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African Development Bank approves $4 million grant to bolster South Sudan’s COVID-19 response
June 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

As of June 15, 2020, the country had reported 1,693 cases, 27 deaths and 49 recoveries.

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) on Wednesday approved a UA 3 million ($4.16 million) grant to South Sudan to support the emergency response to COVID-19 and strengthen the country’s fragile health system.

The grant, from the Transitional Support Facility of the Bank Group’s African Development Fund, will provide funding for the project to enhance the capacity of South Sudan’s health facilities and to bolster the country’s capacity to detect cases and curb the spread of the virus.

The world is facing an unprecedented challenge of containing the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigating its impact on people’s lives, livelihoods and economies. South Sudan reported its first case of COVID-19 on April 5, 2020, followed by increasing numbers of cases daily. As of June 15, 2020, the country had reported 1,693 cases, 27 deaths and 49 recoveries. The country remains at high risk. With limited hospital bed capacity, gaps in health workers’ skills and competencies and a lack of functioning medical equipment, South Sudan is ill-prepared to respond to the pandemic.

Currently, the small number of confirmed cases are being managed at the country’s sole infectious disease facility, the Dr. John Garang Infectious Diseases Unit. However, the current capacity of the facility is only 24 beds. There are limited facilities and capacities for isolation and management of COVID-19 cases at the state level as all samples from suspected COVID-19 cases have to be brought to Juba by air for testing. There are a limited number of isolation facilities outside the capital and no Intensive Care Unit (ICU) capacity.

The bulk of activities under the Bank-funded project will focus on improving facilities for the management of COVID-19 cases, including the procurement of oxygen cylinders and vital signs equipment and the recruitment and training of health workers. It will improve capacity for the detection of cases and the tracing of contacts.

African Development Bank Country Manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu noted that  while too early to estimate the full economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic on South Sudan’s growth performance, given the disruptions to businesses in South Sudan’s key trading partners including China, Uganda, Kenya, and Italy, a notable economic impact of COVID19 is likely to be felt in the medium to long term. 

The project will be implemented by a team at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in close coordination with South Sudan’s Ministry of Health. It falls under the framework of the Bank’s COVID-19 Response Facility (CRF) of up to $10 billion, which is the institution’s main channel to provide assistance to African countries to cushion the economic and health impacts of the crisis.

*AFDB
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USA contributes US$10 million to support hungry Zimbabweans in urban areas
June 16, 2020 | 0 Comments
Eddie Rowe, WFP Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director.
Eddie Rowe, WFP Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today welcomed an additional US$10 million in funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) for families in urban areas of Zimbabwe struggling to meet their daily food needs due to the impacts of COVID-19.

The contribution will assist almost 100,000 people with monthly cash transfers equivalent to US$13 each, enabling them to meet almost two-thirds of their daily food requirements.

A September 2019 Zimbabwe Vulnerability Assessment Committee (ZimVAC) report said that more than 2.2 million people in cities and towns faced food insecurity, not least because of surging prices.  COVID-19 has exacerbated economic instability, significantly impacting urban residents already living hand to mouth, many of them working multiple jobs in the informal sector. WFP forecasts that by March next year at least 3.3 million people – almost half (47%) the country’s urban population – will be food insecure.

“This additional funding underscores the strong commitment of the American people and government to the people of Zimbabwe” said US Ambassador Brian A. Nichols. 

“This generous and timely contribution will help alleviate the suffering of a large number of people struggling to cope with the twin shocks of COVID-19 and a still deteriorating economy,” said Eddie Rowe, WFP Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director.

WFP is scaling up its urban assistance programme to deliver monthly cash transfers to at least 550,000 Zimbabweans in 20 of the country’s most food insecure urban areas.

*WFP

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Government’s commitment to diversify Angola’s economy continues to offer opportunities for investors in the power sector
June 15, 2020 | 0 Comments
Joao Baptista Borges, Angola’s Minister of Energy and Water

Angola expects to implement a USD 400 million two-phase project in the clean energy segment, funded by the World Bank and the French Development Agency.

Notwithstanding the ongoing crisis in the oil sector globally that has led to significant drops in government revenue, the Angolan Government has said it remains ever more committed to the diversification of the country’s economy away from oil revenue dependence.

The government’s push to increase production nationally and hence reduce imports, especially food imports, consists of a number of initiatives that include major investments in power infrastructure. The development of the power industry, with the aim of providing cheap, reliable and affordable energy for both industry and the population is a key pre-requisite for the development of Angola’s productive sector.

According to H.E Joao Baptista Borges, Angola’s Minister of Energy and Water, the government is prepared to invest around USD 500 million over the next two years in solar energy projects in the country as part of a strategy to increase clean energy generation, and bring electricity to the entire country. This statement was given by Minister Borges in Addis Ababa during the 3rd African Business Forum, promoted by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), on February 11th, 2020.

Additionally, Angola expects to implement a USD 400 million two-phase project in the clean energy segment, funded by the World Bank and the French Development Agency (AFD). The project aims at improving the distribution of electricity in four key provinces. The Project also expects to reform the structure of public companies in the sector with the aim of increasing access to affordable Energy for Angola’s underserved populations. On May 29, the government started a public consultation to determine the environmental impact of the project.  

The Angolan state oil company, Sonangol, and Italian major Eni signed in June 2019 an agreement that created Solenova Ltd. The purpose of this jointly-controlled company is to assess and develop renewable energy opportunities in Angola. ENI and the Angolan Government also agreed to jointly develop the 50MW Caraculo Solar Plant in Angola´s south western province of Namibe.

In the coming months, according to the Minister of Energy and Water, another 300MW of solar energy will be installed in the country, equivalent to a third of the capacity of the Cambambe hydroelectric plant (one of the main power structures in Angola), which, according to Minister João Baptista Borges, shows the government’s commitment to renewable energy, especially whenever generation costs are competitive.

“We see many projects in the pipeline in Angola, in addition to those that are already ongoing. This is a testament that the government is serious about boosting industrialisation with the help of affordable energy. I believe these investments will pay off in the coming years and for generations to come,” said Verner Ayukegba, Senior Vice President of the African Energy Chamber. According to him, Angola even has the potential of becoming a future exporter of energy into the region. The existence of all major International Oil Companies (IOCs) is an added advantage to Angola as these companies seek to increase their non-carbon footprint by investing in clean energy projects. While Eni seems to be leading the way in Angola with its solar initiatives, others are set to follow. French oil company Total for instance has initiated negotiations with the Angolan government, and an agreement is anticipated on other clean energy generation projects soon.

The minister also revealed that the country is already working with Africa50, a pan-african infrastructure investment platform created to promote infrastructure investments accross Africa.

Business Opportunities in the power sector are expected to increase given that 50% of the Angolan population still does not have reliable access to electricity. According to Minister João Baptista Borges, the Angolan Electricity Sector Development Plan and the Energy Security Plan point to the construction of a capacity of about 600 MW of solar energy in the country by 2022, with the installation of about 30,000 individual photovoltaic energy production systems, in line with the country´s National Development Plan 2018-2022. In order to achieve this goal, the minister notably stressed that the government will open up the sector to competition from the private sector, both national and international.

*Africa Energy Chamber

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Somalia: African Development Bank’s intervention helps to curb COVID-19 in vulnerable communities
June 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

With 2.6 million internally displaced persons in Somalia, the outbreak of COVID-19 poses an additional challenge in an already fragile situation, leaving the population highly vulnerable.

Thankfully, the African Development Bank-financed water supply and sanitation project came in handy as a critical control intervention, although COVID-19 was not anticipated in 2016 when the project was launched.

Through its implementing agency, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), internally displaced persons (IDPs), hard-to-reach rural communities and vulnerable populations now have access to clean water. The project is also promoting good sanitation and hygiene practices by constructing public handwashing stands to help slow the spread of COVID-19 across vulnerable communities in Somalia.

The project received funding from the United Kingdom within the framework of the Multi-Partner Somalia Infrastructure Fund, established in October 2016 to mobilise resources for rehabilitation and development of infrastructure, and related skills development and institutional capacity building. Other donors who have contributed to the Fund include the European Union, Italy and the Islamic Development Bank.

“The African Development Bank and the International Organization for Migration were the first partners to provide us with handwashing facilities and to create community awareness of COVID-19,” said Mohamed Sheik Aden, a medical officer in the Kismayo District in Jubaland.

The $10.4 million Improving Access to Water Supply and Sanitation in Rural Somalia Project, which is to be completed in December 2020, also aims to reduce mortality among children under 5 years.

So far, the project has rehabilitated 26 boreholes and 30 mini water systems, providing 85,282 households with access to clean water. The boreholes are equipped with 18KW solar power systems to ensure their operational sustainability. An additional 30 mini-water systems are  currently being constructed under the project and, once completed will provide  clean water to an additional 20,000 households.

“The continuous hygiene promotion has helped those of us in IDP camps to better understand the pandemic and how handwashing is critical to prevention,’’ said Halima Aden of the Danwadaag IDP settlement in Dhobley Port of Entry.

In close coordination with the Somali Ministry of Water and Energy, Ministry of Health, and Federal Member States, 62 handwashing points have been established at health facilities, ports of entry, markets, and community centres in Kismayo and Dhobley IDP sites in Jubaland State.

Additional 60 handwashing points will be established in the coming months.  

By the end of May 2020, the project had provided access to handwashing facilities to 60,000 people and distributed soap and sanitary materials to 2,209 vulnerable households. This intervention has helped to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. There are plans to distribute washing soap to 2,000 vulnerable households over the next weeks.

Hygiene promoters have been engaged to educate communities on preventive practices, in line with World Health Organization guidelines. These efforts have improved hygiene levels in the camps, helping vulnerable communities and families curb the spread of the coronavirus and other sanitation-related diseases.

As at the end of May 2020, there were 81 trained hygiene promoters with a target to reach 14,368 vulnerable households (80,311 individuals). There were also 225 community hygiene workers. COVID-19 prevention materials were translated in Somali language and distributed. There are plans to reach an additional 10,000 households (60,000 people) over the next weeks.

“I now have the opportunity to clean my hands before and after visiting the health centre in my community. This is critical to the prevention of COVID-19,” said a user simply identified as Aisha.

“Before the handwashing facilities were installed, patients coming to the centres had contact with walls, chairs, tables and sometimes with us, increasing the risks for everyone to get infected,” said Hamdi Muktar, a client at a health facility in Alaneley.

*AFDB

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Tribalism and the Church in Anglophone Cameroon
June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Rev Fr Joseph Awoh*

*Rev Fr Joseph Awoh is Vice Chancellor of Catholic University of Cameroon,Bamenda

A tribe is basically a group of people that includes many families and relatives who have the same language, customs, and beliefs. Cameroon has over two hundred tribes and tribe is one of our strongest markers as Cameroonians. There is nothing wrong with belonging to a tribe and no one chooses the tribe into which they are born. Over time, however, the word has taken on other meanings and, today, can also refer to an interest group united around a leader and an idea. In this way each of us belongs to a number of tribes including – in Cameroon and most of Africa – the one into which we were born. Again, this is good and beneficial. Human beings are not built to survive without group support. For a long time in human history this group support has been crucial for identity, for a sense of belonging and for survival.

It is from the word tribe that tribalism is derived. Up until the mid-20th century, tribalism was exclusively used to describe aspects of living in a traditional tribe. However, like the word tribe, tribalism also evolved and took on a more derogatory meaning. Today, tribalism is often seen as putting one’s own group above every other consideration, including justice. It is used to describe people who are overly loyal to their tribal group and exalt it above all others, whether these are ethnic, religious, professional or just interest groups. It is the behaviour and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or interest group and leads one to support them whatever they do.

In our Cameroonian context, some persons have come to view their own tribe and culture as inherently superior to that of others and this has led to deep distrust between tribes. This distrust manifests itself in relations between Anglophones and Francophones, between north westerners and south westerners, between northerners and southerners, between Bangwa and Bayangi, between Mbessa and Oku, and so on. You only need to look at the political scene in Cameroon to see how we have been splintered along tribal and regional lines. And this is basically why the government has come up with the doctrine of living together. At its very worst, tribalism can lead to ethnic cleansing and genocide as we have seen it happen elsewhere. In fact, those words have been used recently in Cameroon (rightly or wrongly) to describe the socio-political crisis which we are going through in the northwest and southwest regions.

Elizabeth Segal holds that we are built to be tribal but sometimes tribalism goes too far[1]. It becomes “bad tribalism”, a group identity that fosters the bullying and scapegoating of people who are different to us. We see this everyday in sports and social life but, in the last two weeks, the death of George Floyd, a black man choked to death by a white police officer kneeling on his windpipe for close to nine minutes, has shone a light on racism in America like nothing else has since the 1960s. The phenomenon in sports when fans make monkey chants and throw bananas at black players and athletes and the unequal treatment of blacks in the United States of America and elsewhere is called racism. While we all understand that bad tribalism in Cameroon is not the exact equivalent of racism, it is indicative of the way most people feel the effects of tribalism. Victims of tribalism feel the same way black Americans are feeling right now.

And that is why, as a Catholic priest, I feel really sick when bad tribalism rears its ugly head in the Church. For a long time our priests and fellow Christians on the other side of the Moungo did not want bishops appointed to them from other ethnic groups. Recent examples where tribal sentiments have superseded reason and faith and turned the church into the laughing stock of society include the Archdioceses of Yaounde and Douala. As Anglophones we prided ourselves of a different tradition and argued that this should not happen in the Church. But, as most of Anglophone society has swapped Anglo-Saxon traditions for those of our brothers and sisters east of the Moungo, the Anglophone Church has followed suit. Instead of leading society in the spiritual and moral domains, society is leading us. We have begun to agitate for priests and bishops to be appointed along tribal and ethnic lines and for a regional balance in these appointments, even as we witness how regional balance and tribal and ethnic considerations in politics has trumped professionalism and fostered incompetence in high places and wreaked havoc in an otherwise truly blessed country. As north westerners and south westerners what benefit has the appointment of Prime Ministers from our regions brought to us and to our communities? Nothing at all, except to those who belong to the tribe of their families and cronies. How will the appointment of a Bishop from my tribe, my interest group or region benefit me? Will it make me a better Christian, a holier person or will it bring me and the members of my interest group closer to the centre of Church power and give me advantages over others? How will the appointment of a priest to a particular post of responsibility benefit me as a Catholic Christian? Will this benefit be material or spiritual?

In Living the Priesthood[2], I listed the criteria which the Diocesan Pastoral Council of Portsmouth Diocese produced when they were searching for a replacement for Bishop Crispian Hollis who was retiring. Among these criteria was one that specifically asked that the prospective bishop should not come from Portsmouth Diocese. It said: Not a priest of this diocese, a man new to us all. The good of the diocese and the Church came before their personal interests and tribal considerations, and Rome appointed Bishop Philip Egan, a priest of the Diocese of Shrewsbury. How did we come to this point in this country where appointment committees and placement boards have to look over their shoulders all the time before appointing priests to positions of responsibility in their dioceses and in the Church to ensure that every tribe and ethnic group has a fair share of the ecclesiastical cake?

We are walking a very slippery slope as Christians and the option to follow the failed political model of regional and tribal balance is outright wrong and unchristian. And why is this wrong? First, we are all human beings and Christians. We cannot condemn bad tribalism in sports and in political and social life in America and elsewhere and encourage it in the Church of God. St. Paul tells us that in Christ, “there is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Second, the mission which Christ gave us before ascending to the Father was to go make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20). The mission of the Church is not to grow our tribes, advance our agendas, increase our platforms and enlarge our visibility. Third, when we are tribal in the Church, we destroy the unity for which Christ himself prayed in John 17:21 – May they all be one! Fourth, we are taking over control of the Church from the Holy Spirit who guides her and enthroning ourselves in His place. In other words, we are saying the Holy Spirit has not been able to do His work and we are replacing Him. This is an abomination. Finally, tribalism as behaviour and attitudes that stem from strong loyalty to one’s own tribe or social group and leads one to support the tribe whatever they do is simply devilish. It chokes its victims in the same way racism is choking our brothers and sisters elsewhere and it chokes the entire Church.

I am not unaware that in the history of the Church, nepotism and similar evils have been practiced, even in the highest of offices, but I do not think that we are here to propagate evils which the Church herself has condemned in the past. To point to those practices as an excuse for our tribal behaviour would be tantamount to justifying the evil which we are doing by showing that others before us had engaged in similar evil behaviour. As Church and as individual members of the Church we must all confront the evil of tribalism and not copy what we know to be wrong, no matter who is doing it. For my part I shall pray that my tribal instincts may not hamper the work of the Holy Spirit who leads the Church (and who is blind to tribe, ethnicity and interest group) and that competence and suitability of candidates will be the only criteria for my recommendations to positions of responsibility in the Church. This is what we learn from the selection of the seven deacons in the Acts of the Apostles: non-tribal criteria were set and the selection was done and then the seven were ‘consecrated’ for service. And what was the result? …and the word of God continued to spread (6:1-7).

[1] Elizabeth A. Segal, When Tribalism goes Bad, Psychology Today, March 30, 2019 online at https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/social-empathy/201903/when-tribalism-goes-bad

[2] Joseph Awoh (2016) Living the Priesthood, page 23

*Rev Fr Joseph Awoh is Vice Chancellor of Catholic University of Cameroon,Bamenda

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African Risk Capacity Conference of Parties (CoP) Elects a New Director-General
June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Founder and Chairman of the Dakar-based Advisory firm, Africa Consulting and Trading is the new ARC Group Director General, for a term of four (4) years

The Conference of Parties (CoP) of the African Risk Capacity (ARC) has elected Mr. Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, of the Republic of Senegalas the new ARC Group Director General, for a term of four (4) years. 

The election of Mr Diong, which was ‘without objection’ from all the Members, was consistent with provisions of the Procedure for Electing the Director General which calls for consensus by the Parties, to the extent possible. The CoP commended the ARC Agency Governing Board and the Board of Directors of ARC Insurance Company Ltd (Joint Board) for putting in place a competitive and transparent process for the selection of the ARC Group DG.

The search process for a new Director-General was undertaken by the ARCGroup Director-General Selection Committee that was established by the Joint Board. The Selection Committee was composed of members of the ARC Agency Governing Board, ARC Ltd Board, representatives of the AU Commission and the World Food Programme, and partners. The Search Committee was assisted by an executive search firm; and the position was widely advertised on the ARC website, leading print media on the continent, and shared with relevant professional networks. An initial list of shortlisted three (3) best candidates was circulated to the CoP for the election.

The ARC Group DG-elect, Mr. Ibrahima Cheikh Diong, Founder and Chairman of the Dakar-based Advisory firm, Africa Consulting and Trading (ACT Afrique Group), has over 30 years of professional leadership and management experience in Africa, the United States, Europe and Asia.  His areas of expertise include private sector development, resource mobilization, strategic planning, change management, infrastructure development, financial engineering, strategic communication, environmental policy management, civil engineering, public policy development, public private partnership development,  etc. He was a Senior Africa Banker/Advisor of BNP Paribas in London for over 3 years. Prior to BNP Paribas, he had held several high-level positions in the government of Senegal including Minister,Special Adviser and Ambassador at large to the President of the Republic, Chairman of the Board of Senegal Airlines, Director General of International Cooperation and Permanent Secretary of Energy. His other previous senior positions include Regional Coordinator for Africa of the Public Private Infrastructure and Advisory Facility (PPIAF) and Manager of the SME Solutions Centers (SSCs) at the World Bank and International Finance Corporation, respectively, and Associate/Africa Director at Booz-Allen & Hamilton in the United States. He had also served as a senior consultant to several African and the American governments, UN agencies, international Foundations, African and International private companies and think tanks as well as Director of the Water Resources and Environment of the African Network for Integrated Development. 

Mr Diong holds a Masters’ degree in International Affairs (MIA) with specialisations in international finance and environmental policy management from the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA) at Columbia University in New York City. This is in addition to a Bachelor of Civil Engineering specializing in water resources management from Hohai International University in Nanjing, People`s Republic China among other professional and industry credentials. He is perfectly fluent in English, French, Mandarin Chinese and Wolof, with a working knowledge of Portuguese.

In accordance with the Administrative Service Agreement (ASA) between ARC Agency and the World Food Programme (WFP), a recruitment and contractual process for onboarding of the new DG is underway. Mr. Ibrahima Cheikh Diong is expected to assume office latest by 1 September 2020.

African Risk Capacity (ARC) ARC consists of ARC Agency and ARC Insurance Company Limited (ARC Ltd). ARC Agency was established in 2012 as a Specialized Agency of the African Union to help Member States improve their capacities to better plan, prepare and respond to weather-related disasters. ARC Ltd is a mutual insurance facility providing risk transfer services to Member States through risk pooling and access to reinsurance markets.  ARC was established on the principle that investing in preparedness and early warning through an innovative financing approach is highly cost-effective and can save upward of four dollars for every dollar invested ex ante.

With the support of the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, France, The Rockefeller Foundation and the United States, ARC assists AU Member States in reducing the risk of loss and damage caused by extreme weather events affecting Africa’s populations by providing, through sovereign disaster risk insurance, targeted responses to natural disasters in a more timely, cost-effective, objective and transparent manner. ARC is now using its expertise to help tackle some of the other greatest threats faced by the continent, including outbreaks and epidemics. 

Since 2014, 37 policies have been signed by Member States with US$74million paid in premiums for a cumulative insurance coverage of US$544million for the protection of 54million vulnerable population in participating countries. 

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Ethiopia: The African Development Bank gives $1.2 million for Ethiopia-Sudan railway study
June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
The two-year, comprehensive feasibility study will assess the proposed project’s technical, economic, environmental and social viability

The African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.org) Board of Directors has approved a $1.2 million grant to Ethiopia’s government to finance a feasibility study for construction of a standard-gauge railway (SGR) link between Ethiopia and neighbouring Sudan.

The grant, from the African Development Fund, the Bank Group’s concessional-rate lending arm, would cover 35% of the total estimated $3.4 million cost of the study. The remaining funding will be provided by the NEPAD Infrastructure Project Preparation Facility (NEPAD-IPPF) in the form of a $2-million grant, and by a contribution of $100,000 each from the two countries involved. The financing was approved in January.

The two-year, comprehensive feasibility study will assess the proposed project’s technical, economic, environmental and social viability, as well as alternative financing arrangements, including a public-private partnership (PPP).

The railway line will link Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Khartoum in Sudan, with an extension to Port Sudan on the Red Sea. The route, agreed by both governments, stretches 1,522 kilometres between Addis Ababa and Port Sudan.

According to the document presented to directors of the African Development Fund, the absence of a regional arterial route linking Ethiopia, Sudan and other countries in the Horn of Africa is a brake on trade, development and regional integration. The movement of goods and people between Sudan and Ethiopia often requires the use of several modes of transport, which increases costs and lengthens journey times.

The feasibility study’s findings will be keenly awaited because its implementation would benefit a large proportion of Ethiopia’s 110 million people and 43 million inhabitants of Sudan, as well as populations in the wider region.

The proposed project is aligned with the Bank’s Country Strategy Paper 2016-2020 for Ethiopia. It is also consistent with the long-term development goals of the Sudanese Government, as set out in its national 25-year strategy (2007-2031). It also accords with the Bank’s Ten-Year Strategy 2013-2022 and the operational priority of infrastructure development. The proposed project also would satisfy four of the Bank’s High 5 strategic priorities: Integrate Africa, Feed Africa, Industrialize Africa, and Improve the Quality of Life for the People of Africa.
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African Development Bank announces 100 finalists for IDEATHON #Africavs Virus challenge
June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank has announced the 100 finalists from the #AfricaVsVirus Challenge ideathon to find solutions to challenges raised by the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.

Some 25,000 participants from across Africa and beyond, joined the online platform to pitch their ideas for innovative solutions to the health and economic challenges caused by the virus. Participants in the 72-hour ideathon curated 750 solutions, from which an expert panel selected the Top 100 Solutions.

“The quality of ideas and the level of engagement from participants during the online challenge showcases that innovation and a passion to find solutions are among Africa’s greatest resources,” said Dr. Jennifer Blanke, the Bank’s Vice President for Agriculture, Human and Social Development. “We’re looking forward to the next phase of the #AfricaVsVirus competition that will aim to boost the viability of the top solutions.”

The solutions were focused on specific thematic areas relevant to the African context, such as public health and epidemiology, vulnerable populations, businesses & economy, community, education, entertainment, government support, environment and energy and food security.

More than 4,000 moderators and mentors facilitated and supported the teams during the ideathon, making it one of the largest online brainstorming events ever conducted on the continent to seek out African solutions to African challenges.

Judges evaluated submissions based on several criteria, including the relevance of solutions, the implementation plan, and the impact and quality of the team. The experts included: Yana Watson, Global Managing Partner Emeritus at Dalberg Global Development Advisors; Ada Osakwe, Creative Food Entrepreneur and Investor at Agrolay Ventures; and Vanessa M. Moungar, Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society at the African Development Bank Group.

Through the African Development Bank’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab Platform, the Bank will now act as an enabler to match the most relevant solutions to the initiative’s 140+ partners.

The Bank will award the 20 best solutions out of the Top 100 Solutions finalists, further technical assistance. In addition, the 20 winners will be eligible to receive, from a pool of in-kind prizes, worth more than $1 million in awards, to be announced in September.

The #AfricaVsVirus challenge is part of the Bank’s continent-wide response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Bank has launched a $10 billion Covid Response Facility to help countries strengthen their health and social protection systems as well as build economic resilience to sustain jobs and livelihoods.

The primary objective of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy is to harness the innovation, creativity and energy of Africa’s youth to solve Africa’s challenges. The AfricaVsVirus Challenge is implemented by the Bank strategy Innovation and Entrepreneurship Lab as well as the Youth Entrepreneurship & Innovation Multi-Donor Trust Fund working together with implementing partners Seedstars(link is external), digital agency WAAT(link is external) and development consultants Luvent Consulting(link is external).

The full list of the Top 100 Solutions finalists will be posted to the #AfricaVsVirus website, www.africavsvirus.com

*AFDB

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Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP) participates in financing the first Independent Sewage Treatment Plant in Saudi Arabia
June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Ahmed Ali Attiga
Financing underscores APICORP’s commitment towards supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the Kingdom’s sanitization infrastructure

APICORP provides USD40mn in financing towards Saudi Arabia’s first independent sewage treatment plant in Dammam, sponsored by the private sector; Total project facility amounts to USD160mn; ISTP Project is worth USD245mn; Financing underscores APICORP’s commitment towards supporting Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the Kingdom’s sanitization infrastructure.

The Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP), a multilateral development financial institution, announced today that it has provided USD40 million in financing to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s first Independent Sewage Treatment Plant (ISTP) sponsored by the private sector – out of a total project finance facility worth USD160 million. Financing for the facility was provided in collaboration with The National Commercial Bank (NCB) and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation Europe Limited (SMBC). The total cost of the project stands at approximately USD245 million, and is in line with the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan goal for the optimal use of water resources and to encourage private sector participation in economic development initiatives

Located in Dammam, the Dammam ISTP was awarded to a consortium which comprises Metito, Mowah Company CJSC, and Orascom Construction – who each own 40%, 40% and 20% respectively – by the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) acting through the Saudi Water Partnership Company (SWPC).

The USD160 million financing facility, which has a tenor of 27 years, will be used for the overall development, engineering, construction, operation and maintenance of the Dammam ISTP.

Dr. Ahmed Ali Attiga, Chief Executive Officer of APICORP, said: “As a trusted financial partner to the region’s energy sector, we are pleased to play our part in supporting the first independent sewage treatment plant in Saudi Arabia. By utilizing world-class facilities and technologies, the project will upgrade the existing infrastructure and enable it to effectively recycle waste water. Partnerships between the private and public sectors in financing sustainable energy projects is key and remains a strategic focus for APICORP now more than ever. We are pleased to contribute to the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 through this initiative that enhance the sustainability of the Kingdom’s utilities network.”

On behalf of the Consortium, Rami Ghandour, Metito Managing Director, said: ‘While the world is navigating unprecedented and testing times due to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, we are delighted to achieve a strategic milestone for the water and wastewater industry in the region with the successful financial closing of the Dammam ISTP. The financial structure for this pioneering project and the backup received from reputable local and international banks and financial institutions is a clear testament to its importance, impact and to the confidence of all stakeholders in its sustainable success.”

The construction of the ISTP has already begun, with commercial operations scheduled to begin in July 2022. The project has a design capacity of up to 350,000 cubic meters per day and an average daily flow treatment capacity of 200,000 cubic meters per day.

The Dammam ISTP will boast world-class and energy efficient facilities including inlet works, an inlet balancing tank, a treatment plant, pumping facilities, final effluent discharge and ISTP outfall pumping station, an electrical sub-station and connections as well as sludge treatment beneficial use facilities.

Furthermore, the project is expected to create job opportunities for Saudis and support overall sustainable development within the Kingdom.

The Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP) is a multilateral development financial institution established in 1975 by an international treaty between the ten Arab oil exporting countries. It aims to support and foster the development of the Arab world’s energy sector and petroleum industries. APICORP makes equity investments and provides project finance, trade finance, advisory and research. APICORP is rated “Aa2” with stable outlook by Moody’s and its headquarters is in Dammam, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

*APICORP
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Post-COVID recovery should lock in ocean sustainability, says Commonwealth Secretary-General
June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland 

The Commonwealth Secretary-General is urging governments to ensure their countries’ post-COVID economic recoveries are environmentally sustainable and safe for the ocean.

Forty-seven of the Commonwealth’s 54 member countries have a coastline while 25 are either small island developing states or ‘big ocean states’ relying heavily on the ocean for food and income.

On World Oceans Day (8 June), Secretary-General Patricia Scotland calls on countries to reform development strategies in a way that supports vibrant and sustainable blue and green economies.

She said: “The ocean is the life blood of so many Commonwealth countries and our environment should be the cornerstone as we put plans in place to recover our economies. The Commonwealth covers more than a third of coastal oceans in the world, contributing to a global ocean-based economy valued at US$3 to 6 trillion per year.

“COVID-19 impact has radically altered some of our key economic sectors and transformed the way we live, communicate and do business. While the fallout from the pandemic has had a huge impact on our blue economies, it also presents a crucial opportunity to strategise on how to accelerate the transition towards more sustainable economic practices built on climate resilience and ocean sustainability.

“The Commonwealth Blue Charter is one of the most effective platforms for global ocean action in the international landscape today. I commend the work of our member countries through the action groups and welcome the support we have received from national, regional and global partners, enabling us to mobilise together for ocean health.”

The Blue Charter is the Commonwealth’s commitment to work together to protect the ocean and meet global ocean commitments. Ten action groups, led by 13 champion countries, are driving the flagship initiative. More than 40 countries have signed up to one or more of these action groups, and counting.

Commonwealth Blue Charter action groups include: Sustainable Aquaculture (led by Cyprus), Sustainable Blue Economy (Kenya), Coral Reef Protection and Restoration (Australia, Belize, Mauritius), Mangrove Ecosystems and Livelihoods (Sri Lanka), Ocean Acidification (New Zealand), Ocean and Climate Change (Fiji), Ocean Observations (Canada), Commonwealth Clean Ocean Alliance (marine plastic pollution – United Kingdom, Vanuatu), Marine Protected Areas (Seychelles) and Sustainable Coastal Fisheries (Kiribati) .

Members of the private sector, academia and civil society – including Vulcan Inc, Bloomberg Philanthropies, the Association of Commonwealth Universities, Nekton Foundation and many others – are also engaged as Blue Charter partners.

*Commonwealth

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MAGGI brings a fresh twist to popular African meals with a new website and dishes up more Yelo Pèppè drama
June 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
The brand’s latest launches are just a few of the innovative ways MAGGI is meeting its consumers’ digital and nutritional appetites

Nestlé brand MAGGI has launched a first-of-its-kind website in Central and West Africa, offering fresh new twists to well-known African dishes.

It is also serving up a second season of Yelo Pèppè – its popular online nutrition education drama series –  on YouTube  from June 8, 2020.

The brand’s latest launches are just a few of the innovative ways MAGGI is meeting its consumers’ digital and nutritional appetites, while also contributing to Nestlé’s purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future .

Get inspired by the new MAGGI website

The MAGGI website, which provides over 40 African recipes on an easy-to-use platform, can help families cook balanced and nutritious meals.

Now that many of us are spending more time cooking at home, who isn’t stuck for new food ideas? Get some inspiration from the Recipe of The Day or the With A Twist section! There are recipes for kids, adventurous cooks, those who love a classic dish and time-saving one pot meals, all available in English and French.

MAGGI innovates once more by providing different variations of beloved African dishes that offer something for every food lover,” said Dominique Allier, Business Executive Officer for Culinary at Nestlé Central and West Africa. “We are proud to be the first region worldwide chosen by MAGGI to launch this unique website”, he added.

The new website, which was built in collaboration with top African chefs, expert nutritionists and local food influencers, provides helpful tips in some recipes on how to boost your iron intake  and balance dishes.

“As well as highlighting the importance of including nutritious diets in our daily lives with well-known family favourites; people across the globe now have easy access to traditional African recipes we know and love”, said Akua Kwakwa, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Manager for Nestlé Central and West Africa.

“For people who are more concerned about sodium, saturated fat and added sugars, the website features the unique ‘MyMenuIQ™’ guide that illustrates how nutritionally-balanced each recipe is. The higher the score, the more balanced the meal is,” she added.

Second helping of Yelo Pèppè drama is served!

Following the success of Yelo Pèppè season one
 , which recorded over 20.3 million online views, MAGGI is excited to present the new second season of the popular show to its fans, bringing back its beloved characters from the first season.

Mina (Ade Laoye), who is now one of the best-known food bloggers in the region, signs up struggling business owner and cook, Anna (Anita Erskine) to the prestigious Cook the Difference Competition.

This turns into a spicy adventure when Moh, the husband of Anna’s business partner, Aida (Aurelie Eliam) enters the competition too.

Isabelle (Sophy Aiida), a new addition to the gang, slowly inches her way into the lives of the other women and we are not sure whether she is friend or foe. 

Things heat up when Nabou (Dieynaba Leurs), Aida’s young niece is used as unwitting tool in a plot against her aunt.

Drama truly is served!

Cook the difference with ‘Simply Good’ commitments

The new website and Yelo Pèppè series are recent examples of how MAGGI is fulfilling the ‘Simply Good
 (https://bit.ly/3gMiGjj) commitments it made to consumers in 2017.

To help people “cook the difference”, MAGGI has been organising local events to encourage healthy cooking, like pop-up kitchens, cooking caravans and online nutrition education programmes, which have reached over 10 million people across the region.

The brand also aims to boost the nutrition of families at an affordable price, by improving the nutritional profile of its bouillons and other products through reducing salt and increasing micronutrients such as iron, to help tackle iron deficiency.

In addition, MAGGI pledges to use more familiar ingredients that people know and can find in their kitchens. For example, Naija Pot , Signature (https://bit.ly/3gJadO1), D3d33d3  and MaMeun are some of the brand’s new products made with everyday ingredients like smoked fish, shrimp, onions, garlic, ginger and chilli pepper.

MAGGI also commits to increasing local sourcing and building to the local economy, creating more value for society. For example, 100% of MAGGI bouillons sold in Central and West Africa are manufactured by its 2,000+ local employees. Also, nearly three quarters of the raw materials used in these products are sourced locally from suppliers, providing income and creating job opportunities for thousands of Africans.


Go online

To add new balanced and tastier twists to your family meals at home, don’t forget to check out the new MAGGI website on maggi.com.ghmaggi.ng,  maggi.snmaggi.cm and maggi.ci.

You can also watch the new season of Yelo Pèppè on MAGGI’YouTube

*Nestle

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Côte d’Ivoire :Report on the fight Against Child Labor rejected
June 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara

The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara has dismissed the eligibility of the findings from the draft report by NORC on progress in the country’s fight against child labor terming the report as “illegible and misleading”  

The 2018-2019 survey carried out by NORC is pending publication come June 29, 2020 and it is about child labor in Cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The report soughts to draw conclusions from the previous surveys carried out on the prevalence of child labor in both countries.

Looking at the previous surveys carried out by the university of Tulane in 20008-2009 and in 2013-2014, the NORC cited there was a huge progress over the years.

The draft of the report noted that there was “a sharp drop in the number of hours children from households involved in cocoa growing used to spend in cocoa plantations while the number of those attending school significantly increased,”


Report dismissed

Much as NORC may be getting ready to publish its report in June, the National committee in charge of fighting Child Labor (CNS) in French acronym has expressed its concerns about the report’s eligibility and relevance.   

The committee chaired by the first lady Dominique Ouattara cited some shortcomings, gaps and methods in previous findings by the 2013-2014 Tulane surveys that NORC referred to.  

Such gaps are in relation with the sampling methods and data collections periods, the first lady’s team noted.

Others, the First Lady’s team said are the comparison of data from the previous Tulane university and those from NORC’s survey which the committee termed as a “misleading comparison’

“Several workshops were held over the past months in Abidjan and in Washington , DC and we raised concerns and USDOL as regards to shortcomings of 2018-2019 survey methodologies,” reads a statement from CNS.

“Much as errors were acknowledged, NORC remained reluctant to make any corrections,” it added.

As a result, the First Lady who also doubles as CNS President has stressed that her country would not approve the findings from the 2018-2019 survey.

“Côte d’Ivoire cannot approve the current version of 2018-2019 survey as it has some flaws,” the Frst Lady Dominique Ouattara said.

Côte d’Ivoire it is worth noting  has made significant progress in fighting child labor spearheaded by CNS as witnessed in the Child Labor Report Book 2018.

The country also ranks among top 12 countries that have put in more efforts to fight child labor worldwide, according to the report by the United States of America on Child Labor.

The American report says that “Côte d’Ivoire got the highest ranks and emerged among the top 12 countries out of 134 countries that were assessed, adding that the African country has held such position for the last successive years.”

The United States’ Trade and Development Act of 2000 states that all countries across the world should demonstrate their commitment to remove any form of child labor if they are to be eligible as beneficiaries of various services.

Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s leading producer of cocoa and it has passed the target of producing two million tonnes in 2019.  

The price of Cocoa stands at 825 CFA per kilogram, and the country has committed itself to intensify productivity in a sustainable way geared towards meeting the growing demand while maintaining its global perfomance.

*Ivory Coast Embassy,Washington,DC

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