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Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir sets big Cabinet reshuffle
May 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
FILE - In this Jan. 6, 2014 file photo, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks after meeting with South Sudan's President Salva Kiir, in the capital Juba, South Sudan. (AP Photo/Ali Ngethi, File)

FILE – In this Jan. 6, 2014 file photo, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir speaks after meeting with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir, in the capital Juba, South Sudan. (AP Photo/Ali Ngethi, File)

CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir has ordered a major Cabinet reshuffle, including seven ministers of state and eight regional governors.

In filling the most important posts, Bashir named Ibrahim Mahmoud Hamid as interior minister, Al-Dirdiri Mohamed Ahmed as foreign minister and Mohamed Ahmed Salim as justice minister.

 The changes were announced in a report published on the state news agency SUNA late Monday.

In April, Bashir fired former Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour a day after he spoke in parliament and complained how diplomats have received no salaries the previous seven months.

Sudan is facing a currency crisis and hyperinflation that has stoked discontent, although public protests are effectively banned and regularly quashed by security forces.

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Nigeria is leading on pan-African free trade despite not even signing up to the deal, bank chief says
May 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
  • Nigeria is in a position of leadership on a pan-African trade deal despite not signing up, the managing director of Ecobank Nigeria told CNBC.
  • The African Union is proposing a continent-wide trading bloc that would result in the largest free trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.
    • Kenya and Ghana ratified the agreement last week, while Ethiopia’s Prime Minister has said that his country is ready to follow suit.

    By  *


    The Egina floating production storage and offloading vessel, the largest of its kind in Nigeria, is berthed in Lagos harbor on February 23, 2017.Stefan Heunis | AFP | Getty Images

    The Egina floating production storage and offloading vessel, the largest of its kind in Nigeria, is berthed in Lagos harbor on February 23, 2017.
    Stefan Heunis | AFP | Getty Images

    Nigeria is in a position of leadership on a proposed Africa-wide trading bloc despite not having signed up to the agreement, the managing director of commercial lender Ecobank Nigeria told CNBC.

    Nigeria has “shifted the balance of power,” and “put itself in the situation where they now have the call,” Charles Kie said in an interview Friday.

    In March, 44 members of the 55-nation African Union signed up to the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), an agreement which proposes a common market across the African continent. The new bloc would result in the largest free trade area in terms of participating countries since the formation of the World Trade Organization.

    But Nigeria and South Africa, the region’s two largest economies, did not get on board, citing concerns over safeguarding jobs and cheap Chinese goods flooding the market.

    The summit took place in the Rwandan capital of Kigali. Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame is also chair of the African Union for 2018. Meanwhile, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari did not attend the event.

     “When you are the largest economy on the continent, and it’s a tiny, small country like Rwanda who is leading the conversation on the CFTA, there’s a very simple question that you ask yourself: ‘Where is your leadership?'” Kie said.

    By initially turning down the deal, Nigeria has the “leverage” to “get some of the conditions that they think are critical for the economy to now be put on the table,” Kie explained. “They (won’t) just absorb the impact of the decision that was taken, but they’re also part of the solutions that are going to come.”

    “I’m just making a pure and basic analysis of the powers in presence, and I’m looking at what it entails,” he said. “All of this is political, it’s the heads of state that sign these agreements.”

    Kie was confident that Nigeria would eventually subscribe to the deal.

     “I don’t have any doubt that Nigeria will join” the free trade agreement in its own time, he said. “Nobody will doubt the interests of this for the continent.”

    Kenya and Ghana, both African economies boasting strong fundamentals, ratified the agreement last week. Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who leads the east African powerhouse economy which has seen double-digit GDP (gross domestic product) growth as recently as 2017, said on Monday that his country is ready to follow suit.

    Intra-African trade currently comprises less than 20 percent of the continent’s total, with countries often focussed on exporting commodities to former colonial powers instead. It is hoped that the new free trade deal will shift emphasis away from this and towards manufacturing.

    The African Union posits the agreement as uniting a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of $2.5 trillion.

    “We have to make sure that the rules of engagement when it comes to the free trade area are clearly defined,” both in terms of protecting national economies and establishing their manufacturing capacities, Kie said. “It’s not going to come overnight.”

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The developing world is an easy target for populists – Kofi Annan
May 15, 2018 | 0 Comments
Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan

Kofi Annan was secretary-general of the United Nations from 1997 to 2006 and is a co-recipient with the U.N. of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize. He sat down with The WorldPost editor-in-chief Nathan Gardels for an interview, which has been condensed and edited for clarity. This interview originally appeared in the Washington Post on 10 May 2018.

There has been much debate about democratic dysfunction in the advanced world due to paralyzing polarization exacerbated by fake news and social media manipulation. Isn’t this also an issue in the fledgling democracies of the developing world, from Malaysia to Kenya, Nigeria and elsewhere?

Kofi Annan: Yes. Inequality and the aftermath of the financial crisis, in which many have been left behind, is driving polarization in other parts of the world, including the countries you mention, just as it is in the West.

In both advanced and developing nations, we are threatened by forces exploiting fears and misgivings for political gain, and they are driving communities apart. As long as inequality and other social problems plague us, populists will try to exploit them. A report my foundation just released on Southeast Asia identifies populism, illicit electoral financing and the politics of identity as the biggest threats to democracy locally and regionally. Social media certainly acts as a catalyst and booster for such polarization, but it is often just as present in traditional media.

WorldPost: If even long-standing Western democracies are struggling with their own legitimacy and the appeal of demagogues or authoritarian leaders, aren’t the challenges all the greater in the developing world?

Annan: Developing and newer democracies are much more susceptible to the tactics of populists and demagogues — they often do not have strong institutions, free press or the infrastructure required to defend their nascent democracies.

That is why we need to safeguard the institutions that have been built to prevent blatant twisting of truths that erode trust in our elections and ultimately in democracy itself. My primary focus these days is promoting the legitimacy of democracy by ensuring the integrity of elections, whether from traditional threats, such as too much money in politics, or newer threats arising with the digital age.

If citizens do not believe they can change their leaders through the ballot box, they will find other ways, even at the risk of destabilizing their countries.

WorldPost: You visited Silicon Valley last week to look at how to curb the negative impact of social media on democracy. What was your takeaway?

Annan: No single solution or actor can deal with the complex and interrelated challenges to electoral integrity arising from manipulated data, hate speech and fake news.

These phenomena are not new; they have been part of electoral cycles since the advent of democracy. However, the unique manner in which social media and other technologies are being used to amplify the impact of these tactics in electoral cycles across the globe is a real concern. The speed, reach and volume that social media gives to fake news, disinformation and hate speech erodes trust in institutions and even in the electoral process itself.

It was also clear to me that these developments are challenging the fundamental social contract between voters and those who govern them. We require new mechanisms and frameworks — partly regulatory, partly based on new technologies and partly educational — to restore trust in electoral processes and elected leaders. That trust can only be built if political figures, tech leaders and citizens themselves work together to design these frameworks.

To give just one example, when I spoke before an audience at Facebook, I suggested they should organize a sort of a rapid response team to be called into a situation when it is clear that bots, trolls or fake news are evident. The team could alert electoral commissions or other authorities to offer advice on how to stop the problem before it gets out of control.

The challenge for all of us is to harness the opportunities of the digital age while mitigating the risks. I am encouraged by the people I met in Silicon Valley who were supportive of the idea of creating a commission supporting electoral integrity in the digital age. My foundation will soon launch such a global commission to address these urgent issues in all democracies.

*Source: Kofi Annan Foundation

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Exclusive: Nigeria’s Abubakar to Privatize Parts of State Oil Firm if Elected
May 13, 2018 | 0 Comments


FILE PHOTO: Presidential aspirant and Nigeria's former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar speaks as he presents his manifesto at All Progressives Congress (APC) party convention in Lagos early December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Akintunde AkinleyeREUTERS

FILE PHOTO: Presidential aspirant and Nigeria’s former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar speaks as he presents his manifesto at All Progressives Congress (APC) party convention in Lagos early December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Akintunde AkinleyeREUTERS

ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigeria’s former vice president Atiku Abubakar will privatize parts of the country’s state oil company and allow the naira currency to float to attract foreign investment if elected as head of state, he told Reuters.

Abubakar also confirmed that he intends to run in next year’s presidential election, becoming the biggest opposition heavyweight to say he will take on Muhammadu Buhari.

The winner of February’s poll will lead Africa’s top oil producer and most populous nation, which is central to regional stability as it battles Islamist militants in the northeast.

Abubakar, a former key ally of President Buhari whose resources helped propel him to power, quit the ruling party in November and re-joined the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) a month later.

He has long enjoyed support from the business elite in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos for his conservative-capitalist ideals and, as vice president in a PDP administration from 1999-2007, he implemented a program of liberalization in areas including telecoms sector.


Abubakar said he would go further if elected president.

“I am also going to expand it to include the oil and gas sector which have not been touched at all and other major sectors of the economy like mining, solid minerals,” he said.

Abubakar said he would privatize parts of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which has been beset by decades of mismanagement and is crucial to the OPEC member’s economic fortunes. He did not specify the parts that would be privatized.

“I am a strong believer in very, very small government and also the private sector,” he said.

A drop in crude oil prices from late 2014 pushed Nigeria into its first recession in 25 years in 2016, spawning chronic dollar shortages because oil receipts make up two-thirds of government revenue and most of the country’s foreign exchange.

The economy moved out of recession last year but growth remains weak and multiple exchange rates remain in place, imposed by the central bank to support Buhari’s insistence that the naira should not be allowed to float.

“I will allow the naira to float because I believe that is one of the ways foreign direct investment can be encouraged to come in,” said Abubakar, who hopes to replicate Buhari’s 2015 feat of winning a presidential election at the fourth attempt.


Buhari, who took office in 2015, and whoever becomes president next will face challenges ranging from weak economic growth to communal violence between semi-nomadic herdsmen and farmers, as well as the Boko Haram insurgency.

Abubakar – who, like Buhari, is a Muslim from the north – said voters would welcome someone who could revive their fortunes, adding that of his three previous presidential campaigns he was only once rejected by the electorate. He was not selected as a party candidate on the other two occasions.

Parties must select their candidate by Oct. 7. The next president should be a northerner, under an unofficial power-sharing agreement under which the presidency alternates between the north and south after every two four-year terms.

Bismarck Rewane, chief executive of Lagos-based consultancy Financial Derivatives, said the former vice president’s familiarity and age could be a disadvantage.

“To upset the Buhari candidature, you need something different: someone young, energetic and charismatic. You need something distinct from the current leadership,” he said.

Abubakar lacked Buhari’s popularity in northern states and at 71, just four years younger than the president, would struggle to generate “inter-generational appeal”, Rewane said.

The UN estimates that the median age in Nigeria is 18.

 *Culled from U.S News
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World including many African countries not on track to meet SDG 7 on sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030
May 12, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Lisbon, Portugal-One of the major highlights of the Sustainable Energy for All forum held in Lisbon, Portugal on 2 to 3 May, 2018 has been the launch of the Tracking SDG7 energy progress report where experts and panelists presented the findings from the SDG7 Tracking Report, including an update on global progress and challenges on energy access, energy efficiency and renewable energy.

The development of the energy progress report was through collaboration between five SDG7 custodian agencies, specially constituted in a steering group comprising the International Energy Agency, World Bank, International Renewable Energy Agency, World Health Organisation and the United Nations Statistics Division.

The steering group was also supported by an advisory group composed of many global organisations keen to deliver on sustainable development issues. A candid outcome of the report presented to at least 1000 delegates from  across the world, including developing countries especially from Africa  reveals that the world is not currently on track to meet Sustainable  Development Goal 7 which calls for ensuring access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all by 2030.

Stakeholders and development partners working to improve on sustainable development issues have been urged to redouble their efforts in order to meet the intended targets.

The report notes that current progress falls short on all four of the  SDG7 targets which encompass universal access to electricity as well as clean fuels and technologies for cooking.

A call for the doubling of the rate of improvement of energy efficiency plus a substantial increase in the share of renewables in the global energy mix has been made at the highly successful summit. On a rather positive note which raises hope for concerned stakeholders, the report notes real gains which have been made in certain areas such as expansion of access to electricity in poorer countries.

It says that expansion of access to electricity in poorer countries has recently begun to accelerate with progress overtaking population growth for the first time in sub Saharan Africa.

Other positives include energy efficiency which is reported to be continuing to improve driven by advances in the industrial sector.

Renewable energy is said to be making impressive gains in the electricity sector although it is added that these are not being matched in transportation and heating, which together account for 80% of global energy  consumption.

According to the report, lagging furthest behind is access to clean cooking fuels and technologies, an area which is said to have been  typically overlooked by policymakers.

It adds that use of traditional cooking fuels and technologies among a large proportion of the world population has serious and widespread negative health, environmental, climate and social impacts.

The report concludes by saying that more encouraging than global trends are the strong performances evident within specific countries, across both the developed and developing worlds.

It says that these national experiences provide valuable lessons for other countries.

It is concluded that evidence is mounting that with holistic approaches, targeted policies and international support, substantial gains can be made in clean energy and energy access that will improve the lives of millions of people.

The energy progress report provides a global dashboard on progress towards SDG7. The report tracks global, regional and country progress on the four targets of SDG7>energy access (electricity, clean fuels and technologies for cooking), renewable energy and energy efficiency, based on statistical indicators endorsed by the UN.

The report updates progress with the latest available data up to 2016 for energy access and 2015 for clean energy against a baseline year of 2010. A longer historical period back to 1990 is also provided by way of reference .

The energy progress report is a successor to the earlier Global Tracking Framework published in 2013,2015 and 2017) which was co led by the IEA and World Bank under the auspices of the UN Sustainable Energy for All (Se4ALL) initiative and builds on the same methodological foundation.

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White House taps nominees for major Africa posts
May 11, 2018 | 0 Comments
Illinois state Sen. Kyle McCarter was picked as ambassador to Kenya. | Seth Perlman/AP

Illinois state Sen. Kyle McCarter was picked as ambassador to Kenya. | Seth Perlman/AP

The White House sent several State Department and diplomatic nominations to the Senate on Thursday, including two prominent Africa positions that were sitting unfilled.

Tibor Nagy, recently a vice provost at Texas Tech University and former ambassador to Ethiopia and Guinea, was tapped to be assistant secretary of state for African affairs. Illinois state Sen. Kyle McCarter was picked as ambassador to Kenya.

The announcement came the same day that the Pentagon released a summary of its final U.S. Africa Command report on an October ambush in Niger that killed four U.S. troops and others.

The Trump administration has come under fire for what critics called a lack of diplomatic engagement with Africa. Major countries like South Africa and Tanzania remain without an American emissary. President Donald Trump provoked an uproar in January when he reportedly called African and other nations “shithole” places. And the rising threat of terror groups in West Africa, along with ongoing conflicts in South Sudan and Somalia, has sparked calls for the U.S. to do more.

The White House was reported to have selected J. Peter Pham for the assistant secretary post last year, but Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) reportedly threatened to scuttle that choice over a Western Sahara disagreement.

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South Sudan accuses US of blocking path to country’s peace
May 9, 2018 | 0 Comments


File Picture .South Sudan President Salva Kiir meets U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in Juba

File Picture .South Sudan President Salva Kiir meets U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in Juba

South Sudan’s government on Wednesday lashed out at the United States after the Trump administration threatened to cut off hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid amid the country’s grinding civil war, calling the U.S. “a real obstacle” toward achieving peace.

The statement from President Salva Kiir’s office also accused the Trump administration of “naked direct interference” in South Sudan’s affairs ahead of peace talks that resume May 17 in neighboring Ethiopia, mediated by a regional bloc.

The U.S. is the top aid donor to South Sudan, but in a sharply worded statement on Tuesday it said it would review its assistance if the East African nation’s conflict grinds on. The U.S. says it has given over $3.2 billion in humanitarian assistance since the conflict broke out in December 2013.

The absence of aid would have a devastating impact on more than seven million South Sudanese facing severe hunger as aid workers say famine could return.

International frustration has been rising with South Sudan’s warring sides, especially after a cease-fire late last year was violated within hours. Tens of thousands of people have been killed and more than 2 million people have fled the country, creating Africa’s largest refugee crisis since the Rwandan genocide in 1994.

While the South Sudan statement accused the armed opposition of blocking the path to peace by putting forward what it called impractical proposals, it noted that Kiir has invited former deputy and opposition leader Riek Machar to return to the country and given him 45 days to do so in an attempt to “reconcile with opposition leaders.” Machar fled during renewed fighting in 2016.

“Without a genuine peace Machar is not coming,” a spokesman for Machar’s group, Lam Paul Gabriel, told The Associated Press.

A new collection of opposition parties, which doesn’t include Machar’s supporters, on Wednesday commended the U.S. statement and accused South Sudan’s government of “tirelessly working to undermine the prospect” of peace.

One South Sudan conflict expert urged both sides to stop the attacks.

“The United States’ statement was a bit harsh but there’s no way the government of South Sudan should fight with them,” Jacob Chol, professor of comparative politics at the University of Juba, told the AP. “What should happen is more engagement instead of antagonistic fighting back. It’s not good for the welfare of the South Sudanese.”



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Merck Foundation supports the training of Thirty Future Oncologists in Africa through one and two-year Oncology Fellowship Program
May 9, 2018 | 0 Comments
Twenty candidates from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Kenya have enrolled in the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 8, 2018/ —

  • Merck gives back to society through Merck Foundation’s programs to build Cancer Care Capacity in Africa.
  • Merck Foundation provides Africa with Thirty New Oncologists through Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program established in India, Kenya, Malaysia, and Egypt.
  • SDG 3 calls us to sustainably invest in building Healthcare Capacity to improve access to equitable healthcare solutions.
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO Merck Foundation meets the future Oncologists, who are undergoing Merck Oncology Fellowship Program in India

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO Merck Foundation meets the future Oncologists, who are undergoing Merck Oncology Fellowship Program in India

Merck Foundation (, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA ( Germany, continues the second stage of their Africa Oncology Fellowship Program that started in 2016 with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa.

In June 2017, BIO Ventures for Global Health (BVGH), and the African Organization for Research and Training in Cancer (AORTIC) released a white paper on the African continent’s emerging cancer crisis.  Over 20% of African countries have no access to cancer treatments at all, while access is limited and sporadic in other countries. Later-stage diagnosis in African patients contributes to poorer outcomes. For example, 5-year female breast cancer relative survival rates are 46% in Uganda and 12% in The Gambia, compared with around 90% in developed countries, the report cited.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation emphasized, “One of the main objectives of Merck Foundation is to build a strong platform of qualified medical, paediatric and surgical oncologists across the continent through the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program.”

“Twenty candidates from Uganda, Zambia, Ethiopia, Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, Liberia, Tanzania, and Kenya have enrolled in the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program in partnership with African Ministries of Health, the University of Nairobi, Kenya, Tata Memorial Centre, India, and Cairo University, Egypt. We are very proud of our contribution, to lead Africa to a better future through changing the landscape of Cancer care in the continent.” Rasha Kelej added.

In partnership with Ministries of Health and Academia across Africa, the Merck Africa Oncology Fellowship Program provides one-year and two-year oncology fellowship programs and a three-year master degree in medical oncology at Tata Memorial Centre, India, University of Nairobi, Kenya, University of Malaya, Malaysia, and Cairo University, Egypt, respectively.

Launched in 2016, with the aim to increase the limited number of qualified oncologists in the continent, three medical doctors from Sub-Saharan African countries Kenya, and South Africa were granted a two-year Africa medical oncology fellowship training at the University of Nairobi. Also, Merck Foundation supported another two African doctors from Ghana and Tanzania for the Paediatric and Adult.

Medical Fellowship program that is conducted annually at Tata Memorial Centre, India.

In 2017; Merck Foundation partnered with more African countries such as; Rwanda, Liberia, Zambia, Ethiopia, Botswana and Uganda to provide ten candidates with the one-year oncology fellowship program in India and three candidates from Liberia, Ghana and Namibia to conduct a master degree in clinical oncology at Cairo University, Egypt.

“In 2018, We will continue to enroll more candidates and engage other countries on this program as we firmly believe this is a vital component of improving the quality and accessibility of cancer care in Africa. We have received requests from countries such as; Niger, guinea, Gambia, the Central African Republic to partner with them through their First Ladies’ offices and Ministries of Health to provide our fellowship program to their doctors with the aim to improve access to quality cancer care in their countries and across the continent. Merck Foundation will continue their long-term commitment to further partner with more Sub-Saharan African Countries to realize their vision to create a strong platform of future trained oncologists “, Rasha Kelej added.

The partnership between Merck Foundation and The African First ladies’ organization has been established in Jan 2018, to cooperate in building healthcare capacity with the special focus on cancer, Diabetes and fertility care in their countries with the support of their Ministries of Health.

Merck Foundation has supported the African governments to define their strategies, to emphasize on building professional capacity and focus on long-term training, with the aim to develop trained oncologists and not only relying on Drug or equipment donation, which will help them to be independent and would overcome their major challenge, which is the lack of skilled oncologists and healthcare professionals in general.

Merck Foundation strongly believes that building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to quality and equitable cancer care in Africa.

Merck Foundation makes History:

Merck Foundation will train the first medical Oncologist in some Sub- Saharan African Countries such as the Gambia and Guinea Conakry where they never had an oncologist or cancer care facility, we are making history there, and through them, we will transform people’s lives every day.

The annual platform of Merck Foundation- Merck Africa Asia Luminary and Solutions for Cancer Access:

Since 2013, Merck Africa Asia Luminary features a workshop dedicated exclusively to improve access to cancer care through Capacity building through Merck Foundation, It convenes key players from the global, regional and local cancer network, health ministers, and First ladies, with the goal of encouraging dialogue among stakeholders, raises awareness of the issues, explores partnership opportunities to generate ideas for potential solutions to existing challenges.

Merck Foundation Vision and Call for Action: 

“A world where everyone should lead a healthy and fulfilling life, this is Merck Foundation ‘s vision. We are working together to achieve the Sustainable Development goals- SDGs. The SDG 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages, calls us to sustainably invest on building healthcare capacity to improve access to safe, effective, quality, and affordable healthcare solutions for all by 2030.”  Kelej emphasized.


The African Union has targeted by 2063, every citizen will have full access to affordable and quality health care services, and integrated and comprehensive health services and infrastructure will be in place, where services are available, accessible, affordable, acceptable and of quality.

The Merck Foundation (, established in 2017, is a philanthropic organization that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to innovative healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation Website. Please go to to read more and/or register online to interact and exchange experience with our registered members.

Merck ( is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Around 50,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions. In 2016, Merck generated sales of € 15.0 billion in 66 countries.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma and EMD Performance Materials.


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Africa Investment Forum endorsed as a game changer for financing Africa’s infrastructure development
May 9, 2018 | 0 Comments

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, May 8, 2018/ — By 2050, just 32 short years from now, Africa’s growing population will tip the scales at a whopping 2 billion, with a youth of 840 million. In the process, the continent will overtake the populations of China and India combined.

Financing Africa’s development needs will require an estimated US $600-700 billion per annum. According to the African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.orgAfrican Economic Outlook 2018 , of this, about US $130-170 billion a year in infrastructure will be needed.

To address these challenges, the African Development Bank has launched the Africa Investment Forum , a platform to mobilize private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds and the private sector to facilitate infrastructure projects with the capacity to transform the continent.

The Premier of Gauteng Province, Africa’s seventh largest economy, David Makhura, endorsed the Forum as a game changer for financing Africa’s infrastructure development at the launch of the African Investment Forum in Johannesburg.

“It’s an honour to receive a vote of confidence from one of the most influential, respected and credible institutions of our continent. I want to assure the African Development Bank, and members of the African and global investor community that we are ready to host a highly successful Africa Investment Forum in November. We have an impeccable track record of hosting continental and global events of the magnitude and significance represented by the Africa Investment Forum,” Makhura said at the formal launch of the Forum.

The Bank and the Government of Gauteng Province on Tuesday signed a memorandum of agreement to host the inaugural edition of the Africa Investment Forum   from November 7 to 9, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Makhura referred to the Africa Investment Forum as more than a Davos of Africa, stating that “we as the Gauteng Provincial Government are very pleased to have won the bid to host this biggest and unparalleled investment platform on the African continent. It’s a great platform that will translate Africa’s professed potentials into real opportunities and progress.”

He added, “The November Inaugural Africa Investment Forum fits very well with the investment drive of President Ramaphosa and will be one of the most important platforms for our government and local businesses to pitch for greater levels of investment. Gauteng-based investment companies have already invested more than $30 billion in different regions of Africa. We have a 15-year infrastructure masterplan with a portfolio of bankable projects that require more than $150 billion over 10 years.”

While Africa is the next investment frontier, there is an urgent need to bridge the gap between available capital and bankable projects, said African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, noting the Africa Investment Forum will help make Africa a place where its young people want to live and thrive in.

“The overall Investment gap for Africa to achieve overall economic development is actually much higher and stands at $200 billion to $1.2 trillion a year. Impediments to bankable projects must be resolved to create win-wins for governments, development finance institutions and other relevant stakeholders. Africa must invest in its own development if it wants others to do so,” he said.

“This is the essential reason for the new approach of the Africa Investment Forum, a multi-stakeholder, multi-disciplinary platform that will incentivize collaboration for the economic and social development of Africa. This will primarily be about transactions and investment deals for Africa’s economic development and not a talk shop.”

Adesina noted that financing Africa’s development is and has always been a collective and cooperative task, requiring broad-based partnerships with the private sector.

“We know that the money is there. By 2020, there will be close to $111 trillion assets under management globally that are invested around the world often at very low interest rates. Within Africa, the assets under management of domestic institutional investors will rise to $1.8 trillion by 2020, tripling from $634 billion in 2014. Most of this money isn’t invested in Africa. But Africa should invest in its own development if it wants others to do so.”

Key industry leaders have endorsed the Forum as a unique opportunity for the private sector to invest in transformative projects across key sectors of strategic interest in Africa.

Investor Relations and Communication Executive at Harith General Partners, Pule Molebeledi, described the investment guarantee component of the AIF as a game changer.

“This will be a major catalyst for projects that are currently stuck in the pipeline,” he said.

The African Development Bank is committed to working with other multi-lateral development partners, private equity funds, sovereign wealth funds, insurance funds, private sector and stakeholders to ensure that the Africa Investment Forum becomes Africa’s key springboard for African investment and for meeting the continent’s massive infrastructure and development needs. This is the first time ever that several multilateral development banks will come together on a single platform designed to bring a major pipeline of bankable projects to completion.

The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) ( is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.


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Ethiopian Airlines to step up expansion with more deals and jets
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Aaron Maasho*

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – Even by its own standards, Ethiopian Airlines’ ETHA.UL recent growth has been fast — so fast that it revised the ambitious 15-year strategy set in 2010 and plans to buy more planes to step up its expansion.

Its plan had been to more than double its fleet to 120 and become Africa’s biggest airline by 2025, but it already has 100 planes flying to dozens of destinations from Asia to South America, including four U.S. cities.

The state-owned carrier has also outpaced regional competitors Kenya Airways (KQNA.NR) and South African Airways to become Africa’s largest airline by revenue and profit, according to the International Air Transport Association.

“We have expanded more than we planned,” said Chief Executive Tewolde Gebremariam. “We had to revise the objective to make it 150 airplanes or more by 2025.”

It now plans to place orders this year for 13 additional Boeing (BA.N) 787 jets and six more Airbus (AIR.PA) A350s, he told Reuters.

The airline has come a long way from when it was established in 1945 as a joint venture with now-defunct U.S. carrier Trans World Airlines (TWA).

In its 2016/17 financial year Ethiopian Airlines generated $2.7 billion in revenue, Tewolde said, up more than 11 percent from the previous year. Passenger numbers climbed by more than 18 percent to 9 million while net profit was $233 million, up from a little more than $220 million.


In 2013 Ethiopian Airlines acquired a minority stake in Malawi Airlines to serve as a base for its southern Africa operations.

That kicked off a series of deals including January’s agreement with Zambia’s government to relaunch that country’s national carrier, shut down more than two decades ago.

The strategy is aimed at gaining a “competitive advantage” against rivals such as those in the Gulf, Tewolde said.

With Africa’s aviation industry still hampered by government protectionism and high taxes, Tewolde said that setting up or taking stakes in small carriers is a way around the restrictions.

Ethiopian Airlines aims to create a new airline in Mozambique that it will fully own, he said, adding that it is also in talks with Chad, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea to set up carriers through joint ventures.

“Going forward, it will be difficult for us to compete with only one hub in Addis Ababa.”
But it isn’t all clear skies for the fast-growing carrier.

The economic downturn in Africa caused by the collapse of oil prices in 2014 has indirectly hit the continent’s airlines, and Ethiopian is unable to repatriate more than $145 million in profits from Angola, Sudan and Zimbabwe because of foreign exchange shortages, Tewolde said.

“Running a business needs cash flow,” he said. “Here in Africa, we have a huge problem with this.”


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May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

-What do Congolese think of the Voting Machines ahead of upcoming elections? Here is what a nationwide road show organized by the Independent National Electoral Commission Found.

Corneille Nangaa is President of the Independent National Electoral Commission of the D.R.Congo

Corneille Nangaa is President of the Independent National Electoral Commission of the D.R.Congo

Criticised by some political stakeholders from the radical opposition, the voting machine which will help with the simultaneous conduction of national and provincial legislation polls, as well as the presidential election in December, seems to win the minds and souls of ordinary Congolese citizens.  The nation-wide road-show, organised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI),  convincingly showcased the device designed in DRC and made in South Korea.  From Boma in Kongo Central Province, to Bulungu, Idiofa, Kamonia, Lubumbashi, Kalemie, Mbujimayi, Lodja, Gbadolite all the way to Isiro….news received from these locations attest the performance of the device and the satisfaction of voters who showered praises on the DRC electoral body for this innovation.

In Kamonia, a territory located in the Province of Kasai, the first sensitisation session on the device took place on 28 April 2018 before members of the Territory Security Committee, namely Augustin Kabawu, Daudet Tshibuabua and Jacob Mbombo, respectively CENI Field Office, Logistics Officer and IT Officer Members of the Territory Security Committee, led by M. Jean Paul Kuzo, the Territory Administrator of Kamonia, tested for themselves the device after exchange session with CENI delegates.

In Kalemie, in the province of Tangayika, more than 400 members of Salem Pentecostal Church  were sensitised on the Electoral Law, the electoral calendar and the voting machine. This was during their church service on 29 April 2018 which was also attended by the CENI Provincial Executive Secretary, Stéphane Momat. Momat carried on with his sensitisation tour to members of the Dav neighborhood Great Mosque where an estimated 600 people were sensitised on the voting machine, on the 7 innovations of the electoral law, and the key milestones of the electoral calendar.  On this occasion, the Tanganyika Province Muslim Church representative, Imam Juma Ussen and his committee, led by  example by voting, and getting to appreciate the voting machine.

In Boma, in the Province of Kongo Central, a consultation forum bringing together political stakeholders from the opposition and the regime as well as members of the civil society was held on Saturday 28 April 2018. Moderated by Ms Bernadine Kitondo, CENI Provincial Executive Secretary, the forum was attended by 115 people who got an opportunity to test the voting machine by 4 groups of 20 members each, comprising the four components (opposition, regime, civil society, and women and youth).

Meanwhile, in the territory of Sekebanza, Astrid Nkembi, Head of CENI Field Office, introduced the new voting machine to the Territory Administrator, to members of the Local Operations Committee, to the Territory Administrative Officers, to the President of the Civil Society, to 5 Heads of Sub-Territories invited specifically for the purpose, as well as to local journalists.  It is worth mentioning that 16 out of the 24 participants were able to test the device for themselves. All participants recommended that CENI Sekebanza Field Office should ensure that Sub-territories, wards and villages are widely sensitised to the use of the voting machine so that voters get to acquaint themselves with this tool, thus putting to bed the politically-motivated myth stirred around this device which is merely a voting tool.

In Gbadolite in the Province of Sud Ubangi, CENI Executive Secretary held a sensitisation session on 29 April 2018 at the Provincial Parliament Building.  A total of 53 people including 12 out of the 18 provincial members of parliament attended the exchange which focused to three aspects, namely: the innovation introduced by the electoral law, the critical path of the electoral calendar, and the voting machine.  Participants were happy with the exchange but expressed concerns on the issue of the draft law on the sharing of legislative being tabled at parliament.

Returning from a training in Bandundu-Ville, Heads of CENI Field Offices in Kwilu immediately set out to put in practice the instructions given them by the top management.  Following in the steps of the Kikwit and Idiofa Field Offices, the Gungu and Bulungu Field Offices also launched the sensitisation campaign on the electoral law the electoral calendar and the voting machine.

In Gungu, the campaign started on 27 April 2018 in the Gungu Territory Conference Room, with the attendance of members of the Local Operations Committee (CLO). In his remarks, the Acting Head of Field Office, M. Erick Kayimona, explained to the 30 participants the innovations introduced by the electoral law, the key milestones of the calendar and the voting machine.  He indicated that the voting machine was chosen to enable the concurrent polls to be held on 23 December 2018. Speaking to participants, the Territory Administrator, M. Trésor Kitambala, was proud of the choice to use the voting machine and commended the presence of the device in his territory in order to sensitise the population of Gungu On 28 April 2018, without resting, the Acting Head of Field Office held a meeting in the conference room of Gungu ITPR, bringing together political parties, faith-based organisations, civil society organisations and media.  The three campaing themes, namely the innovations introduced by the electoral law (in particular the legal threshold of representativeness), the key milestones of the electoral calendar, and the voting machine, were the focus of his speech.  A total of 93 people attended the activity and wished that CENI Gungu should conduct even more sensitisation activities.

In Bulungu, CENI Head of Field Office, Israël Kasay Malala, launched the campaign on 28 April 2018 in the presence of the Territory Adminstrator and members of the CLO. His message centred on the 7 innovations introduced by the electoral law, the main lines of the electoral calendar and the voting machine. On the machine, the Head of CENI Field Office touched on the context and justified the choice made by CENI of the voting machine with a view to the concurrent holding of polls on 23 December 2018. Mwankimi Kaba, the Bulungu Territory Administrator, expressed his satisfaction to see that, contrary to rumours about the voting machine,  this device is rather helping the government by cutting the logistical (budgetary) cost while enabling the voter to cast their ballots, in less than a minutes, for the presidential election, the national legislative elections and the provincial legislative elections.  The session was closed with the testing of the voting machine, much to the satisfaction of all.

In Idiofa, following the launch of the campaign, Head of CENI Field Office, Mr Stany Makela , sensitised a group of Primay Education inspectors in Dibaya Lubwe in a training in Idiofa ad journalists. Participants appreciated the presence of the voting machine in Idiofa in order to sensitised voters.

In the province of Haut Katanga, women from the PPRD party were sensitised on the voting machine on 28 April 2018.  The event took place in the Bâtiment du 30 Juin and was themed on “Patriot women, mobilise for elections”. PPRD women invited the CENI Provincial Executive Secretary to update them on the current electoral developments, focused on the three themes: the milestones of the electoral calendar, the 7 innovations in the electoral law, and the voting machine.  More than 350 people attended the sensitisation session during which about 40 people tested the voting machine, much to the satisfaction of all.

In Kananga in the province of Kasai Central, the managers of the Justice and Peace Commission in Kananga had the opportunity to test the voting machine.  Meeting on 28 April 2018 in the conference room of the Pastoral Diocesan Centre in the municipality of Katoka. These managers from 18 catholic parishes in the city carefully followed the outline of the electoral law, the electoral calendar and the voting machine given by the Head of Kasai Central CENI Field Office.  Almost all the participants (both men and women) rushed to hold the voting machine.  The Vice President of the Commission, Richard Lukamba, was the first to vote, followed by 46 persons including 28 women and 18 men.  All (118 people) promised to sensitise on the voting machine in their respective parishes.

In the same Province of Kasai Central, another presentation of the voting machine took place on 27 April 2018, involving the Provincial Youth Council.  This was in the presence of the Provincial Youth Minister, Pauline Kamuandu, the Head of the Youth Division, Lumana Bilolo, and the Provincial Youth President, Peter Bakandowa.  CENI Kasai Central Provincial Executive Secretary outlined the key milestones of the electoral calendar, the innovations of the electoral law and the voting machine to 242 young from the Council.  After showing the importance of these three tools, he introduced the major breaktrhoughs of the electoral process, a testament to the fact that CENI will organise elections on 23 December 2018.

The first person to test the voting machine was the Provincial Youth Minister, then followed the Head of Youth Provincial Division and the Provincial Youth President.  Finally, 36 youth were able to test the machine before a questions and answers session.  Many questions related to the machine were asked and the answers given were satisfactory to the participants who appreciated this working tools by their spontaneous testimonies.

DR C's Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) believes it will be impossible to hold elections on schedule without the machines because of challenges in setting up polling stations and counting ballots in a country with serious infrastructural handicaps .

DR C’s Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) believes it will be impossible to hold elections on schedule without the machines because of challenges in setting up polling stations and counting ballots in a country with serious infrastructural handicaps .

In the Province of Ituri, 104 taxi-bikers, also known as “Wewas” and 19 traditional chiefs were able to test the machine in Mambasa.  On 30 April 2018, during the Territory meeting, CENI Mambasa Field Officer, M. Rachidi, sensitised 104 taxi-bikers also known as Wewas, who are members of the Association of Congolese Drivers (ACCO) on the benefits and use of the voting machine.  After a quick introduction, the bikers voted using the machine.  It was observed that 12 Wewas were able to vote in less than 10 minuets.  Satisfied, they stated that they will no longer fall prey to the manipulations of politicians.

After the “Wewa”, 19 Traditional CHiefs, who attended the meeting with the Territory Administrator, also, voted on 1 May 2018, using the machine.  The Chiefs were surprised how easy it was to vote with the machine as opposed to the rumours being circulated.  They vowed to sensitised their villagers in order for them to adopt this tool which will help them to properly elect, come the polls.

In Aru in the same province, 84 sick people, nurses, and health helpers as well as pastors in the CECA-20 General Hospital were targeted to use the voting machine.  After a quick introduction on the benefits of the machine, CENI Field Office Head in Aru and his team demonstrated how the vote will take place on 23 December 2018.  Participants tested the machine and said they were convinced by its performance.


In Isiro, taking advantage of a refresher training for community radio presenters from the 7 provinces of eastern DRC by the Minister of Communication and Media, CENI Executive Secretary from Haut Uele overwhelmingly convinced the participants who were joined by provincial ministers of the sector from the provinces and conducted a demonstration of the voting machined widely hailed.

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South Sudan SPLM – IO joins president ruling party
May 8, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

Taban Deng Gai and Salva Kiir

Taban Deng Gai and Salva Kiir

Juba – South Sudan’s First Vice President and former rebel Taban Deng Gai on Monday formally dissolved his party into the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) of President Salva Kiir.

 The move is aimed at bolstering the legitimacy of Mr Kiir’s regime and undermining rebel leader Riek Machar, to whom Mr. Deng was formerly allied.

In a statement dated May 7, Taban Deng Gai indicated that the dissolution of his group is in line with the SPLM reunification as stipulated in the 2015 Arusha Agreement.

Gen. Deng split from Machar following heavy fighting in the capital Juba in 2016 and, siding with Mr Kiir, took his former boss’s job and is seeking to strengthen his position in the government.

Both Deng in Juba and Machar, under house arrest in South Africa, continued to call their respective factions SPLM-IO (In Opposition) despite now being on opposing sides in the four-year-old conflict.

Deng has been First Vice President since August 2016 and ostensibly represents SPLM-IO in the transitional government.

“I would therefore like to announce on behalf of the SPLM-IO structures and the entire membership of the party the dissolution of the SPLM-IO organs, including Chapters and declare them to be united with the SPLM; the historic liberation party in the Republic of South Sudan,” Mr Gai said in a statement on Monday in Juba capital.

“All SPLM-IO members and cadres are directed to strictly observe this reunification process as stated in the Arusha Agreement of January 21, 2015,” he added, referring to mediation efforts initially began by Tanzania’s ruling party Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).


Mr. Deng move came followed the 4th SPLM – National Liberation Councils meeting held in Juba on May 4, calling for reunification of all factions of SPLM to pursue peace in one voices, which members adopted. But a meeting was suspended to allow all members to participate, including Dr. Machar’s groups and former detainees groups. The next round of meeting is due to resume after 45 days, mid of June.


But rebels and politicians allied to former vice president Riek Machar immediately dismissed the move as betrayal and inconsequential with their political desired.

The world’s youngest nation, which achieved independence from Sudan in 2011, descended into civil war in late 2013 when Mr Kiir accused Dr Machar of plotting a coup.

Since 2013, millions have been uprooted, triggering a regional refugee crisis with millions more being been pushed to the brink of starvation; while tens of thousands have been killed.

While originally siding with Dr Machar, his fellow Nuer tribesman, Mr Deng switched sides ostensibly to help bring peace, but fighting has continued since and talks have several failed.

“The new rejuvenated SPLM will be fighting tribalism. We reconcile the communities, we stop child abduction and cattle rustling. We will continue with the disarmament of the civilians so that people are secure,” Deng said.

Coming together with SPLM means soldiers allied to both sides could respect the cessation of hostilities deal and provide a better environment to hold peace talks.

But observers fear that this could also sow divisions within the SPLM-IO, under Deng in Juba as some are unhappy with a move and even Dr. Machar’s groups,  under house arrest in Pretoria.

Dr Machar fled Juba just three months after taking up the position of First Vice President, following violence at the Presidential Palace, replaced by Taban Deng who went on to gain recognition in the eastern Africa region and international community.

Dr Machar’s side claims reforms in the security sector that could improve governance, accountability, economic reforms and discourage armed confrontations should be prioritised.

However, observers said it would be interesting to see how this move affects scheduled peace negotiations next week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

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