North-central governors, Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, said NEC in the last four years had provided economic direction for the country through an inclusive system run by the vice-president.

According to him, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has been championing moves to diversify the country’s economy to reduce its total dependence on oil.

He also called for the need to translate various NEC resolutions to action.

He said whereas security challenges had been parts of the issues addressed by the council, security still remains a challenge to the country.

But he is optimistic that the security challenge will be overcome in the end.

Also, Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shetima, while speaking on behalf of North-east governors, said the vice-president had proved himself as a man of character.

According to him, Osinbajo has exhibited the spirit of humility, robust intellectual capacity and leadership with a sense of direction.

Representative of the South-south and Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, said since the inception of the council in 2015, party affiliation had never been an issue.

According to him, the vice-president provided the platform for freedom of expression and association, saying the sense of unity in the council was unprecedented.

Emmanuel, however, advised the council on the need to invest in human capacity, saying that the problem of Nigeria is not unemployment as commonly believed, but rather human capacity development.

A former Governor of Osun State, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola, who was a guest at the meeting, said the Nigerian economy was too small compared to the nation’s huge population.

He said the issue of population explosion in the country must be addressed while efforts must be made to expand the economy.

He cited the example of Cuba, which he said usually generates as much as $50 billion annually, despite a total population of 12 million, to buttress his point on the need to correct the mismatch between the nation’s population and its revenue.

Aregbesola tasked the governors to live up to their responsibilities, saying being elected as governors shows that a huge responsibility has been thrust on their shoulders to discharge.
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