By Dipo Olowookere
African Heads of State and Government marked Africa Day in the Africa Pavilion at the UNFCCC 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22) on Friday with focused and strategic discussion on the ratification and roll out of the implementation of the Paris Agreement and the key continental initiatives to support member states’ efforts.
President Alpha Condé of the Republic of Guinea presided over the High Level gathering also attended by the Presidents of Botswana, Mr Ian Khama; Liberia, Ms Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Togo, Mr Faure Gnassingbe, Ministers from the continent, heads of Pan African Institutions; the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the Economic Commission for Africa, NEPAD Planning and Coordinating Agency and; development partners.
The Africa Day event had the dual themes of “Moving from Commitment to Action with Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs)” and “The Africa Renewable Energy Initiative: Moving Forward.”
As Climate Change is one of the greatest challenges facing the world, with Africa already experiencing some of the most severe impacts, the continent’s leaders have proactively responded with the establishment of the Committee of Africa Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) on Climate that have thus far, tremendously influenced global negotiations.
Presence of heads of state at COP22 and the Africa Day event further demonstrated the importance placed on securing the continent’s interests within the global climate governance mechanism and in defining the roadmap to reduce global temperature rise to ‘well below’ 2oC goal, considered by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as the threshold for averting dangerous changes to the climate system.
COP21 in Paris in December 2015, delivered the landmark Paris Agreement in which the Intended NDCs emerged as the game changer and primary mechanism for reducing global temperature rise. To date 46 African countries have signed the Paris Agreement and 27 out of 103 countries have ratified the Agreement that entered into force on 4th November, 2016.
Africa has seized the opportunity of COP22, dubbed the action COP, to demonstrate leadership in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, through the NDCs and in ensuring that the means of implementation, namely finance, capacity building, technology development and transfer – the cornerstones of implementation- are provided.
Beyond COP22 a critical issues is the alignment of NDCs with existing national development priorities and initiatives. Implementation will be enhanced and supported by pan- African initiatives and programmes operating through a range of partnerships, two of which are: The African Adaptation Initiative (AAI) and; the African Renewable Energy Initiative (AREI). The latter, supported by the governments of France and Germany, seeks to achieve at least 300 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity by 2020.
Emphasising the importance of energy access, President Condé noted that out of 1 billion Africans 700 million have no access to energy. “Since 2002, we have fought to ensure that production is accelerated and increased,’’ further expressing satisfaction at the funding for AREI as an indicator that Europe is taking steps to deliver on commitments for implementation.
President Konde said that Africa needs to develop on the basis of an energy mix “but we also need to develop fast, and the faster Africa has access to energy the faster Africa will develop”, he said.
AfDB President, Akinwumi Adesina said energy is the engine of Africa’s growth and development and reinforced the need for an energy mix of on and off-grid systems. “Let’s turn pledges on paper into projects on the ground. Let us together deliver success for Africa. Let us together light up and power Africa!” he urged.
“All these initiatives fit very well into our African Union Agenda 2063 where we want to have a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and commits Africa to pursue a sustainable development path where climate resilient programs play a major role while we protect our environment through renewable energy”, said Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission (AUC), Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, in a statement read on her behalf by Dr Elham Mahmoud Ahmed, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, AU Commission.
Mr Abdalla Hamdok, ECA Executive Secretary a.i, emphasised the importance of aligning Africa’s climate change initiatives with sustainable development noting that “The impacts of climate change in Africa are increasing in complexity resulting in new and emerging threats to lives and livelihoods, catalysing new migration dynamics, disasters and conflict and lost economic opportunities.”
Egypt’s Minister of Environment and President of the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN), Mohammed Fahmy, also welcomed the initiatives and encouraged good governance and transparency as the foundation of implementation.
COP21 and 22 Presidents, Segolène Royal of France and Salaheddine Mezouar of Morocco, also participated in the event. ‘This is an African COP, the biggest economies must fulfil their commitments to Africa’, said Ms Royal.
Mezouar, COP22 President said ‘Africa must and will electrify at the lowest cost’, and that the COP 22 roadmap should “respond to the issues of financing, access to electricity and capacity building to increase the success of projects….” Further emphasizing that it was time to put an end to clichés about African countries’ ability to carry out projects.
Group Laments Absence of Sign Language Interpreters at TV Stations, Hospitals
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
A former leader of the women’s wing of the Nigerian National Association of the Deaf (NNAD), Mrs Monsurat Abdulwasiu, has raised the issue of exclusion of hearing-impaired individuals, especially in major TV broadcasts.
The counsellor made the complaint to the Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, on Thursday during the 2021 annual lecture organized by the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) in partnership with the Albino Foundation and the European Union (EU).
Speaking through an interpreter on behalf of the disadvantaged, Mrs Abdulwasiu said that because many TV stations across the country do not feature sign language interpretations in their major broadcast, persons with disabilities only look at images during news hours without understanding the message.
In her words, “Only the Nigerian Television Authority, NTA, has a sign language interpreter during one of its news hours. In the other media platforms, there are no sign language interpreters. Even in the healthcare sector, no sign language in Nigerian hospitals.
“So, what happens to deaf people when they are reading news, and when they are sick and go to the hospital. Does it mean that we are not entitled to information and healthcare? The government needs to look into this.”
Responding to this, the Minister confirmed this and said he was touched by the point raised, adding that there was a need for sign interpreters during the network news and other major news belts.
Mr Mohammed then assured that he would direct all TV stations in the country, both public and private, to feature sign language interpretation in their major broadcast.
“I am going to ask the NBC to direct all our television stations to ensure that there are sign [language] interpreters in all television stations during their major news hours.
“This will not apply to only the Nigerian Television Authority. Whether public or private television stations, they must comply with the directive.
“This directive will work both ways. It means the complaint of exclusion will be tackled and the persons with disability of hearing will also be included in programs and policies of the government,” he said.
CBN to Inject Fresh N15bn into Lagos Blue Line Railway Project
By Ashemiriogwa Emmanuel
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said that another tranche of N15 billion is due for disbursement to Lagos State for the completion of the ongoing Blue Line Railway project.
This is part of the N60 billion the apex bank has earmarked for the project of which the sum of N45 billion has been disbursed to the state already.
The provision of the funding by the central bank, through select banks, is under the Differentiated Cash Reserves Requirement (DCRR) intervention to ensure Lagos State had the financial capacity for the project.
Speaking after a tour at the Marina site on Thursday, October 14, to monitor the progress of the infrastructure operated by the Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), the Director of CBN Development Finance, Mr Yusuf Philip Yila, remarked that the “progress of the job matches the funding so far.”
“The total amount we have made available for this line is N60 billion. We have disbursed N45 billion. There’s another tranche of N15 billion.
“We are confident, based on what has been shown, that progress has been made. Disbursement of the funding is being done in tranches. So, another tranche is due.
“As the central bank, we felt it is important to come and see what is on the ground and the quality of work is quite impressive,” Mr Yila disclosed.
Evaluating the work done on the site so far, he noted the job opportunities that have been opened to young Nigerians in the state through the avenue which includes welding, fabricating and others.
He said, “There are over 500 jobs on-site here, which is a good takeaway. I am happy, having met some of the people on-site and across other stations.”
FG Approves N2.5bn for Senior Citizens to Curb Poverty
By Adedapo Adesanya
The federal government has approved N2.5 billion as a take-off grant for the National Senior Citizens Centre (NSCC), the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Ms Sadiya Farouq, has disclosed.
The Minister said this at a one-day Southern Zone Stakeholders Consultation on Development of NSCC Strategic Plan on Thursday in Lagos, where she was represented by the ministry’s acting Director, Social Services, Mr Mansur Kuliya.
According to her, the money is presently being processed for disbursement to the centre and would be used to identify the strategic priorities, processes and approaches that would provide an impetus for the centre to achieve its mandate of integrating senior citizens.
The Minister said that the centre was collaborating with relevant stakeholders to brainstorm and produce ideas for the development of a 10-year strategic plan.
“This consultation indicates the commitment of the ministry, board and management of the centre to ensure full implementation of Mr President’s agenda toward the establishment of the centre.
“The ministry and the centre will ensure that the country benefits from the wisdom and wealth of experiences of the senior citizens,” she said.
The Director-General of NSCC, Mr Emem Omokaro, in his presentation, said the consultation was to inform stakeholders about the National Senior Citizens Act and its mandate.
Mr Omokaro said the Act aligns with the National Policy on Ageing and the SDGs Agenda 2030, which was the guiding document for the operations of the NSCC and the parameters of the stakeholders’ deliberation.
Corroborating this, the Minister noted that, “This consultation is also to engage stakeholders on critical issues affecting older persons; to listen to your views, context, evidence and even myths.
“It is to bring innovative solutions that will constitute actions that NSCC should consider and the means to achieve them.
“By this consultative forum, NSCC is creating and fostering an environment of collaboration in the key decision-making process.”
The Lagos State Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr Segun Dawodu, in his remarks, said Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu was committed to reducing the sufferings of older citizens in alignment with the theme policy agenda of the state.
Mr Dawodu, who was represented by Ms Caroline Inegbedion, the ministry’s Deputy Director, Correctional and Elderly Care Services, noted that the commitment was geared toward reducing the vulnerability of elders to poverty.
He said it was also to make them economically independent and improve their general well-being.
The Commissioner said plans were underway for the construction of Day Care Centre in each of the three senatorial districts, adding that the facility was at 85 per cent completion in Epe.
He noted that the state government had a functional and well-funded Old Peoples Home to take care of its vulnerable aged people with social workers, nurses, doctors and physiotherapists attached.
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