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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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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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Nigeria: African Development Bank approves $210 million financing for Transmission Expansion Project
November 29, 2019 | 0 Comments
Wale Shonibare, AFDB Acting Vice-President for Power & Energy
Wale Shonibare, AFDB Acting Vice-President for Power & Energy

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group has approved a $210 million financing package to the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for the Nigeria Transmission Expansion Project (NTEP1), which seeks to rehabilitate and upgrade the nation’s power lines and improve distribution and supply. 

The project, which will run across the states of Kano, Kaduna, Delta, Edo, Anambra, Imo, and Abia, will improve the capacity and reliability of the Nigerian transmission grid where it is most constrained. Executed by the Transmission Company of Nigeria), NTEP1 is part of a $1.6 billion Transmission Rehabilitation and Expansion Programme (TREP).

“Nigerians and their businesses spend $14 billion annually on inefficient and expensive petrol or diesel-powered generators. This project will contribute significantly to the reduction of Nigeria’s power deficit, decrease air and noise pollution and reduce the cost of doing business,” Ebrima Faal, the Bank’s Senior Director for Nigeria, said.

The Bank’s financing, comprising a $160 million loan, and an additional $50 million loan from the Africa Growing Together Fund, will support construction of 330kV double circuit quad transmission lines and substations across the country. The project will upgrade existing 263 km of 330kV lines, while adding an additional 204 KM of new lines to increase TCN’s wheeling capacity, stabilize the grid and reduce transmission losses.
Upon completion, the project will significantly improve Nigeria’s electricity supply, and directly impact the economy, industries, businesses and the quality of life of Nigerians.

The project will also reduce the use of small-scale diesel generators and therefore contribute to the reduction of GHG emissions by saving approximately 11,460ktCO2 per year. The project will create about 2,000 direct jobs- 1,500 during construction and 500 during operations – especially for youth: 30% of these jobs are expected to be taken by women.  By increasing electricity supplies to Small and Medium Enterprises, the project will foster the creation of additional indirect jobs.

Wale Shonibare, the Bank’s Acting Vice-President for Power & Energy said implementation of the project would increase evacuation capacity from the south of the country towards the north, where power supply is limited.   “NTEP1 will increase the grid transmission stability and capacity, and reduce the amount of stranded power, whilst improving power export and regional power system integration to the West African Power pool, especially through Niger and Benin interconnections,” he said.

Highlighting the project’s contribution to regional integration efforts, Batchi Baldeh, the Bank’s Director for Power Systems Development said it would benefit from the Bank’s expertise and proven track record in leading the development of power grids across the continent, notably in West Africa, with many successful operations supporting the implementation of interconnectors. “In line with our work to improve utility performance, NTEP1 will substantially strengthen the capacity of TCN with regards to the development of energy infrastructure projects, especially the adoption of modern and more efficient transmission technologies, which are most required in Nigeria for network improvements,” said Baldeh.

NTEP-1 is part of the Bank’s response to the power sector crisis in Nigeria and is aligned with the government’s strategic plans articulated in its Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020) and Power Sector Recovery Programme. The project also aligns with the Bank’s High 5 priority to ‘Light up and Power Africa” and the New Deal on Energy in Africa.

*AFDB

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Guinea-Bissau: African Development Bank presents the Lusophone Compact to private sector at Economic Forum
November 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank presented the Lusophone Compact to the private sector in Guinea-Bissau last month, during an event at the national Economic Forum.

The Lusophone Compact, a financing platform involving the African Development Bank, Portugal, and the six Portuguese-speaking countries of Africa (PALOPs), provides risk mitigation, investment products and technical assistance to accelerate private sector development in Lusophone African countries (Angola, Cabo Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe).

About 100 participants, including government representatives, international partners, local and foreign investors, attended the government-sponsored event, which was also attended by Guinea-Bissau Minister of Economy and Finance Geraldo Martins, and Antonio de Carvalho, Portuguese Ambassador to Guinea Bissau.

Opening the session, Martins described the occasion as “an important event to ensure that local stakeholders have a full understanding of the tools available.” He told attendees that the event followed the signing of the Lusophone Compact on  26 July 2019, in the presence of Teresa Ribeiro, Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Portugal.

Ambassor de Carvalho, highlighted the importance of the Compact to strengthen the Lusophone cooperation in Africa, mentioning the commercial and risk mitigation garantees to be offered by Portugal.  

Joel Muzima, Bank principal country economist for the Bank, highlighted the positive partnership between the Bank and the Government of Guinea-Bissaua, reflected by the growing portfolio in areas of governance, agriculture and infrastructure development.  He urged the private sector to present bankable projects to take advantage of the Lusophone Compact and leverage financial resources for development. 

Projects eligible under the Compact are expected to align with the Bank’s development priorities, relevant country strategy papers and national development plans and involve the host country and at least two other Compact signatories. Focus will primary be on renewable energies, agribusiness and agricultural value chains, water and sanitation, infrastructures, tourism, financing and ICT.

There is also the provision for technical assistance projects to accelerate private sector and PPP growth.  In Guinea-Bissau and elsewhere, project preparation has been identified as one of the main impediments to making projects bankable.

*AFDB

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Hola, Madrid! African Development Bank takes the continent’s climate agenda to COP25 in Spain
November 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

The Bank is playing a leading role in guiding progress on climate change on the continent. The Bank has doubled its total climate change commitment to $25 billion between 2020 and 2025.

The African Development Bank will on Monday kick off a campaign to present the continent’s case at the world’s leading climate change conference.

The 25th session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) comes at a crucial time for the globe and Africa in particular. In recent years, rising temperatures have wreaked havoc with weather patterns, leading to suffocating heat and devastating storms. In Africa, the climate has exacerbated food shortages and destroyed infrastructure.

African countries know all too well the risks posed by climate change, said Wale Shonibare, the Bank’s Acting Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth. He cited the devastating impact of Cyclones Idai and Kenneth in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Tanzania and the Comoros earlier this year.

“However, Africa also offers climate smart investment opportunities – from country-led innovation centers, to transformative renewable energy initiatives. For example, this year, the Bank approved financing for the first on-grid solar power public-private partnership in Chad, under the Desert to Power initiative,” Shonibare said.

Projects like Desert to Power will be highlighted at COP 25, which will from 2 to 13 December bring together leaders and institutions from 196 nations plus the European Union, who have signed up to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

At the heart of the matter are the Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs, which form part of the landmark Paris Agreement, signed in 2015 during COP21 in the French capital. The NDCs are specific climate change targets that each country must set.

The Paris Agreement has been ratified by 51 out of 54 African countries. It binds countries to cutting carbon emissions to ensure that global temperatures do not rise by more than 2°C by the end of this century, while attempting to contain it within 1.5°C.

Climate finance is another issue that will top the agenda at COP25 in Madrid.

“2020 is a critical year in securing adequate resources for African countries to meet their Paris Agreement commitments, clarity and transparency on global climate finance access is essential to deliver climate action faster and at scale,” said Anthony Nyong, Director Climate Change and Green Growth Department at the African Development Bank.

The African Development Bank is joining the other Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) in a pavilion to showcase the joint commitment to combatting climate change. The Bank will participate in several panel discussions at COP25, and will support the advocacy efforts of its regional member countries. The Bank is playing a leading role in guiding progress on climate change on the continent. Some of its achievements are:

  • More than 50% of 2019 climate finance allocated to adaptation projects.
  • 85% of investments are screened for climate risk and for greenhouse gas emissions. The Bank’s ambition is to screen all projects by 2020.
  • By next year, 40% of the Bank’s own investments will be dedicated to climate finance.
  • The Bank has doubled its total climate change commitment to $25 billion between 2020 and 2025, with more than half of it going to adaptation.

Read more here on the African Development Bank’s role at COP25 or follow us for updates on

*AFDB

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2019 Global Gender Summit marks concrete gains and actionable goals to surge ahead on gender equality
November 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

Highlights of the Summit include the launch of:

  • AFAWA risk-sharing facility to de-risk lending to women
  • 50 Million African Women Speak, a Pan-African networking platform
  • Joint UNECA-African Development bank Gender index

“We’ve known it from the beginning that equality and women’s empowerment is the true way for sustainable development,” Rwanda’s Minister of Gender and Family Promotion, Solina Nyirahabimana told reporters at a 2019 Global Gender Summit press conference on Tuesday.

“During this past 25 years, we have been concentrating on gender equality, starting by creating a conducive environment, uprooting, revising, and abolishing discriminative laws. We’ve worked tirelessly to have women included in the financial sector,” Nyirahabimana said.

“When you don’t understand women, you can’t serve them.”

More than 1,200 delegates are in Kigali, Rwanda for the 2019 Global Gender Summit including distinguished guests such as the President of Rwanda Paul Kagame; the President of Ethiopia, Sahle-Work Zewde; the African Union Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, and the First Ladies of Rwanda and Kenya. Also in attending are representatives of the heads of state of Gabon, Mali, Senegal, Chad, and the King of Morocco and gender ministers from Niger, Somalia, Senegal, South Sudan, Tunisia, and Libya.

African Development Bank Group Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Dr. Jennifer Blanke, told journalists that much of Summit conversation centered around growing awareness that women need to be part of the development solution.  “Women are a force to be unleashed and supported to ensure that they can really do their part in development in Africa. Women are already such a hugely important part of the development process,” she said.

Key highlights from the 2019 Global Gender Summit include the:

  • Launch of the risk-sharing facility for the Bank-led Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, or AFAWA, programme – to support the program’s three-pronged approach, which seeks to quickly close the gender gap by facilitating access to finance, providing technical assistance and creating an enabling business environment for women-led businesses to thrive.
  •  50 Million African Women Speak – a new Pan-African networking platform and web and mobile-based application to directly connect 50 million African women entrepreneurs. The platform links women to financial institutions and provides networking opportunities across Africa.
  • The joint United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)-African Development Bank Africa Gender Index – a report that assesses African countries on gender equality.
  • Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and mobile app – the first ever digital B2B and B2C pan-African networking platform, dedicated to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises operating in the African textile, apparel and accessories industries.

Also speaking at the press conference marking the close of the Summit’s multilateral development bank segment, the Chairperson of the Multilateral Development Banks’ Gender working group Chairperson, Sonomi Tanaka, said summit discussions were productive and some African countries are carrying out good practices. However, Tanaka noted the critical importance of data in development policies working toward gender equality. “Again and again, this is something that is coming up. This lack of data comes up across any topic…and data is one area we need to continue to focus on,” she said.

Elaborating on the data challenge, Blanke said, “There is a dearth of data on these issues. The bottom line is if we don’t measure it, you don’t do it. If you don’t measure, it means you don’t care about it – and we care about it.”

This Tuesday press conference was the latest in a series of Global Gender Summit activities that will see delegates attend Summit partner-organized workshops, trainings and technical sessions on Wednesday. The Global Gender Summit is organized by The African Development Bank, with other multilateral development bank partners. The biennial event brings together leaders from government, development institutions, the private sector, civil society, and academia.

Under the theme “Unpacking constraints to gender equality,” the Summit’s conversations and dialogue focuses on scaling up innovative financing, enabling legal, regulatory, and institutional environments; and securing women’s participation and voices.

Commenting on the Summit outcome Blanke noted: “The Summit has been all about doing. Doing more and doing it fast.”

*AFDB

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