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Smart Africa Launches Africa Wide Coordinated Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic
March 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

Smart Africa, a bold and innovative commitment from African Heads of State and Government to accelerate sustainable socioeconomic development , has launched a continent-wide technology based coordinated impact response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for Africa.

Kigali,Rwanda., March 27, 2020 – Smart Africa has launched a continent-wide technology based coordinated impact response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for Africa. This response is aimed at bringing together the 30 member states under the Smart Africa Alliance and the 40 private sector members of the Alliance to coordinate efforts to stem the pandemic in Africa.

In order to tackle this unprecedented crisis, by its magnitude and its impact on society, the Smart Africa Secretariat seeks to support digital health services projects that aim at improving and accelerating the African governments response to the challenges of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The projects under the initiative are aimed at assisting African countries to:

  • Assess individual risk and guide decision making;
  • Assist African populations in finding nearby testing sites;
  • Provide reliable updates and alerts from public health authorities;
  • Report on community status;
  • Track and report transmissions.

Moreover, to ensure that the efforts are relevant to the African context, critical technological parameters are considered as below:

  • A solution available via web, application (iOS, Android, Windows), SMS, USSD, and other messaging platforms;
  • Data collection from diverse points such as individual smartphones or terminals at public facilities (e.g. testing terminals at border controls, testing terminals by medical authorities, etc.);
  • A reporting dashboard accessible to the admin with relevant data – specific rights depending on the status of the admin (e.g. public authorities, medical authorities) will be established;
  • Anonymized data (no personal information including name, ID, address recorded on the system) generated by use of the solution can be published in real-time through a database accessible with an API and map interface on a public website for public health authorities to monitor;
  • Reliably informative content available in local languages in various formats (written – vocal with Interactive Voice Recognition technology) – e.g. prevention practices, isolation practices, closest health facilities, additional one-on-on support, etc.;
  • Assessment and guidance compliance to the World Health Organization (“WHO”), national and local public health guidelines and include exposures, symptoms of illness, and underlying health status.

“There are numerous international interventions to the coronavirus pandemic but so far very few that are relevant to the immediate African context. We are bringing a credible and coordinated technology based African response which must go beyond our 30 member countries to the entirety of the African continent. The aim is to save lives and we must all do our part,” said Mr. Lacina Koné, Director General of Smart Africa.

The response will be initiated through a call for proposals which will involve numerous stakeholders across Africa. Once initiated the response by governments to the pandemic is expected to be coordinated, efficient and to save lives.

About Smart Africa

SMART Africa is a bold and innovative commitment from African Heads of State and Government to accelerate sustainable socioeconomic development on the continent, ushering Africa into a knowledge economy through affordable access to Broadband and usage of Information and Communications Technologies.

The Transform Africa Summit held in Kigali, Rwanda on 28th-31st October 2013 culminated in the adoption of the Smart Africa Manifesto document by seven (7) African Heads of States (Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Mali, Gabon, Burkina Faso) in which they committed to provide leadership in accelerating socio-economic development through ICT’s.

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EnergyNet responds to COVID-19 pandemic
March 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

EnergyNet recognises these are uncertain and difficult times for individuals, organisations and countries across the world.

Managing Director Simon Gosling commented: “We extend to you, your colleagues and families our best wishes and support as we move towards this ‘new normal’ in the coming weeks. Myself and the EnergyNet team are on hand to support the aef community in whatever way we can during this difficult time.”

He goes on to address plans for the Africa Energy Forum, currently scheduled to take place in Barcelona, Spain from 30th June – 3rd July:

“We’re examining the advice of the authorities before making a final decision on what actions we should be taking in the best interests of our aef attendees. We therefore ask you to bear with us whilst we make our decision which we promise to do as soon as possible.

We’re very much aware of the impact of our actions on the aef community, and want to take the time to get it right as we know this decision will affect many of you.”

If the event were to be postponed, attendees who had already purchased a ticket or sponsorship package would be able to roll this over onto the new dates. If for any reason attendees were unable to make the new dates this would be rolled over onto aef 2021.

EnergyNet is monitoring the coronavirus/COVID-19 situation on a daily basis and will keep the community informed of any developments. In the meantime for additional questions please email aef@energynet.co.uk

EnergyNet: a video message

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/energynet-ltd_aef20-activity-6648912178860564480-_TrX

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Covid-19 Kenya: Is it fear or obedience?
March 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

A worker walks outside the coronavirus isolation facility at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi .Photo credit [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]
A worker walks outside the coronavirus isolation facility at the Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi .Photo credit [Njeri Mwangi/Reuters]

Kenya is one of the countries grappling to contain the spread of coronavirus, a dreaded disease that is wreaking havoc on the entire world.

Fifty coronavirus cases and one death have been confirmed in the East African country since the first case was reported on March 13. In order to curb the spread of the virus, the government of Kenya has put in place safety measures the latest being dusk to dawn curfew.

The local authority had banned public gatherings; schools, pubs, churches  and large markets had been closed, sports events and political rallies halted and international flights in and out the country suspended.

Kenyans have also been urged to work from home while keeping social distance, minimizing movements and practising high level of hygiene by washing their hands regularly using alcohol-based sanitizer or soap and water.

Cashless transaction has been encouraged after the mobile operators and local banks lowered the online transaction fees. Sending amount less than Ksh.1, 000 ($10) using M-PESA, a service provided by the dominant Telco in the country, Safaricom is absolutely free for the next two months among many others.

Number of passengers using a single vehicle at a time has been limited. A 14-seater vehicle is required to carry 8 passengers, 25-seaters to carry 15 and buses whose seating capacity is 30 and above is allowed to have 60-per cent sitting capacity.

While issuing updates on the virus on Monday, the Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe also asked those dwelling in Urban particularly Nairobi to halt all their travel plans to rural areas. He said urban to rural movements will expose the elders to the contagious disease.

In addition, those from the upcountry were told not to visit the capital until the situation is contained. Thirty four out of 50 cases are in Nairobi as per the report released by the minister.

“Those who stay in Nairobi should not travel up country during this period, statistics indicate that the elderly Kenyan population lives in the rural areas, we would like to urge those who stay in Nairobi to stay in Nairobi,” He said.

Something mysterious caught the attention of our team, which is in Nairobi. Our reporter on Tuesday toured the streets of the capital and the revelations will leave you in shock.

The ever busy streets were devoid of people and many shops were closed. The hooting of vehicles and loud voices of touts filled the air as the available people try to keep a distance from each other. All banks located in the city were opened, but the customers’ seats were half empty.

The next stop was at Gikomba market, Kenya’s largest hub for second hand clothes. The situation was more less the same. Many stalls were empty and the young guys who stand along the corridors hawking clothes were countable.

These are some of the responses from the business men and women from the market.

“Demands for our products are low, we hope the solution for this problem will be found and everything will be back to normal,” said kids’ attires seller.

His colleague added, “People have stayed away because of fear of attracting the virus. We have decided to take risk in order to feed our families and pay our bills.”

“This coronavirus is horrifying, the cases are creasing everyday and we don’t know who is next,” noted a fishmonger.

There were numerous spots for hand washing instituted by the entrepreneurs.

Kenyan neighbours Uganda yesterday declared a total lockdown for 14 days to control the spread of covid-19 which has been reported in 199 nations causing thousands deaths.

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Angola, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria among the most hard hit amid Covid-19 and oil price plunge
March 31, 2020 | 0 Comments
Offshore oil rig worker prepare tool and equipment for perforation oil and gas well at wellhead platform. Making up a drill pipe connection. A view for drill pipe connection from between the stands.

The African Energy Chamber analyses the most vulnerable African countries amid the Covid-19 pandemic and low oil price.

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, March 31, 2020/ — Angola revises national budget and suspends CAPEX; Senegal’s first oil development faces debt arrangement challenges; Nigeria poised for a major revenue loss; Analysts predict Ghana will get half its projected revenue; Cameroon can expect to see a three percent drop in economic growth.

African oil-producing and reliant countries have been among the most hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and declining oil price. In particular, Senegal, Nigeria and Angola continue to face new challenges each day amid the threat of economic fallout.

Angola

In 2020, the Angolan government led by H.E. President João Lourenço, had set out to focus on economic diversification and uplift the country from nearly five years of recession. However, in the face of the oil price slump, the oil-reliant country has slowed the implementation of its planned economic reform strategy, which had included the privatization of state-owned companies and plans to reduce public debt to less than 60 percent of GDP by 2022 from approximately 90 percent in 2018 and, over 100 percent in 2019.

In response to the current market instability, the Angolan government which relies heavily on oil revenue has declared a state of emergency and made the decision to review its national budget. With this, it will object its budget on a reference oil price of $35 per barrel maximum – a significant cut from the initially drawn up $55 per barrel, Finance Minister Vera Davis de Sousa revealed on Friday, explaining that the country’s oil production is expected to tumble to 1.36 million barrels per day(bpd).

Further, Davis de Sousa shared that Angola would also be freezing 30 percent of its goods and services budget and its CAPEX would be suspended pending completion of the budget review. Meanwhile, the Angolan sovereign wealth fund has agreed to offer $1.5 billion on condition of future repayments through increased tax in the Bank of Angola’s growing debts.

“In this time, the Angolan economy will be best served by swift government action,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “With the finance minister already confirming that the country’s economy will shrink by 1.21 percent this year, signally a fifth year of recession, Angola needs a solid action plan that involves intense renegotiation strategies with domestic and foreign creditors, if it is to make it out on the other side,” he added.

Senegal

Since discovering oil and gas in 2014, the West African country emerged as a major player in the global oil and gas industry, with it moving rapidly on setting up a new Petroleum code in 2019, creating new entities such as COS-Petrogaz and revising local content regulations. As a result, the country has enjoyed increased foreign investment and entry of international majors. However, global market turbulence has had a hard knock-on effect on Senegal’s promising oil future.

In particular, the country’s first oil development, the $4.2 billion Sangomar deepwater offshore project has suffered immense pressure as project partner FAR Ltd fails to finalize debt arrangements. Citing current environment as a major contributor, FAR said: “the company’s ability to close the Sangomar Project debt arrangements that were ongoing during this time have been compromised such that the lead banks to the senior facility have now confirmed that they cannot complete the syndication in the current environment,” adding that neither the junior nor mezzanine facilities that were being arranged will be able to be completed for the foreseeable future. Project operator, Woodside and partner Cairn, continue to explore other options to see through project development.

The current global environment also stands to slow down the country’s other activities in the sector specifically, the country’s first offshore licensing round which was launched earlier this year by the national oil company, PETROSEN as a means to further push the countries exploration and production.

Though the government is yet to share incentives for companies to continue activities, it has set up a fund to support the local economy.

“Senegal is undoubtedly one of the most promising oil and gas producers Africa has to offer. Led by H.E. President Macky Sall, the country is primed for new growth and investment. Despite what is happening in the global market, we hope to see Senegal build on its eight oil and gas discoveries, and enjoy first oil from the Sangomar oil field and first gas from BP’s Greater Tortue Ahmeyim LNG project,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber.

As it stands, Senegal has also seen Cairn Energy reduce its planned investment to below $330 million from the initial forecast of $400 million.

Nigeria

Nigeria is projected to suffer substantial revenue losses. With it having planned for an oil  price of $57 in 2020, the low oil price presents massive struggles for Africa’s largest oil producer. To this point, Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Mele Kyari said at a crude oil price of $22 per barrel, high-cost oil producers like Nigeria should count themselves out of the business.

To this, the Atlantic Council has predicted that COVID-19 would cause the country to suffer the biggest lost in the continent with $15.4bn, representing about 4% of the nation’s GDP, a fair assessment considering the country has over $58bn in oil projects set to suffer delays or cancellations.

Though the country is yet to announce incentives for continued oil exploration and production, it is set on protecting its oil production which contributes generously to its economy. Specifically, the country’s petroleum regulator has, according to Reuters, ordered oil and gas companies to reduce their offshore workforce and move to 28-day staff rotations in order to avoid the spread of coronavirus.

“Nigeria is at risk to suffer the biggest loss. With the low oil price pushing the country to cut its budget and companies to reduce their CAPEX, the global is waiting to see Nigeria’s next move,” said NJ Ayuk, “Although it is hard to see the light for Nigeria, with the commitment of companies and resilience of the government, the country can certainly weather the storm, “ he added.

Ghana

The fall in oil prices coupled with COVID-19 has also had heavy impacts on Ghana’s oil industry, which has been on a path of steady growth for over 10 years since Kosmos Energy’s oil discovery west of Cape Three Points in the country’s offshore. And, more recently, Springfield Group’s historic 1.5 billion barrels.

Having set a benchmark of $58.66 oil price per barrel until the end of 2020, Ghana’s projected oil revenue is set to take a hit, with analysts already predicting the country will get half its projected revenue.

Oil production activity is also expected to see delays as Tullow Oil revises production targets and terminates the drilling contract with Maersk Drilling for the Maersk Venturer drillship offshore Ghana.

“If prices should stay around the US$30 mark, then the government is less likely to get half of the revenue that it projected. Already, we’ve seen Tullow cut back it’s production. So aside the international fall in crude oil price that we have to match with in selling our own bit of oil that we get as a country, production is also falling in our own shores,” said Paa Kwasi Anamua Sakyi, Executive Director at the Institute for Energy Security.

Cameroon

According to an analysis of the economic and financial impacts released by the Press Secretariat of the CEMAC Economic and Financial Reforms Programme, Cameroon can expect a three percent drop in growth in light of the global crisis.

Operations in the oil also stand to be affected with the country already seeing a turn. Specifically, with companies such as Tower resources declaring force-majeur on its development in the Thali block in the country’s offshore. The company also revealed that activity on the NJOM-3 offshore well may also be suspended.

Although the government has not announced any incentives for continued activity in the sector, it has acknowledged the non-oil commodities that will contribute the most to the country’s economic decline.

Now is an extremely challenging time for African oil development, the African Energy Chamber encourages Africa’s oil producing countries to adapt to the changes, implement incentives and plan for the future. This global crisis can only be worked through with continued commitment, support and collaboration.

*Africa Energy Chamber

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Gambian leader Describes New Constitution as All-inclusive
March 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow

State House, Banjul, March 30, 2020 – President Adama Barrow has said that the new Constitution, premised on strong foundations and all-inclusiveness, will provide a safe haven for all citizens to enjoy the path to peace, freedom and prosperity.

The President made this remark in receiving the draft new Constitution presented by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) at the State House on Monday.


The drafting process took the 11-member Commission, headed by Justice Cherno Jallow, under two years to consult, draft, review and submit a validated new Constitution to His Excellency, President Adama Barrow.

The exercise was meant to provide Gambians with a constitutional framework to enjoy their rights as citizens of the country.

Constitution Review commission team with Barrow

“This springs off from the belief that every Gambian should comfortably relate to the Constitution, and that our institutions must be structured for sustained performance,” President Barrow said at a ceremony attended by Speaker of the National Assembly, Chief Justice of The Gambia and a cross section of Cabinet Ministers.

He added that it would promote and nurture best practices, as well as to maintain the country’s values as a nation.

“Accommodating our diversity allows us all to enjoy the fundamentals of democracy, freedom and the rule of law,” he maintained, noting that the new Constitution will allow Government to focus on development, and create the environment for all to enjoy their citizenship and realise their full potentials.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubacarr Tambadou described the submission of the new Constitution by the CRC as progress that is “most profound and satisfying” for him.

He said a number of Bills tabled before the National Assembly for enactment, on top of this new Constitution, will radically transform the legal landscape of the country, particularly with respect to the country’s criminal justice system.

“[It] marks another fulfilled promise to the people of this country. You promised a new Constitution within two years and you have delivered on your promise. It is now up to us, the Gambian people, to uphold our part of the bargain,” Aboubacarr Tambadou said.

Justice Jallow, Chairperson CRC

In June 2018 the eleven-member Constitutional Review Commission was sworn into office and mandated to execute their assignment in two phases: First, to review the 1997 Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia and write a new Constitution; second, to prepare a report with regard to the new Constitution.

The CRC Chairperson, Justice Cherno Jallow reported that they adhered to these statutorily established functions and exercised their discretionary powers “in a fair and balanced manner”, bearing in mind at all times matters that it considered to be in the best interest and future of The Gambia.

“Constitution-building is a serious business,” said Chairman Jallow. “But it is also a herculean task, especially when the drafters of the new Constitution are confronted with tons of wishes and aspirations for inclusion in that Constitution,” he added.

Mr. Jallow said when President Barrow tasked them to review the 1997 Constitution, he was emphatic about the need to develop a Constitution that will serve the test of time. Hence they were grateful to be given both the strength and the commitment to achieve this for their country and as their leader expected of them.

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Mozambique: President Nyusi declares state of emergency
March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos*

President Nyusi
President Nyusi

Mozambique should be in a state of emergency from 00:00 on 1 April, for 30 days in response to Covid-19, mozambican president Filipe Nyusi announced on Monday night saying that he himself submitted the proposal to parliament hoping it should be ratified on Tuesday.

In a statement to the nation, Nyusi also announced new measures to be implemented in the framework of strengthening prevention against the new coronavirus. Mozambique has a record of eight confirmed cases, of which six were imported cases of the virus and two were transmitted locally.

The measures include 14 days obligatory quarantine for all people who have recently travelled outside the country or who have had contact with confirmed cases of covid-19; a ban on any public or private event, such as religious worship, cultural, recreational, sporting, political, associative, tourist or any other idol except for unavoidable issues of State or social;

The internal circulation of people in any part of the national territory has been limited as well as the entry of people at land borders, airports and ports except for reasons of State interest or transport of goods and merchandise related to health.

Nyusi also said that commercial establishments of entertainment or similar should be closed; There should be monitoring of the prices of essential goods for the population including those necessary for the prevention and combat of the pandemic; The industrial sector is now oriented to the production of inputs necessary to combat the Covid-19.

Sustainable fiscal and monetary policy measures should also be adopted to support the private sector to face the economic impact of the pandemic and to introduce labour turnover or other modalities according to the specificity of the public and private sectors as well as to ensure the implementation of the prevention measures announced by the Ministry of Health in all public and private institutions.

Nyusi admitted that, although the measures are phase 3, and not lockdown, they are extreme and called for people to obey unconditionally.

“Stay home and break the network of the disease spreading,” he said.

*jorgedossantosmz@gmail.com

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Equatorial Guinea shortlists companies for Key Energy Projects under its Year of Investment
March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons.
The decision was adopted during a meeting on March 19th, 2020

MALABO, Equatorial Guinea, March 30, 2020/ — The Board of Directors of the Ministry of Mines and Hydrocarbons (MMH) of Equatorial Guinea has selected and revealed the key companies shortlisted for the execution of its landmark projects under its ongoing Year of Investment. The decision was adopted during a meeting on March 19th, 2020.

At Punta Europa, where most of Equatorial Guinea’s gas and energy activities are currently located, the country is building a modular refinery, storage tanks and a methanol-to-derivatives plant. Interested companies for the modular refinery include American oil company Marathon Oil, a Spanish-Russian consortium of Selquimica International with Engineering and Energy, and British company Rosslyn Energy.

The latter is also interested in the development of the Storage Tanks, along with British company Orange Resources Worldwide and the China Communications Construction Company.

Finally, the Methanol-to-Derivatives project has attracted the interest of South African company Pan African Energy, Nigerian company Bugabi Group, and Danish catalysis company Haldor Topsoe.

At Kogo South of the nation’s economic capital Bata, the second Modular Refinery project has attracted the interest of Egyptian company Petrojet, British company Rosslyn Energy, the Spanish-Russian consortium of Selquimica International with Engineering and Energy, and UAE-based SDLE International DMCC. Meanwhile, South African company Grindstone Resources and Omani company MSS LLC are both shortlisted for the gold refinery project and the Minerals Industrial Zone.

While the MMH is still registering interest from additional players, including Chinese companies, these are the shortlisted potential investors for these projects so far.

“Equatorial Guinea has postponed most investment conferences under its Year of Investment in 2020 due to the ongoing pandemic of coronavirus, but we keep working with our team and our partners on having all these projects break ground as soon as possible. These are landmark infrastructure development projects that will ensure the sustainable growth of our hydrocarbons and minerals industry, create jobs and generate income for the state and citizens for decades to come,” commented H.E. Gabriel Mbaga Obiang Lima, Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons.
*African Energy Chamber

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MePlaylistTM “a 100% African Start-Up for Music Streaming and Promotion” attracts Investment from Mathew Knowles and other Global Investors
March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
Investors Mathew Knowles and Michael Kiladejo
The company which was founded by Olakunle Oladehin, a seasoned entertainment industry insider, is poised to revitalize the streaming market


LAGOS, Nigeria, March 30, 2020/ — MePlaylistTM (https://www.MePlaylist.com/) a 100% African solution to music consumption and promotion has earned the attention of global investors and partners like Mr Mathew Knowles, father of artists Beyoncé and Solange Knowles. Mr Knowles believes MePlaylistTM offers music consumers in Africa a unique experience that is much more simplified for a continent where internet penetration and the use of smartphones is projected to experience significant growth.

“MePlaylistTM is Africa’s own answer to the popular music streaming platforms, but it takes streaming a step further by personalizing the experience for each consumer based on their consumption patterns and the technology available to them. This and the population of Africans both on the continent and in the diaspora is why I am proud to have invested in MePlaylistTM“, he said in a statement.

With increasing mobile phone usage in Africa and the global prominence of African acts like Diamond Platinumz, Davido, Tiwa, Wizkid, Yemi Alade and Burna Boy, convenient and reliable platforms with expansive catalogues of streamable are far from the norm on the continent. Many streaming platforms prioritize commercialization efforts in high-income countries and pay less attention to low and middle-income countries. This has created a gap between Africa’s rich musical contents and the need to reach fans through channels that make monetization and exchange of value easier and convenient.

It is solving this challenge that birthed MePlaylistTM; a music streaming platform that presents music content to users in an intuitive and data-friendly fashion, projecting African acts to the world and vice versa. The platform comes with a unique administrative royalty distribution, multiple plan types and subscription currencies, high-quality audio, plus DDEX standards for ingesting and reporting usage. These amongst others have attracted global music stakeholders to the platform, hence making it possible to partner with music distributors globally.

According to a year-end report (https://bit.ly/2UELjEM) from the RIAA, revenues from streaming services grew nearly 20% in 2019 to $8.8 billion, accounting for 79.5% of all recorded music revenues, which means the streaming music services’ share of total music revenues is bigger than ever. With the global music industry now worth about $19.1 billion, the African market is still largely untapped with its 1 billion-plus mostly young population and still accounts for a mere 2% of the global recorded-music sector and less than 1% of the royalties collected.

Unfortunately for music consumers in Africa, many of whom fall between the ages of 17 and 22, streaming services though ubiquitous, are not without their challenges. Consumers have over time complained about the high cost of subscribing to some platforms, the unresponsive and unexciting user interfaces and catalogues not as exhaustive as consumers would love. This has presented a challenge for content creators in Africa to earn suitable revenue from their work.

MePlaylistTM is a 100% African solution to music consumption and promotion. The company which was founded by Olakunle Oladehin, a seasoned entertainment industry insider, is poised to revitalize the streaming market by providing a music consumption and promotion service that will make music consumers enjoy their listening experience on an optimized app without breaking the bank or running out of options. MePlaylistTM users will also be able to curate their own playlists and get followers to enjoy new music from all over the world.

According to Olakunle, “our focus is to put our users and their music consumption habits first; our platform has been designed with the understanding that people are mobile and constantly in need of new content, so from our interface to our catalogue options, we are making the MePlaylistTM experience the best in the market”. Olakunle further emphasised the increasing importance of user-generated content (UGC) to give more visibility to music that matters. In his words “MePlaylistTM has been designed to be an intelligent music App that applies artificial intelligence to give each user a unique experience.”

His words are echoed by Ayodeji Oyenekan the Head of Technical Innovation at MePlaylistTM who says the MePlaylistTM app has been built to make expanding the catalogue on offer and other features as seamless as possible. “Because of the innovative app we have built, MePlaylistTM will offer artists, aggregators and other content owners the opportunity to better monetize their content and reach a wider audience.”

Mr Knowles’ Music World Entertainment Corporation is joining other global industry majors who have invested in Nigeria’s rapidly growing music industry. Mr Michael Kay Kiladejo, Managing Partner of Music World International, and CEO of Track Record Entertainment LTD, UK, expressed optimism in the African music landscape and cited reasons for investing in MePlaylistTM. In his words “We are very confident in the technical capabilities and expansion strategies for MePlaylistTM to deliver world-class service to music lovers in Africa and beyond. To this end, it is a timely move to be able to facilitate the availability of the iconic Music World catalogue on the MePlaylist platform, and simultaneously take advantage of access to the dynamic new market it offers to artists on the Track Record Entertainment label.”

MePlaylistTM Founder Olakunle Oladehin believes that everyone will find their favourite kind of music on the app and anticipates that pre-launch subscription figures will shoot up significantly in the coming days as more Nigerians experience the seamless features of the MePlaylistTM app. “Whether you are looking for the next Wizkid, Burna Boy or Tiwa Savage song or your taste is more Obesere and King Sunny Ade, we have something for you on an app that makes the music more interesting for you”.

Legal and Transaction advisory services for the MePlaylistTM project was provided by leading Entertainment Law Firm in Nigeria, RBMM Solicitors. According to Demilade Olaosun, the Lead Solicitor at the Firm, it was a privilege working with the MePlaylistTM Management Team to iron out critical equity acquisition terms between the Company and Mr Mathew Knowles and his team. Olaosun strongly believes the African Entertainment industry stands to gain a lot from this strategic collaboration and he is excited about the prospects of MePlaylistTM in shaping music consumption in Africa and across the world.

About MePlaylist:
MePlaylistTM (https://www.MePlaylist.com/) is a subscription and ads based On-Demand music streaming application, creating an intuitive and unique media to access unlimited music. The app collects data about user tastes and preferences to create custom-curated playlists in the app for users to listen to. MePlaylistTM is available on the Google Play Store and all Web Browser services and is home to an entire streaming catalogue of new music, curated playlists, music and more.
About Music World Entertainment Corporation:
Music World Entertainment Corporation has expanded and diversified over the last two decades into one of the world’s leading music and entertainment conglomerates, with record sales exceeding 300 million worldwide. Under Music World Artist Management, Destiny’s Child became a global phenomenon and was named the Best Selling Female Group of All Time in popular music, as well as Billboards Top Ten Best Selling Artist of the Decade, selling over 100 million records and collecting nearly 200 awards globally.

Its founder Mathew Knowles, MBA, PhD, is a public speaker, #1 best-selling author and a university professor currently teaching at Prairie View A&M. Under his leadership, Music World Entertainment Corporation catalogue label boasts major names like Chaka Khan, Kool & The Gang, The O’Jays, Solange, Michelle Williams and countless others.

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Opinion: Young Jamaican’s invention could help tackle spread of viruses like COVID-19
March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Patricia Scotland*

Patricia Scotland, Commonwealth Secretary-General

Five years ago more than 40 babies born in Jamaican hospitals became infected with lethal bacteria – half of them died.

The bacteria Klebsiella, like the coronavirus, is spread from person-to-person or via contaminated surfaces. It can be killed by hand-washing with warm soapy water.

The situation caught the attention of technology student Rayvon Stewart based in Jamaica who set about finding a way to curb the spread of harmful germs.

“I made a determined decision that I was going to find a solution to limit the transfer of pathogens to multiple surfaces, thereby saving lives,” says Rayvon.

Young innovators in health

I met Rayvon at the Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting (CHMM) in Geneva last year. He was among the finalists shortlisted for last year’s Commonwealth Health Innovation Awards. He took part in an exhibition on the theme ‘Universal Health Coverage: Reaching the unreached, ensuring that no-one is left behind’ which highlighted how young people are tackling age-old challenges with modern technology and disruptive thinking.

The event underlined Commonwealth commitment to empowering young people as outlined in our charter and also our contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

I spoke to five extraordinary innovators who made it as finalists of the Commonwealth Health Innovation Awards which recognise outstanding young people whose groundbreaking projects have made a real impact in helping their countries achieve Sustainable Development Goal 3, which is to ‘ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages’.

William Wasswa was working on a digital pathology platform for automated diagnosis and classification of cervical cancer from pap-smear images. Then there was Midia Hassan using 3D printing technology to provide prosthetics to amputees living in refugee camps and poverty zones.

Another timely invention is that of Nitash Jangir who was one of 15 finalists at our SDG innovation awards. Nitash invented a neonatal breathing support device for low resource settings, with multiple powering options. It maintains respiration and oxygenation in premature neonates with Respiratory Distress Syndrome by providing constant airflow and pressure to keep the lungs open during transport to a tertiary care setting.

I was struck by the ability of young minds to find solutions to real problems in their communities, and their persistence in finding support to scale-up their projects.

In Rayvon’s case, he focused on the most common places where bacteria and viruses could easily be left by one person and picked up directly by another. He came up with what he calls ‘Xermosol’- a simple-to-install device that automatically disinfects door knobs and handles after each use.

The innovation uses ultraviolet light to target and specifically kill harmful microorganisms, while being harmless to human beings.

The potential to save lives

The potential impact of Rayvon’s invention could now be even more important than when he first conceived it, as the world battles the frightening COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus lives up to two or three days on stainless steel and metal, and several hours on fabric depending on factors such as temperature and humidity.

Field and laboratory testing has validated Xermosol’s efficiency in killing more than 99.9% of deadly pathogens. In addition to health facilities, Rayvon hopes it could help reduce transmission of germs in other public spaces such as schools and businesses.

Tests carried out in conjunction with University of Technology, Jamaica and University of the West Indies show Xermosol destroys organisms such as MRSA and E-coli and destroys viral cells such as influenza virus H1N1.

This is a huge step in the fight against microorganisms and offers new ways of thinking around combatting viral cells such as Coronavirus.

Supporting young people to innovate

Rayvon says the recognition he received from the Commonwealth Health Innovation Awards was a key moment in Xermosol’s progress, generating immense interest in the project.

But now the production of Xermosol faces a number of considerable challenges – from development funding to finding a manufacturer to mass produce.

Financing options are mostly focused on large-scale innovation, but the Commonwealth is exploring and proposing that all 54 member-countries go into partnership with the Global Innovation Fund to help young innovators like Rayvon.

Over the past two years, the Commonwealth Youth Health Network has worked closely with the Commonwealth Secretariat and member states to leverage the unique capabilities of young people and drive forward progress toward SDG3 (which includes a bold commitment to end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other communicable diseases) and health-related development goals.

Citizens aged under 30 comprise 60 per cent of the Commonwealth’s population – a proportion that is 10 per cent higher than the global average. In the course of my interaction in and with our member countries I am continually impressed by the drive of these 1.4 billion young people. They have the ideas, energy and talent to make a huge difference in their communities – and they are doing so.

* Patricia Scotland is the Commonwealth Secretary-General

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Covid 19: Foreign nationals flee ahead of lockdown in Ghana.
March 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

The Ghana immigration services have picked up 22 Malians who tried sneaking out of the country through unapproved routes from Tatale in the Northern Region. 

10 Guinean nationals who are eloping through Tamale have tested positive for coronavirus following their arrest and quarantine. While others are running away from the partial lockdown in some parts of Ghana, others were also sneaking in as well. According to the Ghana immigration service, 14 Nigerian and a Ghanaian was also picked up at the Aflao- Togo border. 

Few hours after the president’s announcement on the partial lockdown of some parts of Ghana, Ghanaians at the affected areas have been moving to their hometowns to avoid the restriction order. Foreign nationals from the sub- region are not left out using unapproved routes, despite the closure of the country’s borders.

This, the joints security force is warning will not be tolerated. Briefing the media today, the operations directorates of the Ghana Immigration has advised that Ghanaians and other nationals in Ghana cooperates with the directive given to curb the spread of the virus. Failure to do so he said will mean that the security services will have to use force. DCOP Dr. Sayibu Gariba, Director of National Operations, Ghana police service and the Director of operations at the Ghana Armed forces Col.William Nortey said  the service is poised to ensure compliance of the orders and would need maximum cooperation from the populace. 

According to DCOP Dr. Sayibu Gariba, the security agency does not intend to terrorize the citizenry but it is crucial they adhere to directives to ensure effective operation.  

“It is a humanitarian operation; not a war. We’re not going to intimidate anybody, we’re going to support to achieve the overall objective of the president of Ghana,”. As at the time of filling this report, Ghana has recorded eleven (11) new cases of the coronavirus according to the Ghana Health Service (GHS). This makes the total number of cases in the country 152. 

“As of 29th March 2020, at 10:30 hrs, 11 new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Ghana. Ten (10) of the new cases were among persons who were under mandatory quarantine in Tamale under the direction of the Regional Security Committee of the Northern Region.

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COVID-19 Gambia: Jack Ma Donates Test Kits, Face Masks, and Protective Gears
March 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Chinese billionaire has donated The Gambia  20, 000 test kids, 100, 000 face masks and protective gears to effectively fight the Coronavirus pandemic.

The medical consignment is flown into the country by Ethiopian airline flight on Saturday, donated by Jack Ma through his Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations in China.

The supplies are part of the continent-wide donation in support of actions towards the implementation of the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 led by the African Union through the Africa Centre for Disease Control.

Authorities were gathered at the Banjul International Airport to receive the consignment. The Chinese Ambassador to The Gambia, Ma Jianchun said China decided to provide emergency medical assistance to Africa considering the challenges confronting the continent at the difficult time of intensifying spread of the virus.

“China and Gambia are friends and reliable partners. At the moment, the coronavirus has already hit The Gambia and I would express our sympathy and support and solidarity with the Gambia government and Gambian people,” he said at the handing over ceremony.

“Today we are here to receive more medical supplies donated to The Gambia by two Foundations in China; Jack Ma Foundation and Ali Baba Foundation. These supplies include 100, 000 face masks, 20, 000 testing kits, 1000 protective clothes. These supplies represent sincere friendship from the Chinese people to The Gambian people.”

Dr. Amadou Samateh, Health Minister of The Gambia,  hailed the Foundations for the timely support.

“With the donations of the equipment, these protective gears, the test kits, etc. we are going to deal with the cases we currently have in a better way. We pray against it but if we do have more cases, we will be in a better position to deal with it,” he said.

Modou Njie, Director of Health Promotion and Education,  assures that the equipment will be put into good use in combating the virus

Wanja Kaaria, World Food Programme Country representative,  said the cooperation in fighting to end the virus is key and challenged Gambians and those living in the country to take precautions to contain the spread of the virus.

“To date Gambia has recorded a very few cases and among those we have seen only one unfortunate death, several people continued to be under isolation and several more in self-quarantine. Indeed today, we are pleased to receive a sizable consignment as donation for the African continent and the Gambia from Jack Ma Foundation, the founder of Alibaba,” she said.

Dr. Desta Tiruneh, Country Representative for the World Health Organization (WHO),  said the donation to The Gambia is part of the response to COVID-19 pandemic which was shared among all the 54 states in Africa.

“This support was directed to the African Union, African Centre for Disease  `Control and Prevention has brought several partners together to save and expedite the delivery to The Gambia. The WHO globally and the Gambia will continue to respond to the response of COVID 19 pandemic,” he said.

“The test kits and other materials received will go a long way in the fight against COVID 19 locally against the pandemic. The fight against the COVID-19 is a global fight. We are all together and this is why we are here today. Multiple stakeholders are putting together their resources and everything for the same cause of global threat to humanity. The donation is an excellent demonstration of solidarity.”

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COVID 19; Ghana to go on a partial lockdown.
March 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jessica Ahedor

  Effective 1 am on Monday, March 30, 2020, Ghana will be partially locking down some parts of her regions believes to be the ‘’hot spot’’ for the covid 19 pandemic.

The areas include parts of the capital Accra- Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, Awutu Senya East and Kumasi Metropolitan Area for two (2) weeks. The president Nana Akufo Addo under imposing Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012) on Friday evening outlines these measures as the recorded cases of the virus keeps growing.

The lockdown, according to the president, is to restrict movements of people in these areas as contact tracing is becoming a difficult task. As at the time of this report, Ghana has recorded 141 cases with 5 death. Services exempted from this partial lockdown are media, members of parliament, electricity companies, among other key stakeholders.‘’ if you must go out, it must only be to get essential items such as food, water, medicine, undertake banking transactions, or to use public toilet facilities. But, as much as possible, stay at home’’ the president emphasized.

It is expected that, during this period, no inter-city movement of vehicles and aircraft for private or commercial purposes for the areas of the restrictive measures, except for vehicles and aircrafts providing essential services and those carrying cargo. Riders of motorbikes are not allowed to carry any additional person, and all intra-city passenger vehicles, such as trotros and taxis, must reduce the number of passengers to observe social distancing and hygiene protocols.

Individuals and institutions providing the following services shall be exempted from the restrictions. Members of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary, Production, distribution and marketing of food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, medicine, paper and plastic packages. Environmental and sanitation activities, VALCO staff, Road and Railway construction workers, Mining workers, Fisherfolk, members of the security agencies assigned lawful duties, the staff of electricity, water, telecommunications, e-commerce and digital service providers, and fuel station’s staff.

According to the president, Ghana cannot copy blindly due to the peculiarity of her system. “In doing this, we cannot afford to copy blindly and do all the things some other well-developed countries are doing. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to this pandemic. We have a unique situation in our country, and we must take it into account in dealing with the disease, whilst meeting all the six (6) key WHO guidelines on the most effective ways of combating the pandemic’’.

Chief of Staff, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare in a statement today 29th march 2020 she maintained the members of the executive arm of government the President referred to include Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Senior Staffers and Special Assistants.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Members of the Executive refers to; Hon. Ministers, Deputy Ministers of State, Senior Staffers at the Presidency and Special Assistants. All other Members of the Public Service are to comply with the circular issued by the Public Services Commission with reference No. AB 296/349/01 dated 23rd March 2020 which is aimed at reducing the number of staff working at the same time while ensuring the continuous delivery of core services as mandated’’.
 

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