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Covidhero: Zimbabwean Lady Feeds Thousands Of Hungry Children
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Samantha has provided food to people in thousands during the lockdown in Zimbabwe.Photo credit Jekesai Njikizana,AFP,Getty Images
Samantha has provided food to people in thousands during the lockdown in Zimbabwe.Photo credit Jekesai Njikizana,AFP,Getty Images

Heroes often emerge during tumultuous times. In Zimbabwe, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen one heroine emerging. Her name Samantha Nyasha Muzoroki. With the little that she has, Samantha has been feeding thousands of families mostly children every day since Zimbabwe put in place a national lockdown in the early months of 2020.

In her own words, Samantha says, “Feeding thousands of families in my hometown, Chitungwiza, on the outskirts of Harare, has become my life since the start of the lockdown in Zimbabwe. Seeing smiles on the faces of women and girls is fulfilling.”

Samantha says her relief kitchen initiative really started modestly. With the sole aim of giving children a good start to their day, she decided to serve free porridge to the vulnerable in her community. As soon as she started, more and more children began to visit her home each morning for a scoop of her nutritious porridge. In no time, adults also started trickling in. Assessing the situation that most of these people were in, Samantha quickly decided to serve two meals each day, breakfast and supper. For breakfast, she continued serving porridge (and occasionally bread when porridge runs out) and for supper she serves sadza (Zimbabwe’s staple food).

As the national lockdown continues dragging for long, the numbers of people who are dependent on her meals continue increasing. In the early days, hundreds were served but now, Samantha’s kitchen now serves close to 3000 each day.

At the very first, Samantha says she “started with a 2kg packet of rice and 500g of beans.” As the numbers of those in need of a meal increased by each day and as her savings were dwindling, she had to barter her jeans and sneakers with food supplies.” Her compassion however has since encouraged the corporate world and some individuals to chip in and help her with food supplies.

Bread Company Lobels has chipped in on occasions donating bread. Other companies that have made donations include EzuluFoods, Chicken Hut, N. Richards Group, Clean City, Quick Fresh, Health Factor Zimbabwe and Fresh in a Box.

Other individuals have also been inspired by Samantha and they have since launched their own relief kitchens’ in their respective communities. In Victoria Falls, some officers in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, local municipality officers, members from the business community and other individuals have joined hands to launch the Victoria Falls Children’s Feeding Scheme. The Scheme has one aim which is to provide every child with a hot, nutritious meal 5 days a week.

The diplomatic community has also been inspired by the work being done by Samantha. The Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe made a donation of hand sanitizers and pairs of gloves.

For all those who have chipped in, in helping her with the relief kitchen, Samantha said she is thankful. “I am thankful for the community of Chitungwiza and the world wide community.”

In the early days, Samantha did encounter some challenges as she was shut down by the local council authorities for operating an illegal relief kitchen. However, the differences were ironed out and her relief kitchen is now registered as Kuchengetana Trust. In an interview with a local publication VUKR, Samantha said that she will take her initiative beyond the lockdown when lifted, “Definitely, we are now registered as a trust ‘Kuchengetana Trust’. There is no way I could ever turn back on what we have built in the last couple of months. I have dreams so pronounced I am eager to deliver. I plan to make self sustenance the order of the day. I get goose bumps when I think about it. Social development projects and facilitation of them are my main objectives.”

Children queue for food outside the kitchen of Murozoki in Zimbabwe.Photo CNN
Children queue for food outside the kitchen of Murozoki in Zimbabwe.Photo CNN

With regards to self sustenance, Samantha says she “envision a future where a woman is self-sufficient. I have been talking with some of the women about ideas to help start income generating projects.” She does acknowledge that this is something which requires a lot of resources especially financial resources but is hopeful the desired resources will come.

Samantha is helped by willing volunteers in her relief kitchen. Some prominent individuals including renowned Urban Grooves musician Rockford Josphats aka Roki have helped her serve meals to the thousands who visit her relief kitchen on each day of the week. Some who visit her kitchen in need of a meal often are moved by her work and they end up staying to volunteer. One such person is Anastencia Hove. After visiting the relief kitchen for a meal, Anastencia Hove says she “was moved by her (Samantha) love. It is rare to find people who think about others. So I said as a token of my appreciation for her support, I should volunteer. This lockdown has not spared us at all, so people are suffering. The number of people I see here shows that many are hungry.”

Samantha is an immigration lawyer by profession and a business lady.

*Culled from August Issue of PAV Magazine

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Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani Joins the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani
Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani
Rolake will be advising and supporting the African Energy Chamber within its Investment and Energy Transition Committees.

 Leading and prominent African energy expert and finance executive Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani has joined the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board for 2020 and 2021. Rolake will be advising and supporting the African Energy Chamber within its Investment and Energy Transition Committees.

Currently Managing Director of EnergyInc Advisors and Senior Africa Advisor for the IFU Danish Investment Fund, Rolake brings years of experience providing financial and strategic advisory services to the public and private sector in oil and gas and power. She has built a track record of helping to finance, invest in and successfully scale businesses across Africa’s energy sector.

“Rolake has critical experience in the financing and scaling up of gas and renewable energy companies, which is just what our continent needs at the moment,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber. “Rolake represents the next generation of African business women who is playing the most critical role in shaping the future of our industry.”

Rolake also sits on the global advisory board of Canadian Private Equity firm, Stonechair Capital advising on its #EnergyAfrica Fund for Sub-Sahara Africa. She was previously the head of energy and natural resources for FBN Capital and FBNQuest Merchant Bank, Nigeria’s oldest financial services group, where she helped energy, and oil and gas companies raise debt and equity capital. From 2017-19 she was also a member of the private sector economic advisory group in the Office of the Vice President of Nigeria, working closely with the Chief Economic Adviser to the President on a range of national development policy issues.

For her significant contribution to Africa’s growth story, Rolake was recognized in the United Nations’ MIPAD Top 100 (Most Influential People of African Descent) Under 40, in the Business & Entrepreneurship Class of 2018, and was listed in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Choiseul Institute’s (France) top 200 Under-40 Young Economic Leaders in Africa.

Rolake has a BSc and MSc degree from the London School of Economics (LSE), and a global executive MBA from TRIUM.

*African Energy Chamber
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WPEC Launches ‘Titans Tank’ to reward best African and African American female entrepreneurs
August 11, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Women’s Program Engagement Council (WPEC) aka “Africa’s Titans®”, is a Global Sustainable Partnerships (GSP) Global Initiative designed to help African and African American women entrepreneurs and business owners expand into new markets, today launches a new initiative christened ‘Titans Tank.’

Titans Tank will entail a virtual business competition to allow women entrepreneurs to pitch their ideas and existing business to the public and the WPEC community. The top five businesses will be selected to participate in the final. These women will get the rare opportunity to showcase their ideas, products, or services to judges and potential investors. To apply, please click on  LINK
According to Kimberly L. Fogg the Founder and Chair of (WPEC), the goal of WPEC is to work with investors to help them look at women entrepreneurs through a “new lens” as it relates to the value of investing in women and to ensure their voices are represented, recognized and championed for their role as innovators, job creators, entrepreneurs, mentors, while helping raise awareness that these women have longevity in the local, national and global markets.

Kimberly noted that the campaign will invite African and African American women entrepreneurs and business owners globally to send in a short video of their idea or existing business. “We will showcase this on all our social media platforms including @TWPEC Facebook page and LinkedIn in the week of August 17th. The judges will select the top five “Titans” and the winner will be announced on Sept 26th 2020.”

In keeping with the theme of Africa’s Titans® the competition will focus on two categories.

  • Titans in Innovation, Technology, and Communication Connectivity
  • Titans in Banking, Business, Investments, and Marketing

WPEC is looking to partner with key female representatives of major Fortune 500 companies, African leaders, company founders, philanthropists, key policymakers and business leaders to serve as mentors to share their journeys through the private and public sector spaces describing not only their successes, but also identifying policy gaps, challenges, obstacles and suggested solutions for future best practices.

WPEC is an innovative social entrepreneurship organization comprised of a global network of women leaders who play a pivotal role in the global support of getting more women in managerial/executive positions and on corporate boards, with a mission of developing, growing, and sustaining women leadership in their own businesses globally. WPEC operates globally through building a committed global black woman led Africa’s Titans® network of entrepreneurs and business owners who are utilizing innovation to drive global sustainable development, addressing existing socio-economic gaps, and integrating social impact in the continent of Africa and the Diaspora through allocating a percentage of their funding to GSP as their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) partner. WPEC works with investors to help them understand the shift in paradigm of development and facilitate local/foreign direct investments through a “new lens” as it relates to the value of investing in women/women-owned businesses who have longevity in the local, national and global markets.

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Mali: Oumou Sangaré tops World Music Charts Europe
August 9, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Oumou Sangaré

Malian Oumou Sangaré has claimed the No 1 spot on the World Music Charts Europe(link is external) (WMCE) with her album titled Acoustic.

Acoustic rose 13 places after making its entry on the chart at No 14 in July. The offering is essentially an unplugged version of her 2017 release Mogoya. The album was released digitally on 19 June through record label No Format.

“I suggested to Oumou that she record this album after a show in London to celebrate 15 years of No Format,” No Format founder Laurent Bizot said. “At that concert, for the first time, she had agreed to try out this acoustic approach, which is all about letting go. The space it created for her voice was wonderful.”

The Pace Setters, a reissue of Ghanaian band Edikanfo’s 1981 LP, ranks second after its debut on the chart at No 7 in July.

Making its entry at No 4 is The King of Sudanese Jazz by musician Sharhabil Ahmed via the Habibi Funk label. The seven tracks were recorded in the 1960s and feature a mix of rock and roll, funk, surf rock, traditional Sudanese music and Congolese rumba.

Maghreb K7 Club: Synth Raï, Chaoui & Staiif (1985-1997) is another newcomer on the chart ranking at No 7. The album features an impressive compilation of music recorded and produced between 1985 and 1997 by musicians from the Maghreb region in Algeria.

Further down, Santrofi’s Alewa – the No 1 album in July – drops to No 9, while Tamotait by Tuareg band Tamikrest from Mali fell eight positions to No 13. The album was at the top of the chart in June.

At No 17 is Afropentatonism by Nigerien desert blues musician Alhousseini Anivolla and Ethiopian jazz guitarist Girum Mezmur. The pan-African project dropped six places after debuting at No 11 last month.

Nayda! by Bab L’Bluz from Morocco completes the list of African albums on the chart with a debut at No 18. Real World Records says the album features “a new wave of Moroccan artists and musicians taking their cues from local heritage, singing words of freedom in the Moroccan-Arabic dialect of darija (‘nayda’ means both ‘to rise up’ and ‘to party’) and mixing influences as and when.”

The WMCE features albums selected by radio producers and presenters across Europe. The albums are then played for a month on various radio stations, and an official poster is displayed in multiple music stores.

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Gambia:Vice President Touray tested Positive for Covid19
July 29, 2020 | 0 Comments
Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray

The Office of the President informs the public that Her Excellency, the Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray has been tested positive for COVID-19. Consequently, the President, Adama Barrow will be on self-isolation with immediate effect for two weeks.

The public is reminded that the Coronavirus is real and exists in The Gambia. The public is advised to properly use face masks, maintain regular hand washing and social distancing in the fight against the virus. Stay at home and stay safe.

* State House Gambia

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Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) confirms Chief Executive Officer
July 24, 2020 | 0 Comments
Victoria Sabula
Appointment of Victoria Sabula as its permanent Chief Executive Officer.

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) announced today the appointment of Victoria Sabula as its permanent Chief Executive Officer.

It follows her appointment as Interim Chief Executive Officer in August 2019 after serving as AGRA’s General Counsel and Corporation Secretary for five years and previously holding several positions at KCB Bank Group.

Hixonia Nyasulu, Board Chair said:

“On behalf of the Board, I am delighted to confirm that Victoria Sabula has been appointed AECF’s Chief Executive Officer.  This decision follows a rigorous recruitment process conducted with an international consulting firm where Victoria rose to the top of a very strong field of candidates.”

“Victoria impressed the board with her strategic vision, depth of management expertise, and proven track record both at AECF as interim CEO, and previously at AGRA and KCB Group.”

Victoria Sabula, Chief Executive Officer of AECF, said:

“I am absolutely delighted to have been appointed as Chief Executive Officer of AECF after having had the opportunity of leading the organisation as interim CEO for the last year.”

“AECF has remained true to its founding purpose which was to make systems work for the poor in sub-Sahara Africa. AECF remains committed to leaving no one behind and we will continue to push the boundaries, being intentional that our investments present opportunities for women, and truly bring the benefits of private sector to low-income households.”

Prior to joining The AECF, Victoria served as AGRA’s General Counsel and Corporation Secretary providing strategic oversight on legal advisory, compliance, risk management and governance for AGRA’s programmatic activities across sub-Saharan Africa. Starting her career with Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Group, Victoria is a senior institutional leader with C-Suite experience in both private sector and non-profit sector.

Victoria holds a Bachelor of Law (LLB) Degree from Moi University, a post Graduate Diploma in Law from Kenya School of Law, a diploma in Human Resource Management from Kenya Institute of Management and a Master’s in Business Administration from Nazarene University. In 2015 she was named in the Legal 500’s General Counsel Power List Africa, which recognizes the top 100 corporate counsels in Africa.

The Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF) is a non-profit institution that supports early and growth-stage businesses in the agribusiness and renewable energy sectors to reduce poverty, promote resilient communities, and create jobs through private sector investments.

Since 2008, AECF has invested in 268 businesses across sub-Sahara Africa focusing on Agribusiness, Renewable Energy and Climate Technologies. As of 2019, we have impacted more than 17 million lives and created over 12,000 jobs and leveraged over US$ 750 million in matching funds from the private sector. AECF is headquartered in Kenya with offices in Cote d’Ivoire and Tanzania.
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Africa can tackle medical supply shortages through a regional response
July 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Jennifer Freedman

Dorothy Tembo, ITC’s ad interim Executive Director

Africa can position itself strategically and develop a regional response to avoid healthcare product shortages similar to those triggered by the Covid-19 crisis. That’s the main message of Medical Industries in Africa: A Regional Response to Supply Shortages, a new International Trade Centre (ITC) report.

The Covid-19 pandemic has severely burdened the global health system, driving a surge in demand for medical supplies such as masks, gowns and gloves. The World Health Organization warned in early March that international production of such goods – known as personal protective equipment – would have to ramp up by 40% to meet demand.

Africa sources just 8% of its health-related products from African suppliers. But the continent can become competitive in some of these goods while combating the crisis and building its own resilience to future pandemics, the ITC report finds. The African Continental Free Trade Agreement has a key role to play in supporting the regional medical industry, it adds.

“We examine the potential of the African medical supply industry and show how trade can be an important element of the continent’s health response, both in the short and long term,” says Dorothy Tembo, ITC’s ad interim Executive Director. “We suggest a strategic mix of open markets, diversified procurement and stronger regional value chains” to  position Africa strategically in the future trade landscape of the global medical industry while safeguarding the health of Africans.

Keeping the regional market open for essential health products is critical, the report says. ITC business surveys on non-tariff measures have found that companies in Africa frequently struggle to import medical supplies because of inspections and customs charges. In addition, tariffs are relatively high: African countries apply a 10.3% average tariff on these items, compared with 7.9% in non-African developing economies and 2.9% in developed countries.

The report urges African governments to review import regulations and consider temporarily lifting tariffs, taxes and other restrictions that hinder access to these goods – especially as the continent has limited sources of such products.

Regional value chains would help diversify global supply

That’s why it’s also important to diversify suppliers, the report notes. Africa imports roughly 90% of its medical products from the European Union, China and India.

The report urges policymakers to consider regional suppliers with export growth potential. Diversifying would reduce the impact of export restrictions on essential goods and make the continent less dependent on just a handful of foreign suppliers. The report identifies Egypt, Ghana and South Africa as viable alternatives for products such as disinfectants and adhesive bandages.

Governments also should help build up Africa’s capacity to produce key medical supplies by developing regional value chains, the report says. Although the continent produces many of the inputs used to manufacture health-related products – such as rubber, fabrics and ethanol – these goods are often exported without any transformation.

Policymakers could support the development of regional value chains by channeling investments into these sectors, the report says. Furthermore, they could leverage negotiations in the context of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) to keep trade functioning smoothly along these value chains – for instance, making sure these vital goods trade duty-free within Africa and that other regulations are harmonized.

“Tariff cuts and trade facilitation measures to support the free flow of health products and their ingredients regionally will be an important step in supporting regional value chains in selected medical products,” the report says. “Such measures will help build the continent’s resilience to global health crises and diversify the global supply. It remains important for the AfCFTA negotiations and implementation to prioritize these aspects.”

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Kenya:Woman charged will illegal possession of ammunition
July 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

A Kenyan woman has been charged for being in possession of 30 rounds of ammunition.

Appearing before Embu Principal Magistrate Henry Nyakwemba, Loise Muthoni pleaded not guilty claiming the ammunitions belong to his lover who allegedly let them in her house without her knowledge.

She was released on Sh.50, 000 cash bail or Sh.100, 000 bond with a surety of similar amount.

Muthoni’s plea to have her bond terms reduced fell into deaf years after the Magistrate turned down her request.

 “You should have investigated the character of your boyfriend before falling in love with him. I can’t reduce the bond because what you are telling the court cannot be ascertained since the dangerous items were allegedly found in your house,” emphasized Nyakwemba.

The suspect was arrested on July 19 in Embu West Sub-County, Eastern of Kenya. The police discovered the bullets wrapped with a magazine in her house.

The case will be heard on August 19, 2020.

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Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa, ImpactHER and UN Women Policy Brief exposes disadvantages to women entrepreneurs in post COVID-19 era, offers solutions
July 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

Women-led businesses are more vulnerable to closure than those led by men in the era of the novel coronavirus, due to women’s limited access to finance, shifts in consumer behavior, and the increase in women’s household care responsibilities as a result of extended lockdowns.

All across the continent, the coronavirus pandemic is wreaking economic havoc and hitting women the hardest, with women-led Small and Medium-sized Enterprises(SMEs) at greater risk of closure as they tend to be smaller and on average, operate in lower profit margin, service-based industries.

These and other important findings of a new policy brief highlighting policy solutions to support women-led businesses in Africa in a post COVID-19 world, were released during a webinar organized Wednesday 15 July by the African Development Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) program, working with UN Women(link is external) and ImpactHER(link is external).

“The compilation and analysis of real time data is crucial as Africa responds to the pandemic. The surveying of women-led businesses from across sectors and industries provides opportunity to have targeted interventions aimed at keeping these vital contributors to African economies afloat,” said Esther Dassanou, AFAWA Coordinator.

The brief, titled ‘Transformative policy solutions to support women-led businesses in Africa in a post Covid-19 world,” contained results of an ImpactHER survey of more than 1,300 women-owned SMEs in 30 African countries on the impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. Over 200 participants joined in the virtual webinar, which was moderated by UN Women’s Elena Ruiz, Women’s Economic Empowerment Regional Policy Advisor for West and Central Africa.

“The policy brief and the discussion have put on the table strategies that work for women entrepreneurs in the region. We hope this will contribute to make sure that women entrepreneurs and women-led businesses are at the centre of COVID19 recovery plans, and to help governments and other actors build a post-COVID economy that challenges, rather than reproduces, gender inequalities,” Ruiz noted.

Panelists in Wednesday’s seminar were Ada Udechukwu, Head of Women’s Banking at Access Bank, Nigeria; Efe Ukala, Founder of ImpactHer; Sylvia Natukunda, Founder & CEO of yogurt company Farm Reap in Uganda; Kosi Yankey, Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries in Ghana and Dr. Boutheina Ben Yaghlane Ben Slimane, Director General, Caisse of Deposits & Consignments in Tunisia.

They shared perspectives from government, private sector and banking on how women-led businesses in tourism, trade, retail, hospitality, education, personal care and similar sectors have suffered as result of COVID-19, and offered recommendations for immediate, short- and medium-term solutions to mitigate the impact on women-led businesses.

“ImpactHER commissioned the survey to allow it to provide practical solutions to women-led businesses,” Efe Ukala, its founder, said. “So far, ImpactHER has offered resilience training, custom business advisory services including financial forecasting, valuation, company restructuring, rebranding, etc., technology tools such as e-commerce websites which are critical to ensure the viability of women entrepreneurs in a post-COVID era.” ImpactHER has provided such support to over 3,000 women entrepreneurs in over 25 African countries, Ukala noted.

The panelists also showcased solutions in action, such as the African Development Bank’s recent approval of a loan of 264 million euros to help support the Moroccan government to mitigate the health and socio-economic crisis brought on by the pandemic. Parts of these funds will go towards mobilizing financial resources for women-owned enterprises whose cash flow has deteriorated due to declining activity. Through Bank Al-Maghrib, women-owned SMEs will have access to guarantees that cover 95% of the credit amount and enables banks to rapidly put together exceptional overdrafts to finance the target companies’ operating capital needs.

 “The fight against the pandemic requires public and private sector involvement to enhance women entrepreneurs’ ability to bounce back from the crisis. Efforts such as the one in Morocco as well as Tunisia and Ghana, should be replicated throughout the continent,” Dassanou said.

The discussions also showed how Coronavirus not only potentially exacerbates already existing inequalities between men and women, but has led to other hurdles for women, including limited access to finance, key networks, information, skills gaps, as well as limited control over assets that they can leverage to obtain financing.

“The AFAWA initiative’s collaboration with UN Women and ImpactHER to provide solutions has great potential to influence policy,” Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, noted.

*To access the policy brief, click here.

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Nigerian Actress / Screen Writer Pens Coronavirus hit African lockdown series
June 30, 2020 | 0 Comments
Tunde Aladese

Tunde Aladese is an African film actress and screen writer, she won an Africa Academy Award in 2018, she has recently been a studying BA in Filmmaking at MetFilm School .As a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, a  popular series called, Shuga went into a mini-series nightly show titled MTV Shuga Alone Together highlighting the problems of Coronavirus on 20 April 2020. Tunde is the screenwriter.

The show was originally  to be broadcast for 60 nights, but it’s now been increased to 65 nights and its backers include the United Nations. The series is based in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya and Cote D’Ivoire and the story is told through with on-line conversations between the main characters. In the Q and A below she discusses the series and her career plans

Do you remember how you fell in love with films and writing? Was there a particular film/ script?  Did it make to feel a particular way? Anything growing up that pushed you in this particular direction? 

This is a difficult one because it’s never really just one thing. It’s the gradual growth of a lifelong romance. My love for writing started with prose, making sorry imitations of any book I enjoyed in order to somehow prolong the experience that the book had given me. Cinemas weren’t much of a thing in Nigeria at the time when I was growing up but VCR was big business and watching movies was a big family pastime.

It’s hard to pick just one film because the exposure was constant, and the genres were varied. It was the eighties so there was a lot of that B movie style action. Also, a lot of the glam mini-series type content, usually centred around a woman who succeeded against all odds. There was ‘The Sound of Music’ which my siblings and I could quote in its entirety. Arthouse came later, as options widened. I didn’t have a proper understanding of how films came to be for quite a while and a couple of appearances on kids’ variety shows were a surreal experience.

I guess primary school drama club was my first proper sense of trying to create a narrative out of thin air and get other people to help bring it to life. But I can say that I fell in love with the film business, this idea of actors and directors and storytellers on screen after reading biographies of some old Hollywood movie stars between the ages of 10 and 13.

I think that was when I began to understand the process of how all that came to the screen. The possibility of anything like that being a tangible and viable career plan, came much later. 

Please expand on the origins of when and why you decided that career in the screen industry was for you. 

I’m not quite sure I decided. I think the timing was fortunate for me. My first job after university led to an introduction between my boss and a producer who was about to make a radio drama series for the BBC in Nigeria. My boss showed him some ideas I had put down and I got invited to be part of a writers’ room, something I’d never heard of. I couldn’t believe someone paid me that much money (not a huge amount but at the time I was making almost nothing) to do something I’d been doing for fun all my life. I figured ‘I could get used to this…’ Success was not immediate but over the next couple of years, enough opportunities came my way that when an international cable company became interested in producing Nigerian series, I actually had a little experience under my belt and could pitch myself for some writing opportunities.

Tunde Aladese  won an Africa Academy Award in 2018
Tunde Aladese won an Africa Academy Award in 2018

Why did you choose Metfilm school? What’s unique about it? What were you experiences there? What were your education experiences beforehand? Where did you grow up and where did you go to college / university… what did you study before? 

My first degree was in English Literature, from the University of Ibadan in Nigeria. After almost 10 years working professionally  as a screenwriter, mostly in television, I wanted new challenges and a wider canvas. I thought learning formally about all aspects of film production would help me with that. Choosing Metfilm was a combination of timing, location (Berlin had been popping up a lot in my timeline in the months preceding), language and investigating their alumni and the things they had gone on to do since leaving the school. It’s a great way to study the European arthouse film aesthetic, which I was very interested in, without having to take the time to learn a whole new language. And because it’s an English speaking school in a very European city, you get to study with students from a wide variety of countries from all over the world.

Tell me about MTV Shuga – how did the project come about about? 60 episodes – it’s quite an ask… how did you manage to complete it? 

We’re still trying to! And I’m not going to deny that it is a challenge. I just take it one block at a time, and fortunately I don’t have to do it all on my own. There’s a co-head writer and co-director who alternates blocks with me and of course, the SAF team. I had worked on 2 previous seasons of the series, including one season as Head Writer and had therefore had some contact with some members of the team. They reached out within the first couple of weeks of lockdown in Germany and told me about this idea they were throwing around, and asked whether it was something I would be interested in coming on board for. I’d been sitting home for 2 weeks, reading about everything going on all around the world, from news headlines to social media posts sharing people’s emotions, so I knew as soon as they asked that there was potential here. I didn’t imagine at the time that it would be 65 episodes (yeah, it’s 65 now)! We’re recording 41-50 this week and then my co-head takes over again for the next batch.

What’s the response been like? From the audience and the industry? 

To be honest? I don’t know. I usually try to stay away from comments because you get drawn in by the good stuff and then one negative comment and you might spend the rest of the day overthinking. I do understand that reactions and feedback from the first few episodes was quite exciting. It’s been challenging trying to find ways to maintain and increase the momentum and interest. But I did say I was looking for challenges, right?

Tunde is the screenwriter  of the mini-series nightly show titled MTV Shuga Alone Together highlighting the problems of Coronavirus
Tunde is the screenwriter of the mini-series nightly show titled MTV Shuga Alone Together highlighting the problems of Coronavirus

What are you working on now, what are your plans for the future? 

I’m almost done with this season of Shuga and there are a couple of things lined up for me to switch over to from next month. But nothing that I am at liberty to talk about right now.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about becoming a screen writer / considering a career in the screen industries? 

Read a lot of books, watch a lot of movies. Figure out what you like, what excites and moves you and why. And then try to put it into your own work. Write, write, write. Even when you hate it, keep at it. I had a period of about 6 years from secondary school into university where, everything I wrote, I hated soon after. But that made me question why I hated it and what I needed to do differently. The trick is to keep writing so that when an opportunity comes your way, you have something to show of your ability that will make them at least consider you. Don’t wait for someone to find you and make you a writer. And then of course, seek out those opportunities. I know this is a bit glib, and won’t work out for everyone, but it will for some. Oh, and I should mention this magic trick. The first time I went to a writers’ workshop, everyone there introduced themselves as a writer except me. I didn’t think I had the right to claim that about my hobby. The people present in the room made me say it ‘I’m a writer’. When I returned to my life, I started introducing myself that way. And people remembered. And the calls started coming.

*Q & A facilitated by Ruth Sparkes and MetFilm School

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How Rwanda is spurring a generation of women in technology
June 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

Rwanda is renowned as a pioneer for gender equality.

In 2020, it was the only African country ranked in the top 10 of the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report.

It ranked in the top four in the Report’s political empowerment category, in recognition of the high proportion of Rwandese women lawmakers and ministers.

The country therefore seemed a natural fit for a 2018 pilot program of the African Development Bank’s Coding for Employment initiative, with Nigeria, Kenya, Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal.

The Coding for Employment flagship program is establishing 130 ICT centers for excellence in Africa, training 234,000 youths for employability and entrepreneurship to create over 9 million jobs.

Hendrina C. Doroba, Manager in the Education, Human Capital and Employment Division at the Bank, explains how Rwanda is empowering women in technology.

How has the government of Rwanda enabled women to pursue careers in technology, and STEM in general?

The government of Rwanda has been a foremost champion of women in ICT and in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (also known as STEM), by driving initiatives like the establishment of the Carnegie Mellon University-Africa campus, for which the Bank provided funding. Students from 17 different countries pursue highly specialized ICT skills at the Africa campus.

The country also hosts the African Institute of Mathematics (AIMS) which is now recruiting balanced cohorts of women and men. Lastly, the Bank-funded University of Rwanda College of Science and Technology has for many years produced women leaders in the ICT sector in Rwanda and globally.

Rwanda’s government also supports initiatives such as the Miss Geek Rwanda competition, an initiative of Girls in ICT Rwanda, which aims to encourage school-age girls, even those in remote areas, to develop innovative tech or business ideas and to generally immerse themselves in ICT. The Miss Geek initiative has now been rolled out in other countries in the region.

What role has the Bank played in supporting Rwanda’s digital strategy, especially in relation to women?

The strategy of the Bank’s Coding for Employment center of excellence in Rwanda has been to join forces with the Rwanda Coding Academy through a grant agreement to support the school’s activities, like ICT equipment, teacher training and career orientation. The Rwanda Coding Academy started in January 2019 and has so far enrolled one cohort, which is now going into their second year.

Besides the Rwanda Coding Academy, the Bank’s Coding for Employment program held a two-day masterclass for girls and young women entrepreneurs at the 2018 Youth Conneckt summit, where over 200 beneficiaries were trained in using digital tools to amplify their businesses. The session was attended by women entrepreneurs as well as students from girl schools in Kigali, including those from White Dove School, which is an all-girl school fully dedicated to training in ICT. The masterclass culminated into a pitching exercises from various groups who presented their ideas to a panel of judges.

What lessons can other African countries learn from Rwanda’s approach to the 4IR, in particular the role of women?

The government of Rwanda has been a trailblazer in using innovation to improve public services across the country using the e-governance platform Irembo, to bring government services closer to citizens. In addition, the government is driving national digital skilling campaigns by championing digital ambassador programs and platforms such as Smart Africa, which has organized the annual Transform Africa summit since 2013.

Still, gender equality remains a concern, and gender gaps are evident even in schools. Rwanda’s ambitions extend to piloting the Kigali Innovation City, also Bank-funded, to serve as the country’s knowledge and innovation hub by attracting new businesses and incubating ideas. At the same time, the country has created a business environment which is pro-entrepreneurship and welcomes global inventors to test their ideas and concepts. Zipline, a company which uses drones to deliver medical supplies in remote areas, is one example.

Lastly, Rwanda promotes women leaders in the ICT and innovation sector. The country’s Minister of ICT and Innovation is a woman, as is the CEO of the Irembo platform. Appointments such as these are helping to dispel the myth that women are not as capable as men in ICT.

*AFDB

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“Times of Unprecedented Crisis present Unique Opportunities for Unprecedented Action”
June 18, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Graça Machel, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Dr. Vera Songwe, Maria Ramos

Mrs Graça Machel, Founder, Graça Machel Trust and the Foundation for Community Development
We have been presented the opportunity to reimagine and redesign our society into a vibrant and equitable one.

COVID 19 has unearthed massive inequalities within our societies and brought to glaring light the unique burdens which women carry the world over. Allocation of response resources should be targeted towards the immediate needs of managing the virus as well as future-looking to simultaneously dismantle the structural, systemic barriers which reinforce inequality and disenfranchisement. We have been presented the opportunity to reimagine and redesign our society into a vibrant and equitable one. We must place women and women’s leadership at the core of the response and beyond.

COVID-19 has caused massive shocks to both the informal and formal economies in Africa. World Bank estimates that the Sub-Saharan Africa region will see significant economic decline, and plunge to as low as -5.1% this year.

Women have been hit particularly hard by this economic downturn. Emerging evidence from the ILO on the impact of COVID-19 suggests that women’s economic and productive lives will be affected disproportionately. They have less access to social protections and their capacity to absorb economic shocks is very low.

As the economic toll of the crisis is felt, there is also an increased risk that female children will be forced into early marriages, and the number of child marriages and early pregnancy may increase as girls are turned into a source of quick income for families.

Given these shocks to society at large, it is no surprise that our food systems will be dealt a significant blow resulting in the dangerous exacerbation of food insecurity and nearly doubling current levels of widespread hunger.

COVID 19 has disrupted supply chains and thrown the global food economy into disarray. As border closures, production stoppages, and export restrictions limit supply, demand has surged, inflating prices and impacting the world’s poorest and most marginalized people, and Africa is no exception.

Women are central players in the food chain and key to agricultural output on the continent. 50% of the agricultural activity on the continent performed by women, who produce about 60-70% of the food in Sub Saharan Africa.

Studies reveal that the cost of malnutrition has a tremendous impact on a country’s economic growth. A lack of adequate nutrition is a key contributor to unacceptably high levels of both maternal and child mortality as well as stunting– and therefore to the loss of human capital for the overall economic, social and political development of the continent.

The fragility of African health systems is revealing itself and women and children are most vulnerable to the lack of attention and adequate specialized services the diversion COVID 19 is causing resulting in an anticipated surge in child and maternal mortality.

Domestic violence has increased by upwards of 25% in some countries as a result of lockdowns. Victims face limited access to protective services during periods of quarantine.

A Call to Bold Action:
All Responses Must Take into Account Gendered Impacts of COVID and Be Informed by the Voices of Women:  Women and women’s organizations should be at the heart of the COVID-19 response decision making and designing health and socio-economic policies and plans. An intentional focus on the lives and futures of women and girls is an essential part of breaking structural practices which have been marginalizing them. A system for collecting and disaggregating data needs to be put in place to ensure that the impact of the crisis on women is informing the redesign of fragile and inequitable socio-economic and health systems into fully inclusive, equitable ones.
Government and Development Partners Must Implement Gender Lens Economic Policies and Sharpen the Capacity of Women as Engines of Economic Growth: Give women and female businesses direct access credit, loans, tax and social security payment deferrals and exemptions, and preferential procurement. Structural barriers to access to finance, inheritance, and land rights must be removed. Create and support the enabling environment for ICT infrastructure so rural and urban women are able to contribute to the digital economy and access online platforms to facilitate e-commerce and e-health/education/social exchanges.
Invest in Women Along the Local Food Chains to Improve Food Security: Response resources should target female SMMEs and rural women associations to increase productivity in both formal and informal economies, eradicate hunger and malnutrition. Boost local food production and confront head on the indignity of Africa importing its food. Food security is a fundamental investment in the building of healthy societies.
Recognize and Implement Equal Rights in the Workplace: Provide equal pay for equal work.
Narrow Gender-based Education Gaps: Build ICT infrastructure for online learning to bridge the inequality divide and retrain teachers on virtual curriculum so every African child, especially the girl child, has access to quality education. Efforts to protect girls from child marriage and early pregnancy, and provision of safety net resources for households to keep girls in school are also needed.
Strengthen Health Systems, Gradually Implement Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and Provide Mental Health Services needed as key strategies to the improvement of health systems and citizen wellbeing.
Comprehensively Strengthen the Criminal Justice System and Increase Efforts Around Survivor Support and Protection: Prevention/protection efforts must be deemed as essential services and intentional mass media efforts to spur a fundamental change of mindset whereby GBV is rejected and deemed socially unacceptable and intolerable.
COVID-19 presents us with unprecedented opportunities for the regeneration of the African socio-economic landscape and the movement towards a just, equitable and sustainably prosperous continent. Let us dare not squander this opportunity for a rebirth.

Signed

Mrs Graça Machel
Founder, Graça Machel Trust and the Foundation for Community Development

Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
Board Chair, Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, AU Special Envoy to Mobilize International Economic Support for the Fight Against COVID-19, Former Finance Minister, Nigeria

Dr Vera Songwe
Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Ms Maria Ramos
Co-Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Task Force on Digital Financing of the Sustainable Development Goals and former Chief Executive Officer of Absa Group Limited

*SOURCE .Graça Machel Trust (GMT)

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