Nov 02, 2020

Opposition leaders in Ivory Coast have called for a “civilian transition” from President Alassane Ouattara’s government, as official results showed the incumbent taking a commanding early lead in his controversial bid to secure a third term in an election that has been marked by deadly violence.

Ouattara won all 20 of the districts that were announced from Saturday’s vote by the electoral commission. Results from the other 88 districts are expected to be announced later on Sunday or early Monday.

The president has been expected to win re-election after his opponents called for a boycott of the vote in protest of what they say is an illegal bid to hold onto power. Ouattara says the approval of a new constitution in 2016 means he is not violating a two-term limit.

The dispute led to violence in the lead-up to the polls that killed more than 30 people. At least five more people died in clashes on election day in the centre of the country, officials said on Sunday.

The unrest has stoked fears of a repeat of the electoral violence that had engulfed the country nearly a decade ago. The 2010 election standoff led to months of fighting that left more than 3,000 people dead after then-President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede defeat to Ouattara, the internationally recognised winner.

Opposition leader Pascal Affi N’Guessan addresses reporters in Abidjan [Luc Gnago/Reuters]

In a joint statement on Sunday, opposition candidates Henri Konan Bedie, a former president, and ex-Prime Minister Pascal Affi N’Guessan said on Sunday that about 30 people had died since Saturday, without providing details.

“Opposition parties and political groups call for the start of a civilian transition,” Affi N’Guessan told reporters, urging supporters to mobilise.

He said they rejected the election and believed Ouattara’s mandate was over, adding that fewer than 10 percent of people had turned up to vote, without providing evidence.

There are no official estimates yet of turnout, but a domestic observer mission said 23 percent of polling places did not open at all because of opposition interference that included barricading roads and threatening election staff.

Later on Sunday, the governing party warned “Affi N’Guessan and his cohorts against any attempt at destabilisation”.

Ouattara said on Saturday that the election went ahead with only isolated incidents and his party added it expected him to be declared the winner.

Scattered unrest, vandalised voting materials and some closed polling stations were reported mostly in opposition strongholds during the election.

Opposition leaders on Saturday already dismissed the election as a failure and several opposition figures, including exiled former rebel chief Guillaume Soro, announced they no longer recognised Ouattara as president.

Earlier this year, Ouattara had said after his second term he planned to make way for a new generation, but the sudden death of his chosen successor in July prompted him to seek a third term.

 

SOURCE : AL JAZEERA

Nov 02, 2020

After the recent local elections in Benin, a landslide victory for the incumbent Patrice Talon in 2021 seems inevitable

Benin has gone to the polls. Local elections were held across the country on 17 May to elect the 1,815 councillors who will lead the 77 communes for the next five years. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, almost half of registered voters cast ballots, a slightly lower turnout than in the previous elections. Opposition parties having been barred from standing in the 2019 parliamentary elections no longer played a role in this ballot.

The governing parties ‘Union Progressiste’ (UP) and ‘Bloc Républicain’ (BR) emerged as the clear winners, securing just under three quarters of votes cast. In third place came ‘Forces Cauris pour un Bénin Emergent’ (FCBE) on 15 per cent of votes, a party that had practically broken itself apart during party infighting that played out in public in the run up to the election. Its sponsor Boni Yayi, the current President Patrice Talon’s predecessor, turned his back on the party a few weeks ago citing ‘betrayal’. The modest election result stripped the FCBE of half of its seats. The other two parties that stood in the elections will not send any representatives to the councils as they failed to reach the 10 per cent threshold. This newly introduced threshold makes it impossible for groups concentrated in regional strongholds but that are unpopular nationally to win seats on local councils.

Local election results in a small African country do not usually attract international attention. Nonetheless, a recent amendment to Benin’s electoral law has lent a unique significance to this vote for the presidential elections scheduled for April 2021. In future, anyone wishing to run for this office will require at least 16 supporters, known as ‘sponsors’ – i.e. 10 per cent of all MPs in the National Assembly (83 members) and the mayors (77 incumbents).

Even if the FCBE succeeds in having its candidates elected as mayors in seven municipalities and helps build coalitions in another 17, aspiring presidential candidates will likely find it difficult to scrape together enough sponsors. The 83 MPs from the UP and BR and the hand-picked candidates for top jobs in regional and local governments stand united behind ‘their’ president. Support for a rival is unlikely to materialise.

The presidential election 2021

On top of this, the government has on past occasions successfully issued court rulings preventing vocal opponents of the president from running as candidates. It is here worth noting the case of Sebastien Adjavon, an entrepreneur who was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment for alleged cocaine smuggling. The conviction has now been overturned by the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights but has still not been revoked by Benin. Since then, he has been living in France, where he was granted political asylum a year ago.

The former Prime Minister under Boni Yayis, Lionel Zinsou, who four years ago dared to run against Patrice Talon, was sentenced for allegedly overrunning his election campaign budget last August and barred from standing for public office for five years, forcing him to drop out of the next race. Former minister Komi Koutché, who lives in exile in the United States, was sentenced in absentia to 20 years imprisonment, which will surely prevent him from running for office next year. These actions – at least some of which are legally dubious – have eliminated all notable alternatives who could have challenged the president for his job.

Signs thus point to a landslide victory for the incumbent in 2021. This will likely allow Patrice Talon to follow through with his ambitious programme of reform, which has been stymied somewhat by the economic impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic, in his second term until 2026. This also points to persistence – if the government manages to maintain social harmony and build a national consensus, which have been badly shaken recently by increasing pressure on civil liberties.

 

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In February the Angolan dance troupe Phenomenos do Semba created the viral #JerusalemaDanceChallenge video that showed off their dance moves to the South African hit song Jerusalema.

Their video is set in a backyard in Luanda, where they break into a group dance, all the while eating lunch from plates in their hands.

In the age of coronavirus, the #JerusalemaDanceChallenge video generated a counter-contagion. Almost overnight everyone from police departments in Africa to priests in Europe were posting their own Jerusalema dance videos that repeated the choreography.

The challenge videos were swept along in a message of hope condensed in the single word “Jerusalema” and amplified through an electronic beat that its creator, Johannesburg-based musician and producer Master KG, describes as “spiritual”.

Putting together this beat in November 2019, he invited South African gospel vocalist Nomcebo Zikode to interpret it lyrically. The magic isiZulu phrase “Jerusalema, ikhaya lami” (Jerusalem is my home) arose through their jamming. Then the Angolans provided an irresistible choreography, and the rest is history.

The Angolan dance routine is both just repetitive enough to be picked up and just varied enough to tease. Videos flew around the world on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook. Like the urge to dance to “the earliest Ragtime songs” described by Ishmael Reed in his novel Mumbo Jumbo, the dance challenge, too, “jes grew”.

The gift of moving collectively

So how did it “just grow”?

“We are happy to bring the joy of dance to the whole world through this marvellous dance,” (Estamos felizes por levar a alegria da dança para o mundo inteiro atraves desta dança maravilhosa) Phenomenos do Semba declare in Portuguese on their Facebook page.

What they call “alegria da dança” (the joy of the dance) can also be read as “alegropolitics” or joy pressed out from trauma and dehumanisation. Historically, enslavement, colonialism, commodification and a continuing threat to Black life brings forth Afro-Atlantic expressive culture .

This is seen from carnivals to the viral Don’t Rush Challenge, started during coronavirus lockdowns by a group of African heritage women where each dances to a hip-hop song and uses technology to “pass” a makeup brush to another.

This gift to the world is the secret of moving collectively. Not in cookie-cutter unison but through individual response to poly-rhythmic Africanist aesthetic principles that are held together by a master-structure. Dancing in this way is resistance, incorporating kinetic and rhythmic principles that circulated initially around the Atlantic rim (including the Americas, Europe, the Caribbean and Africa). It connects and revitalises by enacting an embodied memory of resistance to enslavement.

The Jerusalema dance challenge is an example of how dance enables convivencia (living together). It is a line dance (animation in French, animação in Portuguese, animación in Spanish) that enlivens parties through simple choreography that makes people dance together. Routines involve directional movement enabled by switching of feet, with dancers turning 90 degrees to repeat the choreography. Syncopated steps create enjoyable tension, and more and more people can join as the routine repeats itself till the song ends.

Viral African line dances

Many internet-driven line dances have emerged in response to songs such as Jerusalema. Created by popular music producers in Africa, they are often operating with limited resources and responding to national music trends that also have a pan-continental appeal. Think of Ghanaian azonto, Nigerian Afro-beat; Angolan kuduro; South African house.

The dances that develop from the music start out local but can spread from country to country. Choreographies to Ghanaian azonto hits, for example, are taught by dance instructors from Accra when they’re visiting dance clubs in Cotonou in Benin – as I experienced during years of dance research in West Africa.

The official Jerusalema video, viewed over 200 million times to date.

Videos shared via WhatsApp also enable such “urban” dance styles to jump borders. This is how a member of Phenomenos do Semba received a sample of Jerusalema from South African friends and shared it with his team. According to group leader Adilson Maiza, they loved it as soon as they heard it. To create a line dance choreography to a song from Johannesburg, these dancers from Luanda dipped freely into the vast reservoir of different African accents of dancing to Afro-beat music.

Angola’s rich dance culture

These accents include their own. Angola’s rich social dance culture has gone global through the couple dances kizomba and the more upbeat semba. A DJ will periodically break up dancing couples with a track that unites the crowd through line dance routines that gesture to the Angolan music and dance style kuduro: hyper-exaggerated, angular, dexterous, sardonic. Kuduro steps are hard. To make the routines easier to pick up, they’re mixed with generic Afro-beat dance steps.

Maiza asserts that the Jerusalema choreography mixes kuduro and Afro-beat. Others in the Angolan dance scene disagree, pointing to videos of South African pantsula and kwaito that reveal similar footwork. Master KG himself declared that what the Angolan group made viral was a South African dance style popular at celebrations. Citing him, magazine Novo Jornal observes that the Jerusalema choreography nonetheless transmits an undeniable Angolan touch. It’s what Maiza interprets as signature “ginga e banga Angolana” (Angolan sway and swag).

Ginga, banga, kizomba, semba, kuduro: all Angolan words for dance styles and attitudes that, like line dances, emerge from long circum-Atlantic conversations. Line dances criss-cross the Atlantic, complicating the line between recognition and appropriation. The Danza Kuduro dance was set to a Spanish-language song responding to a Puerto Rican hit. There was the Macarena dance (Spain and Venezuela) and the Electric Slide (US and Jamaica).

A way to build community

Instead of understanding the Jerusalema dance challenge as an intra-African phenomenon, it’s maybe more useful to understand it in terms of ongoing creolisation processes – a mixing of cultures – that spiral around the Atlantic rim. Multi-directional, unpredictable, but always innovative, creolisation is the motor of the “alegropolitics” of African-heritage music and dance. If the Angolan video popularised the South African anthem, this is a collaborative and competitive creolising phenomenon.

As Phenomenos do Semba morph effortlessly from eating together to dancing together, they draw on deep and resonant reservoirs of Afro-Atlantic survival through joy. The dancers’ hangout is the Angolan quintal or backyard, a hub of activity during long, curfewed nights of unending civil war. However, they are eating cachupa, a typical Cape Verdean dish frequently used as a symbol for creolisation.

Like the revival of line dances during the Black Lives Matter protests, Jerusalema went viral during the coronavirus pandemic because the dance challenge enacted a simple way to connect and build community: especially at a time when people were hungering for these possibilities.

A South African singer’s call, “Zuhambe nami” (join me) was realised through an Angolan dance group’s brainwave to use cachupa to demonstrate that, in Maiza’s words:

It is possible to be happy with little: we party with very little. (É possível ser feliz mesmo com pouco: com pouco fizemos a nossa festa.)

And, with just the resources of the body, the locked-down world partied too, for the duration of the dance.

Obrigada to Nikolett Hamvas, Adilson Maiza, Rui Djassi Moracén.The Conversation

 

Ananya Jahanara Kabir, Professor of English Literature, King's College London

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Being a commercial landlord in a post pandemic world poses the challenge of how to provide occupants with secure, sustainable, and flexible spaces.

Raghmah Solomon – founder, and female pioneer behind Vortex Design Solutions – uses great design to re-imagine spaces in innovative ways, making buildings more attractive to potential tenants and helping landlords win the race to fill their space.

Here Are Raghmah’s Top Tips on how to win the race to fill your space:

Speak to Your Tenants

Asking your tenants monthly for their feedback on what they love about your property and where you could improve is paramount to creating lasting relationships and retaining long-term tenants. Their feedback will give you a great idea of whether you are fulfilling your role as a landlord well and if anyone is planning to leave your building.

List All the Features of Your Building

When you list the features of your space in advertising, make sure to list them all, to give potential tenants a solid understanding of the value your space offers them. Wi-Fi facilities, parking, back-up generators, meeting rooms and how close the space is to schools, universities, and shops, all help to broaden the scope of your potential customers.

Unconventional Features Are Valuable

In general, air quality, light, and space are the three main components that tenants look for and will make your building more attractive.How you handle a maintenance request, who currently occupies the space, sustainability concerns such as LED lighting and maintaining plants to improve the building’s air quality, are all valuable features to tenants.

Speak to Your Designer

Designers often spend the most time with the client, learning their needs, their tastes, their dislikes and what they value the most in the design. They also spend time with building contractors and engineers, to make sure that all the needs of their clients are being taken care of from the beginning. The location of power outlets, the type of fire and air conditioning systems and how to redesign for maximum sustainability are a good designer's chief concerns.

Invest in Good Quality Materials

With commercial spaces now having to comply with strict sanitizing laws, it is important that any materials used can withstand regular rigorous cleaning with minimal deterioration.

Analyse Your Space

Post-Covid, all the materials chosen for a space must prioritise hygiene and sustainability. The look of the products that simulate the ‘real-deal’ surfaces, such as timber or marble, have increased in quality to such a degree, that often you would need to touch them to know the difference. They are often longer lasting and easier to clean.

Space Fitout Plans

Embrace Minimal Layouts

Exclude excessive décor items where dust can collect and hang art to create interest instead. Taking a simplistic approach will create a clean and calming environment that still provides visual interest.

Use Closed Cupboards

Due to our increased concern over germs and bacteria, all open shelves need to have doors to limit the settling of germs and collection of dust.

Holistically Implement Covid Protection Protocols

Sanitizing stations, touch access panels, and everyone wearing a mask must be ensured throughout the building through a collaboration between tenants and landlords. From the time the tenant enters the building, through all staircases, lobbies, and common areas up until they reach their tenancy doors, every clean building measure must be clear and standard for both parties.

As a landlord, the layout of your building has a large impact on your occupancy rate. And higher occupancy rates that are stable over a longer period are what determines a healthy bottom line. Spaces need interior fitting plans that are functional, flexible and above all, safe for all your tenants.

In many ways, running a building is like running a business and you need to constantly monitor how your decisions and tenant fit-out’s will affect the other tenants to make sound, holistic decisions to ensure the longevity of the building, its efficacy and its functionality as a whole.

It has been nine months since the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak of COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, a “public health emergency of international concern”.

Since then, more than 44 million cases have been recorded and over one million lives lost. Economic costs measure in trillions of dollars. Global recovery will take years.

A safe, effective COVID-19 vaccine is expected to be developed in record time and may be approved for production, distribution and acceptance some time in 2021. Public health experts say that at least 70% of any community must get vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine to achieve an acceptable level of immunity to protect its members.

We recently surveyed 13,426 people in 19 countries. We included two of Africa’s most populous and visible nations, Nigeria and South Africa, which are among the most affected by COVID-19 on the continent.

Overall, we found that 71.5% of participants said they would take a “proven safe and effective vaccine” while 14% would refuse it outright. An additional 14% said they would hesitate to take the vaccine.

But that average figure is deceptive. It was raised by favourable responses from two Asian countries that also recorded very high trust in government health recommendations. More than 80% of Chinese respondents and 75% of South Koreans said they would accept a vaccine. South Africans came closer than any other country to the 70% standard, at almost 65%. But only 46.3% of Nigerians said they would do so. This is slightly higher than the results we found in Spain, Sweden, Poland, Brazil and Ecuador.

Hesitancy

These vaccine hesitant people are not necessarily vaccine opponents. A large number of them consistently vaccinate their children against numerous childhood diseases. However, it must be noted that the increasingly well-coordinated global anti-vaccine movement has repurposed itself to challenge the very reality of COVID-19 as well as the usefulness of a new vaccine to prevent it. They have leveraged social media platforms to promote these doubts.

We also tried to determine how much trust people would have in a COVID-19 vaccine if their employer recommended it. Just more than three in five (61.4%) of all our respondents said they would do so. The numbers dropped to less than half of South Africans (46%) and Nigerians (44%).

Our data confirms a troubling trend towards vaccine hesitancy that has been found in other global and national studies. Professor Heidi Larson, a co-author of our paper, and her team at the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine recently reported on trends in vaccine confidence observed across 149 countries between 2015 and 2019. They found that political instability and religious extremism were critical factors in declining vaccine confidence in many of these countries.

Recent political unrest in Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country with over 200 million people, does not bode well for a successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign there. Only South Africa and Ethiopia have recorded more COVID-19 cases on the continent.

Many public health workers also recall a massive boycott against polio vaccination in northern Nigeria. It was caused by a single rumour, and not an adverse event. This boycott led to the years of more polio infections and deaths in Nigeria, and delayed polio eradication from the continent as a whole.

So what must be done to get on track for a successful African vaccination programme against COVID-19?

Moving forward

As scientists, we should help health leaders to prepare now with education and dialogue to set appropriate expectations for when a coronavirus vaccine may be available. We need to build vaccine literacy with effective communication and community engagement for acceptance country by country, village by village, taking into account community-specific issues, concerns or misconceptions and working with local religious and civil leaders and influencers.

We also need to help people become more fluent about vaccinations: Are they safe? Will they protect me and my family? Do I need to be vaccinated to be able to work? Will everyone be able to get it? Will vaccination sterilise me or my kids?

And we must be realistic that none of this information and advocacy will truly convince people to accept COVID-19 vaccination, or any other, in the absence of genuine societal trust. Without mutual trust, we may not be able to rebuild economies and return to anything approaching “normal” life.

It would be tragic if we developed, made and distributed safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines and people refused to take them, when health infrastructure and equipment levels cannot stem the pandemic.

Two authors of this study, Drs. Ratzan and Larson, are co-leaders of a recently launched global coalition – CONVINCE [COVID-19 New Vaccine Information Communication and Engagement]. This initiative is spearheaded by the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health, the Vaccine Confidence Project of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Wilton Park, a part of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. A number of African public health leaders have already joined it.The Conversation

Scott C. Ratzan, Distinguished Lecturer, , CUNY Graduate Center; Agnes Binagwaho, Vice Chancellor, University of Global Health Equity; Heidi Larson, Senior Lecturer in Epidemiology & Population Health, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine; Jeffrey V Lazarus, Associate Research Professor, Instituto de Salud Global de Barcelona (ISGlobal); Kenneth Rabin, Senior Scholar, CUNY Graduate Center, and Lawrence O. Gostin, University Professor; Founding Linda D. & Timothy J. O’Neill Professor of Global Health Law, Georgetown University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Oct 29, 2020

The appointment of Nigeria's ex-finance minister to lead the World Trade Organization (WTO) has been thrown into doubt after the US opposed the move.

On Wednesday, a WTO nominations committee recommended the group's 164 members appoint Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.

She would be the first woman and first African to lead the WTO.

But the US, critical of the WTO's handling of global trade, wants another woman, South Korea's Yoo Myung-hee, saying she could reform the body.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala said she was "immensely humbled" to be nominated.

But the four-month selection process to find the next WTO director-general hit a road block when Washington said it would continue to back South Korea's trade minister.

In a statement critical of the WTO, the Office of the US Trade Representative, which advises President Donald Trump on trade policy, said the organisation "must be led by someone with real, hands-on experience in the field".

Ms Yoo had "distinguished herself" as a trade expert and "has all the skills necessary to be an effective leader of the organisation", the statement said.

It added: "This is a very difficult time for the WTO and international trade. There have been no multilateral tariff negotiations in 25 years, the dispute settlement system has gotten out of control, and too few members fulfill basic transparency obligations. The WTO is badly in need of major reform."

The statement did not mention Ms Okonjo-Iweala.

Earlier on Wednesday, after a WTO delegates meeting to discuss the appointment, spokesman Keith Rockwell said just one member country did not support Ms Okonjo-Iweala.

"All of the delegations that expressed their views today expressed very strong support for the process... for the outcome. Except for one," he said.

'Frenzied activity'

Mr Trump has described the WTO as "horrible" and biased towards China, and some appointments to key roles in the organisation have already been blocked.

The WTO has called a meeting for 9 November - after the US presidential election - to discuss the issue. US opposition does not mean the Nigerian cannot be appointed, but Washington could nevertheless wield considerable influence over the final decision.

Mr Rockwell told reporters there was likely to be "frenzied activity" to secure a consensus for Ms Okonjo-Iweala's appointment. She has the support of the European Union.

The leadership void was created after outgoing WTO chief Roberto Azevedo stepped down a year early in August. The WTO is currently being steered by four deputies.

Ms Okonjo-Iweala, 66, served as her country's first female finance and foreign minister and has a 25-year career behind her as a development economist at the World Bank..

She also serves on Twitter's board of directors, as chair of the GAVI vaccine alliance and as a special envoy for the World Health Organisation's Covid-19 fight.

If Ms Okonjo-Iweala is eventually appointed she will have a full in-tray. The WTO is already grappling with stalled trade talks and tensions between the US and China.

Earlier this month she said that her broad experience in championing reform made her the right person to help put the WTO back on track. "I am a reform candidate and I think the WTO needs the reform credentials and skills now.

 

Credit: BBC

Oct 28, 2020

Cell C is in the process of moving entirely onto MTN’s network, which will result in the company switching off its radio access network.

This infrastructure sharing strategy will help Cell C to cut down on network investments and still get the benefit from an excellent service through MTN.

This will be the first time that a South African mobile operator shuts down its radio network, which raises questions as to what will happen with its equipment and spectrum.

Cell C CEO Douglas Craigie Stevenson told MyBroadband some of their radio network equipment will be sold, which will generate money for the company.

There are also components of its radio network which are leased, which will be given back to the companies it leases it from.

He added that MTN will not use any of Cell C’s current radio equipment to offer services to Cell C.

“As Cell C deconstructs its network over the transition period, traffic will be moved from our physical radio network to the virtual radio network provisioned for us by MTN,” he said.

One of the big questions is what will happen to Cell C’s spectrum, especially after Telkom lodged a complaint about Vodacom and Rain’s network arrangement.

Craigie Stevenson said their spectrum will be used “by Cell C on the new virtual network that MTN is providing”.

He made it clear that they are still in full control of their spectrum and are using it to support their customer base.

Cell C is not an MVNO

With Cell C switching off its full radio network and moving to “a virtual network provided by MTN”, many people view it as a super MVNO (mobile virtual network operator).

Craigie Stevenson dismissed this view, saying apart from not having a radio access network, they remain a fully-fledged mobile operator.

He said Cell C will still maintain a core network and can still choose to increase or decrease its coverage footprint.

It also has control over network quality, it remains a spectrum license holder, and controls its network investment.

Cell C will keep its voice interconnect agreements with other operators and hold on to its number range.

The image below provides an overview of the difference between Cell C and an MVNO.

 

 

 

Read More: MyBroadband

Oct 28, 2020

A Nigerian company E.F. Network Ltd, has developed a mobile application that can make a device unusable by thieves, to curb theft or resale of mobile phones and other gadgets in the country.

Mr Ameh Ochojila, the company's public relations officer said this in a statement on Tuesday, in Abuja.

Ochojila, said that the application named 'ephonetaxi' will help provide solution to the growing number of stolen phones in the country and across the globe.

"The application 'ephonetaxi' helps to lock out anyone who is unauthorised to use the phone, making it unusable and unsellable," he said.

According to him, the application is designed to protect phone owners and the information stored on their phones from being compromised in the event of a phone theft.

"The application helps retrieve and send the user's stored contents to his email.

"It also locks the phone, prevents either unauthorised access to stored pictures, videos, messages, or contacts of the phone owner.

"The app alerts the phone owner of any change in SIM card, monitors, and tracks the phone location including taking pictures of criminals in possession of the phone and sending the pictures to the email address of the owner," he said.

Ochojila added: "The owner can do all these remotely in spite of the phone being lost or stolen. 

"Once a phone is locked remotely by the owner, buying it will be a mere waste of money."

The technical manager of the company, Mr Kelvin Raymond said that the application could also be used to trace kidnappers as it can reveal real-time location of mobile phones.

Mr Gideon Egbuchulam, Chairman of the company said that the application was one of the application lined up by the company to meet technical and software needs of Nigerians.

Egbuchulam said that the company had opened an incubation centre in Abuja where he planned to recruit brilliant young Nigerian Information Technology (IT) professionals.

"Given enabling environment, Nigerian youths will take Nigeria to the next Silicon Valley in Africa.

"Almost all giant tech companies in the world are interested in the Nigerian market and that is the reason our company is recruiting over 1000 people by the end of 2020 to support talented youths," he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that available data showed that in 2016 alone, over 400,000 phones were stolen in the UK, with a good number of them shipped abroad for resale.

The data also showed that many of the stolen phones were first sold to criminal gangs who tried to access them for information that could be used to hack bank accounts of their owners, before selling them to end users.

 

(NAN)

 
 
Oct 28, 2020

About 29 million Tanzanians head to the polls on Wednesday to elect new leaders with the world watching the big race pitting the opposition's Tundu Lissu against President John Magufuli.

In his address to the nation on Tuesday, President Magufuli urged Tanzanians to turn out in large numbers to exercise their democratic right, despite the arrest of opposition politicians in Zanzibar.

"Our campaigns have been conducted in an environment of peace and tranquillity," said the President. "Our security agencies did a commendable job," he added.

In Zanzibar, the main opposition party said Tuesday three people had been killed by police on the archipelago's island of Pemba, as clashes erupted ahead of Tanzania's elections.

Police fired teargas and live rounds, and brutally beat a young man in the opposition stronghold of Garagara as security forces began voting a day before presidential and parliamentary elections.

The opposition believes the special day of early voting is a ploy to steal the election on an island with a history of contested polls, and vowed they would try and vote on the same day.

Violence erupted on Pemba, an opposition stronghold, as the army distributed ballots which opposition supporters believed were pre-marked.

"Verified reports from Pemba in Zanzibar indicate that three citizens have been shot dead by the police using live ammunition," read a statement from the opposition ACT-Wazalendo (Alliance for Change and Transparency) party.

However, police dismissed the allegations. "We have not received any reports about such deaths and we do not expect anything of that nature," Inspector-General of Police Simon Sirro told reporters.

Speaking in Dar es Salaam, he said police were holding 42 people in Zanzibar over allegations of attacking officers distributing ballot boxes.

African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat pleaded for peace and called for credible and inclusive elections. 

"The chairperson calls for all stakeholders, political parties and their supporters to participate in the voting process peacefully and refrain from any acts of violence. He further urges the authorities to ensure a conducive environment to enable citizens to cast their votes in a safe and peaceful manner," Mr Faki's spokesperson said in a statement.

Former Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan will lead a team of observers from the AU, while ex-Burundi President Sylvestre Ntibantunganya will lead 59 monitors from the East African Community.

The EAC will deploy teams in Dar es Salaam, Tanga, Lindi, Mtwara, Dodoma, Mbeya, Kigoma, Singida, Kilimanjaro, Morogoro and Mwanza regions and Zanzibar's twin Islands of Pemba and Unguja.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi has been in existence, and in power, since 1977, becoming Africa's second-longest ruling party. Although there are 15 presidential candidates this time, President Magufuli's strongest challenge comes from Lissu, even though he is expected to be re-elected.

But some observers have already found the electoral process skewed in favour of the CCM. "It is difficult to guarantee electoral justice in Tanzania in light of the prevailing legal and constitutional framework and context," the Tanzania Elections Watch,a virtual group of experts on the polls co-chaired by former Chief Justice Willy Mutunga and Ugandan legal experts, Frederick Ssempebwa and Ms Alice Mogwe, said.

"Ensuring electoral justice will require significant constitutional and legal reforms for which there has so far been no political will to embark on." Ahead of the polls, the government has been accused of either passing laws that impede fairness or retaining policies that favour CCM.

The National Electoral Commission (NEC) has a final say on presidential election results and no court challenge is allowed.

"It is not to say that an election becomes free and fair because of the positive comments of the observers. We do not think this election will be free and fair, not even if the opposition wins, against all odds. What we need are conditions of good governance in the entire election season," Prof Ssempebwa said on Thursday.

The NEC has accredited some 96 local and foreign organisations eligible for observer status, but it excludes major players like the Catholic Church and rights watch groups.

This will be first exercise since multiparty democracy with no support from the UNDP, after Dar refused to admit an assessment mission from the global agency.

"When we shut down political space, when we shut down civil space, we risk delegitimising those who govern us," argued Donald Deya, the CEO of the Pan-African Lawyers Union, warning the restrictions could fuel violence.

 

Source: East African

Trade routes have been significantly disrupted this year in efforts to contain COVID-19. The effects of this are already showing: global growth is set to contract by 4.9% and growth in sub-Saharan Africa will contract by 3.2%.

This will get worse if continued restrictions further impede trade. The World Trade Organisation has warned that at worst, global trade could collapse by a third this year, and at best, it will contract by 13%, similar to the recorded drop after the 2009 financial crisis.

This has fundamental consequences – both direct and indirect – for many. For instance, within the first few weeks in March when some trade routes were initially suspended, flower exports from Kenya to the European Union fell by 50%, affecting around a million people.

Trade enables formal firms to flourish, which will be essential for economic recovery. It also protects the urban poor operating in the informal economy against poverty and hunger. The continuation of trade is even more essential for their survival as they operate without an adequate safety net.

Restricting trade also affects supply and prices. Import disruptions have resulted in shortages, including food, and prices have spiked. This has brought economic hardship to small traders and consumers across the continent.

In the current economic climate, trade is not a luxury that can be temporarily avoided. In Africa, there’s a growing body of evidence showing that firms – from large to very small – have been severely affected by restrictions in the movement of goods and people. For many this means not only losing a livelihood, but a direct impact on their ability to meet basic needs.

Economic impact on formal firms

A study of formal firms in Uganda found that exports fell by 57% at the start of its lockdown, compared to a year earlier. It also found that imports, which these firms rely on to produce, fell by 43%.

The researchers of the study simulated what would happen with continued import reductions of this magnitude. The results were devastating: 6.6% of all formal firms in the Ugandan economy would likely have to close, resulting in a reduction of formal employment by 4.7%.

Fortunately, the Ugandan government ensured trade could continue throughout lockdown. Exports and imports started to rebound relatively quickly.

The impact of slower trade has also been tracked in Ethiopia, where a survey of firms showed that trade disruptions affected a fifth of small, medium, and large firms due to a lower supply of raw materials and intermediate goods, as well as the restricted movement of workers.

The importance of the role played by formal firms can’t be overstated. Evidence suggests that in sub-Saharan Africa the labour productivity of formal firms is four times higher than that of informal firms. This is because formal firms are able to scale and specialise in a way that informal operations cannot. In addition, across the continent, taxes on incomes, profits and capital gains accounted for around 25% of all national tax revenues.

But smaller informal firms will have an equally crucial role to play in the recovery.

Urban informal sector

In developing cities, most firms operate in the informal sector, accounting for more than 66% of employment across the continent.

A 2016 census of informal firms in the Greater Kampala area showed that informal firms were very small: about 60% have only one employee and 70% have an annual turnover of UGX 10 million (US$2,700) or less. Over 90% of micro firms were operating close to, or at, the poverty line.

The challenge for the poorest of these firms operating in cities is that the majority of their income is used to buy food in urban markets. Therefore, trade is not only a question of economic activity, but more importantly of survival. It is also why the urban poor are the hardest hit by lockdown measures.

Evidence from a small-scale trader survey in Lagos showed that during the lockdown, most firms were making zero revenue. And these effects seem to be persistent: in Sierra Leone, for example, where the economy has reopened, profits for these firms are still nearly 50% lower than pre-lockdown levels.

In Uganda, which has by some estimates already eroded nearly 10 years of gains in poverty reduction efforts, the sharpest spike in poverty levels to date was in the capital city, Kampala. It is also why there have been increases in hunger and malnutrition across the country.

Uganda is not alone: simulations of an eight-week lockdown across Africa show that eight million people, including 3.9 million children under five years, would be severely food deprived.

Trade is not a luxury

Rethinking global guidelines on handling pandemics is not an easy task given that the contexts to which they will be applied are extremely diverse. Perhaps the most efficient guidelines will be those that allow for targeted, data-driven, flexible and localised approaches.

Understandably, however, during this pandemic and for future ones, much of the world also looks for global standards set by bodies like the World Health Orgnisation. But when setting these standards it is important to remember that for many, health versus the economy is a false dichotomy. Rather, for many in poor urban areas, trade is not only a means of making ends meet, but of avoiding the trap of poverty and hunger. Nikita Sharma, the Managing Editor for the IGC, also contributed to this articleThe Conversation

 

Astrid R.N. Haas, Policy Director, International Growth Centre and Victoria Delbridge, Head of the Cities that Work initiative, International Growth Centre

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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