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Malawi’s New President Pledges Support To Mozambique In Fight Against Terrorist Attacks
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos

Malawi’s new President, Lazarus Chakwera, condemned the armed attacks in Northern Mozambique

Malawi’s new President, Lazarus Chakwera has condemned the armed attacks in northern Mozambique and expressed his willingness to help bring peace to the country, according to a statement from the Mozambican Presidency.

Lazarus Chakwera repudiated the violence in the north, during a telephone conversation with his Mozambican counterpart, Filipe Nyusi, indicated the note published on Monday night.

The two heads of state expressed their desire to focus attention on cooperation in defence and security with a view to combating armed violence in Cabo Delgado province, which has already caused the deaths of over 1,000 people.

On 27 June five terrorists killed eight people in an ambush against a vehicle of the company Fenix Construction Services that is working in Palma district where the complex to liquefy natural gas in being built on the Afungi Peninsula.

According to a press release from the company, the ambush took place about four kilometres north of the town of Mocimboa da Praia. Of the 14 people on board the vehicle, eight lost their lives, three managed to escape unharmed, and three are missing.

The survivors said that the attackers wore military uniforms similar to those of the Mozambican armed forces. They blocked the vehicle and then opened fire, killing the driver instantly. As the vehicle came to a halt, the three known survivors managed to scramble out and fled into the bush.

One of them walked through the bush to the village of Quelimane, where he spent the night. The following day he got a lift from a motorbike and returned to Palma on 28 June.

The other two survivors remained hidden in the bush for several more days. One returned to Palma on 1 July, and the other on 2 July.

A private security company hired by Fenix recovered the bodies of the eight murdered men, who were buried in Palma on 3 July.

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Malawi farmers record huge harvest from genetically modified cotton
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Suzgo Chitete

A cotton farmer from Malawi shows off his bumper harvest from Bt cotton - Photo by Suzgo Chitete
A cotton farmer from Malawi shows off his bumper harvest from Bt cotton – Photo by Suzgo Chitete

After years of research and scientific approvals, the Malawi government in November last year released genetically modified cotton seeds for commercial cultivation.

The farmers who planted Bt cotton for the first time in the last growing season took a gamble to depart from tradition.

France Thole, a cotton farmer in Chikwawa, Southern Malawi, was among the few farmers who were part of the field trials of the new cotton varieties, which have performed wonders elsewhere.

Through the trials, farmers had a feel of the new technology and were convinced this could be the way to go. But it was a real gamble, according to Thole.

“There was lot of negativity from community members when we told them we wanted to try Bt cotton. In as much as we were convinced that the new cotton variety was better than the traditional seeds, we were still not sure if we would be successful,” says Thole, 60, who has been growing cotton for almost half his age.

 “I can tell you the quality of the new variety is impressive; one plant gives you up to 150 bolls when the local variety would give 40-50 bolls. The cotton is thick and good looking.”  

Bt cotton seed has been genetically engineered to make the crop resistant to bollworm. Scientists say this resistance significantly reduces the cost of production as one does not need pesticides now and again.

“If you follow instructions properly you gain more with this new variety. You can produce up to 3,000  bags per hectare while the old variety would you give you 1,000 -1,500 and yet it is also labour intensive because it requires frequent spraying of pesticides,” says Allan Tchalison, another farmer in the Lowershire zone.

Apart from his modern, fully electrified house, some herds of cattle, chickens and goats, Tchalison sponsors his grandchildren’s education. His son’s daughter is in second year pursuing an engineering course at University of Malawi’s Polytechnic. Others are in secondary schools.

Tchalison vouches for Bt cotton as the best so far, but pleads for improved extension work. He says at this stage farmers need close supervision because of their unfamiliarity with the new technology, which he believes is a game changer if well handled.

Another cotton farmer, Mwayi Joseph Chirwa, a primary school teacher in Salima, Central of Malawi, 120 kilometres from the Capital Lilongwe, attests to the scientific claim that Bt cotton significantly reduces the cost of production and has high yield. She estimates that from her piece of land she has been able to harvest double the usual yield.

“I followed instructions throughout, based on leaflets that I was given and also the advice from the extension workers but I could have missed a step or two…because it is new. I think if one follows the guidelines to the letter they can get more than double,” said Chirwa.

Malawi is among new entrants in a growing list of countries that have commercialised cotton in Africa which include South Africa, Ethiopia and Sudan are other examples. Kenya is yet to get its first harvest and so is Nigeria though they have commercialized the crop too. According to the Seed Trade Association of Malawi, 20,000 Malawian farmers planted the Bt cotton seed last season which just ended last month. 

Cotton is one of the strategic crops in the national export strategy and if well managed, the genetically modified variety can significantly improve production, which has dropped at an alarming rate due to lack of investment.

With an allocation of K1.6 billion (USD2.2 million) in the 2011/12 financial year, Malawi was able to produce a record 100,000 metric tonnes that year. Over the years,  this figure has drastically dropped;  the Cotton Council of Malawi estimates that on average  the country is now producing  about 15,000 MT per year, which rakes in K10 billion (USD13.5 million) against a ginning capacity of 600,000 metric tonnes. With the adoption of the new technology in Malawi, it is estimated that the country will soon produce nearly 40,000 MT.

According the Chairman of STAM, Mr John Lungu, stakeholders are now putting their heads together to ensure that market for the bumper harvest is secured to ensure that farmers benefit wholly from their sweat.

“We hope government may consider to subsidise the seeds just to boost cotton farming in Malawi. With this new variety which has shown that it has higher yield, we expect more farmers to come on board and adopt it. So my appeal to government is to liaise with the seed making company to make the seeds available at an affordable price,” pleaded Rodgers Manjawira another farmer from Salima.

The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC), an NGO which has been pushing for an improved cotton in Malawi, equally thinks one way of helping farmers is to have the seeds for Bt cotton subsidized and also strengthen extension work so that farmers have up to date information on Bt cotton.  

AICC Chief Executive Officer, Felix Lombe, said: “We need to improve cotton production because it is a strategic crop for exports. The economy stands to benefit from cotton which has a ready market locally and internationally.”  

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Yutong provides support in the pandemic prevention of public transport in Africa
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments
Recently, China Yutong Bus has donated more than 1.2 million medical masks to African countries.

China Yutong Bus , one of the world’s major bus and coach suppliers, has donated more than 1.2 million medical masks to Ghana, Nigeria, Algeria, Egypt, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Sudan, Angola and other African countries and shared the experience of public transport pandemic prevention in China. At the critical moment when African countries are fighting the pandemic, Yutong’s vigorous assistance has made the African people feel the humanitarian warmth of international assistance.

Many donation reception ceremonies were held in Africa

In mid-June, donation handover ceremonies were held in Ghana Transport Bureau, Police Headquarters and Ministry of Health, respectively, in which Mrs. Mabel Sagoe, Director of Transport of Ghana, and ACP Mr Joseph Owusu-Ansah, Director of Manpower of Police Department, attended.

The Ghanaian Police General Administration liked Yutong on the official Facebook, and local netizens also left messages to express their gratitude. Mabel Sagoe, Minister of Transport of Ghana, sent an appreciation letter, “I am very grateful for Yutong’s act of kindness, which will greatly prevent the spread of the virus.”

On April 25, the donation handover ceremony in the capital of Ethiopia was attended by Engineer Endawk Habte, Deputy Mayor of Yadiz, the capital of Ethiopia, and Sisay Tadele, Director of Asian and African Affairs of the Mayor’s Office. In a speech on Yardis TV, the Mayor said “Thank Yutong for this generous donation and the wonderful travel service it has provided for a long time, and hope that other companies will learn from Yutong”. At the same time, official authorities such as Adis Television, the Office of the Press Secretary of Yardis City and the official Facebook of Ethiopian Radio covered the event.

Long-lasting relations between China and Africa

The friendship between China and Africa has a long history. It is reported that Yutong has also compiled an epidemic prevention manual and added some technical epidemic prevention configuration to public transport products to help African people travel healthily.

Building bridges, contributing to society

Since 2003, Yutong has not only provided high-quality bus products, but also provided vehicle operation management, service and spare parts logistics and other solutions to help improve the level of public transport in African countries. Yutong has established a sound sales and service network in nearly 50 countries in Africa, and provided support for the diversified development of local economies, upgrading of the automobile industry, employment problem solving, thus truly realizing the joint discussion, co-construction and win-win cooperation of “the Belt and Road Initiatives”. So far, Yutong has sold more than 16,000 vehicles in Africa, making it the No.1 Chinese bus brand in Africa. Yutong is not only a means of public transport, but also a symbol of economic development and a better life in Africa.

It is reported that Yutong’s assistance will continue to spread to countries and regions in Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and other regions, benefiting more than 10 million people.

*SOURCE China Yutong Bus
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The pan-African guarantee fund’s first CEO Felix BIKPO will transition to Board Chairman and Deputy CEO Jules NGANKAM appointed as Acting Chief Executive Officer
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments
Jules Ngankam, AGF Group Acting CEO
Mr. NGANKAM joined the Company in 2013 as Chief Finance Officer and was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer by the Board on 20 April 2017.

After a 9-year tenor since the founding of African Guarantee Fund for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (AGF), Group Chief Executive Officer Felix BIKPO decided to retire from his position. Mr. BIKPO was however requested to continue offering his services to the Company in a new capacity as Board Chairman. Pursuant to the recommendation of the shareholders, Felix BIKPO was appointed to serve as Chairman of the Board of Directors as of 01 July 2020.

Reflecting on his tenure, Mr. BIKPO stated “My greatest satisfaction is that the financial sector has come to understand the role of the SMEs in driving economic growth and through our guarantee products have unlocked SME financing and ultimately had great economic and social impact on the continent”.

“The fact that we have been assigned a three-time exceptional AA- rating shows that we understood the gap and created a leader in the guarantee market. I am proud of what I am leaving behind especially for the coming generation” he added.

At the level of the management, the Board also resolved to appoint Mr. Jules NGANKAM, the Deputy Group Chief Executive Officer, as Acting Group Chief Executive Officer of the Company as of 01 July 2020.

Mr. NGANKAM joined the Company in 2013 as Chief Finance Officer and was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer by the Board on 20 April 2017. He has over 15 years of experience in banking and financial services with leading financial institutions.

Prior to joining the Company, Mr. NGANKAM worked for over 8 years at Barclays Capital, the investment banking division of Barclays PLC, in various roles including rates strategist, rates trader and treasury vice-president.

Jules, a Cameroonian national, is a graduate of ENSAE in statistics and economics and of ESSEC Business School in business administration. He also holds a Master’s degree in Applied Mathematics from the University of Paris Dauphine in France.

In his new capacity as Acting CEO, Mr. NGANKAM remarked “I am grateful to be part of AGF’s journey to support financial institutions and help them overcome the challenges they face in serving SMEs. AGF remains committed to continue delivering the best quality service to our partners especially now during this challenging period”.


About African Guarantee Fund:
African Guarantee Fund is a non-bank financial institution whose objective is to promote economic development, increase employment and reduce poverty in Africa by providing financial institutions with guarantee products and capacity development assistance specifically intended to support SMEs in Africa.

African Guarantee Fund was founded by the government of Denmark through the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), the government of Spain through the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation and Development (AECID) and the African Development Bank (AfDB). Other shareholders include: French Development Agency (AFD), Nordic Development Fund (NDF), Investment Fund for Developing Countries (IFU) and KfW Development Bank (KfW).

AGF has a rating of AA- by Fitch Ratings Agency

*SOURCE African Guarantee Fund
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African Energy Chamber Launches New Energy Jobs Portal and Pledges to Boost Local Content
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

The platform will assist local and international companies in attracting local talent across 30 different skills set in the oil & gas, power and renewable energy sectors.

With this new platform, we are getting rid of a lot of entry barriers set on the job market by expensive recruitment agencies , says NJ Ayuk
With this new platform, we are getting rid of a lot of entry barriers set on the job market by expensive recruitment agencies , says NJ Ayuk

In order to maximize the saving of local jobs and assist in the recovery of African energy markets after the Covid-19 crisis, the African Energy Chamber and its partners have launched a free-of-access jobs portal for trained and qualified African workforce. The collaborative platform is accessible at www.EnergyChamber.org/jobs and relays the latest jobs opportunities for Africans across the continent’s energy markets.

The platform will assist local and international companies in attracting local talent across 30 different skills set in the oil & gas, power and renewable energy sectors. All energy companies operating in Africa are able to post their job offers for free, and these will be relayed on the platform and via the Chamber’s communications channels after approval by the Chamber’s admin and team. The jobs portal will be operated and maintained by the African Energy Chamber in order to avoid all fraud and guarantee the credibility of the offers available.

“Local content has always been the number one priority of the African Energy Chamber when advocating for an energy industry that works for Africans and builds truly sustainable business models. With this new platform, we are getting rid of a lot of entry barriers set on the job market by expensive recruitment agencies. This initiative of the Chamber is non lucrative and we encourage all African and international companies to work with us on boosting local jobs creation to support the recovery of our industry and build true sustainability,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

The African Energy Chamber is encouraging all companies in search of African talent across the energy industry to submit their job offers directly online via the platform. Any related requests or queries can be addressed to jobs@energychamber.org.

*Africa Energy Chamber

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African Energy Chamber Hopeful for a Quick Resolution of Disagreements Over Fuel Shortages in Tanzania
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments
The African Energy Chamber is calling for the respect of the rule of law, and asking that they be afforded all due processes as required by Tanzanian law

The African Energy Chamber expresses its concerns over the alleged arrest and detention of three energy executives in Tanzania last week. Total Tanzania’s Managing Director Jean-Francois Schoepp, Puma Supply Manager Adam Eliewinga and Oryx’s representative August Dominick were arrested for questioning and taken into custody while attending a consultative meeting between oil marketers and the Energy and Water Regulatory Authority (Ewura) in Dar es Salaam. 

The African Energy Chamber is calling for the respect of the rule of law, and asking that they be afforded all due processes as required by Tanzanian law. Given how critical these times are the ongoing economic crisis across the continent because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Chamber is hoping for a quick and amicable resolution to such disagreements that are detrimental to Tanzanian citizens.

“We hope that any ongoing disagreement between oil marketers and the Tanzanian government will be quickly resolved so everyone can get back to business and to providing services to Tanzanian consumers. The Chamber has repeatedly applauded Tanzania for its strike in discovering significant gas resources. With the right infrastructure, Tanzania’s natural resources could transform the country into an oasis of energy growth. We do not want to see such isolated incidents affect the attractiveness of the country for foreign investors and ultimately affect the its energy independence and slow down jobs creation,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

The Chamber will remain open to assisting all parties in reaching an amicable solution to ongoing disagreements and calls on all stakeholders to promote a stronger dialogue on ongoing matters of fuel supply across Tanzania. 
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New Digital Festival by the Big 5 to Connect Thousands of Construction Professionals across Africa
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

On July 21-22, the first ever Big 5 Digital Festival Africa aims to rebuild confidence in the African infrastructure and construction community and define the path to the post-Covid recovery

The global pandemic and restrictions over travel and gatherings are posing unprecedented challenges to businesses, and the building and construction industry is no exception. Technology and event organisers’ experience are bridging the physical gap, providing viable solutions to overcome at least some of today’s pressing issues.

On July 21 and 22, The Big 5 Digital Festival Africa , a new online platform powered by The Big 5, the largest portfolio of construction events in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia, will bring together thousands of construction professionals for two days of networking, learning, and business-making in Africa.

The digital event, the first of its kind supporting the infrastructure and construction communities across the continent, aims to build resiliency, boost the industry’s recovery efforts, and help plan ahead for the post-Covid-19 era, connecting businesses and professionals in a safe and convenient way. 

One hundred providers of construction solutions from around the globe will present their latest products across the two days of the event. The goal is to establish new business relationships and reinforce the supply chain’s resiliency in a market, the African one, where infrastructure spent in 2021 is expected to increase by 10.8% YoY, according to ABiQ.

Beyond innovative product demonstrations, The Big 5 Digital Festival Africa will deliver insight, inspiration, and direction through a broad education agenda. With an emphasis on business continuity, infrastructure development and investments, digitalisation, governance, and sustainability, the event’s program provides on-point information and intelligence to industry players already active or interested in entering the African market. Confirmed speakers include Ministerial representatives as well as thought leaders from across Africa and beyond. 

Muhammed Kazi, Vice President at dmg events, the organisers of The Big 5 Digital Festival Africa, says: “We are thrilled to leverage on our 40 years long experience as organisers of construction events to launch a digital platform serving the African and global construction community during these unprecedented times. The Big 5 Digital Festival Africa aims to help infrastructure and construction stakeholders in Africa reconnect again through over 15 hours of quality networking opportunities, join forces, get inspired, and envision novel solutions for the industry’s future.”

Mr. Abdulaziz Nasser Al Khalifa, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Development Bank, states: “Qatar Development Bank (QDB) was established in 1997 as a developmental organization with the primary objective of empowering Qatari entrepreneurs through a wide range of financial, business, incubation, and technical support services, as well as access to local and international markets, while accelerating the growth, development and diversification of the SME ecosystem and the country’s economy. QDB launched the export development agency ‘Tasdeer’ in 2011, to develop and promote non-hydrocarbon exports from Qatar in international markets and service all Qatari exporters. We are participating at BIG5 Digital Festival Africa with 20 Qatari Manufacturing Companies who are targeting the African market as the continent is increasingly seen as the next frontier for economic growth and development.”

Benjamin Gossage, B2B Sales & Marketing Director at Canon Central and North Africa, said: “We are excited to join The Big 5 Digital Festival Africa to effectively and conveniently engage with thousands of industry professionals in Africa, ignite their imagination, boost operational efficiencies, and drive business success thanks to Canon’s creative applications.”

The Big 5 Digital Festival Africa is free to attend and supported by Platinum Sponsors Toolkit, Canon, Decoral System, METALCO Srl, and Qatar Development Bank (QDB), and Gold Sponsors Everest, Gulf Acrylic Industries, Therra Wood, Wonderfloor, MIAKOM, and Shamal Plastic Industries.

*SOURCE The Big 5 Digital Festival Africa

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Agriculture: Glimmer Of Hope As Scientists Battle Lethal Potato Nematodes
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Christine Ochogo

Potato farmers: A nematode that threatens to wipe away the entire crop is causing sleepless nights to researchers. PHOTO/SAMUEL BAYA/NATION
Potato farmers: A nematode that threatens to wipe away the entire crop is causing sleepless nights to researchers. PHOTO/SAMUEL BAYA/NATION

Every season, Margaret Kenzi, a potato farmer in Kenya’s Rift Valley, tirelessly works in her potato farm with hopes of a bumper harvest.

To her dismay, her efforts of three years have hardly yielded as she does not use certified potato seeds. She attributes this sorry state to the high cost of certified seeds, which has driven her to using regenerated seeds every planting season that are prone to attacks by pests and diseases.

“I depend on recycled seeds because certified seeds cost Sh3,000 (U$30) per bag of 50kg which I cannot afford due to the hard economy. And after harvesting we are forced to sell our produce at a throwaway price to middlemen and brokers who invade our farms with ready cash. A 50kg bag of potatoes goes for between Sh1,500 (U$15) and Sh2,000 (U$20) while a 2kg package sells at Sh100 (U$1),” decries Kenzi.

Researchers put it that only maize is grown in more countries than potato, with Africa producing about seven percent of global potato output, mainly in Egypt and South Africa. The crop is popular and valuable for both food security and income generation, competing well with maize in the subtropical climates at higher altitudes.

Under these conditions, year-round production can be possible, often with at least two seasons per annum. In recent years, however, yields have shown notable declining trends, mainly attributed to major disease outbreaks, inappropriate cropping practices by farmers, substandard seed quality and lack of organised market infrastructure for produce.

Emerging markets for processed potatoes (such as chips, crisps, starch) have increasingly focused attention on the crop, with rising demand from the fast food industry and processing for added economic value. Processed potatoes, however, also demand high levels of quality, which can be difficult to sustain in the face of high pest and disease pressures.

In Kenya, according to Farming Success with Potatoes in Kenya, a publication by the International Centre of Potato (CIP), potato is the second most important staple food crop after maize and is valued at nearly $500 million (Sh50 billion) annually.

About 800,000 Kenyans directly benefit from potato production, while across the whole value chain about 2.5 million people receive income from potato. However, in Kenya, yields have declined and currently average 9-10 tonnes per hectare, much below the potential of 20–40 t/ha, and this is reflected across the region.

As if Mother Nature is adding insult to injury, farmers like Ms Kenzi’s woes are not helped by the emergence of new pests and diseases, such as the recently detected potato cyst nematodes (PCNs), Globodera rostochiensis and G. pallida, a key threat to potato production in eastern Africa, according to an article published recently in the Frontiers in Plant Science journal by International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe); International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); North Carolina State University, USA; and Kenyatta University, Kenya.

The occurrence of PCN presents a key threat to potato production in Kenya, as well as to the entire East Africa region where potato features prominently as a food security or income generation crop for millions of smallholder farmers. The good news, states the study in its conclusion, is that it may be possible to manage the nematodes by inducing ‘suicidal hatching’ of the pests using naturally occurring chemicals in crop roots.

Nematodes are tiny microscopic worms, with some soil dwelling species infecting and adversely affecting most, if not all, cultivated crops. Potato cyst nematodes (PCNs) are invasive nematode pests that were first reported in Kenya in 2015, and have since been confirmed from other countries in eastern Africa.

Studies by icipe and partners have shown that these nematodes cause up to 80 per cent yield loss in potatoes.

“The management of the nematodes under study is particularly challenging due to the pest’s ability to survive in the soil as tiny protective cysts. These cysts can contain up to 600 eggs, but are able to remain dormant in the absence of a host plant for up to 20 years. Once they infest a field, it is impossible to eradicate. Therefore, a possible effective approach is to avoid the build-up and spread of the pest,” says Prof Baldwyn Torto, Head of Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit at icipe.

In over 100 countries, this has been achieved by strict quarantine regulations because they are globally considered as the most important pests threatening potato production but are all too often overlooked in less developed countries.

The recent studies by icipe and partners aimed to manage their spread by exploring several known facts about potato cyst nematodes. First, is the fact that potato cyst nematodes eggs hatch only in the presence of suitable host plants such as potato, tomato and African nightshade, which scientists refer to as the Solanaceae family.

Once hatched, the infective juvenile nematodes that emerge from the cyst seek host crop roots to invade and feed upon. The developing female nematodes swell and eventually become a new cyst full of eggs. These eggs hatch only once triggered by chemical signals produced by roots of the host plant. The aim of the research was to identify these signals, and whether they can be exploited to induce hatch of the potato cyst nematodes juveniles in the absence of host crops and thus lead to their eventual death; or rather the ‘suicidal hatch’ of the nematodes.

“We noted that most juvenile PCN that hatched in response to some chemical signals, known as steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs) and steroidal alkaloids (SAs), remained encysted. In other words, they did not leave the cyst to invade crop roots but remained encapsulated in the cyst,” noted a Kenyan scientist, Juliet Ochola, who was involved in the research as part of her MSc studies, based at icipe and registered at Kenyatta University.

Prof Danny Coyne, soil health scientist at IITA, explains that the SGAs and SAs could be used in synthetic forms to stimulate suicidal hatch of PCN in infested fields before farmers plant potatoes.

Alternatively, plants that produce the chemicals but are not usually infected by PCN could be incorporated in a crop rotation system to stimulate PCN hatch, thereby reducing populations of the pest.

“Blends of the compounds obtained from crude material of such plants may be used to treat potato fields as organic soil amendments. This approach would be environmentally attractive and better than using nematicides, which can be hazardous, and due to their dependence on single compounds, are prone to pest resistance,” says Prof Coyne.

The study presents the results of a countrywide survey undertaken to determine the distribution of PCN and the potential damage it is causing in the major potato growing regions of Kenya.

Additionally, the study team examined farmers’ potato production practices and how these will need to be taken into consideration for the implementation of future pest management strategies.

It is hoped that the information provided in the study will serve as a wakeup call that should further help policy makers and regional stakeholders to make informed decisions related to PCN containment and mitigation.

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Africa Energy Forum (aef) hosts digital networking platform for energy community
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

Following the postponement of aef to October 2020, organisers hosted the digital content and networking platform ‘aef2.0’ for Africa’s energy community over the previous dates of the Forum, between 30th June – 3rd July.

Under the theme ‘Investment & Impact: Out of Response and Into Recovery,’ aef2.0 examined the effect of Covid-19 on Africa’s energy sector, responses happening across the value chain and predictions for the long-term impact on investment and project development. 

Over 2000 attendees joined a series of digital panel discussions and debates featuring key stakeholders such as Power Africa, Aggreko, IFC, The African Development Bank, IEA, Siemens, Wärtsilä, Nedbank, Actis, Absa, DFC, SEforAll, and more.

4,559 messages were exchanged on the platform which allowed participants to schedule private one-to-one video meeting meetings throughout the week, with 562 meetings requested.

Panel discussions covered key topics such as how best to build resilience in live energy projects, the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) by 2030 and the impact on energy end users such as healthcare and agriculture. Country spotlight sessions also examined the unique impact of the pandemic on energy developments in Ghana, Kenya and Morocco. The event was designed to maintain momentum both in knowledge sharing and business development, as well as to provide deeper clarity on the direction of the sector

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Namibia buckles under coronavirus crisis
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Andreas Thomas

President Hage Geingob
President Hage Geingob

Windhoek – President Hage Geingob has called on Namibians to “brace themselves for bad times” ahead following recent spikes in the infections of the coronavirus in the country.

While addressing the media in the capital, Geingob expressed that the coronavirus pandemic might not be defeated within a year.

He described the pandemic as new normal that “we must get used to this”.

Namibia is edging closer to becoming one of the worst affected nations in the southern African region by the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has recorded 303 new cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days.

The recent spikes in new infections have raised fears that the worst is yet to come.

As of Monday, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 485.

And the harbour town of Walvis Bay in the west-central along the Atlantic coast in Erongo region has become the epicentre of the pandemic.

Of the total number of cases recorded so far, 436 are from the Erongo region, with 391 specifically recorded in Walvis Bay.

On Monday morning, health authorities confirmed 73 new cases of infection, of which 72 are from Walvis and one from the Khomas region.

The town is home to the country’s biggest port and an important centre of the fishing industry.

To prevent the further spread of the pandemic, President Geingob announced additional restriction measures for the coastal towns of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis.

They were placed under a special dispensation during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

While the rest of the country has progressed to Stage 4 of the lockdown, the three towns will remain in Stage 3 of state of emergency with stringent travelling measures.

“We are fully aware that restrictions on the movement of people and the lockdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have had an adverse effect on our economy.

However, Namibia’s incidence curve for COVID-19 cases have risen sharply in recent weeks. Flattening this sharp rise, will now more than ever, require the Government to remain firm and responsive to the changing realities on the ground” said the head of state.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said the movement of people in and out of the affected areas is prohibited except essential services. Shangula said the three coastal towns will be on lockdown until August 23, 2020.

The health minister stressed that travel is not permitted and will be restricted only to the supply of essential and critical supply of goods and services as defined in the State of emergency regulations.

He added that all persons leaving and entering the restricted local authority areas will be recorded in a registry at the entry and exit points.

The public gathering is still restricted to 10 people. Schools in the affected areas will also remain closed. Namibia has so far recorded 25 recoveries with no COVID-19 related fatality.

Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi revealed that Namibia is losing around N$2 billion weekly due to expansive measures necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. He said the government is faced with the delicate act of saving lives and allowing certain economic activities to livelihoods.

The government is working with the tourism and hospitality industry on tourism revival initiative to open the borders to a limited number of foreign tourists.

“Work to finalize preparations for the announced tourism revival Initiative is ongoing, further modalities will be communicated. We want to be meticulous in the execution of this initiative, so as to safeguard our public health gains in the other regions of the country and deliver on our intended objective of reviving the Tourism and Hospitality sectors,” President Geingob aid.

The tourism sector that employs over 100 000 people are one of the worst affected economic sectors by the coronavirus crisis.

Namibia plans to open its borders during Stage 5 at the end of August 2020.

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Nigerian Passport ‘Stable’ in Post-Pandemic World
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments
Photo credit Daily Advent

As parts of the globe cautiously begin to open up, the focus is on what travel freedom and global mobility will look like in a post–Covid-19 world. Moving into the 3rd quarter of 2020, Nigeria retains its 97th position on the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — with visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 46 destinations. The seemingly unaffected status of Nigeria’s passport power against the acute public health impact of the coronavirus and the movement restrictions could take a  turn  for the worst if the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s estimate of 122 million infections in the continent becomes a reality.

Independent consultant to international news outlets, publications and think-tanks, and a Director at Signal Risk, Ryan Cummings, says in addition to the acute public health impact of the pandemic, coronavirus has caused adverse economic externalities for Africa arising from both the decrease in global demand for commodity exports — notably oil and raw minerals — and movement restrictions imposed to contain the outbreak. Of these measures, among the most economically damaging has been the imposition of border and airspace closures to passenger traffic. Nigeria is the third most affected country on the continent behind South Africa and Egypt. Lagos is, however, beginning to ease restrictions to reopen the economy, with domestic flights due to commence on 8 July 2020.

Head of Nigeria at Henley & Partners, Stuart Wakeling, says that although it is too early to tell the full impact of the coronavirus on the Nigerian economy and the country’s global mobility, there are Nigerian passport holders who prefer to have certainty over their travel freedom and future global mobility. “With the ease in restrictions, we are beginning to see more people paying careful attention to their own global mobility and evaluating their options for travel freedom and residence. They are considering destinations which have effectively handled the coronavirus outbreak, and especially those which are declared virus-free.”

Last week the EU released a list of countries that would be allowed entry into the bloc from 1 July based on health and safety criteria. Included were Australia, Canada, Japan, and South Korea that traditionally score highly on the Henley Passport Index.  However, in a move perceived as a stinging rebuke for its poor handling of the pandemic, the US was notably excluded from the welcome list, as were Brazil and Russia.

Although not reflected in the latest ranking, which does not take temporary travel bans into account, it is eye-opening to consider what travel freedom currently looks like for the holders of once-prestigious passports. For instance, before Covid-19 the US passport usually ranked within the top 10 on the Henley Passport Index in 6th or 7th place, with its citizens able to access 185 destinations around the world without requiring a visa in advance. However, under the current EU ban, the picture looks starkly different. US nationals now have roughly the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Uruguay (included on the EU’s list of welcome countries), which ranks 28th on the index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 153. In another striking inversion, the US’s dramatic decline in passport power means that Americans find themselves with a similar level of travel freedom usually available to citizens of Mexico (25th on the index, with a score of 159), current travel bans notwithstanding, albeit temporarily.

This is one of many extraordinary shifts in passport power caused by the temporary pandemic-related bans. Brazilian passport holders, for example, find their passport strength greatly diminished. The country usually ranks highly on the index ¾ most recently placed 19th, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 170 ¾ but the loss of access to the EU means Brazilians currently have roughly the same extent of travel freedom as citizens of Paraguay (36th on the index, with a score of 142).

Without taking the various travel bans and restrictions into account, Japan continues to hold the number one spot on the Henley Passport Index with a score of 191. Singapore remains in 2nd place with a score of 190, while Germany and South Korea are in joint-3rd place, each with a score of 189. Both Japan and South Korea have been included on the EU’s list of ‘safe’ countries, while Singapore has been excluded, which means Singaporean passport holders currently have far less travel freedom than their closest competitors on the index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of investment migration firm Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says the EU’s recent decision will have far reaching effects. “As we have already seen, the pandemic’s impact on travel freedom has been more drastic and long lasting than initially anticipated. This latest decision by the EU indicates that there is more upheaval to come. Look at the US passport, for example ¾ in 2014, it held the number one spot in the world on our index, but US nationals currently have far less travel freedom than most citizens of other wealthy, industrialized nations and even of some less developed nations, being effectively locked out of Europe. We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind.”

Immigration controls in US and UK tighten amid calls for co-operation

While the US looks set to be significantly affected by the EU’s latest decision, it has issued stringent immigration controls of its own over the past few months. Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at NewCities, says that the Trump administration’s temporary suspension of all work visas will have far-reaching effects. “The executive order, signed on the 22 June, will bar as many as 525,000 foreign workers from entering the country for the rest of the year.” As Lindsay points out, this decision is only the latest salvo in White House aide Stephen Miller’s years-long campaign to curtail worker visas, arguing that they harm employment prospects for Americans.

In the UK, the pandemic’s effect on mobility has also been severe. Robert McNeil, Deputy Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, says that the almost complete cessation of international arrivals into the country has generated serious challenges for industries that have become dependent on seasonal migrant workers from the EU. McNeil says that despite public attitudes around immigration softening, the Brexit process has not slowed down. “In May, the government pushed through the new Immigration Bill, paving the way for a new ‘points-based’ immigration system. The new restrictions would prevent many people from becoming key workers in the UK in future. Around half of the EU citizens currently in key worker positions in the UK would not meet the new salary and skills thresholds required to move to the country from 2021.”

Changing priorities in a transformed world

As premium passports lose their shine in a post-Covid world, experts suggest that the crisis is likely to make international mobility more restricted and unpredictable in the longer term. “Even as countries open their borders, it is expected that numerous governments will use epidemiological concerns as a justification for imposing new immigration restrictions and nationality-targeted travel bans that will mainly be aimed at citizens of developing countries,” says Prof. Dr. Yossi Harpaz, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tel Aviv University. Noting the recent decision by the EU with respect to the US and other countries, Harpaz says, “The passports of both developing and developed nations stand to decrease in value, at least temporarily. In such uncertain times, global demand for dual citizenship and investor visas is expected to increase.”

Discussing the impact of the pandemic on global migration trends, Charles Phillips, researcher and consultant for Oxford Business Group, suggests that environmental health concerns could become a priority for those seeking alternative residence or citizenship. “We can expect places that are governed well and better equipped to deal with pandemics to become destinations people will seek to move to. Just as travel choices will likely be more strongly influenced by health considerations, we may see those acquiring alternative residence or citizenship placing a greater emphasis on a country’s health policies when deciding where to reside.”

Wakeling says that the growing demand for additional residence and citizenship options comes as no surprise. “We have seen extraordinary upheaval over the past few months, with many certainties falling away. For investors and their families, having a second citizenship or an alternative residence is an even more precious asset than ever before, as concerns over access to first-rate healthcare, global mobility, and quality of life take on a new urgency. In turn, investment migration programs provide invaluable economic security to the countries that offer them. As we enter the worst recession since the Great Depression, a small country like Montenegro, for instance, is better equipped to weather the storm. The recently launched Montenegro Citizenship-by-Investment Program allows permanent access and right to stay in the beautiful and safe European country. It also provides an immediate liquidity injection of much needed debt-free foreign capital that can be used to buffer the impact of the pandemic and create significant societal value.”

Boasting cutting-edge expert commentary and historical data spanning 15 years, the Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, and it is enhanced by extensive, ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.

About Henley & Partners

Henley & Partners is the global leader in residence and citizenship planning. Each year, hundreds of wealthy individuals and their advisors rely on our expertise and experience in this area. The firm’s highly qualified professionals work together as one team in over 30 offices worldwide.

The concept of residence and citizenship planning was created by Henley & Partners in the 1990s. As globalization has expanded, residence and citizenship have become topics of significant interest among the increasing number of internationally mobile entrepreneurs and investors whom we proudly serve every day.

The firm also runs a leading government advisory practice that has raised more than USD 8 billion in foreign direct investment. Trusted by governments, the firm has been involved in strategic consulting and in the design, set-up, and operation of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs.

*Source Henley & Partners

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DRC Offers the World an Immediate Climate Solution
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

Everland launches inaugural webinar, Everland Presents: REDD+, A Force of Nature presenting the pioneering Wildlife Works Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project.

Everland, the exclusive representative of the largest portfolio of high-impact, forest conservation projects across the globe launched its inaugural webinar event REDD+, A Force of Nature, presenting the Wildlife Works Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project in the DRC highlighting the critical importance to protect the Congo Basin Rainforest.

REDD+ is an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, a climate change mitigation strategy introduced by the United Nations that is an essential part of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The REDD+ mechanism was designed to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests which is contributing massively to the climate crisis. REDD+ allows local landowners in the developing world to monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

The Congo Basin Rainforest is the second largest intact tropical forest on earth and left standing, offers the world an immediate low-cost climate solution that also protects habitat for threatened wildlife and a way to bring sustainable development benefiting the local the forest community.

Leading sustainability and corporate social responsibility executives, impact investors, policy makers and media from 26 countries were in attendance.

Expert speakers explained how REDD+ offers one of the most effective tools we have right now to combat the climate crisis.

June 30th is significant as it is Independence Day in the DRC which had experienced a long history of colonial oppression and post-colonial exploitation and put the country in a position of dire need of development.

Today, a progressive new coalition government in the DRC is focused on meeting the needs of its people, eager to find ways to address extreme poverty and to preserve the country’s natural resources for the benefit of all.

REDD+ as a market-based mechanism offers the DRC an approach to solve both the needs of its population and the environment.

To address the climate crisis, the DRC has demonstrated longstanding leadership in UN Climate negotiations, representing Africa and advocating for the importance of forest conservation.

Since 2011, Wildlife Works has been working with the DRC government on the country’s national and subnational REDD+ program.

Her Excellency Madame Jeanne Ilunga Zaina, Vice Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development for the Democratic Republic of the Congo discussed the DRCs ambition for a green new future and praised Wildlife Works for its numerous achievements to stop deforestation and bring much needed benefits to the local forest community.

Basabo Boot’Ombala, Chief of Batwa Pygymy Village of Ikita, one of 23 villages in the project area, was interviewed and she spoke about life in Ikita and what the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project means to the Indigenous Batwa Pygmy community.

Chief Basabo said:

“Here in my village, the forest is our main source of everything. Our livelihood is highly dependent on the forest. That is the reason why we are saving the forest. We can’t survive without the forest. The forest is my and the whole (Ikita) populations survival.”

Other speakers included:

  • Armin Sandhoevel, Chief Investment Officer Infrastructure Equity, Allianz
  • Mike Korchinsky, Founder and President, Wildlife Works
  • Jean-Robert Bwangoy, DRC Country Director, Wildlife Works
  • Anna Lehmann, Global Climate Policy Director, Wildlife Works
  • Naomi Swickard, Chief Program Officer, Verra
  • Filip Agoo, Documentary Impact Photographer, Create The Change
  • Josh Tosteson, Chief Operating Officer, Everland
  • Moderated by Pamela Brazier, Vice President of Business Development, Europe, Everland

For more information about the speakers and the discussion:

About Mai Ndombe

The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project protects 300k hectares of critical bonobo and forest elephant habitat within the Congo Basin, the world’s second largest intact rainforest which also contains one of the most important wetlands of the planet. This project supports some of the worlds most impoverished and marginalized people in one of the least-developed places on Earth. The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project, developed and managed by Wildlife Works, utilizes carbon finance to address the basic development needs of 180,000 people that previously had little to no access to basic social services.

About WildlifeWorks

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ program development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market-based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. Over its 24-year history, Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

About Everland

Everland is a specialized marketing company representing the largest portfolio of high-impact, forest conservation projects, across the globe, that are focused on stopping deforestation. The company brings together forest communities and corporations in a common cause to protect some of the world’s most important and vulnerable forests.

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