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Gambia:Covid 19 shutting down economies, President Barrow tells UN
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

President Adama Barrow
President Adama Barrow

President Adama Barrow has told the UN high-level virtual meeting on ‘Financing for Development on Covid-19’ that Gambia’s economy s among many others that are shutting down due to Covid 19 pandemic.

The impact of the pandemic has necessitated the world body to convene this high level event, to discuss strategies towards recovery of economies and financing development in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals.

“Our economies have been virtually shut down for the past several months as economic growth has become seriously compromised for the foreseeable future,” President Barrow told the meeting.

The Canadian and Jamaican Prime Ministers have joined the UN Secretary General in convening the meeting. The world leaders through this meeting have formed a consensus that Covid-19 is more than a global health challenge.

Rather, they consider it “a serious economic and social challenge” for the global economy, with devastating effects on most vulnerable countries such as The Gambia.

President Barrow told his colleague leaders that it has become more urgent for them to accelerate the implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda on Financing for Development in the Era of Covid-19 and beyond.

The Chairman of the African Union, President Ramaphosa of South Africa called for total debt cancellation for African countries. He further called on world leaders to honour their commitments to the Addis Ababa Plan of Action.

A global response package of up to $200 billion is targeted to finance this re-emergence plan. Mr. Ramaphosa expressed his commitment to lead the raising of this funds.

President Buhari of Nigeria and Kenyatta of Kenya were among those who gave strong support to debt cancellation for African countries.

The World Bank has called for extension of debt servicing, warning that creditors must not exploit the vulnerabilities of debtor countries during these times.

The IMF supported the G20’s debt scheme that puts moratorium on servicing debts by developing countries in order to support them build more robust and resilient economies.

The Secretary General of the UN, Antonio Guterres said it was clear that many developing countries lacked the financial means to recover from the impact of Covid 19 pandemic. Their economies’ financial inflows, tourism, remittances, aviation services have hugely suffered that they need global partnership to emerge from this crisis.


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Gambia’s Economy Worsen in 2020- Central Bank Governor
May 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Bakary K. Jammeh, Governor of Gambia Central Bank
Bakary K. Jammeh, Governor of Gambia Central Bank

Bakary K. Jammeh, Governor of Gambia Central Bank yesterday indicated that preliminary estimates of government fiscal operations indicated that overall deficit, including grants worsened from D24.3 million in the first quarter of 2019 to a deficit of D341.6 million in the first quarter of 2020.

“Revenue and grants in the first three months of 2020 decreased to D4.7 billion from D5.0 billion registered in the corresponding period in 2019. Domestic revenue, which comprises tax and non-tax revenue increased to D4.5 billion during the period under review from D3.0 billion in the same period last year.”

Jammeh was speaking during the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) press conference held in Banjul, Governor Jammeh added that the deficit excluding grants have improved to D0.5 billion during the first quarter of 2020 compared to D1.97 billion in the same period in 2019.

He further explained that total government expenditure and net lending increased slightly to D5.02 billion, compared to D5.01 billion in 2019. He added the recurrent expenditure increased by 23.5 % to D4.1 billion (4.1% of GDP) during the period under review.

“Capital expenditure decreased to D948.7 million in the first quarter of 2020 from D1.7 billion in the same period last year.”

Dwelling on the domestic debt, Governor Jammeh stated that The Gambia’s domestic debt remains high, saying the stock of the domestic debt increased to D33.6 billion or 33.2% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as at end April 2020, from D32.5 billion or 35.7% of GDP in the corresponding period in 2019.

After reviewing the country’s economy, Jammeh explained that the committee decided to reduce the monetary policy rate by 2% point to 10% to support the economy. It also reduced the statutory required reserve ratio by 2% points to 13%, which will release about D700 million liquidity to banks; and maintain the interest rate on the standing deposit facility at 3% and the interest rate on the standing lending facility at 1% points above the monetary policy rate.

With regard to the decision taken by the MPC, Governor Jammeh encourages banks to translate these to increase lending to the private sector, while adding that the committee will continue to closely monitor the situation and stands ready to act accordingly.

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Gambia 2021 Elections: Female Candidate Unveils Interest in Top Job
May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Marie Sock wants to run as an independent in the next elections

Marie Sock, a developmental expert and business mogul has revealed her interest of been Gambia’s next president come 2021 presidential elections.

Gambia goes to presidential elections in 2021, more political parties and independent candidates are emerging.

Sock told Fatu Network that ‘I’m here to reunited Gambia’ as she on Thursday called on all Gambians to back to her to become the country’s next president.

Sock said: “I feel there are too many political parties right now and it’s catastrophic. So I want to get out of that. This is why I said, ‘no I am not gonna form another political party to be part of, I gonna stand independently’.”

The businesswoman is calling on all Gambians including political parties to endorse her in her grand plan.

She said: “Standing independently doesn’t mean I don’t wanna work with anyone. That’s why I’m standing independent. Of course, it will be great if Gambians can come together regardless of any political party that you are affiliated with, to endorse my candidacy because what I want to do is to bring everybody together as Gambians.

“I’m looking actually for all the parties to endorse me. I cannot predict the future, I can only come out and say I’m standing on my own. For now I can only say I am aspiring candidate and talk to all the people to support me and come onboard as one.

“I’m here to reunite Gambia. If we talk about we want Gambia to be one, I think this is the platform to do so. We put our political affiliations aside, we put our religion aside, we put our tribe aside.”


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Statement of the Chairperson following the murder of George Floyd in the USA
May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat
Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat

29 May 2020, Addis Ababa: The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat strongly condemns the murder of George Floyd that occurred in the United States of America at the hands of law enforcement officers, and wishes to extend his deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.

Recalling the historic Organisation of Africa Unity (OAU) Resolution on Racial Discrimination in the United States of America made by African Heads of State and Government, at the OAU’s First Assembly Meeting held in Cairo, Egypt from 17 to 24 July 1964, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission firmly reaffirms and reiterates the African Union’s rejection of the continuing discriminatory practices against Black citizens of the United States of America.

He further urges the authorities in the United States of America to intensify their efforts to ensure the total elimination of all forms of discrimination based on race or ethnic origin.

Issued by:
The Spokesperson of the Chairperson of the Commission
Ebba Kalondo

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Innovate Now Accelerator Programme Seeks Mobile Solutions to Assist Persons with Disabilities
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
Bernard Chiira – Director, Innovate Now, during the announcement of finalists for Cohort 1 in 2019
Programme opens submissions for second cohort with focus on mobile as a bridge to assistive technology

Africa’s first Assistive Technology Accelerator is seeking applications from innovators across the African continent who are dedicated to developing mobile based technologies designed to assist people living with disabilities.

The UK Aid-funded programme, which is run by Global Disability Innovation (GDI) Hub (www.DisabilityInnovation.com) and Amref Enterprises Limited, hopes to accelerate 12 start-ups in its second cohort, with a focus on solutions that will leverage mobile technologies to enable persons with disabilities access information and navigate daily life with independence and dignity.

The second intake’s theme – Mobile and Assistive Technology (AT) – is in response to research indicating that mobile technology can increase access to assistive technologies, information, digital products and services for people with disabilities. This is especially true in Africa, a rapidly digitising economy where numerous basic services and products are available via mobile phone in countries such as Kenya, South Africa and Nigeria.

“The mobile device and associated mobile technologies have tremendously improved access to information, goods and services for people from all walks of life, including persons with disabilities. Innovate Now Cohort 2.0 aims to support ventures that are leveraging this disruptive technology to improve functioning, independence and wellbeing of persons with disabilities in Africa,’’  noted Bernard Chiira, Director – Innovate Now.

According to a study on mobile disability gaps (https://bit.ly/2WKrbTW) published by the GSMA, mobile phone ownership among persons with disabilities is high, with approximately 82% of adults with disabilities in Kenya owning a mobile phone for example. Although persons with disabilities are less likely to own a mobile phone than non-disabled persons, those with access to mobile devices perceive the handsets to be useful for accessing features such as education and financial services.

“The independence and wellbeing of persons with disabilities is critical. Assistive technologies are central to ensuring that persons with disabilities can continue to thrive. It is my desire to see innovations supported by Innovate Now turn into big businesses that will not only make mobility easy, but create employment for our people,” said Senator Isaac Mwaura, Chair – Innovate Now Board.

Applications for Cohort 2.0 can be submitted online via [https://atInnovateNow.com/apply] until June 8, 2020. Innovate Now is also inviting submissions for mobile technology-based innovations that seek to provide solutions to help persons with disabilities during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Selected finalists will participate in a rigorous 3-month virtual start-up acceleration programme that will run from July to September 2020, during which they will have access to the Innovate Now Live-Lab Network where they can engage persons with disabilities in the product development process. The participants will also have access to mentorship from experts such as Rhys Williams and Catherine Holloway from GDI Hub; Anne Lawi, Country Director – Pangea Accelerator; Maurice Otieno, Executive Director – Baraza Media Lab, and Robert Yawe, Managing Director – SynapTech Solutions, among others.

At the end of the programme, the start-ups will present their innovations to a select audience of investors and world leading institutions with the aim of scaling them to reach the populations that need them most.

Last year’s 5 finalists are preparing to pitch at the Innovate Now Virtual Demo Day to be held on June 4, 2020, during which various investments will be announced. They include:
Vision Vijana (www.Vijanareloaded.com) – a start-up that is building and training a network of youth to make vision testing, eyeglasses fitting and acquisition accessible at scale. Vision Vijana has so far carried out vision testing and eyeglasses fitting for more than 8,000 people in Kenya.
Linccell Technology  – a start-up that aims to lead the electric personal mobility industry in Kenya and put wheelchair users at the front of this revolution. Linccell Technology has designed, built and sold more than a dozen wheelchairs across Kenya. Their wheelchairs are designed to withstand the toughest off-road conditions in Africa while also being convenient for indoor use.
Hope Tech Plus  – a start-up that is reimagining mobility and navigation for the blind. Their 4th Eye Mobility Device is designed to replace the white cane and help visually impaired people avoid obstacles above knee level, and is so far being used by over 1,000 users.
Syna Consulting  – the social enterprise has developed UTULAV, a mobile toilet designed to provide safe and dignified sanitation to the physically challenged, the aged and the sick. The development of UTULAV has progressed from prototype to minimum viable product, and Syna is now trialling its proposition in the market.
Toto SCI – a startup that has developed AlexCane, a smart stick that incorporates IOT (Internet of things) technology to help blind persons share their location, request for help or connect with other users automatically at the touch of a button.

Innovate Now is part of the AT2030 Programme. It is Africa’s first Assistive Technology Innovation Ecosystem and Start-up Accelerator and is implemented by Amref Enterprises Limited (AEL) and led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub. The Accelerator aims to support 60 start-ups, 15 of which will be scaled up over the next 3 years.

With statistics showing that close to 1 billion people globally do not have access to Assistive Technology and the gap is likely to double by 2050, the accelerator programme seeks to close the gap that exists between persons with disabilities and access to assistive technologies.

About Innovate Now:
Innovate Now is Africa’s first Assistive Technology Accelerator that hosts start-ups for 3-6 months. The free accelerator model combines mentorship, workshops, guest lectures and hands on disability expertise to help Assistive Technology start-ups reach product-market fit, become investable and scale ready. Innovate Now uses an innovative active learning model and Live labs to provide the best possible support for founders by helping them overcome barriers to scaling AT. Innovate Now is implemented by Amref Enterprises (Kenya) in partnership with the Global disability Innovation Hub. It is part of the GDI Hub led AT2030 Assistive Technology for All programme.

About AT2030:
The AT2030 programme will test, over five years, “what works” to improve access to Assistive Technology and will invest £20m to support solutions to scale. With a focus on innovative products, new service models, and global capacity support, the programme will reach 9 million people directly and 6 million more indirectly to enable a lifetime of potential through life-changing Assistive Technology. AT2030 is led by the Global Disability Innovation Hub and is funded by UK Aid from the UK Government.

About Amref Enterprises Limited:
Amref Enterprises Limited (AEL) is the social enterprise arm of Amref Health Africa, the largest Africa-based international NGO. AEL is responsible for delivering sustainable social value through incubation and commercialisation of innovative solutions, conceptualised and developed throughout the organisation. AEL works to strengthen the primary health care system, in line with Amref Health Africa’s vision of creating lasting health change in Africa.

About Global Disability Innovation Hub (GDI Hub):
GDI Hub is a research and practice centre driving disability innovation for a fairer world. Based in East London and a legacy of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, GDI Hub delivers world-class research, ideas and inventions, creating new knowledge, solutions and products, and shaping policy through co-creation, participation and collaboration.

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Mozambique:Nyusi extends state of emergency for second time
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jorge dos Santos*

President Filipe Nyusi announced  on Thursday night a 30-day extension of the state of emergency in Mozambique due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to avoid possible pressure on the country’s health system. This is the second time after doing the same on 30 April.

Despite the fact that no lockdown has so far been decreed, the Head of State urged all citizens to choose not to leave home except for essential reasons.

“In simple words I say: Let’s stay at home,” said  the President, in an address to the nation broadcast by Televisão de Moçambique and Rádio Moçambique.

The state of emergency extension will last until June 30.

The country has been in a state of emergency since April 1 and so far registered  a total of 233 Covid-19 cases, 82 recoveries and two deaths.

The second death of covid-19 in Mozambique was announced on Thursday. — a woman in Pemba between 45-50 years of age. The patient died while in a health unit in the city.

Also was announced that the province of Niassa has its first case of the disease, meaning all of Mozambique’s 11 provinces are now affected.

*jorgedossantosmz@gmail.com

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The Rockefeller Foundation Announces New Awards to Strengthen Covid-19 Response in Communities Across Africa and Asia
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Rajiv J. Shah meets with a mother and her daughter to talk about The Rockefeller Foundation’s work to bring electricity and lighting to the Kibera area in Kenya. | Photograph by Chad Holder

The Rockefeller Foundation announced today that it will award three new grants to support organizations that are working with countries, communities and regions in Africa and Asia to leverage data and technology to bolster their Covid-19 response. These grants will enhance data collection through contact tracing, symptom checking, and testing that can generate data that is crucial for ensuring efficient Covid-19 responses across community, country and regional levels. The Foundation is also expanding its support of off-grid technologies that can quickly address the energy needs of healthcare facilities currently operating without electricity.

“When I was leading the U.S. response to the 2014 outbreak of Ebola in West Africa, using transparent, location-specific, real-time data was a game-changing innovation,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Employing a data-driven response to outbreaks is critical to target prevention and response efforts much more precisely and return to normal more quickly.”

With more than 5 million cases globally, countries have turned to technology at all levels of their health systems to respond to Covid-19. Yet many lower- and middle-income countries do not have the same resources as wealthier countries to develop innovations that meet their unique needs and could aid their responses. As a result, those countries with the fewest resources to combat a Covid-19 outbreak are often the least well-positioned to leverage data and technology to drive efficient responses.

“We are partnering with countries and local communities to equip them with the technologies and tools that will help to protect their health and save their economies,” said Ashvin Dayal, Senior Vice President, Power Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation. “Reliable electricity is essential for effective testing and treatment, and off-grid technologies can be rapidly deployed to address this crisis.”

To support countries and those on the frontline in their Covid-19 responses, the Foundation is awarding grants totaling $2 million to four organizations: Dalberg, Dimagi, Medic Mobile and Odyssey Energy Solutions. These new grants build on the Foundation’s efforts to improve public health and provide reliable electricity to vulnerable communities worldwide and brings its total commitment to the global Covid-19 response to over $50 million.

The Foundation’s new grants include:

  • Dalberg has received a grant to strengthen the Incident Management System (IMS) capacity of West African Emergency Operations Centers to prepare for, detect and respond to public health emergencies. The foundation’s grant will support work in six West African countries: Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, and Mauritania. “Emergency Operations Centers help countries and communities come together in a way that saves lives and allows economies to get back on their feet more quickly after disasters have passed,” said Madjiguene Sock, Partner at Dalberg. “This grant will allow us to bolster the effectiveness of the Emergency Operations Centers we have supported for more than seven years, as well as establish a platform for collaboration and knowledge sharing between centers across West Africa.”
  • Dimagi and Medic Mobile have received funding to equip community health workers with new digital tools that can bolster a data-driven response to Covid-19 in up to 50 countries. Dimagi and Medic Mobile are the two largest developers of apps designed specifically for community health workers, reaching 700,000 community health workers across the globe. “Digital tools can make a real difference in fighting Covid-19, but only if they make it into the hands of health workers,” said Isaac Holeman, PhD, Co-Founder of Medic Mobile. “This collaboration is an opportunity for our organizations to share what we know, to leverage our respective strengths in order to deliver systems that are optimized for frontline workers in hard-to-reach communities.” Jonathan Jackson, Co-Founder and CEO of Dimagi added, “By creating and sharing these tools, we can help community health workers better respond to this devastating virus and optimize public health in the long-run. These tools will shape a future in which we can predict and respond to pandemics faster and more effectively.”
  • Odyssey Energy Solutions is receiving funding to develop its data platform, which will enable the fast and sustainable deployment of donor capital to energize healthcare facilities with distributed renewable energy technology. The Odyssey platform will align donor efforts, targeting efficient allocation of over $200 million across at least 2,000 health centers in sub-Saharan Africa. “Over 70% of healthcare facilities lack access to reliable electricity in sub-Saharan Africa,” said Odyssey CEO Emily McAteer. “By integrating key datasets with the location of priority health facilities, matching them with developers, supporting the bulk procurement of mini-grid components, and utilizing asset management technologies to track performance, this project will help address the energy needs of healthcare facilities immediately and reliably.” Dana Rysankova, Global Lead for Energy Access at the World Bank noted: “The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) is supporting World Bank client countries in their efforts to electrify health facilities to help mitigate the Covid-19 health crisis. Odyssey can be a very powerful tool in this effort. In Nigeria, for example, the Rural Electrification Agency and the World Bank are partnering with the Odyssey platform for a significant Covid response effort to electrify isolation and treatment centers and primary healthcare facilities, many of which are subsequently expected to be expanded into mini grids that also serve neighboring communities and businesses.”

“The Rockefeller Foundation has supported the field of public health for over 100 years, fueling progress against disease through innovation,” said Naveen A. Rao, MD, Senior Vice President, Health, The Rockefeller Foundation. “These grants build upon that legacy to ensure that countries can fight a 21st century pandemic with 21st century tools.”

The new grants are part of the Foundation’s overall response to the global pandemic, as described in Dr. Shah’s 2020 Annual letter.

About Dalberg
Dalberg is a leading social impact advisory group that brings together strategy consulting, design thinking, big data analytics, and research to address complex social and environmental challenges. We work collaboratively with communities, institutions, governments, and corporations to develop solutions that create impact at scale. With more than 30 locations worldwide and a diverse footprint in the global south, Dalberg is driven by a mission to build a world where all people, everywhere, can reach their fullest potential. In the midst of COVID, Dalberg is coming together with a diverse range of partners and collaborators to mitigate the most serious effects of the crisis for vulnerable communities around the globe. From preparing and transforming under-resourced healthcare systems to partnering with governments to re-imagine existing supply chains and open up new opportunities for livelihoods, we are building systems and solutions that address immediate risks and fend off broader socio-economic disruptions. In all that we do, we rely on our diverse capabilities, cross-sector experience, global mindset and local presence to contribute to the building of a more inclusive and sustainable society for the future.

About Dimagi
Founded in 2002, Dimagi, Inc. is an award-winning, socially conscious technology company that helps organizations around the world deliver quality digital solutions for a variety of sectors, across urban and rural communities. Dimagi’s flagship solution, CommCare, is a leading open-source mobile data collection and service delivery platform designed to improve data collection and the quality of frontline services in low-resource settings. More than 700,000 frontline workers have used CommCare across more than 2,000 projects in 80 countries. Today, Dimagi is supporting COVID-19 response efforts with several state, local, and national governments. Dimagi’s team of exceptional physicians, engineers, and health system architects perform technical strategy, systems design, software development, and health research with partners around the world.

About Medic Mobile
Medic Mobile’s mission is to advance good health and human flourishing with and for the hardest-to-reach communities. A unique non-profit organization, Medic Mobile works with partner organizations to build and apply software that helps health workers deliver equitable care. As technical steward of the Community Health Toolkit open source project, Medic Mobile supports more than 27,000 health workers who provide care for over 12 million people in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Most of the organization’s nearly 100 engineers, designers, and global health practitioners work from offices in Nairobi, Dakar, and Kathmandu, and roughly a third work remotely or from offices in Seattle and San Francisco. The organization and its open source community envision a more just world in which health workers are supported as they provide care for their neighbors, universal health coverage is a reality, and health is a secured human right.

About Odyssey Energy Solutions
Odyssey is an investment and asset management platform that enables data-driven capital deployment into distributed energy portfolios. The platform manages data across the lifecycle of project portfolios, including feasibility analysis, investment diligence, and asset monitoring. Odyssey is being used by key donors, governments and development finance institutions to manage large-scale mini-grid, solar home system, and other electrification initiatives across numerous countries in emerging markets.

About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission – unchanged since 1913 – is to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today the Foundation advances new frontiers of science, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power, and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. In health, The Rockefeller Foundation has been working to improve global public health for more than a century – from eradicating hookworm in the American South, to launching the field of public health, to seeding the development of the life-saving yellow fever vaccine. The Foundation’s Precision Public Health initiative aims to empower community health systems and frontline health workers with the latest digital innovations – including more accurate and precise decision-making tools based on predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

*AMA/ Rockefeller Foundation

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Nigeria:#UnityInAdversity campaign drives 183 percent increase in new jobs for Jobberman
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

Jobberman, the single largest job placement website in sub-Saharan Africa, has released figures today showing a 183 percent increase in new job listings in Nigeria for April 2020. The increase in job listings was driven by the #UnityInAdversity campaign, which enabled companies to post job listings and access Jobberman’s database of over 2.2 million professionals across Nigeria for free, as a show of support for businesses and individuals looking for new opportunities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

At the beginning of March, Jobberman Nigeria saw a 70 percent decrease in job listings due to the reduced economic activity caused by the enforced lockdown and many companies shutting down recruitment budgets to cut costs. Jobseeker sign ups also decreased by 17 percent. Jobberman took the bold step to put employers’ and jobseekers’ needs first, despite the trade off in revenue, making it easier for them to connect to new opportunities. This campaign will run until the end of June 2020.

Jobberman’s data also revealed the overall number of new opportunities in April to be more than the first quarter of 2020 combined; with almost a fifth of listings for positions in the tech sector. In terms of industries, technology had most of the new jobs with 18.79 percent, followed by banking, finance and insurance with 9.27 percent and education and training with 6.78 percent. IT & Software (11.69 percent) job functions were only second to Sales (13.32 percent) in terms of job functions with the newest roles. When compared to April 2019, there were almost three times as many new job listings, which is encouraging, given the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on the jobs market. Jobseeker sign ups also increased in April by 39 percent.

Along with the #UnityinAdversity campaign and to support its commitment to alleviating unemployment in Nigeria, Jobberman has launched a free soft skills training programme that will help job seekers close this gap between their skills and employers’ requirements, as well as enhance their chances of success in gaining employment. Applications for the course are currently open to all Nigerians between the age of 18-30, and the programme will cover key areas such as emotional intelligence, business etiquette, time management, job search strategies, salary negotiation among others.

According to Hilda Kragha, CEO of Jobberman Nigeria, “The COVID-19 pandemic has made the process of connecting talent to opportunities more complicated and we are fully aware of the strain businesses and individuals in Nigeria are facing. We plan to be here for the next 10 years so making this small sacrifice to help our users navigate these difficult times is something that we think is definitely worth doing”.

Kragha also added that “it is great to see that there are still some job opportunities despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. There will be a lot of competition for these roles, however, and only the candidates that set themselves apart will be best placed to take advantage of these opportunities. We have found that soft skills such as emotional intelligence, business etiquette, time management, which are often overlooked and underestimated in Nigeria, can make a big difference.  We know the power of soft skills and we are committed to empowering individuals with the training and soft skills they need to succeed in the workplace”

With over a decade in the recruitment business, Jobberman has identified soft skills as a viable asset to an employee and job seeker, especially for young people transitioning into the workplace. Jobberman is the only online platform offering soft skills training for free and it is aiming to empower individuals across Nigeria with the training and soft skills they need to succeed. 

The soft skills training programme is free for all young people in Nigeria and will be running indefinitely. You can sign up here:

Founded in 2009, Jobberman is an online platform that provides training and placement for jobseekers, as well as the best selection of candidates for companies hiring. It is the single largest job placement website in sub-Saharan Africa and has the vision to become the leading source of talent in every market it operates in by simplifying job searching and talent acquisition; matching the right set of skills with employers needs.

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Cameroon: Collective Efforts Needed For Efficient Results in COVID-19 Fight — Dr Martin Mokake
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Dr Martin Mokake, Director of the Buea Regional Hospital say for them (medical personnel) to put their lives in danger is not much of a problem, but putting their lives without the necessary protective equipment is uncalled for. The Director was speaking to PAV’s Cameroon Reporter in an exclusive interview on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

The Director has stated that it is impossible for you to suffocate to death while wearing a mask, while also detailing the psychological difficulties the health personnel go through taking care of COVID-19 patients. 

” Together if we organize ourselves individually, and respect the measures put in place by the government, and the Ministry of Health we will be able to fight this deadly virus and win,” says Dr Mokake

Dr Martin Mokake, Director of the Buea Regional Hospital
Dr Martin Mokake, Director of the Buea Regional Hospital

PAV: Some Cameroonians still do not believe that coronavirus exists. What do you say to them?

Dr Martin Mokake: Coronavirus is here; it is ravaging the society, killing people, and making others very sick, and yet, I do not understand why someone would not believe it exists. Sometimes I have heard a lot of postulates; some people say it is a way for hospitals and governments to make money. The question I ask myself is that all governments will come together from Europe, Asia, America, Africa to formulate something that deceives the whole world, I think it is far fetched.

Coronavirus has come to kill us, to make our lives difficult, it has come to destroy economies of many countries, and I think the earlier we start believing and seeing that coronavirus is not our friend, then that is the first step to defeating coronavirus.  If someone does not believe then he will not take the measures lay down by the government, and WHO. When they do not do that the infection rate climbs. 

PAV:  There is the call from the government for everyone to wear face masks, how long should an individual wear these masks, and what are the potential health risks of wearing the masks?

Dr Martin Mokake: Recently, I have read a lot about masks choking people to death, which is completely false. I will employ you to do a little exercise, cover your nose, and mouth tight and do not breath; you will found out that you cannot do that because your brain will not even allow you to do that. A mask cannot suffocate you to death, it is impossible.

Looking into wearing the masks, normally we can wear a surgical mask for approximately 3 hours, and it needs to be changed. However, surgical masks are not for everybody. First, they are rare to come by and definitely we cannot have that for everybody. What we use in the society are masks that are made up of fabrics, and sometimes people factually complain that they do not breath well with those masks, it is a possibility. I will advise that if you are not in a position, in an area where there are many people, or if you are alone, why would you want to wear a mask?

The standardized masks have been made in such a way there are filters (the air you are breathing goes through the masks, and the air you are breathing is not the air in the mask — air without the masks). I have heard theories of carbonmonoxide poisoning because of masks, and factually it is impossible. However, there is always a nasty feeling when you put on the masks for long hours; the air you exhale usually comes out with the body temperature and so, it is hot. Without the masks, you do not feel that but with it, you feel the hot air. We need to make a decision here, wear the masks and save lives with its inconveniences or not to wear the masks and be exposed.

PAV: As a doctor, you work with nurses, especially in the COVID ward, what are some challenges you and the nurses go through on a daily basis?

Dr Martin Mokake: Our challenges are enormous. I want to salute the medical personnel that are risking their lives to save human lives. We have been victims of slander, victims of molestation, people have beaten up medical personnel, people have spat on them, and people have abused them and accused them wrongly. Yet, those are people who never come to the media, or social media to justify themselves. 

Many people think since we are medical personnel we do not have feelings, or we do not have, “heart” or we do not have families. Putting our lives in danger is not much of a problem, but putting our lives without the necessary protective equipment is uncalled for. We have been having a lot of challenges fighting against the COVID-19 with the limited resources we have, blaming nobody as we all know that no government was prepared to fight the virus.  Fighting the coronavirus comes with various psychological difficulties; when you think how medical personnel are completely exposed. If you have a little fever or headache you think you are down as well. It is not a secret that we have had a lot of medical personnel with the South West Region tested positive for COVID-19.  We are trying within the Regional Hospital in Buea to put mental health nurses and clinical psychologists at the disposition of our medical staff and our patients to make sure that we can boost their psychology.

We will continue the fighting because even when we are tired we cannot stop fighting because our primary aim is the community, and our patients
We will continue the fighting because even when we are tired we cannot stop fighting because our primary aim is the community, and our patients

PAV:  Many people in the society have accused hospital staff of tagging anyone as COVID patients. Does the hospital do that?

Dr Martin Mokake: I think they may have a point, and they may also have to listen. Sometimes people want to see what they want to see. We in the hospital have advised that if you do not have something pertinent to do in the hospital please do not come. It does not mean if you come we will catch you and lock you up, it simply means the hospital is a high risks area where people can get infected. We do not have the logistics to keep people, so there is no point coming to the hospital and say you have flu, someone is going to quarantine you for any reason. Nobody tags anybody a COVID-19 patient.

Not every cough or flu or fever is COVID-19. How do we know it is not COVID-19, we have to examine you are take some simple steps. So do we assume that this flu is not COVID-19 and send you home to die? Our society is always about accusation, and yet, the reality needs to be handled. We are not going to tag anybody, we have strict rules in this hospital that do not disclose the identity of anybody’s test death or alive. Families have the results in their pocket, but they do not belief it is COVID-19 because they feel that it is a stigma. It is not and nobody goes to buy it in the market.

PAV: Does the hospital burry COVID-19 patients?

Dr Martin Mokake: We should know that the hospital does not burry patients. We have heard rumours that when people die the hospital takes them away and burry. It is unethical, and the hospital is never going to do anything that goes against medical ethics. It is responsibility of the council to do the burial. When a COVID patient dies in the hospital it is there the hospital’s responsibility ends, the council comes to the hospital, disinfect it for burial. We do not even disinfect graves, nobody does that. So if you slammed the hospital for not coming to disinfect the grave we will forgive you for ignorance but it is our responsibility to educate you on what it is supposed to be.

PAV: There is a situation now in Buea where people who may have symptoms to call instead for the call to be picked in Buea it is done so in Yaounde wasting so much time. What is being done to decentralize the call centres?

Dr Martin Mokake: Yes, the national numbers that have been given (1510) is still a centralized call system. This is one of the things we have been discussing in meetings, and they are working on, to decentralize. We understand that every society has its peculiarities. For example, a mother in Ekona wants to call because she has symptoms and knows how to speak just Pidgin English, and she calls and someone respond to her in English or French, and she cannot really understand they become frustrated. We have tabled this problem, and we have told them (Officials in Yaounde) that this is something that the population is not happy about. The national call centre should be decentralized why not even at the level of the sub divisional level that within Buea you have a call centre in Buea, Limbe, Tiko, and Muyuka and there we will be able to serve the population even better.

PAV: How equipped is the Buea Regional Hospital to take care of COVID-19 patients?

Dr Martin Mokake: It is equipped to a certain level; we do not have ventilators here to put people on artificial ventilation. We have been working with other partners to try to equip the ward (COVID ward). What we have is a 20 bed facility (refurbished with the help of MSF, and the government of Cameroon). We have 10 beds for the confirmed cases, and 10 for the suspected cases. We are working with the protocols from the WHO as stipulated from the time of the Ebola virus. We are also constructing a 24 VIP area whereby we are going to use for isolation as it is in the roofing stage. An ambulance has been set aside for the transportation of COVID patients. The hospital spends a lot to take care of its patients and staff.

Dr Mokake says people should wear the surgical masks at least 3 hours a day
Dr Mokake says people should wear the surgical masks at least 3 hours a day

PAV: How long should someone wait for the results of their test?

Dr Martin Mokake: Testing has evolved recently because we had a problem whereby we will send the tests to Yaounde it will take one week before we get the results and it caused a lot of psychological problems to the patients. Now, the testing centre in the University of Buea is fully functional, and we have our results 24 hours or 48 hours maximum. In this case it has help in the management of patients. The workers including myself have routines times when we see that we should be tested to make sure that we are ok and not also serving as a source of contamination to our patients who are not suspects.

PAV: Any Message to the Population?

Dr Martin Mokake: We just want to encourage the population and thank them for their understanding. If you have any symptoms please try to contact any health personnel around your vicinity, and they will advise you on what to do. Together if we organize ourselves individually, and respect the measures put in place by the government, and the Ministry of Health we will be able to fight this deadly virus and win. We will continue the fighting because even when we are tired we cannot stop fighting because our primary aim is the community, and our patients. 

The picture now shows a rising level of infections within the South West Region. As at May 27, the South West Region has a total of 97 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in the Region. The major areas include: Mamfe, Kumba, Buea, and Limbe.

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AFDB: Obasanjo Rallies Former African Leaders In Support of Akinwumi Adesina
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

-Read Full Letter

Adesina has placed the AFDB in a strategic position to fast track Africa’s development, says Obasanjo

Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo is rallying African leaders maintain support for African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina following whistle blower allegations and calls from partners like the USA for more scrutiny.

In a letter to former African leaders Obasanjo credits Adesina for taking the AFDB to unprecedented heights. Making the case to trust in Adesina’s leadership, Obasanjo says in 2020, he led the Bank to achieve a historic general capital increase, raising the capital of the Bank from $93 billion to $208 billion, an increase of $155 billion, the highest in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964.

Obasanjo goes further to highlight a series of other commendable achievements of Adesina that have placed the Bank in a strategic position to fast track Africa’s development.

“Despite these achievements and impressive leadership for the Bank and passion for Africa’s faster-paced development, and his clear endorsement by all of African countries for re-election for his second term, there are some attempts, led by some non-regional member countries of the Bank to frustrate his re-election,” Obasanjo says in the letter.

“We should speak against the introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedure, laws, rules and regulations of the Bank. It is also critical that we emphasize the need for the ADB to remain an Africa-focused development Bank rather than one which serves interests outside Africa,” Obasanjo said, while inviting former leaders to collectively issue a press statement to support the laid down procedures embarked upon to evaluate the allegations against the President of the Bank .

Full Letter Below

Your Excellencies,
I hope that you are keeping well in the midst of the current COVID 19 pandemic that we are all going through in Africa and all over the world. I am writing to you in respect of developments at the African Development Bank.

As you may be aware the President of the Bank, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina has performed very well in this position over the past five years. He has taken the Bank to great heights. In 2020, he led the Bank to achieve a historic general capital increase, raising the capital of the Bank from $93 billion to $208 billion, an increase of $155 billion, the highest in the history of the Bank since its establishment in 1964.

I have been made to understand that the Bank also successfully raised funds from donor countries of over $7 billion for the African Development Fund 15th replenishment for low-income countries, an increase of 35%. Under his leadership the Bank launched the Africa Investment Forum (AIF) to mobilize massive flows of capital to Africa.

The inaugural launch of the AIF held in Johannesburg, South Africa, secured 38.7 Billion of investment interests within less than 72 hours. The AIF event held in 2019 went even further and secured $40.1 Billion of investment interest in less than 72 hours. Africa has never seen these kinds of financial and investment interests.


The Bank has been effectively positioned as an effective global institution, ranked 4th globally in terms of transparency among 45 multilateral and bilateral institutions by Publish What You Fund, an outfit that consists of 19 developed economies. Dr. Adesina led the Bank to successfully launch at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France, the Affirmative Finance Action for Women (AFAWA) to mobilize $3 Billion for women businesses and entrepreneurs in Africa, with strong support and resources from G7 leaders and nations.


The Bank has also substantially aligned its financing and operations to help accelerate Agenda 2063 and the High 5 agenda of the Bank (Light Up and Power Africa; Feed Africa; Industrialize Africa; Integrate Africa; and Improve the Quality of Life of the People of Africa) are achieving good results. Over the past four years, it is estimated that18 million people were provided with access to electricity, through “Light Up and Power Africa”: 141 million people gained access to improved agricultural technologies for food security, through “Feed Africa”; 13 million people benefited from access to finance from private sector investment projects, through “Industrialize Africa”; 101 million people benefitted from access to better transport through “integrate Africa”; 60 million people benefit from improved access to water and sanitation under “Improved quality of life for the people of Africa. In summary: in less than five years under Dr. Adesina’s leadership, the Bank’s investments have benefitted and impacted a total of 333 million Africans.


You will agree with me that these achievements are commendable and the Bank has been placed in a strategic position to fast track Africa’s development.

Finally, under Dr. Adesina’s leadership of the Bank, it has continued to maintain its Triple A (AAA) rating by all global rating agencies over the past five years.
As Africa faces COVID-19, Dr. Adesina again took bold measures to ensure the Bank can respond proactively to support African countries and got its Board of Directors to approve a $10 Billion crisis response facility to support African countries. In addition, the Bank successfully launched a $3 billion “Fight COVID-19” social impact bond on the international capital market, secured at 0.75% interest rate. The social bond is the largest US dollar denominated bond ever in world history. The bond is now listed on the London Stock Exchange where it has been oversubscribed at $4.6 billion.


Given these great achievements, Dr. Adesina was unanimously endorsed for re-election for a second term as President of the Bank by all Heads of State and Governments of the ECOWAS region. At the Africa Union
Summit in February of 2020, all 55 African countries endorsed him for reelection for his second term, as the sole candidate as President of the African Development Bank.


Despite these achievements and impressive leadership for the Bank and passion for Africa’s faster-paced development, and his clear endorsement by all of African countries for re-election for his second term, there are some attempts, led by some non-regional member countries of the Bank to frustrate his re-election. At issue are some allegations made by some whistleblowers that alleged that Dr. Adesina violated Code of Ethics as President. Dr. Adesina strongly denied the allegations as fabrications and misinformation to disparage and discredit him. The laid down due process at the Bank, the Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors, Chaired by the Executive Director from Japan and with members who represent shareholder member countries evaluated the allegations over a period of 3 months.

The Ethic Committee of the Board of Directors, after examination of each of the 16 allegations of the whistleblowers had dismissed each and all of the allegations as baseless and without any substantiation. The Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Bank following review of the Ethics Committee report exonerating Dr. Adesina concurred with the conclusions and exonerated Dr. Adesina of all the allegations. The Ethics Committee and the Chairman of the Board of Governors had performed their duties as laid down in the Rules and regulations of the Bank.


Unfortunately, the US Government, through the US Treasury Secretary, has written a public letter (that was also distributed to the Press globally) to disagree with the conclusions of the Ethics Committee of the Board of Directors and the Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Bank. Instead of accepting the exoneration of the President of the Bank, they called for an “independent investigation”.

This is outside of the rules, laws, procedures and governance systems of the Bank. The US Treasury Secretary disparaged the Bank and ridiculed the entire governance system of the Bank, which has been in place since 1964. This is unprecedented in the annals of the African Development Bank Group. If we do not rise up and defend the African Development Bank, this might mean the end of the African Development Bank, as its governance will be hijacked away from Africa.


I therefore propose that we all collectively issue a press statement to support the laid down procedures embarked upon to evaluate the allegations against the President of the Bank and to recommend that the Board of Governors as well as the Ethics Committee of the Bank should firmly stand by their process and its outcome. We should speak against the introduction of alien practices being recommended by some parties given that such recommendation falls outside the laid down procedure, laws, rules and regulations of the Bank. It is also critical that we emphasize the need for the ADB to remain an Africa-focused development Bank rather than one which serves interests outside Africa.

cc:
H.E Boni Yayi
H.E Festus Mogae
H.E Hailemariam Desalegn
H.E John Kufour H.E Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
H.E Joyce Banda
H.E Joaquim Chissano
H.E Tandja Mamadou
H.E Thabo Mbeki
H.E Kgalema Motlanthe
H.E Benjamin Mkapa
H.E Jakaya Kikwete
H.E Mohamed Marzouki (Former President of Benin)
(Former President of Botswana)
(Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia)
(Former President of Ghana)
(Former President of Liberia)
(Former President of Malawi)
(Former President of Mozambique)
(Former President ofNiger)
(Former President of South Africa)
(Former President of South Africa)
(Former President of Tanzania)
(Former President of Tanzania)
(Former President of Tunisia)

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Pan Africa Government Affairs Xchange established by ETHICORE
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
ETHICORE Founder and CEO and Africa GX President, Abdul Waheed Patel
ETHICORE Founder and CEO and Africa GX President, Abdul Waheed Patel

Leading African Government Affairs firm, ETHICORE is proud to announce the formation of Africa Government Affairs Xchange (Africa GX: www.africagx.com). This coincides with Africa Month and Africa Day (25 May 2020), commemorating the founding of the Organisation of African Unity 57 years ago in 1963.

Africa GX is the only multi-country African government affairs alliance of its kind, specialising in public policy, legislative, regulatory, government relations and public affairs for clientele in Africa. Founded and exclusively convened by ETHICORE, Africa GX aims to be the largest strategic alliance of owner-managed African government affairs firms and expert advisors operating according to high ethical standards.

According to ETHICORE Founder and CEO and Africa GX President, Abdul Waheed Patel:
“We are proud to establish Africa GX as a unique milestone, further positioning ETHICORE and our elite partners, as providers of high-quality government affairs services and strategic counsel to African and international clients. Over the past decade we have cultivated enduring bilateral strategic partnerships with reputable firms and professional advisors of high pedigree and integrity, in various African countries. Africa GX consolidates this and advances ETHICORE’s strategy to be the leading Pan-African government affairs firm, transcending borders in collaboration with our partners.”

On inception, Africa GX weaves a presence across 27 African countries in Sub-Saharan, Francophone, Anglophone, Lusophone and North Africa. This includes:
1. Benin
2. Burkina Faso
3. Botswana
4. Cameroon
5. Central African Republic
6. Côte d’Ivoire
7. Chad
8. Democratic Republic of the Congo
9. Ethiopia
10. Egypt
11. Gabon
12. Ghana
13. Guinea
14. Guinea Bissau
15. Kenya
16. Mali
17. Mauritania
18. Morocco
19. Niger
20. Nigeria
21. Rwanda
22. Senegal
23. South Africa
24. Tanzania
25. Togo
26. Zambia
27. Zimbabwe

According to Patel: “Professional government affairs consulting and advisory services in Africa is nascent. Africa GX differentiates ETHICORE and our partners, creating a competitive advantage for our clients that is unrivalled in Africa. As a bespoke continental alliance, we provide local expertise to service clients across the African continent, appropriately tailored and sensitive to each country. It embodies our collective contribution to pragmatically advance the aspiration for greater African integration and unity.”

Today more than ever, specialised African government affairs expertise is imperative to advancing the tenets of participatory democracy and Africa’s democratic dividend. Africa GX upholds responsible and constructive government relations, public policy and regulatory advocacy, which is evidence based and contributes to impactful decision-making by African governments, Parliaments and regulators.

African countries and economies are seized with immense opportunities and challenges in pursuit of national development plans, advancing the African Union’s Agenda 2063, deepening economic integration by implementing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and coordinating COVID-19 response measures.

Africa GX will be expanding its footprint into all 55 African Union members states by growing the alliance through new memberships, partnership and affiliations.

Founded in 2009, ETHICORE Political Lobbying is a decade young pioneering African Government Affairs firm headquartered in Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa. ETHICORE specialises in providing professional government affairs consulting and advisory services, helping companies and organisations to interpret, navigate, constructively engage with and positively contribute to public policy, legislative, regulatory, governmental and parliamentary decision-making. The firm has a track record of supporting more than 107 clients across 15 different industry sectors in multiple African countries. Africa GX is a wholly owned subsidiary of ETHICORE.

*Source AMA/ETHICORE

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Almac Group Supports Two COVID-19 Clinical Studies in Sub-Saharan Africa
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Robert Dunlop, Managing Director and President, Almac Clinical Services

Grant awarded from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an Initiative by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard

Almac Group, the global contract development and manufacturing organisation, has received a $288,000 grant to support a clinical study in Sub-Saharan Africa in efforts to find a treatment for Coronavirus. This was awarded from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, an initiative by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard.

Almac Clinical Services is providing a full range of clinical trial solutions from protocol through to patient delivery, whilst Almac Sciences is providing analytical support, direct from its global headquarters in Craigavon, Northern Ireland. In an effort to expedite the drug development process, Almac Clinical Services has received the active drug and is providing over encapsulation services, manufacturing a placebo match, packaging and labelling the supplies to support this blinded clinical trial. Almac Sciences is conducting rigorous analytical and stability testing for the investigational drug.

Dr. Robert Dunlop, Managing Director and President, Almac Clinical Services commented. “This virus is threatening peoples’ lives and livelihoods and nowhere worse than in the poorer regions of the world. Almac’s global capabilities and expertise enables us to play our part and support efforts to find a vaccine and/or treatment for Coronavirus. We are delighted to be awarded this grant from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator and to be supporting these clinical studies in Sub-Saharan Africa.”

Almac Clinical Services will ship all supplies to the clinical site with onward management of logistics and distribution of quality drug for delivery safely to patients. This Covid-19 study is being led by an African Principal Investigator. In addition, Almac is supporting a second open label clinical study through the distribution of commercial packs to a pharmacy in South Africa. Due to its comprehensive range of innovative and flexible services, Almac was approached to support these urgent clinical studies by R&D Supply Chain Advisors, Brizzey LLC.

The COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator is an initiative launched by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard, with funding from an array of public and philanthropic donors to speed up the response to the COVID-19 pandemic by funding the identification, assessment, development and scale up of treatments.

*

A unique culture delivering exceptional solutions

The Almac Group is an established contract development and manufacturing organisation providing an extensive range of integrated services across the drug development lifecycle to the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors globally. Its innovative services range from R&D, biomarker discovery development and commercialisation, API manufacture, analytical services, formulation development, clinical trial supply, IRT (IVRS/IWRS) through to commercial-scale manufacture.

The international company is a privately owned organisation which has grown organically over the past five decades now employing over 5,600 highly skilled personnel across 18 facilities including Europe, the US and Asia.

*Source Almac Group,

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