Saturday, July 13, 2024

Meta’s moderation failures incite hate, human rights abuses: Amnesty International

Facebook, owned by Meta, is facing renewed demands for accountability and reparations following allegations that its platforms contribute to violent conflicts.

Amnesty International released a report titled “A Death Sentence For My Father,” examining Meta’s content moderation policies during the Ethiopian conflict in the Tigray region.

The report highlights the prevalence of hate-filled posts targeting the Tigrayan community on Facebook, exacerbating the armed civil conflict and ethnic cleansing. Meta’s surveillance-based business model and algorithm, focused on maximizing engagement, facilitating the rapid spread of inflammatory content.

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The UN-appointed International Commission of Human Rights Experts on Ethiopia also noted the role of online hate speech in fueling tension and violence. Victims of the Ethiopian war have filed a lawsuit against Meta, alleging that the company allowed violent posts to remain on its platform despite being aware of their impact.

Amnesty supports the lawsuit, which seeks a USD 1.3 billion fund for compensating victims of hate and violence on Facebook. The organization calls on Meta to enhance its content moderation in Ethiopia, issue a public apology, and adopt human rights impact assessments for AI and algorithms.

It also emphasizes the need for friction measures to restrict content sharing. Meta has faced criticism in the past for allowing hate speech and misinformation to spread on its platforms.


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Addis drafts vehicle emission control regulation

A new vehicle emission control regulation is being introduced in Addis Ababa to combat air pollution and monitor air quality, according to the Addis Ababa Environmental Protection Authority.

In collaboration with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, the Authority has been conducting training programs for air quality and communication experts from various countries to raise awareness.

The regulation aims to reduce vehicle emissions, improve public transportation, and promote green initiatives to enhance the city’s climate. Reference-grade air quality monitors have been installed at multiple locations in the capital, and vehicle emission testing will identify and remove high-emitting vehicles from the roads.

The development of an Air Quality Management Plan (AQMP) is underway to outline measures for improving air quality. Despite challenges, the city administration has made significant progress in addressing air pollution and climate change. Lack of public awareness remains a major hurdle, emphasizing the importance of effective communication to convey challenges and solutions.

The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group is assisting in formulating codes for green infrastructure and climate-friendly structures in buildings, promoting a sustainable urban environment. Cooperation is crucial to tackle the adverse impact of vehicle energy usage on air quality in Addis Ababa.

(Ethiopian Herald)

Ethiopia Submits Its Tariff Offer in Trade in Goods to the AfCFTA Secretariat

Ethiopia has submitted its initial tariff offers in Trade in Goods to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat earlier this week. The submission of the initial tariff offer is a crucial milestone for the successful domestication and implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, which is expected to deepen Africa’s continental economic integration.

Ethiopia being one of the first countries that signed and ratified the AfCFTA Agreement, its recent submission of the tariff offer signifies an important milestone in its continuous commitment and effort in realizing the implementation of the agreement. It is an important step for the required legal measures as well as to meet the required level of ambition for continental integration.

The tariff offer in goods is a significant objective of the ‘Protocol on Trade in Goods’, one of the six protocols of the AfCFTA. It is the commitment member countries have made by entering into the AfCFTA Agreement in order to liberalize substantially all trade by eliminating tariffs on 97 percent of tariff lines over a specified period of 13 years.


Ethiopia to build 1,000 public toilets in $523m water scheme

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Ethiopia has launched a USD 523 million project to improve water treatment and provision in 23 cities. The work includes building 1,000 public toilets across the country.

In 2018, Global Water Intelligence noted that only 12 percent of Ethiopia’s urban population had access to a flush toilet.

The World Bank is providing USD 460m for the scheme, with the remainder to come from other donors.

Nuredin Mohamed, a senior official at the Ministry of Water and Energy, stated that most of the preparatory work had been completed and the way was clear for construction. The program will include Tigray regional state. Ethiopia has spent USD one million buying electric pumps to restore water provision in the city.

Global Construction Review

Kenya electricity imports from Ethiopia halve on drought

Due to a severe drought in Ethiopia that has led to reduced dam water levels, Kenya is only importing half of the contracted electricity capacity from Ethiopia.

The Energy Cabinet Secretary, Davis Chirchir, stated that Kenya has been receiving 100 megawatts of electricity from Ethiopia, which is half of the 200 megawatts capacity agreed upon last year. The drought has affected electricity costs in both countries.

Chirchir also mentioned that the Masinga Dam, owned by KenGen, has not supplied any electricity to the grid for the past two months due to low water levels caused by the drought.

The import of cheaper hydroelectric power from Ethiopia was initiated in January to help lower the cost of electricity in Kenya.

However, high power prices persist in Kenya, contributing to increased inflation. The Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) recently raised the fuel energy charge and the foreign exchange rate fluctuation adjustment in its power prices review.

(Business Daily)

Safaricom bags 1.2m Ethiopia m-Pesa users in initial push

Safaricom Ethiopia has revealed it signed-up 1.2 million mobile money users in the first month-and-a-half of launching m-Pesa, as it outlined progress in recruiting customers to its various services since entering the market in 2022.

The operator hit the button on its mobile money service in mid-August and by the end of September had brought 11,700 merchants and 22,700 agents on board.

It noted users on the platform had made a total of two million transactions.

Mobile money brand m-Pesa dominates the industry in Kenya and competes with Ethio Telecom’s Telebirr, alongside other providers of digital financial services.

In June, the GSMA released its Mobile Money in Ethiopia report in which it noted a competitive mobile money sector could be a transformative for financial inclusion in the country, which was assessed by the organization to be notably lower than neighboring countries in East Africa.   

Safaricom Ethiopia also reported it had signed-up seven million mobile users from launch to end-September 2023, with its network covering 30 per cent of the population at that point.

Safaricom switched on mobile services in 11 cities in October 2022 following a one-city trial two months earlier.

(Mobile World Live)

Somalia floods kill 29, displace 300,000 people

Flash flooding in southwestern Somalia has resulted in the deaths of over two dozen people and displaced hundreds of thousands from their homes.

The heavy rains are part of the El Nino weather pattern affecting East Africa. Somalia, along with parts of Ethiopia and Kenya, recently experienced the worst drought in the region in 40 years.

The chairman of Somalia’s Disaster Management Agency had previously warned about the potential for such flooding.

The most affected regions are in the southwest of the country. Inaccessible roads are hindering rescue efforts, and aid agencies are working together to rescue those trapped by rising floodwaters.

Somalia, already grappling with an Islamist insurgency, is considered highly vulnerable to climate change impacts.

The El Nino phenomenon, which leads to higher global temperatures, is expected to persist until at least April 2024. Kenya and Ethiopia’s Somali region have also reported casualties and displacements due to the flash flooding. Previous El Nino events in the region have resulted in devastating floods and loss of life.


Kenya hosts China-Africa investment summit

The 2023 China-Africa Sustainable Investment Summit has begun in Nairobi, Kenya, aiming to enhance collaboration for a just and green transition.

Co-hosted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the Alliance of Chinese Business in Africa for Social Responsibilities (ACBASR), and the Financial Center for South-South Cooperation, the summit brought together policymakers, investors, and green entrepreneurs.

Representatives from green startups in Congo, Kenya, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Uganda pitched their ideas to Chinese investors, seeking business partnerships. Marco Lambertini, WWF special envoy, emphasized the summit’s role in sharing knowledge and best practices for ecological stewardship and green growth.

Wilfred Kenga Baya, assistant director of Energy in Kilifi County, Kenya, praised China’s support for greener economies and climate change mitigation. Both the central and county governments in Kenya are leveraging Chinese investments and capacity development for a just, resilient, and green transition.

Zhang Yijun, Chinese Embassy minister counselor in Kenya, reaffirmed China’s commitment to green development in Africa. Delegates called for increased cooperation in financing, skills development, and technology adoption to boost the green energy transition.


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