Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Online abuse has become normalized for Ethiopian women, new research reveals

Women in Ethiopia are being silenced, shamed and threatened by widespread online abuse that has become “so normalized it’s invisible”, according to research carried out by the Centre for Information Resilience (CIR). 

The study revealed that women in Ethiopia are facing pervasive online abuse, leading to their withdrawal from public spaces and limiting their participation in public life.

The research, based on interviews with 14 women in prominent positions, highlights that no social media platform is safe for women, with Facebook being the primary platform for abuse. The study analyzed thousands of social media posts in multiple languages to identify the nature and target of hate speech.

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The study showcases the mental health impacts and offline violence resulting from online abuse. Over 78 percent of the interviewed women reported feelings of fear and anxiety after experiencing online abuse. The abuse also harms their professional lives, reputation, and psychological well-being, leading to trauma, depression, and stress. Disturbingly, offline violence, including physical assaults and arrests, often follows online abuse, with some women having to flee the country for their safety.

The research further reveals that online abuse against women in Ethiopia is normalized and accepted, making it difficult for victims to seek support. Women are subjected to misogyny, mockery, and gender stereotypes, attacking their appearance, marital status, and societal roles. Such abuse leads to the withdrawal of women from public life and perpetuates their marginalization in society.

The study emphasizes the intersectional nature of abuse, where gender is targeted along with ethnicity, race, or religion, resulting in layered personal attacks. It also highlights the influence of offline events on online hate speech, with increased abuse targeting women from specific ethnic groups during periods of violent conflict.

CIR calls for urgent action to address the online abuse of women in Ethiopia. The study proposes practical solutions, including educational campaigns to counter gender stereotypes and improve media literacy, the establishment of an online reporting network for abusive content, and the introduction of laws criminalizing online harassment and abuse. The study’s recommendations also emphasize the need for social media platforms to take greater responsibility in combatting online abuse, enhancing reporting processes, and developing context-specific lexicons to improve content moderation in low-resource languages.

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KEFI Gold expects financial approvals for Tulu Kapi this month

KEFI Gold and Copper PLC said the finance syndicate board processes for the Tulu Kapi gold mine (TKGM) development in Ethiopia are on track for final (conditional) approvals this month (May 2024).

All syndicate parties have confirmed final (conditional) approval or are targeting this month while KEFI is now targeting a beneficial interest in TKGM of 80 percent.

KEFI added that gold mining in Ethiopia is reviving, with construction works starting at another Ethiopian industrial-scale gold mine development, west of Tulu Kapi, and a modernization program commencing at the only pre-existing large Ethiopian gold mine, south of Tulu Kapi.  

“On the back of wide-sweeping reforms, some of which were absolutely critical for the mining sector, as negotiated and previously reported by KEFI, the country is now striving hard to reclaim its previous long-standing ranking amongst the world’s top ten growth countries,” said the statement.  

KEGI added that dedicated policing has been formed for permanent presence around Tulu Kapi and the other strategic mining projects, reporting to the Prime Ministry to ensure safe working conditions for the community.

The focus remains for the Tulu Kapi Project to launch in mid-2024 and for production in mid-2026.

Harry Adams, executive chairman, commented: “Following previously reported final approvals by syndicate leaders for project debt, equity risk notes and share subscriptions to subsidiaries, we can now report further progress with those outstanding syndicate partners, such that all final approvals are on track to be received this month.  

“All very exciting. In the meantime, we will escalate community consultations and preparations. All stakeholders in the community will be invited to engage for briefings to understand our requirements on all matters, ranging from safety procedures and precautions.

“Closing this USD 320 million international project finance package will be a notable accomplishment in today’s tough capital market conditions for the junior mining sector.”


Somalia request termination of UN Political Mission in Somalia

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The Somali government has asked the U.N. Security Council to terminate the U.N. political mission in Somalia. UNSOM was established in 2013 by U.N. Security Council Resolution 2102 to advise the federal government of Somalia and the African Union Mission in Somalia on policy and peacebuilding. The government’s request to end the mission comes at a time a U.N.-mandated African Union safekeeping mission, currently comprising at least 10,000 soldiers known as ATMIS, is due to withdraw and hand the country’s security over to the Somali state by the end of this year.

The United Nations Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in Somalia, Isha Dyfan, concluded a five-day visit to the country on Thursday (May 9), urging political actors to prioritize dialogue and build consensus around amendments to Somalia’s provisional constitution. Addressing reporters in Mogadishu, Dyfan commended Somalia’s bicameral federal parliament for voting on amendments to the first four chapters of the constitution. However, she expressed concerns about the lack of consensus among political parties regarding the changes.

On Tuesday (May 7), Ibrahim Kalin, the head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT) of Türkiye, held talks with Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in Mogadishu. The Somali presidency’s statement outlined their discussions, which focused on enhancing strategic cooperation between Türkiye and Somalia in critical areas such as security, intelligence, collaborative counterterrorism initiatives, and the advancement of regional stability. Also in attendance at the meeting was Abdullahi Mohamed Ali, head of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA).


Mastercard, Kifiyato enable more than 477,800 MSMEs to access uncollateralized digital credit products

The Mastercard Foundation, in partnership with Kifiya Financial Technology PLC (Kifiya), announced a scale-up program designed to unlock resources from banks, innovate new financial models and products, and transition the financial sector to enable access to uncollateralized financial credit products to a greater number of MSMEs. A budget of USD 100 million is committed to the program.

The Sustainable Access to Finance to Enable Entrepreneurship (SAFEE) program incorporated learnings from Michu, a successful large-scale pilot by the Cooperative Bank of Oromia, Kifiya, and the Mastercard Foundation. This collaboration enabled more than 148,000 MSMEs to access uncollateralized working capital credit in just 14 months.

SAFEE will unlock USD 300 million from six banks and enable more than 477,800 micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to access relevant and appropriate uncollateralized digital credit products and will enable 425,000 young women access mobile device financing.

The program will serve program participants of current and future Foundation programs by unlocking access to uncollateralized working and productive digital credit. The credit is in the form of nano, micro, and small working capital, inventory credit, invoice financing, equipment financing, and buy-now-pay-later products for MSMEs in urban, peri-urban, and rural areas of Ethiopia.

Over a period of five years, the program will directly drive the creation of job opportunities for over two million young people (80 percent women) and support other programs to enable over 3.6 million young people to access credit. The program will focus on supporting vulnerable young people who are traditionally excluded from accessing financial products, including women, persons with disabilities, refugees, and Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

The program is designed to propel supply-side system-level change while addressing demand-side challenges that have traditionally constrained MSMEs’ access to uncollateralized financial services, by addressing the lack of credit history and records, availability of appropriate products and services, low use of financial technology and the cost of managing low-value credit. It also provides the technical assistance required for financial institutions to transition from conventional collateral-based lending to uncollateralized, digitally enabled, credit-score-based lending, and embracing new modality of delivery of financial services.

SAFEE has initially partnered with the Cooperative Bank of Oromia, Bunna Bank, Enat Bank, Amhara Bank, Wegagen Bank, and ZamZam Bank. The facility will increase the number of bank partnerships based on learnings and needs.

According to the SME Finance Forum, the financing gap for MSMEs in Ethiopia and Sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be USD 4.3 billion and USD 331 billion, respectively. MSMEs are major job creators in Africa, contributing to 80 percent of employment, according to McKinsey & Company.

The program replaces the need for collateral by providing alternative data-driven Artificial Intelligence (AI) credit scoring, which ensures that appropriate and relevant products are tailored to and serve the needs and demands of MSMEs.

The announcement of the SAFEE program was part of the month-long “Startup Ethiopia” event in April 2024, along with the announcement of a series of reforms including access to finance opportunities for start-ups.

“Our partnership will enable the unlocking of uncollateralized productive credit products ranging from digital working capital, invoice financing, inventory credit, buy-now-pay-later, and interest-free banking that address the needs and demands of MSMEs. The program is catalytic by design to enable the financial sector transition through system-level change support where uncollateralized digital credit for MSMEs become the new normal,” said MunirDuri, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Kifiya Financial Technology PLC.

The Foundation aims to create an ecosystem where MSMEs can harness the power of digital lending to realize their full potential and ensure sustainable livelihoods for fellow young people,according to Samuel Yalew Adela, Mastercard Foundation Country Director, Ethiopia.

“These MSMEs will not access financial services through traditional lending approaches otherwise. Including SAFEE, the Foundation to date has committed a total of USD 672 million in Ethiopia, of which USD 222 million is dedicated to increasing affordable access to finance through various partnerships.”


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