A new app launched in South Sudan on Friday aims to help aid workers reunite thousands of children with their families after they became separated during a five-year war and identify other vulnerable children.
The app was developed by the United Nations children’s agency (UNICEF) and the charity Save the Children to allow the hundreds of field workers tracing families in South Sudan to share information on their phones or tablets.
“Case workers are the backbone of everything we do. They walk for hours and hours under the scorching sun, wade through mud, travel for days on bumpy dirt roads to knock on doors,” said Rama Hansraj, head of Save the Children in South Sudan.
“They are in every corner of South Sudan, yet until now have found it difficult to communicate with other case workers on the other side of the country. With this new app, we’re bringing their work into the 21st century.”
South Suda has been ravaged by civil war since 2013 after clashes erupted between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.
The government signed a peace agreement with rebels in September, but the war has had a devastating impact. At least 50,000 people have been killed and one in three South Sudanese have been uprooted from their homes.
Children have borne the brunt of the violence, said aid workers, with more than 19,000 registered as missing, unaccompanied or separated from their families.
While more than 6,000 children have been reunited with their families, thousands are still living with temporary foster families or in care centres.
Many were abducted by armed factions to be used as child soldiers, informants or porters. Others were separated from their parents after an attack on their villages.
Some separated children are also migrants from poor families forced to look for work, or runaways who were facing physical or sexual abuse at home, said aid workers.
Child protection case workers – who come from various charities as well as the government – will now be able to directly input data on separated children into the app so that other field workers can easily access it.
The app is connected to a database featuring children’s pictures and biodata, as well as details on circumstances leading to separation and where their family used to live.
“The app will be vital in a poorly connected South Sudan. It can be synced before the case worker heads out and allows them to access the necessary files while in remote areas,” said Helene Sandbu Ryeng from UNICEF in South Sudan.
The app has photo and sound features, which is crucial – especially when parents and their children have been separated for years, which is often the case in South Sudan, added Ryeng.
It will also help identify minors who need help such as counselling for trauma.
Field workers will be able to input data on their apps, according a level of priority so that it can be quickly followed up by child protection teams based in their offices.
Masiyiwa to Bid for Ethiopian Telecoms License
Zimbabwean Billionaire and founder of Econet Global Ltd, Strive Masiyiwa has disclosed his position on acquiring a telecommunications license in Ethiopia, which is opening up the industry to foreign investment for the first time.
The Horn of African country has announced plans to sell as much as 49% of the state-owned monopoly, Ethiopian Telecommunications Corp and to issue two new spectrum licenses.
Carriers including Orange SA, MTN Group Ltd. and Vodacom Group Ltd. have already shown interest in the country of more than 100 million people, which has a relatively low level of data penetration and internet access.
Econet, through a number of its subsidiaries, is actively developing interests in Ethiopia.
Econet has operations in Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Burundi, with investments in Europe and South America.
The government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed had scheduled the liberalization of the industry for early this year.
However, it is yet to provide guidance on the exercise, including any limits on foreign ownership.
Common Customs bond in East Africa will to reduce costs
Importers in East Africa will from July, operate under a common Customs bond, to guarantee uniform import duties and taxes across all partner states.
Currently, the value of Customs bonds varies from country to country because of the application of different duty rates, valuation and sensitivity of goods.
Kenya requires importers of transit goods to secure a Customs bond issued by an insurance company, while delicate or sensitive cargo requires a bank or cash guarantee. In Uganda and Rwanda, the Customs bond is issued by an insurance company with rates based on the taxes charged by the destination country.
According to the East Africa Community Single Custom Territory Monitoring and Evaluation Committee, the common Customs bond will reduce the cost of doing business and goods turnaround time.
This common Customs bond is expected to be adopted during the Council of Ministers in July as part of the pillar to create a Customs Union. It is meant to create a level playing field for the region’s producers by imposing uniform competition laws, Customs procedures and external tariffs on goods imported from countries outside the EAC.
To secure cargo movement in the region, revenue commissioners from Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda in attendance, say they are already implementing cargo tracking systems and before the end of this year, there will be one data control centre to monitor and track cargo.
The new data control centre involves computerisation of all Customs systems and it will help in enhancing online tools, which include a regional dashboard, transport observatory system and a geographic information system.
A regional cargo tracking system is already operational on the Northern Corridor and has reduced cargo loss to close to zero in 2019.
According to the committee, the EAC secretariat in collaboration with Trade Mark East Africa and other partner states particularly the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) are looking into the possibility of interfacing the TRA Electronic Cargo Tracking System (ECTs) platform with existing ECTS systems along the central corridor.
Kenya Revenue Authority regional co-ordinator Southern Region Kenneth Ochola said they are setting up internal mechanisms in consultations with the Kenya Bureau of Standards to monitor compliance.
Carrefour faces Kenyan fines over unfair supplier deals
Kenya’s competition watchdog has fined Carrefour and ordered the French retail giant to review all its supply agreements within 60 days after the supermarket chain was found to be exploiting traders who supply it with goods.
The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) also ordered Carrefour through its franchise holder, Majid al Futtaim’s (MAF) to expunge six items from its supplier contracts that are said to give the store the power to offer ultra-competitive pricing to boost sales and increase market share.
The clauses include forcing suppliers to pay a non-refundable fee to do business with it and forcing merchants offering the retail chain goods to provide extra rebates or discounts.
Carrefour was found to be in breach of the law for forcing suppliers to post their own staff at its outlets at the expense of the suppliers. It was also accused of rejecting goods already delivered.
The retail giant has also been barred from delisting suppliers unilaterally without notice for failure to meet its stringent supply contract.
According to the CAK Director-General, Wang’ombe Kariuki, all current supply agreements of Majid Al Futtaim Limited relating to its Carrefour Hypermarkets in Kenya be amended forthwith and in any event within 60 days of service of this order to expunge all offending provisions.
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