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WFP CUTS REFUGEES’ FOOD RATIONS IN RWANDA AS FUNDING DECLINES
February 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

Kigali – Today, the World Food Programme (WFP) announced it would reduce food assistance to refugees in Rwanda by a dramatic 60 percent, as of March 2021.  Some 135,000 Burundian and Congolese refugees in camps in Rwanda rely on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic food needs each month. 

“This is a desperate situation and, without an immediate response from donors, we simply have no choice but to reduce our assistance to the refugees,” said WFP Country Director Edith Heines. “While WFP appreciates the support received so far, we are urgently appealing to donors to quickly come to the aid of the refugees and provide additional funding so that we can return to full rations and avoid any prolonged negative impacts.”

WFP provides refugees with a monthly cash transfer to buy food in local markets.  Each person receives RWF 7,600 (US$ 7.72) under a full ration allocation, which provides the basic foods to meet minimum nutrition requirements for that person.      

WFP requires US$9 million to avert ration reductions from March through June 2021, and US$20.6 million to continue full assistance to refugees throughout 2021. If no new funding is received, deeper reductions will be necessary in the coming months.

Despite the reductions, WFP will maintain full rations of targeted nutrition support to refugees identified as particularly vulnerable, such as children under two years, schoolchildren, and pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as people living with HIV and tuberculosis patients under treatment. A total of 51,000 refugees including 37,000 schoolchildren are being assisted.

This comes at a time when many refugees have been particularly hard hit by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.  WFP data from June and November 2020 noted an increased reliance on external aid among refugees since the onset of the pandemic. 

Ration reductions are likely to cause widespread food insecurity and potentially lead to increased tensions within the refugee community.  In late 2017 through mid-2018, WFP was forced to reduce rations by twenty-five percent due to funding shortfalls. A WFP survey in 2018 found that as a result the percentage of refugee families with poor household eating habits doubled.

In 2021, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and WFP are jointly moving towards needs-based humanitarian assistance instead of the current blanket assistance for refugees.  This exercise will further allow scarce donor resources to be prioritized for the most vulnerable.  The strategy will also strive to create more access to livelihood opportunities for refugees.

“This new approach will allow us to prioritise funding and focus on those refugees who need our help the most,” said Heines.  “But in order for it to be successful, the refugee operation must be fully supported at this critical stage to ensure we have the support of the refugee community as we transition to this new way of programming.”

The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) outlines a commitment of the international community to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the refugees to ease the burden on Rwanda. Additional support is needed to support the host government and its goodwill and to not undermine developmental gains.

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RECONSTRUCTING THE PRIMARY SCHOOL CURRICULUM IN AFRICA
February 13, 2021 | 3 Comments

By John Nkemnji, Ph.D.*

Prof John Nkemnji
Prof John Nkemnji

Indigenous curriculum based on local African resources contributed to the coercion and the development of the people and society. The curriculum ensured the transmittal of culture, skills, and a way of life through oral tradition with storytelling, proverbs, and hands-on apprenticeship. The youth were initiated into society according to age, gender, and interests. Life was simple. Teachers, parents, elders, and the community worked together to educate the youth, and there was little unemployment with no homelessness. With colonization, the curriculum changed to the studying of Eurocentric concepts, and the African mentality changed. French and English have been the predominant languages of instruction in most Sub-Sahara African schools. I will dwell on the primary curriculum (elementary level) and leave the secondary and university studies for later analysis.

Intriguingly, human life and civilization started in Africa, but the continent is now referred to as a graveyard. Early outstanding institutions, the pyramids, spiritual and economic growth, and harmonious living in a natural environment with an abundance of natural resources made Africa the envy of the West. Africans lived to be over 100 years, and were hardly ill, obese, bored, senile, or stressed, despite tough environmental conditions. Africans are not inherently wicked and destructive, so why are some educated citizens destructive and corrupt? The destruction of social-emotional learning built into an imported curriculum is partly responsible for what exists today in Africa.

Today, most Africans are full of self-hate, greed, selfishness, individualism and distrustful of others. Be benevolent and caring, and others will question why you are caring. Even amongst some friends and families, there is resentment, jealousy, malice, meanness, distrust, and hatred.  That is the everyday reality in Africa after many years of slavery, colonialism, and independence.

The primary school curriculum for nature study used to cover local plants and their uses for food, animal feed, medicine, and wood, but the textbooks now refer to them as deciduous, coniferous, and evergreen plants without applicable context. The Eurocentric curriculum has uprooted the African student from the concrete, and functional application of the content taught and learned to less relevant information. They learn amongst other intriguing fantasies that “Mungo Park discover the Nile,” – a river that has been with them all their lives. This type of curriculum prepares students for standardized tests through rote-memorization of meaningless facts and a learning system that discourages engagement and love for their way of life. The foreign curriculum encourages memorizing numbers and facts that initially prepared citizens to work for the colonial masters as clerks, translators, storekeepers, and catechists and not as constructive, critical thinkers. Eurocentric curriculum achieved its goals and helped some of the African learners rise to international heights. The problem is that they accomplish that personal glory at the expense of the African society’s interests and its citizens’ development.

In general terms, the African personality today has deviated from its ancestral foundational teachings.  Many Africans have adopted an individualistic mentality, and with that comes self-hate, greed, selfishness, and distrust of others.  Some governments are corrupt, and those in power cater to their greedy colonial counterparts’ needs more than those they serve.  Those governments that strive to improve their societies are seen as a threat to the colonial powers and are disestablished through coups, assassination, or war. Africa has carelessly lost nationalists like Lumumba, Nkrumah, Sankara, Tolbert, Ngouabi, Kabila, and others.

The continent is rift with crime, violence, senseless wars, pestilence, and misery. The youth are miseducated, unemployed, and die on numerous dangerous routes trying to migrate to other continents.  The awful state of affairs in the continent has necessitated many studies, sponsored by UNESCO, UNICEF, and many other NGOs.  Despite the reforms, not much has improved because of the destroyed foundation at the primary level.

It would be remiss not to acknowledge the benefits that came with the adoption of the Eurocentric curriculum. There has been an increase in the number of schools and high graduation rates. There has been the learning of foreign languages and a rise in globalization.  Despite these benefits, there has not been a favorable transformation in the learners’ attitude. The problem lies in the destruction of the African child’s educational foundation and must be strategically reconstructed starting at the primary school level. This discourse proposes a return to the roots of indigenous knowledge, which is student-centered, focus on proper character formation, cooperative, collaborative, and prepares the students with local resources to cherish and develop themselves and their society. The saying that “the heart of education is the education of the heart” must be a guide, especially at a primary age when the learners are most impressionable.

File Picture, A primary school in Cameroon
File Picture, A primary school in Cameroon

A way forward examines the advantages of social-emotional learning, which restores concrete-meaningful knowledge starting at the primary level. The students need to learn self-awareness by understanding their emotions and thoughts and how they influence behavior. Right from primary school, students should learn to identify emotions, self-perception, recognize strengths, and learn about self-confidence and self-efficacy.  They should be taught stress-management and self-discipline. These critical human developmental skills were replaced by skills that encourage students to be overly competitive, individualistic, selfish, docile, and subservient to external forces.

African students need the skills to filter distractions, prioritize tasks, set and achieve personal and societal goals, and control impulses. The new indigenous school program for studies will need to be implemented with parents, community elders, and local resources. Despite the abundance of raw materials in the continent, schools do not prepare graduates to produce goods for society. Some raw materials: timber, gold, oil, coffee, and others are shipped abroad to be processed and sent back for consumption at a tremendous expense.

Despite the problems, some educators who are brought up in the Eurocentric type mentality still advocate that students continue to be prepared to compete at the international level. They prefer that students learn to build skyscrapers like in Europe, build roads with multiple lanes and overpass or high-level road bridges, and other foreign fantasies when the major portion of the environment is desolate. Africans do not have to try to “catch up in technology” or continue to build on a faulty foundation. I propose a return to student-centered indigenous education, focused on proper character formation and using local resources to solve problems for themselves and society. I propose that those who have gone through Western education should reflect and seek to apply their learning to improve the continent.  This commentary is a starting point to expanding a revised mental shift to better students and the continent. The future of Africa lies in the proper education and empowerment of her children.

  • Dr. John Nkemnji is Professor Emeritus, Educational Technology. He is an educational consultant and a proponent of life-long learning. The article summarizes his lectures on Social-Emotional Learning, the Relevance of Education, Education in Africa, and Indigenous Knowledge Systems. The author expresses gratitude to those educators and students who commented on this draft. More comments will be helpful.
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African Energy Chamber’s Energy Transition Committee Advocates for a Unique Energy Mix for African Countries
February 13, 2021 | 0 Comments

The Committee’s discussion unpacked the complex intertwined issues around energy production, access to energy, energy poverty and global equity

The African Energy Chamber’s (www.EnergyChamber.org) Energy Transition Committee held its first meeting of the year, to discuss the pressing issues surrounding the global trend towards energy transition, from the viewpoint of African countries. The energy transition phenomenon has gained significant traction as a direct result of the coronavirus shutting down economies and growing concerns for the devastating effects of climate change. Countries and companies around the world are increasingly investing into renewable and low carbon projects, while simultaneously divesting and putting a stop to traditional fossil fuel projects. Some companies are even changing their names to reflect this trend: Total just recently launched its new name, Total Energies; Statoil has become Equinor; Savannah Petroleum has become Savannah Energy. What does this mean for the African continent, which emits just under 3% of the world’s carbon emissions and still has close to 700 million people without access to power?

The Committee’s discussion unpacked the complex intertwined issues around energy production, access to energy, energy poverty and global equity. As the African Energy Chamber, representing a wide range of stakeholders in the industry, it is imperative that we must continue to critique the rhetoric of energy transition and bring out a nuanced viewpoint on how this applies to the incredibly diverse African continent. For instance, should we agree to Africa’s transition mirroring that of more developed regions like North America and Western Europe? The premise implies that there is an existing embedded and established energy infrastructure in Africa, similar to Western Europe, from which the continent will transition from. The reality on the ground is that the average citizen across Africa lacks reliable, affordable, easily accessible energy to be able to pursue opportunities and live a dignified life. Therefore, we at the African Energy Chamber cannot embrace a one size fits all narrative, pushing the energy transition agenda where it is not in fact fit for purpose.

Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman and CEO of Genesis Energy Holding, Board Member with the Chamber emphasised: “The African continent will continue to require a balanced energy mix to meet its needs. In the short-term, that’s to say the next 30 to 50 years – we must continue to industrialise on the continent. Gas will play a critical role in making that happen and renewable energy, where appropriate also has a role to play.”

Moreover, fellow Committee Member Rémi Mouchel, Director of Operations and Chairman of the Executive Board at IFP Training and Chamber Board Member went on to add: “Part of the energy transition for African countries will include looking at ways to apply technology to produce cleaner fossil fuel energy. We must extend the perimeter of this energy transition discourse.”

Indeed, while projects on the African continent represent a mere 6% of International Oil Companies’ global footprint, since the start of the pandemic, project after project has been delayed or cancelled, heralding a change in investment priorities. This has had devastating effects on hundreds of millions of Africans. From loss of jobs, to lost revenue for governments and the increase of dependency on imported energy. Millions of people living across Africa need reliable, affordable and easily accessible energy to be able build businesses. That much is not up for debate.

Climate change is real and must be addressed. The African Energy Chamber, with the support of its members and Advisory Board will continue to champion a sensible path towards energy transition in Africa. We believe, that the realities of the millions of Africans who rightfully aspire for affordable and reliable energy must be an integral part of the global energy transition discourse. We shall continue to strongly advocate for that, even when it goes against the grain. We must showcase the bold, innovative and enterprising projects that require funding, we must push for using Africa’s energy resources to bring about socio-economic development and prosperity for all.

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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African women in science are making waves
February 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

To mark International Day for Women and Girls in Science, we asked contributors to the recently released Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa about the science that went into the Bank co-publication and their experiences as pioneering women in their field.

Maimuna Nalubega, Ph.D, Chief Water Development Officer, African Development Bank

Maimuna Nalubega, Ph.D, Chief Water Development Officer, African Development Bank
Maimuna Nalubega, Ph.D, Chief Water Development Officer, African Development Bank

Q: The Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa explores the links between sanitation and wastewater, and ecosystem health and human health. What role does science play in exploring those links?

The role that science plays in the link between sanitation and wastewater, ecosystem health and human health is rooted in the characteristics of water and its centrality to human and ecosystems health. Water of adequate quality and quantity is essential for human health and ecosystems health.

Water is called a universal solvent because of its ability to dissolve more substances than any other liquid. As it moves through the ground, the rivers and even the air, the quality of water changes with the contents of the medium. When we use technology to abstract water from its sources for domestic (or agricultural) uses, it is important that the water that is finally availed to users meets the required quality. scientists identify the most appropriate sources and means of abstraction of  water, and through research, identifies and optimizes the required treatment options to make the water potable or fit for the purpose.

Similarly, when we use water for domestic or industrial purposes,  it may not be suitable for return into the environment or water bodies. Without treatment, such water, or fecal sludge, will pollute the environment, spread diseases, and damage ecosystems. Scientists will quantify and characterize the wastewater, solid waste or fecal sludge and identify the best and most affordable options for treating this waste – including reuse.

Q: How did you apply your background as a public health and environmental engineer, postgraduate research on the role of wetlands on wastewater treatment and ecosystem protection, and current Bank position to collaborate on the Atlas?

In terms of my work on the Atlas, my experience in sanitary engineering training and research served three main purposes: for the conceptualization and design of the research project, along with our partners, UNEP and GRID-Arendal; to identify resource persons who could contribute to the preparation of the Atlas; and to review and provide feedback on the scientific content of the Atlas.

My primary role as a water and sanitation expert, and indeed the primary role of the Bank’s water development and sanitation department – which is in an operations complex – is not research. But we do collaborate with researchers to help identify solutions to specific problems.

Robinah Kulabako, Ph.D, Sr. Lecturer and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Makerere University; Lead author, Chapter 2, Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa

Robinah Kulabako, Ph.D, Sr. Lecturer and Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Makerere University; Lead author, Chapter 2, Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa

Q: You led on the Atlas’ second chapter on wastewater streams. Can you point out where a scientific approach or methodology helped form the chapter conclusions that were reached?

We had to deploy scientific methodology: what is the source of this problem or what has been done about it? What is missing then? What could we recommend?

There was a lot of scientific research to review. It was not enough just to get the information. In science-based research, one needs to do what we call data analysis, so that you can make inferences from this data that will guide the conclusions that you draw.

For example, looking at industrial wastewater streams and effluents, we looked at the chain of effluent from major polluters in countries. The idea of ‘management,’ is that we ultimately protect the environment, given the quality as well as quantity of this effluent. Reviewing research studies and reports resulted in huge tables of data that we had to make palatable for the sake of the Atlas. One such huge table now appears as Figure 2.5 in the Atlas showing industrial effluent management in the African region. More palatable and pretty clear.

Q: In addition to your research, you are also a Senior Lecturer and Chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Makerere University in Uganda. You see the future of science in civil engineering in your classes. How does the future look for women and girls in science from where you sit?

I can actually see that the future for women and girls in science is gradually picking up. When I joined the department as an undergraduate student, we were only four girls in civil environmental engineering out of about 26 students. In the class before mine, there was only one girl. Over the years, I have seen the number of girls grow to between 30 to 40 now, in a class of about 100 students. And I must also confess, the performance of the girls has also improved with time: a few years ago we had a graduating class in civil engineering where six of the top ten graduates were girls.

At Makerere University, we have policies to promote women and girls to pursue technology, engineering, math programs…scholarships for training programs.

There are some challenges, the first one being fear, another is time demands on work and family. Some women and girls fear that maybe they will not manage, or they are made to believe that it is mostly males that are successful at pursuing this career.

I have faced this myself. When I was in high school, I believed I wanted to be an engineer. My class teacher at the time – a female – told me, “No, you cannot do engineering, that course is for males.” But I had family who encouraged me to pursue my passion. So, I quietly decided to do engineering without my teacher knowing. When she found out, she was not happy – she also said to me that if I pursue this engineering course, I will never get a man to marry me. Can you imagine?

I can tell you that the moment I graduated from university, I got married. This experience helped me realize that a teacher can limit their students – which is not a good thing.

Olufunke Cofie, Ph.D, Country Representative, International Water Management Institute – West Africa; Co-author, Chapter 6, Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa

Olufunke Cofie, Ph.D, Country Representative, International Water Management Institute – West Africa; Co-author, Chapter 6, Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa

Q: How would you describe the contribution of science-based research in determining the Atlas’ findings and recommendations?

The entire Atlas, including the findings and recommendations, were based on the body of knowledge generated from several investigations by diverse experts.

From available evidence, we were able to explain the state and trends in wastewater management and sanitation delivery in Africa, and to highlight the human health and ecosystem impacts of poor sanitation and wastewater management. We analyzed the pertinent policy and institutional arrangements and provided recommendations to progress towards achieving Africa’s Water Vision 2025 and the UN Sustainable Development Goals in 2030(link is external).

However, one of the Atlas’ conclusions is that “there is little information and data on wastewater generation, collection and treatment, especially for industrial and agricultural wastewater streams, in the majority of African countries.”

So, any gaps in the Atlas are because scientific evidence is lacking or not accessible. Hence, the Atlas is not just about science-based research – equally important is accessible research results to inform policy and practice.

Q: Can you tell us a little bit more about why pursuing a degree in soil science appealed to you? To what degree is science your passion?

As a child, while helping my mum to prepare food for younger siblings, I often wondered how by adding water to custard powder, the color immediately changed from white to yellow slurry. It baffled me, so I developed an interest in chemistry, which happened to be my best subject in school.

I wanted to do science, but actually I was interested in pharmacy. But when I got to the point of selecting core subjects, my Uncle in an upper class at the same school told me, “You cannot do physics, drop it.”

I ended up dropping physics so I could not study pharmacy at university. I applied to study agricultural economics at the University of Nigeria-Nsukka, but when the admission letter came – I had been admitted into soil science. I must confess that was the first time I learned of soil science. I went in for it and later focused on soil chemistry, which allowed me to follow my childhood passion of studying something that would involve chemistry.

Q: When people say you are a role model for women and girls considering careers in science, you respond by saying…

Shine in your uniqueness. Your uniqueness is unique; your uniqueness distinguishes you.

*Source AfDB.Responses have been edited for clarity and brevity. Learn more about the Sanitation and Wastewater Atlas for Africa via this link.

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Sowing the Seeds of Industrial Farming in Mozambique
February 3, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Grace Goodrich

Commercial farming is one of the highest-growth sectors in Mozambique, yet only 16% of land suitable for agriculture is being cultivated.

With fertile river valleys, expansive coastal lowlands and the prolific Zambezi River as a source of irrigation, Mozambique is considered a mecca for crop cultivation, with climatic conditions catering to a diverse range of agricultural products.

Agriculture represents the second-largest sector of the Mozambican economy – accounting for more than 25% of GDP and employing 80% of the labor force – and is supported by staple crops including maize, cassava, rice, nuts, cotton, coffee, sugar and tobacco. Maize and cassava, for example, are grown by 80% of all Mozambican small-scale farmers and make up more than one-third of cultivated land. Yet the sector remains confined to subsistence farming largely due to a lack of investment, which impedes the development of critical infrastructure required to extend farming practices outside of the individual household.

In fact, smallholder farmers in Mozambique account for 95% of agricultural production, while roughly 400 commercial farmers – primarily producing sugar, soybeans, bananas, rice, vegetables, nuts, cotton and tobacco – account for the remaining five percent. With only 16% of land suitable for farming currently being cultivated – combined with a 1,500-mile coastline that enables export to Middle Eastern and Asian markets via ocean ports – Mozambique boasts considerable potential for large-scale, industrialized farming both in-country and for regional export.

From Net Importer to Net Exporter

A key constraint to the development of commercial agriculture in Mozambique is limited infrastructure: insufficient roads, railway and ports, antiquated farming practices and high vulnerability to drought, floods and cyclones, leaving the sector susceptible to external shocks.

While discovery of Mozambican gas has accelerated energy infrastructure growth since commercial reserves were discovered in 2011, domestic transport and logistics sectors remain underdeveloped, leading to longer lead times and higher costs associated with storage and warehousing. Moreover, limited electricity access and high fuel prices – given that the country relies on imported refined petroleum derivatives – can increase product costs by 10-20% per kilogram. To render small-scale farmers more resilient to climate change and improve farming techniques, resource-smart technologies such as drip systems, pumps, ultraviolet plastic filtration and post-harvest storage have been implemented and met with intermediate success, yet sustained knowledge and technology transfer remains needed.

Despite its considerable export potential to the wider region, Mozambique carries a significant trade deficit, importing capital-intensive goods such as farming and transport equipment, along with processed produce, meat and livestock from its Southern African Development Community neighbors. As a result, integrated value chains that facilitate the manufacturing of cash crops – cashews, tobacco and sugar – stand to generate in-country value by refining raw agricultural goods into consumable products and establishing domestic and regional consumer markets in the process. Improved access to financial services and credit – in which smallholder farmers and small- and medium-sized enterprises can grow their businesses and access critical capital for improved farming technologies – would also serve to alleviate rural poverty and drive financial inclusion.

Natural Gas to Drive Expansion

Ongoing gas monetization initiatives in Mozambique have a direct impact on the scale and expansion of industrial agriculture in the country, in addition to the potential that gas-to-power offers to power irrigation pumps, dry crops, heat greenhouses and so forth.

Under the administration of President Filipe Nyusi, natural gas has been positioned not as an end within itself, but rather as a means of generating long-term economic diversification, skills development and job creation across energy, agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing and construction sectors. President Nyusi’s focus on agro-industry and agro-chemistry seeks to achieve “zero hunger” in the country through the cultivation of self-sufficient farming and improved access to infrastructure.

More specifically, natural gas offers the ability to reduce costs of food production (and importation) and establish large-scale industrial farming through the development of locally manufactured chemical fertilizers. Natural gas – of which Mozambique holds 100 trillion cubic feet of recoverable reserves – plays an integral role in fertilizer production, as it is used as a primary raw material for the production of liquid ammonia and resulting carbon dioxide gas, which is then combined to create urea fertilizer.

Fertilization not only improves crop yields, but also boosts agricultural profitability and nutrient density. With enhanced crop efficiency and the early seeds of a downstream and manufacturing industry, Mozambique could serve as a regional – and even international – player in food production and security, a transition facilitated by the African Continental Free Trade Area that widens the reach of domestic agriculture and industry. For import-dependent African countries like Mozambique, food and energy security have risen to the forefront of the national agenda in the wake of COVID-19 and disruptions to regional and global supply chains.

Africa Oil & Power is working with the Mozambican government to promote investment in energy and diverse sectors, including agriculture, industry, tourism, construction and logistics in 2021.

On March 8-9, AOP will host a Presidential Award ceremony (invite only) and Workshops Day in Maputo, preceding the Mozambique Gas & Power 2021 conference and exhibition. If your organization would like to host a workshop, or if you wish to attend, please email sales@africaoilandpower.com.

*SOURCE Africa Oil & Power Conference

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Local Mali language translated into braille for first time ever
February 2, 2021 | 0 Comments

For the first time ever Bamanankan, a language widely spoken in Mali, has been translated into braille.

Dr Issiaka Ballo developing braille in Mali. Photo Credit Sightsavers
Dr Issiaka Ballo developing braille in Mali. Photo Credit Sightsavers

Bamanankan is spoken by about 80% of the population of Mali, approximately 15 million people. But despite being widely used, it has never before been translated into braille for people who are blind or severely visually impaired.

Six teachers who are blind have tested and validated the new Bamanankan code. Children who are blind, severely visually impaired, or have progressive eye conditions will now learn the new code and receive associated braille materials, enabling them to access the same educational materials as their peers. The adaptation will also allow these children to be enrolled directly in schools in their community where education is provided in Bamanankan.

The landmark project was spearheaded by linguistic expert, Dr Issiaka Ballo, assistant professor at Université des Lettres et des Sciences in Bamako, and Dr Diallo, a braille specialist at UMAV, as part of an inclusive education programme for primary school students with visual impairments. This was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Sightsavers, a UK-based international NGO.

Laurène Leclercq, Global Technical Lead for education at Sightsavers, said, “It is very rare to see local languages translated to braille, but it makes a huge difference to ensuring that children are included in education and that people have access to their own culture and expression. We are incredibly proud of this work and plan to continue working with partners to make education in Mali accessible to all.” 

As a result of Bamanankan being translated into braille, children with visual impairments can now take part in educational milestones from which they were previously excluded. The first focus will be on adapting the national early grade reading assessments (EGRA) into Bamanankan braille. This will mean these children can sit the same reading test as their peers. Once the children have sat the test, their teachers will be able to analyse their test results in order to identify their literacy needs and develop strategies to meet these needs. 

Dr Ballo explained, “The first impact I saw from the teachers and students is their rapid ability to write Bamanankan in braille. The second is the students would keep on saying that they discovered now that it is possible to write in their own language with braille.”

At present, over 500 students who are blind or severely visually impaired are enrolled in special schools in three of Mali’s main cities. In the future, an increasing number of these children will be educated in mainstream schools. It is hoped that the translation will lead to many more texts being transcribed into braille and made available for these children. The government has provided funds to support this process. 

The work was a joint initiative involving the Université des Lettres et des Sciences in Bamako, the University of Birmingham in the UK, the Malian Union for the Blind, and Mali’s Ministry of Education.  It was commissioned in 2017 as part of a USAID funded inclusive education project for primary school children with visual impairments in Mali. This project has strengthened education in the country by providing training for over 300 teachers, school administrators and ministry officials in inclusive education so that they can help visually impaired students. It has also provided educational resources to 212 children with visual impairment in four regions of Mali and developed a teacher’s guide on pan disabilities.

Over the next two years, Sightsavers will build on the project’s achievements by adapting the EGRA for children with hearing impairments and ensuring the national mathematics test is accessible for children with visual and hearing impairments. This work will be independently funded by Sightsavers.

Student Mamadou TOUNKARA takes the adapted EGRA test
Student Mamadou TOUNKARA takes the adapted EGRA test

About Sightsavers in Mali

Sightsavers has been working in Mali since 1991 and has been involved in inclusive education work in the country since 2005.

Sightsavers’ work on inclusive education in Mali is centered around three main objectives:

  1. increasing the number of children with visual impairments in primary schools in three regions.
  2. introducing the Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) System for students who are blind or have low vision.
  3. increasing the capacity and commitment of the Ministry of Education and other education stakeholders in the field of inclusive education for children with visual impairments.

About Sightsavers:

  1. Sightsavers is an international organisation that works in more than 30 developing countries to prevent avoidable blindness, treat and eliminate neglected tropical disease, and promote the rights of people with disabilities. It is a registered UK charity (Registered charity numbers 207544 and SC038110) www.sightsavers.org 
  2. Globally 2.2 billion people have a vision impairment and of these, at least 1 billion people have a vision impairment or blindness that could have been prevented or is yet to be addressed. This burden weighs more heavily on poorer countries, and on marginalised communities. And projections show that global demand for eye care is set to surge in the coming years.
  3. In the seven decades since its foundation, Sightsavers has:

–        Supported more than 1.2 BILLION treatments for neglected tropical diseases

–        Carried out more than 7.7 million cataract operations to restore sight

–        Carried out more than 196 million eye examinations

–        Dispensed more than 4.6 million glasses

  1. Sightsavers holds Independent Research Organisation (IRO) status, making us one of the only international non-governmental organisations to hold this status in the UK. We conduct high quality research to address global gaps in knowledge and put research findings into practice by feeding them back into the design of our programmes.

*Source Sightsavers

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NEW ZEALAND CONTRIBUTES NZD 6.8 MILLION TO FACILITATE MARKET LINKAGES FOR SMALLHOLDER FARMERS IN RWANDA
January 27, 2021 | 0 Comments

Kigali, 27 January 2021 – The Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA) proudly welcomes the Government of New Zealand as a new partner with its generous multi-year commitment of NZD 6,800,000 million to support smallholder farmers across Africa, with NZD 4,200,000 committed to Rwanda from 2020-2023.

The contribution provided through the World Food Programme (WFP) will enable WFP to scale up its support over the next 3 years targeting 200,000 smallholder farmers in rural areas across Rwanda while working to sustainably transform agricultural markets to become more efficient, resilient and profitable.

“New Zealand is proud to partner with the Farm to Market Alliance.  This partnership will support lifting smallholder farmers in Rwanda out of poverty while also transforming regional food systems for longer-term sustainability and food security,” said Olivia Owen, Chargé d’Affaires a.i. of the Embassy of New Zealand to Rwanda. 

Through FtMA Rwanda, smallholder farmers are supported with a range of services to promote farming as a business, use of improved inputs and enhancing crop post-harvest management.  Smallholder farmers and their cooperatives are then linked to formal financial services that allows them to scale-up and enhance their production.  Once crops are harvested, cooperatives are linked directly to public and private sector formal off-takers to sell their quality harvests at premium market prices. 

“With the support of FtMA, WFP has already been able to support more than 85,000 smallholder farmers in Rwanda since 2016.   This multi-year contribution will allow us to continue with this critical work and scale-up to reach additional farmers,” noted Edith Heines, WFP Rwanda Representative and Country Director.

The announcement of new funding to the Farm to Market Alliance comes at a time when access to food is deteriorating for millions of people as the world continues to grapple with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we must build more resilient, inclusive, and fair food systems now. At Farm to Market Alliance we are uniquely positioned to bring together both the public and private sectors to not only address the immediate crisis, but to build commercially sustainable food systems beyond the current pandemic. We welcome New Zealand as a new partner to address the urgent issues facing smallholder farmers and food systems in Rwanda and beyond,” says Adrian van der Knaap, FtMA Managing Director.

Africa is recognized as the future breadbasket of the world, but the continent is still a net-importer of food. FtMA is a unique alliance of six organizations with the mission to develop a sustainable and profitable agricultural sector in Africa by supporting smallholder farmers to transition to commercial agriculture.  The Alliance’s global members include The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Bayer, Rabobank, Syngenta Crop Protection, Yara and WFP.

The New Zealand Aid Programme’s engagement in Africa contributes to sustainable economic and human development for developing country partners, aligning in-country needs with areas of New Zealand’s expertise. As a small donor, New Zealand targets development efforts and collaborates with innovative partners like the World Food Programme to reduce poverty and contribute to a more secure, equitable and prosperous world.

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Zambia:FQM’S CONSERVATION FARMING PROJECT WINS KUDOS FROM CHIEF MUMENA
January 22, 2021 | 0 Comments

The mining firm has provided training and technical support to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers

Chief Mumena, pictured here, is one of the beneficiaries of the training and technical support the Kansanshi Foundation under its Agricultural Livelihoods Project and has himself implemented it with great success
Chief Mumena, pictured here, is one of the beneficiaries of the training and technical support the Kansanshi Foundation under its Agricultural Livelihoods Project and has himself implemented it with great success

SOLWEZI, ZAMBIA – Chief Mumena of the Kaonde people of North-Western Province has commended First Quantum Minerals for introducing Conservation Farming in his Chiefdom, which he says is turning North-Western Province into Zambia’s food basket.

Chief Mumena, who is also one of the beneficiaries of FQM’s Kansanshi Foundation Agricultural Livelihoods Project, said that the Conservation Farming practice that the mining company introduced has improved the livelihood of the people in his Chiefdom.

“The support towards the agriculture inputs has brought about notable changes among the people, for instance, our farmers are now able to harvest as much as ten tonnes per hectare from as low as two tonnes because of this initiative,” said the traditional leader.

Through the Foundation the mining company has provided training and technical support to close to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers, whose yields have grown from an average of six 50kg bags using conventional techniques in 2010, to a maximum of 56 bags and an average of 21 bags in the 2018/2019 farming season.

In a letter of thanks addressed to the mine Chief Mumena explained that most of the people in the area were constantly cutting down trees to burn charcoal to sell for a living, but that they are now able to sell crops and vegetables for their daily needs, and this has resulted in the protection of the forests for the next generation.

“Our farmers are now able to harvest enough food for the whole year and extra to sell. We no longer have shortages in the villages like it used to be before First Quantum introduced conservation farming,”
Kansanshi Foundation supervisor in charge of conservation farming training and operations at FQM, Maximillian Katanga, said that under its conservation farming project, the mining firm provides education, close monitoring, and input loans to farmers and that the system revolves around a sustainable permaculture rotation of maize, Solwezi beans, cowpeas, soya beans, and groundnuts with minimum tillage, use of mulch, and training farmers on the importance of early planting.
Mr Katanga added that since the project’s inception in the 2010/2011 season close to 40,000 farmers had benefited from the conservation farming programme.

As part of the programme, Kansanshi Foundation’s monitoring and evaluation team has mapped all 7,000 farms and is working on an online interactive site that the public can visit.

The success of conservation farming has led to added dimensions of the programme. In 2015 a plan to help farmers around the mine raise poultry prompted building several chicken runs (at a cost of about $50,000 per run), with each to be managed cooperatively by a group of 50 community members. The Agricultural Livelihoods Project also helps farmers grow vegetables and harvest honey, as well as enjoy access to affordable farming inputs and market linkages.

FQM has provided training and technical support to close to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers.
FQM has provided training and technical support to close to 40,000 farmers and early agricultural input delivery to 7,000 farmers.

First Quantum has spent over US$100 million on its sustainability and community development programmes to improve the health and the quality of life for its employees, their families and their immediate communities.

About First Quantum Minerals
First Quantum Minerals Ltd is a global metals and mining company producing mainly copper, gold and zinc. The company’s assets are in Zambia, Spain, Mauritania, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru.In 2019, First Quantum globally produced 702,000 tonnes of copper, 257,000 ounces of gold and 18,000 tonnes of zinc.
In Zambia it operates the Kansanshi mine – the largest copper mine in Africa by production – and smelter and the Sentinel mine in Kalumbila.
The company is listed on the Lusaka and Toronto stock exchanges.

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The Great Green Wall and the African Development Bank’s TAAT: two bold initiatives planting Africa’s seeds of change
January 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

Just five years ago, Sudan’s farmers harvested a mere 472,000 tons of wheat from about a quarter-million hectares of land. Today, the Sahel country  is on the cusp of becoming a regional breadbasket.

One of the reasons for Sudan’s agricultural turnaround is the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT) program, which is funded by the African Development Bank. Within the next four years, TAAT aims to raise Africa’s food output by 100 million tons and lift 40 million people out of poverty by harnessing high-impact, proven technologies to raise agricultural productivity and mitigate food-security risks associated with climate change.

“Now, we consistently have good-quality wheat and in record quantities,” said Daf’Allah Mohamed Ahmed, a Sudanese farmer taking part in the TAAT program, which includes the provision of training on production techniques. “My wheat yield increased from 2.5 tons to 5 tons,” said Ahmed, with a broad smile.

The new agricultural technologies not only improve harvests but also enhance the quality of life for thousands of families in Sudan.

Sudan and other TAAT success stories have led the Bank to advance other initiatives to fuel the continent’s agricultural transformation. At the One Planet Summit on January 11, 2021 the Bank pledged to help mobilize up to $6.5 billion over five years to advance the Great Green Wall project, which aims to plant an 8,000 km-long swathe of trees, grassland and vegetation across the Sahel to rejuvenate degraded terrain, create green jobs and reduce political instability.

The resources will be made available through a range of programmes supporting the Great Green Wall by drawing on internal as well as external sources of funding, such as the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa and the Green Climate Fund, among others.

The Bank has made the Sahel a top priority for investment and for mobilising new sources of finance to advance Africa’s climate adaptation opportunities. Climate change has led to extreme temperatures and fluctuating rainfall and drought in the region, home to 250 million people across several countries. Millions of livelihoods and hard-won development progress are threatened.

TAAT’s results in Sudan, one of the GGW countries, hold promise for the initiative’s

success. Through TAAT, Sudanese farmers gained access to heat-tolerant wheat varieties and other productivity-enhancing technologies, helping the country to boost yields and move closer to self-sufficiency in the production of wheat, a staple.

While ordinary wheat typically produces high yields at temperatures between 20 and 26 degrees Celsius, heat-tolerant wheat seeds thrive in areas where field temperatures exceed 30 degrees.

Since 2017, the program has rolled out improved, certified seeds that are better suited to Sudan’s hot and dry climate. As a result, the country recently recorded its largest wheat harvest. Wheat production in 2020 reached 1.1 million tons from 315,500 hectares of farmland. Development experts say the nation is on a path to becoming Africa’s next powerhouse wheat producer.

The Great Green Wall initiative, coordinated by the African Union, will promote the inclusive, green development in the Sahel and Sahara regions, a goal that has gained added urgency as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Bank President Akinwumi Adesina noted as much during the One Planet Summit, saying “as we rebuild from the coronavirus and its impacts on our world, we must recalibrate growth. We must prioritise growth that protects the environment and biodiversity, and we must de-prioritise growth that compromises our common goals.”

*AfDB

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Zambia:Copper Giants Sets Sights on improving working conditions for miners
January 18, 2021 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu.

First Quantum Minerals Limited which operates Kansanshi Mining Private Limited Company [PLC] , the biggest Copper mine in Africa descended on collective bargaining agreement arising from collective bargaining unit negotiations for the year 2021 to 2022. This comes in the wake of regular news release from Langmead and Baker Limited  based in Zambia .  

 Sweet deal negotiations look at better salaries, corporate social responsibility, agronomical, educational allowances, pension schemes and standardized   conditions of service between Kansanshi Mining [Private] Limited] Company and five big giant mining unions of Zambia.

 Mine Workers Union [ MWU]

National Union of Mining Allied Workers [NUMAW]

United Mine Workers Union of Zambia

Miners and Allied Workers Union

Consolidated Mine Workers Union of Zambia [CMWUZ]

The above collectively represent 2,500 unionized workers/ employees at its mine in Solwezi. Collective Bargaining Unit representatives are from Kansanshi Management. The negotiations concluded on Wednesday 13 January 2021.

Kansanshi Mining [Private][Limited] General Manager, Antony Mukutuma said the conditions of service agreed are favorable to a mass of mine workers whose past conditions have been degrading and low. He added that the agreement meant to end on 31st December 2022 is a collective agreement that brings together all workers into a union that has people at heart.

‘’ Let us all together value the people who do work on ground by giving them better conditions. This is what we have agreed to, like salary increment, minimum basic salary for lowest paid employees has been adjusted to suit better, good conditions. Besides there are educational allowances and introduction of pension scheme ‘’

Salary increments of 15% for 2021 and 11% for 2022. Minimum basic salary for the lowest paid employees adjusted to K4,460/ month.

Educational allowances increased to K2,800/term for 2021 and to K3,108 / per term for 2022. There is introduction of a company sponsored private pension scheme for all employees. The company will contribute 5% basic pay to each employee.

‘’ Let us focus on production. Let us as well support local communities during this covid-19 pandemic. Let us as well build business resilience’’. Antony Mukutuma is a General Manager of such stylistic notion.

First Quantum Minerals Limited mines gold, copper and zinc. It is International. Is found in Zambia, Spain, Mauritius, Australia, Finland, Turkey, Panama, Argentina and Peru. At World-wide scale of mining business, it has produced 702,000 tons of copper, 257,000 ounces of gold and 18,000 tons of zinc. Kansanshi is the largest copper mine in Africa. It runs as well Sentinel Mine and Smelter in Kalumbila. Zambia is the second   largest copper mining country in Africa and ranks amongst the third in the world

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Senegal already produces Gas: Investors should look Onshore
January 16, 2021 | 0 Comments
The emergence of Senegal as a regional energy power is an exciting story

DAKAR, Senegal, January 15, 2021/ — Senegal is the hotspot for energy investment in West Africa right now, owing to a string of huge offshore hydrocarbons discoveries since 2014 (as well as its compelling renewables potential). The emergence of Senegal as a regional energy power is an exciting story. But for almost two decades, in fact, the country has been producing its own natural gas onshore, an hour’s drive from Dakar. Further investment could unlock Senegal’s onshore potential.

Introducing Onshore Senegal

Fortesa International, led by CEO Rogers Beall, started exploring in Senegal in 1997 and from the start, Beall aimed to create a business that was fully Senegalese. Today, the company has a staff of 125, with two expatriate mentors and some African expatriate staff, but the vast majority (around 98 percent) is Senegalese nationals. Beall has continually advocated for Senegal with U.S. companies and now serves on the U.S.-Africa Committee for the African Energy Chamber.

As AOP drove out to the Fortesa production site this week, Beall pointed to a plateau in the far distance, while we passed through a shallow valley. That, he said, is the edge of the 120-square-kilometer Thiombane Dome geological formation. It sits on the eastern side of the carbonate shelf edge that runs north to south along the coast of West Africa.

Volcanic eruptions in the sea 175 million years ago, joined up by sand blown in from the Sahara, created the Dakar peninsula. That same feature on the carbonate shelf edge extends deep into the Atlantic Ocean, and this is the basis for the massive offshore oil and gas fields generating so much excitement globally. This is where North America used to connect to Africa, and where we are driving now used to be the state of Georgia before it was the deep ocean bed. The African plate itself never moved.

“The single place between Morocco and Guinea where that shelf comes onshore is east of Dakar,” says Beall. Here, on land and a short drive from the capital, Fortesa is operating seven wells (one out of service temporarily due to an accident – the company’s first serious one – on December 20, 2020) tied back to a gas processing plant. The manifolds and tanks were built in Senegal, the whole facility was assembled by a local team, and on our visit, we met with dozens of Senegalese workers who had trained with Fortesa and were operating the facilities.

The Gadiaga field usually produces 3 million cubic feet (mcf) per day and could produce 7 mcf per day. This small field has produced just over $95 million of natural gas. But, as Beall says, “This is small potatoes compared to what Senegal needs.” The geology says that Gadiaga may sit next to a much larger gas field situated on the edge of the shelf in the Thiombane Dome. This strong potential is what Fortesa wishes to explore and develop, with fellow investors.

Natural Gas Could Do More

Fortesa’s operation may look familiar in the Niger Delta, where local companies have been producing onshore from marginal fields since 2002. But in this region, Fortesa’s gas production business is unique, and like the most effective Niger Delta marginal field companies, it enjoys the support of the local community to staff and safeguard the well sites, pipe yard and processing plant.

Energy independence is the key to Senegal’s success, says Beall. Energy poverty is a trap that ties people down to subsistence living from Senegal to Somalia. Natural gas, available in abundance onshore as well as far out to sea, can be a fuel to remove those limits.

“Right now, this country is paying $14 per mcf by using heavy fuel oil. [In doing this] they are making six times the pollution, six times the negative effect on the planet, and nearly double the cost,” says Beall. “We are able to make the investment and take the risk of drilling onshore, and [in this region] only Fortesa is doing this.”

Natural gas is cleaner and cheaper than the alternatives. It provides direct and indirect jobs for hundreds at Gadiaga, and more of it is available onshore. The company is keen to expand within its acreage to find and develop the onshore elephant that the geology points to, as well as optimizing current production. But with European and other Western financing institutions now shutting down funding for hydrocarbons, few options are available to fund expansion.

The Foundation Is Already There

Fortesa built a foundation for Senegal’s emergence as an energy player. Beall believed in the potential of Senegal before many in Europe and North America had thought to examine the country’s subsurface. His company worked with or trained many of the people now going on to run the sector or work at the national oil company Petrosen and others.

Onshore gas growth is possible and would lead to direct job creation and sustainable energy provision to households and businesses – and save on costly and high-polluting fuel oil imports.

“This is one of the most cost-effective operations in Africa. Fortesa has essentially unlocked the value of Senegal’s energy resources. The projects run by Rogers and his team are sound and are an example of projects that can generate cash and deliver the return on capital that investors are looking for,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, to AOP. “I see a team that is focused on improving asset-level economics, reducing capital outlay, and stretching their dollars to do more with less.”

AOP’s mission is to bring investment to African energy of all kinds, with a view to making life better for people and businesses. Issues of climate change and sustainability must be addressed urgently. But comparatively clean natural gas and the people that produce it (and industries that can use it) should not pay the price for Western institutions’ opposition to funding hydrocarbons. “We need to give a chance to people to advance,” Beall told us. “Let’s do things that work.”

*SOURCE African Energy Chamber

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Siemens Gamesa seals its first wind farm project in Ethiopia, expanding its leadership in Africa
January 6, 2021 | 0 Comments
The 100 MW wind farm will help power over 400,000 Ethiopian households.

ADAMA, Ethiopia, January 4, 2021/ — The company will deliver 29 SG 3.4-132 wind turbines to state-owned utility Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) for the Assela project; the 100 MW wind farm will help power over 400,000 Ethiopian households; the wind farm is set to be commissioned by Spring 2023, and will save more than 260,000 tons of CO2 emissions per year.
Siemens Gamesa (www.SiemensGamesa.com) has signed its first wind power project in Ethiopia with state-owned electricity company Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP), strengthening its leadership in Africa as the country begins to expand its green energy capacity to meet ambitious renewable targets.

The 100 MW Assela wind farm will be located between the towns of Adama and Assela, approximately 150 km south of the capital, Addis Ababa, and will contribute to clean and affordable power for the country’s electricity grid.

The country has set an ambitious target to supply 100% of its domestic energy demand through renewable energy by 2030. According to the African Development Bank, Ethiopia has abundant resources, particularly wind with a potential 10 GW of installation capacity and having installed 324 MW at present.  

“Siemens Gamesa is intent on expanding its leadership across Africa, and in turn help a growing transition to green energy across the continent. So, we are extremely pleased to begin work in Ethiopia and look forward to collaborating with both EEP and the country to continue to promote their drive to install more renewables and meet transformational energy targets,” said Roberto Sabalza, CEO for Onshore Southern Europe and Africa at Siemens Gamesa.  

According to a Wood Mackenzie forecast, around 2 GW of wind power would be installed in Ethiopia by 2029.

The wind farm will be made up of 29 SG 3.4-132 wind turbines and is expected to be commissioned by the start of 2023. The project will generate about 300,000 MWh per year. Siemens Gamesa will provide full engineering, procurement, and turnkey construction.

The Assela wind project will be financed by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs via Danida Business Finance (DBF) adding to a loan agreement signed between the Ethiopian Ministry of Finance and Economic Cooperation (MoFEC) and Danske Bank A/S.

Ethiopia has many renewable resources covering wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass, and the country aspires to be a power hub and the battery for the Horn of Africa. The country’s National Electrification Program, launched in 2017, outlines a plan to reach universal access by 2025 with the help of off-grid solutions for 35% of the population.

Siemens Gamesa is among the global leaders in the wind power industry, with a strong presence in all facets of the renewable energy business: offshore, onshore, and services. With more than 107 GW installed worldwide; Siemens Gamesa is an ideal partner for Ethiopia at this critical juncture in the East African nation’s accelerating energy journey.

About Siemens Gamesa in Africa:
Siemens Gamesa has been pioneering wind energy projects in Africa for 21 years.

Installations total 4 GW in countries such as Egypt, South Africa, Morocco, Kenya, Mauritania, Mauritius Islands, Tunisia and Algeria representing 60% of all wind power on the continent.

Siemens Gamesa is driving Africa’s energy transition to deliver cleaner, more reliable, more affordable energy for millions of African people and support long term sustainability and economic growth. It has the broadest product portfolio in the industry with leading technology and innovation, the scale and global reach to provide proximity to customers, and high standards of health, safety and environmental protection.
*SOURCE Siemens Gamesa
 
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2.7 Million Cameroonians face food insecurity
December 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Food market in Cameroon’s center region

Some 2.7 million Cameroonian are facing food insecurity according to the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Gabriel Mbairobe.

The figures were disclosed by the National Programme for Monitoring and Strengthening Food Security during a program attended by representative of the World Food Programme, WFP, state actors, among others.

According to officials, the 2.7 million people representing10.4% of the population are affected by food insecurity and 31% of children suffer from growth problems.

The northern regions are said to be the most exposed to this crisis with 33% in the Far North and 15% in the North and Adamawa regions.

Marie Jeanine Atanga, Coordinator of the National Food Security Monitoring and Strengthening Programme at MINADER said “with the shock that our economy has had and which has further impacted the food system, we have the possibility of moving to acute food insecurity”.

The North West and South West regions, the officials said are equally affected due to the prolonged sociopolitical crisis, which has greatly slowed down agricultural activities in the regions.

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March this year, has accentuated the degradation of the livelihoods of the population especially in regions plagued by insecurity. The government is said to count on the assistance of partner institutions to encourage and boost agricultural activities at the local level to alleviate the crisis.

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Cameroon: D&L Foretia Foundation will Continue Catalyzing Africa’s Economic Transformation
December 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Fri Asanga, COO Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation

Fri Asanga, COO Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation

The Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation will continue its focus on Africa’s transformation through social entrepreneurship, science and technology, innovation, public health and progressive policies that create economic opportunities for all. This per the Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer (COO) Fri Asanga, in an interview with Pan African Visions to look back at the year’s activities that the Foundation has organized and what is installed for 2021.

Before joining the Foundation, Fri Asanga was the Coordinator for FinScope and MAP Cameroon where she oversaw the activities of the financial scoping consumer survey in Cameroon on behalf of UNCDF and FinMark Trust.

PAV: 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone and the Foundation is not left out, what measures were taken or have been taken to ensure staff does not contract the coronavirus?

Fri Asanga: The Foundation educated the staff on the virus, its signs and symptoms, how to prevent it, and other measures necessary for them to protect themselves and their loved ones. In a bid to curb the spread of the disease and protect staff, the Foundation closed its offices in March 2020 and everyone started working from home. When office activities resumed in September 2020, the Foundation ensured that all staff wear masks to work, Wash their hands before getting into the office premise, and maintain social distancing while in the office.

PAV: At the start of the Coronavirus in Cameroon, the Foundation moved swiftly to create the COVID-19 taskforce. What successes were recorded? And were there any challenges faced trying to communicate to the population?

The Foundation has been a leading voice on COVID 19 themed initiatives

The Foundation has been a leading voice on COVID 19 themed initiatives

Fri Asanga: The covid 19 community pilot project under the covid task force was launched on the 16th of April 2020. The pilot project was launched in a bid to accompany the government in the fight against Covid-19 through community involvement. Through the  project, the following activities were accomplished;

  • Training of community leaders on the identification of signs and symptoms of Covid 19
  • Distribution of flyers and posters in the simbock neighbourhood.
  • Training the community on how to locally produce hand sanitizers and wash hands properly.
  • Creation of local volunteers at the community level.
  • Translation of messages to local languages (Ewondo and Bamileke) Radio sensitization.
  • Myth debunking.
  • Creation of a WhatsApp group for better monitoring and follow up.
  • Organization of a covid Symposium to crown the project.

The COVID-19 Taskforce published more than 10 bulletins to educate the general public and advise policymakers about the pandemic. Each bulletin was written both in French and English to reach a maximum number of people. The bulletins covered specific aspects including the management of the pandemic, its implications for households and companies, and the measures to curb the spread of the virus just to name a few.

Also, the task force organized a series of webinar events where key policymakers and health practitioners were invited to share their thoughts and experiences to promote evidence-informed decisions in the country.

During the entire project, the following challenges were encountered: Most volunteers were students and were not available to fully participate in the program due to school activities. Also, some interested people did not have android phones nor computers to participate in the online symposium.

Another difficulty was encountered at the level of planning and organizing the radio sensitization programme as it coincided with an exam programme of community volunteers where a greater proportion of them was in examination classes. It was a challenge getting community members to attend the virtual symposium via zoom.

PAV:  What are some of the activities that the Foundation has carried out this year?

This year we organized the SBEC Activities for the year 2020 which involved; Regional forum on Business Networking on January 31st in Douala. Theme “The Pivotal Role of business networking to entrepreneurs in Cameroon”

– Regional Forum on the business network on February 27th in Yaoundé. Theme “Business networking, a valuable tool for entrepreneurial Growth in Cameroon”

– Business plan training online from May 12th to July 1st (5 modules). Theme “Business plan, an ultimate tool for fueling ambitions and entrepreneurial growth in Cameroon”

– Bookkeeping training online on July 29th.Theme “A Practical Guide for Bookkeeping”

– Webinar on “Surviving beyond the Covid-19 as an entrepreneur in Cameroon” on September 11th.

-Webinar on “The effects of Information Asymmetry on business growth in Cameroon” on 27th November.

The Nkafu Policy Institute organized a 1-week intensive training course on policy analysis. Two Nkafu Debates were organized on the themes; “Will more Taxes Increase fiscal revenues in Cameroon” and “Is market competition good for Cameroon’s Industrialization?

Under our Leadership and Democracy project, we organized about 10 events on Peace and Democracy. As part of our COVID-19 project, we organized about 10 webinars and invited experts to gain more insights on the pandemic, and how Cameroon and Africa are adapting.

We equally organized 2 events to disseminate the research findings of a Thematic Report on Starting a business in Cameroon, and another on Dealing with Construction permits in Cameroon

PAV: Let’s now focus on some activities you carried out this year. Firstly, talk to us about the Emerging Leaders Program for this year and what are some of the peculiarities?

Fri Asanga: The Emerging leaders’ program is a program organized by the Foundation to better equip today’s youths for transformational Leadership in Cameroon. This training program which identified 20 highly skilled and motivated Cameroonians below the age of 35, took place from the 25th to the 28th of October 2020 with renowned speakers based in Cameroon and the United State of America.

The second phase of this program is underway as these youths equipped with knowledge in leadership and democracy will organize similar events financed by the Foundation in their respective regions of origin.

PAV: The Foundation organized the STEM Program last year 2019 but this year there was none. Why so?

Fri Asanga: The STEM Program did not take place this year due to the advent of the COVID 19 Pandemic. The program was scheduled to take place mid-year but during this period, the COVID 19 pandemic was at its peak and all schools were closed.

PAV: What are some of the challenges that the foundation has had to grapple with this year aside from the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Fri Asanga: Moving to the virtual way of doing events was a great challenge as the entire Foundation struggled to adapt to this new system. Participants struggled with attending and using online video conferencing applications.

PAV: How have you found the situation of working from home or using the zoom platform for webinars by the Foundation better as opposed to using physical locations?

Fri Asanga: Firstly is the ability to bring in resource persons from all over the world to contribute to discussions during webinars. The distance barrier is broken through webinars. Next is the fact that participants who were interested in our events could now attend irrespective of their location or what they are doing.

PAV: This year 2020 is about rounding up, what are we expecting from the Foundation in the few weeks left?

Fri Asanga: The foundation has some events planned out for December. They include the following;

  • December 04, 2020Le Processus De Démocratisation Au Cameroun 30 Ans Après : Quel Bilan à l’Épreuve Des Crises ?(Online)
  • December 08, 2020COVID-19 and Africa: The Path Forward A Conversation with Dr Bernard Kadio (Online)
  • December 11, 2020 SBEC National Forum (Foundation Headquarters)
  • December 16, 2020 Social Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Development in Sub-Saharan Africa: Lessons for Business Incubation in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Ghana. (La Falaise Hotel, Yaoundé)
  • December 18, 2020 One year into the COVID-19 Pandemic. What Lessons can be learnt? (Online )

Fri Asanga addressing 2020 Cohorts of the Emerging Leaders Programme

Fri Asanga addressing 2020 Cohorts of the Emerging Leaders Programme

PAV: What should we envisage from the Foundation this coming year 2021?

Fri Asanga: The Foundation will continue to work on 4 major projects

  • The DBI project which focuses on Liberating Entreprises to advance prosperity in Cameroon
  • The COVID-19 Project which is focused on Protecting Liberties while addressing the Corona Virus Pandemic
  • The Social Entrepreneurship Project that focuses on Business Incubator Practices in Cameroon, Burkina Faso, and Ghana
  • The leadership and democracy project which is aimed at Promoting Democracy and Governance in Cameroon

PAV: Is there anything you will like to talk about that we left out? If not, what is your last word as we sign off 2019?

Fri Asanga: The Foundation will continue its mission of catalyzing Africa’s Economic Transformation through social entrepreneurship, science and technology, innovation, public health and progressive policies that create economic opportunities for all.

*Culled from December issue of PAV Magazine

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EIB launches EUR 50 million Africa pharmaceutical manufacturing initiative
December 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
  • Programme to strengthen supply chain and reduce dependency on drug imports
  • Investment to scale-up local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients
  • Scheme to improve healthcare, create skilled jobs and boost industrial growth

This scheme has been designed with African and global experts and builds on the EIB’s unique global technical experience and financing expertise supporting health and innovation investment.” said Thomas Östros, European Investment Bank Vice President.

This scheme has been designed with African and global experts and builds on the EIB’s unique global technical experience and financing expertise supporting health and innovation investment.” said Thomas Östros, European Investment Bank Vice President.

The European Investment Bank today launched the first ever scheme to strengthen local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in Africa and scale up drug manufacturing essential to improve public health.

The EIB’s new EUR 50 million pharmaceutical investment initiative, initiated together with kENUP Foundation, will contribute to reducing dependency on drug imports and address medical supply chain weaknesses linked to COVID-19. The programme will improve availability of specialist drugs and tackle supply chain challenges that currently damage public health across Africa.

Scaling up pharmaceutical investment in Africa will help to protect millions of people from disease and disability and strengthen resilience to ongoing and future pandemics.

“Accelerating high-impact pharmaceutical investment across Africa is crucial to improve public health, address medical supply chain weaknesses and unlock long-term economic development.  The European Investment Bank is pleased to launch the first ever-financing initiative to scale up local production of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients in Africa. This scheme has been designed with African and global experts and builds on the EIB’s unique global technical experience and financing expertise supporting health and innovation investment.” said Thomas Östros, European Investment Bank Vice President.

“COVID-19 has highlighted how public health in Africa is vulnerable to global supply chains and dependent on international production. Increasing local specialist manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients will help to improve the public health of millions of Africans. This new initiative demonstrates how specialist pharmaceutical and financing expertise can create jobs and a better future for Africa.” said Dr Mariângela Batista Galvão Simão, World Health Organisation Assistant Director- General responsible for Access to Medicines and Health Products.

“Team Europe’s new support to scale up African manufacturing of advanced pharmaceutical ingredients and build on the strengths of existing manufacturing expertise, in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa, will help to protect millions of people from disease and disability. The demand for pharmaceuticals is expected to double in Africa by the end of the next decade. This provides huge business opportunities for African pharmaceutical companies.” said Simon Mordue, European Union Ambassador to Kenya.

The Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients financing initiative was formally launched earlier today with participation of representatives from the European Investment Bank, World Health Organisation, EDCTP, Global Access in Action at Harvard Law School and kENUP Foundation. Kenyan-based non-profit APIFA (API for Africa) contributed their expertise throughout the process of establishing this financing facility and will act as a non-exclusive promotor to the facility.

“In the spirit of leaving no region behind in the pursuit of Sustainable Development Goals, we warmly welcome the launch of the API for Africa initiative. This will add value to future Research & Development with more active involvement of the African region.” said Michael Makanga, Executive Director of the European & Developing Countries Clinical Trials Partnership (EDCTP).

“This is a timely facility that will transform the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry on the continent and thus enhance access to essential medicines for vulnerable populations. We call on all relevant stakeholders to now work together to support manufacturers in this transformation journey and ensure the long-term viability of this initiative”, says Gerald Macharia, a founding director of APIFA.

Supporting global efforts to strengthen health system reliance

This new initiative is aligned with World Health Organisation goals and the recently announced cooperation between the EIB and WHO to combat COVID-19 and strengthen health system resilience to better face future pandemics.

Specialised pharmaceutical financing responding to exceptional COVID-19 healthcare needs

Long-term financing will be available in USD, EUR and local currency and can cover more than 50% of the total cost of eligible investment, as part of the EIB’s exceptional response to COVID-19. EIB financing can co-finance projects alongside philanthropic, equity, development financing or support from commercial banks.

Tackling medical supply chain weaknesses highlighted by COVID-19

In recent months the global COVID-19 pandemic has stained fragile supply chains and led to acute local shortages of medical and pharmaceutical supplies, including drugs to treat HIV. Increasing local production will reduce dependency on imports and exposure to counterfeit drugs.

Enabling African business to benefit from future pharmaceutical growth

The scheme will enable Africa to benefit from predicted doubling in local pharmaceutical sales over the next decade, improve access to healthcare and create specialist jobs on the continent. Demand for pharmaceutical products in Africa is expected to double to EUR 60 billion by 2020.

Unlocking high-value innovation investment in Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients

The EIB initiative will provide long-term financing for pharmaceutical production across sub-Saharan Africa and specifically target manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients that constitute 45% of final drug costs.

The new financing programme will also ensure that African pharmaceutical manufacturing can benefit technological innovation that is transforming the industry and making local production easy through digital connectivity, automation and cloud computing.

Building on the EIB global response to COVID-19

The European Investment Bank is the world’s largest international public bank and a leading financier of public health and innovation investment.

Since the start of the COVID pandemic the EIB has been working with partners across Europe and around the world to accelerate vaccine development, strengthen public health and help business to invest during the crisis, with more than EUR 27 billion of COVID related investment approved in recent months.

Last year the EIB provided more than EUR 3 billion for public and private investment across Africa.

 

Background information

The European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending institution of the European Union owned by its Member States. It makes long-term finance available for sound investment in order to contribute towards EU policy goals.

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Cameroon: D&L Foretia Foundation’s SBEC Organizes 2020 National Forum
December 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

SMEs have been challenged to make use of ICTs to sell their products (1)

SMEs have been challenged to make use of ICTs to sell their products 

With the problems faced by Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) such as terms of obtaining finance, lack of appropriate managerial skills, non-compliance with the Tax regulations, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Center (SBEC) of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation organized the 2020 National Forum on the theme “The Entrepreneurship Ecosystem and Strategies for the growth of SMEs in Cameroon”.

The first panel focused on “Access to Finance, & Tax requirements, registration and exemptions for SMEs in Cameroon, while the second panel focused on Business Management, and attracting investors and customers to a Business

“The 2020 SBEC National Forum aims at bringing together young entrepreneurs to share experiences and identify strategies that are imperative for the growth of SMEs in Cameroon,” Fri Asanga, Chief Operating Officer at the Foretia Foundation

Speaking on how to attract customers to your business, Sandra Batey, Project Manager at ECAM said small businesses must make the product attractive for people to buy and this is what most SMEs forget to do. For it to be good it must have the right colours and know how to package it, all which entails branding of the product.

Sandra Batey encouraged SMEs to make use of ICTs such as Facebook and Twitter, all avenues to get their products known to the wider community. “This will make people see your product and help attract customers to your product. Customers now are forgoing buying through stores and are doing so in large quantity using online mediums.” She said.

“SMEs should work on their customer service delivery. Nobody wants to enter a business premise and see people frowning or shouting. You have to spend on your customer service,” Sandra Batey, Project Manager at ECAM.

According to a concept note from the Foundation, statistics from the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Social Economy and Handicrafts, indicates that there are more than 400,000 active companies in the informal sector and out of these, 99% are SMEs, their active presence helps generate growth and redistribute wealth in the society. Their important role in reducing poverty in Cameroon is also gaining recognition.

To Ntinwa Mackinley, Business and Productivity Coach, small business owners must know the kind of investors they want and must have an already active business before seeking investment…Entrepreneurs have the primary responsibility of understanding their business environment

Mackinley went on to encourage the SMEs to invest time in doing research. He said they have to know how to approach people and know the right investors to approach. “SMEs must have a business plan. Many business people do not invest their time in drawing good business plans before meeting potential investors. Entrepreneurs must be responsible in the way they act, dress, and speak,” Ntinwa Mackinley, Business and Productivity Coach.

On his part, Cho Rimsky, Founder and CEO of CreativMoney Africa said small businesses must think like the investor, learn new skills for the growth of their businesses, and work on branding their businesses to attract the right investors and Customers.

Entrepreneurs must also know the environment that they operate in. According to the panellists, they must know the spending power of the population and also take into account their demographics as what one person will want may not be the same the other wants.

Panelists at the 2020 SBEC Forum in Yaounde

Panelists at the 2020 SBEC Forum in Yaounde

During the forum, participants asked questions relating to how they can easily obtain credits, different taxes that exist according to a sector of activity, how to preserve their brand, how to retain investors and others

SMEs contribute around 36% of Cameroon’s GDP, make-up over 90% of businesses in Cameroon, and employ above 60% of the population. That notwithstanding, evident realities indicate that enormous potentials inherent in this sector are unfortunately not fully harnessed – especially given that more than 70% of SMEs still operate informally.

“SMEs must be accountable, must have a savings account, must avoid evading taxes, and must be informed of existing credit mechanisms to ease the process of obtaining loans, Nkwetche Alain Teffo, CEO Dynamic Vision Consulting.

Small Businesses face difficulties in obtaining Loans because some are not aware of procedures while others cumbersome procedures…SMEs need to come together and recruit experts to assist them in TaxesFinance and Business registration,” Besong Enokenwa, Financial Expert.

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How can Africa’s fashion entrepreneurs access finance to grow their businesses?
December 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Enhancing access to finance for Africa’s fashion entrepreneurs is critical if the industry is to develop its full potential and tap global markets in a post-COVID-19 world. That was the topline  message at a Fashionomics Africa webinar hosted on 10 December by the African Development Bank and the HEVA Fund.

 

Roughly 150 fashion entrepreneurs and creative minds attended the fourth edition of the Fashionomics series, focused on finance. The discussion covered the challenges faced by fashion entrepreneurs, especially women and youth, in Africa’s creative industries.

 

Participants were also presented with opportunities to access finance from investment funds including the Alithea IDF Fund, for which the African Development Bank is an anchor investor; the Women’s Investment Club (WIC) Capital; the African ExportImport Bank; the State Bank of Mauritius; Thundafund and Senegalese clothing brand, SARAYAA.

 

Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society said the ongoing pandemic has prompted adaptations and innovations to keep Africa’s $31 billion fashion industry thriving.

 

“The crisis provides an opportunity to set up targeted support mechanisms and develop new and innovative financial tools for the textile, apparel and accessories industry that will not only help the entrepreneurs make it through, but set the basis for them to grow their businesses going forward,” she said.

 

Evelyne Dioh Simpa, managing director at WIC Capital, which invests in businesses run by women in Francophone West Africa, stressed the importance of developing financial products and capacity building tailored to fashion entrepreneurs.

 

Safiétou Seck, founder and creative director of SARAYAA recently attracted $230,000 in investment from WIC Capital to expand operations and grow the brand.

 

“For me, banking was the best option to scale up my business. My advice would be: be patient, you are going to be rejected many times, but fashion is going to make you stick with it,” Seck said of trying to raise capital.

 

New solutions, including alternative financing channels, will be key for fashion entrepreneurs, said Matt Roberts-Davies, chief operating officer of Thundafund, South Africa’s leading online crowdfunding marketplace for creatives and innovators.

 

He encouraged entrepreneurs to be brave. “Put yourself out there and find the crowd of people that loves what you do,” he said.

 

Fashionomics Africa promotes investments in the textile and fashion sectors by leveraging data, information and communication technologies to drive development. The initiative also aims to increase entrepreneurs’ access to finance via traditional and non-traditional channels, while providing business skills to start-up founder and staff as well as to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.

 

The Fashionomics Africa webinar series is available for fashion entrepreneurs, digital enthusiasts and creative minds on the Fashionomics platform (available on both iOS and Android). To watch previous episodes, click here.

*AfDB

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African nations join global top table at climate change summit
December 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Mohamed Adow,Director of Nairobi-based climate and energy think tank, Power Shift Africa

Mohamed Adow,Director of Nairobi-based climate and energy think tank, Power Shift Africa

More than 70 world leaders met at a virtual Climate Ambition Summit hosted by the UK Government where nations including from the African continent were called upon  to bring new plans for tackling the climate crisis.

 

With climate breakdown continuing to rage around the world this year, including in Africa with devastating locust swarms driven by climate change, this meeting is a crucial opportunity for countries to put the world on a safe path by cutting their greenhouse gas emissions and offering support for the most vulnerable.

Mohamed Adow,Director of Nairobi-based climate and energy think tank, Power Shift Africa said it was particularly pleasing to see 10 African leaders invited to take part, demonstrating how Africa is showing global green leadership on the most critical issues for African lives and prosperity.  The 10 African countries are the DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, Kenya, Malawi, Mauritius, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda and Zimbabwe.

He said, “As an African I was proud to see leaders from my continent being part of the solution to this global problem and sharing an international platform with other heads of state from around the world.  It shows the progress made by some African countries that they are now at the top table when it comes to climate leadership.

“Africa has a huge part to play in the fight to stop climate change. We have endless sources of clean energy, from wind and solar to geothermal and hydro. As Africa uses these non-polluting forms of energy to power our development we can show the rest of the world that we don’t need to foul our air and distort our climate to bring prosperity.   By leapfrogging the old fossil fuel energy of the past, we can accelerate our development and prevent further damage to our climate.  Africa is especially vulnerable to hotter temperatures, droughts, storms and locusts swarms so it’s in our own interest to be at the forefront of this global energy transition.  We now need to see more African countries stepping up and joining the top table of international climate leaders.”

Adow added that this virtual summit was a crucial part of the Paris climate agreement, which celebrates its 5th anniversary this weekend. He said: “This ambition summit is vital if we want to inject some momentum into climate action as we head into 2021. Currently the pledges that make up the Paris Agreement leave us with a world of 3 degrees of global heating, a fate which would be catastrophic.  But the Paris Agreement was designed to be a dynamic accord which called on countries to strengthen national plans every five years so we can bend that global heating curve downwards to achieve the 1.5C goal contained within the agreement.  This summit is the first example of this ‘ratchet’ mechanism in action and so we need to see countries stepping up with radical actions which fit the urgent crisis we face.

“But it cannot just be emissions reductions.  The Paris Agreement also requires richer nations to provide financial support for those countries which are bearing the brunt of climate change but have done almost nothing to cause it. They need support to adapt to the floods, droughts and storms that are destroying their lives and livelihoods.  They also need help to leapfrog fossil fuels and move to renewables which would be a win win for everyone.”

 

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Zimbabwe:Katswe Turns To Music and Film-Making In Fight Against Gender Violence
December 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu Munhumutapa

Diana Motsi

A gender equality and empowerment objected civil society organization Katswe has taken a new line of response to gender-based violence. This vitiation comes with the 16 days of collective action against gender-based violence perpetrations against women.

Giving a dimensional mirror to the whole set-up in line with addressing the thorny issue, Katswe engages Pachoto music group, a bevy of buxom girls tight-clad in red golf t-shirts who sends out the message to communities through music and dance.

Raising a high-pitched voice for the civil-society organization Katswe Communications person Diana Motsi points out that the group has been engaged to show-case a talent of music with the message that always rings in the mind of communities.

‘’We do our advocacy through music by Pachoto to bring communities and organizations round the table to address gender violence. We want people both men and women to learn about the dangers carried by ideas that are negative about violence in homes.

‘’In this age both sexes perpetrate violence against each other, meaning to say even men are on the receiving side of the story but I tell you women bears more of the brunt of the knife and they end on the receiving end.

‘’As Katswe we there-fore make it reach communities as a message that applies both to men and women.  Yes, women have heard enough but it turns to touch on men who are also on the precarious sharp edge of the story on a daily basis’’.

Many African countries have addressed gender-based violence through sensation and awareness through radio, television and newspapers, but Katswe takes the voice down deep through training young girls who are the future.

‘’through this up-rooted advocacy of music we address several areas surrounding Health. Yes Gender-based violence but what comes with it is the transmission of HIV and AIDS, Sexual transmitted infections and diseases, reproductive tract infections like cervical cancer and some health implications.’’

‘’Besides, remember gender-based violence kills the dignity and integrity of a well- being. It astray young people minds as they grow in communities. They end up thinking that’s the way it is done. Young people grow up oriented and integrated in a gender balanced non-patriarchal communities. We love that and we have to send the message out there,’’

she adds a voice again getting on to explain on another area of teaching to the young people, making them see by themselves, feel it and touch it all around for orientation into integration through film-making.

Katswe works as well with Women Film-Makers of Zimbabwe. This is a group of young women who disseminates bad practices of men to women through film making.  The separate event had been done earlier on in the capital city in Avondale where 2 films were shot.

Speaking on the sidelines of this she said filmmaking by young people portrays the bad practices by men who abusively do wrong to their wives. The two films took it up on the lives of young women who get married early in life then gets dumped, runs away from their men. Sometimes they report cases that are taken to courts, men at last get imprisoned, comes back again to do the same violence, abuse and harassment to the same woman. It tells from a certain point of view that women need empowerment. I pointed this out specifying it clearly that the Governments of many developing countries must work well with non-governmental organizations to address issues of inequalities and then empower those women on the edges in terms of resource allocation.

Secondly, I pointed out on access to information for all especially to those in marginalized communities, poverty stricken and vulnerable communities. Access to Information is one area of empowerment that is far behind in many developing countries in Sub-Saharan -Africa, the middle east and central -Asia, some parts of Europe and in the Banana Republics of South America.

Young lady of her middle adolescence age Chido Chikosha said many young girls fail to reach their high level of education because of early marriages, getting sexually abused in their early years and being exposed to culture and tradition.

‘’Fil-making by young women like us tells stories of girls who face their consequences of the fate they do not expect to face in life. Many young girls fail to proceed on with education, thrown in poverty and vulnerability.

‘’Culture has done more harm than good. Young girls lost opportunities that they would have used in their life-time. We live shorter lives especially these years, life expectation is not high. It means then we have to work hard as young people to go further with education so that we kill poverty circles.

‘’Young girls must no-more become objects of early marriages, sexual abuse violence and harassments by men and parents, or even their guardians. This is time to walk the talk and say no-more to all of these practices up to culture and tradition, religion and African customs’’ , shouts out Chido .

Young people advocate to live in a new World free of sexual violence, gender based and all forms of harassments and discrimination. Their convention [CEDAW] Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women] has gone long way in addressing these issues affecting women’s lives.

Civil-Society, churches and communities continue to lobby the Government through parliament to play a vital role in making these addressed once and for all without any challenges along the way. It is interesting to note that women have improved in terms of education, employment, enrolment in universities and institutions.

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African Countries Must Take a Balanced Approach to the Energy Transition
December 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

The road to energy transition might be bumpy for all of us, but the idea of banning all fossil fuels makes it exceptionally treacherous, if not impassable, for Africa.

By NJ Ayuk*

NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group

Africa stands at a precarious juncture, where the transition from fossil fuels to renewables intersects with the economic benefits of a strategically managed oil and gas industry. 

Down one road, the continent expands exploration and production of its vast natural gas and oil reserves to bring electricity, fuel, and financial power to millions. Down the other, it yields to pressure to help achieve climate targets, including outright bans on fossil fuels that would eliminate funding for natural gas projects.

Is it possible to put one foot on each path? Absolutely. Doing what’s best for Africa and what’s right for the environment do not have to be mutually exclusive. Some form of balance is always possible.

On a continent where millions of families are using traditional, hazardous biomass for cooking, where 600 million people lack access to reliable electricity, the idea of leaving valuable oil and, especially, natural gas, in the ground seems neither practical, palatable, nor appropriate. In fact, as the African Energy Chamber’s newly released African Energy Outlook 2021 says, beyond the calamity created by COVID-19, in the short-term, the drive to curb carbon emissions is one of the conventional oil and gas industry’s biggest challenges — and one of Africa’s, too.

Curbing emissions is a noble and essential goal. The problems associated with climate change aren’t something we can look on from afar and let someone else worry about. After all, Africa is considered more vulnerable to the effects of climate change than many other areas, especially since so much of the population depends on regular rainfall to grow food crops. With a warming planet bringing drought and dust storms to one part of the continent and floods to another, affecting quality of life and livelihoods, we know first-hand how important climate justice is. We also understand that it’s our responsibility as global citizens to participate in energy transition. 

Within reason, that is.

Energy transition, the so-called path from fossil-based to zero carbon, cannot be applied with a broad brush. What will work in Norway isn’t always feasible in Namibia. What makes for sensible policy in London isn’t necessarily pragmatic in Lagos.

For one thing, Africa uses so little energy now, our emissions from oil and natural gas are minimal. In fact, the World Economic Forum estimates that if all of sub-Saharan Africa tripled its electricity consumption overnight using only natural gas, the additional CO­2 would be equivalent to just 1% of global emissions.

Admittedly, as rising incomes and population growth propel energy demand in Africa — we have the fastest growing population in the world, as well as the youngest — greenhouse gas emissions are likely to increase as well. That is, unless we follow an intelligent, modern energy plan that incorporates renewables along with natural gas. There’s room for both, as well as need: While solar power and wind can help provide electricity to fill the current and impending power void, neither can furnish feedstocks for industry, gasoline for transportation, or process heat for manufacturing.

Solar Power Has Great Potential

Harnessing a renewable resource for electricity is something African has history with. We’ve been using hydropower for decades. It makes sense, then, that we can transfer our experience to the adoption of solar power.

In fact, when it comes to solar power the future, pardon the pun, seems bright. Africa has already made considerable progress using solar photovoltaics (PV) to capture and convert abundant sunlight to ample energy. South Africa, for example, has eight of the 10 largest solar plants in Africa; the continent’s largest is in Morocco. At the same time, we’ve also seen advances in bringing off-grid, home-scale solar systems to rural villages in sub-Saharan Africa. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) suggested that, with the right policies in place, by 2030 Africa should be able to generate more than 70 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV capacity. Considering 1 GW could realistically power 300,000 American homes, that’s a significant figure.

But is it enough?

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), demand in Africa today is 700 terawatt-hours (TWh), with the vast majority — more than 70% — of the total derived from North African economies and South Africa. But the IEA predicted that by 2040, the fastest demand growth will come from sub-Saharan nations.

Can solar scale up to meet accelerated needs in time? Without natural gas in the energy mix — especially without the gas-to-power initiatives that are part of the 2030 Roadmap — will people remain in the dark?

And what can be done to take natural gas off the banned fossil fuels list?

We Must Curb Wasteful Gas Flaring

The biggest concern about the continued use of natural gas comes down to one word: Flaring.  

Flaring is the practice of routinely burning off associated natural gas that is produced from the reservoir during oil production. Flaring is often done for technical, safety, or regulatory reasons, but there’s no denying that routine flaring, which happens when the economics don’t support using the natural gas, is a waste of a precious resource. And even though nearly all — 99% — of natural gas is combusted when flaring is done under the right circumstances, when there are problems with the flame or other operating conditions, flaring can create a significant environmental problem. Estimates from satellite data put the amount of COreleased into the air by flaring at 300,000 tons per year. And, unfortunately, that figure is on the rise: Between 2018 and 2019, the total increased by 3%.

It’s worth noting, however, that most of the increase during that period came from three countries: the United States, Venezuela, and Russia. Specifically, emissions during gas flaring rose 23% in the United States alone. Venezuela’s total increased by 16% and Russia was up by 9%. If you include Iran along with the other three, just four countries were responsible for 45% of all global gas flared between 2017 and 2019.

By contrast, in the rest of the oil-producing world, gas flaring has declined, down approximately 10% between 2012 and the first quarter of 2020.

That includes Nigeria, where flaring has dropped 70% over the last two decades, and Angola, where reducing flaring is part of a program to capture natural gas and convert it to liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export. State-owned Sonangol has partnered with four oil and gas majors, Chevron, BP, Eni, and Total, to develop a $12 billion offshore project to produce 5.2 million tonnes of LNG per year.

It’s heartening to know that five African countries – Algeria, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Nigeria – are among the nations, companies, and organizations that have joined in The World Bank’s Global Gas Flaring Reduction Partnership (GGFR). This forward-thinking group is dedicated to identifying and overcoming the barriers to flaring reduction on a country-by-country basis. Through research, sharing best practices, and advancing flare measurements and reporting, GGFR is equipping the world to live with natural gas, the fossil fuel with the lowest carbon footprint, rather than try to live without it.

We Can Find a Balance

Like GGFR, the African Energy Chamber also seeks to balance what on the surface may seem like competing interests. While their mission is to make plentiful natural gas even cleaner so it remains a viable alternative in tomorrow’s modern energy mix, we would like to see a diversified energy industry in Africa where people and local businesses benefit from both fossil fuel activities and clean energy production.

We have only to look as far as Kenya to find a pertinent example.

The nation, which is home to east Africa’s largest solar generation plant, derives 93% of its electricity from renewables. Along with wind and hydropower, solar is responsible for increasing the proportion of the population who have access to electricity from 63% in 2017 to 75% today — a nearly 20% increase in just three years. As renewables become increasingly affordable, it is likely that wind and solar development will continue, although for now, it’s tough to find investors and financing to bring new projects online.

Economics are also at the heart of Kenya’s new oil and gas developments, and in a positive way. With the discovery of the massive Turkana fields in the nation’s north-western region, Kenya has an opportunity, albeit one that may be years away, to grow its oil and gas service sector, continue its new role as an oil exporter, and further diversify its economy. Legislation regulating oil exploration and production and outlining revenue-sharing will help local communities as much as they protect the government and companies.

This Isn’t The Time to Leave Resources Stranded

As the Chamber has stated, we are all for a diversified energy mix and are looking forward to seeing cleaner energy developments surface across the continent. Currently, however, solar and wind projects rely on global value chains, which limits their ability to support local jobs, business opportunities, and capacity building. Until this can be resolved, the renewable energy industry simply cannot offer Africa the same value as a strategic approach to our oil and gas industry. Natural gas production is particularly important, not only because of the role it can play in alleviating energy poverty, but also because of its potential to be monetized, to facilitate infrastructure development, and to foster the creation and strengthening of other sectors. And that, in turn, can lead to even more jobs, business opportunities, and economic growth for African communities.

Africa needs natural gas to light the way in both a literal and figurative sense. Our future is at stake, and we need to make our voices heard: We can curb emissions without cutting off a pathway to economic growth for the 20 African nations that have natural gas reserves. We can embrace clean energy without missing out on a critical means of giving more African households and businesses access to electricity. That’s a message we can’t let others drown out. The road to energy transition might be bumpy for all of us, but the idea of banning all fossil fuels makes it exceptionally treacherous, if not impassable, for Africa.

*NJ Ayuk is Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, CEO of Centurion Law Group, and the author of several books about the oil and gas industry in Africa, including Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals.

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The African Development Bank launches $50 million facility to support energy access companies through and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic
December 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

Dr. Kevin Kariuki, African Development Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank has approved a $20 million concessional investment from the Sustainable Energy Fund for Africa (SEFA) to establish the COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform (CRP). The $50 million blended finance initiative, will provide relief and recovery capital to energy access businesses, supporting them through and beyond the pandemic.

The platform is anchored on a partnership with three specialized energy access fund managers selected through a competitive process: Triple Jump, Lion’s Head Global Partners, and Social Investment Managers and Advisors.  The $20 million concessional envelope will be blended with their own capital and instruments, leveraging $30-$40 million in complementary commercial funding and enabling more affordable debt products. Through these partners, the recovery platform will support energy access companies commercializing and deploying solar home systems, green mini-grids, clean cooking and other decentralized renewable energy solutions. 

“This initiative underlines the African Development Bank’s commitment to the accelerated growth of Africa’s decentralized energy industry, based on renewables, as a key driver for universal energy access goals,” said Dr. Kevin Kariuki, the African Development Bank’s Vice President for Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth.

Joao Duarte Cunha, Division Manager for Renewable Energy at the African Development Bank, said the platform would fill a gap in the market.

“Understanding that time is of essence, this platform will enable the provision of tailored financial solutions by leveraging existing resources, expertise and infrastructure within the sector,” he said. In addition to providing immediate relief and recovery support, the platform will lay the foundation for a green and inclusive economic recovery post-pandemic.

“We are pleased to be selected to co-manage the COVID-19 Off-Grid Recovery Platform, which will be blended with funding from the Energy Entrepreneurs Growth Fund. The combination of funding and operational support will stabilize businesses and allow for continued investments during the COVID-19 crisis, mitigating the impact of the pandemic on energy access companies and set a sustainable trajectory for growth,” said Jan-Henrik Kuhlmann, Head of Sustainable Energy at Triple Jump.

Reflecting on the potential impact of the capital provided, Asad Mahmood, CEO and Managing Partner of Social Investment Managers and Advisors, said: “CRP is a much-needed and appreciated innovative effort of the Bank to use multiple fund managers to assist with liquidity needs of good energy businesses in Africa, currently affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The relief and recovery capital will support businesses in mitigating the impacts of the pandemic and ensuring a robust commercial recovery of the industry, and has been endorsed by leading industry associations, including the Alliance for Rural Electrification (ARE), Africa Mini-Grid Developers Association (AMDA) and the Global Off-Grid Lighting Association (GOGLA).

“The Bank’s new instrument is a game changer that will sustain and strengthen the African energy access sector. The platform’s innovative co-investment structure allows fund managers like Lion’s Head to focus on what we do best – mobilizing and deploying human and financial capital to unlock sustainable power for vulnerable communities while targeting critical post-pandemic issues such as local currency funding in a period of high uncertainty and volatility,” said Harry Guinness, Managing Director of the Off-Grid Energy Access Fund, part of the wider Facility for Energy Inclusion.

The Board approval was granted on 1 December.

About SEFA: SEFA is an AfDB-managed special fund providing catalytic finance for renewable energy. SEFA’s overarching goal is to contribute to universal access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy services for all in Africa, in line with the Bank’s New Deal on Energy for Africa and Sustainable Development Goal 7. SEFA was established in 2011 in partnership with the Government of Denmark and has since received contributions from the Governments of United StatesUnited KingdomItalyNorwaySpain, and Sweden(Nordic Development Fund and Germany. SEFA is housed in the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Department (PERN) under the Power, Energy, Climate, and Green Growth (PEVP) complex.

*AfDB

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Ten years after the inaugural Development Effectiveness Review, the African Development Bank is once more shepherding African economies through a global crisis
December 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

“We should be in no doubt that Africa faces its gravest threat in many years, and that national health and social protection systems will be severely tested.” Akinwumi Adesina.

The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed health and economic crises across the world, including in Africa, undoing decades of economic growth and human development. Post-pandemic, comes the challenge of recovery and reviving growth.

The African Development Bank’ s 2020 edition of its Annual Development Effectiveness Review,   (ADER) marks ten years since the report was first published to assess the institution’s and Africa’s progress. The report, which evaluates the Bank’s impact in 2019 in meeting strategic and cross-cutting objectives and on strengthening development impact, is even more relevant as one looks at the COVID-19 era challenges.

The current edition, released on 19  November, assesses the Bank’s progress on achieving each of its High 5 strategic priorities: Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

Although much has changed in the last decade, one thing remains the same: the Bank remains at the forefront in guiding Africa’s economies in times of both progress and crisis.

As African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina notes in the 2020 report’s foreword: “We should be in no doubt that Africa faces its gravest threat in many years, and that national health and social protection systems will be severely tested.”

The inaugural ADER was released in 2011—covering the previous year—just as  regional member countries were emerging from the 2008 global financial crisis, which halted the continent’s impressive run of growth.  “With a collective GDP of $1.6 trillion, Africa looked on the verge of sustained economic take-off,” the executive summary noted. “Then came the global financial crisis, which reduced Africa’s growth to 3% in 2009 and set the continent back significantly. We acted swiftly to help African countries limit the effects of the global financial crisis.” In terms of the Bank’s impact and operations, the inaugural edition concluded, “Overall, over three quarters of our projects reached or surpassed their expected outputs,” noting there was room to improve.

Throughout the decade, the Bank continued to notch milestones in its operations. By 2012, its disbursement ratio stood at 22%– a significant improvement on the previous two years. Also at that time, 65% of new Bank projects were climate-proofed, a significant emerging priority for the institution.

ADER 2016 marked the first release of the report under the leadership of Adesina, and the introduction of the High 5 priorities as a benchmark for the Bank’s success while maintaining indicators from the earlier reports. The report also marked a shift toward greater decentralization of Bank operations to increase responsiveness to the needs of regional member countries. In 2015,the Bank exceeded its target of achieving a satisfactory rating on 78% of completed operations, hitting 83%.  Further, 90% of completed operations had sustainable outcomes in that year, also beating expectations.

In the foreword to the 10th edition, Adesina notes the continent “has advanced steadily along the path towards a brighter future. Its progress has been driven by Africans’ determination to fulfil their potential as productive members of society and to forge better lives for themselves and their families, supported by continuing improvements in public services and infrastructure.”

Over the past years, the institution has posted strong progress toward meeting High-5 goals.  For example, in the 2015-2019 period, 20 million people gained access to electricity, while 74 million people benefited from improvements in agriculture and 69 million people gained better access to transport.  

The backdrop to these strong results is of course the continuing pandemic.  As the 2020 report notes, “despite… the expectation that 2020 would be another year of growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will put many of Africa’s recent development gains at risk.” GDP might decline by as much as 3.4%, as a result of sharply reduced trade, tourism and remittances as well as lower prices for commodities.

The Bank’s swift response, setting up a COVID-19 response facility worth up to $10 billion has helped cushion some of the economic and health impacts.

The road to recovery is expected to be long and difficult but the Bank remains in a position to help Africa build back better and smarter, and at the same time to continue to strengthen its own operations.

*AfDB

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Katswe Sistahood holds photo exhibition to commemorate 16 Days of GBV Activism in Zimbabwe
December 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Katswe Sistahood has held  a photo  exhibition in Harare,Zimbabwe today titled 16 women, 16 stories and 16 commitments on the 4th of December in commemoration of the 16 Days against Gender Based Violence.

 The exhibition  uses the 16 days of activism mark to address the real Gender Based Violence stories happening in the community, according to Talent Jumo, Katswe Sistahood Director.

  It is reported that  16 women, 16 stories, 16 commitments is about creating a safe space for young women to share their experiences.

   Through performance and poetry reading storytelling and monologues, young women get a chance to express themselves fully regarding their bodies and sexuality.

 It is also added that the initiative seeks to bring women from different backgrounds in life together to share their perspective and stories about Gender Based Violence.

 It is added that after the story telling, the main focus is around enhancing advocacy work being done and what can be done to prevent and end Gender Based Violence and ensuring healing and full support for survivors.

 It is also added that 16 women, 16 stories and 16 commitments provides social commentary on women and girls’ daily struggles and victories through the use of the arts and photography for social justice.

 Sixteen  women have been identified, to share their stories and the stories are shared on all social media platforms for the entirety of the 16 days.

 “With each post comes an advocacy action to anchor a standard and comprehensive Gender Based Violence package with the following components,justice/legal aid,psycho-social support/wellness,health care,economic support and welfare services,”Jumo said.

 It is also reported that the 16 days will be closed off with an exhibition that captures all the other stories and puts them into different perspectives for different actions, commitments by government and civil society organizations. 

  CSOs have also been  encouraged to commit to work on projects that end and Gender Based Violence.

  “This is a chance to collaborate and meaningfully engage government to be initiate laws that ensure the safety of women in the home and public spaces,” Jumo added.

 Some of the intended objectives include generating an increased level of awareness amongst citizens pertaining to the incidence of violence perpetuated against young women and adolescent girls , how it manifests itself within the society and the negative impact on these vulnerable groups, challenging perpetrators of these offenses to change their behavior, communicating through the most effective and appropriate channels aiming to reach the maximum number of people across the country, particularly women and young girls residing in the rural areas, engaging actively with men and boys in the discourse about combating violence in our homes, our communities and in the workplace, highlighting the stories of survivors of gender-based violence and the impact that the different projects that are being carried out have had on their lives, creating awareness around the link between, HIV/AIDS and Gender-Based Violence including abortion and Gender Based Violence.

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Sierra Leone: CODE, FRI launches Distance learning in crisis programme in BO and Kambia
December 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The Canadian Organisation for Distance Learning in Crisis (CODE), in partnership with Farm Radio International (FRI) through its local partners The Association of Language and Literacy Educators (TALLE) in Sierra Leone has on Monday 30th November, 2020 launched the Distance Learning in Crisis 240 – DLC, in Bo and Kambia respectively.

The program which  is called “Reading on the Waves” is designed to support education during the COVID-19 crisis which is a family literacy initiative that  will support parents’ ability to engage their children in reading and learning activities by helping to ensure that students do not lose the progress already made through daily radio-programming in addition to supporting them return to school once formal education resumes. For Sierra Leone, school is in progress thus the program will complement the effort of techers in schools

According to a statement from FRI, it said, as part of this partnership, they are  committed  to supporting to plan, design, produce, and broadcast one series of 65 gender-sensitive, interactive programs on family literacy adding that they will work with 4 radio stations to broadcast Reading on the Waves in Sierra Leone which include SLBC in Bo and Radio Kolenten in Kambia that will be producing and Rebroadcasts to Radio Newsong in Bo and Radio Cat Bamie.

“The radio programs aim to change that — and do it safely from a distance — by reaching 350,000 families between the two countries (Sierra Leone) and Liberia, and 70,000 school children — both girls and boys. Working with local writers in Liberia and Sierra Leone, CODE has developed a reading anthology, filled with fun stories, and activities. Different stories talk about safety, handwashing or math, or even local folklore in entertaining, locally relevant, ways,’’ the statement reads.

FRI  said, each radio program is hosted by one radio broadcaster and one teacher — so the magic of radio can combine with good pedagogy to create programs that are both entertaining and educational stating that this marks the first time Farm Radio International has run programs targeting literacy specifically, and the first time they have worked directly in Sierra Leone and Liberia. 

“We’re excited about this new partnership with CODE,” said Caroline Montpetit, the regional program manager for West Africa. 

“We look forward to making radio in a way that can improve literacy rates and support teachers and families not only in their learning objectives, but in improving gender equality and relationships between families.”

Benjamin Fiafor, Regional Representative Farm Radio International for Liberia and Sierra Leone in a statement, said  that the distance learning project is a timely project, adding that the initiative will enable as many people as possible to take advantage of radio to learn in the country.

“In the current situation we believe, this is what we can do, we need to continue even after the Covid -19 situation have become normal. We believe that, this has become part and parcel of our method of training, our method of working with our partners. we will still continue to work from a distance even though there are some challenges,’’ he said.

He said  notwithstanding the challenges, they  still believe in the face to face, as they can’t continue just working from a distance, but promised that they will definitely combine the two to enable them  to have a very good interaction at the same time working relationship with their  partners, the radio stations and other communities in Sierra Leone.

“We also notice very good cooperation from the people who participated because they recognized that this is something that is coming to help their children and the whole country. This is the first time we are seeing such a cooperation from the partners and the people we are working with. I commend them, that they need to continue providing all the necessary support in other projects in education, agriculture and any other area,’’ Fiafor added.

 Fiafor further added that they at Farm Radio International were very happy to have listened to the first programme and that they were pleased with it stating that the launch of the DLC programme in the country is a start of the relationship between FRI and Radio Stations in the country.

“As it is now, the programme is launched, it is a good programmed, we at Farm Radio International also we are very happy to have listened to the first programme, Radio stations with the communities, it’s great to know that we have great staffs. This project we see it as a short project, but we want to say that this is not just the end, but rather the beginning of the relationship between Farm Radio International and Radio Stations in Sierra Leone,’’ Regional Representative Farm Radio International lamented.

The Regional Representative FRI went on to say that they are looking forward to engage more stations in other capacity supports and also other projects in the coming years adding that as it is  the educational project will go up to the end of February next year  and hope that the programmes will be replayed by their partner stations to ensure that the learning continue beyond the time of the project.

“In terms of sustainability we are working together with the education department and we want to say this is very , very important for any project whatever we have started  with the radio stations , we do not expect to just end by the end of February ,the continuation part is very key for us, we want to see radio stations also support  in ensuring the airing of this  wonderful programmes if not its continues without the necessary project support,’’ Benjamin Fiafor stressed.

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Ten years after the inaugural Development Effectiveness Review, The African Development Bank is once more shepherding African economies through a global crisis
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

We should be in no doubt that Africa faces its gravest threat in many years, and that national health and social protection systems will be severely tested.” Akinwumi Adesina

The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed health and economic crises across the world, including in Africa, undoing decades of economic growth and human development. Post-pandemic, comes the challenge of recovery and reviving growth.

The African Development Bank’ s 2020 edition of its Annual Development Effectiveness Review, (ADER) marks ten years since the report was first published to assess the institution’s and Africa’s progress. The report, which evaluates the Bank’s impact in 2019 in meeting strategic and cross-cutting objectives and on strengthening development impact, is even more relevant as one looks at the COVID-19 era challenges.

The current edition, released on 19  November, assesses the Bank’s progress on achieving each of its High 5 strategic priorities: Light Up and Power Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, Integrate Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.

Although much has changed in the last decade, one thing remains the same: the Bank remains at the forefront in guiding Africa’s economies in times of both progress and crisis.

As African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina notes in the 2020 report’s foreword: “We should be in no doubt that Africa faces its gravest threat in many years, and that national health and social protection systems will be severely tested.”

The inaugural ADER was released in 2011—covering the previous year—just as  regional member countries were emerging from the 2008 global financial crisis, which halted the continent’s impressive run of growth.  “With a collective GDP of $1.6 trillion, Africa looked on the verge of sustained economic take-off,” the executive summary noted. “Then came the global financial crisis, which reduced Africa’s growth to 3% in 2009 and set the continent back significantly. We acted swiftly to help African countries limit the effects of the global financial crisis.” In terms of the Bank’s impact and operations, the inaugural edition concluded, “Overall, over three quarters of our projects reached or surpassed their expected outputs,” noting there was room to improve.

Throughout the decade, the Bank continued to notch milestones in its operations. By 2012, its disbursement ratio stood at 22%– a significant improvement on the previous two years. Also at that time, 65% of new Bank projects were climate-proofed, a significant emerging priority for the institution.

ADER 2016 marked the first release of the report under the leadership of Adesina, and the introduction of the High 5 priorities as a benchmark for the Bank’s success while maintaining indicators from the earlier reports. The report also marked a shift toward greater decentralization of Bank operations to increase responsiveness to the needs of regional member countries. In 2015,the Bank exceeded its target of achieving a satisfactory rating on 78% of completed operations, hitting 83%.  Further, Ninety percent of completed operations had sustainable outcomes in that year, also beating expectations.

In the foreword to the 10th edition, Adesina notes the continent “has advanced steadily along the path towards a brighter future. Its progress has been driven by Africans’ determination to fulfil their potential as productive members of society and to forge better lives for themselves and their families, supported by continuing improvements in public services and infrastructure.”

Over the past years, the institution has posted strong progress toward meeting High-5 goals.  For example, in the 2015-2019 period, 20 million people gained access to electricity, while 74 million people benefited from improvements in agriculture and 69 million people gained better access to transport. 

The backdrop to these strong results is of course the continuing pandemic.  As the 2020 report notes, “despite… the expectation that 2020 would be another year of growth, the COVID-19 pandemic will put many of Africa’s recent development gains at risk.” GDP might decline by as much as 3.4%, as a result of sharply reduced trade, tourism and remittances as well as lower prices for commodities.

The Bank’s swift response, setting up a COVID-19 response facility worth up to $10 billion has helped cushion some of the economic and health impacts.

The road to recovery is expected to be long and difficult but the Bank remains in a position to help Africa build back better and smarter, and at the same time to continue to strengthen its own operations.

*AfDB

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International Rescue Committee intensifies feeding programmes as Zimbabwe is named in top 16 global hunger hotspots
December 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire 

In a recent report from the World Food Programme, Zimbabwe was named amongst the world’s top 16 global hunger hotspots. In recent years, drought and crop failure exacerbated by macro-economic challenges have created a humanitarian crisis for over 7 million people in Zimbabwe with many people unable to meet their daily food needs. Inflation has eroded purchasing power and affordability of food and other essential goods is a daily challenge. Cyclone Idai last year, coupled with the COVID- 19 pandemic has compounded the situation as families have been unable to obtain income or access food due to movement restrictions. Over 125,000 people remain in need of humanitarian assistance across the 12 affected districts in Manicaland and Masvingo provinces following the cyclone last year. 

  It is in the midst of the scenario that the International Rescue Committee (IRC) has stepped in to supporting affected households with multi-purpose cash transfers and essential items such as smart agriculture inputs like drought resistant crops and drip irrigation to mitigate hunger and build resilience. 

  The IRC is also working to safeguard communities from the COVID-19 pandemic by raising awareness on COVID-19 risk factors, providing personal protective equipment, infection protection and control materials and building and installing water points to help people practice preventative methods.  10,222 households in Chimanimani and Chipinge are benefiting from feeding programmes while 4380 farmers from 34 operational Wards in Beitbridge and Nyanga are being supported with smart agriculture inputs.

Women and children are the most vulnerable in times of disaster, hence the IRC continues to offer psychosocial support and essential gender-based violence case management services through Safe Spaces in Manicaland.  

Zvidzai Maburutse, IRC Zimbabwe Country Director says,

“Climate change manifesting through frequent shifting weather patterns is affecting the ability of people to feed themselves because of a loss of crops and livestock. This has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic which has affected livelihoods that people rely on for daily survival.  Due to the gravity of the situation, the United Nations also scaled up launching a US$331.5 million aid appeal for Zimbabwe to help it recover from drought that has driven millions to the brink of starvation. At the IRC we are working to reduce the impact by providing cash as immediate support to buy basic needs. We are also looking at long term solutions like supporting communities to recover livelihoods through seeds that can withstand drought; water saving technology like drip kits and training of farmers on climate proofing.  Still, more needs to be done and we are appealing to donors and other partners to urgently assist with humanitarian support.”

The IRC began working in Zimbabwe in 2008 to respond to the devastating cholera outbreak and has since significantly scaled up our programming to work with local communities to improve sanitation, access to clean water, safe delivery for pregnant women, and livelihood opportunities and improved agriculture for farmers. 

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC is at work in over 40 countries and 28 offices across the U.S. helping people to survive, reclaim control of their future, and strengthen their communities.

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Lafarge-Holcim A Profit Business Cement Manufacturer Turns Humanitarian- Non-Profit- ‘’Declaring Climate-Change now a Climate-Crisis’’
November 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

A leading cement manufacturer has drawn two pathway lines besides profit making business diving deep into Humanitarian work in Zimbabwe. This has been confirmed through a learning exercise and process that will remain sustainable for Journalists who do sustainability reporting.

The whole day sustainable reporting journalists’ workshop was conducted on 27 November at a local hotel in Harare. It was attended by 20 Journalists and 10 Practical Action civil society organization and Lafarge-Holcim personnel.

Tsungai Manyeza Lafarge-Holcim Head of Communications has made strong back-up since time reflected with positive results. She has trained a big number of Journalists on Environmental issues. This time it extends to sustainability reporting. On top of that work, she has taken Journalists for a number of tours at their cement manufacturing plant in Harare.

Sustainable Energy Projects for Community Development and the Legal frame-work in Zimbabwe among other presentations attracted attention of journalists who have to report on renewable energy issues on ground following certain regulations to capture International standards. One such example of smart, efficient and reliable energy is solar which has taken shape in many urban and rural communities.

Climate Change and Sustainable Business takes focus to look at issues of combatting green house gases that cause climate change. In a changing World the Green Revolution looks ahead to combat climate change through new ways of mitigation and adaptation.

Taking a fascination of the whole snap-up of the program the idea that its no-longer climate change but climate-crisis takes a snap into the gleam of the future to address climate changing patterns through tools that addresses a crisis.

‘’We no-longer want to call this climate-change. Let us talk about climate-crisis because this turns to be continuous. We have it affecting us on a daily basis. We have to live with it through mitigation and adaptation.’’

Dr Maria Ross of Practical Action, Agriculture Systems and Innovation Leader puts it straight that their organization looks at Agro-Ecology because of its efficiency in terms of use of natural resources.

‘’Our thrust lies on increase in food-security so that we address sustainable and responsible food consumption. This is addressed through sustainable and profitable land use in the country. That is the reason why we talk of Agro-Ecology’’.

‘’Communities must remain sustainable by coming up with proper management of their natural resources, like water and land management. Our role then comes as coming up with solutions to what needs solutions remaining as a challenge and hinderance to sustainable Agriculture.’’

‘’Solutions to fragile systems comes with the fact that we see challenges in terms of sustainable water management, food and some other resources. We now mainly rely on under-ground water, therefore we need to take note of good management of water and natural resources’’.

Humanitarian Work and Corporate Social Responsibility ..

Sustainability reporting comes as an interesting area of focus for Journalists. There is wide need to report on real issues affecting communities. It is clear that its all about climate change that comes with disasters like floods that results in drought and hunger.

Communications Expert Tsungai Manyeza joined again at end of the program inspiring Journalists to take sustainability reporting as daily business looking at what affects us today affects the future.

‘’We have Four pillars Education, Environment, Empowerment and Healthy and Safety. We empower a total of 500 students who pursue their education. This is the 1st key area that has come with positive close results on the ground.

‘’Under Empowerment we invest in supporting girls in terms of Reproductive Health. Empower them to have better choices in life. We do capacity building on sexual reproductive health rights. Our business is just not profit; it is non-profit for the sake of our human environment.’’

‘’ Our work with partners brings us to participate in saving communities that need support. Our involvement in community development matters most if we care for those who need to be involved. Its all about thinking of the future as we move towards sustainable business guided by sustainability reporting of real value and importance. ‘’

‘’There are programs related to health and safety management looking at how we can avoid accidents, disasters that harm young people. On top of that we have trained 200 young people in Conservation Farming programs working with Practical Action’’

‘’Above all in terms of community development we support recycling programs. These have benefitted communities surrounding us. Parents, especially single mothers have managed to send their children to school’’.

The training brought an inculcation of new skills in reporting sustainable development. Other areas of focus looked at sustainable urban expansion and wetlands preservation. The other area, sustainable solid waste management-the challenges and opportunities.

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Youssou N’Dour, Graca Machel, Akinwumi Adesina discuss building back better after COVID-19 at Civil Society Forum
November 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

  • Harness civil society’s “incredible potential to accelerate social change at scale” – Graça Machel
  • “Africa’s time is now. This should not only be words or prayers. It is within reach. I’m sure (the African Development Bank) will be able to meet this challenge” – Youssou N’Dour
  • “We will work much harder, collectively and in unison, to accelerate the impact of our work” – Akinwumi Adesina

Artists should be on the frontline of Africa’s development, given their pivotal role as communicators, Youssou N’Dour, musician, businessman and former Culture and Tourism Minister of Senegal, said at the opening of the 2020 African Development Bank Civil Society Forum.

The two-day CSO Forum kicked off on Thursday under the theme “Engaging Civil Society in building back better after COVID-19”.

The virtual event opened with remarks from senior Bank officials, including Wambui Gichuri, Acting Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development, Vanessa Moungar, Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, and President Akinwumi Adesina, with Graça Machel, Chair of the Graça Machel Trust, representing the civil society.

Adesina later engaged in a conversation with Machel and N’Dour.

“The role of civil society in monitoring interventions is crucial and important to ensure they are effectively deployed to reach the poor and vulnerable, who are most affected,” Adesina said, adding that the Bank would step up its efforts in the area.

Adesina said the critical issue was not the amount of funds that are provided by the Bank and others, but who they reach, adding that transparency and accountability are also critical.

Machel noted the Bank’s strong track record of working with governments and the private sector. She appealed for increased Bank funding to directly support civil society efforts to address the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable and hard-to-reach families in our societies.

“These organisations stepped up, often with limited resources and in very dangerous conditions, to save lives and restore dignity to communities in the midst of this pandemic,” she said. “Resources for organisations working with women, children and those living with disabilities and in the rural areas are desperately needed.”

Machel noted that channeling resources to strengthen the civil society sector as it responds to the challenges that COVID-19 has unearthed, would harness their “incredible potential to accelerate social change at scale”. Supporting women in particular would help to reap long-term dividends, she said.

For N’Dour, artists should be on the frontline of Africa’s development, given their pivotal role as communicators.

“Even in a place where there is oil, if there is no culture to explain this to the people, there is war…We should be able to say after (President Adesina’s) term that culture has been involved in the development of Africa,” he said, speaking in French via an interpreter.

“Culture is profitable and I’m available to provide my assistance, to work with my staff to create other champions in Africa, to take the African Development Bank’s work to another level,” N’Dour said.

The forum will explore cost-effective strategies and reflect on best practices to enhance collaboration between the Bank and civil society, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second day of the forum will be dedicated to sessions led by civil society organizations, which will provide a space to develop innovative grassroots ideas.

*AfDB

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AfDB to set up pan-African Private Equity Fund for Agriculture
November 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge Joaquim

AFDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina places great importance on agriculture

The African Development Bank is currently working with other partners to design a pan-African Private Equity Fund for Agriculture, FAFINA, the AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina revealed on Tuesday.

FAFINA – Fund for Agricultural Finance in Africa, should help African agricultural systems to become modern, integrated, and well-supported to achieve production and processing of food and agricultural products, and farm inputs, at scale.

Talking on Tuesday when he presented the keynote address during a virtual ceremony to mark the 10th Anniversary of the Sahel Capital, Adesina  said Africa should end being a supplier of raw materials by developing competitive national and regional agricultural value chains.

“Experiences from Sahel Capital on the FAFIN Fund will help as we now scale up interventions to support small and medium sized food and agribusiness companies across Africa,” he adding that agriculture is Africa’s number one comparative advantage and that transforming agriculture is the fastest way to create wealth and jobs in the continent.

“We must have chocolate factories, we must have garment and textile factories, dairy factories, and meat processing factories.

“The youth must be encouraged and supported to move into agriculture as a business to create greater value and wealth for the sector, driven by their innovations and business acumen” he said, “I am impressed with the large numbers of youth now moving into agriculture”.

The Bank has provided $406 million to support 23,000 young agripreneurs in 14 countries.

Just last week, the Bank supported $ 120,000 cash prize awards for dynamic youth-owned agribusinesses powering innovations across the agricultural value chains.

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Zimbabwe Shines as It Officially Launches 1st Nissan Electric Car .
November 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu Munhumutapa.

Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority inspired by the need to keep the World Green for sustainable business all around officially launches for the 1st time a Nissan Leaf Electric car.  The event occurred on 26 November at a glamorous ground breaking event in Harare.

The occasion attended by Chief Engineers, Government officials, Captains of Motor Industry marked the launch of an electric car, a modern move to consummate global green World standards. The emerging technology lies on efficiency and reliability. This is towards a low carbon economy.

Energy and Power Development Minister Honorable Soda believes Zimbabwe is towards achievements of its targets in terms of sustainable development. The targets take look at reducing green- house gas emissions, use of clean energy for sustainable development.

‘’This is to promote and encourage the expansion and advancement of technology related to petroleum and electricity ‘’

‘’Our mandate is derived from three [3] legal statutes which are Energy Regulatory Authority Act of 2011, Petroleum Act 2006 and Electricity Act of 2002. It is there-fore time to celebrate dispensation of a pollution free Green World ‘’.

‘’Companies are encouraged to invest in electric vehicles in order to go green all the time. We move the e-vehicle, making it easy to manage on petroleum. It tells more about sustainability for future generations.

He notes that the future of e-vehicle technology is in the hands of everyone.’’ It talks to us about Zimbabwe becoming an upper-middle Income Economy by 2030.’’  He points out clearly that this is in line with President Mnangagwa’s 2030 vision.

‘’e-vehicle will change this World by addressing issues of climate-change and scarcity of fuel’’ , points it out Engineer  Eddington Mazmbani, Chief Executive Officer of ZERA [Zimbabwe Energy Regulatory Authority .

 ‘’Zero emissions from an efficient engine. This is marvelous to all of us as we save energy issues that remain a challenge in our everyday life. We are now in a new smart World of real sustainable development’’,

Consumers are set to receive the best of clean energy all around to save the earth on the effects of emissions of green-house gases. In order to take this for reality by the end of the day in future we propose these cars to be charged electricity at fuel service stations fed with solar energy and hydro-electricity.

‘’We are pushing for service stations to do the charging of electric energy at service stations. These must serve these electric cars using solar and hydro-power. It is not advisable to use Thermal energy. Off-course, using thermal power from Hwange Power Station is as good as defeating the purpose of using this kind of car because we will be using more and more of thermal power derived from coal. It burns more there at the main power station there-by causing more emissions.

‘’Secondly, we have to push for Government to make it a point that those who import such kind of cars into the country have duty free service at the boarders. This encourages more and more buyers. The car is just 30% more in terms of its price as compared to an ordinary vehicle of the same type which are not electrified.

‘’Technology is here to stay but it started long back in 1930. Thus, when solar powered vehicles were talked of but only that it was a time when cars were few, we had less challenges in line with transport at the same time the era of climate-change was not yet there.’’  Says ZERA Consumer Services Manager Engineer Nobert Mataruse .

Rwanda 1n 2019 launched a Volkswagen vehicle which was the 1st one in Africa. It is however noted clearly that some other countries have similar type of cars. The Nissan Car was bought from Development Power Africa subsidiary of ECONET a mobile Service provider.

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