Category Archives: Development

Urpilainen: Team Europe initiatives

Brussels: Statement by Commissioner Urpilainen during the Informal Meeting of Development Ministers 29/09/2020:

“Despite the postponement of the Summit, we must keep the momentum in our engagement with African partners. We still have a lot of work to engage and agree on key issues.

How we can use the time ahead to deliver at the Summit? I would like to put forward three ideas.

First, a coordinated outreach: we have already set important platforms to stimulate discussions. And at the Foreign Affairs Council last Monday, Ministers expressed their readiness to intensify the political outreach to African partners and I am sure you will be part of it too. I welcome this decision and we could design a coordinated process.

Secondly, we should use the time to properly reflect, together with our African partners, on how we can turn the priorities into concrete deliverables.

For example, an important deliverable could be a comprehensive investment package, linked to the SDGs.

Furthermore, we can take forward the issue of debt, and I would suggest we have this discussion jointly with our colleagues the Ministers of Finance, as it is only if we act together that we could have real influence.

My third and final point is that our best shot at delivering on our ambitions is of course as Team Europe. Of the global Team Europe response to COVID-19, almost EUR 7 billion, excluding guarantees, will go to Africa. And let us not forget the impressive work Team Europe has done on vaccines initiatives or the G20-Paris Club Debt Service Suspension Initiative.

Our services, including on the ground in Africa, have started to work very closely to identify possible Team Europe Initiatives that should allow us to have real transformative impact and become a partner of reference.

Those Team Europe Initiatives are guided by the priorities outlined in the Joint Communication on a Strategy with Africa, which remain valid.

To further give political impetus I would like to propose that we write together co-signed letters to our Embassies and Delegations in partner countries to consolidate and strengthen Team Europe in the next programming phase”.

EU: Post-Cotonou informal discussion

Brussels 29.09.2020 The African Union – European Union partnership, post-Cotonou agreement were on the top of the agenda of the informal meeting of EU Development Ministers the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell has chaired today.

Within the framework of the German EU Council Presidency, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller, together with the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, hosted an informal meeting of EU Development Ministers. One important issue for discussion was be the EU’s future relations with Africa. The meeting has also served as basis in preparation of the Formal Meeting of EU Development Ministers in November. Due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting took place virtually via tele-conference.

Ghana President Akufo-Addo elected Chairman of ECOWAS

Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo,77, has just been elected as the new Chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), at the ongoing 57th ECOWAS Summit, which is being held in Niamey, capital of Niger.

The announcement has been made by Ghana government. The summit is being held at the Mahatma Gandhi International Conference Centre, where leaders will be considering reports form the 44th Ordinary Session of the Mediation and Security Council at the Ministerial Level and the 84th Ordinary Session of the Ecowas Council of Ministers, which preceded the Summit, among others.

Among first to congratulate the President has been his wife Mme.Rebecca Akufo-Addo, the First Lady of Ghana.

In his own country, Ghana, President Akufo-Addo has been not spared from sharp criticism. The Minority in Parliament has dabbed President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ‘Messiah of corruption’ following the missing excavators scandal.

The President, the Minority said, is the epicenter of all the corrupt deals and plain thievery occurring in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government.

Alghouth Ghana is assessed among the least corrupt African countries, the
Ghana’s anti-graft body, Ghana Integrity Initiative (GII), which is Transparency International’s Local Chapter, has announced that the country “loses close to US$3 billion to corruption annually,” according to GhanaWeb news portal.

The outlet cited GII Executive Director Linda Ofori-Kwafo, who stressed that successive governments have attempted to minimise corruption through “moral crusades to uphold high ethics, the confiscation of properties found to have been acquired through corruption or public reforms,” but that there is still a long way ahead to fight the problem.

EU supports East Africa in locust outbreak

The EU has mobilised a further €15 million to support the United Nations and partner countries in the fight against one of the worst desert locust outbreaks seen in East Africa in decades.

The desert locust outbreak has had a devastating impact on food security in an already vulnerable region. Efforts to halt the spread of the locust infestation have been further strained due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is why the EU is increasing its support to the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) response plan and will support broader EU development cooperation and humanitarian assistance in the region.

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, said: “Our friends and partners in the Horn of Africa have experienced the catastrophic consequences of this desert locust outbreak on livelihoods and food security, a situation that is aggravated by the coronavirus pandemic which has made intervention efforts more difficult. Earlier this year we demonstrated the need to react quickly to combat the outbreak. Today’s decision to increase our support shows we are determined to continue our action to tackle food insecurity as a founding member of the Global Network Against Food Crises.”

The decision coincided with an Informal Ministerial on the Horn of Africa hosted by Finland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Pekka Haavisto, and attended by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen; African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security, Smaїl Chergui; UN Under-Secretary-General for Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, Rosemary A. DiCarlo and IGAD Executive Secretary Dr. Workneh Gebeyehu.

The FAO has formulated a response plan, but given the continued desert locust crisis, country interventions must be scaled up to support national governments of the affected countries. The EU, together with partners in the region, is committed to containing this outbreak, anticipating its impacts on food and nutrition security and protecting the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable people across Eastern Africa and beyond.

The EU’s €15 million contribution announced today comes in addition to €42 million mobilised in early 2020 for a broad humanitarian-development approach in the region.

The desert locust is considered the most destructive migratory pest in the world. Crop and food losses in affected areas can be enormous, generating direct dramatic negative impacts on agriculture and livelihoods. Local food markets can also be affected, as food availability declines, impacting on an already vulnerable population through spikes to food prices.

The situation in East Africa has rapidly deteriorated, where 27.5 million people suffer from severe food insecurity and at least 35 million more are at risk. Weather conditions have been unusually conducive to the breeding and further spreading of locusts. Damage to crop and pasture have been devastating across Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia and the outbreak may spread to neighbouring countries, particularly Djibouti, Eritrea, South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. Yemen, Sudan, Iran, India and Pakistan are also at risk.

The FAO’s response plan estimates that around €206 million will be required for the most urgent activities for both desert locust control and agricultural livelihood protection and recovery.

EU co-hosts conference on Sudan

On Thursday 25 June 2020, Sudan, the European Union, the United Nations and Germany will co-host a virtual High-level international conference. Around 50 countries and international organisations will take part in the Conference. While the Sudanese Government commits itself to carry the 2019 revolution reforms forward, almost 50 countries and international organisations are offering Sudan a partnership to support the country throughout the political transition up to the elections in 2022.

This Conference will be the opportunity to reiterate the strong political support of the international community to the ongoing transition in Sudan.

It will also aim at mobilising financial support for the democratic transition, economic recovery and humanitarian needs, as the coronavirus pandemic added another strain to the country’s economic situation and increased the humanitarian needs. The conference will also provide a platform for the country’s authorities to present the reforms undertaken so far. The goal is to also raise enough funds to kick-start a social protection programme by the World Bank and the Sudanese Government that helps Sudanese families in need. The partners will also support the International Monetary Fund to open up Sudan’s road towards debt relief.

The conference will start at 15:00 with an opening panel discussion with the participation of the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission Josep Borrell Fontelles, his co-chairs Abdalla Hamdok, Prime Minister of the Republic of Sudan, Heiko Maas, Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs of Germany, and António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations. They will discuss the reforms and steps undertaken since last August by the Transitional Government as well as the way forward.

There will be a pledging round during which the EU pledge will be delivered by Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, and Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič.

Between the pledges, the Sudanese Reform Agenda will be discussed with the Sudanese Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Ibrahim El-Badawi, Sudanese Minister of Labour Lena el-Sheikh Mahjoub and representatives of the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

Last year, the world watched in admiration as hundreds of thousands of Sudanese men and women took to the streets to peacefully demand change in one of the world’s most brutal dictatorships. As months of protests led to the fall of President Omar al-Bashir’s regime and the first civilian Government in over 30 years, the Sudanese people showed the world that peaceful change is possible.

COVID19: EU supports Africa women

European Commission among the other prominent international players has been alarmed by the rising levels of violence against women and girls, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic confinement measures but also following the social-economic stress and insecurity that many families have to face.

In sub-Saharan Africa women are disproportionally more exposed to both health and economic risks, and this is linked to their roles and responsibilities in their communities or society as a whole. Unfortunately, according to available statistics the threat of child marriage is also greater when communities are affected by shocks like disease outbreak, when all the referral systems to prevent and respond to gender-based violence may underperform.

Responding to the significance attributed by the EU to gender equality and women and girls empowerment, including Africa, the European Commission currently invests in around 40 ongoing projects targeting or contributing to the elimination of violence against women and girls on the African continent amounting to approximately €310 million. The most significant one for a total amount of €250 million is the Spotlight Initiative (Africa envelope), – the largest global programme to eliminate violence against women and girls, with an initial investment of €500 million, launched in September 2017. The Initiative aims at eliminating all forms of VAWG in partner countries from five regions: Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific.

In Sub Saharan Africa the objective is to prevent, combat and prosecute sexual and gender-based violence against women and girls, including the elimination of harmful practices, such as child, early and forced marriage and female genital mutilation. The programme is implemented in eight African countries (Liberia, Mali, Malawi, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe) for a total amount of €220 million.

The African regional programme complements eight countries programmes with a substantive allocation of €30 million. An allocation of 10% of the overall Africa investment budget supports the women’s movement which is implemented by two existing UN Trust Funds (the UN Women Peace and Humanitarian Fund, and the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women and Girls).

According to the EU officials, following the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, the Commission is adapting and refocusing the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to identify risk factors related to pandemic context and to respond to critical needs. Efforts are currently focussing on ensuring swift action to counter increased domestic violence, boost prevention, support survivors and support civil society organisations.

The EU supports the scale-up of existing hotlines, shelters and equipping health, police, justice and social protection sectors for women and girls. One good example is Mozambique, where Spotlight Initiative funding is being used to strengthen the preparedness of staff working in health centres and shelters to better assist victims. Protective gear and hygiene material is being supplied in these centres and shelters. Spotlight also supports police in better responding to violence cases by providing transport and mobile phones.

Other projects are mainly implemented by Civil Society Organisations (NGO). The EU contribution to these projects is close to €60 million, and they are implemented across the African continent.

The inclusion of the prevention of and response to gender-based violence, and is aligned to COVID-19 national prevention and containment measures, is the EU ongoing mission, for example, in Uganda, a consortium led by CARE Denmark, in partnership with other three international and four national NGOs, working on empowerment, accountability and leadership for refugees and host communities, will continue to provide prevention and response services to survivors of gender-based violence and work on other protection issues.

Experiences of past epidemics lead to conclusion that intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation and abuse increase during these periods. Based on this knowledge CARE and partners have adapted the assistance: case management will be provided remotely, while social workers stationed at the health facilities will support gender-based violence screening. For high risk cases, face-to-face interactions will continue, while maintaining social distancing and hand hygiene precautions. The EU’s humanitarian contribution to this action is €2.3 million. In 2019, it is estimated that the EU allocated approximately €26 million of its humanitarian aid budget to the prevention and response to gender-based violence worldwide.

Most EU-funded projects to eliminate violence against women and girls are implemented in partnership with the Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) or with international organisations. When the European Commission works with international organisations, the European civil servants also often work with CSOs. For the Spotlight Initiative it is foreseen that at country level, 30-50% should be delivered through CSOs. CSOs also play a crucial role in the design and the governance of the Spotlight Initiative, at national, regional and global level.

Following the COVID crisis, the EU is also providing flexible support to women’s organisations and grassroots organisations, including the much needed core funding. In this context, the EU in close collaboration with the UN is re-directing around €15 million to support and ensure business continuity of CSOs and mitigate challenges and risks linked to the COVID-19 crisis through two above mentioned UN Trust Funds. In the short term, the funds support activités to counter the increase of domestic violence under COVID-19 crisis, prevention, support to survivors, including Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), and help provide a lifeline to women’s organisations, CSOs working on gender-based violence related issues.

The Commission adopted its Communication on a global response to COVID-19 in April 2020. This “Team Europe” response is a joint effort between the European Union, its member states and European financial institutions to mobilise resources to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

In order to ensure a comprehensive response, the EU’s response includes both urgent, short-term emergency measures, and more medium to long-term measures such as research and health systems strengthening (right to health), and mitigating the economic and social impact.

The response also includes social protection actions, addressing all inequalities and non-discrimination and promotion of human rights. The Communication recalls the importance “to promote and uphold good governance, human rights, the rule of law, gender equality and non-discrimination, decent work conditions, as well as fundamental values and humanitarian principles”.

Nigeria 40% population in poverty

Nigeria National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in a report monitoring poverty and inequality from September 2018 to October 2019, said 40% of people in the country lived below its poverty line of 137,430 naira ($381.75) per year. It signifies that it represents 82.9 million people of the most populaous country in Africa.

Nigeria is the top oil exporter in Africa, which has generated wealth related to crude sales that account for more than half of government revenue. But a failure to diversify the economy and build much needed transport and power infrastructure has retained growth and the spread of wealth beyond a rich elite.

Rapid population growth exceeds economic growth, which stands at around 2%. The United Nations (UN) estimates that Nigeria will have a population of 400 million ihnabitant by 2050.

Nigeria was already struggling to shake off the impact of a 2016 recession before the new coronavirus pandemic hit economies worldwide.

Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and culturally diverse federation which is formed by 36 autonomous states and the Federal Capital Territory.

Inequality in terms of income and opportunities has been progressing rapidly and has affected poverty reduction. The North-South divide has widened in recent years due to the Boko Haram insurgency and a lack of economic development in the northern part of the country.

Large pockets of Nigeria’s population still live in extreme poverty, without adequate access to basic services, and could benefit from more inclusive development policies. The lack of job opportunities is at the core of the high poverty levels, of regional inequality, and of social and political unrest in the country.

DRC escape of Ebola patient

The Democratic Republic of Congo was two days away from announcing the end of the world’s second-largest Ebola epidemic when a new chain of infection was discovered on April 10, following more than seven weeks without a new case.

Since then, health authorities have sought to contain any renewed spread of infections.

But on April 18 a 28-year-old motorbike taxi-driver who had tested positive for Ebola ran away from the centre where he was being treated in the town of Beni.

“We are using all the options to get him out of the community,” said Boubacar Diallo, deputy incident manager for the WHO’s Ebola response operation. “We are expecting secondary cases from him.”

An Ebola outbreak in eastern Congo may spread again after a patient escaped from a clinic, complicating efforts to contain the disease that has infected six people since last week, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on April 19.

Belgium colonial taboo

By the end of last year Africa Museum in outskirts of Brussels, Belgium, has terminated cooperation with a guide accused of “racist comments” during a tour with students, because of mentioning some positive sides of the colonial past.
He is no longer a guide at our museum,” the director of the Museum Guido Gryseels said while dealing with the allegations. “We have distanced ourselves from his statements.”

The guide, who has not been named, but referred in social media as Dirk, has made some unsuccessful attempts to present an objective from his point of view concept of Belgium’s colonialism of Africa, mentioning some positive elements of introduction of advantages of Western civilisation to Congo, which are an absolute taboo in Belgium modern cultural discourse.

During a recent tour of the Museum given to a group of history students from the University of Antwerp, one of their number, Hanane Llouh, alleged on Twitter and to Agence France Press (AFP),

The student Ms.Llouh wrote on her Twitter page that she was «furious and offended» by the guide interpretations of the past.

Gryseels said the guide, with whom he discussed the complaint, agreed to a “lack of judgement” in some of his comments portraying colonial history positively, but denied making outright racist statements.

We have stopped our collaboration with him,Gryseels said, adding: “He’s a freelancer so we can’t really fire him.”

However not everyone approved the draconian measures of the Museum administration against the ‘heretic‘ guide. The voices were raised against the disproportionate reaction, indicating that the guide Dirk did not twist any facts or figures. However his vision of Congo history was influenced by very personal souvenirs kept in his family. Apparently the stories of his grandmother residing there were preciosus to him, and he was pround of her, treating her African servant as a member of the family, eating all together at the table once a week in a patriarchal manner. Dirk called for more ‘nuanced‘ vision of colonial past, avoiding the trap generalisations, reproducing clichées. The guide also complained that while soliciting he was confronted with discirmination based on his skin color, but finally he was admitted for the job.

Hanane Llouh studies both history and fashion design in Antwerp, apparently she is also an activist, entering polemics with the prominent politician Filip Dewinter from Vlaams Belang party, who objects her imposing burkini swiming costume and the other attributes of Muslim culture onto Flemish lifestyle. “Follow your heart! If you choose a direction in which you always reluctantly dive behind the books, that will have a negative impact on your own well-being…” shares her thoughts student Llouh in an interview for University site, explaining her activism.

Apparently the heart of Ms.Llouh as compass is not accepted by everyone universally. Dewinter has been pointing at Llouh, while criticising wearing the veil in Univeristy of Antwerp (UA). “While women risk their lives in Iran to shed headscarves, Islam discrimination symbol is propagated here by UA! How cynical” he wrote. (Hanane Llouh on the image below in veil).

African Museum is one of five among Belgian establishments nominated for the ‘European Museum of the Year Award’, the European Museum Forum announced.

The Africa Museum has welcomed more than 350,000 visitors since it was re-opened in December 2019, according to BX1. Before the encounter with Antwerp University students. the expelled guide Dirk has conducted 70 groups, and neither of them complained about his narrative.

Sindika Dokolo repatriates African heritage

#IncarNations exhibition of African artefacts intends to break the established patterns, presenting African in its aesthetics magnitude, but regard it as a philosophy. The synergy between Congolese art collector Sindika Dokolo (47) and South African artist Kendell Geers (51) produced a concept of appreciation  of continent’s cultural heritage bypassing traditional outlook. (Image above: Sindika Dokolo (right) and Nadia Yala Kisukidi, philosopher, BOZAR, October 4, 2019).

Three months event in Brussels prestigious cultural centre BOZAR has concluded with debates on the future of African art heritage, and its crucial role in nation building process, inspiring communities to evolve, moving away from colonial past, including break-away of imagination. (Image above: Chokwe Mask, Angola, #Incarnations, BOZAR)

Sindika Dokolo is convinced that in globalisation context, assembling African art and repatriating the artefacts to Africa is a significant part of the inter-African discussion on cultural heritage, restoring the unique role of African people in ensemble of nations.

Determined to shift away from “exoticism”  and detachment of the artefacts from the origins, Congolese Dokolo attempts to reconstruct African history  in its original purity of ante-Colonial era,  before Portuguese entered Congo.

Dokolo insists that African artefacts are more than objects, but crucial elements in inter-African debate on cultural heritage, restoring the forgotten chapter of African history, and projecting the unique profile of  African identity.

The Congolese collector underlines, that the very same pieces esteemed by Western art experts as masterpieces, are regarded by many Africans as expressions of “savagery” of ante-Colonial era, preferring to see them to be destroyed and forgotten. From this point of view the establishment of African art museums in Africa will help the complex process of learning to appreciate proper African heritage. But not only, because Dokolo is convinced art is the unique bridge that will empower Africans to  “love” themselves, and heal the scars left by savageries of Colonialism.

https://twitter.com/annavandensky/status/1180169457219653632?s=21

Image below: Sindika Dokolo in search of lost African art, #IncarNations exhibition


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