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Soccer Legend Becomes President In Liberia’s First Independently Run Election In 70 Years

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As a footballer, George Weah won accolades few could hope for, becoming the first non-European player to pick up the Ballon d’Or and seizing African Footballer of the Year on multiple occasions, alongside a raft of team honors.

The 51 year old entered politics after his retirement and had been serving as a senator in Liberia’s parliament. He led the first-round vote in October but didn’t receive enough ballots to win outright over the 73-year-old Joseph Boakai, who has been vice president for 12 years to current President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Sirleaf didn’t publicly support either candidate.

George Weah at the ballot

Weah led the ticket for a coalition party, the Congress for Democratic Change, with Jewel Howard-Taylor as his vice presidential running mate. She is a senator and the ex-wife of imprisoned former warlord and President Charles Taylor, which raised concerns among some Liberians.

Weah had run in the country’s last two elections, winning the first round of the 2005 vote that eventually went to Sirleaf. He ran as the vice presidential candidate with diplomat Winston Tubman in the 2011 poll; they boycotted the runoff that granted Sirleaf her second term.

He was born in a slum of the capital, Monrovia, and showed early promise in soccer. He played for top local clubs before starting his international career in Cameroon, then moved on to AS Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain, where he became famous.

Weah’s rags-to-riches story has been an inspiration to many supporters who call him “King George.”

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Highlights from The Vice President’s Concession Speech

Joseph Boakai, Liberia’s Vice President and presidential candidate of the Unity Party (UP), speaks during a news conference in Monrovia, Liberia December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

In his remarks conceding the election, Joseph Boakai offered a “hand of goodwill” to Weah and dismissed the idea of challenging the runoff results in court, alluding to past conflicts.

“We all are passengers on this big Ship called Liberia; even though I will not be the Captain of this Ship, it is my fervent desire that this Ship of State always sails smoothly.

“At this historic crossroad, let us remain cognizant of the extent to which elections are conflict-prone and have the potential to destroy nations, disintegrate families and undermine the sanctity of a nation. We are also quite aware of our nation’s current economic challenges.

 “The history of our nation is characterized by some disturbing episodes of fraudulent electoral processes and the attendant consequences. Notable among them are the presidential elections of 1927 and 1985, the outcomes of which were rejected, thereby engendering conflict which occasioned the loss of lives and a protracted fratricidal national conflict.

“I refuse to subject our nation to such an experience. I reject any temptation of imposing pain, hardship, agony, and uncertainty upon our people. My name will not be used as an excuse for one drop of human blood to be spilled in this country.

“As such, a while ago, I called Ambassador George Manneh Weah of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC), to congratulate him on emerging as the winner in the presidential contest. I also availed myself to help him in any way he may find me useful to advance the good of our country.

“We need to join hands and work together to move our country forward. As I said throughout this campaign, it has never been about me. It has always been and should always be about Liberia.

“This is about our country’s cause defending. We must work to unite our people because Liberia is greater than any one of us.

Read the full speech here >>

 

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Community News

Ethiopian Prime Minister’s War On Corruption Results In Arrests Of 59 More Officials

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Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed

Since coming into power in 2018, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed made a firm resolve to clean-up public institutions. Ahmed canceled the contract between the government and METEC (Metals and Engineering Corporation), a military-run industrial conglomerate. The latest crackdown on corruption on Thursday 11th April 2019 led to the arrest of 59 officials.

Among those affected by the arrest are the head and staff of the Public Procurement and Property Disposal Service. Commenting on the matter on Friday the nation’s attorney general, Berhanu Tsegaye, said the arrest is based on the suspicious acquisition of properties and economic sabotage.

“We found properties, such as title deeds of houses held by the suspects, which are beyond their income.”

Just one year in office but the prime minister is taking great strides in reforming the country. Ethiopia now has improved relationships with neighboring countries. These efforts have earned the prime minister a Nobel Peace Prize nomination.

Abiy Ahmed’s Previous Public Institution Cleanup Efforts

According to Berhanu, the recent arrest follows a three-month investigation involving officials from the Ethiopian Water Works Construction Enterprise and Pharmaceuticals Fund and Supply Agency. However, this is not the first time the government is making efforts to stamp out corruption. In November 2018, the government arrested over 60 intelligence officials, businesspeople, and military personnel on various charges of right violation and corruption. Tsegaye said

“[The offenses of some of those arrested include] beatings, forced confessions, sodomy, rape, electrocution, and even killings [and mismanaging METEC].”

The high-profile arrest included officials from METEC. Consequently, this led to the cancellation of the contact between METEC and the government. The former METEC head was in January 2019, charged with corruption. This makes him the most senior official in the arrest to be prosecuted. Ethiopia’s spy chief was also fingered in a botched plot to assassinate the new prime minister.

Reactions Trailing The Anti-Corruption War

It is all positive response for the anti-corruption war of the new prime minister. However, an opposition figure, Yilikal Getnet says the prime minister is merely playing to the demands of the people. In an interview with The Associated Press, Getnet said,

“These have been issues that we in the opposition have long been calling for, too. The ruling party alone can’t bring justice for all these atrocities committed in the past.”

Amnesty International also thinks the arrests are the right steps in the right direction. Commenting on the November 2018 arrests, the East Africa Director of Amnesty International, Joan Nyanyuki said,

“These arrests are an important first step towards ensuring full accountability for the abuses that have dogged the country for several decades. Many of these officials were at the helm of government agencies infamous for perpetrating gross human rights violations.

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Celebrities

Zimbabwe Artists Unite To Raise Funds For Cyclone Idai Victims

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Cyclone Idah

Cyclone Idai hit Malawi, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe

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,

Jah Prayzah soliciting for donations for victims of cyclone Idai

“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.”

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African Ingenuity

Tanzania Blockchain Baby is the World’s First

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Tanzania blockchain baby

Tanzania blockchain baby is the first in the world and is making headlines all over. Africa is doing all it can to improve the lives of its citizens in all spheres of life.

Blockchain is a technology that allows distribution (and not copying) of digital information. It was originally created for digital currencies (cryptocurrencies) such as Bitcoin. A blockchain is simply a series of absolute or immutable data records. A bunch of computers not owned by any single entity manage these records. Each of these single blocks is bound to the other using cryptographic technology and principles, what is called a chain. In this way, a blockchain is a way of passing information from one point to another in a safe and automated manner. This is the technology on Tanzania blockchain baby.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” – Don & Alex Tapscott, authors Blockchain Revolution (2016).

Blockchain Technology and Maternal Health

In an effort to improve access to good healthcare, Africa is making history in the world. The latest feat towards improving maternal health is Tanzania blockchain baby. It is difficult to connect blockchain technology and maternal health (leave alone a baby) but be as it may, Africa has a baby through blockchain. As if this is not amazing enough, blockchain does not have only one, but three babies in Tanzania.

The project by Irish AID: Tech and Dutch PharmAccess was initially funded to tackle controversies in the charitable industry in areas of equitable distribution of donations. In order to track the aid given to susceptible women, the project decided to use blockchain technology in facilitating proper distribution of this aid. Additionally, they used this technology to share important data and to streamline the entire support process. This record keeping technology for cryptocurrencies and bitcoins is a major breakthrough for the Tanzania blockchain baby.

Tanzania Blockchain Baby Technology

According to reports, Tanzania blockchain baby feat was born last July but has just come to the limelight. Aid:Tech is an Irish project and it seems it has finally found a humanitarian application of blockchain technology. The technology seeks to digitally identify pregnant women and provide them with the support and care they require in Tanzania. These digital IDs allow women to get proper access to vital elements such as folic acid. The technology also uses IDs to track the pregnancy progress from the initial women data entry to the blockchain, to delivery.

On 13th of July 2018, the first Tanzania blockchain baby was born. Two more followed this Tanzania blockchain bay a week later on 19th July 2018. This brought the blockchain babies to a total of three bundles of joy. Currently, the technology has made it possible for the mothers to get access to postnatal care as well as following up on doctor’s appointments and receiving needed medications. This distributed ledgers technology is lighting a new path towards better access to better maternal health in Africa.

How Blockchain Technology Works for Blockchain Babies   

According to recent reports by Forbes, the technology works like this;

  • Each pregnant woman receives a digital ID.
  • The digital ID entitles the woman to get access to important vitamins such as folic acid.
  • Additionally, the ID tracks the pregnancy progress through data added to the blockchain.
  • The tracking starts after the woman is first registered, through medical appointments to birth.
  • Currently, the system also allows women to receive postnatal care and follow-up doctor’s appointments as needed.

This Tanzania blockchain baby technology project has well-meaning goals for infants and mothers in Tanzania. The country has high infant mortality rates that currently stand at 556 deaths per 100,000 live births. In addition to other healthcare challenges, Tanzania also has difficulties in getting fund donations from well-wishers to deserving women. For these two reasons, the project was established and it is working quite well.

Joseph Thompson co-founded AID:Tech in order to provide more transparency in the distribution of aid to deserving people. The idea came as a result of his previous encounter with aid distribution fraud. The organization made the first successful attempt at aid distribution to Syrian refuges in Lebanon in 2015 using blockchain technology. The system encountered fraud in food vouchers where wrongful beneficiaries would benefit. The system invalidated these vouchers.

Global Recognition

The United Nations named AID:Tech one of their ten global Sustainable Development Goal Pioneers for 2017. Additionally, many private investors got interested in blockchain technology and how it can deliver important aid. For this reason, the organization drew interest from private investors such as Enterprise Ireland, TechStars, SGInnovate and American backer Jason Calacanis. The list also includes Rockefeller and Expo2020.

Despite immense global recognition, it is the Tanzania blockchain baby that elevates the project to international limelight and popularity.

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