African Leaders Seek $1 Billion for Elephant Conservation

Amid the urgent and complex global challenge that illegal wildlife trade poses, Nigeria and other African leaders have called on international donors to commit $1 billion over the next 12 years to save continent’s remaining elephants.

They made the plea during the Elephant Protection Initiative’s (EPI) Consultative Group at the Illegal Wildlife Trafficking Conference, and urged “donors to put elephants beyond the risk of extinction” by helping provide the required investment.

Launched in 2014 by the leaders of five countries – Gabon, Chad, Tanzania, Botswana and Ethiopia – the EPI coalition now numbers 19 African member states. The EPI has common policies to save Africa’s elephants and build a sustainable future for our people. These are based on the African Elephant Action Plan (AEAP), which was agreed by all African elephant range states in 2010.

Africa’s elephant population has been devastated by ivory poachers over the past decade. On average, some 55 elephants are killed per day. If this rate continues, elephants could be wiped out within a generation.

The EPI held crucial meetings on the elephant crisis at the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London, which was attended by Nigeria’s Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Jibril. The EPI’s first ever Consultative Group was hosted by the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba. Seven African countries – Gabon, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Ethiopia, Angola and Chad – presented their elephant conservation plans. These plans would cost some 268 million USD to implement over the next three years.

Their National Elephant Action Plans are fully costed national plans drawn up by African governments to protect their elephant populations. The EPI champions and advocates for these plans across Africa as a sustainable and effective way to save the continent’s dwindling elephant population, which continues to come under fierce attack from poaching and illegal trafficking.

The EPI’s John Stephenson said: “If we invest one billion dollars by 2030 we can put elephants beyond the risk of extinction, protect habitats, and the communities who live alongside wildlife. When this money is spread across elephant range states, the amount we spend in each country will be modest, but the returns will be large.”

President of Gabon, Ali Bongo Ondimba, said: “The EPI states have invested their own blood and treasure to protect elephants from poachers. African communities are losing their crops and are being killed by these magnificent but dangerous beasts. Hungry villagers bear the brunt of the elephant’s appetite, whilst countries who have eliminated the indigenous animal’s threats to their people demand conservation action.

President Bongo said: “This is not a battle African countries can or should fight alone. Wildlife crime is an international criminal business on par with the trafficking of drugs, arms and children and by nature, the solution has to be international. But going beyond the fight against international crime, the elephant is an international icon; the largest land mammal.

Our planet would be a lesser place if the rumble and the trumpet of the elephant was no more.”Former President of Botswana, and a founding member of the EPI, Dr Ian Khama said: “Nature is the most important asset for the planet, and elephants are part of that asset. And, as we all know, assets need investment.”

We maintain our infrastructure, we repair our roads, buildings, seaports and airports, but are not investing in our natural capital in the same manner.
“If we are indeed agreed on the need to appreciate the value of nature, and that acting to conserve the African elephant is a collective responsibility, then we urgently need to join hands and generate sufficient funding for the implementation of National Elephant Action Plans (NEAPs) in EPI member states.
“These action plans address various actions in support of elephant conservation and also, very importantly, the livelihoods of people and include measures to reduce human-elephant conflict and elephant poaching.

“In implementing the NEAPs and in observing EPI member state policies, we need to increase our vigilance in stemming the tide of elephant poaching incidents and the destruction of natural capital. If we value nature and the contribution of elephants to natural capital, we should not allow poaching and illegal wildlife trade to reduce that very value.”

Duke of Cambridge, Prince William said:“I am delighted to be here at your first meeting. Ever since the EPI was created four years ago, I have continued to believe it offers the best African owned approach to protecting African elephants.”Highlighting the work of the EPI and steps made since its inception, The Duke of Cambridge said: “Domestic ivory markets are closing, the international ivory trade has plummeted and government stockpiles are being put beyond commercial use.”

“Action plans embrace the United Nation’s sustainable development goals and set out a path to a sustainable future for elephants…most importantly they are your plans, they are African owned plans. They are underpinned by a common principle that ivory will not be sold commercially. They give each country ownership and control over how to manage elephant populations in your own way.”The Duke of Cambridge added: “EPI represents hope – hope that our children and future generations will be able to witness elephant populations in the wild.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Chinedum Uwaegbulam via The Guardian [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

SA Constitutional Court Issues Asylum Seeker Ruling

An application for leave to appeal against a decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal was settled this week in South Africa’s Constitutional Court. The case concerns the question whether asylum seekers, including those whose applications for refugee status have been refused, are eligible to apply for other visas and immigration permits in terms of the Immigration Act.1 The applicants also sought an order setting aside a Department of Home Affairs (Department) directive, Immigration Directive 21 of 2015 (Directive), which requires Departmental functionaries to refuse all applications for temporary and permanent residence visas made by the holder of an asylum seeker permit.

The order issued is as follows:

  • Leave to appeal is granted.
  • The appeal is upheld and the order of the Supreme Court of Appeal is set aside.
  • To the extent that Immigration Directive 21 of 2015, issued by the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs on 3 February 2016, imposes a blanket ban on asylum seekers from applying for visas without provision for an exemption application under section 31(2)(c) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, it is declared inconsistent with the Immigration Act 13 of 2002 and invalid.
  • To the extent that Immigration Directive 21 of 2015, issued by the Director-General of the Department of Home Affairs on 3 February 2016, prohibits asylum seekers from applying for permanent residence permits while inside the Republic of South Africa, it is declared inconsistent with Regulation 23 of the Immigration Regulations, 2014 published under Government Notice R413 in Government Gazette 37697 of 22 May 2014 and invalid.
  • There is no order as to costs.

While this is good news for SA’s asylum seekers, it remains to be seen what the Department of Home Affairs’ reaction to the judgement will be.

To read the full case details, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Why Is It So Hard for Africans to Visit Other African Countries?

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote has said he needs 38 visas to travel within the continent on his Nigerian passport. Many European nationals, meanwhile, waltz into most Africans countries visa-free.

African nations were supposed to scrap visa requirements for all African citizens by 2018. It was a key part of the African Union (AU) “vision and roadmap for the next 50 years” that was adopted by all members states in 2013.

But to date, the Seychelles is the only nation where visa-free travel is open to all Africans – as well as to citizens of every nation – as it always has been. A recent AU report found that Africans can travel without a visa to just 22% of other African countries.

It is a sensitive topic, provoking xenophobic attitudes in some of Africa’s wealthier nations despite policymakers from Cape to Cairo insisting that the free movement of people is key for economic transformation.

“Our leaders seem to go to ridiculous lengths to preserve and protect the colonial borders,” says South African travel blogger Katchie Nzama, who has visited 35 of Africa’s 55 countries.

The AU may want a borderless continent where its 1.2 billion people can move freely between nations, similar to the European Union, but it seems there is no shortage of obstacles.

Whether it is immigration officials in Burkina Faso charging an arbitrary $200 (£155) for a visa on arrival, or Tanzania arresting and deporting other East Africans who enter illegally, or Tunisia refusing visas to stranded African passengers after a cancelled flight, intra-African travel is fraught with suspicion.

Double standards?

South Africa appears to be the most visible representative of the continent’s visa double standard, remaining largely closed to other Africans but more welcoming to the wider world.

Citizens of only 15 African nations can travel to South Africa without a visa, yet holders of 28 different European passports can enter the country freely.

The country’s Department of Home Affairs spokesman Thabo Mokgola defends its policy. “This is an unfair assertion – visa-waiver agreements are premised on reciprocity and we are finalising such with a number of African countries,” he told the BBC. Just how that reciprocity is applied is unclear.

Kenya, for example, gives South African citizens a visa on arrival for free. But Kenyans must apply for a visa, then pay a service fee and wait for at least five working days before travelling to South Africa.

In 2015, two years after the African Union asked members to commit to abolishing visa requirements for all Africans by 2018, South Africa did the opposite and announced stricter regulations that were widely criticised. Hit by a recession and a drop in tourist numbers, the country caved in and recently announced that it was relaxing travel rules in the hope of reviving its struggling economy.

African passport

Namibia, Mauritius, Ghana, Rwanda, Benin and Kenya have all loosened travel restrictions for other African nationals, and now either grant a visa on arrival or allow for visits of up to 90 days with just a passport.

But citizens of African countriesstill need a visa to travel to more than half of the continent’s 54 countries, protecting borders drawn up by European colonisers more than a century ago.

“Somebody like me, despite the size of our group, I need 38 visas to move around Africa,” complained Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote in an interview in 2016.

He is reportedly one of the first in line to receive the African passport which was launched in 2016. The travel document is supposed to eventually replace individual nations’ passports, but is currently only available to some heads of state, senior diplomats and top AU officials.

It is easy enough to travel within regional blocs such as the East African Community, the Economic Community of West African States, the Southern African Development Community, the Maghreb, as well as the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. But it is rarely possible to travel from one region to another without restrictions.

Extortionate prices

Another impediment to African travel is that there are very few commercial flights from one region to another and when they do exist, they are prohibitively expensive.

“Flying from Kenya to Namibia is the same price as flying to Thailand, and the cost to Dubai from Nairobi is way cheaper than flying to Morocco,” says Kenyan travel blogger Winnie Rioba. And this is on top of the visa fees. Ms Rioba was charged $90 for a visa fir Djibouti, more than the $75 she paid for a Schengen visa, which gave her access to 26 European states.

“I’ve spent more money applying for visas than transport costs in my travels across the continent,” agrees Ms Nzama.

“This is not just money paid to embassies. It’s the time and money wasted going back and forth to embassies, and preparing the required documents, which in most cases I felt were not necessary,” the South African travel blogger says.

To help her fellow Nigerians find their way through the maze of requirements, entrepreneur Funmi Oyatogun created a colour-coded map outlining which African countries were easiest to travel to:

“Our focus is to simplify travel for Africans across Africa,” she says of her start-up TVP Adventures.

She believes these efforts are a necessary part of what she calls the “African travel spring”.

“We are breaking through the barriers that made it difficult in the past – lack of information, poor flight connections, and incorrect perceptions of other African countries.”

There is widespread support for scrapping the visa requirements for Africans travelling within the continent. But as the 2018 deadline slips by, few believe it is likely to happen soon. And while we wait, it might remain more attractive to leave the continent.

“How will I convince an African traveller to go with me to Angola if the trip will cost as much as travel to five countries in Europe?” asks Ms Rioba. “They give you visas as if it is a favour.”

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Larry Madowo via BBC News [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Relo Originals: Solar Sustainability

Now that we’ve entered springtime in South Africa, the weather is gradually getting warmer, and many of us are preparing for being back at the beach during summer at the end of the year. In a region like SA, we’re lucky enough to get lots of sunshine not only in summer, but year-round. This creates the perfect opportunity to be more sustainable, and make use of solar power. And that’s exactly what we’ve done at our head office in Cape Town.

Solar power

Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV), indirectly using concentrated solar power, or a combination. Concentrated solar power systems use lenses or mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Photovoltaic cells convert light into an electric current using the photovoltaic effect.

Photovoltaics were initially solely used as a source of electricity for small and medium-sized applications, from the calculator powered by a single solar cell to remote homes powered by an off-grid rooftop PV system. Commercial concentrated solar power plants were first developed in the 1980s.

As the cost of solar electricity has fallen, the number of grid-connected solar PV systems has grown into the millions and utility-scale solar power stations with hundreds of megawatts are being built. Solar PV is rapidly becoming an inexpensive, low-carbon technology to harness renewable energy from the Sun.

The International Energy Agency projected in 2014 that under its “high renewables” scenario, by 2050, solar photovoltaics and concentrated solar power would contribute about 16 and 11 percent, respectively, of the worldwide electricity consumption, and solar would be the world’s largest source of electricity.

Our office

Our head office in Cape Town has, since early 2014, featured 25 photovoltaic panels on its roof, positioned to harness the most sunlight possible during daylight hours. These panels are connected to a smart charge controller, and the power is distributed throughout our building. Electricity usage can be monitored via a mobile app, which provides us with usage history, so that we can track our conservation efforts.

In addition to this, we also have battery units that keep the solar system running. In the event of a power outage, the batteries will keep our essential systems running. To date, we have converted 40.7 MWh of solar energy into usable electricity. All of this is made possible by a SolarEdge system. To read more about them, click here.

Aerial view of Relocation Africa’s head office in Cape Town, South Africa.

The importance of renewable energy

Renewable energy is energy that is collected from renewable resources, which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

Rapid deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency is resulting in significant energy security, climate change mitigation, and economic benefits.

In 2011, the International Energy Agency said that “the development of affordable, inexhaustible and clean solar energy technologies will have huge longer-term benefits. It will increase countries’ energy security through reliance on an indigenous, inexhaustible and mostly import-independent resource, enhance sustainability, reduce pollution, lower the costs of mitigating climate change, and keep fossil fuel prices lower than otherwise. These advantages are global.

We encourage other businesses to implement sustainable solutions to their power systems, over time saving both money and the environment.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3]. Image sources: Andreas Gücklhorn [1], [2].

From The Hippo’s Ears: Namibia

Facts you may not have know about Namibia:

Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

Namibia has a population of approximately 2.6 million, is a Unitary dominant-party semi-presidential republic, and gained independence from South Africa in 1990.

1.  When you first meet someone, how do you greet them?

The basic physical greeting is the handshake. In English, the common greeting is “hello”. In Afrikaans, it’s “hallo”. German speakers say “guten tag”, and in Oshiwambo it’s “Ongaipi”.

2. What languages are spoken in the country?

English is the only official language in Namibia. The most common language, spoken by around half of the population, is Oshiwambo. Other common languages include Nama, Afrikaans, Otjiherero, Kavango, Lozi, San, and German.

3. Do you use a twelve hour clock, or a twenty-four hour clock?

We use a 24-hour system.

4. What side of the road do people drive on? What do we need to know about driving in the country?

We drive on the left side of road. Due to low traffic volumes the majority of roads are not tarred.

5. How important is punctuality?

Punctuality is important in Namibia, with trying to arrive on time being part of the local culture.

6. Which types of music are popular? Who are some of the most popular musicians?

The music of Namibia has a number of folk styles, as well as pop, rock, reggae, jazz, house and hip hop. Folk music accompanies storytelling or dancing. The Namaqua use various strings, flutes and drums while the Bantu use xylophones, gourds and horn trumpets. The Namibian reggae platform has produced artist such as Ras Sheehama, Petu, Ngatu, who has been performing since 1994. Rock n roll is widely celebrated by the white communities of Namibia. Die Vögel is one of Namibia’s most outstanding rock n roll bands. Kwaito is also very popular in Namibia, with local artists including The Dogg, Gazza, Sunny Boy, Qonja, Tre Van Die Kasie, and OmPuff.

For a taste of Namibian music, listen to Ras Sheehama’s Inotila, and Makgona Ngwao.

7. Are there any Traditional Dances?

Traditional Namibian dance occurs at events such as weddings and at traditional festivals such as the Caprivi Arts Festival. Watch an example of traditional Namibian dance here.

8.  What traditional Festivals are celebrated in the country?

Lusata Festival
Lusata Festival is an annual festival for all Mafwe tribal people of Namibia and nearby countries. The Mafwe people are one of the largest ethnic groups in the Caprivi Region. The festival celebrates traditional values, commemorates the past, and looks forward to the future. It occurs annually in the last week of September. The festival’s name is a reference to the royal mace – an ivory-encrusted stick. Most people from all villages in Caprivi come to celebrate by dancing and feasting. It always is held where the king stays, in Chinchimani village, 6 km away from Katima Mulilo.

Bank Windhoek Arts Festival
Held every February, the Bank Windhoek Arts Festival celebrates local artists and their work. It encourages the development of artists, helping locals establish a name in the industry and giving people a vehicle to enjoy the local design scene. A variety of events from dance and theater to visual arts are held throughout the capital.

Windhoek Karneval
The biggest cultural event in Windhoek, and Namibia in general, is the Windhoek Kareneval or WIKA. A remnant leftover from German occupation, visitors in attendance will feel a distinct German vibe throughout the festival. Held in April, WIKA involves a number of events including musical performances and a masked ball for adults and carnival and Independence Avenue parade for kids.

Oktoberfest
Having formally been a territory of the Germans, Namibians naturally celebrate what has become one of the world’s best-known drinking events, Oktoberfest. Beer, fun and games attract people of all ages to the capital of Windhoek..

9. What are the seasons like?

The winter (June – August) is generally dry. Both rainy seasons occur in summer: the small rainy season between September and November, the big one between February and April. Rainfall is highly variable, and droughts are common. Weather and climate in the coastal area are dominated by the cold, north-flowing Benguela Current of the Atlantic Ocean, which accounts for very low precipitation (50 mm (2 in) per year or less), frequent dense fog, and overall lower temperatures than in the rest of the country. Efundja, the annual seasonal flooding of the northern parts of the country, often causes damage.

10. What are some interesting facts about the President?

President Hage Geingob has been President of Namibia since 2015. He previously served as the country’s Prime Minister, from 2012 to 2015, and its Minister of Trade and Industry, from 2008 to 2012. After obtaining a MA degree in International Relations in New York, Geingob was appointed SWAPO Representative at the United Nations and to the Americas. He served in this position until 1971.

Geingob is known to be an avid football fan, and has attended many high-profile games. He also regularly attends the Namibia Annual Music Awards (NAMAs), and in his youth sang in a choir, and played in a band.

11. What are the country’s major industries?

The largest economic sectors are mining, agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism. About half of the population depends on agriculture (largely subsistence agriculture) for its livelihood, but Namibia must still import some of its food. Namibia is the fourth largest exporter of non-fuel minerals in Africa and the world’s fourth largest producer of uranium. Tourism is a major contributor to Namibia’s GDP, creating tens of thousands of jobs directly or indirectly, and servicing over a million tourists per year. The country is a prime destination in Africa and is known for ecotourism which features Namibia’s extensive wildlife.

12. How do people spend their free time?

Locals spend their free time with family and friends, visiting the beach, taking road trips or off-roading, camping, or watching local sports matches. There are also a number of nature reserves to visit.

13. What is a popular local drink?

Namibia has a strong beer culture, and produces many varieties of local beer, including traditional African millet varieties. Examples are Windhoek lager, DAS Pilsner, and Oshikundu. Despite the climate, the country also produces its own wine.

14. What is a popular local dish?

When you visit Namibia, you will find that the cuisine is very different and varied. Local specialities worth sampling are Swakopmund green asparagus (September to April), Luderitz oysters (all year round), Kalahari truffles (May and June if they appear), and Omajowa, the large fleshy mushrooms that appear for a brief period at the foot of termite hills north of Okahandja shortly after the rains in February.

A wide selection of home-made cheeses are made by Danis Kuche near Otjiwarongo and the production of Namibian olives — the Kalamata (black) variety as well as the green —has taken off well. In Swakopmund, Luderitz and Windhoek you can indulge in traditional German-style confectionery including classics such as Schwarzwälder, Kirschtorte, and Apfelstrudel as well as the renowned Springer chocolates produced in Windhoek. A favourite breakfast and light lunch are crisp bread rolls, referred to as Brötchen, filled with cheese, eggs, meat or salad.

15. What do you pay, on average, for the following? (1 USD = approx. NAD 14)

3 Course meal: NAD 250
Domestic beer (500ml): NAD 20
Cup of coffee: NAD 25
Coca cola (330ml): NAD 12
Milk (1l): NAD 18
Loaf of white bread: NAD 10
Apples (1 kg): NAD 30
Water (1.5l):NAD 17

16. Any general safety tips?

Namibia is generally very safe for travellers. Exercise the same precautions as you would back home: don’t have valuables on show, and don’t walk through the townships at night unless accompanied by a guide. It is safer to call a taxi than hail one on the street – your accommodation should be able to arrange this for you. Avoid driving outside of the towns at night – the roads are not lit and vehicles are in danger of colliding with roaming wildlife.

17. In conclusion, famous (and sometimes infamous) people from the country include:

  • Rosa Namises, a politician and human rights activist, and former member of parliament. A prominent voice on gender issues, human-rights violations, and violence against women and children in Namibia, she is the director of Woman Solidarity Namibia.
  • Frankie Fredericks, a former track and field athlete. Running in the 100 metres and 200 metres, he won four silver medals at the Olympic Games (two in 1992 and two in 1996), making him Namibia’s so far only Olympic medalist. He also won gold medals at the World Championships, World Indoor Championships, All-Africa Games and Commonwealth Games. He is the world indoor record-holder for 200 metres, with a time of 19.92 seconds set in 1996.
  • Trevor Dodds, a professional golfer. Turning pro in 1985, Dodds has compiled 14 wins on four different tours.
  • Samuel Shafiishuna Daniel Nujoma, a Namibian revolutionary, anti-apartheid activist and politician who served three terms as the first President of Namibia, from 1990 to 2005. Nujoma was a founding member and the first president of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) in 1960. He played an important role as leader of the national liberation movement in campaigning for Namibia’s independence from South African rule. Nujoma led SWAPO during the lengthy Namibian War of Independence, which lasted from 1966 to 1989.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, and Remuneration needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2], [3]. Image sources: Jonatan Pie [1].