African Characteristics

Seychelles Hosts Inaugural IFBB Event.

Seychelles will host the 2023 IFBB International Grand Prix for the first time with the participation of over 20 athletes vying for the top prize. 

The competition, which is being done in collaboration between the International Fitness and Bodybuilding Federation (IFBB) and local body Seychelles Elite Pro Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, will take place on Saturday, at the Berjaya Beau Vallon Beach Resort.

The chairperson of the Seychelles Elite Pro Amateur Bodybuilding and Fitness Federation, Chantal Pinchon, told SNA that “it was during the IFBB congress last year, that we met with the president, and there the idea of Seychelles hosting an IFBB event came around and was agreed upon.”  

The event will start at 6 p.m. and eight participants from Seychelles, six men, and two women have already confirmed their participation. Savio Larue, Elicks Rapide, Jean-Luc Belle, Andy Anthony, and Derrick Mensah will compete among the ladies, while Shereen Azemia and Lindsay Payet will compete.

Pinchon explained that while this tournament is reserved for amateur bodybuilders, Ziad Meckdachi, who retired as a professional, will not be able to compete.

“There will be seven IFBB pro cards up for grabs, to the winners of each category. Getting an IFBB Pro Card means the bodybuilder becomes part of the elite. At this point you’ve made it, and have the opportunity to follow a genuine career as a professional bodybuilder, earning a decent income by competing and winning,” she said.

There will be six categories for men – bodybuilding, physique, classic physique, classic bodybuilding, junior classic bodybuilding, and junior men’s physique.

The ladies will compete in the bikini fitness, and bikini physique, as well as in the fit model categories.

Pinchon said that one of the advantages of Seychelles hosting the competition is that the participants will not have to deal with the expenses of going abroad.

She said she was hoping to get more local participants.

“I want the athletes to be more serious with the sport, where they have to ensure that they are ready in time for such competitions,” said Pinchon, who revealed that Seychelles will in fact hold a second international competition on June 22, 2024.

Tickets for the competition cost SCR300 ($22) while those wishing to attend the competition and the buffet dinner must pay SCR1200 ($90).

 

Morocco, UAE Sign MoU to Enhance Cybersecurity Cooperation.

In a significant step towards enhancing cybersecurity cooperation and securing the digital space, the General Directorate of Information Systems Security Administration of the National Defence of the Kingdom of Morocco and the Cyber Security Council for the United Arab Emirates have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on October 19, 2023, at Dubai Gitex.

This landmark agreement represents a shared commitment to collaborate on cybersecurity initiatives to address the growing challenges and risks in the global cyberspace landscape. The MoU aims to create a broad framework for cooperation between Morocco and the UAE in cybersecurity. By doing so, both nations recognize the critical role cybersecurity plays in the success of their digital transformation efforts and overall economic and social growth. As technology continues to advance, the need for robust cybersecurity measures to counteract the growing threats has become paramount.

Under the wise leadership of His Majesty King Mohammed VI, Morocco has been engaged, since 2011, in the process of developing national capabilities for information systems security and enhancing digital trust. In line with the royal vision and directives, the Kingdom has enhanced cybersecurity by securing information systems, public departments, institutions, and vital infrastructure against cyberattacks.

The MoU establishes a joint committee that will be responsible for planning and overseeing the implementation of these cooperation activities, along with setting the timelines for these initiatives. This committee will meet annually, alternating between Morocco and the UAE, and as needed to address pressing cybersecurity issues.

The MoU highlights the commitment of Morocco and the UAE to establish a secure digital environment and leverage their collective expertise to enhance their respective cybersecurity capabilities. By fostering cooperation in these crucial areas, the two nations aim to contribute to the broader efforts to secure cyberspace regionally and globally.

This historic MoU marks the beginning of a new chapter in cybersecurity collaboration between Morocco and the UAE, serving as a model for international cooperation in the ever-evolving cybersecurity domain.

World Travels Award 2023: Seychelles Clinches an Award.

Seychelles has yet again shone at the World Travel Awards 2023 claiming the Indian Ocean’s Leading Honeymoon and Cruise Destination awards.

Seychelles won the awards at the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony, held on October 15 and 16 at Atlantis The Royal, Dubai.

 According to a press release made by Tourism Seychelles, the marketing branch of the tourism department, winning the two awards reaffirms the island nation’s magnetic appeal to travelers in search of extraordinary and enduring experiences.

“Seychelles, renowned for its unspoiled beaches, verdant landscapes, and thriving marine ecosystems, has consistently garnered international favor among globetrotters. These prestigious accolades, conferred by the World Travel Awards, stand as a testimony to the nation’s unwavering commitment to tourism excellence and the heartfelt warmth of its hospitality,” said Tourism Seychelles.

The destination scooped two additional titles, both won by its national airline, Air Seychelles, namely the Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline – Economy Class 2023 and the Indian Ocean’s Leading Airline Brand 2023.

The island nation’s representative in the Middle East, Ahmed Fathallah, expressed his profound pride and gratitude for these latest achievements.

“We are elated to be the recipients of these prestigious awards and extend our heartfelt gratitude to the World Travel Awards and the numerous supporters who cast their votes in favor of Seychelles. These accolades signify the dedication and tireless efforts of the Seychellois people and the tourism industry at large. We remain committed to delivering exceptional experiences to all our visitors,” he said.

Bernadette Willemin, director general for destination marketing, said she is delighted to see Seychelles continuing to thrive as a destination.

“We are incredibly humbled by this award yet again. We have held the titles for a few years now and couldn’t be happier to reinforce our position as regional leaders. The accolade is a tribute to our country’s hard work, devotion, and enthusiasm. I am grateful to our hotel industry partners for their contributions to local companies, tour operators, and the community at large. Most importantly, we are deeply appreciative of the faith and support that our tourists have shown in our destination,” she added.

Crowned as the Indian Ocean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination underscores Seychelles’ irresistible allure to couples seeking an enchanting and romantic escape.

Tourism Seychelles said that the nation’s “splendid array of luxury resorts and intimate settings make it an idyllic haven for honeymooners looking to celebrate their love amid the natural beauty of the Indian Ocean.”

In its capacity as the “Indian Ocean’s Leading Cruise Destination,” Seychelles continues to captivate cruise lines and operators seeking to offer passengers an unforgettable exploration of these idyllic isles.

Producers Team up to Process Slag as Zambia Targets Higher Copper Output.

Metals processing group Jubilee Metals has partnered with Zambia’s Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) in a project seeking to produce copper and cobalt from retreating mining waste.

The joint venture (JV) comes at a critical time for the state-owned MCM, which is looking for a strategic investor as it has been struggling to make a profit.

Sibanye-Stillwater is among the bidders vying for the copper assets, which can be considered critical to the green economy as the world transitions from environmentally damaging fossil fuels.

 

A successful bidder could be announced any time this month after a delay in finalizing the adjudication process.

For London and JSE-listed Jubilee, the JV allows it to showcase its ability to retreat waste materials and turn them into assets. 

 

Jubilee and MCM will appoint a special-purpose vehicle to facilitate the JV for processing the slag at the MCM facility in Mufulira. Its mandate could also be expanded to incorporate the treatment of material from tailing dumps and oxide ore sourced from small-scale miners.

The overarching strategy is to extract value from MCM plants under care and maintenance.

 

Under the targeted JV, Jubilee is exclusively appointed to design, implement, and operate the new processing facility with the first right to fund the implementation of the project in collaboration with MCM. 

 

The supervisory board made up of representatives from both companies will also be formed to oversee the JV.

“This slag project not only offers further scale to our current project portfolio but also high-value metal content material,” Jubilee CEO Leon Coetzer said in a statement on Tuesday. 

“The project holds the potential to accelerate investment into the Mufulira area, which will benefit not only the JV partners but all stakeholders.”

He added that the project formed part of a greater waste recovery initiative championed by Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema to achieve 3 million tonnes of copper output per annum. 

Its shares rose 2% to R1.35 in midafternoon trade on the JSE, but are down almost 40% so far in 2023.

In June, Jubilee entered into a new partnership agreement to expand its chrome footprint and platinum group metals feed in SA.

Jubilee aims to grow its local operational footprint by almost two-thirds over the next two years to reach a production rate of 2 million tonnes per year. 

The agreement — set down for six years with the option of another four — will see the company being appointed as the exclusive process solution provider committed to retrofitting and operating an existing chrome processing facility, located adjacent to the chrome ore producer.

Mozambique to Sign More Contracts for Offshore Hydrocarbon Exploration.

According to the reports, the Mozambique National Petroleum Institute (INP) revealed that the concession contracts awarded late last year for the 6th licensing round will be signed by December.

The China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) netted the bulk of the six awarded contracts, securing two in the Save region off the coast of Inhambane Province and three in the Angoche region near Nampula Province. Italian oil company Eni secured the remaining contract, also for the Angoche region.

The contracts will be valid for eight years, according to INP Chairman Nazário Bangalane, “which will allow operating companies to mature the research process … [ensuring] that more resources are produced, with particular emphasis on natural gas”. INP is “immensely satisfied” that the technical sessions, now at an advanced stage, have clarified most of the concerns raised by investors, he added.

INP launched the 6th licensing round in November 2021, offering 16 new areas across four regions: the Rovuma Basin (5); Angoche (7), the Zambezi Delta (2),` and Save (2). Thirteen companies from various countries competed, with CNOOC, SINOPEC, and PetroChina giving China the largest representation among them. 

While contracts for 16 areas were on offer, the companies involved only submitted bids for the six areas eventually awarded to CNOOC and Eni. Bangalane still views the round as a success, citing the interest of the winning companies as “evidence of the importance of the country’s sedimentary basins” and their potential to contribute to the energy transition.

Mozambique holds the third largest proven natural gas reserves in Africa, at around a trillion cubic feet. The emphasis on natural gas in the new contracts, Bangalane noted, will “ensure the injection of cleaner and more accessible energy” into the national and international markets.

 

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.

 

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. 

Four African Countries Get Elected Into the UN Human Rights Council.

On Tuesday, the United Nations General Assembly conducted an election to appoint 15 new member countries to serve on the Human Rights Council, of which four of the new members are African nations. These four African members are Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Malawi.

 

Assembly President Dennis Francis officially announced the new members after the casting and tallying of ballots. The new members are Albania, Brazil, Bulgaria, Burundi, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, France, Ghana, Indonesia, Japan, Kuwait, Malawi, and the Netherlands.

The assumption of their three-year term role will commence on the 1st of January 2024. Remarkably, China, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, France, and Malawi secured re-election for their second terms. 

 

The Human Rights Council is a prominent UN body responsible for the global promotion and protection of fundamental human rights. The Human Rights Council established in 2006 consists of 47 member states selected through a secret ballot by the majority of the General Assembly members.

 

The council tries to ensure a fair distribution of seats across geographical regions by allocating its seats to regional groups of states: Africa, Asia-Pacific, Eastern Europe, Latin American and Caribbean, Western Europe, and others.

 

Among the African nations that voted for the council, Malawi received the highest number of votes with 182 votes, followed closely by Cote d’Ivoire with 181 votes, Ghana with 179, and Burundi with 168.

 

This also marks the first time the Dominican Republic has been elected to the Human Rights Council.

 

The new members will join the existing Human Rights Council members on the 1st of January 2024 which include Algeria, Argentina, Bangladesh, Belgium, Benin, Cameroon, Chile, Costa Rica, Eritrea, Finland, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Honduras, India, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, and Luxembourg.

 

Furthermore, Malaysia, Maldives, Montenegro, Morocco, Paraguay, Qatar, Romania, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates, the United States of America, and Vietnam are part of the council.

 

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.

GEB 2023: Zim Exhibit Pleases Botswana President.

The huge presence of Zimbabwean companies participating at the 2023 Global Expo, Botswana, and the display of high-quality products has charmed President Eric Mokgweetsi Masisi.

There was a total of 23 companies from different sectors of the economy in Zimbabwe exhibiting their goods and services at the expo. They were seeking to leverage the platform to expand their market footprint and seal trade strategic synergies. 

Global Expo Botswana (GEB) is the country’s premier International multi-sectoral business-to-business exhibition that is managed by BITC on behalf of the government of Botswana. The annual expo is held towards the end of the year, and it attracts exhibitors and business people from the region and globally.

This expo brought together multiple sector players and industry leaders in agriculture, education, energy, finance, health, and ICT, many industry experts, policymakers, and entrepreneurs. During this two-day event, guests have the opportunity to participate in business-to-business sessions, round table discussions, and workshops on specific sectors, including the health and pharmaceutical sector, financial and business services including green financial services, Manufacturing and ICT, and innovation.

The key highlights of the Global Expo Botswana include an Exhibition of cutting-edge products and services from diverse industries, engaging in seminars and workshops on market trends and emerging opportunities, networking sessions with key decision-makers and industry experts, and B2B meetings for potential collaborations and partnerships.

President Masisi conducted a tour of the exhibition stands which included Zimbabwe. He engaged with several exhibitors and admired their products and displays. He expressed particular excitement with the leather products, agriculture, and value addition thrust shown by Zimbabwean firms. 

Botswana boasts a competitive advantage as one of Southern Africa’s fastest-growing economies with preferential market access to SACU, EU, SADC, and MERCUSOR markets.

This event will Promote investment opportunities in Botswana, encourage Joint Venture Partnerships between citizens and foreign exhibitors, promote intra-regional trade and further integrate Botswana into the Global Trading System, and Offer exhibitors and visitors a platform to explore new markets, secure new business, build new partnerships and grow business.

GEB has various value-added services that run concurrently to the exhibition such as workshops, one-on-one buyer-seller meetings, and an international Investment and Trade Conference.

This year, in collaboration with the European Union, will launch the EU-Botswana Business Forum (EBBF). The EBBF is a collaborative effort between the European Union and the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) to bring together the business community from Europe and Botswana.

GEB came into existence in 2006 and has been held successfully on an annual basis since its inception. This major trade and investment platform offers businesses an exciting opportunity to do business in one of Southern Africa’s and Africa’s most stable and fastest-growing economies, given the geographical centrality of Botswana in the SADC region.

This year’s expo will last till the 14th of October.

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.

Zimbabwe Gold Delivery increases by 26.24% in September

Gold deliveries to Fidelity Gold Refinery (FGR) saw an outstanding increase of 26.24% in September compared to August, according to the latest data. This surge in gold deliveries reflects a recovery in the production of the precious metal in Zimbabwe. The country has set a target of producing 40 tonnes of gold this year.

In September, a total of 2,479.7759 kilograms of gold were delivered to FGR, surpassing August’s figures. However, when compared to the same period in 2022, gold production in September was down by 7.28%, with last year’s September deliveries amounting to 3,376 kilograms.

While breaking down the September deliveries, it was discovered that large-scale gold producers contributed 961.1361 kilograms, while artisanal miners delivered 2,169.5769 kilograms of gold to FGR.

Data from FGR reveals that over the first nine months of the year, Zimbabwe produced a total of 22,465.8953 kilograms of gold. Small-scale miners accounted for 61.87% of this production, with large-scale gold producers contributing the remaining portion.
Despite the increase in gold deliveries in September, doubts persist regarding Zimbabwe’s ability to reach its target of producing 40 tonnes of gold this year. Earlier in the year, gold deliveries were significantly impacted by heavy rains, resulting in a nearly 16% decline in the first four months compared to the same period in 2022.

In May, Henrietta Rushwaya, the President of the Zimbabwe Miners Federation, expressed optimism that the sector would surpass the previous year’s gold production of 33 tonnes, despite a slow start.

Notably, gold has been a key contributor to Zimbabwe’s exports, with the Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZimStat) reporting that a substantial portion of exported goods in August 2023, worth US$603.2 million, came from gold. Gold accounted for 21.6% of these exports.

ZimStat also noted that Zimbabwe’s trade deficit had decreased, dropping from US$179.8 million in July 2023 to US$170.1 million in August 2023. This decrease was attributed to increased exports, which rose by 7.7% in August, compared to July. Key exports included semi-manufactured gold, nickel mattes, tobacco, and other mineral substances.

Ginkgo Bioworks, Government of the Republic of Madagascar Sign MoU.

Ginkgo Bioworks (NYSE: DNA), and the Government of the Republic of Madagascar today announced that they have entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with the intent to develop and implement new biosecurity capabilities in Madagascar.

Ginkgo’s biosecurity unit, Concentric by Ginkgo, aims to support Madagascar’s public health institutions with infrastructure and tools to bolster its biosecurity efforts against COVID-19 and other new or existing biological threats. Through bioinformatics training, digital pathogen monitoring dashboards, and genomic sequencing technologies, Concentric will support Madagascar’s initiatives to detect pathogens at key ports of entry and throughout the surrounding region. 

As part of this multi-phased program, Madagascar aims to leverage Concentric’s expertise in travel biosecurity programs to implement a wastewater and voluntary nasal swab monitoring program at the Ivato International Airport and other ports of entry.

This collaboration aims to set up a key node in Concentric’s international biosecurity network, which collects data to help public health and national security officials develop biodefense capabilities and help policymakers make informed decisions about biological risks. The partners plan to bolster biomonitoring capabilities across Africa, to detect and respond to biological threats, following Concentric’s announced partnerships with Botswana, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda.

“We look forward to our work with the Republic of Madagascar as we share a commitment to bolstering biosecurity in the country and throughout the region,” said Matt McKnight, General Manager of biosecurity at Ginkgo Bioworks. “Programs like these can create strong global biosecurity infrastructure such as a global radar to monitor the spread of pathogens, which is key to mitigating biological threats and giving national security and public health officials an early warning to help keep ports of entry open safely.”

“As Madagascar continues to prioritize our public health initiatives, we look forward to collaborating with Concentric and leveraging the team’s expertise to further build our biosecurity capabilities and better protect our country—and the world—from biothreats,” said Dr. Valéry M. Fitzgerald Ramonjavelo, Minister of Transport and Meteorology of the Republic of Madagascar.

 

Lesotho, South Africa Teams up to Fight Illegal Mining.

On Thursday, South Africa and Lesotho agreed to work together to strengthen commerce and other ties between the two countries while also pledging to combat illegal mining. According to South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, “We were deeply saddened by the unfortunate loss of lives of illegal miners in Harmony Gold Mine in Welkom.” The mining firm and our respective governments are collaborating on the best techniques and a strategy to remove the miners’ remains without jeopardizing the rescue workers.

He noted that the issue is extremely delicate and “emotive,” especially for the people of Lesotho, and South Africa “will do everything we can to make sure this whole challenge… is properly handled.” According to Ramaphosa, both presidents are conscious of the “sensitivity and complexity” of the situation.

At the binational commission’s initial meeting in Pretoria on Thursday, he and Prime Minister Samuel Matekane of Lesotho both spoke. The president praised Matekane’s pledge to give the comprehensive national reform process top priority for implementation and conclusion.

It is evidence of the steadfast resolve to strengthen relations that the bilateral commission of cooperation between the two nations has been upgraded to a binational commission, he claimed.

“South Africa attaches great importance to its bilateral relations and cooperation with Lesotho. Our relationship is anchored in historic bonds of language‚ culture, and heritage. Economic relations between our two countries have grown over the years and continue to mutually benefit our respective peoples‚” said Ramaphosa.

While Lesotho’s water resources continue to serve this nation, South African firms there help to create jobs, he said. People from Lesotho have labored in South African mines and farms for many years. He added “It is important for the governments of both countries to work together to resolve challenges faced by businesses and put in place mechanisms to ensure investments are protected.

“South Africa highly appreciates the cooperation on water resources between the two countries. In particular‚ we welcome Phase II of the Lesotho Highlands Water Project as a vital development to enhance water security in Gauteng province and other parts of South Africa.

“The Lesotho Highlands Water Project also contributes to job creation in Lesotho and the construction of new roads‚ bringing access to previously inaccessible areas of Lesotho. South Africa is ready to cooperate with Lesotho to resolve any challenges that may arise in the implementation of the project.”

South Africa was also keen to work with its neighbor on four proposed renewable energy projects, he said.

Ramaphosa reaffirmed that South Africa will continue to support the idea of the mediation reference group and the panel of elders from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to help the Basotho complete the national reform process.

Matekane claimed that the purpose of his travel to South Africa was to celebrate the beginning of the binational commission agreement as well as to deepen relations between the two nations.

“The official launch of the binational commission ushers in a new beginning in the relationship between South Africa and Lesotho,” he said. “For centuries our forebears freely interacted and enjoyed people-to-people relations that continue to underpin our relations even today.” 

Matekane noted that the economies of both countries are not only intertwined but interdependent. “As we hold this historic first session of the BNC‚ our duty is to build on the rich history between the countries and the cooperation that is strong in many fields.

“The BNC will serve as a platform for dialogue when we discuss issues of mutual concern‚ explore new opportunities in areas of cooperation and develop innovative solutions to our common challenges that will foster a deeper cooperation and understanding between our two nations.”

The commission will accelerate stronger cooperation in critical areas such as migration‚ trade‚ green energy‚ water resources‚ infrastructure development‚ transport‚ agriculture‚ mining‚ digital technologies‚ defense and security.

The two countries will continue to hold diplomatic consultations to harmonize positions on regional‚ continental and international issues of concern and interest‚ said Matekane.

Kenya to Commence Construction of New JKIA Terminal in January.

The Kenyan government plans to modernize and break ground on the construction of a new terminal at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to begin in January next year, as it seeks to make it competitive regionally. The Chairman of the Kenya Airport Authority (KAA), Caleb Kositany said the government will soon float a tender for the construction of the terminal to increase the capacity of the airport as it will reduce congestion at Kenya’s main port of entry and exit. 

 

However, Kositany stated that the agency is yet to make projections on the exact cost of the project. “We will be breaking ground on a new terminal in January next year to boost the capacity of JKIA to handle more passengers,” said Mr Kositany when he received the maiden ASKY Airlines flight to Nairobi from Lome in Togo. he also noted that the new facility will reinforce JKIA’s status as Africa’s premier hub and gateway into East and Central Africa.

The airline will be flying four times a week between the two nations and Its expansion to Kenya now provides travelers with connecting flights to Abidjan, Abuja, Accra, Bamako, Bangui, Bissau, and Beirut. Others are Brazzaville, Conakry, Cotonou, Dakar, Douala, Freetown, Kinshasa, Lagos, Libreville, Monrovia, N’Djamena, Niamey, Ouagadougou, Pointe Noire, & Yaounde.

 

JKIA is the hub of national carrier Kenya Airways (KQ), its subsidiary Jambojet and other airlines. The airport was built in 1978 to serve just over two million passengers annually and has two terminals: Terminal 1 (1A, 1B, 1C, 1D and 1E) and Terminal 2. However, throughout the years, the number of people utilizing the airport has drastically increased, necessitating an increase in capacity. There are currently 6.5 million passengers served yearly, and more passengers are anticipated in the upcoming years.

 

Mr. Kositany said, “We will be issuing an open tender soon to build the terminal. It will be most likely a PPP (public-private partnership) project or whatever proposal we get that will be friendly and help us deliver the project as soon as we can. As a board we want to do it as quickly as we possibly can and within the law.” 

He noted that the airport is heavily congested especially during peak hours, adding that the construction of the new terminal will also include more parking space for customers.

 

Uhuru Kenyatta, the former president, had started work on the $650 million greenfield terminal at JKIA in December 2013. Following estimates that the project would cost more than $1 billion, it was later discontinued. Its significance was also diminished as a result of Terminal 1A’s capacity being enhanced after reconstruction.

 

In an effort to improve airport security screening, KAA recently performed upgrades to terminals 1B and C at a cost of Sh936 million. 

WeMed Award Sets Date for 2023 Edition in Tunisia.

The WeMed Mediterranean Sustainability Award is one of the first awards that aims to recognize an inclusive transition to sustainability in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean faces a wide batch of environmental and social challenges; Climate change, biodiversity loss, rapid urbanization, and increased resource consumption and waste are just a few of these challenges that require radical measures to confront.

 

The WeMed Mediterranean Sustainability Award stands as a groundbreaking initiative, acknowledging the inclusive journey toward sustainability. A flagship of the UNEP/MAP Mediterranean strategy, this award is not just a ceremony; it is a call for radical change. Climate change, biodiversity loss, urbanization, and resource consumption demand innovative approaches, and the WeMed Awards aim to spotlight those at the forefront.

 

The third edition of the WeMed Mediterranean Sustainability Award will be giving out six prices in a total of €9,000 each, given in the form of consulting services and technical assistance. 

 

This edition is targeting Business Support Organizations and Entrepreneurs/ start-ups that are or have been direct beneficiaries of at least one of the 19 EU-Projects analyzed under RESET in the field of Green Business Creation and Circular Economy. Applicants should have benefited from one of the Outputs (Best Practices, Knowledge, Tool) in one of the Mediterranean-eligible regions within the ENI CBC MED Program and have women (no age limit) and/or youth (up to 35 years old) in their team. 

 

This award ceremony is on the horizon, ready to recognize and celebrate pioneers in sustainable development. The 2023 edition is a crucial part of the RESET project. This project, focused on sustainable, green, and circular business support achievements, serves as a bridge to replication and policy-making, emphasizing the importance of EU projects in the region.

 

The Grand Celebration will be held in Tunisia on the 23rd of October. The event promises a deep dive into the best practices in green entrepreneurship and circular economy, followed by the awarding ceremony and networking opportunities. 

 

The WeMed Award has been created by MedWaves as part of the Switchers Support Programme. The WeMed Award is a flagship initiative of the UNEP/MAP Mediterranean Strategy for Sustainable Development.  This edition of 2023 is funded by the ENI CBC Med Programme.

Katanga Alumni Holds Annual Psychiatric Donation.

Katanga Alumni is made up of students who were residents of the University Hall known as Katanga during their tertiary education at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology. 

The members of this association recently donated to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital. They presented food items which included four sacks of rice, a sack of maize, bags of water, 10 crates of eggs, 100 tubers of yam, and two gallons each of palm oil and vegetable oil. They also presented a box of tomatoes, a sack each of ginger, soya beans, and beans, four American tins of agushie, two mini sacks of onions, a sack of maize, a bucket of margarine, and a sack each of salt and pepper.

While making this presentation, the President of the Global Katanga Alumni Association, Nana Otu Turkson noted that the donation was their way of supporting those considered vulnerable in society. He explained that this gesture was also in line with the association’s tradition of assisting the psychiatric hospital on an annual basis. He also acknowledged the effort of all the members of the group who assisted in their ways to make the donation possible. 

He said, “This engagement started around 2007 by those before us and we have at least been consistent and made sure that every year, we come to support. Mental illness is actually a matter of a sliding scale. We all experience it at some point or the other and therefore we take this as a very serious social responsibility to give back to our brothers and sisters who find themselves in such unfortunate situations because we never know when we might need the services.”

A Nurse and Public Relations officer of the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Francisca Ntow, received the items on behalf of the hospital and expressed her gratitude for their gesture. In the same breath, she advised men to seek mental health assistance when faced with an emotional problem. She explained that most men often struggle to open up about their emotions because of societal expectations of them, and this can subsequently lead to depression. 

She said, “Men would actually shield everything to get to the point where they can’t take it anymore and then they are admitted. So currently, we see a lot of men on admission than we see women at the hospital,” she said.

Consequently, she urged the public to pay attention to their health, saying, “Include mental health checks in your regular general medical check-ups so issues are picked up early. Walk to any facility or psychiatric hospital to see and tell the doctor or the nurses that you think you need to be assessed mentally. It’s not wrong.” 

After presenting their donation, the management of the hospital led the members who were present on a tour of the wards. 

 

Namibia Tightens Tobacco Regulations

A five-day tobacco training workshop was held by the Ministry of Health and Social Services with assistance from WHO in order to develop national tobacco control policies. Through stakeholder participation, the workshop that began on September 11, 2023 in Rundu, Kavango East, also sought to improve participants’ knowledge, abilities, and competencies. Participants came from a range of industries and government agencies, including law enforcement. The workshop was attended by numerous health partners, including members of civil society. 

In November 2005, Namibia accepted the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC). The WHO FCTC requires member states to set up a system, commit to limiting tobacco use, and encourage public understanding of the hazards associated with tobacco use.

Dr. Ester Muinjangue, Namibia’s Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, gave the inaugural address during the training workshop’s formal opening. 

Muinjangue pointed out that Namibia has a track record of tobacco control accomplishments and complies with WHO FCTC requirements. For instance, even before the Tobacco Products Control Act of 2010 was enacted into law, the Namibian government outlawed all tobacco product promotions, billboards, and commercials in electronic and print media.

Furthermore, smoking was outlawed in all government buildings in Namibia in 2005, and it is also not permitted in any hospital or other public building. Every public area is also smoke-free. In 2010, the Tobacco Products Control Act was enacted into law, and in 2014, the regulations followed. 

According to Muinjangue, these legal tools altered the landscape of tobacco control initiatives. Also, “the Government took a stance to encourage farming in other cash crops other than tobacco. The Government wishes to make tobacco consumption an expensive undertaking through annual increases in customs and excise duties and levies,” Muinjangue explained.

In addition, there are measures to ensure the control of contraband tobacco by the Namibian Customs and Excise Department and the Ministry of Health and Social Services through the country’s borders. Despite these efforts, Muinjangue feels further “intensification can be encouraged through strengthened and empowered health workforce within the Ministry of Health and Social Services supported by our development cooperation partners”.

Muinjangue reminded government officials and policymakers attending the workshop to implement suitable policies and strategies to enable market conditions for tobacco farmers, by switching them to growing food crops to curb the food crisis. She also urged green activists and public social welfare associations to collaborate in promoting efforts to stop the growing of tobacco. 

The Health Ministry’s Deputy Minister further said countries should respond to the tobacco epidemic through the full implementation of the WHO FCTC. “To achieve the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of a one-third reduction in non-communicable diseases premature mortality by 2030, tobacco control must be a priority for governments and communities worldwide,” highlighted Muinjangue. 

She further cautioned: “As it stands, the world is not on track to meeting this target”. She also urged the workshop participants to raise awareness about the dangers of tobacco. She called on the workshop participants and stakeholders to ensure that tobacco control in the country is strengthened and extensively implemented in all sectors. “Significant reduction in tobacco use will ensure declines in non-communicable diseases and promote healthier lifestyles,” stressed Muinjangue. 

The training workshops were conducted over a period of two weeks.  The first week had participants from the Zambezi, Kavango East and West, Ohangwena, Kunene, Omusati, Oshana and Oshikoto regions and the second training was from 18 September and included participants from Otjozondjupa, Khomas, Hardap, !Khomas, Omaheke and Erongo regions. 

The meetings recommended revisions  to the regulations that would strengthen enforcement and provide better protection against tobacco smoke for all.  

 

East Libya Authorities Announce Fund Creation for Reconstruction of Derna.

On Wednesday, the authorities in eastern Libya declared the foundation of a fund to rebuild Derna, a city devastated by terrible floods, as a meeting to discuss the first “projects” is scheduled for October 10th. The eastern government made the announcement in a press release, saying it had given its “approval to the creation of a fund for the reconstruction of the city of Derna and the areas affected” by the September 10th floods. 

The Eastern government also said that it would organize an “international conference” on October 10th to help with the port city’s restoration, despite the fact that this was not acknowledged internationally. The conference, it stated on Wednesday, will “open the door for international companies to present the best-suited projects for the city’s nature and terrain”, contrary to its initial invitation to the entire “international community” to take part. 

However, it did not indicate how the new fund would be financed, but Libya’s House of Representatives, also based in the east, has already allocated 10 million dinars ($2 million) for construction. The rival UN-recognized government based in the western capital, Tripoli has so far ignored these announcements and has not said whether it will send representatives.

According to the latest toll announced by the eastern authorities on Tuesday, at least 3,893 people died in the disaster. International aid groups have said 10,000 or more people may be missing. Libya has been wracked by division since a NATO-backed uprising toppled then killed veteran dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011.

Libya has been riven by divisions since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 and is governed by two rival administrations: one in the west, headed by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, and the other in the east, embodied by the Parliament and affiliated to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

Riddled by internal strife since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, Libya is governed by two rival administrations: one in the west led by Abdelhamid Dbeibah, the other in the east, embodied by Parliament and affiliated to the camp of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar.

“Institutionally”, the eastern authorities “do not exist as they are not recognized internationally”, so “it is unlikely that countries will give money to the east”, Jalel Harchaoui, Libya specialist at the British Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told AFP. 

“In all likelihood, (international) funds would have to pass through Tripoli”, he said, stressing that the Dbeibah government was seeking to take advantage of the tragedy to unlock Libya’s foreign assets and investments.

Tens of billions of dollars of these assets, managed by the sovereign wealth fund Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), had been sequestered in 2011 by the UN to prevent misappropriation. The floods, caused by storm Daniel and amplified by the bursting of two dams upstream from Derna, have claimed 3,893 lives, according to the latest provisional death toll announced on Tuesday by the government in the east.

Kenya: Mombasa to Host World Habitat Day Commemoration.

This year, the National World Habitat Day activities will take place on October 2 in the coastal city of Mombasa, Kenya. Every year on the first Monday in October, World Habitat Day is observed both internationally and locally and this year’s celebration is tagged; Resilient Urban Economies. Cities as Drivers of Growth and Recovery”. 

As the second-largest city in Kenya and a key hub for international trade in east and central Africa, Mombasa fits with the topic of resilient urban economies, according to Kenya’s UN-Habitat Permanent Representative Jean W Kimani. “Mombasa’s rich history as a melting pot of diverse cultures along the Indian Ocean coast makes it an apt host for this year’s events,” Kimani said. 

According to Kimani, the celebration in Mombasa will demonstrate Kenya’s dedication to improving sustainable urbanization and putting the New Urban Agenda into practice.

She pointed out that in order to fulfill the demands of Mombasa’s expanding population, both the national and county governments have invested significantly in renovating the city, upgrading the infrastructure, and supplying basic services.

The government’s efforts to enhance the land tenure system and establish programs for affordable housing to ease the housing shortage, according to the Permanent Representative, have benefited Mombasa.

“The Kenya Permanent Mission to UN-Habitat is dedicated to collaborating with other stakeholders to promote inclusive multilateralism in addressing urbanization challenges and harnessing the potential of cities as engines of economic development,” she said. 

During this year’s celebrations, Kenya will spotlight its efforts to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly goal 11 on sustainable cities and communities, at the local level.

Kimani said UN-Habitat looks forward to galvanizing global collaboration and partnerships to address the sustainable urbanization challenges in the rapidly urbanizing world.

“It is with great pleasure that we join in celebrating World Habitat Day, which is marked on the first Monday of October every year as per the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 40/2020A of December 17, 1985,” she said. 

This year, the global celebrations will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. This day also marks the beginning of urban October, a month dedicated to promoting a better urban future.

Kimani said Kenya, as the headquarters of UN-Habitat and other UN offices, is a center for global discourse on sustainable urbanization and human settlements.

She said this year’s celebration of World Habitat Day holds particular significance as it has been held four months since Kenya hosted the Second Session of the UN-Habitat Assembly in June, during which more than 10 resolutions addressing various sustainable urbanization and human settlements issues were adopted.

South Sudan Makes Effort to Replace Currency.

The transitional parliament in South Sudan has passed a bill that would replace the current currency, the South Sudanese Pound with a new currency to be called the South Sudan Pound. The bill, known as Banking and Other Financial Institutions Bill 2023 was passed on Monday and presented by the chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Finance and Economic Planning, Changkuoth Bichiok Reth.

 

According to Changkuoth, the change is necessary to assert South Sudan’s sovereignty and to create a currency that is unique to the country. He said, “In all countries, the money belongs to the country and is named after the country which people belong to, so the money should be called the South Sudan Pound”. 

 

On the point that Changkuoth made, the Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Addis Ababa Othwo agreed with him, saying the change is in line with international best practices. “The practice in the region when it comes to currency is to name the currency after the country,” he remarked. He further noted, “In Kenya, they call it Kenya Shillings and in Uganda, they call it Uganda Shillings that is why we are changing it from South Sudanese Pounds to South Sudan Pounds.”

 

Some MPs, however, opposed the modification, saying it was unnecessary and might cause confusion. Although, Charles Majak, a representative for Warrap State in the parliament and a member of the ruling SPLM was not in agreement with the notion as he said the currency belongs to the people, not the nation, 

 

“When this bill was brought for the second reading I objected to the amendment of the South Sudanese Pound to the South Sudan Pound and I said this word Sudanese is used for possession because money is a medium of exchange otherwise, we have what we call barter trade,” he said.

 

“It is the people who possess those resources in the form of money. Why would you delete Sudanese and put Sudan? South Sudan does not own the resources, it is the people who own the resources, and they are living within the international border in a place called South Sudan,” he added.

 

The Bank of South Sudan has not yet announced a timeline for the introduction of the new currency, but despite the objections, the bill is anticipated to pass through Parliament and become law in the coming weeks. The change in currency comes as South Sudan is dealing with a number of economic difficulties, including high inflation, a shortage of foreign currency, and widespread corruption. 

 

The country is also attempting to recover from a deadly civil war that caused millions of people to flee their homes. However, some analysts have cautioned that the adoption of a new currency could further destabilize the economy and raise prices, while others contend that the shift is required to reestablish public confidence in the government and lay the groundwork for economic revival.

Kenya to Begin Construction of First Nuclear Power Plant.

Kenya has announced the commencement of its first nuclear power plant in 2027 as the country seeks to enhance its energy generation in the midst of rising demand and push for zero-carbon energy. 

In an interview, the acting CEO of the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA), Justus Wabuyabo said the agency has advanced plans to float international tenders for the construction of the plant either in Kilifi or Kwale counties of Kenya.

In fact, he further revealed that a tender has been floated which gained the approval of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in 2021 for Kenya to go ahead with setting up the infrastructure for the plants. 

According to Wabuyabo, the bidding stage will begin between 2026 and 2027 while construction will commence in 2027. He noted that “construction ranges from six to ten years so we are looking at 2034 to 2035 to commission the first plant”.

“We are now focusing on Kilifi and Kwale as our ideal sites. They have met most of the criteria but before we determine the final site, we have to do a detailed scientific study as provided for by IAEA like seismic tests,” he remarked.

Plans to construct the nuclear power plant have been in the works since 2009 despite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) giving its approval in 2021 for the country to begin setting up the plant, with initial construction expected to start in 2024.

The goal of Kenya to build a nuclear power station is motivated by the anticipated rise in electricity demand as the nation strives to become a middle-income economy by 2030. If everything goes as planned, the plant which is expected to have a capacity of 1,000 (MW) will be pivotal to helping boost the electricity supply to the economy and help reduce reliance on dirty thermal plants.

As of May, geothermal energy made up the largest portion of the electricity produced, contributing 45.21 percent, followed by hydropower (21.05 percent), wind (16.08 percent), and solar energy (3.92 percent).

But in addition to the pricey nuclear facility, Kenya will also need to update its electrical transmission system in order to supply nuclear power plants with dependable and off-site power.

The current power grid will need to be significantly improved, according to joint research by the NuPEA and SGS consortium, because of the strict safety requirements placed on nuclear facilities and the magnitude of such installations.  

Only South Africa in all of Africa has a commercial nuclear power station, which produces 5% of the nation’s electricity. 47 percent of the electricity produced in the US is nuclear. Over the years, Kenya has increased its attempts to realize its nuclear energy ambition and has sent hundreds of students abroad to nuclear-using developed economies to improve their skill sets and make sure that the nation does not entirely import the workforce.

The construction of the power station is in line with the country’s plan of embracing cleaner fuels for electricity and it is costed at Ksh500 billion to Ksh600 billion.

 

KVM to Manufacture Roam’s Electric Buses for Matatu Industry.

The first totally electric shuttle bus, known as Roam Move, will be built by Thika-based Kenya Vehicle Manufacturers (KVM) as the transportation company looks to take advantage of tax breaks.

A variety of tax benefits are available to those who assemble electric vehicles in the nation, including zero percent excise duty, ten percent import charge, and zero-rated value-added tax (VAT).

The Roam bus has a 170 kilowatts per hour (kWh) battery pack and a 51-passenger capacity.

“Assembled entirely in Kenya, the bus exemplifies Roam’s commitment to supporting local manufacturing while advancing the nation’s sustainability goals,” said Roam in a statement.

“We are thrilled to introduce ‘The Roam Move,’ Kenya’s very own electric shuttle bus. This achievement aligns perfectly with our vision of fostering sustainable transportation solutions that positively impact our environment and our communities,” said Dennis Wakaba, Roam’s country sales executive.

The National Treasury owns a 35 percent investment in KVM, along with CMC (32,5%), and DT Dobie (32,5%).

It combines several automobile brands, including those from CFAO Motors (Volkswagen) and Urysia (Peugeot).

The one-and-a-half-hour fare for the 13.5-tonne shuttle bus. The matatu (public service vehicle) market is its target market. The business also builds motorcycles and the Roam Rapid mass transport vehicle.

In Nairobi’s Mombasa Road, the Swedish-Kenyan electric vehicle manufacturer Roam opened a facility where it plans to eventually assemble up to 50,000 motorcycles annually.

BasiGo, a rival of Roam, collaborated with Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA) to have its buses assembled in Mombasa.

 

Christopher Olusa Attempts to Break GWR for Longest Speech.

On Thursday, a 24-year-old Federal University Of Technology Akure (FUTA) Alumnus, Christopher Olusa, announced his determination to break the already existing Guinness World Record (GWR) for the Longest Speech Marathon by an individual.

Olusa mentioned that he had obtained approval from Guinness World Records and divulged that he was set to break Ananta Ram’s Guinness World Record for the longest speech marathon of 90 hours and two minutes.

Ananta Ram, a Nepali, is the current record holder after achieving the longest speech marathon of 90 hours and two minutes in Kathmandu, Nepal, from August 27 to 31, 2018.

Speaking with journalists in Akure, the Ondo State capital, the young graduate said he was attempting to set aside the existing record with a 120-hour (five days) word-to-word speech.

Oluta, who is currently a FUTA Postgraduate student, said: “The genesis of this remarkable endeavor was borne from an unwavering commitment to inspire positive change in society.

“I had sought and got the approval from GWR and the event is scheduled for 11- 15 September 2023 in Akure the Ondo state capital. Dejavu Hotel, Akure has been chosen as the venue for the momentous occasion and it will kick off on the 11th of September, 2023.”

Olusa further explained that the upcoming Speech Marathon is an event that embodies the very essence of transformation and inspiration.

“I am Christopher Olusa, and I stand before you today as a young Nigerian with an unwavering passion for change. As a proud alumnus of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, I have consistently strived to make a positive impact on society, as the owner of the #TalkWithTheDuke platform which has been a platform for advocacy, engagement, and innovation.

“My journey has been one marked by dedication to the cause of change and the relentless pursuit of knowledge. It is with this same spirit that I bring you today’s announcement regarding the upcoming Speech Marathon, an event that embodies the very essence of transformation and inspiration.

“The genesis of this remarkable endeavor was borne from an unwavering commitment to inspire positive change in our society. It is about transcending boundaries, shattering limits, and aspiring towards something extraordinary.

“I am overjoyed to announce that our unwavering dedication has borne fruit, as Guinness World Records has granted us their esteemed approval for what promises to be an unprecedented feat.

“Our Speech Marathon is not just another event; it is a testament to human determination and the unyielding power of words. Our Speech Marathon is not just another event, it is a testament to human determination and the unyielding power of words. Over five days, we will embark on a journey of enlightenment, as I read speeches from inspirational figures spanning the annals of history.

“From past and present world leaders to influential individuals who have left an indelible mark on our world, I will draw wisdom and inspiration from their words. It is about transcending boundaries, shattering limits, and aspiring towards something extraordinary.

“I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to our partners and sponsors who have already lent their invaluable support to this noble cause. Your faith in our mission has been instrumental in bringing us to this point, and I humbly request your continued support as we set out to make history.

“My commitment to this endeavor extends beyond words. I am in the peak of physical fitness and mental readiness to undertake this monumental challenge,” Olusa stated.

He also mentioned that all funds raised during the marathon will be dedicated to the noble cause of training children with aphasia, a brain disorder that affects speech and comprehension.

“This initiative will be conducted under the banner of the #TalkWithTheDuke Foundation, reflecting our commitment to making a meaningful impact on those in need,” he stated.

 

Kenya Enters into Three Green Investment Trade Deals.

With the intention of reinventing food security and air travel, Kenya has signed three agreements with Sweden, South Africa, and Hong Kong that promote environmentally friendly commerce and investment. This occurred at a side event for the Nairobi, Kenya, climate summit in 2023.

As part of the agreement with the Swedish company Cool Go Green, food preservation will be powered by sunshine in an effort to cut down on food waste and post-harvest losses. In the next five years, the company plans to invest $200 million (Sh28.9 billion) in the establishment of 40,000 cooling units around the nation.

According to Peter Korner, the company’s founder, the agreement will aim to give farmers and Kenyans in general the tools they need to use solar-powered cold storage containers to preserve food for a longer shelf life. Due to the high expense of both purchasing and maintaining preservation equipment, it is estimated that up to 40% of food in Kenya is lost after harvest. 

“A significant number of farmers in Africa do not have access to reliable electricity and storage facilities. In addition, our technology sustains optimal cold storage conditions for up to seven days without external power sources,” Korner said.

Agri All Africa, a South African company, plans to invest $102 million (Sh14.7 billion) in climate-smart rice irrigation on 31,000 hectares of land in the Tana Delta. This is anticipated to assist Kenya in producing roughly 560,000 metric tons of rice annually and enable the country to avoid spending $690 million (Sh99.95 billion) on the importation of the crop.

Priscilla Motlhako, the company’s director, claims that this has resulted in more than 37,500 jobs and 175,000 carbon credits.

The government also reached an agreement with the taxi-hailing service Volar Air Mobility to launch the world’s first air taxi ride-hailing facility, providing a way to fly without polluting the atmosphere.

Volar Air provides a variety of services, including air taxis, flight schools, precise mapping, agricultural spraying, logistics, air ambulance, and humanitarian activities. Through the agreement, Kenya becomes the first nation in Africa where Volar Air Mobility will launch operations aimed at tourists who care about the environment. 

The improvements, according to Trade CS Moses Kuria, would also improve air travel conditions and generate more than 40,000 employment, reducing the nation’s reliance on food imports. 

According to Investment Promotion PS Abubakar Hassan, the innovations in the agriculture sector are in line with the government’s target to reduce food imports. “In Africa, about $48 billion (Sh6.9 trillion) worth of food is wasted annually. This contributes to the huge budgets the continent spends on food imports,” he said.

 

Katara Opens ‘Sudan, Land of Colors’ Exhibition.

The Katara Cultural Village Foundation in Doha, Qatar has announced the opening of an exhibition titled “Sudan, Land of Colors” by Sudanese artist, Nour El Hadi.

The 47 paintings at the exhibition, which runs through September 17, according to the artist Nour El Hadi, “embody the most wonderful aspects of Sudanese culture and heritage” through their vivid colors and intricate details.

           

Despite the difficulties they are currently facing, he continued, the exhibition shows how united the Sudanese people are in their hope for a better future and our interconnectedness as a single, interwoven thread.

Nour El Hadi stressed that his works of art convey his yearning for Sudan, with its rich cultural and physical diversity. Because he thinks that strong women create strong nations, he noticed that most of his paintings feature women.

According to the artist, the vivid and varied colors he utilized to create his works of art represent the substantial diversity of Sudan’s features, from north to south and from east to west, in terms of diversity, dialects, and civilizations.

Notably, Nour El Hadi has taken part in a number of group exhibitions and is a member of the Qatar Fine Arts Association. He has also contributed to Katara’s mural initiative.

Along with ambassadors, representatives from diplomatic missions, a group of artists, and fans, the opening was attended by HE Ahmed Abdel Rahman Mohamed Hassan Siwar Al Dahab, ambassador of the Republic of Sudan to the State of Qatar, and Dr. Khalid Ibrahim Al Sulaiti, general manager of Katara. 

Also known as Katara, Katara Cultural Village was soft-launched in October 2010 at the Doha Tribeca Film Festival. It is a cultural and commercial complex in Doha that is located on the eastern coast between West Bay and the Pearl.

Rwanda Celebrates 19th ‘Kwita Izina’, Attracts World’s Prominent People.

The 19th Gorilla Naming Ceremony, locally known as Kwita Izina took place on Friday in Kinigi, northern Rwanda. The event is not just a name but an homage to Rwandan culture, signifying respect and importance. Kwita Izina salutes conservation heroes, pays tribute to nearby communities, and appreciates nature.

The yearly Gorilla Naming Ceremony highlights Rwanda’s conservation efforts and its sustainable approach to gorilla tourism, both of which have contributed to the survival of the gorilla population and the communities that live among them. 10% of the money made from wildlife tourism is put back into the neighborhood. 

The celebration of the nation’s success in safeguarding the critically endangered mountain gorilla species is in its 19th year and brought together celebrities, philanthropists, and diplomats.

The star-studded line-up to name baby gorillas at the foothills of the Volcanoes National Park includes British Actor – Idris Elba and his wife Sabrina Dhowere Elba, who is a model, activist and UN Goodwill Ambassador for Ifad, Nigerian-French Singer -Songwriter Bukola Elemidie, (aka Asa), American comedian and actor Kevin Hart.  

The list also includes foreign government officials, business leaders as well and creative artists including the UK’s Minister for Africa Andrew Mitchell, Ambassador Hazza Alqahtani, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Rwanda, Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General, United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO),  Audrey Azoulay, Director General of United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Prof Ozlem Tureci, Chief Medical Officer, BioNtech SE and Dr Sierk Poetting, Chief Operating Officer BioNtech SE among others.

The duo, Prof. Ozlem Tureci, and Dr. Sierk Poetting named a gorilla, ‘Intiganda’. “The name captures the essence of someone who has the courage to face challenges and pursue ambitious goals while maintaining a sense of humility and selflessness”.

The ceremony saw the naming of 23 newborn mountain gorillas born in the previous 12 months, bringing the total number of baby gorillas named since the naming ceremony’s start in 2005 to 374. The baby gorillas are members of the Agashya, Muhoza, Mutobo, Hirwa, Pablo, Ntambara, Dushishoze, Segasira, Isimbi, Musirikari, Kwitonda, Igisha and Sabyinyo families.

At Kwita Izina, everyone was in a good mood. As they enjoyed enthralling performances by our very own gifted artists, the audience was humming with excitement. It celebrates how community, culture, wildlife, and conservation efforts can come together for a good cause.

 

Zimbabwean Film Curator Reappointed as AMAA President Jury.

Keith Shiri, a Zimbabwean-born international film curator and programme advisor currently residing in the UK, has been reappointed by the Board of the Africa Film Academy (AFA), the organisation behind the Africa Movie Academy Awards, also known as AMAA, as President of the Jury for the 19th edition of the top and most prestigious film award in Africa.

 

The 12-person board of international jurors for the prizes in 2022 was presided over by Shiri, a consultant to various international film festivals.

 

The well-traveled and well-known film programmer is anticipated to again serve as the AMAA Jury’s leader in selecting nominations and ultimate winners in the 26 categories of the 2023 AMAAs, which are set to take place in Lagos in October.

 

Filmmaker John Akomfrah, filmmaker Berni Goldblat, ambassador and former minister of culture for Burkina Faso Phillipe Savadego, and international film curator and programmer for the Berlin International Film Festival Dorothee Wenner are all members of the AMAA jury. Others include Dr. Shaibu Husseini, the executive director of the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) in Los Angeles, Charles Brunnet, an award-winning filmmaker, and Hon. Steve Ayorinde, a journalist, author, and former commissioner of culture in the state of Lagos. Asentewa Olatunji, Professor Hyginus Ekwuazi, who served as the former managing director of the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC), and Ayoku Babu are co-founders of PAFF.

 


“We are very excited to welcome Keith Shiri back as President of Jury for 2023. AMAA has a tradition where Jurors have an opportunity to preside over the jury for two editions running. Recall that Hon. Steve Ayorinde was jury President for 2020 and 2021 edition. So we are sustaining that tradition by further extending the tenure of Keith Shiri who is a founding juror at the AMAA and a promoter of African art and film as the president of the AMAA 2023 Jury,” said Raymond Anyiam-Osigwe, on behalf of the Africa Film Academy.

He also said “Keith’s experience and vast knowledge of African Films which has spanned over 3 decades coupled with his expertise which has seen him serve in different international organizations made him a great fit for this position. We look forward to continuing our strong ties with the board of jurors at the academy under his leadership as President of the Jury.”

In response to the news of his reappointment, Shiri, who is currently curating the Icons of the Africa Centre Series for the illustrious London-based cultural institution, thanked the AFA board for the honour but expressed sadness that he will be presiding over a jury in the first edition without the founder and CEO Peace Anyiam-Osigwe. Said Shiri ‘ I don’t know what to say but of course it is rather sad to preside over this first edition without our CEO, founder and sister Peace Ogechi Marie Anyiam-Osigwe. But we have an award to deliver and deliver we must”.

Shiri was a member of the Berlinale World Cinema Fund from 2004 to 2007 and a trainer for Esodoc/EU (European Social Documentary), a programme for documentary filmmakers. Shiri is currently a consultant on film business development for the International Trade Centre (ITC), an agency of the United Nations that is currently implementing an initiative to promote film exports from the Caribbean to the UK and European markets. He has served on the advisory board of the Focus Features Africa First scheme in New York, which assisted budding African filmmakers through its mentorship scheme, and as an expert advisor for the EU-ACP programme for the ACP cinema.

For this year’s award, there were over 368 submissions.

However, the selection committee, led by Dr. Shaibu Husseini, recommended 102 films from various genres to the AMAA jury for nominations. According to Shaibu, the Nominations will be revealed on September 20.

Tanzanian Plans to Market Fashion as New Tourism Draw.

The Tanzanian government plans to give more push to fashion as a tourism product with great potential. This will be a component of efforts to diversify the nation’s current abundance of wildlife-centric tourist attractions.“We want to see cultural tourism climbing higher. It can turn around our tourism,” said the deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mary Masanja.

When the Tourism Deputy Minister attended the Maasai Fashion Night at the Gran Melia Arusha, she noted the vibrant Maasai traditional fashion as something that ought to be conserved and promoted for both the benefit of future generations and tourists.

Ms. Masanja, who was dressed as a Maasai woman and joined in the traditional dance, was certain about the importance of promoting cultural tourism.“The government will fully support such initiatives. We should position cultural tourism as top of our priorities,” she explained.

The Maasai Festival, which will take place in Arusha in October of this year, is preceded by the Maasai Fashion Night, which drew large numbers of members of the ethnic community dressed in elaborate garb.

The Festival will be put on by Wonderland Travel, a Dar es Salaam-based company whose CEO and founder Saidi Rukemo stated: “Culture should complement wildlife in Tanzania’s tourism scene. Today is a day to honor Maasai attire. Any of our 120 tribes should represent us the following time.

He claimed that if they are not kept or passed down from one generation to the next, Tanzanian cultural artifacts such as music, clothing, and artifacts may be lost. An exhibition of decorated Maasai cultural artifacts, including headdresses, necklaces, earrings, and ankle bracelets, took center stage at the fashion show.

The vibrant event drew supporters of the cause from as far away as Houston, Texas in the United States of America (USA). Ms. Asia Idarus Khamsin, who owns a store in the US named “Mother of Fashion Tanzania,” did not try to hide how pleased she was by “the beauty of the Maasai.” “The Maasais are rich in culture. Let us stick to our culture. Many artists here are putting on nothing else but the colorful Maasai attire,” she told The Citizen.

The Zanzibar-born Ms. Khamsin dressed out in all the typical Maasai celebration decorations, including jewelry, necklaces, earrings, headbands, and other items. Given Tanzania’s vast collection of cultural artifacts, the 64-year-old fashion designer claimed that the fashion business holds significant economic potential for the nation.

For the past 15 years, she has spent her time in the US, Tanzania’s top source market for tourists, promoting the nation’s fashion designs. She has worked in the fashion industry for nearly 40 years in total.

The director of Maasai Fashion, Mr. Lekoko Lepilal, spoke at the well-attended event and pleaded with the tourism stakeholders to support cultural trends in addition to wildlife-based tourism. He pointed out that “Cultural tourism is not confined to fashion (traditional attire) but cuisine, songs, lyrics, and artifacts.”

According to him, Tanzania won’t reach its goal of five million tourists (per year) by 2025 unless it adds some fresh products to the state’s well-known tourist attractions, adding that the promotion of Tanzania as a top tourist destination in Africa would be sparked by fashion designs and other elements of cultural tourism.

Without introducing some new items alongside the well-known tourist sites, he claimed Tanzania will not reach its goal of five million tourists (per year) by 2025.

He pointed out that the promotion of Tanzania as a top tourist destination in Africa would be sparked by fashion designs and other aspects of cultural tourism. Mr. Lepilal asserts that the fashion sector has the ability to employ fashion designers and other individuals involved in its value chain.

 

Rwanda Inks Major Deal With Bayern Munich.

Following the announcement that it had formally joined forces with Germany’s top football club, FC Bayern Munich, as a Platinum Partner, solidifying its position as the club’s Official Tourism Partner for East, Central, and Southern Africa through 2028, Rwanda has once again entered the international football scene. 

‘Visit Rwanda’ is a campaign that promotes Rwanda’s tourism offerings in foreign markets.

This collaboration, which joins Rwanda’s previous agreements with Premier League’s Arsenal and French Ligue 1 Champions Paris Saint-Germain, comes at the recommendation of President Paul Kagame that Rwanda consider new ties with big football teams.

The agreement, which will last through the summer of 2028, was praised by FC Bayern’s CEO Jan-Christian Dreesen, who said: “I am really delighted with this collaboration. Bayern can now interact with Africa actively and receive priceless experiences. This brand-new platinum alliance nicely complements our long-term goals. Through youth football initiatives, we are dedicated to promoting “Visit Rwanda” and fostering Rwanda’s sporting development. These are difficult yet necessary duties. This is FC Bayern’s next major step toward globalization because Africa is a region brimming with prospects.

This optimism was mirrored by Andreas Jung, Executive Board Member Marketing for Bayern: “I eagerly anticipate this brand-new and highly potential cooperation. We are committed to helping the Ministry of Sports of Rwanda advance young football initiatives, such as the FC Bayern young Cup. The promotion of ‘Visit Rwanda’ as a top travel destination is our aim, and we cordially welcome our new partner into our extensive business network.

The relationship with FC Bayern, according to Rwanda’s Minister of Sports Aurore Mimosa Munyangaju, would foster the growth of young football in Rwanda for both boys and girls.

“The establishment of the FC Bayern Academy, where their expert coaches will share their knowledge of the game with local coaches and players, holds immense potential for Rwandans to excel in football. This partnership provides a remarkable platform for Rwanda to strive for excellence in sports,” he said.

This substantial milestone was also welcomed by Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda milestone Board, who noted that exceptional progress has been made ever since the government of Rwanda launched the Visit Rwanda campaign five years ago.

Bayern Munich, she continued, “is yet another esteemed partner that enables us to contact millions of its global fans and encourage them to visit Rwanda. We plan to use this cooperation to promote investment and economic prospects, bring more tourists to Rwanda, and encourage everyone to fully enjoy the country, Akamanzi said. Germany is one of Rwanda’s top five source markets for tourists.

 

Egypt, Ethiopia, Sudan Resumes Dam Talk.

Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan resumed their years-long negotiations Sunday over the controversial dam Ethiopia is building on the Nile River’s main tributary, officials said.

The resumption of talks came after President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed said last month that they aim to reach within four months an agreement on the operation of the $4.6 billion Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile. The Blue Nile meets the White Nile in Sudan’s capital of Khartoum, before winding northward through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea.

Egypt fears a devastating impact if the dam is operated without taking its needs into account. It called it an existential threat. The Arab world’s most populous country relies almost entirely on the Nile to supply water for agriculture and its more than 100 million people. About 85% of the river’s flow originates from Ethiopia.

The Egyptian Irrigation Ministry announced the new round of talks in Cairo. Irrigation Minister Hani Sewilam said Egypt wants a legally binding agreement on how the giant dam is operated and filled.

Sewilam said there are many “technical and legal solutions” for the dispute, without elaborating.

Tensions have heightened between Cairo and Addis Ababa after the Ethiopian government began filling the dam’s reservoir before reaching an agreement.

Key questions remain about how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries will resolve any future disputes. Ethiopia has rejected binding arbitration at the final stage of the project.

Ethiopia says the dam is essential, arguing that most of its people lack electricity.

Sudan wants Ethiopia to coordinate and share data on the dam’s operation to avoid flooding and protect its own power-generating dams on the Blue Nile, the main tributary of the Nile. The dam is located just 10 kilometers (6 miles) from the Sudanese border.

Tunisia, Libya Launch Sub-Saharan African Trade Corridor.

A continental commercial corridor connecting Tunisia and Libya with sub-Saharan Africa has been agreed upon. At a joint ministerial gathering convened on Friday at the headquarters of the Tunisian Ministry of Trade and Export Development, the two parties made the declaration.

They emphasized the significance of rebuilding and expanding the Ras Jedir border crossing in accordance with international standards in order to serve as a commercial entrance to Africa and a means of achieving economic integration, particularly with sub-Saharan African nations, and to forge a productive partnership between Tunisia, Libya, and Africa.

Libya’s Minister of Economy and Trade Mohamed Al-Hwej and Tunisia’s Minister of Trade and Export Development Kalthoum Ben Rejeb served as the meeting’s hosts.

In order to join the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Libya emphasized its support for Tunisia.

It was resolved to establish a work group to strengthen collaboration in food and pharmaceutical security and to create a rapid response team to handle the challenges at the Ras Jedir border.

In order to integrate the economic free zone in Ras Jedir from the Libyan side with the free zone for commercial and logistical activities in Ben Guerdane, Tunisia, memorandums of agreement were signed in the fields of staging exhibitions and economic conferences.

The two nations anticipate bilateral commerce reaching $5 billion in Tunisian dinars, but this goal necessitates political and security stability in each nation. However, some watchers of the politics in the nations bordering Libya believe that the corridor idea may encounter a lot of difficulties.

 

ArcelorMittal Liberia Embarks On New Housing Project for Workers.

To accommodate its 1,040 employees in Nimba, ArcelorMittal Liberia has started construction on a new housing project at its Tokadeh Mines, consisting of 26 concrete buildings. Within the Tokadeh Mine concession region, the project is a part of the company’s Phase II Project (Operational Readiness).

The building site, which spans a total area of 117,832.277 m2 or 29.12 acres of land, is situated along the main route that connects Tokadeh junction with Yekepa.

Jozephus Coenen, the chief executive officer of ArcelorMittal Liberia, made the announcement at a recent town hall meeting with employees that was concurrently held at various divisions of the business activities in Buchanan, Grand Bassa, Green Hill Quarry in Bong, the Tokadeh mines, and Yekepa Township in Nimba.

“The well-being of our staff is a top management priority. It has always been our commitment to create the best possible and most conducive work environment for our employees. The Construction of these new housing units for our staff is also aligned with our strategic business objective, especially in the context of the Phase II Expansion project. The size of our workforce is seeing a significant increase, hence the need for us to expand and improve our facilities to accommodate them.”

Additionally, CEO Coenen stated that employees who will live in Tokadeh’s new housing units would continue to get housing allowances in order to build homes for themselves and their families.

Winnerford Prout Richards, Phase II Project Infrastructure Area Manager for ArcelorMittal Liberia, described the scale of the Tokadeh housing project and stated that it will be constructed in two stages.

A canteen, a gym, a laundry building, a recreation center, one facility management office, a mini clinic, a fence, three security booths, and all other civil infrastructure, such as roads, drainages, water, and power supply systems, will be built during the first phase, according to Richards, which begins soon.

520 more staff housing units will be built during the second phase, which is anticipated to start in early 2025, bringing the total number of housing units to 1,040, he said.

The site clearing prior to the start of the real construction works is underway, according to Richards, who is in charge of housing and accommodations for AML’s Phase II project. Other preconstruction tasks for the site’s preparation are now being completed, and plans have been authorized.

“We’ve done the concept, we’ve done the site layout, and everything. So, we’re about to start clearing the site,” he said. “We’re hoping that we can commence the site clearing around early October.”

He commended AML’s management for making an effort to offer more and better housing options for staff members from Liberia, particularly in concrete buildings.

He claims that the initiative will help revitalize Zolowee and other adjacent areas in addition to Tokadeh, where the housing units will be built, by giving residents of the area jobs. Therefore, the initiative will alter the area’s appearance from what was intended and will result in greater local empowerment.

As part of its Phase II development, ArcelorMittal Liberia has been renovating and building residences in the Yekepa and Buchanan concession regions in addition to the Tokadeh Units.

The housing and social infrastructure in the ArcelorMittal Liberia concession regions has significantly improved, one example being the completion and restoration of the Buchanan Clubhouse for the company’s employees and guests. A gym, a tennis court, a bar, a gift shop, a nightclub, a basketball court, a volleyball court, a unisex salon, a leisure hall, dance studios, as well as a restaurant and snack bar are among the amenities available at the renovated multi-sport court and clubhouse.

 

Eswatini Launches HPV Vaccination Campaign, Protects Tens of Thousands of Schoolgirls.

In June, Eswatini launched its first-ever Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccination campaign by Her Royal Highness Inkhosikati IaMatsebula, and a total of 46,674 schoolgirls were reached by 84 teams of nurses that visited schools across the country.

The incidence of HPV in Eswatini is fuelled by high HIV rates, driving up cervical cancer case numbers and deaths. The HPV vaccine can prevent most cases of cervical cancer if it is administered before girls or women are exposed to the virus.

World Health Organization (WHO) supported the first-ever HPV vaccination campaign by developing the vaccine introduction plan, micro-planning, health worker guidelines, and monitoring tools, including a readiness assessment for HPV vaccine introduction, and supportive supervision.

Her Royal Highness IaMatsebula says “Vaccinating our girls, in line with the WHO recommendation, will help us to prevent HPV infection, and thus reduce the incidence of cancer among our people”. 

Every year, the country records about 360 new cervical cancer cases, with almost one in every three patients dying as a result. Now more than 200 women are living with cervical cancer in the country, with more than 700 cancer-related death recorded in the past five years.

Vaccinator, Sandizsile Mamba says I am so grateful as a health worker to be able to give these children protection against cervical cancer because our country is seeing a growing number of women with the disease”.

Human Papillomavirus vaccines are both safe and highly effective in preventing HPV types 16 and 18 which are together responsible for about 70% of all cervical cancer cases globally. The vaccines are also highly efficacious in preventing precancerous cervical lesions caused by these virus types.

 The campaign was well-received by parents and teachers as well, through the commitment of Risk Communication and Community mobilization teams comprising staff from WHO, the health promotion unit, and other partners. Sensitization activities were conducted across various media, including radio, print, and social media with parents eager to learn more.

Nurses briefed the students about the vaccine and its benefits, teaching them that the vaccine prevents HPV, and so reduces the likelihood of contracting cervical cancer later in the future.

Teacher Juliana Takaruva says: “This is a real benefit for our learners, and we hope that the health education they received will also advance a broader understanding of the dangers of not vaccinating. We will continue preaching the message that prevention is better than cure.”

Vaccinator Sandzisile Mamba says WHO and the Eswatini Ministry of Health provided comprehensive training for over 400 health workers ahead of the campaign. Although she knew about HPV, she says that she was not well versed in the preventative vaccine.

“I am so grateful, as a health worker, to be able to give children protection against cervical cancer because our country is seeing a growing number of women with the disease. It’s so important to protect these children against HPV,” she says.

Kenya-South Sudan Joint Infrastructure to Boost Regional Trade

Kenya is committed to strengthening bilateral relations with South Sudan for the mutual benefit of the citizens of the two nations.

 

President William Ruto said the two countries are pursuing joint infrastructure projects to enhance regional integration and boost trade.

Kenya, he added, is keen on implementing the infrastructural projects under the Lamu Port-South Sudan-Ethiopia-Transport Corridor project (LAPSSET).

This, he explained, will enhance connectivity, further integration and boost intra-regional trade for shared prosperity.

“This is instrumental in supporting bilateral trade,” he said.

President Ruto made the remarks at State House, Nairobi, on Saturday where he held talks with the President of South Sudan Salva Kiir.

The two leaders signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the establishment of a fiber optic cable along the Eldoret-Juba road.

They also agreed to complete the construction of the 11km Nadapal to Nakodok road to boost business between the two nations.

President Ruto said Kenya and South Sudan have also agreed to exploit the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement to increase trade between the two nations.

“President Kiir and I had the opportunity to share ideas about collaborating to seize emerging opportunities to improve the trade balance between our two nations,” he said.

President Kiir committed to hastening the implementation of the agreements to unlock the economic and social benefits of increased trade.

The two leaders also discussed peace and security in Africa and the conflict in Sudan.

President Kiir pledged to support efforts to de-escalate armed engagements and restore peace in Sudan.

President Ruto lauded the decision by the Government of South Sudan to open its borders to provide asylum, safe passage and protection to people fleeing the conflict in Sudan.

Wizkid Makes History With Sold-out London Show.

Owing to the can-do attitude of Afrobeat artists, Afrobeats continues to reach new highs and skyrocket in popularity around the world as the artists continue to make history with so many firsts. According to the statement the organizers gave earlier this year, in 2024, the Grammy Awards will also feature a new category; Best African Music Performance, which “recognizes recordings that utilize unique local expressions from across the African continent.

A feat that has recently been attained in the history of performances by some of the biggest stars this year is Wizkid’s most recent show. This history of performances includes Burna Boy’s feat becoming the first African artist to headline a sold-out stadium show (London Stadium) in the UK in June, and then a US stadium (Citi Field in New York) in July.

Along with Tems and Rema, Burna Boy also brought Afrobeats to center stage at the NBA All-Star Game halftime show in February.

Later this year, Tiwa Savage – often called the “Queen of Afrobeats” – is slated to become the first female artist from the popular genre to headline at OVO Arena Wembley in the UK, with a scheduled performance on November 26.

 

 In another series of firsts for the musical genre, one of its biggest stars, the Nigerian artist WizKid, had a sold-out performance in London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. With 45,000 fans in attendance, the Grammy winner kicked off the European leg of his “More Love, Less Ego” tour. He joins Beyoncé and The Red Hot Chili Peppers as the only other musical acts to perform at the stadium so far this year. After the show, he also became the first African artist to receive the BRIT Billion award for reaching 1 billion music streams in the UK. 

Oyo, Brazil to Collaborate for Black Heritage Day.

In 1500, Pedro Alvares Cabral on his way to South Africa with 1,200 Portuguese adventurers badly missed his way and arrived in Brazil. The Portuguese immediately claimed this colony and it earned a unique identity.

The colonizers realized this gem was a lucrative find so they introduced the industrial production of Brazilwood and established feitorias and engehnos for sugar production. With these recources, there was a necessity for labor to facilitate processes of exportation. This made slavery the pillar that held this colonial economic system together, even becoming more significant with the later discovery of gold in Minas Gerais and also playing a role in later political uprisings against the Portuguese.

Brazilians were able to fight their way out of colonialization and they celebrate this annually by having a Black Heritage Day.

Oba Awurela, a paternal descendant of Awe in Oyo, a custodian of culture from Brazil, said he was in the state to propagate the image of his household and further build cultural ties between Oyo State and Brazil.

He sought an alliance with the Oyo State Government in the celebration of Black Heritage Day which is also known as “Searchie November”. While talking about the existing cultural integration he said Brazil and all Diasporans in South America have an Academy that integrates religion and cultural heritage.

The Oyo State Government recently concluded arrangements with the Brazilian to jointly host the Black Heritage Day with the Brazilian Custodian of Culture, Oba Awurela, Sangokunle Alayande. 

This was divulged by the Commissioner for Culture and Tourism, Dr. Wasiu Olatunbosun while receiving Oba Awurela in his office. He appreciated the delegation for the visit and the hand of fellowship extended to Oyo state and noted that the Oyo state government was ready to parley with Brazil on the promotion of culture and tourism.

Oba Awurela plans to expand the frontiers of tourism in Oyo State using culture as a tool, which will in turn boost revenue in the State. This plan was received with open arms as Olatunbosun applauded it. Oba Awurela spoke on the plan to create the Oyo Empire in Brazil, which will be known as ‘Oyotedo’.

The Commissioner further shed light on the mapped-out strategies to drive tourism in the state, through cultural heritage. He also acknowledged that to harness the state’s tourism potential, there’ll be a need for investments so he called for further international investments and cooperation.

Tanzania Ranks No.7 on 2023 Most Powerful Passports List.

In the most recent 2023 Henley Passport Index, the Tanzanian passport made a huge jump of seven ranks, rising to the 69th position among the most powerful passports in the world. This is a significant rise from its prior position of 76th in 2022.

According to the most recent statistics, people with Tanzanian passports can travel to 73 countries without a visa.

Singapore presently has the title of having the most powerful passport in the world, according to the Index, which is based on exclusive and official data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Out of 227 tourist destinations worldwide, Singaporeans are permitted to enter 192 without a visa.

Germany, Italy, and Spain are tied for second place with 190 visa-free locations each. Japan joins a group of six countries, including Austria, Finland, France, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Sweden, that have access to 189 countries without a visa, tied for third place.

Tanzania is placed 67th in the East African Community (EAC), just behind Kenya, and has visa-free access to 77 nations. The 68th-ranked passport belongs to neighboring Malawi, whose citizens can visit 75 countries without a visa.

South Africa, which ranks 51st globally and has visa-free entry to 106 countries, has the strongest passport on the African continent. In the second position, Botswana, which offers visa-free travel to 89 countries, is followed by Namibia, which is ranked 62nd and offers visa-free travel to 81 nations.

Eswatini is in position 66 and offers visa-free travel to 77 countries, while Lesotho is in position 64 and offers visa-free travel to 79 nations.

According to Dr. Juerg Steffen, the chief executive of Henley & Partners and the man behind the passport index concept, states with hospitable, open-door visa policies could aid in establishing relationships with other countries to reap economic rewards.

“Visa policy is a significant lever that governments can use to positively impact and improve their passport’s power, making it even more attractive for foreign investors seeking citizenship or residence through investment opportunities,” the official added.

For entrepreneurs and businesspeople, increasing their economic mobility by gaining visa-free access to important markets and countries that account for a larger share of the global GDP gives them a route to lucrative jurisdictions.

It also enables companies to form beneficial alliances with industry titans, grow their own network of investors, and assist manage country- or region-specific risks, according to Dr. Steffen, who was quoted in part. With these most recent changes, Tanzania is proud of its enhanced passport standing, which could increase its worldwide reach and appeal to both foreign investors and tourists.

Uganda Wildlife Reveals Intent to Reintroduce Chimps into Wild.

The Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) has stated that chimpanzees will be allowed back into the wild. In place of Ms. Lilly Ajarova, CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board, Mr. Stephen Masaba, Director for Tourism and Business Development at UWA, made this declaration at Friday’s World Chimpanzee Day celebrations on Ngamba Island.

“The conservation world has a number of challenges, including limited space, and as the animal population grows, the animals require more space yet we cannot expand the island. We bring those that have been recovered from difficult and challenging times here for rehabilitation, we look after them and in future, we shall relocate them to the protected areas which are their natural habitat,” he said.

He cautioned that moving chimpanzees to protected regions like Budongo, Kibale National Park, and Queen Elizabeth National Park requires a delicate approach because they are territorial and family-oriented.

“Uganda has a population of more than 5000 Chimpanzees of which 10 percent live outside the natural forest, but still bring in money. We charge more than Shs 900,000 (250 dollars) per person for four hours in our game reserves to see chimpanzees. If we could all rally against activities that endanger the Chimpanzees and develop tourism businesses and activities, the country would get a lot,” Mr Masaba said.

The day aids in raising awareness of the condition of chimpanzees, according to Dr. Joshua Rukundo, Executive Director of Ngamba Island Chimpanzee Sanctuary.

“Due to the threats faced by the Chimpanzees, because they are special, we join the rest of the world to celebrate this day to highlight the amazing nature of these beings. The situation in Uganda was dire for Chimpanzees, which were continuously threatened by habitat loss, wildlife trafficking, and illegal hunting and diseases,” he said.

“Chimps share 98 percent DNA with human beings, so celebrating them is an opportunity to raise awareness about the vital need for worldwide participation in their care, protection, and conservation in the wild and in captivity,’’ Mr Rukundo added.

53 orphaned chimpanzees call Koome Island in the Mukono district of Ngamba home. Next month, Ngamba will commemorate 25 years of existence. On Chimp Day, the Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary opened its doors to local community members and environmentalists.

 

Egyptian Actor to Receive Award for Excellence.

At the 45th Cairo International Film Festival (CIFF), which will take place from November 15–24 at the Cairo Opera House, the acclaimed actor Ahmed Ezz will receive the Faten Hamama Award for Excellence.

 

At the 2023 edition, Egyptian actor Ahmed Ezz will receive the Faten Hamama Award for Excellence from the Cairo International Film Festival.

 

Ezz, 51, was chosen “in appreciation of what he presented throughout his artistic career that began at the end of the nineties,” according to a statement released by the CIFF on Sunday.

 

“We are interested in encouraging artists who have presented a lot to Egyptian cinema,” commented the CIFF President Hussein Fahmy adding, “we are so glad of this honouring ceremony to come, and we surely wish him success in what comes next.”

 

The CIFF Director Amir Ramses described Ezz as “an artist who ventured a lot, presenting different genres of films than those that used to top the box office, especially since comedies have been at the forefront of the box office for so many years.”

 

“Ezz was able to achieve great success, beginning with his cooperation with director Sandra Nashat and his work with the great director Sherif Arafa in more than one film, as well as the great director Marwan Hamed, and I truly believe that he is a distinctive artist in his choices and deserves this award for sure,” Ramses added.

 

The actor expressed his thanks for the honor and saw it as a timely message of inspiration for his future professional decisions because he felt he still had more to contribute to the world of art.

 

“Granting me this award is a message that approached me at the right time to encourage me to build a better future and career choices,” stated Ahmed Ezz, adding, “I have not presented everything I dream of yet.”

 

After working as a model and in the hospitality sector, Ahmed Ezz began his film career in 2001 with appearances in El-Sharaf and Night Talk before making his breakthrough in the contentious Enas El Degheidy film A Teenager’s Diary. Ezz is an arts faculty graduate of Ain Shams University.

 

Ahmed Ezz’s career took off after appearing in well-known movies including Day of Dignity by Ali Abdel-Khaleq, Sana Oula Nasb by Kamla Abou Zekry, and Girls in Love by Khaled Al-Hajar. With Sandra Nashat’s 2005 film Malaky Alexandria, he became a household name at the box office.

 

On important movies like The Hostage (2006), Transit Prisoner (2008), and Al Maslaha (2012), Ezz worked alongside Sandra Nashat. Additionally, he collaborated with filmmakers Amr Arafa on The Ghost (2007) and Dream of Aziz (2012), Ahmed Alaa El-Deeb on Badal Faked (2009) and Al-Aref (2021), and Saeed El-Marouk on 365 Days of Happiness.

 

Together with Tarek El-Arian, Ezz created a fruitful musical collaboration that produced successes including Awlad Rizk (2015), Awlad Rizk 2 (2017), and The Cell (2018).

 

Ezz cemented his fame by portraying the War of Attrition heroes in Sherif Arafa’s 2019 film The Passage. With Arafa, he continued to work together in The Crime (2022).

 

With multiple box office records-breaking movies, including the most recent Kira & El-Gin (2022), directed by Marwan Hamed, Ezz has irrevocably changed the Egyptian cinema industry.

 

The CIFF occupies a significant position as the oldest and most frequent film festival in the Arab world and Africa. Additionally, it is the only festival in the Arab and African continents that has been approved by the International Federation of Producers (FIAPF) for category A status.



Zimbabwe Begins Export of Maize to Rwanda.

According to the cabinet in Zimbabwe, the country will export 10,000 tonnes of maize to Rwanda and is in discussions to export some of its wheat inventories to its neighbors.

According to the government, the Grain Marketing Board has 204 084 metric tonnes of maize. In a statement released yesterday, the government stated that the corn will be dispersed to regional millers and the export market.

“Millers and stock-feed producers will each receive a quota of 27,000 mt, SILO Foods will receive a monthly quota of 16,000 mt, and an extra 10,000 mt will be sold to Rwanda. Grain will be sufficient for 5.6 months.  This demonstrates that Zimbabwe has enough grain to last through the upcoming season, according to the cabinet.

There are 140 029 tonnes of wheat on hand, which is adequate for eight months. Wheat has been planted on 86 466 hectares, 14% more than in the previous year. This is the largest area ever planted for a crop in the nation, and it could provide a harvest greater than the record wheat crop of the previous year.

According to the government, since the nation is self-sufficient in wheat, talks with its neighbors about potential wheat exports are in progress.

However, grain millers remind that Zimbabwe still has to import some wheat since they require the grain from other nations to mix with the local cereal to produce bread with a long shelf life. Tafadzwa Musarara of the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe warns that before Zimbabwe can become self-sufficient, it may need a prolonged period of surpluses.

“You are only genuinely self-sufficient after ten years of surplus. Only then would there be sufficient resources to handle unforeseen occurrences like, say, a pandemic or a war in Ukraine, Musarara added.

According to the government, small-scale farmers who have been resettled grow 70% of the nation’s wheat. According to Graeme Murdoch, chairman of the Food Crop Contractors Association (FCCA), a group of commodity dealers and millers, over 76% of the 2023 wheat hectarage will be financed by the private sector.

Zimbabwe intends to export grain, but other nations in the area are limiting exports because they are concerned about shortages. Tanzania, the biggest producer of maize in East Africa, started limiting the export of maize to its neighbors in April. Zambia has stopped exporting goods to the DRC, a significant market for its maize.

Rwanda instituted maize meal price limits in April and fined companies that raised prices.

Mozambique’s Grand Novelist Receives Prestigious Award in Portugal.

Mozambique’s first woman to publish a novel, Paulina Chiziane has become the first African woman to receive the most prestigious award for Portuguese literature, the Camoes Prize. She is also the first author to defy all restrictions on Mozambique’s patriarchal culture and social taboos.

The Camoes Prize was first awarded in 1988 to acknowledge great literature in Portuguese and was named after the famous 16th-century Portuguese poet Luis de Camoes.

Chiziane was born in Manjacaze in 1955 and was brought up in the nation’s capital, Maputo. She practiced both Portuguese, the language that was imposed during colonial times, and Chopi, a Bantu language spoken along Mozambique’s southern coast. Chiziane is a well-known name in Portuguese literature nowadays and holds a degree in linguistics.

Paulina was proclaimed the winner of the 2021 Camoes Prize but was unable to receive the award in person because the annual event was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2023 during a ceremony in Lisbon, Paulina finally received the award in person. 

She said in an interview that the prize is for all the people of her country as she has always written from a collective experience, transmitting a collective voice.

In her speech in Lisbon, she said, I come from Africa. I am black and I am here, being the first black woman to receive this high recognition… I am black. Yes, and so what?

Chiziane’s stories often portray the social instability of a country oppressed by a war of liberation that was followed by civil conflicts after independence from Portugal in 1975. They reflect her commitment to the Frelimo liberation movement. 

She didn’t just write about oppression and liberation, she also volunteered to join the Red Cross humanitarian organization during the civil war that took place from 1977 to 1992. This enabled her to observe the suffering of her people closely. She chronicled some of the most painful memories in her second novel, the 1993 romance Ventos do Apocalipse (Winds of Apocalypse).

Paulina also joined a non-governmental organization called the Nucleus of Feminine Association of Zambezia of Nafeza founded in 1997. The organization also advocated for women at all levels. She used her literary works to fight oppression and also political actions.

Chiziane currently provides guidance on the creation of international aid initiatives devoted to conflict resolution and the preservation of women’s rights and dignity. Chiziane has consistently boosted the voices of women in her nation. Her literary career has already made history, and the Camoes Prize, which is currently being honored, is proof of the immense significance of her representation of African culture in the context of countries that speak the Portuguese language.

Dubai Investment Firms Signs Deal for Agricultural Investment in Angola.

Dubai-based companies pledges support to develop 3,750 hectares of agricultural land in Angola, harnessing the potential of the country’s agricultural sector for sustainable growth and economic development. The agreement involved Dubai Investment and E20 Investment, an agribusiness investment firm in which both companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

The company, E20 Investment centers on investing in, and operating farms and processing facilities across the world, with a particular focus on Europe, Central Asia, and Africa. The firm gathers a wealth of knowledge from different spheres of the world, highlighting international expertise in the agricultural industry. 

The agreement specializes in the development of a vast area of leased-out land in Angola. The project’s objective is to cultivate rice and avocado crops, leveraging Angola’s fertile soil and favorable weather conditions to achieve substantial yields.

Vice Chairman and CEO of Dubai Investments, Khalid Bin Kalban, stated: “Through this partnership and the area’s overall development, the Group hopes to contribute to Angola’s food security, which will help to increase the nation’s agricultural productivity while creating economic value for all stakeholders. 

He noted that “E20 Investment brings extensive experience in managing large-scale agricultural projects, ensuring the implementation of cutting-edge technologies and sustainable farming practices. Their expertise will be instrumental in maximizing the project’s efficiency, productivity, and profitability”. 

“With the ongoing construction of the Dubai Investments Park (DIP) Angola, Dubai Investments is already making investments in the Angolan market. The Group’s expertise in developing extremely successful mixed-use development parks, such as the UAE’s Dubai Investments Park concept, is amply demonstrated by this project. On a global scale and in a rich market like Africa, DIP Angola is intended to be the successor to the tested DIP concept,” continued Kalban. 

The joint venture’s goal is to develop the area into a vibrant agricultural hub over the course of 18 months, with peak production of 5,500 tonnes of avocados and 28,000 tonnes of rice.

 CEO of E20 Investment, Sultan Al Jaberi said the MoU represents a significant step towards promoting agricultural development in Angola, fostering economic diversification, and nurturing a sustainable future, as it reflects a dedication to investing in sustainable agribusiness opportunities globally.

He further stated, “By combining our expertise with Dubai Investments’ vast network and resources, we are confident in our ability to create a successful agricultural project in Angola that will contribute to the country’s economic growth and employment opportunities. Both companies are committed to executing this project with the highest standards of professionalism, environmental responsibility, and social impact.”

 

Womencall Launched to Empower Women Entrepreneurs in Tunisia.

The WIDU.africa project has just launched its new support tool for women entrepreneurs, called “Women Call,” exclusively and for the first time in Tunisia.

Despite their potential, women are often excluded from business opportunities and encounter challenges in accessing finance and support networks. The Women Call is a proactive step towards supporting women entrepreneurs who have traditionally been underrepresented in various sectors.

More specifically, the Women Call aims to strengthen the financial autonomy of women owning micro and small businesses by providing them with financial resources and 1-on-1 business coaching to boost their entrepreneurial activities and improve their management skills. It aims to foster inclusivity in economic development by prioritizing women, especially those in underrepresented sectors and marginalized communities.

This program offers women entrepreneurs the chance to receive a grant ranging from TND 4,000 to TND 16,500 and tailored one-to-one coaching.

The Redstart Tunisie business accelerator will provide three one-to-one coaching sessions through its network of coaches specializing in mentoring women entrepreneurs.

The #WomenCall is open to all sectors of activity, whatever the region in Ethiopia and Tunisia. Micro and small businesses whose activities are in sectors where women are under-represented, are located in rural areas in the country’s priority regions, have a strong potential to create value and jobs for vulnerable populations, and/or have an innovative dimension or environmental and societal impact, are strongly encouraged to participate in this Local Call. The deadline for applications for this initiative is July 31.

Several thematic events will also be organized to reinforce the entrepreneurial network of women entrepreneurs.

Co-organized by the WoMENA and WIDU.africa projects, both commissioned by German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by the German Technical Development Cooperation Agency (GIZ), the WomenCall aims to foster inclusivity in economic development by prioritizing women, especially those in underrepresented sectors and marginalized communities.

This program is among the various entrepreneurship support tools developed by WIDU.africa, a project based on a digitized approach to promoting micro and small business entrepreneurship.

This new tool is intended to bolster the efforts already underway to tackle the structural and financial challenges women entrepreneurs face as they develop their businesses.

It will help legitimize and consolidate the place of women entrepreneurs in society by giving them access to the resources they need to make their businesses prosper.

WIDU.africa and WoMENA place particular emphasis on supporting women entrepreneurs in rural areas of the country, as well as in sectors traditionally dominated by men.

This support can positively impact creating jobs and improving working conditions for women.

 

Nigerian US Congressman Sets to Return to Fatherland.

A Nigerian-born American politician and member of the Democratic Party in the U.S., Dr Oye Owolewa, will be visiting Nigeria on Monday, June 19. This is according to a statement released by the family’s spokesman, Olayinka Owolewa on Saturday.

 

Dr. Oye, the shadow representative of the United States House of Representatives for the District of Columbia will arrive at the Tunde Idiagbon International Airport, Ilorin at about 9:00am and will be received by the governor, AbdulRahaman AbdulRazaq.

According to the spokesman he  is expected to later proceed to his town, Omu-Aran, where he would be received by the Olomu of Omu-Aran, Oba Abdulraheem Adeoti and  thereafter be hosted by Omu-Aran Development Association (ODA), on Tuesday in Omu-Aran, at a time and venue that would later be communicated to invitees.

Dr. Owolewa was elected shadow representative of the United States House of Representatives for the District of Columbia, in November 2020, and was re-elected. He became the first Nigerian to be elected a US congressman. 

In early  2019, Dr. Oye participated in the historic March 2019 Lobby Day, which resulted in a majority of members of the House supporting DC Statehood for the first time in American history.

He was also involved in Annapolis where he joined efforts to stop ‘Big Money Politics’ impact on law making.

The 34-year old US Congressman holds a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Pharmacy from the North-Eastern University, Boston.

This shows that Nigerians and Africans always stand out positively wherever they find themselves.

Morocco, Israel Sign MoU to Boost Health Cooperation

Morocco and Israel have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to enhance their cooperation in the field of health.

The deal was signed between Moroccan Health Minister Khalid Ait Taleb and his Israeli counterpart Moshe Arbel, who is currently visiting the North African nation.

In a statement, the Moroccan Health Ministry said the agreement allows for the exchange of expertise and best practices in medical and technological innovation, and the fight against non-communicable diseases.

According to the statement, the two ministers discussed bilateral efforts in managing public health issues and enhancing innovation in the health field.

Ties between Morocco and Israel have improved in recent months after the two countries signed a US-sponsored agreement to normalize their relations.

Morocco was the fourth Arab country to normalize ties with Tel Aviv in 2020 after the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Sudan, in a move decried by Palestinians as a “stab in the back.”

Madagascar Receives $100m Grant for Reforms to Boost Resilient Growth.

The World Bank Group Board of Directors approved a $100 million grant for a Development Policy Operation (DPO) in Madagascar aimed at supporting reforms to unleash drivers of inclusive and resilient growth. The reforms are geared toward improving transparency and macro-fiscal stability; market competition; and corporate governance in the energy, telecommunications, and mining sectors.

For decades, Madagascar has been trapped in a low-growth, high-poverty state, essentially caused by persistent weaknesses in governance, low human and physical capital accumulation, and slow progress in economic transformation. More frequent and extreme climate events and, more recently, the COVID-19 pandemic, have worsened those challenges. Madagascar is one of the countries most severely affected by climate change impacts in the region because of high exposure to climate risks such as cyclones, droughts, floods, and rising sea levels make. 

The operation, the first in a programmatic series of three DPOs, is anchored in two mutually reinforcing pillars. The first is aimed at strengthening the governance and macro-fiscal frameworks including through climate-smart fiscal and decentralized management, and the second pillar will help enhance the enabling investment environment and deepen structural reforms in critical infrastructure sectors including mining, energy, and digital connectivity.

The World Country Manager for Madagascar, Marie-Chantal Uwanyiligira said, “To improve living standards and reduce poverty, Madagascar must increase its growth potential substantially and attract new investments in sectors susceptible to drive structural transformation. Through this program, the government took the first steps to implement overdue reforms in improving competitiveness and transparency in the mining sector, and in enabling growth sectors such as energy and digital. Sustaining these reforms over time will enable the country to escape the poverty trap.”

She added, “This operation follows the recently approved Country Partnership Program for Madagascar, whose priority interventions include the mobilization of productive investments to accelerate economic transformation.”

Aligned with our Country Partnership Framework, the DPO supports several critical reform actions recently adopted by the government. This includes keeping the authority of the national utility company, JIRAMA, on purchasing power agreements that will help shift energy production toward renewable energy while expanding private participation; lifting the suspension of mining permit movements and gold exports to allow the country to seize opportunities for growth better; and legislation to encourage competitive investments in digital infrastructure to make broadband services more affordable.

“This operation seeks to leverage transparency and macro-fiscal reforms to curb opportunities for state capture and enable inclusive service delivery and resilient growth,” said Jean-Pascal N. Nganou, Senior Economist, and Ibrahim Elghandour, Public Sector Specialist, both for the World Bank in Madagascar. “It also benefits from close collaboration and coordination with other World Bank operations and development partners, especially the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Policy measures and technical assistance provided through the DPO program — particularly in governance, macroeconomic management, and energy — complements the reforms supported by the IMF’s Extended Credit Facility program.”

 

Seychelles, Maldives pledge to enhance relations to “strategic partnership” level

Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan and First Lady Linda Ramkalawan received a ceremonial welcome in the Maldives on Monday, as part of а state visit from June 11-14 undertaken on the invitation of Maldivian President, according to a joint press statement.

The visit is the first time a Seychellois head of state undertakes a state visit to the neigbouring island nation.

“The visit is a true reflection of the shared commitment of the two countries to take their relationship to new heights, as neighbours in the Indian Ocean, sharing similar historical, socio-economic, and cultural values and bonds,” said the statement.

The two presidents held talks with the aim of increasing their bilateral relations to “a strategic partnership,” said the statement.

During the official talks, the two leaders highlighted the importance of people-to-people contacts, and the need to promote cultural exchanges and economic linkages between the two countries.

They spoke about the need to exchange experiences in the field of tourism and discussed ways to “effectively address the detrimental effects of climate change through global mechanisms, including working together to ensure that the hard-won Loss and Damage Fund is operationalised at COP28,” as small island developing states (SIDS) that form part of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS).

Among other topics of discussion were sustainable development, the Blue Economy, maritime security, fisheries, drug trafficking and the need for SIDS to continue to push for a multidimensional vulnerability index (MVI) in global financing structures.

Furthermore, “The two leaders agreed to enhance multilateral cooperation, including collaborating closely at the United Nations on issues of mutual interest such as addressing climate change, protection and promotion of human rights, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The two leaders also agreed to collaborate closely through other multilateral avenues such as IORA and the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). President Ramkalawan congratulated the Maldives on its membership to the OACPS as well as its Presidency of the 76th Session of the United Nations General Assembly for the period September 2021 to September 2022.”

Following their discussions, the two leaders witnessed the exchange of the bilateral agreements, namely the agreement on a short stay visa waiver, an air services agreement, a memorandum of understanding for youth development cooperation and a protocol for cooperation to combat transnational organised crime and other maritime and safety threats.