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$1 billion in transactions processed on Ecobank Mobile App in Africa
April 10, 2018 | 0 Comments
With over 4 million users, the Ecobank Mobile App is available to all, enabling users to open an Ecobank Xpress™ Account instantly on their mobile device
Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO

LOME, Togo, April 9, 2018/ — The groundbreaking Ecobank (www.Ecobank.com) Mobile App, a single, unified financial services application across 33 African countries, has processed 9 million transactions worth over $1 billion since launch less than 18 months ago.

With over 4 million users, the Ecobank Mobile App is available to all, enabling users to open an Ecobank Xpress™ Account instantly on their mobile device (providing an easy route to financial inclusion for the previously unbanked). There are now over 4 million Ecobank Xpress™ Account holders on the Ecobank Mobile App and USSD platforms. Other bank customers may onboard the Ecobank Mobile App with their MasterCard or Visa cards while Ecobank customers do so using their card or retail internet banking credentials.

Users of the Ecobank Mobile App are able to transfer money instantly within Ecobank locally or across Africa using Ecobank Rapidtransfer™, a unique service that is faster and more affordable than competing options. Consumers may also make transfers to other local bank accounts, mobile wallets and to Visa cardholders using Visa Direct on the Ecobank Mobile App. The App offers easy payments using Ecobankpay Scan+Pay through Masterpass, mVisa and Mcash, and has options to pay utility bills, school fees, subscriptions, make donations, buy airtime instantly and generate payment tokens using Ecobank Xpress™ Cash to do cardless ATM withdrawals or at an Ecobank Xpress™ Point (agent locations).

Ade Ayeyemi, Ecobank Group CEO explained that Ecobank’s strategic mission is built around using mobile banking to deliver innovative, efficient and cost-effective services to those who have typically sat outside of the formal economy, and therefore goes far beyond the reach of the traditional branch and ATM networks. He noted that they had processed almost as many transactions on the Ecobank Mobile App in the first few months this year as they did in the second half of 2017.

“Customers can enjoy 24/7/365 access to financial services from the convenience of their mobile devices with the Ecobank Mobile App,” he said. “We have brought world-class functionality to consumers in the 33 countries in Africa where Ecobank operates.”

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking says that Ecobank is committed to providing easy access to financial services for all Africans, leveraging the ubiquity of mobile phones via the bank’s Mobile App and at Ecobank Xpress™ Point agents wherever physical interaction is necessary especially for cash deposits.

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking

Patrick Akinwuntan, Ecobank’s Group Executive, Consumer Banking

“We aim to be the leading consumer financial services franchise in Africa and have developed a range of products and services relevant to meeting the daily banking, financing, investment and transactional needs of our customers,” said Mr. Akinwuntan. “The Ecobank Mobile App provides easy access to these services anytime and anywhere and we are very pleased with the fast and increasing uptake.”

Incorporated in Lomé, Togo in 1988, Ecobank Transnational Incorporated (‘ETI’) (www.Ecobank.com)  is the parent company of the leading independent pan-African banking group, Ecobank. It currently has a presence in 36 African countries, namely: Angola, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo (Brazzaville), Congo (Democratic Republic), Côte d’Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Group employs over 17,000 people in 40 different countries in over 1,200 branches and offices. Ecobank is a full-service bank providing wholesale, retail, investment and transaction banking services and products to governments, financial institutions, multinationals, international organizations, medium, small and micro businesses and individuals. Additional information on Ecobank can be found at www.Ecobank.com.

 

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Claudio Oben On Defying The 6TH
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Destiny Kwenchia

Claudio Oben

With the world premiere set for the USA on April 8th, Actor and Producer Claudio Oben discusses Defying the 6th, his latest production. I have grown and gotten better from when I started 8 years ago, thus by default making DT6 my most experienced work yet, says the hard working actor who also stars in Defying the 6th.

Your latest film defying the 6th hits is set to premiere in the days ahead, what is the movie about?

The movie is about the causes of suicides, struggles and trauma that people deal with that eventually if not strong enough drive people to commit suicide.

What message do you seek to convey in that film?

For this film, I seek to start a conversation with people in dark places in their lives or with people who know someone in a dark place that we hear them, we can share their pain and ending one’s life if not the only way out.

Where was the movie shot and could you introduce the cast for us?

The movie was shot 90% in Cameroon and 10% in the United  States. Main Cast: Claudio Oben (Myself), Berlinda Nahbila, Malvis Ann, Lucie Memba and Libota MacDonald.

Where would you rank Defying the 6th in terms of other movies you have produced and starred in?

To me, it’s really not a matter of ranking but more of growth and like anything we do in life, the more you do it, better you get at it. So, as a filmmaker, I believe I have grown and gotten better from when I started 8 years ago, thus by default making DT6 my most experienced work yet

What were some of the challenges faced in the production of the movie?

Besides the regular challenges you face when dealing with schedules of a hand full of people, it was more so filming in Cameroon, something I had not done in my career yet. I had to learn and understand the way it is done there and at the same time implement my findings on set on the fly, so it was a huge experience that made me learn a lot.

You have been one of the key actors trying to promote the put Cameroon film industry, how is it

doing and what else needs to be done to get it better?

The Cameroon Industry, just like every industry on cooperation that is belt on talent, art and passion has grown a great deal and it just keeps getting better. That is very evident with the quality and quantity of good film being produced under that umbrella so its a good time to be part of that family.

And for what else needs to be done better: We the artist, be it producers, actors, directors and all need to remember that without us the art dies, so we need to concentrate more on the art and forget about fame and recognition. Those things come by default when the work is done right.

Could you share more information about the Premiere, venue, fees, and any other side shows taking place ?

DT6 will be premiered in MD this Sunday, April 8th, 2018 at the Old Greenbelt Theatre from 7pm-11pm. Tickets for that are $20 even and can be purchased at the gate or on eventbrite. Thereafter, it will be premiered in Cameroon. on Saturday, April 21st, 2018 at the Mountain Hotel in Buea. Tickets for those are: 5000 cfa-Regular, 10.000 cfa-VIP (Comes with 2 drinks), Tables- 50.000 cfa.

 

What next for Claudio Oben after Defying the 6th, any other projects coming up?

After the premieres and film festival runs, Claudio Oben and Zeallmatic pictures will get back to work, if not already in the works for the spin-offs of DT6. That’s all I am allowed to reveal for now.

Thanks for talking to PAV                           

Thank you so much for having me and hope to see you at the premiere. Stay blessed.

 

 

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South African company expresses keen interest to open pioneer mineral processing lab in Zimbabwe
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

South Africa’s Umzamo Analytical Services (UAS) is to open a pioneer
mineral processing laboratory in September 2018, according to
Ngonidzashe Mukuwanda, who visited Zimbabwe recently to assess
investment opportunities at the Zimbabwe mining investment conference
hosted in Harare on 27 to 28 February, 2018.

“This will be our pioneer mineral processing laboratory. Pioneer
in the sense that the first phase of our lab will be to provide
analytical services for chrome processing and coal mines. As we grow
we will provide analytical services for platinum, gold, lithium and
nickel,” Mukuwanda told African Review.

He also added that the main purpose of establishing a mineral
processing lab is to offer affordable, efficient, responsive, flexible
and uncompromised quality analytical services to the dynamic and
rapidly growing mining sector.
He said the need for analytical services cannot be over estimated
as it will optimise production and sales thereby promoting economical
growth and creating employment in the Zimbabwe.
It is also added that UAS Zimbabwe is a subsidiary of UAS South
Africa and has a recruitment strategy of recruiting locals to assist
the government of Zimbabwe in creating employment.
It is also reported that apart from analytical services, UAS will
also offer a substantive platform to train post graduates in the
analytical chemistry field.
Mukuwanda added that UAS has sound financial resources and is ready
to invest in Zimbabwe.UAS South Africa was established in January 2012 and has been
offering quality service to the coal mining sector.
Some of the services offered by the company include mechanical
sampling, preparation of samples, commissioning and management of coal
testing laboratories, plant efficiency testing including moisture in
analysis sample, just to mention a few.
Mineral testing focuses on minerals such as chrome, iron ore,
copper, platinum and gold.

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EU delegation to the Republic of Zimbabwe calls for peaceful primary elections in Zimbabwe
April 6, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

President Emmerson Mnangagwa with  Phillipe van Damme, Ambassador - Head of delegation of the European Union to Zimbabwe

President Emmerson Mnangagwa with Phillipe van Damme, Ambassador – Head of delegation of the European Union to Zimbabwe

The EU delegation to the Republic of Zimbabwe has issued a joint local statement on peaceful primary elections within political parties in the country.

The statement has been issued by the the European Union Delegation, the Heads of Mission of EU Member States present in Harare and the Head of Mission of Switzerland.

The Heads of Mission of the EU and Switzerland have reaffirmed their commitment to continued support to peaceful, inclusive, credible and transparent 2018 harmonised elections in Zimbabwe.

It is reported that in light of the upcoming primary elections to select candidates of political parties, the Heads of Mission encourage all political parties to adhere to principles of mutual respect and tolerance in order to contribute to a peaceful, just and democratic society.

In particular, the Heads of Mission wish to emphasise the constitutional right of women to equal treatment and opportunities as well as full participation in the political sphere.

The Heads of Mission have further urged all parties and their supporters to respect the democratic principles and to act in a non-violent and peaceful manner and called on all stakeholders to condemn all types of violence and intimidation clearly and unequivocally during the candidature selection

 

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Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments
Six-year study with 47,000 households demonstrates how housing microfinance can be win-win for poor people and financial institutions

KISSI, KENYA (05/04/16)-
Julius Nyakeya Kinanda, 34,Ruth Nygmorambo Nyakeya, 30,Michelle Kwamboka Nyakeya, 10, (White top)
Elisha Kafiti Nyakeya, 8,
Joy Boera Nyakeya, 2,
©Habitat for Humanity International/Jason Asteros

NAIROBI, Kenya, April 5, 2018/ — A new study from Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org) says that housing microfinance can and should become a mainstream offering for financial institutions in Sub-Saharan Africa as they respond to growing housing needs in the region, particularly from poor people.

The business case study, released today, is entitled “Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa”  It builds on a project carried out over six years in Kenya and Uganda called “Building Assets Unlocking Access”. The project was a partnership between Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter and the Mastercard Foundation (www.MastercardFdn.org). So far, the project has reached over 47,000 households and mobilized more than US$43 million in capital to benefit over 237,000 individuals.

To download the case study “Building the Business Case for Housing Microfinance in Sub-Saharan Africa” click here: https://goo.gl/QmYUWT

The business case study argues that housing microfinance, small non-mortgage backed loans for short terms, can become a mainstream offering in the market to address growing housing needs in the region, incremental building patterns, and the land tenure realities of low-income households.

There are an estimated 1.6 billion people in the world living in substandard housing. This figure is climbing, especially as the world becomes more urbanized and people migrate to cities for economic opportunity. In Sub-Saharan Africa, however, as much as 99 percent of people do not have access to formal financing –  credit, savings, mortgages – that can let them start building or improving their homes. Traditionally, they build homes gradually as their resources allow. Developer-built, bank-financed homes are rare in Africa, serving fewer than five percent of households in most countries.

“Solving the housing challenges in Africa will require a massive amount of capital investment and most of that will need to come from the private sector,” said Patrick Kelley, Vice President of Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter. “Financial institutions of all kinds have a role to play, especially those already deeply embedded in communities and who understand people with informal sector livelihoods.”

Habitat’s Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter partnership with the Mastercard Foundation sought to motivate local financial service providers in Kenya and Uganda to develop housing microfinance loans to fund the incremental building process common among low-income households. The results have proven that there is demand for housing microfinance among families or individuals earning as little as US$5 a day who are seeking to build, extend, or renovate their home.

“At the Mastercard Foundation, our focus is on helping economically disadvantaged people, especially young people in Africa, to find opportunities to move themselves, their families and their communities out of poverty,” said Ruth Dueck-Mbeba, Senior Program Manager at the Foundation. “This project has provided access to appropriate finance for decent housing. We believe that decent housing can provide more than four walls and a roof over one’s head. It offers people hope, dignity, and a place in their communities.  This report should help financial service providers to scale these products, which would benefit their enterprises as well as the lives of many poor people in Africa.”

Financial institutions in the region that have ventured into housing microfi­nance have often reported it to be a popular product with their clients. To understand the demand side factors, the value proposition of these products, the competitive advantage of financial service providers offering it, and the differentiated features that make housing microfinance a strategic product, the business case study surveyed the work of two financial institutions: Kenya Women Microfinance Bank, or KWFT, and Centenary Bank in Uganda.

The study argues, through the lenses of these two institutions in different geographies, that success and profitability of a housing microfinance product relies on a number of factors: connection with the financial service provider’s mission, good marketing, a clear pricing structure, understanding of land tenure realities, an opportunity to attract new clients, and secure long-term capital to fund the expansion of such portfolios.

“Financing incremental housing solutions is a natural step in the progress of greater financial inclusion. Centenary and KWFT are providing a great example of how financial institutions will benefit from understanding their clients and developing products that serve them well,” said Patrick Kelley.

About the Mastercard Foundation
The Mastercard Foundation (www.MastercardFdn.org) seeks a world where everyone has the opportunity to learn and prosper. The Foundation’s work is guided by its mission to advance learning and promote financial inclusion for people living in poverty. One of the largest foundations in the world, it works almost exclusively in Africa. It was created in 2006 by Mastercard International and operates independently under the governance of its own Board of Directors. The Foundation is based in Toronto, Canada. For more information and to sign up for the Foundation’s newsletter, please visit www.MastercardFdn.org. Follow the Foundation at @MastercardFdn on Twitter.

About Habitat for Humanity
Driven by the vision that everyone needs a decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity (www.Habitat.org) began in 1976 as a grassroots effort. The housing organization has since grown to become a leading global nonprofit working in more than 70 countries. Families and individuals in need of a hand up partner with Habitat for Humanity to build or improve a place they can call home. Through financial support, volunteering or adding a voice to support affordable housing, everyone can help families achieve the strength, stability and self-reliance they need to build better lives for themselves. Through shelter, we empower. To learn more, visit www.Habitat.org/emea.

About the Terwilliger Center for Innovation in Shelter 
Habitat established the Terwilliger Center (www.Habitat.org/TCIS) to work with housing market systems by supporting local firms and expand¬ing innovative and client-responsive services, products and financing so that households can improve their shelter more effectively and efficiently. The role of the Terwilliger Center stays true to Habitat for Humanity’s original principles of self-help and sus¬tainability by focusing on improving systems that enable families to achieve affordable shelter without needing ongoing direct support

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Child labour and human rights abuses on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe exposed in newly launched report by Human Rights Watch
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Children and adults who work on Zimbabwe’s tobacco farms are
reportedly facing serious risks to their health as well as labor
abuses, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report released in Harare
today. According to HRW, child labour and other human rights abuses
on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe tarnish the tobacco industry’s
contributions to the country’s economic growth and improved
livelihoods.

The 105-page report, “A Bitter Harvest: Child Labor and Human Rights
Abuses on Tobacco Farms in Zimbabwe,” documents how children work in
hazardous conditions, performing tasks that threaten their health and
safety or interfere with their education. Child workers are exposed to
nicotine and toxic pesticides, and many suffer symptoms consistent
with nicotine poisoning from handling tobacco leaves. Adults working
on tobacco farms in Zimbabwe also face serious health risks and labor
abuses.

“Zimbabwe’s government needs to take urgent steps to protect tobacco
workers,” said Margaret Wurth, children’s rights researcher at Human
Rights Watch and co-author of the report. “Companies sourcing tobacco
from Zimbabwe should ensure that they are not buying a crop produced
by child workers sacrificing their health and education.”

Human Rights Watch conducted research in the four provinces
responsible for nearly all of Zimbabwe’s tobacco production. The
report is based on interviews with 125 small-scale tobacco farmers and
hired workers, including children or former child workers, in late
2016 and early 2017. Human Rights Watch also analyzed laws and
policies and reviewed other sources, including public health studies
and government reports.

Human Rights Watch found that the government and companies have
generally not provided workers with enough information, training, and
equipment to protect themselves from nicotine poisoning and pesticide
exposure. Human Rights Watch found similar conditions on tobacco farms
in research in other countries, including the United States. But where
governments have enacted strong laws against child labor, and provided
extensive information about hazards and how to provide protection,
such as in Brazil, there has been some progress in keeping children
out of the fields and protecting other workers.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who replaced Robert Mugabe in November
2017 following military intervention, stated his administration’s
economic policy would be based on agriculture. Zimbabwe is the world’s
sixth-largest tobacco producer. The crop is the country’s most
valuable export commodity, generating US$933 million in 2016.

Some of the world’s largest multinational tobacco companies purchase
tobacco grown in Zimbabwe, either directly or at auction, including
British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco Group, and Imperial Brands.
Under human rights norms, companies buying tobacco from Zimbabwe have
a responsibility to ensure that their business operations do not
contribute to child labor and other human rights abuses.

Human Rights Watch contacted the companies that collectively bought 86
percent of Zimbabwe’s tobacco in 2016. Most of the multinational
companies involved have policies prohibiting their suppliers from
using child labor and engaging in other human rights abuses, but Human
Rights Watch’s findings suggest serious gaps in carrying out and
monitoring these policies in Zimbabwe. Tobacco companies should
explicitly prohibit direct contact by children with tobacco in any
form, conduct regular and rigorous human rights monitoring in the
supply chain, and report transparently on their findings, Human Rights
Watch said.

One of the most serious health risks in tobacco farming is acute
nicotine poisoning, or Green Tobacco Sickness, caused by absorbing
nicotine through the skin from tobacco plants. The 14 child workers
interviewed, and most of the adults, said they had experienced at
least one symptom consistent with acute nicotine poisoning – nausea,
vomiting, headaches, or dizziness – while handling tobacco.

“Davidzo,” a 15-year-old worker said, “The first day I started working
in tobacco, that’s when I vomited.” He said he felt especially sick
when he carried the harvested leaves. “I started to feel like I was
spinning,” he said. “Since I started this [work], I always feel
headaches and I feel dizzy.” The long-term effects have not been
studied, but research on smoking suggests that nicotine exposure
during childhood and adolescence may affect brain development.

Zimbabwean law sets 16 as the minimum age for employment and prohibits
children under 18 from performing hazardous work, but does not
specifically ban children from handling tobacco. The labor ministry
told Human Rights Watch that it had not documented any cases of child
labor in the tobacco industry.

Almost no one interviewed had ever heard of acute nicotine poisoning
or received information about how to protect themselves. “You fall
sick, but you don’t know what it is,” said one 43-year-old farmer.
Children and adults interviewed also handled toxic pesticides, often
without proper protective equipment. Others were exposed to pesticides
while someone else applied them nearby.

Human Rights Watch also found that some workers on large-scale farms
worked excessive hours without overtime compensation, or that their
wages were withheld for weeks or months, in violation of Zimbabwean
labor law and regulations. Some workers said they were paid less than
they were owed or promised, without explanation. A cash shortage in
recent years has crippled Zimbabwe’s economy.

There are no agriculture-specific health and safety protections in
Zimbabwean law or regulations, though the government is working with
trade unions and other groups to develop occupational safety and
health regulations for agriculture.

Zimbabwe has just 120 labor inspectors for the whole country.
Farmworker union organizers told Human Rights Watch that they were
concerned that the government lacked the resources and personnel for
effective labor inspections.

“People we interviewed were shocked when they heard about how
dangerous tobacco work is and were anxious to learn how to protect
themselves, their children and their workers,” Wurth said. “The
‘golden leaf’ will only live up to its name when the authorities and
tobacco companies confront the serious human rights problems on
tobacco farms.”

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Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio Is Sierra Leone’s New President
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Mohamed Bangura

President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

President Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio

The final result for the Run off of the Presidential election in Sierra Leone was announced on Wednesday the 4th of April 2018 at 10pm.The Announcement was made by the Chairman of the National Electoral Commissioner Mr Mohamed Nfa Alie Conteh at the Electoral commission Headquarters in Freetown. Foreign and local observers,Consular and Diplomatic cores and members of the local and foreign press were in attendance when the announcement was made, both parties, The Sierra Leone Peoples party SLPP and the All peoples Congress Party APC were both claiming victory and both parties supporters were celebrating victory in the streets of Freetown making the whole populace of the country in a confused mood not knowing who really is the right winner of the election.

The chairman of the National Electoral Commission started by thanking the foreign observers,Press and the general public for help making the electoral process a reality.He said the total voters  turn out of the Run off election was 2,578,271 representing 81.11% and the valid votes cast 2,546,577 representing 98.76% and the invalid votes cast was 36,694 representing 1.24%.

The full breakdown for each presidential candidates were as follows..Dr Mathew Wilson Samura Kamara for the All Peoples Congress Party APC vote cast 1,227,171 representing 48.19% and the Retired Brigadier Julius Maada Bio of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party SLPP votes cast  1,319,406 representing 51.24%.

According to the Constitution of Sierra Leone only the Chairman of the National Electoral Commission has the power to pronounce a winner as president and that what exactly the returning NEC officer Mr Mohamed Nfa Alie did as he announced the Retired Brigadier Juluis Maada Bio as the duly elected president of the Republic of Sierra Leone as he defeated  Dr Mathew Wilson Samura Kamara.

Retired Brigadier Maada Bio was sworn in as President hours after the Result was announced at the Radisson Blue Hotel and Dr Samura Kamara also congratulated the newly elected President. Supporters of the Sierra Leone Peoples Party are celebration throughout the country and the supporters and sympathizers of the defeated All Peoples Party are trying hard to cope with the atmosphere in welcoming the newly elected president

 

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Zimbabwe’s tourism authorities invite potential investors to establish hotel facilities at country’s main international airport
April 5, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Mr Givemore Chidzidzi

Mr Givemore Chidzidzi

Potential investors and other interested have been called upon to
consider establishing hotel and other accommodation facilities which
are currently lacking at Zimbabwe’s main entry port now called the
Robert Gabriel Mugabe international airport and formerly Harare
international airport.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Chief Operating Officer, Givemore
Chidzidzi told participants and potential investors at a Harare City
Council investment conference that unlike other countries, regionally
and internationally, Zimbabwe’s main port of entry lacked hotel
facilities to accommodate passengers who would have been stranded or
wishing to take rest or further connect to other destinations.

The conference was hosted by the City of Harare to attract
potential investors for the development of the city.
Chidzidzi also added that at least three potential investors had
shown interest in establishing hotel facilities at the country’s main
airport.It is also reported that Harare City council had indicated
that land was available for potential investors interested to carry
out the project.

Regional and international airports like the Oliver Tambo
international airport in South Africa boast of superb hotel facilities
located in close proximity to accommodate travellers.
The airport in South Africa hosts thousands of travellers and
visitors on daily basis and also Harare airport is being upgraded to
international standards and should also move with time providing much
needed accommodation for travellers.

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African Food Security Prize Launched to Stop Devastating Crop Pest
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Feed the Future seeks digital solutions to help stop the spread of Fall Armyworm across Africa
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, April 4th, 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA) /- Feed the Future, supported by Land O’Lakes International Development and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, has opened its call for applications for the Fall Armyworm Tech Prize. The prize offers to fund up to $400,000 in digital solutions that aim to help stop the spread of fall armyworm in Africa-a pest that is devastating agriculture and demolishing billions of dollars’ worth of crops across the continent. Selected digital solutions will strengthen resilience against fall armyworm and mitigate risks to food security across the continent.

Fall armyworm attacks over 80 different plant species. Agriculture experts estimate the pest could cause between $2.4 and $6.2 billion in losses for maize, a major staple crop in Africa on which more than 200 million people depend. Crops like sorghum, rice, and sugarcane are also at risk. Unchecked, fall armyworm is a threat to the livelihoods of farmers and to food security across the continent.

How the prizes will be awarded:

● One grand prize of $150,000 will be awarded to the most viable solution

● Two awards of $75,000 for the most promising solutions

● Two runner-up awards of $50,000 for early stage developments that show potential

Applications may involve a range of digital solutions and must demonstrate how the proposed tool(s) will help smallholder farmers and those that reach them, such as extension agents, monitor, identify, treat or report the incidence of fall armyworm.

The application deadline is 14 May 2018 via https://fallarmywormtech.challenges.org/. The Prize welcomes entries from around the world that are specific to the context of fall armyworm in Africa. Final prize awards will be announced later this year.

● Full terms and conditions and judging criteria are available at fallarmyworm.challenges.org● Prizes are a tried and tested method for supporting innovation. They offer a reward to those who can first or most effectively deliver a defined result. They act as an incentive for meeting a specific target. Prizes are also a means of opening up the process of solving a problem beyond the ‘usual suspects,’ thus facilitating the engagement and participation of anyone who can solve the problem.

● About fall armyworm:

○ Fall armyworm poses a serious threat to Africa’s food security. Native to the Americas, it was first identified in Africa in 2016. It is now present across sub-Saharan Africa in more than 35 countries. It is on the precipice of devastating food staples as it quickly spreads across the continent.

○ Differing from other types of armyworm present on the continent, like African armyworm, it eats the vegetative as well as the reproductive parts of plants, rendering further crop growth impossible.

○ In the Americas it has, to an extent, been contained through the use of genetically modified (GM) seeds and crops alongside judicious pesticide spraying. Many effective and fall armyworm-specific pesticides have been registered for use in the Americas. However, no pesticides have been fully registered specifically for fall armyworm in Africa, resulting in the use of unregistered and illegal pesticides, or pesticides meant to treat other invasive pests.

○ The female fall armyworm can lay up to 1,000 eggs at a time and can produce multiple generations very quickly without pause in tropical environments.

○ If allowed to reach maturity, female fall armyworm moths can fly distances up to 1,600 kilometers in 30 hours (almost 1,000 miles)

About the partners

Feed the Future: Feed the Future, America’s global hunger and food security initiative, aims to transform lives toward a world where people no longer face extreme poverty, undernutrition and hunger. To achieve this, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the cycle of poverty and hunger.

Land O’Lakes International Development: Land O’Lakes International Development is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that leverages the farm-to-fork expertise of Land O’Lakes, Inc. to unlock the potential of agriculture to empower the developing world. Since 1981, Land O’Lakes International Development has implemented over 300 dairy, livestock and crops development programs in nearly 80 countries.

Nesta’s Challenge Prize Centre: Nesta is a pioneer in the use of prizes to accelerate innovation for public good. Nesta is a global innovation foundation. We back new ideas to tackle the big challenges of our time, making use of our knowledge, networks, funding and skills. We work in partnership with others, including governments, businesses and charities. We are a UK charity that works all over the world, supported by a financial endowment. To find out more visit www.nesta.org.uk. Nesta is a registered charity in England and Wales 1144091 and Scotland SC042833.

Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research: The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization established by bipartisan congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.
Learn more: www.foundationfar.org | Connect: @FoundationFAR

DAI Founded in 1970, DAI is a global development company with corporate offices in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. Named one of the world’s top 40 international development innovators, DAI works on the front lines of international development, tackling fundamental social and economic development problems caused by inefficient markets, ineffective governance, and instability.

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Mastercard appoints new Sub-Saharan Africa Division President
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments
Raghav Prasad

Raghav Prasad

Sub-Saharan Africa, April 4th 2018 -/African Media Agency (AMA)/- Spurred on by the company’s steady growth in Sub-Saharan Africa and in line with its focus on investing in the continent, Mastercard has appointed Raghav Prasad as Division President for Sub-Saharan Africa. Prasad will strengthen the company’s ongoing commitment to delivering value to customers and consumers in Africa by leveraging technology to build stronger and more inclusive payment ecosystems.

Prasad brings his extensive 30-year global financial services and payments industry experience to further Mastercard’s goal of financially including 100 million people by 2020 – an objective that can only be achieved by working with partners across the public and private sectors and by introducing market-relevant digital payment solutions such as Masterpass QR, Mastercard Payment Gateway Services along with its core Debit, Credit, Prepaid and Commercial solutions.

With a proven track record as a leader, Prasad has a deep understanding of the payments sector, and brings unique insights into the region honed while running his own consulting practice focusing on the Middle East and Africa as well as working for global players like Citibank and RBS.

“The influence and true potential of technology is seen on the continent like almost nowhere else in the world. Africa has an amazing advantage of not having invested in legacy infrastructure and can embrace the latest technologies, especially mobile, to transform the payments landscape. Technology innovation is influencing the way consumers engage with the world around them, shaping economies, creating smarter, more connected and financially inclusive cities,” said Prasad.

Mobile continues to act as a critical conduit of growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, currently accounting for nearly a tenth of the global mobile subscriber base and is predicted to grow faster than any other region globally over the next five years. Additionally, the World Bank estimates that over 64 million adults in the region already have a mobile money account – making it the most easily accessible technology for those currently excluded from the formal financial services sector.

It also serves as an increasingly important tool for the continent’s growing youth population. Africa will become the youngest and most populous continent in the next few decades, according to the Africa Development Bank Outlook 2018 Report. Its labour force will expand to nearly two billion in 2063, a trend that is supported by the fact that over 12 million young people join the workforce every year.

Prasad predicts that the demographic dividend of a large young and tech-savvy population will lead to many of these youth starting up businesses of their own, and becoming job creators. “Our work in supporting the MSME sector is critical to our role in Africa, and solutions such as Masterpass QR are turning the tide on cash dependency as well as helping millions of merchants to go digital for the first time. This is more attractive for businesses and consumers alike – and we see youth being a key driver of the adoption of new technologies now, and in the future”

Mastercard (NYSE: MA), www.mastercard.com, is a technology company in the global payments industry. Our global payments processing network connects consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. Mastercard products and solutions make everyday commerce activities – such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances – easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone.

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IGD’s U.S. Roadshow Special Reception to Officially Launch Four-City Tour and Announce Partnership with African Development Bank on Africa Investment Forum
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, to deliver remarks on private sector engagement to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities 

IGD President Mima S. Nedelcovych meets with AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and leadership team

IGD President Mima S. Nedelcovych meets with AfDB President Akinwumi Adesina and leadership team

WASHINGTON, D.C. – April 4, 2018 –  The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) will officially launch its inaugural Africa Investment Rising Roadshow Tour with a Special Reception on Wednesday, April 18 from 6:00-7:30PM at the Senate Dirksen Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

Charles Boamah, Senior Vice-President of the African Development Bank, will announce the Bank’s partnership with IGD on the Africa Investment Forum (AIF), which will take place in early-November in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is an initiative championed by the Bank to actively engage the private sector and to facilitate projects that have the capacity of transforming the continent. Boamah is leading a delegation of Senior Bank Management to the Spring World Bank/IMF Meetings.

Boamah will offer remarks on the U.S. private sector’s role in accelerating Africa’s investment opportunities at the Capitol Hill reception.

The U.S. roadshow tour, “Africa Investment Rising: Building Momentum for Investing in Africa’s Economic Prosperity”, taking place from April 18-May 1, is aimed at re-shaping perceptions on doing business in Africa by bringing trade and investment opportunities to U.S. companies and forging stronger connections between U.S. and African business leaders in key growth sectors.

Launching in Washington, D.C., the roadshow tour will travel to New York Cityto highlight banking, financing, and investment opportunities; Des Moines, IAfor agriculture and agro-industry; and Houston, TX for energy and power.

The full roadshow tour will ultimately culminate in Johannesburg, South Africa, where roadshow attendees are invited to attend the IGD Frontier 100 Forum on Nov. 5-6, followed by the African Development Bank’s Africa Investment Forum (AIF) from Nov. 7-9, in Johannesburg, South Africa. The AIF is designed to enhance private-sector cooperation and drive investment in sectors of strategic interest within Africa.

“IGD is pleased to build on our partnership with the African Development Bank through the U.S. Roadshow Tour to accelerate Africa’s investment opportunities and help attract private capital to the continent,” said Dr. Mima S. Nedelcovych.

“By bringing U.S. investors to the Bank’s investment forum, they will learn firsthand about bankable projects and will have the opportunities to broker deals that will deliver economic transformation in Africa,” said Nedelcovych.

The African Development Bank (AfDB) Group and USAID’s East Africa and Southern Africa Trade and Investment Hubs are Sponsors of the U.S. Roadshow Tour.

Platinum sponsors as ChevronNorton, Rose and Fulbright LLPIowa State University Research ParkAGCOLilium Capital, and Orrick; Gold sponsors, SasolCorteva AgriscienceEndeavor Energy, and AllAfrica.com as Gold sponsors; and World Food Prize Foundation and Millennium Challenge Corporation as Silver sponsors.

Organizational Partners are PAN Diaspora Capital ManagementHarris Africa Partners/Grant T. Harris, The Serendra Group LLC/Robert van Zwieten, U.S. Bilateral African Chamber of CommerceGlobal Farmer NetworkU.S. Small Business Administration, and Invest Africa.

Media partners are Africa InvestorAfrica.com, Africa Business magazineAfropop WorldwideAlloAfricaNews.comAllAfrica.comAsoko InsightFace2Face Africa,   innov8tiv.comPan-African Visions, and VoxAfrica.
The Initiative for Global Development (IGD) is a Washington, DC-based network of African and global business leaders who are committed to advancing sustainable development and inclusive growth in Africa through business investment. IGD brings together CEOs and senior executives from leading African and global companies through our Frontier Leader Network to catalyze greater business investment and impact on the African continent.

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Israel Reverses Course Hours After Signing U.N. Deal To Resettle African Migrants
April 4, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Sarah Ruiz-Grossman*

Eritrean refugees protest against the Eritrean government outside the nation's embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. (Baz Ratner / Reuters)

Eritrean refugees protest against the Eritrean government outside the nation’s embassy in Tel Aviv, Israel, in 2015. (Baz Ratner / Reuters)

Less than a day after the Israeli government announced a deal with the United Nations’ refugee agency to resettle more than 16,000 African migrants and grant legal status to others, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suspended and then definitively scrapped the deal.

Early on Monday, the Israeli government and the U.N. agency, formally known as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, revealed the outlines of a deal they’d signed concerning the status of more than 34,000 undocumented Eritreans and Sudanese living in Israel. Under the agreement, more than 16,000 would resettle in other countries, largely in Europe. The rest would receive legal status in Israel.

By Monday night, however, Netanyahu had walked back the announcement, saying on Facebook that the deal would be put on hold until further review. On Tuesday, he announced the deal was dead.

“I have listened carefully to the many comments on the agreement. As a result, and after I again weighed the advantages and disadvantages, I decided to cancel the deal,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement.

The Israeli prime minister’s reversal came after a backlash from right-wing politicians and some residents of southern Tel Aviv, where many Eritreans and Sudanese have settled.

Most of the Eritrean and Sudanese people living in Israel have fled war and persecution in their countries of origin. The area of southern Tel Aviv, where many reside, is “economically challenged” with “unemployment and social tension,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told HuffPost on Monday.

Spindler said that Eritrean and Sudanese people in Israel should be considered refugees, not migrants, as they left their homes to escape persecution and war. He also noted that Israel, as the receiving nation, has only in a very few cases processed and officially designated the migrants as refugees.

“It is with regret that UNHCR notes cancellation by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the Israel-UNHCR Agreement,” the U.N. agency wrote in a statement on Tuesday. “We encourage the Government of Israel to consider the matter further, while standing ready to be of help.”

The deal between Israel and the UNHCR, which was to be carried out over the next five years, had rested on the agency’s ability to relocate some 16,000 of the refugees to “developed” countries where the agency has resettlement programs ― including in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Australia, Spindler told HuffPost. As of Monday, no country had officially agreed to take in any of those refugees.

The agreement had also included support services for the African migrants who would be staying legally in Israel, Spindler said, including vocational training to help them find employment beyond southern Tel Aviv.

Per the agreement, Israel would no longer pursue its “non-voluntary relocation policy,” according to a U.N. release.

Earlier this year, Israel had announced a plan to force undocumented African migrants to “voluntarily” leave the country by the end of March or risk being detained. The plan would provide $3,500 to migrants to relocate to countries in sub-Saharan Africa. At the time, the UNHCR criticized the policy as one that left migrants in unsafe conditions. Israel’s high court blocked the policy’s implementation through a temporary order in mid-March.

*Huff Post

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