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The Herald – Zimbabwe
By: Donald Rushambwa
Over the years, the government of the People’s Republic of China has implemented counter-terrorism and extremism measures in the autonomous region of Xinjiang.
These measures have proven to be effective and developmental to the people of Xinjiang who had deeply suffered from terrorism and extremism for the past two decades.
Some of these measures have managed to bring peace, security and development to the region and developing countries can borrow such measures for the development of their countries.
Vocational training in re-education camps has proven to be developmental to the region as it has managed to bring peace and security.
Economic development can also be attributed to this initiative as the people who attend the training come out with special skills which they can use to sustain their livelihoods and develop the economy of the region.
Economic emancipation and reduction of poverty is one of President Xi Jinping’s millennial goals.
In 2015, President Xi set a deadline of 2020 to eradicate poverty in China, with 850 million Chinese taken out of extreme poverty in the past 40 years.
According to State Councillor and Foreign Affairs Minister Wang Yi, in the past 64 years since the region was established, the local economy has grown by 80 times and tens of thousands of local people have been lifted out of poverty.
Likewise, the Zimbabwean Government, in the past, has initiated similar projects in an effort of bringing peace, security and development to the nation.
In 2001, it introduced the National Youth Service, targeting youths from the ages of 10 to 30.
Its stated purpose was to transform and empower youths for nation-building through life skills training and leadership development.
It also sought to inculcate national values, ethos and ethics into the youths, thereby bringing peace, security and development to the nation.
To this day, many vocational training facilities have been opened to help Zimbabweans earn a living through various skills.
Such training facilities include Msasa Vocational Training Centre, Kaguvi Vocational Training Centre and Chitungwiza Vocational Training Centre.
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region is largely Muslim and because of this initiative, the region has enjoyed harmony amongst its different ethnic groups.
The Chinese government has done a good job in not marginalising any minority group and has taken further steps to help them achieve religious freedom by erecting several mosques in the region for those of Muslim faith.
According to the Foreign Ministry of China, there are now over 28 000 religious sites in Xinjiang, and close to 30 000 clerical personnel. Both figures have increased 10-fold compared with several decades ago.
Nowadays, every 530 Muslim people in Xinjiang have a mosque on average, which is higher than many Muslim countries.
In Zimbabwe, the Muslim faith has a limited number of believers compared to other countries in Southern Africa.
The Muslim community accounts for 0.5 percent of the total population, with Christianity being the dominant religion with 84.1 percent of the total population in Zimbabwe.
However, Zimbabwe guarantees freedom of religion or belief. Section 60 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe stipulates that every person has the right to freedom of religion or belief.
The Government of Zimbabwe supports all religious sectors in any possible way. When a new city/town/residence is being planned, there is always land that is reserved for church/mosque construction.
Zimbabwe can draw lessons from China that helps its religions to build infrastructure that is vital for them to conduct their clerical services. Allocating land alone is not enough as religious sectors rely on their congregants for funds to build the infrastructure.
Loan facilities by the Government should be put in place for the religious sector so that they can be an upward trajectory in construction of religious shrines so that citizens can exercise their right fully.
Citizens Learning the National Language
In these training centres the residents of Xinjiang are taught Mandarin. Mandarin is the official language of the People’s Republic of China.
It is widely used across China and other regions of the World. It is fast becoming the most widely used language after English, French and Spanish.
The move by the Chinese government to teach the residents of Xinjiang Mandarin is developmental to the region as the beneficiaries of these lectures will be able to communicate better with other regions in China.
This will also be advantageous to them as they will be able to now be employed outside Xinjiang because they can now effectively communicate.
Learning a widely used language is of paramount importance as various opportunities arise by virtue of you knowing how to converse in that language.
China is taking its business to every part of the world and being able to speak Mandarin is an added advantage on one’s Curriculum Vitae.
Zimbabwe has also undertaken a similar drive in teaching Shona and Ndebele, Zimbabwe’s national local languages, to all its primary and high school students.
While English remains the official language, Shona and Ndebele remain the widely used local dialects.
The Government has implemented these measures to preserve the language and culture of the country.
This is a positive initiative as it promotes national ethos and heritage. Our language and culture determine who we are as a people and introducing it to schoolchildren makes them patriotic citizens from a tender age.
A variety of thematic issues can arise from the analysis of Xinjiang and the measures it has been implementing in the past decade to counter terrorism.
Some of these issues include the importance or disadvantage of surveillance on citizens, freedom of association, human rights, global counter-terrorism efforts and the impact of sanctions on the development of a nation.
The New Times – Rwanda
By: Fred K. Nkusi
Over the past decade, tech companies have risen to become the biggest in the world, all while operating with little formal, structured government oversight.
But this lack of oversight has come at a cost. But in Europe, today, they have introduced a couple of instruments to regulate the activities and services of tech companies.
Since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), big tech firms are compelled to make significant changes to their privacy policies.
And its real effects are still to come. In some instances where these tech companies have not been compliant they have faced the rigours of the law.
As of now, Facebook and Google have been incredibly victims of EU penalties, resulting from court decisions.
For example, on October 3, 2019, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued its judgment in ‘Eva Glawischnig-Piesczek v. Facebook Ireland Ltd’., interpreting the EU Electronic Commerce Directive, where the EU top Court ruled that host providers, such as Facebook, may be ordered to remove or block access to information which it stores, the content of which is identical or equivalent to the content of information previously declared as unlawful.
In addition, it may be required to remove or block access to such information on a worldwide basis within the framework of the relevant international law.
For Google, on 24 September 2019, the EU Court (CJEU) ruled that de-referencing (measures discouraging internet users from gaining access) by Google should be limited to EU Member States’ versions of its search engine with some important qualifications and when Google receives a request for de-referencing relating to a link to a web page on which sensitive data are published, a balance must be sought between the fundamental rights of the person requesting such de-referencing and those of internet users potentially interested in that information.
Google has already faced the issue related to the right to be forgotten before the CJEU in the landmark ‘Google Spain’ where the court ruled that a search engine operator can be obliged to remove links to information about an individual from its list of results. This decision led to a large number of requests from individuals to remove such links and notably four complaints to the CNIL [a France’s Data Protection Authority] from individuals following the rejections by Google of their requests for de-referencing.
Likewise, there’s growing clamour in Africa—by businesses, lawmakers, regulators and internet users—calling for big tech companies regulation in Africa.
So, what is the right way to regulate the tech industry?
The AU as well as Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have regulatory and policy instruments regulating activities and services of tech giants, namely Facebook, Google, among others.
However, African RECs are at varying stages in regulating the ICT industry.
Importantly, for instance, ECOWAS, in 2010, adopted a ‘Supplementary Act on Personal Data Protection’, which is the only binding data protection instrument in Africa.
At country level, for example, in Rwanda, the law n°24/2016 of 18/06/2016 governing information and communication technologies establishes a framework for ICT policy and regulation.
Particularly in the case of Facebook, as earlier noted, the foregoing ICT law, under Article 190, paragraph 5, the Internet Service Providers (ISPs)—including social media and phone companies—are under obligation to remove or disable access to the electronic record, which is potentially questionable, it has stored upon receiving a ‘take-down notice’.
What is ‘take-down notice’? It is a process operated by online hosts in response to court orders or allegations that content is illegal. Content is removed by the host following notice. Notice and take down is widely operated in relation to defamation and/or libel and other illegal content.
When the hosting company or platform receives a notice, it usually removes or blocks access to the infringed material to avoid incurring liability for it.
Major platforms such as eBay, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube provide standard web-based forms for the submitting the notice.
These forms are straightforward to complete, but it is important that all the requested information is provided to reduce the chances of having your notice rejected.
As such, social media, like Facebook, can be notified of any objectionable or harmful content to remove or disable access to that content as expeditiously as possible. However, like in many jurisdictions, Rwandan ICT law does not require the host provider, or ISP, to monitor generally information which it illegally stored in its wires.
Given that data privacy is an integral part of fundamental rights, the regulatory and legal landscape surrounding the use of data, and data privacy, is rapidly becoming more complex.
As Africa is on the right path to digitalizing various activities and services, regulating tech companies, which play a pivotal role in this industry, must be alive and kicking.
As earlier noted, the EU General Data Protection Regulation laid the groundwork for others to follow in passing their own versions of stricter data privacy laws.
At the African level, a similar commitment for protecting data privacy is of paramount importance.
These tech giants, which control and process personal information, must comply with data protection principles.
Liberia: The Case for Private Sector Investment in and Drive of the Agriculture Sector in Liberia
By Wadei Powell
Liberia has some of the most favorable climate and fertile soil for agriculture. Agriculture is currently the primary livelihood for more than 60 percent of Liberia's population (believe it or not), mostly in cassava (predominantly), rubber, rice, oil palm, cocoa, or sugarcane production.
The main cash crops yielding the highest foreign exchange are rubber (dominant accounting for 17.5 percent of the total exports in 2017), cocoa, and timber. An estimated 30,000 people are employed by commercial rubber farms (largely Firestone, LAC, & MARCO) and up to 60,000 smallholder households are involved in growing rubber trees (mostly as out-growers for sale to the larger commercial farms). Another significant cash crop is oil palm, which has traditionally been produced for the domestic market but recently, there has been considerable interest from both smallholders and large investors in expanding export production. There is also increased investment in the rehabilitation of cocoa cooperatives and smallholder farms.
Food crop production such as peppers, okra, onions, tomatoes, squash, grains, tomatoes, banana, mangoes, oranges, pineapples, etc., all food crops that are in high demand throughout the country all year round, could readily be accomplished through lowland cultivation and low-cost irrigation.
Our coastline, which spans about 580 km has abundant freshwater seafood varieties including crab, lobster, shrimp, tilapia, tuna, shark, croaker, and barracuda.
In spite of all of this, overall agricultural productivity in Liberia is extremely low, resulting in large scale import of our food and making us vulnerable to global food price volatility. Additionally, gains to be earned from food export is conversely low. Various research indicates that the major contributors to such low output are a poorly integrated sector which lacks basic infrastructure such farm-to-market roads and value chain addition through processing, manufacturing, marketing (aggregators), agro-implements (equipment), agro-inputs (fertilizers, pest control), agro-logistics (storage/warehousing, drying methods, transportation, packaging), that would allow for sales in all seasons. Another obstacle is the lack of capital and professional expertise to increase farm productivity. Additionally, uncertainty with regard to land tenure is a significant challenge.
According to the latest statistics from Trading Economics, "Imports in Liberia increased to US$97.40 million in April from US#66.70 million in March of 2019. Imports in Liberia averaged US$67 million from 2003 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of US$219.06 million in January of 2015 and a record low of US$3.40 million in August of 2003." The report goes on to further state that, "Liberia's main imports are: fuel (35 percent of total imports), machinery (25 percent) foodstuffs and manufactured goods. Liberia imports mainly from North America (32 percent of total imports) and the Middle East (28 percent)."
For those who know me, you may be asking, why this sudden interest in agriculture? The answer is simple. While it is very easy to see all of these challenges as insurmountable obstacles, and I can definitely see how and why, I instead would like to see them as opportunities for agribusiness investment, for both domestic and international markets, through private and development financing. I've been researching and exploring avenues in this area and yesterday a colleague spurred on a conversation in a chatroom that got me thinking and so I decided to delve more into his question to get some factual information and what I found was astonishing, to say the least!
According to World Bank statistics, "In 2017, the top remittance receiving countries--in dollar terms--were India, China, the Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria, and Egypt. As a share of gross domestic product (GDP) for 2017, the top recipients were smaller countries-- the Kyrgy Republic, Tonga, Tajikistan, Haiti, Nepal, and Liberia." The report goes on to say that, "Remittances represent a particularly large share of the GDP of Liberia (27 percent) " and that "... even these figures probably underestimate the total amount received, since informal remittances are rarely included in official remittance data." Following up, statistics from Country Economy show that the GDP for Liberia in 2017 was US$3,284 million.
Based on the above, this means that the 2017 "formal" remittances to Liberia was US$886.7 million. One may also infer that the inclusion of "informal" remittances could possibly increase that figure to well over US$1 billion! Unfortunately, I could not find any data that disaggregated the remittances by type but, for argument sake, let's allocate 25% of that figure to personal remittances. This would mean that approximately $250 Million USD was sent to Liberia in 2017 from the diaspora. (Now I'm no economist and I know all the "economists" will have a lot to say about this assumption, but I'm going with this anyway.)
Using this flawed but sensible layman's analysis, I would like to propose the following for consideration: If we were to direct some of this money towards private sector investment in the agriculture sector, specifically food crop, we could be well on our way to jump-starting the sector, increasing our domestic food production capacity, creating a food export channel, and creating economic independence and a private sector driven economy.
In support of this proposition, a 2010 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) study also suggests that, "Given the resource constraints of governments in SSA and the tight budgetary conditions in many donor countries, the private sector, both domestic and foreign, has a potentially important role to play in financing agricultural investments in the region."
What are your thoughts on this proposition??? Am I totally off the mark? Or is this something that is possible. Are there other options to look at?