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Rwanda, SoftBank Inaugurate World’s First 5G Connectivity from Stratosphere

The Government of Rwanda and SoftBank announced that on September 24, 2023, they successfully tested SoftBank’s proprietary 5G communications payload in the stratosphere installed on a solar-powered High Altitude Platform Station (HAPS) unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) prototype.

The demonstration, conducted for HAPS research purposes in Rwandan airspace by SoftBank and the Government of Rwanda, marked the world’s first publicly announced delivery of 5G connectivity from a HAPS UAV in the stratosphere*1. The successful 5G connectivity demonstration follows a stratospheric flight test conducted in Rwanda in June 2023, during which the HAPS UAV prototype carried a mockup of the payload with a similar weight and dimensions.

SoftBank’s stratosphere-ready communications payload continuously delivered 5G connectivity for approximately 73 minutes in the stratosphere at a maximum altitude of 16.9km and performed as expected in demanding atmospheric conditions.

During the test, the stratosphere-ready 5G communications payload enabled a 5G-based Zoom video call between a smartphone at the test site in Rwanda and SoftBank team members in Japan. Since the radio waves transmitted and received from the 5G communications payload installed on the HAPS UAV prototype in the stratosphere operated on the same frequencies as existing smartphones and devices, a regular 5G smartphone was used in the test.

The successful stratospheric 5G communications test is a milestone achievement that originates from a Memorandum of Understanding signed in July 2020 by SoftBank’s subsidiary HAPSMobile Inc.*2 and the Ministry of ICT and Innovation of Rwanda, under which both parties pledged to conduct a Joint Research Project (JRP) that aimed to study the productive use of HAPS to provide mobile Internet connectivity in Rwanda and other solutions. More recently, SoftBank and the Government of Rwanda’s Ministry of Education signed a Partnership Agreement in June 2023 to provide educational technology (EdTech) services in Rwanda using Non-Terrestrial Network (NTN) solutions.

Building on the results of this successful stratospheric 5G connectivity demonstration, SoftBank and the Government of Rwanda will study potential HAPS use cases and commercial implementation in Rwanda, and other regions of Africa, in the JRP framework. Use cases under consideration include digitalizing schools and communities in rural communities without Internet connectivity.

 

Germany, Algeria Strengthen Energy Partnership.

The energy partnership between Germany and Algeria was recently intensified with a focused debate on the planned conversion and expansion of the natural gas corridor for hydrogen.

The debate took place at the fifth German-Algerian Energy Day in Algiers on the 23rd of October.

The hydrogen infrastructure would run from Algeria through Tunisia, Italy, and Austria, to southern Germany, following the same path as existing gas infrastructure.

The purpose of this project is to cover up to 10% of Europe’s needs for renewable hydrogen which is forecast to stand at 20 million tonnes/year by 2030 within the European Union.

Germany alone is estimated to import between 50-70% of its 95-130TWh/year hydrogen demand by 2030 and is seeking to develop multiple import avenues with several different partners.

ALGERIAN HYDROGEN AMBITIONS

Algeria has ambitions to be an exporter of renewable hydrogen in the coming years and is seeking to accelerate the country’s solar energy capacity, with a boost offered from tenders earlier this year.

Algeria’s state-owned utility Sonelgaz accepted 77 proposals for solar energy projects for 2GW of solar energy capacity in late July after 90 bids were submitted.

Data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) said that Algeria had approximately 435MW of installed solar capacity at the end of 2022, but the Algerian government has plans for 15GW of solar capacity by 2030.

The country is intending to produce 40TWh/year of hydrogen by 2040.

 

Morocco, African Development Bank Sign Financing Agreement.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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).

 

Eswatini, Malawi, Countries that Could Cut Biggest Part of their Carbon–New Study.

  • Biochar can cut more than 30% of emissions in Eswatini and over 20% in Malawi and Ghana, according to a new study.
  • African countries top the list of those who can cut the greatest proportion of their carbon by sequestrating carbon as a soil improver.
  • Biochar both improves soil health and its ability to retain water. 

African countries top the list of those who can see the best results using biochar as a way to seclude carbon, while also improving crop yields – according to a new study. 

Eswatini and Malawi are the countries that could cut the biggest part of their carbon, according to the study in the peer-reviewed journal Biochar, commissioned by the International Biochar Initiative (IBI).

It suggests that African countries can reduce their emissions while supporting farmers on a continent experiencing the worst impact of climate change.

“For example, cocoa farmers in Ghana reported increased average yields of 30% after using biochar, a substantial figure in a country where deforestation has wreaked havoc on soil quality,” the report said.

Biochar is created by heating crop or wood residue instead of letting it decompose, locking in the carbon. When added to soil, biochar helps with water and nutrient retention, with results that can be noticeable over centuries. 

In total, the study says, up to 6% of global annual carbon emissions can be reduced via biochar. But in some African countries, the percentage of their total emissions is far higher than in developed countries. 

The study comes just over two months before the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28), to be held at Expo City in Dubai, where answers to Africa’s climate change crisis will be hotly sought. 

African countries are the lowest-emitting countries, but the hardest hit by climate change.

As such, the authors of the report argue that biochar research in these countries is imperative.

Biochar can remove more than 30% of Eswatini’s emissions, more than 20% in Malawi and Ghana, and at least 10% in Burundi, Rwanda, Mali, Senegal, Togo, and Uganda, according to the report.

“As the global community approaches COP28, this research presents an urgent call to action for world leaders to ensure this powerful solution is in every country’s climate change strategy,” said Wendy Lu Maxwell-Barton, IBI’s executive director. 

“Biochar not only safely locks away carbon, but it is also a circular solution to help feed the world, decarbonize the built environment, and remove pollutants in water and soil. To stay on a 1.5°C pathway, we must accelerate biochar use and include it in our climate toolbox,” she said.

 

Algerian-Sahrawi Trade Union Solidarity Week.

The Algerian-Sahrawi Trade Union Solidarity Week was inaugurated on the 9th of October at the Mohamed Bouguerra University in Boumerdes, Algeria, in the presence of the President of the Consultative Council, a member of the National Secretariat, Mr. Mohamed Lamin Ahmed, representing the President of the Republic, Secretary-General of the Polisario Front, Mr. Brahim Ghali, with the participation of 100 Sahrawi trade unionists, as well as representatives of the Algerian civil society and international figures active in the defense of the right of peoples to self-determination.

The opening ceremony of the Algerian-Sahrawi Trade Union Solidarity Week ran until October 14, under the slogan “The Algerian-Sahrawi Trade Union Solidarity Week … Half a Century of Struggle, in Fidelity to the Path of the Heroes.”

 

The President of the university hosting the event, Mr. Mustafa Yahia, welcomed the Sahrawi people, including officials and executives, and pointed out that the international situation has changed as a result of the transformations taking place in the world, which is favorable to the just Sahrawi cause.

Mustafa Yahia reiterated Algeria’s steadfast position on the Sahrawi issue, reaffirming that this stance will not change regardless of the circumstances, as it stems from the positions of the Algerian state and the principles of the immortal November Revolution.

 

The Secretary-General of the Algerian Trade Union Confederation, Mr. Amar Taqjout, in his speech, renewed his support and solidarity with the Sahrawi people and their just cause, based on the strong and unwavering positions of the Algerian people and leadership in its struggle for the achievement of its inalienable right to freedom and independence.

For his part, the Secretary-General of the Sahrawi Workers’ Union, Mr. Salama Basheer, after expressing his gratitude to the General Union of Algerian Workers for organizing this trade union solidarity event, explained that this week of solidarity represents an opportunity for Sahrawi labor leaders to benefit from the rich experience of the Algerian labor movement.

 

During the opening ceremony, two documentary films were presented, one about the Algerian labor experience during the liberation revolution and the other about the Sahrawi labor experience.

Afreximbank Commences Development of Morocco-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Program.

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has entered into a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Government of Morocco, represented by the Ministry of Economy and Finance, to develop a $ 1 billion Morocco-Africa Trade and Investment Promotion Program.

According to the terms of the MoU, the program will aim to facilitate and guide future cooperation in areas of common interest between Afreximbank, the Ministry of Economy and Finance of Morocco, other government departments, and Moroccan economic operators.

Areas of collaboration under the program will include financing and promoting intra- and extra-African trade through the implementation of credit, risk-bearing, and trade information and advisory services. It will also include support for engagements, missions, exchange of information, and capacity building.

Nadia Fettah, the Minister of Economy and Finance of Morocco discussed the move at the MoU signing ceremony: “This agreement marks an important step towards consolidating the relationship between the Kingdom of Morocco and Afreximbank.

“It also affirms the continued commitment of the government to increasing trade promotion and cooperation and the development of Africa.”

In addition, under project finance, the MoU facilitates access to information on the potential pipeline of investment projects in Morocco, or from Moroccan entities to African countries, which would be suitable for financing from Afreximbank.

Afreximbank will cooperate with the Ministry and relevant Moroccan entities and economic operators to develop and deploy appropriate project structuring and financing solutions.

Benedict Oramah, president and chairman of the board of AfreximBank, also discussed the partnership at the ceremony. He explained: “This MOU sets the stage for deepening the collaboration and relationship between Afreximbank and the Kingdom of Morocco.

“Our mandate to transform trade and support economies in Africa is firm and today’s agreement is another crucial step in achieving this objective.”

Afreximbank will support Morocco’s economic operators across three years as part of the program. This will be implemented using loans and guarantee facilities, as well as investment banking and advisory services.

The program is based on Morocco’s firm engagement – playing a key role in promoting intra-African cooperation. It is also based on the efforts of the Ministry of Economy and Finance to establish mutually beneficial partnerships with African/regional financial institutions to promote financial and economic cooperation between Moroccan economic operators and their African counterparts.

African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) is a Pan-African multilateral financial institution mandated to finance and promote intra- and extra-African trade. For 30 years, the Bank has been deploying innovative structures to deliver financing solutions that support the transformation of the structure of Africa’s trade, accelerating industrialization and intra-regional trade, thereby boosting economic expansion in Africa. A stalwart supporter of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), Afreximbank has launched a Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) that was adopted by the African Union (AU) as the payment and settlement platform to underpin the implementation of the AfCFTA. Working with the AfCFTA Secretariat and the AU, the Bank is setting up a US$10 billion Adjustment Fund to support countries to effectively participate in the AfCFTA. At the end of 2022, Afreximbank’s total assets and guarantees stood at over US$31 billion, and its shareholder funds amounted to US$5.2 billion. The Bank disbursed more than US$86 billion between 2016 and 2022. Afreximbank has investment grade ratings assigned by GCR (international scale) (A), Moody’s (Baa1), Japan Credit Rating Agency (JCR) (A-) and Fitch (BBB). Afreximbank has evolved into a group entity comprising the Bank, its impact fund subsidiary called the Fund for Export Development Africa (FEDA), and its insurance management subsidiary, AfrexInsure, (together, “the Group”).

 

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.

Tanzania to Benefit from Power Interconnection Project.

Tanzania is at the edge of reaping the benefits of the Kenya and Tanzania Power Interconnection Project (KTPIP). This project is a significant infrastructure development project that aims to improve power distribution and boost electricity trade in the region. With its completion nearing, the project is poised to transform Tanzania’s energy landscape and unlock new opportunities for economic growth and regional cooperation. Funded by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the African Development Bank (AfDB), the KTPIP is expected to enhance Tanzania’s energy security, enable cross-border electricity trade, and facilitate the harnessing of surplus power.

The Kenya and Tanzania Power Interconnection Project

The project is a $258 million project that involves the construction of a 510-kilometer power line capable of transmitting up to 2,000 megawatts of electricity. The power line will connect the Kenyan and Tanzanian grids, enabling electricity trade between the two countries. This interconnection will not only allow Tanzania to purchase electricity from neighboring countries when needed but also create an avenue for selling surplus electricity to the region. The project, which is 99% complete, is expected to be energized in November 2021, following the completion of equipment tests.

Benefits for Tanzania

The KTPIP will address the issue of power distribution in several Tanzanian regions, bringing electricity to areas that previously had limited or no access. This will have a significant impact on the lives of Tanzanian citizens, improving living conditions, and stimulating economic growth in these regions. By interconnecting with Kenya’s power grid, Tanzania will reduce its dependence on domestic power generation, thereby enhancing energy security. This connection will ensure a more reliable and stable power supply, minimizing the risk of power outages and enabling businesses to operate more efficiently.

The KTPIP has the potential to generate revenue for Tanzania through fees from Southern African countries using the country’s network to purchase power from Ethiopia. By acting as a conduit for regional electricity trade, Tanzania can position itself as a hub for power transmission, further strengthening its economy. The interconnection project will facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources into Tanzania’s power grid. With Kenya’s advanced renewable energy sector, the project will enable Tanzania to access clean and sustainable energy, reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and contributing to global efforts to combat climate change.

Regional Cooperation and Economic Integration

The KTPIP not only benefits Tanzania but also fosters regional cooperation and economic integration. By enabling cross-border electricity trade, the project promotes collaboration between neighboring countries, fostering a sense of shared prosperity and stability in the region. The interconnection will create opportunities for power exchanges, allowing countries to optimize their energy resources and reduce costs. It will also encourage investment in renewable energy infrastructure, as countries seek to capitalize on the benefits of interconnected grids.

The completion of the Kenya and Tanzania Power Interconnection Project marks a significant milestone in Tanzania’s energy sector. By improving power distribution, enhancing energy security, and fostering regional cooperation, the project will have transformative effects on Tanzania’s economy and the lives of its citizens. The interconnection with Kenya’s power grid will position Tanzania as a key player in regional electricity trade, driving economic growth and sustainable development. As the project nears its energization phase, Tanzania stands on the cusp of a new era of energy resilience and prosperity.

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.

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.

 

Inclusive Tourism in South Africa; Tourism Minister Signs MoU.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Senegalese Pair Win Caine Prize.

For the first time since the Caine Prize for African Writing started in 2000, the award was won by a duo. Mame Bougouma Diene and Woppa Diallo, a Senegalese writing duo, have won the prestigious Caine Prize for African Writing for their short story, A Soul of Small Places.

Diallo is a lawyer and feminist activist, while Diene is a Franco-Senegalese American humanitarian, and writer. He serves as the francophone spokesperson for the African Speculative Fiction Society and contributes as a columnist to Strange Horizons, an online speculative fiction magazine.

According to African literature specialist Caroline D. Laurent, their short story echoes deeper trends in the country’s literature while picking up on the growth of horror and speculative fiction from across the continent. 

Diallo’s inspiration to write a story that explores themes of violence, revenge, love, and loss was drawn from her personal experiences. Diene on the other hand often blends elements of horror, social issues, and local beliefs in his work, and “A Soul of Small Places” is an example of his preferred genres.

The annual Caine Prize Award acknowledges a short story written in English by an African Author. The award aims to introduce African literature to a broader readership. Winning this prize provides the writer the opportunity to discuss their work in the Caine Prize anthology with the prospect of gaining recognition, as well as serving as a springboard for further publication. It creates an opportunity for writers to discuss their works, engage with other writers, and meet with the press.  It has helped launch the careers of its previous winners, the likes of; Helon Habila, Tope Folarin, NoViolet Bulawayo, and Namwali Serpell. 

The Caine Prize includes a cash prize of U.S.$12,000 and publication of the winning work in the 2023 Caine Prize anthology. The award, presented to the best short story by an African writer in English, received a record-breaking 297 entries from 28 different countries in the current year. It aims to promote African writing to a broader audience and past winners include notable authors such as Nigerian novelists Helon Habila and Tope Folarin, Zimbabwean novelist NoViolet Bulawayo, and Zambia’s Namwali Serpell. This was also the first time a Senegalese won the prize.

A Soul of Small Places is about Woppa, a young girl who lives in the rural town of Matam in Senegal. Woppa has the task of protecting her younger sister Awa on their way to school. Indeed, girls going to school are often the prey of men who sexually assault them and force them into early marriages. Woppa and Awa’s daily experience of fear to and from school highlights the lack of response from both the authorities and citizens. Gender-based violence remains shrouded in silence, suppressed by feelings of shame and guilt. Hence the intervention of the Soukounio, a flesh-eating djinn who, in this narrative, serves as a protector and avenger of young girls. When all else fails, it is only the gods who can safeguard the girls of Matam.

A Soul of Small Places is a beautifully written short story that the Caine Prize judges have aptly described as “tender and poetic”. However, it’s also a harrowing and infuriating tale. The power of literature to focus on individuals and their personal experiences lends a human face to an unresolved social issue. The author’s skillful use of suspense and horror to convey this idea leaves a profound impact on the reader, with the hope of prompting them to consider the issue and take action.

Diallo and Diene’s story is deeply rooted in its local setting. Matam is described as the second hottest place in Senegal and the heat is palpable in the description of the landscape, where nature is both menacing and protective. References to different gods and spirits also highlight the environment in which Woppa and her family live. However, this short story can also resonate with the fears experienced by young girls and women globally. The anxiety of girls walking home after sunset is something many women have experienced. A Soul of Small Places portrays experiences that, unfortunately, are all too universal. The lack of adequate responses also resonates, regardless of where one lives.

Recently, Senegalese fiction has engaged with important issues in Senegal, whether about homophobia – as seen in Mohamed Mbougar Sarr’s De Purs Hommes (Pure Men) – or gender-based sexual violence, as seen in A Soul of Small Places.

Also worth noting is that Diallo and Diene wrote their story in English, not French, the language of Senegal’s former colonizers. The choice to write in English works to dismantle the neocolonial use of languages based on one’s origin and the colonial past of one’s country. In this sense, English appears more as a global language. The Kiswahili Prize for African Literature, where authors write in African languages, complements the Caine Prize. The fact that languages are being redistributed points to the dynamism of African literature, challenging the use of the languages of former colonizers in different ways.

Senegalese literature plays a vital role in encouraging people to read, reflect upon, and engage with significant matters in the country. Literature serves as a tool for recognition, understanding, and action. A Soul of Small Places is a beautiful, terrifying example of this.

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.

 

Anuga 2023 Brings Tunisian Agri-Food Industry to Spotlight.

Forty Tunisian exhibitors operating in the agri-food sector are participating in the world’s leading trade fair for food and beverages, “Anuga 2023,” organized October 7th-11th, in Cologne, Germany.

Spearheaded by the Export Promotion Centre (CEPEX), the Tunisian 25th consecutive participation in this event includes exhibitors specialized in olive oil, canned food (tuna, sardines, and harissa), dates and by-products, pastry, charcuterie, pre-prepared dishes, and dried tomatoes.

Anuga which brings together all the key players, producers, buyers, and decision-makers in the sector, is considered to be the world’s leading agri-food event, with a record number of exhibitors exceeding 7,800 and over 200,000 professional visitors, CEPEX said on Monday.

The Tunisian exhibitors succeeded in making contact with trade visitors from over 55 foreign countries, according to CEPEX.

Tunisia’s participation in this trade fair also served to showcase a fairly comprehensive range of Tunisian products and to promote Tunisia’s strengths in a market that offers real export opportunities.

A cooking show space was set up to offer visitors the opportunity to sample flavors concocted from products on display in the 435m² national pavilion.

As part of its strategy of supporting SMEs, CEPEX offered five small Tunisian companies operating in the agri-food sector the opportunity to exhibit in a “NewComer” space.

A working meeting was held with all the exhibitors. Discussions focused on export opportunities and potential business development alternatives in the German market.

The meeting also offered an opportunity to discuss the promotional program of the Tunisian Embassy in Berlin for 2024.

Germany ranks second on the list of countries with which Tunisia can considerably develop its exports, with an untapped potential estimated at $1.1 billion.

 

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.

 

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.

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.

 

Zambian Government Set to Introduce Incentives in 2024 National Budget.

Finance and National Planning Minister, Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane recently revealed that the Zambian government is set to introduce a series of incentives in the 2024 national budget aimed at stimulating economic growth and increasing revenue generation.

Speaking at the National Symposium on the Proposed 2024 National Budget in Lusaka, Dr. Musokotwane emphasized the importance of these incentives across various sectors, noting that they play a crucial role in bolstering the nation’s economy while contributing to the Treasury’s financial resources.

Furthermore, Dr. Musokotwane highlighted the need for agricultural farm blocks in the country to embrace technology as a means to enhance productivity and promote increased exports of agricultural products. This move is in line with the government’s broader strategy to develop and modernize the agricultural sector.

The Finance Minister also underscored the government’s commitment to budget credibility, emphasizing that they have diligently adhered to spending limits approved by Parliament, ensuring fiscal responsibility and transparency in financial management.

Dr. Musokotwane stressed the importance of focusing on sectors where Zambia has a comparative advantage, such as agriculture and mining, to drive economic growth and sustainable development.

In addition to Dr. Musokotwane’s remarks, Bank of Zambia Deputy Governor Francis Chipimo outlined the central bank’s objectives for the coming year. He expressed the Bank’s commitment to reducing inflation from the current double-digit rate of over 12 percent to a target range of 6-8 percent. The Bank of Zambia will also maintain a flexible exchange rate regime to support the implementation of the 2024 national budget.

Dr. Chipimo further revealed plans to introduce a Credit Guarantee Scheme, designed to facilitate SMEs’ access to finance at affordable rates, a move aimed at promoting economic inclusivity and entrepreneurship.

Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) Commissioner General, Dingani Banda, disclosed the authority’s revenue collection goals. He stated that ZRA expects to collect 125 billion kwacha, a significant increase from the current projection of 103 billion kwacha. Value Added Tax (VAT) is expected to account for a larger portion of this revenue. Banda emphasized that ZRA’s focus has shifted towards collecting more revenue from consumption taxes rather than Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) taxes, as had been the traditional norm.

Secretary to the Treasury, Felix Nkulukusa, highlighted the 2024 national budget’s focus on addressing the rising poverty levels in the country while concurrently promoting increased investment. Mr. Nkulukusa emphasized that the government is committed to pursuing long-term economic growth rather than quick-fix solutions.

At the same event, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in Zambia expressed the importance of increased investments in critical sectors such as education and health for Zambia’s sustained growth. Peter Wiebler, the USAID Zambia Head of Mission, reiterated the United States’ commitment to partnering with Zambia in implementing the 2024 budget to advance the nation’s development goals.

Dr. Musokotwane had previously presented the proposed 2024 national budget, which outlines a planned expenditure of 177.9 billion kwacha. The budget reflects the government’s comprehensive strategy to promote economic growth, reduce poverty, and enhance fiscal responsibility.

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.

Nigeria: “Her Summit 2023” Set to hold in Lagos.

Her Summit 2023 is set to take place at the elegant Lagos Oriental Hotel in Lagos, Nigeria on the 16th of September 2023.

In a time where progress is the key to success, women are increasingly taking center stage, breaking barriers, and leaving an indelible mark on various industries. In a bid to celebrate and magnify the achievements of these trailblazers and simultaneously empower the next generation, this event promises to be a day of inspiration, empowerment, and invaluable resources for women from all walks of life. 

Highlighting this year’s event is a captivating keynote address to be presented by Betty Irabor

Betty Irabor, recognized as the founder of the esteemed African Lifestyle Magazine Genevieve, is not only an accomplished author but also an executive leader celebrated for her remarkable achievements in publishing, entrepreneurship, public speaking, and her dedicated advocacy for mental health and overall wellness.

The Her Summit will feature a lineup of inspiring speakers, including;
Dr Tinuade Sanda, Managing Director/CEO of EKO Electricity Distribution Company (EKEDC)

Onyekachi Eke, Director for Global Markets, West Africa at IE University, Spain
Stephanie Busari, CNN Senior Editor West Africa
Mary Ojulari, MD Westar Associates (Mercedes-Benz Nigeria)
Debbie Larry-Izamoje, Chief Operating Officer, Brila Media
Odiri Erewa-Meggison, External Affairs Director British American Tobacco West & Central Africa
Dr. Tewa Onasanya, Founder Exquisite Magazine
Mayokun Owolabi, Regional Operations & Partnerships Manager West Africa, Flutterwave
Victoria Ajayi, Deputy Chief Financial Officer at TVC Communications
Sandra Tuboereni, Creative Director of TUBO alongside other outstanding women of impact.

The Her Summit 2023 will feature panel discussions on a variety of topics, including Navigating Her Career, Her Digital Transformation Era, Reclaiming Her Power, Monetizing and Investing in Her Future, Practical AI Tools For Enhanced Productivity, On Her Game, Leveraging Leadership.

These sessions will provide diverse insights and actionable strategies for women to thrive in their respective fields. 

Supported by IE University, Flutterwave, Heirs General Insurance, Nestle, and Elect HER, Her Summit offers women a remarkable chance to come together, learn, and grow while being inspired by captivating speakers, paving the way for a transformative experience that propels attendees forward in their personal and professional journeys.

Africa Hosts Climate Summit Ahead of COP28.

African leaders and global policymakers met on Tuesday 5 September 2023 in Kenya for a climate summit aimed at showcasing the continent as a destination for investment in efforts to combat global warming.

Heads of state, government, and industry leaders were among thousands of attendees at the summit where Africa is promoting its potential as a clean energy powerhouse and asset in addressing the climate emergency.

The Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi will come ahead of the COP28 summit later this year in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates, which is expected to feature competing agendas for the world’s energy future.

The three-day event in Nairobi, which began Monday, is billed as bringing together African leaders to define a shared vision for green development on the diverse continent of 1.4 billion.

Kenyan President William Ruto was hosting counterparts from countries including Mozambique, Tanzania, and Ghana, and United Nations head Antonio Guterres, US climate envoy John Kerry, and COP28 president Sultan Al Jaber were in attendance.

On Tuesday, the summit will offer proposals to reform global financial structures that have resulted in only a tiny fraction of investments in climate solutions being directed toward Africa.

Countries in Africa are hamstrung by mounting debt costs and a dearth of finance, and despite an abundance of natural resources, just three percent of energy investments worldwide are made in the continent.

On the opening day of the summit on Monday, Ruto said trillions of dollars in “green investment opportunities” would be needed as the climate crisis accelerates.

“Africa holds the key to accelerating decarbonization of the global economy. We are not just a continent rich in resources. We are a powerhouse of untapped potential, eager to engage and fairly compete in the global markets,” Ruto said on Monday.

A clean energy transition across the world’s developing nations will be crucial to keep alive the Paris Agreement goal of capping global warming “well below” two degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times, and 1.5C if possible.

To make that happen, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says investment will need to surge to $2 trillion a year within a decade — an eight-fold increase.

The international investment must be “massively scaled up to enable commitments to be turned into actions across the continent”, said Ruto, Al Jaber, and African Union Commission head Moussa Faki Mahamat in a joint statement on Monday.

The summit’s focus on climate finance has drawn opposition from some environmental quarters, with hundreds of demonstrators protesting near the conference venue in Nairobi on its opening day.

A coalition of civil society groups has been urging Ruto to steer global climate priorities away from what it perceives as a Western-led agenda that champions carbon markets and other financial tools to redress the climate crisis.

Rwanda Resuscitate Electrification Plan, Bringing Back Solar.

The government has revised the National Electrification Plan (NEP) to augment the number of households connected to the national grid and bolster off-grid solutions.
This updated NEP is a direct response to the latest statistics on electricity access, as revealed by the National Institute of Statistics in the 5th Population and Housing Census released late last year. The concerns for the environment are also the driving force behind these changes, with renewable energy taking center stage in discussions at the upcoming Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, slated for September 4 to 6, 2023.

This summit which is co-hosted by the African Union, is expected to set the stage for substantial commitments to enhance access to reliable, low-carbon energy.

Minister for Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, expects tangible pledges and commitments from participating nations to expand access to sustainable energy. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), just two percent of global investments in renewable energy over the past two decades have been allocated to Africa.

To narrow this gap, Rwanda’s revised NEP seeks to connect 52 percent of households to the national grid and allocate 48 percent to off-grid solutions, which include Stand Alone Solar Systems (SAS) and micro-grids.

As of June 2023, 65.7 percent of Rwandan households had gained access to electricity. This figure comprises 47.6 percent connected to the national grid and 18.1 percent connected to off-grid systems, such as solar home systems and microgrids.

Rwanda has set an ambitious target to connect all households by 2024.

The revised NEP for 2023-2024, built on the 2022 baseline, reveals significant shifts in electrification planning. Rwanda Energy Group (REG) assessed electricity connection status across the nation’s sectors, incorporating factors and criteria outlined during the 2022 NEP revision. Their analysis showed that 65.2 percent of all villages now fall within the on-grid zone, encompassing 9,664 villages out of a total of 14,816.

The revised plan indicates that villages in off-grid zones have risen from 2,601 to 5,090. Notably, 34.35 percent of all villages are in off-grid zones equipped with solar home systems.

Of these off-grid villages, 91 (0.6 percent) are slated for micro-grid development, while 4,999 (33.7 percent) will be electrified using Standalone Solar Home Systems. This expansion of off-grid coverage follows discussions between REG and private off-grid developers who have persistently advocated for increasing the market stock in these areas to facilitate more connections.

REG plans to divide these villages into two categories. The first batch of 2,000 villages will be made available to off-grid developers as a top priority, while the remainder will be considered as the second priority, contingent on the performance of the companies in the first batch.

Villages earmarked for Stand-Alone Solar Home Systems in off-grid areas will be allocated to the Renewable Energy Fund (REF), allowing residents to acquire the technology through a subsidy scheme. This initiative aims to encourage the adoption of off-grid solutions while the government mobilizes funds to bring them onto the national grid.

REG officials say there are ongoing discussions with stakeholders to explore funding possibilities, ensuring that all unconnected villages and their productive users gain access to electricity before the end of June 2024. They recommend that the revised plan be embraced by all stakeholders and development partners to accelerate the implementation of the National Strategy for Transformation (NST1) targets.

Rwanda’s investment in renewable energy is anticipated to reduce total emissions by 4.6 million tonnes, or 38 percent, by 2030, in line with its national commitments to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Experts are urging the Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi to prioritize a transition to green energy.

“Renewable energy targets encompass an overall energy mix, expanding to clean energy and setting specific capacity goals for appropriate technologies such as solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal,” noted Rwanda’s Minister for Environment, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya.

The summit, themed “Driving Green Growth and Climate Finance Solutions for Africa and the World,” will be attended by at least 15 African Presidents. It also provides an opportunity to bolster support for the African Agenda at the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, or Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28), and beyond, by spotlighting African countries’ shared interests in achieving low-carbon, climate-resilient, and inclusive development.

Egypt Hosts Training Course With COMESA Monetary Institute.

With regards to the presidential directives to support Egyptian-African cooperation and integration, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) hosts a training course in collaboration with the COMESA Monetary Institute (CMI) on “Application of Big Data Analysis and Artificial Intelligence to Central Banking”, which is held from August 27th to August 31st, 2023.

 

The training course was attended by 35 participants representing 9 central banks from COMESA member states, as well as a delegation from the COMESA Monetary Institute, whereas the sessions are expected to involve discussions on the application of big data analytics and artificial intelligence in the banking & financial sectors, especially for central banks.

 

On this occasion, Dr. Naglaa Nozahie, the Governor’s Advisor for African Affairs in the Central Bank of Egypt, emphasized the importance of this training course, especially regarding the current global and regional developments. She also pointed out that the CBE is keen on pursuing its efforts to support capacity building for the staff of African central banks, particularly as this year’s course marks the ninth consecutive year in which the CBE provides training courses for the employees of the central banks in COMESA countries.

 

In the same context, Mrs. Lobna El-Bayyar, Assistant Sub-Governor for the Business Technology Sector at the CBE, expressed the Bank’s readiness for fruitful cooperation with COMESA central banks and highlighted its commitment to providing training courses in areas of interest to these banks in the field of information technology.

 

On his end, Dr. Lucas Njoroge, Director of the COMESA Monetary Institute, expressed gratitude to the CBE for its ongoing contribution to building the capacities of COMESA central banks. He also pointed out that the Institute looks forward to progressive collaboration with the CBE in the coming years.

 

During the training course, which involves lecturers from the Business Technology Sector at the CBE, participants are divided into work groups to discuss the recent issues and challenges related to big data and artificial intelligence. Moreover, they also present possible solutions to overcome these challenges as practical training on the application of big data analysis and artificial intelligence.

 

At the end of the course, a set of proposals and recommendations will be formulated, that aims to empower a greater and deeper understanding of the impact of big data analysis and artificial intelligence on the operations of central banks in COMESA countries. The proposals and recommendations will be discussed at the upcoming annual meeting of the COMESA Committee of  Governors of Central Banks, scheduled to be held in Zimbabwe in November this year.

Firering Strategic Launches Commissioning of Zambia Lime Plant.

On Wednesday, Firering Strategic Minerals PLC announced that commissioning has begun at the lime plant in Zambia owned by Limeco Resources Ltd, alongside finalizing design work for the lime kilns at the site.

The Abidjan, Ivory Coast-based exploration company, which is developing a mineral assets portfolio in the Ivory Coast, said it successfully commissioned a crushing system to produce aggregates. 

This project includes a two-stage crushing circuit with an installed primary throughput of 500 tonnes per hour of limestone, while the crushing system is modified to produce aggregate to enhance cash flow during kiln renovations.

It is expected to ramp up aggregate production during the coming months with first aggregate sales expected “shortly”, while an estimated stockpile of over 250,000 tonnes of waste rock is available for initial production of aggregate.

Firering Strategic pointed out that the aggregates are mainly used in the construction industry to support foundations, provide drainage, and produce concrete and asphalt.

The company also noted a previous announcement that it has the option to acquire up to 28% of Limeco, which is expected to be profitable and deliver cash flow within 12-24 months.

They also announced finalizing the design work for the modification and commissioning of all eight lime kilns at the Limeco plant, with its technical team assisting the local technical team with upgrade design.

Commissioning of the eight kilns is presumed to commence gradually, Firering Strategic mentioned, with the first two kilns expected to be commissioned during the fourth quarter of 2023.

Firering Strategic noted an estimated limestone stockpile of over 150,000 tonnes available for initial production of quicklime, alongside reopening the existing limestone quarry with an estimated in-situ resource of 73.7 megatonnes of calcium carbonate at 95.3%.

Discussions for quicklime offtake by major copper producers are “advancing”, Firering Strategic added.

“We are excited to announce the successful commissioning of the crushing system that has produced its first aggregate by crushing waste from the waste stockpile at Limeco. Limeco is now in the process of ramping up this aggregate production, which will enhance its cashflow during the kiln modifications and plant commissioning,” said Firering Strategic Chief Executive Officer Yuval Cohen.

“Firering’s decision to enter into the option agreement with Limeco Resources was led by the opportunity to provide our shareholders with exposure to a project that can be brought into production relatively quickly, capable of delivering cash flow in a relatively short space of time. We will continue to update shareholders on the progress made on-site as we work with our partners to advance this quality project to production.”

Shares in Firering Strategic were up 4.1% to 7.60 pence each in London on Wednesday morning.

Mobius Motors, Stima, One Electric Form Alliance to Improve Green Energy.

Mobius Motors partnered with Stima and One Electric to roll out motorcycles in Kenya in September. This multimillion deal is aimed at spearheading a local motorcycle assembly in Kenya.

The motorcycle sector is one of the biggest vehicle sectors in Africa and as a result, there has been a consciousness of electrifying the motorcycle industry to improve green mobility. There are over 27 million ICE motorcycles registered across Africa and around 80% of them are used in the motorcycle taxi industry.

The cost aspect of the motorcycle business has proven to be a big challenge as many operators face rising costs and dwindling profits due to high operational costs associated with frequent oil changes and maintenance services for internal combustion engine motorbikes, as well as the ever-increasing cost of petrol. This is why the solution of the electrification of the motorcycle taxi industry on the continent is called for.

Through the partnership between the Kenyan vehicle manufacturer, Mobius Motors, battery-swapping technology specialist Stima, and India’s leading electric motorcycle manufacturer One Electric, Mobius Motors will join the existing partnership of Stima and One Electric by taking on the local assembly of the CKD (completely knocked down) kits of One Electric motorcycles, which will be distributed by Stima in the country. The assembly of One Electric motorcycles in Kenya will drive down the cost of electric motorcycles for the Kenyan moto-taxi (boda boda) market while generating employment opportunities and enhancing local value creation.

Stima is a French-Kenyan startup building a SaaS technology platform for battery-swapping systems to support the deployment of electric 2-wheelers in Africa and emerging markets. Since 2021, Stima has refined its battery-swapping software platform in Nairobi, where it manages networks of battery swap stations. Stima is now licensing its proprietary software suite to empower enterprises in deploying scalable battery-swapping systems for electric 2-wheelers in emerging markets.

Mobius Motors, founded in 2011, is a Kenyan company that builds and assembles vehicles under the Mobius brand. Mobius Motors’ vision is to turn around the market from a predominantly used car market to new locally made or assembled vehicles for the same price or less than an equivalent used imported model. Mobius Motors is also preparing next-generation electric vehicles. Formed by Gaurav Uppal and Abhijeet Shah in 2019, One Electric Motorcycle aims to become the market leader in electric motorcycles for the Indian and African markets, in the 100cc up to 180cc segments. They are currently present in and conducting trials in six African countries, India, UAE, and Nepal. With constant R&D in battery, motor, and controller technologies, One Electric is striving to provide the most durable and long-lasting powerful electric motorcycles.

This strategic alliance leverages Mobius Motors’ expertise in local vehicle manufacturing to boost Stima’s deployment in Kenya of One Electric robust, high-performing motorcycles, tailored specifically for the African market. Building on the success of the initial rollout of One Electric motorcycle with Stima battery-swapping systems in Nairobi, this new partnership marks the beginning of the ambitious scale-up phase envisioned by One Electric and Stima.

Following Stima’s official announcement as an assembler of electric motorcycles under the East African Community (EAC) duty remission scheme in July 2023, the inaugural CKD batch of Stima-One Electric motorcycles has been assembled at Mobius Motors’ manufacturing plant, Sameer Africa in Nairobi.

With more than 1.5 million boda-boda riders in Kenya and a national electricity grid supplied with renewable energies by more than 90%, the partnership contributes to the sustainable transformation of the Kenyan transportation sector, fostering local added value and job creation in alignment with the priorities and supportive measures of the Kenyan government. Notably, the partnership will contribute to the nationwide rollout of electric motorcycles, a commitment announced by President Ruto in preparation for Kenya’s hosting of the Africa Climate Week scheduled between September 4th and 8th.

Nicolas Guibert, CEO of Mobius Motors, further says, “Mobius Motors is very excited to start its journey towards electric mobility with Stima and One Electric. We will provide the best of our resources and knowledge to make their proposition a game-changer. Our ambition is to further become a major player in the African sustainable mobility.”

Jason Gras, Co-Founder and CEO of STIMA, adds: “We found in Mobius Motors, the ideal partner to assemble our One Electric motorcycles in Kenya. We are delighted to benefit from their experience of building vehicles designed for the African mass market combined with their impressive Lean Manufacturing-inspired processes. Our collaboration with One Electric and Mobius offers us a great opportunity to implement our battery swapping management software platform at a large commercial scale in East Africa.”

Gaurav Uppal, Co-Founder and CEO of One Electric mentions: “This partnership with Stima and Mobius is key to ensuring that we scale production smoothly as demand is rising. Furthermore, it will be essential in ensuring timely after-sales service, while also contributing to the local economy and job creation. We are excited to position this Partnership as a major milestone in the advancement of E-mobility in East Africa.”

Ivory Coast: Toumodi Town Hosts First Edition of Nzramah Festival.

The Lake District is believed to have enormous cultural and economic potential. The initiators of the N’Zrama Festival at the stadium in Toumodi, a town in the center of the Ivory Coast, see it as a cultural showcase more than that, it is also an economic pillar providing a solution to unemployment.

In central Ivory Coast, the town of Toumodi hosted the first edition of the Nzrama Festival, attempting to position the Ivorian Lake district as a major economic hub.

This festival which has been dubbed a cultural showcase by its creators, enabled the region’s cooperatives to display their craft, derived from local cultures aiming to source funding to industrialize their labor.

“We’re looking for and finding structures to help us process our products. Because we process our products by hand. If we have someone, a company or the state can help us with the processing,” shares Dorothée Ando, Boutique Manager

“We manufacture cassava and other food products, and we process them, not without difficulty. We lack the proper material. We need help,” added Kouamé Akissi, Cooperative President. 

These requests are at the heart of the Lake District’s new policy, which aims to breathe new life into what was formerly known as the prosperous cocoa loop.

”We have a duty to bring in investors, encourage our people, and help the young, after all, it’s the year of youth, so we must help young people achieve their goals and continue to empower women,” shares Dr. Raymonde Goudou Coffie, Minister-Governor of the Lake District. 

In recent years, the Ivorian government has launched an extensive regional empowerment project. With more than 60% of its land being arable, the Lake District holds an untapped economic potential.

Moroccan King’s 60th Birthday, Celebrated as Model of Stability.

Morocco’s King Mohammed VI, who celebrated his 60th birthday on Monday 21st August,  has been seen as maintaining effective stability as well as modernizing the economy at home while pursuing assertive diplomacy abroad.

In his most recent speech on July 30, the king called for  the achievement of “new milestones on the path of progress and creating projects of greater scope, worthy of the Moroccan people.”

Since his coronation after the death of his father Hassan II on July 23, 1999, King Mohammed has focused on the economy, foreign affairs, defense, and security in his North African nation.

“While his father was greatly present on the political stage, Mohammed VI’s style seems to differ from that of his father’s. According to political analyst Mohamed Chiker, he prefers to silently steer the ship while controlling the levers of power.” 

The king has supervised the building of major infrastructure and business projects over the years.

These include the Tanger Med industrial port, the gigantic Noor solar power plant, and the Tangier-Casablanca high-speed rail line, alongside developing Morocco’s automotive and aerospace industries, and more recently, so-called green hydrogen projects and the “Made in Morocco” label.

Furthermore, to boost Moroccan soft power abroad, he took the initiative to partner with Spain and Portugal in a joint bid to host the 2030 FIFA World Cup.

On the international stage, Mohammed has diversified partnerships that were once the virtual monopoly of former colonial ruler France and other European countries, embracing a more prominent continental role since Morocco’s return to the African Union in 2017.

The Western Sahara has remained the king’s top foreign policy priority, repeatedly describing the former Spanish colony  as “the prism through which Morocco views its international environment.”

Since 1975, a low-intensity conflict over the contested territory has pitted Rabat against Sahrawi separatists of the Algeria-backed Polisario Front.

Morocco has also secured Spain’s support for an “autonomy plan” that would place the vast mineral-rich desert region under Rabat’s sole sovereignty.

The Polisario has for decades called for a UN-supervised referendum on self-determination.

In December 2020, the United States recognised Morocco’s sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara. Israel followed suit last month, deepening ties with Rabat and drawing a predictable backlash from Algiers.

He did not only achieve diplomatic wins, but Mohammed also addressed societal inequalities at home, which has earned him the nickname “king of the poor”.

Under his leadership, a long-awaited aid project for Morocco’s most disadvantaged families is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In 2004, the monarch approved the adoption of a family code aimed at boosting women’s rights.

Over the past two decades, Morocco has also shown a commitment to strengthening women’s representation in all sectors, considering it a priority step towards combating discrimination, exclusion, and marginalization.

The reforms, the king said in July 2022, enshrine “equality between men and women in rights and duties and, consequently, establish the principle of parity as an objective that the state must seek to achieve.”

The king also shed light on the fact that the purpose of the reforms was to allow women to “enjoy their legitimate rights,” reaffirming that in Morocco, “it is no longer possible for women to be deprived of their rights.”

Angola, South Africa Trade Cooperation Valued at U.S.$29.6 Mln.

The executive director of the Private Investment and Export Promotion Agency (AIPEX), José Sala, said on  Tuesday in Luanda that Trade cooperation between Angola and South Africa, valued at US$29.6 million is below its real potential, 

José Sala added that the two states have the potential to stimulate economic growth and promote regional development, creating more jobs for their citizens.

Speaking to the press on the sidelines of the Angola-South Africa Business Forum, the AIPEX administrator said that the South African investment, valued at US$29.6 million, is the result of seven projects, of which five in the area of service provision, one in the manufacturing sector and another in agro-industry.

In the view of José Sala, Angola, and South Africa should cooperate on a basis of complementarity, with gains for both sides to strengthen the economic and social development of both States.

The AIPEX administrator highlighted that Angola is a significant producer of oil, natural gas, diamonds, and other natural resources, while South Africa has a robust and diversified economy, with a large consumer market, with a developed manufacturing industry.

In this regard, during the 3-day Business Forum, AIPEX and national entrepreneurs will present to the South African business delegation the areas of most outstanding investment opportunities in Angola, with particular emphasis on manufacturing, agribusiness, fisheries, health, and education sectors.

José Sala suggested that the governments and companies of the two countries need to work together to facilitate trade and investment, which also includes improving infrastructure and establishing more cooperation agreements.

At the event, Angola – South Africa Chamber of Commerce representative, Paula Xavier, reported that 26 South African companies have established business in Angola and have created more than 1,000 jobs.

“Angolan entrepreneurs need to look at South Africa as a great partner, together to make the region economically strong,” he said.

Meanwhile, the representative of South Africa (Wesgro), Tatiana dos Santos, indicated that the South African business delegation is made up of 13 business groups from different segments.

“South African entrepreneurs are attending this business forum to establish partnerships and do business, to stimulate trade between the two countries,” said the head of the South Africa delegation.

At the event, the South African ambassador in Angola, orpa Ephraim Monareng, considered the relations between the two states, but “the trade balance is still weak and needs to be driven from forums as today”.

The representative of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), William Butterfield, invited Angolan entrepreneurs to export to the US through South Africa.

Angola and Africa, members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), maintain excellent cooperation relations in political, diplomatic, economic, and cultural domains.

In recent years, the two states have reinforced bilateral relations with the signing of various commercial agreements, which include cooperation in the oil sector and the suppression of visas in ordinary passports.

 

Uganda: Nile Breweries Equip Barley Farmers.

In a bid to expedite financial literacy and inclusion among barley farmers in Kabale and Rubanda Districts, Nile Breweries Limited has equipped over 1,000 farmers in the region with financial literacy skills, this was said in a news release distributed on 21 August.

The training carried out under the theme “Financial Empowerment of Farmers” has seen farmers across the two districts undergo training in financial planning, budgeting, investment, bookkeeping, and saving and credit management skills to qualify them to manage and grow their farming businesses.

While speaking during the training, Emmanuel Njuki, the head of legal and corporate affairs at NBL noted that the training is part of the brewery’s objective to improve the farmer’s standard of living.

“We depend 100% on the farmers for barley, by financially empowering our farmers, we want to ensure that the crop is profitable for them and that the proceeds are well invested,” Njuki said, “Empowering them with financial skills such as budgeting, investments and how to access credit ensures that they are better placed to access better financing to grow their farming businesses,” he added.

Nile Breweries uses homegrown barley, sorghum, maize, and cassava to brew its beers. Currently, the brewer has contracted 25,000 farmers (15,000 for barley and 10,000 for sorghum) in Northern, Eastern, and South-Western Uganda. According to Njuki, the brewery purchases produce worth Shs109.3 billion annually from local farmers.

One of the biggest challenges facing the majority of smallholder farmers is the lack of access to credit facilities.

Bob Mutegeki the NBL Agriculturist Team Leader- South Western region said that the financial literacy training is also geared towards ensuring that the farmers have increased access to credit facilities.

 

Ethiopia Achieve Self Sufficiency, Slashes Barley Imports.

Ethiopia has become almost fully self-sufficient in barley production in just four years, an unprecedented achievement the International Finance Corporation called a transformation for the country’s agriculture.

International agencies and players in the brewery industry, along with authorities, started putting efforts in 2018 to develop Ethiopia’s barley sector after data showed the country was importing a staggering 70 percent of the grains needed by its booming brewing industry.

With Ethiopia the fifth largest barley producer in Africa, experts believed the potential was there to drastically cut imports so they worked to achieve that. 

The innovative public-private BOOST program spearheaded by Soufflet Malt Ethiopia has been a primary driver of this success by providing training, resources, and markets to over 7,300 smallholder farmers. This program was launched with funding support from IFC and the Private Sector Window of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

Jean-Benoit Vivet, General Manager of Soufflet Malt Ethiopia, told IFC that “building local supply chains is at the heart of our strategy to ensure we have enough barley to feed our factory.”

The company’s investments and farmer support model have paid dividends, allowing Soufflet to now source 100 percent of its needs domestically.

The turnaround is reflected in UN trade data showing Ethiopia slashed barley imports by an enormous 78 percent since 2018. 

According to a story shared by IFC, the impacts have exceeded expectations. Farmers like nearly doubled yields and incomes through BOOST. Remarkably, the program has increased smallholder earnings by 150 percent on average, the same source added.

For generations, farmers in Ethiopia’s highland regions have cultivated barley due to the favorable climate. However, traditional farming methods along with restricted access to key resources have kept yields below what the land could truly produce. In addition, inefficient supply networks have created challenges for farmers seeking reliable markets and incomes.

Breweries have benefited the most from the country’s import substitution program, as they obtain a significant proportion of their barley supplies from domestic producer Souflett.

Kenya, Mozambique Deepen Economic Ties.

Kenya and Mozambique just signed eight cooperation agreements in various fields as part of efforts to deepen economic ties between the two countries.

President William Ruto along with his Mozambique counterpart Filipe Nyusi said the two countries were keen on strengthening bilateral trade relations for the mutual benefit of their citizens.

The cooperation agreements included; mutual legal assistance in criminal matters, transfer of sentenced persons, mutual recognition and exchange of driving licenses, Blue Economy and Fisheries sector, and Defence Cooperation Agreement(DCA).

Others were cooperations in the fields of agriculture, energy, and capacity development in the Public Service between the two nations.

Speaking during a joint press briefing after holding bilateral talks at the office of the presidency de Republic, Maputo, President Ruto observed that Kenya and Mozambique enjoy strong bonds of friendship.

He added that more efforts were being made to further improve and strengthen the partnership.

“I expressed to His Excellency President Nyusi our very strong desire to increase trade between our nations especially since both our countries have ratified the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement,” he said.

President Ruto said the time was ripe to share ideas on how to improve the balance of trade by seizing emerging opportunities.

“We both have high hopes that the Kenya- Mozambique Business Forum taking place here will spark new trade and investment deals between Kenya and Mozambique,” said President Ruto.

He pointed out that it was impressive that presently, Mozambique is home to over 1,000 Kenyans most of whom are business persons and professionals working for international organizations.

He thanked President Nyusi for confirming his attendance at the Africa Climate Summit that will be held in Nairobi between the 4th and 6th of September, this year.

“Africa looks forward to learning from Mozambique, particularly on the sustainable exploration of the Blue Economy and Fisheries,” said Dr Ruto.

President Nyusi on his part praised the existing trade and diplomatic ties between the two countries, saying it was for the mutual benefit of their citizens.

He said Kenya has greatly supported Mozambique in the fight against terrorism activities.

 

“I must say we’ve genuine collaboration in defense and security and particularly in the fight against terrorism-related activities,” said President Nyusi.

He said Mozambique will continue to seek support in the banking and tourism industries from Kenya.

“Kenya has achieved a great milestone in banking and the tourism sectors. This is why we will continue to seek support in terms of training from Kenya,” said President Nyusi.

He said his country supported calls by President Ruto’s efforts to have a Pan-African Parliament that would guide the African Union in its operations.

This goes to show how African countries are improving ties with their counterparts leading to fast progress.

Angola, China Improve Bilateral Relations, Sign Agreement.

Intending to boost trade and financial relations between the Republic of Angola and the People’s Republic of China, the two countries finalized an agreement on Sunday, in Luanda Province, which was signed by the Minister of State for Economic Coordination of Angola, José de Lima Massano, and the Chinese Minister of Commerce, Wang Wentao.

This document was signed at the end of the 2nd Guiding Meeting for Angola-China Economic and Trade Cooperation and at the time, José de Lima Massano expressed the Angolan government’s willingness to proceed to deepen trade and financial relations with public and private officials of the People’s Republic of China.

“The presence of China and its entrepreneurs in Angola have contributed significantly to the construction of new infrastructures across the country, thus allowing the Angolan government to better serve the country about social and economic development”, said the minister.

At the meeting, the Chinese official pointed out the investments made by his country in Angola in recent years, also pointing out the fact that Angola is one of China’s main trading partners in Africa and the largest source of oil imports.

According to the Chinese minister, the level of bilateral trade between the two countries has grown steadily. Trade carried out in 2022 reached USD 27 billion, an increase of 16% compared to the previous year.

Wang Wentao noted that Angola has become China’s second-largest trading partner in Africa. To this, he said that the trade structure was continuously optimized by exports of non-oil products to China, with emphasis on mineral products, which has increased significantly.

As regards investments, China is already a top investor in Angola and according to Chinese statistics, their different investments in the country include oil, mining, and processing agriculture, among others.

In terms of finance, China is the biggest source of finance for Angola, where its banks have already financed more than USD 48 billion to Angola, contributing to the social and economic development of this Asian country.

In the field of infrastructure, he added that his country built more than 2,800 meters of railway and more than 20,000 kilometers of roads, as well as the construction of approximately 100,000 social housing, 100 schools, and 50 hospitals in several provinces of Angola.

Angola has become China’s second-largest trading partner in Africa, after South Africa.

The list of China’s top trading partners in Africa also includes Nigeria, Egypt, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Kenya: Plan To Deliver Digital Economy Nearing Fruition.

One of the key promises made by the Kenya Kwanza administration was to transform the provision of services by leveraging technology. That promise is on course with the ongoing implementation of the Kenya National Digital Master Plan 2022-2032 which underpins the country’s digital plans.

This ambitious plan centers around five pillars; digital services and data management, digital skills, digital entrepreneurship, and effective alignment to policy, legal, and regulatory frameworks. The project’s primary aim is to enable the government to deploy technology to improve public services by digitizing government records and services while fostering an innovative and entrepreneurial culture. Going digital will be a game-changer in transforming the economy, creating much-needed jobs, and driving financial and economic inclusion. 

In a revolutionary move, 5,000 services are now accessible through the e-Citizen portal. The president set the pace by quickly making the Cabinet office and meetings digital to foster efficiency and effectiveness. Now this shift to a paperless government will only gather momentum from here.

As part of the plan to attain efficiency in rendering public service, the government also plans to implement the national digital identity, which will converge all crucial identification documents through a national integrated identity management system. 

Among the biggest challenges that Kenya is grappling with today is the lack of employment, especially among our youthful population. Joblessness is one of the top crises facing our country. However, it inspires hope that the government is making severe and deliberate interventions in a bid to address this challenge.

The government has identified technology as the centerpiece of its plans aimed at fostering job creation. This explains why the Kenya Kwanza administration is focusing on projects such as digital superhighway, Konza Technopolis, digital hubs inwards, and free Wi-Fi in markets and trading centers.

Konza has made admirable progress that has been inching closer to being a reality. Besides generating thousands of jobs, the intelligent city, alongside other digital initiatives will cement Kenya’s profile as a Silicon Savannah.

The projects that are currently ongoing in Konza are an Intelligent Transport System and Integrated Control Centre, the establishment of a Startup Ecosystem, and the development of Smart Logistics.

The government has also allocated Sh5.74 billion towards the construction of the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, a digital university domiciled within the Konza Technopolis.

The university will be in charge of training and producing graduates of science, technology, and innovation as part of the government’s interventions to drive digital transformation through skills enhancement. Under the country’s digital master plan, Konza is also tasked with driving the promotion of cloud services and data management.

The setting up of digital hubs in all the 1,450 wards across the country will bring massive benefits once they are fully implemented. These hubs will not only be instrumental in the provision of digitized government services, but they will also enable innovative youths to tap the rapidly growing global e-commerce and digital economy for jobs and to boost their enterprises.

Besides the provision of high-speed internet connection, the hubs are designed to offer cutting-edge technical facilities and services which include meeting rooms, event and training spaces. Entrepreneurs and small businesses will also be able to interact and network which will help in sharing ideas and insights regarding their respective sectors. With such features, the centers have a huge potential to turn the tide of widespread unemployment in the country.

African Countries Curtail Export of Vital Minerals.

Of recent, the global demand for green minerals such as lithium, copper, and cobalt has surged, and African countries are now developing policies to control the exploitation and export of these critical minerals. 

Ghana is the most recent country to announce the approval of a green-minerals policy to help manage the exploitation, production of lithium and help local businesses tap a multibillion-dollar industry.

Ghana’s Lands and Natural Resources Minister, Samuel Jinapor, said the policy has been passed by the country’s cabinet but still awaits parliament’s approval by the end of the year.

“The overarching goal of the policy is to ensure that exploitation of these critical minerals inures (works) to the benefit of (the) people of Ghana, the true owners of these resources,” Jinapor said in an official statement published by Ghana’s Land Ministry.

When the policy is approved, Jinapor explained, “It will form the basis for all agreements, leases, licenses, and permits for the exploitation and utilization of our green minerals.”

So far, two other resource-rich countries- Namibia and Zimbabwe have banned the export of unprocessed lithium and other critical minerals

Namibia’s information ministry said in early June that the country had banned the export of unprocessed crushed lithium ore, cobalt, manganese, graphite, and rare earth minerals. Although, it will allow small quantities of the minerals to be exported after approval by the country’s mining ministry.

In December 2022, Zimbabwe also mentioned that it would only allow shipping out of concentrates, with plans to impose a tax on lithium concentrates destined to export markets. The country is using the Base Mineral Export Control Act, passed in December 2022, to encourage local metal processing.

The two countries house five minerals – lithium, cobalt, manganese, nickel, and graphite – that are all in great demand from renewable energy industries.

Data compiled by Energy, Capital & Power, organizers of Africa’s inaugural Critical Minerals Summit, slated for mid-October in Cape Town, shows that Zimbabwe can meet 20% of the world’s lithium demand.

6Data from the energy firm also shows that the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) produces 43% of the global mined lithium supply, highlighting the potential for Africa to increase control of these resources.

The International Energy Agency’s Critical Minerals Policy Tracker shows there are nearly 200 policies and regulations across the globe relating to critical minerals, with over 100 of these enacted in the past few years.

“Many of these interventions have implications for trade and investment, and some have included restrictions on import or export. Globally, export restrictions on critical raw materials have seen a fivefold increase since 2009,” said the IEA.

The tracker lists South Africa and DRC among African countries with active policies on critical minerals since 2018.

Ethio Telecom: LEAD Growth Strategy Garners Success in First Year.

The state-owned, mammoth telecom enterprise, ethio telecom’s strategy pays dividends in the first year of rollout, as the firm expressed great enthusiasm for success in its second year.

 

The telecom operator which ended its 127-year monopoly courtesy of Safaricom Ethiopia entering the mix fully this past financial year disclosed that its first year of the three-year LEAD Growth Strategy has reeled in great success.

As the CEO of ethio telecom, Frehiwot Tamiru expressed at a press conference on Thursday, July 27, if the current situation both in the country and the globe is set to continue, her enterprise’s projections for the second year will surely be attained.

 

According to Frehiwot, the goal designed for the 2023/24 budget year targets to; have healthy competition in the market, a better security situation, improve access to foreign currency, improve the international market, and other issues.

“We are targeted to attain growth in all sectors in the budget year,” Frehiwot signaled her delight.

 

The enterprise stated that the annual business plan has been developed considering and reviewing relevant government policies, international best practices, and industry trends.

“As the telecom sector is rapidly growing and being dynamic by nature, this plan is not a static plan, rather it follows as a ‘deliberate’ and ‘emergent strategy approach’, taking into account the growth and changes in the industry, the government’s development plans and directions, as well as issues related to competition and further reform, and the current conditions of our country,” the firm disclosed in its statement.

In the year, the enterprise has targeted to expand its mobile towers and capital investments.

In line with that, the subscriber base is targeted to increase by 8.3 percent to reach 78 million, with the mobile voice customers share projecting growths of 7.5 percent to reach 74.74 million, while data and internet targets to reach 41.17 million that may have more than one-fifth increment. Likewise, the fixed broadband customers are gearing to reach 842,800 with 36.3 growth while the tele density is projected to reach 71 percent.

Regarding the promising new business venture, mobile money, the enterprise has aimed to boost its growth by 28.5 percent. The statement of the company disclosed that the telebirr customers will reach 44.1 million for this year.

The revenue on the other hand is expected to show a 14.7 billion birr increment compared with the 2022/23 budget year to reach 90.5 billion birr.

The projection revenue growth rate is however at a lower trend compared with the experience of the preceding years’ performance.

In the 2022/23 budget year, the revenue of ethio telecom had attained 75.8 billion birr at a growth of 23.5 percent compared with the 2021/22 budget year, while for the current budget year, the growth percentage would be 19.4 percent that it a bit lower compared with the experience observed in the past budget year.

The enterprise this regard stated that the revenue growth forecast considers the new business venture and shifting revenue source from traditional to value-added services, offering local and international products and services to the market, expanding telebirr’s access, service types, and partners’ network, enhancing service delivery and by increasing customer satisfaction, retention, and loyalty.

Rise in Tourists Arrival in Tanzania.

TANZANIA has been ranked the second country in Africa for receiving a large number of tourists in the first quarter of this year (January to March).

According to the statistics unveiled by the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) for the period between January and March this year, Tanzania received 409,082 foreign tourists compared to 289,372 tourists received in a similar period last year.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources Dr Hassan Abbasi revealed that yesterday when briefing journalists about the 66th meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa (CAF) held last week in Mauritius.

Dr. Abbasi said the success recorded in the country in the first quarter of this year was attributed to the Tanzania Royal Tour documentary featuring President Samia that aimed at marketing the country’s tourism sector.

“The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) has named and recognized Tanzania as the second country in Africa for recording a large increase of tourists in the first quarter of this year (January to March), the first country is Ethiopia with Morocco taking the third slot,” Dr. Abbasi pointed out.

In particular, he said the organization also recognized Tanzania as the second country in Africa after Morocco in terms of attracting many foreign investment projects in the tourism sector.

He added: “The recorded success is attributed to the sixth phase of government commitment under President Samia to promote and develop the tourism industry in the country.”

The PS also highlighted another achievement acquired by the country from the 66th UNWTO meeting where Tanzania, for the first time in history, attained various positions in the UNWTO.

“For the first time since joining UNWTO, Tanzania has been able to occupy top positions in the organization through elections held in this meeting, including being elected to the post of Vice-President of the UNWTO General Meeting,” Dr Abbasi said.

Having Tanzania has been elected to the post, Dr. Abbasi said, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mohamed Mchengerwa will represent Africa in the position of Vice-President at the General Assembly of the UNWTO.

He added that through this position, Tanzania will be able to market tourism attractions in various tourism platforms in the world through meetings and events organized by UNWTO.

Moreover, he said, the country has been also elected as a member of the UNWTO Executive Council, adding that through the acquired position, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism will represent the country in making decisions on how to develop the tourism sector in the United Nations World Tourism.

“As a member of the UNWTO Executive Council, Tanzania will use the opportunity to attract tourism development projects in the country and Africa in general,” PS added.

UNWTO was formed in 1974 with 160 full members and other associate members who bring together more than 500 tourism stakeholders in the world.

Tanzania attained full membership status in 1975, and since then it has been carrying out its duties and activities of the organization, including paying the annual membership fee, participating in meetings, and implementing guidelines and resolutions provided by UNWTO.

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.

Contract Farming in Lesotho; Beans Farmers Taste First Fruit.

Mamahali Peete, a mother of three children, left her marketing career in the vibrant Johannesburg city in neighboring South Africa and relocated to Lesotho when she married. After three years in the country, she ventured into farming in the rural area of Bela-Bela, and she has never looked back since. She rotates between growing beans and maize on her 30 acres of land.

“Agriculture was not my first choice of business. But realizing the local demand for food I decided to give it a shot. Living in Africa, I now see a lot of potential in agriculture. There will never be a time when people don’t need food. The demand for food is even higher in Lesotho,” said Mamahali.

Lesotho is a net importer of agricultural products, with 30 percent of its total food requirements produced locally and the remaining 70 percent imported.

Mamahali is one of the first-ever bunch of farmers who signed up for Contract farming; this is a kind of trading arrangement that is not common in Lesotho. The Contract Farming initiative was pioneered by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in the country as an innovative business model establishing meaningful market linkages between farmers and the market.

Mamahali and 29 other farmers signed the contract with ‘Tasty Food Packers’, a leading Pulses supplier in the country. At the end of this season, Mamahali made her first delivery to the company.

“Contract farming brings security and gives us farmers bargaining power. It also motivates us to work hard to honor our portion of the deal. For example, this season we received agricultural inputs late in the season, but I tried everything possible to grow so that I can make delivery,” says Mamahali with a smile of triumph.

Under the agreement, ‘Tasty Food Packers’ buys the beans from all the farmers it has contracted with at an agreed price for the produce delivered. However, if there are fluctuations in prices during the harvest season, the two parties can revise the costs, and the same can be done for the quantities.

“I didn’t have a guaranteed market for my beans. Every season we have to look for potential markets. Sometimes we are unsure if our last buyer will be willing to buy from us the next season’s harvest. I made my first supply of beans to the buyer. It inspires me to work hard and honor the agreement,” says Tlalane Sebeko, a block farmer from Berea.

The farmers and the buyer who signed the contract were trained to increase their understanding and knowledge of Contract farming, and their fields were monitored right from planting to ensure good production and productivity, thanks to the support from the Ministry of Agriculture Food Security and Nutrition of Lesotho in collaboration with FAO.   

Most financial institutions in Lesotho just like elsewhere in Africa, have provided limited or no credit and insurance to farmers, although farmers represent the most significant opportunity for scale and impact in financial inclusion today. This is mainly because agriculture is considered a highly risky business undertaken with limited risk mitigation or sharing measures. About 80 percent of Lesotho’s rural population depends on the agricultural sector for their livelihoods. With proper investment and improved access to the market, agriculture has a huge potential to contribute to economic growth and uplift the livelihoods of rural populations.

Contract farming assists with credit because most of the time financial institutions accept contracts as collateral for a loan directly to the farmer.

“Access to finance has been a challenge to farmers in Lesotho. Banks and Insurance companies here fear to give us loans, yet our saving capacity is low. However, when Banks learned about Contract farming, they told us that they were going to tailor-make a product for farmers. I will be applying for a loan using this contract soon,” says Tlalane Sebeko excitedly.

Nizam Abubaker, owner of ‘Tasty Food Packers’ said the contracts will enable his company to get a steady supply as he is currently importing most of the beans from neighboring South Africa to meet the demand in Lesotho. 

“Communication is important during the season so that if the farmer encounters difficulties let’s say unfavorable weather conditions or poor harvest, we are aware and can trigger the ‘force Majeure clause in the contract that protects farmers from uncertainties,” says Nizam Abubaker. 

Nizam acknowledges that Contract farming is a win-win arrangement for both the farmer and the buyer, however noting that the government should work to establish laws regulating contract farming to protect and efficiently integrate producers and actors down the value chain, such as agribusiness, processors, exporters, or retailers.

FAO would like to see the Ministry of Agriculture, Food Security, and Nutrition Expanding Contract farming to other commodities such as vegetables, maize, and others in Lesotho, which would eventually allow farmers to diversify into new crops, which would not be possible without available and stable market.

 

Kenya: Milk Coolers to be Installed in All Wards.

President William Ruto has promised that the government will install coolers in the modernization program of Kenya Co-operative Creameries (KCC) facilities in all the wards in the country.

Speaking in Nyeri during his five-day tour of the Mount Kenya region, Ruto said that he had coordinated with officials in the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that the coolers are delivered to farmers by December 2023.

“We have planned for 650 milk coolers that we will distribute to at least every ward to process and store milk. My instructions are that before December the milk coolers should be in Kenya and distributed to all the farmers in all the areas,” President Ruto said.

He said that the government has set aside Sh3 million in the modernization program of the facilities and the stalled facilities will be completed using the Sh700 million that had already been funded for in the supplementary budget.

Further, the modernization process will be used to increase milk production capacity from 380,000 liters to 800,000 liters.

Ruto said that the milk coolers will also do away with middlemen who buy milk at throw-away prices in the rural areas to make profits by selling at higher prices in the upper market.

“In our quest for the local and international market for milk, we will also ensure that people who are aiming at making money quickly by importing powder from other countries through fraud and coming to compete with our farmers. That door we shall close,” Ruto said.

He promised to deal with cartels in the milk sector to ensure that farmers get the profit that has been landing in the hands of fraudsters.

Additionally, the president promised to reduce the cost of production by reducing the cost of fertilizers for farmers.

Ethiopia Set to Take Third Spot in Cocoa Exportation.

On Thursday, August 4th, there was a discussion with the media leaders where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed expressed Ethiopia’s ambition to become the world’s third-largest exporter of coffee. They are currently ranked as the 8th largest coffee exporter globally and they have been diligently working towards this goal of becoming third-largest globally. 

In recent years, millions of coffee seedlings have been planted in the country, reflecting a strong commitment to the industry’s growth. The Prime Minister expressed his hope that within the next two to three years, Ethiopia will successfully ascend to the coveted position of the third-largest exporter of coffee beans.

 

In 2021, Oromia signaled the continued expansion of seedling coffee and the replacement of decades-old trees. In its recent article, the World Bank (WB) said that almost 80 percent of Ethiopia’s 1 million hectares of coffee trees were underproductive because the trees were not trimmed often enough.

According to this article, the quality of Ethiopian coffee isn’t the problem. About 95% of production from the country’s diverse coffee varieties is organic, traditionally cultivated without the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Demand isn’t the issue either. The article, however, questions, why is Ethiopia’s coffee productivity lagging behind other leading coffee-producing countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. As the research shows, the problem boils down to a lack of pruning.

 

Shimelis Abdisa, President of the Oromia region, back then said that, unlike the preceding trend for the past couple of years, the regional administration has given fundamental attention to bean production and productivity. He pointed out how there was no investment or special attention to coffee, it was only generating revenue. “In general, previously, the Ethiopian government was only generating revenue from coffee but not investing in it. The farmer was the only actor in the total production activity,” he said.

 

The WB said that the low productivity of Ethiopia’s coffee trees poses an obvious problem for the more than 2 million smallholder farmers dependent on coffee production for their livelihoods. Shimelis said due to different reason including the trading scheme, the farmers’ revenue from the bean have been declaimed which led them to cut the coffee bush and replace them with alternative profitable crops.

 

“Based on understanding the farmers and the sector challenges, the regional government is taking action to come up with a solution,” the regional President said. “In our region for the last two years, we have introduced three major changes in the sector. We have improved the marketing system by creating alternative trading for Ethiopian Commodity Exchange by issuing an export license for the farmer enabling them for direct export which also contributed to reducing the illegal trade,” Shimelis told Capital.

“The new trading plays a key role. It has shown positive results for instance the price of red cherry which was 12 birr per kg in the past has now reached 30 birr because of the new scheme,” he explained.

The other initiative introduced in the past two years was rejuvenating and replacing the aged and unproductive coffee trees with new seedlings. The regional President said that the coffee trees in the region are aged up to 40 years, which is a factor in the small harvest.

 

“Rejuvenate existing trees by trimming and replacing the old trees and seedling new coffee trees in new areas has been conducted for the past two years,” he said.

“In 2019, we have planted over 800 million new coffee seedlings, 900 million in last year and this rainy season we will plant 1.1 billion coffee trees in the region,” Shimelis elaborated.

The World Bank article said that different initiatives have been involved to elevate the challenges like Stumping involves pruning older and less productive trees down to just a stump. “This stimulates the growth of new sprouts that develop into new branches within a few months,” it added.

 

According to the region’s plan, the target is increasing the coffee export by two folds minimum in the coming few years. “In the past budget year for instance for the first time in the region the coffee export has increased by 17 percent and this year it is expected to climb to 19 percent,” he explained.

 

In the coming budget year, the export is estimated to be boosted by 25 percent because the seedling that was planted two years ago will have started production.

The price increment at the farmer’s level under one of the three pillars of change for the sector has also discouraged the illegal market. The effect on the illegal channel is said to contribute to attaining the target set for the coming year.

Standard Bank Hosts “Top Women EmpowHer” in Cape Town.

Topco Media, a leading media company focused on empowering entrepreneurs, was thrilled to announce the winners of the Standard Bank Top Women EmpowHER Cape Town event. This marks the first stop in the EmpowHER Development Series, with the second in Durban and the final event to follow in the North West in August.

The Standard Bank Top Women EmpowHER series aims to build communities and provide networking opportunities for aspiring women entrepreneurs. They equip women with the skills and knowledge needed to drive economic development, and the series also empowers them to build successful enterprises in South Africa. The Cape Town event has set the stage for a series of inspiring sessions featuring successful Top Women Award winners and entrepreneurs.

The Cape Town event that was held at The Hyatt Regency Cape Town on Thursday, 25 May 2023, was a platform for an exceptional lineup of renowned speakers who captivated the audience with their valuable insights and experiences. The attendees were inspired by the industry expertise and knowledge shared by Sheila Yabo, head of ecosystem development for Ayoba, MTN’s SuperApp, former head of UCT GSB’s Entrepreneurship Centre, and SA country director for University Impact. They were also privileged to hear from Adri Williams, managing director of Khayelitsha Cookies and recipient of the prestigious Standard Bank Top Women EmpowHER award in 2022.

The presence and contributions of these speakers added tremendous value to the event, creating an engaging and insightful experience for all participants.

One of the exceptional moments of the Cape Town event was the highly anticipated pitching den. Ten exceptional entrepreneurs, carefully selected in advance, had the opportunity to showcase their promising business models. The selected individuals delivered captivating three-minute elevator pitches, followed by engaging five-minute Q&A sessions consisting of a panel of respected judges. The esteemed judging panel consisted of Naledzani Mosomane, who is the head of enterprise development at Standard Bank, Fikile Kgobe, the lead global markets SA (BCB/PPB) at Standard Bank, Fiona Wakelin, the group editor at Topco Media, Adri Williams, the managing director of Khayelitsha Cookies, and Zinzi Magoda, a lecturer at Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT).

The winners from all three regional events, including Cape Town, Durban, and Sun City, will attend the Standard Bank Top Women Awards in November 2023, taking place in Johannesburg. The ultimate winner will be bestowed with the highly sought-after trophy and an impressive cash prize of R50,000.

They were thrilled to announce the winners of the Standard Bank Top Women EmpowHER Cape Town event. These exceptional entrepreneurs impressed the judges with their innovative business models and demonstrated outstanding growth potential.

“We are thrilled with the tremendous success of the Standard Bank Top Women EmpowHER event. The caliber of finalists was exceptional, showcasing the incredible talent and innovation among women entrepreneurs in South Africa. Congratulations to all the winners for their remarkable achievements and for inspiring us with their outstanding business models. We are proud to celebrate their success and look forward to their continued growth and contributions to the business landscape,” commends Ralf Fletcher, CEO of Topco Media.

Denise Stubbs – Thokozani Winelands Investments PTY LTD, Mahlatse Mamaila – INO-Biodiesel, Fezeka Stuurman – Cultiver Group- winner, first runner up, and second runner up respectively were all congratulated. Their achievements and dedication serve as an inspiration to aspiring women entrepreneurs across the country.

They extended a warm invitation to all business and corporate women in South Africa to participate in the final event in the North West. This transformative experience will be held at Sun City, a venue renowned for its blend of business and leisure. It will present an exceptional opportunity for networking, acquiring knowledge, and personal growth.

To secure your spot at the Standard Bank Top Women EmpowHER Regional Conference in North West, please sign up using the application form at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/DV35PPY. Additionally, tickets can be purchased at https://qkt.io/AWYT87. Attendees are encouraged to take advantage of the 20% discount exclusively available to Standard Bank customers using their BIN numbers as a promo code (the first six numbers on your card).

It is a rare opportunity to network with accomplished entrepreneurs, acquire invaluable knowledge, and propel your business to new heights. Be a part of the vibrant community of empowered women who are actively contributing to the economic growth of South Africa. 

Rwanda President Inaugurates Cement Company in Muhanga District.

Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Thursday inaugurated a Chinese-invested cement company in the Muhanga industrial park, Muhanga district of the Southern Province, commending China for being a long-term partner of Rwanda.

AnJia Prefabricated Construction Rwanda Company Ltd, a subsidiary of West International Holding, the Africa arm of West China Cement (WCC), which is a Chinese investment group listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, has built AnJia Cement Factory in the Muhanga industrial park.

“Over the years, West China Cement and West International Holding have become key players in Africa’s efforts to reach self-sufficiency in cement production. I commend you for your commitment to infrastructure development on our continent,” said Kagame at the event.

“I had the opportunity to tour the Anjia factory, and you have set the bar high in terms of quality. We appreciate that. This state-of-the-art factory will contribute to Rwanda’s transformation journey. We thank you, and I assure you that you have our country’s full support,” he said.

He stated that today, the growth prospects for Africa’s cement industry look very promising, whereby a rapidly growing and urbanizing population in Africa, especially, is creating increased demand for housing and infrastructure.

“For manufacturers, this means more opportunities to invest in new markets and create jobs in our communities. Challenges, of course, remain, but they can be overcome through more cooperation,” Kagame said.

According to him, to enhance the performance of the industry, it is essential to deliver higher quality products and shift to more sustainable manufacturing practices.

“I thank the People’s Republic of China, West China Cement, and West International Holding for this significant contribution to Rwanda’s development and Africa as a whole. Anjia is undoubtedly a good addition to Rwanda’s manufacturing landscape. I only see successes in this, our strong partnership,” Kagame said.

Speaking at the event, Zhang Jimin, chairman of West China Cement Limited, said that AnJia marks the company’s first investment and represents the initial cooperation between West China Cement and the Rwandan government at all levels.

“The successful groundbreaking ceremony of the cement factory not only signifies the beginning of the production and operation of the project but also serves as a historical milestone for West China Cement’s investment and development in Rwanda,” added Zhang. “We will continue to expand our investments in Rwanda, with a total investment of more than 100 million U.S. dollars, thereby expanding the entire supply chain. Our aim is to provide high-quality products at a competitive price to contribute to Rwanda’s economic and social development.”

West China Cement Limited invested 50 million U.S. dollars to construct a high-performance cement grinding plant with an annual output of 1 million tonnes in the Muhanga industrial park, said Wang Xuekun, Chinese ambassador to Rwanda, at the ceremony.

“The visionary project will not only promote the development of Rwanda’s cement sector but also cater to the long-term demand for high-quality cement in reservoir projects and infrastructure construction. It will create over 1,000 local job opportunities, significantly enhancing the construction standards of Muhanga industrial park and contributing to Rwanda’s economic growth,” Wang explained.

He pointed out that the factory will pave the way for Rwanda’s self-sufficiency in cement products, reducing reliance on foreign cement imports and expanding the cement market in the surrounding countries.

Speaking at the event, Clare Akamanzi, chief executive officer of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said that China remains the top source of investments in Rwanda, beating other countries globally.

“Over the last five years alone, at RDB we have registered investments from China worth close to a billion U.S. dollars which will collectively generate up to 250,00 jobs for Rwandans. And that is a very good contribution,” she said, adding that the factory stands as a testament to the immense potential of Rwanda’s manufacturing and construction sectors and the viable investment destination that Rwanda offers.

Ghana, Tanzania Launch AFCTA Trade Expedition.

AFRICAN Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is collaborating with Ghana’s National AfCFTA Coordination Office (NCO) to undertake a trade expedition in Tanzania this month.

The National Coordinator of Ghana’s ACTA Coordination, Dr. Farred Arthur, said in Dar es Salaam during the launching of the AFCTA trade expedition to Tanzania that the move envisaging to strength economic ties between Ghana and Tanzania.

“We cannot trade with ourselves alone; thus, we need reliable partners like Tanzania. We aim to create an economic environment where Ghanaians and Tanzanians can conduct business seamlessly, while further strengthening our bilateral relations,” Dr. Arthur said last Friday.

He said that the project commonly aims to explore opportunities for Ghanaian and Tanzanian enterprises to collaborate and trade under the (AfCFTA) agreement.

The enterprise includes a comprehensive program of “Ghana Expo 2023-Tanzania” which will include the exhibition of Ghanaian and Tanzanian goods, seminars, and panel discussions by prominent personalities from both countries on economic development and strengthening bilateral ties.

Dr. Arthur also added that the event will also feature matchmaking sessions to explore opportunities for value chain and supply chain linkages with Tanzanian counterparts.

The event serves as a beacon of hope for realizing the vision of an economically liberated and united Africa, a dream shared by both founding presidents, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, whose legacy continues to inspire these initiatives.

The Ghanaian High Commissioner to Kenya and with concurrent accreditation to Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania, Mr. Damptey Bediako Asare, said the expedition symbolizes a profound commitment to shared values, mutual progress, and a united vision for an economically empowered Africa.

“Through this collective effort, Ghana and Tanzania are poised to unleash their full potential, capitalizing on each other’s strengths to create a dynamic and resilient economic ecosystem,” Mr. Asare said.

The shared vision, according to him, serves as an inspiration for the entire African continent, reinforcing the belief that through collaboration and unity, a brighter and more prosperous future lies ahead for all.

“This collaborative journey had only just begun, and he eagerly anticipated witnessing the fruitful outcomes of this profound alliance unfold in the years to come,” he said.

 

Libya Energy & Economic Summit: Foreign Countries to Participate.

The organizer of  Energy Capital & Power recently announced that the Libya Energy & Economic Summit is back for its second edition. The 2023 edition of this historic summit unites the entire energy sector together with other primary areas of the economy, aimed at creating and sustaining Partnerships for Energy and Economic Opportunity. This historic, in-country Libya summit is organized with the endorsement and support of the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Oil and Gas, and the National Oil Corporation. It develops on the success of the inaugural edition in 2021, which was the first major investment event to take place in Tripoli for a decade.

Leaders in the fields of energy, finance, mining, manufacturing, trading, and other sectors from Libya and around the world are invited. The Libya Energy & Economic Summit 2023 will put the spotlight on Libya’s vast resources and human potential; its need for investment in critical infrastructure and other sectors; its strategic importance as a global energy producer; and much more.

The event will take place in Tripoli on 8-9 November 2023. Regional partners from the Middle East, Africa, and Europe such as Turkey, Italy, France, the UK, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and others will take part with official ministerial delegations. The organizer also expects strong private sector participation from the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.

Libya is considered a major global oil and gas producer, with the capacity to contribute to European and African energy security. Historically, Libya has welcomed international companies and is now pushing for greater investment through partnerships across the economy. The country is emerging into a period of growth and opportunity, with energy as a foundation for its success. Currently producing 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, the country aims to increase production to 2 million barrels per day. Solar energy and other power sources are needed to bring power to the Libyan population and its neighbors. In manufacturing, services, renewable energy, public-private partnerships, logistics, and many other sectors, opportunities are boundless.

The results-oriented Libya Energy & Economic Summit brings the international government and private sector to the table to drive a growth agenda and get deals signed.

In preparation for the Summit, the Ambassador of Spain, Javier Ga-Larrache Olalquiaga, met with representatives of the organizer on Wednesday, 2nd of August.

The Spanish Ambassador expressed his country’s readiness to support the event while stressing his interest in Spanish companies taking a major role in this 2023 edition. The strong role of Spain’s companies in supporting Libya’s economic growth, and their participation in the Libya Energy & Economic Summit 2023, will complement their presence at the previous summit in 2021.

The Ambassador congratulated the organizers on a successful 2021 summit and pointed out that renewable energy in particular would be a focus area for Spain and its companies in this year’s event.

AOW Confirms Presence of Ministers, Government Officials.

Africa Oil Week (AOW) released a statement confirming the ministers and government officials that are to attend the leading oil and gas event; many of which are returning after successful participation at AOW 2022. Africa Oil Week is the home of the African upstream industry. This unmissable event will bring together leaders from across the international oil and gas sector, government representatives, energy policymakers, financiers, and dealmakers from the 9-13 October 2023 in Cape Town under the theme “Maximizing Africa’s Natural Resources.”

Africa Oil Week is the meeting place of choice for the continent’s upstream oil and gas sector. Now entering its 29th year, the event brings together governments, national and international oil companies, independents, investors, the G&G community, and service providers. Africa Oil Week takes place in the heart of Cape Town at the Cape Town International Convention Centre 2 (CTICC2) from 9-13 October 2023.

The ministers and government officials that will be in attendance at Africa’s leading upstream event are;

Hon. Aissatou Sophie Gladima Siby, Minister of Petroleum & Energy, Republic of Senegal, who will be leading a dialogue on the country’s energy opportunities and the broader prospect of investments in the MSGBC Basin during his year’s program. This discussion comes at a significant time for Senegal, as it prepares to export oil and gas in 2024, while also working on some of its most historic energy projects to date. Upcoming investment opportunities in Senegal range from the laying of a new gas pipeline network to the development of gas distribution, processing, and off-take infrastructure.

During the MSGBC, regional spotlight session, Mr Moustapha Béchir, Director General of Hydrocarbons, Ministry of Petrol, Mines and Energy, Islamic Republic of Mauritania will share his ministry’s vision, which focuses on positioning Mauritania as an “integrated hub for low-carbon and green energy.” Mr. Moustapha Béchir is of the idea that a dedicated area for the energy sector will be a catalyst for foreign direct investment while giving the local private sector a chance to get more involved in specialized services related to gas and energy. By 2030, Mauritania plans to have operational green hydrogen projects, as well as a significant increase in gas usage, ultimately reducing heavy fuel oil consumption.

The Hon. Dr. Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources, Federal Republic of Somalia will also be in attendance to lay out his plans for developing Somalia’s hydrocarbons sector through the prioritizing of “exploration, infrastructure development, and regional cooperation.” In this way, the country will encourage foreign investment, while also diving into a new era of hydrocarbon.

The Hon. Abdoulie Jobe, Minister of Petroleum and Energy, Republic of The Gambia, who represents one of the continent’s “fastest-growing frontier upstream destinations,” will be in attendance after being present for the AOW of 2022. With over 22 years of leadership experience in Supply Chain, Logistics, and Distribution Management, The Hon. Abdoulie Jobe is committed to gaining upstream investment across The Gambia’s oil and gas market. The country’s resources can help to secure energy access on both a local and international level.

Mr. Amadou Doumbouya, Director General at Société Nationale des Petroles (SONAP), Republic of Guinea will also be returning. Last year Mr. Amadou Doumbouya was involved in a panel discussion that explored ways to maximize Africa’s potential, following the revised petroleum law. During his presentation, Mr. Amadou Doumbouya highlighted high-potential areas offshore the Republic of Guinea. This talk concluded with a call for African countries to not only consider the issue of climate change but also to collaborate and share risks to unlock the continent’s full potential.

Mrs. Maggy Shino, Petroleum Commissioner, Ministry of Mines and Energy, Republic of Namibia will be speaking in the “Country Spotlight session: Planning for Success in Namibia,” which will outline deep water exploration challenges and opportunities, as well as cost-effective solutions to lower carbon emissions.

Hon. Dr. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu, Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, Republic of Uganda, will be returning to Africa Oil Week to build on her message to stakeholders from last year, calling for a more just and fair understanding of Africa’s energy priorities. Hon. Dr. Ruth Nankabirwa Ssentamu supervises Uganda’s energy development program, where she encourages investment in East Africa’s energy sector, advocating for inclusive and sustainable development of the continent’s natural resources.

Africa Oil Week, home of the African upstream acts as a catalyst to harnessing new business opportunities, witnessing hard-hitting discussions, and connecting with industry peers. Registration is currently ongoing at https://Africa-OilWeek.com.

BasiGo, AC Mobility Partner to Bring Electric Buses to Rwanda.

Nairobi-based electric bus pioneer BasiGo has made a second appearance in the African market with the launch of BasiGo Rwanda Ltd., a new entity focused on electrifying the public transport system in Rwanda. BasiGo has partnered with AC Mobility, Rwanda’s provider of automated fare collection systems for public transport.

It’s great to see that the fleet of electric buses in Kenya is growing and now expanding to Rwanda thanks to BasiGo’s innovative “Pay-As-You-Drive” model that lowers the barriers to entry for operators to get brand new electric buses. Here is a summary of BasiGo’s Pay-As-You-Drive system: A single daily subscription fee is charged per km driven, billed and paid directly between the operator and BasiGo, includes nightly charging of the battery, includes all standard service and maintenance for the bus, free battery replacement in the event of any battery issue, includes dedicated customer care, roadside assistance, free software upgrades, and more.

By the end of 2024, BasiGo and AC Mobility aim to deliver 200 electric buses to bus operators in Rwanda through this financing model. The expected time of arrival for the first electric buses is October 2023 for pilot testing with Kigali transport operators.

BasiGo and AC Mobility have signed letters of intent for the pilot with Kigali Bus Service, Royal Express, and Volcano Express, three of Kigali’s leading bus operators.

While speaking on the partnership, BasiGo CEO and co-founder Jit Bhattacharya said: “Rwanda has led the way in creating an enabling ecosystem for E-mobility. BasiGo is proud to be partnering with AC Mobility, a technology leader in Rwanda’s transport sector, to help accelerate the transition to electrified public transport. Electric buses will be more cost-effective for operators while also dramatically reducing air pollution and CO2 emissions. Through our Pay-As-You-Drive model, we are excited to bring a complete E-Bus solution to make electric buses accessible and convenient for all bus operators in Rwanda.”

For her part, Clare Akamanzi, CEO of the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), said: “In line with RDB’s mandate to fast-track private-sector economic development in Rwanda, we welcome the BasiGo–AC Mobility partnership to bring electric bus technology to Kigali bus operators as a cost-effective and sustainable alternative to diesel buses. This partnership of public transport technology providers in the region will accelerate the decarbonization of the sector in Rwanda while also alleviating the current public transport shortage. RDB is intentional in its support towards this investment and growing a thriving market for electric mobility solutions in Rwanda.”

Jones Kizihira, CEO of AC Mobility Rwanda, said: “We are excited to partner with BasiGo to drive Rwanda’s public bus electrification. The country has recorded rapid transformation, creating a need for a more robust and cost-effective public transport system. The electric buses will help ease the cost burden of public bus transporters and advance Rwanda’s transition to clean mobility. We look forward to leveraging BasiGo’s experience and network to build a strong electric bus business in Rwanda.”

The Government of Rwanda recently announced an initiative to rapidly scale the size of Kigali’s public transport fleet while also aiming to convert 20% of the public bus fleet to electric by 2030.

Founded in 2021, BasiGo has led the introduction of electric buses in Nairobi’s public transport fleet. BasiGo has sold 19 electric buses to public transport operators in Nairobi and has secured reservations for over 100 additional buses. BasiGo electric buses have driven over 460,000 kilometers and carried over 580,000 passengers. BasiGo has also deployed Kenya’s first DC fast charging stations for electric buses.

BasiGo’s progress is a perfect example of what can be done fairly quickly with the right models and commitment. Established in May 2021, BasiGo has moved quickly from concepts to pilots, to sealing major partnerships with several banks in Kenya, to a new partnership with the Associated Vehicle Assemblers (AVA) in Mombasa to assemble the first 1,000 electric buses in Mombasa (Kenya) over the next 3 years. This partnership will build on the initial agreement where in January 2023 AVA completed the final assembly of fifteen 25-seat electric buses, shipped in partially assembled by BasiGo. These electric buses are set to start operations with Nairobi Matatu operators in the coming months.

BasiGo and AVA aim to manufacture over 1,000 electric buses in the next 3 years, creating over 300 new manufacturing jobs and an additional 300 jobs in the ecosystem of charging maintenance, and financing required to support electric buses in operation.

MTN Launches 4g Network in Rwanda.

On Sunday, July 23, MTN Rwanda, the largest telecommunications company in Rwanda, launched its 4G LTE network, marking yet another milestone in revolutionizing Rwanda’s digital landscape.

Upon receiving its modified license that gives effect to the updated Broadband Policy enabling liberalized access to 4G and future technologies, the telco has upgraded its network to boost its 4G LTE connectivity, offering faster, affordable, and more reliable connectivity to individuals, communities, and businesses all over the country.

This comes after the government scrapped the 4g network monopoly earlier this year, which Korea Telecom Rwanda Networks (KTRN) held for a long time.

With the improvement of connectivity, users will be empowered to access enhanced digital services, multimedia content, and social platforms. In the same vein, businesses will be inspired to leverage enhanced network capabilities to drive innovation and expand their digital presence, unlocking new opportunities in various sectors.

Mapula Bodibe, MTN Rwanda Chief Executive Officer, thanked the government for providing a conducive operating environment that enables them to deliver increased connectivity and drive digital inclusion, saying that this comes at a time when MTN is celebrating 25 years of operation in Rwanda.

“By launching the next generation 4G LTE technology, we are not only investing in the network, but we are also, and most importantly, investing in leading digital solutions for Rwanda’s progress.”

She added that this network will catalyze Rwanda’s digital transformation and open a new world of possibilities in the digital sphere for individuals, businesses, and communities.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this milestone and we are ready to support our customers to achieve significant milestones in their lives through our advanced network technology capabilities and affordable service offerings that will enable them to access tools, knowledge, and connections to improve their lives,” said Bodibe.

MTN Rwanda has rolled out its new 4G LTE technology across 80 percent of its network sites which makes MTN Rwanda the largest and widest provider of 4G technology in Rwanda.

In addition to the rollout of its own 4G network, the officials said it would be investing more than Rwf26 billion in network infrastructure modernization, as a commitment to provide its customers with the best-in-class network connectivity and digital experience.

Eugen Gakwerere, MTN Rwanda Chief Technical Officer, said improvements made on infrastructure go hand-in-hand with customer experience, hence assuring customers enjoy a smooth end-to-end experience of MTN products and services.

“Today’s rollout promises to deliver an improved quality of service, which is second to none, underlined by our core belief that everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life.”

In that regard, customers subscribed to the MTN 4G service can use their 4G bundles at the same price as their 3G bundles, with no extra charge.

Customers can also visit their nearest MTN Service Centre or Connect shop to swap to an MTN 4G SIM card at no additional cost and enjoy free WhatsApp for one week. Those without 4G-enabled devices can purchase them at affordable daily, weekly, or monthly installments on Macye Macye by dialing *182*12#.

South Africa Presents 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award Winners.

In a highly anticipated event held at The Forum, in Johannesburg on 19 July, Claire Blanckenberg and Zama Ngcobo were lauded as the winners of the 2023 Veuve Clicquot Bold Woman Award and Bold Future Award, respectively. Launched in 1972 to commemorate Maison’s 200th anniversary, the Bold Woman Award is imbued with the enterprising spirit of the Grande Dame of Champagne, Madame Clicquot, and celebrates trailblazing businesswomen who share her values of innovation, fearlessness, and determination. 

For 51 years, the award has been a tribute to the entrepreneurial role models of today and tomorrow, honoring more than 450 businesswomen in 27 countries. Its impact is invaluable as the first and longest-running international award of its kind. Applauding their leadership, innovation,  and tenacity, the greatly desired Bold Woman Award provides women entrepreneurs like Claire and Zama a voice, a platform, and access to an inspiring global community. 

Jean-Marc Gallot, President of Veuve Clicquot. Attending the event for the first time in South Africa, Jean-Marc’s passion for empowering businesswomen through the Bold Programme is rooted in upholding the heritage and essence of the brand, and the legacy of Madame Clicquot said, “We recognize that South Africa’s female entrepreneurs are a national asset. Leading their industries bravely and ethically, women like Claire and Zama dare to be bold, creating better business practices and contributing to flourishing communities,” 

The award ceremony brought together leading businesswomen to network, connect, and engage in meaningful conversations around entrepreneurship. Inspiration permeated the evening with entertainment delivered by female pioneers including MC Jo-Ann Strauss, SA ballerina gone global Kitty Phetla who performed an afro-fusion style dance piece accompanied by pianist Kate Watson, and South Africa’s first female fighter jet pilot Major Mandisa Mfeka who shared a moving speech. Like the distinguished guests in attendance, these trailblazers have succeeded against the odds and continue inspiring a nation of daring women.

This year’s Bold Woman Award winner, Reel Gardening founder Claire Blanckenberg, has innovated the home food cultivation sector. Comprising a simple color-coded system of embedded seed tape, her patented Garden in a Box has revolutionized how family nutrition is approached, providing an estimated 48,100 households with food security. “When I embarked on this path there were very few female entrepreneurs to mentor me. Today, as one of those women, I hope to inspire others at the start of their journey,” she says. The Bold Woman Award winner, Claire will be hosted at Veuve Clicquot in Reims, France for an immersion in the history and tradition of the Maison. 

Providing specialist advice in a male-dominated industry, Bold Future Award winner Zama Ngcobo founded a boutique black female-led commercial law firm called WMN Attorneys Inc. Prioritising the progression of women and the youth, her growing law practice promotes a grass-roots approach to the development of legal practitioners. “I originally set out to create a safe space for young, black, female lawyers to thrive and am immensely proud to represent all those categories as the Bold Future Award winner,” she comments.

Promisingly, the 2023 Bold Barometer by Veuve Clicquot revealed that despite global economic challenges, the state of female entrepreneurship is improving in South Africa, with 61% of women surveyed being entrepreneurs – a figure on the rise since 2019. That said, most surveyed believe they should emulate men to succeed in

business. This last finding underscores the vital role of the Bold Programme by Veuve Clicquot, which not only recognizes these industry pioneers but also fortifies a sustainable future for businesswomen globally through impactful initiatives that inspire mentorship and collaboration.

Launching officially in South Africa at the award ceremony, Veuve Clicquot’s Bold Open Database of female entrepreneurs is free of cultural, geographical, and technological barriers. It aims to stimulate social and economic development. With the second largest number of registrations by country on the platform, South African women markedly seek to connect with fellow women role models. As such, female business leaders are invited to register at www.boldopendatabase.com and join an illustrious community of women who follow Madame Clicquot’s footsteps.