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A Heartfelt Tribute to Institutions and People Who Never Stop Caring
October 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nafissatou N’diaye Diouf

Nafissatou N’diaye Diouf
The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize has created a renewed impetus to rally around hunger, scale-up efforts to mobilize much-needed funds.


The sight of David Beasley, in a recent tweet, sitting on the floor of the World Food Programme (WFP) office in Niger surrounded by staff, celebrating a well-deserved Nobel peace prize win, brought back memories of Nasseiba Ali.

I was on assignment for the Associated Press to uncover an ongoing acute food crisis in Niger. My journey led me to a life-changing encounter with Ali, a 20-month-old girl who weighed just 12 pounds.

I waved, talked, sang to her, but it prompted no reaction from Ali. Little did I know that her eyes clouded at night, one of the symptoms of her chronic malnourishment. 

A mission initially scheduled for one week stretched for an entire month and led me to Zinder, Maradi, Tawa, and Agadez. I met Ali and her grandmother at a feeding center set up in Maradi, 540 kilometers (335 miles) from Niamey, the capital of Niger.

Ali was lucky to make it to the center, barely alive after her grandma trekked several hours with her on her back.

Despite an exceptionally hard and emotionally charged assignment, I witnessed first-hand the outstanding work of hundreds of dedicated and selfless champions on the frontline of hunger. 

The WFP’s 2020 Nobel Peace Prize win is only natural. Indeed, it is a testimony of the humanitarians’ admirable mission to help end world hunger, often in emergency settings. 

Today, 690 million people still go to bed on an empty stomach.

One in nine people worldwide still does not have enough to eat.

The WFP’s gong is a defining moment in history, yes, but more importantly, it has moved the critical issue of hunger on top of the global agenda. Thus, igniting and conveying a renewed sense of urgency.

It is a defining moment for the institution forging ahead to move the needle on ending world hunger, the leadership of its Executive Director.

The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize has created a renewed impetus to rally around hunger, scale-up efforts to mobilize much-needed funds.

Despite raising US$ 8bn in 2019, US$ 4.1 billion is still needed to bridge the funding gap. 

At stake are the lives of millions on the brink of starvation.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee described the humanitarian organization as “a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict.”

Without taking away anything from the WFP, I can say that the WFP’s gong is a defining moment in history for multilateralism, and our collective resolve to save lives, change lives and make a difference.

Other equally dedicated multilateral institutions, such as the African Development Bank, the World Bank, the Asian Development, to name just a few, deserve our attention.

Indeed, these institutions provide lifesaving support to millions globally, often in extremely fragile settings.

At the Bank, we did our part to provide relief to our Regional Member Countries with a USD 10 billion COVID Respond Fund. The funds helped bring urgent relief and retool our economies in the wake of the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.

When COVID-19 hit, WFP’s Beasley warned of potential famine of “biblical proportions.”

The Bank’s feed Africa strategy aligns with the WFP’s objectives to end hunger. Approvals under the Bank’s Feed Africa priority amounted to UA 884.7 million in 2019, making a difference in the lives of 20.3 million people, 9.6 million of them women .

Through my lens as an African woman, a wife, the scenes of empty thatched-roof huts where villagers store grain, the scenes of acacia leaves boiled into a thick paste, eaten in the evening in hopes it will lull the children to sleep are still vivid.

Fifteen years after my encounter with Ali, the world is still gripped by vast food insecurity. Yet, there is every reason to be hopeful. Not because the challenges are fewer, not because we have the resources at hand, but simply because there is a sense of renewed impetus around reversing hunger.

As Nelson Mandela said: “remember to celebrate milestones as you prepare for the road ahead.” The 2020 Nobel Peace Prize is a key milestone. A moment to celebrate while we brace up for future challenges and more wins!


About the African Development Bank Group:
The African Development Bank Group is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan, the Bank contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

**Nafissatou N’diaye Diouf is the Ag. Director, Communication and External Relations of the African Development Group. A former Associated Press Journalist for West and Central Africa, Diouf has covered several crises including an acute food crisis in Niger in 2005.
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Aid for Sex Rampant in Uganda: UN Report
October 13, 2020 | 1 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

An expose by a whistleblower has revealed rampant acts of sexual exploitation by United Nations workers working in Uganda. The expose singled out a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) staffer who used his position to sexually abuse and exploit a “female victim”. At the same time, the expose also revealed a more general pattern of rampant sexual misconduct by UN staff working at the World Food Programme compound in the town of Moroto, Uganda’s poorest region.

Following the expose by the whistleblower, the UN’s Office of Internal Oversight Services opened an inquiry earlier this month (September) to investigate and potentially prosecute those fingered as culprits.

In the expose, the whistleblower highlighted that there was a rather unfortunate pattern of gross sexual misconduct amongst UN staff working at the World Food Programme compound in the town of Moroto. The expose revealed that a significant proportion of UN staff at the WFP compound was demanding sex from local women in exchange for food. Some even went to the extent of hiring sex workers whom they brought into the compound breaching UN security protocol regulations.

Reports of entry into the compound by sex workers has also put private guards at the compound in a dilemma as all visitors to the base are supposed to be vetted before entry into the premises.

The reports of gross sexual misconduct as revealed by the whistleblower were corroborated by some of the staff working at the compound that preferred to speak on condition of anonymity.

The World Food Programme compound in Moroto is home to several UN staff as it provides office space as well as sleeping quarters. The compound is located in one of Uganda’s poorest regions. According to the WFP, more than 500 000 people living in Moroto are in critical need of food assistance.

Speaking after the expose by the whistleblower, WFP’s Nairobi based regional spokesperson, Amanda Lawrence-Brown said, “We have been informed of the allegations made against UN staff residing at the compound managed by WFP in Moroto and are investigating…There is no place for any form of sexual harassment, exploitation, or abuse at the World Food Programme, including by non-WFP staff residing at compounds managed by WFP in the field.”

 The UN’s Resident Coordinator in Uganda, Rosa Malango did weigh in on the issue as she sent an email to all UN heads of agencies in the country stating, “I look forward to the updates from UN heads on action taken so far including the immediate suspension of staff pending the conclusions of investigations.’’

Speaking to The New Humanitarian, Malango said that the allegations on sexual misconduct by UN staff are serious and investigations are already underway. However, she said she is not in a position to say much as she is awaiting the whole process to be completed before speaking authoritatively. Malango said the “concerned agencies are dealing with the issue…Internal procedures are under way and we cannot comment until the facts have been established…These are allegations which need to be investigated.”

Sensible as Malango’ statement is, she however has received criticism from a group of UN staff. In an email to The New Humanitarian, the group said Malango’s email to the heads of UN agencies contained “confidential and sensitive information” which should “never have been circulated to internal email groups.” The group further said that Malango’s email was a plot on her part to play politics and divert attention away from her own “incompetence”.

The allegations on sexual misconduct by UN staff are serious and investigations are already underway, says Rosa Malango, UN Resident Coordinator
The allegations on sexual misconduct by UN staff are serious and investigations are already underway, says Rosa Malango, UN Resident Coordinator

The email sent to The New Humanitarian by the group used a suggestive title, “Uganda the next Haiti for the UN.” This in reference to the Oxfam scandal in Haiti which saw the British NGO being accused of covering up claims of sexual exploitation by its staff to the victims of the 2010 earthquake.

In her defense, Malango said that her email was never supposed to be shared externally.

The recent scandal is not the first time that UN agencies have found themselves under scrutiny in Uganda. In 2019, at least four people died while more than 300 got sick after eating WFP fortified cereal. The incident happened in the Karamoja region.

*From October Issue of PAV Magazine

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More than 130 applicants to compete in Africa’s solar awards
October 12, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Solar companies and solar individuals have responded with great interest to the inaugural AFSIA Solar Awards competition, the African solar industry’s premier awards ceremony.

  More than 130 entries have been received for this competition, coming from all corners of the continent.

Each application is currently under review and is being evaluated by an independent Jury composed of some of the best African and international experts in solar in Africa, including Eng. Lamya Abdel Hady, Head of Sector Private Projects at EETC in Egypt, Mr Saho, Acting Executive Director of ECREEE in Cape Verde and Mrs Jasandra Nyker, Managing Director of Denham Capital in South Africa to cite a few.

Fifteen  categories are in competition this year, with some of them receiving a very high level of interest. Not surprisingly, the most competitive categories this year include “C&I Project of the Year” and “Mini-Grid Project of the Year”, which is reflective of the increased activity of both of these segments of the African solar industry. “Woman in Solar of the Year” has also been particularly popular among participants. This highlights the very positive trend of the growing involvement of women in the solar industry across the continent.

The awards ceremony is organized in collaboration with the AEF (Africa Energy Forum) and will be conducted online on October 29th, 2020.

This year and given exceptional circumstances, AEF is joining forces with the African Utility Week & POWERGEN Africa plus Oil & Gas Council’s Africa Assembly this October to host a ‘Digital Africa Energy Festival’ – the largest ever energy event for the African continent.

AFSIA Solar Awards is delighted to be hosted by this much respected programme and to unveil the winners during a digital ceremony on October 29th.

The event promises to be a great show celebrating exceptional achievement in the solar industry and will host several African stars to personally award the prizes.

Several leaders of the global industry such as Huawei, Trina Solar and Jinko Solar are also providing their support to make this a truly exceptional event.

Africa is characterized by the wide and rich diversity of solar projects and applications. Contrarily to other regions, we find all kinds of solar applications in Africa ranging from large-scale solar parks to solar home systems, from grid-connected residential systems to off-grid hospitals and schools, from basic PV systems to solar-powered applications such as street lighting, solar irrigation, refrigeration or cook stoves to name a few.

The AFSIA Solar Awards 2020 will see companies and individuals battle it out to win the title in 15 different categories:

  • Utility Scale Solar Project of the Year
  • C&I Solar Project of the Year
  • Mini-grid Solar Project of the Year
  • SHS Solar Project of the Year
  • Residential Solar Project of the Year
  • African Solar Company of the Year
  • African solar entrepreneur/SME of the year
  • Financial Advisor / Consultant of the Year
  • Legal Advisor / Consultant of the Year
  • Technical Consultant of the Year
  • DFI of the Year
  • Woman in solar of the Year
  • Solar Innovation of the Year
  • Solar Picture of the Year
  • Solar Video of the Year

Applications to the AFSIA Solar Awards will be evaluated by some of the most experienced professionals of the African solar industry. These experts will review every application independently and will select the best ones in each category.

This year the jury will be composed of Eng. Lamya Abdel Hady, Head of Sector Private Projects, EETC (Egypt), Bah F.M. Saho, Executive Director, ECREEE (Cape Verde), Jo Dean, Board Member, SAPVIA (South Africa), Jasandra Nyker Managing Director, Denham Capital (South Africa), Aaron Leopold, CEO, AMDA – Africa Minigrid Developers Association (Kenya), Linda Munyengeterwa, Regional Industry Director for Infrastructure, IFC (South Africa), Izael Da Silva, PhD, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research and Innovation Department, Strathmore University (Kenya) and Simon Gosling,  Managing Director, EnergyNet (UK).

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African Development Bank & Africa Energy Forum Launch “African Utility of the Future” Competition With $5,000 Prize
October 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank (AfDB) and EnergyNet, organisers of the Africa Energy Forum (AEF), have created the ‘African Utility of Future’ competition enabling teams to compete for a USD $5,000 prize.

The Power, Energy, Climate and Green Growth Complex (PEVP) of AfDB will participate at AEF2020, mainstreaming the concept of: “The African Utility of the Future” – the theme for the 2019 AfDB-APUA CEO Leadership Forum. This is a continuation on the concept of “The Second Wave of Power Sector Reforms” as it relates to the Sustainable Utility Transformation (SUT) agenda of the Bank – a key component that will continue to drive the Bank’s ‘Light Up and Power Africa’ strategic objective.

The competition seeks to inspire team-building and innovative ideas to transform current utilities into Advanced, Futuristic, SMART, Sustainable and Agile African Power Utilities. The overarching principle is to create a platform for current asset-owners to come up with innovative, realistic, practical and implementable ideas for “leap-frogging” existing utilities in the future. The design will be grounded around the five pillars of the Sustainable Utility Transformation (SUT) agenda:

  • Improved Sector Governance
  • Least Cost Integrated Resource Planning
  • Human Capital Development
  • Sector Reforms   & Financial Sustainability
  • Smart Partnerships & performance monitoring

Submission criteria

The competition opened 8th October with a submission deadline of 6th November 2020. Team entries will remain anonymous, and the use of team names are encouraged. As the objective is to solicit realistic and practical ideas relevant to African utilities currently operating, only submissions from teams representing current Distribution asset owners will be allowed. These Distribution asset owners can be public or private sector, and on-, off- or mini-grid based.

Only the winning team will be named, unless (based on the quality of the submissions) the judges feel that the proposals of the 2nd and 3rd place teams should be mentioned.

Finalists will be announced on 11th November, with the winning team announced on 13th November – the closing date of AEF 2020.

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Barcelona Former International midfielder Alexandre Song builds bilingual school in Cameroon
October 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Former Arsenal and Barcelona midfielder, Alexandre Dimitri Song Billong, better known as Alexandre Song, has completed the construction of a bilingual school of international standing in Cameroon’s economic capital, Douala.

The former defensive midfielder with Cameroon’s national team, Indomitable Lions took to his social media to announce the completion of construction works of the three-floor building which boast of daycare, nursery, primary and secondary school section.

Taking to his IG social media account, Aexandre Song, who is currently club after being dropped in March 2020 by Swiss club, FC Sion described the project as “close to his heart” and expressed satisfaction for his modest contribution to Cameroon.

The school named, Canadian International School and College is already open and has begin receiving students with some seen studying in his social media post.

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UNFPA 2019 Report Shows Zimbabwe’s Surmountable Gains in Humanitarian Work Despite Cyclone Idai and Challenges of Inflation and Economy
October 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Zimbabwe Country Representative Esther Muia
United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Zimbabwe Country Representative Esther Muia

UNFPA is still committed to delivering a World where every pregnancy is wanted, every young person’s potential is fulfilled. In the extremity of hard effort put across world-wide. It strives to fortify on

=zero – maternal deaths

=zero un-met need for family planning

=zero gender-based violence and harmful practices.

In Zimbabwe like in any other country, the Humanitarian organization works on core six areas where it has done a record of high-rated success.

=maternal health

=adolescent sexual reproductive health rights

=gender-based-violence

=family planning

=HIV ana AIDS Community engagement

=population and development ..

                It is the United Nations’ sexual reproductive health rights agency for the past 50 years. It was formed in 1969. Like in any other country it helps improve quality of life for young people.

”We strive to see a nation with young people who have access to all the services provided by UNFPA in fair inclusivity without anyone left out.”

”Thus why we stick on delivering a World where every pregnancy is wanted, every child is safe, every young person’s potential is fulfilled.” says Esther Muia .

She is Zimbabwe Country Director of UNFPA, United Nations Population Fund. The Report posted to the media by its Communications Expert early this week confirms the organization is implementing the 7th country program 2016 to 2020.

Like always Esther Muia is again quoted making the same statement building up on reproductive health.

” We are implementing 7th program for 2016 2020. This seeks to end maternal death, un-met need for family planning, end new HIV infections, gender-based violence and harmful practices ” she posed.

Like ever before, UNFPA has worked with various stake -holders and organizations like the International Conference on Population and Development. Esther takes another reiterant touch portraying her usual style in physical stature.

  ”UNFPA is thankful to ICPD commitment 25 years since the 1994 conference that dropped success for countries in terms of human development related to issues that affect young people and even those older people who need to teach as well young people ”.

 .” There are resolutions on improved access to Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. There are commitments to the Nairobi Summit that we move on with till to the end of young people’s challenges related to sexual reproductive health and rights related to sex and sexuality”

”This is our program of action. It recognizes reproductive health rights, Women empowerment and gender-equality. These are corner-stone of Humanitarian Development’’, she opened up.

UNFPA Intervention, responses and Action to Cyclone Idai ..

Zimbabwe could have failed to achieve gains and success if it was not for responses, interventions and action taken by UNFPA and partners, companies and some Non-Governmental Organizations and countries like USA.

”It was our role as UNFPA. We came to the rescue of girls, women following the devastating cyclone idai that hit Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi.

”We responded by ensuring provision of emergency obstetric and neo-natal care in cyclone affected districts of Chimanimani and Chipinge.”

”Pregnant women were marooned and air-lifted to health facilities. We provided emergency reproductive health kits, hospital beds and auto-claves to support responses to cyclone ida’’ she noted.

The Report further states that there was low institutional maternal death in 2019. This is attributed to crucial investments in safe mother-hood such ad mentorship and on the job training for Doctors, mid-wives, anesthetists and other health care workers. Mid-Wives curricular was reviewed. There are 2 two major fistula camps at Chinoi Hospital and in Masvingo at Mashoko Mission Hospital in Bikita .

Total of 80,624 women have received cervical cancer screening as of 2019. There are family planning choices for women, especially young women.

” Un-met need for family planning is at 12,6% higher than the national average of 10,4%. The objective is to improve accessibility of voluntary family planning services with special focus on awareness on long acting reversible contraceptive device [IUCD] and implants as part of the family-planning mix.” she continues.

There are 200 health service providers trained on IUCD [Intra-Uterine Contraceptive Device] and Implanon [NXT] There are 21,137 IUCD insertions and 131860 implant insertions made in 2019.

Capacity building towards integration has been done. There are 68 family planning providers trained on sexual gender violence and management of Sexual transmitted infections as part of Sexual Reproductive Health services package to be provided to clients seeking family-planning services.

UNFPA empower young people to engage in policy making process. It advocates for the rights of young people to information services related to Sexual Reproductive Health and sexuality. Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education has joined hands with the Ministry of Health and Child Care in support of UNFPA to deliver comprehensive sexuality education in schools.

There are 61,000 young women reached with social behavior change communication and trained behavior change facilitators.  There are decision making platforms for young people at national, regional and global level in terms of choices in family planning. So, far 250 Junior Parliamentarians were trained in sexual reproductive health for preparation on the 10th Parliamentary session.

Tariro clinic Youth Centre in Hopley , Harare is a program for adolescent and youth development . It was officially opened by the President of the Republic of Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2019 on 11 July to mark World Population Day. Gender Based Violence work has been done to the full capacity with the Ministry of Women Affairs, Community and Small to Medium Enterprises. It has created safe space for women and girls confronted with violence and sexual abuse. There are materials, items and prevention tools against gender-based violence against young people, girls and women.

Economic Challenges ..

Population of the country at 15,7 million, UNFPA struggles to push forward looking at everyone who counts. The disturbing forces are related to rising inflation, foreign exchange shortages, limited international support in finance, market distortions.

”This was worsened by drought of 2018 to 2019. Secondly the challenge of climate change which brought cyclone idai which hit Chimanimani and Chipinge in Manicaland last year.”

‘’In terms of the 2022 census we are integrating population issues in development planning working with ZIMSTAT, Stake-holders and Government Ministries. The 2022 census key planning was facilitated in 2019. Preparing documents for census is part of the big work to be done.’’ She added.

At least 5 million people in the country are in need of food. A third of the total population need food aid.  Food Security issues must be addressed according to confirmation from World Food Program and European Union.

National disasters have increased over the past decade. At least US$ 400 million from donors is needed. The economy had grown 3,4% in 2018. It has declined to 6,5% as projected in 2020. The biggest challenge is the health sector deterioration in times of hard-ships. There is need for addition of technology, financial resources, restore health workers confidence and add morale to workers who are still threatening strikes that affect the Health sector.

*Nevson Mpofu is a Lecturer in Sustainable Development, HIV and AIDS at Career Management Centre in Harare . nmnevsonmpofu755@gmail.com ..

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Osinbajo launches World Education Week with call for universal education revolution
October 4, 2020 | 0 Comments
Professor Yemi Osinbajo

His Excellency, Professor Yemi Osinbajo San Gcon, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, today launched the ambitious World Education Week – a six-day online global education showcase with over 85,000 registered online attendees in 146 countries – with a rallying cry supporting education’s key position as the foundation for bringing countries out of poverty.

Today’s launch plenary, watched by a global online audience, featured speeches by global educational leaders such as WEW founder Vikas Pota; Jaime Saavedra, the Global Director for Education at The World Bank; Andreas Schleicher, the Director for Education & Skills at the OECD; further governmental ministers of Education from Ghana, the Philippines and David Edwards, General Secretary of Education International – all of whom shared their visions of accelerating progress toward the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Professor Osinbajo’s speech welcomed the conference and applauded its ambitions:

         “I commend all the organizers and partners for the World Education Week forum – the schools and teachers worldwide, exchanging innovative ideas on how to solve our global educational challenges. This forum will strengthen the efforts of governments to catalyse the collective attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals.

         “We cannot talk about delivering quality education in today’s world without rethinking our models and leveraging on technology; and rethinking our education curricula to give students the relevant knowledge and skills to make them active contributors in today’s economy.”

Osinbajo’s keynote continued that quality of education is key since it is a predictor of a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) – arguing that poor education policies and practices lose economic output, threatening to create a permanent state of economic backwardness.  Increasing education and skills can boost a lower-income country’s GDP by 28% over the next 80 years, he estimated. As a result of that challenge, he added:

         “The Nigerian government has made huge investments in education to achieve equitable education.  We are meeting the challenges of increasing number of out-of-school children; infrastructure inadequacies; teacher shortages; and leveraging on technology and digital learning.

         “If we resolve the education challenge, we will be on the right path to solving our poverty challenge.”

The ground-breaking World Education Week event, featuring over 150 speakers and presentations to an audience of tens of thousands, is led by Vikas Pota, a globally-respected leader and driving force in the education, international development, philanthropy and technology sectors.

In launching the event, Mr Pota said:

         “I am incredibly inspired by the schools that applied to take part in this year’s World Education Week. Their commitment to improving the life chances of their learners by nurturing expertise and wanting to share their experience with others, especially in these challenging times, says a lot about the global education community. They are our heroes and World Education Week provides us all an opportunity not just to learn from them, but to celebrate their successes, too.

         “By sharing the ways in which these schools have developed their expertise, we can encourage others to feel inspired to undertake the same journey to excellence. That is a real and tangible way in which World Education Week can accelerate progress on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals”.

All participating schools have been hand-picked for their expertise across a range of educational themes, such as enhancing employability and life-skills; deepening family and community engagement; the use of technology; a focus on wellbeing; and promoting the science of learning and teaching.  Centred on the theme of ‘Learning Today’, each school will host a virtual event to demonstrate to thousands of other educators how to bring change, based on their own experiences. 

Six Nigerian schools will play key roles in the inaugural showcase from 5-9th October:

  • the Dream Catchers Academy in Ikorodu, Lagos
  • the Christ Anglican Primary school in Ijebu-Ife
  • the LGEA Kurmin Mashi school in Kaduna
  • the Local Government School III in Sango Ota
  • the Baptist Primary School in Ogbogbo
  • the Ikangba Erinlu United Anglican Primary School
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Ghana: The basic need of the cocoa farmer is not price increment; but access to basic amenities.
October 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Cocoa has continually played a central role in Ghana’s economy – as it currently stands as the second largest producer of cocoa beans in the world. The key to this success is anchored by the specific strategies put in place and managed by the state-run COCOBOD. According to the Bank of Ghana, cocoa beans and its products export receipts for the first quarter of 2011 was US$859.4 million, accounting for about 61 percent of total export earnings as compared to US$682.5 million (48.8 percent) in the previous year.

Ghana achieved an increased share of export prices to producers’ price, which with growing global prices in the 2000’s gave producers higher prices. At the same time, two major government programmes initiated in early 2000’s – offered farmers improved varieties, subsidized fertilizer and free pest and disease control for their crops. These programmes triggered a cocoa production revolution by enabling farmers to more than double their yields. This transformation was because cocoa production remains traditional and labour intensive, and enabled smallholder farmers to intensify production to a greater extent compared to larger ones.

But the aspect of the strategic plan to improve land productivity in an attempt to reduce poverty among cocoa growing homes was not implemented. Most communities in the Western -North Region of Ghana – the cocoa growing areas are without basic amenities.  Sefwi Krobo- Manhyia, Sefwi – Akwapim, Accah-krom among other surrounding communities located in the Sefwi Akontombrah constituency are just few examples of the communities that produces high quantities of cocoa for Ghana but remain poor. 

Christiana Amponsah a 45- year- old cocoa farmer at sefwi -Akwapim says the area produced more than 10,000 tons of cocoa every season but has nothing to show for it.  “we produce more than 10, 000 tons of cocoa yet no one cares about us. There are no schools around here for our children they walk about 16 miles to school as such most have quit schooling. We don’t even have access to electricity and our roads are not motorable”

Ghana, under the APL project funded by world bank is to ensure small towns have access to clean water. Per the project, Community Water and Sanitation Authority (CWSA) ought to play a lead role in providing over 500,000 small towns in rural Ghana with clean water.  But many communities still exist without access to clean water. Adjoa Konadu a mother of 4 at Krobo- Manhyia said access to potable drinking is a major challenge for them as they have to trek miles in search of water. “we have to walk miles to fetch this ground water for chores and drinking. From here to the city where we can get treated water is like 16 miles”.

Checks at the Sefwi- Nsawurah health center, situated about 12 miles away from the towns reveals the top 4 cases reported to the facility were pneumonia, respiratory tract infections, malaria and skin diseases. Medical superintendent at the facility Sarah Afful confirms the cases are linked to the environment especially the water they drink and the dusty nature of the roads. “our top four cases have always been pneumonia, respiratory tract diseases, skin diseases and malaria. Unfortunately, they don’t have any other water apart from the ground water, though we have been educating them to boil before it before drinking; she said.

Bright Deberah a private cocoa consultant, revealed most cocoa farmers are shifting focus away from production and venturing into other crops like rice and other produce because farmers toils but it doesn’t translate into better livelihood. He bemoaned why successive governments awards contract for cocoa roads yet areas that produce cocoa for the country remains in deplorable state. He asserts the basic need of the farmer is not price increments but access to basic amenities that makes life comfortable.

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African Development Bank wins global award for COVID-19 bond issue
October 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank was selected in a poll of bond market players as the best issuer in 2020 of a COVID-19 bond for its $3 billion dollar-denominated Fight COVID-19 social bond issued on March 27, 2020.

The winners of the GobalCapital Bond Awards 2020 were announced on 30 September at a ceremony held virtually for the first time in 12 years. GlobalCapital is a leading source of information on global capital markets with coverage of all market segments.

“We are grateful for the market’s recognition of the Bank’s effort in responding quickly to the needs of the continent with its Fight COVID-19 Social Bond which is an important instrument in alleviating the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on African economies and lives. Thanks to the very strong support received by investors, we were able to provide an efficient response at a very challenging time while also catering to the needs of socially responsible investors looking for impactful investments,” said Ms. Bajabulile Swazi Tshabalala, the Bank’s Senior Vice President and Chief Finance Officer.

The Fight COVID-19 bond, floated on the Luxembourg Stock Exchange and significantly oversubscribed, was the world’s largest social bond at time of issuance. The Bank has since listed the bond on both the London Stock Exchange and Nasdaq. Bond proceeds, with a three-year maturity, will go to alleviate the impact of the pandemic on livelihoods and Africa’s economies.

 “The primary debt capital markets’ response to the coronavirus crisis has been resilient and robust.  Institutions all over the world from governments and multilateral development banks, to domestic lenders, to companies have raised vital financing to see them through this extraordinary period,” GlobalCapital noted in its winners’ announcement release.

The bond issue is part of a suite of interventions the Bank has rolled out to strengthen African countries’ responses to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a COVID-19 Response Facility of up to $10 billion to provide flexible and emergency assistance to the Bank’s members to shore up their national budget, economies and livelihoods of their citizens. 

“The African Development Bank is proud of the success of its landmark “Fight Covid-19 Social Bond”, launched  to help alleviate the impact of the pandemic on people’s lives and livelihood. This transaction, the largest social bond at the time of issuance, reflects investors’ confidence in the Bank’s Social Bond framework, and its capacity to deliver. We were among the pioneers in the Social Bond market, and would like to thank all our partners, including the arrangers and investors, for their continued trust and support and share this award and success with them,” said Hassatou N’Sele, Treasurer of the Bank.

The Bank is a recognized pioneer in the social bond sphere. In March 2020, it received the Environmental Finance’s 2020 bond of the year award—SSA category— for a successful one billion Norwegian krone (NOK) social bond issued in 2019. It was the first social bond ever launched in the Norwegian market, and the Bank’s first transaction in Norwegian Krone.

In 2018, the Bank was recognized as “Second most impressive social or sustainability bond issuer” at the Global Capital Socially Responsible Investments Awards. Since 2017, the Bank has launched nearly $5 billion worth of such instruments denominated in US dollars, euros and Norwegian krone.

The Bank is rated AAA by all the major rating agencies. In late 2019, the Board of Governors of the Bank Group approved a 125% increase in the General Capital of the Bank, raising its capital from $93 billion to $208 billion, the largest increase in the institution’s history.

*AFDB

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Wheat blast fungal disease reported for the first time on African Soil
October 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Scientists observe wheat blast in Zambia’s Mpika district. (Photo: Batiseba Tembo/ZARI)

Wheat blast, a fast-acting and devastating fungal disease, has been reported for the first time on the African continent, according to  scientists from the Zambian Agricultural Research Institute (ZARI), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the US Department of Agriculture – Foreign Disease Weed Science Research Unit  (USDA-ARS).

 It is reported that symptoms of wheat blast first appeared in Zambia during the 2018 rainy season in experimental plots and small-scale farms in the Mpika district, Muchinga province.

Wheat blast poses a serious threat to rain-fed wheat production in Zambia and raises the alarm for surrounding regions and countries on the African continent with similar environmental conditions. Worldwide, 2.5 billion consumers depend on wheat as a staple food, and in recent years, several African countries have been actively working towards reducing dependence on wheat imports.

“This presents yet another challenging biotic constraint to rain-fed wheat production in Zambia,” said Batiseba Tembo, wheat breeder at ZARI and lead scientist on the study.

 “The first occurrence of the disease was very distressing. This happened at the spike stage, and caused significant losses,” said Tembo. “Nothing of this nature has happened before in Zambia.”

Researchers were initially confused when symptoms of the disease in the Mpika fields were first reported. Zambia has unique agro-climatic conditions, particularly in the rainfed wheat production system, and diseases such as spot blotch and Fusarium head blight are common.

“The crop had silvery white spikes and a green canopy, resulting in shriveled grains or no grains at all…Within the span of 7 days, a whole field can be attacked,” said Tembo. Samples were collected and analyzed in the ZARI laboratory, and suspicions grew among researchers that this may be a new disease entirely.

Wheat blast, caused by Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype Triticum (MoT), was initially discovered in Brazil in 1985, and within decades had affected around 3 million hectares of wheat in South America alone. The disease made its first intercontinental jump to Asia in 2016, causing a severe outbreak in Bangladesh, reducing yield on average by as much as 51% in the affected fields.

The disease has now become endemic to Bangladesh, and has potential to expand to similar warm, humid and wet environments in nearby India and Pakistan, as well as other regions of favorable disease conditions.

Wheat blast spreads through infected seeds and crop residues as well as by spores that can travel long distances in the air. The spread of blast within Zambia is indicated by both mechanisms of expansion.

Tembo participated in the Basic Wheat Improvement Course at CIMMYT in Mexico, where she discussed the new disease with Pawan Singh, head of Wheat Pathology at CIMMYT.  Singh worked with Tembo to provide guidance and the molecular markers needed for the sample analysis in Zambia, and coordinated the analysis of the wheat disease samples at the USDA-ARS facility in Fort Detrick, Maryland.

All experiments confirmed the presence of Magnaporthe oryzae pathotype Triticum (MoT).

“This is a disaster which needs immediate attention,” said Tembo. “Otherwise, wheat blast has the potential to marginalize the growth of rain-fed wheat production in Zambia and may threaten wheat production in neighboring countries as well.”

CIMMYT and the CGIAR Research Program on Wheat (WHEAT) are taking action on several fronts to combat wheat blast. Trainings, such as an international course led by the Bangladesh Wheat and Maize Research Institute (BWMRI) in collaboration with CIMMYT, WHEAT and others, invite international participants to gain new technical skills in blast diagnostics and treatment and understand different strategies being developed to mitigate the wheat blast threat. WHEAT scientists and partners are also working quickly to study genetic factors that increase resistance to the disease and develop early warning systems, among other research interventions. 

“A set of research outcomes, including the development of resistant varieties, identification of effective fungicides, agronomic measures, and new findings in the epidemiology of disease development will be helpful in mitigating wheat blast in Zambia,” said Singh.

Tembo concluded, “It is imperative that the regional and global scientific community join hands to determine effective measures to halt further spread of this worrisome disease in Zambia and beyond.”

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Usaid and WFP provide relief to over 100 000 urban dwellers during Covid-19 in Zimbabwe
October 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire   

Image processed by CodeCarvings Piczard ### FREE Community Edition ### on 2017-11-17 09:41:39Z | http://piczard.com | http://codecarvings.com

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has today commenced cash disbursements in the scale up of the Urban Social Assistance programme in Zimbabwe thanks to funding from the United States through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).  

USAID’s support will provide relief for vulnerable families in eight urban areas across Zimbabwe struggling to meet their daily food needs due to the effects of COVID-19. USAID and WFP are meeting the needs of people living in Gokwe, Redcliff, Kwekwe, Ruwa, Chinhoyi, Buhera, Chipinge, and Chegutu.  

The financial assistance from USAID allows WFP to provide support to over 103,700 people with monthly cash-based assistance equivalent to US$12 each, enabling them to meet almost two-thirds of their daily food requirements for the next six months. USAID and WFP will reach the most vulnerable and food insecure families, particularly women, people who are unemployed, and people suffering from chronic illness or disability.

COVID-19 is aggravating Zimbabwe’s already severe climate- and recession-induced food security crisis, threatening to deepen and widen it. WFP projections indicate that by year’s end, the number of food insecure people will have surged by nearly 50 percent to 8.6 million – a staggering 60 percent of the population. In urban areas, where ongoing lockdown measures have triggered a massive loss of livelihoods, the number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 3.3 million, from 2.2 million, as the socio-economic consequences of the pandemic become more pronounced.  

“The United States remains committed to the people of Zimbabwe. In addition to the US$10 million we have provided to support the cash transfers for over 103,700 vulnerable Zimbabweans in eight urban areas, we are providing over US$60 million to support food distributions for nearly one million people in rural areas during the current lean season. During the pandemic, we will continue to prioritize our critical health and humanitarian assistance activities,” said USAID/Zimbabwe Mission Director Mr. Art Brown.  

In Zimbabwe, the lockdown measures have led to the shutdown of informal food markets, and as a result, informal workers struggle to find work, while access to food has become a key challenge for poor urban households.

“Today we have expanded our urban social assistance programme to ease the challenges faced by urban communities, which have been worsened by COVID-19. We are grateful to USAID for its support in such a time as this,” said Francesca Erdelmann, WFP Zimbabwe Representative and Country Director. 

WFP’s Urban Social Assistance programme is scaling up to reach 326,004 people in 22 vulnerable urban domains in September, from its target of 292,865 people across 19 urban areas in August.

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Zimbabwe government develops knowledge, attitudes and perception survey on climate change
October 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

The government of Zimbabwe through the Ministry of Environment, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Industry with support from the United Nations Development Programme has developed a nation-wide Knowledge, Attitudes and Perception (KAP)  survey on climate change issues.

  It is reported that the activity seeks to develop and consolidate the ongoing data collection process for the KAP Survey which will outline the Knowledge, Attitudes and Perception on climate change issues in the country.

   The KAP survey is a key element towards the development of a two-way communications strategy for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs).

  In 2019, the government of Zimbabwe launched the NDC Implementation Framework to guide implementation of the current energy sector focused NDC.

  Building on these achievements, the draft Zimbabwe Low greenhouse gas Emission Development Strategy (LEDS) follows an economy-wide approach. The LEDS covers mitigation in all Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) sectors (Energy, Industrial Processes and Product Use (IPPU), Agriculture, Forestry and Other Land Use (AFOLU), and Waste). The LEDS also provides a framework for developing an economy wide NDC.

  A central pillar of NDC planning, accelerating and raising ambition is coordinated advocacy and communications initiatives to shift attitudes and behaviours on climate change.

  A Climate Change Communications Consultant has been engaged to help design a two-way communications strategy aimed at shifting the attitudes and behaviours of targeted audiences on climate change.

  The strategy will ensure that key NDC message on climate change is tailored and reaches to the right audiences and would change behaviour where it needs to be changed.

  It is also expected to also help also overcome current approaches to climate advocacy which operate almost exclusively in echo chambers, missing key target audiences.

  The new and more sophisticated approach to climate communications is needed help deliver the Zimbabwe’s NDC commitments

According to Article 4 of the Paris Agreement, each Party to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is required to prepare, communicate and maintain successive Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to support the achievement of the long-term goal of keeping global temperature rise well-below 2°C whilst pursuing efforts to limit the global temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial level. Zimbabwe’s first NDCs are limited to climate change mitigation in the energy sector covering prominently the power and transport sectors, as well as adaptation in agriculture. The NDCs target to reduce energy-related GHG emissions per capita by 33% below the Business-As-Usual (BAU) scenario by 2030.

Globally, there is an urgent need to accelerate the implementation of NDCs and to identify ways for increased ambition. COP24 set out procedures and mechanisms to operationalize the Paris Agreement. It provides guidance on how the NDCs are to be presented, the contents and approach of the mitigation goals and activities and the modalities for operation and use of the public NDC registry. Furthermore, it defines procedures and guidelines for the Enhanced Transparency Framework, including the information to be provided in the first and subsequent Biennial Transparency Reports on tracking the progress of the implementation and achievement of NDCs.

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Scientists use “Genomic Time Travel” to discover new genetic traits to breed more productive and resilient African Cattle
October 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Crossbred cows in a dairy farm in Cameroon. (Photo: Mario García Podesta /IAEA)

Scientists have announced  the discovery of a new set of detailed genetic markers and information in African cattle that are associated with valuable traits, such as heat and drought tolerance, the capacity to control inflammation and tick infestations, and resistance to devastating livestock diseases like trypanosomiasis.

The findings, published in the October issue of Nature Genetics, emerged from a collaborative effort to sequence the genomes of 172 indigenous cattle by scientists at the Addis Ababa- and Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Seoul National University (Republic of Korea), Rural Development Agency (RDA, Republic of Korea), University of Khartoum (Sudan), The Centre of Tropical Livestock Genetics and Health (CTLGH, Scotland), Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sweden), and the University of Nottingham (United Kingdom). They wanted to learn how — after spending thousands of years confined to a shifting patchwork of sub-regions in Africa — cattle rapidly evolved during the last millennia with traits that allowed them to thrive across the continent.

“We believe these insights can be used to breed a new generation of African cattle that have some of the qualities of European and American livestock — which produce more milk and meat per animal—but with the rich mosaic of traits that make African cattle more resilient and sustainable,” said Olivier Hanotte, Principal Scientist at ILRI, Professor of Genetics at the University of Nottingham and Program Leader at CTLGH, who led the work at ILRI.

Hanotte and his colleagues engaged in a sort of “genomic time travel” that, for the first time, allowed scientists to retrace the genetic journey that has made African cattle so adaptable. They discovered what co-author Steve Kemp, Head of ILRI’s Livegene program and Deputy Director of CTLGH described as an “evolutionary jolt” that occurred 750 to 1050 years ago: the arrival of Asian cattle breeds in East Africa carrying genetic traits that would make cattle production possible in diverse and demanding African environments.

The genome sequencing work yielded evidence that Indigenous pastoralist herders began breeding the Asian cattle, known as Zebu, with local breeds of cattle known as Taurine. In particular, the Zebu offered traits that would allow cattle to survive in hot, dry climates typical in the Horn of Africa. But by crossing the two, the new animals that emerged also retained the capacity of the Taurines to endure humid climates where vector-borne diseases like trypanosomiasis are common.

“Livestock — especially cattle — can be controversial, but without them, millions of people in Africa would have been forced to hunt wildlife for protein,” said co-author Ally Okeyo Mwai, a principal scientist at ILRI who leads its African Dairy Genetic Gains program. “That would have been devastating for the African environment and its incredible diversity of wildlife.”

It is now important to use the full range of natural genetic endowments that have made African cattle so resilient to sustainably meet Africa’s surging demand for milk and meat, while minimizing negative impacts of increased livestock production. For many households in Africa, and especially the poorest, livestock in general and cattle, in particular, continue to be a family’s most valuable asset. They provide a critical source of protein and micronutrients alongside income to pay for things like school fees. They also provide manure for crops, and some African cattle breeds can survive in conditions that can’t support food crops, offering farmers a potential adaptation strategy for coping with climate change.

“We’re fortunate that pastoralists are such skilled breeders,” Hanotte said. “They left a valuable roadmap for efforts underway at ILRI and elsewhere to balance livestock productivity in Africa with resilience and sustainability.”

“You can see from studying the genomes of indigenous cattle that breeding for environmental adaptation has been the key to successful livestock production in Africa,” said Kemp. “And that has to be the factored in our future efforts to develop more productive, more sustainable animals. If the goal is pure productivity, you’re doomed to fail.”

“It’s important to understand that livestock breeding has long played a vital role in sustaining the health and wealth of African communities,” said ILRI Director General Jimmy Smith. “The focus on breeding for resilience that guided past efforts provides a touchstone for future work to chart a sustainable path for livestock production in sub-Saharan Africa.”

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Illicit capital robbing Africa and its people of their future: UN trade and development chief
September 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

Every year, an estimated $88.6 billion, which is equivalent to 3.7% of Africa’s GDP, leaves the continent in the form of illicit capital, according to UN trade and development agency UNCTAD’s Economic Development in Africa Report 2020, launched on Monday.

NEW YORK, USA, September 29, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Illicit financial flows (IFFs) are movements of money and assets across borders which are illegal in source, transfer or use, according to the new report entitled “Tackling illicit financial flows for sustainable development in Africa.”

It shows that these outflows are nearly as much as the combined total annual inflows of official development assistance, valued at $48 billion, and yearly foreign direct investment, pegged at $54 billion, received by African countries – which represents the average investment between 2013 to 2015.

“Illicit financial flows rob Africa and its people of their prospects, undermining transparency and accountability and eroding trust in African institutions”, said UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi.

These outflows include illicit capital flight, tax and commercial practices like mis-invoicing of trade shipments and criminal activities such as illegal markets, corruption or theft, says UNCTAD. 

From 2000 to 2015, the total illicit capital flight from Africa amounted to $836 billion. Compared to Africa’s total external debt stock of $770 billion in 2018, this makes Africa a “net creditor to the world”, the report says.

IFFs related to the export of extractive commodities ($40 billion in 2015) are the largest component of illicit capital flight from Africa.

SDG progress at risk

IFFs represent a major drain on capital and revenues in Africa, undermining productive capacity and Africa’s prospects for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For example, the report finds that in African countries with high IFFs, governments spend 25% less than countries with low IFFs on health, and 58% less on education. Since women and girls often have less access to health and education, they suffer most from the negative fiscal effects of IFFs.

Africa will not be able to bridge the large financing gap to achieve the SDGs, estimated at $200 billion per year, with existing government revenues and development assistance.

Infrastructure, services suffering

The report finds that tackling capital flight and IFFs represents a large potential source of capital to finance much-needed investments in, for example, infrastructure, education, health, and productive capacity.

Sierra Leone for example, which has one of the highest under-five mortality rates on the continent, curbing capital flight and investing a constant share of revenues in public health could save an additional 2,322 of the 258,000 children born in the country annually.

In Africa, IFFs originate mainly from extractive industries and are therefore associated with poor environmental outcomes.

The report shows that curbing illicit capital flight could generate enough capital by 2030 to finance almost 50% of the $2.4 trillion needed by sub-Saharan African countries for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

All that glitters

The report’s analysis also demonstrates that IFFs in Africa are not endemic to specific countries, but rather to certain high-value, low-weight commodities.

Of the estimated $40 billion of IFFs derived from extractive commodities in 2015, 77% were concentrated in the gold supply chain, followed by diamonds (12%) and platinum (6%).

The report aims to equip African governments with knowledge on how to identify and evaluate risks associated with IFFs, as well as solutions to curb IFFs and redirect the proceeds towards the achievement of national priorities and the SDGs.

It calls for global efforts to promote international cooperation to combat IFFs. It also advocates for strengthening good practices on the return of assets to foster sustainable development and the achievement of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Tax revenues syphoned off

Tax revenues lost to IFFs are especially costly for Africa, where public investments and spending on the SDGs are most lacking. In 2014, Africa lost an estimated $9.6 billion to tax havens, equivalent to 2.5% of total tax revenue.

Tax evasion is at the core of the world’s shadow financial system, according to UNCTAD. Commercial IFFs are often linked to tax avoidance or evasion strategies, designed to shift profits to lower-tax jurisdictions.

Due to the lack of domestic transfer pricing rules in most African countries, local judicial authorities lack the tools to challenge tax evasion by multinationals.

But IFFs are not just a national concern in Africa, said Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari: “Illicit financial flows are multidimensional and transnational in character. Like the concept of migration, they have countries of origin and destination, and there are several transit locations. The whole process of mitigating illicit financial flows, therefore, cuts across several jurisdictions.”

Solutions in plain sight

Solutions to the problem must involve international tax cooperation and anti-corruption measures. The international community should devote more resources to tackle IFFs, including capacity-building for tax and customs authorities in developing countries.

African countries need to strengthen engagement in international taxation reform, make tax competition consistent with protocols of the AfCFTA, and aim for more taxation rights, said the UN trade agency.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of UN News.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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GE and Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) Successfully Restore up to 360MW in Nigeria Amidst COVID-19 Pandemic
September 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
“PSP31318-10, 9E 3-series Gas Turbine, Compressor, IGV in casing – fully open, People, Belfort, France, Europe, DI-3200×4900, PRA”
With compressive safety measures due to COVID-19 in place, GE and NDPHC quickly ensured both employee safety and on-time project execution.

GE safely completed service interventions on three GE 9E gas turbines at the Niger Delta Power Holding Company (NDPHC) power plants in Calabar and Sapele, Nigeria; With compressive safety measures due to COVID-19 in place, GE and NDPHC quickly ensured both employee safety and on-time project execution; Outages were executed on time and the restored power will enable NDPHC to provide the equivalent electricity needed to power up to 2 million Nigerian homes.

GE (NYSE: GE) today announced the successful rehabilitation of three 9E.03 gas turbines, at three Niger Delta Power Holding Company’s (NDPHC) Power Plants in Calabar and Sapele, Nigeria. These operations reduced the risk of unplanned downtime of its power generation equipment, enabling the plants to reliably secure and restore the supply of up to 360 megawatts (MW) of electricity to the national grid, the equivalent electricity needed to power approximately two million Nigerian homes. Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, GE and NDPHC worked together to swiftly implement safety procedures to ensure a safe and on-time execution.

“Being Nigeria’s largest electricity generating company, with a total installed capacity of 4.0 gigawatts (GW), representing about 35% of Nigeria’s generating capacity, we are committed to strengthening Nigeria’s power sector, despite the unexpected logistical challenges of the COVID-19 outbreak,” said Chiedu Ugbo, Managing Director, NDPHC. “GE’s efficiency to mobilize local teams on-site with the required technical skills and expertise, as well as GE’s global supply chain scale was crucial to ensure the timely and safe completion of the outages at the sites and help us achieve our goal.”

The outages involved stage three bucket changeouts on three 9E gas turbines as well as additional combustion inspections. Engineers from GE and FieldCore, the field services execution company owned by GE, worked together and in close collaboration with NDPHC  to implement additional safety measures and reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, including frequent disinfections at the site, physical distancing, standard passive and active temperature screenings for personnel, and the use of personal protective equipment such as masks and gloves.

“We are committed to supporting power plant operators like NDPHC to be able to provide reliable power with exceptional support and services from GE throughout these uncertain times, while ensuring and maintaining the health and safety of our employees and suppliers.” said Elisee Sezan, CEO for GE’s Gas Power business in Sub-Saharan Africa. “The successful rehabilitation of the power generations assets at Calabar and Sapele plants will help increase the 9E gas turbines’ efficiency, while lowering emissions and providing essential power for industrialization, healthcare facilities, homes, schools and businesses.”

This year, GE’s 9E gas turbine fleet celebrates 40 years of operations globally. The 9E is a robust, proven platform that delivers high availability, reliability, and durability while lowering the overall cost-per-kilowatt. It has a large installed base of over 650 units in the world located primarily in Asia, China, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

GE has been collaborating with energy stakeholders to deploy innovative technologies tailored to respond to the needs in the region since the 1950s with reliable baseload and flexible emergency power. In 2018, the company celebrated its 100th power plant in Sub-Saharan Africa and today, up to 17 GW of gas power generation on the grid runs on GE gas turbines. GE delivers across the entire energy ecosystem from generation to transmission and distribution and throughout Nigeria, GE-built technologies are supported by local service and maintenance teams from the company to ensure access to reliable and sustainable energy.

GE Gas Power is a world leader in natural gas power technology, services and solutions. Through relentless innovation and continuous partnership with our customers, we are providing more advanced, cleaner and efficient power that people depend on today and building the energy technologies of the future. With the world’s largest installed base of gas turbines and more than 600 million operating hours across GE’s installed fleet, we offer advanced technology and a level of experience that’s unmatched in the industry to build, operate and maintain leading gas power plants

*SOURCE GE
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Increase Investment in Mini grid Electricity to Get Africa out of Darkness
September 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Mohamed Adow*

Mohamed Adow

Covid-19 is pushing Africa into an education crisis.  Of the 39 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, full learning is only taking place in six of them.

A survey, by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UN Children’s Agency UNICEF, found that of the 33 countries where learning is curtailed, in 14, of them it is completely closed.

Millions of children across the region who have been forced to stay home since March now face the prospect of being part of Africa’s lost generation.  Africa is the world’s youngest continent and we are in danger of failing our young people.

While governments have explored offering schooling through alternatives such as distance learning, it has proven problematic. This is because virtual learning is delivered via gadgets such as computers and smart phones which are powered by electricity. Virtual learning would therefore have disadvantaged millions of children especially in rural areas whose families have no electricity, either because they are poor or live in remote areas, far away from main-grid electricity.

Indeed less than 48% of Africa’s population of around one billion people have access to electricity according to a 2018 World Bank report . In absolute numbers this means that an estimated 600 million Africans are living in darkness, literally, relying on wood fire, kerosene and other forms of dirty energy for lighting. This is why Africans make up the lion’s share of the estimated 790 million people around the world without electricity according to the United Nations.

The world recognises access to energy as a basic human right,  which is why the UN adopted this as its Sustainable Development Goal number seven. One of the major obstacles to ensuring that everybody enjoys this right is the high cost of generation, transmission and connecting users, particularly in far-off, low population areas.

In countries where 100% access has been achieved, such as Europe and the Americas, this has been done through investing in mini-grid electricity which helps light up their more remote corners. Africa is no different and therefore has much to benefit from this largely untapped technology.

Whereas national grids transfer power from dams, power stations or  the likes of Kenya’s Naivasha geothermal fields to urban settlements, mini-grids cover much shorter distances and serve localised populations in rural settlements.

Usually running up to 10kmin radius, they tap power from the sun or wind, store it in batteries and distribute it to users, allowing them to enjoy electricity even when they are living tens of miles away from the national grid. Besides connecting remote communities, the decentralised systems use clean energy sources of wind and solar, helping our continent contribute to lowering harmful emissions responsible for climate change.

Their place in ensuring 100% electricity coverage has been confirmed through a recent survey by the Africa Minigrid Developers Association (AMDA) which found that the mini-grid sector was growing quickly, with operational, installation and capital costs decreasing by as much as 60% over the past five years.

As a result, it costs a national utility such as Eskom in South Africa or ECG in Ghana, a minimum of US$1500 to connect a customer to power compared to only US$733 for a mini-grid company such as Powerhive in Kenya.

Using data from 28 companies in 12 African countries, the survey found that the decentralised systems offered better service reliability with power generated 99% of the time, compared to main grids at 72%. This means that the smaller units actually suffer fewer outages and breakdowns compared to larger systems.

These findings have once again reminded us of the opportunities we continue to waste by failing to exploit our freely available and abundant clean energy resources. They are a wakeup call that we must take advantage of innovation such as mini grids to overcome some of the daunting developmental challenges we face. 

A network of renewable-powered mini-grids, stretching out across the continent’s more remote areas will ultimately strengthen Africa’s resilience to unseen shocks like Covid-19. Had Africa invested much sooner in mini grids our children would be learning remotely from home today.

*Mohamed Adow is the Director of Power Shift Africa a Nairobi-based Energy and Climate Think Tank and can be reached on madow@powershiftafrica.org.Twitter at @mohadow.

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Rwanda:– AKADEMIYA2063 Officially Launched
September 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

KIGALI, 25 September 2020 – AKADEMIYA2063 has officially been launched by Hon. Geraldine Mukeshimana, Minister of Agriculture of The Republic of Rwanda, on behalf of The Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Edouard Ngirente.

The launch was conducted during a virtual seminar on « Policies for Rapidly Transforming Agriculture and Food Systems » with additional participation from Ambassador Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Mr. Jim Barnhart, Assistant to the Administrator of USAID, and Dr. Jo Swinnen, Director-General at the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

As an international non-profit organization, AKADEMIYA2063 seeks to build a bridge between the science community and peer organizations around the world to harness the best available knowledge and evidence to advance the African agenda.

With a rich experience of long-standing support to the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), AKADEMIYA2063 positions itself as a major science contributor to the Agenda 2063, through research implementation, capacity building, and outreach programs to successfully drive Data Analysis and Knowledge Platform, Expertise for Advanced Economic Modeling, as well as Evidence and Dialogue for Policy Innovation.

Many of the AKADEMIYA2063’s core programs have been on the ground over the last 10 to 15 years, but only now have they been brought together into a single African entity. These programs are the Regional Strategic Analysis and Knowledge Support System (ReSAKSS), the African Growth and Development Policy (AGRODEP) Modeling Consortium, and the Malabo Montpellier (MaMo) Panel  and Forum.

AKADEMIYA2063’s interest in supporting policies was highlighted by its Executive Chairperson, Dr. Ousmane Badiane, who insisted that: « if the trajectory toward better policies is not sustained, the African continent may experience a return to the era of economic stagnation. Better data and analytics to support evidence based planning and implementation will help raise policy effectiveness for improved development outcomes.»

As soon as it launched its operations, the organization moved to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic, through a multi-workstream agenda  on the impacts of and responses to the pandemic among African countries.

This includes research work around:

– Vulnerability Hot Spots

– Staple Food Price Tracking

– Production Systems Disruption

– Macro Effects of Trade Disruption

During the  launch seminar, AKADEMIYA2063 and its partners examined various themes including the opportunities of the UN Food Systems Summit from Africa’s perspective, the needs for infrastructure and services for fast transforming food systems and policies to sustain and deepen the current recovery process.

AKADEMIYA2063 is headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda with a regional office in Dakar, Senegal.

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Thousands across Africa take to the streets calling for urgent solutions to the multiple crises of climate change and COVID-19
September 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

Africa-wide — Thousands took part in multiple actions across the continent calling on its leaders to urgently address the multiple crises of climate change, COVID-19, recession, unemployment, inequality and poverty plaguing the continent.

This was in response to the call from youth climate strikers for a Global Day of Climate Action on September 25th. Extreme weather events, such as floods and droughts driven by the climate crises are still common across the continent and the strikes are a reminder to those in power that the climate crisis has not gone away even as we fight COVID-19.

Last year, thousands of people took to the streets across the country to demand climate action. Politicians and the media congratulated the youth and portrayed them as beacons of hope. However, with those same leaders’ inaction, there has been little to celebrate. 

Climate science is clear that we are on the brink of climate breakdown, and urgent action is required such as turning away from polluting and harmful fossil fuels. Unfortunately, it is not a reality that is being taken seriously by African leaders who continue pushing for large investments in oil, coal and gas; putting profit for the few over the well-being of the many as they have many times before.

Quotes from key spokespeople

“Just this year, millions of people across the continent have had to abandon their homes due to floods and it is also anticipated that 2020 will be one of the hottest years on record. COVID-19 is still here with us but so is the climate crisis, leaders across Africa need to take this opportunity to build back better. Today, Africa’s youths are once again calling for climate justice consisting of transitioning away from fossil fuels and building climate resilient economies powered by renewables before it’s too late.They are demanding a new normal that puts the wellbeing of people and climate action first, building a socially and environmentally just, zero carbon future.” – Landry Ninteretse, Africa Team Leader, 350.org

“Young people and school children around the world have been striking from school demanding climate justice. Demanding that their future not be condemned to the ravages of climate chaos. We shall not relent, we call on our African leaders to accelerate plans for making Africa free of oil coal and gas. Taking advantage of technological advancements that now make wind and solar far cheaper alternatives with the ability to create even more jobs for the youth.” – Andre Moliro, Climate Justice Activist from Kinshasa, DRC

“COVID-19 is linked to the ecological crisis, as ecological degradation and climate change make pandemics more likely. It is therefore vital for decision-makers across the continent to ensure that the response to the pandemic also addresses the climate crisis and the existing inequalities that many Africans face especially women in rural areas. It is imperative that we leverage this moment to ensure a just recovery that builds resilience to crises and equality across the continent.” – Irene Asuwa, Woman Climate Champion with deCOALonize campaign in Lamu, Kenya

The climate youth movement was sparked by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s solo protest in August 2018. Now is a year on from the biggest climate mobilisation ever last September. The 25th will be the movement’s first major street protest of 2020 in many countries, and Fridays For Future have announced protests in over 3000 locations around the world.

*350Africa.org

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Egypt joins global climate strikes with calls for Environmental Education to fight climate change
September 25, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Asmaa Hanafi

Back At the beginning of 2020 just before Covid-19 the world went highly polluted after stormy weather and heavy rain in Alexandria, Egypt. The bad weather has caused flooding in a number of streets in the Mediterranean city, especially in eastern districts. Alexandria governorate issued warnings to residents,
including asking people to avoid leaving their homes except in case of emergency, and to avoid standing under balconies or beside lampposts. I feel like it’s time to speak out climate Justices, climate change is a real and so close to everyone.

Thunderstorms packing heavy rains and lightning caused widespread flooding across Egypt at March 2020, killing at least fifteen people. Authorities shut down Luxor International Airport, a key hub for tourists, and three seaports — the Mediterranean port of Alexandria and the Red Sea ports of Sharm el-Sheikh and
Hurghada. Nile River cruises between the southern cities of Luxor and Aswan, which harbor most of ancient Egypt’s monuments, were suspended and several key highways were closed.

In Egypt, schools, nurseries and other recreational venues are closed since the middle of March 2020 due to Covid-19 pandemic. Children are often kept away from friends and loved ones. Families faced unprecedented economic, social and
psychological challenges. To address this anxiety, the stress and the boredom, Green society team shared dozens of advice, tips and resources for parents and children to be able to face these difficult times.

Through campaigns on social media and videos on YouTube celebrating Earth day 2020, the 50th anniversary, Africa day, World Environmental day and finally global climate strikes day.

When the lockdown started, we aimed at keeping all engaged in climate change crisis, feel the difference between polluted Air, hunting animals, cutting trees, movements of cars, burning fossil fuels and improves air quality and encourages wild animals to come out and explore the cities.

It’s time for igniting climate literacy and inspire all our family members to be involved in climate change movements that’s make us create such amazing stop motion video art taking a story line and illustrate impacts of climate change the problem of fossil fuels from industrial revolution era ending by the solution of plant trees, recycling, upcycling and move to renewable energy. It was a challengeable time to demonstrate every single second of doing this project

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Actions across Africa calling for urgent solutions to the dual crises of climate change and COVID-19
September 24, 2020 | 0 Comments

Africa-wide — Youth climate strikers under the banner of Fridays for Future have called for a Global Day of Climate Action on September 25th.

In response to this call youth leaders, civil society groups and grassroots movements are organizing actions across the continent to send a powerful message to the leaders that there is need for a just recovery

Key Activities by Country:

KENYA

  • On September 25th and 26th, there will be graffiti installation in Mathare, Nairobi, followed by a community dialogue on climate impacts and its mitigation. Press contact: Ndereva Mutua Mwendenderevamutua884@gmail.com, +254 790 657087
  • On September 25th, there will be a live virtual concert to launch the Afrika Vuka song by local artists aimed at mobilizing young climate activists to join the climate movement. Press contact: Steeve Kezamutima kezamutimas@gmail.com  +254 700 576154
  • On September 25th, there will be a march and virtual strike targeted towards the Ministry of Trade and US Embassy in light of the recent US – Kenya trade deals posing to rekindle the once banned plastic use in Kenya to ensure that the plastic ban stays in place. Press contact: Eric Damien ericdnjuguna@gmail.com +254 719 555133

UGANDA

  • On September 25th, there will be a film screening in Kasese highlighting oil exploration and its impacts. Press contact: Edwin Mumbere  edwinfantam@gmail.com  +256 773 558257
  • On September 27th, the Uganda Little Hands Go Green will be hosting a virtual Green Kids Festival to bring together all the young green ambassadors to speak about the conservation of Bugoma forest and the environment as a whole. Press contact: Joseph Masembe masembe@littlegreenhands.org +256 756 249000

BURUNDI

  • On September 25th, a march followed by a music concert will take place in Gitega by Espoir Scout Burundi. Press contact: Jean Claude scoutespoirmagarama@gmail.com +257 79 91 47 19
  • On September 25th, over 900 students will come together in Kinindo, Bujumbura to raise awareness on climate change impacts and renewable energy. Press contact: Audrey Habonimana audrey.habonimana@rutareinitiative.org +257 69 86 88 00 

EGYPT

  • On September 25th, the Green Society Alexandria will unveil an animated video to create awareness of the climate crisis in Egypt as well as push the message for a need to build back better after the crisis. Press contact: Asmaa Hanafi asmaahanafi22@gmail.com +20 102 230 1723

DRC

  • On September 25th, in Kinshasa, painters will join youth activists to draw and design posters with Just Recovery messages while calling for a stop to oil exploration in Virunga. The artwork will then be shared on social media during a twitter storm and delivered to the President of the Republic and Minister of Energy. Press contact: Andre Moliro andremoliro2@gmail.com, +243 811 607 726
  • On September 26th, an open day for climate action will take place in Goma, bringing together youth, civil society will be held to call for a stop to oil exploration in Virunga. Press contact: Ephrem Bwishe ephrb@yahoo.fr, +250 786 772 165

CAMEROON

  • On September 25th, a film screening will take place at the University of Yaounde to raise awareness on climate change impacts focusing on the  vulnerability of women and renewable energy as an alternative. Press contact: Félicité Djoukouofelicite.djoukouo@gmail.com +237 75787046

GHANA

  • On September 25th, the group 350 GROC will be organizing a virtual debate on renewable energy in Ghana and a just recovery post COVID. Press contact: Portia Adu Mensah 350groc@gmail.com +233 26 268 5618

TOGO

  • On September 25th, there will be a movie screening in Lome to showcase the effects of coal and renewable energy opportunities in Togo. Press contact: Esso Pedessi essoklnam@gmail.com  +228 90 96 32 91

BENIN

  • On September 25th, a Women’s March for Climate will take place in Lalo to raise awareness on climate justice and the potential of renewable energy. Press contact: Maimouna Adamouongjupd@gmail.com +229 99992562

The climate youth movement was sparked by Swedish activist Greta Thunberg’s solo protest in August 2018. Now is a year on from the biggest climate mobilisation ever last September. The 25th will be the movement’s first major street protest of 2020 in many countries, and Fridays For Future have announced protests in over 3000 locations around the world.

*Source 350.Org

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Gambia:Banjul Mayoress Shortlisted to Contest for Presidency of Mayors of Africa Capital Cities
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Banjuk Mayor Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan
Banjul Mayor Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan

The Mayor of Banjul, Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan has been shortlisted to contest the presidency of mayors of 54 Africa capital cities. 

She will contest the prestigious position against three others, Muhamed Sidiq of Rabat Morocco, Madam El Wardani of Dakar, Senegal and Juliana Kaduya of Lilongwe, Malawi. The election will be held in three week’s time.

A preamble announcing the nominations said the nomination of the Banjul mayor by ULCD to contest the presidency is based on the trend of development that has been delivered to the citizens of Banjul barely two years after her election as the first female mayor in Gambia’s history.

The person elected to the presidency of the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum (ACCSF) will, apart from being the main promoter of the ACCSF to institutions such as AU and during summit or conference if elected, will be in charge of the strategic direction and development.

He/she will also represent entire 54 African capital cities mayors and governors of ACCSF.

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Environmental Management Agency most open institution in Zimbabwe,survey reveals
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

A recent survey has revealed that the Environmental Management Agency (EMA)   is the most open institution in Zimbabwe according to MISA Zimbabwe’s 2020 Transparency Assessment findings while Chitungwiza Municipality is the most secretive.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA Regional), has been conducting research and studies since 2009 to establish the difficulty with which citizens in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) can access public information.

The study is also part of commemorations for the International Day for Universal Access to Information which is marked every year on 28 September. It also based on the findings of assessments on whether public institutions proactively make relevant information available online in the form of websites or social media accounts.

It further evaluates to what degree information is made available to citizens upon request.

EMA was assessed as the most open institution after being assessed as being active on social media and maintaining a “partially” up to date website. Although the institution was unable to provide information that had been requested, they explained their reasons.

Chitungwiza Municipality did not respond to the requests for information. A senior official stated that they did not receive the request and recommended that the requests be resubmitted through email.

Other organisations that were surveyed are; Chipinge Rural District Council, Forestry Commission of Zimbabwe, Ministry of Health and Child Care, Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development, Mutare City Council and Zimbabwe School Examinations Council.

Regionally, similar studies were conducted in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Tanzania and Zambia.

Given the limited timeframe for the survey and the COVID-19 restrictions, it was not feasible to effectively test the new Freedom of Information Act and survey all organisations as originally planned.

However, it is trite to note that the culture and practice of acknowledging receipt of information requests, as opposed to providing the information sought, is still a challenge in some organisations. Targeted institutions do not always notify the requester when they receive the information request letter, but only acknowledge receipt upon physical follow-up visits to their offices.

Meanwhile, of the 10 organisations surveyed, the following had no functional websites (at the time the study was conducted), Chipinge Rural District Council, Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises and Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

Although six organisations acknowledged receipt of the information requests, only two responded well to the requests.

MISA Zimbabwe encourages organisations to effectively use online platforms to disseminate information to the public while the new law on access to information, the Freedom of Information Act, should be continuously evaluated to ensure it gives effect to Sections 61 and 62 of the Constitution that provide for freedom of expression, media freedom and citizens’ right to access to information.

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Zimbabwe:Finalists for the 2020 ZICTA ICT innovation programme announced
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

Stanbic calls for improved collaboration between ICT players to support local ICT innovators and turn Zambia into regional tech hub.


LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) in collaboration with Stanbic Bank Zambia and Airtel Networks Zambia have launched the 2020 cohort of the ICT Innovation Programme.

The initiative was started in 2016 by ZICTA as a way of equipping local tech innovators and start-ups with tools to bring their ideas to life and contribute to the country’s digital agenda.
This year’s event attracted about 242 applications from which 60 were selected by an independent panel of experts to progress to the next round. Entries were assessed based on their business potential, technical feasibility, and scalability of the idea.

The programme is open to Zambian ICT innovators and/or entrepreneurs aged between 18–35 years old with inventive, viable and scalable business ideas that attempt to solve current challenges relating to various sectors of the economy including finance, education, agriculture, energy, climate, and health among others.

So far, four cohorts have been initiated with more than 100 emerging innovators benefiting.
Speaking during the virtual launch which attracted over 200 attendees recently, Stanbic Bank Zambia Head Public Relations and Communications Chanda Chime-Katongo said that a flourishing digital industry would bring Zambia a step closer to achieving its economic diversification dream through the creation of export worthy ICT products and services thereby accelerating GDP growth.

She said: “Zambia has considerable potential of becoming one of the region’s main players in technology development. Digital platforms are increasingly becoming more accessible to more people each day thus creating a ready market for cutting edge innovations.

“To top it off, we have the advantage of political stability and innumerable talented youths that are eager to get a slice of the proverbial economic pie.
“All that is remaining is a deliberate support system from stakeholders that could serve as a launch pad for homegrown tech entrepreneurs.”

Mrs Katongo noted that for the local ICT sector to truly take off and reach its full potential, key industry players had to create strategic partnerships that supported innovation.
“There is need for increased collaboration between stakeholders to unlock Zambia’s potential and turn the country into a regional tech hub.”

“At Stanbic, we are convinced that nurturing strategic partnerships between corporate entities, Government agencies and other sector players including tech start-ups can hasten Zambia’s journey towards a digital economy.
Our sponsorship of this initiative is a clear demonstration of our intention to not only provide practical support to local entrepreneurs but also grow the tech industry.”

The 60 innovators will receive access to potential business linkages for their ideas as well as technical and business development support from sector experts over the next six months – after which the best three will receive financial support of up to ZMW50,000 towards the implementation of their innovation.

And speaking during the same launch, ZICTA Director General, Engineer Patrick Mutimushi said the innovation programme was in line with the authority’s mandate as prescribed under Section 6 of the ICT Act of 2009 – to promote research, development and the use of new and appropriate technologies in the sector.
He noted that the initiative was a clear illustration of how ZICTA was actualising Government through the Ministry of Transport and Communication’s efforts to create an enabling environment for transitioning ideas into viable business ventures. 

“As the world continues to make strides aimed at addressing a serious global pandemic (COVID 19) that has led to extensive disruptions in our societies, I am delighted that we are able to continue identifying promising innovations that can be nurtured into commercially viable solutions and respond to some of our socio- economic needs as a country,” Eng Mutimushi said.

He added that: “The focus areas for this year’s programme were identified through our engagements with various stakeholders on the areas that required ICT related innovations. We are hopeful that this approach will enhance the prospects for potential off-takers and financing as well as provide responsive innovations to the needs of our country.”
Eng Mutimushi urged the final 60 innovators to make the most of the opportunity and perfect their ideas and innovations to make a difference in the country.

“I encourage you all to take advantage of this opportunity and perfect your ideas and innovations so that they make a difference in our country. You are called to use your intellect, creativity, passion, and determination to drive this country forward.”
The 2020 Innovation Programme shall run for a maximum duration of six months from August 2020 to February 2021.

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DFC and Akola Support Ugandan Women Through COVID-19 Pandemic
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments
DFC Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler

$5 million DFC loan will help Akola continue empowering low-income women, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.

WASHINGTON – U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Akola PBC today announced that DFC has provided a $5 million loan to Dallas, Texas-based Akola. DFC’s financing will help the impact-driven jewelry brand and manufacturing business—particularly the women that it employs in rural Uganda—weather the challenges of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

“Women reinvest most of their earnings in their families and communities and are a powerful driver of prosperity and stability in Uganda and beyond. With just a little bit of support, they can deliver outsized impact in their communities,” said DFC Chief Executive Officer Adam Boehler. “DFC’s financing will help Akola continue its work to provide economic opportunities and uplift Ugandan women. Our collaboration comes at a critical time as COVID-19 continues to leave underserved individuals—disproportionately women—even more vulnerable around the world.”

“Akola was founded on the belief that job creation is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty,” explains Akola’s CEO, Sheeba Philip. “This is why it was crucial that we did everything possible to ensure the women we employ as part of our operations in Uganda kept their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. We quickly shifted our focus to product experiences that meet consumer needs and reflect the changing retail environment, such as our DIY Bracelet Kits. We are grateful for the partnership with DFC, which helps ensure we can continue to offer Akola women living wage employment so they can provide for their families.”

As a result of COVID-19, many major retailers have backed out of orders and brands have trimmed production, putting global artisans and factory workers already living in extreme poverty out of work. Yet in the wake of the pandemic, Akola has continued its mission and commitment to the women it serves, working creatively to ensure that the hundreds of Ugandan women who work for the company have all remained employed.

DFC’s financing is structured to support these efforts, funding critical working capital needs that help Akola continue to provide stable wages and benefits through the pandemic to its all-female Ugandan workforce. Eventually, the loan will also support a new production facility and additional employees, enabling Akola to continue focusing on growing demand through its e-commerce platform, which in turn will help the company become more resilient to future market shocks.

Akola, which means “she works” in the local dialect, was founded by Brittany Underwood after spending a summer teaching English in Jinja, Uganda during college. Once a small operation of 15 women making jewelry under a tree in 2007, Akola today employs nearly 200 women in rural Uganda. All Akola jewelry is handcrafted in Uganda using locally-sourced, sustainable materials and is sold worldwide.

The women employed by Akola in Uganda usually serve as the primary providers for their families, and the vast majority lived in extreme poverty before working for the company. In addition to a stable income, Akola also provides ongoing training and mentorship to its Ugandan employees through nonprofit partner Akola Academy. Akola Academy provides leadership and financial literacy training to foster long-term economic independence. Sixty-six percent of Akola women in Uganda own a home and 79 percent of Akola children are enrolled in school.

DFC’s investment advances its 2X Women’s Initiative, which has catalyzed more than $3 billion of private sector investment in projects that empower women in developing countries. Through 2X, DFC plays a key role in the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity Initiative (W-GDP), which marks the first whole-of-U.S. Government approach to empowering women globally and is spearheaded by Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump. DFC’s investment also advances the Administration’s Prosper Africa initiative, which aims to channel the tools and resources of the U.S. Government to substantially increase two-way trade and investment between the United States and Africa.

*DFC

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Covid-19 “an opportunity” say African Educators in Major New Survey
September 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Fifty per cent of surveyed African teachers, trainers and education technology specialists think the Covid-19 pandemic will turn out to be a “significant” or “very significant” opportunity for African education.

The results of a survey, released today by eLearning Africa and EdTech Hub, show that many African educators are opportunistic about the future. They believe that Covid-19 has served as a “wake-up call,” which will encourage greater use of blended learning and new forms of technology assisted education and training in the continent’s schools, colleges and universities.

The survey, ‘The Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic on African Education’ is based on interviews with more than 1600 education and technology professionals across Africa, who were asked about their experience of the Covid-19 pandemic and its implications. 85 per cent of respondents thought that the use of technology would be more widespread as a result of the crisis. As the African Union, among others, considers that technology is the key to the rapid expansion of education and thus to future economic growth, this is clearly good news.

One respondent, Joice, who has worked in technology and education for over 20 years and believes in the “fundamental role in society” of educational technologies said: “We have the opportunity in the face of the pandemic to improve the uses and access to technologies aimed at learning, at a time when students and teachers can become protagonists of a new model of education.”

Isso of Burkina Faso, a teacher, believes it is precisely the difficulty of the current crisis that will ultimately create real, long term benefits: “As the Covid-19 becomes a worldwide problem with no good solution, everybody in the world becomes involved in seeking solutions for their own survival that will lead to creativity, new ideas and new opportunities and part of evolution.”

And, from industry, corporate planner Sisu of Zimbabwe said: “This is the opportunity for a long-term evolution of the education system.”

The survey also pointed, however, to considerable nervousness about the development of a digital divide and a rise in inequalities among learners because of uneven access to technology. Respondents felt that learners in rural communities were most likely to be disadvantaged as a result of a lack of access to technology. They also felt that connectivity was the biggest obstacle preventing the development of more technology assisted learning – specifically, a lack of available and affordable connectivity.

Overall, respondents reported that school closures had been widespread across Africa (95 per cent said that all schools in their countries had been forced to close) and, whilst this had had many negative consequences, 92 per cent said they thought the closures were essential. However, the survey showed that most educators received no financial support for tools to help them continue teaching in the crisis, and felt that they had insufficient preparation to adapt to the demands of distance learning.

The survey also pointed to the effectiveness of different technologies at different levels, with television and radio seen as working well at the primary level and online learning at the secondary.

eLearning Africa Director Rebecca Stromeyer said that the survey showed that there was “plenty of evidence of ingenuity and innovation at all levels in many countries” in responding to the crisis.

“The crisis has been a real challenge for Africa but it has not, by and large, been the catastrophe that was predicted. Africans have used the technologies available to them to carry on teaching and learning. People have learnt from this crisis and they know how important technology now is to education.”

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New maize variety set to uplift farmers’ fortunes in Africa
September 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Christine Ochogo*

Partners working in a maize project called TELA are captured in a farm under research recently (Photo: African Agricultural Technology Foundation).
Partners working in a maize project called TELA are captured in a farm under research recently (Photo: African Agricultural Technology Foundation).

For the second day in a row, Jerry Oyoo, a western Kenyan farmer from Nyagowa Village, Karachuonyo Constituency has just returned home with a sack of maize from his Kimira wetland farm.

“This is a huge waste of time, energy and money,” Mr Oyoo tells me sounding as if he needs some psycho-social support.

“I spent Ksh 5000 (USD50) to pay for the tractor man to till my land. I spent a further Ksh 3000 (USD30) to pay farm labourers for the first weeding plus a further Ksh 2500 (USD25) for the second weeding, and today I have just paid Ksh 1000 (USD10) to helpers to harvest the produce,” he says looking forlorn and dejected.

In all his calculations he spent Ksh 11,500 (USD115) only to return home with three sacks of maize all valued at Ksh 9,000 (USD90). As he brought home his last sack of maize harvest, Oyoo had just incurred a loss of Ksh 2500 (USD 25) without taking other inputs and time spent on the farm.

While addressing journalists allied to the Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (MESHA) in a virtual conference, Dr Sylvester Oikeh, a maize scientist, says farmers like Oyoo need not give up on farming asserting that biotechnology is the way to go in addressing the challenges brought along by effects of climate change, ever growing population leading to shrinking land for cultivation and biological challenges like pests and diseases. He added that biotechnology remains a strong investment for farmers like Oyoo.

The conference brought together 100 journalists from 30 African countries.

“Globally, for each dollar invested in biotech crop seeds, farmers gained an average $3.49. In 2016, farmers in developing countries received $5.06 for each extra dollar invested in biotech crop seeds, whereas farmers in developed countries received $2.70 for each extra dollar invested in biotech crop seeds,” Dr Oikeh said.

To show that scientists are not sleeping on the job, the maize guru said that his organisation, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation with other partners such as the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation  (KALRO) have been working towards getting transgenic drought-tolerant and insect-protected maize varieties to farmers to enhance food security in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We work on a project called TELA maize which seeks to ensure farmers who access the variety will be able to mitigate effects of climate change especially moderate drought and losses to insects such as stem borers and fall armyworm,” said Dr. Oikeh who is the Project Manager at AATF.

Dr. Oikeh spoke on the Status on development and commercialization of transgenic TELA maize for African farmersin a virtual conference that brought together nearly 200 science journalists from 30 African countries and beyond to discuss conservation, climate change, agriculture, and health to bolster factual reporting on science.

“When farmers have access to the TELA maize varieties they will be able to mitigate effects of climate change especially moderate drought and losses to insects such as stem borers and fall armyworm,” said the expert who boasts of over 30 years research trail on maize in the continent.

TELA Bt maize hybrid varieties were released to smallholder farmers in South Africa in 2016 and has been granted environmental release to proceed to national performance trials in Kenya.

“National performance trials (NPTs) are carried out in Kenya by the Kenya Plant Health and Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to determine the agronomic potential and adaptability of new varieties relative to those currently in the market,” said Dr Mwimali Murenga from KALRO. He added that they have already planted in Alupe, Kakamega and Kibos. Other sites Embu, Mwea and thika will be planted from mid oct 2020 during the short rains season.

The NPTs are carried out to evaluate maize hybrids that have potential for commercialization. Experimental material under test are usually compared to those in the market. Several sites from a minimum of 6 sites to a maximum 10 sites are usually planted depending on the growing zones, added Dr Murenga.

Bt maize gave positive and significant effect on yield across varieties and trials with 52 per cent yield advantage over non-Bt maize in Kenya and Uganda,” said Dr. Oikeh, noting that full adoption of Bt maize in Kenya could save the country a whopping 400,000 tonnes equivalent to US 90 million that is lost to stemborer damage annually.

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is a microbe naturally found in soil and that has been used as a biological pesticide for several decades to control insect damage mostly in the horticulture industry. Usually used as a spray, scientists found a way to incorporate Bt proteins (genes) into the plant to give the plant protection against certain insect pests such as stem borer and fall armyworm without spraying the plant.

While responding to a question on safety concerns on the technology, Dr. Oikeh re-affirmed the safety of biotech products, noting that farmers from other regions across the world are enjoying the benefits of the technology.

“Several global authorities including World Health Organization (WHO); Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and many Academies of Sciences have all indicated the GM food that have been evaluated and passed through regulatory scrutiny and approved are safe to eat,” he emphasized.

In Africa, nine countries including Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Nigeria and Sudan have approved and released transgenic cotton, cowpea, maize and soybean. Globally, 67 countries are either growing or trading with biotech crops.

The TELA Maize Project works with governments in seven African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, and Uganda – to deliver the new TELA maize varieties to farmers. All TELA maize varieties will be made available to smallholder farmers through local seed companies after assessment by national authorities according to the country’s regulatory requirements.

*christawine@gmail.com

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Supporting Public Private Partnerships in Africa: African Development Bank ready to scale up
September 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

Representatives of the African Development Bank, governments, Development Finance Institutions, the private sector and  professional associations joined a September 8 workshop to discuss how the Bank can strengthen support for Public Private Partnerships and channel greater investment toward economic and social infrastructure. The event, titled Designing the African Development Bank’s PPP Framework, was hosted virtually by the Bank. 

The workshop took place against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing economic slowdown, which has sharpened an already urgent need for investment.  Five African countries accounted for more than 50% of all successful PPP activity from 2008 to 2018: South Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Egypt and Ghana. Several other countries have multiple PPPs in the pipeline– Burkina Faso has 20, and Botswana, 8.

“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, African infrastructure was already struggling to structure projects tailored for the private sector and at the same time achieving value for money for the public sector including affordability for users. It is therefore imperative that hybrid solutions such as PPPs must be seen and promoted as a way of building back better, stronger, greener, by clawing back private capital to infrastructure while creating much needed fiscal room for governments to address multiple other demands including building health systems’ resiliency.” Bank Vice President Solomon Quaynor said in his opening remarks.

The African Development Bank estimates Africa’s infrastructure financing needs at up to $170 billion a year by 2025, with an estimated financing gap of up to of $68 to $108 billion a year. PPPs are seen as a key element in narrowing this gap by crowding in private sector investment in infrastructure and African Development Bank is playing a critical role in scaling up that effort.

Amadou Oumarou, Director for the Bank’s Infrastructure and Urban Development department presented several rationales for the Bank’s effort to develop a PPP framework, including its Ten-Year Strategy (2013-2022) and a recommendation from the Bank’s Independent (IDEV) evaluation unit to scale up PPP interventions.

Webinar participants expressed a desire for the Bank to play an expanded role in supporting PPP development in Africa by strengthening policy and regulatory frameworks, building government capacity; project structuring and advisory services; and the provision of financing instruments such de-risking, guarantees, credit enhancements and local currency financing. 

 “Countries need to learn from each other’s achievements and mistakes, they need to have standard documents and checklists that will guide institutions in these countries through the PPP lifecycle,” said Shoubhik Ganguly of Rebel Group International, which is partnering with the Bank to develop the framework.  

Mike Salawou, Division Manager; Infrastructure Partnerships, said “Policy dialogue is something the Bank places a lot of premium on, and that has proven to be very efficient in informing decision making.” 

 “One of the challenges RMCs are faced with is selecting the right project for implementation, therefore support should start from there, then going through to actual project preparation makes it a lot easier,” said Michael Opagi, Division Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, IFC.

Private sector representatives praised DFIs as indispensable in securing financing for PPP projects in Africa.  One example of a successful PPP project cited during the workshop is the Kigali Bulk Water project, which received significant backing from the African Development Bank, the World Bank, as well as private sector players.

 According to Phillipe Valahu, CEO, PIDG the Kigali Water project is a perfect example of having an integrated support to a PPP project by using the three pillars proposed in the Bank’s PPP Framework. The project benefited from debt funding from PIDG alongside the African Development Bank which each provided $19 million of senior debt on commercial terms.   

 “The African Development Bank has unparalleled trust relationships with African governments, and we need to take advantage of that to speed up implementation of PPPS,” Quaynor said in closing.

*AFDB

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African Development Bank approves $27.33 million to ramp up the African Union’s COVID-19 Response Initiative
September 15, 2020 | 0 Comments

The African Development Bank’s Board of Directors on Wednesday approved $27.33 million in grants to boost the African Union’s (AU) efforts to mobilize a continental response to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

The approval follows a meeting of the extended Bureau of the Conference of Heads of State and Government with Africa’s private sector on 22 April 2020, chaired by H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa and chairperson of the AU, at which the Bank’s President, Akinwumi Adesina, pledged strong support for the AU’s COVID-19 initiative.

The AU Bureau meeting called for contributions to the African Union’s COVID-19 Response Fund established by the AU Commission chairperson, Mr. Moussa Faki Mahamat, in March 2020.

Speaking after the Board approval of this operation, President Adesina said: “The African Development Bank will strongly support Africa to get through the COVID-19 pandemic and build back, strongly and smartly. The Bank’s financial support to the Africa Centers for Disease Control, reaffirms our strong commitment to regional efforts to tackle the pandemic being coordinated by the African Union. Africa needs a well-financed Africa Centers for Disease Control, today and for the future.”

The Bank’s grant financing will support the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) in providing technical assistance and building capacity for 37 African Development Fund (ADF) eligible countries, particularly the Transition States, to combat the COVID-19 pandemic and mitigate its impact. The ADF is the Bank’s concessional window.

Sourced from the ADF’s Regional Operations/Regional Public Goods envelope and the Transition Support Facility, these two grants will support the implementation of Africa CDC’s COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness and Response Plan through strengthening surveillance at various points of entry (air, sea, and land) in African countries; building sub-regional and national capacity for epidemiological surveillance; and ensuring the availability of testing materials and personal protective equipment for frontline workers deployed in hotspots. The operation will also facilitate collection of gender-disaggregated data and adequate staffing for Africa CDC’s emergency operations center.

At the beginning of February 2020, only two reference laboratories—in Senegal and in South Africa—could run tests for COVID-19 on the continent. The Africa CDC, working with governments, the World Health Organization, and several development partners and public health institutes, have increased this capacity to 44 countries currently. Despite this progress, Africa’s testing capacity remains low, with the 37 ADF-eligible countries accounting for only 40% of completed COVID-19 tests to date.

“Our response today and support to the African Union is timely and will play a crucial role in helping Africa look inward for solutions to build resilience to this pandemic and future outbreaks,” said Ms. Wambui Gichuri, Ag. Vice President, Agriculture, Human and Social Development.

This support will complement various national and sub-regional operations financed by the African Development Bank under its COVID-19 Response Facility to support African countries to contain and mitigate the impacts of the pandemic.

*AFDB

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Pan-African Private Sector Trade and Investment Committee (PAFTRAC) challenges WTO to hear Africa’s voice
September 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

Agriculture subsidies and non-tariff barriers highlighted as a specific hindrance to development.

Communiqué sets out a road map for WTO reform; Communiqué calls for development to be at the centre of WTO reform; Agriculture subsidies and non-tariff barriers highlighted as a specific hindrance to development.

Following a meeting convened by the Pan-African Private Sector Trade and Investment Committee (PAFTRAC) and hosted by the Afreximbank, a communiqué addressed to members of the WTO and the eight candidates who have been shortlisted as the institution’s next Director General was released yesterday calling for a wide range of reforms.

The communiqué was formulated following numerous consultations with PAFTRAC members, its institutional partners, and through a comprehensive survey of the African private sector. Within it, the Committee have highlighted a number of recommendations to ensure the institution is more effective in growing global trade but doing so in a manner that is fair to all.

The communiqué stated that “ignoring the voice of Africa and other emerging economies will have dramatic consequences for and undermine the relevance of the WTO and the rules-based system at a time when multilateralism is already under threat.”

In the opening remarks at the meeting, the President of the Afreximbank stated that “Africa has played an important but largely under-valued role in the global economy.” He cited that Africa’s global share of trade has fallen from 4.4% in 1970 to 2.5% today, whilst the share of Asia has risen from 7.7% to 20% over that same period. “Whilst this is the result of numerous factors, including fragmented markets and persistent supply-side constraints,” he said, “tariff escalations and stringent standards on final goods in developed economies have limited Africa’s potential to move up value chains.”

The communiqué called for the WTO to ensure “that development issues are front and centre of its reform agenda.” They specifically called for African countries to be afforded Special and Differential Treatment that will allow flexibilities and sufficient policy space to support local industries and advance development. The African private sector also emphasised the importance of addressing subsidises and state-aid in developed economies which continue to confine Africa to the bottom of global value chains.

With the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) coming into effect in 2021, they also requested that African integration under the AfCFTA and the establishment of an African Common Market is not undermined by multilateral negotiations.

The organisers called for the voice of the African private sector be “heard and considered under the multilateral framework,” so that the private sector can not only compete fairly but also grow. Trade, they said, is vital to generate the volume and quality of jobs required to absorb over 17 million young Africans who are entering the labour market every year.

About PAFTRAC:
THE PAN-AFRICAN PRIVATE SECTOR TRADE AND INVESTMENT COMMITTEE (PAFTRAC)

PAFTRAC unites African leaders from the private sector and provides a unique advocacy platform bringing together the African private sector and African policymakers to support extra and intra-African trade, investment and pan-African enterprise. 

The platform drives pan-African results by providing a framework for private sector engagement in trade and investment issues in Africa, including policy formulation and trade negotiations to support African economies in line with the ambitions of Agenda 2063: “The Africa We Want”.

PAFTRAC enhances advocacy and supports policy actions and recommendations of the private sector on trade; and investment issues at the national, trade corridor, regional and multilateral levels.

*SOURCE Pan-African Private Sector Trade and Investment Committee (PAFTRAC)
 
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Sierra Leone : Patronize Us To Boast Agric Productivity FINIC Appeals To Government.
September 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The Chief Executive Officer of Fomel Industries and National  Industrialization Centre, popularly known as (FINIC), Foday Melvin Kamara has called on government to patronize with his company , an enterprise that designs and manufactures agricultural machines in the  country in order  to boost agricultural productivity for farmers.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Panafricanvisions.com, on Tuesday 8th September , at his factory, Kissy , East of Freetown , Foday Melvin Kamara said that most times when people talk about boosting production in agriculture, what comes to their mind is having tractors ,which some of them don’t understand how to use it , and most of them do not have the  culture to maintain them , adding that they do not have the skills well enough to operate those machines and thus end up not helping the farmers.

“And so, if people like us are given the chance to come out with technology that his home grown , that is done taken into  account the circumstances of this country will be very helpful. I have  always said, we can use Okada to do lots of operations within the agricultural sector particularly production like in ploughing , processing and rice milling, an okada can do that . so, if we have a sponsorship by way of patronage, a lot of things will come out that will  enhance in the boosting of agricultural productivity in the country both in terms of growing of the plants as well as adding value to them,’’ he said.

Foday Melvin Kamara said there has not been much collaboration by governments both past and present stating that one will expect that government collaborate and patronize with them especially about mechanization in the agricultural sector by the Ministry of Agriculture.

“ One absolutely will expect that we should collaborate with government , meaning government to patronize us , when government has anything to do or think about mechanization can come to people like us  that is always  doing this kind of work. That is our expectation and that  what we are doing is bigger for the nation and us that are doing the job .we  expect that; on that account , the government or governments to patronize us but that is not happening . I mean, with that who should be blamed , me or the government? What I’m doing, to me , it is more beneficial to country than to me as a personal person and then the government that our work will benefit which creates employment for youths, they don’t patronize me,’’ Foday Melvin Kamara said.

Foday Melvin Kamara added that if the government do not place him up there for the youths to see   him   as a role model  how can the country  industrialize adding that if we don’t industrialize , how would  that benefit the government thus it will create unemployment and badly affects the nation which will in turn creates unrest and chaos.

“People wants to work , if there are no places to work , they will put their talents into a negative form . so, I expect that the governments , both present  and past  to patronize me . That’s how I see it .The time actually that I should spend to go to the corridors of power to lobby,  and buy from me , is difficult to do as long as I am not able to sing the political songs . It is something that I am not able to do , therefore , I prefer the government gives me task once in a while, developing machine systems that will be according to our circumstances to enhance productivity in the agricultural sector and also enhance value -chain  addition. This is one way we can push the country forward,’’ Mr. Kamara urged.

When asked about  his company’s  collaboration with technical institutions, colleges and universities to help students get practical skills in mechanical and automobile engineering, he replied “the collaboration with the universities is ongoing though not how I expect it to be . They sometimes have their students on internship here at FINIC , they will be us with us for one month, two months , and sometimes they used the factory as an incubator centre  to hatch their ideas when they are doing their projects. That was going on with Njala , Fourah Bay College , and the for the past four years, that collaborative venture , I am  not  seeing it as much stronger as it used to be . It is important that the universities collaborate with us  because what they trained is more of  theoretical than practice but when the students leave the class room , then the theory just becomes something in the head , and something in the head, without been put into use , is as a good as a dead one.

The FINIC boss went on to say , that the world pays for  what one does , with that which one knows stating that  if one  know something in his  head, and  do not put it into application who will care thus expecting the universities  to give confidence to their students to send them to go through trainings  at various technical institutions across the country.

“Thank God the Ministry of Education I think is coming out with some kind of innovative ways for train such people in collaboration with GIZ and also the World Bank they will be coming within the agricultural , technical and vocational institutions package to help people get practical trainings,’’ the FINIC boss added.

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