African Union Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat shared the 2019 roadmap for the African Union in his 2018 end of year address. He recapped achievements, acknowledging the work done and emphasizing the importance of the journey ahead.
Some Highlights from his speech and the plan ahead are below
The African Passport
” The Commission will continue to pay particular attention to the free movement of persons, as the persisting obstacles to our citizens’ movement within their own continent are simply unacceptable. I congratulate those Member States that have taken measures to ease the procedures for the entry of African nationals into their territories and urge those that have not yet done so to join this growing momentum.
I am pleased to stress that, in February 2019, in Addis Ababa, at the 32nd Summit of our Union, the Commission will present, for adoption, guidelines on the design, production and issuance of the African passport, the materialization of which will take us one step closer to the long-held dream of complete free movement across the continent. “
” In February 2019, the AU, together with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), will organize the first ever international food safety conference in Addis Ababa, against the backdrop of significant progress in the implementation of the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation in Africa.”
Peace and Security
“The quest for peace and security has been a major priority for our Union in 2018. It is all the more so as our leaders have solemnly pledged to do everything possible to silence the guns by 2020, by ending the wars and other acts of violence that continue to afflict different parts of our continent and cause untold suffering. Clearly, achieving this goal requires renewed efforts on the part of all our Member States, civil society and other actors: peace is a global undertaking that requires the involvement of all.”
The year 2018 was marked by repeated attacks against multilateralism and the institutions that emanate from it. Africa has consistently expressed its concern over this situation, which is undermining the ability of the international community to meet the complex and multidimensional challenges it faces. The struggle for a more just world and greater solidarity, based on the scrupulous respect for international law, will remain a key priority for the continent.
I welcome the continued deepening of the partnership between the AU and the United Nations, as demonstrated by the signing, in January 2018, of a Memorandum of Understanding on the implementation of Agendas 2063 and 2030, which complements the agreement concluded in April 2017 in the area of peace and security, as well as by the joint actions undertaken in the field by the AU Commission and the United Nations Secretariat. Likewise, I welcome the progress made in the relationship with the EU as part of the follow-up to the November 2017 Abidjan Summit, and look forward to the successful holding of the Afro-Arab Summit in 2019 in Saudi Arabia.
At the same time, the AU will remain resolute in the fight against xenophobia and racism, which are manifest in migration policies in some parts of the world and whose rise is one of the facets of unilateralism. In this regard, the AU reaffirms its full support for the Global Compact on Migration agreed to in Marrakesh, Morocco, this month.
Sustainable Growers Rwanda Improving The Livelihood Of Female Coffee Farmers
Sustainable Growers Rwanda (SG-R) is a local non-profit. The organization is offering training to low-income female coffee farmers to improve their livelihood. Majority of the low coffee yields are due to wrong farm practices. Some of the farming techniques SG-R are teaching the female farmers are mulching and timely application of fertilizers and pesticides.
The program SG-R is teaching the female coffee farmers has topics like cooperative management, agricultural practices, governance and leadership, home coffee roasting, and gender mainstreaming. The training happened in the Huye District of Rwanda. The female coffee farmers were also trained in quality control and cupping. These are necessary to increase their access to bigger markets. The Regional Director at Sustainable Growers, Christine Condo, said,
“We have a heavy agenda to enrich women’s potential with skills and means. Their focus and discipline inspire me greatly. These initiatives impact positively on the entire life-cycle of their respective families and Communities. We believe that 60 percent of coffee quality is achieved from the farm. That is why we have been training them to take care of coffee from seedlings to roasting, to cupping and marketing.”
Impact of the training to female coffee farmers
A lot of Rwandan female coffee farmers are already reaping the benefits of the training. For example, Prisca Mukamurenzi has been suffering from low yield. The 46-year-old female coffee farmer used to harvest one kilogram of coffee from one tree. However, since attending the training, her fortune has changed for the better.
Mukamurenzi was one of the graduates of the SG-R training program comprising of about 3700 female coffee farmers. In attendance were farmers from the districts of Nyamagabe, Gisagara, Nyaruguru, and Huye. Last year Mukamurenzi was able to generate Rwf460,000 (approx. $510) from 250 kg of coffee. She also increased the coffee trees in her garden from 185 to 250.
To ensure the farmers implemented what they learned, SG-R also developed a reward scheme. The reward scheme called “Wakoze neza Muhinzi”, Premium Sharing Rewards was worth Rwf17 million (approx. $19,000). Depending on their level of performance, the women were rewarded with phones, radios, fabrics (ibitenge), mattresses, solar lights, pruning saws, pruning shears, sprayers, goats, pigs, and cows.
About Sustainable Growers Rwanda
Sustainable Growers Rwanda started its training in Nyaruguru District three years ago. However, the training has spread to other districts in the past years. The aim of their training is to improve the quality and prices of coffee as well as enhance transparency in coffee trading. Female coffee farmers in Nyaruguru are now reaping 100 percent increase in yield.
Tanzanian Government Takes A Bold Stand To Protect The Environment
Plastic accumulation is becoming a menace around the globe. Marine life often consumes these plastics which eventually get into humans. Many countries around the world are exploring alternatives to plastic use. However, Tanzania is the latest country to officially place a ban on the use of plastic bags. The ban will take effect from the 1st of June 2019. On Thursday 16th of May 2019, the government released a statement titled “Notice To Travelers Planning To Visit Tanzania” which read in part,
“The Government of Tanzania wishes to make an official note to travelers planning to travel to Tanzania that from 1st June 2019 all plastic bags, regardless of their thickness will be prohibited from being imported, exported, manufactured, sold, stored, supplied and used in mainland Tanzania.”
Consequently, the government is planning to set up a special desk at entry points to ensure total compliance. With the announcement, Tanzania joins about thirteen other African countries that have either introduced levy or banned plastic bags. However, the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa is calling on plastic bag manufacturers to find alternative technologies for bags.
The problem with plastic bags and exceptions to the ban
The major problem with plastic bags is the length of time it takes to decay. Some researchers are speculating it can take up to 1,000 years. Consequently, their accumulation can lead to flooding when they block drainages. Also, they can prevent rainwater from penetrating the soil leading to low crop yield.
However, the government understands the importance of plastic in packaging and makes exceptions for a few. According to the statement, plastics or plastic packaging for sanitary and waste management, foodstuff, agricultural sector, construction industry, industrial products, and medical services are exceptions to the ban. “Ziplo Bags” used for carrying toiletries are also permitted for travelers since they are unlikely to be disposed of in the country. Another part of the statement reads,
“The government does not intend for visitors to Tanzania to find their stay unpleasant as we enforce the ban. However, the government expects that, in appreciation of the imperative to protect the environment and keep our country clean and beautiful, our visitors will accept minor inconveniences resulting from this plastic bags ban.”
Commendations for the new law
The international community is sending their message of congratulations to the Tanzanian government for the historic move. One of such messages came from Dr. Amani Ngusaru, the WWF Country Director. Ngusaru lauded the move as a boost to environmental and natural resources protection.
“Plastic is a number one polluter of environment and a silent killer of our natural environment and resources than most people understand. This is because it takes more than a hundred years for a single plastic bag to decay. We are happy that Tanzania is among the very few African countries to ban the use of plastic bags and we will work hard toward supporting the government in the fight against plastic pollution”.
Other African countries with a plastic control
In 2007, Uganda placed a ban on lightweight plastic bag. However, the ban was never implemented. In August 2018, Kenya introduced a total ban on the use of plastics. Consequently, those using plastics illegally in Kenya risk 4 years in prison or a fine of $40,000. Also, it is illegal to import, produce, use, or sell plastic bags in Rwanda. Currently, there are over 40 countries around the globe that banned, restrict or tax the use of plastics including Italy, France, and China.
Tanzania Electric Train Commence Trial In July
Tanzania is reaching for another economic milestone. The government announced that it was it will be testing its maiden self-funded electric train. The train which will run at 160 km/h will be one of Africa’s fastest high-speed trains. The train will also provide a cheaper means of transport to the citizens.
Tanzania is set to test its self funded electric train in July 2019. The high speed train is tipped to be one of Africa’s fastest at a speed of 160mph.https://t.co/d2Z6EEmyPG
— CGTN Africa (@cgtnafrica) May 4, 2019
Further details show that the phase running from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro which has 6 in between stations and stretches 300 kilometers will commence operation in December. The trial trains in phase one will be three passenger trains. However, these trains will conduct daily round trips covering the two cities. Each passenger train will be making a minimum of 9 trips per day.
Difference between Tanzania electric train and regular train
The speed train will make use of concrete sleepers. This allows the railway network to carry as much as 35 tonnes of load per axle and increase its durability. Consequently, the rails should be able to last up to 40 years before any major repairs. However, the train bridge can last up to 100 years.
Speaking at the historic launch of the flash butt welding of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) at Soga, outside Dar es Salaam in Coastal region, Eng. Issac Kamwele, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications said the trial of the speedy electric train will happen in July. However, the trial will only cover a section of the SGR. In comparison to other country’s SGR, Tanzania’s will be fasters. Kenya and South Africa’s SGR can only reach a speed of 120 km/h
The impact this project will have on the economy
Tanzania government is making great strides to boost the economy of the nation. Recently, the government proposed plans to build cable cars for Mount Kilimanjaro. This is projected to double the current 50,000 annual tourists. However, not many think it is a good idea. A few groups think it will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs.
The $1.9 billion (Tshs 4.3 trillion) project has already created over 26,000 job opportunities. However, the government is optimistic that the second and subsequent phases will create more opportunities once fully functional. The first railway lines in Tanganyika (previously German East Africa) were built after Zanzibar’s first tramway. The Ethio-Djibouti SGR project is currently the longest and first trans-boundary electric railway in Africa.
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