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Commonwealth health ministers agree to share advice and solutions in coronavirus battle
May 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

Commonwealth health ministers have agreed to coordinate their response in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

Ministers endorsed removing fees for coronavirus tests and treatment, especially for migrants and refugees, as appropriate within national contexts, and creating a voluntary mechanism to share and distribute extra medical supplies including ventilators and testing kits.

They agreed on the need for solidarity and cooperation among Commonwealth countries and that close working with the World Health Organization throughout the crisis was vital.

This statement was released following the annual Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting held on 14 May.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “We are now participants at an inflection point in history, and how we will be seen will be determined by how we act, right now, in this moment.  

“The virus knows no nationality, race, religion, border or economic status. It is an interconnected issue threatening our global health and world economic order, and should be dealt with as such – guided by a culture of multilateral compassion and cooperation – not competition.

“At this critical moment, invigorated by our common pain and concern, Commonwealth countries have come together to provide the salve we need to deliver a coordinated multilateral response that will help thwart the pandemic and keep our citizens safe.”

Globally, around 4.7 million coronavirus cases have been reported. Half a million of these are in the Commonwealth. Seven member states are among 12 nations worldwide that have not reported any cases.

The fast-spreading virus has contracted economies, shattered income streams and forced millions of people to stay indoors.

Health ministers backed the need for unified action to recover from the economic turmoil accompanying the pandemic, while addressing critical health challenges and health systems’ vulnerability, particularly to recurring climate-related events.

The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said: “While coronavirus is an unprecedented shock to the world; through national unity and global solidarity, we can save both lives and livelihoods.

“Across the Commonwealth, countries will need to balance the demands of responding directly to coronavirus, while also maintaining essential health services.”

Ministers pledged to keep essential health services running for non-COVID-19 patients with a critical non-communicable or infectious disease while dealing with an influx of coronavirus cases.

They agreed to work with finance ministers to promote sustainable strategies to finance the implementation of universal health coverage with a focus on providing health care to women, the elderly, young people, marginalised persons and those with mental illness without facing financial difficulty.

The Gambia’s health minister Ahmadou Lamin Samateh chaired the meeting.

He said: “Not since the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the 2000s has health occupied such a central position in development policy.

“With an unprecedented pandemic, straining health systems and halting the global economy, the role of resilient health systems across the world has come into full focus.”

During the meeting, ministers presented effective national strategies to address the pandemic, which included a mass test, trace and isolate strategy, digital tools to monitor health status and track transmission routes and a clear communication line.

India is in line to chair the next Commonwealth Health Ministers Meeting in 2021.

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Africa50 donates US$800,000, joins African Countries to help fight COVID-19
May 5, 2020 | 0 Comments

We stand in complete solidarity with all African nations and all our stakeholders around the world during these uncertain times, says Mr. Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50
Given the likely long-term effects of the pandemic, Africa50’s COVID-19 Relief Support Initiative will have three phases

Announces a grant of US$300,000 to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) for the purchase of test kits and other medical equipment and to mobilize frontline responders; provides US$500,000 to fund other targeted infection control and prevention activities in several African countries.

Africa50 , the pan-African infrastructure investment platform, has announced its COVID-19 Relief Support Initiative, which aims to support the continent’s fight against the pandemic. Under this initiative, Africa50 is providing US$800,000 to help contain the spread of the virus and minimize its impact. Given the likely long-term effects of the pandemic, Africa50’s COVID-19 Relief Support Initiative will have three phases, as follows:

The first phase focuses on helping countries deal with immediate public health needs through in-kind and cash donations. It comprises a US$300,000 grant to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), which will be used specifically for the purchase of test kits and other medical equipment and to mobilize frontline responders, as highlighted in the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 led by the African Union, through Africa CDC.

In addition, Africa50 is donating US$500,000 to fund other targeted infection control and prevention activities in several African countries.
The second phase will focus on technology-enabled solutions that help address the unprecedented demand for digital health innovations, which was triggered by the pandemic. To that effect, Africa50 will support the deployment of digital solutions, as part of its Innovation Challenge, an initiative launched in 2019 to increase internet connectivity access in under-served areas in Africa.

The third phase will concentrate on medium to longer term solutions to support economic recovery and stabilization, including the implementation of major infrastructure projects.

On the occasion of this announcement, Mr. Alain Ebobissé, CEO of Africa50, said “We stand in complete solidarity with all African nations and all our stakeholders around the world during these uncertain times. Beyond the tragic loss of human lives, the pandemic is projected to result in a decline in Africa’s GDP growth between 3 and 8 percent.”

He underlined Africa’s vulnerability to this new, rapidly evolving environment and stressed the need for diligent, impactful responses and continental cooperation. “Governments, the private sector, development institutions, and civil society have acted quickly, both to limit the spread of the virus and to prop up economies. Africa50 will play its part.”, he said.

“If we work together, we can limit the damage of the pandemic. This crisis underlines once again the urgency of improving the continent’s infrastructure to ensure that people can enjoy productive, happy, and healthy lives. We must therefore also continue to develop our project pipeline and evaluate new ones, as we prepare to support the continent’s recovery”, he added.

Africa50 is an infrastructure investment platform that contributes to Africa’s growth by developing and investing in bankable projects, catalyzing public sector capital, and mobilizing private sector funding, with differentiated financial returns and impact. Africa50’s investor base is currently composed of 28 African countries, the African Development Bank, the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO), and Bank Al-Maghrib.

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International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation extends US$100m COVID-19 Emergency Financing for purchasing wheat and sugar in favor of Egypt
May 4, 2020 | 0 Comments
Hani Salem Sonbol, ITFC CEO
ITFC intervention to help finance essential strategic food commodities in light of the impact of COVID-19

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) (www.ITFC-IDB.org), has signed a US$100 million financing agreement with the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) to cover the Egyptian Government’s essential strategic commodity needs during the outbreak of the new coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Approval of the financing, which forms part of the ITFC’s Master Murabaha Agreement, enables Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities to mitigate the very worst human impacts of the coronavirus pandemic by securing food commodity imports.

From his side, H.E Dr. Ali Al-Mesilhi, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, affirmed that the Ministry of Supply represented by the General Authority for Supply Commodities appreciates and thanks the International Islamic Corporation for Trade Finance for the cooperation and continuous support, whether this year or previous years, that is demonstrated by the immediate response. Through this agreement, Egypt will meet the necessary and urgent needs in such exceptional circumstances that the Republic and the world as a whole are going through.

Commenting on the ITFC’s approval for the financing, Eng. Hani Salem Sonbol, ITFC CEO, said: “The financing that has been approved by the ITFC is specifically targeted at supporting the importation of critical basic commodities such as wheat and sugar, which are two staples that the mass population of Egypt depends upon. ITFC is absolutely committed to doing what it can to assist in achieving food security in Egypt during a time when national economies are struggling with the economic impact of this terrible new disease.” The amount will be used to purchase 240 thousand tonnes of wheat & 100 thousand tonnes of sugar.

The wheat policy is of strategic importance to the Egyptian Government to ensure food security for all Egyptians. Since 2018, ITFC has been supporting the Governments’ efforts through a trade finance facility benefiting the GASC, Egypt’s largest wheat purchaser. ITFC extended US$ 393 million which was utilized in 2019 for the import of 1.3 million tonnes of wheat and 130 thousand tonnes of rice.

The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) (www.ITFC-IDB.org) is a member of the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group. It was established with the primary objective of advancing trade among OIC Member Countries, which would ultimately contribute to the overarching goal of improving socioeconomic conditions of the people across the world.  Since 2008, ITFC has provided more than US$51 billion to OIC Member Countries, making it the leading provider of trade solutions for the Member Countries’ needs. With a mission to become a catalyst for trade development for OIC Member Countries and beyond, the Corporation helps entities in Member Countries gain better access to trade finance and provides them with the necessary trade-related capacity building tools, which would enable them to successfully compete in the global market.
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Zambia on track to energy surplus following major boost in electricity production
May 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

Zambia’s constant power cuts are now a thing of the past. Thanks to a robust hydraulic and solar power generation industry in recent years, the country is now self-sufficient in energy.  And, there is even better news for citizens of the South African nation- electricity production could soon be in surplus.

Zambia generates practically all its energy production from its own primary resources: biomass, coal and hydroelectricity, with flagship plants such as the power station near the Itezhi-Tezhi Dam, in the south-east of the country, taking centre stage.

The $375 million Itezhi-Tezhi hydroelectric generating station became operational in 2016. The plant has a 120-megawatt capacity and is the fruit of the first public-private partnership project in the Zambian energy sector. Its primary objective has been to produce enough power to end the crippling daily blackouts and meet consumer needs of the country’s 17 million inhabitants.

Zambia stopped electricity imports in early 2018

Itezhi-Tezhi power plant has already increased the country’s power generation capacity by 7.5% and supplied an extra 50,000 people with electricity. In the first quarter of 2018, and for the first time in its history, Zambia stopped importing electricity from neighbouring countries such as Mozambique.

As far back as September 2017, national operator Zesco’s head of power transmission, Webster Musonda, told Ecofin agency: “Zambia’s power generation capacity has improved and will now be able to largely meet its energy needs.” “Overall, we will be able to meet demand and routine energy imports will cease […] but we will continue to import energy to meet occasional peaks in demand.”

The next step for the Government of Zambia includes plans for an energy surplus over the next two years. To meet this goal, it is exploring renewable energy, such as solar power.

The country’s new hydropower stations at the Musonda, Lusawaki and Kafue Gorge dams are important developments and in September 2018 the government inaugurated a 50 MW power plant at a cost of $60 million. An even more ambitious programme is under way, involving the construction of mini solar plants with an eventual overall capacity of 600 MW at an estimated cost of $1.2 billion.

The African Development Bank which is championing its High 5 development priorities, such as the “Light up and power Africa, initiative under which this project falls, contributed $55 million to the Itezhi-Tezhi plant.  Additional funding has been provided by international donors including the Netherlands Development Finance Company, the Development Bank of South Africa and Proparco France.

The Bank’s portfolio in Zambia currently includes 23 ongoing projects, amounting to an investment of one billion dollars, in three main sectors: transport, water and sanitation and agriculture.

Cross-border collaboration

A strong partnership with Zimbabwe has been the key to Zambia’s success. The two southern African neighbours are working on a major energy project on the Zambezi River, which marks their common border. The 2750 km long river is the fourth-largest on the continent.

The project, which has a projected output of at least 2400 MW, is to be built upstream of the Kariba dam, close to the famous Victoria Falls, at a cost of $3 billion.

Electricity output will be shared equally between Zambia and Zimbabwe, with excess production sold on to other member countries of the Southern African Development Community (SACD), according to the project’s initiators.

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EU’s €15.6 billion COVID-19 Global Response Package: Africa to Get sum of €4.6 billion
April 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is bid farewell by Ethiopia’s President Sahle-Work Zewde after their meeting in Addis Ababa on December 7, 2019. – (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP) (Photo by EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images)

The Delegation of the European Union (EU) to the Republic of The Gambia has relayed a media release containing the European body’s global response to the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, outlining financial assistance for partners countries, including those of Africa.

According to the release, the EU is readying a package of €15.6 billion to assist partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic and mitigate the socioeconomic impact.
Below is the full release

The European Commission and the High Representative set out plans for a robust and targeted EU response to support partner countries’ efforts in tackling the coronavirus pandemic.

The EU’s collective action will focus on addressing the immediate health crisis and resulting humanitarian needs, strengthening partner countries’ health, water and sanitation systems and their research and preparedness capacities to deal with the pandemic, as well as mitigating the socioeconomic impact. To underpin these actions, the EU will secure financial support to partner countries amounting to more than €15.6 billion from existing external action resources. Together with our partners, we are making sure that the substantial EU funding already allocated to them is targeted to help them deal with the impact of coronavirus.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commented: “The virus knows no borders. This global challenge needs strong international cooperation. The European Union is working tirelessly to fight the pandemic. We all know that only together we can stop the worldwide spread of the coronavirus. To that end, the EU will soon convene a virtual pledging event to help mobilise the necessary funding and support the World Health Organisation to assist the most vulnerable countries.”

High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, added: “The coronavirus pandemic requires united, global action in response. The European Union and its Member States are playing their part in tackling this health crisis and its severe consequences – at home and abroad. While we are doing everything we can to provide support of our citizens, we also need to assist our partners in our direct neighbourhood and beyond to address the impact it will have on their livelihoods, stability and security, as their problems are our problems. This is a global fight that we will either win or lose together. Cooperation and joint efforts at the international level and multilateral solutions are the way forward, for a true global agenda for the future.”

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, explained: ”As long as the coronavirus threatens lives somewhere, we are not safe. This is the core of international cooperation and partnerships. We need to work together in order to tackle our shared challenges. Today the European Commission steps up and leads with this significant global response package of more than €15.6 billion the joint work with our partners, particularly in Africa, for a safer future for us all.”

Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner, Olivér Várhelyi, said: “As part of our global response to the coronavirus pandemic we are redirecting over €3.8 billion of foreseen funds for the Western Balkans and our immediate neighbours to the East and to the South, to where their real needs are today: for urgent response to the health crisis, to strengthen the health systems and to mitigate the socio-economic impact of the pandemic. We share a continent and we can only succeed together.”

Janez Lenarčič, Commissioner for Crisis Management, warned: “We are facing what could become the biggest humanitarian crisis in decades. The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on the most fragile countries, migrants and the most vulnerable people is likely to be dramatic. This is particularly the case in the confined and often insalubrious setting of refugee and internally displaced people camps. That is why we need to respond vigorously to the public health emergency, make sure humanitarian actors continue to have access to carry out their life-saving assistance and support transport and logistic for key humanitarian operations.”

Team Europe package
The EU’s response follows a ‘Team Europe’ approach, aimed at saving lives by providing quick and targeted support to our partners to face this pandemic. It combines resources from the EU, its Member States and financial institutions, in particular the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, to support partner countries and address their short-term needs, as well as the longer-term structural impacts on societies and the economy.

The first Team Europe packages are already being implemented in the immediate neighbourhood: the Western Balkans, in the East and to the South.

The EU, as global actor and major contributor to the international aid system, will promote a coordinated multilateral response, in partnership with the United Nations, International Financial Institutions, as well as the G7 and the G20.

The European Union will continue to adapt its response to the evolving situation and focus on the most affected countries in need of health support, such as countries in Africa, the Neighbourhood, the Western Balkans, the Middle East and North Africa, parts of Asia and the Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The EU’s response will focus on the most vulnerable people, including migrants, refugees, internally displaced persons and their host communities and integrate its strategic objectives set out in the Green Deal and the Digital Agenda.

From the overall package of €15.6 billion, €3.25 billion are channelled to Africa, including €1.19 billion for the Northern African neighbourhood countries.

The EU is securing in total €3.07 billion for the whole neighbourhood – €2.1 billion for the South and €962 million for the Eastern Partner countries – and €800 million for the Western Balkans and Turkey.

In addition, the overall package includes another €1.42 billion in guarantees for Africa and the neighbourhood from the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD).

The EU will support Asia and the Pacific with €1.22 billion, another €291 million will go for the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific region, €918 million to support our partners in Latin America and the Caribbean and €111 million to support Oversees Countries and Territories.

Delivering the EU global response package in practice
€502 million for Emergency response actions focused amongst others, on:

· Providing immediate support to the Response Plans of the World Health Organisation and the United Nations, as well as to the appeal of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement to boost emergency preparedness and response in countries with weaker health systems and those dealing with humanitarian crises;

·Providing immediate humanitarian support in affected countries, in particular in health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and logistics;

· Supporting increased production in Europe of personal protective equipment and medical devices to meet urgent needs in Europe and in partner countries;

·  Organising the supply of in-kind assistance to affected countries through the Union Civil Protection Mechanism;

· Providing guarantee and liquidity provisions to local banks via International Financial Institutions and European Development Finance Institutions, supported by the European Fund for Sustainable Development;

· Supporting global efforts to combat export restrictions and ensure supply chains remain intact, notably for essential medical supplies and pharmaceuticals;

· Associating the Western Balkans to EU initiatives such as the Joint Procurement Agreement for


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Merck foundation together with First Lady of Mozambique announce ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards
April 10, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with H.E. Dr. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, First Lady of Mozambique
Merck Foundation marks World Health Day together with Mozambique First Lady to raise awareness on Coronavirus

MAPUTO, Mozambique, April 9, 2020/ — Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany together with First Lady of Mozambique, H.E. Dr. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, announced the call for applications for their ‘Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards in Mozambique. The theme of the awards is ‘Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe and keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown’.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explains, “This is how we mark World Health Day. The ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Award will encourage media to sensitize our communities. Raising awareness about corona virus in our communities will contribute to supporting health workers who are at the forefront of COVID-19 response – providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, it will also enhance their great efforts in leading community dialogue to address fears and questions. Our hearts and thoughts are with them”.

“This unsettling period due to the coronavirus scare is difficult for everyone – both physically and mentally. While most countries are under complete lockdown or restricted movement, people do not know how to handle this situation. Social Distancing is our Social Responsibility and the only way to kill Coronavirus, however, it will take a lot of courage and discipline to practice it. Taking good care of your mental and physical health is important during this period. Therefore, we decided to initiate these awards in order to reward the journalists who are raising awareness in most effective and creative way on how to keep safe and keep physically & mentally healthy during this phase”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

The awards are open to all the journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from Mozambique and other Portuguese speaking countries along with English speaking, French speaking and Arabic speaking African countries. The most creative and influential media work aiming to raise awareness and sensitizing communities about this alarming topic at a regular basis will be eligible to win these awards.

Merck Foundation will extend the awards to include Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asian Countries in the next few days to involve all media across the global South. 

“Since most of the people are confined to their homes, they are spending a lot of time reading and listening to news through different platforms. Media professionals, it is your time to help the people to take care good care of their mental & physical health during these disturbing times, through your creative, informational and motivational work. You can guide them to adjust to their new and different routine & rhythm of life”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Details of the Merck Foundation “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards

Who can Apply:

Journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from Mozambique and other Portuguese speaking; English speaking; French speaking and Arabic speaking African countries

Last date of submission:

Entries can be submitted till 30th June 2020

How to apply?

Entries can be submitted via Email to info@merck-foundation.com
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Merck Foundation joins hands with First Ladies of Africa to raise awareness about Coronavirus and how to stay safe and healthy
April 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry; H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone; H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi; H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia; H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi; H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic; H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana; H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Republic of Liberia; H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville; H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia; H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGW, The First Lady of Zimbabwe; H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana; H.E. DR. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique and Former First Lady of Mauritania
Merck Foundation announces special awards during Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown and movement restriction, “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards for African Countries to encourage media to be creative and effective in raising awareness and sensitizing Communities on how to stay safe and keep physically and mentally healthy during Coronavirus lockdown

ACCRA, Ghana, April 6, 2020/ — Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany together with African First Ladies of Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Burundi, Central African Republic (C.A.R.), Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, The Gambia, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville, announced the call for applications for their ‘Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards for African countries. The theme of the awards is ‘Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe and keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown’.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explains, “This unsettling period due to the coronavirus scare is difficult for everyone – both physically and mentally. While most countries are under complete lockdown or restricted movement, people do not know how to handle this situation. Social Distancing is our Social Responsibility and the only way to kill Coronavirus, however, it will take a lot of courage and discipline to practice it. Taking good care of your mental and physical health is important during this period. So, we decided to initiate these awards in order to reward the journalists who are raising awareness in most effective and creative way on how to keep safe and keep physically & mentally healthy during this phase”.

All the journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from English speaking, French speaking, Arabic speaking and Portuguese speaking African countries are invited to send their entries for the awards. The most creative and influential media work aiming to raise awareness and sensitizing communities about this alarming topic at a regular basis will be eligible to win these awards.

“We have created four categories for Africa; English, French, Portuguese and Arabic speaking countries”, Dr Kelej added.

Merck Foundation will extend the awards to include Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asian Countries in the next few days to involve all media across the global South. 

“Since most of the people are confined to their homes, they are spending a lot of time reading and listening to news through different platforms. Media professionals, it is your time to help the people to take care good care of their mental & physical health during these disturbing times, through your creative, informational and motivational work. You can guide them to adjust to their new and different routine & rhythm of life”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Details of the Merck Foundation “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards

Who can Apply:

Journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from English speaking, French speaking, Arabic speaking and Portuguese speaking African countries

Last date of submission:

Entries can be submitted till 30th June 2020

How to apply?

Entries can be submitted via Email to info@merck-foundation.com along with your details (including Name, Gender, Country, Media house, Email address & Mobile Number) and entry as an attachment

Categories and Prize Money:
Category
TV USD 500
Radio USD 500
Print USD 500
Online USD 500
Prize Money USD 500

*Merck Foundation


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African Development Bank approves $1.5 million emergency grant to curb desert locusts ravaging East and Horn of Africa
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
2020-02-14 Kiaruni/Kenya Swarm of 40-50 million adult desert locust hits millet fields in dmall Kenyan village – By Nicole Macheroux-Denault
The proposed assistance will be channeled to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD)

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, April 2, 2020/ — The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (www.AfDB.org) on Wednesday approved a $1.5 million emergency relief grant to assist nine countries in the East and Horn of Africa on the control of swarms of desert locusts that are threatening livelihoods and food security.

The proposed assistance will be channeled to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which has been mandated to mobilize resources on behalf of the African Union.

IGAD is collaborating with the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which is leading coordination of development partner support to provide desert locust invasion control, safeguard of livelihoods and to promote early recovery of affected households in the in the East and Horn of Africa. FAO will act as the Executing Agency for the grant.

The funds will be used to control the spread of the current locust invasion, prevent potential next-generation swarms and to conduct impact assessment and monitoring to enhance preparedness and awareness. A portion of the funds would also be allocated to administrative costs.

The nine beneficiary countries are Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania.

Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia have been particularly hard hit by the outbreak and widespread breeding of locusts that is expected to create new swarms in the coming weeks. The infestation poses an unprecedented risk to livelihoods and food security in an already fragile region and has caused huge damage to agricultural production.

In Ethiopia and Somalia, the outbreak is the worst in 25 years, and in Kenya, in 70 years.

In Ethiopia, the locusts have devastated more than 30,000 hectares of crops, including coffee and tea that account for about 30% of the nation’s exports. Despite government’s interventions, swarms and breeding have been reported in large parts of the country. In Djibouti, over 80% of 1,700 agro-pastoral farms located in 23 production zones are affected by desert locust infestations.

At least 18 of 47 Kenyan counties are affected with more than 70,000 hectares of crops under infestation according to recent FAO reports. Locust swarms are devastating pastureland, maize, cowpeas, beans and other crops despite the government’s efforts to curb the outbreak.

Locust swarms are reportedly also threatening Uganda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Sudan and Eritrea.

Efforts to control the infestations will require around $147 million, of which $75 million has been provided by governments, donors and UN agencies including FAO and the World Food Program (WFP). However, a significant funding shortfall remains.

*AFDB
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World Bank Approves $10 Million Grant to Gambia to Fight COVID-19
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

The World Bank has announced Tuesday its approval of $10 million to support The Gambia’s COVID-19 response.

The grant is approved from the International Development Association (IDA) for the country to provide emergency assistance in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

“The COVID-19 Response and Preparedness Project will enhance case detection, tracing, and reporting, as well as provide equipment to isolation and treatment centers, and improve disease surveillance and diagnostic capacity,” the statement from Washington stated.

It will also focus on risk communications and community engagement for increased awareness and compliance with prevention and social distancing measures.

“This rapid response operation draws from the World Bank Group’s $14 billion package of fast-track financing to help countries in their efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the spread of COVID-19,” said Ms. Elene Imnadze, Resident Representative for The Gambia.

“It provides the financing needed to strengthen coordination with partners and implement the Government’s National COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan.”

The World Bank Group is rolling out a $14 billion fast-track package to strengthen the COVID-19 response in developing countries and shorten the time to recovery.

The immediate response includes financing, policy advice and technical assistance to help countries cope with the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.

The statement indicated that the IFC is providing $8 billion in financing to help private companies affected by the pandemic and preserve jobs. IBRD and IDA are making an initial $6 billion available for the health-response.

“As countries need broader support, the World Bank Group will deploy up to $160 billion over 15 months to protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.”

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Development bank for Central African States disburse 90 Billion FCFA to circumvent economic impact of Coronavirus
April 2, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

CEMAC Leaders at a 2019 Summit in Yaounde ,Cameroon.Photo credit PRC.

The Development Bank of Central African States, BDEAC is finalizing plans to doll out cira 90 billion francs CFA to governments of the six member states of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC, to enable them cushion the negative economic impact caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

This was the major decision reached when Finance Ministers of CEMAC met in Brazzaville, the Congolese capital on March 29, to ponder on the economic slum looming within the sub region, nay the world, because of the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus outbreak worldwide.

During what they categorized as an extraordinary meeting, Finance Ministers from Cameroon, Chad Republic, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Central African Republic and Congo Brazzaville took much time in analyzing the impact of this pandemic on the economic fabric of their nations and the sub region in general.

They noted that with the drastic fall in price of a barrel of oil and the drop in trade deals across the sub region, Africa and the world, there was a need for such a subsidy to enable CEMAC member states face the crisis situation.

In a press release issued by the Permanent Secretary of the CEMAC Economic and Financial Reform Programme, PREFCEMAC, the Bank of Central African States, BEAC will make this money available to the sub region’s development bank. PREFCEMAC specified that the money will be channeled to finance public projects relating to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and the strengthening of health systems within member states.

Before this decision emanated from the extraordinary meeting of CEMAC Finance Ministers, the sub regional development bank had already dished out 500 million francs CFA to each member state to enable governments take precautionary measures as the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic was announced.

Development and Central Bank officials also announced that BEAC will double the weekly credits it normally gives to credit banks. This will rise from 250 billion francs CFA to 500 billion francs per week.

This is also in line with the statutes of the monetary policy committee which met a few days before the Finance Ministers’ met and deliberated by videoconference.

The sub region’s monetary officials also assured that all interest rates normally attributed to calls for tender will be lowered by 25 basis points, as well as the revised marginal loan facility rate by 100 points.

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Three Things the G20 must do to support Africa in COVID-19 Pandemic
March 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
The G20 Summit 2019 in Osaka, Japan .Photo Reuters
The G20 Summit 2019 in Osaka, Japan .Photo Reuters

Addis Ababa, 26 March 2020 (ECA) – This is a global crisis affecting the whole world. Africa, however, will be hit harder with a heavy and durable economic toll, which will threaten progress and prospects, widen inequalities between and within countries, and worsen current fragilities.

African countries need support in preparing for the health crisis, and for the economic fallout. The measures being taken in Asia, Europe and North America such as physical (social) distancing and regular hand washing will be a particular challenge for countries with limited internet connectivity, dense populations, unequal access to water and limited social safety nets.

In line with the steps being taken across the globe, African countries are preparing for the worst effects of this pandemic.

Here are the three things the G20 must do:

1. Support for an immediate health and human response

a. G20 leaders should support and encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies, as well as support for the upgrade of health infrastructure and provide direct support to existing facilities. This will enable countries to focus on prevention as much as possible and start building curative facilities. Support should be provided to WHO and CDC Africa with funds channelled through the Global Fund, GAVI and others.

b. G20 leaders should support public health campaigns and access to information including through an expedited private sector partnership for internet connectivityto enable economic activity to continue during social distancing measures and to support the effective sharing of information about the pandemic.

2. Deliver an immediate emergency economic stimulus to African governments in their efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic

a. G20 leaders should announce a US$100 billion (in addition to the $50bn already committed) to fund the immediate health response, social safety nets for the most vulnerable, feeding for out of school children, and to protect jobs. As a proportion of GDP this is consistent with measures taken in other regions. To ensure immediate fiscal space and liquidity, this package should include a waiver of all interest payments, estimated at US$44 billion for 2020.

b. G20 leaders should support a waiver on principal and interest for African Fragile States such as the Sahel, Central African Republic and others who are already struggling with the burden of debt and have limited fiscal space.

c. G20 leaders should endorse for enhanced predictability, transparency and accountability of financial flows so finance ministers can plan effectively and civil society stakeholders can help track flows to ensure reach those most in need.

3. Implement emergency measures to protect 30 million jobs immediately at risk across the continent, particularly in the tourism and airline sectors.

a. G20 leaders should take measures to support agricultural imports and exports, the pharmaceutical sector and the banking sector. An extended credit facility, refinancing schemes and guarantee facilities should be used to waive, restructure and provide additional liquidity in 2020.

b. G20 leaders should support a liquidity line available to the private sector operating in Africa to ensure essential purchases can continue and all SMEs dependent on trade can continue to function.

c. G20 leaders should ensure that national and regional stimulus packages covering private and financial systems include measures to support African businesses through allowing for the suspension of leasing, debt and other repayments to global businesses

*Economic assessments of the impact of COVID-19  presented to the African Ministers of Finance can be found here: uneca.org/vc-covid19-impact-africa

*Source ECA

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Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations donate COVID-19 Medical Equipment to African Union Member States
March 23, 2020 | 0 Comments
Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Government of Ethiopia received a consignment of medical equipment

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, March 23, 2020/ — Africa’s response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak received a boost today as the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the Government of Ethiopia received a consignment of medical equipment from the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations.

The shipment included over 1.5 million laboratory diagnostic test kits and over 100 tons of infection prevention and control commodities.

This relief initiative was launched by the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Dr Abiy Ahmed, the Jack Ma Foundation, and Alibaba Foundation as part of actions towards implementation of the Africa joint continental strategy for COVID-19 led by the African Union through Africa CDC.

“On behalf of the Chairperson of the African Union, His Excellency, Cyril Ramaphosa, we thank the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations for this generous hospitality and contribution to the continent. We thank His Excellency the Prime Minister, and the Government of Ethiopia, for facilitating the donation,” said H.E. Mr Edward Xolisa Makaya, South Africa’s Permanent Representative to Ethiopia and the African Union. 

“This is a great honour and initiative and a great sign of solidarity that the world needs at this critical time. The test kits and other materials will support African countries in their fight against this outbreak. We are facing a humanitarian situation, an economic situation and a security situation in the continent and Africa CDC clearly applauds the initiative of the prime minister and the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundations,” said Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC. 

The COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread rapidly across the continents of the world claiming thousands of lives and huge resources. In just about three months it has caused over 12,000 deaths worldwide and impacted socioeconomic activities, particularly tourism and transport. 

Ethiopian Airlines will help distribute the equipment, consisting 20,000 laboratory diagnostic test kits, 100,000 medical masks, and 1000 protective suits and face shields, to each of the Member States as part of their contribution to the fight against COVID-19 in Africa. 

“We appeal to our ministries of health to ensure that these materials are distributed and used where they are mostly needed,” said H.E. Ambassador Mohamed Idriss Farah, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Djibouti, Dean of African Diplomatic Corps, and Chair of the African Union Peace and Security Council.
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