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Djibouti: African Development Fund commits $41.16 million in grants to shore up COVID-19 response
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank on Friday approved grants worth about $41.16 million to Djibouti to bolster the national budget in support of government efforts to mitigate national and regional impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funding will take the form of an African Development Fund grant for $4.12 million and a $37.04 million grant from the Bank’s Regional Operations Envelope. The Bank is providing the funding under its COVID-19 Response Facility.

“It is the first time the Bank is leveraging the Regional Operations resources for a budget support operation. This approach was pertinent to ensure that Djibouti has adequate resources to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in its territory and limit cross-border impacts that pose serious risks for health, social and economic development for the country and ensure adequate controls at territorial borders and all points of entry,” said the Bank’s Acting Director General for East Africa, Nnenna Nwabufo.

The financing will enable the Government of Djibouti to support three interlinked COVID-19 response programs to enhance health systems; safeguard livelihoods and provide social protection; and defend labour force productivity and economic activity.

Health-sector interventions include the implementation of a multi-sectoral crisis response strategy and dissemination of infection prevention and control guidelines to health facilities. Social protection measures include covering electricity bills for vulnerable households and maintenance of price-control mechanisms and supplies of staple foods.

To support the workforce and economy, the government proposes to suspend non-priority expenditure while increasing social spending in the budget; defer taxes for the hardest-hit enterprises; and defer tax deadlines and social security contributions for enterprises that commit to continue paying employee salaries. 

Djibouti, with a population of 1 million, has one of the highest COVID-19 case rates in the Horn of Africa. The government has responded by suspending non-essential business and social activities,closing off air and sea connections and introducing partial curfews and lockdowns.

The crisis has placed the country’s recent socioeconomic progress in jeopardy and increased its susceptibility to political instability and climate-induced shocks. The Horn of Africa region has also experienced swarms of locusts over the past year that have increased food insecurity.

Under a worst-case scenario, Djibouti’s real GDP in 2020 is forecast to contract by 3.8%, threatening as many as 40,000 jobs.

The Bank’s grant funding aligns with Djibouti’s development objectives and those of its COVID-19 Emergency and Solidarity Fund. The intervention also aligns with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy, and its Eastern Africa Regional Integration Strategy and broader efforts to combat fragility and build resilience in Africa.

*AFDB

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African Development Bank Group supports Ghana’s COVID-19 response plan with $69 million grant
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF) on Friday approved a $69 million grant to support Ghana’s efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its socio-economic impact on the nation.

The grant from the ADF, the concessional arm of the African Development Bank, will provide fiscal budget support to finance the government’s national COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan, and Coronavirus Alleviation Program.

Specifically, the funds will help to upgrade the capacity of healthcare facilities to isolate, diagnose and care for patients, and provide more test kits, pharmaceuticals, equipment and beds. It will also ensure adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers and support financial incentives and an insurance package for health and allied professionals.

Ghana ranks fourth in COVID-19 infections in Africa after South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria. As of 24 July 2020, the West African nation has recorded 30,366 cases of the disease, with 26,687 recoveries and 153 deaths.

“Overall, the objective is to help contain the spread of the virus, expand testing and ease the impact of the virus on social and economic life, through measures aimed at protecting jobs, sustaining livelihoods and supporting small businesses,” said Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade, the Bank’s Director General for West Africa.

The ADF grant is a Crisis Response Budget Support operation, disbursable in a single tranche under the Bank’s $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility. The grant aligns with one of the Bank’s High 5 priorities, namely to “Improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

Under Ghana’s COVID-19 response program, all affected persons will receive free treatment and free water supply. Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) will benefit from a soft loan scheme with one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period. The private sector will also benefit from a tax freeze and refund, direct subsidies and a guarantee fund, enabling businesses to access bank credit.

The program also aims to increase the percentage of the population tested from one percent to three percent by the end of December 2020, boost the number of points of entry reporting suspected cases of COVID-19 from 1 to 14 by the end of September 2020, and increase designated treatment centers with adequate intensive care facilities to 100% by end December 2020.

As elsewhere, the pandemic has slowed down economic activity in the agriculture, industrial and services sectors. The agriculture sector, in particular, will likely record a lower performance since the disease has coincided with the onset of Ghana’s farming season.

The economy of Ghana, which exports gold, cocoa and oil, is negatively affected by a significant increase in public spending due to COVID-19. Real GDP growth is projected at 2.1% in 2020 compared to 6.1% in 2019, while the current account deficit is forecast to widen to 3.6% compared to 3% in 2019, due to a decline in export earnings and lower tourism revenues and remittances.

The COVID-19 pandemic could also deepen inequalities between men and women, with far-reaching health, social, and economic implications, Bank officials noted.

*AFDB

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Africa’s First Sports, Media & Entertainment Practice Launched by Centurion Law Group
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
The practice will be offering local and international companies and stakeholders a full suite of legal and management services.

African athletes, along with the continent’s entertainment, sports, advertising, and media industries are important to the regional and the global economy. In order to further support the rapidly growing sports & entertainment industry across Africa, Centurion Law Group is delighted to announce the launch of a new dedicated practice.

Across sub-Saharan Africa, sports, media & entertainment have increasingly become revenue-generating industries for African countries, pillars of jobs creation, and important drivers of economic diversification. Beyond just Nollywood, the African entertainment and sports industries have become at the center of global investments, and have capitalized on increasing technology adoption to become globally competitive.

“With its track record of delivering high-profile and high-quality deal making, Centurion is the perfect fit for Africa’s sports, entertainment and media industries,” stated Oneyka Ojogbo, Sports & Entertainment Practice Head. “We are witnessing the rise of a true African sports & entertainment industry that now requires the best possible legal and business support services coming out of the continent itself,” she added Ojogbo

As the industry grows and attracts investments, it is even more crucial to adequately protect its essence, local players, revenue streams and overall bankability. Centurion’s new practice will offer a bridge between private and public sector, ensuring that regulations embrace market trends, promote an enabling environment for investors, and protect the interests of African entrepreneurs and companies operating in that space.

“Our job goes beyond legal advice. We provide counsel for career and life, and help clients build a business around their brand, protect their assets, and take advantage of strategic business opportunities during and after their career,” concluded Ojogbo.

The practice will be offering local and international companies and stakeholders a full suite of legal and management services including finance, licensing, intellectual property rights and enforcement, competition, advertising, representation and negotiation, sponsorship, investments and compliance.

Centurion is a leading pan-African legal and energy advisory group with extensive experience in the oil and gas sector. The group provides outsourced legal representation and covers a full suite of practice areas for its clients, including arbitration and commercial litigation, corporate law, tax and anti-corruption advisory and contract negotiation. Centurion specializes in assisting clients that are starting or growing a business in Africa with offices and Affiliates in Ghana, Cameroon, Canada, Germany, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa, South Sudan, Nigeria, Gabon, Angola and Senegal.
*SOURCE Centurion Law Group
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African Development Bank Regional Economic Outlook 2020: COVID-19 response and economic diversification crucial to growth recovery in Southern Africa, the most affected region
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
Josephine Ngure, the African Development Bank’s Acting Director General for Southern Africa
Impact of COVID-19 in South Africa projected to affect rest of Southern African economies.

Report recommends inclusive, broad-based and pro-poor policies to address inequality and reduce poverty rates; Impact of COVID-19 in South Africa projected to affect rest of Southern African economies.

A higher level of preparedness is urgently needed to prevent and mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic in Southern Africa, including additional resources for testing and to reduce the impact on households and the economy, the African Development Bank said in its new Southern Africa Regional Economic Outlook .

In the worst-case scenario, growth in Southern Africa would fall to -6.6% in 2020 before recovering to 2.2% in 2021.

Growth is projected at –4.9% in the baseline case, mainly driven by the deep recession in South Africa, induced by a fall in commodity prices, containment measures, weather-related events, and the structural issues related to public utilities. The region’s growth is projected to be the most affected by COVID-19.

Before COVID-19, Southern Africa’s economy was projected to recover from an estimated 0.7% growth in 2019 to 2.1% in 2020. As has been the case historically, South Africa, the region’s largest economy, is projected to contribute an average of 60% of regional economic output in 2020.

Following the outbreak of COVID-19, economic growth forecasts declined by 7 percentage points from the original projection under the baseline scenario, and 8.7 percentage points under the worst-case scenario.

The impact of COVID-19 in South Africa is projected to trickle to the rest of the Southern African economies.

Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho and Namibia are seen as more vulnerable to South Africa’s impending contraction in economic growth, while Mozambique’s sales of gas and electricity could be adversely affected. In addition, countries that rely on tourism, such as Mauritius, will be adversely affected.

However, the immediate outlook depends on the spread of new cases. South Africa is now the fifth-worst affected country in the world, with close to 400,000 confirmed cases.

The service sector, which accounts for over 50% of the GDP of most of the regional economies, is projected to be negatively impacted by the pandemic, worsened by travel bans, as well as disruption to transport, distribution, hotels and restaurants, entertainment, retail and trade.

Economic diversification, characterized by commodity-driven industrialization, will help boost the region’s resilience during downturns, the report noted.

The Outlook identified poverty and inequality as twin challenges affecting the Southern Africa region and called for policies aimed at making growth inclusive, broad-based and pro-poor if growth is to substantially address both issues.

Compared with other regions in Africa, the region has the highest unemployment levels, averaging 12.5% between 2011 and 2019, followed by North Africa averaging11.8% over the same period.

Unemployment is likely to escalate, especially in hardest-hit sectors such as tourism and hospitality, entertainment, retail and trade and agriculture, where most of the people in the region are employed.

Improving business environment competitiveness in the region is therefore critical. The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is projected to provide medium- and long-term opportunities for markets to spur economic growth. The intra-African market is expected to mitigate some of the negative effects of COVID-19.

The publication identified the provision of, and access to, quality education and skills as the basis of prosperity, dignity and well-being for individuals, and forms the backbone of successful economies. To achieve economic diversification and structural change towards high-productivity sectors, a better skilled and more adaptable labor force is necessary, the report recommended.

Released annually since 2003, the African Economic Outlook (AEO) provides compelling up-to-date evidence and analytics to inform and support African decision makers. Since 2018, the publication of the AEO has been coordinated with the release of five Regional Economic Outlook (REO) Reports for Central, East, North, Southern and West Africa.

“This year’s third edition of the Southern Africa Regional Outlook report offers robust options for policy makers at national and sub-regional levels to confront the challenges of sustainable economic development through skills development for the future of the workforce in the post-COVID-19 era,” said Josephine Ngure, the African Development Bank’s Acting Director General for Southern Africa.
*AFDB
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Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) selects Top 50 Finalists of 2020 “Africa’s Business Heroes” Competition
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

The 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications all over Africa, representing twenty-one African countries, half are female, and work in 18 sectors like agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT.

Top 50 finalists were selected from over 22,000 applications across all 54 African nations; The finalists represent 21 African countries, half are female, and work in 18 sectors like agriculture, AI, e-commerce, fashion, healthcare, renewable energy and ICT; Finalists will advance to the next round of selection and will participate in an exclusive virtual boot camp on July 28.

The 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH)  prize competition, a flagship philanthropic program established by the Jack Ma Foundation’s Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), has shortlisted the top 50 finalists from stage one of the selection process . The fifty entrepreneurs will continue their journey in the competition, for a chance to become one of the ten entrepreneurs that will compete in the grand finale later this year.

The top 50 finalists were selected from a pool of over 22,000 applications received from all 54 African nations. The diversity of the finalist roster reflects the aim of Africa’s Business Heroes to be inclusive and grassroots, providing entrepreneurs from all over Africa with a platform to showcase their talent and business ideas, regardless of nationality, industry, age or gender. The 2020 top fifty finalists come from twenty-one countries (Algeria, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, Zimbabwe) and eighteen sectors, such as: agriculture, AI, Big Data, business services, construction, education, engineering, e-commerce, fashion, financial services, healthcare, ICT, logistics, manufacturing, management services, retail, renewable energy, and transportation.

The average age of the cohort is 37 with the youngest candidate aged 22 and the eldest aged 64. 50% of the candidates are female – a 24% increase from the debut competition last year, and 32% are francophone, reflecting this year’s competition opening applications in French for the first time.

Over the past month, a panel of 140 highly skilled and experienced judges reviewed the submissions, evaluating applicants’ leadership and vision, their ability to translate their innovations and ideas into sustainable and robust business models, and their commitment to create positive impact to uplift their communities. Judges, whose unrivalled knowledge and industry expertise has brought immense added value to the selection process, represented a variety of key sectors in Africa, such as agriculture, tech, retail and e-commerce, education, healthcare, finance, logistics, and tourism.

Before stepping into the second round of selection, which will determine the top 20 finalists, the fifty selected entrepreneurs will be invited to join an exclusive virtual boot camp hosted by the Africa’s Business Heroes team on July 28th. The boot camp represents a further opportunity for aspiring candidates to access unparalleled knowledge and insights from across the ABH network. It also aims to build up finalists’ management and leadership capabilities and ultimately increase not only their chance of progressing to the next stages of the competition but to further develop as entrepreneurs.

During the boot camp, they will have the chance to receive feedback from round 1 judges such as Rafeh Saleh, Director of the Founder Institute and Omolara Awoyemi, Senior Program Manager at Facebook. Participants will also have the opportunity to attend interactive workshops with industry and business leaders, who have been partnering with ABH this year, including Abdelhameed Sharara, Founder & CEO of RiseUp; Patrick Awuah, Founder & President of AshesiUniversity, and Sebastien Nony, General Partner of Janngo Capital. It will also feature a few of the 2019 finalists who will provide advice and insights on their own journeys.

The selection process to spotlight the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes finalists will continue throughout the summer. Following round 2 interviews and the semi-finale pitch, the top 20 and top 10 finalists will be announced in August and September respectively. ABH will culminate in a grand finale show later this year, where the top 10 finalists will take the stage to pitch business legends – including Jack Ma – for a chance to win their share of a US$1.5 million prize pool.

A number of round 1 judges commented on their experience with Africa’s Business Heroes, noting:

“I am thrilled to have served as a judge for the Africa’s Business Heroes competition. It’s been an honour to help identify business heroes from Africa that are genuinely committed to changing the game in their respective industries. In these challenging times, getting to discover how the ABH applicants manage to turn challenges into opportunities, with a real sense of purpose and dedication to improve the conditions of people in their communities strengthens my belief in the promise of entrepreneurship in Africa.” said Isadora Bigourdan Bryden, Team Lead at Agence Française de Développement.

“Driven by the spirit of entrepreneurship, the tangible benefits of social good, and a strong sense of community pride, this startup competition is special – showcasing many promising ideas and a diverse group of African startups. It’s been inspirational to see these founders, deeply rooted and passionate, create change in their world.” commented Triane Chang, Silicon Valley Startup Advisor.

“It is truly heartwarming to see that so many young entrepreneurs are working passionately to drive high-impact social projects across the African continent. The judging process was not an easy task as all participants submitted very high-quality applications with compelling business propositions. As the competition progresses, I look forward to following the finalists’ journey and how they will use their talent and skills to generate positive change in their communities and beyond.” added Firas Ezzeddine, Manager, Group Strategy at Philips.

About ANPI:
The ANPI is the flagship philanthropic initiative spearheaded by the Jack Ma Foundation aimed at supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs across all sectors, who are building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future of the continent. Over a ten-year period, ANPI will recognize 100 African entrepreneurs and commit to allocating US$100 million in grant funding, training programs, and support for the development of an entrepreneurial ecosystem. The ANPI organizes the “Africa’s Business Heroes” prize competition and show, in which ten finalists have the opportunity to pitch their business to win a share of $1.5 million in grant money. Jack Ma, Founder of Alibaba Group and the Jack Ma Foundation, first created the prize after he made his first trip to Africa in July 2017 and was inspired by the energy and entrepreneurial potential of the young people he met with.

About Jack Ma Foundation:
Established by Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group, the Jack Ma Foundation was founded on 15 December 2014 and has been focusing on education, entrepreneurship, women’s leadership, and the environment. The Foundation aspires to be a reliable, participative, and sustainable philanthropic organisation. The Jack Ma Foundation has so far supported projects worldwide including the Jack Ma Rural Education Program, the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, the Ma & Morley Scholarship Program, and Jordan’s Queen Rania Foundation. Additionally, the Foundation has also funded a number of projects in its priority areas. The Jack Ma Foundation is committed to empowering rural educators, entrepreneurs, rural children, young start-ups, and women to equip them for the future and to help build a happier, healthier, more sustainable and more inclusive society.

*SOURCE Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH

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After COVID-19, will Africa Catch Up, Stand Still or Fall Further Behind?
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
With this crisis comes an economic disruption of unprecedented proportion

By Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka*

Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President, AfDB
Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President, AfDB

At one time or another, nations and individuals confront crisis points – moments of existential challenge that also open up new possibilities. African countries, at just such a crisis point as a result of the novel coronavirus, face three possible outcomes post-pandemic: play catch-up, stand still or fall even further behind the industrialized world [1].

With this crisis comes an economic disruption of unprecedented proportion. To avoid falling further behind, Africans must narrow the scientific and technology gap and leverage our comparative advantages. It is time for Africa to adopt radical technological and policy innovations. The global economy is increasingly driven by science-based and patent-intensive systems. Through investments in molecular technology, AI and other technologies the 4th industrial Revolution is ushering in, they can overcome existing barriers to entry. 

Catching Up

India offers an example of how to catch up. There, two key developments in the sixties and seventies sharply altered the country’s trajectory.

In 1965, following past famines crises, India imported 250 tons of high-yielding Mexican dwarf wheat seed varieties for wide-scale testing on farms. Early positive results led to the importation of a further 18,000 tons. Along with the use of irrigation and other innovations adopted by farmers, Indian agriculture was transformed. 

Within five years, India produced enough grains to support its population and, even following a drought in 1979, had no need to import grain. Overall, the country’s wheat and rice production tripled between 1961 and 1980. Radical policy response to famine-induced crisis birthed the Green Revolution.

India’s pharmaceutical sector also experienced a crisis-inflection point in 1972, when the government passed the Patents Act, which enabled domestic firms to replicate drugs that had been patented by multinational corporations. Local companies have since dominated the global market through reverse-engineering leading to generic medicines that are far more affordable than patented ones. Radical policy response to crisis-induced shortage of medicines transformed Indian Pharma.

Falling Behind

Africa processes a very small proportion of its agricultural produce. We continue to export raw commodities like cocoa, timber and cotton that others process and re-sell to Africa at a much higher valuation. Our continent also has sufficient sunlight, wind and hydropower, technologies that can power Africa sustainably, and other regions besides.

Critically, Africa also has a median age of 19, far younger than that of any continent, a potential demographic dividend of young innovation-driven workers and a relatively small proportion of elderly workers. This human capital will foster Africa’s forging ahead.  

If we fail to harness new technologies and leverage our strengths to create abundant high paying manufacturing and service jobs to compete within global supply chains, then we risk falling even farther behind on socioeconomic terms.

Forging ahead

To forge ahead, Africa will first have to return swiftly to economic growth. Beyond that, diversifying our economies will be critical, particularly for those countries that are dependent on one or two mineral resources or commodities. Above all, African companies must deepen capacities for competitive advantage to master new technologies in emerging sectors.  

African innovators need a robust innovation framework and a better enabling environment to master the so-called industrial biology embedded in the 4th Industrial Revolution. For instance, firms in Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria and some other African countries have developed COVID-19 test kits but face a difficult path to commercialization. 

China’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is once more illustrative of a dynamic industrial policy. It is targeting ambitious increases in domestic firms’ share of the global medical supplies market. The government has provided cheap land for factories subsidized loans, helps them to secure a supply chain of raw materials, and to stimulate domestic demand by incentivizing hospitals and companies to use their products.

And there are powerful examples right here on the continent. South Africa successfully financed the production of The National Ventilator Project to address COVID-19, developing prototypes, securing component supply chains, and a manufacturing facility. The project owes its success in part to strong government support and broad coordination among economic and technological agencies. As with South Africa, the rest of the continent would benefit from strong innovation systems that are part of national budgeting and planning frameworks. 

African businesses have a critical role to play, but so do African leaders, who must strike a delicate balance between state intervention and open markets. African governments are best placed to identify market failures and opportunities, and devise policies and regulations that benefit Africa’s private sector and its people.

*Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka, is the Senior Special Adviser on Industrialization to the President, AfDB, he is a fellow of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering and Professorial Fellow, United Nations University.

1] The theory was mooted in a 1986 paper by Moses Abramovitz who posited that countries with lagging productivity could grow rapidly and catch up with the leading economies by realizing their potential.

SOURCE African Development Bank Group (AfDB)

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United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) Group Announces Global Management Appointments – Six New Country CEOs in Africa, International and Senior Group Roles
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
The new CEOs will drive the Group’s strategy and activities in Mali, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Tanzania and Sierra Leone respectively.

United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) , the leading pan-African financial services institution, announced the appointments of Rokia Hacko, Chioma Mang, Chinedu Obeta, Bode Aregbesola, Kingsley Ulinfun and Usman Isiaka as chief executive officers of six of its 20 subsidiaries across Africa, subject to regulatory approvals. The new CEOs will drive the Group’s strategy and activities in Mali, Uganda, Zambia, Senegal, Tanzania and Sierra Leone respectively.

In addition, Ogechi Altraide has become the new Head, Retail Banking; Amadao Konate, Head, Treasury & International Payments for UBA America. These international appointments compliment the prior appointments of Sola Yomi-Ajayi as the CEO of UBA America, and Patrick Gutmann as the CEO of UBA UK. UBA provides a full suite of corporate banking products and services to businesses, multilateral institutions and governments transacting from and with Africa.

Earlier this month, UBA announced the appointment of Ayoku Liadi and Oliver Alawuba respectively, as Deputy Managing Directors in charge of the Group’s Nigeria and Africa businesses, attesting to the importance of UBA’s African business and its strategic positioning as “Africa’s Global Bank”.

UBA Group Chairman, Tony O. Elumelu, stated “The appointments further reflect the strong growth of the Group’s pan-African businesses, currently responsible for over 40% of total Group revenue and the increasing importance of our international businesses in London, Paris and New York, offering superior treasury, trading and corporate banking solutions to clients globally. We are committed to catalysing growth on the African continent and the new CEOs are taking up roles at a very exciting period, as the Group executes its innovative digital play across the African continent’’.

Also announced were the appointment of three new country Executive Directors – Haoua Cisse as the Executive Director, Wholesale, UBA Mali and Julien Kouassi as Executive Director Wholesale, UBA Côte D’Ivoire.

United Bank for Africa is one of the largest employers in the financial sector on the African continent, with over 20,000 employees group wide and serving over 20 million customers, across its approximately 1000 branches and over 30,000 ATMs, PoS, and agencies in Africa. Operating in 20 African countries and globally in the United Kingdom, the United States and France, UBA provides retail, commercial and institutional banking services, leading financial inclusion and implementing cutting edge products, including the first ever banking chat bot in Africa, LEO.
*SOURCE United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA)
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Farmers in Kenya embrace hybrid, BT cotton
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Gaitano Pessa*

Cotton farmer holds his harvest. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Cotton farmer holds his harvest. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Farmers in Busia County, almost 400km to the west of Nairobi City in Kenya have begun to embrace cotton farming with enthusiasm just four months after re-introduction of the crop in the region.

The county shares its borders with Uganda and is situated in western Kenya formerly known as Western Province.

Alongside the hybrid varieties that were given to over 4,000 farmers in five sub-counties of the expansive county namely Samia, Matayos, Teso North, Teso South and Nambale sub-counties, was the high yielding BT cotton – a genetically modified variety that produces an insecticide to kill bollworms and other pests.

Farmers abandoned cotton more than 20 years ago because of low yields, poor returns and quality was damaged by pests.

Worse still, the liberation of the domestic textile industry in the 1990s shrank the cotton market a move that pushed the farmers to oblivion.

Francis Okuku, a long time cotton farmer in Lwanya location, Matayos Sub county, has put at least two acres under hybrid and BT cotton.

He said many farmers have realised that the crop can fetch good money now that the government is reviving the textile industry with planned revival of major ginneries including Samia based Luanda ginnery that was allocated Sh30 million (USD3million) by the State.

Mr Okuku who is also the vice chair of Matayos Cooperative Farmers Society based in the area said so far his one-month old hybrid cotton has shown promising prospects compared to the conventional varieties that recorded poor germination rate.

“The demo plots in Alupe really impressed me to venture into cotton once again after years of low yields. The cotton in my farm looks like it has been here for over two months yet its half that period,” he said in his farm where he planted the C570 variety. He was referring to the first BT cotton that was planted at Alupe University College, a few kilometres from Busia Town.

He disclosed that he planted the two varieties separately to compare notes and so far there exists a very thin line to differentiate the two, urging Busia farmers to embrace the crop.

“If all goes well I expect my first harvest in November this year.”

Another farmer, Beatrice Akinyi from Nambale sub-county said the move by the government to provided farmers with certified seeds has changed their attitude towards cotton farming.

“Earlier, we depended on conventional varieties that grew tall, yielded few balls and were easily attacked by bollworms. However, the seeds we have been provided with by the government are better and attract high yields,” she said.

 She however, urged the government to improve cotton farming by also providing fertiliser and ensuring better market prices.

“We want the government to address the issue of collapsed ginneries like the one at Muluanda, Malakisi and Nambale that made farmers abandon cotton farming completely in the 1990s,” she added.

He said that the government should fast-track issuance of BT cotton seeds which are high yielding and don’t need intense spraying.

“With introduction of BT cotton, the industry will be revolutionised and more farmers will embrace cotton farming in the country,” she said.

Cotton trials in Busia County started in early March this year, with the launch of the first ever genetically modified BT variety in a move that propelled Kenya to join other six African nations that had already commercialised it.

Busia was the best choice for the launch because it’s among cluster of counties in the Lake Region that hold the most promising potential for cotton growing.

Four months down the line, the results on the ground are encouraging at Alupe Demo Farm with about 70% seed survival with each plant producing over 40 balls.

 With proper follow up of agronomic practices, a farmer can harvest between 1000-2,000 kilograms per acre.

At least 260 kgs of BT cotton seeds and 2,740 kgs of hybrid seeds were distributed free of charge to farmers in Busia by the Government with plans in place to distribute more.

At the moment there are five demo farms spread across the county in Teso North, Teso South, Nambale, Butula and Matayos sub counties with more expected to come up in the next planting season.

Farmers are encouraged to intercrop cotton with legumes to maximize on the use of their land.

The adoption of the BT cotton is expected to support the Government’s Big Four Agenda by aiding manufacturing pillar with farmers commercially earning more from the crop through increased production. 

Cotton being a major cash crop in Busia county, with a potential acreage of 4,000 hectares, there is need to adopt new technologies that will reduce the cost of production and hence increase incomes to farmers.

*gaitanoh@gmail.com

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OPEC-Gabon Talks Embodies Africa’s Strong Support for Market Stability
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments
Such a dialogue is key for compliance with the OPEC global production cuts deal of April, to which all of OPEC’s African member countries have agreed to.

The OPEC-Gabon Bilateral Meeting that took place on July 24th has sent yet another signal of the strong dialogue and cooperation between OPEC and African producing countries.

Such a dialogue is key for compliance with the OPEC global production cuts deal of April, to which all of OPEC’s African member countries have agreed to. Gabon’s support to global market stability and energy cooperation is significant, and gives confidence to operators and future investors seeking to do business in Central Africa.

“OPEC Secretary General Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo is an advocate for Africa and has always made it clear that the OPEC-Africa dialogue would be a priority to make Africa’s voice heard on the global energy stage,” Stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

“The Government of Gabon, and the country’s Ministry of Petroleum, Gas and Mines have always been strong participants in the global energy dialogue between Africa and institutions such as OPEC. Gabon has public officials committed to fight for their country, their people and economic prosperity. Such move makes our industry better for Africans and for investors,” he added.

Gabon’s ongoing 12th Offshore Licensing Round was launched in November 2018 and has already been met with significant success, resulting in the signing of a record number of PSCs in sub-Saharan Africa last year. In response to ongoing market conditions and the pandemic of Covid-19, the Ministry of Petroleum, Gas and Mines extended the submission deadline beyond April 30th, 2020. The extended round gives investors an opportunity to keep studying what is one of Africa’s hottest upstream frontier, with 35 blocks on offer.

The country’s new Hydrocarbons Code, Law No. 002/2019 of July 16th, 2019 now offers a more competitive upstream fiscal regime, provides an even better enabling environment for investors, and promotes the development of marginal fields by local players. Until the start of the covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent production cuts, Gabon had also successfully managed to reverse a historic decline in domestic oil production and had made new significant offshore discoveries.
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Zimbabwe’s meteorological services dept prepares to host SADC regional rainfall forecast for 2020/21 season
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire 

The Meteorological Services Department (MSD)  is preparing to host the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum expected to be held in August 2020 to discuss the 2020/2021 rainfall season forecast, according to a spokesperson.

  It is reported that the forum will provide a platform where the meteorological and hydrological agencies within the SADC region will come up with a regional rainfall season forecast for sharing with stakeholders in the climate-sensitive sectors.

  The SADC Secretariat through the Climate Services Centre (CSC), which coordinates the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) process, held the 23rd Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF-23), in Windhoek, Namibia from
the 19th to 27th August 2019.

   A consensus regional seasonal forecast was issued during the SARCOF-23 and implications for the climate-sensitive sectors were also provided.

The Meteorological Services Department in Zimbabwe  on 4 September 2019 then held the National Climate Outlook Forum (NACOF) for the dissemination of the national seasonal outlook for the 2019/2020 rainfall season.

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Zimbabwe’s tourism sector in domestic tourism revival bid
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe President, Winnie Muchanyuka
Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe President, Winnie Muchanyuka

The Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) has held a Tourism Stakeholders Interface Webinar as part of their efforts to support and intensify resuscitation of the country’s domestic tourism, it has been revealed.

 It is reported that a cross section of  stakeholders from the tourism industry value chain together with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority(ZTA) joined the webinar to strategize on ways to revive the country’s domestic tourism in line with government’s post COVID-19 Tourism Growth and Recovery Strategy.

Speaking on the sidelines of the web meeting, ZTA Domestic Tourism and Strategic Research Director,   Sophie Zirebwa said that the  country’s Tourism Board is delighted and encouraged by efforts being made by the tourism sector to develop and increase the prospects of domestic tourism in the country.

 “We are very thankful to have been part of the webinar organized by the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe.  To us this is a positive development, seeing the industry is  eager to work with the Tourism Board in developing the domestic tourism. In particular, the much needed business improvement in the leisure side of domestic tourism,” she added.

 “There were quite candid discussions in the meeting with operators. They interrogated their business models and critical issues emerged on the pricing of  tourism products and services. The lack of domestic tourism packages and the general lack of information about what is available, for instance  the tourism attractions, activities  that can be accessed by  locals,” she cited.

Zirebwa said that ZTA is happy to observe that within the discussions, the tourism industry players were really proposing solutions and giving timelines to solve  challenges raised. “One of the proposals that came up was for players to cooperate and collaborate in terms of creating packages which are price sensitive for the local market,” she added.

“Another issue that also came through and important was the need for operators to come together and roll out an awareness campaign as they promote domestic tourism,” she said.

HAZ president Clive  Chinwada said that the meeting resolved that there was an immediate need to come up with a bundle of tourism value chain activities including transport, accommodation and activities in various destinations replicating what used to be the Flame Lily tours.

“These packages must suit every pocket and encourage tourism industry value chain players to work together for survival as well as to ensure the competitiveness of destination Zimbabwe,” he said.

Tourism Business Council of Zimbabwe president, Winnie Muchanyuka encouraged the sector to improve on collaboration. “We have been fragmented, we need to collaborate more. We need to continue working together as stakeholders in the sector. To be honest, ZTA has done it’s best to lead with messaging but we as players have been lagging behind on complimenting their efforts,” she said.

The Tourism Stakeholders Interface Webinar comes on the heels of a ZTA organized Service Excellence Training Webinar which is also a part of the preparations towards reviving the country’s domestic tourism. Preparations to launch the Tourism Growth and Recovery Strategy are currently underway.

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Zimbabwe’s parliament suspends business
July 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Zimbabwe’s  Clerk of Parliament has today made an  announcement that its is is with a heavy heart that Parliament has  suspended most of its business due to exposure of some members and parliament to COVID-19.

 Its is reported that as of today, only two Members of Parliament had been confirmed positive.

 It is added that a driver from one of the service providers and a journalist who were part of the team also tested positive.

 “Our thoughts and prayers are with the affected and their families. The Members were part of a team that had been on field visits around the country. Everyone who was part of that team is now in self-quarantine in line with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare guidelines,” the Clerk said.

 It is reported that the measure has been taken to safeguard the health of Members of Parliament, staff and the public who interact with the institution.

  It is added that, tomorrow’s sitting for the National Assembly will be done with very limited numbers for the sole purpose of adjourning to a future date.

  It is added that this will allow for the deep-cleaning and disinfection of the Parliament building and contact tracing and testing of those who came into contact with the affected Members of Parliament.

“Parliament of Zimbabwe will continue to monitor the situation and Members of the public will be duly advised of the date of resumption of the business of Parliament,” the Clerk said.

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