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No Record of Crew Kidnapping in Q1 2022—IMB

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International Maritime Bureau

By Adedapo Adesanya

There was no record of crew kidnapping in the Gulf of Guinea in the first quarter of 2022, data from the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) showed.

In its latest report titled ICC IMB urges continued caution while welcoming lull in crew kidnappings in Gulf of Guinea, the apex maritime body expressed happiness over the situation, saying that it is a welcome development when compared with 40 kidnappings in the same period in 2021.

The IMB said the efforts of both regional and international Naval officers had also resulted in a reduction in reported incidents.

“Thanks to the efforts taken by maritime authorities in the region, there have been no reported crew kidnappings within Gulf of Guinea waters in Q1 2022. This is a welcome change compared to 40 crew kidnappings in the same period in 2021.

“The efforts of the regional and international navies have also resulted in a reduction of reported incidents from 16 in the first quarter of 2021 to seven over the same period in 2022. The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre however urges the coastal response agencies and independent international navies to continue their efforts to ensure piracy is permanently addressed in these highly risky waters,” the agency said.

The body, however, expressed concern that despite the drop in crew kidnapping, the threat to seafarers still remained.

“The threat to innocent seafarers remains and is best exemplified with a recent attack where a Panamax-sized bulk carrier was boarded by pirates 260 Nautical Miles off the coast of Ghana on 3 April. This illustrates that despite a decrease in reported incidents, the threat of Gulf of Guinea piracy and crew kidnappings remains.

“On being notified of the incident, the IMB Piracy Reporting Centre immediately alerted and liaised with the Regional Authorities and international warships to request assistance. An Italian Navy warship and its helicopter instantly intervened, saving the crew and enabling the vessel to proceed to a safe port under escort.

“The IMB Piracy Reporting Centre commends the prompt and positive actions of the Italian Navy which undoubtedly resulted in the crew and ship being saved,” it stated.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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Critical Views on Russia’s Policy Towards Africa within the Context of the New World Order

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Matthew Ehret new world order

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

In September’s WhatApp’s conversation with Matthew Ehret, a Senior Fellow and International Relations expert at the American University in Moscow, he offers an insight into some aspects of Russia-African relations within the context of the emerging new world order.

In particular, Matthew gives in-depth views on Russia’s valuable contribution in a number of economic sectors, including infrastructure development during the past few years in Africa, some suggestions for African leaders and further the possible implications of Russia-China collaboration with Africa. Here are important excerpts of the wide-ranging interview:

What are the implications here and from historical perspectives that Russia is looking for its allies from Soviet-era in Africa…and “non-Western friends” for creating the new world order?

Russia is certainly working very hard to consolidate its alliances with many nations of the global south and former non-aligned network. This process is hinged on the Russia-China alliance best exemplified by the integration of the Eurasian Economic Union with the Belt and Road Initiative and the spirit of cooperation outlined in the February 4 Joint Statement for a New Era of Cooperation.

Of course, this is more than simply gaining spheres of influence as many analysts try to interpret the process now underway, but has much more to do with a common vision for instituting a new system of cooperation, creative growth and long-term thinking uniting diverse cultural and religious groups of the globe around a common destiny which is a completely different type of paradigm than the unipolar ideology of closed-system thinking dominant among the technocrats trying to manage the rules-based international order.

The Soviet Union, of course, enormously supported Africa’s liberation struggle and attained political independence in the 60s. What could be the best practical way for Russia to fight what it now referred to as “neocolonialism” in Africa?

Simply operating on a foundation of honest business is an obvious but important thing to do. The African people have known mostly abuse and dishonest neo-colonial policies under the helm of the World Bank and IMF since WW2, and so having Russia continue to provide investment and business deals tied to the construction of special economic zones that drive industrial growth, infrastructure, and especially modern electricity access which Africa desperately needs are key in this process.

African countries currently need to transform the untapped resources, build basic infrastructure and get industrialized -these are necessary to become somehow economic independent. How do you evaluate Russia’s role in these economic areas, at least during the past decade in Africa?

It has been improving steadily. Of course, Russia does not have the same level of national control over its banking system as we see enjoyed by China, whose trade with Africa has attained $200 billion in recent years while Russia’s trade with Africa is about $20 billion. But despite that, Russia has done well to not only provide trains in Egypt and has made the emphasis on core hard infrastructure, energy, water systems, and interconnectivity a high priority in the 2019 Russia-Africa Summit and the upcoming 2023 Summit.

Generally, how can we interpret the African elite’s sentiments about Russia’s return to Africa? Do you think Russia is most often critical of the United States and European Union’s hegemony in Africa?

I think the over-arching feeling is one of trust and relief that Russia has returned with a spirit of cooperation. According to all the messaging from Lavrov, who recently completed an important Africa tour in late July, I can say that Russia is very critical of the USA and EU approach to hegemony in Africa. As Museveni and the South African Foreign Minister have recently emphasized, they are sick of being talked down to and threatened by western patronizing technocrats. In contrast, we see a sense of mutual respect in the discourse of Russian and Chinese players, which is seen as a breath of fresh air.

While the West is obsessed with “appropriate green technologies” for Africa while chastising the continent for its corruption problems (which is fairly hypocritical when one looks at the scope of corruption within the Wall Street- City of London domain), Russia supports all forms of energy development from coal, oil, natural gas and even nuclear which Africa so desperately needs to leapfrog into the 21st century.

Understandably, Russia’s policy has to stimulate or boost Africa’s economic aspirations, especially among the youth and the middle class. What are your views about this? And your objective evaluation of Russia’s public outreach diplomacy with Africa?

So far, Russia has done well in stimulating its youth policy with expanded scholarships to African youth touching on agricultural science, engineering, medicine, IT, and other advanced sectors. Additionally, the Special Economic Zones built up by Russia in Mozambique and Egypt has established opportunities for manufacturing and other technical training that has largely been prevented from growing under the IMF-World Bank model of conditionality laced loans driven primarily by the sole aim of resource extraction for western markets and overall control by a western elite. Russia has tended to follow China’s lead (and her own historical traditions of aiding African nations in their development aspirations) without pushing the sorts of regime change operations or debt slavery schemes which have been common practice by the west for too long.

Sochi summit has already provided the key to the questions you discussed above. Can these, if strategically and consistently addressed, mark a definitive start of a new dawn in Russia-African relations?

Most certainly.

Geopolitical confrontation, rivalry and competition in Africa. Do you think there is an emerging geopolitical rivalry, and confrontation between the United States and Europe (especially France) in Africa? What if, in an alliance, China and Russia team up together?

China and Russia have already teamed up together on nearly every aspect of geopolitical, scientific, cultural and geo-economic interest imaginable which has created a robust basis for the continued successful growth of the multipolar alliance centred as it is upon such organizations as the BRICS+, SCO, ASEAN and BRI/Polar Silk Road orientation. This is clear across Africa as well and to the degree that this alliance continues to stand strong, which I see no reason why it would not for the foreseeable future, then an important stabilizing force can not only empower African nations to resist the threats, intimidation and destabilizing influences of western unipolarists.

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900 million Africans Lack Access to Clean Cooking Solutions—Ayuk

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access to clean cooking solutions

By Adedapo Adesanya

As more efforts continue to enter into making Africa a stronghold for energy, problems still persist, with over 900 million people on the continent lacking access to clean cooking solutions.

Ahead of the African Energy Week (AEW) 2022 next month, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) has reiterated that strengthening the supply and distribution of products such as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) is critical.

The AEC Executive Chairman, Mr NJ Ayuk said, “In 2022, over 900 million people lack access to clean cooking solutions. This is a crisis, one that directly affects the African population and will continue to cause health and socioeconomic challenges unless new fuel solutions are brought on the market in Africa. Gas is the solution to this crisis.

“During AEW 2022, discussions around the role of gas and LPG in Africa’s energy and economic future will be driven,” he added.

For Africa, strengthening the LPG market in 2022 has been key. Currently, large-scale exploration and production projects are underway across the continent that offers the opportunity for the local population to benefit from both power and cooking solutions.

Representing the cleanest fossil fuel as well as the most widely available in Africa – the continent boasts over 620 trillion cubic feet (tcf) of proven gas reserves, with new exploration campaigns set to increase this figure two-fold – monetizing and utilizing gas will enable Africa to make energy poverty history by 2030.

In addition to power generation opportunities, gas represents the ideal resource for power industries as well as households, providing heat and clean cooking solutions.

Projects such as Senegal and Mauritania’s 15 tcf Greater Tortue Ahmeyim development – the first phase of which is set to come online in 2023; Equatorial Guinea’s 3.7 million tons per annum (mtpa) Punta Europa liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal which aims to improve intra-African gas trade; and the 171 million feet per day Sankofa Gas Project in Ghana are set to bring new supplies online.

Meanwhile, in Southern Africa specifically, over 100 tcf of reserves in Mozambique, 11 tcf in Angola, and possibly 20 tcf in Zimbabwe are set to transform the market, with the regional LPG sector set to witness a boom.

These new gas infrastructure developments aim to significantly improve intra-African gas trade, enabling domestic markets across the continent to benefit from the enhanced natural gas supply. Leveraging the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), various projects have been launched, including pipelines and trade infrastructure.

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72% of Children Globally Face Cyber Threats—Report

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Cyber Threats

By Adedapo Adesanya

A new report from The Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) has found that 72 per cent of children worldwide have experienced at least one type of cyber threats online.

The Why Children Are Unsafe in Cyberspace report, developed in collaboration with Boston Consulting Group, focuses on raising awareness of the critical issues facing the protection of children in Cyberspace at a time when over 90 per cent of children aged eight and above are active on the internet.

The report surveyed over 40,000 parents and children across 24 countries in six regions, with results overwhelmingly showing that protection of today’s youth in cyberspace is falling short, impacting children globally and requiring urgent collective action.

Those surveyed revealed that unwanted ads, inappropriate images, content, and bullying and harassment are the main threats experienced.

Globally, children are most active digitally at home or school. However, the report found that only half of the children worldwide feel safe online, with one in five children expressing that they have faced bullying or harassment.

It noted that 83 per cent of children claimed they would alert their parents for help if they felt threatened online; however, of the parents surveyed, only 39 per cent noted that their child or children had ever expressed concerns to them. This raises the question of how children can be protected when parents are not always aware of the dangers they face.

The report calls on all stakeholders, including parents, educators, tech companies, and law enforcement agencies, to join forces to ensure that robust solutions can be found to meet the threat to children online.

Speaking on this, Ms Alaa AlFaadhel, Initiatives & Partnerships Lead at the GCF, commented on the report: “With 72 per cent of children facing cyber threats, we believe the protection of children is crucial in a rapidly developing Cyberspace. The solution to the pervasive threats that children face is to raise awareness of the issues and ensure united action, from educators to the private sector, can be put in motion. We all bare a responsibility to create a safe place to learn and connect in Cyberspace as it becomes more entrenched in everything we do.”

The upcoming GCF will bring together key decision-makers and executives from around the globe to discuss the prominent issue of child protection in Cyberspace, amongst other key topics, including disruption frontier and geopolitical considerations.

The GCF 2022 Edition is returning under the theme Rethinking the Global Cyber Order and runs between November 9-10 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

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