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Understanding Russia-Algerian Strategic Partnership

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Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov Russia-Algeria partnership

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

For almost 20 years, Russia has pursued its economic cooperation and other geostrategic interests using the Declaration on Strategic Partnership agreement signed in 2001 with the Arab Republic of Algeria in the Maghreb region.

The Maghreb also known as Northwest Africa, the Arab Maghreb is a sub-region of North Africa that is effectively a western part of the Arab world and is predominantly Muslim.

Russia has excellent relations in this region compared to the rest of Africa. While that two-decade-old Declaration on Strategic Partnership agreement has primarily allowed Russia to step up military-technical cooperation by supplying arms and military equipment, it also sets out principles for the consolidating long-term bilateral policy goals between the two countries.

During her weekly media briefing, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova hinted about the official visit of Algerian Foreign Minister Sabri Boukadoum.

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will hold talks with the Algerian Foreign Minister in Moscow on July 22 in order to maintain dialogue on the current issues of bilateral relations and the issues on the regional agenda,” the diplomat said.

She reminded that Russia and Algeria had signed the Declaration on Strategic Partnership in 2001, which set out the long-term goals of joint work.

“In nearly two decades, we have managed to expand the basis of our cooperation significantly. We are successfully developing mutually beneficial ties in the economic, military-technical, research and humanitarian spheres, and in 2019, the turnover between two states reached $3.4 billion. This is a significant figure,” Zakharova said.

Undoubtedly, Russia has tried to sustain its multifaceted bilateral relations with Algeria that plays an important role in maintaining regional stability in North Africa.

Sabri Boukadoum has served as Minister of Foreign Affairs since April 2019. In this short period though, he has expressed his country’s keenness on resolving the Libyan crisis through dialogue and maintaining the integrity of the country’s territory.

According to him, Algeria does not accept the presence of foreign forces in Libya, regardless of which country they represent. Currently, there is an intense fight between the Government of National Accord (GNA) and Marshal Khalifa Haftar’s forces (the opposition from the Eastern region) to control the Libyan capital. There are external forces already supporting the two warring groups.

The inflow of arms for the conflicting sides in Libya is only aggravating the situation in the country. It adds to the involvement of foreign mercenaries and the presence of extremist and terrorist groups, whose activities reinvigorated jointly with the military escalation and is threatening the local, regional and global peace.

This development largely worries Algeria that wanted to assist Libyans in addressing “structural governance and security issues” and prevent a new Arab Spring from spilling over unto its territory.

From Russia’s perspective, besides Algeria’s role in ensuring regional stability in North Africa, this country makes a significant contribution to the fight against terrorism in the Sahara-Sahel zone, actively participates in international efforts to achieve national accord in Mali, and has a constructive mediating potential in the Libyan settlement.

On this basis, Russia wants to proceed from the premise that the upcoming talks help to strengthen multifaceted bilateral cooperation and to engage in the peaceful negotiation process in its neighbouring Libya.

As a sign of cordial friendship, Russia prompt responded to Algeria’s request for humanitarian aid by delivering a cargo full of medical protective equipment to help tackle the novel coronavirus pandemic.

That aid was purchased and delivered by Rosoboronexport, which is the sole State Arms Exporter, on instructions from the Russian government late April. Algeria has one of the biggest numbers of coronavirus-related deaths among the African nations, according to official statistics.

On July 8, while addressing the first political consultation meeting at the foreign minister-level between Russia and three members of the African Union, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stressed that the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Libya has been vacant for almost half a year ago. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has been unable to appoint a successor so far.

His first proposal for UN Secretary-General position was Foreign Minister of Algeria, Ramtane Lamamra, and was supported by most countries except the American colleagues. They refused to support his nomination.

Then, another proposal put forward to appoint former Foreign Minister of Ghana, Hannah Tetteh, but for some reasons, Mr Antonio Guterres has failed to have her nomination approved, according to Sergey Lavrov.

The political consultation meeting at the foreign minister-level between Russia and three members of the African Union was established after the first Russia-Africa Summit held in Sochi last October.

The three African Union countries are the Arab Republic of Egypt, the Republic of South Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They are the former, current and next presidents of the African Union.

Late January 2019, just before Russia’s presidential election and the first Russia-Africa summit, was the last time Lavrov paid a working visit to the Maghreb countries, including the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, the Kingdom of Morocco and the Republic of Tunisia.

Since then the Minister has maintained regular contacts. Lavrov hopes the upcoming bilateral talks with Sabri Boukadoum could lay a new roadmap to the diverse aspects of the bilateral relations and the possibility of strengthening bilateral cooperation in a number of spheres. Both are looking to have in-depth discussion into adopting strategies toward resolving the crisis in Libya.

Both countries, of course, want the effective use of the Joint Russian-Algerian Intergovernmental Commission on Trade, Economic and Scientific and Technical Cooperation, as the instrument for full-fledged realization of the all the set policy goals including those outlined during the Sochi last year.

It is significant to recall that Russian and Algerian leaders also held a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Russia-Africa summit in Sochi.

During the discussion, Putin said that Russia was ready to render the Algerian people assistance in strengthening their statehood and sovereignty.

He further indicated that Moscow attached great importance to developing an inter-state strategic partnership with Algeria “which is based on the solid traditions of longstanding friendship and mutual respect.”

The Kremlin report says Algeria is among Russia’s major partners in Africa in the sphere of military and technical cooperation. The largest arms contract worth $7.5 billion was signed in 2006 as part of a deal, under which Russia agreed to write off Algeria’s debt owed to the Soviet Union.

Besides bilateral relationship, Russia relates with Algeria in the framework of the broad partnerships between Russia and the African Union, and Russia and the Arab League. The People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is bordered to the northeast by Tunisia, to the east by Libya, to the southeast by Niger, to the southwest by Mali, to the west by Morocco and to the north by the Mediterranean Sea.

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Ghana’s President, Wife Receive COVID-19 Vaccine

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Ghana President COVID-19 Vaccine
By Ahmed Rahma

Ghana’s first citizen, Mr Nano Akufo-Addo and his wife, Mrs Rebecca Akufo, have received the COVID-19 vaccine, signifying the beginning of the vaccination in the country.

According to reports, the duo got vaccinated at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra, Ghana on  Monday, March 1, 2021.

Before taking the shot, President said, “I decided to take it [the vaccine] publicly to clear all doubts and urge everyone to also accept the vaccine.”

A section of the Ghanaian community has expressed fears that the vaccine may rather kill them or cause them to fall ill.But President Akufo-Addo said the vaccine is safe, accepting to take the jab with his wife to allay the fears of many Ghanaians.

“It’s important to state that this vaccine is safe by being the first to have it. So, everybody in Ghana should feel comfortable about taking the vaccine. It is important that everybody at the end of the day is vaccinated. That is our objective,” Mr Akufo-Addo said.

He expressed his gratitude to stakeholders for delivering 600,000 doses of vaccine from the COVAX-funded facility.

The president called on Ghanaians not to be complacent but rather continue to observe the necessary safety protocols in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All the other protocols remain in place until we are satisfied that the virus finally disappears from Ghana,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and his wife, Mrs Samira Bawumia, are also expected to be inoculated later in the day at a different health facility.

It is important to note that while vaccination commenced today in Ghana, Nigeria is yet to get her own vaccines.

Business Post earlier reported today that the federal government has opened a portal for the registration of vaccination in Nigeria. The African giant expects its vaccines on Tuesday. The type is the one produced by AstraZeneca and nearly 4 million doses are expected.

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Okonjo-Iweala Resumes as WTO Director-General

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Okonjo-Iweala Resumes

By Ahmed Rahma

The newly-elected Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has assumed office today, March 1, 2021.

The former Nigerian finance minister, the first woman and African to be in that position, is the organisation’s seventh DG.

Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, whose tenure as the DG will end on August 31, 2025, revealed her plans to work with other members of the organisation to restructure the global trade body.

“Some WTO rules and procedures also need to be revisited, including the procedure for appointing director-general,” she noted in her acceptance speech.

The new WTO boss added that the trade body’s rulebook needed to reflect 21st-century realities such as e-commerce, the digital economy, and the pandemic.

The lengthy selection process ended up with Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, who spent 25 years at the World Bank, to lead the body by the WTO’s 164 members on February 15.

The council’s consensus made her appointment possible.

The process was hampered by the United States’ objection under former President Donald Trump, despite the approval of council members in October 2020.

Her election has been described as a welcome development because of her experience at the World Bank. She is believed to be the right person to lead the WTO.

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The Great Game of Vaccination Diplomacy Targets Africa

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UK COVID-19 Variant

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Russia is committed to helping eradicate the rapidly increasing coronavirus infections in Africa amounting to approximately 3.8 million with its latest developed Sputnik V vaccine.

Such a step will enable Russia to reassert its geopolitical influence that involves a keen competition with other foreign players on the continent.

An official media release in mid-February said that the Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team — set up by the African Union to acquire additional vaccine doses so that Africa can attain a target immunization of 60% — has received an offer of 300 million Sputnik V vaccines from the Russian Federation.

This includes a financing package for any member states wishing to secure this vaccine. The Africa Vaccine Acquisition Task Team also informed that it had secured 270 million doses each from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson.

Dr John Nkengasong, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), explained: “Africa has to team up with development partners to achieve its 60% continent-wide vaccination in the next two years. I think that is why we should as a collective of the continent, and of course, in partnership with the developed world make sure that Africa has timely access to vaccines to meet our vaccination targets.”

Several countries around the world have ordered the Sputnik V, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF). This is a sovereign wealth fund established in 2011 to make equity co-investments, primarily in Russia, alongside reputable international financial and strategic investors.

The offer of 300 million doses to Africa, to be delivered in May, seems limited by Russia’s own production capability. Quoting Deputy Prime Minister Tatyana Golikova, TASS Information News Agency in February 2021 reported that Russia plans to produce 88 million double doses of coronavirus vaccines in the first six months of the year, not including the newly registered CoviVac vaccine.

“We expect that 88 million double doses of coronavirus vaccines will be produced by the end of the first half of the year, not including CoviVac,” she said, adding that 83 million double doses of the Sputnik V vaccine as well as 5.4 million double doses of EpiVacCorona would be manufactured.

According to Golikova, 30.5 million double doses of the vaccines will be produced this first quarter of the year. She also said that 11.1 million double doses of the vaccines have been manufactured in the country so far and 7.9 million doses have been released for civil distribution.

In his wide-ranging annual media conference held on December 17, 2020, Russian President Vladimir Putin explained that as the pandemic spreads, millions of coronavirus vaccine doses will have been produced in Russia at the beginning of the year. The primary objective is to vaccinate the Russian population. “Production of this vaccine requires relevant plants, enterprises, and hardware — all that will be scaled up. I expect all of these plans to be fulfilled and production of millions of vaccine doses at the beginning of the year,” he said.

Technological capabilities

With regard to cooperation with other countries, it will boost the technological capabilities of enterprises to produce the vaccine. Foreign countries will invest their own money into expanding their production capacities and purchasing the corresponding equipment.

“As for cooperation with foreign countries: nothing is stopping us from manufacturing vaccine components at facilities in other countries precisely because we need time to enhance the technological capacities of our vaccine manufacturing enterprises. This does not hinder vaccination in the Russian Federation,” he said.

Sputnik V is registered in Russia, Belarus, Argentina, Bolivia, Serbia, Algeria, Palestine, Venezuela, Paraguay, Turkmenistan, Hungary, UAE, Iran, Republic of Guinea, Tunisia, Armenia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Republika Srpska (an entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina), Lebanon, Myanmar, Pakistan, Mongolia, Bahrain, Montenegro, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Gabon, Ghana and San Marino.

On August 11, 2020, Russia became the first country to register a coronavirus vaccine named Sputnik V, developed by the Gamaleya Scientific Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology.

According to the latest media reports, Moscow is not the only foreign player making inroads into Africa. French President Emmanuel Macron urged Europe and the United States to send, without much delay, enough Covid-19 vaccine doses to Africa to inoculate the continent’s healthcare workers or risk losing influence to Russia and China.

According to Macron, Europe and the United States could allocate up to 5% of their current vaccine supplies to developing countries in an effort to avoid an unprecedented acceleration of global inequality.

Addressing the Munich Security Conference in February after U.S. President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Macron pleaded for sending 13 million doses to Africa as a first step — enough to inoculate all its health workers, failure would mean Africa coming under justified pressure to buy doses from the Chinese and the Russians.

Ahead of the G7 meeting on February 19, Macron described the slow speed of Covid-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa as “intolerable” and blaming inequality between poor and rich countries for access to vaccines. “We must respond to this outrageous inequality,” Macron said, during a videoconference with Egypt’s President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, Senegal’s President Macky Sall, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, Congolese President Félix Tshisekedi and Comoros President Azali Assoumani.

The goal of the meeting was to identify “priority areas” and help bring African voices to talks planned between leaders of the G7 countries. “We are at a moment of truth if we want to act more effectively,” said Macron, adding that it was in the interest of the whole world to vaccinate people globally, otherwise the virus would continue to circulate, and different variants would emerge.

Increasing production capacities in Africa

He said production capacities in Africa needed to be increased, while transparency on vaccine pricing was needed, pointing to how some Western countries could buy vaccines more cheaply than African countries.

France is indeed part of the Covax facility, which acts as a global collective bargaining initiative to secure vaccine doses for countries who signed up, including those which are self-financing their purchases, as well as assistance from donors for poorer countries. The first vaccines purchased through Covax are destined to reach the African continent in February, with some 88.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines distributed to 47 countries by the first half of 2021.

Through bilateral relations, a number of African countries have had vaccine donations from the People’s Republic of China (PRC). China has already provided the Covid-19 vaccine, as donations, to Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe and will further help 19 African countries as part of its commitment to making vaccines global public goods, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Wang Wenbin, said on February 22 that China would also support enterprises to export Covid-19 vaccines to African nations that urgently need, recognize, and have authorized the emergency use of Chinese vaccines.

The aid is a clear manifestation of the China-Africa traditional friendship, he said, adding that China will continue to provide support and assistance within its capacity and in accordance with the needs of Africa. China welcomes and supports France and other European and American nations in providing vaccines to help Africa fight the pandemic.

African countries are ready to help each other fight the pandemic. Senegal is the first African country to donate vaccines to its neighbours as Dakar announced that it would give 10,000 doses each of its Chinese coronavirus vaccines to The Gambia and Guinea-Bissau. President Macky Sall confirmed the donation as a sign of solidarity.

Senegal received a vaccine consignment of 200,000 from China’s Sinopharm. The government said it paid a little over 2 billion CFA francs (US$3.74 million) for the doses to begin its campaign. Senegal says it is also in negotiations with Russia to purchase its Sputnik V vaccine. It aims to innoculate about 90% of a targeted 3.5 million people, including health workers and high-risk individuals between the ages of 19 and 60, by the end of 2021. The country’s population is about 16 million.

Senegal is eligible for the COVAX program, a WHO-backed program expected to deliver vaccines to those who need them most. During the virtual meeting of G7 leaders, the European Union announced it had donated a further 500 million euros to the COVAX program. According to the Senegalese Health Ministry, it expects 1.3 million doses by early March. It comes at no cost to the West African nation.

According to official reports, India is also joining the global players in Africa. India will make its first shipment of a locally made Covid-19 to the WHO-backed equitable vaccine distribution network COVAX. “In fulfilling our commitment to helping the world with Covid-19 vaccines, the supply of Made-in-India vaccine has commenced for Africa under COVAX facility,” Anurag Srivastava, spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs, said on Twitter.

The World Health Organization this February paved the way for the Oxford University/AstraZeneca vaccine’s global rollout by approving emergency use of the product produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII), the world’s biggest vaccine maker, and SK Bioscience of South Korea. SII will also start producing the Novavax vaccine mainly for poor and middle-income countries.

India, the world’s biggest maker of vaccines, has shipped over 17 million vaccine doses to more than two dozen countries — including around 6 million as gifts to partners such as Bangladesh and Nepal. For its own campaign, New Delhi has so far only ordered 31 million doses.

The cost of vaccinating 60% of Africa’s 1.3 billion people would be between US$10 billion and US$15 billion, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control. The continent has secured 36% of its vaccine needs, with 25% of the doses to come from the Covax initiative and 11% from a separate African Union program, Africa’s CDC said.

Africa really needs the developed world, as it has no vaccine of its own. It’s far behind the rest of the world in terms of acquisition and inoculations, with richer nations having secured the scarce shots early. Africa, however, remains resolute at ensuring the welfare of the entire population, while the African Union, regional blocs and individual governments make frantic efforts to acquire adequate vaccines through bilateral and multilateral agencies.

WHO has declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic since March 11, 2020. South Africa accounts for the biggest number of Africa’s coronavirus cases. Egypt and Morocco in the north have increasing rates of infection, and in countries such as Ethiopia, Nigeria and Kenya in Sub-Saharan Africa. The overall number of Covid-19 cases in Africa currently stands more than 3.8 million in late February, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Regional Office for Africa.

This article first and originally published by InDepthNews.

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COVID-19 Exposed Burden Women Bear as Caregivers—Mercy Jelimo

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Mercy Jelimo

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

For over two decades, the Centre for Rights Education and Awareness (CREAW) has been fighting for gender equality, empowerment of women and improvement of women’s rights in Kenya and broadly in East Africa.

Established in 1999, CREAW has used bold, innovative and holistic interventions for the realization of women’s rights. Most of its programs have focused on challenging practices that undermine equity, equality and constitutionalism, promoting women’s participation in decision making and deepening the ideology and philosophy of women’s empowerment.

In this interview, Mercy Jelimo, an Executive Program Officer at the Nairobi-based CREAW discusses the current situation about gender issues, landmarked achievements, existing challenges and the way forward. Here are the interview excerpts:

In your estimation and from your research, how is the situation with gender inequality, specifically in Kenya, and generally in East Africa?

This survey was commissioned by our partners Women Deliver and Focus 2030 with over 17,000 respondents covering 17 countries on six continents. The survey findings indicated that over 60% of respondents believed that gender equality had progressed. However, on average, 57% of respondents also felt that the fight for gender equality is not over particularly because we see key aspects of gender inequality persist including unequal distribution of unpaid care, domestic work and parental responsibilities between men and women (the COVID-19 pandemic has spotlighted the burden women bear as caregivers) different employment opportunities with religion and culture continuing to entrench discrimination against women.

Whereas in East Africa, the survey only covered Kenya, the results are shared across. In particular, the Kenyan respondents indicated that there has been notable progress in regards to gender equality particularly when it comes to the legal and policy frameworks to guard against discrimination on whichever basis be it sex, religion, class or race.

Over the last quarter-century, the country has promulgated a new Constitution and a raft of subsidiary legislations and policies that are critical to gender equality. Some of these laws include but not limited to: the Sexual Offences Act 2006, the Children’s Act 2001, the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2011, the Marriage Act 2014, the Protection Against Domestic Violence Act 2015, the Victim Protection Act 2014, the Witness Protection Act 2008, the National Policy for Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence 2014, the National Guidelines on the Management of Sexual Violence 2015, the Multi-sector Standard Operating Procedures for Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence, and the National Policy on the Eradication of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 2019.

Kenya has also ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (the Maputo Protocol), the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, among other instruments.

However, even with this robust legal framework, accountability and the implementation of these laws have lagged behind.

The status of women and girls as compared to men and boys still remains unequal at all levels of society both public and private. This imbalance manifests itself as normalized negative social norms and ‘cultural’ practices with brutal violations against women and girls continuing to be perpetrated, women being excluded from leadership and decision making positions, limited in their political participation and women and girls being denied access to economic opportunities.

Undeniably, women and girls continue to be victims of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) including rape, domestic violence, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and child marriage.

In fact, as of March 2020, according to statistics from Kenya’s Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC), 45% of women and girls between the ages of 15 and 49 have experienced either physical or sexual violence with women with girls accounting for 90% of gender-based violence (SGBV) cases reported.

Harmful practices such as FGM and child marriage are still prevalent, with the Kenya Demographic Health Survey (2014) reporting a national FGM prevalence rate of 21% for women and girls aged 15-49 years of age. The prevalence rate differs from one practising community to the other, with communities such as Somali (96%) Samburu (86%) and The Maasai (78%) having significantly higher prevalence.

Sadly, this is the story across all the other countries in East Africa where we have progressive legal and Policy framework but with zero accountability mechanisms.

It is worth noting that in 2018, the East Africa Community Council of Ministers approved the EAC Gender policy which is key to ensuring that gender equality and empowerment of women are not only integrated into every aspect of its work but provides an outline of key priority areas for partner states.

The EAC has also instituted other gender mainstreaming efforts including the EAC Social Development framework (2013), the EAC child policy (2016) the EAC Youth policy (2013), a Gender Mainstreaming Strategy for EAC Organs and Institutions, (2013) amongst others.

By the way, what are your research findings that you presented in a report on January 28? Are there any similarities and differences in gender studies in other East Africa countries?

The key findings from Kenya can generally be used to paint a picture of the situation in the EAC region. Apparent gender disparities in the region remain in a number of areas such as in political representation, access to education and training, access to quality and affordable healthcare, high unemployment rates of women, rampant sexual and gender-based violence, harmful cultural practices, inadequate financing for gender needs and programs.

Firstly, when asked about the status of gender equality, the majority of respondents identified gender equality as an important issue (96%) and that government should do more (invest) to promote gender equality.

Secondly, the role of religion and culture; how boys and girls are socialized and unequal representation were identified as obstacles to gender equality. This finding indicates the work that still remains to be done for gender equality actors in Kenya and other partner states in the EAC.

The most important step to achieving gender equality is dismantling systems and structures that promote and protect inequalities. whereas the country has made tremendous progress in having relevant legal and policy frameworks, there is still a lack of implementation of these laws – this finding answers the why question– because institutions, people and structures are still very patriarchal.

Furthermore, the lack of representation of women (also cited by Kenyan respondents as an obstacle) might explain the failures in the implementation of the laws and policies.

Thirdly, the respondents identified corruption as the most important issue facing the country. This finding is also supported by the 2019 Global Corruption Barometer – Africa survey that showed that more than half of citizens in the continent think graft is getting worse and that governments were doing very little to curb the vice.

The impact that corruption has on service delivery cannot be overemphasized especially on public goods such as healthcare, education, water and sanitation. More specifically, is the resulting lack of public financing to programs and interventions that address gender needs & promote gender equality.

A recent Corruption Perception Index (CPI) Report by Transparency International indicated that all the countries in East Africa with the exception of Rwanda scored below the global average rate of 43 out of 100.

More importantly, is that the report noted that countries that perform well on the CPI have strong enforcement of campaign finance regulations as this correlates with the dismal performance of women in politics who often than not do not have the requisite political funding to mount effective political campaigns and outcompete their male counterparts.

What would you say about discrimination or representation of women in politics in the region? Do you feel that women are not strongly encouraged in this political sphere?

There has been significant progress when it comes to women’s political representation and participation with a majority of the countries in the EAC region adopting constitutional quotas and other remedies to promote representation.

All the countries in the East Africa Community have achieved the 30% critical mass with the exception of Kenya (21%) and South Sudan (28%).

More women occupy ministerial portfolios that were perceived to be the preserve of men such as defence, foreign affairs, manufacturing, trade, public service and so forth. Not to miss that the leading country globally – Rwanda is from the region (63%).

However, most institutions including parliaments are still male-dominated and women in the region still face a number of challenges including violence against women in politics, religious and cultural beliefs and norms that limit women role, lack of support from political parties, lack of campaign financing and unregulated campaign financing environment with the progressive legal and policy frameworks yet to be fully implemented.

These challenges continue to limit the representation and participation of women in the public and political sphere. The region is yet to have a woman as a president just to illustrate the glass ceilings that remain.

Tell us about how women are perceived (public opinion) in society there? How is the state or government committed to change this situation, most probably by enacting policies?

“Don’t tell me what you value. Show me your budget and I‘ll tell you what you value” This quote by President Joe Biden aptly captures the state of affairs in the region in relation to gender equality. The countries in the region have continued to enact and reform legal and policy frameworks but have largely remained unimplemented; the primary reasons being lack of financial and accountability mechanisms to ensure that these programs and policies are actualized.

For us to reach the conclusion that governments are committed to promoting gender equality and women empowerment, we need to see a shift from lip service to prioritization and adequate resourcing of programs that advance gender equality.

What platforms are there for improving gender equality, for ending gender-based violence and for discussing forms of discrimination there? Do you suggest governments have to act now to accelerate issues and progress on gender equality in East Africa?

As Deliver for Good Campaign partners in Kenya together with other gender equality advocates, the Sustainable Development Goals and Africa Agenda 2063 provide important blueprints to developing our society economically, socially and politically.

The Deliver for Good campaign is evidence-based advocacy campaigns that call for better policies, programming and financial investments in girls and women. Most importantly, the Generation Equality Forum (GEF) is an important mobilization moment to ask governments and the private sector to accelerate progress not just in East Africa but globally.

Specifically, we will be using this moment to call on governments, not only make bigger and bolder commitments but also, to ensure that they match these commitments with financing and accountability mechanisms.

As the Deliver for Good campaign partners in Kenya, we have a particular interest in one of the GEF Action Coalitions – Gender-Based Violence – to leverage on the Kenyan government leadership and the political will to end traditional practices that are harmful to women and girls such as Female Genital Mutilation and Child Marriage. Particularly and in line with the survey findings, we will be calling for: increased accountability for physical and sexual crimes against women; increased investment in prevention and protection programs while calling for inclusive efforts and programs that leave no woman behind in Kenya and East Africa.

Kester Kenn Klomegah is a versatile researcher and a passionate contributor. Most of his well-resourced articles are reprinted elsewhere in a number of reputable foreign media

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Why I May Never Invest in Bitcoin—Bill Gates

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bill gates bitcoin

By Ahmed Rahma

An American business magnate, Mr Bill Gates, may not be investing in Bitcoin, a leading cryptocurrency, because he is not a fan of the digital currency.

The philanthropist, who aims to work more closely with the chief executive of Amazon, Mr Jeff Bezos, to combat a climate crisis, made this declaration in an interview with Bloomberg Television’s Emily Chang.

The co-founder of Microsoft said, “I’m not a fan of bitcoin, either for environmental reasons, it uses a lot of energy.”

Commenting on Mr Elon Musk investing in Bitcoin, he said, “Elon has tons of money and he’s very sophisticated. So, I don’t worry that his Bitcoin will sort of randomly go up or down.

“I do think people get bought into these manias who may not have as much money to spare, so I’m not bullish on Bitcoin, and my general thought would be that if you have less money than Elon you should probably watch out.”

Speaking earlier on the climate crisis, Mr Gates, whose book on How To Avoid A Climate Disaster went on sale recently, stated that, “The deaths will just go up over time as you get more heatwaves, forest fires and, most importantly, lose the ability to go outdoors and do farming anywhere near the equator.”

“Unlike the pandemic, it’s hard to get people to focus on catastrophes that may be decades away in enough time to avert them.

“It’s a real test of humanity to invest in advance for problems that come later,” Mr Gates said.

In his book, the billionaire businessman used the concept of a Green Premium, the difference in price between a traditional, carbon-emitting technology like a gas-powered car and its green alternative, an electric car.

“The idea of how you create a demand-side for these green products, even in the early stage where their green premium is very high, that’s something I’ve realized is one of the missing pieces,” Mr Gates said.

“We want to bring companies and governments in on that but having a strong base of philanthropic capital to get it started would be fantastic,” he added.

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Germany Donates Extra €1.5bn for Global Vaccine Rollout

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Russia’s COVID-19 Vaccine
By Ahmed Rahma
An additional €1.5 billion ($1.8 billion) is to be donated by Germany to boost the rollout of vaccines in the world’s poorest countries, increasing an earlier contribution of €600 million.
The country’s Finance Minister, Mr Olaf Scholz, revealed in a statement that, “Today, we want to make clear: we stand with the poorest countries. Germany is providing a further €1.5 billion for Covax, WHO, and others.”

The donation was announced following a virtual G7 meeting at which leaders pledged to move as one in ensuring coronavirus vaccines reach everyone in the world.

Financially secured countries have come under fire in recent months for hoarding COVID-19 jabs at the expense of poorer countries despite warnings from health experts that vaccines can only end the pandemic if they are shared out across the globe.

European Union chief, Ursula von der Leyen, declared earlier on Friday that the bloc was doubling its contribution to the Covax global COVID-19 vaccination programme to €1 billion.

According to reports, the US President, Mr Joe Biden, was expected to pledge $4 billion in aid to Covax during the virtual meeting with other leaders from the Group of Seven major industrial nations.

Covax is a global project to procure and distribute coronavirus vaccines for at least the most vulnerable 20 percent in every country, allowing poorer states to catch up with the vaccination rush by dozens of wealthy countries.

German Development Minister, Gerd Mueller said just 0.5 percent of Covid-19 vaccinations had taken place in the world’s poorest countries.

“Only a global vaccination campaign can lead the way out of the pandemic. It must not fail because of financing,” he said.

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