Africa needs to spend US$15.7 billion on refineries to curb emissions

ABIDJAN— African nations need to spend about US$15.7 billion on their refineries to curb emissions and meet climate-change targets as demand for oil and gas surges, according to an industry lobby group.

Governments on the continent should focus on reducing sulfur levels in petroleum products because Africa’s consumption of fossil fuels will rise quickly in the coming decades even as the supply of clean energy expands, said Anibor Kragha, executive secretary of the African Refiners and Distributors Association, or ARDA.

The pan-African body, based in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital of Abidjan, promotes the interests of the downstream oil industry.

A “leapfrog” switch by African nations from oil and gas directly to renewables isn’t realistic, Kragha said in an emailed response to questions. “Africa needs a unique energy transition roadmap.”

Governments in wealthier nations have set ambitious targets for a rapid shift to renewable energy to slash carbon-dioxide emissions, with many countries and companies making commitments to achieving so-called net-zero by 2050.

Africa has accounted for about 2% of cumulative global emissions, according to the International Energy Agency, a figure the Paris-based organization sees rising to only as much as 4.5% by 2040.

Africa’s overall energy consumption is set to increase at twice the pace of the global average as populations and economies grow, the IEA said in a 2019 report.

Demand for oil and gas in Africa is expected to double to at least 7 million barrels per day and 317 billion cubic meters respectively by 2040, even as the contribution of renewables is forecast to soar more than tenfold from its current low base, according to IEA estimates.

Source: Voice of America

President Ramaphosa to deliver the 2021 Women’s day keynote address

President Cyril Ramaphosa will tomorrow, Monday 09 August 2021, virtually deliver the 2021 National Women’s Day keynote address under the theme: “The year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke: Realising Women’s Rights”.
 
Government has declared 2021 as “The year of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke” and all national days  aligned with this theme that marks 150th anniversary of the birth of Charlotte Mannya Maxeke.
 
Women’s Day 2021
marks 65 years since the watershed 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings against draconian pass laws.
 
Women’s Day is also framed by the continuing global fight against COVID-19 and takes place during a time when the world continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic with millions of lives lost.
 
In this regard, the event will be celebrated virtually and televised to observe the national lockdown restrictions on gatherings.
 
Although the event will be virtual, Limpopo is the host province.
 
National Women’s Day is celebrated on 9 August every year as part of Women’s Month, which commemorates the heroic 1956 Women’s March to the Union Buildings against apartheid pass laws and their impact on women.
 
Women’s Month provides an opportunity for government and civil society to highlight the challenges confronting women and profile programmes and policies that advance women empowerment and gender equity.  It also provides an opportunity to pay tribute to the generations of women whose struggles laid the foundations for the progress made in the democratic era in empowering women and advancing gender equality.  
 
This Women’s Month, the emphasis will be on elevating the voices of ordinary women across sectors of society under the sub-theme “What Women Want”.
 
This focus draws attention to strategic interventions for the radical transformation of gender relations and the political, social and economic empowerment of women, including young women and those with disabilities.   
 
President Ramaphosa’s role in the Women’s Day commemoration will include the release of the one-year progress report on the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP).

Source: The Presidency Republic of South Africa

UN, Rights Groups Push Zimbabwe to Prosecute Man Who Married 14-Year-Old Girl

Women’s rights activists, opposition groups and the United Nations are pressuring Zimbabwean authorities to arrest a man who had married a 14-year-old who died last week while giving birth at a church shrine. Zimbabwean police say they are investigating the matter.

Hashtags #EndChildMarriagesNow and #justiceforMemory have been trending on social media after 14-year-old Memory Machaya died while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine about 400 kilometers east of Harare. The United Nations in Zimbabwe issued a statement saying child marriages continue to surface in Zimbabwe, where one out of three girls is married before the age of 18.  Sirak Gebrehiwot, the U.N. spokesman in Zimbabwe said that is not acceptable.   

“The United Nations in Zimbabwe notes with deep concern and condemns strongly the surrounding circumstances leading to the untimely death of 14-year-old Memory Machaya from Marange, who died while giving birth at an apostolic sect shrine,” he said. 

One of the key instruments to ending child marriages in Zimbabwe, the U.N. believes, is to fast-track the adoption of the Marriage Bill that recognizes child marriage as crime and, of course, rolling out national action plan on ending child marriages will go a long way.” 

Responding to the social media protests, Zimbabwean police issued a statement saying they are “conducting investigations” into Machaya’s death.  

Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda heads Rozaria Memorial Trust, which fights child marriage in rural areas. She was appointed goodwill ambassador on ending child marriage on the continent by the African Union Commission. 

“I am outraged by the rape, marriage and death of Memory Machaya,” she said. “I am also grateful to see a huge outpouring of Zimbabweans and people in the region who are calling for an end to child rape and to child marriage. I ask the government of Zimbabwe to step up the investigations and arrest the perpetrator. I also call on the government to investigate and document how we can end these sexual abuses that are happening within religious institutions. It is important for us to fight justice and ensure impunity.” 

Opposition leader Linda Tsungirirai Masarira is one of thousands of Zimbabweans who have signed a petition to push police not to ignore the death of Machaya.     

“I demand justice as a woman and as a mother to whatever happened to Memory. But for me, when I look at the issue, it is just a tip of the iceberg. I have set up an appointment with minister of home affairs [Kazembe Kazembe]. And I am going to talk to him about the underlying issues of the Marange apostolic sect. For me, religion does not mean violating country’s laws,” she said.

Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage Minister Kazembe Kazembe  could not be reached for comment Sunday.   

Source: Voice of America

Malawi Receives First Doses of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Malawi has received its first consignment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines – a donation made by the United States under COVAX, a campaign to provide equitable access to COVID-19 shots worldwide.

The arrival of 302,000 doses comes a few weeks after Malawi announced it will start inoculating its citizens with several COVID-19 vaccines in an effort to protect more of its population amid growing infections.

Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo Chiponda said the move aims to fill the gap created by the scarcity of the Britain-made AstraZeneca vaccines the country has been using.

Speaking to reporters in Lilongwe, Chiponda sought to offer reassurances that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is safe.

“And most of the countries in Europe, in America and indeed in Africa, have used Johnson & Johnson vaccine. And it is proven that it is indeed providing much needed immunity [against COVID-19],” said Chiponda.

Besides vaccines manufactured in the West, Malawi has also used vaccines produced in China and Russia.

This brings the number of vaccine doses the Malawi has received so far through COVAX to more than 850,000.

Jeremy Neitzke is chargé d’affaires at the U.S. embassy in Malawi.

He said the recent donation is part of the U.S. government’s global vaccine-sharing strategy, which aims to provide at least 80 million doses to countries most affected by the pandemic, including at least 25 million to African countries.

“The first tranche of U.S. government commitment to Africa is 15 million doses, of which these 300,000 are arriving today. We are working with our partners here in Malawi, the Ministry of Health, and across the continent with the African Union and the African CDC to deliver vaccines,” he said. 

Health Minister Chiponda said the vaccine has given Malawi hope of reaching its target of vaccinating 60 percent of its people by December 2022.

As of now the country has only vaccinated 0.2 percent of the targeted 11 million people.

Malawi has recently faced continuous vaccine shortages largely because of huge demand as infections rise. COVID-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The Ministry of Health has said that since Saturday, Malawi has confirmed 481 cases with 29 deaths. The U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University, which is tracking the global pandemic, says Malawi currently has about 55,700 cases and 1,805 deaths.

Chiponda said Malawians should not panic as more vaccines are coming.

“Of course, we will be receiving AstraZeneca in two weeks – about 200,000 doses. And also we have in the pipeline Pfizer [372,000 doses] as well.  So between now and September, we are very sure we are going to get about a million doses of different vaccines,” said Chiponda.

Separately, Chiponda said Malawi is planning to purchase 1.8 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine.

The government is advising people who received one jab of the AstraZeneca vaccine not to combine it with the Johnson & Johnson shot, which is a single-dose vaccine.

Source: Voice of America

Mozambique, Rwanda Armies Retake Key Jihadist-held Town

Mozambican forces backed by Rwandan troops on Sunday said they had driven out jihadists occupying the key port town of Mocimboa da Praia in the gas-rich north of the country.

Mozambique’s defense ministry confirmed an earlier tweet by Rwanda’s army that the joint force had wrested control of the town on Sunday morning.

They now control government buildings, the port, airport, hospital, and other key installations, Colonel Omar Saranga, a ministry spokesman, told a press conference in the Mozambican capital, Maputo. 

The port town, from where the first Islamist attacks were staged in October 2017, has since last year become the de facto headquarters of the Islamic State-linked extremists, locally referred to as al-Shabab.

Mocimboa da Praia “was the last stronghold of the insurgents” and its recapture marks “the end of the first phase of counter-insurgency operations,” Colonel Ronald Rwivanga, a spokesman for the joint military force, said in a text message.

Mozambican forces have been struggling to regain control over the northern Cabo Delgado province, site of one of Africa’s biggest liquefied natural gas project, a $20 billion site operated by French energy major Total.

Rwanda sent 1,000 troops last month to shore up the Mozambican military. 

Last week they claimed their first success since deploying, saying they had helped the Mozambican army regain control of Awasse, a small but also strategic settlement near Mocimboa da Praia.

At least 800,000 people have been uprooted from their homes by the violence ravaging the region, with more than 3,100 killed, half of them civilians, according to conflict tracking organization ACLED  

“We will continue with security operations to completely pacify those areas and allow Mozambican and Rwandan forces to conduct stabilization operations” to enable people to return home and businesses to open, Rwivanga said.

After initially resisting outside help, Rwandan troops deployed on July 9 following an April visit to Kigali by Mozambican leader Filipe Nyusi.

They were followed weeks later by forces from neighboring countries, which are deploying under the aegis of the 16-member regional bloc, the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Botswana, whose President Mokgweetsi Masisi, has been outspoken on the urgent need for regional stability, became the first SADC country to send in troops on July 26.

Regional powerhouse and immediate neighbor South Africa announced on July 28 it would deploy 1,495 soldiers.

A day later, Zimbabwe unveiled plans to dispatch 304 non-combat soldiers to train Mozambique’s infantry battalions.

Angola then deployed 20 specialized military air force personnel while Namibia will contribute N$5.8 million (about $400,000) toward the anti-insurgency offensive.

Masisi and Nyusi will on Monday formally launch the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) in Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado province.

The European Union on July 12 formally established a military mission for Mozambique to help train its armed forces battling the jihadists.

Former colonial ruler Portugal is providing training for Mozambican troops, with Lisbon’s military instructors expected to make up half of the new EU mission.

Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, which borders Tanzania, has been troubled by the jihadist insurgency since 2017.

Last year the militants had grown bolder, escalating attacks as part of a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.

In March this year, they attacked n the coastal town of Palma, killing dozens of people and triggering an exodus that included employees from the Total project, forcing the company to halt work.

Source: Voice of America