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UNESCO report shows fewer than 5% of people in many countries benefit from adult learning opportunities
December 5, 2019 | 0 Comments
Adult education in Rwanda.Photo credit The New Times Rwanda

Paris, 04 December – In almost one-third of countries, fewer than five per cent of adults aged 15 and above participate in education and learning programmes, according to UNESCO’s fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 4). Adults with disabilities, older adults, refugees and migrants, minority groups and other disadvantaged segments of society are particularly under-represented in adult education programmes and find themselves deprived of crucial access to lifelong learning opportunities.

Published by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, the report monitors the extent to which UNESCO Member States put their international commitments regarding adult learning and education into practice and reflects data submitted by 159 countries. It calls for a major change in the approach to adult learning and education (ALE) backed by adequate investment to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access and benefit from adult learning and education and that its full contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is realized.

“We urge governments and the international community to join our efforts and take action to ensure that no one – no matter who they are, where they live or what challenges they face – is left behind where the universal right to education is concerned,” says UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay, endorsing the report’s recommendations. “By ensuring that donor countries respect their aid obligations to developing countries, we can make adult learning and education a key lever in empowering and enabling adults, as learners, workers, parents, and active citizens.”

The publication stresses the need to increase national investment in ALE, reduce participation costs, raise awareness of benefits, and improve data collection and monitoring, particularly for disadvantaged groups.

Progress in participation in adult learning and education is insufficient

Despite low participation overall, many more than half of responding countries (57% of 152) reported an increase in the overall participation rate in adult learning and education between 2015 and 2018. Low-income countries reported the largest increase in ALE participation (73%), trailed by lower middle income and upper middle income countries (61% and 62%).

Most increases in adult learning and education participation were in sub-Saharan Africa (72% of respondents), followed by the Arab region (67%), Latin America and the Caribbean (60%) and Asia and the Pacific (49%). North America and Western Europe reported fewest increases (38%) though starting from higher levels.

The data shows persistent and deep inequalities in participation and that key target groups such as adults with disabilities, older adults, minority groups as well as adults living in conflict-affected countries are not being reached.

Women’s participation must improve further

While the global report shows that women’s participation in ALE has increased in 59 per cent of the reporting countries since 2015, in some parts of the world, girls and women still do not have sufficient access to education, notably to vocational training, leaving them with few skills and poor chances of finding employment and contributing to the societies they live in, which also represents an economic loss for their countries.

Quality is improving but not fast enough

Quality ALE can also provide invaluable support to sustainable development and GRALE 4 shows that three-quarters of countries reported progress in the quality of education since 2015. Qualitative progress is observed in curricula, assessment, teaching methods and employment conditions of adult educators. However, progress in citizenship education, which is essential in promoting and protecting freedom, equality, democracy, human rights, tolerance and solidarity, remained negligible. No more than 3% of countries reported qualitative progress in this area.

Increase in funding for adult learning and education needed

GRALE 4 shows that over the last ten years, spending on adult learning and education has not reached sufficient levels, not only in low-income countries but also in lower middle income and high-income countries. Nearly 20% of Member States reported spending less than 0.5 per cent of their education budgets on ALE and a further 14% reported spending less than 1 per cent. This information demonstrates that many countries have failed to implement the intended increase in ALE financing proposed in GRALE 3 and that ALE remains underfunded. Moreover, under-investment hits socially disadvantaged adults the hardest. Lack of funding also hampers the implementation of new policies and efficient governance practices.

Download of the UNESCO Global Report on Adult Learning and Education:

About the UNESCO Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE)

The UNESCO Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE) monitors whether UNESCO Member States are putting their international commitments on adult learning and education into practice. These commitments are set out in the Belém Framework for Action (2009), the outcome document of the 6th International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI, Belém, Brazil), and the Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education (2015). In addition to this monitoring function, each issue of GRALE examines a particular topic, the 2019 edition focusses on participation. GRALE is published every three years. The Report combines survey data, policy analysis and case studies to provide policy-makers and practitioners with recommendations and examples of good practice. It presents evidence on how adult learning and education helps countries address current challenges and contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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Cameroon: Faculty of Mines and Oil Industries, Maroua Wins 2019 STEM Prize Competition
December 4, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Winners of STEM Prize 2019
Winners of STEM Prize 2019

(Yaounde, Cameroon) The 2019 edition of the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) competition organized by the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation has been won by the Faculty of Mines and Oil Industries, Maroua.

Kapche Christian, Mekoulou Ondigui, Andela Jessica and Dissake Olivier with a project on Production of diesel fuel paraffinic from neem oil was crowned winners during the award ceremony November 30, 2019, at the Muna Foundation in Yaounde.

“We are so happy that we won the STEM prize as all our efforts have been rewarded. We had a fix objective to transform our economy, especially that of the extreme North. Cameroonians should not give up — when you have projects just continue to work on it,” Mekoulou Odigui Daniel explained.

They equally went home with a cash prize of FCFA 1. 5M, with the second place going home with FCFA 1M, and the third with FCFA 75, 000. FCFA 500, 000 each was awarded to the fourth and fifth positions.

Second position was won by L’institut Universitaire de Technologie Fotso Victor (IUT-FV), third position occupied by Institut des Sciences Économiques et des Technique Appliquées (ISET), University of Buea came in the fourth place while the University of Yaounde 1 came in the fifth place.

To Odette Kibu, Health Policy Analyst, and Coordinator of the STEM Prize, “What we expected from the team is that they should implement their projects that they proposed to the foundation. We are expecting them to use the funds giving them to implement their projects, so they can see how to positively impact their communities,” She said while adding that, “Every three months, we will be following them up to see how far they have implemented the project because we don’t want to give money, and not to follow them up.”

To her, the foundation received 63, applications this year as compared to 48 last year. “In addition, 93 girls entered the competition compared to 82 last year. Applications were received from eight regions of the country, but we are hoping that next year’s edition will feature applications from all the ten regions of the country.”

“We have already working on the project we presented (HAS 2.0). We were just looking for how we can get funds for the project to continue but giving the outcome, we are going to look for funds elsewhere as we were trained on how to attract funds for our projects,” noted Durell Dogmo, team member UB.

Various teams equally did a brief demonstration of their projects to the watching of those in attendance. Some projects include, the Home Automation Systems (HAS) proposed by those from University of Buea, LANDPAD – a tablet with a set of applications to digitalize agricultural plantations and optimize production from students at the University of Yaounde 1, Plastic waste bottles turned building blocks to construct eco-friendly residential houses by 2020 in Foumbot, by students from Institut des Sciences Économiques et des Technique Appliquées (ISET).

Fosi Jasmine from Institut des Sciences Économiques et des Technique Appliquées (ISET), was giving an individual award for being the youngest participant at this year’s event at 13-years-old, while Wadjom Eunice was equally honored for being the most dynamic person during the training. 

Previous Winners

Students from Quality international who had a project on “Hemo Android mobile application” won first position for the 2018 STEM competition, and equally went home with a cash prize of FCFA 1.5 million.

Students from Government Bilingual Grammar School Kumbo won the second prize with a project title, “Fighting Deforestation by substituting wood with mini biogas plants in restaurants by 2019 in Kumbo, North West Region of Cameroon.” The students went home with 1 million FCFA to help them in achieving their project.

ICT University came in third position winning FCFA 7, 50,000. They had a project called “Mediquick: Mobile application to ease access to healthcare information.”

Extreme North bags first prize at 2019 STEM
Extreme North bags first prize at 2019 STEM

The STEM Prize Competition was established to encourage young Cameroonians, especially girls and young women to pursue careers in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. From many applications received in this year’s edition, five (5) teams of  motivated young men and women  aged between 13 to 21 have been selected as Finalists.  These young Cameroonians are working on innovative projects to improve the living conditions in their communities and the entire country.

“Our goal here is simple: Unleash the potential of our people to be able to tackle many challenges to economic prosperity by creating wealth for themselves and the community. History has taught us that this can only be done through science, technology and innovation.” Dr. Denis Foretia, CO-CHAIR, Foretia Foundation

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Comoros: World Bank Group Pledges $175 Million in Additional Support for Development Programs
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

PARIS, December 3, 2019— The World Bank Group pledged an additional $175 million over the period 2020-2022 to support Comoros’ development through its National Emergent Plan. The announcement was made at the Development Partners Conference for Comoros, held in Paris on December 2 and 3, 2019.
This funding consists of grants and concessional credits from the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank’s arm that provides grants and low to zero-interest loans to the world’s poorest countries and contributions from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization of the World Bank that provides financing for the private sector in developing countries. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), another member of the World Bank Group, will also support Comoros through the implementation of the National Emergent Plan.

The IDA funds will help strengthen human capital development through better investments in nutrition and social protection programs. They will support the country’s recovery and reconstruction of infrastructure, roads and housing after cyclone Kenneth. The World Bank Group’s support will also help promote private sector and value chains development in agriculture and tourism, boost inter-island connectivity, renewable energy supply, and digital finance while increasing financial inclusion.

IFC will leverage IDA funds and other Development Partners’ programs to scale up private sector financing contribution to the National Emergent Plan and its reform agenda. IFC will focus on improving the investment climate and is ready to invest and provide advisory services following the successful implementation of the required reforms.
Comoros is a country with huge potential and important natural resources. However, two Comorians out of 10 live in extreme poverty and a third of the children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition. The human capital index of the Comoros is 0.41, meaning that a child born today in Comoros will have only 41% of the productivity he could have had if he had benefited from an education, comprehensive health care and nutrition.

With this new financing, the World Bank is committed to accompany Comoros in its efforts to achieve an inclusive and sustainable growth. We stand ready to work with other development partners to support the Government and the people of Comoros to address some of the urgent development issues, including enhancing the human capital and promoting better and more connected people”, said Mark Lundell, World Bank Country Director for Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Comoros and Seychelles.

IFC looks forward to continuing the collaboration with the Government of Comoros and its development Partners to strengthen the investment climate, including in areas related to property rights and access to credit. These building blocks will enable IFC to mobilize private investment to support food security, financial inclusion and sustainable job creation”, said Ousseynou Nakoulima, IFC Regional Director for Western Europe.

“MIGA is committed to supporting Comoros’ development goals and the government’s program to boost foreign private sector participation in key sectors. MIGA will play a critical role in de-risking private investment by insuring cross-border investors against non-commercial risks in sectors such as telecommunications, energy, and transport”, said Hoda Moustafa, MIGA Regional Head for Africa. 

*World Bank

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African universities, Mastercard Foundation chart ways of improving higher education
December 3, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Jean d’Amour Mugabo

University community deliberate on improving higher education during the Mastercard Foundation's workshop in Kigali last week. Photo courtesy.
University community deliberate on improving higher education during the Mastercard Foundation’s workshop in Kigali last week. Photo courtesy.

At least 13 universities’ leaders from across Africa have come together to find ways of strengthening higher education for economic transformation and youth employment on the continent.

At the three-day workshop held in Kigali, Rwanda, last week, the academicia and politicians committed to scaling up innovations at universities, increase the mixture of technical and general education courses to ensure that graduates are prepared to meet the labour market’s needs and improve universities’ management, among other drivers of quality education.

Opening the workshop on Tuesday, Rwanda’s Minister of Education, Dr Eugène Mutimura, called on universities’ leaders to embrace the incessant changes of a disruptive era the continent has stepped in.

“We, in African countries, have already started to change. Therefore, it clearly indicates that we should consider repackaging our programmes to deliver programmes that create the future leaders of Africa and ensure that we help them optimise the opportunities presented to them,” he said.

Minister Mutimura also encouraged universities across the continent to broaden partnerships among themselves, with others beyond the continent and with private sector.

Mastercard Foundation’s Chief Programme Officer, Peter Materu, said the foundation targets to offer 15,000 university scholarships by 2030 to disadvantaged young but talented Africans including refugees who will take up 25% of the scholarships. In order to bridge the gender gap in higher education, Mr Materu said female young people will take 70% of the scholarships.

Through its Scholars programme, the foundation has so far offered 36,000 scholarships across Africa including 25,000 for secondary schools and 11,000 for tertiary education.

Materu said that Mastercard Foundation considers adding seven African universities in addition to the current 10 on the list of 24 Scholars Programme’s partner universities across the world. The ten include Nkwame Nkrumah University and Ashesi University in Ghana, Makerere University in Uganda, Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences based in Rwanda Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania, University of Gondor in Ethiopia and University of Cape Town in South Africa, among others.

Mr Materu encouraged other African universities to apply for the partnership with Mastercard Foundation but reminded that they have to check well with their programmes, quality of education and facilities if they are to succeed in securing the partnership.

The University of Rwanda’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of institutional advancement, Dr Charles Muligande, said the university considers applying for Scholars Programme’s partnership and expressed confidence in securing it.

“We need to review our programmes. Some of the programmes were developed at a time when there wasn’t enough resources to do a comprehensive skills assessment, identify the skills gap and map out skills profiles that are needed. Therefore, we ended up developing programmes that are producing graduates who do not meet what the market needs,” he said. Dr Muligande added that UR also considers training the lecturers continuously to update them on the current changes of the job market.

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Government unveils Urban Mobility Project for Freetown
December 1, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Uzman Unis Bah

Freetown, Sierra Leone – President Julius Maada Bio has launched the Sierra Leone Integrated Resilient Urban Mobility Project; stressing the huge financial, environmental and health costs related challenges posed by overcrowding in the nation’s capital.

 

“There is a heavy direct and indirect cost to congestion. Alongside our interventions being announced today, it may be invaluable for our government and our development partners to calculate the real monetary value of the cost of Freetown’s congestion. That may help us come to terms with its multiple realities and guide strategy and policy,” the president said.

“I need not say that a congested city is not good for citizens, not good for tourism, not good for business, and not safe for our women and children. I need not emphasise that traffic congestion diminishes productivity, increases the cost of commuting through increased fuel and operating costs, and has environmental and health implications,” President Bio said. 

The President Bio affirms that the government is determined to address the current traffic congestion in Freetown. “not only by the construction of new roads” and the widening of others, supplemented with pedestrian flyovers at the busiest urban intersections; but also by employing proven and practical traffic engineering mitigation measures such as the use of actuated traffic light signals, directional traffic flows, channel station. He said.

President of the Sierra Leone Drivers’ Union, Alpha Bah, applauded the project, saying that they were excited. He said that the project, among other things, would help to decongest the roads, improve safety for vehicular traffic and commuters. He added that the project would also reduce road accidents, restore better transport service to commuters.  

The World Bank Executive Director said that she was excited to witness the official launch of the IRUMP, noting that she was especially pleased because the project looked at resilience of climate change, job creation that was crucial for youth and access to service and road safety in the country.

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Transport and Aviation, Kabineh Kallon, said that he was delighted that the President was launching the project as a means of creating awareness to the people of Freetown, and other municipalities across the country.

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Junior Achievement Africa Hosts 9th Annual Africa Company of the Year Competition
November 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

Accra, Ghana – Junior Achievement (JA) Africa is proud to announce that the 2019 Regional Company of the Year (COY) Competition will return to Accra, Ghana. The competition will bring together Company Program students from the 15 African countries where JA works in Africa. The event will take place from 4-6 December 2019 at the Swiss Spirit Hotel and Alisa Suitesunder the theme Activating Disruptors”, which challenges the students to come up with products and services that will disrupt various industries.

The COY competition is JA Africa’s annual celebration of students of the JA Company Program, who have created and run their own businesses during the school year. The Company Program is JA’s flagship entrepreneurship education curriculum which teaches introductory business to thousands of secondary school students in Africa every year. For millions of young Africans, creating their own enterprises is the most viable avenue for employment as the formal sector is unable to meet the employment demands of the growing youth population.

Graduates of the Program compete at national level for the opportunity to represent their country at the regional level. The competing teams will pitch business ideas to judges at the regional competition, demonstrate understanding and explain how and why their businesses performed as they did. Judges will be looking at the current performance and future potential of these business, as well as the personal development of the team members. In addition to the finalist awards, students will also compete for several branded awards presented by the funders of the competition.

Each year, JA Africa engages over 250,000 students across Africa, teaching them how to start and run their own businesses. Harnessing Africa’s youth potential through entrepreneurship education has the potential to translate into a dividend for the continent. The creation of enterprises does not only contribute towards economic growth, but also creates jobs for other young people. Giving these young entrepreneurs the experience of running businesses builds their minds to take on the challenges and opportunities entrepreneurship brings.

This year’s competition is supported by FedEx, Citi Foundation, Delta Air Lines, Tomorrow Foundation, Kosmos Energy, Facebook, LAWtrust, Bechtel, African Export-Import Bank, The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana Limited, Newmont Goldcorp Ghana, Bata, and L’Oreal.


JA Africa prepares youth for the future of jobs through the delivery of financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship training. JA Africa reaches over 250,000 young people in 15 countries in Africa each year (www.ja africa.org).

FedEx Corp:

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $70 billion, the company offers integrated business solutions through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 450,000 team members to remain focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. To learn more about how FedEx connects people and possibilities around the world, please visit about.fedex.com.    

Citi Foundation:
The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. Citi invests in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation’s “More than Philanthropy” approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill its mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. www.citifoundation.com/citi/foundation

Delta Air Lines:
Delta Air Lines serves more than 180 million customers each year. In 2017, Delta was named to Fortune’s top 50 Most Admired Companies in addition to being named the most admired airline for the sixth time in seven years. With an industry- leading global network, Delta and the Delta Connection carriers offer service to 323 destinations in 59 countries on six continents.

Tomorrow Foundation:

Tomorrow Foundation supports African development. They harness technology and bring the most useful techniques and technologies affordably to all Africans to improve their living standards and boost the economies of African countries.

Kosmos Energy:
Kosmos is a premier international oil and gas exploration and production company focused on the frontier.

Facebook:

Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together.

LAWtrust:

LAWtrust is Africa’s leading trust centre, security integrator and security solutions developer and also the company responsible for South Africa’s new national smart ID cards. With more than 20 years’ experience, LAWtrust’s CEO Christi Maherry lives and breathes everything related to tech, entrepreneurship, leadership as well as youth- and female-empowerment. Christi is a Board member of Junior Achievement Africa.

Bechtel:

Bechtel Corporation is an engineering, procurement, construction, and project management company, headquartered in Reston, Virginia. It is the largest construction company in the United States.

African Export-Import Bank:

African Export–Import Bank, also referred to as Afreximbank, is a pan-African multilateral trade finance institution created in 1993 under the auspices of the African Development Bank.

The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana Ltd:
The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana Limited (TCCBCGL), a subsidiary of Equatorial Coca-Cola Bottling Company, is the authorized bottler of Coca-Cola beverages in Ghana. The Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Ghana Limited believes in investing in the future.

Newmont Goldcorp:

Newmont Goldcorp is one of the world’s leading gold companies. Newmont’s presence in Ghana includes the Ahafo mine in the Brong-Ahafo region and the Akyem operation in the Eastern region near New Abirem.

Bata:

Bata is a multinational footwear and fashion accessory manufacturer and retailer based in LausanneSwitzerland.

L’Oreal:
Founded in Paris in 1953, L’Oreal has risen to become the world’s number one cosmetics company.

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Once the breadbasket of Africa, Zimbabwe now on brink of man-made starvation, UN rights expert warns
November 28, 2019 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire 

Despite the constitutional protection of the right to food and a sophisticated set of human-rights based national laws and policies, man-made starvation is slowly making its way in Zimbabwe, said the UN expert of the right to food after visiting the country from 18 to 28 November 2019.  

“More than 60% of the population of a country once seen as the breadbasket of Africa is now considered food-insecure, with most households unable to obtain enough food to meet basic needs due to hyperinflation,” said Hilal Elver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, presenting a preliminary statement at the end of an 11-day visit.  

“In rural areas, a staggering 5.5 million people are currently facing food insecurity, as poor rains and erratic weather patterns are impacting harvests and livelihoods. In urban areas, an estimated 2.2 million people are food-insecure and lack access to minimum public services, including health and safe water.  

“These are shocking figures and the crisis continues to worsen due to poverty and high unemployment, widespread corruption, severe price instabilities, lack of purchasing power, poor agricultural productivity, natural disasters, recurrent droughts and unilateral economic sanctions.”  

Elver said women and children were bearing the brunt of the crisis.  

“The majority of the children I met were stunted and underweight,” she said. “Child deaths from severe malnutrition have been rising in the past few months. 90 % of Zimbabwean children aged six months to two years are not consuming the minimum acceptable diet.  

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2019 Conference on Land Policy in Africa: Technology and innovation will help speed up removal of land sector corruption in Africa – African Development Bank
November 26, 2019 | 0 Comments

African countries must act faster to purge corruption in the land sector by harnessing technology and innovation, African Development Bank Senior Vice President Charles Boamah urged on Monday.

Boamah, who was speaking to policymakers and stakeholders at a conference on Land Policy in Africa in the Ivorian capital, Abidjan, also called for the deployment of more financial and human resources to land policy development, “especially in rural areas and among the most vulnerable, including women.”

The biennial conference, organized by the Land Policy Centre, provides a central platform for African stakeholders to network and deepen their commitment to land policy development, implementation and monitoring, through access to knowledge and evidence-based policymaking.

This year’s dialogue, hosted by the African Development Bank, is on the theme: “Winning the Fight against corruption in the Land sector: Sustainable pathways for Africa’s transformation”.

According to globally, one in five persons has paid a bribe for a land service. In Africa, every client of a land administration service has paid a bribe.

“This corruption takes many forms — bribery or illicit land transactions is just one example. Land developers and speculators specifically target countries with weak governance systems. Local powerful elites are also more likely to manipulate such systems to serve narrow ends not to benefit the public,” Boamah noted.

The African Development Bank is committed to working with its partners to improve governance in land administration as part of efforts to boost agriculture production. Two of its key initiatives- the , have demonstrated innovation in this area.

Agriculture remains the backbone of many African economies. But sound land policy and administration are needed to bring it in line with 21st-century practice, Boamah said.

The TAAT program has worked with 30 seed companies to produce 27,000 metric tonnes of drought-resistant maize seeds. By the end of 2018, more than 1.6 million farmers had planted these seeds.

Connect Africa initiative — a $55 billion global partnership to bridge major gaps in ICT infrastructure across the continent — is allowing farmers to use digital technology to access prices and services like mobile banking.

Ivorian Justice Minister Sansan Kambile called on African states to prioritise land tenure security as a development objective.

“Without land tenure security, and the various implications, no development can be sustainable. It is a collective responsibility which we must pursue to leave a worthy legacy for future generations” he said.

Kambile said the Ivorian government is keen to see workable outcomes from the Abidjan meetings for adoption into its land administration system.

In her welcome remarks, Sacko Correia, Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Economy at the African Union Commission, noted that corruption in the land sector has undermined cohesiveness and led to conflicts on the continent.

“For us to win the fight against corruption, we must ensure that land is equitably distributed and accessed by all, most especially by women, youth and other vulnerable groups,” she said, noting that although women contribute significantly to agriculture production in Africa, they enjoy less rights to land.

She called on African governments to ensure that land management processes are transparent, accountable, efficient and responsive to the new challenges of climate change, natural disasters and environmental degradation.

Stephen Karingi, Director, Private Sector Development and Finance, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, said an effective land governance will help reduce cost of doing business in Africa and help contribute immensely to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 master plan for transforming Africa into the global powerhouse of the future.

This year’s theme is aligned to the African Union’s declaration of 2018 as Africa’s Anti-Corruption Year. The continental body identifies corruption as a key factor hampering efforts to promote governance, socio-economic transformation, peace and security.

The conference will run from 25th to 29th November.

*AFDB

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Getting women in the driver’s seat of Africa’s agribusiness revolution
November 25, 2019 | 0 Comments

More African female agripreneurs must be supported to grow and progressively transition into the business segments of agricultural value chains which are most profitable

By Mariam Yinusa and Edward Mabaya*

Monica Musonda, CEO of Zambian food processing company Java Foods ,  certainly faced hurdles in her rise to the top, but she overcame them.

“Although the barriers to entry for women can be frustrating, they are often basic and relatively easy to resolve,” she said, playing down her struggles. “My climb up the agribusiness ladder has been challenging but definitely worthwhile.”

Musonda, whose company produces affordable and nutritious food snacks made from local ingredients, is one of just a handful of female agripreneurs who have successfully broken through the proverbial glass ceiling in Africa’s agribusiness  industry.

Women are the backbone of Africa’s agricultural sector. From farm to fork, African women are players along the entire agricultural value chain, be it as farmers, livestock breeders, processors, traders, workers, entrepreneurs or consumers. While their influence on the continent’s growing agribusiness industry is undeniable, more solutions are needed to address the gender-specific challenges they face to boost their participation.

The average African woman is a budding entrepreneur either by choice or by circumstance. According to the  Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Women’s Report 2016/17 , the continent has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs in the world, with one in four women starting or managing a business. The agribusiness industry is often the natural focus of this entrepreneurial drive.

Across the continent, women dominate as primary processors post-harvest, as traders with bustling market stalls, as owners of fast food restaurants and with increasingly frequency as manufacturers of packaged ready-to-eat food products. Yet despite this dynamism, female-led agribusinesses tend to remain small, fragmented and informal in nature. They struggle to sustain and scale-up their agribusinesses into well-organized profitable enterprises.

Admittedly, the challenging business environment in many African countries including poor infrastructure and unreliable legal and regulatory systems affects all business activities of both men and women. However, in addition women-led businesses must also grapple with a number of gender-specific constraints, inhibiting their expansion into more lucrative market segments.

Firstly, African women often lack the technical know-how.  Despite the gains in female education on the continent, highly productive agribusinesses require specialized vocational and technical skills in fields such as food safety, food conservation, packaging and product certification which many African women do not readily possess.

Access to finance is the most frequently cited obstacle by African SMEs. Women entrepreneurs face multiple difficulties in securing funding mainly due to lack of collateral in the form of land and other tangible assets and a high-risk perception. According to the African Development Bank, an estimated $42 billion financing gap exists for African women across business value chains, including $15.6 billion in agriculture alone. Women are forced to rely on personal savings and family loans which are rarely enough to fund their businesses to scale.

Thirdly, socio-cultural barriers and stereotypes persist. African women remain the primary caregivers in families meaning that managing those responsibilities while growing a thriving business can become a difficult balancing act.

Over the last two decades, many governments and development institutions have rolled out programs to promote access to finance, agricultural inputs and provide technical support and business training to female agripreneurs. The African Development Bank recently set up the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) , a bold pan-African initiative to bridge the financing gap facing women. It adopts a three-pronged approach centered on improving access to finance, providing technical assistance and strengthening the enabling environment.

It often takes very little to make a difference. The capital injection required by the majority of female led SME agribusinesses on the continent is typically less than $50,000. And women have consistently proven to be more credit-worthy than men, usually paying back loans within agreed timeframes. Successful solutions by women for women such as microfinance and saving groups, peer-to-peer training and information sharing should also be reinforced and taken to scale.

More of such initiatives are urgently needed across the continent. Solutions must be based on in-depth engagement with the women business owners themselves to properly understand their frustrations and needs. Tailored programs designed to specifically address these pain points are critical. The Global Gender Summit  is a timely opportunity to drive this forward.

Women are central for Africa’s agricultural transformation to be successful, sustainable and inclusive. More African female agripreneurs must be supported to grow and progressively transition into the business segments of agricultural value chains which are most profitable. It has been proven time and time again that when African women thrive the entire society shares in those dividends.

*Mariam Yinusa and Edward Mabaya are Principal Economist and Manager, respectively, in the Agribusiness Development Division of the African Development Bank.


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Al-Sumait Prize Board of Trustees announced joint winners for the US$1million prestigious award in the 2019 cycle in the field of food security in recognition of their exemplary work in agriculture development in the African continent
November 25, 2019 | 0 Comments
Al Sumait Board of Trustees & Staff Nov Meeting

KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait, November 25, 2019/ — Following consideration of the jury and selection committees’ reports, the Board of Trustees of the Al Sumait Prize for African Development has decided to jointly award the Million Dollar 2019 Prize in the field of food security to:

Professor Daniel Gustafson (FAO)
Professor Daniel Gustafson (FAO)

The Africa Rice Center (Based in Cote d’ivoire)

for its important role in enhancing food security in Africa, including the production of new rice varieties vitamin A enriched-rice with high yielding and climate-resilient and leading of pan-African rice research organization committed to improving livelihoods in Africa through strong science and effective partnerships devoted to improving the rice economy in Africa and is part of a global research partnership for a food-secure future. Through their applied research and education programs, the Center is building the next generation of professionals in rice and food research in Africa.

Pan Africa Bean Research Alliance (PABRA) (Nairobi)

for serving a dynamic network of scientists and practitioners specializing in improving the productivity, processing, and the value chain of beans throughout AfricaThe Alliance works along the continuum of innovative research to effective adoption and sustainable management of small farmers enterprises. PABRA has increased the integration of the important legume component in farming systems, which is important to improve soil fertility, enhance nutritional quality, and serve as a resilient driver in dryland and drought prone environments.

Professor Stefania Giannini (UNESCO)
Professor Stefania Giannini (UNESCO)

An initiative of His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait, which provides the annual million dollar, the Prize honors the late Dr Abdulrahman Al Sumait, a Kuwaiti doctor who dedicated his life to addressing the health challenges confronting Africa.

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U.S. Commits $430 Million in Insurance to Natural Gas Project in Egypt
November 23, 2019 | 0 Comments

International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Adam Boehler.Photo credit :OPIC
International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) CEO Adam Boehler.Photo credit :OPIC

CAIRO – Adam Boehler, Chief Executive Officer of the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), today announced a commitment to provide $430 million in insurance to advance energy security in Egypt by rehabilitating a natural gas pipeline and transporting natural gas from fields offshore in Israel. The announcement was made at the Investment for Africa Forum during a signing ceremony that included Boehler and U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen as well as Egyptian Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr.

The insurance will enable Noble Energy Inc. of Houston, Texas to restore the 90-kilometer EMG Pipeline running from the coastal city of Ashkelon, Israel and under the Mediterranean Sea to its destination in Al-Arish, Egypt. It will also support the transport of 3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas over 15 years. The insurance contracts were signed this week after Noble Energy and its partners achieved financial close for the project.

“Strengthening energy security—which bolsters trade, supports investment, and improves quality of life—is critical to ensuring lasting prosperity and stability in Egypt,” said Boehler. “This project will help the country meet growing demand for reliable, low-cost energy in order to fuel sustained economic growth and create opportunities that have a stabilizing impact in Egypt and across the region.”

“Egypt is a strategic partner to the United States. We are excited to support this critical investment in the country by an American company which will not only spur job creation and economic growth but also help provide reliable and affordable energy for the people of Egypt and others throughout the region,” said Cohen.

“Egypt welcomes this massive private sector investment and looks forward to the economic impact it will have for the Egyptian people,” said Nasr.

“The Dolphinus gas sales contracts and the EMG acquisition underpin delivery of natural gas from the Tamar and Leviathan fields in Israel into Egypt and represent a major milestone toward Egypt’s goal of becoming a regional energy hub. Both these transactions and the support from the U.S. Government provide further confidence in the long-term export market and growing cash flow from these premier assets,” said J. Keith Elliott, Noble Energy’s Senior Vice President, Offshore.

Under the terms of the project, the gas will be purchased by Dolphinus Holdings, a gas trading company.

The project will advance energy security in Egypt and support the country’s efforts to grow its economy by exporting gas to parts of Europe and other global markets. The pipeline being restored had initially been used to transport natural gas from Egypt to Israel but ceased operations in 2012.

Boehler is attending the Investment for Africa Forum during a trip to Egypt to highlight U.S. commitment to the region, explore private sector investment opportunities, and strengthen relationships with key regional partners in support of mutual development goals.

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) is America’s development bank. DFC partners with the private sector to finance solutions to the most critical challenges facing the developing world today. Working together with businesses, we invest in projects that create jobs and opportunity in emerging markets, including building critical infrastructure, expanding access to telecommunications, and providing small business financing, notably for women entrepreneurs. DFC helps to advance America’s foreign policy by partnering on projects that create economic stability, protect sovereignty, and ensure transparency. DFC investments adhere to high principles and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.

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Ethiopia and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) to help families adapt to climate shocks in new multi-million dollar project
November 19, 2019 | 0 Comments
The project also aims to improve nutrition by providing education on food handling and food preservation
ROME, Italy, November 19, 2019/ — Half a million of Ethiopia’s most vulnerable families are set to benefit from a new US$451 million project to increase their resilience to climate shocks in the country’s poorest regions.

For more than two decades, climate change has placed a major stress on the Ethiopian economy and on people’s livelihoods. Most of the population of lowland areas are dependent on rain-fed agriculture and pastoralism, and are therefore highly vulnerable to droughts, desertification and floods.

A financing agreement for the Lowlands Livelihood Resilience Project was signed today by Gilbert F. Houngbo, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) (www.IFAD.org), and Zenebu Tadesse Woldetsadik, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agencies in Rome.

The funding includes a $90 million loan from IFAD and $350 million in co-financing from the International Development Association (80 per cent loan and 20 per cent grant) and $11million from the beneficiaries themselves.

The project, primarily designed to help achieve Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2 (eradicating poverty and hunger) will install small-scale irrigation technology to reduce dependence on erratic rains. It will also help smallholder farmers to invest in research systems for faster adaptation to climate change.

Project activities will also strengthen rangeland and natural resources management, and improve the delivery of basic social services so that rural communities can withstand droughts and other climate shocks, and reduce asset losses. It will also help mitigate conflicts over scarce resources in fragile pastoral and agro-pastoral ecosystems.

“This new project will develop an innovative value chain approach to leverage private investment, productivity and win-win commercial linkages between local businesses,” said Ulaç Demirag, Country Director for Ethiopia. “The approach will enable project clients to sustain and improve their livelihoods after completion of the project.”

The project also aims to improve nutrition by providing education on food handling and food preservation, and the production of more nutritious and diverse crops with access to bio-fortified seeds and technical assistance, including on post-harvest handling.

Women (50 per cent of participants) and young people will especially benefit from project activities that will cover the pastoral and agro-pastoral areas in the Afar, Benishangul-Gumuz, Gambela, Oromia, Somali and Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples’ regions.

Since 1980, IFAD has invested $755.5 million in 19 rural development programmes and projects worth $ 1.8 billion in Ethiopia. These have directly benefited around 11.5 million rural households.
IFAD (www.IFAD.org) invests in rural people, empowering them to reduce poverty, increase food security, improve nutrition and strengthen resilience. Since 1978, we have provided US$21.5 billion in grants and low-interest loans to projects that have reached about 491 million people. IFAD is an international financial institution and a United Nations specialized agency based in Rome – the United Nations’ food and agriculture hub.  

More about IFAD: www.IFAD.org.
SOURCE
International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD)
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