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NNN MD extols out-gone Managing Editor for mentorship

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Abuja, March 11, 2019 Mr Bayo Onanuga, the Managing Director, News Agency of Nigeria , has commended Mrs Nkechi Okoronkwo, who retired as Managing Editor in the agency for her kindness, mentorship, competence and hard work.

 

Onanuga gave the commendation at the send-off party organised by NNN management in honour of Okoronkwo on Monday in Abuja.

 

“She is very competent in her job, she understands what she needs to do and does it well. She is also a core mentor,” he said.

 

He particularly commended Okoronkwo for her leadership style when she acted as the Editor-in-Chief, saying she was very efficient and made far-reaching contributions during the period.

 

“Unfortunately people of competence are leaving at a time when their services are needed more.

 

Onanuga described her retirement and leaving at this time as “painful’’ and urged Okoronkwo not to hesitate to offer her advice to the agency when needed.

He, however, encouraged her to keep the good virtues and to always make herself accessible for further development of the agency.

 

NNN MD prayed that she excelled to greater heights in her future endeavours like she did in the agency during her service years.

 

The Editor-in-Chief of NNN, Mr Idris Abdulraham also extolled Okoronkwo as being a source of inspiration and a good mentor to the younger ones, especially the ladies.

 

Abdulraham spoke when the Editorial Department of NNN later had a farewell party for Okoronkwo.

 

He prayed for God’s guidance in her future endevours, adding that she achieved a lot while in NNN.

 

Mrs Grace Yusuf, a Deputy Editor-in-Chief, while appreciation  Okoronkwo’s contributions as an editorial staff, said was a good leader and was always ready to assist the younger ones to grow.

 

According to her, part of her success on the job is attributable to Okorokwo’s willingness to assist and give her motherly advice anytime she has the opportunity to do so.

 

Yussuf joined others to wish her well in her future endeavour, saying “aunty Nkechi has finished well and strong’’.

 

Responding, Okoronkwo she advised young reporters, who are mothers to learn to balance the home front and the job as journalists to enable them perform their functions optimally.

 

She also urged the reporters to take their job seriously and not rely on connections in the office to get to the top, saying such scheming might fail them in the future.

 

“Don’t rely on connections in the office, do yourself good, bend down and do your work properly because hard work pays.

 

“If you have challenges, talk to your bosses make your subordinates your friends, do not shy away from working hard, because it will make you stand out everywhere,” she said.

 

Okoronkwo, who retired at 60 as a Director and Managing Editor, was retained as a staff after her National Youth Service Corps.

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AU Peace and Security Council Concludes a Three-Day Field Mission to the Republic of South Sudan – NNN

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NNN: In line with its mandate to promote and enhance peace and security in the Continent, the African Union (AU) Peace and Security Council (PSC) undertook a field mission to the Republic of South Sudan from 18 to 20 February 2020. The Mission took place within the framework of the implementation of various decisions of the Council on the situation in South Sudan. In particular, the Council aimed at evaluating the status of implementation of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) signed on 12 September 2018, given that the Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGONU) is to be formed on 22 February 2020. Furthermore, the Mission aimed at expressing AU’s solidarity with the People and Government of South Sudan during this critical period in the history of the country. In this light, it is worth noting that this is the fourth field mission ofthe AUPSC to the Republic of South Sudan since October 2016.

The PSC delegation was led by His Excellency Ambassador Mohamed Idriss Farah, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti to the African Union, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the PSC for the month of February 2020. The PSC delegation comprised representatives of the fifteen Member States, namely: Ambassadors of Algeria, Salah Francis Alhamdi; Angola, Francisco Da Cruz; Burundi, Joel Nkurabagaya; Equatorial Guinea, Cristantos Obama Ondo; Lesotho, Mafa Sejanamane; Morocco, Mohamed Arrouchi; Nigeria, Bankole Adeoye; and Togo, Sebade Toba; as well as Representatives from Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe.

During its mission, the Delegation paid a courtesy call on the 1st Vice President of South Sudan, H.E. Taban Deng Gai and held consultation with Dr. Riek Machar Teny, Chairman of the SPLM-IO, who is also the First Vice President-Designate. It also received briefings from the National Pre-Transitional Committee, Members of the Steering Committee of the National Dialogue, the African Diplomatic Corps, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the Reconstituted Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC), as well as the Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements Monitoring and Verification Mechanism (CTSAMVM). Furthermore, the delegation met with international partners, the African Development Bank, and representatives of the Civil Society Organizations and faith based groups in Juba.

In all its engagements, the Delegation pledged the African Union’s unwavering solidarity with the people of South Sudan and support towards the full implementation of the R-ARCSS, especially the formation of an inclusive Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (R-TGoNU) on 22 February 2020. The Delegation underscored that, an inclusive R-TGONU is a pre-requisite for lasting unity, peace, stability and development in South Sudan.

The PSC delegation commended President Salva Kiir Mayardit and his Government for the courageous and progressive decision to revert the country back to the original ten (10) States, and further noted that such a political compromise has restored the confidence of all stakeholders to the peace process. The PSC also welcomed the reassurance by Dr. Riek Machar Teny to work with the Government, noting that the issue of States has been resolved, and that he agreed to address other outstanding issues during the Transitional Period, including the security arrangements. The Delegation applauded the timely decision by IGAD to address the travel restrictions imposed on Dr. Machar. The PSC delegation commended the positive reaction by the Civil Society Organizations towards these positive changes and looked forward to the full participation of all South Sudanese in the development of their country. The Council also welcomed recommendations made by various stakeholders, especially for the AU Member States to provide technical assistance to the R-TGoNU.

In light of the foregoing, the Delegation expressed the necessity for the international community to sustain its valuable support to all aspects of the peace process in order to prevent a relapse to conflict, and possible devastating consequences on innocent civilians. In this connection, the Delegation expressed its concern over the slow implementation of the security arrangements, in particular, the delayed training of the Necessary Unified Forces, inadequate availability of uniforms and medical supplies. Given the monumental challenges to face the impending R-TGoNU, the Delegation pledged to advocate for sustainable continental and international support towards overcoming these challenges.

The PSC Delegation reiterated the AU’s appreciation towards IGAD, the neighboring countries of South Sudan, UNMISS, R-JMEC and international partners, for their relentless efforts towards assisting the parties’ efforts to restore peace, security, stability and development in South Sudan. The Delegation noted that the formation of the R-TGoNU is only the start of a long nation-building process, and thus called on the parties to remain resolute, guided by the principles of compromise and restraint.

The Delegation expressed its full appreciation for the support extended by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, UNMISS and other stakeholders in facilitating its field mission. It also acknowledged the facilitation of the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the AU Commission and Head of the AU Mission in South Sudan, Ambassador Professor Joram Mukama Biswaro, and the staff of the AU Mission in South Sudan for their valuable support.

The Council will issue a formal Report on the outcome of its Mission to South Sudan in due course.

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Fear of Further Crackdown as Constitutional Poll Nears – NNN

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NNN: Guinea’s government should respect freedom of assembly and ensure security force discipline in advance of the March 1, 2020 constitutional referendum, Human Rights Watch said today. The referendum on a new constitution could clear the way for President Alpha Condé to run for a third presidential term.

Since widespread demonstrations against the new constitution began in October 2019, security forces have used tear gas, riot gear, and, at times, firearms against protesters, who have thrown stones and other projectiles at police and gendarmes. Social media videos verified by international journalists have shown members of the security forces firing toward demonstrators, beating an elderly man, and using a woman as a shield against stones thrown by protesters. More than 30 people have been killed and dozens injured.

“As tensions rise in advance of the March 1 referendum, the risk of a further crackdown by the security forces increases,” said Corinne Dufka, West Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Guinea’s government needs to ensure that police and gendarme exercise restraint and discipline when policing opposition protests.”

Condé, first elected in 2010, is barred from running for a third term under the constitution, but his supporters say that a new constitution would allow him to run again. Condé announced on February 4 that the referendum would be held on March 1, alongside legislative elections originally scheduled for February 16. He said on February 10 that, if a new constitution is passed, “[his] party will decide,” whether he will run for reelection. 

Since October 14, a coalition of nongovernmental groups and opposition parties – the National Front for the Defense of the Constitution (Le Front national de la défense de la Constitution, FNDC) – has organized widespread protests in Conakry, the capital, and towns in Guinea’s interior.

Although the government has in some instances permitted protests to go ahead, in most cases the security forces have broken up demonstrations and arrested participants. The FNDC alleges that since October, security forces have shot dead 36 demonstrators. Protesters have allegedly killed at least one gendarme.

The Guinean government has sought to blame protesters for the deaths, and Condé said on October 24 that “We know that it’s them [the organizers of protests] who shoot at people.” Human Rights Watch has, however, over the past decade documented at length the police and gendarmes’ use of firearms and excessive lethal force as well as the beating of protesters, corruption, and other forms of criminality.

On January 16, after videos circulated allegedly showing security forces firing assault weapons at protesters, Security and Civilian Protection Minister Damantang Albert Camara said that when protests are no longer peaceful, “It’s difficult to distinguish between someone who demonstrates peacefully and someone who has criminal intentions … I can’t rule out that there are errors.” He denied, however, that there is “systematically a plan … where [the government] sends gendarmes or police to fire on the population.”

The government has on several occasions promised to investigate allegations of misconduct by the security forces during the protests. After a social media video circulated on January 14 of police officers beating an elderly man, the National Police director general, Ansoumane Camara Bafoe, announced on January 15 a special commission of inquiry to “find and identify those responsible for this awful act.” When a video emerged of police officers using a woman as a human shield, Camara, the security and civilian protection minister, said on January 29 that “We can’t allow these types of acts” and promised that those responsible would be held accountable.

Guinea’s Ministry of Justice did not respond to a February 13 email from Human Rights Watch requesting information on the status of investigations into these two incidents nor the alleged killings of protesters since October 2019.

Guinea’s government has over the past decade consistently failed to investigate deaths and other abuses during political protests. Indeed, although security force members have allegedly shot and killed dozens of demonstrators since 2010, the February 4, 2019 conviction of a police captain for the 2016 killing of a protester was the first of a member of the security forces for shooting a protester dead. Human Rights Watch recommended in April 2019 that the government establish a special investigative unit to investigate violence during protests, particularly alleged killings by the security forces.

As protests against the new constitution continue, the Guinean government should reiterate the need for police and gendarmes to abide by the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Guidelines on Policing Assemblies in Africa. The international community should press the government to respect freedom of assembly, maintain discipline, and ensure accountability for past abuses.

“As protests continue against a new constitution, impunity for alleged killings and misconduct by the security forces risks fueling increased human rights abuses,” Dufka said. “Guinea’s authorities need to conduct credible investigations of allegations of abuses and punish those responsible.”

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How minerals and metals companies can help achieve 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – NNN

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NNN: Minerals and metals play a central role in the global economy and will continue to provide the raw material we need for industrial processes and daily use.

Despite enormous efforts to decouple economies from resource use, the extraction of mineral resources has increased markedly in recent decades and, over the last decade, at a faster rate than economic growth. This trend is forecasted to steadily increase in the future, as we struggle to meet the mineral resource needs of a growing global population that is expected to reach 8.5 billion by 2030, 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by the end of the century.

Worldwide transitions towards clean energy and electric vehicles will also accelerate the trend, as renewable energy sources require larger amounts of metals than energy production from fossil fuels.

But the extraction of these much-needed metals and minerals comes at a high price, among those damage to wildlife and ecosystems.

It doesn’t need to be so: the minerals and metals industry has, in fact, the potential to successfully support countries in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. They can, for example, promote social cohesion, inclusiveness and economic progress among low-income countries and the most vulnerable groups of the population.

In its latest report, launched in February 2020, titled Mineral Resource Governance in the 21st Century: Gearing Extractive Industries Towards Sustainable Development, the International Resource Panel provides suggestions on how to improve the economic performance of the extractive sector while ensuring that it complies with the highest social and environmental standards at national and international levels.

The report provides guidance on how the extractive sector can establish a modern governance structure which addresses resource security and efficiency—an area of particular interest to developed nations—and satisfies the demand for continuous structural transformation, economic development and diversification in resource-exporting, developing countries.

Introducing the sustainable development license to operate

In particular, the report suggests to replace the concept of “social license to operate”— which was used by mining companies to build public trust and prevent social conflict—with a new governance model, which the authors call the “sustainable development license to operate”. Unlike the social license to operate, the sustainable development license to operate is a more holistic, integrated and inclusive governance approach, through which companies can achieve positive economic, social and environmental results. The sustainable development license to operate advocates for fairer deals, equal share of benefits among stakeholders and a holistic consideration of existing regulations in the mining sector that were often not inclusive enough. It is designed to look at all the extractive industry as a whole, minimize its negative effects on environment, society and the economy, and identify opportunities for contributing to sustainable development.

Its implementation is a shared responsibility of all stakeholders along the complex, transnational value chains.

 The report also investigates artisanal and small-scale mining and development minerals sectors which are an important source of livelihoods for marginalized populations, often overlooked by policymakers.

National and international measures are needed

Understanding the necessity for broader actions, the report contains a list of key recommendations for implementation at both national and international levels.

The International Resource Panel strongly believes that effective work at national level with broad and inclusive involvement of all stakeholders including “host and home” country governments, the international community, mining companies and civil society organizations should lead to the adoption of a strategic development plan. The plan must contain targeted actions for the Sustainable Development Goals and define performance standards.

In order to facilitate its implementation, the International Resource Panel suggests including mining laws and regulations in the plan, which enshrine the principles of consultation, transparency and reporting as well as recognize and promote the rights of local populations.

The International Resource Panel recommends for countries to establish three core public institutions—an environment directorate, a mining directorate and a geological survey—to promote and regulate the development of mines and metals industries.

At international level, the report advocates for creating an International Minerals Agency to improve international coordination mechanisms, or creating an international agreement to coordinate and share data on economic geology and mineral demand needs, and promote transparency on impacts and benefits, among other things.

To learn more about the International Resource Panel’s new proposed governance framework in the extractive sector, the Sustainable Development License to Operate, feel free to download the full and summary reports in English, as well as factsheets showcasing the key conclusions in all six UN languages.

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Reform Abusive Security Agency – NNN

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NNN: South Sudan’s National Assembly should urgently enact reforms of the National Security Service (NSS) to end arbitrary detention and abuse of detainees, Human Rights Watch said today. The authorities should also ensure that the security agency releases all those arbitrarily detained in Juba, the capital, and elsewhere in the country and hold all those responsible for abuses to account.

“South Sudan’s national security agency has for years carried out a full-blown assault on critics of the government and political opponents in brazen disregard for basic rights,” said Jehanne Henry, associate Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “With the formation of a unity government, South Sudan’s leaders should now show they are serious about ending these abuses and holding those responsible to account.”

South Sudan’s government and opposition leaders are supposed to form a new unity government on February 22, 2020, in accordance with the terms of the 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement. The National Assembly, South Sudan’s parliament, is to consider new legislation to revise structure, policies, and procedures of the security service amongst others in the coming days, before the new government is formed.

Lawmakers should prioritize revising the National Security Service Act (2015) to prohibit the agency from carrying out arrests and detaining people and ensure adequate and broad-based discussions on the reforms. The authorities should also close all unauthorized detention sites and release or appropriately charge detainees and transfer them to police custody, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch has repeatedly called on the South Sudanese authorities to limit NSS powers to intelligence gathering, as envisioned by the Transitional Constitution of 2011, which mandates the agency to “focus on information gathering, analysis and to advise the relevant authorities.”

Human Rights Watch, the South Sudan Human Rights Commission, and others have documented and reported on the pattern of arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture, and enforced disappearances by the National Security Service, with little to no accountability for the abuses. NSS detainees are often kept in poor conditions in unauthorized, ungazetted, secret detention facilities and in congested cells with inadequate access to food, water, and medical care.

Prior to the formation of the new government, the NSS has increased repression of critics, eroding the space for opposing views and critical public dialogue.

In early February, NSS officers in Maridi allegedly detained a sports journalist for “spreading wrong information against the state” and beat him with a stick and pipe, credible sources told Human Rights Watch. In January, NSS officers arrested Ijoo Bosco, a journalist working with a local radio station in Torit, reportedly for airing news on United States government sanctions against the first vice president, Taban Deng Gai, for human rights abuses.

In December 2019, NSS officers arrested and detained an assistant lecturer at the University of Western Bar el Ghazal in Wau for reportedly mobilizing rebel fighters against the peace agreement’s security arrangements. He was released in January without charge.

At least 100 people are being held in the main NSS detention facility, known as the Blue House, in Juba. They include both security sector personnel held for disciplinary purposes and civilians held without charge, often for long periods, according to credible sources. One such detainee is Riek Malual Kuei, a trader in his late 30s, arrested by NSS officers in Juba on October 9, 2017. He was arrested because he was reportedly engaged in financial transactions for the armed opposition, Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A-IO). Kuei remains detained at NSS headquarters in Juba without charge or trial.

The NSS Act grants the agency broad powers of arrest, detention, search, seizure, and surveillance. It does not include guarantees to prevent arbitrary detention and torture or other ill-treatment, and includes provisions providing NSS offers with immunity to arrest for human rights violations. And while it requires the NSS to bring detainees before a magistrate or judge within 24 hours of their detention, the NSS seldom does.

As part of the revitalized peace deal signed in September 2018 the government agreed to reform the agency, along with other security organs. In January 2019, the constitutional review commission submitted proposed amendments to the NSS Act to the Justice Ministry for deliberations and for presentation before the National Assembly.

The proposed amendments limit, but do not eliminate, the agency’s powers of arrest and detention, and criminalize torture. They retain the agency’s surveillance powers, without sufficient oversight, and permit an overly broad “crimes against the state” as a basis for arrest. The proposed law defines the crime as “any activity directed at undermining … the government” and references the same crime in the 2008 Penal Act, which is equally vague.

South Sudan’s leaders should now revise the law to genuinely limit the role and powers of the NSS. They should order closed all unauthorized places of detention and release detainees or hand them over to legitimate law enforcement officials for charge and trial. South Sudan authorities should also hold those responsible for serious NSS abuses over the years to account, Human Rights Watch said.

“South Sudan’s leaders need to rein in the abusive NSS, an outgrowth of the old, repressive Sudanese system that society has so clearly rejected,” Henry said. “South Sudanese legislators should go beyond the proposed amendments to the security law and bring this agency in line with international standards.”

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As Libya talks resume in Geneva, UN negotiator seeks to overcome sticking points – NNN

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NNN: Speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters in Geneva, Mr. Salamé, the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Libya, said that the port of Tripoli had been attacked earlier on Tuesday. 

“As long as these violations are frequent, it’s very, very hard to think of quiet negotiations between the two parties on any one of the three tracks we are trying to push forward.” 

The UN envoy, who is facilitating discussions of the parties to the Libyan Joint Military Commission, or the 5+5 talks, added that an arms embargo on Libya has continued to be violated in the North African nation. 

Since last April, the UN-recognized Government of National Accord, based in the capital, has been engaged in conflict with the self-styled Libyan National Army. The Commission is compiled of five delegates appointed by each side. 

During a break in the talks, Mr. Salamé appealed for an open-minded approach from both parties. 

He insisted that concessions needed to be made concerning the return of former fighters to their communities. 

Specifically, this involved deciding on what kind of military monitoring was needed, who was going to do it and whether they would be armed or unarmed. 

Further questions include deciding what to do with the large amount of heavy weaponry in Libya, what should happen to non-regular fighters, and who should be in charge of the police force. 

Detailed answers to these questions were how the truce could be translated into a lasting ceasefire, Mr. Salamé said. 

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SAP, Converge Solutions co-innovation project delivers powerful healthcare solution for African hospitals – NNN

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NNN: Complex business models, combined with immense pressure to deliver great patient experiences and outcomes, has African healthcare providers turning to technology to improve their operational efficiency and automate back-office operations. This task is now far less daunting with the launch of a new technology platform designed by Converge Solutions and the SAP Co-Innovation Lab specifically for the African healthcare market.

Male nurse filling out patient chart in emergency room — Image by © Ocean/Corbis

“Healthcare providers are under increasing pressure to deliver improved patient experiences and streamline their operations with mounting financial constraints,” says Johann Joubert, CEO at Converge Solutions. “The answer to affordable, improved patient care is not always more staff, controls or administrative processes, but greater adoption of technology that aids automates and simplifies, allowing more effective use of available resources. Modern healthcare organisations simply cannot function optimally without applying technology as a key enabler of their operations. In light of this, we co-developed an innovative, modern SAP IS-H and Cerner i.s.h.med offering to create a fit-for-purpose solution for the African healthcare market.”

Converge Solutions is an SAP partner organisation that develops innovative solutions for African organisations in the healthcare and financial services industries. The healthcare solution was developed partly through a co-innovation exercise held in collaboration with the SAP Co-Innovation Lab, a global network of SAP product and innovation labs found in 16 locations worldwide, including Johannesburg. The SAP Co-Innovation Lab creates a platform for local SAP partners and customers to minimise the risk associated with large-scale innovation projects built on SAP technologies and solutions.

According to Rudi de Louw, Head of the SAP Co-Innovation Lab at SAP Africa, the healthcare solution developed by Converge fills a very clear gap in the local healthcare industry’s digital transformation efforts. “Working with Johann and his team, we identified a clear opportunity to offer a fit-for-purpose solution for the African healthcare market, with an initial focus on South African organisations. Thanks to the scalability of the solution through SAP’s infrastructure, and the Converge team’s expert knowledge of the African healthcare industry, it comes as no surprise to see Converge’s enhanced versions of the solution already being adopted by healthcare organisations in other African markets.”

Healthcare worker at work at nurse’s station — Image by © Odilon Dimier/PhotoAlto/Corbis

The most recent client that implemented Converge’s SAP solution, is Fresenius Medical Care, as a key building block in enabling their World Class Patient Experience vision. The solution is centrally deployed in a private cloud environment, and used across Fresenius’ 67 clinics in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Swaziland.

Joubert says healthcare is an inherently complex industry, and private healthcare in particular. “In the South African private healthcare context, doctors are not employed by the hospital and outpatient services are independent legal entities, with the hospital acting in many ways, as a real estate business that rents space to different healthcare professionals in addition to the hospital’s own services. During the course of their stay, one patient may interact with multiple external healthcare professionals and/or entities, who deliver independent yet interrelated services to the patient.”

He adds that patients also have a range of benefit structures from different medical aid schemes, with different pricing mechanism, which adds layers of complexity. “The key is to deploy a solution that simplifies all of this complexity, allowing a single view of the patient, with high levels of automation and sophistication, freeing up healthcare professionals to spend more time with the patient. There are a range of offerings in the market that are very simple to deploy and simple to use, but without the sophistication to address all of these elements effectively, forcing hospitals to throw people towards a system deficiency. Our solution doesn’t ignore these complexities, it simplifies them, with an appropriate level of control, flexibility and ease of use.”

According to government data, South Africa has 80 medical schemes with more than 8 million beneficiaries. Submitting medical aid claims and checking the eligibility of patient benefits for certain procedures or care can be a time-consuming administrative burden without the appropriate solutions in place. “We integrate to Medikredit, a switching company for medical aid claims that has enabled real-time eligibility checking, amongst other rich functionality. Healthcare organisations using our solution can quickly check that patient benefits are still intact and that the medical aid will cover the costs. Once the service is billed, the claim can be submitted to the medical aid scheme immediately and with minimal rejections since the eligibility of the claim was performed beforehand. This integrated approach ensures a dramatically lower claim rejection rate.”

Joubert adds that a large part of the co-innovation project focused on reducing the operational complexity inherent within healthcare organisations. “We made use of best practices, but also ensured the system is localised to serve the specific operational needs of African private sector hospitals. This was achieved through more than a decade of working side by side with healthcare entities to understand their pains and architect solutions, along with an active inclusion of industry thought leaders through the system enhancement process. We also extended the standard SAP solution by integrating our own solutions to augment what is already offered, including Patient Myth (a digital patient survey and intervention platform), Impi (a clinical incident management platform), Virtual Forms (a form digitalisation platform) and Triton (an advanced acuity based nursing planning and optimisation solution).”

“We have partnered and/or integrated with a number of other leading entities including, but not limited to, Cerner, Elsevier and Medikredit,” says Joubert. “We are constantly evaluating and integrating other products and partners into our ecosystem to ensure that healthcare providers can source all IT related products and services from one point of accountability. Our solutions offer simplification and predictability, extending to timeline, budget, appropriate levels of sophistication and standardised levels of care, to cover all permutations of healthcare in Africa.”

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Trees are life – NNN

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NNN: Big, small, flourishing or stumbling, tree nurseries in Africa come in all shapes and forms, and with varying quality. Some are owned by governments, others by non-profit groups, others still by individual farmers.

Edward Lutawo Phiri, from Zambia, and his father are two of those farmers, and the nursery they started together is one of the best in the business. As a small child, Lutawo Phiri watched his father plant seedlings and was mesmerized. Then when he passed away, Lutawo Phiri took over and expanded the nursery to a point where now he employs 12 people on 3 hectares.

Of course, he was lucky that his father had a good piece of land with a permanent water supply. It is a gently sloping, well-drained site with a good supply of suitable soil materials. He levelled the site and firmed the soil, marking out the shape and sizes of the beds and erecting them using durable poles. Also, he used sand and small stones to give good root penetration and help with drainage. He has clay and top forest soil which improves the moisture intake and nutrient retaining qualities.

He also plants and grafts fruit trees. Grafting is a form of vegetative propagation, which involves the union of two separate structures, usually woody parts of two plants. The common parts grafted are usually stems. The upper part is the scion and the lower part or root is called stock or rootstock. The scion and the rootstock must belong to the same plant species or to the same family.

Grafting means that the qualities of the two parent plants are united in one plant. The scion has one or more buds from where all branches of the future fruiting grafted plant will grow from. All methods of joining plants are called grafting, but when the scion part has only a single bud, the operation is called budding.

Fruit trees commonly grafted in Zambia include mangoes, avocadoes and citrus.

“After grafting, I propagate them and during the rainy season, I intercrop them with beans and peanuts which do not disturb the growth of the trees,” says Lutawo Phiri. “I also practice agroforestry and am raising indigenous timber species such as red mahogany which take seven years to harvest.”

“We need to diversify,” he says. “We need to grow trees because they help us withstand floods and drought and give us medicine to fight diseases and bring us rain. Trees are life.”

Whereas other tree nurseries often struggling with water, Lutawo Phiri explains that through a very rigorous management of the forest around him, with no bushfires allowed and no careless cutting, he has managed to maintain water levels and have shallow wells as well.

For pest and disease control, Lutawo Phiri uses the neem tree leaves which he pounds and sifts into water to spray on the seedlings. For fertilizer, he uses leaves to make compost and mixes it with manure, adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil.

David Ngwenyama, provincial project manager of the Zambia Integrated Forest Landscape Project says he’s hoping to work with Lutawo Phiri because he is very reliable, has the best quality seedlings and is ready to give advice and help out whenever needed.

Lutawo Phiri was awarded a Gold Medal for distinguished services for Zambia by former President Michael Sata.

According to Judith Walcott, a safeguards and landscapes specialist for the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre, “As the UN-REDD Programme continues to support countries on nature-based solutions for climate change mitigation, with a focus on both conserving and restoring forests, the role of work like that being done by Lutawo Phiri will be key. The use of high-quality seedlings and native species is important in helping restoration efforts, and also securing a range of other benefits that forests can provide, such as biodiversity conservation and other ecosystem services.”

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Vendor killed, musician injured after police attack opposition supporters in Oromia – NNN

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NNN: Police in Ethiopia launched an attack on opposition party supporters in the Oromia Region on Saturday, killing one person and arresting and injuring scores more.

Just hours after the date for Ethiopia’s parliamentary elections was announced, the Oromia Liyu police raided the inauguration of an Oromia Liberation Front (OLF) office in Welenchiti, firing live bullets and tear gas, killing one OLF supporter who was a clothes vendor.

Later that day, police arrested around 30 guests at a hotel launch party in Burayu and drove them to a sports stadium where they were beaten and humiliated for hours.

“These brazen attacks show just how dangerous it is becoming to assemble and express political stances in Ethiopia,” said Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for East and Southern Africa, Seif Magango.

“Raids on opposition gatherings must not be allowed to become a feature of the pre-election period. The authorities must immediately launch an independent and effective investigation into these attacks and hold suspects to account in fair trials.”

Following the attack on the OLF office in Welenchiti, the regional Liyu police beat up the gathered supporters and pursued those who fled, hitting them with sticks. They also immobilized a parked vehicle belonging to a local news crew, from the Oromia News Network (ONN), by shooting its tyres, then later moving it to a local police station with the journalists’ filming equipment still inside.

The second attack by the Liyu Police took place later the same day at the launch of a new hotel in Burayu. Police descended on the guests as the party was winding down, bundled about 30 of them into a police van and drove them to the Burayu Stadium.

Here detainees were beaten again, forced to do laps around the stadium on their knees and roll on the ground late into the night.

Hawi Haile Yesus Keneni, a female musician, was among those seriously beaten up in Burayu, sustaining injuries that require surgery. She told Amnesty International that members of the Oromia Liyu Police in green uniforms beat her on the head, hands and other parts of her body.

While the Burayu town administration has, on their Facebook page, dismissed the violence as a “brawl that broke out over a disagreement about the choice of song”, victims and witnesses told Amnesty International the party was over by the time the police arrived. One of the artists said he heard the commanding police officer at the scene accuse the detainees of being OLF supporters.

“It is outrageous that the authorities charged with ensuring the security and safety of members of the public can brutally attack people going about their business with no regard for human life. The Ethiopian authorities must denounce these attacks in the strongest terms and ensure such scenes are not repeated,” said Seif Magango.

The country’s parliamentary elections are due to be held on 29 August 2020.

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Parties to the Bamako Convention reaffirm their commitment to protect Africa from hazardous waste dumping – NNN

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NNN: The third Conference of the Parties (COP 3) to the Bamako Convention today adopted a set of decisions reaffirming the Parties’ commitment to strengthen the Convention in order to prevent African countries from receiving unwanted hazardous waste in their territories as well as promoting sound management of chemicals and waste produced within the continent.

Parties reaffirmed their commitment to take concrete actions to implement decisions adopted at the first and second Bamako Convention COPs. They also agreed on a common scale to enhance their financial contributions to the Convention. Parties further called upon African States who have not yet ratified the Convention to do so.

The strict standards related to the collection, treatment and disposal of municipal and industrial waste in developed countries have resulted in the illegal trafficking and export of hazardous waste to Africa for cheap disposal, often without any treatment.

The Bamako Convention prohibits the dumping or incinerating of hazardous waste in inland water and oceans, promotes the control of transboundary movement of hazardous waste within Africa and seeks to ensure that waste disposal is conducted in an environmentally sound manner.

“African countries are facing an increasing exposure to chemicals due to the growth in world trade, changes in production patterns and the relocation of chemical production from developed to developing countries. Human health is closely linked to the state of the environment,” said Arlette Soudan-Nonault, Minister of Tourism and the Environment of the Republic of the Congo and incoming President of the Bamako Convention. “With the commitment and concrete actions of each and everyone, I am sure that we will be able to meet the challenge of implementing the Bamako Convention,” she added.

Addressing Parties at the high-level segment via video message, Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), said regional cooperation is one of the most powerful tools at our disposal in the face of the global climate emergency.

“We are in a critical year and a critical decade for our collective future. In this super year for nature, in this decade of action for the SDGs, we have a real opportunity to reverse the degradation of our ecosystem and biodiversity, and addressing the challenge of hazardous waste and chemicals is part of the big solution,” she added.

Parties also agreed to reinforce collaboration and create more synergies between the Bamako Convention and the related Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions.

“In view of similar challenges faced by African countries it is fit to explore how to further explore synergies between Bamako Convention and Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions, especially with regards to achieving the sustainable development goals,” said Rolph Payet, Executive Secretary of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions.  

The Conference also acknowledged the updated list of hazardous substances and encouraged Parties to use the list in their national implementation plan of Bamako Convention.

The Republic of the Congo takes over from the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and will hold the functions of the Presidency for the next two years. The Bureau of the Convention includes the Republic of the Congo (President), Rwanda (1st Vice President), Egypt (2nd Vice President), Niger (3rd Vice President) and Zimbabwe as rapporteur.

Established in 1991, the Bamako Convention on the Ban of the Import into Africa and the Control of Transboundary Movement and Management of Hazardous Wastes within Africa came into force in 1998. Twenty-nine of 54 African countries have ratified the Convention.

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