Trump Information-sphere – Debunking with data; Insights From Fact-checkers Around The World

CRIMSON TAZVINZWA, AIWA!NO!|EJC|Ever wondered if a politician’s claims really add up? Or perhaps you read a news story which seemed a little fishy? Armed with data, fact-checking organisations across the globe work tirelessly to help separate these facts from fiction, and any misnomers in-between.

To find out more about debunking with data, European Journalism Centre (EJC) gave subscribers to their data newsletter access to a global group of fact-checkers for an exclusive; “Ask Me Anything“.

How about starting with the most recent one; US President Trump’s UN LIE of the ‘century and centuries’ to come;  “In less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country,” line which drove the listeners into murmurs and laughter – mockery.2018-09-26

The world just laughed out loud at Donald Trump. That day, during the president’s address to the United Nations General Assembly, the audience laughed when Trump boasted that “my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.”

As soon as the words left Trump’s mouth, a ripple of laughter traveled through the crowd and grew as Trump reacted to the guffaws

An unnecessary and embarrassing spectacle at that; if you ask me. Of course the humongous CLAIM was debunked as quickly as it was uttered; by the laughter of the audience and the world; also later on; hours later if I remember correctly, by Donald Trump himself;  

On the one hand, that is a pretty even-keeled response from someone as tantrum-prone as Trump.

Reader question: Can you share some good examples or best cases where data has been successfully used for fact-checking?

Anim van Wyk, Chief Editor, Africa CheckGood data aids good fact-checking, which need to point out exactly what the data can and can’t tell you. The more limitations, the less certain the answer becomes.

For example, it’s easy to use data from the World Health Organization’s Global Ambient Air Quality database to rank cities according to their pollution levels. But the fine print shows that these entries aren’t comparable. This is due to differences in the methods and quality of measurements – and the fact that some cities suspected to be the most polluted don’t report data to the WHO.

Samar Halarnkar, Editor, Factchecker.in: Data are [we never use the singular!] the foundation of fact-checking.

One example: The Indian telecommunications minister announced that within a year of taking charge, his administration ensured that the government-run telecoms behemoth, BSNL, had turned a operating profit, after seven years of losses, and had added subscribers. After a meticulous examination of data–including right-to-information requests–we found that operating profits did not mean the company had turned profitable; indeed net losses had increased, and the minister had, conveniently, not mentioned that more subscribers left than were added.

After a new right-wing government took over in 2014, there were many reports of lynchings, especially of minorities, based on violence related to cows, considered holy by many Hindus. The ruling party and its adherents insisted these were isolated incidents, were never reported before and were not related to the extreme version on Hinduism that they promoted. A debate raged nationwide, poisoning politics and society, made worse by the absence of data–national crime records did not register crimes related to bovines. At Factchecker.in, we created a database of each such crime from 2010 onwards, so that crime patterns could be compared with those after 2014, when the new government took office. Our database–now widely quoted in India and abroad–clearly shows that the overwhelming majority of the victims of such lynchings are minorities, in particular Muslims, and most violence has occurred in states run by India’s ruling party.

Image: Factchecker.in’s interactive database of cow-related violence in India.

Matt Martino, Online Editor, RMIT ABC Fact Check: Politicians in Australia often like to speak about records, both when attacking opponents and spruiking their achievements. A famous example in our unit was when the ruling Coalition Foreign Minister said that when the Opposition Labor Party were last in government, they bequeathed the “worst set of financial accounts” in Australia’s history to their incoming government. This particular fact-check took several months of work sourcing data from the history books on debt and deficit. We were able to find data on federal government surpluses and deficits, plus gross debt, stretching back to 1901, and on net debt handed over to incoming governments back to the 1970s. It’s a great example of where a claimant has used the raw number in place of a percentage, which puts the figure in historical context. In this case, experts told us that these figures must be expressed as a percentage of GDP to enable historical comparisons. Ultimately, we found that the Foreign Minister’s claim was wrong, as there were far larger (as a percentage of GDP) inherited deficits recorded during WWII, far larger gross debt inherited in the same period, and far larger net debt bequeathed to a government during the 1990s.

Dinda Purnamasari, Senior Researcher, Tirto.id: Data is the soul of fact-checking. But not just data, more importantly, the context of data itself is what makes our fact-check more reliable.

First, on 2 May 2017, Jake Van Der Kamp, an economist, shared an opinion entitled “Sorry President Widodo, GDP rankings are economists’ equivalent of fake news”. At that time, Kamp quoted a statement from President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) that Indonesia’s economic growth was third in the world, after India and China.

‘GDP is an attempt to emulate the corporate world by putting money numbers on performance but… with GDP you get no equivalents of the corporate balance sheet or profit and loss account and no notes to the accounts’“Indonesia’s economic growth is the third in the world, after India and China,” said Indonesian president Joko Widodo.

Third in the world, is it? What world is that? Within Asia alone I count 13 countries with higher reported economic growth rates than Indonesia’s latest 5.02 per cent.

They are India (7.5), Laos (7.4), Myanmar (7.3), Cambodia (7.2), Bangladesh (7.1), Philippines (6.9), China (6.7) Vietnam (6.2), Pakistan (5.7), Mongolia (5.5), Palau (5.5), Timor-Leste (5.5) and Papua New Guinea (5.4).

But of course President Widodo’s Indonesia is a very populous country with 261 million people. We cannot really compare it with pipsqueak places like Timor or Palau. Thus let’s draw the line at the 200 million people or more.

This gives us six countries across the world and, in terms of economic growth, Indonesia is in the bottom half of these six behind India, China and Pakistan. Try it at a cut-off of 100 million people or more and you still get no luck. Bottom half again.

Way to go, Joko. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story. We’ll make a journalist of you yet.

 

After this opinion became an issue in Indonesia, Tirto.id decided to verify the data that had been used by Jokowi. We looked at data from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and based on that we concluded that Indonesia was not in the third position using general criteria, but instead ranks third among BRICS and high populated countries.

Image: A graph from tirto.id’s fact-check, showing that Indonesia is ranked third out of the BRICS countries.

Second, in early August 2018, the Vice Governor claimed that their policy of odd-even traffic limitation had reduced air pollution in Jakarta. His statement became an issue, and even some media quoted his data. We verified the data using measurements from the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi, dan Geofisika – BMKG) and the US Embassy. Based on those, his statement was incorrect. The average of air pollution in Jakarta was still high and did not appear to be decreasing.

Tania Roettger, Head of Fact-Checking Team, Correctiv/EchtJetzt: Fact-checking only works for statements of fact, not opinions. So ideally there is data available to verify claims. We regularly use statistics about topics like crime, HIV-rates or jobs. If there are statistics on a topic, we will consult them. Of course, statistics differ in quality depending on the topic and who gathers the data.

Earlier this year, we debunked the claim that refugees sent 4.2 Billion Euros to their home countries in 2016. Data from the German federal bank showed that the 4.2 Billion Euros in remittances actually came from all migrants working in Germany for more than a year, not specifically from refugees. Most of the money, 3.4 Billion Euros, went to European countries, followed by Asia (491 Million) and Africa (177 Million).

Image: Correctiv/EchtJetzt rated the statement as four on their seven point rating scale.

Reader question: Have you seen examples where the same data has been manipulated to support both sides of an argument? If so, how do you ensure that your way of looking at the data isn’t biased?

Anim van Wyk: At Africa Check, we’re fond of the quip that some people use statistics “as a drunken man uses lamp posts – for support rather than illumination”. Depending on what you want to prove, you can cherry-pick data which supports your argument.

An example is different stances on racial transformation in South Africa, or the lack thereof. A member of a leftist political party said in 2015 that  “whites are only 10% of the economically active population but occupy more than 60% of the top management positions.” The head of the Free Market Foundation, a liberal think-tank, then wrote: “Blacks in top management… doubled.”

Both were right – but by presenting only a specific slice of the same data source to support their argument.

Again, you need to find out what the data cannot tell you and try to triangulate by using different data sources.

Image: Africa Check’s ‘mostly correct’ verdict means that a claim contains elements of truth but is either not entirely accurate, according to the best evidence publicly available at the time, or needs clarification.

Matt Martino: A great example of this was the debate over “cuts” and “savings” to health and education during the early days of the Abbott Coalition government in Australia. The government argued that they were making a “saving” on health and education by reducing the amount spent on what the previous Labor government had budgeted to spend. Labor, now in opposition, argued that this was in fact a cut. We investigated the figures and found that the Coalition was still spending above inflation so it couldn’t be called a cut, but the projections the Coalition had made about savings were over such a long period of time that it was difficult to say whether they would come to pass. In the end we called the debate “hot air”.

How do we make sure we’re looking at the data the right way? We always rely on several experts in the field to guide our analysis and tell us the right way to interpret the data. We’re not experts in any of the topics we explore, whilst academics can spend their entire careers researching a single subject, so their advice is invaluable.

Dinda Purnamasari: In our experience, many use the right data, but the context is incorrect. Then, the data becomes incredible.

For example, reports that PT Telkom (state-owned telecommunication company in Indonesia) had provided Corporate Social Responsibility funds of around IDR 100 million to a Mosque and, in comparison, IDR 3.5 billion to a church.

We found that the numbers (IDR100 million and IDR3.5 billion) were right, but the purpose of the funding was incorrect. The 100 million was granted by PT Telkom in 2016 to pay the debt from a mosque renovation process. On the other hand, 3.5 billion was granted to renovate the old church, which also became a cultural heritage site in Nusa Tenggara Barat in 2017.

In this case, again, the context of data becomes an important thing in fact-checking. We must understand the methodology and how the data was gathered or estimated, even by double-checking on the ground, if needed.

Tania Roettger: Crime-data is a good example. In 2017 crime rates in Germany went down. But the statistic only shows the crimes that have been reported to the police. This has lead some politicians to claim that crime has not actually gone down and that the statistics are “fake news“.

When the meaning of data is debated, we consult independent experts to collect arguments about how the data can or should be interpreted. Or we look at alternative sources, for example the surveys some German states conduct with people about the crimes they experienced but did not report. (However, the validity of these surveys is disputed.)

Samar Halarnkar: In this era of fake news, data are often used to reinforce biases.

For instance, there was much self congratulation when the government claimed that India’s forests grew by 6,779 sq km over the two years to 2017. We found that this was not wrong because that is what the satellite imagery revealed. But what it did not reveal was that these new “forests” included forests converted to commercial plantations, as well as degraded and fragmented forests, and that the health of these forests was being gauged by satellite imagery with inadequate resolution. Indeed, numerous studies had recorded a steady degradation of forests over nearly a century.

Image: Factchecker.in found that this map of forest coverage was not what it seemed. Credit: India’s state of forest report (ISFR) 2017.

Indian remote-sensing satellites produce images with a resolution of 23.5 metres per pixel, which is too coarse to unequivocally identify small-scale deforestation and cannot distinguish between old-growth forests and plantations. To make that distinction, India needs imagery with resolution of 5.8 m per pixel.

So, all data are not always what they appear. They need to be verified and cross-checked, either with studies, other databases or ground reporting.

Reader question: How do you fact-check stories or statements when data on an issue isn’t available?

Anim van Wyk: It’s really unsatisfactory to use our “unproven” verdict, but sometimes the evidence publicly available at the time “neither proves nor disproves a statement”, as we define this rating. Still, the absence of data doesn’t mean anything goes in making statements of fact about a topic. We then point out what is known and what isn’t.

Samar Halarnkar: If data are not available–or independently verified data are not available–there is only one substitute: Verification through old-fashioned, shoe-leather reporting.

For instance, India’s Prime Minister once claimed that his government had built 425,000 toilets within a year. With no independent verification, this claim was hard to dispute. Obviously, it was impossible to verify that 425,000 new toilets had indeed been built in all of India’s schools. But after sending reporters to conduct random verifications in eight Indian states, it quickly became apparent that the Prime Minister’s claim was–to put it plainly–a lie.

Matt Martino: RMIT ABC Fact Check tests the veracity of claims made by politicians and public figures in Australia. If someone is making a claim to influence policy, our position is that they should have good evidence to back it up. Lack of evidence is no excuse so we try and persevere regardless.

Sure, this often leads to less-exciting verdicts, such as “unverifiable” or “too soon to know” but the verdict is not the be-all-and-end-all of a fact-check. In these situations, we explore what data is out there; we consult experts in the field for their opinion, and we present it to the audience as best we can so they can see how we’ve come to our decision.

Video: More detail on how RMIT ABC Fact Check finds and checks claims.

Dinda Purnamasari: If the data isn’t available, we will place it as unproven, though this flag is unsatisfactory. But, before we conclude the issue as unproven, we still explain the verification steps that we undertook. This is because we want citizens to understand that, when tirto.id places a claims as unproven, it means we could not find the credible source of the information.

As an example, one of our politicians stated that the LRT development cost for 1 KM was USD 8 billion. After we checked reliable and credible sources, and we couldn’t find the information, then we concluded the issue as unproven.

Tania Roettger: “Knife crime on the rise“ is a recent story, but the federal crime statistics do not list crimes committed with knives as a special category. Some states in Germany do, but among them, they differ in what they count as knife crime. That definitely does not make our work easier.

In cases like this, we source as much information for a claim as is available. If it turns out the material is not sufficient to verify or debunk the claim, we list what is known and clearly state what is missing. If there is no convincing tendency we give the rating “unproven”. But it is important to keep in mind that those making a claim also carry a burden of proof – if one makes a statement of fact, it needs to be based on evidence. This is one of the things we’re trying to show with our work.

Reader question: Are there any established guidelines for determining the reliability of a data source? How does your organisation determine which data is appropriate to use?

Samar Halarnkar: We do not have established guidelines. In general, we consider if the data source is reliable. Sometimes, it might not entirely reliable; for example, a government source, in which case we use the data but cross check with experts, independent studies and/or our own checks. Some public databases are largely reliable: for instance, government-run databases on health, farming and education. We do not consider those data that have previously proven to be compromised or are doubtful.

Matt Martino: We don’t have any hard rules around it, but generally the source should be a non-partisan organisation. In Australia, we rely heavily on data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, which is a government organisation which has a reputation for providing objective data on a range of issues. This is an example of a good source.

When considering a source, it’s always pertinent to ask: “what is their agenda?” If their motivations for providing data might influence the data in a partisan way, it’s best to leave it alone. As always, it’s a good idea to consult experts in the field on what is the best source to use in verifying a claim.

Dinda Purnamasari: Since we already know that every data has their own nature, such as context, methodology, etc, we have established a standard for the secondary data that is used. Our first level of the source comes from the Government Statistic Bureau, Ministry/Local Government, company financial reports and the stock exchange. As a second layer, we use world organisations, verified and credible journals, consultants and research companies, as well the national or high reputation news agencies. Although, we have this standard, we also cross-check information by consulting with experts in the field, so that we use the best sources.

Tania Roettger: When we’re investigating a claim, one task is to understand what exactly a given piece of data is able to tell. We establish how and why it was collected, what it contains and it excludes. Usually we note the shortcomings of a statistic in the article. Whenever we are uncertain about the evidence we have gathered, we discuss the issue among our team.

Anim van Wyk: There’s no way round studying the methodology by which the data is collected. This must then be discussed with experts to get their input. And all data sources, even those considered reliable, have limitations, which has to be highlighted.

Reader question: What do you think about the potential of automated fact-checking?

Samar Halarnkar: I am sure it has immense potential, but this requires coding expertise that we do not currently have.

Tania Roettger: There are several ways in which automation could help the fact-checking process: extracting fact-checkable claims from speeches or sourcing relevant statistics and documents from a data-pool, for example. But so far we have not experienced or heard of a tool that would do our work for us.

Image: An overview of out automation could aid fact-checking from Understanding the promise and limits of automated fact-checking, by Lucas Graves.

Matt Martino: It’s an interesting area, but one which is currently undercooked. Parsing language is a big part of what we do at Fact Check, and machines are not yet capable of interpreting a great deal of the nuance in language. That being said, anything that allows greater access to the facts in a debate for audiences would be a good thing.

One area where there is already enormous potential is in searching for and identifying potential claims to check and key data on government website such as Hansard and budget papers.

I think that, like a lot of AI, there’s a long way to go, and we’ll be watching this space intently.

Anim van Wyk: The tools I’ve seen are helpful in monitoring important sources for claims to fact-check, such as transcripts from parliament. But I’m quite hesitant about fact-checks without any human intervention as nuance plays such a big role. The potential of getting it completely wrong when you are the one claiming to be correcting claims is not worth the potential credibility loss, in my opinion.

Dinda Purnamasari: It is very interesting, and could make the fact-checker’s work easier. But, for us, it is still long way to go. But, more importantly, to provide the context to data that I am sure is still hard to do by machine.

Reader Question: What are some of your go-to data tools?

Anim van Wyk: You’t can beat a good old spreadsheet. For illustration purposes, we keep it simple by using Datawrapper.

Samar Halarnkar: We use Tabula for extracting tables from PDFs. For analysis, we depend on Excel/Google Sheets and Tableau depending on the size and type of the dataset. For visualisation, we work primarily with Google Sheets, Datawrapper, Infogram and Tableau. We also use Google My Maps and CartoDB for some maps.

Matt Martino: We use Excel or Google spreadsheets for simple analyses; for more complex ones I use R Studio, which is more powerful and can handle much larger datasets. It requires coding knowledge, but the training is well worth it.

In terms of visualisation, we’ve tried many different platforms throughout the years, but Tableau Public has emerged as our go-to. Its abilities in formatting, design, calculation and visualisation are pretty much unrivalled in my opinion, and we’ve been able to create really interesting and rich visualisations using the platform, like those seen here and here.

Dinda Purnamasari: For analysis, we use excel, SPSS, and other statistical tools. It really depends on the purpose, size and type of our data and analysis. For visualisation, we use adobe illustrator, datawrapper, etc.

Want to participate in future ask me anythings? Sign up to the European Journalism Centre’s data newsletter here.

AFRICA SIERRA LEONE Cancels China-Funded Mamamah Airport

Sierra Leone cancels China-funded Mamamah airport outside capital Free Town- a move that comes at a time when African leaders are waking-up from their deep slumber; beginning to question their ‘Look Far East-CHINA’ political dissertations/policies – tottering towards China’s ‘neo-imperialisation‘ of Africa through shameless debt traps – mega white elephant projects

Former Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping shake hands during a signing ceremony in Beijing's Great Hall of the People on December 1, 2016.
Image copyrightGETTY IMAGESImage captionFormer Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma (left) stepped down from power in April

|BBC|AIWA! NO!|Sierra Leone has cancelled a $400m (£304m) Chinese-funded project to build a new airport outside the capital Freetown.

Former President Ernest Bai Koroma signed the loan agreement with China before he lost elections in March.

At the time, the World Bank and the IMF warned that the project would impose a heavy debt burden.

The decision comes amid concern that many African countries risk defaulting on their debts to China.

Aviation Minister Kabineh Kallon told the BBC that the project, which was due to have been completed in 2022, wasn’t necessary and its current international airport would be renovated instead.

Image result for africa chinese debt
China’s set to have invested $60bn in Africa at the end of 2018

He said the current president, Julius Maada Bio, “didn’t see any need for Mamamah [the proposed airport]” and was considering building a bridge from the capital to Lungi airport – the only international airport in the country. Currently passengers need to get a boat or helicopter to reach Freetown.

Mr Kallon said he did not know whether the cancelled contract would lead to financial implications, and Sierra Leone remained on good terms with China.

“As [a] sovereign state, I do have the right to take the best decision for the country,” he told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.

Chart showing growth of China's loans to African governments

China is now the single largest bilateral financier of infrastructure in Africa – surpassing the African Development Bank (ADB), the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank and the Group of eight (G8) countries combined.

Critics say China is luring countries into debt traps by lending them money for massive infrastructure projects.

In August, 16 American senators voiced their concern about “predatory Chinese infrastructure lending” in a letter to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Zambia’s government has had to publicly deny reports China could seize some of its parastatal companies if it defaulted on loan repayments.

But China has denied claims that it is leading countries into a debt trap.

“If we take a closer look at these African countries that are heavily in debt, China is not their main creditor,” China’s special envoy for Africa, Xu Jinghu, told a news conference in September, Reuters reports.

“It’s senseless and baseless to shift the blame onto China for debt problems.”

Some Africans are also wary of the high levels of debt being built up and say the costs of some projects have been inflated by corruption, while others welcome China’s involvement, saying that the roads, ports, railways and other projects are badly needed.

Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta asks for two permanent UN Security Council seats for Africa

NEW YORK, USA
AIWA! NO!//Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has called for urgent reforms at the United Nations to ensure Africa is allocated two permanent seats at the Security Council complete with all attendant rights and prerogatives.
Speaking when he delivered Kenya’s country statement at the UN General Assembly on Wednesday afternoon, he said, besides the two permanent seats being demanded by the continent, Africa deserves more non-permanent seats. Currently, Africa has three non-permanent seats at the UN Security Council.
“Kenya joins in the demand for two permanent seats for Africa, with all the rights and prerogatives of current members, including the right of veto, and additional non permanent seats,” said President Kenyatta.
The additional seats, said President Kenyatta, would correct the historical injustices that Africa has suffered at the global body over the years.

“As we all know, Africa is under represented in the non permanent category of the Security Council and not represented at all in the permanent category,” President Kenyatta observed.

“This historical injustice is a clear indication of the skewed system that has perpetuated an exclusive model of governance that fuels the trust gap between nations, ” the President added.

President Uhuru Kenyatta
President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta at the launch of the United Nations Youth 2030 and Generation Unlimited partnership by Unicef on September 25, 2018. Mr Kenyatta was unanimously endorsed as the global Champion of the Young People’s Agenda. PHOTO | PSCU 

President Uhuru Kenyatta and First Lady Margaret Kenyatta at the launch of the United Nations Youth 2030 and Generation Unlimited partnership by Unicef on September 25, 2018. Mr Kenyatta was unanimously endorsed as the global Champion of the Young People’s Agenda. PHOTO | PSCU

In the speech that lasted slightly under twenty minutes, President Kenyatta pointed out that real change at the global body cannot be realized without reforms to the membership of the UN Security Council.

The President said the global governance system needs to reform for it to be relevant and effective in addressing current and emerging global challenges.

He pointed out that multilateralism has come under severe strain due to mistrust among global leaders and can only be addressed through genuine reforms.

“Rarely has the system of trade and security that was established following the Second World War, under the aegis of the United Nations, been under greater strain,” said President Kenyatta.

Kenyatta pointed out that populism and extremism unleashed at the national level has brought forward powerful constituencies that want a dismantling of the global order. For this to change, said President Kenyatta, there is an urgent political need for the world to close the trust gap between people and governing institutions.

“Governments are not owed trust by citizens; that trust must be won and protected. It is not an exaggeration to say that on this issue, revolves the future of global stability and the continuity of many states,” the Head of State observed.

He noted that mistrust among the global community can only be addressed if the leadership and processes of the multilateral system are inclusive of all stakeholders.

“The gap in trust at the global level is aimed squarely at the leadership and processes of the multilateral system — as reflected in the UN Security Council, the Bretton Woods institutions and other parts of the system,” President Kenyatta noted.

The President said lack of proper inclusive leadership at the global institutions has greatly contributed to corruption and impunity not only in national governments but also globally.

“Without governments and the international system addressing the broadening deficits in fairness, inclusivity, and anti-corruption, populism, radicalisation, civil strife and political instability will continue to destabilise and destroy” said President Kenyatta.

President Kenyatta further observed that for national governments to succeed in combating corruption, there is need for the international organizations, which continue to demand good governance and accountability to show by example, by taking necessary measures to combat the unnecessary evil.

“The single overarching aim must be to make it exceedingly difficult to transfer and launder illegally acquired wealth in any part of the world,” he continued “All UN bodies should be tasked with detecting corruption in their different focus areas and promoting the skills and systems to combat it. In the understanding that honest, transparent and responsive government is fundamental to the achievement of their aims,” he continued.

President Kenyatta said time has come for the global community to embrace bold solutions for it to succeed.

While citing the Kenyan situation in which an aggressive campaign is underway against fraud and abuse of public office in order to restore confidence in governance, the President said: “We have to fight impunity and corruption. Seriously and without fear or favor.”

The President said that in its efforts to bring about good governance, Kenya has reached out to partners such as Switzerland and the United Kingdom in order to return illegal proceeds of corruption which have been stashed in their banking and financial systems.

The President noted that current challenges bedevilling the world require greater cooperation and partnerships so as to achieve better solutions for all.President Kenyatta said the world stands in a decisive moment, and pledged Kenya’s willingness to play its part by championing for change for the benefit of all.

“Today’s problems, risks and threats are complex and call for more not less cooperation, more not less observance of the rule of law, more not less negotiations; we need a rule based multilateral system,” said the Head of State.

Earlier in the day, President Kenyatta attended and addressed two side meetings on Tuberculosis and Climate change.

In both meetings, the Head of State called on the UN and the various stakeholders to commit themselves to implement measures, which would impact positively to the values the United Nations stands for.

African oil boom can offer ‘opportunities’ for Scotland’s North Sea oil sector

Africa is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Picture: AFP/Getty Images
Africa is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

TOM PETERKI (THE SCOTSMAN)AIWA! NO!//Scotland’s North Sea sector can take advantage of the “vast opportunities” offered by oil and gas exploration in Africa, one of Theresa May’s trade commissioners has said.

Scotland’s North Sea sector can take advantage of the “vast opportunities” offered by oil and gas exploration in Africa, one of Theresa May’s trade commissioners has said.

Emma Wade-Smith, newly appointed HM Trade Commissioner for Africa, says exporting Scottish energy expertise will be key trade strategy in the post-Brexit era.

HM Trade Commissioner for Africa, Emma Wade-Smith

On a visit to Scotland to promote trade links, Wade-Smith said the industry developed in Aberdeen should capitalise on the burgeoning oil and gas development in Africa which is creating a market worth billions of pounds.

Wade-Smith’s trip to Scotland follows May’s recent trade mission to South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria to promote global trade after Brexit.

Image result for emma wade smith
British Prime Minister Theresa May and Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta, Nairobi – KENYA

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Wade-Smith said Africa was one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, creating opportunities for Scottish business.

She said Scottish expertise should be harnessed to help countries like Senegal and Mauritania, who are starting out on oil and gas oil production.

It could also be used in countries like Angola and Nigeria where oil exploration is well-established.

Emma Wade-Smith Retweeted Department for International Trade

As Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa I know Africa is alive with business opportunities. My Africa Trade is here to help UK companies interested in doing business in Africa. DM me or email DITAfricaTrade@mobile.trade.gov.uk for more

Emma Wade-Smith added,

“There is a huge amount of expertise and experience clearly in the oil and gas industry in Aberdeen,” she said. “So it is how do we take that to support countries across Africa in their own efforts to build an oil and gas capability? Also how do we use that experience and technological innovation to help African countries avoid some of the potential pitfalls of creating that domestic capability?”

She added: “There are vast opportunities for Scottish companies across the entire industry and supply chain to grow their businesses.”

Scottish expertise includes drillers, fitters and those involved with training. It also includes a host of supply chain enterprises which provide items such as equipment and clothing for an industry that has been hit by the falling oil price in recent years.”

Oil & Gas UK upstream policy director Mike Tholen said: “Embracing the opportunities available in the international export market could unlock an additional £150 million in the revenue of supply chain companies. It shows why industry, government and the regulator must put their shoulder to the wheel in pursuit of Vision 2035.”

Africa’s women belong at the top; Malawi’s Joyce Banda is one of them ..

As a former president of Malawi and the founder of her own foundation, Joyce Banda is one of the world’s great advocates for the idea that empowering women and girls benefits everyone. In anticipation of this year’sGoalkeepers report, which focuses on the challenges and potential of a growing young population in Africa, Joyce reflects on the importance of female leadership. I want to share her essay with you before we launch the report next week. — Bill Gates

Profile: Joyce Banda
Banda, left, was expelled from the ruling party by Bingu wa Mutharika, right, after a succession battle [AFP]
BY JOYCE BANDA (AIWA! NO!)//When I was eight years old, a family friend told my father that he thought I was destined for leadership. My dad never let me forget that heady observation, and as a result of his constant encouragement, I took every opportunity I had to pursue our friend’s prophecy. Today, I owe much of my success to my late father, whose belief in me was unwavering.

Unfortunately, most African girls are not as lucky as I was. While many girls possess leadership qualities, social, political, and economic barriers stymie their potential. This is especially true for girls in rural parts of Africa, where poverty, abuse, and tradition conspire to limit opportunity.

The heartbreaking story of my childhood friend, Chrissie, is illustrative. Chrissie was the star student in the village in Malawi where I grew up. But she dropped out of secondary school because her family could not afford the $6 in monthly fees. Before Chrissie was 18, she was married with a child; she has never left the village where we were born.

Chrissie’s experience is repeated millions of times over in my country, across Africa, and around the world. Today, more than 130 million girls worldwide are out of school through no fault of their own. By the time many African girls turn ten, their fate is already determined. Some are victims of harmful cultural practices, like female genital mutilation and child marriage, while others are unable to escape the poverty that grips their families and communities.

Economic bias is especially damaging to girls. When resources are limited, poor families must choose which children to send to school, and in many regions, boys are viewed as “safer” investments. Girls, meanwhile, are married off, or sent to work in the fields or as domestic helpers. These decisions about the allocation of educational opportunity severely stunt female leadership potential.

One of the objectives of the Joyce Banda Foundation is to strengthen the financial independence of Malawian women, and thereby create the conditions for the development and emergence of young girls as future leaders. Evidence shows that when women work, they invest 90 percent of their income back into their families, compared with 35 percent for men. Furthermore, once women have their own sources of income, they are better able to participate in the political process.

Changing endemic cultural norms about gender and identity—and developing more female leaders—begins in the classroom. School-age girls must be taught to value themselves and one another, and that it is their right to be educated, healthy, and empowered. At the Joyce Banda Foundation School in Blantyre, Malawi, educators have adopted a curriculum based on four building blocks: universal values, global understanding, service to humanity, and excellence. When women and girls are given equal access to education, health care, and jobs, their sense of self-worth improves and social stature follows.

Parts of Africa are moving in the right direction. Today, nearly a quarter of sub-Saharan Africa’s lawmakers are women, up from just 10 percent in 1997. Rwanda, meanwhile, has the highest percentage of female legislators in the world. And throughout Africa, women have been elected to leadership roles at all levels of government.

Still, much work remains. As the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will make clear in its annual Goalkeepers report later this month, governments must recommit to supporting female leaders’ development by investing in the health and education of women and girls. Delivering services to girls under ten years of age, especially in rural areas, is essential if Africa is ever to achieve lasting gender equality.

Over the course of my career in Malawi—first in civil society, then as a Member of Parliament, and finally, as president—I became convinced that the only way to change Africa’s misogynistic narrative is by helping more women reach the highest levels of power. Research from India shows that when governments increase the percentage of women in their ranks, social issues like health care, education, and food security receive higher priority. Having more women in leadership is thus good for everyone.

Leaders are born as well as made, but when they are born in Africa, they are not always recognized. To give more young women the opportunity to develop their talents and put their skills to work, today’s leaders must clear a path for the female leaders of tomorrow.

This commentary was originally published by Project Syndicate© Project Syndicate – 2018

World famous photographer speaks to animals in French

‘During my career, I have had more than 5,000 pages of photographs published, and I have written 26 books. The last one was titled Fou d’Ailes (Mad about Wings) in 2016,’ – Alain Ernoult

Rita, factory boucan workwoman in Douglastown, Grenada

Frenchman Alain Ernoult is a world famous photographer and reporter. On a recent trip to Rwanda, I met and interviewed him extensively on his work and life in the field. I started by asking him how he ended up being a professional photographer and what inspired him. Image result for Frenchman Alain Ernoult


By SUSAN MUUMBI//(https://aiwa.press/)‘‘I left formal schooling at the age of 14 and started working in a factory. At 17, in the mid 1980s, I read about a tribe in Mali that needed help and I decided to take medicines to them. I hitchhiked from Normandy in northern France, through Spain, Algeria and across the desert to Mali. I almost died on the journey.

“When I returned to France, no one believed me. So I decided to buy a camera, make a return trip and capture my travels so that people could see for themselves. I’m a self-taught photographer.

First Submarine Museum
Install art while recreating a natural shelter for wildlife underwater. That was the idea of Jason De Caires Taylor.

‘‘Soon after, I left the factory job and to support myself, I started taking photographs of Parisians, weddings, dogs, people — clothed and naked. That’s how I honed my skills.

‘‘Two years later, I hitchhiked back to Mali, with a clunky Zenith SLR camera. Half of my luggage contained medicines. I lost 15kg on that trip; I was sleeping on the ground, keeping away hyenas at night.

‘‘A Paris museum heard about my travels and organised an exhibition for my work. I was 20 years old. I decided I could become a successful photographer by taking pictures that no one had taken before. At that time, photographers kept their distance when taking pictures. I wanted to be part of the action. ‘‘In the first year of my newfound career, I went to take pictures of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gangs in the US. It was dangerous but groundbreaking work, and I still have a scar from that time. ‘‘The Hell’s Angels pictures were printed in Stern, a German magazine. I got 12 pages in one issue. I then approached the French air force, to fly with their top aerobatic team — the Patrouille de France. They refused. After eight months of persistence, they agreed. It was the first time they had allowed a photographer to fly with them. ‘‘The pilots were reluctant and it was difficult to take pictures while wearing goggles and to change the camera film during the flight.

Recognition and awards

‘‘In 2004, the Minister for Defence presented me a medal of merit from the French government, the Chevalier de l’Ordre du Merite National for my work. ‘‘But the crowning glory came in 1986 when I won the World Press Photo Award in the sports category. It is the most prestigious award in the profession. I took the winning picture at the Boomerang World Championships in Paris. An apple was placed on a man’s head and then another threw a razor-tipped Boomerang that cut through the apple. I caught the moment when the apple was cut into two and the man was screaming.

The 1984 World Press Photo
The 1984 World Press Photo winning picture by Alain Ernoult. PHOTO | COURTESY

“Soon after, Time magazine called. They flew me by Concord to New York where I signed contracts with Time and Life magazines. I have also worked with National Geographic and the French magazines Paris Match and Le Figaro.

“During my career, I have had more than 5,000 pages of photographs published, and I have written 26 books. The last one was titled Fou d’Ailes (Mad about Wings) in 2016.

Animal love

 

“I have a connection with animals so they allow me to photograph them. I make eye contact, and speak to them in French. I show no fear. At my house near Paris, birds come to sit on my hand.“I’ve held several exhibitions all over the world, including at the UN on biodiversity projects. I support children’s NGOs, like Toutes a l’ecole, which helps pay for poor children to go to school.

Image result for Frenchman Alain Ernoult
Reportage: Tahiti Islands of Dreams
In this part of the South Pacific where the hand of a giant would have sown on the fly the 118 islands of Polynesia, the escape is certainly successful, perhaps more authentic, especially when we choose to go discover some Leeward Islands of the Society Islands or two or three atolls of Tuamotus

I also support non-governmental wildlife organisations by using my pictures to create awareness about endangered species. That’s what has brought me to Rwanda: To take pictures of the mountain gorillas. I would love to visit Kenya to photograph animals, especially endangered species.

Corporate life

“I started a photography agency in Paris called Arnault pictures, and I had 400 photographers working for me. One day, Kodak US contacted me, seeking to buy me out but I hesitated. However, I later gave in. This was beyond my wildest dreams. I was amazed by how far I had come with my limited formal education. My life has been my education.

Life lessons

“My intuition has saved me several times, especially when I was reporting on the wars in Afghanistan and Bosnia. I refused to photograph death and misery. Instead I took pictures of the positive side, wherever that was possible.“I have a daughter, Clara, who is 24 years old and she accompanies me on some of my trips. I’m very proud of her.

“My motto in life is that you have to keep moving and questioning. The more I see, the less I know. Once my job is done, I focus on the next one.

“I’m always looking for ways to improve myself. Now I want to dedicate my time to environmental causes, to protect nature and endangered animals.

“I don’t like to edit or airbrush pictures after shooting, so I try to get the best shot right at the beginning.

Best destination

“Africa is my favourite place to visit. The people are sincere, and there is an abundance of wildlife. I saw plenty of wildlife in South Africa, and I would love to visit Kenya one day. “I have travelled widely around the world. I went diving with whales in Polynesia, I have seen the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) at the North Pole. I have met Amazonian tribes and several presidents. I have been to the North Pole to photograph polar bears.

Best experience in Rwanda?

“Seeing the strength and intelligence of gorillas. I came face to face with a silverback and I told him that we’re friends, in French of course. And he allowed me to take his photograph.”

Africa, the world’s youngest continent; 60 percent of Africa is under 25 years old

This is no accident. Sixty percent of Africans are under the age of 25. The median age is 19. (By comparison, in North America it’s 35.) And the number of young people in Africa is expected to grow in the decades ahead.

Africa’s population has been on the increase over the past 50 years. The continent is home to over 1.2 billion people, over 60% of whom fall below the age of 25. The population of Africa is projected to double by 2050 to around 2.4 billion people.
MOBILE USERS
To view the virtual reality film below, click here to open in YouTube.

This is no accident. Sixty percent of Africans are under the age of 25. The median age is 19. (By comparison, in North America it’s 35.) And the number of young people in Africa is expected to grow in the decades ahead.Africa is the most youthful continent in the world, with 226 million youth (aged 15–24) in 2015, or roughly 20% of the glo...

The other thing that always strikes me during my trips to Africa is the unbridled optimism of this young generation. Even in the face some tough health and development challenges, most of the youth I meet have a positive outlook about the future.

Africa’s growing youthful population: reflections on a continent at a tipping point – but investing in developing Africa’s young population is central to the region’s socio-economic development.

This is also no accident. Young people are often the most optimistic people I meet. They are ambitious. They think in innovative ways and are eager to learn the newest technologies. They are also willing to take risks. To see Africa through their eyes is to see a continent brimming with potential and opportunity.Youth in agribusiness: Promoting job creation in Africa Leveraging Investment and innovations for Africa’s youth and susta...

Later this month, I’ll be in New York to talk about Africa’s future at the second annual Goalkeepersevent. Ahead of the gathering, I wanted to share some of the stories of Africa’s next generation of leaders. Here is a collection of 360-degree videos about five young Africans helping to shape Africa’s future in the fields of agriculture, health, development, sports, and wildlife conservation.

The youngest continent graph