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Zimbabwe to implement sustainable food systems transformation mechanisms as per UN obligations.
June 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Dr Anxious Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement

Zimbabwe has initiated processes to implement sustainable food systems transformation mechanisms according to United Nations obligations.

  On 3 June, 2021, the country held its first stage food system national summit dialogue convened by the ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement with support from the Food and Agriculture Organization   and the United Nations Development Programme.

 According to Clemence Bwenje, National Curator for the initiative under the ministry of Agriculture, following the first national dialogue, the country will also hold provincial level dialogues followed by a final validation of the programme.

  According to Dr Anxious Masuka, Minister of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement the  national food system dialogue was held under the  theme:  “Transforming Production and Food Systems in Zimbabwe”.

 Dr Masuka said that this is the first of three national food systems dialogues that will be hosted in Zimbabwe.

 He said that thes United Nations Food Systems Dialogue Summit  approach was adopted to enable systematic and inclusive opportunities for stakeholders to be engaged in food systems.

 “The approach enables participants to contribute to the summit by building on efforts already underway, working together on pathways that lead to sustainable food systems, and setting out intentions and commitments for development,” he said.

  It is reported that in the run-up to the UN Secretary-General’s Food Systems Summit 2021 to be held in September, UN Member States are expected to focus on how their national food systems can, in the coming decade, align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

  According to Dr Masuka, the national food systems dialogues are a critical element of the summit preparatory process because they encourage analyses, explorations and solutions that are context-specific.

  He added that recognizing that the success of the food systems summit depends on the engagement of citizens all over the world, the United Nations has invited member states to convene a national ‘three-stage’ dialogue process that involves the participation of a broad base of stakeholders.

  The three stages are stage one involving  the initiation stage which involves the exploration of national food systems.

  These also involve identification of issues affecting food systems and present existing national plans for sustainable food systems. An analysis of the current state of national food systems, including their purpose, the way they function, their potential as well as vulnerabilities will be explored.

Stage two  is the extensive exploration phase and the purpose of this stage is to create an opportunity for engagement among an even broader set of stakeholders through sub-national level or provincial level dialogues. This stage will identify promising approaches and potential commitments as contributions to the development of national pathways especially in the face of devolution.

  Stage threeis the final dialogue at national level and it gives pathways, intentions and commitments.

  This stage is for national authorities and stakeholder leaders to exchange views about the pathways towards sustainable national food systems by 2030 and to identify the intentions and commitments of different actors.

  It is reported that at this stage, participants will consolidate outputs from the previous dialogues and agree on issues where consensus exists, identify issues where further dialogue could be fruitful and set out the issues that reflect unresolvable differences. Dialogue participants will explore options for contributing to the national pathways for sustainable food systems.

 The minister said that Zimbabwe has communicated to the United Nations its intention to contribute to the food systems summit by convening dialogues at national and sub-national levels by organizing the local event.

  The food systems summit dialogues are reported to give an opportunity for key players in agriculture and other sectors that contribute to attainment of sustainable food system to discuss the challenges, opportunities and way forward in building and strengthening food systems in Zimbabwe.

It has been added that after the national food systems dialogues have been concluded, the findings and resolutions from the dialogues will be shared with the world at the milestone UN Food Systems Summit.  The findings will also feed into the pre-Summit meeting in Rome on the end of July 2021 and the final global Food Systems Summit in New York in September 2021, during the High-Level Week of the United Nations General Assembly.

 The minister added that the dialogues are coming at a time when the nation is grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic which in some way has also contributed to the disruption of the food systems in Zimbabwe.

  He said that this disruption in global value chains for supply have also given opportunity for localization of production for which Zimbabwe has taken advantage of as seen from the bumper harvest of 2020 season.

  He added that bringing together a diversity of stakeholders will provide an important opportunity for participants to debate, collaborate and take action towards a better future.

 He said that the dialogues will contribute towards ensuring access to safe and nutritious food for all, shift to sustainable consumption patterns, boost nature-positive production, advance equitable livelihoods and building resilience to vulnerabilities, shocks and stress.

 He added that although the emphasis is on food systems, in Zimbabwe the theme is relevant and appropriate because the country has faced perennial food insecurity as a result of inadequate production occasioned by drought and low productivity.

 “Therefore, in the context of this dialogue, Zimbabwe has an opportunity to shape both the production systems and food systems. We need to focus on transforming production systems. In this regard, we should focus on the progress, priorities, concerns and challenges in selected value chains. We should also understand that the land reform process has reshaped the agricultural landscape spurring local economies that could be engines for land transformation and industrialization for the Vision 2030,” Dr Masuka said.

  He added that it is, therefore, appropriate that the Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation strategy (2020-2025) focuses on the Agriculture Recovery Plan, Horticulture Revitalization and Recovery Plan, Livestock Growth Plan, Accelerated Irrigation Revitalization and Growth Plan and the Agricultural Information Management Systems.

The Agriculture and Food Systems Transformation Strategy is for reviving, restructuring, reforming, rebuilding and transforming agriculture from a USD5.2 billion sector to USD 8.2 billion constituting up to 20% of national GDP by 2025 and anchoring Vision 2030. 

“I urge you to critically review and analyse the current agriculture production and food systems and lay a solid foundation for a national and inclusive consultation process,” Dr Masuka urged delegates.

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Kenya receives 18 motorcycles from German government.
June 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

The fight against terrorism in Kenya received a massive boost on Tuesday after the German government donated eighteen motorcycles to the Directorate Criminal of Investigations (DCI) Anti-Terror Police Unit (ATU).

DCI boss George Kinoti received the motorcycles from the German Ambassador to Kenya Annett Guenther.

Out of the eighteen, four are the latest German multinational corporation BMW model, while the rest are Kibo K150. The motorcycles are worth ksh14.5 million ($145,000).

Kinoti said the motorcycles would be deployed in Kenya’s hotspot areas, including the Northeastern and coastal regions. He stated that they would improve the ATPU’s response to security threats.

“We can now respond in the most efficient manner as per the global standards to any security incident within Nairobi,” said Mr. Kinoti.

The DCI boss added that the country would continue to acquire the best fighting tools due to the changing trends of crime and terrorism.

On her side, Ambassador Gunther said there is a need to invest in security given the emergence of cross-border crime.

“While increased globalisation allows increased flow of goods, it also allows criminals to move from one country to the other,” she noted.

In January this year, Kenya also received an assortment of forensic investigations equipment from the Federal Republic of Germany worth ksh27 million ($270,000).

The equipment included specialized crime investigation kits and dozens of video & photographic cameras with accessories.

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IFC and The Rockefeller Foundation partner to advance distributed renewable energy solutions in emerging markets.
June 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

  • RF’s contribution of up to $150 million aims to de-risk up to $2 billion of private sector investments in distributed renewable energy.
  • Both organizations will rapidly deploy an initial contribution of $30 million of the $150 million to leverage an active pipeline of projects.
  • The collaboration will prioritize countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 70% of households are unelectrified.
  • The partnerships will leverage IFC’s expertise in creating markets and pipeline development in developing countries to increase the scale of private investments into distributed renewable energy.

Washington, D.C., June 16, 2021 – The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, and The Rockefeller Foundation (RF) today announced a new partnership that aims to deploy $150 million of RF’s catalytic capital in blended finance to mobilize up to $2 billion of private sector investment in distributed renewable energy solutions.

The partnership will prioritize countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and select other regions, where both organizations have identified immediate opportunities. Ultimately, the list of countries where this partnership will deploy will be broadened during implementation.

By blending philanthropic and private investment funding, the Rockefeller Foundation and IFC will de-risk capital investment in distributed renewable projects in emerging markets and help to address global energy access needs.

An initial “rapid deployment” phase will distribute $30 million in blended concessional finance and grant capital to leverage an active pipeline of distributed renewable energy projects developed by IFC. The funding will go toward IFC’s prototype scaling mini-grid program in addition to distributed renewable energy generation, battery energy storage, and other innovative clean energy technologies to facilitate access.

Several of these components are part of IFC’s Upstream practice, which aims to create markets in the most challenging environments and lays the foundation for future investment projects. The work includes technical assistance, targeted feasibility studies, and cost-sharing support to private sector clients and governments.

The Rockefeller Foundation President, Dr. Rajiv J. Shah said: “Investing in renewable energy infrastructure in communities that have not had access to reliable power will ensure that the recovery from the Covid-19 crisis is both green and equitable. The landscape of energy technologies we are investing in will make it possible for every person on the planet to have totally reliable, productive electrification.

Dr. Shah added: “The best partnerships are informed by a common goal and an experience of learning together so by combining the expertise and resources of The Rockefeller Foundation with the global footprint of the IFC, we are demonstrating the power of partnerships to deliver real impact.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted progress on achieving clean energy for all, with the number of those lacking electricity in Africa rising to more than 590 million people in 2020, an increase of 13 million people, or 2%, from last year, according to analysis in the World Energy Outlook 2020.

IFC Managing Director Makhtar Diop said,“The climate challenge at its core is an energy challenge. The twin goals of improving energy access and addressing climate change both require our urgent attention but can’t be achieved with public resources alone. The private sector can and must be part of the solution if the scale of our results is to meet the scale of our ambitions.”

Mr. Diop continued, “This partnership could not be better aligned with our business, our priorities, or our shared values as we work to build a sustainable recovery. In the months and years ahead, there is terrific opportunity to make positive change together and I am thrilled to be part of this inaugural step.”

IFC is the leading financier of low-cost renewable energy, having funded projects with a generation capacity of approximately 8 GW in hydropower, 6 GW in solar energy, and 5 GW in wind energy. Through its energy practice, IFC supports the growth of wind and solar energy, deployment of offshore wind, battery storage, distributed generation, electric vehicles, and green shipping in emerging markets, among other technologies.

This collaboration between the IFC, which is the largest global development institution focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries, and The Rockefeller Foundation, a globally renowned philanthropic organization with a decade of expertise in the distributed renewable energy sector, is part of both organizations’ commitment to ending energy poverty and delivering reliable, sustainable power to millions across the world. Together, The Rockefeller Foundation and IFC will be able to mitigate risk and aim to invest towards high impact projects in challenging sectors and countries.

The Rockefeller Foundation

The Rockefeller Foundation is a pioneering philanthropy built on collaborative partnerships at the frontiers of science, technology, and innovation, scaling renewable energy for all, stimulating economic mobility, ensuring equitable access to health and nutritious food, unleashing human potential to enable individuals, families, and communities to flourish. We work to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal.
 

 
About International Finance Corporation

IFC—a member of the World Bank Group—is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. We work in more than 100 countries, using our capital, expertise, and influence to create markets and opportunities in developing countries. In fiscal year 2020, we invested $22 billion in private companies and financial institutions in developing countries, leveraging the power of the private sector to end extreme poverty and boost shared prosperity. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

*Source IFC

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AFRICA’S POST-COVID ECONOMY SHOULD PIVOT TO DEVELOPING ITS BIO-ECONOMY
June 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Dr Eddy C. Agbo & Gaèlle A. Mbalula *

Dr Eddy C. Agbo

The COVID-19 pandemic brought compelling impact on employers and employees. Several companies are forced to rethink their operations in ways unimagined before the pandemic. In the US, for example, no one thought that toll collection companies could move toll collection to full automated at toll gates, that schools could discard their office printers, and that so many companies would cancel office leases and operate entirely remotely, with clawback effects on job losses and insecurities among employees and ancillary industries. The reality is: we’re seeing a shift in work as we know it, so we must look differently at work.

Transformation of work is usually driven by technology (as we saw with the industrial revolution), or monumentous acts of nature as was wrought by COVID-19 pandemic.
There is another side to this. Though the health toll of COVID-19 on the African continent was much less severe than other regions, the economic impact is more dire than any region. Essentially, Africa dodged the heavy health toll of COVID-19 seen in other regions, and this frightens the hell out of us because of the “what if” question: what if Africa was not spared and experienced similar heavy death toll visited on other regions? What if Africa is not this lucky the next time?

There’s probably no one cap fits all for all regions, or even for countries within a region; interventions must be customized. Therefore, Africa, for example, needs to develop its bio-economy through a dedicated effort to harness her highly skilled workers toward appropriate biotechnology solutions. Africa’s dependence on donated COVID-19 vaccine must enable a deeper reflection about the need to develop appropriate capacities, particularly through investments in developing its bio-economy. African governments, entrepreneurs and friends of Africa can no longer wait ‘for the environment to be right; we must now make the investments in translational biomedical research to aid future response to healthcare emergencies. Bio-economy is robust, resilient and, as COVID-19 has shown, always the “super hero” in moments of emergencies. It is expedient for Africa to harness highly trained biomedical scientists and bio-entrepreneurs to anchor its bio-econony as a home-driven fulcrum for it sustainable development efforts.

*LinkedIn

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The ECOWAS Commission Forum is back in September.
June 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

The 3rd ECOWAS Mining & Petroleum Forum will happen in Niamey, Republic of Niger, on 14 – 16 September 2021  

The city of Niamey, in Niger, will be the main stage of ECOMOF 2021 – the 3rd ECOWAS Mining & Petroleum Forum and Exhibition, taking place on 14 – 16 September 2021, at the Radisson Blu Hotel & Conference Center, Niamey. Under the theme “Integrating the Mining and Petroleum Industries in the development of Regional Value Chains”, the 3rd edition of ECOMOF is organised by the ECOWAS Commission, the Government of the Republic of Niger and AME Trade.

The event is one of the largest mining events in West Africa and brings together the highest-ranking government delegations from the fifteen ECOWAS West African Member States which includes: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. The last edition of the event happened in 2018 in Cote d’Ivoire and welcomed 2000+ visitors, 550+ participants, 51 speakers and 59 exhibitors from 29 countries. 

Why Niger in 2021?

Niger’s economy is rapidly developing as the GDP growth was estimated at 6.2% in 2019 and is expected to rise 6.5% in 2020. Niger’s economy is in strong growing development as it aims to diversify the mineral production, extend its investor base, develop infrastructures and place the country as a friendly market for investments in Mining and Petroleum. ECOMOF 2021 is the first international mining event in the country and represents a unique opportunity to seal new business deals.

ECOMOF New Features

The 2021 edition include a 3-day conference, a pre-conference training, a co-located trade exhibition, a packed social and networking programme and a post-event industry and socio-cultural tours. ECOMOF 2021 also brings new features such as: a B2B area with a new meeting mobile application and the ECOWAS mining data room to present new projects for investors.

The event gathers the key public and private sector decision makers in the West African mining and petroleum industries. The delegates attending ECOMOF 2021 will have the unique opportunity to: Gain knowledge by attending a variety of conference sessions, workshops and roundtables, with industry experts; Develop their Network as ECOMOF creates a favourable environment to B2B development; Access in first hand the latest technologies, products and services for the mining and petroleum sectors in West Africa; Have the unique opportunity of showcase their products and services at a regional levelStrengthen and develop new linkages between all sections of the mining and petroleum supply chain.

ECOMOF 2021 conference will promote and develop the mining and oil potentials of Member states; Ensure the socio-economic integration of the West African region; Harmonise legal, regulatory and taxation instruments; catalyse and develop artisanal and small-scale mining; Establish, develop and organize geological, mining and oil databases for Member States; Develop human resources and create a network of experts; Use the mining and petroleum industries to develop community infrastructure; Add value to mining and petroleum products and strengthen trade in these products; Promote corporate social responsibility and increase stakeholders’ awareness of the development issues of their local communities. 

The 2021 participants can join ECOMOF 2021 as Delegate, Sponsor, Exhibitor and Speaker, by registering via https://ametrade.org/event/ecomof-2021/ or by email ecomof@ametrad

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Kenya power launches customer self-service portal
June 21, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenya Power and Lightening Company Ltd (KPLC) has officially unveiled a customer self-service portal for new connections.

The new development will help customers apply for electricity connection at their comfort in their homes without traveling.

Customers will be required to use Kenya Power’s mobile phone App ‘My Power’ to apply for electricity or visit https://selfservice.kplc.co.ke/ using a computer or a mobile phone.

They will be required to submit land/property ownership documents, ID cards, and PIN certificates through the portal during the application.

Once the application process is complete, customers will get a reference number instantaneously that they can use to proactively query and track their application status via USSD code *977#.

Customers will also receive text messages from the company updating them whenever their applications move to the next stage.

“The portal is in line with one of the company’s core strategic pillars of enhancing customer experience aimed at making services more accessible to customers. The convenient application process will also help drive sales, which is among the key pillars of our turnaround strategy,” said Kenya Power Managing Director Bernard Ngugi.

According to the company, the self-service portal is set to help eliminate instances of customers falling prey to fraudsters who ask them to pay for application forms or claim they can assist customers in applying for power at a fee. Electricity application in Kenya is free of charge.

Reporting power outages, carrying out prepaid token purchase queries, submitting meter readings to get actual monthly bills for post-paid customers will also be through the portal.

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South Sudan President Kiir Warns of Environment Degradation
June 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
President Kiir

By Deng Machol

Juba – South Sudan President Salva Kiir has admitted the East Africa’s youngest nation’s environment is degrading at a rapid rate. 

Speaking at a belated World Environment Day celebration on Thursday in Juba, President Kiir says some human activities in the country are causing one of the most worrying environmental degradation.  
The World Environment Day is celebrated annually on June 5 to create awareness and action to preserve the environment, under the theme is: “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore” and its focal point is ecosystem restoration.

“I can sadly admit that our Environment is degrading at a rapid rate”, said Kiir. “This environmental degradation comes partly from human activities such as charcoal burning, other contributing factors include disregard from the public about the proper waste disposal methods”, he said. 

On the same event, Ms. Josephine Napwon, minister of the environment said armed groups are also to blame for deforestation; decried illegal logging of trees by armed groups.
“All the groups that rebelled against the government use the forest to generate income to support the rebellion,” said Napwon.

Following 2013 war, it is not only human who have been displaced in South Sudan, Kiir says animals are also fleeing the country in large numbers into neighbouring countries because of the environment is no longer safe for them. 

“Even animals that were staying in our forests are now disappearing and this is not good”, said Kiir. “Let us protect our animals, forests, let us protect our environment. This is the only way.”
Plastic bottles harming Nile ecosystem. President Kiir used the occasion to also rebuke disposal of waste such as plastic bottles into the Nile. 

“For those of you who had a chance to sit along the River Nile, you would have seen massive plastic bottles floating in the River. These plastic bottles waste poses a serious harm to River Nile ecosystem especially upstream including the Sudd mud land, he said”.

President Kiir stressed that the Nile is a source of South Sudan’s livelihood and calls upon the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to work closely with the Juba City Council to address the issue of waste disposal into the Nile.  
“Please use all administrative tools at your disposal to address this issue of plastic bottles and other waste in the Nile once and for all”, Kiir ordered. 
Environment Audit

However, Minister Napwon further called upon president Kiir to put an end to the country’s oil companies “blockade” of the country’s pending environment and social audit
The Minister stated that the oil operating companies have often refused to allow her team to review their mode of operation and activities in the country.

“Your Excellency, we should not make money at the expense of the people,” Napwon told Kiir during the belated commemoration of World Environment Day. “These people are not adhering to the environmental aspects, especially in the oilfields.”

Napwon’s appeal comes nearly two months after she threatened to take legal action against oil companies over negligence to protect the oil-producing areas against pollution.
She urged President Kiir to assist her in compelling the oil companies to cooperate with the ministry of environment.

In April, the Minister of Petroleum launched the auditing of the oil firms. But so far, no reports have been made public.
Climate change is considered a long-term change in the average weather patterns.
She had also said the companies would lose their licenses if they did not protect the environment and people there.
There have been reports of oil spillage and deformed child-births, mostly in Ruweng Administrative Area.  The impact of climate change is being witnessed by the extreme heat, drought and insect outbreaks in South Sudan.

Major parts of the country witnessed serious flash floods in 2020 after months of drought.
The country has also witnessed locust invasion last year. This has reportedly resulted in nearly 8.3 million people being food insecure in fragile nation. 

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Veld fires an issue of national concern in Zimbabwe.
June 15, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Zimbabwe’s environmental authorities and other concerned stakeholders are intensifying efforts to eradicate incidences of sporadic veld fires which are now reported to have become an issue of national concern given their wanton destructive nature, according to Mangaliso Ndhlovu, Minister of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry at the recent 2021 national fire week launch, a few kilometres out of Harare.

 According to Ndhlovu, each year, the country loses over a million hectares of forests and grasslands depriving wildlife and livestock of pastures and leaving the country counting loses of property, crops and life.

 He said that the annual average burnt area from 2010 to 2020 was 1 million hectares.

  It is reported that an average of 60% of the total burnt area has been under the A1 and A2 resettlement areas established under the country’s land reform programme. 

  “Of the 18,000 A2 farmers, only about 400 have 99 year leases, which leases have specific clauses on environmental protection. This creates a possibility of massive information gap on the responsibilities of farmers in their properties,” Ndhlovu said.

 
 Every year, the second week of May in the country is set aside for education and awareness raising on the dangers associated with veld fires and  strategies for their prevention.

 It is added that statutorily, the veld fire season in Zimbabwe stretches from 31 July to 31 October each year.

 Ndhlovu said that what it basically means is that the veld fire season ends when the country receives the first effective rains to break the fire triangle, but the period has not differed significantly in reality despite the effects of climate change.

 According to the National Fire Management Strategy and Implementation Plan of 2006, the National Fire Week Launch is meant to raise awareness amongst communities on the need to prevent veld fires by undertaking pre-fire suppression measures such as fireguard construction, biomass reduction and early controlled burning.

 The theme for this 2021 national fire week commemorations is “Veld Fires and Food Security- Protect the harvest”, a theme with a focus towards revealing the nexus between veld fire management and sustaining food security. 

  “The country’s agricultural yield projection for the 2020/21 season indicates a bumper harvest, one of its kind in 37 years, which we should all celebrate and judiciously protect,” Ndhlovu said.

 He added that as the country celebrates the projection of a good national crop yield, citizens should be cognizant of the environmental factors which dominate   landscapes and it is not yet time to relax.   

 “We should therefore all work together to prevent catastrophic losses to our harvest from veld fires,” he said.

 The environment ministry says that it has already begun a comprehensive awareness programme with the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Resettlement through their Agritex extension services.

  It is reported that every farmer is expected to construct their fireguard in compliance with the laws of our country.

 The minister added that over the past 10 years veld fires have led to over 100 fire related deaths.

 “This is too big a figure to ignore. No life should be lost to veld fires because one life lost is one too many. Life is precious and hence we should thrive as a country to prevent loss of life,” he said.

 It is reported that the 2021 veld fire prediction undertaken by the Ministry through Environmental Management Agency (EMA), using biomass as indicated by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as a proxy for fuel load, and the previous fire behaviour as indicated by the burnt area in 2020, shows that the country is generally in the high risk (65.2%) to extreme risk (24.7%) to veld fires, compared to medium (43.3%) to high (23.1%) risk in 2020.

 It is added that following the heavy rains received, there is high biomass even in areas that traditionally have low biomas implying that, the  country is highly vulnerable to veld fires in the 2021 fire season. The Provinces at extreme risk are Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and Manicaland while the two Matabeleland Provinces, Midlands and Masvingo are this time around at high risk to veld fires.  

 “Given this background, l call upon all stakeholders to find a niche in the veld fire management strategy, especially landowners, occupiers, users and communities at large, as they remain key actors in veld fire prevention,” Ndhlovu said.

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Ghana-Nana Akufo- Addo unveils 500 waste trucks as government partners A private Company-Jospong
June 10, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

The President, Nana Akufo-Addo, has announced that the next phase of Ghana’s waste management is to convert trash to energy. He indicated this will add to Ghana’s energy capacity and also ensure the realization of clean Ghana agenda.

According to him, the government has provided an enabling environment through the Public Private Partnership to make this work. The President said the country currently generates some 7,517,540 metric tonnes of waste.

This situation, he said, presented enormous investment opportunities for which the private sector can take advantage of. He said he will therefore reiterate his invitation for more private sector companies to collaborate with government in creating business opportunities in the waste management space such as waste to energy, recycling and composting.

President Akufo-Addo maintained that rapid population growth with its consequent increase in human activities meant that waste management generation activities still continued to be a challenge in the country. In this regard, he underscored that the procurement of this additional fleet by Zoomlion will go a long way to address the waste management problems in the country.

President Akufo-Addo made the announcement during the unveiling of 100 state-of-the-art waste management trucks and 25 disinfection equipment secured by waste management company, Zoomlion Ghana Limited, at a brief and colorful unveiling ceremony at the Independence Square in Accra, on Tuesday.

The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Henry Quartey, said the unveiling of this fleet of waste trucks confirmed the need for the government to continue to engage with the private sector.

His pledge is to resolute commitment of the Regional Coordinating Council and all Metropolitan and Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to ensure these trucks are put to judicious use while strictly adhering to maintenance regimes for a longer life span.

Henry Quartey stressed that his ministry will continue to collaborate with Zoomlion and its affiliates and the Environmental Service Providers Association (ESPA) to provide quality service to the communities, especially with the Greater Accra Region.

However, he called on the citizenry to also play their role and avoid littering indiscriminately after the waste has been collected. “Accra can and must indeed work again. Every one of us has a role in achieving this,” the regional minister averred.

The Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Mrs. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, commended the President for his unwavering commitment to ensure that Ghana becomes the cleanest country in Africa.  She noted that, her Ministry has had some excellent working relations with stakeholders in the sanitation sector, thereby commending Zoomlion for its enormous role in the sector.

In a brief remark, the Executive Chairman of Jospong Group of Companies (JGC), Dr Joseph Siaw-Agyepong, disclosed that his outfit was unveiling 100 state-of-the-art trucks with modern technology and well-trained drivers to boost their already existing fleet.

He said this was part of a total consignment of five hundred (500) new waste trucks acquired by his group. “It is expected that the remaining trucks should arrive by the end of the third quarter of this year,”

Additionally, he revealed that JGC was on the verge of receiving over 5,000 motorized tricycles. These tricycles, he said, will be distributed across the country to support the haulage of solid waste in the cities and communities. He used the opportunity to announce that a new phase has been added to his company’s operations. “Our drivers have been taken through rigorous training on discipline, defensive driving and customer service to ensure that they deliver service at an optimum standard,” he said.

Dr Siaw-Agyepong thanked the Akufo-Addo administration for enabling the private sector to thrive and contribute to the social and economic development of the country.

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World food Safety day: how safe is your food?
June 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Foodborne diseases resulting from adulteration, contamination, mishandling and poor conditions under which food is prepared and served remains a public health threat in many countries and Ghana is no exception. Especially in an era where young Ghanaians aged between 15-45 years depend on street foods with males and single women dominating fast food sales points in urban Ghana.

Elizabeth Twum, a 23 year old who usually patronizes ‘Abena’ a popular fast food joints in Abelemkpe, Accra affirms, her work schedule as a sales person does not permit her to have time to prepare homemade meal. “I stay alone and I am a shop attendant I hardly get time to cook before and after work. Unfortunately, I stay far from where I work so if I get anything to quench my hunger I am good to go for the day; she stated.

Just like Elizabeth, many of Ghana’s working class is in this dilemma of having to work hard but eating anything that ‘quench hunger’ without recourse to health implications or safety. It is estimated that every one out of 40 persons in Ghana suffers foodborne illness. Also in a recent review, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has found that contamination and adulteration levels of food were very high in street food outlets in Ghana, and poor hygiene practices were often adopted, increasing the risk of developing foodborne diseases among the population.

As such, scientists are cautioning street food lovers to be weary of the dangers in eating at eateries outside home. As the over 250 foodborne diseases are of growing public health concern worldwide. Food scientist, Edward Essuman, Department of Dietetics, University of Allied Health Sciences Ho, says, over half of foodborne illnesses can be traced directly back to food handlers and improper hygiene and a few personal hygiene rules on the part of food handlers within the food value chain and a care look at this can help minimize food safety problems.  “The bigger picture of food safety is that it is incumbent on everyone, right from the production to the consumer, everyone has a role to play to ensure food safety”.

Available literature by Benjamin Osei Tutu et al at the Department of Food Safety Management, Food and Drugs Authority reveals that the Grater Accra Regional Hospital sees a seasonal peak of typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera and viral hepatitis at the beginning of every rainy season in Ghana. Warning that, the advent of chemical fertilizer application on farm produce to improved yields, pest control, and food additives to enhance food products and its preservations are causing more harm than good to human health.

Checks in recent review articles in Ghana have it that, the most common clinical presentation of foodborne disease takes the form of gastrointestinal symptoms where other systems of the body can also be affected and represents a considerable burden of disability as well as mortality. Thus experts are worried the non- availability of a sentinel site or surveillance system for foodborne diseases is making efforts to curb the trend challenging.

Although the Ghana Health Service together with its partners have attempted strengthening  community-based surveillance to facilitate early detection and rapid reporting of health events of all origins, augmenting efforts of government by individuals, private sector and member states, within the sub-region will help improve the situation. Meanwhile, recognizing the global burden of foodborne diseases, which affect individuals of all ages, in particular children under-5 and persons living in low-income countries United Nations General Assembly in 2018 proclaimed that every 7 June be marked World Food Safety Day. With a further adoption by the World Health Assembly in 2020 to strengthen efforts on food safety to reduce the burden of foodborne disease in collaboration with Member States and other relevant organizations.

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Food Safety; poisonous grasscutter endangers hundreds of lives in Africa.
June 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

In Ghana and other parts of West Africa, the greater cane rat popularly known as grasscutter is a highly patronized delicacy for many due to its great taste and protein content, but now researchers and scientists are warning that consuming grasscutter poisoned with either yellow oleander root power or carbofuran could be detrimental to human health.

Grasscutter is usually sold dried or fresh by hunters on highways and various markets in West Africa. The game animal is either killed by a gun or poisoned through baiting by hunters.  Researchers say the meat is consumed widely and is reported to have contributed to over 80% of animal protein consumed in some countries in Africa. The carcasses of the grasscutters is reported to have contributed about 75% by weight of game meat sales in “Kantamanto”- market in Accra, Ghana, for a period of 25 years.

Over the years, the high patronage of grasscutter meat resulted in the inclusion of grasscutter on the export trade of Ghana by the Ghana Export Promotion Council (GEPC) since 1974. In a recent survey to ascertain the level of animal protein consumption by the Ghanaian public indicated that 50 percent of Ghanaians prefer grasscutter to other game animals.

But the use of poisonous substances in hunting bushmeats does not only pose danger to the animals but also poses serious health problems to the unsuspecting public.

Published in Veterinary Medicine and Science journal Wiley in March 2020, by the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho in Ghana, the use of Furadan 3GR and carbofuran in capturing grasscutter causes abdominal pain and blur vision in humans. The paper which surveyed 200 hunters saw 55 per cent of them confirming the usage of these poisonous baits in hunting game animals due to scarcity of wild animals as a result of deforestation of many natural habitations.

Speaking to Edward Essuman a food scientist at the University of Health and Allied Sciences in Ho and a co-author of the paper, says these chemicals used in catching bush meats are endangering many lives especially the section of the public that eat in “chop bars” – eateries outside home.  “No amount of heat applied to these chemicals can reduced the level of potency of the chemical used in trapping the meat” he stated.

Checks from some local eateries in Accra to ascertain consumers level of knowledge on safety of what they consume almost daily, reveals most of them do eat the game because of its great taste and protein content. “I eat grasscutter because of the great taste and protein content. I don’t have any idea about how it is trapped” Marvin Oduro asserts, as he had just finished eating some.

Anthony Azaglo, a grasscutter farmer at Somanya,- a suburb of Eastern Region of Ghana says, the use of poison in capturing game animals is rife in rural Ghana because  the public have less knowledge about the trends of hunting. Adding, the primitive methods are not fetching the desired results the hunters’ wants as the depletion of the country’s forest covers continued. For him, many grasscutter lovers who are cautious on their health will prefer buying from the farmers themselves for consumption.

Available literature by opara et tal in 2010, suggests some local market in Ghana had about 73 tons of grasscutter meat sold within a year. Indicating, a ‘mad rush’ for the game although many consumers of grass cutter are falling prey to food poisons but could not relate it to the exact food that contained the harmful substances.

Reginald Annan a lecturer in Nutrition at the department of biochemistry and biotechnology, collage of sciences, Kwame Nkrumah University of science and Technology in Kumasi, says the game meat aside its high protein content also serves as a source of income for many rural dwellers. Hence, to protect the contribution made by bushmeat to the human diets and also reduce poverty and malnutrition in rural areas, rigorous education must be done to curb unscrupulous methods of meat hunting.  “To step up the production of some non-traditional animals such as grasscutters due to its high patronage as a delicacy and contribution to the rural folks more education need to be done”.

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Merck Foundation and African First Ladies announce “More Than a Mother” Africa Song Awards 2021 to support girl education.
June 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

In partnership with African First Ladies, other awards have also been announced such as; ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Film Awards, Fashion Awards and Media Recognition Awards.

Merck Foundation , the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany introduced their new award, the Merck Foundation Africa Song Award  ‘More Than a Mother’ 2021 in partnership with African First Ladies who are also  the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother, for All African Singers, Musical Artists and emerging talents, to create a song with the aim to raise awareness about Empowering  Girls and Women through Education at all levels.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother expressed, “This is the first time we have launched the Merck Foundation Africa Song Award ‘More Than a Mother’. I am very excited to introduce this award in partnership with my dear sisters African First Ladies. The continent is known for its versatile music artists and talents who have been instrumental in communicating messages and spreading awareness on various issues. Music and Art have the capacity and influence to make the problem felt, which further stimulates emotions and leads to engagement and action. Hence we used this medium and introduced these awards to encourage the music composers and singers to create songs to raise awareness on the importance of girl education and empowering girls and women at all levels”.

“I strongly believe that Music has the power to touch the hearts of people. Music has the ability to bind communities and bring about a cultural shift in the society. We have produced and launched more than 20 songs with famous singers from Burundi, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Zambia, Gambia to raise awareness about male infertility and to break the Stigma around Infertility in Africa. Moreover, it is also an honor for us to have The President of Liberia, H.E. GEORGE WEAH and the Former First Lady of Burundi do their own songs for our Merck Foundation More Than a Mother campaign. Through the Song Awards, we aim to spread awareness on important issues of girl education and women empowerment in the African continent”, added Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej. Merck Foundation strongly believes that Education is one of the most critical areas of women empowerment. Merck Foundation’s ‘Educating Linda’ program helps young girls who are unprivileged but brilliant to continue their education. The spirit of the project is to provide an opportunity to such girls to pursue their dreams and reach their potential through access to education. It has been seen that many girls drop out of school due to lack of necessities such as fees and uniform.



Merck Foundation Educating Linda program has contributed to the future of 100’s of girls in partnership with the African First Ladies as part of ‘Merck Foundation More Than a Mother’ campaign.

Please click on the links below to listen to songs created by Merck Foundation:

Details about Merck Foundation Africa Song Awards ‘More Than a Mother’ 2021

Who can apply?

All African Singers and Musical Artists are invited to create and share a SONG on MP3 with the aim to Empower Girls and Women through Education and at all levels.

Last Date of Submission

30th August 2021

How to Apply?

Please share your work as an Audio File or YouTube link on: submit@Merck-Foundation.com.

The Subject line of the mail should mention: Merck Foundation Song Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021

Please specify your name, country and contact details in the mail.

Prize Money:

PositionFirst AwardSecond AwardThird Award
Prize moneyUSD 1000USD 700USD 500


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

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

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

‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Africa Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training.Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck Foundation More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as:

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

About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website.  Please visit www.merck-foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation (https://Merck-Foundation.com); Facebook (https://bit.ly/32YFKpv), Twitter (https://bit.ly/2TeOQNj), Instagram (https://bit.ly/3g6OYr3), YouTube (https://bit.ly/3zc3up1) and Flicker (https://bit.ly/2Tay0Pu).

About ‘Merck Foundation More Than a Mother’ campaign:
“Merck Foundation More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe, effective and equitable fertility care solutions. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries. With “Merck Foundation More Than a Mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility at all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.

SOURCE
Merck Foundation

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Ada Labs Africa and AI Center of Excellence (AICE) lead Next Generation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) Innovation in Africa with NVIDIA
June 9, 2021 | 0 Comments

The relationship will strengthen the capability of data science and AI rollouts in Africa as the two organizations collectively work to build capacity to train AI engineers in Africa
John Kamara, Founder at Ada Labs and AICE Africa speaking at the just concluded second inaugural quarterly AI for Leaders Roundtable in Zambia. He reinforced his sentiments on AICE Africa supporting the development of AI engineers in Zambia

Ada Labs (www.AdaLabsAfrica.com) Africa and AI Center of Excellence (AICE) have today announced an initiative with NVIDIA to contribute to the digitization of the African continent through artificial intelligence (AI) and collaborate on a number of data science and AI projects.

The CEO of Ada Labs Africa, John Kamara, said the relationship will strengthen the capability of data science and AI rollouts in Africa as the two organizations collectively work to build capacity to train AI engineers in Africa. The new initiative will also address the scarcity and cost of skilled AI engineers.

“Our journey in contributing to digitize the African continent has taken another important leap because of this initiative. We have invested heavily in infrastructure and platforms that will enable digitization of some of the key sectors affecting African growth and understand the critical role of AI in achieving our mission efficiently. However, if we do not have enough qualified people to manage AI systems, our efforts will be futile.

“This collaboration will help develop solutions, methodologies and best practices that are mutually beneficial for our companies, clients and market as a whole,” said Kamara.

The AI center for excellence in Nairobi (www.AICEAfrica.com) has already started training the first cohort of 40 AI engineers as part of this initiative and launched a CEO roundtable series to demystify AI for C-level executives across Africa. The first roundtable in the series was held in January, and another session took place at NVIDIA’s GPU Technology Conference in April. More sessions are planned for the coming months.

The initiative also aims at strengthening the buildup of the next generation of socially impactful and commercially driven entrepreneurs who will change the world from Africa. Ada Labs Africa and AICE will contribute together to several open-source AI technologies that will help innovators design, develop, deploy and monitor predictive models more quickly and efficiently.  

NVIDIA’s Head of Emerging Areas, Kate Kallot, said, “Bringing together our combined expertise and experience in the market will help provide relevant solutions and contribute to a robust AI industry in Africa. We are looking forward to addressing the opportunities and challenges with AI technologies to benefit people and society across the continent.”

The companies will collaborate to train over 4,000 AI engineers in five cities in Africa, starting with Nairobi, Kenya, over the next three years and will include fostering applied AI research dedicated to solving challenges relevant to local ecosystems. 

The collaboration also aims to strengthen relations with key stakeholders, including policymakers in the technology, computing and innovation ecosystem, and to build a transformational tech space on the continent.

About Ada Labs Africa:
Ada Labs is a smart venture building hub with a mission to build, incubate and launch impact driven  technology companies and entrepreneurs working to solve some of Africa’s  most pertinent challenges.

Ada Labs uses smart technologies (AI and Blockchain) as building blocks to create solutions that are SDG focused, commercially viable and scalable across Africa and other parts of the world. 

Currently Ada Labs has built 13 companies including in AgriTech, HealthTech, WomenTech, FinTech, AdTech, SmeTech and other industries and is headquartered in Nairobi Kenya, with a presence in NIGERIA, ZAMBIA, SOUTH AFRICA, SWAZILAND, TANZANIA AND UNITED KINGDOM.

About AICE AFRICA:
Artificial Intelligence Centre of Excellence (AICE) Africa champions AI solutions, builds capacity, demystifies Artificial Intelligence in Africa and creates ethical AI solutions that tackles Africa’s challenges.  

AICE is built on the belief that the right education and competencies can unlock human potential and make the world a better place. Driven by the desire to train African AI engineers to solve African problems and create a platform for further collaboration where multi-industry stakeholders from development partners, civil societies, entrepreneurs, academia, government, private sectors, and all industry players can harness the common good of the potential of AI in enhancing health, agriculture, education, good governance, financial independence and general economic growth.

The Centre of Excellence is built on three models; AI Knowledge Sharing & Capacity Building, AI Research & Development that will create opportunities for adoption and utilization of AI across Africa and beyond; and Provision of AI as a Service in Africa.
.*SOURCE Ada Labs

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Guinea: African Development Bank approves $430,000 grant for Ebola emergency relief project.
June 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a $430,000 grant to Guinea to fight the spread of the Ebola hemorrhagic fever epidemic throughout the country.

Since mid-February 2021, Guinea has been facing a resurgent Ebola-related epidemic, following the major crisis of 2014. This new epidemic comes against the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, which poses both health and socio-economic challenges to the West African country. The project was approved on 3 June.

The funding from the African Development Bank will enable Guinea to strengthen the diagnostic and sample management capacity of six regional laboratories. These laboratories will receive sample collection kits, reagents, and infection prevention and control equipment. Four regional laboratories will also receive GeneXPert equipment and genome sequencers, and biologists will be trained in Ebola virus diagnosis.

The project will also provide personal protective equipment and triage, isolation and case management facilities. In total, some 200 pieces of personal protective equipment will be distributed, including to health and community workers. Some 400 health workers and community volunteers will receive refresher training in infection prevention and case management, including survivors, in the affected regions.

The project responds to one of the African Development Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities, namely, Improving the quality of life of African people.

*AfDB

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Mozambique: African Development Bank grants $1.6 million to support national Covid-19 response.
June 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

Mozambique has received a $1.6 million grant from the African Development Bank to purchase emergency health materials in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The grant, which forms part of a $9.7 million grant to support the Covid-19 emergency response and strengthen health systems in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and in São Tomé and Príncipe, was approved by the African Development Bank Group’s Board of Directors last year.

The $1.6 million allocation was used to provide medical supplies to increase testing and screening and acquire equipment, including: adult and pediatric intensive care unit ventilators, and BiPAP devices that work like a mechanical respirator in the treatment of lung diseases. The funding was also used to purchase oxygen masks, personal protective equipment and Covid-19 test kits. Some of the supplies were presented to the government on Wednesday.

The project was implemented by the SADC Secretariat in partnership with the World Health Organization and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Mozambican Minister of Health, Dr. Armindo Tiago, held a formal handover ceremony at the Ministry of Health Office, attended by African Development Bank Country Manager Pietro Toigo and WHO Representative, Dr. Joaquim Saweka.

Mozambique has shown a decrease in Covid-19 infections, but health authorities are on alert due to the threat of new variants and the risk of a third wave.

“Even though vaccination started on 8 March in Mozambique, there is still some way to go. This support comes at the right time, when Mozambique urgently needs to strengthen the health system’s capacity in order to cope with the emerging Covid-19 variant in neighbouring countries,” Minister Tiago said.  

The partnership with WHO will complement the efforts of the African Development Bank and the government to support the private sector and the national budget, the Bank’s Toigo said. “The Bank is deeply committed to supporting Mozambique to put the pandemic behind it, and to protect lives and, crucially, support the economic recovery to put the country back on the development trajectory it deserves,” he said.

Dr. Joaquim Saweka, the WHO Representative in Mozambique, said the donation was part of a long-standing partnership with the African Development Bank. He said it was “an expression of WHO’s commitment to ensure that the government strengthens its capacity” in order to serve those affected by the pandemic and beyond.

Other Bank support to Mozambique to reduce the impact of Covid-19 includes $42 million in emergency budget support to strengthen health systems, expand social security and assist the private sector. The Bank also mobilized $4.5 million from existing projects to support initiatives to protect workers and accelerate border-tracking activities in the transport sector. The funds also subsidized credit to reduce the impact on small agricultural businesses and to support young Mozambican artisans to produce masks.

*AfDB

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Bank-funded project boosts water supply in Zimbabwe’s second-largest city
June 8, 2021 | 0 Comments

Limited investments in water and sanitation infrastructure across Zimbabwe’s urban centers in recent times have largely contributed to poor service provision, which has left citizens scrambling for the precious liquid. Bulawayo, the country’s second-largest city, was not spared. Frequent droughts in nearby regions worsened the water woes. 

“The situation worsened in 2018, where we would go for three weeks without water. It was a difficult period as we had to endure long queues at a nearby borehole just get to enough water for the day,” explained Nothando Maphosa, a 35-year-old mother of two from the Bulawayo suburb, Nketa7. “It was so bad that we had to come up with a time table for flushing the toilet, which is unhygienic,” she said.

Bulawayo experienced severe drought from 2018 to 2020, which led to the introduction of a six-day water shedding program. Before then, the city was already grappling with water pumps installed more than 40 years ago, and were plagued with costly breakdowns, requiring extensive maintenance. The water lifting capacity was low, and used high energy with little output. In addition, many manufacturers no longer had such dated replacement parts available.

To improve water, sewer treatment and pumping capacity, the African Development Bank funded the $33 million Bulawayo Water and Sewerage Services Improvement Project (BWSSIP) to replace obsolete pumps at Fernhill and Ncema pump stations. The new installations include three pumps at each station, two working in tandem as duty pumps and one standby pump. Funding also supported a supervisory control and data acquisition system, which will control and monitor the new equipment locally and remotely, further supporting the city’s vision of being a leading smart urban center by 2024 through the use of various technologies.

Since the water distribution began through the new pumps in February 2021, Bulawayo has gradually reduced disruptions from six to two days per week, with a gradual plan towards a citywide uninterrupted water supply. The increased pumping capacity has further assisted the replenishing of the raw water reservoir, which had dried up in 2020 due to drought.

The newly installed water pumps have increased the treatment capacity for the City of Bulawayo from 92 megaliters to 145 megaliters a day – exceeding the city’s daily water demand of 135 megaliters a day. The increased raw water capacity from the pumps, coupled with a refurbished water treatment system, is assisting the city to meet the daily water consumption demand of Bulawayo’s 770,000 residents in all its 165 suburbs.

“Since sometime in February 2021, we have been receiving regular water supplies. We now go for as long as three weeks without water rationing and, even when it happens, it does not take one full day [for water to come back],” Maphosa said.

Project implementation began in 2016. It also included strengthening institutional capacity, enhancing service delivery and efficiency, and improving environmental sanitation. The project, administered by the Government of Zimbabwe via the Bulawayo City Council, is expected to be completed in December 2021.

*AfDB

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5th Africa Climate Resilience Investment Summit to be held virtually
June 7, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The Fifth Africa Climate Resilient Investment Summit ACRIS V under the theme “Embedding and financing climate resilience for Africa’s green recovery” will be held virtually on 16th – 17th June 2021.

 It is reported that the two-day programme  will deal with investments for climate resilience. The panel discussions will deal with cross-border energy, resilience, nature-based solutions, smart agriculture, innovative finance, and Africa Climate Resilience Investment Facility. 

The Africa Climate Resilience Investment Summit (ACRIS V) is in its fifth year, following the highly successful ACRIS IV held in Johannesburg, South Africa, in June 2019.

ACRIS V will be held in partnership with The World Bank, Nordic Fund and United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The overall objective of ACRIS V is to strengthen the capacity of African institutions, including national governments, river basin organisations, regional economic communities, power pools and others, together with the private sector to plan, design and implement investment in relative sectors. These sectors include cross-border energy, resilience, nature-based solutions, smart agriculture, innovative finance to increase their resilience to climate change. The AFRI-Res (Africa Climate Resilient Investment Facility) will be discussed during ACRIS V.

ACRIS V will assist governments, planners, private developers in Africa to integrate climate resilience in project planning and design whilst also introducing global technology and service providers that can deliver resilience solutions.

  According to the organizers, bilingual Live broadcast of panels, live Q&A, and will organise Open Chat discussions on topics such as Media and Climate Change Communication, Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience, Plant-for-the-Planet and Climate Science will be organised during the summit. There will also be pre-recorded presentations on exciting and relative specialised topics for participants to view and download. 

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Merck Foundation CEO felicitates winners of ‘Merck Foundation More Than A Mother’ Africa Media Recognition Awards 2020 through a virtual award ceremony.
June 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

6 new awards 2021 were announced by Merck Foundation in partnership with the 20 African First Ladies.

50 Winners from 16 African Countries were celebrated at Merck Foundation Africa Media Recognition Awards Ceremony; 6 new awards 2021 were announced by Merck Foundation (Merck-Foundation) in partnership with the 20 African First Ladies; During the online video conference, Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej welcomed the winners of the awards to the Merck Foundation Alumni.

Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, celebrated the winners of ‘Merck Foundation More Than A Mother’ Africa Media Recognition Awards 2020 during the Award Ceremony held via a Video Conference. The winners were applauded for their best media coverage about infertility, infertile women & couples, with the aim to raise awareness about infertility prevention and male infertility. The awards were announced by Merck Foundation in partnership with the African First Ladies, who are also the Ambassadors of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President of Merck Foundation More Than a Mother emphasized “I am proud to recognize and appreciate our winners, who became the voice of the voiceless and the storytellers of infertile women and break the stigma around them and also raised awareness about male infertility. I am extremely happy to meet and celebrate our winners, through our online Award Ceremony. As you know, I truly believe that Media plays a crucial role in educating and sensitizing our communities through their influential media work. Through these awards, we were able to inspire many African journalists to write and create awareness about infertility stigma in their communities. We would like to encourage our winners to become Merck Foundation Champions and work together towards further eliminating infertility stigma and empower girls through education in developing countries and underserved communities”.  

“We also welcome the winners as Merck Foundation Alumni, to join us to create a culture shift as a part of ‘Merck Foundation More Than a Mother’ and ‘Educating Linda’ programs”, Senator, Dr. Kelej added.

Here is the list of Award Winners of Merck Foundation More Than A Mother’ Africa Media Recognition Awards 2020:

Here are the winners from Southern African Countries in partnership with The First Lady of Malawi, H.E. MONICA CHAKWERA; The First Lady of Namibia, H.E. MONICA GEINGOS; and The First Lady of Zimbabwe, H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA:

SOUTHERN AFRICAN COUNTRIES

PRINT CATEGORY WINNERS:

FIRST Position:

  • Roselyne Sachiti, The Herald Newspaper, ZIMBABWE

SECOND Position:

  • Memory Kutengule, Malawi News Agency, MALAWI
  • Mugugunye Moses, The Standard, ZIMBABWE

THIRD Position:

  • Patrick Musir, The AfroNews, ZIMBABWE
  • Takudzwa Chihambakwe, Zimpapers Group, ZIMBABWE

SPECIAL AWARD FOR A NOVEL

  • Nyasha Clementine Rwodzi, ZIMBABWE

ONLINE CATEGORY WINNERS:

FIRST Position:

  • Sharon Kavhu, The Southern Times, NAMIBIA
  • Gracious Mugovera, The Patriot, ZIMBABWE

SECOND Position:

  • Happy Njalam’mano, Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS), MALAWI

THIRD Position:

  • John Manzongo, The Herald, ZIMBABWE

MULTIMEDIA CATEGORY WINNERS:

FIRST Position:

  • Abel Dzobo, HELA TV, ZIMBABWE

SECOND Position:

  • Rosa Teixeira, Independent Journalist, NAMIBIA

RADIO CATEGORY WINNERS:

FIRST Position:

  • Linda Banda, Chanco Community Radio, MALAWI
  • Veronika Haulenga-Haufiku, Omulunga Radio, Future Group, NAMIBIA
  • Tashie Masawi, ZBC Radio Station Classic 263, ZIMBABWE

SECOND Position:

  • Mathilde Ndinelao Hinanifa, Independent Journalist, NAMIBIA
  • Ikemisetseng Marou, Radio Lesotho, LESOTHO
  • Rutendo Makuti, ZBC Radio Zimbabwe, ZIMBABWE

THIRD Position:

  • Memory Nkwe Ndhlovu, ZBC Radio Station Classic 263, ZIMBABWE

Here are the winners from West African Countries in partnership with The First Lady of Liberia, H.E. CLAR MARIE WEAH; and The First Lady of Nigeria, H.E. Dr. AISHA MUHAMMADU BUHARI:

WEST AFRICAN COUNTRIES

PRINT CATEGORY WINNERS:

  • Chioma Obinna, Vanguard Media Limited, NIGERIA

ONLINE CATEGORY WINNERS:

FIRST Position:

  • Martins Ifijeh, ThisDay Newspapers, NIGERIA

SECOND Position:

  • Never G Lomo, New Public Trust, LIBERIA
  • Chinedu Asadu, Cable Newspaper Limited, NIGERIA

RADIO CATEGORY

  • Abubakar Sulaiman, Sawaba FM 104.9 Hadejia, NIGERIA

Here are the winners from East African Countries:

EAST AFRICAN COUNTRIES

ONLINE CATEGORY

  • Sharon Kantengwa, The New Times, RWANDA

MULTIMEDIA CATEGORY

  • Walter Mwesigye, NTV, UGANDA

RADIO CATEGORY

  • Mercy Tyra Murengu, Upendo FM, KENYA

Here are the winners from African French Speaking Countries in partnership with The First Lady of Burundi, H.E. ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE; The First Lady of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, H.E. DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI; The First Lady of Guinea Conakry, H.E. CONDÉ DJENE; and The Former First Lady of Niger, H.E. AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU:

AFRICAN FRENCH SPEAKING COUNTRIES

PRINT CATEGORY

FIRST Position:

  • Richard TAMONE, Le Standard, GUINEA

SECOND Position:

  • Koami Agbetiafa, Le Républicain, NIGER

ONLINE CATEGORY

FIRST Position:

  • Lokale Odia Prisca, ACTUALITE.CDDEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO

SECOND Position:

MULTIMEDIA CATEGORY

FIRST Position:

  • Fatou Fadiga, House Media RTG, GUINEA

SECOND Position:

  • Jean Népomuscène Irambona, Radio TV Buntu, BURUNDI

RADIO CATEGORY

FIRST Position:

  • Remy Rukundo, Radio TV Buntu, BURUNDI
  • Makan Soumaoro, ESPACE FORET, GUINEA

SECOND Position:

  • Magendero Bénigne, Radio TV Buntu, BURUNDI
  • Aminata Bah, GUINEA
  • Innocent Ndihokubwayo, Radio TV Buntu, BURUNDI

THIRD Position:

  • Paulette Mugisha, Radio TV Buntu, BURUNDI
  • NZEYIMANA Emelyne, Radio TV Buntu, BURUNDI

Here are the winners from Ghana in partnership with The First Lady of Ghana, H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO:

GHANA

PRINT CATEGORY

FIRST Position:

  • Jonathan Donkor, The Ghanian Times

SECOND Position:

  • Zadok Kwame Gyesi, Graphic Online

THIRD Position:

  • Ama Tekyiwaa Ampadu Agyeman, New Times Corporation

ONLINE CATEGORY

  • Dzifa Tetteh Tay, New Times Corporation

MULTIMEDIA CATEGORY

FIRST Position:

  • Esi Benewaa Otoo, TV 3 Network

SECOND Position:

  • Akua Oforiwa Darko, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation

RADIO CATEGORY

  • Doreen Ampofo, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation Radio

Here are the winners from Zambia in partnership with The First Lady of Zambia, H.E. ESTHER LUNGU:

ZAMBIA

PRINT CATEGORY

  • Jessie Ngoma -Simengwa, Times of Zambia

MULTIMEDIA CATEGORY

  • Effie Mphande, Zambia Broadcasting Corporation Radio

RADIO CATEGORY

  • Josias Muuba, Radio Musi-O-Tunya

Link of the Award Ceremony livestreamed on social media: bit.ly/2THP5AE

Merck Foundation additionally rewarded the winners by providing them with one-year access to an online educational training program called “MasterClass”. The MasterClass is an immersive online experience and self-paced learning course in English that can be accessed anywhere with the Internet.

To underscore the important role that media, art, fashion, music and film plays in raising awareness about sensitive issues like Infertility Prevention, and Empowering Girls and Women through Education, and continuing the best prevention practices during the second wave of coronavirus, Merck Foundation in partnership with 20 First Ladies of Africa announced the following 6 awards:

1. Merck Foundation Africa Media Recognition Awards “More Than a Mother”: Media representatives are invited to showcase their work to raise awareness about Infertility Prevention, Breaking Infertility stigma, and Empowering Girls and Women through Education.

Submission deadline: 30th August 2021. Click here to view more details.

 2. Merck Foundation Film Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021: All African Filmmakers and Students are invited to create and share a FILM or a DOCUDRAMA to deliver strong and influential messages to break Infertility stigma, and /or Empowering Girls and Women through Education and at all levels.

Submission deadline: 30th August 2021. Click here to view more details.

3. Merck Foundation Fashion Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021: All African Fashion Students and Designers are invited to create and share designs to deliver strong and influential messages to raise awareness about Infertility Prevention, Breaking Infertility stigma, and/or Empowering Girls and Women through Education.

Submission deadline: 30th August 2021. Click here to view more details.

4. Merck Foundation Song Awards “More Than a Mother” 2021: All African Singers and Musical Artists are invited to create and share a SONG with the aim to Empower Girls and Women through Education and at all levels.

Submission deadline: 30th August 2021. Click here to view more details.

5. Merck Foundation “Mask Up With Care” Media Recognition Awards 2021: Media representatives are invited to showcase their work to raise awareness on how to adapt best protection measures such as wearing your masks to show you care and love your family & community; to encourage your community to choose to vaccinate when it is available and to sensitize them to support healthcare workers who are at the forefront of COVID 19 pandemic.

Submission deadline: 30th September 2021. Click here to view more details.

6. Merck Foundation “Make Your Own Mask” Fashion Awards 2021: All African Fashion Designers and Students are invited to create and share designs of masks and other clothing items that carry messages to encourage people to wear masks to show they care and at the same time make it creative and fun!

Submission deadline: 30th September 2021. Click here to view more details.

Entries for all the awards to be submitted via email to submit@merck-foundation.com

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej also emphasized, “Through the awards under the “More Than a Mother” campaign, we would like to join hands with media, film, music and fashion fraternity to make a change and Break Infertility Stigma, a message that must reach every door, every community, every mind, and every heart. Another important message is to emphasize the importance of girl education in our communities. Moreover, given the unprecedented times and second wave of coronavirus, it is important to sensitize communities and raise awareness about following best practices. Raising awareness about coronavirus in our communities will also contribute to supporting health workers who are at the forefront of COVID-19 response – providing high-quality, respectful treatment, and care. Hence, we came up with awards for media persons and fashion designers, so as to encourage people to wear masks during the Coronavirus pandemic and protect themselves and others. The two Media Awards have also been launched for Latin American countries.”

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

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

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

H.E. NEO JANE MASISI,
The First Lady of Botswana
H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The GambiaH.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia
H.E. SIKA KABORE, The First Lady of Burkina FasoH.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of GhanaH.E. AISHA BUHARI, The First Lady of Nigeria
H.E. ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE,The First Lady of BurundiH.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea ConakryH.E FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone
H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African RepublicH.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of LiberiaH.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia
H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo BrazzavilleH.E. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of MalawiH.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe
H.E. DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, THE First Lady of Democratic Republic of CongoH.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique
The Former First Lady of Burundi, H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The Former First Lady of Chad, H.E. HINDA DÉBY ITNO, The Former First Lady of Malawi, H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA and The Former First Lady of Niger, H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU have worked successfully with Merck Foundation as Merck Foundation More Than a Mother Ambassadors to break the stigma of infertility and empower infertile women in their countries.

Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck Foundation More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;
• ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Africa Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training
• ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Fashion Awards
• ‘Merck Foundation More than a Mother’ Film Awards
• Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
• Children storybook, localized for each country

About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation, established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. 

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Zamfara state gripped by humanitarian crisis as violence escalates.
June 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

An MSF nurse examining a child on oxygen support in Anka general hospital. Nigeria, April 2021 | © MSF/GHADA SAAFAN

Spiralling violence between armed groups in Nigeria’s northwest has driven thousands of people from their homes; Conditions in the resulting displaced people’s camps are dire, with a lack of food, water and shelter; We are urging for an immediate scale up in the humanitarian response in Zamfara state to meet people’s basic needs.

Rising violence in northwest  Nigeria’s Zamfara state is causing a humanitarian crisis, warns Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). MSF is calling for an urgent humanitarian response for people in the region, who are desperately short of food, drinking water, shelter, protection and basic services, including healthcare.

 “Our teams in Zamfara state have witnessed an alarming rise in preventable illnesses associated with a lack of food, drinking water, shelter and vaccinations,” says MSF’s Dr Godwin Emudanohwo, speaking from the hospital MSF supports in the town of Anka. “Children keep on arriving here in a very bad condition.”

“In the first four months of 2021, our teams in Anka, Zurmi and Shinkafi treated 10,300 children for severe acute malnutrition, measles, malaria, watery diarrhoea and respiratory infections,” says Dr Emudanohwo. “This is 54 per cent higher than in the same period last year.”

What began as occasional clashes between farmers and herders, competing over increasingly scarce land and water resources, has now evolved into generalised random violence by armed groups, who use kidnapping and plundering as a lucrative source of income.

People who make it to MSF health facilities say that the surge in violence has driven them to flee their homes, farms and grazing lands. Some have sought protection in Zamfara’s larger towns, such as Anka, where they are sheltering in camps, both formal and informal.

Living conditions in the camps are dire, with no regular food distributions or proper shelter and with insufficient water and sanitation facilities, according to MSF teams. Other people have stayed in villages, too afraid to travel on insecure roads and delaying their trips to seek healthcare or fulfil other basic needs.

“There’s hardly any food to give to my children,” says Halima, two of whose children are being treated for severe acute malnutrition by MSF in Anka hospital. “We can no longer grow crops because criminals attack our farms.”

“Two of my children got measles and they were growing very thin. The roads are very dangerous, but I had to risk our lives and bring them to hospital,” says Halima. “Last time, when their elder sister got measles, I decided too late to travel by road and bring her to hospital. She had complications and now she is blind.”

In February 2021 there were more than 124,000 displaced people living in in Zamfara state, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) – an increase of more than 12,000 since August 2020. In Anka town alone, our teams have counted more than 14,000 displaced people, with around 1,599 arrivals in the past four months.

“We had to flee our grazing lands and most of our cattle were stolen,” says Nana, who is sheltering in a camp for displaced people on the edge of Anka. “Now there’s very little for us to eat. I make a living by selling cows’ milk to local people.”

The 150 beds in MSF’s paediatric ward in Anka hospital are already full, but staff fear the worst is yet to come.

“We are currently running over our bed capacity in Anka hospital,” says Dr Emudanohwo. “Families tell us they won’t be able to farm for the new season, which means a new cycle of hunger.”

“And the rainy season is yet to start, when malaria and other seasonal diseases increase,” continues Dr Emudanohwo. “People here need food, safe water and vaccinations now.”

“The survivors are afraid to take the roads, so they usually arrive at our clinics too late to prevent sexually transmitted infections, with serious mental trauma and in desperate need of protection”. Dr. Noble Nma, Msf Medical Activity Manager in Shinkafi.

Rise in kidnapping and sexual violence

As the violence spirals, reports of kidnappings, killings, armed robbery and sexual violence have multiplied.

“From January to April, our teams in Zamfara have received over 100 victims of sexual violence,” says Dr Noble Nma, MSF medical activity manager in Shinkafi, where we run a clinic for survivors of sexual violence. “Women and sometimes men are abducted by armed men and subjected to violation for a few weeks before being returned to their community. This is in addition to the violence faced by women within the community itself.”

Fear of travelling along dangerous roads means that rape survivors often seek support late, or not at all. “The survivors are afraid to take the roads, so they usually arrive at our clinics too late to prevent sexually transmitted infections, with serious mental trauma and in desperate need of protection,” says Dr Nma. “They tell us that there are more survivors out there who are afraid to travel here, so we fear that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg.”

MSF is one of just a few aid organisations working in Zamfara state. This is not the first time we have raised the alarm on the urgent need for increased humanitarian assistance and protection in the region.

“Our teams have witnessed the speed at which the situation in Zamfara state has deteriorated,” says Froukje Pelsma, MSF head of mission in Nigeria. “The lives of people in northwest Nigeria are now dominated by hunger, abuse and preventable diseases.”

“What is happening here is a humanitarian emergency that needs urgent attention and a fast and proper response,” says Pelsma. “The authorities and all relevant stakeholders should assume their responsibilities towards affected communities.”

*MSF

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Cameroon: AfCFTA is Vital for Economic Growth, Job Creation – Ecobank Cameroon’s Gwendoline Abunaw
June 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

The African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCFTA is crucial for “our economic growth and job creation” said Gwendoline Abunaw, Managing Director of Ecobank Cameroon.

The Managing Director of Ecobank Cameroon, ranked 4th out of the 16 banks in Cameroon was speaking during a webinar on June 3, 2021, organized by the Nkafu Policy Institute. Moderated by Dr Denis Foretia, Executive Chairman of the Nkafu Policy Institute, the session was under the theme “Africa’s Road to Recovery – A Conversation with Gwendoline Abunaw.”

With 20 years of experience, Gwendoline Abunaw, the first female Managing Director in the country has occupied C-suite roles since 2011, including Head of Corporate bank Cameroon including coverage of 6 other countries in Central Africa and Deputy Managing Director at Ecobank Cameroon.

“All I can say is that we survived. There was a fear that Africa will disappear in the way we were going to manage the pandemic. It was also because of the quick reaction in closing the borders and also the youthful population in most African countries,” said Gwendoline Abunaw, a board member at Ecobank Cameroon and Chad.  

“A lot of work still needs to be done. We are in a stable but wait and see the situation as everyone is taking the baby steps into going back to normal.

There economic situation in most African countries is dire. The banking sector according to the Managing Director of Ecobank is still trying to get on its feet while the number of custom or tax collection has reduced due to the pandemic. It has also affected the rate at which investment is done in a particular country. “What we are seeing now is the inflows of support being given to the various governments in their fight against the pandemic.”

Gwendoline Abunaw, Managing Director of Ecobank Cameroon

The IMF programme is important as it helps make sure that our countries can develop. We need more of that support and we are going to see more as the countries slowly come out of the pandemic.

According to many analysts, the COVID-19 pandemic has drastically affected many Small businesses across the Africa continent. In Cameroon, some 90% of businesses in the country are SMEs. With the problems that this sector is currently facing, the pandemic has made things worse for small-scale businesses.

The pandemic has not been all gloomy according to the Managing Director of Ecobank. “Because of the pandemic, creative space has been created for SMEs. Government has provided tax reliefs to some of the like in the transport sector and those involved in tourism (to help the SMEs cope with the challenges involved).”

Many of these SMEs have had to come up with innovative ways to reach their customers than they were doing before the pandemic hit. Small-scaled businesses have incorporated technology into their businesses. Social media platforms have been a major boost to these companies.

“Ecobank has also stepped in to assist these SMEs with the launch of the Elevate Programme and also provided the SMEs digital software to enable them better manage their businesses. All these efforts have enabled SMEs to thrive, despite the partial lockdowns that were instituted in some areas of the country,” said Gwendoline Abunaw, chairperson of the boards for both Pan African savings and loans (microfinance) and Ecobank Development Corporation (EDC), an investment bank.

Dr Denis Foretia, Executive Chairman of the Nkafu Policy Institute

Responding to the question on the challenges and hurdles of the AfCFTA, Gwendoline Abunaw said there is a need to finalize and put the framework in place and the creation of infrastructure to assist. “Leaders have t make it a domestic policy. We have to be open to industrialization and liberalization as COVID has shown that there is a need to develop some companies providing essential services,” She said.

The implantation relies on the political will and has to be driven by the government. This can also only be possible when there is peace and security and it is vital for the AfCFTA. When there is peace, it will help attract investors into a country.”

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GLF first-ever digital conference focused on Africa drylands brings experts from FAO to discuss techniques that will help preserve the region.
June 4, 2021 | 0 Comments

Conservation is indispensable for the recovery of Drylands and the maintenance of Sustainable Landscapes. Drought respects no borders.

By Uzman Unis Bah

Global Landscapes Forum (GLF) hosts its maiden digital conference to discuss Africa drylands and how fundamental restoration techniques can help recover the threatened region. Experts from FAO outline the GEF-7 Dryland Sustainable Landscapes Impact Program: Catalyzing transformation – scale – sustainability. 

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is poised to launch the GEF-7 Dryland Sustainable Landscapes Impact Program, which aims at helping salvage the endangered areas of the African region.

Deputy Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization, Maria Helena Semedo, said GEF-7 is an increasingly important partner of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in supporting countries in meeting their priorities in connection of the environment and sustainable development. 

According to Maria, the GEF-7 will focus on intersecting challenges of sustaining production in the natural ecosystem. She said collaboration is a multifocal and integrated initiative that support countries in addressing common drylands management challenge.  

Gustavo Fonseca, the Director of Programs, Global Environment Facility (GEF), drylands are home to more than 2 billion people and contain 44% of the world agricultural land that supports over half of the earth food production. Drylands also host the most fragile ecosystems on the planet, including 25% of all growth biodiversity hotspots.

Gustavo said climate change, growing populations, overgraze of rangelands pose environmental problems, leading to land degradation and affecting the livelihoods of 600 million smallholder farmers. 

He stressed the importance of investment in the sustainable management of drylands. Investment is a good value proposition for the GEF, as dryland areas have a high potential for generating multiple environmental benefits and their importance for improving local livelihoods.    

Ulrich Apel, a Senior Environmental Specialist at GEF, said the essence of the programme is to achieve land neutrality in poverty-stricken and fragile areas. Such as dryland, which is in line UNCCD concept on land degradation restoration; the scheme supports smallholders and medium enterprises that support living in the drylands, reduces the vulnerability of the communities and the ecosystems, he states. 

According to Ulrich, working together, learning together, sharing knowledge in platforms will enhance cost-effective impacts and strengthen the integrated approach in responding to degradation and harnessing the most plausible solutions that mitigate the problems.  

Malawi’s Minister of Forestry and Natural Resource, Nancy Tembo, said the country’s dry landscape faces severe pressure from the rapidly growing population. The population density is 20 people per square kilometre, growing at a rate of 2.6%; the last census conducted in 2018 puts the youth at 51% of the total population expansion of the country. She states that Malawai uses 32,000 hectares of forest cover every year; the GEF-7 dry land sustainable program provides an opportunity in Malawi to reach out for the sustainable goals, she said.  

According to Nancy, Charcoal production in Malawi is high. About 80% of the population depends on charcoal energy for cooking and land encroachment, especially forest reserves. Population growth and the acquisition of lands for agriculture and housing purposes is worsening the situation.

Frank Musukwa, the Chairperson ofZambia National Forest Commodity Association (ZNFCA), said poverty, low agriculture productivity, lack of livelihood opportunity and increasing need for housing influence land degradation. Frank explains that youth are engaged in charcoal burning, an easy source of income, a form of business that requires a low investment that leaves an indelible scar on the surface of our planet. 

The Dryland Sustainable Landscapes Impact Program supports integrated landscape management, focusing on sustainable forest management, restoration of rangelands and livestock production. The program will promote and diversify agroecological food production and creating enabling environment to support these objectives, outlined by the Program Framework. 

This approach will lead to enhanced preservation and maintainable use of biodiversity, repossession and storage of carbon, developed water infiltration and regulation, control of forest fires, pest and viruses disturbing dryland crops and livestock, improved soil condition and improved livelihoods.

The GLF conference hosts experts and journalists in discussing evidence of the successes of dryland restoration and guide practitioners and policymakers ahead of the launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a challenge to scale up restoration efforts that will restore the degraded ecosystem. 

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Ghana warned over illegal fishing-European Commission
June 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Maxwell Nkansah

The Commission, leading the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing worldwide, has issued a warning, so-called yellow card, to the Republic of Ghana that it risks being identified as a non-cooperating country in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. This warning, according to the Commission, is based on various shortcomings in Ghana’s ability to comply with its duties under international law as flag, port, coastal or market State.

Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, said: “The Commission stands for zero tolerance for IUU fishing. Ghana plays an important role in fisheries governance in West Africa. Therefore, we stand ready to work with Ghana to address the threats IUU fishing poses to the sustainability of fish stocks, coastal communities, food security and the profits of those fishermen and – women who follow the rules. Sustainable fisheries are key to better ocean governance.”

Ghana is encouraged to take the necessary actions in order to abide by its international obligations in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing.

The identified shortcomings include illegal transshipments at sea of large quantities of undersized juvenile pelagic species between industrial trawl vessels and canoes in Ghanaian waters, deficiencies in the monitoring, control and surveillance of the fleet and a legal framework that is not aligned with the relevant international obligations Ghana has signed up to. The sanctions imposed by Ghana to vessels engaging in or supporting IUU fishing activities are not effective and not an adequate deterrent.

Ghana should ensure effective monitoring and control of the activities of its fishing vessels and an adequate implementation of its enforcement and sanctioning system. It should also ensure a sound fisheries management system in order to prevent fish stemming from IUU fishing activities from reaching its market or others, including the European one.

The yellow card is a warning and offers Ghana the opportunity to react and take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable time. At this stage, the decision does not entail any measures affecting trade.

However, in cases of prolonged and continued non-compliance countries can ultimately face a procedure of identification (a so-called red card), which entails sanctions such as the prohibition to export their fishery products to the EU market.

Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is jeopardizing the very foundation of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and the EU’s international efforts to promote better ocean governance. Under the European Green Deal and pursuing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal for conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, sea and marine resources, the Commission has committed to a zero-tolerance approach to IUU fishing.

The fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing is also an important aspect of the EU Biodiversity Strategy’s objective to protect the marine environment. The Strategy for Africa highlights the fight against IUU fishing as one of the key issues to address with our African partners. The Republic of Ghana had already received a yellow card in November 2013, which was then lifted in October 2015, after Ghana addressed the shortcomings.

The EU is the world’s biggest importer of fisheries products. The global value of IUU fishing is estimated at 10-20 billion euros per year. Between 11 and 26 million tonnes of fish are caught illegally every year, corresponding to at least 15% of world catches.

Today’s Commission Decision is based on the EU’s ‘IUU Regulation’, which entered into force in 2010. One of the pillars of this Regulation is the catch certification scheme that ensures that only legally caught fisheries products can access the EU market.

The Regulation also provides for specific dialogue mechanisms with the countries that are not complying with their obligations as flag, coastal, port and market State under international law. While failure to cooperate in the framework of the dialogue can lead to an identification of the country, the IUU dialogues are based on cooperation and support to countries and are an important step in tackling IUU fishing, with sanctions, including trade prohibition being only a last resort measure.

Since November 2012, the Commission entered in formal dialogues with 27 third countries, i.e. officially warned them of the need to take effective action to fight IUU fishing. In most cases, significant progress was observed and therefore the Commission could satisfactorily close the formal Dialogue phase and lift the yellow card. Only a few countries have not shown the necessary commitment to reforms until now. The EU is working to support Ghanaian population on the ground with several capacity building projects. 

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Dryland is Hindering the Fight to Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs 2030), GLF experts impart reporting skills.
May 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

Telling the story is essential for raising awareness on environmental concerns; thus, journalists and media professionals are integral in inspiring a global effort to end the imminent challenges our planet faces today.

By Uzman Unis Bah 

GLF training 2021– as the African dryland issue continues to pose a threat to the farming sector, stalling the progress of achieving SDG zero hunger and the elimination of poverty; the Global Landscape Forum (GLF) organises training that reveals reporting skills for journalists in helping raise the awareness and inspiring a global call to help address the crisis.

The GLF training lasted for three days, imparting knowledge to over 40 professional and fledgling journalists in the African continent. The experts shared vital storytelling skills, sharing knowledge and deepening the insight into the looming environmental issues affecting the continent. According to Susanne Wallenöffer, the head Forests4Future, although this is a virtual engagement, it points out the scale at which land damage is taking place and at the same time highlighting the continent’s potential in tackle the problem.

Susanne says the role of the media is to continue raising awareness on the topic and the importance of restoring forests and despoiled lands in the continent, inspiring political actions, reporting and setting the agenda for broader deliberations. “The other point is to simply raise awareness among the communities and the general public on the potential that restoring degraded lands and forests has fought for everyone.” She said.

The journalists and media specialists are pivotal in telling the stories of affected communities from the most affected to the least affected places of our globe. In raising awareness and stirring aspirations for a lasting solution, the media and journalists play are pivotal. Susanne hailed the Global Landscapes Forum, climate track and partners for hosting such media training.

Storytelling is vital in promoting awareness of the situations affecting people and their livelihood and the environmental danger our society is currently facing. The press and the drivers of conservation stories are crucial in casting light on the signs the planet is witnessing.

“It’s been estimated that there’s potential to generate $2 trillion globally from Sustainable Agriculture and forest protection.” Jonathan Davies, Global Agriculture Programme Lead at International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Jonathan said.

In giving an overview of dry land in Africa, Peter Minang, a Principal Scientist with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), said land degradation is the deterioration or loss of productive capacity of soils. Peter asserts that land degradation is often resulting in desertification and primarily importing desertification in drylands.

Most of our forest areas are dry ecosystems that are also important and needed for growing several crops that mostly do well in drier areas, like cotton,  so it good to be aware of these facts; Peter clarifies.

Africa is vulnerable to land degradation; millions of hectares are affected, close to 500 million hectares; desertification affects around 45% of Africa’s land area, where there is 55% high risk for further degradation; a study in 2016 estimates that the annual losses in land degradation in Africa, especially in Agriculture, accrue losses of billion Euros, he explains.

According to Peter, population increase, poverty, and a host of other issues contribute to the land loss, but the most dynamic causes are poor governance, poor policy enforcement and lack of investments in land management.

Salima Mahamoudou, a Research Associate at World Resources Institute (WRI), said, often, when we hear of land degradation in Africa, our mind run to pictures of cracked and broken soil, but the fact is, degradation doesn’t necessarily need to be to the extreme, where you will witness the physical markers.

According to Salima, while reporting dryland stories, it is good to consider the common environmental impacts, but it is worth noting that some of the dryland impacts might not be as visible as others.

There is a great potential to store carbon in the soil, arousing interest in developing land carbon sinks, which will benefit the African continent. The opportunity will bring immense possibilities for land use and proper land regime systems in Africa, stated Jonathan.

Birguy Lamizana Diallo, Senior Project Officer, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, said desertification is growing; it is noticeable at the environmental level, but predominantly in the social sector, leading to disputes and migrations, economic losses that hugely affect the livelihood of women and youth in the rural communities.

Desertification is land degeneration in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas emanating from many factors, including climatic shifts and human activities. It leads to a reduction in crop yields and minimises the resilience of agricultural and pastoral systems – key livelihood pillars in Africa. According to the policy brief of the African Group of Negotiators experts Support.

Our food heroes, the farmers who toil, breaking backs to achieve food security, in the face of all hurdles, are the most challenged when it comes to desertification and the altering of the landmass, either by climate change or natural emergencies. Issues that impact our planet need coverage, but to tell stories that will help raise awareness and inspiring solutions, journalists’ need to be equipped to better understanding the issues for better reportage. 

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Dangote Refinery Oil Refinery: XCMG’s End-to-end Service Supports 2,500 Units of Equipment for Construction of the Largest Oil Refinery
May 31, 2021 | 0 Comments

XCMG Construction Machinery Co.Ltd (000425.SZ), global top three construction machinery manufacturer, has deployed a team of 81 engineers and technicians to work on the construction of the world’s largest oil refinery project, the Dangote Refinery, located at Lekki Free Zone in Lagos, Nigeria. The team is providing end-to end, round-the-clock service to facilitate more than 2,500 units of construction machinery equipment.

Built with an investment of nearly $35.38 billion (29 billion Euro), the Dangote Refinery project covers an area of 250,000 hectares, and the phase I and II of the project is expected to be completed by 2022. Once in full operation, the refinery will produce gasoline and other petrochemical products such as polyethylene and polypropylene.

Nigeria, the largest oil-producing country in Africa, currently has four operating oil refineries. However, due to equipment aging and poor maintenance, the plants are in a state of partial shutdowns with a combined daily output of less than 445,000 barrels, while the average daily consumption is approximately 40 million liters, 7 million liters lesser than of which are produced locally.

“The refined oil output of the Dangote Refinery will be able to fulfill the gasoline demand in Nigeria sufficiently, even meeting West Africa’s demand for refined oil, freeing Nigeria from its dependence on oil imports. XCMG is proud to participate in this mega refinery project,” said Jiansen Liu, Vice President of XCMG and General Manager of XCMG Import and Export Company.

Led by Liu Jiansen, the team submitted a complete construction technology solution with more than 500 units of equipment from 13 categories within one month for the construction contract bidding. 

Subsequently, XCMG won a massive order of 504 equipment from 37 models, the largest export order to Africa across the Chinese construction machinery industry, including 27 concrete mixer trucks, two pump trucks and five mixing plants. Throughout the construction period, the XCMG project team provided after-sales engineer support at the site to monitor the construction conditions.

End-to-end Service

The team managed several other challenges including the road conditions which required levelling with road rollers and graders, and excavators to dig waterways for drainage every few days. Liu and the team also took on tasks such as 30-ton hoisting, HB41A pump truck debugging and sand pumping from the Gulf of Guinea to fill up the marsh – a task completed by XCMG excavators and dump trucks, also aiding in anti-flood rescues.

To facilitate the maintenance of XCMG equipment, the end-to-end service team set up a 5,000-square-meter equipment maintenance workshop on site to provide support, mechanical debugging and maintenance services. The comprehensive after-sales service prompted Dangote Group to sign an additional order of 183 crawler cranes, 201 concrete equipment and 40 hydraulic vibratory hammers with XCMG.

To date, the Dangote Refinery Project has purchased XCMG machinery equipment totaling $400 million and spare parts worth $35 million.

About XCMG Construction Machinery Co. Ltd

XCMG, a multinational heavy machinery manufacturing company, leverages on its experience and expertise of over 78 years to manufacture top of the line goods. It currently ranks third in the world’s construction machinery industry and exports to over 187 regions worldwide.

*Source XCMG

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Kenya mulls scrapping off Bachelor of Education Degree
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

TSC Director of Quality Assurance and Standards Dr.Reuben Nthamburi making a presentation

It is just a matter of time before Kenya does away with the Bachelor of Education course (B.Ed) in the universities in line with the new education system known as Competence Based Curriculum.

Kenya’s Teachers Service Commission (TSC), tasked to hire teachers, wants students aspiring to pursue teaching as a career to take regular arts or sciences degrees instead.

In the new proposal, students would be required to pursue the Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Sciences courses for three years, followed by a one-year post-graduate diploma in education to qualify to be teachers in secondary schools.

The minimum requirements would be a mean grade of C+ and a minimum of B- in three teaching subjects.

“In order to professionalise the teaching service and improve the quality of education, the commission needs to review entry grades to the teaching service and advice the national government. This will raise the standards of the teaching profession and attract more quality grades,” read the report prepared by TSC Director of Quality Assurance and Standards Dr.Reuben Nthamburi.

The TSC wants the proposals to take effect in September this year.

However, the proposed changes face opposition from university education lecturers and the University Academic Staff Union (Uasu). They have branded the new framework unnecessary and unfounded.

According to university lecturers, many staff will lose their jobs should the new changes be implemented. They vowed to author a counter-report based on constructive research.

“We feel the TSC framework is unacceptable as it is going to water down our education system, teachers require specialized training from the start,” Kenyatta University Uasu official told the Daily Nation.

The Bachelor of Education training course in Kenya has existed since 1972.

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Zambia: Lusaka’s water point ambassadors turn the tap to protect residents from Covid-19
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

A water point attendant in Zambia’s capital Lusaka has a new role beyond filling up containers for residents at the community tap. John Nyambe spreads the word about the novel coronavirus – its dangers, and what residents can do to protect themselves.

The role comes with a new title too – “coronavirus prevention ambassador.” Nyambe, 71, bears the title with pride. His message was especially vital in a city with a history of inadequate sanitation and disease outbreaks.

As soon as the first cases of Covid-19 were identified in Lusaka in March 2020, the African Development Bank adjusted one of its programs to address the outbreak. The aim was to engage communities benefiting from the Lusaka Sanitation Program to keep them up to date with information on the pandemic, dispel misinformation and to distribute hygiene products.

Nyambe, who was appointed by the Lusaka Water Supply and Sanitation Company, has witnessed a difference in behaviour since the sanitation program accommodated its new mission.

“We have seen change in the community and people are now following the guidelines that have been set because they now understand that the disease is deadly and they need to take care of themselves,” said Nyambe, who also works as a security guard for a local firm.

Since the Covid-19 hygiene project got under way, 400 hand sanitiser stations have been installed in public spaces such as markets, health centres, water points, and places of worship. And over 600 water tap attendants like Nyambe have become coronavirus prevention ambassadors. The key message was around the importance of staying safe by practising social distancing and washing hands thoroughly. This helped change the perceptions of people, many of whom were sceptical about the pandemic.

“This project is good for, not only the water tap attendants, but for the community as well. The tap attendants were able to sensitize the community and did so by demonstrating, using the materials that were given by the Bank,” said Josephine Moono Chihongo, the Lusaka Water and Sanitation Company community development officer for the area known as Peri-Urban West.

“Today, when you go to the community water collection points, no one draws water without a mask and without sanitizing their hands. This shows us that there is behavioural change among the communities,” Chihongo added.

The measures were rolled out in addition to ongoing activities that are part of the Lusaka Sanitation Program, a $243 million project jointly funded by the African Development Bank, the European Investment Bank, the German Development Bank and the World Bank.

The African Development Bank is providing $50 million to build healthier and happier families by elevating residents’ quality of sanitation, especially the poor living in peri-urban communities around Lusaka. At the time that the Lusaka Sanitation Program was launched in 2015, around 70% of the city, roughly 2.2 million people, lived in high-density, unplanned peri-urban neighbourhoods. Five years later, the sanitation program provided a foundation to fight the pandemic.

By late March 2021, Zambia had registered more than 87,000 cases of Covid-19 and the death toll from the disease was more than 1,000. Bank support enabled the production and translation of messages and jingles, the distribution of bottles of hand sanitizer, and face masks.

“We now understand that coronavirus is real and we were empowered by the Lusaka Sanitation Program with information on how to protect ourselves,” said Easter Kumbana, a resident of Kanyama. “I had no money to buy facemasks and hand sanitizers because the little money I had, I needed to feed my children, so I was extremely happy to be assisted with the sanitizers and face masks.”

*AfDB

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DFC Advances COVID-19 Response in Africa with $5 Million Investment in Africa Healthcare Network
May 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

The direct loan will help Africa Healthcare Network expand dialysis center operations across Sub-Saharan Africa.

DFC continues to support global health and sustainable economic growth in developing countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” says DFC’s Vice President of the Office of External Affairs and Head of Global Gender Equity Initiatives Algene Sajery.Photo courtesy

WASHINGTON – U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced the first disbursement of a $5 million direct loan to Africa Healthcare Network (AHN), the largest operator of dialysis centers in East Africa. The project is part of DFC’s comprehensive COVID-19 Response through which the agency is mitigating the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and DFC’s Global Health and Prosperity Initiative, under which the agency is working to strengthen global health systems.

“DFC continues to support global health and sustainable economic growth in developing countries during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond,” said DFC’s Vice President of the Office of External Affairs and Head of Global Gender Equity Initiatives Algene Sajery. “This investment in AHN will expand access to affordable, high quality healthcare across Sub-Saharan Africa through its operation of lifesaving dialysis centers.”

The pandemic has caused disruptions to health services worldwide and has impacted the ability for countries to address and respond to non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Those living with NCDs, including chronic kidney disease (CKD), are at an increased risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. Independent studies estimate that there are over 1 million patients with CKD in Sub-Saharan Africa requiring dialysis and the region requires over 50 times the current number of centers to meet the demand. DFC’s financing will help increase patient access to safe dialysis treatment and help mitigate disruption to essential health services.  

AHN is the largest and most expansive dialysis services provider in East Africa with 18 dialysis centers in Kenya, Tanzania, and Rwanda offering high-quality, affordable care. DFC funding will allow AHN to support growth throughout Sub-Saharan Africa as it continues to build and operate additional dialysis centers through partnerships with leading hospitals in the region.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, DFC has undertaken a multifaceted approach to mitigate the pandemic’s impact by providing rapid response recovery lending to existing DFC clients in developing countries; providing economic recovery lending to new DFC clients in vulnerable regions that support small and medium sized businesses, especially women-owned or women led businesses; and strengthening health systems. Also, as part of the overall U.S. global response to the COVID-19 pandemic, DFC is partnering with the private sector, other DFIs, U.S. government agencies, and other organizations. At a time when developing markets are experiencing liquidity strains, the agency is helping stabilize industries, safeguard jobs, and speed private sector recovery.

In addition to financing this vital project, DFC is strengthening global health systems by working to provide businesses with financing to increase capacity in the manufacturing, production, and distribution of vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccine, under DFC’s development strategy Roadmap for Impact. DFC is also prioritizing investments that empower women and advance its 2X Women’s Initiative, as women are often disproportionately impacted by crises, especially when they seek access to capital.

DFC is accepting proposals under its Global Health and Prosperity Initiative. The agency seeks to invest between $5 million and $500 million per eligible project through its full range of financial tools, which includes equity and debt financing, political risk insurance, and technical development. Eligible projects should deliver highly impactful health outcomes in developing countries.

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. We invest across sectors including energy, healthcare, critical infrastructure, and technology. DFC also provides financing for small businesses and women entrepreneurs in order to create jobs in emerging markets. DFC investments adhere to high standards and respect the environment, human rights, and worker rights.

*DFC

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Polluters are slowing down Africa’s progress
May 26, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Charity Migwi and Nicole Rodel*

The world has no business investing in new fossil fuel developments in our race to the 1.5°C
pathway. The International Energy Agency’s (IEA) newly released Net Zero by 2050 roadmap
has closed the door on new fossil fuel extraction, and fossil fuel giants have lost their claim to
fame of new oil and gas reserves being aligned with the Paris Agreement. It’s a small victory for
climate, and the big polluters, governments, and public finance institutions will have a tough
time giving grounds for dirty developments – but there is seemingly no slowing down Total SE,
Standard Bank and AfDB from riding their gravy train through Africa at full steam ahead.

Since 2012, Total SE has been the largest fossil fuel spender in Sub-Saharan Africa. The French
energy giant expanded its dominance in the region when it signed the Shareholding Agreement
(SHA) and the Tariff and Transportation Agreement (TTA) alongside the governments of
Uganda and Tanzania with Tanzania recently signing the Host Government Agreement (HGA).
This deal has paved the way for oil exploration in the Albertine Graben and the construction of
the longest heated pipeline in the world, the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP). The
signing of this long awaited deal has spelled doom for communities affected by the project as
compensation delays and mixed messages have only triggered anguish and controversy among
the Project Affected Persons (PAPs). Not only will tens of thousands of people be displaced but
locals risk losing their land in exchange for peanuts as the valuation report used by the
government relies on old property rates. In consequence, Total will continue enriching itself at
the expense of already vulnerable East Africans.

EACOP is not the only African charm for the French energy giant. Its mega Liquified Natural Gas
(LNG) project in Mozambique is targeted for completion in 2024 – and the added conflict has
displaced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes, farmlands and fishing areas,
leaving them without livelihoods and reliant on food aid. Total’s operation in Mozambique has
ignited flames for the province of Cabo Delgado as the gas industry is fuelling social tensions.
The already vulnerable locals are feeling frustrated being caught up in the manifestation of the
paradox of plenty. Their resource rich province is being plundered by political and global
economic elites as they suffer violence, human rights abuses and massive displacements, amid
escalating insurgencies and security threats conveniently labelled as terrorism. In response,
Total declared force majeure on it’s $20 billion LNG project, thereby absolving itself of its
commitments and contractual obligations, while still holding the major benefits of being the
project concessionaire even at a time when survival is at stake.

The effect of Total’s presence ranges from human rights violations, violent conflict,
environmental destruction, displacement, and death; all while fueling the climate crisis.
Environmental racism has put black, indigenous, and people of colour communities in the path
of polluters and the climate crisis – one of the biggest global threats to ensuring human rights
and dignity for all.

At the forefront of championing these crises is Standard Bank, as they continue to play an
advisory role in organizing funding for the $3.5billion EACOP project as well as finance the
Mozambique LNG to a tune of $485 million, thereby fuelling a climate catastrophe. In the
meantime, Standard Bank prides itself in being a leading oil and gas sector banking team on the
continent. With its tremendous assets totalling over $162billion regionally, Standard Bank has
the potential of influencing positive transformation across the African continent through clean
renewable energy that will not only meet the continent’s energy needs but also create
thousands of jobs. Instead, the bank opts for life long long torture of already vulnerable
communities by investing in fossil fuels.

While governments and fossil fuel companies champion these projects under the guise of
economic revival, growing environmental, social, and governance concerns – and stranded
assets – are beginning to make their way into the boardrooms of the public finance institutions
footing the bill, in large part due to pressure from civil society and grassroots movements. The
African Development Bank Group (AfDB) – who poured $400 million into Total’s Mozambique
LNG project, but strongly refuted claims of its involvement in financing EACOP – recently
released its draft Climate Change and Green Growth Strategic Framework for public comment,
which finally put in writing that the Bank will “cease all investment in coal or coal-related
technologies, ensuring that it will not perpetuate or provide longevity to coal”. The strategic
framework tiptoes around the subject of natural gas, with the seemingly cuddlier cousin to coal
and oil set to play a limited and transitional role in Africa’s energy access development goals,
but no mention of oil is made whatsoever. However, a golden thread weaved throughout the
draft policy is the AfDB’s commitment to Paris Alignment – and with the IEA’s new stance
against oil and gas for a 1.5°C warmer world, it may be back to the drawing board for the AfDB
to uphold their goal of operationalising the Paris Agreement.

The climate crisis is already here and hurting the most vulnerable people. In 2020, the warmest
year on record, extreme climate disasters displaced more people globally than war. It is time for
governments, public finance institutions, and fossil fuel giants to take heed of what we, the
people, have been calling for, and reimagine our development pathway for a sustainable and
equitable future. The people and the planet do not need to be weighed against profit and
economic development. This is a climate emergency, and we need to use all of our energy and
might to fight for the Africa we want – one that puts its people, heritage, and environment at the
centre of our development.

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A Mission To Transform 10 million lives by 2030 For Africa Grain and Seed
May 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Ajong Mbapndah L

Founder Anthony Denga and co founder Zanile Matiwaza Denga have the ambitious aim of using the ASG to make a difference in 30 million lives by 2030

Africa’s fight against problems faced by rural communities like hunger, poverty, education and others has found a new partner in Africa Grain and Seed-ASG. Working in synergy with other key stakeholders, the ASG is out with an ambitious program to rewrite the future of 10 million lives in Africa by 2030 through education, food security, technology and entrepreneurship.

PAV caught up with the founder Anthony Denga and co-founder Zanile Matiwaza Denga for more insights into the mission and vision of the ASG.

Could we start with an introduction of the Africa Grain and Seed that you lead?

Africa Grain and Seed (AGS) is a multidisciplinary collaboration leading an inclusive economic growth strategy piloted by business partners who have expertise in investments, technology, and supply chain. To ensure the success of our turnaround strategy we have piloted through collaboration, innovation, and smart- agriculture based on long-term, sustainable solutions.

As Africa, grain, and seed we seek to address the current problems faced by Africa’s rural communities such as hunger, poverty, clean water, education, nutrition, energy, education, climate-smart livelihoods.  We integrate resources, programs, and research to transform rural communal land into economically vibrant commercial hubs by organizing African unbanked communities with surplus land but not adequate resources and access to the market to become food producers of the world.

May we understand the relevance of the Enterprise and its mission in helping Africa meet some of its present-day challenges?

Africa’s present-day challenges factoring the impact Covid has had on these marginalized communities and Africa as a whole is a mammoth task and we have taken the initiative as the private sector to relieve malnutrition, hunger and poverty – Our role as AGS is to develop and strengthen communities by identifying marginalized rural communities with the potential to become self-sustaining communities that are able to grow sufficient food for the communities and surplus into local and international markets. Our implementation approach is showcased through the donation of seeds, seedlings, books, sanitary pads with intended extensive workshops and training. This ensures that our deliverables are met in sustainable approaches the guarantees that these communities and schools have access to nutritious meals on their tables, and through the surplus, they are able to realise income reviving their economies. The relevance of our programme is the strength of partnership of these communities, private sectors, off-takers, export markets and governments through providing inputs and guaranteeing markets. Our programme is offset in the rural school propagation programmes which are interlinked with our out-growers programmes done through cluster communities. We are making these communities productive (through infrastructure development), production (through secure trade and funding) export development (through the surplus partnering with local and foreign off-takers).

It is imperative that our structures are adopted to build resilient communities that can realise revenue for the unbanked to become banked. The programme will grow the marginalized communities from producing unprocessed seeds and vegetables to producing value-add outputs. Our 2030 vision is to see established green technology commercial hubs with factories, collection, and distribution platforms within the communities through established climate-smart agriculture solutions that teach and mentor the future of Africa which are through the grower’s programmes to grow and produce vegetable, herbs, small grains, and oils through surplus that can be traded on the international markets.

On a brochure of the Enterprise, we came across, there is mention of a plan to transform 10 million lives by 2030, how do you plan on doing this?

At Africa Grain and Seed we have taken a lead in the transformation of 10 million lives by 2030 through hard work, partnering with likeminded investors that are ready to work tirelessly in piloting a viable, scalable, and a secure platform which is centered around education and Agri income-generating programs. Despite all financial and physical limitations brought about prior and during covid, we have been able to initiate the work we are doing in Africa to meet our target of 1,000,000 vegetable seedlings and 10 000 fruit trees for income-generating purposes. We have attracted like partners like Kamari and their lotteries whose funds play  a critical role in Africa, which will further our agenda in transforming 10 million lives.

Our plan will be to see direct impact on these communities through our ecosystem, key areas youth and women training, infrastructure established, Agri -entrepreneurs developed, access to education, job creation, increased nutritional meals and meals per household. The unbanked becoming banked.

Chris Cleverly, CEO of Kamari has partnered with the ASG to deliver on its life changing mission for Africans

In what parts of the continent are your operations actually located at the moment?

Our programmes are located and implemented across Africa. In Zimbabwe with a donation of over 700 000 seeds and seedlings, 1000 sanitary pads, 800 reading books and 100 fruits trees. In South Africa we have donated sanitary pads and seeds to the National Traditional House of Leaders and will be increase over role out and partnership with Humble Smile foundation and rolled up programmes in Zimbabwe, South Africa, and people can follow our work in the month of May & June in Malawi, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, and Uganda

How does the Africa Grain and Seed identify partners that it is going to work with?

We look for like-minded partners with the heart to see Africa transformed by investing in the youth to transform their minds and narrative from a dependency standpoint to leaders tomorrow. We look for synergies with partners that see the critical role women will play in this transformation and build trading platforms.  We look for innovative ideas focused at resolving Africa’s challenges. One of the biggest challenges was creating a financial structure that can accommodate the current challenges faced. Our partnership with Kamari will be introduce an application called Kampay that is designed for smart, safe, and cheap remittance and it will sit between the communities and the consumer, acting as a transaction facilitator. It will feature near -zero fees for users, and our beneficiaries will enjoy automated settlements via smart contracts. There will also be various efficiency benefits for governments and enterprises.

What mechanism do you have in place to ensure that those who benefit from the seeds you make available actually deliver tangible results to help them meet targeted goals?

Investor, partners, and AGS Steering Committee – that is inclusive of agronomists, the schools, youth leaders, teachers, women lead committees. The AGS team

The relevant partners in countries to monitor, manage and account for the resources deployed are used to derive the best results.

AGS will develop a platform should see ease of access to our communities.

May we know some of the challenges faced so far?

Smallholder and micro-farming communities in Africa are notoriously underserved by banks and traditional financial institutions. Making it difficult for them to access credit and financing to invest in climate-smart agriculture and scalable operations. Through a partnership with Kamari, these challenges will be addressed by bringing in secured-risked adverse solutions like Blockchain technology and our main focus will be on providing financing for Africa’s unbanked. It is critical for us to revisit the majority population in Africa is the Rural communities. These are not backed with critical resources for them to expand and optimize their full potentials blockchain can provide in creating cheaper credit, cross-border trade, and foreign liquidity into markets generally not priced or not supported by local banks or capital markets.

We can expect to see incentivized strategies through Kamari which will be the strengthening factors and key elements of what we look for in partners to solve development issues and bridge the gap.

When you look around Africa, what is it the governments are getting right about food security, and what are there getting wrong?

Right is that they have acknowledged the exorbitant net food import bill realized by Africa to date and how it will fluctuate if we do not take the relevant steps to change the narrative to increase the net export.

They have carried this problem on their shoulders, we would like to see strengthening in partnerships to compliment the private sector through policies to increase Africa GDP by investing in the marginalized. We also look forward to the government structures create an accountable mechanism to protect local and foreign investments across Africa.

With the ASG operations in over five countries already, Anthony Denga and his team are open to more partnerships across the continent

For those who read this interview and will like to be part of the or join you towards the fulfillment of the lofty goals you have had, what do they need to do, how can they be a part of this?

Get in touch with us! We will look at likeminded business, philanthropist, and individuals who we have synergies in legacy building. There is no partner or impact that is too small or too big. There are avenues and inputs that can be brought to this table.

For example, we are excited to announce our partnership with Kamari who has come on board as funders.  The funds will be dedicated to some of our communities to outgrow commercial produce. These are at building resistant, sustainable communities which are aimed at presenting Africa with the best solutions focusing on education, technology, smart – agri which are key driving factors in developing an African circular economy.

**Courtesy of May Issue of PAV Magazine

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Youth are Africa’s best asset; invest in them – African Development Bank President Adesina
May 20, 2021 | 0 Comments

Africa’s underinvested youth are in need of urgent attention  and youth entrepreneurship investment banks must become the focus of global support, the African Development Bank head Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina said Monday in a discussion on scaling up financing for the continent’s youth.

Adesina was speaking at a virtual roundtable at which he presented a novel concept for youth entrepreneurship investment banks. The roundtable, organized by the African Development Bank, came a day ahead of the Summit on Financing African Economies convened by President Emmanuel Macron.

Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya, Jean-Michel Severino, CEO of Investisseurs et Partenaires; Ashish J. Thakkar, CEO of Mara Phones; Yana Kakar Global Managing Partner Emeritus at Dalberg Advisors; Yvonne Otieno, CEO, Miyonga Fresh Greens, and other representatives of the private sector joined in the meeting.

Otieno urged the world to believe in the youth and to put their hands in their pockets.  “Take a risk on us. You will never regret it,” she said in a moving presentation in which she described her career trajectory which began in a bookshop,  progressed through journalism, to starting her own business growing French beans on 1.5 acres of land.

“Failure is only a weakness if you don’t learn from it,” said Otieno.

With lack of access to finance a serious bottleneck, the proposed youth entrepreneurship investment banks would coordinate financial and non-financial actors and partners to more effectively support youth entrepreneurs.

 “We must support the youth to go beyond looking for jobs. We must unleash the entrepreneurial drive and capacities of the youth to create jobs, Adesina said. “We must grow, finance and support large scale successes of youth -led businesses in Africa.”

Speaking immediately after Dr. Adesina’s opening remarks, Spanish Foreign Minister Arancha González Laya expressed strong support for the initiative. “Spain welcomes the African Development Bank’s youth entrepreneurship investment initiative, geared towards unlocking entrepreneurship and promoting the growth of businesses of the youth.” she said.

Thakkar, chair of the African Development Bank’s Presidential Youth Committee, advised that the youth investment banks would need to be  scalable and self-sustaining.  He said it was very important to create the right incentive structures for governments to encourage the private sector to play a key role. 

Research suggests that Africa needs to create 18 to 30 million jobs annually through 2030, and Ladi Balogun, CEO of First City Monument Bank Group, reiterated the urgency of this challenge. He said time was of the essence in terms of mounting a response as well as accelerating decision-making processes for the extension of financing to entrepreneurs. He also advised working through local money managers to achieve scale.   

“We have a ticking time bomb on our hands,” Balogun said.

Participants also commended the African Development Bank for taking a lead role in the effort to support youth entrepreneurs, as well as calling on the Bank to play a number of roles.  

Yana Kakar said the African Development Bank has an important knowledge transfer role to play.  She added that the Bank has much to share about what is needed in tech-enabled segments versus what might be needed to enable entrepreneurs in more production-oriented segments.

The African Development Bank has demonstrated its strong commitment to the youth of Africa through its Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy to help create 25 million direct and indirect jobs, and empower 50 million youth by 2025. The institution has also set up a $40 million trust fund in partnership with several European countries to advance youth entrepreneurship and innovation.

*AfDB

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