Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Newest African Ambassador Presents Letters of Credence At White House

Washington DC
March 18, 2014

On Monday, March 10, 2014, the new Tunisian Ambassador to the U.S. – Mhamed Ezzine Chelaifa – presented his Letters of Credence to President Obama at the White House.

The presentation of credentials is a traditional ceremony that marks the formal beginning of an Ambassador’s service in Washington.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Millennium Challenge Corp. Compact Helps Strength Malawi’s Energy Sector

Malawians line up to celebrate the commissioning of a hydropower plant, one of the conditions MCC and Malawi agreed upon before the compact would begin
Picture and story courtesy of MCC Poverty Reduction Blog
by Oliver Pierson, resident country director, Malawi

MCC and MCA-Malawi staff are working hard to strengthen Malawi’s energy sector. The country’s five-year, $350.7 million compact will address its inadequate and unreliable electricity and make a major contribution to the country’s economic growth over the next five to 10 years.

The compact comes after more than five years of development and preparation, and at an event full of high expectations and significant anticipation, more than 100 people gathered at the Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe late last year to mark the Malawi Compact’s entry into force—when the compact projects officially begin, and the countdown toward the five-year deadline begins. There was excitement about what lies ahead, relief that the compact was finally getting going and a bit of nervousness about all the work that lies ahead.

It took a lot of work to reach this point.

Development was marked by a delay from July 2011 to June 2012 due to the operational hold and suspension resulting from a pattern of actions by the Government of Malawi that was inconsistent with MCC’s eligibility criteria. Since compact reinstatement in June 2012, MCC and the Government of Malawi have worked diligently to both prepare for implementation and meet the conditions both sides agreed upon before the compact would begin; these conditions involved a number of power sector reforms to ensure the compact’s sustainability.

The reforms the Malawian government made were difficult, necessary and showed their strong commitment to the compact.

Access to power is a major issue in Malawi and creates a drag on the nation’s economy. Only 6 percent of Malawi’s nearly 14 million people have electricity, and even those with access experience frequent outages and blackouts. What now is underway is fulfilling the compact’s ambitious infrastructure program. This includes constructing a new 400-kilovolt transmission line linking Blantyre to Lilongwe—a distance of about 150 miles or equivalent to the distance from Washington, D.C. to Virginia Beach—that will greatly improve power supply reliability.

The program also includes rehabilitating a hydropower plant to increase generation capacity and the development or rehabilitation of approximately 25 substations to deliver more reliable electricity to the homes and businesses of nearly 1 million Malawians.

The compact aims to reduce the costs of energy for domestic and business uses, and we project the compact will boost household incomes nearly $570 million. And that figure doesn’t include the benefits of improved governance and regulation in the power sector that the compact l helps motivate.

People often ask me when the compact will show some impact in Malawi. I can confidently respond that, with entry into force behind us, the impacts of our investments on Malawi’s power supply should be felt within four years, once our new transmission lines and substations are in place and our work to rehabilitate the Nkula A hydropower plant is complete.

While that may seem like a long time to some, the significant improvements these policy reforms and investments are expected to bring will be worth the wait.

Maryland African Affairs Commission Hosts Inaugural Legislative Night

Picture Courtesy of George Bright Abu / Afrikan Post
Annapolis, Maryland
March 12, 2014
By Frederick Nnoma-Addison – AMIP News
Chair, Outreach Committee – Governor’s Commission on African Affairs

With contributions from Olaolu S. Adewole – Outreach Committee Member

The Governor’s Commission on African Affairs tonight hosted its Inaugural Legislative Night at the House of Delegates Building in the state Capital. At least two hundred dignitaries from a wide cross section of the political, business and African immigrant communities in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and the Commonwealth of Virginia attended the high profile event. The commission organized this event to provide an opportunity for African immigrants and nationals to interact with elected and appointed officials, discuss legislation impacting their community and celebrate the dynamic, growing African community in the state of Maryland.

Speaking on behalf of Governor Martin O’Malley who is on international travel, Secretary of State Mr. John P. McDonough reaffirmed the importance of the commission in the state’s goal to serve all ethnic demographics. He also highlighted some notable achievements such as the Sister – State Program, and the MOU’s signed with Ondo and Cross River States (Nigeria), and Bong and Maryland Counties (Liberia).

Other speakers included delegates Barbara Robinson (Appropriations Committee), Eric Luedtke (Ways & Means Committee), Mary-Dulany James (Appropriations Committee), James Malone (Environmental Matters-Vice Chair), Susan C. Lee (Judiciary Committee), Aisha N. Braveboy (Economic Committee), and Jolene Ivey (Ways and Means Committee) who is also a candidate for Lieutenant Governor. They spoke on several topics ranging from diversity, equitable distribution of state resources, elections, voting, discrimination, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCU’s).

Officials from the Department of Business and Economic Development, and the Minority Business Enterprise also took turns to address the attendees on issues specific to their department’s goals. [Link to event pictures at bottom of page]

About the African Affairs Commission
On May 14, 2009, Governor O’Malley signed executive Order 01.01.2009.07, establishing the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs within the Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives. http://www.governor.maryland.gov/executiveorders/01.01.2009.07.pdf
The Governor appointed a 21-member commission to reflect the growth and diversity of the African community. The Commission has established an ambitious work plan to meet the charge of the Executive Order. Over the course of the next four years the Commission will work closely with the Governor’s Office, state and local governments, and other stake holders within the diverse African communities to ensure greater access and inclusion for Africans and all Marylanders. The Commission has five main operating committees. They are .1. Education & Culture .2. Business & Community Empowerment .3. Legislative & Advisory .4. Health & Quality of Life, and .5. Outreach.

List of Current Commissioners
• Valentina I. Ukwuoma (Nigeria) – Chair
• Jewru Bandeh (Gambia) – (Vice Chair)
• Frederick Nnoma-Addison (Ghana) – Member
• Nana Theo Ngongang (Cameroon) – Member
• Mamadou Ibra Sy, Ph.D (Mauritania) – Member
• Elias Woldu (Ethiopia) – Member
• Jean Bailey, Ph.D. (United States) – Member
• Olaolu S. Adewole (Nigeria) – Member
• Sarian S. Bouma (Sierra Leone) – Member
• Kate Atabong Njeuma (Cameroon) – Member
• Alfred M. Nkere (Democratic Rep. of Congo) – Member
• Pastor Bola Idowu, Dr.PH (Nigeria) – Member
• Leticia Enos (Ghana) – Member
• Mohamed Lamrana Bah (Sierra Leone) – Member
• Anu A. Esuola, DDS (Nigeria) – Member
• Suna Genevieve Nallo (Sierra Leone) -Member
• Joshua Muli Nzueni (Kenya) – Member

Event Pictures

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on the Republic of Mauritius’ National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
March 11, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate all citizens of Mauritius as you celebrate the 46th year of your independence on March 12. The American people share your pride in the long-established democratic traditions that form the bedrock of our nations’ friendship. Mauritius has embraced the principles of democratic governance, economic reform, and social tolerance that serve as a model to others around the world. The United States appreciates Mauritius’ support for efforts to promote regional security and economic development. As you celebrate with family and friends, we wish the people of Mauritius continued peace and prosperity.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Secretary Kerry Issues Statement on the Republic of Ghana’s National Day

Department of State
Washington, DC
March 5, 2014

On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I send best wishes to the people of Ghana as you celebrate 57 years of independence on March 6.

I saw the strength of our partnership firsthand when I met with President Mahama at the UN General Assembly last year. Our partnership is strong because we share a commitment to democratic values, the rule of law, and economic development.

Together, we are translating those shared values into action.

Through President Obama’s Young African Leaders, Power Africa, and Partnership for Growth initiatives, the United States is advancing Ghana’s millennium development goals.

We are improving global security through our support for peacekeeping operations.

We are also working together closely on human rights, trade and maritime security.

On this special anniversary, I wish all Ghanaians a healthy, joyful, and festive celebration. The United States looks forward to building on our strong partnership in the years to come.

State of Maryland to Host Inaugural African Legislative Night in Annapolis

Annapolis, Maryland
March 5, 2014
Source: Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives

The state of Maryland will host its Inaugural African Legislative Night on Wednesday March 12, 2014 at the House of Delegates Office Building. 6 Bladen Street, Room 180, Annapolis, Maryland 21401. The event will be hosted by the Governor’s Commission on African Affairs and aims at celebrating the dynamic, growing African community in the state of Maryland. It will also be an opportunity for African immigrants and nationals to interact with elected and appointed officials, and discuss legislation impacting their community.

Event registration is required through this site.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Two Africans Among 2014 International Women of Courage Award Winners

Photo courtesy of voanews.com Story courtesy of AMIP News

Washington DC
March 4, 2014

Mali’s Fatimata Touré and Zimbabwe’s Beatrice Mtetwa are among this year’s International Women of Courage Award Winners. First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama, Ambassador-At-Large for Global Women’s Issues Catherine Russell, Dr. Vanessa Kerry, and Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Heather Higginbottom attended the awards ceremony held at the State Department.

Established in 2007, the annual Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award honors women around the globe who have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk. This is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide.

Ms. Fatimata Touré – Mali (back row, extreme right)

During the terrorist occupation of northern Mali, Fatimata Touré channeled her 22 years of experience advocating for women’s health rights to fight resolutely against countless acts of gender-based violence. When extremists attacked the hospital in Gao, she assisted victims in relocating and finding much needed safety and care. As the conflict ensued, Mme. Touré provided counseling and shelter for victims of rape and forced-marriage and publicly denounced perpetrators of gender-based violence. Her actions drew threats from the extremists and, even as her own home was under assault, Mme. Touré hid beneath her bed and used her mobile phone to continue documenting acts of violence against women. Her limitless courage ensured that victims received medical care and that the abuse they suffered was not forgotten during the conflict. As the current head of the Regional Forum on Reconciliation and Peace in Gao, she continues advocating for justice and women’s rights.

Ms. Beatrice Mtetwa – Zimbabwe (front row, extreme right)

Beatrice Mtetwa is Zimbabwe’s most prominent human rights lawyer. For more than 20 years she has fought against injustice, defended press freedom, and upheld the rule of law, accepting difficult cases that other lawyers have declined for fear of political reprisal. Despite experiencing harassment, assault, violence, and arrest, she remains a steadfast advocate for human rights, women’s equality and advancement, and social justice. Mtetwa defended two previous International Women of Courage awardees, Jestina Mukoko and Jenni Williams. She has also represented politicians, civil society activists, and local and international journalists including British and American correspondents arrested while covering Zimbabwe’s 2008 election.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Kenya’s Lupita Nyong’o Wins Best Supporting Actress at ’14 Academy Awards

Picture by Kevin Winter / Getty Images
Story – AP / AMIP News

Sunday March 2, 2014
Los Angeles, California

After a whirlwind of awards seasons, attention for Lupita Nyong’o ended with a best supporting actress award at Sunday’s Oscars. The “12 Years a Slave” star honored the character that put her on stage. For the same role she also won the Screen Actors Guild and Critics’ Choice Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in addition to receiving nominations for the Golden Globe and the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress.

“Thank you to the academy for this incredible recognition. It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is due to so much pain in someone else’s,” she said, referring to Patsey, the tortured slave she played in director Steve McQueen’s wrenching 19th-century drama. She credited McQueen for bringing attention to a dark chapter in American history and the victims of slavery. “I’m certain the dead are standing about you and watching,” she said, a sentiment she expanded on backstage. “I think he’s really honored a people that really have been unsung for a really long time in doing this film,” she said. Nyong’o, who has talked about learning as a child to accept her dark-skinned beauty, said she hoped her success would inspire other youngsters.

“When I look down at this golden statue, may it remind me and every child, no matter where you’re from, your dreams are valid,” she said.

Lupita Amondi Nyong’o is a Mexican born, Kenyan actress and music video director who studied at Yale School of Drama.
Nyong’o had been considered a front-runner in a category that included Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”; Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”; Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”; and June Squibb, “Nebraska.” Among other awards, Nyong’o claimed a Spirit Award on Saturday, the day she turned 31.

But she appeared shocked when her name was called Sunday. She bent over in her seat, then rose, still looking stunned, as the audience erupted with cheers and a standing ovation. “No, no, no,” she said backstage, when asked if she could have imagined receiving the honor. “I’m a little dazed. I can’t believe this is in my hands. I can’t believe this is real life.” Unlike supporting actor winner Jared Leto, who passed his Oscar for “Dallas Buyers Club” around to a roomful of reporters, Nyong’o cradled her trophy close to her elegant, ice-blue Prada gown. She referred to it as her “young man” at one point.

Nyong’o, who was born in Mexico and is of Kenyan descent, was honored for her film debut. Her parents are prominent in their own right: Her father, Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, was an advocate for democratic reform in 20th-century Kenya and is now a senator, while her mother, Dorothy Nyong’o, is the director of the Africa Cancer Foundation. She has said her parents are taking her fame in stride, but acknowledged a special moment with her father Sunday. “I saw him after I got this young man, and he hugged me and he said, ‘Thank you,’” she said.

The 86th Academy Awards aired on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.