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Credit platform Migo raises $20 Million Series B
December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

Valor Leads Round as Fintech Startup Expands to Brazil

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIF. (December 3, 2019) — Migo (formerly Mines.io), a startup reinventing the way people access and use credit in emerging markets, has completed a Series B equity round of $20 million led by Valor Capital Group, a Brazil-focused venture capital firm. Existing investors, The Rise Fund (managed by TPG Growth) and Velocity Capital, also joined the funding round. This financing will support talent acquisition and Migo’s launch into the Brazilian market, as well as its continued growth in Nigeria.

Migo is a cloud-based platform that enables companies to offer credit to their customers, augmenting traditional bank and payment card infrastructure. Companies like banks, telecommunications operators and merchants integrate Migo in their apps and Migo underwrites customers to provide them with a digital account and credit line. The customers can use this credit line to make purchases from a merchant or withdraw cash without the need for point-of-sale hardware or plastic cards. Migo serves underbanked customers who are not typically covered by credit bureaus, having underwritten more than seven million of these customers to date. An estimated 90 million adults in Nigeria and 100 million adults in Brazil have no access to credit, and this is a massive area of untapped growth for emerging market banking ecosystems.

“Our mission is to drive commerce around the world by injecting liquidity into the last-mile retail sector,” explains Migo CEO, Ekechi Nwokah. “We believe the best way to achieve this goal is to build digital infrastructure to empower local enterprises that already serve millions of consumers and small businesses.” 

Migo offers a simple API so its partners can offer co-branded credit services in their own apps and websites, increasing customer engagement and serving customer segments they were not previously able to serve. Migo is particularly attractive for merchants and payment gateways since it can grow merchant revenue due to increased customer purchasing power and transaction completion rate.

As part of the financing, Antoine Colaco from Valor Capital has joined the Migo Board of Directors. “Migo combines world-class technology with a deep understanding of the needs of consumers and small businesses in emerging markets. We are excited to partner with them in Brazil and beyond,” Colaco said.

Migo enables some of the largest retail enterprises in Africa—from mobile operators like 9mobile and MTN to payment companies Interswitch and Flutterwave to banks like Bank of Industry and Fidelity Bank.  Migo is now expanding to Brazil and partnering with some of the largest retail enterprises in Latin America. “The typical Silicon Valley approach of move-fast-and-break-things doesn’t work well in emerging markets. To create durable solutions, it is important to combine the audacity of cutting-edge technology with humility to the nuances of local markets” says VP of Growth, Adia Sowho.

Migo started out as a research project on high-performance artificial intelligence led by Migo Chief Scientist, Kunle Olukotun, a professor of computer engineering at Stanford University. This project came to life after a chance meeting between Olukotun and Nwokah, a computer scientist working on big data projects at Amazon Web Services. Following their meeting, the pair teamed up to direct the technology toward solving credit in emerging markets. This big data approach is one of the company’s key advantages, as it aggregates massive amounts of data across all of its partners to improve population coverage and credit decisions over time.

About Migo

Migo is a cloud-based platform that enables companies to offer credit to their customers, augmenting traditional bank and payment card infrastructure. Companies like banks, telecommunications operators and merchants integrate Migo in their apps and Migo underwrites customers to provide them with a digital account and credit line. The customers can use this credit line to make purchases from a merchant or withdraw cash without the need for point-of-sale hardware or plastic cards. Migo is headquartered in San Francisco, California.


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SuperEagles Defender, William Ekong Leads Charge Against Neglected Tropical Diseases That Affect Over 120 Million Nigerians
December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

.the Super Eagles defender is campaigning in partnership with the END Fund and Common Goal

LAGOS, Nigeria, December, 3rd, 2019 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Nigeria national team defender William Ekong has started a campaign to draw attention to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) that affect more than 120 million Nigerians. In partnership with the END Fund and Common Goal, William appears in a public service announcement where he calls on affected Nigerians to seek free treatment.
Neglected tropical diseases are a group of parasitic and bacterial infectious diseases that affect more than 1.7 billion of the world’s most impoverished people, including 1 billion children. They include intestinal worms, schistosomiasis (bilharzia), river blindness, trachoma, and lymphatic filariasis.

Translated in pidgin, the public service announcement sheds light on how NTDs affect all aspects of life. Thus, calling upon Nigerians to take advantage of the ongoing mass administration of medication (MAM) efforts being led by community health workers all throughout the country.

Please visit your local health center for more information on how to get treatment in your local government area in Nigeria.

*AMA

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Cameroon: STEM Prize Finalists trained on Project writing, Project Management Skills
December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Agathe Djomeghu Director of Programs at D&L
Agathe Djomeghu Director of Programs at D&L

(Yaounde, Cameroon) Finalists for the 2019 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Prize have in a two-day workshop trained on project writing by the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation. The aim is to educate the participants on how to get their project implemented which will attract funding.

Vera Kum, Economist and Research Fellow at the Nkafu Policy Institute, and one of the trainers edified participants on writing a research proposal, project visibility, communicating a project, marketing a project, and the importance of networking. 

To her, the finalists of the STEM Prize were trained so that when the funds are made available to them they can be able to make use of it, “to come up with more powerful proposals than what they submitted us. It will make their projects more visible, and attractive to many donors.

She added that. “Like the project on plastic bottles, it requires about FCFA 6.7 million, but the foundation is not giving them up to that, so the training on project visibility will help to boost them, so they can apply for many more funding, and be able to better implement that project.”

With respect to the evaluation of the projects submitted, Vera Kum said that, “One thing the evaluators do is to look at the content and the impact that project has for the community and beyond. There were about five evaluators who were charged with the evaluation of each project anonymously.”

During the training, the finalists were drilled on how to become an entrepreneur, and giving tips for survival in an entrepreneurial world. They were equally taught on how to translate their education into opportunities with a visit to the Technical Department of the national media, CRTV.

At the end, participants were awarded certificates for participating in 2019 edition of the STEM competition.

To Loni Tande Miriam, “The training on project writing which was giving to us was very helpful because I learned a lot of things which I did not even know. Like when writing a project you have to include your future goals, and with respect to being a finalist I need to go back am improved with the money we won during the competition.” “My team, and I are surely going to invest it in a business so, it can generate more income to realize our project.”

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Nkafu Policy Institute trains Peace Advocates on Peaceful Resolution of Conflicts in Cameroon
December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Mbeng Primus - Individuals should advocate peace
Mbeng Primus – Individuals should advocate peace

(Buea, Cameroon) Since 2016, with the emergence of the current armed conflicts in the South West and North West Regions, the image of the country as an avenue of peace, among many troubled countries and Cameroonians as “tolerant and peace-loving people” has changed for the worst.

In joining voices and to move the talk for the need for a peaceful resolution to the current violent conflicts in two English-speaking regions of the country, and across the national territory, the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation has December 3, 2019, at Hotel Mermoz in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon trained peace advocates on the peaceful resolution of conflicts in the country.

The training is inline with a recently instituted project titled “promoting lasting peace in Cameroon.” Within this project, the Nkafu policy institute is hosting two leadership and capacity-building workshop for peace advocates.

To Emile Sundjo, Lecturer at the Department of International Relations and conflict resolution at the University of Buea noted that peace means embracing people  for who they are and not trying to change them. “Peace is not the absence of war, but it means social cohesion,” He said.

“The peace advocates should become a positive change to their communities. We should welcome diversity, differences and accept people’s differences, and if we do that the conflicts in our country will be reduced. We can reduce conflicts with tolerance, but we cannot completely eradicate it.” “…We should learn to share resources in the country. We need to be tolerant and share resources in the country.”

Mbeng Primus, Lecturer at the Department of International Relations and Conflict Resolution, Founder of Young Initiative for Peace Building, and Conflict Resolution speaking on practical conflict prevention, management, resolution, transformation and settlement indicated that the government cannot solve the present problem in the Anglophone region without first identifying the root causes of the problem. “The government must recognize there are two cultures in Cameroon (Anglophones, and Francophones)” He said.

To him, reconciliation cannot be mentioned without a ceasefire, and normalization. The last stage of every conflict is reconciliation. However, the government has skipped all the stages and just landed on the last stage which involves reconciliation.

He added that the denial factor exists at the moment that is why the present crisis is yet to be resolved. “You must face the problems to resolve the present crisis,” he noted. “Conflicts doesn’t come from the blues. There are early warnings which are involved. The government has failed to recognize the problem that’s why we are where we are.”

“Peace makes us to accept diversity. We must embrace diversity and tolerance,” He noted. “Once we start saying one culture is bigger than the other, we start getting to diversity issues. Hate speech should equally not be part our peace advocates’work.”

Participants pose at the end of the peace seminar

Speaking to PAV, Mbeng Primus  indicated that conflict prevention is the best way for sustainable peace. “If we want to sustain peace in our country, we must first prevent conflict. There is no need resolving a crisis when you can prevent it — that is stopping the conflict from occurring is better than providing solution to the conflict.”

“The advocates must go back to the communities and be the changes that they want the country to be. We are leaving in a very difficult moment, and it is only a peace advocate that can savor this situation that we are.”

“We have as a responsibility to go back to our various communities, and try to seek for means to preach the most desired peace that we expect in this country,” Tarhyang Tabe, participant and Publisher of The Advocate Newspaper noted while adding that we have to see where we have not been able to effect change and see how we can be able to do the new things we have learned. “Now it is a matter of approach. Our approach may be different, but the result is the same — the solving of the crisis in Cameroon.”

During the training, two major modules were x-rayed which included the theoretical and conceptual underpinnings of peace, conflicts, and violence/war, and practical conflict prevention, management, resolution and transformation.

The training brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds, civil society organizations, peace and development experts interested in contributing to peaceful and sustainable solutions to the current destructive conflict in the Anglophone Regions, and Cameroon at large.

According to a communiqué, the foundation believes that this diverse groups of advocates (some 50) will be able to bridge Cameroon’s tribal, cultural, political, and linguistic divides and promote peace in their communities.

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Cameroon: Faculty of Mines and Oil Industries, Maroua Wins 2019 STEM Prize Competition
December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Winners of STEM Prize 2019
Winners of STEM Prize 2019

(Yaounde, Cameroon) The 2019 edition of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) competition organized by the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation has been won by the Faculty of Mines and Oil Industries, Maroua.

Kapche Christian, Mekoulou Ondigui, Andela Jessica and Dissake Olivier with a project on Production of diesel fuel paraffinic from neem oil was crowned winners during the award ceremony November 30, 2019, at the Muna Foundation in Yaounde.

“We are so happy that we won the STEM prize as all our efforts have been rewarded. We had a fix objective to transform our economy, especially that of the extreme North. Cameroonians should not give up — when you have projects just continue to work on it,” Mekoulou Odigui Daniel explained.

They equally went home with a cash prize of FCFA 1. 5M, with the second place going home with FCFA 1M, and the third with FCFA 75, 000. FCFA 500, 000 each was awarded to the fourth and fifth positions.

Second position was won by L’institut Universitaire de Technologie Fotso Victor (IUT-FV), third position occupied by Institut des Sciences Économiques et des Technique Appliquées (ISET), University of Buea came in the fourth place while the University of Yaounde 1 came in the fifth place.

To Odette Kibu, Health Policy Analyst, and Coordinator of the STEM Prize, “What we expected from the team is that they should implement their projects that they proposed to the foundation. We are expecting them to use the funds giving them to implement their projects, so they can see how to positively impact their communities,” She said while adding that, “Every three months, we will be following them up to see how far they have implemented the project because we don’t want to give money, and not to follow them up.”

To her, the foundation received 63, applications this year as compared to 48 last year. “In addition, 93 girls entered the competition compared to 82 last year. Applications were received from eight regions of the country, but we are hoping that next year’s edition will feature applications from all the ten regions of the country.”

“We have already working on the project we presented (HAS 2.0). We were just looking for how we can get funds for the project to continue but giving the outcome, we are going to look for funds elsewhere as we were trained on how to attract funds for our projects,” noted Durell Dogmo, team member UB.

Various teams equally did a brief demonstration of their projects to the watching of those in attendance. Some projects include, the Home Automation Systems (HAS) proposed by those from University of Buea, LANDPAD – a tablet with a set of applications to digitalize agricultural plantations and optimize production from students at the University of Yaounde 1, Plastic waste bottles turned building blocks to construct eco-friendly residential houses by 2020 in Foumbot, by students from Institut des Sciences Économiques et des Technique Appliquées (ISET).

Fosi Jasmine from Institut des Sciences Économiques et des Technique Appliquées (ISET), was giving an individual award for being the youngest participant at this year’s event at 13-years-old, while Wadjom Eunice was equally honored for being the most dynamic person during the training. 

Previous Winners

Students from Quality international who had a project on “Hemo Android mobile application” won first position for the 2018 STEM competition, and equally went home with a cash prize of FCFA 1.5 million.

Students from Government Bilingual Grammar School Kumbo won the second prize with a project title, “Fighting Deforestation by substituting wood with mini biogas plants in restaurants by 2019 in Kumbo, North West Region of Cameroon.” The students went home with 1 million FCFA to help them in achieving their project.

ICT University came in third position winning FCFA 7, 50,000. They had a project called “Mediquick: Mobile application to ease access to healthcare information.”

Extreme North bags first prize at 2019 STEM
Extreme North bags first prize at 2019 STEM

The STEM Prize Competition was established to encourage young Cameroonians, especially girls and young women to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. From many applications received in this year’s edition, five (5) teams of  motivated young men and women  aged between 13 to 21 have been selected as Finalists.  These young Cameroonians are working on innovative projects to improve the living conditions in their communities and the entire country.

“Our goal here is simple: Unleash the potential of our people to be able to tackle many challenges to economic prosperity by creating wealth for themselves and the community. History has taught us that this can only be done through science, technology and innovation.” Dr. Denis Foretia, CO-CHAIR, Foretia Foundation

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Lux Afrique Boutique Now Offers International Luxury Brands a Way into 54 Countries in Africa Through Their Online Luxury Shopping Platform
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments
Alexander Amosu, CEO of Lux Afrique Boutique
Alexander Amosu, CEO of Lux Afrique Boutique

Brands like Louis XIII, David Morris, Yoko London, Montegrappa, Boadicea, Stephen Webster are just a some of the brands already signed up to the shopping platform
LONDON, United Kingdom, December 3, 2019/ — Lux Afrique Boutique (LAB) , is the first luxury online shopping platform that offers its VIP clients an opportunity to purchase and take delivery of luxury goods anywhere in Africa.

Strong ambitions

Historically, luxury brands have traditionally been associated with developed nations, as a result of this, it became common practice for both Ultra High Net Worth (UHNW) & High Net Worth (HNW) markets of African nations to dominate well known international luxury retailers such as Harrods, Saks, Harvey Nicholls and other respected retailers. Subsequently with the growing trend of online buying, luxury retailers entered the same market.

For example, Net-A-Porter first made its appearance in the year 2000 and has now firmly solidified itself as one of the market leaders in Europe for online luxury brands. This too can be said for FarFetched, Lane Crawford in Asia Pacific, and Nordstrom for North & South America.

What remains to be explored is a market leader for the continent of Africa. This is where the expertise of Lux Afrique has a clear benefit and advantage to partnering brands.

Brands like Louis XIII, David Morris, Yoko London, Montegrappa, Boadicea, Stephen Webster are just a some of the brands already signed up to the shopping platform, with more joining on a daily basis. The online shopping platform offers its HNW clients across the African continent an opportunity to shop at the same prices as retail outlets in Paris, London or Milan from the comfort of their homes.

The growing world of luxury constantly draws in new consumers and in fact, according to a recent study published by Bain & Company , the market is expected to grow by 5% in 2019. This growth is due in particular to the developing digital world, and to Generation Z, Millennials – who will represent around 55% of the market in 2025 and will contribute 130% growth during this period – and the increase in a new-found demand of customers in emerging countries.

Alexander Amosu, CEO of Lux Afrique Boutique states: “We already have great experience with the requirements of the African HNW market, a classic example is a client in Lagos, Nigeria going to an event in 48hrs and needing the perfect ensemble right through from cocktail dress, to matching shoes and accessories. As soon as she placed her order, LAB got it on a plane for our client to receive it the very next day. LAB offers a variety of logistic services, however in this case what was required was the pinnacle, being an expedited white glove delivery service. Essentially, African luxury consumers now have a company they can rely on to deliver all their favourite luxury brands to their homes or office anywhere on the continent.”

Trendy products


Luxury brands will continue to capture the imagination and set trends, even in an environment of dynamic financial conditions, typical of emerging markets. Additionally, the global luxury market is constantly looking to reach untapped markets, especially in Africa. LAB already offers a selection of luxury products that correspond to current trends and are aligned with the expectations of HNW customers. “LAB’s unique advantage is that Through its client base, it can support the growth of its luxury brand partners on the African continent in any market where they wish to strengthen their presence. With the rise of new forms of commerce linked to the digital economy, this is an opportunity for LAB and we are better placed to meet consumer demand in Africa,” Amosu adds.

Made in Africa

Lux Afrique Boutique is delighted to and will offer a selection of Africa’s most talented and respected designers as part of our ‘Made in Africa’ range.

Elegant and luxurious creations from across the continent will be featured on the online platform, side by side, with traditional western luxury creators.


Lux Afrique Boutique , is part of the Lux Afrique Group that offers a lifestyle and concierge services cantering to UHNW across Africa, as well as a luxury multimedia platform for marketing and promoting luxury brands, targeting an audience on the African continent. It introduces luxury-focused brands to the high net-worth consumer markets growing throughout Africa, through a number of means, including high-profile events, such as the Lux Afrique Annual Polo Day.
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Comoros: World Bank Group Pledges $175 Million in Additional Support for Development Programs
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

PARIS, December 3, 2019— The World Bank Group pledged an additional $175 million over the period 2020-2022 to support Comoros’ development through its National Emergent Plan. The announcement was made at the Development Partners Conference for Comoros, held in Paris on December 2 and 3, 2019.
This funding consists of grants and concessional credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s arm that provides grants and low to zero-interest loans to the world’s poorest countries and contributions from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization of the World Bank that provides financing for the private sector in developing countries. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), another member of the World Bank Group, will also support Comoros through the implementation of the National Emergent Plan.

The IDA funds will help strengthen human capital development through better investments in nutrition and social protection programs. They will support the country’s recovery and reconstruction of infrastructure, roads and housing after cyclone Kenneth. The World Bank Group’s support will also help promote private sector and value chains development in agriculture and tourism, boost inter-island connectivity, renewable energy supply, and digital finance while increasing financial inclusion.

IFC will leverage IDA funds and other Development Partners’ programs to scale up private sector financing contribution to the National Emergent Plan and its reform agenda. IFC will focus on improving the investment climate and is ready to invest and provide advisory services following the successful implementation of the required reforms.
Comoros is a country with huge potential and important natural resources. However, two Comorians out of 10 live in extreme poverty and a third of the children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. The human capital index of the Comoros is 0.41, meaning that a child born today in Comoros will have only 41% of the productivity he could have had if he had benefited from an education, comprehensive health care and nutrition.

With this new financing, the World Bank is committed to accompany Comoros in its efforts to achieve an inclusive and sustainable growth. We stand ready to work with other development partners to support the Government and the people of Comoros to address some of the urgent development issues, including enhancing the human capital and promoting better and more connected people”, said Mark Lundell, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros and Seychelles.

IFC looks forward to continuing the collaboration with the Government of Comoros and its development Partners to strengthen the investment climate, including in areas related to property rights and access to credit. These building blocks will enable IFC to mobilize private investment to support food security, financial inclusion and sustainable job creation”, said Ousseynou Nakoulima, IFC Regional Director for Western Europe.

“MIGA is committed to supporting Comoros’ development goals and the government’s program to boost foreign private sector participation in key sectors. MIGA will play a critical role in de-risking private investment by insuring cross-border investors against non-commercial risks in sectors such as telecommunications, energy, and transport”, said Hoda Moustafa, MIGA Regional Head for Africa. 

*World Bank

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Considerations for School Choice at the K-12 Level
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By John Nkemnji, Ph.D*

Prof John Nkemnji
Prof John Nkemnji

At the beginning of each school year, parents and guardians enroll their children in a K-12 school: public, private, religious,magnet, chartered, or online school. K-12 schools can be divided into three levels (elementary, middle and high school). Children under the age of 18 are mandated by the state to enroll and complete high school or obtain a GED.  Educational institutions in the USA fall into two general categories: private and public. Private schools are usually for-profit, and public schools are covered by local, state, and federal funds. Regardless of the type of school, each state provides regulations and standards that must be followed. This paper examines why some parents prefer to enroll their children in private institutions (which are typically costly) over neighborhood public schools (which are relatively inexpensive).

It is often assumed that attending private schools leads to better outcomes in comparison to receiving public school education. However, research/available information does not support this claim. Since state assessments are used to measure academic attainment and growth in student proficiency, the curriculum of private schools and public schools are the same. Therefore, any differences in outcomes stem from other variables and not curriculum.

Some reasons why parents may prefer private schools over public schools pertain to school building maintenance, specialized instructional support staff, low student-teacher class size ratio, and religious affiliations. The higher cost of tuition that comes with private schools also entails well-maintained buildings and specialized instructional support staff (e.g. guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, school nurses, language and technology experts). If a classroom has a high student-teacher ratio, it results in students receiving less personal attention from teachers. Large class sizes may also present discipline problems and make it difficult to control problems like bullying. The ideal class size for the primary to high school age population is 20 students or less.

Most immigrant parents (especially from developing countries) do everything in their power to give their children a good education in the USA, in an attempt to narrow the achievement gap. Some parents fear that if their children do not go to or succeed in college it may be because of a poor educational foundation. They place a high value on good education and do not want to take chances.

The advantages of enrolling children in public schools are location, cost, and keeping children in a familiar environment. Neighborhood public schools are in closer proximity to a family’s home and result in a shorter commute time to get to school. Given the public schools are funded by the government, the financial burden on parents is minimal. The amount of money that can be saved by choosing public schools may result in parents having the ability to spend more time with their children at home. It is essential to balance the time spent at work with time spent with your child/children at home. Assistance at home with school related activities like reading and writing and quality time with parents and family eliminates the hefty school expenditure in private schools. Children’s academic results are determined by the expectations set by themselves, their parents, and the schools. Children have a better opportunity to achieve their goals if parents are active participants in their lives, school assignments, and their welfare.

Additionally, the student demographics in a neighborhood school will reflect the demographics that students are exposed to within their community. This lessens the chance of being put in an unfamiliar environment and potentially having difficulty integrating into the new environment.

Some schools have a history of crimes related to the use of alcohol, illicit drugs and firearms. Parents strive to avoid such school. One disadvantage that may be associated with public schools is that not all public schools offer specialized programs. Parents may wish to have their children in STEM programs, bilingual emersion programs or other programs like gifted and talented, special education, band, choir, sports, after-school activities, and others.

As discussed, it is not the type of school that determines/dictates better outcomes. All things being equal, there is no significant achievement discrepancy for students in private schools over those who attend public schools. Rather, low student-teacher ratios, available school resources, parental support/involvement, socioeconomic/racial background, and school environments that cater to the needs of the students are the determining factors that impact a student’s performance in school. Schools not only prepare students academically, but the content they learn and how they learn help prepare them for life.

Proper afterschool followup of homework and social activities should be provided by parents and adults whether the children attend public schools or private schools.  Children should be monitored and not allowed to use electronic toys, tablets, or computers endlessly.  These tools cannot substitute parental or adult supervision. The extra time spent at work (sometimes on two jobs) to raise funds to support an expensive private education could be more useful if such time and effort were spent with the children on after-school educational tasks. It is only for very specialized academic programs that an expensive school choice makes sense. Such a choice will ensure that the school embodies a culturally responsive, inclusive, sound physical, emotional, and social safety of the students. Demographics, class size, teacher preparation, discipline and location, and safety, play a role in school choice. Most schools are accredited and held accountable by the accrediting agency (private or public) for effective learning. This paper does not extend its conclusions to school choice issues beyond the K-12 cycle (college education issues). School choice for a college career requires a different type of analysis, especially given the fact that financial disparity is not usually much.

*John Nkemnji is Professor Emeritus, Educational Technology. He has family both in public and private K-12 schools.

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UN Rights Expert warns Zimbabwe is on the Brink of Man-Made Starvation
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food has warned that Zimbabwe is on the brink of man-made starvation. In her report, Hilal Elver said that 60 percent of the Zimbabwean population was now food insecure.

The UN special rapporteur visited Zimbabwe on an 11-day fact-finding mission. The mission took Hilal Elver and her team to several parts of the country worst hit by the El Nino induced drought. Elver’s assessment concluded that about 5.5 million rural Zimbabweans and a further 2.2 million people based in the urban areas face food insecurity.

“The people of Zimbabwe are slowly getting to a point of suffering man-made starvation…More than 60 percent of the population of a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa is now considered food insecure, with most households unable to obtain enough food to meet basic needs due to hyperinflation,” Elver said.

The UN envoy went on to state that “These are shocking figures and the crisis continues to worsen due to poverty and high unemployment, widespread corruption, severe price instabilities, lack of purchasing power, poor agricultural productivity, natural disasters, recurrent droughts and unilateral economic sanctions.” Elver did acknowledge that hyperinflation and the poor rains experienced in the 2018-19 agricultural season have exacerbated the food crisis.

With the situation untenable, Elver expressed concern that the food crisis will inevitably lead to an escalation in political stability. “A government official I met in Harare told me ‘Food Security is national security.’ Never has this been truer than today’s Zimbabwe. As food insecurity and land management increase the risks of civil unrest, I urgently call on the government, all political parties and the international community to come together to put an end to this spiralling crisis before it morphs into a full-blown conflict.”

In her address, Elver said that women, children and infants were the biggest victims of the food crisis. “ I saw the ravaging effects of malnutrition on infants deprived of breastfeeding because of their own mother’s lack of access to adequate food.” She went on to state that, “Chronic malnutrition and stunting is endemic throughout the country, where 90 percent of children aged six to 24 months consume the minimal diet to survive. The vast majority of children I met in the rural parts of Masvingo and in Mwenezi, as well as in informal settings in the suburbs of Harare, appeared severely stunted and underweight due to reduced food availability caused by high levels of poverty and the consequence of the recurrent drought and floods.”

The food crisis also leads women to degrade themselves in the quest to source for food for themselves and their children. “In a desperate effort to find alternative means of livelihood, some women and children are resorting to coping mechanisms that violate their most fundamental human rights and freedoms. As a result, school dropouts, early marriage, domestic violence, prostitution and sexual exploitation are on the rise throughout Zimbabwe.”

As recommendations, Elver called on the government to take steps to reduce the country’s dependence on imported food, particularly maize, and to support alternative kinds of wheat to diversify the diet. “ I call on the government to live up to its zero-hunger commitment without any discrimination.”  She also stated that “steps could be taken at the national level to respect, protect and fulfil the government’s human rights obligations, and internationally, by putting an end to all economic sanctions.”  

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New Next Einstein Forum Ambassadors to drive shift in perceptions about science and technology in Africa
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments
NEF Ambassadors 2019-2021
NEF Ambassadors 2019-2021

KIGALI, Rwanda, December 2nd, 2019,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Today, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) announces its new class of Ambassadors, the third cohort of young science and technology champions from across Africa. Ambassadors, one from each African country, will drive public engagement activities to promote science and technology education, research and innovation in their countries.

Dr. Youssef Travaly, NEF Vice-President of Science, Innovation and Partnerships said: “This selection comes at a time when we are working to accelerate science diplomacy and collaboration to solve Africa’s and the world’s grand challenges. This new cohort is already working to advance the frontiers of science and technology to solve societal problems through research and outreach. Leveraging their momentum and the wider NEF community of scientists, we hope to influence a clear policy and public opinion shift, spurring action and investment. Congratulations to all ambassadors.”

NEF Ambassadors are selected through a rigorous process that includes review of academic achievements, entrepreneurial abilities and track record of public engagement efforts. Ambassadors also have to demonstrate a passion for grassroots scientific initiatives in their countries and inspiring the next generation of scientists.

“Our ambition is to multiply the number of role models by building a strong community of scientists who are active in their communities. This will help improve coordination and accelerate impact. Ambassadors, in particular, help advance the NEF’s objective to make science and technology a central part of regional and local development through the organization of Africa Science Week’s in their countries. We look forward to working with each of them,” said Nathalie Munyampenda, NEF Managing Director.

NEF Ambassadors will represent their country at the NEF’s premier science and innovation gathering on 10-13 March in Nairobi, Kenya. They will get to interact with other members of the community as well as network with leading scientists and business leaders.

In this cohort, the NEF has selected Ambassadors in 45 countries. The NEF is accepting applications for Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Namibia, Central African Republic, Burundi, Libya and Mozambique. Interested applicants can download the application at www.nef.org/ambassadors. Learn more about the NEF Global Gathering 2020 at https://gg2020.nef.org/.

Meet the 2019-2021 NEF Ambassadors

Fadoul Hissein Abba (Chad) combines electrical engineering and entrepreneurship. Currently the manager of WenakLabs, he founded HiraTech-a startup of tele-irrigation, that enables farmers to remotely control irrigation systems at their farms.

Omar Ibn Abdillah (Comoros) is the founder & CEO of OIA Group. He was selected as a 2019 Obama Leader, and is deputy president of Ideas for Action Africa. He is a Techstars Startup facilitator and head coach at 100startups.

Sophia Yusuf Abeid (Tanzania) is an Electronics and Telecoms Engineer. She co-founded Blueprint Innovations, and is known for her award-winning File Tracking System. She was the youngest awardee recognized at NEF Africa Week 2018 in Tanzania.

Manara Asad Begira Arbab (Sudan) graduated from the University of Khartoum’s Faculty of Science in the Department of Zoology. She became the first Youth Advocate at UNICEF Sudan, while playing an active role in organizing NEF Africa Science Week for the Sudan.

Mohamed-Lamine Bamba (Cote d’Ivoire) is Head Teacher at Happy Coders Academy, a school that teaches children Coding, 3D design and Robotics. He has worked as a web developer and managing director of Digit’Com.

Abdoulaye Oury Barry (Guinea) returned to the Guinea after a doctorate in France and a postdoc in Belgium, to set up a first-of-its-kind research laboratory at the University of Conakry, his alma mater. He is the founding president of TechnoTransGuinée.

Sakina Benabdelkader (Algeria) is a biologist and project leader. She was honored as “The Woman Entrepreneur 2017” and “The Best Idea 2016” in Algerian contests. She has served as ambassador for foundations that promote youth and women in sciences.

Salma Bougarrani (Morocco) holds a PhD in Environment and Water Treatment from the Faculty of Sciences at Mohammed V University in Rabat. A recipient of Excellence in Research Awards, she has managed “Women in Water Field” project at Peking and is co-founder of Green WATECH.

Baltazar Cá (Guinea Bissau) is a Researcher at the National Institute for Public Health in Guinea-Bissau, presently coordinating MAF-TB project fieldwork. He is tracking the genetic diversity of circulating Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex in Guinea Bissau.

Yusuf Chimole (Malawi) started receiving international awards from the age of 16. The founder of Lync Systems and vice president of Robotics Foundation Limited, he is chief designer of Malawi Pavilion for Dubai Expo 2020 and World Expo 2025.

Chioma Chukwu (Nigeria), a software developer, is the Founder of STEMteers, in partnership with the Ministry of Education in Nigeria, which has launched STEM clubs in over 21 schools reaching about 500 students, of which 50 percent are female students.

Mamadou Tourad Diallo (Mauritania) who holds a PhD in Computer Science and Telecommunications is currently working in Mauritania as a lecturer at the University of Nouakchott – Al Asriya. He is passionate about artificial intelligence, smart grids and IoT.

Sicelo Dube (Zimbabwe) advocates for STEM education as senior lab technician at Hellenic Academy. He is also founder of LEC Biotec, co-founder of Elevante Trust and president of the Zimbabwe Science Laboratory Technicians Trust.

Shymaa Enany (Egypt) is an associate professor of Microbiology at Suez Canal University, Egypt. An award winner, she was the first Arab scientist to apply bacterial proteomic techniques to help reveal good markers for bacteria spreading in community.

Anyse Sofia Fernandes-Pereira (Cabo Verde), a PhD student, is investigating the medicinal power of plants to demonstrate the scientific validity of plant-based traditional medicine use. She hopes to forge a link between traditional and scientific knowledge.

Ousia A. Foli-Bebe (Togo) founded EcoTecLab to foster youth innovation and STEM education. He co-designed and built MoLab, a mobile STEM lab that facilitates STEM workshops across schools and villages in Togo.

Ines Gasmi (Tunisia) holds a PhD in Agricultural Sciences with specialization in desertification, environment and climate change. Her work centers on finding solutions to Tunisia’s water shortage and climate change direct impact.

Oliver Jolezya Hasimuna (Zambia) is an Aquaculturist in Zambia’s Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock. He offers consultancy and training services in aquaculture and fisheries, in addition to outreach service and youth mentorship in STEM.

Eric Gabriel Jenn (Liberia) works to improve road construction in Liberia. As a transport and geotechnical engineer and an infrastructure policy specialist, he is among the 150 Fellows from over 100 countries collaborating with the EU Joint Research Center in Italy.

Annick Laurence Koussoube (Burkina Faso) holds a Master’s degree in Communications from the African Institute of Management (IAM) in Ouagadougou. She is Communications Specialist at Pananetugri Initiative for the Wellbeing of the Woman.

Ntiea Ephraim Letsapo (Lesotho) is a water and water environment scientist working at the Department of Water Affairs of Lesotho as Head of Water Law Section. He is involved in various phases of water resources development projects.

Devina Lobine (Mauritius) is currently a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Mauritius. She is investigating Mauritian medicinal plants to manage Alzheimer’s disease, and is actively engaged in promoting STEM and bio-innovation among the youth.

Mario Lopes (Sao Tome & Principe) is co-founder of Tela Digital Media Group and editor of STP Digital. He is a board member and policy advisor in the National Youth Council of Sao Tome and Principe and vice-president of the NGO Galo Canta.

Philippa Ngaju Makobore (Uganda) is an award-winning innovator who designs medical devices appropriate and affordable for low resource contexts. She is the Department Head of the Instrumentation Division at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute.

Elie Mandela (Rwanda) holds a Bachelor of Sciences with Honors in Pharmacy from the University of Rwanda. Currently he serves an Associate Program Analyst at Mastercard Foundation in charge of Youth Engagement, he supported Johnson and Johnson Global Public Health to establish a mental health research in Rwanda and is the founding director of Hult Prize Rwanda.

Alda Manuel (Angola) works as an Electrical Engineer at Anglobal, an Angolan energy and telecommunications company. Her goal is to empower girls in STEM and bridge the gender gap in Angola.

Paulcy Des Merveilles Mboungou (Congo Brazzaville) is the co-founder & CTO of MALAMU Inc, a service that seeks to provide more efficient health care delivery system. Previously at ThoughWorks where he gained experience delivering software using Agile, he is the co-founder of Knowledge Sharing Campaign.

Dikabo Mogopodi (Botswana) holds a PhD in Analytical Chemistry. She has recently joined The University of Botswana where she works as a Lecturer in Analytical Chemistry. A blogger and author, she is involved in intellectual property advocacy in science and technology.

Sebay J.B. Momoh (Sierra Leone) is a petroleum engineer and holds an MSc (with distinction) in Petro and Environmental Technology from Coventry University, England. A STEM enthusiast, she works at Sierra Leone’s Petroleum Directorate.

Gladys Mosomtai (Kenya) is a passionate mentor of girls in STEM and user of earth observation technologies. A PhD Fellow in Kenya and at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, she is a recipient in 2018 of L’Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowship.

Talla Ndiaye (Senegal) is involved in extending Senegal’s use of Data Intelligence, currently working as Big Data engineer at Orange-Sonatel in Dakar. He coordinates and/or contributes to Open Algorithms, Flux Vision, Data4Development, Senagro and Walùjiggen.

Abdou Idris Omar (Djibouti) is a doctoral candidate on Construction and Climatic Energy at the University of Djibouti and Claude-Bernard University in Lyon. He is helping communities to advance off-grid solar power plans to light up Djibouti.

Justina Adwoa Onumah (Ghana) is a Senior Research Scientist at the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the CSIR-Ghana. A PhD Fellow at the University of Ghana, she is working to foster a stronger research-policy-industry nexus in Ghana.

Moussa Hasan Ousseini (Niger) is pursuing a doctorate in SVT at Abdou Moumouni University, holding degrees in Zoology and Applied Physiology. A poultry nerd, he won best prize at the 2018 Africa Science Week’s “Your thesis in 3 minutes” contest in Niger.

Beranger Constantin Nsa Oyono (Gabon) is an information systems design engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics. The Head of Research and Development in a government agency, he assists the Gabonese government with promoting STEM in young people.

Beryl Birgitta Payet (Seychelles) is a Communications and Electronics Engineer with the Department of Information Communications Technology (DICT) in Seychelles. She is a member of SYAH-Seychelles and Global Shapers-Victoria Hub; two Seychelles Youth-led Non-Government Organizations undertaking life-changing community projects in Seychelles. She is an advocate for STEM education and passionate about the empowerment of women and girls. She is one of Seychelles’ Mandela Washington Fellow for 2019.

Randrianavelo Tsiry Nantenaina Rakotondratovo (Madagascar) works as project manager at Institut Pasteur of Madagascar, he is involved in youth development and civic engagement in STEM through his organization “Move up Madagascar”.

Jeshika Ramchund (South Africa) is an award-winning scientist and lead engineer at Bosch Projects (Pty) Ltd, South Africa. She has been celebrated by Mail and Guardian in 2018 and named South African’s Young Engineer of the Year 2019.

Hassan Sillah (Gambia) at 11th grade represented his country in the 21st Edition of the Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad. He is an IT Manager at the SBEC International School, the president of the Robotics Hub Gambia, and co-founder of Sakina software startup.

Lwandle Simelane (Eswatini), is a senior science officer in the Department of Research, Science, Technology and Innovation of Eswatini. She is currently responsible for the portfolio of international collaborations, resource mobilization and ethics.

Fadimatou Noutchemo Simo (Cameroon) is the founder and president of Young African Aviation Professional Association and CEO of HEFA Group, her aviation consultancy firm. She won the IATA High Flyer Award 2019 and the Commonwealth Point of Light.

Andebet Gedamu Tamirat (Ethiopia) is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Kotebe Metropolitan University, Ethiopia. He is conducting research in the area of next-generation rechargeable battery, and is in charge of technology transfer at KMU.

Vidjinnangni Grégory Thoto (Benin) advises business leaders and supports start-ups/SMEs in their digital communication strategy. He is the managing director of Guerra Tech Hub, that trains young graduates in novel skills of digital technology.

Mohammed Traore (Mali) was selected as an early stage researcher in the ForSEAdiscovery project, under which he did a PhD in Spain. Passionate for all things science, he is currently Assistant Professor at the National Engineering School of Bamako.

Josephine Ndeze Uwase (DRC) was crowned Miss Geek Africa 2019, thanks to her project aiming to reduce maternal mortality rate in rural Congo using cell-phone technologies. She is a student in computer science in Goma, DRC.

Read their full profiles here.


About the Next Einstein Forum
Launched in 2013 by the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), the Next Einstein Forum’s (NEF) work is shaped by our belief that the next Einstein will be African. The NEF is working to make NEF a global hub for science implementing programs that connect science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally. The NEF believes that Africa’s contributions to the global scientific community are critical for global progress. At the centre of our efforts at NEF, is Africa’s young people, the driving force for Africa’s scientific renaissance.

The NEF organized biennial global gatherings, Africa’s largest science and innovation conference. Far from an ordinary science forum, the NEF Global Gatherings position science at the centre of global development efforts. In the presence of political and industry leaders, and with a strong focus on youth and women, the voices of global science leaders’ have the opportunity to be heard and to have major impact on Africa’s scientific future. The NEF Global Gathering 2020 will be held on 10-13 March 2020 in Nairobi, Kenya.

In addition, the NEF organizes an Africa Science Week in over 30 countries each year. This year’s edition will be held in 40 countries in October 2019. To make science relevant for everyone, the NEF publishes a public magazine Scientific African Magazine.
* Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the Next Einstein Forum.
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African universities, Mastercard Foundation chart ways of improving higher education
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo

University community deliberate on improving higher education during the Mastercard Foundation's workshop in Kigali last week. Photo courtesy.
University community deliberate on improving higher education during the Mastercard Foundation’s workshop in Kigali last week. Photo courtesy.

At least 13 universities’ leaders from across Africa have come together to find ways of strengthening higher education for economic transformation and youth employment on the continent.

At the three-day workshop held in Kigali, Rwanda, last week, the academicia and politicians committed to scaling up innovations at universities, increase the mixture of technical and general education courses to ensure that graduates are prepared to meet the labour market’s needs and improve universities’ management, among other drivers of quality education.

Opening the workshop on Tuesday, Rwanda’s Minister of Education, Dr Eugène Mutimura, called on universities’ leaders to embrace the incessant changes of a disruptive era the continent has stepped in.

“We, in African countries, have already started to change. Therefore, it clearly indicates that we should consider repackaging our programmes to deliver programmes that create the future leaders of Africa and ensure that we help them optimise the opportunities presented to them,” he said.

Minister Mutimura also encouraged universities across the continent to broaden partnerships among themselves, with others beyond the continent and with private sector.

Mastercard Foundation’s Chief Programme Officer, Peter Materu, said the foundation targets to offer 15,000 university scholarships by 2030 to disadvantaged young but talented Africans including refugees who will take up 25% of the scholarships. In order to bridge the gender gap in higher education, Mr Materu said female young people will take 70% of the scholarships.

Through its Scholars programme, the foundation has so far offered 36,000 scholarships across Africa including 25,000 for secondary schools and 11,000 for tertiary education.

Materu said that Mastercard Foundation considers adding seven African universities in addition to the current 10 on the list of 24 Scholars Programme’s partner universities across the world. The ten include Nkwame Nkrumah University and Ashesi University in Ghana, Makerere University in Uganda, Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences based in Rwanda Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, University of Gondor in Ethiopia and University of Cape Town in South Africa, among others.

Mr Materu encouraged other African universities to apply for the partnership with Mastercard Foundation but reminded that they have to check well with their programmes, quality of education and facilities if they are to succeed in securing the partnership.

The University of Rwanda’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of institutional advancement, Dr Charles Muligande, said the university considers applying for Scholars Programme’s partnership and expressed confidence in securing it.

“We need to review our programmes. Some of the programmes were developed at a time when there wasn’t enough resources to do a comprehensive skills assessment, identify the skills gap and map out skills profiles that are needed. Therefore, we ended up developing programmes that are producing graduates who do not meet what the market needs,” he said. Dr Muligande added that UR also considers training the lecturers continuously to update them on the current changes of the job market.

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Alert: new cyclone may affect Mozambique
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Arnaldo Cuamba

A new cyclone in formation in the Indian Ocean may affect Mozambique in the coming days, warns the National Institute of Meteorology that says there is uncertainty about its trajectory, but is more likely to affect the southern Africa country.

“A system of low atmospheric pressure is being formed in the Indian Ocean, north of Madagascar” warns the institution that adds that “according to the current atmospheric conditions, the possibility prevails that the same system may evolve and reach the level of Moderate or severe Tropical Storm”.

There is uncertainty about the fate of the storm, however, according to INAM, there is great potential for its trajectory to make the movement towards the Channel of Mozambique, where it could reach the continent on December 4.

Following the alert, the Mozambican President, Filipe Nyusi, urges the communities to protect themselves from bad weather.

“I invite all Mozambicans to pay attention and take precautions due the reported formation of a low pressure system” said Nyusi. “It is expected to evolve from 1 December to a tropical storm stage. There is a possibility of rainfall, thunderstorms and strong winds, especially in the provinces of northern Mozambique,” explained the President of the Republic.

If effective, the cyclone will be called Ambali – the first to form in cyclonic season 2019 – 2020.

This year Mozambique registered two cyclones whose effects are still strongly felt. Cyclone Idai, which hit central Mozambique in March, destroyed infrastructure and caused 604 deaths, affecting about 1.5 million people in the centre of the country, while Cyclone Kenneth, which hit the north in April, killed 45 people and affected 250 thousand.

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