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AAI Takes Third State of Education Conference To Kenya
April 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

AAI CEO Kofi Appenteng

AAI CEO Kofi Appenteng

In furtherance of one of its core missions of building the capacity of Africans through education and training, The Africa-America Institute is hosting the Third State of Education Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Taking place from May 3-4, the Conference is expected to bring together educators and innovators from around the world to help advance the progress of primary, secondary, tertiary, technical, vocational and post-graduate higher education in Africa.

With a galloping youth population, the AAI seeks through the Conference to elevate and mainstream the conversation on education as a key component of the economic development narrative of Africa. According to information from the AAI website, The State of Education In Africa Conference aims to have a solution-driven conversation with policy-makers, educators, administrators, philanthropists and those interested in capacity building about the challenges and opportunities in education on the African continent

Education is crucial in helping Africa decide its future says Ghanaian-born Kofi Appenteng, who has served as President and CEO of the AAI for the last six months. Interviewed in Washington, DC, recently on his return from a trip to Kenya, Mr. Appenteng said with the rapidly growing youth population, it was important to take regular stock of new approaches to education and training.

Started by his predecessor Aminu Kajunju with the Ford Foundation as leading partner, the conferences have helped to foster greater collaboration between African countries and global partners. Considering the challenging context that African countries find themselves, there are still a number of good stories, said Kofi Appenteng in describing the current state of education of in Africa. While resources may be an issue, Mr. Appenteng sees in the strength and genius of the African youth a reason to be optimistic about the future.

Education is crucial in helping Africa decide its future says Kofi Appenteng

Education is crucial in helping Africa decide its future says Kofi Appenteng

In existence for the last 63 years, makingAAI Alumni are found in virtually every part of Africa, including two sitting Presidents in Hage Geingob of Namibia and Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast. The AAI stays in close touch with its Alumni and is proud of their efforts to make an impact on their communities, said Kofi Appenteng.

On the future of U S-African ties under the Trump Administration, Mr Appenteng said it was too early say. There is no expectation that it is any one government policy that will change the fortunes of Africa, he said, citing fresh perspectives from other private sector actors, and NGO’s in creating new opportunities for Africa.

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Singapore Company Invests in Namibia’s Kudu Gas Project
April 15, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire
BW Kudu Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of BW Offshore Singapore
Pvt Ltd has entered into investment agreement with the National
Petroleum Corporation of Namibia (NAMCOR) which is expected to see the
Namibian company boosting power generation capacity for the country.
According to Immanuel Mulunga, NAMCOR Managing Director, the company
has agreed to accept an investment offer from BW Kudu Limited for a
56% working interest in the offshore 885 megawatt kudu gas field.

It is reported that BW Offshore, a joint Norwegian/Singaporean owned
company is one of the world’s leading suppliers and operators of
offshore floating production systems with extensive experience in the
development of offshore fields.
NAMCOR has also agreed to transfer the role of field operator to BW
Kudu, but will work closely together with BW Kudu within a joint
development team as the field is prepared for the final investment
decision and the subsequent field development.This will include the
drilling of production wells, the construction of sub-sea and gas
transmission pipelines and the installation of a floating production
system.

It is also further reported that the Kudu Gas to Power project is a
key strategic power generation project for Namibia, which is expected
to witness decreased reliance on imported power and accelerate
economic development.It involves the development of the offshore Kudu
gas field to deliver gas through a 170km long pipeline to a power
station to be built at Uubvlei, some 25 kilometres northeast of
Oranjemund. The station will be connected to the Namibian and South
African electricity grids by new transmission lines.

BW Offshore CEO Carl Arnet said that Kudu represents another
opportunity for BW Kudu to take a proactive development role in a
project that will produce for 15 to 25 years.He said that the
electricity generated by the power station will reshape electricity
supply in south-western Africa, providing a secure long term supply to
support the development of Namibia and potentially neigbouring countries.

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Trump Doubles Down On Ex-Military Talent For The White House’s Top Africa Job
April 13, 2017 | 0 Comments

Retired Lt. Col. Rudolph Atallah will be senior director for Africa on the White House National Security Council, a White House official tells BuzzFeed News.

By John Hudson*

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has offered a retired lieutenant colonel with decades of experience in special forces and counterterrorism the position of White House senior director for Africa, a White House official told BuzzFeed News.

The selection of Rudolph Atallah, a respected fellow at the Atlantic Council who served for more than 20 years in the US Air Force, adds another veteran to a National Security Council (NSC) stacked with former military officials.

The pick also fills a major void on the NSC where Africa policy has largely remained a mystery given President Donald Trump’s scant remarks about the continent and the aborted selection of the previous senior director for Africa candidate after the CIA denied his top security clearance.

For Africa, particularly, the abundance of officials with military backgrounds on the NSC has raised concerns about an over-emphasis on counterterrorism rather than other issues that affect the continent, such as development assistance and human rights.

The first signal of a potential change in US priorities came in January when Trump transition officials submitted a four-page list of Africa-related questions to career US officials that suggested a lack of interest in humanitarian and development goals.

Then came the administration’s budget blueprint, released in March, that cut the budget for the State Department and US Agency for International Development by nearly 30% and eliminated some executive agencies such as the US African Development Foundation, which supports development projects in 30 African countries. If enacted, the changes would have a disproportionate effect on Africa given its status as the biggest recipient of US foreign aid than any other continent.

But Africa analysts familiar with Atallah’s work said his depth of experience wasn’t likely to limit his outlook on the range of challenges facing African countries.

“Though he is best known for his work on East Africa and counterterrorism issues, he has broad experience that cuts across regions and policy areas,” Matthew Page, a consultant and former State Department Africa analyst, told BuzzFeed News.

Others said that Atallah’s background fits the expanded responsibilities of the position. Unlike under the Obama administration, Trump’s senior director for Africa will be responsible for Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya, countries previously under the Middle East portfolio. Not only will his background in counterterrorism operations prove valuable for North Africa, his supporters said, but so too will his fluency in Arabic.

“True, Atallah has a military background, but his knowledge of troubled parts of Africa will add value,” said Rida Lyammouri, a Sahel analyst and researcher.

As a Christian born in Beirut, Lebanon, Atallah comes to the NSC with a unique background and a skepticism of radical Islam, said an Africa analyst, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he worked with Atallah in previous jobs. But his ex-colleague noted that Atallah has traveled extensively in Africa and worked cordially with people of many faiths, including Muslims. “We’re not talking Sebastian Gorka territory,” he said, referring to a current White House official with a long history of aggressive and disparaging comments about Islam.

While serving in the Air Force, he gained experience in aviation, intelligence, special operations and counterterrorism. In his last posting in the military, from 2003 to 2009, he served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense as Africa Counterterrorism Director. In the dual-hatted role, he also served as East Africa Director between 2003 and 2009.

Attallah is also an amateur photographer who boasts an impressive body of work from his travels.

For skeptics, the pick is an affirmation of the Trump administration’s preference toward a security-based approach to Africa that might not address problems holistically. “I look at this as the continuation of the administration’s counterterrorism focus more than anything else,” said his former colleague. “If the focus is only counterterrorism in Africa that means we’re missing really important issues of governance, and we’re not really paying attention to the problems that have allowed terrorist groups to blossom.”

Critics of this approach worry that the US might turn a blind eye to African governments with troubling human rights records, such as Niger and Kenya, as long as they remain reliable counterterrorism partners.

But Atallah’s defenders said his breadth of experiences gives him a far broader aperture than his critics acknowledge. “Rudy won’t approach his new job with a partisan political or deconstructionist agenda,” said Page, “but most likely will seek to reboot US Africa policy and forge consensus between the White House and a likely wary and suspicious set of decision makers spread across multiple other agencies.”

*Buzzfeed.John Hudson is a Foreign Affairs Reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C.

Contact John Hudson at john.hudson@buzzfeed.com.

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Africa: Kenya’s Internet Speed Ranked Fastest in Africa
April 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

Kenya’s internet is faster, and cheaper as compared to many countries around the world a report by Akamai, a leading Content Delivery Network revealed. Out of the 108 countries sampled globally, Kenya ranked number 23, and the country is the top ranked African country, with the fastest internet connectivity speed. The fast and reliable internet in Kenya has significantly influenced the improvement of e-commerce, generating enormous social, and economic benefits for the country.

Kenya’s internet speed and connectivity is faster, and cheaper as compared to many countries around the world a report by Akamai, a leading Content Delivery Network (CDN) has revealed.

Out of the 108 countries that were sampled globally, Kenya ranked number 23, and the country is the top ranked African country, with the fastest internet connectivity speed. South Korea has the highest average connection speed globally at 26.1 megabytes per second (Mbps).

Akamai aims to make the internet fast, reliable, and secure for its customers.

In most African countries internet is expensive, and speeds are generally slow. In Kenya several internet providers such as Safaricom, Airtel and Orange have upgraded their speeds to the benefit of their customers, and such upgrades have had a positive impact on the economy.

The reliable internet in Kenya has significantly influenced the improvement of electronic-commerce. Many Kenyans are now able to bank and transact online, download music and videos while the uptake of e-learning resources and usage of social media platforms has also greatly improved over the past few years.

According to the report, Kenya overtook third-quarter leader Israel to gain the top spot for average connection speeds among the surveyed Middle East and Africa countries in the fourth quarter. The country has had a tremendous growth in high-speed connectivity in the past years.

The report further said, Kenya has an impressive average of 15mbps followed by Israel at 14.4mbps, South Africa recorded 6.6 mbps, Morocco 5.2 mbps, and Nigeria 4.1 mbps.

Kenya’s National broadband strategy

The improvement to Kenya’s connection speeds and broadband adoption rates is attributed to the successful implementation of the National Broadband Strategy (NBS). The vision of this broadband strategy has been to see the transformation of the country to a knowledge-based society driven by a high capacity nationwide broadband network.

The overall objective of this strategy is to provide quality broadband services to all citizens.

“The strategy has enabled the government to roll out the National Optic Fibre Broadband Infrastructure that has linked all the counties to the Internet by fibre cable. Fibre cable ground installation and provision of 4G network coverage has contributed to the high speeds and efficiency in connectivity,” Joseph Mucheru, the Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Information said.

 Access to fast and reliable internet has the potential to generate enormous social economic benefits for the country. The benefits include economic growth, job creation, growth of investment opportunities, access to online government services, improved education and training services, improved national safety and security services among others.

Top ranked countries with high speed internet connectivity:

South Korea: 26.1Mbps

Norway: 23.6Mbps

Sweden: 22.817.3Mbps

Hong Kong: 21.9Mbps

Switzerland: 21.23Mbps

Denmark: 20.7Mbps

Finland 20.6Mbps

Singapore: 20.2Mbps

Japan: 19.6Mbps

Netherlands: 17.6Mbps

*AllAfrica/This is Africa

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Former U.S. president Bush touts signature Africa AIDS program in Botswana
April 5, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Ed Stoddard *

Former US President George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Former US President George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Former U.S. President George W. Bush touted his signature aid project for Africa during a visit to Botswana on Tuesday, saying he hoped Washington would recognize its importance in saving lives threatened by AIDS.

Launched in 2003 during the first Bush administration, PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, is the world’s largest provider of AIDS-fighting medicine and has branched out over the years to include provision of services for cervical cancer, which is linked to HIV infections in women.

U.S. President Donald Trump has proposed steep cuts in the budget for diplomacy and foreign aid but his administration has so far said it will “maintain current commitments and all current patient levels on HIV/AIDS treatment” under PEPFAR.

Bush, visiting a clinic with his wife Laura that provides screening and treatment for cervical cancer, said he hoped such commitments would remain.

Former US President George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Former US President George W. Bush greets children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

“I hope our government when they analyze what works around the world will understand that PEPFAR has saved over 11 million lives,” he said.

 “And while progress has been made we’ve got to continue to stay in this battle in order to save lives. Every human life matters. And I hope the people of America understand that through their generosity millions now live.”

Bush said cervical cancer was now the leading cause of death among women in Botswana, a sparsely-populated southern African nation where one in five adults is infected with HIV, according to the United Nations.

Former US President George W. Bush poses for a photograph with children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017.  REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Former US President George W. Bush poses for a photograph with children at a school in Gaborone, Botswana, April 4, 2017. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Bush, a Republican, had historically low popularity ratings – about 33 percent – when he left office.

But the Obama ministration maintained PEPFAR and the program enjoys bipartisan support – a rarity in Washington’s polarized atmosphere.

Pink Ribbon Red Ribbon, an initiative of the George W. Bush Institute, works with PEPFAR on programs to reduce mortality rates among women from cervical and breast cancer in developing countries.

*Reuters

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`Ten Things to Know About Dr. Tedros Adhanom, Candidate for WHO-Director General’
April 4, 2017 | 0 Comments
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,

In May this year, the World Health Organization (WHO), the world’s premier international public health agency, will elect a new Director-General to lead the organization when Dr. Margaret Chan steps down in July. The importance of this role, cannot be underestimated. Pandemics, pollution, poverty and war all add to the complexity of preserving the health of the world’s almost 7 billion citizens.

A cool head, informed professionalism, and high-level organizational experience will be needed. While three candidates remain in the nominee field, Dr. Tedros Adhanom of Ethiopia – a champion for global health priorities both nationally and internationally – stands as the most experienced, visionary, and veteran `problem-solving’ leader to take on this most important public health position.

Why? Here are ten things you might not know about Dr. Tedros and his candidacy:

1. Over three decades, Dr. Tedros demonstrated a unique mix of political leadership and hands-on public health experience.

 2. As Ethiopia’s Minister of Health he has greatly improved health outcomes in a country/region hardest hit by many of the world’s biggest health challenges; his comprehensive agenda of reform dramatically transformed the country’s health system.

3. Dr. Tedros increased access to health care with limited resources and community engagement, using primary health care as a platform; investing in critical infrastructure, expanding the health workforce and initiating pioneering financing mechanisms.

4. By overseeing the training/deployment of 38,000 health extension workers, (a `health development army’) his efforts created a community-based system with nearly 3 million women at its core; leading to a seven-fold increase in health professionals and a capacity increase of doctor training from 3 medical schools to 33 schools.

5. Under Dr. Tedros leadership, the Ministry of Health developed an integrated, household-based information management system which documents the health history of each family member; resulting in improvements in data collection, monitoring and evaluation.

6. Health insurance in Ethiopia now provides people in both the formal/informal sectors with full coverage of health services; leading Ethiopia to be the first country to sign a global compact with the `International Health Partnership’.

7. Dr. Tedros also helped establish the pooled MDG Health Fund, facilitating the allocation of ear-marked/disease-specific funding to address pressing health needs.

8. With the establishment of `Ethiopia’s Pharmaceutical Supply Fund Agency’, Dr. Tedros instituted transparent and accountable business processes, ensuring the availability of a reliable supply of affordable, quality-assured medicines.

9. Dr. Tedros showed impressive leadership and broad understanding of valuable partnerships/relationships as Board Chair, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB & Malaria; Board Chair, Roll Back Malaria Partnership; Board Co-Chair, Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health; and Chair, UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board.

10. In being elected to lead the WHO, Dr. Tedros will make history as the first African to head the organization.

In a lifetime of service, Dr. Tedros Adhanom has used his proven political, diplomatic and negotiation skills to continue to build a healthier world for all people – a goal he will undoubtedly work towards when elected to be the next Director-General of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Tedros will be travelling in your part of the world soon and is available for phone and print interviews. For reference, the WHO election will take place on May 23rd in Geneva, Switzerland at the 70th session of the World Health Assembly.

Follow Dr. Tedros on his website: http://www.drtedros.com/, on Facebook.com/DrTedros.Official and follow Dr. Tedros on Twitter at @DrTedros.

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AfDB Calls for a “Revolution” in Providing Energy Access Solutions
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments
Adesina

Adesina

The African Development Bank (AfDB) brought together more than 180 stakeholders across the off-grid energy sector on Tuesday, March 28, in the context of “Energy Week” at the Bank’s headquarters in Abidjan to discuss interventions to support the scale-up of energy access investments. The overarching objective was to unleash an “Off-Grid Energy Revolution”, to provide up to 75 million households and businesses not covered by the power grid with modern, clean and affordable electricity using decentralized solar technologies.

During the plenary session of the Off-Grid Revolution consultation workshop, opening remarks were given by Bank President Akinwumi Adesina; the Minister of Oil, Energy and Energy Development of Côte d’Ivoire, Thierry Tanoh; and the Minister of Energy of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Henry Macauley.

President Adesina said, “Africa’s energy potential is as enormous as its electricity deficit. We must move quickly to unlock this energy potential. We must be smart, efficient, sustainable and quick in our actions.” The Off-Grid Revolution stakeholder consultation comes under the framework of the New Deal on Energy for Africa, which aims to provide universal energy access to all Africans by 2025.

“Although we can employ mix of approaches, off-grid solutions must be at the core of our approach to achieve the ambitious electricity access targets that we have set,” Adesina added.

The future of off-grid energy solutions is bright. Amadou Hott, the AfDB Vice-President for Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth, noted that millions of Africans have recently been connected to electricity by start-ups, driven by plummeting costs of solar photovoltaic (PV) and batteries, innovations in mobile payments and wireless communications technologies. “These businesses are increasing energy access across Africa faster, more cheaply, and more widely than conventional grid extension,” said Hott.

In break-out sessions, participants discussed the issues related to access to financing, risk mitigation, enabling environment and appropriate business models to scale up the energy access in Africa. Overall, stakeholders reiterated the need for a stronger political will by governments, ensure long-term integrated planning of off-grid and on-grid, and to develop the local ecosystem including manufacturing, skills development. Stakeholders also agreed on the need for more patient capital and local currency financing, hedging tools to mitigate foreign exchange risks, and to improve the credit scoring data.

The meeting was attended by leading and emerging businesses, country-representatives, civil society, industry bodies, local financial institutions, key development partners, technology providers, impact investors and AfDB staff.

About the Off-Grid Revolution

The AfDB – under its New Deal for Energy for Africa (NDEA) Strategy – has set an aspirational target of “off-grid” electricity access target of reaching 75 million connections by end of 2025. This can only be achieved through an unprecedented collaboration across a wide spectrum of committed partners. Against this backdrop, the Bank convened the “Off-Grid Revolution” workshop to define towards a suite of interventions to support the scale-up of “off grid” investment. The event is part of the Energy Week, a series of events, including high-level discussions and partnerships focusing on lighting up and powering Africa, and unlocking Africa’s huge energy potential co-organised and hosted by the AfDB. Energy Week runs from Monday, March 27 to Friday, March 31, 2017 in Abidjan.

About the AfDB’s Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Complex

The Power, Energy, Climate Change and Green Growth Sector Complex (PEVP), was created to fulfill the objectives of “Light Up and Power Africa” – principally achieving universal access to electricity by 2025. The Complex will accomplish this by building Africa’s energy systems while ensuring green growth. The entire development ecosystem for operational effectiveness, scale, socio- economic, and environmental impact will be taken into account. The New Deal on Energy for Africa, together with the inter-connected flagship programs is a top initiative of PEVP.

*AllAfrica. Read full Speech here

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Kenya Sex Podcast Encourages Sexuality Dialogue
March 31, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Rael Ombuor*

A screen shot taken from the video podcast of 'The Spread' in Nairobi, Kenya.

A screen shot taken from the video podcast of ‘The Spread’ in Nairobi, Kenya.

Nini Wacera and Karen Lucas are known as the “sex queens” of Nairobi. In a rather conservative country, they co-host a popular podcast called “The Spread.” The project is aimed at opening dialogue about sexuality, providing information on sexuality to people of all ages, focusing specifically on the youth.

The platform kicked off in 2015 after Lucas and co-presenter Wacera noted that no one was having conversations with the youth about sex. There was a platform on the continent, and in Kenya specifically, for a sexuality-based talk show.

“It’s the way we were raised and it has a lot to do with religion and sort of like the religious beliefs that are pushed upon us and being told by our elders that certain things are wrong but I think it’s changing, there is a new wave and new generation of people who are a lot more open. If we can sort of spearhead that in Kenya then we are very happy to do that. It’s about unlearning all of the things we have been told are bad and taboo,” said Lucas.

A wide range of topics are discussed on the show, from sexual health, body image, pornography and the dangers associated with sex and sexual abuse to HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

“There are many things that can be avoided, teenage pregnancies and the rise of HIV amongst our children, sexual abuse. If we are having conversations with our children about sex and sexuality all of this things can be avoided or reduced in our country,” said Lucas.

Twenty-nine year old Cathy Sonia is an ardent listener. Growing up, she struggled with her sexual identity; she had no one to talk to about it.

“A lot of us are raised to believe that sex is more of a private issue. It never comes across to our parents to talk to us about sex, that never happens and so as kids we grow up believing that that’s just a taboo,” said Sonia.

She said the show has helped her understand her sexuality.

“At the end of the day, the podcast is informative, it gives you informed information or informed knowledge so that at the end of the day, the teenager or the child is aware that sex is ok at the end of the day, that it is not a taboo. It is not something to be ashamed of, It is normal. It is just like eating.”

The Kenya Film and Classification Board is the government agency mandated to regulate the creation, broadcasting and distribution of films in the country. The Kenya Information and Communications Act empowers this agency to promote national values and morality. Its CEO, Ezekiel Mutual, says podcast produced in Kenya falls under the boards mandate.

He said he supports The Spread, but insists that ‘morality’ should be maintained. As long as the podcast does not promote homosexuality, he is fine with it.

“There are levels that could create an offense, but the discussions about sexuality in itself are very healthy, I think we need to provide this platforms for guys to talk about it,” said Mutual.

“We cannot continue to bury our heads in the sand and assume that the subject of Homosexuality is not happening in Kenya. It is happening, therefore I encourage the conversation. My problem would be, people who are in it should not use it to create misleading information that this is the norm or this is what should be in Kenya. If they are discussing the challenges, if they want to find help, if they want to find confidence in discussing and finding solutions among them, I have no problem.”

The Spread continues to channel sex-positive messages. The presenters said they will continue to support and promote young people’s healthy sexual development through their broadcasts.

*VOA

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Kenyans abroad are the biggest senders of mobile to mobile remittances
March 29, 2017 | 0 Comments

As M-PESA turns 10, data shows 93% of WorldRemit’s money transfers to Kenya go to mobile money accounts.

To mark the 10th anniversary of ground-breaking mobile money service M-PESA, WorldRemit  has released new data showing that the Kenyan diaspora is the biggest sender of digital remittances to mobile accounts.

Transfers to mobile money accounts make up 93% of WorldRemit transactions to Kenya now – showing that Kenyans continue to be early adopters of innovative technology, even when abroad.

Mobile money has played a key role in the growth of WorldRemit’s Kenyan customer base, attracted by the low price, speed and convenience of sending instant remittances from the app or website directly to a mobile phone in Kenya.

  • In January 2017, WorldRemit customers transferred more than $140m (at annualised rate) to Kenya, making WorldRemit one of the largest remittance companies serving the Kenyan diaspora.
  • Top remittance-sending countries are the UK, Australia, US, Germany, Canada and Nordic countries.
  • Around three million Kenyans live abroad, with large communities in North America, Europe and Australia.
  • Remittances play an important role in Kenya’s economy – inward remittances reached a record value of just under $161m in November 2016, according to the Central Bank of Kenya, making it one of the nation’s top earners.
  • WorldRemit is now connected to over a fifth of all mobile money accounts – 112 million of 500 million mobile money accounts around the world.
  • 74% of all international remittances to mobile money accounts coming from money transfer operators are sent via WorldRemit.

The company has pioneered mobile to mobile remittances, sending to 32 mobile money services in 24 countries – more than any other money transfer service.

Globally, WorldRemit customers send more than 580,000 transfers every month to over 140 destinations. WorldRemit makes sending money as easy as sending an instant message.

Ismail Ahmed, Founder and CEO at WorldRemit, comments: Kenya is famed for leading Africa’s digital transformation, and today it’s Kenyans abroad who are at the forefront of digitising international money transfers. Most of our Kenyan customers use our mobile app, demonstrating the strong demand for convenience when sending to friends and family.

“With half a billion registered accounts worldwide, mobile money continues to transform lives by allowing people to access financial services for the first time. WorldRemit customers now send more than 65,000 transfers to the country every month from the WorldRemit app and website with over 90% going to M-PESA”.

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What If You Held An African Summit And No Africans Could Come?
March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments

By *

Photo illustration by David Malan/Getty Images

Photo illustration by David Malan/Getty Images

The African Global Economic and Development Summit took place at the University of Southern California from March 16th to 18th.

None of the approximately 60 invited guests from Africa were able to attend.

The problem was that none of the African delegates were able to get U.S. visas.

Humphrey Mutaasa from the mayor’s office in Kampala, Uganda, had organized a delegation of 11 business leaders from Uganda to attend the African Global Economic and Development Summit at the University of Southern California.

He says it was a very high level group of leaders from private businesses, the Ugandan ministry of trade, chambers of commerce and the Kampala mayor’s office.

“The delegation that was coming from Uganda to that summit was very, very disappointed,” he says.

The conference was first held in 2013 and seeks to strengthen business ties between U.S. investors and African companies, says summit chairwoman Mary Flowers.

Visa problems have been an issue before, she says. In the past, she says roughly 40 percent of African invitees are unable to get the papers they need to attend, mainly due to a combination of red tape and bureaucracy.

It’s hard to find out exactly why.

Delegations were invited from 12 countries across the continent. None of them were from the three African nations (Libya, Somalia and Sudan) covered by President Trump’s executive order temporarily banning travel from 6 majority Muslim countries.

Flowers speculates new vetting procedures put in place by the Trump administration are discriminating against travelers from Africa.

“Obviously because this has never happened before,” she says of the inability of anyone to come.

The White House has called for “enhanced screening and vetting of applications for visas” worldwide as part of stepped up efforts to keep out terrorists.

A State Department official on background tells NPR that they can’t comment on any individual visa applications but says all applications are screened on a case-by-case basis. And the eligibility requirements for getting a visa haven’t changed.

Some of the African delegates to the summit say their visa applications were denied because they didn’t show a compelling reason why they would return home after the event. Others say bureaucratic hurdles were so big that they were not able to submit a visa application in the first place.

Humphrey Mutaasa in Kampala says the online application is complicated. You can’t even see how long the process will take until after you’ve paid a $160 application fee at a local bank. Then you have to wait a day to get a confirmation code to book an interview at the U.S. embassy.

“Then when you’ve finished that and you have the codes from the bank … there are the challenges of internet connectivity,” he says. “When you get online then the calendar [from the Embassy] will tell you the whole of February, there are no appointments, You can only secure an appointment after the 15th of March.”

Which meant he wouldn’t have a ruling on his visa until after the three day conference had concluded.

The end result of this year’s visa outcome, says Flowers, is going to be fewer connections between American business and the continent.

“I don’t know whether there’s some secret message going to the U.S. embassies in these African countries but it’s ridiculous,” she says. “The [visa] process was already somewhat discriminatory against the African nations in the past. We don’t know what the story is now but I do hope that America remains open to the world.”

*NPR

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South Africa’s maize output seen rising 84 percent in 2017
March 25, 2017 | 0 Comments
A maize field is seen below electricity pylons in Mpumalanga province, north of Johannesburg, March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A maize field is seen below electricity pylons in Mpumalanga province, north of Johannesburg, March 1, 2016. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African farmers are expected to harvest 84 percent more maize this season compared with last season as yields were boosted by increased rains, a Reuters survey of five traders and market analysts showed on Friday.

The government’s Crop Estimates Committee (CEC), which will provide its second production forecast for the 2017 crop on Tuesday, is seen pegging the harvest at 14.35 million tonnes compared with 7.78 million tonnes last year.

The range was 14 million to 15.19 million hectares. The poll is 3 percent higher than the CEC’s last forecast of 13.918 million hectares following improved weather conditions brought by a La Nina weather system that is usually associated with wetter and cooler weather.

“Perfect growing weather in February is the big reason for the increase,” said one trader.

Improved weather conditions, since an El Nino induced drought which saw the driest year on record in 2015 and low maize yields, has lowered prices and helped improve the inflation outlook.

The white maize contract ending in May fell to more than a two and a half year low on Friday after it closed 5.49 percent down to 1,722 rand.

*Reuters

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Africa: Graça Machel – Africa Will Not Move Till Women Are in Charge
March 24, 2017 | 0 Comments

INTERVIEW

On Friday March 17, 2017, Ms Graça Machel, who is the founder of the Graça Machel Trust, launched in Dar es Salaam, a new initiative called Women Advancing Africa (WAA).

As a former first lady, and the wife of South Africa’s iconic leader Nelson Mandela, she has taken a leading role the economic liberation of women. The Citizen News Editor Esther Karin Mngodo met with Ms Machel to discuss the vision of one of Africa’s most revered women:

How did WAA begin?

Africa will not move till women are in charge says Graça Machel

Africa will not move till women are in charge says Graça Machel

We have recognisable women leaders in the political arena, and other sectoral meetings, such as health, telecoms, etc. But there is a void when it comes to a platform for women in the economic sphere. As a Trust, our focus has been on the economy.

We do focus on education and women’s rights. But when it comes to women’s rights, our focus is on the economy. We believe that is where progress has been low, and there is no clarity among women themselves on where they want to be in five or ten years.

So, we decided to launch this initiative we call Women Advancing Africa to recognise, celebrate, to value what we have achieved. To build connections, synergies, to encourage one another and to feel that this time is ours in a pan-african movement.

WAA isn’t the first to advocate for women’s financial inclusion. What makes it different from what is already there?

I must say there are some national and sub-regional initiatives. But we do not know of a pan-African space in which women come together and talk, strategise and plan together. And this is what we thought to begin to do every two years.

Women Advancing Africa is a platform for women in different sectors be in business, entrepreneurship, science, communications, to come together and say, where are we today and where do we want to be. We don’t believe in progress made by stand-alones. We believe that progress can be made at a national level when we bring together women associations existing to work together. Networking is always our option, whether you are in construction, mining, any field. You are not going to be able to move alone in your field.

There are things, which are common to all of us, regardless of which field we are. So, we base our work on national networks, but we believe also, barriers in Tanzania are also barriers in Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique. So, why should we struggle alone?

Any one of our countries have common issues with other countries on the continent, which have to be addressed as a movement. We must hold hands and share knowledge and expertise. That is what we offer through WAA. It is a space to walk hand-in-hand, a place to transmit the energy of creativity and innovation which exists in Nigeria and Ghana to influence women in Uganda and Rwanda.

 The energy of innovation and creativity which can be experienced in DRC to influence women in Malawi. That is how our pan-african movement will make us strong, united and unstoppable.

We claim our right to sit where decisions are made. We claim our right to shape policies, to shape plans and strategies. We claim our rights to access resources in a variety of forms – information, skills, financial, removal of legal obstacles. We want to be shoulder-to-shoulder with our partners, to change women are regarded and treated. There are very good policies. Yet in practice, women are not regarded as equal.

We are going to assert in this second struggle, that equality is not a favour. We know it is not going to be given to us, but we are going to conquer it. For us to do that, we need this space to learn from one another, to empower women, to fight this together, to set priorities on a common agenda. If we are fragmented, working at many things at the same time, we are not going to move or make progress.

In what ways would women be able to benefit from WAA?

WAA is a platform for women to discover where they can sell their products – how we can increase intra-Africa trade. It is important to trade with China, and the US, and the UK, but to transform this continent, we have to learn how to trade with other people – men and women – inside the continent. This is how you understand the market in Togo, where you have never heard of. And what kind of products you should sell in Niger. Talk to them and build a sisterhood. That is why we chose these pillars carefully, particularly for African markets. We have the ability to make it.

We would like to suggest that different leaders in business networks in this country, to take this as yours. You are the voice of other women. Do not be afraid to showcase what you have achieved. Tell the stories and allow people to speak on their own behalf. That is a principle to being free. And when you speak on your own behalf, you are also saying ‘we’ collectively agree. This is an opportunity for Tanzania to take the lead in this second liberation in Africa.

As a young girl, did you ever see yourself taking the role of a mother in Africa, leading a movement and uniting women across borders in the continent? How did you get here?

When we are much younger, we tend to look at the environment which we are. We seek for opportunities for us to grow and in the realities which you are propelled to be in a certain platform. That platform, opens to you eyes and ears to understand much broader issues than what you understood when you were much younger.

I never thought when I was in my primary or secondary education that I could be a special representative for the UN Secretary General. Once I did my work as Minister of Education, and fortunately, we developed some strategies which became reference for the global community to say, this is how we have to deal with children in situations of conflict, then they asked me to leave the team which was global under the UN. It was just an opportunity that was opened to me along the implementation of programs which I believed in and felt very strongly about. And then you grow in the process.

Coming to what I am doing now, I have been involved in promoting girls education. I am one of the founders of FAWE (Forum for African Women Educationalists). I participated on that. But also, I have been part of emancipation of women for political positions. In that process, I realised that there is something missing and that is the economic liberation of women in Africa.

While there are many others who are going to be part of the political struggle for women, like now we are looking at who is going to be the next female president when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf steps down, other people are working on that. I felt like no one is driving a pan african initiative in the economic area.

As a girl, I never saw myself as First Lady, I must say that. Even in my early years, I grew as Minister of Education and not as First Lady. Much later, even when I married Madiba, I had embraced my causes with women’s rights, I continued to do that. It wasn’t because I was Madiba’s wife.

I must say, one of the reasons we had this empathy and our identity came to meet each other is because we were concerned with the same issues. We discovered that the issues I was concerned with were the same as his. So we gave hand-to-hand with each other to continue to work together. But in my case, it was not the position of First Lady which has defined me to be in the platforms which I now am. And as you know, I lost my first husband and that was when I did my work with the United Nations. Now that Madiba is no longer there, I continue to do my work. I think it is the case of choosing the causes you embrace.

Why Tanzania?

We chose Tanzania because Tanzania is the cradle of political liberation. I am one of those who lived in that period of political liberation. All of us, we owe to Tanzania. We have learnt from Tanzania, lessons which have instilled our dreams and vision of what it means to empower people. We got in Tanzania, all kinds of support you can think of. In every village, everyone knew about Frelimo, ANC, Zanu and all of us.

We were supported by ordinary people in this nation. And the liberty of this country gave us what they could not even have for themselves. But they mobilised themselves to support the liberation movement. If we are free today, we have to bow to Tanzania today. We cannot thank you enough. But because words are short, we will say it a million times – thank you, thank you, thank you.

But because we believe that now we are in the second kind of liberation, which is the economic liberation, we thought we should come here to Tanzania for inspiration. We are here to connect with our history, our past, so we are grounded on how to go about with this second phase in which we as women, we are determined to take the centre stage. Not to be marginal. Women are confident. Women are determined in this economic liberation struggle. Yes, we are going to take that centre stage.

I have a strong emotional attachment here. I always have felt that Tanzania has given to continent. This country gave us the best. And it was not rich in those days. Tanzania did not have much of resources. But it was the heart and the minds of Tanzanian people who gave us the strength to propel us to be free. It is our obligation to say, we recognise and value you.

I am Mwalimu’s child. Mwalimu is my mentor. We never sat down to say he is mentoring me. But I followed him very carefully. I listened to him hundreds of times when he was addressing people. I observed how he carried himself as leader of this country and leader of the continent and leader of the globe, actually. I think he is one of the best examples which I have come across to my life. He is an inspiration to me.

It happens that we also had a family relationship which strengthened that. So, Tanzania as our cradle for liberation movement. Mara is Mwalimu and Mama Maria’s region. They are my family. If I have to make a contribution, knowing that there is a challenge there when it comes to children’s righs, why not start there?

Why focus on women in economic liberation at this time?

We believe that this is not a women’s issue. This is a national, sub regional, continental agreement. Why should we begin focusing on women, it is because we need to overcome those traditional sentiments of being timid, not being bold enough. But also we need to have our message clear.

We need to organise ourselves so that when we sit at the table with leaders, our partners, we say exactly what are the issues today and where we want to be tomorrow. And for that, we need to be strong amongst ourselves.

But we also need this opportunity for all those who are concerned with equity and equality and social justice. As I said, it is not a “women’s issue”. It is a development issue. It is a social justice issue.

We are going to be here, bringing women in our network. It is not by chance that we have had women speak about their work during the launch. We want to showcase our network. We want to show that women are working, they are already making progress. But we want a variety of women in a variety of sectors who are the best examples of the progress women have made. You see a diversity in African women in Dar es Salaam, young and old like me.

This will be the learning space in which we can in future, shape together and shape better how we want to present ourselves in Africa, how we want to change Africa but also how we want African women to present themselves to the world.

Together, we are in charge in putting African women at the centre stage in Africa and globally. We have already become lessons in fact, on how African women have become better than other women in the world. But we need to put this very clearly. What is it we think we can offer, inspire other women in the world.

We are absolutely sure that this nation, this continent will not advance unless women are at the driving seat. We are going to advance our continent while we are advancing ourselves. And we are going to make our continent more prosperous while we are changing ourselves. And we contribute this way.

That is why the pillars for this forum is financial inclusion, access to markets and social change. Many times, when we discuss the economy, we dwell in numbers, in shillings. We need to go beyond that, to know these are only tools to achieve social justice.

So must begin to address the transformation of equality, which will result to the transformation of women themselves. For we will have conscious citizens. We chose financial inclusion because anyone interested in business will know that access to capital is a challenge. We felt that these pillars are cross cutting.

*The Citizen/Allafrica

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