Last week, we looked at how East Africans were irked – rightly so - by the New York Times advert for a Nairobi-based East African bureau chief that essentially was a call for a throw-back from colonial times to continue perpetuating the old school stereotypes about Africa.
And then came some pleasant news; Audience numbers of the African Cup of Nations, branded as AFCON, rose by 60 percent. 30 African countries were able to broadcast the tournament, a significant increase from only 13, in the previous tournament won by Cameroon two years ago.
Prior to AFCON 2019, the majority of African public broadcasters were unable to treat their viewers to this showcase of African football because the exorbitant fees charged by Lagardere, the Paris-based owners of the TV rights, were way above their reach.
Earlier this year, Africa’s soccer governing body CAF, issued a tender for the management of free-to-air rights in Africa, starting with AFCON 2019, which was won by a Nigerian company.
This development came following a General Assembly of the African Union of Broadcasters held in Kigali, where President Paul Kagame urged the Media Chiefs to challenge the status quo.
The rise in audience numbers and the more affordable pricing of rights is further proof that when Africans work together, everyone can have a piece of the pie.
Bringing down the liquor traffickers
For the last few years, the economy has grown in leaps and bounds and with that, the demand for luxury goods has grown in lockstep. Rwandans are increasingly getting the taste for the finer wines and spirits giving rise to a new sort of criminal, the rum-runner.
Last week, local news was rife with reports of arrests and seizure of drinks worth millions that were being sold without paying the required taxes.
The nationwide swoop unearthed the cartels network reach, which evidently, was far and wide. This probably explains why new liquor stores were opening on an almost daily basis or how grocery stores were expanding their liquor shelves.
The market for fine wine and vintage scotch will only grow and if done legally, we should see a further increase in the total tax collected per year. However, the smuggling and trafficking of alcohol is lucrative, making it more difficult to curtail and extremely frustrating to the genuine dealers.
But there is a solution - setting up a Liquor Licence Board.
By creating an organization or entity that regulates the selling of alcohol through issuing permits or licenses, the sector can be restored to order as those who invest in the business will risk losing their licenses should they indulge in malpractice.
The State, the Church and Family Planning
The Pope’s men are in the news again. This time, it’s for their reluctance to offer contraception services at health facilities they operate.
According to Catholic Doctrine, the only acceptable family planning method is natural birth control. This belief does not augur well with our National Health policy or with the fact that it is the 21st Century and there are documented birth control methods that go all the way back to the 10th Century.
Rwanda is a secular state that believes in the separation of religion and the State. Freedom of Worship is enshrined in the Constitution and is respected. However, in practicing one’s belief, it is important that you do not discriminate against those who do not share those beliefs.
The Catholic Church is involved in the management of about 30 percent of the health facilities in the country. By denying access to birth control services to approximately a third of the population, they are for all intents and purposes dictating that millions of women have no choice but to conform to beliefs that they may not necessarily hold.
We have seen over and over again that giving women agency over how and when to grow their families has contributed to their inclusion in the workforce, enabling families and communities reap the economic benefits.
It was refreshing to read that the Government and the Catholic Church are discussing how best to move forward.
A study published a year ago by the journal, Science Advance, showed that non-religious countries experienced greater economic gains in big part due to the rise in tolerance for individual rights which saw more people, especially women included in economic activity.
Change is hardly ever an easy process and the Catholic church is not known for moving at lightning speed, but with Rwanda already one of the most densely populated countries in Africa, this is a matter of urgency if we are to meet our national development goals.