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Dynamic US-Africa Partnership Lauded at African Day Celebrations in Washington,DC.
May 29, 2015 | 0 Comments

Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC. Rev Jackson and Ambassador Teitelbaum in a group photo with African Ambassadors in Washington,DC.[/caption] In celebrations to mark the 2015 African Day  in Washington, DC,  dynamic ties between the USA –Africa hailed by the Ambassador of Egypt Mohamed Tawfik. Speaking as co-Chair of the celebrations organized by the African Ambassador’s group, the Egyptian Envoy cited the last US-Africa’s Leaders’ Summit and the support that Africa continues to receive from the US in multiple forms. “The celebration is about Africa’s success”, said Ambassador Tawfik as he enumerated a litany of positive developments taking place in the continent. Africa is one of the fastest growing regions in the world he said, with life expectancy ticking up, and more children in school than at any other time. The continent is increasingly taking charge of its own security challenges and Egypt will be hosting a historic summit soon geared towards the creation of a broader Pan African free trade zone ,said Tawfik. In addition to Women serving as Presidents, and in parliament, Tawfik also cited the example of AU Chair Dlamini Zuma to highlight the progress made by women in the continent. Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State at the State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs delivered the keynote speech in which he highlighted the important role women have always played in the history of Africa. [caption id="attachment_18381" align="alignright" width="586"]Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration Rev Jackson poses with members of the Ivorian dance troupe that animated the celebration[/caption] Celebrated under the theme “Women Empowerment & Development towards Achieving Africa Agenda 2063”, Ambassador Teitelbaum saluted the strides that have been made by the African Union and African countries. Africa’s biggest resource is its people Ambassador Teitelbaum and no country can get ahead if half of its population is left behind. Africa represents a growing a growing market and just this year alone, there have been some 316 million new cell phone subscribers reported ,Teitelbaum said. Programs like the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, PEPFAR, have been helpful in alleviating the health plight of women and children, said. Ambassador Mathilde Mukantabana of Rwanda who heads the African Ambassadors Group in Washington, DC, also spoke on the importance of placing women at the center of development. With Maureen Umeh of Fox TV as MC, the celebration had as special Guest the Rev Jesse Jackson ,Founder and President of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.  Other guests from the African American Community included Melvin Foote from the Constituency for Africa, and Denise Rolark Barnes, Publisher of the Washington Informer. Sponsored by Chevron, Coca Cola, and Exxon Mobile, guests were treated to an art exhibition and entertainment performance of folk dances from Egypt, Rwanda and Ivory Coast.      ]]>

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"With a billion people the African continent, is home to just three percent of the world’s aviation business"
May 8, 2015 | 0 Comments

May we get a background on Fastjet and its business operations in Africa? [caption id="attachment_17886" align="alignleft" width="300"]Ed Winter Ed Winter[/caption] Fastjet, the low-cost pan-African airline, commenced flight operations on 29 November 2012, flying passengers from Dar es Salaam to Kilimanjaro and Mwanza in Tanzania on its A319 aircraft, which can carry up to 156 passengers. Since launch, Fastjet has expanded its Tanzanian network to fly from Dar es Salaam to Mbeya in Tanzania, and to Johannesburg in South Africa, Lusaka in Zambia, Harare in Zimbabwe and Entebbe in Uganda. The airline also recently announced flights between Kilimanjaro and Mwanza, and Kilimanjaro and Entebbe in Uganda. Fastjet is listed on the London Stock Exchange, and partners locally in each country it operates to establish businesses that are majority owned by citizens there. Fastjet Tanzania is majority-owned by Tanzanian citizens and employs more than 170 Tanzanians directly and many more indirectly. fastjet Tanzania has achieved over 90% on time punctuality since start up. Tickets are sold through a multi-channel distribution network. Passengers can book direct online or via a mobile device, through a 24/7 call center or by visiting a local Fastjet office. Fastjet also give passengers the option to pay for extras, such as pre-booked seats, pre-booked and additional luggage, check in extra freight up to 80kg, and SmartClass, a premium corporate fare allowing passengers to pre-book seats, an increased baggage allowance of 32kg and the ability to change flight dates as many times as required with no additional charges. The results of a customer survey conducted by fastjet in 2014 revealed that 35% of its passengers were first-time flyers. Seventeen percent of passengers flew more than 10 times in that year, while 19% flew between six and ten times. Ninety-seven percent of respondents said that they valued fastjet’s safety and reliability, with 96% valuing the easy online booking and payment system. Ninety-five percent said that they loved the airline’s competitive prices, with 94% saying that it offered good value for money. Overall, 95% of passengers said that they would fly with fastjet again. fastjet was also named the fifth cheapest low-cost carrier in the world by flight comparison site, WhichAirline.com in 2014. Fastjet prides itself as Africa’s low cost airline, air travel is generally expensive, just how low are your rates compared to what other airlines offer? There are more than one billion people on the African continent, which is home to just three percent of the world’s aviation business, and the continent remains in desperate need of improved and affordable aviation connectivity. Fastjet charges from as little as $20 for domestic flights, and from $50 for international flights. The cheapest fares can be booked on fastjet’s website, and the further in advance the flight is booked, the cheaper it is likely to be. We have adopted the same luggage model as other low-cost airlines worldwide, giving passengers the power to control how much they spend. Each item of checked luggage is charged for, including a freight option where passengers can travel with up to 80kg of freight luggage. This means that passengers who are traveling with little or no luggage are not subsidizing passengers who are traveling with a lot of luggage. Fastjet has made air travel accessible to people who could not afford to travel by air before – 35% of the airline’s passengers are flying for the first time. Air travel is safer and quicker than traveling by road, which was the primary means of transport for many people between the cities in our network before. The airline operates to international standards of safety and reliability. This means that passengers are now comfortable to book and pay for their flights in advance, because they are reassured that the flights will take off. Previously, passengers arrived at the airport on the day of intended departure, carrying cash, paying for flights only once they were sure that the flight would actually happen. We believe that competition is good for consumers, and it has always been our intent to expand the aviation market on the continent, rather than take customers away from other airlines. Competition expands the choices available to consumers, and it brings air fares down. How much of Africa does fastjet cover and are there plans to expand operations beyond Africa? [caption id="attachment_17887" align="alignright" width="300"]Fastjet route map Fastjet route map[/caption] The current fastjet schedule is flights from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, Mbeya and Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, as well as from Dar es Salaam to Johannesburg, Harare, Lusaka and Entebbe. It also flies between Kilimanjaro and Mwanza, and between Kilimanjaro and Entebbe. Fastjet continues to expand across the African continent with the airline announcing that its new operation – fastjet Zambia – has received an Air Service Permit (ASP) from the authorities in that country. fast jet Zambia received confirmation from the Zambian Civil Aviation Authority that it has successfully completed the critical ‘Phase 1’ of its application for an Air Operating Certificate (AOC). An AOC will allow Fastjet Zambia to source aircraft and pilots and bring low fares and reliable services to Zambian people on domestic routes between Lusaka, Ndola and Livingstone and on international routes to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi and Kenya. In March 2015, Fastjet announced that, as part of its plans to grow its footprint in Sub- Saharan Africa, it has received an ASP from the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development of the Government of Zimbabwe responsible for administering the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ). This is a significant step towards the airline obtaining an AOC and its plans to launch Fast jet Zimbabwe in due course. We are constantly engaging with governments and other stakeholders on the continent in order to expand the low-cost aviation model to other countries where the aviation sector is hobbled by monopolistic practices. It was recently announced that fastjet raised USD 75 million for expansion, may we know how this was done and how the planned expansion will done? The funds were raised by placing five million new ordinary shares at a price of one penny per share to new and existing institutional shareholders, other investors, and fastjet management. The funds raised will be used for expansion working capital for the launch and growth of operations in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Funds in excess of that will be used to commence an aircraft acquisition programme of used Airbus A319 aircraft. What are some of the challenges that the company has faced in the course of doing business in Africa? fastjet - Dar es Salaam to LusakaMany state-subsidized airlines maintain a monopoly control over routes on the continent, which means that fares remain expensive and beyond the reach of ordinary citizens. These airlines stay in business because they are subsidized by government, even though the continually make financial losses. High taxes add to the costs of air travel, as do fuel prices, which are higher in Africa than elsewhere in the world, also due to taxation. While fastjet have engaged very positively with many governments on the continent, it remains true that many are determined to protect existing airlines to the detriment of the aviation sector as a whole. How do you appraise the current state of airline business in Africa and what could be done at the level of governments to boast growth in the sector? Fastjet works closely with the governments of the countries to help stimulate local economies through job creation, tax collection and the simple solution of making it easier and quicker for citizens to do business. We stimulate competition that is intended to grow the number of people that can spend their money in the aviation sector, which in turn makes significant contributions to economies. We encourage governments on the continent to consider the advantages of liberalizing the aviation sector, as this can only be to the benefit of their people. Any last word and what should customers expect from fastjet in the years ahead? Fastjet continues to engage with governments on the continent to realize our vision of being a truly pan-African low-cost airline. We are working on expanding our network of flights from Dar es Salaam, as well as establishing local Fastjet businesses in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya and South Africa, over time.  ]]>

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Malawi takes key step to advance digital payments and drive inclusive growth
May 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Government, private sector, mobile operators and development organizations convene to establish a plan for the future

The Pafupi savings account is designed for low-income people in rural areas, especially women with no previous access to a bank account. Here, a client accesses her mobile savings account through an agent at her local market - Credit: Women's World Banking

The Pafupi savings account is designed for low-income people in rural areas, especially women with no previous access to a bank account. Here, a client accesses her mobile savings account through an agent at her local market – Credit: Women’s World Banking

Today, Malawi took a significant step towards creating a digital payment ecosystem in order to address poverty and drive inclusive growth. An event organized by the Government of Malawi with the United Nations Capital Development Fund’s (UNCDF) Better Than Cash Alliance  and Mobile Money for the Poor initiatives brought together digital payments players to accelerate the progress of digital finance in Malawi. The convening also marks the release of an in-depth analysis of the country’s readiness to transition from a nearly cash-only economy to one where digital payments are widely available through an ecosystem approach.

Honorable Goodall Gondwe, MP, Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development stated that the transition to digital payments is part of the Government’s commitment to achieving social and economic goals within the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy. “This is part of our mandate to realize balanced and sustainable economic growth and to reduce poverty,” said Gondwe. “We believe creating an economy where digital payments are widely available is the right path for us to embark on and we are doing so based on sound economic and fiscal policies.”

The research was conducted through a partnership between the Malawian Ministry of Finance, the Reserve Bank of Malawi, and the Better Than Cash Alliance, and is entitled The Opportunities for Malawi’s Transition Away from Cash (. The report detailed the current state of Malawian digital payments, providing an important baseline to track progress. The study also identified four potential opportunities for Malawi, including the Government advancing on digitizing its centralized payment system with support from banks, and merchants accelerating digital payment acceptance via mobile money and debit card at the point of sale.

“Malawi is moving forward to build a strong digital ecosystem that will respond to the needs of the people in the country,” said Mr. Tillman Bruett, Advisor and Programme Manager, Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P), a UNCDF initiative, undertaken in Malawi with the support of the US Agency for International Development. “We expect that as a result, Malawi will progress from 3.5 percent of total active adult population using digital financial services at the start of this year to 15 percent by 2019.” As part of the programme, UNCDF plans to provide technical and financial assistance to build capacity in public and private sector organizations to support the switch from cash to digital for the most promising payments streams identified in the research.

Making payments in cash can be expensive and inefficient for governments, companies and international organizations. Cash is also difficult to trace, and extremely vulnerable to theft and loss. Many people living in poverty only use cash, and this is a key barrier to broader financial inclusion because cash makes it costly to provide financial services.  According to UNCDF, in least developed countries such as Malawi mobile penetration is at 30 percent while access to a bank account is at 14 percent.  Mobile payments can therefore be one way to accelerate this shift.

Malawi’s approach can set an example for other countries in the early stages of transitioning to digital payments. “Digitization is an important development tool for many countries looking to reduce the cost of delivering payments, increase transparency and increase access to financial services for citizens,” said Dr. Ruth Goodwin-Groen, Managing Director, Better Than Cash Alliance. “By undertaking this research and by using it to plan its shift, Malawi has taken a bold step in increasing transparency and moving towards an economy where the Government, businesses and people can pay and get paid electronically.”

logo-4Transitioning from cash to digital payments is a complex process, however, and requires collaboration between the government and businesses, as well as building trust and increasing familiarity among citizens. That reality is why leading figures came together today to discuss the diagnostic data and develop a blueprint for the country’s digital payments future. Participants noted that by working collaboratively to address the barriers to transitioning payments from cash to digital, they would be able to accelerate the shift and ensure that it brings real benefits to citizens in the form of greater financial inclusion.

USAID/Malawi Mission Director Doug Arbuckle noted in his remarks that, “The U.S. Government is glad to join many other governments and international organizations in encouraging a transition away from cash to digital payments in Malawi.  This can be a long road, but the benefits are clear and overwhelming.”

Ms. Mia Seppo, United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative, who spoke at the event, noted, “The introduction of digitization is timely as Malawi is currently going through public service reforms that will ensure equitable access to financial and payment services in a manner that is transparent and efficient.” Malawi is a focus country of MM4P and member of the Better Than Cash Alliance.

The Better Than Cash Alliance  partners with governments, the development community and the private sector to empower people by shifting from cash to electronic payments. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Ford Foundation, MasterCard, Omidyar Network, USAID and Visa Inc. are funders and the U.N. Capital Development Fund serves as the secretariat.

The UNCDF is the UN’s capital investment agency for the world’s 48 least developed countries. The Mobile Money for the Poor (MM4P) is a global programme funded by UNCDF, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and The MasterCard Foundation. The programme provides support to branchless and mobile financial services in a select group of Least Developed Countries to demonstrate how the correct mix of financial, technical and policy support can build a robust branchless and mobile financial services ecosystem that reaches low income people in these countries.

About the Ministry of Finance Economic Planning and Development, Malawi

The Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning & Development has the mandate to formulate economic and fiscal policy and manage financial and material resources of the Government of Malawi in order to realise balanced and sustainable economic growth and to reduce poverty.

*APO

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Southern African leaders discuss industrialization strategy
April 30, 2015 | 0 Comments

By FARAI MUTSAKA* [caption id="attachment_17837" align="alignleft" width="300"]Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, right, hands over a ceremonial key to SADC Excecutive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax during the official opening of the Southern African Development Community(SADC) Heads of State and Government Extraordinary Summit on Industrialisation in Harare, Wednesday, April, 29, 2015. The summit was called by heads of state in an effort to craft a strategy for industrialisation in the region through value addition and beneficiation of abundant natural resources in Africa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi) Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, right, hands over a ceremonial key to SADC Excecutive Secretary Stergomena Lawrence Tax during the official opening of the Southern African Development Community(SADC) Heads of State and Government Extraordinary Summit on Industrialisation in Harare, Wednesday, April, 29, 2015. The summit was called by heads of state in an effort to craft a strategy for industrialisation in the region through value addition and beneficiation of abundant natural resources in Africa. (AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)[/caption] HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) — Southern African leaders met in the Zimbabwean capital Harare on Wednesday to discuss how to maximize profits from their countries’ natural resources.

Heads of state of the 15 countries that make up the Southern African Development Community came together, marking the official opening of the summit that began on Monday when cabinet ministers gathered.

In meetings before the summit, officials presented a strategy to achieve economic growth by exploiting mineral resources through industrialization.

“The potential benefits we stand to reap are immense,” said Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in a 15-minute opening speech.

About 70 percent of southern Africa’s population lives in poverty, Mugabe said. Most southern African countries are rich in minerals such as gold and diamonds, while Angola is the second largest oil producer in sub-Sahara Africa, behind Nigeria. The majority of these resources are exported in their raw form, Mugabe said.

Officially named the Regional Strategy and Roadmap for Industrialization, the plan to modernize southern Africa is meant encourage economic growth until 2063. Analysts say the plot is ambitious because of the wealth gaps and policy differences between countries.

South African President Jacob Zuma, whose country has the largest economy in the group, recently blamed the political and economic conditions in nearby nations for the influx of immigrants into his country.

The recent spate of attacks on foreigners in South Africa was not on the official agenda for discussion, but Mugabe did comment on efforts to return Zimbabwean immigrants during a press conference. He said the Zimbabwean government sent free buses to repatriate citizens during the attacks, but only about 800 chose to leave South Africa.

“We, the neighbors, must do what we can to prevent more people into South Africa and get those in South Africa to get back home,” he said, adding that industrialization would make southern African nations “equally attractive.” *Source AP/Yahoo]]>

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South African shops in Malawi shut in xenophobia boycott
April 26, 2015 | 0 Comments

The attacks were blamed on rivalry for jobs - and controversial remarks by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini The attacks were blamed on rivalry for jobs – and controversial remarks by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini[/caption]

South African-owned shops in Malawi have remained closed after calls for a boycott from activists angered at recent xenophobic attacks.

In the commercial capital Blantyre, armed police guarded several leading South African chain stores. Several hundred Malawians have been evacuated from South Africa after the recent wave of xenophobic violence. At least seven people have been killed and 5,000 left homeless since the attacks started last month. Consumer activist John Kapito, in the capital Lilongwe, said the aim of the boycott was “to send a symbolic message”. “South Africans cannot chase us from their countries and expect us to help them grow their economy by patronising their shops and goods,” he said. Outlets of the popular South African PEP, Shoprite and Game stores were closed in all major cities across the country, reports the BBC’s Raphael Tenthani from Blantyre. [caption id="attachment_17734" align="alignright" width="300"]South African shops in Blantyre were under heavy security South African shops in Blantyre were under heavy security[/caption] The Malawian government has faced criticism over its decision to use South African rather than Malawian bus companies to evacuate citizens following the recent violence, our correspondent says. But Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa defended the move: “Looking at the urgency of the situation it could have taken a lot of time for Malawian buses to reach South Africa. Besides, the South African buses were cheaper,” he said. Some 390 Malawians have already been repatriated from South Africa, with a further 500 expected to arrive later. *Source BBC]]>

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African nations close ranks against South Africa after week of horror xenophobic attacks, criticism gets very loud
April 18, 2015 | 0 Comments

633x356SOUTH Africa is facing a backlash from an increasing number of African nations after mobs repeatedly attacked foreigners and looted their stores, prompting its presidency to warn that the country’s interests could come under threat if the upheaval was not arrested. At least five people have died in clashes in the eastern port city of Durban, Johannesburg and other towns since last week, while more than 1,400 have fled their homes. In a sign of how deep-rooted the problem may be, a solidarity march against xenophobia in Durban on Thursday was interrupted by mobs insisting foreign nationals must leave. Some poor South Africans see Zimbabweans, Malawians, Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians and Pakistanis as competitors for jobs and business opportunities in a country with a 24% unemployment rate. One fifth of the population of 54 million survive on less than 335 rand ($28) a month. South Africa’s cabinet warned on Friday that companies operating in the rest of Africa may be targeted, just as Johannesburg-based Sasol Ltd. announced it’s repatriating South African employees working on projects in Mozambique for their own safety. The blowback also came from unexpected quarters: award winning South African kwaito group Big Nuz cancelled their show set for Friday in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe’s second city, saying they feared violence from locals. The violence is embarrassing for the ruling African National Congress, whose members sought refuge in countries on the continent before white-minority rule ended in 1994. The South African government on Friday met with ambassadors and diplomats from several African countries to reassure them of the safety of their nationals and keep relations onside. Sparked condemnation The violence of the past week has sparked condemnation from governments from Ghana to Malawi, protests in Nigeria and Zimbabwe and calls from major continental groups such as the African Union for South Africa to act decisively to stem the attacks. “If this was happening here in Zimbabwe, the calls for immediate action would be like a cacophony,” Information Minister Jonathan Moyo said in a phone interview from Harare on Thursday. South Africa has to act “to save the lives and livelihoods of their fellow African brothers and sisters from Zimbabwe and elsewhere on the continent. They must act immediately against any form of racism or xenophobia.” Malawi hired buses to repatriate its citizens caught up in the violence, “I would have wished the government of South Africa would have done more,” Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa said by phone from Blantyre, the capital, on Thursday. “We are concerned, we are disappointed. We want to take our people back home until the situation normalises.” The Economic Community of Western African States, a 16- nation regional group, said in a statement on Friday that it was regrettable that “the very people, whose nations sacrificed to help South Africans fight, repel and defeat apartheid, will today be considered aliens and hacked to death in such barbaric manners.” Patrick Gaspard, the US ambassador to South Africa, the United Nations and the African Union, a 53-nation continental grouping, also issued statements on Thursday condemning the attacks. “Whatever the challenges we may be facing, no circumstances justify attacks on people, whether foreigners or locals,” said Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the chairwoman of the AU Commission and a South African citizen. “It is unacceptable.” Formal complaint China made a formal complaint with South Africa’s government about attacks directed against its nationals, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday, citing Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei. [caption id="attachment_17614" align="alignright" width="300"]African Union heads of state in a past group photo. The bloc has condemned the attacks African Union heads of state in a past group photo. The bloc has condemned the attacks[/caption] The Malawi and Somali governments have set in motion plans to repatriate their nationals. The Zambian, Ugandan, Kenyan and Botswana governments also said they were closely monitoring the situation and would pull out their nationals if necessary, while Namibian ruling SWAPO party youth activists said they would organise a protest march in Windhoek. Reactions from African Union host Ethiopia, which was set to receive the bodies of three of its nationals killed in attacks in South Africa, have been among the most intense, as several Ethiopians sought to remind South Africa of the role the country played in its struggle against apartheid. Africa’s biggest economy Nigeria, which also has several of its nationals in South Africa and has had a number of diplomatic spats with Pretoria despite being a major trade partner, on Friday added its voice to the pushback. “The Federal Government… calls on the government of South Africa to live up to its responsibilities and take all necessary steps to stop the on-going xenophobic attacks and put in place policies and structures to prevent a reoccurrence,” the ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. This came after some Nigerian lawmakers on Thursday pushed for laws to frustrate South African businesses. A vote to sever diplomatic ties was however defeated. Repatriate nationals An estimated 20,000 Nigerians live in South Africa, and Abuja said it would repatriate its nationals if the situation deteriorated. So far nationals from Ghana, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania have been reported killed, although Tanzanian envoy Elibahati Ngoyai said there was no official confirmation his compatriots had died in xenophobic attacks. Jeff Radebe, a minister in the South African presidency, warned that the attacks would have far-reaching consequences for the nation’s economy and its relations with Africa and the rest of the world. “South African companies who are running successful businesses in the continent who help to contribute to our revenue and sustaining our economy may suffer the similar fate,” he told reporters in Pretoria, the capital. “South Africa is not a violent country and therefore a few individuals cannot be allowed to hold the whole country to ransom.” In an increasingly globalised world, South African businesses have cause to be concerned about a possible continental backlash. Many have branched north, with telecoms giant MTN, carrier South African Airways, retail giants Shoprite and Woolworths and pay TV giant Multichoice among the most visible. FDI flows MTN for example derives the bulk of its profits from Nigeria. The country’s banks and insurers such as Standard Bank, Absa, First Rand, Sanlam and Liberty Life are also highly active in countries to the north. “Here in Zimbabwe we support South African businesses, which sell goods and conduct trade. The South African people can’t have their cake and eat it,” Zimbabwe opposition MP Jessie Majome said on Wednesday, as he delivered a cross-partisan petition to the South African embassy in Harare. In 2012, South African invested in more new Foreign Direct Investments in Africa than any other country with its 75 projects—the most— valued at $1.4 billion making up 12% of total FDI into Africa. Only China, India, the US, UK and Canada invested more by value. Most investments by South African firms have been in services and consumer products, while resources also showed up on the radar. With close to 50,000 jobs created in these cross-border links, neither of the two parties can afford soured relations. *Source Mgafrica  ]]>

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Malawi to repatriate citizens in S.Africa after anti-migrant attacks
April 14, 2015 | 0 Comments

Members of the South African Police Service escort foreign nationals after a xenophobic attack in Durban on April 8, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rajesh Jantilal) Members of the South African Police Service escort foreign nationals after a xenophobic attack in Durban on April 8, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rajesh Jantilal)[/caption]

Johannesburg (AFP) – The Malawian government said Monday it would help repatriate its citizens from South Africa following an outbreak of xenophobic violence in the eastern port city of Durban that has left four people dead.

“The situation is really tense as about 360 Malawians are stranded in South Africa following xenophobic attacks there,” Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa told reporters.

He said the Malawians targeted had “lost everything”, including their passports.

The attacks on immigrant-owned shops and homes in Durban’s impoverished townships come three months after a similar spate of attacks on foreign-owned shops in Soweto, near Johannesburg.

In both cases, shops have been looted and foreign traders ordered to shut up shop.

Over 1,000 foreigners in Durban have fled their homes and are now living in temporary camps, under police guard.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane said the situation was “tense but under control”, with police deployed to patrol affected areas.

[caption id="attachment_17460" align="alignright" width="300"]Demonstrators take part in an anti-xenophobia march outside the City Hall of Durban on April 8, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rajesh Jantilal) Demonstrators take part in an anti-xenophobia march outside the City Hall of Durban on April 8, 2015 (AFP Photo/Rajesh Jantilal)[/caption]

He said four people had been killed since the beginning of the month, including an Ethiopian man whose shop was petrol-bombed by a mob Friday night.

Nearly 50 people have been arrested — 28 on Sunday night alone.

Nankhumwa said the Malawian embassy in Pretoria had started processing temporary travel documents for its nationals.

Hundreds of Malawians escaping poverty back home move to South Africa every year in search of work.

Violence against migrants from other African countries is common in South Africa, with impoverished locals accusing foreigners of taking their jobs and business.

The government has condemned the violence, with President Jacob Zuma sending a team of officials to assess the situation.

*Source AFP/Yahoo]]>

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Fastjet raises USD 75 million for expansion
April 5, 2015 | 0 Comments

indexFastjet, Africa’s low cost airline, is pleased to announce that, following the launch of a proposed placing yesterday, 1 April 2015, it has successfully placed 5,000,000,000 new ordinary shares (the Placing Shares) at a price of 1 pence per share (on a pre-consolidation basis) (the Placing Price) to new and existing institutional shareholders, other investors and fastjet management (the Placing). The Placing, raised gross proceeds of GBP 50 million (approximately USD 75 million) (the Placing Proceeds). Net proceeds from the Placing will be deployed in two key areas – expansion working capital and the launch and growth of operations in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. fastjet will use funds raised in excess of that needed for its working capital requirements to commence an aircraft acquisition programme of used Airbus A319 aircraft. Ed Winter, Chief Executive Officer of fastjet, said: “I am delighted with the success of our Placing and with the positive reaction of investors. While our low cost airline model is already well established and highly regarded in Tanzania, this fundraising is a transformative step towards achieving fastjet’s goal of building Africa’s most successful pan-continental low-cost airline. “We will now be able to significantly expand our fleet and customer base, grow our operations organically, add new international routes and expand the fastjet model in Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In doing so, we look forward to bringing our safe, reliable, low cost flights to up to 210 million potential customers, 20% of Africa’s population, and to creating a new market for aviation. “We have also announced a proposed share consolidation which we expect to be a positive development for investors, reducing share price volatility. To allow me to fully focus on the growth of the business, I am pleased to say that Clive Carver has taken over as interim non-executive Chairman.” The fastjet fleet is expected to grow using a mix of aircraft ownership models and by the end of 2018, it is anticipated that approximately one a third of the fleet will be leased, a third equity financed, and a further third debt financed. index.jpg1 fastjet believes that a range of benefits will accrue from bringing purchased aircraft into the fleet, specifically balance sheet enhancement, cash flow reduction and the deferral of maintenance deposits. fastjet will also use the proceeds of yesterday’s placing to expand its existing operations and expects to further increase the frequency of flights on all its current routes, linking domestic destinations with routes such as Mwanza to Kilimanjaro, and add more international destinations such as Nairobi, Lilongwe, Mombasa and Lubumbashi to the Tanzanian network. A further opportunity includes the operation of 5th freedom flights through Entebbe, where Air Uganda has ceased operations and left a void in air connectivity. Ed Winter added: “In the past two years, we have established very strong foundations in Africa and demonstrated we can manage our way through challenging regulatory restrictions, operate to a high standard of reliability and operational performance, build an award-winning and relevant brand, establish and grow effective distribution channels and trade profitably.”    ]]>

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WHO intensifies support to cholera outbreak in Malawi and Mozambique
March 4, 2015 | 0 Comments

Malawi President Visiting a Flood Camp Malawi President Visiting a Flood Camp[/caption] The WHO Regional Office for Africa is intensifying country support to prevent cholera from reaching internally displaced person (IDP) camps along the border of Malawi and Mozambique. Since January 2015, extensive flooding has caused 230 000 IDPs to live in opportune refugee camps and temporary shelters. As of 2 March 2015, 55 cases of cholera have been confirmed by the Malawian Ministry of Health, with two deaths. All of these cases have been identified outside IDP sites. Several cases have been linked to the Jambawe area in Mutarara district – a gold mine in Mozambique 10 km from the Malawian border, where many Malawians work. “The WHO offices in Malawi and Mozambique are facilitating cross-border meetings for the Ministries of Health in the two countries to agree on a common approach to prevent the outbreak from spreading further,” said Dr Eugene Nyarko, WHO Representative for Malawi. “Here in Malawi the WHO, UNICEF, Medicines Sans Frontier, Save the Children Fund and the Malawi Red Cross have mobilized and prepositioned cholera kits in all cholera prone districts. Health promotion and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) interventions are being intensified through the district health management teams and the relevant partners at district level to prevent the disease reaching the camps,” Dr Nyarko added. The first case of cholera in Mozambique was notified on 25th December 2014 in Nampula city and has now affected over 3782 people with 39 deaths in 11 districts of four provinces. The most affected district is Tete followed by Nampula and Moatize. Cholera can kill within hours if left untreated and thrives in areas of overcrowding, scarcity of safe water, poor sanitation and waste management, poor nutritional status as a result of food shortages, and poor access to health care services. People with low immunity such as malnourished children or people living with HIV are at a greater risk of death if infected. The mainstay of control measures to be implemented during emergencies should remain (i) implementing interventions to improve water and sanitation, (ii) providing appropriate treatment to people with cholera and (iii) mobilizing communities to prevent transmission. Primary prevention is possible by observing a few simple rules of good hygiene and safe water and food preparation. These rules include thorough washing of hands with safe water and soap, especially before food preparation and eating, thorough cooking of food, and consumption while hot (“boil it, peel it or leave it”), boiling or treatment of drinking water, and use of sanitary facilities. Safe water is water that has been boiled, treated with a chlorine product, or is bottled with an unbroken seal. Promoting early detection and timely treatments Up to 80% of cases can be successfully treated with oral rehydration salts, and early detection and effective case management reduces the case fatality rate to less than 1%. Antibiotic therapy is also recommended for severe cases. The use of oral cholera vaccine is also being considered to prevent the spread of the outbreak to the IDP camps. If implemented, vaccination should cover as many people as possible who are eligible to receive the vaccine, and should be conducted as quickly as possible. Oral cholera vaccines (OCVs) can provide immediate, short-term protection while improved access to safe water and sanitation are put into place. Two doses of OCV given two weeks apart are required for fully protective immunity. The WHO Regional Office for Africa has sent experts to Malawi and Mozambique to provide technical advice and support to implement comprehensive control strategies, including OCV. *APO/WHO]]>

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Malawi: ACB Issues Warrant of Arrest for Joyce Banda
December 12, 2014 | 0 Comments

By Happy Soko [caption id="attachment_14705" align="alignleft" width="290"]Photo: Marisol Grandon/DFID Former President of Malawi Joyce Banda. Photo: Marisol Grandon/DFID
Former President of Malawi Joyce Banda.[/caption] The Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) on Tuesday issued warrant of arrest for former Malawi president Joyce Banda. Reports reaching Malawi24 indicate that the warrant of arrest has been issued following evidence compiled from the Close Circuit Television (CCTV) footage of the meeting Joyce Banda had with that the government submitted to the graft bursting body Government’s submitted the footage to ACB barely a week after Cashgate Chief suspect, Oswald Lutepo implicated Banda on Zodiak Broadcasting Station (ZBS) in the Cashgate scandal, saying the former Head of State was the “main beneficiary” of the money he reportedly stole from Government, saying the former president played conduit to the cashgate scandal. In an interview with Zodiak Broadcasting Station on Friday, November 21, 2014, Lutepo, who is answering theft and money laundering charges related to the cashgate scandal, alleged he was working on instruction from the former President to defraud government.

“[Joyce Banda] used my account as a conduit. I have been to State House several times to deliver the money. If there are CCTVs at the state residences, they will prove me right,” said Lutepo. In an interview with Malawi24, ACB Public Relation officer, Egrita Ndala, could neither confirm nor deny the allegation that a warrant of arrest has been issued for Joyce Banda. “We are on strike and that if the warrant has been issued then I am yet to see it. It will need me to consult my bosses to give information but otherwise I cannot since we striking andmy friends might stone me if am giving information to the media as that will amount to working while we are on strike. I cannot comment any further” said Ndala. Currently the ACB has entered the third day of strike and has warned not to continue investigating on the cashgate cases if government does not give them the 70% pay rise. *Source allafrica/Malawi 24]]>

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Malawi app 'teaches UK pupils 18 months of maths in six weeks'
September 8, 2014 | 2 Comments

By Spencer Kelly*

_77400270_oneclass-biwi-2An app designed to help provide a better education for children in Malawi has proved an equally effective learning tool for pupils in the UK. In six weeks, children made the same progress in maths as expected after 12 to 18 months of teaching.

It will be an emotional time at my house, when my four-year-old son goes to “big school” for the first time. As well as wondering where the last four years have gone, and being petrified that he will miss us more than we miss him, there is that niggle about how he will take to schoolwork. How well will the teachers engage him and ensure he is not left behind? Although I always assumed technology would play a major role in his education, I certainly didn’t expect him to get a boost from a tool originally designed to provide Malawian children with a better future. But this is now a possibility, after pupils in Nottingham using a maths teaching app from the charity Onebillion advanced their learning at the same rapid rate as those in Africa, for whom it was originally designed. Education in Malawi is basic and overstretched. Classes of 90 are the norm, and in some instances as many as 300 pupils share just one teacher. The situation has become worse following a recent population boom that means nearly half the country’s population is below the age of 14. One-to-one teaching has become unthinkable, a luxury that the country’s schooling system has been unable to provide. This is precisely what inspired Andrew Ashe to co-found Onebillion, a charity which aims eventually to help educate all of Malawi’s children with its maths teaching app. “If you haven’t got access to basic education – if you’re not even numerate – you can’t do anything,” he tells me.

At Biwi Primary School in Lilongwe, Malawi’s capital city, a trial programme is taking place where the children are each given 30 minutes a day on a tablet running the app. It’s simple and fun, but rigorous too – demanding a score of 10 out of 10 on the exercises before one can progress.

Teacher Lioness Sulouma certainly appreciates the help. “It’s difficult to teach a big class,” she says. “We don’t have enough teaching materials. Pupils cannot understand, and they make a lot of noise.” _77372495_d3f6b646-9b33-42e1-9178-c63cbdfcf857This is in stark contrast to the room where pupils are using the tablets. They sit quietly, listening through headphones to the instructions in the local language, Chichewa, and tap away at the screens. So far, so philanthropic – teaching apps are not new, and neither are projects supplying tablets to Africa. But this app is unusual. It caught the attention of researchers at Nottingham University, who wanted to see just how effective it was at boosting learning. They submitted it to a randomised control trial, testing it against other teaching apps and against no app at all. The Onebillion app improved the children’s maths knowledge to a much greater extent than the alternative apps, and – no surprise here – produced considerably better results than the average Malawian class with a pupil-teacher ratio of 90-to-one.

And it didn’t stop there. It turns out the app works just as well in the UK, even with class sizes of no more than 30, where a teacher is – at least in theory – able to give more attention to each child.

In fact, six weeks’ use of the app was found to accelerate the maths learning of the children by between 12 and 18 months. I visited Dunkirk Primary School in Nottingham, where the University of Nottingham’s psychology professor Dr Nikki Pitchford conducted the trial, duplicating the one in Malawi. “What was so incredible was that in both countries we saw the same gain. One week of working on the iPads for 30 minutes a day [equalled] three months of formal education,” she told me. “We were amazed.” Keeping a four-year-old focused on anything for more than a few minutes is something I – and mainly my wife – battle with during most of our time at home. But Nikki’s theory as to why the app works so well across the digital divide makes a lot of sense to me – it involves big yellow on-screen ticks and musical fanfares. “The children get immediate feedback on getting a question right. That’s really rewarding. And if they don’t get it right, they can’t progress. They have to get 10 out of 10 to pass and move on to the next one.”

Picturing the near-Armageddon that occurs when my own son can’t master something within five seconds, I ask why the children aren’t discouraged or frustrated if the demand for full marks keeps them stuck on a problem.

[caption id="attachment_11816" align="alignleft" width="300"]The progress of pupils using the maths app was studied in both Malawi and the UK The progress of pupils using the maths app was studied in both Malawi and the UK[/caption]

“They tend not to do that, because the app’s very engaging. They like playing it,” she explains. “I’ve even had older children who passed all the certificates go back to the earlier games.”

An obvious next question has to be whether the app is in fact better than a teacher. Nikki insists that the tablet is just a way of supplementing teaching by engaging children in a different way.

Dunkirk Primary teacher Rachel Jurkiw agrees: “In today’s society, we have to teach children ICT because it’s so important in future careers. The earlier we teach them, the more successful they are later on in their ICT skills.”

And after 30 minutes, she told us, most of the children have had enough and want to go and play outside. Reassuring for anyone who, like me, would rather not have a child who prefers apps to apples.

As one of many parents who will go through the emotional wringer over the coming weeks, it’s easy to forget that during his life my son will have an education of which many children can only dream. Onebillion’s mission is to change that, and give those growing up in the poorest places a good educational grounding and a fighting chance. This particular app gives children the very basics in maths, without assuming any previous formal teaching. In the UK that puts it in the hands of four- and five-year-olds. In Malawi, that could apply to children of any age. And for once, it’s nice to see that something originally designed for the developing world may have hit upon a way of giving all children a better start. *Source BBC
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Malawi president rejects ministers' 600% pay-hike bid
September 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

Malawi President Peter Mutharika, pictured during the US Africa Leaders Summit on August 5, 2014 in Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski) Malawi President Peter Mutharika, pictured during the US Africa Leaders Summit on August 5, 2014 in Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)[/caption]

Blantyre (Malawi) (AFP) – Malawian President Peter Mutharika has shot down a proposal to hike cabinet ministers’ pay to almost triple his own salary, a spokesman said Tuesday, amid austerity measures following foreign aid flight.

The cabinet secretary asked for a six-fold increase of the 20 ministers’ salaries to $8,800 a month to cover the higher cost of living, according to presidential spokesman Frederick Ndala.

But Mutharika “finds it unethical to raise ministers’ salaries when the cost of living is not only high for them, but for every Malawian,” Ndala told AFP.

Mutharika, who came to power after beating Joyce Banda in May elections, will prioritise “the improvement of living standards of civil servants,” his spokesman said.

Besides roughly $1,500 in pay, ministers receive benefits such as $2,000 in monthly fuel subsidies.

In contrast, the southern African nation’s 170,000 public servants earn $100 a month on average.

Malawi is weathering an economic storm after donors, who contribute 40 percent to the state budget, last year withdrew aid worth $150 million over a massive government corruption scandal.

Officials looted $30 million in state funds in less than six months last year.

Ndala said Mutharika has appealed to the ministers to be “good leaders and lead by example and forego the salary review as the president has no intention of raising his salary any time soon.”

The president’s salary of $3,000 has been unchanged since 2009 when Mutharika’s brother Bingu wa Mutharika was in power. He died in office in 2012 following a sudden heart attack.

*Source AFP/Yahoo

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