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Agriculture: Glimmer Of Hope As Scientists Battle Lethal Potato Nematodes
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Christine Ochogo

Potato farmers: A nematode that threatens to wipe away the entire crop is causing sleepless nights to researchers. PHOTO/SAMUEL BAYA/NATION
Potato farmers: A nematode that threatens to wipe away the entire crop is causing sleepless nights to researchers. PHOTO/SAMUEL BAYA/NATION

Every season, Margaret Kenzi, a potato farmer in Kenya’s Rift Valley, tirelessly works in her potato farm with hopes of a bumper harvest.

To her dismay, her efforts of three years have hardly yielded as she does not use certified potato seeds. She attributes this sorry state to the high cost of certified seeds, which has driven her to using regenerated seeds every planting season that are prone to attacks by pests and diseases.

“I depend on recycled seeds because certified seeds cost Sh3,000 (U$30) per bag of 50kg which I cannot afford due to the hard economy. And after harvesting we are forced to sell our produce at a throwaway price to middlemen and brokers who invade our farms with ready cash. A 50kg bag of potatoes goes for between Sh1,500 (U$15) and Sh2,000 (U$20) while a 2kg package sells at Sh100 (U$1),” decries Kenzi.

Researchers put it that only maize is grown in more countries than potato, with Africa producing about seven percent of global potato output, mainly in Egypt and South Africa. The crop is popular and valuable for both food security and income generation, competing well with maize in the subtropical climates at higher altitudes.

Under these conditions, year-round production can be possible, often with at least two seasons per annum. In recent years, however, yields have shown notable declining trends, mainly attributed to major disease outbreaks, inappropriate cropping practices by farmers, substandard seed quality and lack of organised market infrastructure for produce.

Emerging markets for processed potatoes (such as chips, crisps, starch) have increasingly focused attention on the crop, with rising demand from the fast food industry and processing for added economic value. Processed potatoes, however, also demand high levels of quality, which can be difficult to sustain in the face of high pest and disease pressures.

In Kenya, according to Farming Success with Potatoes in Kenya, a publication by the International Centre of Potato (CIP), potato is the second most important staple food crop after maize and is valued at nearly $500 million (Sh50 billion) annually.

About 800,000 Kenyans directly benefit from potato production, while across the whole value chain about 2.5 million people receive income from potato. However, in Kenya, yields have declined and currently average 9-10 tonnes per hectare, much below the potential of 20–40 t/ha, and this is reflected across the region.

As if Mother Nature is adding insult to injury, farmers like Ms Kenzi’s woes are not helped by the emergence of new pests and diseases, such as the recently detected potato cyst nematodes (PCNs), Globodera rostochiensis and G. pallida, a key threat to potato production in eastern Africa, according to an article published recently in the Frontiers in Plant Science journal by International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe); International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA); North Carolina State University, USA; and Kenyatta University, Kenya.

The occurrence of PCN presents a key threat to potato production in Kenya, as well as to the entire East Africa region where potato features prominently as a food security or income generation crop for millions of smallholder farmers. The good news, states the study in its conclusion, is that it may be possible to manage the nematodes by inducing ‘suicidal hatching’ of the pests using naturally occurring chemicals in crop roots.

Nematodes are tiny microscopic worms, with some soil dwelling species infecting and adversely affecting most, if not all, cultivated crops. Potato cyst nematodes (PCNs) are invasive nematode pests that were first reported in Kenya in 2015, and have since been confirmed from other countries in eastern Africa.

Studies by icipe and partners have shown that these nematodes cause up to 80 per cent yield loss in potatoes.

“The management of the nematodes under study is particularly challenging due to the pest’s ability to survive in the soil as tiny protective cysts. These cysts can contain up to 600 eggs, but are able to remain dormant in the absence of a host plant for up to 20 years. Once they infest a field, it is impossible to eradicate. Therefore, a possible effective approach is to avoid the build-up and spread of the pest,” says Prof Baldwyn Torto, Head of Behavioural and Chemical Ecology Unit at icipe.

In over 100 countries, this has been achieved by strict quarantine regulations because they are globally considered as the most important pests threatening potato production but are all too often overlooked in less developed countries.

The recent studies by icipe and partners aimed to manage their spread by exploring several known facts about potato cyst nematodes. First, is the fact that potato cyst nematodes eggs hatch only in the presence of suitable host plants such as potato, tomato and African nightshade, which scientists refer to as the Solanaceae family.

Once hatched, the infective juvenile nematodes that emerge from the cyst seek host crop roots to invade and feed upon. The developing female nematodes swell and eventually become a new cyst full of eggs. These eggs hatch only once triggered by chemical signals produced by roots of the host plant. The aim of the research was to identify these signals, and whether they can be exploited to induce hatch of the potato cyst nematodes juveniles in the absence of host crops and thus lead to their eventual death; or rather the ‘suicidal hatch’ of the nematodes.

“We noted that most juvenile PCN that hatched in response to some chemical signals, known as steroidal glycoalkaloids (SGAs) and steroidal alkaloids (SAs), remained encysted. In other words, they did not leave the cyst to invade crop roots but remained encapsulated in the cyst,” noted a Kenyan scientist, Juliet Ochola, who was involved in the research as part of her MSc studies, based at icipe and registered at Kenyatta University.

Prof Danny Coyne, soil health scientist at IITA, explains that the SGAs and SAs could be used in synthetic forms to stimulate suicidal hatch of PCN in infested fields before farmers plant potatoes.

Alternatively, plants that produce the chemicals but are not usually infected by PCN could be incorporated in a crop rotation system to stimulate PCN hatch, thereby reducing populations of the pest.

“Blends of the compounds obtained from crude material of such plants may be used to treat potato fields as organic soil amendments. This approach would be environmentally attractive and better than using nematicides, which can be hazardous, and due to their dependence on single compounds, are prone to pest resistance,” says Prof Coyne.

The study presents the results of a countrywide survey undertaken to determine the distribution of PCN and the potential damage it is causing in the major potato growing regions of Kenya.

Additionally, the study team examined farmers’ potato production practices and how these will need to be taken into consideration for the implementation of future pest management strategies.

It is hoped that the information provided in the study will serve as a wakeup call that should further help policy makers and regional stakeholders to make informed decisions related to PCN containment and mitigation.

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Africa Energy Forum (aef) hosts digital networking platform for energy community
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

Following the postponement of aef to October 2020, organisers hosted the digital content and networking platform ‘aef2.0’ for Africa’s energy community over the previous dates of the Forum, between 30th June – 3rd July.

Under the theme ‘Investment & Impact: Out of Response and Into Recovery,’ aef2.0 examined the effect of Covid-19 on Africa’s energy sector, responses happening across the value chain and predictions for the long-term impact on investment and project development. 

Over 2000 attendees joined a series of digital panel discussions and debates featuring key stakeholders such as Power Africa, Aggreko, IFC, The African Development Bank, IEA, Siemens, Wärtsilä, Nedbank, Actis, Absa, DFC, SEforAll, and more.

4,559 messages were exchanged on the platform which allowed participants to schedule private one-to-one video meeting meetings throughout the week, with 562 meetings requested.

Panel discussions covered key topics such as how best to build resilience in live energy projects, the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG7) by 2030 and the impact on energy end users such as healthcare and agriculture. Country spotlight sessions also examined the unique impact of the pandemic on energy developments in Ghana, Kenya and Morocco. The event was designed to maintain momentum both in knowledge sharing and business development, as well as to provide deeper clarity on the direction of the sector

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Namibia buckles under coronavirus crisis
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Andreas Thomas

President Hage Geingob
President Hage Geingob

Windhoek – President Hage Geingob has called on Namibians to “brace themselves for bad times” ahead following recent spikes in the infections of the coronavirus in the country.

While addressing the media in the capital, Geingob expressed that the coronavirus pandemic might not be defeated within a year.

He described the pandemic as new normal that “we must get used to this”.

Namibia is edging closer to becoming one of the worst affected nations in the southern African region by the coronavirus pandemic.

The country has recorded 303 new cases of COVID-19 in the past seven days.

The recent spikes in new infections have raised fears that the worst is yet to come.

As of Monday, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 485.

And the harbour town of Walvis Bay in the west-central along the Atlantic coast in Erongo region has become the epicentre of the pandemic.

Of the total number of cases recorded so far, 436 are from the Erongo region, with 391 specifically recorded in Walvis Bay.

On Monday morning, health authorities confirmed 73 new cases of infection, of which 72 are from Walvis and one from the Khomas region.

The town is home to the country’s biggest port and an important centre of the fishing industry.

To prevent the further spread of the pandemic, President Geingob announced additional restriction measures for the coastal towns of Walvis Bay, Swakopmund and Arandis.

They were placed under a special dispensation during the COVID-19 state of emergency.

While the rest of the country has progressed to Stage 4 of the lockdown, the three towns will remain in Stage 3 of state of emergency with stringent travelling measures.

“We are fully aware that restrictions on the movement of people and the lockdowns necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic have had an adverse effect on our economy.

However, Namibia’s incidence curve for COVID-19 cases have risen sharply in recent weeks. Flattening this sharp rise, will now more than ever, require the Government to remain firm and responsive to the changing realities on the ground” said the head of state.

Health minister Dr Kalumbi Shangula said the movement of people in and out of the affected areas is prohibited except essential services. Shangula said the three coastal towns will be on lockdown until August 23, 2020.

The health minister stressed that travel is not permitted and will be restricted only to the supply of essential and critical supply of goods and services as defined in the State of emergency regulations.

He added that all persons leaving and entering the restricted local authority areas will be recorded in a registry at the entry and exit points.

The public gathering is still restricted to 10 people. Schools in the affected areas will also remain closed. Namibia has so far recorded 25 recoveries with no COVID-19 related fatality.

Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi revealed that Namibia is losing around N$2 billion weekly due to expansive measures necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. He said the government is faced with the delicate act of saving lives and allowing certain economic activities to livelihoods.

The government is working with the tourism and hospitality industry on tourism revival initiative to open the borders to a limited number of foreign tourists.

“Work to finalize preparations for the announced tourism revival Initiative is ongoing, further modalities will be communicated. We want to be meticulous in the execution of this initiative, so as to safeguard our public health gains in the other regions of the country and deliver on our intended objective of reviving the Tourism and Hospitality sectors,” President Geingob aid.

The tourism sector that employs over 100 000 people are one of the worst affected economic sectors by the coronavirus crisis.

Namibia plans to open its borders during Stage 5 at the end of August 2020.

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Nigerian Passport ‘Stable’ in Post-Pandemic World
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments
Photo credit Daily Advent

As parts of the globe cautiously begin to open up, the focus is on what travel freedom and global mobility will look like in a post–Covid-19 world. Moving into the 3rd quarter of 2020, Nigeria retains its 97th position on the Henley Passport Index — the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa — with visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 46 destinations. The seemingly unaffected status of Nigeria’s passport power against the acute public health impact of the coronavirus and the movement restrictions could take a  turn  for the worst if the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa’s estimate of 122 million infections in the continent becomes a reality.

Independent consultant to international news outlets, publications and think-tanks, and a Director at Signal Risk, Ryan Cummings, says in addition to the acute public health impact of the pandemic, coronavirus has caused adverse economic externalities for Africa arising from both the decrease in global demand for commodity exports — notably oil and raw minerals — and movement restrictions imposed to contain the outbreak. Of these measures, among the most economically damaging has been the imposition of border and airspace closures to passenger traffic. Nigeria is the third most affected country on the continent behind South Africa and Egypt. Lagos is, however, beginning to ease restrictions to reopen the economy, with domestic flights due to commence on 8 July 2020.

Head of Nigeria at Henley & Partners, Stuart Wakeling, says that although it is too early to tell the full impact of the coronavirus on the Nigerian economy and the country’s global mobility, there are Nigerian passport holders who prefer to have certainty over their travel freedom and future global mobility. “With the ease in restrictions, we are beginning to see more people paying careful attention to their own global mobility and evaluating their options for travel freedom and residence. They are considering destinations which have effectively handled the coronavirus outbreak, and especially those which are declared virus-free.”

Last week the EU released a list of countries that would be allowed entry into the bloc from 1 July based on health and safety criteria. Included were Australia, Canada, Japan, and South Korea that traditionally score highly on the Henley Passport Index.  However, in a move perceived as a stinging rebuke for its poor handling of the pandemic, the US was notably excluded from the welcome list, as were Brazil and Russia.

Although not reflected in the latest ranking, which does not take temporary travel bans into account, it is eye-opening to consider what travel freedom currently looks like for the holders of once-prestigious passports. For instance, before Covid-19 the US passport usually ranked within the top 10 on the Henley Passport Index in 6th or 7th place, with its citizens able to access 185 destinations around the world without requiring a visa in advance. However, under the current EU ban, the picture looks starkly different. US nationals now have roughly the same level of travel freedom as citizens of Uruguay (included on the EU’s list of welcome countries), which ranks 28th on the index, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 153. In another striking inversion, the US’s dramatic decline in passport power means that Americans find themselves with a similar level of travel freedom usually available to citizens of Mexico (25th on the index, with a score of 159), current travel bans notwithstanding, albeit temporarily.

This is one of many extraordinary shifts in passport power caused by the temporary pandemic-related bans. Brazilian passport holders, for example, find their passport strength greatly diminished. The country usually ranks highly on the index ¾ most recently placed 19th, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 170 ¾ but the loss of access to the EU means Brazilians currently have roughly the same extent of travel freedom as citizens of Paraguay (36th on the index, with a score of 142).

Without taking the various travel bans and restrictions into account, Japan continues to hold the number one spot on the Henley Passport Index with a score of 191. Singapore remains in 2nd place with a score of 190, while Germany and South Korea are in joint-3rd place, each with a score of 189. Both Japan and South Korea have been included on the EU’s list of ‘safe’ countries, while Singapore has been excluded, which means Singaporean passport holders currently have far less travel freedom than their closest competitors on the index, which is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA)

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of investment migration firm Henley & Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, says the EU’s recent decision will have far reaching effects. “As we have already seen, the pandemic’s impact on travel freedom has been more drastic and long lasting than initially anticipated. This latest decision by the EU indicates that there is more upheaval to come. Look at the US passport, for example ¾ in 2014, it held the number one spot in the world on our index, but US nationals currently have far less travel freedom than most citizens of other wealthy, industrialized nations and even of some less developed nations, being effectively locked out of Europe. We see an emergence of a new global hierarchy in terms of mobility, with countries that have effectively managed the pandemic taking the lead, and countries that have handled it poorly falling behind.”

Immigration controls in US and UK tighten amid calls for co-operation

While the US looks set to be significantly affected by the EU’s latest decision, it has issued stringent immigration controls of its own over the past few months. Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research at NewCities, says that the Trump administration’s temporary suspension of all work visas will have far-reaching effects. “The executive order, signed on the 22 June, will bar as many as 525,000 foreign workers from entering the country for the rest of the year.” As Lindsay points out, this decision is only the latest salvo in White House aide Stephen Miller’s years-long campaign to curtail worker visas, arguing that they harm employment prospects for Americans.

In the UK, the pandemic’s effect on mobility has also been severe. Robert McNeil, Deputy Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford, says that the almost complete cessation of international arrivals into the country has generated serious challenges for industries that have become dependent on seasonal migrant workers from the EU. McNeil says that despite public attitudes around immigration softening, the Brexit process has not slowed down. “In May, the government pushed through the new Immigration Bill, paving the way for a new ‘points-based’ immigration system. The new restrictions would prevent many people from becoming key workers in the UK in future. Around half of the EU citizens currently in key worker positions in the UK would not meet the new salary and skills thresholds required to move to the country from 2021.”

Changing priorities in a transformed world

As premium passports lose their shine in a post-Covid world, experts suggest that the crisis is likely to make international mobility more restricted and unpredictable in the longer term. “Even as countries open their borders, it is expected that numerous governments will use epidemiological concerns as a justification for imposing new immigration restrictions and nationality-targeted travel bans that will mainly be aimed at citizens of developing countries,” says Prof. Dr. Yossi Harpaz, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tel Aviv University. Noting the recent decision by the EU with respect to the US and other countries, Harpaz says, “The passports of both developing and developed nations stand to decrease in value, at least temporarily. In such uncertain times, global demand for dual citizenship and investor visas is expected to increase.”

Discussing the impact of the pandemic on global migration trends, Charles Phillips, researcher and consultant for Oxford Business Group, suggests that environmental health concerns could become a priority for those seeking alternative residence or citizenship. “We can expect places that are governed well and better equipped to deal with pandemics to become destinations people will seek to move to. Just as travel choices will likely be more strongly influenced by health considerations, we may see those acquiring alternative residence or citizenship placing a greater emphasis on a country’s health policies when deciding where to reside.”

Wakeling says that the growing demand for additional residence and citizenship options comes as no surprise. “We have seen extraordinary upheaval over the past few months, with many certainties falling away. For investors and their families, having a second citizenship or an alternative residence is an even more precious asset than ever before, as concerns over access to first-rate healthcare, global mobility, and quality of life take on a new urgency. In turn, investment migration programs provide invaluable economic security to the countries that offer them. As we enter the worst recession since the Great Depression, a small country like Montenegro, for instance, is better equipped to weather the storm. The recently launched Montenegro Citizenship-by-Investment Program allows permanent access and right to stay in the beautiful and safe European country. It also provides an immediate liquidity injection of much needed debt-free foreign capital that can be used to buffer the impact of the pandemic and create significant societal value.”

Boasting cutting-edge expert commentary and historical data spanning 15 years, the Henley Passport Index is the original ranking of all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa. The ranking is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), which maintains the world’s largest and most accurate database of travel information, and it is enhanced by extensive, ongoing research by the Henley & Partners Research Department.

About Henley & Partners

Henley & Partners is the global leader in residence and citizenship planning. Each year, hundreds of wealthy individuals and their advisors rely on our expertise and experience in this area. The firm’s highly qualified professionals work together as one team in over 30 offices worldwide.

The concept of residence and citizenship planning was created by Henley & Partners in the 1990s. As globalization has expanded, residence and citizenship have become topics of significant interest among the increasing number of internationally mobile entrepreneurs and investors whom we proudly serve every day.

The firm also runs a leading government advisory practice that has raised more than USD 8 billion in foreign direct investment. Trusted by governments, the firm has been involved in strategic consulting and in the design, set-up, and operation of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs.

*Source Henley & Partners

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DRC Offers the World an Immediate Climate Solution
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

Everland launches inaugural webinar, Everland Presents: REDD+, A Force of Nature presenting the pioneering Wildlife Works Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project.

Everland, the exclusive representative of the largest portfolio of high-impact, forest conservation projects across the globe launched its inaugural webinar event REDD+, A Force of Nature, presenting the Wildlife Works Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project in the DRC highlighting the critical importance to protect the Congo Basin Rainforest.

REDD+ is an acronym for Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation, a climate change mitigation strategy introduced by the United Nations that is an essential part of the Paris Climate Agreement.

The REDD+ mechanism was designed to help stop the destruction of the world’s forests which is contributing massively to the climate crisis. REDD+ allows local landowners in the developing world to monetize their forest and biodiversity assets whether they are governments, communities, ownership groups, or private individuals.

The Congo Basin Rainforest is the second largest intact tropical forest on earth and left standing, offers the world an immediate low-cost climate solution that also protects habitat for threatened wildlife and a way to bring sustainable development benefiting the local the forest community.

Leading sustainability and corporate social responsibility executives, impact investors, policy makers and media from 26 countries were in attendance.

Expert speakers explained how REDD+ offers one of the most effective tools we have right now to combat the climate crisis.

June 30th is significant as it is Independence Day in the DRC which had experienced a long history of colonial oppression and post-colonial exploitation and put the country in a position of dire need of development.

Today, a progressive new coalition government in the DRC is focused on meeting the needs of its people, eager to find ways to address extreme poverty and to preserve the country’s natural resources for the benefit of all.

REDD+ as a market-based mechanism offers the DRC an approach to solve both the needs of its population and the environment.

To address the climate crisis, the DRC has demonstrated longstanding leadership in UN Climate negotiations, representing Africa and advocating for the importance of forest conservation.

Since 2011, Wildlife Works has been working with the DRC government on the country’s national and subnational REDD+ program.

Her Excellency Madame Jeanne Ilunga Zaina, Vice Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development for the Democratic Republic of the Congo discussed the DRCs ambition for a green new future and praised Wildlife Works for its numerous achievements to stop deforestation and bring much needed benefits to the local forest community.

Basabo Boot’Ombala, Chief of Batwa Pygymy Village of Ikita, one of 23 villages in the project area, was interviewed and she spoke about life in Ikita and what the Mai Ndombe REDD+ Project means to the Indigenous Batwa Pygmy community.

Chief Basabo said:

“Here in my village, the forest is our main source of everything. Our livelihood is highly dependent on the forest. That is the reason why we are saving the forest. We can’t survive without the forest. The forest is my and the whole (Ikita) populations survival.”

Other speakers included:

  • Armin Sandhoevel, Chief Investment Officer Infrastructure Equity, Allianz
  • Mike Korchinsky, Founder and President, Wildlife Works
  • Jean-Robert Bwangoy, DRC Country Director, Wildlife Works
  • Anna Lehmann, Global Climate Policy Director, Wildlife Works
  • Naomi Swickard, Chief Program Officer, Verra
  • Filip Agoo, Documentary Impact Photographer, Create The Change
  • Josh Tosteson, Chief Operating Officer, Everland
  • Moderated by Pamela Brazier, Vice President of Business Development, Europe, Everland

For more information about the speakers and the discussion:

About Mai Ndombe

The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project protects 300k hectares of critical bonobo and forest elephant habitat within the Congo Basin, the world’s second largest intact rainforest which also contains one of the most important wetlands of the planet. This project supports some of the worlds most impoverished and marginalized people in one of the least-developed places on Earth. The Mai Ndombe REDD+ project, developed and managed by Wildlife Works, utilizes carbon finance to address the basic development needs of 180,000 people that previously had little to no access to basic social services.

About WildlifeWorks

Wildlife Works is the world’s leading REDD+ program development and management company with an effective approach to applying innovative market-based solutions to the conservation of biodiversity. Over its 24-year history, Wildlife Works established a successful model that uses the emerging marketplace for REDD+ Carbon Offsets to protect threatened forests, wildlife, and communities.

About Everland

Everland is a specialized marketing company representing the largest portfolio of high-impact, forest conservation projects, across the globe, that are focused on stopping deforestation. The company brings together forest communities and corporations in a common cause to protect some of the world’s most important and vulnerable forests.

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Bluewater appoints new general manager for South African operation in major restructure
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments
Cape Town-based Janneke Brasecke named new General Manager for Bluewater Africa organisation
Cape Town-based Janneke Brasecke named new General Manager for Bluewater Africa organisation

Bluewater AB, a world leading Swedish watertech company, has appointed Cape Town-based Janneke Brasecke as the new general manager for its South African organisation as part of a major restructure.

The realignment came as Bluewater sets out a growth-focused ambition to help Bluewater Africa rebound following the Covid19 epidemic by developing and growing existing and new business across the country. Bluewater Africa is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bluewater AB as of July 1, with an initial focus on continuing its well-established mobile water station business for the event, film and mining industries.

The Bluewater mobile water station dispenses purified chilled water that is served either still or sparkling. The stations are equipped with sensor technology rather than push buttons to control point-of-use water delivery aimed at reducing any potential for transmission of Covid-19 or other germs.

A regular sight at the Rocking the Daisies music fest and Sanlam Cape Town Marathon, the Bluewater mobile water stations have proven highly popular in South Africa’s television and film production industry as it moves towards environmental sustainability.

Bluewater’s unique mobile water purification stations were used on the Western Cape set of Raised By Wolves, the TNT sci-fi series from filmmaker Ridley Scott (The Martian, Blade Runner, Alien: Covenant), for example. Another film set serviced by Bluewater water stations serving up pure water to staff was the popular Netflix production, Blood and Water.

As Bluewater has placed planetary health at the heart of its business mission, Bluewater hydration stations have also been used in a variety of environmental and beach clean-up projects in and around Cape Town.

“This is a great moment for Bluewater Africa and I am absolutely delighted to have the opportunity to continue growing our purified water delivery solutions,” said Ms. Brasecke, who has worked with Bluewater since the company first arrived in South Africa in early 2018 as official water supplier to the Volvo Ocean Race stop-over in Cape Town.

“Our ambition is to drive profitability so we can ensure business sustainability, preserve and ultimately create jobs and deliver healthy, clean water to South Africans”, Ms. Brasecke said.

Bluewater is a world leading, Swedish water purification company with regional sales offices in the USA, China, South Africa and Europe. Bluewater innovates, manufactures and comercializes compact water purifiers for residential, business and public use that harness the company’s patented reverse osmosis technology to remove virtually all pollutants from tap water, including lead, bacteria, pesticides, medical residues, chlorine, microplastics, and lime-scale.

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African Economic Outlook Supplement: Here is how African countries can deal with COVID-19, reopen economies and accelerate recovery.
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

Charles Lufumpa, the African Development Bank’s Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management speaks on the recent release of the African Economic Outlook 2020 Supplement. He shares policy recommendations to cushion the shock of COVID-19 on countries.

Charles Lufumpa is the African Development Bank’s Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management

How has Africa’s economic trajectory changed since the 2020 African Economic Outlook launched in January?

Almost everything has changed since January. The outbreak COVID-19 pandemic has distressed the global economy, particularly African economies. At the time the projections for Africa’s economic growth and prospects were prepared in January 2020, no one anticipated the magnitude of disruptions that COVID-19 would cause.

 Both the pandemic and the containment measures put in place by governments to limit its spread have had important economic implications. International travel restrictions, school and workplace closures, cancellation of public events, restrictions on public gatherings and closures of national borders and non-essential businesses have had an unprecedented  impact on Africa’s economic, health and political landscape.

The direct and indirect consequences of the outbreak have upended the strong upward trajectory of  many African countries through 2019. Our analyses, projections and forecasts in the AEO 2020 Supplement reflect this sharply changed landscape.

Why is the African Economic Outlook 2020 Supplement necessary at this time?

The pandemic has reversed the strong growth projections reported earlier in our 2020 African Economic Outlook due to the significant economic and health-related disruptions it is causing African countries.

To account for the impact of the pandemic on Africa’s socio-economic landscape, it was necessary to reassess the situation and revise our growth projections and outlook for 2020 and 2021.

The AEO 2020 Supplement presents revised projections for Africa’s economic growth and outlook for 2020 and 2021, assesses the  impact of COVID-19, and offers policy prescriptions on safe strategies to reopen economies and accelerate recovery after the pandemic.

What are the main policy recommendations to spur 3.0 percent growth in 2021?

 It is important to first underscore that projections of a 3-percent growth recovery in 2021 are subject to major downside risks arising from both external and domestic factors. For instance, there remains a non-negligible risk of a second wave of COVID-19 infection, which could necessitate that African countries  reimpose physical distancing, lockdowns, and quarantines.

We should also not forget other natural catastrophes such as the locusts swarms in parts of East Africa that are hurting farmers’ yields and livelihoods. Other exacerbating factors such as subdued commodity prices, high debt burdens, and tightening global financing conditions are likely to increase the uncertainty of Africa’s projected economic recovery.

The AEO 2020 Supplement emphasizes a multi-pronged policy approach to addressing the pandemic that involves: a public health response to contain the spread of the virus and minimize fatalities;  a monetary policy response to ease liquidity constraints and solvency risks, a fiscal response to cushion the impacts on livelihoods and to assist businesses; a labour-market response to protect workers and their jobs; and structural policies to enable African economies to rebuild and enhance their resilience to future shocks.

Actionable details on how to implement these policy responses are presented in Section 3 of the Supplement.

How can African countries build economies that are more resilient against future shocks?

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is certainly not the last major shock the continent will face. In the AEO Supplement, we emphasized the need to accelerate structural reforms to help African countries build more resilient economies and become better prepared to face future shocks.

By increasing productivity and addressing obstacles to the business environment, African countries could revive their productive base and increase levels of industrialization. These resilience-boosting reforms would require investment in human capital to build a workforce with the right skills for high-productivity sectors and bridging the infrastructure deficit to advance Africa’s industrial development.

Moreover, promoting economic diversification will help countries adapt to an increasingly volatile global economy and better shield their economies from future shocks. This will require targeted policies that boost agricultural productivity and move labor from low-productivity to high-productivity sectors as well as supporting competitive sectors such as agro-processing, digital technologies, or information and communication technology-based services, which have proved critical during the pandemic.

Other challenges that will need to be addressed in order to achieve faster-growing and more resilient African economies include: formalizing the informal sector; ensuring political stability, good governance and transparency, and stronger protections for property rights.  

*AFDB.

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Post COVID-19: Africa’s growth stands to rebound to 3% in 2021, African Development Bank says in African Economic Outlook 2020 Supplement
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

-Governments and development partners must respond in a more coordinated, targeted, and rapid manner to be effective in limiting impacts

-An additional 49 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic and its aftermath; West and Central Africa stand to be worst hit

Africa’s economic growth could rebound in 2021, provided that governments manage the COVID-19 infection rate well, according to updated forecasts from the African Development Bank, released on Tuesday.

In a comprehensive socio-economic assessment of the pandemic’s impact, the Bank said growth was now projected to rebound to 3% in 2021 from -3.4% in the worst-case scenario for 2020.

The predictions are contained in a supplement to the Bank’s African Economic Outlook, which was released on 30 January. At the time, Africa’s growth was forecast at 3.9% in 2020 and 4.1% in 2021.

The supplement cautioned that the growth outlook for 2021 and beyond would depend largely on African governments’ effectiveness in flattening the curve of the outbreak and policies to reopen economies.

Charles Leyeka Lufumpa, Acting Chief Economist and Vice President for Economic Governance and Knowledge Management, at the African Development Bank, said: “To reopen economies, policymakers needed to follow a phased and incremental approach that carefully evaluates the trade-offs between restarting economic activity too quickly and safeguarding the health of the population. “

“Economic activities can be restarted incrementally on the basis of the transmission risks of different sectors,” Lufumpa said.

The spread of the virus in Africa depends largely on the preparedness of countries to separate and treat infected patients, the supplement stated, noting that only 21 out of 54 African countries are clinically prepared to deal with epidemics.

Executive Director of the African Economic Research Consortium and Former Governor of the Central Bank of Kenya, Njuguna Ndung’u described the African Economic Outlook 2020 supplement as “a very important and useful policy tool for African countries who actually need it  at this time.”

“It will be useful now and in the future. It gives us important short, medium- and long-term strategies,” he added, stressing crises like COVID-19 present a good opportunity for innovative  reforms in countries.

The supplement noted that the curve of the pandemic in Africa was flattening gradually. However, COVID-19 remains a serious threat to lives and livelihoods, given weak healthcare systems and limited social protection. The continent also remains vulnerable to other regional threats such as the locust swarms that have struck East Africa, as well as to extreme climate events.

Under projected scenarios for contraction of growth, Africa could lose between $145.5 billion and $189.7 billion of GDP in 2020, according to the publication.

Hanan Morsy, Director of the Macroeconomic Policy, Forecasting and Research Department at the African Development Bank, said “The African Economic Outlook 2020 Supplement shows that for the first time in the last half-century, Africa would be facing an economic recession as a fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic. This would affect the gains achieved in poverty reduction as an estimated 49 million Africans could be pushed into poverty, with about 30 million jobs at the verge of disappearing.  Policymakers need to act fast to alleviate the impact of the crisis on vulnerable groups through well targeted social safety net measures.”

Urgent interventions required

The report called for urgent policy interventions to mitigate the impact of the pandemic: “Across Africa, the response must be well-sequenced and multipronged, involving a public health response to contain the spread of the virus and minimise fatalities, a monetary policy response to ease liquidity constraints and solvency risks, and a fiscal response to cushion the economic impacts of the pandemic on livelihoods and to assist businesses.”

Other proposed interventions included labour market policies to protect workers and their jobs, and structural policies to enable African economies to rebuild and enhance their resilience to future shocks.

The supplement warned that the tourism, transportation, and entertainment sectors may take longer to recover. Between 2017 and 2018, African travel and tourism grew by 5.6%, compared with the global average of 3.9%.

According to Morsy, the supplement projected that, in the worst-case scenario, an additional 49 million Africans could be pushed into extreme poverty by the pandemic and its aftermath. The number of people in extreme poverty in Africa (using the $1.90 international poverty line) could reach 453.4 million in 2020 as a result of the pandemic, compared to 425.2 million under the no-outbreak scenario.

People in West and Central Africa faced a higher risk of falling into extreme poverty due to the pandemic, but COVID-19 would also deepen poverty in East and Southern Africa.

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 54 African countries stood at 304,642, with 8,087 reported deaths as of 22 June 2020. According to the supplement, reported figures were likely to be higher in reality because of limited testing capabilities in most countries.

The authors said to reopen economies, policymakers needed to follow a phased and incremental approach that carefully evaluated the trade-offs between restarting economic activity too quickly and safeguarding the health of the population. They also must build public trust and buy-in and address structural bottlenecks that make the continent more vulnerable to future shocks.

*AFDB

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Sierra Leone : President Bio Appoints New Attorney General And Minister Of Justice
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

The new Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Anthony Yeihwoe Brewah, taking the Oath of Office at State House before President Maada Bio

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has appointed renowned Lawyer  Anthony Yiehwoe Brewah as the country’s new Attorney General and Minister of Justice replacing her predecessor  Dr. Priscilla Schwartz ,the first ever female Justice Minister  in the country.

“It has pleased His Excellency the President , Brig.(Retired) Julius Maada Bio to appoint Anthony Yiehwoe Brewah as Attorney General and Minister of Justice with immediate effect,’’ a statement from the office of President said on Monday.

 Her replacement as Justice Minister has been mounting days  after the government lost the treason case against former defence  Minister and opposition politician Rtd. Alfred Palo Conteh with prominent lawyers , civil society activist , the media , citizens calling for her resignation as they felt  she has wasted the states  resources in a case where there were no evidences or need to have charged the matter.

The new Justice Minister becomes the third to hold that position since President Bio assumed power two years ago.

The former Justice Minister prior to her appointment as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, worked as Senior Lecturer and the Director of the Energy and Natural Resources Law (Master of Laws (LLM) Programme, at the College of Professional Services, Royal Docks School of Business and Law, University of East. London, United Kingdom (2012-2018). She has also lectured at the University of Leicester, UK, (2007-2012), Queen Mary, University of London, UK (2008-2011), School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK (2011-2013).

Speaking on Local television on AYV’s Wake Up Sierra Leone on Monday, on Palo’s treason trial, Renowned Human Rights Lawyer Augustine Sorie Sangba Marah, said “She’s put the nation through enormous distress, enormous fear and I think the humble thing is for the AG to have her resignation”

Another Renown Lawyer, Law lecturer and former Ombudsman Francis Gabbidon also called for the Minister of Justice resignation on Local television AYV stating that ” the decision to ignore the Police investigation of unlawful possession and charge for treason is a big blunder, the attorney general should tender her resignation to the President”

These calls by these prominent lawyers including ordinary citizens critics believed that these could have pressured the President to replace her with another person on late Monday evening.

Popular journalist and editor of Salone Times Newspaper , Thomas Dixon, wrote on his Facebook account “AG Priscilla Schwartz out!…. We have A listening President.

However there has been no statement from the former Justice since her replacement on Monday night.

The new attorney general was first appointed as Minister of  Local government and Rural development but was sacked less than a year in that office.

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Kenya:Schools To Remain Closed Until 2021
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Kenyan Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof. George Magoha
Kenyan Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof. George Magoha

As the cases of the Coronavirus in Kenya continue to rise, Education Ministry on Tuesday announced that pre-primary, primary and secondary schools will re-open in January 2021.

Addressing the press in Nairobi, Education Cabinet Secretary (CS) Prof. George Magoha said the Ministry have taken the move following wide consultations with education stakeholders saying the pupils’ safety is a top priority.

Prof. Magoha also pushed forward this year’s Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) and Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) to next year. According to Magoha, all learners will repeat their classes. He noted 2020 academic calendar is lost.

“Stakeholders have shelved the initial proposal to reopen schools in September for Standard Eight and Form Four candidates,” he said.

However, the CS said the decision will be reviewed when daily Covid-19 cases reduce consistently for 14 days.

He added that colleges and technical and vocational education and training (Tvet) institutions will re-open in September subject to strict adherence to safety measures put in place to curb the spread of the novel virus.

“Universities will be allowed to re-open if they meet all the requirements set by MoH, and they must be inspected. Members of staff must agree on how they will do a phased reopening,” he said.

This comes hours after President Uhuru Kenyatta announced phased re-opening of the economy from a Covid-19 lockdown. Addressing the nation on Monday, June 6, the Head of the State lifted the cessation of movement in and out of Counties of Nairobi, Mombasa and Mandera considered as the virus hotspots effective on Tuesday at 4am (local time).

President also permitted the gradual re-opening of places of worship but insisted that every service must last for one hour with only 100 worshippers per service. Congregants under the age of 13 years and above the age of 58 years and those with underlying conditions should not attend worship services, said Kenyatta.

Local air travel is set to resume on July 15 whereas international travel will begin on August 1.

“By reopening (the three counties), we must be cognisant of the fact that we are much more at risk when the restrictions were in place. We must exercise cautious optimism,” said the President.

Nevertheless, a ban on public gatherings in weddings, bars, political rallies was extended for 30 days as well as dusk to dawn curfew.

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Namibia to Quarantine International Tourists
July 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Andreas Thomas

Windhoek – International tourists who plan to vacation in Namibia once the country lifts border restrictions have to undergo a 14-day mandatory quarantine upon arrival.

Namibia has announced plans to revive the tourism sector, the worst affected industry by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, President Hage Geingob has reiterated the government stance to quarantine all arrivals at their own cost.

“If you are not willing to quarantine for 14 days when you arrive, you should not come. If it was me, I will not come,” Geingob told media in the capital.  

The government has set up a ministerial taskforce in collaboration with the private tourism sector to conduct an assessment of the targeted international tourism revival initiative from 15 July to 15 August 2020.

“Work to finalize preparations for the announced tourism revival initiative is ongoing, further modalities will be communicated. We want to be meticulous in the execution of this initiative, to safeguard our public health gains in the other regions of the country and deliver on our intended objective of reviving the tourism and hospitality sectors,” President Geingob has said.

Visitors from lower-risk countries are required to present a valid Covid-19 test within 72 hours of departing to Namibia once the borders reopen under Stage 5 of the State of Emergency.

Upon arrival into the country, they will once again test for Covid-19 before they commerce with a mandatory two week quarantine period.

The tourism sector employs over 100,000 Namibians. Namibia moved into Stage 4 from 30 June until 17 September.

Namibia will be the first country in the SADC region to open its borders to international visitors against the backdrop of Covid-19.

The United Nations World Trade Organization (UNWTO) has adopted an agenda for Africa to accelerate tourism recovery. UN tourism body said the African destinations have been hit hard by the restrictions on travel introduced in response to the pandemic.

It said in a statement that the sudden and unexpected drop in tourist arrivals has placed many millions of jobs at risk and threatened to roll back the progress made in sustainable development.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on tourism across the continent. However, UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger and better and for tourism to emerge from this crisis as an important pillar of economies, jobs and sustainability,” says UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili.

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Rwanda:Former PM Habumuremyi Under Arrest
July 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Maniraguha Ferdinand

Former Prime Minister of Rwanda, Dr Habumuremyi Damien has been arrested
Former Prime Minister of Rwanda, Dr Habumuremyi Damien has been arrested

Rwanda Investigation Bureau has arrested former Prime Minister, Dr Habumuremyi Pierre Damien over breach of trust and issuing a bounced cheque.

He was arrested on Friday, 3rd July 2020 according to Rwanda Investigation Bureau, while investigation is going on.

Dr Habumuremyi who was Prime Minister from 2011 to 2014,  is alleged to have committed such crimes as the Chancellor of  Christian University of Rwanda, a college in the capital Kigali which he co-founded.

Christian University which was founded in 2017, has been in the news recently, with staff decrying to spend months without salaries, which paralyzed teaching at the university.

Arrested also is Professor  Egide Karuranga, the former Vice chancellor of University of Kibungo which was closed recently due to internal conflicts and mismanagement.

Karuranga is alleged to have misused public funds, nepotism among others.

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