Monday, September 28, 2015

MEDIA ADVISORY: Dialogue on conflict and development; unraveling three ECA studies


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE            CONTACT: Abel Akara Ticha
26 Sept 2015                                                                                                             
Dialogue on conflict and development; unraveling three ECA studies

What are the root-causes of conflict in Africa? What are the political, social and economic costs of conflict on the continent? Why have situations of conflict persisted in the horn of Africa and the Great Lakes regions and why have some recently emerged along the Sahel Belt?

At the behest of the African Union Commission, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa has undertaken three studies to dissect the complexities of conflict in these regions. The findings have been extensively reviewed and beefed up and are now ready for appropriation by those who drive intra-regional diplomacy in Africa. How would they want to tailor policies that sustainably ward off conflict in order for Africa to concentrate its structural transformation efforts to attain the goals of Agenda 2063?

Come and follow the compelling dialogue on the complex situation of conflicts based on ECA’s empirical research.

What: High Level Policy Dialogue on Conflict and Development for the Sahel, Horn and Great Lakes Regions; three ECA reports on the causes of conflict, the impact of conflict on Africa’s development and policy implications for states. 

Who:  The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union Commission, the Regional Economic Communities, Directors General and/or Permanent Secretaries in Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Continental development partners

When: Friday 02 October 2015 from 8:30 am to Saturday 03 Oct 2015 from 9:30 am

Where: La Palm Royal Beach Hotel, La Bypass, P.O. Box OS 3000 Osu, Accra - Ghana

Photo opportunities? Yes, available upon request from:

COMING UP!>>Ep.53: West Africa’s Disaster Preparedness: Is the sub-region ready?(1)

Episode #53:
West Africa’s Disaster Preparedness: Is the sub-region ready?(1)

Since July 2015, ECOWAS, in collaboration with Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) and Ghana's National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), has convened reps from governments to participate in AFRICOM-sponsored West Africa Disaster Preparedness Initiative (WADPI) training.

Following up on the ECOWAS Plan of Action on Ebola, which seeks to strengthen regional coordination between ECOWAS; the African Union; and partner nations; and international partners, WADPI seeks to capitalize on lessons learnt from recent Ebola epidemic to strengthen national capacities on disaster-preparedness.

In what will be the start of a relationship between "Africa in Focus Show" and KAIPTC to promote visibility of WADPI, Emmanuel K Bensah Jr. will be hosting participants/trainers/policy-makers from BOTH anglophone & francophone ECOWAS Member States LIVE on the show to explain to listeners why it is important to have a conversation about disaster-preparedness at the national; regional; and continental level.

The 3 June floods in Ghana, which spawned the hash tag #Accrafloods , runs the risk of becoming a lost opportunity to re-transform Accra to a city ready to counter any disaster -- unless the country is actively-seized by the urgency of having important and critical conversations on disaster-management.

Ghana's NADMO certainly cannot have all the answers -- for which reason "Africa in Focus Show" is pleased to partner KAIPTC in this unique partnership that will yield tremendous dividends for, among others, tackling National Emergency Plans; Ebola-Awareness Training; Communication during Disaster Response; and bio-threat preparedness from lessons learnt from Ebola.

Call us on the following numbers when we open the phone lines at 14h30 GMT
+233(0)289.000.931 // +233(0)289.931.000

Join us if you can at 1pm on 29 September, 2015.

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Faith Akovi Cooper, MPA-Regional Advisor for West Africa Disaster Preparedness Programme(WADPI)
Ø  Leroy Harris, WADPI

Ø  Col Kennedy Osemwegie, WADPI Course Director

Thursday, September 17, 2015

BURKINA FASO: A Ghanaian Expat’s view of the latest Burkina Coup; and the Role of the AU/ECOWAS

A Ghanaian Expat’s view of the latest Burkina Coup; and the Role of the AU/ECOWAS

I have lived in Burkina Faso for the past 10 months. Needless to say I am disappointed but not surprised for various reasons at the recent turn of events. One of which is that when Heads of States and their goons get used to seeing a country as their personal ATM and when three quarters of all buildings in the country, gas supplies, hotels and businesses belong to the president, his brother, wife and goons it is kinda hard to simply let go of of your personal investments like that. (You know what they say about coming between a man and his money.)

Secondly the transition process could have been better supported by the AU, ECOWAS (actually other african countries and bodies). I refrain to use the international community because they are not responsible for africa. ( We are happy to claim neo colonialism when it suits us and in the same vein decry their absence when it is time to clean up our mess so i don't go there anymore.)

ECOWAS refuses to be bold about capping presidential terms to a maximum of 2. Long standing oligarchies are a major part of the reason why people refuse to leave power till they croak and until that is tackled we will continue in this trend. It is because of this similar mindset and outcomes that i am still frozen shocked as to how africans and even civil society advocates fail to see that amending the constitution for Paul Kagame to run a 3rd term is bufoonery in the highest of orders and setting precedents that we will live to regret. However to be fair to them hindsight has never been our forte.

Given the problems that Africa has i have always found the mandate of AU and ECOWAS at tangential proportions to the real causes which is why to me the AU especially is now an official white elephant. I actually wrote about the AU being a white elephant at the age of 12 as part of an essay competition by the Non -Aligned Movement. I am 36 now so that is a heck of a long time to stay white and to be an elephant smile emoticon. We do not need any institution that cannot make bold decisions nor enforce anything at this stage in our history. The path to victory calls for a revolution nothing less.

Africa's number one problem continues to be that the very leaders and institutions she has mandated to lead her to independence are cowards and half baked bureaucrats themselves who will do anything to avoid conflict or hard issues. It is a job, a salary and a let me do my minimum best in order not to rock the boat.
No boat ever served its purpose by staying in the harbour( but maybe that is another subject for another time).
I am currently not in Burkina as i have been on leave. My staff tell me they are safe but the situation is precarious.

Let us not spit out platitudes and eulogies this time. Instead we should roll up our sleeves, stand up and be counted in laying the ax at the root of the problem to stem the incessant hemorrhaging of our nations which always always end up costing the lives of our people.
I continue to weep......

This was posted on her Facebook page. Used with permission

STORIFY Feature: Here's how the Coup in #BurkinaFaso unfolded on Twitter on 16 September, 2015

Monday, September 14, 2015

COMING UP!》Ep.53: Towards Afro-Democracy? (1): Commemorating International Day of Democracy (15 Sept, 2015)

Episode #53:
Towards Afro-Democracy? (1): Commemorating International Day of Democracy

Ghana joins the global comity of nations to celebrate International Day of Democracy on 15 September.

We at Africa in Focus Show want to therefore use that day to have a very critical and important conversation about the State of Africa's democracy. True, it's a never-ending conversation, especially when Ghana likes to self-plaudit over its entry into democratic dispensation since 1992.

The raison d'être of the show means that this cannot only be about Ghana's democracy, but an attempt to evaluate how far Africa has gone with its democracy.

The show will take place a week after civil society organisations met in Dakar, Senegal, to further-pressurize ECOWAS member states to get serious on two-term democracy. The attempts by ECOWAS at the last ECOWAS summit in Accra, which proved unsuccessful in convincing countries like Togo and Gambia to follow the two-term mandate, may give vent to speculation of a cosmetic attempt for a democratic West Africa. That this recent CSO meeting has taken place so soon reminds us how serious civil society is in contributing to a democratic sub-region.

And how apt!

The theme for the day centres on the centrality of civil society and how it remains the oxygen of democracy.
As UN SG Ban Ki-Moon put it:
"Civil society is the oxygen of democracy. Civil society acts as a catalyst for social progress and economic growth. It plays a critical role in keeping Government accountable, and helps represent the diverse interests of the population, including its most vulnerable groups."

Small wonder, then, we have a distinguished panel populated by Centre for Democratic Development (CDD); West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP); and AIF's partner West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI) to help speak to the State of Africa's Democracy. 


Call us on the following numbers when we open the phone lines at 14h30 GMT
+233(0)289.000.931 // +233(0)289.931.000

Join us if you can at 1pm on 15 September, 2015.

Guiding questions
·       Has democracy become an overly-expensive enterprise?
·       Is democracy best-applicable in Africa?
·       Is & should democracy be synonymous with economic growth?
·       What should the role of CSOs be in facilitating democracy ? How do we assess CSO contribution to deepening democratic dispensation?
·       Peace & security first? Or democracy first?
·       Is the conversation on two-term limits in West Africa over-flogged?
·        Why are we not talking enough about the AU's African Charter on Democracy, Elections & Governance in our democratic discourse?

Guests in the studio:
Ø  Mohammed Awal, Research & Documentation Officer, Centre for Democratic Development(CDD)
Ø  Chukwueneka Eze, Executive Director, West Africa Network for Peacebuilding(WANEP)
Ø  Isaac Hubert Arthur, Head, Research & Documentation, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI)

Guests on the line:
Ø  Dr. Emmanuel Tambi, Policy & Advocacy Manager, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa(FARA), Accra, Ghana @13h20. Tambi will seek to answer the following questions:
o   1. A week after the STISA2024 Consultative workshop has ended, what is the way forward on the AU's STI agenda, and what will be FARA's central role in helping with implementation?

o   2. What is the way forward for Member States and RECs on the STI agenda?

o   3. What are some of the key activities FARA will be involved in between now and Dec 2015? Any big plans for 2016?

o   4. It is International Day of Democracy on 15 September? What are FARA's thoughts on how STISA advocacy can help facilitate ...

Monday, September 7, 2015

COMING UP!》Ep.52: Afro-Literacy! (8 Sept, 2015)

                Episode #52:
   Afro-Literacy (1): Commemorating          International Day of Literacy

Ghana joins the world in celebrating International Literacy Day on 8 September under the theme "Literacy & Sustainable Societies."

We want to, therefore, use Episode 52 on that day to have an important conversation on aspects of literacy – for which reason we will populate a panel that will bring together people who are thinking about different aspects of digital; financial/economic literacy.

At AIF, we do not believe literacy should be seen only in the strictest sense of the ability to read and write, but appreciate the fact that it needs to go beyond to become sustainable.

We will therefore, with our guests, speak to issues, such as the importance of book-reading; the role of social media in fostering literacy; and why, for example, we must begin to support those who are working to digitize African content.

Call us on the following numbers when we open the phone lines at 14h30 GMT
+233(0)289.000.931 // +233(0)289.931.000

Join us if you can at 1pm on 8 September, 2015.

*Guiding questions*

What is the rationale behind WorldReader?
Does WR have any activities lined up for 8 September?
Why is it important and useful to digitize African books?
How did Rachel Emefe Markham conceive of #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShows?
Why did Rachel find it important to start a twitter campaign when everyone is already talking about #BrandAfrica?
Three weeks after UN World Tourism Organisation meeting on #BrandAfrica, what are (vestigial) impressions on way forward?
What can Ghanaians do to improve digital literacy?
Are Ghanaians financially-literate?
What can be done to improve financial literacy?
What has GHASALC done in this respect? What are plans?
What is Pencils of Promise, and what does it seek to do?
What are some of its major activities?
Why did Pencils of Promise chose Ghana?

**Guests in the studio:**
Rachel Emefa Markham, student/founder of #TheAfricaTheMediaNeverShowsYou;  @WestAfricanne
Samuel Alomenu, WorldReader
Amber Shevin, Pencils of Promise

**Guests on the line**:
Representative of Forum on Agricultural Research in Africa(FARA) to comment on 2-day Consultation Workshop on AU's Science, Technology & Innovation(STI) Agenda 2024 @13h20

Eunice Brako-Marfo, Executive Secretary, Ghana Association of Savings & Loans Company (GHASALC), Ghana @14h00 to speak to us about financial and economic literacy

Nana Awere Damoah, author @14h20 to speak to us his book-reading activities, and why book-reading is important

Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng, Communications Consultant/Ghana Association of Writers on the critical importance of reading and writing in fostering literacy @14h40

sent from mobile phone 》》
@ekbensah ■
+233.26.427.87.87 ■ 0233.311.789
"explaining; unpacking; demystifying ECOWAS; AU; South-South policies!": Africa in Focus Show on Radio XYZ93.1FM

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

#AODC: Four key issues to tackle at the Africa Open Data Conference in Tanzania 3-5 September, 2015

Four key issues to tackle at the Africa Open Data Conference

By: Chris Addison, Tim Davies, Ana Brandusescu and Ben Schaap
Next week will see the first continent-wide Africa Open Data Conference: bringing together governments, technologists and innovators from across the continent and beyond to explore the promise and reality of open data in Africa. GODAN will be there, hosting a series of sessions looking at where Agriculture and Nutrition data fits into this picture. In this post, based on feedback from the previous GODAN related discussions and events, we look at four key issues that those sessions will need to explore.
Pic by Neil Palmer (CIAT). Pictures from the Mount Kenya region, for the Two Degrees Up project, to look at the impact of climate change on agriculture. For more information please contact
By Neil Palmer (CIAT).

Issue 1: Approaches for Africa

The GODAN initiative seeks to address long standing global problems related to food security, sustainable agriculture, and malnutrition. We believe these problems can be, at least in part, solved by better use of open data. Whilst there are promising examples, both of open data in Africa, and of open data for agriculture and nutrition, we are still in the early days of identifying and evaluating strategies to make the most of open data in delivering change.
Despite the scale of work in the open data area, there are still to few examples of impact in African agriculture, as we found in the review on smallholder impacts of open data. Making the most of open data in Africa is not just about taking approaches that have worked in Europe, America or Asia, and transporting them cookie-cutter style to other countries: different landscapes require different solutions. For example, research in Kenya and Uganda has suggested radio should be considered an important part of the open data ecosystem. In other contexts, voice-technologies and SMS have been part of making open data accessible. Policy approaches will also need to be tailored to local cases and contexts: understanding which stakeholders need to be involved in making data flow, and ensuring that it supports sustainable development.

Issue 2: Power and control

Efforts to secure open data, and support re-use, cannot ignore issues of power and control. Fears about data being used to empower the already empowered have long been discussed in the open data world, but with the rise of the internet of things, sensor networks, and increasing volumes of data on agriculture generated at the farm level, new concerns have been raised that the open data debate might provide cover for ‘data grabs’, with powerful governments and corporates exploiting locally collected data.
It is important to explore the boundaries between data that local farmers and communities have a right to control, data that is created through the relationship between farmers and companies, where both parties have rights to the data, and non-personal data collected by governments. Openness can play a different role in each of these settings. If we are to avoid creating new data divides we need to consider not only the formal openness of a dataset, but who has the skills and resources to use it.
Farmers organisations can use existing open data to attract investments in agriculture, secure insurance and by controlling their own data improve their position with government in validating government statistics.
Open data encourages us to think about the value of datasets. That can lead to reactionary approaches that seek to lock down and privately exploit data. However, the idea of open data is that more value is unlocked when data is shared, contributed to a commons. Yet commons are not unregulated spaces: to function well they require relationships, norms of conduct and trust.
Drip irrigation instruction photo by S.Kilungu (CCAFS)
Drip irrigation instruction photo by S.Kilungu (CCAFS)

Issue 3: Sustainable development data

GODAN recently joined the new Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data. The UN have suggested that if we are to be able to plan for, and monitor delivery of, the post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals, we are going to need a data revolution. New sources of data, and increased access to the data we have will be needed.
But what does this look like in the fields of agriculture and nutrition?
We need to consider best practices for collecting and sharing robust data on which plans and policy can be made. And with a focus on using ‘big data’ captured from satellites and mobile phones we need to consider responsible data practices, respecting privacy whilst ensuring policy is open to scrutiny. The role of the private sector in delivering sustainable development data is also a key topic.
Ultimately we need to make sure we understand the issues: is the issue really a data collection gap? Or are the problems down to the lack of capacity and standards for collecting and reporting data? How far is open data a solution to the data deficit that faced the last round of global development goals?

Issue 4: Promoting use

We need to promote open data to ensure all stakeholders, particularly farmers and consumers are empowered to benefit from data. And we need to do this in ways that avoid  creating new forms of dependency and exploitation.
Intermediaries play an important part in making data accessible, as does capacity building. What forms of intermediation and capacity building are best-placed to increase the use of open data in Africa? What kinds of data communities should GODAN and other open data networks be reaching out to in order to see agriculture and nutrition data used effectively to make a difference.

Debating the questions

These are just some of the issues and questions that we hope will be on the table at the Africa Open Data Conference. Follow us via #AfricaOpenData and #GODAN.

STORIFY Feature: Ten(10) Reasons Why You must Listen to the Africa in Focus Show Tuesdays 13h00 -- 15h00

Media advisory: XIV World Forestry Congress: 7-11 September, 2015

Durban, South Africa, 7–11 September 2015

Vision 2050 for forests and forestry – Launch of Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015
The need for governments, civil society and the private sector to boost investment in forests as a key to sustainable development will be the focus of the XIV World Forestry Congress taking place in Durban, South Africa, from 7 to 11 September 2015.

Under the theme Forests and People: Investing in a Sustainable Future, participants will discuss ways to unleash the full potential of forests to lift rural populations out of poverty, act as buffers against climate change and inspire new technologies and renewable products.

Ministers and heads of international and national agencies will be among several thousand people gathering for the Congress, which takes place every six years.

This year’s event is hosted by the Republic of South Africa with support from FAO, and marks the first time the Congress will be held on African soil since its inception in 1926.
Highlights include the launch of FAO’s Global Forest Resources Assessment 2015, which will show how the world’s forests have changed over the last 25 years and provide the latest information on the state of sustainable forest management.

The Congress outcome, Vision 2050, is set to reinforce the contribution of forests and forestry to a sustainable future and help pave the road to a new climate change agreement at the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Paris in December.
Main Congress proceedings will be in English, French and Spanish and will be webcast.

Key events

Monday 7 September
Opening of conference and high-level dialogue on the global forest agenda
Prince Laurent of Belgium, Special Ambassador to FAO for Forests and the Environment, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva are among high-level speakers confirmed so far.
Launch of the Global Forest Resources Assessment (FRA) 2015
The foremost global forest data assessment will reveal how the world’s forests have changed over the last 25 years. Updated every five years, FRA provides comprehensive information on the state of sustainable forest management, the percentage of forests lost and gained, and other trends by region, country, income category and climatic domain.
Wednesday 9 September
Launch of the Five-year Forests and Water Action Plan
Worldwide, more than one in six people still do not have access to safe drinking water. As global demand for fresh water rises and water grows scarcer, the Five-year Forests and Water Action Plan will call for action in areas of science, policy, economics and forest practices.
Thursday 10 September
Wangari Maathai Forest Champions Award 2015
The winner of the Wangari Maathai Forest Champions Award 2015 will be announced at a special ceremony. The USD 20,000 prize was established by the Collaborative Partnership on Forests in 2012 and recognizes extraordinary efforts by an individual to improve and sustain forests and the people who depend on them.
Friday 11 September
Launch of Vision 2050 for forests and forestry
The Congress outcome, Vision 2050, is set to strengthen the role of forests and forestry in sustainable development and pave the road to a new climate change agreement at the UNFCCC COP21 in Paris in December.

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