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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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Proflight and Zambian civil aviation authorities still investigating flight P00705 incident
December 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

As part of its on-going commitment to maintaining the highest air safety standards, Proflight Zambia has reported that it is working closely with the Zambia Civil Aviation Authority (ZCAA) and Zambia Accident Investigations Board (ZAIB) to establish the facts behind the incident on Monday, November 25, 2019, in which its 50-seat Bombardier Dash 8 turboprop aircraft was damaged by hail.
 

It is reported that while descending through cloud, the aircraft encountered severe hail as it came into land at Kenneth Kaunda International Airport, Lusaka. The aircraft, operating flight P00705 from Harry Mwaanga Nkumbula International Airport, Livingstone with 41 passengers and five crew members on board, landed safely and no one was injured during the incident.

“Proflight is extremely proud of the professional way in which the incident was handled by all concerned.  While a very rare event, it serves to reinforce the importance Proflight attaches to training its pilots and crew to international standards. Their training kicked in and they were able to handle the situation calmly and professionally as a result,” said Proflight Director of Flight Operations Captain Josias Walubita.
 

It is reported that Proflight Zambia has robust systems and procedures to ensure safety, and sends flight crew to Europe and South Africa twice yearly for specialist incident training on aircraft simulators, safety procedures are strongly instilled in the minds of all crew members. This contributed to the safe landing of the aircraft, he explained.

“Weather incidents in the aviation sector are not uncommon in the air at this time of the year. There was potentially a lightning strike in addition, but at this stage we have no evidence to confirm this. All our crew diligently follow the weather avoidance procedures stipulated in our manuals and set out in their regular training,” he added.

Capt. Walubita confirmed no bad weather was signalled by the aircraft’s weather radar, which was operating normally and used throughout the flight. Depending on the nature of the weather and the angle of flight, radar would not necessarily detect a dry-ice hailstorm, which is less reflective than rain.

An internal board has been set up by the airline to establish the full facts of the incident, and experts from the aircraft’s manufacturer, de Havilland, have arrived in the country to assess the damage.

“We work closely with the regulator, the Zambia Civil Aviation Authority (ZCAA) to meet their regulations both on local and international standards. We thank the ZCAA for their support and guidance during this difficult time,” said Capt. Walubita.
 

Proflight says that it  is working hard to minimise disruption in the run-up to the the busy festive period while its Dash 8 aircraft is out of service. The aircraft has been operating in Zambia for less than three months, and is a frontline aircraft on domestic routes.

“Until the authorities have completed their work, the airline cannot comment further on the incident,” according to Proflight Zambia.

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Joint effort to rebuild beekeepers’ livelihoods in Zimbabwe and Mozambique after cyclone Idai initiated
December 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

A beekeeper next to a hive.Photo DW

Beekeepers in Manicaland in Zimbabwe and Mozambique   lost their bees and bee hives, and their livelihoods when they were   hit by Cyclone Idai. They were swept away   by the flooding, destroyed by rock and landslides and thrown out of trees by fierce winds.The Bees for Development Trust, a UK based charity organisation with other partners is seeking to rebuild the beekeepers’ lives torn apart by the devastating cyclone.

  In March 2019 devastating Cyclone Idai caused havoc in Southern Africa. From the east coast of Mozambique it travelled through Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Madagascar, causing around 1,300 deaths. More than 3 million people suffered loss of family members, their possessions, homes and livelihoods.

  According to the Bees for Development Trust, beekeeping is an ideal livelihood, with low input costs when bee hives are made from local materials, and quick to set-up.

   “Beekeeping is the basis for resilient and sustainable livelihoods for many people. In these nations of sub-saharan Africa it helps to support families, and can be also a ready source of quick cash when needed. It is a feasible alternative to forest products like charcoal, where the beekeeper becomes a protector of the forest,  as honey production is directly related to the health of the forest,” the trust said.

  The International Federation of Beekeepers Associations, Apimondia and the charity Bees for Development  have started  a  joint effort to raise funds and support beekeepers affected in these areas by Cyclone Idai.

  “It is challenging to collect information about the affected beekeepers due to damages to infrastructure.As far as we can estimate, 682 beekeepers in Chimanimani (Manicaland, Zimbabwe) have been affected, losing 2,912 bee hives. In Chikukwa (district of Chimanimani), there are at least 164 beekeepers, with at least 600 hives washed away by the floods,” the organisations said.

  The organisations report that Solomon Chikwee from Ngangu (Manicaland, Zimbabwe) says: “I had 250 colonised hives, 150 were destroyed or taken by the floods.” He has been hit hard by landslides and flooding.

  They add that there is urgent need, expressed by beekeepers in the affected areas, to help them rebuild their lives with external help. Many lost their hives with honey bee colonies, or the honey bee colonies absconded.It is reported that the beekeepers have been unable to harvest honey and are missing the funds they need to reconstruct their normal lives.

  The partners say that this is an urgent intervention and funds will go directly towards, replacing hives, giving training on hive making and reforestation

  It is reported that the funds will be managed by Bees for Development Trust, UK Charity 1078803.According to the trust, bees ensure the maintenance of biodiversity and enable people to improve their livelihoods.

  The trust  ensures beekeepers working in poor countries have access to the information and advice they need. For example, how to market honey, manage indigenous bees sustainably, or plant trees useful for bees.

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Zimbabwe’s civil protection dept to set up earth observation satellite system to detect pending disasters
December 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Zimbabwe’s department of Civil Protection is to set up an earth observation satellite system, a facility which is expected to house a multi-hazard or integrated early warning system for impending disasters in the country.

  A spokesperson of the department, Meliqiniso  Sibanda said that   all early warning systems should be under one roof instead of operating in silos in the country.

 “So early warning systems for fire, epidemics and   meteorological hazards should be integrated for prompt response to emergencies,” she said.

  She added that the space technology also known as earth observation satellite technology is for use in collecting real time data in areas affected by flooding.

 She added that for example, during the Tokwe-Mukosi dam   flooding, Professor Amon Murwira, while at the  University of Zimbabwe (UZ)  activated the system  and  was viewing the disaster and was also taking pictures.

 “So there is need to have the system installed at all the 10 provinces in the country,” Sibanda said.

  She added that the facility is in line with international best practice.

   She said that the  Meteorological  Services department  have their own satellite technology for early warning in Belvedere.

  She also said that  Environmental Management Agency (EMA)  have their own separate one for detection of fire outbreaks,  Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) have theirs and the ministry  of Health and Child Care have their.

    Sibanda said that their mandate as the   department  of Civil Protection (DCP) according to the Civil Protection Act of 1989, is overall coordination of stakeholders involved in disaster risk management.

  “So we need all early warning systems under one roof for prompt response to emergencies. Currently, the aforementioned organizations are working in silos so DCP needs an integrated, multi-hazard early warning system where we will have meteorological   services, ZINWA, EMA, ministry  of Health, National Parks and  Wildlife Management, Zimbabwe Republic Police traffic under one roof, in one room and  manning the system under the control of DCP,” she said.

  She said that when that happens, early warning information is quickly shared for early action to enhance prompt response to emergencies.

  Sibanda said that Japan, China, USA and  most disaster management authorities in developed countries operate in that  way.

 “We need the system to be installed in provinces as well, to be manned by Provincial Development Coordinators. The system uses earth observation satellite technology,” Sibanda said.

  She added that Econet’s Higher Life Foundation have shown an interest to fund the initiative   but it  has not materialised yet.

  “When we get funding, we are supposed to move from 7th floor Makombe building to the Births and  Registry building which should be renovated first before occupation. The Births and   Registry staff should go to the new building next to theirs. The system is to be installed in Harare first,” she said.

UNSPIDER  the United Nations agency specializing in space technology  provides technical advice to countries that request to be capacitated on the use of space technology in pre-disaster situations, during disaster events and in post-disaster situations. 

 “Through the country UNDP Office, DCP  requested to be a member of the UNSPIDER system. So, the equipment to be installed should be recommended by UNSPIDER as it should be in sync with their equipment. In case of a disaster, UNSPIDER will reactivate the relevant charter so that we record/collect real time data,” Sibanda said. 

 She said the system is expected to cost at least US$300 000.

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Winter School on intercultural Exchange within Societies Wraps Up in Berlin
December 2, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Winter school “Brokering Intercultural Exchange within Societies” has concluded   in Berlin German on 27-29 November 2019 at International Alumni Center.

The Winter School is a cooperative project between Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences, the Network Brokering Intercultural Exchange (www.managingculture.net) and MitOst e.V.

It attracted around 50 young and aspiring cultural manages from all around the world in order to network, discuss current issues and developments in cultural management and provide some best practices

Professor Dr. Raphaela Henze, Cultural Management and Vice-Dean of Internationalisation and Research Heilbronn University of Applied Sciences explained that the idea of winter school came when she and a friend as they were doing a lot in research so they thought it wise to organise a winter school by gathering cultural manger to It is about sharing experiences and expertise, finding new methods of how to approach topics and critically access your own work.

In 2018, the programme hosted 30 aspiring cultural managers from Egypt, Colombia, Brazil, Argentina, the US, UK, Spain, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Lebanon, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria.

In this edition, the programme has host 35 masters and doctoral students in the arts and cultural management.

Participants focused on participatory arts projects and has been engaged in lectures, workshops and case clinics by renowned researchers and practitioners.

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Investigation links Global oil giants, influential Westerners as facilitators and benefactors of South Sudan war
November 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

A global link facilitators, benefactors, and influencers who either directly or indirectly benefit from the war in South Sudan War has been exposed due to an investigation conducted by The Sentry organization. 

An investigative and policy team that follows the dirty money connected to African war criminals and transnational war profiteers and seeks to shut those benefiting from violence out of the international financial system.

The investigation shows how corporations have profited from the country’s civil war – and the links between armed groups, global oil giants, as well as British and American citizens.

For years now, the world’s youngest country has been thrown into civil war in what many term a man-made humanitarian crisis that engulfed the country since 2013.

Titled; The Taking of South Sudan”, the report names tycoons, brokers, and multinational corporations that are Complicit in Hijacking the World’s Newest Nation.

“The men who liberated South Sudan proceeded to hijack the country’s fledgling governing institutions, loot its resources, and launched a war in 2013 that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions of people,” an executive summary of the report reads.

“They did not act alone. The South Sudanese politicians and military officials ravaging the world’s newest nation received essential support from individuals and corporations from across the world who have reaped profits from those dealings. Nearly every instance of confirmed or alleged corruption or financial crime in South Sudan examined by The Sentry has involved links to an international corporation, a multinational bank, a foreign government or high-end real estate abroad…. the extent to which external actors have been complicit in the taking of South Sudan.”

Naming and shaming those benefiting from the war, the report notes that benefactors have pocket billions of dollars and will reap more so long as the war rages on.

“The local kleptocrats and their international partners—from Chinese-Malaysian oil giants and British tycoons to networks of traders from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, and Uganda—have accumulated billions of dollars. The country’s natural resources have been plundered, lethal militia and military units responsible for atrocities have received financing and kleptocrats have lined their pockets with untold billions of dollars allocated by government programs meant to improve the livelihood of some of the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world.”

Released in September 2019, the report profiles international actors who have provided

direct support to South Sudanese perpetrators of violence; actors who have formed private businesses with top South Sudanese officials responsible for human rights abuses and international actors who have benefited from major public procurement scandals in South Sudan. 

As per the report; “the men who liberated South Sudan proceeded to hijack the country’s fledgling governing institutions, loot its resources, and launched a war in 2013 that has cost hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions of people.”

Reiterating the devastating effects on the war-torn state, they added that “they did not act alone. The South Sudanese politicians and military officials ravaging the world’s newest nation received essential support from individuals and corporations from across the world who have reaped profits from those dealings. Nearly every instance of confirmed or alleged corruption or financial crime in South Sudan examined by The Sentry has involved links to an international corporation, a multinational bank, a foreign government or high-end real estate abroad. This report examines several illustrative examples of international actors linked to violence and grand corruption in order to demonstrate the extent to which external actors have been complicit in the taking of South Sudan.”

The report directly points to local kleptocrats and their international partners— “from Chinese-Malaysian oil giants and British tycoons to networks of traders from Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya and Uganda—” whom they accuse of having accumulated billions of dollars.

“The country’s natural resources have been plundered, lethal militia and military units responsible for atrocities have received financing and kleptocrats have lined their pockets with untold billions of dollars allocated by government programs meant to improve the livelihood of some of the poorest, most vulnerable people in the world. The spoils of this heist are coursing through the international financial system in the form of shell companies, stuffed bank accounts, luxury real estate and comfortable safe havens around the world for the extended families of those involved in violence and corruption.”

Urging a broad-base investigation into the scandal in South Sudan, the report warns of more that any peace efforts will yield no fruits as these “gang” will rather not lose their mines.

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Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba tasks African entrepreneurs to grab e-commerce opportunities presented by African Continental Free Trade Agreement
November 30, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Photo: UNCTAD South Africa
Photo: UNCTAD South Africa

Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba group, one of the world’s largest e-commerce businesses, has urged African entrepreneurs that they will find countless opportunities in e-commerce, logistics and e-payments as the continent prepares for the start of a free-trade deal brought about by the penning of historic African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA.

A successful entrepreneur himself who make a fortune via e-commerce Jack Ma in an interview with Bloomberg Television said; while governments will be responsible for administering the African Continental Free Trade Agreement which has a target starting date of July, business leaders will have to find practical ways on how to connect consumers in disparate markets.

“People like e-commerce, today people trust e-commerce,” said Ma. “It’s just like virgin land. People need it.”

The former English teacher who went ahead to be rated Forbes richest man in China; #21 billionaire worldwide in 2019, #21 most powerful person in 2018, #7 richest person in 2017 among other caps, stepped down from his role at China’s largest company on his birthday in September after amassing a $41.8 billion fortune with the wealth been generated largely via e-commerce.

Today his fortune according to Forbes stands at $39.5Billion as of today.

Ma wants African entrepreneurs to be celebrated as “heroes” and supported by their governments on a continent with a combined market size similar to China’s.

“Sometimes, it’s easy to reach an agreement, but it is difficult to implement…there are too many countries, there are different rules, and languages and systems. But one thing is sure, entrepreneurs can connect Africa.”

Ma is a staunch believer in the economic potentials of Africa and has on several occasion support entrepreneurs and African startups.  

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