Girls in western Kenya returning to school after the Christmas break are undergoing compulsory tests for female genital mutilation in a move to crackdown against the illegal and harmful practice, a senior government official said on Friday.
They are also being tested to see if they are pregnant.
George Natembeya, commissioner for Narok County, said many girls were being forced to undergo female genital mutilation (FGM) during the school vacation, and pregnancies following this traditional “rite of passage” were common.
“We have the highest rates of teen pregnancies in the country, and FGM is widespread in some communities in Narok, but it is difficult to detect these cases as it is all underground and secretive,” Natembeya told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“The tests will help us to better support girls who often have to hide their pregnancies and health complications after undergoing FGM. We will also be able to prosecute men who defile them, and go after their parents who force them to undergo FGM.”
The move has sparked outrage among women’s’ rights campaigners who said the compulsory tests are demeaning and would further victimize and traumatize girls.
Zimbabwe Offers Land for Wakanda One Village
The fictional ‘Black Panther’ country, Wakanda, may just be on its way to becoming a reality. The government of Zambia and Zimbabwe are setting aside 132, and 2,000 hectares of land respectively for the construction of Wakanda One Village. The land is located around Victoria Falls along the border of the two countries.
The concept of Wakanda One Village is to let Africans in Diaspora spearhead development at specified sites on the continent. The idea is timely as Zimbabwe government is seeking the help of Zimbabweans in the diaspora to rebuild the economy. Consequently, Zimbabwe’s President, Emmerson Mnangagwa is looking forward to transforming the country by 2030 to an upper-middle-class economy. President Mnangagwa hopes to achieve this through tourism, mining, and agriculture.
The land pledge by President Mnangagwa was confirmed in December 2018 by Dr. Arikana Chihombori-Quao, the Permanent Representative to the US and the African Union Ambassador. In an interview following the conclusion of the inaugural Intra African Trade Fair, Dr. Arikana said,
“I met His Excellency President Mnangagwa recently and he offered 2000ha for the regional Wakanda One in Victoria Falls. The offer also comes in when the Zambian Government has also offered some land across the river in Livingstone. So we are looking at building the village [Wakanda One Village] straggling the border between the countries.”
The Composition of Wakanda One Village
The Wakanda One Village proposed between Zimbabwe and Zambia will only be the first of similar projects in the Southern African region. It will comprise a university and technical college, a 100-bed teaching hospital, day-care centers, primary and secondary schools, game lodge, three five-star hotels, parks, agricultural farms, and a pharmaceutical manufacturing plant.
On completion, the proposed Wakanda One Village will also have commercial office buildings, a shopping center, a monorail around the complex, renewable power plants, and a road network that will support electric cars that are self-driven.
Dr. Arikana also mentioned that Tanzania and Kenya have also pledged land for the building of Wakanda One Village in East Africa. With the groundbreaking set for the end of 2020, Dr. Arikana is looking to raise 2 billion USD before the due date. Consequently, the idea is to give Africans in Diaspora a reason to come home.
“We are looking at raising at least US$2 billion…with the first groundbreaking set for the end of the year 2020. We are going to build the Africa that we want so those diasporas… will [therefore] make it what they want.”
Zimbabwe Artists Unite To Raise Funds For Cyclone Idai Victims
Last week Thursday, cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe destroying human and properties on its path. It is said to be one of the worst disaster to hit the south-eastern African region. According to statistics, over 2.6 million people are affected across the three countries. Subsequently, the cyclone led to devastating flooding. The cyclone hit the port city of Beira in Sofala province at over 177 km/h (106 mph). Consequently, the port city of Beira which was once home to 500,000 people is now an ‘island’.
The President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi on Tuesday announced three days of national mourning. The official death toll as of Monday across Malawi, Zimbabwe, and Mozambique are 56, 98, and 200 respectively. However, many are still missing. President believes over 1,000 people may have been killed in the disaster. Consequently, the real death toll may remain unknown for many months as the disaster unfolds.
The urgent need for humanitarian services
There is an urgent need to rescue people still trapped within the devastated cities hit by cyclone Idai. Also, the survivors will be relying on humanitarian aid for survival. In the ‘new island’ people are clinging to trees and house roofs for survival. Speaking about the disaster, Manuel Rodrigues, Manica province governor, said,
“We saw people besieged and asking for help… on top of their roofs made up of zinc sheets. Others under flood waters. We can only imagine that they had been there for more than two or three days, without food and without clean drinking water.”
Several aid agencies in Mozambique are complementing government efforts in the distribution of food. Over 3,800 families are taking refuge in Mozambique’s National Institute for Disaster Management.
Zimbabwe musicians rise for cyclone Idai victims
Veteran Zimbabwe musicians have taken to their social media pages to solicit for donations to assist the victims. They also used the medium to share their condolence with the victims. The hip hop icon, Ex Q, Jah Prayzah said,
“Let’s join hands and help those who have been affected by the cyclone Idai. No donation is too small to make a change. Anything you think can assist those in need right now in Chimanimani please bring it over… to 31 Hebert Chitepo in Belvedere.”
Michael Mahendere, a renowned gospel musician wrote,
“Our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the cyclone Idai. The scenes are saddening but we know that there is Hope in the God we pray to. The relief that comes from Him is permanent and we stand with them during this devastating season.”
Central Bank Of Nigeria Did Not Ban Textile Imports. Here Is What They Did Instead
On the 5th of March 2019, a Facebook post by the Nigerian Tribune, one of the leading tabloids in the country alleged that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has banned the importation of textiles into the country.
However, this is not an accurate representation of what happened. What the Central Bank of Nigeria did was add textile to items no longer eligible for foreign exchange. The governor of CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele said
“Effective immediately, the CBN hereby places the access to FX for all forms of textile materials on the FX restriction list.”
Making the announcement, the CBN Governor said the decision was to help revive the moribund industry. The CBN will continue to support cotton lint importation for use by textile factories. However, textile factories will have to make plans to source their cotton locally by 2020.
Businesspeople who import goods into the country buy foreign exchange from authorized dealers majorly banks. They use this foreign currency to pay their suppliers. The announcement means textile importers can no longer access the foreign exchange. This applies to other importers of items on the list. This brings the total amount of items on the restricted list to 41. However, in December 2018, CBN added fertilizer to the list to bring the total to 42.
How the policy will affect importers
The Central Bank of Nigeria trades 1 USD for 305 Naira. However, importers cannot buy the USD at the CBN rate for items on the restricted list. They will have to seek for foreign exchange from other sources including the black market. However, at the black market, the USD sells as high as 360N per USD and above.
Nigeria’s economy is largely dependent on the sale of crude oil. Following the plunge of oil price in 2015 which sank the country into recession, the CBN decided to ration foreign exchange to ensure it doesn’t run out of reserves. The CBN stated that,
“For the avoidance of doubt, please note that the importation of these items are not banned, thus importers desirous of importing these items shall do so using their funds without any recourse to the Nigerian exchange markets.”
What this means to the textile industry
According to the CBN, the policy is to boost the local production of the items on the list. The textile industries in the country are struggling to survive due to flooding of the market with foreign textile. Reacting to the ban, David Ibidapo, an economic and financial analyst said,
“This is a good initiative by the CBN, because if you look at what we spend on importation it is about 50 percent of our budget deficit. And imagine if that amount is being generated internally, it will automatically impact on our Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
The CBN also has an importer/exporter window which facilitates currency exchange between buyers and sellers. In addition to lowering the pressure on FOREX, Mr. Ibidapo is of the opinion that,
“This will also inspire local production of textile with the single digit rate the CBN is promising local textile industries that are interested in getting loans.”
List of items shut out from CBN foreign exchange
- Palm kernel/palm oil products/vegetable oils
- Vegetable and processed vegetable products
- Poultry-chicken, eggs, turkey
- Private airplanes/jets
- Indian incense
- Tinned fish in sauce
- Cold rolled steel sheets
- Galvanized steel sheets
- Roofing sheets
- Head pans
- Metal boxes and containers
- Steel drums
- Steel pipes
- Wire rods (deformed and not deformed)
- Iron rods and reinforcing bars
- Wire mesh
- Steel nails
- Security and razor wire
- Wood particle boards and panels
- Wood fiber boards and panels
- Plywood boards and panels
- Wooden doors
- Glass and glassware
- Kitchen utensils
- Woven fabrics
- Plastic and rubber products, cellophane wrappers
- Soap and cosmetics
- Tomatoes/tomato pastes
- Euro bond/foreign currency bond/ share purchases
There are viable industries in the country producing items on the list. For example, Nigerian rice production has grown to 9.86 million tonnes in 2017 from 353,000 tonnes in 1968. Dangote Cement is among the largest producers of cement in the continent. However, the flooding of the market with foreign goods and the consumer preference for these goods is adversely affecting the growth of local industries.
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