Senegal: AfDB approves 88 million euros emergency budget support for COVID-19 response
May 31, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on Friday approved a loan of 88 million euros to Senegal, hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic, in support of the costs of its national COVID-19 Economic and Social Resilience Program.
The financing, which falls under the Bank’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility, will provide the nation with an emergency budget support program (PUARC) aiming to address the health, social and economic impacts of the crisis. The operation will target support measures providing relief to the most vulnerable households, while safeguarding jobs and enabling businesses to quickly resume.
The operation will help strengthen the health contingency action plan through support to patient case management and care facilities with the construction of three new Epidemic Treatment Centers (ETCs), the upgrading of 7 others, as well as improving capacities of the intensive care units.PUARC will also support the distribution of food kits and the payment of the electricity and water bills for vulnerable households.
These emergency measures should enable both rural and urban households to make up for the loss of income caused by the pandemic and boost existing measures, such as cash transfers for the poorest.The operation will also support the adoption of measures to shield workers from dismissal and technical unemployment during the pandemic, ensuring that workers are paid a guaranteed minimum wage.
“ Senegal is among the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to face the pandemic. I congratulate the government for the significant efforts deployed and for thebold measures taken at a very early stage, which helped to control the spread of the virus and its social and economic impact,” Bank Director General for West Africa Region Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade said following the approval.
The COVID-19 pandemic is already having a significant impact on the Senegalese economy, through the rapid deterioration of global economic conditions and the spread of the disease. Real GDP growth projections have been revised down from 6.8% to less than 3% for 2020, due to a slowdown in the tertiary sector, especially the tourism and transport sectors.
At the national level, measures to close borders, a curfew and social distancing have deepened the impact of the pandemic on certain sectors and led to the cessation of activities in others.. Sectors such as tourism, land and air transportation, trade ((including youth and women involved in informal sector and cross-border trade) and education are therefore directly affected by the crisis.
“The operation approved today by our Board, will allow the country to create the necessary fiscal space to address the emergency situation, while preserving the macroeconomic framework and growth, to support SMEs and to help the vulnerable populations most affected by the crisis,” Akin-Olugbade further said.
As at 29 May, the country had recorded 3,429 coronavirus cases, with 41 deaths.
Cabo Verde: African Development Bank Group approves 30 million euros loan to fight COVID-19
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has extended a loan of €30 million to Cabo Verde to help the West African island nation fight the COVID-19 outbreak and mitigate its economic impacts.
The loan, approved on 26 May, will be used to fund the country’s health and social response, support macro-economic stability, and assist the private sector.
As of 27 May, Cabo Verde had reported 390 infections, 155 recoveries and four deaths. Only one of the country’s 10 islands has been affected, namely Santiago, home to the capital city Praia. Cabo Verde is currently focusing on restarting economic activities gradually and the Bank’s support will help the country achieve that in a safer manner.
The Bank noted that while Cabo Verde’s health system was better equipped than that of many countries in the region, it could do with additional capacity in the face of the health crisis.
The pandemic has halted Cabo Verde’s recent strong economic performance. In 2019, its GDP grew by 5 percent. The country, which relies heavily on the blue economy and tourism, is expected to see its economic output contract by 4 percent in 2020.
The Bank funding will support a commitment from authorities to increase the number of ventilators from 20 to 86 in isolation rooms, and in total from 35 to 130 by mid-June.
A social inclusion income program will be expanded to reach a total of 8,000 vulnerable and woman-headed households, out of an estimated 9,000 households living in extreme poverty. Currently, 5,000 households are receiving such support.
In addition, a scheme will be established to partially fund the wages of furloughed workers from affected businesses. Temporarily suspended employees will receive 70 percent of full wages for the duration of the crisis.
The funding forms part of the Bank’s $10 billion COVID-19 Crisis Response Facility, approved by the Board of Directors on 8 April this year.
The Bank said containment measures had slowed the spread of the pandemic in Cabo Verde.
Measures to contain the virus are expected to have a disproportionate impact on certain segments of the population, which may deepen inequality. Young people in particular stand to be affected, given their already high rate of unemployment and underemployment. Women, who make up a disproportionate segment of affected sectors like services, are also a high-risk group, along with those at the front line of the pandemic in professions like nursing. Other vulnerable groups include unprotected workers, such as those who are self-employed, or in key formal sectors like tourism.
The government of Cabo Verde has created a National Technical Intervention and Response Team, and is budgeting for an increase in the number of key medical equipment and salaries for further medical staff.
The Ministry of Health and Social Security approved the COVID-19 National Contingency Plan in January, detailing strategies for all stages of the pandemic, responsibilities, priorities and action plans across all levels of government.
CHRDA condemns the Extrajudicial execution of four unarmed young men by State Defense and Security Forces in Buea, Southwest Region Cameroon
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
On Thursday, the 28th of May 2020, the state military conducted an offensive raid around the Neighborhood of Upper Bundouma, situated in Buea, the chief town of the South West Region, which lead to the killing of four (4) unarmed young men. The incident took place in an uncompleted building, where the young men were allegedly caught smoking weed before being executed by the military. According to our sources, the building was raided by the military, and voices were heard of young men crying under pain of beatings for close to 45 minutes before gunshots were heard.
Access to the scene of the incident was restricted for the locals, but after the administrative authorities of Buea visited the scene, the corpses of the victims were taken to the mortuary. A few journalists of the local media who visited the building recounts that apparently there were no weapons found in the building, save for the fact that the building appears to be a host for marijuana consumers. It is also alleged one person survived the shooting and was whisked off by the military to an undisclosed destination.
CHRDA condemns this act in the strongest possible terms as it is a blatant violation of human rights. The extrajudicial executions go in sharp contrast to the fundamental rights protected by the constitution of Cameroon and all International Human Rights instruments as well as the Criminal Procedure Code. All of these instruments proclaim the right to life, right to fair hearing as well the as presumption of innocence which is guaranteed a suspect even when caught fragrante delicto.
In the meantime, no statement has been issued by the state authorities in the Division about the killings, and as we are in wait, we recommend an immediate investigation into the killings so as to give the rule of law a chance to prevail over impunity.
It should be recalled that this is not the first case of arbitrary executions in Buea within the context of the Anglophone crisis. On Monday the 30th of July 2018, five (5) young men in the locality of Bakweri Town, were massacred under similar circumstances. Equally, on Thursday the 27th day of September 2018, the military (BIR) targeted and killed seven (7) identified unarmed civilians in a compound at Ikundi Street in Babuti neighborhood of Buea town.
None of these cases has ever been investigated despite calls from the local and international human rights defenders, yet such incidents keep repeating even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. CHRDA calls on the government of Cameroon to investigate these targeted killings committed by the Defense and Security Forces and put to rest such impunity against unarmed civilians.
Affected And Shork-Absorbed The Economy: Agriculture In Uganda Throughout Covid-19 Crisis To Date
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Moses Hategeka *
“My son, its unbeliebvable but a reality. Its me you are now seeing, driving and hawking my poutry farm eggs, from towns to towns, hoping to find customers for my eggs says Mubiru John a poutry and cattle farmer from Mukono district. On being asked, what has prompted him to do so, he narrated to me that, the global Covid-19 crisis, has had a devastating impact on his farm earnings. Since January 2020, the prices of per tray of my eggs, has drastically been reducing from Shs 12,000 to Shs 7000 in May. It is so frustrating for me and other poutry farmers, as I have continue incurring chicken feeds costs yet the farm is yielding no profits but only losses for me”.
To make matters worse, even the price of per- little of milk from my cattle farm, has in the same period todate been plummeting from Shs 1200 to Shs 300 and yet I have to sustain the farm, which unfurtantely, I am doing on an operating loss. He says!
The Covid-19 preventive measures among which includes, business shutdown, that also included shutting down hotels, resturants, food joints, public transport, international airports, and curfew, that the country introduced, made farmers, to loose a big percentage of their customers and market base and this coupled with, the long lockdown period that the country has been and is still partly in, has made the lives of farmers in different parts of the country more miserable, as reports of farmers, especially banana farmers seeing their bananas rippening and getting wasted continues to trickle in due to decreasing number of buyers.
The situation has been and is being made worse by dwindling of majority of people’s disposable income, with mostly those engaged in informal sector severly affected and unable to meet their basic needs, due to the ongoing lockdown and accompanying preventive mesaures.
It is mostly only the agricultural dealers who had large stocks of beans and maize flour, that have made serious money during this on going Covid-19 crisis, largely because of the government intervention to massively buy their produce and have it equitably distributed to the low income earners dwelling in urban centers, and also because of people’s preference of their produce to other easily perishable goods like bananas, as theirs, can be stocked and survived on, for a long time, as the country goes on grappling with Covid-19 crisis.
However, much as the Covid-19 crisis, has made and is making the country, to expereince an economic slump, it is important to note that, both the agricultural productivity loss and profitability that has been registered in various agricultural subsectors, during this ongoing Covid-19 crisis, has largely been a blessing in disguise, in that, it has cushioned the economy from galloping and hyper inflation effects, and also sort of enabled the country to relatively sustain its micro-economic stabilty.
Going forward, the economic stimulus packages, that many interest groups from different sectors are craving for, from government to enable them stay on course in their business enterprises in this Covid-19 period, should without any debate, firstly be given to the farmers especially to those specifically engaged both in producing and adding value to their farm goods, and to those who are willing to do the same, as well as to agricultural cooperatives that does the same and are willing to establish modernized storage facilities of their members farm products.
There is no reason, why our banana farmers should be left to cry and see their bananas being wasted, when they can be helped to turn their bananas into banana flour and crisps for consumption not only in Uganda but also in other countries.
Pumkin and soya porridge is very nutrious and on high demand in our surrounding countries as well as to other countries in Africa and Asia. Our pumkin and soya farmers should be skilled and financially enabled, to add value on their goods and tap into this huge avalialble markets.
In sum, Agricultural sector, has played and is playing a fundemental role in shock-absorbing the economy in this Covid-19 period and therefore it is prudent that the country should leverage on its excellent climatic conditions, and prioritize agriculture in its economic stimulus plans during this ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and and develop sustainable strategies that will position the country to not only continue being food secure, but to also become a net exporter of food through deepening agricultural production import susbstitution stratgegy.
Moses Hategeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance Reseracher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer .He can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gambia: Defence Minister assures Gambians of Continuous Government Protection
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Amos Fofung
Gambia’s Minister of Defence Sheikh Omar Faye has assured Gambians that the government of President Adama Barrow will never abandon her citizens. Speaking during a recent visit to Garawol Kuta Village in the Upper River Region of the Gambia which was the centre of an incident with Senegalese forces, Minister Omar Faye said the Government of President Barrow had been working tirelessly to resolve the issues.
“The Government of the Gambia will never abandon her citizens, and the immediate deployment of a patrol team that crossed into Senegal to follow up on the case is a clear indication that the security forces and the government will never abdicate their responsibilities,” Omar Faye said.
While some people took issue with the fact that the Minister had taken long to visit considering that the shooting incident took place on the 8 of March, Minister Omar Faye indicated that the government of President Adama Barrow had been working tirelessly to resolve the issues .It has been a long and rocky effort to ensure that peace continues to prevail , he said.
Mr Omar Faye informed the villagers that so much has been taking place behind the scenes and will be eventually brought to the public at the appropriate time. The Minister said he was not there to cover or bend the truth but to inform the villagers that the government was with them and doing everything possible to protect them and ensure that such incidents are averted in future.
Going further, the Defence Minister said at the diplomatic level a mediation team had been composed to work out modalities to avoid the reoccurrence of this kind of incidents though the outbreak of COVID-19 had slowed things down, the team will continue work.
The experience of Mr Sulayman Trawally and the villagers as a result of the incident and the ordeal were very unfortunate and regrettable, Mr Faye said , and lauded the efforts of the MP for the area ,the Chief and other community leaders whose efforts contributed to the resolution of the matter.
who spoke at the gathering were; the Deputy Governor of the Region, the Member
of Parliament of the area, the chief of the area, the Alkalo of the Village and
two community leaders. They both expressed appreciation for the visit and
requested for more support in terms of road infrastructure and security.
The Hon Minister was accompanied to the area by Commissioners of Police, Immigration, Commanding Officer of 3rd Infantry Battalion and other Security heads of the region.
Cross border issues are a regular occurrence in Africa and have often times required great tact and diplomacy to resolve in way that broader relations are not strained. The closeness of Gambians and Senegalese means that people interact frequently on both sides of the border and every now and then misunderstandings could occur. It is therefor in the interest of leaders of both countries to ensure that misunderstandings are handled amicably with issues understood before actions taken.
Gambia Gay Rights Saga: Sabally Calls On Foreign Minister to Resign
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Momodou Sabally, former Secretary General and Head of Civil Service has called on Dr. Mamadou Tangara to resign as minister of foreign affairs.
European Union mission in The Gambia earlier this month sparked anger after it released a statement suggesting its commitment to gay rights in The Gambia. Some Gambians called for the deportation of the Ambassador.
Some Gambians condemn gays and lesbians and are determined to attack anyone practicing same-sex marriage because they described it as inhuman, ungodly and a serious threat to human existence.
And Mr Sabally speaking in an audio message to Gambians said Foreign Affairs Minister Dr Mamadou Tangara failed to say a word about it.
He said: “This happened, President Adama Barrow didn’t talk, Vice President Isatou Touray didn’t talk, Momodou Tangara his Foreign Minister didn’t say a word about it.
“I am advising him. We cannot spend the whole time criticising Adama Barrow. Everyone is responsible for a department and this is not a ex- president Yahya Jammeh government where one would say ‘I am scared to talk because of him’. I don’t think Adama Barrow is a dictator yet.
“Dr Mamadou Tangara is the one who betrayed Gambians, he is the one who belittled himself, belittled his tradition and values, belittled his religion. To sit and keep quiet while the White people are playing us, White people who enslaved our people.
“They didn’t do anything here and now they are coming and insulting us during Ramadan and Mamadou Tangara is sitting and saying nothing. This is very deliberate. I am advising him to resign.”
The “High 5s”: A strategic vision and results that are transforming Africa
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
For the past ten years, Africa has recorded some of the world’s strongest rates of economic growth. At the same time, many African economies continue to function at well below their full potential. Structural transformation is needed to create more jobs, reduce poverty and accomplish sustainable development objectives.
The African Development Bank’s High 5 priority areas are intended to support African countries’ achievement of the SDGS. They are: Feed Africa; Light up Africa; Industrialise Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life for the people of Africa.
Atta Abdul, Fatima-Zahra, Shuaibu, and Daniel are the faces of a continent that is being transformed. By betting on Africa’s youth, the Bank is banking on the future to make the continent a land of progress, prosperity and hope.
Since 2015, 74 million Africans have benefited from improved agricultural technologies through the Bank’s efforts to support increased food security on the continent.
In western Mauritania, for example, the Brakna-Ouest irrigation infrastructure improvement project, supported by the Bank in the amount of $12 million, enabled 1 500 farming and livestock-producing families to return to cultivating their fields.
“We come from a farming and livestock-producing family and we grew up in that environment. Our harvest was very poor. We wanted to move somewhere else,” explains Atta Abdul Seck, a project beneficiary in Louboudou in western Mauritania. “As a farmer’s son, what I liked most when I returned was being able to continue farming. Farming is in my blood,” he says proudly.
Light up Africa
Without electricity, agriculture cannot effectively meet the growing challenge of food security in Africa. The Bank has made investment in energy a priority. Since 2016, it has mobilised $12 billion for its “Light Up Africa” strategic priority. Through this investment, 13.4 million people have gained access to electricity.
Morocco has made significant progress in widening access to electricity. In just the past twenty years, the electricity system has expanded to cover almost the entire country. The national rural electrification program, supported by the Bank with 155 million euros, has connected nearly 12.8 million Moroccans to the national power grid.
In Dar El Aïn, a village twenty kilometres from Marrakesh, the arrival of electricity has opened new doors for the women of the “Al Amal” cooperative. They use electricity to process their wheat into couscous or create other barley or wheat-based products. “The cooperative processes local crops into added-value products. Now, with electricity, the women are much more efficient, and their products are of better quality. It creates hope,” says Fatima-Zahra, a thirty-year-old member.
As part of the Bank’s “Industrialise Africa” priority, 9 million people have gained access to private financing. In Nigeria, for instance, where more than 70 percent of the population depends on agriculture, fluctuating harvests have significant repercussions on yields, income and food security.
One solution is fertilizer, particularly if locally produced. The Bank provided $100 million to support construction of a modern fertilizer plant in Port Harcourt.
Shuaibu Yusuf, a farmer in his thirties who live near Port Harcourt, has experienced the impact of this project in his daily life. “When I used this fertilizer, I saw the difference. My harvest increased by more than 40 percent. I can feed myself, pay for my children’s education, and even their medical expenses,” he says. “I’m going to encourage my children, my neighbours and members of my community to increase their farming activities so we can all progress together,” Shuaibu continues.
To derive more benefit from industrialisation, Africa must become better integrated in terms of trade and markets. Through integration, African countries can gain access to larger markets and thereby increase incomes for millions of residents through new opportunities.
Since 2015, 69 million people have benefited from the Bank’s support for new transport infrastructure that has advanced integration. Gaps in the primary transport corridors have been filled, links between countries have been strengthened, and intra-African trade has been revitalised.
A good example of this is The Nairobi-Addis-Ababa corridor, which received$670 million in Bank financing and which has enhanced the potential for trade and job growth in Ethiopia and Kenya.
Daniel Yatta, a forty-year-old Kenyan lorry driver, has been transporting goods between Nairobi and Addis-Ababa for 15 years, and has seen the new road’s impact on his business. “ Back in the day, it would take more than two weeks to drive between Addis and Nairobi,” he says. The new road has made his life much easier. “With the new road, the trip takes only a few days. With 30 tonnes of freight, it only takes about 24 hours to drive to Addis!” he continues.
Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa
An important part of improving living conditions is providing better access to essential services such as health, water and sanitation. Since 2015, Bank-supported projects have given 43 million people access to water and sanitation
The High 5s’ impact in numbers
Gambia:Covid 19 shutting down economies, President Barrow tells UN
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
President Adama Barrow has told the UN high-level virtual meeting on ‘Financing for Development on Covid-19’ that Gambia’s economy s among many others that are shutting down due to Covid 19 pandemic.
The impact of the pandemic has necessitated the world body to convene this high level event, to discuss strategies towards recovery of economies and financing development in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.
“Our economies have been virtually shut down for the past several months as economic growth has become seriously compromised for the foreseeable future,” President Barrow told the meeting.
The Canadian and Jamaican Prime Ministers have joined the UN Secretary General in convening the meeting. The world leaders through this meeting have formed a consensus that Covid-19 is more than a global health challenge.
Rather, they consider it “a serious economic and social challenge” for the global economy, with devastating effects on most vulnerable countries such as The Gambia.
President Barrow told his colleague leaders that it has become more urgent for them to accelerate the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development in the Era of Covid-19 and beyond.
The Chairman of the African Union, President Ramaphosa of South Africa called for total debt cancellation for African countries. He further called on world leaders to honour their commitments to the Addis Ababa Plan of Action.
A global response package of up to $200 billion is targeted to finance this re-emergence plan. Mr. Ramaphosa expressed his commitment to lead the raising of this funds.
President Buhari of Nigeria and Kenyatta of Kenya were among those who gave strong support to debt cancellation for African countries.
The World Bank has called for extension of debt servicing, warning that creditors must not exploit the vulnerabilities of debtor countries during these times.
The IMF supported the G20’s debt scheme that puts moratorium on servicing debts by developing countries in order to support them build more robust and resilient economies.
The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres said it was clear that many developing countries lacked the financial means to recover from the impact of Covid 19 pandemic. Their economies’ financial inflows, tourism, remittances, aviation services have hugely suffered that they need global partnership to emerge from this crisis.
Gambia’s Economy Worsen in 2020- Central Bank Governor
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Bakary K. Jammeh, Governor of Gambia Central Bank yesterday indicated that preliminary estimates of government fiscal operations indicated that overall deficit, including grants worsened from D24.3 million in the first quarter of 2019 to a deficit of D341.6 million in the first quarter of 2020.
“Revenue and grants in the first three months of 2020 decreased to D4.7 billion from D5.0 billion registered in the corresponding period in 2019. Domestic revenue, which comprises tax and non-tax revenue increased to D4.5 billion during the period under review from D3.0 billion in the same period last year.”
Jammeh was speaking during the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) press conference held in Banjul, Governor Jammeh added that the deficit excluding grants have improved to D0.5 billion during the first quarter of 2020 compared to D1.97 billion in the same period in 2019.
He further explained that total government expenditure and net lending increased slightly to D5.02 billion, compared to D5.01 billion in 2019. He added the recurrent expenditure increased by 23.5 % to D4.1 billion (4.1% of GDP) during the period under review.
“Capital expenditure decreased to D948.7 million in the first quarter of 2020 from D1.7 billion in the same period last year.”
Dwelling on the domestic debt, Governor Jammeh stated that The Gambia’s domestic debt remains high, saying the stock of the domestic debt increased to D33.6 billion or 33.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at end April 2020, from D32.5 billion or 35.7% of GDP in the corresponding period in 2019.
After reviewing the country’s economy, Jammeh explained that the committee decided to reduce the monetary policy rate by 2% point to 10% to support the economy. It also reduced the statutory required reserve ratio by 2% points to 13%, which will release about D700 million liquidity to banks; and maintain the interest rate on the standing deposit facility at 3% and the interest rate on the standing lending facility at 1% points above the monetary policy rate.
With regard to the decision taken by the MPC, Governor Jammeh encourages banks to translate these to increase lending to the private sector, while adding that the committee will continue to closely monitor the situation and stands ready to act accordingly.
Gambia 2021 Elections: Female Candidate Unveils Interest in Top Job
May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
By Bakary Ceesay
Marie Sock, a developmental expert and business mogul has revealed her interest of been Gambia’s next president come 2021 presidential elections.
Gambia goes to presidential elections in 2021, more political parties and independent candidates are emerging.
Sock told Fatu Network that ‘I’m here to reunited Gambia’ as she on Thursday called on all Gambians to back to her to become the country’s next president.
Sock said: “I feel there are too many political parties right now and it’s catastrophic. So I want to get out of that. This is why I said, ‘no I am not gonna form another political party to be part of, I gonna stand independently’.”
The businesswoman is calling on all Gambians including political parties to endorse her in her grand plan.
She said: “Standing independently doesn’t mean I don’t wanna work with anyone. That’s why I’m standing independent. Of course, it will be great if Gambians can come together regardless of any political party that you are affiliated with, to endorse my candidacy because what I want to do is to bring everybody together as Gambians.
“I’m looking actually for all the parties to endorse me. I cannot predict the future, I can only come out and say I’m standing on my own. For now I can only say I am aspiring candidate and talk to all the people to support me and come onboard as one.
“I’m here to reunite Gambia. If we talk about we want Gambia to be one, I think this is the platform to do so. We put our political affiliations aside, we put our religion aside, we put our tribe aside.”
Statement of the Chairperson following the murder of George Floyd in the USA
May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
29 May 2020, Addis Ababa: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat strongly condemns the murder of George Floyd that occurred in the United States of America at the hands of law enforcement officers, and wishes to extend his deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.
Recalling the historic Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the United States of America made by African Heads of State and Government, at the OAU’s First Assembly Meeting held in Cairo, Egypt from 17 to 24 July 1964, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission firmly reaffirms and reiterates the African Union’s rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens of the United States of America.
He further urges the authorities in the United States of America to intensify their efforts to ensure the total elimination of all forms of discrimination based on race or ethnic origin.
The Spokesperson of the Chairperson of the Commission
Innovate Now Accelerator Programme Seeks Mobile Solutions to Assist Persons with Disabilities
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
|Programme opens submissions for second cohort with focus on mobile as a bridge to assistive technology|
Africa’s first Assistive Technology Accelerator is seeking applications from innovators across the African continent who are dedicated to developing mobile based technologies designed to assist people living with disabilities.
The UK Aid-funded programme, which is run by Global Disability Innovation (GDI) Hub (www.DisabilityInnovation.com) and Amref Enterprises Limited, hopes to accelerate 12 start-ups in its second cohort, with a focus on solutions that will leverage mobile technologies to enable persons with disabilities access information and navigate daily life with independence and dignity.
The second intake’s theme – Mobile and Assistive Technology (AT) – is in response to research indicating that mobile technology can increase access to assistive technologies, information, digital products and services for people with disabilities. This is especially true in Africa, a rapidly digitising economy where numerous basic services and products are available via mobile phone in countries such as Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.
“The mobile device and associated mobile technologies have tremendously improved access to information, goods and services for people from all walks of life, including persons with disabilities. Innovate Now Cohort 2.0 aims to support ventures that are leveraging this disruptive technology to improve functioning, independence and wellbeing of persons with disabilities in Africa,’’ noted Bernard Chiira, Director – Innovate Now.
According to a study on mobile disability gaps (https://bit.ly/2WKrbTW) published by the GSMA, mobile phone ownership among persons with disabilities is high, with approximately 82% of adults with disabilities in Kenya owning a mobile phone for example. Although persons with disabilities are less likely to own a mobile phone than non-disabled persons, those with access to mobile devices perceive the handsets to be useful for accessing features such as education and financial services.
“The independence and wellbeing of persons with disabilities is critical. Assistive technologies are central to ensuring that persons with disabilities can continue to thrive. It is my desire to see innovations supported by Innovate Now turn into big businesses that will not only make mobility easy, but create employment for our people,” said Senator Isaac Mwaura, Chair – Innovate Now Board.
Applications for Cohort 2.0 can be submitted online via [https://atInnovateNow.com/apply] until June 8, 2020. Innovate Now is also inviting submissions for mobile technology-based innovations that seek to provide solutions to help persons with disabilities during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
Selected finalists will participate in a rigorous 3-month virtual start-up acceleration programme that will run from July to September 2020, during which they will have access to the Innovate Now Live-Lab Network where they can engage persons with disabilities in the product development process. The participants will also have access to mentorship from experts such as Rhys Williams and Catherine Holloway from GDI Hub; Anne Lawi, Country Director – Pangea Accelerator; Maurice Otieno, Executive Director – Baraza Media Lab, and Robert Yawe, Managing Director – SynapTech Solutions, among others.
At the end of the programme, the start-ups will present their innovations to a select audience of investors and world leading institutions with the aim of scaling them to reach the populations that need them most.
Last year’s 5 finalists are preparing to pitch at the Innovate Now Virtual Demo Day to be held on June 4, 2020, during which various investments will be announced. They include:
Vision Vijana (www.Vijanareloaded.com) – a start-up that is building and training a network of youth to make vision testing, eyeglasses fitting and acquisition accessible at scale. Vision Vijana has so far carried out vision testing and eyeglasses fitting for more than 8,000 people in Kenya.
Linccell Technology – a start-up that aims to lead the electric personal mobility industry in Kenya and put wheelchair users at the front of this revolution. Linccell Technology has designed, built and sold more than a dozen wheelchairs across Kenya. Their wheelchairs are designed to withstand the toughest off-road conditions in Africa while also being convenient for indoor use.
Hope Tech Plus – a start-up that is reimagining mobility and navigation for the blind. Their 4th Eye Mobility Device is designed to replace the white cane and help visually impaired people avoid obstacles above knee level, and is so far being used by over 1,000 users.
Syna Consulting – the social enterprise has developed UTULAV, a mobile toilet designed to provide safe and dignified sanitation to the physically challenged, the aged and the sick. The development of UTULAV has progressed from prototype to minimum viable product, and Syna is now trialling its proposition in the market.
Toto SCI – a startup that has developed AlexCane, a smart stick that incorporates IOT (Internet of things) technology to help blind persons share their location, request for help or connect with other users automatically at the touch of a button.
Innovate Now is part of the AT2030 Programme. It is Africa’s first Assistive Technology Innovation Ecosystem and Start-up Accelerator and is implemented by Amref Enterprises Limited (AEL) and led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub. The Accelerator aims to support 60 start-ups, 15 of which will be scaled up over the next 3 years.
With statistics showing that close to 1 billion people globally do not have access to Assistive Technology and the gap is likely to double by 2050, the accelerator programme seeks to close the gap that exists between persons with disabilities and access to assistive technologies.
About Innovate Now:
Innovate Now is Africa’s first Assistive Technology Accelerator that hosts start-ups for 3-6 months. The free accelerator model combines mentorship, workshops, guest lectures and hands on disability expertise to help Assistive Technology start-ups reach product-market fit, become investable and scale ready. Innovate Now uses an innovative active learning model and Live labs to provide the best possible support for founders by helping them overcome barriers to scaling AT. Innovate Now is implemented by Amref Enterprises (Kenya) in partnership with the Global disability Innovation Hub. It is part of the GDI Hub led AT2030 Assistive Technology for All programme.
The AT2030 programme will test, over five years, “what works” to improve access to Assistive Technology and will invest £20m to support solutions to scale. With a focus on innovative products, new service models, and global capacity support, the programme will reach 9 million people directly and 6 million more indirectly to enable a lifetime of potential through life-changing Assistive Technology. AT2030 is led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub and is funded by UK Aid from the UK Government.
About Amref Enterprises Limited:
Amref Enterprises Limited (AEL) is the social enterprise arm of Amref Health Africa, the largest Africa-based international NGO. AEL is responsible for delivering sustainable social value through incubation and commercialisation of innovative solutions, conceptualised and developed throughout the organisation. AEL works to strengthen the primary health care system, in line with Amref Health Africa’s vision of creating lasting health change in Africa.
About Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub):
GDI Hub is a research and practice centre driving disability innovation for a fairer world. Based in East London and a legacy of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, GDI Hub delivers world-class research, ideas and inventions, creating new knowledge, solutions and products, and shaping policy through co-creation, participation and collaboration.