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Cote d’Ivoire Farmers Grows Giant Snails in Booming Farms.

Giant snails, which may weigh up to 500 grams, reach a length of 10 centimeters, and are highly valued in the Ivory Coast, are sadly vanishing from the rainforest due to deforestation and pesticide use.

Locals are growing them in thriving farms in an attempt to preserve the species while also making money.

“Snail farming is less expensive, it doesn’t require any veterinary products, and it’s one of the few types of farming where you won’t be told to buy veterinary feed or pay outside expenses. So it’s less expensive, it’s easy, it’s natural, and it’s organic,” said Bernus Bleu, founder and director of the Côte d’Ivoire expertise escargots (CIEE).

Thousands of Ivorians have entered the field of snail farming after obtaining training since it is easy, profitable, and productive. The government reports that output has increased significantly, going from 25 to 250 tonnes of snails per month in just five years.

Approximately 1,500 remain in the humid southern region of Côte d’Ivoire today.

“We train the farmers, we set them up and then we buy back. And our sale outlets, of course, are the snail shells, which are used to feed livestock. The third outlet is the snail’s slime, which can be used to make cosmetic products, and we have exclusive rights to make soap from snail slime,” added the CIEE director.

In Azaguié, 40 km north of the capital city, four women combine snail mucus, coconut oil, green coloring, and scent to manufacture soap and shower gel at the Côte d’Ivoire expertise escargots headquarters. In the little workshop, 5,000 soaps and 5,000 gel bottles are typically made every week.

According to Nelly Blon, the Workshop Manager, “Snail mucin hydrates the skin. It moisturizes, improves the complexion, and slows down the aging of the skin”.

In addition to being incredibly attractive, snails are a delicacy that is used in many Ivorian cuisines. “People like it because it’s sweet… If it’s well-prepared, it’s very tasty,” said “La Jumelle”, a snail vendor. 

In the last 60 years, Côte d’Ivoire has lost almost 90% of its forest cover, mostly as a result of overuse of its agricultural resources, especially cocoa, of which it is the world’s largest producer.

Regular pesticide usage, deforestation, and climatic dangers are deadly to both people and wildlife.

 

Turkiye, Algeria Sign Twelve Different Agreements, Boost bilateral relationship.

Türkiye and Algeria signed 12 agreements on Tuesday in various fields during a visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Erdogan and his Algerian counterpart, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, co-chaired the second meeting of the Türkiye-Algeria High-Level Cooperation Council in the capital, Algiers.

Afterward, the leaders joined a signing ceremony for the agreements.

Addressing trade between the two countries, Erdogan said: “Last year, our trade volume reached a record of $5.3 billion, and we expect it to reach $6 billion by the end of this year.

“With the efforts we will increase, we hope to reach the target of $10 billion in trade volume that we set with my brother Tebboune in a short time,” he said.

Erdogan shared his appreciation for Algeria’s efforts to evaluate its economic potential under the leadership of Tebboune.

“We closely follow the efforts of around 1,400 Turkish companies supporting this process. We take pride in our companies being the largest investors and job providers in non-hydrocarbon sectors in Algeria,” he said. “We will strive to increase these investments even further. We are pleased with Algeria’s investments in our country.”

Türkiye desires to diversify and enhance relations in energy and renewable energy through new partnerships with Algeria, added Erdogan.

Tebboune said Erdogan’s visit, despite the “special and exceptional” conditions at the regional and international levels, is a significant success for relations.

Considering the sincere will on both sides, Türkiye-Algeria relations are strong and have open horizons for further cooperation, said Tebboune, adding Algeria has become Türkiye’s second-largest trading partner in Africa.

Erdogan and Tebboune also signed a joint statement on the second meeting of the High-Level Cooperation Council between Türkiye and Algeria.

Meanwhile, Türkiye’s global news agency, Anadolu, and Algeria Press Service signed the cooperation agreement.

Ethiopia: 404 Megawatts of Electricity Generated from Wind Power.

Ethiopian Electric Power (EEP) announced that the country has generated 404 megawatts of electricity from wind power.

EEP Corporate Communications Director Moges Mekonen told the Ethiopian Press Agency (EPA) that the country has reached a total production of 404 MW of electric power from Wind power.

He noted that many citizens are getting electricity from the wind power plants that have been built so far.

Accordingly, the combined generating capacity of Ashegoda, Adama I and II, and Aysha II wind power plants has reached 404 megawatts, he added.

A feasibility study has been completed for the construction of 18 wind power projects with a capacity to generate 2,700 megawatts, the Director expressed.

Moges added that Gode, Kabribeyah, Tulu Guled, and Adigala are among the places where the planned projects will be carried out.

He stated that Ethiopia is paying special attention to the development of renewable energy so that the natural resources are being utilized with new technologies using wind energy.

Encouraged by the already attained results in renewable energy exploitation, the government is exerting extra efforts to generate more power this fiscal year, Moges mentioned.

Wind power is more reliable and cost-effective than hydro-power generation since the water level of dams decreases during dry seasons, he noted.

Moges said that generating adequate power enables the country to witness sustainable economic growth while getting its citizens out of poverty and darkness.

According to him, Ethiopia has the capacity to produce energy up to 1.3 gigawatts from wind, 45,000 MW from hydropower, and 10,000 MW from geothermal.

Harare-Beitbridge highway Nears Completion.

The rehabilitation of the Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge Highway is about 80 percent complete with 470 km out of the total 580 km of the road now opened to traffic, a move hailed by motorists.

 

Yesterday, the Government opened a 5.4km stretch in Mvuma which was recently reconstructed.

The rehabilitation of the Harare-Beitbridge highway and modernization of the Beitbridge Border Post to bring in efficient systems aimed at reducing or eliminating delays are some of the signature projects of President Mnangagwa’s administration.

 

Beitbridge Border Post has already been commissioned by the President and users of the busiest land border in the SADC region have commended the speed with which they are being cleared.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona yesterday led a delegation on a tour of the highway where he opened the 5,4km part of the road in Mvuma, starting from the Gweru turnoff.

 

In an interview, Minister Mhona said he was happy with the progress made so far along the highway.

 

“I am happy as the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development standing here to demonstrate that we are in the Second Republic and you don’t see us in offices.

 

“Just to mirror what our iconic leader His Excellency Dr Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is doing, we now have to walk the talk and we have opened today, a 5.4km stretch which was the outstanding stretch between Harare and Masvingo.

 

“The stretch is in a wetland so it took time for the contractor (Fossil Contracting) to work on the particular stretch. What I like about the Second Republic is that we are building our nation in line with the President’s mantra “Nyika inovakwa nevene vayo” and we are using our resources.

 

“We have done close to 470km and if we talk of Harare to Masvingo which is close to 296km, the only missing link is the Manyame Bridge and also at Fairfields where we have a 1km stretch.

 

“Why that is the missing link is because we are going build a road over the rail bridge and we are also working at Manyame Bridge so that the connectivity now between Harare and Masvingo, the 296km will be complete,” he said.

The government would also work on other feeder roads such as from Mvuma to Gweru and Mvuma going to Kwekwe.

 

These would offload the burden from Harare-Bulawayo Road so that those who want to go to Gweru would also come through Chivhu, Mvuma then to Gweru.

 

“But the exciting thing about this movement we are running with as a Ministry is the idea to pursue and run with stalled projects. You have seen across the country, in cities we are busy attending to the stalled projects and a number of these projects are being completed just before the advent of the rains.

 

“We have said to the rural district councils, in particular Chirumanzu, that we also need to move with speed so that we rehabilitate our rural roads that had been neglected for some time,” the Minister said.

 

On the Harare-Chirundu Road, Minister Mhona said the ministry had already engaged the contractors and they would soon start from Beitbridge going to Bulawayo and then Victoria Falls.

 

Fossil Contracting general manager Engineer Kudzaishe Magodoro said: “We want to thank the Second Republic for giving us this opportunity to do this road. So far, we have done 116km in total and today we are opening 5,4km of part of the road and we are so happy.”

 

Motorists interviewed by The Herald along the highway thanked the Government for attending to and reconstructing the country’s major roads which were in a bad state.

 

Mr Tawanda Gandawa said he was happy that the stretch had finally been opened and hoped the Government would soon complete the project. He urged other motorists not to get over-excited and speed along the highway as this would cost lives.

 

Another motorist Mr Stephen Sithole called on law enforcement agents to increase visibility on the roads to curb road carnage.

 

Mr Givemore Nsingo said: “We are happy that the road has finally been opened to traffic as we were finding it difficult to drive through some of the detours near this stretch. We should abide by the speed limits and obey traffic rules and regulations”.

 

The entire north-south corridor has been divided into three sections: the 580km Harare-Masvingo-Beitbridge highway together with eight toll plazas, the 342km Harare-Chirundu highway with six toll plazas, and the 59km Harare Ring Road with three toll plazas.

 

These tolls are aimed at paying for the rehabilitation and maintenance of roads.

Namibia: Africa’s First Green Hydrogen-powered Iron Plant.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held on 6 November for the HyIron Oshivela green iron project in Namibia.

The €30 million (US$32 million) plant is being built near the Valencia mine, close to Arandis, in the Erongo region by HyIron, a Namibian-German joint venture.

It will use green hydrogen instead of coal for the reduction of iron ore. 

The investment is being facilitated by the Namibia Investment Promotion and Development Board (NIPDB) and Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

Production is set to commence by the end of 2024.

The plant will have a capacity of 15,000 tonnes a year (t/y) of direct reduced iron in its first phase, helping to avoid 27,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year, which is equivalent to 50% of the carbon emissions of Namibia’s power industry.

A feasibility study is being conducted to evaluate a mid-term capacity expansion to 1 million t/y, which would reduce annual CO2 emissions by 1.8 million.

The Oshivela plant will be driven by solar and wind energy. In the first phase, a 20MW solar photovoltaic installation will supply carbon-free electricity to the plant. For the first scaled-up production phase, an additional 18MW of wind energy and 140MW of solar are planned.

The power plant will mainly supply energy for the water electrolysis process to produce hydrogen. The hydrogen will then be transported into the furnace, where it reacts with the oxygen of the iron ore at ambient pressure to become water again. This water is then reused in the process.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Rainer Baake, special envoy for German-Namibian energy and climate cooperation, said the Oshivela plant places Namibia at the forefront of the green industrial transition. 

“The sponge iron produced here can also be used as a preliminary product in steel production in Germany to manufacture green steel for the production of wind turbines or vehicles,” Baake said. 

According to HyIron, global demand for iron is projected to increase from 1.9 billion t/y currently to 2.2 billion by 2030. To satisfy this rising demand, an additional production capacity of 50 million tonnes has to be added each year.

In December 2022, Germany’s Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Protection agreed to fund the HyIron project with more than €13 million over the next two years.

Moroccan Investors Express Interest to Establish Partnership With Libyan Counterparts.

Moroccan investors recently expressed their desire to establish partnerships with their Libyan counterparts and invest in the Libyan market to strengthen the economic partnership between the two countries.

This announcement came in a meeting for the Minister of Economy and Trade of the Government of National Unity, Mohammed Al-Huweij, and leading Moroccan businesspeople and investors in all fields on the sidelines of the Moroccan-Libyan Business Forum in Tangier, according to a Ministry statement on Monday.

“The visit of the Prime Minister to Morocco and his meeting with the Moroccan government paves the way for improving our partnerships. It strengthens the distinguished relations between the two peoples through holding meetings of the joint supreme committee.” Al-Huweij said.

He added that Libyan-Moroccan relations were further strengthened during that visit in terms of developing memoranda of understanding, expressing his confidence that more cooperation opportunities between businesspeople from the two countries would take place, wishing to increase the levels of joint trade exchange in the coming period. He also reiterated the importance of inaugurating air and sea routes between the two countries to overcome the difficulties faced by businesspeople. 

Last Saturday, the Head of the Moroccan Exporters Association, Hassan Al-Santisi Al-Idrissi, announced that they will soon organize a forum bringing together investors, importers, and exporters in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. Meanwhile, 17 Libyan companies and institutions, 20 Moroccan companies, and more than 90 Libyan businesspeople participated in the Tangier Forum and Exhibition.

AGOA Has Created Job Opportunities in Lesotho___ Lesotho Trade Minister.

Lesotho trade minister Mokhethi Shelile said the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) had helped Lesotho to create job opportunities and lift thousands out of poverty and based on his interaction with American buyers at the Agoa Forum in Johannesburg, there is scope for many, many more.

“I spoke to a major South African buyer and they buy 17 million clothes annually, but then I spoke to an American buyer and they were looking to source 100 million, so as much as Agoa has helped Lesotho over the past two decades, there is the potential for much more,” Shelile said.

A major constraint on the further expansion of Lesotho’s clothing exports to the US is that it sources a fair amount of its textiles from China and the US has banned the import of textiles that contain cotton allegedly grown using forced labor.

Three Chinese textile manufacturers have been banned from exporting their goods to the US as international human rights watchdogs have accused the Chinese government of setting up internment camps in the north-western city of Xinjiang to use forced labor from Uyghurs and other Turkic minorities, including Kazakhs and Kyrgyz in growing cotton. These companies were sanctioned under the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act (UFLPA).

The Chinese government has for years denied the accusations of minority persecution and the use of forced labor.

“As Lesotho, we now have to certify that the textiles we use in our clothing do not use cotton grown using forced labor, so that adds to our costs,” Shelile said.

Lesotho exports of articles of apparel, knit or crocheted to America was $222.33 million in 2021, according to the United Nations COMTRADE database on international trade.

In 2020, global exports of textiles and clothing products were valued at $147.6 billion (R2.8 trillion) and $573.5bn representing about 0.9% and 3.3% of the world merchandise trade, respectively, but China dominates this trade with a share of around a third as it is the largest exporter of textiles and clothing products globally.

“We are aiming to diversify our export offering and expand our share of the supply chain. So although we export leather seats to four motor manufacturers in South Africa, we want to do more. That is why we are excited about American investment interest in aquaculture, as Lesotho’s water is amongst the purest in the world,” he said.

Angola: FADA Receives 5 Billion Kwanzas for Agricultural Organizations.

The National Treasury in Angola has given five billion kwanzas to the Agricultural Development Support Fund (FADA) to support community funds inside agricultural cooperatives and organizations. In order to achieve this, it has developed a financial instrument known as Credit for Community Caisses, which entitles recipients to a maximum of 25 million kwanzas.

Felisbela Francisco, the CEO of the FADA, provided the information on Tuesday during a speech marking the signing of a memorandum between the organization and the Institute for Agrarian Development (IDA).

Speaking in an interview conducted off-site at the event, she explained that the agreement essentially aims to improve credit availability for agricultural cooperatives and associations with community banks, while also establishing the general principles of institutional cooperation between the parties in the field of family farming.

In order to reduce the risks associated with improper use of agricultural and animal production techniques and credit default, the agreement also aims to provide capacity building, specialized technical assistance, and training by the IDA to the beneficiaries of this credit.

The official stated that as part of the stimulus measures, FADA was assigned to support the cooperatives that established community banks. These cooperatives, with the help of the IDA, identified all of the cooperatives in Malanje, Bié, Huambo, and Kwanza Sul through the financial product.

“Clarification sessions have already been held on access to funding, given that FADA still has no regional representation. We have the support of the IDA in receiving the proposals and it has sent them to FADA, which makes the final decision at committee level,” she said.

Additionally, she stated that over 194 cooperation requests have been authorized, and payments have already been sent to over ten structured processes. It is anticipated that all of the requests will be funded by November 15th.

She mentioned the legalization of land and cooperatives as the primary challenges faced. According to Felisbela Francisco, there are presently over 2,000 funded projects and over 13 billion kwanzas invested in FADA’s loan portfolio.

The Director General of the IDA, Felismino da Costa, on the other hand, thinks that one of the main obstacles is creating a system for raising family production in rural areas, along with providing inputs and other equipment.

The memorandum of understanding between the Agrarian Development Institute and the Agrarian Development Support Fund sets goals in the agricultural and livestock sector with the aim of increasing national production, according to João da Cunha, Secretary of State for Agriculture and Livestock.

He also acknowledged that initiatives and programs were in place to increase the nation’s export independence, but that in order to achieve noticeable development outcomes in the medium run, more action must be taken.

Felismino da Costa, the director-general of the Agrarian Development Institute (IDA), and Felisbela Francisco from the Agrarian Development Support Fund (FADA) signed the pact. DOJ/ML/AC/DAN

 

Trade Intelligent Marks its Official Entry into Kenyan Market.

South African retail research business Trade Intelligence has marked its official entry into the Kenyan market with a Retail Trends presentation at the Retail Trade Association of Kenya (Retrak) Forum.

Trade Intelligence, a market intelligence and research firm in the consumer goods sector, recently announced its official entry into the Kenyan market with a Retail Trends presentation by business development lead, Andrea Ellens.

The presentation which was held at the recent Retail Trade Association of Kenya (Retrak) Forum, provided an in-depth analysis of Kenya’s evolving retail landscape, emphasizing the critical role of data-driven decision-making in the sector.

During the session, Ellens delved into a range of topics, including the macro factors shaping the East African FMCG retail trading landscape, emerging global retail trends, and the nuances of Kenyan shopper behavior and preferences. Notably, her discourse shed light on loyalty strategies as a competitive advantage, the rise of convenience in modern trade stores impacting traditional Dukas and kiosks, and the significance of hyper-segmentation to foster shopper-centric experiences.

Ellens herself has a long professional history with FMCG globally and in Kenya, having worked in the market with top international brands a decade ago.

“It’s a changed landscape today,” she says. “Ten years ago, the informal trade was the dominant force in Kenyan retail. With the development of modern retail in Kenya, we’re seeing that entrepreneurial spirit translated into something really special – some of the most innovative and exciting execution at retail we’ve ever seen. We’re excited to share this inspiration with local brands, but also with our clients at home.”

Trade Intelligence collaborated on its Retrak presentation with affiliate company, DataOrbis, which maintains a strong presence in Kenya with Retrak’s CEO, Wambui Mbarire, and other local industry experts.

These partnerships reinforce Trade Intelligence’s commitment to harnessing local expertise and resources, augmenting that with TI’s two decades of experience in retail research to ensure the delivery of accurate and comprehensive research on the Kenyan market.

The Retrak partnership underscores a commitment to fostering enduring relationships within the Kenyan retail sector, emphasizing the dedication of the business to contribute positively to the retail ecosystem of any geography in which it operates.

“Our mission is simple – to foster better and more profitable trading partnerships between retailers and suppliers wherever we operate,” said Ellens. “We are resolutely committed to nurturing relationships with stakeholders, leveraging the profound insights we’ve gathered, and cementing our position as a trusted source of in-depth retail intelligence.”

As Trade Intelligence continues its journey in Kenya, the company remains dedicated to further enriching its understanding of local intricacies, fostering robust partnerships, and delivering unparalleled research insights and commercial capability skills training for both global and Kenyan organizations.

“It’s long been our ambition to explore the Kenyan market,” says Trade Intelligence GM Janene Laas. “We’ve honed our skills in the South African market. But we know that there’s an exciting world of retail innovation out there. We’re a relentlessly curious business, and Kenya has so much to teach us.”

 

Expansion of Guinea’s Dental School in Pioneering.

The dire need to give the people of Guinea access to quality dental care is taking a major step forward with the expansion of the country’s only dental school.

Lack of access to affordable, safe dental and surgical care has been an issue in Guinea, like much of sub-Saharan Africa.

Across 47 countries, Sub-Saharan Africa, as a whole, only had 11 dental schools offering dental training to an undergraduate level in 2000. This number has since increased to 35 dental schools across 16 countries in the region. But despite an increase in dentists, overall population growth has still left nations desperately under-served dental care.

International charity Mercy Ships is funding the expansion project in Guinea as part of its ongoing partnership with University Gamal Abdel Nasser of Conakry (UGANC) to enhance the quality of dental education for generations to come.

The crisis in dental care struck American dentist Dr. David Ugai hard when he first visited Guinea after his graduation while volunteering for Mercy Ships in 2012-13 for ten months.

Despite treating patients, the queue for treatment continued to increase.

He also observed that dental students, entire studies were just theoretical, and unlike his training, there was no practical training for dental students. The first time students treated real-life patients clinically was after they had graduated.

He said: “If you really did a true assessment of the dental need, it’s going to be high, whether that’s access to care, whether that’s the cost for dental treatments, whether that is the access to providers, whether they have enough dentists in-country or not.

“In the U.S. we’re used to, you know, one dentist per 2,000, or 3,000, or 5,000 people. You go to some African countries, you’re at one dentist per 1 million. You can’t start talking about dental care being functional and developed and being able to treat the population because you don’t even have a workforce to start that conversation.”

In 2018, he returned to Guinea with Mercy Ships and participated in the launch of a new kind of partnership: Mercy Ships’ collaboration with Guinea’s only public dental school at UGANC in Conakry which is training all the dentists for the country.

David said: “Initially, we just renovated the space. They allowed us to use a room for our normal Mercy Ships dental program. And then, during the field service, the Dean at the time asked if we could incorporate some of the students into our program so they could get some experience in the clinic.

“That was kind of the birth of how we slowly started engaging with the dental school, started working more specifically with students, and really started forming a true partnership with the university and the dental department.”

When the ship left in 2019, David decided to stay. Four years later, he remains in Guinea as the Mercy Ships Country Director and Director of dental education and investment. In this role, he oversees the education and clinical experience of the young dentists who work their way through the university’s dental program.

He has been instrumental in the expanded two-floor clinical training building that will more than double the capacity for dental students to study and treat patients to 22 dental chairs. It will also include a greatly expanded radiology department and equipment which will now house 6 intra-oral x-rays, 1 panoramic, and 1 Cone Beam CT with cephalometric.

Dr. Ugai said the upgrade will allow all current and future students access to simulation and clinical training which will greatly improve the quality of teaching and dentists that qualify. The dental school has up to 150 students at any one time.

It is hoped the invested education will not only help Guinea but the neighboring countries as well.

Cameroonian Engineer Creates Machine for Selecting, Husking, and Pressing Egusi Seeds.

In a small workshop in the hilly town of Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, a set of unique machines are active day and night, helping produce one of the region’s favorite dishes. These “robots”, as their inventor calls them, allow operators to select, husk, grind, and press pumpkin seeds, delivering the raw, husked seeds known locally as “egusi”, “ngondo” or “pistachio”.

It took the inventor almost forty years to go from concept to prototype to filing an international patent to finally producing his machines, which are the only made-in-Africa devices of their kind.

“Apart from here, this kind of the machine doesn’t exist anywhere across Africa”, said Samuel Tchofo, a Cameroonian engineer in his sixties, the inventor of “Robot Ngon”, and founder of Sem Production.

To get to the beginning of the origin story, Tchofo had to go back to his early years after graduating as an engineer in 1982. He had noticed how difficult it was to prepare egusi-based foods, common across Africa, because the seeds first needed to be husked, a very tedious task.

“I was a little bit sad to see these old women, mothers, and grandmothers, struggle to manually husk whole baskets of egusi. The task can take a couple of days just to husk a small basket”, he noticed.

He couldn’t help thinking that if pumpkin seeds probably had a similar importance in Western nations, someone in those countries would probably have invented a machine to solve the problem. “If so, why not in Africa?” So he decided to solve the problem himself.

The task, as it turned out, was huge. After being recruited by an oil sector company in 1984, Tchofo already had a good job in the petroleum industry. So he could only use his spare time and holidays to work on the project.

In the end, from the first design of the machines to the prototypes and tests, it took him 27 years.

His very first prototype was made in June 1988 in Lyon, France, and was built during a holiday. However, the prototype was manual and had a very low output. The same year, he upgraded it, but the result was still unsatisfactory. Feeling like he was on the right track, however, he applied for a patent. The draft patent was approved and filed in 1989 with the Maisonnier firm in Lyon, France.

The oil engineer was subsequently posted to Algeria as an operations engineer, working on a 7-week rotation with a 3-week rest in France. From then on, he took advantage of his frequent rest periods to continue his work, he explained.

In 2012, after taking an early retirement after 28 years in the oil and gas sector, he fully committed to his invention. It would take another four years until he was satisfied that his machine could be operated daily to process pumpkin seeds commercially. In 2017, he optimized a machine to process hard-shelled squash seeds.

Under the brand Ngon, the engineer also started selling a variety of products, highlighting the neglected value chain of pumpkin seeds.

“From “egusi”, we make and sell husked seeds, but also, what is less common, food oil, beauty oil, flour, and cream”, he explained.

These products are now represented in hundreds of supermarkets and shops in Cameroon’s urban centers.

Sandra Ngoumou, 45, a teacher and mother of four and a regular consumer of pumpkin seed-based products in Douala, said she had been overjoyed to find a locally-produced source of pumpkin flour and oil.

“I discovered these products when shopping in a supermarket here in Douala. When I make cakes, I like to add some “pistachio” flour to them. Egusi is a protein-rich product. I also regularly use “pistachio” oil in several recipes,” she told Bird.

Tchofo is now working to attract investment to develop serial production of his “robots” to expand their presence across all rural areas in the region.

For small retailers of pumpkin seeds like Sarah Kouekam, the machine would be life-changing.

“I generally buy “pistache” from wholesale suppliers, and I sell it to the market. It takes me a lot of time to husk it with my hands before selling,” she said, hoping the solution would soon be available to the public.

Almost forty years after first thinking he could change lives, Tchofo may finally be doing just that.

 

Equatorial Guinea Collaborates With Chinese Firm, Invests in Steel Industry.

The country’s Vice President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mangue said that Equatorial Guinea aims to collaborate with the Chinese firm China Baowu Steel Group Corporation to invest in the steel industry in the Central African nation. 

Obiang said on his social media platforms late Wednesday that this investment has the potential to strengthen the country’s economy. “On my official visit to China, I invited China Baowu Steel Group to invest in Equatorial Guinea. This decision has the potential to create a new industrial plan, generate more national employment, enhance energy consumption, and boost our economy,” Obiang said, highlighting that the investment will also impact the gas and energy sectors.

During a meeting Wednesday to discuss the investment, Obiang directed the administration to take measures to facilitate the company’s entry and establishment in the country.

 Delegates from the Chinese company are anticipated to visit the country later this month for discussions with their counterparts regarding bilateral cooperation, according to the Information and Press Office of Equatorial Guinea.

 

Mozambique Inaugurates New US$88 Million Bridge.

According to reports, on Wednesday, 1st of November, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi inaugurated a new US$88 million bridge over the Save River, connecting central and southern Mozambique via the provinces of Inhambane and Sofala.

He christened it the 6 August Bridge in honor of the 2019 peace agreement, signed by Nyusi and opposition leader Ossufo Momade, that paved the way for the demobilization and disarmament of the Renamo militia.

The government-funded project began work in 2018 before experiencing a three-year delay in completion due to Covid restrictions and a lack of funds. The finished bridge, built by the China Road and Bridge Corporation, is nearly a kilometer long and 13.5 meters wide and designed to carry trucks of up to 50 tonnes.

The old bridge spanning the Save River was designed under colonial rule in the 1960s and inaugurated in 1972. The 810-meter-long bridge deteriorated significantly in the half-century since, necessitating a reduced weight capacity of 30 tonnes, with heavy trucks having to travel in a single file.

The old bridge was strengthened and re-inaugurated alongside the 6 August Bridge and has now been designated for light trucks. 

Nyusi announced plans to construct an additional bridge over the Save, located much further west near the Zimbabwean border. That bridge will link the provinces of Gaza and Manica, further bolstering connectivity between south and central Mozambique.

African Basic Education Ministers To Collaborate, Prioritize Foundational Learning.

Representatives of 20 African countries recognize the urgent need to address the learning crisis as a critical enabler for wider development goals.

Ten African Ministers of Education and a similar number of ministerial representatives collectively agreed to champion foundational learning as a priority for the 2024 African Union Year of Education (AUYoE) and beyond. They also resolved to rally their respective Heads of State to be “Champions of Foundational Learning”.

These were part of the resolution made in Lusaka at the end of the 2023 High-Level Policy Dialogue Forum on Foundational Learning organized by the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and hosted by the Ministry of Education in the Republic of Zambia from 31st October to 1st November 2023. 

In a communique issued at the end of the Forum, Ministers, and ministerial representatives from 20 African countries agreed on a foundational learning starter pack model as a resource guide to ensure uniformity, continuity, and sustainability. 

They further resolved to collect relevant data, working with ADEA and partners, to inform policy and decisions on foundational learning, foster dialogue, and peer learning, and share good practices on what works in foundational learning in support of AUYoE. 

The policy and decision-makers agreed to strengthen links between Early Childhood Education and Primary Education, advance the adoption of structured pedagogy, implement age-appropriate teaching methods, and harness the power of technology to increase the number of qualified teachers and enhance teachers’ well-being.

During the Forum, countries showcased innovative and nationally contextualized solutions with concrete results, among them Benin, Botswana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Senegal, and Zambia among others.

During the school visits, a key aspect of the Forum, participants witnessed the nexus between policy and practice as well as the integration of social-emotional skills through play-based learning. 

The Forum was closed by Hon Conrad Sackey, Minister of Education in Sierra Leone, who urged countries to take forward the resolutions emanating from the event. 

Countries present at the event include Angola, Benin, Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, The Gambia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Double Celebration as Oba’s Birthday Coincides with Seventh Coronation Anniversary.

The Oba of Benin, Oba Ewuare II recently celebrated the 7th anniversary of the throne of his forebears in Benin. This royal celebration also doubled as his birthday celebration as his birthday was coincidentally on the same day. 

Every available space at the palace was filled by the friends and well-wishers of the Oba from all walks of life.

 

The celebration started with two days of free healthcare and ended with Thanksgiving on Saturday at the National Church in Benin.

 

Omo N’Oba Ewuare on Saturday rose from the inner chambers amidst drumming and praise singing by Iweguae society, waving to the seated audience who responded with a thunderous ovation.

 

The Friday event ended in the early hours of Saturday before the Thanksgiving service.

The royal father sat on the ancient throne of his ancestors at the Aruo- Ozolua axis of the palace where he received homages.

 

The traditional homages were paid for by different traditional rulers, dignitaries, palace chiefs and functionaries, native doctors of various classifications, priests, and priestesses of different deities, traditional worshipers, and a host of others.

 

The Inne Theatre Troupe, Efesoghoba Palace Troupe, Epko-Avbiama, Igbabonelimi from Esan land, and others from different states took turns to perform to the delight of the audience.

 

Oba Ewuare, who was full of praises to almighty God and ancestors, thanked everyone for celebrating with him. Traditional Chiefs, including Osaro Idah, the Obazelu of Benin Ozigbo Esere, and the Osuma Of Benin, hailed the Benin king for his achievements since ascending the throne of his ancestors.

 

However, the Benin ruler urged members of the Edo State House of Assembly to consider some important cultural bills that would promote and strengthen cultural norms and value systems in the land.

According to Oba Ewuare, such bills would in no small measure curtail the surging social crimes amongst youths in the country. The royal father made the call when the speaker of Edo House of Assembly Mr Blessing Agbebaku led principal officials of the house to celebrate with Oba at his palace.

 

He admonished Edo lawmakers to be focused on their legislative business rather than being tied to the apron string of the executive arm of government. Omo N’Oba posited that the independence of the legislature was key to robust democracy, insisting that the lawmakers must live up to the expectations of the people who voted them into power.

Oba Ewuare hailed the assembly’s leadership, just as he pledged palace support for the lawmakers.

 

The speaker, Agbebaku had told the monarch that they were at his palace to congratulate him on the occasion of his birthday and the 7th coronation anniversary on the throne.

 

Agbebaku also pledged the Edo assembly’s loyalty and promised to work with the palace for the overall development of the state. 

National Community Health Day: Malawi Launches Tipewe Cholera/Covid-19 Campaign.

Malawi government, on the 25th of October, launched the National Community Health Framework (2023-2030), the “Tipewe Cholera/Covid 19” campaign, and re-launched the Human Papillomavirus vaccination drive.

The Ministry of Health, through the Community Health Services Section and its partners, has been implementing community health services as one of the strategies to attain Universal Health Coverage by 2030. In 2019, the government, through the Ministry of Health set this day with the purpose of raising awareness about the importance of community health in Malawi. Express appreciation for community health impact and community health workers and other actors across the community health system. As well as advocate for more resources for community health interventions.

Speaking at the launch and commemoration in Likoma, H.E. the President of Malawi, Dr Lazarus Chakwera encouraged communities to have all girls aged between 9 and 14 receive the Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

He stated that Malawi has a life-saving vaccine that provides primary prevention of cervical cancer. This vaccine is freely available for all.

“Malawi introduced the HPV vaccine in 2019, targeting girls at nine years old. Although the program started well, the last two years have seen a significant decline in the uptake of the HPV vaccine among our girls. The re-launch of the HPV vaccination program in Malawi is a critical step in our commitment to promoting optimum health”, President Chakwera said.

He stated that despite Malawi making strides in containing Cholera, preventive measures are critical for the vulnerable and those in high-risk areas especially this rainy season, a time when water-borne diseases are at strife.

The President expressed his gratitude to UNICEF, the World Health Organization, the United States Agency for International Development, The Global Fund, GAVI, Last Mile Health, Mother2Mother, the Embassy of Iceland, and the private sector players for the continued support to the government in the implementation of community health services in the country.

In her remarks, United Nations Resident Coordinator Rebecca Adda Dontoh reaffirmed the United Nations’ commitment to quality health service delivery and human rights protection. She stated that collaborative efforts have successfully reduced Cholera and Covid-19 cases in Malawi including tackling the aftermath of natural disasters like Cyclone Freddy.

She said community health programs are vital in Malawi. “They bridge distances and costs, offering high Return on Investment (ROI), and serving as emergency response channels. The Government of Malawi’s investments in life-saving interventions through Community Health programs over the past few decades have saved millions of lives. There has been a notable decline in under-five mortality. Successes include impactful interventions like immunization, Safe Motherhood, WASH, nutrition programs, and response to public health emergencies”, she said.

Meanwhile, President Dr Lazarus Chakwera took time to appreciate various developments taking place in the area, a solar-powered system that is used as a source of energy on the Island, port services, and the expansion of Chima Health Centre.

According to Director of Health and Social Services Dr Gracewell Mathewe, Likoma district currently relies on St Peters Hospital, under the Anglican Church which is overwhelmed.

“We have one small delivery room, which has been divided into antenatal, post-natal, and another ward where we put neonates that have complications. “The population is growing, and as government, we need to effectively serve the community. We hope that after construction of this OPD at Chima, we will have a fully-fledged Maternity Wing and other structures to address the district’s needs,” says Mathewe.

Kenya to Remove Visa Requirements for all Africans.

As part of a push to promote trade and travel inside the continent, Kenyan President William Ruto has declared that other African people will no longer need a visa to enter Kenya as of next year.

 

Speaking during an international conference on climate change held in Congo Brazzaville, the president pin-pointed the need to eliminate visa restrictions among African countries, noting that these restrictions are counterproductive. “By the end of this year, no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya,” Kenya’s president, William Ruto said. 

High plane costs and expensive and time-consuming visa restrictions have long prevented African passport holders from traveling within their own continent; 32 of 54 African countries still need citizens of at least half of the continent’s nations to obtain a visa.

 

“Our children from this continent should not be locked in borders in Europe and also be locked in borders in Africa,” Ruto said.

 

Kenya will join the Gambia, Benin, and Seychelles as the fourth African nation to implement the policy of granting unfettered travel to its citizens. The first to do so in 2016 was Seychelles, an island nation in East Africa that is primarily dependent on tourism.

 

According to Ruto, removing obstacles is essential to making the African continental free trade area easier to execute. He declared, “It is time we realized how important it is to trade among ourselves and to allow people, ideas, goods, and services to travel freely across the continent.”

 

In recent years, the African Union has intensified its demands that additional African nations lower their travel restrictions. In order to grant Africans unlimited travel within the continent, it introduced the “AU passport” in 2016. Nonetheless, there has been a restricted distribution, and high-ranking officials and diplomats are the primary users of the passports.

 

Concerns about crime and security have slowed change in African nations. However, the 2022 Africa visa openness report states that the majority of nations have been streamlining entry requirements. Most African nations provide visa-free travel to at least five other nations, with additional freedom of movement within regional groups. Since 2016, the number of countries that grant e-visas has likewise increased by almost 100%.

 

President Ruto emphasized the negative effects of visa restrictions on travelers, companies, and entrepreneurs. Resolving this, he said, “As Kenya, by the end of this year, no African will be required to have a visa to come to Kenya.” The conference attendees enthusiastically applauded this announcement. “We all become net losers when people, businesspeople, and entrepreneurs are unable to travel,” Ruto stated.

Angola Makes the List of World Fifty Most Promising Economic Zones.

The Luanda-Bengo Special Economic Zone (ZEE) was chosen by the Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones (GASEZ) as one of the 50 most promising zones in the world.

According to a press release to which ANGOP had access today, the alliance, which is dedicated to promoting a new generation of Special Economic Zones (SEZ), launched its SDG Model Zone initiative on 18 October 2023, during the World Investment Forum of the United Nations Conference on Trade (UNCTAD), in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

At this meeting, the founding members of GASEZ identified 50 Special Economic Zones (SEZ) from around the world that have been chosen as model zones for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The criteria used to select the SEZs nominated as SDG Model Zones were derived from the World Investment Report 2019 of the United Nations Conference on Trade (UNCTAD).

The note points out that these requirements are based on a commitment to sustainable development, promotion of investment in the SDGs, levels of social, environmental, governance, connections, and repercussions.

The GASEZ SDG Model Zone initiatives aim to achieve three main objectives, namely raising awareness of the contributions of SEZs to sustainable development, recognizing the efforts of zones, and sharing elements of good practice that can serve as an incentive for others.

It should be noted that the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development Goals, held in September this year, encouraged immediate measures to strengthen efforts to fulfill the 2030 agenda.

The Global Alliance of Special Economic Zones (GASEZ) was created in Montego Bay, Jamaica in 2022, by the Africa Economic Zones Organization (AEZO), the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), the Green Partnership of Industrial Parks in China (GPIPC) and the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation, as well as by the National Association of Foreign Trade Zones (NAFTZ), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), The World Free & Special Economic Zones Federation (FEMOZA) and the World Free Zones Organization (World FZO).go

Gambia: Capacity Building On Integrated Polio Surveillance.

The Gambia played host to a four-day capacity building on integrated polio surveillance in the African Region.

This event which took place at Bakadaji Hotel, sought to expose participants to new skills and approaches required in terms of surveillance towards totally eradicating polio virus on the continent.

Speaking to journalists, Dr. Ndoutabe Modjirom, coordinator of the WHO-led polio outbreaks Rapid Response Team for the African Region, explained that they are meeting in Banjul to train and strengthen the capacity of francophone when it comes to early detection of all polio cases in Africa region and to work towards implementing quick response to combat further spread of all types of polioviruses so that by 2024 the virus will be eradicated in the continent and beyond.

He thanked The Gambia government for hosting the meeting which he considered important, further expressing optimism that at the end of the form, delegates would be capacitated to be able to work towards combating the spread of the virus in the region.

For his part, Desta Tiruneh, World Health Organization representative, described the forum as one of several events organized across the African region, recalling that a similar one was convened about two weeks ago in Kigali, Rwanda for anglophone Africa, where delegates from The Gambia attended.

WHO rep reminded that the world is on the verge of eradicating polio completely, but that they are facing some challenges as there still exist two countries in Asia, where the virus is still endemic in poliovirus.

“But in addition to that we have what we call vaccine-derived polio viruses which are circulating on the continent. So, these trainings we are organizing across the continent, are meant to strengthen our surveillance system to detect any introduction of these polio virus in any country.”

These efforts, he added, are geared towards completely eradicating the virus on the continent and beyond, further expressing their resolve to wipe out the virus on the face of the earth.

He thus challenged participants to be ready to learn new skills and methods of surveillance in the region and make these surveillance systems up to standards so that no virus poses a threat.

“If we do that then we are ready to eradicate the polio virus completely. That is why we are bringing in so many countries here and this cost a lot of money and energy, but we believe it is necessary and without this, we cannot achieve polio eradication.”

Smart Pipeline Delivery Creates Major Breakthrough for Ugandan Oil Project.

Panyu Chu Kong Steel Pipe Co., Ltd, the company contracted to supply line pipes to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), has said the first batch of 100 km of pipes is in the process of being delivered to the port of Tanga, in Tanzania. A flag-off ceremony to mark the milestone was planned for 30th October 2023. 

“We are committed to ensuring timely delivery,” Xie Leshan, the PCK President, said at a meeting with a delegation of the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU), led by Executive Director Ernest Rubondo. The team visited PCK’s Pipe Mill in Lianyungang as part of a verification and validation visit to China ahead of accelerated project timelines for the CNOOC (China National Offshore Oil Corporation) group of companies.

EACOP will have the capacity to pump up to 230,000 bopd down a specially designed 1,443 km-long `smart’ pipe from western Uganda to the Indian Ocean coastline of Tanzania. Some parts of the pipe will be heated so that the high-grade Ugandan crude, which is waxy-like shoe polish at surface temperatures, will flow evenly. The pipe, which will be buried along all of its length at up to 6 m below the surface, will be lined with hi-tech insulation, as well as sensors and cut-off valves, to minimize the risk of leaks.

CNOOC is one of the key players in the Uganda oil sector and operator of the Kingfisher Development Area (KDA).

During the visit by PAU, which coincided with China’s Belt and Road Initiative forum, Ernest Rubondo and Liu Yongjie, the Chairman of CNOOC International, met at the CNOOC International Headquarters in Beijing on Saturday 21st October 2023.

“This meeting signifies an important development in the ongoing collaboration between Uganda and China in the oil and gas sector,” said Rubondo, who added that the PAU delegation had the opportunity to visit various professional companies within the CNOOC group relevant to the oil and gas projects in Uganda.

Liu and Rubondo discussed the progress of the Kingfisher project. They received assurance of CNOOC’s commitment to fulfilling its responsibilities on this project and expanding cooperation to deliver a ‘shining star’ project in Uganda.

Also discussed were strategies for commercializing Uganda’s oil and gas resources and ways to maximize the in-country value generated by these projects, extending to local communities and industries, thereby fostering economic growth and development.

Ernest and Liu agreed that the development of national and local content is the best way to ensure a win-win situation for the Kingfisher project.

The delegation also toured the Shougang Beijing Group’s Qian’an steel mill, which supplies the steel plates used in the manufacturing of pipes for EACOP. “This is a crucial component of the project, as the quality and timely delivery of materials is vital for the successful execution of the pipeline project, which ensures the delivery of Kingfisher and Tilenga crude to Tanga for export,” Rubondo said.

PAU said that the China visit symbolized the collaborative efforts between Uganda and China in the oil and gas sector, with a particular emphasis on the successful execution of key projects like the Kingfisher, Tilenga, and the East African Crude Oil Pipeline.

“The visit is not only an exchange with CNOOC and contractors but also an understanding of the achievements of Chinese-style modernization and the Belt and Road Initiative. These collaborations not only have economic implications but also contribute to the development and growth of both nations’ oil and gas industries” the statement added.

 

Morocco, African Development Bank Sign Financing Agreement.

Morocco has signed three financing agreements with the African Development Bank  (AfDB) worth more than 2.9 billion dirhams ($281.96 million), the Morocco state news agency (MAP) reported on Tuesday.

The first agreement would finance a health infrastructure program with about $126.4 million, while another agreement would support a social coverage program with about $155.6 million.

The third agreement is for financing an emergency assistance project following the deadliest earthquake in the country’s recent history in September, with $1 million.

The three agreements were signed by Minister Delegate to the Minister of Economy and Finance, in charge of the Budget, Faouzi Lekjaa, and AfDB Resident Representative in Morocco Achraf Tarsim, in the presence of Minister of Economic Inclusion, Small Business, Employment and Skills, Younes Sekkouri and Minister of Health and Social Protection, Khalid Ait Taleb.

Lekjaa praised the quality of cooperation relations between Morocco and the AfDB, hailing the institution’s “valuable and constant” support to the kingdom, particularly in carrying out structural reforms in a range of fields.

Meanwhile, Tarsim emphasized that these agreements, which enable the AfDB to demonstrate its solidarity with Morocco, will be used in particular to finance two related operations, namely the extension of social coverage and the development of health infrastructure.

“These initiatives, actions, and projects reflect the strong and historic relationship that the Kingdom of Morocco and the AfDB have enjoyed for over half a century. A partnership that is exemplary on the continent and has a bright future ahead of it”, he said.

Ait Taleb highlighted the importance of the agreements signed in supporting Morocco’s reforms, particularly in strengthening the resilience of the healthcare system and upgrading health infrastructures.

Sekkouri, in a statement, noted the importance of this partnership with the AfDB, crowning as it did, Morocco’s achievements in several fields, notably in improving employability.

The AfDB has been a close development actor in Morocco. Recently, the bank mobilized more than $422 million in funding healthcare and the development of a sustainable road network in the country.

Kenyan Farmers Introduce Use of Drones in Farming.

In an unexpected encounter at a Kenyan Drone Business Competition, the paths of drone pilot Ken Mbuki and agriculture enthusiast Michel Iland crossed, unveiling a shared reliance on drone technology to enhance their farming endeavors.

 

Mbuki, a business intelligence expert at Nairobi’s Moringa School, was introduced to farming at a young age by his mother. Despite his bustling urban career, the allure of farming continued to beckon.

Today, Mbuki, much like countless “Nairobians” of the middle class, actively tends to his rural land, a piece he proudly owns, nestled in the outskirts of Kitui, two meticulously managed acres that epitomize precision farming.

 

When Nairobi’s hustle and bustle don’t monopolize his time with cost-saving wizardry and the quest for innovation at Moringa School, you’ll discover Mbuki donning yet another hat at KCA University, where he imparts his wisdom through captivating lectures on the intricacies of object-oriented technologies.

 

Balancing life’s complex symphony, he deftly conducts a multifaceted orchestra of roles and responsibilities, where every moment becomes a precious gem in his day. In the realm of farming, he aspires to harmonize his approach, embracing the same life-guiding principles. With data-driven insights as his compass, he meticulously calculates the ideal measures of water, fertilizers, and pesticides to grace his fields. His secret weapon? A drone, soaring high to bridge the chasm between precision and productivity.

 

“I used to employ a team of four individuals who’d labor from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., diligently spraying insecticides across my two-acre farm. Yet, over time, some corners were invariably overlooked. But now, with the grace of a drone, a mere hour is all it takes to flawlessly douse the entire farm,” Mbuki remarked, illuminating his transition into the realm of precision agriculture.

 

In the realm of agriculture, precision farming emerges as a technological symphony orchestrating the optimization of crop production. With tools like GPS, sensors, and drones as its virtuoso instruments, it harmoniously gathers data on both the farm’s landscape and the life it nurtures.

 

This grand transformation in the tapestry of farming has, like a magician, conjured a spell of efficiency, prosperity, and time well spent for a farmer like Mbuki. And on the same stage, under the dazzling lights of innovation, Iland takes the center spotlight, using precision agriculture to compose the future of his 170-acre canvas in the fertile fields of Mau-Narok.

 

Iland noted that using GPS-equipped tractors initially posed a problem as they damaged the wheat by driving over it, leading to yield reduction. However, the introduction of drones has significantly reduced this issue by around 40%.

 

Both men encountered a common obstacle when seeking to adopt new technology: the need for approval from the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA). The KCAA’s 2020 regulations clearly state that operating an Unmanned Aircraft System within Kenyan airspace requires authorization from the Authority.

 

Enduring three weeks of tenacious effort and a 161-kilometer official trek from Nairobi, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority (KCAA) remained adamant in denying Mbuki the drone farming green light he pursued. In the quest for comments from KCAA officials, the author hit a wall, with most reluctant to delve into the uncharted territory of drone farming in their remarks.

 

Mbuki’s challenges, symbolic of the issues faced by new-age “smart farmers,” are in opposition to African governments’ pleas for a farming revolution to support growing populations and achieve self-reliance. In Kitui’s four-month growing season, bureaucratic obstacles impede the crucial weekly crop spraying central to precision farming.

 

In Kitui, the use of drones, even beyond precision farming, is an unusual concept that has sparked government interest. They are in the process of structuring their approach to smart farming. Drones, equipped with multi-spectral sensors, create detailed crop maps using soil and vegetation indices, offering valuable information like soil moisture content and stress factors affecting crop productivity.

 

The global precision farming and agriculture industry is on a significant upswing, as indicated by a recent report. In a noteworthy transformation, Mbuki has become a certified drone pilot and is generously sharing his expertise with fellow farmers like Iland. Meanwhile, Iland is captivated by the potential of drones to revolutionize rice farming in Kenya, as traditional methods have proven cumbersome. While focusing on wheat and potatoes, drones have boosted yields and substantially reduced crop damage from vehicles and human activities. Notably, he’s also venturing into offering drone agriculture services to his fellow farmers in the area.

Residues From 2,500-year-old Ceramic Vessels Contain Ancient Embalming Ingredients.

Ancient Egypt left lasting gems, this can be seen around the world as most art and architecture are derivative of ancient Egypt. Even its antiquities can be found in museums in crooks and crannies of the world.

The one thing ancient Egypt is famous for is its gigantic pyramids, but equally long-lasting are its many mummies, including those of great pharaohs embalmed many thousands of years ago. Even though we’ve come a long way in understanding how the ancients prepared bodies for mummification, many of the fine details have been unknown.

Recently, a new study has made exciting new revelations about this ancient practice of preserving the dead. A German-Egyptian team of researchers analyzed chemical residues from vessels unearthed at an embalming workshop in Saqqara, close to the pyramid of Unas in Lower Egypt, where ancient Egyptians used to embalm the corpses of the elite more than 2,500 years ago, during the 26th Dynasty of Egypt (664-525 B.C.).

In the process, the chemical analysis of the 31 ceramic vessels revealed the nature of many embalming ingredients that were previously cryptic in recipes from surviving ancient papyrus texts. By identifying these substances, the researchers not only enriched our understanding of the complex mummification process but also inferred a rich cultural story, deciphering the meaning of some terms used in ancient texts and demonstrating the role that mummification had in fostering long-distance trade from as far as South-East Asia.

“For me, the most fascinating result was the chemical knowledge of the ancient embalmers without having any idea about microbiology – they just had centuries of experience and observation of which substances contribute to better preservation of the human body,” Philipp Stockhammer, Professor of archaeology at Ludwig-Maximilians-University and co-author of the new study told ZME Science.

Mummification involves removing moisture from the body and applying certain chemicals and natural preservatives to desiccate the flesh and organs. Many ancient cultures employed this time-honored tradition, imbued with deep religious significance, including the Chinese and many pre-Columbian societies in South America. But it was in ancient Egypt that mummification reached its pinnacle, a sophistication that mirrored the ancient Egyptians’ obsession with the afterlife.

The ancient Egyptians strongly believed that when a person died, their spiritual essence would survive and immediately embark on a journey where they would encounter various divine and demonic entities. Ultimately, the traveling soul would meet Osiris, the god of the dead, who would judge if the wandering spirit is worthy of joining the gods in an eternal paradise.

But for this spiritual journey to be successful, the physical body had to remain intact for as long as possible, much to the distress of the common folk who were too poor to afford this very expensive embalming.

“It is clear that only a small (rich) part of the Egyptian elite was mummified. The poor farmers were just buried in pits in the desert. Moreover, we know from ancient texts that depending on your financial possibilities, you could invest in different “quality packages” for the mummification/embalming,” Stockhammer said.

Since mummification was a matter of life after death, great care and much deliberation were put into this process, which was refined over the centuries to perfection — despite the lack of formal knowledge of what we would call today microbiology. Indeed, the ancient Egyptians had no idea that microbes even existed, but through much trial and error, they found the right mixtures and procedures that preserved thousands of mummies even to this very day.

Unfortunately, the exact steps in this mortuary practice are largely a mystery. We know more about the rituals involved in mummification rather than the actual process itself. The little we know from the particularities of the practice comes from a few surviving texts, and largely from non-Egyptian sources to boot, such as The Histories by Herodotus, which describes three levels of mummification.

However, the researchers of the new study came across the finding of a lifetime. Traveling to Egypt to the Saqqara workshop, they were amazed to find numerous vessels employed by skilled craftsmen to mummify the dead. The remarkable vessels still contained evidence of their past contents, no doubt ingredients used in embalming.

That’s not all. These vessels were also labeled with their contents and even had instructions for use, such as “substance for the head” or “for making beautiful skin”.

The researchers analyzed the chemical residues in the vessels and then compared the molecular remains to the actual ingredients listed on them.

This is how they came to learn that the substance labeled as anti, previously translated as myrrh or frankincense, is a mixture of many different ingredients. The blend that the craftsmen in Saqqara called antiu contained cedar oil, juniper, cypress oil, and animal fats.

“For the first time, we know what terms like “anti” mean (at least in the early 1st mill BC in our workshop), as Egyptologists could only speculate about its meaning for the last almost 200 years. This will enable/force a new reading of many Egyptian texts,” Stockhammer said.

The pistachio resin and castor oil were used only to preserve the head, while other mixtures were used to wash the body or soften the skin. The pistachio resin, cedar oil, and bitumen were probably sourced locally in the Levant. Other identified ingredients, such as dammar gum and elemi resin, could only come from tropical Africa and Southeast Asia.

Without explicitly mentioning this, the ancient residues and labels on the ceramic vessels thereby paint a remarkable picture of extensive and sophisticated trade networks that connected Egypt with tropical Africa and Southeast Asia. These trade networks were already cemented nearly 3,000 years ago.

“Egyptian embalming was probably a driver forward towards early globalization and long-distance trade. Now, we have to rethink the intensity and complexity of early globalization and rethink our dominating notion that global connectedness is a phenomenon limited to modernity,” the German archaeologist said.

All of this is quite consequential for archaeology and the study is bound to cause waves in Egyptology for many years to come — and it’s all thanks to a couple of dozen seemingly unsuspecting old pieces of pottery. But the authors would also like to remind us all that such invaluable work is not always without sacrifice.

“By far the biggest challenge was the premature death of the excavator of the embalmers’ workshop, Ramadan Hussein, in March 2022. Maxime, Ramadan, and I had already finished large parts of the manuscript and it was very much Ramadan’s last wish to see the fruits of his years of research getting published. We are happy that this has now become possible in such a wonderful way,” Stockhammer said.

 

Inclusive Tourism in South Africa; Tourism Minister Signs MoU.

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between her department and Airbnb to support the continued recovery of the tourism sector and build inclusive tourism in South Africa.

“The MoU will see the Department of Tourism work closely with Airbnb to advance tourism services that are aimed at growing tourism in South Africa and creating more jobs in the sector,” Minister De Lille said. The MoU seeks to grow collaboration between the government and the private sector, as it is “a collective responsibility to grow and enhance the tourism sector”.

“As a government, if we want to significantly grow tourism and its contribution to the economy and job creation, collaboration with the private sector is vital. We are delighted to be the first African Ministry of Tourism to sign a collaborative MoU with a successful global company such as Airbnb,” she said.

Airbnb is an American-based company operating an online marketplace for short- and long-term homestays and experiences.

Minister De Lille explained that by leveraging Airbnb’s global reach and understanding of the market, the collaboration seeks to create a positive impact on local communities, travelers, and the tourism industry as a whole.

“The primary goal of this collaboration is to develop a relationship between the Ministry, entity, and Airbnb to harness and drive tourism domestically and internationally.

As part of the MoU, the parties will have regular engagements to evaluate opportunities for strategic collaboration on driving inclusive tourism and ensuring fair and proportionate regulation of short-term rentals.

Velma Corcoran, Regional Lead: Middle East Africa at Airbnb, said they look forward to working with the Department of Tourism to help build a more inclusive and sustainable tourism economy in South Africa.

Corcoran said the Airbnb platform can help anyone, anywhere, to become a tourism entrepreneur, and that they hope to continue to break down systemic barriers to entry and enable more South Africans to participate in the sector.

“We welcome the opportunity to work with the department to develop a clear, proportionate national framework for the regulation of short-term rentals and see huge power in public and private sector collaborations. We also know from our work with the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy, that together, we can make a tangible difference and enable more people, in more places, to benefit from tourism,” said Corcoran.

The signing of the MoU is in line with the aims of the Tourism Sector Recovery Plan, which is key to the country’s Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan.

The Tourism Sector Recovery Plan (TSRP) was adopted by the Cabinet in March 2021 to facilitate the recovery of the sector to preserve jobs and livelihoods, facilitate new job opportunities, match demand and supply, and strengthen transformation.  

 

Rwanda Among Africa’s Pocket ‘Pocket of Resilience’.

According to the latest World Bank forecast, Sub-Saharan Africa is bracing itself for a slowdown in economic growth, with projections indicating a decline from 3.6 percent in 2022 to 2.5 percent in 2023.

Based on the World Bank’s findings, it emphasized the urgent need for stability, increased growth, and job creation to avert a potential “lost decade.”

 

“With up to 12 million young Africans entering the labor market across the region each year, it has never been more crucial for policymakers to revamp their economies and provide better job opportunities for the people,” Andrew Dabalen, the World Bank’s Chief Economist for Africa stressed.

The report reveals that regional growth is projected to slow to 2.5 percent in 2023, dropping from 3.6 percent in the previous year, with an anticipated rebound to 3.7 percent next year and 4.1 percent in 2025. However, in per capita terms, the region has not experienced positive growth since 2015, as economic activity has failed to keep pace with the rapid increase in population.

The report also notes that while approximately 12 million Africans join the labor market annually, the current growth patterns generate only 3 million jobs in the formal sector.

South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, is expected to grow by a mere 0.5 percent this year, primarily due to its severe energy crisis.

Similarly, economic growth in Nigeria and Angola, top oil-producing nations, is anticipated to slow to 2.9 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively. Sudan, amidst a major internal armed conflict, faces a significant 12 percent contraction. Excluding Sudan, regional growth is estimated at 3.1 percent.

Bright Spots; Pockets of Resilience Identified by World Bank.

Despite domestic challenges and uncertain global growth, the World Bank identifies “pockets of resilience” within the region. For instance, the Eastern African community is projected to achieve a growth rate of 4.9 percent in 2023, while the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) anticipates a growth rate of 5.1 percent.

Analyzing the speed and persistence of per capita growth over two timeframes –2001-2019 and 2022-2025 — the report shows that a few countries, including Rwanda, Benin, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Mauritius, and Uganda, had demonstrated economic resilience, maintaining growth rates above 2.5 percent in both periods

According to the World Bank, Rwanda’s economic activity had a robust start in 2023, with real GDP growing by 9.2 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, following an 8.2 percent increase in 2022. The Bank attributes this expansion to robust growth in private consumption and increased net exports.

While inflation is downward, it remains above central bank targets in most regional countries, including Rwanda. Contributing factors include a global demand slowdown, easing global supply chain disruptions, lower commodity prices, and contractionary monetary policies, all leading to lower inflation. In 2023, inflation is expected to decrease to 7.3 percent, down from 9.3 percent in 2022.

 

TotalEnergies Uganda rEVolution hackathon; Ai Utilizing Solution Clinches First Place.

An innovative solution utilizing artificial intelligence to identify optimal locations for Electric Vehicle (EV) charging points has clinched the top spot in the prestigious ‘TotalEnergies Uganda rEVolution hackathon.’

This ingenious solution that was presented by the TBKN team was unveiled as the winner during an awards ceremony in Kampala on Oct.11, marking the culmination of a three-month hackathon challenge initiated by TotalEnergies Uganda. 

This challenge aimed to provide young Ugandans with an opportunity to devise solutions for identifying the best locations for EV charging points in Kampala.

TBKN, the team that emerged the winner, was awarded a cash prize of Shs 18.5 million. The first runners-up, ISBAT University, secured a prize of Shs 11.1 million. Data Knight and Shalom were tied for third place, each receiving Shs 3.7 million.

Philippe Groueix, General Manager of TotalEnergies EP Uganda and Country Chair of TotalEnergies in Uganda, said the energy company is actively involved in Uganda’s e-mobility think tank and supports innovation aligned with e-mobility.

He said the e-mobility rEVolution hackathon challenge was launched to foster youth engagement and innovation, aligning with the company’s pillar of Youth Inclusion.

The hackathon received over 400 applications from Ugandans aged 18 to 45 between July and September 2023, with Outbox Uganda executing the challenge on behalf of TotalEnergies Uganda.

“This hackathon demonstrated that young people still have a role to play in addressing societal challenges in partnership with the private sector. We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensure that the solutions selected can be considered for operationalization by TotalEnergies in Uganda and other mobility actors in Uganda,” Team Principal, Outbox Uganda, Richard Zulu added.

The initial evaluation led to the shortlisting of 16 teams, each composed of four members, who were tasked with proposing innovative ideas utilizing data on Kampala city’s road infrastructure, electricity networks, and traffic patterns.

The teams received mentorship and coaching to refine their ideas before presenting them to judges. The judging process considered criteria such as the innovativeness of the ideas, team composition, presentation, and alignment with business objectives.

 

GIS Launches 7-Year Strategic Plan.

The Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) recently launched a seven-year strategic plan intended to change the face of migration in the country. The plan, which begins from 2023 to 2029, will provide a roadmap for the GIS to operate efficient, fair, and firm immigration work systems through digitalization.

The initiative, launched in Accra yesterday, was attended by government officials, the Ga Mantse, King Tackie Teiko Tsuru, heads of security agencies, members of the diplomatic corps, civil society organizations, and development partners, among others.

Development of the plan

The Comptroller-General of Immigration, Kwame Asuah Takyi, said since 2011, his outfit had been developing strategic plans to guide its operations and administrative activities.

With the expiration of the 2018–2022 plan, he said the service commenced the development of the new plan with technical assistance from the International Centre for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) under a project called “Strengthening Border and Migration Management in Ghana” which was funded by the Denmark Government.

Mr. Takyi said the plan was developed through a participatory approach that involved officers at various levels across the GIS regional commands, departments, sections, and units, as well as stakeholders from the government, international organizations, development partners, and civil society representatives.

The process of formulating a new strategic plan, the Comptroller-General added, offered the service the opportunity to take stock of past successes and failures in line with best practices.

He, therefore, said the plan would help the service to position itself strategically in its operational environment by aligning effectively with the changes taking place in its environment.

Mr Asuah Takyi, however, called for more support for the successful implementation of the plan and said “The long-term survival of GIS depends on sound strategic decisions effectively implemented.

“We will, therefore, require all hands on deck to realize our vision”, he added.

The Minister for the Interior, Ambrose Dery, commended the GIS for the initiative and said the plan was well thought through because it clearly outlined strategies the service would adopt to realize its mandate.

He said he was aware of the extensive consultations in the development of the plan “so we can be assured that the concerns of all relevant stakeholders have been captured”.

Mr Dery, therefore, urged stakeholders in the migration management space to support activities outlined in the plan.

“As we continue our commitment to promote a humane and orderly management of migration, it is necessary for us to collectively maintain a well-coordinated multi-sectoral intervention to aid the process”.

Human rights

The project manager of ICMPD, Ghana, Lulia Jolley Socea, said: “At the center of migration are actual people, individual migrants affected by the work of border agencies such as the GIS which is why respect for human rights and integrity and gender-responsiveness are important themes in this strategic plan”.

Migration governance, she added, was not a one-agency job and, therefore, appealed for further support to implement the “ambitious plan”.

The Danish ambassador in Ghana, Tom Norring, said Denmark placed importance on migration, hence the reason for its continuous support of the GIS initiative. 

Djibouti Inaugurates First-ever Green Energy.

Djibouti inaugurates its first-ever green energy, maiden wind farm of the 60 MW Red Sea Power (RSP). This is expected to boost the country’s free trade zone development. The project near Lake Goubet is linked in order to boost the overall capacity by 50 percent while averting 252,500 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.

As was divulged, this first significant international investment in the energy sector in Djibouti, the USD122 million project, which was inaugurated by President Ismaïl Omar Guelleh will create the country’s first Independent Power Producer (IPP) further setting a template for further private investment.

The investors responsible for the said project are now mulling an additional capacity of 45 MW of renewable energy.

 

For this compound project, the consortium of investors behind RSP includes; Africa Finance Corporation (AFC), the Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO, blended finance fund manager Climate Fund Managers (CFM), and Great Horn Investment Holding (GHIH), an investment firm owned by a unit of the Djibouti Ports and Free Zones Authority.

 

Until now, Djibouti has been entirely reliant on power generated from fossil fuels, as well as hydro-generated power imported from their neighboring country, Ethiopia. For the East African nation, the new clean energy will spur industrialization, job creation, and economic stability as Djibouti seeks to take advantage of its strategic location as a global transshipment hub.

 

With its extensive coastline and dedicated port facilities positioned strategically along the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, Djibouti has a central role to play in the global energy market.

 

The country has enough wind, solar, and geothermal resources to triple its existing capacity to at least 300MW. Leveraging its seaports to diversify the economy, Djibouti set out to build an industrial zone in 2017, sparking preliminary discussions on boosting energy capacity. 

The consortium for the wind farm was formed in 2018 and subsequently provided all-equity construction bridge financing via AFC, FMO, CFM’s Climate Investor One fund, and GHIH, which propelled the project to achieve financial close in a record 22 months. Construction kicked off in January 2020 and continued at pace despite the global supply challenges caused by Covid-era lockdowns.

The site’s 17 Siemens turbines each produce 3.4 MW, served by a robust 220 megavolt amperes (MVA) substation and connected by a 5km overhead transmission line to the local grid operator.

 

The electricity generated is to be sold under a long-term power purchase agreement to Electricité de Djibouti (EDD), the national state-owned utility. Using the project as a template for future IPPs, the Government of Djibouti is already working on several other plants for additional geothermal and solar capacity.

 

The project stands out as a demonstration of the use of innovative equity financing to accelerate development impact through de-risking, while showcasing the commercial viability of transformative projects in Africa, thereby crowding in diverse capital sources, and enabling replication of similar projects at reduced financing costs.

 

EDD’s payment obligations under the power purchase agreement (PPA) were backed by a government guarantee, and in turn, the government’s obligations were also backed by political risk cover provided by the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

 

“Djibouti has abundant renewable resources for sustainable and clean energy production,” said Aboubaker Omar Hadi, Chairman of GHIH, adding, “Our aim is to be the first country in Africa to be 100 percent reliant on green energy by 2035. Investment in renewable energy infrastructure is the key to enabling our ambitions, and the inauguration of the groundbreaking Red Sea Power wind farm today is a major milestone. 

 

A reliable and cost-effective energy solution is vital to drive Djibouti’s infrastructure growth. With the development of Industrial Free Zones projects, we estimate that the country faces a projected demand of 3700 MW in the next decade. Tapping into renewable resources like solar, geothermal, wind, and tidal is crucial to bridge this gap.”

 

Francois Maze, CEO of Red Sea Power, in accordance, said, “Access to electricity is vital for business growth, job creation, education, healthcare, social services, and infrastructure. In a country currently served entirely by fossil fuels and electricity imports, large-scale renewable energy solutions are urgently needed to mitigate and increase resilience to climate change. Today’s inauguration is an important milestone in Djibouti’s aim to be entirely served by renewable energy sources by 2035.”

 

In addition to the new wind farm, the Red Sea Power partners have built a solar-powered desalination plant that was also inaugurated today. The plant will provide drinking water to villages near the farm. Some parts of Djibouti are currently experiencing a major national water crisis, with 20 percent of rural areas lacking access to clean water. Many households have insufficient water to meet basic needs, particularly during the dry season, resulting in widespread loss of livelihoods and income.

 

AFC holds a 51 percent majority stake in RSP; FMO and CIO of Climate Fund Managers hold 19.5 percent each while GIHH holds 10 percent.

Mental Health: Kite Flying Event at Heideveld Sports Field.

On Tuesday, Cape Mental Health organized a kite flying at the Heideveld Sports Field in Manenberg to raise awareness about mental health ahead of the 29th Cape Town Kite Festival, scheduled for Sunday 29 October on Melkbosstrand Beach.

At the event, themed The Sky Is Your Canvas, young children from various early childhood development centers and schools ran around, yelling excitedly, flying bat kites and bird kites. Rainbow-coloured kites were distributed free of charge. Children were also delighted to see a green kite mascot.

Cape Mental Health deputy executive officer Carol Bosch said, “It’s world mental health day today, but October is also mental health awareness month. So, this event is about creating awareness about mental health and the importance of taking care of yourself.”

“It’s a fun activity, having the community fly kites and just creating lightness. Mental health is not an easy subject to talk about for a lot of people.”

Bosch said many of the children present had mental impediments and were in special education and care centers.

“Some of them obtain their milestones much later, others not at all, so what we try to do at our special education and care centers is to try and stimulate development. Just because you have an intellectual disability does not mean you are not able to grow,” said Bosch.

Founded in 1913, Cape Mental Health provides essential mental health services in the Western Cape. According to the organization, they serve about 50,000 people and their families a year. There are 22 intervention programmes with 133 staff.

Vernecia Creighton, of Manenberg, was flying a rainbow kite with her two-year-old twins and their two-year-old cousin. She came across the event by accident.

“There is so much going on in our communities, like drugs and crime, which can contribute to people struggling with mental health,” said Creighton.

Bosch said, “There are so many social issues in the communities we work in – high unemployment, high crime rates. A lot of our children are growing up traumatized by witnessing killings.”

“We all need good mental health – it is the way we look at life, the way we approach life, it is how resilient we are.”

 

Gambia, EU Seacop Partnership Making Waves in Disrupting Maritime Drug Trafficking.

Gambia is a key transit point for South American cocaine being smuggled to Europe. In February, over 800 kg of cocaine that had been transferred from a larger ship in the open sea was confiscated from a Gambian fishing boat in Senegalese waters. In 2021, Gambian authorities seized almost three tonnes of the drug, hidden in a shipment of industrial salt from Ecuador.

Gambia’s government has admitted to the allegations that the country is being used as “transit/storage for cocaine, heroin, and cannabis originating from source countries and the sub-region entering the country through the sea, land, and air borders”. 

A police officer with the Drug Law Enforcement Agency (Dleag), who requested anonymity, said the rise in maritime cocaine smuggling in the country could be traced back to the early 2000s. At that time, the opening of global markets saw traffickers start using West Africa as a transit point for cocaine shipments from South America to Europe.

The country’s 200 km coastline and limited resources to effectively police its maritime domain make it an attractive location and practical transit point for cocaine trafficking. Transnational organized criminal groups have also capitalized on the limited law enforcement capacity at the country’s ports.

Under Yahya Jammeh’s rule, the government faced substantial challenges in investigating and prosecuting drug crimes, according to Michael Davies, Executive Director of Public-Private Integrity, an anti-corruption civil society organization. He told the Enact organized crime project that this primarily stemmed from “inadequate case management, a shortage of staff in the judicial sector and court overload — and the criminals knew that”. The country’s former leaders and institutions have also been implicated in drug trafficking.

In recent years, however, Gambia has been fighting back. Ismaila Sow, a police officer with Dleag, said the current administration was working with regional and international partners to share intelligence, run joint operations, train law enforcement, and improve capacity to detect and intercept drug trafficking boats. The country’s 2021 agreement signed with Nigeria indicated its willingness to fight the maritime drug trade, said Sow.

Gambia has also improved its legal framework. The amended National Drug Control Council Act (2005) established the independent National Drug Enforcement Agency to enforce, regulate, and coordinate all matters related to illicit drug trafficking and abuse. The act has since been amended four times to enhance its enforcement capabilities. In 2014, the drug enforcement agency was reconstituted as the Dleag to ensure compliance with international standards.

These advances, along with increased investment in law enforcement agencies, have resulted in more drug seizures, drug-related arrests, and prosecutions QTV reports that from January 2021 to April 2023, the Dleag recorded 1,629 cases involving 1,665 accused. In the same news story on World Drug Day 2023, Minister of Interior Seyaka Sonko expressed the government’s determination to “dismantle any organized crime network in our jurisdiction”.

In January, Gambia signed an agreement with Seacop, the European Union-funded Seaport Cooperation Project that works with countries to disrupt and prevent maritime trafficking. The project’s main implementing partner, Expertise France, aims to build capacity and strengthen cooperation in countries on the trans-Atlantic cocaine route. 

To achieve results, however, Gambia must prioritize improved information sharing, intelligence gathering, and joint operations between police, customs, and port authorities, as called for by the agreement. A specialized maritime task force dedicated to combatting drug trafficking must be established, comprising members of various security agencies, including the police, navy, and customs. The unit will need resources and training to investigate and apprehend traffickers.

Akala said the Seacop project would provide Gambia’s drug enforcement agencies with equipment and training in October. Seacop emphasizes intelligence-driven approaches and technology to identify high-risk containers and detect illicit goods. It will provide authorities with advanced container scanning equipment and data analysis tools that should significantly improve Gambia’s ability to identify and intercept contraband.

Combatting maritime drug trafficking also requires a close working relationship with neighboring countries and regional partners. Gambia shares a long border with Senegal — a major transit point for drug traffickers. Gambia’s maritime security is linked to activities in the Gulf of Guinea, a significant hotspot for piracy and other crimes. Any efforts to combat drug trafficking and other marine crimes must include joint operations and patrols, and the harmonizing of legislative frameworks.

Gambia must also get involved in the development and implementation of a regional maritime security strategy, as called for by the Yaoundé Code of Conduct — the backbone of maritime security for West and Central Africa.  

Ugandan Start up Turns Banana Stems Into Useful Fiber.

Africans have always cultivated the habit of utilizing every single thing, they try not to waste anything or see the usefulness in a lot of things and one such thing is banana stems.

According to a Ugandan startup, that’s buying banana stems in a business that turns fibers into biodegradable handicrafts, it is a fresh idea in this East African country that’s a banana republic. Uganda has the highest banana consumption rate in the world and is Africa’s top producer.

According to figures from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, bananas can contribute up to 25 percent of the daily calorie intake in rural areas.

In Uganda, the consumption of bananas is embedded in local customs and traditions. For many, a meal is complete with a serving of matooke.

To harvest the crop, the stem must be decapitated, they’re often left to rot in open fields.

But local startup TEXFAD, which describes itself as a waste management group, is now taking advantage of this abundance of rotting stems to extract banana fiber that’s then turned into items such as hair extensions.

John Baptist Okello, TEXFAD’s business manager, says it makes sense in a country where farmers “are struggling a lot” and have tonnes of banana-related waste.

The company, which collaborates with seven different farmers’ groups in western Uganda, pays $2.7 (USD) per kilogram of dried fiber.

TEXFAD also takes material from a third party, Tupande Holdings Ltd., whose trucks deliver banana stems from central Uganda farmers.

Tupande’s workers sort through stems, looking for desirable ones. Machines then turn the fiber into tiny threads.

“Our contribution in the value chain is that we put extra income in the hands of the farmer, we turn this waste into something valuable that we sell to our partners who also make things that they can sell,” explains Tupande team leader Aggrey Muganga.

“We are doing this to create extra income, to create employment for ourselves, and to contribute to the industrialization of Uganda and betterment of the lives of Ugandans.”

Tupande Holdings Ltd. deals with more than 60 farmers that supply the raw material.

That number is only a small fraction of what’s available in a country where more than a million hectares are planted with bananas.

Banana production has been rising steadily over the years, growing from 6.5 metric tonnes in 2018 to 8.3 metric tonnes in 2019, according to figures from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics.

At a plant in a village just outside the Ugandan capital Kampala, TEXFAD employs more than 30 people who use their hands to make items from banana fibers.

The company exports its rug and lampshade products to Europe.

Such items are possible because “banana fiber can be softened to the level of cotton,” explains Okello.

Working with researchers, TEXFAD is also experimenting with possible fabrics from banana fibers.

The company is also designing hair extension products it believes could help rid the market of synthetic products.

All products by TEXFAD are biodegradable, says Faith Kabahuma from the company’s banana hair development program.

She says the company’s hair extensions will soon be on the market.

“The problem with synthetic fibers, is they do so much clogging, like everywhere you go, even if you go to dig in the gardens right now, you would find synthetic fibers around, so it’s not environmentally friendly,” says Kabahuma.

Ugandan Startup, TEXFAD Turns Banana Wastes into Biodegradables.

A  local startup firm in Uganda called TEXFAD which operates as a waste management group has developed an initiative where banana stems are turned into fibers and then later into biodegradable handicrafts such as hair extensions. The company has proven that banana plants are not just useful for its fruits but also for other purposes. 

Uganda has the highest banana consumption rate in the world and is Africa’s top producer. The idea is a fresh one in the East African country that is literally a banana republic. According to statistics from the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization, bananas can contribute up to 25% of the daily calorie intake in rural areas.

TEXFAD has taken advantage of the decapitated stem, which is often left to rot in open fields to extract banana fibre that is later turned into items like hair extension. The consumption of bananas in Uganda is embedded in local customs and traditions. For many indigenes, a meal is complete with a serving of matooke.

According to TEXFAD’s business manager, John Baptist Okello, it makes sense in a country where farmers “are struggling a lot” and have tonnes of banana-related waste. The company has also collaborated with seven different farmers’ groups in west Uganda and pays $2.7 (USD) per kilogram for dried banana fiber.

Aside from its partnership with different farmer’s groups, TEXFAD also takes material from a third party, Tupande Holdings Ltd. which delivers banana stems from central Uganda farmers. The workers at Tupande put in extra effort by sorting through stems and looking for desirable ones. After sorting, machines then process the fiber into tiny threads. 

The Team Leader at Tupande, Aggrey Muganga says, “Our contribution in the value chain is that we put extra income in the hands of the farmer, we turn this waste into something valuable that we sell to our partners who also make things that they can sell”. “We are doing this to create extra income, to create employment for ourselves, and to contribute to the industrialization of Uganda and betterment of the lives of Ugandans,” he further added.

Tupande Holdings Ltd. has more than 60 farmers that supply the raw material and this is only a small fraction of what is available in a country where more than a million hectares are planted with bananas. Over the years, according to data from the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, banana plantation has risen steadily, growing from 6.5 metric tonnes in 2018 to 8.3 metric tonnes in 2019.

TEXFAD employs more than 30 people at a plant in a village just outside the country’s capital, Kampala, who use their hands to make items from banana fibers. TEXFAD produce or products like rugs and lampshades are exported to Europe; the business manager explains that “banana fiber can be softened to the level of cotton, ” making it possible to produce such items. TEXFAD has also moved ahead to experiment with possible fabrics from banana fibers in collaboration with researchers. It is also designing hair extension products which the company believes could help rid the market of synthetic products. 

According to Faith Kabahuma from the company’s hair development programme, all products by TEXFAD are biodegradable, further disclosing that the company’s hair extensions will soon be on the market. “The problem with synthetic fibers is they do so much clogging, like everywhere you go, even if you go to dig in the gardens right now, you would find synthetic fibers around, so it is not environmentally friendly,” she noted.