East African Community and European Union never ending ratification

With no agreement for the Economic Partnership between the European Union (EU) and the East African Community (EAC) in sight, the biggest question at this time is what is keeping the individual countries from finding common ground and if that could be expected soon.

EACEU-800x500_c

Source: Global Risk Insights

The region-to-region comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) seems to be a controversial topic. Even if there is no media coverage on the European continent. The  goals are aimed to strengthen the relationship between the EU and the EAC and drive forward development. The EPA agreement is centered around the trade of goods.

The main objective is to achieve a duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market and to open the EAC market gradually. This means that an equivalent of 82.6% imports from the EU will be liberalized and there will be no changes on the import taxes for the next 25 years.

The EU has been trying to work on a ratification of the EPA since 2007. It seems most countries have a common opinion on the trade and are all ready to contribute to the increasing business relations in East Africa. The further points about economical, health and rural development will all be run with existing EU funds that do not affect the individual countries of the EU directly.

The countries of EAC have made attempts since 2007 to  gain access to the European market. Kenya and Rwanda succeeded first with the EPA consolidating their commercial position. On the other hand, it brought disadvantages. Kenya belongs to middle-income economies so it will be charged by higher taxes if the  EAC does not sign the EPA and it will influence Kenya’s economy negatively.

Tanzania is still considering the pros and cons of signing the deal by running a study first but there are two countries that oppose the request. Without a study Tanzania will not sign the trade deal with the EU,with one of its important European business partner being the United Kingdom.The EPA seems inconvenient after Brexit and the deal could damage relations with China Tanzania’s main Investor.

The EU imposed trade sanctions against Burundi that caused civil unrest and unwillingness to make a deal. The latest country be involved in the intergenerational process was  South Sudan.

Uganda is also preparing to sign however prefers to wait for all countries of the EAC. Permanent Secretary, ministry of Trade, Amb. Julius Onen, said: “We are not going to allow EPA to disfranchise EAC. What is happening now is that this issue (EPA) is being blown out of proportion by a group of people.” it is not the end of the world for the EAC region. “Uganda does not want to see a weakened EAC, this is why as a country we are trying to see that we are all pulling from the same direction.”

Regarding the signing of the trade treaty between the EU and the EAC, the UN think tank has warned the EAC not to sign the deal. This is because they have made studies to look up how the deal would favor the East African countries nonetheless this deal would not have a positive impact in the trade of this countries. “UNECA says the removal of taxes on capital goods from Europe will cause the EAC accumulated revenue losses of $1.15 billion per year.”

To conclude, several countries of the EAC are still examining the characteristics, advantages and disadvantages of the trade. Some of them,  disagree due to higher taxes and stronger competition from the EU, it is a complex agreement that will still be negotiated for several years.

Source: CTGN AFrica

Need for human resources in primary care at sub-Saharan Africa.

Why there is an inverse primary-care law in Africa

Many sub-Saharan African countries are trying to develop ambitious plans for universal primary care, but they are failing to deliver them because of human-resource problems. For example, half of the health-workers posts were vacant in Uganda in urban and rural health centers in 2009.

Solidarmed picture of a Mission Hopital in Zimbawe

An analysis carried out by interviewing health workers born sub-Saharan Africa showed the reasons why they had not taken up these vacant posts in their own country. Instead of staying in their own country to deliver primary care, they have migrated to Europe (Belgium, the UK or Austria) or to Southern African countries. Some interesting arguments done by these migrated doctors and nurses are explained in the next lines.

The three main reasons given for choosing not to work in primary care in sub-Saharan Africa were a poor working environment, difficult living experiences, and a poor career path. The professionals explain in stark human terms that there is such an intractable gap between government aspirations and the actual provision of effective primary-care services in sub-Saharan Africa. The fact that there is a shortage of medicines and equipment, an unmanageable workload and no professional support affects the quality of the primary-care.

Many respondents had concerns about personal security in primary-care settings, and also about living conditions for them and their family (“There are no big schools”, said a doctor from Guinea). Another reason for migrating is the lack of opportunities to earn a good salary.

Although these difficulties are not restricted to the primary-care sector, they affect it most acutely, because of the exposure to poor social opportunities, personal insecurity, and the poor working conditions in the deprived areas where the primary services are placed.

Face of Malawi picture of an African hospital

It is known that it is not a new problem. It was in the UK in the 60`s, date when universal health coverage was getting introduced, that there was a failure in providing primary care in the areas where it was more necessary. More recently, in India and China, it is shown that good salaries to doctors is not as important as having good clinical resources (access to diagnostic and treatment facilities, incentive to work) to achieve effective universal health coverage.

It´s a pity to say that the general opinion of the 65 health workers who sit the interview was that effective primary care was not going to happen in most of sub-Saharan Africa. They strongly believe that clinicians are not going to work in the conditions of the actual primary care (which are even getting worse as the need for effective primary care increases). This is why the situation could be called the inverse primary care law.

The experts said that ”The policy discourse on universal health care in Africa has to focus on providing the human resources to staff and deliver primary care effectively” Some solutions could change poor working environments and career paths in primary care, and that will be the point for many health workers to return to its own country. Not only to have medicines or better buildings with medical facilities, but also better connections between villages and cities to have access to complete diagnosis and treatments even in the smallest areas. This kind of improvements would let primary health-workers cure properly, and they would find its place in sub-Saharan Africa.  Until some measures won´t be taken, the poorest areas are condemned to receive poor care or no care at all.

Hope for the future in Democratic Republic of Congo

On the 27th of October a peacekeeper, member of the United Nations, was killed by the military Congolese group M23.

 A  UN peacekeeper was appointed with other 3000 soldiers to intervene under the UN mandate in order to protect the civilian population in Congo from the rebels. These rebels are part of the M23 movement. This movement was formed after peace accords were made between the DR of Congo a the CNDP (National Congress for Defense  of the People) which was a militiar group. In these accords the CNDP was supposed to join the national army  but the treaty was never put into effect so these rebels decided to create the military group M23,  the date of the treaty (March 23 of 2009).

       The United Nations relationship with the Congo issue has existed since 1999. When the 1279 resolution established the permanent mission called MONUC. The main objective of the MONUC was to restore peace in the region after the second Congolese War. This war ended in 2003 but the mission has continued to face the rebel movement.

M23The M23 have recently wanted to take control of East Congo, where there are places like Goma. Such places are rich in minerals that can be very helpful to the rebels. But the rebel movement is also suspected to be helped by the Democratic Republic of Congo neighbors such as Uganda and Rwanda. Some former members of the movement have accused Rwanda of giving them weapons and ammunition. The UN declared last year  that both Uganda and Rwanda have given the rebels intelligence, political and military help.

In order to keep order in east Congo  the United Nations started to work with the Congo Government conducting military operations like the one in 2011.

Martin Kobler

Martin Kobler

Such operations have led to thousands deaths. But there is hope according to a representative of the United Nations, Martin Kobler. According to Kobler the recuperation of Kibumba and Rutshuru (25th of October 2013) and the seize of Rumangabo that was recently in the hands of the rebels means that the end of the rebel group, M23 is close. Kobler insists that the rebels have abandoned there strategic positions and that the people are spreading their voice. “The people want peace, the people want to end this war”.

The end of the M23 is a combination of efforts. Without the teamwork of the United Nations, the Congalese government and of course of individuals like the Tanzanian peacekeeper hope for the Congo future would not exist.

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/12/15/390095/united-nations-human-rights-commissioner-calls-for-end-to-all-persecution-of-lgbt-people/ http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/01/30/414165/un-secretary-general-defends-lgbt-rights-in-africa/?mobile=nc http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/our-work/fighting-discrimination/uganda/?gclid=CMXervH3z68CFQHcfAod9R45HA http://vibeghana.com/2012/04/24/gambia-says-no-to-aid-money-tied-to-gay-rights/

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/12/15/390095/united-nations-human-rights-commissioner-calls-for-end-to-all-persecution-of-lgbt-people/ http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2012/01/30/414165/un-secretary-general-defends-lgbt-rights-in-africa/?mobile=nc http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/our-work/fighting-discrimination/uganda/?gclid=CMXervH3z68CFQHcfAod9R45HA http://vibeghana.com/2012/04/24/gambia-says-no-to-aid-money-tied-to-gay-rights/

The feelings that one has for another cannot be questioned, can it?

The question of homosexuality is one that has been on the minds of all for generations and the last couple of years has seen the western world embrace it to a certain degree. Even though in most countries their union may not be recognized as a marriage but a civil partnership, it has become a common phenomenon that is not scrutinized as much. This can also be attributed to the degree to which the world had become so secular.

With Africa always behind in comparison to the Western World and being such a religious continent the theme of homosexuality is not only seen as a sin, however this sinful act has now been manifest from a spiritual level of being condemned to hell to being criminalized. In Uganda the law explicitly states that engaging in homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, intersex and transgender (LGBT ) will result in an individual facing a lifetime of imprisonment. Such individuals also face ‘correctional rape’ and may be killed by members of society as a form of punishment. Individuals who kill as a form of punishment are also not prosecuted because they are doing the will of God or serving justice.

Numerous people in Africa forge bearded relationships to conceal their real sexual orientation, hence numerous women get married to men that they do not love, with both parties knowingly aware that one or both of them are attracted to the opposite sex. They do this a sign of respect to their families; fear of disownment, death and also for religious reasons (which they are going against).

In the case of African women, most of them are usually introduced into the whole system of lesbianism, they are not necessary attracted to women; they just enjoy having intercourse with women. In the case of such women who are introduced to the system they feel neglected by their husbands or partners who are usually busy with other commitments and as a result of this their friend(s) may introduce them to lesbianism. There is no question that some women do fall in love with other women. However some also become lesbians to avoid becoming pregnant, or for the sheer fact that women understand them better.

The men usually are aware of the fact that they are attracted to other men during their teenage years, but live in denial. Most men go to the grave with the secret due to their confusion or engage in the act if they are certain about it. However those who have the opportunity to travel to the Western World come to understand their feelings with the help of others, whereas due to the advancement a lot of media coverage focuses both on homo and heterosexual themes explored with the numerous characters that are used.

The theme of religion and the socialization factor are very important components in regards to how Homosexuality is viewed in Africa, and because it goes against the norm, such individuals are discriminated against and treated as second class citizens. This has been addressed by the UN General Secretary, Ki- Moon who stresses on the importance of confronting this form of discrimination in Africa. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton highlighted the importance of gay rights to be viewed as human rights all over the world. There have been threats to also remove aid  by the West from such regions if gay rights are not observed and individuals are discriminated against.

Although the United Nations Human Rights Commissioner called for an end to the prosecution of LGBT individuals, how far will this message be absorbed and be incorporated into the cultural values of African people to ensure that such individuals feel free to love, live without fear of being judged. The freedom of choice applies to all; hence it is one’s choice what their sexual orientation should be and not necessarily society’s.

Yerno de Presidente intenta sobornar a líder Opositor en Uganda

Francis Atugonza, líder del Foro para el Cambio Democrático en Uganda, acusa al yerno del presidente Yoweri Museveni de haberle ofrecido la cantidad de 476.000 euros para que renuncie a las elecciones nacionales que se llevaran a cabo en Uganda el próximo mes.

El alcalde Atugonza comento que Odrek Rwabogo realizo la propuesta en un restaurante y le pidió formar parte de la campaña del presidente Museveni, aunque no existan pruebas de dichas acusaciones, Atugonza cuenta con mensajes de textos enviados desde el teléfono móvil de Rwabogo, quien negó toda acusación aunque admite haberse reunido con Atugonza para almorzar. Atugonza menciono a la agencia Reuters que el yerno del mandatario le ofreció varias cosas como cargos en el gobierno y la cantidad mencionada anteriormente, y declaro haber rechazado dicha cantidad, y subestimándola posteriormente por no ser suficiente para convencer a su familia, también acusa a otro de sus hijos por haberlo llamado por teléfono diciéndole que el presidente Museveni haría cualquier cosa con tal de convencerle. Leer más de esta entrada