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Joint Statement on the EU Digital COVID Certificate and AU-EU Partnership on COVID-19 vaccines distribution and production

Addis Ababa 27 July 2021

This statement is issued in follow-up to the meeting held between Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Ambassador Birgitte Markussen, Head of European Union Delegation to the African Union, which took place on 22 July related to the launching of the EU Digital COVID Certificate and the broader AU-EU partnership fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Both sides agreed to provide the following clarifications notably in the context of ongoing efforts by the AU and EU on vaccines distribution and production on the African continent:

  • With respect to the Covishield vaccine, distributed through the COVAX mechanism, the vaccine meets all the requirements of the World Health Organisation and was one of the first available candidates considered safe and efficacious through the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing (EUL) process.
  • Currently, the EU Digital COVID Certificate is issued to all those who have been fully vaccinated against the Coronavirus, with one of the four vaccines approved by the European Medicine Agency, which are: BioNTech/Pfizer, Moderna, Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca, Oxford), Janssen (Johnson & Johnson).
  • The EU Digital COVID Certificate does not at present include Covishield, as the Serum Institute of India (the manufacturer of the Covishield vaccine) has not applied yet for authorisation of this vaccine by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). We strongly encourage them to do so.
  • Beyond EU-authorised vaccines, complementing the EU Digital COVID Certificate, EU Member States have a national competence to include other vaccines having completed the WHO Emergency Use Listing process. Accordingly, 19 EU Member States have already given authorization for Covishield. Some EU Member States might in addition apply rules related to essential travels; those rules are updated on a regular basis against the status of the pandemic.
  • The Africa CDC Director and the EU Ambassador to the African Union reiterated the AU and EU’s commitment to continue working closely in the spirit of global solidarity in the fight against COVID-19. Ensuring access to safe and affordable COVID-19 vaccines remains the key priority for the AU-EU partnership. In addition to the substantial financial contribution to the COVAX facility (around EUR 3.2 billion to date), the EU and its member states (Team Europe) have committed to share 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to partner countries by the end of 2021. This is complemented by the in-kind support provided through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and the EUR 100 million support package committed to strengthen vaccine rollout efforts in Africa.
  • Recognizing the key leadership role of the Africa CDC in catalysing and coordinating the comprehensive continental response to the COVID-19, the Team Europe will continue to provide support to the implementation of the Adapted Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Pandemic endorsed by the African Ministers of Health on 8 May 2021 as well as the Partnership for African Vaccine Manufacturing launched in April 2021.

Addis Ababa 27 July 2021

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Sudan: Withdrawal of Hybrid Peacekeeping Operation in Darfur Completed by 30 June Deadline, Under-Secretary-General Tells Security Council, Outlining Plans to Liquidate Assets

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The African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID) completed the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian personnel by its deadline of 30 June 2021, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support Atul Khare told the Security Council today, achieving a milestone set by the 15-member organ for the Mission’s exit and empowering Sudan’s Government to take charge of maintaining peace in the region.

He said staff not involved in the Operation’s liquidation — except for those that constitute a uniformed Guard Unit — have also withdrawn. The task involved the repatriation of almost 6,000 troops and police, separation of nearly 1,200 staff and consultations with stakeholders to ensure that uniformed members who expressed a desire to not return for reasons related to international protection needs were processed by the refugee authorities of Sudan.

He said the drawdown also involved the parallel closure and handover of the former Operation headquarters and 13 team sites to local authorities for civilian use in Central, South and North Darfur States. All remaining personnel and assets are now consolidated within the El Fasher logistics facility, other than small components based in Khartoum and Port Sudan to support the interaction with authorities during UNAMID’s liquidation.

He outlined plans to support the team that remains through disposal of remaining assets across two liquidation phases: The first — from 1 July to 30 September 2021 — will involve the withdrawal of retained United Nations assets, sales to United Nations entities and non-government organizations at market value, and the destruction of equipment subject to end-user restrictions. The second phase — from 1 October 2021 and beyond — will involve donation and distribution of fixed and moveable assets to Government institutions and non-government organizations in Sudan.

In the ensuing discussion, delegates hailed UNAMID — formally established by resolution 1769 (2007) — as an example of the United Nations storied peacekeeping history and its cooperation with regional organizations. The representative of Tunisia, speaking also for Kenya, Niger and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, called it an “exemplary model” whose lessons should be shared as an important tool, including during future Missions’ exit strategies. He strongly recommended that Sudan work closely with neighbouring countries as well as with regional bodies to address its challenges.

The Russian Federation’s representative agreed that Sudan is facing numerous challenges, with ripple effects in neighbouring Libya. It is important to maintain fair-handed contacts with Sudanese authorities and to assist them in implementing the 2019 Constitutional Declaration to bring about internal stabilization.

China’s representative called UNAMID “a success story” in achieving agile and diverse ways to support countries in maintaining peace and security. He looked forward to the Secretary-General’s assessment report, expressing hope the United Nations will complete the Operation’s liquidation methodically and avoid both asset loss and improper disposal.

On that point India’s representative — who described UNAMID’s drawdown as the end of one of the United Nations most successful peacekeeping operations, in which more than 100,000 military and police personnel were contributed by dozens of countries, including his own — called the handover of team sites and donation of UNAMID medical facilities “commendable initiatives, marking a valuable transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, which is Sudan-led and Sudan-owned”.

Several delegates pointed to the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and its integrated country team, which the United Kingdom’s delegate stressed will continue to play a key role in supporting the Government’s efforts to promote peace and stability in Darfur. As intercommunal violence continues, France’s delegate called on Sudan to accelerate implementation of the Juba agreements, with the support of UNITAMS, and deploy as soon as possible the joint force provided for by these agreements.

Offering the national perspective, Sudan’s delegate said federal and local authorities have cooperated fully with UNAMID to ensure an orderly and safe withdrawal of troops, personnel, and equipment. Going forward, Khartoum will engage with the Secretariat during the liquidation period and guard the El Fashir base to ensure that Mission-owned assets and contingent-owned equipment can be safely repatriated, in line with the framework agreement signed in March.

“We are aware of some residual challenges in Sudan, generally, and Darfur, in particular,” he said, adding that the Government will work closely with UNITAMS and other bilateral, regional and international partners to effectively address the issues and to implement its Council mandated strategic objectives.

Also speaking were representatives of Norway, Estonia, Mexico, Ireland, Viet Nam and the United States.

The meeting began at 10 a.m. and ended at 11:12 a.m.

Briefing

Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, said the Secretariat achieved the milestone set by the Security Council to withdraw all uniformed personnel formerly deployed to the African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur (UNAMID), and staff not involved in its liquidation, except for those that have constituted a uniformed Guard Unit, by the deadline of 30 June 2021. This task involved the repatriation of almost 6,000 troops and police, the separation of almost 1,200 staff and consultations to ensure that uniformed members who expressed a desire to not return for reasons related to international protection needs were processed by the refugee authorities of the Government of Sudan.

He said the drawdown also involved the parallel closure and handover of the former Operation headquarters and 13 team sites to local authorities for civilian use in Central, South and North Darfur States, as UNAMID equipment was recovered, environmental remediation was completed, and former Mission personnel were withdrawn. All remaining personnel and assets are now consolidated within the El Fasher logistics facility, other than small components based in Khartoum and Port Sudan to support the interaction with authorities during UNAMID’s liquidation.

Describing his second visit to Sudan since the conclusion of the mandate on 30 December 2020, he said that between 6 and 15 July, he met with Chairperson of the Sovereign Council, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, Deputy Chairperson Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo (otherwise known as General Hemeti), and Minister for Interior Ezzeldin Sheikh, as well as with the newly appointed Governor of Darfur, Mini Minawi, and the new Wali (Governor) of North Darfur State, Nimir Abdel Rahman. He then travelled to Addis Ababa, meeting with Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission Monique Nsanzabaganwa and the Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, Bankole Adeoye, on 19 July.

He went on to report that contingent-owned equipment belonging to Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, China, Jordan, Kenya, Senegal, United Republic of Tanzania and Togo has now either been returned to its home country or deployed to another peacekeeping operation. The equipment of Djibouti, Ethiopia and the Gambia is at Port Sudan awaiting vessels for transport, while that belonging to Egypt, Pakistan and Rwanda, as well as a Chinese engineering unit, is en route from Darfur to Port Sudan. A Guard Unit authorized by the Security Council remains in El Fasher to provide internal security to remaining United Nations personnel.

Noting that the General Assembly has approved $79 million to support the liquidation of UNAMID no later than 30 June 2022, he said the process will involve a sustained effort across numerous complex tasks. Among the more urgent is the destruction of ammunition, much of which was found to have reached its expiration date. The facilities and equipment handed over to local authorities, outside of El Fasher, had a residual value exceeding $41 million. Yet, reports suggest varying degrees of destruction and theft at 10 of the 14 sites handed over to local authorities. While the associated assets no longer belonged to the United Nations, these are major losses for the communities involved, he said.

In addition, he said a wide variety of moveable equipment and inventories have been consolidated at the El Fasher base, including hundreds of vehicles, generators, furniture, information and communications technology (ICT) equipment and maintenance supplies. “It is critical that the Government of Sudan makes every effort to ensure that this enormous reserve of facilities and equipment is sustainably applied to national imperatives for civilian use,” he stressed.

He outlined plans to support the team that remains in UNAMID through disposal of remaining assets across two liquidation phases: The first — from 1 July to 30 September 2021 — will involve the withdrawal of retained United Nations assets, sales to United Nations entities and non-government organizations at market value, destruction of equipment subject to end-user restrictions and commercial sales of equipment that is beyond economical repair. The second phase — from 1 October 2021 and beyond — will involve donation and distribution of fixed and moveable assets to Government institutions and non-government organizations in Sudan, based on the Assembly’s consideration of a holistic, Sudanese-owned donation plan.

While UNAMID equipment valued at $8.1 million has been transferred to other operations, the bulk of assets will remain in Sudan for donation to the authorities for civilian use, he said, pointing to 170 tons of sodium hypochlorite salt, which can be used to purify 6.8 billion litres of water: enough to meet the drinking and cooking needs of more than 1 million people for a year. He implored Government interlocutors to emphasize the immediate development of a single, holistic donation plan, with input and agreement from Government interlocutors at the national and local levels. This plan could form the basis for the Secretary-General’s proposal to the General Assembly to guide donations in support of national priorities.

Turning to the issue of armed movements with stationed forces around the El Fasher compound, he said units from at least five groups, as well as the Sudanese Armed Forces, have been identified by colleagues based in El Fasher. After initial confusion led to the disruption of UNAMID movements — and in some cases, harassment of United Nations personnel — he said movements have proceeded as needed in recent weeks. He will continue to monitor the liquidation closely, he said, based on his discussions with the President, Vice-President and the new Governor and Wali of Darfur and North Darfur respectively.

Statements

Ms. FARREY (United Kingdom), recalling that the Council deployed the first and only African Union hybrid mission to Darfur nearly 14 years ago to the day, said the Mission has contributed to a more peaceful and stable situation on the ground. Expressing her hope that the lessons learned throughout its deployment will be used to improve future peace operations, she said cooperation at the federal and state levels in Sudan — including on the free movement of United Nations personnel and assets — will continue to be crucial. Stakeholders must consolidate and build upon the strides made, and abide strictly by the terms of the Juba Peace Agreement. Meanwhile, she said, the United Nations Integrated Transition Assistance Mission in Sudan (UNITAMS) and its integrated country team will continue to play a key role in supporting the Government’s efforts to promote peace and stability in Darfur.

MONA JUUL (Norway) joined other speakers in welcoming the positive political developments in Sudan over recent months, noting that — while many challenges remain — “the transition in Sudan is irreversible” and presents the opportunity to create conditions for sustainable economic growth. Thanking the Transitional Government and the Darfur state capitals for their role in ensuring a responsible drawdown of UNAMID, she said the fragile security situation in Darfur and confusion regarding the end-use of team sites and assets creates challenging conditions for peacekeepers. Civilian protection must remain at the core of all efforts, even during UNAMID’s drawdown and thereafter. “Lack of protection fuels conflict, displacement, and mistrust,” she stressed, calling for particular attention to children, women and combating conflict-related sexual violence. Voicing her hope that the recent advances in UNAMID’s transition will prevent any unnecessary delays during the coming rainy season, she urged the Government of Sudan to protect the assets handed over from UNAMID, as they will be of direct benefit to the civilian population in Darfur.

TAREK LADEB (Tunisia), also speaking on behalf of Kenya, Niger and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, agreed with other speakers that UNAMID’s deployment marked an important step in the United Nations cooperation with regional organizations, as well as in its peacekeeping history more broadly. Assessments of that exemplary model, as well as lessons learned during its deployment, should serve as an important tool going forward, including by paving the way for future Missions’ exit strategies. Commending the efforts made by the Transitional Government and the Darfur state capital towards UNAMID’s orderly withdrawal, he welcomed the agreement reached on the handover of 14 Mission sites and the Transitional Government’s commitment that they will be used to provide social and community services. As part of its liquidation, UNAMID must carry out and complete environmental clean-up and restoration and dispose of hazardous materials in accordance with established standards. Urging the Transitional Government to accelerate the implementation of its national plan for the protection of civilians, he said intercommunal clashes in Darfur remain a major source of instability, and strongly recommended that Sudan work closely with neighbouring countries as well as regional bodies to address its challenges.

ANDRE LIPAND (Estonia) commended those who have helped UNAMID drawdown “at a historic speed”, which is no easy endeavor. “Now it is important to ensure that the liquidation process goes according to plan,” he said, calling upon the Government of Sudan and other relevant stakeholders, including the Juba Peace Agreement signatories and other armed opposition movements, to cooperate fully with the United Nations and the African Union. The pursuit of peace, justice and civilian protection in Darfur will remain relevant even after the closure of UNAMID, he said, stressing that the implementation of the Juba Peace Agreement cannot be overemphasized. The Government of Sudan should take extra measures to ensure that civilians are protected in Darfur — especially the populations who are more vulnerable — and it should cooperate closely with UNITAMS to build the necessary capacities for civilian protection.

NAGARAJ NAIDU (India) described UNAMID’s drawdown as the end of one of the United Nations most successful peacekeeping operations. During the Operation’s 13-year mandate, more than 100,000 military and police peacekeepers were contributed by dozens of countries from around the world, including India. Thanking all those who served, he noted that the drawdown exercise has been completed within the tight timeline and benchmarks set by the Council and welcomed progress made since February, when members were last briefed on the matter. That included the handover of team sites and the donation of UNAMID medical facilities for use by local communities. “These are all commendable initiatives, marking a valuable transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding, which is Sudan-led and Sudan-owned,” he said. In addition, the Government of Sudan has established unity of command and purpose by appointing a unified Joint Task Force and the State Handover Committee, as UNAMID’s key interlocutors during the drawdown. Going forward, he said, it will be important for the Government to ensure the protection of the Logistics Base and the repatriation of the remaining staff. Outstanding key tasks, such as the handover of the El Fasher camp to Darfur authorities, must be expedited.

DAI BING (China) called UNAMID “a success story” in achieving agile and diverse ways to support countries in maintaining peace and security. He said China looks forward to the Secretary-General’s assessment report, expressing hope the United Nations will complete the Operation’s liquidation methodically and avoid both asset loss and improper disposal. Noting that the Sovereign Council and Transitional Government of Sudan are implementing the Juba Agreement and have taken several steps to maintain stability, he said intercommunal violence in Darfur must be addressed through reconciliation and mediation, with support from the United Nations country team to help those displaced by violence. Following the withdrawal, the United Nations Transition Assistance Mission (UNITAMS) can help the Government bolster its ability to protect civilians. For its part, the Council should consider the impact of the arms embargo on this effort. As the security situation in Darfur remains precarious, he called for scaled-up international peacebuilding support, recalling that China was among the first countries to contribute peacekeepers to the Mission.

ENRIQUE JAVIER OCHOA MARTÍNEZ (Mexico), noting the transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding in Darfur, underscored the need for a smooth closure of the Operation and transition. Recalling that personnel belonging to the Guard Unit remains in order to protect staff, property and assets during the liquidation phase, he welcomed that most of the assets will remain in Sudan to benefit the people. Armed groups should refrain from interfering with UNAMID convoys, he said, urging Sudan to continue to guarantee respect for all provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement, notably for the coordination of armed groups around El Fasher. Equally important will be ensuring respect for the agreement protecting UNAMID assets, he said, expressing Mexico’s support for UNITAMS in its new phase and hope that the Council will support the democratic transition process in Sudan.

ANNA M. EVSTIGNEEVA (Russian Federation) said Sudan is facing numerous challenges, with impact in neighbouring Libya, leading to greater numbers of refugees and fostering the spread of COVID-19. It is important to maintain fair-handed contacts with Sudanese authorities and to assist them in implementing the 2019 Constitutional Declaration to bring about internal stabilization. He welcomed the signing of the peace agreement between the Transitional Government and the Sudan Revolutionary Front, which will help resolve urgent socioeconomic problems, expressing hope it will be signed by Sudanese armed groups currently not party to it. While there have been intercommunal clashes in several states, these events did not change the overall picture, he said, thanks in part to the swift response by authorities and implementation of the national plan for civilian protection. Stressing that the time has come to prioritize the region’s economic development, he said the Russian Federation facilitated the adoption in June of resolution 2524 (2020) on the establishment of UNITAMS and supported that Mission’s renewal by one year, in line with 2579 (2021). He said the Russian Federation trusts that the work of this United Nations presence will bolster Khartoum’s capacity in the areas of peacekeeping, stabilization of the situation in Darfur, and in fostering law and order.

BRIAN PATRICK FLYNN (Ireland) said moving from UNAMID to UNITAMS has been one the most complex and challenging transitions that the United Nations has undertaken. “It has highlighted the need to plan and execute the drawdown, reconfiguration and exit of United Nations peacekeeping missions in a way that helps maintain progress towards sustainable peace,” he said, emphasizing that transitions should take place in a responsible, coordinated and graduated manner responsive to the needs on the ground. They must also engage with host Governments to reinforce national ownership, he said, welcoming the engagement described today by the Under-Secretary-General. With UNAMID on track to complete its closure by 30 June 2022, all stakeholders must comply with the provisions of the Status of Forces Agreement. Expressing regret that the drawdown has not been without incident, he said Sudan must live up to its responsibilities by working to ensure withdrawal of all armed elements positioned around the El Fasher site, and by taking steps to avoid further looting. “UNAMID assets must not be used to fuel insecurity,” he stressed, also calling for the full and immediate implementation of the National Protection of Civilians Plan and the security pillar of the Juba Peace Agreement.

TRA PHUONG NGUYEN (Viet Nam) said UNAMID has become an example of successful cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union, emphasizing that the drawdown has taken place in a timely, orderly and safe manner, thanks to the close cooperation between the Operation and the Government. It is crucial to ensure the safety of remaining personnel, in line with resolution 2559 (2020) and the Status of Forces Agreement, and to fully respect the framework agreement ensuring the integrity of handover of UNAMID team sites and assets. She welcomed the political security developments in Sudan, as the country has achieved tremendous progress in transitioning from peacekeeping to peacebuilding. Amid challenges related to natural disasters and intercommunal violence, it is imperative that Sudanese parties resolve differences to implement the remaining provisions of the peace agreement. Sudan must continue to strengthen its responsibility for the protection of civilians, notably by implementing its national plan on the issue, she said, noting that support for UNITAMS and neighbouring countries will remain essential. She also expressed hope that the Secretariat and UNAMID will pass on lessons to UNITAMS so it can support the transition in Sudan.

RICHARD M. MILLS, JR. (United States) said that while UNAMID has played a critical role in stabilizing the region, the root causes of violence in Darfur remain, including human rights violations, which have led to large-scale displacements. He urged authorities to fully implement the national plan to protect civilians, pressing Sudanese leaders to allow a full vetting of Darfur’s new security force. Underscoring that the primary responsibility to protect civilians is with the Government, he expressed concern over potential security risks to United Nations personnel and assets at El Fasher and encouraged the United Nations to use its good offices to ensure its staff can continue the liquidation process. Sudanese authorities must protect team sites, as they can be used as health clinics and training centres. The shared goal is to maintain security around those sites. The United States is committed to working closely with the Transitional Government, the Council, UNITAMS and all stakeholders in support of democratic rule in Sudan, he added.

NATHALIE BROADHURST ESTIVAL (France) commended UNAMID and the Department of Operational Support for their work towards a timely withdrawal, which represents a major logistical challenge. Also welcoming the cooperation of the Sudanese authorities — which must continue to be pursued throughout UNAMID’s liquidation period — he said the freedom of movement and security of United Nations personnel, as well as the protection of companies and equipment, must also be ensured. However, recent security incidents, including the pillaging of several sites handed over by UNAMID to the Sudanese authorities, have demonstrated that more work and cooperation are needed. Sudan should therefore accelerate the implementation of the Juba agreements, with the support of UNITAMS, and to deploy as soon as possible the joint force provided for by these agreements. He also called on all other armed groups to join the peace process.

AMMAR MOHAMMED MAHMOUD (Sudan) said that the federal and local authorities in his country have cooperated fully with UNAMID to ensure an orderly and safe withdrawal of troops, personnel and equipment. Going forward, Sudan will engage with the Secretariat during the liquidation period and guard the El Fashir base to ensure that Operation-owned assets and contingent-owned equipment can be safely repatriated in line with the framework agreement signed in March by the Government and the Secretariat, and former UNAMID sites in Darfur which have been transferred to local authorities will be used for civilian health care, education and other social services. He emphasized that the Secretariat must finish environmental clean-up and restoration work, as well as the disposal of expired ammunition and other hazardous materials, as soon as possible and before the end of the Mission’s liquidation.

Sudan’s transitional Government is committed to protecting people in Darfur after UNAMID’s exit, according to the National Plan for Civilian Protection, he continued. With the Juba Peace Agreement in place, the protective environment in Darfur has been greatly strengthened, with a special emphasis on displaced persons, children, women and other vulnerable groups. The joint force mandated by the Agreement, which comprises the Sudanese Armed Forces and former combatants of armed groups, is being deployed to better protect civilians. He stressed that Sudan, in carrying out its responsibility to protect, will adhere to and abide by international humanitarian and human rights law.

“We are aware of some residual challenges in Sudan, generally, and Darfur, in particular,” he said, adding that the Government of Sudan will work closely with UNITAMS and other bilateral, regional and international partners to effectively address those challenges. He concluded by calling on the Council to support UNITAMS’ work as it carries out its mandate. From its part, Sudan shall support UNITAMS in order to implement its Council-mandated strategic objectives, he added.

For information media. Not an official record.

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UN-African Union Mission in Darfur in final shutdown phase

Atul Khare, Under-Secretary-General for Operational Support, updated ambassadors on progress towards the mission’s closure and final liquidation, following the end of its mandate last December after 13 years protecting civilians uprooted by conflict. 

Nearly 6,000 troops and police were repatriated from the Sudanese province ahead of the drawdown deadline of 30 June, and nearly 1,200 civilian staff were separated from the mission.   

Expedited timelines achieved 

The UN General Assembly recently approved nearly $80 million to support final closure no later than 30 June 2022.   

Mr. Khare was in Sudan earlier this month, where he met with senior officials as part of efforts to ensure progress remains on track. 

“All leaders shared their satisfaction at the successful achievement of the expedited timelines and discussed ways to resolve outstanding issues related to the liquidation and wider transition implications,” he reported. 

Only a 360-strong Guard Unit remains at UNAMID to protect staff working on the exit, and the remaining UN assets, though primary responsibility for security rests with the Sudanese Government.

Remaining UN assets in Darfur are being disposed of in two phases, the first of which is already underway.   

‘Enormous’ inventory list 

The mission has so far handed over some $41 million in facilities and equipment to local authorities, but 10 of the 14 sites reportedly have suffered “varying degrees of destruction and theft”, which Mr. Khare called a major loss for local communities. 

“I note that although authorities have made commitments to investigate these incidents, various Sudanese interlocutors have nevertheless suggested that these events resulted from underlying tensions among groups locally, along with concerns, whether real or perceived, surrounding equitable access to the facilities and equipment that was handed over,” he said. 

Mr. Khare pointed to the potential of properties such as the UNAMID logistics base in El Fasher.  Its numerous assets include more than 1,000 self-contained housing units, a hospital facility, a power generation and distribution network, a fuel storage depot, and water storage and purification equipment.   

Hundreds of vehicles and other moveable property are also being stored there. 

Pure water for a million 

UNAMID also currently holds enough sodium hypochlorite salt to purify roughly seven billion litres of water, sufficient to meet the drinking and cooking needs for one million people for a year. 

“It is critical that the Government of Sudan makes every effort to ensure that this enormous reserve of facilities and equipment is sustainably applied to national imperatives for civilian use,” he said. 

 Although some $8 million in equipment has been transferred to other UN field operations, or to a peacekeeping reserve in Italy, Mr. Khare stressed that the bulk will be donated to the Sudanese authorities for civilian use. 

“To this end, during my recent visit to Sudan, I implored all government interlocutors to emphasize the immediate development of a single, holistic donation plan, with input and agreement from Government interlocutors at the national and local levels,” he said. 

Handover challenges

The UN intends to gradually handover the El Fasher site to the authorities, starting in November, a process that would lead to the phased reduction of the Guard Unit.  

“For all this to occur in an orderly and speedy fashion, I must raise the issue of the armed movements that have stationed forces around the El Fasher compound since the beginning of June,” Mr. Khare told the Council. 

“After an initial period of confusion among these groups which led to the disruption of UNAMID movements, and, in some cases, harassment of United Nations personnel and vendors, movements have for the most part proceeded as needed in the recent weeks.” 

However, he said coordination and leadership among these groups is critical if the liquidation process is to proceed smoothly “for the long-term sustainable benefit of Sudan and its people.”

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India will continue to extend assistance to Sudan

New York [US], July 28 (ANI): India will continue to extend all possible assistance to the Sudan government and its people as they move ahead to consolidate the gains made in the last three years, said the country’s Ambassador to United Nations.

The Permanent Representative of India to the UN, TS Tirumurti on Tuesday (local time) made these remarks at the United Nations Security Council briefing on UN-African Union Mission in Darfur, (UNAMID) drawdown.

“We will continue to extend all possible assistance to Sudan and its people as they move ahead to consolidate the gains made in the last three years,” India’s Ambassador said.

New Delhi’s engagement with the African continent has been multifaceted, with projects implemented under Indian lines of credit, capacity-building initiatives, and cooperation in a range of sectors.

As an importer of fruits, nuts, grains and pulses from the continent, Indian congruence with African countries in the agriculture sector is expanding.

“A historical solidarity is today a modern partnership,” External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar had said in a tweet during his recent trip to Kenya.

India and Kenya are currently serving in the United Nation Security Council. They are also members of the Commonwealth. Kenya is an active member of the African Union, with which India has longstanding ties. (ANI)

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China ready to play positive role in building peace in Sudan: envoy

© Provided by Xinhua

“China stands ready to work with the rest of the international community in a continuous effort to play a positive role in building peace in Sudan,” said a Chinese UN envoy.

UNITED NATIONS, July 27 (Xinhua) — A Chinese envoy said on Tuesday that China stands ready to play a positive role in building peace in Sudan.

“China stands ready to work with the rest of the international community in a continuous effort to play a positive role in building peace in Sudan,” Dai Bing, charge d’affaires of China’s permanent mission to the United Nations, told the Security Council meeting on the drawdown and closure of the United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID), as requested in Resolution 2559.

Since 2007, China has been engaged in UNAMID as one of the first countries to contribute peacekeepers to the mission, said Dai. “In the past 13 years, around 5,000 Chinese peacekeepers have actively performed their duties. Two peacekeepers paid the ultimate price for peace and stability in Darfur.”

Noting that since its inception, UNAMID has played an important role in maintaining security and stability in Darfur, Sudan, the ambassador said that as the first innovative UN-AU joint peacekeeping operation, UNAMID is a success story of UN’s exploration for agile and diverse ways of supporting regional organizations in maintaining peace and security.

“China hopes that the UN will take stock and looks forward to the secretary-general’s assessment report to be submitted at the end of October this year. It is hoped that UNAMID will complete its liquidation process, including asset liquidation, methodically in accordance with the financial regulations and rules of the UN, and avoid asset loss and improper disposal,” Dai added.

© Provided by Xinhua

Dai stressed that Sudanese government bears the main responsibility of protecting civilians in Darfur.

“To achieve security and stability in Darfur, it is imperative to address both the symptoms and root causes of violent conflicts by growing the economy and improving people’s livelihood,” he said.

Noting that due to the impact of COVID-19 and natural disasters, the security situation in Darfur remains precarious, the international community should scale up its support and investment in the peacebuilding efforts in Darfur, help improve Sudan’s country-owned development capabilities, properly handle major inducing factors of violent conflict such as land distribution, and effectively improve local livelihoods.

UNAMID, which was established by the Security Council in Resolution 1769 on July 31, 2007, is one of the largest peacekeeping operations in the UN’s history, and at its peak deployment in 2011, it had nearly 23,000 troops and police personnel. On Dec. 22, 2020, the Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2559 on the exit of UNAMID. The resolution decided to terminate UNAMID’s mandate by Dec. 31, 2020 and requested the secretary-general to complete the withdrawal of all uniformed and civilian UNAMID personnel by June 30, except for those required for the mission’s liquidation. It also requested the secretary-general to provide the Security Council with an assessment of lessons learned from UNAMID’s experience no later than Oct. 31.

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Tunisia’s biggest party ready for elections, warns against ‘autocratic regime’

Opponents of Tunisia’s President Kais Saied, who sparked a crisis by suspending parliament and sacking the premier, said Tuesday they were ready for early elections while warning against an “autocratic regime”.

The moderate Islamist Ennahdha party, which was the strongest group in the coalition government, has labelled Sunday’s power grab a “coup d’etat” while the US, EU and other powers have also voiced strong concern.

Ennahdha on Tuesday said that, “for the sake of the democratic path,” it is “ready to go to early legislative and presidential elections” while warning “that any delay is not used as a pretext to maintain an autocratic regime.”

The party also accused Saied of having “worked with undemocratic forces to overturn the constitutional rights of elected officials, and replace them with members of his own chosen cabal”.

Noureddine B’Hiri, a senior Ennahdha leader, said the party had “decided to campaign peacefully to defeat” the president’s plans, saying “national solidarity” was needed.

But before any elections, “parliament should resume its activities and the military end its control,” B’Hiri told AFP.

The Moroccan and Algerian foreign ministers, Nasser Bourita and Ramtane Lamamra, met Saied in Tunis on Tuesday, according to the Tunisian foreign ministry, which made no reference to the political crisis.

– ‘Organised thugs’ –

After violent clashes Monday, Ennahdha said “organised thugs” were being used to “provoke bloodshed and chaos”, and urged its supporters “to go home in the interests of maintaining the peace and security of our nation”.

The young North African democracy of 12 million people, the cradle of the Arab Spring uprisings a decade ago, was thrust into a constitutional crisis on Sunday.

Saied appeared on national television to declare he had dismissed the premier, Hichem Mechichi, and ordered parliament closed for 30 days, later sending army troops to the legislature and the prime minister’s office.

The president’s actions, ostensibly “to save Tunisia”, followed a day of street protests against the government’s poor handling of the Covid pandemic, which has claimed one of the world’s highest official per-capita death tolls in Tunisia.

The president also said he would pick a new prime minister, lifted the parliamentary immunity of lawmakers, and warned armed opposition would be met with a “rain of bullets”. He later fired the defence and justice ministers.

Street clashes between his backers and opponents broke out Monday outside the barricaded parliament, leaving several people wounded.

Police also shuttered the TV station of Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera.

The office of the Tunisian parliament, chaired by Ennahdha leader Rached Ghannouchi, late Monday voiced its “absolute rejection and strong condemnation” of the president’s actions.

– ‘Principles of democracy’ –

Many Tunisians have expressed support for the president, and thousands flooded the streets to celebrate on Sunday night, while others voiced fear of a return to dictatorship.

The French language newspaper Le Quotidien on Tuesday wrote that Saied’s “kick… in the parliamentary ant hill has taken many people by surprise, starting with Ennahdha”.

The young democracy had often been cited as the sole success story of the Arab Spring, the tumult sparked across the region after Mohamed Bouazizi, a university graduate who could only find work as a fruit vendor, self-immolated in December 2010.

Tunisia is seen as a key to regional stability, located between Algeria which faces political turmoil and war-battered Libya, from where every year thousands of desperate migrants seek to cross the Mediterranean to Europe, with many dying along the way.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday spoke by telephone with Saied and urged him “to adhere to the principles of democracy and human rights that are the basis of governance in Tunisia”.

The top US diplomat urged Saied to “maintain open dialogue with all political actors and the Tunisian people,” the State Department said.

The European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell on Tuesday urged “the resumption of parliamentary activity, respect for fundamental rights and an abstention from all forms of violence”.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairman of the African Union Commission on Tuesday called for “the strict respect of the Tunisian constitution… and the promotion of political dialogue”.

AFP

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On failed states and the pitfalls of Western commentary

Why did a fairly obvious observation by two white American scholars about Nigeria being a failed state cause controversy? It is because their conclusion departs from a familiar arc of Western commentaries on Nigeria and Africa, which tend to favor platitudinous waffling over candor and critique, and because it aligns with the much-critiqued dominant Western narrative of African dysfunction.

Novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s viral critique of un-nuanced Western narratives that homogenise Africa as a hotbed of chaos and tragedy has become the staple reference for discussions on Western portrayals of Africa. But this critique has, in its virality, made it difficult to recognize and engage the other end of the spectrum of Western reportorial engagements with Africa and Africans, the flipside of what Adichie clinically critiqued: the tendency of Western commentators to dress up African tragedies in the patronising logic of relativism.

Much Western commentary is steeped in a benign, avuncular racism that understands Africa as a delicate entity whose dire conditions must be minimized as the inevitable travails of developmental infancy. But Africans need informed, truthful, and nuanced commentary, not denialist, feel-good platitudes that gaslight them on what plagues their countries.

Paternalistic Western narratives about Africa work in two different but equally suffocating ways. One strand is quite familiar, seeking to inculcate Western values into Africans deemed to lack and need them, a neo-civilizing enterprise that seeks to remake Africans in the image of the West in total disregard for the cultural and aspirational singularities of Africans.

A second strand claims that Africans are not to be judged by Western standards of good governance, security, and citizen rights because Africans are allegedly culturally conditioned to find joy in small things, are happy even when beset by problems, and have more modest aspirations than Westerners.

In the old colonial days, this was the myth of “merrie Africa,” which is explained in detail in Curtis Keim and Carolyn Somerville’s bookMistaking Africa. Today, the same construct of Africans being happy and content amidst adversity is so prevalent in Western commentary that when a Western opinion on the continent bucks that narrative, it rattles stakeholders from citizens to governments.

This was the case when Robert Rotberg, the founding director of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Program on Interstate Conflict, and James Campbell, a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, argued in a recent essay published by Foreign Policy that “Nigeria is a Failed State.”

The authors were echoing the verdict of most Nigerians, restating what many Nigerians had been saying for several years as they watched their country come apart under the watch of President Muhammadu Buhari and his ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).

Although the Nigerian government predictably reacted to the publication with denial and bluster, and the presidency’s spokesperson even attacked the credibility of the authors—these overreactions demonstrated the government’s unfamiliarity with candid and critical Western assessments of the Nigerian situation—the essay resonated widely in the Nigerian media ecosystem.

The message that Nigeria is a failed state was not new to Nigerians because it merely, and faithfully, relayed their predicament under the devastating impact of several armed insurgencies and widespread violent criminality, which have effectively rendered Nigeria a failed state in their eyes.

The essay’s authors’ social scientific explanation of what it means for a state to be considered failed may have fleshed out their argument, but Nigerians already knew that their government was unable to protect them. The key indicators of this state failure are the helplessness of the Buhari administration in the face of growing insecurity, the number of internally displaced persons camps, and the large number of Nigerians who have fled to neighboring countries for refuge.

While the “failed state” message was not a surprise to Nigerians, the authors’ blunt delivery of it was uncharacteristically punchy. It was a departure from the familiar style of Western interlocutors and experts on Nigeria, who, much to the frustration of many Nigerians, often refrain from accurately naming the country’s dysfunction, let alone laying blame on erring incumbent leaders.

Nigerians are long-accustomed to platitudinous Western commentary on their country’s problems. They are used to Western reluctance to criticize the failures of Nigerian governments. They are familiar with Western experts who rationalize failings they would not tolerate in their own countries. They are acquainted with the tendency of Western commentators to relativize Nigeria’s problems because of what is known in American political debates as the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Many Western experts on Nigeria are in the habit of gaslighting Nigerians about the problems their country faces, which, in many cases, these Nigerians must navigate daily as matters of life and death.

Two weeks before the publication of Rotberg’s and Campbell’s essay, a British expert on Nigeria, Nic Cheeseman, along with a Nigerian coauthor, Fola Aina, published an essay titled “Don’t Call Nigeria a Failed State” in Foreign Affairs. In the essay, they managed, with a perplexing analytical logic, to turn the multifaceted calamity unfolding in Nigeria into an alternate reality of a nation on the rise and on the path of greatness.

I was one of many Nigerians who found their conclusion both depressing and mendacious. It made many of us who grew up in Nigeria, have daily informational pipelines to the country, and are called upon to help family and friends cope with the current crisis, question whether we knew what we knew about our own country.

These different strands of Western commentaries on Nigeria’s current conditions raise a broader issue, namely the responsibility of Western scholars and commentators to empathize with and defer to the sentiments, anxieties, and aspirations of Africans—or the extent to which they should let the perspectives of Nigerians and other Africans inform their analyses and arguments.

Although Rotberg and Campbell’s conclusion struck a chord with Nigerians because it reflects how they feel about the ongoing insecurity crisis in their country, the essay is anchored on the esoteric social scientific criteria the authors discuss, not on the viewpoints and feelings of Nigerians.

The main problem remains the reluctance of Western interlocutors to represent African realities accurately, or to consider the opinions and experiences of Africans. There are several reasons Western experts recuse themselves from faithfully discussing African realities or echoing the experiential perspectives of regular Africans, and why, when their conclusion aligns with the sentiments of Africans, it comes across as surprising.

When Western entities criticize failings in African countries, they are sometimes told to keep off or, worse, are accused of haughty interference, such as the Buhari administration’s reaction to CNN’s criticism of its crackdown against #EndSARS protesters in Nigeria last year.

No event illustrates this African backlash against Western pontifications on African affairs than former President Barack Obama’s 2009 visit to Ghana, during which he gave a speech to the Ghanaian parliament that many African observers considered preachy and condescending. Obama’s subsequent address to the African Union in 2015 was similarly criticised for its tone of “insult” and arrogant, prescriptive lecturing.

While some African critics accused Obama of talking about Africa and African leadership in the mold of a colonial headmaster self-righteously scolding his “wayward” pupils without acknowledging the reality of colonial domination and intrusion, others praised him for what they regarded as his unvarnished, “tough love” truth telling about the dysfunction in most African countries.

These dueling African perspectives on Obama’s engagement with Africa illustrate four interrelated points. First, Western interlocutors, even those with sentimental affinities to the continent, struggle to find the right frame to engage with Africa and its issues.

Second, there is a tendency to pigeonhole Western commentaries on Africa into two categories of hostile and friendly opinions. This binary opposition, despite the emotional and intellectual energies invested in defending it, produces dead-end debates because it leaves out many nuances that defy these categories.

Third, debates on Obama’s Africa rhetoric skirt the critical question of whether or to what extent Obama’s evaluation and even his rhetoric accorded with or departed from the sentiments and quotidian narratives of non-elite Africans on the problems of their countries.

Finally, the debate over how Obama talked about and to Africa was shaped by the tendency of some African elites to become instinctively defensive in responding to Western criticisms of African leadership and state failure, a reflex that makes it seem like Africans are afraid to take responsibility for their failures, to be self-reflexive and self-critical, and to accept critique.

Contrary to this perception, Africans are able to separate tendentiously patronizing Western criticism from genuine concerns about leadership failure and dysfunction in their countries. Africans desire well-targeted criticisms from Westerners who are concerned without being conceited, critical without being condescending.

It is a delicate balance between minimizing and pathologizing African dysfunctions. A Western interlocutor who desires to study and engage credibly with Africa needs to painstakingly learn that balance and the appropriate terms for considering African affairs in ways that are respectful of African perspectives and sufferings. In tone and substance, the Western opinion should not contradict or lecture Africans about their own reality.

Most Western commentators on Africa lack Obama’s outrage-defying platform and clout, so instead of courting controversy, they avoid blunt criticisms of failings in the countries with which they engage.

Some Westerners refrain from criticizing failings in Africa because they don’t want to be thrown out by host governments, the way the Lagos correspondent of The Economist was expelled from Nigeria in 2016. Others who are scholars want to preserve access to research materials, informants, and interlocutors, and so refrain from critical political commentary.

Another group of Western commentators operates out of an antiquated handbook of White liberal guilt that forbids finding fault with Africans because, for them, criticizing African failings amounts to blaming or revictimizing the victims of violent Western intrusions such as slavery and colonialism.

Other Western experts on Africa take the calculated stance of not criticizing state policies so as not to endanger internally persecuted minorities and groups who could be further targeted if they are seen as instigators or beneficiaries of Western criticism and activism.

Perhaps the most significant reason for the turn towards overly rosy and unrealistically positive rendition of African realities is the recent critique of the dominant trope of  Western portrayals of Africa, in exclusively negative terms, as a diseased and poverty-ravaged basket case.

The Western media is accused of ignoring positive events in Africa to focus on the negative. This critique was given global visibility by Chimamanda Adichie’s searing audio-visual enunciation of the danger of the Western single story on Africa.

These may be legitimate reasons for Western commentators to avoid certain uncomfortable truths about the conditions of the countries they study or to tell the truth in a soothing, stripped-down manner, but such Western experts need to know that the option of maintaining a studious, deferential silence when they are not sure how to respond to African tragedies is available. They need to know that this option is preferable, from the perspective of Africans, to pandering, patronizing platitudes that conceal or dilute the seriousness of African countries’ predicaments or the failings of their governments.

Adichie’s memorable critique of the Western single story should not be read as permission to patronize and condescend to Africa and Africans with positive portrayals that bear little correlation to actual conditions on the continent.

The issue is not simply about balancing the negative with the positive or vice versa, in a mechanical, cynical way, only for the sake of reconciling the representational books. Rather, the problem is that commentaries on African matters often devolve into two extreme categories of overly negative or positive and, more crucially, with little or only partial fidelity to the perspectives and experiences of Africans living in the countries under discussion.

A graphic illustration of this tendency towards extreme narrative tropes is the fact that the May 13, 2000 edition of The Economist declared Africa to be “the hopeless continent” on its cover only for the December 3, 2011 edition of the same magazine to declare Africa “the hopeful continent,” projecting the simplistic narrative of “Africa rising” without explaining the parameters of this “rising” or considering the critical question of for whom Africa is rising, if indeed it is rising.

Negative or positive, Western analysis of African realities should be faithful to the ways that Africans themselves are experiencing and narrating those realities. It is not the job of Western analysts to make Africans feel better about their own conditions by whitewashing and attenuating those conditions or by deploying platitudinous and patronizing rhetoric, nor is it their place to articulate on Africans’ behalf how bad things are on the continent.

Whether it is expressed as the rhetorical exaggeration of and reduction of complex African realities to un-nuanced tragedy and adversity or advanced in the offensive language of cultural relativism, Western attitudes to African conditions spring from the same source: a reluctance to let the perspectives of Africans determine the narratives around their predicaments.

The Adichiean rebuke of the Western single story must be accompanied and balanced out by a complementary denunciation of its antipode: the condescending romanticization of African tragedies and the corresponding infantilization of Africans as uniquely resilient and unconditionally happy Others.

Western commentaries on African conditions and on governments that superintend these conditions should mirror the sentiments of Africans in those countries, not the ideologies or prepackaged bromides of the commentators.

This article was first published on Africa is a Country

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UN says closing Darfur peacekeeping operation has hiccups

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. logistics chief says closing down the joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping operation in Sudan’s western Darfur region is proceeding on schedule, though with some hiccups. Atul Khare said Tuesday that troops sought asylum in Sudan, thefts were reported at 10 sites handed over to local authorities, and armed groups are stationing forces around the main remaining logistics base. He told the Security Council that the initial milestone for withdrawing peacekeepers and staff by June 30 was achieved. Almost 6,000 soldiers and police and nearly 1,200 staff are gone, and only 360 police remain to secure the El Fasher logistics base.

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Reach Out Together Expands Global Network of Mental Health Advocates

Reach Out Together Expands Global Network of Mental Health Advocates – African Union News Today – EIN Presswire

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Allow national switches to integrate into Pan African payments and settlement system – Bawumia

Vice President, Mahamudu Bawumia, has called on the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) to re-examine the strategy it is currently using to implement a centralized payment and settlement system for intra-African trade and commerce payments.

The Pan African Payments and Settlement System (PAPSS), developed by the Afreximbank is the first centralized payment market infrastructure for processing, clearing and settling of intra-African trade and commerce payments.

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It is expected to facilitate payments as well as formalise some of the unrecorded trade due to the prevalence of informal cross-border trade in Africa.

Rather than building a whole new structure from scratch, which would require individual financial institutions across the continent to connect to a central database, Ghana’s Vice President believes a simpler, quicker and more effective method would be to plug in the existing payment structures being operated by African Central Banks into a central system at Afreximbank.

Dr Bawumia made the call on Tuesday, July 27, 2021 in Accra at the opening ceremony for the 5th Ghana International Trade and Finance Conference (GITFiC 2021).

The Conference is being attended both physically and virtually by senior officials of African central banks, the African Union, West African Monetary Institute members of the Diplomatic Corps, and other key stakeholders in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“It is important that I mention this, for the attention of Afreximbank and the implementers of the Pan African Payments System: If you look at the strategy and the mode that we are observing in the implementation of the Pan African Payment and Settlements System, we are seeing that individual financial institutions are being asked to connect to the system. I think it’s a very inefficient way to proceed.

“If you look at the financial systems within each of the countries, you have switches and financial institutions are all connected to these switches, whether it’s in Ghana or Nigeria or the BCEAO. I think the easiest and quickest way for us to go as a continent is to have the national switches connect directly to the Pan African Payments and Settlements System. So when the national switch in Ghana, for example, under GhIPPS, connects to PAPPS, it brings along immediately all the 23 or so banks that are functional. It would be similar in Nigeria, similar with the BCEAO. If we want to wait for each individual financial institution to connect directly, there will be a long delay in the process but we don’t have time.”

“So my humble advice is that let’s move towards the national payment systems connecting directly to the Pan African Payment and Settlements System and that will bring all the financial institutions under their switches for us to move forward,” he explained.

Alluding to the theme for the Conference, “Facilitating Trade in AfCFTA; The Role of the Financial Services Sector”, Vice President Bawumia noted that a simple, efficient payment system is an integral part of ensuring continental trade.

“After all, payments are at the heart of the day-to-day functioning of free trading system. Making sure that the underlying payment system runs smoothly is the least we should expect of the financial system if we are to realize the vision of the continental free trade.”

With intra-African trade expected to improve from the single-digit levels to over 60 percent, the Pan African Payments and Settlement System will allow businesses on the continent to clear and settle transactions in their local currencies without depending on third-party currencies.

It will also provide an alternative to the current high-cost and long correspondent banking relationships by facilitating trade and other economic activity across African countries through a simple, low-cost, and risk-controlled payment clearing and settlement system.

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