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Ambitious Road map in the works after Marrakech African Women in Agriculture (AWA)” Conference
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments

African Women in Agriculture

“AWA”

Marrakech September 13, 2017

Radisson Blu Hotel

The Marrakech Declaration

 

Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa with the Wali of Marrakech during the Conference

Angelle Kwemo of Believe in Africa with the Wali of Marrakech during the Conference

We, the women attending the ”Believe in Africa – African Women in Agriculture (AWA)” Conference held in Marrakech on 11-13th September 2017 at the Radisson Blu Hotel.

We express our deep gratitude to His Royal Majesty, King Mohammed VI for his strong leadership in advancing the African continent’s economic development and his special attention to women.

We hereby make this declaration:

We thank Madam Mbarka Bouaida, Secrétaire d’Etat au près du Ministre de l’Agriculture Chargé de la Pêche Maritime for her leadership and commitment to women empowerment;

We thank H.E. John Dramani Mahama, Former President of The Republic of Ghana for his encouragement and unwavering support to women empowerment and specifically in the agricultural sector;

We express to the Ministry of Solidarity, Women, Family and Social Development our willingness to strengthen our collaboration;

We thank M. Abdelfateh Bjioui, WALI of Marrakech region – Safi for his hospitality and support;

We thank the leadership of Office Chérifien des phosphates Group (OCP Group) For their support to women empowerment in the agricultural sector;

We thank the Moroccan Agency for Social Development for their support to women specifically for revenues generating activities

We thank UN Women and US Africa Development Foundation for their support women particularly in Burkina Faso, Senegal and Mali;

After two days of deliberations resolved as follows:

 

  • To establish an “Believe in Africa” Chapter in Africa;
  • To create “African Women in Agriculture” initiatives (AWA).
  • To institutionalize the annual “Believe in Africa African Women in Agriculture congress;
  • Urge all stakeholders to:
    • Create The “African Award for Media in Agriculture and Sustainable Development” to encourage media to promote African women in Agriculture image;
    • Establish an “African Traditional Rulers Award” to encourage African traditional rulers to supporting women access to land;
    • Establish an ”International Day of African

Women in Agriculture” with the aim of:

  • Highlighting and increasing visibility of women’s role in agriculture and sustainable development
  • Rebranding the image of women in agriculture;
    • Launch the “One Roof = One Garden” initiative to promote food self sufficiency, to enhance youth and women job creation in urban areas and promote urban agriculture;
    • Find creative ways to raise and mobilize funding to support African women in agriculture’ access to credit, finance services and business development services.
    • Enhance competitiveness for African women in agriculture by guiding on ways to promote value added products, facilitating market access through proper labeling, safety, marketing and branding;
    • Provide guidance to women on ways to improve safety and quality assurance measures with a view to gaining access to global markets;
    • Advocate and search for an organization that will lead and support an African Certification and labeling structure, internationally recognized.
    • Invest in capacity building programs for women along the entire agricultural value chain;
    • Advise women on ways to have access to land ownership.
    • Increase the use of mechanization and appropriate biotechnology for women in agriculture;
    • Support women to access up to date information on agribusiness, technology and international best practices;
    • Extend all agricultural incentives to women in Art and Handicraft.

 

Signed by Angelle Kwemo, Founder and President Believe in Africa

Approved by women attending African Women in Agriculture conference representing different nationalities (Cameroon, Morocco, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Congo, Kenya, Chad, Guinea Bisau, Senegal, Mali, Cape Verde)

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Official launch of NEPAD’s 5% Agenda initiative for infrastructure financing in Africa
September 19, 2017 | 0 Comments
Bridging Africa’s $68bn infrastructure finance gap
 Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer

Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 18, 2017/ — The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) (www.NEPAD.org) – African Union’s economic development programme gathered international investors and CEO-level business leaders at the NASDAQ Stock Market today, 18th September, for the launch of its 5% Agenda campaign.

The launch took place five years after a January 2012 African Union Summit adopted the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA) which sets out 51 cross-border infrastructure programmes and more than 400 actionable projects in four sectors.

According to the World Bank, the continent needs to spend $93 billion annually (44% for energy; 23% for water and sanitation; 20% for transport; 10% for ICTs; and 3% for irrigation) until 2020 to bridge its infrastructure gap, which is currently removing an estimated 2% of GDP growth every year. On the other hand, Africa only managed to close 158 project finance deals with debt totalling $59 billion over the decade 2004-2013, which represents only 5 percent of infrastructure investment needs and 12 percent of the actual financial flows.[1]

The 5% Agenda campaign highlights that only a collaborative public-private approach can efficiently tackle these issues and calls for allocations of institutional investors to African infrastructure to be increased to the declared 5% mark.

Speaking at the launch event in New York, Ibrahim Assane Mayaki, NEPAD Chief Executive Officer, commented: “Infrastructure plays a leading role in supporting growth on the continent. At the same time, it can represent an innovative and attractive asset class for institutional investors with long-term liabilities. By launching the 5% campaign in New York today, we invite investors to take advantage of the wide-ranging opportunities Africa has to offer and to move forward with what can only be a win-win partnership”.

The launch of the campaign gathered high-level international investors and business leaders, including members of the PIDA Continental Business Network (CBN) which is spearheaded by NEPAD and constitutes a CEO-level private sector infrastructure leaders dialogue platform on PIDA.

Tony O. Elumelu, one of Africa’s most prominent entrepreneurs and active participant in the CBN said: “Africa is getting stronger every day with new business opportunities and innovative ideas but what is still crucially missing is project implementation. A coherent and coordinated approach is needed to mobilize institutional investors while limiting their risk exposure. African governments need to work on creating conducive environments to attract these investments which are so vital for the continent’s growth and development.”

According to a 2016 McKinsey report, institutional investors and banks have $120 trillion in assets that could partially support infrastructure projects.[2]

Now more than ever, Africa needs to tap into this available. As banks face additional regulatory challenges and as governments have limited fiscal space, it is becoming increasingly urgent to unlock additional flows from long-term institutional investors such as insurers, pension funds, and sovereign wealth funds.

For pension and sovereign wealth funds to be able to invest in large-scale infrastructure projects in Africa, a variety of issues need to be addressed to strategically and intentionally facilitate long-term allocations. Chief amongst these matters is the need to reform national and regional regulatory frameworks that guide institutional investment in Africa. Likewise, new capital market products need to be developed that can effectively de-risk credit and hence, allow these African asset owners to allocate finance to African infrastructure as an investable asset class to their portfolio.

All these issues are at the heart of the 5% Agenda roadmap, which is the backbone of NEPAD’s campaign and is foreseen to have the following impact:

  1. Unlocking notable and measurable pools of needed capital to implement regional and domestic infrastructure projects on the continent.
  2. Broadening and deepening the currently very shallow African capital markets, whilst at the same time contributing significantly to regional integration and job creation.
  3. Promoting the development of innovative capital market products that are specific to the continent’s challenges and potential in regards to infrastructure development.
  4. Raising the investment interest of other institutional and non-institutional financiers that so far have been hesitant to include African infrastructure projects as an asset to their investment portfolio based on specific, concrete next steps and project suggestions.
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Africa’s economic giants face increasing competition from upcoming Kenya and Ethiopia
September 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
New Africa Risk-Reward Index provides investors with a synthesis of risks and opportunities across the African continent
Paul Gabriel, Senior Analyst for Africa at Control Risks and lead-author of the report

Paul Gabriel, Senior Analyst for Africa at Control Risks and lead-author of the report

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, September 14, 2017/ — Africa’s economic giants, Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, have been stumbling recently. Rising security risks and political instability in Egypt, economic downturn and militancy in Nigeria and escalating political risks in South Africa led to doubts whether the balance between risks and opportunities in these markets is still favourable for businesses. Despite recent recovery in Nigeria and South Africa, Kenya and Ethiopia might soon outshine these heavy-hitters in the competition for investment, according to the newly released Africa Risk-Reward Index developed by Control Risks (www.ControlRisks.com) and Oxford Economics.
Key findings of the report:

  • Nigeria and its energy sector are too big to lose their appeal – the country’s reward score is 6.0 (out of 10), ahead of South Africa and Egypt. Nigeria’s charms, however, fade against a risk score of 7.3 (out of 10), as President Muhammadu Buhari’s government struggles through its first term. A fall in oil prices and lower production due to insurgent attacks in the Niger Delta have slashed growth from 6.3% in 2014 to 2.7% in 2015 followed by a sharp contraction of 1.6% last year. Economic indicators for this year are more favourable, but still the report forecasts a real GDP growth of only 1.1% in 2017.
  • South Africa’s risk score of 5.0 remains below the region’s average, but the reward score of 4.6 is also low. Whilst the country enjoys a deserved reputation as Africa’s pre-eminent constitutional democracy, several of its key institutions have gradually weakened over the past decade. Economic prospects are closely linked to the outcomes of the ANC’s national conference in December. The forecasted real GDP growth of 0.5% for 2017 is below population growth and certainly insufficient to reduce South Africa’s staggering 27.7% unemployment rate.
  • Egypt will test the most ardent optimist. President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi’s political position is stable, despite a series of economic and security challenges, reflected in the country’s risk score of 6.0. Socio-economic grievances, a government crackdown on opposition and Islamist groups and persistent militancy will continue to have an impact on the business environment. The tourism sector remains depressed. The country’s reward score of 5.5 reflects the measures the government has taken since mid-2016 to address its fiscal problems. Real GDP growth is expected to slow in 2017 (to 3.8%, from 4.3% in 2016) owing to a slowdown in government and private consumption.
  • Ethiopia outperforms every African peer with its high reward score of 8.0. Notably, it attracted $3.2bn of foreign direct investment in 2016 – more even than Nigeria, and double the figure for Morocco. The East African nation is one of Africa’s fastest growing economies and continues to offer strong prospects. Growth averaged 10% from 2010 to 2015 and although 2016 growth was slower at 6.5% the expansion remains impressive. However, the omnipresent role of government in the economy raises concerns relating to public sector efficiency and financial management. External debt is expected to increase to 38.7% of GDP by the end of this year, leading to a risk score of 5.8.
  • Kenya has achieved a period of strong GDP growth amid relative political stability: real GDP growth averaged at 6.0% in 2010-16. The 2017 growth forecast is at 5.4%. The country’s reward score is 6.7. A well-educated workforce and an innovative service sector, the government’s continued investments in upgrading critical national infrastructure, and deepening integration with its neighbours through the East African Community (EAC) all allow the country to act as a gateway into the larger East Africa region. Current fiscal concerns and a political system that remains closely tied to ethnic affiliation contribute to a risk score of 5.6 and reflects considerable room for improvements.

Paul Gabriel, Senior Analyst for Africa at Control Risks and lead-author of the report comments:
“Experienced investors – not only in Africa, but around the world – know that risk and reward are close companions. While no serious investor should overlook the economic giants of the continent, real competitive edge can only be achieved when investors manage to stay ahead of the pack in knowing what’s next. The Africa Risk-Reward Index helps investors to identify some of the more hidden investment opportunities in times where the heavy-hitters are struggling.”

Distributed by APO on behalf of Control Risks Group Holdings Ltd.

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Media contacts: Control Risks Friederike Lyon Marketing Director +49 30 533 288 55 +49 173 619 54 66 Friederike.Lyon@ControlRisks.com
Oxford Economics Gary Duncan Director of Communications +44 20 3910 8025 +44 77 88 155 715 Gary.Duncan@OxfordEconomics.com
About Control Risks: Control Risks (www.ControlRisks.com) is a global risk consultancy. We help some of the most influential organisations in the world to understand and manage the risks and opportunities of operating around the globe, particularly in complex and hostile markets. Our unique combination of services, our geographical reach and the trust our clients place in us ensure we can help them to effectively solve their problems and realise new opportunities in a dynamic and volatile world. Working across five continents and with 36 offices worldwide, we provide a broad range of services to help our clients to be successful.
About Oxford Economics: Oxford Economics is a world leader in global forecasting and quantitative data analysis, acting as a key adviser to corporate, financial and government decision-makers, and thought leaders. Our worldwide client base comprises of international organisations, including leading multinational companies and financial institutions; key government bodies and trade associations; and top universities, consultancies and think tanks. Oxford Economics has a global team of over 200 professional economists and econometricians situated in 20 offices around the world that help clients quantify global impacts and analyse shifts in the macroeconomic environment to assess the effect on their business and organizations.
Control Risks and Oxford Economics: Control Risks and Oxford Economics have joined forces to provide an innovative political and economic risk forecasting service that takes a holistic view of risk in a complex, rapidly changing, globalised world. Control Risks and Oxford Economics combine extensive geopolitical, operational and security expertise with rigorous economic forecasts and models on 200 countries and 100 industries. Together, we offer full-spectrum consulting that enables your organisation to navigate the world of political and economic risk. Covering all aspects of the investment journey, including security and integrity risk, our joint consultancy practice can overlay geopolitical and economic scenarios to bring new insights and direction.
Methodology The Africa Risk-Reward Index is defined by the combination of risk and reward scores, integrating economic and political risk analysis by Control Risks and NKC African Economics (an Oxford Economics company).
Risk Scores The risk scores replicate the scoring of each country within the joint product offering Economic and Political Risk Evaluator (EPRE) of Control Risks and Oxford Economics, the majority shareholder of NKC African Economics. Control Risks and Oxford Economics analysts rate a series of political and economic risk factors on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 representing the highest level of risk. Each political and economic rating is assigned a default weight, based on its significance in the country context and its potential impact on business. The individual political and economic risk variables are then combined – multiplying rating by weighting – into the overall risk rating of a country.
Reward Scores The reward scores incorporate medium-term economic growth forecasts, economic size, economic structure and demographics. The economic growth outlook has the biggest weight in the reward score, as investment opportunities multiply where economic growth is strong. But the absolute size of the economy makes a difference, too, so the score incorporates a weight for economy size.The economic structure indicator derives from the ‘economic structure risk’ component of NKC’s sovereign risk rating model, which takes into account debt metrics, the current account, financial structure (including banking sector stability) and investment. Demographics are incorporated through the formulation of a demographic dividend, which incorporates population size, urbanisation and dependency ratios.

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Africa50 Gains Guinea and Democratic Republic of Congo as Shareholders; Highlights Strategy and Investment Pipeline
September 13, 2017 | 0 Comments
DAKAR, Senegal,12 September 2017, -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Africa50, the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, held its third Shareholder Meeting in Dakar on Tuesday, September 12. President Macky Sall of Senegal welcomed the delegates. African Development Bank Group President and Chairman of the Board of Africa50, Akinwumi Adesina, gave a feature address, and Africa50 CEO Alan Ebobisse provided updates on the Fund’s investment pipeline and strategy. They were joined by finance ministers, senior officials, and ambassadors from the 23 shareholder countries and members of the business community.

In his remarks, President Sall expressed his strong support for Africa50’s mission to catalyse private sector investment, from within and outside Africa, in infrastructure in Africa, since public resources are not sufficient. Outlining Senegal’s success, he stressed that governments must improve the business climate and create an environment conducive to private investment in infrastructure, including the regulatory environment for public private partnerships. Stating that “Africa is open for business”, he stressed that the continent has defined its priorities through initiatives such as PISA, and can use Africa50 as an important new instrument. He said, “I encourage all African countries to join this fund, which is ours, to fill our infrastructure funding gap.”

Africa50 Chairman Adesina, reiterated the need for private investment to close the large infrastructure funding gap in Africa, citing growing investor interest. Looking ahead to 2025 and a projected annual funding gap of $30-40 billion, financing African infrastructure will require a balance between development finance, which can fund and de-risk early stage financing, and long-term institutional investment which can quickly narrow the funding gap. Africa50, he said, was designed by the AfDB to help blend public and private finance, and through its project development division, build up the pipeline of “bankable” projects and facilitate public private partnerships. He commended the Africa50 leadership for ramping up operations, hiring top-notch staff and consultants, and naming a respected Investment Committee. The AfDB, he assured the audience, will continue to work closely with Africa50, especially to increase access to power. Chairman Adesina also officially welcomed two new Africa50 shareholders, Guinea and the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Note: Since the last Shareholders Meeting in July 2016 Tunisia has also joined.)

Thanking Chairman Adesina and President Sall for their presence and support, Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobisse, stressed the importance of the private sector to fill the infrastructure financing gap. He cited three success factors for Africa50’s mission: the strong support of the AfDB and the shareholders, the competence and experience of Africa50’s staff, and the quality of projects, which focus on being commercially viable while having a strong development impact.

In a video presentation that opened the event, Mr. Ebobisse and senior Africa50 staff further outlined Africa50’s comparative advantage for financing infrastructure in Africa. Specifically:
*    Through its close relationship with shareholders and African governments Africa50 can mitigate country risk through high-level public-sector engagement and by leveraging AfDB’s support.
*    Through its project development activities and ongoing dialogues with shareholder governments Africa50 can generate a strong deal flow to attract infrastructure investors.
*    By upholding international best-practice Environmental, Social, and Governance standards, Africa50 can help assure the long-term viability of projects.
*    And, finally, by building an experienced leadership and investment team with a demonstrated track record of successful deal-making on the continent, Africa50 will inspire confidence and catalyse more private investments in infrastructure.

 
Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to the continent’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact.
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IGD Fall Frontier 100 Forum to Convene African and Global Business Leaders, Investors to Drive Action on Increasing U.S. Investment in Africa
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
  • African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank (Afeximbank) will serve as Collaborating Partners for the IGD Fall Forum

  • Forum to host the Africa investor (Ai) Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable

  • Fireside Chat with a top U.S. government official and Congressional Roundtable on Capitol Hill to focus on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy 

IGD''s Mima Nedelcovych in audience with Burkina Faso's President  Roch M. C. KABORE

IGD”s Mima Nedelcovych in audience with Burkina Faso’s President Roch M. C. KABORE

WASHINGTON D.C. – September 12, 2017 – The Initiative for Global Development will hold its Fall Frontier 100 Forum on October 11-12, 2017, in Washington, DC, where African and global business leaders will convene to drive action on unlocking greater U.S. investment in Africa and African mid-sized companies for sustainable development and inclusive growth.

The invitation-only Fall Forum will be held on Capitol Hill and Covington law office in Washington, DC.

Under the theme “Growing the ‘Middle’: Investing in African Companies for the Continent’s Economic Transformation”, the Fall Frontier 100 Forum will bring together CEOs and senior executives from IGD’s Frontier Leader network to offer insight and scalable solutions on spurring investment opportunities to grow African companies and forge stronger business relationships between investors and African private sector leaders.

The tremendous growth of African mid-sized companies, maturation of African capital markets, bulging middle class, and steady economic growth are making the continent increasingly attractive for investment.

Yet, despite the growth opportunities, investment in the Sub-Saharan African region remains relatively low compared to other regions of the world. Private equity and principal investment capital under management in sub-Saharan Africa remain at only 0.1% of GDP, compared to approximately 1% of GDP in Western countries, cited a 2016 report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

“African companies are the drivers of growth on the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych, IGD President & CEO. “Given Africa’s rapidly evolving landscape, our Forum aims to focus on solutions and creative investment strategies to increase U.S. investment in Africa and dynamic African mid-sized companies that deliver high-returns and contribute to the continent’s economic transformation.”

The Fall Forum will host the Africa Investor (Ai) Development Finance-Institutional Investor Roundtable, which will feature a high-level dialogue led by key leaders from the Development Finance industry with counterparts from the institutional investment community. The discussion will center on new partnership strategies and vehicles available to de-risk and finance African infrastructure investment assets. African Ministers and DFI officials will offer responses to the roundtable discussion.

“African asset owners, principally pension and sovereign funds, allocate less than 1.5% of their assets under management (AUM) to infrastructure development on the continent, whilst Africa is struggling to mobilize private capital for its $50 billion plus, per annum infrastructure deficit,” commented Hubert Danso, CEO and Vice Chairman, Africa investor (Ai).  “This Ai dialogue session will build on Ai’s leadership role over the last five years, creating product and execution risk reward alignment, between institutional investors, DFI’s and Ministers of Finance, to pursue infrastructure co-investments and institutional investor public partnerships (IIPP’s),” he added.

On October 11, the Fall Forum will open with an interactive investor session led by a team from PYXERA Global that will take participants through a real-time simulation that moves from traditional investor/implementer relationships to mutually beneficial collaborations that align business goals with growth and opportunity in Africa.

A Fireside Chat with a top U.S. government official followed by a congressional roundtable on shaping U.S.-Africa trade and economic policy to improve Africa’s investment environment will be held on Capitol Hill. An evening reception, sponsored by the African Development Bank, will highlight a congressional delegation visit to West Africa.

A full-day of forum sessions on October 12, will feature keynote addresses and engaging panel sessions on “Attracting Private Equity Investments to Propel Inclusive Growth Opportunities for African Companies”“Strengthening the Value Chain: Financing Africa’s Agro-processing Industry”, and “Exploring Franchise Investment Opportunities: Win-Win for Building Africa’s Private Sector?”.

The Fall Forum will conclude with an evening reception to roll out a grassroots campaign on increasing U.S. investment in Africa. The grassroots campaign is part of IGD’s Africa Investment Rising campaign, a communications and advocacy effort aimed at changing the narrative on doing business in Africa by showcasing the continent’s business and investment potential and private sector leaders through multimedia storytelling, blogs and strategic traditional and social media outreach.

Forum sponsors, to date, include the African Development Bank and African Export-Import Bank as Collaborating Partners; Covington as Platinum Sponsor; Ex-Im Global Partners as Gold Sponsor; Clin d’Oeil Magazine as Silver Sponsor; and Africa investor as Organizational Partner.  

For more information on the Frontier 100 Forum and to register as “Media”, please click here. To become a media partner or to cover the forum, contact Shanta Bryant Gyan, Initiative for Global Development at email, sbryant@igdleaders.org  or call 202-412-4603

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New diagnostic test for human African Sleeping Sickness
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

A new diagnostic test developed from research at the Universities of Dundee and Cambridge has been launched with the aim of helping eliminate the disease known as African sleeping sickness.

Sleeping sickness, or Human African Trypanosomiasis (HAT), is caused by parasites transmitted by tsetse flies in sub-Saharan Africa and has a devastating impact, causing thousands of deaths each year.

Today, September 12th, the international non-profit organisation FIND and the diagnostics company Alere launched their second-generation rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for sleeping sickness. This second-generation test is easier and safer to produce, using recombinant protein technology to produce the two diagnostic antigens, one of which is completely new.

The new test, SD BIOLINE HAT 2.0, costs US $0.50 each and requires no specialist equipment to diagnose sleeping sickness from a pin-prick of blood, providing the same level of accuracy but in a more robust production format.

The test has been developed from research performed in the laboratories of Professor Mike Ferguson at Dundee and Professor Mark Carrington at Cambridge, with device prototyping done at BBI Solutions in the Dundee Technology Park.

“This is a terrible disease that causes character disintegration, psychological deterioration followed by coma and death, and current treatments are far from ideal,” said Professor Carrington.

“The World Health Organisation’s goal is to eliminate HAT and rapid and accurate diagnosis is essential to achieving this objective. It is extremely encouraging for us as researchers to see our work now being deployed in the field where it can make a real difference to people.”

The work at Dundee and Cambridge was supported through separate funding streams from the Wellcome Trust and the Medical Research Council (MRC).

Both the Dundee and Cambridge labs were supported by the Wellcome Trust at the time the research was done, and much of the work was performed by Dr Lauren Sullivan, MRC PhD student and then MRC Centenary fellow between 2008 and 2013, and Dr Mandy Crow, MRC PhD student between 2000 and 2004.

Professor Ferguson said, “Sometimes impactful work comes from side-projects where one synthesises funding streams, in this case from the MRC and the Wellcome Trust, and works across institutions and with industrial partners to do something more speculative or applied. The science underpinning this new diagnostic device is a good case in point.”

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Announcing 2017-2019 Next Einstein Forum Fellows, Africa’s top scientists solving global challenges
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments
KIGALI, Rwanda, 12 September 2017 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Next Einstein Forum (NEF) today announces its second Fellows Class, 16 scientists, all under 42 years of age, who are solving Africa’s and the world’s challenges. An initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung, the NEF will hold its second global forum for science in Kigali, Rwanda, under the patronage of H.E. President Paul Kagame.

Central to the NEF’s vision of propelling Africa onto the global scientific stage, the NEF Fellows will present their groundbreaking research at the NEF Global Gathering 2018, to be held on 26-28 March 2018, and help craft an exciting, high impact forum.

“Two years ago it was my great honor to announce the inaugural Fellows Class. Today again, I am excited to announce a brilliant NEF Fellows Class. The selected Fellows, six of whom are women, are doing cutting edge research in renewable energy, nanomaterials and nanotechnology, food security, regenerative medicine, cognitive systems related to fintech, cosmology, seismology etc. Beyond just theoretical research, our Fellows have developed impressive technologies from their research. We strongly believe their discoveries and initiatives, current and future, will solve global challenges in health, energy, climate change, education, agriculture to name a few,” said Mr. Thierry Zomahoun, President and CEO of AIMS and Chairman of the NEF.

NEF Fellows are selected by a prestigious Scientific Programme Committee using a rigorous process that looks at academic and scientific qualifications including a strong publication record, patents, awards, and independently raised funds for research. Fellows also have to demonstrate the relevance and impact of their research/innovations to society as well as a passion for raising Africa’s scientific profile and inspiring the next generation of scientific leaders.

“I would like to thank the first Fellows Class who have used their tenure to publish high impact research, multiply collaborations among young researchers globally and mentor the next generation. Their active participation in crafting the program has improved the Fellows Programme. Together with this new Fellows’ class, they join the newly launched NEF Community of Scientists, an exclusive network that offers members opportunities for consulting, grants, research collaborations, speaking opportunities and career mentorship. In return, members will participate in national and continental policy formulation, cross-cutting research and innovation activities, lead public engagement around science and technology in Africa, and provide mentorship to early-career scientists and students,” said Mr. Zomahoun.

Meet the 2017-2019 NEF Fellows:

Dr. Vinet Coetzee (South Africa) is working on affordable and non-invasive methods to screen children for nutrient deficiencies and inborn conditions, by training computer models to recognise the links between physical features and these conditions. For instance, Vinet’s team developed an affordable 3D camera at one tenth of the price of comparable commercial systems.

Dr. Abdigani Diriye (Somalia) is developing, together with his team at IBM Research Africa, new approaches to mine, model and score people, identifying the right amount of credit and appropriate products. Last year, they developed a machine learning approach that leverages new data sources (mobile phone behavior) to evaluate the financial profile and credit score of millions of people in East Africa.

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe) is leading an inter-university collaboration between ICGEB/University of Cape and the University of Pretoria on developing a ‘stem cell-ECM’ bandage or patch which when fully developed can be used on injured tissue.

Dr. Jonathan Esole (DRC) introduced, while at Harvard University, a new topological invariant known as the orientifold Euler characteristic, which is now used daily by physicists working in F-theory. Jonathan also solved problems in supergravity open for more than twenty years.

Dr. Yabebal Fantaye (Ethiopia) investigates the statistical properties of the Universe using the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) data from the Planck satellite. More practically, his research focuses on developing machine learning and other advanced statistical methods for harnessing the African GIS and social Big Data for extracting actionable insights to help Africa meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Aminta Garba (Niger) is interested in finding key policies, technologies and applications relevant to the development of ICT, particularly in rural and underserved areas. As well, she is interested in methods that allow increasing the data rate of communication systems by shaping and reducing the interference.

Dr. Mamadou Kaba (Guinea) research projects led to better understanding of the risks of transmission of hepatitis E virus (HEV) from animals to humans. He is currently conducting a prospective longitudinal study on how the composition of the respiratory tract and gastrointestinal microbial communities (microbiota) influences the development of respiratory diseases in African children.

Dr. Rym Kefi (Tunisia) is mainly involved in research on human genetic disorders, genetic diversity in North Africa and the impact of consanguinity on health. As well, she is strengthening research on ancient DNA and providing genetic profiling for paternity tests and human forensic identification at Institut Pasteur de Tunis.

Dr. Aku Kwamie’s (Ghana) research is in the area of health system governance, looking at how and where within health systems decisions get made, applying complexity theory to issues of management and leadership, accountability and organizational innovation.

Dr. Justus Masa (Uganda) leads several research projects in the field of electrocatalysis and energy conversion, focused on the development of advanced low-cost catalysts and electrode materials for electrochemical energy systems, including fuel cells, electrolyzers (power to gas energy conversion), rechargeable metal-air batteries and other modern battery systems.

Dr. Sanushka Naidoo (South Africa) is dedicated to plant defense in the forest species, with an emphasis on Eucalyptus. Her research is focusing on mechanisms that can confer broad-spectrum, long lasting resistance by dissecting gene families and responses to pests and pathogens.

Dr. Maha Nasr (Egypt) focuses on advanced technologies such as nanotechnology based drug carriers and composite delivery systems. She is currently investigating the possibility of creation of novel carriers for treatment of diseases, mainly cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Dr. Sidy Ndao’s (Senegal) research group has recently developed the world’s first high temperature thermal rectifier, a building block for future High Temperature Thermal Memory and Logic Devices, i.e., thermal computer. He is also the founder of the Pan-African Robotics Competition.

Dr. Peter Ngene (Nigeria) developed a strategy which is now widely used to make complex hydride nanocomposite materials for reversible hydrogen storage applications and solid-state electrolytes for rechargeable batteries. He has also developed inexpensive eye-readable hydrogen sensors for the diagnosis of lactose intolerance via hydrogen breath test.

Dr. Tolulope Olugboji (Nigeria) builds sophisticated computer models and designs novel remote sub-surface imaging techniques to improve the understanding of the architecture and composition of the solid Earth interior.

Dr. Hamidou Tembine’s (Mali) research investigates game theory and aims to contribute significantly to existing knowledge on the interactive decision-making problems with incomplete information, and in the presence of self-regarding, other-regarding, altruistic, spiteful, risk-sensitive, and irrational agents.

Launched in 2013, the Next Einstein Forum (NEF) is an initiative of the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in partnership with the Robert Bosch Stiftung. The NEF is a platform that connects science, society and policy in Africa and the rest of the world – with the goal to leverage science for human development globally. The NEF believes that Africa’s contributions to the global scientific community are critical for global progress. At the centre of NEF efforts are Africa’s young people, the driving force for Africa’s scientific renaissance. The NEF is a unique youth-driven forum. At our headline biennial scientific events, 50% of participants are 42 or younger. Far from being an ordinary science forum, the NEF Global Gatherings position science at the centre of global development efforts. The next NEF Global Gathering will be held on 26-28 March 2018 in Kigali, Rwanda. In addition, through our Communities of Scientists, we showcase the contributions of Africa’s brilliant youth to Africa’s scientific emergence through its class of NEF Fellows, who are Africa’s top scientists and technologists under the age of 42, and NEF Ambassadors, who are the NEF’s 54 science and technology ambassadors on the ground.The NEF is also working together with partners such as the African Academy of Sciences, Ministers’ of Education, Science and Research across Africa, foundations and other global scientific and private sector companies, to build an African scientific identity. By bringing together key stakeholders, the NEF hopes to drive the discussion from policy to implementation by leveraging buy in and best practice results from Africa and the world. Have a look at our benchmark Dakar Declaration.

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe)

Dr. Kevin Dzobo (Zimbabwe)

Finally, the NEF is telling untold stories of scientific research and innovation across the continent through our various platforms. We want to recalibrate what ‘innovation’ means in Africa. We want to make the link between science and technology, even basic sciences, to everyday life. We want the public involved in science and we have recently concluded the first coordinated Africa Science Week – an annual three to five day celebration of science and technology through coordinated science events across the continent. We believe the next Einstein will be African.

The NEF has been endorsed by the African Union Commission, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Governments of Rwanda, Senegal and South Africa, the African Academy of Sciences (AAS) and a growing number of private sector and civil society partners from across the world who are passionate about positioning Africa’s scientific community as an influential member in the global scientific community, which will ensure sustainable human development in Africa and other parts of the world.

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President Sirleaf Receives NDI Delegation Ahead of Elections
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

Monrovia – President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has received in audience a high-powered delegation from the National Democratic Institute (NDI) headed by Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and member of the Board – NDI.

According to an Executive Mansion release, President Sirleaf received the delegation on Tuesday, September 05, 2017 at her Foreign Ministry Office during a courtesy call.

The delegation consists of regional and elections experts from Africa and North America, including Ms. Hannah Tetteh Kpodah, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ghana, Dr. Tadjoudine Ali Diabacte, former Deputy Director of Electoral Assistance Division, United Nations, Togo, Dr. Christopher Fomunyoh, Regional Director, (Cameroon); NDI, Samantha Smoot, Observation Mission Director, (USA); NDI, and Michael McNulty, Senior Program Manager, NDI (U.A.S.).

Ambassador Johnnie Carson, former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs and member of the Board, NDI who is also head of the delegation thanked President Sirleaf for the warm reception and audience accorded the delegation since their arrival in Liberia.

He reflected on progress made over the years and informed her the purpose of their visit is to assess the ongoing campaign activities, and as well evaluate the overall political atmosphere and other aspects of the elections preparations aimed at consolidating prospects for peaceful, transparent and credible elections comes October 10th.

He informed President Sirleaf that they have begun holding talks with various key stakeholders including the Inspector General of the Liberia National Police and described the meeting as successful.

He furthered, we have deployed observers in all 15 counties and will hold discussions with the leadership of the National Elections Commission among others. He added: “We recognize that this is an important moment for Liberia.”

Ambassador Carson commended President Sirleaf for her excellent leadership in leading the countrty which he said worth commendation.

He informed President Sirleaf that the NDI will issue a statement from their findings on Friday, September 8, 2017 at a Press Conference.

Responding, President Sirleaf thanked Ambassador Carson and team for their visit especially at this critical period in Liberia. She described the coming elections as a defining moment for Liberia.

She told the delegation that Liberia has come a long way to consolidate its peace and democracy although there are some challenges especially in the areas of roads, logistics, among others.

She said the National Elections Commission is prepared to conduct elections. She added that NEC has conducted several other elections, which according to her were credible.

“Campaigns are in heavy gear right now, and as you may recall; Presidential candidates signed on to the Farmington Declaration aimed at ensuring peaceful elections free of violence,” she said.

The Liberian leader used the occasion to inform the NDI delegation about overall atmosphere of the campaign period; stressing enthusiasm by both the candidates and electorates – thus citing respect for each other during political campaigning.

She noted: “One needs to look at this area carefully.”

She also informed the delegation that the Supreme Court will not be going for break giving the importance of the October elections.

She however expressed the hope that despite the challenges, the campaign is moving progressively in anticipation if free and fair elections that will be accepted by all.

*Culled from FPA

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With new Managing Director, Ghana’s MEST scales as Pan-African incubator
September 12, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jake Bright*

The MEST incubator has appointed Aaron Fu as its new Managing Director. This comes as the Accra based innovation hub scales up its presence across Africa.

Founded in 2008, MEST operates as a training program and seed fund for African innovators to build successful commercial tech companies.

Fu takes the helm after two years as Managing Partner at early stage VC firm Nest. He also co-founded Metta Kenya, a Nest backed space in Nairobi for tech entrepreneurs and investors. Interim MEST MD Katie Sarro will shift to Head of Partnerships and Fundraising.

Fu plans to focus on the incubator’s continued expansion. “A very big part of that is figuring out what elements we’ve rolled out in Accra that will scale to the rest of the market,” he told TechCrunch. “As the organization transitions to becoming a multi-country entity, there’s going to be some organizational changes…to make sure MEST’s impact also scales.”

The incubator currently has offices or on ground presence in Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa. It actively recruits in those countries and Cote d’Ivoire. MEST is in the process of opening physical incubator spaces in multiple countries.

“We want to connect our…startups to markets, resources customers, and teams from all across Africa to make their dream of building truly pan African companies a reality,” said Fu.

MEST’s expansion comes as Africa has seen its innovation spaces grow from a handful, less than a decade ago, to over 300, by a recent GSMA tally. Many of those hubs have been shifting away from singular market focus and an over reliance on grant funding toward broader reach and more revenue from investment related activities. This year Kenya’s iHub launched its own startup fund. Nigeria’s CCHub recently launched its Diaspora Challenge to tap talent and investment outside the country.

Funded primarily by Jorn Lyseggen’s Meltwater Foundation, MEST is also transitioning toward more investment activities. Its seed fund has supported several companies that went on to raise outside capital and two―Claimsyncand messaging app Saya―have been acquired. MEST’s new MD confirmed the incubator plans to launch a VC firm in the near future, though could not provide an exact timeline.

Fu sees a broader benefit to Africa’s tech sector from MEST’s expansion. “We’d like to connect all these smaller, vibrant ecosystems across the continent to present one unified ecosystem,” he said.

And on MEST’s commitment to commercial startups. “We definitely believe in building businesses not apps,” Fu said. “By doing that you create the hero figures to inspire the next generation. That inspires capital to be unlocked across the world to invest in African tech.”

 *Tech Crunch/Yahoo

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Liberia’s Election Campaign Gears Up as Sirleaf Prepares to Step Down
September 10, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Monique John*

FILE - Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, left, and Liberia President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, right, on arrival for talks with President Yahya Jammeh, in Banjul, Gambia.

FILE – Sierra Leone President, Ernest Bai Koroma, left, and Liberia President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, right, on arrival for talks with President Yahya Jammeh, in Banjul, Gambia.

Liberia is about a month away from what many hope will be the country’s first peaceful, democratic handover of power in decades.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has led the country since the elections in 2005, after the second civil war, but her legally mandated two terms are up.

Twenty candidates from 26 different parties are running to replace her. They have been facing off in a series of public debates, a first for Liberia.

A leading opposition candidate is former Coca Cola executive Alexander Cummings.

“If you keep doing the same things, you will not get different results,” notes Cummings, “the other fundamental truth is that the best predictor of future performance and future behavior is past performance and past behavior. And as Liberians go to the polls on October 10th, I ask you to keep those two truths in mind.”

Sirleaf has garnered international praise for stabilizing the war-ravaged country, but her Unity Party administration has been dogged by allegations of corruption.

Slogans like “Change for Hope,” Real Change, for Liberia” and “Change is Coming,” are plastered on campaign flyers all over Monrovia.

To reach young voters, the Alternative National Congress candidate has enlisted Hipco music artists, most notably Takun J, an outspoken critic of the current government.

“They lied to us. The government betray us,” the artist sings.

FILE -Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., Vice President of Liberia, arrives for a dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit, Aug. 5, 2014.

FILE -Joseph Nyuma Boakai, Sr., Vice President of Liberia, arrives for a dinner hosted by President Barack Obama for the U.S. Africa Leaders Summit, Aug. 5, 2014.

But Vice President Joseph Boakai is among the front-runners. The ruling party candidate has made infrastructure the cornerstone of his campaign.

“When people ask me what are the priorities of this country I say to them, number one roads, number two roads, number three roads,” he said. “There is no way we are going to expand the economy of this country when it is locked in.”

Other well-known faces leading the pack include the football star and senator, George Weah.

Weah lost to Sirleaf in the 2005 run-off election.

“Make no mistake, we will not sit idly and allow our democratic rights to be infringed upon,” Weah warned, “which will produce a leader that was not elected by the people, but elected by a few … your sacrifices will not be in vain. We seek nothing but a first round victory.”

But some voters say they are overwhelmed by all the choices or simply do not care.

“I am still searching, I have not found somebody yet,” Judy Degonteh Williams told VOA.

“We Liberians, we were hoping that the UP-led government would liberate us from the hands of poverty … but the UP government failed us,” opined Maxine B. Kennedy.

“I do not have nobody on my mind for presidency … I do not trust anyone,” confided Mercy Angeline Green.

Thomas Du of the Liberia office of the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute sees frustration among voters.

“When people are elected, they do not tend to keep a relationship with their constituents,” he noted. “With that, the constituents are trying to interpret that to mean that you only see me as important for my vote.”

That disconnect is not helped by the fact an estimated 64 percent of Liberians live below the poverty line.

Nelly Cooper is the president of the West Point Women Health and Development Organization, which played a key role in community response efforts during the regional Ebola epidemic, a crisis that laid bare the weakness of Liberia’s public health system.

She says the candidates need to be more specific about their agendas.

“What are they going to do for Liberia? What are they going to do for me? What are they going to do for my children?” Cooper asked.

But amid the wealth of candidates, you can see one aspect of Sirleaf’s legacy as Africa’s first female president. An unprecedented number of Liberian women are running for political office this year, including one female presidential candidate, six women running for vice president and a record or almost 160 women are seeking seats in the legislature.

*VOA

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Togo leader must quit now for protests to stop: opposition head
September 9, 2017 | 0 Comments
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Africa Roundup: eBay expands, Google CEO visits Lagos, Ghana enters space
September 8, 2017 | 0 Comments

By Jake Bright*

eBay opened up its U.S. platform to Africa through its partnership with MallforAfrica.com. Americans can now buy products on eBay from select vendors in six African countries, starting with merchandise categories of fashion, art, jewelry, and clothing.

For the new program, MallforAfrica selects the sellers and handles payments on its proprietary platform. DHL is the shipping partner. Online shoppers can browse the entire collection on eBay’s Mall for Africa Store.

The new online channel expands an existing relationship between the two e-commerce companies. In  2016, they launched the eBay Powered by MallforAfrica platform allowing U.S. vendors to sell in Africa.

The program taps goods from merchants in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Burundi. “We’ll be adding more sellers and more countries,” eBay’s Sylvie de Wever told TechCrunch in this feature.

Google launched new Africa initiatives, on the back of CEO Sundar Pichai’s recent Nigeria trip.

While visiting Lagos he announced the global internet services company’s plans to train 10 million Africans in digital skills over the next 5 years. Alphabet will also increase its funding to African startups, provide $20 million in grants to digital non-profits, and offer modified versions of products (such as YouTube) in Africa―where internet users can face costlier data plans and slower download speeds than other Google markets.

“A lot of what we’re doing is making it easier for the average person to take advantage of the web,” Bunmi Banjo, Google’s Growth Engine and Brand Lead for Sub-Saharan Africa, told TechCrunch.

Ghana’s first sattelite―GhanaSat-1―began its orbit recently, with a little help from some friends. The cubesat, built by a Ghanaian engineering team at All Nations University, was delivered to NASA’s International Space Station in June on a SpaceX rocket that took off from pad 39a at Kennedy Space Center, a NASA spokesperson.

Weeks later, GhanaSat-1 deployed into orbit from the Center and is now operational.

“This particular satellite has two missions,” Project Manager Damoah told TechCrunch. “It has cameras on board for detailed monitoring of the coastlines of Ghana. Then there’s an educational piece―we want to use it to integrate satellite technology into high school curriculum.”

The GhanaSat-1 deployment marks increased interest and activity in Africa toward space exploration.  Nigeria’s first cubesat launched on the same SpaceX mission. Several nations, such as South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia have space agencies. Angola announced its intention to launch a satellite over the coming year.

And the African Union announced its African Space Policy and Strategy initiative last year prompting AU members states  “to realize an African Outer space Programme, as one of the flagship programs….of the AU Agenda.”

Could we see an African space station sometime in the future? It seems quite ambitious. But then again, not so many years sceptics doubted that Africa’s tech sector would ever attract big VC, blue chip IT companies, or produce unicorns. All those milestones have been passed.

*Tech Crunch/Yahoo

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