Transcript of ‘London Political Summit: Pre Summit 2020 Virtual Conference. Theme - COVID-19, Post-COVID-19 and SDGs Positives. 21st July, 2020.
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: At a time when civil action and political discourse is focusing on Black Lives Matter, to bring justice, healing and freedom to the global community, all that today is illuminating and timely. What matters is a safe space where we can connect, learn, think freely and transform the world.
The London Political Summit provides us with this transforming space to discuss the ideas that nations should govern themselves in the face of universal challenges including burning platforms such as globalization, climate change and of course COVID-19. The London Political Summit is a growing think tank platform set to engage with political, social and economic leaders. The theme of this Pre-Summit: ‘COVID-19, Post-COVID-19 and SDGs Positives’, allows us to consider the contemporary COVID-19 political challenges and socio-economic uncertainty across the globe.
Ladies and gentlemen, the COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time and the greatest challenge the world has faced since World War II. Since its emergence in Asia last year, the virus has spread to every continent except Antarctica. The pandemic is much more than a health crises. It is also an unprecedented socio-economic crises, disrupting every one of the countries it touches. It has the potential to create devastating socio-economic, political and cultural effects that will leave deep and long lasting scars. If there was any doubt that our world faces common challenges, this pandemic has categorically put that to rest. The crises has reinforced the interdependence of our world. It has brought to the fore the urgent need for global action to meet people’s basic needs, to save our planet, and to build a fairer and resilient world.
We all face common global challenges that we must solve through common global solutions. After all, in a crises like this, we are only as strong as our weakest link. The sustainable development goals, the global blueprint to end poverty, protect our planet and ensure prosperity, is all about leaving no one behind; the farthest first, and reaching the vulnerable.
Sadly, this pandemic hit us at a time when the SDGs where gaining traction and a significant number of countries were making good progress eradicating absolute poverty and attaining nearly all the world’s environmental targets was almost within reach. Today, as the world is seized with containing the virus and addressing its negative impacts. The reality is that countries are resetting their priorities and reallocating resources to deal with the pandemic. This certainly is the right thing to do because the priority now is to save lives and we must do so at all cost.
Ladies and gentlemen, our fear is that returning to the SDGs may be irrelevant if we do not go back to the drawing board quickly. Member states might pick their own targets and think that the SDGs was a wasted opportunity. In some sense, there is value to that discussion, because they know that they have already thought about what they want and what is relevant to them. And our voices today, could add to this discussion and highlight the SDGs positives.
The most striking SDG positive is SDG 17 on partnerships. In the response to COVID-19, partnerships have been forged between international organizations, governments and the private sector. Harnessing partnerships can mobilize resources to provide health related solutions outlined in SDG 3. An overriding element of the 2030 agenda, is the power that stakeholders and individuals can play in the realization of the SDGs. This agenda calls for the locally led responses and community led participation in development. The agenda opens the door for people-centered approaches and for civic responsibility which are crucial in the pandemic and in the recovery.
Tackling the many unforeseen issues that arise in the pandemic spread, can be made easier by applying the lessons from approaches used to achieve the goals and targets in the SDGs. The beauty of the SDGs is that they were all agreed upon by the global community. The negotiation on them was democratic. Not politically democratic, but rather and inclusive democracy. The amount of money projected that the world will spend to achieve the SDGs is actually small when compared to global spending.
The main vehicles to fund the SDGs were to be improved for instance, for health and for education and partnerships from the private sector and private investment. Above all, the corona virus pandemic and its effect on all sectors, has demonstrated the need for more attention to long term sustainable development.
The 2030 agenda encompasses the complexity, interconnectedness and interdependence among health, development, peace and stability, through its 17 goals. In achieving these goals and responding to pandemics, member states need to adopt a holistic approach in which global health is accounted for.
Improved health would help reduce poverty and hunger, improve education and gender equality and strengthen peaceful societies and just institutions, all of which are encompassed in the mutually reinforcing goals of the SDGs.
Ladies and gentlemen, let’s focus on Malawi for a second. Congratulations to Malawi! Today with us, we have the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Honourable Deputy Minister for Health of Malawi. May we send through them a congratulatory message to your president – His Excellency Lazarus Chakwera and the Malawi Congress Party.
The challenge for Malawi remains to implement the highly participatory SDG processes in your country for poverty alleviation, the achievement of child and maternal health and education goals. And we note, that your government has already put in place health care and targeted social assistance programs and an emergency cash transfer program for the people of Malawi. We also note the government support of small and micro enterprise in order to keep your economy buoyant. We are happy to share with you best practice from the Kenyan National Emergency Response Committee and the work of our National Business Compact Coalition. Our Honourable Member of Parliament – Millie Odhiambo will do so.
And Nigeria. Nigeria, we are delighted that you are present on this call. And your Excellencies, we want to acknowledge President Muhammadu Buhari, for his well-known efforts in fighting corruption, in tackling unemployment and insecurity, in diversifying your economy, and in enhancing climate resilience. The heritage of the women of Nigeria and their business skills are well known globally. And your Minister for Women’s Affairs is on the call.
Nigeria has been severely hit by the COVID-19 and the government has put in place some measures to contain the virus, including the Lockdown, which we know has affected your economy adversely. Fuel prices have been sharply reduced. The government even in spite of this, has allocated funds to the health sector and into medical interventions.
In the United Kingdom, we have our dear Honourable Paul Bristow on this call.
The first confirmed case of COVID-19 was reported on January 31st this year. Today, the pace of infections and deaths associated with COVID-19 has eased from its peak and we’re beginning to see your economy open up. However, we must acknowledge significant tax and spending measures that have been put in place to support households and families during the emergency. We like to hear more about this on the call.
And Kenya, my country. Kenya has the potential to be one of Africa’s success stories from its growing youthful population and its dynamic private sector, its highly skilled workforce. And today, Kenya’s experience in handling a new constitution and what we call the Building Bridges Initiative, which was celebrated by the London Political Summit, will be pivotal in Africa.
The first confirmed COVID-19 case in Kenya, was reported on March 14th of this year, and our government has adopted a number of containment measures including social distancing and heightened restrictions on most non-essential social gatherings in order to contain the virus. And we’ll be sharing with you more about our response to the COVID-19, led by our National Response Committee, coordinated by the Ministry of Health.
And to all on the call, the African Union has put in place a Vaccine Initiative. An innovative program led by non-other than the President of South Africa, which will benefit Africa member states.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a rich discussion ahead of us. I welcome all of you to the discussion and I look forward to hearing from you. I want to welcome you once again to the London Political Summit 2020.
I would like to hand over now to our moderator – my dear friend and sister, Dr. Pauline Long. Thank you very much.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much. Thank you very much Ambassador Ojiambo for that eloquent and significant round up of the Summit. We value you highly. Now, I know that the MP Paul Bristow has just entered the house. I will love to invite him to spare a few minutes, maybe seven minutes or slightly more because we are running out of time, to speak to us on actions on COVID, Post-COVID and also what’s the vaccine agenda for the UK, for Africa and the rest of the world.
Honourable Paul Bristow, you are welcome.
Hon. Paul Bristow MP: Well, thank you very much indeed for the opportunity to speak with you all. Forgive me if I am in a bit of a darkened room. I am in a hotel and it is not easy to get a lightened space. It gives me enormous pleasure to speak to all of you here today. My good friend Godson Azu, thank you. He is on the call and he invited me to speak with you today, but I didn’t quite understand what distinguished guests and dignitaries that would be on the call today. It is absolutely wonderful to hear how from the previous speaker, how many distinguished people we have on the call. And I think what this virus has shown us; what this COVID emergency has shown us, is about how interdependent we are, because what happens in China; and let’s be honest about where the outbreak started, it started in China. What happens in China and what happens in Malawi, and what happens in Kenya and what happens in Nigeria, affects Britain and vice versa. What happens in Britain affects those countries as well, and I will just like to, after hearing some of the success stories about what happened in Malawi and Kenya and Nigeria, I’ll like to congratulate all the politicians from those countries that are on this call, for the way that they have responded.
Someone said that Kenya has the potential to be one of Africa’s powerhouses. I think we just really need Kenya to be one of Africa’s powerhouses, and I think you already are; so you should feel very pleased about that.
Let me just talk a little bit about how the UK has managed this kind of coronavirus pandemic and emergency. I think countries have basically been able to manage the situation in two different ways. The first is, they have to make the decision about whether they are able to contain the pandemic or they want to treat the pandemic. And obviously, you can do both things in different ways, but I think different countries have chosen different methodologies.
Now, Britain is a multicultural world destination. London is not just Britain’s capital; the UK’s capital. I mean I will argue along with perhaps New York and perhaps Hong Kong, that the UK is the world’s capital; the global capital. We have probably people from every country on earth living in London. It really is a global city. So, the ability to try and contain the disease in a city like London was almost going to be incredibly difficult, because what countries have done is to use their borders as a natural defense against COVID-19 and that has been incredibly difficult in a country like Britain. And because we do have the NHS; a very unique health system in the world, where we treat people on the basis of need rather than on their ability to pay, has meant that we do have the capacity to manage the disease.
Now, since some of the things you saw in perhaps other Western countries like Italy and in Spain, were not repeated in the UK, you didn’t see the local health systems overwhelmed. And the primary objective of the UK government has always been to ensure that the NHS; our health care system, has not been overwhelmed and you’ve seen people treated and laying on the streets and so forth. So that’s why the lockdown came into being. I’m not saying it’s been plain sailing in the UK, of course not. The lockdown has had serious, serious effects on our economy, and also serious impacts upon our public services such as teaching, and of course our health system, because there were many people who require other treatments and have not been able to be treated because of the COVID-19 emergency. There are lots of people who need their children educated in mainstream schooling, and have not been able to be educated in mainstream schooling. So I’m not necessarily saying that our approach has always been without consequence, because it has. Though overwhelmingly, we have decided to treat our way and increase capacity to get ourselves out of this crisis, rather than trying to contain it. That’s a little bit too difficult.
Britain is a rich country, so in response to that, because of the shutdown, we’ve been able to use our strong economy in order to protect businesses in the UK. So we’ve instituted what is called the Furlough Scheme. Some of you may be aware of that and some may not. What the Furlough Scheme has done, is the government has paid up to eighty percent of all employees’ wages in the UK, if those people become economically inactive. So a company could conceivably make a significant number of their employees on the Furlough Scheme. Which means the government is paying eighty percent of their wages. Britain can afford to do this, but there are many other countries in the world that can’t and I understand. And Britain has been able to afford to bail out other sectors which are the leisure sector, the aviation sector, the performing arts, all sorts of different sectors; the financial services sector. So that’s what Britain has been able to do, whereas other countries I equally appreciate, are not able to do.
But you know in Britain, we don’t have an everlasting pot of money and a lot of this money would have been borrowed and of course debt we’re placing on the shoulders of our children and our grandchildren. So we really need to get our economy moving again, because we have experienced probably the biggest contraction in the UK economy, on record; as a result of this crisis. Now, things are beginning to look a little up again and we’re coming out of crises and we also have the biggest increase in economic activity on record as well. So, we are coming out of it and we need to come out of it in a safe and managed way, but as quickly as possible because the country cannot afford to ever be paying these ever mounting debts. So that’s an incredibly positive thing.
The other thing that I just want to mention is talking about our future in terms of the vaccine, because the UK has an enviable life science and research industry, and really very well respected academic institutions and of course our NHS allows us to have a public record of everyone who requires health care. So, that enables us to get ahead of the race when it comes to trying to find a global vaccine. A lot of people have said, “why can’t we all work together on a global vaccine?” But I think often, we are working together, that’s the first thing to point out. Also, I think the idea of competition allows us to excel and I think the UK does have all the natural advantages, also the universities are doing incredible work and I think they are nearly there. But when I say nearly there, we’ll obviously take some sort of response. But what happens in Oxford? What happens to this vaccine will have impacts on Nigeria, Malawi, Kenya and also on all the countries represented here today, and I am really looking forward to the time whether it happens in the UK or whether it happens elsewhere, that we get a vaccine for this condition.
Exciting news is emanating from the UK, not just on the vaccine, but on new drugs and new ways and new techniques of dealing with corona that are reducing the impact of corona by thirty five percent. That was the latest thing that came out only a few days ago, with the use of a particular drug. So new innovation is coming from the UK. It’s not all doom and gloom. And once we get through this, the UK is emerging from the European Union and is becoming an independent free trading country again. And once it does, Britain needs to take its global role much more seriously, working with countries in Africa and across the world, in order to use its soft power and its economic power to improve the lives of people across the world including in Africa and I am very delighted to answer any question that you might have.
Dr. Pauline Long:- Honourable Paul Bristow, thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to join us and speak to the world about what is happening in the UK. Yes, please stick around. There are questions flying to you; already getting some messages, people saying they need to ask you some questions. I don’t know what questions they are. Thank you very much.
Godson Azu:- Sorry Pauline, Paul will like to answer one or two questions immediately because he may leave any time, because of his place in the parliament.
Hon. Paul Bristow MP: I’m afraid there are going to be votes in the House of Commons in the next half an hour or so. So, I’ll like to answer questions now if possible.
Dr. Pauline Long: Ok, alright, so can we have the questions for whoever wants to ask Paul? I have two questions. We can take two questions. Allan, do you have the questions? Or Ambassador Josephine? Who has the questions?
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: I’m looking to see if anybody’s hand is up on the participants list. You can always just raise your hand, amongst any of the participants who wishes to ask a question. But if there isn’t a question, I would want to ask the Honorable Paul Bristow, yes, to speak to us a little bit about the role of the private sector and communities. You have spoken very eloquently about the NHS, about the government and spoken to us about the Furlough Scheme, and even gone a bit further and spoken to us about vaccine initiatives which I think are in the realm of both the government and academia. But tell us a little bit about the role of the individuals, civic responsibility in the United Kingdom and the role of the private sector. And I will continue to look among the participants list for any question.
Hon. Paul Bristow MP: I think a strong thread for the British character is that we trust in institutions and we trust government. And when the government tells us to do something, in the main, we do it. And the most important thing when we institute a lockdown such as we have, is to endeavor and gain public trust and I think the UK is at a unique experience in terms of the lockdown that we have had almost universal compliance with lockdown. Now, I know that lots of other countries have had high levels of compliance and you know, if we are being completely honest with ourselves, other countries have ensured their compliance has been done, you know, through police and the authorities making a very robust approach. The UK doesn’t have that. We don’t have that. I think it is a unique feature of the British people. Now, I’m not saying that their patience is everlasting. It is not and I think we are already beginning to see huge levels of rejection of lockdown messages. I think not too much, but we are beginning to see that level of differential compliance beginning to flag. But I think it is important to emphasize that it is only because the British people in huge numbers have complied with the lockdown rules that the UK has managed to get on top of it.
Secondly, I think what has managed to happen in terms of private sector response, is that the UK has a strong economy and it’s got strong businesses. Not just British businesses, but foreign businesses as well who have come to the national efforts and have begun to produce things such as PPE, testing equipment, and also some other things that we didn’t necessarily have, is part of it, because no one can predict a pandemic. Now, we’re very fortunate in Britain that we have the ability to produce these things in pace and scale, but it is not the government producing these things, it is private companies producing these things. It is a private enterprise producing these things. It is not the British government necessarily looking after their neighbours and looking after elderly people who isolate in their home during the lockdown. It has actually been individuals doing this. And of course it is not the British government creating a vaccine. It is actually private enterprise and private academia. And so all of this comes from the strength of our economy and the strength of the environment in which our economy works; that we do allow the freedom to be able to be free and make money and have a fair and transparent legal system and a fair and transparent tax system. And that has enabled the UK to achieve what it has.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much for that. I’ve just got two questions that I can squeeze in very quickly. Edith Parker is asking “what advice can you offer to African governments, who are struggling to manage the crises?”
Hon. Paul Bristow MP: Something else happened in the UK. The UK is almost a country that is too honest; in terms of the level of infection and the way we record things. In a desperation to be as transparent and honest as possible, I think we have slightly overrated the public and should people contact COVID and die twenty eight days later of something else, we are declaring that as a COVID death, because we are trying to be honest and open. I actually think that is going too far, but one thing I will always advise developing countries to do is not to be too sensitive and to just be open and honest on your record as a government. And if you do have outbreaks, and you do have increased levels of transmission, if you do have deaths associated with the condition, well then, report those figures in so far as you can; as honestly and as openly as you possibly can. I’m sure that is happening, but the reason you should do that is because I think compliance with lockdown measures only comes with a level of public trust. Secondly, I also think if you are as open and honest as possible, you can get international help; in terms of advice and in terms of resources.
You know, certainly, the strength of the economies of many African countries is totally underestimated. I am sick to death of African countries being portrayed as backward and as not nimble and relying on Western or Chinese investment. I know that this is not the case. I know that the biggest capitalism and popular capitalism and economic growth and an increase in world prosperity is only going to happen with substantial African impulse. Africa is going to be where this is for the next sort of fifty years in terms of the significant increases in economic growth, life dependency and all these things that popular capitalism can bring. So, I will encourage African countries to open up their economies as much as possible.
Do not be perfectionists. Be proud of your record. And if you do this, your economic growth will only improve as it can. And be as transparent as popular and embrace popular capitalism. In that way, I would hope that economic growth will come and you are able to get on top of this COVID pandemic as quickly as possible.
Sorry I went almost a bit over one minute. I feel very passionate about where economic growth is going to come from; where world economic growth is going to come from in the future, and Africa is key to that.
Dr. Pauline Long: I know that you are in a hurry, but I have some specific questions also from people in countries like Malawi for instance, Yonah is asking, “what measure the UK government is doing to help Malawi in particular during this COVID-19 pandemic?”
Hon. Paul Bristow MP: I am not sure very specifically about what we are doing to help Malawi in particular. All I know is that Malawi is, … I saw this invitation today to join your party parliamentary group on Malawi which is a group of MPs who come together to help the country, but Malawi and Britain have been friends ever since Malawi’s independence and it is a country that we need to ensure that we have this close relationships and hopefully I can join that APPG and understand a lot more about that part of the world.
Dr. Pauline Long: And Chris is asking, “does Britain have a test and trace app for remote areas of Africa or does Britain intend to penetrate the remote areas of Africa to provide test and trace?”
Hon. Paul Bristow MP: I think Britain has got a very effective test and trace system adopted. What has been very interesting as I said earlier about Britain has got a very good track record of being a compliant population, etcetera, but I will tell you what countries in Asia have also got. There’s a lot we can learn from Asian countries on compliance and testing and so the UK does have a test and trace system and it has been very effective, but we’ve learnt a lot from countries in Asia about how they have managed their test and trace system.
So, I will encourage countries in Africa again too, let’s learn from the UK. But when I say countries in Asia, I am not necessarily talking about China by the way, because I think that some of the ways they have handled this crises is not necessarily a positive one. But countries like Taiwan and Japan will be good models for countries in Africa to copy. That’s how Britain has copied their test and trace system, as well as traditional rest of the countries too.
Dr. Pauline Long: Ok, I think I’ll take one more question. There are still many more questions coming, but I mind your time as you have to head. And so, Tinali from the UK is asking “has the test and trace now been abandoned in the UK?”
Hon. Paul Bristow MP: Well, test and trace hasn’t been abandoned in the UK at all. It’s up and running. I think it’s very effective. Every time you go into a restaurant or into a pub, you have to give your name and your address, if you go abroad and you come back to the UK or you went to the UK, you have to give your name and your address, and if the authorities suspect a case of COVID, you are asked to isolate for fourteen days. Now, critics may point to perhaps, you know, why we haven’t a hundred percent compliance. You know, we have very good levels of compliance, but we don’t live in a police state in the UK. And so, we won’t send the police around to arrest somebody if they go out their front door. But at the same time, every person who just stays in and every person who just complies with tests and traces are saving lives and protecting our NHS and to that extent, I think it has been very effective.
Dr. Pauline Long: Ok, I did say that was the final question, but let me just ask this question from Ambassador Ojiambo, a very important question. She is asking, “what role in terms of legislation, have the UK MPs like yourself, played during COVID-19.” Just briefly if you can share with us.
Hon. Paul Bristow MP: Well, something I did feel very personally was when I spoke and I voted on the COVID legislation, because what we were in effect asking the population to do was something that was very unusual in Britain. We were taking rights and liberties away from individuals and I had to vote on that and I had to say yes. That is something very unusual to a country like Britain and those countries like Malawi and Kenya who have adopted some of our parliamentary democratic methods, will feel this just as much. Asking people to stay in, not to have our individual liberty, is an incredibly difficult thing to do and to make that punishable by the Law. You know, you can arrest people and issue them fines if they don’t agree. That was a very difficult thing to do. So, that was legislation. We have also voted on legislation that would enact the Furlough Scheme which I talked about earlier. Those grants to businesses, those grants to individuals to make sure that the economy can go and move forward. Britain is a wealthy country. We can afford to do that, I know it’s not the same elsewhere in the world.
But the thing that I will say, the biggest thing that I have been able to do as a politician; a back bench politician, I represent Peterborough, a city Godson knows very well. It’s a multicultural city, a multi-ethnic city and we’ve all come together as one city. We come in different shapes and sizes, we come in different colours and creeds, we speak different languages, but we are one city. And through that effort, we have managed to look after our most vulnerable. We have managed to look after difficult communities, refugees, elderly people, those in poor homes and leading that effort as an MP, I have managed to make huge differences. So that is one of the most proud things that I have done as a member of parliament during this crisis.
I think there has been an interference, but I hope you heard my answer?
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: Yes, that was a very good answer. Thank you very much, Honourable Paul Bristow.
Yes, I want to thank the Honourable Paul Bristow for sharing with us. We have listened to his eloquent presentation, where he has highlighted the work that the United Kingdom government has undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic, he has looked at the issues of the NHS, he has told us about the economy of the UK and how they were able through a resilient economy, to put in place mechanism such as the Furlough Scheme. He has said that despite it being a very strong economy, it has faced the greatest contraction of itself during COVID, but also the biggest increase as well. He has spoken about vaccine initiative, he has also spoken about Brexit and he has spoken a little bit about civic responsibility and the private sector role during COVID-19. He has given us a vote of confidence to the African economies represented on this call, and spoken about popular capitalism. And then he told us about the role of parliamentarians as legislators and specifically about some of the challenges that legislators have faced during COVID-19 in terms of legislating on human rights. He has also spoken about grants; grants to businesses and grants to individuals.
The Honourable Paul Bristow has to return to work in the House and I think the London Political Summit that had visited him is very thankful, together with all members of this call, for Honourable Paul Bristow’s contribution.
I would like to now hand back to our moderator, for her to call up our next discussant and I want to underscore the need for Allan and team to remove quickly from the call, those people who are interrupting our discussions. Please do not let us tell you about it. Just remove them please. Thank you.
Pauline please go ahead. You have the floor Pauline.
If Dr. Long is not on, may I move forward with the program?
And if so, then I would like to ask if our special guest keynote speaker, the Honourable Minister Dr. Pauline Tallen, Minister for Women Affairs Nigeria, is present? And if so, Honourable Tallen, you have the floor.
Godson Azu: The Honourable Minister is yet to be on here. As soon as I identify her, I will let you know. Let’s go to the other speakers who are here at the moment. We can call on the Honourable Deputy Health Minister from Malawi. I think she is here now.
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: Thank you very much Mr. Azu. Then, I will turn now to another special guest speaker. We have already passed a big vote of confidence and congratulations to the government now in place in Malawi. Let’s turn to the Honorable Deputy Minister for Health, Honourable Chrissie Kanyasho – Deputy Minister for Health, Malawi.
Honourable Chrissie you have the floor.
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Thank you very much. Good afternoon everybody. I am going to speak on ‘COVID-19, its impact on SDGs and Suggested Actions to keep the Momentum’.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, it is a great honour for me to address this London Political Summit 2020, Pre-Summit on ‘COVID, Post-COVID-19 and SDGs Positives’.
Malawi like many countries, is a signatory to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. We know that all the 17 SDGs are interlinked and it is hard to achieve one without the necessary improvements in many others. Please allow me however, to zero in on SDGs 3 and 6, which as a Deputy Health Minister are of immediate concern and more so in the light of COVID-19.
SDG 3 challenges us to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages, while SDG 6 urges us to ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.
Wellbeing is broad and measured in so many dimensions. As would be expected, Malawi is doing well in some dimensions, and not so well in others. We have sustained consistent decline in infant, child and neonatal mortality, drastically reduced deaths due to HIV, and attained the 90-90-90 HIV targets ahead of schedule and reduced malaria and TB deaths, are main key milestones. Life expectancy has consequently improved, being estimated as sixty three years for both males and females. On the other hand, the burden of communicable diseases is increasing and there are still significant health system bottlenecks to deliver universal health coverage.
For SDG 6, one of the targets is to achieve universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all by 2030. In Malawi, eighty seven percent of households use an improved source of drinking water. Only eight percent of households however, have piped water into their dwelling, yard or plot.
Talking about COVID-19, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, Malawi has been affected just like so many other countries. We registered the first confirmed COVID-19 case on 2 April, 2020. Meanwhile, a state of national disaster had already been declared by the former president before we had a case. This entailed closure of schools, closure of borders, restrictions on gatherings and other personal preventative measures. We believe this helped to keep the cases low. However, cases began to rise when there was a lapse in managing infected returnees from abroad, which led to increased local transmission.
The national COVID-19 response met with challenges including limited testing capacity at the beginning and inadequate Personnel Protective Equipment (PPEs), due to disruption to the global supply chain system and excess global demand among others. On the other hand, COVID-19 provided an opportunity in investing in health systems holistically. More health workers were recruited across different careers, diagnostic capacity was strengthened and treatment facilities were boosted.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, as you may know, the impact of COVID-19 has not only been its disease burden and mortality, we understand that utilization of other essential health services has gone down. This could be due to first, an adjustment period during which the health care system was working out how to continue the provision of essential services in the midst of the pandemic and when there was a lot of merging and rapidly changing evidence which needed to be adequately understood by policy makers, to make sure that right decisions were taken. Second, citizens have been urged not to visit health facilities and necessarily while some citizens have been cautious of these health facilities nevertheless. Third, health workers capacity has diminished due to infected health workers who have had to go on quarantine and, fourth, financial resources have been reallocated away from other essential health services to the COVID-19 response. It is also likely that mortality due to non COVID-19 causes increased, because of the reduced utilization of healthcare. This, we are yet to ascertain.
School closure due to COVID-19, will in the long run and long term, cost the country due to reduced future productivity. In the short term however, teenage vices may escalate.
COVID-19 has also impacted the economy. Industry has contracted, people have lost jobs, many small and medium enterprises have gone under and tax revenues have consequently declined. COVID-19 therefore affects not only SDGs 3 and 6 but also many other ones, and risks dampening the momentum that countries including ourselves, have had towards SDGs attainment.
As I conclude, I’ll like to point out issues that we need to consider as we either adapt to living with COVID-19 or recover from the effect of COVID when we finally overcome it.
First, we need to strengthen the capacity of all countries, particularly developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of indigenous and global health risks.
Second, health allocations should be prioritized in national budgets. In Africa, income countries, in order to build resilient health systems that can effectively contribute to global health security.
Third, the One Health approach is more relevant than ever and needs strengthening.
Fourth, African countries should join hands in research and development of COVID vaccines, so that we are not passive recipients of vaccine allocation; vaccine allocation decisions made by the North.
Fifth, economic stimulus programs will be imperative in order to give economies the necessary impetus. For Malawi, foreign capital injections at very concessional rates may be indispensable; given our high domestic debt levels.
Sixth, we have to strengthen our social protection programs so that it can reach more people.
Seven, there will be need for multilateral and ample bilateral lenders, to consider granting a moratorium on debt servicing and possibly debt cancellation, until the economy returns to Pre-COVID-19 levels.
Eight, investing in local manufacturing of PPEs and other medical products should be a priority for LMICs given the challenges we have faced from the global supply chain issues, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I will finish by stating that overcoming global health risks such as COVID-19 requires stronger international cooperation. Whether COVID-19 will be with us for a while or will go away, there are actions that should be taken either way, to make sure that we do not derail our momentum towards all the SDGs. I have come to the conclusion of my statement. Thank you very much for giving me the floor.
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: Thank you very much, Honourable Minister for Health. I am amazed at how much ground you have covered in the strength of your recommendations and before Pauline picks up, I just want Pauline and the rest of us to please just take a moment to recall that not only has the Honourable Minister for Health told us about SDGs 3 and 6, she has also told us about the adjustments that the health sector has had to put into place in order to address COVID-19, but also to address other health conditions to reduce excess mortality. And then, she has talked to us very comprehensively about a raft of recommendations that address in total, global health security. But she has gone through early warning, pandemic preparedness, resilient health systems, the One Health approach, the vaccine initiative, economic stimulus, social protection, multi and bilateral lending, debt cancellation, local capacity to manufacture, and then she has ended with overcoming global health risks.
I want to now ask Pauline to kindly let us know what the questions are that we want to pose to Honourable Chrissie before she steps down from the platform.
Pauline over to you.
Dr. Pauline Long: Right, I have unmuted. Ok. Thank you very much Honourable Chrissie. You have quite a few questions rolling in actually. Yonah says “thanks Honourable Deputy Minister, congratulations on your recent appointment. We must congratulate you for that.” He is keen to know “the new government’s master plan in tackling COVID-19. We hear about Malawians in South Africa adversely affected by COVID-19 and many returning home very sick or in coffins. So what is the Malawi government doing to address this immediate problem?” That is Yonah Matemba asking.
Over to Honourable Chrissie.
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Yes, actually I think the master plan that we are having as a Ministry of Health or as a government, is to try our best to reduce local transmissions, like, more restrictions on mass gatherings. The government is trying to acquire masks for the majority of the masses. We are going to quarantine most of our returnees.
As you know, most Malawians go to South Africa to work, so we have lots of them coming back because of COVID over there, and unemployment, so they come back to Malawi and we get local transmissions. That’s why our numbers have been going higher. So the government is putting in place quarantine centers so that everybody is tested at the border. If they are negative, they will be quarantined to make sure that maybe after a week or two they are tested again. If they have COVID, then they can be taken and get administered for COVID medication.
Dr. Pauline Long: So, is that ongoing now? The quarantine places; is that ongoing? The building of these places.
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Yes, we do have a few, but with the new government that has just come in, I think we are about maybe two or three weeks old, yes. We are trying to speed it up, get more quarantine centers and get more testing kits just to get the whole COVID situation manageable and under control.
Dr. Pauline Long: Right, Joyce Juma-Phiri is a bit concerned, so her question is “the hospitals in Malawi are in a desperate state. What has been put in place by the new government?” And of course Joyce, you must realize that the government has just stepped in nearly maybe two or three weeks old; but she’s asking, you know, what has been put in place to address this desperate situation and also she says “there are only seven ventilators for the population of eighteen million. What are the plans of the new government to address this?”
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: No, I think she has wrong information. We don’t have only seven ventilators. I know it is many. That is what people say.
Dr. Pauline Long: Can you give her figures? Because she is going with seven. Can you give figures?
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: At least over twenty. Over twenty ventilators. Which is not enough for a population of eighteen million. Of course, we need to do better.
Dr. Pauline Long: Kennedy is asking, “the COVID-19 situation has worsened in Malawi, because the Tonse Alliance was busy campaigning, thereby facilitating local transmission.” And he says the Comesa Centre closed in Mzuzu. An isolation center was destroyed by the supporters, and he points out there are consequences. What are your thoughts on this?
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Actually, we can’t say no transmissions never happened because we were campaigning, that will not be truthful.
Dr. Pauline Long: So you agree that they happened because or during the campaign?
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: No, it’s not just during the campaign. As far as the Health Ministry, we feel like the fact that we let people in from South Africa and neighbouring countries; Malawians. (They are not people, they are Malawians who were coming back home). When they came in, they were put in a quarantine center, but the majority escaped. So they escaped and they went back to the villages and to their homes and that’s how COVID started picking up.
Dr. Pauline Long: And the government didn’t have power to block, you know, stop people leaving.
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: No, they could not force them in. In fact, from what I heard is the group that came in several buses, they only spent maybe a night, then the following morning they all left by themselves. So I think this is what contributed to COVID having more local transmissions because of these people who came in.
Dr. Pauline Long: Right, there are still more questions coming for you but let me just ask the last one because I am just very conscious of time. Tinali is asking “why are Malawi borders still open while numbers are rising?”
Did you get that question?
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Yes, I get it. I’m trying to think now why our borders are still open. Right, our borders are closed. It is just for essential goods that are coming through the borders. But visits, no. Nobody is coming in to visit or going out to visit. It is just transportation. Transporters, because we have to have medicines, we have to have fuel; petrol, gas, you know. So it is only the heavy goods that are travelling interstate, so to say.
Dr. Pauline Long: Honourable Chrissie, I do still have other questions, but I think we are going to move on and we can answer these questions maybe slightly later. So thank you very much for your significant contribution. Thank you.
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: No, you’re welcome.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much.
Godson Azu: Sorry Pauline, one minute. Sorry please. I would ask that the Honourable Deputy Minister stay on, because we still have a lot of Malawian people there sending questions that they need to be answered.
I know the Foreign Affairs Minister is supposed to be on. I’m not sure if he is going to make it, but if he makes it that will be great. But then, Pauline please we need to quickly go to the other speakers that are online here. Professor Steve Azaiki I will like to say, is a very good prominent Nigerian academia politician who once served as the Secretary to the State Government for Bayelsa state, was an Honourable Commissioner, two time commissioner in Bayelsa State and is presently an elected member of the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives; the second arm of the National Assembly. He will be speaking from Abuja. I think you need to go in that order and then you introduce Hon Millie Odhiambo MP from Kenya. And then next after Hon Millie Odhiambo, then the other speakers will follow. Azaiki, Millie, and then the other speaker. And then after they finish speaking, we can now take the questions.
Over to you Pauline.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much. Can we bring on the professor please? Professor are you there? Welcome.
Godson Azu: Professor, unmute. Unmute, Professor. Unmute.
Prof. Steve Azaiki: Yes
Dr. Pauline Long: Are you there? Welcome. Welcome to the Pre London Political Summit and we would love to hear from you.
Prof. Steve Azaki: Hello everyone.
Godson Azu: Yes, hello, you’re welcome.
Prof. Steve Azaki: I’m happy that I am participating in this discussion. For me, sharing knowledge and experience is a welcome development and I have been listening to the speakers, from Ambassador to Chrissie and all of you, and I think that there is so much to learn from this conference.
My contribution, actually, I want to touch on some key issues that I think are affecting the growth and development of Africa, especially Nigeria.
Number one is corruption. Corruption is not particularly a Nigerian issue or problem, but we have very weak institutions. Very very weak, and the kind of constitution we have given to ourselves is too powerful. The president is too powerful. Now, we have the kind of government that is being operated in America, but America has institutions that are very strong. We all can bear witness to that. But in Nigeria, we have a president that is very powerful and we don’t have institutions that can checkmate him. We have to bring this up in our National Assembly to review our constitution because Nigeria is being guided by tribalistic sentiments, and religion plays a key role in our thinking here in Nigeria. So, these are issues that if possible, I will want contribution from the audience.
Then the second one is the COVID. Now, I have already moved a motion in the House. That motion, I moved that fifteen billion should be given to universities to set up laboratories to look at how, because we cannot be participants. We cannot sit down and wait for Britain, or America or Japan to develop a vaccine, then we will be struggling to buy it; when Nigerians are around the world. Basically, there is no major university in the world that you wouldn’t see a Nigerian professor. But back home here, we don’t have nothing, you know. So, we don’t even have testing facilities. Now, you are moving samples from hundreds of kilometers to go and be tested, when easily, universities in those states can set up laboratories to test.
These are very difficult times for Africa and I believe that Africa needs to stand up to be counted. We need to look at investing money in where we need to get some respect from the world. There are other people too, who are listening to what we are doing and I have some of my members who are interested in this conference. In fact, I am in the office. I am at the National Assembly of Nigeria, so some of the members are listening to this discussion. We know our problems but people don’t listen to us. So, we can share experiences from you on these two issues that for me is key to Nigeria, because we are going to face a lot of problems even after COVID.
You know, because we have a kind of secret system that people manufacture figures. People are just saying these issues have been resolved, we are looking at it, and we are not looking at anything. So, I believe that when others will be recovering in two three years, it will take Nigeria and some part of Africa to recover in fifty years, if we don’t put structures and mechanisms in place now. So I thank everybody for listening to me. I don’t know whether I have made sense. For me, I wanted to present what is important to me and to my country in this conference and I would like to hear from everyone. If anybody has questions, I am ready here. Thank you very much. Thank you for the opportunity.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much Professor Steve, your contribution is highly appreciated. Just stick around there may be questions that are directed towards you. Thank you.
Now, can I welcome the MP from Kenya, the formidable Millie Mabona. Honourable Millie Mabona, she is in the house, welcome. Please tell us the latest. What’s happening in Kenya?
Hon. Millie Mabona: Hello everyone. I just request that you give me a second because my mic is not working, so that I can mute the noise in the background. I will be back in a second.
Dr. Pauline Long: Okay. While Millie is coming, let me just highlight the things that we have heard so far, so that we keep focused on the discussion, yes. I’ll like to just help us think a little bit about what the Honourable Minister from Malawi spoke about; about a master plan and the focus on managing the protocols for returnees and on building local capacity. Those were some of her remarks to your questions.
Then Professor Steve, he has spoken about Nigeria – public institutions and accountability and corruption. He has spoken about governance and the centralized power for presidency. He has spoken about religion. He has spoken about Nigerians in diaspora, and given them a challenge in terms of contributing to the fight against COVID at home. He has talked about what we do now as an investment that we can look back on fifty years from today.
Now, I think we just ask our Honourable member, Millie Mabona, kindly continue with the floor.
Hon. Millie Mabona: Thank you. I hope I am on air? If I am on air just show me.
Dr. Pauline Long: Yes you are on air, welcome back.
Hon. Millie Mabona: My apologies. My earphone just started misbehaving when I was about to go on air. Thank you for inviting me to this forum. And I just want to say very briefly because I see there are a number of Kenyans, that in case you have spoken to issues of Kenya before I came in, because I was in an earlier meeting, then you’ll excuse me in case I repeat.
I’ll try to be very brief.
Number one, in Kenya, we have what we call the Big Four Agenda, which is the government strategy for realizing development within this period of the ruling government. And the Big Four Agenda includes manufacturing, food security, universal health coverage and housing. Now, with the coronavirus, this has actually affected the Big Four Agenda and I just want to look very quickly. I will not look at all the SDGs, but I will just mention in passing, some of the SDGs and how this has affected the Big Four Agenda.
Number 1 which is ‘No Poverty’, you discover that now, things are kind of at a standstill in every country of the world. It has affected income and even the taxation abilities of the government. In Kenya, we have actually had to give tax relief, and when a government gives tax relief, it means there is very little that is coming in, in terms of resources for the government to realize that agenda. Because a lot of the people in Kenya are in small and medium type enterprises, most people actually have lost jobs and even in the formal sector. Airways, hotel industries, tourism; because Kenya is big on tourism. So the majority of them have lost their jobs.
Secondly, on the issue of ‘Zero Hunger’, because of the same reasons, a lot of people are experiencing food security challenges.
Now, on the issue of ‘Good Health and Wellbeing’, of course, because of coronavirus, it has actually exposed our underbellies as countries and I like one of the mantras that our Health Minister has raised of late. It says, “if you treat coronavirus normally, it will treat you abnormally.” And as African countries, for the first time, it has exposed our underbellies and it has exposed weaknesses in our health systems, because suddenly we do not have enough resources to deal with the cases. For instance, people who may need ICU treatment, or even just people who may need the sort of urgent resources.
I have listened to the Minister for Health of Malawi and the challenges that they are facing are probably the same challenges – tracing, quarantine and all that. It is the same issue.
‘Quality of Education’, suddenly because of the issues of coming together, we are not able to continue. We have stopped our education, till next year. So actually in Kenya, this year is considered a lost year. But then, there are people who are able to continue with their education, especially children who are in private schools or children who are in towns. But children who are in rural areas are not able to access education.
The issue of ‘Gender Equality’, when you are moving on with the law that was to deal with some of these issues, is no longer a priority.
‘Clean Water and Sanitation’, we are now trying to come through, but it is a challenge.
‘Affordable and Clean Energy’, again, I don’t want to talk about that because it ceases to be a priority.
‘Decent Work and Economic Growth’, I think I have mentioned that when I’m talking about poverty.
‘Industry Innovation and Infrastructure’; that was part of our Big Four Agenda on manufacturing. It has been forced to slow down.
And then the issue of ‘Reduced Inequalities’, instead, the inequalities have expanded because the people who are in the middle income bracket, have now moved to lower income.
But the greatest challenge now is on the issue of ‘Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions’. We have a very strong constitution and I like what Professor Steve Azaiki said about Nigeria. In Kenya, we actually have a very strong constitution that holds our leaders to account, but during this corona period, we have seen that our police have unilaterally decided to suspend the constitution in some instances. We saw just a few days ago, a police who sexually abused a woman in a quarantine center, and we also saw police who have been beating people. So, in a way, there have been certain rights that have kind of been suspended by virtue of the things that are happening.
Because of time, I’m not going to go into exactly what Kenya is doing, but Kenya has tried. I would say that as a government, we have tried to expand our health system. I sit in the committee of budget. We took all the money from the budget on international travel and reinvested that money and put them into health facilities. We have put a lot more allocation on health in our current budget. So our challenge now, actually the greater challenge is education, because we focus very strongly on health.
Now, what is my recommendation from an African perspective? My recommendation will go back to what our Health Minister said, that “if you treat coronavirus normally, it will treat you abnormally”. Why am I saying this? African governments have realized that we have more resilience than we have ever known. This over dependence on the international community does not help us. Yes, it’s good to ask for debt forgiveness from a historical perspective, but going forward, Kenyans and the government of Kenya, has shown exceptional resilience and capabilities and we must therefore start building our own capabilities as countries, instead of having over reliance on, you know, outside nations. It is good to have cooperation, but we must build our own resilience and our own capabilities.
Within this corona period, we have seen young Kenyans who have come up and built beds, we have seen Kenyans who have actually done research which we never thought they would, we have seen Kenyans; young Kenyans in universities, coming up with ventilators. What does it mean? It means we have the capabilities and we need to invest locally. So, that would help in our own innovation in our manufacturing. Let’s invest in our countries and let us work, you know, South-South, even as we still maintain our international relations, but let us see how much Kenya can build Malawi and Nigeria and other countries. But also let us see. It has given us opportunities to refocus on what is truly important, and that is health and education. Thank you.
Dr. Pauline Long: Honourable Millie, thank you very much, for your worthy contribution. We really appreciate it. But let me just give you one question. Somebody who is listening very keenly is very concerned when you say ‘lost year’. ‘This year is a lost year for Kenya’ in terms of education. So, Yonah wants you to expand on that and what is the government doing about that? Is it just lost? Is that it?
Hon. Millie Mabona: Well, in Kenya, what we mean by ‘it’s a lost year, in terms of education’, is that, the last time our students attended schools was in March, and the government then said that we started thinking of reopening in May; when we thought that the corona virus was for a short time. Then we moved it to August and September, but then we are seeing the numbers are increasing instead of going down. So, realistically, the government has decided that we will move reopening to January. And when we move reopening to January, it means all the candidates that were seating this year for Class 8 and Form 4, will actually lose one year. That is the reality.
Some people have made different suggestions, that we compress their years next year, but still it is a challenge. So far, tentatively, really it is being considered as a lost year because we have not been able to go into education. Kenya had invested in IT in primary schools, but it was not yet complete. Only some had; some don’t have. So, when we were investing in online education, it was quickly realized that some areas like the constituency which I represent, which is a rural constituency, are not able to access online education. So, then, some were able to progress; especially those in urban areas and those in private schools, while those in poor areas or rural areas, and those in public schools, were not able to go on with education. So it was agreed we enhance equality especially in education, that it be considered a lost year.
The greatest challenge that we are facing though, is that there is an increase in sexual and gender based violence within the homes, and we are trying to figure it out. The government has actually decreased the National Research Institute to do research to determine the extent and what can be done to deal with that kind of situation. We have absentee parents who are finding themselves home for the very first time, they don’t know what to do with their time. Cases of domestic violence have spiked. A woman killed her four children. So, we are facing different social dynamics that we have not faced before.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much for that. We do have other questions, but let’s keep them for later. So, I am going to invite the next speaker who is Dr. Pauline. Is she around?
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: If Dr. Pauline is not there, I would like us to call Ms. Nana Wanjau, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network, Kenya.
Nana Wanjau: Thank you so much Dr. Ojiambo, government officials, community leaders and members of the public. It’s wonderful to be here. I’ve been here from the beginning, listening to all the conversations from Malawi, Nigeria, the UK, of course Kenya and it’s a pleasure to be here as the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network Chair for Kenya, but I am also the CBWN Region Lead representing Africa. Let me just say I will talk about ‘Social Protection and Economic Empowerment’, narrowing down for women.
A little bit about Commonwealth Businesswomen and who we are – Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network is a registered community interest company in the UK. It’s an accredited organization, recognized by 54 governments across the 6 continents and it’s committed to advancing UN Sustainable Development Goal number 5, and the Commonwealth Charter.
With that said, I would also like to say that our very own Chair, Ambassador Dr. Josephine Ojiambo is our Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network Kenya, Honorary President. So it’s a pleasure to be here with you Ambassador.
Now, you may not know that just last week on Thursday, the Heads of Government of the Commonwealth’s 54 equal and independent member states, actually issued a statement on the Commonwealth’s statement on the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a five page statement. I will not read all of it, but I will focus on two paragraphs.
‘’Women and girls and other marginalized groups including those with disabilities, are more likely to suffer economically from COVID-19. Inclusion is central to economic stimulus, health services, and social protection. Marginalized groups will be particularly impacted by school closures. We will continue to encourage implementation of specific actions to provide the opportunity for at least 12 years of quality education and learning for girls and boys by 2030.
We are particularly concerned that children who are spending more time at home and online are increasingly vulnerable to violence, abuse and exploitation, and are at greater risks of online harms such as sexual exploitation and abuse. Protecting the safety of children and all vulnerable groups must be a priority.”
When COVID-19 started in Kenya Nairobi, the first thing Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network did was to work with the Samburu Girls Foundation. It’s about seven hours away from Nairobi. This school hosts over five hundred students that have been rescued from early and forced marriages; children as young as seven years old – that have been rescued from early and forced marriages and FGM (Female Genital Mutilation). Now, with the closure of schools, we have faced a new challenge, because these girls that have been rescued have had to disperse and go back home. So now, more than ever, we have to mitigate the risk of the surge in gender based and domestic violence.
Again, protecting the safety of children and all vulnerable groups, must be a priority. In my initial reading of the report of the Heads of Governments, in their statement issued just last Thursday on the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact, it also states that “we support economic recovery.”
Now, Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network has been way ahead of the curve. In 2019 September, alongside the margins of the twelfth one, which is the Commonwealth Women’s Affairs Ministers Meeting that was hosted here in Nairobi Kenya, Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network launched a 10-Point Plan for increasing opportunities for women to trade internationally. I will not go through the ten point plan; I will highlight a few details that have become more urgent with COVID-19.
One, is focus on trade related capacity building. At this point when we are all on lockdown, we find that women are at home and we are able to build capacity from the home side, to prepare them for trade internationally.
The second point I will highlight in our 10-Point Plan is ‘close the gender digital divide’. 23rd of April 2019, the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network in partnership with Flow in Action and GSMA, launched a Commonwealth Girls in ICT platform. This is a free interaction platform and it challenges boys and girls to turn the phone into a school. In a nutshell, we are asking the young boys and girls, “the phone in your hand, if it were a school, what are the possibilities?” Turning a mobile phone into a school is about inclusivity. It’s about leaving no one behind.
So with those few remarks, I would like to end by saying Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network has been ahead of the curve in committing to social and economic empowerment of marginalized groups with a special focus on women and girls. Dr. Ojiambo, thank you very much.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much. Thank you. We do appreciate that. Thank you.
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: Thank you very much. I would just say a word to say thanks to Nana and maybe just to underscore I forgot to say she is actually the Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network Africa Regional Focal Point. Back to you Pauline. I will summarize after the questions.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much. I would love to say a special thank you to all the speakers. I know it is a busy time, you know, especially us in the UK, we are back to work, and anyone else wherever you are in the world, thank you. But I know there are questions rolling in and the most important questions now are going to Honourable Chrissie. If you’re still there, there are questions for you. Are you there?
Godson Azu: Sorry Pauline, let’s just quickly recognize a few people here before we go to the questions. We like to recognize few of our Councillors here in the UK. I think I saw Councillor Dr. Kate Anolue – the two time Mayor of Enfield; the Borough of Enfield.
Mayor (Cllr) Dr. Kate Anolue: Yes I’m there. Thank you very much.
Godson Azu: You are welcome, Madam. And, we have also Councillor Gladys Caro. I think she’s a Mayor and a Councillor of a Borough in the UK. I’m sure she’s there, can you say hello? Councillor Lady Caroline Kalu are you there? Say hello. She is an elected Mayor in the city of London here.
Mayor (Cllr) Lady Caroline Kalu: Yes, I am here. Sorry, it is Councillor Lady Caroline Kalu. Hello everyone. Pauline, thanks for organizing this. I came to your show last year.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you.
Mayor (Cllr) Lady Caroline Kalu: Well done everybody. Thank you.
Godson Azu: Ok, Pauline, let’s have the questions. Let’s have contributions.
Mayor (Cllr) Dr. Kate Anolue: Can I just say a proper hello to everyone. Hello Pauline. Hello Dr. Josephine, how are you? It is nice to see everybody. I’ll just show my face. I have been trying to,… hello everyone.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you.
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: Hello Councillor Kate.
Dr. Pauline Long: Now, I want to bring back Honourable Chrissie, if she’s there please.
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Hello, yes I’m here.
Dr. Pauline Long: Honourable Chrissie, it is a pleasure to have you again and you know, to be patient with us and wait for the questions. Now, so a significant question from Edith Parker. She says “when can we expect regular announcements and updates from the Ministry of Health on the crisis in the country, with regards COVID-19.
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: That’s a very good question. I know that last week, that is, the first week that we have been in the office, me as Deputy Minister of Health and my colleague, the Minister of Health. So, we are getting orientation and as a result, we were not updating the nation about what’s going on, and there was a huge outcry, that why were we quiet. But this week, starting yesterday, we’ve made an effort to give information to the public about the new infections, people who have recovered, how many have died and what is being done to stave off the pandemic, what are we sourcing to help with the pandemic.
I think yesterday and today, we’ve been on top of things. I’m sure the public has noticed the difference, because now we are on television and on radio.
Dr. Pauline Long: So, are there specific times and specific dates that the government is going to give updates to Malawians? So that they are always ready for the updates?
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: No, I think we would be giving updates every day. That’s what we will be doing. Because every day there is new happening with the pandemic. So, every day, we will be giving them updates.
Dr. Pauline Long: Alright, James says that, you know, he has a feeling that the government is still on honeymoon. But he is asking, “can we speed up to intensify the fight against COVID-19. Do you think the government is up for that?”
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Yes, we have intensified the fight against it. I think actually, because there was a lack of communication last week, so people started panicking because they were not hearing anything from us. Now, we have changed the strategy that ok, we should not be working on the pandemic in the background. We need to be at the forefront with the media so that everybody, people who have radios, can listen to us on radio, and know what’s going on. People who have access to TVs, they can watch us on television. I think that’s what was lacking, but otherwise, we’ve been working from day one.
Dr. Pauline Long: Another significant question. Somebody points out that yes there is hunger in Malawi and probably now it’s gone higher. What measures have been put in place to help these people, as a result of COVID-19?
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Social cash transfers. Those are the measures that have been put in place to help people who are lacking resources to feed themselves or their families.
Dr. Pauline Long: Has this been rolled out nationwide?
Hon. Chrissie KK. Kanyasho: Yes, nationwide. Yes.
Godson Azu: Pauline. Sorry, Pauline. Let’s quickly find out from the participants who have been listening, that have something to add or contribute before the Ambassador does the summary.
Please, everyone listening, if you have something to say or to ask our guest speakers from Malawi, from Kenya, I know the MP has gone, we still have Professor Azaiki here. I’m sure some people from the National Assembly are on the platform that joined in that will like to contribute. So, please there is an icon on the platform that says raise your hand, but then I can see some people raising their hands already here. Can I quickly get Heart Nwoke? You are raising your hand. Can you unmute yourself and say what you want to say, quickly please. Okay, you can speak now.
Heart Nwoke: Alright. Thank you everybody for this. This is amazing. I couldn’t believe Africans can come together like this and discuss the common objective or common problems that we have. I appreciate this and hope that this will continue, you know.
My question was for Professor Steven about the case of Nigeria. I think in a job, if somebody is given probation – yes, 6-months-probation, to see whether they can be able to do their job properly. If somebody is voted into office and after the probationary period, if they can’t do the job, you know, they are supposed to be voted out of it. And if it is a private company, they are supposed to be removed from the office. Nigerians are not doing that. That is why problems continue as they are. I’m saying that accountability is very important. Being able to see whether the person is performing in a job, and then if not, remove them. Nobody owns any job position for life. No. If they cannot do the job, they can be removed from the office. In the UK, you know, that’s how we do it. If you are not capable of holding your job, then you are removed. Let’s use that attitude with the rest of Africa. If somebody is voted in the office and cannot do their job properly, they should be removed and make somebody who is capable to do the job be in the office. That’s all I have to contribute.
Godson Azu: Thank you very much. Pauline, please take over.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much. I just want to read a comment from Dr. Kate Anolue, former Mayor of Enfield. She says “please can we stop looking down on Africa? Let us talk about our compromised leaders with their corruption, but you know, stop generalizing and stop looking down on Africa.” This is a comment from Councillor Kate.
Now I think I have a question for Honorable Millie Mabona, but I will forward it back to Ambassador Ojiambo. You have a question on legal matters for Honourable Millie?
Ambassador Ojiambo: Thank you very much Pauline. I don’t have a question on legal matters per se at this point, but I want to appreciate that amongst all our speakers this afternoon, it is Honourable Millie Mabona who has actually taken us through the raft of the MDGs very coherently, so I want to ask her to respond to all the issues that have been raised not just about in particular the SDGs, sorry.
But someone has asked about leadership and Honourable Mabona, we are going through leadership transitions in Nairobi and in Kenya. Someone has just spoken, actually it’s the former Mayor of Enfield, about thinking beyond the compromise of current leadership to the future. And I want to ask, at this particular time of the COVID pandemic, “what has been the implications of COVID on democracies and in particular, maybe the Kenyan experience, and how has democracy helped in terms of ensuring a coherent robust response to COVID-19?” Thank you Millie.
Hon. Millie Mabona: Thank you Ambassador Josephine. Let me just say, it’s by coincidence actually, I was in a meeting earlier, (the reason I came in late); that was discussing the same issues and one of the issues that was raised was actually just that issue. And what I can say is that in Kenya, we have a very solid constitution and we have tried to build very strong institutions out of the same constitution and despite the challenges that we are facing and have faced in every election cycle as a country, I think one of the things that has buttressed us a country has been a strong constitution and institutions.
I think you know that Kenya was probably the first African country that nullified the presidential elections. Something that has never been heard, even though the same president then won again then went ahead and is currently leading; I mean in position; and we are currently working with the same president, but it’s because we have those democratic systems in place.
I think one of the things that coronavirus has done, is that it has actually challenged international norms, international standards, international power politics as we know it. A lot of times as African countries, we always ran to the West for solutions. If this was a pandemic that was only affecting one corner of Africa, we would all be running to America and to the rest of the world. But this is a situation that went and attacked the West. It has attacked the UK, it has attacked America, it has attacked all the areas that we ordinarily seek solace from or seek assistance from. What does that tell us? It tells us that as Africa we must find our solutions within. Our solutions must be home-grown. And it lies not for me but in terms of transition or leadership or change in leadership. But it lies in us having a paradigm mental shift as the populace. We must have a paradigm shift in terms of what we do and how we do things. That’s why I was saying that I keep going to the statement that our Health Minister said that if we treat coronavirus normally, it will treat us abnormally. It has given us a situation where we must deal abnormally; and abnormally here, means that we must not act as normal.
If we have situations of corruption, this is the time to slay corruption. All African countries have the goodwill to slay corruption. All African countries have the goodwill to prioritize health. All African countries have the goodwill to prioritize education. So for me, it is about a mental paradigm shift of the populace, much less an issue of focus on leadership. Because I’ve seen countries where people have focused on saying or looking for youthful leadership that have failed them. People have looked at new leadership that have failed them. So for me, it’s not really about the leadership. The leadership actually in here, is in the populace and in a paradigm mental shift with the populace. I hope I’ve responded to the Ambassador?
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: Thank you very much Honourable Millie Mabona. You have given us a very inspiring response. I want to thank you for that response. And then I have a quick question also for Mrs. Nana Wanjau.
Honourable Mabona has spoken about accountability, and she has spoken really reflecting on the challenges you have presented in terms of public sector, government. I would like you to speak about another part of government and that’s the private sector and tell us about accountability. We hear stories about money misapplied during a pandemic such as COVID. Please speak to the private sector and the responsibility it brings to the management of resources during COVID. And then, I see a question on boys as well as girls, and what is the Commonwealth doing to educate both, with its ICT platforms. Thank you.
Nana Wanjau: Thank you Dr. Ojiambo. It is inevitable that in this time of pandemic and the resources that are being mobilized from everywhere – private sector, government, the globe, that there is now an intense lens for accountability, to monitor resources and to be accountable. Private sector, we have no choice but to put in systems of accountability from receipt to execution and impact. There is no shortcut with that Dr. Ojiambo. I missed the second part of your question Dr. Ojiambo. Could you repeat it please? I lost a bit of network.
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: Yes, after speaking about the role of the private sector in ensuring accountability because it takes two to tango, I wanted you to talk to us about the Commonwealth and its ICT platform. You mentioned ICT for girls and the question is “what about the boys?” Yes, the question has been posed here. What about the boys?
Nana Wanjau: I think somebody missed my remarks earlier. The Commonwealth girls platform in ICT is actually opened to boys and girls between the ages of 12-18 years old. So boys and girls across the world regardless of where you are, you are actually welcome to be part of the challenge of turning a mobile phone into a school. This will give every child accessibility to education.
Apart from the Commonwealth ICT program for girls, Commonwealth Businesswomen’s Network specifically, has set up one platform that will occupy all business women across the 54 Commonwealth countries. And to access that, is www.cbwn.org. Let me repeat, this is a platform that is opened to over 1billion women to connect, collaborate and do business. It’s on www.cbwn.org.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you very much for that. I would like to invite Dr. Kate Anolue if she’s there. I think you had your hands up. Please, Dr. Kate.
Mayor (Cllr) Dr. Kate Anolue: Yes, thank you very much Dr. Pauline. It’s really nice to see again. You are really blooming. Thank you so much everyone. This is very very important. I am so much interested in talking about Africa, because there are things when they happen like this, we tend to forget where we come from. Looking at Africa, Africa is such a very big resourceful continent, that I do not see why we continue to worry about what is happening to us or what would happen to us if we don’t have…., you know, I don’t know whether to still call them our masters. We shouldn’t be calling them our masters anymore, because we Africa has come to the time when they should grow and grow.
We have such mineral resources, a lot of resources that can grow up our continent, and also, we need to look at our leaders. The leadership is so important because they are the ones that are really making Africa not to grow. They are very compromised like what I said. You know, all they want is to fill up their pocket. Look at the corona time. There is so much money coming into each country and yet the ones that they were not looked after or fed are the ones that needed it. All the money and resources went into the pockets of the wrong people.
So really, I think that we should now start to think about how we can build the continent and forget about the other developed world. I believe that we are developing and we should focus on our country. And we also have to stop talking about bringing down our country, because we are very very talented. If you go all over the world, the ones that work so hard, the ones that are highly educated are Africans. But if you now look at what is going on with the Black Lives Matter, you can see that now we are beginning to think that we need to support ourselves. We need to know that we can do everything that the developed world can do. It’s just a matter of us to think about ourselves, think about the continent, think about the mineral resources. God has actually naturally given us everything. Unfortunately, we have got bad leaders and those leaders are the ones that we should focus on so that we do not every time demean our continent. Our continent on its own with the people are fantastic hardworking people. Unfortunately, we’ve got leaders who are compromised, who are prepared to serve their continents for their own benefits, which is unfortunate.
So, I really want us to focus, please, on our country; how we can do without thinking about those developed countries. Those developed countries only come to our country, our continent, to take what we have and give us peanuts out of it, and give us arms to kill ourselves. Let us think about this.
This is a wake up time for us. We should think about ourselves, think about what we can now do for our young girls and boys that have missed out on education; how we can now bridge the gap. Because we know that we got a way that we can do it and we can do it and I believe we can do it. I’m not in this country out of nothing. It’s because I’m an African, a hardworking person, and that’s why I’m here and likewise all Africans that are all over the whole world. They are hardworking, but we are being maltreated, we are not recognized for who we are, but we know that we can do it.
So, please, let us now sit back and see what we can do to our African continent. We have so much there. I mentioned last time that before 1934, Nigeria on its own was the highest producer of palm oil, yet today, it’s not even in their map. It’s gone to Malaysia, Indonesia and the rest of them. You know, because why? Because we neglect the resource that God has given to us and just for us to make use of, to grow our young population. That is what has been given to us. We must not neglect that. It’s there for us. And instead of every time we are looking at the developed world to help us, lend us money and so forth.
I’m sorry, but I am very emotional about my continent Africa. Thank you.
Dr. Pauline Long: Thank you. Thank you Dr. Kate. Thank you.
Godson Azu: Just a quick one. I don’t know if Professor Steve is still there. Please can you respond to Councillor Kate Anolue’s word and that of Heart Nwoke. Please quickly, in just about 5 minutes. Thank you very much Prof.
Prof. Steve Azaiki: I think that when we Africans sit down to discuss Africa, we should be sincere about the issues that affect us. And we should discuss the issues that are problematic to our growth. And we should now look at what would be the solution.
For Nigeria, it’s already given that Nigeria is a country of 200 million. Out of this 200 million, we have very talented, well educated people. But I am very particular about institutions that should be checked by the government. We have a very powerful constitution, no doubt about it. Nobody should make a mistake about that, but our constitution is structured as a replica of that of the United States of America. It is very powerful. The constitution is still there, we can use it. But because the constitution has made the president very very powerful; only the president has the power to hire and fire.
Now, because of our oil wealth and wrong mentalities, wrong approach to these issues, we depend solely on oil, and because we depend solely on oil, the government is managing the oil. So, every Nigerian that is supposedly doing well, has some link to the government. That means, ninety percent of wealthy Nigerians depend on the government in terms of contract, patronage and so on and so forth. Now, when you have that kind of population dependent on the government and you have a powerful president, you can’t work. That is the issue with Nigeria in terms of institutions that are supposed to do checks and balances. They are weak because the president is powerful. America is the same, but America has institutions that are strong enough to resist some of the decisions that the president may make. So, that is one.
Then, Anolue also talked about we should not demean the potentials of Africa. The potentials of Africa is known to the whole world. Look at Congo. Congo produces coltan. The only place where you can find that mineral in the world; even if you google it. And Congo cannot have peace. There would be wars forever, until that mineral is extracted completely from Congo. We know these things. Nigeria has oil. For Nigeria to be unstable is to the interest of the powers. We have Ajaokuta. Nigeria has spent trillions of naira on Ajaokuta; that is, the steel plant. The world will not let us have that steel plant, because if we have that, then our dependency on the whites will be zero. And we cannot beat that, we cannot.
Now, some of the issues that I will like this conference to discuss, maybe next time, is to look at our relationship with China. I’ve been to Swaziland and Lesotho. Everything there is produced and sold in those countries by the Chinese. China is building airports free for some of the African countries. We must look at our interest in China. And that is not to say if the West; Britain and America is still with that colonial mentality, that anytime we need anything, we should come cap in hand and beg them. That is a colonial mentality and we must do away with that.
Africa, like the President of Rwanda would say, if we have to become Africans; first we have to become Africans and value. I’m not wearing a suit to work; I’m not wearing a tie. I’m trying to be an African. I spent fourteen years in Europe. I’m trying to be an African. So, if we can be African and depend on ourselves, on everything we produce and everything we buy, then we would be sending a message to the West. I don’t know whether I am answering those questions, but I’m trying to generally put us in perspective of my thinking, because in this conference, I don’t believe that we are here to praise Africa. If we are here to praise Africa, ok, I would come here and say “in the whole of Africa, there is no country that has universities like Nigeria”. We have two hundred and something universities, so what? All of them put together are not up to Harvard, all of them put together are not up to Oxford, or Cambridge, or Stanford. So, I didn’t come here to praise Africa, because I’ve been to so many African countries. I have visited 87 countries in the world and I know the differences. If we are talking about, you come to Abuja, Abuja is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. So what? There is no security. So, will I come here and say Abuja has this, Abuja has that? When I know people are not safe on the streets? I won’t praise Africa, I will challenge Africa to do more.
Education. We are well educated, but what kind of education do we have? Paper.
Dr. Pauline Long: Professor Steve, perhaps I could link what you’re saying to what Joyce Juma-Phiri has just written here. She says “no country will develop its own economy in the hands of foreigners. How can we strengthen our own local entrepreneurs to run the African economy, rather than concentrating on Asians to manage our economies for us?” Is it linked to what you are saying? What you just said?
Prof. Steve Azaiki: Yes, correct. This is what I am saying. We must grow, we must grow. First and foremost, let us become Africans. We cannot become Africans by just talking. Our ways of life, our dressing, our mentality, our thinking, we become Africans. Now, if we have become Africans, we must know that there is no job that an African cannot do. And in so doing, if we don’t see a Nigerian who can do that job, we go to Kenya. If we can’t see a Kenyan who can do that job, we go to Rwanda, we go to Uganda. We must see.
Dr. Pauline Long: And then, Joyce goes further to say that “we must look at ourselves and stop calling each other by nationalities that were created by others. If we keep calling ourselves Malawians, Nigerians, Kenyans, we will never see ourselves as a united Africa.” So, do you agree with her that we should refer to ourselves as Africans?
Prof. Steve Azaiki: Yes, let us look at the Berlin Conference of 1884 and so on and so forth, that they scrambled for Africa. Africa was put together; we never had these borders. In fact, it’s an embarrassment for me to go to Ghana from Nigeria and somebody asks me “where is your passport, or where is that?” And a Chinese will just walk in. Three years ago, I went to Zimbabwe. I know of the efforts of Nigeria’s support to Zimbabwe, and the person there was asking me for a visa. Meanwhile, I was standing there and I was seeing Asians, Americans, Britons walking into Zimbabwe; because I’m an African. I was very happy when I went to Uganda and somebody was trying to ask me for my passport and one of the Ugandan immigration officers said “okay, he is a Nigerian, let him go.” This is the mentality. We fought so hard. I am a member of the Foreign Committee of the Nigerian House of Representatives and we fought very hard to say, look any African, any African. And I always refer to the President of Rwanda; excellent guy. We said any African that comes to Nigeria, at the airport, gives him a visa. What is he applying for? What is he applying for?
I want all of us Africans to begin to find a way to talk to our governments, to say, look, these artificial boundaries are not helping us. And let us not be going to America to source for people. Truly, it is rare to see a properly educated foreigner that will come and work. Most of the engineers you see are all technical staff in their country. Meanwhile, we have professors of engineering across Africa. Then, if we need somebody, we now look and we say as far as in Nigerian mentality, if you want anything. This is the truth. And these are the things I want to discuss here. I don’t want to be talking about what everybody already knows. If you go to look for a job in a company or a contract, the best thing for you to do is to look for one Lebanese to lead the delegation and immediately they see somebody of colour; a white man, a brown man, a green man, they will give the contract to that person. That is the mentality of Africa, we must change that mentality and that mentality can only be changed if we discuss our problems.
If we don’t want people to know our problems which we think is a secret, everybody knows, they laugh at us. Is there anything that with satellites we can’t see? They see the developments, they see the roads in Kenya. I’ve been to Kenya four times, I’ve been to South Africa, I’ve been everywhere. You don’t need anybody. If you get to Nigeria, from the way the custom and immigration will treat you, or the police on the road will treat you, you will know that it is a corrupt country. I don’t need to say this. So, we must discuss it. Then if we want to have another conference to discuss the sweetness of Africa, then we take a conference, and we say, today, we are going to discuss the progress Africa has made. Then we talk about well, there are some countries that already sent satellites to space including Nigeria, then we talk about our musicians, our athletes, Nollywood that everybody is going crazy with now, there are from Nigeria, but today, I don’t think that. Today, I believe, let us look at the issues that are confronting us as a nation, as a continent. And let us look at solutions and share experiences, and see what is Kenya doing differently? What is Rwanda doing differently? What is Angola doing differently? What is Tanzania doing differently? Or we take another conference and we look at leadership and we say let us discuss leaders in Africa. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult topic for Nigeria.
Godson Azu: Thank you very much Prof. We will get you at the next conference. It’s going to be bigger. Hopefully, we will get it right. I want to bring in Ambassador Ojiambo, to give us the rounding up point. She’s got a guest speaker also that needs to speak a bit, and then she does the round up because we are against time. We are running out of the zoom time. Please, Ambassador Dr. Josephine Ojiambo please.
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: Thank you very very much Azu. And really, it is difficult for me to summarise our rich and robust conversation, but there is one person who I want to ask your indulgence, I would like to bring to the floor. I’m informed that the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the government of Malawi was trying to get on the call and I’m told that he may be on a mobile phone Huawei P10 Lite. Honourable Minister, I want to ask for you to take the floor. We are looking forward to hearing from you and if you can hear us, I want to ask you to kindly unmute yourself, and do speak to us from the newly installed government in Malawi.
Allan Mandindi: Let me come in Honourable Ambassador. I was trying to communicate with the minister here using my whatsapp, and he has been having difficulties joining. So, I was of the assumption that he is the one who has joined in using the Huawei P10 number. So, I’ve sent him a message to see if he can acknowledge it, but it seems like there is a loss of connection between me and him. So, I would suggest maybe you proceed if that’s okay.
H.E. Amb. Dr. J. Ojiambo: That is fine, that is fine. So, Excellencies, Members of Parliament, dignitaries present on this call, friends and the community of the London Political Summit, I want to thank each one of you for your very engaging and robust interventions over, it’s been two hours since we started our engagement. It’s difficult to summarise everything that you have said.
We had an overview of what our discussion could include and that was prospective and you haven’t let that down. We have heard from Honourable Paul Bristow. He has spoken about the United Kingdom, the role of government, the role of civil society, the role of private sector and his role as a legislator. We’ve heard from the Deputy Minister of Health of Malawi. She spoke about SDG 3 and 6. She spoke to us about the current situation in Malawi, the adjustments they’ve had to make; taking on a new office. The issue of returnees and the diaspora, the issues of quarantine. She has given us an overview of what she calls the government’s master plan for managing COVID-19, but she’s spoken about global health security and she gave us very many recommendations under the global health security heading.
We then moved on. We’ve heard from Honourable Millie Mabona and she is the only one of our presenters who gave us the whole scope of the SDGs; addressing each one and then relating that to Kenya’s Big Four Agenda and then specifically spoke to challenges. And one that she highlighted most eloquently is that of the education sector and then she spoke about the digital divide, that spoke about public – private /rural – urban, when she discussed the digital divide, and then spoke to us about gender based violence, and I must say that was a very interesting presentation, particularly her rallying call on leadership.
Professor Steve, you spoke about corruption, about institutional strengthening in the context of Nigeria, mentioning the role of the presidency and that against the role of the federated states. You’ve spoken about religion, you spoke about testing facilities. You challenged Nigerians in diaspora and there are many on this call; to rise up and come to the table, put their hands on deck with other Nigerians. Then you spoke about fifty years from today and what we should expect then.
And then, Nana Wanjau read to us from the Heads of State of the Commonwealth and their recent statements on women – women’s economic empowerment. And she focused on the digital divide and she shared with us the challenge of turning the phone into a school – to improve inclusivity, and spoke about the 10-Point Plan to empower women in business and trade.
And then, we’ve heard from the Councillors. Councillor Kate from Enfield, who spoke about leadership. We’ve been greeted by Councillor Gladys. We’ve heard more about updates from Malawi and then we heard from others on the call, including Caroline. But there was one speaker – Uche, who spoke about identity, and it’s just that it’s time to end but he spoke about the African identity and our national identities. I would have loved to ask him to speak on Black Lives Matter and the issue of the identity of the African in the global community, but you know, we are not going to exhaust everything today, because this was but the Pre-Summit.
Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, in the month of October, we shall have our 2020 London Political Summit and we do look forward to continuing this conversation then. We will have a raft of very engaging speakers and the topic that we know will draw you in, and we are looking forward to your contributions then.
I ask you to stay in touch with our webpage. We will post on that page as we get closer to the date. Not only the program, but perhaps the date and if I don’t get it right, I’m sure Azu will give us the specific date.
I want to thank each one of you for your contributions. Many of you logged on in time and we are running one hour and plus. Despite that, you have remained engaged and for that we want to say a very big thank you and goodnight.
Godson Azu: Thank you very much. Sorry, can I call on Barrister Sir Chibuzo, to give us a closing remark please on behalf of the London Political Summit Team. Barrister Sir Chibuzo Ubochi, please, a closing remark on behalf of the team.
Barrister Chibuzo Ubochi: Thank you very much everyone, the Excellencies, Honourables and fellow members of the London Political Summit. There’ll be no greater closing remark than what our Ambassador Josephine Ojiambo has said, and on that note, I will say, thank you everyone. She’s captured everything that was done. We do greatly appreciate all those who have attended. And on that note, I will say join the next Pre Summit meeting and we look forward to seeing you at the London Political Summit 2020 in October. Thank you very much.
Godson Azu: Thank you very much everyone. We would like to let the guest speakers have this at the back of their minds, that we are producing the London Political Summit 5th Anniversary Companion Book, and it will be an honour to have each of our speakers here today on those books. We will be able to reach through everyone that has a contact with you to furnish us with your personal professional profile that will go on the book.
This is being put together by a well-known professor here in Manchester, who is working with us to ensure that by October, we have a very lovely 5th Anniversary Book which will be very well put together; from our first speaker. Our first speaker was the then former Prime Minister of Kenya, Right Honorable Raila Odinga, to Ambassador Josephine Ojiambo, to the Honourable Speaker of the Ugandan Parliament – Doctor Rebecca Kadaga, was our guest speaker and to our friend who is now incarcerated in Cameroon; the leader of the Cameroonian Ambazonia and the South Cameroonian Ambazonia, who also graced our event a couple of years ago. And, also the professors and Pro Chancellors of our partnering universities, everybody will be captured on the Book.
So please, our speakers, our guests on this platform, before October, please help us. Allan please put up the email that they can reach us with on the platform to catch up, or you can send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send us your information, send us your profile, your photo profile and then we will humbly capture it on the Book to celebrate our 5th Anniversary this year. We appreciate everyone. Thank you and see you.
We will send invitations for the October event, hopefully. We are planning to have it partially in the House of Parliament and partially virtual. So those who can make it to the House of Parliament in October in the UK, will be welcomed to the Parliament and those who cannot we will be linking them up through a virtual means.
Allan Mandindi: To just say a final word. Thank you everyone. Before you go, there is a twitter page for the London Political Summit which you can have access to by going on twitter handle @londonpolitical. You can also get updates and also there is a facebook page for the London Political Summit. If you put London Political Summit, you’ll be able to get it and I think most of the information that we will be putting out would be on that page. So, help us to share and yes, you will get information from there. Thank you very much.
Barrister Chibuzo Ubochi: Sorry, just one more thing. If you can leave your email address, maybe we will send you a recap of what happened here today. So, please do send your email address through the chat-box on the forum.