Malawi schools open amid backlash from teachers over Covid-19 allowances
February 24, 2021 | 0 Comments
By James Mwala
Teachers in public schools in Malawi started boycotting work as classes resumed on Monday 22 February after nearly a month long closure due to the Covid-19 situation.
The teachers are demanding government to provide them with risk allowances just like it is the case with other civil servants.
Currently, government insists the decision will be made by the presidential taskforce on Covid-19, a move that has sprung an outrage from teachers who feel the move undermines their calls.
According to leader of Malawi’s Teachers Union Willy Kalimba, the teachers will proceed and will half the industrial action until their demands are met.
Earlier on, Principal Secretary in the Education Ministry told the media they would only wait for consultations to be complete.
Ironically, private schools are now operating, a development experts fear will bloat an already existing education gap between the two different school categories.
The calls by teachers comes as government is proving how about 6.2 billion Covid-19 funds were managed.
Mozambique To Receive Covid 19 Vaccines From China
February 24, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jorge Joaquim
Mozambique is receiving today (24) the first batch of the vaccine against Covid-19 from China to ensure the vaccination of priority groups, among them health professionals, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi announced on Facebook.
“Over the past two months I have maintained contacts with the President, Xi Jinping for access to the Covid-19 vaccine,” Nyusi wrote on his official account on Wednesday morning. “So I would like to share with the Mozambican people that the first batch of the vaccine arrives in the country this Wednesday afternoon, 24 February” he said.
With the arrival of this batch, the challenge continues to ensure the arrival of other doses, which negotiations are at an advanced stage with Mozambique’s partners, he added
However, it is not clear the quantity of the vaccine and the type of dose.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Mozambique announced yesterday that the U.S. Government is providing an additional $3.7 million to help guarantee the country’s vaccine readiness per COVAX requirements.
This includes planning the delivery and distribution of the vaccines throughout Mozambique, and technical assistance in the provision of comprehensive medical treatment to patients with COVID-19, including in the safe and effective utilization of oxygen.
Kenyan clinical officers ordered to suspend strike
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
The Labor Court on Tuesday halted an ongoing strike by clinical officers.
Justice Maureen Onyango directed the workers to resume work and continue offering services at their respective workstations.
In her ruling, Justice Onyango ordered that all disciplinary procedures against the clinical officers be halted. The employers were also ordered to pay salaries for all workers without fail.
In compliance with the court ruling, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) Chairman Peterson Wachira called off the strike and asked all members to report back to work.
“We will comply with the court order…we direct our members to report to their work stations…Employers have not addressed our grievances even as we resume duty.”
“We shall not voluntarily expose ourselves even as we report back to duty…We urge employers to sign and implement the Return To Work Formula (RTWF),” said Dr. Wachira.
The officers downed their tools in December last year, protesting against insufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) for the frontline workers battling against the novel coronavirus.
The workers accused the government of failing to honor its promises to cater to health care workers’ needs.
The go-slow kicked off when nine clinical officers had succumbed to the Covid-19 and at least 763 infected.
Gambia: Vista Bank Limited is the new name of FIBank
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
Vista Group is pleased to announce that the Central Bank of The Gambia has formally approved the rebranding of First International Bank (Gambia) Limited to Vista Bank (Gambia) Limited. A formal launch of the new Brand shall be announced in due course.
Simon Tiemtore, Chairman of Vista Group said: “This rebranding is a milestone in Vista’s declared intent of establishing a world class pan-African financial institution promoting financial inclusion and contributing to socio-economic development in The Gambia. It further expands Vista Bank’s existing operations in Guinea and Sierra Leone, which we will be augmenting through our impending purchase of La Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de la Guinée (BICIGUI) in Guinea and Banque Internationale pour le Commerce l’Industrie et l’Agriculture du Burkina (BICIAB) in Burkina Faso, from BNP Paribas.
“Gambian citizens, SMEs and Corporates will shortly be benefitting from our digital, branch and agency distribution strategy, with an intensely customer-centric focus, a huge emphasis on quality customer service, cutting edge digital functionality and the provision of convenient, innovative banking products to meet their needs”.
The Vista Group, which is owned by Lilium Holdings, a U.S owned Investment Firm, supports customers by providing full range of accessible banking facilities to everyone. We intend to drive financial inclusion, engender socio-economic growth and national prosperity by meeting the needs of the Gambians and their businesses in our quest to become their bank of choice.
Kenya:Youths vow to shut down the BBI as the Bill overshoot threshold in County Assemblies
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
A section of youths have disclosed that they will vote against the Building Bridge Initiative (Amendment) Bill 2020.
The youths allied to the deputy president William Ruto said their decision to oppose the document was arrived at after realizing that the document has nothing to offer to young people and ordinary citizens.
They described the BBI as the document by politicians for politicians.
Their reactions came just a few hours after the Bill surpassed the 24 county threshold.
As of noon on Tuesday, 28 Counties had voted for the BBI constitutional amendment bill, and more were expected to endorse it.
The 16 counties gave the document the green light on Tuesday morning. They included Mombasa, Kakamega, Makueni, Narok, Nakuru, Kirinyaga, Taita Taveta, Nyamira, and Bungoma. Others are Machakos, Kitui, Lamu, Garissa, Murang’a, Nyeri, and Nyandarua.
They joined Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Nairobi, Kisii, West Pokot, Kajiado, Laikipia, and Samburu that had already voted for the document, paving the way for the Bill to be introduced to the National and Assembly the Senate. So far, only Baringo County has opposed the Bill.
The news of the Bill being approved by the County assemblies did not move the youths who claimed the government had sidelined them when it comes to state appointments. They alleged the ward representatives were coerced and bribed to support BBI.
“After bribing them with a car grant, let’s see if ul manage to bribe over 20million voters at the ballot. All in all, we will have the final say,” said Erick Hassan Ogutu.
“How foolish…they have dealt with a few puppets. How shameful will it be after being rejected by the great people of Kenya,” reiterated Wachira Freddie.
“Approving to get car grants at the expense of 47 million Kenyans. History will judge us harshly,” reacted Mugai Ian.
Plans to have countrywide tours to sell the referendum message to citizens are underway, said the BBI secretariat.
“From March 1, we are rolling out countrywide tours to take BBI to the people. With all the signs that the assemblies will pass the document by a big number, we will be rolling out grand plans to tell the people what is in the document and counter any propaganda out there,” the Nation quoted Junet Mohamed, the BBI secretariat co-chairman.
Kenya:Gor Mahia and Napsa Stars fans exchanged words online
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Gor Mahia’s faithful have engaged in a heated discussion with their Napsa Stars counterpart following the Caf Confederation Cup’s former exit.
Injury time penalty awarded to the Zambian side in the second leg of the Caf Confederations Cup play-off in Lusaka on Sunday denied the Kenyan champions opportunity to progress to the group stage.
Gor alias “husbands” flew to Zambia hoping to overturn a 1-0 defeat in Nairobi a week ago. The Kenyan 19 times champions took the lead in the 17th minute following Samuel Onyango’s cool finish. However, their celebration was short-lived as Austine Banda equalized for the Pensioners a minute later.
Forward Clinton Miheso restored Gor’s lead in the 20th minute, but a 90+6 minutes spot-kick put the last nail on the Kenyan side coffin after defender Geoffrey Ochieng committed a foul on Jimmy Mukeya inside the box.
Irate Gor Mahia fans slammed the South African referee Lebalang Mokete claiming the spot-kick was awarded outside the added minutes.
“The penalty was awarded when the game was already over, and the 90+4 was done. We were robbed,” said Wiclife Majiwa.
“That was match-fixing. The match played beyond the 4 minutes added time. The
penalty was unjustified and a good referee won’t have awarded it under the circumstances.
The referee behaved as if he had been compromised to ensure Gor Mahia lost the match by all means possible,” added Fredrick Ochoro.
Napsa Stars fans maintained that the referee’s decision was right in rejoinder, calling their opponents crying babies.
“When you play all those delaying tactics and think that referee is not taking note…The referee has the right to top up even 5minutes on additional minutes depending on stoppages during the additional time. Bad luck for our brothers, next time you will react reasonably, not like how you did at our home ground,” said Ben Kumwenda.
“The husband lost it in Kenya; how can you lose at home? Zambian teams rarely lose at home,” reiterated Felix Kampamba.
“Point of correction, how can a husband cry like a baby? I think he sent a wife to play for him this time,” Daliso Jere taunted Gor Mahia fans.
On the harassment of match officials, the Pensioners’ diehards slammed Gor Mahia players for acting unprofessionally.
Gor Mahia players reportedly descended on the centre referee after the final whistle, a behavior that could earn the club a ban and a hefty fine from CAF.
In a draw conducted on Monday by CAF, Napsa was placed in Group B alongside RS Berkane of Morocco, JS Kabyile from Algeria, and Cameroon’s side Coton Sport.
Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) to announce winners of the African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting Awards today
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) will today announce the finalists and winners of the African Climate Change and Environmental Reporting Awards (ACCER Awards) during a live digital event on Tuesday 23rd on February 2021 on the sidelines of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA).
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) invites journalists to follow and report on the event, which will be live on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook or the events landing page www.accerawards.pacja.org
The ACCER Awards, which amplifies the role of media in climate change adaptation and mitigation, have continued to recognize African journalists passionate about conservation since 2012.
The Award, run by PACJA and supported by multiple partners, is in its fifth edition and winners are being announced for the first time through a digital event. It comes at a time uncertainty abounds regarding climate action in the context of several crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ACCER Awards 2020 theme is Making climate action a way of life. Contestants submitted stories that told the climate situation as it is, with so many of them highlighting readily available and easily reachable solutions.
The ACCER Awards initiative recognizes that journalists and media networks are important actors in unpacking and building the synergy for crises faced by African countries, which are the most affected by climate change despite being some of the least emitters of Greenhouse Gases (GHG).
The Awards will this year recognise 25 journalists from around the continent, who submitted their work in either English or French.
It is reported that there were more female winners than male this time. These journalists were able to illustrate how communities make use of existing legal frameworks to demand climate action from governments and prevent exposure to looming disasters.
It is added that they brought out notable contributions stakeholders, including the private sector, made in the achievement of environment conservation. Others were able to outline glaring gaps that make Africa most vulnerable, a continent with special needs, and why the developed world must choose to release the necessary funds to address the plights.
With the ACCER Awards, PACJA hopes to continue to ensure that Africa’s climate story is told as it is, highlighting the areas unseen by the rest of the world, and which determines how the intervention is reached. Other objectives of the Awards include motivating journalists and media houses in Africa to effectively cover and report on Climate Change and Environment and illuminating innovative best-practice approaches in Policy and Practice towards response strategies and programmes.
Also key for PACJA is that the Awards enhance proactive media participation in African Climate Change discourses with a view of perspectives and narratives, sustain and boost coverage of Climate Change issues by journalists in the mainstream media and media networks as well as promote and create awareness about opportunities existing in green investment in the public and private realms.
The Pan African Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) is a consortium of more than 1,000 organisations from 48 African countries, and brings together a diverse membership drawn from Faith-based Organisations, Community-Based Organisations, Non-Governmental Organisations, Trusts, Foundations, Indigenous Communities, Farmers and Pastoralist Groups with a shared vision to advance a people-centred, rights-based, equitable, just and inclusive approach to climate change response. PACJA is implementing a variety of projects that traverse direct programming, policy and advocacy, sub-granting and capacity building, mainly focusing on the most vulnerable groups that are “unreachable” in traditional development paradigms. The Alliance plays a central role in key African processes spearheaded by African Union, UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and African Development Bank (AfDB), among them, the flagship Climate for Development in Africa (ClimDev) Programme. It is a Partner in Adaptation of African Agriculture on Climate Change Initiative (AAA), whose main goal is to build resilience for the mainly smallholder agriculture from climate shocks.
Tanzania:Simba SC sting Al Ahly in the Caf Champions League
February 23, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Tanzania’s Simba SC on Tuesday registered 1-0 over the reigning African Champions Al Ahly FC in the Caf Champions League match played at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar es Salaam.
Miquissone’s thunderous strike in the 29th minute was enough to grab three points for the host and grabbed the summit of group A with six points.
Simba’s first match in the competition was against a much-fancied DR Congolese side, Vita Club.
Mutshimba Mugalu secured a 1-0 hard victory for the Kings from the spot-kick after Vivien Assie Koua committed in the 58th minute.
Vita Club piled pressure on the visitors but could not break the well-organized Simba’s defence.
On the other hand, the Egyptian champions thrashed Al-Merreikh of Sudan 3-0 in Cairo.
The Tanzanian next match is against Al-Merreikh on March 5, while Al Ahly will take on Vita Club on the same day.
Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA): Making Africa Future-Proof
February 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
By James Woods*
Sustainability has been increasingly present in global discourse in the last years. The United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, which must be reached by 2030, have put sustainability at the core of both today’s and tomorrow’s agendas. With the SDGs being targeted on a multilateral level, it would be more than fair to say that it is everyone’s aim to see positive steps being taken in this regard. Even more so, it is also important to see that regions which have performed below par in the past, start tackling sustainability, especially economic sustainability incrementally – and fast.
This is why last week, my brother and colleague Thebe Ikalafeng launched the Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA), which aims to strengthen entrepreneurial sustainability in Africa. Having lost both of my parents when I was 8 years old, I know all too well how hard life can be. I know what it feels like to go from living a life of wealth to living a life of need. The right guidance in life can either make you or break you. And just as I found the right guidance when I was in need, I too, want to be there for young Africans who want to make their continent a better place to live in.
Data published by African Business has shown that African brands add up to only 20% of the brands admired by African people. This must change, and fast. Why? Because the Covid19 pandemic has shown more than ever the need for self-sustainability in areas of determinate importance. Supply-chain disruption for one, risks leaving those who don’t foresee the future behind. Shouldn’t we therefore have high-end African brands offering products and services made on African soil that are ready to rise to the occasion if such disruption takes place?
Myself and the rest of the ABLA team are determined to make sure that if such events take place, we will be ready for them by being futureproof. Moreover, just as we are not content with Africa being treated as a second-class continent, we are also not content with Africans doing all the dirty work while foreign entrepreneurs give out orders and make all the profits.
In the context of my home country, Malawi, we don’t really have any household brands that have transcended international borders, maybe we have household names as in personalities but those too are not at the level we want. I believe, if we priorities the development of this field by creating quality brands, we can truly transform the economy of Malawi, of Africa.
What we are therefore proposing to do is provide the right guidance to the younger generation. By sharpening the younger generation’s brand leadership capability what we will be doing is investing in tomorrow’s leaders, executives and entrepreneurs. In turn, we are hoping to have a return on investment by seeing more marketable, distinctive, sustainable and competitive brands that will strengthen Africa’s commercial capabilities.
In doing so, we will be blending a variety of topics, creating a multi-disciplinary approach focused on traditional strategic brand leadership, intellectual property management, and go-to-market strategies with content and immersion in African conditions. Last but not least we will also focus on culture and creativity, the latter of which we are aiming will inspire authentic and relevant outcomes.
To achieve this, we shall be offering three flagship programmes: The Post Graduate Diploma in African Brand Leadership, the African Brand Leadership Executive Programme (ABLE) and the Brand Leadership for Entrepreneurs. If those reading this article don’t want to enroll in a programme, then you don’t have to worry at all. We’ve also got you covered with various short learning programmes which will help you sharpen your skills!
In concluding, I’d like to say that life has taught me that certain life-changing opportunities come once in a lifetime. This is one of those opportunities that might change not just your story, but the story of the whole continent. I therefore encourage you to visit our website www.abla.academy for more information about enrolling in our programmes. Don’t just wish for Africa to reach its true potential, be an active part of it!
*James Woods, a Malawi national, is an award-winning African achiever with significant experience dealing with governance issues, reputation management, strategic media, and communications. He has served as a communications advisor to two African countries; worked in the diplomatic field; The Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Navigate Response and has consulted for numerous international entities such as Ras Al Khaimah Gas and Surestream Petroleum.
He holds a Bachelor Degree with Honours in Politics, Philosophy and History; A Master of Science in Social Policy and Development from the London School of Economics and Political Science; Executive Leadership Programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford; Certificate in Global Diplomacy, School of Oriental and African Studies joint programme with the University of London; Executive Programme in Shipping Economics, Investment and Finance from CASS Business School and Baltic Exchange and has undergone Diplomatic Training at the Clingendael Institute of International Relations in The Netherlands.
AFRICA’S FIRST AFRICA-FOCUSED BRAND LEADERSHIP ACADEMY
February 22, 2021 | 0 Comments
Johannesburg, South Africa – 10 February 2021: Brand Africa founder, Thebe Ikalafeng, today announced the launch of the Africa Brand Leadership Academy (ABLA), the first Africa-focused specialist brand leadership academy aimed at sharpening the minds that build brands that build Africa.
Every year since 2010, Brand Africa has researched and ranked the best brands in Africa. The Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands research is conducted independently by Geopoll, Kantar and Brand Leadership. The research, conducted in at least 25 countries, which cover all African economic regions and collectively account for over 80% of the continent’s GDP and population. It is the most comprehensive and objective metric on brands and is published globally every year by African Business around Africa Day, 25 May.Over the past decade, the survey has established that on average, African brands account for only 20% of the brands that Africans admire.
Recognizing the need to remedy this challenge, ABLA aims to sharpen the brand leadership capability of established and the next generation of executives and entrepreneurs in Africa to build meaningful, distinctive, sustainable and competitive brands that will transform Africa’s competitiveness and inspire the world.
Through a cross disciplinary curriculum, ABLA blends traditional strategic brand leadership, intellectual property management, go-to-market strategies with content and immersion in African conditions, culture and creativity to inspire authentic and relevant Africa outcomes.
ABLA’s flagship programmes are the Post Graduate Diploma in African Brand Leadership (PGDABL) focused on the next generation of brand builders who want to accelerate their career with relevant brand leadership skills and deep immersion in the continental context; the African Brand Leadership Executive Programme (ABLE) to immerse, inspire and empower executives leading brands in Africa to understand African consumers and marketplaces, and the challenges and opportunities that will grow their brands and businesses, and Brand Leadership for Entrepreneurs to enable entrepreneurs to navigate the challenges of transforming their good products and ideas into great sustainable brands and to strategically and profitably manage their personal, organisational and product brands. These programmes are complemented by a range of short-term Short Learning Programmes for individuals who need short-term learning interventions to sharpen their skills, in inter alia, Responsible Branding; Brands, Boards and the Bottom-Line and Leadership Branding and Public Sector Branding.
“For Africa to compete globally and attain sustainable economic independence, it will have to complement its entrepreneurial skills with brand leadership to transform its many commoditized products into world-class brands,” says Ikalafeng. “Throughout history, brands have proven to be a powerful vector of the image, identity and competitiveness of people, products and nations. There are several exemplary brands such as Nigeria’s Dangote, South Africa’s MTN and Kenya’s Mpesa among several African brands challenging non-African brands in Africa and transformed the image of their nations. With the imminent implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is aimed at boosting intra-African trade, it will be an epic tragedy if in the long-term, the majority of goods and services moving across African borders are not made in Africa.”
ABLA has a global African faculty network of respected specialist practitioners, thought leaders and academics and institutional partnerships which collectively bring a rich blend of deep insights on the continent and building brands in Africa.
ABLA leadership and governance is based on sound and best practice principles for organizing and managing a higher education institution with a pan-African focus and reach. Renowned Ethiopian thought leader and business woman, Dr. Eleni Zaude Gabre-Madhin who founded the highly acclaimed Ethiopia Commodity Exchange (ECX) is the founding Chancellor/President, retired Namibian academic, Professor Tjama Tjivikua, the founding principal of the Namibia University of Science and Technology, is the founding Council chairman and ABLA founder, Thebe Ikalafeng, is the founding principal. This team is led by a Council of diverse and respected Africans who are responsible for the good order and overall governance of ABLA. ABLA is operating out of its headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa
About the Africa Brand Leadership Academy
The Africa Brand Leadership Academy is the first Africa-focused and specialist brand leadership academy. ABLA aims to sharpen the brand leadership capability of established and the next generation of brand builders and entrepreneurs in Africa to build Africa meaningful, distinctive, sustainable and competitive brands in Africa, that will transform Africa’s competitiveness and image and inspire the world. www.abla.academy
About Brand Africa
Brand Africa is a non-profit initiative to inspire a great Africa through promoting a positive image of the continent, celebrating its diversity and driving its competitiveness. It is a brand-led movement which recognizes that in the 21st century, brands are an asset and a vector of image, reputation and competitiveness of nations.
The Brand Africa 100: Africa’s Best Brands is a Brand Africa initiative to survey, rank and recognize the best brands in Africa.
Brand Africa is an independent Non-Profit Organisation registered in the Republic of South Africa (NPC 2013/146300/08) and a signatory to the Independent Code of Governance for Non-Profit Organisations in Africa. www.brand.africa.
African schools football competition to kick off in DR Congo
February 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
Through football, you can teach respect for adversaries and rules, learning how to play as a team, how to win and lose.
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, February 21, 2021/ — FIFA and the African Union have agreed to launch a schools football competition following a meeting in Kinshasa between FIFA President Gianni Infantino and the President of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Félix Tshisekedi, who is also the current Chairperson of the African Union (AU).
The two presidents, who had initiated discussions last week by videoconference, met at the Palais de la Nation in the DRC’s capital to further their productive talks of the previous days, and central to their exchange was the need to use the power of football to improve lives and to harness the possibilities it offers to instil positive values in young people.
On this subject, both the FIFA President and the AU Chairperson agreed to use the framework of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the African Union, FIFA and CAF, to organise schools football competition across Africa, which will kick off in the DRC. To initiate the project, a protocol was signed this afternoon between FIFA and the Ministry of Sports and Leisure of the DRC.
“President Tshisekedi is passionate about football, and I’m delighted that we can work together to give hope to all children across Africa thanks to football,” the FIFA President said at the conclusion of the meeting. “Together, FIFA, AU, CAF and our member associations will develop competitions and training for the youth through football, because football is more than a sport, it is a school of life. Through football, you can teach respect for adversaries and rules, learning how to play as a team, how to win and lose. With this schools championship we plan to make these values, which are already strong in Africa, even stronger.”
Subsequently, the FIFA President also had the opportunity to visit the offices of the Congo DR Football Association (FECOFA) and to meet with FECOFA President Constant Omari, the FECOFA executive committee and several representatives of the football community of Congo DR.
*SOURCE Fédération internationale de football association (FIFA)
Impact of Covid-19 Vastly Underestimated in Africa – Zambian Researchers
February 21, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Prince Kurupati
A group of Zambian researchers based at the Boston University School of Public Health recently conducted a research into the impacts of Covid-19 in Africa. The research was inspired by the need to ascertain if the widely held belief that Africa has largely been spared the worst effects of the corona virus pandemic is true or not. At the end of the study, the researchers came to the conclusion that “the impact of Covid-19 in Africa has been vastly underestimated.”
The group of researchers used the University Teaching Hospital morgue in Lusaka as the study setting. Conducting their study which ran from June to September, 2020, the researchers enrolled 372 corpses as research participants. Out of the 372, 364 were exposed to PCR testing most of whom posthumously. Of the 364 participants that were tested, 15.9% were positive to Covid-19. The study however, could not ascertain if Covid-19 was the cause of death for all of those who tested positive.
From the research, the researchers managed to conclude that “deaths with Covid-19 were common in Lusaka (Zambia). Most occurred in the community where testing capacity is lacking. However, few people who died at facilities were tested, despite presenting with typical symptoms of Covid-19. Therefore, cases of Covid-19 were underreported because testing was rarely done not because Covid-19 was rare. If these data are generalisable, the impact of Covid-19 in Africa has been vastly underestimated.”
The results of the study made the researchers to postulate that by extension, the same trend of undercounting and underestimating the impact of Covid-19 maybe true elsewhere in Africa. This, in essence, disproving official records which state that Covid-19 fatalities in Africa account for just 4% of the population in a continent that makes up 17 per cent of the world’s population.
Various myths and theories that were forwarded by different individuals on the continent were also tackled during the course of the research. Firstly, many individuals believe that Covid-19 is a pandemic that rakes havoc mostly in the middle and upper classes of society. Low density communities that live in densely populated areas are of the view that they have been largely spared by the pandemic. To justify this, many claim that if the pandemic had caused as much havoc as it did in the East and West, then hundreds of deaths would be recorded. This however, according to the research was disproved as it found out that “most deaths occurred in the community” but “the majority of people who died in the community… had not been tested for Covid-19 before death”. To compound the situation, out of the people who die in the communities, upon arriving at health institutions, “testing was rarely conducted” even though some would have died showing “a constellation of symptoms typical of Covid-19”.
In recent times, public fatigue at Covid-19 countermeasures such as mask wearing and social distancing has been on the rise. Many youths and young adults hold the belief that the elderly are at higher risk of contracting the virus and succumbing to the virus thus they leave themselves vulnerable. This, however, has been disproved by the research which states that “deaths with Covid-19 occurred quite evenly across the age spectrum, not just among elder people. Most deaths were in people aged 20-59 years. This pattern is distinct from that described in the US, the EU, and China; it is more typical of the death by age distribution and population age structures common in African countries.”
Furthermore, to highlight the impact that Covid-19 has had on the younger generations, the research concluded that “10% (7/10) of the deaths with Covid-19 were in children, including three infants. Among the younger children, gastrointestinal rather than respiratory complaints predominated, which may be a factor explaining why only one had been tested for Covid-19 before death. The preponderance of gastrointestinal symptoms among children has been described previously.”
However, while the research did disprove several commonly held beliefs, it did agree with the popular belief that Covid-19 affects more those living with comorbidities. The research “identified a high frequency of novel potential underlying risk factors that may be more specific to Africa. Notably, tuberculosis, malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS were very common in this setting.” Other high risk factors included chronic conditions such as “diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and emphysema”.
Overall, the research team led by Lawrence Mwanayanda came to the conclusion that Africa is no different to any other continent when it comes to the question of the impact of Covid-19. The assertion that Africa was spared the worst effects is thus not true. On this front, the research called for more systematic surveillance to be conducted by different African countries. Only when this is fulfilled can Africa have a more definitive answer to the question of the real impact of Covid-19 on the continent. The research encouraged African countries to take a leaf from South Africa when it comes to systematic surveillance as it has been a frontrunner.
The conclusions reached by the Boston University School of Public Health were supported by Dr Faisal Shuaib, chief executive of Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency. Dr Shuaib said the findings of the study rang true in Nigeria, “There are a lot of communities where autopsies are not carried out, so we don’t have complete data on causes of death… So, yes, it is possible that we don’t know how many people are dying of Covid.” However, Dr Shuaib said that it was of critical significance for the research to be rigorously peer reviewed before its findings and recommendations are taken as the way forward.
NYCFPA STATEMENT THE VIOLATIONS OF BASIC DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS AND POLITICAL UREST IN BENIN
February 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON, DC [19 FEB 2021] – The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) is deeply troubled about the recent decision of the National Electoral Commission of Benin (CENA) to exclude all opposition candidates from the upcoming presidential election in Benin. It is concerning that the country’s ongoing removal of basic democratic rights will lead to another electoral crisis and civil unrest in the country, thus undermining the region’s stability and security.
This West African country, once dubbed the cradle of democracy in Africa, has experienced the fastest deterioration in political civil liberties, democratic rights and freedom of the press in Africa according to several organizations familiar with the situation.
On Friday, February 12, 2021, Benin’s ongoing democratic backsliding reached another tragic milestone when the Electoral Commission announced its exclusion of all opposition candidates from the upcoming presidential election scheduled for April. The exclusion appears to focus on Les Démocrates…the largest opposition party in the country…and their candidate, Reckya Madougou (the first female candidate of any major party in the country). We note that in addition to President Talon’s candidacy, only two other candidates are allowed to run. Unfortunately, our organization notes that these candidates are handpicked, groomed, and financed by President Talon and his party.
The dereliction of duty of the central government in Benin has single-handedly sparked another electoral crisis that could lead to civil unrest in the country if nothing is done to prevent it.
Until 2016, Benin had been regarded as one of the United States’ most stable and strategic partners in the region. It is our belief that another electoral crisis or civil unrest in the country, will empower and expand extremist groups like Boko Haram, AQMI, and ISIS, in the region. We believe that any instability of a political or civil nature will undermine the democratic ideals of the people of Benin as well as harm U.S. interests in West Africa. We must remind our allies during the darkest of times that we as a nation are willing and able to advocate alongside them in their fight for democracy.
Justin Russell, the NYCFPA’s Principal Director, states, “We expresses our most profound concern about the egregious attacks on the democratic process, the rule of law, and basic human rights in Benin. We call on President Biden, Secretary Blinken, and the United States Congress to demand that the Benin government immediately organize a national dialogue with all stakeholders in order to guarantee an inclusive, transparent, free, fair, and trustworthy election. Only a fair and free election…and the re-establishment of democratic rights… will prevent any civil unrest that could further destabilize the region.”
*Source The New York Center For Foreign Policy Affairs. The New York Center for Foreign Policy Affairs (NYCFPA) is a policy, research, and educational organization headquartered in New York State with an office in Washington D.C. NYCFPA is an independent, non-profit, non-partisan, institution devoted to conducting in-depth research and analysis on every aspect of American foreign policy and its impact around the world.
Zambia’s first new crocodile farm for over 20 years in pipeline
February 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Wallace Mawire
|Zambia’s first new crocodile farm for over 20 years in pipeline By Wallace Mawire A new crocodile farm for over 20 years is going to be opened in Zambia, a sign of the benefits of duty removal in the industry, according to Bill Thomas, spokesperson for the Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association (ZaCFA) and Kalimba Farms Chairperson. |
According to Thomas, this will be the first new farm in Zambia for over 20 years, and as start-up costs are large with little anticipated return for over three years, he said that it shows there is now new confidence in the future of the crocodile industry in the country.
The association says that the main reason for growing a crocodile is for the skin, but there are by-products such as meat and oil, and it is reported that sales of these have continued to grow within the local Zambian crocodile market.
The Chairperson has also hinted on plans to open a tanning operation which are reported to be at an advanced stage and trials are reported to have been undertaken.
“We are now confident that this operation will be fully functioning by the end of 2021 which will give value addition to the raw materials prior to export,” Mr Thomas said. He added that the Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association is confident that the industry has turned around following the removal of the 10% export duty imposed on raw crocodile skins in the country’s 2021 Budget.
It is added that although the overall number of skins exported in 2020 declined slightly compared with the 2019 figures, this has been mainly due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the luxury leather market. Exports are also said to have been also negatively affected by international inspectors not being able to travel to grade the skins due to travel restrictions.
The association also adds that employment numbers in the country’s crocodile industry have also increased by 28%, with the addition of an extra 176 jobs since the removal of the duty at the start of 2021.
In addition, it is reported, that the gross payments to government agencies have increased by just over 37%
“This is a clear demonstration that increased revenue comes from growth and not duties,” Mr Thomas said.
“What would really help the industry now would be the repayment of approved VAT refunds to inject much needed working capital,” he added.
The Zambia Crocodile Farmers Association is an industry association falling under the Zambia National Farmers Union.
Members rear Nile crocodiles, with skins sold globally for use in the luxury footwear, handbags and garment sectors. Meat and other by-products are sold locally.
The industry exported 31,685 skins in 2018, down from a recent high of 60,422 in 2015. More than 600 workers are employed. Mr Thomas said that the location of the proposed new farm was still under discussion. Also the proposed tannery is expected to sell top grade skins to Singapore and Italy and finish the lower grades for other world markets. It is reported that the most likely site for the tannery will be Kafue in Zambia.
Kenya on high alert after new Ebola outbreak in West Africa
February 20, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Following the Ebola outbreak in Guinea and Congo, the Kenyan government has heightened surveillance in Busia and Malaba border towns on the Kenya-Uganda border.
Public health officers at Malaba have intensified screening leaving nothing to chance.
The Manager of the port health office of Malaba, Paul Bii, told the journalists that all travelers arriving in Kenya from the great lake region, including truck drivers from DRC should undergo screening before entering the country.
Rooms to be used as isolation centres in the event of suspected cases have also been set apart.
Consequently, security has been beefed at the borders to prevent illegal entry into the East African nation.
Health authorities in Guinea on February 14 reported 3 Ebola cases in the rural community of Gouéké in N’Zerekore prefecture, the first time since 2016.
Initial reports further revealed that a nurse from the local health facility died on January 28 of the deadly disease. Six others who attended her burial later exhibited Ebola-like symptoms. Two out of the six also succumbed to the disease, and the remaining four were hospitalized.
On February 16, the World Health Organization (WHO) told six African countries to be alert for possible Ebola infections.
The countries include Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
“We have already alerted the six countries around, including of course Sierra Leone and Liberia, and they are moving very fast to prepare and be ready and to look for any potential infection,” the WHO’s Margaret Harris told a Geneva briefing on Tuesday.
The African Energy Chamber to launch its first advisory board book outlining how the African energy sector can reshape itself for a post-COVID-19 comeback
February 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
Industry experts share their perspectives on what it will take for the energy sector to recover.
The book will feature a series of articles, interviews, debates and data resources on the current status of Africa’s energy landscape and showcase a way forward; the first of its kind for the Chamber, the book will be sold across all major international retailers including Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo; key participants in the book include Mohammad Sanusi Barkindo, Secretary General of OPEC; Frank Ene, CEO of RoyalGate Energy; Pierre Raillard, Country Director, Morocco Chariot Oil and Gas; Nosizwe Nokwe-Macamo, Executive Chairman and Founder of Raise Africa Investments; Akinwole Omoboriowo II, Chairman and CEO of Genesis Energy Group to name a few; join the conversation on social media using #ChamberNews #ChamberBoard #RoadToRecovery.
The African Energy Chamber (the Chamber) is pleased to announce that it will be launching its first-ever advisory board book.
Titled African Energy Road to Recovery: How the African Energy Industry can Reshape itself for a post-COVID-19 comeback the book is a compilation of data resources, articles and interviews outlining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and slump in oil prices on the African energy industry and how the sector can prepare for a rebound.
Through chapters on local content exploration, natural gas, energy transition and global investment, the book intends to offer a wide view of the current state of the sector and provide a pragmatic roadmap to recovery.
“2020 was a tough year for the industry, it required African petroleum producers and local and international investors to re-examine their strategies as a means to navigate through the ever so complex energy landscape,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “Through conversations with our advisory board members, who are also active players in the global energy sector, we have put together this resource to act as a guide for the private and public sector as they work through this most challenging time. Now is the time to be smart, rethink, make decisions now for the future,” he added.
“The two-pronged crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and the slump in oil prices presented African petroleum producers with unparalleled challenges,” said Mandisa Nduli, Director of Marketing and Communications at the African Energy Chamber. “Having watched the reactions of governments and industry stakeholders in the past year, we felt it was important that we build on the examinations presented in our Africa Energy Outlook report launched in November. The Road to Recovery book is a true depiction of the Chamber’s mission to provide possible solutions to the challenges that continue to undermine Africa s energy sector. This book, as well as the chamber is solutions oriented, with the intent of providing practical steps as to how to make energy work for Africa,” she added
The African Energy Road to Recovery book will be available for online purchase on all major international retail outlets including Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Join the conversation and engage with the Chamber on social media using #ChamberNews #RoadToRecovery #ChamberBoard
About the African Energy Chamber NPC:
Established in 2018 to promote sustainable investments and best practice in the African Energy Industry, the African Energy Chamber (AEC) (https://EnergyChamber.org) brings together stakeholders from multiple African and global jurisdictions who are interested in energy matters across the entire energy value chain.
AEC members and partners include governments, indigenous and international businesses as well as multilateral organisations who are fully committed to free-market principles, the rule of law, education, entrepreneurship, transparency and other values that promote the development of the African energy industry in a manner that will render it sustainable and competitive.
*SOURCE African Energy Chamber
Cameroon: Canada Should Adopt Targeted Sanctions against Perpetrators of Mass Killings – Christopher Fomunyoh
February 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Over the years the relics of the federation have been wiped out and the identity of the people of Southern Cameroon diluted by the regime of President Biya, who has been in power for more than 38 years. In the wake of these atrocities, neglect and assimilation, the people of former British Southern Cameroon are today demanding a return to the status quo or a separation.
Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) for International Affairs speaking recently on Canada’s Sub-Committee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development said Canada needs to leverage its position in bringing about a solution to the ongoing Anglophone crisis.
One of such actions that can be undertaken by Canada according to the political scientist is that the country should adopt targeted sanctions against perpetrators of mass killings, torture and other atrocities being carried out by individuals.
“Sanctions should be placed. It sends a strong signal that the world is watching and impunity will not be accepted,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Adjunct Faculty at the African Center for Strategic Studies stated.
“Canada should use its position on the World Bank, IMF, and NATO to ensure that resources granted to Cameroon are not diverted to fight a war against its people. Canada should also call for an immediate ceasefire and a public commitment (both the Cameroon government and the non-state armed groups) to negotiation with Canada assuming the role of third party negotiator.
Canada is known as a big advocate in the respect for Human Rights and equality but the country like other major world powers like USA, Britain, France and international organizations have all ended in speech making with no meaningful action taken to bring both the state and the armed groups on the dialogue table.
The country has a unique position to end the crisis as it is with Cameroon the only two countries that have a sit at both the Commonwealth and Francophonie.
“There has been a bad faith of the Francophone majority to assimilate the Anglophone minority into the Francophone majority. Since 1969 Cameroon has had just two presidents, all Francophone and there has been dissatisfaction on the part of Anglophone,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, adjunct professor of African politics and government at Georgetown University said in his opening remarks at the subcommittee.
The ongoing crisis in the North West and South West Regions has led tens of thousands of people to flee their homes in search of shelter. Some have migrated to other safe areas in the country; others are in the bushes, while some have sought refuge in neighbouring Nigeria.
Both government and separatist fighters have been accused of committing gross human rights violations against civilians. Children, mothers, girls have faced the brunt of the crisis with the young girls raped and others have gone into prostitution. The actual data in Cameroon on the number of those killed, displaced cannot be ascertained as limited materials are available.
“Canada should lead calls for a fact-finding mission to let the world know some specific data on the crisis such as lives lost; those in detention, and others. There is a lot of propaganda going on now as no one opens up to the crimes that they have committed,” Dr Fomunyoh said.
“In 2020, the UN SG called for a ceasefire as a result of the COVID-19. If nothing is done to bring about a ceasefire, the conflict might explode looking at the second wave of the pandemic.
The USC Clinic has documented serious violations that are ongoing in Cameroon. It is an atrocious act with some analysts warning of an impending genocide in the country.
“Cameroon is facing a humanitarian catastrophe in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rampant killings are taking place, rape and other violence meted on the population,” Hannah Garry, Clinical Professor of Law and Director of International Human Rights Clinic, Gould School of Law said.
“The violence must stop and for years now, the international community has taken limited actions to the crisis. There needs to be the accountability with targeted sanctions brought to persons fuelling the crisis. Canada should act as a third party in bringing the two sides to the dialogue table.”
Kenya: Ruto’s hurdles ahead of 2022 polls
February 19, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenya heads towards critical elections in 2022, and many candidates have already expressed their interests in the country’s top seat led by Deputy President William Ruto. With 2022 drawing closer, political realignments and new parties’ formation have begun at very high gear.
So far, more than ten candidates have announced their presidential bids, and the number might increase with time. The latest to join the race is Kakamega Governor Wycliffe Oparanya and his Mombasa counterpart Hassan Joho of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) party headed by the AU envoy Raila Odinga. The duo whose terms as Governor expire next year are deputizing Odinga. Oparanya and Joho seek the ODM ticket in a battle that will pit them against their boss to get a strong candidate to face Ruto.
“I will submit my nomination papers to seek the ODM ticket for the 2022 presidential race,” Oparanya told the Star.
The bold decision taken by the two county bosses was preceded by the ODM’s earlier announcement inviting applicants interested in vying for the 2022 presidential election of the party’s ticket to submit their applications latest on February 26, 2021. The Elections Board Chairperson Catherine Muyeka Mumma, in an advert on a local daily, said that each candidate must pay a ksh 1 million (approximately 10,000 USD) non-refundable fee. The applicants must also meet t the minimum requirements of presidential candidates as set out by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
“Pursuant to the resolution of the party’s Central Committee on the need for early preparations towards the 2022 General Elections and guided by The Constitution of Kenya, 2010, The Elections Act, 2011, The Political Parties Act, 2011, The Elections (General) Regulations, 2012, The ODM Constitution and The ODM party National Elections and Nomination Rules, the National Elections Board (NEB) hereby gives notice to party members who are interested in vying for the 2022 presidential elections on the ODM party ticket to declare their interest by submitting their applications to the NEB, “ read the part of the advert.
Other candidates include former vice presidents Kalonzo Musyoka and Musalia Mudavadi, Governors Alfred Mutua and Kivutha Kibwana, Senators Gideon Moi and Moses Wetangla, Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Mukhisa Kituyi, and former minister Mwangi Kiunjuri.
Between now and next year, Kenyans are set to witness the birth of new political parties and alliances and party-hopping as leaders try to find out a political vehicle that will drive them to power. Reports from the Registrar of Political Parties’ office show that many people are tendering their resignation from one party and move to another.
“We do have an increase in people changing parties. People resign from one party and join another every day. Resignations are all over now, maybe because of the several by-elections that have been scheduled by the IEBC,” said the Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu.
The ruling party’s ongoing battles, Jubilee, have seen the formation of a new political outfit, namely the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) associated with the deputy president. Even though the second in command has not personally come out and identify himself with the new party, his allies several times have hinted that the party is the chosen bus that will drive their boss to the presidency. Ruto’s allies are somehow correct because the outfit is associated with the Hustler Nation slogan, along with the Wheelbarrow Movement that Ruto has been popularising across the country.
“We formed Jubilee but to our dismay, we are humiliated and derided. We no longer have a say in it. In UDA which is an affiliate to Jubilee, we have a home that can help us ascend to power. There is an option now for us who have a difference of opinion regarding the operations of the Jubilee party. UDA has now gained traction across the country and we shall use it for shelter,” reiterated MP Caleb Kositany.
The United Democratic Alliance (UDA), formerly the Party of Development and Reform (PDR), will be launched soon, followed by the election of officials from the grassroots to the national level, according to the party’s chairman Johnson Muthama.
“We have succeeded in changing the name and already have our headquarters. Now we are in Phase Two where we are set to open offices in all the sub-counties and county headquarters. From there, we will elect officials in all our branches to the top leadership. This is the party by the hustlers and for the hustlers and we want them to own and be part of every step and process of the decision-making in the party,” said Muthama.
The country’s political atmosphere is already tensed as the presidential hopefuls engage in a bitter exchange of words. Recently, Kalonzo and Ruto locked horns over land grabbing claims. Ruto had accused the former of grabbing land belonging to the National Youth Service in Yatta, Machakos County. Kalonzo instead turned guns on the deputy president, accusing him of all manner of ills, and ended up branding him the chief land grabber. Addressing the press in Nairobi on January 19, 2021, the former vice president termed Ruto’s claims wild and desperate propaganda and challenged him to subject himself to lifestyle audit and investigations.
Prior, Musalia Mudavadi’s Amani National Congress Party (ANC) had asked Ruto to resign or face impeachment over his constant attack on the president. Ayub Savula, an ANC deputy party leader, threatened to rally lawmakers to ouster Ruto for allegedly disrespecting President Uhuru Kenyatta. Ruto, allies in rejoinder, described Mudavadi and his party as confused, asking them to keep off the Jubilee party’s affairs.
“Who is supposed to complain? Is it ANC or members of Jubilee? That is a sign of a confused party,” said former National Assembly Chief Whip Benjamin Washiali.
Moreover, Ruto’s claims that Raila should take responsibility for the government’s failures to meet the development plan due to a famous handshake has put him under fire from the opposition chief. Raila criticized him over Jubilee’s unfulfilled promises labeling him “Mr. Six months.”
“Mr Six months! The youngsters you promised laptops eight years ago are now old enough to see through your lies. The youth you promised eight million jobs in eight yrs can see through the wheelbarrow lie you are now peddling. It has been eight yrs Mr Six months and not three years. No Mr Six months!”
“There are people like ‘Mr. Six Months Time’, In six months time we shall give all children in schools laptops, in six months time we shall give one million jobs to our youth, in six months we shall build 47 modern stadia, in six months we shall build tarmacked roads,” said Raila.
President Kenyatta had indicated that he would prefer a person from an ethnic community other than any of the two that have produced the country’s past presidents to succeed him. Many leaders welcomed his statement except those in Ruto’s camp. Ruto hails from the Kalenjin community, which produced a long-serving head of state in Kenya’s political history. The late Daniel Moi served for 24 years before retiring in 2022.
FIFA President kicks-off African visit with stadium inauguration in Mauritania
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
|Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya|
|Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya|
|NOUAKCHOTT, Mauritania, February 17, 2021/ — FIFA (FIFA.com) President Gianni Infantino has arrived in the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, the first stop on an itinerary that will see him visit FIFA member associations in several African countries along with heads of state and African Union (AU) Chairperson Félix Tshisekedi over the coming days.|
Upon arrival, the FIFA President was welcomed by the President of the Mauritanian Football Federation (FFRIM) Ahmed Yahya, and travelled to the Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou to officially inaugurate the venue which was featuring a new artificial turf pitch that received FIFA Forward support.
“We have enjoyed some impressive youth football in a modern and well-equipped stadium which is a very good and concrete example of how FIFA Forward funds are used to develop football all over the world, and particularly in Africa,” the FIFA President said following the inauguration, which was also attended by Taleb Ould Sid´Ahmed, the Mauritanian Minister of Employment, Youth and Sports.
“FIFA is very proud that the FIFA Forward programme was used to invest in the new Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou which and is an excellent setting for the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations. I compliment the FFRIM and its President Ahmed Yahya, and also CAF, on staging this competition especially given the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The competition is a great platform to showcase the amazing young talent of African football, and I look forward to seeing who will take the U20 trophy.”
“This facility, both the stadium and the technical centre, are important facilities for the development of football in Mauritania, and I would like to thank FIFA for helping to make this project come to life through FIFA Forward,” FFRIM President Ahmed Yahya added.
Stade Municipal de Nouadhibou, along with Nouakchott’s Cheikh Boidiya Stadium and Stade Olympique, is currently hosting the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations, which runs from 14 February until 6 March 2021. In staging the event, CAF also benefitted from FIFA COVID-19 Relief Fund support with funding provided for the maintenance and running of stadiums, as well as training of referees and security officers for tournaments.
On the pitch, CAF’s WAFU B champions Ghana recorded a 4-0 success against CECAFA runners-up Tanzania, before Morocco’s Young Atlas Lions, returning after a seven season hiatus from the competition, faced Gambia’s Baby Scorpions.
*SOURCE Fédération internationale de football association (FIFA)
DRC: Joseph Kabila Has Nothing Else To Offer, It’s Time For Tshisekedi- Eloge Mwandwe
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Maniraguha Ferdinand
Twist and turns in the complex political games in the DR Congo have resulted in the emergence of a new coalition which gives President Tshisekedi an upper hand in the power struggle with his predecessor Joseph Kabila.
Kabila’s coalition had majority both in government and in parliament and on some occasions, developmental projects were blocked due to disagreements, which stalled pledges Tshisekedi had promised citizens who voted him in 2018.
In the end of 2020, Tshisekedi made some reforms. He made political consultations with other key political parties including those that had joined FCC of Joseph Kabila. In the end, they agreed to form another Coalition named ‘Union sacrée’ (Sacred Union) aimed at finding a new majority both chambers of parliament.
Senator Modeste Bahati Lukwebo, a former ally of Joseph Kabila, was named as an informant to identify a new majority coalition in the National Assembly. He presented his report to president Tshisekedi by the end of January 2021, after lobbying more than 390 lawmakers out of 500 to join Union sacrée, with majority quitting the FCC of Joseph Kabila.
The report came in the same week that President Tshisekedi accepted the resignation of Prime Minister Sylvestre Ilunga Ilunkamba, two days after parliament voted him out.
Pan African Visions sat for an interview with Eloge Mwandwe, a political analyst, researcher in Rural Economics from Kinshasa and lecturer at the University of Likasi in Kinshasa. Mwandwe is also a member of AFDC (Alliance des forces démocratiques du Congo), the same party as of Lukwebo.
PAV: After the informant presented his report, what is next for DRC?
Mwandwe: A new permanent national assembly’s bureau will be put in place, and the president in respect of our Constitution, will appoint a new Prime Minister among the political leaders who form the current new identified majority.
PAV: It is said that Union sacrée aims at weakening the power of former president Kabila, what kind of threat did he pose to the current president?
Mwandwe: The new identified majority has nothing to do with individual, instead, it was formed to improve citizens’ life, It is about the country. I first of all do not think that the President Kabila whom I owe respect as former head of state, after eighteen years of power has something else to offer to Congolese. He has done what he could and now, it’s time for the current president, Felix Antoine Tshisekedi to implement his vision through the next government.
PAV: Do you think Kabila will not retaliate?
Mwandwe: We are talking about future. Honestly, Congolese people know President Kabila and know his limits as well.
PAV: What incentives did the Informant give to FCC MPs to join Union sacrée?
Mwandwe: He only presented to them as well as other members of parliament from different political organizations, the vision that the President has for the country, which you will agree with me that majority of them decided to support. As I said earlier, it has nothing to do with individual but the country.
PAV: Are you sure that they will stick to the agreement?
Mwandwe: Only God never knows. For members of parliament, I choose to remain optimistic, because the issue at hand concern the future of our country. We have reached a point where we need to decide for a better future on behalf of next generations.
PAV: Are all Congolese behind these reforms of President Tshisekedi?
Mwandwe: Even God in heaven experienced opposition, that is the reason why today we talk of Lucifer. I don’t think that the president of the republic is concerned on whether his vision has total support from Congolese, but I do think he knows that his vision will take the country to the better heights. It will give hope the country has lost a long time ago.
Before elections, we had some people who could not agree with him, but they are the ones who are supporting him today. Some did not want even to mention his name some weeks ago, however they are now defending his vision. It is a matter of time, it is a matter of political results and improving lives.
PAV: Kabila used to be a powerful figure in the army, do you think the army is behind Tshisekedi now?
Mwandwe: Thank God we can now talk of a republican army, not an individual’s army. According to our Constitution, the president of the republic is the only supreme commander of the army. Today, President Tshisekedi is the president of the republic, so, he is the most powerful figure in the army.
PAV: Observers define developments in DRC as worrisome, which could end in violence, what do you think about it?
Mwandwe: It is their opinion, I don’t see such things happening in the future. People should understand that the DRC has moved from a country which could not give hope to its citizens, to the country envisioning hope for its citizens. Majority of Congolese are focused on implementing the president of the republic’s vision.
PAV: Is there any clear difference from FCC of Kabila and new Sacred Union of Tshisekedi?
Mwandwe: The difference between FCC and Sacred Union is that the FCC was created to win elections which it failed to achieve (in 2018). On the other hand, Sacred Union was created to bring reforms in different areas, which will improve social and economic lives of the Congolese people.
We are witnessing a Senseless War in Cameroon – NDI’s Christopher Fomunyoh
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
The UN and its various agencies have to step up and Speak out on the crisis
By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The conflict in Cameroon’s North West and South West Regions has been the most neglected humanitarian crisis in the world for two consecutive years, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council (2019, and 2020).
Speaking during The Oxford Conference on US Senate Resolution 684 on Wednesday, February 17, Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has made it clear that what is ongoing in the Anglophone Regions is “a senseless war.”
Dr Fomunyoh spoke on the role of the international community, including the USA with regards to the implementation of resolution 684.
Despite the polarization that has been witnessed in US policies for some years now, the US Senate was able to come together in a bipartisan fashion and adopt this resolution (684) on January 1, 2021.
Resolution 684 by the US Senate calls for an end to all violence; respect for the human rights of all Cameroonians, and the pursuit of genuinely inclusive dialogue with a credible third party towards resolving the ongoing civil conflict in Anglophone Cameroon.
“We see promise in the US Senate that they are not going to stop at that but they will engage and hope to transform the resolution into a bill and legislation that will have a benchmark and bring the conflict to an end,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh stated.
The Norwegian Refugee Council for two years has stated that the conflict taking place in former British Southern Cameroon is the most underreported in the world. This according to the Senior Associate for Africa needs to change and more have to be done by various actors at the international level.
“The SG (of the Norwegian Refugee Council) is one of the highest-profile personalities to visit the conflict zones. Many have sat in their offices across the world and issued statements without making the efforts to go see for themselves the lives that are being lost and the destruction,” Dr Fomunyoh said.
“The US Holocaust Museum, highly reputable has now classified Cameroon as one of the priority countries in its Genocide Prevention Centre which is a wakeup call for all of us.”
On how the UN should act on the Anglophone crisis that sees no end in sight at the moment, Dr Fomunyoh said the UN needs to step up and speak out. To him, Resolution 2532 issued by the UN SG (calling for a ceasefire by both sides of the conflict due to the COVID pandemic) was not respected in Cameroon as some of the worst atrocities through 2020 happened right in the tick of COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Christopher Fomunyoh stated: “As the world is entering the second wave of the COVID-19, we have to be sensitized as to the fact that that resolution was not implemented and if we do not have an immediate ceasefire, the impact of the conflict is going to be aggravated by the second wave of the pandemic.”
One of the most important works that the UN is expected to do according to Dr Fomunyoh is for them to organize a delegation and conduct a fact-finding mission in Cameroon with the UN Human Rights Council best suited for that.
“Since 2019 the official deaths in this conflict has stayed unbelievable at 3,000, whereas we know that people are being killed daily and even since January 2021, more than 60 people have already been killed. Yet, on all official report, you see it refers to 3,000 deaths. The data on this crisis is underreported due to so many factors (blackouts in the country and the difficulties faced by humanitarian organizations).”
UN Agencies have to raise their voices. The horrible things that are happening fall within the jurisdiction of various UN agencies but yet we are not seeing the sense of urgency that ought to be applied to this case.
“UNICEF for example ought to be shouting on rooftops with regards to the plight of the children caught in this conflict. UN Women (we hear about prostitution, violence against women) should be out there high lightening the plight of women, children and young girls as a result of the crisis,” Dr Fomunyoh added.
“WHO, we have heard about the burning of health facilities, armed groups or soldiers in uniforms going into health facilities allegedly looking for members of armed groups. These are things that have to be talked about by UN agencies to bring more credibility to the reporting we see on the ground.”
Speaking on the role of the US administration, Christopher Fomunyoh says the new administration has started on the right foot. President Joe Biden has made several moves that shows that the US is back to lead the way in terms of democracy. The Secretary of state, Anthony Blinken in his confirmation made specific references to Cameroon as one of the priority areas of concern.
“Congress has an important role to play in bringing an end to the crisis. We are fortunate to see that for the first time in American history the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is an African-American, who knows the continent,” Dr Fomunyoh stated while adding that “I hope that he will use his influence so that the executive get the resources that they need to be able to implement policies that will bring peace in Cameroon.”
Rep. Bass Introduces Legislation To Increase Diversity Within State Department
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
WASHINGTON – Today, Congressmember Karen Bass (D-CA), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, and Global Human rights, re-introduced the Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 to ensure that the U.S. Foreign Service reflects the rich composition of the American citizenry. The legislation establishes a program to identify, attract and welcome diverse mid-career professionals into the Foreign Service.
During the 116th Congress, the Represent America Abroad Act in 2020 received bipartisan support and was co-sponsored by 117 Members of Congress. The bill was passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee in a unanimous voice vote last year.
“The Biden administration’s intentional push to put racial equity and diversity at the center of every facet of their policy agenda is absolutely crucial to the success of their initiatives,” said Congressmember Bass. “This bill is consistent with that effort. To have a successful foreign policy, our foreign service must look like America. The Foreign Service Officer workforce must mirror our commitment to diversity and inclusion in order to effectively advance American values on the world stage. For years, the State Department has expressed a commitment to building a workforce in that vision. I look forward to working with both the State Department and my colleagues here in Congress to increase the diversity at the mid-career and senior levels among our diplomatic corps.”
The Represent America Abroad Act of 2021 would establish a program known as the “Represent America Abroad Mid-career Foreign Service Entry Program”. The program is to be created no later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of the bill with the mission of ensuring that our country’s diplomatic workforce reflects the diverse composition of the United States.
Last year, the Government Accountability Office released a report suggesting that the State Department look at the longstanding issues contributing to its diversity problems and do a better job of addressing barriers to equal opportunity in its workforce. In December, Congressmember Bass called for the passage of this bill in an op-ed published by Foreign Policy. She wrote, in part:
“..,passing this bill is a vital step for building diversity, restoring the career ranks, and enabling better U.S. diplomacy. And the face America presents abroad—including, crucially, in Africa, Asia, and Latin America—will at last begin to look more like the country we actually are.”
Read the full bill here.
Kenya:Deputy President Ruto skips Executive meeting at the State House
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Deputy President William Ruto was conspicuously absent during the executive meeting led by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the State House in Nairobi.
The reason why the second in command snubbed the meeting is yet to be established, but speculations state that a fall-out could have triggered Ruto’s absence with his boss.
Ruto has openly differed with President Uhuru Kenyatta in the calls for a referendum. The deputy president has maintained that the constitution amendment pushed by Kenyatta and his handshake brother Raila Odinga is not a priority for Kenyans.
Prior, the Head of State had accused Ruto of campaigning instead of helping him fulfil Jubilee’s government promises to citizens.
In an attempt to curb early campaigns, he cracked the whip on Ruto allies holding senior positions in the government both in the Senate and the National Assembly alleged to be driving Ruto’s agenda.
Consequently, last week President Kenyatta dared his assistant to resign, accusing him of doublespeak.
“On one hand, he is saying the government has failed, and on the other hand, he is saying we as a government have done this and that development. That is doublespeak; you can’t be speaking of the failures of a government where you serve while at the same time outlining what you refer to as we have achieved as a government. You better resign,” ” said President Kenyatta.
Meanwhile, the Thursday meeting at the State House brought together Cabinet Secretaries, Chief Administrative Secretaries and Principal Secretaries. They deliberated on the status of ongoing National Government programmes covering Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 flagship projects.
State House spokesperson Kanze Dena said President outlined his vision and priorities for this year, including the completion of ongoing Government projects and programmes across all sectors and regions of the country.
Kenyatta also directed the officials to ensure adequate public resource utilisation in service delivery, noting Kenyans must always get the highest value return for their money.
The President appealed to the officials to embrace teamwork and unity of purpose to deliver the promise of a better and prosperous Kenya for all.
Kenyan lecturer Prof Catherine Ngila Bags L’Oréal-UNESCO Award
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
Kenyan lecturer Prof Catherine Ngila is one of the five women recognized by L’Oréal-Unesco 2021.
The five were awarded for their contributions in mathematics, astrophysics, chemistry, and informatics globally during the International Day of Women and Girls in Science held on February 11.
Prof Ngila, the acting Executive Director of the African Academy of Sciences, was recognized for introducing, developing, and applying nanotechnology-based analytical methods to monitor water pollutants.
Her innovation is essential for the development of water resource management without degrading the environment.
The other four women are Prof Kyojo Nozaki, a professor of Chemistry in Tokyo Japan, Professor Shafi Goldwasser, the Director of the Simons Institute for Theory of Computing and professor in electrical and computer science in MIT USA; Prof Franscoise Combes, chair of Galaxies and Cosmology in France, and Prof Alicia Dickenstein, a mathematics professor at the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The former Deputy Vice-Chancellor in charge of Academic and Student Affairs (DVC-AA) at Riara University holds a bachelor’s degree in Education. She also has Masters of Science in Chemistry from Kenyatta University and a Ph.D. in Analytical Environmental Chemistry from the University of South Wales, Australia.
According to Unesco Assistant Director-General for Natural Sciences Shamila Nair Bedouelle, attracting women to a scientific or technological discipline is a big challenge.
“We must also know how to retain them, ensuring that their careers are not strewn with obstacles that their achievements are recognized and supported by the international scientific community,” she noted.
The awards are part of the 23rd international prize for women in science.
Kenya’s Amendment Bill 2020 gathers pace
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Samuel Ouma
The race to pass the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020, also known as the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) referendum Bill, is gaining momentum.
The County Assemblies are now the centre of the focus in the push for the constitution amendment. Last month, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) passed the draft Bill to the Members of County Assemblies for approval.
At least 24 County Assemblies of the 47 are required to give the Bill a nod before it goes to the National Assembly.
By Thursday, February 18, eight Counties had passed the Bill, the latest being Kisii County.
The Assembly approved the Bill on Thursday, according to Speaker Amos Onderi.
Other Counties that have passed the BBI referendum Bill are Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Busia, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, and Kajiado County Assemblies.
Only Baringo County has rejected the Bill.
It is being projected that Counties from the deputy president William Ruto’s backyard, such as Uasin Gishu, Nandi, Bomet, and Kericho, will reject the Bill.
Ruto has publicly rejected calls for a referendum, claiming those behind it are driven by selfish ambitions.
Terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina denies Rwandan citizenship
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Jean d’Amour Mbonyinshuti
Terror suspect Paul Rusesabagina has objected to the jurisdiction of the High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes to try him in a hearing where he is accused of terrorism-related crimes.
Rusesabagina who appeared in court alongside 20 other co-accused on Wednesday said he is a Belgian citizen and requested the court to change that his case file.
He also prayed to the court to have his case transferred to Belgium if Rwanda accuses him of any crime saying Rwandan courts had no jurisdiction to try him.
The 66-year-old was a leader of the Rwandan Movement for Democratic Change (MRCD) in French acronym. It is a coalition of opposition groups, which has an armed wing known as the National Liberation Forces (FLN) also in French.
He was arrested in August 2020 when he believed to have been flying to Bujumbura’s capital of Burundi only to find himself at the Kigali International he allegedly brought himself to Kigali International airport.
The case was heard by judges from the Nyanza based High Court Chamber for International and Cross-Border Crimes located in the Southern Province but used the Supreme Court chambers to allow more people to attend given the bigger space of the court.
The court proceedings were live-streamed on YouTube channels on the links provided.
It also attracted both local and international media with some livestreaming it.
Rusesabagina is accused alongside 20 other suspects including the famous Callixte Nsabimana alias Sankara who was the Spokesperson of FLN and 19 other suspects all but one are male.
Rusesabagina faces nine crimes including the formation of an irregular armed group, membership of a terrorist group, financing terrorism, murder as an act of terrorism, abduction as an act of terrorism, and armed robbery as an act of terrorism.
The prosecution alleges that Rusesabagina’s MRCD through its armed wing FLN launched the attacks in Rwanda’s Southern Province through Nyungwe forests and killed civilians, injured others, and committed other crimes.
The attacks were carried out between 2018 and 2019 and at least nine people in the Nyabimata sector in Nyaruguru district were killed according to the prosecution.
FLN had earlier claimed responsibility of the attacks.
Presenting his defense, Rusesabagina whose lawyer is Gatera Gashabana admitted the details read out by prosecution as to who he was such as names, place and time of birth, parent’s names among other details but denied being Rwandan saying he acquired Belgian citizenship after denouncing the one of Rwanda.
“I am a Belgian citizen and have repeated it several times this being the fifth one, this should be changed in my case file,” Rusesabagina told a three-bench Judges.
Lawyer Gashabana told the court that his client was appearing in a wrong court stressing the Rwandan courts had no judicial competency to try him.
“Given that Rusesabagina has no Rwandan citizenship but he is a Belgian citizen, I find that the court has no competency to try him and your only responsibility should be to send him back to Belgium’s court,” said the seasoned lawyer.
The government was presented by three prosecutors led by Deputy Prosecutor General Angelique Habyarimana who Rusesabagina’s claims of not being a Rwanda does not strip Rwandan courts of the powers so long as the crimes were committed on Rwandan territory.
The prosecutors also said that there is nowhere in official documents Rusesabagina has legally denounced Rwandan citizenship which is the one of origin.
While Rusesabagina said that the prosecution in Rwanda had referred his case to Belgium prosecutors before and they should the latter proceed, the prosecution said Rwanda had issued an arrest warrant against the suspect.
The prosecution said there were two indictments against Rusesabagina, one issued in 2010 and sent to its Belgian counterparts while it also issued an international arrest warrant against the suspect in 2018 according to Bonavanture Ruberwa, one of the prosecutors, said.
After spending more than five hours, the presiding judges said they deliberated on Rusesabagina’s objection on which they could not pronounce as it raised concerns of the court’s jurisdiction.
The hearing will resume on February 26, according to the judge.
Prime co-accused pin Rusesabagina
One of Rusesabagina’s co-accused Callixte Nsabimana has pinned Rusesabagina who referred to as ‘my boss’ saying he was surprised by hearing that Rusesabagina was not a Rwandan and yet he coordinated and financed attacks with a belief of becoming the Rwandan president once they win and overflow the current government.
“I was Rusesabagina’s vice-president in (MRCD) and I wonder how he claims not to be a Rwandan while his aim was to become the president when we launched the rebel group,” Nsabimana who pleaded guilty of all 16 accusations said.
Nsabimana prayed to the court to ignore Rusesabagina’s claims and proceed with the trial saying he could not be the victim of the delay. He was arrested in 2018 and has since been in prison.
A Lifetime Experience for Me -2nd Runner Up Ethel Mupambwa from Zimbabwe
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
Having grown in a patriarch rural area, the inspiration behind MoneyMart was that I wanted a business which could help women uplift their small projects says Ethel Mupambwa, from Zimbabwe who emerged as the 2nd runner up. It was a lifetime experience for me, and our clients will see change, says Mupamwa.
“Our clients are going to receive an excellent service without delays like they would experience in the past due to constrained cash shortages. MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software,” said Ethel Mupamwa of plans going forward.
Ethel Mupambwa recently emerged 2nd Runner up in the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation with cash prize of $150,000, what was your reaction to this news?
I was thrilled to say the least. I could not believe that seriously, my name is in the Top 3. It was a lifetime experience, a set legacy for my kids and the Zimbabwean upcoming generation.
How did you hear about the ABH and what motivated you to this a shot, your instincts or the conviction that you had the potential of making a winning proposition or pitch?
I found about ABH through emails from Funds For NGOs updates. When l went through the requirements for participation, I got the conviction that I had the winning proposition as l am consciously contributing to specific Sustainable Development Goals.
You are Co-Founder and Executive Director of Moneymart, can you shed some light on the company and what pushed you into micro finance?
Having grown in a patriarch rural area, the inspiration behind MoneyMart was that I wanted a business which could help women uplift their small projects- I wanted to help ANY project, no matter how small, even something as small as a tomato-vendor by the road side in her location. I desire to see women everywhere become the Proverbs 31 woman who is empowered to take care of her own family, a woman who “considers a piece of land and buys it herself’- a financially empowered woman. I believe that EVERYONE WINS when women have equal access to economic opportunity. As a young woman growing in Zimbabwe, I have always been challenged to step into the gap to create the future that l want to see because l realized am one of those our nation has been waiting for to change the lives of our societies. MoneyMart is a leading microfinance institution on a mission to transform people’s lives by creating sustainable wealth through the provision of unique, well researched financial solutions.
May we know what impact initiatives like Moneymart have on the economy in Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe has been marred by economic strife over the past two decades such that, 84% of the working population is in the informal sector, with 53% of business owners being women. The biggest challenge these businesses face is lack of formal financial services and limited financial knowledge. And to realize our economic growth, there is a need to introduce financing vehicles that can help realize these entrepreneurs grow as they contribute a significant percentage to the GDP and promote decent work. MoneyMart Finance is innovatively making sure that micro-entrepreneurs are being financially included.
In addition, we entered the renewable energy space with a primary objective to distribute quality Solar-Home-Systems (Solar-Lighting-Kits) on credit to people living off the power grid. MMF plans to distribute over 10,000 units to households and businesses in rural areas and peri-urban areas which are off the power grid.
What are some of the challenges Moneymart has faced over the years and with regards to 2020, how did COVID 19 affect your activities?
The biggest challenge over the years was ability to raise patient capital for the business in consideration to the hyperinflationary environment we were operating in, more so being a financial institution. The biggest impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were difficulties in disbursements, collection of reimbursements and meeting with clients face-to-face, and reorganizing internal systems and flow of work. In addition, the impact also extended to our clients with the country lockdown; many micro-entrepreneurs not being able to report for their day-to-day duties.
In what way could the government in Zimbabwe be more helpful in supporting the kind of services offered by Moneymart and others?
In my opinion, Zimbabwe has suffered more because of inconsistent policies. I believe if our government continue to be consistent, it could be more helpful especially for the upcoming entrepreneurs as long-term plans could be made and acted upon. However, I also want to applaud the Government for the support it gives to women in the country to the extent of opening a Women’s Bank. It shows how much they believe in women entrepreneurs and this gives so much support to services offered by MoneyMart as it thrives to make sure women are financially included.
With $150,000 in prize money, what is going to change for Ethel Mupambwa and Moneymart?
It is the change that is going to happen to our clients rather. Our clients are going to receive an excellent service without delays like they would experience in the past due to constrained cash shortages. MoneyMart is going to be a digital MFI, and the prize money will assist in the development of an AI digital lending software.
There are many young people in Zimbabwe who now look up to you as a model, what advise do you have for them in challenging times the country is going through economically?
My advice to young people has always been that “Fortune favours the Brave.” Be a solution provider to the people around you. Challenging times have vast opportunities that they come with; those challenges need a young generation to solve them. The first step is to just start!
Speaking broadly, what role do you think initiatives like the ABH could play in moving Africa forward?
These initiatives play a fundamental role in moving Africa forward. Exposure of new things and networking with other experienced and world-renowned entrepreneurs catapults one’s ideas to unimaginable heights. The journey becomes bearable if you are cheered up by a great people who have been on the journey before, who will be giving you confidence that it truly can be achieved. The assistance in financial resource goes a long way in making sure ideas are swiftly implemented.
We are doing this interview at a time the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, AfCTA has entered its operational phase, do you share in the optimism it has generated and any opportunities you see in it for Moneymart?
I share in the optimism AfCTA has generated. For MoneyMart Finance, it means a broader market in Africa. Its biggest goal for inclusive and sustainable development in Africa is what we all have been waiting for as an upcoming generation.
The ABH Experience Was Both Challenging And Gratifying- Oluwasoga Oni from Nigeria, 1st Runner Up.
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners, says Oluwasoga Oni, who emerged as 1st runner up. Describing the experience as both challenging and gratifying, Oluwasoga Oni says he enjoyed interacting with judges at every stage of the competition and intends to keep in touch with many of them.
The CEO & Co-Founder, MDaas Globalsays their big vision is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa’s next billion.
“Being an organization that builds tech enabled diagnostic centers, we are going to use these funds to build at least 3 or four additional diagnostic centers in tier 2 to tier 3 cities in Nigeria. More of these in additional locations will bring high quality diagnostics to the underserved communities,” says Oluwasoga Oni on plans for MDaaS Global going forward.
Oluwasoga Oni is CEO & Co-Founder, MDaaS Global could we start this interview with an introduction of MDaaS Global, and the vision that led to its creation?
MDaaS Global builds and operates diagnostic facilities in clinically underserved communities in Nigeria. Our centers provide high quality diagnostic services such as radiology (ultrasound & x ray), pathology and cardiology (ECHO, ECG) and serve as the centralized diagnostic department for many small and medium sized hospitals and clinics around the communities we operate in. Our vision is providing high quality and affordable healthcare for African’s next billion by building critical health infrastructure and services in places that need it the most. We launched our first facility in Ibadan, Nigeria in 2017 and have since expanded to 4 more locations in Lagos, Ilorin, Osogbo and Abuja.
When was it created and what impact has it had on the healthcare sector in Nigeria, any numbers or statistics that you want to share?
We launched originally in 2016 as a medical equipment provider before eventually pivoting to a diagnostic service provider in 2017. Since our pivot and launch in Ibadan, we have served over 33,000 patients across four states. About 70% of our patient population are women and about 55% of women of reproductive age.
How expensive is the technology that you use in running your operations and where has your funding come from?
A lot of technology we used in running our centers are open sourced and/or off the shelf technology platforms. We are also currently using building an internal diagnostic management platform to effectively manage our centers. We raised investment from a variety of sources. In the initial stage, it was mostly family and friends, but we have since raised venture capital for prominent African’s VCs such as Consonance Investment Managers Ventures Platform, Future Africa Fund and Flying Doctors Investment Company and as well as international organizations such as Techstars, FINCA Ventures etc.
You operate in a country where power is an issue, what impact has the power crisis had on your operations?
Getting constant power supply from the grid is almost impossible at the moment in Nigeria. As a result, we have had to supplement our grid power with power generators which of course increase our cost of operations. Unfortunately, this is the reality for many Nigerian businesses like ours.
You recently emerged as 1st Runner Up in the 2020 Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards sponsored by the Jack Ma Foundation, how was this news received by Oluwasoga Oni?
I was very excited to be one of the winners of the competition out of over 22,000 contestants who applied across the continent. It is quite exhilarating to be one of the top finalists, particularly given how competitive it was. The ABH experience was both challenging and gratifying. The competition had so many talented entrepreneurs in it and it is a privilege to be one of the Top 3 winners. I also really enjoyed interacting with the judges at every single stage of the competition and intend to keep in touch with many of them.
How did you hear about the ABH and was emerging as runner up with $250,000 cash prize an outcome you envisaged?
The winner of the competition last year (Temie Giwa-Tubosun, Founder & CEO of LifeBank) was Nigerian and also worked in healthcare. It was all over the news when she won. Seeing that made me aware of the competition and of course, Jack Ma is one of the best entrepreneurs in the world and I really wanted a chance to talk and learn from him and I did.
With the hefty cash prize and newfound fame, what is going to change for Oluwasoga Oni and the MDaaS Global?
The funds from the competition are being put towards furthering our mission and vision at MDaaS Global which is building more diagnostics facilities in clinically underserved areas across Nigeria. Being an organization that builds tech enabled diagnostic centers, we are going to use these funds to build at least 3 or four additional diagnostic centers in tier 2 to tier 3 cities in Nigeria. More of these in additional locations will bring high quality diagnostics to the underserved communities. We also plan to find more communities that need the kind of diagnostics that we provide. Our big vision at MDaaS is to shift African healthcare from sick care to more personalized, continuous, and preventative healthcare for Africa’s next billion. Additionally, the ABH competition came with great learning lessons as well which we will definitely draw from as we continue to reach out across Nigeria.
When you juxtapose the challenges facing Nigeria and Africa with the quality of the business initiatives that were pitched by you and others, what future do you see for the continent?
Just looking at the quantity and quality of entrepreneurs in this competition, I am very excited about the future of Africa. There are a lot of young people building businesses that are solving important challenges across the length and breadth of the continent, from healthcare to education and youth development. It is inspiring to see, and I should say the sky is the limit, given the ABH competition, which is running a 10-year commitment to inspire, train and support entrepreneurs in Africa, to build inclusive businesses models that can create jobs and economic opportunity for the continent.
Entrepreneurs at all levels should seize this amazing opportunity and consider taking part in the Africa’s Business Heroes competition this year and in the future.
Any word for the Jack Ma Foundation that created and funded this initiative and all those who worked in diverse phases of the 2020 ABH Awards?
The real MVP of the ABH competition was the Jack Ma Foundation Team who moved ahead with this competition despite the pandemic and all of the challenges that came with coordinating the competition across multiple African countries. I (and many other African’s entrepreneurs) are lucky to have such a superstar team dedicated to supporting African entrepreneurship. No proper words can express how grateful myself and my team are for the opportunity to be part of this initiative.
To many in Nigeria and Africa who now see in you a mentor and will like to emulate your success, what message for them, and any tips for future contestants of the ABH Awards?
The key advice I have for other African entrepreneurs is to learn how to own their narrative and tell their own story. I believe that this was key to our success in this competition. Every great idea needs believers and supporters and having a great story about “why it matters” is critical to getting others to believe in the vision and mission of the company. Africa is on the rise, existing and aspiring entrepreneurs across the continent must strive to gain knowledge, educate themselves and keep up with new trends to stay competitive. Research and innovation are key, and when backed up with the right knowledge, skills, and resources it is possible for any entrepreneur to thrive and bring real change to the continent, while inspiring the next generation.
We Hope To Spark A Movement Around Entrepreneurship In Africa-Zahra Baitie
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
“Our hope is that in 10 years, we will have identified, spotlighted and supported 100 entrepreneur heroes from Africa whose stories will inspire the continent and beyond,” says Zahra Baitie, Partnerships & Program Manager of Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) at Jack Ma Foundation.
Discussing the ABH Awards with PAV, Zahra says in two years the sum of $2.5 million has been disbursed in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries.
With plans underway for additional funds on training, to developing a platform to connect the circa 30000 entrepreneurs who have applied to the program with each other as well as with investors, service providers and mentors, the ABH awards are on course to make a profoundly consequential impact on the development and economic landscape in Africa.
“We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together,” says Zahra Baitie
Thanks for accepting to grant this interview, could you start by introducing Jack Ma Foundation and the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) Awards for us?
It’s a pleasure – thank you for providing us the opportunity to introduce the Africa’s Business Heroes prize competition. The prize is the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship program in Africa and was launched in 2018 with the mission to spotlight entrepreneurs from across Africa to showcase their talent and businesses.
Every year, the competition identifies and awards grant funding to 10 entrepreneur heroes. Their stories and pitches are given a global platform in the finale, which is televised as the “Africa’s Business Heroes” Show and distributed across Africa via local and pan-African broadcasters such as StarTimes and DSTV and across the globe via YouTube & Youku. We hope this Show can serve as a learning opportunity for aspiring entrepreneurs as they watch our top 10 pitch to legendary business leaders like Strive Masiyiwa and Ibukun Awosika first-hand.
Over the course of 10 years, we will recognize 100 outstanding African entrepreneurs and allocate US$100 million in grant funding, training programs, and support for the broad African entrepreneurial ecosystem. We are committed to give entrepreneurs across Africa a platform to develop their business ideas and inspire others to pursue entrepreneurship.
The ABH is in its second year now, may we know how much has gone out in prize money since its inception?
To date, we have disbursed $2.5 million in grant funds to 20 inspiring African entrepreneur heroes from 11 countries.
In our inaugural year, we awarded $1 million to our Top 10 Heroes. Following the success of our 2019 Grand Finale and ABH Show, we pledged additional funds to the ABH program bringing the total size of our fund to $100 million and increased the yearly prize pool for the Top 10 from $1 million to $1.5 million. Now, the 1st Place Hero wins a $300,000 grant; the 2nd place Hero wins $250,000, the third place Hero wins a $150,000 all other 7 Heroes gain a $100,000 in grant funds.
In addition, we will be investing additional funds on training for entrepreneurs and developing a platform to connect the ~30,000 entrepreneurs who have applied to our program to each other as well as to investors, service providers and mentors. We hope to spark a movement around entrepreneurship in Africa so that an entire ecosystem of stakeholders work hand in hand to create new opportunities together.
Can you walk us through what a typical selection process looks like, Africa has 54 countries, and how is the process carried out in a way that it reaches the length and breadth of the continent in a manner that is equitable?
Our judging process is comprised of 4 stages and is deliberately rigorous to ensure both fairness and quality in our assessment process. Round 1 is an online assessment of the written applications, from which we select our Top 50 finalists. In Round 2, our Top 50 finalists undergo in-depth online video call interviews with our judges who then determine our Top 20 finalists. Our Top 20 finalists subsequently undergo a due diligence process by Pricewaterhouse Coopers before proceeding to our Semi-Finale pitches where they pitch a 7-person panel comprised of industry leaders, investors and renowned entrepreneurs. This panel then identifies our Top 10 Heroes who go on to the Grand Finale.
Importantly, at every stage we work with our network of over 150 judges from across the globe and a range of industries to assess applicants with a scoring rubric, which allows for a standardized assessment process. We also ensure that in the earlier stages of the judging process, we match candidates to judges based on industry alignment and geographical relevance to ensure that local contexts are factored into the assessment process.
May we know the judges who made the final selection for this and are they the same each year or the Foundation appoints different members of the panel?
Our Grand Finale judging panel consists of global business legends who provide our finalists insightful feedback and ask them provoking questions. While the line-up may alternate throughout the years, the panel will always be comprised of renowned business leaders. In our 2020 edition, our Grand Finale judging panel consisted of:
- Strive Masiyiwa – Founder & Chairman of Econet Group
- Madam Ibukun Awosika – Chairwoman of the First Bank of Nigeria Limited & CEO of the Chair Centre group.
- Joe Tsai – Executive Vice Chairman, Alibaba Group
- Lucy Peng – Co-Founder & Partner of Alibaba Group and Executive Chairwoman of Lazada Group
What other follow up is done by the Foundation to support winners of the ABH awards in their entrepreneurial growth?
The ABH journey does not end at the Grand Finale or the moment we hand over the cheques. We work closely with the winners as they continue to grow and find success, and the program continues to run training, education and networking opportunities beyond the finale.
Part of this means hosting regular community check-ins with our finalists to facilitate greater collaboration. As a result of the prize, we’ve already seen our heroes build partnerships and cooperation with each other across different markets. For example, two heroes from 2019, Kevine Kagrimpindu of Uzuri K&Y and Moulaye Taboure of Afrikrea worked together to launch an online store for Uzuri K&Y on Afrikrea, expanding her reach across the globe.
The program also provides learning opportunities via the Alibaba e-founders fellowship course, which several of our Heroes have indicated has been pivotal to their business development. Beyond this, we also look to provide our finalists with a spotlight to ensure their stories are spotlighted and shared with global audiences. Lastly, we also aim to connect our finalists with investors where possible and have already made promising introductions between our finalists and Venture Capital firms. We look to do more of this in the years to come especially as we develop an online platform to bring different stakeholders together.
The second year of the awards coincided as well with the shock of COVID 19, how did this affect the smooth functioning of the ABH?
The COVID-19 pandemic threw us some challenges but also presented novel opportunities to us. It forced us to go fully digital. For example, we had to pivot from a physical roadshow across a few African countries to a completely online launch.
With this online launch we were able to engage with over 4,000 entrepreneurs from across Africa. We also had to transition from an in-person Semi-Finale and Grand Finale to create online experiences that were rich and dynamic. Our Grand Finale connected 13 locations from around the world. We also created in-country studios and leveraged a custom-built platform on DingTalk to ensure that the experience went beyond your regular online event.
What kind of change does the Jack Ma Foundation hope to see in Africa after ten years that the Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) is designed for?
Our hope is that in 10 years, we will have identified, spotlighted and supported 100 entrepreneur heroes from Africa – heroes whose stories will inspire the continent and beyond. We hope to create a network of changemakers who can inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs to make a difference in their local communities and are working to solve the most pressing problems, as well as building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future. Ultimately, we hope to see these Heroes working together to create pan-African solutions and digital ecosystems that help Africa to chart a new path and circumvent some of the development challenges it faces.
May we know the kind of feedback the Foundation has received and cooperation it is getting from African countries?
We are encouraged to have received widespread support from across Africa. Firstly, we received applications from all 54 African countries. Secondly, we are very grateful to have received support from various heads of state and governments from across Africa from our inception to now including Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast.
For those who read this interview and hear about the ABH for the first time, how can they try their luck, any information available on the third edition?
We welcome African entrepreneurs from all sectors that have businesses that are at least 3 years old and legally registered to try their luck! As one our Semi-Finale judges said at our 2020 Launch, “fortune favors the bold.”
We want to make sure the prize is as inclusive as possible, and applications will be open in English as well as French to African entrepreneurs regardless of sector, age or gender. Aspiring applicants can visit our website: africabusinessheroes.org and our social media accounts: @africa_heroes (Twitter) & @africabusinessheroes (Instagram, Facebook & LinkedIn) for information and to sign up to receive updates.
We will launch our 2021 applications in March, and we’ll notify all subscribers to our newsletter and our social media accounts once it opens. In the meantime, I encourage all interested applicants to learn about our past Heroes on our website and social media accounts to gain inspiration.
A Lifeline for African Entrepreneurs from the Jack Ma Foundation ABH Awards
February 18, 2021 | 0 Comments
By Ajong Mbapndah L
For a continent full of potentials but limited in opportunities, the African Business Heroes -ABH prize competition and show organized by the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI), the Jack Ma Foundation’s flagship philanthropic program in Africa, is proving to be a veritable lifeline for many Africans.
With the aim of identifying, supporting and inspiring the next generation of African entrepreneurs making a difference in their community, the ABH awards have generated tremendous excitement across the continent. From $1 million in the inaugural edition in 2019, the laureates of the second edition in 2020 shared a total of $1.5 million in prize money.
Open to entrepreneurs across all sectors and African countries, the ABH awards have a special focus on those building up their local communities and working to solve the most pressing problems.
From three different countries, in three different regions, two females and one male, with projects ranging from renewable energy, health and micro finances, the top three laureates of the second edition sum up the challenges and hopes of a continent on the move.
PAV revisits the 2020 edition with exclusive interviews of Zahra Baitie Partnerships & Program Manager, Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative (ANPI) at the Jack Ma Foundation, winner of the Africa’s Business Heroes (ABH) 2020 Awards Chebet Lesan from Kenya, 1st Runner Up Oluwasoga Oni from Nigeria, and Ethel Mupambwa 2nd Runner up from Zimbabwe..