Mali: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deplores massacre of civilians and calls for restraint

26.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)
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The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) deplores the massacre that occurred on 23 March 2019 in the village of Ogossagou, in central Mali, where more than 100 civilians were killed and others wounded by armed men.

“It's heartbreaking how young some victims were, between one and three years old. It's also sadly striking that the majority of the wounded were women,” said Félix Santhoni, an ICRC delegate who was at Mopti hospital when the wounded arrived.

“What happened in Ogossagou is extremely worrying. The ICRC deplores these totally unacceptable acts and is worried about the exacerbation of inter-communal tensions in central Mali. Such actions worsen an already fragile security situation and have serious humanitarian consequences. The ICRC calls on all actors to exercise restraint, respect civilians and spare fighters who have stopped fighting,” said Jean-Nicolas Marti, the head of the ICRC delegation in Mali.

In coordination with health officials in the region, the ICRC helped to evacuate the wounded to the Mopti Regional Hospital. The ICRC also donated medical equipment to the hospital in Mopti.

In recent months, the ICRC has strengthened its presence in central Mali by bringing aid to the populations most affected by armed conflict and violence, including medical supplies at the Mopti regional hospital and emergency assistance to displaced persons.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).
Source: Apo-Opa

Statement on recent attack in Mali

26.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ireland
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We are deeply shocked and saddened by the terrible attack in Mali over the weekend.  We strongly condemn the targeting of innocent civilians, including women & children and call on the Malian Authorities to act and bring the perpetrators to justice.  It is important that accountability is delivered through a comprehensive investigation. Our deepest sympathies to the community who lost family and friends in this terrible incident of violence.  

The Tánaiste stated:

“I condemn the violence against innocent civilians in central Mali over the weekend. I encourage the Government of Mali to redouble effort to ensure peace and stability in Central Mali and to protect vulnerable populations from such attacks.  Those who perpetrate such terrible crimes must be brought to justice.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Ireland.
Source: Apo-Opa

Join an Earth Hour Adventure dash on 30 March 2019

26.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)

Get into the spirit of Earth Hour with family or friends by taking part in an orienteering-style adventure dash in one of South Africa’s most beautiful national botanical gardens.

Following on two successive years of successful ‘dashes’, WWF will again be hosting Earth Hour Adventure events at the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden in Cape Town and, for the first time, in the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden in Roodepoort, Johannesburg.

The events, which are particularly popular with families, will kick off at 6pm on 30 March 2019 and once the “dash” commences, participants will navigate their way by headlamps to hidden check points dotted across a 5km course in the gardens.

After all the action, everyone will be encouraged to spread a picnic blanket on the lawns while marking Earth Hour between 8.30pm and 9.30pm along with millions of people around the world.

Johannesburg media personality ProVerb will be the MC for the evening at the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Gardens while and celebrity presenter Zoë Brown will be behind the microphone in Cape Town.

The Earth Hour Adventure is a fundraiser for WWF-SA and sponsored by Virgin Active.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF).

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World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)
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Terrorist attack in Mali

26.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain
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The Spanish Government sends its most sincere condolences to the victims' families and friends, and wishes the wounded a speedy recovery. 

Spain encourages the Malian authorities to carry out a thorough investigation of this attack in order to clarify the causes and identify the culprits so that they are brought to justice. Spain also supports the efforts made by the Malian Government for the security and protection of the villages located in the centre of the country with the aim of restoring peace and stability.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation of Spain.
Source: Apo-Opa

Ignazio Cassis holds political talks in Egypt on bilateral cooperation, regional issues and migration

26.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland
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On a working visit to Cairo, Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry. The talks focused on Switzerland's relations with Egypt, an important partner country in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Mr Cassis, head of the FDFA, had started his working visit on Sunday with an event marking 110 years of bilateral trade relations, where he met with Egypt's Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr and toured a Swiss-supported project in migration.

Five millennia ago Egypt was already known as one of the greatest civilizations of the ancient world – a subject that has long fascinated researchers everywhere, including Switzerland. With a population of almost 100 million, Egypt continues to play a leading role today and serves as a bridge in the MENA region.

Egypt has one of the most diversified economies in Africa and is Switzerland's fourth most important trading partner and biggest export market on the African continent. Bilateral trade in 2017 was worth around CHF 1.2 billion. There are approximately 100 Swiss companies operating in Egypt, employing over 10,000 people. Switzerland first opened a trade representation in Egypt in 1909. Yesterday the Swiss embassy hosted an event to mark the anniversary of that opening. “110 years are a testament to the proximity of our two countries and economies,” said Mr Cassis in his speech. “Egypt has always been the gateway to African and Asian markets, and remains a crucial partner for Switzerland for the stability in the region.” In the margins of the event, Mr Cassis also met with Egypt's Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr.

Mr Cassis spoke with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry about various aspects of bilateral relations, in particular peace support, business, research and cultural cooperation (e.g. in archaeology and cultural heritage). Another focal point of the talks was the implementation of Switzerland's strategy in Egypt. In this regard, Mr Cassis stressed the importance of freedom of opinion and assembly. He also assured Egypt of Switzerland's support in the areas of migration and vocational education and training for job creation. In addition, Mr Cassis thanked his interlocutors for the excellent legal cooperation between the FDFA and the Egyptian authorities in regard to consular assistance cases, enabling a number of Swiss children to be returned to their mothers. 

Regarding the situation in the MENA region, various possibilities were discussed in regard to joint engagement for peace and stability during Egypt's current presidency of the African Union. The foreign ministers signed a memorandum of understanding on intensifying cooperation between the two countries during this presidency, particularly in regard to peace support.

The focus on Sunday was on international cooperation. Through its economic and development cooperation in Egypt, Switzerland is also helping to improve living conditions for the local population. To learn more about the migration situation within Egypt, Mr Cassis yesterday visited St Andrew’s Refugee Services (StARS) – a project that is helping to improve the circumstances of migrants in the country.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Switzerland.
Source: Apo-Opa

Statement by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs on the issue relating to the Honorary Consul of Albania in Nigeria, Nitin Sandesara

26.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Albania
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On the issue relating to the Honorary Consul of Albania in Nigeria, Nitin Sandesara, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs informs as follows:

The formalities for appointing Mr. Nitin Sandesara as the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Albania in Nigeria were completed in January 2019. The formalities for the appointment were determined by the criteria and conditions, as specified in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations.

The grant of Albanian citizenship and issuance of Albanian passport to Mr. Sandesara is not a procedure that has been conducted through the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, neither is such procedure within the competence of this institution.

Furthermore, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs explains that even though, subject to Decision No. 335 by the Council of Ministers of 2 September 1997, such Ministry has the authority to issue diplomatic and service passports, neither a diplomatic passport, nor a service passport has been issued to Mr. Sandesara.

The case brought up recently that Mr. Sandesara has Albanian citizenship may infringe the image and reputation of both the Institution of the Honorary Consul, and the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and the Albanian State overall, irrespective of the fact that actions by Mr. Sandesara have been taken in his personal name.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs informs that it has all the legal rights to terminate the functions of the Honorary Consul.

The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has terminated the functions of the Honorary Consul of the Republic of Albania in Nigeria for Mr. Nitin Sandesara with immediate effect.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Albania.
Source: Apo-Opa

Africa in the Digital Era – Hype or Reality? Adebayo Adedeji Annual lecture

26.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Former Nigerian Minister for Communications Technology, Dr. Omobola Johnson, delivered the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (ECA) (www.UNECA.org) annual Adebayo Adedeji at the ongoing Conference of Ministers in Marrakech.

Held in memory of the Nigerian scholar Adebayo Adedeji – arguably one of Africa’s leading proponent of regional integration – the lecture focused around the question of digital transformation in Africa: Hype or Reality? “There is enough evidence that Africa can be digitally transformed. But what is holding us back? asked Dr Johnson when she delivered the lecture to ministers and a host of experts attending the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Conference of Ministers.

As the world-wide-web celebrates 30 years, its inventor Tim Berners-Lee told a Nigerian audience recently that the country represents both the present and future of the web, when you look at how it is impacting lives in Nigeria, but also across the continent.

Adedeji was the ECA’s 3rd and longest serving Executive Secretary (1975- 1991). He is renown and admired for his relentless calls for Africa to move away from conventional ideas of international trade and economic development. He is also credited for championing calls that led to the creation of ECOWAS. It is also widely accepted that his ideas form part of the pillars on which the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is anchored.

Economic experts agree that, in the currently environment, the success of this continental trading bloc, will hugely depend on digital technology, tools and skills. Johnson cited a number of success stories across the continent and how they have used technology to provide services to the hitherto uncatered for or under served, but said that many challenges remained.

“Affordability is an issue: the internationally agreed target is for 1gb of data to cost no more than two percent of the average national monthly income. In Africa this currently stands at 8.76%, compared to 3.5% in Latin America or 1.54% in Asia. And the latest affordability reports show that this has increased over the past year.,” she said.

She also noted disturbing tax trends, both on digital infrastructure and utilization taxes, which although seductive, can often have unintended consequences, such as increasing the cost of digitisation and curbing its transformative impact.

She called for an urgent need to strengthen the infrastructure and fibre network.

Currently when connecting Cape to Khartoum, she said, the connection will take them via London, New York, San Jose and Tokyo to arrive in Khartoum 409milliseconds later.

She also decried how most of Africa’s connections are via undersea cables connecting via Europe or elsewhere. “It is the private sector that can solve this issue,” she said, “…but they also need to be supported and incentivized.”

“When you recognize these challenges and accept that there is a lack of scale amongst our start-ups it could be argued therefore that this digital transformation we speak about might be hyped. But the increased ownership of mobile phones and those that have access to it is having a true impact.,” she stated

She added that many companies across different sectors using tech to transform their sectors from energy, to agriculture to healthcare. “But it’s work in progress,” She further urged governments to be more supportive and develop a long-term digital strategy. “We also need to be more innovative in our financing mechanisms to allow VC to borrow at low rates and help scale up innovators.”

She mentioned the urgent need to develop a pool of skilled talent that can turn the continent into the world’s digital talent pool in the same way that China became the world’s factory, through a large labour force and targeted government policy.

Invited to respond to the lecture, Tawanda Sibanda, partner at global consultancy McKinsey, looked back at the predictions they made in their Lions Go Digital report to assess progress. In the 5 years since the report was released the results have been mixed, he said. They had estimated that by 2025 digital transformation could raise GDP by 8% by 2025 and make $300bn of economic impact across health, education, retail, agriculture and financial services.

Despite certain metrics being ahead of schedule – smartphone penetration for example – this has not translated into macro-economic numbers as would have been expected. The percentage of banked for example, has only increased from 26% to 33% in those five years.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA).

Media Contact:
Mercy Wambui
Email: wambui@un.org

Constance Haasz
Email: c.haasz@icpublications.com

About Economic Commission for Africa (ECA):
Established by the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN) in 1958 as one of the UN’s five regional commissions, ECA’s (www.UNECA.org) mandate is to promote the economic and social development of its member States, foster intra-regional integration, and promote international cooperation for Africa’s development. ECA also provides technical advisory services to African governments, intergovernmental organizations and institutions. In addition, it formulates and promotes development assistance programs and acts as the executing agency for relevant operational projects. Made up of 54 member States, and playing a dual role as a regional arm of the UN and as a key component of the African institutional landscape, ECA is well positioned to make unique contributions to address the continent’s developmental challenges. The ECA is headquartered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with offices in Rabat, Lusaka, Kigali, Niamey, Yaoundé and Dakar.
Website: www.UNECA.org
 
About the Conference of Ministers:
The 52nd session of the Conference of African Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development (www.UNECA.org/cfm2019) is taking place the Palmeraie Golf Palace in Marrakech, Morocco. The Committee of Experts will commence on Wednesday, 20 March and end on Friday, 22 March 2019. The ministerial segment of the Conference of Ministers will take place on Monday, 25 and Tuesday, 26 March 2019. The twentieth session of the Regional Coordination Mechanism for Africa (RCM-Africa) and side events will take place on Saturday, 23 and Sunday, 24 March 2019 at the same venue.

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United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)
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Handshake for a Safer Maritime Sector

25.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Embassy of Denmark in Ghana

In a signing ceremony the Minister of Transport, Hon. Kwaku Ofori Asiamah, along with the newly appointed Director General of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Mr. Thomas Kofi Alonsi and the Director General Andreas Nordseth from the Danish Maritime Authority, signed a contract for three-year collaboration. The contract was also signed by the Danish Minister for Industry Business and Financial Affairs.

The signing marked the continuation of the maritime collaboration between Ghana and Denmark which started in 2015. The second phase will further enhance e-navigation in Ghana, support implementation of international maritime regulations and train tug boat captains in advanced simulators in Denmark.

“We are very pleased to have gained so much from the maritime cooperation between Denmark and Ghana. With the continuation of the cooperation, we will work even closer together” Andreas Nordseth, Director General of the Danish Maritime Authority, said during the signing ceremony.

Ghana first mover on e-navigation
In 2017 Ghana was the first in Africa and fifth in the world to pilot an e-navigation platform as a result of the initial collaboration.

“We have come a long way on enhancing our compliance to international, maritime regulations. Additionally, the e-navigation platform is revolutionary in making navigation in Ghanaian water safer by e.g. broadcasting Maritime Safety Information digitally and in real time” the newly appointed director general of the Ghana Maritime Authority, Mr. Thomas Kofi Alonsi, added.

In the coming years the platform will be further advanced by e.g. updating the map of Lake Volta with submerged tree stumps making vast areas of the lake more accessible.

Enhancing the Blue Economy in Ghana
Ghana is one of the foremost countries in the region to comply with international regulations and this collaboration will ensure that Ghana stays in a leading position.

As part of the collaboration a total of four tug boat captains from Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority will improve their qualification using ship simulators which are able to resemble the new Tema Port Terminal and the much bigger ships calling port there.

“Ghana is a long-lasting partner country to Denmark and an important maritime hub to West Africa. Continuing this maritime collaboration will provide capacity building support to the new Tema Port Terminal and further strengthen the ties between our two, seafaring nations,” H. E. Tove Degnbol, Ambassador of Denmark to Ghana, said during the signing ceremony.

Ghana and Denmark commit on maritime cooperation until 2021.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of Denmark in Ghana.

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Embassy of Denmark in Ghana
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President of Zimbabwe Receives Credentials of Qatar's Ambassador

25.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The State of Qatar
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HE President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa received the credentials of HE Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the State of Qatar (non resident) to the Republic of Zimbabwe, Abdulla Hussain Al Jaber.

HE the Ambassador conveyed the greetings of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to HE the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe and HH's wishes of good health and happiness to him, and to the Government and people of Zimbabwe further progress and prosperity.

For his part, HE President of the Republic of Zimbabwe entrusted HE the Ambassador to convey his greetings to HH the Amir, and his wishes of good health and happiness, and to people of Qatar further progress and prosperity.

HE the President also wished HE the Ambassador success in his new duties and in strengthening the friendly relations and cooperation between the State of Qatar and the Republic of Zimbabwe. 

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The State of Qatar.
Source: Apo-Opa

USAID Administrator Kicks Off Farm Productivity Project in Upper Egypt

25.March.2019 · Posted in APO-OPA

U.S. Embassy - Cairo

During his visit to Egypt, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Administrator Mark Green launched a $37 million project to enhance productivity across Egypt’s entire agricultural value chain, beginning on the farm and extending to when products reach consumers.

The “Feed the Future” project helps farmers in Upper Egypt become more self-reliant and grow marketable crops for export that meet international standards. Egyptian farmers and food processors will establish connections to domestic and international markets, gain access to financing, and increase their compliance to food and safety standards. The project also helps agribusinesses modernize food technology and delivery systems by upgrading processing facilities, refrigeration trucks, and water-efficient irrigation systems.

Speaking in Esna, USAID Administrator Mark Green said, “At USAID, helping our partners to improve agricultural productivity is one of our highest priorities, because advancing food security is an essential path to prosperity and self-reliance.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of U.S. Embassy – Cairo.

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U.S. Embassy - Cairo
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