East African leaders extend troop mandate in east DR Congo

East Africa’s leaders have agreed to extend until September the mandate of a regional military force deployed to quell violence in the strife-torn east of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The seven-nation East African Community (EAC) began the deployment last November with Kenyan soldiers arriving in the volatile region, followed this year by Burundian, Ugandan and South Sudanese contingents.

Its future had been in question, with DR Congo’s President Felix Tshisekedi this month accusing troops of “cohabitation” with rebels and hinting the regional force could leave by the end of June. But at a summit in Burundi on Wednesday, the EAC agreed to keep their troops on the ground until September 8 to consolidate “gains” made.

“The summit reiterated its call to all parties to de-escalate tensions and to use established regional, continental, international mechanisms to resolve any disputes in the implementation of peace in eastern DRC,” said a statement.

The EAC Regional Force (EACRF) has taken over some areas previously occupied by the M23, but has so far failed to thwart the insurgency. Kinshasa wants the force to have an “offensive” mandate to push back M23 fighters, and many residents have expressed disappointment that M23 continues to operate with impunity.

Earlier this month, southern African nations agreed to deploy their own troops to eastern DR Congo to restore peace and security. The DR Congo has repeatedly accused its neighbour Rwanda, an EAC member, of backing the rebels, a charge Kigali denies.

The United States and several other Western countries, as well as independent UN experts, have also concluded that Rwanda is backing the rebels

Source: Nam News Network

Deputy Minister Judith Tshabalala joins female bikers donating water in Hammanskraal, 3 Jun

In concerted efforts to curb the spread of cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal, the Deputy Minister of Water and Sanitation, Ms Judith Tshabalala will join a team of bikers led by South African Female Riders Forum to hand over bottled water and water purification tablets (Aqua Tablets) at Jubilee Mall on Saturday, 03 June 2023.

The team of bikers will be coming from biking clubs in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and North West in the wake of the deadly cholera outbreak in Hammanskraal. A total of 500 000 litres of water and water purification tablets that can purify up to 7.2 million litres of water will be handed over to community members.

Members of the media are invited as follows:

Date: 3 June 2023

Venue: Jubilee Mall, Hammanskraal

Time: 11h00

Source: Government of South Africa

Load shedding eased for the weekend

Eskom says it expects to implement various stages of load shedding over the weekend with a chance of a power cut-free Sunday afternoon.

This as the power utility said it expects to return several generating units to service over the coming days.

The load shedding schedule for this weekend is as follows:

Friday: Stage 4 throughout the day and evening

Saturday: Stage 2 from 5am until 4pm

Stage 4 from 4pm until 5am

Sunday: No load shedding between 5am and 4pm

Stage 4 from 4pm until midnight

“Over the past 24 hours, a generating unit each at Kendal and Tutuka power stations were returned to service.

“In the same period, a generation unit each at Duvha and Arnot power stations were taken out of service due to breakdowns. The further delays in returning to service a generating unit at Arnot, Hendrina, Lethabo, Majuba, Matimba, Matla, Tutuka and two generating units at Camden power stations continue to add to the current capacity constraints. Eskom intends to return as many of these generating units to service over the next few days,” the power utility said.

Some 17 863MW of generating capacity remains offline due to breakdowns with a further 2 437MW offline due to planned maintenance.

“We thank those South Africans who do heed the call to use electricity sparingly and efficiently, including switching off geysers from 5pm to 9pm, in helping to alleviate the pressure on the power system and avoiding higher stages of load shedding,” Eskom concluded. – SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency

ChommY programme to assist children make positive decisions

Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu along with Free State MEC of Social Development Motshidise Koloi in partnership with USAID will today launch ChommY- a social and behavioural change programme, in Ficksburg, Free State.

In a statement on Friday, the department said the launch forms part of the Child Protection Week campaign which is commemorated under the theme: “Let us Protect Children during COVID-19 and Beyond”.

Observed under the theme; “Invest in my Future…Protect me Today”, ChommY aims to generate knowledge, develop skills, and empower young people to make informed choices and contribute to reducing the high prevalence of HIV infections, substance abuse and prevention of teenage pregnancy.

In 2020, the Department of Social development estimated that there were 642 000 migrant children in South Africa, making it the country with the largest child migrant population on the continent.

The Child Protection Week (CPW) campaign is commemorated in the country annually to raise awareness of the rights of children as articulated in the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and Children’s Act (Act No. 38 of 2005).

“ChommY in Setsoto Local Municipality is being launched in the context of the Department’s You Only Live Once (YOLO) programme which was launched in 2015 to educate young people between the ages of 15 and 24 years about HIV/Aids, substance abuse, teenage pregnancy and being agents of social change. YOLO was established as part of the Department’s Comprehensive Strategy on HIV and Aids,” the department said.

According to Statistics South Africa’s 2018 HIV Prevalence Report, HIV prevalence among the youth aged 15 – 24 declined over time from 6.7% in 2002 to 5.5% in 2018.

According to the department, despite the decline, to date, HIV infections amongst the youth remain relatively high. This is hugely attributed to the behavioural, social, and structural drivers of HIV, which contribute to youth being vulnerable to the HIV and AIDS pandemic.

“Upon assessment of the YOLO programme, one of the findings was the distinct omission of children aged between 10 and 14, while reports have shown that some of them were already involved in risky sexual and social behaviour.

“Setsoto Local Municipality borders the Kingdom of Lesotho resulting in high numbers of undocumented children. South Africa as signatory to different international conventions, including the United Nations Convention on the rights of the child, and the African Charter on the Rights and welfare of the Child, is obligated to accord every child who lives within the borders of the country to receive all basic services including healthcare, education, food and shelter,” the department said.

ChommY, a colloquial term for “friend” seeks to build a positive friendship among children of between 10 and 14 years and to encourage young boys and girls to motivate one another to minimise risky behaviour and social ills, including, bullying.

The programme gives children the opportunity to develop a personal plan for their lives and emphasises the importance of support from parents and communities to enable young people to make informed decisions.

The programme forms part of a basket of Social Behavioural Change (SBC) programmes offered by the Department of Social Development.

Children from Setsoto Local Municipality will form part of the launch and participate in indigenous games, share their social experiences and solutions and interact with the programme’s mascot Bokamoso. –SAnews.gov.za

Source: South African Government News Agency

Youth Month 2023

The commemoration of Youth Day this year marks the 47th anniversary of the 16 June Soweto uprising. Youth Day — June 16 — commemorates a day where thousands of courageous students stood together to march against oppressive apartheid education policies.

News articles

ChommY programme to assist children make positive decisions

Youth Month: Digital economy careers under spotlight

Young people challenged to take responsibility for their future

Self-taught cheesemaker serves exquisite delicacies

Honouring the youth by taking advantage of government opportunities

Vuk talks to the people

Source: South African Government News Agency

Western Cape Finance and Economic Opportunities on monthly tourism report

In April 2023, the share of overseas tourists to Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) reached full recovery when compared to pre-pandemic levels in April 2019. In the month of April 2023, CTIA recorded a total of 67,747 tourist arrivals via air, 87% of which originated from overseas markets and 13% from the African continent.

This is according to the monthly tourism report, compiled by the Western Cape Government’s official trade, investment, and tourism promotion agency, Wesgro.

“I am very pleased that we have reached pre-pandemic levels of tourists to the Western Cape. Our focus now is to move beyond recovery and to focus all efforts on growing the tourism and hospitality sector, because more tourists mean more jobs in the Western Cape.” said Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, Mireille Wenger.

Minister Wenger continued: “Which is why I am very excited to be welcoming the first direct flight from Eswatini to Cape Town this morning. This new direct route is one of two routes recently secured, the other being from Lusaka, Zambia, to Cape Town.”

Other highlights from the report include:

International two-way passengers through CTIA reached 218,325 in April 2023; 39% growth year-on-year and more than full recovery against April 2019 (106% recovery).

574,528 domestic two-way passengers passed through CTIA during April 2023; registering a 7% increase over April 2022 and 80% recovery vs. April 2019.

During April 2023, Cape Town recorded a total of 67,747 tourist arrivals via air, of which 87% originated from overseas markets and 13% from the African continent.

Overseas tourists to Cape Town reached full recovery when compared to pre-pandemic levels in April 2019.

The United Kingdom led as the top source market to Cape Town (via air) between January and April 2023, closely followed by Germany, USA, Netherlands and France in the top 5 positions.

The European market remains the largest contributor to tourist arrivals into Cape Town, with 7 out of the top 10 source markets originating from the continent.

The cumulative total of tourist arrivals between January and April 2023 reflected full recovery from 6 out of the top 10 source markets to Cape Town (via air), against the same period in 2019 (Jan-Apr cumulatively).

These markets included UK (104%), Germany (106%), USA (155%), Netherlands (116%), Canada (105%) and Zimbabwe (170%). In addition, Belgium (98%) and Italy (92%) are rapidly nearing full recovery when compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Footfall to 24 participating attractions across the six regions of the Western Cape recorded a total of 573,262 visitors in April 2023, a 50% growth in the number of visitors when compared to April 2022 and 91% of what it was in April 2019.

The top 5 highest year-on-year growth rates in April 2023 were recorded for Stony Point (194%), Table Mountain Aerial Cableway (67%), Table Mountain National Park: Cape of Good Hope (61%), Cango Caves (57%) and Table Mountain National Park (51%)

“Earlier this week, I congratulated Boschendal wine estate for being rated the most Instagrammed vineyard in the world, beating out other farms in the US, Australia, France, and Spain. Three other vineyards in the Western Cape also featured in the top 30 of the most beautiful vineyards globally, including Tokara, Waterkloof and Spier. As we head into our winter season, I would like to encourage residents to get out, explore and to tag your favourite spots” concluded Minister Wenger.

Source: Government of South Africa

Sustainable Management, Utilization of Biodiversity Crucial for Meeting Africa Goal of Agenda 2063: AU Commissioner

Sustainable management and utilization of biodiversity is a crucial step for Africa in order to realize the seventh goal of Agenda 2063, AU Commissioner Albert Muchanga said.

In his speech at the conclusion of the AU, Caribbean and Pacific High-level Conference on Biodiversity, he pointed out that the conference is vital to the agenda of the continent as it aims to protect its biodiversity and ecosystem, and defines ways and mechanisms to domesticate the global frameworks and resolutions taking into account Africa’s realities.

In this connection, conserving biodiversity for Africa should not be an option but rather a vital necessity, he added.

According to the Economic Development, Trade, Tourism, Industry and Minerals Commissioner, “the draft African Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan is our new vehicle for addressing the triple crisis of biodiversity losses, adverse impacts of climate change and disasters in ecosystem resilience.”

Ministerial Segment Chairperson and Botswana’s Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism Minister, Philda Kereng said biodiversity is vital for the cultural heritages of Africans, and it is a cornerstone of the economies.

“Losing biodiversity threatens our existence and civilization and progress and livelihoods. As a continent, this is a risk that we cannot afford. Unless we are all aware, the environment has its own harsh way of responding to abusive actions of humans and other actors.”

Africa is endowed with vast natural wealth and cultural heritage, intricately connected to its ecosystems.

Despite the rich and varied natural endowment, the continent is not immune to the threats posed by the erosion of biodiversity, the impacts of climate change and the emergence of global health crisis, according to the minister.

She further noted that “if we continue on the current trend and continue not to make enough progress with our meetings and our dialogues and our program delivers, we risk losing about 50 percent of the bird and mammal species by 2100 and about 20 to 30 percent of the productivity of our leads, and mainly due to pollution, habitat fragmentation and others.”

As leaders, we have a duty to ensure that we preserve the benefits for future generations. This will involve a multifaceted and multi-stakeholder approach.

Kereng stated that it should also cover transboundary efforts, including at continental sub regional levels as well.

Furthermore, we need to harness the collective strength of our commitment to speak as one. “We always talk about one Africa voice; but here I wish that we can be able to put more attention on to how we can actually effectively build this voice as a process.”

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Republic of Korea Will Continue To Strengthen Its Development Cooperation With Ethiopia: Ambassador Seokhee

Republic of Korea will continue to strengthen development cooperation with Ethiopia, Ambassador Kang Seokhee told ENA.

According to him, Republic of Korea’s diplomatic relations with Ethiopia is growing.

The cooperation between the countries has in particular been consolidated in various development sectors, he added, stating that efforts are being made to further strengthen the relationship.

Ambassador Seokhee reiterated that his country will enhance its support for the implementation of the agreement.

Republic of Korea is making preparations to restart its development projects in the northern part of the country, he said.

“We will support this peace process. Korea has development projects in the northern part of the country. Because of the conflict these projects have been delayed. We plan to facilitate the delayed development projects soon.”

Republic of Korea government had provided 1.5 million USD for humanitarian aid and 10 million USD worth food aid, he stated.

Ambassador Seokhee disclosed that activities are underway to provide additional humanitarian support and restart work on various development projects that have been disrupted.

“We are considering other contributions to Ethiopia. The first one is to facilitate the ongoing development projects in the northern part of this country, and the other one is providing other assistances to Ethiopia.”

Ambassador further revealed that Republic of Korea plans to provide over 8 million USD food and humanitarian aid to Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency

Ethiopia Receives Over 110,000 Refugees from Sudan, Somalia this Yr Alone: RRS

Refugees and Returnees Service (RRS) disclosed that Ethiopia has received more than 110,000 refugees this year alone from neighboring Sudan and Somalia.

The service added that the construction of new refugee shelters has been started in Matema, Amhara region and Kumruq, Benshangul-Gumuz region, to provide complete services for those refugees.

Ethiopia is one of the largest refugee host countries worldwide, it was indicated.

Moreover, the country has provided protection to refugees and asylum seekers from some 26 countries, predominantly from neighboring countries such as Sudan, South Sudan, Eritrea, and Somalia and among many others.

This history goes back to thousands of years when Ethiopia has had a well-known history in providing protection and hosting refugees since the seventh century by receiving the followers of the Prophet Muhammad.

In an exclusive interview with ENA, Deputy Director General of RRS, Mulualem Desta said that Ethiopia is known for providing protection to refugees who enter its territory.

As home to Africa’s largest refugee population, Ethiopia hosts more than one million refugees who have fled from various countries, the deputy director general indicated.

This year alone, Ethiopia has received more than 110,000 refugees from Somalia and Sudan displaced by conflict, he said, adding the country is providing the necessary humanitarian support in accordance with international principles.

“From Somaliland in the lower Dolo Ado region and following the current conflict in Sudan, we are hosting more than 110,000 refugees who have fled to Ethiopia in order to seek protection. Including the newcomers, it means that we are hosting over one million refugees. As a country, our door is open and we are receiving refugees who come to get protection from Ethiopia.”

According to Mulualem, following the ongoing conflict in Sudan, particular activities are being intensified in coordination with the stakeholders in Metama, Amhara region, Kumruq area, Benshangul-Gumuz region as well as Gambella region.

He explained of the total 30 refugees who have arrived in Metema town, we are hosting 6, 483 foreign refugees who have applied for asylum and protection.

The director further stated that activities have been started to build shelters on 57 hectares of land in Matema to provide complete services to refugees.

Due to the conflict in Somaliland, a new shelter has been built on the 400 hectares of land provided by the Somali region in Boa district of Dolo Zone which has thus far hosted more than 20,000 refugees.

He added that the international community, including the United Nations aid organizations has made good contribution in supporting refugees. However, the assistance is not quite adequate and has not been as expected, he pointed out.

Therefore, he called on international donors to maximize and strengthen their support to the refugees.

He also mentioned that Ethiopia does not only provide protection to refugees but also implements sustainable life improvement projects centered on refugees and host communities by enacting a progressive law.

For instance, he mentioned that in coordination with partners, successful development works have been carried out to ensure sustainable development benefits for refugees in the Somali region of Dolo Ado zone.

The deputy director general finally stated to strengthen such activities in order to alleviate the impact of refugees on the environment and on the receiving communities.

Source: Ethiopian News Agency