Driving environmental awareness in Mauritania

Proving small initiatives can have great impact

JOHANNESBURG, Aug. 08, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Wanting to raise awareness about the unhealthy and unsanitary conditions in her home country, now 26-year-old Aminetou Bilal launched the “Selfie Mbalite” campaign in February 2017. She was inspired by the “Selfie Déchets” campaign run by blogger Fatoumata Cherif in Conakry, Guinea.

Bilal is the president of Selfie Mbalite, an NGO that focuses on awareness campaigns against unsanitary conditions and promotes ecological development in Mauritania. She is also part of the first class of 200 Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme.

Born and raised in Mauritania, Bilal completed her Bachelor’s degree in Geosciences and is currently busy with her Master’s degree in ‘Territorial management of the effects of climate change and environmental risks’ at Sup Management University in Nouakchott.

Bilal decided she wanted to make herself useful after completing her studies and integrated into the NOG ‘Rim Youth Climate Movement’ fighting climate change. Even though she is no longer a member, she is grateful for her learnings.

“When I launched Selfie Mbalite, I did not expect such quick reactions. Everyone was taking selfies near waste on the national territory and posted them on Facebook with the Hashtag #SelfieMbalite,” says Bilal. Thanks to this initiative, authorities in Mauritania have reduced the contracts of companies that manage waste and have started to review their strategies.

Bilal also went to be an AU-EU Youth Ambassador. “Being part of the AU-EU Youth Plug-In initiative is one of the most beautiful things that happened to me and is the result of my civic commitment,” says Bilal. This lead to her being chosen by the African Union Commission to represent and deliver the speech on behalf of the African Youth at the “Women in Power” Conference on the sidelines of the 31st African Union Summit.

On being chosen to be part of the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme, Bilal said that it was more than a pride and honour. She added that “President Obama is an inspiration to the whole world.”

Bilal sees herself as a business leader in the environmental sector in the future. She’s made a promise after her pare in the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme to pass on her knowledge and skills to the young people of her country through a mentorship program that she will launch shortly.

beverley.bradley@mslgroup.com Laura Lucas Magnuson llucasmagnuson@obama.org

Cameroonian Lawyer Looks to Unseat Africa’s Longest-Ruling Leader

Aside from Cameroon’s President Paul Biya and main opposition leader Joshua Osih, no candidate for the October election is creating as much hype as 66-year-old lawyer Akere Muna.

Muna, the former vice president of the anti-corruption group Transparency International, says he is the best candidate to fight the deep-rooted corruption that has hindered Cameroon’s development, despite rich natural and human resources.

A 2015 Transparency International report labeled Cameroon as one of the most corrupt African nations, alongside Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and South Africa. Transparency said corruption creates and increases poverty and exclusion. It also said whistleblowing is key to fighting graft, but many people are afraid to come forward.

“Under my government, there will be zero tolerance for corruption,” Muna said. “Absolutely zero tolerance. This country is tailor made for any type of corrupt practices. The World Bank report on public expenses of 18th May says so. Procurement prices bloated; meetings prices bloated; missions, travel prices bloated. Every single way they have to spend money, they increase it by prices.”

But Ngolle Ngolle Elvis, a close aid of President Biya, says Muna is wasting his time.

“A good policy such as the fight against corruption should not be manipulated upon or should not be distorted or should not be rendered a mockery by those who do not understand the moral foundations, the legitimacy of that policy,” Ngolle said.

Ngolle says Biya has made the fight against corruption a public policy, and points to the arrests of scores of Biya’s former colleagues, including former Prime Minister Inoni Ephraim.

However, Biya’s critics say he uses corruption to go after political opponents, an allegation Ngolle refutes.

“There is nothing to tell me that it is politically motivated, and I think that the initiative is a deliberate public policy which is intended to make Cameroon a better country. If there are manipulators, we would know how to take care of those manipulators,” Ngolle said.

Recovered funds

Cameroon has complained about lengthy judicial processes and difficulties tracing embezzled funds in foreign banks. In 2016, the government said it had recovered $4 million in stolen public funds. The state estimates more than $150 million has been stolen.

Muna says he already is working on what he calls an African platform to bring back the stolen money.

“I made a proposal, which was adopted by the heads of state of the African Union,” Muna said. “It was my proposal. My proposal was that all the moneys that are found in foreign banks, which are frozen, should be transferred to African Development Bank, because what I am saying that those banks that are keeping that money are complicit with the kleptocrats who stole the money from Africa because they knew that they were taking this money illegally and they took it. So they are handling illegal goods.”

Activist Edward Nfor praises Muna’s lofty ideas, but says competing in Cameroon’s politics will be more than a challenge for the anti-corruption campaigner.

“He has never come out on a public debate or on a political debate before. He has never been on any political platform,” Nfor said. “So, I do not see how he can win elections in this country. In fact, he is well known at international circles. But politically speaking, in this country, Akere Muna is a non-figure in politics, and I know the English community is against his standing for elections, especially during this crisis.”

Muna says his being from Southwest Cameroon where insurgents are fighting for an English-speaking state will help spur dialogue to end the simmering conflict.

Split opposition

But some argue the conflict has divided the population.

Political science student Joseph Foyong says the opposition is too split to challenge Biya.

“The Anglophone crisis has taken a good part of the population that might have voted in favor of Akere [Muna]. His percentage might have swollen if the situation in the northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon was stable,” Foyong said. “If Akere and other prominent opposition candidates like Joshua Osih, Maurice Kamto came up with a single opposition candidate to face Paul Biya, Akere may have been having some hopes.”

Cameroonian voters will get a better sense of the anti-corruption campaigner’s chances as Muna and the other presidential candidates begin campaigning for the October election.

Source: Voice of America

AFRICAN FOOTBALL BODY BANS EIGHT GHANAIAN REFEREES FOR BRIBERY

ACCRA — The Disciplinary Board of Confederation of African Football (CAF) has banned eight Ghanaian referees who were exposed in a video-taped scandal which caught them receiving bribes to influence the outcome of matches in the Ghana Premier League and matches in other lower leagues.

The ban announced Tuesday was also extended to some referees from other parts of the continent, who were also caught in the controversial tape, while some referees were suspended for fixed periods.

Referee David Laryea has been give a life ban from all CAF-related football activities, while seven other referees — Lathbridge Reginald, Nantierre Eric, Fleischer Cecil, Mr. Ouedraogo Dawood, Salifu Malik, Akongyam Theresa, Wellington Joseph — received a 10-year ban from all CAF-related activities.

Four other Ghanaian referees have been provisionally been suspended, pending their appearance at the next meeting of the Disciplinary Board.

The expose by Ghanaian investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas in a documentary aired in June prompted the CAF to take proactive steps to temporary suspend them.

Referees from other parts of Africa who were given temporary suspension included those from Madagascar, Republic of Congo, Liberia, Benin, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, and Senega.

The decisions were taken at a meeting of the CAF Disciplinary Board on Aug 5.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

President launches strategy to improve public sector performance

Accra- President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the new National Public Sector Reform Strategy (NPSRS), to improve the performance � responsiveness and quality of service delivery by the sector.

The NPSRS, to run from 2018 through to 2023, would review and modernise the current structures, systems, processes and internal management functions of the sector, to enable it support government’s development priorities.

President Akufo-Addo said although the public service bequeathed to Ghana after independence had contributed its quota to the nation’s development, Ghanaians, in recent years, had been dissatisfied with the quality of service.

Whether it is about absenteeism or lateness, incompetence or corruption, the public sector is, today, unhappily, not seen in good light.

He spoke of various reforms undertaken by successive governments to change things and said the requisite level of performance of the sector had still not been attained.

That was why, he said, his administration had begun the process to the create a new public service that is fit-for-purpose, which will help guarantee the delivery of high quality services for the Ghanaian people and the private sector.

President Akufo-Addo said a major goal of the reform was to strengthen the human resource capacity of the public sector to improve its delivery.

To this end, public sector training institutions would be resourced to help develop the skills and knowledge needed to efficiently deliver.

The process will also enhance the ethical foundation of the public sector and, in addition, introduce change management initiatives to deal with apathy, resistance and reform fatigue, which have been the bane of previous attempts at reform, he added.

He noted that improved working conditions was key to increasing productivity in the public service, and said there was going to be a systematic review of public sector compensation in its entirety – the institution of a suitable performance-based reward system to help guarantee increased productivity.

The review will pursue opportunities for upgrading office space, and provide the necessary tools and equipment to improve the work environment within the Service.

Additionally, a central assets and inventory check system to take stock of all physical assets in the public service will be established. Furthermore, a culture of maintenance of public assets and property must be revived and adhered to.

President Akufo-Addo said attention would be focused on strengthening local government structures and digitization of public sector services and systems.

With the mainstreaming ICT in government agencies, the public sector would go paperless to reduce drastically the interface that currently existed between citizens and public servants in the provision of services.

He vowed to ensure that the reform strategy did not suffer the same fate as the previous ones, saying matters relating to policy formulation and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, reporting and accountability, have been well factored into this strategy to ensure its smooth take off.

He urged members of the public service to embrace the reforms, as they l represented an effective means for the creation of a public service that would deliver to the expectation of the people and the private sector.

An efficient public service will help realise our vision of a self-reliant, prosperous Ghana.

It should serve as the impetus for re-shaping our country and charting a new path of growth and development in freedom, which will help deliver a dignified, prosperous standard of life to the Ghanaian people.

Source: Ghana News Agency

President launches strategy to improve public sector performance

Accra- President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has launched the new National Public Sector Reform Strategy (NPSRS), to improve the performance � responsiveness and quality of service delivery by the sector.

The NPSRS, to run from 2018 through to 2023, would review and modernise the current structures, systems, processes and internal management functions of the sector, to enable it support government’s development priorities.

President Akufo-Addo said although the public service bequeathed to Ghana after independence had contributed its quota to the nation’s development, Ghanaians, in recent years, had been dissatisfied with the quality of service.

Whether it is about absenteeism or lateness, incompetence or corruption, the public sector is, today, unhappily, not seen in good light.

He spoke of various reforms undertaken by successive governments to change things and said the requisite level of performance of the sector had still not been attained.

That was why, he said, his administration had begun the process to the create a new public service that is fit-for-purpose, which will help guarantee the delivery of high quality services for the Ghanaian people and the private sector.

President Akufo-Addo said a major goal of the reform was to strengthen the human resource capacity of the public sector to improve its delivery.

To this end, public sector training institutions would be resourced to help develop the skills and knowledge needed to efficiently deliver.

The process will also enhance the ethical foundation of the public sector and, in addition, introduce change management initiatives to deal with apathy, resistance and reform fatigue, which have been the bane of previous attempts at reform, he added.

He noted that improved working conditions was key to increasing productivity in the public service, and said there was going to be a systematic review of public sector compensation in its entirety – the institution of a suitable performance-based reward system to help guarantee increased productivity.

The review will pursue opportunities for upgrading office space, and provide the necessary tools and equipment to improve the work environment within the Service.

Additionally, a central assets and inventory check system to take stock of all physical assets in the public service will be established. Furthermore, a culture of maintenance of public assets and property must be revived and adhered to.

President Akufo-Addo said attention would be focused on strengthening local government structures and digitization of public sector services and systems.

With the mainstreaming ICT in government agencies, the public sector would go paperless to reduce drastically the interface that currently existed between citizens and public servants in the provision of services.

He vowed to ensure that the reform strategy did not suffer the same fate as the previous ones, saying matters relating to policy formulation and implementation, monitoring and evaluation, reporting and accountability, have been well factored into this strategy to ensure its smooth take off.

He urged members of the public service to embrace the reforms, as they l represented an effective means for the creation of a public service that would deliver to the expectation of the people and the private sector.

An efficient public service will help realise our vision of a self-reliant, prosperous Ghana.

It should serve as the impetus for re-shaping our country and charting a new path of growth and development in freedom, which will help deliver a dignified, prosperous standard of life to the Ghanaian people.

Source: Ghana News Agency