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Kenyan President’s India Visit Seals 5 Landmark Deals

Agriculture and education took centre stage as an intriguing development emerged after Kenya expressed its intent to offer agricultural farmland to Indian companies…reports Asian Lite News

In a pivotal visit by the President of Kenya, William Samoei Ruto, to India, both countries have solidified their longstanding relationship through a series of five Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) and strategic collaborations spanning diverse sectors, said Dammu Ravi, Secretary (ER) of the Ministry of External Affairs, while giving insightful remarks on the significant outcomes of President Ruto’s visit.

Agriculture and education took centre stage as an intriguing development emerged after Kenya expressed its intent to offer agricultural farmland to Indian companies, aiming to promote farming activities in the region.

“Interestingly, the Kenyan side has expressed interest in offering to India agriculture farmland, farming land for farming purposes, to be able to encourage Indian companies to go there and do farming,” said Dammu Ravi while addressing a media briefing on the Kenyan President’s India visit.

Simultaneously, MoUs were inked between the open universities of both nations, igniting a collaborative effort in the field of education. These agreements set the stage for a multifaceted exchange that encompasses cultural, sports, digital solutions, and digital transformation initiatives.

“Education is another area. The open universities of both sides, IGNOU and Kenyan Open University, have entered into an MoU. Space is another area of cooperation. So these are the five MoUs that have been signed,” said the MEA Secretary.

Kenya’s keen interest in learning from India extends to the fintech space, with a specific focus on UPI and Aadhaar. The health sector emerged as a significant area of cooperation, with discussions ranging from medical expertise exchanges to collaborative efforts in traditional medicine.

“The Kenyan side expressed interest in learning from India in several areas, particularly in fintech, space, the UPI, the Aadhaar, and the health space. They have expressed interest in having greater cooperation, particularly with Indian specialist doctors visiting those countries, and in turn, they would like to have a longer stay for their specialists, nurses, and medical doctors to come to India to learn from us. Traditional medicine also figured very strongly in the bilateral talks,” he added.

Ravi also said that the economic landscape witnessed a substantial boost with announcements such as the enhancement of the line of credit for agriculture modernisation in Kenya. A ground-breaking customised training programme for Kenyan space scientists by ISRO and the development of a geospatial information portal for Kenya further underscored the commitment to technological advancements.

“Besides, there have also been other announcements. For example, you have the line of credit to enhance from the existing 100 million to USD 250,000,000 for the agriculture modernization of Kenya and a customised training programme for 20 space scientists of the Kenya Space Agency, which will be done by ISRO, and a geospatial information portal for Kenya, which India will be developing for them. And then, last but not least, the Kenyan government expressed interest in joining the International Solar Alliance and the Global Biofuel Alliance,” the MEA Secretary added.

Dammu Ravi also emphasised the success of India’s G20 presidency, particularly in securing permanent membership in the African Union. Kenyan President Ruto expressed gratitude for Prime Minister Modi’s efforts, highlighting the positive outcomes of collaborative efforts such as the Voice of the Global Summit.

“Post the successful India’s G20 presidency wherein India brought in the African Union membership as a permanent membership of the G20, which has been appreciated by President William Ruto and thanked the Prime Minister for his personal efforts in bringing convergence and working with others to bring African Union into the fold of the G20,” the MEA Secretary (ER) added.

The historical and robust relationship between India and Kenya was underscored by Ravi, emphasising the longstanding connections between the two nations. Institutional frameworks, including Foreign Office consultations and Joint Trade Committee meetings, continue to strengthen bilateral ties. The development partnership, marked by lines of credit and educational scholarships, further solidifies the bond between the two nations.

“The relationship between India and Kenya is on sound footing. One of the Foreign Office consultations, the Joint Commission meeting, and the Joint Trade Committee meetings–these institutional arrangements–regularly take place between the two countries. We also have a very robust development partnership with Kenya,” he said.

Ravi also underscored the bilateral trade, standing at USD 3.3 billion, showcasing the economic vibrancy of the relationship, with India’s exports playing a significant role. The upcoming India-Kenya Business and Investment Forum is poised to stimulate further economic cooperation, with President Ruto expected to address Indian business leaders.

“Kenya is a very strong partner in Africa in the development partnership. The bilateral trade is about USD 3.3 billion. Kenya imports about 1,16,000,000 and the investments from India’s side are about 3.2 billion. About 200 Indian companies are actively present in Kenya. During the delegation-level talks with the Prime Minister and President Ruto, several interesting ideas of cooperation have come up, one of which is the digital public infrastructure in this area,” he added.

Highlighting the enduring strength of defence cooperation, Ravi mentioned ongoing initiatives in maritime collaboration and hydrography. The business and investment forum will further facilitate interactions between the leaders, paving the way for increased Indian investments in Kenya.

“As you all know, Kenya and India are the founding members of the International Big Cat Alliance, and both have agreed to deepen cooperation in this area. Both sides have also issued the India-Kenya Joint Vision Statement on maritime cooperation in the innovation region. And this is one of the important outcomes of this meeting,” he added.

“The defence cooperation has always been strong, and since the day the Defence Minister visited last August, there has been ongoing defence cooperation, which includes maritime cooperation, hydrography, et cetera. In terms of the programme, later this afternoon there will be a Business India Kenya Business and Investment Forum, which the President will address. And there will be interaction with the Indian businesses in many areas,” Dammu Ravi also said.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Kenyan President William Ruto at Hyderabad House in New Delhi. The two leaders held discussions on deepening the partnership between India and Kenya. (ANI)

India, Kenya Share Common Views: President

Expressing her happiness over the inclusion of the African Union as a permanent member of the Group of 20 (G20), President Droupadi Murmu on Tuesday said India and Kenya share common views on major global issues.

“India and Kenya share common views on major global issues and cooperate closely in regional and multilateral fora such as the United Nations. We are very happy that under India’s Presidency, the African Union has been included in the G-20 as a full member,” President Murmu said at a banquet hosted at the Rashtrapati Bhavan in the honour of her Kenyan counterpart William Samoei Ruto on Tuesday.

In her welcome address at the banquet, President Murmu said the waters of the Indian Ocean have connected the people of India and Kenya for centuries.

“Our friendship has matured into a robust bilateral relationship, underpinned by significant economic collaboration across various sectors, including trade, education, and technology. In addition, we have taken forward our cooperation in combating the global challenges and to substantiate global terrorism,” she said.

The President said she was happy to note that the 80,000-strong Indian-origin community in Kenya is “well integrated there, both socially and economically”.

“They are proud Kenyans, even as they have upheld Indian culture and values. This bears testimony to the inclusive character of Kenyan society,” President Murmu added.

India is one of Kenya’s largest trading partners and among the largest sources of investment in Kenya, she pointed out, adding that many Indian companies have made Kenya their base for their operations in East Africa.

President Murmu stressed further that India’s private sector was keen to ramp up investments in Kenya, adding that the Union government was also committed to being a dependable partner in the country’s developmental journey.

The President said the two countries must work together, “not only for the well-being and progress of our people but also for the citizens of the Global South”.

“Both leaders agreed that there are many other multilateral forums through which our two countries can work together,” she added.

At the banquet hosted by President Murmu, the Kenyan head of state was accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

Ruto also inspected a Guard of Honour before he was received at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by President Droupadi Murmu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (ANI)

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Jaishankar Calls On Kenyan President Ruto

The Kenyan President is accompanied by a high-level official delegation. His visit comes as Ruto’s first to India in his present capacity….reports Asian Lite News

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday called on Kenyan President William Samoei Ruto, who is on a two-day state visit to India.

The Kenyan President is accompanied by a high-level official delegation. His visit comes as Ruto’s first to India in his present capacity.

“Honored to call on Kenyan President @WilliamsRuto at the start of his State Visit. Appreciated his perspectives on the concerns of the Global South. Valued his insights for the further strengthening of our bilateral ties,” posted Jaishankar on X.

Separately, the chairperson of Bharti Enterprises, Sunil Bharti Mittal also met with Ruto in New Delhi.

He highlighted to the President Airtel’s enduring relationship with and commitment to the people of Kenya in catalysing the digital economy of the country.

Mittal also spoke to the President about the benefits of co-innovation and collaboration in distributing the success of the Indian Digital Public Infrastructure to Kenya.

The Kenyan President is paying a state visit to India from December 4-6 at the invitation of President Droupadi Murmu.

During his stay in India, Ruto will meet President Murmu. He will be accorded a ceremonial welcome at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhawan on December 5, as per a release issued by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

A state banquet will be hosted by President Murmu in honour of President Ruto.

The Kenyan President will also hold detailed discussions with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Ruto will also participate in a business and investment event in New Delhi.

A presidential visit from Kenya is taking place after a period of over six years and is expected to strengthen and invigorate the bilateral relations between the two countries, as per the official release.

Kenyan President William Ruto last Friday termed his country’s ties with India “fantastic” and thanked PM Modi for making sure that the African Union (AU) becomes a permanent member of the G20.

He said that India and Kenya have a fantastic bilateral relationship and added that he is looking forward to visiting India.

“India has made a very huge contribution. We want to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for making sure that Africa became a permanent member of the G20 during his presidency. And we will be having further conversations with him,” the Kenyan President told ANI.

“We have a fantastic bilateral relationship and it is my intention that we are going to build on that relationship during my visit to India later…,” he added.

The African Union is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa. The move to include the African Union in the G20 grouping was proposed by PM Modi earlier this June.

PM Modi, in his opening remarks at the 18th G20 Leaders’ Summit, invited the African Union, represented by Chairperson Azali Assoumani, to take a seat at the table of G20 leaders as a permanent member.

“With everyone’s approval, I request the AU head to take his seat as a permanent G20 member,” Modi said in his address.

Following PM Modi’s announcement, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar accompanied the President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Azali Assoumani, as he took his seat among world leaders. (ANI)

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New partnership to accelerate energy transition in Africa

Over 40% of the population in Africa lives without access to electricity, and 70% without access to clean cooking fuels…reports Asian Lite News

A new partnership between UNOPS and SEforALL will support governments, donors and other stakeholders to accelerate the energy transition in Africa and find a sustainable way to meet its growing energy needs, which is one of the core development challenges for the continent.

The Africa Energy Transition Partnership (AETP), announced on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, will deliver joint action and improved coordination, by addressing issues that impede access to renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable infrastructures.

Over 40 per cent of the population in Africa lives without access to electricity, and 70 per cent without access to clean cooking fuels. Africa enjoys immense energy potential, particularly in renewable energy, yet only a fraction of this is currently being used.

Against this context, the partnership represents a unique opportunity to support the region’s energy development and climate goals.

Mobilising technical and financial resources in energy projects remains a key challenge. The partnership will bring funders together with African governments, and other stakeholders to develop a shared vision to ensure the right energy mix for the continent.

UNOPS, a UN organisation, will be responsible for managing the funds and providing operational and administrative support, while SEforALL will provide access to finance and technical assistance.

The Africa Energy Transition Partnership will have a pan-continental view, however, as an initial step its first phase will be implemented in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya until 2028, while other African countries are identified to be incorporated as the programme rolls out.

AETP builds on lessons learned from the ongoing Southeast Asia Energy Transition Partnership, which since 2020 supports Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable energy system.

Jorge Moreira da Silva, the UNOPS Executive Director said: “Access to reliable and clean energy is key to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. Africa’s rapid economic expansion calls for sustainable solutions to meet growing energy needs and this is one of the core development challenges for the continent.

“UNOPS is committed to supporting Africa in its efforts to provide access to energy for all, and to ensure that the clean energy transition delivers for Africa’s economic and social development.”

Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All, remarked: “The energy transition in Africa presents an unparalleled opportunity to address climate change and promote sustainable development.

“It is extremely vital that we think of how people access and consume energy, especially in regions where energy infrastructure does not adequately meet demand. This is why at Sustainable Energy for All we work with African governments to develop whole-of-economy Energy Transition and Investment Plans that help build energy systems to support economic and social development and achieve net-zero emissions.”

Ruto makes case for Africa

President William Ruto of Kenya has championed Africa’s transformative climate action, calling for comprehensive financial reforms that are innovative and responsive to the continent’s needs.

Ruto said there is an urgent need to align international financial institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) with Africa’s development context and climate goals.

Ruto spoke at the opening plenary of the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, as chair of the Committee for African Heads of State and Government and Climate Change (CAHOSSC).

He addressed delegates, including COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, President of the United Arab Emirates Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres, representatives from more than 200 countries and many others.

“The current climate financing ecosystem must be changed and restructured. It must be made to be more responsive and innovative to effectively address the challenges posed by high debt service pressure — especially in developing countries,” Ruto said, while pushing for tangible climate action to confront the adverse effects of a warming planet.

While regretting that the world is till split into Global North and Global South even in times of dire climate crises, Ruto warned that the globe cannot afford to overlook Africa’s huge potential or ignore its pressing needs.

“No country should be forced to choose between its development and climate action, as it is possible to pursue the two together since economic growth and environmental sustainability cannot be mutually exclusive,” he said, calling for integrated global efforts that will broaden capital for both development and climate action.

Ruto said there is a need to expand revenue streams for additional climate financing, focusing on Africa as a source of solutions, not just a victim of climate change. He said Africa has great potential to offer solutions to the ongoing climate crises due to the continent’s huge youth population, immense green energy industrialisation opportunities and natural carbon sinks due to the large tracks of forests and arable land.

“The world must install clear, actionable roadmaps to turn Africa into a green powerhouse. This is not just essential but also an important ingredient for industrial decarbonisation. A unified global effort will ensure that we mobilise capital for both our development and necessary climate action,” he said.

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Somalia president hails lifting of arms embargo

In a statement, Information Minister Daud Aweis said the embargo lift will help modernize the country’s armed forces…reports Asian Lite News

Somalia’s President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud welcomed Saturday the U.N. Security Council vote to lift an arms embargo imposed on the Horn of Africa nation more than 30 years ago.

The 15-member council unanimously voted Friday night in favor of the British-drafted resolution to lift the weapons ban. However, France was the only member to abstain when voting on another resolution to reimpose an arms embargo on al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militants, saying the resolution lacked references to the territorial disputes between Djibouti and Eritrea.

In a statement, Information Minister Daud Aweis said the embargo lift will help modernize the country’s armed forces. “Somalia has been grappling with significant security challenges, including the presence of extremist groups such as al-Shabab. The Somali government needs access to modern arms and equipment to effectively combat these threats and maintain security within its borders,” the statement read.

The Somali president, in a televised statement soon after the adoption of the resolution, said the embargo lift “means that we are now free to purchase any weapons needed,” adding that “friendly nations and allies” can now “provide us with the necessary weapons without any limitations or restrictions.”

Somalia was placed under the embargo in 1992 to stop the sale of weapons to warlords who toppled former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. The ouster led to decades of civil war and instability in the country as the warlords fought against each other.

Last month, Mohamud pledged to wipe out the Islamist group, al-Shabaab, by Dec. 2024. The militant group has lost swaths of territory since the government backed by local militias, African Union troops and Western powers, launched an extensive offensive against it in May.

Somalia has been plagued by years of conflict and has for decades heavily depended on the support of African Union forces, as well as Western powers such as the United States and Turkey, to maintain security and counter the threat posed by Islamic militant groups operating within the country.

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Burkina Faso rights defender abducted

Earlier this year, Burkina Faso’s junta announced the “general mobilization” decree to recapture territories lost as jihadi attacks continue to ravage the landlocked country…reports Asian Lite News

A prominent human rights defender in Burkina Faso has been abducted by unknown individuals, rights groups have announced, in what activists say could be the latest attempt by the military government to target dissidents using a controversial law.

Daouda Diallo, a 2022 recipient of the Martin Ennals international human rights award, was abducted on Friday in Burkina Faso’s capital of Ouagadougou after visiting the passport department where he had gone to renew his documents, according to the local Collective Against Impunity and Stigmatization of Communities civic group, which Diallo founded.

His captors – in civilian clothing – accosted him as he tried to enter his car and took him to “an unknown location,” the group said in a statement on Friday, warning that Diallo’s health could be at risk and demanding his “immediate and unconditional” release.

Amnesty International’s West and Central Africa office said Diallo’s abduction was “presumably (for him) to be forcibly conscripted” after he was listed last month among those ordered to join Burkina Faso’s security forces in their fight against jihadi violence as provided by a new law.

“Amnesty International denounces the use of conscription to intimidate independent voices in #BurkinaFaso and calls for the release of Dr. Diallo,” the group said via X, formerly known as Twitter.

Earlier this year, Burkina Faso’s junta announced the “general mobilization” decree to recapture territories lost as jihadi attacks continue to ravage the landlocked country.

The decree empowers the government to send people to join the fight against the armed groups. But it is also being used to “target individuals who have openly criticized the junta” and “to silence peaceful dissent and punish its critics,” Human Rights Watch has said.

HRW said at least a dozen journalists, civil society activists and opposition party members were informed by the government in November that they would be conscripted, including Diallo, who joined Burkina Faso activists in condemning the move.

“The simple fact of showing an independence of position is enough to be conscripted,” said Ousmane Diallo, a researcher with Amnesty International in Burkina Faso.

“Right now, civil society activists, human rights defenders and even leaders of opposition political parties do not dare express freely their opinions because this decree is being used to silence and intimidate all of the voices that are independent,” he added.

Daouda Diallo won the prestigious Martin Ennals awards for his work in documenting abuses and protecting people’s rights in Burkina Faso where security forces have been fighting jihadi violence for many years.

A pharmacist turned activist, he said last year that he’s regularly followed, his home has been robbed and he rarely sleeps in the same place for fear of being killed.

ALSO READ-Tensions rise between Burkina Faso and Ghana

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The Chinese Debt Trap In Africa

A major problem with these projects in Africa is the excessive presence of Chinese stakeholders. The majority of these projects in African countries like Ghana, Uganda, and Mozambique, to name a few, are being funded by Chinese financial institutions. Other than Chinese banks, the Chinese element is present excessively, manifesting as Chinese construction companies who are undertaking projects in the continent. Dr Aditi Sharma writes on the perils of the Chinese Model of resource-backed infrastructure financing in Africa

The model of resource-backed lending for infrastructure development has gained renewed attention in the development financing discourse as well as international media controversies. The model has attracted attention for two reasons: one, the nature of the resources involved, and second, the controversial nature of the lenders involved, namely China. Moreover, the borrowers involved in the process are also often poor developing countries, prone to unfair debt deals, further exacerbating the international community’s concerns.

To be succinct, the resource-financed infrastructure exchange takes place in two ways. In one case, the income from resource sales is used for repaying the loans to the lending nations, and in the other case, the natural resources are swapped in the future in return for the provision of infrastructure. Though the model of financing appears pro-development and efficient for Africa, as evident, the exact execution of the project may not be so.

A major problem with these projects in Africa is the excessive presence of Chinese stakeholders. The majority of these projects in African countries like Ghana, Uganda, and Mozambique, to name a few, are being funded by Chinese financial institutions. Other than Chinese banks, the Chinese element is present excessively, manifesting as Chinese construction companies who are undertaking projects in the continent.

Across African nations, there is an outstanding concern amongst the local people as well as companies regarding the effectiveness of infrastructure-related Chinese development aids. The general outcomes of the infrastructure projects are technology transfer from the technology-rich nation. However, there is a very limited technology transfer in this case as there is no focus on capacity building, and the local population is barely involved in projects. The Chinese companies are majorly responsible for infrastructure development in these countries. The process is so Chinese that the labour involved in the construction is also from China. This leads to a gap in the labour market, with locals bereft of employment opportunities. Traditionally, undertaking massive projects solves two major economic issues in the process. First, it helps build public infrastructure and enhance welfare by improving living standards. Second, these projects are undertaken by the governments as a fiscal instrument to increase spending in the economy, generate employment, and curb poverty. Now, with Chinese involvement, huge infrastructure projects are being executed with limited involvement of the locals, rendering the dire issues of poverty and unemployment in these regions unaddressed. This process is far from building self-reliance and long-term sustainability in these nations.

There are other incentive-related issues with this financing model.  As long as the borrowing economies are working fine, the model works. However, the moment they default or commodity prices crash, the borrowing nations are in deep trouble. If the collateral (which is the resource they have sworn to swap) loses its value due to market volatility, the borrowers fall short of collateral and default. Countries like Angola and Ghana have faced similar issues. Given the recent default and IMF’s debt restructuring in Ghana, the concern about Chinese loans became crucial. Ghana, using a resource-backed borrowing approach, has collateralized its debt using bauxite, cocoa, and oil. Given its default, if China decides to call off its loans, Ghana stands to lose its natural resources. As per a Ghanaian official, if they are not able to furnish the desired quantities of aluminum from the bauxite ore, the Chinese will ask for other sources of revenue, like tax revenue. The loan agreement empowers China to take over Ghana’s oil, cocoa, bauxite, and even electricity sales earnings to pay off the debt.

Skeptics conjecture that default is often desirable for lending nations as it allows them to act more extractive and stringently. There is another concern with the Chinese presence in Ghana. The mineral extraction has put forest ecosystem in some regions of Ghana in extreme danger, while Chinese authorities have never been known for any kind of environmental considerations.

China’s infrastructure aid is also extending to fund the construction of schools and universities. Experts fear that allows China to exercise its influence in their curriculum by providing it’s flair of ‘Chinese elements.’

A deeper understanding of Chinese presence in Africa allows one to draw parallels to the expansion of imperial and colonial interests in the past. Ideally, lenders providing development aid need not bring their own companies and people to undertake construction in the borrowing nation. After all, the idea is to ensure that developing countries gain technological advancements and capacity. The Chinese way is different and appears decapitating for African sovereignty.

The issue is two-fold, but at the heart of it is one problem: the incentive problem. African governments often lack discipline, end up making extravagant election promises like Ghana did, and do not have the capacity to ensure equitable distribution of outcomes of development projects yet. Given ubiquitous underdevelopment and often recurring political instability, they lack incentives. At the same time, China has excesses incentive but is perverse. Its goals are to eliminate the Western influence, gain strongholds in Africa, discourage democracy promotion and transparency, and gain support, along with the goals of resource capture. That is why Chinese investors do not include any welfare-oriented goals as a pre-requisite condition before making investments, which is a general practice.

Thus, is resource-financed infrastructure essentially a bad model? Theoretically, no, practically may be. As mentioned, it depends on the entities involved and their motivations. We live in a complex geopolitical world where development-oriented economic motives are highly intertwined with other major political motives. Arm-twisting exists. The concerns about the model are related to ownership, sustainability, and disposability of natural resources. The exchange of resources has always existed through trade and has been economically fairer than the current regime of making resources a part of the debt-related vulnerabilities. There are higher chances that the lender can raise the cost of borrowing, not just financially, but also politically. Poor borrowing countries, dependent on China’s debt-restructuring terms, may have to pay the price by relinquishing their resources, sovereignty, political independence, and their voice in international platforms. While the poor in developing countries are not getting any tangible benefits, the flair of neo-imperialism is spreading across Africa.

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UN Reports Severe Flooding in Ethiopia Affecting 1.5 Million People

The humanitarians said many people are still grappling with five consecutive seasons of severe droughts in the Horn of Africa, Xinhua news agency reported…reports Asian Lite News

Flooding in the last month has impacted 1.5 million people in Ethiopia, displacing more than 600,000 of them from their homes, UN humanitarians said.

The UN Office for the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Thursday that the Somali region accounts for 80 per cent of those most affected, including in the South East, Gambela, Oromia, Afar and Sidama regions.

“The floods have caused extensive damage to crops, livestock and vital infrastructure,” OCHA added.

“Houses, shops, schools and agricultural lands are submerged. There is also a rise in health risks with increased cases of cholera, malaria and dengue fever.”

The humanitarians said many people are still grappling with five consecutive seasons of severe droughts in the Horn of Africa, Xinhua news agency reported.

OCHA said UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator Ramiz Alakbarov, Ethiopian officials and United Nations and non-governmental organisation representatives visited flood-affected areas to assess the situation and explore how to scale up relief efforts.

“The United Nations and our partners are supporting the government response and providing food, shelter, water and sanitation, as well as logistics support,” the office said.

“In addition to increased logistical capacity, we also need increased funding beyond the immediate humanitarian response to help communities adapt to climate change.”

OCHA said this year’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Ethiopia, calling for nearly $4 billion, is only one-third funded, at $1.3 billion.

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Tata Targets Africa

With a rich legacy spanning over four decades, Tata International is a key contributor to the economic landscape of the African continent…reports Asian Lite News

Tata International is set to expand operations in Nigeria through a strategic partnership with the Lagos Free Zone (LFZ). The agreement was signed in the presence of Anand Sen, Managing Director of Tata International Limited, by Managing Director of Tata Africa Holdings Pty Ltd, Len Brand. This marks a significant milestone in the company’s commitment to the region.

With a rich legacy spanning over four decades, Tata International is a key contributor to the economic landscape of the African continent. In 2006, Tata International established operations in Nigeria and since then has made a significant contribution in the country, upholding the core values of Tata’s business ethics and commitment to corporate social responsibility.

“As a brand synonymous with quality products and ethical business operations in Africa, Tata International is excited to join the Lagos Free Zone. This strategic move reflects our commitment to fuelling growth in Nigeria and the wider African continent”, says Anand Sen, MD, Tata International.

Promoted by Tolaram, a Singaporean conglomerate with over four decades of experience in Nigeria, LFZ is in Lekki, the sunrise development corridor earmarked by Lagos State Government for driving industrialization over the next two decades. The agreement with LFZ involves the leasing of a state-of-the-art 6000 square meter facility within LFZ, a move aimed at enhancing Tata International’s operational capabilities in the region.

“The participation in Lagos Free Zone is the next level of commitment for Tata International’s longstanding presence in Nigeria and the African continent as a whole. This collaboration with Tolaram underscores our dedication to fostering economic growth and increased competitiveness. We aim for this partnership to lead to greater efficiency, innovation, and specialisation in the region,” added Len Brand, MD of Tata Africa Holdings.

The signing ceremony took place in the Lagos Free Zone area and was attended by key representatives from Tata International, Tolaram and Lagos Free Zone. The event signifies the dawn of a new era in the relationship between the entities, aiming to contribute to economic development in the region and attract new investors to Nigeria, recognised as one of the key economies in the continent.

“Tata International remains steadfast in its vision to build and sustain relationships in Africa. The company’s entry into the Lagos Free Zone reaffirms its commitment to creating opportunities and making a positive impact on local communities. We stand by our pledge to strengthen our already robust footprint on the African continent,” concluded Brand.

Navin Nahata, a member of the Tolaram Board and the Managing Director of its infrastructure and fintech business, added: “We are delighted that Tata International, one of our most prestigious international clients, has decided to expand their operations in Nigeria through our ready-to-lease Standard Industrial Facility at the LFZ. We are committed to supporting the next phase of growth in Nigeria for Tata International.”

“LFZ is the first and only free zone in Nigeria that is uniquely integrated with the deepest seaport in the region, the Lekki Port, which commenced operations in April 2023. LFZ thus offers a unique location that will provide our valued tenants with seamless and cost-efficient access to domestic, regional, and international markets,” said Dinesh Rathi, CEO and Managing Director at Lagos Free Zone.

The Tata group and Tata International began the relationship with the African continent in 1977 with the establishment of Tata Zambia. In 1994, the Tata group inaugurated Tata Africa Holdings, in Johannesburg South Africa, which now serves as the group’s headquarters in the continent. Tata International is present in 12 African countries, namely South Africa, Ghana, Kenya, Ivory Coast, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It operates in automotive, agricultural equipment, farming and farm equipment, chemicals, and healthcare products.

Today, Tata is a brand that’s synonymous with quality products and ethical business operations in Africa. It is committed to its vision of building and sustaining relationships in Africa with cooperation and trust, creating employment opportunities and making its contribution to the social development of local communities. Tata companies in Africa promote the social and economic development of local communities through education, entrepreneurship and health initiatives.

Lagos Free Zone

Established in 2012, Lagos Free Zone (LFZ) is a unique and award-winning port-based industrial zone (850 hectares) in Lagos, Nigeria, with over USD 2.5 billion committed FDI projects to date. Owned and promoted by Tolaram , LFZ is located in Lekki, the sun rise development corridor in Lagos. Its vision is to be the preferred industrial hub in West Africa with world-class infrastructure and they currently serve global brands like BASF, Kellogg’s, Colgate, Arla, Dufil, Lekki Port among others as its current tenants.

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‘Plan ready for withdrawal of peacekeeping force from DR Congo’

The spokesman said that in September, DRC President Flix Tshisekedi reiterated his country’s desire to accelerate the withdrawal of MONUSCO, starting in December…reports Asian Lite News

Joint technical teams in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have worked out a plan to withdraw the UN peacekeeping mission in the country, a UN spokesman said on Wednesday.

Farhan Haq, the deputy spokesman for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said the plan for the mission, known as MONUSCO, to stand down would be jointly implemented in phases, with the support of the DRC’s international and national partners.

Haq said the head of the UN mission, Bintou Keita, and Christophe Lutundula, the Congolese vice prime minister and minister of foreign affairs, signed a note on the accelerated, gradual, orderly and responsible withdrawal of MONUSCO from the DRC, containing a plan and a timeline for the complete disengagement of the mission in the country.

The spokesman said that in September, DRC President Flix Tshisekedi reiterated his country’s desire to accelerate the withdrawal of MONUSCO, starting in December. Then, after an Oct. 16 Security Council presidential statement on the request, the teams developed the disengagement plan.

“After the mission’s departure, the UN system will continue to support the development efforts of the Congolese government and people, with the aim of sustaining peacebuilding and security gains in the country,” said Haq.

The Security Council, in a 2010 resolution, authorized MONUSCO to take over from an earlier UN peacekeeping operation known as MONUC to reflect a new phase reached in the country.

The new mission was authorized to use all necessary means to carry out its mandate. It was charged with, among other things, protecting civilians, humanitarian personnel and human rights and supporting the government’s stabilization and peace consolidation efforts.

However, deadly rebel raids plagued the country’s easternmost provinces. It was alleged that some rebel groups were backed by neighbors of the DRC.

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Pitch for India to lead Global South

At ‘Cape Town Conversation’, Geopolitical expert Velina Tchakarova says India can be the adequate leader of the Global South…reports Asian Lite News

India can be a “very adequate leader” of the Global South as the country has “already been a global power,” Geopolitical expert Velina Tchakarova said here on Sunday.

After addressing the second day of the ‘Cape Town Conversation’ on Sunday, she said, “I think that India can be a very adequate leader of the Global South. It could be an adequate leader because it has suffered a lot in the past, but it has already been a global power.”

“So in a sense, I think that a lot of countries representing the Global South, from Latin America to Africa and to the Asian continent, will accept leadership coming from India,” she added.

She further said, ” I think that India itself is right now dealing more or less with itself because India is on the rise. India is en route to becoming one of the key global players.”

She further explained that this means that India has to find its own position in the world. “It will be different, I argue, from the one during the Cold War when it was a leader of the non-alignment movement. So this time, I think that India doesn’t have the luxury of being just non-aligned…”

Tchakarova said that this kind of leadership will be the “most authentic that the Global South will accept because they need another narrative…”

She also stressed that India keeps its promises.

She said, “There is a balance, a kind of fairer presentation of the Global South, so we see India keeping its promises because India announced that it wants to be an advocate of the Global South, of seven billion people around the world…”

Meanwhile, she also highlighted the upcoming COP28 meeting in the UAE, stressing that it is a “very important thing for the region. We know for a fact that several of the countries in the region are very open to the idea of transitioning. And these are fossil fuel powerhouses. We talk about the UAE. We talk about Saudi Arabia…”

She further said that these are the countries that have been invited to BRICS, adding that BRICS will expand next year.

“It will turn into BRICS Plus. And it’s going to probably speculate that it’s going to turn into the next commodities powerhouse, including fossil fuels because we know for a fact that countries like China and India will still rely on fossil fuels next to increasing their share of renewables for the sake of their economic growth,” she said.


AU’s big step


Meanwhile, Director General at the Research and Information System (RIS) for Developing Countries Sachin Chaturvedi has said the African Union (AU) joining the G20 can change the larger international architecture for Global South.

“We are taking the idea of the #GlobalSouth forward–in terms of how we look at this engagement and the concept of the #AfricanUnion joining the #G20 table, and how the performance and larger international architecture for the Global South can change,” the Think20 India Core Group member said while addressing the Cape Town Conversation event.

He was speaking at the session “Time for Africa: AU in the G20”.

Chaturvedi said that roughly two-thirds of the world’s population and 75 per cent of global trade were covered by the G20. With the inclusion of the African Union, “we have 77 per cent of the population, 88 per cent of GDP and 78 per cent of global trade.”

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his opening remarks at the 18th G20 Leaders’ Summit, invited the African Union, represented by Chairperson Azali Assoumani, to take a seat at the table of G20 leaders as a permanent member.

“With everyone’s approval, I request the AU head to take his seat as a permanent G20 member,” Modi said in his address.

Following PM Modi’s announcement, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar accompanied the President of the Union of Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union (AU), Azali Assoumani as he took his seat among world leaders.

African Union is a continental union consisting of 55 member states located on the continent of Africa. The move to include the African Union in the G20 grouping was proposed by PM Modi earlier this June.

The RIS Director General, Chaturvedi said: “Africa is bearing a disproportionate burden of climate change. The African Union’s preparedness is also relevant here. How do we bring in coherence and experiences as compared to what we have seen in the past?”

Meanwhile, the African Union Commission’s former commissioner for human resources, science and technology, Sarah Agbor said that with the G20, “as we move from India to Brazil to South Africa, we have consecutive Global South presidencies. There are advantages to the African Union’s presence. The AU needs to take responsibility as Africans first and determine what it needs to do in the spirit of Ubuntu as it joins the G20. The G20 will give us opportunities to fulfil our own focus.” (ANI)

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