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PACJA Executive Director’s statement following the demise of Safaricom CEO Bob Collymore on July 1, 2019-07-01

Fare thee well Bob Collymore

After years of steering Safaricom to greater heights, Bob Collymore bows out today, to an unknown land.

It is sad day. It is a loss for many.

One thing is, however, for sure; Bob Collymore did indeed fight a good all-round fight. We called more, but we also learnt a lot from his resilience to the killer cancer since 2017.

That he was bent on ensuring Safaricom sustained its niche as one of the most profitable telcos in the region and a source of employment and revenue for many, was not in doubt. But Bob Collymore also took time to think of other issues, such as climate change and the Sustainable Development Goals. He worried about effects of the climate crisis, as expressed in an article titled: Africa doesn’t need aid; it needs climate action, which he published earlier this year.

“…businesses must send strong signals to governments in support of ambitious climate policy. We must work together to make bold policy changes that address climate change, provide financing and incentives for private sector investment, and build capacity for Africa – and the rest of the world – to become more resilient to global warming. We’ve talked long enough; the time for action is now,” Bob Collymore had said early in the year.

As an ardent climate justice fighter, the statement made a lot of sense to me as an individual, and for our team at the Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA).

We will continue this fight. We will continue to call upon the private sector, businesses and individuals to join in the fight for cleaner environment, food, and the air we breath.

We might not do so much, but whatever we do, little as it may be, as Bob Collymore put it, it is something, and it may help someone.

The death of Collymore is a loss for Safaricom, Kenya and the entire world.

Rest in Peace Bob! We promise to call for more involvement of private sector and businesses in this fight against Climate Justice.

 

 

Mithika Mwenda,

Executive Director,

The Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance.

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First International Conference on Agroecology Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems in Africa

PACJA joined other international climate champions to mark the first Agroecology Conference meant to transform agriculture and food systems in Africa.

There has been a growing interest in agro-ecology in recent years as an innovative and sustainable response to the challenges facing food and agriculture systems. Through a series of nine regional and international multi-stakeholder meetings, more than 2,100 participants from 170 countries came together in Kenya’s capital Nairobi to discuss the potential of agroecology to transform food and agriculture systems, as well as identify needs and priorities to scale up agroecology as a strategic approach to achieving Zero Hunger and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

There are less organic farmers than non-organic farmers, and it is more of a challenge to find reliable and steady suppliers of truly organic produce that can meet industry demands, the meeting agreed.

Agroecology isn’t just a single action, it’s a whole system, and has to be done as a system in order to reach a sustainable food production,” said Hans R Herren, a participant at the event.

Herren said climate and food security champions would be forced to appear as one voice if they want to achieve sustainable food production. He said Africa spends up to $32 million importing food while she has only 3 million farmers.

Malik Cane, a member from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said startups from developing countries were creating innovative solutions to improve ways of doing agriculture.

In her presentation at the event held at Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Sarah Olembo, a technical Expert on Sanitary and phytosanitary issues; food safety at the African Union Commission in Addis Ababa mentioned that healthy soils, healthy water and healthy systems were the way to go. Sarah urged the participants to have pride in producing and supporting our own products.

Sarah saw it important to bring back the role of women in agriculture, saying women have to get down to work and learn new technology that can improve old-school agricultural practices.

Participants were encouraged to use social media as part of networking and sharing information on biodiversity.

Herren said humans had to be aware of the forces that try to stop the “journey of agro-ecology”.

It came as a shock to many once they heard that very soon famers might be charged to use rainwater on their farms.

In the country food safety and standards are regulated by a variety of laws, including the Public Health Act, Cap 242 and the Food Drug Chemical Substances Act, Cap 254.

As a way forward, it was noted that everyone needed to work towards demystifying the narrative that agroecology cannot serve the nation.

“We need to diversify opportunities in agro-ecology, and be the drivers of agro-ecology,” participants were told.

Experts and participants were urged to develop change that could be used to convince the rest of the world, especially Africa, to embrace agro-ecology.

Participants of the three-day event also agreed to be hosting a series of such conferences, but before that, people should spread the word on agroecology.

The experts said feedback from the ground would lay the agenda of the upcoming conferences.

 

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Chinese envoy denies his country’s involvement in controversial Lamu coal power project

The Chinese Ambassador to Kenya has sought to clear his country's name from the controversial coal-fuelled power plant in Lamu that has seen Civil Society groups and the coastal town’s residents protest in the streets.

Ambassador to Kenya Wu Peng, while addressing representatives of Pan-African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) and some Kenyan Civil Society groups in the embassy in Nairobi today refuted claims that his country was involved in the construction of the plant in Lamu.

The meeting was a result of a petition delivered by PACJA at the embassy on a day they also held street protests in Nairobi, claiming that the coal project was not worth doing because it was going to leave Kenyans poorer and sicker due to the environmental and other degradations that were likely to come with such projects, including heightened green house gas emission.

A Supreme court National Environment Tribunal in Nairobi, cancelled the AMU Power license to construct the plant and asked the firm and the nation’s National Environment Management Authority (NEMA) to do a new Environment Impact Assessment and engage the community more before a go-ahead fro the construction could be given. The Tribunal cited insufficient public participation.

AMU Power is one of the firms that were awarded a tender to construct the plant.

“Kenyan people have the final say on this project and the Chinese government respects that,” the Ambassador said.

He reiterated that his Government was not directly involved in the construction of the plant, as those contracted were businesses or companies from China looking for business opportunities.

“Chinese companies are here because Kenyan government invited them to invest here and do this project. We can only do what we are allowed to do, in consistence with the diplomatic principles at play,” said Wu.

A business director at Power China confirmed that despite having signed a contract more than three years ago, to construct the plant, work had not started on sight.

William Sharify, the businessman, said they would wait for a go-ahead from the Government.

Representing PACJA at the meeting were Charles Mwangi, Olivia Adhiambo and Khaduyu Michael, all who focus on clean energy at the CSO. “We must be cognisant of the fact that this project will come with negative effect on our land, the Lamu people’s economic mainstay, on the air and the ocean (Indian) and all the living things in it, as there will be massive pollution and of air and water, as well as the aquatic life,” said Ms Adhiambo, the Thematic Lead (Energy) at PACJA.

They called on the Government to invest more on clean and renewable energy as well as consider how the biodiversity would be affected if such a project as in the coastal Lamu County, which is a UNESCO-recognised historical area with more than 60 archipelagos and a lot of other resources that local residents have relied on.

The coal power project is expected to cost more than $1.9 billion.

The CSOs have urged the Government to cancel the project and save the country the debts that would also come with it, as well as strive to stick to the Paris Agreement that it is a signatory of.

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