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Covid-19 & Smart Food Markets for the Future
June 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Betty Kibaara*

Betty Kibaara is the Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation
Betty Kibaara is the Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

Nothing excites me more than visiting an open-air market and sampling some succulent, juicy pineapple, or a yellow-ripe sweet banana amidst small chit-chat with the friendly women vendors. These pleasantries are no longer the norm. With all of us wearing masks, I can hardly recognize my vendors and they cannot make out their customers. I don’t taste the fruits until they are washed in soapy water.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that while open markets are a key component of a sustainable food system, they aren’t built for a crisis like this one. Urban food markets in Africa often lack adequate infrastructure, resulting in over-crowded spaces and massive amounts of food waste. Vendors have little or no control over the hygiene practices of their suppliers and customers, making food safety protocols difficult to follow.

The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has provided guidelines to help secure the food supply during this challenging time. While this is a good short-term measure, we need to be thinking about the long-term changes that will make our markets more resilient for the future. African countries can develop prototypes for “smart” markets fit to our context, designed to ensure health and safety, and equipped to meet our food needs now and into the future.  The big question however is, what could an African Smart Market look like?

Firstly, the vast roofs of markets are a perfect place to install solar panels, enabling markets to run on sustainable energy. The power generated could also serve surrounding consumers and businesses.

Secondly, modern African markets provide the perfect opportunity for water harvesting infrastructure. The roofs of the markets could collect water during rains and would help keep the market well-sanitized and supply customers and vendors with clean drinking water.

Good water supply goes well with sanitation facilities. Water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are critical to limiting infection spread and protecting health. Clean facilities, maintained by private sector partners, could offer services such as sorting bays and improve hygiene by sanitizing surfaces for vendors.

Additionally, Kenya generates 8 million tons of waste annually and nearly 40 per cent of it comes from urban areas. Market waste can be sorted and converted to bio-degradable products to generate power. Organic waste could be used to produce alternative proteins for animal feed  such as black soldier fly production.

It is also worth noting that markets can be designed with basic food processing infrastructure to convert fruits into fresh juices. This could contribute to reducing food waste.  

Food wastage reduction cannot be efficient without a dedicated cold storage infrastructure. Without adequate storage in markets, fruits and vegetables spoil quickly under the hot sun. Cold storage solutions such as ColdHubs, would reduce post-harvest losses.  Through the YieldWise Initiative, and in partnership with TechnoServe, The Rockefeller Foundation has already invested in reducing post-harvest losses among smallholder mango farmers in Kenya. With investments in cold storage solutions, the smart market would provide an additional opportunity at the point of sale to reduce post-harvest loss.

To safeguard human health, food safety and traceability must be a priority throughout the food system. While subsistence production, informal distribution channels, and traditional community markets make it difficult to implement large-scale food safety interventions, smart markets could promote a shift in consumer attitudes by designating a section where traders only sell certified and traceable produce. This could be a big step toward creating consumer demand for food safety and traceability and lay the groundwork for future reform.

Therefore, a carefully considered market design is the final piece of the puzzle. For example, traders in the sunniest and windiest spots often cover their stalls in dirty sacks, introducing unnecessary risk of contamination. Markets could be optimized to have clear entries and exits and take into account the direction of the sun and wind, minimizing the need for extra work and unsanitary makeshift solutions.

As we think about designing the markets of the future, we should also explore business models to help markets become self-sustaining.

We must take COVID-19 as an opportunity to think creatively and help our markets evolve to be more hygienic, more sustainable and more resilient to future shocks and disruptions. By doing this, we can help protect our local vendors’ livelihoods and ensure that millions of Africans have secure access healthy, nutritious food.

*Betty Kibaara is the Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

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Senegal: AfDB approves 88 million euros emergency budget support for COVID-19 response
May 31, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on Friday approved a loan of 88 million euros to Senegal, hit hard by the novel coronavirus pandemic,  in support of  the costs of its national COVID-19 Economic and Social Resilience Program.

The financing, which falls under the Bank’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Facility, will provide the nation with an emergency budget support program (PUARC) aiming to address the health, social and economic impacts of the crisis. The operation will target support measures providing relief to the most vulnerable households, while safeguarding jobs and enabling businesses to quickly resume. 

The operation will help strengthen the health contingency action plan through support to patient case management and care facilities with the construction of three new Epidemic Treatment Centers (ETCs), the upgrading of 7 others, as well as improving capacities of the intensive care units.PUARC will also support the distribution of food kits and the payment of the electricity and water bills for vulnerable households.

These emergency measures should enable both rural and urban households to make up for the loss of income caused by the pandemic and boost existing measures, such as cash transfers for the poorest.The operation will also support the adoption of measures to shield workers from dismissal and technical unemployment during the pandemic, ensuring that workers are paid a guaranteed minimum wage.

“ Senegal is among the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to face the pandemic. I congratulate the government for the significant efforts deployed and for thebold measures taken at a very early stage, which helped to control the spread of the virus and its social and economic impact,” Bank Director General for West Africa Region Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade said following the approval.

The COVID-19 pandemic is already having a significant impact on the Senegalese economy, through the rapid deterioration of global economic conditions and the spread of the disease. Real GDP growth projections have been revised down from 6.8% to less than 3% for 2020, due to a slowdown in the tertiary sector, especially the tourism and transport sectors.

At the national level, measures to close borders, a curfew and social distancing have deepened the impact of the pandemic on certain sectors and led to the cessation of activities in others.. Sectors such as tourism, land and air transportation, trade ((including youth and women involved in informal sector and cross-border trade) and education are therefore directly affected by the crisis.

“The operation approved today by our Board, will allow the country to create the necessary fiscal space to address the emergency situation, while preserving the macroeconomic framework and growth, to support SMEs and to help the vulnerable populations most affected by the crisis,” Akin-Olugbade further said.

As at 29 May, the country had recorded 3,429 coronavirus cases, with 41 deaths.

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Affected And Shork-Absorbed The Economy: Agriculture In Uganda Throughout Covid-19 Crisis To Date
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Moses Hategeka *

“My son, its unbeliebvable but a reality. Its me you are now seeing, driving and  hawking my poutry farm eggs, from towns to towns, hoping to find customers for my eggs says Mubiru John a poutry and cattle farmer from Mukono district. On being asked, what has prompted him to do so, he narrated to me that, the global Covid-19 crisis, has had a devastating impact on his farm earnings. Since January 2020, the prices of per tray of my eggs, has drastically been reducing from Shs 12,000 to Shs 7000 in May. It is so frustrating for me and other poutry farmers, as I have continue incurring chicken feeds costs yet the farm is yielding no profits but only losses for me”.

 To make matters worse, even the price of per- little of milk from my cattle farm, has in the same period todate been plummeting from Shs 1200 to Shs 300 and yet I have to sustain the farm, which unfurtantely, I am doing on an operating loss. He says!

  The Covid-19 preventive measures among which includes, business shutdown, that  also included shutting down hotels, resturants, food joints, public transport, international airports, and curfew, that the country introduced, made farmers, to loose a big percentage of their customers and market base and this coupled with, the long lockdown period that the country has been and is still partly in, has made the lives of farmers in different parts of the country more miserable, as reports of farmers, especially banana farmers seeing their bananas rippening and getting wasted continues to trickle in due to decreasing number of buyers.

  The situation has been and is being made worse by dwindling of majority of people’s disposable income, with mostly those engaged in informal sector severly affected and unable to meet their basic needs, due to the ongoing lockdown and accompanying preventive mesaures.

  It is mostly only the agricultural dealers who had large stocks of beans and maize flour, that have made serious money during this on going Covid-19 crisis, largely because of the government intervention to massively buy their produce and have it equitably distributed to the low income earners dwelling in urban centers, and also because of people’s preference of their produce to other easily perishable goods like bananas, as theirs, can be stocked and survived on, for a long time, as the country goes on grappling with Covid-19 crisis.

 However, much as the Covid-19 crisis, has made and is making the country, to expereince an economic slump, it is important to note that, both the agricultural productivity loss and profitability that has been registered in various agricultural subsectors, during this ongoing Covid-19 crisis, has largely been a blessing in disguise, in that, it has cushioned the economy from galloping and hyper inflation effects, and also sort of enabled the country to relatively sustain its micro-economic stabilty.

 Going forward, the economic stimulus packages, that many interest groups from different sectors are craving for, from government to enable them stay on course in their business enterprises in this Covid-19 period, should without any debate, firstly be given to the farmers especially to those specifically engaged both in producing and adding value to their farm goods, and to those who are willing to do the same, as well as to agricultural cooperatives that does the same and are willing to establish modernized storage facilities of their members farm products.

 There is no reason, why our banana farmers should be left to cry and see their bananas being wasted, when they can be helped to turn their bananas into banana flour and crisps for consumption not only in Uganda but also in other countries.

 Pumkin and soya porridge is very nutrious and on high demand in our surrounding countries as well as to other countries in Africa and Asia. Our pumkin and soya farmers should be skilled and financially enabled, to add value on their goods and tap into this huge avalialble markets.

  In sum, Agricultural sector, has played and is playing a fundemental role in shock-absorbing the economy in this Covid-19 period and therefore it is prudent that the country should leverage on its excellent climatic conditions, and prioritize agriculture in its economic stimulus plans during this ongoing Covid-19 crisis, and and develop sustainable strategies that will position  the country to not only continue being food secure, but to also become a net exporter of food through deepening agricultural production import susbstitution stratgegy.

 Moses Hategeka is a Ugandan based Independent Governance  Reseracher, Public Affairs Analyst, and Writer .He can be reached via email: moseswiseman2000@gmail.com

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Gambia’s Economy Worsen in 2020- Central Bank Governor
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Bakary K. Jammeh, Governor of Gambia Central Bank
Bakary K. Jammeh, Governor of Gambia Central Bank

Bakary K. Jammeh, Governor of Gambia Central Bank yesterday indicated that preliminary estimates of government fiscal operations indicated that overall deficit, including grants worsened from D24.3 million in the first quarter of 2019 to a deficit of D341.6 million in the first quarter of 2020.

“Revenue and grants in the first three months of 2020 decreased to D4.7 billion from D5.0 billion registered in the corresponding period in 2019. Domestic revenue, which comprises tax and non-tax revenue increased to D4.5 billion during the period under review from D3.0 billion in the same period last year.”

Jammeh was speaking during the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) press conference held in Banjul, Governor Jammeh added that the deficit excluding grants have improved to D0.5 billion during the first quarter of 2020 compared to D1.97 billion in the same period in 2019.

He further explained that total government expenditure and net lending increased slightly to D5.02 billion, compared to D5.01 billion in 2019. He added the recurrent expenditure increased by 23.5 % to D4.1 billion (4.1% of GDP) during the period under review.

“Capital expenditure decreased to D948.7 million in the first quarter of 2020 from D1.7 billion in the same period last year.”

Dwelling on the domestic debt, Governor Jammeh stated that The Gambia’s domestic debt remains high, saying the stock of the domestic debt increased to D33.6 billion or 33.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at end April 2020, from D32.5 billion or 35.7% of GDP in the corresponding period in 2019.

After reviewing the country’s economy, Jammeh explained that the committee decided to reduce the monetary policy rate by 2% point to 10% to support the economy. It also reduced the statutory required reserve ratio by 2% points to 13%, which will release about D700 million liquidity to banks; and maintain the interest rate on the standing deposit facility at 3% and the interest rate on the standing lending facility at 1% points above the monetary policy rate.

With regard to the decision taken by the MPC, Governor Jammeh encourages banks to translate these to increase lending to the private sector, while adding that the committee will continue to closely monitor the situation and stands ready to act accordingly.

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The Rockefeller Foundation Announces New Awards to Strengthen Covid-19 Response in Communities Across Africa and Asia
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah meets with a mother and her daughter to talk about The Rockefeller Foundation’s work to bring electricity and lighting to the Kibera area in Kenya. | Photograph by Chad Holder

The Rockefeller Foundation announced today that it will award three new grants to support organizations that are working with countries, communities and regions in Africa and Asia to leverage data and technology to bolster their Covid-19 response. These grants will enhance data collection through contact tracing, symptom checking, and testing that can generate data that is crucial for ensuring efficient Covid-19 responses across community, country and regional levels. The Foundation is also expanding its support of off-grid technologies that can quickly address the energy needs of healthcare facilities currently operating without electricity.

“When I was leading the U.S. response to the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, using transparent, location-specific, real-time data was a game-changing innovation,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Employing a data-driven response to outbreaks is critical to target prevention and response efforts much more precisely and return to normal more quickly.”

With more than 5 million cases globally, countries have turned to technology at all levels of their health systems to respond to Covid-19. Yet many lower- and middle-income countries do not have the same resources as wealthier countries to develop innovations that meet their unique needs and could aid their responses. As a result, those countries with the fewest resources to combat a Covid-19 outbreak are often the least well-positioned to leverage data and technology to drive efficient responses.

“We are partnering with countries and local communities to equip them with the technologies and tools that will help to protect their health and save their economies,” said Ashvin Dayal, Senior Vice President, Power Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation. “Reliable electricity is essential for effective testing and treatment, and off-grid technologies can be rapidly deployed to address this crisis.”

To support countries and those on the frontline in their Covid-19 responses, the Foundation is awarding grants totaling $2 million to four organizations: Dalberg, Dimagi, Medic Mobile and Odyssey Energy Solutions. These new grants build on the Foundation’s efforts to improve public health and provide reliable electricity to vulnerable communities worldwide and brings its total commitment to the global Covid-19 response to over $50 million.

The Foundation’s new grants include:

  • Dalberg has received a grant to strengthen the Incident Management System (IMS) capacity of West African Emergency Operations Centers to prepare for, detect and respond to public health emergencies. The foundation’s grant will support work in six West African countries: Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania. “Emergency Operations Centers help countries and communities come together in a way that saves lives and allows economies to get back on their feet more quickly after disasters have passed,” said Madjiguene Sock, Partner at Dalberg. “This grant will allow us to bolster the effectiveness of the Emergency Operations Centers we have supported for more than seven years, as well as establish a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing between centers across West Africa.”
  • Dimagi and Medic Mobile have received funding to equip community health workers with new digital tools that can bolster a data-driven response to Covid-19 in up to 50 countries. Dimagi and Medic Mobile are the two largest developers of apps designed specifically for community health workers, reaching 700,000 community health workers across the globe. “Digital tools can make a real difference in fighting Covid-19, but only if they make it into the hands of health workers,” said Isaac Holeman, PhD, Co-Founder of Medic Mobile. “This collaboration is an opportunity for our organizations to share what we know, to leverage our respective strengths in order to deliver systems that are optimized for frontline workers in hard-to-reach communities.” Jonathan Jackson, Co-Founder and CEO of Dimagi added, “By creating and sharing these tools, we can help community health workers better respond to this devastating virus and optimize public health in the long-run. These tools will shape a future in which we can predict and respond to pandemics faster and more effectively.”
  • Odyssey Energy Solutions is receiving funding to develop its data platform, which will enable the fast and sustainable deployment of donor capital to energize healthcare facilities with distributed renewable energy technology. The Odyssey platform will align donor efforts, targeting efficient allocation of over $200 million across at least 2,000 health centers in sub-Saharan Africa. “Over 70% of healthcare facilities lack access to reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Odyssey CEO Emily McAteer. “By integrating key datasets with the location of priority health facilities, matching them with developers, supporting the bulk procurement of mini-grid components, and utilizing asset management technologies to track performance, this project will help address the energy needs of healthcare facilities immediately and reliably.” Dana Rysankova, Global Lead for Energy Access at the World Bank noted: “The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) is supporting World Bank client countries in their efforts to electrify health facilities to help mitigate the Covid-19 health crisis. Odyssey can be a very powerful tool in this effort. In Nigeria, for example, the Rural Electrification Agency and the World Bank are partnering with the Odyssey platform for a significant Covid response effort to electrify isolation and treatment centers and primary healthcare facilities, many of which are subsequently expected to be expanded into mini grids that also serve neighboring communities and businesses.”

“The Rockefeller Foundation has supported the field of public health for over 100 years, fueling progress against disease through innovation,” said Naveen A. Rao, MD, Senior Vice President, Health, The Rockefeller Foundation. “These grants build upon that legacy to ensure that countries can fight a 21st century pandemic with 21st century tools.”

The new grants are part of the Foundation’s overall response to the global pandemic, as described in Dr. Shah’s 2020 Annual letter.

About Dalberg
Dalberg is a leading social impact advisory group that brings together strategy consulting, design thinking, big data analytics, and research to address complex social and environmental challenges. We work collaboratively with communities, institutions, governments, and corporations to develop solutions that create impact at scale. With more than 30 locations worldwide and a diverse footprint in the global south, Dalberg is driven by a mission to build a world where all people, everywhere, can reach their fullest potential. In the midst of COVID, Dalberg is coming together with a diverse range of partners and collaborators to mitigate the most serious effects of the crisis for vulnerable communities around the globe. From preparing and transforming under-resourced healthcare systems to partnering with governments to re-imagine existing supply chains and open up new opportunities for livelihoods, we are building systems and solutions that address immediate risks and fend off broader socio-economic disruptions. In all that we do, we rely on our diverse capabilities, cross-sector experience, global mindset and local presence to contribute to the building of a more inclusive and sustainable society for the future.

About Dimagi
Founded in 2002, Dimagi, Inc. is an award-winning, socially conscious technology company that helps organizations around the world deliver quality digital solutions for a variety of sectors, across urban and rural communities. Dimagi’s flagship solution, CommCare, is a leading open-source mobile data collection and service delivery platform designed to improve data collection and the quality of frontline services in low-resource settings. More than 700,000 frontline workers have used CommCare across more than 2,000 projects in 80 countries. Today, Dimagi is supporting COVID-19 response efforts with several state, local, and national governments. Dimagi’s team of exceptional physicians, engineers, and health system architects perform technical strategy, systems design, software development, and health research with partners around the world.

About Medic Mobile
Medic Mobile’s mission is to advance good health and human flourishing with and for the hardest-to-reach communities. A unique non-profit organization, Medic Mobile works with partner organizations to build and apply software that helps health workers deliver equitable care. As technical steward of the Community Health Toolkit open source project, Medic Mobile supports more than 27,000 health workers who provide care for over 12 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Most of the organization’s nearly 100 engineers, designers, and global health practitioners work from offices in Nairobi, Dakar, and Kathmandu, and roughly a third work remotely or from offices in Seattle and San Francisco. The organization and its open source community envision a more just world in which health workers are supported as they provide care for their neighbors, universal health coverage is a reality, and health is a secured human right.

About Odyssey Energy Solutions
Odyssey is an investment and asset management platform that enables data-driven capital deployment into distributed energy portfolios. The platform manages data across the lifecycle of project portfolios, including feasibility analysis, investment diligence, and asset monitoring. Odyssey is being used by key donors, governments and development finance institutions to manage large-scale mini-grid, solar home system, and other electrification initiatives across numerous countries in emerging markets.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission – unchanged since 1913 – is to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today the Foundation advances new frontiers of science, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. In health, The Rockefeller Foundation has been working to improve global public health for more than a century – from eradicating hookworm in the American South, to launching the field of public health, to seeding the development of the life-saving yellow fever vaccine. The Foundation’s Precision Public Health initiative aims to empower community health systems and frontline health workers with the latest digital innovations – including more accurate and precise decision-making tools based on predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

*AMA/ Rockefeller Foundation

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Pan Africa Government Affairs Xchange established by ETHICORE
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
ETHICORE Founder and CEO and Africa GX President, Abdul Waheed Patel
ETHICORE Founder and CEO and Africa GX President, Abdul Waheed Patel

Leading African Government Affairs firm, ETHICORE is proud to announce the formation of Africa Government Affairs Xchange (Africa GX: www.africagx.com). This coincides with Africa Month and Africa Day (25 May 2020), commemorating the founding of the Organisation of African Unity 57 years ago in 1963.

Africa GX is the only multi-country African government affairs alliance of its kind, specialising in public policy, legislative, regulatory, government relations and public affairs for clientele in Africa. Founded and exclusively convened by ETHICORE, Africa GX aims to be the largest strategic alliance of owner-managed African government affairs firms and expert advisors operating according to high ethical standards.

According to ETHICORE Founder and CEO and Africa GX President, Abdul Waheed Patel:
“We are proud to establish Africa GX as a unique milestone, further positioning ETHICORE and our elite partners, as providers of high-quality government affairs services and strategic counsel to African and international clients. Over the past decade we have cultivated enduring bilateral strategic partnerships with reputable firms and professional advisors of high pedigree and integrity, in various African countries. Africa GX consolidates this and advances ETHICORE’s strategy to be the leading Pan-African government affairs firm, transcending borders in collaboration with our partners.”

On inception, Africa GX weaves a presence across 27 African countries in Sub-Saharan, Francophone, Anglophone, Lusophone and North Africa. This includes:
1. Benin
2. Burkina Faso
3. Botswana
4. Cameroon
5. Central African Republic
6. Côte d’Ivoire
7. Chad
8. Democratic Republic of the Congo
9. Ethiopia
10. Egypt
11. Gabon
12. Ghana
13. Guinea
14. Guinea Bissau
15. Kenya
16. Mali
17. Mauritania
18. Morocco
19. Niger
20. Nigeria
21. Rwanda
22. Senegal
23. South Africa
24. Tanzania
25. Togo
26. Zambia
27. Zimbabwe

According to Patel: “Professional government affairs consulting and advisory services in Africa is nascent. Africa GX differentiates ETHICORE and our partners, creating a competitive advantage for our clients that is unrivalled in Africa. As a bespoke continental alliance, we provide local expertise to service clients across the African continent, appropriately tailored and sensitive to each country. It embodies our collective contribution to pragmatically advance the aspiration for greater African integration and unity.”

Today more than ever, specialised African government affairs expertise is imperative to advancing the tenets of participatory democracy and Africa’s democratic dividend. Africa GX upholds responsible and constructive government relations, public policy and regulatory advocacy, which is evidence based and contributes to impactful decision-making by African governments, Parliaments and regulators.

African countries and economies are seized with immense opportunities and challenges in pursuit of national development plans, advancing the African Union’s Agenda 2063, deepening economic integration by implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and coordinating COVID-19 response measures.

Africa GX will be expanding its footprint into all 55 African Union members states by growing the alliance through new memberships, partnership and affiliations.

Founded in 2009, ETHICORE Political Lobbying is a decade young pioneering African Government Affairs firm headquartered in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. ETHICORE specialises in providing professional government affairs consulting and advisory services, helping companies and organisations to interpret, navigate, constructively engage with and positively contribute to public policy, legislative, regulatory, governmental and parliamentary decision-making. The firm has a track record of supporting more than 107 clients across 15 different industry sectors in multiple African countries. Africa GX is a wholly owned subsidiary of ETHICORE.

*Source AMA/ETHICORE

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Zimbabwe:Solar energy producers enticed to feed power to national grid
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
A hospital electrician ensures maintenance of the solar panels at the Nkayi District Hospital, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. UNDP/Slingshot
A hospital electrician ensures maintenance of the solar panels at the Nkayi District Hospital, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. UNDP/Slingshot

  By Wallace Mawire 

   

Solar energy producers in Zimbabwe are set to participate in a net metering programme introduced by the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) which will result in the feeding of solar energy power to the country’s national grid.     

According to the ZETDC public relations department, the net metering programme is a scheme in which any existing customer producing solar energy on their premises can feed excess power back into the ZETDC network through a grid-tied invetor and a smart meter,which measures both power consumed by the customer and power supplied to the grid.         

  It is reported that only electrical power units and not money shall be credited to the customer account. This is expected to benefit the customer by keeping their bills low as it reduces the total units billed at the end of the month. According to the ZETDC,net metering is beneficial to the utility and the nation at large through the saving of foreign currency, as there will be less power imports.                 

 The use of solar energy in Zimbabwe is being intensified at a time when the country has suffered periods of chronic electricity shortages in recent years. This has led to an increasing number of Zimbabweans to install small solar systems.  Also businesses in the country are embarking on measures which include diversifying energy supply to reduce heavy reliance on grid power energy supply. These include improving energy efficiency and switching to alternatives such as solar for pumping and heating water.                                   

It is also reported that to reduce the amounts of greenhouse gases being released into the atmosphere, there is need for major restructuring of both industrialised and developing societies.This will entail shifting towards alternative energy sources such as solar energy. Zimbabwe’s warm,dry climate offers tremendous potential to exploit solar power for electricity generation and heating water in urban and rural households. It is also added that since the energy sector is the most responsible for emissions, Zimbabwe needs to find ways to generate power more cleanly and efficiently and adopt renewable energy solutions such as solar,wind and biogas energy.

 Tawanda Muzamwese, Business Council for Sustainable Development Zimbabwe (BCSDZ) Director applauded the initiative by ZETDC saying the development is in the right direction.  “Net metering will ensure that there is an incentive for people to invest in renewable energy. This will ultimately drive an upsurge in the uptake of renewable energy technologies,” Muzamwese said. BCSDZ promotes sustainable development initiatives within business and industry in Zimbabwe.

           

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Founders of Kobo360 Selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs
May 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

Fast-growing logistics platform joins the leading global entrepreneur support organisation

Obi Ozor & Ife Oyedele II - Kobo360 Co-founders
Obi Ozor & Ife Oyedele II – Kobo360 Co-founders

Endeavor has welcomed two new entrepreneurs into its global network. Obi Ozor and Ife Oyedele II, co-founders of Kobo360, were selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs on May 21, 2020. Kobo360 is a digital logistics platform that uses big data and agile technology to reduce friction and improve efficiency in the African logistics ecosystem.

Endeavor is a mission-oriented organisation that is leading the global movement for high-impact entrepreneurship. By helping entrepreneurs behind some of the world’s most exciting scale-up companies accelerate their companies’ growth, and by contributing to building strong entrepreneurship ecosystems in underserved markets like Nigeria, Endeavor is driving economic growth through entrepreneurship. Earlier this year, Endeavor also welcomed Daystar Power (a renewable energy company based in Nigeria and Ghana) and Migo (a financial technology platform operating in Nigeria and Brazil) into its network. 

Logistics in Nigeria continues to be a challenge. For many businesses, finding the proper truck operators for cargo is difficult and inefficient as they spend days negotiating with brokers, searching for trusted truck drivers, and pursuing updates on delivery. Kobo360 is solving this challenge for businesses by using its digital platform to match cargo-owners with truck owners, while providing real-time updates throughout the entire delivery process. The company also offers value-added services such as trip-financing, discounts on diesel, and insurance.

“We’re excited to welcome Kobo360 into Endeavor’s network which includes some of the world’s most exciting scale-up entrepreneurs and most experienced mentors and investors. Fixing Africa’s supply chain is clearly important for commerce on the continent, and Kobo360’s rapid growth over the past 3 years is evidence that the company’s valuable services are in critical demand. Obi and Ife are inspiring founders and their relentless focus on scaling Kobo360 serves as an inspiration to high-impact entrepreneurs everywhere”, said Eloho Gihan-Mbelu, the Managing Director & CEO of Endeavor in Nigeria.

Since launching in 2017, Kobo360 has surpassed several milestones, including a $30 million Series A in August 2019. “It’s an honour to be joining this global network of high-impact entrepreneurs and to have Endeavor recognise our efforts to transform Africa’s logistics sector using technology. As entrepreneurs, we wanted to turn African problems into African opportunities. Focusing on logistics, Ife and I started Kobo360 to not only fix the inefficiencies that exist, but to build opportunities for the businesses we serve and most importantly, the hundreds of thousands of truck drivers across Africa. This is a fundamental milestone in Kobo360’s journey; our Global Logistics Operating System [GLOS] will revolutionize supply chain across emerging markets and with Endeavor’s support, we’re able to make invaluable global connections that could be leveraged for our expansion and growth”, said Obi Ozor, Co-founder & CEO of Kobo360.

Obi Ozor and Ife Oyedele II were successfully selected as part of a cohort of 10 entrepreneurs from five markets. With the recent addition of Kobo360, Endeavor Nigeria now supports 16 entrepreneurs who lead 10 scale-up stage companies in Nigeria, spanning fintech, renewable energy, entertainment, logistics and retail. 

Established in 1997, Endeavor is a mission-driven, global organization leading the high-impact entrepreneurship movement. Endeavor was founded on the belief that job creation, innovation, and overall prosperity flourish where there is robust support for high-impact entrepreneurs. To date, Endeavor has screened more than 60,000 entrepreneurs and selected more than 2,000 founders leading over 1,200 scale-up companies. Endeavor Entrepreneurs have created over 3 million jobs, generate more than $20 billion in revenue each year, and inspire future generations to innovate, take risks, and build strong entrepreneurship ecosystems in underserved markets. Headquartered in New York City, Endeavor currently operates in nearly 40 growth markets throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, and North America.

Endeavor launched its Nigeria office in 2018, to select and support the best founders of companies at

the scale-up stage, who have potential to leverage Endeavor’s global resources, mentors and network to create large-scale wealth and jobs. Endeavor Entrepreneurs are committed to multiplying their impact by reinvesting their time and money to help others in Nigeria’s ecosystem take off. Today, in Nigeria, Endeavor supports 16 Endeavor Entrepreneurs leading 10 companies


Kobo360 is a digital logistics platform that aggregates end-to-end haulage operations to help cargo owners, truck owners and drivers, and cargo recipients to achieve an efficient supply chain framework. Developing an all-in-one logistics ecosystem, Kobo360 leverages data and technology to reduce logistics frictions. Kobo360 enables unprecedented efficiency and cost reduction in the supply chain, providing 360-visibility while delivering products of all sizes safely, on time and in full.

The Kobo360 mission is to build the Global Logistics Operating System that will power trade and commerce across Africa and emerging markets. With operations across West and East Africa, Kobo360 is one of the fastest growing tech start-ups out of Africa.

About the Founders

Obi Ozor is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kobo360. With over seven years of logistics and supply chain experience, he manages all key aspects of Kobo360 including operations, controlling investments, compliance risk management and product growth. Obi completed his Biochemistry degree at the University of Michigan before graduating from the Wharton School of Business. After completing his studies, Obi worked at J.P. Morgan as an Investment Banker before becoming the Operations Coordinator at Uber Nigeria. In 2016, he left Uber alongside Ife Oyedele II to launch Kobo360, the digital logistics platform. 

Ife Oyedele II is the Co-Founder & Chief Growth Officer of Kobo360. He has worked in various capacities with several global brands including Mercedes Benz, Financial Services and the CFI Group USA LLC. In 2016, he combined forces with business partner Obi Ozor to launch the asset free logistics startup ‘Kobo360’. He is passionate about incubating and developing innovative IT customer solutions. Oyedele oversees the growth and expansion of the Kobo360 platform across Africa. He was previously the Chief Technology Officer overseeing Technology Innovation & Product Development.   


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Mozambique reports first death from Covid-19
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos

Mozambique has registered its first death from covid-19, health authorities announced on monday. The victim was a 13-year-old child whose sample was collected on May 20 in the city of Nampula, northern province of Mozambique. She was hospitalised three months ago for other reasons and after having fever and a cough on May 20, she returned to the health centre, where she would die from Covid-19.

The deceased girl is one of 15 new cases announced yesterday, of which eight are children under 14. four are in Cabo Delgado, of which one is in Palma and two in Pemba; two are in Beira; two are in Nampula; two in Maputo City; one in Maputo Province; two in Manjacaze, Gaza; and one in Changara, Tete.

The Covid-19 pandemic is clearly in the stage of community transmission, at least in some parts of Mozambique, as more than two dozen positive cases were diagnosed for the first time in a single day, triggering a cumulative total of 209 infected in the country.

This leaves President Filipe Nyusi with few options regarding the measures to contain the pandemic in Mozambique that has been living under State of Emergency regulations since April 1st, extended until the end of May. Leisure facilities are closed and all meetings banned, and the public urged to stay at home wherever possible.

Public transport capacity is capped, the use of masks in public is mandatory, schools are closed and the issuing of entry visas to the country has been suspended.

On monday the Ministry of Health, through the Mozambique Medical Emergencies Service (SEMMO) has set up a telephone exchange in Maputo specifically to receive calls about the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initiative seeks to reduce the number of people going in person to the health units because they suspect they may have Covid-19. The health professionals answering the phones will provide information and guidance about the symptoms of Covid-19.

jorgedossantosmz@gmail.com

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Open call for Nominations: Growth Stage Impact Venture for the SDGs
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

UNDP teams up with EPFL, Orange and SAP to pick top 12 entrepreneurs to change the landscape of health, energy and waste management in developing countries.

Geneva, 26 May 2020 – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Orange and SAP launch the second edition of the Growth Stage Impact Ventures (GSIV) for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) initiative; aimed at identifying and showcasing mature impact ventures in emerging countries with the catalytic potential to drive both large impact and yield sustainable profit.

The top 12 nominated entrepreneurs will be invited to pitch their products and solutions at the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, scheduled to take place in the first quarter of 2021 during the Building Bridges Week and will get support to access strategic partners to scale up their venture.

The 2020 the Call for Nominations only accepts Post Series A impact ventures providing products and services which reduce inequalities (with particular attention to gender inequalities) by providing solutions that empower people at the bottom of the pyramid to access to quality health, affordable and clean energy, and by reducing and recovering waste. Only ventures with headquarters, primary workforce and service provision or product market in developing countries can be eligible for the selection. 

“We are delighted to support UNDP in its focus  on impact ventures that address the SDGs. Contrary to the multitude of awards and competitions targeting early stage start-ups, companies invited to GSIV have the potential to bring about rapid and positive change at scale, targeting in particular the bottom of the pyramid,” said Julia Binder, Project Leader of EPFL Tech4Impact.

UNDP calls for third parties (accelerators, impact funds, family offices, international organizations, etc.) to nominate from their own pipelines, up to 3 entrepreneurs which meet the eligibility criteria. Self nomination is not be accepted. The call will remain open till July 15th.

“The GSIV is a fantastic vehicle to identify top entrepreneurs with solid business models and impact track records from across the developing world. Finalists demonstrate the business case for the SDGs, even in the most difficult contexts and in sectors that are traditionally publicly funded. In a post Covid19 world in which investments decrease, supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries is a priority”, noted Sarah Bel, Manager of UNDP SDG Finance Geneva Summit.

A first screening of nominees will be carried out by EPFL  to shortlist  the top 20 enterprises. Finalists will then be reviewed by technical experts, investors and UN officials to select the top 12 finalists, who will attend the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, in 2021.

In 2019, 76 third-parties submitted 119 proposals from 40 developing countries. Eighty-five percent of the nominated ventures had raised at least half a million dollars at the time of nomination, and closed their Series A. All 12 finalists were mid-sized, with an average of up to 50 employees, annual revenue of over US$3 million, and with a cumulative impact on more than 15 million lives through their products and services. Full profiles are available here.

“As a corporate venture capital investor, it has been very exciting to be part of this selection process that puts the spotlight on active ventures which deliver social and environmental impact across their countries. The quality of the applications in 2019 is a great sign of hope with regard to this new generation of entrepreneurs”, added Gregoire de Padirac, Investment Manager, Orange Digital Ventures.

Each venture will be invited to attend a a preparatory workshop and to participate in the SDG Finance Geneva Summit, where they will have the opportunity to pitch to potential partners including investors, large corporates and international organizations.

The GSIV selection takes place within the framework of the SDG Finance Geneva Summit. The broader objective of the summit is to promote SDG aligned investments, showcasing emerging market examples of businesses that do well by doing good. By bringing together the unique ecosystem of development professionals, investors, development finance institutions, academia and entrepreneurs, UNDP aims to catalyze a shift of capital from mainstream finance to impact investing with a focus on addressing the SDGs.

UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.

 EPFL is one of Europe’s most vibrant and cosmopolitan science and technology institutions, located in Lausanne on the shores of Lake Geneva. Tech4Impact is EPFL’s sustainable impact initiative and the key instrument for enhancing the University’s social and environmental impact in research, innovation and entrepreneurship.

SAP is the world’s largest provider of  enterprise application software, serving more than 437,000 customers in more than 180 countries. SAP’s purpose it to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. With courage, perseverance, and breakthrough technology, SAP customers are tackling some of the world’s biggest challenges.

The SAP Next-Gen program is a purpose driven innovation university and community for the SAP ecosystem enabling companies, partners and universities to connect and innovate with purpose linked to the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

Orange is one of the world’s leading telecommunications operators with sales of 41 billion euros in 2018 and 149,000 employees worldwide at 31 March 2019, including 90,000 employees in France. The Group has a total customer base of 264 million customers worldwide at 31 March 2019, including 204 million mobile customers and 20 million fixed broadband customers. The Group is present in 27 countries. Orange is also a leading provider of global IT and telecommunication services to multinational companies, under the brand Orange Business Services. In March 2015, the Group presented its new strategic plan “Essentials2020” which places customer experience at the heart of its strategy with the aim of allowing them to benefit fully from the digital universe and the power of its new generation networks.

For additional information, please contact:

Ms Laura Eboa Songue, Communication Consultant, Email: laura.eboa@undp.org
Ms. Sarah Bel, Communications Specialist, Email: sarah.bel@undp.org

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South Sudan: “City of darkness” no longer, African Development Bank supported electricity project lights up capital
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Araya Hizkias, the owner of a water bottling company in South Sudan’s capital Juba, used to rely on a diesel generator to keep his business going, which gobbled into his profits each month.

But now a city-wide power grid is emerging for the first time, lighting up Juba and promoting security, and transforming lives and businesses.

Implementation of the African Development Bank’s $38 million Juba Power Distribution System Rehabilitation and Expansion Project is  almost completed in the city, Juba, which hasn’t had a stable and reliable electricity supply since South Sudan’s independence in 2011 and has always suffered from regular blackouts.

“Our company used to rely on a 1,500kVA  generator and spent an average of $75 a day on diesel. We bought 45,000 litres of diesel monthly, said Hizkias, the owner of the Juba-based Aquana Water Company.

“Now we rely on public electricity brought to us by this new network. We don’t experience random damages to our machines anymore and things are working easier. We are making more savings and expanding production.”

The Bank and the South Sudan government partially commissioned the power distribution network in November 2019. It has since helped to restore electricity supply in the Central Business District of Juba. Street lamps light up most thoroughfares to ease movement of traffic and pedestrians and  help prevent crime.

Of the 20,000 “last-mile” domestic and commercial consumers targeted in the project,  about 6,131 have so far been connected to the grid.

“We used to light candles and other alternate energy sources. Most people who could afford them, owned generators. The disturbing noise of generators could be heard from many homes and business. We now have enough power for our appliances and businesses have picked up,” said Adak Costa Mapuor, a middle-aged woman who moved to the city in 2006.

The project is funded through a combination of a grant from the African Development Fund (ADF), the concessional financing window of the Bank, and a concessional loan from the ADF-administered Transition Support Facility.It has lit up government offices, hotels, and factories and helped to power public services such as water, health and educational institutions.

“It was an embarrassment for Juba, the seat of government, not to have reliable electricity. Juba was once referred to as the city of darkness. This project has changed that and given the city a facelift. The network is reaching the common people, and it has improved small businesses and rejuvenated commercial activities,” said Jacob Deng, Director General, Planning  and Projects at the South Sudan Electricity Corporation.

 “It has also improved security,” he added. “Many businesses now stay open till late as a result of improved security. This is one of the best projects in the country.”

The project is due to be completed at the end of  2020 and will consist of a 145 km medium voltage distribution line and a 250 km low voltage distribution line with 145 new transformers installed. At least a total of 20,000 domestic and commercial consumers will be connected, with access to five new customer service centres.

“The electricity supply situation in Juba was very bad. It comprised a small grid of 6 MW covering parts of Juba. Demand was very high. Things are better now, covering more households. Work is still ongoing, but those connected so far are very happy,” said Michael Wani Aringo, a project engineer who has lived in the city for 10 years.

The Juba Power Distribution System Rehabilitation and Expansion Project is the Bank’s first energy operation in South Sudan and follows years of conflict in the country. The rehabilitation of the electricity sector will unlock economic potential to spur growth and development. The upgrade of the network will gradually be rolled out to other cities and eventually connected to neighbouring countries.

*AFDB

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Kenya: €188m African Development Bank loan to boost COVID-19 response
May 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and AfDB President Dr. Adesina Akinwumi at the 51st Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank
The loan will extend additional resources to Kenya as the country takes steps to contain the spread of the pandemic and deal with its unprecedented impact

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank today approved an €188 million loan to support the Government of Kenya’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate the related economic, health and social impacts.

The loan will extend additional resources to Kenya as the country takes steps to contain the spread of the pandemic and deal with its unprecedented impact. It follows a request by the Government of Kenya, as part of its COVID-19 Emergency Response intervention, to help contain the scourge.

The Bank’s support will strengthen the national health system to effectively respond to the pandemic, build economic resilience and ensure quick recovery. The Bank’s intervention will also be used to support the poor and vulnerable people who have been negatively affected by the pandemic.

“We are very pleased to join other development partners in supporting the Government of Kenya’s efforts in mitigating the financial impact of the pandemic, especially in terms of the country’s expenditure in the health, social and economic sectors. The next step will focus on helping build resilience for post COVID-19,” the Bank’s Acting Director General for East Africa, Nnenna Nwabufo, noted.

Since Kenya’s first  COVID-19 infection was confirmed on 12 March 2020, cases have risen to over 1,000, while the number of recoveries and deaths are 375 and 50, respectively, as of 22 May 2020. The pandemic is placing significant pressure on an already stretched healthcare system. It has disrupted supply chains and caused job losses in the tourism, hospitality, horticulture and airline industries, among others.

In addition, informal and self-employed workers have also lost their livelihoods due to the impact of the pandemic.

The government’s response to the pandemic has been swift and multi-faceted, covering a range of measures including health-related containment measures, protection of the poor and vulnerable, provision of support to local businesses and to sustaining jobs. The Bank’s intervention, through the COVID-19 Emergency Response Support Program, is designed to support these measures.

As a result of demand and supply shocks, Kenya’s real GDP growth is projected to fall to between 0.6 and 1.4 percent from the initial 2020 projection of 6 percent.

In April, the Bank extended an emergency grant to help countries in the East and Horn of Africa, including Kenya, that are contending with swarms of locusts that are threatening food security. Kenya is facing its worst swarms in 70 years. In Ethiopia and Somalia, the outbreak is the worst in 25 years.

*AFDB
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