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Merck foundation partner with Africa Reproductive Care Society (ARCS) to build fertility care capacity and advocacy in Africa
May 4, 2021 | 1 Comments

Merck Foundation announced this partnership during their 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary during the Fertility and Reproductive care session
Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President of Merck More Than a Mother with Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Reproductive Care Society & President of the Nigerian Academy of Medicine Specialties

Merck Foundation , the philanthropic arm of Merck KgaA, announced their partnership with Africa Reproductive Care society (ARCS) based in Lagos, Nigeria to build fertility and reproductive tube care capacity, build advocacy to break the stigma of infertility, and raise awareness about infertility prevention and male infertility in Africa as part of Merck Foundation More than a Mother campaign.

Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “We are very happy to partner with an important and inclusive Society like Africa Reproductive Care Society with the aim not to only provide scientific and clinics training to African Doctors and Embryologists but to also build advocacy to break the stigma of infertility and raise awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. We at Merck Foundation partnered with 20 African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education, Communication and Genders, Academia, Media & Art communities to achieve our goals to transform the landscape of fertility care in Africa, and we have achieved very important milestones. I believe with our new partnership with ARCS we will continue our efforts and address different aspects of this topic”.

Prof. Oladapo Ashiru, President of Africa Reproductive Care Society (ARCS) emphasized, “I am very happy to partner with Merck Foundation. Merck Foundation has been creating awareness and building fertility care capacity in Africa. It is very critical to create awareness around infertility prevention and management as around 85% of infertility cases in Africa are caused by untreated infectious diseases, hence are preventable in many cases. I also thank Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej for her energy, inspiration, and innovations. Together will do well for Africa”.

“I invite all fertility care experts & embryologists, media experts, fashion designers who are our Merck Foundation Alumni to join this society. Also, I invite policymakers, community leaders and members, singers and filmmakers to apply for the membership which is free and inclusive for all Africa”, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej added.

Merck Foundation announced this partnership during their 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary on 29th April 2021 during the Fertility and Reproductive care session, where they provided scientific and medical training for more than 400 doctors from Africa and Asia. And, discussed challenges, strategies, and solutions to improve access to quality, equitable and regulated fertility care in Africa and Asia.

This partnership is part of the Merck Foundation More than a Mother initiative.

About ‘Merck Foundation More Than a Mother’ campaign:
“Merck  Foundation More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe, effective and equitable fertility care solutions. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

With “Merck Foundation More Than a Mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility at all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child. 

The Ambassadors of “Merck Foundation More Than a Mother” are:

H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of BotswanaH.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The GambiaH.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia
H.E. SIKA KABORE, The First Lady of Burkina FasoH.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of GhanaH.E. AISHA BUHARI, The First Lady of Nigeria
H.E. ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE,

The First Lady of Burundi
H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea ConakryH.E FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone
H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African RepublicH.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of LiberiaH.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia
H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo BrazzavilleH.E. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of MalawiH.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe
H.E. DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, THE First Lady of Democratic Republic of CongoH.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique
The Former First Lady of Republic of Burundi, H.E Madam DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The Former First Lady of Chad, H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The Former First Lady of Republic of Malawi, H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA and The Former First Lady of Niger, H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU have worked successfully with Merck Foundation as Merck Foundation More Than a Mother Ambassadors to break the stigma of infertility and empower infertile women in their countries.

Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck Foundation More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;

  • ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Africa Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training
  • ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Fashion Awards
  • ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Film Awards
  • Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
  • Children storybook, localized for each country

About Africa Reproductive  Care Society ( ARCS):
ARCS aims to be the foremost contributor and the partner of choice in advancing the ART care solutions and advocating for improving access to regulated and equitable fertility care solutions and breaking the stigma around infertility in Africa with special focus on Sub- Saharan Africa.

ARCS will work closely with its members and partners to further its aim and objectives through supporting and facilitating programs of education, training, communication of knowledge, exchange of experience, and networking.

Membership is open to individuals from several interest groups who are engaged in practicing, developing and building capacity of the Reproductive Health care, science, ethics and management. It is also open for individuals who are involved in advocacy building and raising awareness with the aim to break the stigma of infertility, empowering infertile women and improve access to equitable, safe and effective fertility care solutions in Africa.

Members include; Medical doctors, Embryologists, Scientists, Psychologists, Social workers, Fertility Nurses and Counselors, Fertility advocates, and Health Media Representatives as well as affiliated nonprofit stakeholders who are involved in ART field.

ARCS Membership application is subject to the ARCS  Executive Board approval and is free of charge.

ARCS will not raise or receive funds from any organization or individuals.

Members will be able to apply for training programs that will be subject to ARSC Scientific and Educational committee screening and proceeding with affiliated training institutions with the purpose of recommendation.

*SOURCE Merck Foundation

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Zambia First Lady and Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Rasha Kelej co-chair Merck Foundation Conference 2021
May 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

  • Merck Foundation annual conference was inaugurated by the President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. Dr. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU and Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees.
  • African First Ladies of Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Namibia were the Guests of Honour for the Luminary.
  • Till today about 100,000 participants, healthcare providers, policymakers, and academia from 70 countries have attended the Luminary.

Lusaka, Zambia: Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KgaA conducted their 8th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” from 27th  – 29th April 2021, through an online videoconference. The conference was inaugurated by the President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. Dr. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU and Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees; and co-chaired by H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, Merck Foundation CEO & Co-chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary emphasized, “We have always believed in the importance of building healthcare capacity through providing training to healthcare providers in many medical specialties. Also, as a response to COVID 19 pandemic, we adopted the online medical education strategy to be able to continue with our efforts of healthcare capacity building. I am very proud that we have so far provided for more than 1100 Doctors from 42 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America with one & two-, three-year specialty training in multiple fields such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Human Assisted Reproduction and Embryology & Fertility specialty, to be the first in their countries. Moreover, we have now widened our horizons by introducing more scholarships for young doctors in many new underserved specialties across Africa and Asia.”

H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia and Co-chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021 emphasized, “We are proud of our partnership with Merck Foundation, which started in 2019. In a very short period, we have been able to reshape the healthcare landscape of Zambia by enrolling and providing training to more than 90 young doctors with specialty training in the fields of Cancer, Diabetes, Cardiology, Endocrinology, Respiratory, Acute medicines, Sexual and Reproductive Medicines, Fertility and Embryology. All of these fields are very critical and were lacking in our country. This will contribute to our battle against coronavirus and other diseases”.  

During his inauguration speech, The President of Zambia, H.E Dr. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU emphasized “I am very glad to be hosting this important conference together with Merck Foundation, our long-term strategic partner. It is a great honor to inaugurate the conference alongside the First Ladies of Africa. I am certain that this conference will help us to further explore partnership opportunities and introduce new frameworks for cooperation in the area of health care capacity building and to define interventions to break infertility stigma and support girl education”.

Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp, Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees expressed “Together, we continue to work in order to realize Merck Foundation’s vision: ‘Everyone in the world should lead a happy and fulfilling life’. We have achieved together, a huge success and we are going to continue and extend our support to achieve more”.

The 8th Edition of the Luminary marked another important milestone: the 4th Anniversary of Merck Foundation.

As part of the Luminary, Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Committee (MFFLI) High-Level Panel was conducted, which was attended by the 13 African First Ladies, who are the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother.

The keynote address was delivered by H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia as the host and co-chairperson of the conference along with

  • H.E. Mrs. ANA DIAS LOURENÇO, The First Lady of the Republic of Angola
  • H.E. Mrs. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of the Republic of Botswana
  • H.E. Madam SIKA KABORE, The First Lady of Burkina Faso
  • H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of the Republic of Burundi
  • H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic
  • H.E. Madam DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, The First Lady of the Democratic Republic of The Congo
  • H.E. Mrs. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana
  • H.E. Madam DJÈNÈ CONDÉ, The First Lady of the Republic of Guinea Conakry
  • H.E. Mrs. CLAR MARIE WEAH, The First Lady of the Republic of Liberia
  • H.E. Mrs. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of the Republic of Malawi
  • H.E. Mrs. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique
  • H.E. Mrs. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of the Republic of Namibia

The Day 1 of the 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary was attended by close to 100,000 participants, Healthcare providers, policymakers, academia, researchers, and media from more than 70 Countries in four languages English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

On Day 2 of the conference, MARS- Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit was held where a High-Level Panel Discussion with Ministers of Health, Science and Technology, Education, Information And Gender and MARS Researchers was held with the objective to empower African young researchers & women researchers, advancing their research capacity and empower them in STEM.

On the third day, Merck Foundation Health Media Training was organized for the African and Latin American Media fraternity to emphasize the important role that media plays to break the stigma around infertility, in raising awareness about infertility prevention, and empowering girls and women through education.

Other important scientific sessions in different medical fields were also held in parallel on Day 2 and Day 3 of the Luminary.

Countries participating include Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central Africa Republic, Cambodia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea – Bissau, Guinea – Conakry, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, U.A.E, UK, Uganda, US, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe and more.

Link to the Facebook live steam of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary Inauguration & Africa’s First Ladies High Level Panel – MFFLI 2021:

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African Energy Downstream Committee to drive African competitiveness, jobs, local content, energy, and maritime security.
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

Swiss-based downstream expert Philippe Cohen has joined the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board. Photo courtesy

The African Energy Chamber, has created a Downstream Committee to engage more closely with Africa’s energy marketing, storage and trading developments and trends. 

Further, Swiss-based downstream expert Philippe Cohen has joined the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board. Philippe will be mentoring and supporting the work of the African Energy Chamber by spearheading the newly established Downstream Committee. 

“Our continent has been engaged in commodity trading for decades, and we need to ensure that we trade African commodities like crude oil and LNG in Africa for our own industrialization and growth. Trading houses and governments must start seeing Africa as a market, and not just as a farm to supply other continents” stated NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

The African Energy Chamber believes that the Downstream and Midstream Activities of our African energy sector are key drivers for change in the overall industry. Philippe is an accomplished and result-driven gentleman who understands the most pressing issues the downstream sector is facing today, from origination to financing and from organic growth to expansion via mergers and acquisitions.

Local content and African participation have to be an integral part of the downstream sector, especially with energy downstream trading companies. We need to change the face of trading firms when it comes to financing and trading commodities in Africa, as well as the operators’ jobs and in the executive suite. It is not correct that many of the commodity trading companies making billions of dollars in Africa with African resources have no Africans in senior management. This needs to change.

Our downstream committee has a responsibility to advocate for regulations and policies that promote growth and investment in Africa’s downstream sector. This will help drive a lot of African economies, create the needed jobs, work with governments on energy and maritime security and push Africa to remain competitive in the global economy.

Moving Africa towards our obligations for carbon neutrality is essential when it comes to the energy marketing and trading. The African Energy Chamber aims to be proactive in driving Africa’s downstream sector to make the necessary changes, especially given the available technology, rather than waiting for directions from bureaucrats or Western groups.

Trading houses and governments must start seeing Africa as a market, and not just as a farm to supply other continents, says NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber.

“With the AfCFTA Agreement, we need to urgently implement provisions that open and enable market access for African downstream players, who need to be respected and encouraged to grow in Africa by government cutting the red tape for them operate. We are honored to have Mr Cohen joining our board.” Added Mr Ayuk.

Our committee members, working with various African governments and national energy companies to communicate regularly about the policies which are working, and those which could be made to work better will only benefit African families and businesses.

Africa has been home to some of the most entrepreneurial commodity trading houses like Vitol, Puma, Vivo, Glencore, Trafigura, Litasco, Sahara Energy, Oando, Oryx Energies and Mocoh, just to name a few. We must encourage them and also open doors for new actors, including African home-grown companies.

*Courtesy of African Energy Chamber

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How a Career in Public Relations helped shape an African Royal
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

APO Group’s Ewetse Khama is trading in his career in the PR industry to claim his birthright and serve his people as a member of a prominent royal family in Botswana.

APO Group’s Ewetse Khama is trading in his career in the PR industry to claim his birthright and serve his people as a member of a prominent royal family in Botswana

To some, it might seem like an unusual career trajectory, but for Ewetse Khama, working in the Public Relations industry in Africa has been the perfect preparation for the next step in his unique journey.

From today, Ewetse is stepping down from his role at APO Group , the leading pan-African communications consultancy and press release distribution service, to serve his country and his people. This year, Ewetse’s father, Sekgoma Tshekedi Khama, retired from active duty in the Bamangwato tribe. This made way for the eldest son, Ewetse to assume his father’s role as a Kgosi – a Batswana term meaning ‘Chief’, ‘King’ or ‘Elder’ – in the Khama Family, one of Botswana’s most prominent royal families.

The Khamas have a long and illustrious history in Botswana. Ewetse’s paternal uncle, Sir Seretse Khama, served as the country’s first President after independence in 1966, and was the subject of a Hollywood blockbuster – A United Kingdom – about his marriage to English woman Ruth Williams. Sir Seretse’s eldest son, Lieutenant General Seretse Khama Ian Khama was Botswana’s 4th President from 2008-2018.

Botswana is one of the most peaceful countries in Africa, which Ewetse attributes partly to the role that traditional leaders play as a conduit between government and the people, especially in promoting harmony and understanding. 

That might be one of the reasons the PR industry has been such a good fit for Ewetse, helping prepare him for the big challenges that lie ahead.

“I felt that I needed to do things for myself and forge my own career, instead of relying on my name or status,” Ewetse says. “As a Khama, I had so much choice in life because many doors were always open to us, I could do or be anything I wanted. But I have always felt strongly about communications and working with people, so PR seemed like the perfect choice.”

Working within the PR Agency division of APO Group has given Ewetse a grounding, and a sense of normality. It has also broadened his horizons internationally, and given him new perspectives on Africa after being educated in Europe. Ewetse believes his PR career – and his time at APO Group – will help make him a better leader.

“I’m a good listener, which is essential in PR. You listen to what somebody has to say, then you help them develop their ideas, and connect with their audiences. The key appeal to me is that Public Relations is really about creating opportunities for people.” 

Ewetse’s work with APO Group has certainly helped him do that. He has offered a guiding hand to many multinational organizations looking to navigate the diverse African media landscape. His experience and local knowledge has enabled those companies to succeed in markets that are often difficult to crack. Like all his APO Group colleagues, Ewetse is passionate about Africa, and provided customers with ‘on-the-ground’ networking and support.     

As APO Group Founder and Chairman, Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard explains: “Not everyone in our team is from African royalty! But they are all deeply attuned to the people, country and region in which they live and operate. Ewetse’s extraordinary story epitomises our commitment to local expertise, and is also a testament to APO’s talent pool across Africa.”

APO Group holds a unique position in the Public Relations industry in Africa. Formerly known as the African Press Organization, it has been providing content to media in all 54 African countries since 2007. Journalists in Africa know and trust APO Group, making them the perfect partner for companies looking to develop their presence on the continent.

Ewetse is now looking to bring the communications skills he honed in the PR industry into his new role as a Kgosi – a Batswana term meaning ‘Chief’, ‘King’ or ‘Elder’ – where his responsibilities include fostering local consensus and governance while also promoting social welfare and the economic empowerment of disadvantaged groups.

“My time at APO Group has been an important part of my career, and I am proud of the work we have done to help our multinational clients and drive business into African economies. I have great memories of the people and the experiences I’ve enjoyed along the way. They will stand me in good stead as I take this next exciting step!” 

Even though Ewetse has now moved on to serve his community and country, he will be remembered fondly by his former colleagues.

“Ewetse will always be a valued part of the APO Group team – a colleague and a friend,” Nicolas Pompigne-Mognard says. “We will miss him, of course, but APO Group’s loss is Botswana’s gain. His nation is lucky to have him. I am grateful for the fact that, thanks to our fantastic team, our clients across Africa will continue to receive a royal standard of quality service!”

*Source APO

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Thompson Reuters ,Adapt IT Expand Relationship to Prioritise Technologal Agility in Sub-Saharan Africa
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

Strategic collaboration will help region’s technology-enabled businesses accelerate digital transformation and operational efficiencies

A newly expanded collaboration between Thomson Reuters , a leading provider of business information services, and Adapt IT , a reputed service provider of leading specialised software and digitally-led business solutions in Sub-Saharan Africa, will enable more businesses across the region gain competitive advantages through the technology solutions both provide.

With economic recovery and growth for the region forecast at 2.7% for 2021 according to the World Bank, the drive for digital transformation across business in multiple industry sectors is accelerating following a year of contraction driven by the COVID-19 pandemic. The combined capabilities of Thomson Reuters and Adapt IT ensure a broader range of technology implementations, increased operational efficiencies, and enhanced maintenance and service support for existing and new clients in markets across Sub-Saharan Africa.

“In the same way that our clients trust us to empower them with systems and technologies that can scale with their business, our collaboration with Adapt IT will enable us to increase the breadth and depth of our service footprint across this key region,” said Jackie Rhodes, managing director, Asia & Emerging Markets at Thomson Reuters. “The synergies we enjoy in terms of providing best-in-class solutions will benefit our respective clients, ensure a consistent level of quality engagement, and support and deliver a significantly stronger offering.”

Organisations currently leveraging legal, tax, global trade software, regulatory intelligence, and compliance solutions from Thomson Reuters will benefit from the new arrangement with Adapt IT, including access to their business advisory capabilities and established network.

Tiffany Dunsdon, chief commercial officer, Adapt IT, said: “Our alliance with Thomson Reuters means more clients can access more world class technology solutions backed up by local expertise and the deep sector knowledge Adapt IT offers. We’re delighted to be working together to help corporations achieve greater success in an increasingly complex business environment.”

Thomson Reuters:
Thomson Reuters is a leading provider of business information services. Our products include highly specialized information-enabled software and tools for legal, tax, accounting and compliance professionals combined with the world’s most global news service

Adapt IT:
Adapt IT is a provider of leading specialised software and digitally-led business solutions that assist clients across the targeted industries to Achieve more by improving their Customer Experience, Core

Business Operations, Business Administration, Enterprise Resource Planning and Public Service Delivery. Adapt IT is a Level 1 B-BBEE contributor.

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Solving the digital health divide in Africa through scaled up public-private support for digital innovation
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

This was the consensus amongst high level global and African health experts who came together for a recent online discussion
Dr Ernest Darkoh

Digital innovation is vital for the advancement of African economies and their health services, but to make this possible certain large stumbling blocks need to be removed.

This was the consensus amongst high level global and African health experts who came together for a recent online discussion co-hosted by the Africa Health Alliance (AHA) and USA Healthcare Alliance (USAHA) on promoting healthcare infrastructure and bridging the digital divide in Africa. Major challenges discussed included lacking broadband infrastructure, a shortage of digitised data for actionable systemic insights, and inadequate long-term investing and political support for innovative health technologies from Africa.

Three of the participants, Microsoft , BroadReach Group and access.mobile International , shared their experiences in successfully partnering with each other and with other roleplayers to solve complex healthcare challenges at scale on the continent.

It was agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic presented a rare window of opportunity for Africa’s health sector to come to terms with many long-time systemic challenges and to use their newfound momentum to mobilise vital role players, technology, available funding, and improved ways of working, to solve more than just the pandemic for the long term.

“I like to use the analogy of the elephant and cheetah,” said Dr Ernest Darkoh, BroadReach Group co-founder, World Economic Forum’s Schwab Foundation board member and TIME Health Hero. “The private sector has the speed and agility of the cheetah and governments the strength of the elephant. When the road is cluttered with rocks, you need the might of the elephant to clear the way so that the cheetah can get through.” Examples of such public-private partnerships included the sourcing of broadband or laptops for rural clinic staff.

“It is time to partner the cheetah and the elephant and it is time to scale. It is time to put our money where our mouths are and invest in scalable systems – our lives literally depend on it. COVID is a watershed moment that has made us realise we need to start doing things differently. We can’t approach this in the same way that we’ve approached other things that have taken so long to gain acceptance,” said Darkoh, referring to Africa’s longtime fights against malaria, TB and HIV.

“Technology has the power to improve health outcomes, specifically access to care, quality of care, and patient and provider experience, so that you can remove waste and improve efficiency of care,” said Dr David Rhew, global chief medical officer at Microsoft.

Rhew, who is also an infectious diseases doctor, technologist and researcher on how technology can be used to improve public health outcomes, said Microsoft provided healthcare support around the globe and in Africa, both in the clinical realm of electronic health records and with digital technologies that consumers and patients used. One of its most recent innovations is an artificial intelligence (AI) powered “COVID-bot” to help triage patients. Microsoft noticed however that they always came up against the same challenges: the lack of streamlined communications and broadband access.

It was for this reason that Microsoft got involved in providing broadband access through technologies such as TV white space (unused spectrum that can be used to transmit WiFi). They have also worked with BroadReach on its AI-based health data platform Vantage, and mass mobile communications partner access.mobile to assist governments and regions with large scale interventions for more equitable healthcare provision to large, vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations.

Governments such as South Africa’s conducted extensive door-to-door screening campaigns at the beginning of the pandemic to find out people’s ages and comorbidities. In partnership with provincial governments, BroadReach also gathered screening data including valuable granular details such as the geolocation, household information and categorisation of patients. Darkoh explained that the challenge was that scalable solutions were not always in place at a broader systemic level for decision-makers to use this data effectively.

To solve such challenges, it was important to remember that you did not have to reinvent the wheel, said Darkoh. The private sector, digital innovators and different government departments already had many of the health technology solutions that governments were now seeking – the key was to open up opportunities for information sharing, collaboration, procurement and interoperability of existing systems.

“For many African innovators there is no path to market and the prospect of being contracted by the government is unrealistic – they can’t even have those conversations with their governments to support their technology. We need to elevate the conversation back to the political will level, for example to make decisions such as ‘let’s get every clinic connected to the grid for electricity and WiFi.’ There are some big rocks we need to move. Let’s run the health system the same way we do the central banks: independent of the election cycle or which political party is in power, on a ten year timeframe to get things done.”

This sentiment was echoed by Kaakpema “KP” Yelpaala, Chairman and Founder of access.mobile International (www.AccessMobile.io/about-us), an organisation with the mission to use digital communication channels to improve access to health services and to support positive behaviour change in the healthcare space. The company has worked at scale in 13 countries across West, East and Southern Africa since being founded in 2011.

“Every African country you go to you will find incredible digital health innovation. As Ernest mentioned, the problem is they are not scaling and the barrier that is driving that digital divide is an infrastructure one,” Yelpaala said.

Yelpaala also believed another key solution for the divide was to bring on board “investors with a long-term view on returns”.

Opportunities needed to be viewed in the context of the generational shift currently happening in Africa. “The population is young and this always presented us with a bit of a conundrum. Young people were active digital innovators and consumers, but tended to be healthy and to not seek out health information. This is changing with the pandemic. We are in Generation One of digital health adoption on the continent. As Gen One ages and the generation behind them start adopting digital health, at that point we’ll see it starting to exponentiate. It’s really frankly just a matter of time.”

Yelpaala believed digital innovation was “going to be one of the key pathways to how African economies and health services are going to be transformed” and that African innovations would be used in other parts of the world. This could be made possible through strong public-private partnerships and investment in the already impressive digital innovation that existed in Africa, he said.

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1Day Africa, an African vaccine non-profit, calls for African volunteers to be eligible for UK COVID-19 human challenge trials
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

International volunteers are currently excluded from UK COVID-19 human challenge trials, in which volunteers are deliberately exposed to SARS-CoV-2 to advance medical research. 

Zacharia Kafuko, 1Day Africa’s Manager

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA: 1Day Africa— the African chapter of 1Day Sooner, a vaccine non-profit advocating for research volunteers— is calling for African volunteers to be eligible for ongoing and they upcoming COVID-19 human challenge trials in the United Kingdom. In these trials, volunteers are being deliberately exposed to SARS-CoV-2 to learn more about the disease and potentially test vaccines and treatments. Hundreds of Africans have expressed interest in volunteering for challenge trials, but studies so far are only accepting British volunteers.

Zacharia Kafuko, 1Day Africa’s Manager, argued for the participation of international volunteers in these important research trials in the Journal of Medical Ethics blog, a prominent UK ethics journal. In the piece, he argued that “The UK has outstanding capacity and initiative to conduct COVID-19 human challenge trials, and these trials should not be held back by a lack of volunteers when thousands around the world— myself included— are willing to participate.”

The UK has historically led the way with human challenge trials and need to continue to do so. The scientific benefits of including a wider sample space of participants outweighs the logistical complexity it brings. This is why African participants should be allowed to participate in future UK challenge trials”- Devon (South Africa)

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Energy Capital & Power, Kanflooens Partnership to Strengthen U.S.-Africa Energy Investment Opportunities
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

The partnership will help facilitate deals in the African and U.S. energy sectors, promoting investment and engagement
Kanflooens’ Founding Partner, Ngozi Onyejekwe
HOUSTON, United States of America, May 3, 2021/ — U.S consulting firm Kanflooens is a strategic partner of Energy Capital & Power (ECP) for the highly anticipated U.S. Africa Energy Forum (USAEF); With the first-ever USAEF event taking place both virtually and in-person in Washington D.C. on 12 July and in Houston for the main summit and gala dinner on 4-5 October 2021, the partnership will help facilitate deals in the African and U.S. energy sectors, promoting investment and engagement; Hosted by ECP and in partnership with the African Energy Chamber U.S.-Africa Committee, USAEF 2021 brings together industry leaders across the entire energy value chain to stimulate progress and partnership between Africa and the United States.

Energy Capital & Power (ECP) has signed a strategic partnership with U.S. consulting firm Kanflooens for the U.S-Africa Energy Forum (USAEF), taking place in Houston on 4-5 October 2021, with a preceding networking event on 12 July in Washington. With transformative African investment opportunities at the forefront of a global post-COVID-19 recovery, and the Biden administration taking a renewed look at U.S.-Africa relations, the partnership represents a fundamental opportunity for promoting investment and facilitating deal making between the two continents.

The strategic partnership allows ECP to leverage Kanflooens’ expertise in building and facilitating deals in the African and U.S. energy sector, while establishing Kanflooens’ Founding Partner, Ngozi Onyejekwe, as a member of the ECP organizing team. Onyejekwe will facilitate meetings and set up deals between U.S. and African firms, representing ECP on the ground in Lagos, Abuja, Houston and other key U.S. locations.

“Kanflooens is excited to partner with ECP on this inaugural USAEF event, to share content, shape the narrative about Africa engage the global community and turn these into positive investments for Africa. The USAEF will provide the space for candid conversations; best practice scenarios and actionable learnings; and insights into technology and innovation. Critically, it will provide the platform to drive investment and establish a solid roadmap that addresses the entire energy value chain,” stated Ngozi Onyejekwe, Founding Partner, Kanflooens.

USAEF 2021 will focus on the energy transition; energy storage and battery metals; Africa’s place in global energy supply chains; gas as a vital fuel for the energy transition and development; the ongoing role of petroleum resources; and repositioning the U.S. as the primary partner of choice for African energy developers. With numerous opportunities present across the entire African energy value chain, ECP’s partnership with Kanflooens represents an important step in creating new connections between American and African stakeholders. 

“USAEF 2021 represents a call to action for U.S. energy companies to take advantage of African investment opportunities, across the energy value chain, and participate in the continent’s economic transformation. By drawing on Kanflooens’ expertise, and utilizing the company’s influential position and valuable network, ECP is directing attention to America’s role in Africa’s future, advancing an agenda of sustainable, long-term investment and relations,” says James Chester, Senior Director, ECP. 

To learn more about U.S.-Africa energy investment opportunities, and to find out more information regarding sponsorship opportunities at USAEF 2021, visit www.USAfricaEnergy.com or contact James Chester at james@energycapitalpower.com.
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South Sudan to Graduate Unified Forces in May
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Juba – The transitional government of South Sudan government has said it is planning to graduate the unified forces before 31 May in an attempt to escape further arms embargo sanctions.

The plan comes amidst new conditions set by the UN Security Council (UNSC), demanding that the Juba government should complete implementation of key provisions in the 2018 peace deal before the end of May.

The UNSC says the security sector transformation, completion of transitional security arrangement, redeployment plans of the necessary unified forces, and graduation of unified forces must be accomplished before the end of this May.

The Security Council first slapped an arms embargo on South Sudan in 2018 which has since been renewed several times, most recently until 31 May 2021.

South Sudan has less than a month to convince the UN Security Council to lift the arms embargo and sanctions imposed on the country.

The restrictions are expected to be extended or lifted on the 31st of May 2021 depending on whether South Sudan meets certain set benchmarks on the implementation of the peace deal.

These include progress on political and governance issues and security sector reforms.

According to the Security Council, the lack of a security strategy, resources and funding has impeded progress in the implementation of the transitional security arrangements, including the proper functioning of the cantonment and training sites.

In the assessment last month, the council said the formation, training, and redeployment of the necessary unified forces, in accordance with chapter 2 of the Revitalized Agreement, has yet to move forward.

It said recent civilian disarmament campaigns have been unsuccessful and resulted in violence, notably in Warrap State in August 2020.

It stated the parties to the conflict had continued to recruit new troops, contrary to the provisions of the Revitalized Agreement.

The Council also cited defections and changes of allegiance among the parties, saying they “continue to undermine the implementation of the Revitalized Agreement and the permanent ceasefire.”

Juba says it is currently putting down strategies to ensure successful graduation of the unified forces take place this month and that the unification of command of the various forces from parties that signed the peace deal is also ongoing.

The Country’s Minister of Defense and Veterans Affairs, Angelina Teny said the government have no option because the United Nations has preconditioned the lifting of the arms embargo on the implementation of security reforms stipulated in the revitalized peace agreement.

“We cannot afford to not graduate these forces. I want to emphasize that it is the agreement itself. It is the future of the stability of this country. And it is what will give us lasting peace in this country. And we see to it that these forces are going to graduate before May 31st,” Angelina told the journalists in Juba.

Minister Angelina says the UN Security Council has done an assessment and extensive consultations to see whether South Sudan meets the criteria.

Of recently, the former UN Mission in South Sudan chief said despite the formation of transitional government in February 2020, the implementation process remains fragile.

This year, President Salva Kiir and his five deputies had agreed to graduate the first batch of the unified forces despite lack of sufficient equipment. 

According to the 2018 revitalized peace deal, South Sudan is supposed to train and graduate 83,000 personnel to take charge of security during the transitional period but the graduation and unification of the army has been delayed with Juba government officials citing the existing arms embargo imposed by the United Nations and the United States as being the obstacles and resulted to lack of arms for graduating the unified army comprising of government and opposition forces.

The arms embargo empowers all UN Member States to prevent arms and related equipment of all types – including weapons and ammunition, military vehicles and equipment, paramilitary equipment, and any spare parts – from entering South Sudan.

The soldiers have been undergoing training in the cantonments across South Sudan since late 2019 

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Sierra Leone: APC Reformation Movement says Alfred Peter Conteh Court action was to create an equal playing field for everyone in the party
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Alfred Peter Conteh

The All People’s Congress Reformation Movement (ARM) has said that Alfred Peter Conteh’s quest to taking the leadership  of the party to court was on the backdrop of allowing an equal playing field for one an all, adding that he wanted to see an APC that is free from vices and ready to stand up for its people.

According to the release,  they believed that, him (Alfred Peter Conteh) wanted  to see his party  caters for the suffering masses that are dismally wallowing in opposition threat thus it is on that note, that one of its members  has pushed for a redress at the court of law which he believes  is the only way to get justice.

“As a true son of the APC, he commends the effort being made so far by the Ernest Koroma’s executive, but urged the people to aware that they (Ernest Bai Koroma and his executive) are not in charge anymore until we have an adopted constitution and a convention to elect the next executive that will be leading us to State House in 2023,’’the release reads.

The release noted that, Conteh has staked his life to fight against the Ernest Bai Koroma’s illegal and failed leadership to hold firm to the cause of a new dawn in the party adding that his fight is not about aging or personal interest as there are lot of people in the APC Reformation Movement (ARM) and the National Reformation Movement (NRM) who are far older than Ernest Koroma.

“Being tagged as the APC freedom fighter, Alfred Peter Conteh espouses that, this is the time for every comrade of the APC to brace up and accept the wind of change. He warns that, the illegal executive of Ernest Bai Koroma must not tread on the path to challenging the prayers put forward in the court as there are more facts to be unfold in the ongoing matter,’’ the release further noted.

The   group said, this is not the time to shy away the executive because they are not in charge, but to encourage each and every comrade to join the bandwagon while they march towards victory adding that they believed those who were once appointed, though illegally, but most do not have an alternative by then.

 “He therefore calls on everyone to stay calm and stay put while an interim body will be set up to lead us all to the adoption of our draft constitution and our delegate conference. There is always victory for the APC party even at a time when everyone sees it impossible. But that victory can only be achieved now if we all agree to move on as the court has ordered. Let us all put away our egos and drop our prides for the betterment of our grassroots. The APC has always been the party for the grassroots and we will continue to stand firm for the grassroots,’’ Alfred Peter Conteh lamented.

The APC Reformation movement therefore called on everyone to stay calm and stay put while an interim body will be set up to lead us all to the adoption of our draft constitution and our delegate conference. At this juncture, the reformation calls on all to be supportive to the changing narratives of the party. Winning is here!!!

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Ethiopian airlines suspends domestic flights in Mozambique
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

Ethiopian Mozambique, a subsidiary of Ethiopian Airlines, has indefinitely suspended its domestic flights connecting several provincial capitals, the company announced in a statement seen by Pan African Visions on Monday.

The company says that due to covid-19, demand has fallen and it has become unsustainable to continue operations. It adds that flights will resume as soon as conditions improve.

Ethiopian Mozambique Airlines started flights on December 1, 2018. The new airline serveded  8 domestic points in Mozambique including the capital Maputo, Nampula, Tete, Pemba, Beira, Nacala, Quelimane and Chimoio.

Ethiopian was selling tickets for Mozambican domestic routes at prices much cheaper than those charged by state-owned Mozambique Airlines LAM.

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African Women Can Build a Better Future for All Africans with Oil and Natural Gas if Men Just Step Back
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By NJ Ayuk*

President Samia of Tanzania inspects a guard of honour.Photo credit Tanzania State House

Over the last 30 days President Samia Suluhu Hassan has become the most important woman in the African energy industry. She has taken some of the most courageous steps in rebooting Tanzania’s energy sector and economy. 

The signing of the East Africa Crude Oil Pipeline with President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda was a perfect start into her presidency, pushing for expedited negotiations on the stalled Tanzania LNG project with Anglo-Dutch Shell and Norway’s Equinor. Further pushing her own government to remove unfriendly taxes to Tanzanians, noting that the countries tax revenues are likely to decline in the short term but will increase in the long term. With low taxes, less corruption and limited regulations, you create jobs and attract the critically needed investment to reboot the economy in a post Covid 19 Tanzania.

In my opinion, these are swift acts of political courage in the Tanzanian context and I believe equally impressive was the political courage for a female leader in Africa. President Hassan recognizes pragmatic commonsense solutions are needed, when it comes to energy and it is best to unify the country and get LNG and Crude oil projects going. She is an example and an inspiration for generations of African leaders, men and women alike. 

I lived, studied and worked in the United States and one thing that stood out to me was this: The American sense of optimism and a belief that women can lead. Even now, during these troubled days, that mindset is still there. Living in America offers unique opportunities. People can start with very little, work hard and make a better life for themselves, their children and the generations that follow.

Achieving those things – the American Dream – doesn’t happen for everyone. But it does happen enough to make it more than a myth or fantasy. In May 2020, a New York Times article assured readers of that very fact, noting that 86 percent of Americans raised in low-income brackets now earn more than their parents did. “Capitalism isn’t broken,” the editorial states. “Hard work does pay off. Workers do enjoy the fruits of their labor.”

I saw it with my own eyes. So, can Africans aspire to the same things? Can African women dream big dreams like their American counterparts breaking the glass ceiling or Breaking the Gas Ceiling, as author Rebecca Ponton calls it in the title of her book? Can we achieve an equally powerful African dream that includes or is led by women? A dream of stability and prosperity? My answer is a resounding YES.

After all, Africa has plenty of unique strengths and resources, from our talented young people to the oil in the ground. The African Dream is within our reach if women take charge and lead it. African men certainly need to adjust our thinking. So, what is holding us back? Ourselves.

If we want to see widespread change for the better, we need to stop dwelling on our obstacles or blaming people, governments or circumstances for our difficulties.

If we want to make things better, then we need to be the ones to make it happen. We need to find unique solutions for our unique challenges and work as long and hard as necessary to make our strategies successful. Essentially, we need to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. We need to let women lead the way. Seriously, men need to step back a little. I’ve shared those ideas in the past, and people don’t like them.

They tell me I’m failing to consider Africa’s history of colonialization and oppression. They tell me I don’t understand the corrupt government systems we have in Africa put in place by the colonial powers. They say poverty, lack of infrastructure and dangers are everyday realities for many. You can’t just say, “Women cannot take on these challenges and fix them. Women are not ready to deal with this.”

My response to that is, I’m not for a minute diminishing Africa’s painful history or dismissing the problems the continent faces today. I just wonder, how long are we going to use our hardships as excuses not to move forward? Women can lead us out of this mess, so why stand in the way? Because, if we can agree we want more and commit to doing the really hard work that it takes to get it, we can make transformational changes in Africa.

African nations already have examples to draw upon, beginning with other colonized countries. Taiwan, for example, was both a Dutch and Japanese colony. Today, it has GDP per capita levels on par with Germany. Women play a strong role in both economies. How about India? Decades after gaining independence from Britain, it is the fastest-growing trillion-dollar economy in the world and the fifth largest overall, with a nominal GDP of $2.94 trillion. Women have a lot of leadership roles and are sharpening policies.

Then there’s Trinidad and Tobago, one of my favorite examples. Claimed by the Spanish – then held by the British, Dutch and French – the dual-island nation finally became independent in 1962. It’s now the wealthiest nation in the Caribbean. It’s also the third richest by GDP per capita in the Americas. Trinidad and Tobago’s wealth, by the way, is due to its strategic approach to monetizing its natural gas resources.

There is an African example, and we look at Rwanda. Rwanda has an amazing record for gender equality, but one that came about through tragedy. After a mass genocide against the Tutsis in 1994, the responsibility to rebuild the country fell to the women, who made up 70 percent of the remaining population. Legislation was introduced to promote women’s education as well as their roles in business and infrastructure. A new law stipulated that 30 percent of the government must be female and, in 2018, 64 percent of the country’s parliament were women – more than anywhere else in the world. The economic results have been resounding and there is less corruption. There is a big benefit when a country skips the social upheaval and goes straight to pro-women policies. We in Africa must take an aggressive shortcut through history. We can learn from Rwanda.

I’m not saying life is perfect in any of these places, but they’ve moved in the right direction. Why can’t resource-rich African nations do the same?

Oil and Gas Can Help Get Us There

Africa’s vast oil and gas resources are one of the things that make the continent unique. They are key to a better future. But what we need is for women to have greater control over them.

How do we make that happen? Let’s start with this: Government and business representatives in Africa need to negotiate better oil and gas production deals with international companies.

We need to create local content policies that improve job and business opportunities for Africans but are still fair to companies investing in the continent. We need to insist upon, and strategically develop, better oil money management policies. We need to monetize our natural gas resources so we can build infrastructure and diversify African economies. And we need to create more opportunities for African women to build promising oil and gas careers at all levels, right up to the C-suite.

We need to stop flaring gas and, instead, more countries need to start using Africa’s abundant natural gas resources for power generation, so we can deliver widespread, reliable electricity to Africans. At the same time, we should be developing strategies for a transition to green energy sources, which can play a valuable supporting role in alleviating energy poverty. Think about it, most men have tried to do the above; the truth is, [progress] has been slow or it has not worked. Change is needed. I don’t think women are the only solution, but women bring onboard different leadership qualities that can get us into the promised land.

Government and More

Clearly, we need to fill in other pieces of the puzzle as well, including improvements to our educational system, and good governance that creates an enabling environment for widespread economic growth and improved infrastructure.

But, perhaps most of all, we need an unwavering determination to make Africa work for us, even when there are missteps and things go wrong.

U.S. Shale

That brings us back to American optimism. One shining example of that mindset is the U.S. shale industry. Think about it: Businesses took a chance on new technology.

They worked hard and, in the end, they boosted oil and gas production. America became the largest crude oil producer in the world. Those companies made something extraordinary happen, and so can African businesses and governments. We need to have mindset change and embrace new things and the idea of women leading us should not be seen as some Western idea.

Whether we’re talking about oil and gas, other economic sectors or government, we need people willing to seize opportunities, to take a chance on something new and, in some cases, make mistakes. In the process, we grow and learn, and we keep pressing forward.

My message to Africans and to the world is, Africa is more than capable of building a better future for ourselves, strengthening our economies and improving the lives of everyday Africans. Who is going to do it, if not us? And really, nobody besides us can truly make Africa the place we want it to be. Africa’s future is our responsibility. Can we let women lead it, especially with our natural resources? How can we make it happen? Even in difficult times, the American Dream is alive and well. The question is, can Africans aspire to the same things? Can there be an equally powerful African Dream?

Empowering Women for a Stronger, Healthier Oil and Gas Industry

I’m shocked when I’m questioned on my fervent support for women and energy. Even more, I’m sad that I often feel I have to defend my right to care about this issue because I’m a man.

While it has been difficult to find hard data on female participation in Africa’s oil and gas industry, anecdotal evidence shows that women are vastly underrepresented. I believe this is unacceptable, shortsighted and, frankly, a real stumbling block to African countries that want to realize the full socioeconomic benefits that a thriving oil and gas industry can provide. If you truly want your nation to thrive, why wouldn’t you do everything in your power to help half of your population participate in one of your most lucrative industries?

Companies, in particular, have a lot to gain by creating opportunities for women, including improved public perceptions, a stabilizing role on the African communities where they work and live, and an expanded talent pool at a time when the oil and gas industry is grappling with serious skills shortages.

We need to empower more African women to benefit from the oil and gas industry, whether we’re talking about opportunities for boots on the ground jobs at drill sites, professional positions, leadership roles or business opportunities for women-owned enterprises.

As actress Emma Watson said during her [2014] speech to the United Nations: “I’m inviting you to step forward to be seen, and to ask yourselves, ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’”

*NJ Ayuk is President of the African Energy Chamber

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Cameroon: British Gov’t Calls for International, Independent Investigations into Anglophone Crisis
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Security forces and non-state armed groups have been accused of carrying out gross human rights violations

The UK government says it is deeply concerned with the ongoing violence in the North West and South West Regions of Cameroon as violence continues unabated. The close to five years crisis has led to thousands of persons displaced to neighbouring Nigeria as refugees or in other safe heavens in the country, while others have been killed, maimed or kidnapped for ransom.

In a letter by James Duddridge, MP and Minister for Africa, responding to correspondence from Rt Hon Ed Davey (MP, House of Commons), He said the crisis has continued to have a tragic impact on civilians.

“I will like to assure you that the UK government continues to call for inclusive dialogue that addresses the root causes of the crisis. We have shared our experience of conflict resolution and we call on all parties to remain engaged in Swiss-led efforts to facilitate talks,” the MP said in a statement.

“Reports of human rights violations and abuses by security forces and armed separatists are disturbing. As the UK’s International Ambassador for Human Rights set out at the UN Human Rights Council on February 28, 2021, the violence must end and urgent, impartial investigations must hold the perpetrators to account…”

The Anglophone crisis has led to thousand displaced from their homes

He went on to add that: “In September 2020, I announced 4.5 million pounds of additional funding for Cameroon, to bring the total for 2020 to 13.5 million pounds. This has provided tens of thousands of vulnerable people with food packs, sanitation provisions and medical supplies, as well as training for health workers. “As part of my visit, I travelled to South West Region and met international project partners delivering this vital aid, who described to me the challenges of providing humanitarian support. The UK continues to press the importance of unimpeded humanitarian access.”

Like the UK government, the UN Secretary-General, USA, have all been calling for a meaningful solution to the ongoing crisis. Cameroonians, however, want these countries and international bodies to not simply talk more but their actions should show that they want the crisis to come to an end.

James Duddridge, MP and Minister for Africa

In August 2017, Crisis Group sounded an alarm about the risk of an insurrection in Cameroon’s Anglophone Regions unless genuine dialogue, complete with strong measures to defuse tensions, was initiated. Sadly, that was not the case and the violence escalated to where we are now today

The violence has led both security forces and separatist fighters to be killed. The ordinary citizen has not been left out, facing the wrath of both the security forces and the separatist fighters. They have been accused of supporting one faction with the end not good for them. The UN reports that tens of thousands of civilians have died from the crisis, while hundreds have equally been displaced.

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Over 1M BCG Vaccines Dispatched to Cameroon’s Ten Regions
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The BCG vaccines are expected to be given to new born babies and those who missed their shots

Some 1,509,000million doses of the Bacillus Calmette–Guérin vaccine, (BCG) have been sent to health facilities across the 10 regions of Cameroon, after a one-month stock-out.

The vaccines which were delivered to Public Health authorities on April 22 come after a shortage in health facilities since mid-March, the national broadcaster CRTV reported.

Some Regions have already received their share of the BCG vaccine, while the other Regions are expected to receive it by the end of this week.

Dr Njoh Andreas, Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Enlarged Program on Immunization, said the scarcity of the vaccines is caused by a delay in supply, coupled with the fallouts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We experienced a stock-out in a few regions partly due to the delay in the reception of the vaccines which were requested. This delay is equally partially linked to the burden of COVID-19 which has affected several parts of the world, and interfering with the production of basic life commodities including vaccines,” Dr Njoh Andreas said.

The BCG is an important childhood vaccine that is given to newborn babies in Cameroon, to build their immunity and protect them against tuberculosis. The vaccine is also recommended to persons under the age of 35 who are at risk of contracting tuberculosis (TB).

According to Public Health authorities, distribution is based on the needs of the respective regions and their districts. The Far North Regions is expected to get the lion-share (64,000) of the vaccine while the South West Region has been allocated 29,000.

Distribution of the BCG vaccines to Regions

Adamawa Region 29,500

Far North Region 64,000

Centre Region, 66,500

Littoral Region, 50,500

North West Region, 31,000

South West Region, 29,000

South Region, 13,500

West Region, 45,000

When the vaccines arrive in the regions, newborns will once again be administered the vaccines, while babies and other persons who missed their vaccine due to the stock-out can catch up, officials added.

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Cameroon: FCFA 6B Made Available to Magil for Olembe Stadium
May 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The Olembe stadium still needs some FCFA 55 billion for its completion

A stadium that is to serve as the venue for the opening and closing match has yet to be completed, with works having been suspended for a couple of months now. This Stadium was to serve as the venue for the 2019 AFCON that the country was supposed to organize. 

Visiting the still to be completed stadium recently, Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Cameroon’s Minister of Sports and Physical Education announced that the government has allocated an envelope of more than FCFA 6 billion from its funds for works to continue on the site uninterrupted. This money is one that was owed to the construction company.

The Cameroon government had been slow in reimbursing the funds to Magil, who had used its own money to continue work. However, the company could not continue paying its subcontractors and work had to be halted.

Magil took over from Piccini, who had been charged with the construction of the 60 thousand capacity stadium. Piccini was slow in its delivering with workers even going on strike due to non-payment led the government to cancel the contract and looked for an alternative company to complete the work. 

For the completion of the work, some FCFA 55 billion is needed which the government has yet to secure funds for. The President has ordered the Minister of the Economy to negotiate for a loan of FCFA 55 billion. This amount was to be made available by the Italian bank Intesa San Paolo to the former contractor (Piccini) but after the company was released the bank also pulled out.

Prof Narcisse Mouelle Kombi, Minister of Sports and Physical Education

Magil is hoping to give the fully constructed stadium to the Cameroon government in November this year, two months to the start of the AFCON. Cameroon is hosting the continental showpiece this year after CAF had deemed the country unfit after multiple problems ranging from insecurity and the non-completion of stadia.

It is yet to be seen if the country will succeed in that mammoth task of finishing the stadium on the assigned date. Should they succeed, it will be left for the CAF inspection team to indicate whether the stadium is fit or not. Many observers are, however, displeased with the way things have been organized and the slow nature of work.  

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Zimbabwe Farmers Gets New Lease of Life, President Emmerson Mnangagwa Launches AFC Holdings Formerly Agri-Bank.
May 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

Zimbabwe’s communal and large scale farmers got a slice of shared confidence with the launch of Agricultural Finance Company Holdings. This was formerly Agri-Bank. Speaking in Harare on Friday, 30 April before mid-day President Mnangagwa pinched confidence in farmers highlighting that AFC is premised on playing a strategic and pivotal role within the Agricultural Industry.

‘’ AFC is premised on playing a strategic and pivotal role within the Agricultural Industry. This will go a long way in helping communal and large scale farmers in overcoming farming challenges. AFC is comprised of four [4] subsidiaries namely AFC Commercial Bank, AFC Insurance, AFC Land and Development Bank and AFC Leasing Company’’.

‘’This makes it easy for farmers to access funding and other services for production meant to support growth of the economy. At the same time let us see the growing up of communal farmers into large scale farmers well financially empowered by AFC. The Agricultural Industry must grow as well in support of our economy’’.

Minister of Finance and Economic Development Minister, Muthuli Ncube points it out that restructuring of AGRI-BANK into AFC was achieved through hard work and it was a long journey taken by the Government of Zimbabwe to make farmers get farming funding without challenges.

He adds that $700 million was injected by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in-order to support Agriculture. Zimbabwe as an Agric economy keeps on pushing to bring the Agricultural sector to traditional functioning that brought it to become a bread basket in the SADC Region in the early 8os when it was responsible for food security when it was SADCC (Southern Africa  Development Co-ordination Conference formed by  a few countries in Zambia Lusaka in 1980 .

Experts commenting on this destructuralization sees President Mnangagwa moving towards the 2030 vision of the country to become a middle income economy. Secondly the focus on NDS1, National Development Strategy 1 buttresses the optimized growth of the economy. Thirdly to have a bank that aligns the land reform program in the country. This is expected to meet demands of all farmers.

Taking a hide of a swipe , an anonymous expert , an Economist points out that the coming in of AFC is just a renovation on a tattered , old , dilapidating building that other-wise needs to be destroyed first , then build anew . He reiterates,

‘It’s a brilliant idea but the challenge is just one, where do they get funding for all the farmers, the communal and large scale farmers. This is not a move for the first time, history repeats itself’, he notes briefly .

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FQM SPENDS US$1.65 BILLION IN ZAMBIA IN 2020
May 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

More than 2,500 locally registered companies benefit from mine procurement

FQM Government Affairs Specialist Dr Godwin Beene.
SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – Zambia’s largest mining company, First Quantum Minerals (FQM), is forging ahead in its quest to engage more local people in its supply chain to strengthen Zambian-owned businesses and boost the local economy.

The company procured US$1.65 billion (K36.3 billion) of goods and services from companies registered in Zambia in 2020, representing 85 percent of the total spending by its two mines: Kansanshi in Solwezi and Sentinel in Kalumbila.Last year’s figures – which include local procurement of fuel, electricity and equipment from local agents – bring to US$4.49 billion the total spent locally in the last three years, with the proportion disbursed locally growing steadily from 81 percent in 2018.

More than 2,500 locally registered businesses benefited from mine contracts in 2020 alone.”FQM is committed to supporting local entrepreneurs as they strive to get a foothold in the highly competitive mining value chain,” said FQM Government Affairs Specialist Dr Godwin Beene.“Our vision is sustainable and responsible local procurement that positively contributes to a complex supply chain and by extension the economic and social development of the communities in which we operate.”

“We have always prioritised local suppliers wherever possible. In instances where the skills, goods, and standards we need are not available locally, we work with local entrepreneurs operating in that sector to develop that capacity. This in turn culminates in them being our preferred suppliers over foreign-owned companies once standards are sufficiently raised.”

“Admittedly there are limits to how far we can build the capacity of local suppliers. No Zambian company currently manufactures heavy-duty mining equipment, which makes buying it locally impractical as the local supplier would only act as a middleman and still end up importing the machinery from the manufacturer and sell it to us at a higher price – which is not sustainable.

Our capacity building initiative is therefore focused on services that Zambians can provide without raising our operational costs too much.”The goal of FQM’s pro-Zambian approach is to build capacity and stimulate sustainable growth for local businesses around its Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi and Sentinel Mine in Kalumbila, and the country at large.

First Quantum’s commitment to operationalise its local procurement policy is aimed at maximising the mine’s long-term business sustainability goals along with creating synergy with other sector players.Studies on procurement policies in the extractive sector have shown that effective local procurement practices can contribute to job creation, skills development, and improve efficiency in the supply chain by lowering costs in logistics, while also facilitating secure access to critical goods and services.-Ends-
About First Quantum Minerals Ltd

First Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.
In 2020, First Quantum globally produced 779,000 tonnes of copper, 265,000 ounces of gold and 13,000 tonnes of nickel.

In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine – the largest copper mine in Africa by production – and smelter and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Lusaka and Toronto stock exchanges.
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Zambia’s largest mine credits ‘a culture of innovation’ among its staff for its efficiency
May 1, 2021 | 0 Comments

SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – Zambia’s mining sector has faced significant challenges over the last decade due in part to fluctuating commodity prices, unstable taxes and most recently, the outbreak of COVID-19.

Despite the many obstacles in the sector however, the country’s biggest mine and taxpayer – First Quantum Minerals (FQM) – has managed to not only remain viable but also increase production.

Part of what has helped sustain the mine through the hardships is its insistence in making innovation a critical pillar of its operations, a particularly important factor given low ore grades, accompanying low margins, and the need for efficiency and economies of scale to maintain profitability.

“We believe that innovation is an unreplaceable buffer against several challenges both at the sectoral and economic level,” said Country Manager General Kingsley Chinkuli.

“Beyond this, innovation – to a mine as focused on longevity as FQM is – represents a critical pillar in its operational strategy, which must be maintained through the generations of miners who flow through the mine. Therefore, we make cultivating an innovative culture among our staff a top priority at both our Kansanshi and Sentinel mines.”

General Chinkuli said that it was the mine’s goal to ensure each member of the FQM family was capable of making significant contributions to the creation of pioneering solutions to challenges prevalent in the mining sector.

“One thing that has worked well for us at First Quantum Minerals is thinking ahead,” he said.

“Thinking ahead, most of the time, involves anticipating potential problems and coming up with solutions that may not yet be available at that time – and this requires a certain level of inventiveness to pull off.”

Driving the current wave of innovation is data, providing actionable insights through effective and relevant tools and technology, explains FQMO Project Manager Colin Du Plessis.

The high-tech Kansanshi Mine is coordinated through sophisticated online management information systems enabling geology, mining and process teams to access accurate data for meaningful decision-making across different departments.

One of the most progressive in-house innovations at the mine is the introduction of the Wenco High Precision Loading system, which provides precise details on loaders’ positions on site, with every bucket being monitored and compared against published geological parameters.

“By accurately tracking operator performance and positioning data, we are able to identify inefficiencies among operators,” explains FQMO Optimisation Manager Ziggy Gangaidzo.

“This way, management can prepare specific training programmes for affected personnel to avoid mild operational inefficiencies growing into serious bottlenecks that would affect the mine’s overall productivity.”

Meanwhile, the Wenco Readyline data system has improved machine reliability and avoid catastrophic failures by analysing the relationship between truck payloads and component failures in real-time.

And so accurate is the mine’s computerised payload monitoring that it has further improve productivity and reconciliation, while ensuring truck chassis are maintained within design parameters; crucial given that each truck is worth US$ 3.5 million.

Thanks in part to such innovation, FQM’s Sentinel mine last year recorded a 9 percent year-on-year growth in copper production.

FQM believes that if innovation could be prioritised in all sectors of the economy, Zambia would have the tools necessary to be well on its way to becoming a middle-income country by 2030, in-line with its economic goals.

Innovation is the most sustainable way of growing a country’s economy. And if Zambia is to successfully transition from a mineral dependent economy and bring non-traditional sectors to the fore, in its push for economic diversity; there is hardly a better platform to build on than the spirit of innovation.

“If we as a country could focus on innovation, especially in terms of adding value to our natural resources, then we would be that much closer to achieving not only the industrialisation dream but also the long sort after economic diversity,” said Gen. Chinkuli.

“While copper prices may be booming at present, let us for one moment imagine how Zambia would sustain its GDP without the red metal. Let us pretend Zambia was not so richly endowed with natural resources; how would we keep her economy alive if not through innovation?

“Hence why we must start inculcating a culture of innovation in our people now, while we still have minerals to fall back on. Let us follow FQM’s example and make thinking outside the box common place in all sectors of the economy so that we may thrive beyond our mines’ lifespans and even in the face of global adversities,”  he said.

About First Quantum Minerals Ltd

First Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.
In 2020, First Quantum globally produced 779,000 tonnes of copper, 265,000 ounces of gold and 13,000 tonnes of nickel.

In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine – the largest copper mine in Africa by production – and smelter and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Lusaka and Toronto stock exchanges

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Zambia:FQM ASSESSES COVID-19 RESPONSE AND MANAGEMENT
May 1, 2021 | 0 Comments
Healthcare staff at Kalumbila’s Mary Begg clinic
KALUMBILA, ZAMBIA – As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, management at First Quantum Minerals (FQM) has taken stock of its integrated response and the systems the procedures that have helped it successfully tackle the human and business risks from the disease.

With stringent control measures put in place to deal with the threat of the pandemic to keep employees and surrounding communities safe, the company has not slowed production and in indeed Kalumbila-based Sentinel Mine hit its highest production in 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic.
Kalumbila Minerals Limited Assistant General Manager Junior Keyser said that for the business to continue, the mine had to keep producing copper even in the midst of the pandemic.

“We later realised that management had to take the lead and we quickly established a steering committee consisting of members from different departments. So we used this committee to develop strategy based on what we saw internationally and information from other sources as there was no definite example to use. We had to supplement government efforts, and worked fast to establish isolation facilities in preparation for cases”, said Mr Keyser.

Mr Keyser said the company suspended all international travel and many experts were locked inside and outside the country. He said although the pandemic has affected many people who either got infected or lost family members, the company performed very well and attained its highest performance ever.

Mr Keyser said the company appreciates the Government’s stance to keep supporting companies and keep businesses running. He mentioned that FQM has rendered significant support to the Government such as setting up isolation facilities, educating communities about COVID-19, provision of PPE to health workers, and ongoing food deliveries to the Lumwana isolation facility. He commended Mary Begg clinic for ensuring infections were lowered to negligible levels.

On preparations for a possible third wave, Mr Keyser said the company and the clinic were ready, because experience and many lessons have been drawn from the first and second waves.
Dr Felix Zikamabahari, who is part of the COVID-19 team at Mary Begg clinic in Kalumbila town, says combined efforts between the management of Kalumbila Minerals and the clinic have made it possible for COVID-19 cases to be managed effectively in the area.

Dr Zikamabahari said when the disease was declared a pandemic, FQM started putting in place measures to deal with the imminent crisis while the clinic carried out a risk assessment to ascertain who was at high risk and how best to deal with confirmed cases.  The FQM Health Department also conducted a vulnerable patients’ identification process.

“A lot of changes were put in place based on the data that we were monitoring from affected countries and also information coming from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Ministry of Health. A team of health workers from the clinic was trained, while FQM assisted with infrastructure. By March 2020, FQM management had allocated places to use as isolation centers so that by the time we had our first confirmed case in May 2020, we were ready”, said Dr Zikamabahari.

Dr Zikamabahari said the clinic got its first severe case in August 2020, followed by asecond wave in November when the cases increased. He said fortunately, the world was at the peak of learning the science surrounding COVID-19 and a lot of research had been done and information on its management was available.

Dr Zikamabahari said the clinic had challenges when samples were sent to Ndola, which took up to 14 days to provide results, but after FQM was granted permission to test, turnaround time has been reduced to a maximum of 48 hours, which quickens the response time and hastens decision-making so the company benefits by having all negative-testing employees back to work in no time.

“Even if the second wave was worse than the first, we were better prepared for it. Apart from providing medication, we were very careful not to send any infected person back into the community if they could not self-isolate for at least two weeks. Mary Begg was prepared with a case management team and dedicated doctors who are specifically assigned to COVID-19 patients. This has helped us to build experience and consistency of care and management of cases”, said Dr Zikamabahari.

He said educating the public has been done consistently with the help of the FQM Health Department, and people have been adhering to preventive guidelines. Dr Zikamabahari said a few more people however need to be educated about handling those who have recovered from COVID-19 as there were reported cases of stigma. He said that people needed to know that every time someone is discharged and sent back into the community, they are unable to transmit the disease to other people.

COVID-19 survivor Mirriam Harmon, was grateful for the care she received while admitted to one of the isolation facilities provided by the mine to Mary Begg clinic.

“At that time, people I knew started dying and I really smelled death; my oxygen saturation levels were extremely low; I felt weak and breathing became tedious. I am grateful for the care I received as I was one of the most critical COVID-19 patients in isolation. Above all, I cannot forget to thank my God for answering my prayer and using the medical personnel to heal me,” said Mrs Harmon.
 
 
About First Quantum Minerals LtdFirst Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.
In 2020, First Quantum globally produced 779,000 tonnes of copper, 265,000 ounces of gold and 13,000 tonnes of nickel.

In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine – the largest copper mine in Africa by production – and smelter and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Lusaka and Toronto stock exchanges.
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“I wanted to be able to act and fit in on any set, anywhere in the world…” -Erica Nlewedim
May 1, 2021 | 0 Comments
Erica at Ealing studios

Former MetFilm School acting student, Erica Nlewedim is a household name in Nigeria; at only 27 she found extraordinary fame last year after her performance on a Nigerian reality TV show, Big Brother Naija (formerly Big Brother Nigeria).

Erica now has over 1.6M followers on Instagram, over half a million followers on Twitter, over 1M views on TikTok and a massive fanbase called Elites – she’s a brand ambassador for the likes of Swarovski jewellery, and, she has a handful of fearture films to her name… she is a very busy woman.

Originally a Business graduate of Nigeria’s Covenant University, Erica enrolled at London’s MetFilm School in 2019 to study acting. She said: “I had already been working as an actor for four years before I started at MetFilm School.

“I knew that I needed to grow as an actor, I wanted to improve and I wanted to be able to act and fit in on any set, anywhere in the world, not just limit myself to Nigeria. So, I knew that the UK was the place to learn. And I wanted to go to a school where everyone speaks English.

“I chose MetFilm School London without even visiting the campus. I had spent time ‘Googling’ film schools and acting courses and I really liked the look of MetFilm School.  So, I called them and had a really good phone call with them, they answered my questions, and gave me all of the details – it was a welcoming and friendly experience and that’s when I made my decision to enrol.

“I had never visited the UK before, I’d visited other European countries like France, Spain and Germany several times, but not the UK, not until I started studying there.

“I enjoyed living and studying in London, I knew quite a few people from home who are studying and working there, so I had a network of familiar faces from the start.

“And I soon made new friends. I’m still in contact with people I met while studying there, I learnt a lot, and I know that I’m a better actor because of my experience there.

“I think learning about and being able to apply the Stanislavski Technique to my work has been really important. It helps me get into the mindset of the character – rather than just ‘acting’ the emotions, this technique has helped me understand the character, consider the character’s mindset and to ‘feel’ their emotions and draw on those for a more authentic performance.

“London is great, it’s expensive and the weather is sometimes horrible –  it was when I was there I’m sure it was the coldest summer ever except for a few warm days! I had done a lot of research, so I knew what to expect. Everyone was friendly, and it felt like home very quickly.”

Erica travelled every day to the School based at the world-famous Ealing Studios from Colindale, west London by London bus, she said: “I had the real London experience!”

Erica didn’t waste any time when she got back to Nigeria and started work immediately: “As soon as I had finished the courses, I was back home and working. I had plans to travel back to the UK, but then Covid hit and nothing much was happening. I was stuck at home and that’s when I decided to apply to be a housemate for Big Brother.

“I knew it would be safe, we would be tested and in lockdown together, so I decided to give a go and I was chosen! That’s when my career really skyrocketed. I’ve been so busy.

“Last December I worked on a project with Netflix, it’s a ‘Netflix Original Series’, I don’t know when it’s out and I can’t say any more about it. I’ve also shot two other movies this year and I’ve been working as a brand ambassador.”

Erica, also known as ‘Star Girl’ is brand ambassador for Nigerian brands including Kuku’s Hair, Star Radler and Legend Beers, Kuda Bank, Partner Mobile and global brand, Swarovski jewellery. 

But she is not resting on her laurels; she is ambitious for her future: “I want to be the biggest star to have come out of Nigeria, I want to be known across Africa, South Africa, Europe and the UK.”

“My advice for anyone thinking about working in the screen industries is to work on improving yourself. Whether that’s through education or research; and learn to be your best self every day.

“Build a positive mindset and tell yourself positive things daily – be your own self’s best friend and work on your confidence. You have to be confident in yourself because it will make you a better actor.”

Erica stars in Nollywood feature film, Devil in Agbada due to be released later this year.

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Ghana; Cost deepening our woes – infertile couples cry.
April 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica   

infertility affects both men and women, says Dr Edem

The traditional Ghanaian society is pro-natal -a belief that promotes the reproduction of human life, where the ultimate purpose of marriage is to produce children who will continue their family lineage. As such, after marriage in most homes it is expected that a cry of a baby will be heard a few months on. In some places, during the marriage ceremony, there are expectations that the woman must be pregnant. 

Contrary to this expectation is the family pressure and name -calling that will ensue it. Available literature on public perception about infertility is usually about the woman being cursed or belonging to a cult that exchanged her womb for a material gain. 

Bridget Dapaah is one of such women suffering the fate of not carrying her own child after being married for 5 years. She narrated how her mother-in-law has almost taken over her matrimonial home for the past 3 years after arranging other women for her son to bear grandchildren for her. “Few months after we got married, my mother-in-law came to visit. And said I hope my son hasn’t brought home another man? I expected her actions towards me to change after I confided in her I had a miscarriage a year and a half into our marriage. They were twins since then nothing happened again except the pressure and the insults from my mother-in -law”. 

For Bridget, what is compounding her situation is the diminishing support from the husband in these difficult years. Funding for alternative means to bear children is not forthcoming because the cost involved is huge and the National Health Insurance Scheme NHIS does not cover most fertility tests. In a typical African society, it is usually women that suffer the pressure from in-laws and sometimes physical and emotional abuses regarding childbirth. 

But infertility according to the World Health Organization WHO is a disease of the male or female reproductive system defined by the failure to achieve a pregnancy after 12 months or more of regular unprotected sexual intercourse. Infertility affects millions of people of reproductive age worldwide–and has an impact on their families and communities. It is estimated that between 48 million couples and 186 million individuals live with infertility globally. 

Fertility specialist in Accra, Ghana, Edem K Hiadzi, during the Merck foundation’s media training conference as part of the 8th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary said, infertility in Ghana and other sub-Saharan countries deserves more recognition as a public health problem. 

He called on stakeholders in the health sector, to work towards including fertility related issues onto the policy agenda of reproductive health needs of women. “We are aware cost is a major challenge to many couples who are going through infertility issues. And I hope policy makers will include fertility and its related issues will be captured onto the National Health Insurance Scheme to lessen this burden”. 

Meanwhile, the First Lady of the republic of Ghana and one of the Ambassadors of  “Merck More Than a Mother” Rebecca Akufo Addo is leading education among peer groups and the Rebecca foundation programs to intensify public education about the causes of infertility and prevention to break the stigma and its associated abuses dealt with. 

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MINE SAFETY KEY TO HIGHER COPPER PRODUCTION, SAYS FQM
April 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

Comprehensive skills development can help boost workforce productivity while minimising accidents.

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Strong safety guidelines and training at mines across the country must be implemented with the seriousness they deserve to avoid workplace accidents, says First Quantum Minerals Government Relations Specialist Dr Godwin Beene.

Speaking ahead of World Day for Safety and Health at Work on April 28, the industry leader noted that poor safety standards were not only a leading cause of serious injuries but also threatened the industry and the wider economy by depressing productivity.

“A company’s productivity boils down to its human capital’s efficiency and proficiency,” said Dr Beene. “A healthy and skilled workforce is one of the most important aspects of a business’ success, which in turn feeds into national economic growth. For a copper-dependent country like Zambia, poor mine safety has the potential to derail the country’s development objectives as injuries impact negatively on productivity while fatalities rob the country of its resource and altogether, hamper production of the country’s largest export commodity.”

Dr Beene explained: “As a company that prides itself on fostering community health and contributing positively to Zambia’s economic growth, FQM has made safety its biggest priority.”

The company has put in place a comprehensive skills development programme that is helping to improve operations and boost productivity at its Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi and Sentinel Mine at Kalumbila. Under this initiative, more than 5,000 employees, including management and contractors, have been trained in first aid at different levels, for example.

As a result of its robust safety interventions enshrined in its operational motto ‘No job is so important that it cannot be done safely’ FQM remains above the Zambia Chamber of Mines’ first aid standards, which stipulate that one miner for every five working on a project must be a qualified first aider.

The company continuously strives to provide a safe and healthy work environment for its employees and contractors by making in depth knowledge and application of all relevant laws and regulations.

FQM has put in place a training management system that monitors safety compliance and training requirements to ensure all personnel at the mine comply with the competency requirements of their respective jobs. Under its ‘THINK’ approach to safety, employees endeavor to Think safety by Taking the time to Highlight a hazard, Identify what could possibly go wrong leading to an accident, and then without fail, take the Necessary (safety) action(s) and Keep safe.

World Day for Safety and Health at Work is championed by the United Nations’ International Labour Organization (ILO) to promote the prevention of occupational accidents and diseases. This year’s theme is “Anticipate, prepare and respond to crises – Invest Now in Resilient Occupational Safety and Health Systems”.

About First Quantum Minerals LtdFirst Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.
In 2020, First Quantum globally produced 779,000 tonnes of copper, 265,000 ounces of gold and 13,000 tonnes of nickel.
In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine – the largest copper mine in Africa by production – and smelter and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.

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Spotify Launches EQUAL’s Music Program -Ghana’s Gyakie is the first African singer to join the global program
April 30, 2021 | 0 Comments
Ghana’s Gyakie is the first African singer to join the global program

Spotify recently unveiled its EQUAL hub in celebration of International Women’s Day. On the heels of this launch, the leader in all things audio will now extend its global commitment to fostering equity for women in music with its new EQUAL Music Program debuting today. 

The global initiative is uniquely designed to foster gender equity in music by adapting and extending the cumulative blueprint of Spotify’s successful programs into a cohesive experience – supporting female creators under one brand. Only 1 in 5 artists in the charts are women, a stark contrast to how integral women’s influence is to Spotify’s success today and the music industry at large. Spotify takes the responsibility of upending these disparities seriously, and believes the first step towards amplifying the work of all creators identifying as women is to extend critical resources to this community to create opportunity.

Speaking on the initiative, Phiona Okumu, Spotify Head of Music Sub-Saharan Africa said, “In a time where we as a society are re-examining equity on so many levels, Spotify is prioritising its goal to make female faces and voices seen and heard. Our goal is to lead by example, joining hands with the African music industry stakeholders with the means and platform to help elevate the next generation of women in the music industry to deserving new heights.”

Spotify’s inaugural class of EQUAL artists kicking off the program includes Ghanaian Afrobeats & Afro-fusion singer Gyakie, who is the first African creator to be selected for the program. The 20-year-old singer who recently released her debut EP ‘Seed’ has not only gained popularity in Ghana but in Nigeria and Kenya where her single ‘Forever’, is a chart-topping fan favorite, with its remix featuring Omah Lay not far behind.

“I am deeply honoured to be the first African woman to partner with Spotify for EQUAL. This is huge for so many women across the continent and the entire globe. I don’t take this lightly at all. Navigating an industry, where the voices of women can easily be drowned out, I’m committed to playing my part…with volume,” says Gyakie on her inclusion in the program.

Other female artists selected for the inaugural class include American rapper Saweetie, Brazillian pop artist DUDA BEAT, British singer-songwriter Griff, Mexico’s Natalia Lafourcade and German singer Zoe Wees – Global Artist of the Month.

The full program includes:

  • EQUAL local playlists: Each playlist will reflect the 35 markets spanning over 50 countries – from Japan to Argentina, from the UK to Ghana.
  • EQUAL Global Playlist: The “best-of” flagship playlist will contain music from EQUAL artists from all around the world, as the ultimate listening experience amplifying the EQUAL class of each month beyond borders.
  • EQUAL Artists of the Month: One artist from each participating market will be featured on the cover of their respective, local playlist.
  • Artist marketing: Each EQUAL Artist of the Month will be supported with organic and on-platform promotion throughout the Spotify editorial space – which has proven to propel significant growth on platform in both artists’ home countries and beyond.
  • Created By Women Playlist: The co-branded EQUAL + NOTEABLE playlist is the first of its kind, which will feature 40 songs 100% written, produced, and performed exclusively by women songwriters, producers, and artists from around the world. The new playlist will give fans a new dedicated place to discover music from a host of talented creators with diverse perspectives.

EQUAL Board: A network of organisations joining forces with Spotify to empower women around the world including: She’s the Music (US), Girls Rock Australia Network (Australia), She Said So (Italy), MEWEM Europa (Europe), Girls Connected (Canada), Music Women (Germany).

  • EQUAL Directory re-launch: Spotify is partnering with SoundGirls, to relaunch the EQUAL Directory, formally EQL Directory. The Directory allows women of all experiences and gender nonconforming creators to create a profile and claim their space in the community of women changing the game in audio. You can search The EQUAL Directory by region and audio discipline to find suitable candidates to hire for your next tours and events, studio projects, film and TV production, game audio, post production, podcasts, and more.

Facebook: @SpotifyKE | Instagram: @SpotifyKE | #SpotifyAfrica

Download the Spotify app via the Android or iOS app store or by heading to www.spotify.com – to embed Spotify into a website – right click on any playlist, go to ‘share’ and copy embed code.

Spotify in numbers:  Over 356 million monthly active users / Over 158 million subscription users / Over 70m songs in the catalogue / Over 4 billion playlists available / Available across 178 markets

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Malawi Court declares death penalty unconstitutional
April 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Joseph Dumbula

The Supreme Court of Appeal in Malawi has ruled that death penalty used in the Southern African’s nation is unconstitutional, bringing an end to a long standing debate over the law and igniting yet another talking point.

Calls for the review of the law have been there for long as several death row convicts have had their sentences reviewed or commuted to life imprisonment. It also came rife recently as having gone through the Periodic Review at the United Nations, government committed to review all death sentences.

On Wednesday, a   panel of seven judges of the Supreme Court of Appeal has stated that the law was against international human rights standards implying that a life sentence will now be the highest punishment.

Among other things, the court indicated that death sentence is unconstitutional because it abolishes a right to life.

With this, the court then has ordered that all prisoners who were sentenced to a mandatory death sentence will how now be given a chance for re-hearing in order to be re-sentenced.

The landmark stance came after an appeal by Charles Khoviwa who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death.

Capital punishment has long been mandatory in Malawi for prisoners convicted of murder or treason, and optional for rape.

Violent robberies, house break-ins and burglaries could also be punishable by death or life imprisonment.

Executions have however not been carried out since Malawi’s first democratically elected president, Bakili Muluzi, opposed the punishment when he took office in 1994.

There are slightly below 30 inmates on death-row in the condemned convicts section at Zomba Central Prison on a suspenseful wait with no access to interaction with fellow convicts.

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Zambia President and Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp inaugurate the 8th edition of Merck Foundation Conference 2021.
April 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

  • Merck Foundation annual conference was inaugurated by the President of the Republic of Zambia, H.E. Dr. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU and Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees
  • The 8th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” was co-chaired by H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation
  • African First Ladies of Angola, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, and Namibia were the Guests of Honour for the Luminary.
  • More than 75,000 participants, healthcare providers, policymakers, and academia from 70 countries attended the Luminary.

Lusaka, Zambia: Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KgaA kickstarted the 8th Edition of “Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary” on 27th April 2021, through an online videoconference. It was co-chaired by H.E. Mrs ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation.

During his keynote speech, while inaugurating the conference, The President of Zambia, H.E Dr. EDGAR CHAGWA LUNGU emphasized “I am very glad to be hosting this important conference together with Merck Foundation, our long term strategic partner. It is a great honor to inaugurate the conference alongside the First Ladies of Africa. I am certain that this conference will help us to further explore partnership opportunities and introduce new frameworks for cooperation in the area of health care capacity building and to define interventions to break infertility stigma and support girl education”.

Prof. Dr. Frank Stangenberg-Haverkamp Chairman of both of Executive Board of E.Merck KG and Merck Foundation Board of Trustees expressed “I would like to welcome and also thank our partners, African First Ladies, African Ministers and health experts from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the rest of the world to join hands with us in order to realize Merck Foundation’s vision: ‘Everyone in the world should lead a happy and fulfilling life’, we have achieved together, a huge success and we are going to continue and extend our support to achieve more”.

During her Keynote address and welcome speech, H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia and Co-chairperson of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary 2021 emphasized  “I am very happy to co-chair and host this important conference of Merck Foundation and also to celebrate together the 4th anniversary of Merck Foundation, our long term partner in building healthcare capacity and improving access to health, information and breaking the infertility stigma. Also, I am delighted to have my dear sisters, The First Ladies of Africa at this conference”.

Merck Foundation CEO, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “We welcomed The First Ladies of 13 African Countries, who are also the Ambassadors of  Merck Foundation More than a Mother, to this important conference. Together, we have worked closely throughout the years on a strong strategy to build healthcare capacity by providing specialized training in various specialties; and define interventions to break infertility stigma and support girls’ education.

I am very proud that we have so far provided for more than 1100 Doctors from 42 countries across Africa, Asia, and Latin America with one & two-, three-year specialty training in multiple fields such as Oncology, Diabetes, Preventative Cardiovascular Medicine, Endocrinology, Sexual and Reproductive Medicine, Acute Medicine, Respiratory Medicine, Human Assisted Reproduction and Embryology & Fertility specialty, to be the first in their countries. Moreover, we have now widened our horizons by introducing more scholarships for young doctors in many new underserved specialties across Africa and Asia.”

The 8th Edition of the Luminary marked another important milestone: the 4th Anniversary of Merck Foundation.

As part of the Luminary, Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative Committee (MFFLI) High-Level Panel was conducted, which was attended by the 13 African First Ladies, who are the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother.

The keynote address was delivered by H.E. Mrs. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of the Republic of Zambia as the host and co-chairperson  of  the conference  along with

  • H.E. Mrs. ANA DIAS LOURENÇO, The First Lady of the Republic of Angola
  • H.E. Mrs. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of the Republic of Botswana
  • H.E. Madam SIKA KABORE, The First Lady of Burkina Faso
  • H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of the Republic of Burundi
  • H.E. Madam BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic
  • H.E. Madam DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, The First Lady of the Democratic Republic of The Congo
  • H.E. Mrs. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of the Republic of Ghana
  • H.E. Madam DJÈNÈ CONDÉ, The First Lady of the Republic of Guinea Conakry
  • H.E. Mrs. CLAR MARIE WEAH, The First Lady of the Republic of Liberia
  • H.E. Mrs. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of the Republic of Malawi
  • H.E. Mrs. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of the Republic of Mozambique
  • H.E. Mrs. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of the Republic of Namibia

The Day 1 of the 8th edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary was attended by more than 75,000 participants, Healthcare providers, policymakers, academia, researchers, and media from more than 70 Countries in three languages English french and Portuguese.

On Day 2 of the conference, MARS- Merck Foundation Africa Research Summit was held where a High-Level Panel Discussion with Ministers of Health, Science and Technology, Education, Information And Gender and MARS Researchers washeld with the objective to empower African young researchers & women researchers, advancing their research capacity and empower them in STEM.

On the third day, Merck Foundation Health Media Training was organized for the African and Latin American Media fraternity to emphasize the important role that media plays to break the stigma around infertility, in raising awareness about infertility prevention, and empowering girls and women through education.

Other important scientific sessions in different medical fields were also held in parallel on Day 2 and Day 3 of the Luminary.

Countries participating include Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central Africa Republic, Cambodia, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Gabon, Germany, Ghana, Guinea – Bissau, Guinea – Conakry, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mexico, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Niger, Nigeria, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, The Gambia, Togo, Tunisia, U.A.E, UK, Uganda, US, Vietnam, Zambia, Zimbabwe and more.

The 8th Edition of Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary was streamed live @Merck Foundation Facebook page and Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej Facebook page.

About Merck Foundation The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth.

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The African Union Commission and the AU Peace and Security Council Undertake a Fact Finding Mission to the Republic of Chad
April 29, 2021 | 0 Comments
AU Chair Moussa Faki served as Foreign Minister of Chad under late President Idris Deby.Photo credit Farouk Batiche/AFP/Getty Images

N’Djamena, 29 April 2021: The African Union Commission, with the participation of the five (5)) Members of the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the African Union (AU), as well as the Democratic Republic of Congo in its capacity of Chairperson of the AU, arrived in N’Djamena, Chad today on a seven-day Fact-Finding Mission, from 29 April to 6 May 2021. The mission is led by the AU Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security, H.E. Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, along with the PSC Chairperson for the month of April 2021, H.E. Ambassador M. Idriss Farah of the Republic of Djibouti.

The Fact-Finding Mission is taking place pursuant to the PSC Communique [PSC/BR/COMM.2(CMXCIII)],adopted at its 993rd meeting held on 22 April 2021, on the situation in Chad. The PSC had authorized the AU Commission to constitute a Fact-Finding Mission, with the participation of PSC Members, to visit Chad and engage with the Chadian Authorities on all issues relating to the situation in the country, particularly to support the investigation into the killing of Late President Idriss Deby Itno, and ascertain the facts in an effort to restore constitutionalism.

The Fact-Finding Mission will seek first-hand information from the Chadian Authorities and stakeholders, on the unfolding political and security situation, and examine strategies to facilitate a swift return to constitutional order and democratic governance, while concurrently preserving the security and territorial integrity of Chad.

Furthermore, the Fact-Finding Mission is expected to reaffirm the solidarity of the AU with the Government and people of Chad, as well as the unwavering commitment to support its transition process. 

In its engagement with relevant stakeholders, the Mission will consider core issues germane to the durable peace and stability of Chad, especially in countering terrorism and violent extremism, armed rebellion and transnational organized crime.

The Fact-Finding Mission is scheduled to hold consultations with regional and global actors, including the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Lake Chad Basin Commission (LCBC), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the G-5 Sahel and the United Nations (UN), on the potential impact of the current developments in Chad for the Sahel and Lake Chad Basin regions.

The Mission is expected to submit its findings to the AU Peace and Security Council on or before 8 May 2021, for due consideration and decision on the situation in Chad. 

*AU

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Anglophone Crisis: Women Play a Vital Role in Peacebuilding in Cameroon
April 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Valveeta Viban, Youth and gender activist

Women have been identified as having an important role to play in bringing the much talk about a peaceful resolution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis. In a webinar by the Nkafu Policy Institute of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation this April 29, 2021, titled “Gender Perspectives: The Role of Women in Resolving the Anglophone Crisis in Cameroon” experts from various domains univocally placed women at the forefront of searching for solutions to the crisis.

For close to five years that the armed conflict in the North West and South West regions erupted and has dragged on, the role of the women in mitigating and or resolving the conflict is underestimated.  The continuous conflict produces gendered outcomes in Cameroon, with particular shifts enabling Cameroonian women to participate in activities – such as conflict resolution – that were previously considered an exclusively male domain.

“Most of the displaced persons in the crisis are women with the conflict affecting everyone. Women are trying to change the narratives of the conflict. The crisis will not come to an end without women being part of it,” Velveeta Viban, Youth and Gender activist, Co-founder of ImageNation.

Although women have frequently been the first to take the risks necessary to promote dialogue across divided communities, as they have attempted in the ongoing Anglophone conflict, they are marginalized from taking these initiatives.

To Kwalar Bongnjo, Conflict Analyst at Africa Knowledge and Policy Centre (AKPC), women have always played a role in terms of negotiation and peacebuilding. ‘Women by nature are peacebuilders than their male counterparts. They have a crucial role to play,” He said.

“In conflict women and children are mostly seen as a vulnerable and marginalized group. Their role in seeking a solution is important. We need to see women as participants and not victims concerning the crisis,” Kwalar Bongnjo said.

The Cameroon government has made moves in bringing a solution to the crisis but women have and are still being related to the background. Decisions are mostly taking by their male counterparts and expect the women to just follow.

On that issue, Kwalar Bongnjo said: “The government should empower women who can then take these messages to the grassroots. Even with the Commissions that have been created such as the DDRC we see limited participation from women with just one on the Commission which is unacceptable.

Women have unique opportunities for conflict resolution and peacebuilding due to the unique role they play in society. The recent calls for a cessation of hostilities by some women in the country and especially those in crisis-hit regions indicate their frustration with the handling of the crisis. It also demonstrates the unique roles women have in building peace in society and bringing to an end violent conflict.

“Women are seen as survivors and advocate for peace. They are the untapped voices in the conflict and the ones pushing for a solution,” Sally Maforchi Mboumien, Executive Director at Common Action for Gender Development (COMAGEND) stated.

“Women play an integral part such as mediators and negotiators in getting a peaceful resolution to the crisis… Cameroon may witness another type of discrimination that the world has never seen even when the crisis comes to an end.”

Sally Maforchi Mboumien added: “We need people who have something to give to come on board. We do not need lip service. Our next policy should be to take a conscious gender mainstreaming bringing in the people who have the real solution to the crisis… The contribution of women has not been documented and their participation is not being brought to the forefront even at the National Dialogue where women groups were not given access.

Panelists at the Nkafu Policy Institute webinar on the role of women in solving the Anglophone-crisis in Cameroon

“Women need access, space they can breathe, speak in their diversity and come out with a good view. We should stop speaking for women in this crisis and let them speak for themselves,” Sally Maforchi Mboumien said.

The close to five years of armed conflict in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon has caused maleficent obliteration of human lives and property. Regardless of the efforts taken by the national and international interested parties in bringing to an end the crisis, armed hostilities such as; kidnapping for ransoms, civil strife, enforced disappearances and killings committed by both the Cameroon military and separatist fighters have continued to go unabated. 

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EAC countries record $4.8 million loss in tourism, hospitality industry due to COVID-19
April 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti

Dennis Karera, EABC Vice Chairman

East Africa Community (EAC) the Partner States are estimated to have lost international tourism receipts to the tune of $ 4.8 Billion in the year 2020, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

This follows a study by the East African Business Council (EABC) with the support of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The study released on Thursday sought to assess the impact of COVID-19 on the tourism and hospitality industry and policy options to protect sector players from COVID-19 disruptions and future pandemics.

The study reveals that tourism which contributed an average of 9.5% in GDP in 2019 and an average of 17.2% to EAC total exports was one of the most affected areas in the region.

This was reflected in massive reductions in international tourist arrivals, receipts, jobs, visitors to parks and hotel occupancy rates.

From March 2020 when the first cases of Covid-19 were reported in the region, the report reveals that 4.2 Million foreign tourists were unable to travel to their preferred destinations in the bloc.

This saw a dip of about 2 million jobs, from the about 4.1 million jobs recorded in 2019  to 2.2 million jobs by the end of the year.

The study also revealed that visitors to national parks declined significantly by about 65%, impacting negatively wildlife conservation efforts in the region.

The study also shows that hotels in the region registered average occupancy rates of below 30% thus affecting their operations significantly including maintaining staff.

An online survey conducted as part of the study indicated that 26.5% of the businesses lost their entire projected revenues during the pandemic period, 44% lost 75% of their projected revenue and 17.6% lost 50% of their projected revenues.

The respondents indicated that 35% reduced staff by more than 50%, 20% reduced staff by below and up to 50%, 32% maintained staff at partial pay and only 8% maintained all staff at full pay.

The report indicates that businesses turned to borrowing to fund their running expenditures such as rent and utilities due to reduced operational capital while the loss of jobs saw a decline in household incomes,

Speaking during a webinar validating the studies, Mr. Dennis Karera, EABC Vice Chairman noted that the study will contribute to developing macro-economic policy options for consideration and adoption by EAC Partner States.

“ Adopting an EAC coordinated approach in reviving the tourism sector by marketing the region as a single tourist destination, opening EAC skies, rolling out national-wide vaccination drives and mutual recognition of COVID-19 test certificates in the region is certainly critical,” he said.

The Study recommended for tourism destinations to have pandemic preparedness and risk management plans to minimize such instances in the future.

The report also revealed that the tourism stakeholders are calling for the sustaining of stimulus packages provided by EAC Governments to re-engineer and re-define the tourism products by also leveraging digital technologies in tourism marketing and promotion.

The East African Business Council (EABC) is the regional apex body of private sector associations and Corporates from the 6 East African countries namely Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, and S. Sudan.

 It was established in 1997 to foster the interests of the private sector in the integration process of the East African Community. EABC vision is a borderless East Africa for business and investment.

The primary mission is to promote sustainable private sector-driven growth in the EAC.

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Infertility Is Not a Stigma – Dr Edem says during Merck Foundation 2021 Health Media Training
April 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Dr Edem Hiadzi

The UK National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) describes infertility as the inability to conceive after 2 years of unprotected intercourse, while other statistics will have 1 year. And according to Dr Edem Hiadzi, “infertility is not a stigma.”

The Consultant Obstetrician/Fertility Specialist at Lister Hospital and Fertility Centre, Accra-Ghana was speaking April 29 during the Merck Foundation Community Awareness Program: Health Media Training 2021 held virtually. It is part of the Merck Foundation Africa Asia Luminary.

“Media are the mouthpiece of the people. When they have a better understanding of the situation, they can easily educate the population,” Dr Edem Hiadzi said as he presented on infertility prevention.

“Infertility is not a stigma. The men should support their wife as the reason may be from the man’s end and not from the woman. Infertility affects both the male and female and it is 50-50.”

According to the Delhi IVF Fertility Research Centre, infertility affects one in six couples in India and the recent National Family Health Survey data estimated that 3.8% of currently married women between 40 and 44 years are childless. The statistics according to Dr Hiadzi shows that the prevalence situation in the USA is at 10%, UK 6% while infertility rate in Sub-Saharan Africa is at 20-30%.

In addition to the higher prevalence of overall infertility in developing countries, there are significant differences in the primary and secondary infertility rates. Secondary infertility is much more common in resource-poor countries, especially in Africa and Latin America and among middle- and high-income couples.

“Infertility is a major cause of marital disharmony in Africa and it exposes women especially to ostracization, social discrimination and physical violence. Infertility is a shared responsibility and this has to be taken very seriously,” Dr Edem Hiadzi, Fertility Specialist at Lister Hospital and Fertility Centre, Accra-Ghana.

Various factors have been identified to be causes of infertility. Alcohol, tobacco and caffeine consumption have all been shown to compromise fertility and all of these are widely used in developing countries. Dietary deficiencies of iodine and selenium have been linked to infertility as has been exposure to dietary aflatoxin.

infertility affects both men and women, says Dr Edem

Cultural beliefs like early marriage, polygamy, an aversion to female education and antagonism to condoms further contribute indirectly towards infertility. There is also a disparity between rural and urban areas in the number of healthcare facilities and access to health care. Societies in which fertility is given a very high value can lead to women undergoing all kinds of unproven treatments to get a child, and these may result in further damage to reproductive potential.

Dr Edem further highlighted some key [points that can prevent infertility which involves avoiding high temperatures as “this can affect sperm production and motility.” “Although the effect is usually temporary, avoid riding motorbikes, not tubs and steam baths – instead use showers and wear loose pants,” He added.

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Fertility Is a Couple Problem – Dr Wanjiru Ndengwa
April 29, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Dr Wanjiru

The issue of fertility and infertility is seen as a problem for the couple as a whole and not of a particular sex. Dr Wanjiru Ndengwa, IVF Specialist and Gynecologist said.

Dr Ndengwa-Njuguna was speaking on Fertility Management Options – Messages for the Community during the Merck Foundation Community Awareness Program: Health Media Training 2021 held virtually on April 29, 2021.

The training is part of the 2021 Merck Foundation Africa – Asia Luminary Virtual Conference aimed at breaking the stigma around infertility in general and infertile women in specific and to support girl education as Ambassadors of the “Merck Foundation More Than a Mother” campaign

“The issue of infertility is not just on one side but affects both sexes. We have to remove the stigma and it is quite unfortunate that women are the ones bearing the problem; with it now looked at as a women’s thing,” Dr Ndengwa-Njuguna, IVF Specialist, Footsteps to Fertility Centre, Kenya said.

In Africa, there are so many consequences that are associated with an infertile woman. The families often scold the lady; stigmatized her and she is often replaced by another lady. There is a constant pressure that is being exerted on the lady to have a birth.

Dr Ndengwa-Njuguna said: “Women are the ones being called barren, sterile whereas the men are not looked at in that way and some of them may be the cause of the women being infertile. We have to reduce the stigma so that violence can end; emotional abuse and women must understand that they are more than a mother.”

Speaking on why women are stigmatized, Dr Ndengwa said it is down to poor knowledge of fertility and infertility issues plus financial problems. She added that there are big difficulties for me to consult; the low purchasing power of women who consult; unfavourable health pyramid; and poor management of infertility problems.

Responding to the question on the need for surrogacy, she said that surrogacy needs to be allowed. “Many women have problems which have led to them not being able to give birth. I understand that it can be misused for financial gains but there are genuine cases in which I think surrogacy can be allowed.”

According to Dr Ndengwa, there are several ways that media men and women and those across the board can fight this stigma on women. She noted education at all level as one of the important factors in breaking this stigma barrier. Other factors include the involvement of the Civil society; the determining role of public authorities; the major role of the media; integration of women and girls and training for adults and young people. 

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