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Ethiopia: Dams, Plantations Threat to Kenyans

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By Dipo Olowookere

Dropping water levels in Kenya’s Lake Turkana following the development of dams and plantations in Ethiopia’s lower Omo Valley threaten the livelihoods of half a million indigenous people in Ethiopia and Kenya, Human Rights Watch said today.

Based on publicly available data from the United States Department of Agriculture, Lake Turkana’s water levels have dropped by approximately 1.5 meters since January 2015, and further reduction is likely without urgent efforts to mitigate the impact of Ethiopia’s actions.

Human Rights Watch research based on satellite imagery shows that the drop is already affecting the shoreline of the lake, which has receded as much as 1.7 kilometers in Ferguson Gulf since November 2014. The Gulf is a critical fish breeding area, and a key fishing ground for the indigenous Turkana people.

“The predicted drop in the lake levels will seriously affect food supplies in the Omo Valley and Lake Turkana, which provide the livelihoods for half a million people in both Kenya and Ethiopia,” said Felix Horne, senior Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Ethiopian government’s moves to develop its resources should not endanger the survival of indigenous people living downstream.”

In 2015, the reservoir behind the new Gibe III dam in Ethiopia began filling. Water that previously flowed unimpeded into Lake Turkana, replenishing seasonal drops in lake levels, has since been held behind the Gibe III dam.

In 2015, the annual July-November flood from the Omo River into Lake Turkana did not occur, resulting in a drop of water levels of 1.3 meters from November 2014.

The very limited artificial release of water from Gibe III in 2016 was not enough to replenish water levels in Lake Turkana. As of January 30, 2017, lake levels were approximately 1.5 meters lower than they were two years earlier according to the data.

People living in fishing communities along Lake Turkana who spoke to Human Rights Watch in August 2016, were generally aware of the risks posed by Gibe III but largely uninformed about the plantations and the devastating impact they could have on their livelihoods.

When Human Rights Watch visited communities around Ferguson Gulf on the western lake shores that month, local residents had noticed changes from previous years in the lake levels.

People who depend on fishing for their livelihood said that their daily catch has been reduced. One 50-year-old woman living near Lake Turkana told Human Rights Watch in August 2016: “It has been difficult these days…the main issue has been hunger.

There is reduced water in the lake.” While multiple factors contribute to the decline, including overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices, a further drop in lake levels will most likely reduce catches even further.

The Kenyan government has done little to address the impact from Ethiopia’s Omo Valley development, or to press Ethiopia to take steps to mitigate the damage and to consult with and inform affected communities about the impact of the project.

The governments of Kenya and Ethiopia should urgently work with these communities to ensure upstream industrial works does not devastate their livelihoods, Human Rights Watch said.

In addition to the industrial developments in lower Omo, climate change is exacerbating the already significant problems the Turkana people face in getting sufficient food and water, and maintaining their health and security.

“The Ethiopian government has shown scant regard for the lives and livelihoods of already marginalized communities who are reliant on the Omo River and Lake Turkana for their livelihoods,” Horne said. “In its rush to develop its resources it has not developed strategies to minimize the impact on those living downstream.”

Ethiopia’s Gibe III dam, which opened on December 17, 2016, is a key component of a massive industrial project in the lower Omo Valley that includes a cascade of water-intensive mega dams, and sugar and cotton plantations.

The sugar plantations have been under development in the Omo Valley since 2011. Based on Human Rights Watch estimates derived from satellite imagery, approximately 19,500 hectares of land has been cleared on the east bank of the river for sugar plantation development.

An additional 10,500 hectares has been prepared for irrigation on the west bank. The sugar plantations are planned to be 100,000 hectares. According to the Ethiopian Sugar Corporation, the first of the four sugar processing factories should be ready to begin production in early 2017.

In Ethiopia, livelihoods of those living in the Omo Valley depend on cattle grazing and planting crops in the rich alluvial soil along the banks of the Omo River. This alluvial soil is replenished by the annual flood, which deposits water and nutrient rich sediment along the banks. A lack of floods in 2015 and an inadequate artificial flood in 2016 are making it more difficult to grow food along the Omo River.

Some communities have also reported restricted access to the Omo River and food shortages in 2016.

Furthermore, the plantations necessitate clearing of land used by agro-pastoral indigenous groups including the Bodi and the Mursi. The Bodi have been the most heavily affected, with a significant area of their land cleared.

“The projections of the water drawdown on Lake Turkana, routinely rubbished by Ethiopia’s government, are coming true and lake levels have started dropping,” Horne said. “This should serve as a warning about what could happen if the Ethiopian government continues to ignore the needs of downstream communities in its rush to develop its resources.”

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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Google Earmarks $25m for Women Empowerment in Africa

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poor Kano women

By Ahmed Rahma

The charitable arm of a tech giant, Google, has called on non-profit organisations and social enterprises creating pathways to prosperity for girls and women to apply for mentorship and support from its company as well as up to $2m in funding.

The company made the call to tackle gender inequality in line with the International Women’s Day celebration, celebrated all over the world today.

The Impact Challenge for Women and Girls will commit $25 million to fund organisations that are “creating pathways to prosperity for women and girls”, the tech giant said.

Google.org’s president, Jacquelline Fuller, said the COVID-19 crisis has been “particularly devastating” to women.

According to a report, last week by PwC’s Women in Work Index, progress for women in work could be back to 2017 levels by the end of this year due to the impact of the pandemic.

Fuller said the new challenge is an opportunity to go out in the world and find the best ideas on how to advance economic opportunities for women and girls.

“We want to understand what you think could be the real inflection point along some of these pathways,” she said.

“Google is going to come alongside those winners and provide resources, which we know is what non-profits and social enterprises need the most.”

The chosen organisations will receive funding of between $300,000 and $2 million as well as technical expertise from Google employees.

To be part of the challenge, the company stated that the four areas of focus for applicants are how their idea can help women, how innovative the idea is, how feasible or realistic it is, and whether or not the idea is scalable.

“We are looking for ideas that are grounded in reality, do have a solid track record, but are innovative, new ideas that are really scalable,” said Fuller.

“We also want to make sure that we’re really leaning into equity on this project. We’re really looking for how we [can] help women and girls who are most disadvantaged.”

Applications will be judged by an expert panel that includes the first US national youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchú Tum and former Irish President Mary Robinson.

“We have a full range of people who understand what it takes to be successful,” said Fuller.

It further disclosed that applications are open for organisations around the world from today (March 8) till Friday, April 9 and selected organisations will be announced later in 2021.

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OML 110: BUA Group to Sue Kainos Exploration MD

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BUA Group crash prices of food items

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The management of BUA Group has threatened to file a suit against the Managing Director of Kainos Exploration and Production, Mr James Onyejekwe.

The conglomerates said it was taking this action over the alleged involvement of Mr Onyejekwe in a publication that claimed the organisation was involved in a $20 million scandal.

A statement issued by the firm lamented that the report was a “clear intent to impugn the integrity and reputation of BUA Group and its Chairman, Mr Abdul Samad Rabiu.”

“BUA takes its reputation seriously and we will continue to do everything to protect it from anyone and any entity who obstructs our mandate to conduct business in a proper, legal and socially-responsible manner.

“BUA will, therefore, utilise its legal and human resources to resist every campaign of defamation and distraction,” the statement further said.

The company, which trades the shares of its cement subsidiary on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), said it discovered that Mr Onyejekwe was behind the news story on the internet after an “independent investigation.”

“We have, therefore, instructed our legal team to immediately commence criminal defamation proceedings against the person of Mr James Onyejekwe who is the said originator of the malicious letter fraudulently attributed to Cavendish Petroleum against our person, with damages,” the statement seen by Business Post noted.

BUA explained that, “We deem these actions necessary, in order to protect the name and reputation of BUA Group.”

“We see no reason why Mr James Onyejekwe of Kainos Exploration and Processing would single out BUA in a supposed business dispute which had no link to the BUA Group in its entirety.

“Therefore, BUA finds it absurd that Mr Onyejekwe or anyone else will decide to drag BUA into their issues and/or put out such a malicious and defamatory statement, fraudulently using the name of Cavendish/Mr Mai Deribe without recourse to the truth, facts, decorum or decency,” it added.

The company described the news report bordering allegations of corruption as “false, malicious and spurious.”

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IWD: Access Bank Plans Chat on Workplace Stereotypes, Gender Balance

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Access Bank Dividend

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

Thursday, March 11, 2021, has been fixed by Access Bank Plc for a Fireside Chat on workplace stereotypes, gender balance, amongst others.

This is in commemoration of International Women’s Day. The event, themed Take the Center Stage: Speak Up!, is being organised by the W Initiative of Access Bank Plc.

A statement from the lender disclosed that it hopes to analyse and offer solutions to how women can maintain assertiveness in the workplace, own their voice as well as identify and handle imposter syndrome.

Other conversation areas include the importance of flexible work environments in encouraging engagement and retention for women in the workplace and leveraging intersectionality in the workplace.

Amongst the confirmed speakers and panellists for the event are Aisha Ahmad, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN); Dr Dere Awosika, Chairman, Access Bank Plc; Pearl Uzokwe, Director for Governance & Sustainability, Sahara Group Limited; Adenike Adebola, Marketing Director, Guinness; Rabi Adetoro, Senior Manager, Talent and Career Management, MTN Nigeria, and Folake Adeniyi Adeleye, Int’l HR Leader, Certified Executive Coach, Founder, Coachivate.

Interested participants can join the virtual conversation at 11am on Thursday using the link: https://thewcommunity.com/international-womens-day-2021/.

Speaking ahead of the event, the Group Head, W Initiative at Access Bank, Ms Ayona Trimnell, stressed the need for “increased discussions about real challenges that affect women in the workplace.”

“The peculiarities of the global community today means that we are awakened to the successes women can achieve given the right systems and platforms for expression.

“We are also aware of the gaps and stereotypes that need to be challenged if we are to achieve the ultimate goal of this month’s commemoration – gender balance and equality.”

“Women daily are seen through the lens of stereotypes that exist in the society, marketplace, in the government, corporate organisations, to name a few.

“Hence to achieve our objectives as women, we need to champion conversations that will cause changes in the various spheres of the society.

“At Access Bank, we do not only support women but also promote safe spaces for conversations that will further improve lives and the forthcoming Fireside chat is a testament to this fact.

“We look forward to hosting remarkable women across all walks of life to discuss the best way to chart a course for change,” she concluded.

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Buhari Praises Yemi Osinbajo at 64

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Buhari Osinbajo

By Ahmed Rahma

President Muhammadu Buhari has commended the Vice President, Mr Yemi Osinbajo, for being a patient and cooperative politician.

The President’s spokesman, Mr Garba Shehu, in a statement in Abuja on Sunday, stated that the President described his vice as “a reliable and dedicated deputy, who is not only admirably competent but also exudes confidence and passion in the performance of his job.”

In a message to celebrate the Vice President on his 64th birthday on Monday, the President was further quoted as saying, “I’m proud to have selected Osinbajo as my running mate, and he has given a good account of himself since our journey began in 2015.”

According to him, Mr Osinbajo is a cool-headed gentleman who puts Nigeria’s interest above other narrow considerations.

“Vice President Osinbajo is an incredibly patient politician, who demonstrates remarkable intellectual and mental energy in the discharge of his duties,” he further noted.

Similarly, the Northern Governors’ Forum described Mr Osinbajo as a patriotic Nigerian who had combined character, professionalism, and pragmatism in handling national issues.

In a statement, the Chairman of the forum, Governor Simon Lalong, said, “As northern governors, we have enjoyed tremendous cooperation of the vice president who gives us a listening ear at individual and collective levels and engages us on how to tackle the challenges of our region and the nation.

“Among other things, we cherish his leadership of the National Livestock Transformation Programme, which seeks to usher Nigeria into the threshold of modern livestock business, capable of ending the negative consequences of open grazing in the country. We assure the vice president of our continued collaboration as he supports the president to deliver his promises to the people.”

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AMANO Suggests 100-Year Port Development Plan to FG

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Maritime Academy of Nigeria

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Alumni Association of Maritime Academy of Nigeria (AMANO), Oron, Akwa-Ibom, has advised the federal government to put in place a 100-year port development plan that will continue to respond to the dynamic nature of the nation’s port industry.

In a statement signed by the president of the group, Mr Emmanuel Maiguwa, it was explained that if such a port development plan is put in place, it will move the industry forward for growth.

Mr Maiguwa also said that a system of incentive on port fess suitable to operate coastal and inland container cargo vessel must be put in place so as to make shipowners begin to look at the possibilities of owning freighters.

According to him, freighter vessels contribute more to creating dock labour employment opportunities in the maritime labour industry.

The group also commended the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for its newly initiated electronic call system for trucks into the ports, saying that “If well implemented, the initiative will temporarily reduce traffic congestion in our ports.”

The leader of the association suggested that a minimum standard be set up for trucks coming into the ports, noting that some rickety trucks were worse than junkyards scraps.

He said: “It is for this simple reason of road unworthiness that they eventually breakdown on their way out of the port and cause congestion on the port access roads.

“If this gap is not addressed, it would mess up the electronic call-up system.”

The Maritime Academy of Nigeria is a federal government-owned educational institute in Oron, Akwa Ibom State. It was originally called the Nautical College of Nigeria and was established in 1979 to educate and train shipboard officers, ratings and shore-based management personnel. The first batch of cadets graduated in 1983.

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SON Approves 96 New Nigerian Industrial Standards

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96 new SON Standards

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

A total of 96 new Nigerian Industrial Standards (NIS) have been approved for national use by the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) governing council.

The approval was announced at the first meeting of the council since the appointment of Mr Farouk Salim as the new Director-General of the agency.

A statement from SON disclosed that the new standards cut across chemical technology, electrical/electronics, food/agriculture, textile/leather and services.

Chairman of the council, Mr Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, who was represented at the meeting by Mr Halilu Hamma, explained that the approved standards were essential for the production of medical and other supplies required for the management of the COVID-19 pandemic such as syringes, face barriers, alcohol-based hand sanitiser, medical electrical equipment, health and safety measures for tourism and hospitality establishments, amongst many others.

According to him, others of great economic, regulatory and industrial importance include standards for agricultural, petroleum and automobile gas products, electrical/electronic standards for smart energy meters and renewable energy, all of which support the Federal Government policies, strategic priorities and plans.

Also, he congratulated the new DG on his appointment and assured him of the full support of the council members via a harmonious working relationship based on mutual trust and respect in order to significantly improve the organisation’s efficiency and effectiveness in delivering on its mandate to Nigerians.

Mr Sani-Gwarzo further assured the new SON chief of access to a rich and diverse knowledge, expertise and experience in the council to support his aspiration of making SON a high impact organisation in support of the nation’s socio-economic growth and development.

He praised him for being able to convene the meeting a few months after his appointment in spite of the challenges of the health pandemic and other socio-economic events.

In his remarks, Mr Salim expressed appreciation to President Muhammadu Buhari for giving him the opportunity to further contribute to national development through SON, stressing that he looked forward to tapping from the rich expertise and experience of the council members in the areas of providing necessary approvals for policies to make the organisation more efficient and effective in touching the lives of Nigerians.

He expressed concern about the lack of a befitting corporate headquarters for the organisation, conducive working environment for the staff nationwide to enable them to deliver efficient services, need to be properly positioned to tackle the influx of substandard products into the country, faking and adulteration amongst others and sought the council’s support to tackle them.

However, Mr Salim reiterated his commitment to making SON a better and more impactful organisation in Nigeria as well as in regional, continental and international standardisation activities.

He also informed the council that a committee of distinguished Nigerians would be appointed to help review SON management practices and procedures and make recommendations for far-reaching reforms to strengthen the system has submitted its interim report.

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