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Russia seeking military aid from China, says US official

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Beijing rejects the US assertions as ‘disinformation’, as senior US and Chinese officials set to meet in Rome.
A United States official says Russia has asked China for military equipment to use in its invasion of Ukraine, a request that heightened tensions about the ongoing war before a meeting between senior US and Chinese officials in Rome.

In advance of the talks on Monday, White House NSA Jake Sullivan bluntly warned China to avoid helping Russia evade punishment from global sanctions that have hammered the Russian economy.
“We will not allow that to go forward,” he said.

The White House said the talks in Rome will focus on the direct effect of Russia’s war against Ukraine on regional and global security.

A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said in recent days, Russia had requested support from China – including military equipment – to press forward in its ongoing war with Ukraine. The official did not provide details on the scope of the request. The request was first reported by the Financial Times and The Washington Post newspapers.

The Biden administration is also accusing China of spreading Russian disinformation that could be a pretext for President Vladimir Putin’s forces to attack Ukraine with chemical or biological weapons.

Beijing on Monday accused Washington of spreading “disinformation” over China’s role in the Ukraine war, ahead of talks between the two countries’ envoys in Rome.

Without directly addressing US media reports of a Russian request for help from Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said: “The US has been spreading disinformation targeting China on the Ukraine issue, with malicious intentions.”
Lifeline against Russia sanctions not ‘allowed’
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has put China in a delicate spot with two of its biggest trading partners: the US and the European Union. China needs access to those markets, yet it has also shown support for Moscow, joining with Russia in declaring a friendship with “no limits”.

In his talks with senior Chinese foreign policy adviser Yang Jiechi, Sullivan will indeed be looking for limits in what Beijing will do for Moscow.

“I’m not going to sit here publicly and brandish threats,” he told CNN on Sunday. “But what I will tell you is we are communicating directly and privately to Beijing that there absolutely will be consequences” if China helps Russia “backfill” its losses from the sanctions.

“We will not allow that to go forward and allow there to be a lifeline to Russia from these economic sanctions from any country anywhere in the world,” Sullivan said.

In brief comments on the talks, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian did not mention Ukraine, saying the “key issue of this meeting is to implement the important consensus reached by the Chinese and US heads of state in their virtual summit in November last year”.

“They will exchange views on China-US relations and international and regional issues of common concern,” Zhao said in comments posted on the ministry’s website late on Sunday.
China-Russa cosy relations
China has been one of the few countries to avoid criticising the Russians for their invasion of Ukraine. China’s leader Xi Jinping hosted Putin for the opening of the Winter Olympics in Beijing just three weeks before Russia invaded on February 24.

During Putin’s visit, the two leaders issued a 5,000-word statement declaring limitless friendship.

China abstained on the United Nations votes censuring Russia and criticised economic sanctions against Moscow. It has expressed its support for peace talks and offered its services as a mediator, despite questions about its neutrality and scant experience mediating international conflict.

But questions remain over how far Beijing will go to alienate the West and put its own economy at risk. Sullivan said China and all countries are on notice that they cannot “basically bail Russia out … give Russia a workaround to the sanctions” with impunity.

Chinese officials have said Washington should not be able to complain about Russia’s actions because the US invaded Iraq under false pretences. The US claimed to have evidence Saddam Hussein was stockpiling weapons of mass destruction though none was ever found.

On CNN, Sullivan said the administration believes China knew that Putin “was planning something” before the invasion of Ukraine. But he said the Chinese government “may not have understood the full extent of it because it’s very possible that Putin lied to them the same way that he lied to Europeans and others.”

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Ochor Ochor Mourns The Death of Senator Osakwe

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ASABA/Nigeria: The Deputy Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, and Member representing Ukwuani State Constituency, Rt. Hon Ochor C. Ochor has condoled with the family of Chief Patrick Enebeli Osakwe, and the people of Ndokwa on the death of the former Senator who represented the Delta North Senator District, between 1999-2007 as a three-time Senator in the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

The Deputy Speaker, in a statement by the Press Secretary, Mr Emmanuel Enebeli, stated that the late Senator as a successful businessman, who entered politics and blazed the trail of success, was his Father, Boss and Leader.

He stated that as a Personal Assistant, and Legislative Aide to the Late Senator between 1999 and 2003, he learnt so much from him such as hard work, selflessness, long patience, thoughtfulness at all times and circumstances.

“I learnt many virtues of hard work, selflessness, long patience, thoughtfulness at all times and circumstances.”

“He was a father, Boss and Leader.” He said.

He pointed out that his family and the people of Ndokwa, and the entire Delta North had lost a pillar of knowledge and achievements in business and politics, most especially in his Ndokwa solidarity, which he held till his death.

“Senator Patrick Enebeli Osakwe was a man who loved the people of Ndokwa, and Delta North, and this he held on to, till he passed on.”

“He was a successful businessman who entered politics and also became successful, and became a leader not only to his family but also to different persons in the state.”

“We have lost one of our best in Ndokwa, and the entire state, who was an encyclopaedia of business, leadership, and political knowledge.”

“On behalf of my family, aides, and political families, I condole with us all on this painful passage. “ He said

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Mobility fintech Moove secures $105m to scale its vehicle financing business globally

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Moove, a Nigerian automobile financing startup and Uber’s exclusive vehicle supply partner in Africa, on Monday, said it has raised $105 million in equity and debt to power a global expansion.

Existing investors Speedinvest, Left Lane Capital, and the latest.ventures led the Series A2 round*, which Moove says was oversubscribed, with participation from new investors including AfricInvest, MUFG Innovation Partners, Latitude, and Kreos Capital.

Launched in 2020 by Ladi Delano and Jide Odunsi, Moove provides mobility entrepreneurs with access to revenue-based financing in markets where there’s low access to credit. Its customers, who are typically ride-hailing drivers, can purchase brand new vehicles using a percentage of their weekly revenue.

The mobility space in emerging markets is often highly fragmented and informal. Also, insufficient purchasing power among middle-class citizens coupled with limited or no access to vehicle financing often put cars out of reach for the majority of populations in these countries.

With its revenue-based financing model, Moove is addressing this problem albeit for a segment of the population: mobility entrepreneurs.

In addition to scaling globally, the startup plans to expand its partnerships and vehicle classes to include cars, trucks, bikes, three-wheelers, and buses.

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Solar Mamas: Meet the women bringing light to Sudan’s Nuba Mountains

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In a village tucked deep in the Nuba Mountains a group of women is at work. Not in the field but in the community’s new solar power installation. They’re bringing light.
Deep in the Nuba Mountains, in the often-troubled South Kordofan region, a cohort of rural women is building an “oasis of empowerment”. The group comprises mothers and grandmothers; many of them lacking formal education. They’re led by a woman trained to install solar capacity. The women are known locally as “Solar Mamas” and Muna Mursal Kuku is one of them.

“I am a proud mother of seven, one of them a martyr, may God rest his soul. All of my children haven’t completed education past secondary school. Only one of them went to university, but he dropped out shortly after,” said Kuku, by way of introduction.

Kuku recalled the dark days of life in the off-grid village located North-West of South Kordofan. Located about twelve hours from Khartoum, the village was once characterised by conflict, famine, and a lack of power.

But that is all in the past and Kuku is today only reminded of her former life by the situation in neighbouring villages. Despite having to drop out of school, today Kuku is a social activist and volunteers in programmes to help disadvantaged residents of the village, an opportunity she never had.

“I’ve been working as a volunteer since 2004,” she explained.
In 2009, Kuku was among the first women from Sudan to be selected for a six-month training in India as a part of the ‘Solar Mamas’ initiative. This project was hosted and initiated by the Barefoot College in Tilonia, India – a voluntary organisation that focuses on education, skill development, and health.

The project aims to redefine the methods used to empower women in underdeveloped countries, where instead of struggling through sustaining a formal route of education, they undergo a more hands-on practical approach. This allows the women to contribute to the socio-economic wellbeing of their communities as agents of transformation and empowerment of women.

“We learned to install the solar-powered systems through identifying the shapes, symbols, and colours of different wires and parts of the equipment,” Kuku explained.

“We were also taught other skills like how to make eco-friendly products such as paper bags and wooden toys,” she added.

The idea was that by acquiring skills, the women would also get the opportunity to pass them on to other women and girls and in that way challenge the status quo, helping expand communal knowledge and consequently changing the community’s view on women and their stereotypical roles. The women chosen to go on the training course were chosen very carefully. There were good reasons why they were referred to as “Mamas”.

“They selected people that really cared about their villages and would stay to develop it, not young people, or the ones that can take that training and simply leave shortly after. Basically mothers and grandmothers,” she explained.
Besides learning skills, the training also put them in the same space with other women from developing countries, including Senegal, Djibouti, and Sierra Leone, which allowed for a rich cultural exchange, despite the language barriers.

“None of us could speak each others’ languages, but we relied on communicating using signs, and the training itself had no theoretical curriculum, mostly practical,” Muna explains. “It gave us good exposure, experience, and skills; we realised the power of empowered women.”

After six months, the women returned to their village to implement what they had learned. Khadigaa Omer, another participant, explained how the training impacted her.

“When we came back from India, we weren’t just grandmothers anymore, we were engineers. We were no longer “just” women,” said Omer.

As part of the programme, they received a hundred solar kits to install in their own villages, free of charge. Each system consists of solar cells, power sockets, and lanterns.

“We distributed the solar kits to the people that were most in need, the poor and the elderly; not the highly esteemed teacher, chief, or sheikh,” Kuku said.

Despite disruptions caused by civil war in the area, twelve Solar Mamas were trained from six villages in the Nuba Mountains between 2009 and 2020.

Speaking of the initiative during the 9th International Conference on Appropriate Technology in 2020, Gada Kadoda, Engineer and Associate Professor at Sudan’s Garden City College for Science and Technology, Khartoum and a force between the city’s first innovation hub, talked of the inspiration that the Barefoot College and the training of the Solar Mamas had provided.

“It is managed by the poor and is run for the poor, and it is based on the belief that formal education is not a condition to become an engineer,” she said at the time.

According to Kuku, having a source of energy in the community is already saving lives.

“For instance, giving birth is safer because before then, women who went into labour would be in unhygienic conditions under poor light,” Kuku said.

“The use of gas lamps or fixed fire also posed many health hazards for both mothers and children,” she continued, adding that the lanterns used in the solar-powered kits are portable, with strong lighting and no pollution.

One of the men in the village chimed in.

“I make a living weaving rope with my hands, and now I am not racing to do everything before it gets dark. Now I can work at night as well,” he said.

Other beneficiaries have been students, who were not only able to read under safelight, but the candidates didn’t have to move around looking for centres with power to sit their exams.

While solar power has sparked a considerable transformation in the village and has increased the demand for her skills in the neighbourhood, Kuku, has so far resisted the temptation to take the entrepreneurial path.

I honestly don’t like the idea of working for the sake of money or praise from people. Some people get into such programmes thinking they might get some materialistic benefit from it, but I’m not that type of person. We went to the training and came back with the same mindset and goals, we did not get full of ourselves.”

“On a personal level, I am mostly inspired to continue this kind of work because I’ve witnessed the emancipating effect it had on these women,” she said.

“Nobody would’ve thought that older and less educated women can actually learn such technically complex skills, but now they want to know where to sign up for it,” she concluded, with a satisfied laugh.

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