Sunday, September 30, 2012

Mombasa: Tumaini orphanage children to benefit from UK scooter aid

Tumaini Children Home, which is a center for children whose parents have died of aids, is set to benefit from scooters from UK donations.

The move follows a scooter taken to the orphanage based in Mombasa which has some of its orphans suffering from aids, earlier this year by Micro Scooters UK which has seen the company planning to send 60 scooters by end of this year.

“Micro Scooters UK  is planning to ship 60 scooters at the end of the year ensuring each child at the orphanage has their very own to play with and will host Tumaini’s first-ever Christmas Party at which the scooters will be handed over,”  the company said in a statement.

Micro Scooters say they were touched by the children reaction to the scooter and that “the children have few, if any, toys and spend 365 days a year in the same location following the same routine.”

Launched under the Scooter aid initiative, the company seeks to get donations from school going children who have outgrown their scooters and estimates nearly 1 million sold in the country in five years.

“We are encouraging people to send any scooters no longer in use back including a letter to the children at the orphanage adding a personal touch to their donation, we will then safety checked and refurbished before being sent to the Tumaini Children’s Home in Kenya,” Anna Gibson and Philippa Gogarty  said in an online joint press statement.

If the scheme proves a success, Micro Scooters UK will roll it out to children’s homes in other third world countries.

The Tumaini Homes of Hope is a small UK based charity that supports work with orphaned and vulnerable children infected and affected by HIV AIDS with seven years of supporting orphanages and providing education and healthcare-based projects in coast province.

© Manuel Odeny, 2012

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

AfDB approves Sh29.4 billion for Kenya-Ethiopia electricity project

By Manuel Odeny
September 23, 2012
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a Sh29.4 billion funding for the electricity highway project to Kenya from Ethiopia’s Gibe III dam project last week on Thursday.
The funding comes barely two months after the World Bank approved a Sh58billion loan that Ethiopia and Kenya needed to build a 20,000-kilometer high-voltage power line between the two countries.
The project seeks to increase supply of electricity in East Africa region which has seen demand rising steadily due to increased population that has caused severe power shortages.
“In Kenya… the additional power injected into the national grid will enable the supply of electricity to an additional 870,000 households by 2018, and a cumulative total of 1.4 million additional households by 2022, of which 18 per cent will be located in rural areas,” AfDB said in a press statement after its board approved the funding.
In the statement the bank also says businesses and industries will also benefit, with around 3,100 GWh of additional energy by 2018, increasing to around 5,100 GWh by 2022.
 “The project is intended to promote power trade and regional integration, contribute to the Eastern Africa Power Pool (EAPP) countries’ social and economic development, and reduce poverty in those countries,” the bank said
Apart from the two banks other co-founders of the Sh106.5 electricity highway includes which is set for commissioning in November 2017 include the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Governments of Kenya and Ethiopia.
Once finished the project will involve construction of a 1,068 kilometre high-voltage direct current 500 kV transmission line between the two countries and putting up of associated converter stations at Wolayta-Sodo in Ethiopia and Suswa in Kenya.
The line will be able to transmit a power capacity of up to 2,000 MW.
 “We have mobilized funds from other development partners in a timely and efficient manner. The project… has the potential to replace some fossil-fuelled thermal generation in the East African region,” Gabriel Negatu, AfDB’s Regional Director in charge of East Africa said.
It’s estimated that once finished the project will position Ethiopia as the main powerhouse and Kenya as the main hub for power trade in the East African region, Southern Africa, Egypt and Sudan.
 “The East African region is blessed with abundant hydropower and geothermal energy resources which with the implementation of this flagship project will establish pooling of energy resources at the regional level to create a regional electricity market through power trading,” said Thierno Bah, AfDB’s Senior Power Engineer.
The project have received a go ahead even after human rights and environmental activists said the Gibe III damn has been controversial by forceful evictions of locals and its effect on flora and fauna in the River Omo.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Tana River violence: Apart from Godhana three other politicians are involved- HRW

Police officers at a scene of tribal clashes in Tana River, HRW says four politicians are involved in the clash over internicine tribal clashes.
The Human Rights Watch, an international watchdog, has called on the government to investigate and prosecute all persons responsible in the Tana River violence.
In an online statement HRW said that apart from Galole MP Dhadho Godhana who was arrested last Wednesday in connection to the violence and sacked as Assistant Minister in Ministry of Livestock Development, there are at least three other politicians involved.
“(Our) research indicates that at least three other politicians may have been involved in inciting or organizing the violence…. and that the police and local administration in Tana River failed to respond to reports from residents over the past six months that violence could be imminent,” it says.
In the statement HRW criticizes the Police for failing to provide adequate security as revenger attacks continue and call on them “to investigate and prosecute all those potentially responsible for crimes, no matter how high-level they are.”
The call comes after President Mwai Kibaki met Coast MPs and said the government will be harsh on politicians who are inciting Kenyans against each other in ethnic lines.
HRW says it carried out research in Tana River in late August and early September to the Tana River clashes which started on 22 last month at Riketa village before September 7, 10 and 11 revenge attacks that have so far claimed 110 lives and displaced 6,000 people.
The research interviewed 16 witnesses from Ormo and Pokomo communities including victims and found that, “area politicians who hoped to win seats in next year’s elections were involved in the violence on both sides… aimed at displacing the supporters of opponents.”
Witnesses reported seeing “Constituency Development Fund vehicles for Garsen (Whose MP is Danson Mungatana) and Galole constituency carrying fuel to Riketa that was later used to burn buildings in the attack.”
The statemnet also points out that Internal Security Minister and Ijara MP Yusuf Haji who has had public spat with Godhana, who hopes to be Tana River County governor has been backing his rival Hussein Dado.
Godhana is facing charges of incitement that led to the September 10 Kilelengwani village attack that left 40 people dead including nine police officers in revenge of an earlier attack at Chamwanamuma which killed at least 11 people.
“Several politicians or political hopefuls have been linked to the violence in Tana River, ending the political violence in Tana River requires bringing to book those behind the clashes on both sides,” Leslie Lefkow, deputy Africa Director at HRW is quoted on the statement.
“For decades the Kenya police have failed to investigate politicians who may be implicated in serious crimes. If they are ready to do so now the authorities must be even-handed and investigate all sides,” Lefkow points out.
© Manuel Odeny, 2012

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Etihad Airways set to expand in South America

Etihad Airways hostess

19 September 2012

Etihad Airways is keen to expand its footprint in South America, said President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan.

Mr Hogan said that the airline is currently in discussions with South American-based carriers about potential commercial partnerships.

Etihad Airways currently has 38 codeshare partnerships with airlines around the globe, resulting in a combined network of 323 destinations, more than any other Middle Eastern airline.

Beyond its own organic growth, codeshare partnerships and equity stakes are a significant and growing part of the airline’s expansion strategy. Etihad Airways holds a 30 per cent stake of airberlin, 40 per cent of Air Seychelles, 3 per cent of Aer Lingus and 10 per cent of Virgin Australia.

The airline will launch its first route in South America on June 1, 2013, with daily non-stop flights between Sao Paulo, Brazil and its home base of Abu Dhabi, the capitol of the United Arab Emirates.

Etihad Airways' service will also provide seamless connections from Brazil to the airline's global network, offering connectivity over Abu Dhabi to markets in the Gulf Co-operation Council, the Indian Subcontinent and Asia.

Mr Hogan spoke of the significance of the new route, in particular the economic impact.

"Brazil is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, now ranking as the sixth largest since overtaking the UK in 2011. Bi-lateral trade between Brazil and the UAE is valued at nearly US$3 billion annually, with authorities aiming to lift this to US$10 billion within five years.

"There are 25 major Brazilian companies with offices in Abu Dhabi. Mubadala, the development company of the Government of Abu Dhabi, last year signaled its intent to begin investments in Brazil, valued at up to US$13 billion.

"According to the Arab-Brazilian Chamber of Commerce, Brazil trade volumes with the Arab world grew by 28 per cent in 2011 to reach US$25 billion. This is forecasted to grow by a further 10-15% this year.

"In addition to supporting the growing ties between Brazil and the Middle East, this new route complements Etihad Airways' recent expansion in North Asia, including the recent introduction of services to Chengdu and Shanghai and the upcoming increase to daily Tokyo services with connections to Nagoya from April 2013.

"With some of the fastest connecting flight times to China and Japan, Brazil's largest and fifth largest trade partner, respectively, Etihad Airways is providing vital air links between the world's major emerging markets."

Mr Hogan was in Sao Paulo late last week to meet prominent local diplomats, travel industry executives, media and corporate representatives.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Study: Accountability to society still not a high priority for many banks and insurers

18 September 2012

Five years on from the start of the financial crisis, being a socially responsible corporate citizen is still not a top priority for many business leaders in financial services, new research from the Economist Intelligence Unit shows.

In a global survey conducted for Society, shareholders and self-interest: Accountability of business leaders in financial services, an EIU report sponsored by SAS, an overwhelming majority (84%) of C-level banking and insurance executives say meeting short-term performance targets is their main priority.

A considerably smaller proportion (62%) thinks being socially responsible is also important.

The C-suite in finance considers itself most accountable to the board (90%), followed by regulators (79%) and investors (74%). Only 54% of finance leaders see themselves as accountable to society.

When asked who or what they should become more accountable to, the most popular choices for these executives are CEO, investors and the board. The least popular choices are society, employees and the government or state.

Nonetheless, the high level of public scrutiny since the crisis has had a perceptible impact at the top of the sector. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of the executives in the survey say that their companies are making conscious efforts to improve the transparency and accuracy of the information they share with external stakeholders.

Just under two-thirds (65%) also say that they encourage stakeholders to ask questions and scrutinise their performance.

Among those interviewed for this report are Royal Bank of Scotland Chairman Sir Philip Hampton and ING Bank Vice-Chairman Koos Timmermans.

"There are both worrying and hopeful signs that the financial services sector has learnt its lessons from the crash," says Abhik Sen, editor of the report.

"By and large the sector still does not consider itself very accountable to somewhat nebulous stakeholders such as society. On the other hand, there seems to be a growing awareness at the C-level that the crisis has changed the rules of the game forever."

Other key findings from the report include:

• Top managers in finance do not think their remuneration is excessive, and public criticism is having little impact on pay policies. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of senior finance executives surveyed believe they are simply paid what they are worth. Only a minority of them (29%) think that factors such as a tarnished public image or investor criticism have a greater influence on C-level remuneration today.

• Investment banking is becoming more sensitive to public perception, but accountability to society is still not a top priority. Over one-half (53%) of respondents from investment banking agree that factors such as public opinion have more of an influence on risk appetite and pay. However, only 34% see themselves as highly accountable to society at large, compared to nearly 70% of retail or commercial bankers who do.

• Attitudes to accountability and risk management vary markedly between finance CEOs and CFOs. Only 16% of banking and insurance CEOs – compared to 33% of CFOs – think business leaders should be more accountable to society in general. And when asked what kind of impact public opinion is having on the "willingness of C-level executives to take responsibility for failure or misdemeanours", only 13% of CEOs said that it was having more influence than
a few years ago, compared to 41% of CFOs who said the same.

The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted an online global survey of 387 executives in April/May 2012. All of the respondents were C-level executives, and two-thirds were from companies with global annual revenue in excess of US$500m.

Nearly one-third of the respondents were from companies in western Europe; 28% were based in Asia-Pacific and 27% were headquartered in North America. Over three-quarters of the respondents (78%) were from the financial services sector, including 21% from insurance and reinsurance, 20% from investment banking and capital markets, and 19% from retail banking and
commercial banking, respectively.

To place the views of senior finance executives in some context, the remaining respondents in the survey (22%) were drawn from the C-level in the energy and utilities industries. To
complement the survey results, the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted in-depth interviews with several independent experts and senior business executives.

(The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is the world's leading resource for economic and business research, forecasting and analysis. It provides accurate and impartial intelligence for companies, government agencies, financial institutions and academic organisations around the globe, inspiring business leaders to act with confidence since 1946.)

Sunday, September 16, 2012

War Crimes: Rwanda government dragged again in DR Congo for supporting M23 rebels

Families flee fighting between the Congolese army and M23 rebels in Rutshuru territory, eastern Congo in May 2012.

© 2012 Human Rights Watch
By Manuel Odeny
The Rwanda government has been accused of committing war crimes after being dragged again in DR Congo conflict by supporting the M23 rebels.

In a new research by Human Rights Watch between May and September this year which interviewed 190 Congolese and Rwandan victims Rwanda has been implicated to be complicit in war crimes through continued military assistance to M23 rebels.
This new report collaborates the June United Nations Security Council by Group of Experts Democratic Republic of Congo which led to Rwanda being sanctioned and denied aid for supporting the rebels against sanctions.

The two findings accuse Rwanda of the following:
·         Direct assistance in the creation of M23 through the transport of weapons and soldiers through Rwandan territory
·         Recruitment of Rwandan youth and demobilized ex-combatants as well as Congolese refugees for M23
·         Provision of weapons and ammunition to M23
·         Mobilization and lobbying of Congolese political and financial leaders for the benefit of M23
·         Direct Rwandan Defence Forces (RDF) interventions into Congolese territory to reinforce M23
·         Support to several other armed groups as well as Forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) mutinies in the eastern Congo
·         Violation of the assets freeze and travel ban through supporting sanctioned individuals.3

This contravenes the Security Council resolution that states “all States shall take the necessary measures to prevent the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer, from their territories or by their nationals, or using their flag vessels or aircraft, of arms and any related materiel, and the provision of any assistance, advice or training related to military activities, including financing and financial assistance, to all non-governmental entities and individuals operating in the territory of the Democratic Republic of the Congo;”.
Following this report senior Rwanda official are at risk of facing ICC trials at the Hague for being party of the M23’s widespread war crimes, including summary executions, rapes, and forced recruitment.

In July, several hundred Rwandan army soldiers, possibly more, were deployed to eastern Congo to assist the M23 take the strategic border post town of Bunagana, Rumangabo military base, the towns of Rutshuru, Kiwanja, and Rugari, and surrounding areas,” HRW says.

Witnesses, especially M23 defectors say Rwandan forces enter DR Congo through various footpaths near Njerima, Kanyanje and through Ugandan territory and vehicles around Sabyinyo volcano.

Ugandan media has reported Rwandan military arrested in the country as they head to DR Congo.

HRW says Rwanda “had directed, or helped to direct, military operations, provided weapons, or supervised the training of new recruits.”

M23 in Congo has forcibly recruited 286; of whom at least 68 were children under 18, 24 of them under 15 with Rwandan military recruits by-passing them with estimated 600 of its citizens by force to fight.

Most Rwandan recruits are “men and boys with no previous military experience and Congolese Tutsi refugees living in refugee or transit camps in Rwanda. Others targeted for recruitment included demobilized soldiers from the Rwandan army, the CNDP, and demobilized fighters from the FDLR who had returned to Rwanda.”

Sadly FDLR are a largely Rwandan Hutu militia group operating in Congo, some of whose members participated in the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

“There are lots of children with [M23 ICC suspect General] Ntaganda now, and they send us to the front lines so we’re the first to die. It’s as if they take us to kill us,” a 17-year-old Rwandan boy who was recruited in June in Ruhengeri told HRW.

So why does Rwanda recruit its citizens for rebels? A M23 combatant is succinct, “We have a small number of soldiers, and Rwanda has many, we recruit everywhere in Rwanda. We look especially for those with families in Congo, former CNDP fighters, or demobilized soldiers. The street children are also very susceptible to recruitment.”

But Rwanda and M23 continue to deny such allegations. Earlier as an undergrad student I had published an OpEd in this blog, The EastAfrican, Daily Nation and other papers (read it here) on why Rwanda and Uganda who have pilfered Eastern DR Congo resources will not support any report in the country.

The two who claim DR Congo has been used to front rebels in their countries have their armies and presidents to be profiteers and glutton mineral thieves.

Rwandan president Paul Kagame has resorted to dictatorship by forcing the world to bend to his whims by using the genocide guilt card and economic development under his rule as the carrot and its army in UN peace keeping mission in the region as the stick for submission.

And following the same script the Rwandan defense minister, James Kabarebe (he was named in the June UN report, full list later) in an interviews with Belgian newspaper Le Soir on August 29 said, “Everyone knows that Rwanda does not have a single soldier amongst the M23 and does not give it any support.”

M23 leadership has also denied any report linking it to war crimes extensively.

About M23
Wanted: M23 General Bosco Ntaganda
The rebel M23 are soldiers who mutinied to protest the Congolese government’s failure to fully implement the March 23, 2009, peace agreement (hence the name M23), which had integrated them into the Congolese army and was started in late March and May.

Most M23’s senior commanders have well-known histories of serious abuses, ethnic massacres, recruitment of children, mass rape, killing, abductions and torture with some being blacklisted by UN and wanted by ICC.

General Bosco Ntaganda led the mutiny following Congolese government attempts to weaken his control and increased calls for his arrest and surrender to the ICC others are Sultani Makenga, Col. Innocent Zimurinda, Col. Baudouin Ngaruye and Col. Innocent Kayna.
HRW reports that with such tainted past both Ntaganda and Zimurinda have traveled to openely Rwanda since April to seek logistical support against international sanctions and arrest warrants on them.

“The Rwandan government’s repeated denials that its military officials provide support for the abusive M23 rebels beggars belief, the United Nations Security Council should sanction M23 leaders, as well as Rwandan officials who are helping them, for serious rights abuses.”  Anneke Van Woudenberg, senior Africa researcher with HRW says.

According to the earlier report by UN the following Rwandan officials were extensively named and should be sanctioned and brought to justice:
·         General Jacques Nziza, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence he  supervises all military, financial, and logistic support as well as mobilization activities related to M23.
·         General James Kabarebe, the Rwandan Minister of Defence, with the support of his personal secretary Captain Celestin Senkoko for recruitment and mobilizing of political and military support to M23. Kabarebe has often been in direct contact with M23 members on the ground to coordinate military activities;
·         General Charles Kayonga, the RDF Chief of Staff, manages the overall military support to M23. Kayonga is frequently in communication with Makenga and oversaw the transfer of Makenga’s troops and weapons through Rwanda;
·         The military support on the ground, recruitment of civilians and demobilized soldiers for M23 has been channelled by General Emmanuel Ruvusha, RDF Division commander based in Gisenyi, as well as General Alexi Kagame and RDF Division commander based at Ruhengeri. Both facilitate
·         Colonel Jomba Gakumba, a native of North Kivu, who used to be an RDF instructor at the Rwandan Military Academy at Gako.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Love Poem: The Vibration by Marieta Maglas, Romania

My sight chipped out the clouds
from the sky. My eyes became
so expressive for you. The clouds
were, in fact, your thoughts having
the polarity of love. This love of ours
was, in fact, a 'sweet slavery'. We
were searching for our rainbow of
dreams, we were searching for our
color of happiness. Sometimes,
I'm so tired with you, living between
the meanders of your soul. I'm
so tired that I need to cry. The
vibration of your voice becomes
a tear at dawn. Then, love seems
to explode inside of us. This
explosion is like a sunrise. I
expect The Divine to sit nicely
there, in the depth of our souls
and to flow brightly as the
water flows on mountain rocks.

©Marieta Maglas, Romania

Poem: Flamenco Dance (Mirrored Nonet) by Marieta Maglas; Romania

Flamenco Dancers

A juerga with flamenco guitars,
With fires blooming like red flowers,
Corpses dancing in moonlight
The dance of wounded souls,
Vibrant red dresses
White shirts like birds ,
Falling shawls,

Movements of
Color, music's
Seeds, hands being wings
In shadows on the wall,
From soul detaching passion's
Lights, motion vibrating the string,
Resonance for a new dimension.

©Marieta Maglas, Romania

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

AfDB Regional Director Visits Menengai Geothermal Project

A geothermal well at the Menengai Crater
Mr. Gabriel Negatu, AfDB’s Regional Director in charge of the East African Regional Centre (EARC), paid an official visit to the Bank-funded Menengai geothermal site in Kenya’s Rift Valley last Friday. The 400 MW project will cost approximately US $488 million, with the AfDB providing US $120 million, and is expected to increase the country’s installed capacity by almost 30 per cent.

The geothermal project is an integral part of Kenya’s Vision 2030, under which the government has set for itself the goal of becoming energy self-sufficient to drive the increasing needs of the fast-growing economy. Kenya’s Rift Valley region is especially rich in geothermal resources and the government has placed special emphasis on tapping this natural and environmentally friendly resource through the establishment of the Geothermal Development Company (GDC).

Mr. Negatu was guided through the Menengai project by GDC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Silas Simiyu, alongside representatives from both institutions.

During the tour, Mr. Negatu expressed his satisfaction with the pace of implementation of the first phase of the project, which was officially launched by Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki earlier this year.

The Menengai Geothermal Development Project is situated within the eastern sector of the African Rift system, about 180 km northwest of Nairobi. The project aims to develop the Menengai geothermal steam field to produce enough steam for a 400 MW power plant that will be operated by the private sector as an Independent Power Producer (IPP) or through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).

The project will enable a substantial increase in the provision of additional reliable, clean and affordable power generation capacity to Kenyan households, businesses and industries, with an increase equivalent to 26 per cent of the current total installed generation capacity in the country. The steam field development will produce electricity generation equivalent to the consumption needs of up nearly 500,000 households, of which 70,000 are in rural areas, and 300,000 small businesses, as well as providing 1,000 GWh of energy to businesses and industries. The project will also reduce CO2 emissions by close to 2 million tons per annum.

Access to clean energy is expected to significantly improve health and education opportunities, particularly for women and girls in the area. The project will also ensure an employment ratio of 30 per cent women, which is considerably higher than the standards of small towns in the region. The transfer of the potable water facility to the community/municipality will positively impact and empower women who normally collect water for domestic purposes