Daily Archives: June 5, 2017

Young leaders gather to generate innovative solutions to tough ...

ACCRA, Ghana, June 5, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — More than 130 young African leaders met in Accra, Ghana from May 31 to June 1 to collaborate on solutions to tough challenges in their countries and communities.

Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders logo

At the West Africa Regional Conference as part of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, these young professionals collaborated with their peers to share solutions for deepening engagement with youth and communities. During the conference’s pitch competition, Fellows had the opportunity to showcase their state-of-the-art projects and ideas to potential business partners, including Rainbow Consult, Kwese TV, Rendeavour, nFortics, Africa Internship Academy, and The CSR Training Institute.

Mandela Washington Fellow Laud Anthony Basing from Ghana won the competition with his innovative pitch for a v-discharge toolkit, a self-administered vaginal diagnostic tool that connects to a mobile app to treat infections and improve health outcomes for women across West Africa.

“The pitch competition and the Fellowship provided an important platform to showcase my product, obtain important feedback, find partners, and acquire investors,” Basing explained. Other pitches included a disability-friendly apparel business, a culinary tourism company, a multi-purpose community tool bank, and a community literacy project.

Young African leaders from 21 countries attended the conference, including Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, and Togo.

U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Robert P. Jackson urged Fellows to continue to push forward, stressing that, “innovation is what is needed to change the face of the continent. Leaders are those who refuse to give up in the face of challenges.”

Dr. Patrick Awuah, Founder and President of Ashesi University College, delivered the keynote address and reminded Fellows that, “the character of a leader will become the destiny of a nation.”

The Mandela Washington Fellowship brings 1,000 young African professionals from across the continent to US universities for six weeks of leadership training. Competitively selected, the Fellows represent the continent’s emerging generation of entrepreneurs, community leaders, and public officials working to shape the future of Africa.

Fellows also presented on how they are tackling community problems to support entrepreneurship, end youth unemployment, and foster economic development.

Theo Sowa, CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund, encouraged Fellows to understand the importance of collaborating with each other, now and into the future. “Leadership is not about the individual. It’s about the collective and working together.”

USAID and IREX support Mandela Washington Fellows in Africa after they complete the U.S.-based portion of the Fellowship, with continuing professional development opportunities, mentoring, networking, and training to advance these young leaders along their professional endeavors as they help build a brighter future for Africa and forge deeper bonds with counterparts in the United States.

“Through the Fellowship, these young leaders can engage and build the kind of relationships, business practices, and transparent governance that is essential for both African and US businesses to enter and thrive in emerging markets,” said Taleb Salhab, Vice President for Global Programs at IREX.

Photos  and  video  from the conference are available online.

Hashtag: #MWFCon17

Alex Cole, Director of Strategic Communications, IREX

Logo – http://mma.prnewswire.com/media/150532/irex_mandela_washington_fellowship_logo.jpg

Statistician-General Pali Lehohla releases Gross domestic product, Q1 ...

The Statistician-General of South Africa, Dr Pali Lehohla, will release the Gross domestic product (GDP) estimates for the first quarter of 2017 at a media briefing to be held on Tuesday, 6 June 2017 in Pretoria.

Source: Government of South Africa

Cease-fire in Effect in South Sudan’s War-torn Yei River State

KAMPALA � A cease-fire has taken effect in South Sudan's war-torn Yei River state. The deal was signed Sunday in Uganda between a breakaway faction from the SPLA in opposition and the government. But top opposition SPLM-IO leaders say they do not recognize the deal.

A peace agreement for Yei River state came after a four day joint military committee meeting in Kampala to discuss a cessation of hostilities, permanent cease-fire, national dialogue, and the opening of all roads leading to and from Yei town in South Sudan.

The key agreement was the Sudan People's Liberation Army in opposition agreed to declare a permanent cease-fire and for both sides to ensure Yei River State is not a battleground.

Brigadier General Hillary Edson Yakani represented the SPLA in opposition and explained some of their demands.

We have seen there are a lot of challenges, especially from the behavior of some military persons who were misusing their positions in mishandling our citizens, so this is one of our greatest demands, asking the government to bring in a well-balanced national army who will really handle people with all the respect and what is required of a national army, said Yakani.

Lead government negotiator Major General Marshal Stephen Babanen says the agreement signed Sunday is going to be fully operational in 18 weeks, including the integration of the former rebels into the national army.

As we have signed the agreement and the permanent cease fire, they are going to move to pre-assembly areas which will take them one to two weeks and then in the said week they will go to the assembly areas where all the activities of screening, training and integration will take place, he said.

But when VOA contacted the main opposition SPLM-IO deputy spokesman Colonel Lam Paul Gabriel he said they do not recognize the group led by Brigadier General Yakani. Gabriel said those who signed the "fake" peace deal are individuals who deserted opposition leader Riek Machar.

But Yakani says he represents more than 16,000 armed troops in Yei River State.

When we went to the bush we did not sign a document with Riek Machar, but we all went to the bush because there was problem, so now that we are coming back, we command the forces in Yei River State, it is not Riek Machar who commands the forces, he said.

The agreement was a result of a request from South Sudan's President Salva Kiir to Uganda's Yoweri Museveni.

The grassroots peace initiative process follows a January visit to Yei by Kiir.

Yei was a headquarters of the SPLA during the struggle with Sudan and has been at the heart of the fighting in South Sudan. The U.N. human rights office released a report in May alleging pro-government forces killed at least 114 civilians in and around Yei town from July 2016 to January 2017. The army has denied those allegations.

Yei town was considered mostly peaceful until the flare-up of violence in July 2016, following Machar's departure from Juba. Since that time, many residents have fled, often to refugee settlements in neighboring Uganda.

Source: Voice of America


BAMAKO, The countries of West Africa's Sahel region are requesting 50 million euros (US$56 million) from the European Union (EU) to help set up a multinational force to take on militant groups, Mali's military chief said.

The vast, arid zone has in recent years become a breeding ground for terrorist groups � some linked to al Qaeda and Daesh � that European nations, particularly France, fear could menace Europe if left unchecked.

Chad, Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania � the so-called G5 Sahel countries � have proposed a regional task force designed to tackle the cross-border threat. But implementation of the plan has lagged, partly due to funding obstacles.

The council of ministers of the G5 Sahel countries is making a request to the European Union to financially support the deployment and functioning of the G5 Sahel Joint Force, Malian General Didier Dacko said.

He was speaking at a meeting in Mali's capital Bamako between G5 Sahel military chiefs, EU diplomats and officers from France's regional anti-militant force, Operation Barkhane, that aimed to map out what areas required assistance.

Last year, the group proposed establishing special units, each composed of around 100 well-trained soldiers, capable of responding quickly to shifting threats, which would be deployed in areas where militant groups are known to operate.

They would complement the efforts of regular armed forces, United Nations peacekeepers in Mali and Operation Barkhane, which has around 4,000 French troops deployed across the five Sahel countries.

France spearheaded a 2013 military intervention that successfully drove back militants who had seized Mali's desert north a year earlier. However, militants continue to attack local security forces, U.N. peacekeepers and civilian targets across the region.

New French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited Mali on his first trip outside of Europe last month, has reaffirmed Paris's commitment to the region and called on Germany and other European nations to ramp up military and development aid.

French soldiers killed about 20 militants in Mali this week, France's defense ministry said. The announcement came a day after several French soldiers were wounded, one seriously, in a mortar attack claimed by al Qaeda's local affiliate on a U.N. peacekeeping camp in Mali's north.